Buying or selling a home can be really exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. It’s important to have a professional by your side who can guide you through the process and ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Sometimes, however, finding the right real estate professional can feel just as difficult as finding the right property or buyer.
Here are a few things to look for if you’re on the search for a real estate agent or REALTOR® in British Columbia.
The proper licensing
Let’s start with the basics. Whoever you enlist to help you buy or sell your home should have the proper real estate licensing in B.C.
Your agent should at least be licensed under the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC). Better yet, search for a REALTOR®, who are also members of the governing real estate board for that area. You can learn more about the differences between the two here.
Positive referrals, references and reviews
If you have someone in mind, do your homework to make sure they’d be a good fit.
Do you know anyone who has worked with them before? Many agents and REALTORS® rely on word of mouth, and a positive testimonial from someone you trust can go a long way. What do their online reviews say? Are they willing to provide any references?
While referrals, reviews and references can be super helpful, it’s also important to take them with a grain of salt. Just because your friend had a great experience with a certain agent or REALTOR®, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right fit for you. If you have a great connection with a real estate professional, you may not want to cross them off your list for simply not having as many referrals or good reviews as another.
The right expertise
To help narrow down your list of options, look for someone who can handle your specific situation with confidence. That includes your neighbourhood and price range, as well as the type of transaction you’re looking to make — first time homebuyer, investment property, residential, commercial, rural, and so on.
Many agents and REALTORS® have more than one specialty, so keep an open mind. But if you hire someone who specializes in large commercial properties in the city, and you’re looking for a small house out in the country, it might not be the best fit.
Time and commitment
Real estate transactions can take a lot of time and work. Make sure that the person you choose is able to make you a priority and that they haven’t taken too much on their plate.
Is this their full time gig? Do they work for a brokerage that offers them support? Is their current portfolio maxed out? Have an open conversation with the agent and discuss expectations regarding time.
Aligned expectations for communication
Speaking of expectations, this is another one to discuss. You’ll probably be communicating and possibly meeting with your agent quite a bit, so it’s important to make sure that their communication style and schedule aligns with yours.
If you’re looking to buy, when are they able to show you homes? If you’re selling, when are they able to host open houses? Do they prefer to communicate via phone, email, text, or are they flexible? Most REALTORS® will adapt to your desired communication vehicle of choice.
Find someone who is honest and realistic, and is just as comfortable discussing the potential risks and challenges as they are the possibilities. If it seems like their promises are too good to be true, or they use ‘fluffy’ language and avoid getting into the nitty gritty details, it may be time for a second opinion.
A fair contract
It’s always smart to review contracts before signing anything, and the same goes for the one between yourself and your real estate professional. If you are selling a property, then one item that should be outlined in the contract is the proposed commission, which is typically split between the buying and selling agent (homebuyers often don’t have to pay any commission — just one of the many benefits of working with a REALTOR® when buying a home!)
Commissions typically fall around the 6% mark — be aware of anything that falls far above or below this number. While a low commission may seem attractive, it's important to remember that this percentage is being split with the buying agent, so you would want to make it worth everyone’s time to maximize the potential exposure to your property.
The right listing price
When looking for a REALTOR®, ask what they would list your home for. Because this number should be based off of market data, they should all be fairly similar. Be leery of outliers — pricing the home too high can turn buyers off and lead to missed opportunities, but if the home is priced too low then you may not get the return you deserve.
Last but definitely not least, make sure you have a connection. Don’t be afraid to conduct a few interviews with different real estate professionals and ask questions about their experience, qualifications and how they like to work. And even more importantly, notice whether or not they care to get to know you back.
Someone could be one of the most experienced and highly recommended real estate professionals in the area, but if you don’t seem to gel, it just may not be a good fit. Everyone likes to work differently and has different needs, and with so many excellent REALTORS® in B.C., you’re sure to find one that you connect with!