Buying or selling a home is exciting, but it can also be a long process with a lot of steps to complete and decisions to be made. The size of the transaction and the importance of maximizing value often make things very stressful.
This is true for both first timers and those that have done it all before, which is why it’s no surprise that 89% of buyers and 88% of sellers surveyed in the 2021 OREA Home Buyers & Sellers Report said they would choose to use a real estate agent. An experienced and trustworthy agent can make all the difference, and we highly recommend not taking on this transaction alone.
Agents provide a lot of value, performing services like finding interested buyers, guiding their clients through the process of buying or selling and taking care of contract negotiations.
Here’s some of the biggest things your agent will help you with:
|Services provided by agents||% of those surveyed who found these services important|
|Found homes for sale or interested buyers||85%|
|Took care of the associated paperwork||82%|
|Created my listing including photography||82%|
|Handled contract negotiations||80%|
|Guided me through the buying or selling process||78%|
|Arranged open houses and private tours||77%|
|Provided legal advice and guidance||75%|
|Determined the listing price||75%|
|Organized a home inspection||74%|
|Arranged home staging||74%|
|Determined when to list my home||70%|
|Created print media ads for my listing||69%|
|Marketed my listing on social media||69%|
|Recommended home improvements||67%|
Source: Consumer Housing Trends Report
While most buyers and sellers find it hugely advantageous to use a real estate agent, almost 20% said it’s difficult to find the right real estate agent. On top of that, many of our clients said they felt unprepared and overwhelmed trying to find suitable agents and their previous search efforts did not deliver the agent they were looking for. That’s why we sat down with some of our top agents and their clients to discuss (and then share) how you can make sure you find the right real estate agent to handle your purchase or sale.
Where to search for a real estate agent
There are many ways to find the names of agents for your list such as word-of-mouth referrals, driving around your neighbourhood, searching on the internet or social media, and all sorts of advertising mediums (print, billboards, bus shelters, television etc.). The search process can be daunting and that is why we created Keasy, a service that helps you connect with the perfect agent.
The 2021 OREA Ontario Home Buyer & Seller Profile Report surveyed likely home buyers as to how they found or intend to find a real estate agent. The responses showed that referrals from family or friends are most common, followed by internet searches. Traditional advertising mediums such as billboards or print are becoming less important as marketing tools for agents. Use of social media as an agent search tool is also rising, especially with younger home buyers.
|How did you find an agent?||Total % of Responses|
|Referrals from family or friends||38%|
|Used the agent previously||15%|
|Traditional advertisements (billboard, bus shelter)||4%|
|Print media advertisement||3%|
Source: 2021 OREA Ontario Home Buyer & Seller Profile Report
Referrals from family or friends
Having someone you trust recommend an agent they had a good experience with is a great place to start. This is how the majority of people find their real estate agents but is not without it’s own pitfalls. For instance, every home is not alike, meaning that just because the agent of someone you know did a good job selling their home, doesn’t mean they are the most qualified to sell yours. It’s important to understand an agents experience and area of focus as it pertains to your transaction to ensure that they are best equipped to help you. Also make sure that any referral is given for the right reasons and not biased.
*Any agent Keasy selects for you will be chosen based on real data such as sales and experience buying or selling homes like yours.
Check out what the local housing market has to offer
Take a drive or a walk around the neighbourhood looking for real estate signs and any agents that have repeated signs on different houses. Many buyers and sellers find agents from a for sale sign or choose an agent they recognize from the community. This can be a great way to find an agent you know specializes in your type of home but you could run into conflict of interest issues where they’ve put their priorities into other properties and clients instead of yours.
Visit open houses
Hitting up nearby open houses to observe and speak to the agent is a great idea. You’ll be able to interact with the agent and get a feel for how they operate – don’t forget to grab a business card. Be aware that finding an agent through open houses can create some serious multiple representation issues and cause a conflict of interest. It can also be difficult to learn about when open houses are happening, often making this approach a bit of a time consuming hassle. Agents are typically very busy selling the home and may not have time to give you their full attention.
Use the internet to find agents
Heading online to check for real estate agents in your area can work very well. You can start with a Google search for “real estate agent near me” to find agents and brokerages serving your neighbourhood. LinkedIn is another good source to tap and leveraging social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram can work as well. Keep in mind that as with any situation where advertising or marketing is involved, it’s usually the agents who spend the most money who you’ll find the easiest. Most advertising dollars spent is not an indication of quality and you could easily end up missing out on a ton of better qualified agents in your area.
*Keasy recommends agents based on performance data and is not a paid advertising service. We take care of all the legwork to provide you with an unbiased and curated list of suitable agents. This way you can spend more time interviewing and less time searching.
Keep an eye out for advertisements
Take a drive anywhere in the city and you’ll likely see lots of billboards and bus stop advertisements for local real estate agents. Newspapers and magazines are also great places to find real estate agent ads. Make note of any that spark your interest so you can research and interview them later. This approach can be misleading because you’ll only find the agents that spend the most cash on advertising which is not a guarantee of success. Often agents with a lot of traffic like volume sales and may not give your property the focus it deserves.
How to research a real estate agent
Not all agents are created equal and there are a lot of factors you should consider before hiring someone to represent you. You’ll definitely want to do your due diligence which means that research is required.
There are a few ways to figure out if an agent is right for you such as interviewing them in person, visiting their franchise or brokerage (online or in-person), reading online reviews and social media or speaking with previous clients.
According to OREA data, the two main ways buyers research agents is by interviewing them in person and by looking for information about them online. The online research includes finding reviews and looking through their social media presence. Keasy is a great place to start for a quick and easy list of agents that suit your transaction.
|How do you research an agent?||Total % of Responses|
|Interview them in person||40%|
|Visit a franchise website (ReMax, Royal LePage, Century 21 etc.)||30%|
|Visit the agent’s brokerage website||27%|
|Ask to speak with past clients||22%|
|Ask about recent transactions||18%|
Research agents on the internet
Once your list has a few names on it it’s time to head online to do some research. You’ll be able to learn a lot about the agent from their online presence and you’ll likely find some reviews as well. Pay attention to what former clients say about them and how the agent responds to any negative reviews. Using the Keasy Unlock program to compare agents is a great way to find unbiased and data driven recommendations that fit.
Use Keasy to compare real estate agents
Another great way to gather information about a potential agent is to let us do the research for you. When using a real estate agent matching service like Keasy, buyers and sellers are matched with agents according to a wide range of criteria including two very important metrics – inventory and track record. Keasy utilizes updated Canadian real estate inventory and transaction history to find the best agents in your area who are ready to help bring your transaction to a successful conclusion.
Interview at least two agents
It’s important to choose wisely when hiring a real estate agent and that means shaking a few hands. Don’t hire the first agent you meet, instead speak with multiple agents so you can compare not only their skills and track record, but also how well you get along with them as a person. Treat it like a job interview and don’t feel bad for moving on to the next agent on your list if you’re not satisfied. The perfect agent is out there but it’s up to you to find them.
What to look for in a real estate agent
There are a lot of skills and traits a great real estate agents should have. At the top of the list are trustworthiness, experience and negotiation skills, but aspects of a more personal nature such as chemistry are important as well.
|Most important traits of an agent||Total % of responses|
|Negotiating skills (to help get the best deal)||28%|
|Experience & Track Record||25%|
|Local market knowledge||22%|
|Value for money (fees & commissions)||21%|
|Accessibility & availability||14%|
|Welcoming, accepting, inclusive||11%|
As promised, here’s the advice our panel put together to help you choose the right real estate agent. There is no order of importance here, just things to consider as you search for an agent.
Experience is only part of the picture
The best agent you can have is the one that is willing to go the extra distance for you. Don’t choose an agent based strictly on their experience because you also need someone you can relate to. A successful track record is important but newer agents can also be very successful if they are personable and good negotiators.
Look for referrals from past clients
The biggest compliment an agent can receive from a client is to be referred to someone they know. If a family member or friend you trust is recommending an agent, it’s well worth putting them on your shortlist.
Check an agents track record and inventory
Like with anything, time and experience help make a top real estate agent and that means closing transactions. Quality inventory isn’t gained overnight, it takes a great track record of successfully completed deals to attract the best homes on the market.
Find an agent who will look out for your best interests
This should go without saying but you’d be surprised how many buyers or sellers feel their agents were only looking out for their pocketbook. It’s important that you’re honest in your communications and transparent about what you expect from the transaction. If an agent isn’t showing you the right options, there’s a good chance they are trying to benefit themselves and don’t have your interests at heart.
Make sure you can trust your agent
This can be tough to gauge, but the best thing you can do is pay close attention to how an agent listens and responds to questions or issues. A great agent should be proactive in guiding you to the right solution, and not simply be reacting using the least amount of effort.
Does the agent have adequate support?
This isn’t a rule but agents who have a team to support them will be able to offer better customer service to their clients. The logistics behind buying or selling a home are complex, and most agents will have multiple clients at any given time. That’s why having support staff to handle some of the legwork will make a big difference ensuring nothing gets missed.
Is your agent truthful and realistic?
You’ll want your agent to be honest about the risks involved in buying or selling. Forget flattery or fluff and focus on an agent who uses real data to answer questions, perform analysis and plan your transaction.
An agent’s core values and communication are important
You and your agent need to be on the same page throughout your transaction. It’s beneficial if your values overlap and you should be comfortable exchanging ideas. Look for honesty, compassion and signs that they are passionate about real estate. You’ll be spending a lot of time with your agent so find someone you can relate to and who makes you feel valued.
Discuss how your agent will keep you in the loop, whether it’s through phone calls, text messages or emails. Make sure you don’t end up in a situation where you feel like you’re bothering your agent by asking for information.
Do you agree on the important details
The best start to a relationship with your agent happens when your expectations are clearly defined. This means coming to agreements early on regarding things like listing price, commission structure, contract length etc. and putting everything in writing. Sellers and their agent should also have an understanding regarding the selling strategy and marketing.
Consider using Keasy
At Keasy our mission is to connect home buyers and sellers with the best real estate agents. We utilize a large database of 130K+ agents and use a complex algorithm that analyzes millions of real estate transactions to significantly speed up the agent search process for buyers and sellers. Simply fill out our brief questionnaire and we’ll give you a curated shortlist of great agents curated that specialize in properties like yours. Keasy saves you time, hassle and helps empower you to take control of your real estate experience.