The process of buying or selling property can be both thrilling and exhausting. To help make things easier, you can call upon a licensed real-estate broker to help you. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, there are more than 100,000 active agents on the market. How do you choose the right real-estate broker? Here’s some advice to help you make an informed decision.
There are two major categories of licensed real-estate brokers: seller’s agents and buyer’s agents. As you may guess, seller’s agents will help you put your property on the market. They take care of all the related formalities, like taking photos and videos, and signing up to an online platform to maximize your property’s visibility. Most importantly, they help you determine the right price by evaluating homes that have been inspected in your neighbourhood.
While seller’s agents aren’t appraisers by trade, they can help you settle on a reasonable price depending on comparable properties on the market. As for buyer’s agents, they help buyers look for a property and take care of scheduling visits. Their role is crucial when the time comes to negotiate the purchase price.
“Whether you’re dealing with a seller’s or buyer’s agent, these are professionals who can guide you in all the decisions you have to make,” explains Martin Lepage, Assistant Vice President, Residential Financing at National Bank. “They can provide you with the history of the home you’re interested in, as well as give you access to properties before they’re listed publicly. Both types of agents often collaborate and work in tandem.”
“In any case, the real-estate broker will help you understand each step of the selling and buying process, especially as it relates to the offer to purchase. Oftentimes, they’re comfortable talking about some of the notions surrounding mortgage loans and will be able to direct you to the right resources, like your National Bank mortgage advisor. When you’re ready to sell, they’ll help you with the ‘declarations of the seller’ form. If you’re in the process of buying, they will draft your offer to purchase and explain what that is.”
“A real-estate broker has a large network of clients and professionals,” the expert points out. “A trustworthy network facilitates the sale and purchase of a property. They will be able to introduce you to all the people who can help you in this transaction, like a notary, a lawyer, a land surveyor, a tax expert, an inspector and a certified appraiser.”
1. Seek out someone you can trust
Whether you’re looking for a condo, a multi-unit residence or a cottage, one thing’s for sure: you’ll probably be spending a lot of time with the broker you’ll have chosen. And since the whole thing is an emotional process, make sure that you get along and that you can trust them from the very beginning.
2. Look for a professional who knows the neighbourhood
Work with a professional who lives near the property or the neighbourhood you’re interested in. They’ll be able to share their thoughts on the neighbourhood’s market.
3. Use your network
Feel free to ask your friends and family for recommendations. They know you and can point you towards a trustworthy broker. National Bank advisors also have a large network of contacts. Feel free to ask them for help.
4. Choose a broker that matches your goals
“Some brokers work part-time, and others are full-time,” Martin Lepage explains. “If you’re in a rush to sell or buy, it may be a good idea to choose someone who has more time or who can devote a lot of time to you.”
5. Ask your potential broker some questions
Do you have a potential broker in mind? Ask them some questions. What are their specialities? Their experience? Their statistics in terms of transactions? Nothing’s stopping you from meeting with more than one agent and seeing who’s a better fit.
6. Talk about the sales commission for your property
“Note that their commission if a sale is completed can be negotiated beforehand,” Martin Lepage advises. “It isn’t always guaranteed to be negotiable, but you can try with some brokers. But keep in mind that there’s often a minimum threshold set by the organization they work for. In fact, we strongly recommend focusing on the professional’s expertise and the reliability of their network, rather than making a decision based on the potential cost of a commission.”
7. Verify the broker’s experience
Be diligent and do some research. Does your favourite broker have disciplinary notices or suspensions listed in their file? There are many organizations that regulate and support the real-estate brokerage practice, like the Autorité des marchés financiers in Quebec, and the Real Estate Council of Ontario. Feel free to give them a call to check up on important details.
In Montreal and in other major Canadian cities, it may be more difficult to visit properties due to social distancing measures. Some people are more wary of putting their home up for sale; as a result, the pool of available homes has become smaller. That being said, many residential real-estate brokers offer virtual visits. Some even propose offers that are conditional to an eventual in-person visit.
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