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As a Home Buyer, Questions You May Want To Ask Before Hiring Any Real Estate Representative

 How To Choose a Real Estate Agent in London, Ontario

     If you’re in the market to purchase or sell a home in London, Ontario, and the area, your decision to buy a home involves more than looking at two or three homes, making an offer, and moving in. Hiring the wrong Realtor® can mean the difference between making and losing money, selling or buying quickly…or taking a long time, a trouble-free transaction, or a living nightmare.

confused man trying to choose a Realtor in London Ontario

      Unless you have experience interviewing people (and real estate salespeople), you won’t always know what questions to ask.  Further, you won’t always know what answer will best suit your needs for buying or selling.  Here are questions you may want to ask any real estate person and some essential things to know.

Question #1: How Long Have You Been Involved Real Estate?

     This question will reveal more than just years as a Realtor. You want to delve down into the number of transactions, average price range, specialized areas and types of homes they’ve purchased or sold.  You also want to know how productive they’ve been each year in practice. Some Realtors® in business with less than five years may have more experience than other agents with ten years or more! Sometimes experience is like fashion, it changes! You want to know how many brokers they’ve worked for and what kind of experience they have that will apply directly to your real estate situation. Did you catch me not using the phrase “practising in real estate”? You don’t want anyone practising with your hard-earned money!

Question #2: What Qualifications Do You Have To Sell Real Estate?

      This question looks at their overall commitment and dedication to building their skills.  They may not commit to your needs and satisfaction if they’re unwilling to commit to improving themselves. How often do they invest in improving their skills and keeping up with technology and other industry trends? Experience should also carry over to negotiating and financial skills.  And don’t forget the ancillary experience required for real estate.

Question #3: Tell Me About Your Personal Real Estate Operation?                        

          This open-ended question is designed to get your Realtor® talking about their business.  You want to know how much they’ve invested into their business regarding giving you competent and quality service.  This open-ended question is designed to get your Realtor® talking about their business.  For example, do they have a personal or company website? Here’s what you’re looking for:  The more a Realtor® invests in their success, office, and systems, the more they can commit to you, Are you part-time? Successful Realtors®do does not need to supplement their income.  

Question #4: Can You Give Me A List Of Client References, Referrals, & Testimonials?

            A  Realtor® who doesn’t accumulate a list of satisfied references either doesn’t do much business, or isn’t providing the kind of service or follow-through you need.  References don’t always need to be past clients.  Get professional references as well:  bankers, mortgage lenders, appraisers, lawyers, etc.

does your realtor in London have testimonials

Question #5: Do You Have a Buyer System?

Does your Realtor® have a Buyer Program that educates you with up-to-date buyer strategies and is actively proactive in finding you a home? I can’t tell you how often buyers contact me through one of my listings wanting to see a property or get information. I ask them why their Realtor® hasn’t made the call or appointment, and they say they haven’t talked to their Realtor® in a week or haven’t been able to get a hold of them for a few days!

Question #6: What Systems Do You Have For Tracking The Home Market (Buyers) On A Regular Basis?

     This is a fundamental question.  As a buyer, you want to know their competence in understanding the values of specific areas.  They also need systems to keep you continually up-to-date with opportunities in the market.  You want them to have more than “access to Multiple Listing Service.”  How often do they preview homes in your price range or desired area?  How often do they talk to neighbours or participate in other activities in those areas?

     If an agent does not have specific systems for measuring and reporting these items, consider someone else.

Question #7: Do You Guarantee Your Performance?

          Some Realtors®will give you a blank stare at this question.  If they do, you might want to consider taking your business elsewhere.  Why?  Because you need to know if your interests are aligned.  Is your Realtor® willing to stake their successful outcome with yours? Why shouldn’t your Realtor® also guarantee their performance? 

            Truly professional Realtors®guarantee their services for two reasons: 1) They’re confident they can perform for you because of their experience, commitment, and work ethic; and 2) it’s the only way they do business! If you buy a television, it’s guaranteed.  If you buy a car, it’s guaranteed. 

Question #8:  Can You Refer Me To A Reputable Mortgage Lender, Banker, Appraiser, or Real Estate Lawyer?

          This question reveals how active the Realtor® is, and how well connected they are professionally.  At some point in the buying or selling process, you will need the services of a reputable, competent lender, appraiser, lawyer, etc.  If your Realtor® is active, committed, and diligent with their practice, he or she will be able to give you a few names of each right on the spot.

Question #9: What Percentage Of Your Business Comes By Referral?

          Here’s the $64,000 question!”  Competent, well-known sales professionals get a large part of their business from satisfied past clients and members of their sphere of influence. 

If a Realtor® gets less than 75% of new business through referrals, it may be because:  1) The quality of service they offer is not up to standard (hence, people don’t feel compelled to refer to them after a transaction); 2) They lack the marketing experience or skills required to market for referrals (which means they may not bring strong skills to your transaction); or 3) They don’t cultivate contacts in their business (which means they won’t have many people to speak with about your home).

      Clearly, the best way past clients show their gratitude for outstanding service is by referring their family, friends, and associates.

Referrals and testimonials tell you how active a realtor is in London, Ontario
Referrals and testimonials tell you how active a realtor is in London, Ontario

Question #10:  How Many People Do You Speak With Each Day About Real Estate?

          This question will tell you how connected a Realtor® is and how active they’ll “talk up” your home to buyers or find a home for you by talking to other Realtors, Bankers, Lawyers and anyone with clients that may be moving—hopefully, your Realtor® talks to at least 20 people a day about real estate, and if not, they may not be very active.

Ty talking on his phone with a client

Question #11:  Will You Personally Handle Contract Negotiations For Us?

          Surprisingly, many Realtors® submit or receive offers and act as a conduit between you and the buyer (or seller). Or, you or their assistant is passed down to some inexperienced new agent. That’s not good enough.  You want someone with above-average negotiation skills and someone who’s committed to your interests.  They’ll need to represent you to the other Realtors®buyers and sellers.  It’s a good idea to follow up on the above question by investigating how their negotiation skills saved other clients money, hassles or helped a trade come together.

There Are “Real Estate Agents,”… And Then There Are Committed Professionals.

Which One Do YOU Want Representing Your Interests?

  The answers to the above questions should give you a good feel for the commitment and competency of the Realtor® you’re thinking about using.  There’s a difference between who Realtors® simply sell real estate, and those who commit to what it takes to serve clients and help them buy or sell a home properly.

 Buying and selling real estate can be stressful for you and your family, and selecting the wrong Realtor® lawyer, home inspector, or lender can cost you a lot of money, headaches, and wasted time. 

choose the right Realtor for you

                                           A Few More Considerations

Why should I work with just one salesperson? Why don’t I do it myself, go to Open Houses, and use the listing agent because it will be cheaper, and I can make my deal” These thoughts go through many buyers’ minds. All rational thoughts, but do not lose the perspective of why you are buying a home in the first place. Thinking that you will get a better deal by working with the listing agent is invalid in about 94% of cases!  Lawyers cannot act for both parties; why do you think that is? So why can buyers and sellers use the same Realtor®? Who is protecting whom?

Avoid Dual Agency if at all possible and if you find a home on your own, know that the Realtor® represents the seller, not you! Yes, it’s true.  And the question you have to ask yourself is… “Is this person going to represent my interests?” Think about this: If you had to go to court, would you use the same lawyer the opposing side was using?  I think you know the answer!  A buyer’s representative doesn’t cost you a nickel more than any other REALTOR®.  Even though they represent you, they’re still paid out of the standard commission…

  • Buyer representation will support your interests only.  This includes finding your home, helping with financing, and negotiating the best possible terms for you. A buyer’s representative will keep everything about you and your deal confidential! 
  • A good Realtor® knows the area you want to buy in because he/she is out constantly looking at homes.
  • A good Realtor® can spot trouble for you.  He or she will be experienced at looking at homes and will see things you might not see. 
  • A good Realtor® will greatly simplify the buying process.
  • A good Realtor® will give you motivated, reliable financing sources and options.
  • A good Realtor® will refer you to proven inspectors, lawyers and accountants and other service providers you’ll need.

     What does it cost as a buyer to use a real estate salesperson?

The compensation that a Realtor® receives typically comes from the seller’s proceeds. In other words, there is no cost for a buyer to use a Realtor® in the traditional agent/buyer relationship.

When you bought your house in London Ontario, did you understand how your Realtor was paid?

 “Can my sales representative give me information regarding properties from other companies?”

Yes, if that other company is a member of Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – which most real estate companies are? For Sale by Owner (FSBO), properties are not listed on MLS, so a Realtor® likely could not provide information regarding them. However, a good Realtor® will contact that FSBO (because he/she works for you!)

“What about new homes?”

Again, a good Realtor® can take you through the homes you have selected and negotiate on your behalf.

“What if I find a property of my own?”

You should contact your Realtor® and not the property owner or the REALTOR® listing the property.

“Can I go to open houses without my REALTOR®?”

Yes, but make sure that that you indicate that you are working with someone already. This will prevent unwanted follow up calls or pressure from other Realtor®’s.

“How do I find out about new properties?”

Depending on your preference and urgency, a good Realtor® will email or call with new listings that match your criteria. As well, a good agent with a great network of contacts will know about properties that may be available soon, but not yet on the market.

“When I find the right property, then what?”

A very good Realtor® will do the following:

  • Make a comparison of the area to see that the price is consistent with the other comparable homes and decide on what price you should offer.
  • Prepare an offer that you FULLY UNDERSTAND and add clauses that will protect you, such as Financing clause: Home Inspection Clause: Insurance clause: Agency Relationship (who the agents represent) and other clauses that will protect your investment and make your home-buying experience a pleasant one.
  • Present the offer, and if the offer is countered back, work with you and the seller to arrive at a satisfactory arrangement.
  • Be present at the home inspection
  • Follow up with all waivers and assist your lawyer with any required information.
  • Do a final walk-through with you BEFORE you sign any legal papers!
  • Be available AFTER CLOSING to assist you with any unforeseen problems or questions.

Well, that’s it, I hope that by reading the above pages you now understand the process better and why it is very important for you and your family that you choose the best Realtor® for you and you do so wisely!

Thank you again for reading this report. Your time invested in reading this topic will return your time tenfold and your home purchase simpler!

Ty Lacroix Broker and Michael Theisen Sales Representative are with The Envelope Real Estate Group
Ty Lacroix Broker and Michael Theisen Sales Representative are with The Envelope Real Estate Group
The Envelope Real Estate Group
The Envelope Real Estate Group
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