To find the real estate agent who is helping us buy a new home, I followed specific steps that worked like a dream! If you’re in the market for a new home, these tips for picking a great realtor will help you find someone who will not only work hard for you, but who you’ll love working with…
Before the tips, a quip from our real estate agent:
“Even if you had millions of dollars to spend on a new house, you’d probably still have to compromise on something,” said Cyndee Konoff, of Angell & Hasman Associates in West Vancouver, BC.
This was one of many helpful tips she gave us about buying a new home, and it helped me realize that having more money won’t make the decision easier, and we don’t necessarily need to scour the earth for the exact perfect house. All homes have pros and cons…the trick is knowing which pros and cons you can live with.
If you’re in the market for a new home and need a mortgage, read Mortgage Ripoffs and Money Savers: An Industry Insider Explains How to Save Thousands on Your Mortgage or Re-Finance – it’ll help you get the best rates. And, here are a few tips for finding the best realtor to represent you…
How to Find a Great Real Estate Agent
Konoff is the realtor who will represent us when we buy a new home; we have a different realtor – a listing agent – to sell the house we live in (I’ll write an article about finding an agent to help you sell your home soon). Most people use the same realtor for both buying and selling houses, but we live on an island and that changes everything!
If you need to find a real estate agent to help you buy a new house…
Ask Google for the top selling real estate agents in your city. I searched Google for the “busiest real estate agents in Vancouver”, the “top selling realtors in West Van”, and the “most popular real estate agents in BC.” Several realtors’ names came up several times, indicating they may be good choices.
Email a dozen or so potential realtors, and ask for information. Before I met Konoff in person, I emailed a dozen real estate agents the same question: “We need to move next month, and we’re looking for a home with a view, in the million dollar range. What can you show us?” At the time, I was in Toronto for a convention and didn’t have time to look on MLS (“Multiple Listing Service”, on which real estate agents list homes for sale). I needed a realtor to send me a list of at least a dozen homes that suited our needs. Konoff acknowledged my email immediately, and sent me the listings a few hours later. Perfect!
Weed out the real estate agents who can’t or don’t help you. I received a range of responses to my email: a couple realtors sent me the link to MLS (I could’ve done that myself), another asked me to hold off until he gets back from vacation in two weeks (sorry, but when I say I need to move next month, I mean I need a house now!), and another suggested we meet for coffee to discuss my housing needs (who has time for coffee??). Several real estate agents did send me listings that were comparable to Konoff’s…but she beat them to it. I thanked all the realtors who responded to my original email with a “Thanks, but I found the realtor I was looking for” email (which was surprisingly difficult, by the way! I felt bad).
Ask the realtor to line up houses for you to see. I love that Konoff organizes and drives us to the houses we want to see. She calls the listing agents and arranges for them to be at the house when we’re there. She drives us to the homes (in her gorgeous silver BMW!), which frees us from worrying about maps and driving. Instead, we can focus on the neighborhood, roads, bus routes, nearby parks, etc. If you’re looking for a real estate agent, make sure he or she is willing and able to plan and engineer the details.
Make sure your real estate agent connects with you on a “human” level. We’re considering buying a more expensive home than we originally planned. When I told Konoff this (it was our idea, not hers!), she reminded me of the whole “house-rich, cash-poor” scenario – and said that we don’t want to be so strapped for cash that we can’t afford to go out for dinner occasionally. That wasn’t what I expected from a real estate agent – because after all, the more we spend on a house, the higher her commission is! Pay attention to details like that when you’re looking for a realtor, because it’s those details that separate the good from the great real estate agents.
Quick Tips – A Great Real Estate Agent:
- Lets you take as much time as you need to explore a house.
- Admits when he or she doesn’t know something, and finds out the answer for you.
- Follows up on what he or she promises (eg, if he says he’ll call the neighbors to find out about that barking dog, then he needs to do it).
- Returns your phone calls or emails within a few hours.
- Is honest about both the strengths and the weaknesses of the homes you’re viewing.
- Helps you differentiate between buying property for investment purposes, and buying a home to live in.
- Has a solid, professional working relationship with other realtors.
- Doesn’t criticize or gossip about other real estage agents – but is honest and straightforward (a tough balance!).
If you have any questions or thoughts on these tips for finding a great real estate agent, please comment below…
And if you’re buying your first house, you might find 8 Financial Tips for the First Time Home Buyer – Credit Reports and Mortgage Loans helpful.