How to find an agent to represent you


by Duncan Fremlin
I’ve had the privilege of working side-by-side and across the table with hundreds of my fellow REALTORS® these past 25-plus years, and have learned everything about being a successful REALTOR® from them. By watching and listening, I’ve learned what to do and say, what not to do and say, how to act and how not to act.  I know what it takes for agents to maintain a high level of professionalism in their day-to-day affairs and have witnessed how this can be of a great benefit to their clients. 
So if I can for a moment don the hat of a buyer or seller, this is what I would do to find the best REALTOR® to represent me in a real estate transaction.
The first thing would be to ask for a recommendation from a friend or neighbour I trust, preferably someone who recently bought or sold. The industry changes almost daily, so a recent success story has more value than a five-year-old one.
I would Google the candidate and explore the links with rigour. I know that most agents Google their clients, so here’s a “right back at ya” moment. 
After studying their online brand and presentation material, before I would sign anything, I’d ask myself the following:
Do they spend generously on their marketing and presentation? Is their marketing material professional and of the highest quality? Do they present themselves and, more importantly, the houses they sell  in the most professional way? In short, do they spend the money necessary to sell a house or condo for the highest dollar?
Are they forthcoming with information about the process of buying or selling? Do they provide current “evidence” — a comparative market analysis to support the price of a home I’m buying or selling? People can choose to use this data or not. It is, however, important that it be available.
Are they involved in the community, in the city? It’s no surprise that the agents who are the most engaged in the world around them have more knowledge about what’s going on in the marketplace. 
Are they consistent? Do they offer the same service to the $300,000 condo owner that they do to the $2-million homeowner?
Is their focus on themselves (“look at the awards I’ve won”) or their service? 
Are they punctual? Do they do what they say they will do?
After sorting through this maze of information, I’m sure I’d settle on the REALTOR® who simply felt right, someone I liked. REALTORS® aren’t like many other service providers who visit the house for an hour or so to fix something. Both the buying and selling process can involve spending a lot of time together. It helps a great deal if everyone enjoys each other’s company.
(Duncan Fremlin is a broker with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty in downtown Toronto.)