10 tips when shopping for the right REALTOR®

Once you go beyond casually browsing listings to making the leap into homeownership, you’ll want to get in touch with a REALTOR®. All REALTORS® are held to the same professional standards, but as with anything, you’re going to click with certain people better than others. Here are 10 questions to ask a REALTOR® to help you find the best fit for you.

1. What kind of communication can I expect?

No one likes feeling ignored, so finding a REALTOR® who meshes with your communication style is key. You want know how much time they’ll have for you and this can be determined by their response time to your calls, emails or texts.

It’s also good to ask how your REALTOR® prefers to communicate. Are they a texter? Emailer? Phone caller? Can you get in touch with them at any time or do they only operate within set working hours? All scenarios are valid, but you’ll want to find someone who operates the same way you do.

2. What’s your working style?

Some people prefer a go-getter who’s going to hit the ground running. They’ll push, negotiate, and hustle until you find exactly what you need. Others may take a softer, more relaxed approach and let you navigate slowly, while still advocating on behalf of you and your specific needs. Think of it like a speed boat down the river versus a leisurely paddle board. Both get you to the end, but they’re different levels of intensity. If you need your home sold fast because you’re being relocated for work, the long winding, scenic route may not be for you.

Remember, REALTORS® are given the tools they need to be adaptable. They’ll work with you to find the best system and style, but asking this question can help ensure you’re on the same page from the start.

3. Are you well-connected?

Can the REALTOR® provide referrals for home inspectors or structural engineers? Can they confidently recommend local roofers, plumbers or electricians with reliable track records?

This type of network can come in handy when it comes time to hire other professionals for your home buying experience, and can also help later down the line when it comes to renovating your home or making repairs. Most REALTORS® will have an address book of people to choose from, but if you’re buying a fixer-upper, a REALTOR® who has those specific connections might be a better fit for you.

4. How much do you know about renovating?

If you’re buying an older home or a place you’re planning on fixing up, having a REALTOR® who understands what needs to go into the project could work in your favour. What do they know about updating knob and tube wiring? What would it cost to replace windows or insulation with higher R-value? What are the permitting requirements in the neighbourhood?

While it’s unrealistic to expect a REALTOR® to provide a bang-on estimate for every whim you might have, they can be a guide and help flag potential issues a home inspector might catch to save headaches in the long run.

5. How are you involved in the community?

REALTORS® know their communities. Ask your agent about local festivals, neighbourhood associations, after-school programs, doctor’s offices, and even the best place to get a slice of pizza. Your REALTOR® should be able to help you find a neighbourhood that suits your needs, and they can provide support as you settle in after you buy.

Though they’re not obligated to do volunteer and charity work, many REALTORS® also pride themselves in giving back to the communities they live and work in. It can be important to some people to find a REALTOR® who matches their own personal community involvement, which is why asking this question may help lead you to the right REALTOR®.

6. Are you on social media?

Understanding how a REALTOR® uses social media (if at all) could give you added insight into how they operate, what they’re like, and even their approach to marketing.

7. What’s your professional area of expertise?

If you’re seeking a farm property or heritage home, both involve unique considerations. Finding a REALTOR® with rural experience can help you refine your search and provide you with educated answers surrounding land surveys, zoning, soil tests, wells and history of the land. Likewise, a REALTOR® with knowledge of century homes should have current information on local heritage committee grants, exterior renovation allowances, asbestos removal, or estimates for replacing boiler systems and radiators.

If you have specific needs, it can be helpful to understand the REALTORS® background and complementary skills. There are also additional REALTOR® designations to consider, ie. Military Relocation Professional, Senior Residential Appraiser, etc. Ask your potential REALTOR® about their designations, and how they might benefit you in your sale or purchase.

8. What sets you apart from everyone else?

REALTORS® have been known to drop flowers off on client’s doorsteps, or give a housewarming gift after a sale. The trusting relationship established during the homebuying process between a REALTOR® and their client often continues long after the sale.

9. Why did you become a REALTOR®?

The stories are as varied and colourful as the clients a REALTOR® engages with. Maybe they built and sold doll houses as a kid. Maybe it’s a generational career bloodline. For many, it’s a desire to help others and be an integral part of a life-changing, celebrated purchase. Find a story that resonates with you.

10. What else I should know about you?

Give your REALTOR® the chance to share their story. Maybe they have a personal connection to the town that you relate to. Maybe they did the same type of move as you (interprovincial, downsizing, etc) and can offer some first-hand knowledge.

It’s never too early to get in touch with a professional REALTOR®. Having an expert by your side while you’re browsing all the listings on REALTOR.ca or at www.winnipegregionalrealestatenews.com is the ultimate combination, and, if you have any questions at all, your REALTOR® is only a phone call, email or text away!

— Realtor.ca