You may want to read the previous chapter on planning your home sale in Toronto here.
Your Realtor® will have a big influence over the selling process and the success of the transaction. It is definitely worth taking the time to select your agent carefully.
A good real estate agent should have his or her finger on the pulse of the city, track (and take active part in) real estate trends, share in the concerns of the neighbourhoods she or he serves, and even participate in local matters. Your agent should definitely have a passion for working with people in the community and helping families not only buy and sell their homes, but achieve their dreams. That’s really what makes a good agent; but we provide some more concrete tips below.
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How to Find Your Real Estate Agent
Here are things to keep in mind that will help you find the best agent for you:
- Know precisely what services you will need from your agent: Read on to find out what you can expect your Realtor® to do for you when selling your home.
- If you have the time, interview multiple agents from multiple firms. Ask about their background, list of services, marketing strategies, access to resources and success rates. To complete the picture, you should inquire about each agent’s commissions.
- Choose someone familiar with and established in your neighbourhood. Your agent’s experience and reputation can help you strengthen your position in preparing your house for presentation to buyers and in price negotiations.
Don’t worry, after one or two meetings with real estate agents in your area, the home selling process will be much clearer to you!
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What Can a Realtor® Do for You?
Though there are certain industry standards in real estate, every real estate agent has a slightly different portfolio of services he or she offers to clients. Before you make your choice, you should know exactly which services your Realtor® is able to offer you, and what her or his strengths are. For those reasons, we have compiled an illustrative list of services you might expect your real estate agent to deliver. If you can think of any exotic ones, please leave us a note in the comments!
You agent may help you:
- list your house on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS),
- find and contact repair professionals and handymen for your maintenance tasks,
- arrange your home inspection so that you have all the necessary documentation and information that buyers might ask for,
- stage, style or ‘fluff’ your house before open houses and showings begin,
- represent you and your home to potential buyers when you are out of town,
- market your home effectively to reach a high number of qualified buyers,
- modify the marketing plan to reflect buyer reactions and changes in the marketplace if needed,
- keep you informed as expressions of interest (offers) are received,
- negotiate a good deal with the buyer or the buyer’s agent,
- advise you on your sale and purchase financing options or refer you to a reliable lender or mortgage professional,
- recommend a quality real estate lawyer,
- understand the tax issues involved in the transaction and advise you of your tax burden,
- craft the sales contract (Agreement of Purchase and Sale) and other supporting documentation,
- perform and oversee the closing operations,
- find a good buyer’s agent for you if you are moving to a distant location.
If you expect any or all of these services, make sure right from the start that your agent can provide them easily!
Going it Alone (FSBO)
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If you aren’t convinced that a professional is needed to sell your home, you could use any one of a number of specialist websites that have sprung up that help people sell property for a one-off fee, often well under $1,000 compared to thousands in agent commissions. This is basically private selling with more information and tips, and wider access to a target audience. Hence the name “For Sale by Owner”, or FSBO.
In a private sale, you avoid paying commissions because you are doing all the work, including advertising and dealing with would-be buyers directly. You can advertise in your local newspapers and/or use the internet. In deciding whether to go the FSBO route, you must figure out whether your time could be spent better, and whether an experienced Realtor® could yield better results.
If you can easily earn back an agent’s commission while not spending time dealing with the sale on your own, an agent is definitely worth it. Therefore, consider going FSBO only if you have plenty of free time on your hands and content with reaching a smaller audience of home buyers.
Selling your home is, generally speaking, far more complicated than selling your laptop. Finding a potential buyer is only the beginning. The buyers will want to come see the property and you will likely need to contact an experienced Realtor® to actually prepare contracts, negotiate, and close the deal. You can also expect that if you buyer is not represented by a Realtor®, he or she will probably be pretty unsophisticated and inexperienced. This may cause issues later in the process.
But if the buyer is represented, then you have to deal with a professional during the purchase negotiations – something you may not be well-equipped or knowledgeable enough to do. What happens when terminology starts getting tossed around that you don’t even understand? You may have to pause all the proceedings to consult a real estate lawyer – and your prospective buyer may get frustrated and walk away from the table.
Realtors® have much better channels for spreading the word about your home than you do. An FSBO property gets very little market exposure and thus you may net fewer competitive buyer offers. Since you’re too familiar with your own home, you will also tend to overprice it. Buyers will be reluctant to talk as openly about the home with you as they would speak with a more neutral third-party agent.
You wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself. Do yourself a favour and get a Realtor®.
Now that you know more about real estate agent services, learn how to work with a Toronto Realtor®.
If you find this guide helpful and want to read about more tips, sign up and get the Pdf printable version of our Free Report on Buying and Selling Your First Home in Toronto!