17 Apr The Top 10 Things to Know About the Client/Real Estate Agent Relationship
You’ve decided to buy a home or sell your current home. Now you need the assistance of an experienced real estate professional to help guide you through the process. This can be a stressful time, after all it is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make in your life. But picking the right agent can help guide you through the turbulent highs and lows of selling or buying a home.
How do you pick the right person for you?
I’ve put together a list of the top 10 things you should be asking your real estate agent before and during the process of buying and selling your home.
- Be picky. Do not pick a real estate agent simply because you see his or her ads all over bus benches or because they were the first one to call you back. Shop around and interview a few agents over the phone. In Alberta, you can verify a real estate agent’s license by entering their name and city here. Once you sign onto a client/agent relationship, that contract is difficult to break.
Ask how many years of experience they have and their knowledge of the local area. Experienced agents, who know the local market are your safest bet. To verify this, ask them for a copy of the agent’s production record which will show:
- The number of homes the agent has sold each year
- How much the homes sold for
- Where the homes were located
Depending on the market, a successful agent typically sells one home every month.
- Avoid the over-promise and under-deliver. If your real estate agent agrees with all your ideas, this could be a bad sign. For example, when discussing the pricing of your home, if the agent simply lists your property for the price you asked for, watch out. You should ask the real estate agent’s advice on pricing and insist that your agent produces market research that supports how he/she arrived at that number.
- Ask for referrals. Ask your real estate agent to give you a list of referrals from clients they have worked with in the past. Ask for permission to chat with them about their experience.
- Do they listen to your needs? For buyers, you should convey to your real estate agent how much you wish to spend, where you are looking to buy, and whether you have a timeframe. Make sure to keep your real estate agent in the loop should your priorities change. For sellers, tell your real estate agent if you have timeline for selling your home because this impacts how the home should be priced and how it will be marketed.
Your agent should have strong listening and communication skills. To assess if they have a clear understanding of your needs, ask the real estate agent to repeat it back to you. If your agent does not appear to understand what your goals are, you should hire someone else.
- What is their marketing strategy? Real estate agents should be using all the marketing tools at their disposal to find the home of your dreams or market your home to buyers. Sellers, you should expect your real estate agent to take good photos, write thorough descriptions, and to distribute the listing online, in local newspapers, and if appropriate, in flyers mailed to homes. Buyers and sellers should ask key questions to determine how the agent intends to achieve the client’s goals.
Buyers should ask:
- What tools will you use to find my home?
- On average, how many homes will you show me before I decide?
- If there are multiple offers on the home I want, how will you handle this?
Sellers should ask:
- How exactly will you be selling my home?
- Will you arrange an open house?
- Where do you advertise and how often?
- Will you be marketing my house online? (Typically, homes are listed on the Multiple Listing Service System (MLS))
- Will you be using direct mail campaigns?
- Do you offer professional photography?
- Can you cancel your agreement? Before signing on to have your real estate agent represent you, ask them to point out the cancellation rights in the contract before the agreement expires. Make sure that you reserve the right to cancel the agreement before your contract expires if you are unsatisfied with the arrangement.
- Read the fine print. Real estate transactions come with a lot of paperwork and deadlines. Ask your agent for all the legal documents and forms upfront so you can review them ahead of time before signing. Make sure all the conditions are included in your real estate purchase contract. For buyers, it is common to include conditions that state that your offer is contingent upon obtaining certain things such as financing and a home inspection. For a peace of mind, click here to contact our real estate lawyers at Kahane Law Office. We can help you review your real estate contract.
- Avoid the pressure. Real estate agents, like lawyers and doctors, have fiduciary duties to their clients. The agent is legally required to perform certain obligations that are in your best interests. Real estate agents must fully disclose any conflict of interest. Despite this, sometimes, real estate agents push buyers to purchase a certain home over another. If agents sell a buyer a home that they are currently listing, it can mean more commission for your agent. Most real estate agents know their duty to you, but like any industry, you need to know you have someone who has your back. Your agent should disclose any important information about a property that could influence your purchasing decision.
- How much? Different real estate agents will charge different fees, but remember, all real estate fees are negotiable. The level of service provided is also negotiable. To avoid any future disagreements about the real estate agent’s fees, you should ask questions before signing a contract with your agent.
- Keep the lines of communication open. It is important to ensure that you are communicating with your real estate agent throughout the process. A common complaint sellers report is that communication with their real estate agent dwindles the longer the home sits on the market. The client is left in the dark about why their house is not selling, meanwhile, their property may smell like dogs, be too dark, or have other issues the seller has not discovered. If a few weeks go by and your real estate agent has still not found a seller, you should reach out to your real estate agent and ask what feedback they have received from real estate agents representing the buyers and what other efforts they have made to sell your home. Your real estate agent should be updating you on the state of the market, giving you advance notice on scheduled showings, providing you feedback received from viewings and inform you of any offers.
For buyers, your agent should tell you about any new homes on the market that match your criteria and arranging mutually convenient times for viewings.
Questions on your Real Estate Transaction? Give Us a Call.
At Kahane Law, we have a team of highly experienced Calgary based lawyers and paralegals who will be able to facilitate residential and commercial real estate transactions. Form the initial stages of real estate contract drafting through to possession, we can help you every step of the way. For clients who wish to refinance an existing mortgage, we can expedite the process to make sure you receive funds in a timely manner. We charge a flat rate fee and have no hidden fees. In Calgary, Alberta? Connect today at 403-225-8810. We can also be reached toll-free at 1-877-225-8817 or email us here directly.