Are you thinking of buying or selling your house Here's how to choose the right real estate broker to support you through this important process.
Why use a real estate broker
Sellers have never been more well-equipped to sell their homes themselves, and buyers are easily able to independently enter search criteria and navigate through the homes available. There are, however, two things these new platforms are unable to provide: time and a network.
Putting together an offer to sell, coordinating visits, negotiating… Keeping track of new postings, checking to see if they're of interest, planning out an itinerary to visit them all… All these steps take time and require near-immediate reaction timing in a hot market. Is it realistic to think you'll have this much time to devote to buying or selling a house, while still balancing all the demands of your work and personal life
Working with a real estate broker also means you'll benefit from the power of their professional network (as well as their knowledge of the market, negotiation expertise…). Social networks have done much to multiply the channels and volume of distribution, but above all the message needs to circulate among the right people to spread. Your broker may have a colleague who's just signed a duplex for sale that exactly meets your criteria, in the neighbourhood you're looking at. In a case like this, the property might just sell before it's even officially been listed!
How to find the right broker
Marc Lacasse, Vice President of Communications at RE/MAX Québec, suggests first getting references, for example from family, colleagues and friends. Nothing beats a credible recommendation! The Internet is also a reliable source of information. "People are looking for comparables, and they want to know who the active brokers in the area are," explains Lacasse. The old fashioned local newspaper and signs up in the area you're targeting are also tried and true strategies.
What makes a good broker
A good broker has a foundation of experience that has earned them solid knowledge of the real estate market and neighbourhood. They belong to a national banner, which implies that they benefit from structured support and a large network of skilled brokers. You might also want to verify their past performance, for example the number of transactions they've closed over the past year, or the awards or mentions they've won. Above all, they should be working as a real estate broker full time. Because time is a critical factor in this field, they need to be available at short notice and respond promptly to all of your demands.
According to Marc Lacasse, there is one final, important thing to consider when forming a professional relationship with a broker. "Chemistry! Buying or selling a house is teamwork," he says. "You need to find a broker you feel comfortable with, someone who's more emotional or more rational depending on your personality. Good chemistry also helps you stay motivated, and stay enthusiastic. When you sell your home, it's because you're chasing a dream. The broker you choose is also important."
This chemistry is also crucial when a broker is helping a buyer. In that case, they need to be able to listen to the buyer's needs, organize visits to interesting properties, ask the right questions during these visits, and guide the buyer through the various stages that follow a promise to purchase. And if the buyer is tempted to make an offer on a whim (because they were seduced by the hot tub in the backyard, maybe), a reliable broker will know how to talk them down…
What should you expect from your broker
First of all, a broker should provide guidance before the property is even listed. For example by guiding them on the best way to show the home, or by establishing the asking price. Next comes putting it on the market. "The broker needs to be an expert. They should be able to give your property the broadest possible visibility among the largest number of potential buyers, as quickly as possible," summarizes Lacasse.
"They should also be expert negotiators, with the right arguments to defend the asking price in order to get the best price possible for your home," Lacasse continues. "Finally, they need to be able to support you throughout the transaction."
You are within your rights to expect your broker to keep you satisfied at all times. Marc Lacasse recommends letting them know about any frustration or disappointment you may feel along the way. "This will give them a chance to explain the why of their decisions and actions."
The purchase or sale of a house is an important step towards achieving a dream. It's a time to be demanding, and that starts with choosing the right partner in a real estate broker.
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