Your real estate agent isn’t strictly a salesperson, just as listing or purchasing a home isn’t a typical transaction. Your agent will be a guide, a coach, a cheerleader, a negotiator and a closer. As if all of these roles weren’t significant enough, a high-pressure GTA market raises the stakes even further.
Here are some signs you’ve hired the wrong realtor:
1. You’re related
This is the first no-no, and potentially one of the biggest. There’s absolutely a possibility that you’re related to an excellent full-time agent who works in your neighbourhood, in your price range, and can name a handful of similar properties nearby and what they sold for off the top of their head. Sure, it’s possible. But let’s be real. Your uncle Ronald or your sister-in-law Sami isn’t that person.
Ask yourself—would you blindly give Sami half a million dollars and ask her to invest it for you? Would you let Ronald decide where your children go to school?
Chances are, no. So politely decline. A simple “We already have someone in mind” will do.
2. They have another job
There are legitimate professions that sometimes necessitate a ‘day job’. Freelance photographer, jazz band saxophonist, someone who sells funky wool socks for Etsy—you’ll notice these careers are creative pursuits with either low pay, or low frequency of work. But a real estate agent who’s professional, energetic, hardworking and savvy has no problems earning a full-time living, so this big red flag is waving at you.
You want someone embedded in the trenches, especially in hot markets. Full-time is a must.
3. They don’t have TAP
Type, Area, Price. Those are a few key targets your agent’s experience should hit, as the massive GTA real estate market is actually comprised of many distinct niches.
First, they buy or sell the type of unit you’re buying or selling. Condo, townhome, detached, commercial, rural farmhouse, waterpark, and so on. You want someone who’s comparing apples to apples.
Second, they work in your area. As you know, real estate is neatly summed up in three words—location, location, location. It’s ultimately a local business.
Third, they work in your price range. Maybe you’re looking for a quiet, downsizing condo after the kids launched, but they specialize in downtown luxury showpieces—or vice versa. Price is the great decider, and has the final say, in property sales.
4. Low commission
So let’s get this straight—you need an agent to be a tough negotiator on your behalf, but when it comes to negotiating his or her own pay, they’re soft. It doesn’t make sense.
A good agent doesn’t need to sell their services at a bargain price. You get (or don’t get) what you pay for.
5. High price
If an agent wants to seduce you with high selling-figures, they’re trying to buy you—not work for you. They’re appealing to your wildest dreams; maybe you’ll get $700,000+ for your bungalow while other agents are suggesting low-$600s. This agent is luring you away.
When your property is overpriced, you’re making the competition look better. All those other reasonably priced homes in the area will get hotter, and buyers will get emotionally attached to those ‘rare gems’. The bidding wars ensue.
Meanwhile your home stays on the market without selling, as if there’s something wrong with it. Lowering the price at this stage looks even worse — like you’re the kid with pink eye at school. You’ll still find a buyer but you’ve suppressed the excitement and novelty and, sadly, your price will reflect that.
Ultimately sales is psychology—and this bad agent beat you at the game, and you’re the one who loses.
6. Slow to respond
It’s a 24/7 news cycle. Properties can sell within hours, and everyone has a phone in their pocket. Your agent should be prompt and attentive—responses within the same business day (or early next) are standard.
If your agent is consistently slow to get back to you, then he needs to be shown the door. Fast.