Whether you’re a first-time buyer, are looking to upgrade or are considering a downsize, before you even start your property search you need to find a realtor who is going to help you navigate the market and make your home buying experience as smooth as possible. Here are five questions to ask a Realtor before you start searching for your new home.
Update (2023): New blog on 22 Questions To Ask A Realtor Before Buying Or Selling A House In Toronto.
1. QUESTIONS TO ASK A REALTOR ABOUT THEIR OWN SUCCESS
Toronto real estate agents are a dime a dozen and you want to ensure you’re working with one of the top real estate agents. This question is three-fold:
- How long have they been working as a Toronto real estate agent?
- What Toronto neighbourhoods do they specialize in?
- Ask for their client testimonials and recent sales.
The Toronto realtor pool is highly saturated — like, 50,000+ agents saturated — and even those that have been working for 10+ years may not have had as many clients or sales within that time frame to back up their career thus far.
Experience is your key to success. You’ll be able to see this in their client testimonials and recent sales on their website. If there’s a particular neighbourhood you’re looking to buy in, don’t be afraid to dig deep; ask them how a neighbourhood’s home prices have been performing, what they’ve recently sold or helped a client purchase in your ‘hood. When it comes to interviewing a realtor these types of questions will help shape your opinion on whether they are the right real estate agent for you — and your home.
2. WHAT IS THE FIRST STEP?
This question will largely revolve around your financial situation and your search criteria. It’s important to have a clear understanding of both to give you and your realtor the right place to start.
The very first thing they’ll get you to do is get your mortgage pre-approval. This means meeting with a mortgage lender and providing them with your financial standing. This includes:
- your income
- your monthly expenses
- what debt you may have (loans, credit cards, taxes owed, etc)
- how much you have available for your down payment
- RRSPs or other savings
With the stress test and other new lending guidelines in place, having a mortgage pre-approval will give you a realistic idea of what you can actually afford to buy in today’s market. Your real estate agent will use this price point along with your search criteria to source appropriate MLS listings for you to consider.
With both these things in tow they should also be able to give you an indication of the market and what areas may be best to search for condos and homes for sale given your criteria.
3. HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK?
If you’re a first-time buyer or haven’t been in the market to buy for some time and need an industry refresh, one of the fundamental questions to ask a realtor is: how does the process work?
Some real estate agents may ask you to sign a buyer’s agreement before you begin looking at properties. This serves to protect the real estate broker to ensure you don’t buy with another real estate agent after they’ve spent weeks taking you out on property showings.
Next, your real estate broker will send you MLS listings that matches your criteria within your budget, this is known as a prospect match. The property showing process, depending on your budget and the nature of the market, can take weeks or maybe months.
Ask a realtor to give you their honest opinion on how long they think it may take. If your budget is low and you don’t have a lot of wiggle room, you may end up making several offers before one gets accepted.
Another question to ask a realtor when buying a house or condo would be about offers and conditions and what the best plan of action is for your unique situation. Ensure you have a thorough discussion on the buying process with your realtor to set your expectations and avoid future frustrations.
4. HOW WILL YOU KEEP ME INFORMED?
When interviewing a realtor, you want to ensure that you go in to the partnership with a clear understanding of how accessible they’ll be for you throughout the process. Every realtor will have their own preferred approach to business so it’s important that you feel like they’ll be available for you when you have concerns or questions to ask when buying a new house or condo.
Do they keep business hours or are they okay to receive calls outside of those hours? Will they be updating you daily? Weekly? By phone? By email? These are things you should ask a realtor right out the gate. One last question you might want to ask and this one can really affect communication— is this their full-time job?
5. WHAT ARE THE FEES INVOLVED?
The best news about buying a property is that you do not pay a commission. The buyer agent’s commission is completely paid for by the seller. However, there are fees throughout the process that you should be aware of upfront so you’re armed and ready when that perfect property comes along.
Have your deposit money ready. This is typically 5% of the property’s purchase price. If competition is high in the market having your deposit money ready to go can sometimes make or break your offer.
The other fees you need to budget for are closing expenses. These include Land Transfer Tax and legal expenses. Be sure to bookmark our Land Transfer Tax Calculator so when the right property comes along, you’ll know how much you’ll need to have on hand at closing.
There are questions to ask a realtor when buying a house versus a condo. When you’re buying a house ask about home inspections:
- do they think you need one?
- what’s the cost of a home inspection?
- can they recommend a reputable home inspector?
The other costs that your realtor can make you aware of are those that come post-sale like moving expenses, utility set-up fees, handyman, etc. Your realtor will be familiar with the additional expenses that come with buying a new home and you can ask your agent if they have a preferred list of tradespeople to save you the extra legwork.
Buying a new home is one of the single biggest transactions you’ll make and it starts with knowing your real estate agent has your best interests at heart. Start with these 5 questions to ask a realtor before you start searching, it will save you time, set your expectations and give you reassurance that you’re taken care of throughout the process. One of the final questions to ask a realtor about a property is would you buy it? If you want to work with an experienced and honest broker, book a call with us to get started.