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Friday, June 25, 2010

Finding a Broker I can deal with

I think finding a broker is all about personality.

I don't want to be RUSHED into buying a house or condo. Its very awkward when someone is trying to pressure you into buying something you're not sure about, especially when its a big item.

Back in March my old computer died (waaaah!) and because I did it for work I ended up going out and buying a new computer fairly quickly. In that situation I didn't have much of a choice. I NEEDED the computer for work reasons and I didn't really have time to contemplate the issue.

Afterwards a friend of mine complained that I could have gone to him and got roughly the same computer for a couple hundreds dollars less, but that would have resulted in a delay of several days and it could have put stress on the friendship.

Thus when meeting real estate brokers my primary worry is how comfortable I am with this person and making sure I don't feel pressured. I want to feel confident about their abilities to fulfill my needs, but I don't want it at the expense of second guessing myself in a high-pressure situation.

I absolutely MUST have time to think everything over.

Take the computer buying scenario from the last March. I browsed the computers at FutureShop but didn't see any I liked. The guy in Best Buy showed me around at what was available and I hmm and hawed for awhile comparing them. The Best Buy guy wandered off to help other customers and I continued browsing and comparing the different computers before finally arriving at a decision. The extra decision making time took about 45 minutes.

In contrast it only took about 4 minutes to buy the computer and walk out the door with it, whereupon I bumped into my friend (who was there looking for a new X-Box) and then hailed a taxi.

Buying a house or a condo, as a first time buyer, I frankly think I would want a whole week to think about it. Maybe a month. I don't really know. Its such a huge step for me I certainly don't want to be rushing into it and overlooking things.

I want to know if the foundation is sound, does the roof leak, is there any problems with the house (ie. termites or cockroaches), is there something they're not telling me (its above a fault line or its... oooooooo haunted!)... and during this whole process the real estate broker will doubt be holding my hand.

I don't care if its a guy or a gal, but I have to be able to trust them. (My Aunt Edna was a real estate agent in Sudbury and frankly I don't trust her, even though she's family... or perhaps that is why I don't trust her. She has a bit of a bad reputation with the rest of the family and hasn't come to a family event in over 2 decades.)

Here's some tips I found online:

1. Referrals: A good real estate broker will have lots of referrals. Its how you know their customers are satisfied. That said you should Google their name and see if they have any angry customers...

2. Look for Experience: Younger real estate agents might have more time to talk to you, but you can never beat experience once you've got the agent's attention.

3. Attend Open Houses: This is a good way to meet real estate agents, other buyers and pick up lots of free tips and advice.

4. Track Neighborhood Signs: Keep track of who's selling what in the neighbourhoods you are looking at. Real estate agents frequently operate on their "turf" so there may only be a few working in the designated neighbourhood that you like.

5. Track Ads in Newspapers: Same idea as above, look for the real estate brokers who are operating in the neighbourhood you are interested in.

6. Recommendations from Pros: Ask brokers who their competition is and what they think of them. A good analogy I can think of is a Magnum P.I. episode from the 1980s where a woman was looking for a private investigator and she asked all the PIs in Hawaii who the #1 and #2 private investigators were. They all said they were #1... and they all said Magnum was #2.

Once you find potential brokers don't work with them right away. Gauge your need first and watch for red flags. Avoid agents who don't know anything about renovations or zoning laws (but may claim to know). Avoid agents who are not timely at returning calls or emails. (If its the weekend don't worry about it, but expect a call back on Monday.)

1 comment:

  1. Great post and so true. I watch HGTV all the time and when I see realtors on there telling people they can't have everything and they'll just have to compromise, I always think, if that was my realtor, I'd go find another one! And I'd also go find another realtor when they show houses with things that the person absolutely said they didn't want or were trying to get away from in their old place. It's a personality and chemistry thing for sure.

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