By Jelena Djurki
Deciding to move can be a stressful decision. Picking the right house, finding the right neighbourhood and being able to afford it all can take its toll, not to mention the actual moving day. It can be even harder on mothers who often have to take extra consideration in making sure the house they buy suits their family. In our Agent Moms five-part series, I take a look at five questions every mom should ask herself before taking the real estate plunge.
This week: How do you pick the right real estate agent for your family?
WHAT DO YOU WANT
Figuring out what you want in a house is key to finding an agent that will help you find it. You have to be clear about what you’re looking for before you even start searching. How does your family live? Do you like to entertain and need a formal dining room? Do you want an open kitchen so you can supervise the kids while they do homework? As your children grow up and become teens, will you want bedrooms for them in the basement? A good agent will ask you these questions and find you a house that fits your needs.
“I have (had to) talk more people into buying a house that works for them 362 days of the year rather than the three days that company comes to visit,” said Karen Salmon, a real estate agent with Royal LePage in Calgary.
It’s best to find an agent that suits your personality. Remember: You will be working with this person for up to months at a time. “It’s all about relationships,” said Salmon, who has been an agent for five years. “You’re going to be forming a relationship and you have to communicate with each other.”
WHAT TO ASK
Don’t be afraid to research their background and interview potential agents to find the one that suits your needs. Five questions you should be asking are:
1. What are you going to do? What’s your approach to selling my house?
2. What is included in your service?
3. How often am I going to hear from you?
4. How can I get a hold of you?
5. Will you be the person I’m talking to on a regular basis? (If they work in a team)
Salmon says your agent should be communicating with you on a weekly basis, even when there are no offerings. This can help nip things in the bud in case the houses your agent and you are looking at aren’t meshing.
WHAT DO AGENTS WANT
It’s important to realize that your agent is a person too. An agent may be working with 10 to 20 listings at any time, so being clear about what you’re looking for could help your agent find you your new humble abode sooner.
Salmon says knowing your lifestyle, being able to agree to an appropriate price, and cooperating in showcasing your house is crucial. Buyers often go into homes and get swept up in how well they’re decorated, suddenly picking a house that doesn’t match what they were first looking for. A good agent will help remind you of your original “non-negotiables,” such as the floor plan or location you wanted, and steer you back on track. “It’s my job to force them to revaluate their needs and wants,” said Salmon.
WHERE TO FIND THEM
Seventy-five per cent of Salmon’s business comes from referrals. Still do your research even if a friend recommends someone. Maybe the son of your co-worker is a nice kid but not the right real estate agent for you.
Trawling through listings and real estate agents on the internet can be an excellent way to find out what’s out there. Crack open a real estate magazine or look through your local newspaper. There are always listings and you can find real estate agents through them. Also, don’t be afraid to visit open houses, even if you’re not yet looking for a house. Walking into an open house is a great way to meet an agent informally and see how they work with potential clients.