You often advise home buyers to interview potential salespeople, but won’t my salesperson also interview me? What sort of questions should I expect them to ask?
The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) strongly advises buyers and sellers to use the Look up a Real Estate Salesperson, Broker or Brokerage search tool on the RECO website and to interview several candidates before you sign an agreement with a brokerage. When you conduct your interviews, you could request references and ask about their experience, general approach to buying and selling, the services their brokerage provides and what the proposed commission or fee would be.
You’re correct that those potential candidates will ask you some questions, and some of them could be pointed and personal; they will certainly want to know if you’ve signed a Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) with another brokerage, for starters.
You may not want to lay all your cards on the table during these initial interviews. As I mentioned in a previous column, unless you are a client (not a customer) of a real estate brokerage, a salesperson or broker doesn’t owe you a fiduciary duty to keep sensitive information, such as your finances or your reasons for buying, confidential.
Once you’ve found the salesperson who is right for you, it’s a good idea to be open and honest about your needs, finances and service expectations so your salesperson can find you suitable properties. Trust your salesperson but exercise some caution if they show you any properties where they also represent the seller.
Here are some questions your salesperson may pose, and a few you should ask yourself.
“What sort of home are you looking to purchase?”
Have you thought carefully about what you want in a home versus your actual needs? Hardwood floors and granite countertops are nice to have, but if you have a large family, you primary interest will likely need to be the size of the dwelling and the number of bathrooms.
Do you have any deal-breakers?
Some buyers may not want a home near train tracks, hydro wires or a wind farm. A train runs close to my home a few times per day. I usually don’t notice it, but it might be a deal breaker for others.
“What’s your budget?”
Even if you’ve been preapproved for a mortgage, you will still have to provide the seller with a down payment out of your own pocket. And have you factored in additional expenses, such as legal fees, the land transfer tax, moving costs, or utility hookups?
“How would you like us to stay in touch?”
Do you need regular in-person progress reports, or would you prefer that your salesperson communicate through email, text or other electronic means when they have news to share? Make sure you’re on the same page.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email email@example.com.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.