I’m planning a fresh start in a new city in 2021. What’s your advice for remotely hiring a brokerage?

Relocating to a new city is certainly an exciting way to ring in a New Year. Choosing the right brokerage and salesperson to represent you in an unfamiliar city is a big decision and one you don’t want to make lightly. You have a number of options. Many people choose to select salespersons based on referrals and their own research, or look to a trusted salesperson or brokerage they’ve worked with in the past to recommend a real estate professional familiar with the market where they plan to purchase.

Whichever option you choose, I recommend taking a three “Rs” approach when considering your options. Referrals, references and registration are three key factors in the selection process.

    • Referralsfrom friends and family members;
    • References from previous clients of brokers and salespeople; and,
    • Registration, by looking up a salesperson using RECO’s Real Estate Professional Search tool you can confirm that a salesperson is registered to trade real estate in the province.

If a friend or family member has referred a salesperson to you, be sure to interview the salesperson yourself before deciding to sign a buyer representation agreement (BRA). Every salesperson brings a unique mix of skills and services to the table for their clients, so it’s important to discuss the services offered by each brokerage and their corresponding commissions and fees. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and help prevent misunderstandings along the way. Requesting they provide you with references from previous clients may also help you in making your selection. If those referring the salesperson to you have been clients, that would be a tremendous benefit.

Sometimes even a referred salesperson isn’t the best fit. Reaching out to a few other salespersons can help you to get a good idea of who is best suited to represent your specific interests. Building a good rapport supports a strong mutual understanding of wants, needs and expectations that can go a long way in helping you find the property you envision for your fresh start.

Asking questions will also help to paint an accurate picture of a salesperson’s experience and the approach they’ll bring to your purchase. You’ll want to know:

    • what types of properties they typically work with;
    • the cities, suburbs and neighbourhoods they specialize in, since this may be especially important as you plan your relocation. You may be relying heavily on their knowledge regarding services, facilities and community resources in an area unfamiliar to you;
    • how many homes they’ve helped buy or sell; and
    • their overall approach to the buying and selling process, including how they will search and present suitable properties for you and their approach to negotiations, remote showings and COVID-19 safety protocols.

Once you’ve found a salesperson that you would like to represent you, confirm that they are registered to trade in real estate in the province using the Real Estate Professional Search Tool available on the RECO website. If an individual is registered, a profile will confirm their name, brokerage, and their disciplinary history over the last five years.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

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.

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