HOW TO FIND A TOP REALTOR® IN CALGARY [STEP-BY-STEP]
Real Estate Agents in Calgary, Alberta: Reviews, Fees, Directory
Selecting a top REALTOR® to represent you in your real estate transaction in Calgary, Alberta is no small task and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are a number of resources you can use to make sure you have the best real estate agent to help you. Here is a step by step guide to help you choose the right REALTOR® for you.
1) ASK YOURSELF “WHAT AM I LOOKING FOR IN A REAL ESTATE AGENT?”
Your answer to this seemingly easy question can tell a lot about the real estate agent that you would like to select. Here are some common answers and considerations:
Someone who focuses on me: You may look for an agent who has a few fewer clients than the top producer. This might come into play more on the buying side if you need to see homes on your schedule. On the selling side, you may be looking for an agent with systems in place to handle your listing.
Someone who knows this property type: Both when buying or selling, it can pay to have an agent who has experience in the right property type. If you are selling an acreage but thinking about hiring a condominium REALTOR® (or vice versa) then there could be gaps in that real estate agent’s knowledge with regards to your product type.
Someone who knows negotiation: Negotiation is a huge part of real estate. Here you may look for an agent with a C.N.E (Certified Negotiation Expert) designation or an agent who has been in the industry for a few years and has a number of successful transactions under their belt. Ask your potential real estate agent about some of their previous transactions and how they plan on negotiating in your favour. Do they have specific negotiation strategies or do they skip over this question?
Someone who knows my area: This can be important on both the buying and selling side, but it doesn’t always come down to how many homes the agent has sold in the neighbourhood. A newer agent who researches community stats in detail might know an area better than the 20-year veteran. A good indicator is asking if they know some of the important stats for your community. How are detached home sales in Willow Park? Are Kensington condos selling faster than the Beltline? These questions can reveal more than asking how many homes an agent has sold in your area because it shows focus on an area. Alternatively, you may want an agent who has had a lot of experience in one area and, therefore, look for sales numbers. Calgary MLS Map Guide
Someone who will sell my house fast and for a high price: Here you want to ask for how the REALTOR® has marketed properties in the past and how continued marketing will work to keep eyes on your listing. Also knowing what the ongoing market analysis will look like is critical.
Someone who I like: If you are buying a home, you could spend months with this person. Could you imagine if it was someone you didn’t care for? Here you may want to just “chit-chat” with the real estate agent and find out their personality.
2) CONDUCT YOUR TOP REALTOR® RESEARCH
Spend time online reading about real estate agents, looking up their reviews, and viewing their social media profiles to get a feel for who this agent is.
There are various sites you can use to look up REALTOR® reviews. Google, Facebook, and Yelp can be a great starting place. There are also real estate specific review sites such as Real Satisfied, Rank My Agent, and Rate My Agent. Reviews are useful but you may quickly find that most agents won’t have a lot of poor reviews. Being that it is such a long sales process, usually, if there is not a fit, the REALTOR® and client part ways before the completion of the transaction. Also, usually, only positive experiences will result in the agent sending an invite to review on websites, so they are important but don’t take anything away from the REALTOR® without any online reviews or think you are in the best hands with the agent that has the most reviews - this person might just be more diligent about asking for testimonials.
3) CHECK IF THEY ARE LICENSED IN YOUR AREA
Sure they were recommended and they have a website, but how do we know if the REALTOR® is actually licensed? In Alberta, you can go to the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) and look up their licencing.
Don’t miss this step as real estate agents can come and go frequently in this industry.
4) REACH OUT TO THE REALTOR®/REALTORS®
It’s always recommended that you reach out to a few real estate agents. Make sure you can easily find their contact information on the internet! If you are struggling to find their contact info online, will potential buyers for your place have the same issue?
Once you have your list, reach out to them through your preferred form of communication. If you like to text then it is useful to know how quickly your agent candidate will respond. If you would prefer to chat on the phone, give them a call and see how professional they are on the phone.
Set an appointment to meet!
5) MEETING WITH YOUR REALTOR®
Come prepared for your meeting with questions for your real estate agent. Here are some recommended questions:
- How long have you been in the industry? - This question will reveal if they are new or experienced. However, don’t discount the new agent, they can have new marketing strategies, amazing work ethic, and time to focus on your transaction.
- Do you have references I can call or can you gather some references I can call? - This is a follow up to online reviews. It can help to have a conversation with those that have dealt with this agent.
- Can you tell me what is happening in the market? - This is a powerful question as it shows their market knowledge and their understanding of the market direction.
- Do you work solo or as part of a team? - It’s good to know who will be working behind the scenes to move the transaction forward. This goes beyond the real estate team as solo agents can have a great team of lawyers, stagers, inspectors, marketers, and an office team.
- What makes you different from other REALTORS®? - This is a scary question for anyone in sales but it’s important to know your agent's unique selling proposition. Does their answer align with what you are looking for in an agent?
- How will you sell my home? - Simple question but opens up the dialogue about the marketing process. Look for answers that go beyond MLS, brochures, lawn signs, and professional photos. These are a must in most markets so look for things that go beyond the basics.
- When buying, can I have a shorter contract to see if we work well together? - When buying, personality and availability are important. See if your buyer contract can be a shorter period or if you can cancel the contract if you are unsatisfied.
- How do your fees work? - Ask them to explain their fees and how it will work. If you are buying and the REALTOR® says the seller pays their fee, press further to ask what if the seller is not offering an adequate fee? See below for more info on fees.
- How do we stay in touch? - Get an understanding of how communication will work. This is equally important for the buying and selling side. On the buying side, you may receive auto-emails for new properties. Will your REALTOR® receive those as well? How can you discuss the listings? When selling, how will I know what is happening with the market? How can I know I will receive feedback from showings?
6) REALTOR® FEES AND FEE CALCULATOR
If you would like to understand fees in-depth, we have a great explanation of how fees work. Here you will also find a fee calculator.
Fees can differ from brokerage to brokerage and services offered for these fees can differ as well. When comparing rates, look at the value you are receiving for the commission rates. In most cases, the REALTOR® is not paid if there is not a successful transaction so there is motivation for the REALTOR® to help you.
When discussing commissions, the larger question can be what structure will leave me with the most money in my pocket after this deal? Selecting the lowest rate may sound great but will you actually have the maximum left over after the deal (i.e. did you get the highest price)? Selecting the highest rate may get you all the additional bells and whistles with your listing but, again, will it NET you the most after the sale? Make sure you have this conversation with your real estate agent to understand what is included in the fee and how these features will help you get the best number!
7) CAN YOUR REALTOR® EXPLAIN THE MARKET?
Choosing an agent who knows your market is crucial. Try to ask questions that go further than the city market. Drill down to your property type and your specific community. The overall market conditions in Calgary are important, however, it’s more important to know the specific market dynamics for say the condominium market in the Beltline or the detached market in Silverado. When buying, can your REALTOR® explain the market conditions in your area and what percentage of list price homes are selling for on average?
8) HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SELL MY HOME?
This is a challenging question that will force your potential REALTOR® to explain what they do differently to sell homes. If they are providing a list of what’s included in their listing package, it can be helpful to ask if they can let you know some specific sales examples. If you are in a slower market, ask them how your home will stand out among the competition.
9) DOES THE REAL ESTATE AGENT ASK YOU QUESTIONS?
Aren’t you supposed to be asking all the questions? Absolutely not! See if the REALTOR® is asking you questions about your needs and goals. Also, see if they are listening to your answers and writing notes based on your answers. Did they come prepared with questions for you or is it more of a casual chat? Your first meeting will reveal a lot about your REALTOR’s® methods, systems, and personality. Make sure they are asking you strategic questions.
Looking to interview an agent?
When selecting a real estate agent, you always need to make the best decision for you, however, the following are some potential red flags which indicate you may need to keep looking.
1) AGENT’S HOME PRICE IS HIGHER
Just because one agent says your home is worth more, doesn’t mean your home will sell for more with that agent. Often times, it can be the opposite. Agents have access to the same data, but how they analyze it will be different, so it’s important to understand how they arrived at that number.
We like to say that “the market value is not what a REALTOR®, seller, city tax assessor, appraiser, or friend thinks it is worth. It is what a buyer is willing to pay”
Be cautious of those who are quick to put the highest number on a property. They may be looking to secure your listing only to push for a reduction right away (or having it sit on the market - thereby likely reducing the eventual sale price).
2) THE AGENT CAN’T EXPLAIN THE MARKET
Every REALTOR® should have a strong understanding of the market conditions. Dealing with an agent who doesn’t know the market opens the customer up to potential inaccurate advice.
Your agent should also be able to explain what is happening in your direct market. Look for statistics but also interpretations of the market statistics. For example, a stat of 25 sales in a community during a given month doesn’t mean much without knowing the inventory levels.
3) THE AGENT’S COMMISSION IS LOWER
Just because the fee is the lowest, doesn’t mean this will result with more money in your pocket at the end of the day. If you REALTOR® charges a low fee then they need a higher volume of transactions to maintain their business and may not have the time or money to invest in ensuring your home sells for the highest price. If they are taking a listing with reduced commission, chances are that agent will need to go out and find the next listing ASAP to ensure they stay cash flow positive.
4) REALTOR® IS SLOW TO RESPOND AND FOLLOW UP
Your REALTOR® should be “on” at all times. That is the nature of the business. Yes, good agents also have lives and other clients that they are working with, so they can’t pick up their phone all the time, but make sure they respond quickly.
Also, if the agent doesn’t follow up with you, what are the chances that agent will follow up with potential buyers and sellers or their agents?
5) REALTOR®’S MARKETING STRATEGY SEEMS OUT OF DATE
The world is a quickly changing place. How people find homes now is different from previous years. The agent should have examples of their marketing materials and the REALTOR®’s website should be reflective of modern day marketing.
Old fashioned means of marketing like a lawn sign, lockbox, brochure, and even MLS are all important but look for things that your agent does beyond the basics to sell your home.
When selling, you should know you are dealing with a professional marketer as well as REALTOR®!