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Expert Series: How to Choose a Realtor, as a First-time Buyer

If you’ve lived in any town or city for a period of time, you likely know who the best realtors are through advertising, open houses or word of mouth. Testimonials from people you trust are always your best bet. But what do you do if you’re relatively new to an area and ready to buy for the first time?

Peter Kostecki of Re/Max Twin City Realty Inc., Brokerage, Waterloo has a few tips that actually work well for how to choose a realtor in both situations. First, do get an agent.  Doing it on your own as first-timers can be absolutely overwhelming. You need someone to walk you through the masses of paperwork and hold your hand. Furthermore, Kostecki reminds us that nine times out of 10, it costs you as a buyer (who has nothing to sell) nothing; the sellers pay the buyer agents’ fees.

So you’ve wisely decided you do want an agent. Ask around. If you’re new to town, who do your neighbours or colleagues recommend? Do your research. Check out realtor websites and then Google them. One or two good reviews might not mean much, but 10, 15 or more definitely do.

Make a short list and interview two or three. Yes, interview them. This is one of the biggest transactions of your life. You need to be comfortable with and trust the person representing you. Kostecki emphasizes that your choice should be honest, direct, and able to bring you back down to reality.

“People buy on emotion, not logic,” he continues, “so you want the agent who will point out negatives and be up front with you, not someone who just wants a quick commission. Don’t go with someone you think will just tell you what you want to hear.”

“And make sure he or she is a good listener,” he cautions. The agent needs to “get” you, and perhaps have to “sell” you to a seller who wants to see someone special in his or her family home. “You don’t want someone who’s going to be overbearing and doesn’t fully understand your needs.”

You’re likely going to have to sign a representation contract with the agent you select, so be careful. Take your time. Find someone with whom you gel. Ask around, do your research, go with solid experience in real estate, but also, as Kostecki says, “go with your gut.”

Have questions about insuring your first home?

Visit our first time home buyers’ section for answers and advice from our friendly agents.