Many of our readers, like us, come from the UK and so are not aware of the kind of services you expect from your real estate agent (REALTOR®). I thought it would be helpful to give a quick overview for anyone unfamiliar with how things work here in Canada.
Before you list your home, you will want to get a valuation of it. Now in the UK we did this. Our three local agents came in and gave us their thoughts on the price. There was a fair bit of variation. What was missing was any real justification for the price.
Here in Canada you should expect the valuation to be based on some hard facts. After all your REALTOR® can get all the sales in the area from the MLS® (the Multiple Listing Service database). This should give a fairly accurate picture of the price you can achieve.
The other difference that struck us was that marketing your home is an important element here. In the UK, at least when we were there, all you really expected was an advert in the paper, your home’s details in the window of the estate agent and the occasional call saying they were sending someone around tomorrow at 6pm to view the place.
In Canada the MLS® is the central database holding almost all properties for sale. This means your home is effectively in every estate agent’s window! You will probably also get your home in the local paper (though more people now use the internet to begin their searches). As we work through Sotheby’s International Realty we also have a huge marketing machine behind us and homes we sell benefit from that.
Most homes are also shown at Open Houses. In our area we have Agents’ Opens in the mornings. These are designed for new listings to be shown to any interested agents (and the public can usually pop in too). On Saturday and Sunday afternoons there are Public Opens. These are for buyers to pop in and see the place without an appointment. They are advertised in the papers and online, and with signs on the neighbouring streets. If you are in the area at the time you can simply pop in and have a look.
As a seller, you should expect your REALTOR® to run these open houses. They are a good way of getting a lot of people in to see the home without inconveniencing you, as the owner, too much. Note that you do have to be out of the house for these open houses.
The other thing to expect from your REALTOR® is that they take appointments to show the home at other times. We always agree ground rules with our sellers so that we know how much notice is needed and what are acceptable times. This is well worth doing as keeping your home in “show room condition” can be a struggle. If you get 24 hours notice at least you know that you will be able to tidy up in time!
Your REALTOR® should also give you feedback on the showings. We know that it is not always possible to get information out of potential buyers but it is our duty to try and find out their situation and what they thought of the home. These bits of information may turn out to be valuable when it comes time to negotiate.
Of course your REALTOR® will be there when any offers come in. You should expect them to help you assess the offer and any pitfalls it may contain. Your REALTOR® is the one who talks with the other party so you can be at arm’s length from the buyers – which can help if the negotiations are tough!
At the end of the day, real estate agents are your agents. This means that we are there to act for you and to act in your best interests. It is as if you have a clone doing all the running around, opening doors, showing buyers around, answering questions, reading offers, letting the home inspector in, handing over the keys to the new owners – while you rest easy!