How to Find the Best Real Estate Agent in Toronto

Friday Aug 23rd, 2019


How To Find the Best Real Estate Agent in Toronto

There are more than 50,000 real estate agents in Toronto registered with TREB, so how in the world do you choose one?  How do you know who the top performers really are?  Did you know that of the 50,000 Realtors, only 700 do more than 24 transactions a year?  Most of the business is done by very few, and generally they are also the best; the most efficient, and the ones who will get you top dollar.

Often the process of finding the best realtor in Toronto is overwhelming, causing people to delay the process of selling their homes until the last minute, putting unnecessary pressure on the whole process. So here is a framework of the top 10 things to consider when finding the best real estate agent in Toronto.

Ask for Referrals

When searching for the best Real Estate in Toronto, it’s a great starting place to ask your friends and family who they have worked with, and who they trust.  This way you can get detailed accounts about their experiences throughout the sales process and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each real estate agent.  If you decide to choose one of your friend’s recommendations, you may also be able to address any reported challenges upfront so that you may avoid the same pitfalls.

Despite the proliferation of online platforms such as Zillow, successful real estate agents in Toronto report that 80% of their business is through referrals, so it’s a tried and true method and will always stay that way.

Ask for Specific Relevant Experience

Local expertise in your particular market is an important consideration, so ask how many homes they have bought and sold in your area. Most agents “farm” their neighborhoods and ensure that their names are top of mind with weekly flyers in the mail generally boasting about recent sales. But just because your neighborhood Agent is ubiquitous, does not mean he/she is the best, so don’t simply default to the local Agent without a full understanding.

Are they Buying Agents or Listing Agents?

Most of the top real estate agents will do both buying and selling, but be sure to ask how many transactions they have done for each case.  More experienced Agents prefer to spend most of their time on the sell-side, because they are more likely to secure a commission when selling a house.  Buying Agents tend to be younger and are building their clients bases and cutting their teeth showing many properties to prospective buyers who may never make a purchase.  So just be sure that if you’re selling, you know their listing experience, and if you’re buying, be sure that they are up to the challenge and have the patience not to become frustrated with your indecision. 

Top Sales Performance

When evaluating the best real agents in Toronto, drill-down and get into the numbers. Don’t be shy and ask them for several Key Performance Indicators “KPIs” for their past 12 months and 24 months.

  • Number of current listings
  • Average Days on Market
  • % Sale Price to List Ratio (tells if you if they get their target price)
  • # of Price Reductions
  • # and % Unsold Listings
  • $ and # of sales by Type (Detached House, Condo, Luxury etc.)

Ensure that they explain how their numbers compare to other top real estate agents in Toronto, and be careful that they report performance as relates to what type of home you are buying or selling.  A real estate agent reporting record sales for luxury homes may not be ideal for selling condos, so be sure to ask direct questions and repeat when necessary.

What Makes an Agent Unique and Better Than the Rest?

Early in the evaluation process consider what is most important for your particular situation and how to assign weight to each of these criteria.  No one is perfect, and you have to make compromises, but be systematic and use a spreadsheet and scoring system or even a pro/con list will suffice.

Push the Agents to explain what specifically makes them better than the competition.  For some it may be experience, and others will offer a reduced commission.  Be weary of cut-rate commission offers, because as is so cliche, you get what you pay for.  Discount brokerages may sound attractive, but they may surprise you with hidden fees, such as staging costs.  They may also not give you the time, attention, and service level you require, making process painful and frustrating throughout, and perhaps costing you a ton of money.

Ask for References

When interviewing real estate Agents in Toronto, ask them for references from past Clients, even if you found the Agent from a referral.  This way you can get a different perspective and one which may be more objective than from your friend.

Ask Your Agent What is the Best Real Estate Marketing Plan

The best real estate Agents in Toronto will have a well-prepared real estate marketing plan and budget.  To demonstrate their worth, Listing Agents will go well beyond snapping a few pictures and listing your house for sale on MLS.  They should have a pre-sale strategy and operating plan enumerating all responsibilities and requirements. 

Staging is probably the most important factor of marketing a home for the optimal return on your investment.  Be sure to ask for pictures of past staging efforts, and if they work with staging partners, ask for their contact info and for their portfolios; it’s worth 30 minutes on the phone and checking them out online.

The best Agents will also have a great social media marketing plan using various platforms

Ask How Long it Will Take to Sell My House

You already know to ask for key statistics, such as their average Days on Market for past sales, but consider the timeline.  Ask how long it will take to get the house prepared for listing on MLS.  This is a key service metric that any great agent should measure and report. Often it’s the Clients who are slow to get the house prepared, but the best agents will be fastidious in their attention to detail and follow-up and apply a bit of needed pressure and support to move things along.  Timing to market can become critical when bridging closely between buying and selling, ensuring that ideal market conditions remain, and moving at the best time to accommodate your life.

The best real estate agents in Toronto will develop a formal schedule of timelines, responsibilities, and deliverables.  You should ask what tools they will use to track and report on status so that you always know what to expect and when so that you can plan accordingly.

The Best Communication Methods

The best Realtors in Toronto should have a system of tools and procedures, as well as service standards to ensure client satisfaction.  You should ask if they use an online project management platform such as Trello to keep track of tasks, and deliverables and communicate them to their Clients. Low tech options can be preferable for many, but ensure that they have reasonable standards for response times, such as 2 hours for a return phone call during workday hours, and no longer than 8 hours ever.         

Interview Efficiently

Be careful here and do not agree to an in-home consultation without qualifying the real estate agent first. Otherwise you may be risking an evening lost listening to a mind-numbing, knee wobbling drawn out affair at the kitchen table where you just can’t escape.  When you narrow your search to the top 5, setup a skype video call or have an extended phone conversation, it’s way easier to get off the phone than to kick them out of your house!  You can also ask them to send you a video intro over email. If they don’t know how to do this, then you may risk roaming around with dinosaurs.  Just be sure that you can reasonably establish that they are a good fit before agreeing to a listing presentation.

Trust Your Instincts

Buying and Selling your home is generally a household’s largest single financial transaction, so make sure you are confident and comfortable with the Agent representing you.  If something about their mannerisms seems off or you just don’t feel right about it, ignore the numbers and move on. You should be excited and elevated when in the company of a top sales performer, it’s in their DNA.

In searching for the best real estate Agent in Toronto, just take your time, be thorough and direct, and don’t be shy to ask the hardball questions.  It’s too important for compromise so only choose the best.




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