Choosing an agent early in your home search


It’s essential for buyers to seek professional advice early on, if they are to navigate their home search effectively.

Dear David,

We are ready to buy a house. We both have good jobs and have done a couple of online bank approvals to establish our budget. We don’t have an agent yet, but have been looking at listings on to get an idea of who’s out there. With so many Realtors, how do we choose? – WONDERING

DEAR WONDERING: Congratulations on taking the next step towards home ownership. You’re not alone in your struggle to choose an agent. With nearly 1,600 licensed Realtors registered on the real estate board in Kitchener-Waterloo, 500 more in Cambridge and another 600 in Guelph, the options can feel overwhelming.

Many people start their search the way you did. They cruise and other real estate sites, trying to get the lay of the land.

In a market like we’re seeing in 2020, it’s essential for buyers to seek professional advice early on if they are to navigate their home search effectively. A major challenge is the typically large gap between a property’s list price (which is visible to the public on real estate sites) and its selling price (which is not). Because of this discrepancy, the properties you’re window-shopping on may not be the ones that are actually in your price range.

Locally, our current market is heavily skewed in favour of sellers. The trend is to price properties affordably, so they attract buyer attention; but record-low inventory and steep competition tends to run selling prices quite a bit higher. The successful buyer will need an agent who can look past the listing price to establish the value of a property.

When a home sells, the selling price isn’t posted on consumer sites – the listing just drops off the system. Without a Realtor connection, potential buyers won’t know what the home sold for, and may continue to misinterpret the market.

Your home purchase will likely be the largest transaction of your life and may continue to be your largest investment. To make the most of it, you need an expert who is fully immersed in the market, can make strategic decisions on the fly, can recognize subtle nuances and provide intelligent representation when you’re competing with 10, 15 or 20 other offers.

When it comes to finding a Realtor, your friends, co-workers and family are your best resource. This group is your own personal think tank and can make recommendations based on their own experiences, as well as on an agent’s professional qualifications.

PRO TIP: I often hear buyers say that they “want to work with the listing agent”. If you were my brother, cousin or mom, I’d never give you this advice. The listing agent has a signed contract with the seller, which legally and ethically obligates them to act in the seller’s best interest. Is it reasonable to expect they can pull out their best strategies for both sides at the same time?

Buyers and sellers have diametrically opposed agendas (buy low, sell high). If your needs are going to remain your agent’s primary focus, you always need your own representation. #AskDavid #Advice