We have lived in our current rental for three years. Our landlords gave us five months notice that when our lease was up this year that we wouldn’t have the option to renew because of their desire to sell the house. They have been very accommodating and even offered to push back closing dates if we needed longer to find something else. We didn’t really want to get in the gray area of a month-to-month rental if the house didn’t sell before our lease was up, even though we appreciated the offer, so we started packing up our stuff to make the house seem more open, put away mementos and pictures so that families could see themselves and their stuff in the house easier, and really tried to do everything we could on our end to make the process easier for all. We love our house but we were excited at the idea of a new house in a new area. We have less than desirable neighbours that we share our backyard with. We haven’t been able to use our backyard enjoyably for the entire time we have lived here so with summer approaching we are ready to dust off our outdoor furniture and find somewhere we can use it.
I have now been a part of a house sale as a homeowner and as a tenant and its been pretty appalling that we have been treated very differently in those roles by some realtors. We have been told by realtors coming in showing the house that “we are just the tenants” and that “we are living our lives day-by-day and could have to get out at anytime.” From my end I saved their business cards and thought that I would keep their names in mind as people to avoid. I would never give business to someone who clearly didn’t understand that contracts and agreements such as a rental agreement. We have found for the most part that very few realtors coming in saw as a potential clients but as people who couldn’t afford to buy which isn’t the case.
From my experiences these are 5 tips to keep in mind when looking for a realtor:
Hire Someone Who Knows The Area
The current realtor for our house lives in a completely different city and has listings in multiple cities. It would be really hard to know the ins and outs of the entire lower mainland: desirable locations, schools, transit, etc. We noticed that he had our house listed as “downtown area” which we aren’t even in close walking distance too. We are about a $10 cab ride to downtown or a 30 minute walk down or up three major hills. Downtown vs east part of town makes a huge difference to which potential buyers would be interested. You want to trust that you can ask your realtor something and they will be knowledgeable about the area or honest in their lack of knowledge. You want to ensure that your being advertised in the most effective manner possible.
Hire Someone Who Is Well-respected/Professional
Read the reviews of realtors online and ask friends and family for referrals. What did they like or dislike about them because it may not be the same things that you would. As homeowners our last realtor was a very well-known community member and he would treat everyone he met like they were an old friend. He was a great communicator and if there was ever a concern he would ensure that it was dealt with immediately. We had one realtor, that had three separate showings at our house, set off the alarm which caused us to be fined from the city for unnecessary police use. Our realtor paid fine without question, although it should have been the one setting it off. With our current property we have returned home after showings to find windows that we hadn’t opened left completely open, the backdoor left unlocked on multiple occasions, and the gates to backyard being left completely open. It was at the point that we couldn’t leave during a showing even though that was our preference. I think if one realtor respected another that wouldn’t happen and we did not get a response from the current realtor when it was advised to them that it was happening. It seemed a little unproductive to me to mention to our landlords to mention to the realtors but I guess to be taken seriously would have been more effective. We had a realtor show up with a family that we were unaware that was coming. She had actually woke me up and said “oh well we are here now so no big deal.” She was showing a family with two kids with their parents. While the realtor and parents were outside in the backyard the two children were in my office checking out my daughter’s hamster. I was pretty horrified that the realtor thought it was acceptable to leave children (5-7 years) alone in someone else’s home.
Trust Your Gut/ Watch Out For Red Flags
Our landlords asked us if we could do an open house on a specific date and time which we agreed too but ten days later the realtor said he needed to speak with us directly and didn’t give himself enough time to proceed with it. I still had to be the one to ask if it was happening because there was no clear communication either way. When were discussing possible days that work for taking photos of the house we gave a few options, but then were given less than an hours notice that they were coming. My house is clean but not take photos of it clean on a moments notice. The second showing that we had scheduled was 45 minutes early which I’m assuming was a miscommunication on our realtors end but they took no responsibility for it. The second week we had a showing that we were completely unaware of. When it came to the new owners having the house inspection we were told that it would be approximately two hours but in reality was almost 6 hours. The potential new owners sat with their realtor, at our dining room table during dinnertime hours on a school night, to review their report from inspector for over an hour which would have never happened if we were the homeowners. We have found that there is been a lot of pointing of the fingers between the realtors when there has been a miscommunication or error and lack of personal responsibility which is sad to see. Making excuses instead of owning up to a situation shows such a lack of customer service which is rapidly disappearing in our society. For myself lack of organization and communication are huge red flags.
Beware of the Discount Commission Niche
If someone is operating at the top of their field then they do not need to offer a gimmick to get clients. What is that “cheaper” commission costing you when it comes to professional conduct, prioritizing your sale, marketing plans, etc. Focus on the realtor selling you on their actual qualities not just their commissions. Every realtor offers different expertise and has a different levels of ability to sell your house in the market that you are attempting to sell it in. Make sure that you are on the same page so that your expectations and the reality that they are offering are the same.
Marketing Plans Are Everything
The best chance you have at selling your house is when it is first on the market so how it is seen is extremely important. When I sold my house a few years ago the realtor that we hired believed that the newspapers were the only way to effectively market our property. We rarely see his names attached to properties these days. Realtors need to be comfortable with social media platforms and be tech savvy or have someone on their team who is. The realtor that sold our last property use drones to take aerial shots of the property and used YouTube as a part of his package. They need a website that is viewable on a mobile internet app. If half of the information is cut off the screen or if a person has to switch to desktop version it could be seen as too much of a hassle and the person would switch to a different realtors site making your listing not as viewed. Ensure that you know which sites your listing is going to be and on social media how many posts are included in the marketing.
If you are buying or selling soon do your homework and pick someone who is the best for your family.