By Shannon Moneo
Like any relationship, the one with your real estate agent requires work for the best outcome. Spruce looks at how to create a beneficial relationship, whether you are buying or selling.
Buying or selling a home is one of life’s more stressful events, and one way to sow calm is by cultivating a great relationship with a realtor. Like all relationships, the starting point is mature communication and being clear about what’s wanted.
“It’s important to establish expectations, for both sides, right from the get go,” says Cheryl Woolley, president of the Victoria Real Estate Board and a realtor with RE/MAX Camosun. “We’re there to explain all the moving parts, so it’s important to stay in touch. Let the agent know you’ll work with them.”
Many realtors gain clients based on referrals from former clients, but Woolley says research shouldn’t be overlooked if a client wants to be certain the agent suits them. “It’s not a bad idea to interview three or four agents,” she says. “Let the agent know you’re interviewing them. Honesty is the best policy.” And remember to let the unsuccessful realtors know a choice was made.
Keep in mind that being a realtor can be like skydiving without a backup parachute. They don’t get regular pay cheques and have to deal with uncertainty, so showing respect, not calling at midnight and not demanding a showing immediately will strengthen the relationship.
The stellar realtors are sincere, knowledgable, ethical, smart communicators and stay up-to-date with regulations, trends and the industry in general. Great clients trust their realtor, are easy to work with and hold up their end of the conversation.
A Professional Approach
Don’t be the client who overprices their home by 30 per cent or more because of overwhelming debt or because a neighbour got a high price. Or the buyer who spends a couple of months looking at homes with a realtor and abruptly switches to another realtor to purchase. Or the one who doesn’t trust the realtor and believes they’re out to get them. As well, some think a realtor can do more than what’s legally allowed. And while clients have choices, so do realtors. They can say no to a client — a rare occurrence.
To bring certainty to their lives, many realtors ask clients to sign buyers’ contracts, which state clients are obligated to buy from realtors within a set time limit. It’s to prevent a client from viewing a dozen properties and then contracting with another agent, who may have a lower commission rate, to seal the deal.
Deana Fawcett doesn’t use buyer’s contracts. “I work with mutually agreeable terms without a contract,” she says. With over 13 years as a Victoria-area realtor selling hundreds of homes, Fawcett works for eXp Realty. She agrees that communication is key since clients may spend a lot of time with their realtor. The close bond means she doesn’t lie or tell clients what they want to hear, which can backfire and prolong a sale or purchase.
“Clients trust me because I’m personable, honest and have the facts,” Fawcett adds. And if there’s a technical or structural question and she doesn’t know the answer, she calls a professional. “I want to be able to give accurate information,” she says.
All in the Timing
Rebecca Barritt, a Sotheby’s International Realty Canada agent, says she’s got a fairly easy going personality, which serves her well. She also works very hard and at times, finds it hard to turn off.
“It can get daunting, but I love that it’s not nine to five,” says Barritt, who like Fawcett doesn’t use buyer’s contracts because they scare off clients.
She credits her affiliation with Briggs Stratton & Associates and Sotheby’s for easing job demands. With a designer, photographer and mortgage broker on speed dial, marketing is seamless. The professional photographer makes sure photos are taken on a sunny day, and distractions like garbage cans or electrical wires don’t appear. If necessary, drone footage can be shot. Staging, which has proven to be effective in competitive markets, is easily arranged. And beyond newspaper ads, social media marketing and magazine spots work wonders. “There’s also something to be said about timing,” Barritt notes. If an open house is planned, best to do it on a weekend. Advertising for the event should appear on a Thursday for enough advance notice.
Not to be overlooked are new rules in B.C. for realtors. An agency cannot represent both the buyer and seller, something Barritt is relieved about. “It was a scary to put anybody,” she says.
No Two Sales Alike
As for what’s negotiable, Fawcett says, “Every sale is unique. Sometimes it’s everything. Sometimes it’s nothing.” It often depends on the property. Some deals include furniture, appliances and window coverings. Price, deposit, exclusions and closing dates can be negotiable. Certain clients set firm prices and conditions and won’t budge.
“These can be my favourite clients to work with,” says Fawcett. “They have clear intentions and instructions.”
How realtors are paid can be less explicit. Every realtor is licensed under a brokerage, says Woolley. While there is not a prescribed commission for realtors, a broker usually sets a rate. To stay competitive, most commission rates in Greater Victoria are similar.
Typically, it’s six per cent on the first $100,000 of a property sale and three per cent on the balance, both of which are negotiable, Woolley notes. So a $800,000 sale would generate a $27,000 commission, which is split between the listing and selling agents and their brokers.
Cutting private deals isn’t common, nor is listing a home for 40 per cent above its value, which confuses the market. “It’s bad for your reputation,” Fawcett says.
Barritt, Fawcett and Woolley all love their job, even when homes can take 18 months to sell, or clients spend two years viewing houses. “It’s not a job you just turn off. You’re helping people with the largest transaction of their lives. I love helping people to achieve that goal to get into their ideal home,” Woolley says.