While the cost of buying a home is costly, a realtor could end up saving you thousands of dollars.
And while it may be tempting to skip the middleman and buy or sell your home on your own, the real estate market can be full of challenges, and having a professional to navigate it for you could save you a lot of grief.
Licensed realtors go through a year-long program, often at the University of B.C.’s Sauder School of Business, followed by post-licensing training at a realty board.
Many real estate companies also have mentorship programs, ensuring that new realtors are prepared before representing clients on their own.
“We find a good match for the realtor, who takes them to listing and selling appointments, before reversing the roles to make sure the new realtor is doing everything right by the book,” said Megan John of DFH Real Estate, who has worked as a mentor several times in her 15-year career.
One of the biggest advantages of using a realtor, said Victoria Real Estate Board director Tim Ayres, is for buyers looking to change neighbourhoods.
“Working in the market for so long, a realtor really gets to know a neighbourhood,” Ayres said. “They’ll be up-to-date on zoning bylaws, they’ll know the community plan and what’s going to take place in the neighbourhood in the future.”
A realtor will also be able to match a buyer’s needs to a specific home, comment on the condition or quality of the home and know how much it has sold for in the past.
Hiring a realtor can also save a lot of time. Instead of calling each seller’s agent, the buyer would only need to communicate with their own, who could also help to narrow down which homes to look at.
Market information isn’t a secret – a quick Google search or email can tell you what houses in a particular neighbourhood are selling for, how many are selling, etc. But along with having the most up-to-date and accurate information, as well as databases of historical information, real estate agents know how these numbers will affect any new home on the market.
While hiring a realtor has obvious benefits for buyers, sellers can also benefit from the help of a professional.
“Everybody has a right to sell their own home,” Ayres said, “but realtors have years of experience in selling, going through the process three or four times a month. They have market knowledge that the average person usually doesn’t have and can make recommendations on how to prepare a home for sale. If anything goes wrong, realtors are also insured.”
Ayres said that most prospective home owners still find the right realtor through word of mouth.
“It’s not unusual for a client to interview a potential realtor a couple times before hiring them,” Ayres said. “They’ll usually research the realtor online beforehand as well. People tend to do a lot of homework when it comes to real estate nowadays.”