In January, I had the opportunity to interview Greg Klemke, a realtor with Macdonald Realty in Richmond. Greg has been a realtor for 40 years, involved in sales, sales management and sales training.
Jeff: Since all agents take the same training, is it important to use an agent that has an area of expertise if you are selling/buying something unique?
Greg: All agents are trained to sell the generic product whether it is a house, townhouse, or condo. Every commercial agent is also trained in their area too. So the short answer is no. However, when something unusual like float homes or mobile homes are being sold, they are unique and have their unique issues. If you do hire someone that is specialized in that area, they can potentially help save you money and problems. If we use a Float home as an example, a specialist will understand the difference between a marina where you pay moorage vs one where you pay strata fees. Taxation and land transfer tax are also unique for float homes. Experts also know lenders and inspectors in their area of specialty.
Lastly, although condos are not necessarily an area of specialization, a good buyer agent should be willing to read all the condo bylaws, meeting minutes, financial statement, Form B and property disclosure statement if you are buying a condo. This is a must as there is lots to be learned by reading these documents that will assist in proceeding with your purchase.
Jeff: What kind of reports and information should I expect from my prospective realtor during our first meeting?
Greg: A comparative market analysis (CMA) is standard. This includes active listings as well as recent sales. A small list of expired listings can be helpful as they may indicate a pricing issue. A prospective agent should be able to back up their recommendations with a CMA.
You should also ask for referrals at the first meeting. How long have they been in business? Is their license current? Many new people work on a team, but nothing is a substitute for the experience. An Average days on market report is not necessarily helpful because seller/area/market conditions always vary from year to year and area to area. Also at the end of the day, the seller decides on the final price based on realtor’s recommendations.
Jeff: Are there aspects of an agent/client agreement that are negotiable or are the contracts relatively standard?
Greg: The terms of the contract are absolutely negotiable. The competition act states that realtors cannot price fix and they must state that fees are standard. However, the agent may say, ‘Typically, the commission is…%”. Generally speaking, items that can be negotiated include:
1. Commission rates/fees
2. Length of listing
3. Open house dates and frequency
4. Level of marketing/promotions
Jeff: Many agents offer perks like providing moving vans or cleaning/staging services for their clients. How much should I let that influence my decision making?
Greg: How much are you saving if you are using them for that service? Think of it as a good gratuity, but not the deciding factor. The van just saves you $300 to $400 is that really a reason to hire someone to help buy or sell your biggest asset?
Jeff: What communication (frequency of contact) level should I expect when using a dealer/agent?
Greg: The frequency level should be what the client expects.
Jeff: Anything else that you can add that we haven’t spoken about?
Greg: You hire an agent for one primary reason- their negotiation skills and the competitive spirit to win the negotiation. They should negotiate like it’s their own property. How do you learn this? You get this by having a good first meeting and getting a sense of whether you want to work with this person. Realtors should also ask seller a lot of questions. “What do you plan on doing with proceeds? What is important to you? What is your timing? Are you planning to dovetail this sale with a subsequent purchase?” In other words, if no time constraints, then pricing advice/strategy will be different.
Also, a successful agent usually has an equal number of sellers and buyers as clients.
At the end of the day, there is no magic number of realtors to interview. Like any professional relationship, determine the qualities you desire, ask the right questions and find the agent with whom you have a natural rapport.
Jeff: Thanks Greg for the tips you provided and time spent with me on the phone.
Greg Klemke can be reached at 604.728.7405 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is https://www.macrealty.com/agent/110695-Greg-Klemke/
Greg Klemke presents the information in this article and on our website as a service to our clients and is not intended as legal advice. No referral fees were received from Greg.