Buying and selling a home is an important decision on many levels. Financial commitment and security, meeting family needs, work and life style choices, and personal satisfaction can all be impacted by the choice you make. A good real estate agent can be an important partner, and selecting the right person can make a difference.
It is important to remember that your realtor works for you, and if things are not working out, you can change realtors. I provide sellers and buyers with a written guarantee which means if you are not happy with my service you do not need to stay with me.
When you are selling, it is important to keep some information to yourself until you have selected your realtor. For instance, you don't want a potential buyer's realtor to know what price you would accept. As your realtor I don't need to know what price you will accept in order to research and provide an estimate on what your home will sell for. See Free Home Evaluation.
Selling or buying a home are complicated processes involving a number of important steps, legal and regulatory factors, contracts and documents, financial requirements, research and analysis, planning and timing. Your Realtor, armed with tools, information and other resources, is your guide through this process, advising you on your options, researching information for you, and essentially looking out for your best interests.
In the end you want to be confident you’ve made the right decision. My goal is to ensure this by making certain you are fully knowledgeable of the market, your options and choices. Not only will I provide information, but also interpretation of that information, what it means to you and your situation. For more information see About Me at the bottom of this page.
Tip: Realtors bring more than just their personal service and experience. They also have the country-wide MLS® system and website which supports PCS (the number one source where buyers find their homes), and other systems needed to do research for you.
When you decide to use the services of an agent is dependent on your needs, and to some extent your personal preference. The services a Realtor provides, and their duty to you, are dependent on whether you are a client or an unrepresented party. For example, if you walk into a bank and ask questions about rates, products and services, you are a customer. If you open an account or take out a mortgage, you are a client. The duties a Realtor has to a client are much greater than to an unrepresented party. As an unrepresented party, you can expect information and answers to questions. As a client, a Realtor works for you and is obligated to serve you to the best of his/her ability and look out for your best interests.
Some people start with a Realtor, and others prefer to look around a bit on their own before involving a Realtor. Sellers often will interview a few realtors. It is clear when a seller selects a realtor to be their agent, they sign the listing contract and the sign goes on the home.
For buyers it is less clear when a Realtor is an agent. To alliviate this confusion new rules and forms were implemented on June 15, 2018 that Realtors must follow. See Realtor relationship for details.
Dragonboaters paddle with the majestic backdrop of the Comox Glacier and Beaufort Mountains.
Newly arrived Trumpeter Swans on a pond overlooking Mt. Washington. Swans winter in The Comox Valley
Buying and selling a home is an important decision. A good agent will guide you through the process, do the necessary research to provide information relevant to you, answer your questions, and ensure your personal interests are addressed. To find the right agent for you, consider the following:
Core Competency: All Realtors are trained, licensed and regulated by the government, real estate boards and councils. The boards and brokerages provide training, support, legal documents and ongoing monitoring and review. Agents have the core competency required, and the support of the brokerage and board. This can be augmented by years of service or previous experience.
Service Level: Each agent is unique, and essentially their own company, therefore you can expect a variety of service levels. As clients have different levels of expectation, especially at different points in the buying and selling process, try to find someone who seems able to identify with your needs and understands your personal expectations. Don’t be afraid to interview your realtor and find out how much time they expect to spend with you, and doing research for you. Do they seem interested in your situation? Do they answer your questions thoroughly? Does it seem like they have time for you? Can you comfortably converse with them?
How to Choose: Take some time to meet with a few realtors and don't be afraid of asking questions. Visit some offices, open houses, or phone the manager and ask for the type of person you would prefer. Looking at realtor's websites can let you know how informed and detailed they are and give you a sense of their skill and service levels.
I once read a tip that you should meet a Realtor out of their office. That does not make sense to me. A good part of my job is to provide you with information on market trends, industry changes, zoning bylaws, market stats, government changes, comparable recent sales, pricing you can expect, assessments, contract terms and what they mean and much more. All that information is readily available at my office, and I will be able to answer your questions with printed documents. There are a number of things a Realtor should do for you, as outlined below.
Tip: Buying or selling a home can be stressful, especially in a tight or changing market. A good Realtor won’t push you into a decision, but will help you work through your options to arrive at a decision you are comfortable with.
At the bottom of this page I've outlined what I believe are the core values of a good Realtor. The ability to research and interpret that research for you, provide a high level of service, and the integrity to professionally fulfill their duties to you including core competency, confidentiality and loyalty.
Under the Home Buying and Home Selling tabs you will see Home Buying in Detail and Home Selling in Detail where I've outlined the process that a Realtor will lead you through. Following are other aspects of what you can expect from a Realtor.
Types of real estate: On the Island's smaller markets most Realtors handle all types of property and tend not to specialize in one type, such as condos. Typically the only specialization here is commercial, which is quite different than residential real estate. Also, over 50% of buyers are from off Island and some are not sure where they want to buy. I regularly work from Campbell River to Nanaimo and have also worked outside that area.
Price: Obviously advising on price is very important for buyers and sellers and a good realtor will do some research here to show you what the market is doing as well as provide information on the type of home you are buying or selling. While a Realtor does this every day and has a good sense of the market and prices, it likely is new to you. That is why I like to take the time to review the information with you and answer all your questions. Whether we are in a buyer's or seller's market, or a slowing or increasing market, makes a difference. I like to approach pricing a couple of different ways, and the strategy we choose will make a difference. I'll also review recent changes to the industry and forecasts with you. You can see some of this under Market Update.
An artist takes in the surrounding scene at Simms Park in Courtenay.
I like to set both buyers and sellers up on a PCS search to help them get to know the market and pricing, ideally before they are ready to act. Other than having a Realtor do some research for you, PCS is the only place you can see what a home sold for, which is important for learning about pricing. See PCS for more on this feature.
Legal: While Realtors are not lawyers, they do need to know enough to write enforceable contracts. This is particularly important for the subject to clauses. They should also be able to explain the basic terms and your rights and obligations. More complicated issues, or something unique on title, may need talking to a lawyer. I like to provide buyer's and sellers with a standard contract to review and discuss in advance, so they are familiar with it when a real offer is made.
There is more than just the contract. There are matters covered under the Real Estate Services Act, the real estate council and the real estate board that affect what can be done and when, such as what needs to be disclosed by the seller on the property disclosure statement, how to handle multiple offers, and the treatment of confidential information. Your realtor is duty bound to follow all your lawful instructions. If asked to do something illegal or unethical, they should refuse and if need be, terminate the relationship.
Market intelligence: Obviously, your Realtor needs to know the market you are looking at, and keep that knowledge up to date. This is especially important in a changing market such as we have now. I will not only give you my opinion of what the market is telling us, I will do some research and show you the information that I am basing that opinion on.
Regulatory: Realtors are regulated and expected to conform to the regulations of the Real Estate Service Act, the rules of the Real Estate Council of BC, as well as their local board. Their duties to treat you fairly and professionally are clearly defined.
Past client testimonials: Be sure to ask about past clients feedback from Realtors you are considering. See Client Feedback.
On June 15, 2018 new Rules were implemented regarding how agency is communicated to the consumer and they entail several forms Realtors are required to review with consumers prior to starting to work with them. There are now only two types of relationships you can have with a Realtor, a client and unrepresented party relationship.
This Market Blog covers these new forms, and their purposes in more detail. Agency law is common law which means that two or more people could find themselves in an agency relationship without intending to or signing an agency agreement. In a nutshell, it comes down to information shared between the parties. If consumers share personal information, then an agency relationship may exist. In answering questions and providing information, if a Realtor essentially is giving advice, then an agency relationship may exist. The new forms and rules are designed to educate consumers and avoid having an unattended agency relationship.
An unrepresented party relationship, formally called a customer, this relationship usually occurs if you attend an open house or call about a listing and ask general factual questions about the listing. Basically, when you are just asking for information. Setting up a search for you or viewing one of their listings does not automatically create an agency relationship. In this relationship a Realtor must be honest with the unrepresented party and fully disclose important information, though they do not have the same duties they have with a client, such as confidentiality and undivided loyalty.
An Client (agency) relationship brings several duties to the Realtor that they must adhere to.
With the new rules limited dual agency has been eliminated. This occurred when a Realtor was the agent for both the buyer and seller of a property or representing two buyers for the same property. This too is covered more in the Market Blog.
A beach-side massage hut at a Comox Valley spa.
An excellent adventure Gerry. We are sincerely grateful for your tireless efforts in helping us buy our family home, long distance. All the groundwork you did before we even arrived in Courtenay afforded us an understanding of the North Island real estate market as well as the communities themselves and made our two weeks of house hunting focused and, ultimately, successful. We have already recommended your services to friends who are contemplating a move to the Island. Many thanks, Gerry. Krys and Bill McDonald. See Client Feedback for more client comments.