Q: What’s the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®?
“REALTOR®” and “real estate agent” are not interchangeable, although some real estate agents might like them to be. The term REALTOR® is a registered certification mark that identifies the quality of services rendered by licensed real estate agents who are members of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). All real estate agents are not REALTORS®, but all REALTOR® members are real estate agents. REALTOR® members are committed to a strict code of ethics known as the REALTOR® Code, and are the only ones who have the right to list your property on the MLS® Systems of their local real estate boards. To correctly be referred to as a REALTOR®, a real estate agent must be a member of CREA.
Q: How do I figure out what mortgage I can afford?
Determining the mortgage you can carry is based on a relatively simple calculation of loan amount, down payment, interest rate and amortization period.
A good rule of thumb when figuring your monthly housing cost is that it should not exceed 32% of your gross monthly family income or 40% of your gross monthly income.
Q: What questions should I ask when looking for a REALTOR®?
Here are 10 smart questions to ask. But remember, this is just a starting point. Your REALTOR® should be willing to answer any questions you have. After all, that’s why you hire the pros.
How long have you been in the business?
What is your average list-to-sales-price ratio?
How will your marketing plan meet my needs?
Will you provide references?
What separates you from your competition?
May I review documents that I will be asked to sign?
Can you help me find other professionals?
How much do you charge?
What if I’m unhappy with the service?
What haven’t I asked you that I need to know?
Q: Why should I hire a REALTOR®?
You’re trusting a REALTOR® with your most valuable possession, your home. REALTORS® take this responsibility very seriously. Here’s what we promise you:
Your REALTOR® is a trained professional
REALTORS® take extensive pre-licensing courses in order to obtain credentials for practicing in real estate.
Your REALTOR® is continuously trained
REALTORS® keep pace with the times by taking continuing education courses to upgrade their knowledge on a broad range of real estate related issues in order to be able to continue to provide consumers with current advice.
Your REALTOR® does everything by the book
A REALTOR® must be registered under provincial laws that govern exactly how real estate can and cannot be traded. These regulations are your legal guarantee of professional behavior.
Your REALTOR® is an ethical businessperson
REALTORS® must adhere to the extensive Code of Ethics of the Canadian Real Estate Association. Several provinces have additional codes of ethics governing real estate professionals. Your interests must always be put first.
Opportunity for recourse
Should you have concerns about the professional behavior of a REALTOR®, provincial regulators and your local real estate board or association take these matters very seriously and work quickly to resolve any issues.
Your REALTOR® has access to a local Board’s MLS® System
A Board’s MLS® system is the single most powerful tool for buying and selling a home. Your REALTOR® can provide you with exclusive features of the Board’s MLS® System, such as immediate notification when new properties are listed. You don’t have to wait for it to be posted on a web site.
Q: What should I expect when I enlist the help of a REALTOR® to sell my house?
REALTORS® help you get the most for your home and they remove stress and confusion from the process. Here are just some of the advantages.
Your REALTOR® becomes your home’s champion
When you sign a “Listing Agreement” with your REALTOR®, this is their promise that he or she will use all their skills and resources to get the most for your home.
REALTORS® know how to attract the most potential buyers
Your REALTOR® is an expert home promoter, connected to a network of agents and their buyers. He or she knows how to write compelling ads for your home, and only REALTORS® can place your home on a Board’s MLS® System.
REALTORS® will help you increase your homes “sale-ability”
You probably have an emotional attachment to your home, and therefore can’t view it objectively. Your REALTOR® will help you present your home in the best light, so buyers will fall in love with it more easily.
Market Knowledge – to help you get the most for your home
REALTORS® are masters of reading the market and pricing your home for maximum return. A REALTOR®’s experience literally pays!
Negotiation Skills – to keep the deal on track
REALTORS® are indispensable when it comes to bargaining with buyers. Tempers can flare and heels can dig in. Your REALTOR® is an expert at smoothing things out.
Q: Do I really need a REALTOR® to sell my home?
Many people who try to sell their own home end up using a REALTOR® in the end anyway. Before anybody decides to fly solo through this complex, time consuming and financially perilous process, they should consider these questions.
Will you really “save” the real estate commission?
When buyers see a home for sale ‘by the owner’, they see a bargain. They imagine the REALTOR®’s fee going into their pocket, not yours.
How many potential buyers will you reach?
Selling a home takes more than just hanging a “For Sale” sign. How will you promote your home? Will you write your own ads? How will you use the Internet? MLS® and the corresponding web site www.REALTOR.ca have changed the way people search for homes, and it’s hard to court buyers without it.
Do you have the time?
Promoting a home is a full time job, and you may already have one. Will you be able to take calls at any time? How about screening the callers to figure out if they’re suitable candidates? Not everybody who calls is even suitable to walk through your home, but how do you tell?
Do you know the market well enough to get the most for your home?
Lacking years of experience, the average do-it-yourselfer is merely guessing at their listing price. Often they set the price too low and miss out on thousands of dollars, or they price their home too high and drive away willing buyers.
Do you have the negotiation skills to keep a deal on track?
When an offer comes in, emotions can run high with so much money on the line. This is why direct seller-to-buyer deals often end in disaster. REALTORS® keep it professional and are indispensable when it comes to bargaining with buyers.