There’s a very well known phrase in real estate.
Location, location, location.
It’s apparently the three most important things when buying a property.
I actually agree that location is crucial – in fact, I discussed it at length in an article from three years ago and I haven’t changed my mind since.
Today I want to talk about a different aspect of location, namely whether it matters if your real estate agent is local. Please note, I said local, not loco.
It’s a question I deal with all the time because of how my business works. I’ve been a full-time Realtor now for over 7 years and the majority of my business comes from repeat clients and referrals from people who know and trust me.
Let’s examine those two for a moment.
A repeat client is someone I helped buy or sell real estate in the past. If I helped them buy, I’m absolutely familiar with the home and area as part of my promise to my clients is we make sure that the street, neighbourhood and area is one that will do well. If a buyer client calls me up again, it’s often because they have had some change in their life circumstances and need my help to sell the home.
A referral is when someone (often a past client) who knows and trusts me, introduces me to someone who needs to buy or sell real estate. It could be a work colleague who is moving to Kitchener, a relative who inherited a home in North York they have to sell or a friend who wants to buy in Mississauga.
Whether it is a repeat client who trusts me and needs my help in their next step or a referral client who received my name from a trusted source, I don’t choose the location.
About the only people who are wide open as to where the deal takes places are investors, as they are mostly looking for the best possible investment. As such, they are open to where the property is located. Ironically, given the run up in prices in Toronto, we mostly look in the outskirts of the GTA for the best deals for investors!
The point here is that I regularly get asked if I can help people buy or sell real estate in areas outside of my neighbourhood.
In each case, I consider the situation thoroughly before I answer. I mean it when I say I hold myself responsible for what comes next. That commitment to doing what’s best for my clients is why I’ve been able to grow my business each year and I’m serious about only taking on clients when it makes sense.
Let’s answer whether it makes sense if your agent is local from the perspective of a buyer and a seller.
Does it matter if my buyer agent is local?
My answer to this question is to pull an old politician trick and answer a different question than the one I was asked.
“Does it matter if you can see a potential property quickly? Absolutely!”
The biggest reason for why people hire a local agent when they’re looking to buy is because they need someone who can quickly and easily book and show them a property that comes on the market. Regardless of whether it is a seller’s market, a buyer’s market or somewhere in between, real estate is an industry where time is of the essence. Wait too long and the perfect property may be bought by someone else who also thinks it’s perfect.
I firmly agree with this and when I get a repeat client or a referral client who is looking for properties in an area that is geographically pretty far from me, I bring in help.
If it’s really far away (typically more than an hour), I will often refer the client to a great Realtor in the area I know will do a fantastic job. I have interviewed and chosen Realtors in cities across Ontario, Canada and even the States for clients who trusted me to find them good help in their search.
If it’s not that far away but might cause problems on occasion if I can’t get there quickly, I partner with Realtors in the area. Sometimes that is simply making sure they can show a property if I can’t, other times we both take on the client together. No additional cost for the client either way – just timely, full service.
The other aspect when considering hiring a local agent is the depth of knowledge about the area. Can a Realtor from outside the area know about the local schools, which areas are up and coming and which are heading down? Yes they can, but it requires work.
I take it as a requirement when working with clients that I familiarize myself with the local area in which they want to buy. I can’t very well be responsible for what comes next if I have no idea what comes next. Fortunately, technology today means that I can very quickly get comfortable with what is going on in a given neighbourhood or street. Even better, with a bit more time spent on the stats for the area, I can tell my clients EXACTLY what is happening. On a number of occasions I’ve been better informed than the agent who lives down the street because I did my research. Knowledge is power.
So does it matter if your Realtor is a local agent when you buy a home? No – it matters if your Realtor leverages connections and partners to make sure you can see properties quickly. It matters that they are familiar with the area and can properly advise you. It matters that they take what they’ve experienced in other areas to offer valuable insights and provide you with the most effective approach to finding you a home you’ll love.
Does it matter if my listing agent is local?
Let’s look at this other side and consider what is important when you’re selling your home.
The three most important things your listing agent needs to do with your home are as follows.
- Price it properly.
- Market it effectively.
- Negotiate it aggressively.
You’ll note I didn’t add in another bullet point that says “Live next door.”
In my experience, agents who only work in one particular area tend to get pretty set in their ways. I’ve known very successful agents who do lots of business in one particular neighbourhood. When they get listings outside of that neighbourhood, they struggle, because they don’t know how to sell houses – they know how to sell their neighbourhood.
I’ve sold homes all across Toronto and in Brampton, Mississauga, Oakville, Ajax and more. I’ve sold detached homes, semis, townhouses, condo apartments. I’ve sold former grow-ops, land value only properties, homes renovated to the 9s and homes that needed to be gutted. I know how to sell real estate.
As a result of this knowledge, I understand that you don’t need to be living next door to a home in order to sell it for the best possible price in the least amount of time.
For showings, the vast majority of buyers have their own purchaser agent who books and shows the property themselves. If they don’t, we make arrangements for me to show it or I again leverage my connections to get it shown quickly.
I occasionally hear it said that you need to hire a local agent to list your home, otherwise local agents won’t show your property.
The vast majority of real estate agents do only a few deals per year. For buyer agents, their ability to make money is based on finding their client a property they want to buy. The idea that a local Realtor will boycott listings with non-local agents is just ridiculous. Can you imagine a local buyer asking their local agent to show that house over there with the For Sale sign, to have their agent explain they won’t because they don’t like agents from out of town?
In fact, there is a strong argument to be made that agents from out of the area have networks that bring in buyers who might not have otherwise considered the property. After all, buying and selling of real estate takes places because people are moving. In many cases, it is because of a change to their circumstances where their current location no longer works. You may know people who moved on the same street or in the same neighbourhood but I wager you know lots more people who moved across town or into other cities or municipalities entirely.
I regularly work with buyers who are moving for work, to be closer to family or for other geographic reasons. We leave one area and move to another. Local listing agents may be able to say they know more local residents, but when you look at the purchasing agents for a given area, you find agents and presumably buyers from all over the place. I recently looked up buyer agents for a neighbourhood in Holland Landing (a town north of Newmarket) and recent sales had seen buyer agents from Thornhill, Richmond Hill, King City, Newmarket and Aurora.
The final reason I most often hear for hiring a local agent is their knowledge of the local market. I wholeheartedly agree it’s easier for a local agent to sell a house in their area. Sorry, I mean easier for the agent. They don’t have to do research into what’s going on and they don’t need to make sure they are current on changes in the market. They assume they know everything they need to know because they live and work there.
In reality, I’ve found local agents are often the most out of touch with what is happening in the broader real estate market and even changes coming to their market. It is a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. A good listing agent can do the research and come to a deep understanding of any market when they put in the time and energy. It’s more work than if you’re a local agent, but I find most clients don’t mind their Realtors working a little harder.
So does it matter if your Realtor is a local agent when selling your home? No – it matters that they are experienced in selling real estate. It matters that they do the work to understand the local market and place it in the context of what is happening outside of the street or neighbourhood to get you the best price in the least amount of time.
If you or someone you like is considering buying or selling, please get in touch with me. I will help if I am convinced I can do a great job, I’ll find you a great agent if you’re too far away and I’ll always make sure I can be responsible for what comes next.
Houses with smooth hard walls made of prefabricated panels, concrete, gypsum, steel, aluminum or glass always stay impersonal and dead.
This is a design lesson that initially feels a bit dated, given the book was written in 1977. When you consider it though, we do see major differences in the feel of an older home with thick walls compared to modern construction where that thickness is no longer required. Is double brick insulation the best way to build now? No it is not. Is exposed brick an enduring and very appealing look to many homeowners – yes, absolutely.
This rule advocates for thicker walls in places to allow seats, alcoves and other places that feel more substantial and comfortable than modern construction often permits. Make thicker walls with usable space and you’ll be surprised at how the “wasted” extra thickness creates a very appealing feel to a room.