Ever wonder what, exactly, is the job a real estate agent who is helping a buyer find a new home?

The vast majority of real estate agents in Ontario are working under independent contractor agreements.  While they are required to be affiliated with a real estate brokerage, almost all real estate agents are in 100% commission-based positions.  As such, their effective boss is whichever client they are working with at the time.

If you think of a job where your boss changes regularly and the job which you’re doing is something your boss has encountered maybe once every five years, you can understand how there is some confusion about the actual job duties of a real estate agent.

Some real estate agents think their job is to do what their clients tell them and fill out paperwork.  Often, we don’t encounter those real estate agents again as they’ve failed out of the industry.

Other agents think their job is to direct their clients as to what to do without considering the client’s particular situation.  Those agents last surprisingly long in real estate, as a number of clients confuse confidence with capability.

Here’s our take on what the job of a real estate agent is when it comes to working with buyer clients.

Identify Issues

When a buyer walks through a prospective home, they’re considering what it would be like to live in the home.  They think about their lifestyle, their furniture, their family – and they need to decide if this is a home that will work.

While that is happening, the job of their real estate agent is to identify issues, using their experience in helping many people buy, to make sure it isn’t a purchase that they end up regretting.  Practically speaking, this means looking for:

  • Material defects such as issues with windows, water damage, flooring issues, etc.
  • Sub-optimal situations such as lack of privacy on outdoor areas (balcony, backyard), proximity to non-residential neighbours (commercial property near freehold homes, garbage chutes near condo units), etc.
  • Layout or attribute issues (no way to cook and watch a toddler, no private space for a home office without sound travelling, etc.)

Prevent Problems

The next part of the buyer agent job is to help prevent problems.  There are often assumptions made about what can or will happen after possession that turn out to be incorrect.

While no home is 100% perfect, your agent needs to do the work to make sure you don’t buy a home only to find out one of the primary draws for the property is in fact not possible.  Some examples include:

  • Checking to make sure that the building permits your size and type of pet, as there are often limitations as to weight and to permitted pets.
  • Checking to make sure street parking is not only permitted but currently available, rather than finding out after purchase there is a wait-list and you won’t be able to actually park near your new home.
  • Reviewing the status certificate package or home inspection with your buyer to make sure that there aren’t upcoming issues that will cause problems to remedy.

Explain Expectations

The final important aspect for a buying agent is to help explain expectations for what comes next to their buyer.  This often comes in the form of answering questions well before they actually need to be answered so that the buyer can plan accordingly.

  • How much is a reasonable deposit (typically 5% of purchase price) and when does it have to be available (either on the offer date or typically the next day)?
  • When on closing will the buyer get keys and access to the property? (Don’t expect it to be before 5 PM and it is smart to not hire movers for the day of closing as delays do happen.)
  • What will the property look like when we move in? Will we need to have it cleaned?  Buy blinds and window coverings?  Will all light fixtures remain?  (It should be clean and broom swept but likely won’t be sparkling clean and what remains will be dictated by our Agreement of Purchase and Sale).

The above three points are what constitute the important tasks for a buyer agent in our opinion.  While proactively searching for options, organizing showings and preparing paperwork are of course crucial components to buying a home, that is not where the job ends.  In fact, those tasks should be the bare minimum for a buyer agent, and it is by identifying issues, preventing problems and explaining expectations that you end up with a great purchase experience.  Throw in aggressive negotiating to get you the best deal possible and you’ve got a solid agent working for you!

If that sounds appealing and you want to work with an agent who knows their job and how to help you get what you want, please get in touch.