Choosing the right real estate agent is like finding a good doctor. While a general practitioner is probably perfectly capable of advising you to address a wide range of conditions, specific circumstances require a specialist. The real estate industry is a big place, with professionals who specialize in buying, selling, or rental properties; luxury estates, condominiums, recreational homes and investment properties; urban, suburban and rural locations, with or without buildings. The list goes on. In the Greater Toronto Area alone, there are 56,000 licensed brokers and realtors. Here’s another fun fact: six percent of the agents to 90 percent of the business. So, how do you find the good ones?

Here’s some advice from a pro, on finding a pro.

The interview process. Interview a few agents. This is your opportunity to get to know them, how they work, and what their niche is. Importantly, it’s your chance to determine if your personalities mesh. You’ll be working closely for the duration of your purchase or sale – which, if you’ve found the right agent, shouldn’t take too long. Ask lots of questions, and note that they should be quick to reply. Be sure to inquire about current market conditions, and their volume of transactions. Do they offer creative solutions for buying or selling a home? Read testimonials, ask for references and reach out to them to find out what past clients have to say about the service they received. At the end of the process, go with your gut. A home is a huge investment, so ensure you’re comfortable with the realtor you choose.

Check the stats. If you’re buying or selling a home, you’ve likely had your eye on the market stats for some time. You’ve seen Toronto prices skyrocket and inventory plummet, along with interest rates. You’ve done your research. Be sure to also dig into your prospective agent’s numbers as well. How many real estate transactions have they facilitated in the last year? What’s their list-to-sale-price ratio? How many clients are they currently serving? What is their commission structure like? And importantly, can they speak to those all-important market stats with knowledge and confidence? Don’t settle for sub-par.

Is the agent connected? This is a broad topic, but important in every regard. Let’s start with the basics. Does the agent answer phone calls, text messages and emails? Timing is everything in real estate, so choose someone who will be responsive to your outreach. This is a good question to ask when speaking with the agent’s references. Is the agent active on social media? Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and great channels to reach potential buyers and find listings, so be sure the agent is tech-savvy. Be sure to comb through the agent’s website to see what their listings look like online. Since most people start their search for a new home online these days, and the global pandemic has given rise to the trend of virtual transactions, so a tech-savvy agent who makes a great digital impression is key.

A real estate transaction is an emotional experience, and there’s a lot of money at stake. The difference between a good and bad realtor can save or earn you tens of thousands of dollars. Don’t let an inexperienced agent learn at your expense, and never settle for second best. That’s my motto, and when it comes to your home, it should be yours too.