5 things your realtor isn’t telling you

Why haggling is OK, reno advice to avoid, and more

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From the December 2015 issue of the magazine.

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real estate agents

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1. There’s more on the market than what I’m showing you. A realtor’s job is to find homes that meet your criteria, but don’t be surprised if they have some of their own—like how much they’ll get paid in commissions. “Homes can be eliminated because the realtor will earn less,” says Tarik Gidamy of web-based realty service theredpin.com.

2. You can haggle with me. Real estate is competitive so just about everything is open to negotiation—including a realtor’s commission. This doesn’t mean every realtor will reduce the percentage of what they earn, but you could end up with a few extras. Take Toronto realtor Damian Listar who offers free professional staging advice to all his sellers at an approximate value of $250.

3. You should question my reno advice. While looking at a house with a backyard, your realtor may suggest adding a multi-level deck. Sounds perfect—but the city may have other ideas. To avoid surprises, take your realtors casual suggestions regarding home renovations with a grain of salt. Instead, check zoning and building codes at your city’s planning department.

4. I pocket a bit extra. Some realtors accept referral fees from mortgage brokers, home inspectors and renovators—as much as 30% of an overall commission or as little as a $100 fee. Not disclosing this to you is a serious offence because it could mean a referral is not in your best interest, says Joseph Richer, registrar with the Real Estate Council of Ontario. “The realtor must disclose, in writing, that they are receiving a referral fee, what the fee will be and how it will be paid,” says Richer.

5. It’s not easy breaking up with me. Standard realtor contracts in Canada last for six months, which can be problematic if you get stuck with an unmotivated agent. You’re always better off asking your realtor for a shorter contract length such as three months—enough time to finalize a sale, or for you to move on to a new agent.

4 comments on “5 things your realtor isn’t telling you

  1. These comments ‘could’ be true but remember a good Realtor is actually working in your best interests. Don’t you think he/she would like to get some repeat business from you as well as perhaps some referrals?! Why would someone in the service industry try to do a crappy job for you? It doesn’t make sense…. but negative reporting or articles make sense because they sell print! Every writer likes to flash a little dirt to get attention!!


    • I agree with G. Kincaid that the majority of realtors are good and work in the interest of their clients. But one needs to understand the bad that’s out there to appreciate the good, and any advice in a very expensive and competitive market is welcome as far as I am concerned. That said, I have encountered sales people who are out there to rake it in with no regard to future ramifications. Desperate (and greedy agents) are a fact in competitive markets. Humankind hasn’t evolved out of that characterization yet I’m afraid.


  2. Don’t solely rely on an agent. Realtors are sales people like car sales man. They work for commission and not all the sellers offer same commission.

    You should always do your own research online.


  3. My folks negotiated a decent commission percentage with their agent, nearly half the rate others were charging, and they got decent offers on their home near the initial valuation. However, point 1 in this article does resonate with me because it took that agent a month to get them their first offer. Could this have been a result of his focus elsewhere until he figured out there was no more opportunity in the market?


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