5 things your realtor isn't telling you

5 things your realtor isn’t telling you

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

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.