Picture this: you’re enjoying a dinner with your family and you mention that you’re considering buying or selling your home, “Oh, that’s great,” says Aunt Jo. “Your Cousin just became a realtor; you should call her to represent you!” In that situation, many people feel obligated. You want to be loyal to your family and really, does it matter that cousin Jane lives in Toronto? She’s visited the beautiful Bruce Peninsula, and how hard could it really be to help you do the paperwork to buy a home?
That might not be the best decision.
First of all, Grey & Bruce Counties have their own real estate board (The REALTORS® Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound). Not a big issue but that might make it difficult for Cousin Jane to actually search for (and find you) a home. You may find yourself seeing things on Realtor.ca before she sees them and by that time all the local realtors (and their clients) could have seen the popular listings.
If Jane is selling your home, is she marketing it to the local buyers? Does she have connections with local publications? Does she have a relevant local online presence that buyers are following?
When you are looking at listings, does Jane know how much value a garage adds in the area you like, or what our municipal zoning means? Is she familiar with the septic inspection requirements? Does she know where the up and coming communities are that will be good investments? Is she familiar with selling waterfront properties? Not likely. Maybe you already know exactly what you want and don’t need all that background info, but a local expert is the best person to have on your team.
So you find the perfect house and you’re worried that someone else is going to make an offer. Is Jane able to drop everything and drive two + hours to show it to you? Delaying your showing and/or making an offer because of Jane’s schedule could put you at a disadvantage.
When you’re ready to make an offer, does Jane know the local convention for deposits (which are much different than in the GTA), or what a house is likely to sell for, or what inspections need to be discussed in an offer, and will she be able to present in person if it’s a multiple offer situation? These things can dramatically affect your odds of getting the home you are after- so you should make sure she’s ready and capable of negotiating for you and your best interests.
Does Jane have a network of home inspectors, lenders, lawyers, service personnel etc. locally to make sure the deal closes smoothly? Is Jane prepared to come back to town to let your home inspector in, stay there for the entire duration, as well as for any additional walk-throughs etc.? Legally, she should be present for each visit for the entire duration, so you should make sure she will be available and again willing to make the long commute.
Jane is a great choice as a realtor if you’re shopping in her town, and it makes sense to support family if you can (and if it’s otherwise a good fit). But for her to support you in one of the biggest purchases you will ever make; you really need to ask yourself if it’s worth the hassle and potential issues for everyone involved.
It is okay to not use your family member as your realtor.
If you don’t want to insult Jane, why not call her first and tell her you are looking for a local REALTOR® and ask if there is anyone she can refer you to? Jane can make the introduction, not feel hurt when you don’t ask for her help, and if she makes a connection to a REALTOR® who is agreeable she is likely to get a referral fee. That way you get the expertise of a local sales representative who can be available to open doors, guide you on the nuances of our local market and not make you feel like you are inconveniencing Jane by having her drive four hours round trip just so you can have a walk-through.
You could even suggest a specific person for Jane to refer you to, and that’s where we come in. We are happy to work with referrals and give Jane a percentage for making the introduction and maybe even help keep the peace at your future extended family dinners!
As always, remember that realtors are here to help, if you have any questions, need advice or referrals please let us know.
The Terri Hastings Real Estate Team