• In North America, where everyone knows 10-plus agents, the ones who do it right set themselves apart.
  • Good agents don't just wait for their clients to ask them questions: They are pro-active to ensure the client is getting the information they need.
  • When trying to buy a home in a hot market, it helps immensely to have an agent with a positive, steady attitude.

Selling my home was, of course, just the first of two chapters.

In part one of this series, I wrote about my experience listing my home and the many ways that our agent helped make the selling process easier and more successful.

When my wife and I woke up the next morning, we found ourselves buyers in the red-hot Vancouver housing market.

We wanted to stay, broadly, in the same Kitsilano area — close to my office, the kids’ grandparents and family-friendly community amenities.

We were searching for a three-bedroom condo, ground-oriented, hopefully with some outdoor space: essentially, the same thing every young family was eyeing in that neighborhood.

Advantage, seller

In the spring 2016 market, every listing that did not have serious defects was selling over asking price, with multiple, subject-free offers.

I work at a real estate company with some 700-plus agents. Our listing agent did a phenomenal job, but as a senior manager at the firm, I needed to share the business around, so we worked with a different buyer’s agent.

After some consideration, I selected someone who I knew to be both hard working and consistently positive. Buying our next home wasn’t going to be easy, and my wife and I wanted to work with an agent who could maintain optimism even if we lost out in a few multiple-offer situations.

A stand-out job early on

We started looking. We spent three weeks going to dozens of open houses.

We came close to writing a few offers, but there were so many other interested parties that we knew the price would push well beyond our budget.

We were starting to get discouraged, and a bit nervous; we only had a few months until we had to move!

Our agent stayed in daily communication with us, and he was always available by cell phone. He didn’t just send us listing auto alerts from the MLS, as many agents in our market do, but personally reviewed all the new inventory as it came out and only sent us the listings that conformed to our core dealbreakers.

’10 out of 10′

After about a month, our agent alerted us to a listing that was only two blocks away from our current home. It was one of a few unsold listings in an already-completed new development.

The photos online were underwhelming, but our agent saw past that. He pointed out that the floor plan might be perfect for us. My wife visited the unit that same afternoon, and sent me a text message: “10 out of 10!”

An hour later, we went for a second look with our Realtor.

Although it was officially listed as a ‘two bedroom,’ it had a large, exterior-facing den.  Our agent brought his tape measure, and we mapped out how to convert it into a third bedroom.

And although half the unit faced on to a busy street, because it was built with modern concrete construction, it was very quiet inside. Within three hours of the first viewing, we bought the condo.

Every step of the way

In the weeks before our move, our agent diligently followed up with the developer to ensure the few interior and appliance deficiencies were addressed. He handled all the closing details — the keys, the strata (HOA), the paperwork — so that we could focus on packing up our things.

Every step of the way, our agent added value to the buying process.

He didn’t just wait for us to ask him questions, but was proactive in reaching out to us and making sure we were seeing the right homes. Finding a new home with two small kids in tow is stressful, and our agent was always available.

Even late at night, we could give him a call and talk through options, next steps and strategies.

Just as our listing agent was able to realize a higher sale price for us through his full service approach, our buying agent saved us tens of thousands of dollars by finding a listing that did not on the face of it meet our needs, but worked great when we scratched beneath the surface.

Working with full-time, committed real estate professionals in both selling and buying helped us achieve a successful transition in our lives with a minimum of stress.

In North America, where everyone knows 10-plus agents, the ones who do it right set themselves apart.

Jonathan Cooper is vice president, operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group. You can follow him on Twitter @jtscooper or on LinkedIn.

Email Jonathan Cooper.

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