There is always a caution for agents not to step out of their area.
It’s important to note that real estate professionals are registered and entitled to practice throughout all of Ontario, all 90,000 of them. Essentially, there are no limits or restrictions.
The same is true with respect to a driver’s licence. You are entitled to go anywhere, not just drive around in your own neighbourhood. You should know the rules and regulations, and if you are driving around in an area where you have never been before, THEN, “follow the signs”.
The same is true for real estate agents. They are equipped to look for properties throughout Ontario, and in areas where they are not familiar, they should “follow the signs”.
The advantage of a local agent is that they will “know things”, without having to make specific inquiry. You will appreciate that there is a “good and bad” to this story. Sometimes, they simply “know things out of their sub-conscious”. The elementary school is excellent and the high school is one to avoid. The local agent may have a personal bias. They know both schools, they went to both schools but that was “twenty years ago”.
The agent from out of town, will have to make specific inquiry. If they are sufficiently diligent, they should come up the up-to-date correct information. Naturally, as a Buyer you need the correct information, no matter the source.
If you look at the suburbs in Toronto you will find significant changes: old buildings torn down and new ones constructed. A local agent may have a strong bias to say that the north side of the street is the best area. It always was, and that can be proven. But, the little houses on the south side, all sitting on big lots have been demolished, there are only a few left. The biggest and best houses in an entire area, may now be the ones on the south side. This is new and recent information. Sometimes it takes a while to change an inherent bias.
Sometimes, the expertise of a local agent is in the “operational systems” namely, “septics and wells”. A local agent in the country may know and understand these systems very well, but a city agent with city water and city sewers may have no understanding whatsoever. Not, of course, that the necessary expertise cannot be obtained!
Political trends, price trends, new developments are all cited in the local newspapers on a regular basis. Now, you would think that information of that sort is confined to the local agent. Perhaps not! Have you heard of GOOGLE? With an hour or so of research, a city agent can easily learn a great deal about the community. In fact, if the city agent is to act, this step is an absolute must.
My strong recommendation, (even though I appreciate that this is a hotly contested topic) is for a city agent venturing into the countryside for the first time to:
- Refer the Buyer client to a local agent, or
- Share the Buyer client with a local agent, or
- Retain a local agent for advice and direction.
Here, #1 would be preferable, #2 is the second best choice and #3 provides at least some measure of protection from potential liability.
This is really the only way a city agent can safely do business in the country.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker