Word To Your Mother!

Opinion | October 9, 2009

If you’re between 25 – 35 years old and you’re looking to buy a house or condo, why would you use your mother’s Realtor?

Your mother’s Realtor is the same age as your mother, and unless science is mistaken, I’d hazard a guess that this means the Realtor is significantly older than YOU!


Guess how many $10,000,000 houses I have sold in my career?


It’s okay, I can admit it.

My experience in this price bracket is somewhat limited, in that I’ve never even been inside a $10,000,000 house.  But I think it goes without saying that if a buyer wanted to use my services to buy their $10,000,000 house, I would gladly work for them….and the commission.

I might not ask it, but I’d be curious to know why that buyer would use the services of a 29-year-old real estate agent to buy his $10,000,000 house when he could use Elise Kalles from Harvey Kalles Real Estate, whose name is synonymous with houses in this price range.  Or how about Sotheby’s, who does a ton of work on the listing end in this price bracket?

As I explained to a new client the other day, there are 28,000 Realtors in the GTA, and many of them are awful.

Some are part-time, some are retirees who come back into the workforce, some are housewives whose kids have gone off to university.

Many are unintelligent, unorganized, and/or incompetent.

And I would honestly guess that a good portion of buyers and sellers would say that they were dissatisfied with the service their Realtor provided!  The reason: they didn’t find a Realtor that they could “mesh” with!

A few months ago, I was showing my clients a condo at DNA in the King West neighborhood, and I ran into a girl I hadn’t seen since high school who was also looking at the same condo with her agent.  We exchanged pleasantries, but I didn’t really catch up with her since her Realtor was standing next to her, somewhat guarded, and since I had my own clients to look after.

I couldn’t help but notice that while she is 29-years-old, her Realtor looked to be about SIXTY, and had the most awesome plaid three-piece-suit from the 1970’s!  After they left, I looked at the business card that her Realtor had left on the counter and low and behold, he hailed from Mississauga!

So I can’t say that I was surprised when this girl looked me up the other day and asked if she could refer her friend to me because she was unhappy with the service that her Realtor provided!

Well, duh!

It’s not that he’s a bad guy, nor is he necessarily a bad Realtor!

But how can a sixty-year-old man who works out of Mississauga help a twenty-nine-year-old girl who is looking to buy a condo in downtown Toronto?

These two people just don’t mesh.  They have no professional/personal chemistry.

This girl lives her life as a 29-year-old in Toronto, and this man lives his life as a 60-year-old in Mississauga.  How can he possibly claim to know what she’s looking for?

More to the point, what is his knowledge of the Toronto condo market?

I’ve heard people say, “All Realtors have access to the same information on MLS so it’s not like one agent can do something that another can’t.”

Uhhh, yeah they can!  It’s called “experience!”  Ask me how many treadmills are in the gym at 20 Blue Jays Way, and I’ll tell you there are eight.  I have spent the last six years obsessively memorizing every single condominium in the city, and every mundane detail about those buildings!

Am I the “best” agent in the city?  Probably not.  But I sure know more about what a 29-year-old Toronto girl is looking for than a 60-year-old dude from Sauga!

A couple of months ago, an older agent in my office approached me and asked me to help her out.

I have crossed paths with this woman a few times, but never really conversed with her.  She asked me if I could help her “understand” the condo market, and while I agreed, I had no clue what I was getting myself into.

“Brenda” is in her late-50’s, and sells high-end houses.  In fact, she told me she hasn’t sold a condo in FIFTEEN YEARS!

The kid of one of her clients is looking to buy a condo, and of course, this kid’s mother said, “You have to use my agent, Brenda, from Bosley.”

So Brenda came to me and said, “What condos are good?”  As if this weren’t the most open ended question since the first girl on earth ever said, “How do I look?”

I asked Brenda, “Where does he want to live?  Downtown, midtown, uptown?”

Brenda said, “I’m not sure.  What’s the difference?”

If you were to ask Brenda to name the public schools in North Toronto, I bet she could rattle them off as she’s been doing for her house-buying, family-oriented clients for the past twenty years.

But does Brenda know anything about condos?

Brenda’s new client was 24-years-old and went to Northern, so I’m somewhat familiar with his demographic.

I struggled to understand how this kid’s mother could assume that her Realtor, Brenda, would have any clue how to service his needs.

In fact, I would bet that this kid knows more about downtown condos than Brenda!

Knowing that this kid is 24-years-old and has money, I suggested they take a look in the King West area around Brant Street or Portland Street.  Brenda asked, “Where is Portland?”  I told her that it’s a side-street just off King where there are a few new developments, all high(er) end, all attracting the sub-30 year-old demographic.

Brenda asked me, “How much do they go for?”  And all of a sudden, I felt like I was her Realtor, and she was my client!

Every other day for a month, Brenda would update me on their condo viewings, and they always seemed to be in different locations, have different style, and essentially be completely different products!

One day they’d look at a townhouse condo at Yonge/Eglinton, the next day they’d look at a hard-loft conversion in Little Italy!  Brenda was basically showing him everything in the city until he chose something!

Is that service?

Is that expertise?

Is that helping your client to make an informed, knowledgeable decision?

I don’t think so.

Brenda never should have worked with this kid, or should I say – this kid should have never worked with Brenda!

Chances are, the kid’s mother didn’t give him any choice in the matter.  She probably said, “You’re working with Brenda, and that’s that.”  Especially if she was paying for the condo, which I all but assumed was the case…

Like I said before – I wouldn’t expect somebody to work with me if they’re looking to buy a $10,000,000 house.  That’s not my demographic, nor is that my expertise.

So it always pains me to hear about somebody that was forced to work with their parents’ Realtor, or a friend of their parents who just got into the business.

Of the 28,000 Realtors in the city of Toronto, I don’t know how many are worth their salt.  Maybe a few thousand?  Okay, call it “several” thousand.

But even the best of the best of the best might not be right for everybody!

As a buyer, you really need to find a Realtor who can understand who you are and what you’re all about.  You need a Realtor that you can gel with and it helps if that person is around the same age as you, or maybe just went through the same phase in life that you’re going through.

It’s not all about age, but it does play a factor.

I remember doing open houses for $1.6M properties in North Toronto in my first year of real estate, and the people that walked in were the same age as my parents.  They looked at me like they look at their kids, so why the hell would they walk in off the street and buy a house from me?  Would they ever listen to their kid if he said, “Yo, Dad, you should totally spend a cool mill on this wicked house over here”?

If you’re one of my 25 – 35 year old readers and your parents are “forcing” you to use their Realtor, just consider what I’ve written above.

I’ve heard too many horror stories and seen too many young people end up living down the hall from the former cast of The Golden Girls


Back To Top

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


  1. Clide

    at 7:22 am

    David, my agent, who has bought and sold properties with me a few times, is about twice my age. I’ve never had any concerns with her not being familiar with the buildings and areas I’m interested in. She knows every building in central Toronto, has no problem emailing me right away, but best of all, she has the experience of multiple positive and negative cycles to help guide my real estate decisions. I’m sure a lot of those bad agents with not be renewing their licenses when the work drys up during the next cooling of the market.

    I agree with you that you must get an agent that knows the area you are looking in, when I sold my first condo, I was always baffled by the agents driving in from Mississauga and Newmarket to look at a condo with their client in Midtown. It was even more annoying when we were negotiating the sale and the buyer’s agent was making grossly inaccurate comparisons between buildings on the street. Sorry, not all 1 bedroom condos can be compared equally, there are subtle differences that directly affect the price.

  2. Frank

    at 1:18 pm

    Having an agent who was twelve years old the last time the RE market was in a prolonged down swing, or who has never known 15% mortgage rates and doesn’t think that could ever happen, has its disadvantages.

  3. Pingback: Latest find a realtor gta news – Virgins (1) — Greater Fool – The Troubled Future of Real Estate
  4. Jen

    at 12:33 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree that you need to work with an agent that lives, eats and breathes the area they specialize in….especially when it comes to buyers. I can’t stand the condo market and won’t touch downtown. I know nothing about it and couldn’t provide a penny of value to a client.

    But that same logic applies the other way too. You can’t be a downtown condo expert and then buy residential in the west-end and claim to offer the same level of service as someone who specializes in that area? Just sayin. 80% of the time that a house sells for a ridiculous price, over list in Bloor West or Roncy, it’s a downtown realtor. Never fails. When we have listings and we get a registered offer from someone downtown….we always think cha-ching!!! They usually come in $50-$90k OVER every other offer. Ironically the realtors that show up from ‘Sauga’ usually come in under asking, even if there are 8 offers….equally comical.

    Everyone should just stick to their core business and be an expert at that. You can’t be everything to everyone.

Back To Comments