Real estate agents

I have found that real estate buyer agents, like most sales staff on commission in any industry, fall into three categories:

1. There are the ethical, knowledgeable professionals who do work hard to find good homes at reasonable prices for their clients. They know what condominiums have satisfied residents, are priced right and are maintaining or increasing in value and which ones are poorly managed and are poorly maintained.

2. There are the average agents who do an adequate job helping people buy and sell their homes. They may not get you a bargain but they will not knowingly do you any harm either.

3. Then there are the dregs of the industry that are interested only in their commissions. They will knowingly sell you a home in a “distressed” building where there is little chance that you will see a good return on your investment.

Seller's agent
Thirty-five years ago, I listed my condo with an agent from a local real estate office. He told me that when he was showing a house in a once prestigious but now declining area of Mississauga, he would take a route that hid the neighbourhood rental apartment buildings and townhouses.

I then knew that it was okay listing with this man but I certainly would not buy from him. As this Internet posting shows, this old trick has not gone away.

We bought a condo a little over two years ago down the street from 200 Wellesley above the Rabba store.

When we first went to see our condo, the realtor would only show it during the morning and he gave us a detailed map that clearly showed a route avoiding the 200 Wellesley building and Blecker Street, which he clearly wanted us to avoid.

He also made a point of talking to us more when we were inside the condo so we were rarely looking at 200 Wellesley during the viewing. Even some of the pictures he first showed us had 200 Wellesley digitally removed with Photoshop.

We were completely misled. We had no idea the area was full of HIV positive intravenous drug users, crack heads, prostitutes and drug dealers.

I don’t even live in 200 Wellesley and it has affected me hugely. My wife, daughter and myself are all in therapy because of it. After we moved in we witnessed drug deals daily during the day and night and still do 24/7.

My wife got robbed at 7:30 pm going to the Rabba store at gunpoint a couple months ago. At that point we started looking for other living arrangements.

We plan to sell or rent the unit out but we will be honest with whoever is interested.

This posting by an owner struck my curiosity. I looked up his building using a couple of search engines and all I found was pages upon pages of listings by real estate agents trying to sell units in this condo. This one seems typical.

This is a very nice building but it is situated in a rough part of town. The selling agents will not mention neighbourhood street crime, prostitution, drug dealing or the neighbourhood homeless or 200 Wellesley; the nearby notorious large public housing complex.

Quite a promise

Here is a description of a condo unit that I found on the Internet. "Great fees for years to come." Really, that is quite the claim.

At the time this listing was on MLS, (Jan 2014) it was true that this condo corporation had no fee increases in the previous five years, but it just went through a special assessment of $9,000 a unit, maintenance has been neglected for years, there is no money in the reserve fund and the old board was in court fighting the new board in an attempt to get back in power.

How come I didn't read any of that in this sales pitch? (By the way, a short time later, the monthly fees at this condo went up 86%.)

Buyer's agent
So who can you turn to to guide you in making a wise home purchase? I suggest that you use a credible buyer agent that knows the neighbourhood you are interesting in and who's sole duty is to look after your interests.

The listing agent works in the seller's best interests, not yours.

Do some work yourself
Take a look at the building and around the neighbourhood in the late afternoon when people are coming home from work. Walk through the condo's hallways during dinner time and shortly after. Check for excessive noise, loitering and cooking odors. That will help you decide if this is the building for you.

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