How to Find a Real Estate Agent in Canada

This Page's Content Was Last Updated: March 15, 2024
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Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, or maybe you’re a first-time home buyer or downsizing for retirement, a real estate agent can help you save money or secure a higher selling price for your home. A great real estate agent will also understand first-time home buyer incentives to save you thousands of dollars potentially. This page will take a look at how to find a real estate agent in Canada, and tips and tricks when deciding how to choose the right real estate agent.

What You Should Know

  • You can find real estate agents through referrals, from ads, other agents, looking at active listings, and from online platforms
  • Once you have a few agents in mind, choosing a real estate agent means looking at their local knowledge, experience, commission, and having good chemistry
  • If you’re a buyer, it’s better to get your finances in order first by getting a mortgage pre-approval and having a down payment ready before searching for an agent
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Finding a Real Estate Agent


Do You Need a Listing or Selling Agent?

Listing AgentSelling Agent
RepresentHome sellersHome buyers
Primary Tasks
  • Finding relevant listings
  • Schedule showings
  • Negotiation
For Sellers

If you’re planning on selling your home, the main things to do are to declutter, repair, and clean. You’ll want your home to be in a somewhat presentable condition so that your future real estate agent can properly assess your property and come up with a selling strategy. This includes opening up your home by removing clutter and excess furniture, dusting and cleaning, and painting and landscaping. If you will also be moving and buying a home, you should also follow the process for a potential home buyer too. This includes getting a mortgage pre-approval and noting what type of home you would like to search for.

For Buyers

If you’re planning on buying a home, you should start getting your finances in order. The main thing to do is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. A mortgage pre-approval will not only let you know if you are likely to be approved for a mortgage, but also for how much. Your maximum home purchase price is affected by your mortgage interest rate. This means, having lower mortgage rates in Canada will allow you to purchase a more expensive home. Also, make sure to have the required mortgage documentation when applying for a mortgage.

Hopefully, you’ve already got enough savings for a minimum down payment. If not, you will need to start saving up right now. Common strategies to financing your down payment include investing in a TFSA (keeping in mind TFSA contribution limits) or leveraging the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan. Besides finances, it’s also a good idea to have a general idea of what home you want to buy. Start listing things you would like, such as a particular area or neighbourhood, home type, and price range.

How to Find a Real Estate Agent

Now that you’re ready to start your search for a real estate agent, it’s time to start looking! When looking for a real estate agent, it’s important to check to see if they are licensed. Real estate agents in Canada are licensed provincially. You might also decide to only look for licensed real estate professionals that are also members of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

Sold home image

Here’s four ways that you can find real estate agents in Canada:

ReferralsHear first-hand experience from previous clientsYou might only be referred to one or two agents, which limits your options and ability to compare agents
AdvertisementsFind agents with little effortLack of information and reviews, potentially biased information
Active ListingsSee the work of agent beforehandLack of information and reviews
Online PlatformsSee reviews and information such as years and transaction experience Requires comfort using digital tools
  1. Referrals

    Referrals are one of the most common ways to find a real estate agent. Recommendations from friends, family or real estate lawyers can point you in the direction of agents that have served them well in the past. They will also be able to let you know their first-hand experience with the agent, whether it be positive or negative.

    Just like how a real estate agent can refer you to mortgage brokers, lawyers, and other real estate services, a real estate agent can refer you to another agent. When a real estate agent does this, they’re called a referral agent. You might ask a local real estate agent for a referral if you’re planning on buying a home in a different area that you’re not so familiar with. The referral agent can use their connections and network to help you find an agent in that new area.

  2. Advertisements

    You’ve probably already seen numerous ads for real estate agents, from billboards to newspapers to TV and radio ads. Instead of searching for an agent, real estate ads bring agents right to your attention. Flashy and expensive ads might suggest that the agent has a strong marketing team, but it might not necessarily mean that your home listing will get the same treatment. If you choose an agent found through ads, you should still ask for references or read reviews from their previous clients.

  3. Active Listings

    Maybe you’ve attended an open house and thought that the agent would be an excellent fit for your transaction. Or maybe you’ve been looking at listings online and you liked the way an agent has staged the home and made the listing. If you like what you see, you can always ask a real estate agent from an unrelated listing to be your real estate agent for your transaction.

  4. Online Platforms

    Online platforms, such as, Fivewalls, and LinkedIn, are websites that you can go to that allows you to easily search for real estate agents. These platforms may differ in the ways they show the agents. It is best to compare different platforms and real estate agents before choosing to work with one.

    ReferralsAdvertisingActive ListingsOnline Platforms
    Gone Through a Vetting Process✔️Depends
    See Previous Transactions✔️
    Matches and Recommends Agents that Fit Your Criteria✔️
    Client Reviews✔️Depends✔️
    Learn About Agent's Personality✔️✔️
    Unbiased InformationDepends✔️
    Number of Agents AvailableVery FewManyManyMany

Choosing a Real Estate Agent

You should try to short-list a couple of real estate agents that seem like good candidates. Once you have a list of potential agents, it's time to choose the best one for you. Here are some things to look out for when selecting a real estate agent:

Knowledge of the Local Real Estate Market

Having a real estate agent that is knowledgeable about the local market can help you out if you're buying or might know about local quirks when it comes to selling. Is a neighbourhood safe, or does it have a bad reputation? Is the location close to schools and stores? Having a local real estate agent can even help you find out about trends in the local market, such as potential future development or changes that might affect your home value. For listing agents, they might have a better idea of what works and what doesn't work for your local market.

Years of Experience

Experience comes hand-in-hand with knowledge of the real estate market, but it doesn't always mean that they're knowledgeable in a specific neighbourhood or area. Even so, having more years of experience would generally be a safer bet compared to choosing a real estate agent with no experience at all.

You'll also want to look at the number of transactions that the agent has completed. Transactions help build knowledge, and for those looking for an agent, the number of transactions, particularly in your local neighbourhood, is something you should keep an eye out for. The number of transactions that the agent has completed is also essential. Having many years of experience might not be as impressive if the agent has only completed a few transactions.


Home buyers don't need to worry about commissions as much as home sellers since buyers don't directly pay real estate commissions. If you're selling your home, you will need to pay for real estate commissions based on the sold price of your home. Real estate commissions can amount to tens of thousands of dollars, so it's something that you should keep in the back of your mind when looking for listing agents.

  • The commission is negotiable, so it might be worth negotiating a lower rate. Many services that a listing agent provides can be tied to the commission. If the agent agrees to a lower commission, they might not offer some services, such as professional photography or staging. Also, if a listing agent can't negotiate a higher commission for themselves, what does it mean for them to negotiate your home's sale price?
Chemistry and Trust

You will be working with your real estate agent for possibly a significant amount of time, so it's essential to have good chemistry. It might not foster an effective working relationship if you're not on the same wavelength or your personalities clash. Along the same lines, you're putting a lot of trust into your agent, and so you will want to be able to trust them and be comfortable with them.


You will want to have an available agent who can focus their time on you. A busy agent might mean that they are successful at attracting business, but the quality of service provided to you may suffer if they have to juggle multiple clients at once. Not all agents work full-time either. Part-time agents might have limited availability, which can be a disadvantage in hot housing markets where time can be of the essence when submitting offers.


Your real estate agent should be committed to you. If they don't seem to answer your calls or reply to your emails promptly, it might suggest that they are already overstretched in their workload. You'll also want to know who you will be working with. If you found your agent from an ad, it might have been advertising the best performing agent in a real estate team, but you might be handed off to another member on the team.

Marketing Skills

Marketing is crucial for home sellers to have their listings attract buyers. An easy way to check their marketing skills is to look at their current listings. Do their listing photos and description entice you to want to learn more and make an offer on the house? If not, your future listing might not be attractive to other prospective buyers either.

Having an agent that can make a strong listing and market it well will bring a lot of value to sellers. This includes digital marketing for real estate, such as paid online ads and an active social media presence. A tech-savvy buyer's agent can also scour the market for listings that much quicker.

Best 5-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates in Canada CanadaLeaf
Mortgage Term:

How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

Now that you know what to look out for when choosing a real estate agent, it's time to finally pick one! Interviewing a few of your short-listed candidates is one way to see if they're suitable and fill out all of your checkmarks. Asking for references from past clients is also a way to ensure that the agent is good in practice and not just good on paper.

There are ways to find agents while also giving you tools to choose the best agent for you. Whether you're a buyer or a seller, online real estate platforms can help match you to the best real estate agent based on your location, property type, and other criteria.

For example, you can read reviews left by previous clients and base your decision based on their testimonies. You can see the agent's transaction history to see their track record and number of sales. You can even get to know them better through their personalized profile and question and answers, depending on the website, plus get in touch with them directly.

Finding a real estate agent is the first step in starting your home buying or home selling journey. Now that you know how to find a local real estate agent and how to choose the right one for you, it's time to get started!

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