When my wife and I contacted Mike* to help us buy our first home, we thought he would be the perfect real estate agent – after all a realtor who is rated among the top 10 must be amazing at what he does, right? We learned the answer to this question the hard way…because shortly after the sale closed, our realtor disappeared. Just days after moving, we realized that we had been lied to, manipulated and had our trust violated – all in the name of the sale. We also learned a great lesson which we want to share with anyone looking for a home.

The nightmare began with Mike showing us awful homes that did not fit within our wish list or our budget. Emotionally, we began to feel like buying our dream home was impossible in Toronto. Then he took us to his own listing (a property he was representing as the selling agent), which we later found out was his friend’s home. We ended up most interested in Mike’s friend’s home, and once our offer was accepted. We did a pre-purchase inspection by an inspector that Mike, our trusted agent, recommended. Shortly after the inspector assured us that the home had no issues to worry about, we proceeded with the purchase and we were thrilled! As first time home buyers, we were so excited to start our new lives, in our new home.

Immediately after the sale, Mike disappeared, and our deep regret set in because one by one, issues began to appear. We never thought we would have to spend this much time and money on our new home, but we had to because our new home ended up being a disaster:

  • Within a week, water began dripping from the ceiling, due to a poorly installed toilet. The previous owners covered the soft-wall damage with a few coats of paint – strangely enough, this was missed by our realtor, who’s supposed to look out for our best interest, and by our home inspector.
  • The water pooled behind the toilet, seeped through the wall, and made its way down to the basement, where it settled.
  • The basement had an additional water problem – a clay pipe under the house had been broken, and every so often water would collect there.
  • We discovered holes in the foundation which needed to be repaired.
  • We ended up installing various waterproofing fixes, including a very expensive and laborious weeping tile installation.

After 10 years of living in this house, and thousands of dollars in repairs and home improvements, we decided it was time to sell and move on. We were so disappointed at the lack of accountability from Mike (our top 10 realtor) and the inspector (who didn’t catch any of these issues).

As a result of our horrible home-buying experience with Mike, we learned our lesson and avoided any realtor that was popular as a result of their clever marketing strategies. Instead, we decided to ask around our network to find an honest, genuine realtor who would put our needs before his desire to sell.

One of our friends recommended Reece. Reece is a “no name realtor” meaning you won’t find him plastered on billboards, benches, or fancy marketing gimmicks. He is a realtor who cares more about his clients than he does about making the sale. He doesn’t advertise a quick sell, and more importantly, he did more than Mike “the billboard guy” ever did for us. Reece was honest, kept us out of harm’s way from shady selling realtors, talked us out of buying homes that he didn’t think were right for us, and checked in before, during and after the entire process. He genuinely wanted us to buy the perfect home, and when we finally found that home, he attended the pre-purchase inspection alongside us and the inspector. Our new home is perfect, thanks to Reece.

The lesson we learned? Align yourself with a Real Estate Agent who cares about you, your needs, keeping you out of harm’s way and finding you the perfect home. Also, ask for references from the last 3 clients he or she serviced. If they are truly happy, they will sing his praises. For us, Reece was that agent.

Drew and Catalina * (names have been changed to protect the identity of the realtor discussed)