How do you find an agent when you inherit your parent’s house?

Real estate questions

Q&AWhat do you do when you inherit your parent’s house? How do you find an agent?


I received lots of letters over the summer. I answer them all.

Just like in school when the teacher said, “If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask then, others probably have the same questions too”, I am posting recent Q&As.

Q: My mom died about a year ago, leaving a pretty nice bungalow in a working-class neighborhood of Kitchener. It’s in a good school zone, on a quiet street and has lots of great selling points.

The problem is is that the house was in bad repair and really outdated. Mom didn’t do anything to the house in the past 25 years except replace the roof about ten years ago. The house needed new paint, rain gutters, screens, carpet, kitchen flooring, appliances… everything. Doing all this stuff will cost every cent I have.

I had a really, really bad experience with a real estate agent that my lawyer recommended. I wasn’t ready to put the house on the market, but I wanted a professional opinion about value and what I should do to get it ready for sale. I thought I’d probably list with him when the house was ready.

I asked him to get in touch with me in a month’s time and then the very next day, first thing in the morning he’s calling me. He called me late in the evening, it was an absolute nightmare. It was extraordinarily hard on me after experiencing a devastating loss and then being saddled with the whole mess. He never left me alone. He called and called and was very pushy about getting my mother’s home on the market “when the market is hot”, “before the summer slow down” and before I even had time to go through my mother’s things.

I eventually stopped answering his calls. Now it’s many months later and I’m running out of money to finish all the work. I also have to pay the mortgage and find a new agent.

Do you have any advice to finding an agent who is sensitive to situational and emotional needs, and who can be respectful of personal space and understanding of the fact that every cent expended is what amounts to my inheritance? Are there agents that specialize in sales on behalf of an estate?

Sorry if the question is a bit vague, I guess it boils down to “how do I find the right agent for ME?”


A: In Kitchener Waterloo and Cambridge there are probably about 1,500 real estate agents. There is, without a doubt an agent to suit every type of home buyer and seller. You need an agent who will suit your needs. This agent, was obviously not for you.

You have to shop around for an agent.

But how?

Often referrals from friends or acquaintances are a good way to start. Obviously this did not work out so well in your case. You, like most people went with the first agent you spoke with. This surprises me. It’s such a big decision. You should really interview three agents and let them all know that you are doing this.

Some agents are very aggressive about listings. There’s a saying in real estate, you have to “list to last” in the business. The more listings you have, the more successful you will be. There are agents who spend lots of time and money attracting new listings but only sell (maybe) 70% percent of them. They know that every listing is really worth a listing and a half. Listing lead to buyers and buyers are sometimes sellers as well. You get the idea. Realtors don’t really have a product to sell (except themselves). They need homes. Homes are the storefront to this kind of realtors’ businesses

Find an real estate agent that you trust and like. Your lawyer may have had a wonderful working relationship with the realtor he recommended. They likely share “business leads” all the time. It’s better to ask your friends, neighbours and your family if they can recommend a great realtor. There must be somebody around you that has had a good experience in real estate recently.

My advice is to ignore the advertisers.

Do not just go with claims of “proven track record”, “#1 agent”, “we sell a house everyday”, or “If we can’t sell it, we’ll buy it ourselves” type of advertisers, as these people might just be number based, and volume based. Go for agents that feel like people, that have the tools needed to sell your house. Make sure they know the business though.


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