I recently had a visitor at one of my open houses who showed considerable interest in the state of the Milton real estate market. This isn't unusual, but his questions were a little different than those of most home buyers. After a few minutes of sharing my expert local knowledge, it came out that he had recently opened a new brokerage in Milton and was checking out the area. “That's great,” I said. “How long have you been in Milton?” You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that he lived in Brampton (with no plans to move to Milton for at least two or three years), had only done “a couple of deals” in Milton, and didn't really know the area. It seems like the prerequisites for properly servicing an area have changed.
I strongly believe that a real estate agent should actually know the area they work in. It's called “local knowledge,” and gives their clients an advantage over those working with an outsider who doesn't know the little details about an area only a resident can know. For instance, with work upcoming on the Tremaine Road/401 interchange, would an agent from outside Milton really know the facts? Or, could their client potentially be put in an uncomfortable situation because they weren't working with someone who knew the area best? Fortunately, as a local brokerage, we consult the Town on a regular basis to stay on top of new developments. I often say that one wouldn't choose a tour guide from Windsor when visiting Ottawa.
Fact: I am licensed to sell real estate in the Province of Ontario.
Fact: Just because I can, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do!
I don't know the first thing about the real estate market in Sault Ste Marie, or even Sarnia for that matter! I would be doing a disservice to myself and my client pretending to know a thing about out-of-town markets. When approached by someone looking for a home outside my area of expertise, I always direct them to someone who works and lives in that area. This reasoning obviously does not dissuade some people who decide to open up a new brokerage with minimal knowledge of the local real estate conditions. These fly-by-night operations look to take advantage of strong real estate markets, then disappear once things cool off, unless they're shut down first.
Another concerning point that was brought up during this conversation was that this gentleman believed he could glean sufficient information from MLS listing sheets to create a whole picture of Milton's local real estate market. That logic seems a little specious to me! Call me crazy, but I think the best way to know an area is to actually live there. That's why I work in real estate in Milton – because I'm a lifelong resident! When looking for the perfect neighbourhood to raise a family, would you trust someone who lives in a different city, or someone who actually went to local schools, played local sports and grew up in Milton? Apparently, some people think that they can fake the most important aspect of the real estate business: local knowledge. The fact remains that there is only one locally-owned real estate brokerage in Milton: CENTURY 21 Future.
Lastly, why would a local real estate agent want to work for this brokerage? He certainly tried to convince me that an owner with no local knowledge, limited experience in Milton, and who doesn't even live in Milton was the right way to go. Sorry, but I like making sure my clients are well taken care of. Milton's hot market will eventually die down, and I know Milton's only locally-owned brokerage will still be there, because we're a part of the community. We know the area because we live here. That's why we're Milton's Local Experts.