How to Find a Commercial Real Estate Agent: Questions to Ask

Are you ready to move forward investing in commercial real estate property in Toronto but need guidance to find the best property that meets your criteria? 

You may have talked to experienced real estate professionals in Toronto, but with all the real estate jargon, conversations leave you with more questions than answers.

Well, this is the point where you need a good experienced real estate agent who is not only up to date with the current trends but also aware of past trends. A capable real estate agent should be able to break down the current Toronto’s real estate landscape in a way that you can actually grasp.

They should be good listeners and answer all your questions in detail and accurately. If you ask your broker about apples and he gives an answer about oranges, then it’s probably time to move on to a more competent agent.

If you are wondering how to find a commercial real estate broker that can be of assistance to your real estate needs, then there are a number of questions that you want to ask.

question to ask a real estate agent

1. Do They Offer the Service That You Are Looking for?

Since you know what your current real estate needs are, the next thing you will want to find out is if the broker offers what you need and to what extent. This could range from:

If they do offer the service you are interested in or more, then that is a good sign and a decent starting point. But if they don’t or sound unsure, then it is time to move on and find a commercial real estate agent who does.

2. Are They Customer Focused?

Don’t we all want a real estate broker who has our best interest at heart?  Most of us do. Remember, commercial brokers are mostly paid only once a deal is done. Therefore, the tendency for less established firms to rush you can be rampant.

A well-established and financially stable company or agent is less likely to rush proceedings or negotiations just for the sake of closing a deal. They will want to make sure that you are happy with a rental or property purchase and that it meets your needs.

This way, it’s a win-win, and they value this approach as it usually marks the beginning of a good relationship, and they feel confident that you are likely to refer other clients to them because of a job well done and the values the firm endears to.

3. Are They Experienced in Representing Tenants?

If you are out to buy a commercial or a residential property in Toronto, it pays to partner with a savvy commercial broker who knows the proceedings and laws involved in a real estate transaction.

That way, you can rest easy knowing that a transaction involving your purchase has all the relevant documents of property transfer and all payments have been done in accordance with the law.

Are they able to show records of the past transactions they’ve carried out successfully? Were the clients pleased? If they can give proof of that, then they are worth a try.

4. How Diverse is Their Portfolio?

If you are one of those clients with multiple real estate needs, it then follows that finding a good commercial real estate broker will hinge on whether they provide a full range of real estate services.

For instance, you may be part of an HR department with frequent groups of people, such as employees who need rentals, and you are tasked with helping them out. Among those, there may be some who own property, and they would like a reliable recommendation on property managers.

Maybe some international heavy hitters in the company have expressed interest in buying a property in Toronto and could use some investment consulting. Thus, it helps if you know a reputed firm that has all the aforementioned services and many others under one umbrella.

5. How Qualified Are They to Offer Investment Consultancy?

Watch out for a successful commercial real estate agent that has been in the same geographical area for many years because that’s a good sign that they are reliable and consistent.

Can their knowledgeable staff be able to address your questions and concerns with precision and provide clear-cut answers? Here’s a clue. They should be in a position to share with you current capitalization rates as well as factual ROIs on, say, Toronto suburbs vs downtown across various asset classes such as multi-family, hotels, and retail.

Also, reliable commercial real estate will tend to have statistical data to support trends and changes in the real estate market. In some cases, they might have you meet a recent client for a testimonial. Nothing quite beats that. All this information can prove crucial in respect to making a decision on purchasing an investment property.

6. How Extensive is Their Listing?

The extent of a commercial real estate listing is very telling as it speaks to their versatility across a category or several categories that could be properties on sale or rental properties.

If you are looking for a rental, then you are likely to have plenty of options to choose from in Toronto locales that are best suited for you. Although an extensive listing doesn’t tell much about an agent, it is a good indicator.

In fact, if they display a high level of customer service, then they are a sure winner. This could be little things such as whether they sound friendly and helpful from the first time you call and if they keep time on appointments for a visit to one of the units you might be interested to see.

7. Can They Handle Highly Demanding Clients?

Whether you are interested in buying a home, commercial property, or finding a good rental, there are situations that propel you to be demanding. Think of corporate executives and professionals. They are pressed for time and need to be handled with care but promptly and with great efficiency.

Can they do that? Find a commercial real estate agent who can give you a sufficient explanation or proof that they can handle these professional types with care and provide great customer service in order to win them over.

If you are a landlord, this can play well to your advantage because you’ll be having your properties managed by a commercial broker who can net executives and professionals able to make good tenants because of their rent-paying ability and usually for the long haul.

do i need a commercial real estate agent

8. Does the Firm Have Likable Agents?

An important aspect to remember when asking a commercial brokerage firm to negotiate a deal on your behalf with a landlord is whether it has friendly, likable agents. At the end of the day, your trust is with the agent you are working with and not so much the firm.

If you find the agent to be likable and knows when to be firm in the negotiations, more often than not, the outcome tends to be favourable

9. Is Your Commercial Broker Conflicted?

This conflict can be very real for agents who have promised several landlords high occupancy for their properties and may, unfortunately, affect you as a prospective tenant. If the units being fronted are agreeable with your needs and meet your requirement, then a conflict of interest is an afterthought.

However, if you get the sense that you are being pushed in a direction that you would not like to go, then clearly, the agent does not have your best interest at heart and is merely trying to get some apartment block filled without much regard for your needs.

In Summary

Interested in how to find a commercial real estate broker with ease? Just get one that listens in order to fully understand your needs, understand leases, and know their market landscape. This makes it very easy for them to pair or match your need against what is available in the market and present you with the most relevant choices and real estate solutions that you are likely to find satisfactory.

As you maneuver the process of how to find a good commercial real estate agent, understand that challenges are investable. Sometimes you will make the right decision; other times, you will learn from your mistakes. Nevertheless, when you ask the right questions, you can narrow down the field and arrive at a perfect choice much sooner rather than later.

Sabine Ghali
Sabine Ghali
Helping real estate investors build wealth over time

Sabine Ghali, Managing Director at Buttonwood Property Management, Award Winning Real Estate Broker and an Entrepreneur at heart. Sabine is on a mission to help investors create real estate wealth over time in the Greater Toronto Area. Sabine is published in a number of media outlets, including Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Gulf News, among many others.