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Real Estate Agents

Real-estate agents can be valuable resources when looking for a home. Most homes sold in Canada are listed with a real-estate agent. But it's important to know whose side they're on.

A Seller's Agent

Someone selling a home usually does so through a real-estate agent. When the seller contacts an agent, that agent, from that point on, works for them. Real-estate agents are obligated to do whatever they can to get the best deal for their clients. You are not their client. When they show you a home, they are obligated to tell the seller anything you say. So if you tell the agent, "I'm going to offer $290,000 for this home but I'm willing to pay $320,000," the seller will soon know that you're willing to pay $320,000.

A Buyer's Agent

You can hire your own real-estate agent to help you through the home-buying process. Since you engaged them, they are obligated to work for you, to get the best deal on a home for you. And even though you won't have to pay your real-estate agent anything, they still work for you, not the seller.

How Agents Make Money

Real-estate agents make a commission on the homes they sell, usually around 5%. Generally, this commission is split between the seller's agent and the buyer's agent (in some cases, that person can be one and the same). So if a house sells for $300,000, the real-estate agents' commission would be $15,000. That commission is paid out of the money the seller gets from the sale. Even though the buyer's agent works exclusively for the buyer, the buyer doesn't have to pay them a cent.

Closing Time

It's time for the final stages. All the financing, house-hunting and negotiating come together into one final step: the closing.

This can be a confusing and anxious time, especially if you're not familiar with the process. If you've prequalified for a mortgage and you've put aside enough money to handle the extra costs, you've done everything you can do. So try to relax as you go through the closing process.