29 June, 2012
Moving to Toronto was easy enough. My husband's company transferred us, and took care of all the (boring) paperwork. AirBnB hooked us up with a fantastic temporary accommodation. The City of Toronto gave us SIN numbers without protest. Et voile, we were here!
Moving in Toronto, on the other hand, is a lot harder. Anyone who's tried to find a condo in the city in June/July can tell you that everyone in the city is looking for a condo in the city in June/July. You can count on apartments listed on Craigslist and Kijiji to be scooped up within the hour, and if they aren't... well, it's usually for a reason.
Such as that the bathroom in the apartment doesn't have a door. Or that the apartment has someone illegally camping out in it, who refuses to open the door to someone who wants to legally move in. Or because the appliances in the apartment look older than my grandfather. And he's 100 years old, no joke.
The whole process would have been infinitely annoying given we wanted to move asap. I think our real estate agent, Samantha Johnson, was the main reason it stayed fun and optimistic. She'd show up in her super-huge car, drive me around town, and ensure that we saw any house worth seeing. I can't emphasize enough how professional and helpful she was.
The pros of having an agent, when you're new to the city:
- They have access to all the listings on MLS and can find you flats per your specifications
- You usually get taken around, so you don't waste time trying to figure out where things are/walking a roundabout route because Google Maps made you
- Since you likely don't have a credit history yet, it helps to have someone rooting for you and making your case
- You get to see flats at your convenience, rather than trying to coordinate with the owner for a time when he'll be there to personally give you the key
The cons of having an agent, when you're new to the city:
- If a listing's not on MLS, they usually won't know about it. So you may be missing out on a good deal from someone who's unwilling to hire an agent.
- The agent himself/herself! I've heard horror stories about real estate agents in Toronto feeding you false information, hustling you to hurry, and even threatening you because their commission depends on your cooperation.
Not so with Sam. If you're thinking of hiring a real estate agent, I'd definitely unhesitatingly recommend her. We're moving into our new condo this weekend, and though it ended up being one that we found through friends (it wasn't listed on MLS), I know I'd definitely call Sam if we were looking for a house again.