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How to Research a Realtor Online

How to Find a Real Estate Agent Online |

Finding a Real Estate Agent Online is Really Hard!

Yes, it’s true. Searching for a real estate agent online is more difficult than I anticipated. So, I decided to do some field testing – my own personal experiment! I wanted to see what it was like to search online for a realtor in big cities with active real estate markets.

Starting with tracking my search for an attention-grabbing real estate agent, I looked at why and what these agents are doing that stands out from the rest. In hindsight, this ‘fun and creative process’ takes more hours than you think. It was exceptionally challenging to comb through the sea of brokers out there. It made me realize how hard it must be for Toronto residents to do the same when searching online first! It’s hard to know who is really legit until you take a deeper dive. Join me on my journey as I seek out broker representation using online search tools to guide my decision, in this three-part blog series!


The Criteria for an Online Real Estate Agent Search

To start, I narrow my focus to three cities with activity relatively reflective of the Toronto real estate market. That being, New York, Chicago and San Francisco. I am also searching from a buyer’s perspective (not a seller’s) with a healthy, mid-range budget.  

It’s important to keep this criteria top of mind as I commence my search. These are things that are important to me when looking for buyer representation. And, they should be important to you as well!

  • Can I relate or connect to the broker on a professional and personal level? Do they seem down to earth and likeable?  
  • Does the broker have the experience, solid track record and a story to tell?
  • Does he or she have online reviews, testimonials or press to back up their profiles?
  • Can I spend time with this person when looking for properties? I want to know that I can trust them to take me through the process from start to finish and that we’ll have some fun along the way.
  • Do they have a reputable team or brokerage to back them up?
  • Finally, do their social profiles showcase quality content that is on-brand, current professional?  


The Search Commences 

In this first of a three-part series, I am walking you through my real estate broker search in New York City. Go big or go home I tell ya! 

This search commences by narrowing down on a neighbourhood, choosing Brooklyn, the West Village and SoHo (not that I can afford SoHo, but here’s to dreaming)! Now, where else should you start, other than Google. I typed in the following keywords “Best Brokers New York City 2019” and flipped through pages and pages of results. I finally stumbled upon this article which I believe to be both current and from a reliable source.

How to Find a Real Estate Agent Online: The Real Deal |

After reading the article and deeming it to be of quality, I continue to research the best buyer agents at the various brokers on their list. This includes Douglas Elliman, Corcoran and Compass. This second search led to various articles, pay per click ads and sponsored Yelp Reviews. All of which did not help me zero in on anyone specifically. In fact, I felt a bit overwhelmed and somewhat discouraged. I kind of regretted coming up with this article idea – this is way more work than I have time for!  

However, when I Googled “Best Buyer Agent Corcoran Group NYC” a list from Corcoran made it to the top of my search results, with the statement, “8 of our New York independent agents were recognized last year by the Wall Street Journal as among the top real estate agent professionals in the nation”.  Okay, so the Wall Street Journal is a “no-joke” publication and now I have eight specific names I can research!  

In scanning the list, I decided to research the female brokers first. I am not particularly set on working with a woman, but I was instinctively looking for someone out there that I could connect with and possibly approaches the business in a similar way I do. Reading the profiles of all five female agents that made the Wall Street Journal list from Corcoran, I felt really intimidated. I mean, these brokers have big-time connections – their ivy league educations, high-society associations and multi-million dollar real estate listings that are way out of my league. So, I am not really feeling the warm and fuzzies with any of these high rollers until I click Jessica Buchman’s profile. Voila! The first sentence of her online profile immediately tugs at my heartstrings and I’m ready to learn more:

“25 years ago Jessica left her hometown Chicago and moved to New York with a small suitcase in tow and a friend’s living room to call home!”

No one loves a solid rag to riches story more than me! This lead sentence was my hook and I instantly felt more at ease and that I truly found a potential lead. A woman with hustle is my kinda girl! 


Due Diligence

Now, by zeroing in on Jessica Buchman, it was time to dig deeper and start my due diligence.

I went straight to Jessica’s website that included a solid Profile, Press Mentions and Testimonials.  I also loved that she won “Rookie of the Year” in her first year out, which proves she has been “all-in” since day one.  And, Jessica’s bio also mentions she is an animal lover and into yoga (dogs + fitness are big in my books as you know). I also like the fact that her Featured Listings look like places I would like to purchase and were within my price range (admittedly, 9 Prospect Park West is totally up my alley)! 

How to Find a Real Estate Agent Online: Jessica Buchman |

I continue researching, worrying that Jessica might be too high profile for me. She has many awards and accolades and maybe my budget isn’t big enough?

Is she really going to want to take on a newbie Brooklyn buyer client with a moderate budget? So, I read more about her support team. These are likely the agents in the field that will be physically showing properties to guide my search efforts. I review the team profiles and like them all. They have experience, education, and appear professional and likeable. Plus, they have been hired by a top-ranking broker. This gives me confidence that the group works at the same level of integrity and sophistication. At this point in my search, I would still like to do some additional snooping. And, if you’re going to snoop…the best place to do it is on social media, right?

What am I looking for when I search social? I want to see professional, curated content that is clean, on-brand and visually on-point. Nothing turns me off more than a “broker” using this platform to showcase selfies at the club with a bottle of Veuve. I am searching for a little insight into this person’s life – do they have a family, a dog or kids – can I relate to them as human beings by the way they are messaging their audiences? Brokers’ integrity is important to me. Especially on a public platform like Instagram. 

I am happy to report that the entire team passes my social media test. They have sophisticated Instagram accounts, LinkedIn profiles and a great Facebook Page with recent updates! Winning. 

How to Find a Real Estate Agent Online: Social Media |

At this point, it’s basically a done deal. I am ready to reach out to Jessica and her team to help me find my first home. However, I decide to take one more step before I hit the contact button. I want to see if there are any videos out there to ensure my “behind-the-scenes” research is thorough.

And what did I find? I found the treasure of all treasures  – Jessica has an adorable video that showcases her warm and sunny disposition, excellent insights about Park Slope, Brooklyn (one of my key neighbourhoods of interest) and a few bloopers, which I find to be absolutely endearing.  At the end of the day? The video sealed the deal for me!  


At this point, I am convinced I have found my New York broker and a group of agents that are going to be smart, hard-working, ethical and fun! As I revisit my wishlist for buyer representation, I am confident that I have hit the nail on the head with Jessica Buchman and her team. If I were to take the next step? I would want to meet the team in person to chat about my purchasing requirements and ensure that my online research is actualized at our first meet and greet!  

(Too bad I am not actually buying a brownstone in Brooklyn because I really want to head out to Al Di La to celebrate my big purchase with the team…maybe one day)! 


My Key Learnings

  • Searching for an agent online is a lot of work and exceptionally overwhelming 
  • It’s challenging to determine if resources are reliable – especially not knowing NYC’s real estate market
  • I personally needed to see experience in cross-channel marketing to validate my selection – copy, reviews, photographs, social media and video 
  • We hear the buzz word “authentic” all the time when it comes to blogging, vlogging and Instagram. And, in this search effort, I really admired all of the real-deal content I could get my hands on! 
  • Experience, awards and testimonials do matter, but at the end of the day, I keep asking myself “can I relate to this person” and can I “trust” them to look after me and my family as much as they would their own?

Stay tuned for part two of this three-part series as I hunt for a buyer broker in Chicago. It’s one of my favourite cities with a very dynamic and neighbourhood-centric real estate scene! 


This article is written by Kori Marin, Managing Partner and Broker at Fox Marin Associates. With a passion for Scandinavian design and all-things-Toronto, Kori brings her own brand of charismatic energy, creative integrity, and expertise to her work.