Dear Urban Diplomat: Is my neighbour actually the best broker in town?

Dear Urban Diplomat: Is my neighbour actually the best broker in town?

I’m about to sell my house, and I’m considering hiring my neighbour, who calls himself “the number one real estate agent in Toronto” on his advertising materials. Is there any way he could possibly back that up?

Doubting Thomas, Upper Beaches

Let’s assume, like most people would, that his claim refers to volume of individual agents’ sales. The Toronto Real Estate Board doesn’t track sales or business volume (and, even if it did, it probably wouldn’t report the data publicly), but it’s technically possible to rank brokers if you hire a third-party researcher to dig up those stats. The top dogs, however, don’t necessarily make sales themselves; more often, they head teams that do tons of transactions. In other words, if your neighbour’s name isn’t on massive billboards or the sides of buses, his “number one” status is probably bogus—perhaps punishably so. The Real Estate Council of Ontario requires that advertisements disclose how a claim was determined—for example, sales in a particular neighbourhood, or in number of sales that fetched above-asking prices. Unless your neighbour has some fine print to that effect, the council could discipline him, either with a fine or by requiring him to take a course. Before you decide to hire him, let him know, not in a “gotcha” way, but as a friendly heads-up. Chances are he’ll brush it off, but he may actually end up thanking you.

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