Toronto is a huge city. Most people don't realize how huge it really is until they get there and start looking for property. Even if they know they want a condo or a suburban house, there are still dozens of areas, hundreds of neighborhoods, and thousands of houses to look through. How can you be sure to find the exact one for you? How can you prevent yourself from being taken advantage of by greedy homeowners looking to rip off a new arrival? You can hire a real estate agent to be on your side. Toronto realtors take their cut from the sale price of the house, so it's like the sellers are paying for your realtor for you!
Once you've chosen a realtor you like and who has time in her schedule to take your calls and schedule your meetings, the first thing you should do is to make up a list of needs and wants when it comes to your new place. Number of bedrooms, square footage, neighborhood, home features, and local amenities are all fair game for your list. If you're not sure which neighborhoods would be best for you, simply list what you want from a neighborhood (i.e. quiet streets, good schools, near restaurants, etc.) and let your realtor make some suggestions. He or she has experience in the area and with its real estate and will know which areas are right for you.
One of the great things about having a realtor is that you don't have to interact with the seller when you're looking at the house. You may think you want the seller there so you can ask questions, but when they're hovering anxiously over your shoulder, leaping to the defense of their house if you make any criticisms, it will be extremely hard to picture anyone but them living there. Realtors can answer any questions you have about the home and act as a go-between for you and the seller to keep relations from deteriorating. Realtors can suss out when a seller is overpricing a home and offer advice on what to do when things get tricky.
For people who are buying a (Toronto condo) without help, the negotiation stage is often where they fall down. Most people are not sharks and will believe what the other party tells them, even if it's just a standard negotiating ploy. Buyers without realtors end up paying more for their home and stressing out over the negotiations a lot more than people who have realtors. Having a realtor to handle the paperwork for you also closes a lot of the loopholes that a savvy seller could use to take advantage of you or even take you to court over.