Jamie Erlick is in the top one per cent of realtors, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board, and among the top five agents representing Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd.

The Jamie Erlick Real Estate Group of Simcoe and Innisfil is the number one real estate group of Belle Aire Shores, according to MLS. All of this is to say that Erlick is very good at his job.

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One of the things that distinguishes him from other agents is his ability to give his clients access to not only properties listed on MLS, but off-market properties as well. These are properties that aren't listed, but are open to private sale.

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With his clients having access to even more properties than are currently on the market, they have many more options to see than the typical agent can show. This is why we went to Erlick with this week's question, as it's probably one he gets a lot from clients.

How many properties should you see before making an offer?

I always suggest before you go out and start physically looking at properties that you scope them out online. What I mean is, you've got to do the research. If you're looking for a three bedroom, three bathroom house in a certain area at a certain price range, it's important to look at what those houses have sold for. So when you walk into a place, you're prepared to think, "This works for me. This is in the right price point."

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When you do your research, these are the types of answers you can have right away because sometimes that first property you see could be the right property and you don't want to let it go. You want to make sure you have no regrets, and the only way to have no regrets is to be fully informed. As an informed buyer, you'll also know if you skip over the first property, whether or not you'll be able to pay the same price for something else. For example, did the last property that sold have a finished basement for the same price? Maybe, in that case, you can hold off and expect to get a home with a finished basement.

As long as you have all the details, that first property could be the right one. If you're working with an agent who has experience in the area you're looking in, you're going to rely on them to really tell you, “Take this one because this is a good deal.”

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The other properties that are offered might have rats, don't have new windows, don't have an addition or don't have a main floor bathroom. If you're working with someone who can actually give you this information, in my opinion, it doesn't matter whether you make an offer on the first house, the fifth house, or the tenth house.

It also depends on how experienced a buyer you are. If you're a first-time buyer, you'll probably need to see more properties just so you can learn the difference between a townhouse, a semi-detached or a fully-detached. But if you're somebody who has bought previously, you may have a better understanding of what you need, so you're able to make a quick decision.

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A really good approach is to pre-look before you start looking in person. When I'm working with people and they tell me, “I'm looking to spend $1.5 million, I want to be north of Bloor and I want to be east of Bathurst,” I will send them the last six months of sales and tell them to pick out five or six of those properties that they would've liked. Then, at least I know we're on the right track and not looking for something that doesn't exist. That can get really frustrating too, and mean you could be looking forever. I think it's also important that people's expectations are realistic.

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