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Mastermind Topic de Jour. Lost the Listing To a Relative

aunts referralProbably one of the most frustrating things a Realtor has to deal with is losing a listing to a relative. The farther removed the more frustrating it gets. This week, at our Wednesday Mastermind session an agent confessed that this had just happened to her. She had spent weeks with the potential sellers, offering advice, helping them make final preparations for listing. Lots of in-depth conversations about the market and strategies. She got a sense that the sellers really loved her. She met them after selling a unit in the same building and achieved the highest price level per square foot. She had sold other units in the building too. She was not a rookie. So on the eve of preparing the listing and doing final adjustments to the CMA to fine tune the listing price, the owners took a sharp left turn. She received an email stating that their aunt, in London, was going to recommend them an agent in Toronto. (Insert swear word here). She responded with kind words and good luck wishes. That was not what she really wanted to say though. This was bad news to bring to a Mastermind meeting but it got us all thinking about strategy in the hopes that we could save the listing. Remember those times when you walked away from an argument and thought, Oh, if I could go back in time I would have said THIS? Well now was the time to come up with the perfect counter attack…and we had lots of brains working the case. This is what we came up with;

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Seller. Upon reflection I hope that, before it is too late, you discuss with your aunt the qualifications of the person she is going to recommend. I have sold X number of units in the building including the most recent one in which I negotiated the highest price per square foot for the owners. I am very familiar with the building and believe that I am in the best position to maximize your profit. Please ask your aunt how many suites her recommendation has sold as this will be critical information. I am happy to work in conjunction with your aunt and provide her with bi-weekly updates and showing feedback if that would make any difference”.

I loved the bit at the end because it hints at the fact that the aunt is only in it for the referral while our agent is making it about quality of service. In the end however, despite a noble effort, the aunt won out by claiming that her referred agent had more experience with “new families”. I’m not sure what that even means. Simply put, it’s hard to trump the family relationship. A similar thing happened to me many years ago, in a different market. After 90 days on the market the sellers eventually came back to me and my neighbourhood expertise and I got the job done. The fact remains that with as many Realtors as there are in the city, it might be worth having a discussion about family agents early on in the conversation.

mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President of the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.


Truth in Advertising

office meetingHi Everyone. I have another great meeting for you to try out. It was a lot of fun and a great learning experience and really, isn’t that the point? The idea came from my daily peek at the new listings. For a few weeks now the same property kept showing up. I found it strange that it was always appearing in my “new” feed. Upon closer look I saw that over the past 4 months it was listed in one way or another about 6 separate times. The price was up on one listing, down on another and then back up again. I started to wonder what the problem was. Could badly worded descriptions, lack of room sizes or poor quality pictures be to blame?

A thought was born. I looked through MLS and picked out the 4 listings (and pictures) with the longest days on market. Boom. At our meeting I divided everyone into four groups and gave them one listing each. The first part of the task was simple; circle every mistake or missed opportunity on the actual listing. Next they were asked to come up with 5 marketing strategies that the current listing agent didn’t appear to do. The problem with not knowing the motivation of the sellers, the condition of the property or special circumstances is that it is easy to blame the longevity of the listing simply on the property being overpriced. To make it a bit more interesting I created some made up back stories on the owners. One owner was an absentee landlord who lived in Dubai, one lived in the home but rented out rooms, one was tenanted with difficult tenants, and one home was owned by an elderly couple that didn’t speak English. I threw in a couple of zingers to…just to make it interesting. Days on market ranged from 91 to 442.

Each group had a leader who presented their findings. All MLS listings were missing information in one way or another. Of course there was enough information to write an offer but things like room sizes and descriptions were missing, two didn’t have inclusions mentioned, one had very limited showing ability, and all had terrible spelling and grammatical errors. Listings had between 8 and 12 glaring errors. As for new marketing techniques well every group came up with something unique however there were a bunch that were similar. They included professional photos, floor plans, staging, and utilizing every inch of the very limited space in the client and broker fields to mention some of the positive selling features of the home…like location, walk out basement and income potential. Surprisingly two groups thought the offering price on their homes wasn’t all that bad and were willing to market the home at the existing price for a couple of weeks if everything could be put into place.

At the end, the meeting outlined a couple of key points. The first was the value of well written remarks. Check your spelling and don’t leave any field blank if you can help it. The second point was that you can’t underestimate the power of the first impression. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. If you are going to list a home you have to come out of the gate strong. A lengthy conversation outlining your strategies for maximizing exposure to the market and ultimately receiving the most money for a home may include making some difficult decisions like evicting tenants, painting, staging or cleaning. That’s when your team comes into play. Clients have to know that you have to spend money to make money. What’s the alternative? How about honesty? Years ago I remember seeing something like this in the client remarks; This house is a dump. A little elbow grease, a broom and a coat of paint will add thousands of dollars in value. This could be the deal you have been waiting for. If I had the money I would by it myself.

mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President of the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.


Coming Soon. Really?

coming soonI would be the first to admit that the latest real estate craze, the “Coming Soon” sign, is a bad idea. Okay, I get it. It’s a marketing ploy. It tells potential buyers out there that you are going to be listing a home soon BUT if you call me directly maybe you can beat the rush. That’s called double-ending. It means the listing agent represents the seller and the buyer in the transaction. While, in theory that sounds good, and there may be some commission savings, the process is fraught with legal dangers and should be avoided unless you have some process in place to create a fair and level playing field.

Now, there are agents out there who can use the sign effectively and they will tell you that when they hang out the “coming Soon” sign they are sending a message to potential buyers that the home is under contract, commonly known as an exclusive listing, and that after getting it all painted, staged and looking it’s best, it will move to MLS. Hey, if that’s what you are doing then call it what it is…an exclusive listing. Unfortunately, the concept of “Coming Soon” sign is entering the minds of sellers out there that they think this is part of a strong marketing campaign and I have heard from agents who said they didn’t want to have a “coming Soon” sign BUT the seller insisted.

But here is why I don’t like it. It can be easily abused and be confusing to potential buyers. Last week a coming soon sign showed up at a house across the street from me. I remembered that house being on the market 6 or 8 months ago, and selling in multiple offers, and thought it was weird to see it back up for sale. The “Coming Soon” sign was up for about a week and although I have no proof on the number of sign calls the agent received, I can only imagine, given how hot my neighbourhood is and the incredible demand for detached homes on my street, that he was a busy boy. Yesterday I noticed the sign had changed, but it didn’t change to a for sale sign, it now read “For Lease”. wait a minute. They used a “Coming Soon” sign to announce a lease? I have to say that I had an unpleasant taste in my mouth which got worse when I looked it up to see that it was not even the whole house for lease but a single suite.

So imagine the call that agent would receive…”Hi, I’m calling about 123 Main St. I saw your sign. I’ve been looking for a detached home in the neighbourhood. How much are the sellers asking?”. “Oh that home ISN’T for sale. It will be available for lease next week but perhaps I can show you some other homes in the area”. Honestly, I feel like I need a shower after that exchange.

The fact is that there is no law that says you can’t use a “Coming Soon” sign to advertise a lease. And while I find this tactic unsettling it is probably not technically misleading. Is it unethical? Again, probably not. So why does it rub me the wrong way? I think it is because the intent of a coming soon sign is to announce that the property will be coming up for sale. Was the agent just using the “Coming Soon” sign to capture more leads? And if he was, do you find anything wrong with that? The reality is that agents are all looking for an advantage. Competition for buyers and sellers is fierce. If the tried and true techniques aren’t getting you business then agents are pushing the envelope to the detriment of an unsuspecting public.

mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President of the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.


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