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Posts from the ‘Mastermind’ Category

27
Nov

Mastermind for November 26th. Do Incentives Really Work?

incentives We had a rather interesting debate during our Mastermind yesterday about offering a buyer agent incentive as a way of generating more activity to a listing. We had a pretty big crowd and I was surprised to see that there was no general consensus on the matter. In fact opinion was split right down the middle, 50-50. So, looking for some more input on the matter (read tie-breaker) I did what any manager would do, I consulted the great oracle itself…Facebook. More specifically one of the several groups I belong to. While I got some great stories there, I didn’t find the tie-breaker either.

One side of the argument seems pretty clear. Price the property well, work hard, don’t leave any marketing stone unturned and generate exposure. It’s a simple theory…as long as the property is “saleable” you don’t need to offer any incentives to the buyer agent. This side of the discussion felt that incentives might add fuel to the consumer’s potential belief that agents are greedy or that offering more commission only generated interest from the buyer agent and not the buyer.

The other side argued that offering a higher commission got their properties more showings. More showings meant more competition which lead to a better price to the seller and a faster sale. One agent said that it worked particularly well when there were a number of comparable properties in the area or in situations where the property had some serious disadvantages, like deficiencies in the reserve fund. I can remember a condo building downtown that had an unusually high special assessment on all the suites. Sellers would agree to pre-pay the fee down in order to make their properties more attractive. Much like buyer incentives for a new condominium project, this is somewhat different as it is not an advantage geared toward the buyer agent, more just a marketing tool.

I especially loved some of the stories from the naysayers who told of sellers throwing in fast cars, cash bonuses, and even a free massage (but I think they might have been kidding about that one). Now, when we sign a Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) we specify the commission that we would like to receive so if the offering is more than that amount, are we duty bound to return the difference to the buyer? The short answer is that it depends. One agent fills out the commission portion like this…”X% or as offered by the MLS Agreement, whichever is greater” while another credited the extra commission back to the Buyer.

Finally, I would caution everyone to remember their fiduciary duties to their Buyer clients. When in doubt….disclose!

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

4
Nov

Transparency at the Offer Table. Not Just a Pipe Dream

transparency blogAt a recent mastermind session our group talked about the frustrations we often feel when we are at the offer table. There are many opportunities for the evening to go wrong because the process is secretive and often skewed to favour the listing agent and there is always a chance that we, acting as a buying agent, will have to go back to the buyer and let them know that they didn’t get the house. Sure, it could be as simple as price, but as you know, there are many chances for error, incompetence or fraud.
So in our meeting, we wondered if there were a way to sell a home with complete transparency. Could we make the process so fair that everyone who offered and lost could walk away knowing they were given every opportunity to buy the house? We worked through several possibilities, talked through potential land mines, and played devil’s advocate on a number of different scenarios.
One of our solutions could be best demonstrated by this example. You’ve listed a property for $699k and have received 5 offers. You’ve told all the participating agents that you will be running the process as follows…after everyone presents you are going to meet with the agents collectively and disclose only the price of the highest bid. At that point you will give the agents 1/2 hour to speak to their clients and return, if they so wish, to participate in the second round. Four agents return for the second round and present their offers again and once more you meet with them and announce the winning bid. This process continues until there is only one agent standing. In many ways it mirrors an auction process but requires the skill of a buyer agent in negotiating fairly with the seller and the seller agent. All agents are present and counted for so there is no chance that there are phantom offers. At no time is it made clear which agent has the leading bid, nor does that agent know how close the other offers are. The winning offer is successful based on its merit (and or price) and there is no opportunity for shenanigans. In the event of an offer from the listing agent, the manager or someone else from the office manages the process and the listing agent is unaware of the other offers.
From the surface the idea seems to have merit until you dive into REBBA 2002, which is the Act that we must follow (in essence, our play book). In it, there is expressed direction that an agent does not have the right to disclose any terms of an offer even if directed to by the client seller. So if you liked the idea of a completely transparent offer night, don’t hold your breath.
It occurred to me that rules and regulations are brought about to govern the way business is conducted TODAY. When the way business is conducted changes, the rules (or laws) get updated. We see that happening today with the Condominium Act which was first enacted in 1998. Certainly a lot has happened in that world over the past 16 years and even with tweets and updates, one wonders if an act that old holds the answers to an ever-growing segment of the real estate market. Like the Condominium Act, I wonder if, when first established, REBBA 2002 could have ever imagined a market as strong and unrelenting, or something as strange (back then) as bully offers.
At the end of the day, the only answer is hard work. As the listing agent, our job is to run offer night in the most professional way which, among other things, means refusing to represent your own buyer. We need to keep the lines of communication open with every agent bringing an offer, explain the process that will steer the presentations and stick to them religiously, and above all be fair and honest to everyone involved in the transaction. For buyer agents, come prepared with your best offer, have a good deposit, and make sure your buyers are nearby. Keeping simple rules will make the transaction go smoothly, eliminate confusion, and keep everyone out of court.

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

3
Nov

What’s An Optimum Number of Offers?

multiple offersGiven the scarcity of listings in the Toronto market these days its understandable that we touch on the topic of multiple offers from time to time. It’s probably because no two scenarios are ever the same but last week, at our weekly Mastermind session, the question turned the multiple offer topic around. When listing a property is there an optimum number of offers that our pricing should attract? We went around the room to get everyone’s opinion on the matter.
History dictates that we only need one good offer to sell a home so theoretically we should price the home to attract that one buyer. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the cards are stacked in favour of the Seller so even pricing fairly can lead to two or three or even four offers because there is just no sure way to predict how desperate a buyer might be but the question remains, do we try to price to get one offer or do we under price to attract multiple offers and hopefully push up the price for the buyer? (and if so, by how much?). If the choice is to under price to create excitement then how low do you go and how many offers are you hoping to attract? We had several opinions on the topic because pricing really is a moving target. The answers ranged from 2 to 10 offers.
There is a slippery slope to all this if you are a Seller, and I have written in the past about a seller who only got one offer on her property on offer night and was totally annoyed with the agent despite getting full price. The fact remains that underpricing can be dangerous. Sometimes we price a home thinking we have determined perfect market value and then we are hit with multiple offers. Sometimes we list under market value and get only one offer if at all, and then there are those cowboys who list hundreds of thousands under value and hope to generate 50 or 60 offers. But not getting an offer on offer night puts an agent on the defensive right away. The client is looking to you for answers. Where are all the offers? What’s wrong with my house? In this hot market why isn’t my house selling for over list price? Simply put, there are just too many variables to know for sure and it could be as simple as it’s raining or the buyers couldn’t get baby sitters.
So when it comes to the list price, know your competition and nail the market value. Under price just a little to create some interest but not a flood of buyers. Take the guesswork out of the listing and have the home inspection done well in advance.
In the end, everyone should know that it’s the Seller who determines the final list price but it is up to the agent to conduct an in-depth market evaluation and then determine the right strategy to get the Seller the most money.

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

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