If you have been an agent in Toronto for any length of time you recognize that the real estate market tends to slow down a bit in the summer months. We’ve all been working pretty hard so a quieter pace is always welcome. We cut back our weekly meetings and take a collective breath as we recharge our batteries, catch up on work, plan for the fall or simply enjoy the summer heat . Well, as they say, there’s no rest for the weary as we find ourselves as busy as ever. We are on our way to recording one of the best Julys in years.
Considering the great weather, we had a great turnout. I thought at this morning’s meeting we would take a few moments to take stock of what’s going on in the market.
The good news is that everyone is busy but the biggest complaint out there is that there is not enough product. I like conducting a quick poll to best guage what is going on. It was clear that the agents are working with way more Buyers than Sellers. At the end of the day this is not a terrible problem to have. But no product out there? This got me thinking. I’m in a room full of real estate agents who are hired by buyers to find them a home. Waiting for properties to show up on MLS is NOT finding a home! If someone has contracted me to find them a property where I could potentially make $20,000, I’m going to do everything in my power to do my job ….including spending a little money and throwing in a little elbow grease.
So where does one start? When I got my license in 1988 my manager told me to go out and door knock, cold call, drop flyers and cover other agent’s open houses. She told me that for one simple reason…..because it worked. Today, you can add contacting people by email, twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or a host of other means. There is one difference though. When you were first starting in the business you were told to bang on doors to find listings.
Knock knock, “Hi, my name is Joe Smith from ABC Realty, I am your neighbourhood realtor. Do you want to sell your home?” Repeat.
Today your job is different. You are trying to find a home for your buyer.
Knock knock, ” Hi, my name is Joe Smith from ABC Realty. I have a fully qualified buyer looking to move into this neighbourhood. They recently missed out on a home similar to yours. Since they are currently renting they a pretty flexible on when they need to move. Are you considering a move in the next few months or do you know someone in the vicinity that is thinking about selling?”
Can you spot the difference? It’s HUGE. While the first example is about introducing yourself with the hope of getting a listing, the second is clearly a call to action. You HAVE an active and ready buyer. What could be easier? There is nothing scary about knocking on someone’s door when you have a real purpose.
I am reminded by the words of an old Realtor I know. “If the business doesn’t come to you…you go and find the business”. Looking for a house for your client? Do your job and find one the old-fashioned way.
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The following post is provided by The Nature of Real Estate, and Suze Cumming, a former Bosley Real Estate Agent and now a terrific real estate coach and trainer living in British Columbia. I am grateful to have Suze as a friend of over 30 years and a close confidante to me and many of my agents.
I’ve been sending real estate flyers out to my neighbourhood for six months now and I haven’t received a single call. It’s a lot of work, time and money. I am thinking about quitting and trying something else. Is this a wise decision? Any other ideas?
If attracting clients was as simple as sending out a few real estate flyers, everyone would be in real estate and we really wouldn’t be worth the fees we charge.
The way home sellers choose their realtor is a complicated and a somewhat unpredictable process. It is unique to each individual and while some are methodical and logical, others make the choice from instinct or intuition. Regardless of their process, it is far more complicated than receiving a flyer (likely one among hundreds) and picking up the phone.
Sending flyers out to a neighbourhood on a consistent basis is a good first step in a farming strategy. It is not farming by itself. You will need to find 3 to 4 ways to touch the people in your farm on a regular basis and you will need to be consistent with this touch for a very long time before you can expect a return on your investment (ROI). To speed the process up, you will need one of those “touches” to be face-to-face or voice-to-voice.
Farming, a metaphor for a community based marketing plan, is not for the faint of heart. It takes creativity, tenacity, persistence, and belief that it will pay off in the long run. Most realtors will quit farming before they have any significant return. On the other hand, farming done well can build you a dream business. Imagine being the real estate resource of choice in your neighbourhood. People who know and like you will suddenly be calling on a regular basis to list their homes!
If you want to know more, then email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a copy of our resource paper titled Geographic Farming.
Columnist, The Nature of Real Estate
Dear Zuess is a column dedicated to offering tips for real estate agents that want to create lasting connections with their clients. Do you have any real estate binds you’ve been in lately? Drop Zuess a line at email@example.com
Whats up with Seller’s who think it is totally acceptable to switch out appliances before closing? I just don’t get it. It seems to be a serious problem these days. Case in point, a home is sold with one year old appliances but upon taking possession of the home the new owners find that the appliances have been switched out for lesser, and older, models. There have been a number of discussions on this topic in real estate chat rooms and Facebook groups but for some reason, and only in extreme cases do these situations ever end up in court. Recently I heard of a central vacuum unit being switched out for something obviously much older. Step one; The Buyer complains to their agent who in turn calls the selling agent who says they don’t know anything about it and never follows up with the Seller. Step two; The Buyer calls the lawyer to complain. He calls the Seller’s lawyer who tells the Seller to deal with it. Nothing gets resolved and in the end, the Buyer purchases a new one or the Buyer’s agent makes it a lovely house-warming gift. End result? Seller has a new central vac unit to replace the crappy one that is in his new house. How many times have you heard this story? Fridges, stoves, washers, dryers, light fixtures, drapes…pretty much anything you can think of. In researching this blog I came across this classic story about the Seller swapping out half the house, including replacing a fridge with one from china that couldn’t even be plugged into the wall. The fraud, yes, let’s call it what it is, was so extreme that the judge awarded the Purchaser nearly $15,000 to replace the things defective or missing plus $10,000 in punative damages. Rack one up for the good guys. Read the whole story here….http://aaron.ca/columns/2003-09-27.htm and pay particular attention to the last four lines about Sellers who try this stunt in the future.
So here is the problem….are you going to go through all this for a $500 or $600 item? A similar thing happened to me several years ago. I listed a beautiful condo that had been completely renovated including a stunning kitchen with stainless steel appliances. After the condo was sold the Buying agent called to tell me that the fridge door had a huge dent in it. I had never noticed it as the Seller had beautifully disguised it with fridge art (neatly taped up clever cards with witty sayings, etc). So I called the Seller and asked what’s up with that? Her response was “oh, I bought that fridge at a scratch and dent sale, the Buyers should have paid better attention”. Yeah ok. So I did the right thing. I bought a new fridge door and had it installed. Happy Buyer but I was down $600.
This is the classic bait and switch game. Wikipedia defines it thus;
Bait-and-switch is a form of fraud used in retail sales but also practiced in other contexts. First, customers are “baited” by merchants’ advertising products or services at a low price, but when customers visit the store, they discover that the advertised goods are not available, or the customers are pressured by sales people to consider similar, but higher priced items (“switching”).
It is also used in real estate to describe the replacement of appliances or the more serious practice of advertising something that is too good to be true in order to pick up potential clients. I won’t get into that one today. Let’s stick with the case of the switched appliances. Does this story make you stop and think about your obligations to your buyer or seller? How could you avoid potential litigation?
Use your phone to snap pictures of the appliances. Sure there are privacy laws that will limit what we can or cannot record so you could ask for permission with a clause in the offer that essentially says “Seller agrees to allow pictures to be taken (during the inspection) for the sole purpose of documenting and recording the list of inclusions in this real estate transaction”.
If video taping or pictures are not an option, try voice notes (available on Evernote).
Insert a clause that says that no replacements or substitutions of fixtures or chattels shall occur prior to closing.
While it is often difficult to do you could also include a clause that gives the Buyers permission to enter the premises a day before closing.
Include the feature sheet as forming a part of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale with some wording about chattels and fixtures.
At the end of the day, our job is to protect our buyers and sellers. We cannot assume that the parties to every transaction will be fair and honest. It’s a sad state of affairs when we need to document that insignificant little light fixture or basement wine fridge but at least we have the technology to record things quickly and continue to prove our worth.