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September 25, 2015

Truth in Advertising

by mark mclean

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.

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