Here are some serious things to consider. This is not a cookie-cutter section like every other real estate website — this is written by me and you will probably read things you don’t typically hear from an agent.
As a start, I believe you should interview a minimum of three agents. Listen to what they have to say and see who you most connect with. How many realtors tell you that you should interview more than just themselves?
If you do not connect with me and how I approach the potential purchase of your home, I still want to ensure you are well-protected and aware of all things buying-related. If you feel one of my peers can accomplish the job better than I can, I have already given you great advice by suggesting you don’t pick the first person. You are selling your home and my commitment to you is to have the best outcome possible, whatever that looks like, period.
Who you hire should take care of the following items:
A complete tour of every single house that is for sale in the area within range of yours. You should be as knowledgeable on your competition as your agent so nothing is a surprise — when offer night arrives, you already know what to expect. This is critical in setting expectations.
We begin with a realistic (not over-inflated) valuation of your home. If one of the three agents I have suggested you interview comes back with a number that seems out of line, then he or she might be trying to persuade you on a dream. We all look at the same information when assessing your current market value. A Realtor is not an Alchemist. We sell homes for top dollar based on our mutual efforts from the time you sign the contract until the time the sold rider is hanging from the sign. Someone who tries to sell you on a higher number will typically disappoint as market value is market value.
The preparation of your home and how much work you and your agent are willing to do to make it shine is what will add thousands to your bottom line. Always operate from the perspective of “this is the minimum that we should expect based on area sales”.
Instead of focusing on an unrealistic expectation, understand what your home is really worth as your baseline and then work together to blow that number away with a team effort. I always prefer over-delivering versus underperforming.
You will know what your home is worth when you have finished the tour of your competition and the agent you have selected goes over the last 90 days of sales activity. Everything else on top of that is a bonus — I am committed to finding ways to unlock those bonuses.
I cannot suggest the importance of this enough. Your home must sparkle, period. The tiniest of details should be addressed well before picture day. Let’s be real here. Pictures online are what bring people to the door. When the presentation is not as it should be for realtor.ca or client emails from Realtors, the open house suffers and so do showings. Visuals and smells need to be perfect and inviting when someone opens the door for the first time. The first impression when the door is opened is a very serious component of how someone will connect with your home. Your Realtor should be willing to tell you everything you need to do (even the tough things) in order to create the perfect canvas for a buyer to fall in love with your home.
It seems logical that pictures should be nice for your listing but you would be shocked as to what some consider “nice”. We live in a digital world and every picture should be strong enough to get someone through the door. Let’s get serious … gone are the days when simply sending postcards out actually leads to a sale. Don’t get me wrong, I use this method when required but everything depends on how your listing looks and feels online. Modern buyers want to feel as though they cannot miss your home and this starts with your pictures being perfect.
Industry-acceptable marketing materials (although much better than “acceptable”) should be a minimum. This seems easy but the marketing package should romance anyone considering the purchase. This should include neighbourhood highlights, area influences, schools (which are typically of utmost importance to young families), accessibility and everything a potential buyer should want to know about your home. You know it better than anyone and part of the process is asking you to contribute for a writeup about your property. Talk about what you have loved. Talk about the neighbours (if they should be talked about!). Talk about the house and its quirks. Talk about memories that you are willing to share so that someone can try to envision how their life would look living in your home.
Real estate is not just about putting a sign on the lawn. It is about making your property be the only property on a potential buyer’s mind. This can be done in many ways but each transaction is different. Every home is different. Every client is different. Your Realtor should understand the importance of being creative with how a home is presented to get as many people through the door, especially in this extremely productive GTA market. It is the standout home that will fetch the standout price and you deserve that for what you are paying an agent.
Some believe in open houses and others don’t. I only ask the question, if the right buyer came through an open house and ended up being the highest bidder on your home, wasn’t it worth the time? Your agent should have the appropriate scheduling ability, especially for the first weekend that you are live, to add this important piece to the presentation of your home.
Your agent should not be afraid to tell you the negative feedback alongside the good. It does not serve your ability to understand how people perceive your home to only hear the positive. These needs should be discussed so they can either be addressed or built into expectations. Your agent should also be available anytime, period. Give him or her a break for family matters, or actual times he or she simply cannot be physically present, but your agent should become family when you are paying him or her to be there.
In a world that is now moving very quickly with technology, please select an agent that understands the importance of face time. Being in front of one another lets your agent understand more about your goals, your personality and how to best serve your needs. Technology is great, and it can certainly be useful for efficiency, but selling your largest asset should be done with someone willing to be with you along the way. Realtors earn good money for what they do and that should include building a relationship of trust and understanding, which comes with time spent with you.
If the agent you select doesn’t knock your socks off in their communication with you, how will they ever communicate well with another agent when negotiating on your behalf. Take note of pleasantries, assertiveness, manners and general conduct as this is the person you are hiring to sell your largest asset. The ability to work with another agent to achieve your goals depends on how your agent presents, and this begins with communication.
Price, although EXTREMELY important, is not the only item that should be discussed. There are many. You should understand who this buyer is and what his or her ability to close looks like. You should clearly understand terms and conditions. If an agent flat out tells you that a firm offer is the best offer, please ask the agent to explain his or her certainty that the buyer with the highest offer can afford to purchase your home.
Before all of this insanity that has become the GTA market, conditions were actually quite useful for both the seller and the buyer. When buyers had a five-day conditional period to confirm with their lender they were good, the seller would receive the final check mark in the form of a waiver.
These days, a firm offer still has to be approved with the lender and I do not like surprises. I like to know now that whomever is buying your home can afford to do so. There are times that conditions can be attractive or advantageous to you, the seller. It is your agent’s job to identify those times alongside fetching you every dollar possible.
Until the job is done, your agent is contracted to see you through any unexpected challenges. Until the money is in your bank, the job is not completed.
Commission is a touchy subject
Old-school realtors will tell you that commission can be industry standard or it is not flexible. I disagree. If I plan on being a sales representative for the next 30 years, would it not be in my best interest to have you see my commitment to putting money in your pocket?
Earning payment from one transaction makes little sense if I can earn your business for the next 30 years through dedication to you, making money from our work together.
This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy being compensated, of course I do. I don’t focus on it though. I focus on showing you what I am willing to do for your bottom line.
In turn, I would appreciate loyalty until I have shown you a reason not to be. I would appreciate you telling your friends and family about our experience together. I would appreciate you calling me the next time you have a question related to real estate. When I deliver an incredible result, please keep me front of mind in the future and let’s build on our partnership. That to me is worth much more than sticking to “industry-standard rates” or “commission packages”.
If I do a great job with your listing, I would like to help you purchase your next home. I don’t expect or feel entitled to your business, I’d like to earn it — meaning I have a serious interest in making sure your listing and sale is spectacular.