What to expect when you’re expecting to sell

Expectations and the real world of selling your home

Unmatched expectations and unclear communications are the reasons why many homes do not sell.

One of the most popular posts on my real estate blog is a post titled “How do I fire my real estate agent”. Sadly if you are reading that post, your relationship with your Realtor has likely broken down and now you are looking for a way out. I actually had to put a note at the bottom of the post because I had so many people emailing and popping up on the chat widget when I have it open (usually in the mornings when I’m at my desk with paperwork) wanting to blow off steam and/or employ my opinion. 

It’s not your fault that you’ve hired an agent that you don’t like, not usually. You were working with the best information you had. Of course, maybe the agent is just fine and you’re the problem. Maybe.

Maybe it just isn’t a good fit. The agent is fine and you’re fine and it’s just that your personalities clash or that one or both of your expectations simply do not match reality. 

Of course there are lots of Realtors out there. Some are new and inexperienced. Some might not put the interests of their clients ahead of their own all the time. I don’t know. I’m not here to disparage others. We all have bad days sometimes. Few things are absolute. Most of us are smart enough to know that black and white are colours and concepts rare in their pure and true form and like true facts are subject to interpretation.

The post, “How do I fire my real estate agent?” essentially advises the home seller to speak with the broker and sort things out. Good advice, but not really all that helpful in the face of a broken down relationship. So let’s get to the heart of the matter. Why do you want to fire your real estate agent?

Since it is almost always home sellers (not home buyers) who want to fire their Realtors and assuming that their expectations are reasonable and they are not the problem, here are some signs that your feelings are justified that your agent is less than ideal.

Some signs that your agent might be less than perfect

The price is NOT right

There are many factors that go into determining the right price for a home and sometimes Realtors unintentionally get it wrong. If so, depending on the busyness of the real estate market we know within a few days to as long as a month if the price is wrong — the market will let us know fairly quickly if the price is wrong. I always keep my eye on the average days on market statistic and if my listing goes beyond that adjust the price accordingly.

If you as the home seller haven’t intentionally priced your home too high, as in, “if I get my price, only then I will sell”, or “I need to get $XXX,XXX for my house so I can move” (and that happens all the time), and if your agent hasn’t unintentionally made a mistake then you have to ask yourself if the agent told you, the home seller, what you wanted to hear to get the listing?   

Know this, all the marketing in the world won’t sell an overpriced listing. 

On the other extreme, once in a while in the local news there is a story about a Realtor who has priced and sold a home for far below market value.

The internet

Though there are some real estate luddites out there, internet marketing is the main way that most real estate agents sell homes these days. 

Do this. Google a new listing in your neighbourhood. If the agent is doing his job correctly, you will likely get more than a page of Google results. Besides getting Realtor.ca (MLS), you will get other brokerages websites framing the listing, you will get results for your agent’s website/blog, the virtual tour and a link for the photography company, social media like facebook, twitter… There will be a listing on kijiji…Although more than 70% of sales originate at Realtor.ca, the rest of the internet is going to be utilized too. 

As an aside, as a home seller you should know that buyers are going to be able to find out a lot about you. You might want to google yourself and see what comes up.

Picture this

You only have one chance, so the expression goes, to make a good impression. There is no excuse for bad photos. If your agent does not hire a professional photographer you have to ask yourself, why not?

Agent in the way

Last week I showed a home in Waterloo and I was surprised that the agent was there. I’m sure her clients think that she is a super agent, so diligent, but I and my clients felt that she was superfluous and bothersome. It was weird. She was salesey and we could not inspect the home as we normally do. 

Calm communication

Many people, (Realtors included), think that real estate is a marketing business. It’s not. It’s a communication business. A good agent not only communicates often and honestly with his clients, he communicates well with other agents too. Good communicators strive to over-communicate. In this day and age with so many communication options at hand there is no excuse not to call, write or text if even just to say, “nothing happened today”.  

Open House

The #1 reason to do an open house is to demonstrate to the home seller that you are working for them. 

Besides that, it is a great chance to:

  • Get some feedback about the listing,  
  • Get a bellwether on the listing and market 

There are other reasons to do an open house but its importance of connecting buyers to sellers has decreased rapidly over the past decade. If your agent’s marketing efforts are centred around the traditional weekend open house, ask him if he knows what year it is. 

Double double

The province of B.C. Recently outlawed the practice of multiple representation, sometimes called dual agency or within the industry as double-ending. Multiple representation means that your listing agent is also representing the buyers. Agents like this because they get double the commission, but in the eyes of a home buyer or a home seller this should be a red flag. One of the things that real estate agents are suppose to do is put the interests of his clients ahead of his own. 

Availability

Real estate agent are people too. Just like you, we need a vacation now and again. When we do, we have colleagues who can help out. 

But some agents suddenly become invisible once the listing is live. They turn everything over to their assistants and colleagues. They do not attend the open house, inspection and/or bank appraisal. They are too busy ‘building their brand’ trying to attract other clients just like you.

Commission

Again with putting their own interests ahead of that of their client’s, some agents do not split the commissions as expected — equally. In KW, our most typical commission rate is currently 4%, of which the co-operating brokerage gets 2%. If your agent isn’t doing this, I hope he has a good reason why not. I can only think of two reasons: ego and avarice. 

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