A friend of mine from another brokerage told me an interesting story this week, one that is all the more insane when you consider this regular feature on TRB that we call “MLS Musings.”
About seven or eight years ago, as he tells it, he received a complaint from the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) over a marketing piece he had sent out, where he simply informed prospective home owners that they have a choice between better and worse agents.
He couldn’t remember the exact verbiage he used, but something to the effect of, “All agents are not created equal; you deserve the best agent to represent you in the sale of your home.”
Pretty mild, right?
Well, somebody complained. Four people, in fact.
So RECO had to investigate the claim, and they charged him with “unprofessional conduct.”
The complaint read that this was making the entire industry look bad, by suggesting that there are both good and bad agents out there.
Imagine both good and bad restaurants.
Imagine both good and bad auto body shops.
Imagine both good and bad massage therapists.
Imagine an MLB outfielder who hits 45 homeruns and bats .330, versus another outfielder who hits 2 homeruns all season long, and bats a meager .220 on the year.
My friend was forced to defend this complaint, so he simply went to MLS and spent a couple of hours on there, and voila!
He put together a book – an actual book with several hundred printed MLS listings, highlighting upside-down or blurry photos, spelling mistakes, instances of feet mixed up with meters so the rooms are apparently two-hundred feet wide, and on, and on, and on. He basically did what I do here on “MLS Musings,” and used this to defend his RECO complaint.
RECO ended up dropping the complaint. But it didn’t end there.
My friend traced the four barcodes on the four pieces of admail (submitted to RECO as evidence) back through Canada Post, and you’ll never believe what he found? All four envelopes, representing four different complaints, came from the same address.
And in that address lives a well-known real estate agent; a competitor, if you will.
Can you imagine if RECO, or any other organized real estate body, decided that it was “unprofessional” to point out that there are better or worse real estate agents, or that highlighting the hysterically-terrible mistakes that agents make, on a daily basis, was something worthy of a fine?
“MLS Musings” would become a thing of the past.
Actually, pretty much everything I write on Toronto Realty Blog would be “unprofessional.”
The day that an organized real estate body decides that I can’t speak the truth and provide transparency in an industry that so desperately needs it is the day I quit selling real estate and run for the president or CEO of one of these organized bodies to make things right.
In the meantime, I figured we haven’t done “MLS Musings” in quite a while, what with the pandemic and all, so perhaps we could all use a distraction and a laugh?
Let’s start with one of my favourite topics: staging.
We all know what “virtual staging” is, right?
Here’s a recent example where a listing agent thought to provide both the empty room, as well as the virtually-staged space:
Same photo, two different looks.
Kudos to the agent for adding “VIRTUALLY STAGED” in the bottom left-hand corner of the second photo.
Here’s another example:
Virtual staging has dramatically increased in the past two months due to the COVID pandemic, since many stagers, mine included, closed up shop.
Faced with selling vacant condos that are hard to photograph and market, many agents have gone virtual.
I don’t love virtual staging. I would rather spend the money on actual staging, since it looks better in photos, and doesn’t leave the buyer with immediate disappointment upon entering an empty condo.
Having said that, I have absolutely, positively, no clue what this is:
This looks like drawings of furniture. Like, actual pencil-drawings.
I’m not kidding, folks. These photos are from an active MLS listing. Somebody out there thought that this would look………….good?
I’m a big proponent of a little thing called “preparation.” It’s kind of important when you’re trusted with selling somebody’s largest asset in one of the most complicated real estate markets in the world.
But maybe, just maybe, there are times when you take a property to market without photos. I would never do this, but I applaud this listing agent for being honest:
Like I said, at least he’s honest, right?
“Professional Pictures In Process,” which I think means “progress,” but you get the idea.
He even apologized in the listing!
So how long do you think it’ll take for those photos?
Well, let’s see how long the property has been listed….
Damn, son! This photographer’s lead time is off the charts!
My photographer takes 48 hours and at times, I think that’s a lot.
But this agent has been waiting 52 days?
Maybe Annie Leibovitz took the photos, and the wait will be worth it…
This needs no explanation:
Actually, wait, it does need an explanation.
What did they mean?
Like, “This condo is amazing, no BS.”
Or something like, “We’re open to offers, but no BS.”
I really want to know.
I got 98% in Grade 12 math, then 52% in OAC Calculus.
It’s a long story, and has little to do with math.
But even I can’t make sense of the price per square foot of this condo:
I wonder how showings are going?
Do you think there’s a lot of interest? Do you think the owner is wondering why his condo isn’t getting any action?
This takes talent, seriously.
Being able to put a photo on MLS whereby you’ve not only captured your own reflection in the microwave door, but also the reflection of your client, who is trying her hardest to stand down the hall, and out of the way:
Is there any way this photo of a King West townhouse is undoctored?
When you were younger, did you ever tell your parents that when you grow up, you want to live in a rocket ship?
I also wanted to live in a tree-house, but when I actually set foot inside my friend Jeff’s tree-house for the first time, I realized the rocket ship was a better idea.
Well, if you have a little less than $8,000,000, you can live my childhood dream.
Tell me I’m wrong, but what shape do you see here?
Last, but, oh, wow, not in any way in the least…
You know how I love to show you the “photo array” for some listings, right?
There are always different reasons. A recent photo array showed the CN Tower three times, which I felt was unnecessary. Sometimes, the photo array will feature twelve photos, of which eight are upside-down.
But this most recent one, I just don’t know what to say.
Have a look, and then look again. Then a third time, and don’t be afraid to count…
Four photos of the outside of the house. Four. Not one, which is all that’s needed, or two, if you wanted to show the house from different angles, but four.
Six photos of the back of the house. WHY? One was more than enough, and two was absolute overkill. But six?
Five photos of the nearby school. I mean, including one photo of the school could, I suppose, add some value. In addition to detailing the feeder school for this house in the MLS listing (assuming it’s a good school), a single photo might make sense. You often see agents include a photo of the boardwalk for a house in The Beach, or maybe a photo of Serena Gundy Park for a house in North Leaside. But five photos of the school?
Five photos of the nearby park. And two are of the same goddam sign! Look really, really closely and you’ll see that these were taken on different days; one with a blue sky, and one with a cloudy sky. Same story for the two photos of that large tree with no leaves.
What in the world is this listing all about?
Honestly, I don’t give out awards like this lightly, but I have to think this is one of the top two or three weirdest photo arrays I have EVER seen.
Have a fantastic long weekend, everybody!
Surely this is not the May-2-4 weekend we all thought we’d have, back at the start of the year. But eight weeks into this stay-at-home order, I think the reality has sunk in for most of us. This is our new normal, and as we slowly climb out of this, we’ll all be more grateful for what we have.
So whatever you’re doing this weekend, and wherever you’re doing it, enjoy!