What I love the most about these emails is that they all cover more than one topic.
A reader emailing about her agent is also asking about customer service, as well as bully offers.
A reader emailing about staging is also asking, indirectly, about the agent, as well as……..customer service.
And a third reader, well, you get the idea.
Let’s have a gander…
I’m working with an agent that my mother refrred me to so I’m sorry if this seems two-faced that I’m asking you a question but here goes:
My agent insisted that we check out properties at weekend open houses rather than during the week with him and as a result we’ve lost out on three houses that sold with bully offers. All three of these times he told us that these houses weren’t good for us any ways and I’m starting to feel like he’s just covering his tracks.
This is an agent with a 5-star rating on google and who has been in the business for two decades so I don’t know if I can undermine him and say that hes insincere.
He told us that properties selling from bully offers always sell for more money that their worth. My partner believes him but I don’t. I have no idea if a house is worth what it sells for or not. Do you think bully offers are always high?
Love the blog and thank you!
Don’t worry, I get a lot of emails from people who are working with agents already. I suppose I see some irony in that. I try to respond to all the emails I get, and recently it’s because I’ve started putting these in a feature I call “Reader Mailbag.” Do you mind if I put this in a future blog?
A few things jumped out at me in your email, and I have to laugh at the comment about Google Reviews! I’ve never cared about Google reviews, but that’s just me. I have like a 2.8 star rating because all my reviews are spam. Things like, “Cityplace is an awful building,” which has nothing to do with me. One person said something about the “place” being dirty, and bad management. Then there are people who just don’t like me and write, “Joke realtor, no concept of the market,” which isn’t really fair, since, to be blunt, I understand the market better than 99.999% of agents. But enough about that. What I mean is that I don’t put a lot of stake into Google reviews. If an agent has a 5-star rating, he’s just good at asking his clients, right after they transact, to write him a review. Come to think of it, my marketing manager has begged me to start doing this. I guess I should get my rating up over a 3.0? Reminds me of that episode of Black Mirror…
More importantly, the other two issues: 1) Going to open houses, 2) Bully offers
I will occasionally ask clients to view a property at an open house, but only if it’s Friday and we’re planning for Saturday, and I can’t make it, nor can a member of my team.
If I were to see a new listing on a Monday and tell the client, “Go see this at the open house on the weekend,” then I would be a lazy, miserable, awful agent. Period.
With all due respect to your agent (and I mean that as sincerely as it sounds), he’s doing a terrible job for you. Houses are selling via pre-emptive offers, and whether you are prepared to submit a pre-emptive or not, you need to see these houses. Personally, I’m of the opinion that your agent should be advising you on how the pre-emptive offer can be used as a successful tactic in this market.
If a property comes out on Monday, then your agent has five days in which he can show you the property. So say, in advance, that you should see it on the weekend tells me what I need to know about his service.
I have two agents that work with me, and both are agents I trust to take my buyers to showings. I try my best to be at every showing, but it’s impossible. If I can’t take them personally, then it’s because I’m taking offers on a listing, or I’m already out with other buyers. And I still work Saturday and Sunday too.
As for the idea that all properties selling via bully offer are selling for more than they should, this is nonsense. My entire strategy with a bully offer is usually offering less than we would on offer night, and thus if we are successful, then the property under-sold. I sold a house for $900,000 this year that would have sold for $975,000 on offer night. Your agent either doesn’t understand the market, or does, and you’re correct – he’s covering his tracks.
This is about as blunt as I’ll ever get in an email response to somebody I haven’t met, but this really struck a chord with me. The market is nuts out there, and buyers need guidance more now than ever before.
Best of luck in your search!
I’m a regular reader of your blog and there is a topic that I don’t believe you have covered before which is agents who stage themselves.
My business partner is selling his home and his agent is doing the staging “in-house” as he says. I have read many of your blog articles where you talk about your staging team and how important they are to the process. I haven’t sold real estate in a long time so I don’t have personal experience.
You don’t do your own staging. Why not? Have you ever before or would you ever?
I can see the benefit to having one person do everything. But I can also see the flip side of the coin which is that one person should NOT do everything. Like a real estate agent who is a mortgage broker and a real estate lawyer. There’s a customer for that I’m sure but not most.
My partner’s agent looks to have just rented furniture from a warehouse. Does the buyer know the difference?
Thank you for your response.
Thanks for your email, I think you’re right and perhaps this is a topic I’ve never addressed. Maybe in passing, maybe semantically, and maybe cynically, but not on its own.
Your example of an agent/lawyer/mortgage broker is spot-on.
I believe in subject matter experts, and I believe in specialization. I’ve talked about this on my blog many times, in many regards.
A real estate agent and a mortgage broker are two different jobs, and should remain as such. I’ve seen people who have a business card as an agent on one side of the card, and as a mortgage broker on the other. Aside from being a conflict of interest, it’s also impossible to be at the top of your game at both.
Yes, there’s a consumer for this, but that same consumer believes that discount brokerages are the way to sell your largest and most expensive asset in the most robust real estate market on the planet. They get what they pay for.
There are several issues with an agent staging properties him or herself.
First of all, a real stager is a designer by trade. You really can’t be a stager unless you are trained (like any other business), and I know that my preferred staging company has two principals, one who is a designer by trade, and one who does the on-site planning. They are an incredible team, and along with the rest of their squad, they have performed miracles at every property I’ve ever listed with them. I bring them in to every listing I have.
A real estate agent is not a designer. I mean, some, perhaps. A handful. But the agent renting furniture from “Rent Wow” to stage a property him or herself is not a graduate of a design school, and again, believing in subject matter experts the way I do, I refuse to believe that an A++ staging job will be done by a B- real estate agent.
When I visit a property and speak to the seller for the first time, I’ll do a walk-through and tell them what my stager might say. I’ve done a thousand walk-throughs before, so I know when my stager will want to replace the over-sized bar stools with ones that actually fit, or get rid of the black feature wall. But I that doesn’t mean I’ll try to do the job myself.
Secondly, aside from real estate agents who own staging companies (there are a few), I don’t believe agents have the necessary scale.
A colleague of mine from another brokerage bought half of a retiring agent’s inventory, and he does his own staging for the most part. He knows when he needs to call in the specialists for a luxury listing, but for a 1-bedroom condo, he’s got a plethora of furniture to choose from.
Those agents, you can probably count on two hands.
The agents that say they do their own staging are the ones hanging out in the parking lot at Rent Wow before they open in the morning; they’re the ones with cars in the parking lot with head-boards sticking out the windows.
Also consider that furniture goes out of style. Furniture gets an incredible amount of wear-and-tear when you’re using it over and over. How many agents can keep up with changing styles and constantly re-stock the cupboard?
Last, but not least, timing is everything in real estate. When my buyer-client purchases a house, and I know I have to get their condo on the market in two weeks, I’m meeting with my stager within 2-3 days of their purchase, we have a plan in place thereafter, then we’re painting, packing, moving, staging, and taking photos. This only comes from experience, and repetition. It can only be done by those who are the best at what they do.
This has become an epic response, but to be honest, I’m already thinking about incorporating this into a blog post, so just know that I’m not like a crazy ex-boyfriend who answers a two-word text message with a six-page, handwritten letter. I’ll probably post this response down the line, so I appreciate you bringing up the topic.
Thanks again for your continued readership!
Hello David, I love the Toronto Realty Blog – keep it up! Thanks.
This question may strike you as “duh” but I am struggling with it. My question is whether to use different agents for buying and selling in different neighbourhoods.
I own a house in a neighbourhood – let’s call it Eastdale. I know an agent in Eastdale who helped me buy this house several years ago and would be happy to use him again. But I plan to look for a new house to buy in a different neighbourhood, far from Eastdale – let’s call it Newton. My agent in Eastdale doesn’t know Newton well – his agency is small, very local, and for him to drive across town to look at houses in Newton would be time-consuming for him and his (small team).
Should I use a different agent for buying in Newton? if so, how will that impact the typical commission payments and pricing? And impact the relationship with the Eastdale agent?
Feel free to use this scenario on your blog if you think your readers would be interested. Your views and insights are appreciated, as always.
Andrew from Eastdale
Thanks for your email and the kind words!
Your predicament is one that many buyers and sellers go through.
I’m of the opinion that today’s modern agent needs to know every area, plain and simple. Perhaps not in the GTA, but personally, I can transact anywhere in the central core and feel like an expert. The so-called “area expert” is now a dinosaur. That made sense pre-internet, perhaps. This goes for both selling and buying. I did a listing presentation last week for a really unique home in west end and the sellers asked us about our presence in the area. I told them that we’re not “area experts,” and by that, I mean we don’t have our faces on billboards and benches, we don’t hand out pies in the park, we don’t “sponsor” school events, etc. Instead, we’re experts at marketing and selling, which is what is actually important in 2020. Showing your “involvement in the area” is a ploy to get listings, not sell houses.
The idea of “time-consuming to drive across town” is a fallacy. My team and I sell properties as far north as Newmarket, and the drive is simply part of the job. All our time is consumed by the job in one way or another.
The bottom line is: if your agent doesn’t know anything about the area in which you want to purchase, then don’t use him for the purchase. If he doesn’t understand or agree, then that’s a big enough concern to consider not using him for a potential sale as well. A good agent, and by that, I mean one that serves his clients, will not harbor resentment for your decision to use somebody else.
As for the commission, your buyer agent is compensated by the seller, so it doesn’t affect you, unless you had a deal with the listing agent that you’d get a discount if you both bought and sold with him. That, again, I believe is a mistake. I tell people all the time that they might save $10,000 in commission by hiring a different agent, but that agent might get them $75,000 less for the property than I would. Trust me, I see it all the time. Saving money but buying the wrong house is a mistake too.
Thanks to the readers for sending in their questions, which made for some great blog fodder!