By: Tom Bushey

A Few Sure Signs That It's Time to Change Realtors

Tags: Selling a Home in Calgary

Your home isn’t selling and yet the current, local real estate market is really quite active. You naturally ask yourself, “Why?”

Sadly, not all real estate agents are equal. Some agents ONLY use the classic 3 P’s of real estate marketing:

But there are also some other sure signs that it’s time for you to face the music and hire someone else:

1. The online photos leave a lot to be desired. With real estate being a cut-throat and expensive business to be in, many real estate agents are trying to cut expenses wherever they can. Too often, we see homes being photographed with cellphone or point and shoot cameras. Often, real estate agents don’t have the tools to crop, colour balance or control exposure in their photos. Worse still, they don’t know when they should hire a professional. For the minimal cost, this is one area that agents should short-change their clients. You deserve better and you should either demand they meet your expectations or it’s time to move on. As seasons change, you should also expect the photos to be updated.

2. The on-line property description is written without any salesmanship or uses industry abbreviations (s/s - stainless steel, 2 bd/2 ba = 2 bedrooms & 2 full bathrooms, etc.). Residential real estate listing are no longer read only by agents. Potential buyers are reading them — most often before their own agents. Listing descriptions are one of the first chances to get a potential buyer to create an emotional connection to your property and potential schedule an in-person viewing of it with their agent. Getting the description right, matters! If your agent won’t adjust the listing comments to meet your needs, then it’s time for a change of agent.

3. Unrealistic pricing! While the pricing decision is made by only the seller, an agent’s realistic recommendation should to be relied upon. Getting the price right is one of the most basic things an experienced agent brings to the table. All too often, agents recommend prices which are too low in order to sell homes quickly (especially in a slower market), or they allow the seller to price their home too high in order to obtain their listing. If the home hasn’t sold within the first 30 days, it is almost always a result of being priced too high for the market. A slower market requires aggressive pricing should a seller need to sell in a certain timeframe. Even in a hot market, you should expect your home to sell within 14 to 30 days. Especially slow markets, but also in brisk markets, pricing should really be reviewed with your agent every 14 to 21 days!

4. Endless open houses! The secret purpose of an open house is to attract potential clients to the agent hosting the open house — that’s why they are almost exclusively held be novice real estate agents or agents wanting more local marketing exposure. While it is true that a potential buyer may come through an open house, it would be extremely rare that they wouldn’t have booked a private viewing of your home through their own agent. In all likelihood, their own agent will be involved in the transaction in some fashion. Serious buyers will have their own representation and won’t make an offer on a home without professional counsel! Open houses with only on-street signage, is a complete waste of time for actually getting a home sold. Open houses require online marketing with thousands of views in order to generate enough traffic to bring in a potential buyer. Online virtual tours and floor plans, supported with online Facebook advertising have almost completely eliminated the need for Open Houses in today’s residential resale real estate market. [As a seller, consider an open house very carefully: They are becoming preview opportunities for potential robbers and, additionally, have become a risk to the agents' personal safety!]

5. Broken promises! While real estate agents can’t guarantee that a home will sell: home sales are dependent upon location, condition, pricing and massive online exposure. What an agent can promise is that they will give you straight answers to your questions and to provide the answers you need to hear versus providing only the answers you want to hear. Communication is key and a real estate agent should be providing a marketing update at least every two or three weeks whether or not there were any in-person viewings of your home. (No in-person viewings is feedback unto itself, but needs a framework to reference it to the neighbouring marketplace.) A regular update should be expected. If you don’t get a regular update, it should be an indication that it’s time to change real estate agents.

What is NOT an indication of time to change agents, is just the fact that your home hasn’t sold in a certain amount of time. Because of the high cost of remaining in the real estate industry, most agents provide professional services and it doesn’t really matter how much they charge or if they work their real estate business part-time. My experience is that is the real difference between agents is the professionalism in the online marketing. Do they have their own personal website or do they rely solely on the marketing platform of others? If your home receives really good market exposure, the home is readily available to be shown, and it is in great condition during the in-person viewings, then it is price that is the issue for it not being sold within the first 4-8 weeks! The problem isn’t the agent’s ability to market the home and get the home sold. Homes, generally, are commodities and price is the main deciding factor for potential purchasers.

I recently had a conversation with a potential buyer client who commented on the fact that a seller had remained with an agent for almost two years while continually relisting their home for sale. His comment was that the seller was overly generous in their loyalty to that agent considering “the agent hasn’t gotten the home sold!” What he didn’t see was that because of the quality of the marketing that was provided for that home, it was not actually a problem with the agent. The agent was actually the one that was overly generous with their loyalty to the home owner. The issue with the home not selling was not what the agent was or wasn’t providing — it was a matter of the home was priced too high for the then current market! Pricing of a home is not within the control of the agent. If a home hasn’t sold in a certain amount of time, either there is some thing wrong with the home (or it’s location or condition) or it’s priced incorrectly (although, something wrong with a home or a bad location should be addressed by pricing the home correctly).

If you wish your home to sell, price it right for the market. Without this, changing agents won’t make a difference.