Over the last couple of weeks I have ran into a two situations where people have had their property listed for sale and it has been sitting on the market for quite a while. They have been referred to me from friends, so that they can get an outside opinion on why their home is not selling. Yes, we are in one of the slowest markets Calgary has seen but it is still not always "the market's fault" a home has not sold.
I always give people the background on what is currently happening in the real estate market but that isn't always the reason a home has not sold. One of the people asking me for help had 60+ showings on his property and it still hadn't sold. Often, it is not only the market that is causing a home to not sell. Sure there are instances where it is, I recently had a ground floor unit for sale in Sunnyside that we put a lot of effort into selling but only 6% of ground floor units in the inner-city NW sold in the last 6 months. Those are numbers that are hard to over-come; not 60+ showings in a couple months!
Barring an oddity like the Sunnyside condo I had listed, it often boils down to the realtor that has the home listed. To be honest, the barrier to entry to become a realtor is low, you have to have completed high-school and then an approximate 1-2 month course at the Calgary Real Estate Board. Given that, there are a lot of incompetent realtors out there and ones that do not take the job seriously. Just like in most businesses 20% of the realtors likely do 80% of the transactions in Calgary and a lot of people think that number is closer to 10% of the realtors do 90% of the sales. The average realtor in 2015 only did 4-6 deals...how is that even possible? Good luck getting your home sold in the current Calgary market if you have someone representing you that isn't up to snuff.
What does up to snuff mean? Someone that is willing to market your home professionally and put in some extra effort to get your home sold. The two people that recently asked me for help were not working with professionals at all.
1. Lazy Agents.
Why do realtors type in ALL CAPS? This should be a clear indicator that you do not want to work with that realtor, they can't even be bothered to hit the SHFT key when they start a new sentence, do they not know that ALL CAPS is like screaming at someone? It is mega annoying to read ALL CAPS as well, plus they are clearly out of touch with the digital age.
If a realtor writes in all caps do you think they put any effort into what they are writing? Likely not...are they even trying to sell using emotion? Are they trying to entice the buyer using their words or are they using acronyms like 2bed/2bath, etc etc. Don't they know that 93% of buyers start their search online and their presentation of your home is important??
What sounds better to you to you as the opening lines to an online description?
Discover Your Own Equine Lover’s Paradise At This 11+ Acre Custom Ranch-Style Home Where Nature & Luxury Meet For the Generous Price of $649,900. Welcome to the Frederick County town where people and horses alike find their own slice of paradise.
*** FIVE *** BEDROOM UP AND DOWN DUPLEX 3 BDRMS UP LARGE 2 BDRM ILLEGAL SUITE DOWN ---- NEW ENG HARDWOOD FLOOR IN MAIN KITCHEN --- ORIGINAL HARDWOOD REST OF MAIN----NEW BATHROOM SINK--- NEW ROOF ON BOTH HOUSE AND DOUBLE HEATED GARAGE ---GARAGE HAS BEEN USED AS OFFICE---- AMAZING LANDSCAPING IN ***
Seriously, the realtor couldn't add a s to the word bedroom? The realtor that wrote this description is English speaking too. What does 'landscaping in' mean? I don't know and I am a realtor...
I just don't get why realtors in this day and age don't spend more attention to their online presentation. That's what sells a home, that's what gets buyers in the door initially, not bad pictures and ALL CAPS typing.
Why don't realtors either a) learn to take good pictures or b) pay the $150 to get someone else to take good pictures? If a realtor is making $10,000-$20,000 in commission on a home, how can they not justify paying for a professional photographer if they are not capable of taking good enough photos themselves? I love seeing iPhone shots in dim areas...how are sellers not enraged that they are getting this level of service? Again, 93% of buyers start their search online, it is important for your home to standout amongst the crowd. Especially now, when there are a surplus of listings, a minimal amount of buyers and lots of options to choose from. Often, I end up convincing a buyer to see a home because I have been in it before. "Trust me it doesn't look like the pictures." It happens a lot, I have sold several condos in Canmore recently where the buyers would not have even gone to visit the property the pictures were that bad.
Here are the photos of that condo. Would you go visit it?
or would you go see this condo which is in the same building that had pictures like this:
The first group of shots is from a listing that could have shown much better. The second group are shots that I took in the same complex, an identical unit, for clients of mine who purchased that condo and wanted to rent it on AirBnB. The photo shoot was a moving in present for them so they could list it online quickly and professionally.
Ok, here's another group of images:
I am not exaggerating, these are basically the size of the thumbnails that were online. Well they were thumbnails, they should be sized the same size as the ones above or below. You can't even see what is in the picture.
Or, would you go look at these units that we had virtually staged? In the images below the condos were actually vacant and we had them virtually staged so that potential buyers could see what the home could look like.
I know which condo you would go see and it is proven time and time again that homes with professional photography sell faster and for more money. More people are interested in them, there is a higher potential for competing offers and their days on market (DOM) are usually less. The same is also true about staged homes but staging is expensive. This is why I have recently begun using virtual staging, it is economical and still provides the buyer with the opportunity of envisioning themselves in your property.
My last point about pictures is that Calgary realtors' backend software changed last year. We used to only be able to upload 20 pictures and now we can upload close to 50, why wouldn't you take advantage of that? Routinely I see other agents only posting 6-9 images....why? Why would you not upload as many photos as possible and write captions for the photos describing what people are viewing and the features of the home? It just makes sense but rarely do you see a home marketed correctly, which homes do you think will sell first and closer to asking price in one of the worst housing markets in Calgary's history?
3. Incompetent Agents
I have seen it a couple times now, a realtor uploads a listing incorrectly and does not take the time to correct the error. Price, size, number of bedrooms, these are all important aspects of a home that need to be uploaded correctly the first time. If a realtor doesn't get it right, they should take down the listing and spend the extra hour uploading it again so that it actually gets emailed out to all of the potential buyers.
Here are two examples of what I have seen recently. In the first example, after looking at a listing for one of the people who had asked me for help, I noticed that her home had been uploaded with an asking amount of $100,000 more then the asking price for her condo. The agent must have noticed it and corrected the price but in my opinion it was too late. Maybe if you messed up by $500 or even $5,000 I can understand just doing a price change and carrying on but when you upload a home $100,000 more then the actual listing price, I have a problem with that. Here's why, it won't get emailed out to the buyers that have searches set up unless, they are setup for price corrections. Surprisingly, not everyone is setup for a search to include price corrections and once people see the image of a home and decide it is over priced, the next day when it shoes up in their email again they will likely not even look at it because their first impression was it was too pricey to being with.
Now, a large segment of the buyers in town with a search setup up similar to that condo either a) didn't receive the email about the new listing or b) received the email, thought it was over priced and already are starting out with a negative impression about the home.
If you make that big a mistake uploading a listing you should take it down, wait a couple days and re-list it. I feel in this situation that it did not happen though because it can take an extra hour - two hours of work and most people will not do extra work when they don't have to, good luck with that...
I recently saw a second example that was similar except this time a condo was listed with the incorrect number of bedrooms. I had a buyer set up on a search, a comparable listing was emailed to us and we booked a showing to go view it. At that showing we saw another place in the same building with a for sale sign on the balcony that had not come up in my search. When I got back to my computer I looked for the property online but I could not find the listing and I could not figure out why. Then, after searching a different way, using only the address, I was able to find the property. The realtor had input the number of bedrooms incorrectly and it was showing as having zero bedrooms. How is that in your client's interest? I consider myself rather skilled at being able to find homes online and I could not even find it; turns out the selling realtor listed a two bedroom condo as a zero bedroom. That means that no one was emailed about this property. I think it might explain why it was sitting on the market for ever when it should have sold quickly. If you looked for a 2 bedroom condo in Canmore on Realtor.ca it would have not shown up and it would have not shown up in a search put together by a realtor too, for the same reason.
How was this missed and why was it not corrected immediately? That's an important piece of property information, basically no one saw that property, 93% of searches start online and you can not even find the property online....that might explain why it has not sold...Attention to detail.
I always find it shocking what some realtors are willing to accept as their work. It is a reflection of then, don't they think their clients, the sellers are googling their listing and comparing it to others? The examples above do not instil trust and confidence in their work. Then, that gets extrapolated to all realtors... People who do the minimum are not looking out for their clients, there are numerous studies that show going the extra mile, especially with photography and staging will get you a higher selling price in a faster amount of time so why not do that for your sellers? Why cut corners?
Agents, thanks simply to laziness and incompetence are taking sellers to the cleaners, for possibly $10,000 to $30,000 on their sale price over things like this. Everyone knows the longer a home sits on the market the less of a chance it has of getting asking price. That's a significant investment, a sizeable contribution to your RRSPs or a car...poof gone!...simply because a realtor was not professional enough to pay for a photographer or upload a listing correctly. Sellers can lose a large sum of money over small details and what does the realtor lose?..Only a small 1.5% of that amount in commissions, $150-$400...it seems like a shame that this happens. This is why it is important to chose your realtor wisely.