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1. It doesn’t matter what price you list your house at, the market will dictate what it’s worth. Setting your asking price is akin to naming the first number in a negotiation – it sets the bar for the negotiation process. While it’s true that the market dictates price (in other words, Sellers will bid prices up when housing inventory is low and negotiate prices down when inventory is high), setting the initial asking price is an important strategic decision.
2. My brokerage is one of the biggest in Toronto, so your house will get more exposure on our website. This is a favourite sales pitch by some of the big brokerages out there, but the truth is: every agent in Toronto can display every listing (provided that the listing brokerage allows it to be advertised online). In real estate lingo, it’s called IDX and all the good real estate websites have it. So no matter who you list with, your house will appear on all the big brokerage websites. Bonus: find an agent whose personal website generates lots of visitors for their own listings outside of the IDX.
3. Your house is worth $XXX,XXX. Many Sellers interview multiple agents before selecting one. A common tactic for agents to ‘win’ a listing is to give a really high estimate of price that isn’t based on comparable sales or reality. The hope is that a flattered Seller will select the agent who gives them the highest price – and sadly, this strategy often works. Nearly every Seller thinks they live in the best house on the street and telling them that is an easy way to disarm them. When the agent gets the listing, the secret plan is usually to do a series of price decreases to eventually end up at market value (which is often the same number the other agents gave). It’s been proven time and again: the longer your home is on the market, the lower the price will be. Truth: Agents don’t actually decide what your house is worth – the market does. Be suspicious of agents who are more concerned with getting a listing than getting you the highest price.
4. It doesn’t matter that my website hasn’t been updated since 2009 – Buyers don’t go to agent websites, they just go to www.realtor.ca. This is a common refrain from agents who have crappy websites and want to convince you that it doesn’t matter. Truth: By the latest count, 92% of home buyers searched for their home online. Buyers don’t just visit realtor.ca – they visit agent websites, brokerage websites, Craigslist and Kijiji. Over 2,500 people visit our website every single day. In fact, our Sellers’ listings get more views on our website than they do on realtor.ca. So yea, it matters.
5. I have a Buyer for your house, would you consider selling it? For years, real estate conferences have been telling agents that the best way to find clients is to knock on doors and cold call people. Telling you they have a Buyer for your home is the easiest and best way to get you talking. It plays on the basic fear that we all have: no one will want my house. They’ll probably talk about a recent sale up the street, get your hopes up and boom!, you’re suddenly thinking of selling your house. While it’s always nice to know that someone wants your home, this strategy is usually deceptive and there isn’t a REAL Buyer out there – they’re just hoping to list your home and then will go out looking for a Buyer. In all fairness, a tiny percentage of agents who show up at your door do actually have a specific Buyer looking for a home like yours in your neighbourhood. To find out if it’s true: ask as many questions as you can about “their Buyer” and trust your gut as to whether or not this person actually exists.
6. I think you should list your home exclusively with me – you’ll save on commission! Most homes in Toronto are sold by 2 agents: one who represents the Seller (the listing agent) and one who represents the Buyer (the co-operating agent). An exclusive listing is when a home is listed just with one brokerage and isn’t advertised on the MLS – the listing agent is often hoping to represent both the Buyer and the Seller at the same time. While there may be some good reasons a Seller would want to list exclusively (e.g. privacy, desire for a quick sale with minimal showings), the only true way to know how much the market is prepared to pay for your home is to expose it to the open market. Usually, the big winner in exclusive sales in the agent who collects a high commission.
7. My brokerage has 5,000 agents so it’s like 5,000 agents are trying to sell your house. This is BS. While agents work for a particular brokerage, they are mostly concerned with selling their own listings and finding the right house for their Buyers. The vast majority of Toronto properties are listed on the MLS (the Multiple Listing Service) and the MLS allows Toronto’s 50,000+ REALTORS to see, show and sell each other’s listings. It doesn’t matter which brokerage they are listed by. Agents don’t make more money if they sell a property listed by their own brokerage.
8. I’m a discount REALTOR but I offer Full Service. I see this all the time and the truth is, it’s usually not possible to do both. Offering full service usually means the agent is investing cold hard cash in home preparation, staging, marketing, photography, video, floor plans, concierge services, pre-listing home inspections, staff and a whole bunch of other stuff – and those things cost money. And time. I saw an ad a few weeks ago by an agent who was offering “Full Service for 0.5% with $5,000 Cashback”. The math just doesn’t work out.
9. It doesn’t matter what commission you offer the Buyer’s agent, the results will be the same. True, agents are ethically bound to show every home for sale irrespective of the commission offered, but offering the agent who represents the Buyer less commission than they’d get to sell comparable homes in your area isn’t likely going to work in your favour. A few years ago, we helped a Buyer buy a property that was offering $5,000 commission – about half of what the other houses for sale in the area were offering. While the Sellers had been hoping for a bidding war, our Buyers were the only ones who made an offer – and we got the house. Two days later, a nearly identical house on the street sold for $40,000 more with 6 bids. We were happy. But I’m guessing the Seller we bought from was not. I think it’s great that multiple commission models exist and that consumers have choice – but if you’re going to dangle a carrot, I just don’t see why you’d want to dangle the smallest one.