How much effort is your agent really putting into your listing?
Well, we're in the thick of the Fall market and agents, buyers, and sellers are out there in full force, getting in that last push before 2018 comes to an end. It's also right about now when agents start getting frustrated with each other. Maybe because it's been a long year, maybe it's because you would think that after all this time, common sense would prevail and we wouldn't have to deal with the same ridiculousness we've been dealing with for years. What am I talking about? Well, if you're wondering why your property hasn't sold or been leased yet, when all you hear about is bidding wars and the crazy demand for rentals, maybe your agent is doing some of these things below that is actually hurting your listing.
1 - The keys are where??
Every time I take a client for a showing, I cross my fingers that the keys are actually available, where the listing office says they are, and that the code to the lockbox is actually correct. I'd say that probably one out of ten showings I do, I'm given the wrong code. Or I'm told the lockbox is "in the stairwell" when it's not. I mean, if I can't get access to the keys, I can't show the place, right?
One of my least favourite places to show is the Pinnacle Center (33 Bay St and 16/18 Harbour St). The lockboxes are literally jammed behind the concierge desk and I purposely show up 15 mins early to any appointment here just so I can find the right lockbox. If you're an agent with a listing here, please, please, please don't just let your office know that the "lockbox is behind the concierge". Because this is what we see:
Oh, and this one really made me laugh. Below is a snippet from a listing for a brand new downtown condo for rent. Downtown. That's the operative word. And the keys are where?? Richmond Hill? Needless to say I didn't bother to show this unit on the weekend:
2 - You won't review offers on the weekend??
Being an agent is 24/7. That's the game and if you want weekends and evenings free, maybe being an agent (or at least a successful agent) isn't for you. I do showings in the evening, on the weekend, on holidays...whenever clients are available. And in the craziness that is the TO rental market, sometimes you don't have the luxury of waiting to see a unit for lease. So when I see this on listings, it drives me nuts:
So you're telling me that if I show a unit on Friday afternoon, my client can't make an offer until Monday?? In a market like TO, this is crazy. I typically advise my clients not to keep offers valid for more than 24-hours because a) there's probably someone just like you who will also make an offer if we don't hurry, and b) we want to know asap if the landlord will accept you so we can move on to the next place and not lose that one too.
Owners, if you hire an agent to list your property for lease it's probably worth asking if they work on the weekends. Because if they don't, I guarantee you are going to miss out on a whole pool of potentially great tenants who either won't bother to see your property, or won't bother to offer on it because not everyone thinks the weekends are "days off".
3 - What unit number is this??
I see this so many times it boggles my mind. Do you see anything missing from this listing?:
Sooooo.... what unit is this? How can I show it if I don't know what unit it is?? Enough said.
4 - Wait, it faces which direction?
Getting the details correct on your listing is crucial. I can't tell you how many clients have said "thanks but we'll pass" on listings I've sent them because there was some piece of info that turned them off. Maybe it's that there's no parking. Or that the room sizes are too small. Or that it faces East and not West. Clients spend so much time online that if the listing itself doesn't draw them in, they won't visit. And that's potentially a lost buyer. Here's a listing from my building that is a perfect example:
I know this unit. I've been in this unit. It faces East. I have clients who are looking for an East-facing unit here. So you can imagine my confusion when these same clients initially passed on this unit. Luckily I know the building better than anyone and explained that this was an error on the listing. But this is a perfect example of a potential buyer who almost ignored a listing because of one incorrect letter on the listing. Details matter.
5 - Offers are when??
Offer dates are the norm in Toronto. Buyers hate them but that's just the market we live in and have lived in for years. As an agent, the only thing we want to know is a) Is there an offer date? And b) What time?
This is what I hate seeing:
Seems ok, right? But what time are offers being reviewed?? It may not sound like a big deal but there's a huge difference between offers being reviewed at 7pm and offers being reviewed at noon. Most people work normal jobs and there's a lot of scrambling that goes on on offer day. Buyers have to run to the bank between meetings to get their deposit, they have to coordinate with their significant other or family on their planned offer price, and they usually need to sneak away from their desk to sign paperwork, etc. Wouldn't it be nice to take some of that stress off the buyer (and their agent) and actually let everyone know what time everything is going down?
I remember a listing not long ago where the offer time wasn't specified and the agent's response to my question asking was "I'm not sure. How's 7pm?". Are you really asking me when a good time for offers on your listing would be? This is the type of confusion that just makes things more stressful for everyone.
6 - You want my client to agree to what?
The most annoying thing about rentals in TO (and I do a ton of rentals) is some of the ridiculous schedules and clauses tenants are expected to agree to. For those renters who thought that Kathleen Wynne's Standard Lease Agreement was going to magically make renting in the city more transparent and fair, this is a wake-up call. It changed nothing and just made things more confusing by adding more paperwork to an already lengthy process. Landlords (and more specifically listing agents) are still asking tenants to include lengthy, often illegal and unenforceable clauses into their lease agreements.
Before I send a lease listing to a client, I check the schedules that the agent is asking for. If the schedule or clauses are just absurd (which they often are), I know it will be an uphill battle trying to change, edit, or remove clauses that are not permissible, causing confusion and animosity between the landlord and tenant before a lease is even agreed to.
So I'll probably just recommend we skip that listing. It's that simple. Tenants (and agents) don't want the headache and your listing will be skipped.
As a landlord, ask your agent what schedules and clauses they are asking tenants to agree to in their offers. Then ask them if those clauses are actually legal. These clauses will reflect on you as a landlord so shouldn't you have a say in what you are asking tenants to sign?
7 - How can I reach you??
I'll keep this one short but how can your agent represent you effectively if there's no way for other agents to easily reach them? There are still agents today who refuse to put their cell phone number on their listings. So if I want to reach them, I have to call their office (which may or may not be open) and have the agent "paged". Then I have to wait for the agent to call me back. What could be a quick 30 second phone call or a two second text now turns into a game of phone tag. Agent cell numbers should be mandatory on MLS listings, but that's just me. Make your agent put their cell number on their listings and save everyone a ton of time.
8 - No pictures. Really?
The last, and probably most obvious thing an agent can do to mess up a listing is not posting pictures. Seems like a no-brainer to have pictures on a listing, right? But you'd be surprised how many listings I've seen in the past month where the only picture is the outside of the building, or the party room, or the gym. But nothing of the unit itself. Look, I understand for rental properties sometimes tenants won't allow you to take pictures. But when I see big "name" agents listing vacant properties for lease or sale without pictures, it just screams "I don't care about this deal". Is that who you really want representing you? Check out this and tell me if you really feel compelled to visit in person:
I usually like to give people the benefit of the doubt and in the end, I'm not saying people don't make mistakes. Things happen. But as a seller, your listing (and your agent) is a reflection on you. Ask your agent to see the MLS listing once it goes live and see what is actually being presented to everyone. And ask how the process will go with offers, keys, showings, etc. Trust me, most buyer agents won't bother to clarify information on a listing if it's confusing or missing and they'll probably steer their clients to other, more complete listings where there is no confusion. Which listing do you want your property to be?
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Your Toronto condo lover,
iPro Realty Ltd, Brokerage
Direct: 647-223-1679 (call/text)