Stupid, lazy, or just a butt ugly listing?

They say, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” and most of us accept this as true. It’s certainly the case in marketing homes. Your listing is really only “new” once for a very brief time. It is the time during which you have the greatest opportunity to attract the largest amount of attention from Realtors® and prospective buyers. It’s also the time during which you have the best chance of getting the highest offers on your home. When that new listing period passes your home becomes part of the listing stock, one of many active listings waiting to be bought.

When an agent submits a new listing to the Saskatoon multiple listing service® (MLS®) there are a few wonderful opportunities that can be effortlessly captured or just as easily squandered. The MLS® data server is a busy little computer that spends its day accepting data on Saskatoon homes for sale. There’s a special place in its digital heart for brand new listings.  It believes that one of its most important jobs is to notify people about great new listings that may be of interest to them. Several times each day, it packages the new data and sends it places. The first day your home is added to the MLS® database it could be seen by hundreds of potential buyers either in the form of an email update (“there’s a new listing that matches your requirements”) or displayed on one of many websites that accepts this data including

As a home owner, if you can have any say in the matter whatsoever you’ll want to ensure that your home’s listing isn’t sent out looking like the one pictured on the left. I won’t bother explaining why, because that would be condescending to people like you who have common sense. You already know why this listing is a perfect example of a massive fail. So, why does it happen nearly every single day? Why do we so commonly see brand new listings being marketed with no photos and with very limited listing detail?

As a prospective home buyer or a home seller under contract you might come to one of a few conclusions.

  • The listing agent doesn’t care about the quality of his or her work or how it impacts on you.
  • The listing agent is too lazy to gather three megabytes of data in one place and complete a twenty-minute task in a single session.
  • The listing agent lacks the common sense to understand why images and information are important.
  • The house being marketed is so butt ugly that it’s best that people don’t actually see it.

In most cases, none of these things are actually true. It’s far more likely that the agent is simply busy with a million and one other things competing for his or her attention. This important marketing task isn’t insisting that it should be immediately attended to and therefore, it becomes one of those little tasks that we can get back to later when time permits. But, this is not cool. It’s not cool at all.

This terrible fail is the result of a lack of planning and every home seller deserves better. While I rarely speak directly to other real estate agents on this blog I’d like to share some very simple thoughts on rolling out a new listing to help sellers capture the “once in a new listing” opportunities that exist.

Dear real estate agent,

Here are just a few things that you might want to be thinking about when you take your next listing.

  1. Your listings are your inventory. They are presented with your name attached to them and they are a reflection of your professionalism, your organizational skill, the level of care that you apply to your work, and your ability to manage details. If you can’t effectively handle this simple part of the process, how can a seller have confidence that you’re capable of handling a contract?
  2. Your new listings deserve a rollout plan. If you’re too busy to roll it out properly, don’t take the listing.
  3. Timeliness is important, but the quality of your presentation should never be sacrificed for speed. Any seller is best served by having their listing rolled-out properly tomorrow, instead of poorly today.
  4. Most of the tasks associated with a new listing can be performed by another competent individual who trades their time for money (assistant or virtual assistant), so don’t be afraid to delegate, but it’s your job to ensure that the tasks are completed correctly and once started, without delay.
  5. Decide with your seller on a launch date for the listing.
  6. Gather all of the important data about the property including a full compliment of photos (interior and exterior) prior to the rollout date.
  7. Write an attractive description, post-process images and prepare virtual tours in advance of the rollout date.
  8. Share your photos and your description with your seller to reduce errors and to improve the quality of your work.
  9. On the rollout date submit your listing using broker load and include all of the information you’ve gathered in a single session. Do it early in the morning. Nothing else will be competing for your attention at 6:00 am so you’ll have plenty of time to see the task through to completion, and to proofread and correct errors before the system starts to send data out around 10:00 am. Your listing will also show up on the “new listings” page of the MLS® all day, instead of just a few hours.
  10. Continue on with your other electronic marketing tasks while you’re in front of the computer with all of the data handy.

It really is that simple.

Home sellers; don’t be afraid to set the bar high in terms of your expectations in the rollout of your listing. Ask your agent for a rollout plan and some assurances that the presentation of your home will be handled with the great care it deserves.

Related posts

A compelling case for more photos on your home listing
If a picture is worth a thousand words…

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @norm_fisher.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS® listings represented by all real estate brands, presented with more detail than you’ll find anywhere else. Check it out here.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Who is your real estate agent looking out for?

Who is your saskatoon real estate agent looking out for

If you’ve visited my blog before, chances are you’ve caught on to the fact that I’m very concerned about a practice which is occurring regularly which I believe is deceptive and hurtful to both buyers and sellers. It goes like this; the agent lists the seller’s property and promises to give the home full exposure to the market including all kinds of advertising and more importantly, MLS® service. He then does whatever he can to hide the listing from the market while he makes his best effort to sell the property himself, hoping to pocket the entire commission. Perhaps he lets a few of his best buds from the office in on the game, but for the most part he tries not to let anyone know it’s for sale unless he or someone else from his office has the chance to show it to the buyer.

Why should you care? Well, if you’re a home buyer it robs you of the opportunity to see and consider homes which were supposed to be listed MLS®. It limits your options. If you’re a seller, you should care because these practices are almost certainly going to cost you money; lots of money. Every agent knows that there is a pretty direct relationship between the number of prospective buyers for your home and the price at which your home will sell. If an agent pulls this trick on you, he has no shame. He is a deceptive, selfish person who thinks nothing of stealing from you. He certainly has no regard for the fiduciary duty which he owes to you as your agent.

At first, I was reluctant to bring it up. Now, I’m like a raving lunatic who can’t be stopped until this evil practice is dead. J Please forgive my rambling but I do take this business very seriously.

I did a little research today on Saskatoon and area real estate sales dating back to February 15.

Here’s what I found.

  • A seller is more than twice as likely to receive an offer which is above the list price if the buyer is represented by another real estate company (or brand). Last week the average overbid exceeded $6,000 and we’ve seen offers as high as 15% over list price in the past few weeks. As a home seller, you probably want to maximize the chances that it will happen for you.

  • Where a listing sold for less than the asking price, the average discount was just .4% if the buyer was represented by a different real estate company (or brand). The discount jumped to 2.4% when the same company (or brand) represented both the buyer and the seller. On a $250,000 home, the difference amounts to an additional $5,000.

I believe that this massive disparity is the result of agents who engage in the practice I’ve described. I can’t think of another reasonable explanation and I’m seeing it happen every day.

There is nothing wrong with entertaining offers from buyer who is working with your agent, or your agent’s company. However, if there aren’t any agents from other companies inquiring on your home, you may want to find out if your agent is playing “hide the listing.” We are currently experiencing the hottest real estate market I’ve ever seen. Make sure your agent is helping you take advantage of it, and not robbing you blind.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

85 year old woman gets surprise of her life lease

Old Woman

I heard a story today that left me so incensed, that I couldn’t resist repeating it.

Some time ago, a local church built “a 15 story high-rise building offering enriched housing for seniors.” Apparently, the building is managed by “a voluntary board (hereinafter referred to as the board) independent of the church. The building contains 109 suites, 36 are subsidized rental units and the remaining 73 are “life interest lease suites.” For those unfamiliar with the life lease concept, a buyer buys the right to use the unit for their lifetime. When they are finished with the home, it’s sold back to the original owner, usually a non-profit organization, and the price is determined based on terms outlined in the lease document.

Here’s the story as it’s told to me by the daughter of a senior couple (hereinafter referred to as John and Mary) who purchased a life lease in the building. I have not seen the documents involved in this transaction.

It seems that in 1989, John and Mary had reached their senior years and decided that they were ready for condo living. They purchased a life lease for $83,000 and happily settled in. At the time of the purchase, their lawyer expressed some concern regarding the ambiguity of the resale clause which stated that John and Mary were obliged to sell their interest back to the board when they were ready to sell at a price “hereon depending upon the conditions prevailing” at the time of the sale. Apparently, the documents do not indicate what “conditions” the price is dependent on. I expect most would agree that “real estate market conditions” would be the obvious inference. Comfortable that they were dealing with the church, John and Mary felt good about moving forward. They did.

In 1998, John passed away and Mary was a widow at 78 years of age. Sometime in early 1999, Mary gets a call from the board. As she tells the story, she’s allegedly told that her documents have to be updated to remove John’s name from the life lease. Mary is all too happy to oblige and signs the documents placed before her with the understanding that the only alterations to her original agreement are the names.

Mary’s most recent statement from the board is dated January, 2005 and it shows the “current market value” of her unit being $100,300. Between 1989 and 2005, the average selling price of an east-side condominium has increased 62%. For some reason, Mary’s unit has only increased by 20%. Further, it seems that some provision in her contract entitles the board to 50% of her equity gain. If true, this reduces her total return to just 10%.

Mary’s daughter is not pleased. She’s particularly troubled by the claim of entitlement to half of Mom’s equity, so she starts digging for paperwork. Lo and behold she comes across the original purchase agreement, and the updated agreement which was executed in 1999. She’s unable to find any clause which specifically addresses a sharing of the equity, but she notices that the first and second agreements are not the same. Where the initial agreement stated that the selling price was “hereon depending upon the conditions prevailing,” the second agreement has additional wording which states the price is to be determined at the “sole discretion” of the board.

It seems that the board has also contracted themselves with an “irrevocable assignment” to act as her attorney to deal with and make all decisions related to the disposition of the property.

Of course, I’m not a lawyer so I suggested that Mary’s daughter might want to meet with one real soon.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate