LACKIE: Despite all the hate mail, good real estate agents are still valuable

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Week after week after week, for nearly two years, I wrote this weekly column on the state of real estate in Toronto.

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And week after week, no matter the topic – it can be something as simple and straightforward as monthly market statistics or as controversial as the speculation about how the government might be slowing down the proverbial freight train – comments and emails pour in with absolutely heartbreaking real estate agents.

It would seem that some sincerely believe that we are where we are now (you know, in the midst of an affordability crisis and the tightest housing market on record) almost entirely because of an industry populated by shady agents and their corrupt practices.

We are incompetent. We are dishonest. We manipulate. We obscure. We take advantage. We make too much money for not enough work. And these are the soft hits.

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The vitriol was a bit jarring at first. And difficult to reconcile. On the one hand, we are useless, in this market, houses sell – all we do is stick a sign on the lawn. On the other hand, we have grouped together around a powerful mastery of the levers that drive the real estate market to guarantee bargains for our sellers and for ourselves. Hmm.

The main driver of this wild market is the lack of inventory. Lack of inventory stimulates competition. This competition drives prices up. Sellers are now accustomed to high prices and demand results from their agents. Buyers are now used to having no control over the process. It’s rough.

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So let’s talk about the current model of quoting below market value in order to let the market do its job. It’s exhausting. Blind bidding is exhausting. I would much rather set the actual price and let the process go smoothly. But what is the real price anymore? If market value refers to what someone is willing to pay on the open market, how can such scarcity be factored into this valuation process? It’s not manipulation, it’s market forces. The sellers determine the process, we plan their options.

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Your agent should do infinitely more than stab a sign on your lawn. Prepare your home, market your home, market awareness, leverage relationships, manage and negotiate offers.

But maybe you don’t believe it or maybe that’s not what you want — maybe you want to be in the driver’s seat. If so, negotiate whatever fee you think is fair or have your home mirror listed on MLS for a flat fee – it’s up to you how much help you need or want.

Buyers are excited, they’ll find you.

And if you’re a buyer and feel that commissions are exorbitant and agents provide no value beyond the transaction, find one who will do just that for a flat fee. While sellers technically pay the commission (and in multiple offers the listing agent will want to maintain the level of the rules of the game), buyer’s agents have the ability to give you a set amount of commission that they is allocated in the form of a “buyer’s inducement”. “Ask him.

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But is that all your agent actually does? In a market as tight as this, help navigating a bidding war is invaluable, isn’t it? Someone to help you analyze comparable sales, assess the personal value proposition a property represents, figure out how to take into account your specific circumstances, and frame them in a way that puts your best foot forward. How to be successful without having to just throw every penny you have at the seller.

And contrary to popular belief, no one wants their client to pay too much. We are in a referral business, after all. Our livelihood literally depends on happy customers sharing their happiness with friends, family and colleagues. Any agent who is even moderately successful in this industry is successful because they keep their clients front and center.

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Why am I so careful when helping my clients navigate an offer night? Because I’m already thinking about what would happen if circumstances changed and they had to unload the property next year.

If you work with a professional, real estate will be their full-time job. And with over 60,000 agents now registered with TRREB and competing for your business, you can bet if yours is successful it’s because they put their customers first. They will have a proven track record that you will likely have heard of because they were referred to you by someone you trust, or you did your research and asked them to show you examples of their success as an advertiser and agent. of the buyer.

And if you’ve had bad experiences, report them to the Real Estate Council of Ontario. Think a listing agent lied and made another offer? RECO will review it for you. Do you think your agent breached his fiduciary duty to you and overcharged you to increase his commission? Go after them.

The true professionals among us would like nothing more.

@brynnlackie

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