With over 70,000 real estate agents registered with the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, there are bound to be differences in the level of experience and the approaches taken by agents in their work with sellers.

There are many reasons why a seller would choose a particular agent to list their property for sale, whether it is reputation, experience, commission, services provided or a recommendation from a trusted source.

Regardless of how an agent secured a listing, they have the same job.  Within the Refined team, we identify that job as having three components:

  1. Price it properly.
  2. Market it effectively.
  3. Negotiate it aggressively.

The end result of your agent doing all of those things is the home selling quickly, for the most amount of money, with the least amount of stress.

Every listing agent has choices they need to make on how to market the property to bring in the right type of buyer.  Whenever we view listings that have stayed on the market for longer than average or sold for less than they should have, the common thread is how the listing agent chose to present the property.

It takes time, experience and a focus on learning what works (and what doesn’t work) in order to best present properties for sale.  We see listing agents fall within three levels of understanding how to present real estate, and if you look at real estate listings, you can often identify which of the three levels the listing agent has achieved.

Let’s review the three levels and see if you can identify which level most agents fall within based on your personal experiences.

Level One – That’s Not My Job

We’re calling this Level One, but it might more accurately be described as not having any understanding of how to present real estate.

The telltale indicator of an agent who is at this level is a focus on facts (often to an incomplete level) with no effort made to place those facts in context.

  • A mostly filled-in MLS listing but any aspect that requires consideration or analysis is missing.
  • Room dimensions but no detail as to features in the room, which bedroom is which, whether the kitchen and living room dimensions are shared or separate, etc.
  • Photos taken by the agent with their cellphone, often in bad light and odd angles. No logical presentation of the order of the photos, with a close up shot of a scratched dining table followed by a basement bathroom photo, followed by the closet in the primary bedroom.
  • The remarks section at the bottom of the MLS restates the same information as in the listing and provides no context. Is it a three bedroom bungalow perfect for empty nesters, is the backyard fully fenced, is it in a good school district or close to convenient retail and restaurants – you won’t know based on the listing.

While properties presented this way is often indicative of a new agent who hasn’t grasped that it is their job to help buyers understand the appeal of the home, there are sadly some experienced agents who still don’t think interpreting the facts is their job.

Level Two – A Good Grasp of the Basics

At this level, the listing agent has internalized the need to not just provide facts, but to provide other information that will be helpful to convincing a buyer this is their next home.

The telltale indicator of an agent who has reached this level is a more complete provision of all relevant facts, as well as sharing some aspects that may be relevant to a buyer’s attempt to see if it is a fit.

  • A complete MLS listing, including fields that are not mandatory when you upload the listing.
  • Floorplans that help buyers see not just the dimensions of the rooms, but also how the space flows so a buyer can see if the small bedroom is beside the primary bedroom and good for a young child or on another level with a sliding glass door to the back deck.
  • Descriptions of the rooms themselves with highlighted features, such as the walk-in closet in the 2nd bedroom, the solid surface counters in the kitchen or the heated floor in the primary ensuite bathroom.
  • Lots of professional photos of the interior and exterior of the home, perhaps with a 3D virtual tour so that someone who likes the look of the listing can see how it feels to “walk” through the home online.
  • Remarks for potential buyers that show the agent understands why a buyer might be looking at this home over others. If the home is located in a preferred school district or a short walk to a GO station and that is important to buyers looking in the area, they mention it.
  • Additional remarks for purchasing agents that gives them more useful information, such as who it would be suitable for (whether it is bring your fussiest clients to this incredibly well-renovated family home, or this is perfect for your handyman or builder clients) so that it sets expectations and helps agents direct the right buyers to the home.

Agents who have reached this level tend to be working with full-service real estate brokerages where the focus is on quality and results rather than the lowest commission.  We have seen some well-done listings from discount brokerages but they tend to be the exception that proves the rule.

Level Three – There Is No Such Thing As One Size Fits All

The final level that a listing agent can reach is where they have learned the basics and the ways in which properties can be well presented to the public but have also learned that there is no such thing as one size fits all.

The telltale indicator of an agent who has reached this level is a comprehensive approach to the listing that has omitted irrelevant elements and added in unique or unusual aspects to the way it is presented.

  • A detached house setup as an income property, where the listing agent has included an attachment with the financials for the property, including rental rates and existing lease terms, utilities, insurance and other costs and a net income calculation.
  • An existing house in need of significant renovation where the listing agent has prepared two packages for prospective buyers. The first is focused on existing floorplans and dimensions and useful information for people considering buying to renovate the house, such as the high basement ceiling height, the existing separate entrance or the process for adding parking.  The second package is focused on buyers who would tear down and build a new home and includes a survey, buildable area on the lot and even plans for a new home that have been approved for the property.

The agents who know how to present a typical property and who recognizes when a new listing differs in significant ways from the typical property is able to provide the right information to attract a buyer who considers the differences valuable rather than a detraction.

In our experience working with buyers, we see the majority of listing agents fall somewhere between level one and two.  It is thankfully not that common to see that many listings fall under the level one category, as whenever we do see such listings we shake our head in dismay at the poor reflection it casts upon real estate agents.

While it does vary depending on the price point as well as the geographic area, in most urban areas in the GTA, the majority of listings fall in the level two category.  Some might be missing floor plans, others might not share useful information about the community that would help push a buyer into seeing the home, but generally they grasp that considering the property from a buyer’s perspective is helpful.

The final level is still relatively rare and we regularly encounter listing agents who are trying to do a good job for their sellers but have failed to realize that the standard approach isn’t suitable for a property that has other aspects worth considering.  Such listings often take a long time to sell as they are effectively targeting the wrong buyer pool and discouraging the right type of buyer from considering the property.

If you’re looking to sell a property, then we’d love to help make sure you put your best foot forward.  If that sounds appealing, get in touch!