In real estate, perspective is everything.  We’re not talking about the view from the home (though that definitely matters!) but rather the varying value that different people assign to a given property.

We’re accustomed to the idea that different people have different tastes, and that what is a gorgeous mix of colours and patterns for one buyer is a messy, garish disaster to another buyer.  It’s the same place, but in the eyes of different people, it has very different value.

While we may grasp that concept, many listing agents fail to realize that every objective fact about a property also has a subjective value.

  • Is it conveniently located to transit, or does the screech of streetcars bother you all day?
  • Does the home have tons of character and original features, or is it a total gut job with nothing updated?
  • Is it a quiet, tranquil retreat in the country, or is it in the middle of nowhere?

In the above examples (and in countless others about literally every aspect of a property), it is the perspective of the potential buyer that determines the value.  For every person who loves the view from the higher floors of a condo tower, there is someone who can’t stand the thought of living so high up.

The objective side of the coin for real estate is clear and is often the focus of listing agents.  MLS listings use objective facts because they can’t talk about the other side of the coin – the subjective aspect that varies for every individual.  After all, we can list that the condo unit is 772 sf, but we can’t list that it will feel small compared to the house you just sold.

While objective facts absolutely have a place in selling real estate, we think that listing agents often miss out on the chance to consider the subjective side of the coin, and who would be the ideal buyer for the home.  Rather than someone buying a property despite its negatives (to this buyer at least), why not sell the home to a buyer who views the same aspects as positives?

Let’s look at a property and consider the two sides of how it could be presented.

3,042 sf Site Area, 3BR, 2WR, Walk-Out, R2Z2 Zoning

The first side of the coin involves an agent.  Let’s call him Tom.  Tom gets a new listing and he’s pretty excited about it.  He does his job well and gathers all of the information about the property.  He looks on the land registry to get the proper legal description, he asks his clients all sorts of questions and has them provide tax records, surveys and other documents from which he can gather data.

Tom takes all of those pieces of information and he writes up the MLS listing.  He fills in all the fields that are required, plus a bunch that aren’t mandatory.  He’s sharing all of the objective facts about the property, so that a buyer can know all the details.

In the section at the bottom of the listing, where he can write out whatever he want, Tom seizes the opportunity to provide more facts.  He states some key stats about the property, adds in percentage differences between this lot and most in the neighbourhood (12.8% bigger), lists nearby amenities (Home Depot, 1.2 KM east, Wilson Park, 0.8 KM north) and shares everything he can think of about the property, including the zoning designation, allowable setbacks and exceptions according to the municipality.

The marketing material he creates is chock full of information, restating all of what is available on the MLS listing plus the additional information Tom has tracked down.  It all feels a bit dry, but there is no question that Tom is a diligent agent and knows lots of useful information about the property.  He just isn’t sharing it in a way that matters to buyers.

Let’s look at another agent, Martina.

Space to grow with Home Business option, No car needed!

She’s got a listing in the area as well and she’s also pretty excited about it.

She does the same as Tom and gathers all the information she can about the property.  Her listing is very similar to Tom’s listing as it turns out.  In fact, it’s right next door, built by the same developer at the same time.

Rather than just dumping all of that information into the listing and marketing materials, Martina thinks about what it means.

The larger lot in her listing (just like Tom’s listing, it’s bigger than normal in the neighbourhood) means that the current house on the property could have an addition added.  That’s unusual in the area and means that for the cost of the renovation, buyers could end up with a home that is similar in size to considerably more expensive homes nearby.  Martina focuses on this in her marketing, explaining why the larger lot adds real value to buyers, who now have the option to expand the home.

The zoning permits a number of commercial uses out of the home and the layout is such that a home business such as a lawyer, chiropractor, hair stylist and so forth could have a separate entrance for clientele.  Martina recognizes that such an option could be appealing to people who want to upgrade their living situation and contribute to the mortgage by having their business operate out of the home.  She writes up material on that and distributes marketing to local small businesses and professionals that might find that interesting.

Finally, Martina recognizes that the proximity to so many useful amenities means that the home is suitable for someone who doesn’t drive.  She writes up a description about the area where she describes a day in the home, from walking to the park with the kids to bicycling to an organic food store, to the quick transit trip downtown.

One Coin, Two Sides

If we think of every property as a coin with two sides, we can see that focusing on just one side, the objective facts, is far less effective than also thinking of the other side of the coin, the subjective value.

It may not be possible to find a buyer who values every single aspect of the property higher than other buyers, but it is absolutely possible to find a buyer where the subjective value of the property is higher than the objective value.  When that happens, the seller gets a higher price and the buyer gets a property where they receive more value.

If the idea of creating a win-win situation for your listing appeals, with a higher sale price to a buyer who better appreciates your property, then we’d love to talk about the story for your home.  Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and start the ball rolling.  Wait, the coin, start the coin rolling.  Uh, flipping.  Look, let’s just talk, OK?