Before we begin, I’d like to give a heartfelt Thank You to my Blog/LinkedIn readers. You have been extremely supportive over these past years, and I’m glad that I was able to help out many readers with your real estate transactions. This article is another example of how I was able to help a reader complete a very challenging transaction, while making a new friend in the process.
On March 10, 2019, I received the following message:
Hey Yinan, are you familiar with the East Gwillimbury market? I have a house listed right now, but not entirely happy with the service I’m getting. Can you take a look at the listing and let me know what you think? Just trying to get a rough feel for now, my agreement is up next weekend.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with East Gwillimbury, it sits on the Northern edge of GTA (Greater Toronto Area), quite far from the action (~45mins drive north of Toronto) and the area is experiencing a slow/buyer’s-market since the launch of the 15% foreign buyers tax and the B-20 stress testing.
The house itself is a brand new single garage detached home in Sharon Village, and it presents three (3) main challenges that makes it harder to sell:
- Challenge #1: it is brand new, never lived in, hence it is missing some of the essential appliances such as Air Conditioning
- Challenge #2: it doesn’t have a direct entrance to garage due to a last minute change in the builder’s plan
- Challenge #3: the worst problem of all, it has already been listed for sale by another real estate brokerage and it’s been sitting stale on the market for over 4 months! It did receive an offer near $730k but that’s way too far from seller’s expectation.
As you know, it is almost always easier to sell a property when it first hits the market, and the difficulty escalates quickly once it sits stale on the market for long, signaling potential buyers that perhaps this property isn’t desirable and/or there’s something wrong with it. The listing record remains in the property’s history forever even if a new real estate broker is used to sell the property, making the job of the latter realtor (myself in this case) much harder.
**Seller tip: treasure the first time that your property is listed for sale and fresh on the market as prospective buyers have less certainty on the popularity of this property, especially within the first 30 days. Sellers could capture higher price potential by exercising the right selling strategy during this period, and the property becomes exponentially harder to sell as time passes by.**
I decided to take on this listing despite its challenging situation as the seller is from within my LinkedIn network, and I’m determined to get it done right this time. Based on my analyses, there are 6 main areas of improvements that requires teamwork between the seller and my team:
- Since houses in these remote areas are more suitable for end-users than investors, we need to ensure it’s move-in ready for the buyer. Hence installing Air-conditioning is a necessary investment
- I personally visited a number of other houses for sale in the neighbourhood as part of the market research, and most of them do have direct access to garage from within the house. Luckily the positioning of the garage in the subject property still allows an entrance to be made by a qualified contractor
- Lighting is very dark throughout the house, making the house seem unpleasant and dull even though it’s brand new
- As it’s a smaller house, professional staging is necessary to bring out the best of the house and help buyers visualize the optimal use of the limited space
- No open house was done in the past 4 month for this property. Open-house is a direct and low-cost method to increase exposure of the property
- Aside from the locals who speaks English, German, and Italian, there are an increasing number of immigrants migrating to this region, such as Chinese and Korean. Wide-scale marketing outside of the traditional MLS is important to reach the full potential audience
Based on our list of findings and to-dos above, we executed the selling strategy with very quick turnaround time:
We installed Air-conditioning and created a direct-access door to the garage
We physically changed lighting throughout the house, and brought in beautiful staging sets, making the house feel bright, warm, and inviting.
Our team’s photographers and designers created beautiful and insightful marketing materials for the property, including its detailed upgrades, neighbourhood highlights, school zones, floor-plans, etc. in multiple languages, and spread them out on various online and offline social media/advertising platforms, reaching over 300k audiences
We also conducted open-houses every weekend to maximize exposure, with strategically placed signs for broader coverage (see map below). Prior to the open-houses, we drove-around the neighbourhood to knock on doors and distribute flyers to spread the awareness for this property for word-of-mouth referrals, generating additional traffic for the open-house.
On a very snowy weekend, we even rolled up our sleeves and shoveled the snow on the driveway as the owner lived far away and we didn’t want to affect/delay the open house schedule.
There are many other steps involved in the rest of this transaction as well as the negotiation process which I will have to save for another article, but at this point you probably get the gist: The devil is in the detail.
Long story short…the result?
As expected, we were able to quickly generate multiple interested parties of buyers, and I was able to make the two buyers compete for the property and SOLD the property at 99.6% of asking price in 29 days!
Seller was extremely happy about the turn out! They referred other family members to me and we kept in touch, conducting additional real estate transactions.
So, the secret of how I am able to consistently sell properties more successfully? Here it is:
~~~ drum rolls ~~~
Hard work, attention to detail, and more hard work.
As you can see, there are rarely shortcuts in life, certainly not in real estate. For each transaction, it’s ultimately a face-off between the two parties (buyer and seller) in terms of how informed, prepared, and knowledgeable they are regarding the property itself and the market. The “less ready” party will usually end up paying for the shortage of efforts they put into the transaction, giving the other party an upper hand in the negotiation process.
Real estate transactions are generally complex in nature, and each buyer/seller has a unique personal situation that needs to be factored into the equation. When you are choosing an agency to represent your interest in a real estate transaction, you are essentially choosing a project partner to work on a complex project side-by-side for a few weeks/months. Choose the partner that you trust who will dedicate their time to perform 120% of the work required, whether it is preparation/marketing for selling a property or research/due-diligence for purchasing a property. Also, ask your agent for past client testimonials to get a sense of his/her working style, which will help determine whether it matches your expectation for the service.
Questions? Feel free to contact me any time.
Yinan Xia, MBA, Broker
Wechat ID: windysummer