Ask An Agent: How Do You Know How Long To Keep A Home Listed?

Ask An Agent
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
Ask An Agent
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

If you’ve read the bestselling book Freakonomics, you’d know one passage says that on average, real estate agents get three percent more money for their own home than they do for their clients’ homes. It concludes this way:

“When she sells her own house, an agent holds out for the best offer; when she sells yours, she encourages you to take the first decent offer that comes along. Like a stockbroker churning commissions, she wants to make deals and make them fast. Why not? Her share of a better offer—$150—is too puny an incentive to encourage her to do otherwise.”

But is it true? Do agents really change their tactics when selling their own homes? Marta Pozniakowski of Re/Max Condos Plus Corp. Brokerage weighs in.

How long do realtors keep their own home on the market versus a client’s?

A realtor friend of mine is actually trying to sell her house right now and she was telling me last week that she had an offer night and no one put any offers in. So, she said she took the house off the market.

I told her that was a bad idea.

I reminded her that many potential buyers don’t want to come to an offer night because they think the chances of their offer being accepted goes down with the increased competition.

READ: Ask An Agent: What’s The Most Affordable Way To Enter The Toronto Real Estate Market?

Sure enough, she got an offer not long after — which she can absolutely still accept even though her home is unlisted.

The thing about realtors is their experience and expertise allows them to make more rash moves when selling their own home. When you’re working with a client, you want to be more careful so you can keep representing them. Right now, I have a client who listed their house for a month, but no offers were coming in, so I did a little more research, found out what homes were selling for in the area and suggested we take their home off the market for a week. On Monday, we relisted the home for a higher price — the original price I’d suggested when I first discussed pricing with my clients.

Whether you’re selling your home as a realtor or you’re representing a client, how long you keep it on the market has to do with a number of factors. The biggest one being the market itself.

As far as today’s market, we’re not in 2016 anymore, when you could list a home on one day and have it sold by the next, and that has everything to do with the new requirements for buying a home like the stress test and higher interest rates. Not to mention, no one likes to buy a home in the winter in Canada.

READ: Skate Through Your Winter Move With These 9 Tips

It’s obvious we’re in a down market right now, but my opinion is that you may have a better chance of selling your house in the winter or summer when there is less inventory. Spring and fall are when most of the sellers want to sell their house because it became accepted as a common custom that spring and fall market are the best times to sell.

Look at it from a buyer perspective: if there are serious buyers out there that need to buy, they will buy whatever is on the market in December or January. Guess what? If your house is the only one available on the market right now, that puts you at an advantage. Buyers will put in an offer and there will be less negotiation since there aren’t many other places to choose from.

When I put my own place on the market three years ago, I wasn’t really sure if I want to sell. I listed it for as high a price as possible at the time: $1,349,000.  This was before the 2017 real estate fever. At that time, places there were selling for below $1 million. The move was meant mostly to “eat the market.”

Shockingly though, I got my full asking price after keeping it on the market for two months. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I sold it.

READ: The Top Markets For Buyers And Sellers In Ontario Are…

I also made sure I hired a colleague I trusted to represent me, just so decisions around the sale could remain objective and there was no danger of me getting too emotionally wrapped up in the transaction. It also looks more professional.

It’s funny though, when you’re a realtor selling a house and working with another realtor to help you, the process becomes less about giving advice and more about a meeting of the minds: I’d have ideas, they’d have ideas and we’d come to some sort of a consensus on how to move forward.

So do realtors keep their own homes on the market longer than they do their own clients? Maybe. Certainly, the more experience and expertise that realtors have could allow them to weather the storm of market forces and potentially make them less inclined to panic if things don’t go according to the plan.

But, we’re all at the mercy of the market – realtor or not, so even our experience as realtors doesn’t save us every time. It’s all a balance and how long you should keep your home on the market is all circumstantial. No one has a magic eight-ball, even if they’re extremely well informed and great at their job.


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