The Toronto real estate market is a bit of a feeding frenzy these days.
Even if you find a house that suits your taste, you’re often one of too many at the table, starved for opportunity and hungry for something different.
Perhaps that explains why realtors use food to help distinguish their listings and attract homebuyers. The majority of open houses in the GTA these days include some display of food and beverage, but a couple of creative reps around the city have taken this culinary come-on to a whole new level.
Bram Siskind, an award-winning Harvey Kalles sales rep, has catered his open houses for over fifteen years. He does not do it for the buying public, but rather, for the agents who preview a property before listing. He also does not put out the typical fare:
“You need to get agents out to see a house in the hopes that they remember it,” says Siskind. “So, what better way to do it than with a memorable spread?”
Siskind does not settle for the traditional tuna and egg. Like a garde manger, he presents a selection of meats of the finest quality and taste. Working with Carlo from La Salumeria on Yonge Street, the results have been overwhelmingly positive, with agents lingering longer at a showing, and the spread itself developing a following online. The brand-conscious Siskind is now as well known for his charcuterie platter as he is for his sales records.
“It’s about making a mark and showing that you care,” says Siskind. “I still have to know everything about a listing, and I still need to communicate that information in an effective way. But if I can do all that, and provide an enhanced, more satisfying experience for an agent, it’s well worth the effort and cost.”
Siskind has managed to attract a large client base over the years. But most realtors still have to find creative ways to convince potential buyers and sellers that they are the right fit. Martin Markle of Freeman Realty has had great success on that front, with some help from a few delicious foods.
“The process of a real estate purchase can be stressful, and it’s such a major investment of time,” says Markle. “It’s important to make the experience enjoyable. And who doesn’t enjoy eating something nice?”
With that truth in tow, Markle visits the home of prospective clients to answer any and all of their real estate questions. But he does not come empty-handed.
“I bring a unique business approach to every client interaction,” says Markle. “But I also bring food. How about a dozen donuts? Krispy Kreme, Timmies…you name it. And if you prefer bagels, I’ll bring those instead.”
As clients bite, Markle assesses the value of their home and assists them in communicating what they want in a future purchase. The food helps to put everyone at ease, but it also captures Markle’s imaginative approach to real estate.
“I want my clients to know that I do things a little differently,” says Markle. “I stand out by being fun and colourful and thinking outside the box. And as a result, my client’s listings stand out as well.”
These food-themed home visits have allowed Markle to build an easy rapport with his clients, and a relationship built on trust (he’ll tell you if there’s a poppy seed in your teeth).
“I’m committed to bringing the creativity to real estate,” says Markle, “And the response to this campaign has been overwhelmingly positive. I guess I put the feed in feedback.”
Markle and Siskind have figured out the dos of doing real estate catering. But what about the don’ts? Certain foods can run the risk of souring the proceedings.
Here’s just a small taste:
Have you ever heard the expression, ‘cheap as chips’? Putting out chips and dip only works if you’re hosting an open house and your tenth birthday party. Buying a house is a major financial decision. Your limp bowl of regular Ruffles is not going to get anyone to dip into their savings.
When it comes to an open house, it’s all about the dough. So, those delicious cookies you bought from that out of the way bakery across town? Keep ‘em out of the way. You want to give a buyer a flavour of your neighbourhood… not send them out in search of a sweeter deal.
Most good cheeses smell bad. Most good open houses do not. If you’re going to put out a selection of cheese, go with something mild like a Brie or a Mozzarella. There’s no need to remind the buyer just how much our real estate market can stink.
I’ve never quite understood why a warm, de-crusted egg or tuna sandwich is considered a ‘party sandwich’. And is an open house really the right time to party? If anything, give them the egg and tuna after they’ve bought above asking, when you really have reason to party.