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Changing the Game: Challenging widely held beliefs in real estate

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When you get into real estate, you’ll find a set of well-worn phrases. Phrases that many in the industry accept without question. They can be short, sweet and often rhyme, carrying an air of “this must be true” that gets people nodding (it’s an amazing phenomenon that making something rhyme makes it more believable).

When I started in real estate, the belief was that you couldn’t build a business on social media. You had to be “belly to belly.” I had already built real friendships with people online who I hadn’t met in person yet. If I could build a real friendship online, why couldn’t I build a relationship with potential clients?

I used to start my presentations on social media marketing, showing that you could get a deal from it. Now, nobody questions it. I’d argue we’ve gone too far the other way. Some now believe you can’t build a successful business without social media. Hint: they’re wrong.

Questioning these beliefs has worked well for me in business and in life. Even for many of us who do question a lot, it’s still easy to fall into the trap without realizing it. So, let’s start taking a look at what many in real accept as the truth. 


“Should we be turning a home into a house?”


I will write this as a series, which I’d be happy for others to contribute. My first draft of this hit 3,000 words, and I wasn’t through half the sayings/advice I wanted to talk about.

recent REM article showcased a listing where an agent did not de-personalize the property. Instead, they personalized it. It made me think. Is de-personalizing the home the right approach? Everyone says it is, but is that true?

Should we be turning a home into a house to make it appealing to potential buyers? Is there data behind this? Or is it a theory someone had that took root and became popular because the reasoning seemed sound? You can make an argument for making them see the life someone else has there and want it for themselves. There’s data on the impact of home staging, but I haven’t seen any on de-personalizing.

What if you highlighted the life people lived there instead and made it aspirational — something to strive for? Show them the better life they could have — the Instagram-life version of the home.


“A blank canvas can be impersonal, sterile and void of emotional appeal. It’s like walking into a hotel room; it’s meant for everyone and no one in particular.”


The belief is that a blank canvas allows potential buyers to envision their lives in a new home. But there’s another side to that coin. A blank canvas can also be impersonal, sterile and void of emotional appeal. It’s like walking into a hotel room; it’s meant for everyone and no one in particular. Not everyone has that type of imagination.

What if, instead, we appealed to the emotional side of a home buyer?

Purchasing a home is both a rational and emotional decision. We look at the square footage, the neighbourhood and the potential for appreciation. We also imagine our children running around in the yard. We picture ourselves hosting family holidays. We start picturing where our furniture will go.

In the “Instagram era,” where everyone shares their best selves, why not extend this to listings? A home that is aspirational might allow potential buyers to connect on a much deeper level. If you get someone picturing the life they’ll have there, it makes it a lot harder for them to walk away.

You’re not selling a home but a lifestyle. A life well-lived within those walls — filled with the first days of school, graduations, marriages and holidays. It’s a way to break through the sterility of the empty or neutral home and offer something memorable.

For heritage properties, the history of the home is part of the appeal to many. You’re selling them on being the next caretaker of the historic home for this generation, to become part of its history.

Should we be removing that or emphasizing it?

Whether you’re a veteran realtor or a newbie, there’s always room to question, learn, and grow. After all, to borrow a phrase, the best way to predict the future is to create it. And who knows, maybe we can even make it rhyme.

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