Look, I wasn’t selling houses back in 1995. For the interest of full disclosure: I was a 15-year-old girl and my hustle was the school newspaper. (That’s me and my siblings in front of our house that year.)

That said, I do remember what my parents and their previous realtor — I’m thrilled to report the job is now mine, thanks Mom and Dad! — did before an open house that year.

They would light scented candles, fire up the oven so the entire place smelled like freshly baked cookies, play classical music with soft ocean sounds in the background, deliberately stage our dinner table with place settings and ornate cloth napkins, hang up happy pictures of the entire family, stick around wearing their Sunday best to warmly greet prospective buyers, and the list goes on.

Hey, twenty-five years ago, tactics like these worked, and played a key part in eliciting an attractive offer. Not to go all “It was a simpler time…” on you, but it was just that!

Costs were lower and competition was mild, plus the lack of internet and social media meant consumers weren’t as up-to-the-minute or discerning as they are today.

That was then, though. This is now. And if you haven’t sold a house in the past decade or two — and believe me, there are real estate agents out there in that boat — then you better brace yourself. Because that whole program just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

Despite something of a relative cooling off recently, the fact of the matter remains that — in 2017 — the Toronto real estate market has never been so aggressive. And buyers have never been so knowledgeable.

Consequently, sellers and their agents no longer have the luxury of relying upon conventional old flourishes, such as boiling cinnamon and nutmeg on the stove with rosemary, or, as used to be so common, waiting until the arrival of spring to list their home.

Nor can they run the risk of making sloppy errors — like taking their own listing pictures, or leaving a barking dog at home, or forgetting the toilet brush out on display in the bathroom, or covering the carpet on the stairs with plastic runner, or having bad wallpaper up, or what have you.

No, as the price home ownership in Toronto continues to skyrocket, the buying process has become far too sophisticated for any of that!

These days, to move a home for top dollar against multiple bids, you’ve got to take away everything personal — contemporary buyers want to view a property as a blank canvas which they can project themselves onto — and fix all the things that need fixing. You need to have it professionally cleaned, painted and staged, then photographed and/or filmed. You should make arrangements for floorplans, and put together a coherent marketing strategy.

Most importantly, you must sell when the market is hot, no matter the season — and this year, for example, the flowers weren’t yet in full bloom.

Sure, some may say none of this matters at the moment — that, to receive a good offer in a blistering market, all a house really must do is go up for sale in the first place — but I disagree.

After all, what’s that old idiom? That you must always put your best foot forward? Right, well, when hundreds of thousands to potentially millions of your dollars are at stake — with fierce competition abound — shouldn’t that especially ring true?

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