Real-estate agents would do well to take a long, deep breath before delving into the comments accompanying any online article in which real estate is the subject matter.

A brief exploration of said comments will almost invariably reveal that there are many people convinced the real-estate industry is populated by unethical grifters, whose sole ambition is to manipulate home prices in order to line their pockets, while driving home prices up, up, and away from the good guys.

I kind of get it.

The Toronto real-estate market has been on the rise since the great recession of the 1980s.

With the exception of a few blips – most notably the economic downturn of 2008 and the short-lived reaction to the imposition of a foreign buyers tax in 2017 – there has been consistent year-over-year growth.

Without getting too deep in the weeds with an explanation of the economic forces driving that growth, it’s safe to say it’s demand that has driven prices up.

Toronto is an economic and cultural hub in Canada and people want to live here. Full stop. That demand has driven the real-estate market.

For many years now, as we have contended with low-supply and high-demand market forces, selling a house has appeared to require little more than sticking a sign on the lawn and waiting for someone to show up with a big, fat cheque.

Yes, staging and interior photography make a difference, and home-inspection reports and well-run open houses certainly factor into the equation.

But the reality is that the public doesn’t see the countless elements that come together for a successful sale, nor should they particularly care.

What they see is the behaviour driving the sensational headlines.

The east-end house listed for $599,000 that sells for well over $1 million.

Bidding wars that produce 30 offers or more.

Realtors whose LinkedIn profiles reveal all sorts of day jobs.

It’s not a great look for the rest of us, because what it obscures is the many ways a good agent advocates for his or her client through preparation, research and experience.

In the same way an airline passenger should disembark oblivious to any stress in the cockpit, a smooth real-estate transaction is much the same.

If your agent has done the job correctly on the back-end, you may wonder what it is exactly that he or she did.

And that, funny as it sounds, is a good thing.

With more than 50,000 agents currently licensed with the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, it would be safe to say only a fraction are full-time working agents.

The “80/20 rule” comes to mind – the idea that 80% of the business is generated by 20% of the agents. Even that may be generous.

So what does this mean for an industry facing uncertainty in a post-COVID-19 economy?

For some, it may well be a cause for alarm.

But many others will see it as an opportunity to dig in and show their value to their clients.

My first mentor, a veteran agent with more than 40 years in the business, told me that what the industry needed was “a good recession.”

Then, he said, professionalism would matter again.

While I do shudder at the thought, if that’s the outcome of the uncertainty that lies ahead, I have to think the industry will be better for it.

– Brynn Lackie is a second-generation Sales Representative with Chestnut Park Real Estate and has been helping her clients navigate the challenging Toronto market since 2011.

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