Wow, I’ve seen a lot of things in my time, but this experience was one for the books!
I don’t believe that out of the several thousand properties I’ve shown, I’ve ever met a seller quite like the one I met on Thursday.
As I told my buyers, who will be listing their own home if and when they buy, “This is a classic example of how not to sell your home.”
Market conditions aside, this is just nuts…
When I first met my buyer clients, who are the subject of this story, we sat in the living room of their home and they told me matter-of-factly, “We would probably just move out of our house for a week when it’s on the market. We know the drill: non-stop showings for seven days, then offers, then it’s done.”
They get it.
Some sellers, unfortunately, do not…
I am aware that not every Torontonian lives and breathes real estate, and that they don’t all read real estate blogs and newspaper columns every minute of every day. Many of them haven’t transacted in real estate in forty years, to be fair.
Having said that, there’s something to be said for “common courtesy,” and just a reasonable amount of logic when it comes to selling your largest asset.
I also have to think that a good listing agent will prepare his or her seller for what to expect.
In any event, I went to show a house in North Toronto on Thursday evening to my buyer clients, and as the sun was shining, a cloud was hovering over this specific house. It’s amazing how a mood or a situation can completely change in a matter of seconds, but as soon as we walked up to the front porch of this house, I just got a “feeling.”
My clients and I were smiling and excited to have a look at what could have been their potential “forever home,” and they had previously mentioned, “Oh I think somebody just went inside the house,” to which I responded that it was probably another agent and buyer, since this house basically had a revolving door at the front of it, on account of all the showings.
But alas, it was the seller herself that was home, and when I put my right foot on the first step of the front porch, she started waving frantically from the kitchen.
It wasn’t a happy wave, and I could see her angry stare from thirty feet away.
It was a “no, no, no, no way” kind of wave, and she approached the front door with purpose.
I couldn’t see her middle finger, but it may have well been extended. She may as well have waved her hand across her throat in a slashing manner, the way a linebacker does in the NFL before he’s fined $5,000…
She approached the front door, grinding her teeth so hard that I could practically hear it, and yet she didn’t open the door. It was just the outer door – the glass door, that was standing in between she and I, but it may as well have been the door of a vault in a bank.
She was pissed, and I was about to find out why, warranted or not.
But first, she wanted to play coy, and show me how pissed she was.
“Can I help you,” she asked facetiously, even though she had no intention of being helpful, and even though she knew exactly why I was there. She just wanted to prove her point.
“Yes, maam,” I said, already placating, and already aware of what was about to happen. “I’m David Fleming, and I work with Bosley Real Estate. I’m here to show your home to my clients.”
“No,” she said. “No, you’re not.”
Okay. Well, either the “FOR SALE” sign was on the wrong lawn, or I was missing something here.
“You don’t have an appointment,” she said. “There are no appointments scheduled on my home until 4:30pm, and it’s 4:00pm. This isn’t happening.”
This was all through the glass door, keep in mind, as she held her right hand firmly on the lock.
She stared at me so hard that I could feel it. She didn’t break eye contact, even when I looked away, and looked back. She folded her arms across her chest, and raised her eyebrows with a grin as if to say, “I’m proud of what I’m doing right now, and you’d better know it.”
She was about 60-ish, totally normal looking, but just with that “je ne sais quoi” that explained why she was evidently nuts.
“I do have an appointment maam,” I told her. I pulled out my iPhone to show her, and she said, “I don’t care what’s on your phone, you do NOT have an appointment. The office didn’t call me, and nobody told me you were coming. You are not welcome here,” and she put one hand on the inner door and moved to close it in our faces.
I put my phone back in my pocket, since the confirmation from the listing brokerage wasn’t going to do me any good, and explained, “It’s not my office that needs to call you, maam. I booked an appointment with your listing agent’s brokerage, and they’re supposed to call you. I apologize if there was an error.”
“There’s no mistake here – I’ve been out all day – all day long ALL DAY! And I come home in need of doing some work and you’re standing here on my porch and you don’t have a valid appointment.”
“We would love to see your home,” I said, wondering if I should add, “And if we like it, we may purchase it,” just to explain to her how commerce works and how goods and services can be exchanged for money.
“Well the timing is terrible, terrible!” she said a second time, just for effect. “I have work that needs to be done!”
Finally, I simply asked, “Maam, what would you like us to do?”
“Come back another time,” she said. “I’ve been inundated with showings, all day long, at all times of the day. This is an incredible inconvenience, and I just need to sit down.”
She could sit down on the goddam lawn for all I care. She’s about to get $1.1M for her house which she probably paid $55,000 for, and while real estate markets are suffering all over the world, and properties are sitting on the market for ten months, she’s complaining that she’s “inundated with showings.” Talk about an embarrassment of riches!
I said to her as politely as I could, “Well, we’re here now, and we do believe, correct or not, that we have an appointment.”
I hate placating people, I really do.
She told us to hold on, and she got on the phone to call the listing brokerage. She talked to them for a good 5-6 minutes, before she came back and said, “Apparently you do have an appointment, but it’s not until 4:30pm, and it’s now 4:10pm. You’ll have to come back.”
Now, I know the difference between 4pm and 4:30pm, as I have been able to tell time since I was about six-years-old. And when I called to book the appointment for 4:00pm, at no point did I trip over my tongue and say “Thirty” by accident.
Even if I did, however, who the HELL is going to argue about twenty minutes when they’re trying to sell their largest investment? This was a prime house in a prime location, and in any reasonable market (with any reasonable seller….), this house would get multiple offers!
“Do you want us to wait outside for twenty minutes,” I asked her. “Because we have no problem doing that.”
Again, she reiterated, “You don’t have an appointment for this time! I talked to my office and your appointment is for 4:30pm! You’re early, and it’s not fair, and I’m tired, and I’ve been out all day!”
She then asked, “Do you have a business card?”
I actually didn’t have one on me, and I certainly picked the wrong day for it!
She shook her head, and then looked at me suspiciously, perhaps waiting to see if I would run away as quickly as possible, having been exposed for a burglar in a suit with two hired “buyer clients.”
She stood in silence for about twenty seconds, although it seemed like more, and finally said, “Alright, you can come in, but I’m not leaving!”
Man oh man – I never asked her to leave. I didn’t ask anything of her, other than to see her home, which is for sale, on the open market, for which she clearly expects multiple offers, and for which I made an appointment with about 36 hours’ notice.
We went through the house, which was awful, by the way, as she stayed on the phone arguing with the poor receptionist at the listing brokerage who was probably a 17-year-old girl doing a night shift that had no clue how to handle this woman.
She yelled into the phone, “There are appointment requests for Friday night – who would book an appointment on a Friday night?!?!?!”
Again, I really think the listing agent should have prepared her better for what selling in 2014’s Toronto market can be like.
We spent about eight minutes in the house, which was about seven minutes longer than we needed, and my clients and I were putting our shoes back on at the front door when she yelled, “You owe me a business card, and I want one!”
I thanked her for her time, and we left.
But the insanity didn’t end there. In fact, the next contestant won a much bigger prize!
As my clients and I stood across the street, talking about other houses, another agent walked up with his client, and her two kids! My client said to me, “Oh God – what do you think is going to happen here.”
It was the same thing all over again, as this unsuspecting agent knocked on the door, and then got an earful from the seller.
The best part is – she went back inside, sat down at her dining room table, and waited a few minutes before she let him in!
They arrived at about 4:26pm, and she really, truly went back inside and made them wait on the front porch for four minutes until 4:30pm on the nose.
The little girl looked like she was about to cry. She was clutching her mother, and my clients and I even asked each other, “Is she crying?”
I’m a punctual guy, and I’m a very understanding person.
But I’m also a realist, and it’s absolutely insane in this market for a seller of a $1M home to treat buyers this way.
I didn’t walk through the house in muddy shoes, and I didn’t park on her front lawn.
All I did was show up at 4pm for my confirmed 4pm showing, and whether the mistake was on her office’s end, or mine, there’s no reason to treat prospective buyers that way. The fact that she made the next agent wait four minutes was just the icing on the cake.
The house is priced low, seemingly ripe for multiple offers, but if she chases away every buyer that comes and knocks on the door, she’s not going to get her windfall like she expects.
I know that a house is also a home, and that she’s probably been there for thirty years, has an emotional attachment, and is tired, and weary. I get it.
But if you went out to dinner and upon placing your entrée on the table, your waiter spat right in the centre of your dish, would you go back to the restaurant, let alone eat the meal in front of you?
It’s a seller’s market, no doubt.
But not when you treat buyers like that.
This is a classic example of how NOT to sell your home, and it’s something I could explain to my buyer clients for when they sell. But nothing could possibly drive the point home like the real experience, which they received, and it was worth every penny…