Thinking Outside The Box

Sorry for lack of a blog post on Friday, folks!  Sometimes life outside of real estate gets in the way of TRB! 🙂

Today, I want to tell a story about a colleague – a competitor, actually, who did an exceptional job for her clients, and went above and beyond what is usually done.

I tell a lot of stories on this blog about agents who do poor jobs, or cut corners, usually because that’s what people want to talk about.  But today, let’s turn the tables, and talk about something positive, which I wish happened more often…

ThinkOutsideBox

“This property is priced for multiple offers.”

I’ve covered this topic before ad nauseam, and I’ve often noted that I LOVE when this phrase is used in a case were multiple offers do not materialize.

“Did you know that this property was priced for multiple offers?” I’m often asked by a listing agent, while sitting in front of them, when I have the ONLY offer.  I wrote about that last month, and how embarrassed an agent should be when they ask that question, and yet there is only ONE offer.

I’ll usually respond with something that lacks a snide tone, but points out the truth, ie. “If it was truly priced for multiple offers, then how come I’m the only person in this room?”

It must seem so easy to most people – whether you’re an agent, or a member of the public.

If you’re listing a property, and it’s worth about $700,000, then just price it at $649,900 and people will be lined up to offer!  Under-Price!  Everybody is doing it, and it works!

But you know what?  It doesn’t always work, hence the conversations I have like the one above.

Sure, some properties should be under-listed, and should solicit multiple offers.  But that’s in conjunction with timing, staging, marketing, and professionalism.  You can’t under-price a brick of cheese at Loblaw’s and expect people to fight each other for it in aisle seven.

A lot has to go right for a property, whether under-listed or not, to receive multiple offers on “offer night.”

And a lot of that has to do with the listing agent, and what they do……or don’t.

Many listing agents simply put the property on MLS, set an “offer date,” and sit and wait.  I can honestly tell you that this represents about 25% of the job.

If you’re listing a property and you “need” to get multiple offers to get your price (ie. you listed $50K under what your clients would accept), then you’d better work your ass off to make it happen.

For starters, you need to be in touch with every person who shows the property.  If a showing is booked by a buyer’s agent, then call that agent and butter them up.  Tell them about the property, and ask what you can do to help.

And when they finish showing the property, call for feedback.  Call again to chat them up again, and try to get a sense of whether or not there’s potential for their clients to bring an offer.  If there’s interest, then perhaps there’s more you can to do help!

If the property is a single-family home, you’ve more than likely done a pre-home inspection, so take the initiative to email the entire inspection in a PDF to any buyer agent that shows the property.  And while you’re at it, email anything else you have as well.  Floor plans, virtual tour, list of household improvements, etc.  That buyer agent might just click “Forward” and send it to their buyer with “FYI…” as the body of the email, but perhaps the buyer will spend some more time considering the property.

When “offer night” comes, a listing agent should be working the phones like crazy to try to drum up interest.  Sometimes you call and say, “I don’t have any offers registered yet,” to try to get an on-the-fence buyer to proceed with an offer, and other times you email buyer agents to say, “8th offer registered,” as the feeding-frenzy might bring out the competitive spirit in the buyer.  It all depends on the situation, and the listing agent has to read it accordingly.

Unfortunately, many listing agents do one thing very, very well on offer night: nothing.

I don’t pull my punches when I discuss the 40,000 real estate agents licensed in Toronto, and how many of them are simply horrible at their jobs.  So suffice it to say, many of these listing agents feel the steps to obtaining multiple offers and an over-asking sale price are as follows:

1) List property.
2) Put lockbox on door.
3) Set offer date.
4) Receive multiple offers and feel like a GOD when agents parade through the room, hoping to “win.”

If it was that easy, everybody would be doing it.  Wait……..I think almost half the GTA has his or her real estate license….

So what do you do when multiple offers are NOT coming in?

That’s the story I wanted to tell today.

Last week, my buyer clients bid on a property in Leslieville, and we lost out to another offer.

The next day, while I was still holding my clients’ deposit cheque, and dealing with their resulting sorrow, I received an email from the assistant of the listing agent for that property that my clients had lost out on.

The assistant said that another agent was calling to find out who had competing offers on the Leslieville property, and asked if she could provide the agent with my contact info.  I figured, why not?

Sure enough, an agent called me shortly thereafter and said she had her own listing, in the same area, which was reviewing offers that night.  And guess what?  They didn’t have any offers registered.

Before I could even ask about the property itself, I had to ask the listing agent, “Are you calling everybody in the city?”

She told me, “Well, I’m trying to find buyers who might be interested, so I’m calling some of the agents for properties that just sold in multiple offers, trying to find out who the other bidders were.”

That’s a nice way of saying, “who the losers were,” but I got the point.

And as it began to soak in, I thought, “What an amazing idea!”

So here’s this listing agent who has a property up for sale, with an offer date, and she has no registered offers.  She’s called EVERY buyer agent who has shown the property, and nobody says they’re coming forward with an offer.

That’s it, right?  Isn’t that where most people give up?

No, not this agent.

She begins to think outside the box, and does something that I’m willing to bet about 0.001% of agents would do.

She goes on MLS and looks to see which properties have sold in Leslieville in the past week, and which ones sold for over-asking.  If the property sold for over-asking, there’s a good bet that there were multiple offers.  And where there are multiple offers, there’s always ONE “winner,” and one or more “losers.”  Often, there could be 7-8 losers, or more.

So she calls the listing agent for those properties that sold in multiple offers, and asks if she can have the names of the buyer agents who represented the “losers.”

Find enough properties, call enough agents, get enough names, and surely you’re going to find somebody that’s interested, right?

I’ll tell ya what – I was interested.  Very interested, as you’ll see shortly.  So too were my clients.

The property was listed at $749,900, and my buyers were approved for a maximum of $750,000, so when it hit MLS with an “offer night,” and we figured it would sell in mulitple offers, we chose to focus on the other property, which we had lost out on.

Here we were a week later, and this property had zero offers at 1:00pm, and I called my clients and told them we should see it.  Maybe it was a long shot, but what if no other offers materialized?

It was last Wednesday – the day of the “snowstorm,” although tell that to the people in Buffalo…

My clients agreed to meet me at 4:00pm at the property, as one of my clients got the car, picked up her fiancée downtown, and drove the 15-minute distance in 45-minutes due to the snow.

We took a look at the property, and it was a no-brainer.  Considering we had just lost out on a $700K house the night before, and we figured this house was MUCH more than a $50K-better home, we were sold.

We registered an offer, and crossed our fingers and hoped that no other buyers would come forward with an offer.

As luck, or Mother Nature, would have it, no other offer materialized, and I went to the house at 7:00pm to present our offer.

I sat down at the dining room table with the sellers, their young daughter, and the listing agent, but before I handed over my offer and the deposit cheque, I looked at the sellers and said, “Do you mind if I tell you a quick story about what an amazing real estate agent you have?”

I wasn’t trying to butter them up.  Nor was this any sort of shmooze.

I just love hard work and ingenuity, and I respect work ethic.

So I told the sellers the truth – “Your agent worked the phones all day today, and with her outside-the-box thinking, I’m sitting here tonight as a result.  I didn’t even know this house was here – I had no clue offers were tonight, but she called around and talked to all kinds of other listing agents, and found my name, and gave me a call.  I’m here, about to sell your house tonight, because your agent made this happen.”

And that’s the truth.

“Putting a sign on the lawn” isn’t the way to sell real estate, and no matter how how you think the Toronto real estate market is, no house sells itself.

After hearing this story, you might say, “Oh well that’s nothing – all she did was make a few phone calls?”  But I’m telling you, I’ve never received a phone call before, from a listing agent who found me by calling other listing agents, asking who was making offers in the past few days.

It’s creative, and it’s thinking outside the box.

I don’t believe in much, so I can’t say “Things happen for a reason,” but I found it highly convenient that my clients lost out on a house on Tuesday night and lucked their way into a better house on Wednesday night.

Win some, lose some.

But we won this one, and the sellers that were looking at zero offers on their house before their agent worked the phones, certainly won as well.  My clients bought a house, and her clients sold a house.

In this market, you rarely find a true “win-win,” but on a snowy night last week, it happened…

11 Comments

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  1. Maggie says:

    Great story. Reminds me to think outside the box and take action!

  2. lui says:

    David in any other industry this wouldnt be a amazing thing to do but I guess in real estate its called creative thinking.Its not surprising to hear the horror stories about real estate industry these days but some what surprising common sense is a rarity for many agents.

  3. Paully says:

    Great story!

  4. Gypsy says:

    Looks like that your clients got the shaft as you did not negotiate the price down.

    1. Geoff says:

      And maybe blowing a great deal…

      Don’t you have a bridge to go live under ?

      1. Gypsy says:

        This story and people’s comments here is a strong indication that we have reached the peak of this tulip mania. When did paying the asking price become “the great deal” especially when there are no other takers and vendor was kind of desperate to sell?

        I bet this was an unconditional offer to buy at the asking price in the name of not blowing “a great deal.”

        1. ScottyP says:

          They got a great house at asking — Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

  5. Andrea says:

    Love this story! Time to start the “Super Agents” group, by invitation only?

  6. m m says:

    I was half expecting for the story to take a typical turn, where the sellers’ agent says “even though you have the only offer, the listed price is for multiple offers…” and then list a week later at a higher price. The sellers and their agent in this case were actually reasonable.

  7. Patty says:

    That was a wonderful compliment you made. So few people go out of their way as the sellers agent did and you as well David by letting us all know.

  8. Emma says:

    Awesome story Dave, it’s agents like you that inspire the good agents that hard work does pay off in the long run and hearing about them is always a great deal! (to me anyway! it does matter)

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