After looking at condos and houses online for months, then pounding the pavement and checking out properties in person, will you absolutely “know” when you’ve found the one you’ve been looking for?
Does it have to possess that “wow factor” that you’ve come to expect?
Do you want it to be romanticized, and have the unit literally sweep you off your feet, as you fall in love?
No. You don’t. Not always, at least, and I can tell you that if you’re waiting for this, then you’ve ready too many Harlequin Romance Novels…
I’m sitting here typing this blog at 11:47pm on a clear Toronto night, and out of the corner of my eye, I see the glare of the C.N. Tower.
It just turned from red to blue, but I’m looking at the computer screen – not the Tower.
It’s become like a lamp in the corner of the room that’s bright, and I in my peripheral vision, but isn’t something you intentionally look at.
I’m at my dining room table, which is my “home office” even though I have an actual home office, but that’s just where I fold laundry and store random crap that I can’t find a place for.
I have my feet up on the chair in front of me, and I’m slouching into this comfy leather dining chair with awful posture, which is probably one of the many reasons why I go for massage therapy on my lumbar once a week…
When I’m done writing this, I’m going to pick up my dog (she’s laying on the blanket, on the table, next to my laptop – where she helps me work), go lay on my wicked sectional couch, turn on my Sony TV, and scour Netflix in hopes of finding a Nicholas Cage movie that I can start 30 minutes in, and enjoy 25 minutes of.
This is my life, in my condo. And I love every single minute of it.
But when I first saw this condo – the one I live in, with my wife, and come home to every evening, I really didn’t think much of the place.
I saw the unit on MLS as soon as it came out, and was immediately drawn to the 1,200 square foot terrace. I spent little time looking at the interior photos.
When I came to take a look in person, I’ll never forget my very first impression: a wall.
I opened the front door, and there’s a wall right in front of me. I hate that, or I should say, hated that, since my tune has since changed. That wall has become the focal point of our foyer – with a gorgeous one-of-a-kind mirror we found at Elte, and a handmade mahogany console that displays a couple of our treasures from around the world.
But that wall. That goddam wall. That was my first impression of this condo. Just a wall; white, plain, ugly, and in my face. Nothing on the wall, at all!
The furniture in this condo was god-awful. The unit was tenanted, and they had one of those stupid “bar tables” that’s like 4 1/2 feet high, which looked even more ridiculous given the kitchen counter was only 3-feet high.
Their couch was leather, and ruffled, and was too small for the space.
They had their TV on an angle in the corner of the room, with an ugly glass cabinet that was covered in dust.
The window ledge was covered in “chachkies,” and may have included several porcelain figurines that not even your grandmother would have.
The master bedroom was tiny. All the clothing in the closets had plastic on them from the drycleaners, and they were still in the wire hangers. Ewwwwww! Had this guy not discovered “the transfer?” Come on, guys! When you reach a certain point in your career, you take your drycleaning off the wire hangers as soon as you get home, and re-hanger your shirts on your cedar hangers!
The back-splash in the bathroom was the worst I’ve ever seen. It was the same as the back-splash in the kitchen. So bad, words can’t describe it. Wait! I have a piece in my storage locker! Hold on, let me go get it…
Here it is:
Yes – that’s the pattern that adorned the shower. And the entire kitchen! Can you see that in your kitchen?
I went outside to the 1,200 square foot terrace, and it was empty. Nothing out there, except one sad set of patio furniture that was rusted, and the rust-water had stained the even-uglier concrete deck tiles.
The unit absolutely, positively, failed to make an impression on me.
And yet here I am, four years later, living in it, and loving every minute of it.
If you’re a romantic at heart, and you believe in “love at first sight,” then your DVD collection likely has the odd movie starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale…
But in the real world, two people don’t meet for the first time, and know, that the other person is “the one.”
You have to get to know the other person. You go out on dates, you talk, you bond, you frolic.
You have to connect on dozens of levels, and find out if you’re a “fit.”
That doesn’t happen in an instant.
And when it comes to real estate, I feel as though many people have that same expectation that when they step one foot into the threshold of a condo, they know “This is IT.”
I guess we have to leave the dating parallel here, since you can research and view house and condo listings online for months, but you can’t really do the same thing in the dating world. Browsing profiles on online dating? Sure, I guess. But your condo doesn’t speak to you, treat you well, make you laugh, and love you. Or maybe it does…
I do have clients that “know” it’s the one as soon as they step inside, but the point I’m trying to make here today is that the overwhelming majority of my clients feel this is how the process will play out, when usually, it’s not.
Last week, I had two buyer clients both say “no” to condos, that I thought were absolutely, positively, perfect.
I knew what both buyers wanted, we had searched long and far for it, and after waiting for months, the units came onto the market.
Both buyers were excited to step inside, but after ten minutes, both shrugged and said, “I’m just not feeling it.”
I’m not a pushy guy, so while I can highlight the benefits of a unit, I’ll stop short of saying, “You’re wrong – this is the place.”
However, one of the two buyers changed his mind four days later, and emailed me to say, “I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and the unit is everything I”m looking for, and more. Let’s go back and take a look, and prepare an offer because I think I’m going to move forward.”
Unfortunately for that buyer, the unit had sold that very morning. Five days on the market, and it was gone. The buyer is now regretting dragging his feet, but he said, “I just though when I walked inside I’d know, you know?”
Not everybody knows as soon as they walked in.
I certainly didn’t.
Most people think that it’s easy for a Realtor to buy and sell for him or herself, but in reality, it’s ten times as hard. We seek perfection, because we see several hundred properties a year, and we start to design the perfect place in our minds, whether we know it or not.
I learned through my experience with the condo I currently reside in that there is no such thing as “the perfect place.” What is my condo lacking? A walk-in closet? Meh. A larger den? I don’t even use it right now. A bigger second bedroom? That’s my dog’s room. If my condo was on the 11th floor instead of the 9th floor, I’d see all of St. James Park from my terrace! Ah well, it’s pretty damn good as it is.
My wife and I had the condo painted, changed all the light fixtures, removed the back-splash in both bathrooms and the kitchen, and spent months picking the perfect furniture, window coverings, and accessories. Actually, we just bought a rug today from Urban Barn – after almost four years.
The house or condo you want to live in four years from now is not the house or condo you walk into tomorrow. You have to work to change the property to what you want it to be.
And for that reason, I find many buyers – especially those looking for their first or second condo, expect to walk into what they’ve been picturing in their minds, but end up walking out disappointed.
The more search parameters you have, the easier it should be to know it’s “the one” when you walk inside.
If you’re just looking for a “1-bed, 1-bath, 600 square feet in King West,” then perhaps I might understand the need to “connect” with the space, since there are hundreds upon hundreds of units that fit that description.
But if you say, “I want a 2-bed, 2-bath, hard-loft, 900 square feet or more, 10-foot-ceilings, brick-and-beam, with parking, balcony where I can BBQ, upgraded kitchen, open concept space, room for a large sectional couch” and you find a unit that meets those criteria, then you should really tread carefully if you don’t get that “feeling” you were hoping for.
You have to realize that it’s everything you wanted, and you might not get another chance.
That was my mindset after leaving my current condo, unimpressed, four years ago. I ended up in competition, bidding against other buyers! Looking back, my indecisiveness almost cost me, even though I knew this place had everything I wanted, within reason.
If you’re looking for absolute perfection, then build your own house from scratch.
And if the same goes for your dream partner, then simply do what Wyatt & Gary did in 1985’s classic, “Weird Science”…