Quick Hits

Here’s a feature I used to routinely write a few years back.

Sometimes there are a lot of smaller stories that don’t get told, simply because they’re not “blog-worthy.”

It’s not quite a matter of “quality versus quantity,” but rather there’s always so much to say, and so little time.

Here’s a few topics worth touching on…

quick-hits

Two Offer Dates

You’ve been reading stories on my blog throughout 2017, or back in 2016 for that matter, about “bully offers” and how they’re driving the market crazy.

Properties are being listed for sale with a set offer date, say, February 28th, and they’re selling on the 21st only hours after they come out, or on the 22nd after a buyer forces the seller’s hand, or even on the 27th – one day before the scheduled offer date, which makes absolutely no sense.

Some listing agents (myself included) are fed up with the chaos and are saying “No Pre-Emptive Offers” on the MLS listing.

I do this mainly because I think you always get a better price on offer night, but also because, as I explained last week, I want to expose the property to the entire market, not just the first person through the door.  I’d rather have 15 offers on “offer night” than one offer the day the listing hits the market.

In any event, I think listings that specifically spell out “Yes” or “No” to bully offers are important.

If the market is going to be chaos, better to have an organized chaos, I believe.

And then this past week, just when I thought I had seen it all, somebody sent me this:

PreEmptive

Unreal.

Absolutely, positively, ridiculous.

It makes no sense.

“If you’re going to break the rules, we’d like you to use our rule-breaking rules.”

Setting an offer date of the 25th, but saying “Seller Reserves The Right To Review Pre-Emptive Offers” is what we’ve come to expect.

But setting an offer date of the 25th, and then setting a second date for bully offers?

That’s crazy town!

What if somebody (gulp!) submits an offer on the 17th?  Then what?

Do you bully, the bully-date, that’s a head of the offer date?

I don’t know where people think this stuff up…

Poker Room At 70 Temperance Street

Are you familiar with INDX?

It’s the name of the condominium at 70 Temperance Street.

I have no idea if INDX is an acronym for something, or if it’s playing off the TSX Index, since it’s located one block away.

Either way, the location of this building – right in the middle of all the bank buildings, means the demographic is like something out of Boiler Room or Wall Street.

The building has some of the most insane amenities I’ve ever seen:

– Lounge
– Party Room
– Boardroom
– Yoga / Pilates Room
– Fitness Centre
– Golf Room
– Movie Theatre
– Barbecue Area
– Poker Room
– Billiards Room
– Exterior Terrace
– BBQ Area
– Dry Cleaning
– Grocery Delivery Service
– Shoe Shine Station
– Concierge Service
– 24/7 Security

And while “shoe shine station” might jump out at you, what really got me was the poker room.

How does this work?

Is it like the gym, where the building simply leaves equipment out for people to use, or like the library, where there are desks at which people can work?

Because if the building is putting out green felt tables at which people can gamble then isn’t this, I don’t know, sort of illegal?

What kind of liability is on the condominium corporation here?

They’re not running a casino, but they’re encouraging one.

And how long until the poker room gets a blackjack table?  Or a roulette wheel?

What are the rules?

Maybe what started as a few tables for people to sit down and play, eventually turns into one guy who plays “the house” and sets up for blackjack dealing.

Based on the demographic of this building, I’m thinking Saturday nights in the poker room at 70 Temperance are busy…

Increase In Toronto Land Transfer Tax

Some of you might disagree with this one, but personally I think Toronto’s decision to increase land transfer tax on properties above $2,000,000 is yet another punishment for the wealthy.

I read an interesting letter to the editor a couple of weeks ago, check this out:

Rich Is Not A Crime:

Re: It’s Time To Limit Tax Expenditures That Favour Our Highest Earners (Feb. 7, Globe and Mail): 

Implementing this reasoning would amount to further shafting high income earners and send them scurrying to another geography.

Not only do the 1 per cent account for 11 per cent of taxable income, but the author suggests let’s take a little more by taxing capital gains at 80 per cent instead of 50 per cent, closing in on full-pop taxation.

So basically, take away more than half of their marginal income – and also more than half of the investment income from what they are able to save from the less than half they are left with.

How about better accountability for what happens to our tax dollars? It is not a crime to be a high earner.

T.J. Machado, Mississauga

I can’t say I disagree, especially with the last part about accountability, and the notion of it being a “crime” in today’s society to be a high-income earner.

And raising the land transfer tax by 0.5% for the value of properties over $2,000,000 is punishing those earners yet again.

Many of you don’t care, and I don’t blame you.  You’re trying to figure out how to make ends meet in today’s economy, and in a city that’s being taken over by generational and foreign wealth.

But just consider that a buyer of a $4,000,000 home pays a downright stupid $152,200 in land transfer tax.

That’s a completely arbitrary tax, and always has been.

It’s not about city services related to housing, like garbage pick-up, snow-clearing, hydro lines, etc.  That’s what property tax is for.

Land transfer tax is the most ridiculous, and most arbitrary tax I’ve ever seen.  It’s worse than the Liberal government’s sneaky eco-taxes.

Agents Losing Keys

Here’s one the public doesn’t care about, but is worth telling.

You all know the drill regarding keys and lockboxes, right?

Be it a house or a condo, there’s a door key in a lockbox, maybe with an access FOB, and the real estate agent opens the lockbox, retrieves the key, shows the house or condo to the buyer, and puts it back.

“Puts it back” is the most important part.

Keys go missing from time to time, it happens.  On a long enough time horizon, an agent is bound to forget to put back a key.  The agent gets chatting with his or her buyer clients outside, for twenty minutes, and then forgets the key is in his pocket, and drives off.

But what really, really bothers me about this, however, is that nobody ever admits to it.

Not one agent, in all my years, has said, “Oh geez, yeah I woke up this morning and there was a key in my pants pocket, sorry about that.”

It’s never happened.

Last week, a key went missing at one of my listings.

I called the last three agents that had shown the property – the previous night at 7:00pm, 7:00pm, and 8:00pm.  Three appointments, three agents.

All three said they handed off the key to another agent.

One agent gave me a long, convoluted story about how he had no cell phone signal in the stairwell, and had to go back down to the main level to get a signal, to check his phone, to get the code, to open the box back up and put in the key.

Then he added that he could see somebody in the unit an hour later, as he was in the building across the street, and looks into my listing.

Me thinks thou dost protest too much?

In the end, as it always does, the key magically reappeared an hour later.

But not before my client had to leave school, Uber to the condo, get another key, and go to place it in the lockbox – where the original key had now been returned.

Those are the two constants with lost keys:
1) Nobody ever admits to it.
2) The key always seems to magically reappear.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

A seller of mine came home to her condo last week, after a day’s showings (which in this crazy market is seventeen appointments), and found the following:

1) The door handle to her balcony was broken right off, and left on the counter.
2) The kitchen drawer track was broken.
3) Somebody left a Starbucks coffee cup in her bedroom.
4) Somebody left a Booster Juice cup in her sink.

This is a busy listing – $599,000 in King West, in today’s 2017 market, means close to 80 showings in a week.

But that doesn’t mean that this ceases to become “a home” and simply becomes “an asset.”

The kitchen drawer was sticky – so somebody yanked on it really hard, and broke it.  Maybe that’s an honest mistake.  Same goes for the balcony door, I guess.

But what really gets me is leaving behind a coffee cup.

And the person who left the Booster Juice did so knowingly, since they decided to place it in the sink!  Maybe the person with the Starbucks just forgot.  No excuse, but it could have been a mistake.  The person who left the Booster Juice took the time to place it in the sink.

I guess they thought the maid would pick it up?

A Realtor’s Dinner

I reached a new low-point last week.

Or maybe it’s a high-point.

It depends on who you asked.

I told this story to a colleague, and he said, “That’s awesome.  You’re a beauty.”

I told this story to a snobby friend-of-a-friend, and she said, “You tell a story that most people would be mortally embarrassed by, like you’re somehow, like, so proud of it.”

And then she induced vomiting so she could fit into that night’s dress…

A busy real estate agent is often on the road all day, and well into the night.

When the market is in full-swing, I’m often getting home at 10-11pm every night, and it means I’m always on the lookout for a meal.

It’s easy to forget to eat when you work in this business.  I always seem to remember to drink coffee, but sometimes I get to 5pm, my stomach hurts, and I think, “Oh wow, I forgot to eat today!”

Many nights I’m presenting an offer at 7pm, then heading off to showings, then back to deal with the offer; it’s back-and-forth, east-to-west, all over.

Last week, I was insanely hungry around 10pm, and I found a Sobey’s on Dupont Street just east of Ossington.  I figured I’d get one of those ready-made sandwiches or wraps, but by the time I got there, they had already cleared them all out.

I looked around everywhere, but the “prepared foods” section was completely closed.

There was only one item of prepared food left anywhere.

And it was one of those “Family-Sized” BBQ chickens.

Not exactly the “grab-and-go” type of food, is it?

Not quite something you can eat in the front seat of your car?

Well, I was absolutely starving, and I didn’t want to eat three bananas and a Granny Smith apple, thank you very much.

So I went to the cash with a travel-size Purell, a box of Kleenex, and a BBQ chicken.

And then I went into the parking lot of Sobey’s, at 10:30pm, and ate that chicken….

…..on the hood of my car.

Bare hands, just ripping and chewing, like our ancestors in 10,000 B.C. would have, except I was in an upscale neighbourhood and it was 2017.

I mucked about two-thirds of that bird, and then cleaned up with my Purell, and erased any trace of my carnivore behaviour with a piece of Dentyne Ice.

And you know what?

That car-hood dirty-bird was the best meal I had all week.

🙂

16 Comments

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  1. Carl Warner says:

    Taxing rich(er) people? Well, as bank robber Willie Sutton reputedly told a reporter, when asked why he robs banks, “because that’s where the money is.” And whatever your opinions on taxes in the broadest sense, no one can justifiably claim that the so-called one-percenters don’t represent “where the money is.”

  2. JG says:

    “car-hood dirty-bird” – awesome.
    Could become all the rage this summer. You might be a trail blazer. 🙂

  3. Jeffm says:

    Thenland transfer tax is something that is neccecary at least for now, the city needs the 500 million it brings in. Think transit is bad or expensive now, wait till that money goes away.

    Either you have to add it to property taxes (which would give us rates similar to the suburbs) or hit owners up front and have long term lower rates.

    1. Joel says:

      Increasing everyone’s property tax would be the reasonable solution. I don’t think anyone would notice a 10% increase to their property tax and the elimination of the double LTT would make an impact right away.

  4. Steve says:

    David
    How about an article on your thoughts about real estate commissions? I am not questioning the value of a realtor but should the realtor continue to be entitled to 2.5% of the value of the house when the house has gone up 200% in the past decade ?

    1. Jeffm says:

      Most realtors will always talk about there value at 2.5%, but should selling a 1 million dollar home 50,000 plus HST to sell? That’s closing in on 60k. On top of that there will be smaller amounts to pay to get it sold for top dollar (staging/light repairs/prep etc) which may add in another 5k.

      I do think good agents add value and should be paid, but we are in a time where the regular consumer should have more access to information and more of the money should be staying with owners of the property. David talks about the land transfer being crazy on a 4 million dollar home, so are the fees associated with selling. $225,000.

      1. Geoff says:

        At least realtors do something and only get paid if it sells. Lots of people have mutual funds charging 1.5% MER’s on accounts, year after year, regardless of returns. They’re not kidding when they say that you can lose up to 30% of your retirement funds over 25 years if you’re paying 1% in fees vs. .025% in fees.

        1. Geoff says:

          sorry 0.25%

          1. Mike says:

            The difference is you can invest your money on your own and have all the same information as the professionals, that’s the law. Not true for real estate. While you can buy or sell without an agent, getting the information contained in their database is only available to licensed realtors.

            Before someone trots out that they real estate agents have compiled that information on their own, I will point out that TMX compiles their infomation at their cost as well as sells it, but does make it available to non-professionals for free.

    2. Condodweller says:

      @Steve David doing an article on RE fees is slim to none. Although he says he doesn’t shy away from controversial issues because he wants to be open and transparent I suspect fees are just a bit taboo even for him.

      Even if he did an article what would you expect him to say? That the fees are too high? That would be stating the obvious and really would add no value.

  5. Mike says:

    Is the LTT increase on properties above$2,000,000.00 a punishment for the wealthy? I don’t think so. We’re talking about million dollar tear downs at Pape and Danforth (and east of Pape at that), At the $2,000,000 level that just a shot across the bow of anyone living in Toronto proper. If you own a single-family home worth $2mm in Kenora you’re a wealthy person; if you own a single-family home worth $2mm in Toronto you live north of Finch, east of Vic Park or west of Keel.

    To that, as I’m sure Doug Porter would point out, the land transfer tax was increased in Ontario not Toronto as you have stated. There is a recommendation that Toronto follow in the 2017 budget but that has yet to be voted on. Even the letter you provide to prove your point is from a guy in Mississauga, why on earth would he be arguing about Toronto’s LTT as it wouldn’t effect him living in Mississauga? Toronto, unlike Mississauga has the power to implement taxes like the LTT via the City of Toronto Act so there is no worry from Mr. Machado that Mississauga will raise his LTT. These are the kind of things that someone selling real estate should know. Knowing the location of condo buildings is impressive but I’d be pretty pissed if an agent I was using didn’t know the actual details around the LTT.

    1. Free Country says:

      Mike, I take exception to your sneering remark “and east of Pape at that”. You have insulted the honour of at least 500,000 proud Torontonians! East of Pape has some of the finest neighbourhoods in Toronto!

  6. Ralph Cramdown says:

    “I think Toronto’s decision to increase land transfer tax on properties above $2,000,000 is yet another punishment for the wealthy.”

    That’s just straightforward supply and demand.

  7. Tamir says:

    I love the plethora of short stories, both fun and sad.
    Try to save these up for at least a monthly version please?
    Your fan,
    Tamir

  8. jeff316 says:

    The problem with all the anti-tax responses is they show the irrationality and lack of understanding of the responders themselves. There is an effective and coherent critique to tax increases, but those points are almost never made. Case in point, TJ Machado.

  9. Paully says:

    Maybe you should tuck a Caveman costume in your trunk for the next time that you enjoy a meal like that?!

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