Not all of my real estate tales are filled with jolly-good shows and happy endings.
It’s a very up and down business, so allow me to regale you with a story from my formative years.
This is the story of the only client I have ever fired…
His name was “David,” and I knew right away that he was a complete whack-job.
I was in my first year of real estate; my first few months, actually, and I was willing to work with anyone, anywhere, at anytime.
Almost six years later, he remains as the only client I have ever fired.
I didn’t actually say “You’re fired.” No, it was not that dramatic…
In actual fact, I was very diplomatic about the whole situation.
I said, “David, I think it’s time go our separate ways.”
He didn’t understand. He truly did not understand what I was saying.
“David, I can’t provide you with the level of service that you’re looking for,” I said, hoping that this would suffice, when what I wanted to say was, “You are such an arrogant a** and your overwhelming sense of entitlement is going to get you nowhere in life!”
I finally said, “David, I just can’t find you the property that you’re looking for. I can’t do it.”
I couldn’t do it, of course, because it didn’t exist. And I couldn’t provide him with the level of service he needed, because nobody could.
Let’s start from the beginning…
My best buddy passed my name along to “David” since they both worked for the same government cubicle-farm inputting data all day long, and David told me that he and his fiancee were looking to rent an apartment.
I had only been in the business for three months, and I was so excited to have a new client!
I scoured through hundreds of listings and sent him 5-6 prospects, all in his price range of $1200/month.
He emailed back rather bluntly, “No, these won’t do. This is a joke, right? People actually live in these hell-holes?”
I didn’t take it personally, as I thought perhaps he was right. I wasn’t all that familiar with the city yet, and maybe the properties were complete garbage.
It took a few tries to actually get David out looking at properties, and I’ll never forget our first encounter.
He was a complete dweeb, with a bowl-cut right out of 1988 that I’m sure his mother gave him. He was wearing jeans that were rolled up at the bottom and a very thin tie – also probably from 1988. His Bata windbreaker was a nice touch (I didn’t know they made apparel…), and he had really thick glasses like Elvis Costello. He was wearing bright white sneakers with his black slacks; a really great contrast if you were a white supremacist…
He introduced me to Carrie and by amazingly saying, “This is my fiancee, Carrie…..we don’t have a ring yet, but we’re working on it.”
Not that I would have noticed, but her hand was lacking a diamond. He mentioned this twice later on, why, I’m not sure, but it added to the intrigue.
We were looking at a $1500/month apartment, which I found strange since he told me his max was $1200, but he emailed me this property so I assumed he knew what he was doing.
David and Carrie walked through the 2-bedroom apartment overtop of a retail store on Yonge Street, and David remarked, “We’re going to have to put at least three deadbolts on the door.” Strange, I didn’t know Lawrence Park was a dangerous area…
After a half hour, David said, “Okay, we’ll take it!”
YES! I was so happy – this would have represented my second deal.
I said, “Geez, David, I was a little worried when you sent me a $1500 listing! I was worried you wanted to offer $1200.”
He said, “No, no, no,” and I got the impression we were on the same page, but the he continued, “This place is worth, borderline – $1100/month. Let’s write it up.”
I was completely bewildered.
Imagine offering $1,100,000 on a $1,500,000 house. It’s the same thing, as far as I’m concerned, and this was a hot market, even for rentals.
The math didn’t work at all: why would the owner accept $400/month or $4,800/year less when he could afford to let the unit sit vacant for THREE more months and only lose $4,500?
“David,” I pleaded, there’s no way they’re going to take $1,100/month.”
He replied, “They will if they want my business.”
What an idiot.
His sense of entitlement was overwhelming. He thought the world was his oyster, when really he was just some schmuck with a hand-me-down windbreaker and a bad haircut.
I called the listing agent and asked if they would even entertain the offer, and the listing agent laughed at me, and hung up the phone.
David said it was my fault for not knowing how to “deal with people.”
The next time we went to look at condos, David told me to stop starring at his fiancee. Now, I don’t want to be cruel, and perhaps I’m not every girl’s fantasy, but I can say with one-hundred-percent certainty that his fiancee was……..ummm…….unattractive.
I could have used a better word, but I think this will suffice.
I tried to contain my laughter, but David said, “Seriously, it’s obvious to me, and as soon as she sees your tongue wagging, it’ll become obvious to her too and you’ll have lost yourself two bona-fide clients. Please, eyes off the prize.”
Yes, this really happened…
Fast forward about two weeks, and maybe three field trips later, and David FINALLY found an apartment that he would make a full-priced offer on. This was a very large 2-bedroom apartment on Redpath Avenue near Yonge/Eglinton. It had a beautiful picture window in the living room that let a ton of natural light through, and there was a walkout to a small back patio.
I sent David the Offer to Lease, and told him where to sign and how to fax it back to me.
I inclued the standard clauses for a rental, and I assumed that a full-price offer would net me a deal.
Just in case you don’t know – let me explain how the commission works on a rental. This offer was for $1300, so I would receive half of one month’s rent, or $650. In my first year of real estate, I was on a 60/40 split with my brokerage, so I would have netted a whopping $390 for my month’s work.
I say “would have” because David returned the offer with six clauses hand-written into the agreement.
I don’t have the offer in front of me, but I can recite them at will. I will never forget these…
1) Lessor agrees to replace existing fridge, stove, and dishwasher with brand new appliances.
2) Lessor agrees to paint the entire premises a color of the Lessees’ choosing.
3) Lessor agrees to install a Weiser deadbolt and an ADT or Alarm Force security system.
4) Lessor agrees to introduce Lessees to all neighbors in the building and mediate any issues within 24 hours.
5) Lessees reserve the right to break the lease at any time, with no notice.
6) Lessees reserve the right to landscape the premises and be reimbursed by the Lessor.
And…..that was about when I said, “Um, you’re fired!”
The thought, “This can’t really be happening” was bouncing back and forth in my head.
There was no way this guy actually thought that the seller was going to spring for $3,000 in new kitchen appliances, just because this arrogant, windbreaker-wearing, bowl-cut mop-top, doufas wrote a clause in perfect cursive-writing on the Offer to Lease.
I asked him why the seller might take these clauses into consideration, and David reiterated his thinking from weeks before: “If they want my business, they’ll do what I’m asking.”
At this moment, I wanted to quit my job as a Realtor and become a psychologist simply to figure this guy out.
How could anyone be so clueless and uninformed?
How could anyone be so entitled?
His false bravado was overwhelming!
But…..at least he had a “gorgeous” fiancee…
I told David that we needed to go our separate ways, and he chewed me out for not doing “my job.”
He felt that a better negotiator would have been able to deliver on his requests
Hey, perhaps a better negotiator could find a landlord that would actually pay to have David live in his apartment!
A few months later, I asked my buddy what ever happened to David, and he said, “You know it’s the damndest thing – one day he just stopped showing up for work, and I never saw him again.”
I often think about “David.”
I wonder where he ended up.
Maybe he didn’t have enough locks on his door and something terrible happened to him…
Or maybe he’s travelling around the world with the American Swimsuit Team.
Or maybe, just maybe, he’s living in the same basement apartment, with or without his fiancee, while his mother places a bowl on his head and cuts around the edges…