Last Friday, when I offered another edition of “Photos of the Week,” a couple of readers mentioned that rather than sharing negative reviews of listings, photos, and seller/agent behaviour, I should provide some feel-good examples of listings done right.
So in the spirit of positivity, let me offer you a story for “Feelgood Friday.”
Perhaps I don’t often share enough of the good stories, and despite this chaotic market, there are many.
Last week, I sold a condo listing amid 13 offers, and the ending sent chills up my spine…
You’ve heard this from me before, but I honestly don’t enjoy working on the selling side on “offer night” during multiple offers.
Most listing agents love it.
I mean, what’s not to love?
Power? Status? Envy?
That’s not me, I’m sorry.
Call me dramatic, but when I receive 13 offers on a listing, I can’t help but think about the twelve buyers, and buyer agents, who go home disappointed.
Once the “winning” bid has been accepted, I personally call all the agents with unsuccessful offers to tell them that I appreciate their offer, and their efforts, and that I hope to see them again out there in the real estate trenches.
In today’s market, when you have 13 offers on a property, the person-to-person connection often goes out the window. More to the point, the buyer-to-seller connection goes with it.
Some of my clients couldn’t possibly care less who buys their house or condo, and yet to some, it’s tremendously important.
The first property sale I ever witnessed was my childhood home, which I mentioned in my Pick5 video today, on Parkhurst Boulevard in Leaside.
It was the spring of 1992, and I was 12-years-old.
I remember my father telling me, as I was upset that we had sold the house and were moving that a “young couple” were going to buy the house, and “start a family.”
In my mind, this was our house. I belonged to us, and no matter what happened, and who moved in, it would always be our house.
Once we had moved out of our home, and into our new one on Bessborough Drive, we went back to the vacant house on Parkhurst, God knows why. I think my brother, sister, and myself wanted to say some sort of “goodbye” before the deal closed, and another family moved in.
I remember laying on the floor of my bedroom so vividly, I can almost smell the 80’s carpet fibres, which always seemed a little dirty, and a little greasy. My mom was trying to round up her three kids to get going, and she walked by the doorway to my tiny room, saw me laying on the floor with my arms outstretched as though I were hugging my room, and said aloud, “Oh my God, I knew this was a mistake.”
When we moved to Bessborough, I still thought of Parkhurst as “my house.”
Our family jogging route took us from Bessborough Drive along the outskirts of Leaside – Bayview, Southvale, Laird, and then back up Parkhurst to Bayview again. We jogged by our old home hundreds of times.
We moved to Parkhurst from a house around the corner on Airdrie Road shortly after I was born in 1980, and lived there until 1992 – a total of twelve years.
I remember in 2005, chatting with my sister, when she said, “Can you believe the family who moved into our old house on Parkhurst has now been there longer than us?”
It was crazy-talk to me.
Longer than us? Really? How could that be?
“Time flies,” and all that? Twelve years?
I remember when I was coaching Bantam baseball from 2007 to 2013, at some point one of the kids mentioned a party at the house (why do parents leave they teenagers alone???), and my head popped up. I gave them the address, and they said, “Yeah, you know it?”
Time flies, indeed. It seemed that the non-existent child from the “young couple” who were “going to start a family” as my Dad told me back in 1992, was now a 17-year-old, throwing parties with the kids I coached.
Well, guess what? That family is still there.
They’ve been there now for a whopping twenty-six years, by my count.
And I think it’s fair to say, that of all the people that have ever owned that particular property, the 26-year tenure really makes it their house.
I think if you took a quick poll, and perhaps we should do that, you’d find that the ratio of people who care, and don’t care, about who buys their home, is about 50/50.
When I received 13 offers on my condo listing last week, my sellers said they really wanted to know who was buying the property from them.
They’re a really nice couple, and I could tell from the first time I entered their condo, that they take an immense amount of pride in their home. They also like to entertain, and left behind in that condo, as is the case with everybody who moves, are a slew of good memories, great times with friends and family, and a few years of their lives.
When we settled on the “winning” bid of the thirteen offers, I called the buyer agent to let her know. She was a little surprised, as anybody would be in the midst of thirteen offers, and she said, “My client will not believe this!”
She told me again, “You will not believe how much this means to my client, just, wow.”
I’ve heard it before; emotions run high in these situations, and the reactions are often hyperbolic.
I emailed the accepted offer, and asked the agent where she was, and where I could get the certified bank draft for the deposit.
And then things started to get really interesting.
“She’s at King & Sherbourne,” the agent said. “I’m in the west end; I could go meet her, then meet you, wherever you are.”
I told her that I actually live two blocks from King & Sherbourne, and provided she trusted me interacting with her buyer-client, I was happy to save her the trip at 9pm in the evening, and go meet the buyer myself.
She took me up on the offer, and was quite grateful.
“Let me give you the address,” she told me, and I said, “I already know.”
Creepy-sounding, but it wasn’t. “230 King Street East?” I asked.
“Yes, wow, how did you know?”
“I lived there for five years,” I told her. “When you said ‘King & Sherbourne,’ I had a feeling.”
Ironically, in hindsight, I realize it could have been 39 Sherbourne Street, aka “King Plus Condo,” which is directly across from King’s Court at 230 King Street.
But I just had a feeling it was my old stomping grounds, and I got in my car, and headed down.
I got to the condo, and walked in through the beautiful lobby (it’s an old bank where they’ve preserved the interior as it was in the 1900’s, and even have ‘before’ photos posted on the walls), then found a seat on the padded benches in a separate waiting area off the mailroom.
It was on that very bench, on the same side, in the very same spot, where I waited for a friend of mine to meet me, along with my mother, back in 2005 when I was looking at purchasing a condo in the building. And here I was, years later, waiting for somebody else, who was looking to buy a condo.
Not exactly the same situation; this lady was looking to buy someplace else, but the coincidence wasn’t lost on me.
I met the woman, as she peeked around the corner and asked, “David?”
She was carrying with her a dog that, I swear – I actually did a double-take as I thought it was my dog.
The resemblance was uncanny.
“That’s my dog’s face,” I told her. “The nose, the eyes, the little teeth – this is my dog!”
It was a half Maltese, half Yorkie, just like my dog. Yet another coincidence.
She handed me the deposit cheque, and we chatted for a while.
She told me that the dog was a rescue, which was ironic, given I had literally just had a conversation with my wife about adopting a rescue dog. Not any time soon, of course. We have a dog, and a 17-month-old baby. Another dog is not in the cards. But my wife volunteers for a non-profit called “Save our Scruff,” which helps find owners for rescued and abused dogs, and she said if we ever get another dog, it’ll be a rescue.
As we chatted, I asked the new-buyer what the importance of her offer price was.
I realized as soon as the words came out of my mouth that it’s a far more personal question than it seems.
A buyer might offer $800,610, because they got married on June 10th.
I’ve seen all kinds of numbers, with all kinds of meanings. Birthdays, anniversaries, lucky numbers in various cultures, favourite numbers, sports jersey numbers, number of children – anything you can think of.
Of course in this case, the lady said, “My Dad.” And then added, “My Mum.”
“My dad died on that date,” she told me. And as the lump in my throat started to grow, she said, “And my Mum on the other date.”
Oh boy. Well, add “death date” to the list of potential numbers and meanings above. I guess I didn’t think of that.
“I actually lost both my parents in a very short time,” she added. “In the same month.”
Right. I was so glad to bring that back up for her…
But you know what? She wasn’t sad. She was actually happy!
“My parents always wanted to help me buy a place,” she told me. “And tonight, they did.”
Boy, was I ever caught off guard.
I have to be honest, maybe I’m not a deep enough person, but I never really thought of it that way.
We had 13 offers, and as is always the case, the bidding was close.
The dates of her parents’ passing were used in her offer price, and those numbers helped her win the property.
In essence, her parents did “help her buy a place.” as she put it.
It was heart-warming, and the coincidences were not lost on me.
But there was even more ahead.
She told me how she had been a tenant in the same unit for eight years, and how recently her landlord asked her to sign a new lease, at a much higher price than what was permitted by law. When she respectfully declined, he sent her a Form N12 by email, with no subject line, and no text. Just the form.
The form specified that a family member would be moving into the unit, specifically his son. She added that she had known him for eight years as his tenant, and she was pretty sure he didn’t have a son…
Rather than dwell on her situation, she decided now would be the time to take the plunge into the housing market, and she started to look at condos.
I know a lot of buyers say this, so it sounds cliché, but she said, “As soon as I walked into the condo, I felt like I was home.”
“They had my stuff,” she said. “Half the stuff I have, they have!”
They also had a dog, as did she, and she had always wanted a terrace for the pup. This condo, by the way, happened to have a 300 square foot terrace.
The coincidences, similarities, and happenstance was just too much. I stood there in the lobby of my old building, and smiled.
And then came the clincher.
She told me, “I just absolutely love that terrace! I’ve always wanted one,” she said. “I actually live above a huge terrace in my current unit.”
It made me think.
“Do you live above the units on the second floor – the ones with the 440 square foot terraces?” I asked.
“I do!” she said.
I knew these rather well, of course. There are six units with 440 square foot terraces, as I used to own one.
“I used to live in one,” I said. “Which unit are you in?” I asked her.
“Unit xx2,” she told me.
“Small world,” I said. I used to live four floors below you. Directly below you. I’m was in Unit xy2.
We both laughed.
What are the odds?
She actually lived there, a few floors above me, for two years while I was there.
We shook hands, I went out to my car, and I went home feeling good.
This can often be a miserable business, and I’m sorry to say, but an overwhelming majority of interactions that you have with people, no matter what role they play, are negative.
So how good did I feel, meeting such a pleasant lady, with such a great story about bidding on and winning this condo, with all these incredible coincidences and personal connections?
That’s a rhetorical question. And suffice it to say, you don’t have to guess how happy my sellers were to hear the following day what a great person they sold their beloved condo to.
Perhaps I’m being overly-sentimental, or maybe you caught me on an off day.
But most “tales from the trenches” don’t end well, so I’m glad I could provide you one on an otherwise feelgood-Friday…