Quick Hits!

The spring market is humming right along!

Here’s a few observations from the week so far…

I’d DIE To Live There!

This is a bit embarrassing!

I was sending new listings to a client this week, and I happened upon a fixer-upper in the east end that was a stone’s throw from a house that we were considering.

It wasn’t so much that I wanted my clients to look at and consider this new listing, as I wanted them simply to compare it to the house we liked from a price and value standpoint.

Something was lost in translation, and they thought I wanted them to look at this property which needed a new kitchen, two new baths, gas heating (it was oil, among many other old features), but the worst part had nothing to do with the house!

My client emailed me and said, “…..also, I believe there was a murder-suicide in this house last year, so it’s just not right for us.”

Oops.  My bad.  Indeed, there was a rather newsworthy story on this street in November, and it ‘might’ have even been in this home…

Wow!  What kind of Realtor tries to sell their client a “murder house?”  Not even Marge Simpson could sell that sucker…

One-Bedroom-Plus……..Den(?)

After I wrote last Friday’s blog about the uselessness of many of the “dens” in today’s real estate market, a client of mine sent me a “game” which I rather enjoyed.

He sent me a floor plan that was for a so-called “One-Bedroom-Plus-Den,” but he edited out the den.  He then asked me to figure out where the developer and the listing agent believed the den was.

Have a look:

Maybe it takes a trained eye to find the “den,” or maybe it just takes a cynic.

Either way, I looked at this, and knew right away.  And it’s pathetic…

Remember when a “den” was a bedroom that had no window or closet, thus instead of being listed as a “2-bedroom” it had to be listed as a “1-plus-den?”  Those days are long, long gone.  Today, you can basically list a closet as a den, or a small foyer area where you put your shoes.  I mean, there’s no repercussions, right?  The “Den Police” aren’t exactly monitoring the Toronto real estate industry and looking for people who abuse the rules!

In any event, have a look at the original floor plan and see where the so-called “den” has been placed:

Yes, that’s right, the “den” is that very small nook in the living room where you can put a table.

Wait….is that the living room?  Or the living/dining?  Because according to that floor plan, it looks like the dining room is actually in the kitchen!  that’s not a centre island; that’s a table and four chairs.  So if you happen to push back your chair while “dining” in your “dining room,” you might hit the dishwasher….or the stove.

The best part about this “Den Game” that my client sent me was that he also included his email correspondence with the listing agent, so I got to see his shameful attempt at justifying the would-be den.

Fit For A Family!

How many times have I talked about cheap photographs on MLS?

I know that there are 35,000 Realtors in the GTA, and that every Realtor runs his or her business in whatever way that they see fit.

And I know that there are all kinds of business models; some Realtors charge 6%, and some advertise, “List with me for as low as 2.67%!”

But at the end of the day, you get what you pay for, and to be quite honest, even a lot of the 5% Realtors cut corners.

Case in point, here’s a photo for a condo listed last week, whereby the Realtor put their knapsack on the stove, then asked his family to go outside onto the balcony while he took the shot:

Awesome!

Maybe it’s not his family; maybe it’s his client’s family.

But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo on MLS where people are actually hanging out in the unit!

And what’s this photo supposed to be anyways?  “Here’s a great shot of the stove, floor, entrance to the bathroom, HVAC unit on the wall, part of the living room, and my family on the balcony.”

Would you believe that of the other five photos on MLS, one was of the floor, one was of the wall, and one was of the washer-dryer that looked like it was taken while the photographer was falling over?  Yeah, you probably would…

Update….Maybe?

Going through listings on MLS this week, I found two incredible captions in the remarks for brokerages:

1) Listing Agent To Pay $3,000 Bonus If Sold Firm By December 21st

2) Buyer To Assume Tenant Vacating December 1st

Amazing!

What’s the date today?  January 16th……2013?

So here we have two listings that are so completely out of date, and so stale, that they contain captions/remarks that are no longer valid.

On the one hand, you’ve got an agent who was so desperate to sell a unit last November, that he or she offered a special bonus, but never went back to the listing in the start of 2013 (let alone the end of 2012) to update it.

On the other hand, you’ve got a tenanted condo that was probably listed way back in October or November, where the tenant’s lease was up on December 1st.  And even though the tenant has been gone for a month and a half, the listing agent hasn’t been back to MLS since!

As a consumer, what the hell are you paying for?

If your listing hasn’t been updated in 45 days, maybe you’d better check and see if your Realtor is still alive and breathing…

Blacklist?  Or Knowledge & Experience?

I wrote a blog a while back in which I said that there are certain agent’s properties that I won’t show.

A Realtor, who read my blog, told my manager that was breaking REBBA rules!

He said that every Realtor is required to show any and every property to a client that meets their criteria.

Bottom line: you can’t pick and choose.

Here’s the thing: if I show six properties at 125 Smith Street, but I don’t show the 7th because they’re offering 2% commission instead of 2.5%, then I agree completely – that’s unethical, that’s breaking the rules, and that’s dishonest and shady.

But what if I weed out properties based on my knowledge, experience, and opinion?

If a certain agent in Toronto is known to be a liar, cheater, and has an awful reputation for double-ending his/her own listings, continually winning in multiple-offers, and never acting fairly and impartially, would it be so wrong if I were to tell my clients to skip that agent’s listing?

If it is wrong, then what the hell am I doing for a living?  What’s my job?  Why am I working here?  What value do I have?

Because my knowledge and experience as a full-time, top agent over the last decade has allowed me identify a couple of these agents, and save my clients the pain and anguish of dealing with them.  My experience – something that cannot be replicated by somebody in the business for one-day, has introduced me to thousands of agents, and allowed me to work with them and get a feel for how they do business.  If there’s an agent out there that will push his/her own offer in multiples, every time, and never give anybody else a fair shot, then shouldn’t I tell my clients this?  Shouldn’t I tell them not to look at this agent’s properties?

I think so.

Is this a grey area?

What would RECO Ethics think?

I’d love to go up in front of them and argue this.

“My clients were interested in 7 Smith Street, which was represented by a Realtor who I know is unethical, shady and who always wins in multiple offers.  I told my clients that there would be five offers, and they had no shot, and they took my advice, relied on my experience, and we moved on.  And FYI – the listing agent double-ended that property.”

I should get a medal, not a reprisal.

Would you j-walk across the street to save a dozen people from death?  Bad example…

Would you speed up to 62 km/h in a 60/km zone in order to avoid a traffic accident that would take place at 60 km/h?

I can’t think of an analogy.

I guess what I’m getting at is this: many of the “rules” are in place to show that we’re acting on people’s best interests, when in reality, it prohibits us from doing so.  My blog is a classic example.  I speak the uncut truth, on a public forum, for all to read.  But at least once per month, I get a complaint from somebody inside or outside of the real estate business, who has a bone to pick, over something that shouldn’t be an issue to begin with.

When honesty becomes outlawed, I think it’s time to go back and re-write the rulebook…

15 Comments

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  1. cynthia says:

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    I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think about worries that they plainly don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  2. R says:

    While I’m not a realtor, and don’t know the particulars of the RECO guidelines, I would imagine there to be a fine line between “advising” and “not even presenting” any available listings that fit the client’s needs.

    The way I see it, if I’m a client and I ask for all condos that fit a certain criteria, I’d expect you in your professional capacity to show me all that fit that criteria. That’s not to say you can’t give professional advice on which to pursue or any other facts or anecdotal evidence you might have (“that condo will have it’s view blocked by a new development coming next year”…”I’ve had specific trouble dealing with that agent”…). After all, that’s why I’m paying you and not just trolling realtor.ca myself (not to get into the whole – “why do I need an agent thing”).

    What I think is not acceptable and probably on the wrong side of the RECO guidelines is making decisions without fully informing your clients, especially if they are based on what “could” happen.

    There is no way to know what might happen this next time, so telling a client that for sure there will be multiples, they have no shot, double dealing is 100%, etc. is not true until it actually happens. You should advise on the your past history (if agent/client privilege allows – not sure the rules on that), and let the client make up their mind.

  3. DavidP says:

    I moved into VU back when it was still under construction, and I remember looking at all of the various units available for rent.. Some of the second bedrooms are just shameful as “dens”. The layout on my particular 2-bedroom is more reasonable, but it’s still only about 9×9 or 10×10 for the second “bedroom”. Thank god we don’t actually need it as an office – it’s our junk and luggage room.

    1. @ DavidP

      You have a “luggage room?” Man, I’m jealous!!!

  4. JC says:

    I saw a listing at 500 Sherbourne last summer that was listed as a 1 bedroom plus den. While I was there I was looking for the den. I couldn’t find it…. until I realized that the “den” was the area under the stairs to the second floor, where the bedroom was. Seriously? You stick a small desk under the stairs and it becomes a den?

    And here I am worrying my butt off about getting called out on listing a 14×10 room a bedroom simply because it doesn’t have a closet in it.

    I’m with you on not showing certain agents listings. Why subject both yourself AND your clients to shady dealings and unprofessional behavior? There’s one Brokerage where every agent I’ve dealt with seems to emulate the behavior of the Broker (which isn’t anything to be proud of, in my opinion) Disregard for irrevocables, missing info that should be on the listing, hanging up on you when you ask about it, and you end up doing their job as well as your own. Sorry, not doing it anymore. Bring it on RECO! I’d welcome the opportunity to air some of the crap that goes on.

    1. @ JC

      If I listed a condo that had a 14 x 10 foot room with no closet, but it had a door and a window – I’d call that a bedroom.

      If it had no closet, no window, but a door – that is where things get tricky. I personally think that’s a bedroom (big enough; has a door), but I’d list it on MLS as a den.

      If it had no closet, no window, and no door, there isn’t any conceivable argument that it could be a “bedroom.”

      The den situation is a whole other story. ANYTHING can be a den. Your example is perfect. How many “Under the stairs” dens have we seen?

      1. JC says:

        @David

        It did have a door and a window and I listed it as a bedroom. Another Realtor who lives in the building took issue with it because it didn’t have a closet and mentioned this to my client.

        I should mention that the agents/Brokerage I was talking about more often than not make it easy to avoid their listings…. making you go out of your way to pick keys up from their office (in the words of one client “no bloody way, I don’t have time for that bullsh*t”), not returning phone calls when a lockbox doesn’t work or you can’t find it, taking much longer than usual to confirm appointments – very easy to cross them off the list when your client is in town for 1 day and needs to make a decision on a new place that day.

  5. johnny chase says:

    Look at the “Den” floorplan. It’s 23’3″ deep by 24″ (13’7″ + 11″3″ – and I rounded up. That equals 552 sf not 600. Are they now counting balconies in the square footage? Just another way developers shaft the buyers since everyone compares on price per square foot.

    1. AsianSensation says:

      Good point.
      What’s with MLS allowing a range to be put into the sq. footage for listings?
      A tape measure isn’t that hard to use.

    2. George says:

      I think it includes wall depth, which adds up in that space. A 23×24 can become 24×25 when walls are counted.

  6. AsianSensation says:

    I saw a listing recently where someone used the ‘sepia’ setting on their camera.

    Really??? How does an orange picture help you show potential customers what the interior looks like!

  7. Sarah says:

    Ah dens. I was once shown a unit (a rental in my case) that was considered a 1 + den. The agent pointed out the “den” which was quite literally a 1×2 indentation in the wall near the kitchen.
    A shoe rack could have fit in there quite snugly.

    The agent did not try to justify it.

    1. @ Sarah

      A lot of the time, buyers are sold “1+den” units through the developer in pre-construction, so they feel they want to get their money’s worth when it comes time ro re-sell, and they insist their agent list it as a “1+den.”

      Once again, evil developers are to blame!!!

  8. Jonnatha Bravo says:

    You go on with your bad self, speak yo’ mind David, speak yo’ mind.

  9. moonbeam! says:

    The den that you showed in diagram #2 could be labelled an ‘office nook’, which would be handy to have i.e. desk, chair, diploma on wall – but it is not a den!

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