150 Day Closing?

Houses | February 10, 2011

I had an interesting experience on the weekend, and the whole thing went down in the good ole’ town of Pickering!

The entire day’s events were just draped in irony as the viewing, the offer, and the outcome were full of twists and turns…

Pickering, Ontario.

Established in 1974 and currently home to 100,000 people or more; this little town is where I spent last Saturday afternoon, looking at real estate.

My client, Roberta, had a very particular budget and some very particular needs!  After our initial conversation, I told her there was absolutely no way she could find what she was looking for in Toronto.  She agreed.

We considered Richmond Hill and Thornhill, but it became quite apparent that those two areas have seen significant appreciation in real estate and thus we were priced right out.

So I suggested to Roberta that we look 35 minutes east of the downtown core in jolly-ole Pickering!

She agreed.

You’d be amazed at how far your money goes in Pickering.  Absolutely amazed!

I spent Friday night showing 1-bedroom condos in downtown Toronto in the $330,000 range, and by Saturday morning, I was looking at 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom houses for $329,000.

Roberta is expecting twins at the end of June and thus our search is in full flight.  Ideally, we’d like to tie up a property in the next couple weeks, have a quick closing, and have Roberta’s family moved and settled with a few months to spare before the twins arrive.

Roberta is looking for a 3-bedroom house for under $350,000, but ideally it would be less than five years old.

There are other things on her “must have” and “nice to have” lists, but ideally they would all tie into the fact that the house is relatively new, and therefore the style fits with 2011, and there is little wear and tear with no need to renovate.

The first house we looked at did not fit the bill.  In fact, Roberta got there early enough to take a simple look from the outside and she called me to say, “Let’s skip this one.”

But the next two properties were amazing.

The first was a four bedroom, four bathroom house of about 2000 square feet with an unfinished basement, but consider that the “unfinished” basements in new homes in Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Hamilton, et al are all 8-9 feet in ceiling height and are basically ready to be drywalled and “finished.”  These aren’t your scary “dungeon” basements with 5’9″ ceilings like most old Toronto homes.

The house was priced at $397,000 and would probably cost about $1,100,000 for the exact same home in Leaside or Lawrence Park.

But the best part was the fact that there were no houses built behind this one!  Look out your back window and all you see is trees and snow!

Actually, we looked outside and saw a dozen kids playing in the snow and building forts, which only added to the growing allure of this area.

This home was actually more space than Roberta needed, so we moved on to a smaller home down the street.

This house was only a 3-bedroom and was priced significantly lower at $329,000.

It was perfect!

This house also backed onto an undeveloped, wooded area, and it was located at the end of the street on a circular court meaning no through traffic, and tons of space on the road for kids to play.

It took only a couple of hours for Roberta to call me back and say that she wanted to make an offer.


Except, only a few minutes before I received Roberta’s happy call, I received another call from the listing agent telling me that they had an offer on the property!

What gives?

Multiple offers in Pickering?

I thought we’d escaped all of this once we headed east of Markham Road!

I told Roberta not to worry since a Pickering-offer might not mean the same thing as a Toronto-offer.

This house was exceptionally well-priced (we did see two other homes and they only helped to justify our thinking that this $329,000 was low), and Roberta had no issues paying the asking price or perhaps a couple thousand dollars over just to ensure we got the property.

But an hour later, the listing agent called to tell me that they had received a third offer!

Seriously?  Three offers on a house in Pickering?

Perhaps it truly was under-priced!  How else can you explain the incredible reaction to this property at this price?

I drafted our offer later that afternoon and sent it to Roberta to sign, but alas, she was stuck in a snowy traffic jam and didn’t get home until 7PM!

The listing agent was breathing down my neck and literally called me every five minutes for an hour.  I think I answered the phone once…

We finally got the offer signed and sent to the listing agent for review, and and a half-hour later, the listing agent called me to provide the good news.

“David,” she began, “Congratulations!  Your offer is the highest.  It was so great!  Thank you so much and great work, David!  Great!”

Yes, great.   Except for…

“But just one thing, David, you’ll need to change your March 5th closing date.”

Really?  Okay, that’s not a major issue, right?  What’s a few paltry days?  Maybe the sellers have a specific day in mind.  That’s a concession we can certainly make, even though we had the highest offer and we were the only one of the three that were unconditional.

“What date are they looking for?” I asked, with the answer she was about to provide not even remotely present in my mind.

“June twenty-ninth,” she said.

I almost dropped my luke-warm glass of exceptionally cheap Yellow Tail Shiraz right then and there.

“June twenty-ninth?”  I asked.  “You have GOT to be kidding!”

“No, David, I don’t kid.  We need the twenty-ninth of June.  That would be great.”

I told her that this was not “great,” and in fact, was terrible.

The listing said 60-90/TBA, and nowhere did it mention: “Sellers request ridiculously long, unusual, and borderline unreasonable 150 day closing.”  Trust me – I checked the listing to try and find that note!

I told the listing agent that my client was having twins at the end of June, and she paused, thought about it, and I’m pretty sure she was about to suggest “Well maybe she can just have them earlier,” but I suspect she thought better of it.

I asked if we could split the difference and call it April 15th, which still wasn’t ideal for my clients, but she said, “They can’t do a single day before the twenty-ninth of June.”

I was frustrated at this point and told her that her request was absolutely ridiculous and that nobody would accommodate this.

And that’s when she got the better of me and said, “Well, David, the other buyer’s agent sitting in my clients’ living room would beg to differ.”


And that’s when the Pickering agent put the Toronto agent in his place, and the phone call promptly ended.

One of the competing buyers was able to accommodate the June 29th closing date, and the house was sold.

My client wasn’t upset, just disappointed.

The house was “perfect,” but the situation was not.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why a seller looking for a June 29th closing would list his or her property at the end of January.  Most closings are 60 days, and 30-90 is the standard.

In the past couple years, I’ve seen far more 30 day closings than 90-days, and the longest I’ve had is barely 90 during that time.

A 150 day closing is insane, if you ask me, but somebody wanted the house bad enough to go for it.

Well, I’ve got a nice little Saturday planned – I’ll be back in Pickering!

I’ll be at the Tim Horton’s on Whites Road around 11:00AM if anybody wants to visit.  They’ve got wi-fi, right?

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  1. Ian C

    at 7:40 am

    June? June?? June!!!

    I’d say the caterers screwed up. It caused the same delay for George Constanza’s wedding and he was thrilled.

    A bit sneaky on the seller’s part – I figure they wanted to keep the kids in school but know that many people would not even consider an offer if they were aware that the house was barely on the market…

  2. Geoff

    at 8:26 am

    There’s no way Pickering is 35 minutes from the downtown core except by rocketsled or at 1am on a Sunday morning.

  3. Colin

    at 9:50 am

    I shouted out loud when I read “June twenty-ninth” and then proceeded to read the rest of the post.

    Guess this is the case of let’s pretend to be flexible when we are completely inflexible.

  4. LC

    at 12:15 pm

    June 29th is probably when their mortgage is up and didn’t want to pay any penalties. I’ve seen it before.

    Who knows where the market will be in 150 days? That’s a lot of time what with mortgage rules changing and interest rates likely to rise….it’s probably a blessing in disguise for your client as she’ll probably find a better deal within 150 days.

  5. kevin

    at 12:33 pm

    you sound like you’re ready for the ‘burbs! there really is a lot going for it from a standard of living for your dollar stand point.

    and pickering *is* 35 minutes to downtown. it’s called the GO train. no traffic, 6 bucks, no parking, drops you at union.

    why did i move to bloor west village again? 😉

  6. David Fleming

    at 12:43 pm

    @ Geoff

    I left on Saturday morning from King/Sherbourne and I was in Pickering within 35 minutes.

    Don’t forget – I got rid of the PT Cruiser last week and I’m now back in the BATMOBILE where I belong!

  7. Spose

    at 1:55 pm

    On a Saturday, Pickering is most definitely a 30-40 min drive….on weekdays, it’s a 25 min Go-Train ride. I’ve spent more time than that on the TTC getting to work.

    Just guessing here -but I bet the seller had an absolutely brilliant (in their mind) idea of listing now, when there are few listings in hopes of benefiting from a lack of competition. Generally not how it works -there are also fewer buyers. When I bought my place, I thought I could also take advantage of suboptimal timing, buy in the winter and get a good deal (afterall, who lists in the winter unless they HAVE to sell?) -in reality, there were so few listings that I waited until spring to buy because I was sure there would be much better choices and there were.

  8. WEB

    at 7:31 pm

    I bought a house in July 2009 and was able to negotiate a very good price in a private transaction. The only stipulation was that the seller wanted a flexible closing date. I bought it in July and the contract said it could close as late as March, 2010. It was the seller’s decision when the closing would ultimately be but I was to have 2 months notice. I agreed to the condition because I got a good price on the home and I was renting and had the flexibility built into my lease agreement to move at any time. It was also the perfect house for me. Plus, it was my understanding that even though the closing could be as late as 9 months, it would likely be 3-4 months (the seller was renovating a condo and wanted flexibility in case the renovations didn’t go as planned.)

    Anyhow, about 6 months later the seller requested that I extend the closing another year! (She decided she didn’t like the condo she bought and ended up buying another one in the Four Seasons. But the Four Seasons wouldn’t be ready for another year. ) I said I could give her another 3-4 months max but then she’d have to give me some compensation. She thought I was greedy and nuts to ask for any compensation. I then researched the Four Seasons and found out it wouldn’t be ready for another 2 years! So she would have come back to me the following year with yet another request to extend the closing!

    Anhow, I bought the house in July, 2009 and the seller thought it was a perfectly reasonable request to ask for a closing date of March, 2012! I”m not making this up! Welcome to the joys of a private deal! Anyhow, I ended up closing in May, 2010 (gave her 2 extra months.) In my view it turned out fine because I got the place well below market value and a house that was absolutely perfect for me.

  9. jeff316

    at 9:25 am

    If that was the realtor’s idea then good for her. Very smart of them to list now and pull that closing trick at the end. As a former first-time buyer, I would have agreed to it after falling for the house if I were renting and had no kids on the way.

  10. Geoff

    at 9:29 am

    I’m not saying that the Go Train isn’t technically a 35 minute commute to union station. But (a) there’s more to commuting time than the time spent on the train and (b) there’s more to downtown than union.

    I’m not exactly speaking from a lack of experience here — You have to factor in travel time to the Go station, then finding a parking spot, then waiting for the train, then riding on the train, and then getting into union station, and then marching along to the subway, and then going on that another 20 minutes. That last 20 minutes may be optional admittedly.

    In other words, I really would like Spose to document the time he leaves his house and the time he arrives at the office. If that equals 35 minutes, I will sincerely apologize.

  11. jeff316

    at 5:08 pm

    Agreed with the other Geoff. The commute to the train and from the train to work can make a 35, 45, or 55 minute train ride into a 75, 85 or hour and a half commute depending on your circumstances. (And that’s not considering track and train problems.)

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