Are You Experienced?

View Other Posts | July 6, 2020


That’s as classic a piece of album-art as any, right?

The actual album had “Are You Experienced” written in purple bubble-letters, intended to be “psychedelic” in nature, but I prefer this image as it’s cleaner, and the eyes don’t get lost on the wording.

Look at the shirt that Jimi Hendrix is wearing.

See the eyes?  See the nose?  See the mouth?

Now imagine looking at this picture on four hits of acid?  I have to think that was the intention of this photo!

Whether it’s the hairstyles, the clothing, the colours, or the general vibe of this photo and the way it looks to be taken through a fisheye lens, everything about this photo just screams, 1960’s.

While some album art is intended to be understated, and is impossible to date (think: The Beatles’ “White Album”), I love the cover of “Are You Experienced” because in an instant, you know where you are, who’s singing, what the music is about, and it takes you back to that time period; socially, politically, and musically, all if you allow.

I’m one of those people who loves to try and decipher the meaning of lyrics, what the artist meant, or what the listener is supposed to hear.  This is one of those songs, to me.

My father always encouraged me to listen to the lyrics of songs when I was younger.  I remember driving to a sports-card show in the late-1980’s, and he put on a Rolling Stones song.  He said to my brother and I, “I’ll give you twenty dollars to spend at the card show if you can tell me who this song is about.”

I had no idea, until I heard the word “Lucifer.”

“The devil,” I told my father, almost toward the end of the song.  “He’s singing as though he’s the devil.”

Twenty bucks.  That was huge back then!

There were a lot of songs we heard, growing up, where my dad would say, “You can’t really understand this song unless you’re on drugs.”

That’s an interesting comment to make to a 9-year-old, but I understood.  Whether it was the lengthy instrumental section toward the end of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” or basically the entirety of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” I was made acutely aware of which songs necessitated drugs in order to gather their meaning, or simply hear them.

When Jimi Hendrix asks, “Are you experienced?” my father always told me that he was asking if you’ve ever tripped on acid.

Thirty years later, thanks to the Internet, we can simply Google this song title and read that while common perception was, in fact, that asking “Are you experienced?” was essentially a way of Jimi asking if a person had done drugs, he said on several occasions that it was more about “inner peace.”

Are You Experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?
Well, I have

Experience plays a huge role in our real estate market, whether buyers and sellers choose to acknowledge this, or not.

Whether I’m speaking to a potential buyer or a potential seller, I will always explain to them that no matter how I outline the ways in which I can help them, the skills and strengths that I possess, or the knowledge that I can share, much of what I do simply cannot be explained or quantified.

That sure makes it hard for a buyer or seller to take at face value, right?  “I have these magic beans, you see…”

The shame of it is – many buyers and sellers don’t understand the “experience” part of the skill-set until it’s too late.  Perhaps some of them will never know where their buyer or seller agent lacked experience, and how that cost them a sale, a purchase, or money on either side.  But as I’m sure you’re sitting here assuming, I’m about to tell you a story that puts experience on display.

Buyer agents: are you experienced?

You think you are.  It’s easy, right?  Find a buyer that will work with you, sell them a house.  Easy-peasy.

Last week, a colleague of mine, who we’ll call John-Michael, was presenting an offer on behalf of a buyer-client.

There were nine offers on this property.

Listed at $999,900, my colleague advised his buyer to “Take it right out of the gate,” which means to lead with your best foot forward, hold nothing back, and plan to win at the onset and avoid inviting a “second round” of bidding.

Cynics will read into this as, “You told him to over-bid.  Gotcha.”  But I would advise those cynics to keep an open mind here, for just a moment.

With nine offers, this house was going to $1.2M, no matter what.  It could go for more, it all depended on how the process played out.

Had John-Michael offered $1,150,000, and had their been another bid of $1,170,000, the listing agent could have elected to accept the $1,170,000, hence John-Michael’s offer would have lost.  The listing agent could have elected to “send both offers back,” in which case John-Michael’s client could have come up $20K, and still lost, had the other bidder increased his or her offer as well.

Bottom line: this was not our first rodeo.  We’ve been here before, and more to the point, John-Michael knew the listing agent, and how he ran his process.

An experienced buyer agent will always call the listing agent, at the very least, and ask, “How are you going to handle tonight’s offer process?”

Some listing agents beat around the bush.

“We run a fair process, you can be rest assured.”   That’s avoiding the question of exactly how offers will be reviewed and accepted.

We’ll see where the chips fall and then advise all the buyer agents.”  That’s non-committal, at best.

We look for an outright winner, but, ya know, we might work with two if they’re really close.”  That’s their way of being kind and telling you that you can win outright, but leaving the door open for that second round of bidding.”

We’ll probably give everybody a second chance to bid, no matter what.”  That’s possible, but I haven’t heard an agent say this in years.  What’s more, is that this simply encourages buyers to submit lower offers right out of the gate.

When John-Michael called the listing agent on the day of offers, the listing agent said, “We’ve got nine offers, I’m sure we can find one we like the most.”  He was essentially saying that they intended to work with the best offer.  But looking for more guidance, John-Michael, being the experienced agent that he is, called the listing agent three or four times before offers were reviewed, chipping away at him, trying to get him to commit to simply working with the best offer.

“My offer is going to blow you away,” John-Michael told the listing agent.  “We’re taking this thing down tonight.  No need to ask is if there’s more money, because there isn’t any.  You’re going to want to sign this right away, trust me.”

Confidence is great, when you have the money behind you.  In this case, John-Michael was the highest bidder out of the gates, but I’ve been in situations before where confidence buyer agents were in 9th place out of 15.

Believe it or not, my story today isn’t about John-Michael winning this process.  It’s not about asking John-Michael, “Are you experienced?” and having him answer in the affirmative.

This story is actually about an agent that is so goddam inexperienced, Jimi Hendrix himself would be ashamed.

Funny thing about the offer process on this house: the listing agent accidentally CC’d all the agents on an email, rather than BCC.

No big deal, right?

So what if the nine buyer agents making offers on this property know who else is offering.  As a listing agent, I always tell buyer agents who else is offering!  Why not?  If they hear a “strong name,” they might tell their clients to pony up more money.

The “offer instruction” email that is so common in our hot freehold market went out to agents around 6:30pm, specifying the number of offers, and when offers would be reviewed.

As I said, John-Michael’s bid of $1,200,000 won, right out of the gates.  No “second round.”

But it wasn’t until after John-Michael had won, and handed over the deposit cheque, that one of the other eight buyer agents decided to email the listing agent and CC all the agents!

I have the email.  And those that followed.  But as this event was happening, live, I was told, “David, please don’t share this on your blog.”

Okay.

I’ll paraphrase.

One of the eight other agent took it upon himself to email the listing agent, in the same thread from earlier in the day, with all the other agents, and air his sour grapes.

Something to the extent of:

“(Agent), I was really unhappy with how you handled this process tonight.  It was awful, and you should be ashamed.  My buyer would have gone $100,000 higher, as we had merely submitted a STARTING OFFER.  Our offer was only that low because it was a STARTING OFFER!  We were never asked to go higher.  You just never asked us.  Shame.  You didn’t do your job tonight.  You did a terrible disservice to your seller.

Yes, this was emailed to eight other agents who submitted offers on this house, and in all my years in the business, I’ve never seen anything like this.

But it didn’t end there, folks.

One of the other eight agents, came to the defence of the listing agent!  He emailed the group – the listing agent and eight agents, and essentially said:

“There was nothing wrong with how this was handled.  As a buyer agent, you should be the one asking the listing agent how he or she is handling and reviewing offers.  I always tell my clients to offer their best price and don’t assume there will be a second round.  We are in a very competitive market and this is the nature of the business.”

And good on him!

This was an agent who had no affiliation with the listing agent whatsoever, and represented a buyer who was not successful this evening, and he had the courtety to back the listing agent.

But guess what?

Mr. Inexperience couldn’t leave it alone.

I’ll spare you the details, but he emailed the entire group, again, and bitched and moaned some more.  Basically reiterating that he felt it was the listing agent’s job to call him and ask him how he would like offers to be reviewed.

As this was all going down, I was emailing the thread to a friend from another brokerage, while another agent I know was sending it to me.

This made the rounds in real estate circles, and a lot of agents reading this wish I would just share the full emails, but as I said, I was made to promise…

So what is the take-away here, other than gossip?

Quite simply, this: know your place.

Know where you are in the market.  Know who has the leverage.  Know what hands you have to play.

The bitching, emailing, loser agent didn’t know any of this.  He thought he had the ability to dictate the terms, when he had no leg to stand on.

There were nine offers on this house, and eight agents came in at their best price.  One agent decided he would come in $100,000 lower than his best price, why, I don’t know, and then work his way up.

Why?

Why did he do this?  Why did he think this would work?

A healthy combination of ego and inexperience, I do believe.

Last month, a client of mine who was looking to make his very first offer on a home (which happened to have eight offers on it…) told me, “I would want to offer around the list price, and then negotiate from there.”

I told him that this isn’t how our market worked, and that we didn’t have the luxury of dictating the terms.  There were eight offers on the house, and it was going to sell for $400,000 over list.  If we offered list, they wouldn’t even give our offer a second thought.  Even if I told them, “Hey, just to let you know, my client will probably come up in price,” they would likely still toss our offer on the floor.

I told my client, “You’re the submissive in all of this.  Accept it, and you can move forward.  Deny it, and you’ll never buy a home.”

The cynics and the bears hate reading this.  They think I’m just pushing, pushing, pushing.  But what do you want from me?  Should I lead my clients to nowhere-land?  Just advise them to make offers with a 0.00% chance of being successful?

Hate the game, not the player.  But don’t hate the game.  Accept it for what it is.  Learn it.  Master it.  And then play it, and win.

Mr. Inexperience in my story above decided that he had leverage, when he had none.  Less than none.  In those situations, you have to kiss the listing agent’s ass.  Call him or her over and over, build rapport, find common ground.  Look for a colleague that knows you both to put in a good word.  And above all, communicate.

What’s that line about assumptions?

No, not the one about making an “ass” of “u” and “me,” but rather the one from Under Siege 2?

 

Great movie, and better than the original Under Siege.

The inexperience on behalf of this listing agent, who told his client to bid $100,000 lower than the price he was willing to pay for the house, up against EIGHT other offers, was just absolutely, mind-numbingly stupid.

Are you experienced?

No.

Not in the slightest.

But the crazy thing is, I looked this agent up, and he’s been around.

So what does that mean?

I’ll tell ya – it means that true “experience” is not directly correlated with the number of years worked in the industry.  By definition, perhaps.  “Do you have any experience working the cash register?” you’re asked when you apply for your summer job as a 15-year-old.  If you’ve worked the register before, then voila!  You have experience.

But in the Toronto real estate market, “Are you experienced?” means something different.

This buyer agent with his $100K-under bid had to have been on drugs.  Drugs that would make Jimi Hendrix take a bad trip…

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39 Comments

  1. Libertarian

    at 10:11 am

    From what I’m told, the young generation refer to it as “read the room”.

  2. J G

    at 10:49 am

    Amazon has reached $3000!

    Coming out of the crash (a couple of months ago when it was around $2300), I posted it would hit 3k before 416 condo would recover to Feb high of $727k. Well, it wasn’t even close! 416 condo still at $666k.

    Sure, one can argue certain stocks are bubbly (Tesla 160% gain in 3 months!!), but that’s how you make money 🙂 Just some common sense, and a bit of hands-on experience.

    1. J G

      at 10:53 am

      Btw, Katherine Heigl was in that movie. She was young and cute.

    2. jeanmarc

      at 11:44 am

      TSLA is way way over valued. Car production is slightly lower compared to last year’s quarter. If there were a crash, it will get slammed first. For this stock to be valued more than Toyota, Disney or Coke is ridiculous.

    3. Crofty

      at 3:40 pm

      I’m not sure why many (most?) people think “investors” are so much smarter than “home buyers.” Apparently one group is wonderfully rational (despite buying stocks like crackheads during a still-raging global pandemic) and the other is a bunch of morons entering into stupid debt in order to buy somewhere to live (for perhaps decades). People are people, people! (shout out to Depeche Mode)

    4. J G

      at 4:19 pm

      I never said stock investors are smarter than RE investors. In fact, I have multiple investment properties myself.

      Yes I do brag about my FANG holdings, but the point is to counter the RE perma-bulls (*cough cough* Appraiser) who thinks RE is always better. Especially with young investors, it’s easy for them to get biased opinions.

      1. J G

        at 4:27 pm

        Also I’m of the opinion that buying freehold Primary Residence is almost always a good idea for a young person (assuming you have decent income and 20% down)

      2. Fearless Freep

        at 5:17 pm

        Except that touting the FANGs implies that piling into a handful of stocks is *better* than owning the market (i.e. index funds/ETFs). And unless I’m seriously misreading you, that appears to be your position, which I consider dangerously un-diversified. Guess I’m just an old fart.

        1. J G

          at 8:31 pm

          Well the same argument can be made for Toronto RE, which has been doing very well for past 15 -20 years. FAANG has been vastly outperforming the index in that period too.

          But past performance does not guarantee future returns right?

          1. Chris

            at 9:21 pm

            As Martin Pelletier put it, the USA has the NASDAQ and we up here in Canada have real estate.

            GTA RE looks like it re-attained or surpassing its February average price level in June, so tentatively, Thomas was correct. Though I suppose we should wait for the official TRREB release to be sure.

            Meanwhile, stock markets are on a tear, with the NASDAQ hitting an all time high (+27.84% year over year), and the S&P500 +6.33% year over year. Using VBAL.TO as a proxy for an average portfolio, it is +3.42% year over year. Despite the pandemic continuing to worsen globally.

            Don’t think anyone here would have predicted these outcomes. IMF sounds about right when they warn that there is a “disconnect” between the grim economic outlook in most countries and asset prices.

            What happens as government winds down programs like CERB and CEWS, mortgage deferrals end, the US Fed slows down QE, etc.? Or do these just all continue, and for how long? Nutty times indeed.

          2. Professional Shanker

            at 5:08 pm

            Still real early in the peak COVID game, like the 2nd or 3rd inning for assets….If you can’t see that, you are not “experienced” as David would say!

  3. Verbal Kint

    at 11:38 am

    I love how you can coast from “I’m representing a buyer in Collingood, does my navigation work up there?” to “rapport with the local players and experience in the local market is key.”

    And openly bragging about forwarding deal emails to your buddies for laughs may earn you the ‘experience’ of another paddling.

    1. Appraiser

      at 9:27 am

      So much sadness. Cheer up Verbie, the world doesn’t hate you.

      1. Thomas

        at 9:49 am

        What if Appraiser really was David! If not, I am sure Appraiser will take that as a complement

    2. David Fleming

      at 1:07 pm

      @ Verbal Kint

      My clients are my clients here in Toronto, ie. I sold them their condo, and will sell it when they buy in Collingwood. They are working with a Collingwood agent. I don’t sell real estate in Collingwood.

  4. Ed

    at 7:25 am

    TREB numbers are in, has the bet been won?
    Who had June?

    1. Appraiser

      at 7:38 am

      Not sure – depends which metrics you choose – but pretty impressive buy any measure.

      From todays TRREB Market Watch Report:

      “The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 8.2 per cent year-over-year in June. The average selling price for all home types combined was $930,869 – up by 11.9 per cent compared to Jun 2019. The actual and seasonally-adjusted average selling price was also up substantially compared t May 2020, by 7.8 per cent and 9.8 per cent respectively.

      Average and benchmark selling prices were up year-over-year for all major home types. The stronges average annual rates of price growth were experienced in the detached and semi-detached marke segments in the City of Toronto at 14.3 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.”

      Bears be ‘needin a little Viagra I suspect.

    2. Chris

      at 8:42 am

      Thomas won! He had June/July 2020.

      Yep appraiser, us housing bears be needin some viagara, just like you stock market bears.

      1. Appraiser

        at 9:16 am

        Unlike all segments of the real estate market – the Dow Jones is down 11% from February and the S&P 500 is down 6%…but thanks for playing along.

        1. Chris

          at 9:37 am

          “America’s stockmarket just had its best quarter in 20 years

          OF ALL THE outcomes that might accompany a global pandemic, a historic stockmarket boom seems among the least likely. And yet on June 30th the S&P 500, America’s main index, ended the second quarter up by 20% on its March 31st close, its strongest quarterly performance in more than two decades. The rally has puzzled investors. Since March 23rd, the market has soared by 39%, even as the country’s official covid-19 death toll has climbed to more than 127,000.”

          https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/07/01/americas-stockmarket-just-had-its-best-quarter-in-20-years

          As of this morning:

          NASDAQ +28.81% YoY
          S&P500 +6.39% YoY
          DJI -2.36% YoY

          What was your prediction about the stock market again @appraiser? Something about a bull trap? Thanks for playing along.

          1. Chris

            at 9:38 am

            Or sorry, was that a dead cat bounce, rather than a bull trap? I forget what you said.

        2. J G

          at 10:58 am

          What are you talking about Appraiser? 416 condo 727k in Feb, currently it’s 666k. Rent down 10%, condo investors are getting creamed.

          Did I tell you about my FAANG stocks? THOSE are outperforming all segment of Toronto Re

          1. Crofty

            at 11:33 am

            One slice of each market: one up, one down. Who cares???

          2. Chris

            at 11:43 am

            Appraiser claimed that “all segments of the real estate market” were up from February.

            J G has shown this to be incorrect.

      2. Thomas

        at 9:47 am

        Thanks! I will take the trophy 🙂 Looks like macro economics is more about understanding human emotions than statistics. That said, the average price is more misleading than ever now. There are some decent deals to be made in the higher end market and I see that happening (at least anecdotally). The % of sales for the higher priced homes should have seen an uptick.

        Now, let us wait see how the second part of my prediction will fare. I believe that the correction will happen closer to the beginning of next year and my bet is it will be slightly worse than the CMHC forecast.

        Honestly, the stock markets are more bonkers than RE, mostly thanks to the Fed and ‘new day traders’.

        1. Chris

          at 9:56 am

          Congrats Thomas, I thought your prediction was out to lunch at first, but clearly it wasn’t! Very curious to see if the second part of your prediction comes to fruition as well.

          Does sound like average price is being skewed upwards by composition change a bit, as it was pulled down by it before. Scott Ingram said he’s going to do some analysis on it, so I’ll wait to see what he finds.

          And agreed, stock markets seem even more distorted and irrational than RE.

        2. Bal

          at 10:09 am

          Thomas, I don’t see that….only higher interest rates will bring the house prices down….nothing else and I don’t see a bank of Canada ever moving interest rates higher…so this is the reality

          1. Thomas

            at 10:28 am

            Bal, I agree that public policies will be pivotal in how this plays out. There are some careful choices to be made because Canadian RE is too big to fail now. But it is a bit more than ‘interest rates’. Also, fear works both ways (not just FOMO)

          2. Professional Shanker

            at 5:17 pm

            Thomas – i think you hit the nail on the end, imagine the consequences if RE did have a 40% correction from here – can a gov’t remain in power presiding over this, rhetorical question of course.

            Imagine the purchase programs the gov’t would implement for the non performing loans.

            Can you share a bit more detail on how you envision a correction playing out?

  5. Appraiser

    at 8:08 am

    Bloomberg https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/toronto-housing-shrugs-off-pandemic-as-prices-smash-record-1.1461401

    “Toronto housing shrugs off pandemic as prices smash record”

    “The average selling price for all homes sold in the Greater Toronto Area climbed 11.9 per cent year-over-year in June to $930,869, according to data released Tuesday by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) . That exceeds the previous high of $920,791 that was logged in April 2017 amid bubble fears that were running rampant at the time and which prompted intervention by Ontario’s then-Liberal government.”

    1. Bal

      at 9:46 am

      Sad to see Chris losing the battle…..😒…i guess people in GTA has lots of money otherwise market should not be this crazy….

        1. Bal

          at 10:08 am

          As I said many time before….as long as interest rates are low….i don’t see prices coming down….interest rates are the key

          1. Bal

            at 10:12 am

            And the reason of stock marking going up…. everyone is investing in the stock these days….even people like me too…who don’t know even A, bc of the stocks…lollol

          2. Chris

            at 10:21 am

            Bal, I think it’s less to do with small retail investors piling into Hertz or Tesla through Robinhood, and more to do with record high levels of central bank stimulus.

            “For now, the worst-case scenario for the stock market seems to have been averted by monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve, but there are concerns that massive “money printing” could spur inflation.”

            https://www.fidelity.com/learning-center/trading-investing/markets-sectors/why-are-stocks-up

  6. Jennifer

    at 1:09 pm

    But isn’t this the problem:

    “Some listing agents beat around the bush.

    “We run a fair process, you can be rest assured.” That’s avoiding the question of exactly how offers will be reviewed and accepted. ” Etc.

    Do we know if the buying agent asked about the process and got a beat around the bush answer, or a more straightforward answer clearly saying they will do one round best offer? Or did the buying agent just assume there would be a second round?

  7. Chris

    at 4:12 pm

    “I’m seeing far too much confidence in housing as a result of the strong sales and prices we have been seeing the past six weeks. People are misreading the data. The booming housing market is not proof that even 14% unemployment can’t keep Toronto housing down.

    This is a short term demand shock that was caused by the housing market nearly shutting down for 2.5 months. Not unlike the demand shock that hair salons are experiencing today. Thousands of people need a haircut. Hair salons are booked till the end of August.

    It does not mean that this level of demand is typical for the hair salon business – it is a demand shock caused by COVID. The same is happening for housing and sooner rather than later, things will cool down in the housing market too. This is not the “new normal””

    – John Pasalis

    https://twitter.com/JohnPasalis/status/1280542954407505920

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