Because it shouldn’t be!
It’s not a new concept, and yet at each and every turn, I’m seeing crazy things happening in the world of bully offers.
Let me describe a few interactions I had over the past two weeks with agents who wanted to submit bully offers on my listings, and explain why I think the bar among agents has seriously never been lower…
“I feel bad for these people.”
That’s what I told a colleague last week, in response to some of the terrible offers I’ve seen on my listings, in competiton.
You have a listing at $600,000, that sells for $700,000 with a dozen offers.
Who is the buyer submitting a conditional offer, with no deposit cheque, for $600,000?
Sure, the buyer might be clueless. But it’s the buyer agent that has to bear the responsibilty for the cluelessness.
There are 50,000 licensed Realtors in the GTA, and many of them have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. And what’s worse, is that they get hired! These agents have clients! And these clients put their trust and their faith in their agent to help guide them through the biggest purchase decision they’ll ever make, when all the while, the agent has no idea what he or she is doing.
When it comes to multiple offer situations, I’m seeing crazy things.
But when it comes to bully offers, it’s even worse.
Last week, and agent called me about making a bully offer on one of my listings, and I told her what I tell every agent who asks that question:
“Our intention is to wait until our scheduled offer date, but I can’t stop a buyer-agent from sending a bully offer.”
It’s honest, and to the point. And it’s accurate. Nobody can stop a buyer agent from drafting a bully offer and sending it over, so I’m just providing the most basic explanation possible.
I can’t answer whether or not my sellers would accept a bully offer, or what price they’d accept.
But it doesn’t stop agents from calling and asking!
So we received the “bully” offer, which wasn’t really a bully.
There’s this saying with bully offers, “To be a bully, you need to punch, not push.” So when I get a bully offer for 4% over the list price, it’s barely a nudge.
I told the buyer agent that we were flattered by the offer, and we were grateful, but that we were going to wait until our scheduled offer date.
That’s when something odd happened. She replied, “Okay, but you’re doing offers any time now, correct?”
It made no sense.
I said, “No, we’re doing offers next Thursday at 7:00pm, as per the listing.”
She said, “Yes, that was the case before. But we made our offer and you turned it down. So now the door is open for offers, I take it?”
It made absolutely, positively no sense.
And this wasn’t the case of a language barrier, as is so often the case. This was just somebody who didn’t understand the terminology, and who didn’t understand the process.
She further explained, “If we make our offer and you look at it, then you don’t have an offer date anymore. That’s out the window.”
It was like the jury leading the cross-examination, of the judge. It was just non-sensical.
Not really understanding any of what she meant, I just sort of trailed off, and tried to end the call. I never heard back from her.
Later in the week, I got a call from a young agent who started the conversation by saying, “I’m new to the business,” which is probably the single-worst thing you could say to a competing agent.
He then said, “I don’t really know what I’m doing,” and I realized that is actually the single-worst thing you can say to a competing agent, and “I’m new to the business” is a distant second.
After explaining that his client saw the property and really liked it, he asked me, verbatim, “How do I do a bully?”
And this was around the same time that this was happening:
Tell me you saw this!
I’m straying way off topic here, but I spent all week laughing at these Zuckerberg/Congress memes.
I’d lay in bed at night reading them on my phone, laughing so hard I woke up my wife.
The idea that these old men who probably have a computer password that’s “1234” or “password” are grilling one of the foremost Internet experts in the world, is hilarious.
Again, very off topic here, but let me share my other favourites, and then I’ll get back on point…
Okay, okay, I know I have to stop or I’ll do this all day.
But honestly, wasn’t that a riot?
Back to the agent who asked me, “How do I do a bully,” and let be honest and say that part of me thought he was kidding. Except since he opened with “I’m new,” and “I really don’t know what I’m doing,” it was obvious that he really was asking me how to do his job, and guaranteeing his place on my blog in the process.
I told him, “You’d put an offer together, and send it over,” very simply.
He asked, “What would that offer look like?”
I said, “That’s up to you and your buyer.”
“Right,” he said. “So I’d probably have to chat with him first.”
Just, wow. I could feel the wheel spinning in his head.
He then asked, “Do you mind if I ask you to speak to your seller first?” I asked him, “About what?” and he said, “About the price. What price your seller would accept, so then I could tell my buyer, and he could decide whether to do the bully.”
I told him, “That’s not really how it works,” and he just said, “Oh, oh….okay. I got it.”
I actually felt kind of bad.
“So maybe then, maybe I’ll just talk to him, and see what he wants to do? Like what price, and what closing, and what conditions and that sort of thing?”
I didn’t stop him here, by the way. About the “conditions,” that is. Although we would never accept a conditional offer, especially not with a bully offer, it’s not my job to tell him how to do his. It’s not my place to tell him, “We wouldn’t accept a conditional offer,” because at the end of the day, we’ll be happy to review as many offers as are registered, and theoretically the more that are registered, the higher the sale price.
I know many of you hate that, and I’d feel the same way in your position. But what am I supposed to do here? Should I educate this young, naive, inexperienced agent, and cost my seller money in the process? Or maybe that agent should have signed on with a full-service brokerage that runs a training course for new agents?
The next interaction I had with a bully-agent was the strangest.
This agent called me no less than seven times betwen 8pm and 10pm, each time asking me a question she should know the answer to.
The worst question an agent can ask: “What is your email address?”
It drives me nuts.
It’s on the goddam listing. Every listing. Every time.
But more to the point, she asked me about the closing date (on the listing), what’s included in the sale (on the listing), whether she needs a Form 801 (all offers need this), etc. And every question was in a subsequent phone call.
She called me at 10:25pm and said, “We need your sellers to look at this tonight.”
I simply told her, “It’s 10:25pm.”
She said, “Yes.”
There was a language barrier, to be fair. But time comes in only one language. When she said, “We have an 11pm irrevocable,” I simply said, “I’m going to bed in ten minutes.”
I wasn’t going to bed, for what it’s worth. But I wanted her to realize that providing an offer with a 35-minute irrevocable, after 10pm, wasn’t reasonable.
She said, “Okay, okay. One more question: the offer – can it be the listing price?”
I just about lost my mind.
I asked her what I thought was a rhetorical question: “Do you think that my sellers, after having 20-plus showings booked in the first two days of the listing, will forego the rest of the week’s showings, the weekend open house, and the scheduled offer night, to accept an offer of the list price?”
She simply said, “Yes, the list price.”
Again, language barrier and all, but come on, folks. How in the world do these people have clients?
The next morning, I woke up to her email from about 12:15am, with a 28 MB file. She had taken photographs of each page of the offer and somehow put them together in a PDF. That was only half the offer, however. The second half came in another 25 MB file.
The offer was just over the list price, and once again, I thanked her for her time and told her we’d be waiting until our scheduled offer night.
Last but not least, I received another bully offer from an agent who, after I told him we’d be waiting until our offer night, said, “Why don’t you get me a sign-back?”
What did he think? That we were going to start negotiating?
Forget about the fact that in order to work with a bully offer, I’d have to call every agent who booked a showing on the property to tell them there was an offer, that we would be working with it, and when the offer would expire (or at what time we’d be looking at the offer).
Surely this agent knew that:
a) It’s a seller’s market here (for a downtown condo)
b) Ten offers are better than one, ie. his
c) We had all the leverage
Kudos to him for trying, but I don’t think this was some sort of evil genius, trying to get us into a sign-back-and-forth. I think he just didn’t know how bully offers work, like everybody else from today’s story.
You don’t sign back a bully offer. You could, theoretically. But again, if you’re doing things right – you’re calling ALL the agents who have shown the property to let them know. If you sign back that offer, and it’s accepted, you’ve broken the rules, and those other agents who you didn’t call will have your blood.
Last week’s bully offer experiences weren’t all bad, however.
On Friday night, I received a bully offer in the way that it’s supposed to be done: sneak attack.
At 6:30pm, I received an email with a bully offer at a very good price, from an agent who didn’t call me in advance to ask me if he could send it. He just drafted it, had it signed, and sent it.
That is how a bully offer should be sent.
Don’t call the listing agent and ask for permission! The whole purpose of a bully is to back somebody into a corner. If you ask the listing agent “Can I send you a bully offer?” he can say “No.” Then what do you do?
If you’re going to do it, the best way is to just do it.
In this case, once again, we elected to wait until the offer night. So far this year, and this is probably another blog topic, all of the bully offers my sellers have turned down have been beaten on offer night. In fact, the more I read through this post, the more I realize that this topic of bully offers is something we’ll come back to later this week, or the next.
So what’s the conclusion to today’s blog?
That I’m rude to other agents?
That I’m calling out the poor behaviour of my industry “colleagues” once again?
I’m not sure, you’re free to opine as you see fit.
But as I said at the onset, I feel bad for a lot of these buyers who get absolutely awful advice and representation.
I actually thought about writing a blog called, “The Bar Has Never Been Lower,” and just hammering away on this topic, but I don’t know where that gets us. I’ve just never seen this level of cluelessness among buyer agents, and every time my phone rang, or my email buzzed last week, it was another agent with idea what he or she was doing.
This epidemic plays out in its worst form on “offer night,” when there is competition, and by association, during the attempts at making bully offers…