How NOT To Sell A Million-Dollar Condo

Condos | March 31, 2010

Constantly amazed; never surprised.

I see all kinds of crazy things in this business, but after showing six million-dollar condos today and having four “stories” to tell, I’m shocked at the awful condition some of these units are in, and the awful experience that the sellers and agents created for me and my buyer-client.

Who ever said that selling a million-dollar condo was supposed to be easy anyways?


Step One: List property on MLS
Step Two: Hire moving van for all the bags full of money.

That’s what a lot of people think is involved in selling a property in Toronto.

Seriously; the sense of entitlement among sellers is unbelievable.  So many sellers think that they are doing us a favor by allowing us the opportunity to purchase their property.

On Tuesday afternoon, I took a new client out to see a handful of condos priced between $1.0 -$1.6 Million, and the experience was entertaining, but not very productive.

Brian came in from Paris and is on his way to Bahamas, via Toronto.

He’s looking for a temporary family home in Toronto, but one with very, very little upkeep.  He decided that a luxury condominium would suit his needs best, and thus we embarked upon a three-hour journey through the downtown core.

It should be noted, however, that “expensive” does not always mean “luxury.”

I can’t divulge the names of these condos, but perhaps you can use your imagination…

Experience #1

We saw two units in the same building on University Avenue, which just happened to be side-by-side.  Imagine listing your $1,000,000 condo for sale and having your next door neighbour list his the very next day!  Thankfully there are no fences in condos…

While in the lobby, the concierge noticed a man getting off the elevator and asked him, “Daniel – are your parents still home?”  He said that they were, and the concierge instructed me that I could just go directly to the door of the unit and knock, since that was the owners’ son.


This man was about 40 years old.  I guess it takes all kinds, but I hope that my kid is moved out by the time he’s 40…

We went through the first unit, and it was fine and dandy.

So we knocked on the door of the second unit, expecting to find “Daniel’s” parents, but nobody answered the door.  We waited a couple of minutes, knocked again, but it was to no avail.  Nobody came to the door, and we left the building.

A half hour later, I received a call from the listing agent who asked how the showing went.  I informed her that we weren’t able to gain access to the unit because nobody was home.

Her answer?  “Just go back; try again!”

I explained to her that my client was in town from Paris for one day and our time was at a premium.  She yelled at me and said, “Do you want me to roll out the red carpet?  I’m sooooo sorry that nobody was home to let you in at the exact time that you wanted!  All you have to do is go back right now – they’re home!”

She missed the point entirely.

This wasn’t a $269,000 condo that was going to get ten offers.  This was a $1,000,000 condo where the identical condo next door was for sale.

The listing agent (and the sellers) should make it as easy and convenient as possible for agents to show the unit.  There should be a key at concierge, much like the unit next door, and if the instructions are “go direct,” then the sellers should be home.

Experience #2

Brian and I continued on our merry way to the beautiful Toronto waterfront where we were met by the listing agent for a $1.4 Million condo.

Rather than simply hand us the key, she walked us through the lobby, into the elevator, and into the unit.  The whole way, she “warned” us about the condition of the condo.

Apparently, there is a tenant who does not believe in cleanliness…..among other things, like bathing or distinguishing between garbage and not garbage.

I found this to be rather remarkable, given that the condo was probably renting for between $6,000 – $8,000 per month.

The unit was absolutely disgusting.  The listing agent told me, “Don’t worry, you can leave your shoes on,” and I actually thought about putting on a second pair just to protect the ones I was wearing…

In the kitchen, there were three open boxes of cereal on the counter, which had dishes covering the island.

There were clothes on every item of furniture, and clothing was covering every single inch of the banisters – amazing considering there is a novel invention called a “dryer” only feet away!

I counted about forty empty wine bottles on the living room floor, which was completely scratched and needed to be replaced.

But the best part about this $1.4 Million condo was the dog sh!t in the middle of the living room floor.  That’s right – the dog is house trained, but the owners allow him to live his life the way he wants to.

I tried to ignore the dirty dishes IN the king-sized bed in the master, but I couldn’t.

I wanted to look past the cigarette burns on the carpet next to the bed, but I wasn’t able to.

This was the worst $1.4 Million “luxury” condo I had ever seen.

Well, at least Brian admitted that the issues were “all aesthetic.”

Experience #3

This one takes the cake.

Well, if the police interviewed me, I wouldn’t have admitted to taking anything, let alone cake!

We arrived at what I predicted would be “the best condo of the day,” and while it wasn’t the best condo, it was definitely the best story for Brian to tell to his buddies while skiing next weekend.

The concierge, wait, the three guys at concierge, allowed us to go up to the unit after signing three separate logs, sign-in sheets, and waivers, and gave us the key.

About one second into the unit, I heard that sound that no agent (or burglar) likes to hear: “Beeeeeeeeeep.”

There was a security system.

I hadn’t been notified, let alone given a code.

I felt like Jeff Bridges in Speed right before the big bomb goes off, and sure enough, the alarm started blaring and we ran out of the unit.

We went downstairs and told the three guys at concierge, and in their crowded little cage, they bumped into eachother like Curly, Larry, and Moe.

Their brilliant suggestion: go upstairs and try again.

So we did!

We went back upstairs, and upon getting off the elevator we realized that the alarm was no longer ringing.


Except when we went back into the unit, the alarm set off once again.  This time, Brian said, “Screw it,” and plugged his ears and went through the unit as quick as he could.

The listing agent called me, and she had no clue there was an alarm system.

I was amused that her questions had little to do with the alarm which was still going off and the police which were on their way, and more to do with whether or not we liked the unit.  I told her that in the ten seconds that we were inside, it was tough to really gauge whether or not we were ready to plunk down $1.6M.

She sounded like she was ready to cry and explained that her seller is “really difficult” and only allows about one out of every six requests for showings.  We only got in to see the unit because the seller had gone away for three days.

Yeah, that’s a great way to sell a $1.6 Million condo!  Only allow showings when they are convenient to the seller, and when the seller leaves, make sure to set the security alarm and don’t give anybody the code!

Experience #4

This one needs very little explanation – the condo was priced at $1.4 Million, and the listing said, “Includes $540,000 worth of furniture.”

Brian has furnished several luxury houses and condos around the world, and he estimated that the furniture was probably worth about $180,000.

So here’s a $900,000 Yorkville condo with some used furniture, and the seller is trying to flip it for triple its value.


Here’s an idea: try selling the condo on its own!  Maybe there’s a reason it’s been on the market for so long…

All in all, it was an…..interesting day, to say the least.

I can’t believe how many million-dollar condos are sitting on the market while the sellers and/or the agents do nothing to actively promote a sale.

You can’t just throw the listing on MLS and expect that time will sell your million-dollar condo.

Dog crap and alarms don’t help either…

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  1. George

    at 10:23 pm

    These were extreme examples, but as a buyer, I would actually enjoy a bad selling presentation if only because it would probably turn off some of the competition. If a place is staged perfectly, I know it will be selling at the peak of its value.

    Of course, wasting someone’s time is an entirely different matter. That’s just rude and antagonizing.

  2. earth mother

    at 11:09 am

    Never a dull moment when you’re dealing with people… at least you get material for your blog!! I guess your buyer was not impressed!!

  3. Amit

    at 11:42 pm

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.Any way Ill be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon

  4. Lauren

    at 2:07 pm

    Jeff Bridges was in Speed? Are you sure you’re not thinking of Keanu?

  5. David Fleming

    at 2:22 pm

    @ Lauren,

    Yes, Jeff Bridges played Keanu’s partner, “Harry.” He got blown up when he went into the house that Dennis Hopper’s character had booby-trapped.

    I had the movie on Laser Disc while growing up, so I’m basically an expert…

  6. David Fleming

    at 3:09 pm

    @ Lauren

    Dammit! I meant Jeff DANIELS! You’re too smart…

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