LIVE Theatre At My Doorstep…

Business | August 28, 2009

It’s Thursday night at 7:42PM and I’m sitting at my desk at 290 Merton Street, watching “the show.”

This show is exciting, and with my feet firmly planted up on my desk, I’m taking extreme pleasure in watching the jubilation and sorrow of those around me.

What am I watching?  How about twenty-two agents presenting offers on the same condo…


It’s not that I’m bored or have nothing better to do, and it’s not that I get my jollies out of watching the saddened faces of twenty-one of my industry colleagues either.

Well, maybe that last part is a lie…

When this un-named condo came out on Monday afternoon at $319,900, I looked at it twice, and then a third and fourth time.

A 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condo of about 850 square feet WITH parking and locker for $319,900.

The location: just around the corner from Yonge & Bloor.

I’ve been dealing with my own fair-share of disappointments lately as multiple offers are common place, and while I’ve been “winning” more than I’ve been losing, it’s still a frustrating process.

This time around, I was very, VERY happy that my client decided against putting in an offer on the property as I feared being the twenty-second disappointed agent.

My client, Laura, has been looking for a condo in my own backyard – the St. Lawrence Market neighborhood.  She started by looking for a 1-bedroom with parking in the $270,000 range, but as those options are few and far between, she expanded her search to include 2-bedroom properties for $350,000 with the idea of taking on a roommate to help carry the cost.

We looked at a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom at 230 King Street for $380,000, but the layout was poor and the unit was in awful condition, so we passed.

We looked at a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom at 109 Front Street for $324,900, thinking that the price was “too good to be true,” and in fact, it was, since the unit was a time warp into the 1960’s (an incredible feat by the owner since the building is only ten years old…) and the second bedroom wasn’t big enough for a single bed.

So when this 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom unit came out at Yonge & Bloor for $319,900, I forwarded the listing to Laura and told her that while the area wasn’t what she was looking for, the price dictated that she simply must see it.

The unit did not disappoint, as it was completely renovated from head to toe, but the price worried me since I knew it simply wouldn’t sell for $319,900.

On the way over, I called my colleague who I’ll just refer to as “Julian,” and asked him how he priced the unit.  I asked him if he was intending to induce a bidding war, and if he thought this was a $350,000 unit.

He told me that the comparable sales and the history of the building indicated that it was worth $319,900, and he priced it as such.

I went ahead and told my clients that this unit was a “$340,000 – $345,000 unit despite the list price,” and we proceeded accordingly.

We arrived at the building to find a lineup of agents in the hallway, and there must have been 3-4 groups inside the unit itself.

While Laura liked the unit and couldn’t find anything negative to say about it, she decided that she still had her heart set on the St. Lawrence Market area, and perhaps she could pony up with the extra $20,000 to move into the $370,000 range where she’d undoubtedly find a gorgeous 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom unit.

Fast forward to Thursday afternoon, and I arrived at my office late in the day at about 4PM.  I asked Julian, “So how many offers ‘ya got so far,” and his face told me the whole story.  He looked like he’d been up all night studying for a mid-term (or partying at frosh week…), and muttered, “Uhh….tt….twelve?”

I couldn’t believe it!

I felt somewhat vindicated, since I clearly knew the price was below market value, but I also felt fortunate that my client didn’t get involved in this mess!

So I sat down at my desk, in my Friday shorts and t-shirt, and sank into my cushy chair as I drank my Tim Horton’s coffee and tried not to pay any attention to the hubbub going on behind me.

My desk is located in the “lower level” of 290 Merton Street, and whereas the other two floors are home to about 20-25 agents each, my floor is home to only six or five if you don’t count the girl who has yet to realize that she doesn’t work here…

So behind me is a large, empty space where our meetings take place, and where cooperating agents sit idly by as they wait their turn to present their offers during multiples.

And tonight, I sat at my desk listening to Metric and bouncing around in my chair; light as a feather, as these tense agents came in one at a time and waited their turn to enter the conference room and plead their clients’ respective cases.

Out of the twenty-two offers, I believe about ten were faxed in.  Personally, I don’t see any point in presenting an offer in person when there are twenty-two offers.  The highest offer is going to get it, and the only advantage to presenting in person is to make a more appealing case for your clients IF there are only 2-3 offers and you’ve got a shot at playing the personality card.

In every bushel of apples, there’s always a rotten one, and Julian showed me one of the offers which was an absolute embarrassment as it would have served as a great “find at least ten mistakes” portion of a real estate exam.  The offer date was tomorrow, the irrevocable date was yesterday, the price in words didn’t match the price in numbers, there was no legal description of the property, no inclusions/exclusions were listed despite their presence on the MLS listing, and yet there were three full pages of standard terms and clauses!

Julian was running out of steam, and he hadn’t even started presentations yet!

Then, there was the agent who called Julian every ten minutes to ask, “How many offers are there?”  He also asked Julian 5-6 questions that could have been answered by simply reading the MLS listing, but Julian doesn’t take any crap and simply said, “Do your own goddam job,” and hung up the phone.

Offer presentations began at 6PM, and they sure didn’t take very long!

Julian is a very smart, very skilled, and very experienced agent, and rather than allow each cooperating agent to blather on and on about their offers, he gave them about two minutes each and probably just highlighted the price and the conditions.

You could have installed a revolving door in that conference room and it wouldn’t have sped up the proceedings!

Agent, after agent, after agent came and sat down in the lower level and waited their turn, and I pretended not to listen to the small talk that they made with eachother.  I mean, what do you say to somebody who you’re trying to beat?  It’s like sitting in a foxhole with a member of the other army and being expected to wish them “good luck.”

One agent paced back and forth on the carpet until he wore holes in it, and talked on his cell phone (presumably to his wife – pick up milk, eggs, etc.) despite the presence of four other people there with him.  After this agent presented his offer, Julian told me, “My GOD I hope somebody beats his offer because I really don’t want him to get this place.  He’s such a pompous ass!”

I felt bad for this small squadron of agents and their collective, futile attempts, since only one of them would take home the prize.

The crazy part is – the sellers accepted an offer that was the second lowest because it had no financing clause, and the one they turned down was actually so ridiculously high that they worried the mortgage appraiser wouldn’t give the unit a value anywhere close to the purchase price!

Let’s just say that my original price prediction was about $30,000 lower than this “ridiculous” offer, and the final sale price was still much higher than I would have advised my client to pay.

Now, close to 8PM on Thursday night, only one of those original twenty-two agents is going home happy, and for each unsatisfied agent there is also 1-2 unhappy clients.

The sellers, on the other hand, should have popped a cork on a very pricey bottle of champagne!  They got about $50,000 more than they ever thought they would for their condo, and had to be reassured by Julian that yes, this was actually happening!

The whole process only took the sellers two hours, but it took Julian all day.  And had this not been Julian dealing with offers and some other agent instead, the twenty-two offers in two-hours would have been more like five hours – no word of a lie.

I’m packing up my stuff now and heading home.

It was a very entertaining two hours, and this “show” had all the essential elements of any good movie – drama, heartbreak, angst, sorrow, conflict, jubilation, and maybe even some sex….although I can’t be certain…

That’s just another reason why I love real estate; there’s never a dull moment, and it always makes for a good story, or even a good show…

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  1. Gerrit

    at 12:33 pm

    There’s a big flaw when agents only look at comparable prices from the same building – one person sells their place too cheap and everyone feels they have to follow suit. There should be a better standard to set your prices at.

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