Personal Touch


4 minute read

April 7, 2009

Tell me a little bit about your clients….

We used to hear this all the time, but nowadays, nobody really cares who is buying their house – they just care how much they’re willing to pay.

But sometimes, the personal touch makes all the difference…


We went from caring, to not caring, and back to caring again…

Before the bull market of the last half-decade, it was very common for buyers and sellers to meet-and-greet during the offer process, or at the very least for the buyer agent to speak of his clients and who they were.

A house is also a home, and for people that lived there for ten years, perhaps they’d like to meet and get to know the buyers who would continue to breathe life into the home.

Then along came the bull-market where sellers dealt with eight offers on their home and the buyers were just blank-faces with dollar-figures attached to them.

Who was buying their house didn’t matter at all.  It only mattered how much they were willing to pay.  Nobody cared to know if the buyers were newly-married or expecting their first child.

Would this really make any difference when three or ten other buyers were competing against them?

Since the market has fallen off in the last twelve months, I’ve started to see that personal touch come back into play in the negotiations process.  When a condominium or a house has been sitting on the market for six weeks, it might be worth a shot for the buyer’s agent to promote the buyers as people and try and show how they are the “right” people for the property.  Appealing to the seller’s sensitive, human side might produce a favorable result…

But even before the market fell off, I was always a fan of this tactic.

Two years ago, I was “condo-shopping” with my brother and his fiancee.

We looked in different areas, neighborhoods, and buildings, and examined different layouts, sizes, and styles.  We spent four consecutive weekends looking at 6-8 condos per day getting familiar with prices and areas of the city and then one day something special came onto the market.

They literally “fell in love” with this condo at 168 King Street East in the St. Lawrence Market neighborhood, and just had to have it.

At the time, this was probably the among the hottest five buildings in the downtown core.

One thing you can say about Nick & Leslie – they certainly have impeccable taste!

The condo was listed at $299,000, but this was back when listing prices were almost irrelevant.  When you consider that the 585 square foot, 1-bedroom condo next door sold for $294,000, all signs pointed to this 1-bedroom-plus-den condo of 690 square feet being worth upwards of $345,000.

I knew that there would be significant action on the condo, in part because of the “low,” attractive price, but also because of the incredibly rare 330 square foot patio attached the the well-laid-out 690 square feet inside.

Nick & Leslie were in love with the condo, and in their minds, they were already furnishing the place and designing the housewarming invitations.

I felt a huge responsibility to go out and get this place for them, but at the same time, I didn’t want to see them overpay for it.

This is when I decided to use the personal touch.

There were six offers on the condo, listed at $299,000, and while I figured that it could sell for as much as $345,000, I didn’t tell them that at the risk of scaring them off.  I worked them up to $331,621, and I went to battle with the listing agent.

I’ll never forget driving to present the offer at Bloor & Sherbourne, and hearing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” on the radio…

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul,
And you can do this if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

I was on the verge of tears as I parked my car on Bloor Street, ironically right outside my father’s office.

My little brother’s fate was in my hands; his first home would be decided by my immediate actions.

I sat down at the kitchen table with the sellers and their agent, and pulled out my Bosley folder with several stacks of paper.

I then said to the agent and the sellers, “Gene, Melanie, Anthony….I’d like you to meet Nick & Leslie – the young couple who will be buying your condo this evening.”

I pulled out three sheets of paper and set them each in front of the three parties sitting across from me.

On each of those sheets of paper was a color photo of Nick & Leslie, embracing eachother and smiling like smitten-kittens while sitting on the stairs of Leslie’s Burlington home.

Gene, Melanie, and Anthony simultaneously said, “Aaaaawwwwwww,” and I knew that no matter what happened with the other offers, they would not soon forget the cute, young couple from the photo.

I talked about Nick & Leslie for a good ten minutes before I presented the offer, and it wasn’t until I saw the listing agent, Gene, rolling his eyes and looking at the Bosley folder in my firm grasp that I decided to move on to the task at hand.

We presented our offer of $331,621 – the 621 representing June 21st when Nick & Leslie would be married (Melanie & Anthony ate that up as well), and I returned home to wait for a phone call.

Gene called me hours later and said that of the six offers, they were “working with two,” and we had an opportunity to improve our offer.

We added, $5,000 to our offer and re-submitted at $336,621, and low and behold, Nick & Leslie got the condo.

It wasn’t until two months later when I got the full story from a colleague of mine who knew Gene.

Our offer was the second highest, as there was an offer of $335,000 on the table.  But Melanie & Anthony, the sensitive-sellers, wanted to give “the cute, young couple” another chance, and thus they sent back both offers for improvement.

The buyers with the $335,000 offer balked at the idea of adding more money, while we did what needed to be done, unbeknownst to us, and ended up with this one-of-a-kind condo.

The personal touch really made the difference, and this was during a hot market where price was really the only thing that mattered.

Let’s face it – had Nick & Leslie not added $5,000 to their offer, there is no way that the sellers would have said, “Well they’re so cute, let’s sell it to them for less money.”  Of course not, that sort of thing doesn’t happen.

But there are other ways in which the personal touch can make a difference, and this is a prime example…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

Find Out More About David Read More Posts

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