The Friday Rant: Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff!


11 minute read

February 4, 2022

You know that saying, right?

Don’t sweat the small stuff!

It’s sort of, “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” except the latter is a better analogy and the saying has more meaning.

I tried to tell my daughter what, “Don’t cry over spilled milk” meant, but she was too focused on the milk and not the insignificance of the action of spilling milk, in the context of a person’s life.  She became fixated on all the ways in which we could clean up the milk, and from there it just sort of spiraled into a conversation about who made her cry at school that day, and the metaphor was completely lost.

Don’t sweat the small stuff!

It’s like when somebody says, “Don’t let it bother you,” and you want to grab them by the face and shout, “If I had the ability to NOT let it bother me then I WOULDN’T let it bother me!”

It’s like, do you think this is a choice?  Like I woke up and said, to myself, “I think I’m going to let small things bother me today!”

People say things like, “Try not to think about it,” and it almost ignores that to try not to think about it, actively, means you are thinking about it.

Metaphors, idioms, analogies.  They won’t work if they’re used improperly.

I can’t tell you how often I’m told not to let things bother me, or not to sweat the small stuff.

But it’s the small stuff that’s often the most bothersome.

It’s the small stuff that can often be cured, avoided, or solved with the least amount of effort, and that’s exactly why it bothers me in the first place!

Fair warning: this is one of those blogs where some people read it and then comment, “What hell are you complaining for, David?  Shut up and do your job!”

Fair point within my fair warning.  Fair is fair.

The purpose of today’s rant is not to draw sympathy, since the issues within our industry are mine to solve, but rather to draw attention to a litany of bad practices that are becoming commonplace.

If you’re a buyer out there in today’s market, you need to hear the following in order to prepare to enter the wild.

If you’re a seller out there, you’ll want to know what to expect, and what some of these bad practices are in case your agent tries to shelter you.

And if you’re an agent who is reading this, then ask yourself if you’re guilty of any of the following.  If you’re not, then bravo, because you have a huge leg up in this market.

Folks, there are now 65,000 licensed agents with the Toronto Real Estate Board and part of what’s making the market so difficult out there in 2022 is that every single agent who “graduates” Humber College is ill-prepared for this industry.  Not only that, many agents with one, two, three, or more years in the business have either got away with bad habits for too long, or, they’ve become so relaxed that new bad habits have arrived.

My friend Chris told me last week, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

But I just can’t do that when it affects my ability to do my job on a regular basis.

Here are a few stories…

“Do you own a watch?”

One of the biggest problems in our market right now is that many buyer agents couldn’t care less when their showing is booked; they just show up when they damn-well please.

If a listing does not allow “double-bookings,” and it happens to be a popular listing, it could mean that to try booking a viewing for this afternoon is a fool’s errand, since they’re booked in every single half-hour time slot from 10am to 6pm.  Some of the downtown Toronto condos are getting 100+ showings in a week and that means you’d better book a couple of days in advance!

As good as this is for the sellers, it comes with serious drawbacks when you consider the incompetence and ignorance of some agents.

Last week, an agent called me and said that there was no key in the lockbox for my Richmond Street listing.  It was 2:40pm on a Saturday and her appointment was booked from 2:30pm to 3:00pm.  We had wall-to-wall viewings and I already knew what had happened.

“There’s an agent showing from 2:00pm to 2:30pm,” I told her.  “He or she is probably late, so just wait in the lobby or knock on the door of the unit and tell this person that they’re running late.”

Not a huge problem, right?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

But when this happens repeatedly, it’s a bit annoying.

You know that I constantly preach this little-subscribed-to concept of taking responsibility for one’s actions, and I hate indifference and excuses.  So while I recognize that “life happens,” when you book a viewing for 2:00pm to 3:00pm, you had better make sure you’re seeing the condo in that timeframe.  Let’s be honest: it doesn’t take more than ten minutes to see a 600 square foot condo, so even if you’re late arriving, you should be out on time.

This, however, wasn’t the issue “worth sweating over.”

After a week in which Chris told me, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” multiple times, I was doing my best, I assure you.  But then something happened that caused me to lose my cool.

Yet another agent called me and said, “The key isn’t in the lockbox,” and I was so tired of this.

It was 5:45pm and it just wasn’t cool.  The previous agent was obviously 15 minutes late, and I apologized to this agent profusely.

“I’m so sorry for this inconvenience,” I told her.  “You see, many agents aren’t showing up on time.  They’re running late, or staying late, or showing up outside their alloted times,” I explained.  “I’m really so, so sorry,” I pleaded.

“That’s okay,” she said.  And then I made her a promise.

“I’m going to look up whichever agent is there at the wrong time,” I told her, “And I’m going to give that agent a piece of my mind.  I promise.”

She said, “Okay, good,” and thanked me again.

Then I logged into BrokerBay to see which agent was showing from 5:00pm to 5:30pm and was running late.

I was just about to call him, but then I happened to glance at the appointment confirmation for 5:30pm to 6:00pm, and low and behold, it wasn’t “Sandy,” the agent that had just called me.

In fact, Sandy wasn’t at 6:00pm – 6:30pm either, nor was she at 6:30pm – 7:00pm.

Her appointment was from 7:00pm – 7:30pm.

And she was there at 5:45pm?!@?!?!?

Folks, when I promise something, I keep that promise.

So having told Sandy, “I’m going to look up whichever agent is there at the wrong time, and I’m going to give that agent a piece of my mind.  I promise,” I was going to follow through on that.

I called Sandy and said, “Sandy, your appointment is at 7:00pm.”

She said, “Uh huh.”

I said, “It’s 5:48pm right now.”

She said, “Yuh-huh.”

I said, “Do you see a problem here, Sandy?”

Now what would you do in this situation?

This is kind of like when you get caught moving down to unoccupied seats in the third row at the Rogers Centre in the 7th inning of a blowout game when your seats are in the thirty-second row.  You’re an adult, and only kids can get away with that.  So you sheepishly scurry away, embarassed, which admits wrongdoing in the process.

What did Sandy do?

She told me, “But we are early,” as though that made it okay.  She told me this as though I was in the wrong, or that I was crazy to question why she was there.

“Sandy, I have over one-hundred appointments booked on this property and everybody is fit into half-hour time slots,” I explained.  “If you wanted 5:30pm then you should have booked for 5:30pm.”

She told me, “But we’re here now,” and added, “It’s cold outside, we want to go in.”

I felt like I was talking to a child.  A child without a watch or any concept of time, let alone common sense, respect, professionalism, etc.

But I was nice.  I was calm.  I wasn’t going to blow up at her.  I tried to reason with her because that seemed to be the reasonable response.

“Sandy, your appointment is for 7:00pm.  I understand when somebody runs ten minutes late or is ten minutes early, but you were 75 minutes early and for some reason, you seem to think that’s alright.”

Amazingly, she went on the offensive.

“We are seeing many condos tonight.  We are here now.  We want to see the condo now.  We will wait for the next agent to come out and we will go up.  We are waiting our turn.”

That’s when I changed my tune.  A little.  Just a little…

“The hell you will,” I shouted into the phone.  “You have a confirmation for a 7:00pm appointment.  There is an agent there at 5:30pm, then another agent at 6:00pm, then another agent at 6:30pm, and then you are permitted to go into the unit.”

She said, “I have the lockbox code, I have a business card and I can get the key from the agent who is showing now, and I can go up.”

I wanted to jump through the phone and strangle her.

Instead, I told her, “I’m canceling your appointment through BrokerBay.  I don’t trust you.  I don’t want you anywhere near my client’s property.”

And I did exactly that.  I canceled her appointment and I have no idea if she left the property or not, but looking back on this, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Some of you might be thinking, “She’s in the wrong, but it’s not that wrong.”


It’s very wrong.  It’s not so much the action of showing up over an hour early, three time-slots removed from your approved entry to the property, and trying to sneak in, but rather the blatant disregard for the rules, the disrespect shown to myself, the seller, and the other three agents, and the entitlement and indifference.

This is today’s modern agent.

“No fucks given.”

And it’s making it harder and harder for the true professionals to do their job.

On its own, maybe this isn’t worth sweating.  But I believe it’s a microcosm of what happens when agents can’t adapt to a frenetic and fast-paced 2022 market.

“What time is it? (game time!)”

For those of you who have made an offer on a property with an “offer date” in the past few years, you know the drill.  Offers are reviewed at a specific time, on a specific date, and you proceed accordingly.

Now, if offers are reviewed at 7:00pm, and you want to submit your offer reflecting the competition, you might wait until 6:58pm to ensure that the four offers you’re told you’re competing with remain only four.  The presence of a fifth and a sixth offer might lead you to increase your purchase price, so being in the know is important!

Before you actually submit your offer, there’s this thing called the “Offer Registration.”

There’s a form for this.  The buyers sign it.  And any buyer agent worth their salt understands that you are required to send this form to the listing agent before a certain time.

The reason?

To avoid chaos!

If everybody sent an offer at 7:00pm, then none of those people would know how many offers there were.

So we “register” our offers in advance.  We don’t give any terms, conditions, prices, etc, but rather simply convey that we WILL be submitting an offer at 7:00pm.

This concept is so simple and yet buyer agents out there just can’t seem to understand it.

Most listing agents will note on their MLS listing: “Offers Reviewed At 7:00pm, Please Register By 5:00pm.”

This is meaningless, of course.  Agents who email an offer at 7:01pm, without having registered, don’t get their offer lit on fire or anything.  But if you’re a buyer agent in this market, it would be quite appropriate and beneficial for you to abide by the instructions and requests of the listing agent.

Last week, I was submitting an offer on behalf of buyer clients, with offers being reviewed at 7:00pm.  At 9:00am, I sent them the “Offer Registration Form,” they signed it, and I emailed it to the listing agent.

I received a notification from BrokerBay that we had registered our offer.  We were Offer #1.

From 9:10am through 6:30pm, there were four other offers registered.  Yes, this listing was one that read, “Please Register By 5:00pm,” but I know that buyer agents won’t do that, so I wasn’t surprised to see a fifth and sixth offer registered between 6:30pm and 7:00pm.”

What did surprise me, however, was to see eleven more offers registered after 7:00pm, with some coming in after 8:00pm.

In total, there were 17 offers on this property, but only six were registered by the scheduled 7:00pm presentation time, with the requested 5:00pm registration time.

So I ask this simple question: what the hell is wrong with people?

Not only that, if you’re a buyer agent and offers are being reviewed at 7:00pm, why in the world are you sending an offer at 8:10pm?  What if the property had already sold?

This is awful business practice and it’s becoming commonplace.

And sometimes, it can really, really burn the buyer and their agent…

“Game Over!”

Further to the point above, I was taking offers on a listing this week and I set a 3:00pm presentation time.

In my email instructions to buyer agents, I was very specific about the concept of “registering” the offers, noting:


Offers should be registered by one of the following methods, no later than 2:00pm:

1) Upload Form 801 to BrokerBay
2) Email Form 801 to
3) Call 416-322-8000 and ‘register offer’ with reception


It shouldn’t be any easier than that, right?

If you’re completely inept, and you don’t know how to visit BrokerBay, click on the listing, click the button “Register Offer,” and then upload your Form 801, then you can simply email me the form, and I’ll do it!

But in the event that your Cogeco email is down, and your Netscape Navigator window is frozen, you can always pick up your rotary-dial phone and call my office, speak in human words, and tell my receptionist to register your offer.

I had nine offers on this listing.

How many people had registered by 2:00pm?


That’s not bad, right?

If we’re being honest here, that’s not terrible.

However, after reviewing the offers, discussing with buyer agents, talking to my sellers, and subsequently selling the property around 5:15pm, I was leaving the office to head downtown and my iPhone buzzed in my pocket.

It was an email.  And the subject line read: “Offer Attached.”

I opened the email in my car to find an offer for that property, which I had just sold, from an agent that I had never heard from, never spoken to, who had never registered an offer, and certainly hadn’t sent an offer by the scheduled 3:00pm presentation time.

I called the agent, just in case this email was lost in cyberspace, and asked when he sent it.

“Just now,” he said, as though nothing was wrong.

“But offers were at 3:00pm this afternoon,” I told him.

As though he were in some position of power (and he wasn’t – the offer sucked), he said, “Yes, well, I think your clients are going be very happy with what we’ve got.”

I simply said, “Offers were to be registered by 2:00pm.  Presentation was at 3:00pm.  The property was sold by 4:30pm.  It’s currently 5:15pm.”

“You sold it already?” he asked, with the concept of being embarrassed never entering the equation.

“Well, alright then,” he added, as he hung up, in what was probably the strangest call I’d had that week.

“Who’s doing YOUR homework?”

You know the expression, “Six of one, half-dozen of the other?”

Let’s play that…

Can you give me any guidance on price?

What type of price range are we looking at here?

What do you think would be a competitive offer for this place?

What would you offer with your own buyer clients?

What comparable sales did you use to arrive at the list price?

What are your sellers’ expectations?


These are six different questions, all of which are asking the same thing.

And all six questions show that the buyer agent is asking the listing agent to do their homework for them.

While I recognize that agents routinely under-price properties to make them more attractive, that doesn’t mean that every agent in the city has to act like a clueless knob who can’t do some research and figure out where the property should be selling.

On my last listing, no word of a lie, I had over thirty agents ask me some variation of this question.

Some of you want to point the finger at listing agents for “not listing at fair market value,” but come on, be realistic.  Buyer agents know the pricing strategies that have been prevalent for the last twenty years, so if you see a condo listed for $599,900, and the last two sales for that model were $675,000 in November and $690,000 in December, then there’s your starting point.

But most agents’ starting point in 2022 is to pick up the phone, call the listing agent, and ask, “What are your sellers’ expectations?”

I will never answer any of these questions.

But it seems I’m not the only one.

Last week, this caption appeared in an MLS listing:



I love this agent.  She’s brilliant.

Her listings are exceptionally well-presented, her MLS listing “write-ups” are always talked about, and she’s a true professional in every sense of the word.

For a listing that ended up with 39 offers, I can’t imagine how many people called her to ask “What’s this property going to sell for?” instead of actually doing a Comparative Market Analysis on the address.

If you’re a buyer, you want to know if your agent is making this phone call to the listing agent.  Because a lot of buyer agents are flying blind out there and I really, really feel for their buyer-clients.

Okay folks, that’s it for me today!

This “rant” feels pretty tame compared to anything I wrote, circa 2008, right?  Ask Graham, Kyle, or Condodweller who apparently have been reading since then.  Hey guys, remember when we were young?

If age really does has a calming effect, then in a decade, I’ll have to rename “The Friday Rant” to something like “The End-Week Conversation.”

You just can’t imagine what it’s like out there, folks.  Agents have no clue what they’re doing.

I’m still working on that anonymous interview with the Humber College instructor, by the way.  If I can get he or she on camera for a Zoom interview, blur out the face, alter the voice, we’re going to have one HELL of an exposé on real estate education.

Have a great weekend, everybody!




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

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  1. Daniel

    at 7:28 am

    So David, what’s the solution here? Cap the number of agents? More stringent education? Better complaint system?

    1. Nick

      at 10:49 am

      Real consequences for bad actions.

      Three strikes rule makes sense depending on the severity of the infraction.

      But also real $$$ value damaged charges to the brokerages so they will be more involved in training and follow up. They have to have a reason to fix these representatives and not to give these bad realtors a place to operate.

  2. Kira

    at 9:50 am

    I took real estate salesperson courses through OREA around 10 years ago. The main issue with those was strong focus on laws, forms, construction basics, etc and zero coverage of day to day practicalities of being an agent. After graduation such “RE agent” would be oblivious to how Toronto real estate market actually works and what is expected from him/her. If such person then lands in a discount brokerage with no training or colleague support then there is no wonder they turn out the way they do.

  3. Bill Johnston

    at 10:07 am

    Great rant David! One minor issue; it should be “him or her” not “he or she”.

  4. Bryan

    at 10:37 am

    The fact that we are “asking and hoping” for buyer agents to register their offer at a certain time has always really annoyed me as a practice. It is completely unfair that some buyers have an advantage over others in that they know how many offers there are on the property before submitting their first offer, simply because they choose to be late. If it were up to me, there would be legislation around this to make some real rules (some/many of these already exist in some form).

    Firstly, only offers registered at least 2 hours (or something) before an official review time (with form 801) would be allowed to purchase the property. Secondly, buyer agents wouldn’t be informed every time an offer was registered… instead, all agents would be informed of how many offers were registered 1 minute after the registration deadline. And thirdly, only offers actually submitted before the review time would be allowed to be reviewed… with buyer agents informed real time of each formal offer (similar to how they are now with offer registrations) along with the corresponding brokerage and buyer agent for that offer…so they can make sure whoever wins the property was in before the cutoff.

  5. London Agent

    at 11:08 am

    While I wasn’t reading this blog in 2008, I wish this blog had more of that flavour!

  6. frank

    at 11:30 am

    Real estate licensing dues should be at least $10k per year as a simple solution

  7. Seller in waiting

    at 2:38 pm

    Hi David,

    I have a solution if you have a home with 100+ showings and people try and enter when it’s not their timeslot.

    You can ask my tenant to be the bouncer / door man. He is doing it right now for my rental property that he is renting from me for free. This is a joke of course; my tenant refusing to leave during showings is not a good thing.

    If you can add a stupid TAX for agents that would be a good thing. If you accept their offer just lower their commission from 2.5 to 2.0%.

    1. David Fleming

      at 12:46 pm

      @ Seller in waiting

      Several people asked me why I didn’t take you up on your offer for a guest blog, and I’m so sorry! Just a crazy busy week and I forgot.

      But there’s certainly a demand for your story, so if you’re ever up for it, you’ve got the space here!

      1. Seller in waiting

        at 8:24 am

        @David and All

        Absolutely and I was going to send to you anyway once house is sold and let you decide then.

        Any long time reader’s like myself understand that you read comments but can’t always respond to each every time.

        I am drafting it now and I expect In about 1 month or so I should be in a position to submit it.

  8. Frances

    at 3:13 pm

    Sandy had some balls to call you complaining about the missing key. If her plan all along was to sneak into the unit early then surely she should have just waited in the lobby and pounced on the key when it came back down.

  9. Condodweller

    at 3:19 pm

    I’d be shocked if I was reading since 2008, more like 2013/2014 I think. I recall reading somewhere that men don’t fully mentally “mature” until their 30s 40s. I don’t know if it’s actually age-related but along the way, at one point I learned to not, as you say, sweat the small stuff, but as I often miss quote the advice/prayer of not sweating the stuff you can’t control and knowing the difference. Once you realize this and stop banging your head against the wall about not being able to control things that you can’t control, things become much better.

    Has no one invented smart lockboxes where you can remotely change the code between appointments?

  10. Appraiser

    at 8:35 am

    Don’t sweat the small stuff.

    P.S. Almost everything is small stuff.

Pick5 is a weekly series comparing and analyzing five residential properties based on price, style, location, and neighbourhood.

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