This story involves two major concepts: 1) entitlement, 2) insanity.
Maybe ‘insanity’ is a stretch, but I’m still reeling after seeing this property-seller in action…
Upon second thought, I don’t think insanity is a stretch.
By the clinical definition, yes, it’s a stretch. But as far as common-place insanity goes, this seller of a Rosedale home was so completely out of touch with reality, and her actions and words defied all logic.
Let me give you a bit of background…
I have a client who is moving to Toronto from out west, where people are a lot nicer, and where the real estate world is different. After working with “John” for quite some time now, I’ve heard his stories, and he’s seen my daily trials and tribulations, and he assures me that working in the Toronto real estate industry is a fate worse than death.
John simply cannot believe how the participants in Toronto’s real estate market treat each other, and how they conduct themselves.
I have to admit, John has had a tough go of things. We’ve had trouble finding a house for rent or for sale, and our latest experience didn’t help to change his opinions any as far as Toronto real estate goes.
John was in town last week for two days to tie up a house: rent or buy, no preference. “Just find me a goddam house!”
There was a house on (can’t say the street name…) that seemed to meet all of our criteria, and it came onto the market literally the day John touched down at Pearson.
Of course, the MLS listing had no photos online. I mean, what would you expect your agent to do for $65,000?
I kid, I kid. It wasn’t the agent’s fault, as we’d soon learn, although to be perfectly honest, I’d be surprised if this agent would have put up any photos anyways…
The first obstacle, as it would seem, would be getting into the house at all!
I received the following page from my office: “NON CONFIRMATION: 123 Smith Street – Seller Says Try Tomorrow.”
“Try Tomorrow?” Do you want to sell your $2.7 Million house, or don’t you?
This is what I truly don’t understand about sellers. I mean, sometimes, you can rest on your laurels, treat buyers like crap, and just say, “I’ll sell this place; I’ll be fine, thanks.” But at this price point, at this time of year, and with a 30-day closing preferred as per MLS, you would think this seller would go out of his or her way to accommodate our showing!
“Try Tomorrow.” What a joke.
What an unbelivable sense of entitlement! Some sellers are like this; they have no grip on reality, and they just assume that buyers grow on trees, and that every buyer in the city of Toronto is a bona-fide buyer for his or her house.
So after speaking with the listing agent, and explaining that my buyer was in town for two days and we needed to get in to see his clients’ house that day around noon, he “moved mountains” to allow us inside.
This is where the magic happened…
There was no lockbox on the property, and the owner met us at the door.
At the risk of sounding ignorant and racist, I’m going to point out right from the get-go: there was a serious language/cultural barrier here. But that’s central to the story…
The owner asked us to make ourselves at home, and we did.
John really liked the property, and since, for some unimaginable reason for a $2.7 Million property, there were ZERO photos on MLS, John asked me to snap a few photos to show his wife back home on the West coast.
So, I did.
I snapped off a lot of photos, actually. I mean, are we really expected to purchase a $2.7 Million asset, sight-unseen?
Here is the part where some of my readers will disagree with me. You might say, “David, shouldn’t you ask the seller if you can take photos? Don’t you always complain about Realtors who think they have the run of the property?”
Yes, and no, but if we’re allowed to judge on a case-by-case basis, I’d have to say that since this property had no photos on MLS, it’s reasonable to assume that I might be able to take a few, especially given the price point, and the fact that the house was almost vacant so privacy wasn’t really an issue.
After touring the rest of the house, John and I made our way up to the third floor where the seller was sitting at a desk, and I said, “Do you mind if I take a photo?”
She jumped out of her seat and said, “No Photo, No Photo.” I thought she was joking – like doing an impression of a celebrity being followed by a paparazzi – “Please, no photos. No photos.”
But she wasn’t.
She got right in my face and said, “No photo. You no take photo. No way. No photo!”
I looked at John, and he motioned with his hand as if to say, “This one is aaaaaaallll yours, David.”
I asked the woman, “Well, there are no photos on MLS, and John’s wife is out West, so we’d really love to get something for her to see.”
She replied, “Yeah – NO PHOTO! No photo ever! No photo anywhere!”
I was so utterly confused. This house was for sale, but they weren’t actively selling it, or marketing it in any way. They were acting like this place was some big secret, and we were all just lucky to be a part of it. You would think that a seller would understand a buyer’s need for photos, and go out of his or her way to help with the sale process, but it didn’t seem so, in this case.
I asked the seller again, “Can I please take a photo for John’s wife so she can see the house and make decision on whether or not to buy it?” And she once again yelled, “NO PHOTO!”
I asked the seller, “Do you want us to buy this house?” Plain and simple, and not out of line.
She yelled, “Yes, you buy! You buy house!”
I said, “Okay, well then, I’m going to need a few photos to show John’s wife, so she knows which $2.7 Million house she’s buying without having been inside.”
The lady went nuts.
“No, no, no. You no photo! You no take a no photo, you no show a no photo! You bad! You notta takaa photo!”
What the heck was I supposed to do?
John spoke up and said, “If I may……ummm….I like your house, and I might very well buy your house. So if we could just take a couple of photos, so I could show my wife, I might actually buy your house.”
And that’s when the line of the century came flying out: “You buy! You buy house. You buy NOW!”
Like right this second?
“You buy NOW!” she screamed at both John and I.
I swear, I was waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out from behind the file cabinet. Was this really happening?
“Do you have any photos on your computer that you could send me? Maybe I don’t have to take any photos with my camera, but you could send me some?”
Then the lady looked at my camera and said, “You give me camera! You show me you no-take-a photo! You give camera now and then you go!” She actually reached out for my camera and tried to snatch it like a baby grabbing a toy that she knows to be hers.
I said, “Hold on – you don’t need to see my camera,” but she said, “I give back. I give back to you. I take out memory and then I give back.”
So she just wanted to scan my memory card for photos, but then she would give it back.
“There’s something really weird going on here,” John said to me. “Some sort of money-laundering gig or something.”
“No, I don’t think so,” I said to John, right in front of the woman, who may or may not have had any clue what I was saying. “I just think this woman is tragically entitled to sell her house without actually doing any work, and I think she failed Sales-101. I think this is normal behaviour to her.”
The woman’s eyes were whipping from side-to-side as she glanced back and forth at John and I.
We made our way down the stairs as John asked questions just to see how she would answer.
“So how long have you lived here?” John inquired, since the question was not at all out of line.
“I buy this house. I buy this house before and now you buy! You buy now!”
“Right, right,” John said. “I’m sorry I asked.”
“NO PHOTO,” she added, just for good measure.
We walked out of this gorgeous house, down the long, beautiful walkway, and onto the magnificent streetscape, and wondered how a bat-sh!t crazy loon like this lady found her way onto a prime Rosedale street.
“Something really weird is going on there,” John concluded.
It wasn’t long before the listing agent called me to ask how the showing went, and rather than get into specifics, I simply asked, “How come you don’t have any photos on MLS?” Unbeknownst to him, I teased a bit, and said, “Can you ask the seller to snap a few quick photos of he home and maybe you can email them to me?”
I’m still waiting…
There are many ways to sell real estate in Toronto, and these can fall into “right ways” or “wrong ways.”
I’m going to head out on a limb and say that this is the wrong way to sell real estate. Alienating a ready and willing buyer for no apparent reason (clinical insanity?) isn’t a good start to a listing, and a massively over-inflated sense of entitlement is never a good thing.
It’s like the woman is standing at the doorway on Halloween and yelling, “Hey kids, come get your razor-apples and rat-poison,” and then complaining that nobody came trick-or-treating that night.
If I had to guess, I’d say this property will be for sale for some time.
You could have a look for yourselves on MLS, but, well, you know……no photo….