The House That Just Wouldn’t Sell

Houses | October 20, 2008

Think of the largest missed opportunity in your life, or the largest mistake in judgement you’ve ever made.

Now magnify that two, three, or a hundred times over.

That’s what happened in the following story.


Think about those “woulda, coulda, shoulda” situations where you turned down an offer or made the wrong decision and it you lived to regret it.

I’m not talking about throwing rock in a game of “rock, paper, scissors,” when you absolutely knew the other guy was going to throw paper, but you just plain weren’t thinking.

And I’m not talking about beating yourself up today for not buying shares of Apple in January, 2004 when you were never even considering it at the time.

I’m talking about a having that decision staring you right in the face, being an educated, rational, informed person, and after much soul-searching and evaluation, you make a decision….one that costs you dearly!

There is a house in midtown Toronto that many of us Realtors now believed is “cursed.”

It’s not cursed because ghosts live in the attic, but it’s cursed because there is a certain stigma about this house that is causing the entire real-estate-buying public to turn up their nose at the thought of purchasing it.

I’ve always maintained that when a property is over-priced and sits on the market and on MLS, it gets stale and people bypass it.

But I’ve never seen anything quite like “The House That Would Not Sell.”

In May of 2007, this house was listed for sale at $1,799,000.  It’s a stunning house in one of the most sought-after areas of Toronto, but the house was not without it’s flaws.

It’s a corner lot, which is very hit-or-miss.  Some people like the exposure, others believe there is a lack of privacy with respect to the backyard (which becomes a side yard on a corner lot).  But the fatal flaw with this house was the fact that the backyard couldn’t be accessed from the living room or kitchen, but rather you had to go through the garage!

When this house was listed over 18 months ago, the market was red-hot.  More to the point, the market in this particular uptown locale was hotter than it had possibly ever been!  Listed at $1,799,000, the owners received an offer for $1,800,000.

And they turned it down.

This is where my whole “decision regret” comes into play.  At the time, how were the owners to know that taking this offer wasn’t the right move to make?  The market was red-hot, and they didn’t get their price. 

They were waiting, hoping, and banking on receiving multiple offers on the property, as this was happening with regularity in the area at that time.  But they figured they could wait and get more money, or take the house off the market and get more later.

So they did exactly that.

The owners took the house off the market and continued to live there through the end of 2007.

In February of 2008, a little less than one year after the house was listed for $1,799,000, the owners re-listed the house at $1,849,000.

Perhaps they figured that enough time had passed, the market had risen, and they could get whatever magic price they had hoped for a year earlier.

But despite the still-hot market in early 2008, nobody jumped at the chance to buy the house at the new price, and it sat on the market.

Perhaps it was the timing then?  It was February, afterall, and it was cold and dreary outside and perhaps it was the wrong time to be listing.  Perhaps

So they re-listed the house on April 1st at $1,849,000, thinking perhaps the prospects of Spring and the warm weather would bring about a new breed of eager, excited buyers.

Multiple offers were happening on probably more than half of all houses in this area, but believe it or not, the house sat for three weeks at $1,849,000, and finally the owners reduced it a full $100K to $1,749,000.

The listing price was now less than the offer they had turned down a year earlier, but they were mature enough to admit that they’d made a mistake and that perhaps “it’s only money” and they would learn from this mistake.

Oh yeah….they’d learn alright!

One month later in May 0f 2008, they reduced the price even further to $1,600,000, now $200,000 less than the price they had turned down.  The house sat on the market for 57 days until the listing was terminated.

In July of 2008, the house was re-listed at $1,549,000.  My jaw dropped.  I’d never seen anything like this, especially in this area!

In September of 2008, the house was re-listed at $1,499,000.  I figured this time around, surely there would be a buyer.  This new price was $300,000 less than the offer they had turned down a year earlier, and houses were still selling left-right-and-centre in this uptown locale.

In fact, a former Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player listed his house for sale that same week that was literally across the street, and it sold in TWO DAYS!

Nevertheless, the “cursed house” sat on the market throughout September at the $1,499,000 price, and then last week, the unthinkable happened: they dropped the price to $1,399,000.

I was absolutely astonished.  This house is gorgeous, it’s in a prime neighborhood and on one of the best blocks in the area, but it continued to sit on the market as buyer after buyer scoffed at the “FOR SALE” sign that perpetually sat on the lawn.

The owners had left $400,000 on the table from when they first listed their house for sale back in early 2007, and surely that had to hurt.

This is the part of my blog posts where I normally sum it all up with a one of “life’s lessons” or some sort of “moral of the story,” but I really don’t know what to say.

I don’t know if you can call these owners “greedy,” but in any event, they made such a monumental blunder and ill-advised decision to turn down a cash offer for $1.8M, and now their house sits on the market at a paltry $1.4M in an area where houses sell in a matter of days.

How do you sleep at night?

Listings get stale over time, and buyers like what is new and fresh and will continue to scroll by old listings on MLS or walk by “FOR SALE” signs on lawns of houses that seem to “always” be for sale.

But I’ve never seen a listing get this stale.

And I cringe at the thought of yet another price drop…

Back To Top

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

One thought on “The House That Just Wouldn’t Sell

Back To Comments