The Relationship Between Leverage & ‘Days On Market’


8 minute read

October 3, 2022

If a property came onto the market today for $599,900, you went to look at it, and you were quite interested, how much would you offer?

The answer on the tip of your tongue is probably: “It depends.”

Of course it depends!  It depends on a multitude of factors.

What type of market are we in?  Is this property in a hot location or building?  Is it under-priced for an “offer night?”  Has it been re-listed before?  And above all, how do you value the property?

The answer to this question might also depend on your age and/or your level of cynicism.

You’ve probably heard this one before: ask a child and an adult, “How do you get an elephant inside a refrigerator?”

The adult is likely to ponder the question, look for a trick, and eventually come up with a complicated answer.

The child is more likely to say, “Open the door, and put the elephant inside.”

Sometimes, simplicity prevails.

So the simple answer to my question about how much to offer on that new $599,000 listing is: “Whatever you want.”

Last week, an agent on my team said there was a new listing that his clients were interested in, priced at $1,599,900, with offers ‘any time,’ and he asked, “What’s the least I can offer on this?”

I asked how long the property had been listed, and he said, “It came out this morning.

It doesn’t matter if that property is a heaping pile of crap or if it’s massively over-priced, or both; it’s very tough to make a compelling argument that the seller should look at an offer below the list price, after mere hours of hitting the market.

The listing agent has all the leverage here.

Any offer on that property that’s below the list price and the listing agent can say, “Umm, thanks…….but we just listed today.”


As a buyer’s agent, you can grovel, you can cite comparable sales, you can talk about the market conditions, and you can get a Harvard-educated, MENSA-member to explain why the property is worth less than $1,599,900, but the comeback from the listing agent will ultimately remain, “We just listed today.”

In this situation, the listing agent and the seller have all the leverage and there’s just no way to work around it.

This doesn’t preclude my colleague from offering $1,550,000, or less, if he wants.  But we know what the listing agent is going to say.

“We just came onto the market today.”

“We’ve had a ton of interest already.”

“I’ve got nine showings booked and it’s only been a few hours.”

“Two agents have already asked for a copy of the home inspection.”

“I got a cold call on the for-sale sign today, and I’m showing it to them tomorrow.”

And on, and on, and on.  There are too many comebacks; the leverage is too high in the sell-side’s favour.

Whether there’s demand or not, a good listing agent will know to at least feign that there is.  And truth be told, when your listing is new, you have leverage no matter the market conditions.  And you always will.

Last month, I had a listing that I didn’t think was going to do very well.  Market conditions aside, it was in a building that has a spotty track record and units aren’t exactly flying off the shelves.

After four days, I had only one showing.


But as is often the case in this crazy world of real estate, that one showing turned into an offer!

The offer was well under the list price, as I knew it would be, but I was still only four days on the market.  This listing was still relatively new.

So then, with tough market conditions and a tough listing, did I jump at the offer?


I used my leverage.

I told the buyer’s agent, “We’re barely four days on the market and I’ve had a slew of showings.  Three agents have called and asked or a copy of the condominium’s status certificate and two have told me they think they could have an offer by the weekend.”

Then, I acted self-interested: “Plus, I want to have an open house this weekend!  I want to get my signs and my name out there.  Why would I sell this before I can do that?”

Of course, that’s not true.  I don’t do open houses personally, although my team does.  But when you specifically act self-interested, the agent on the other end of the conversation has a lot less to work with!

You can call this “playing poker” if you want, and yes, I was gambling.  I was bluffing.

But because of the relationship between leverage and days-on-market, I had the upper hand.

He didn’t know that I didn’t have any showings.  He didn’t know that I had no interest.  All he knew was that I was only four days on the market, and that I sounded like an asshole who didn’t want to sell the property because I wanted to promote myself that weekend.

When we signed the offer back just under the list price, the buyer accepted, and we sold the condo for way more than we should have.

The relationship between leverage and days-on-market sounds like common sense, but it’s not.  At least, not always.

And in some situations, it doesn’t work the way you would expect.

A few weeks ago, a condo came onto the market for $589,900.

I flagged this condo for a couple of investor clients and decided to take a wait-and-see approach.

The property sat on the market for fourteen days, without a sale, then the listing was terminated.

The property was re-listed but the price made little sense: $589,900.


You’re on the market for two weeks, no sale, and you re-list at the same price?

This is merely case of “re-starting the days-on-market,” since the listing appears as new on MLS, with days-on-market at zero, even though it’s the same property at the same price.

I showed the condo to an investor after it was on the market with the “new” listing for three days.

We liked it.  The rental yield would be much better than average in this market, the unit was in great shape, and turnkey, and she said she could see one of her kids living here in a decade if they choose to attend university in Toronto.  So we figured we’d give it another week and then maybe offer $550,000 and see what kind of response that would get.

$550,000 on a $589,900 listing?  Yeah, sure, why not?

If we’re talking twenty-one days on market, and the second listing, what’s wrong with $40K under list as a starting offer?

We didn’t get our chance, however.

Because the very next night, my iPhone buzzed, and it was an email saying that there was a registered offer on the condo.

But two hours later, another email noted a second registered offer on the condo.

Now, let’s all put our thinking caps on, shall we?

This condo is listed for $589,900.

It’s been on the market for four days, but this is the second listing, so it’s really been on the market for eighteen days.  This would have, could have, should have sold for well under the list price, if it were going to sell at all, just given the days on market.

So what did it end up selling for?


How in the world is that possible, right?

Had my client offered $589,900 on the spot that day, the seller would have accepted.  I mean, seventeen days on market, right?  Of course they would take the list price.

Had my client offered $585,000, or $580,000, I think it’s almost certain the seller would have accepted.  Again, just look at the days on market.

I even believe that had we offered $550,000, negotiated, and signed the offer back a few times, we could have potentially got this condo for $570,000.

But it sold for $605,000.

Because there were two buyers, one clearly got overzealous, and sometimes, the market doesn’t act the way that it should.

Should.  Huh.  I mentioned at the onset that this is one of our “famous last words” in real estate, and we’d all be in trouble if we took everything in our market for granted.

Just because something should happen, doesn’t mean it will.

A rational, logical approach to our market would allow us to believe, “If it should have, then it would have.”

If a property really, truly should have sold by now, then it would have.  Hard stop.

If you believe in the “efficient market hypothesis,” then quite clearly, any property that should have sold, would have sold.

But the problem with that theory, the word “should,” and the idea that leverage will always be higher or lower depending on the days-on-market is that not all real estate agents are the same.

In fact, some agents are incredible and some are God-awful.

A great agent will be able to create leverage where there is none.

A poor agent will fail to realize leverage when it’s present.

Then you throw in luck as well as the self-interest that is present when a buyer agent wants to get a deal done, to get him or herself, paid, and you can see why the relationship between leverage and days-on-market doesn’t always play out the way that it should.

Of course, there’s another fly in the ointment here: stupidity.

At the end of this story, you might call it “greed,” but let’s assume it’s somewhere in between.

A house is listed in the midtown area in the late spring for $1,699,000.

The house sits, as it should, because it’s over-priced.

The house is re-listed after six weeks for, wait for it…………$1,699,000.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” goes the saying, but the adage doesn’t tell us, at what price.

Suffice it to say, as the market declined, this house looked more and more ridiculous at $1,699,000.

The property was taken off the market at the end of the summer.

But what’s old is new again, pardon the over-use of idioms here, because it was re-listed after Labour Day.

At what price, you ask?


Some you might call this greed, others might call it stupidity, and others will say, “David, so what if this person is sticking to his list price?  What’s the problem?  Maybe he doesn’t want to sell for less than that!”

Sure, okay, I’ll buy that.

If a home-owner hasn’t already bought, then he or she doesn’t “need” to sell.

But if that home-owner really, truly wants to sell, then any rational person would see that after multiple months and multiple listings at the same price, the house just isn’t going to sell.

A few weeks into the fall listing, an agent on my team showed the property.

He offered $1,500,000.

“It must be fun to offer $200,000 below the list price, right?” I chided him.

Our agent was kind, courteous, and respectful with the listing agent, but found a way to nicely convey, “You’ve been on the market for, like, a hundred days…..”

He got a sign-back of $1,660,000.

Now, you might ask, “That’s $40,000 under the list price, what’s wrong with that?”  But then you’d be falling into the listing agent’s trap, because when a property is this over-priced, any sign-back this high is essentially attempting to “pay you with your own money.”

Our side came up to $1,550,000, which is honestly what that house is worth, and what did the seller do?

He rejected it.

No sign-back.  Nothing.

The answer we got was, “Let’s see where this is in a couple of weeks.”

Our client ended up buying another house, and in a “couple of weeks,” this listing will just be that much more stale.

As the days-on-market rack up, the eventual sale price of this house will go down.

Or at least, it should.

Because maybe this seller doesn’t need to sell.

Or maybe a new-buyer lands in Toronto, via the moon, says, “Oh, this is nice,” and makes a full-price offer.

Like I said: bad agents, luck, and stupidity are the three things that undermine the relationship that should exist between leverage and days-on-market, and all three of those things are ever-present in our market.

If you’re a buyer, keep all this in mind, and make sure you end up on the right side of the equation.

If you’re a seller, also keep this in mind, try to remain rational and reasonable if you do need to sell, as well as if you truly want to sell, and realize that “I’ll wait as long as it takes” is an awful, sure-to-fail mindset in almost any market, but especially in a balanced or buyer’s market.

On another note: is it really October?

When are those TRREB stats coming out?

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. Appraiser

    at 7:02 am

    5am on Wednesday the TRREB stats will be published.

    1. David Fleming

      at 12:41 pm

      @ Appraiser

      It’s literally screwing up my whole week.

      I can’t “waste” the stats blog by posting it on the Friday before a long weekend, but next Tuesday is too late to post it.

      I know a TRREB insider. I’m going to see if I can get the stats today.

  2. Ace Goodheart

    at 10:07 am

    RE: “I told the buyer’s agent, “We’re barely four days on the market and I’ve had a slew of showings. Three agents have called and asked or a copy of the condominium’s status certificate and two have told me they think they could have an offer by the weekend.”

    Then, I acted self-interested: “Plus, I want to have an open house this weekend! I want to get my signs and my name out there. Why would I sell this before I can do that?”

    This is the thing that makes people think real estate sales are kind of “slimy”. I understand it is fully permitted under the current rules and there is nothing stopping an agent from doing this.

    If you tried this in the stock market you would be sanctioned by regulators.

    It is known as a “pump and dump” scheme. Pretend you have a lot of non existent interest in your offering, to try to hype the market.

    It might make sense to have a public register of interest in a property, so this sort of thing can’t happen. Then anyone who wants to engage with the seller’s agent, can then register an expression of interest, and they are then able to request a showing or have discussion with the seller’s agent.

    The real estate sales industry still looks “dirty” when compared with other sales industries.

    1. LucasJ

      at 11:15 am

      This is exactly what I was thinking. The “game” David highlighted in last Friday’s blog post was something that I’m sure that anyone reading would have thought was very underhanded and sneaky. How is this different? Both are operating in very gray areas.

      1. Ace Goodheart

        at 1:39 pm

        I agree.

        The situation faced by the buyer is complex. They cannot trust what they are being told by their own agent, who is getting her information from the seller’s agent (who cannot be trusted).

        This in the context of a person trying to structure a transaction that can cost in the millions of dollars, involve financing from large financial institutions, and take twenty five or more years to pay for in full.

        I mean, what is a purchaser of a resale condo to do? Try to purchase directly from the developer? (see previous blog posts on how that often turns out).

        Having been in the buyer’s seat, I can tell you that I simply walked away from engagements like that described in this blog. I simply would not trust it. I could not make a large purchase when I did not know whether the situation that was being portrayed to me was true, or just being made up.

        1. JL

          at 2:30 pm

          The practical “realpolitik-like” state of real estate aside, I think it’s certainly valid to probe the ethics of an industry in which straight up lying becomes accepted as normal successful practice. This even moves us past the “positive spin/exaggeration” sales tactics that we tended to mock but grudgingly accepted (e.g. hallway space=den, real den=bedroom, “luxurious”=anything that works/isn’t broken, etc).

        2. Nobody

          at 1:17 pm

          This happens in ALL markets.

          When people are dating they wait a few days to call back. They’ll say they’re busy and can’t do dinner this week when they’re going to be home alone. They’ll use the ABSOLUTE best photo possible (and might bust out filters or photoshop to make it that little bit better).

          When looking for a job you’ll “think” about an offer. Say you have lots of interviews lined up.

          It’s in our psychology that we want what others desire and a lack of external desire will reduce our own previous level of desire with no other change. Buyer and sellers, job seekers and companies, every situation this happens. Sometimes it’s actually true – you are busy with work, already have a family birthday, have 5 job offers.

          We never have perfect information and have to make the best decision we can. Probably don’t buy something for full price at a store a week before US thanksgiving…

          When you take the dollar value and emotions around a house out of the equation you can look at the situation more easily.

    2. Jimbo

      at 6:46 pm

      It is called sales….. If you ever travel outside the G7 will you ever be blown away how much you over pay for stuff here. You see a price, you trust it, you but it. Sales people outside the G7 love when we shop with them…..

    3. Derek

      at 10:39 pm

      A long time reader and a ton of respect for David in taking on a lot of the issues he addresses and reveals. But this: “He didn’t know that I didn’t have any showings. He didn’t know that I had no interest.” This blows my mind. Was there no “leverage” absent untruths? Is it a brag that the buyer’s agent was too stupid to know the stated “leverage” was false? He should’ve assumed he was being lied to? It’s not really lying if it is agent bullshitting agent? If you’re the subject agent and you see that, do you just think, you rascal, you got me this time. Am I being silly here?

  3. Carrie Soto

    at 11:32 am

    Violation of Code of Ethics?

  4. Derek

    at 11:33 am

    Cognitive dissonance incoming

    1. Derek

      at 11:48 am

      Today’s post kind of makes me sad. Am I the only one?

      1. Vancouver Keith

        at 4:03 pm

        You aren’t the only one. My father was a career scientist for the provincial government, and prided himself on being rational and ethical. Try to imagine someone who didn’t invest in RRSP’s, because he felt that with a taxpayer financed pension, it would be immoral to derive even more benefit from the public purse. It’s a very good thing he didn’t work in the private sector.

        I’ve spoken to more than a few business people who justify this type of behaviour as “the way things are done,” “it’s business, not personal,” and “if I didn’t do it, someone else would.” Of course, it all gets paid for by consumers and working people who are blamed under the caveat buyer beware, in markets where differences in access to information are exploited for private gain.

      2. Parallel Universe

        at 6:50 pm

        I’m sad but for a very different reason. Reading these comments it makes me realize that everybody out there today has this definition of fair that can’t exist. Everything is fair but in their favor, which of course is the opposite of fair.

        I did not read the blog you referenced from last week until I had finished this story and the comments that followed. I have since read that story and I see two extremely different scenarios. The first scenario concerned a live offer in competition with two other bidders where all participants were “sent back” to improve, where the listing agent attempted to get the buyer to bid against herself, where the listing agent lied about the other offers, and where the listing agent ultimately committed fraud. This scenario concerns an individual offer and a sign-back of an offer where Dave then sold the buyer agent by telling him that there was serious interest in the property, but he didn’t say he had offers that didn’t exist, nor did he commit fraud. And he provided a sign-back when the first agent did not.

        For those of you who work in finance, when you sell stocks to your clients and you say “This stock is going to move!“ how is that any different? You have no idea what a stock is going to do.

        Derek, would you want Dave to sell your condo for the most money within the rules prescribed?

        This world is so full of two-faces. And that makes me sad.

        1. LucasJ

          at 8:33 pm

          Saying “this stock is going to move” is speculating, which is fine, but it’s different from what David did. What David did is more akin to saying “this stock is going to move because I know Warren Buffett has recently bought a large position in this stock” all the while knowing that Warren Buffett doesn’t own a single share (ie. “3 agents have requested a status certificate” when there has only been one showing).

        2. Derek

          at 8:59 pm

          My only point, PU, or main point I suppose, is that I would like to think the selling can be done without straight out lying. You realize you lowballed my client on a fresh new listing; maybe she’ll sign back but she’s not to keen on it; I’ll see if I can get instructions to work with you but we like our chances letting this get through the weekend and I imagine your client will have to pay to avoid losing this come Monday…. Yada yada yada. I’m coming across way too judgmental here—moreso than I intended to be but I echo Sirgruper below. I wouldn’t want my agent (any type of “agent”) to expect to be required to lie for me, risking her professional reputation in the process, for one deal.

      3. GR

        at 10:55 am

        You’re not the only one .. it actually made me cringe a little ..

  5. Sirgruper

    at 2:21 pm


    Understand but I think you should have used your inside voice.

  6. Geoff

    at 3:07 pm

    Here’s a problem that children can figure out and most adults can’t. Picture two columns. Here are the letters in column one: A, E, F, H, I, K, L, M, N. Here are the letters in column two: B, C, D, G, J, O, P. There is a distinct calculatable pattern that determines what letter goes into what column, it’s not random. Where do the next three letters go and why?

    1. Libertarian

      at 1:56 pm

      I admit, I had to look up the answer. Don’t know why I couldn’t figure out the answer. So obvious. Thanks for the brain teaser!

  7. JF007

    at 4:31 pm

    To all who found David unethical what would you do if you were the seller and wanted the most for yourself when you sell your property..are you sayin you will leave money on the table just because you want to play it fair, ethical, etc. etc…all the talk sounds good when looking outside in..till one has skin in the game once in everyone is looking after their own interests in this game..folks who are buyers will one day become sellers and will look after their own interests.

    1. Derek

      at 5:34 pm

      There’s a range of methods, behaviours, actions, on the spectrum. I don’t know where the line is. But, in Friday’s example, the selling agent was (I’m talking before the acceptance of the withdrawn offer part of the story) perceived to be on the end of the spectrum where a description of his style caused a buyer to walk away and cost the seller a sale. So, yeah, looking out for your own interests as a seller can definitely involve hiring the agent who is and is perceived to be on the other end of the spectrum (where I do believe David is situated).

    2. LucasJ

      at 9:49 pm

      Like Derek said below, where do you draw the line? Would you be ok doing what the agent in Friday’s post did? And if not, why not? Why draw the line there?

      1. LucasJ

        at 9:50 pm

        Oops I mean “like Derek said *above”

  8. Ace Goodheart

    at 5:49 pm

    I had an agent do an offer night for me (back when you could still actually get success with such a strategy) and we wound up with 67 offers on a modestly renovated 3 bdrm home with one parking spot in Toronto.

    Towards the middle of the melee (we did three rounds) my agent presented me with a bid from his own client.

    I refused to consider it.

    It was just not ethical in my mind. I told him to find another agent from his brokerage and have his client offer through that agent, which he then did.

    Why did I do that?

    Because otherwise the offer process looked dishonest. Obviously my own agent would know all the other offers and have full inside information on the bids.

    Sometimes the seller just has to say “no, you can’t do that”.

    1. question guy

      at 8:28 pm

      when I purchased my first property in 2005 the selling agent was my brother (he still is too!)… We wrote up my offer the DAY BEFORE offers were presented to avoid looking shady.

      Some agents/brokers are just more honest and I appreciate that.
      Agents/brokers that play stupid games are the real problem in R.E. circles.

    2. LucasJ

      at 9:48 pm

      Wow, good on you, totally living up to your name!

  9. Jimbo

    at 6:58 pm

    It is called sales….. If you ever travel outside the G7 will you ever be blown away how much you over pay for stuff here. You see a price, you trust it, you but it. Sales people outside the G7 love when we shop with them…..

  10. R

    at 10:20 am

    How do you know an agent is lying? Their lips are moving.

    Are we not to expect that agents like this also don’t put in fake offers to “increase leverage”? Given the lack of transparency in the system, there’s absolutely nothing preventing a selling agent putting in an offer in their own name with a price of $1. It will not be considered, but it’s legal and counts as an offer that all buyers’ agents need to be made aware of, thus pumping up “interest”, right?

    Tell me again the system isn’t broken…

  11. Jenn

    at 12:30 pm

    You guys are all so stupid.

    You expect David to tell the other agent: “We have had no interest and we’re desperate. Bring us a low offer.”

    1. Derek

      at 12:45 pm

      Is that really the only possible alternative?

      1. Jenn

        at 2:11 pm

        So he says “You’re the only appointment we’ve had.” The buyer agent connects the dots. You’re telling him without telling him.

        I don’t own a house and I probably never will but I’m like I can’t believe the comments on here. Ten readers jumped on one line from a whole post about DOM and ignores the rest

        1. Derek

          at 2:56 pm

          Is that really the only other option?

          1. TW

            at 3:31 pm

            David sees it like a game of poker, where the buyer/seller agent banter is a competition of wits. If the current guidelines don’t regulate this interaction (unlike the purchase agreement where inaccurate descriptions could land someone in hot water), who are we to say what is right and what is not. Only in Utopia would we have real estate market that is completely honest and transparent. David had a video comparing home buying with purchasing other goods like groceries. Guess what, retail goods can be affected by price fixing, trade tariffs, government subsidies, inventory dumping etc. The world is messed up and nobody can be trusted. Except for David who reliably provides entertaining and educational blog posts.

            1. CC

              at 4:16 pm

              Unfortunately we must assume that any behaviour that won’t get a realtor sanctioned is in play. Without knowing what’s real and what’s not, buyers must stick with what they would be satisfied paying and disregard all the other noise. I also read blogs like this so I can be aware of the different tactics used by realtors and not get sucked in.

    2. JF007

      at 2:07 pm


    3. LucasJ

      at 4:12 pm

      What is stupid about questioning the game David said he was playing with the other agent? We shouldn’t question the way the system currently works, and just accept that it allows for a large gray area for agents to play these games?
      Or we’re stupid for not wanting to maximize the dollar amount we get on a potential sale? If so, then shouldn’t the games that the agent was playing in Friday’s post also be totally acceptable? He was also trying to maximize the dollar amount for his client.

      What makes some games more acceptable than others? Where is it that you draw the line?

    4. Sirgruper

      at 5:52 pm

      No, we might expect David to say the listing is going as planned, that he is happy with the interest, that he expects offers shortly. I think that many were surprised by the voicing of outright falsehoods and putting it out there in writing. You don’t have to disclose the truth or provide information you don’t want to. You can paint the scene as you wish. But there is a sliding scale. I received an offer $100,000 over asking when you have no offer. I have a certified cheque in hand but you don’t. Where is the line? The falsehoods were specific and had no qualifiers. At a certain point, a false statement is questionable and certainly something most wouldn’t wish to publish. I believe that is the reaction verses questioning our intelligence. And P.S. I am so SMRT and won’t need my high school diploma anymore!

  12. Omar Ibrahim

    at 9:16 pm

    This story is partly why I surrendered my real estate license not too long ago.. no joke real estate sales is precisely like a game of Texas Hold’em

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