I sat down tonight to write a blog, and all I could think about was this past week.
It was a busy one. Busier than usual. And it kept me on my toes, and tired me out.
So with no real dedicated topic on my mind, and the effect of the last week burning a hole in my head, I figured – hey, that’s a topic in itself!
Let me explain the week that was, which I figure will accurately snapshot the current marketplace…
People often ask me, “How do you consistently come up with three ideas per week for a blog post?”
The truth is, I don’t really have an answer.
The response I give, along with a shrug, is “I dunno; I just do.”
And that really is the truth. Something always seems to come to mind.
Don’t get me wrong – every day, I ask myself, “Is this the day you finally run out of things to write about?” After eleven years, and 2,300 blog posts, I feel like one day I’ll just hit a wall, and never be able to come up with another topic.
So I was kind of sitting here, going through a list of old topics (I keep a list, but the ‘hot’ ideas find a way to the blog, whereas the top of the list always contains the same seven or eight topics from last month, or last year, that I’ll never put to print), and all I could think about was how nuts this past week was.
I started to think about, yet again, how I disagree with the sentiments out there that the market is cooling. I met with a group this past week in from New York, and they kept pointing to all this negative data – on sales, on price, on listings, and I regaled them all with stories “from the trenches,” and argued that at least in the core of the 416, the market is red-hot.
I started to think about how if I could explain, in detail, just one week of my activity in this market, how it could truly sum up what type of market we’re in.
And then, came the idea for the blog: write about THAT!
So while the last week’s events are not representative of every agent, or every buyer/seller, or every segment of the market, I figured it would give you all a real snapshot of what the activity is like out there, in different areas, price points, and housing types.
Monday was a busy day.
Sometimes in this business, you know when the day is going to be busy, and sometimes you don’t.
You can always plan for that buyer client who is absolutely jet-set on making an offer on a property with a scheduled “offer night,” but what about buyers that aren’t “all-in?”
What happens when several buyers, all who said, “We’ll see,” end up saying “We’re in” all at the same time?
On Monday morning, I knew I would be making an offer on behalf of one young couple who were eyeing a North Toronto home. Offers were scheduled for 7pm, we had our deposit cheque ready, our offer was registered, and after seeing the house during one evening the week before, and again at the open house, we were just about as “all-in” as one can be.
But before I could get to 7pm; way before, in fact, I heard from another couple who wanted to make an offer on a small rowhouse that had been languishing on the market.
When was the last time you saw a freehold on the market for 111 days?
This property was unique to say the least. It was charming, filled with character, and historical – dating back to the 1880’s. But it was tiny, and it had previously been tenanted, hence why it didn’t sell. It was also terribly over-priced, and the seller had already turned down several offers.
Listed at $799,900, we came in at $700,000, just because we could.
I had another client in the mix who had been active in the hottest part of the market: the small 1-bedroom, downtown condo market.
1-bedroom units in King West are routinely selling for over $1,000/sqft, and after seeing a unit at 11 Charlotte Street sell for $1,150/sqft a few weeks ago, I felt like anything under $1,000/sqft was reasonably-priced.
She and I had been actively looking for 500’ish square feet, around $1,000/sqft, in a new building, with a good layout. And while that sounds simple, trust me – it’s not. A good layout in 480 square feet is a misnomer. I just came from a shoebox at 111 Bathurst Street that has such a bad layout, it’s a glorified kitchen with a couch and bed.
So throughout Monday afternoon, I was periodically checking on the number of offers registered on a condo we were eyeing at 101 Peter Street, and by late-afternoon, there were none.
While this is all confusing in nature, let me summarize. Offer #1 was on the North Toronto property. Offer #2 was on the old rowhouse. Offer #3, yet to be decided on, would be the condo at 101 Peter Street. And all the while I was still monitoring new listings as they became available, preparing for upcoming listings and smashing handfuls of my special Bulk Barn mix into my pie-hole.
While monitoring new listings on Monday afternoon, I saw a dynamite new listing for a property in Cedarvale, listed just under $3,000,000, that was p-e-r-f-e-c-t for buyers of mine that had been looking for about six months.
Every buyer has specific criteria, but to what extent, is always yet to be determined.
These buyers weren’t picky, and they weren’t unreasonable. They just wanted a certain type of property, and we really hadn’t seen anything out there yet – in between work commitments, weekends out of town, and “life” that gets in the way of seeing every property listed for sale, that was worth pursuing.
So here in the middle of offer mayhem, I had to get these clients out asap to see this hot new listing.
I know it’s crazy to suggest that a house, priced at $2,899,900, would sell in a matter of hours. But in this case, I figured if we didn’t tie it up within 18-24 hours, there would be multiple offers. The same thing happened with a house down the street only weeks earlier. They were listed at $2.5M with no “offer date,” and it sold within 24 hours for $200K over list.
I sent one of my colleagues out with the buyers, and waited to hear back.
By now, there were still zero offers on 101 Peter Street, so my client decided to proceed with an offer.
We were in sign-back on Offer #2 – the small rowhouse.
And by 7:00pm, Offer #1 had been submitted. Listed at $1.5M, we were at $1.7M, and there were eight offers in total.
My clients for the Cedarvale home were absolutely in love, so that quickly became Offer #4, and we scurried to try to tie up the property. We submitted an offer by 9pm, with a 12pm irrevocable the next day, even though the listing agent was demanding a 24-hour irrevocable. We just didn’t want him to shop our offer, and didn’t want to allow time for other offers to come in.
Low-and-behold, the condo at 101 Peter Street ended up with nine offers. We submitted our offer at 7pm when there were only three offers, but six more were submitted.
Offer #1 on the North Toronto house was lost. Eight offers, and it sold for $350,000 over asking. That was $150,000 more than our bid.
Offer #2 on the small rowhouse was in another sign back, and would wait until Tuesday.
Offer #3 on the 101 Peter Street condo went nowhere. $449,900 list, our $500,000 bid didn’t hold up, although interestingly, they terminated the listing the next day.
Offer #4 on the Cedarvale home would also wait until Tuesday.
Yes, bring on Tuesday.
On Tuesday afternoon at 2:00pm, offers were being reviewed on an east-end house in which another set of buyer-clients were interested.
That 2:00pm offer time was great, since I had another offer presentation at 7:00pm, and most properties follow the same timeline!
By noon, Offer #2 on the small rowhouse was accepted, and here I had the first purchase of 7% under the list price in about eight years. As I said, it was over-priced, and on the market for 111 days, but it’s very rare to see that sold of sale-to-list ratio.
Offer #4 was still in play. We extended our irrevocable until 6:00pm, from 12:00pm, not by choice, but out of necessity. 12pm had passed, and the seller hadn’t chosen to work with the offer. We re-submitted, and hoped that no competing offers came in.
At 2:00pm, I presented Offer #5 for the east-end house.
Listed at $850,000, we were at $976,000, up against twelve other offers.
Who said the market was slow, right?
The 2:00pm presentation time was a gift from God, as the day was really heating up.
And low-and-behold, a buyer that I did not expect to hear from, with whom I had toured a west-end property with on the weekend, reached out to say, “After much discussion, we’ve decided we will proceed with an offer tonight.”
That would eventually become Offer #7, but it’s okay – offers were by email, and had to be reviewed by the estate’s lawyer overnight.
By 5:30pm, there was good news, and bad news.
The good news was, Offer #4 was accepted. This house was worth every penny of the $2,899,900 list price, probably more.
“Probably more,” he says. I know, I know. What a salesman, right?
But honestly folks, I was fully expecting the phone to ring, and hear the listing agent say, “Soooo……we have another offer registered.”
I can’t possibly tell you how many times that happens, and I had already told my clients for this house, “Be prepared.”
It didn’t happen, however, and we bought a house. A true “forever house” for these guys, and I couldn’t be happier.
So that was the good news, but the bad news is, my young buyer-couple who had bid on the east-end 3-bedroom semi had lost.
Offer #5 went down in a blaze of glory. $850,000 list, $976,000 bid – the property sold for $1,020,000. There were thirteen offers in total.
I skipped past offer #6, did I not?
That was the offer to be presented at 7:00pm, which was for a gorgeous Victorian rowhouse in need of some serious updating.
listed at $799,900, we bid $1,005,000, against eleven other offers.
The wait was not long. I enjoy working with this agent, as he represents one of perhaps a dozen listing agents in the core that I like, and naively or not, trust.
Alas, we were not successful with Offer #6.
Who would have thought that $205,000 over list – 25%, would get “soundly beat” by not one, but two other offers?
I don’t know the sale price yet, but I’m assuming it’s around $1,040,000.
Tuesday nights hopes were resting on Offer #7, for the west-end home.
Listed at $879,900, in what we know is the most difficult segment of the freehold market (as Offer #5 and Offer #6 demonstrate), we bid $1,066,000, against ten other offers.
And we waited.
We waited, overnight, which is the worst feeling a buyer can have.
All offers were submitted via email, and to be reviewed by the estate’s lawyer. A decision would be made on Wednesday morning.
And how did we do?
Did our offer of (gasp!) less than $200,000 over the list price prevail?
No. No, it did not.
The property sold for $1,101,000, and we had no regrets. It needed a lot of work, and as is always the case, we came into this thinking $1,000,000 “and change” was a good price, realized that we would have to pay far more based on the strength of the market – and the fact that nobody gets “a good price” for a house like this, and eventually settled at $1,066,000.
Sometimes you wake up the next morning feeling sick, and sometimes you laugh it off.
This one was a laugher.
I rounded out Wednesday by promptly losing Offer #8 for a fantastically unspectacular, cookie-cutter condo, up against four other offers. Listed at $579,900, we bid $601,000, and the listing is currently sold conditionally (imagine that – accepting a conditional offer in competition??), so I don’t know the price yet.
So that’s it, folks.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – eight bids on eight properties.
Two were successful.
And I wouldn’t be writing about this so openly if I thought this was a blight on me. It’s the nature of the market. You need to be active to succeed.
I told a colleague, “I was 2 for 8” this week, and he said, “Not bad eh?”
You’d think 2 for 8 is a poor performance in just about anything, but in the Toronto real estate market, especially in this hot spring market, it’s decent.
As I write this – Thursday night, I have an offer in on a “luxury” condo, but they don’t sell in the same manner, and there’s no rush, risk, or anxiety.
And we haven’t even got to Friday yet.
So what’s the take-away here? That I’m bragging about being busy like most agents, who aren’t?
No, it’s simply that in the face of Toronto Star readers who write letters to the editor, complaining about pumping the tires of the Toronto real estate market, and coming up with conspiracy theories about how the Toronto Real Estate Board pays the media to be positive, I wanted to demonstrate what one week is like during the current market cycle.
This isn’t representative of the whole of Toronto. I’m talking about the core of the 416. Strip away 905, trim the fat from the 416 – and that is the area that’s red-hot.
The six properties that had multiple offers this week had 8, 9, 13, 12, 11, and 5 offers respectively.
That is the market I see out there today.
Maybe it will change come April, when listings should be plentiful. But better weather and more listings also brings more buyers, so it might just be more of the same.
Here’s looking forward to a busy weekend ahead, with a ton of east-end showings, a stop at the Shangri-La, a quick jaunt into Leaside, and a tour of everything between Keele & Jane just to cap it off.
Have a great weekend, everybody!