Timing, Due Diligence, Perseverance…


5 minute read

July 16, 2008

Real estate attracts all the typical buzz words and catch phrases: red-hot, fast-paced, cut-throat

But the market is anything but formulaic, and most situations call for a different approach.

The perfect property can come and go in a moment…..if you’re not watching like a hawk…


I golfed with my brother this past weekend and he claims that I am the king of using golf-cliches.

“Put a good swing on the ball.”

“Don’t try and do too much with it!”

“Let the club do all the work!”

But you know what?  The term “cliche” is really a cliche of it’s own.  These phrases are true and useful if you allow them to be, otherwise people wouldn’t say them to the point of over-use!

Real estate is like that as well.

I’ve been telling one client of mine that “We need to be patient” and “good things come to those who wait.”  He’s been looking for a condo for about four months now, and while we lost out on a unit in multiple offers, we haven’t seen much that we like.

There are hundreds and hundreds of buildings in the downtown core, but we really narrowed it down to a half-dozen at most.  While we keep looking at condos that just don’t suit him, I encourage him, “Don’t accept less than you really want,” and then add, “There is a condo for every person, but there are condos that don’t have a person for them.  But those condos still sell!”

I’ve also been telling him, “No new listings get by me.  None.”  I told him, “You’re in good hands!  Trust me!”  But whether you believe someone or not when they say, “I’m always looking, 24/7, 365,” this proved to be the case last weekend.  The only reason we got the condo was because circumstances were perfect, and we were both on the lookout when nobody else was.

Consider that while Friday is a slow day in many industries, it is notoriously slow in real estate.  Why would you bring a new listing onto the market and list it on MLS when you know the day is typically slow?

Last Friday at 2:30PM, a new unit came onto the market that was perfect for my client, Mike.

The only problem was: we didn’t know it was perfect at the time.  In fact, we didn’t know what it was at all!

The reason?  The unit came onto MLS and the address was “270 Wellington Street East.”  The unit number: it didn’t say.


How can you list a condo without putting down the unit number??!?  Well, it happens from time to time, as certain Realtors or companies have no clue what they’re doing.

Mike has been holding out for a unit at 270 Wellington Street since we first started, in fact, the very first unit we ever saw was in this building, and it was perfect!  But he had just started his search, he hadn’t been approved for a mortgage, and he hadn’t the first clue about real estate.  He wasn’t ready to buy at the time, but as we continued searching over the next few months, our minds kept drifting back to “the first place we saw.”

I knew that there was a chance that this unit at 270 Wellington Street, with no unit number might be what Mike was looking for.  Oh, and I should also mention there were no photos on MLS, and no description.

At 2:35PM on Friday, I had the listing agent paged and he returned my call surprisingly fast.  I asked him which unit number it was, and he told me.  But I didn’t tell him there was no unit number on MLS because the last thing I wanted him to do was correct it and have other agents see this unit for sale!

I called Mike and told him that we needed to see this place ASAP, and that I had a feeling it’s identical to the first place we ever saw in that building.  I told him to make him self available on Saturday, all day.

I did some investigating, and it turns out that this unit was the exact same layout as the one Mike kept dreaming about from months earlier, and it was one level below that unit.  The price was perfect, and actually seemed to be a few thousand dollars lower than I would have figured.

I knew that I would be the first agent showing this unit on Saturday afternoon, since it was tenanted and required 24 hours notice to show.

I also knew that the unit was under-priced, and that 5-6 showings on Saturday would no doubt produce at least one offer.

So I prepared an offer in advance and met Mike on Saturday.

We were inside the unit for probably four seconds before he and I both knew, “This is the one.”

We spent about five minutes inside the condo, both trying to convince ourselves that we were “inspecting” the unit, but really we already had our minds made up.

Mike signed the offer, and I faxed it to to the listing agent at 4PM on Saturday—24 hours after the listing came onto the market, and immediately after the very first showing of the property.

I waited, and waited.  But nobody called me back.

The listing brokerage, which shall remain nameless, is actually a commercial real estate firm with a very small residential division.  It occurred to me that perhaps these people didn’t work on weekends!  A real estate agent that doesn’t work on weekends?  That’s a like a hockey player who doesn’t play hockey during winter!

Late on Sunday afternoon, the listing agent called me back.  I had paged her FOUR times up to that point, and she told me that “nothing will be done with the offer that day.”  My fears were confirmed, and I began to worry about all the Realtors showing the property on Sunday.  She told me that NINE showings were booked on Sunday so far, and that she expected lots of interest.

I began to worry that on Monday morning, 2-3 Realtors would be faxing offers on the property to the listing agent’s office, and that we would be in a multiple offer scenario.  The unit was listed for $304,900, and I figured it should have been priced at $309,900.  I would have had no problem advising Mike to pay $309,900 or even slightly more, but I wanted to avoid all that.

I told the listing agent that I was sitting next to my client and we were going around looking at condos since he wanted to tie something up that night!  In actual fact, I was on the 15th tee at Maples of Ballantrae with my brother.  I asked her to have her client change “anything and everything” and fax a sign-back to my office.  As long as she signed it back, I knew there was an offer on the table, and I could drag this into Monday knowing that I could firm the deal up at any time and prevent another agent or agents from selling the unit.

It worked; she signed it back.

And we had the ball in our court, and breathed a sigh of relief.

On Monday morning, the listing agent informed me that there were THREE other Realtors waiting to see what happened with our offer…..since they were holding offers of their own!

On Monday afternoon, we firmed up the deal.  Mike had his condo—the exact one he had been beating himself up for not buying four months earlier, and we had effectively put $5,000 into his pocket since the inevitable multiple offer scenario never took place.

The moral of the story: timing, due-diligence, and perseverance pays off.

Had we not been scouring MLS every single day, including late on a Friday, we never would have come across this unit.

Had we not investigated this “mystery unit” with no unit-number, photos, or description, we never would have known what it really was.

And had we not waited with undying patience for the right unit, we might have jumped on something less-than-perfect.

People say the summer is “slow” in real estate.

Not from my perspective.  Not even close…

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

Find Out More About David Read More Posts

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1 Comment

  1. Hon

    at 9:48 am

    Agent/Seller/Developer mis-pricing do occur. It could be to attract multiple offers or to make a quick sale or a host of other reasons. Regardless, the truly informed and educated buyer monitors the market 24 X7, know value when they see it and always on the look out.

    Such opportunity comes maybe once a year if ever, even in hot market.

    I came across a great value buy in early August 2006 just before the long weekend. The unit – a 19th floor N & E corner unit with unobstructed panoramic city and lake view, 1000 sf, 2bm, 2 full bath, floor to ceiling 9 ft window, 10ft X 20ft terrace to boot, premium parking + locker – was listed at $369k and located right in the heart of the city.

    I couldn’t believe the price! Right away I knew this unit was worth at least $400k with all the attributes to appreciate much, much higher because it was one of a kind unit – great layout, fantastic unobstructed view, good size island kitchen, very desirable 10 x 20 terrace and so on.

    I moved with dispatch and offered the vendor $369k their full asking price. But the vendor wanted more so I signed back at $375k which the vendor accepted.

    Of course, it helps that I know the building and the true value of the units throughout the building. In any condo building, I figutred only about 1-5% of the units are very desirable and outstanding that will see greater appreciation and sell for more per square foot than the average units.

    Great value can also be found in pre-construction condo. But you have to do a lot of digging, homework, be patience and know value when you see it. Such an opportunity was presented in July 2007 when I purchase a developer mis-price penthouse unit for at least 15% less than it true value.

    I’m not a real estate agent but an educated and informed buyer who been through 3 toronto real estate – the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s.

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

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