What Does 21 Offers On A Listing Look Like?


11 minute read

March 23, 2022

Somebody asked me once, “What is the most number of offers you’ve ever had a on a listing?”

I honestly don’t know.

And I’m a stats guy who is OCD and loves spreadsheets.

But for some reason, I don’t have that tally.

I could probably estimate.  I don’t think I’ve ever had 30+ offers on a listing before, but I can recall many in the 20’s.

Price, location, and property type haven’t seemed to make a difference.

I’ve had 20+ offers on listings over $2M and 20+ offers on listings at $499,000.

I’ve had 20+ offers on properties located downtown, east, and west.

And I’ve had 20+ offers on both condos and houses.

Don’t get me wrong: this is not a badge of honour.  In fact, the old-school way of thinking would say that an agent who receives 20+ offers on a listing is guilty of mispricing.

Now, we know that’s not exactly true today, since we all under-price as a sort of “starting bid price” and hold an offer date.  But regardless, I’m not one of the agents out there that thinks it’s cool to get 40 offers, or sets out to do so.  I won’t advertise this, nor will I get a lawn-sign rider made that says, “SOLD WITH 44 OFFERS!”

Call me a softie, but when I have twenty-one offers on a listing, I know that twenty people are going to be disappointed that night, and it sucks.  More to the point, I know, because of the stories we’ve told here on TRB over the last few years, that a handful of those buyers will be absolutely crushed when they see the sale price and how much they lost by.  Some will be embarrassed.  But others will be angry and look to blame “the market” or “investors,” and talk about how the market “should” provide for A, B, and C.

Unlike many agents in Toronto, I don’t revel in the glory of being a listing agent who receives twenty-one offers and plays God.

My job is to sell the property with the best possible terms and ensure that I respect everybody in the process.  I go out of my way to ensure the buyer agents submitting offers on my listings speak to me personally and don’t feel “rejected,” per se.

The property I want to talk about today shall remain nameless.

It was in the west end.  Or east.  Or Mimico.  Or something like that.

My clients had a “bottom line” of $1,100,000, based on absolutely nothing, of course.  It was merely a number they had chosen and because I’m in sales, and good with numbers, I can make an argument that its’ worth more, or less.

To say this is worth less, I could look at detached bungalows on large lots are selling for, which is primarily land value, but given our property was a semi-detached raised bungalow, the comparable would work in favour of a lower value.

To say this is worth more, oh, I dunno, I could simply check in with my gut, look at what’s happening in the market, and tell buyers, agents, and market onlookers, “supply and demand, folks!”

Suffice it to say, a well-timed, well-presented listing will always have upside rather than downside.

We repaired, decluttered, cleaned, and staged the house.

We chose to list at $898,900, despite the seller suggesting that this is too low and that $999,900 would be so much closer to their $1,100,000 target.

In my mind, my goal was $1,200,000 all along.  That’s not a crazy price for the house, all things considered, and based on some of our other sales, I thought that was quite doable.

Of course, there was always a possibility that we get more.

$1,250,000 wasn’t out of the question.

And by the time the listing was underway, I would never say never to something approaching $1,300,000.

We had a whopping 86 showings on the property in the week that it was listed.

We hosted a public open house for the first time since before the pandemic, and we had about 15 groups on Saturday and 25 groups on Sunday.  Many of these were buyers with agents who didn’t officially book a showing, and many were buyers coming back for their second or third look.

There were, surprisingly, only 8 agents who asked for a copy of the home inspection.

During the course of the week, I received at least thirty phone calls from agents asking the same-old, same-old; “What price do you expect?

I’ve written far too much about this already in 2022, so we’ll just leave it there.

Offer day came, and at 9:30am, I sent out an “Offer Instructions” email to the 86 agents who had shown the property.

I run hot and cold with these emails.  At times, I think they are presumptuous, and agents will send out these emails in cool markets and act like they have leverage, when they end up with zero offers in the end.  But in times like this, they are very, very necessary.

This is how my offer instructions email looks:

Dear Colleagues:

Thank you for showing our listing at (address)

If your clients are not interested in submitting an offer this evening, please disregard this email, and we wish you continued success in this busy spring market!

For those with interested clients, here are the particulars:

  • There are currently no offers registered.
  • We will not be representing any buyers of our own.
  • There is no survey for the property.
  • Offers will be reviewed tonight at 7:00pm, by email to davidfleming@bosleyrealestate.com
  • Please register your offer by 5:00pm by uploading Form 801 through BrokerBay or calling 416-322-8000 to register with front desk.
  • The sellers would prefer a closing date mid-to-end June.
  • Bosley requires a deposit cheque “Herewith.”  Please provide a scan or photo of the cheque.  Please note the payee is “Bosley – Toronto Realty Group Inc. In Trust”
  • Carson Dunlop home inspection is available – please email for a copy.
  • Registered offers will be updated through BrokerBay.  Please do not call for an update on offers; you will be emailed via BrokerBay as subsequent offers are registered.
  • We are not in a position to advise on sellers’ expectations on price, or comparable sales to consider.

Any questions, please let us know!


Tell me I’m a jerk for noting that “we are not in a position to advise on sellers’ expectations on price, or comparable sales to consider,” but it’s a necessity right now.

Having said that, I still received a dozen calls to this effect on offer day.

That email was sent out to buyer agents at about 9:45am.

Here’s an exact timeline for day:

9:58am – I receive a text message from an agent (I think it was an agent….) no name, no identifier, that says, “Hi Don: I might have an offer for you tonight.”  If this is a sign of things to come, it’s not a good one.

10:03am – An agent emails for a copy of the home inspection.

11:05am – An agent emails for a copy of the home inspection.

11:07am – An agent calls to say his client will only offer if there are less than five offers, so to take down his number and call him at 7pm.  I said that I would not do so, and he hung up on me.

11:15am – An agent calls to ask if I can send him a PDF copy of the MLS listing, which is very odd, unless he’s from a different board.  Then again, does he not have an admin who can do this?

11:32am – An agent emails for a copy of the home inspection.

11:35am – An agent emails to ask what the preferred closing date is, despite this being included in the “Offer Instructions.”

11:40am – An agent calls to ask, “What is your client’s desired price?”  My response was, “I cannot give you any guidance on price,” which I reiterated twice as he asked the question two more times in different ways.

11:45am – An agent calls to say that his client can offer $999,999 and to call him at 7pm if this is going to work.  I told him that this isn’t how offers work and that if he wants to make an offer, he may do so by 7pm.  He thanked me, and hung up.  I did not hear from him again.

12:16am – An agent emails to ask if there is a survey, which there was not, as detailed in the “Offer Instructions.”

12:38pm – An agent texts to ask for a copy of the home inspection to be emailed to him, but doesn’t include his name, or more importantly, email.  I do nothing.  I never hear back.

2:22pm – 1st offer registered

2:23pm – An agent calls to ask if there’s a survey.

2:42pm – 2nd offer registered

2:56pm – Another agent calls to ask what the sellers’ preferred closing date is.

3:14pm – An agent emails to ask what the easement on the property is.  This is a standard easement for Bell Telephone that runs with all properties.

3:17pm – An agent called me and said, “I already know the answer to this question, but I have to ask: does $1 Million have any shot?”  I told him that I hadn’t answered those questions for anybody, all week, and it wouldn’t be fair to do so now, but, if I were the buyer agent, I wouldn’t make that offer.  I think he got the conversation out of his system.  I didn’t hear from him again.

3:21pm – 3rd offer registered

3:25pm – The agent who registered offer #2 calls to ask, “Do you expect any more offers?”  Well,l I mean, it’s 3:25pm.  We have 3 1/2 hours to go.  I tell him, “Yes, I expect many more offers.”  He seems disappointed.

3:38pm – 4th offer registered

3:58pm – 5th offer registered

4:40pm – 6th offer registered

4:43pm – 7th offer registered

4:46pm – 8th offer registered

4:47pm – Offer is submitted, but not registered with the brokerage:

$1,150,000 purchase price
$80,000 deposit – no cheque
Financing condition

4:55pm – 9th offer registered

4:59pm – 10th offer registered

5:00pm – The agent that emailed me the offer at 4:47pm calls to ask, “How are we looking?”  I told him offers were at 7pm.  He didn’t seem fazed.

5:03pm – 11th offer registered

5:04pm – 12th offer registered

5:16pm – 13th offer registered

5:18pm – 14th offer registered

5:21pm – 15th offer registered

5:45pm – Offer submitted from Agent #13:

$1,150,000 purchase price
$60,000 deposit – with bank draft
No conditions

5:32pm – Offer submitted from Agent #5.

$1,100,000 purchase price
$50,000 deposit – no cheque
No conditions

5:33pm – 16th offer registered

5:34pm – Offer submitted from Agent #16:

$1,250,000 purchase price
$65,000 deposit – with bank draft
No conditions
Personal letter attached

He also emailed all his buyer agency paperwork with the listing, by mistake.

5:38pm – Offer submitted from Agent #14:

$1,200,000 purchase price
$100,000 deposit – with bank draft
No conditions

5:41pm – Offer submitted from Agent #11:
$1,100,000 purchase price
$65,000 deposit – with bank draft
No conditions

5:42pm – I received this text message:

This is just one of several messages like it that I received on this day, but I’m one of those people who clear all my text messages as soon as I no longer need to action them (again, my OCD taking over), so I no longer have those messages to share.  Suffice it to say, I could have provided a lot more of these bizarre messages.

What’s bizarre about this?

Well, the person says that he or she sent me an offer and asks if I received it.


No name, no brokerage, nothing.

This is how a lot of agents communicate…

5:42pm – Offer submitted from an agent who hasn’t registered.  We register her as Agent #17:

$1,251,000 purchase price
$50,000 deposit – no cheque
No conditions

5:43pm – Offer submitted from Agent #6:

$1,150,000 purchase price
$100,000 deposit – with bank draft
No conditions
Waiving $22,800 in commission (buying for her kids)
Personal letter attached

5:46pm – Agent #16 revises $1,250,000 offer and re-submits at $1,275,000, unsolicited

5:52pm – Offer submitted from Agent #8:

$1,306,500 purchase price
$50,000 deposit – with bank draft
No conditions

5:52pm – 18th offer registered

5:53pm – Offer submtited from Agent #18:

$1,225,000 purchase price
$40,000 deposit – no cheque
No conditions

6:02pm – Offer submitted from Agent #7:

$1,265,888 purchase price
$65,000 deposit – no cheque
No conditions

6:16pm – Offer submitted from Agent #3:

$1,185,000 purchase price
$100,000 deposit – with bank draft
No conditions

6:28pm – We register the offer submitted at 4:47pm as the 19th registered offer

6:34pm – Offer submitted from Agent #4:

$1,200,000 purchase price
$40,000 deposit – no cheque
No conditions

6:37pm – Offer submitted from Agent #2:

$1,310,000 purchase price
$100,000 deposit – with bank draft
No conditions

6:39pm – Offer submtited from Agent #9:

$1,109,000 purchase price
$20,000 deposit – with bank draft
No conditions

6:40pm – Offer submitted from Agent #20:

$1,100,000 purchase price
$50,000 deposit – no cheque
No conditions

This was the agent shit-talking the property at the open house…

6:41pm – 20th offer registered

6:42pm – 21st offer registered

6:47pm – Offer submitted from Agent #21:

$1,200,111 purchase price
$65,000 deposit – no cheque
No conditions

6:54pm – Offer submitted from Agent #1:

$1,150,000 purchase price
$57,000 deposit – no cheque
No conditions

6:55pm – An agent emails me to say, “David you were right, you told me ‘there could be twenty offers, and there are!  Thanks, good luck!”

6:56pm – Offer submitted from Agent #12:

$1,305,000 purchase price
$50,000 deposit – with bank draft
No conditions

7:04pm – Offer submitted from Agent #10:

$1,100,000 puchase price
$50,000 deposit – no cheque
No conditions

7:05pm – An agent emails me to say, “My client loves this property, please do what you can to make sure we get it!”  Their offer is for $1,150,000 and is not close.

7:06pm – An agent emails to ask for an update.  Six minutes after offers were to be reviewed.

7:30pm – Offer submitted from Agent #15:

$1,250,000 purchase price
$65,000 deposit – no cheque
No conditions

And that was that.

I’m missing a lot of other interactions with agents, but I typed this after scrolling through emails, my call log, and whatever text messages I hadn’t deleted.  I’d say you can safely multiply those interactions by three, and that’s about right for the day.

All told, we had 21 offers.

1 offer was conditional.  ONE!  Out of twenty-one!  Bravo to the market, that’s exceptional!

10 offers were accompanied by deposit cheques in the form of a bank draft.  That’s not bad, considering.

What I did find odd, however, was the closing dates offered.

My offer instructions email said “mid-to-end of June,” and yet I received 2 offers with closing dates in April.  Hey, to each their own, right?  Offer whatever you want!  But when you’re up against twenty competitors, you want to make your offer as strong as possible, and asking for a 30-day closing when the seller wants 90+ is an odd ask.  We had 7 offers with May closing dates as well.

Listed at $899,900, the lowest offer was $1,100,000.  Four people made that offer, and one agent came in at $1,109,000.

$1,150,000 was a popular number as well, with four buyers coming in at that number.

12 of the 21 offers were between $1,100,000 and $1,200,000, including two at $1,200,000 even.

But the top three offers set themselves apart from the rest:


And here’s where half of you hate me and half of you let me do my job.

We called the other eighteen agents and thanked them for their offers, but let them know that we were working with three offers at the very top, and then we did, in fact “work with” those three offers at the top.

Much of the general public, at this point, would demand that we simply accept the “winning bid” of $1,310,000.

But that’s not how real estate works.

Those three buyers all had different deposit amounts, different closing dates, and different clauses.  One of the three didn’t have a deposit cheque.  All three told me in conversation during the day, “If I’m close, I really want another chance to improve.”

Who am I to deny them of that?

Look, I get it.  Real estate is prohibitively expensive in the city of Toronto, and many blame agents for “driving up the price.”

But unlike the agents who would send all twenty-one buyers back to improve, which is a shitty thing to do, I am to run a fair process, BUT, work for my seller in the process.

Is my seller going to say “no” to more than $1,310,000?  Of course not!

And anybody reading this, who disagrees with the way real estate is sold, would be a liar if they said they didn’t want the most for their home.

I called all three agents and said, “You’re within five grand of eachother, bring your absolute best, and we’re taking the highest, even if one dollar separates them.”

$1,310,000 improved to $1,321,000

$1,306,000 improved to $1,321,500.

$1,305,000 improved to $1,350,000.

And that was that.

Had $1,305,000 stayed where they were, for argument’s sake, we’d have taken $1,321,500 and the buyer and buyer agent at $1,321,000 would have had a really tough time swallowing that.  I’d have got a call the next day; “You didn’t send me back?”

As a buyer agent, you expect the listing agent to accept your offer if you’re the highest, but give you another shot to improve if you’re in second place or worse.  That’s the Catch-22 that buyer agents just can’t seem to get over.

The buyer brought the deposit cheque to our office at 11:15pm, we updated MLS, and the “SOLD” sign went up the next day.

That’s what twenty-one offers on a property looks like.

Or, it’s not.  At all.

It’s what it looks like when my team is listing a property.

Because every single listing agent in the city runs his or her offer process differently.  There are a lot of similarities, and you hope that more agents are respectful and thankful than not, but work in this business long enough, and you’ll simply grow to expect the worst.

So then, what’s the best part of this story?  What’s the worst part?

I’m all ears, even if we agree to disagree…

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. Derek

    at 11:05 am

    I’d hire you.

  2. Jennifer

    at 1:13 pm

    What i see is that the third person overpaid by $28,499. What you said was we’re taking the highest, even if one dollar separates them. First, this contradicts what you said above about different closing dates, deposits, etc. Then, based on your instructions, they could have gotten it for $1,321,501 …… If being more realistic maybe $1,330,000 or around there, but probably did not have to go to 1.35. This is what makes the market go up in stupid amounts, since this is now the new base level on the street. If this was open bidding, maybe the other two were tapped out, or maybe it would have gone over 1.35, or maybe somewhere in between, but at least you know.

    1. SL

      at 3:49 pm

      I live in Vancouver. Based on my property assessment alone, the value of my house increased at a rate of $29,000 per month last year.

      I don’t necessarily disagree with your assessment but based on the above the winning buyers over-payment may have only been out by a month in terms of the escalating value of the property.

      1. Jennifer

        at 9:35 am

        but it escalates this quickly because of this practice happening over and over again. this one is close so not that offensive, but ive heard of other stories where the first person is > $100,000 from where the second bidder is.

        1. Mxyzptlk

          at 7:38 am

          People are free to bid what they want. You have not explained why that’s such a terrible thing.

    2. Libertarian

      at 9:56 am

      I’m surprised David asked those 3 bidders to go back. He’s told us that his normal practice it to tell buyer agents that he doesn’t have a second round, so every offer should be their absolute best. He then used the “best offer” in the second round. I’m not sure why David changed his practice for this one.

      I am

      1. Condodweller

        at 12:56 pm

        He is just being fair to the agents so that they don’t loose the deal by a small amount. I thought telling them they were within 5k is reasonable as he didn’t have to do that. Granted, that was after receiving bids well in excess of his performed FMV.

    3. Bryan

      at 11:59 am

      The trouble with this argument is that the inherent assumption is that neither buyer 1 nor buyer 2 would move up $9k if buyer 3 went up to $1,330,000 if they were given the option (as they would be in open bidding). I would actually argue that open bidding tends to push prices even higher in a lot of cases! Auction houses use open bidding not because it is more fair, but because it pushes prices up. I think it is quite likely that if buyer 3 had seen the bids of buyers 1 and 2 and offered $1,330,000 as you say, that one or both of buyers 1 and 2 would have then said “let’s not lose this house over $9k when we are already at $1.3M” and bid again. Heck, if buyers 1 and 2 had seen buyer 3’s bid of $1,350,000 and been given the opportunity to bid again, they may have said “let’s not lose this house over $25k when we are already at $1.32M”!

      Generally speaking (not just for real estate as there is very little data on open bidding), when one offer is significantly higher than all others, it is likely that open bidding would result in a lower selling price, but in the 90% of cases that the offers are reasonably close together (like they were here), open bidding tends to increase the selling price…. often drastically.

      1. Mxyzptlk

        at 7:40 am

        Yes, exactly. Jennifer and those who agree with her need a primer on human psychology.

        1. Jennifer

          at 2:02 pm

          @Mxyzptlk i said it may have been higher or lower, so I agree with Bryan. I dont agree that 90% are close. Sounds like you need a primer on how to value a house.

      2. Jennifer

        at 1:59 pm

        i did say that it may have been higher or lower, but at least you get transparency. At the end of the day, you cant just keep going up and up and up – people have budgets and hopefully some logic where they realize the house is not worth more than X cause I can go down the street and get a similar one for less.
        Someone has commented below about being more than $100K under the winning bid yet they were still sent back to improve and was in the top 3. These situations are common.
        Do you have facts to support that 90% are close (within 5-10K)? I find that hard to believe.

  3. Homer Simpson

    at 2:45 pm

    lol @ asking to “improve” a 1.3M offer, in other words….let’s milk the buyer to the very last drop ????

  4. JF007

    at 3:33 pm

    @Jennifer@Homer would you have done any different had you been the seller of the said house don’t we want to get the best for what we have to offer…i feel negatives come out once people become the buyer and are on the other side of the table..and yes David if i do decide to sell my North York condo expect a call from me as well 🙂

    1. Homer Simpson

      at 12:56 pm

      hahaha Yea ur probably right, if I was the seller I would probably try to milk the buyer to the max too ????
      Good luck to everyone who got milked or is doing the milking! LOLLLL

    2. Condodweller

      at 1:37 pm

      David wrote a post on a family where the seller came back to them and asked for $1 over the highest bid to sell them the house which was below their highest bid as I recall. There was another article on CBC where the owners were selling their own home and indicated they were happy with FMV for their home. There is no shortage of people who don’t want to squeeze every last drop off blood out of a buyer. I also belong to that group. If someone offered me $200,000 more than my place was worth I wouldn’t feel the need to put the screws to that person. OTOH I’m sure there are lots of people, some perhaps out of necessity, who would. It would be interesting to see a poll on this.

  5. Appraiser

    at 9:22 am

    The best part of the story of course is that the seller received top dollar for their property, their preferred closing date and a firm deal.

    By my calculations the difference in price between the accepted offer and the second best bid ($28,500) covered 42% of the commission on the deal (assuming 5% total commission).

    1. Condodweller

      at 1:03 pm

      Right. That’s not even enough to cover the buyer’s commission, never mind his own. Ironically, with increasing prices, it’s becoming more and more difficult for agents to “earn their keep”.

      1. JF007

        at 2:14 pm

        this is a very good question on the “earning the keep”…On one hand a buyers agent probably is working with clients on 10-15 houses/properties and remains unsuccessful and can probably expect to get that 2.5% for the amount of time and effort being put in while on the other hand a seller’s agent seems to be making merry with lot less effort compared to buyer agent so how does one justify a 2.5% commission on 2 million dollar property or a 750K condo..

  6. Keith

    at 2:12 pm

    Warren Buffett has a standing offer to buy any privately owned business. He loves to buy a profitable family business with growth prospects and allow owners to cash out, stay involved in their life’s work with a small ownership stake, and build his empire.

    In his offer letter, it states that if his offer is onetime and final. If the offer is “shopped,” it is cancelled. “Berkshire Hathaway will not participate in an auction.” Buffett is very well aware of the role of emotion in finances, and seeks to eliminate.

    The worst part of your story is that multiple offers are worse than an auction, it’s a blind auction which is why prices are so high in real estate. You cannot blame a seller or their agent for maximizing the price by any legal means available, but it is a sad state of the world when an ordinarily stressful and emotional process is amplified beyond reason and room for unethical behaviour becomes common business practice. I feel very sorry for purchasers in today’s market, but the lesson is to choose your agent very wisely.

    1. Appraiser

      at 5:04 pm

      When 20 out of 21 buyers lose, there’s lots of room for sour grapes, conspiracy theories and unbounded allegations of dirty business dealings.

      1. Deborah

        at 9:14 pm

        well the process is completely opaque so it’s understandable that some can feel like they’re being taken for a ride. There’s sketchiness in every industry and sales is no exception.

        1. Appraiser

          at 5:08 am

          21 offers, 1 house. Lots of people upset. Go figure.

          So it’s not a supply issue, it’s a sketchiness issue. Got it.

    2. Mxyzptlk

      at 5:10 pm

      Warren Buffett is a multibillionaire who gives a pittance, relatively speaking, to causes other than himself and his family. He is by no means the altruist you’re trying to make him out to be.

  7. Jess

    at 8:13 am

    David, I really appreciate that you disclosed to the top 3 that they were within 5K of each other.

    As a buyer who has been told I’m “in the top 3” many times, but with no info like you mentioned, it’s hard to gauge what to do based on what we can afford. Most times in these situations the selling agent has been very vague and the winning bid after the Top 3 are given a second chance has been $100K or $150K over our initial bid.

  8. House Keys

    at 10:33 am

    @David, the worst part of this story is how archaic and un-automated this system is, subject to human error / laziness. Is there not a way to take out half of these interactions and save time?
    – Online portal where people can download the key documents (PDF of listing, home inspection, etc.), instead of having to email you and you respond (2 less emails for you). They have to register, and you’re sent an alert about who has viewed these items
    – Online portal to submit offers, where both sides receive a text/email when submitted, so you don’t get random confirmation texts. It requires input of key items, so you don’t receive half-baked offers. You can then easily output the results for your clients.

    I know stupid people will still fail to use the system. I guess the downside is that you give up a bit of control over the process without these interactions. Thoughts?

    1. Cautious buyer

      at 9:52 am

      As you noted – hard to entirely eliminate stupidity.

  9. Go1Mr

    at 5:44 pm

    Keep sharing

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

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