Yes No Maybe


5 minute read

June 4, 2012

This story represents a “first” for me.

A buyer was all set to offer on one of my listings, until she saw the very next property, and bought it instead…

It’s tough to come up with “firsts” in this business, because you start to feel like you’ve seen it all.

But here is a story that you’d have to see to believe, or in my case, be a part of.

Whenever I have a listing for a house or condo, and it goes into the MLS system, I get a LOT of emails from from people who have questions or want to see the property.  A pure salesperson would call these “leads” and qualify and quantify them, but in reality, I know that a lot of these emails are just time-wasters.

Some of the most incredible stories are borne out of these “sign calls,” as they’re referred to, from the old idea of “calling on a ‘for sale’ sign.”

I get people who email me and say things like, “I’d like to offer $300,000 for this property, please let me know if I should contact you,” when it’s a house listed at $450,000.

I get a lot of attempts at fraud and identity thefts, from the same people who send those emails that say, “My name is Wexford Smythe III and I need to use your bank account to transfer the sum of $10,000,000 from my financial institution in Bermuda…”

And I get a lot of buyers who actually have real estate agents working for them, but those agents don’t feel like actually WORKING and tell their clients to pester the listing agents.

So, from time to time, I pass these “leads” on to a couple younger colleagues of mine, who weed through them, and try to find honest, reputable clients.

A short while ago, I had four listings at the same time, which is a rare occurrence for me.  I usually have one at any time, but I think having four is a definite first.

I needed help, and thus I passed on a lot of these sign-calls to my colleague, who we’ll call Cassandra.

Cassandra took a lot of sign calls, and as usual, told me there were some interesting characters!

She showed one condo to a buyer that had a family member in North Bay working as their “agent,” one to a woman who she figured was homeless, one to a guy that thought she was an escort, and another to a family of eight that didn’t speak a word of English and communicated through hand signals and grunts.

Yeah.  So you want to be a rookie Realtor, do you?

After digging through about twenty sign-calls from the great-unwashed, Cassandra finally met a young girl who was genuinely interested in a listing of mine down by the waterfront.

At the risk of divulging addresses, names, places, dates, and prices – let’s just say that the first condo was on Stadium (even though it’s not), and the second condo was on Queen (even though it wasn’t).

Cassandra took the young lady to see the condo on Stadium, and she absolutely loved it.

Listed at $379,900, she fell in love.  Literally.

Cassandra and the young-buyer sat on the couch in this condo for almost a full hour and just chatted away about life, work, and real estate, and after all was said and done, the young buyer wanted to make an offer.

However, and it was a big ‘however,’ she didn’t want to be accused of jumping at the first property she saw.  More to the point, she didn’t want to be an ‘easy mark,’ since she had just met Cassandra a few hours earlier, so she said, “Before I make an offer on this condo, I want to see something else!”

She added, “This condo is listed at $379,900, and before I make decision, I’d like to see another condo listed at $379,900.  That would help me pull the trigger.”

It made sense, right?

It’s not necessarily that she was looking for “what else is out there,” but rather looking for reassurance that the condo she was about to buy was accurately priced and valued in relation to other available properties.

My colleague was ready to act, but without an I-Pad and or a kick-ass MLS-app that hasn’t yet been invented for Blackberry, Cassandra didn’t quite know what to do.

That’s when she messaged me and asked, “What the heck do I do?”

Ironically, I had another listing at the exact same price – $379,900, and it was right around the corner on Queen Street.

If we were just talking “for comparison’s sake,” then this was the perfect condo.  The price was identical, but the comparison ended there.  The former was a 1-bedroom waterfront suite, and the latter was a 2-bedroom unit in an older building with a lot of square footage but no outdoor space.

I gave Cassandra the lockbox code, wished her luck, and sent her on her way.

What followed next could only be described as “a first.”

The young buyer was completely smitten with the waterfront unit, don’t forget.

She was only looking at the Queen Street unit to get a sense of what else was available.


….can you guess what happened next?

If you can’t, well, then you clearly aren’t following.  I’ve never been good at keeping secrets, or trying to deftly allude to a conclusion without giving it away.  Just ask my kids’ baseball team about last month when I told them about my co-coach, “Gents, listen up – Tucker isn’t coming to the game tonight.  He’s in South Carolina with his girlfriend, and, well, the thing is, I don’t want to give it away, but let’s just say that when he comes back, he’ll be a lot lighter in the wallet, and you’ll be telling him ‘congratulations,’ and shaking his hand.”  Yeah, they sniffed that one out in about four seconds.  Congrats, Tuck!

So as you could guess, the young buyer LOVED the Queen Street condo, and said, “This is the one.”

It was only moments earlier that she said the same thing about the waterfront condo, also priced at $379,900!

Cassandra began to wonder if this young buyer was actually sincere, or if she was some nut that was just going around the city looking at real estate and wanting to buy every single property she set foot in!

But that didn’t prove to be the case once the young buyer signed on offer and actually got in the game.

Of course, the offer was for $370,000, which I scoffed at, and simply told my colleague, “See that number at the top of the MLS listing – the one that says $379,900?  Yeah, that’s the price that should be on the offer…”

The young buyer came up to the asking price, and only two hours after setting foot into the Queen Street condo for the first time, she had bought the unit.

Who could have possibly seen this coming?

This young buyer had no intention of buying this unit.  She had no clue it even existed!  She had now actually purchased a condo that she was really only visiting to use as a measuring stick for the waterfront unit.


Or “love at first sight?”

A cynic would say that this young buyer would have bought anything, and perhaps didn’t do her due diligence.

A romantic would call this love at first sight, and say that the young buyer knew what she wanted as soon as she saw it.

Regardless, my clients for the Queen Street property were shocked and amazed that they sold their condo for full-price after only two days on the market (in a building that generally doesn’t sell quickly), but had to ask “are you serious” once I told them where the buyer came from.

It just goes to show you – buyers can come from anywhere.

You might get one call on a print advertisement in the Globe & Mail real estate section, but what if that one call produces a sale?

There could be twenty people through the open-house – nineteen of which are nosey neighbours, but what if that one interested party makes an offer?

I’m not saying that I should show every one of my listings to every one of my contacts, but after this experience, perhaps I’ll have a more open mind…

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. IanC

    at 8:00 am

    Heh Heh…

    It’s good to have focus, but the more open you are, the better the chance that you’ll still be there in five years.

    Unless you are a realtor and the land transfer tax gets repealed or you pay cash for your condo – that’s about the time I’d say is the cutoff mark to buy vs. rent.

    Is everyone always locked down on their location? With expanded Bixi, better bike lanes, and our warm winters, the city is shrinking! Distance takes on a new meaning. Locations can a bit more flexible. I own a bike (no car) and supplement with Bixi. If I were to buy a condo again – I would make a different choice in a Bixi universe vs. a non-Bixi Universe. I think you could write an article about that – but only frequent Bixi users would get it.

    Sometimes you can even be on the fence between a house and a condo. Owning one or sometimes even two cars with a condo is not something I can justify personally. And if you like to barbecue off your unit – not likely in most condos. You could be a couple and not sure if a car is required in your near employment future.

    I can see someone even looking at freehold townhouses with parking or detached 2 bedroom homes a bit west or east as condo alternatives… At the same time.

    I’m still happy after 3 years in my first condo… but I did seriously consider alternatives.

  2. dave

    at 9:29 am

    It just goes to show that the only unit better than a David Fleming listing….is another David Fleming listing!

    ps. Ahem, sounds like a new tag line, no?

  3. johnny chase

    at 10:00 am

    Is it just me? What surpprised me most wasn’t the fact that she bought the second unit she saw that was completely different than the first one she loved. I would have thought this was quite common amongst first time buyers. Generally, expectations are lower and they are quite inexperienced buyers. They don’t really know what to look for and buy with emotion more than second or third time buyers.

    What surprised me more was you colleague giving you the “full price” on a sale where even you admitted that units in the building take a long time to sell. Are you telling me that if she offered $375K your would have tuned it down? I somehow doubt it. I find most agents roll over too quickly in the negotiation – especailly the rookies…they just mail it in.

    1. Ralph Cramdown

      at 12:48 pm

      I think the key is that the buyer’s agent gave the seller’s agent enough info about the buyer that the seller’s agent was confident in holding out for full price.

      1. Gigi

        at 9:33 am

        There does appear to have been a bit of a conflict.

  4. Rachel Vanderveen

    at 3:13 pm

    What a luck out. Nice to have a good ol’ rookie to write an offer on a listing. So wonderful when you can tell them what to write, and they’re like, “OK!” LOL.

  5. Pen

    at 7:32 pm

    David, why wasn’t this particular dual agency offer given the same treatment you regularly say is fair and balanced and done the proper way as practiced by your brokerage?

    You don’t have to publish this if you don’t want to and I won’t at all mind. I’m just curious considering that if this young lady changed her mind, I think she has a good case against you, the rookie & Bosley.

    1. David Fleming

      at 8:12 pm

      @ Pen

      I’m not sure what you’re asking.

      Both buyer and seller were made aware of dual agency, consented to dual agency, and signed off on dual agency.

      The buyer made an offer, it was rejected and countered with the full asking price. The buyer then accepted the counter offer.

      What’s the issue here?

      The young lady could have changed her mind during the status certificate review, but she didn’t, and signed a waiver.

      What “case”? What are you talking about? What wasn’t done “properly” by our brokerage?

      1. Pen

        at 11:57 am

        Well David I speak of your posts in support of dual agency and your advocacy as to how they should be handled wherein your brokerage assigns someone else within your office to present/mediate the offer between the buyer and seller so as to have the representatives remain impartial as is required. That is what you consistently state is fair, reasonable and best practice. Yet, in this particular case, the first time buyer was represented by a rookie REALTOR via your referral who, when asked to show a comparable property, was directed by you to one other listing – also your own. The rookie then deferred to you and your requirement for a full price offer after you rejected the initial.

        Nowhere did I see mention that the first time buyer was provided with any other comparative sale prices in the building or nearby buildings, which, given your statement about sales in the building certainly warrants same and would be known to a non-rookie. Nor was the offer mediated by an impartial REALTOR, as best as can be anyway.

        What I took from the way you wrote the post is that you exercised full control over the buyer in a dual agency situation without being impartial – “Of course, the offer was for $370,000, which I scoffed at, and simply told my colleague, “See that number at the top of the MLS listing – the one that says $379,900? Yeah, that’s the price that should be on the offer…” without giving the buyer the benefit of representation by a more seasoned REALTOR especially in a dual agency situation. Being “made aware” of dual agency is simply not enough when dealing with novice buyers and sellers particularly if it is being explained by a novice REALTOR.

        That the rookie even stated to you that she wasn’t sure if the buyer was actually sincere and not “some nut,” teeters on the edge of breaching the fundamental rule of non-disclosure of motive and most certainly that of impartiality.

        So I ask you, would it not have been best practice to direct the rookie to your office manager for example for guidance?

        1. David Fleming

          at 12:28 pm

          @ Pen

          I like to keep my blog posts south of 1,500 words.

          There is a lot that happened that was not essential to the story, such as the ‘rookie’ doing her job, going over comparable sales, discussing with my manager as you suggested, etc.

          If I handle my business like an a-hole and say cocky and arrogant things like “See that price at the top? That’s the price we need.” Then that’s just me being me. Nobody has to play ball. The cooperating agent and/or her buyer could have walked away at any time. That has no bearing on the impartiality of the parties. That’s how I would have dealt with anybody bringing me an offer on a condo after one or two days on the market.

          To suggest “exercising full control” is just playing to my ego. Have you ever been in a room with, well, I can’t say his name but a high-powered agent from Kalles? He takes full control over even the most seasoned agents as soon as you walk in! Five seconds – and he’s got everything. He’s loud, brash, in your face, and he takes control right off the hop. Isn’t that what agents do some of the time? How is my suggesting to another agent, whether in my brokerage or not, that they come back at the full asking price, doing anything wrong?

          Many of my stories are written in a certain tone and in a certain way, and may not encompass the ‘entire’ story. To think that a rookie agent didn’t come back to the office and spend three hours going over every comparable sale, explanation of agency, documentation, etc, is sort of jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst.

  6. Hello Goodbye

    at 1:08 am

    This will become more and more common as listings increase — more choice = more likelihood of changing your mind.

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