There is, of course, the age-old GOLDEN rule, which truly resonates with me and is at the heart of my business model.
However, there are also “Jill’s ORANGE Rules” and I’m about to give an example of when one of those rules was “broken” by another agent while I was in the process of selling my client’s Toronto Condo.
This particular example of NOT doing things by the book, presented itself just recently, and for the first time in my 15 years in this industry, I was asked to consider dumping a legally accepted offer in favour of this agent’s offer.
I had just sold (conditionally on Finance and on approval of the Status Certificate) my new condo listing. We had a couple of dozen showings within a week and a couple of offers. Our current Toronto housing market “starring the infamous Covid 19 (which really should now be called Covid 21, in my humble opinion) is on fire! out of control! untethered from reality!…but I digress. All this to say that, even with a Stay-At-Home order in place, buyers are out looking for their next nests. There is more supply and therefore more choice in CondoLand for buyers, and so, they are allowed to take a little longer to decide than those poor buyers who are looking for a ground level home.
One thing we do not see often in today’s Covid climate, besides in-person Open Houses, are SECOND showings. Why? There is hardly time for one, but also, buyers do not want to have to return to condo buildings where there may be more Covid friendly “density” or gatherings , unless they absolutely must. So, with their agents, purchasers are taking more time with their ONE showing, and they are thinking deeply and in detail during the showing. Some buyers are purchasing condos from the Virtual Tours and Videos we are posting on our MLS listings, our websites and on our Social Platforms. They are not even visiting in person before they submit their offers! This somewhat “daring” approach can work more readily with condo buildings (you can troll many listings within the building to get a sense of whether that is your “community” or not), than it does with freehold properties.
So, when I noticed that one agent booked a SECOND showing, my antennae went up.
First of all, I asked for feedback from this agent after the FIRST showing. He/she relayed to me that his/her client found it dated and had decided to take another direction. Fine, I thanked him/her for the feedback and wished them good luck in their search. Then, a few days later, I see a second request for showing and so naturally, I asked the agent if the showing would be with the same client. The response was “yes”. They had decided to come back with a contractor to assess the costs for a major renovation. The agent itemized the “do overs” and while, some I had anticipated at the time of listing so were factored in to the asking price, others were more aligned with that client’s personal preferences as compared to “must redo’s”.
Before I price a property, I always explain to my clients the various pricing strategies that are available to them, along with the up and the down sides to each approach. In today’s climate, agents are often UNDER PRICING their listings and holding an offer night, in order to attract gaggles of offers and of course, most of those poor buyers don’t even have a shot at getting the property if they bid anywhere near the asking price! My client and I decided that our approach would be to price the unit at “fair market value” so that if we had only 1 offer, we would be happy to work with it, to get as close to the asking price as the market would bear. There were some aspects to the building that would likely “limit our audience” and would establish a ceiling on our asking price, as I explained to my client and there is also plenty of inventory for buyers to choose from, so this was a comfortable decision for us both.
Now back to this agent……
Please Note: that the quotes are not word-for-word direct, but are recollections of what I heard and of what was implied and/or was given to understand. The entire “tone’ of the message seemed measured and filled with a sense of “wink wink, nod nod”.
One of the points revealed to me during my follow up was that if an offer was going to be submitted, my buyer should be prepared to receive an offer from them that would be 10 to 12% BELOW our asking price, because of the extent of the renovations his/her client wished to do. In the meantime, we received an offer far, far higher than what this agent was indicating they would submit, so we decided to work with it and after some sign backs/counters, we came to a mutually satisfactory offer acceptance. That Friday evening, I immediately informed our office to let all agents who showed our listing, as well as those who were booked in the future, that we were sold conditionally. On Saturday, the purchasers’ agent suggested he might not get the deposit to our office until Monday morning, which I firmly discouraged, since it is supposed to be in our office within 24 hours of acceptance of his offer. He wisely heeded my advice…wisely because…..Well, back to this other agent….
Now it is Sunday morning and I get a call from this other agent, who KNOWS that we are sold conditionally, but for some reason is not only ignoring this fact, but is suggesting that I breach my contract with the purchaser, breach my ethics, AND potentially expose myself to legal consequences (fines, losing my license…annoying stuff like that!) by entertaining and hopefully choosing HIS/HER offer, which has just been prepared and is ready to send to me. I was aghast. It was then explained to me, that “these are very different times. There are things that are being done differently in these Covid times.” Standard Operating Procedures were for “others” it seemed. They went on to explain, “for example, if another offer comes in with a higher deposit, or a better possession date, (it’s not all about purchase price he/she added) then, I could and should allow my client to benefit from such an offer. Maybe the deposit from our first offer had not been delivered? the agent posited. Don’t I even want to see the offer? I was asked. Surely there are ways around this conditional sale that I had not thought of yet he/she suggested.
Finally, after I caught my breath, I explained calmly and with conviction the following:
I do not know how you conduct your business transactions but this is how I transact mine: I obey the law, I am completely transparent with my dealings, I do not breach contracts or go back on my word. My word is my bond and my brand is my stand. I am fully aware of all the protocols in executing a firm sale in an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, and none of what you have suggested is in line with those rules and regulations or with my way of conducting business.
The agent “got the message”, tried to walk it back, mumbling something about ‘of course you are an experienced Realtor’ and ‘of course I cannot give you the amount my client is willing to offer’ (although we started this call with an offer to SEND ME said offer). But they did not completely “give up”. The last sentence was a request to call them if our offer did not go firm. And of course my dilemma, apart from the obvious, would be ‘why would I want to put my client in possible harm’s way with an individual who’s word and practises I cannot trust?
PS: Jill’s “ORANGE” Rule #1?? Trust is Everything.
“All things being equal, people do business with or refer business to people they know, like and trust” (Bob Burg)
PPS: I finally have the “icky” feeling out of my system and I look forward to going firm with this sale so that the deserving purchasers (who are about to get married:) can move into their first home together.