Given the scarcity of listings in the Toronto market these days its understandable that we touch on the topic of multiple offers from time to time. It’s probably because no two scenarios are ever the same but last week, at our weekly Mastermind session, the question turned the multiple offer topic around. When listing a property is there an optimum number of offers that our pricing should attract? We went around the room to get everyone’s opinion on the matter.
History dictates that we only need one good offer to sell a home so theoretically we should price the home to attract that one buyer. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the cards are stacked in favour of the Seller so even pricing fairly can lead to two or three or even four offers because there is just no sure way to predict how desperate a buyer might be but the question remains, do we try to price to get one offer or do we under price to attract multiple offers and hopefully push up the price for the buyer? (and if so, by how much?). If the choice is to under price to create excitement then how low do you go and how many offers are you hoping to attract? We had several opinions on the topic because pricing really is a moving target. The answers ranged from 2 to 10 offers.
There is a slippery slope to all this if you are a Seller, and I have written in the past about a seller who only got one offer on her property on offer night and was totally annoyed with the agent despite getting full price. The fact remains that underpricing can be dangerous. Sometimes we price a home thinking we have determined perfect market value and then we are hit with multiple offers. Sometimes we list under market value and get only one offer if at all, and then there are those cowboys who list hundreds of thousands under value and hope to generate 50 or 60 offers. But not getting an offer on offer night puts an agent on the defensive right away. The client is looking to you for answers. Where are all the offers? What’s wrong with my house? In this hot market why isn’t my house selling for over list price? Simply put, there are just too many variables to know for sure and it could be as simple as it’s raining or the buyers couldn’t get baby sitters.
So when it comes to the list price, know your competition and nail the market value. Under price just a little to create some interest but not a flood of buyers. Take the guesswork out of the listing and have the home inspection done well in advance.
In the end, everyone should know that it’s the Seller who determines the final list price but it is up to the agent to conduct an in-depth market evaluation and then determine the right strategy to get the Seller the most money.
mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President-Elect for the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.
If someone gave you $100k tax-free, what would you do? Go on a trip around the world? Buy a new car? Maybe quit your job and go back to school? Now let me ask you; what would you do if you lost $100k because your agent screwed up? If you are like most people you would probably start by screaming and pulling out your hair. Of course, I am talking about bully offers. This is the second time I have written about it. You can check out another article hear, http://bit.ly/yadRHu but this post talks about what happens when bully offers go bad.
Here is the story. The names have been changed to protect the guilty and I modified the price. Agent Liz lists a stunning home in downtown Toronto for $1.2m and decides, with the seller, to hold back offers. On the first day of the listing Agent Bob shows the house to his client who is absolutely in love with the home. Bob’s client lost out the night before on a $1.3m house that needed several hundred thousand dollars in renovation so when he saw Agent Liz’s house he figured he could go as high as 1.6m. He tells Agent Bob that he wants to bid high on the house and that he has been approved by his bank. Agent Bob calls Agent Liz and tells her that he will be coming to the table on offer night and asks that he be kept in the loop should anything develop before offer night. Agent Liz agrees. The next day, the house is reported sold by Agent Jay in a bully offer for $1.5m. Agent Bob is furious. He calls Agent Liz who tells him that there were too many people to call and the bully offer had a very tight irrevocable time.
Okay, now the house is sold firm, but sadly the damage is done. If she is smart, Agent Liz will do anything in her power to keep the news of the other offer quiet, but, if it got out what recourse would the seller have? Naturally he might launch a lawsuit against the agent and complain to The Real Estate Council of Ontario and in a worst case scenario, Agent Liz might be responsible for the difference between Agent Bob’s offer and the accepted price. Most likely however, she would be fined for not contacting any of the agents that had shown the property. In this case, there are two things to consider; first, the seller accepted the bully offer of his own free will. Second, it would be very difficult to prove that Agent Bob’s client would have actually bought Agent Liz’s listing for what he said he would pay. Remember, there is nothing as constant as change, and who is to say that on offer night, Agent Bob’s client simply changed his mind.
So, how do agents, on both sides, protect themselves? First of all, any listing agent should recognize that if you are going to be entertaining a bully offer you are under a greater responsibility to ensure you give everyone an opportunity to play the game. Missing one or two phone calls can cost you your commission. In a discussion about this event, one of the agents in my office said that she keeps an email log of every agent who has shown her listing so that if a bully offer appears she can send out a quick group email. In response to Agent Liz’s comment about the tight irrevocable time, she should have told Agent Jay that she needed more time to reach the seller and discuss their options. While Agent Jay might be a little irked at the delay it is important to recognize that he isn’t going away. His clients want the house. Agent Liz lost control of the situation. How could Agent Bob better protected himself? One simple move, have his client sign an offer right away and get it registered with the Agent Liz’s office. I have always been a proponent of registering quickly. Not only does it guarantee a seat at the negotiation table, it can scare away those buyers who don’t want to be in a bidding war.
The current market in Toronto is hyper competitive these days. With anywhere from 5 to 15 buyers for every listing, it is understandable that bully offers have found their way onto the real estate landscape. Knowing your role, on both sides, will minimize your risk to you and your client. As usual, I look forward to your views, comments and concerns. This post may not represent the views of Bosley Real Estate.