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Posts tagged ‘offers’


Let Me See Those Cats

catsYeah, I know, that’s a weird title for a blog, but it will all be clear by the end. I promise. Years ago I heard about a buyer who had a very unusual way of purchasing a property. Now, this was back in the days when multiple offers were few and far between but her methods are worth mentioning. She would put conditional offers on over 5 properties then start negotiating with each seller until there was only one left. Strange approach but there was some method to her madness. First she could judge the motivations of the sellers and take advantage of the weakest one. It was a strategy that worked even if it burned out a few agents along the way.

In a round about way, I’m telling this story to illustrate a problem that we will face in our careers. No, I’m not just talking about high maintenance buyers, I’m talking about buyers who will use conditions to get out of deals. As agents we need to remind buyers that when they put the pen to paper they should be prepared to purchase. This is not just an opportunity to waste time.

Case in point, a buyer buys a condo through his agent, conditional on the status certificate. The lawyer reviews the documents. As time is of the essence, the listing agent calls the buyers lawyer to get an update and is told that everything is a-ok. At the same time, the buyers brother is trying to convince him to get out of the condo deal because a sweet income property just came on the market. The buyer calls his agent and tells him to use the status certificate to get out of the deal. Sorry, no can do. The seller’s agent knows everything is good and threatens legal action. As you can imagine, the deal firms up.

So what does any of this have to do with cats? It’s not just a catchy title. there was a story in our office about a deal that fell apart because of a status certificate. Apparently the buyer had 3 cats and the building only allowed two. The Sellers didn’t ask for verification but could you imagine a different time when that could happen? “Yes, sure. I will just need some verification that you do indeed have three cats”.

Someone once said that if you put a little effort into it, you can get out of any real estate deal. There are enough places to make mistakes in a typical agreement if you look close enough. Examples of discrepancies include wrong frontages and depths or mutual driveways and other easements, wrong maintenance fees, taxes and, of course, time limits. It is in our best interests to make sure our offers are bullet proof. Changing your mind is not an excuse and your clients can’t hide behind a condition. Like wise, please don’t tell your clients they can use a condition to get out of a deal. A recent RECO complaint resulted in an $8,000 fine to an agent for leading a buyer to think he could use a home inspection to get out of a deal.

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.


Client or Customer? If It Quacks Like A Duck…

duckWe all know it. In real estate there are differences between clients and customers. We learn these differences very early in our education and training. We talk about fiduciary duties, accounting, fair and honest service etcetera, but the reality is that often those lines get blurred and that puts us into a difficult situation. Case in point. An agent, lets call him Terry, gets a call on one of his listings. The couple want to look at it at 5pm on a Thursday. Terry is not available to show the property so he gives the lead to Fran, an agent in his office who often acts as a buyer agent for him. Fran meets the couple at the condo and shows them around. They spend a long time there and ask Fran a bunch of questions about the property such as, what closing are the sellers looking for, what is included and excluded, and what facilities are in the building. Fran is happy to answer their questions. After a few minutes, it is clear that this couple is very interested in the condo. They start asking more questions about past sales, additional parking costs, maintenance fees and reserve funds. Fran knows the building and answers their questions. Finally the couple tell Fran that they are prepared to make an offer. They want to know why the seller is selling, what the Seller is likely to accept, closing date, and how much commission the seller will be paying and what clauses they should include in their offer. Fran is no dummy. She advises the couple that the property is inline with past sales and is well priced but gives no details into motivation or details into the listing contract.
The couple tell Fran that their lawyer has advised them not to sign a BRA and that they should only enter into a customer agreement. They also feel that it is only fair that since they contacted the Selling agent directly they should only pay 1/2 the commission however they still want Fran to prepare the offer. So here is the crux of the situation. Fran, has treated them, for the most part, like clients. She has provided information and offered advice on the property before establishing what kind of relationship the couple wished to assume. This creates a problem for Fran. If something were to go wrong during the transaction the couple could hold Fran responsible. She has after all put herself into an implied client/buyer relationship. If she knew that the couple wanted only to be customers, her answers on most of the questions would have been much simpler…”Please have your lawyer direct his questions to the Sellers or the Sellers agent”. By doing so, she exonerates herself from any potential question of representation.
As to the comments about commission, the answer again is simple. “My firm has been retained by the sellers to market their property for sale. The details of that contract are confidential and do not impact the sale price”.
It is only human nature to want to help and that desire becomes stronger when there are dollar signs on the other side, but the pitfalls of taking too many assumptions can be equally devastating. The example above highlights the importance of that critical first interaction with a potential buyer who you meet through a direct call or even at an open house. The realities of the Toronto market are that buyers are looking for a price advantage, just don’t let your eagerness to make a deal cloud your judgement.

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.


Mastermind for May 30th. More on Bully Offers

Happy Hump Day. I hope you are getting through it with flying colours. With this weather, what’s not to like? For us at Bosley Real Estate, Wednesdays are Mastermind Days. We believe in the power of inter-office discussions so much that we actually hold two per week, one Uptown and one Downtown. Great discussions every week, so if you missed today, you missed some great conversations follow-up discussions about Bully offers.  So let’s get started.

If you are a buyer these days, chances are you are feeling the fatigue of the chase. It is getting tough out there and I have talked about some interesting ways buyers are trying to get any added advantage. This post will touch on one. One such advantage, potential as it may be, is to have your agent try to submit an offer ahead of the offer date. This is known as a Bully Offer. You have to know your stuff to either make a Bully Offer or to present one to your clients. The discussion at Mastermind today centred around whether or not you disclose the contents of the offer before presenting.  Lets say an agent wishes to submit a Bully Offer. The listing agent asks what the terms are but the buying agent doesn’t want to say. We have been taught not to talk price before the presentation but Bullys are a little different. Our group agreed that they would communicate the details of the offer to the client before presentation. Here’s the thinking on that. If I have a listing and you call me with a Bully Offer, I want to know that it is worth my client’s time. If the house is $499k and your Bully is for $640K I will go to the end of the Earth to get this information to my clients. For a Bully of $520K I will still try to find them but I probably won’t recommend that they take the time to look at it.  We also talked about agents who say they can’t get in touch with their clients. Do you actually expect me to believe that your clients cannot be reached? Today? Seriously? No phone? Seriously? That just doesn’t fly (unless they are actually flying, but most likely they will touch down in the next few hours). So when they say they can’t be reached, what the agent is really saying is “I don’t really want to work tonight to get the best price for my client”.

The take away on this is pretty simple and goes back to something that I focus much of my energy on. Give your clients all the possible scenarios when you list their home. Let them know that the house might not sell on offer day, it might sell in multiple offers, or they might get a Bully offer. Outline the disadvantages and advantages of each situation and let them decide what to do. If the clients categorically do not want to look at offers BEFORE the date set for offers, have them put it on paper. Scan it and send it to your phone so that you can forward it to potential Bully Offer agents. Simple. Yes, it is a lot more work, but you need to be prepared for any eventuality.

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