About a month ago I did something that will probably never happen again in my real estate career. I was able to sell five houses over a two-day span. Needless to say, I was completely enthralled with this achievement and I shared it with my friends and family as well as posted it online.
It definitely got me thinking that when it comes to our industry we are always very quick to highlight the successes that we have. This is more prevalent in real estate than in any other industry because posting a “just sold” or “our happy buyers” type post, it is hard for us to connect with our audience and sphere of influence.
It’s great to be able to share but at the same time, I understand that it could potentially give the perception that what we do is easy. It’s probably why there are almost 50,000 agents on the Toronto Real Estate Board.
Really, the only difference between our industry and most others is the frequency in which we share our successes. it’s likely that when you’re talking about your job or posting about it online, you are highlighting the achievements, but never really consider or talk about all of the work it took you to get there.
I figured, what better time to share what went on behind the scenes in putting those transactions together than right now?
I have some absolutely phenomenal clients that fell in love with a house. The timing worked out that they were able to move into a very desirable area that would have been out of reach before the market had shifted in 2017. After over a month (yes, a month) of back and forth negotiations with an out of town seller, this offer finally came to fruition…but this actually isn’t one of the 5 deals! It did, however, turn into a listing which was.
While we got our dream home, we also had to sell and close their home within 100 days. Their house was beautiful, but the community had experienced a big downturn since the market shift and even some of the best looking houses had been sitting on the market for a long time. We needed to make sure we did everything we could to have this property on the market as soon as possible and having it show at its absolute best.
We emphasize a lot of our efforts in our pre-listing strategy. What will a buyer think when they walk in this home? If we can answer a consumers question before it is asked then we are increasing the likelihood of selling our listings.
Prior to listing this property, we made some enhancements and minor touch ups including replacing the main bathroom vanity and faucet, the main bathroom shower head, some painting touch-ups throughout the house as well as some customized staging to complement the already amazing design in the home. Along with this, we did a fairly extensive declutter to open up all the main living areas in the home because we know the importance of visual perception for buyers.
We got an offer on the home after six days and after two days of back and forth negotiations with the buyer’s agent, we accepted an offer. While this was in itself a great achievement for my sellers, we still had to go through the conditional period before we could truly celebrate.
As the market has shifted, so have the demands and strategies used by buyers. In 2017 buyers would be over the moon just to get an offer accepted but in today’s market, buyers have more options and will push the envelope as far as they can. Some items came up in the home inspection which the buyers had tried to use to negotiate down on the price but we held firm and compromised by agreeing to address several of the items prior to the closing of the transaction.
This property is still awaiting its closing and we have just about completed the items, not the least of which was getting an ESA certificate for the electrical.
Our buyers had been looking for a home for about a month. Their initial sights were set on Toronto but after several offers that ended up in bidding wars, we ultimately made the shift to Hamilton. They loved the character in some of the homes and their budget could go significantly further.
They fell in love with a Victorian that was fully renovated from top to bottom. I also loved this house because I had owned one with a very similar floor plan only a few blocks away. We put in an offer and it was accepted.
The age of the home was a bit of a concern and the home inspection had revealed several minor items in the house but the most pressing was the energy efficiency. Being that the home was over 100 years old, it was a double brick exterior home with the original lath and plaster. While the owners did a great job with the house, the energy use was four times that of a newly built home.
We got the home for a great price, which always makes you consider how far you want to push a negotiation with a seller. We did a lot of due diligence and found several grants and rebates that our sellers could take advantage of. While we could just throw out a number and see what sticks, it is important that we, as well as our buyers, are educated on the possible outcomes of amending a contract and the position it could put them in. Along with finding different rebates and options to increase the energy efficiency, I literally sat down with a calculator and came up with the actual cost it would take to heat the home and factored in that this was not my client’s forever home and they plan on moving within the next 5-7 years. All of that information put together, helped us approach the situation with all of the facts.
Aside from the home inspection, we had a few hiccups with the appraisal on the home. This is often the case in Hamilton where you have a renovated home that there are few comparable properties for an appraiser to see first hand. In all honesty, I prepare myself for this in advance. I had already pulled the “true comparable” sales (included the neighbouring house which the appraiser didn’t see), broke down the cost per square foot and did a time adjustment for the sales prices of the comparables. I presented the information in a detailed and well laid out package and spent the time to discuss the information with the appraiser, who ultimately appraised the home for more than our buyers purchased it for.
When it was all said and done, our buyers ended up purchasing the home!
These buyers had been looking at homes for several months. As newcomers to Canada, they had a lot of questions and we’re nervous as they had never been through the experience before. It’s hard to imagine moving to a new country, let alone putting all your savings into a home.
We had numerous conversations about the options they had, the different areas that would best suit them, making sure the schools were good and that they had a sense of familiarity by breaking down the demographics in each community.
We hit the ground running and made an offer within the first week of viewing homes. The only problem was that so did 12 other buyers. The property was listed significantly under market value and I knew it right away, which is why I made sure we saw it the first day it was on the market. This was the first multiple offer scenario I had been a part of in almost a year and while our offer was extremely strong, we did not have the best offer that night.
About three weeks later we saw another property that we put an offer in on. This happened to be a private sale, and while I definitely respect every homeowner having options, it is without question private sales are far more difficult to put together. We had gone back and forth for several days and a lot of work went into this property but ultimately, both sides could not end up coming to an agreement.
Having had two offers not come to fruition definitely blew the wind out of the sails for these buyers and they put their search on hold for a short period. I completely understand when this happens because there is a lot of emotions involved in making an offer on a house and when it doesn’t work out, it hurts.
Ultimately, we got back up and a few weeks later started actively looking for homes again. We found a great property which gave our buyers the layout they wanted and also provided the benefit of a side entrance to the basement, which my buyers could use to capitalize of rental income that could offset their monthly expenses.
We made a conditional offer on the home and it was accepted. The home inspection came back less than stellar, but we were able to reach an agreement with the seller on a price reduction that would compensate the buyers for the items and we firmed up on this transaction.
Similar to the first transaction, these clients had found a home that they loved, made an offer and it was accepted. There is a lot of joy that comes with getting an offer accepted, but we had no time to waste. We had to prepare their home for sale and have it close within 80 days.
Now, in this scenario, the market was a little more active but we needed to do a lot of pre-listing work to have this home showing it’s best. Within a week the home was completely decluttered, painted, kitchen cabinets enhanced and fully staged from top to bottom. A lot of people can get overwhelmed by this, but I happen to thrive off the chaos and quick timelines.
We were able to get the home listed and on the market within a week. The only problem was that it was listed the same day as a huge snowstorm and also the same week as Valentines Day, so we didn’t get much viewing activity on the house in the first week. This had our clients a little worried, but I assured them that if we stuck with our plan, we would get the results we wanted.
The second week saw our viewing activity pick up and we ended up getting a really great offer. My sellers were thrilled because the offer came in at a number higher than even they anticipated and they were ready to accept it….however, we still had two viewings that day and I wasn’t quite ready to jump at it until the other agents came through the house.
That intuition paid off as one of the viewings turned into another offer and just like that, we were in multiples. That wait, ended up resulting in an extra $20,000 and after a home inspection that passed without any issue, we had a firm sale!
Now, I don’t want to be making it seem like there are not some easier transactions in the mix:) This one went smoother than the previous four.
These buyers had been out several times but nothing really fit the bill for them. We like to focus on narrowing down our search criteria and going through the pros and cons of each home to really get to the heart of what our buyers are looking for. After our 2nd outing viewing homes, I had our buyers profile down to a tee.
Our third time out, we saw a house they loved and made an offer that night. The only problem is that someone else also made an offer that night. It is understandable when a buyer is apprehensive to be in a multiple offer scenario but I always highlight the difference between multiple offers and a “bidding war”. Our knowledge of value and what we are willing to pay for a home should never be impacted by what we think someone else might do.
It also helped that I knew a home with the exact same layout, in the same district and lower quality finishes, was conditionally sold for $10,000 more than the asking price of this home. It helps to maintain good relationships with your colleagues and I knew that when the sale price of that home became public, it would push up the value of comparable properties. We put in a firm offer for the asking price and our offer was accepted.
Aside from some of the common things that are a part of a real estate transaction, there is a huge emotional aspect involved in buying and selling houses. I always tell my clients “every time you are thinking about what is happening with an offer or how a viewing went, I am thinking of it twice”. There are more times than I would like to admit where several hours of work goes into preparing for a five-minute phone call with a client. I love my career and I am truly grateful for the opportunities it provides me but I also put a lot of pressure and attention to detail towards ensuring that I am doing everything I can to provide the best service and guidance to each and every client.
Real estate can be a really weird industry in that our work is not as tangible as other professions. Our efforts are ultimately based on whether a transaction materializes. While I experienced the best week I have ever had in real estate, I will likely face several months this year where it seems like no matter how many hours I put in, nothing seems to come together.
That is a very condensed version of the five transactions that we did in two days. It often gets overlooked that beneath the surface of our highlights, there is a lot of work that is involved leading up to it. It just so happened that all of the moving parts happened to come together over the course of two days and a lot of coffee.