I had many whopping sale prices in 2019, but this particular property stands out as I was able to utilize my entire skillset, which resulted in our sale price exceeding our goal price by $134,000!
The home was in Toronto, yet the seller had relocated to Calgary two years prior. She was in town, so we sat down for a chat on how to best approach the situation. The seller deferred to my expertise saying, “This is your world, Geoffrey, so just do your thing,” and then advised me that we couldn’t list until May at the earliest as the tenants’ lease didn’t expire until the end of June.
The Game Plan
It’s always the same: To get the seller the maximum amount of money for their home. The challenge here was that, with listing in May, the bulk of potential buyers might have already bought a home. We would run the risk of losing the strongest part of the market, which could seriously impact our sale price.
I didn’t like the idea of listing that late into spring, so we had the seller contact the tenants to let them know that her friend the REALTOR® would be popping by to take a look at the property. My goal here was to get permission from them to list much earlier than May.
The tenants agreed to having me over, and were very inviting under the circumstances, and asked if the seller was thinking of selling.
It wasn’t 100% certain that she was going to be selling at the time because that depended on what price I thought we could get for the home. Being “likeable” can go a long way in this situation here, and I advised the tenants that I was just coming to see the property for the moment to get a feel for it and to give the seller an idea of what I thought it was worth.
The tenants were pretty nervous at the possibility of having to move (and understandably so), but I turned that around with, “Hey, if she does end up selling it, you should buy it, no? It really looks like you are enjoying living here.” (They kept the place impeccably!).
I think this is a very important conversation to have at this point because it shifts me away from being the “bad guy” who’s potentially sending them packing. It also moves me into being the “good guy” that could help them buy a home they already clearly loved and who could save them a ton of hassle.
The tone changed immediately with my idea, but they weren’t sure they could afford it. I then introduced the idea that they could speak with my trusted mortgage broker to see if there was a chance, and they were open to that. It was the friendliest visit that we could have had under the circumstances and it set up a good working relationship which is important to the success of the eventual sale.
I left the home that day with them agreeing that they’d speak with my mortgage broker, and in exchange, I promised that I’d circle back to them once I knew more about the seller’s plans and what the potential price might be should she be in the selling mood.
When I revisited them just a few days later, they had indeed spoken with my trusted mortgage broker and a really good thing happened. My earlier visit had prompted them to think very carefully about which schools they wanted their children attending going forward, and they advised me that they had decided to leave Toronto altogether and move to the Guelph area. Excellent! Now I was completely off the hook as ‘the bad guy’ and even offered to help them further by finding a good agent for them in Guelph. Turns out, her aunt was a REALTOR® in that area so that was perfect too. They had already started looking online for a new home in Guelph.
From here, relations were very good and I shared the fact that I did NOT want to inconvenience them with a month or more of showings, and that I had a good track record at ‘getting things done’ in seven days flat. “That would be GREAT!” she said.
I inquired if they had any travel plans over the upcoming March break and they hadn’t firmed their plans yet but they knew for sure they were going to see his parents over the Family Day long weekend. Okay, that could work!
From there we made a plan for them to have their cleaner come on Thursday morning, my photographer comes immediately after, and for them to be out the door by Friday noon when the showings commenced. The seller and I now had a window to open up the home for continuous showings and I was really pleased that we were able to ‘get to market’ earlier than March break. Supply was very low, which it usually is in January/February.
As the listing date approached, the seller and I worked towards taking care of…
The Little Things
Wherever you can take away an ‘unknown’ for a buyer you improve your chances of success.
- We had the original home inspection from when the seller bought the home eight years prior.
- We had all the receipts for any and all work she had done since moving in.
- We had a brand new home inspection done and also available for review.
- We had a floor plan of the home created and available both online and at the home.
These little things reduced many unknowns for the buyers coming in and worked nicely with the BIG thing…
When the outside of your home looks like this in the spring or summer:
It’s hard to imagine listing it for sale when it looks like this:
What sellers often forget though, is that every other seller out there is thinking the same thing.
When you list in February, you are beating so many others to the market, and the serious buyers that are out there (97 in our case here!) have very little options. Listing in May when the grass is green and things are ‘pretty’ means that MANY of those serious buyers have already bought and now the remaining buyers have more homes to choose from because some of your neighbours are now on the market too.
January is a reset for most. There are always buyers who were planning on buying in the previous six months who just didn’t get the job done. Homes are most usually bought by couples and when the New Year arrives the driver of the relationship sets the priority for the New Year.
We also improved our chances greatly by having FULL access to the home for showings. We opened the door for agent showings on Friday at noon, and then had:
- Total showings Friday: 17
- Total Showings Saturday: 26
- Total Showings Sunday: 14
These were agent-booked showings, meaning that 57 agents came through with their clients in tow to see the home!
I also easily had another 40 sets of buyers that came through the weekend open houses which we ran from 1 – 4 PM both days.
Had they been home, the probability of the tenants allowing close to 100 showings over that weekend would have been low. They would have ‘tapped out’ at some point.
We thankfully didn’t have that challenge — we made it so.
The Back-Up Plan
We were blessed to have a ton of time here. It was indeed aggressive to think that we could list at the start of a holiday weekend and have multiple offers by the end of it, but as suspected supply was minimal. We couldn’t officially ‘close’ until the end of June.
By the books, we shouldn’t have even been showing the home until May first, but we of course had the tenant’s permission as we were potentially doing them a favour and saving them from weeks of showings. Should our first attempt have failed here, we had lots of time to get back on the market at some point, go through the process again, and still get our end of June closing. Having the freedom of the backup plan allowed us to be really aggressive on our price and list low in efforts of attracting the most attention.
To illustrate how this helps, imagine if we listed at $700,000 and offers A, B, and C showed up. Yet, if we had listed at $649,000, then as well as offer A, B, and C showing up, D and possibly E were now present too. It’s a better situation that gives me more leverage and greater control.
The Bidding War & Control
With DocuSign so prevalent, offers can be put together much faster than ever before. Conversations had escalated with enough agents who were prepping their clients for the Tuesday 1 PM offer date. There were some really nice numbers being proposed so it was go time!
Strike While The Iron Is Hot
With every listing there is the initial wave of showings, the peak, and the fall off. In most circumstances, the hungriest and ‘most ready’ buyers get there early. They’re already trained to do so because they’ve missed out on prior homes by waiting.
There is great experience needed to make the decision to pull the trigger at the perfect time (in our case early) and with full confidence that we would not be leaving anything on the table. We were ready to go here by the Sunday afternoon with absolutely no reason to delay.
Every agent was notified that our offer date was now moved up to 7 PM Sunday. Good decision! The ‘management’ of the offers (nine of them in total) yielded us 128% of our asking price, a final sale price of $834,000, which was a full $134,000 over our goal price going in!
Every NHL coach will tell you that in order to win, you must win all the little battles, and execute perfectly. Here, we won all of those including the bigger (market timing) battle and we couldn’t have executed better on any of it!
The Feel-Good Part
The tenants’ lease was actually expiring on June 15th, except the school year didn’t finish until about June 23rd.
“Do you think the seller would let us stay until the end of June without payment?” was asked of me in that second meeting when I was mapping out the plan of listing the home Family Day weekend.
My reply was that I couldn’t promise that, but if things went the way I could envision them going, I thought that might be ‘okay’ with the seller. Don’t forget that cooperative tenants makes my job a whole lot easier, so if the seller was unwilling to do anything with that, I may have indeed stepped up and helped them out myself.
I gave them hope, but made no concrete promise. All in hopes that they’d still do as they promised in straightening out the house as much as possible before their weekend away. They delivered on that, and it was our turn to thank them for that. So that’s what we did.
It’s possible that you might know THIS spring that there’s a chance you’ll be selling NEXT spring. If that’s the case, then there is no harm in sending my photographer over to capture your yard in all its beauty this spring, just so we have the photos in hand. This way, if we do list earlier in January or February or even March, we can do so without all the snow, and we can show that spring/summer beauty!