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Bidding wars: Big bad bully | REM

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“Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people.” – David Sarnoff

In this third and final segment on the hot subject of bidding wars, I draw some conclusions that lead to more questions. But consider that before we have the answers, we must ask the questions.

During my career, I orchestrated many multiple offer scenarios for my sellers. In earlier days, board rules permitted us to delay the showing commencement date as well as offers. I’d organize showings to begin – and offers to be presented – on the same day, usually a Saturday. On that first day, the property was usually a buzzing beehive of activity, with appointments scheduled every half hour, sometimes overlapping. Aside from the first and last showings of the day, the lockbox usually remained untouched, with business cards being exchanged between agents arriving and departing.




I also occasionally threw a public open house into the mix. Typically, during the presentation that same evening, the street was clogged with cars, anxious agents and lingering buyers, all caught up in the competitive frenzy. Even back then, though, some agent would seek to sneak in early with an offer conditional on satisfactory buyer inspection. Thankfully, my vendors normally adhered to the plan and rebuffed them. And did those overtly aggressive agents show up at offer time? Always.  I don’t recall ever losing one.

Ignoring your carefully formulated plans, with the deliberate intent to avoid a competition, an aggressive buyer agent may contact you to register on your new listing what has become known as a “bully offer”. They demand an appointment prior to the officially announced presentation date. Since you’re convinced of the merits of your marketing strategy, you encourage your seller to make this insistent agent wait.

A seller certainly has the right to refuse to see this “short-circuit” offer, but curiosity sometimes gets the best of them. It’s mystifying why they’d sacrifice an opportunity for multiple showings and offers by surrendering to a bully’s attempt to evade a fair competition. Obviously, you must comply with your principle’s instruction. However, before committing to an earlier date and all that entails, ask the buyer agent about the offer. If the major terms are unacceptable, advise your seller to stick to the original plan. But if it’s full asking price or more, with no conditions, they may not gamble losing it.

In accordance with industry rules – and prior to viewing the bully offer – the MLS listing must immediately be amended with the new presentation date and time. Plus all agents who have already shown the property, have confirmed but outstanding appointments or have expressed interest, must be promptly informed of the new arrangements. If they haven’t already done so, all buyer candidates must quickly scramble to view the property and register their offers. Unfortunately, some may be unable to act swiftly enough. So, your seller might lose them. By caving to a bully’s demand, they’ll never know if that lost buyer might have been The One.

Given such short notice, the buyers who weren’t able to act in time are grievously disappointed and sometimes very angry with our industry and its members. It could be argued that your seller was formally tendering for competitive bids, but at the last moment, chose to dishonour their commitment to await all comers. What can a disappointed buyer do about it? Well, it’s been opined that an aggrieved buyer could sue the seller and their agent for damages. I’m unaware of any precedent-setting court case to date, but it could happen anytime. All it will take is a sufficiently disturbed buyer with deep pockets. Listing agents beware.

Does greed get the best of people? Yes, I suppose it sometimes does. Some argue that buyers who dodge the rules of fair play for their own advantage are indeed avaricious and iniquitous. Is a bully buyer innocent? Do they have the right to be aggressive? Obviously, the technical answer is yes, for they certainly have the right to buy at the lowest possible price. The same argument could be made for an aggressive seller who wants the highest price possible. But if a bully buyer deliberately ignores a seller’s clearly stated procedural request regarding the marketing of their own property and attempts to circumvent the system, are they behaving morally? I suggest that they’re demonstrating a complete lack of respect for not only the seller’s wishes, but potentially our rules of service. In my view, this is not representative of innocence. Bully buyers are no different from movie patrons who butt into line ahead of other people patiently waiting their turn.

It’s also been said that sellers could refuse to comply with a bully’s demand, that those who agree to this marketing strategy are also selfish and greedy and knowingly contribute to the inflation of market values, not to mention a highly stressful and potentially devastating experience for many buyers.

Some have suggested that sellers can be bullies too. However, they’re certainly entitled to attempt to maximize the sale price of their own property by any available legal means. And by agreeing to a viewing period and delayed offer presentation day, are they not being fair by providing all interested buyers an opportunity to make a bid?

Further, is it not a major responsibility for a listing representative to do everything legally and ethically possible to get the best terms for their seller client? The strategy is designed to stimulate fair competition, which should result in a fair sale price based on supply and demand in a free democratic society.

Is the bully offer system undermining consumer confidence? Absolutely, especially with buyers willing to respectfully comply with the posted protocol but who are caught with their pants down by a bully jumping the queue. Nevertheless, until the rules change yet again, fair buyers must be prepared to respond to bully offer scenarios by viewing the property at the earliest opportunity.

As their representative, you should have your buyer’s offer documents prepared in advance and ready for presentation on short notice. To contribute to consumer confidence in our industry, listing agents who practice this legitimate hot-market strategy, which is more prevalent for city or suburban than rural, should carefully prepare their new seller for the distinct possibility of a bully offer. Ask your seller to adhere to the plan or risk trouble for both you and them. The reputation of our industry is at stake.

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation

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If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips

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The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?

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(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at tarion.com.

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