In this Hot Market, Are Some Sellers Losing Their Grip on Reality?

Media hype about bidding wars and record-breaking prices may give sellers unrealistic expectations

by Lindsie Tomlinson
July 12, 2016


A few weeks ago, I was working with a buyer who was keen on a two-bedroom condo in White Rock. She wanted to make an offer on it subject to financing, receiving the strata documents (which the listing REALTOR® didn’t have yet) and viewing the condo (which the sellers weren’t allowing anyone to do for several more days).

My buyer figured that if her offer was accepted, she could work on removing her financing subject while we waited to see the condo and receive the documents.

The sellers did not accept our offer, nor did they counter. We were simply told that they would only accept subject-free offers.

Ours was the only offer on the table. We had not received any strata documents. The buyer had not even been allowed to view the property yet. Of course we were not going to give them a subject-free offer.

My buyer walked away, disgusted, and that property is still on the market, 21 days later. Were the sellers’ expectations unrealistically inflated by the red-hot housing market? Time will tell.

Selling well over asking price with few or no subjects has recently appeared to become the “new normal” in the Lower Mainland – but we are starting to see some listings and sales that don’t follow that pattern.

For example, a three-bedroom townhouse in Fairview went on the market for $889,000 at the end of April. Six weeks later, the sellers dropped the price to $850,000. It sold for $830,000 after 42 days on the market.

Last month, I even spotted a one-bedroom condo downtown that sold for $10,000 less than asking price. Even though it is rare, it does still happen. Not everything sells for over asking price.

Last month, the sellers of a house in North Vancouver listed for $1,499,000 and received four offers. They rejected all of them, including the highest one (which was well over the asking price). The next day, the sellers called the buyers with the highest offer to say that they would accept the offer they had just rejected if the buyers added another $100,000 to it.

Did they get the sale? No. The night before, the buyers had accepted that this wouldn’t be the house for them after all. They had emotionally “checked out,” leaving the sellers without a deal.

At the beginning of June, another house in North Vancouver listed for $2,880,000. It was a large house on a large lot, but on a busy street. After a week with no offers, the sellers instructed the listing agent to terminate the listing and then relist it at the end of June for $3,460,000 – yes, adding more than half a million dollars to the price! (Tip for sellers: When you list a property and there is no interest, you lower the price. Here are a few more tips for sellers.)

One more story: A two-bedroom condo on Vancouver’s West Side listed for $775,000, but the sellers wanted at least $850,000 for it. More than 130 people attended the open house, but the sellers didn’t receive a single offer.

After another week on the market and another very busy open house, the sellers received three offers, none of which hit their target of $850,000. Did they decide that their expectations had been unrealistic? No – they accused their REALTOR® of failing to meet their expectations and pulled their place off the market.

The media often gloms on to the stories that make everyone shake their heads at how much over the asking price things are selling for, but you don’t hear about the flip side of the story.

Sometimes it’s the sellers’ side of the story that sounds a bit crazy.

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