War - What Is It Good For?

While I agree that war is good for absolutely nothing (and I'll say it again), the real estate war going on in the streets of Toronto is definitely good for something - sellers and their listing agents. List a property at a low number, create a bid war, reel in a number beyond your wildest imagination. It's a simple, common story line around town. And the moral of the story is clear. If you're thinking of selling - sell. Now.

But what if you have to buy? What is your side of the story? What happens to the 6 buying bidders who lost out on offer night, one of whom lost out just the night before on another property? What is life like for them before, during and after the bid? For the ones who came in with a great, 20% over ask, condition-less offer that was respectful, intentional, and full of hope, who are then sent back for a second round to come up with more?

The blind ballot - which between pillar and post is often not blind at all for the few privy to old school, back room deals - is ripe for an overhaul. The crazy sell numbers you see have everything to do with the process as it is currently set up. Questions this begs for me are: how do you remain sane in the process of buying in Toronto where you bid, lose, get back up, fall in love, bid, lose again? Does buying a house have to have a survival strategy attached? How did it come to be this way? Together, do we want to change this?

Since no change is likely to happen anytime soon, it strikes me with each and every offer night, it is the mindset the buyer chooses to bring to the table and how he or she views all that can’t be controlled that has become the defining characteristic for a buyer in this market. Before you get pre-approved for your massive mortgage, or search MLS for your one and only, take a quiet moment for yourself and ponder this: how will you cope with a process designed to keep you in the dark,  stressful, and a combined marathon-sprint?

Here are a few game changing pointers for bid war survival. These tips presuppose you are working with an agent who knows the strategies involved with winning bid wars, like I do. It is a critical skill for a Toronto buyer agent and should be on the top of your list of questions when choosing to work with one. These points are designed to help you, the buyer, beyond the work your realtor provides.

  • Do not enter an offer with expectations on how it will play out. Every offer night takes its own shape, so keep your previous offer experiences, the stories you’ve heard, or your personal idea of how it ‘should’ be at bay. Your expectations will only entangle your mind and spirit at a time that requires clarity.
  • Do not look up. When we are laser focused with our hearts in our throats, there can be a tendency to over-react and over-read every little detail. This dissolves your intent and your reason for being there faster than anything else. It simply doesn’t matter what is going on all around you. You can’t control it so don’t waste an ounce of energy trying. Keep your mind on your own game, what you truly want, and what you can do to get it. 
  • Push negativity out the door. This is a tough one, especially after sitting in a car outside of the house you desire, cold, hungry and needing to pee with your offer still pending after three hours. Sure the sellers are being greedy, the listing agent has created a messy situation, and the system is completely rigged to your detriment. But here’s the thing. If you focus on those aspects, you’ll be infecting your choices with negativity and this negativity has a way of short changing you, right when you need to be at the top of our game. Be aware that this may happen, then choose to not let that happen. 

With a strong buyer agent, affordability still in hand and your own mental state lucid and clear, you will likely get the property you desire, no matter how many other bidders. If for some unlucky reason you do not, take a moment to mourn your loss, lick your wounds and learn. Then admit it. There will be another house for you around the corner. There always is. You will need to bounce back in order to find it though, perhaps even more than once. And yes, as crazy as it may sound, you can do this.