As an indication of just how hot the real estate market is in Southern Ontario, a Kitchener agent recently was flooded with 53 written offers for a home that was advertised as needing extensive updating.

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Michael J. Saunders
Michael J. Saunders

Re/Max Twin City sales rep Michael Saunders listed a home for sale at 285 Connaught St. The list price was $299,900. Within one week, Saunders had 53 written offers, ultimately resulting in the sale of the home for $491,000.

“We held the offers for one week and then basically focussed on price and zero conditions,” says Saunders. “Next, we went back to anyone who had offered $450,000 or higher, drilling down to eight offers. Then, we gave them a chance to improve their offer and took the best of the best.”

Saunders, a 30-year industry veteran, formed the Saunders-Tremblay Realty Team in 1992 with broker Looey Tremblay. The team now has six agents.

The Kitchener-Waterloo real estate market remains strong with a median price of $630,000 for detached homes sold in Kitchener-Waterloo in February, says The Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors.


  1. It seems to me that a Realtor’s prime directive, AKA fiduciary duty, is to his/her client’s financial interests, not to other Realtors’ or related organizations’ interests. How one goes about achieving that end is up to the Realtor and his/her client’s legally acceptable directions. What this Realtor successfully pulled off might seem to be somewhat immoral to some minds, but it was perfectly legal in my opinion.

    Morality is a personal thing based upon society’s currently accepted mores. Legal tenets supersede moral arguments in this case because Realtors operate under a legal framework of stipulated rules. A Realtor’s job is ideally, thus legally, to obtain the best possible financial outcome for his/her client within a timeline acceptable to the client, be he/she a purchaser or seller. Canada is still a quasi-capitalist country. Therefore, the smartest, the most ambitious, the most forward-thinking risk-takers operating within the law most often win. The losers, if they are smart, learn from their mistakes.

    There is an old saying: “Smart people learn from their mistakes. Really smart people learn from others’ mistakes.”

    This particular Realtor is a smart Realtor who obviously obtained the required permission from his seller to market the property the way it was marketed. There is no rule or law that says a property must be offered for sale at a certain price or under what conditions. It is up to potential buyers to deal with the seller on the seller’s terms, or don’t deal with that seller at all. This is not kindergarten, nor grade school, nor high school, nor university, AKA life in a protected bubble. This is real life…life with the big boys and the big girls. There are no safe spaces for big boys and big girls. There are just spaces to be bought and sold. Power migrates to the best operatives and their psychologically savvy clients.

    Kudos to Jim The-Editor-Guy for running this story. Learn from it. That’s what reading about life is all about…learning from life. Don’t like how something is done? Don’t do it then. But don’t rain on someone else’s parade because you lost out on a particular deal or your feelings were hurt. Snowflakes ought not be in this business. Sometimes it gets hot in the kitchen, and snowflakes are the first to melt down.

    Don’t like the strategy? Advocate to change the rules…and the law. But don’t expect change any time soon, because what was done is not illegal.

    BTW: I have a 1995 Dodge Ram pick-up truck that needs a bit of work for sale with only 116,000 original km. thereon. I am offering it for $1.00…or best offer…my choice…as is, where is…best offer, cash on the barrel, being over a certain amount acceptable to me at a time of my choosing…or not. If I get what I want I will sell it, but I may change my mind and decide to keep it no matter how high the offer or what the market says it’s worth. I don’t have to sell it after all my friends. But if I can get more than what It’s worth to me…
    This offer expires at midnight, March 23rd, 2020.

    The line starts to the left…or to the right…likely to the right. Stay six feet apart…and no colluding…it won’t work. Leftists need not apply. They will be left in the dust.

    Maybe the seller in this story didn’t have to sell either. There’s no law against fishing legally for suckers…yet. No one made the sucker bite. The sucker’s own irrational hunger made it bite. The sucker likely doesn’t think he is a sucker at all, after all, he got the prize. Most everyone was a sucker at one time before becoming smart, thus, a winner. Remember: Really smart people learn from others’ mistakes. Don’t like the smell of the fishing hole? Try your luck somewhere else. There’s always another opportunity. Life’s kinda like that.

    • Brian at least you added a caveat. “I am offering it for $1.00…or best offer…my choice…as is, where is…best offer, cash on the barrel, being over a certain amount acceptable to me at a time of my choosing…or not.” Have a wee bit of concern about your statement “needs a wee bit of work”. Not in line.

      • No, no, no David. It doesn’t need a ‘wee’ bit of work; it needs a bit of work, which means a small amount of work, which is more than a ‘wee bit’ of work. Interesting that you only have a ‘wee bit’ of concern about my statement though, which is less than just a bit of concern.

        I read that you say you’re not in line right now, but that might just be a negotiating strategy to get me to lower my asking price(s). Oh, all right; you can have it for fifty cents or best offer, all conditions or non-conditions as stated within my original offering. I know you’re not a leftist, so the line for you forms to the right only. Your odds just got better!

        I just fixed the headlights and tightened the wheel nuts! It comes with a full tank of cheap gas!

        Midnight is on the horizon!

        • I’ll pass thank you! I will get a better deal next week since I recognize that you are a desperate seller. I’m in no hurry.

          • Well Dave, midnight has come and gone, and I have decided to keep old faithful. It’s actually a great truck bought by my uncle new and gifted to me last year. It’s a cream puff. You had it within your grasp! Hold those empty hands with fingers spread wide out in front of you and weep my friend!

            I think we have displayed to the REM readers who too easily get their shorts in a knot what it means to be circumspect over stories about which we do not know the full story. The guy who viewed the subject property and realized that it needed a major overhaul ruined the sky-is-falling indignation of the haters. Moral? Wait until you get the facts, all the facts…then make allowances for unforeseen variables.

            Saunders did what he was paid by his client to do. The buyer got what he wanted for what he was prepared to pay under the circumstances. Everyone specific to the transaction is happy. Everyone else is of no account.

            Market value as I see it is defined as at what dollar value a willing seller will sell his real property to a willing buyer for at a mutually agreed upon price…at a particular point in time under circumstances specific to the subject property’s potential going forward according to the buyer’s expectations based upon his industry specific knowledge…or lack thereof. Thus market value is flexible and ever-changing on a day-to-day basis. Market value as defined and put forth by industry insiders like appraisers and Realtors is simply a convenient benchmark basis for lending money against said properties and establishing asking sale prices respectively in order to keep the wheels rolling.

  2. When Registrants willingly and openly violate previous written instructions of the regulator it’s no wonder the public is so easily conned into using a REALTOR to purchase a home.

    It is illegal to knowingly list a home for a price that a Vendor has stated they will not sell it for.

    Why is the Competition Bureau allowing $1 listings on….then again since these actions are blatant
    violations of the Code of Ethics why has CREA knowingly allowed this practice to not only go on for over a decade but to increase in intensity.

    MLS system rules specifically state these type of listings are a violation of every mls system’s rules in Canada yet those systems allow it to happen.

    I am sure a 30 year veteran who is skilled and knowledgeable has read the dozens of warnings on unethical practices issued in Ontario. If this veteran is oblivious to all the warnings issued including under listing a home
    as 1000s of newbies do monthly, they are prime example why the REALTOR trademark will soon be worthless.

    53 offers???? Really???

    The level of incompetence continues to amaze me!

  3. I went through this property and it was in a complete state disrepair and was actually priced quite accordingly as the house needed a complete gut job. Supply and Demand is the issue here and an the lot zoning allowed for multi family use so this is likely the reason why it went so high. It was priced accurately but because of the demand and lack of supply, someone paid top dollar and then some. The Realtor did his job and represented his client to get them top dollar through negotiating the best possible outcome. If any of those top 5 buyers did not get a chance to improve their offer and lost for $1000 then they would blame the Realtor for not offering them a chance to improve on the offer. No one forced the buyer to buy and at anytime they could have walked away. If they didn’t have a knowledgeable agent working to represent them or used a discount Realtor who was starving for a deal, than that is their own fault. Choose the agent you feel would get you the best return and not because you are paying them the least or think you can not use an agent at all! That is one way to fail at getting the best results….you get what you pay for!

  4. Excellent!

    It would be so much more insightful if the top 3 offer prices were provided.

    At least that would let us know if the winner was in line with the rest.

    I wish RECO if they’re truly interested in protecting the consumer, will find some way under the new changes to actually curtail such one-sided pieces by requiring that disclosure. It’s no secret to the industry that winning bids can be considerably higher than the next competitor.

  5. I am not in real estate and not in the market for buying or selling so one can take my comments at face value. As long as the law permits the market to operate in this fashion it’s impossible to criticize any realtor for operating in his/her client’s best interests, whether listing or representing the buyer. Knowing Mike Saunders for most of his years in real estate is the only reason I am even adding my opinion here. Mike is a very knowledgeable and experienced realtor and has always worked extremely hard for his clients!

  6. This is malpractice, the agent should be knowing his fiduciary duties. Ontario real estate board should take action against this agent.

    • His fiduciary duties are to get his client the best possible outcome and that is what he did for his client. If the buyer did not have an agent of their own to represent them, used a discount agent that is starving for money or a subpar agent, then that is the buyers issue. Looks like the Realtor did his job for his client if you ask me. Buyers who bid on properties without having their own agent have limited rights as the Listing agent is working for the Seller and that’s where his obligations and duties lie.

  7. I listed my property with this realtor and he did a fabulous job! He was great to work with as a buyer and seller.

  8. Wow just a bunch of cry babies on here. The price attracted buyers. Dosnt mean you idiots should start bidding more then the property is worth. If the house sold for that amount it’s because someone decided to purchase it for that amount. Supply and demand.

    Good job on the agent for recognizing the market and seeing the best potential strategy for the seller. Basic supply and demand. Remeber this guy works for the seller of the house. Not you random crybabies.

    • Lol, all that low priced homes do is attract multiple offers, if an agent wants to waste time going through all that…….have fun!

  9. I will not be using this realtor at all after this.
    This happened to us 12 years ago. The house had been on the market for a long time. Once we put our offer in, all of a sudden a second one also came in. The realtor kept coming back to us saying we were so close to the other offer if we would just increase the amount and we did once. In the end, after another request to increase, it just felt dirty and we walked away. Rumour has it, it was a family member who was bidding against us. When we did eventually find our house, we didn’t use that realtor.
    I hope the new owners are happy in their new home after reading this article. I would not be. I would feel sick at the amount of money spent under those circumstances.

  10. The real estate market has become very unpredictable to say the least. A list price that appears lower than market value in this market is not set to trick consumers. If they have a professional buyer agent they should be well aware that it is lower than market price. It could be considered as a reserve price which is common in high price auctions. Homes are available on an open market not a shelf like groceries or socks, which sell at the marked price that day. If people are demanding socks and stock keeps disappearing the price will go up to maximize profit. In today’s world using panicked consumers to demand too much for sanitizer is criminal because it is a real necessity where the home that attracts 53 offers does not qualify as such.
    The way multiple offers are handled is terribly flawed. People are guessing at the price that will win the bid and it may be considerably higher than the next offer
    Under the law that other price cannot be divulged which I never agreed with in my 14 years as a real estate broker. They also, usually buy totally blind as to the condition of the home without an inspection.
    The law should be altered to allow each bidder to know what the others involved are offering, which protects consumers. In addition, I would make an inspection mandatory if there are more than 3 buyers and the price will exceed 110% of the list price. This will ensure a fair price is reached and the consumer has not been taken by over paying maybe with only emotion.
    There has been a lot of criticism of the agent listing the home. My opinion is that they have not been under handed at all. The house was on the open market for which everyone had a chance to offer on this home
    If they thought the home would sell for $299k they are misguided and should get a better agent to represent them. The listing agents job is to get thè nest price for his client by negatiating with the buyer agents and that is what was done with the 8 offers he got back to in order to get there best offer. As a buyer you can always say “no more” to your agent, simple as that.
    I have to recommend that whether you are a buyer or a selleŕ make sure you have a reputable knowledgeable agent to serve you. It has happened that a listing agent is not honest and might suggest your house is awful but my Dad will buy it from you for a little bit more than I feel the value is and he will close quickly.
    Caveat emptor.

  11. I looked at this house it needed about $150,000. in repairs. It’s not the realtors fault. We passed on it because it was so bad. Someone over bid period.

  12. i am a real estate agent, and I totally agree that under pricing and holding offer date should not be allowed, it creates fear and wastes lots of people’s time and effort.

  13. I searched MLS. The last sale of a fixer upper on Connaught St. sold 5 months ago for $435,000!!! This guy listed the property at least $136,000 under market value to create false hope and a bidding war. Salespeople like this harm the integrity of the real estate market and also the reputation of true real estate professionals. This is not an indication of the market. The editor should remove this article.

    • I completely agree. I’ve been a realtor for most of my professional life and tactics like this demonstrate utter disregard for our code of ethics and require zero talent.

  14. WOW REM, I guess you got told and appropriately so, this practice is not indicative of anything nor worthy of reporting.

  15. This realtor should be ASHAMED, not applauded !

    Should have done his due diligence and priced the home PROPERLY, instead of wasting the time of 52 buyers and their agents. And REM has the gall to give this guy more advertising?
    Realtors should know this type of pricing scam helps NO ONE except the advertising agent, as even the sellers are forced to undergo a very stressful week for no proven gain.

    Delete this article and somebody file a RECO complaint.

    • Totally agree. These practices could create emotional and mental breakdowns. I hope RECO makes this practice illegal and charge agents for not doing their due diligence. It used to be, many years ago, illegal to sell a property above the list price which eliminated shady sellers and agents.

      • I would say that no one to blame but the buyers and bidders. It’s no question of dem n supply but at this time it’s either panic buying or buyers who are going to repent later.

  16. I would not list my dog house with this brokerage or this sales representative. He appears to not have enough brains or business acumen to list the property at fair market value from the outset and try to generate competing offers from that point on.

    Would that not have saved lot of work for him, his team and all of the other agents who spent time and money with showings and writing up offers with very little chance of sucess.

    How responsible is it to restrict offers to no conditions??? I believe RECO should be looking at this and acting accordingly without waiting for a complaint to be registered against this agent.

  17. Sad, where is OREA on this….ugly short sighted greed….makes all agents out to be clowns and like someone said before 1 happy(but confused) person and 50 pissed off and sad, great way to run a business in any times…wonder how many buyers and sellers will feel PurpleBricks or ComFree is a better option.

  18. Too bad, here goes another sham! You did nothing to build confidence in the market and future Buyers! You’re the big boy today, hurray! But tomorrow your Sellers will be Buyers and then what do you think, they’ll think? You are to short sited.
    Good luck!

  19. This is a perfect example of a situation where current (widely accepted) practices are sullying the name of the entire profession. It used to be a career that was one of great integrity, one to be proud of. Realtors (and teachers) were held in the highest esteem. We were a respected and trusted member of our community.

    But today, not so much. We aren’t even in the home selling business anymore, we are in the home auctioning business. List price means nothing anymore.

    Under pricing a home so a buyer thinks they could actually secure a home for under x dollars when we as professionals know the true value is misleading at best, outright deception at worst.

    Telling multiple people their offers are all good but not quite good enough and giving them the opportunity to “improve their offer” borders on unethical because there is a slim-nil chance that there were multiple identical offers; so why not actually choose the best one like we did 4 years ago? 4 years ago the best one is the one who offered $5100 over asking when the other one was only $5000 over asking. That’s the truth, because yours is better by $100, your offer was considered better. Simple.

    In today’s world of real estate some agents would have you believe that an offer that is $5000 over is considered “close” to the guy who offers $10000 more than asking and so feels justified asking for more money from potential buyers, using the rhetoric that their offers are “too close” to choose. To even suggest they are and therefore warrant a 2nd kick at the can is manipulative,misleading, unethical. Offers that are thousands of dollars apart are not “close”. There is no reason to go back to buyers to improve their offer. In all likelihood there already is a best offer. This practice does nothing to support the integrity of the process and build trust in our industry.

    Congratulations to the listing agent in your story because both his buyer and seller are probably happy (don’t get me started on multiple representation) but now you also have 52 people walking away with the very clear perception that we are guilty of manipulating the process and driving up prices. The question lingers: are they wrong?

    • This kind of approach and attitude is only made by resentful people that lost. The same person if was selling would be happy. Thats just hypocrisy. And pricing a home always was either under over or just right. When realtor prices it and sells 100k over, realtor only hopes it will happen but does not know where it will end up. Market decides. But yes realtors are bad, politicians are crooked and rich doctors are only in it for the money. Sad attitude.

  20. The price low to create interest is a scam. So is the No Conditions. List at an appropriate price and stop the madness. So many buyers are sick of this game. Buyers will hopefully sue the pants of greedy realtors who tell them to waive all conditions. Will the realtor turn over $15K of commission to deal with major defects, vermiculite, structural problems? Or are they off the luxury car dealer. Don’t boast about selling $191,000 over ask. Ask yourself “are you worth more than a brain surgeon?” You are NOT. Anyone can become an agent online within a few months. The price wars you have created will settle down, prices will adjust, and many greedy bragging agents will look toward other income streams. It takes no talent or knowledge to list a fixer upper $200k below value.


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