Always interesting to read different approaches to buying and selling in this age of super-fast technology and the gadgets that make our real estate transactions work. However, I’m suggesting that we not totally lose sight of “old school” approaches every now and then.

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Here in Ottawa and surrounding area we have a hot sellers’ market, many properties selling with multiple offers, leaving disappointed buyers in their wake. On Tuesday last, a property was entertaining offers at 6 p.m. The listing agent kept all interested parties informed all day. Because her sellers were either not comfortable with e-signing or didn’t have the technology at their disposal, the presentation would be live at their house at 6.

She asked all interested buyer reps to have paperwork to her by 5:30 so she could print copies and take them with her to the property. My buyers were making an offer. Hmmm, says I.

My buyers signed their offer, I printed two copies, drove an hour to the house, had my buyers in tow behind me in their own car, rang the doorbell at 5:55 (having not let the listing agent know I was coming), handed her the two copies and waited in the driveway.

Twenty minutes later we get a counteroffer with a 10-minute irrevocable, accepted on the hood of my car by the driveway-waiting buyers (all in masks, of course) and, voila, blew everyone else out of the water.

It was exhilarating fun! The selling agent later told me that the strategy was what turned the tide in our favour. Did I mention that I’ve been at this for 35 years and taught grade school for 15 years prior to real estate? So, doing the math, I’m not exactly in the glow of youthful exuberance. So is it “old school” in a new-school market or is it some things old can be new again?

Bob Blake
Royal LePage Team Realty


  1. I think everyone is missing a huge point. You just showed up 5 minutes before the presentation time. Sure, okay for your buyers, you were representing them quite well. But if I were the Seller’s rep I would have been furious. Lots of extra phone calls to make to other agents who had abided by the presentation rules and had them registered early. They in turn would have had to contact their buyers that there was another offer to compete with. Say there was only one offer. Now that buyer’s rep would have had to talk to their buyer that they were in competition. A big delay. Okay, I also understand it is in my Seller’s best interest to have another offer, but have you ever had to hold the phone arm’s length from your ear because an agent who followed the rules was yelling at you! No? Lucky you.

    • Hi Maureen:

      I have a question for you: Would you do what Bob did given similar circumstances in order to give ‘your’ buyer the best service possible? After all, you would be his/her advocate, would you not? Why would you be concerned about other, competing Realtor’s feelings…or their clients feelings for that matter? No actual rule was broken, because there are no hard and fast rules when it boils down to representing one’s client in a manner that results in one’s fiduciary duty being fully realized, no matter the consequences that might arise from competitors’ feelings. Someone’s got to win, and someone’s got to lose. It had better be ‘your’ client that wins. It’s that simple. Being a Realtor is not for the faint-of-heart-crowd that believes in socialism and nineteenth century British-style gentlemanly duel behaviour.

      Being a professional Realtor actually is a zero-sum game…when acting in good faith on behalf of one’s client, is it not?

      • Hello Brian.
        A simple answer to your question: No. It is not the way I give my buyer the best possible service by just “showing up.” It could be a colossal waste of time and my buyer would think I was unprofessional. I would contact the Seller’s representative while with my buyer and before he signed, and ask important questions, such as has the Seller bought something that would mean inflexible closing date, are the appliances negotiable, how many offers are registered, can I be at the offer table. Once I had that information I would explain and suggest to my buyer how the offer terms should be amended as to price, deposit and inclusions and conditions in order for my buyer to feel confident he was putting forth his best offer, should he win or lose.

        • Hi again Maureen:

          Thanks for your reply. I can deduce by your rationale that you do indeed consider what your buyer clients might think of you before the fact of making a deal in scenarios such as this. But, we see things differently in one very important area.

          What is our primary mission as a Realtor acting for our clients? I view it thus: We are advocates for our clients’ financial interests, first and foremost. We are fiduciary activists for our clients…or at least we should be. What does that mean? It means we do whatever is legally necessary to advance our clients’ financial interests. This might include stepping on the toes of competing Realtors and ‘their’ clients’ financial interests in order to produce the best financial result for one’s client. Acting as an advocate Realtor for one’s client is not the same as adhering to rules in a school-room debate. Being a nice guy/gal to the other side goes out the window when one is involved in procuring the best financial deal for one’s client.

          My final questions are thus: Operating under your rules of engagement, would your client have secured this subject property as did Bob’s? If so, do you think your clients would have then thought you to be unprofessional? Or do you think they would have thought you to be very smart, shrewd, and strictly in their corner as their advocate?

          I’m not trying to put you down; I’m just explaining what I believe most buyer clients expect of their representatives, and it is this: They expect you to act for them, and them only. They don’t care about others’ concerns; that is for the other side’s Realtor to deal with. Sub agency is dead; it should never have been policy. It only contributes to deals being made between so-called competing Realtors behind closed doors for the sake of generating commissions. Concern for competing Realtors should be left to after-hours junkets to the bar by making sure they don’t drive home drunk.

          I realize my way of doing business may seem harsh to some, but this is a competitive business, and within that structure self-refereeing in favour of the competition, to any degree, works against one’s client’s interest. Realtors aren’t referees. They’re warriors fighting for their side. After all, there’s always a lot of money at stake as well as one’s client’s emotional well being to be considered. If competing Realtors are not pleased with how you acquired a property for your client over their clients, then you know you did your job. You left them flat-footed. Too bad. Live and learn.

          BTW: Do you always believe what a competing Realtor tells you when you ask pertinent questions about his/her listing and client’s wishes? That Realtor’s answers will likely be couched in favour of his/her client’s interests, as they should be.

          Once an offer is drafted, present it as soon as possible. Trying to make a deal verbally before the fact of presenting a written offer is a fool’s game. Forget niceties. There’s too much coziness in this business. Your job is to make the deal for your client on his/her/their terms before anyone else gets in on the action. Time is of the essence…remember? You can apologize for stepping on toes after the fact. Those toes’ owners don’t pay the bills. Your clients do. Don’t step on ‘their’ toes, and no apologies will be required for your side.

  2. When was the last time you went to your house mail box where there is still house to house delivery post mail (anywhere still?) or to your super box and found an actual envelope with a greeting card in it?

    Yes of course it’s easy to email a rememberable greeting card. But many older folks miss the tactile sensation of feeling real paper.

    A thought occurred to me that if, in particular, agents working the senior’s market might attract business by old-fashioned “mail by postal service,” a pleasant simple greeting card that maybe says: Thinking of you today. Of course you include your business card. No other advertising. And definitely not a Corp note card.

    Receivers actually save these beautiful cards because they receive so few and far between. Or not at all. Many seniors have no extended family but still live at home. This certainly would make you rememberable. It did me. I sent out such cards by the gross, across the city not just in my farms, literally. I also used such enveloped cards as tuck-in’s in the newspaper pull-out sections delivered to homes.

    What is one thing in particular that is appreciated by those living in seniors’ homes? Why a calendar of course. I always left a box of my beautiful custom made collapsible tent calendars at the front desk. Several dozen were distributed to occupant rooms. They were placed on their bedside tables to be at easy reach. The staff loved it because for so many occupants no one cared. Who called me? People who visited, or relatives if there were any (who had houses to sell), and often staff called, months after the fact. I was sometimes surprised when asking from where they got my name.

    I also sent my beautiful custom tent calendars across Canada to real estate offices. A surprising inexpensive network opportunity to stay in touch.

    Carolyne L ?

  3. Congratulations Bob I too have been a realtor for 35 years and despite all the changes in technology it’s interesting that your experience resulted in a successful transaction.

  4. Good job Bob, I too am “old school” in for many years. If working for seller I most times present in person as I do not believe I can explain all terms and fine print of an offer via text/phone or email and it is our job to make sure they understand, of course this depends lot on where they are. LOL how many of us remember The Flying Dutchman restaurant along 401 highway at Bowmanville, favourite meeting place for realtors & buyers or sellers. Only question I have is if you drove offer to place why didn’t you present it too? Did the sellers have a restriction on presentation?

  5. Bob, congrats on executing the trade for your clients while appeasing the seller’s comfort level. Although modern technology has increased efficiencies for clients, this is a good reminder that we must be understanding of clients’ preferences towards a good old wet ink signature. Although most of our mortgage clients can go A-Z digitally, we are still often asked to visit in person. That’s that for you!

  6. It’s the Art of the deal! I stress so often even now. Pick up the phone! The Art of the deal is so key at times. Great read and congrats Bob.

    • Yes, indeed, congratulations all round. We lived and worked in a different time warp years ago.

      That book indeed is a great read
      from many years ago when it was published.

      No fax, no FedEx to the yacht, email not, (early 1990s). Not even a phone on the boat. Owners were someplace near Kincardine. Had to leave “offer registered” msg on house for sale phone and hope occasionally seller family would get their msg and let me know how to present. My listing, co-op offer.

      Arrangements were made that the listing owners would tie up their then million dollar boat and meet me at their cottage that oddly was literally just a small shack on a dirt path, with a cot, nothing there worth anyone stealing passing by, a 400 sf place no bigger than a tent, they owned on land at water’s edge. They arrived in an old battered rowboat.

      Their expensive extra long RV was in the listed house circular driveway back in Brampton. No place up north to park it near the “boathouse.”
      They practically lived on the big boat. I never got to see it.

      I drove the offer several hours north outside Toronto area, all the way from Brampton to Kincardine and came back to put up the sold sign and hand-deliver copies.

      I sometimes have mentioned my memory of not seeing real stars in the sky, living in the big city. The trip home in the dark was a memory worth keeping. Pitch black but for the stars. No moon. The stars overhead seemed to beckon: reach out and touch me. That was nearly thirty years ago and I will not forget those special stars. A most memory-filled easy offer. No sign-back. The listing local house had been custom built by parents of a famous Hollywood movie star and it had an indoor pool. Not overly large house. I had sold the house to the current owner a few years earlier.

      As a result of that re-sale I was recommended and fortunate to have eight other nearby transactions quite soon. Sold signs are the best advertising. They have babies.

      It pays to go the extra mile. Literally. But I always referred out listings and buyers outside my immediate trading area soon after my 1980 foray into this business as soon as I discovered farming paid off and seemed to offer a substantial return on my marketing investment. Always deliver that little bit extra.

      Doesn’t matter if a 28k property value or a million-dollar one. Everyone is worth triple A representation. And you never know who knows whom, where, or is related in some way. Word gets around. Often seems airborne.

      Carolyne L ?

  7. Well done, Bob. I too have been in the business a long time. I remember driving from Brockville, where my office was located. to Toronto with my Business partner and my offer on his listing. The offer price was $28,000 but there was no fax, no overnight courier and certainly no e-signatures. Sometimes you do what you need to do and you did it. Congratulations!


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