Why are so many conditional sales falling through in 2017?

We have noticed a marked increase in the number of sales that have “fallen through” this year and not firmed up, once conditionally sold.

A conditional sale is reached after an Agreement of Purchase and Sale has been agreed to and signed by both parties and typically calls for a conditional sales period during which the buyer satisfies their purchasing conditions such as inspection and financing. This period is generally 5 business days for most properties but may run to 10 business days or more if additional inspections are required or in the case of condominiums where buyers must wait for the property manager to produce up to date condo status documentation.

What metrics do we have on the issue?
Unfortunately, this data is not recorded, reported or available in any meaningful way by our real estate board or realtor system. On our realtor dashboard, we have a section of the screen that keeps us informed about the number of new listings, price changes, conditional sales, sales, listing cancellations and the telling “back on market” category.  (here is what a section of our realtor dashboard looks like and our only source of data)

 

New Listing (111)
Back On Market (18)
Price Decrease (48)
Price Increase (1)
Conditional Sale (100)
Sold (87)
Expired (21)
Leased (0)
Cancelled (34)
Rented (13)
Suspended (2)

Back on market listings are those that are returning to active status and are mostly made up of those that were previously conditionally sold and are now being returned to “active” sales status.

Historically, this “back on market” category runs about 5% of new listings in our experience over the last several years. This year however, that number is more like 8-10% or more which means that the number of sales falling through is approaching double what it had previously been.

What causes sales to fall through and why so many more this year?
Good old fashioned “buyer’s remorse”
Buyer’s remorse can always be a factor in sales falling through. One partner may have liked the property more than the other or perhaps the buyers are just not prepared enough or on the same page regarding key buying criteria.  When this happens, unfortunately, many other parties are affected and their plans sidelined.

Because of our stronger market this year, many buyers may feel rushed to put in an offer before they are really ready, as they fear “missing out” on the property if they don’t.

Seeing a property once for a 30 or 40 minute visit may not be enough to get a full grasp or comfort level, so we may be seeing some impulsive buying decisions as a result. We recommend at least two visits to a property for buyers but this market doesn’t necessarily allow time for that level of investigation and research..

This can be especially so for buyers shopping high demand areas and price points who may have lost out on other properties or multiple offers by not being “quick enough”.

Inspections:

Inspections are the number 1 cause of sales falling through, because hidden or pricier to fix than expected items in a home, once understood, often lead to a renegotiation of a selling price which means there is a chance for the deal to fall apart.

In our market favouring sellers, many sellers may believe that there are lots more buyers out there waiting to buy their property, so may not be motivated to adjust the agreed selling price or fix issues pointed out in inspections. This is very true for properties which sell fairly quickly after listing or those sold in multiple offers.

Buyers in these circumstances may be feeling they are paying a premium price for a property and therefore can have an expectation that certain things should be addressed by a seller, so there is good potential for a disconnect between buyer and seller.

Financing:

As mortgage qualifications have tightened (and now with rising rates) more buyers may be getting surprised when the time comes to get the final mortgage approval during the conditional sales period. If there are hiccups in mortgage approval, some buyers may have to walk away from a house they really love.

So why is this is this a worry in a strong market?

Sales that fall through waste a lot of time, energy and money. A seller’s property is effectively “off the market” during the buyer conditional period and they may lose other qualified buyers who buy something else in the interim.

The seller’s plans are totally “on hold” and they cannot go forward until the sale firms up, so it can be a stressful waiting period for all involved. Realtors meanwhile, get no extra compensation for having helped buyer or seller through a transaction that does not complete.

Stigma on conditionally sold property:

Like it or not, there is a bit of a stigma attached to a property which has been conditionally sold but then falls through. So much so, that the real estate board allows the record of that conditional sale to be expunged from the sales history record, so as not to prejudice future buyers and their realtors.

Most buyers and Realtors will be suspicious and assume there was some inspection issue that surfaced.

Can you imagine how many fall through in private sales?

If a large number of sales are running in to problems with professional realtors advising both buyer and seller, can you imagine what the factor might be in the private sale arena?

Bottom line:

This is an offshoot of what is essentially a very healthy market with strong demand and enthusiastic buyers possibly jumping too soon for fear of losing out on a new listing. It also tests realtors who must do their utmost to make sure their buyers are fully prepared to complete conditional sales and negotiate the inevitable rocky patch that may occur between conditional sale and firm.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
oasisrealty@rogers.com
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com  blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com
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Is there a shortage of quality listings in Ottawa real estate?

 

It wasn’t too long ago that buyers had the upper hand in Ottawa, as we were saddled with excess listing inventory, flat sales and very low average price increases. It is looking like 2017 may be a whole new ball game though and we may be in the first stages of another seller’s market, which we have not had  for at least 5 or 6 years.

2016 was a transition year:
Between 2013-15 we experienced a period of excess listing inventory which combined with flat sales and price increases, created a market favouring buyers in general. (Although some high demand urban neighbourhoods may not have experienced this quite as much)

Starting about a year ago, we have seen unit sales improve consistently and though prices have remained fairly flat until recently, the number of new listings and overall listing inventory has decreased steadily…a good sign!

Overall listing inventory right now: (early March 2017)
Our current available listing inventory is well below (20%) some peak levels experienced in 2015 and new listings continue to lag behind by approximately 10%. Unit sales improved in 2016 and currently seem to be improving further.   As these trends continue, we end up with a supply/demand shift favouring sellers and more competition among buyers for fewer available listings.

“Chronic”, overpriced, stale or unique listings:
There is always a certain percentage of listings that fall in to this category and these lower demand listings are bypassed quickly by most buyers. Though these listings are shown in overall “available” listings totals, they are not in high demand, regardless of the improved overall environment.

One buyer example:
In doing a search for a current buyer, we found the following out of 31 listings that met their general specifications:
Chronic listings on the market for extended period: 9 listings or 29% (anything beyond 90 days we consider chronic which means either the property has a problem and/or is overpriced.)

Busy street or other location issue: 7 (this young family does not want a primary or secondary collector street)

Unique listing or one with an obvious issue: 5 (not looking for a fixer upper or one with has obvious resale challenges in future)

Total: 21/31 listings or 67.7% of available listings are not viable for this particular buyer couple, leaving only 10 properties to consider. So while there might seem to be a fair number of listings, there really is not for these customers.

As it turns out our buyers have submitted an offer on one of these properties but it looks like it will be their 2nd go round in a multiple offer situation, in as many weeks.

New listings sell fast:
The sell through of new listings at this time of year is 50% or more of new listings selling in less than 30 days, so buyers don’t have a lot of research and decision making time. Being prepared and having a well prioritized search can really help ensure one is ready to jump on new listings, as soon as they happen.

Bottom Line:
There is not a major shortage of overall listings (a la Toronto) but the demand for quality listings is improving and in many cases,  greater relative to supply, so buyers and their representatives need to be on top of their game or someone else will beat them to the hot new listings hitting the market.

Having a Realtor buyer representative fully engaged in one’s search is even more critical at this busiest time of the year.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage

www.oasisrealtyottawa.com   oasisrealty@rogers.com

One of the highest ranked and “liked” real estate pages:  https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/

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Multiple offers puts additional stress on all parties

lots of twists and turns but ultimately only one across the finish line
lots of twists and turns but ultimately only one buyer gets the prize

Our Ottawa market is showing some strong signals that we may be seeing a return of seller’s market conditions, with stronger demand, rising prices and the increase in the number of multiple offer situations. This can be a stressful experience for all parties, particularly buyers who have not experienced the process.

We recently competed in a multiple offer (representing a buyer) on a detached single home in the south end which attracted 5 offers within 48 hours of being listed on MLS®. We were not successful with our offer and our buyers were very disappointed but we gave it our best shot in the fast paced process surrounding these types of situations.

Here are some of the key challenges in the process:

Compressed timelines:
The listing was just posted on MLS® later on Monday. We alerted our buyers to the new listing that evening and requested a showing directly via the listing agent that night.  We actually viewed the property twice on Tuesday, once with one of our buyers and the 2nd time with both buyers. (one of our buyers was actually able to take the day off  work to get in to see property as early as possible)

We submitted an offer on Tuesday evening that was slightly over asking price, as we expected that demand would be reasonably strong given the amount of showing activity on the listing. We were aware of the fact that another offer was pending and it had been submitted just prior to our own offer.

Our buyers revised their offer price upwards, based on the 2nd offer.

The listing salesperson had now established an offer presentation time for Wednesday later afternoon. By early-mid afternoon Wednesday, we were aware that there were now a total of 4 offers registered on the property.  (there ultimately ended up being 5 offers submitted)

Our buyers revised their offer price upwards a 2nd time to their absolute maximum and we submitted revised documentation to the listing sales person.

Buyer roller coaster:
Buyers are caught on a roller coaster of emotions: from the elation of seeing a property they both really want in their price range and area, to happily submitting an offer which is over the listing price and hoping there are not too many offers, to frustration from waiting around without any control of the situation, to stressing about how much one should offer and avoiding temptation to overpay or remove some important condition from the offer which may help “win” the property bid but prove costly later, to the anticipation of waiting and hoping your offer will make it to the top of the pile, to the disappointment that comes from finding out that it was a good offer but not quite good enough.

Sellers are happier but not stress free:
Sellers are definitely the beneficiaries of the best possible market value in these scenarios but they are certainly not stress free. This young family was pretty much shut out of their home for the better part of 2 days while buyers and their agents toured the property.

These sellers also have a home they are buying, so until their own property sells and firms up, they are not 100% sure of securing their own dream home. Even if it looks pretty good right now, it is still not over until the final paperwork is done with any buyer conditions satisfied.

Buyer representatives have a lot of conflicting pressures:
All buyer representatives want the right property for their buyers and at the right price. While one-on-one negotiations with a listing agent and seller have one set of challenges and variables, multiple offer situations are completely different and the buyer representative has far less control or influence over the outcome.

Price, closing date and conditions are the critical factors and we want our buyers to win but not pay too much or sacrifice important conditions. i.e. like foregoing a home inspection or not including a financing condition.

Add to this the uncertainty of knowing what the “winning” price might be and how to properly advise buyers is a challenging task.

No “cake-walk” for the listing salesperson, either:
The listing sales person has their own set of pressures in professionally representing the seller, co-ordinating access for showings, communicating on a timely basis with all interested parties and running a well-organized and credible multi offer submission, advising sellers on bid selection, negotiations and debriefing all who have submitted offers. This is a pressure packed process for them as well.  In this case, we had a very professional listing salesperson who very ably managed all of these from our vantage point.

Everyone’s life is “on hold”:
All parties to these situations are pretty much “on call” as the dynamics of these situations unfold and the process lurches towards a conclusion. Don’t miss out on a phone call, text or email-as you may lose out on timely information or ability to act upon that information. When the ultimate prize is so important, everything is circumspect and under a microscope.  Did we do everything we could?  Was there more information we should have had?  Should we have been more aggressive?  How much risk should we take?

This is definitely starting to look like a “you snooze…you lose” kind of market:
What about the buyer representative who missed the listing or the buyer who wasn’t quick enough to even get in to see it? What about the buyer representative who wasn’t available to get their buyers in to see the property?  What about the buyer who said: “let’s wait for an Open House”?

Bottom Line:
It is always disappointing to “lose” but our buyers did everything they possibly could and are moving on to the next one. Our job is to find them an even better one than the one that got away and it’ll happen for them!

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com   oasisrealty@rogers.com

One of the highest ranked and “liked” real estate pages:  https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/

“all the real estate news that’s fit to tweet”  https://twitter.com/OasisrealtyOTT

One of Ottawa’s best real estate blogs: http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/

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