Dear Zuess,

I have a listing and it isn’t selling.  It’s a great house in a good but not great area.  We priced it right but it’s just not getting any showings.  We had some good activity when it first came out three weeks ago but now, nothing.  My clients close on their new place at the beginning of September and need a firm sale to get the bridge financing.  What should I do?

Jesse from North York

Dear Jesse,

You’ve been hit with the summer doldrums.

The doldrums are a belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.  They often move more northerly in the summer months.sailboat

The doldrums are also a state of inactivity or stagnation, in business or art.  This commonly occurs in August.

Ancient sailing ships were often becalmed in the doldrums for weeks.  In the modern era, we can use technology to avoid the doldrums and if we fail at that, we can use the engine on board our sailing yacht to escape the calm.

Your client has two choices.  Wait or start their engine.  They can choose to wait if they can arrange financing for the two properties and they believe that the fall market will be stronger than the current market.   Otherwise, they will have to start their engine and just like the sailor that doesn’t want to motor for days (sailboats motor very slowly and the rhythm is unpleasant), your client isn’t going to love this solution.  You need to find them a buyer and the motivation for that buyer is going to be value.

There are always value buyers in the market in good parts of Toronto and a price reduction and/or powerful sales conversations with other agents and potential buyers will yield an offer.  Once you are successful at obtaining a written offer, your client has something to work with.

Follow up with each of the agents that showed the property when it first came on the market.  Ask if their client has purchased anything yet.  If not, ask, “Putting price aside for a moment, does your client have any interest in the property?”  If no, thank them and ask for the specifics to help you advise your clients.  If they hesitate or ask what you mean, you likely have a potential buyer.  Now you are negotiating on behalf of your client and your job is to get a written offer without disclosing information that would be harmful to your client.  It’s a fine line, but it’s the line that the skilled negotiator must walk.

If you feel that disclosing some information will help you get an offer then with your clients’ permission, share the information in a collaborative relationship.  Do not share sensitive information with a competitive negotiator.

If this doesn’t produce any offers, your next path may be a significant price reduction; or the more subtle approach of using your networks of agents, investors, lawyers, and other advocates to communicate with their spheres to let them know that a great value opportunity is available for the savvy buyer who acts quickly.  This can work well as many value buyers want to feel that they have an exclusive opportunity.  We use to call this the “back of the cigarette package” deal, but that goes back a really long time.

Sharpen your sales and negotiation skills and get out there and get your client an offer.  Good luck Jesse.



Columnist, The Nature of Real Estate


Dear Zuess is a column dedicated to offering tips for real estate agents that want to do their best navigating the summer real estate doldrums. Do you have any real estate binds you’ve been in lately? Drop Zuess a line at