Their Client Was Ready to Buy the Home. Then Came the Curveball.
How last-minute demands almost derailed these deals
How last-minute demands almost derailed these deals
Frances Katzen, broker and head of the Katzen Team, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, New York City
I had a buyer who was adamant about having a very quiet apartment. He was a nice guy, very smart, but he had an issue with noise. He didn’t want to have any kind of impact from the city once he stepped into his home.
I worked with him for nine months. We found an apartment on the East Side, a one-bedroom on a side street that we visited 12 times. He wanted to know what day the garbage trucks came and where the building’s mechanicals were, like for the elevator. He wanted to understand what time of day the street got busiest and what kind of riffraff was there. The apartment wasn’t on a particularly high floor, and he wanted to know how noise carried.
We went back during business hours. Normally, we stop showing at 6 at night, but we went back on a Saturday at 8 p.m. to hang out and see what was going on. After that, he asked if he could come back on a weekend morning. He asked people in the lobby of the building what they thought. The seller’s broker was getting pissed off.
After going back and forth, we struck a deal. We had an accepted offer. Then at the 11th hour, he turned around and said he would like the seller to install soundproof windows.
The seller was like, “You know what? I’ve bent over giving you access, you jackass.” But eventually they decided to do it. We all had to chip in for the windows. I threw in a little bit to show my support. It was like $12,000. We were doing a triple-glaze and my client wanted them to be attractive. It took weeks.
We’re at the closing, and he says, “After further consideration, I just feel like I’m rushing into this.”
I said, “Stop—you’ve been trying to do this with me for nine months.”
He said, “I just feel like maybe I should wait.”
Finally, I said, “Do you really want to be out there paying rent?”
And he said, “OK.” He has been happy since, but it’s always such a bloody process.
Peter Torkan, founder and managing partner, The Agency Toronto, Toronto
It was a 26,000-square-foot home: 10 bedrooms, 16 bathrooms, an indoor swimming pool, indoor spa, a tennis court and a beautiful water fountain in the backyard—you name it. I represented the seller, who was a billionaire.
I showed the house to a billionaire couple. They went through the house and absolutely fell in love with it. They went back for a second visit, and then they went for a third time with a feng shui master. The feng shui master went through the whole house and approved it. The tour took about 1½ hours, at least. While they were in the house, the buyers ran into the housekeeper and started talking to her. She had been there three or four years and was extremely familiar with the house.
They submitted an offer. We went back and forth, and finally an offer of $15.888 million was accepted. There were two hooks. The seller had over $1 million in furniture in the house, and the buyer wanted every piece of furniture to be included—free of charge. The second hook was a nut-job clause: The housekeeper to stay with the house. They made it a contingency of the sale.
I told the agent, “You want over $1 million worth of furniture. If the seller is willing to sell it to you, maybe we can negotiate. But this condition that the
housekeeper stays in the house—I can’t demand that.”
If the seller had signed the offer and the housekeeper refused to stay, the whole deal would have fallen apart because of that stupid contingency. It took 31 days of back and forth and back and forth. The buyer wanted the furniture in the main bedroom, the dining room, the family room.
We decided to give them a few things to make them happy, throw in certain pieces of furniture. But the buyer was adamant: The lady had to stay.
Finally, I lost it. I told the buyer’s agent, “It’s impossible. How can you demand somebody stay? Maybe they don’t like your face. Let’s cancel the deal. You go ahead and buy something else.”
This was just a bluff, but I’m a good poker player. The next day the agent called me and said, “We are going to remove that condition.”
Afterward, I found out that the housekeeper actually did stay. I assume they made a deal. And funny enough, the sellers left behind a $100,000 Bang & Olufsen sound system and TV. It was humongous.
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Property values have fallen hard and fast in this popular city, but it’s done little to dent pandemic rises
Highest property values, biggest dip the next. That’s the outcome for Australia’s northernmost capital on the east coast, with Brisbane property values recording their largest and fastest decline, data from Corelogic reveals.
The fall comes just seven months after values hit their peak after a population surge driven by the pandemic saw an increase of 43 percent. Home values hit a record high on June 19, 2022 but have since declined 10.9 percent, in parallel with eight consecutive interest rate rises since April last year.
Historically, peak-to-trough declines in Brisbane have lasted 14 months and have ranged from value drops of -2.9 percent to -10.8 percent. While the new record is just -0.1 percent compared with previous figures, that fall came over 21 months between April 2010 and January 2012. The latest decline was a much swifter seven month drop.
CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said it is worth putting the Brisbane figures into context with the rest of Australia’s capital cities, as well as considering the significant rise in property values in the Queensland capital over the pandemic.
“Brisbane now stands out as one of two capital city markets with record declines, the other being Hobart,” Ms Owen said. “Sydney continues to have the largest peak-to-trough falls of the capital city markets (currently at -13.8 percent), while peak-to-tough falls remain mild in some cities (such as Perth, where values are down just -1.0 percent from a recent peak in August 2022).”
“The record fall in Brisbane home values has not made much of a dent in the gains made during the upswing. The fall in the Brisbane daily HVI follows an upswing of 43.5 percent between August 2020 and 19 June 2022, which was the fastest trajectory of rising values on record. This leaves home values across Brisbane 27.9 percent higher than at the previous trough in August 2020.”
The median dwelling value in Brisbane jumped from $506,553 at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to $707,658 by the end of last year, Ms Owen said.
“Despite the large decline from peak, Brisbane maintains the third highest gain in value of the capital cities since the start of the pandemic,” she said.
“Only Adelaide and Darwin, which are 42.8 percent and 29.6 percent higher respectively than at the onset of the pandemic, have performed stronger.
“For this reason, there is marginal risk of negative equity for Brisbane homeowners, with the exception of very recent buyers, who purchased around the peak in June 2022 with less than a 20 percent deposit.”
However, there are signs of resilience in the market. Brisbane remains a more affordable option compared with the other east coast capitals, Ms Owen said.
Although housing values remain higher than pre-COVID levels, Brisbane retains a lower price point than Sydney, with a $435,170 difference in median house values and $280,749 difference in median unit values,” she said.
“The gap between Brisbane and Melbourne housing values is also significant, with a $119,697 gap between median house values and $97,692 difference in median unit values.
“This could encourage ongoing housing demand from those willing to migrate to the state, or own an interstate investment.”
The largest single-dwelling sales of the calendar year.