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Sometimes, you find yourself as the only bidder on a home on offer night…which should be great…except you’ve gotten so used to competing with 5 or 10 other potential Buyers that you start to panic. What’s wrong with this house? What did I miss? Why doesn’t anybody else want to live here?  What’s wrong with me? Why is nobody else bidding on this house? 

While there may be something wrong with the house or location and you and your REALTOR need to do more digging and due diligence, there are also all kinds of reasons that aren’t related to the actual property that might be the reason nobody else is making an offer. This might actually be an opportunity for you to get a great house and not have to compete. 

Here are some of the reasons houses don’t get multiple offers on offer night:

  • Another similar home is taking offers on the same night and everybody decided to bid on that one instead
  • The photos are terrible and people are bypassing it online
  • The home wasn’t marketed well and the right people didn’t see it
  • The listing agent made a mistake on the MLS and miscategorized the type of home or its location (this actually happens more often than you’d think…lofts that are categorized as condos, detached houses that appear as semis, etc.)
  • The timing was bad: bad weather, truck convoys, new covid variants or new lockdown conditions encouraged people to stay home
  • The asking price was too high to encourage multiple offers A below-market listing price is critical to attracting multiple offers, and it needs to be in line with buyer expectations. If properties are selling 10% above asking price on average, smart Buyers will add 10% to the listing price to determine if it’s in their budget. Properties listed at market value that also have a bidding war date will be judged as overpriced.
  • The home doesn’t ‘show well’. Toronto Buyers are used to homes that are sparkling clean and beautifully staged and may not recognize the opportunity in an unstaged house. It’s hard to fall in love with a house that smells like cats and has laundry scattered about, but it still might be a great house. 
  • It was hard to make an appointment to see the home. Some Sellers don’t realize the importance of being flexible when it comes to showing their home  and prioritize their own convenience over the Buyers’. Short appointment times (15 minutes), weird showing windows (1-4 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11-3 on the weekends) or too much advance notice (24 hours or more) will all contribute to fewer people seeing the home. 
  • The property is tenanted. So many issues can come up with tenanted properties and often, it’s hard to make showing appointments. Related: Buying a Tenanted Property
  • The Seller was home during showings. There’s almost nothing that will discourage a potential Buyer more than having to tour a property while the Seller is home. It’s uncomfortable for everybody and will almost always result in a super-short showing where no questions get asked and there’s no opportunity to fall in love. 
  • The listing agent didn’t orchestrate the process and timing in an optimal way. Top agents know how to set up the conditions for bidding wars for their Sellers, so if the norms aren’t respected, people will shy away. 
  • The listing agent was hard to reach/didn’t return phone calls/didn’t know the property enough to be able to answer questions. A lot of Buyers and their agents will just move on if they can’t easily get the answers they need. Work with the agent who’ll stalk, research and dig for you. 
  • The offer date was too far away from the listing date and people moved on. Newbie agents or those who don’t list many homes sometimes think it’s a good idea to have 10 or 14 days of showings before taking offers…because that’s so out of the norm of what we see in Toronto, people may see the home and get excited about it, then get sidetracked by newer listings and forget all about it. 
  • There was no pre-listing home inspection or current status certificate for potential Buyers to review in advance of making an offer. Buyers in bidding wars know they have to do all their due diligence before making an offer, so if the Seller hasn’t provided the information they need, they may just not bother. Next!
  • The potential Buyers for that house are tired of bidding wars and got beaten up by last week’s (or last night’s) bidding war in the neighbourhood and need a break. 

So what happens if you’re the only bidder?

If the Seller was expecting a bidding war and arbitrarily priced their home below market value to attract attention, they’ll likely want to negotiate ABOVE the asking price. They aren’t required to accept an offer, even if it’s at the asking price, so it’ll be important for your agent to understand the Seller’s expectations and help you decide how much the house is worth to you.

If you’ve fallen in love with a house and there are no other bidders, this could be an opportunity. Do your homework – but don’t fall into the trap of just following the pack. The pack doesn’t always head the right way.

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