Marsha and Stan Zinberg thought they had a viable offer for their four-bedroom house in Vaughan.
Oddly, when that powerful storm brought tornadoes and thunderstorms to southern Ontario last week, the offer dissolved into vapour.
Considering all of the devastation last Tuesday's storm brought to houses in Angus, the dissolution of a real estate deal seems a rather quirky casualty, but Mr. Zinberg had been negotiating with the buyer's agent for two days when suddenly that agent went incommunicado. The counteroffer the Zinbergs had placed on the table expired at 6 p.m. Tuesday – right around the time the storm was roaring through.
Mr. Zinberg learned the following day that the buyer's agent had had car trouble.
At the same time, the weather apparently made it difficult to communicate with the buyer, who is finishing up a foreign posting somewhere in Africa.
"As my son says, it must be true … who can make this stuff up!" Ms. Zinberg wrote in an e-mail.
The negotiations never did resume after the counteroffer died on the table.
Ms. Zinberg is frustrated to be starting over. She has had her house in Vaughan appraised twice in the past couple of months.
The first time, she brought in an appraiser and talked to several real estate agents before listing her house for sale with an asking price of $875,000 in late March.
"After consulting a certified appraiser again, to make sure we had not overestimated the value of the house, we just turned down an offer that was about $100,000 below asking," she said in an e-mail.
Ms. Zinberg is baffled because so many people – agents and acquaintances – had expected the four-bedroom, four-bathroom house to be snapped up quickly. It has 2,800 square feet of living space, a large master bedroom retreat and a backyard swimming pool surrounded by perennial gardens.
The homeowner says the common downtown Toronto strategy of setting an offer date – along with the bidding wars and bullies that practice draws – does not translate north of Steeles, where she lives. So she wasn't expecting a Little Italy-style frenzy.
But she is surprised by the dearth of offers when the house has had so much interest, with close to 100 showings by her estimation.
Real estate agents often stress that the downtown bidding wars are an aberration in the Greater Toronto Area. An occasional listing in the surrounding areas may have two or three offers but never dozens. Within the 416 area code, only certain properties draw lots of bidders. They tend to be single-family houses in the price segments below $1-million or $1.2-million.
In Ms. Zinberg's neighbourhood, there is very little inventory. "Things just do not seem to be moving here."
If a buyer doesn't turn up with an acceptable offer in the next couple of weeks, she plans to take the house off the market and list again at the end of the summer.
Ms. Zinberg is also wondering about the experience of other sellers in the 905. I am too. "If you've heard of other rather bizarre negotiations like this one, I'd love some reassurance that this sale is not going to go on forever," she says.
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