Illegal Marketing to Expired Listings, Formula to Win a Bidding War?


Dear David,

We listed our home three years ago with two different Realtors. It didn’t sell, but to this day we get calls to sell our home and even have people coming to the door. Does the house stay on a data base of some sort even though we told them we are not selling?  -NOT SELLING YET

DEAR NOT SELLING: Each real estate board keeps its own historic data. Here in Waterloo Region, our board retains MLS information on homes that have been listed, sold and expired (meaning those that were listed but not sold) back to the 1990s.

Yours is an expired listing, and it’s against the law in Ontario for Realtors to try and solicit business based on information found in expired listings. Realtors are ethically bound to treat expired listing records with the strictest of confidence, almost as if the listings never existed.

Marketing to expired listings does happen, but it’s not legal. If an agent is caught misusing listing information in this way, they can be heavily fined and reprimanded by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO).

Dear David,

I heard there is a formula for figuring out how much to offer in a bidding war, based on how many offers are coming in. What is it? – EAGER TO WIN

DEAR EAGER: I have heard the same thing. In my opinion, trying to formulate a win this way is an irresponsible tactic, likely coming from an inexperienced “expert” who’s trying to talk a buyer into paying more for a property than it’s worth.

Home buying is an emotional purchase — and somewhat subjective. Sometimes, a hot market can drive people to make rash decisions. Back in the crazy spring of 2017, when most properties were getting multiple offers, I heard numerous formulas being tossed around in the name of helping clients to win deals.

But here’s the thing: the value of a property is based on what the average consumer is willing to pay for it. What you pay for your home needs to make sense. If a buyer overpays significantly and ends up wanting to sell the home in a couple of years’ time, the next buyer is not going to care how much was paid today, or how many offers there were. Overpay now and it will cost you down the road.

I advise my clients to make their purchasing decisions based on market value. While sellers frequently pick the highest offer (obviously), it’s not always wise to be the person who submits it. A better approach is to take a bit more time and find the right property at right price. In my opinion, winning at any cost is reckless. I’m always considering a client’s exit plan, just in case life changes and they need to sell the property earlier than originally planned.