Quinte, On. real estate agent: Buyers, There Is No Such Thing as "The Best Deal".

Buyers, There Is No Such Thing as "The Best Deal".

I recently had to stop working with some clients.

I don't want to sound casual or flippant about this, it wasn't a decision I made lightly, but I had had enough. They were a very nice couple, but they had completely lost focus, and I sensed that perhaps they might be better served by working with another agent. They just had started taking up way too much of my time and we didn't seem to be getting any closer to finding them anything.

It all started simply enough. They were looking for a specific type of house in a specific area. As we viewed all the homes that matched their criteria (easy enough, they didn't seem too picky) I began to notice a lack of enthusiasm on their part. They had no urgency to make a decision.

Soon after getting back to the office I'd recieve an email from them. They would scout around on the MLS website and ask to see more houses. I noticed that the houses they were requesting to see were  straying further and further from their original lists of needs and wants.  At first I didn't say much, but I eventually asked them about the change in their approach, and they mentioned that they were "looking for the best deal". They didn't mind sacrificing a few of their wants if "it was the best deal" out there. Fair enough. Our search strayed further and further geographically as well as from their original vision of the type of house they were looking for. We started viewing a hodge-podge of homes in a variety of far-flung locations.

What makes a good deal though? Without parameters, there is no such thing as "the best deal". If you don't mind spending extra time commuting to and from work, well why don't we go look at homes in Guatemala? I hear that you can get some really great bargains there. This is an exaggeration of course, but the principle is sound. Without setting a limit to a variety of factors, you'll never be sure that you are indeed getting the best deal out there. There has to be a focus to a home search, otherwise there will always be something cheaper or further or smaller or on a busier street or having numerous other factors that can be compromised. You will never be sure that you got the best deal (or even a good deal). This becomes worse when time is not a factor either because maybe next year the market will yield even better deals (which won't happen in my market, but...).

Conversely, if you are looking for a bungalow in Belleville, and you view all of them, compare their prices and attributes, then yes, you can easily determine that you are getting the best possible deal in the time you had allotted to accomplish this task. It's even possible to make slight changes to your 'needs and wants" without straying too far. If, however, you are simply aimlessly looking for "the best deal", I can tell you that it simply does not exist.

Comment balloon 15 commentsMalcolm Johnston • September 23 2011 02:51PM


Focus is certainly a very important factor in finding a great home. I think many just get so caught up in the hunt for the home that they forget they wanted to PURCHASE a home!

Posted by Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent/Associate Broker, RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity. (RVA Home Team) over 8 years ago

Malcolm- I'd have to agree with Shannon... I do think buyers might get caught up in getting the best deal without focusing on the best house for them.  

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, how frustrating this situation can be.  Justin has been working with a buyer for 4 years and probably has wrote 30 offers and he has missed out on so many great deals from not listening to our advise.  It feels like we will have wasted all that time if we stop working with them.  How did you pass your clients off to another real estate agent?  --Krystal

Posted by Krystal Knott, Breckenridge CO Real Estate & All Summit County CO (LIV Sotheby's International Realty) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, they obviously didn't connect with any of the houses and then lost focus. They need to find it again before wasting your time or any other agent's.

Posted by Janice Ankrett, Staging Professional (Janice Ankrett Home Staging) over 8 years ago

Malcolm - That sounds so aggravating.  Hey, I hear they have great coffee in Guatamala, too!  I feel your frustration.  Good for you for knowing when to pull the plug on this one.  Next...

Posted by Sally Weatherley, Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C (EXIT STAGE RIGHT) over 8 years ago


Sometimes people are reluctant to make a decision and they will find all kinds of excuses. Eventually, they will run out of excuses and buy something, but if you're still their agent you'll be bankrupt.

Good decision.


Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 8 years ago

Dear Malcolm ~ I am sorry, this is a difficult situation.  I think that these are scary times & that people are just afraid....in general afraid to make a change, even if they truly start out trying.  I know that I had family that I was embarrassed, but this happened.  In the long run it was too much at their age & too much fear for all they had accomplished & at this stage had avoided.... :(  so they stayed put.  I know they still have the dream of the move, but fear kept their feet in the cement.  I have seen this type of housing in many of the countries I have had to travel to & we are a very blessed country, regardless of the housing.  Keep your chin up & it is a difficult time & unpredictable time I am sure to try to move people forward with home decisions & purchases.

Posted by Pam Hills, ASP/IAHSP- Stager Miami, FL, Creative Minds Innovatively At Work (Innovative Artistry) over 8 years ago

This was on point for what people want vs what they need.   Living in Downtown Toronto you can get a 1,000 square foot condo at 600 K   or move west and fins a house (that will need some work ) 20 minutes west in Bloor west Village or Etobicoke.    OR   you can move one hour and 40 minutes west and Buy in Milton with a brand new 2000 square foot perfected staged and featured property.

Its all about where they are in their lives   Whether its the puse of the downtown or the draw of the suburbs.

David Pylyp

Living in Toronto


Posted by David Pylyp (RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc.,) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, this is the fundamental element of greed we must often overcome... I just firmed up a home where the buyer was trying to wrangle every last cent... She loved this home, wanted no other... yet was pushing the envelope... we almost lost the home for $400. (shaking head)

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 8 years ago

some times you just have to draw the line and cut your losses.. sorry it didn't work out, but you may never find people like that a house.

Posted by Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC, Selling the Upstate since 1989 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, I have worked with a couple for nearly three years who want to buy an investment property?  But, they are like family now.....

Posted by Suzanne McLaughlin, Sabinske & Associates, Realtor (Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael)) over 8 years ago

Malcolm, the "best deal" is kind of like the "best wife" or "best husband"...everyone's "best" is different! :)


Posted by Bob & Leilani Souza, Greater Sacramento Area Homes, Land & Investments (Souza Realty 916.408.5500) over 8 years ago


Motivation seems to be different for different people. They were different and you trusted your gut and made the right decision.

I once had a couple that started out like that. The radius of our search expanded, which I didn't mind. But then I started picking them up at their door because they had car trouble and driving out further and further. On the last trip, they asked me to stop at a store because... well, as long as we were there, it would be very appreciated. So I did. Then, they started taking me off course and navigated me a better way than the routed I had planned. Ironically, their short cut took us passed their favorite restaurant that they hadn't been to in years. Unfortunately, the one in the back seat felt faint and asked me to stop because she needed food. I pulled over. We all ordered food and guess who got stuck with the bill? 

Of course, they promised me the next time I picked them up, we'd go to a different location and they'd pick up the bill.

That was the last time I seen them. My choice! Not their choice.

Posted by Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP, Selling Homes Changing Lives (DFW FINE PROPERTIES) over 8 years ago

Shannon, it would seem so, the thrill of the hunt.

Kathy, yes, I think some of them do.

Krystal, you can just refer them to a newer agent in the office who is happy for a challenge.

Janice, no they were too distracted to attach themselves to anything.

Sally, yes, I was becoming irritated.

Brian, it is costly driving around without a purpose.

Pam, fear sure can make people feel that they should stay rooted to the spot.

David, a large market like the G.T.A. would certainly make for many more options and challenges for agents.

Chris, $400, that's ridiculous.

Sheila, I think I'm a little faster at drawing my lines these days.

Suzanne, you can get frustrated at family too.

Leilani, it's true, if you cannot decide what your ideal is, then how would you know if you're looking at it.

Patricia, it sounds like you were their chaffeur who was also picking up their tab. Urgh, I can see why you didn't keep contact with those clients.

Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) over 8 years ago

Hi Malcolm,

I think all of us can identify with this situation. In fact, it really is amazing how much some of us do for clients with a less than definite intent on their part.

Posted by Bob Foster (Century 21 Lanthorn R. E. Ltd. Belleville, Ontario) over 8 years ago