Anyone that has known me throughout my fifty years as a self-employed entrepreneur would tell you that I can be a rather tenacious person when it comes to deal making.
I chuckle when I hear Donald Trump brag about being such a great deal maker because he has never had to make deals in his life!
He’s pathological and people see salesmen as pathological liars so he stands out as a successful one.
Lying is a part of professional selling.
The same skills and disciplines are used but one is “conning” and the other is “selling” (same tactics and techniques but as different as night is from day).
The only formal education that I’ve ever had is an intense appetite for the teachings of Sun Tzu and at the heart of Sun Tzu is a simple philosophy of “winning the war without the fight“.
Many of my recent series of blogs have revolved around my wife and I having purchased a pre-construction “Luxury Home” is the highly desirable community of Bronte Village in Oakville.
When I was in the position to semi-retire (to someone who’s never had a job even that is a weird concept) I was anxious to, number one, get out of Condoland!
Ted Kesik, Ph.D., P.Eng., professor at U of T, in “Building Science” published an enlightening article a fews years ago with an intro line from an “unknown source” that read: “They call them CONDOMiniums because the developer get to screw the buyer without incurring risk“.
I might have tagged on that “the developer is fully protected I would add” but it was pretty good as written.
Anyway, as I’ve said many times here at simplycharles.com, I’ve had it with condo living.
When you’ve seen the business from my eyes, it becomes impossible to even see them a sound investments any more.
The dream of “a beautiful home in the sky“, consistently turn into “nightmares“!
It is a game that I just will not be a party to any more, unless someone is looking for a quality condo in downtown Toronto to live in, and then I’m glad to help and work with you (I have kept my real estate license).
The dream of living in a detached home near the lake manifested itself while I was scurrying around the globe on the Internet looking for properties to invest in.
We had long concluded that Oakville would be a great place to enjoy our retirement, but with the average price of homes in the area (at least at the lake which really is the only area that interests us) ranging anywhere from $2 Million to $20 Million, it had been seen as simply a “bridge too far“.
The one risk you run as a real estate investor is that you can get too anxious to buy due being board with so little “value” to select from.
While on the other hand, if you “snooze you lose” in the real estate investment game so you’ve always got to be ready to pounce.
The one thing that we do as investors and also as buyers agents is research.
As buyer’s agents we owe it to our clients both morally and legally (look up “fiduciary“).
So when I came across this mls listing for “luxury homes” at the price advertised, I called the agent from my winter home in Florida and asked them to fill out the Agreement that we didn’t want to negotiate (you seldom can with developers) we simply wanted to buy it.
It was your classic “too good to be true” scenario so I called a Realtor that worked for me at the time and asked her to check out the site for me as I had just requested the paper work to buy one.
She was quick to tell me that there “are not homes for sale in that area in that price range” and to “forget it“.
Granted it was Christmas Eve, but this four bedroom high end house was listed on mls for sale and I wanted to buy it!
The agents that had listed it were being evasive and not calling me back but did acknowledge to me that there were 7 homes remaining for sale.
Then they went quiet, not returning our calls or calling us with the information they promised to send us.
My wife (initially my business partner) and I each have a unique kind of radar that seems to go off and we didn’t even have to discuss her picking up the phone and calling the developer having looked them up on the Internet (research, research, research).
We reached the CEO of the company amidst their Christmas party and he assured us that he would hold one but said there was only three remaining.
We pushed to have him “reserve one” for us if the party was in the way of writing up the agreement. He assured us that his COO would get back to us the following morning.
When the COO called he told us that there was only one left and it required a $50,000 premium.
In my estimates including the $50k, the property was still seriously below “market value” so we bought it sight unseen.
Even budgeting an additional 10% of the price to upgrade the home, our math proved this to be a sound investment.
I had never heard of the builder but a little research told us that this small builder didn’t “develop” the site, that was done by a much larger builder (“Fernbrook Homes“) who apparently saw doing an 18 home collection of high end homes more of a frustration (they are accustomed to doing communities of 100’s – 1000’s of units).
We called up their web site which, these days, are simply propaganda pages that they pay an ad agency to write for them based on minimal transfer of background, history or meaningful information (very good though).
Unfortunately, as in so many cases like this, they have turned out the absolute opposite to anything articulated on their web site.
It’s actually scandalous that our government allows companies to misrepresent themselves so.
A couple months back I blogged about their web site representations and added an Affidavit from one of the buyers in this collection of homes to show the absolute contradiction on absolutely everything represented (search “affidavit” on simplycharles.com and you’ll have the blog)!
What has kept me so balanced all these years is that I expect that everybody is lying to me!
I expect their web sites to lie.
I expect their brochures to lie.
I’m the guy who for decades now has been known as “mister believe nothing that you hear and half of what you see“!
I’m the guy that has fought for buyers with pretty much every developer in Condoland over my four decade long career.
And boy did this guy ever not let me down when it comes to lying!
And, as I said in the title of today’s blog, when you lie to me it tends to bring the worst out in me.
After a long and rather tumultuous year and a half of fighting with this guy (life has a way of always turning things around and thanks to the Tarion Warranty Program, something that I’ve been kind of hard on in my blogs but something that “does have teeth if you know how to maneuver the jaw“.
These guys (the company is actually three untrained, unskilled, and undisciplined guys with access to investor’s money) have proven incompetent on pretty well every front.
Right out of the box it was easy to see how incompetent they are because they couldn’t sell eighteen “below value priced homes in one of the absolute best locations on the market today amidst a boom seller’s market“!
I didn’t care that his resume was “swiss cheese-like” (as in so many holes in it), as I’ve said earlier, I expect them all to be lying, all the time, about everything!
I know that you’ve heard the old saying about the three most important things in real estate being “location, location, and location“.
Well, guess what.
It almost is.
When that real estate buy is in a reconstruction property it becomes “builder/developer, location, and location“.
A crappy builder/developer in an excellent location will still equate to a nightmare!
This builder (“Sunrise Homes”) has distinguished itself amongst the hoards of crappy builders.
I have already covered much of the dysfunction (simply search Oakville on simplycharles.com and you will find each blog – well worth reading by the way) around this company.
When they discovered they couldn’t build the model that we had purchased on that “only remaining site“, instead of simply telling me and having me move to the bigger plan, they went and hired the architect to completely redraw our floor plan (without telling us) and then spending months hiding the fact from us by using the old plan when asking us specifics.
We caught them when a window in one of the walk in closets went missing and when my wife asked about it the discussion carried into “on your plan . . . and on my plan“.
Wait a minute!
One house one plan right?
We then demanded the second alleged floor plan and sure enough there were two plans.
That’s when I stepped back into the picture.
This was at about the time that the “Outside Occupancy Date” was approaching (something most builders and buyers miss as its buried deep within those lengthy pages on pages of the Agreement of Purchase & Sale and its numerous amendments).
When a builder doesn’t deliver your property before this prescribed date that must be included in the AP&S you have the right to get out of the deal, no questions asked providing you execute that right within 30 days of the passing of that date.
With their disappointing sales track record and classic mismanagement coupled with them buying more sites and proving to me that they are simply cash and run builders.
The have little or no oversight at there sites and the know little or nothing about building and they could care less.
With my blog have 1.6 unique viewers per month, it is said that “when I whisper . . . it’s heard around the world” and my promise to these builders and builders like them is that “I’ll make you famous . . . just not in a good way“!
That’s why I’ve become so skilled at defending myself against frivolous law suits and threats of them (few people actually sue as they are really playing a money game to shut me up).
Builders/Developers are always saying that I’ve “defamed, slandered or liable them” frequently, not they have cause but to shut me up. It cost money to defend yourself even if you are like me capable of defending yourself. It also takes time and then they go after my broker who’s legal costs I’m on the hook for and round and round it goes.
So, each time I’ve caught these guys up to their tricks, I’ve punished them with firm, fatherly negotiating tactics and remained comfortable in my deal (location, location, location – the builder I can mould and shape to my satisfaction in the end).
So after a year and a half (that’s how late the delivery of these homes is) we seem to have hit the home stretch.
Numerous trades guys have put liens the property for non-payment of invoices, the entire experience has been a catastrophe but thanks to our having taken over the day to day management of construction (we drive out there 40 miles/day) we are close.
So last week, while there I stood on the front porch looking at this dismal muddy mess that they are calling our development with people actually living in sub-standard conditions thanks to these guys ineptitude.
They somehow got “Occupancy Permits” that they jammed down buyer’s throats after having concealed the Subdivision Agreement that “required them to complete all landscaping, grading, fencing and paving of the roadway BEFORE OCCUPANCY of any residence“.
Last week’s blog shows the mess that these unfortunate owners have been forced to live with.
I met with the Mayor of Oakville and was impressed with both his knowledge and commitment to his city as well as its inhabitants. He proved to be a very genuine and well informed spokesman for this impressive town (he tactfully corrected my mistakenly calling Oakville a “City“).
So standing on the porch the other day looking out over the mess a builder-imposed chaos into my to-be (I’m not moving in until I get this all up to par) neighbour’s lives I thought I should have a word with the builder.
After all, when I met with the Mayor he immediately assured me that he would do what he could, emphasizing that there are limits to what the municipality can do.
So, here what really nails it for me.
I speak with the latest site supervisor (the good one quit thoroughly disgusted with this builder and one of the owners I understand who was harassing and threatening to sue him and ruin his reputation because of their hostility toward this builder) who has been assuring me that he has everything under control and that I “can count on him”.
So I ask him why, after I went to the Mayor and got assurances (it is the builder’s responsibility and obligation to keep the street clean when they have people living there) that they would get the builder to keep the roads clean, is the road in this disgusting condition?
His answer is what brings out the “bad guy” or, for a lack of a better description, “prick” in me!
He tells me that “the city flusher trucks are not insulated so the city imposes that flushing cannot be done after November 15th”.
An obviously well thought out lie, but a lie all the same.
I called the Mayor’s office (I really could not be more impressed with a municipality, especially after the rather harsh words that I included in my blogs) and was forwarded to the top guy in the Municipal Government who scoffed at the assertion.
That builder is “100 responsible to clean those roadways“!
The Municipality of Oakville is not involved in any way.
The Town of Oakville inspector emailed me letting me know that he spoke with this builder and confirmed that they will not only flush but scrape the roadway clean immediately.
Let’s wait and see.