Tag: real estate industry

OREA’s New Forms, Clauses & Updates – Your 2020 Coles Notes Review

Posted on December 19th, 2019

It’s that time of year! New OREA forms and form updates for the real estate industry (cue the happy dance)!

While many of the changes this year are minor in nature, being aware of the updates as a consumer as well as a real estate salesperson/broker is important.  These changes take effect as of January 1, 2020 so get well-versed in what’s new so you are prepared and ready to go.  The links to each form will lead real estate agents to the appropriate forms on the OREA website.  The forms are also at the bottom of this blog post for consumers to review directly.



New Forms

1. Form 170: Consent To Advertise: you normally see it hidden in a brokerage’s standard Schedule B giving listing and co-operating real estate agents consent to advertise the sale price or other information pertaining to the sale of the listing.  This misguided consent to advertising clause hidden in a schedule to an agreement does a decent job of ensuring that real estate salespeople/brokers cover their butts when it comes to RECO’s Code of Ethics regarding consent to advertise, which says:

(7) A registrant shall not include anything in an advertisement that could reasonably be used to identify a party to the acquisition or disposition of an interest in real estate unless the party has consented in writing.  O. Reg. 580/05, s. 36 (7).

(8) A registrant shall not include anything in an advertisement that could reasonably be used to identify specific real estate unless the owner of the real estate has consented in writing.  O. Reg. 580/05, s. 36 (8).

(9) A registrant shall not include anything in an advertisement that could reasonably be used to determine any of the contents of an agreement that deals with the conveyance of an interest in real estate, including any provision of the agreement relating to the price, unless the parties to the agreement have consented in writing.  O. Reg. 580/05, s. 36 (9).

However, it doesn’t look very professional as this consent shouldn’t be tied into the other offer details.  This should be a separate discussion from the offer and now it is.  Form 170 covers this consent as it relates to sale price, anything that could identify any part to the sale, identification of the property and other terms related to the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.  The form must be initialled by both parties and there is no expiry date unless specifically noted in the form.  In addition, this form notes that advertising can only take effect once all conditions (if any) are fulfilled and the sale has become firm.

What does this mean for consumers? You may have seen this clause noted in an agreement of purchase and sale in the past.  You should now be asked to sign a separate form relating to advertising and it shouldn’t form part of the deal.  It is your choice whether or not you want to consent to allow your real estate agent and the other side’s real estate agent to be able to advertise details of the sale.  If you are a private person, having the sale details advertised may make you uncomfortable and you shouldn’t be obligated to sign the form.  However, if you are comfortable with allowing the sale of the home to be advertised, this gives your real estate agent a great opportunity to spread the word about his/her services, which helps their business.

What does this mean for REALTORS®? Get this new form signed and you will have the ability to advertise the sale.  Review the pros and cons with your client and ask your colleague to do the same with their client so you show that you are obtaining consent in a more professional and straightforward way.  If your broker of record or manager hasn’t done so already, ask that they remove the consent to advertise from the brokerage’s standard schedule B so that you can take care of this consent separately when the deal is firm.

2. Form 653: Co-Brokerage Agreement Between Buyer Brokerages: at times, real estate agents may be asked to work with a past client or be referred business in a trading area that may not be their forte.  Instead of referring it out, real estate agents now have the ability to collaborate!  This form allows real estate agents and brokers to work with colleagues from other brokerages to represent a buyer client as best as possible.  I can see this working with agents that might not be strong in a certain area but they are eager to learn from an experienced agent in that particular trading area.  Whether it’s for a commercial transaction, a rural property or a certain geographic area, this form can work well when two agents want to work together from different brokerages.

What does this mean for consumers? If your go-to real estate agent is not familiar with the type of home or area you are looking to purchase, it still gives you the option to work with him/her along with another agent who is well versed in the type of search you are conducting.  Sometimes, your real estate agent may opt to refer you directly to someone else, in which case a separate referral agreement (Form 641) can be signed and a referral fee is paid from the agent that has been referred the business to your own real estate agent for referring the business (usually around 25% of the commission earned).  However, if your real estate agent prefers to remain more active and can collaborate with another agent from another brokerage, they can sign this agreement to work together.

What does this mean for REALTORS®?  You now have a new way of operating your business – in a more collaborative way with other brokerages.  Don’t be afraid to seek out help from your colleagues.  A lot of us are eager to work together and learn from each other.  You never know – maybe the person you are seeking guidance from will do the same for you in the future.  It can be a win-win scenario and it helps to sharpen your business skills for future clients.

3. Form 304: Suspension of Buyer Representation Agreement: need a break?  Going out of town?  Want an alternative to cancelling a buyer representation agreement?  This gives a buyer client and their agent the opportunity to suspend the agreement temporarily for a certain period of time.  From the looks of things, this doesn’t extend the length of time of the original representation agreement in effect – it’s just a pause.

What does this mean for consumers? If you want to pause your real estate search, this gives you the ability to do so without a full-out cancellation.

What does this mean for REALTORS®? Buyer clients now have more options – just as seller clients do with Form 241 – Suspension of Listing Agreement.  It’s an option and should be offered as such if the right situation arises.

Changes to Forms:

1. Form 242: Cancellation of Listing Agreement and Form 301: Cancellation of Buyer Representation Agreement: a new section has been added to give the reason why the cancellation is happening.  This allows the cancellation to be better understood by all parties and leaves any misunderstandings behind.

What does this mean form consumers? It’s never fun to part ways with someone but sometimes it happens and when both parties have the opportunity to share why the cancellation is happening, it helps to put an end to that real estate chapter in a clear and concise way.  Having a better understanding why the cancellation occurred allows you the ability to find a more suitable real estate agent moving forward and ensures the same mistake is not made again.

What does this mean for REALTORS®? This is great for brokers of record and managers to track how their agents are doing with their clients.  Maybe there is an area of customer service that a particular agent needs some support with.  Maybe, some additional courses or mentoring is required.  As a real estate agent, reviewing this information with your manager or broker of record is a great idea.  Nobody is perfect and sometimes you don’t see eye to eye with your client on a particular search or sale.  Understanding what happened and making changes for the future will have a positive impact on your business moving forward.

2. Form 240: Amendment to Listing Agreement: slight change of wording from “Former Listing Price/Former Expiry Date” to “Current Listing Price/Current Expiry Date” to clear up any confusion relating to multiple price changes or expiry dates.  Similar changes were made to the following Form #205, #207, #212, #247, #305, #315, #348, #356, #521, #527, #534, $538, #541, #548, #552, and #556.

What does this mean form consumers? Not much – this is just a detail that has led to some confusion for real estate agents in the past.  It’s the same form with the same terms.

What does this mean for REALTORS®?  Not much – this just helps you to eliminate any confusion relating to the listing price and expiry date.

3. Other: many forms that had a “Witness” signature line have deleted the witness and replaced it with the name of the actual signer.

What does this mean form consumers? Again, not much.  You will just be asked to write your name on some forms beside your signature moving forward vs. searching for a witness.

What does this mean for REALTORS®? Minor change – no biggie.  If you are using an electronic signature program, there is an option to add a Name Block when your client is signing to automatically fill out your client’s name when they are signing.  You now have more use for this option!

Changes to Standard Clauses: none for this year – woohoo!

For a full list of all the changes, real estate agents can refer to OREA’s summary: https://www.orea.com/~/media/Files/Members/OREA-Standard-Forms/Change-Summaries/OREA-Standard-Forms-2020-Summary-of-Revisions.pdf.  In addition, OREA is planning a webinar on January 29th, 2020 to address real estate agent questions relating to these changes.  This post provides a summary of the most important aspects in our personal opinion.  Please take the time to review all of the changes.

REALTORS® – Did you know? 

There are 205 OREA standard forms and 300 OREA standard clauses.

According to OREA, the average Realtor uses approximately 15 – 20 standard forms each year. 

Reviewing the other forms and clauses you don’t use may assist you in better representing your clients over this next year.  Each of these forms were made for our profession so why not educate yourself on the best way to make use of them?  OREA makes changes and creates new forms based on the feedback from its members.  Make sure you are taking the time to provide this vital feedback so our industry can stay on top of the changing landscape of our real estate businesses.

For last year’s updates and changes, please refer to our blog post: OREA’s New Forms, Clauses & Updates – Your 2019 Coles Notes Review.



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All About Live-Work Properties

Posted on October 23rd, 2019

Homeownership can be a challenge in the GTA.  Home prices coupled with the desire to grow your business with a commercial space can add to that financial stress.  While some people can find solutions with co-working and shared space opportunities, others want to offer their customers a dedicated space.  Purchasing a live-work property gives entrepreneurs and small business owners the flexibility of having both a residential and commercial space in one.  While this option can be appealing, there are some things to keep in mind prior to starting your search:

1) Availability: there are limited options in the GTA for live-work units.  Working with a Realtor who can source different options can make your search easier.  However, you may have to sacrifice your ideal location in order to get into the right space.  Pre-construction condo projects are a good place to start as some developers offer live-work units on the ground level of their buildings.  Tip for Realtors: when looking for these types of spaces for your clients, a keyword search for “live work” in the Client Remarks or Brokerage Remarks of MLS will help find a list of opportunities.
2) Financing: not all lenders will finance mix-use properties. “Major banks won’t fund these properties under their residential financing policies.” says John Sinnott, mortgage broker with Dominion Lending Centres.  “For a property to be financed residentially, it cannot have more than 20% space allocated commercially. If it does, they consider it a commercial deal with different rates and policies.” continues Mr. Sinnott.  CMHC and comparable insurers will only insure spaces with less than 25% commercial space. Lucy Gagliardi, a mortgage broker with OZ Capital suggests: “have your income, down payment and current mortgage statement and property tax bill ready to give to your mortgage broker so that they can determine accurate figures for you before you go out looking.”  We agree – there’s no sense starting a search if you don’t have a sufficient down payment or you are unable to comfortably afford a property like this.
3) Property Taxes: the property taxes on live-work properties are higher, however they are assessed depending on the ratio of the space.  Therefore,  you would only pay the commercial tax rate for your commercial square footage. Also, all of the utilities are charged at a commercial rate and are not flexible depending on residential space.
4) Rules and Regulations: many live-work properties are condominium units.  Each condominium corporation has a set of rules regarding the use of all of the units within the building – including the live-work units.  Restrictions regarding the type of business, hours of operation, ability to make aesthetic changes to the unit (inside or out) or add signage could all impact your ability to run your business.  Hiring a real estate lawyer to review these rules along with the entire status certificate for the condominium, will ensure the property you are considering makes sense for you and your business.
5) Zoning: all commercial units are zoned for certain uses.  Together with your Realtor, ensuring that the permitted use of the commercial space will work for your business is essential.
6) Legal: Samuel Kazen, real estate lawyer with Hamburg Olson Kazen Law Professional Corporation, offers the following advice: “You don’t want to be subsidizing any purely residential units in the same building. If the property is in a building that has purely residential units, it would be wise to compare the common expenses you would be paying for a live-work unit to one of the residential units of comparable size. If you would be paying a lot more (as is often the case), then you might want to look elsewhere.”  Further, he suggests to “make sure whatever entity you are using to purchase the property is an HST registrant. Otherwise, the vendor would be required to remit HST and would seek to collect HST from you.”  Finally, “if the vendor wishes to structure the sale as a sale of shares to his/her corporation, make sure you obtain a full indemnity against any liability that may be associated with that corporation.”
7) Investment Opportunity: since these types of properties are few and far between, purchasing one as an investment could be a good way to get into the real estate investment world.  Your Realtor can guide you in terms of the rental opportunity available and can better direct you towards the properties that will yield you a good return.  Location (as with any property) is key and ensuring you are aware of the rules associated with leasing these units is important as well.
To get you started, here is a list of live-work opportunities throughout the GTA:
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Buying A Home With Kids

Posted on October 10th, 2019

Finding a new home when you have kids can be a challenge.  There’s so much more to consider beyond the home itself.  Schools, community centres, programs, and safety are all important factors that need to be investigated to avoid any regret down the road.  You want to make sure that the transition is as painless as possible for your little ones and that normally takes some extra due diligence on your part and your Realtor’s part.  So what should you consider?  Here is a list of our top kid friendly home inspection items:

 1) Neighbour check: kids like to play outside – front yard, back yard, side yard – which means you’ll likely be seeing your neighbours a lot more than if you didn’t have kids. Introducing yourself and your family to your potential neighbours can help.  Does your neighbour hate kids?  Does he own a crazy aggressive dog? While you may not be able to give your potential neighbour a full blown interrogation with a full set of fingerprints and a DNA test, a simple introduction will give you a better idea of who you could be living beside for the next one, two, five, ten or more years.  Your potential neighbours are also the best source to get all of the details about the area from – pros and cons.
2) Visit the neighbourhood more than once.  if you’re seeing the home on Monday at 7pm, go visit on Saturday at 11am.  If you’re there for the weekend open house, go visit on a Thursday at 8pm.  This way, you get a more complete picture of the neighbourhood.  
3) Visit the parks: if living in a community with other young families is important to you, visit the local parks.  If the parks are filled with teenagers smoking pot or more dogs than kids, the neighbourhood might not be the right one for you.  
4) Visit the local schools: your kids will be spending the majority of their days at school.  You want to make sure the school they will be attending is welcoming, engaging, well respected, and whatever other qualities are important to you as a family.  
5) Consider commute times: make sure that the commute to and from your place of employment won’t leave you stressed out and scrambling to pick up the kids from school each day.  With that said, confirming the start and end times for school and availability for before and after school programs might have an impact on your home buying decision.  For example, my kids start school at 8am and end at 2:30pm.  This makes a typical 9 to 5 schedule at work very hard to adhere to if there is no after school program available.
6) Extra-curricular programming: does your child love swimming?  Soccer?  Hockey? Depending on how important these extra-curricular programs are to you and your family, you may want to visit the community centres and sports clubs in the neighbourhood to find out the options and availability of programs.  
7) Daycares: if your kids aren’t in school yet, then the hunt for the right daycare can be a challenge.  Some daycares don’t offer half day or part time programs while others cost more than you expect.  A family will want to make sure they have enough options to consider when it comes to finding a new daycare for their little one.
8) Street traffic: is the street you are considering purchasing a home on a short cut for impatient rush hour drivers?  Do you back onto a street with a loud bus route that runs around the clock? Listening and watching for local traffic at different times of the day and on different days will help you better understand how safe and peaceful your potential new neighbourhood really is.
9) Pollution and safety hazards: if you see a home at 8pm on a Monday, you may not notice the cell phone tower nearby or the factory down the street.  Again, check things out during the day and do a Google satellite map search to see what you might be missing.
10) Get the kids involved.  Depending on your child, including their age and personality, the idea of moving can range from pure excitement to pure anger.  Involving your kids in the decision making as much as possible – choosing what homes to see, determining what characteristics make a good home, scoping out the neighbourhood with you (maybe take them out of school for an afternoon to explore!) – will help them to be more engaged in the process and become a bit more positive about a potential move.
We hope that these tips help to make the process of finding a new home for your family easier.  It may seem like a lot of extra work but you do not want to regret a home purchase decision.  Having a trusted Realtor by your side will help make that process smoother by providing knowledge and expertise about the neighbourhood and the home you are interested in purchasing.  
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Celebrity Real Estate Investors and What We Can Learn From Them

Posted on July 26th, 2017

What to do with all that money?  It must be a tough challenge to face, watching the millions of dollars roll in and being left to decide where to put it.  Don’t you wish you had that problem?

Yes, we are envious but also intrigued how celebrities invest their never-ending cash flow.   While some celebs like Robert DeNiro and Justin Timberlake invest in restaurants, other stars such as Jay-Z and Ellen DeGeneres are drawn to tech companies.  Real estate is also an investment choice for many of Hollywood’s rich and famous.  Take a look at these celebrity real estate investors:


Ellen loves to diversify her investments.  In addition to her interest in funding tech start-ups, she also does quite well in the real estate world.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Ellen has made a profit on the same home not once but twice!  She sold her Hollywood home for $10 million in 2007, then decided to buy it back in 2014 for a lower price tag of $8.75 million.  She then sold it a second time for $9.9 million.


King of Queens star Kevin James sold his oceanfront mansion in Florida for a whopping $7.53 million profit.  He purchased the home in 2012 for $18.85 million and sold it in 2016 for $26.38 million!  This 3-acre home has eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms, seven fireplaces and a 10-car garage.


Kevin James’ Home – Photo: realtor.com


This A-list actor owns numerous properties across the United States including apartments in Manhattan, a Palm Springs vacation home and a mansion in The Hamptons.  According to Mansion Global, you can rent his Palm Springs estate home with six bedrooms and seven-and-a-half bathrooms for just $3,750 per night (subject to a two night minimum of course).


Photo: theloop.ca


Formerly known as McDreamy on the hit show, Grey’s Anatomy, Dempsey sold his Malibu home for an $8 million profit – almost double the purchase price.  Who knew that McDreamy could make a McFortune on his real estate deals?


Photo: Zillow


After some extensive renovations to her Beverly Hills mansion, Aniston sold her home in 2011 for a whopping $35 million.  She purchased it in 2006 for $13.5 million.


Photo: Architectural Digest



While these celebrities can toss around a few million dollars here and there without much worry for appreciation, we can still learn from their investment tactics:

1. Location, Location, Location: Celebrities aren’t purchasing homes in random parts of the USA, they are buying in the areas everyone wants to live. Safe neighbourhoods close to restaurants, shopping, transit and easily walkable.  You will never go wrong purchasing a home in a neighbourhood that is in high demand.  Sure, you will pay a premium but that home will keep appreciating.  In Toronto, neighbourhoods such as Bloor West Village, Roncesvalles, High Park, Leslieville, Davisville – these are neighbourhoods that will always be a great investment.  Keep in mind that you can always change the look of a home but never its location.

2. Don’t Take Improvements Too Far: Let’s take a page out of 50 cent’s book. He purchased a 21-bedroom, 25-bathroom mammoth party pad in Farmington CT for $4.1 million in 2003.  He pimped the place out to the tune of $6 million to $10 million in additional expense.  Since 2007, he has tried to sell the home, starting at a list price of $18.5 million.  In 2016, facing bankruptcy, 50 cent was forced to reduce the listing price to $5,995,000.  The most interest he’s received, according to Realtor.com, is from a developer looking to covert the home into an assisted-living facility, minus the stripper poles of course!

50 Cent’s “Over-Improved House”

3. When In Doubt, Rent: Huh? A real estate broker advising someone to rent?  Sometimes it makes more sense!  New to the city?  Not sure where your job is going to take you? Going through a divorce? Not sure about your current relationship?  Consider renting until you are more comfortable with your life’s journey.  In 2011 according to Trulia.com, Katy Perry bought a home with then husband Russell Brand for $6.5 million.  The couple split up before moving in and Perry ended up selling the home at a loss ($5.65 million). Don’t worry – you are in good company.  Many celebrities such as Rihanna, the Biebs (aka Justin Bieber), Lady Gaga and basketball star Ray Allen prefer to rent as well.

4. We All Start Somewhere: before becoming the Terminator and the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger used his body sculpting money to invest in real estate. He started small and eventually built up his wealth in order to focus on his acting passion.  His first purchase was a six-unit apartment building in New York for $38,000 in 1971.  Over time, he was able to invest in much larger purchases such as a $450,000 Santa Monica building, which he later sold for $2.3 million.

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Why Toronto Should Open Up Home Sale Price Data To EVERYONE

Posted on June 14th, 2017

Photo Credit: Darren Calabrese For The Globe and Mail

There has been a longstanding battle in Toronto where the Competition Bureau is fighting to open up sale price information to the public that the Toronto Real Estate Board currently holds near and dear to their heart.  In our opinion, this is an insult to all real estate professionals as this sends a message that the only thing that real estate agents are good for is to provide sale price information to the public.  The public shouldn’t feel forced into speaking to a real estate agent in order to find out the sale price of a home.  They should WANT to speak with a real estate agent for the many other services that we provide.

There is proof in other markets, such as Australia, where opening up this data to everyone hasn’t wiped out the real estate profession (see this website https://www.realestate.com.au/sold).  The Australian model of selling real estate is built upon transparency – open auctions, easy access to sale price information and no double ending (where a real estate agent represents both buyer and seller in one transaction).  On The Block has been inspired by these approaches and we are working toward a similar model to provide more choice to the public in the Greater Toronto Area.

As real estate professionals, we need to show that we are better than these numbers, work hard and show the benefits of hiring a professional.  Providing comparable sale price information is such a small part of our jobs.  The work we do to sell a home or help a buyer purchase a home goes well beyond this data.  Home buyers and sellers work with us for our experience, skill and knowledge of the industry and how to get the best results based on someone’s specific circumstances.

Working with a real estate professional should be a choice so let’s give people that choice instead of holding them back from accessing this information.  Those people who choose to work without an agent shouldn’t be penalized because they didn’t enlist the help of a professional.  Just like you don’t NEED a plumber to fix your leaky faucet or an interior designer to decorate your home, you also don’t NEED a realtor to help you buy or sell your home.  Working with a real estate professional comes with many benefits and those that recognize these benefits will continue to work with a real estate professional regardless of whether they can retrieve sale price data.  It’s about providing choice, a service and working for the best interests of your clients.

On The Block encourages the Toronto Real Estate Board to open up the vault and give everyone access to sale prices throughout the city.  The time and effort used to fight the Competition Bureau about this case could have been much better spent on other projects such as providing information to assist the city with key planning initiatives or figuring out ways to provide more affordable housing options to those who can’t afford a home in our city.  You can’t do big things if you’re focused on the small things!

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Why Real Estate Escalation Clauses Should Be Banned

Posted on June 8th, 2017

If bidding wars aren’t enough to turn buyers right off of the home purchase process, the introduction of an ‘escalation clause’ will definitely make matters worse. This clause is downright confusing and currently, there aren’t any rules and regulations beyond some warnings from the industry on how this clause should be used. An escalation clause is used when a buyer agrees to increase their bid by a certain amount over the highest bidder when bidding on a particular home. This amount can be capped at a certain price if the buyer chooses.

In our opinion, this clause is dangerous for many reasons:

  1. This increases the risk of unethical behaviour by realtors. If Agent Joe knows that buyer Paul is coming in with a $600,000 offer with an escalation clause of $5,000 over the highest bidder up to a maximum of $700,000, and if Agent Joe is extremely unethical, he could get bring in a fake offer to push buyer Paul to his maximum price.
  2. Due to the lack of rules surrounding this clause from The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), what happens if an agent isn’t aware of the details of how to use this clause but uses it anyway? This agent might not know you can put a cap on the price. As a result, the selling agent can effectively force a buyer into purchasing a home that is likely way over his or her budget.
  3. What happens if two or three or more buyers use an escalation clause? This is a scary situation that would very quickly inflate the selling price of a home to each buyer’s maximum price limit (if they even set one).
  4. What kind of disclosure is needed to other buyers when a buyer uses an escalation clause? Again, RECO doesn’t have any set rules regarding this clause so other buyers would have no idea that this clause is in effect. Let’s say selling Agent Joe has two offers on the home – one from Buyer Paul at $550,000 using an escalation clause of increasing the price by $2,000 over the highest bidder and another from Buyer Sally at $600,000 without an escalation clause. Buyer Paul’s offer has now been increased to $602,000 and Agent Joe will likely go back to Buyer Sally and let her know that the offers are very close and ask if she’d like to improve her offer. Buyer Sally agrees to increase her offer to $625,000 and now Buyer Paul’s offer has automatically increased to $627,000. Again, Agent Joe will likely tell Buyer Sally that the offers are very close and if she really likes the home, she might decide to increase her offer again, which means Buyer Paul is going up $2,000 more over and above Sally’s improved offer. Buyers can quickly lose control within the offer process and may regret their decision.

What about sellers? You might think that this clause will benefit sellers but if buyers are pushed to their limit without having any control within the offer process, they might regret their decision and decide not to proceed with the purchase (even if they need to forego their deposit).  This could leave a seller in a very difficult position. Not only is the home put back on the market but if the seller has purchased a new home, financing for this new home is likely hinging on the sale of the current home. It’s a scary position to be facing and we would never want to put a seller in a state of uncertainty that this type of situation could create.

What’s the solution? First, let’s ban escalation clauses altogether. Next, why not consider an open and transparent auction model? This method of selling your home benefits both buyers and sellers for various reasons. Buyers have full control over how high to bid and are fully aware of the offer prices of other bidders at all times. Sellers can feel confident knowing they maximized the sale price of their home without worrying about a buyer having second thoughts over the price they paid.

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