meet the real estate carny

Meet The Real Estate Agent Carny

A long, long time ago I was at the Markham fair with my then-girlfriend. The Markham fair is exactly what it sounds like, a fair in the middle of a farm field, with tractor pulls and crash-up derbies.

The only food you’ll find is corn dogs, hot dogs, and overcooked burgers on stale buns.

The best part is walking through the midway and seeing real carnies at work running the games.

It’s amazing what games people will play to win a giant stuffed pink gorilla.

It’s equally amazing the lengths carnies will go to to get two bucks out of your pocket and into theirs.

I’ve always heard there is a sucker born every day and on this particular evening, I was the sucker.

While walking through the midway games area, there was a game where you through a ball at stacked cans. The rules were simple, knock all the cans off the table and win a prize.

My first mistake was making eye contact with the carny. My second was saying hello back. With his tractor beams hooked on, I was powerless against his game.

The first thing he did was ask me if I was man enough to get my girl a prize. I asked him how much the game cost. $10 for 5 balls.

Too expensive, I said.

I’ll give you 3 balls for $5.

Now I’m completely hooked and he knew it.

I asked him exactly how the game worked, and he said knock all the cans off the table and you get a prize.

My girlfriend could care less about a stupid stuffed animal, but this guy had challenged my manhood, and damn him if I would let that happen.

But because he challenged me, I wanted more. More balls for the price or more chances to win.

I told him I wanted 5 balls for $5.


4 balls?

The best I can do is 2 balls for $2 and I’ll give you a prize no matter what.

Deal! I won – loser and a sucker I am.

On the first throw, I knocked all the cans off the table and I asked for my prize.

It was a tiny knock-off wish troll.

This guy was a pro, the old bait and switch was coming up. He pointed at another table and told me off I do it again, the troll and the massive pink gorilla were hers.

I’ll show this carny up!

I lined to the table with an iron grip on the ball ready to slay this beast and bring the princess her prized gorilla. She could’ve cared less for the stupid thing but I was going to win dammit!

I whip the ball at the cans. Several go flying off the table, one can spins, topples over, and dramatically rolls off the table. But one can stood firm, not even budging a millimetre.

The carny looked me dead in the eye and grinned like the pirate he was. It took a bit for me to realize I had just been scammed.

Humiliated in front of my girlfriend, I asked for the troll. Sorry pal, you lost.

But you said I would get a prize.

If you knocked all the cans off the table.

My death stare did nothing to change his decision. He had my $2. He was done with me and there was nothing I could do about it and he knew it.

I have never played another midway game ever again. Lesson learned.

Now let’s meet the realtor version of a carney.

This is an actual scenario that I recently went through with my client.

The majority of my time is spent looking through places and what they sell for. When a unit came up for sale in my client’s price range I knew it was underpriced and I figured it was to drum up multiple offers.

It was listed for $499,900 and had been on the market for almost 2 months, so I dug into the listing and selling history of the place.

The condo had been purchased a year and a half earlier for $657,000 more than what it is listed for and looking through the sold history of comparable sold units in the building, I was confused about what was going on with this listing.

The only thing I could guess was the seller wanted more than the asking price, but how much more?

There’s no way someone was desperate enough that they had to take an almost $200,000 loss, right?

The brokerage remarks had the classic greasy “Motivated seller!” in the description.

I texted the agent and posed my question as bluntly as possible: if my client brought a full-price offer, would your client accept it?

Instead of texting back, I guess he didn’t want to have a message trail, he called me.

The conversation went like this:

“Hey, Mike! Thank you so much for your interest in this lovely condo!” A canned script he no doubt learned from his douchey coach or brokerage training.

“Ya,” I responded dryly, “I just want to know if I’m wasting my client’s and my time showing this condo because I see your client (who is his son) bought it for $657,000 not too long ago.”

“That’s a great question, Mike, and I appreciate your concern.”

That answered my question before even answering my question. I was going to get another reframing question designed to deflect.

“Let me instead ask what purchase power your client is qualified for?”

Purchase power? That’s a new one, and here we go with the run-around…

“Why are you avoiding my question?” My blood was beginning to boil. I hate being dicked around with these sleazy sales dialogues. “Will full price buy this condo yes or no?”

“A man that’s direct, I like that. Let’s just say my client (son) has had several offers, the highest being $525,000, and chose not to accept it.

“What’s your end play here? Bring in buyers that can only afford $500,000 and you think you’ll somehow negotiate your way up from there? You’re just wasting everyone’s time.”

“You run your business your way and I’ll run mine my way.” Click.

Does he really think the end game is attracting people who can afford to pay over $660,000 by pricing it at $499,000?

If it is, the fact that it hasn’t sold in 2 months should be a clear indication that his tactic isn’t working.

By the way, similar units have been selling for around $570,000 over the past 6 months, so is that a price his son would accept?

I highly doubt it.

Instead of wasting everyone’s time, why not waste only his son’s, er, client’s time and list for an unreasonably high price rather than an unreasonably low price?

At least that way, people could decide beforehand if they would be willing to pay that price rather than going through the motions of booking the time to see it, and preparing an offer, only to get a call from the agent saying they actually want whatever ridiculous price they’re expecting.

But hey, I guess he’ll run his business his way.

Like a fucking carny.


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