She listed her cottage for $399,000 and got 71 bids

She listed her cottage for $399,000 and got 71 bids

Buyers showed up without an appointment. Six cars got stuck in the ditch. People were banging the door down. The winning bid? $777,777

She purchased the cottage for $250,000 in 2017, put $38,000 into renovations and averaged roughly $86,000 a year renting it out on Airbnb


More Cottage Wars

The funny thing is, I wasn’t even looking to sell. Everyone’s talking about impulse buys? This was an impulse sale. I’m a real estate broker, and I was driving up to Huntsville on a Friday morning this past February to meet clients. We were supposed to look at six properties, but four of the agents cancelled that morning because the sellers had accepted bully offers. That got me thinking about the wild state of the market. I own a few income properties, and one of them was this little one-bedroom cottage on the Trent-Severn. I’ve owned it since late 2017, and it’s been good to me. I’ve averaged about $86,000 a year renting it on Airbnb. It just popped into my head: Why don’t I list it? I called my assistant and told her to put it up online.

I set the asking price at $399,000, which is $149,000 more than I paid for it in 2017. You could say that my strategy was to spark a bidding war, but that implies that we as agents have a lot of control. The reality is that it’s impossible to predict which properties will receive multiple offers. I definitely wouldn’t have predicted it for this one. A one-bedroom with a bunkie? It’s nice inside—I put $38,000 into renovations—and it’s right on the canal, but it doesn’t have incredible curb appeal. As soon as the listing went live, everything went bonkers. Within 24 hours, we were fully booked with 192 showings. Other people just showed up without an appointment. It was winter, and all told, six cars got stuck in the ditch.

Because a lot of people couldn’t come in person, I hosted two virtual showings. I couldn’t keep up with the questions coming in. Meanwhile, there were people banging on the door to come in. Often you have a property that attracts a certain category of buyer, but this group was all over the map. A lot of people from the GTA, but also from Peterborough, Barrie and beyond. Families. Retired couples. People in their 20s looking for a place to party. I even got an offer from a group of neighbours who are year-rounders, who I guess wanted to prevent another rental property off the lane. Their offer was decent but nowhere close to the best.

Once the deadline passed, I looked at the offers. There were 71! I couldn’t believe it. My previous record was 37. In the end, there were 11 offers over $600,000, and the winning offer was $777,777 with no conditions and a quick close. The buyer, a guy in his early 30s from Mississauga, never even saw the place in person. I think he found the potential for rental income appealing.

Since the sale, the word has spread, and I have heard from a lot of industry colleagues. Most of them have been congratulatory. A few have been pissed off because they blame me for driving up the market and pricing out locals. As for what comes next: I own five acres on Georgian Bay, where I’ve been approved to build a series of multiplexes to rent on Airbnb. The money from the sale of my cottage will help speed that project along.

Do you have a story about buying or selling a property during the pandemic? We’d love to hear it: [email protected]