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April Fool’s? Sellers list East-Hamilton house for $1

Posted: March 23, 2016


Rick DiGiantomasso knows some people will treat his $1 real estate listing as a joke.

If the unbelievable list price isn’t enough to provoke suspicion, well, offers on his 1.5-storey red brick house on Park Row North are holding until April 1.

Yes, that’s right. April Fool’s Day.

“I can see some people maybe not believing it, but I bet plenty will want to see what it’s all about,” said DiGiantomasso, who is counting on the unlikely listing to help sell the investment property he bought for $167,000 three years ago.

And no, in case you wondered, he’s not planning to accept a purchase price of one lonely loonie — although he’s braced for the inevitable attempts.

“If you’re serious about the market, you’ll make a serious offer,” he said.

His real estate agent, Grahame Wealleans, pitched the loonie listing strategy that is relatively new in Hamilton but periodically grabs headlines in the GTA. An east-end Toronto heritage home was listed for a buck just last week.

DiGiantomasso himself suggested holding offers until April 1.

“I thought it would be fun,” he said. “I talked it over with my wife and we figured we have nothing to lose.”

Legally, that’s true, said Toronto real estate lawyer Mark Weisleder.

“There is nothing forcing an owner to sell for $1 — or any other listed price,” he said. “A listing is just an invitation to bid.”

Weisleder said it’s not uncommon for homes to be “underpriced” to create a bidding war — this just happens to be an extreme and “kind of gimmicky” example of the strategy.

“I think it will generate a lot of interest … but don’t go in expecting a deal,” said George O’Neill, CEO for the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington. “Real estate tends to trade at fair market value, almost irrespective of the price on offer.”

Weisleder noted in some cases, a dramatically low listing can reboot interest in a problem property. The latest Toronto home listed for $1, for example, is visibly crumbling and requires a buyer willing to abide by heritage restrictions.

But the strategy could also be risky.

“Buying and selling a house is a serious business. You don’t want it to be perceived as a joke,” he said.

Wealleans, the real estate agent, said there are no hidden problems or restrictions with the three-bedroom home. He doesn’t think buyers will laugh off the chance to bid on a house in an “up-and-coming” neighbourhood near the Pipeline Trail and future LRT line.

Hamilton saw record home sales in 2015 and is expected to stay hot this year. February statistics from the realtors’ association show more sales in east Hamilton and at an average sale price of $256,000, which is $40,000 higher than the same period last year.

Wealleans said he recently sold a home on Grosvenor Avenue North, a short walk to the west, for $331,000 — about $56,000 over asking. The “largely irrelevant” list price is just a way to stand out in a hot market, he said.

“I’m expecting a lot of agents to go through. That’s worth the odd member of the public coming up and offering me a dollar.”


905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec