Top Five: Blog Posts Of 2023!

I know I don’t actually write blogs on a retro typewriter like the one in the photo above, but I really, really liked that picture…

I do wear glasses when I write, however.

I also keep a pinecone nearby at all times.

So that photo is kinda accurate.

In this space last year, I penned over 5,000 words about the “top blog posts” of 2022.  While I have several goals for this year’s edition, one is to write a slightly shorter summary of the best posts from 2023.

This column is always very subjective and it’s not just about the number of comments that a post receives.

And the irony is – even though this is a special-edition, year-end blog post that gets a lot of eyes and covers the best topics of the year, these “Top Five” posts at year-end don’t get a lot of comments.

A friend of mine once told me, “After you’ve written five thousand words and covered the top posts of the year, what else could you really expect your readers to add?”

Fair point.

So without further adieu, let me provide you with a flashback to various periods throughout the year and the blog posts that I feel are worthy of this space!




#5: Landlords & Tenants: The Modern-Day Hatfields & McCoy’s

This just edged out another two blog posts as I couldn’t decide if this was worthy of a “top post” award.

I mean, the most comments on a post this year came on a simple blog about AirBnB, but was the blog itself wasn’t all that special.  It was the topic and the comments thereafter that were noteworthy.

I also contemplated another two-part blog from September as a “top post” but since you’ll see shortly that the #4 blog post of the year was also a two-parter, I decided to move on.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s my own bias on this one.

Maybe I really enjoyed the “Hatfields & McCoys” analogies.  Maybe I watched so much Yellowstone over the last few years (not to mention 1883 and 1923, the latter of which I’m very excited to watch in 2024!) that anything to do with farmers and ranchers in the 1800’s held a special place in my heart.

And to be honest, when I click on the blog post, which you can see if you do so as well, has a feature image of two people on horses in the 1800’s, I smile inside just a little bit.  And perhaps outside too.

Regardless of the external factors here, the topic of “landlords and tenants” is a hot one and will remain so for the foreseeable future.  In fact, at the risk of spoiling next Tuesday’s blog with the “Top Five: Real Estate Stories Of 2023,” you can pretty much guarantee that one of the stories will have to do with the state of our rental market in Ontario.

Up to the date of publication – which was September 18th, 2023, I had written about landlords and tenants four times on Toronto Realty Blog, but there was something unfinished about the topic.  Something, perhaps, unsaid.

I felt as though I needed some “finality” to the topic.  I needed an impact statement or a proverbial stamp.

I’m a big analogy person.  Every time one of my team calls to ask about a problem they’re having, I usually explain their course of action by saying, “Okay, let’s say that you’re shopping at Staples for a day planner…” and veer off into some metaphor that is supposed to give them perspective on the situation, rather than simply telling them what to do or say.

When it comes to describing the state of the landlord-and-tenant relationship in the province of Ontario, or specifically in the city of Toronto, simply saying “It’s never been this bad before” doesn’t come close to explaining where we are.

“The point of no return” rings true here, since I really, truly don’t believe things will ever change.

But to describe the actual landlords and tenants?  For that, I needed an analogy.

For that, I needed to go here:


And here:



Maybe that’s not leaving you with an unbiased view of these clans, since the Hatfields are pictured above looking dirty and with guns, whereas the McCoy clan below are dressed up for church on Sunday, but damn if there aren’t a lot of photos of the Hatifelds looking dirty and holding guns, and double-damn if there aren’t a lot of photos of the McCoy family dressed up!

Don’t read into this, however.  Both families were equally as violent with one another and I don’t think history has yet to decide who was to “blame” for the infamous conflict between the two clans.

As I explained in the blog post from September, I could have gone with the “Capulets and Montagues” analogy and played off Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, which is far better known than the Hatfields & McCoy’s, but I prefer the colloquialism “….like the Hatfields and McCoys” a lot better.

If you haven’t heard that colloquialism before, then you’re wondering why I just shared photos from the 1800’s and what the hell I’m talking about, but that too is a theme here on TRB. 🙂

Landlords and tenants in Toronto don’t get along.  They hate each other.  And they are warring.

That is the basis of my analogy and even the most ardent optimist can’t tell me this is untrue.

Go and Google something like, “How can I get my landlord to pay me to leave” and you’ll instantly find threads on Reddit, Facebook groups, or other sites where people collaborate and conspire to defraud and blackmail landlords.

That is where the system we have here in Ontario has led us and while I’m tempted to say, “Landlords did this to themselves by being so shitty for so long,” that’s not true.

Yes, landlords were shitty, but it’s the system that gave birth to the “cash for keys” mania that tenants enjoy today.

All this has done is make landlords hate tenants even more and it’s made landlords far more stringent with their approval criteria for prospective tenants.

Huh.  Legislation trying to make something better has backfired and made something worse.  I almost feel like that should be the official motto for City Hall.

Landlords & Tenants: The Modern-Day Hatfields & McCoy’s resulted in 34 comments from the TRB readers and I don’t think a single one was in favour of tenants or even bordering on sympathetic.

I tried to be unbiased in the post.  I told one story about an awful landlord and one about an awful tenant.

But those of us “in the know” are aware that the system is being brutally abused by tenants right now, often threatening to bankrupt landlords, and half the city is standing up and shouting, “Yay.”

This has huge implications for the housing market as a whole, which we have addressed in other posts.  Ie., if there were no landlords, who would own the housing, and how would people rent?

But so long as there are landlords and tenants in the city of Toronto, and no matter the “system” we have in place, I believe they will continue to war like the Hatfields & McCoys.

Sadly, I don’t see any other way.



#4a: What Happens When You Back Out Of A Conditional Deal?
#4b: What Happens When You Back Out Of A Conditional Deal In Bad Faith? (pt2)

I mentioned a two-part blog post above, and I can’t help but wonder if any of the diehard readers remembered this one?

It came during the same month as another two-part post called, “How Far Will You Go To Protect Your Principles?” which also got a lot of page views, comments, and attention, but that story had a proud, likable protagonist…

…which was exactly the problem!

As I’ll further detail in my #2 blog post of 2023, people seem to love to hate!

People want drama!  Controversy!  Sex appeal, proverbial or otherwise!

In the “Principles” story, we did have an unscrupulous agent involved who drew the ire of my client; he who had principles.  But that wasn’t enough for the TRB readers, who seem to enjoy blood as much as a character on an unoriginal, overdone, poorly scripted teen drama that for some bizarre reason involves vampires

In the blog post, What Happens When You Back Out Of A Conditional Deal?, I told the story about two of my clients who were crazy.

That’s the conclusion that the readers drew, right?

They were crazy?

They were annoying, that’s for sure.

They were odd.  They were bizarre.  They were “off” in a way and didn’t seem “all there.”

And that is what made the TRB readers enjoy the story!

There’s almost an element of, “Wow, these people are so messed up that it makes me feel better about myself” to the blog post that might be part of what the readers enjoyed.

Or maybe they enjoyed the craziness of Bram and Mary in the blog post?

The readers certainly did not enjoy it when I left the story on a cliffhanger, writing, “TO BE CONTINUED….” at the nexus of the tale.

But maybe there’s a bit of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” at play.

“Good things come to those who wait.”

“There is no terror in the bang; only the anticipation of it.”  That’s Alfred Hitchcock, by the way, but it holds true here.

I always enjoyed writing multiple-part blogs but they’re really tough to round into form.  My blogs (save for this insane one today…) are usually 2,200 words in length, sometimes over 3,000, but rarely do I go above 3,500 if I intend it to be one stand-alone blog.  If I find myself telling a story that’s getting too long, then sure, maybe I can split the post into two and save myself some work for later in the week.

But after writing so many blogs and telling so many stories, I almost know where I am, where I’m going, and what time it is.  Maybe it’s like an experienced runner knowing his or her split-time without checking, just based on the “feel” of the run.  So it’s hard to plan a two-part story, and thus I find they are rare on TRB.

In fact, if you back out the January “Predictions for 2023” and September “Burning Questions For The Fall Market” posts that I deliberately cut into multiple posts every year, it took until September of this year to finally get a two-part, cliffhanger, suspenseful blog post that left the reader wanting more.

I really, truly enjoyed seeing the comments after Part One of the story.

But it wasn’t until an agent I hadn’t spoken to in years called me up on the phone and said, “Can you please tell me what ended up happening?” that I truly felt satisfied with the job I had done dividing this story into two parts.

What was the story?

Well, go ahead and read it!

It’s not easy to summarize, you know.  There’s a reason that it took two parts and six-thousand words to explain!

But as crazy as the people in the story seemed to be and as wild as their actions were, it still seems relatable to many of us.  We can’t help but compare, whether to ourselves, our clients, or people we know, and it’s that human nature to be self-conscious and say, “Does this seem like me?” that I think we all share.

The characters in this blog post are definitely on the “all time” list, whether for TRB tales or for people I’ve encountered in the business, but it was the reaction to the cliffhanger and the subsequent requests for the early screening of Part Two (an agent in my office also came by to ask) that made this post one of my “top five” of 2023.





#3: Should You Hire Your Cousin Vinny To Sell Your Condo?

Anything with the words “my cousin Vinny” deserves a special place in all our hearts, and this blog post is no different.

“Movie Magic” is obviously an understated way of describing what Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei did on the Silver Screen back in 1992, so I only hope that naming my #3 blog post (and my next child…) after Vinny is a big enough thanks to them both.

This blog post is still paying dividends and it’s been almost eight months since I wrote it.

Last month, I received an email from a Kingston real estate agent who asked if he could refer a client of his, and I said that I would be happy to speak to the home owner.  But a few weeks later, that Kingston agent emailed me to say that his client had decided to go another way.

Another way?

different way.

A ridiculous way, according to the Kingston agent.

“He pulled a ‘My Cousin Vinny,’” the Kingston agent told me.

That’s how I knew that this blog post would live on well past its expiry date: other agents are using the term as a metaphor out there in the market today!

In case you didn’t read the blog post from April of 2023, and you have no clue what I’m talking about, then now you know.

“Pulling a my cousin Vinny” is now a metaphor for deciding to work on your purchase or sale with a family member who is not otherwise qualified.

That’s putting it nicely.

The blog post, which was also written nicely, described a client of mine who was “forced” to sell her husband’s investment property – that I sold them years ago, with a family member.  I say forced because she admitted that the family was pressuring her and her husband to use the family member instead of me, simply because they were blood.

The sale did not go well, as you might assume.

And in the blog post, I outlined thirteen mistakes that he made in the listing, which ironically is a bad luck number, but I assure you this was a coincidence.

On their own, each of these thirteen mistakes wouldn’t necessarily make or break the sale.  But collectively, this was a fiasco.

Some people continue to suggest “Realtors have no value” and that’s fine.  While that same person might agree that not all lawyers are the same or not all doctors are the same, everybody is entitled to their own opinion.  I would like to think that this blog post really underscored how bad some Realtors can be at their jobs and how other Realtors are better.

Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, anybody reading the post might say, “These mistakes are common sense.  I could find a Realtor who charges me less and wouldn’t make these mistakes,” or one could argue, “I would know myself not to make these mistakes, so I’d tell my Realtor.”

But that’s after you’ve read the post.

And just as the clients I described in the post had no idea that their agent was making thirteen mistakes during the course of the listing, I don’t expect every buyer or seller to be completely versed on the inner workings of buying or selling a home in Toronto.

I don’t want to turn this into an advertorial for “hiring a Realtor” because that actually wasn’t the theme of the blog post when it first appeared in April of 2023.

The theme was more about family and the pressures that often come to support one another, even at the detriment of oneself.

The clients I described in the blog post lost a lot of money by hiring their Cousin Vinny on account of the awful job he did selling their condo, and I don’t know if I really demonstrated the anguish they were in throughout the process.  But that’s because I wasn’t there – I’m only able to describe my client’s voice on the other end of the line.

But the theme was relatable because every single one of us has a family.

Perhaps we don’t all have the same number of family members.  Perhaps we don’t all have the same relationships with our family.  And surely not everybody has Nonno, Nonna, and Zia screaming at us to list with Cousin Vinny!

But we have all had a family at one time or another and we can all relate to the dynamics.

Not a single family out there is perfect and there’s a reason why so many television shows or movies are made about family dynamics.

So whether it’s getting your tattoo from your cousin’s boyfriend even though you don’t like his work, or driving to Niagara Falls to buy a car from your uncle instead of going up the street to the dealership you know, we’ve all been in a positon where we felt we had to sacrifice something in our own lives to make a family member happy.

Every fall, my team – the Toronto Realty Group, publishes a magazine that we call “INSIGHTS.”

Every year, there’s one unedited, full-length blog post that goes in the magazine, and there’s often debate about which one it should be.

This year, there was no debate.

“Should You Hire Your Cousin Vinny To Sell Your Condo?”  went into the magazine like it always belonged there, and I had some great feedback not just from my own clients, but from Matthew’s, Tara’s, Chris’, Richard’s, and Christan’s.

For a short while, I debated raking this as the #2 post of the year.  But it’s really tough to top what’s next…




#2a: What Is My Worst Real Estate Experience?
#2b: The Worst Person I Have Ever Encountered In This Business

Have you ever heard the expression, “A customer is five times as likely to leave a negative review after a poor experience than a positive review after a good experience?”

What does that say about mankind?

A similar saying about the media: “If it bleeds, it leads!”

Does the same thinking translate into the content on Toronto Realty Blog?

After all, when I started this site in 2007, my content was considered “controversial.”  I maintain that it was completely normal material but it just hadn’t been done or said before, and that the old guard of real estate wasn’t prepared for somebody sharing stories from the real estate trenches or, God forbid, being critical of a particular house, neighbourhood, or housing style.

A long-time blog reader told me a few years ago, “Your content is way different than it used to be; it’s way calmer.  It’s changed a lot!”

I challenged him on that and he said, “You used to rage about being turned away from a swanky nightclub on King West because you didn’t have the right shoes on.  Now you rage about being turned away from a kids’ play centre because you won’t give up your Sunday morning coffee.”

Fair point.

And yet I realize, to this day, that when my blog posts are controversial or even contain a negative undertone, they get far more page views over time.

Perhaps that’s why the two posts above received so much fanfare this year?

Or maybe Google just loved the titles.  Maybe would-be real estate buyers and sellers across the world are searching, “worst real estate experience” or down-on-their-luck folks looking for answers from the universe are searching “worst person ever.”

I’m not sure.

But I do know that these two posts were among the top-five in page views in 2023, which is wild, considering they were written halfway through the year.

My worst real estate experience was a story that I wasn’t sure I had ever told on Toronto Realty blog before.  Maybe I had.  I’ve written over 3,000 posts and while there’s a great search function in the back-end of the site, it’s really hard to find a “story” if the title doesn’t match.

But as I wrote in the blog back in May, I also found this blog post suitable because I had been asked the question during one of our training sessions for rookie agents, “what is your worst experience in the business?”

Geez.  Why don’t you try kissing me before you, um, nevermind…

It was a ballsy question from somebody that I had never met before, but based on how I carry myself and how open and honest I am, maybe it seemed entirely appropriate for a person to ask.

And the crazy thing is – I answered!  Right away, without a pause or a thought.  I didn’t even pause to think about my worst experience, which means that, deep down, I knew.

I won’t regurgitate or summarize the blog here, but I will say that after the blog post in May, I decided to work this story into my speech at the Bosley Real Estate Awards thereafter.  Not to sound brash, but I’m at the point where I’ve run out of things to say.  I’ve run out of stories.  I have given nine successive speeches as Bosley’s top agent and just as I always assume I’ll wake up one day and not have a story to tell on Toronto Realty Blog, I also assume I’ll run out of topics for my speech.

That is, until this topic fell right into my lap.

There’s something offputting about being told “you’re the best” and being asked to give a speech to your peers, so I find that anything self-deprecating goes a long way.  It’s been a constant theme here on TRB through the years, and thus I worked it into this year’s speech.  Standing up in front of 200 people and saying, “Do you want to hear the worst experience of my real estate career” is bound to make a few ears perk up.

The story – about how I thought I had my first big listing as a rookie, only to show up to the property with a prospective buyer client as somebody was hammering a “CENTURY 21” sign into the lawn, was met with absolute silence from my peers.  Except for the parts where one is supposed to chuckle, the room hung on my every word.

Real estate isn’t for the faint of heart.  It’s not an easy business, despite what some people think, and I’ve personally seen hundreds of people come and go over the years.

This experience brutalized me in a way that a blog post or a speech to peers cannot convey, and yet I felt it prudent to share with my peers, right down to the very last detail.


For their benefit.

And the original blog post was for yours.

“Be informed and entertained!”

That was the very first catch-phrase or slogan I came up with for Toronto Realty Blog and sometimes I need to remind myself of what the goal of TRB is.

The second blog post, “The Worst Person I Have Ever Encountered In This Business,” was a necessary follow up to “What Is My Worst Real Estate Experience?”

It was a lot of therapy for a single week here on TRB but both stories were entertaining and I know that “if it bleeds, it leads.”

The worst person I have ever encountered in this business is one who still haunts me at night.

As the blog post explained, he was crazy.  Not like mental institution crazy but he was a “doctor,” which I put in quotations for a reason, and despite his normal persona and ability to navigate society without turning heads, he was nutso.

From time-to-time, he comes to mind.

And my immediate reaction is a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

That is how big an effect he had on me, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that to you, right here, right now.

I’m not ashamed but embarrassed.  I guess that’s because I wish that I could control my reaction and my emotions when he comes to mind.

But I know how I felt after our phone call and I have the photo – from the post above, to show for it!  I also know that in my twenty years in this business, I have never been spoken to the way that he did.  Something about his piercing, nasal voice and the deliberate, meticulous manner in which he annunciated certain words is something I’m just unable to forget.

I’ve come across a lot of bad people in this business.  Liars, cheaters, assholes, egomaniacs, sociopaths, and others.  But this person is one that still has an impact on me to this day and that was worth a TRB story.

Perhaps it’s not only because of the page views these two blog posts received that makes me think they were the “top posts” of 2023.

Perhaps it’s also because I shared something about myself that exposed my vulnerability.  And sometimes, the very, very best posts are the ones that examine how we’re all human…



#1: TRB Reader’s Write: When Will We Peak Again?

This was, hands-down, my absolute favourite post of the year.

And unlike the others on this year’s list, and essentially every other year’s list as well, this one had almost nothing to do with what I wrote, and everything to do with what the reader’s contributed.

After all, that’s why it was called “TRB Reader’s Write.”

The question is simple: when will we peak again?

And yet, as I sit here writing this on Sunday, December 10th, some of the predictions from the TRB readers have already aged quite poorly!

Wait, back up.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The average home price in Toronto in February of 2022 was $1,334,554.  It’s a number that I’ve written and spoken so many times that I know it off by heart.

Wait, back up.

Let’s start further back…

The spring of 2017 was an absolutely crazy time!

The average home price the previous fall, in September, October, and November of 2016, fell between a narrow band of $755,000 and $776,000, averaging about $765,000 over the course of the three months.

In January of 2017, the average Toronto home price was $770,000.

In February, it rose to $875,000, which was a record at the time.

But two months later in the month of April, the average home price peaked at a whopping $920,791.

Then it all came back to earth.

History has shown that the government deliberately took steps to “cool” the housing market, but I don’t think even they had any idea just what a big impact their actions would have.

By August, the average home price was back to $732,000.

And it would take three years for the Toronto market to “peak” once again.  In June of 2020, three months after the start of the pandemic, and only two months after prices “crashed” in April, the average Toronto home price hit $930,869, thereby surpassing the $920,791 peak from April of 2020.

Three years!

And two months, if you want to be exact…

Fast-forward to 2022 and we found ourselves in a similar situation.

The average home price in the fall market in 2021 fell within a band of $1,136,000 and $1,163,000, but by February of 2022, it had hit a “peak” of $1,334,554.

That peak remains the all-time-record to this day.

And that is where this blog post, “TRB Reader’s Write: When Will We Peak Again?” comes into play!

In April of 2020, the blog readers and I decided to play a game in which we would predict when the Toronto avearge home price would supass the pre-COVID metric of $910,290, set in Feburary of 2020.

As history, and subsequent blogs on TRB have shown, it only took two more months, with a price of $930,869 in June.

I had predicted October of 2020.

Many people predicted 2021, 2022, or 2023.

Potato even predicted 2029!

But it was April of 2020.

So as much fun as that game was, I decided in a blog post on March 15th, 2023, to ask the readers when we would peak again.

Actually, I asked them three questions:

1) Does the $1,038,668 TRREB average home price from January represent the market bottom?
2) If “no” for the above, which month will prove lower than $1,038,668?
3) When will the TRREB average home price surpass the peak of $1,334,554 from February of 2022?

Most readers answered the three questions individually, but some of the answers are skewed.

Blog reader Bankersorta was one of the few to say that we had NOT yet reached the market bottom, and predicted that we would do so in November of 2024.

But famed blog reader Derek also answered “no” to question number one, and his fate shall be decided in about three weeks.  Derek suggested that the bottom will come in December of 2023, which isn’t a bad guess, considering how prices always plummet from November to December.  But with the November price checking in at $1,082,179, and the “bottom” from January sitting at $1,038,668, we would have to see a 4%+ drop from November-to-December to hit a new bottom.

Hardly impossible, right?

Blog reader JL also said that we hadn’t hit bottom and, seeing as he was eating caviar at Canoe with Derek at the time, also predicted December of 2023.

Then there’s Sigruper, who said that bottom could be coming it…………..February of 2027.

He’s going to make us wait, but I have a very good memory and if I’m still working in real estate by then and not running a children’s daycare or breeding salmon, then I’ll be sure to check in with Sigruper’s prediction.

So that’s four readers who predicted that we would see a lower home price than the $1,038,668 set in January of 2023.

As for the rest?

Here’s a chart I made last March and have looked back at many times since:

Dan and Bryan were very optimistic, but unfortunately, they’re out the game like the guy who picked the Buffalo Bills in the NFL Survivor Pool this year, only to see them lose to the Jets.

Eight people picked a period in 2024, eight people picked a period in 2025, four picked 2026, and Daniel and Sigruper are the pessimists among us.

But let’s not forget, when we played this game in 2020, Potato predicted we wouldn’t surpass the February figure until “sometime in the 2030’s.”


I suppose it’s worth noting that I picked October of 2025, which makes me among the bearish on the above list, but it makes sense.

From the March blog, I present you with this chart:

As noted before, it took thirty-eight months to return to the 2017 peak.

So with a current peak of February, 2022, my prediction for October of 2025 represents a whopping forty-four months!

I don’t recall why I picked that period.  If I had it to do over, I’d pick April of 2025, since prices typically peak in the spring.

2024 will be interesting as far as our “game” goes.  If your name is in the chart above, take note!

I will most certainly come back to that chart in my early-2024 blog posts and likely several more times through the year.

And in my mind, this was my “best” post of 2023.  Perhaps not the most controversial, inflammatory, unique, or entertaining, but it was fun then, it’s fun now, and it’ll be a topic of conversation for literally years to come…




That was indeed another mouthful, and yet with every stroke of a subsequent key on my Logitech K780 Wireless Keyboard, I risk topping the word count from 2022.

Which I said that I wouldn’t do.

And now I just did…

Folks, I hope you enjoyed a look back at the “top” blog posts of 2023, and I also hope you shared in some of my choices.

If there’s a post that stood out to you for any reason, or one that you liked of found memorable, I would love to hear!

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