The Expiry Date – Time for Some Lateral Thinking


During my weekly grocery shop at my local cost-saver store, I am forever verifying the expiry dates of the various items I’m there to buy. I recognize that this is largely superfluous given the fact that I go through so much food that anything purchased won’t likely last the week, anyway – but there you have it. Must be a vestige habit picked up during my time in Public Health when I worked and collaborated closely on cases of food safety issues. Just a little Tristan Trivia there for you. Old habits die hard (particularly ones to do with paranoia-level focus on detail) – but what can you do?

There are worse things I suppose.

Anyway… where was I? Expiry dates. Right.

This got me thinking about how the analogy of an expiry date might apply to the land of having to think forward in the land of real estate. (And if that isn’t an honest example to evidence the fact that I’m always thinking ‘Real Estate’, I don’t know what is)

What do you mean, you have to think ahead?!

The beauty of having a best before date branded into the side of your grocery item is that it gives you a definite, exact day. There’s clarity there that anchors by when the item must be used (and, as a corollary, when it will be at its best). It sharpens focus. It makes one make haste.

If only more prospective sellers and buyers would employ a similar strategy of looking ahead to determine a ‘let’s-move-by date’, it would make scheduling the preceding milestones’ timelines that much more meaningful.

While I often have this type of discussion with my clients in order to ascertain what their ideal timeline horizons might be, I find that a surprising high proportion haven’t discussed this beforehand or are ambivalent. That’s a problem.

Ambivalence rarely results in concrete action.

I am someone who likes to know what’s what. Where do things stand, exactly? What are we doing next? Nothing wishy-washy. No shades of grey; black or white. Red or green, as it were. I’m good with driving the process forward; as a realtor and real estate consultant, that’s kind of my job. I’ll be in charge of the process and the client, the decisions.

It goes without saying that the logistics required to prep a property for sale (I’m thinking basic work, cleaning and decluttering) and subsequently organizing photos mean that a plan has to be put into place in order to optimize the potential return. My honest advice for this ‘sweat equity’ step is to avoid underestimating the time it’ll take to prep your property to sell. Don’t curse yourself by leaving too little time, unnecessarily; far better to plan well in advance, take your time and work the plan thoroughly and methodically. Remember, there ought not to any bad surprises – each is merely evidence of a lack of foresight. Give yourself plenty of lead time – set your real estate ‘expiration date’ well into the future. Weeks if not months.


The other aspect so important to knowing your desired timelines is that it then enables you to be as strategic as possible with respect to timing your entry to market (if selling) or knowing when you may wish to purchase (to coincide with periods of greater inventory or if/when interest rates are most likely to decrease). Depending on the various factors, leveraging a well thought-out, organized and executed real estate process can make a significant difference in the end result… never mind the fact that the process is far more likely to be pleasant (and dare I say, “fun”?!).

So, there you have it. Next time you’re at your local grocery store, staring at when something is likely to spoil, think: Real Estate. When do you want to be somewhere else?

And who wouldn’t like a beautiful new kitchen for all these groceries?!


That’s got me thinking: Do I need milk?

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