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Regina’s Apartment Vacancies Up but Rental Condo Market Down

Tue, 29 Nov by Pauline Relkey

In today’s Nov 29, 2016 Leader Post, it said 5.5% is our apartment vacancy rate which is considered high, but the rental condo vacancy has fallen sharply to 1% over the past year. This is according to CMHC.  The national average rental vacancy rate in major centres across Canada is at 3.4%.

Causes – weaker labour market conditions and lower migration.

A total of 2300 jobs within the typical renter age group of 15 to 24 years were lost in Sept 2016.

Renters are supposedly buying places instead of renting because of low interest rates. Rental completions have risen substantially with rental apartment stock at 12,568 units in Oct 2016 up 389 units from Oct 2015.

The supply has increased faster than demand.

Average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in Regina is about $1109.

Larger increases in the vacancy rate took place in Alberta and Sask due to the economic slowdown in these provinces. So this is good news for renters – lots of choices.

The complete article is here.

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12 Things to Know about Real Estate Selling

Wed, 16 Nov by Pauline Relkey

1. A home is worth what a buyer is willing to pay.
You may think all the time and effort you put into your home and what you paid for it previously makes it worth a certain price. Even an appraiser may come in before you list and say it’s worth close to a price you like. But at the end of the day, it is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. The buyer takes into account what changes s/he wants to possibly make and if s/he feels the asking price is too much to justify buying it then putting more money into it, s/he will buy a different property. A buyer would rather purchase a home for $250,000, put $25,000 into it and have it be worth $275,000 instead of buying a home at $275,000 that needs the same work of the $250,000 home.
2. Upgrades may not increase the value, but they’ll increase the chances of getting it sold.
It’s normal to think or hope that you’ll get back every penny spent on a home renovation. Unfortunately most cases you might only receive back a percentage of what you spent (or sometimes no hike in value at all). Different home improvements generally offer different returns, and that amount can vary depending on the area that you live in. Other factors include the quality of the craftsmanship and the personal taste of buyers.

3. Keep it clean
No house is ever going to be perfect, especially with a dog in the summer or with kids and their toys and stuff.  But you need to make an
effort to keep your home as clean as possible during listing photos and showings. You want potential buyers to remember what they love about the home after they leave and not talk about how much of a mess your home was instead.

clean-home
4. Curb appeal is the first (and strongest) impression.
We all know what they say about first impressions. It’s hard for someone to change their mind after a bad first impression. Take a look at the front of your home. As a stranger, would you buy it? Just in case you’re biased, look next door. What about your neighbor’s home? Would you buy theirs? If no, imagine if they made it more presentable. Then would you buy it? Yes? Remove the kids’ toys from the front yard. Hide the trash cans and recycling bin. Mow the lawn and trim the bushes, especially before your pictures are taken! AND continue to maintain the lawn for showings and for the chance that someone might just drive by and notice the for sale sign in your yard. If you have shutters, make sure they’re all still attached and if needed,. put a fresh coat of paint on them. And don’t forget to pressure wash!

5. Pet odor and clutter leave the longest lasting impressions.
Just because we love our furry friends, doesn’t mean that everyone else does. It’s hard to erase every piece of evidence that they exist in your home. No matter how many times you vacuum, there will be pet hair that you miss. Just make an effort. And if you can, hide their bedding and food bowls. Pet odor is extremely hard to hide, especially if you have a puppy learning how to be potty trained or an older dog with a bladder problem.  Maybe allow for a flooring allowance in the deal. For now, stick an air freshener here and there, but not too many as a strong perfume smell makes buyers suspicious.
6. Neutral paint and decor will always appeal to the masses.
Get rid of those dark colors and bright purple accent walls now! That will stick out like a sore thumb in your listing photos before a potential buyer even schedules a showing of your home. The first thought going through their mind is, “How many coats of paint is it going to take to cover up that hideous color?!” Neutral is in. Neutral is always in. As for decor, minimal is best. Go ahead and pack any extra decor that is not needed.
7. Cheap fixes or updates will result in cheap (low) offers.
If you can’t afford to update the whole house, don’t. Trying to cover everything will result in cheap updates that the potential buyer will most likely want to have redone. If nothing else, as stated above, at least paint. A fresh coat of paint in the whole house, as long it’s a natural and neutral color, is never wasted money.
8. Everything is negotiable.
Seriously. Everything is negotiable. While the refrigerator seems to be the biggest thing that buyers want or sellers state in the listing that i can be included with an acceptable offer, many other items have been negotiated – curtains, furniture, even art work. However, it is very important to make sure negotiations are done right and documented correctly in the contract.

9. Time is of the essence.
Whatever market we are encountering, whether it is a buyers’ market, sellers’ market or balanced market, the perfect time to list is when it’s right for you, the seller.  But make sure you are confident that you do want to sell.  I’ve encountered a few sellers that say they want to sell, but their actions speak louder than their words (refuse to let showings happen, make showings difficult for buyers agents to book them, restrict showing days and times, won’t leave the property when someone is showing, etc).  If it’s a sellers market, when properties are sold quickly and there are many times when there are more than one offer on the same property, that is the perfect time for you to list your home if you’ve been considering it. Homes can barely be put on the market before there is an offer put on them. This being said, time is of the essence for buyers. If you fall in love with a house, you need to put an offer in now, and a good one at that. There is no time to waste going home and talking about it or sleeping on it. That home might not still be on the market tomorrow.

10. Location! Location! Location!
Why does location matter so much? For starters, you don’t usually move a home — at least not easily or inexpensively. When you buy a home in a good location, it’s usually a solid long-term investment. It’s sometimes wise to buy the worst house — a property that could use some TLC — on the best block. Why? Because fixing up a home in a great neighborhood will give you the best return on your investment and will be easier to sell later on. Conversely, you can buy a beautiful home that doesn’t need any work. But if the block is sketchy or just plain bad, you could have a hard time selling the property at a decent price.

11. Buyers notice things they want to change before noticing any updates.
Like previously said, it’s hard to please everyone. Even though you just spent $30,000 on an upgraded kitchen, the buyers are looking forward to having the carpets ripped out and hardwoods laid. Or, they just might not like the choices you made during the renovation process. One possible move you can make is to allow a flooring or paint allowance, therefore you’re not wasting the money while getting the home ready to sell and they can pick out the details they like.

12. Price your property correctly 
This is sometimes like trying to hit a moving target but you need to be aware of what is around you, both selling and not selling. Even if you’re in a hurry to sell and price isn’t your main concern, you still need a baseline to start marketing your home. One thing’s for certain: pricing is one of the biggest decisions in the selling process. Set too high a price and you run the risk of turning off potential buyers. It also means your house will not show up when buyers search online since they will be using lower price points.

All these hints can help you when you need to sell.

Safety Checklist

Wed, 09 Nov by Pauline Relkey

With winter soon approaching (at least not today with temps of 19 degrees), we might have a little more time to think about safety features in our homes.

Smoke detectors

Whether it is law or not, there should be smoke detectors in every building. Does every floor have a smoke detector? Are there additional ones in sleeping areas? Test the detectors regularly. Change batteries twice a year.

Carbon monoxide detectors

Do you have at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home? Test the detectors regularly.  Change batteries twice a year.

Home security

Do you have solid locks on doors and windows?   Outdoor light sensors?  Timed indoor lights?  Installed home alarm system?

Fire extinguishers

Its always a good idea to have 1 or 2 fire extinguishers in the home.  Have one in the kitchen (especially when I try to cook). Have another in the garage. Does everyone in the household know how to use them? Are they functional? Are they expired?

Safety education

Teach your family about the importance of home security and fire safety. Ensure they know how to use preventative safety equipment. Do they know how to call 911 in case of an emergency? Design and review an escape plan for all potential situations. If you live in a 2 storey home, do you have a collapsible ladder nearby?

fire-extinguisher

Why do Realtors Change Companies

Wed, 09 Nov by Pauline Relkey

Over my 26 years of selling real estate in Regina, I have watched several agents move companies.

I was usually disappointed to see some agents leave the company I was at because I thought they were good decent people and I hated to lose touch with them, but I felt that they had their reasons for moving and I wished them well.

I can only guess as to the reasons why other agents changed companies.  Maybe they felt they were in a sales slump and needed a change. What is that saying? “A change is as good as a rest”.

Maybe they were asked to leave the company.  Yes, this business has unscrupulous people as does most, if not every, other business out there.  Unfortunately these few bad apples spoil it for everyone else.  Goodbye to bad rubbish as another saying goes.

I was asked years ago by my past broker, what would it take for a company to offer me to move to their company?  My answer was “it’s not what they offer me, it’s what my present company wasn’t doing for me, that would make me leave.”

I planned on staying at the same company for years and years until I retired.  I consider myself to be a team player, whether it’s a company fundraiser for the charity of choice, or a fun event to let off some steam or an in-house contest to get us motivated and selling, or weekly sales meetings, etc.  I participated as much as I could, even including my spouse and children in conferences and some events over the years.  We could make a conference a family vacation with extra days taken either before or after my work convention duties were done.  This way my family could meet some other agents and hopefully understand my business a little better plus we could enjoy some fun family time together.  I think you always have guilt when you are working parent and try to do what you can to lessen that guilt.

I chose my first company 26 years ago after very carefully interviewing with 4 companies.  One broker told me point blank to go to the company I chose because they had the best training for new agents at that time.  One broker made me feel too much like his daughter and didn’t give me the right feeling as business associates.  One other broker seemed blown away by my interview answers and wanted to hire me on the spot, but I wasn’t ready to make my decision yet.  Plus this broker had me write his company’s real estate agent test.  I was supposed to hear back from this broker a few days later as to the results of my test, but when he didn’t call me, I called him instead.  He was a changed person because he said that the test showed that I wasn’t independent enough to be a good realtor.  Well, the company that I did go to work at, told me that they sent this broker a copy of my stats to show how much business I did (for someone that wasn’t independent enough).

I enjoyed my first 23 years at the company I chose, learning and growing as an agent.  I met other agents and lots of clients, learnt a lot, increased my business every year and won a bunch of awards based on production and also on client and peer recognition.  I loved what I did.  Yes I put a lot into my work and got a lot back.

But then in the last 2 years, I wasn’t happy.  Things had changed.  These changes were probably meant to be better for the company but I wasn’t feeling it.  Too many chefs cooking.  Not sure who to turn to in times of need.  Questions were left unanswered.  Were they too busy, or too busy for me, or did they not care anymore?  I wasn’t enjoying myself.  Things were happening that I didn’t agree with. I felt like a past client who wasn’t being acknowledged for all the business I had given them.  The emphasis was on getting new agents to work at the company and us ‘oldies’ were forgotten about.  This isn’t what we were taught to do with our clients, yet the company was doing it to their agents who were the company’s clients.

Then one day it hit me like a bolt of lightening.  I could change companies.  I had talked to various brokers over the years.  Not that I was planning on moving companies back then, but I feel that it doesn’t hurt to talk to others and keep abreast of what is out there, just in case.  It was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when I made this decision to move.  I felt that I still had quite a few years left in me to keep on working and I should be happy doing it.  Was it an easy decision? Yes and no.  I cried a few times because it felt like I was ending a relationship and it hurt, even though it was the right decision to make.

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Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence? Maybe, maybe not. But I do know it needs the same watering and cutting and fertilizing that the other grass needed.  I’m happy I made my move.  Life is what we make of it.  Make yours great today!

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It’s Time to say Good-bye to Single Family Homes

Wed, 09 Nov by Pauline Relkey

Interesting talk on CBC Radio.

Nathan Lauster, author of Death and Life of Single Family Homes says that places like Vancouver are becoming unaffordable to buy a house and we should look at other ways to live.

When we live in a single family home, there are environmental costs – we use more energy, we need vehicles to get around and need more land to build on.
Plus it’s isolating. We need to get people out to meet others.

The alternatives are townhouses, low and high rises and duplexes.

We buy single family homes for 2 reasons:
1. Cultural – to show that we are successful and can afford to buy a home and that we are good people/parents and provide a home for our children.
2. Pragmatic – we can control our space.

Nathan says that we can have a more full life when we get rid of maintenance issues. One person says the local cafe is his kitchen, the park is his family room for example.

Municipalities have to change their zoning bylaws to enable more people to live in less space. We usually live in one part of town, work in another part of town and shop in yet another part of town.

What is Vancouver doing to lead the way?
They have parks and agricultural land that is protected space so no development happens on them.
They have made industrial areas as exciting places to live.
They enabled old houses to mix in with new builds.
They have secondary suites/laneway houses (and so does Regina).

single-family-homes-or-town-houses.   To hear the radio podcast, click here.

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