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CMHC’s latest survey

Mon, 20 Jan by Pauline Relkey

The 2019 findings are in.

Canadians across the country were asked about their thoughts, attitudes and behaviours about and the process of buying a home in the annual Mortgage Consumer Survey and this is what they said.

Affordability continues to be the most important factor when it comes to buying a home.

One of the biggest stories of 2019 was the dramatic decrease in the number of home buyers who spent the maximum amount they could afford. The cost of becoming a homeowner is at the top of Canadians’ “must-haves”:

Price/affordability (80%)
Number of rooms (73%)
Proximity to public transit (67%)

The majority of Canadians are aware of the mortgage qualification rules (“stress test”). In fact, 65% of buyers said they believe the new mortgage qualification “stress test” will keep more Canadians from taking on a mortgage they can’t afford.

Despite debt levels, consumer optimism is on the rise.
Nearly one third of home buyers don’t expect interest rates to rise in the next year – up from just 20% in 2018. More than 8 out of 10 home buyers also feel confident that buying a home is a sound long-term investment.

The majority of home buyers have a positive attitude towards the idea of buying a home. Close to 9 out of 10 buyers were “happy” or “excited” about buying a home. However, more than one third also said that buying a home made them feel “stressed.”

Most home buyers are satisfied with their experience with their lender or mortgage broker.

The top reason for selecting a lender or broker is the interest rate offered. Despite high satisfaction levels, only less than half of home buyers received a follow-up call from their mortgage professional.  Hmmm a lesson to be learned. Always stay in touch with clients!

First Time Home Buyer Incentive Program

Mon, 20 Jan by Pauline Relkey

Have you heard about this program that just started in September 2019?

First time home buyers who have 5% down payment can apply for this program and get another 5 or 10% as a shared equity mortgage. Existing homes = 5% and newly constructed home = 5 or 10%.

This helps first time home buyers to reduce their monthly mortgage payment without increasing the amount that they must save for a down payment. No on-going repayments are required, this incentive is not interest bearing and you can repay the incentive any time without a penalty. This shared equity mortgage means that the federal government shares in both the upside and downside of the property value.

Your total income must be $120,000 per year or less. The property must be located in Canada and suitable and available for full time year round occupancy.

The homeowner repays the incentive amount after 25 years or when the property is sold, whichever is earlier. The property value determines what you get and what you pay back. Example if you are buying a $300,000 resale property and have your 5% down payment of $15,000 and you qualify for this incentive, you can get another $15,000 from the federal government to put towards your purchase. When you go to repay this amount, it will be based on the value of your property at that time, either in 25 years or earlier if you are selling the property. If the property is then worth $350,000 you will pay back 5% of the amount ($17,500). If the value is down and the property is worth $250,000 you will pay back 5% ($12,500).

There are qualifying factors to this program. Give me a call if you or someone you know could take advantage of this program.

What Home Inspectors Want Buyers and Sellers to Know

Fri, 08 Dec by Pauline Relkey

The home inspection process can be terrifying to go through, whether you are the seller or buyer.

For sellers, it’s like having your annual physical and you are being reprimanded by your doctor for not eating right and not exercising, etc.

For the buyers, it can be like finding your soulmate then discovering they are already married.

Don’t let the inspection stress you out. That’s not what your inspector wants either. All he wants is to do his job and provide you with an inspection report so that you are a happy customer.

Work with your home inspector to make the process easier and more effective. Knowledge is key! Here are 7 essential things you should keep in mind.

For sellers

1. Move your pets
We know your puppy/cat/snake is adorable and totally considered a family member, but even if your home inspector loves dogs or cats, pets on the loose while the inspection is happening makes the job much more difficult. For example, inspections require opening exterior doors, offering pets far too many opportunities to run out the door. Or the home inspector is afraid of your pet. When you leave the premises for the inspection—and many inspectors and agents ask sellers to do so – please take your pets with you.

2. Don’t forget to clean
Whether you plan on being there for the inspection or not, make sure to clean up beforehand. No, you don’t need to turn your house into an isolation ward by cleaning like a mad person — an inspector won’t ding you because your fridge has fingerprints on the door. But all that clutter? Yeah, that’s all got to go. It makes a huge difference when the inspector walks into a property where everything is put away.

For buyers

1. Any property will have issues/problems
Your home inspector will likely come up with a seemingly endless list of problems after the walk-through. Don’t panic! The inspector has been hired by you to do his job and report on what he discovers.  Put it all in perspective.  If you have never owned property, you might be overwhelmed, but speak to a home owner and they will totally understand. Every property including the realtor’s and the inspector’s, have problems and/or maintenance things. You are not alone. But there are times when you should worry, as in a major, costly fix (foundation, roof, etc). But not every issue is critical. Your inspector will explain which problems you should tackle first and even give you an idea of the approximate cost.

2. Almost anything can be fixed
There are a few scary home inspection terms that seem to be in everyone’s vocabulary: mold, basement walls and asbestos. Yes, they are scary, but no scarier than a roof that needs replacing. Don’t worry so much about mold and radon! Everything is upgradable, fixable, or replaceable. You just need to have a list of what those things are and decide how you want to address them. That’s another of the many reasons you should have a realtor on your side helping you. We will explain all your options at that point.

3. One thing you should worry about is water
Here is one issue that you might want to stress out about (just a little) – water. No, it’s not a deal breaker. Remember that part where I said almost anything can be fixed? But it’s important to address any water-related issues before the deal closes—or at least immediately afterward. Make note of issues such as water marks, mold and leaky ceilings. And give special attention to the basement. Addressing water problems in the basement can be an expensive and difficult proposition.

4. Home inspectors can’t predict the future
You might want to know how many more years the roof will hold up—and while your inspector might be able to give you a rough estimate, he can’t give you a precise timeline. Inspectors don’t have X-ray vision to see through walls or examine the motherboard in that funky new fridge that talks to you. He can’t tell you how long some things will last, but he can comment on the shape it is in, but remember that is relevant to the age of what he is talking about. Yes a furnace might be old but if it’s working fine and doesn’t need major repairs yet, then keep using it until you are ready to buy a new one.

5. Find the balance between your emotions and facts
I see this happen a lot with buying couples. One buyer is emotional at the beginning and the other is practical. Then after the purchase, they  reverse roles and the emotional one becomes practical and the practical buyer becomes emotional. It’s easy to forget your love for the home when you’re counting the dollar signs and hours you might have to spend on repairs. Just remember to take a deep breath, think rationally, and consider whether it’s a smart investment in your future. The justification can sometimes be a horrible process, because our brains are all about money and time and thinking about ‘What kind of mistake am I making?”

Barring any major renovations needed—such as a new roof or mold removal—your inspector’s visit will simply provide a to-do list. But not everything needs fixing immediately, so don’t let a long list dampen your love for the home. Just take things one at a time.

Regina Home Sales Down, Listings at an all time high

Tue, 28 Nov by Pauline Relkey

My summary – even though the above title is true, sellers aren’t budging much when it comes to price.

Listings in Regina reached a record high for October with 1,444 homes for sale.

Sales numbers in and around the city dropped to their lowest level since 2008.

Average time to sell was 61 days which is the longest average listing to sale time in the last decade. The average sale price for October dropped by 1%.

Causes are overbuilding and lack of pressure on both buyers and sellers.

Diversified economy means people still have jobs and thusly sellers don’t feel pressured to sell at lower prices. Sluggish provincial economy causes buyer uncertainty. Buyers feel that prices might soon decrease. Regina has not seen big changes in prices as in other major cities.

Mortgage rules are tighter which reduces buying power.

The complete article is here.

Home Fixes Before Selling

Thu, 13 Jul by Pauline Relkey

Prioritize the projects that will bring the most value

Fix it to sell.

Structural is just as important as cosmetic.

Give the buyers what they want — create the “wow” factor.

The process of getting a property ready to put on the market can seem daunting enough. There is clearing the clutter, cleaning, organizing and scrutinizing your property with a fine-tooth comb. What needs attention and what can you leave alone?

Welcome to the new world of “fixing to sell.” Gone are the days of throwing it on the market and seeing what happens. Prepping for sale is a highly choreographed dance of repair along with a bit of renovation and presentation.

Pay attention to these 7 areas.

1.Structural and mechanical
It might not be glamorous, but buyers are looking at big-ticket items like the age and condition of the roof, air conditioning and heating systems, electrical panel and pipes.

You don’t have to replace all, but if any of these components are on their last leg, you might seriously need to consider replacing them as these items could factor into the kind of financing the buyer is able to obtain as well as insurability of the property.

Appraisers can be notorious for requiring a roof to be replaced, for example, as a condition of a loan. Replacing a roof that is at the end of its life before putting your home on the market will go a long way to solidifying buyer confidence in deciding to make an offer. The buyer (and you) won’t have to sweat what an inspector says, deal with a potential renegotiation before closing or face a price reduction. The last thing you want to be doing is putting on a new roof in the midst of trying to pack.

If you lack the budget to replace these items, get estimates on the cost involved to replace. You can always offer to contribute to the replacement cost in the form of a credit to the buyer’s closing costs.

2. Exterior

How does the exterior of your home look? Is there any wood rot? When was the last time it was painted? Are there any stucco cracks that need attention?

First impressions start from the outside, and the exterior will show up in photos across a multitude of websites, etc. This is definitely an area worth spending the money.

3. Landscaping

Speaking of the exterior, how does your landscaping look? Are the trees and shrubs overgrown, worn and wilted? What about the ground cover? Are the planting beds in need of some fresh mulch, pine straw, rock, etc.? Are there any overgrown tree limbs hanging over the house or blocking the home’s view? For a relatively inexpensive investment, you can transform how your exterior looks by trimming back and freshening things up with new plants and landscaping.

4. Cosmetic

Buyers buy with their eyes, so now is the time to go through the interior in detail. Are there dents and dings on the walls, scratched moldings or worn paint? Now is the time to spruce up the inside with a fresh coat of paint. Pick light, neutral and on-trend colors. Choose a neutral palette that will transition well with any buyer’s furniture. The latest trend is a combination of grey and beige.

Look at your light fixtures, ceiling fans and light switches — these are relatively inexpensive things to update and replace, yet they go a long way toward creating value. The front door? This is critical! Does it need a fresh coat of paint or new hardware? Consider adding a glass panel to create light that evokes a sunny and warm space.

5. Kitchen

This area is always huge with buyers. Even if the buyers barely know how to boil water, they always envision themselves in the kitchen cooking and entertaining or perhaps auditioning to be the next Food Network TV star surrounded by sleek appliances and cabinetry.
Here’s where you need to give them the look for less. Think new hardware on cabinets, adding or changing out a dated tile backsplash and updating appliances. Also, consider changing out counters — you might be able to find a reasonably price remnant of a granite slab.

6. Bathrooms

Simple and clean rules the day. Sprucing up your bathrooms to sell can be as simple as having the grout on the existing tile steam cleaned or regrouting where needed. Caulking, new plumbing and light fixtures along with mirrors can create value.

7. Flooring

What you walk on creates value. If you can only afford to make the investment in one significant part of your home, consider updating the flooring. There are a ton of low-cost options to choose from that include wood plank tiles and highly upgraded laminate flooring — think wide plank, light colored or hand-scraped styles. New flooring can totally transform the look of your space and give it the “wow” factor that buyers desire. New flooring can transform the look of your space and give it the ‘wow’ factor that buyers desire.

In undertaking for sale preparation, strike a delicate balance between what to fix and what to leave alone, but in the end, make the right improvements that will result in a faster sale for top dollar.

Top 5 Things Buyers Should Know When Buying Real Estate

Thu, 15 Dec by Pauline Relkey

There are 9 million Canadian millennials, representing more than 25% of our population. Born between 1980 and 1999, the eldest are in the early stages of their careers, forming households and buying their first homes. Buying a home is a daunting process for anyone, but especially so for the first-time home buyer. This is the largest and most important financial decision you will ever make and it should be done with the appropriate investment in time and energy. Making the effort to be financially literate will save you thousands of dollars and assure you make the right decisions for your longer-term financial security.

1. Don’t rush into the housing market. (can you believe that I am saying that as a Realtor?)
Do your homework and learn the basics of savings, credit and budgeting.  Lifelong savings is a crucial ingredient to financial prosperity. You must spend less than you earn, ideally saving at least 10% of your gross income. Do your savings automatically, having at least 10% of every paycheck put into a savings account. Hopefully if you don’t see the money, you won’t spend it. Contributing to an RRSP, especially if you are fortunate enough to have any matching funds from your employer, is essential.

The Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) is an ideal vehicle for saving for a down payment and now you can contribute as much as $10,000 per year.

400-07048228 © frenta Model Release: No Property Release: No Puppets with piggy banks and coins. Isolated over white

You also need to establish a good credit record. Lenders want to see a record of your ability to pay your bills. As early as possible, get a credit card and put your name on phone and utility bills. Pay your bills and your rent in full and on time. Do not run up credit card lines of credit. The interest rates are exorbitant and the only one who benefits is your bank. Keep your credit card balances well below their credit limit.

Do a free credit check with Equifax and TransUnion once per year to learn your credit score and to see if there are any problems. They do make mistakes and sometimes put someone else’s problems on your report. Or you might think that the problem you had is all taken care of and you discover that the company you dealt with did not inform these credit places of the situation. I have done this more than once for myself and it can be a pain, but you are responsible for your own credit report and it’s good to know what info these companies have about you and if it needs updating.  These companies track all of your credit history, which includes student loans, car loans, credit cards and cell phone bills. Then they grade you based on your responsible usage and payments.

Budgeting is also essential and it is easier than ever with online apps. You need to know how you spend your money to discover where there is waste and opportunity for savings. The CMHC Household Budget Calculator or any other online budget calculator helps you take a realistic look at your current monthly expenses.

2. Make a realistic projectory of your future household income and lifestyle and understand its implications for choosing the right property for you.
Millennials are likely relatively new to the working world. Lenders want to see stability in employment and you generally need to show at least 2 years of steady income before you can be considered for a mortgage. This also applies if you have been working for a few years in one career and then decide to change careers to something completely different. Lenders want to see continuous employment in the same field. If you are self-employed, it is more challenging, and you need professional advice on taking the proper steps to qualify for a mortgage.

Assess the stability of your job and the likely trajectory of your income. Millennials will not follow in the footsteps of their parents, working for 1 employer for 40 to 50 years. In today’s world, no one has guaranteed job security. Take a realistic view of your future. Will your household income be rising? Will there be one income or two? Are there children in your future? Will you remain in the same city?
The answers to these questions help to determine how much space you need, the appropriate type of residence, its location and the best mortgage for you. Financial planning is key and it is dependent on your goals and expectations.

3. This is not a Do-It-Yourself project: build a team of trusted professionals to guide you along.
You need expert advice. The first person you should talk to is an accredited mortgage professional. There is no out-of-pocket cost for their services. Indeed, they will save you money. These people are trained financial planners and understand the ever-changing mortgage market. Take some time with them to understand the process before you jump in and find your head spinning with all the decisions you will ultimately have to make. They will give you a realistic idea of your borrowing potential. Before you fall in love with a house or condo, make sure you understand where you stand on the mortgage front. Mortgages are complex and one size does not fit all. You need an expert who will shop for the right mortgage for you. There are more than 200 mortgage lenders in Canada and they will compete for your business.

It is a very good idea to get a pre-approved mortgage amount before you start shopping (mandatory in my books). Just becuase you work with someone at a similar job, this doesn’t mean that you will qualify for the same amount of mortgage as your co-worker.  One of you might have more debt or more savings than the other, or issues with your credit report. Getting pre-approved is a more detailed process than just a rate hold (where a particular mortgage rate is guaranteed for a specified period of time). For a pre-approval, the lender will review all of your documentation except for the actual property. There is far more to the correct mortgage decision than the interest rate you will pay. While getting the lowest rate is usually the first thing on every buyer’s mind, it shouldn’t be the most important. Six out of ten buyers break a 5 year term mortgage by the third year, paying enormous penalties. These penalties vary between lenders. The fine print of your mortgage is key and that’s where an expert can save you money. How the penalty for breaking a mortgage is calculated is key and many lenders have significantly more consumer-friendly calculations than the major banks. A mortgage broker will help you find a mortgage with good prepayment privileges.

The next step is to engage a great real estate agent.           pauline-yellow-jacket-2-relkey-7092rev-2x3-300dpi hint hint

The seller pays the fee and a qualified realtor with good references will understand the housing market in your location. Make sure the property has lasting value. Once you find the right home, you will need a real estate lawyer, a home inspector, an insurance agent and possibly an appraiser. Make any offer conditional on a home inspection and financing, among other conditions that your realtor will help you with.

4. Down payments, closing costs, moving expenses and basic upgrades need to be understood to avoid nasty surprises.
The size of your down payment is key and, obviously, the bigger the better. You need a minimum of 5% of the purchase price and anything less than 20% will require you to pay a hefty CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium, which is frequently added to the mortgage principal and amortized over the life of the mortgage as part of the monthly payment. Your lender will want to know the source of your down payment. Many Millennials will depend on their parents to top up their down payment. The down payment, however, is only part of the upfront cost. You can expect to pay from 1.5 to 4% of the purchase price of your home in closing costs. These costs include legal fees, appraisals, property transfer tax, GST on new properties, home and title insurance, mortgage life insurance and prepaid property tax and utility adjustments. These can amount to thousands of dollars. Don’t forget moving costs and essential upgrades to the property such as draperies or blinds in the bedroom.

5. Test drive your monthly housing payments to learn how much you can truly afford.
Affordability is not about how much credit you can qualify for, but how much you can reasonably tolerate given your current and future income, stability, lifestyle and budget. Most Millennials underestimate what it costs to run a home, be it a condo or single-family residence.

The formal qualification guidelines used by lenders are two-fold:
1) your housing costs must be no more than 32% of your gross (pre-tax) household income; and,
2) your housing costs plus all other debt servicing must be no more than 40% of your gross income. Lenders define housing costs as mortgage payments, property taxes, condo fees (if any) and heating costs.
3) But homes cost more than that. In your planning, you should also other utilities (such as energy, power and water), ongoing maintenance, home insurance and unexpected repairs. Taking all of these costs into consideration, the 32% and 40% guidelines might well put an unacceptable crimp in your lifestyle, keeping in mind that future children also add meaningfully to household expenses and 2 incomes can unexpectedly turn into 1.
The best way to know what you can afford is to try it out. Say, for example, you qualify for a mortgage payment of $1400 per month and adding property taxes and condo fees might take your monthly housing expense to $1650. A far cry from the $500 you pay now to split a place with 3 roommates. Start making the full payment before you buy to your savings account and see how it feels. Do you have enough money left over to maintain a tolerable lifestyle without going further into debt?  Yes it might be a bit tight, but if you really want to be a home owner, you will make some sacrifices for that goal.  Keep in mind that this is not a normal interest rate environment. Don’t over-extend because there is a good chance interest rates will be higher when your term is up. Do the math (or better yet have your broker do it for you) on what a doubling of interest rates 5 years from now would do to your monthly payment. A doubling of rates may be unlikely, but it makes sense to know the implication.

Do Your Calculations Look Discouraging?
If so, here are some things you can do to improve your situation:
Pay off some loans before you buy real estate.
Save for a larger down payment.
Take another look at your current household budget to see where you can spend less. The money you save can go towards a larger down payment.
Lower your home price — remember that your first home is not necessarily your dream home.

Footnotes:
People break mortgages because of:
– job change,
– decision to upsize or downsize,
– decision to change neighbourhoods,
– change in family status (marriage/divorce)
– to refinance.
The last thing you want to discover is that discharging a $400,000 mortgage and only being 3 years into a 5 year term is going to cost you $15,000.

Lenders now also assess you on a 5 year term, presently at 4.64% even though you might be getting a lower interest rate on your mortgage.

Thanks to many mortgage professionals of Dominion Lending Centres who contributed to this report.

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.

construction

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.

CMHC’s Latest Housing Market Assessment Report

Fri, 28 Oct by Pauline Relkey

If you are wondering about the latest report that came out from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) see the info below that we Realtors in Regina received from our Regina Real Estate Association’s Executive Officer.

TO ALL REGINA Real Estate MEMBERS:

We believe as an Association that it is imperative members understand the latest HMA report, as this will likely cause negative news articles outlining both Regina and Canada’s housing markets. We strive to keep you informed, and to ensure that you are able to answer questions appropriately that may arise from your clients in the near future.

Once again the Regina housing market is classfied as having “problematic conditions” in CMHC’s (Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation) 4th quarter HMA (Housing Market Assessment) released this morning.

It is important to note that the HMA is an analysis of past data, and not a forecast or projection for Regina’s housing market.

The HMA has four factors that are taken into consideration when determining market conditions:

  1. Overheating
  2. Acceleration in House Prices
  3. Overvaluation
  4. Overbuilding

The main data point with “overvaluation” in Regina that is misleading, is that CMHC uses the average MLS® sales price. This is a flawed approach to determining overvaluation, because if there are a few higher priced properties sold on MLS®, it increases the average MLS® sales price drastically.

The Association has urged CMHC to change its approach to determing overvaluation by also using the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) – a much more accurate measure of housing price trends than average or median price. These efforts have not gone unnoticed, CMHC announced today that they will investigate and seriously consider using HPI in early 2017.

Another critical piece of data skewed by CMHC is overbuilding. Overbuilding is detected when the supply of readily available housing units significantly exceeds demand. One of the data points used to determine “overbuilding” is the rental vacancy rate. This is problematic, as CMHC’s publishing the 4th quarter HMA on October, 26, 2016 using Regina’s 2015 vacancy rate.

In addition to classifying Regina’s market as problematic, CMHC also issued its first “red” warning for the Canadian housing market as a whole.

CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association) has also expressed serious concerns with CMHC’s HMA since it was first published in November 2014 for two reasons:

CMHC does not and will not provide important technical details about how it reaches its conclusions; and
CMHC’s conclusions don’t differentiate between housing types (e.g. single family, condo apartment units), price ranges or neighbourhoods within a market.
Hopefully this will help help with understanding this report and responding to questions you may receive.

If you have any questions regarding the CMHC analysis report, please contact Gord Archibald at 306.791.2705.

View Regina’s Housing Market Assessment here.

View the National Housing Market Assessment here.

cmhc

Don’t all Realtors do the same thing?

Tue, 25 Oct by Pauline Relkey

Yes and no.

I was crushed when one of my very nice past clients said this to me recently. She had asked about the going commission rates and was checking around with other agents and companies before she and her spouse listed a property of theirs for sale. I know to never assume anything, but hearing this come from a past client of mine who had dealt with me a couple times and referred people to me to buy and sell, was still a shock to me.  I guess I shouldn’t assume because someone has dealt with me, that they will automatically deal with me over and over.  I really try to give my loyalty to businesses that treat me well and to also send them other business because I am grateful for great service and I hope that people will do the same for me.

Yes I think it is wise to check around and get 2 to 3 quotes for any ‘big’ job such as renovating, selling or buying a property, landscaping, etc, so that you feel good about your decision. But I firmly believe you tend to get what you pay for.

And yet this conversation made me think about the subject – don’t we do the same thing?

Yes – when you list a property for sale, the object is to get the property sold so agents really do the same thing. BUT how we do it is another thing.

Does your agent SHOW you, in writing, listings and sales in your area so that you feel comfortable knowing what is going on in your particular neighbourhood and how your property will compare with others? Does your agent take the time to give you advice on how to best get your home ready for sale or accept it in ‘as is’ condition and not say anything? You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to when it comes to repairs or staging or cleaning, but most sellers tend to want to get as much on the price as they can, and doing some of these things will tend to help you get that better price.

Does your agent have a list of tried and true contacts to share with you, whether it is a painter, a real estate lawyer, mortgage broker or a landscaper? Over 25 years I have collected and maintained such a list that comes in handy for me and my clients. These are people and businesses that have helped either me or my clients with a job and because they did a great job, they now come highly recommended and the list is continually updated because things change.

Does your agent tell you what he/she is going to do to sell your property BEFOREHAND and actually do what they promised? It’s easy to make promises, but it’s another story when it comes to carrying them out.  Where will your property be advertised? How many pictures will there be online for buyers to look at? Where do most of sales come from and is that where your property will be advertised?

Does your agent take the listing for your property, then not contact you for days, weeks and even months? Or are you kept in the loop by phone calls, texts and/or emails keeping you informed (telling you what the showing feedback is, how many inquiries have come in about your property and from where, suggestions on what to do with the property to make it appeal to buyers, what not to do when your property is listed such as staying in the property during a showing, sharing details about why you are selling, where you are moving, etc – anything that could hurt your chances for a sale).

Does your agent share their past records of their sales to show you what they have done? Or do they just tell you they are successful?

Is your agent willing to share references with you so that you can call them to ask about their experience with this agent?

Does your agent stay up to date with training and education or get their license and only do the bare minimum to stay licensed?

Does your agent discuss things like alarm systems, home insurance, rentals in the property (furnace, water heater, water softener, etc) and how to best handle these things or are you left alone to figure this out?

Does your agent show you statistics on how she/he compares to the average agent? or do you even care?

Does your agent explain the commission (rate, how it is divided, how you compare to other listings, etc)?

Does your agent take the time to listen to you, ask questions as to what you have enjoyed about this property, know where to find buyers for your property?

Does your agent get as much info ahead of time so that you aren’t rushed later (surveyors certificate/real property report, tax bill, utility bills, pictures of the property, real estate lawyer, mortgage info, etc)?

Does your agent show you stats on what works to sell a property and what is fluff?

Is your agent honest in pricing your house or an order taker who just agrees with you to take the listing?

Is your agent up to date on the latest CMHC changes, interest rates, home buyer plans?

Let me tell you about my ‘getting what you pay for’ story that happened years ago.

I questioned why I was paying so much for a haircut or color at my regular hairdresser’s shop.  I liked her.  She seemed to know what she was doing.  She always had suggestions on what was in style, what cut would look good on me, hints on how to style it myself, etc.

But I wanted to be the wise shopper and decided to get a haircut at one of those less expensive places.  So I walked into the place of business.  The business is nowhere to be found today, so that is hint number 1.  I asked for a haircut and was politely greeted and told to sit in the chair and the lady started cutting my hair.  I was surprised that she didn’t have me sit at the sink to get my hair washed first.  I questioned her about this and she said “for another $2 or $3 she could wash it.”

“Yes please” I said.  So she washed my hair.  Then she told me to go sit in her chair again.  I asked her if she was going to use any conditioner. She said that if I wanted some, that would be a few dollars more.  “Yes please” I said.

Now we were at the cutting hair part.  She cut my hair, then said “we’re done.”  I was sitting there with a haircut but still with wet hair.  “Aren’t you going to blow dry my hair?” I questioned.

“Sure” she said “for more cost.”

“Yes please” was becoming my saying at this point.

Then she said “you’re done” after she blow dried my hair.

“Aren’t you going to style it?” I questioned.

“If you want it styled, that will be more cost”, she said.

Here we go  with “yes please” again.

So after all that, I learnt that yes you can usually get things gone cheaper, but do your homework and find out exactly what is included and what isn’t included.  Sometimes that big savings turns out to not be a savings after all.

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