How to Decide Which Real Estate Agent to Hire

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When selling your home, deciding which Real Estate Agent to hire can be the most dreaded part of the process. The problem is that everyone sounds the same; they make the same claims, the same promises. They may each have their own bragging point, some secret weapon that ensures they are the best, be it years of experience, a huge database of buyers, territorial fame, having sold the most homes, or have the largest team. They are the same arguments that have been used since the genesis of our industry.

So how does all of this translate into the best sale for you? Or does it even have anything to do with it? I’m going to argue that no, it has nothing to do with a top dollar sale. Technology is moving this world faster and faster, and I find my industry is the last to keep up. In this age of the Internet and technology, a lot of what used to matter is about as relevant as the dinosaurs. If you want to achieve the best possible sales price,  here are the 2 critical skills a realtor must have to make that top dollar sale a reality:

 

1.  Internet Based Marketing Skills – Creating Maximum Buyer Exposure

Every agent has the potential to be able to do this, it has nothing to do with how many houses they sell or how famous they are. Buyers don’t give a crap who the listing agent is. It really means absolutely nothing to them. All buyers care about is hunting the Internet to find a house that A) meets their needs and B) they can fall in love with. Your agent must make sure your home is found by all possible buyers AND that they actually like what they see.

Although I will credit every agent for their potential ability to expose your home properly, very few actually do it. This skill definitely requires a few years of experience for sure, but also the unrelenting commitment to continuous learning. I see many agents of all experience levels having trouble integrating technology and becoming experts in Internet Based Marketing.

To find the most qualified buyers, it takes much more than just listing your home on Realtor.ca. The Village Guru Team uses our proven marketing system that focuses on High-Service Home Staging & Internet Based Marketing that maximizes every opportunity to attract buyers to your home. And as new technology opportunities evolve, we learn them and incorporate the best of it into our systems.

  • This includes Professional  Hands-On Staging Services, which are not even comparable to the basic consult that is standard across the industry. This ensures that all the buyers who would like the home are not turned off by cluttered rooms, poor layouts or dull decor. They see the home presented at its absolute best.  Read more Here.
  • This includes Professional Listing Photography that actually shows buyers the size of the rooms, the layout, and how the rooms flow into each other. There should be no questions in the buyer’s mind about the home’s size or layout. Read more Here. 

 

  • This includes Professional Videos (not picture slideshows) that we use to market your home to target buyers on Facebook, Linked in and other identified markets. We take the time to determine what groups of people are most likely to buy your home and we target them aggressively through paid advertisements. Click Here to See a Video Example
  • This Includes Open Advertising of Your Listing by Hundreds of Companies. I can’t tell you how many agents protect their listing and don’t allow others to advertise it or share in on data-feed websites. The mere thought of another agent getting a client off your listing instead of themselves is sheer selfish mentality. In the world of advertising, more is more. Don’t hide a listing in the hopes of grabbing that 10% of unrepresented buyers, share the listing so that more agents bring more buyers and drive up your sale price.
  • This includes Professional Open Houses that are safely managed by 2 agents, controlling flow and capturing visitor contact info to maximize every opportunity. What’s the point of letting nosy noodles in your home unless they are willing to prove they are legitimate buyers and are willing to be contacted for follow up.

It really is important that the Realtor you choose is an expert in Internet Based Marketing, which includes Home Staging, to ensure you have a great product to market.  Why? Because the Internet is where buyers begin their purchase decision. Lawn signs, word of mouth, “secret” buyer lists, flyers, billboards, and newsletters are all great tools to promote the real estate agent, but are very ineffective at promoting your home. You’ll always hear the story of that time someone’s sister’s co-worker happened across a lawn sign, called the agent and bought the house. It’s about as likely as winning a lottery. Here’s the real facts you need to focus on.

89% of buyers have their own representation, don’t be fooled by claims of special buyer databases and that the agent already has a buyer for your home. Focus on the 89% of buyers who have hired an agent to help them find their next home. This same group of people use the Internet. It’s the other 10% who look at newspapers and drive around all weekend looking for open houses. This 10% are working on their own trying to save money. They are not the ones who pay top dollar. This is also why I would argue that the last number has dropped far below 28% in the last 5 years, to closer to 10% as well. Be sure to ask extensive questions about Home Staging & Internet Based Marketing because this is what will get THE MOST qualified buyers interested in your home.

2. Client Protector and Negotiation Skills

The integrity and professionalism of the Realtor you hire is critical to your success. Sadly, there’s always a large group of agents who, generation after generation, continue to sully the reputation of us all. We are as liked as politicians and used car salesmen. I will agree that finding an agent with integrity is like finding a needle in a haystack, but we are out there. And integrity directly affects how well your agent will negotiate on your behalf and represent your interests. Negotiation and client protection skills can mean the difference of thousands of dollars in your pocket. The best way to find out who will put your interests first, is to do extensive research about the Realtors you are considering. Testimonials, agent websites and blog articles, and community involvement are good indicators of the type of Realtor you are dealing with.

Beware of agents who sell you the idea of “double-ending” a property as a great way to net you more money, by saving on the commissions you pay. In this hot sellers market, there is no benefit for you to have your agent represent both sides of the deal. It most often results in a lower offer price to you, but a higher commission to the agent, even with a commission cut. No one person can represent both sides of a deal with complete impartiality; can a lawyer represent both the plaintiff and defendant? Somebody will lose, and it will likely be you.

I have had several scenarios in the past year of this hot sellers market where buyers have offered GOOD money for homes, but when we refused to do a double-end deal, the owner ended up selling for tens of thousands more in a multiple offer presentation of 3+ buyers. More buyers always brings more money. I could have easily made more money for myself and lost 20-50K for my sellers through double ending. It’s the one thing I would like my industry to outright ban, but in the meantime, it’s seller beware.

Do your research to ensure you have a real estate agent who is:

  • Transparent
  • Honest
  • Uses Systems and Procedures to Operate their Business
  • Has Integrity
  • Can Provide Positive Referrals about their Personal Character

Take a tour around my website to learn about who I am, what I value, the principles of The Village Guru brand, and how my systems produce better results for my clients.

People will tell you a lot of different things about what is important, but put yourself in the shoes of a buyer and think like them. What is important to them? It’s whether they can find and fall in love with a home that meets their needs. You need a Realtor who can market aggressively online to find and attract these buyers, and protect your interests from beginning to end. The rest, is just distracting noise that does nothing to help your sale.


Sign Up to Join our No-Obligation Home Sellers Program:

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Check out Our Home Staging & Marketing Strategies Here:

Home Staging Services

Listing Marketing Services


Are you interested in working with us to sell your home for Top Dollar? We are always looking to work with eager, positive-minded clients

Contact The Village Guru Today

Tell us about your home to sell and how you want us to provide an experience that exceeds all of your expectations. If you’re looking for real service, we’re looking for you.


SOLD: Modern Townhouse in Churchill Meadows

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Modern Townhouse in Churchill Meadows Mississauga

5595 Oscar Peterson Blvd #8, Churchill Meadows, Mississauga.

MLS Listing Details

Highlights:

  • End Unit, Upper Level Town home
  • 2 Bed, 3 Bathrooms
  • Modern Open Concept Floor Plan
  • Exceptionally decorated
  • 2 balconies

Welcome To High Style & Modern Living. This End Unit Home Is Bright & Airy With High Ceilings And Large Windows On 3 Sides. It Feels Like A Semi-Detached With Plenty Of Oversize Closets Throughout The Home And Large Spacious Rooms. The Master Suite Includes Oversize Closet, En-Suite And Balcony. This Turn-Key Home Has Been Updated With Modern Flooring & Staircase, New Light Fixtures, And Has Been Freshly Painted.

Search for Homes in Mississauga


 

SOLD: Updated Semi in Clarkson Village

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Updated Semi in Clarkson Village Mississauga

2400 Brookhurst Rd, Clarkson, Mississauga. $599,000

MLS Listing Details

Highlights:

  • Bright and updated 3 bed semi in Clarkson, Mississauga.
  • Walking distance to GO Train & Clarkson Village
  • Hardwood floors throughout
  • Updated Kitchen and bathrooms
  • Finished basement
  • Large backyard
  • Home is very well maintained. Click here for a list of recent upgrades

Quick Commute To Toronto On The Go, This Clarkson Home Is Ideal For A Family Looking For More Space Without Compromising Lifestyle. This Home Boasts Plenty Of Upgrades Including A Renovated Kitchen W/ Wood Cabinets, Quartz Counters & Stone Tile. Both Baths Feature Modern Vanities & Stylish Tile And Fixtures. The Living Areas & Bedrooms Have Solid Hardwood Floor & Entry Doors Are New. Large Backyard Features A Deck For Entertaining. Move In & Enjoy!

Clarkson Village & Nearby Port Credit Offer A Village Lifestyle Full Of Restaurants & Shops. Close To Clarkson Go & Qew. Inc: Fridge, Stove, D/W, Front Load W&D, B/Yard Shed, Generator Panel W/Exterior Hookup. Excl: Window Drapes & Rods

Search for Homes in Mississauga

 

Why I Video Blog

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I was recently asked the question. “Why do you make real estate videos in your car?”

My answer is: I don’t do video blogging just to increase my business, but to create a record of my thoughts and my experiences as they happen. Hopefully in 100 years from now my great grand kids can look back and see what I was like in 2017. Never before have we had the opportunity to create a legacy and leave evidence of everything we choose to share.

The World is Becoming a Better Place

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The other day I had a moment of appreciation on how much opportunity exists for people who are motivated in today’s world. For example, the fact that I am able to create, edit and share this video with the world is amazing. Just a generation ago, it would have been next to impossible to do this.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the negativity that exist out there, but as a whole, we have never had more opportunity to make a difference as we do today.

How Company Culture Dictates Success

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A Birthday Breakfast Turned Into a Business Lesson

It was my birthday several weeks ago, and my wife wanted to treat me to a relaxing morning. She let me sleep in, got the kids ready for school and after dropping them off we went to have my favourite breakfast at a local greasy spoon. As always, I ordered 3 scrambled eggs with bacon and home fries. When it comes to breakfast, I like it simple and consistent. You don’t have to be fancy with bacon and eggs; you just have to make it well.

When our meals came, I looked down and noticed my bacon looked like 3 pieces of charred leather. I picked up a piece and it instantly crumbled in my hand. As a rule, I tend not to send back food if I’m not bothered by the error, but with this meal, half the order was wrong and let’s face it, eggs just don’t taste the same without the bacon!

I managed to flag the waitress down and asked her to bring me some new pieces of bacon. She hesitated but put on the smile, said “of course” and took my plate away. Since she took all of my food away, I assumed that this would be replaced immediately, since my wife had her food and wasn’t going to let it sit and go cold.

20 minutes later, my wife was finishing up her breakfast and we were both very annoyed at this point. My new breakfast finally arrived, and the waitress apologized for the delay and said that there was another customer who complained about the bacon as well. They had a large group come in and she thinks the cooks pre-made a lot of bacon in advance to be prepared.

Of course, this apology did nothing to make me feel better or repair my experience, and this whole issue could have been avoided if any of the staff had been more proactive about the situation. Before having our children, my wife was a Human Resources Associate, and she had much to say about culture and how this was a perfect example of culture gone wrong. We had a long discussion about how it applies to all businesses and to my industry, in particular.

In the current situation, the staff clearly felt they were just there to do their job with a minimum amount of effort. Now, mistakes happen, but when you see a series of errors made by more than one person, there’s more to it. These errors are a reflection on the managers of the restaurant and the culture they’ve created. Below is a play-by-play of the miss-steps involved in my birthday breakfast, which demonstrated that the staff did not belong to a service-driven culture.

  1. The cook knowingly served crusty old bacon. Whether he had learned in the past that wasting food would bring negative consequences to himself, or whether he was careless about the quality of food he was serving is a mystery. Either way, he chose to put out bad food.
  2. The waitress did not quality-check the plates before bringing them to the guests. She admitted she knew of the quality issues with another guest. This suggests that she didn’t feel it was her responsibility or didn’t have any desire to repair the problem on her own before it had a chance of happening again.
  3. Our food was delivered and the server walked away. She didn’t stay to give us the chance to inspect our meals to ensure they were satisfactory to us. It’s one thing to bring bad food and ask (hope) if the client likes it. Leaving before we could say anything suggests the server wanted us to just accept the food, eat it, and not give her any hassle.
  4. When I complained, the server took all of my food but left my wife’s. In my opinion, you take it all or you leave what’s good and quickly replace the bad bacon. It’s Hospitality 101 that all guests should have their food at the same time. We came for the experience of eating together, not to take turns watching each other eat.
  5. A meal sent back should become top priority on the kitchen line. It’s a red flag that someone is not happy and it’s the kitchen’s fault. Instead of my new food coming out within minutes, my complaint got put to the back of the line and I waited longer for my second plate than I did for my first. If that’s not a passive-aggressive statement of “don’t bother me with your complaints”, I don’t know what is.

 

The Forgotten Role of Culture in Business

Culture is the life-blood and identity of a business. Everything from branding, training, staffing, service, products and marketing must stem from culture. It must be led, fed and exemplified by management, and tended to at all times to ensure every single staff member believes they are a part of this vision. The staff must believe that maintaining these attitudes and behaviours is critical to the company’s success. Staff must feel empowered to take ownership of their jobs, make them better, and know they will be recognized for their efforts. If management fails to live by example and breathe these values into their staff, neglect and indifference begin to spread like a disease.

For those organizations who don’t set out with their desired culture, a negative culture will set in by default.

 

The Culture in a Sales Office

In most sales offices, the goal is naturally to make more sales. This is logical; all companies want to generate more revenue. Greasy spoons want to sell more bacon and eggs and real estate companies want to sell more homes. But when the goal of “more sales” is so obsessed over that it becomes the company’s default culture, a whole host of service problems are created. Whatever management says is important in the terms of recognition or reward is what staff will focus on. It’s pretty simple. You can talk a good talk about quality, service, teamwork and initiative all you want, but if these things never get recognized in any established way, then it’s nothing but empty words with no actions. Those who care about client relationships will slowly leave, and slowly the company will attract more sales sharks.

Culture is always at work, impacting the company, it’s whether management is steering this activity or if it’s happening by default.

The rub is that most customers want really good service. Companies like Starbucks & Whole Foods prove that people are willing to pay a fair price for good service. It’s when the service becomes notoriously poor that customers demand rock bottom prices. So when your default culture is to “make more sales” instead of “knock the socks off your client’s expectations”, you enter into a race to the bottom where no on wins, especially the customer.

 

Real Estate Culture

Whether we are talking about an entire brokerage or a smaller team with 1 leader, most fall victim to the “more sales” goal, which has defaulted into their culture. Quantity and volume are critical, because this is what is being recognized as a success. Quality is spoken of, of course. Yes, we strive to provide THE BEST service to our clients. But this talk of “best service” isn’t written into any of their standard practices, their Key Performance Indicators, their systems, or processes. Their staff receive no rewards or recognition for the relationships they build that are deeper than a Facebook like or a cold call.

Culture is an incredibly difficult thing to get right, and an incredibly easy thing to get wrong.

I truly believe that a company’s culture must be founded on the customer experience and empowering staff to take ownership over this process. This requires ensuring there is no negative impact for trying to do the right thing, and no positive reward for cutting corners. Whether you run a greasy spoon or a real estate team, if you focus on creating a culture of empowerment and service, the happy customers and greater sales will naturally come.

Creating the Perfect Atmosphere is the Key to Home Selling

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Have you ever been to a fancy restaurant, had a fancy meal and thought to yourself, ‘This is the best meal I ever had!‘ Have you ever ordered a bottle of wine and thought ‘this wine tastes so good, it goes perfectly with this meal….’
If you did you aren’t alone. In fact, you went to a restaurant that knows what they are doing by creating the perfect atmosphere.
Modern decor, highly trained staff, ambient lighting… Just a few of the factors designed to enhance the atmosphere. Happy customers spend more – it’s a fact.
Do you remember the las time you visited a luxury jewellery store, complete with is impeccably decorated with plush velvet seating and millions lights shining down on all those sparkling diamonds and rolex watches- they all look flawless. I don’t know about you, but how come my watch never looks as bright or as shiny as the day I tried it on in the store?
That’s because the experience was designed that way…
In sales, the key to success is creating an atmosphere where a buyer expects better. When someone expects better, their mind has a way of focusing on all the aspects (meal, watch, house…) that are pleasing to them, and over looking things that might not be. It’s the way our mind is hardwired,
Subconsciously we see only what we expect to see. 
The setting in which you are doing something and your current mindset affects how you experience it. Think about this in terms of real estate. If you are selling a home wouldn’t it be wise to create an atmosphere that will encourage a positive mindset in a home buyer? You bet! In fact, what if I told you there is a way to create this atmosphere and bank thousands more on the sale of your home?
Over the years our team has developed a procedure where we focus on creating the best atmosphere possible for home buyers. Instead of relying on hard selling, we believe that investing the time and effort upfront will always get our sellers more money for the sale of their home and a better experience. Just like when you sit down for an expensive meal, you expect the best. By giving your buyers exactly that you’ll always comet a winner!
Thoughts, comments, I’d love to hear them.

Are you interested in working with us to sell your home for Top Dollar? We are always looking to work with eager, positive-minded clients

Contact The Village Guru Today

Tell us about your home to sell and how you want us to provide an experience that exceeds all of your expectations. If you’re looking for real service, we’re looking for you.


 

Lacking Integrity

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The other day while showing a condo to one of my home buyers, I came across a number of cut lock boxes while getting the key for the unit I was to show my client.

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Curious as to why these boxes were cut and lying on the floor, I reached down and picked up a box with a notice wrapped around the lock box. It was a notice from building management requesting that this particular lock box had to be removed by May 24th or it would be cut. The day I was showing the unit was November 1st

The lock box had been lying there for 5 months…

may-24

What’s even worse is that when I shook the lock box, to my shock there was a key inside! I shook my head… here we have a lock box, with a key to an apartment, abandoned and lying on the floor. What’s worse is that because it’s a mechanical lock box (where the code remains the same) there’s a chance that someone who showed the property 5 months ago could still have the code…

Now to be fair, most real estate agents will not remember a code from a home they showed 5 months ago, but the fact remains is that the key was unsecured, lying abandoned on the floor.

I’m not going to begin to guess the story behind this lock box and this particular situation, maybe the unit didn’t sell, maybe the realtor was fired… My guess is that the unit sold and the realtor didn’t bother to give the key to the new owner. But regardless, a real estate agent put the lock box there, they were hired to do a job and didn’t do it. Once the job was done they couldn’t be bothered to take the 10 minutes to remove the lock box and return the key to its rightful owner.

A Complete lack professionalism, No integrity…

Sadly, incidents like this are more common than you think. There are many people who get into this industry for all the wrong reasons; they are focused on chasing dollars instead of doing the right job. Their goal is to get the contract signed at all costs, to make a quick buck. Everything is good as long as everything works out, but the problem is when it doesn’t.

Once the deal is done they move on to chase the next one. In this case they didn’t even finish the job of returning the keys to the proper owner.

I believe the number one priority of a real estate agent is to protect the interest of their clients and to always act with Integrity. That means doing the right thing, especially when no one is watching. It means treating everyone with respect even if they are your client or not.

I found a quote the other day that sums up integrity perfectly.

Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. Oprah Winfrey

On my way out I let security know there was a cut lock box from 5 months ago, lying on the floor with the key still inside. I just hope whoever owns the unit changed the locks!

 

The Positive Impact of Rising House Prices

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There’s a battle brewing in BC politics over the Rising House Prices in Vancouver.

It caught my attention because to a lesser extent, it’s also playing out here in the Greater Toronto Area.

On one side there’s the socialist left, making a political issue out of an economic one in an obvious attempt to win votes, by making unrealistic promises to make homes more ‘affordable’. It’s the tried and true formula of saying whatever it takes to win votes, with no real plan to follow through. Very similar to the unethical real estate agent.

On the other side there’s a more pragmatic approach, the idea of letting demand determine home prices. I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but that is really the only option that exists. We live in a free market society where we have something called ‘property rights‘. It’s part of what makes Canada such a desirable destination for immigrants and foreign investors.

While foreign investment in Vancouver and Toronto does play a part in rising home prices, it should be noted that there are some positive impacts from this, including the growth of more affordable outlying areas.

As the core of a city gets too expensive, economics dictate people will move to more affordable markets. As more population relocates, businesses will move to where the labour is, and also where real estate is more affordable. This has been happening for the past 15 years in the GTA, with cities such as Hamilton, Waterloo Region, Barrie all seeing explosive growth as a result of people moving outwards in the search of more affordable homes. In turn these communities are growing and thriving, making them popular destinations.

My personal view on the matter is this, since I can’t control the price of homes, there’s no use whining and complaining.

Do I wish homes were cheaper? Sure. But here’s the problem with that. If homes in Vancouver or Toronto suddenly dropped in price without any other extenuating factors such as raising interest rates or an economic collapse (which is what the complainers out there want) then you would have millions of people rushing to buy these ‘affordable’ homes and through competition would push the prices back up.

So when people complain about rising house prices, what they really want are prices more affordable for them and no one else, which is impossible.

And let’s pretend for a second house prices do fall due to raising interest rates or some other factor. I will argue that the people wining and complaining won’t act anyway, because the cost of borrowing will go up making the month to month costs exactly the same or worse. It’s a no win situation.

Aside from creating a socialist economy where the government determines who can and can’t buy a home, you can’t ignore reality. Real Estate will always be dictated by supply and demand. Instead of complaining about it, my advice is to find an affordable area that has future growth potential and invest there. You’ll be doing your part to grow our great country and grow your equity!

Luck Has Nothing to Do With Selling Your Home

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One of my favourite misconceptions out there is the false belief that you have to be lucky when selling your home.

Now when I say lucky, I’m not referring to the actual act of selling your home, any monkey can do that. I mean selling and getting a fantastic outcome in the process, whether that be for more money than expected, quickly, with the least amount of stress, or a combination of all three.

To make my point, I like to compare selling your house to hunting. Now as a disclaimer, I myself am not a hunter but I do have clients and friends that hunt, so If you do hunt hopefully my story makes sense.

To an outsider, uneducated in hunting, it may seem like random luck whether or not a hunter manages to shoot a buck or come home empty handed. We’ve all heard stories of hunters spending a week in the bush with nothing to show for it, so it’s natural to assume that it all has to do with luck.

While there are some elements such as where the deer are, or how the weather is, that are out of a skilled hunters control, many aspects of the hunting trip are within the hunters control. Aspects such as planning and preparation. Finding the right location, setting up a proper camp, and many other factors that an experienced hunter will use to increase their odds of a successful hunt. The more time a hunter spends on the setting up the circumstances to attract the deer, the better chance of success.

I like to compare this to selling your home, where we don’t necessarily know where your buyer will come from, however we can make preparations based off of knowledge and experience that will increase your chances of a successful sale.

What appears as ‘luck’ is merely doing the right things that set yourself up to get ‘lucky’. 

When it comes to being ‘lucky when selling your home, ‘luck has very little to do with it!

Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your comments.

Bait and Switch High Pressure Sales

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The other week I fell for a good old ‘bait and switch’ sales tactic from a high pressure door to door sales person.

It all happened quickly.  My door bell rang and when I opened it my first thought was to tell the guy to go on his way, but the quick talking sales guy said that he would get me an amazing deal on TV, home phone and Internet. All I had to do was sign up today, there was no time to think about it. At first I was hesitant, but this guy was persistent. We spoke for over 20 minutes and against my better judgement (I don’t normally deal with door to door sales people) I agreed to switch my TV provider.

The following Monday a tech person came over to my place to wire my home for the new system. It took over 4 hours and when he was done I excitedly turned on the TV and started to surf… but almost every channel was unavailable and the screen said I had to upgrade my package.

Frustrated, I quickly called my new cable provider and told them of my dilemma, assuming it was all a big misunderstanding. I mean, the upstanding gentleman who knocked on my door said the ‘deal’ I was getting included the “Best” TV service, and that I would have all the channels I currently had plus more.

To my surprise, the person on the phone was not at all sympathetic, and stated that I was receiving the package I paid for. I responded that I was promised the “Best TV service”, and that they had a TV package called the ‘Best’ and that’s what was on the flyer for the promotion I was given. Her response was that I must have misunderstood, the flyer was merely stating they had the “Best TV” and that it wasn’t the same as the “Best” TV package.

Just to make sure I checked the flyer again…

Here is the flyer I received

Here is the flyer I received promising the ‘Best’ TV Service.

Then I checked their website…

I thought I was getting the "Best" TV Package

I thought I was getting the “Best” TV Package

 

I don’t know about you, but I thought my complaint was reasonable… But apparently (this coming from a company that has billions of dollars in sales every quarter) it should be obvious to me that I wasn’t getting the ‘Best’ TV package… but that they could understand how someone like me could be confused…

To make a long story short, I asked how much was the ‘Best’ TV package and it was another $50 a month, which meant this deal was really no deal at all. Thanks to a 10 Day Cooing Off Period under the Consumer Protection Act, I ended up cancelling the service and chalked up the 8 hours of my life lost was my lesson to learn. What the company called a mistake on my part as more like bait and switch.

Bait and Switch

My definition of bait and switch is when the person who is buying something thinks they are getting a promised service, when in reality they are getting something different. In my case it was cable service, but in many cases it could be much more serious. In real estate, it could be a level of service provided, or a certain promise made. In any case, it’s important to know that there is no cooling off period when it comes to residential real estate, so once you are signed you are committed, regardless of what was said.

So what’s the lesson from all of this? Always make sure to read the fine print and take the time to understand what you are agreeing too, it’ll save you a lot of heart ache in the future.

Leveraging Your Specialty Online

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This past fall, I was asked to speak for the Ontario Real Estate Association on their OREA Emerge Conference, a six city technology tour where I spoke to realtors about Leveraging Your Specialty Online. While this presentation is geared towards real estate agents, I think the message will help any local business improve their online presence in their community.

Orea Emerge

 

Questions or comments, I’d love to hear them!

 

New Downpayment Rules Signal the Start of Hunting Season for the Housing Market

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I can’t say I was surprised by today’s announcement that the government is raising the minimum downpayment rules for homes in excess of $500,000, form a minimum 5% down to 10%. It was just a matter of time before the new government was going to try their hand at tinkering with the Toronto and Vancouver Real Estate markets. Now despite all the hoopla and what I can only predict is two months of upcoming “the sky is falling” negative press that we are bound to endure, it will actually change next to nothing. That’s because the rules are still 5% down for the first $500,000 followed by 10% down needed for the remaining balance. 

So for example, say you are looking to buy a house for $650,000 (which by the way is more than average for a first time home buyer) I will break out the number below:

Current Rules at 5% down- Buyers will have to come up with a downpayment of $32,500

New Rules as of Feb 15, 2016 at 5% on the first 500K followed by 10% for the balance- Buyers will have to come up with $40,000

That’s only an additional $7,500 dollar difference…

Now I get it that $7500 is a lot of money, but the reality is that most people buying $650,000 homes are NOT first time home buyers and are usually putting more money down. As for those who are first time home buyers? Most that can afford that price of a home on their first go usually have the additional funds available. So to summarize, it won’t make that much of a difference.

Let the Hunting Season Begin

Every time there is an announcement regarding home financing, the media and financial world goes into a predicting frenzy. Aside from terrorism, there’s nothing that get’s people attention better than scaring them with the possibility their biggest investment will go down the drain. Remember we had zero down, 40 year mortgages? Did going to 25 year mortgages with a minimum downpayment slow down the housing market? Nope.

Aside from the media, real estate and lending companies will be all over this too. Buy now before…. it’s your last chance…. List your house now before….

I said it, Hunting Season is officially declared on home buyers and sellers. Instead of focusing on hype, I’m going to enjoy my holiday break and and let the storm blow over. I will continue to advise my clients to make decisions based on numbers and logic. No high pressure sales tactics from me.

Questions of comments? I’d love to hear them!

 

A Good Tip for Real Estate Negotiation

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Real Estate Negotiation is always a tricky subject…

Actually, I really don’t think it is but the reason I say that is because EVERYONE claims to be great at real estate negotiation. Just like home staging and marketing a home, all real estate agents say the same thing, however if it were true then every buyer and seller would get the same result…. and that’s far from the case!

If you don’t know me, then I’m not going to sit here and expect you to believe that I’m a great negotiator (although I am) but instead I’ll break down what negotiation is, and hopefully it will give you an idea of my thoughts on the subject.

To me, Real Estate Negotiating is all about LEVERAGE.

Leverage is about knowing when you have the upper hand and how to (ethically) exploit it, and knowing when you don’t. For example in a hot sellers market where homes are selling in a few days and the home is listed for $50,000 below market value, as a buyer you really don’t have much of a leg to stand on. The same goes for a seller who’s house has been sitting on the market for months- there’s no use holding firm to your price when you finally get an offer if you have to sell because the market has told you that your asking price is too high.

Now I know that’s a simple explanation, but that is really a big part of it. Doing your research ahead of time and hiring a knowledgable realtor will go a long way to helping you take best advantage of the situation you’re in. So now for my tip on negotiating:

Regardless of your situation, it always helps if you try to understand the other side’s point of view. Not that you have to agree with them but it will give you abetter idea of their thought process, and in turn allow you to come up with the best strategy to get the result you want.

Comments or questions? I’d love to hear them!

 

Family Trip to Ikea

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What do you do for fun on a Tuesday night?

For me it’s sitting on a bench at IKEA watching my youngest rampage through the kids section. Now I’ll admit, I was never a fan of the world’s largest furniture store before becoming a parent but it is such an entertaining place to go with the kids for a few hours. Cheap food, a play zone and a massive area to run around in. I think they designed it that way, because every time we go my wife always leaves with a bunch of new home decor accessories.

Whoever thought you could have so much fun with a $7 hamper bin?

Whoever thought you could have so much fun with a $7 hamper bin?

While sitting there another man with 2 young children came along and his kids joined in the fun.

’10 years ago did you ever think you would be hanging around the kids section at IKEA’ I commented.

We both had a quick laugh and then there was a long silence and then it dawned on me. While day to day it seems like nothing changes when you look back you realize life is all about change. What you were doing or who you were five years ago may be totally different. I think that’s why I always say it always helps to think this way when planning a big purchase like a home.

He's right at home playing on the floor at Ikea.

He’s right at home playing on the floor at Ikea.

Amazing how much life changes!

 

How Do I Find The Right Area to Live In?

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Finding the right area to live in can sometimes be a challenge for home buyers. Balancing factors such as budget, proximity to work and family opinions- just to name a few can make the situation very complicated. Even saying you should look for a house based on your lifestyle can be a bit ambiguous- and this is coming from me, a real estate agent who preaches lifestyle real estate. In order to truly understand what it means to find a home based on lifestyle, you need to look at the most important factors that affect your lifestyle.

For 95% of Home Buyers, There are 5 Factors that Will Dictate How You Find the Right Area to Live In

 

1. Budget

This one is the most obvious, but worth making a point on. You can only afford what you can afford, and that has no bearing on the price of a neighbourhood. Where home buyers can sometimes make a bad decision is by compromising on every other factor in the home buying decision in order to stretch their budget to get into a certain neighbourhood. For example, many people who contact me want to live in Lorne Park, a prestigious neighbourhood in Mississauga where the average price is well north if a million dollars. Can they find a house for less? Sure, but what’s better, living 5 feet from a rail road track or perhaps finding another neighbourhood that offers a similar lifestyle at a better price point?

2. Proximity to Work and Transit

What good is the perfect home if you have to commute 2 hours to get to work? Taking a lifestyle approach to your next home means finding the right home that will add to your life and not suck it out of you. It also means that people are putting more importance on living close to the Go Train and other rapid transit services. As time goes on and the price of gas keeps going up, this will be a major contributor to why certain neighbourhoods become more desirable than others.

3. Demographics

If you’ve lived in the GTA for the past 35 years like I have, then you know how area demographics have changed enormously. We have neighbourhoods that are losing population, due to ageing empty-nesters. Then there are areas exploding in population with many basement income-suites. Many areas are only growing due to immigration. With the influx of immigration to Mississauga and the GTA, there are areas that, in a matter of 10 years, have become vastly different. Understanding the neighbourhood demographics and future trends is key to finding a long term home that suits the way you want to live.

4. Amenities

When it comes to amenities, what people want in their neighbourhood will vary from person to person. To some people that means having close access to malls and shopping while for others it may be to live in a village that is complete with shops, restaurants and cafe’s. Knowing what you want out of your next neighbourhood ahead of time will help determine what areas may be a good fit for you.

5. Schools

More and more, school performance is playing a big role in the purchasing decision. I can tell you from my personal experience as a realtor that there are many home buyers basing their entire home buying decision on how well a school performs. Does this line of thinking provide the best outcome for the whole family? I guess that depends on you, but the bottom line is that a neighbourhood’s future value and desirability are now tied to how well its schools perform.

 

So there you have it, 5 factors that influence where you will find the right area to live in. Questions or comments, I’d love to hear them. Would you like me to make a Lifestyle home buying plan for you? Let’s talk.

Fixed Rate Mortgage Versus Variable Rate Mortgage- An Honest Comparison

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You’d be surprised how often I am asked for my opinion on whether my clients should go with a fixed rate mortgage or a variable rate mortgage. Here is my comparison on the different options:

Fixed Rate Mortgages

Fixed rate mortgages are just what they sound like. You get a mortgage where the rate is fixed for a certain amount of time. Fixed rates can range anywhere from 1 to 10 years but the most common type of montage in Canada is the 5 year fixed rate.

Pros and Cons of a Fixed Rate Mortgage

  • For the term, the interest is fixed meaning that it will not change, regardless of whether or not interest rate go up.
  • A fixed rate mortgage is a good choice for home owners living on a fixed budget.
  • Fixed rate mortgages are a good option when mortgage rates are low and there is a possibility that rates will go up in the near future.
  • If interest rates go down you will not see your payments reduced.

Pros and Cons of a Variable Rate Mortgage

  • Variable rate tends to be lower then a fixed rate.
  • Borrowers have saved a great deal of money on variable rate mortgages over the recent past.
  • Variable rate is subject to market changes, so if interest rates go up then the cost of your mortgage will also.

Summary of Fixed Rate Mortgage Versus Variable Rate Mortgage

At the end of the day, the choice is a classic risk and reward scenario. Take the lower rate of a variable that is subject to market fluctuations versus the safety of a fixed rate mortgage, even if it is a little higher. Talk to your lender and have them explain all the possible scenarios so you can make the right decision for your situation.

Looking for a great great Real Estate Agent? Let’s talk!

What Are the Typical Home Buying Costs?

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Typical Home Buying Costs

Down Payment

The down payment is the part of the home price that is not included in your mortgage. Currently in Canada, you need minimum of 5% down payment to buy a home with mortgage insurance, and 20% down for a conventional mortgage. It is common for first time home buyers to purchase with 5% down. For example, if you were to buy a $400,000 house with 5% down, you would be able to borrow $380,000 on your mortgage (95%) and you would be responsible for paying $20,000 on closing.

Deposit

A deposit is the amount of money you pay when you have an accepted offer to purchase, to show that you are a serious buyer. The good news is that the deposit forms part of your down payment with the rest due on closing date. Using the previous example, if you put down a $10,000 deposit on a house priced at $400,000, that deposit would form part of the down payment so you would only owe $10,000 at closing if you are buying with 5% down.

There is no standard rule on how much a deposit should be, however there are market ‘norms’ for the area and style of home you are purchasing that your realtor can explain. Keep in mind that a deposit can go a long way to showing how serious of a buyer you are. I have personally witnessed buyers loose out on a great home simply because the deposit they offered was too low for the sellers.

Deposits are normally held in trust by the listing brokerage and they are insured against loss in Ontario so they are protected. Keep in mind that if for some reason you back out of the deal after all conditions have been waived and it is a firm and binding deal, you may loose your deposit on top of being liable for legal damages. Having proper representation and understanding the process is critical to ensuring that you have a good home buying experience.

Home Inspection

In Ontario, it is ‘Buyer Beware’ when purchasing a home. That is why it is usually recommended that you include a condition on home inspection in your offer to purchase. The home inspection protects the buyer by giving them the chance to have the property inspected to ensure there are no hidden surprises that the buyer was unaware of. The typical cost of a professional home inspection is between $400-$600 depending on the size of the home and the expertise of the inspector. Prices to vary so feel free to call around before placing an offer to get quotes.

Land Transfer Tax

In Ontario the home buyer is responsible for paying taxes on the land transfer. The tax is progressive, meaning on the first $50,000 you pay 0.5% and then from 50-250,000 you pay 1% on that money. For example on a $400,000 home you will pay $4475 in Land Transfer tax. However, the good news is that if you are a first time homebuyer you qualify for a rebate on the first 200k so that means you will pay only $2475.

Note that if you are purchasing in the City of Toronto, you are responsible for both the Provincial land Transfer tax and the Toronto land Transfer Tax. So using the same example, the total tax on the same $400,000 house purchased in Toronto would be $8200. The City of Toronto also offers a rebate for first time home buyers.

The easiest way to calculate the land transfer tax is to use my calculator below. It’s self explanatory but enter the purchase price, select Ontario or Ontario (Toronto) and it will calculate the taxes owing.

Land Transfer Tax Calculator

Legal Fees

A Lawyer acts for you when transferring title and arranging the mortgage. They are the guarantor, they legally make sure all money is properly transferred and such. They also take care of title insurance and other disbursements. There is no set fee for legal services, however a good rule of thumb is to estimate $1500-1600 for the cost of legal feels (including title insurance). Feel free to contact a number of lawyers before placing an offer to get quotes.

Typical Home Buying Costs Summary

The costs above are the typical costs associated with buying a typical home in Mississauga, Oakville or the GTA. In certain cases there can be additional upfront costs that can be negotiated between buyer and seller or with your service provider such as:

  • Mortgage Appraisal Fee
  • Land Survey
  • Water and Septic Tank Inspections (rural properties)
  • Status Certificate (Condo)
  • Mortgage Lender Fee

Your realtor will be able to go over these additional costs and help you determine if they apply to your situation.

There you have it, a list of the Typical Home Buying Costs explained. I hope you found this article informative. If you are considering buying a home in Mississauga, Oakville or the west GTA and would like to receive more information about the home buying process feel free to contact me or fill out the form at the bottom of the page.