Expert toronto real estate market update

Earlier this week the Toronto Real Estate Board released their February Real Estate Market Update numbers and to no ones surprise, the numbers didn’t look good.

Never mind the fact that home Prices in Mississauga and Toronto have remained steady and in some cases even risen over the past few months, with blinders on the media focused in on the one statistic that would create the day’s news cycle.

Sales and Prices are down compared to the same time last year

Well no kidding ‘Sherlock’!

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when you compare the craziness that was last year’s real estate market to a more tempered real estate market that we’re in today, that it wouldn’t look good.

What I find ironic is that nobody (at least from what I can see) bothered to look at the bigger picture, that the downward adjustment in house prices happened over the summer of 2017 and since then we’ve actually seen an uptick in market activity. If someone actually took the time to do the research and add ‘context’ to the subject consumers would be a lot better off, something that most reporters and most real estate professionals can’t seem to understand. I actually shot a video about this exact subject in 2015 and it still rings true today.

Instead of taking a balanced approach, most write sensational headlines that over exaggerate the truth, in order to get a few extra clicks. And realtors don’t get off the hook here either, most are willing to regurgitate the same information without looking at the numbers themselves, I mean it’s hard work to actually think about it!

There you have it, my take on the Toronto Real Estate Market Update, if you have any comments or concerns, feel free to contact me!

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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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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.


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


 

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

 


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 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.

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.

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 last 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’re selling your 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 to focus on a home’s presentation 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.


 

How Much Does Home Staging Cost? 

Over the years, “Home Staging” has taken on a variety of definitions and meanings. Many billboards will advertise “Free Staging” with listing services, but what does that REALLY include? I’ve seen the full spectrum of “staging” in listings over the years and some of it isn’t very effective. You really do need to know what questions to ask to ensure you are getting quality services. Whether you decide to pay for it up front, or if it’s rolled into your commission fee, there is no such thing as free. There are many things you can do yourself to prepare your home for almost no money, but if you are receiving services of a home stager, mover, contractor, etc, there is a cost associated with that. Let’s break it down into it’s parts so you can know what to expect and what is fair.



1) Home Staging Consultation $250-$350

What is it?

A Home Staging Consultation is an appointment where a professional will walk through your home (hopefully long before it is listed for sale) and they will give you tips and advice on how to improve the marketability of your home for sale. This is not a decor rampage, or a chance to spend lots of your money. The Home Staging Professional should be asking you questions about your timeline, capabilities, budget and goals, so that the plan is actually reasonable and feasible to carry out. The only purpose of any level of home staging is to achieve these 3 goals:

  1. To make your home look as big as possible
  2. To make your home look as bright as possible
  3. To make your home look as updated as possible

A superior consultation will also include a detailed step by step plan for the home owners to follow. See an example of a home staging plan.

Who Pays?

If you decide to hire a full-service realtor, they will often include this consult as part of their services, but not necessarily, be sure to ask.  If you are choosing a flat fee or a low-commission realtor, you may have to cover this cost yourself. Also ask for the qualifications of the Home Stager. It shouldn’t be a decorator who has time to kill, or a realtor who is playing jack-of-all-trades. A professional home stager is skilled at creating a strategic plan that will add THE MOST value and appeal to your home for THE LEAST amount of money. 

Who is it Good For?

All Home Sellers. It is incredibly difficult for any home owner to look at their home with the critical eye necessary to build a proper, strategic plan. Home owners accept their house as is, and it is perfectly livable. But first impressions are what’s at stake; you truly only get 30 seconds before buyers form an opinion about your home. Then they will spend the rest of the visit finding reasons to validate their first impression, for better or for worse.

2) Essential Home Staging Activities

If you take a minute to read this article about top 10 activities to increase the value of your home, I review some of these common tasks that earn you the best bang for your buck. Industry experts recommend investing 1-2% of the value of your home to prepare it for sale, but often, The Village Guru gets the job done for much, much less. At the Village Guru, we focus first on Decluttering, Repairs, Painting and Lighting, as almost every home benefits from these activities. Given the right circumstances, a wide variety of other activities can come into play, but if you want to keep to the most simple and solid ROI (return on investment) focus on those 4 key areas. For more information check out these useful links:

The Ultimate Guide to Cheap and Stylish Lighting

The Top 10 Upgrades to Increase the Value of Your Home

Who Pays for Home Staging Activities?

Over the years, we all let little fixes pile up in our house unattended. We say we don’t have the time but secretly, it may also be that we’re not sure how to fix it or don’t want to try. The old adage is to save $100-200 a month for home maintenance….have you spent $1000-2000 each year maintaining your home? I don’t know too many people who have. Consider selling your home to be the “Day Of Reckoning” for your home. The single most important thing you can do for your home before you list is to ensure it is extremely well maintained.

Generally, a good realtor (who isn’t desperate and runs a reputable full-time business) will provide you with ongoing guidance from a home stager, and connect you with any contractor you need to get the work done. We build the plan off what will earn you the most money for your home, within the budget you are comfortable with. We would like you to contact us the minute you’ve decided you want to sell your home, even if you don’t plan to list for 3 months from now. The more time we have execute our plans, the more successful we’ll be. Giving yourself 2 weekend to get your home ready often causes unnecessary stress and doesn’t achieve the best results.

Article continued below

Removing Furniture/Paring Down: 0$ 

The cheapest and easiest thing you can do is start packing before you list your home for sale. It’s time to think about how to make your home look like a model home, which contains JUST ENOUGH furniture to show the function and size of each room. Sell, donate or hide excess “stuff” in your basement or garage. But please don’t start until after you have received a staging consultation, because the only thing worse than a house with too much stuff, is a house that is empty.

what is home staging

Complete Repairs: 0$ – $ 1000+

Before we talk about staging, we have to talk repairs. Staging is nothing but lipstick on a pig if your home has visible repair issues. If you have to choose between staging and repairs, choose repairs. The cost all depends on what needs to be done. If your counter is broken, sink is rusted, transition strips broken, baseboards missing, mismatched electrical switches, exposed wires, chipped porcelain tubs, cracked tiles, wobbly hand rails, then we will work with you to make a plan of attack. Some repairs buyers don’t mind absorbing, some repairs buyers HATE and can actually be a deal breaker. We will show you which to focus on to get the best results.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Handyman Services: $30-50 per hour

Is that repair list above causing you stress? Not sure how to fix it all? Hiring for all the little things can mean the job is done right, done well and saves a lot of time in the long run. Especially for things like plaster work, replacing counters, fixing floors or tiles, painting, hanging drapes, etc, it can mean a lot to make one call and have it done. You’ll have wished you did it long ago. Always get 3 quotes and we can help connect you with contractors for whatever your job may be. If your friends can recommend someone good, perhaps you can barter services for payment of food, drinks or maybe get a gift card from points. Get creative and call in any favours you can.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Paint: $200-$600 Supplies, $0-$4000 for Labour

Painting is the single most effective staging activity you can do, so that your home looks and feels new. Every buyer wants a home that feels new, even if it isn’t. Neutralize everywhere you can. Don’t forget doors and baseboards, they are key to a modern finished look. Take a look at our guide for choosing paint colours here, However, it’s impossible to choose the right colour without considering other fixed elements in the room and lighting. We provide paint colour consults for $250 as a separate service, or we will include it in our commission if you hire The Village Guru to sell your home. The expense of painting is the labour, so if you want to save money, start asking around, call in favours, or bribe anyone who is willing to pick up a paint brush.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Lighting: $200-$700 Supplies, $0-$500 for Labour

Upgrading your lights have about 5 million benefits. Maybe 4.9 million, but it’s up there. I’ll condense it to this:

  • Increasing the physical number of bulbs in in your home (1 light to 3 light, 3 light to 5 light) makes rooms feel bigger (added value)
  • Adding ceiling fixtures where there are none (common in older homes) is worth every penny to buyers. New homes have ceiling lights, and old homes have dim dark rooms with a lamp in the corner. This is an investment that pays off 300%. It will set you apart from other comparable homes
  • Upgrading lights to stylish lights add a focal point to rooms that often have none. If you don’t have big beautiful windows, fireplace, moulding or built ins, adding a gorgeous chandelier is the cheapest way to add architectural interest and a focal point for photos.
  • Beautiful lights are very memorable to buyers and subliminally communicate quality and elegance to buyers.
  • The only way you can miss the mark with new lighting is if you choose the wrong one. Just because a light for sale, that doesn’t mean its pretty or attractive. When you hire The Village Guru, we source lights FOR YOU so that you don’t have to fuss over all the options out there. We will steer you away from the dime-a-dozen builder standards, and find the most affordable and stylish options. If you plan enough time to order online, we can REALLY knock your socks off.
  • Yes, there is real ROI with lights. If you spend $1000 on new lights, you can absolutely, no question, no doubt about it, add $3000 of value to your home. I stand behind that argument emphatically. Take a look at this article about lighting upgrades to learn more. 

How Much Does Home Staging Cost the Average Home Owner?

There’s no hard and fast equation, because some homes needs a lot of painting, but very little repairs. Or some, because of budget, can only do the decluttering and nothing more. Some owners have gone full hog and did every recommendation we made. Most home owners spend between $1000-$2500. On a $700,000 home, $2500 is 0.3% of the price of the home, well under industry recommendations.

What is true with each and every one of our clients is that we enter into a positive, partnership agreement. Our clients are willing and excited to do everything they can to prepare their home, and we agree to bring in our expertise in staging, design, marketing, product sourcing, as well as staging props, which is often over a $3000 value. (see below for more info)

It’s this strategic teamwork and positive relationship that adds tens of thousands of value to our clients homes. The Village Guru is blessed and privileged to find clients who are as equally committed as us towards a Top Dollar Sale and who want the best possible service from day 1.

 

3) Additional Staging Services

When you see “Free Staging” on a billboard, I’m quite confident in saying it won’t include these additional staging services. The Village Guru has a variety of service packages, all of which can be further customized to your needs.

Staging Props ($2000+) & Prop Installation Labour ($1500) = $3500+

Who Pays?

This service is part of our commission fee, if you choose one of our 2 higher service packages. My wife Stephanie has her own Staging & Design Company, and believe me, I don’t get it for free, but I do think she throws in some extra pillows for me. 🙂 If you are looking for a lower commission, you can also arrange to pay Stephanie directly if you still want these services.

What’s Included?

We think that bringing in a TON of props is the reward for all of your hard work to prep your home. We would much rather you spend money on lights and paint, and let us bring in the art, linens, small furniture, and accessories that will take the look of your home to the next level. This also includes our professional mover, hired to load the props in and out of the property, $100 of fresh staging props to create vignettes for photos, and 2 days of labour from Stephanie to prep, install, and then remove the props. It’s a lot of work, but it all sets your home miles apart from your competition. Take a look at our portfolio to see for yourself. Non-staged or “free-staged” homes don’t look as good as ours. Period.

 

Accessories are good for sellers whose homes are in good condition, and who have the basic furniture for each room. There is no benefit to bringing in artwork and pillows if the home requires significant repair….it does not hide problems that would affect offer price. So in MOST cases, we provide props *in combination with* the work home owners put into the home to prepare it for sale. Working together is how get the best results.

Renovation Planning & Design Consult Hours: 20-40 hours, a value of $1500-$3000

Who Pays?

This service is part of my commission when you chose our top level service program. If you want a lower commission, you can also hire Stephanie separately, and she can charge a flat fee or per hour, depending on your needs.

What’s Included?

Integrity and honesty are cornerstone values of The Village Guru, and first we always do a market report to see what renovation, if any, is worth the investment. And yes, I have recommended for clients NOT to do the work. The last thing I want is an overpriced home that can’t sell and an angry home owner. If I can determine that a reno will net a great profit (minimum twice the investment cost) then The Village Guru team is with you all the way, from day 1. Stephanie LOVES working on kitchens and baths especially, since thats where we can build the greatest profits. She will design a plan and revise it until you are completely satisfied, she will plan all of the material finishes and help you source them, and she will be there to troubleshoot problems and help make decisions along the way.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Click this link to see a large sample of Stephanie’s Past Staging & Decor Reports

Staging for Vacant Homes: $2000-$5000

What’s Included?

Empty rooms never do a good job selling homes, because scale and perspective cannot be understood from the photos. Confusion is never a good first impression. For vacant homes, it is highly recommended to fill the home with furniture, including beds, sofas and other large scale items. Renting furntire is a very high labour, high cost venture, and my wife determined years ago that she cannot offer this service any cheaper than the other rental companies out there, and didn’t want to carry the costs and liabilities. So we act as coordinator between you and the rental company.

Who Pays?

A good guideline is $650 per room, per month. The cost for a home seller to rent a full house is between $3500-$5000 depending on number of rooms. The cost to rent furniture for a condo is between $2000-$3000 depending on number of rooms.

We manage the coordination hours to source and finalize an item inventory to procure the items to fill out each room properly. We can then bring in our props and installation efforts as per our standard service package, which is a value of $3000+.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Staging for Estate Sales: $0-$profit

Estate Sales can generate a small to reasonable profit if the estate decides to have a contents sale. We have companies who provide this service, and they usually charge 50% of sales if they fully manage the auction, or 35% of sales if the estate manages setting up the auction. It’s a simple way to deal with any leftover contents after the directions from the will are carried out.

In our experience, these homes are often well taken care of with perhaps a few maintenance issues to address. The money earned from a contents sale can often cover these repairs, making it a zero-sum equation. We often sell these homes vacant and empty because it’s usually the least stressful and complicated option for the estate. Buyers know that it is an estate sale, so there is often more forgiveness for a vacant or dated home.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Don’t Gloss over the Details

Once you are signed with a realtor, it’s too late to find out you’re not getting the services you need to get the highest price for your home. Ask as many questions as you must, because the devil is in the details. “Free Home Staging” doesn’t mean anything. To us, we see Home Staging as a team effort, where we both do everything with reason to make your home look as big, bright and modern as possible. I have consistently seen that the home owners who put in 110%  to prepare their home for sale get the best results when the home is listed. Don’t underestimate the power of hard work and a positive attitude! 

 

  • The Village Guru
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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!

 

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!

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.

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.

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!

 

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!

 

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!

 

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.

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!