ERNIE’S REAL ESTATE EZINE
4th Week of July 2010 edition:
A GOOD TIME TO BUY!
Now that the craziness of a few months ago is behind us in Real Estate, with the bidding wars and 1 day of listing a house, it is a good time to buy a house. The market has slowed down a bit in Toronto but that doesn’t mean people are not buying properties. The market is still moving. It has just stabilized in my opinion.
The interest rates have gone up and there is the dreaded HST. If you take a step back and look at the interest rates, they are still low. The HST yes it is an added cost on services and new homes but it is like anything in this world, add it to the price. The cost of living goes up every year.
The good thing is that there is a lot more selection for buyers right now. The selection is keeping prices and sellers in check with their egos. Agents who were taking advantage of the shortage are no longer. The days of no condition buying is over for now. Buyers can rejoice!
So here are some IDEAS to think about when finding a new home:
IDEA #1 GET PRE-APPROVED FOR A MORTGAGE:
Go to your bank or mortgage broker and get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will determine what you can afford and make sure that you are not shopping for a house you cannot afford. You don’t want to get into a situation where you put an offer on a house and sign all the documents and then after you find out your financing is not there. This is how you get sued and find yourself in court.
IDEA #2 FIND OUT THE HIDDEN COSTS
Like so many people buying a house for the first time, they are shocked to find out that there are costs associated with closing the deal. Some of these costs include lawyer fees, land transfer tax, home inspection, title insurance and there are many more. You need to find out what it will cost at closing. Do you have enough money to cover those costs. You do not want to be stuck trying to find money on the day of closing.
IDEA #3 RENOVATIONS
When you go take a look at the home and you like it, try to think what needs to be done to the house in order for you to match your dream of living there. What repairs are immediate? What luxuries do you want? How much will those cost? You need to figure out how much those costs are on top of the purchase price. You might want to try to negotiate those renovations into the deal. If you know that you want to renovate the property, bring in your sub-contractor to give you a rough estimate of those costs. It is better to know what you are going to have to pay in the future before buying your house.
IDEA #4 SEE COMPARABLES
Not only do you want to see other houses that are comparable, you want to look at houses that just sold that are similar. Comparing houses is a key in determining your offer. You don’t just want to go into an offer without taking a look at what else is selling in the neighborhood. You or your agent needs to know what is going on near by. You might see another house that is cheaper with more square footage, or with a bigger yard. This is how appraisers determine value on houses, as well as agents.
IDEA #5 EXAMINE THE HOUSE
I always suggest a home inspection. Inspectors are great, but you also need to examine the house yourself. Inspectors have insurance to cover them if they miss something, they are human and might miss something. You need to study the house. Study to see if there have been any renovations to roofs or floors, to hide water damage. Go over your inspectors findings and ask questions. This is the only way to determine for yourself if the house is a lemon.
IDEA #6 HIRE AN AGENT
I’m a little biased for this IDEA. Seriously, why not? Typically the sellers pay the commission, why not hire an agent that works for you? I don’t understand why some people will go to an open house and not already have an agent going in there? If you don’t have one, use the agent that is there? Multiple representation can work. Let an agent do the work for you. A good agent will do a great job finding you a house. Why would you want to look at out of date listings on the public MLS site. By the time you get them they are sold. There are many ways to find an agent, stand on a corner on a weekend and ten agents will be placing signs there for open houses. If you don’t like the house they are promoting then ask them to find you other houses.
Well that’s it for me this week. Have a great weekend and remember to have a great open house!
I receive a lot of questions from friends and family about choosing a Real Estate Agent. I would love to service all of them but they are not in my designated area.
Choosing a Real Estate agent is like choosing a partner. Yes we all get caught up in the hype sometimes, but in the end you need to choose someone that is a good fit for you.
You have decided to use a Real Estate agent. How do you interview one? Where do you go? What makes a good agent?
There are many articles and everybody will give you advice on who to choose and why. I believe that it is very personal to each individual or family. You need to write down what is important. What service are you looking for? What is the most important quality when selling or looking for your house? Take your list of 20 questions to ask yourself and pick out five of them.
Here are some of my criteria that makes a good agent:
1. Does the agent answer the phone? (905-277-1805 do the Ernie Test) If not how long did the agent take to call you back?
I know this might sound very easy and simple. Does the agent have time to call you the customer back? If not why use them? If the agent doesn’t call you back how can you communicate with them? I’m an agent and I get frustrated with other agents. I can imagine how it must feel for some customers out there. It is my practice to text message my clients if I’m in a meeting. Sometimes I pre-warn them that I will be in a meeting all morning the next day or give them a run down of my week. I know this sounds bizarre but when my client calls and leaves a message they know I’m in a meeting, and that I will contact them as soon as I’m done.
2. Does the agent answer emails?(firstname.lastname@example.org do the ernie test) How long did it take the agent to return yours?
Let’s face it, in this day and age there should be no more delay to answer an email or text message as there is to answer a phone call. I believe that it is easier to answer an email then a phone call. Most times you can’t answer the phone but you can answer an email. Seriously if the agent is not answering your email how can they answer an offer for you? Even a quick response, “I’m in a meeting I will call you in a bit, or respond to your email shortly!”
3. What kind of phone does your agent have?
Ok so the first three criteria I have are in regards to communication. Does the agent have a smart phone? If you agent only has a regular phone, this is a need for an upgrade in phone and agent. I’m not saying you can’t get the job done with a regular phone but wouldn’t you rather use an agent who has technology to provide you with the best service?
4. Social Media
Does your agent have a twitter, Facebook, blog, flickr, and word press account? If so, do they promote them self and their properties on there? Does your agent blog about open houses they have? Do they know what a blog is? Do they have a flickr account to post pictures of your house on the web? Do they have more than 500 contacts on Facebook? Can they send a post to a large amount of people in one click? If not, how will they get the word out there about your house? If they say the newspaper walk out the door!
What kind of website do they have? Is it a good one, or is it made by the people who made netscape? How old or cheap does it look? Usually good looking websites have great functionality and are used to promote houses properly. What services are attached to the site? Can you check out how many schools are close to a listing? Can you see the neighborhood, is there a link to google maps? Usually an agent that has web presence knows what is needed in their site in order to promote your property. Is the site properly promoted?
6. Google your agent!
This is the first thing you should do. When considering an agent google them. Why? Well if an agent doesn’t have at lease two pages of google to them self, then you should ask how are you going to market my house when you don’t know how to market yourself. MLS is not the only answer these days.
7. Have a normal conversation with them
Seems simple right. Most people do not have a good conversation with their agent. If the only thing your agent can speak about is their sales, their time spent on selling, and how many sales they completed this month, run for z hills. Your potential agent will only care about their commission not selling your house. Yes past sales is important but you are an individual not a Wall-Mart Shopper.
Are you interviewing discount agents? Is you agent working for nothing? I’m not saying not to negotiate everything but, If your agent can’t negotiate their commission, their pay, what they pay their bills with, how can your agent negotiate your selling or buying price of your house? Do you think an agent you negotiated down to nothing will care what you sell your house for? Its just another listing to them. They make their $500 bucks and move on. Meanwhile you just sold your house for 50 grand less than it should have sold for.
9. Is your agent way out of their designation?
It is important to be very familiar with the area of selling or buying. Why would an agent sell in the suburbs then go to the city? It doesn’t make sense they do not know anything about the city if they sell in the burbs. Find an agent that is working specifically in your area. An agent that is a little out of the area is ok but 100 km is going too far.
Anyway there are a lot more criteria which I can speak about but you’re better off to just send me an email and I will go over it with you personally. Take a look at my website in the meantime
Thanks for Reading, look out for my E-zine newsletter Friday’s
How To Sell Your House In a Slow Market
Welcome, to my Ezine article.
This week I will be writing about selling your house in a slow market.
The market in certain parts of Canada has already slowed down and the U.S. is still recovering from their recession. It doesn’t look like there will be any major recovery for the U.S. anytime soon. I’m in Toronto and now we are seeing a slow stabilization of the Real Estate market since the interest rates of Canada have gone up a bit. The new H.S.T. is here and has kicked in to scare buyers away.
Now that you have listed your house for sale, what are you going to do to sell it in this slow market? Some people can just cancel their listing and hope for a better day. Some people have already purchased a home and are on their way to being sued if their house does not sell. These people cannot wait any longer.
Here are some IDEAS to sell your house, and kick-start some offers. Some of these IDEAS are very obvious but some sellers are very stubborn and think that their house is the royal palace and want quadruple the market value without doing any work. Even if you are listing your house on M.L.S. you still need to do some work to sell a house.
IDEA #1 Speak to a professional Real Estate agent: Sounds obvious but some people who are trying to sell a house on their own have no idea how to do it and are just putting their house on the market like they are selling muffins at the local market. Some agents will steer you in the right direction and might offer some advice even though you are not using them. After speaking to them and you realize how uphill your battle is, you might want to hire them.
IDEA #2 Price your house correctly. I can’t stress how important it is to this IDEA is. YOUR HOUSE IS NOT THE PALACE! This might be a problem even if you hire an agent. Your collective might be pricing your house too high! This is a major factor why houses do not sell. Look around the neighborhood for houses that are comparable, and price your house according to recent sales. You might want to try to find a house that is identical if possible on your street and price a bit lower. You might get a few bids in and sell for more in the meantime. Just a thought!
IDEA #3 Offer Incentives: Offer them appliances, quick or long closing dates, cash back, free landscaping for a year, offer them whatever you need to get the deal to close. You obviously do not want to compromise your deal and what your bottom line is, but try to make the closing as accommodating as possible. A few thousand dollars worth of incentives in a slow market isn’t really that bad considering if the market slows down even more. It could mean tens of thousands of dollars later on.
IDEA #4 Offer a Seller Take Back Mortgage: If you can afford it, offer them a mortgage. It is a great investment for you. It might make it a lot easier to ease the financial strain on a family if they can obtain financing from you. Think of it as your first investment in Real Estate. You should consult a financial adviser or lawyer on the proper ways to qualify the buyer. MAKE SURE YOU DO THIS! If you can qualify them, you might be able to get a quick sale and enjoy the sale at both ends.
IDEA #5 Stage your home: Consider staging your home with a professional staging company. Some staging companies can transform a house over night. It might mean a few dollars out of the sale but there are a few homes I have witnessed not being sold because of their decor. You want to make sure your house looks like it is being photographed for one of those Real Estate magazines. This is what attracts buyers to buy. Buyers imagine themselves living there. If you have decor from the 70’s, most people do not want to live valor couches and pleather chairs.
IDEA #5 Make sure your house is clean. Keeping your home immaculate is another way to make your house easier to sell. Make sure the house is tidy at all times and make sure it is clean especially your closets and washrooms. Yes people open the drawers.
Well that’s it for me. I hope this helps to sell your house on your own or with your agent.
Until next week, have a great open house this weekend!
One thing that is essential to selling your house whether or not you are an agent is photos. I’m not going to write about using photos and why you should but rather why you should use good photos.
In the recent months of going through houses with my buyers, I have realized one thing; there are a lot of bad photos out there. One common thing my buyers have all said is, “Why are the photos so different from what the house looks like.” I couldn’t agree more. Most of the photos I saw were very different than the house. I understand that you have to make the house look as good as possible but to completely change the way the room looks with a zoom or wide lens is going a little far. I don’t understand why anybody would want to make somebody waste their time going to a house that looks nothing like the photo. Do people think that a customer will like the house after? If they don’t like the house online they will certainly not like it in person. My last clients must have looked at 10 houses that were misrepresented. There should be some sort of fine for lying in pictures. A waste my time fine. Then it will stop.
Ok no more complaints I got it out. So whether or not you are an agent or not, there is a technique to taking good photos. Yes I have taken photography in school so I know there is a good and bad way to shoot. I’m not going to tell you how in a blog that would make no sense, it is more of a hands on thing. I’m sure you can search the net for some sort of do’s and don’ts. What I will tell you is get a good High Definition camera. Make sure it has stability on it. The higher the better. If possible take panoramic pictures if the camera has that feature. You can also get programs to make a virtual tour if you have the panoramic pictures. This is a good way to show your possible buyers how the room is. Rather than shoot with a wide angle lens to make the room feel bigger shoot around and show how the room truly feels.
Do not shoot into the window or sunlight. Make sure your rooms are tidy and there is nothing out. Do not use different furniture than the furniture that will be in your house when you are showing it. I have been to so many houses where they have different furniture than their pictures. Its almost like they staged the house, then they went back to their old furniture because the staging contract was over. Or they are using old MLS photos. Either or it throws buyers off when they see different furniture or appliances in your house.
Take a lot of photos and pick out the best 30 from there. A few photos from each room is great. Take photos of the neighborhood and the local amenities such as Local schools, churches, Malls etc. This will allow the buyer to get an idea of what is around the neighborhood. It gives them a mental picture of what it will be like to live in your neighborhood before they come to look at your house to buy it. If you post pictures that are different than they come to see they will be upset like my buyers for being mislead and are already turned off to your house.
If you need some help taking photos or just want me to list your house all together call me at 905-277-1805. You can also reach me at homepage or century 21 link
Video to Sell Your House
In today’s world people search the internet before even thinking about getting in their car to drive. They search the net for pictures, reviews and comparisons. The same goes for Real Estate. What’s the first thing you do when you see a property you like. You search the net for details. Some people call an agent like me. I get many calls a day to ask for details on a property.
Virtual tours were a big thing years ago. Many agents still use them today. Basically it is a panoramic shot pieced together. It was revolutionary. Now with video recorders becoming so small and cheap agents have taken to use this media to sell houses. Buyers can go into a house anytime of the day. A lot of agents have used professional videographers to get this done. Since the price has come down over the years, it is almost mandatory to use a video tour.
Now with video on phones and high definition camcorders becoming so cheap people are actually using video blogs daily or weekly.
If you are selling your own house (which I don’t recommend) I will give you some pointers to use your iphone, blackberry or small video camera. If you have some editing software that is great. You can piece together the video from different rooms into one video. If not you can just post different videos.
Shoot video of different rooms and pan left to right. Try to capture the whole room. Make sure the rooms are neat and tidy. Clean up! Shoot the whole house, especially your bathrooms and backyard. People want to see those things the most. You can also talk about your house while you are shooting. You can kind of do a video blog while you are going through the house. It makes it more personal and people will imagine living there. Make sure there is a lot of light in the rooms and do not shoot into the light. Show the closets in your house. Buyers want to know how much closet space is there. Do not hide anything. It doesn’t make sense to not show something. People are not going to buy a house by not looking in depth or have a home inspection. They will find out if there is something wrong in a room. I’m not saying that you have to bring attention to the defect. They will notice if there is two rooms missing or something is missing like a washroom, then on the listing it says 3 washrooms and you only shot two.
Get a YouTube account. After you have finished filming and editing your video, post your video to youtube. This will let people see it. Youtube is easy to access and you can access it from your phone. It is very convenient and simple. Tag the video and put a website where your house is listed or on your for sale by owner site. This will allow people to connect to your listing.
If you feel this is really overwhelming call me and I can do all of this for you.
This blog was written by Ernie Arrizza