Summer in the City? Absolutely!

The calendar may be telling us it’s spring, but the thermometer has me thinking about summer.

A while back I penned a blog entitled Hamilton is Not JUST a Steel City.  If I had to pick a time of year that made this obvious, it would have to be summer.  Contrary to what many strangers to our area believe, we are immersed in nature, which means lots of fun things to do outdoors!  I have mentioned in the past, many of our conservation areas, and gardens etc., but this time of year makes me think of the summer festivals, the local farmers markets where you can buy produce grown in your own neighbouthood, and also of summer fun for kids at camp.

I have pulled a few of my favourite sites to visit, and want to share them with you.

We are fortunate to have some of the best and most extensive farmers markets around.  The Hamilton Market, which runs year round has local competition this time of year, when the outdoor markets start up.  For example, the Ancaster market and Dundas market both operate one day a week, selling vegetables, cheeses, meats, bakery items and more from the local farmers.  The links I have included will give you all the details.  For other area markets, here is the link for Ontario Farmers Markets  See what the markets in your own area have to offer this year!

Our areas also host some of the best summer festivals around.  Festival of Friends, Ancaster Heritage Days, Dundas Buskerfest, Dundas Cactus Festival, and Winona Peach Festival, just to name a few.  To find our more information, check out these sites:

And for the perennial favourite, summer camp whether it be day camp or a week off in the wilds… check out:

These links just provide a taste of what is available this summer in the area.  We’re lucky to live in such a diverse area, with so much to offer a short drive away.

Enjoy your summer!

Do you have any favourite summer events or traditions?  Please leave a comment and share any suggestions you might have to help others enjoy the seasons.

Where is The Market Going?

Clients, friends and family are always asking, “Where is the market going? Is it a good time to buy or sell?”

Last December Ann gave us her version of her crystal ball predictions for 2012. I agree with Ann when she says her crystal ball has never provided a very clear picture of the future. Neither has mine, therefore my impression of where the market is going will be just as vague.

Ann referred to what the ‘experts’ were saying. They said this year would be a good year for employment in Hamilton. At the end of the first quarter of 2012 Hamilton’s unemployment rate was down 0.4 percentage points from the previous quarter. So far so good.

Other ‘experts’ referred to the economy as doing just fine and interest rates are still historically low. The Bank of Canada expects economic growth to reach 2.4% this year and also suggest there may be ‘modest’ interest rate hikes over the next 12-18 months.

On the home sales front, according to REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington statistics, the number of listings for the first 4 months of 2012 is down from the same period last year, while the number of homes sold is up almost 2% over the same period last year which puts upward pressure on average sale prices resulting in an increase of almost 8% for the same period.

So where is the market going, who really knows? We can look at statistics til the cows come home and come up with a dozen different scenarios for the future. Like Ann said last December, there will always be people getting married, families growing, and job relocations. There will always be a need for houses to be bought and sold regardless of the economy. For you REALTORS® out there you need to be aware of what’s happening in your trading area and adjust your marketing strategies accordingly.

For you buyers and sellers – Is it a good time to buy or sell? Of course it is. With the possibility of increases in the interest rates as well as average sale prices – the longer you wait – the more money it will cost! You must always remember the real estate market is very localized and can vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. My advice to you is to hire a professional REALTOR® to help you wade through the mounds of statistics and provide you with the necessary information to make sound real estate decisions. After all, your home is probably the largest single investment you have. You wouldn’t want to make any mistakes would you?????




Where Have You Been Looking For It?

Odds are if what you are looking for is a new house, you have been looking on the Internet.

Statistics tell us that over 87% of potential home buyers start their search on the Internet. They like being able to look in the areas they are interested in, without having to go to alternate sources to find price, local amenities, schools and more. If you stop to think about it, why would you go to a newspaper or magazine that has only a limited number of the properties available, and to the aggravation of a number of lookers, where the ads don’t tell you where the property is, much less how much it costs.

As REALTORS we often ask people who come through our open houses where they saw that the property was available to view. The vast majority of them tell us they either found it on our real estate open house site or they saw the signs. Very few ever mention seeing the ad in the paper.

The Internet has opened up a great venue for shoppers, with any number of home search sites. The REALTORS’s own advertising site, has the most current and accurate information as it is updated every day, at least once, with any new properties, or changes in price and more. Also, the Internet allows REALTORS to put multiple pictures and also video tours of the properties online for home buyers to view. No wonder the Internet is where we all go to look!

Even the newspapers and real estate magazines know that home buyers want to look on the Internet. Many if not all of them have their own websites, showcasing REALTOR listings, such as

More and more websites provide you with real estate information. Some even offer to tell you what your home is worth by you just providing a few details… Please don’t rely on these values for anything important. If you just want a general idea for curiosity’s sake, okay, but otherwise, do have a qualified individual, with access to all the data provide you with the information you need.

So, just a final comment to home owners who have listed their properties with a REALTOR and wonder why they don’t see an ad in the paper each week, or in multiple publications. If your REALTOR is an effective marketer, they will have your home exposed to thousands of buyers every day on the Internet.

Remember, ads don’t get homes sold, a tested marketing plan of which advertising is a small part does.

Do It Yourself or Hire A REALTOR® – It’s Your Choice

One question I get asked quite often by homeowners is “Why shouldn’t I sell my house myself?”

Well, the fact of the matter is, a REALTOR® can likely put more money in your pocket, even after paying their commission, than selling it yourself. What many homeowners lose sight of is the amount of money they end up with after their house is sold, because they are concentrating on the amount of commission they are paying.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2011 Home Buyers and Sellers Survey, the private sale transactions account for approximately 10% of all sales. The law of supply and demand plays a big part in the value of your home. Everyone knows that the more buyers that are interested in a property the more value it may have. Therefore if your home is only exposed to 10% of the buying market as opposed to 100% of the buying market, there is a greater chance of you not getting top value for your home.

One thing Sellers need to realize is, if buyers pass on all the homes listed on MLS® and all the free services and assistance a Buyer Representative provides, and buy a private for sale home, they do so, because they think they can purchase the house for less money since the seller is not paying a commission. So, as a home seller, you will always be paying a commission. If you sell privately you pay it to the buyer in the form of a reduced price, or to your REALTOR® if you choose to sell it through the MLS®.

What amazes me is that some home owners are willing to risk what is probably their largest investment, and rely on the expertise of someone that has possibly never sold a home before, themselves. Yet they will spend their hard earned dollars to make sure their car is being serviced by an expert auto mechanic.

Statistics show that 7 out of 10 For Sale By Owners end up listing and selling through a REALTOR® or they don’t move forward with their plans. Many home owners add additional expense to their home selling process by attempting to sell on their own first. For example, there are classified advertising costs, printing costs for feature sheets, maybe they buy a do-it-yourself home selling kit from a For Sale By Owner marketing company. These costs can be anywhere from $200 to $2,000.

For all you home owners out there thinking of selling privately, talk to a professional REALTOR® and ask them to show you what your net proceeds will be after all the selling expenses. This is the amount of money you will have available to you to move forward with your plans. When you really think about it, isn’t this one of the first steps you should be doing when selling your home?

Good luck to all the home sellers out there and I hope all your housing dreams come true!

Real Estate Designations: What the heck do these mean, and why should you or I care?

ABR, SRES, ASA, MVA, FRI, CRES, E-PRO… the list is endless.

All the time you see REALTORS®, and others for that matter, that need lines of type to include all the letters after their name for the designations they have earned. While a lot of time and study can go into these designations, not all of them truly affect how your REALTOR® will help you with your real estate needs.

When you are ready to buy or sell, take the time to interview 2 or 3 REALTORS® before you make your final decision. You should consider these interviews to be job applications. Many times, I think buyers and sellers take more time deciding what colour to paint the front door than they take to decide who will best represent them, and negotiate the best possible terms for them.

When you interview a REALTOR® you should ask them questions about their track record.
• How long have they been in the business?
• What did they do before they became a REALTOR®?
• What is their list to sell ratio? (how many of the listing they take actually sell)
• What is the average number of days they require to sell a home?
• What are they going to do that is different from everyone else?
• What special qualifications do they have that will help you? (this is where the initials after the name may mean something)
• Why should you hire them? If they don’t have a good answer to this question, what is their answer when a buyer asks “Why should I buy this house?” or you ask “is this a good house for me to buy?”

The answers to these questions are not rocket science, nor is there the right answer to every question. Consider the first question, ‘How long have they been in the business?’ A REALTOR® who has just completed the courses may be the best choice you can make. They are up to date on the legal matters regarding a real estate transaction, they are eager and will work very hard for your success. Also, consider their background. That’s where the second question comes into play. A strong sales or marketing background can make up for lack of time in the real estate profession.

If a REALTOR® cannot answer questions about their production, such as list to sell ratio, or average days on market, be wary. This individual does not look at buying and selling homes as a business. They are looking at real estate as one sale at a time. That may be a good way to focus, but it does not always lead to long term success.

I hope when you are thinking about your next real estate move you will call one of our Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professionals. Yes, we have many that have initials after their names… ask them why they decided to earn the designation. Maybe they are uniquely qualified to help you. If you chose to hire one of our sales representatives, always remember, you receive the Ultimate Service® Guarantee.

By the way, our sale representatives will gladly answer the questions I have outlined above. You be the judge of the answers.