Is Anyone out there Working for YOU?


As someone fairly new to real estate (3 years), I have only ever worked with a Buyer Representation Agreement. (B.R.A.)

Sales reps that have been in the business for years tell me that before the B.R.A. everyone was supposed to be working for the seller. The Hamilton market is strange right now, with not a lot of inventory but a lot of buyers. It seems that we as seller’s sales reps can put almost any price on a property then try to convince the buyers that it is worth it. It raises the question, as a buyer’s representative, are we really working for the buyers best interest or are we all working for the seller, if we follow this practice.

When I reflect on my past career experience as a Regional Director for a retail chain, I realize that my focus is ultimately customer service. I feel as though the bounty of real estate can be won from participating in up front open discussions on expectations between Clients and myself. In a way, setting boundaries. Some expectations can’t be met for some clients and you have to agree to disagree on occasion.

Protecting the buyer’s interest?

Let’s take home inspections for instance.  In my opinion, while a home inspection can identify a potential issue, it also can be an investment in education in the home for the buyer. There are a lot of would be home inspectors given the number of television shows that people can watch and believe it is a career for them. Remember that no house is perfect, and even a house built by a top developer is going to have a few flaws and/or imperfections. I believe that the purpose of a home inspection is not just to search for potential issues that could affect the deal, but also to educate the buyer about ways to care for the house in the future.

And that’s what most home inspections discover, items that can be fixed at a nominal cost. These don’t always affect the deal in one way or another but rather identify things that can be dealt with easily, and for the most part inexpensively

So here is what I think … the Hamilton market is a seller’s market that sometimes Sales Reps with a B.R.A., forget that they are supposed to be working for the buyer.

Buyers are advised to sometimes offer more than what they would normally offer, and not include the clauses to protect them ie the home inspection. We should always remember who we are working for and make sure we do the best for our clients even if that means waiting for the next “perfect house”.  We must remember that we are helping people find their perfect home!

If your wish to contact Bonnie, please either leave a comment below, or contact her at her office 905-522-1110 or email at

Be my guest…

Like Ann said last week, we have invited some of our Sales Representatives to be guest bloggers. I have asked Paul McDowell to be my first guest blogger this month. Paul is going to give you his take on the local real estate market.

Sales Representative
Paul McDowell Sales Representative

One question I get asked frequently is: ‘How’s the current Real Estate market?’ I think that’s a typical question REALTORS® are asked on a daily basis. Lately, I haven’t been too sure how to even answer that simple question.

The current Real Estate market seems to be in an unusual place right now. Yes, of course the industry is and always will be a rollercoaster for most. Full of constant highs and lows, but something is happening, some type of shift or change in the industry. Even though I haven’t been in the business for a significant length of time, I can still easily notice that the inventory is down in most parts of the region. BUT that doesn’t mean there is a shortage of buyers.

My Open Houses are definitely not short of visitors as they seem to be rolling in at a steady pace. Especially at a recent Open House I had at a 2 year old home on Divinci Boulevard on the West Mountain. I had 16 or 17 sets of people through that Sunday afternoon which really doesn’t surprise me at all. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of buyers- just a shortage of listings. One factor that probably helped attract buyers to that area was the new home site on the same street. Their sales office was open that afternoon and I clearly noticed that many, if not all of the people that came through my open house, also went to the new home sales office. New home sites have been busy as well, in some cases, lining up at the doors.

Typically, this time of year slows down a tad as we get closer to the holiday season. So I am not too concerned at this point. 2013 is forecasted to be a positive year in the Real Estate industry which helps me stay optimistic about the things to come.

So let’s get back to the original question: How’s the current Real Estate market? My answer:  It’s always up and down, but overall- cruising along nicely.

If you would like to contact Paul, either leave a comment below, call him at 905-388-1110 or email him at



Be my guest…

This month Gary and I have decided to give ourselves, and you a break, by inviting some of our Sales Representatives to be guest bloggers.  The only stipulation we made was it needed to be real estate related…

Our first guest blogger is James Mink.   I will let him introduce himself to you..


Setting Expectations for your first year…
I am a new REALTOR® that has decided to take the plunge into the crazy world of real estate sales this past spring and now 7 months in I would like to share my experiences and insight for what it’s worth. I specifically am hoping to provide information on what I have experienced to help those looking to get into the business or to educate the average consumer who has misconceptions of what it is we actually do.
First I will start off with a little information regarding myself to give you an idea of who I am and my background. I have been blessed in the past with great opportunities where jobs are concerned, I started off my first job at 14 and worked there for 10 years, during that time I had various other part time work I was doing and at points I was employed by 5 different companies at the same time, including the one that really got my career started which I will get to a bit later. The reason I have included this information is to give you an idea of my work ethic. Almost every night/weekend when I wasn’t in school growing up I was somewhere working to earn money. The biggest reason being is that I liked to enjoy a certain lifestyle (travel, attending sporting events, dinner and drinks with friends, etc…) and although I didn’t take a lot of time off (on average maybe just over a week a year vacation) I liked to enjoy and really appreciated the time I did get with my family and friends. When I was in my first year of college I was lucky enough to get a co-op with a great company and worked my way up to a Director position by the time I was 26. After a couple years at this position and 10 years total at the company I decided it was time to move on and try my hand at something different in order to expand my skill set, and went on to run the marketing division at another software based company. While my career had been progressing I had been told by many people in the real estate industry that I should consider giving real estate sales a try and there had always been a little voice in the back of my mind telling me to go for it, however, it was never loud enough to replace the analytical side of my brain that kept shouting “DON’T BE STUPID!, you make a decent living and know when you are getting paid and exactly how much you will be receiving every month!”. For years the little voice lost the battle every time my mind raged the war on where I wanted to be and what was going to make me happy in the future. It wasn’t until this year that I decided the longer I waited to try something I have always wanted to try, the older I would be starting from the ground up in a completely different business model than I was accustomed to.
The hardest thing about getting into real estate was the fact that I was starting over in a field that I had some background knowledge of but after getting into it, I realized that I really knew barely anything about the way this industry works. It felt good to get a new start in something I have had a passion for a long time about, but it was also scary in that I had no clue when or IF I was ever going to get paid again. This problem was compounded by the fact I have a mortgage that comes out of my account on the same days every month whether I am getting paid or not. I didn’t have any kids or a wife (I have been to vegas a couple times and there were some black spots in my memory, but no one has come forth claiming either so I think I’m good) that I had to worry about providing for so that made the decision a little easier, although when I look back now the fact that I did only have my income to rely on and didn’t have a spouse contributing to the monthly bills it really made it that much harder. I just want to put in a side note, if you are the only working spouse and you have a kids or a significant other you are supporting alone it is much harder than the situation I was in, there are situations that are a lot tougher than mine and I realize that, whenever things are bad, someone can always be worse off.
I know I am rambling a bit but what I want to summarize out of all of the above is that it is incredibly hard to make the transition into real estate, it is not an entry-friendly process like it is in some industry’s as there is no guarantee of compensation when you first start and there are a lot of expenses you must incur in order to get your licence and actively sell before you even have the opportunity to TRY and make money. The real estate classes/exams you must pass are only the first hurdle, from there you have to pay CREA, OREA, your local board, insurance, gas, signs, marketing, gas, stationary, monthly board dues, gas, quarterly provincial and national dues, brand fees, gas and much more. Believe me when I say that there are waaaaaaaaaaay more expenses than I was expecting getting into this industry and that scares the majority of people off within the first year. I have heard a bunch of statistics regarding the entry into this field and I believe the last one someone told me was that 30% of people continue past their first year in real estate. The rest give up and move on because it’s not what they were expecting, or what they have heard other people say it should be and a vast majority just can’t afford to continue.
You see a decent amount of people that are part time in this industry to start out because they need to be able to pay their bills in order to be able to pursue and develop their business model in real estate. The only issue I see here is that there are a significant amount of people in this business that only do it part time and in dealing with a couple over the short time span I have been actively selling I don’t think they have the knowledge or the focus to properly service their customers. I am not saying that everyone that is part-time is like this but the ones I have dealt with certainly were. If you are part time to start that’s understandable but I truly believe this business is one that you need to focus your entire attention to in order to be successful and if you can make the jump to being able to devote all of your efforts to only real estate I think you will succeed beyond even your own expectations.
I had been around real estate in one capacity or another for years and had accumulated a vast amount of “high level” knowledge about how it works, but it wasn’t until I was licenced and standing in front of a customer on my own answering questions and providing information to them alone that I realized there was much more to being a real estate professional than I had envisioned. It wasn’t about working whenever you want, driving fancy cars, and making ridiculous sums of money every time you sell a house that everyone seems to be under the impression a real estate professional’s job entails. The perception between what we do and what we actually do is a larger divide than the Grand Canyon. No amount of studying and reading books on what to do, or how to do it can prepare you for the first time you are out with someone and they are looking to you for guidance on information regarding a property. When you first start out, the only information you have is basically the same information that the consumer has from MLS regarding the property. Yes, you get access to your local board intranet that will help you compile comparables and give a little more in-depth information regarding the house but it isn’t until you have used the site for a while or have actually been through, or helped buy or sell properties in the neighbourhood that you can comment on some of the information of value that a real estate agent can provide. Beyond just information it is our duty to represent our clients best interests and we take upon us a great deal of liability in working to close each and every deal. This is something that goes very unnoticed by consumers and the majority of people of the public, but I think is a huge issue that should not be brushed under the rug. I have never worked for a company before where the outcome of something out of my control could lead to me getting legal action against me. That’s insane! I realize that this does not happen often and in many of the cases that it does happen in, it truly is someone’s fault (most of the time for being lazy or greedy), but it is still an incredible weight hanging over your head when your practicing as a real estate professional. In my prior employment the worst that would happen is I would get fired, which in itself is a bad thing, but not nearly as bad as being saddled with a fine from someone suing you AND you possibly losing your job. It’s a scary thing, and only part of what a real estate sales professional has to deal with on a daily basis. One of the best ways of minimizing this is through proper training and if you can get it, working with someone who knows what they are doing so you can gain insight and real world knowledge by tagging along to real world situations. I was lucky enough to join an organization that provided both of those opportunities to me and I truly believe that it has helped me in certain situations to do the right thing and stay out of the courtrooms. I believe that I am a very stand up person and would never knowingly withhold information or provide incorrect information for my personal gain. With this said, I am still new to this industry and have a lot to learn, so where my inexperience may lack, it has been aided by a great training and mentoring program that has helped me fill in the gaps, relieving the fear of me doing something incorrectly and possibly leading down a road nobody wants to go.
If your still reading and I haven’t scared you off of becoming a real estate professional yet, this is where it gets good. What I have said above is only a small part of what is scary about your first year in real estate, there is much more but without writing a really boring 10 pages essay on it, I want to give you some of the finer points of why I am still here. After years of extensive travelling through work and years of sitting behind a desk I have experienced a good mix of what the majority of industries offer in terms of corporate and small business environments. Working for someone can be rewarding if you work for the right company, or have a boss that cares about you and your advancement. The reality is this doesn’t happen everywhere, or even in MOST places so why not consider something that tips the scales in the favour of your own life/career. One of the best things about being a real estate professional is that you are running your own business, it’s not something that many people get to say they have tried. You can work for a company, brand, etc… in this industry but at the end of the day you are your own boss and you have the final say in what it is that you do. Who better to look out for yourself and your career than you? Being a real estate professional gives you the ability to run things the way you want them to be run, and also when you sacrifice your time, energy, and ability; the end goal in your efforts is to ultimately reward yourself. I chose this industry because I feel I can make a positive impact with my clients and their lives all while creating an enjoyable lifestyle for myself. I love to see the smiles on people’s faces when they get the keys to their new home, or the handshake or hug you receive when you are able to sell someone’s house to help them move on to the next chapter in their lives. At the end of the day being a real estate professional is about more than just paying the bills and doing your own thing, it’s about helping people during important phases in their lives. A house/apartment/condo will be the single largest purchase 90% of people will ever make in their lives and it’s something that they will never forget having. How often do we hear of stories from people about when they lived in a house and had a certain story based upon their experiences there? At the end of the day it’s an amazing feeling to help people, and if you strive to make customers happy in this industry you will never have to worry about yourself making that next mortgage payment again!

If you would like to contact James, either leave a comment below, call him at 905-522-1110 or email him at

According to the REALTORS Association of Hamilton Burlington – November a strong seller’s market

(December 5, 2012 – Hamilton, Ontario) The REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB) reported the residential market saw an 8.5 per cent increase in average sale price in November compared to the same month last year. The median sale price also saw gains over November of last year.

“Our general market area continues to see rising average sale prices from last year,” said RAHB President Cameron Nolan. “That should not be understood to mean our area is less affordable than it was a year ago. We have a number of communities which showed very modest increases over last year or slight decreases. ”

Seasonally adjusted* sales of residential properties were 10.6 per cent lower than the same month last year, with the average sale price up 8.7 per cent for the month. Seasonally adjusted numbers of new listings were 2.3 per cent lower than the same month last year.

Actual overall residential sales were 11.8 per cent lower than last year at the same time. Freehold residential sales were 10.5 per cent lower than last year and the condominium market also saw a decline in sales with a 16.8 per cent decrease. The average sale price of freehold properties showed an increase of seven per cent over the same month last year, while the condominium market saw an increase of 14.8 per cent when compared to the same period.

The average sale price is based on the total dollar volume of all residential properties sold. Average sale price information can be useful in establishing long term trends, but should not be used as an indicator that specific properties have increased or decreased in value.

Year to date, the average sale price for residential units is eight per cent higher for the first eleven months of this year compared to the same 11-month period last year. Numbers of residential property sales are down six per cent and new listings are down 13 per cent.

“Our sales-to-listings ratio for the month of November was 85.4 per cent” said Nolan. “This is the same ratio we saw for the same month last year. Statistically, this indicates a very strong seller’s market for the month.”