Moving With Pets

Like any family member, pets feel the stress of moving.

When moving, it’s important to organize ahead of time so that your pets will be comfortable. Here are some tips that’ll ensure a smooth move:

Plan Ahead – Create a detailed checklist ahead of time so that you can avoid any last minute stress that your pets will pick up on.

Pet Doc – Ask your vet for a referral if you’re moving out of town and make sure all of the shots are up to date.

Dog Tags – Remember to update all your pet’s tags and microchips with your new contact information.

Keep them Calm – Have someone look after your pets on moving day but if that’s not possible, keep them calm by housing them in a quiet room.

Doggie Bag – Prepare a well labeled and easily accessible overnight moving kit with everything you need to keep your pets happy.

Butter ‘em Up – Keep outdoor cats inside for at least a week so they can get familiar with their new home. Putting butter on their paws will help imprint the new house as home.

Moving can make pets extra anxious so try to keep to their usual routine as much as possible before, during and after the move as this will make the transition much smoother. Once you’re all moved in, give them lots of extra TLC!


This information was provided by the folks at .  For more great ideas, check out their site!

Exactly What is Our Company Product?

Product clipart copy
What does a real estate company really sell?

I am sure most people would say we sell houses/businesses
and the like. That may be the way of the past, but I don’t think that is true any more.

The true product of today’s full service real estate company (which we are) is the ability to interpret the information available to maximize the return on your investment. (i.e., the commission you pay a REALTOR® for that ability).

With the availability of information regarding asking and sale prices, along with the advent of fee for service companies, truly anyone can put their home on the market.  I believe the difference a full service company brings to you is the ability to know what the market in your particular area is doing.  Are prices increasing? Are there competing offers happening in the area? Is there a development (good or bad) in the area that may affect price? What are the trends in the market? Is there a current shortage of supply? What is happening with mortgage interest rates? Are there any government policy changes that may affect the saleability of a home, or the ability of a buyer to qualify for financing?

If you add to that the specific knowledge and training that REALTORS® have regarding marketing/promoting properties, I believe REALTORS® supply a very important product in their knowledge, interpretation, and implementation of information.

When you are looking to buy or sell what may be your largest financial asset, would you not hire a professional?  If you were thinking of investing $100,000 would you check the internet and make a decision, or would you check with someone who specializes in investing large sums of money, whether for the potential growth it might provide, or to ensure the security of the investment?  Many real estate sales today involve far more than this amount.

Keep in mind that fees are always negotiable.  Be sure to purchase the right real estate product for you – and I’m not talking about the four walls and a roof.

Be sure to call one of our real estate professionals and discuss the product they offer… you may find it’s more valuable than you anticipated.

What the CMHC Increase Really Means

This article recently appeared in Mark Weisleder’s newsletter, and also in the Toronto Star. It is good information for anyone looking to buy with less than 20% downpayment


CMHC announced that it is raising their rates on mortgage insurance effective May 1, 2014, by an average of 15 per cent. Although this is not good news for homebuyers, it does not mean that the sky is falling either. Here’s why:
If you are buying a home and have less than 20 per cent for the down payment, you need to obtain mortgage insurance, either through CMHC or a private insurance company such as Genworth Canada or Central Guaranty. The costs of the insurance are typically added to your mortgage and paid out over the 25 year amortized term.
The reason for mortgage insurance is that banks would likely not lend money to people who for example, only had saved 5 per cent for the down payment, unless the mortgage was insured. CMHC essentially guarantees the loan to the bank so that if the borrower defaults and the property is sold at a loss, CMHC pays the difference. CMHC claims that they need to raise the premiums so that they have more capital reserves in case more consumers default on their mortgages in the future.
For example, if you have a 5% down payment today and you wish to borrow $300,000, the cost for the mortgage insurance is 2.75% or $8,250. You do not pay for this up front. Instead, it gets added to your mortgage debt so you would borrow a total of $308,250 to net $300,000. Under the new rules, the rate would increase to 3.15%, or $9,410, so you would borrow a total of $309,410 to net the same $300,000.
If you took a 5 year mortgage at 3.49% interest today, your monthly payment would rise from $1,537 per month, to $1,543. This is an increase of $6 per month.
Some say that this could now make a home unaffordable for many first time buyers. I disagree. While no one likes any increase in costs, we are still in a historic period of extremely low interest rates. Compare this to 1990, when interest rates were 12 per cent. The same mortgage would cost you $3,193 per month. In 2008, when the interest rate was 7 per cent, the payment would have been $2,167 per month.

It seems that every day someone else comes out with a prediction on the future direction of house prices in Canada. For every bank economist who says that we will still see stable growth over the next few years, there are others who predict a soft landing, with perhaps a price correction of 2 to 3 per cent. And then others predict that we are headed for a major price crash of 20 per cent over the next 5 years. All I know is that we have seen a period of steady growth in the Canadian real estate market for the past 14 years, despite many earlier predictions of crashes. Canada remains one of the most stable places in the world to live and raise a family.
Buyers, the main message is that you do not have to rush out and buy a home to beat the May 1, 2014 date when the mortgage insurance rates go up. It is more important to just make sure you can afford the home you are interested in and that you properly inspect any home before you buy it.

if you would like more information about Mark Weisleder, or it you wish to contact him, visit his website at

Should I Wait For The Spring Market?

With all the snow today, it’s hard to believe that Spring may be just around the corner.

Traditionally home owners have been advised to wait for the “spring market” to put their home up for sale. Spring markets often start long before we see the first blade of grass, much less, the spring flowers.

In the Hamilton/Burlington area, we have experienced a prolonged shortage of homes for sale, which has resulted in a number of disappointed buyers, either who have not found the home they wish to purchase, or who have lost out in competition while trying to buy the home they like.

If you are planning to put your home up for sale this spring, don’t wait. Take advantage of the lack of competition you will have for the buyers. Also, interest rates remain at all times lows, making homeownership affordable for more potential buyers. Also, some buyers are anxious to find a home before May 1st this year when CMHC mortgage insurance fees are set to increase.

There are more things to consider than just the nice weather if you are looking to sell your home. Take time to call one of our Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professionals and discuss what is your best strategy to get the results you want.

Real Estate How To’s

chck copyAs a blogger, I follow of number of Blogs to find out what people are talking about, and to share ideas with fellow bloggers.

This month Gary and I have had the underlying topic of How To ____?____. I decided to fill in the blank this month with “Obtain some really good advice on real estate”.

One particular Blog I find interesting is The KCM Blog. It covers a variety of real estate related topics, some directed at REALTORS® and some at the consumer. I have pulled 4 recent posts that are directed to the consumer. I think they have some good suggestions. I hope you will read on, and see if you agree…

3 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home
If you are thinking about purchasing a home right now, you are surely getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in real estate. Let’s look at whether or not now is actually a good time for you to buy a home.
There are three questions you should ask before purchasing in today’s market:
1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?
This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with finances. A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University reveals that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of the space

What non-financial benefits will you and your family derive from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?
When looking at future housing values, we like the Home Price Expectation Survey. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.
Here is what the experts projected in the latest survey:

  • Home values will appreciate by 4.3% in 2014.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 28% by 2018.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of over 16.8% by 2018.

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?
A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by an increase in mortgage rates.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase by approximately one full percentage over the next twelve months.

Bottom Line
Only you and your family can know for certain the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.


4 Things You Need from Your Listing Agent
Are you thinking of selling your home? Are you dreading having to deal with strangers walking through the house? Are you concerned about getting the paperwork correct? Hiring a professional real estate agent can take away most of the challenges of selling. A great agent is always worth more than the commission they charge just like a great doctor or great accountant. You want to deal with one of the best agents in your marketplace. To do this, you must be able to distinguish the average agent from the great one. Let us help.
If we were hiring an agent to sell our home today, we would require that they:

1. Understand the timetable with which my family is dealing
You will be moving your family to a new home. Whether the move revolves around the start of a new school year or the start of a new job, you will be trying to put the move to a plan. This can be very emotionally draining. Demand from your agent an appreciation for the timetables you are setting. I am not suggesting that your agent can pick the exact date for your move. You just want the agent to exert any influence they can.

2. Remove as many of the challenges as possible
It is imperative that your agent know how to handle the challenges that will arise. An agent’s ability to negotiate is critical in this market.
Remember: If you have an agent who was weak negotiating with you on the parts of the listing contract that were most important to them (commission, length, etc.), don’t expect them to turn into Superman when they are negotiating for you with your buyer.

3. Help with the relocation
If you haven’t yet picked your new home, make sure the agent is capable and willing to help you. The coordination of the move is crucial. You don’t want to be without a roof over your head the night of the closing. Likewise, you don’t want to end up paying two housing expenses (whether it is rent or mortgage). You should, in most cases, be able to close on your current home and immediately move into your new residence.

4. Get the house SOLD!
There is a reason you are putting yourself and your family through the process of moving. You are moving on with your life in some way. The reason is important or you wouldn’t be dealing with the headaches and challenges that come along with selling. Do not allow your agent to forget these motivations. Constantly remind them that selling the house is why you hired them. If they discover something needs to be done to attain your goal (i.e. price correction, repair, removing clutter), insist they have the courage to inform you.

Make sure you let your agent know what you and your family expect from them.

Next up…

Difference Between a ‘White Lie’ and Lying
Growing up it seemed ‘white lies’ were okay while lying was a sin. As children, we sometimes had difficulty understanding where the line was. As we matured, we realized there most definitely was a difference.

If a husband or wife asks if it is okay to invite their parents over for dinner, the spouse would probably say ‘sure’ even if it wasn’t 100% the truth. That was a ‘white lie’. If a young boy dresses up as a monster on Halloween and asks his father if he looks ‘really scary’, it was okay for his dad to say ‘YES’! That was a ‘white lie’.
In both cases, the person telling the ‘white lie’ was saying what the other person wanted to hear. In both cases, there was no harm in not telling the 100% truth. In both cases, it was a ‘white lie’. However, if we are not telling the 100% truth in order to save someone’s feelings AND IT HURTS THEM, we are lying.

What does this have to do with real estate?
We believe there are some in the real estate industry more worried about a homeowner’s feelings than they are about telling the truth about the current value of their home. These agents are not necessarily malicious. They just realize they may disappoint a seller at a listing appointment by telling the truth about what the house will sell for. They find it difficult to deliver tough news. To make sellers feel better, they lie.

Good agents can deliver good news. Great agents know how to deliver tough news.

In today’s real estate market, you need an agent that will tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it. You need an agent more worried about your family than they are about your feelings. You need an agent who can get the house sold!

What this means to you
If you are interviewing potential listing agents, demand they tell you the truth. Don’t hire the agent that tells you what you want to hear. Hire the agent that tells you what you need to know. Reward their honesty.

And finally…

The Two Things You Don’t Need to Hear from Your Listing Agent

You’ve decided to sell your house. You begin to interview potential real estate agents to help you through the process. You need someone you trust enough to:

Set the market value on possibly the largest asset your family owns (your home)
Set the time schedule for the successful liquidation of that asset
Set the fee for the services required to liquidate that asset
An agent must be concerned first and foremost about you and your family in order to garner that degree of trust.  Make sure this is the case.

Be careful if the agent you are interviewing begins the interview by:
Bragging about their success
Bragging about their company’s success

An agent’s success and the success of their company can be important considerations when deciding on the right real estate professional to represent you in the sale of the house. However, you first need to know they care about what you need and what you expect from the sale. If the agent is not interested in first establishing your needs, how successful they may seem is much less important.
Look for someone with the ‘heart of a teacher’ who comes in prepared well enough to explain the current real estate market and patient enough to take the time to show how it may impact the sale of your home. Not someone only interested in trying to sell you on how great they are.

You have many agents from which to choose. Pick someone who truly cares.

I hope you found these interesting. The statistics quoted were from U.S. sources, but the Canadian numbers are very similar.

If you are thinking of Buying or Selling, I am confident that all of our Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professionals will provide you with the answers and the service outlined above. We all believe that The Customer is number one, not us.

If you would like to follow the KCM Blog, the link is

How is Your Year Going So Far?

goal copyYes, I know it’s only January.

At the end of each year we spend time setting goals for the following year. Whether we write them down or not, we do give it some thought, and if asked, would say that we goals. But, do we really implement them?

Did you know that as a REALTOR® you can determine how your year is going by the end of the first quarter? Studies show that by the end of March each year, the average REALTOR® has written 40% of the business they are going to do for the year.

So, assuming this is true, what are you doing to get your business off to a great start?

Are you participating in training to make yourself a more effective REALTOR®?
Are you reading books that will help you improve yourself, and in turn, your business?
Are you calling your past clients?
Are you taking clients out to lunch and asking for help in building your business?
Are you keeping in contact with people so they know you are interested in them, and in turn encouraging them to help you?
Are you following up on those business appointments you had last year that have not yet resulted in business?

These are just a few suggestions on how to kick start your year. You may be thinking “I don’t have time to do all that stuff” or “I don’t need to do that” or “that will never work”, or even, ‘What’s the panic, it’s only the middle of January?”. Each of those statements are true, if that’s what you believe. My only suggestion is that if you are not on track to do the volume of business you want this year, perhaps it is time to take some action.

Write down those goals. Make sure they are realistic, and truly reflect what you can/want to accomplish this year.

Figure out what your WHY is… there must be some driving force to get you working on your goals. If your reason is important enough, nothing will prevent you from getting there.

I hope you take the time to review what you are doing, and what you intend to achieve by year end, even if you look at it 10 days at a time…

You will be surprised by what you can do, if you just take time to decide what you really want.

So, What Will 2014 Bring Us?

crystal ball copyYes, it’s crystal ball time again. I haven’t asked mine to show us our future for a couple years, so I thought perhaps it was time to gaze through the mists yet again.

As 2013 wound down on the calendar, the real estate market didn’t really pay any attention. Almost always, it’s expected that the market will be very slow through the holiday season, and pick up when our “Spring Market” appears. Well, from what I saw in December, we had best stand back and prepare for the rush, as the market never really slowed for the holidays.

As I gaze into my crystal ball, I see a very robust market, continuing with little or no break at the first of the year. I see more people placing their homes on the market, as they see that the buyer’s are out there looking to purchase.

I see the mortgage rates staying at their record making lows, encouraging families to move up to that larger home, or perhaps buy that fixer upper that could be perfect with just a few renos…

I see first time buyers, who have spent a couple years saving up more downpayment (since the changes to the mortgages rules) ready now to become homeowners, and fortunately still be able to take advantage of low interest rates.

I see more confidence in our economy. The US has struggled for a number of years, and has now managed to regain their real estate market. As they have experienced recovery, we have become more confident that they will not drag us into an economic slow down. I see our unemployment numbers improving, also helping to increase confidence in our market.

I see more people looking to the real estate profession as a career choice, recognizing that it is an ideal business for entrepreneurs, knowing that through education and training, that they can become very successful REALTORS®.

As for what I see regarding Pinnacle Real Estate, I see a growing group of real estate professionals, helping others in many ways, dedicated to making our community the best place to live and work . Yes, helping people buy and sell real estate, buy also helping within our community. I see us continuing to volunteer, participating in runs, walks, bike rides, whatever to help raise funds for our local charities, I see us hosting a garage sale to raise money to help families at the holiday season, I see us sponsoring events, participating in food and toy drives, for that matter I see so many images flashing by, that I can’t keep up. I see a group of individuals who enjoy working together, and who will have a very successful 2014.

Well, the crystal ball is going dark, it has shared all it wants to right now…

All the best for 2014. I truly believe this year will be as good as you want it to be…