Since we are talking about customer service this month I was compelled to share this story with you.

This past summer when I was on vacation on Lovesick Lake about 20 miles north of Peterborough I had some car trouble on the Friday morning the day before we were to return home. My battery light came on so I decided to drive my car to the nearest service station, Steve’s Auto Service, which was referred to me by a friend who had needed their service in the past. My car broke down on the side of the highway so I called the garage and explained my situation. The service manager, Alisha was very pleasant on the phone and extremely helpful – a great first impression. She arranged for a tow truck to come and pick up my car.

When I arrived at the garage with the tow truck and my car I realized this was a very busy operation. This is usually a great indicator of a successful business. After explaining to Alisha that I was returning home the next morning and I needed the car repaired as soon as possible she said she would have the car assessed as quickly as possible.

Since they were so busy they never had a chance to look at the car until around 4PM. They discovered I needed a new alternator. The parts manager, Kim started calling all the auto parts supply companies in the surrounding areas only to find out there was no alternator to be found. As it was the Labour Day Weekend the shop was closed for the weekend. I pleaded with Alisha as we needed to get home as we had to move our daughter to university on the Sunday. I asked Alisha if there was anything they could do to get me out of this predicament and this is when the owner Steve Jorgenson got involved.

Steve said he would have the part sent by overnight courier and he would come in personally on Saturday morning to do the installation. He called us at 9am Saturday morning to say the car was ready for pick up.  We were very grateful to have avoided what could have been a very inconvenient situation.

This is a perfect example of someone going the extra mile to make sure the customer is satisfied. I give great kudos to Steve and his entire team as they are perfect examples of what great customer service is all about. So if you find yourself experiencing car problems when you’re in the Lakefield area I highly recommend Steve’s Auto Service.

If you are looking for a REALTOR® who provides this level of service be sure to call Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate and ask to speak with one of our sales representatives. You can reach us at 905-388-1110 or 905-522-1110

Should I Rent or Should I Buy?

When is the right time to buy and when is the right time to rent?

As a REALTOR® I would like to be able to say that a person should always buy a home instead of rent. Sadly that is not always the case. A variety of circumstances could suggest that renting is the right route to go. Here are a few:

 If you are unsure you will be staying in the area for a reasonable period of time – Sometimes people are excited by the opportunities available to buy but don’t consider that they will likely be moving in a short period of time. Perhaps a job transfer is looming, or maybe a marriage with plans to relocate to your new spouse’s hometown is on the near future.  Real estate like any investment has costs involved, and if you are purchasing a home with a minimal down payment, when the time comes to sell you may not have had time to build up enough equity to pay all the selling expenses.

If you have a personal bankruptcy on your credit history that has not been discharged for a number of years – lenders will lend to individuals who have declared bankruptcy, but only after the individual has shown that they have their financial picture back on track for an extended period of time.

 If you are really stretching it to get your down payment and closing costs together – the dream of owning your own home can sometimes overshadow your other dreams. When you are deciding if the time is right to buy a home, consider your other dreams.  Do you want to buy a new car? Do you enjoy going on vacations?  Do you like to go out frequently for meals and entertainment?  I am not saying you can’t do these things and buy a home, but don’t get yourself so committed to mortgage payments that you do not have money left over for the day to day things you enjoy.

Some of the advantages to buying as opposed to renting are:

You are building up equity in your property every time you make a mortgage payment. Part of each payment is applied to paying off the original amount you borrowed, with the idea that at the end of the amortization period of your mortgage you would owe nothing against your home.  This is just a concept, since as a REALTOR® I hope you will move a number of times over the common 25 years amortization period.

As a long term investment, real estate has been shown to be one of the best ways to increase your investment capital. Like most investments, ones that you buy, maintain, and hold for a long period bring you the highest return on investment.  Home ownership has enabled many families over time to keep investing in more expensive homes, utilizing only their initial down payment from their first home purchase. Remember, your personal residence does not attract any capitals gains tax when it is sold, unlike many other forms of investment.

Another perhaps less apparent benefit of home ownership is that studies have shown that the children of families that own homes are more likely to complete higher levels of education, more likely to vote in our federal elections, and more likely to continue the tradition of home ownership.

These are just a few of the things to consider when deciding if homeownership is the right choice for you right now.

If you are trying to decide if this is the right time for you to get into home ownership, I encourage you to call one of our sales representatives.  They are all qualified to sit down with you and review your current circumstances. They will help you decide on your best course of action, and yes, they will sometimes tell you that renting is the right choice for you right now.  But, they will also help you work out a plan to become a home owner, maybe not this month, but at some time in the near future.  Don’t hesitate to ask for information, that’s just one of the ways in which REALTORS®  help.

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.

It’s Time To Brag!

I love to receive calls from our clients.  I know some managers cringe when they’re told they have a call waiting, and the person asked specifically for the manager, but I don’t.

Sure, at times I get calls from customers or clients with a problem or complaint regarding a sale or purchase of property, but sometimes they call to say what a great experience they had and I really enjoy those calls. I’ve commented before on our customer service guarantee, Ultimate Service, but now I want to show you some real life comments that client have written to us about our sales people.

By nature we are always willing to talk about poor service, but these people had such a great experience a with Coldwell Banker sales rep they wanted to share it!

“Service”, Trustworthy, honest, very satisfied on sale of my house.

Fast responses to questions – buying at the same time – quick to make appointments to see homes.  Knowledge, professional information packages – thorough research on neighbourhood.  Friendly caring service – rep made us feel that he was really working for our benefit.

Professional, efficient, personable and honest

Very professional!

The professionalism.  The selling procedure was explained to me in great detail.  My REALTOR® kept me ‘in the loop’ at all times.  Communication was excellent.

Your company has an excellent reputation and it is much deserved  My REALTOR® displayed professionalism, interest, caring and a desire to ‘get the job done’. Thank you!

I have great confidence in Judi’s service and ability whether I am vendor or purchaser.  She makes the sale happen even when I think the trail is cold.

She gave me constant moral support in the sale process and worked exceptionally hard for the buy side.

She cared!  Sue Hale is the sales representative everyone should be fortunate enough to have.

Effective, timely professional, knowledgeable, hard-working sales rep

We were most pleased with the professional and yet friendly manner that the agent had with us and with prospective purchasers and above all his integrity.  We felt totally safe placing our home in his hands.

Agent went out of his way to find the right home for us.  Nothing was too much trouble.  Excellent service!

No pressure, understood our needs, constant support during stressful times.

Nancy was professional, knowledgeable, reliable and her kindness made the process extremely easy.

Sal was a pleasure to work with buying our first home.  He was patient, attentive, and most of all professional.  I would certainly recommend him.

Bonnie was very friendly, informative and always available.  Made buying a home for the first time easy and stress free.

Rob is extremely pleasant to work with.  I truly appreciated the well executed MLS® presentation and his dedication shown in all the open houses.

Nancie is incredibly knowledgeable and took all the time we needed to help us understand process as first time buyers.  Incredible customer service and responded to our inquiries at all time of day.  Always made herself available. Knew/understood our wishes and found us an incredible home!

Joan provided us with very sound advice consistent with our needs.  As first time buyers we found her very helpful. She has a great personal touch! 

His honesty & commitment to satisfying all needs.  Very personable and easy to deal with.  Great experience!

Fast, efficient, pleasant.  Sales reps were always there to help!  Went above and beyond expectations.  Amazing!  Thank you.

Cathy Toriello is straight forward, honest and great to deal with.  She will be our sales rep for life!

Cathy was professional, diligent, knowledgeable and had our best interests at heart.


Reading these, you can see why I don’t worry when someone calls looking for the manager… odds are, it’s a good conversation waiting to happen.

I hope your buying or selling experience was as good as the ones described by our clients.  Let me know, I welcome input on your experiences with ‘customer service’.