Home Buying Myths and Misunderstandings

The following article was recently published by the National Association of REALTORS®, and I thought I would share the information.

Common Myths and Misunderstandings about Shopping for Homes”

You’ve been searching for homes online, driving by interesting properties in your car, and found one that looks perfect.  What do you do next?

Contact the agent featured on the yard sign and the online listing? While that may sound like the most logical step, it’s a common home buying mistake based on several myths and misunderstandings:

Assumption:  It’s best to contact the listing agent because they’re already familiar with the property. Sure, the agent on the yard sign knows that property, but that’s because they’ve been hired by the owners to help sell it.  That’s what listing agents do. Their job is to represent sellers in property transactions, marketing properties to potential buyers and helping sellers earn as much as possible on the sale.

Does that sound like an agent who will be looking out for YOUR best interest? Buyers would be better served if they avoid the listing agent (anything you tell them may hurt your negotiating position) and select a buyer’s agent to arrange a showing – someone who will represent your interests in a transaction.

Assumption:  I’ll save money on commissions if I work with the seller’s agent.  Not true.  Commissions paid to the buyer’s and seller’s agents are predetermined and written into the listing agreement; in most cases, if the listing agent brings a buyer to the table (because the buyer contacted them directly) that brokerage will earn both sides of the commission.

That means buyers don’t necessarily save anything by going directly to the listing agent.  More importantly, when a buyer approaches the listing agent, they’ve potentially lost a vital opportunity to receive loyalty, confidentiality and other fiduciary duties that buyer’s agents owe their clients.

Assumption:  All real estate agents are basically the same, so I might as well contact this one.  Again, not true.  As in all professions, some real estate agents deliver a higher standard of service than others.  One way to make sure you’re working with a professional who’s already received special training in representing buyers is to find an agent who’s earned their Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation – an official designation certified by the National Association of REALTORS®.

As I mentioned at the top, this article is care of the National Association of REALTORS®.  The information is equally applicable in our Canadian market, and there are local REALTORS® who have taken the time to complete the Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation, and are able to provide that higher level of service to buyers. If you are planning to buy a home, be sure to call Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate and ask for one of our ABR® accredited sales representatives. Exceptional service does not cost any more than average service does…

How to Win in Competing Offers

With the strong Seller’s market we are currently experiencing, this seems like a good topic to touch on.

If you are currently in the process of buying a home, you have likely come across a competing offer situation, whether you chose to compete or not.  The low inventory of homes currently on the market, and the ideal conditions to buy, have created a lot of frustration for buyers.

If you have found a home you would like to purchase and discover you are competing with others to buy the property, here are some suggestions:

  • Include as few conditions in your offer as you can.  If you wish a home inspection, consider having one done before the offers are presented. That way you know if you really wish to proceed with the purchase, and it also offers added assurance to the seller that you are sincere in your offer.
  • Be sure your finances are in order.  Don’t assume you can obtain the mortgage. Go to your bank/mortgage broker and have them do the complete approval for you.  That way there are no surprises for you or the seller.
  • Keep the time frame for your conditions as short as possible.  A couple days ensures the seller that you and your agent have done your homework, and it is just a case of final approvals, not full application.
  • If possible, try to match as many of the terms the seller is requesting, whether it be closing date, chattels they have offered to include, deposit amount etc.
  • Speaking of deposits, at times, offering a substantial deposit can assure the seller that you are a serious buyer.
  • Keep in mind that you most likely have only one chance to be the accepted offer.  Make your first offer your best.
  • When deciding how much to offer, don’t get carried away. Keep in mind that if you are financing your purchase, the appraisal will be what the bank looks at when they are determining how much mortgage they will advance you.  If you are getting an insured mortgage, the lending guidelines may be even more stringent.
  • Listen to your agent.  They have expertise in helping people buy homes.  They will help you make the right decisions, and will endeavour to negotiate your purchase on the best possible terms for you.
  • Don’t let frustration drive you to overpay for a home.  I have heard of buyers making offers on 8-10 homes before being successful in having their offer accepted.

Keep in mind that winning in competing offers is not always being the one that gets the offer accepted.  I believe it is only a win if you buy the right home at the right price.  Buy a home you really like, but don’t fall in love with it until you move in.  If you keep that in mind, you will not be in the mind frame of ‘buy at any cost’.  You can remain in control of your purchase.

If you are thinking of buying, be sure to have a skilled professional to help you. Call a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate – with our Ultimate Service Guarantee, we will always put your needs first.


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.

Celebrating OUR Community

We periodically recognize our sales reps for Ultimate Service and for sales performance.  I think we have been remiss in that we do not recognize our support staff, so when better than Administrative Professionals Week?

We are very fortunate to have a group of professional, experienced support staff who keep us on track.  We all see them day after day answering phones, processing listings, processing sales, creating marketing materials, paying us, and other brokers, but what we maybe don’t think of are the other ‘invisible’ things they do.

  • They are the ‘face’ of Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate.  Our customers and clients often speak to, or meet them first, and first impressions DO matter.
  • At times, they speak to our clients more than we do – making appointments for showings, and more
  • They also take the flak when we perhaps have not been in touch as much as we should…
  • They keep track of where everyone is – you – managers  – your clients…
  • They keep track of your paperwork, even when you don’t…
  • They help you promote yourself and your listings

I hope you can take a moment out of your day and thank these ladies for all that they do.  We would be lost without them.

My personal thank you goes out to Laura, Coyanne, Carolyn, Ellie, Kelly, Debbie, Cathy, Lola and Katharine.  You are all ULTIMATE SERVICE providers, and should be recognized every day for all you do.




Rate Your REALTOR® – Should You or Shouldn’t You?

rating copyWhy is everyone afraid of this concept?

Whenever this topic comes up for discussion, some REALTORS® start running for the hills. Not at Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate! We have been asking our customers to rate us for over 17 years. Our Ultimate Service program includes a customer survey which is sent to every buyer and seller who completes a transaction with our company. We actually ask people how we did! It’s no surprise to us that we receive a 98% favourable rating from our clients, and have for many years.

Many REALTORS® fear that if you let people rate your service, that the only people who will respond are those who want to complain. Sure, every once in a while, a buyer or seller does not have the perfect experience. That can happen for any number of reasons, and it is not realistic to think that it never will. At Coldwell Banker we just ensure that it is the rare exception, not the norm.

Every day we are now asked to rate our experience. How was your meal? how was the service? how was your stay at our hotel? how was your flight?… I am sure you have been asked your opinion many times, and perhaps responded only a few times, or maybe not at all. Some companies even offer you an incentive, whether it’s a chance to win a shopping spree, or a free appetizer. These companies are trying to improve  your customer experience, and they are not afraid to ask for your feedback.

At Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate, we welcome your feedback. If we can provide better service, let us know how. If your buying or selling experience was not as good as you expected, let us know, so we can improve how we service our next client. Our focus is on making sure that you, the client, receives the best possible service, and that you would recommend us to a friend – the greatest compliment we can receive, and the best endorsement of the service we provide.

If you want the best possible real estate experience, when you are ready to buy or sell real estate, call Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate. Only by working with one of our professionals, will you experience the highest level of customer service. And when we ask you to tell us how we did, please do!


This month we have been talking about Coldwell Banker® Pinnacle Real Estate’s Ultimate Service® and what that means for our clients and their home buying/selling experience. Today I would like to share with you a great customer service experience I had this week.

My daughter was home from university and asked if we could get her cell phone upgraded. Immediately I thought, OK that will take an entire evening. So we headed off to the Bell Mobility store to get her new phone.

Upon arrival, we were pleasantly surprised to see there were no cars in the parking lot. My daughter said, “Well we won’t have to wait long.” We were helped by a young man by the name of Marco. Right from the start I’m thinking this guy knows what great service is all about.

First he introduced himself and asked how he could help. My daughter told him what she wanted to accomplish with regards to her new phone. He listened very intently and asked more qualifying questions and again listed very carefully to make sure he had all the necessary information.

After taking this information, Marco provided my daughter with all the options available to her. Not once did he try to sell her on any particular service but rather counselled her on what package would fulfill her needs at this time.

After my daughter chose the new phone and service package he made all the necessary changes to her account as well as transferring all the data from the old phone to the new one. He did this without being asked. No one has ever offered to do that for me in the past. My daughter was very thankful.

So to all the customer service providers out there, including all you REALTORS®, take a lesson from Marco. Listen to what your client needs and wants, and make sure you provide your clients with all the necessary information, and options, to make a sound decision.

If you are looking for a REALTOR® to provide the same high level of service that Marco provided, then call one of our Coldwell Banker® Pinnacle Real Estate professionals.


Ultimate-Service-new-smaller copySince Ann and I have started this blog we have talked about  Coldwell Banker® Pinnacle’s ULTIMATE SERVICE® on several occasions. We have talked about our 98% Customer Satisfaction rating which we have achieved for the past 17 years. I wanted to take this a step further and ask the question, “What is ULTIMATE SERVICE®?

Let’s start with the definitions from the Encarta Dictionary for North America:

Ultimate – greatest, most nearly perfect, or highest in quality

Service – work done by somebody for somebody else as a job

Well, based on these definitions, I would say Coldwell Banker® Pinnacle Real Estate is doing just that – providing ULTIMATE SERVICE® to their clients.

How do we do that, you might ask? The following are a few tips of an ULTIMATE SERVICE® provider that can be used to improve any business, or to seek out when choosing a REALTOR®.

Friendliness – Most consumers are looking for companies and people they can trust. First impressions are very important. Does the client even like the person on the phone or behind the desk or service counter? If you are not coming across as a friendly voice or someone they can feel comfortable with quickly, you may not have a chance to get to the next level.

Smile – Did you know you can hear a smile over the phone? How about a frown, a smirk, or even lack of interest? If you want a potential client to believe in you, you have to earn their trust. As a service provider you need to make sure your enthusiasm and desire to work with that particular client are matched by your attitude and what you say. So put a smile on your face, it can go a long way to earning the trust of your client.

Communication – The #1 Complaint from consumers about REALTORS®, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, is lack of communication. Most REALTORS® are afraid to be the bearer of bad news so they are reluctant to call their clients. Studies show the quicker you communicate the better for everyone. If the REALTOR® has delivered the information, good or bad, the stress of making the call has been relieved and the client is now fully informed on the situation and the sense of trust will grow. Communicating in a timely fashion is a huge reason consumers remain loyal to individuals and their companies. They know they can trust the company or person to keep their best interests their #1 priority.

Listen – I think listening is the most important part of communicating. We’ve all heard the saying, “you have two ears and one mouth – use them proportionately”. Listening is a skill. To be successful service providers you need to learn and practice being a good listener. Consumers want to know they have been heard and you fully understand their concern or frustration. Knowing how to respond correctly is another skill. You need to show some empathy and allow your client to explain themselves fully before you try to solve their problem.

Exceed Expectations – Before you can exceed expectations you need to set expectations with your clients. Always do what you say you are going to do. If you can’t do it don’t say you will do it. In today’s real estate environment the level of expectations by consumers is so low you can rise above the pack by just doing what you said you would or following up when you said you would. Want to take it a step further? How about answering a query from your client tonight instead of tomorrow like you told them or sending a personal note or card saying how much you appreciate their business? Little touches like this will definitely set you apart from the pack!

Our Coldwell Banker® Pinnacle Real Estate professionals excel in all these areas and that is why we have had 98% Customer Satisfaction for the past 17 years. If you are looking for a brokerage who provides this kind of service or if you are a REALTOR® who would like to belong to a team who provides this high level of service please feel free to contact us anytime.