You Asked, So Here are Some Answers…

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There are some questions about real estate we hear all the time, so I have polled some of the professionals in our office to get their answers, and have shared their responses below.  Should you have any questions not addressed here, we will gladly get you the answer.

 DO I REALLY NEED A HOME INSPECTION?

The answer is a resounding YES. 

Here are a few of the particular reasons why.

  • To review the home in more detail and ideally see aspects of the property that the naked eye can’t see.
  • Even pros miss things in homes, and it’s better to have someone that does it for a living looking with you to see the issues. 
  • Although things may look normal to the untrained eye, a professional home inspector has specialized equipment that may uncover such conditions as water and mould issues.
  • Missed problems can result in large cash outlays.

IS HOME STAGING WORTH THE COST?

Again, across the board agreement, YES.

  • In some cases staging can turn a plain Jane house into a modern looking up to date home which in turn will likely produce a higher selling price.
  • Especially in a vacant home, staging better displays room sizes and layout.  In homes with less ideal floor plans, it allows potential buyers to see what can be done and envision themselves living there.
  • Having the property “show” ready will attract more potential buyers and ideally sell faster.
  • You will net 5-10 times more than you pay for staging for a nice looking house.  Not everyone can see “the potential”, so just show it to them.

DO I NEED A REALTOR®?

Of course, our answer is YES.

  • We represent your interests while negotiating the fine details of the agreement and the transaction.
  • A REALTOR® will guide you through the process; assist with the paperwork, market the property, negotiate, and take the stress off the seller or buyer.
  • Your home is your largest investment.  Navigating your way through a real estate transaction can be very complicated, from arranging financing, qualifying buyers, knowing what should and should not be disclosed.  Also a REALTOR® will know what is taking place in the current market and will help the seller price it right or make sure the buyer doesn’t overpay.

SHOULD I TALK TO A MORTGAGE BROKER OR A BANK?

YES you should, and using a Mortgage Broker seems to be the recommended choice.

  • Every buyer and seller should talk to their banker or mortgage broker prior to entering into a purchase or sale.  The buyer should be pre-qualified for a mortgage and seller needs to verify if there are any penalties with regards to their mortgage.
  • You should know what you can afford to avoid wasting time and facing disappointment. 
  • Either can assist.  Mortgage brokers shop all the lenders for you and are able to have plans B, C, and D ready just in case.  They also tend to be more accessible.
  • Mortgage Brokers can sometimes get better rates than bank employee pricing, plus they have a variety of products to choose from.

CAN I BUY A HOME IF I HAVE BEEN BANKRUPT?

Depending upon where you are in the bankruptcy process, yes it is possible.

  • You must be discharged from you bankruptcy.
  • I would recommend building your credit back first so that you aren’t susceptible to ridiculous interest rates.

DOES NEIGHBOURHOOD MATTER FOR RESALE?

ABSOLUTELY!

  • Location, location, location.  It’s all about what the neighbourhood offers that attracts buyers.
  • The best house in the worst area may sell well, but the best or worst home in the more desirable area will definitely appeal to more future buyers.
  • Location, location, location, but that said, more areas are in transition and being developed and  I’m seeing it now as location, renovation, location.
  • Certain neighbourhoods are more desirable and for different reasons.  Being close to transportation and shopping may be important to some while schools, parks, and hiking trails may appeal to other buyers.

ARE CORNER LOTS BETTER?

This is strictly personal preference.

  • Keep in mind in the city there could be more traffic and more upkeep to the property, such as snow removal from two sides.
  • Less privacy, less usable yard at times, usually more grass to cut and snow to shovel…

HOW MANY HOMES SHOULD I LOOK AT BEFORE I PICK ONE?

There is no right answer.

  • You will know within 15 seconds of being in a home if it’s the right one.  There is a feeling you get.  Could be the first house, could be the 101st.  
  • On average it seems to be 10-12.
  • There is no magic number, you will just know.
  • It does happen on the rare occasion that a buyer will buy the first house they viewed, however buyers often don’t really know what they are looking for or what they like, until they start looking.

 

My thanks to our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals members, Natalie Hashka, Daniela Tofano, James Mink and Gary Herron for taking time to provide their input on the above questions.  If you have more questions, or would like information, give one of them a call.  They will be glad to help you make an informed decision. They can all be reached at 905-522-1110.

You Truly Do Get What You Pay For

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Real Estate commissions are too high!  Discount brokerages beat this drum all the time, but is it true?  Is a full service brokerage charging too much for what they do?  Do discount or flat fee brokerages provide exactly the same service, and more importantly, results, as a full service brokerage?

Here is the breakdown of what our company, Coldwell Banker Community Professionals, a full service brokerage, does for every one of our seller clients as a MINIMUM STANDARD.

  • We will fully explain your representation alternatives, and how they will affect your sale
  • We will create, with you, a marketing action plan to get your property sold
  • We will provide you with a comprehensive Competitive Market Analysis (CMA)
  • We will show you various financing alternatives and how they may help facilitate the sale of your home
  • We will furnish you with an estimated net proceeds of your sale, to assist you in your future plans
  • We will help enhance your home, by developing  a plan to showcase your property and enhance its ability to attract buyers
  • We will present your property to the Coldwell Banker sales team
  • We will promote your property to other reputable, professional Brokers and Sales Representatives who service your area
  • We will place your property on the LOCAL Multiple Listing Service
  • We will create a marketing resource to promote the details of your property, including specific highlights and photos/videos of your property, and showcase it online
  • We will prepare promotional materials regarding your property and arrange for their distribution to target market areas to attract potential buyers
  • We will offer to place a Coldwell Banker Community Professionals FOR SALE sign on your property to help generate calls to our office from prospective buyers
  • We will review with you our comprehensive marketing program designed to generate buyer prospects for your property.  We will explain how our placement on multiple websites will maximize the exposure of your property to potential buyers.  We will also discuss how we track online activity and more…
  • We will provide you with regular Marketing Activity Reports on competitive market conditions, buyer activity and the actions taken to market your property
  • We will review with you the home finding process that buyers are most likely to follow including financial qualifications, property selections, financing options and closing procedures
  • We will seek financial qualifying information on all buyers submitting an offer to purchase on your property.
  • We will review all purchase offers as they are presented, and we will negotiate on your behalf to reach a purchase agreement with terms that are favourable and protective for you
  • We will monitor and inform you of the progress of the transaction including the satisfaction of all contingencies and conditions during the transaction
  • We will contact you after the closing to follow up on any remaining details or service needs
  • We will provide you with details of our relocation and referral services, which are available to you at no cost regardless of where you are moving

The above is a list of the basic services offered.  Many of our real estate professionals offer additional services, whether it be staging, or pre-inspections, for example.

Also, our sales professionals are trained in negotiation skills, ensuring you have a strong advocate for your needs at the time of an offer presentation.

These steps that our sales professionals take, ensure that sellers net more from their home sale by using a full service REALTOR®.  The increased sale price reflects the benefit having a real estate professional on your side can make.

To find out what we can do for you, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals today.

Is the Real Estate Market Changing?

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“GTA home sales plunge as much as 61 per cent”.

Headlines like the one above might lead you to believe the market has crashed and home values have plummeted. Nothing could be further from the truth.

2017 has seen a very overheated market during the first 5 months. The lack of homes for sale in the Hamilton and the surrounding GTA markets has pushed up prices and created a very competitive marketplace. The competition has led to multiple offers, generating sale prices well above the asking price for homes. This made it very challenging for homeowners and REALTORS® to determine the market value of homes.

As the market has eased in the last few weeks, buyers are finding they are not always in competition to buy a home, and have the luxury of being able to include conditions in their offers whether it be for financing, home inspection, or anything else. The market has also made it possible for REALTORS® to actually negotiate for their buyers and sellers.

The change in the market has also caused REALTORS® to have a closer look at how they are pricing and marketing homes. If you have been trying to buy a home, the one line that you hate to see in a listing is “no offers until…”, as you know you will likely be having to compete to buy the home. While there is still competition in the market, we are no longer seeing the huge numbers of offers, not the selling prices well above the asking price. In fact, we see some sellers who have opted to wait until a set date to view offers not receiving the competition they had hoped for. In some instances, these sellers are relisting their property at a higher price, and removing the time frame for offers.

As the market changes, both buyers and sellers will need to revise their approaches. The buyers are gaining the opportunity to take some time to make sure the home they are buying is the right fit for them, and to satisfy themselves regarding any conditions they need to meet.
On the other hand, the sellers are discovering that they may not obtain the unbelievably high price for their home that the neighbour did just a couple weeks ago. Also, it may take more than a week to list, market and sell their home.

As the market changes, it is important to have a professional REALTOR® in your corner, helping you make the right choice and negotiating the best possible price for you. If you are thinking about buying or selling, be sure to call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professional representatives. They will be able to help you in making the decisions that are right for you!

The Price is Right!

When you are ready to sell, determining what price to offer your home to buyers at can be much like playing The Price is Right with Bob Barker.

If you ask 4 people what your home is worth, you will get 4 different answers, no doubt one so low you will scoff at their judgement and one so high you only hope they are right.

In our current market, pricing your home right when you put it on the market is very important. The buyers who have been looking for a home, and likely have made many offers without success, have seen all the homes comparable to yours, and are very educated on price. When they see a home come on the market listed much above current market value, they tend to not even consider it. They believe either the seller is being unrealistic, or that they have time to wait for the price reduction.

It can be difficult as a home owner to look at the prices being paid for homes, and not think you should list yours at the price just attained by the house down the street. Well priced homes are currently attracting multiple offers, which tends to drive the final sale price up, sometimes to levels not previously achieved by similar homes. At times, if a property is the only home available, and has very desirable features, it will obtain an unrealistically high selling price, only because it is the only one available.

When a REALTOR® provides you with a Market Evaluation of your home, they take into consideration what has sold, what is currently available, and what has been rejected by the market. They have the expertise and knowledge to look at the sale prices of properties, and the events surrounding the sale to determine how they compare to your home. Combining this knowledge with information regarding other properties that are currently for sale (your competition) and also considering properties that have been on the market for a longer period of time (seemingly overpriced) they can provide you with a recommended range in which to offer your home for sale.

Many sellers are concerned that the suggested price range is too low. They see a similar house that sold for maybe $50,000 more that the price being recommended to them. The other home may have received 15 offers, driving the price higher. As a seller, you must price your home to attract the competitive offers in order to realize the highest sale price. Pricing at top dollar may very well discourage a number of the potential buyers of your home, and possibly make competition unlikely.

If you are considering selling your home, and would like an honest opinion and marketing plan, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals representatives. They will provide you with a comprehensive evaluation, and help you make the right decision.

How Long Should You Wait?

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What is the price of procrastination currently in real estate?

The real estate market right now is difficult for buyers. The lack of properties to select from, and the competition to buy what is available is making some people think they should just wait until the market is better.

In real estate, waiting can be good for you or bad for you, depending on how different variables change. For example, the interest rate in the United States has started to edge up, and history would tell us that Canada will soon follow the example south of the border. The rate was just increased .25% in the U.S. It may not seem like much, but first, it is a sign that rates are going to increase to some extent, and also, we may not see historically low rates again for some time.

The .25% rate increase on a $250,000 mortgage could mean a difference of $31.84 per month. An increase of 1% could mean a difference of $130.11 per month. Over the term of a mortgage, the increase in payments tend to add up significantly.

If home prices continue to increase at the rate they have over the past year (close to 30% gain in one year), many buyers will be priced out of the market, as incomes are not increasing at a rate that would enable people to meet the extra costs. For example, a $400,000 home in today’s market could be $520,000 in one year’s time, assuming another 30% gain. Today, if you were putting down 10% ($40,000), the $360,000 mortgage would have a monthly payment of approximately $1650.00. The same house with a 30% increase would have a monthly mortgage payment of approximately $2150.00 per month, and the 10% downpayment would be $52,000. Same home, one year later (assuming mortgage rates don’t change). As you can see, the same home can cost you a larger downpayment, and in this example, $500 per month more in a mortgage payment.

If you are ready to buy, and have been waiting for the right time, maybe you should quit waiting!

Call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals representatives and see if now is the right time for you! They will help you look at all the possibilities to ensure you make the right decision.

Welcome Spring!

The calendar says Spring is here, even if the weather doesn’t.

Traditionally Spring is the time of year when new real estate listings flood the market, and everyone gets busy. The market this year has been going at a record breaking pace, but in spite of that, I hope that home owners will get excited by spring, and decide to put their homes on the market.

We have been experiencing an unprecedented shortage of homes for the number of buyers looking. Many feel the only way to correct the shortage is to have the government intervene, enacting more laws and restrictions.

These actions in the past year seem to have hurt the very buyers they were trying to help. New mortgage rules have made it more difficult for first time buyers to obtain a mortgage, only adding to the problem of soaring prices, and making it harder for them to save for the downpayment necessary.

There is talk of the government placing a foreign investor tax on those buying in the Toronto market, to help ease the inventory shortage, but those in the market say it’s not foreign investors causing the problem.

Many experts says that the only way out of the housing shortage is for more new homes to be built, in recognition of a slow down in new home construction last year.

Perhaps the seemingly easiest solution is for us all to get on with life. Many home owners I speak to are waiting. Waiting to see if prices go up. Waiting to see if more homes will come on the market for them to select from. Waiting to see if interest rates are going up. All these events are likely going to happen… the unknown is just how soon. If everyone who has been considering moving put their home on the market, perhaps our greatest issue would be solved – lack of properties to buy.

If you would like to find out if now is the right time for you to make a move, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals reps. They will be glad to help you make the right decision.

Oh No! I Sold My Home!

ce4a9f30cb42bf341ab2aa815aed136a_real-estate-sold-sign-lindsay-house-sold-sign-clipart_1000-750Are you afraid to sell your home in case you can’t find one to buy?

This seems to be the impasse  many potential sellers are stuck at. The market right now has such a low inventory of homes to buy, many people are putting off selling, even though they have many reasons that now would be a good time to sell.

If you are in this position, you have a lot of things to consider.

By not moving, are you putting off plans that would be better for your family?
Financially, is now a good time to sell?
If you haven’t sold your home, can you buy your dream home if it came on the market tomorrow?
If you can’t find your dream home, are you willing to rent a property until you find the right one?
Are you tired of carrying the household costs on large home that is more than you need?
Can you afford to own two homes?

If you are being held back by one of these concerns, or another not mentioned, take some time and determine whether there is a answer should you sell your home and become “homeless”.

Are you fortunate enough to have a second home where you could live temporarily while waiting for the right home to come on the market?
Are you prepared to rent accommodation while looking for the right house?
You might be able to negotiate a long closing on your current home, to allow you time to find the right home.
Do you have family members with extra space for you to stay with if the need arises?
Is there another solution which would enable to you move now?

Not everyone is prepared to put their home on the market without knowing where they are going next, but maybe you are.

Being homeless is not as bad as you might think. I sold my home last summer, and am currently renting a home while I look for just the right property. Is it perfect?, no, but it provides the freedom to be in control when I do find the right property. As a buyer with no home to sell, and the ability to match most any closing date a seller might request, I am in a good negotiating position.

So, are you ready to put your home on the market? Be sure to call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals to discuss what your options are.