Green Acres is the Place to Be!

farmhouse-exteriorAre you a closet Eddie Albert? Is the country calling your name?

While there are more urban than rural homes sold in any month in the local market, a large physical area of the Hamilton/Burlington market is rural. With properties ranging from about 1/2 acre up, country living offers many things that urban living cannot.

You do not need to travel large distances to be in a rural setting, and the amenities offered differ greatly from city living. There are pros and cons to rural living, and you need to consider it carefully before deciding to make a change.

Here are some of the pros that come to my mind.
– The quiet of being away from the bustle of the city
– Farm markets at the doorstep, or maybe even the backyard
– The ability to have nature at your doorstep
– If you are so inclined, raising livestock – chickens, goats, little donkeys…
– The darkness at night – no street lights to hide the stars
– Fresh air – maybe with a tinge of livestock thrown in
– Fire pits, where friends and family can gather

But, one must also consider the cons…
– In a rural setting you will not have municipal water or sewers. You will need to become   familiar with wells, cisterns and septic systems
– You need to consider having a generator for power outages to keep the above systems running
– Natural gas may not be at your doorstep, or anywhere nearby
– You are not next door to schools, transportation and shopping (could be on the pro list too)
– The properties are larger and require more time and effort to maintain
– In winter a storm may have you captive at home, until roads are cleared (and you clear your longer driveway too)

These are just a few pros and cons that come to my mind. You may think of many more on either side of the question. If you would like to see what the local rural market has to offer, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals. They will help you consider all your options.

It’s Too Hot!

 

images-3Am I talking about the weather or the real estate market? This year it could be either one.

Let’s start with the weather. In my opinion it’s never too hot! I just have to think about winter, and immediately the heat and humidity feel delightful. I didn’t even need to book a flight to get the island weather!

Moving on, let’s talk real estate… (pun intended). This year so far has been a tough market if you are trying to buy a home. Multiple offers have been the norm, and sadly missing out has happened too many times to too many buyers. Sellers are even hesitating to put their homes on the market… what can they buy? will their home be worth more if they hold on another month – 2 months – or more?

The ‘experts’ all have opinions on where the market is going. Some suggest 2017 will be an even hotter market than 2016, and yet others are still talking about the balloon that’s going to break and spiral us all into a quagmire of overpriced homes. The government keeps suggesting they need to intervene in order to slow our ‘out of control’ market.

Experience tells us that the market will correct itself. There are many reasons why people move, and they can only put it off so long. New jobs, adding to the family, retirement, divorces, to name a few. Sooner or later, sellers will decide they are not waiting any longer, and more houses will come on the market. Prices likely won’t decrease, as there are a lot of buyers waiting to absorb the available properties.

As a seller, if you are thinking about selling, now is a great time. It is a strong seller’s market, and summer sometimes sees fewer homes being put on the market.

Either way you look at it, this summer is HOT! Make sure you are part of it. Enjoy the weather, and good luck if you are trying to buy a home.

If you are looking for a great agent to help you, look no further than Coldwell Banker Community Professionals. Call us today to see how we can help you.

STORM – WHAT STORM? WE’RE STILL WORKING!

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Our first real storm of this year hit hard early Sunday evening and finished up by mid-morning on Monday. It was pretty nasty with high winds, drifting snow, poor visibility, and so on.

I woke up early Monday morning and turned on the radio to listen to the list of closures. Schools, universities, community centres, and some businesses were closed. Our offices were also closed.

Finally, after more than three hours of shoveling sidewalks, driveways and helping our neighbours dig themselves out I was now able to get out and go to the office.

When I pulled into the parking lot there were already six cars at the office. One sales rep was negotiating a deal with his buyers and sellers. Another rep was reviewing listings with their client, and yet another was writing up an offer. After I completed what I had to do I returned home to do some more shoveling.

Later Monday evening I was reviewing all the new listings posted to the MLS® for the day. I came across a listing where the listing sales representative obviously took exterior pictures of the house that very morning as evidence by the tracks in the 3-4 foot snowdrifts.

After thinking about the day’s events, all I could think was, KUDOS to all the hard working REALTORS® out there who don’t let a little Canadian snowstorm get in their way!!

 

10 Steps: How to Make a Successful Relocation Move

Gary HerronIn the most recent Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) newsletter there was an article about making a successful relocation move and I thought this would be good to share with our readers. These steps can be applied to any move you may be making. 

 

Moving to a new, unfamiliar community can be stressful and demanding. To make your transfer go smoother, consider these suggestions:

1.  SELECT THE RIGHT REAL ESTATE AGENT. 

  • Working with a good agent is one of the most important aspects of a successful home purchase. Key qualities to look for: experience with relocating clients, strong local market knowledge and solid communication skills. If your agent has earned the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation you’ll know they also have special training in representing buyers.

2.  GET PRE-APPROVED (NOT JUST PRE-QUALIFIED) FOR YOUR MORTGAGE.

 

  • Pre-approval means your application has already been processed and final approval is only contingent upon an appraisal and other issues.  Mortgage pre-approval puts you in a more favorable negotiating position with sellers and allows you to make faster decisions.

3.  SEPARATE YOUR NEEDS FROM YOUR WANTS. 

  • The difference may seem subtle, but this makes it easier to quickly narrow your options and find the best home for your needs.

4.  KEEP COPIOUS NOTES. 

  • You’ll probably see many homes in a short of time. Detailed notes, photos, and listing sheets can help you recall each property after a busy “home shopping” trip.

5.  THINK ABOUT SELLING WHILE BUYING. 

  • Transferees often face future relocations, so it’s important to consider a home’s resale value. If your agent is pointing out a home’s flaws, they’re probably looking out for your future best interest.

6.  LEARN THE MARKET. 

  • Buyers can gather an amazing amount of information online about the markets they’re considering for their new home (Although an experienced agent will always have a stronger pulse on local market prices than any website). Do your homework and rely on your agent to add key perspectives.

7.  BE PREPARED TO MAKE FAST DECISIONS.

  • Many markets now favour sellers or simply lack adequate home inventories, causing buyers to quickly regret momentary hesitation on a desirable home. Consider making an offer right away, even if you plan to view additional properties.

8. BEFORE PLACING AN OFFER, REQUEST A QUICK CMA.

  • Agents can produce a comparable market analysis on any home in a matter of minutes. This is also where an agent with local market expertise can be a real plus.

9.  BE PREPARED FOR EMOTIONAL UPS AND DOWNS.

  •  Negotiating an offer can be a draining experience. Try to remain calm and maintain perspective as offers and counter offers are exchanged.

10. LEARN FROM HOME INSPECTORS.

  • The level of detail in home inspections has improved dramatically. If at all possible, attend the inspection in person. You’ll also gain many valuable tips about maintaining your home in the written report. As far as renegotiating on repair items, remember that in strong markets, sellers may be unwilling to make any concessions based on the inspector’s report.

So if you are thinking of making a move, contact Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate and ask to speak to one of our sales representatives with the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation.

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  www.realestateword.com .  For more great ideas, check out their site!

GOING ON VACATION – IS YOUR HOUSE SAFE?

School’s Out For Summer, what a great song by Alice Cooper. It also marks the beginning of summer vacation. I thought I would give you a few tips on keeping your home safe while on vacation.

The best way to safeguard your house while you’re away is having a friend and family member stay in your home. Make sure they follow your routine putting out the trash and cutting the grass etc.

If you can’t arrange for a house sitter then be sure to take some of the following steps:

  •  Have the post office hold your mail. If your mail box is overflowing this is a dead giveaway that you are not home. And don’t forget to stop the newspaper delivery.
  • Get a neighbour or family member to check on your house every couple of days to pick up any flyers and water the plants.
  • If you are diligent about your landscaping and cut your grass weekly make sure you continue that routine. Hire a service to take care of that as an unkempt yard is a definite sign of an owner’s absence.
  • Try to make your home look lived in. Put interior and exterior lighting on timers. Also get a neighbour to put out your garbage cans and bring them in after they are emptied. This will make everything appear as normal.
  • Make sure all doors and windows are securely locked. You should also disconnect the auto garage door opener so it can’t be opened with a universal remote control.
  • In the age of modern technology many home owners tell the world they are going on vacation on facebook etc. You never know who is reading your posts so be careful about what you say.
  • You could always have a security system installed to protect your home which is a good investment at any time.

I hope these tips were helpful. Please take the time to secure your home while on vacation as this will greatly reduce the opportunity for someone to break into your home. Happy vacation everyone!

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.

 

ARE YOU USING THE RIGHT PRODUCT?

Last week Ann talked about what our product was at Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate. Today I want to talk about choosing the right product for you.

 

There are many different business models in the real estate industry today, from Fee for Service to Full Service and everything in between. You need to do your due diligence to ensure you get the level of service you need.

 

For example, there are REALTORS® who are telling investor clients to call the listing sales representative to view the property and if they want to buy the property to call them back to put in the offer. Do you really think that REALTOR® can give the proper advice to their client if they haven’t seen the property themselves?

 

Be careful when dealing with a seller that has hired a Fee for Service Brokerage just to get their listing posted to REALTOR.CA and is handling all the other details themselves. These sellers do not have to follow any Code of Ethics or timelines etc. An example would be, telling you there are competing offers, when they don’t actually exist just to get you to increase your offer.

 

Many critics of the real estate industry say the REALTOR® is going the way of the Dodo bird. In reality, according to the National Association of Realtors® most recent Home Buyers and Sellers Survey, the REALTOR’S® role is even more important. The consumer needs the REALTOR’S® expertise to sift through the mounds of information, and as Ann put it, “interpret the information available to maximize the return on your investment.

 

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate, do your research and make sure you get the level of service you need. Talk to a real estate professional. Better still, talk to a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate Professional. Good luck!

 

Exactly What is Our Company Product?

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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 http://www.markweisleder.com