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:


  • 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.



  • 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.


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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


  • 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.

What Do You Consider to be Ultimate Service?

prize copyWe talk about it all the time, but what does it mean to YOU?

Ultimate Service® is very important to us at Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate because we believe it is one of the most important features that differentiates us from our competition. It is a Written Guarantee of Service, that allows you to cancel, without any strings attached, your contract with our company.

But we find that to our clients, Ultimate Service® means a lot more than just the guarantee. We survey every buyer and seller that we represent, once the transaction has become unconditional, and many buyers and sellers offer comments that reflect what they appreciated most in their experience. I have outlined below what Ultimate Service has meant to a few of our clients.

Our sales rep was truly professional, putting our needs first.

We had no worries. We knew our sales rep was taking care of everything for us.

Start to finish. Our sales rep took care of the details.

Wow. They thought of things that never occurred to us. What great service.

We always felt we were their first priority.

If you didn’t feel this way after your real estate buying or selling experience, perhaps you should have had a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Sales Representative!

Feel free to share your real estate buying or selling experience!


Last year I did a blog about choosing a REALTOR® and I covered a few points to consider. In today’s extremely competitive market I thought I would talk about a couple of more things a home owner should consider when hiring a REALTOR®.

Some home owners will hire their sales representative based on the highest list price presented. The sellers look at each other and say, “He or she thinks our house is worth $400,000 too”. In the real estate industry we call this Buying a Listing. This could be a big mistake because your house gets the most attention when it is a “new listing” , and you have it priced above the market.

If you price your house to high, no one will show it and it will just sit on the market until you reduce the price. After you reduce the price, the buyers who were looking in your area have already purchased a home. You missed out on all those buyers! Pricing your house too high will only help similar houses in your neighbourhood sell faster.

Another thought is you should always ask the REALTOR® for references from recent sales. A good REALTOR® would have names and contact information readily available. Ask the REALTOR’S® clients about their selling experience.

Remember, the length of time a REALTOR® has been in the business isn’t all you should look for. Experienced REALTORS® can grow jaded and not work as hard, while newer ones may make up with enthusiasm and effort what they lack in experienced.

Some sellers base their decision on the lowest commission. We all know the old saying, “You get what you pay for”. This is very true. REALTORS® and brokerages put up their own money to market and advertise your home. This costs money… the lower the commission, the less incentive for a REALTOR® to put up his or her own money to market your home.

Incentive has an important role in sales. A full service REALTOR® earning a full commission will often “drop everything” to handle any challenges that come along – a rep earning a smaller commission doesn’t have that same incentive.

Again, make sure you interview more than one REALTOR® and look for the one that is a true professional.

Good luck to all of you trying to sell your house. If you have any tricks of your own on how you chose your last REALTOR®, please share with your fellow readers.

Don’t Want to Compete for Your Home Purchase?

blog jpeg photoBuying a home is an emotional process. We try to apply logic all the way through the process, but when the rubber hits the road, it’s an emotional decision.

The current Hamilton and Burlington area real estate market is experiencing a large number of homes that are selling with competing offers. You may think these are just the really fixed up places that look fantastic, but that’s not the case. Competition is taking place at all price levels, and with homes in all sorts of condition. The deciding factors seem to be; price in relation to the market, availability of comparable homes, amenities offered by the house, and more.

If you are in the process of buying a home, and would rather not find yourself in competition, here are a few things to consider.

  • Work with a REALTOR® who has access to new properties for sale quicker than you will find them on realtor.ca. If you have a relationship, your REALTOR® can send you listings immediately, enabling you to be one of the first to see the home. Keep in mind you may need to act quickly.
  • Be prepared. If you see a home you want to buy, and they are not holding off on offers, act right away. Don’t wait for others to decide to make an offer. Have your deposit funds ready, your financing ready to go, and your home inspector ready and waiting. This is not the kind of market where you want to ‘sleep on it’.
  • If you really like the house, don’t try the low ball offer first to ‘see if they will come down’. You may waste your opportunity to be the only offer the home seller is looking at, and if you do end up in competition, you have not made a particularly good first impression.
  • If you really like a house, and they have set a future date for offers, you can present what is called a bully offer. In this case, your REALTOR® will advise the listing sales person that he has an offer that is only irrevocable for a short period of time. This causes the home owner to decide if they want to look at your offer, or wait and take the chance that they receive a better offer later. If you want your bully offer to be considered, it needs to be a very good offer. Both price and terms need to be exceptional for the seller to effectively give up their chance at competing offers.
  • Another choice is to postpone your home buying until a time period when there are generally fewer buyers in the market, such as during some parts of the summer and at the end of the year, around the holidays. These times vary depending on where you are, so if you are considering this approach, speak to your REALTOR®. Keep in mind that fewer sellers will have their homes on the market during these time periods, so your selection may not be as good.

If you want to discuss how to get the home you want, at the price you want to pay, call a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate Sales Representative. Their experience and training will help you be successful in your home hunting efforts.

Where is that Spring Market?

Daffodil Flower

Buyers, sellers and even REALTORS® keep asking me, and all I wonder is, where is that crystal ball when I need it?

About the first week of January each year, as REALTORS® we start to try and guess when the traditional ‘Spring Market’ will begin.  We do this in spite of knowing that we left the traditional market behind a number of years ago, no longer waiting for nice weather for buyers and sellers to get into the home buying or selling mood.

I believe this year’s Spring Market began a couple weeks ago.  All of a sudden buyers at the open houses were asking the serious questions, and sellers got serious about getting their homes ready to sell and on the market.

Contrary to what the media would have you believe, the Hamilton area real estate market has not been in the dumps.  What we have is a lack of properties for sale.  We started to see more homes coming on the market in mid December, yes before the holidays began.  Since the new year, the pace has picked up, but there is still no where near enough properties on the market for the number of buyers that are looking.

Well priced homes are generating multiple offers, which may seem good to the home owner, but is extremely frustrating to the buyers who have been looking for some months. During that time there was little to chose from, and now they find themselves paying more than their perceived market value for a home.  Unlike the Canadian real estate market in general, Hamilton is experiencing a Sellers Market.

If you are thinking of selling, NOW is a great time to put your home on the market.  Interest rates are at historical lows, so buyers can afford your home, and if you are looking for another, you have a chance to buy up and keep your payments low.

If you are thinking of buying, NOW is a great time to buy.  Be sure you have a skilled negotiator working for you.  They can find you the right home, and if they are at the top of their game, they may even get it for you for less than you expect.  A skilled REALTOR® can advise you how to make your offer more appealing, and can strategize with you to find the right home, at the right price!

Thinking of Buying?

I strongly recommend you call one of our skilled professionals, many of whom have earned the Accredited Buyer Representative Designation, indicating that they have honed their skills to help you achieve your home buying goals.

Thinking of Selling?

I strongly recommend you call one of our skilled professionals, many of whom have earned the Ultimate Service Award, indicating that they are skilled at meeting their client’s needs, and more importantly, they KNOW HOW TO GET THE JOB DONE!

This may sound like too much of a sales pitch, but I believe that Coldwell Banker Pinnacle sales professionals are some of the best trained in the business, and are uniquely qualified to serve their clients.  Why not call one today, and find out for yourself why I say this.

Ultimate Service® – Just a Guarantee?

A list of services, big deal… But that is not what makes our sales people the professionals they are. Ultimate Service® just starts with our written guarantee.

I believe that in order to provide service that stands our in the marketplace, you need to be able to meet the needs of your client, every time, and actually provide additional service that they didn’t even realize they needed. Real Estate companies that provide ‘full service’ as opposed to having the client select from a menu of available services, can all appear to have been cut from the same cloth. The difference is in how the service is provided and the consistency in when it is provided.

At Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate, our Ultimate Service® sales professionals are available to their clients at all times. In addition, they are in touch with their clients on a predetermined basis, as set by the client. There are no long periods of time when the client begins to wonder what, if anything, is being done to further their real estate needs.

Also, our reps have made available to them, training specific to the needs of our client base, such as becoming Accredited Buyer’s Representatives, enabling them to maximize their abilities to assist buyers in finding the right house, in a timely fashion, and in addition being trained to be effective negotiators. Another training area is the Senior Real Estate Specialist, a course which assists sales reps in becoming aware of the many options available to home owners as they age, whether they wish to move to Adult Communities, or update their current residence to meet their changing needs.

I could continue to list any number of areas of expertise our sales professionals are trained in, but I think you likely get my drift.

At Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate, Ultimate Service® is not just a guarantee, it is an indication of professionalism, with service provided to our clients by highly qualified individuals, who consider Real Estate their career, not just a job.

If you are thinking of buying or selling, please call one of our professionals, and find out for yourself the difference working with a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle representative makes.


As REALTORS® we are always tooting our own horn about our superior negotiating skills, how we will negotiate in our client’s best interest, and how we will get the best price for our client whether they are a buyer or a seller.

Sometimes this is not the case. With today’s modern technology at our finger tips and the ability to e-mail documents to any location in seconds, many buyer representatives choose to e-mail or fax the offer to the listing rep to be presented to the seller. Or the listing representative will request the buyer’s rep to e-mail or fax the offer for presentation.

The question is: Should the buyer representative be present at the offer presentation? We could argue the pros and cons on this question until the cows come home.

Let me give you my take on the subject. When I explain to a potential buyer client what services I provide, I tell them that I will always try to negotiate the best possible purchase price for their new home. One of the ways I do this is by ensuring I am at the offer presentation. This gives me an opportunity to ask questions of the seller, and to make sure all parties are in agreement with the terms of the offer rather than just arbitrarily make changes and pass them along to the other party.

When I am present at the offer presentation I can read the body language of the seller which can give insight to such things as motivation, what concessions or terms are more important to the seller, or even if there is room to negotiate the price a little more. I certainly can’t do that over an e-mail or fax.

On the other hand, there may be occasions when it is prudent not to be present at the time of presentation. An example of this would be when the sellers are separating and there is a great deal of tension and animosity between the sellers. To add another character into the situation could be quite detrimental to the whole process as the seller’s emotions may be in a very fragile state.

Another situation where it may be necessary not to attend the offer presentation is when it is an estate sale and there is much disagreement between the executors of the estate. This situation is similar to the previous example as emotions may be running high and to add another person into the mix may be very disrupting.

There is also the situation when the buyer or seller is out of town and you have no choice but to do the transaction by e-mail or fax.

So when you are buying your next home make sure you ask your REALTOR® if he or she will be attending the offer presentation to negotiate in your best interests. And REALTORS®, remember, you can’t negotiate over a fax machine or an e-mail.


A few of weeks ago Ann and I were talking about our Ultimate Service® Award Winners and our Ultimate Service® Listing Presentation and as promised today I’m going to explain how we at Coldwell Banker Pinnacle back all this up with our Written Guarantee!

I know, I know, you’re thinking another article about great customer service. Well folks, we’re just trying to get the message out that all service providers are NOT the same.

At Coldwell Banker Pinnacle our mission is to “Provide 100% Customer Satisfaction…… Everytime!” We have achieved a Customer Satisfaction rating of 98% for the last 10 years which is amazing considering the industry average is about 72-74 per cent.

So, how do we do it, you might ask? By providing each and every client our Ultimate Service® Written Guarantee and following up with our Customer Service Questionaire.

Upon reviewing our 22 Point service plan with our clients we listen to what they say to enable us to develop a customized program that suits the clients’ real estate needs. Then we put all this in writing and the client and the sales representative sign the written guarantee. This guarantee also has the name and telephone number of the sales reps’ Broker/Manager in the event the client has concerns and needs to discuss an issue with the Manager. And remember these written guarantees apply to both Buyers and Sellers.

If our client has an issue that cannot be rectified by management within 24 hours the representation agreement will then be terminated. Like Ann has indicated in a previous post these situations are few and far between.

So all you buyers and sellers out there before you decide on which REALTOR® to use check out the Ultimate Service® Guarantee – you won’t be disappointed!!

Who’s Looking Out For You?

Is Your REALTOR® Really Working for You?

I am sure if you have ever bought or sold a house, you have asked yourself this very question.

When the offer has been accepted, all the conditions removed, and the emotional roller coaster ride over with, many wonder if they really got the best deal (aka representation) that was available.

When you hire a real estate professional, you should be absolutely clear on what your representative is going to do for you and on your behalf, and equally clear on what they WILL NOT do. This goes for both buying and selling property.

When you have listed your property for sale through a real estate brokerage, there are duties and obligations that your REALTOR® owes to you.

Some of these you not doubt are quite familiar with, such as providing you with an opinion of the current market value of your property, and developing an effective marketing plan to ensure you have success in your sale. In addition to these, your seller representative should also:

• Keep you up to date on properties in the area similar to yours that have been listed and sold
• Prior to receiving an offer, determine a strategy to get your property sold on your terms
• Ensure that full disclosure is made of all material facts and any other legally required disclosures. In this way, help minimize expense and trouble for you that might result from needing to correct deficiencies.
• Make arrangements with you, the Seller, to show your property. They should counsel you on how to present your property in its best light.
• When you receive an offer, assist you in evaluating the terms and conditions included in the offer, and formulate and evaluate any counter offers you make or receive.
• Help you determine if seller financing is appropriate, if requested.
• Help you obtain the best (highest) price, on the best terms for you.
• Assist you in completing the necessary steps up to closing, to ensure completion of the sale.

I have emphasized this last point, as I believe this is the most important duty, and one that I find not all REALTORS® provide to their client. At the same time, it is one that can have the greatest effect on your sale.

On the flip side, when you are buying a home, you have a choice of being represented by a REALTOR® or of receiving ‘Customer Service’. The difference in these two methods is huge. If you decide you don’t need or want to be represented, you need to be aware that the REALTOR® helping you with your purchase is working for the seller, focusing on the seller’s needs, and sharing any information you may provide to them, to the seller, to assist the seller in obtaining the highest price possible for their home.

On the other hand, if you decide you would like the assistance of your REALTOR® and enter into a Buyer Representation Agreement, your REALTOR® will help you find the right house for you, and negotiate the best possible terms on your behalf. In addition to these activities, your Buyer Representative will also:

• Act as your advocate, putting your interests first.
• Provide you with information on properties that meet your needs, and present a realistic picture of the current market, from your perspective.
• Make arrangements for you to view properties, and point out to you the pluses and minuses of the properties viewed.
• When you select a property to buy, they will prepare a Market Evaluation of the property to help you formulate an offer, and help you determine strategy for counter offers.
• Present your offer, in person, in order to best negotiate on your behalf.
• Obtain the best (lowest) price and best terms for you.
• Counsel you on types of mortgages, terms, and financing available to help you make an informed decision regarding financing.
• Discover as much as possible about a property. Recommend inspections; prepare contract conditions; advocate that deficiencies be corrected at the seller’s expense.
• Assist you in completing the necessary steps up to closing, to ensure completion of the sale.

As you can see, there is a long list of duties your representative should do, but unfortunately not all REALTORS® are fully aware of their responsibilities to you, or chose not to perform all their duties.

As a buyer, I know sometimes people are leery to enter into an agreement with one REALTOR® as they believe they can maybe get a better deal working with the listing representative, or want the freedom to look on their own until they find the right house.

I hope that in reviewing the duties that a professional REALTOR® performs for their clients, that you see value in entering into a Buyer Representation Agreement. Keep in mind, when you work with a Coldwell Banker real estate sales representative, you will also receive the Ultimate Service Guarantee, so you don’t need to worry about being tied to someone who won’t do their job. You can fire them! It’s in writing!

I hope this has given you something to think about when you start your next home buying or selling adventure. Be sure you get the representation you are entitled to, and the best possible service available.

The one sure way to do this is to call a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle sales person. They will meet with you, and spend the time to find out what you need and want, and demonstrate to you why they are the best possible choice for you.