Choosing The RIGHT Real Estate Agent

One way or another, we all seek the comfort of our own habits – where we get fuel for our car, where we buy our groceries and even where we get our hair cut. Habits are great; they do not require us to analyze or think about the impact of these decisions. We know what we’re getting into.

If only buying or selling a home were so easy. But it’s not. We only do it a handful of times during our lifetime, and the consequences making a bad decision can leave us with wallowing in regret for years. Is your home sale going to maximize all the dollars that you’ve put into the place over the years? Will your new home be worth the debt load you’ll be taking on? Is it really a wise and fiscally responsible investment decision?

In such an emotionally charged environment, how do we bring reason to the table? For most people, the answer is a real estate agent. But which one?

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Well, let’s start with choosing the agent to sell our house. Remember, this is someone we are committing to for at least 60 days as they market our home on MLS.

Some call this phase just another beauty and popularity contest, and in many ways it is.

Those well-coiffed, well-dressed agents driving their fancy European cars are all trying to make their best first impressions with you. They will tell you, with barest modesty, they are the #1 agent for you and their track record proves it.

The first test should be: Does this agent really look like the one who you saw promote themselves on billboards, their website and their business cards? What has caused them to age so quickly in the last week or two since you received their Sold Card or Market Activity Newsletter in your mailbox? The stress of their work must be taking a very great toll on their youthfulness. Not that you have to pick the youngest and best looking agent, but why do all agents need to look like they did in their high school or university graduation pictures? I would give them a failing grade for creating a physical gap between what they pretend to be and who they actually are.

However, maybe they can also make your 70-year-old home needing so much work and repairs look like it was just built only last week.

Assess their competency on the pricing recommendations they give you for your home. Have they been thorough enough in showing you every comparable sale in your neighborhood?

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Do not buy in to the latest trend in pricing low to create excessive demand and encourage many competitive bidders for your home. It is best to price at close and near to the market and if there is excessive demand at the time, you will benefit from the free natural market forces and sell at full asking price or over. To set the bar too low only confuses and frustrates most buyers.

Remember, less than 10 per cent of listing agents double end or sell their own listings. So how they set the table and encourage the full and unabashed cooperation from the rest of the real estate community is crucial. Do they have a favourable industry reputation and track record and can they positively work well with all of the dozens of agents who may be showing your home to their prospective buyers? How are they going to manage possible multiple-offer scenarios?

You need to be comfortable that they both have these skills and experience, and that they can operate under the pressure of competing bidders. Ask them how many competitive offer scenarios they have been involved in with their listings. How many bidders were there and what was the ultimate selling price?

Are these agents always available to you by text, email and/or cell phone and is it going to be them alone or are you being handed over to their assistant or team member? It’s as if you needed an operation: You choose the surgeon, but do you care if you end up with the resident or intern? You must confirm this service commitment as the busiest agents will be handing you off to their less experienced team members who will be doing most if not all of the work.

When choosing the buying agent your move may be across town or to another city. Of course your selling agent may not have the knowledge, experience and market intelligence needed to uncover the subtle nuances that could exist in your new neighborhood. This is so critical to you.

Bottom line? Choosing your agent requires patience. You should interview at least two or three and have the winning agent back at least once more to follow up on your selling or buying requirements.

That’s not to say all this preparation will eliminate your own stress in buying and selling, not by a long shot. But starting with the right choice for your agent can certainly improve your chances of a happy ending to your real estate adventure.

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Low Inventory, High Demand

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What we know is, 2015 was a record breaking year! Sales for residential real estate in Vancouver rose 28%. Total Active Listings haven’t been this low in the past 5 years. Sellers are firmly in control of the market place with average prices already at record levels. Month after month, the 2015 headlines pointed to strong competition due to low inventory resulting in upward price pressure, making Vancouver a “seller’s market.”

“2016 will be another strong year for real estate market” ~ Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun

“53 neighbourhoods join Metro Vancouver’s million dollar club” ~ Joanne Lee-Young, Vancouver Sun

“Vancouver, Toronto real estate markets end year on sky-high note… Sales in both cities set records as prices continue to surge” ~ CBC News

“Metro Vancouver housing market sets new sales record in 2015 as prices keep climbing” ~ Garry Marr, Financial Post

“Vancouver Homes Sales in 2015 Break Records, Rise 28%” ~ REBGV

“Highest total of residential property sales for one year on record, says board, and benchmark prices up 33.6 per cent year over year” ~Joannah Connolly, REW.ca

So what does this translate to??

Selling?? Inventory is low and demand is high, making this the best time to sell your home. Almost any listing under $400,000 is receiving multiple offers because of extremely low inventory. Listing your property now will help you receive top dollar for your property in today’s market.

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Buying?? In the current red hot housing market, we often see homes sell in a very short time period and for far above list price. Yes, it’s the season of the Multiple Offer where the highest and cleanest offer wins. The goal here is to provide an offer as clean as possible. This means as few subjects as possible and in order to do this – you, your Agent, and lending institution must move quickly. Time IS of the Essence!

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Real Estate Negotiations

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1 – Know the history
It’s not enough to just determine an adequate offer. Agents should compile a comprehensive market analysis that considers days on market, comparable sales in the area and property upgrades. Look at the area: Is gentrification under way? Is the property close to public transit and myriad other amenities? These things will increase the value of the property – and possible asking price.

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2 – Know the sellers
Agents will need to practice subtlety here. Via casual conversation with the listing agent, try to determine what personal situation the sellers are facing. Why are they selling? They might be more motivated – and, therefore, more willing to compromise – if a divorce is the reason behind their listing the property.

3 – Educate your purchaser 
Many agents know that body language plays a big part in negotiations. Are your buyers giving too much away? It’s important that prospective buyers  not bring emotions to the table.

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What’s the Difference Between a Buyer’s and Seller’s Market?

92d60aa3-1e11-4c82-9537-3c5c13f87c6cThroughout Metro Vancouver, we’re seeing rapid home price appreciation, buyers lining up to tour homes and bidding wars that drive prices above what sellers are asking.

It’s a classic seller’s market.

Seller’s market

This type of market is typically characterized by low interest rates, many qualified buyers and fewer homes for sale.

But one conclusion is inescapable: the real estate market is cyclical which is why you may have heard the term, “real estate cycle.”

Several key factors influence this cycle, including mortgage interest rates, employment growth, investment growth, construction, immigration, government assistance programs for first-time buyers and gravitational forces caused by major weaknesses in the local and world economies. All influence whether there is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market.

Buyer’s market

In contrast, a buyer’s market is when there are many more homes for sale than there are buyers. As a result, the price of a well-kept home in even the most desirable neighbourhood may decline as home owners become eager to sell their property. Sellers may ask themselves, “Do we lower the price, or do we take it off the market altogether and wait?”

15a2d652-348b-45c4-a7a0-92a8f1b8564dTo measure market activity, the Real Estate Board has a unique tool – a sales-to-listings ratio which measures the balance between demand and supply:

  • a ratio of three sales for five listings means we are in a seller’s market (also known as a ratio of 55 – 60%)
  • a ratio of less than seven sales for every 20 listings means we are in a buyer’s market (also known as a ratio of less than 35%).

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There have been predictions a possible downturn in the Metro Vancouver real estate market for the past few years. This is because prices have risen much faster than incomes and detached homes have been unaffordable for first-time buyers.

 

Realtor vs FSBO

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What are the advantages of using a Real Estate Agent vs FSBO when it comes to selling a home? For starters, a FSBO only gets your place in front of buyers you can attract from seeing a newspaper ad or Craigslist, and anyone who happens to drive by the house.

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If you go with a high-octane real estate agent you’ll have the advantage of being exposed to their entire pool of buyers. More importantly, you’ll be in the MLS database. There, you’ll immediately have thousands of potential buyers. So, who do you think will have the best chance of selling your house? Market exposure is EVERYTHING in the real estate game.

Winterize Your Home

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‘Tis the season to crank your thermostat. Winter is on its way, bringing icy winds, frigid temperatures, and for some of us, utility bills that could make your blood run cold. Fortunately, by taking a few simple steps before the big freeze, you can create a greener, more energy efficient home that will also be easier on the wallet. These easy steps will help you prepare your home for winter and make your home more energy efficient to save you money on your heating bills.

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1) Furnace Inspection – Before you start running your furnace, check the filter to see if it needs to be replaced. Having a clean filter helps your furnace run more efficiently, which can save you energy and money. A clean filter can save you 5% to 15% on your heating bill. Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat.

2) Get the Fireplace Ready – If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote. Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.

3) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows – Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them. Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.

4) Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts – If your weather temperature will fall below 32 degrees in the winter, adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams.

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Why is Home Staging Important?

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I’m a real estate consultant not a home stager.  Therefore, I know how important it is to discuss staging your home before you list it for sale.  It makes a big difference both in length of selling time and price. Let’s put it this way: you dress for success, don’t you? Well, shouldn’t you do the same for your home when you’re selling it? Because that’s essentially what home staging is: dressing up your home so that it goes from house for sale to house sold as quickly and profitably as possible. So why is home staging important?  Basically, you want your house to look it’s best for potential.

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Get the Highest Price for Your Home.  A well-staged home is aesthetically pleasing.  Everything looks inviting, comfortable, and simple.  It elicits a strong emotion from buyers:  desire.

Your Home Will Sell Faster – Its  a proven fact. Staged homes sell for 43% more quickly than unstaged homes.

Staging Helps with Procrastination – yes, your stager will want many of your knick knacks and collector items put away.  This is called decluttering and depersonalizing.  You will have to tackle this at some point. Get it done early, store boxes in the basement, a POD, or rent a storage unit for a few months.

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Staging Will Teach you a Few Things.  Maybe you never had a decorator and you’ve done it all yourself. Those floral curtains in the bedroom, the layout of the pictures over the living room sofa, the furniture placement in the family room or the overlarge chair in the den.  It all works for you which is great – but a stager might just show you “better” which is something you can take with you to your new home.

You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression – is a favorite line with stagers and real estate agents.  If you don’t stage before you list, guess what?  You’ve lost time and money – the two things that are all but promised if you stage your home before listing it for sale.firstimpression_alone