Tag: Realtor

Real Estate After COVID

Posted on January 26th, 2021

It’s about time we had some guests back on the podcast – and boy did we get a couple of great ones!

Our friends Sandra Kirkland and James Milonas (better known as ‘James In The City’) joined us this week to talk about what is going on in real estate in this unique environment.

What has changed and what is the same as it ever was? Everything from market trends to realtor behaviour, to marketing ideas in a post-COVID world – we unpacked it all (spoiler alert, not everyone is on the same page…and that’s a good thing).

Follow our guests, because they’re awesome:

On Instagram:

@sandrakirklandofficial  and @thejamesinthecity

On TikTok:

@sandrakirklandofficial and @jamesinthecity

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Start Your New Year Right

Posted on January 4th, 2021


Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021!

After an unprecedented year in all of our personal and professional lives, we’re steamrolling right into 2021 with a purpose.

Like last year, rather than resolutions, we talk about choosing one word for the year ahead that will shape our approach. This exercise has proven very important to keep your head straight as you navigate all the uncertainty and decisions that life throws your way. Our words in 2020 were ‘focus’ and ‘deliberate’, so we’ll break down how those went for us, and we’ll unveil our new words for 2021.

Let us know what word will shape your year, and join us for a brand new year of Level Up, we’ve got a lot in store!

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Goodbye 2020!

Posted on December 30th, 2020

Not a normal year, that 2020…but in a lot of ways, it was the eye opener we needed.

It’s fair to say the year created challenges for nearly everyone on the planet, but it also created opportunities, and the chance to dig deep into what we are all going to do with ourselves, how we deal with adversity, and what is really important to us.

No major life lessons in this episode, other than a reflection on the takeaways from our year of learning, and a big (and happy) welcome to the awesome year to come.

Happy New Year everyone, stay safe, and keep listening….big things ahead in 2021!

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Positive Mindset

Posted on December 16th, 2020

So it’s been a challenging year…are you going to be the person who uses that as an excuse, or the one who rises above and looks for the silver lining?

We all go through tough situations, and in a lot of cases, we create them for ourselves…this episode is all about positivity, thinking positive, projecting positivity, and surrounding yourself with it. he way you live your life is your choice – no matter what hardships you encounter (personally and professionally), only you can decide what you do with them. We talk about how to frame your mindset, what might be getting in your way, and the benefits of simply approaching situations in a new a way.

It’s time to level up your positivity.

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Time Management

Posted on December 9th, 2020

We’ve talked a lot about the things you need to do in order to set yourself up for success – but what good is it if you can’t actually get around to putting all your great plans into motion?

Your ability to reach your goals is very much a function of your ability to tackle all the tasks you’ve laid out to get you there. Isolating the ‘money making activities’ and identifying the ‘time wasters’ is one of the steps we discuss in this episode.

It’s time to level up your time management.

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Foresight Is your Secret Weapon

Posted on December 2nd, 2020

If you have been reactionary, you’re missing out on everything that is in front of you – and it could be hurting your business. Taking the time to consider what is to come in your business, in your clients’ experience, and in the world around you, is crucial to building out a plan that will set you up for success.

We spend too much time planning for today, and basing those plans on the things we have seen – which in many cases can be useful – does not allow us to fully take advantage of the opportunities which may lie ahead. Having foresight is about creativity, an ear to the ground, and a willingness to take chances – in this episode, we dive right into it.

It’s time to level up your foresight.

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The Biggest Misconception In Real Estate

Posted on July 18th, 2017

There is a big misconception in the real estate industry that when you are searching for a home, working with a real estate agent is free of charge.  While there are many benefits to working with a Realtor during your home search, these professionals are getting paid and although this payment flows through the proceeds of the home’s sale, this payment ultimately comes out of the buyer’s pocket.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the fact that you are paying for a service that you’ve requested.  In fact, it’s common sense that you would pay for this service, right?  In fact, in other markets such as Australia, there two different types of brokerages – those that sell homes and those that assist buyers in purchasing homes.  This eliminates the risk of double ending (when the same agent represents both buyer and seller) and is a concept that might be worth further exploration in our own market.

In Ontario, the commission system is set up as follows: a seller hires a real estate agent to assist in selling their home.  A commission is negotiated between the seller and real estate agent, which traditionally amounts to 5% plus HST.  This amount is split between the selling agent (2.5%) and the agent who represents the buyer (2.5%).  The seller may negotiate the selling agent’s portion of the commission to be lower, however the buyer’s commission is rarely (if ever) touched. Many selling agents will offer a lower rate from the get go in order to their foot in your door.

Technically, if a buyer has a Buyer Representation Agreement signed with his or her real estate agent, a commission rate is agreed upon (typically 2.5%) and should a seller not offer a commission to a buying agent, this amount would need to be paid by the buyer directly.  While it is uncommon to see a listing offering less than the standard 2.5% commission to the buying agent, the industry has started to see some buyers negotiating this standardized amount with their agent and it’s something that should be explored further based on the services provided by that particular agent.

If a buyer chooses to work without a Realtor, they should expect a discount on the selling price as the seller only needs to pay his or her Realtor their side of the commission.  A buyer has the choice to hire a real estate agent.  Educating buyers on how the system works is a great first step as many buyers enter the home search process unaware of how the industry is set up.  If you are getting into the market soon, consider the following:

  • Speak to friends and colleague about their experiences in purchasing a home and ask if they would recommend a real estate agent to assist you with the process. Don’t go with the first real estate agent you meet at an open house.  You need to interview many people to ensure you will be on the same page throughout the home buying journey.
  • A Realtor can be a valuable part of the home search process and their services, understandably, come at a cost. Ensure you review the Buyer Representation Agreement that you sign with your Realtor in detail and understand the commission rate they will be earning.
  • While you may not pay commission to your agent directly, this commission is paid by you in the form of a higher selling price that you end up paying for a home
  • If you are working without a real estate agent, ensure you understand how the commission is structured with any home on which you are making an offer. Make it known to the selling agent that you do not need any sort of representation and you plan to work everything out on your own with the assistance of a lawyer.

Although the real estate industry seems to have a set of conventions that are ‘the way it is’, it doesn’t mean that is the way it needs to be. As a consumer, you have a choice, and it is important that you understand the options available to you, even if one of those options is to buy on your own. Once people are aware of the true cost of representation, and Realtors are transparent enough to ensure that buyers understand it as well, the buying process will be considerably more comfortable.

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How To Revamp the Real Estate Profession in Ontario

Posted on June 26th, 2017

Consider these numbers:

  • 4,600 – the number of veterinarians licensed to work in Ontario according to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario
  • 14,690 – the number of family doctors working licensed in Ontario according to the Canadian Medical Association
  • 40,000 – the approximate number of licensed lawyers in Ontario according to the Law Society of Upper Canada
  • 124,000 – the approximate number of full time teaching staff in all of Ontario according to the Ministry of Education

Now consider this – there are over 70,000 licensed real estate brokers and salespersons working in Ontario with over 48,000 of these professionals working within the Toronto Real Estate Board alone. The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) covers the GTA and surrounding townships, including Ajax, Aurora, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Halton Hills, Markham, Milton, Mississauga, Newmarket, Oakville, Oshawa, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Toronto, Vaughan and Whitby. 

Let’s look further into these numbers:

  • The population of the Greater Toronto Area as of 2016 was approximately 6.418 million so for every 134 of these people, there is one real estate professional
  • In 2016, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) reported 113,133 residential property sales, which equates to 2.4 homes sold per agent if all of these property sales were evenly distributed amongst the massive list of TREB members

Mark McLean from Bosley Real Estate posted an interesting chart in his real estate blog (Realty Lab) a few years ago, showing some interesting statistics:

At the time of this post, almost 19% of TREB members did not have one single transaction within the year. More than half of TREB members did less than two or less transactions in the year. 

What do we conclude from all of these numbers? It is too easy to become a real estate professional in Ontario and many of those working as a real estate professional are not taking their career seriously. While many people living in the GTA struggle to find a family doctor, the real estate profession in this city is overflowing with agents just itching to sell your home or help buy you a new one.

In order to start practicing in real estate, an individual must complete what OREA terms the “Pre-Registration Segment”. This segment must be completed in 18 months and consists of five courses (or six as two are combined with one exam) adding up to 255 hours worth of studies at a cost of $2,850 in course fees. Most of these courses can either be taken in-class or online. If you go the in-class route, your attendance is not mandatory.

The courses that need to be completed during the Pre-Registration Segment include:

  • Real Estate as a Professional Career – a very general and not so accurate depiction of what you can expect if you become a real estate agent
  • Land, Structures and Real Estate Trading – looking at how land and property are registered an owned in Ontario, which is a good subject to touch on in a chapter but not the focus of an entire course
  • The Real Estate Transaction – goes through the forms and clauses used in the real estate transaction
  • Commercial Real Estate – a basic rundown of what to expect on the commercial side of real estate, which apparently makes you qualified to transact in commercial real estate if you want to give it a try
  • Real Property Law – looks at legal issues concerning property ownership

After this segment, you have 12 months to obtain employment and be registered with the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) as a real estate salesperson. This is your opportunity to interview with several real estate brokerages and start selling. This process is not your typical job interview. Since you are considered a real estate brokerage’s bread and butter, the ‘interview’ consists of the brokerage selling YOU on their office, brand and company vs. you selling them on how well you will represent their company. 

During the next two years, you have progressed into the “Articling Segment” where you need to complete a whopping one elective course and can choose from the following topics:

  • Principles of Appraisal – a fairly useful course when you are looking at comparable data to price homes or assist a buyer in making an offer on a home
  • Principles of Mortgage Financing – useful as a chapter but not an entire course, unless you’re looking to moonlight as a mortgage broker
  • Principles of Property Management – useful as a one page memo but definitely not an entire course
  • Real Estate Investment Analysis –useful course that is very heavy on numbers, calculations and formulas. Definitely one to consider if you are looking to become a commercial real estate agent.

Finally, once you have completed the challenging “Articling Segment”, you must adhere to RECO’s continuing education requirement every two years by taking a mandatory Residential or Commercial update course as well as two electives by simply clicking through the slides on your computer until you are finished.

The Ontario Real Estate Association needs to consider the following in order to improve the education process and help to elevate the industry’s poor reputation:

  • Make exams harder – these multiple-choice questions are making the process too easy. Why not consider some short answer questions or even some oral questions that truly test a prospective agent’s ability to act professionally in any situation? Yes, these questions take more time and resources to mark vs. a simple scantron sheet but surely the $2,850 that each prospective real estate agent pays to take these courses would help pay for these added costs.
  • Place more emphasis on the characteristics that a successful real estate should demonstrate with his or her clients such as patience, empathy and dedication.
  • Give a more accurate depiction of the hours, work, competition and stress involved as a real estate professional.
  • Incorporate some basics about psychology to study the thoughts and feelings that a buyer and seller will show throughout the transaction and how a real estate agent can support these emotions.
  • Add another course or two that better delves into the commercial component of real estate for those agents who wish to trade in commercial transactions.
  • Job shadowing with an experienced real estate agent should be mandatory for all new agents so that they can see first hand what to expect in the real world.
  • Keep topics practical – negotiating, bidding wars, price reductions, multiple representation (if it doesn’t become illegal soon), etc.

While some of these topics are covered by brokerages within their training program for new agents, this training is not consistent across all companies and puts some agents at a considerable disadvantage and at a higher risk of making mistakes. 

The real estate education process needs to evolve and improve in order to support its members and give a much-needed boost to the industry’s reputation. There are many good real estate professionals working in the GTA but the hard work and dedication of these individuals is consistently overshadowed by those not-so-great agents who obviously require more training, who aren’t in the business for the right reasons and who aren’t willing to take the time to make improvements to their approach on their own.

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Six Questions You Should Ask Before Buying A Home

Posted on June 14th, 2017

It has become damn hard to buy a home.

While once upon a time (a time not long ago at all), it was ‘buyer’s market’, that has become far from the case in numerous cities across North America. As buyers’ sanity levels are being pushed to the brink, it has become increasingly more difficult to purchase a home, let alone know enough about it to make an educated decision.

There is a lot of advice given to sellers on how best to leverage this market, the information to disclose, the information not to disclose, pricing strategy, time to hold for offers, the list goes on.

Where however, are the buyers left in all this? While demand outweighs supply in obscene multiples, the people who just want a place to live are left in a position where they have to submit to the new rules set by the lucky sellers. It is a hopeless situation, isn’t it?

Not so.

Here’s the deal – this is the biggest purchase of your life, and it begs the question – shouldn’t you be entitled to some degree of comfort? Why aren’t we asking more questions?

Where there has been worry that some cowboy will come in and outbid everyone for a house sight unseen, truthfully that shouldn’t impact the approach of the majority of people who are sensible and entitled to a fair shot at the home. If a house is going to sell for a price that far outweighs that which a reasonable appraisal would value it, it is better to let it go anyway. The key here is that you deserve the opportunity to ask questions, and irrespective of the time crunch or expectations imposed by the seller, here are six questions you should ask before placing an offer on a home.

1)    Is this the actual price you want?

Five years ago, a question like this would have seemed insane, but the reality is that even in listings where there is no ‘offer date’, the listing price isn’t the price the seller would accept. This impacts not just the offer approach, but also the people who are exposed to the listing. If a seller is asking $799,999, but truly wouldn’t look at an offer below $850,000, it is incumbent on people who have a ceiling of $800,000 to know that.

2)    Is there a home inspection?

Many listings produce a home inspection ahead of time, so they can receive offers without that condition. When there isn’t a home inspection, it is something to consider – waiving such a condition could put your offer into a weaker position than another, but consider the consequences. Flaws in a home can be minor in nature, but hidden problems can cost huge money very quickly, and can be avoided by understanding them ahead of time.

It isn’t a requirement of a seller to provide an inspection, but without it there should be a reasonable expectation that a prospective buyer would want comfort over the home’s condition and future risks. Without such a document, invest the time and money into doing your own inspection to ensure you are truly comfortable with the home.

3)    What are the comparable sales in the area?

While this could be considered subjective in nature, you need to understand what the market has dictated. In some cases this could support a higher price than you thought for your target property, but sometimes a seller is taking a shot with a high expectation to try to set a new bar.

There is no harm in asking the seller’s representative if there are comparables, but this is where your own real estate sales representative can provide his/her experienced analysis. Find out the most recent sales in the area for similar homes, or if the area hasn’t had any recent sales, look for similar properties in as close an area as you can. More data is always better, and there are good reasons why one home might have sold for more than another (finishes, lot size, street, the list is endless).

4)    Will my financing be ok after an appraisal?

There have been situations where the bank doesn’t agree that your new home is worth what you paid, and as such, won’t necessarily give you the mortgage you need.

You need to be sure that your offer on a home is not going to put you in an impossible financial position. A pre-approval means you are able to borrow a certain amount of money, subject to a potential appraisal of the property. If a bank said you were pre-approved for one million dollars, and you spend a million on a 400 square foot mobile home next to a nuclear power plant, you might be in a tough spot. Remember, the mortgage is tied to the asset you buy, so if you can’t make the payments, the bank has your property as collateral – it is unlikely they’d recover their million from your new trailer, so be cautious when making your offer. A pre-approval is not a mortgage approval.  By waiving a financing condition, you leave yourself susceptible to a deal that falls apart and potential legal troubles.

5)    What kind of commission is this costing me?

In a survey of real estate buyers conducted by On The Block Realty in March 2017, 58% of respondents believed that they didn’t actually pay any commission on their purchase. Now while they generally don’t physically pay the commission out of their pocket, the math and the money are clear – the seller will pay a commission that is typically split in some way between their representative and the buyer’s representative. This means that as a buyer, you are most certainly paying, through the seller, a commission to your representative. This is most certainly the way it should be, your agent is doing you a great service, and thus should be compensated, but you need to understand what that represents.

 More importantly, when you don’t have a representative, you should understand who, if anyone, is getting paid on your side of the transaction. Sometimes, the selling agent will take both sides of the commission, if they represent both buyer and seller, which is called multiple representation.  Being aware of these costs is important.

6)    Ensure there is no conflict of interest.

When a buyer is unrepresented, you can effectively become a ‘customer’ of the seller’s agent as discussed above. The rules associated with that relationship strictly state that there are two types of relationship for the agent, a ‘client’ relationship and a ‘customer’ relationship.

The client is entitled to a fiduciary duty, where the agent is working in their best interest at all times. A customer is entitled to fairness, honesty and integrity, but no such fiduciary duty. Plain English – the seller’s representative owes you nothing more than honesty, and will not advise you in a way that would give you an edge over the seller (at least the law dictates that they shouldn’t).

In any case, going into a real estate transaction without representation means you have to be careful what cards you show and to whom. An agent on either side of the table would have a clear conflicting objective if working with both sides, as the goals of both sides (other than getting a deal done) is completely the opposite – sellers want the highest price possible, and buyers want the lowest price possible.

We advocate strongly for representation for buyers. It is important to have an informed and protected approach to the buying process, and having a knowledgeable individual in your corner helps considerably.

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