Three ways to choose a Real Estate Agent and One Word of Warning!

Three ways to choose a Real Estate Agent and One Word of Warning.

1. Choose an agent in Ottawa who looks professional in every way. This includes grooming, clothing and shoe apparel. Consider the appearance of their car. It’s not that I promote judging a book by the cover, no, it ‘s more a matter of detail.  Nice clothing and good grooming are not indicators of knowledge, experience or powerful negotiating skills. No, but managing detail is a major part of a real estate transaction and most agents handle several clients at various stages of buying and selling. So managing the paperwork, appointment’s and timelines are extremely important for a stress free transactions. You want your agent to be available in a timely manner. So managing the least obvious detail like shiny shoes and a clean car may be an indicator of competent management skills. They are organized and engaged.

2. Choose an agent who has experience buying or selling in the market that interests you. There are so many specialized real estate markets; Residential, Residential luxury, Condo, Condo High-rise, Waterfront, Building lot, Development, Commercial Purchase or Lease,  Rental, Investment, International Investment to name a few. Some agents have multiple specialties. Talk with them and share your knowledge and ask questions. Do they have answers or do they just talk and talk? Will they research  information to help you make choice? Do they actively listen and hear what motivates your search?

3. Choose and agent who shows experience in life; shows maturity. This can mean they have accomplished many things prior to becoming an agent. They have advanced education or exceptional life skills. They understand the cycles of life and see a panorama of consequence unfolding when a buyer or seller prepare to make a choice.  This sounds a little fortune teller like, but in my experience it’s not far from the truth! You want someone who advocates for you, and at the same time is engaged in promoting your interest not their own interest. It may be a business transaction for the agent but the outcome affects the client for life.

Word of Warning: Advertising is a powerful tool. It is called top of mind in the marketing lingo and flyers, bench signs, lawn signs and TV shows are great at promoting an ego, an agent or company. What is more important to you is how you interact together.  You need to feel they are loyal and trustworthy. Having a sense of humour is also top of the list!

5 Serious Mistakes Made by Home Buyers.

1. Want to do it on their own.

Open houses are a great way to begin a new home search but after a while it becomes distracting visiting houses with other visitors wandering about, talking; cluttered boots and wet floors at the entry way. The agent on duty may greet you but what they really want is to go home and avoid the probing questions. Some people are never happy with the answer; always sceptical. Work with a trusted agent.

2. Don’t consider the big picture in financing.

Home financing is a big deal! Without clarity a house search is a waste of time. Approval, Pre-approval, Deposits, Down Payment, RRSP Withdrawal, 32% or 42% Lending Factor, Discount Interest Rates or Published, Bank or Mortgage Broker, Term or Amortization period, Insured or not, CMHC Mortgage Insurance, Gifts, PLC, Repayment Privilege, Accelerated Payments, Credit Rating, Equifax, Tax Assessments, Mortgage Insurance, Cash Flow. If you default on Purchase Agreement… now what? House Poor or comfortable? Power of sale? KK Need I say more? Ask a real estate agent for advice.

3. Shop for housing like they browse eBay.

The internet is a empowering tool to help buyers see most of the inventory of homes, building lots and commercial listings for sale. With the click of the mouse internets sites update, select by price, style and features desired. Consider the act of choice; every mouse click includes and excludes choice homes. Not a simple as it at first appears. Perhaps the philosophic thought applies… When the student is ready the teacher appears. When the buyer is ready the house appears. Or does it? Now what? What is value vs. price? What are past sales in the neighbourhood? Write an offer on a napkin and send to whom? You could ask a friend for help or trust mom and dad for their thoughts. Wouldn’t it be easier to ask a real estate agent for guidance right from the beginning? They are your personal guide to a successful purchase.

4. Offer too low and expect too much.

It is common to think that the process of buying is to offer low and negotiate to middle ground. Remember the seller has done their home work and knows market conditions affecting their house. Of course they have an experienced real estate agent guiding them all the way from market conditions to expected sale price. They have reviewed the most likely buyer by demographic profile. As a buyer don’t you want the same service? Offer too low and the seller isn’t interested in working with you. An insult! No second chance if you discover that there was a second offer! Like having the carpet pulled our from under you.

5. Mistrust the help of professionals.

As an agent broker I work with many professionals in the real estate field on a daily basis. They have specialized knowledge and experience. Recently a lawyer told the story of a buyer who asked him to do only the registration of a house sale and how much would that be. Apparently the buyer felt they could do all the other tasks on his own after viewing an on line description of a real estate conveyance . They were up for the challenge and could save money at the same time. The lawyer wisely declined the case. Buyers and some sellers frequently don’t grasp the consequences of contract law. Claiming not to know may work in high school but it could land you in court for serious damages if your offer goes off the tracks. Do it right. Hire and trust professionals.

Hanging Artwork is part of Staging a Home for Sale


Hanging Art Work is part of Home Staging

It’s fun to personalize interior walls with photos, posters and paintings. Here is what I suggest to make the hanging of artwork easy. Ask a helper to hold the artwork on the wall to position it. You generally want the art work low on the wall, just lower than half the wall height. When you are happy with the position mark the spot on the wall at the top of the frame with a pencil. Then turn the frame around and measure from the top of the frame to hanging wire pulled tight. Return to the wall and place two nails slightly apart at the same measurement down from your pencil mark. The second nail helps to keep the work from tilting. Easy!
Tip 1. Adding a small curl of masking tape behind the bottom two corners is another way to steady a painting.
Tip 2. Positioning is very important! Frames placed high on the wall have the effect of reducing  the ceiling height. Frames placed lower on the walls give the appearance of higher ceilings and add a spacious feel.
Tip 3. Consider the wall space dimension when choosing art work. Wide walls accentuate the horizontal and generally you would choose a wide art piece for the wide wall. High narrow walls accommodate vertical pieces. Above a fireplace you may choose a vertical art piece to emphasize the ceiling height and the strength of the fireplace. 
Tip 4. Hanging two or more art works is more challenging because you want the frames to line up and look even. First check that all the wire hangers are spaced equally from the top of the frame. Have a helper place the first or middle frame on the wall and mark it with a pencil. Mark the left and right side as well. Add the space between the frames and use the ceiling as your base measure to transfer the height for the additional frames on the left or right sides. A level is good but using the ceiling is often more pleasing to the eye.
Tip 5. Use professional hooks with thin nails and angled to securely hold art work. It makes the job easier. Adjustable hooks allow an up down movement using a screw mechanism. These are very useful when absolute accuracy is needed.

Another Episode of Watch Your Money!

Fraud Watch: Count Your Money  Episode 2

This just in. It’s a true story about one  of my clients who’s Ottawa home I recently sold. People in the habit of receiving cash directly for the bank teller take note; Count your money!

Here’s the scenario. Senior gentleman regularly visits the bank just before 10 am to receive $400 cash from the teller. He likes to exchange a word with the young teller. He likes the attention. She smiles and counts out the cash, compiles it, and with a tap she passes the withdrawal to the client. She smiles, makes eye contact. She wishes him a good afternoon. She knows he is in the habit of placing the money directly into his wallet without counting. He smiles and leaves the bank.
This scene repeats itself week after week and the senior is happy to wait for his favourite teller to serve him, in fact he knows her work schedule so that he can make his withdrawals on her shift. He loves to see her friendly smile. It makes his day!

Yesterday, the senior receives a call from the bank manager asking him to come into the branch office for a special meeting. The manager sits across from his big desk and tells the senior gentleman that a teller has been flagged.  She has been shorting changing customers. The manager calculates $1,400 is owing!
Incredulous, the senior refuses to accept that he has been defrauded of any money. He’s concerned his favourite teller will be dismissed or worse yet, face a jail term. Only after the manager describes in detail each occurrence with dates and amounts withheld does the gentleman begin to accept the deceit. It’s all on video says the manager. This incident has been kept within house by the manager so that it doesn’t go public and draw attention to the bank name, at least so far. Corporate image to protect, know what I mean?

The bank manager offers the senior a cheque for $1,400 to cover his shortfall. Makes you think differently about the automatic bank teller. I thought they were more likely to miss a twenty here and there. In fact the automatic tellers have an accuracy of 99.9 % and they deliver 24 – 7. But, the smile is missing!
So why then do I count the bills I get from the automatic teller and not those I receiver from the human teller? Watch the video and watch your money!