All posts for the month October, 2017

Six Hallmarks of Successful Real Estate Agents

Published October 30, 2017 by Real Estate Leads

Attractive Mixed Race Woman in Front of House and Sold Real Estate Sign.It’s been a while since we offered a blog post that wasn’t related to the nature of the market or the ins and outs of buying or selling a home for clients. Statistics reflect ever greater numbers of realtors becoming REB certified in most major cities in Canada, and while that’s to be expected it still poses competition issues for those who are new to the ‘game’ and feel a real need to start building their business with some expediency.

Here at Real Estate Leads, we’re happy to make our online real estate lead generation system available as a means of allowing these new realtors to start getting in touch with legitimate prospective clients in their area. We of course extend that invite to all of you, whether you’re new to the real estate business or well experienced. But today let’s get back to the basics and share tried-n-true approaches to getting your establishing yourself as a successful realtor, and sooner rather than later!

They are Genuinely Passionate about Real Estate

Quite plainly, nothing is more important than a genuine passion for both homes AND putting people in the right one for them. You need to get a real ‘kick’ out of doing so, and it MUST be more than simply a means of getting your commission. We can’t state this strongly enough.

They Return Calls and Emails with Little to No Delay

These are the realtors that take the opportunity of a lead and make something out of it the majority of the time. They immediately make contact and they follow up, answering any questions and perfectly happy to stay on the phone with clients for as long as the client needs to stay on the phone. They are never disconnected from email, text, and phone and they don’t loosen up on that until the entire client-service experience and transaction is complete.

What this does is foster and understanding in the client that they are very important to you, and that’ obviously a huge plus. In addition, be open to switching your communication avenue to match the client’s preferences. If the client prefers text, then text. If the client prefers calls, then call. Pretty simple really.

They are Familiar and Capable with the Latest Tech

This may be a challenge for some, and older newer realtors in particular. If you’re not 100% adept with modern communication devices and applications, putting time (and perhaps money) into getting up to speed with them ASAP is highly recommended. Most successful realtors are all about their tablets and smartphones, and you’ll find many are also quite capable with higher-end DSLR cameras. They make sure they have great data plans so they are never stuck without a remote internet connection. They try to go paperless as much as possible. They put nearly as much time into learning about technology as they do learning about the changing real estate industry in Canada.

They Know Their Neighbourhoods Explicitly Well

You want to become a “neighbourhood expert” as soon as possible. All top agents are walking, talking encyclopedias of what the neighbourhood offers for a prospective new home owner considering buying in the area. They know what’s on the market, what has sold recently, and the overall status of the neighborhood, including planned changes and developments lined up for the future. Becoming this way doesn’t just ‘happen’, you have to put in the time to learn and always have your ear to the ground to stay on top of what’s new in the neighbourhood.

They Are Entirely Open and Transparent Regarding Their Work

Successful agents don’t just make themselves available and then conduct their work out of sight until the client has a buyer for their home, or a new home to buy. The best ones are very active in ensuring their actions are entirely on display and relatable for the client. When they meet with the client for the first time they explain the process, the potential roadblocks, and any of the more likely scenarios that could occur. They keep the client entirely in the know with negotiations, and in this regard it’s better to be ‘overloading’ the client with information rather than supply a ‘reasonable’ amount of it.

Further, they discuss any perceived need to adjust their strategy with the client very proactively. Try to aim to make yourself so transparent in your operations that it’s unlikely that clients would even have the need to inquire about what you’re doing. But when they do, go on at great length and be very clear in why you think it’s the best course of action.

They Generate Leads by Any and All Means Necessary

Leads are nothing more than opportunities, and not all opportunities will lead to a new client. This is true in many cases where even doing everything in your power isn’t going to convert the lead into a client. That’s the nature of the business, always has been and always will be. Smart agents are experimenters, they try out different types of lead sources, they explore different types of ad campaigns, and they analyze what works and what doesn’t. They understand that having a social media presence is important and that advertising and promotion efforts need to be constantly reevaluated and changed given the current climates in the business.

They Have GREAT Networks

The best and most successful agents don’t just have a network to generate clientele, they have a network of top-notch real estate agent partners who have the same understanding of what’s required of them to be the top agents they are. They know the best contractors, appraisers, lenders, and insurance providers in the business. Aim to be a hub of a group of professionals that can advise and assist with anything real estate or home related. Top agents care for their network and are happy to refer clients to other agents from whom they can rely on receiving the best service. Further, they know and can identify realtors who don’t make the grade in this regard. Admittedly, the second part of that equation is one that takes some time to acquire

The best realtors are knowledgeable, authentic, and equal parts driven and passionate to really help people find themselves in the right home for that stage of their life. You too can become one of them, and signing up with Real Estate Leads here is a great start to begin generating those ‘opportunities’ we’ve been talking about. Follow the tips we’ve laid out for you here and you’ll almost certainly see more of your opportunities successfully converted into clients.

New Mortgage Stress Tests Taking Hold In Canada Eliminates Many Would-Be Buyers

Published October 23, 2017 by Real Estate Leads

Ärger im GeschäftBuying a home has been a daunting prospect for many people for decades, and particularly so these days given the projections of just how extensively you’re going to stretch yourself to afford a home in Canada’s most popular and hotly-contested metro areas. Now, however, it’s not only a daunting prospect but increasingly an impossible one for many would-be buyers given the new mortgage qualification standards set to come into effect in early 2018.

Here at Real Estate Leads, we’re pleased with how our online real estate lead generation system has been so well received by realtors across Canada. We also enjoy discussing how certain trends in the industry have the potential to weigh in with the livelihood of realtors like you, as well as affect the prosperity of the clients that are so essential to the wellbeing of your business.

This is most certainly one of them, as it means that fewer households than ever before we’ll be deemed to be worthy of lending to purchase a home. Let’s have a look.

West Coast Prospective Buyers Bearing the Brunt

Most notably it’s Vancouver real estate buyers that could find themselves severely disadvantaged. The federal Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) has introduced draft guidelines around the regulations of mortgage lending. The mortgage industry’s disdain for the decision is readily apparent, and it’s certainly not difficult to see why. Vancouver prospective buyers would be most at risk of seeing their buying capacities constrained, but all across the country we would see the already low number of households that could buy be reduced even further – and by quite a bit.

Let’s look inside this ‘Stress Test’, shall we? The first thing that’s a need to know fact is that conventional mortgages are to be tested at 200 bps above contract rate.

A conventional mortgage is one that’s predicated on a down payment higher than 20%. 200 bps in simpler terms is 2%. The new ‘reality’ will be that any mortgage with a down payment higher than 20% will now require that the borrower proves they can pay the mortgage at a rate that’s 2% higher.

At the most basic level this regulation makes sense. Interest rates are predicted to fluctuate in coming years, and buyers should be able to accommodate spikes – particularly given that mortgages need to be renewed over the course of the term. Essentially, conventional borrowers would now be on the same page as insured borrowers.

Detractors oppose this new regulation for many reasons, but none more prominently than this one; the likelihood of home prices dropping 20%+ is slimmer than the 5% required for an insured mortgage. In all fairness, that’s a solid argument but as is always the case there’s nearly certainly a number of extenuating possibilities that are factoring into the OSFI’s decision.

Lotus Land Letdown

In today’s lending atmosphere, few families and surprisingly few individuals as well can afford a conventional mortgage in Vancouver on a typical home. And as we haven’t dropped a staggering statistic yet, here you go – a typical home in Vancouver is now a hard-to-believe $1,037,300 according to the REBGV (Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver). And that’s a typical composite, and not even a detached home. If you want one of those in both Vancouver and Toronto you’d better have extensive financial means.

What would appear to be the lowest mortgage rate now is somewhere in the vicinity of 2.89%. So let’s now work with that around a 20% down payment. That works out to only 24.21% of Vancouver households being able to carry the payments for a typical home under these new rules. In addition, this is also based on a decent credit rating for the applicant. The fact that just 4.1% of homes traded hands last year bears out the fact that fewer and fewer people are being deemed as qualified to borrow for buying a home.

Potentially Wide-Reaching Implications

The consensus seems to be that the proposed guidelines will reduce buying power by just over 25% overall. Vancouver will of course be significantly impacted, but there other spots in the country as well and you can probably name them off the top of your head as easily as we can. Stress testing drops the number of Census households that could carry a traditional mortgage on a typical home down to 16.68%, which as you might imagine is a brand new low and obviously concerning for those of us who make our living in the real estate business and want the industry to keep ALL afloat, not just a select few.

Looking at some other hotspots, 49% of Census households in Toronto have up until now been able to carry the payments for a typical home in Hogtown. The new regulations will make it that only 40% of households will be able to do so.

Now of course this is not some sort of arbitrary and punitive decision introduced at the Federal level to impinge a buyer’s ability to buy homes. There’s two sides to these numbers. Seeing to it that people can continue to pay their mortgage at a higher rate is clearly a responsibility. However, there of course will be fewer numbers of people who will be able to borrow. Accordingly, we’ll see transaction volume decrease significantly as less buyers qualify or home prices will drop as fewer qualified buyers will be active in the market.

Neither prospect is going to be particularly appealing for realtors, but you just have to believe in the ‘invisible hand’, if you will, that has been dictating ebbs and flows in this industry for many decades now.

5 Networking Tips for Ambitious New Realtors

Published October 17, 2017 by Real Estate Leads

Real estate business search buy house for sale security web building concept. Construction architecture magnifier social network insurance realtor technologyWith the success of our online real estate lead generation system, we here at Real Estate Leads can safely assume that a good number of our new signups are going to be real estate agents who are new to the business and eager to hit the ground running. There’s no substitute for hard work and taking initiative to build your business, and getting our system behind you is a great co-starting move.

With that understood, networking is the real key to both establishing yourself in your region and making a name for yourself as a reliable professional. Learning how to network effectively is a must if this is going to be your chosen profession. With this understood, it’s quite surprising that so many realtors – both new and established – don’t do their best to maximize their networking efforts. Here’s our list of networking tips and suggestions which so many have found useful in the early stages of their real estate careers.

  1. Be Selective in Building your Professional Associates Team

Identify a successful realtor in your office or in the city. Chances are he or she has a collection of competent and trustworthy people that are critical to the success of their real estate business. The key is building relationships with individuals and firms in your community that have already built strong reputations for themselves.

These individuals can be your mortgage broker, home inspector, tradespersons, or anyone else with whom you’ll be doing repeat business that’s mutually beneficial. Also aim to build good working relationships with complementary businesses, most namely real estate industry vendors with whom you don’t directly compete. Make it a goal to identify and meet a network of vendors to whom you can refer clients, and vice versa. It will do immensely beneficial for your professional network.

  1. Create a Professional Website, and Start Blogging on It

It’s highly advisable to see your real estate business as a digital media business and communicate and promote it via digital means as often as possible. This starts with your website; make sure to have one that is modern, attractive, and laid out with functionality first in mind. We’ll go ahead and assume that few if any of you are capable of building one on your own, and so it’s best to spend the money it costs to have yours built and nicely detailed by a web design professional.

It’s also wise to buy into the belief that every house tells a story. Many times the character and story of a home is lost in its listing description, but if you host a blog through your site (and you should) you have unlimited opportunities to expand upon the detailing of the house and its benefits. You don’t have to possess any natural ability as a writer, just be yourself and start writing. If you’ve got concerns about grammar, spelling, or anything similar of the sort you can hire an editor to go over your stuff once a week.

Make use of local imagery and don’t rely on stock building and property photos. Showcase the best that your area has to offer by publishing high-res photos of local town landmarks and familiar sites. That successful real estate is often the product of great photography is oh so true. Keep that in mind for your website

Last but not least, take every opportunity to link to other reputable real estate information sources from your website / blog. It will establish your authority.

  1. Social Media

Social media is now well established as a powerful tool to connect with your clients, and it also creates a great opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise with your clients in an easily shareable and digestible format. When other users interact with your social media posts, respond to all inquiries, emails, and messages across all channels without delay (checking every night at some point is a good idea).

Interact with users, share good press, and promote your properties but don’t overdo it – you don’t want to bombard viewers with your listings and make them become resentful of the overload. Make yourself easy to contact and it’s recommended be an active user on multiple channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc). Facebook and Twitter are best for sharing your listings, and you then promote your properties on major real estate aggregators like Zillow and Trulia. Don’t be overly ‘salesy’ in your communications, keep it natural and more along the lines of ‘hey, you might want to just have a look at this.’

  1. Attend Conferences and Industry Events

Some people will not be receptive to this suggestion, and usually because they think ‘I go all day and I need to rest in the evening.’ Try to dial up the energy and commitment to get to these events, as they’re also very beneficial! These networking events are about engaging with other professionals in your industry. You should see them as opportunities to learn about new market information and innovations your colleagues are using to the benefit of their business. Not only will you learn for yourself, but they’ll be receptive to your interest and most of them will be happy to have further ‘work-related’ conversations with you in the future. Eventually, they may come to hold you in high regard and be willing to refer you.

When there, also try to expand your geographical network by engaging with influencers from other areas of your Province and, once you’re a veteran of these events, make it a point to look up your past connections for coffee or drinks. You’ll be maintaining and strengthening your relationships.

  1. Be Active in Your Local Community

It’s very important to be able to build rapport with others and relate to different types of when you work as a real estate professional. A big part of this for many is establishing a consistent presence within your own community and participating in community initiatives whenever the opportunity presents itself. Community involvement not only expands your client base, but it will also strengthen your knowledge of the neighbourhoods where these properties are located and the makeup of the community itself. Here are a few ideas of what you can do:

  • Local sponsorship of festivals, teams, or events. Great for branding and business recognition
  • Volunteer – Donate time to local groups and organizations. Volunteering for a local chapter of Habitat for Humanityis a smart choice for realtors given the relation to housing
  • Education – Offer to be available for local schools during career days; it’s an engaging way to generate real estate leads. Offer your expertise to local colleges or universities teaching real estate courses.

Last but not least, THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX when it comes to ideas how you can expand and strengthen your professional realtor network. Be creative and don’t be afraid to take risks, particularly if there’s little to no cost involved for you. And again, don’t overlook the value of old-fashioned door knocking, especially if you’re a gregarious and well-spoken individual.

Sign up with Real Estate Leads here and receive qualified online-generated buyer and seller leads delivered to you exclusively for your exclusively-owned region of the country. It’s a great way to start building your bank of prospective clients, and from there you can put your skills to good use turning them from prospects into actual clients!

Best of luck to all the new realtors who’ve joined us here, happy to have you!

4 Pre-Construction Closing Costs Homebuyers Should Be Aware Of

Published October 2, 2017 by Real Estate Leads

Sanierung EinfamilienhausThere’s no debating that buying a home during a pre-sale or even further in advance of construction beginning has many benefits. In addition to more agreeable pricing as the first buyer, your clients will also have more in the way of options for customizing their home, modifying it to accommodate a mortgage-helper suite if need be, etc. etc. As well, presale buyers will often have a grandfathered-in clause allowing them autonomy over whether or not they choose to rent out their unit, independent of complex-specific rental restrictions.

Here at Real Estate Leads, our online lead generation system for realtors in Canada has been so especially well received by realtors coast to coast, and we believe that helping you have further success with the increased opportunities it’s providing for you is beneficial for one and all. A knowledgeable realtor is always one held in high regard by prospective clients, so this week we’ll yet again share information on a subject yours may well want to know of – pre-construction closing costs.

They tend to be rather unexpected surprises for many a buyer, and you’ll be fostering better relations between them and yourself if you can make them better aware of these costs long before they near their closing on purchasing a home.

A Few Last Pricey Hurdles

It’s easy to get caught off guard with closing costs when buying a pre-construction home. They’ll vary depending on the value of the home, the municipality in which it’s located, and whether you’re a first-time home buyer or not.

As a general rule of thumb, advise your clients to have 2 – 4% of the purchase price earmarked for closing related costs.

Some of the most common of these added closing costs are:

  1. Development Charges

Pre-construction properties most often have development levies at the insistence of the city. The property developer will almost always pick up the lion’s share of them, but a portion of these costs are still passed on to the individual or couple purchasing the home. These development levies are very necessary; they go towards capital and operational expenses for the city, like building new schools, maintain utilities infrastructure, or funding new transit initiatives.

Clients considering buying a pre-construction home should aim to be very clear on whether or not there’s a cap on development charges, unless they’d like to be surprised at closing perhaps. Low rise homes will have their own specific charges, for benefits such as driveway paving, community tree planting, and work needing to be done to meet municipal building specs. Of course, every situation is different – you can go ahead and recommend your clients consult with a real estate lawyer you trust, in order to review the documents and be 100% clear on applicable fees.

  1. New Home Warranty

A New Home warranty is the term used for a warranty for a buyer’s pre-construction home. What’s typically covered within it?

  • A multi-year warranty for major structural defects
  • Deposits (paid to the builder in advance of the construction of the home)
  • Certain defects in work and material Protection against unauthorized substitutions
  • Coverage for common elements in condominiums
  • Compensation for construction delays or occupancy
  • Against financial loss for contract homes

More information in regards to these different coverages are found at the different new home warranty providers’ websites, depending on your Province. The cost of enrollment is – not surprisingly – dependent on the purchase price of your client’s home.

Ontario – Tarion

British Columbia – New Home Warranty via BC Housing

Alberta – ANHWP

Saskatchewan –

Manitoba – MBNHWP

Quebec – RBQ

New Brunswick / Nova Scotia / PEI / Newfoundland – AHWP

  1. Taxes

There are a pair of main taxes on pre-construction homes; the first is the provincial land transfer tax, and the next is provincial sales taxes. If your clients are purchasing a new townhouse, condo or house, however, there may also be an additional municipal land transfer tax.

In Ontario, for example, rates vary with their land transfer tax, depending on the purchase price of the home. Using the same example as above, a $532,000 home would correlate to a land transfer tax bill of approximately $7,100. Keep in mind that first-time homebuyers will likely be eligible for a $4,000 rebate.

To make it simpler, I recommend using RateHub’s land transfer tax calculator to determine the approximate amount your clients will come out at. (Can be used for any Province)

Pre-construction project pricing usually include the GST, or HST depending on your Province. In fact, the builders get a tax rebate on your behalf. Keep this in mind though – if the property is not going to be their principal residence and instead is going to be an investment property, in some (not all) Provinces you will face a tax bill that’s a percentage of your home’s purchase price. If you’re planning on using the home as an investment, be sure to budget for this additional tax.

Foreign buyers should also keep in mind that there’s also an additional 15-per-cent Non Resident Speculative Tax (NRST) for buyers in Metro Vancouver and Metro Toronto, which of course has been smartly implemented to protect housing for Canadians living in those metro areas.

  1. Lawyer Fees

Last but not least, there will also be lawyer fees that need to be accounted for. Real estate lawyers have a pair of main responsibilities; the first is conducting a title search, and the second is preparing an adjustment statement. This includes closing costs plus any additional applicable fees. It’s typical to expect to pay somewhere between $1200 – $1700 in legal fees, depending on the purchasing specifics. It’s always best to shop around for competitive rates, and going with experienced real estate lawyers is best.

It’s definitely stressful, but buying a new home is overall an enjoyable experience for most people. As a realtor you have the most power to make it so your clients’ experience, and by signing up with Real Estate Leads here you’ll have all the more opportunities to do what you do best and ensure your clients are 100% happy with every step of the process AND without too many unexpected surprising costs.