All posts for the month March, 2019

What Clients Want from Their Real Estate Agent

Published March 26, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

Every once in a while it’s good to get back to the fundamentals, and that’s true whether you’re talking about your career, your golf game, or even your culinary capabilities. Often you’ll find that by reorienting your foundation in smart ways means everything that’s built on top it is improved as well. Being a service-plus real estate agent in Canada is no exception, here.

While experienced realtors will quite likely have a firm grasp on strong fundamentals in the real estate business, it is novices like many of you taking advantage of our opportunity here who’ll benefit from first understanding them, and then revisiting them often.

Speaking of opportunities first, however, our online real estate lead generation system for Canada here at Real Estate Leads comes extremely well recommended for any realtor who’d prefer to hit the ground running and build up his or her real estate business with greater rapidity. Long story short, it puts qualified leads for you area in the hands of one realtor and one realtor only – you. Of course, those leads are only opportunities – what you do with them is up to you, but a market and industry-savvy realtor is always up to that challenge.

Back to today’s topic though – what are the fundamental basics of what clients want from their real estate agent?

Buyer Client Expectations

The first difference to understand with buyers in comparison to sellers is that they’re a whole lot more complex and varied with their prerogatives most the time. There are different levels of experience and requirements. First-time buyers often need an overly guided approach to their buying a home. Investors, on the other hand, will usually want lots of data. Transactional help, lots of interpretation of documents, and help with decisions are often also standard wants / needs for buyers.

But that’s likely quite obvious for many of you, so let’s look at specific buyers based on the properties they’ll be evaluating.

If a client is focused on the vacation or resort home market, they’ll almost always need even more support. Many of these properties are in rural, mountain or seaside areas, and these are areas that often have strict environmental, developmental and building codes. If your client is an out-of-area buyer they will be looking to you to provide skilled representation to ensure they aren’t buying something with hidden future problems.

When representing buyers in other specialized areas or property types, these buyers will tend to lean more on your expertise and local market knowledge. Condominiums are the purchase of-choice for most buyers these days in Canada’s large urban centers, and they’re that way very much out of necessity. Condo rules (via strata) and financial particulars will be extremely important to these buyers, and they want their realtor to be explicitly in the know about them before they go to see the property together for the first time.

Next, investment property buyers. As a whole, these buyers will usually be the most ‘informed’ demographic you’ll serve as a realtor, and just because this ‘isn’t their first rodeo’ as the expression goes. When it comes to these buyers, they often approach you with a great deal of market knowledge. Interestingly, what they value most in a realtor is an ability to take an aggressive approach to helping them locate good investment deals, and then strong negotiating skills to help them get their desired property at the right price. A real estate professional who can catch things they may have missed and bring them to their attention before an investment mistake is an invaluable resource for them.

Seller Client Expectations

It’s inadvisable to look at sellers as individuals who just want to sell their home quickly and for as much as possible. Yes, on the whole sellers are less likely to be overly reliant on their agents for help in the process. Most sellers will know how technology has changed the game in as far as how a home is marketed to the masses these days.

So where are their priorities now, and what do they want most from a listing realtor? Their hope will be that you will take the initiative when it comes to commissions and finding ways with creating lower costs with roughly equal marketing options. If you’re working with aa full-service commission arrangement, you need to have at least a few instances where you’ve gone ‘above and beyond’ and left them with the impression that it’ more than they might have received from a lesser real estate professional.

One very interesting trend that’s been observed from client satisfaction surveys in real estate for North America is that some home seller client really appreciated how their realtor was able to effectively and rationally explain to them how commission-free or low-commission real estate services (which are popping up absolutely everywhere these days) are inferior to that provided by a genuine in-the-flesh / at-your-door real estate agent.

This doesn’t mean simply stating – however truthful – that these homes tend to stay on the market longer. Instead, you should be able to explain why that is and what you’re able to do counter that eventuality if they choose to work with you.

Be in the know – and very in the know preferably.

All Consumers

We’ll conclude here today with a bullet point list of the skills and qualities actual home buyers and sellers of all types will typically be looking for in their realtor:

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Knowledge of purchase process
  • Responsiveness
  • Knowledge of real estate market
  • Communication skills
  • Negotiation skills

There are others, including people skills and technical skills, but these 6 are boxes that you need to be able to check and list out how you meet those needs exactly. Your marketing may feature these skill sets, or it may not. Either way, there’s always room for improvement doing your very best in these areas.

In conclusion, we can say that the qualities of a good real estate agent will vary based on consumer needs but the basics will always apply and are worthy of ongoing focus as a result.

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Young Canadians Still Holding onto Detached Home Aspirations

Published March 19, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

Much has been made lately of the way the new home development industry has shifted more and more to a focus on condominium development over the years due to land constraints, average consumer purchasing power, and the need to build upwards in popular major metro areas in Canada. All of this continues with just the same energy as before, and it is true that multi-family housing development IS the future of housing in Canada’s big cities whether people like it or not.

Successful realtors adapt to the new realities of the industry, and it’s likely fair to say that the majority of first-time homebuyer clients are going to be looking at condos exclusively if they’re looking for a first home in Vancouver, Calgary, or Toronto. Where you put your energies is a very strategic decision, and being more explicitly in the know about the condo market may be an advantage. However, it would seem that the classic dream of a detached home with a backyard and every other kitschy appeal isn’t one that some people are willing to forego.

Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system is a proven effective way of being put in touch with prospective clients who are genuinely considering buying or selling a home sometime in the near future. As far as would-be home buyers are concerned, they may well have their eyes on a condo that’s in town and near to work for the couple, but if there’s kids in the picture they may well be willing to take on a higher mortgage (provided they’ll qualify) and accept a longer commute to have everything a detached home has to offer.

So what’s the ins and outs of why some young people aren’t willing to give up on owning a detached home like the one many of them were likely raised in? Let’s have a look at that here today.

Still Worth It for Some

It’s a given that condo supply in the country’s largest markets will see significant increases in the near future, but a recent Globe and Mail report indicated that for the most part young professionals and those starting families will still prefer to buy and live in single-detached homes.

Federal policy focused on boosting the availability of low-cost condo units in downtown areas is smart and well intentioned, but it has unwittingly encouraged urban sprawl by forcing more Canadians to look further out into the suburbs to be able to realize their dream of a owning a detached, single-family home with a yard.

Why most – especially singles or couples – would see a condo as their best fit is fairly easy to understanding; they’re more likely to be able to extend the amortization period on insured mortgages, easing the stress test introduced last year or increasing the $750 tax credit for first-time buyers.

However, it seems that many millennials still ultimately aspire to purchase single-family homes.

Look at Montreal

Greater Montreal is a good place to see this phenomenon playing out. Updated numbers provided by the Quebec statistics agency showed that nearly 24,000 residents (many of whom met ‘young household’ criteria) moved from Montreal to the suburbs and beyond over the course of 2018. This migration was the largest off-core one since 2010.

The consensus seems to be that attempts by policy makers and urban planners to coax Canadians into accepting condo living as a semi-permanent state in life may come from good intentions, but it is has not stopped millennials from dreaming the suburban dream and realizing that 600-square feet is going to impinge their quality of life to an extent that many of them will deem unacceptable.

If you’re a realtor in one of these pricey urban areas you’d be well advised to NOT approach any young buyer individual / couple without kids with the assumption that they’re going to want to get into a condo. Yes, most will but you shouldn’t make any assumptions – especially for the reasons being laid out here.

Willing to Commute

It seems that younger Canadians are willing to take their mobility in their own hands if it means having their own suburban single-detached property. If a big yard for the kids is a must, many of them are willing to spend 2 or more hours of their day getting to work and back. That of course has it’s own negative ramifications, but it is what is in as far as understanding your prospective clients’ motivations.

It is true that more Canadians than ever are driving to work, proof that efforts to promote mass transit and densification have done little to kill the dream of a house in the suburbs. If that’s what a client wants and is willing to pay for (both in financial terms and what they’ll pay for in lost time commuting) then you’ll be best served by understanding and relating to their buyer prerogatives and catering to them like any good real estate agent would.

Sign up for Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated buyer and / or seller leads delivered to you exclusively for your privately-served region of any city or town in Canada. You can count on having many bonafide opportunities to turn these leads into clients, and it’s a fact that most realtors who’ve already gotten on board with this see it as 100% worthwhile investment in the current and future success of their real estate business.

Weak Loonie Hampering Snowbirds’ Property Buying Tendencies in U.S.

Published March 12, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

Certain spots in the USA have long been hotspots for Canadians who have the financial means of buying an owning a vacation property in the US. While there are exceptions, it tends to be that those from Ontario eastwards have always gravitated to Florida, while those Manitoba and westwards have done the same for Arizona. And the term given to them – ‘snowbirds’ – is pretty self-explanatory; they ‘fly’ south to get away from the snow and the rest of Canadian’s chilly winter temperatures.
It goes both ways too, as there are always American clients who’d like to own a vacation home in Canada. Often times, their prerogatives are exactly the opposite – instead of trying to get away from the snow they’re trying to be enjoy the best of it as they don’t have the same skiing or snowmobiling opportunities down where they call home. As a realtor you’ll be very thankful to meet these would-be buyers from south of the 49th parallel.

Effective client prospecting for real estate agents means putting out feelers as far as possible, and that can include doing so for Americans interested in Canadian real estate opportunities. Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation service is an excellent way to meet would-be buyers of ALL different interests, and it’s true that some of them may not call Canada home.
Currently, discrepancies between the dollar’s worth for each country is going to mean that American interest in Canadian properties is going to outstrip Canadian interest in American properties quite handily. That might be to your benefit, so let’s have a look at why fewer Snowbirds are looking at purchasing U.S. real estate these days.

CDN $ at 13-Year Low in Comparison to U.S. Greenback
With the value of the Canadian dollar hitting a 13-year low, a Canadian’s purchasing capacities down south are seriously constrained right now. Cross-border travelers and snowbirds face higher expenses for everything from groceries to rent due to an unfavorable exchange rate. To put it in a real estate-perspective, if a Canadian was to buy a $200,000 home in all cash then the current exchange rate would have them spending an extra $66,000 to buy that home.Easy to see why the numbers are very down right now

Professional Advice for Clients Determined to Buy in USA
Some people will still insist on forging ahead and buying the vacation home in the USA they’ve wanted for years, and nearly all of will have some pressing reason to be willing to overlook the very tilted market dynamics.
If you are serving one of these types of real estate clients, here are some tips to help improve the experience for them AND see to it their money goes as far as it possibly can:

• Advise them on how to get the best exchange rate – tell your clients that rather than exchanging money several times throughout their visit to the U.S., exchanging it in one lump sum will usually mean a lower exchange rate paid. Tell them not to be dissuaded by paying a higher one-time processing fee for the transaction.

• Make them aware of the possible benefits of refinancing their home – many Canadians bought their U.S. home between 2009 and 2013 when the CAD $ was near to or equal with the U.S. dollar. Naturally, many of these homes will have appreciated over the years. Those who are already U.S. homeowners in popular snowbird markets are in a unique and favorable position to take advantage of their property’s appreciation and the strong U.S. dollar.
Refinancing may allow them to take the surplus earned on the currency exchange, and use it to repay debts or make new investments back in Canada. Money kept in USD can be spent on renovations to their U.S. home or placed in a high-interest savings account in the U.S. where it will grow more than it would in Canada and remain FDIC-insured.

• Buy, Don’t Rent – It’s a fact that rent is expensive during certain times of the year (if not all year) in popular snowbird hotspots. If property values weren’t still comparatively affordable in comparison to similar housing in Canada then it might be wise to rent until the loonie gains strength. But property values are comparable, so you can be confident in telling clients to still go ahead and buy if they find a property that really works for them.
To give an example, renting a condo in Fort Lauderdale, FLA might cost $3,000 in monthly rent during peak season. However, the monthly mortgage payment when purchasing the same property would only be $1100 or so. Unlikely that they’ll find ANY type of acceptable accommodations for anything less than $1100, or the even higher number that would include strata payments and maintenance.
Tell them to keep in mind as well that while rent payments continue to climb each year, monthly mortgage payments stay consistent. And they can rent the property when not using to cover their mortgage, homeowners’ association fees and property tax.

• Suggest They Take a Mortgage on Their U.S. Property, Even if They Can Buy It Outright – It’s wise to advise clients to consider a U.S. mortgage instead of paying for the entirety of the home’s price in cash. By applying for an adjustable rate mortgage with a fixed term, they’ll be able to avoid the one-time cost of currency exchange in a large amount now. Plus it creates the possibility of paying off their mortgage without any prepayment penalties if the Canadian dollar improves.

• Clients Will Pay Less for U.S. Purchases with a U.S. Credit Card – this is one piece of advice that most clients will be able to figure out on their own, but if not you should go ahead and make them aware of the fact that obtaining a U.S. credit card will let them save foreign transaction fees on purchases made in the U.S

If you’re newer to Real Estate and you’ve never helped clients with buying out of country you’ll almost certainly be challenged by it, but in truth common sense and a willingness to learn as you go will work out just fine for any realtor. Use these suggestion tips to build a rapport with your clients, and be sure to dig deeper and learn more on your own.

Sign up with Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated buyer and / or seller leads delivered to you exclusively for your privately-served region of any city or town in Canada. You’ll be given the means to be directly in touch with people who are genuinely considering buying or selling a home in the near future, and the opportunity presented by that is yours and yours alone.
Many realtors have gotten on board already, so if you’d like to be the exclusive recipient of leads for your preferred area of any city or town then we encourage you to be in touch with us without delay!

The Basics of Putting Together a Solid Comparative Market Analysis

Published March 5, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

If you’re new realtor here in Canada you’ll quickly learn that offering a free market analysis for prospective clients and their homes is pretty much standard practice for every real estate agent. They’re a show of good faith and a nice little bonus for homeowners who are looking for an experience and knowledgeable realtor who is an expert with the local market. That’s an opportunity for you, and being able to put together a solid CMA for clients is definitely important. The same can be said for ANYTHING that helps you become ever more solidly cemented as a good realtor who’s known as a good choice.

Client prospecting is a multi-approach need for all realtors, not just those who are new to the business. Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system is a real benefit for those who understand what the power of the Internet is capable of in regard to identifying people who are very sincere about buying or selling a home in the near future. Nearly everyone who’s signed up so far has come to regard it as money well spent, and there’s plenty of room left to get onboard.

But back to the topic here, what are the basics of what goes into putting together a CMA for homeowners you’d like to eventually see become your clients? Let’s discuss that now.

Plain and Simple Comparisons

The purpose of a CMA from the realtor’s perspective is twofold; to share valuable information with the homeowner, and equally as prominently to hopefully make them into clients down the road. From the homeowners perspective, however, it’s much simpler. They’d like to know what the value of their home is in comparison to those seen with other similar homes in the neighbourhood that have sold for certain prices.

Accessing sold property records allows the realtor to select recently sold properties that are similar to the subject property and in the same geographical area. Comparing these properties is only just a start, as you need to adjust for feature differences, and the realtor should always make explicitly clear that this CMA is only an estimate of the value seen for the subject property. Keep in mind that the best realtors will always be just fine with doing a second different CMA for a seller or a buyer.

A second CMA would include comparisons to currently listed similar properties in the area. The same process would be used, but using only currently listed properties. This is smart because it allows an assessment of the current competition, and may highlight increases or decreases in the estimate based on the sold properties. And of course you can be certain your initiative in providing a second CMA will put you in a very good light with the homeowners.

Quality of Comparable Selections

A crucial part of any CMA’s accuracy and one where you really need to do your homework to make sure you’re in the right with it is determining market value based on a selection of the best comparable properties. It’s true that choosing even one different comparable out of three or four homes taken into consideration can result in very different valuations. You want to have a CMA based on the best comparable properties, and for two reasons.

First, it ensure that there’s very little chance the homeowners will be disappointed when finding that there home has been overvalued in the CMA. Second, the lower value that will come with may end up leading the home to be listed at a price that eventually is exceed in the sale price due to competition amongst buyers who see more value there.

How that will appeal to homeowners needs no explanation!

Considerations When Choosing Comparable Properties

  • When the property sold: Homes that sold more than two or three months ago are not good comps, especially in fast-moving markets. The more recent the sale of the home being completed, the less likely it is that the market has shifted enough to make the properties’ sold prices less relevant to the market analysis you’re preparing.
  • The property’s location: The most ideal situation is that the home is in the same neighbourhood. When that’s not possible then the next consideration is locating comparable homes in the same suburb or in a next-door neighbourhood. This is nearly always possible, at least in large urban / suburban centers. In more rural areas there’s a lot more leeway with comparative properties used.
  • The home’s characteristics: This is pretty straightforward – what number of bedrooms? Baths? Overall square footage of the home? Size of the lot? The homes you choose as comparable homes should be as similar as possible with regard to these considerations. It’s rare to find ones that match exactly, so choose the ones that come closest.

Quality of the Adjustments

You need to also keep in mind that you must tailor your CMA numbers to compensate for differences in the structures. A realtor will understand the need to make adjustments when weighing the sold prices of the comparable homes to those being considered for the subject property.

An example; The prospective client owns a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with a two-car attached garage, and 2500 square feet of living area. You’re tasked to find three or four comps with all of those features at approximately the same numbers:

  • One comp only has two bedrooms. You can assume that it would have sold for more money with three, so you can go ahead and add some money back to its actual sold price to adjust it to having its 3 bedrooms. The same approach can be used for baths and garage spaces.
  • If it is the opposite, say three bathrooms to the subject home only having two, you’ll go ahead and subtract the value of a bathroom from the sold price as you work out an approximate selling value for this comparable home.
  • Generally, square footage calculations aren’t touched until you do your calculation final.

Once you have adjusted the comparable homes sold prices, then you’ll divide each sold price by their square feet to get an exact sold price per square foot. Next, average those for your three or more comps to get one average value per square foot that can be applied to all of them as a ‘housing average’ for the area. Then you simply multiply that by your subject home’s square footage to arrive at an estimated current market value.

These are the basics of putting together a CMA, and there’s plenty more to be learned – from your real estate brokerage colleagues most likely.

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