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All posts for the month February, 2020

Vancouver Following Rest of Canada’s Lead with Sharp Rises in Insolvencies

Published February 25, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

Everywhere you look these days you hear about how Canadians are carrying dangerously high levels of debt, and that many times the bulk of their dangerous debt is related to the roof over their head. Real Estate Agents will be better situated than most to know what the term ‘house poor’ means, and there’s a lot of people that are in nearly-over their heads in this way. This is particularly true in high demand, lower supply housing markets that are also popular destinations. That of course describes Toronto and Vancouver most explicitly, and to a lesser extent cities like Montreal and Calgary.

Homeowner insolvencies are increasing quite significantly all across the country, and whether they are for consumer proposals or bankruptcies it’s not only a major calamitous event for the homeowner and mortgage holder. It also send negative shockwaves through the prospective-homebuyer crowd and in the chill it can put on them is a negative factor for realtors who would either be helping them find a home or selling one to them on behalf of a client. There’s some insulating factors related to the market in Canada that take the edge off that, but it still makes the business a little more challenging.

Client prospecting can be more challenging for any number of reasons – consumer trepidation and uneasiness among them. Our online real estate lead generation service here at Real Estate Leads is an excellent way to harness the power of the Internet to be more immediately put in touch with people who are genuinely considering buying or selling a home in the near future. Being in touch with them first because of the service provides you with very obvious benefits.

But back to topic, what should be read into all these insolvencies when it comes to homeowners in Canada?

A Genuine Spike in Home Forfeitures via Insolvency

Greater Vancouver is following the rest of Canada’s lead when it comes to this spike in insolvencies. We need look no further than the National Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) and their data to see households filed a lot more insolvencies in Q4 2019. It’s interesting to note that Vancouver’s growth in them is showing itself to be consistent with elsewhere in the Province. However, there’s no debate that BC is seeing a very rapid rise in the number of distressed households.

Insolvencies Vs Bankruptcies

Bankruptcy tends to be a term that everyone’s familiar with, and fears accordingly. But many, real estate agents in Canada included, may not know the difference between a bankruptcy and an insolvency. There’s two types of insolvency in Canada – consumer proposals and bankruptcy.

With a consumer proposals the individual enters into a formal agreement with creditors to repay debt, doing so at a fraction of the amount and / or over a longer repayment period. Oppositely, a bankruptcy is when the borrowers gives up their assets in return for being no longer responsible for the debt. In both cases it’s really not quite that simple, but that explanation works well enough for our purposes here. Both are administered by a licensed insolvency trustee (LIT) and it’s fair to say that every time it gets to this point the person or entity has been swimming in debt.

If the debt is less considerable then the person can hope for a consumer proposal. Of course, homes in Canada and especially in popular locales are NEVER purchased for less than a considerable amount and most buyers will have a mortgage on half of the purchaser price or more (usually much more).

So we can then see that the majority of homeowners who going into insolvency with their home buying debt are going to be facing bankruptcy. In certain situations, however, bankruptcies are a better option for the borrower.

How serious is this problem, and is it an indication of something bigger like what occurred in America some 12 years ago? The second part of that would be a speculative discussion of its own, but we will take a look at how insolvencies are jumping in numbers in Vancouver.

End of 2019 Insolvency Spike in Greater Vancouver

Greater Vancouver insolvencies did take quite the leap at the end of last year, to the tune of 1,284 insolvency filings in Q4 2019, and that was up 12.2% from the same period in 2018. 398 of those were bankruptcies, and that’s a jump of 5.6% from a year before. Consumer proposals make up the other 886 filings, up 15.5% from last year. While the GVA is seeing much faster growth than the national average, it’s still less than in Greater Toronto.

We will also add further that Canadian insolvencies are on the rise as a whole, and in fact last year there was the highest number of them since the Great Recession. We can probably safely assume that British Columbia’s rapid growth and housing crisis is prompting people to get in over their heads with the real estate market. This kind of ‘urgency’ to making a move in real estate has been seen time and time again over many decades, but it may be at its most feverish right now for people in BC, and Vancouver in particular.

As a realtor, part of your responsibility to your client is to advise them as to where making offers on properties may not be in their best interest given their established purchasing power. Of course, the client’s wishes are never overruled, but it doesn’t hurt to at least try to steer them in the right direction in this regard.

Sign up for Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated leads that are delivered to you – and ONLY you – as the ONLY realtor serving your exclusive region of any city or town in Canada. Sign up, claim your region (provided it’s still available – act quickly!) and then start taking advantage of a resource that will almost certainly become a great investment and very valuable part of how your market your real estate services and build your client base.

8 Tips for Finding Your ‘Niche’ as a Real Estate Agent

Published February 18, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

It’s well understood that the a large number of the most successful realtors in any local market will be ones who have established themselves in a particular niche of the business. This is a very conceptual idea, and it’s not only people who are new to the real estate business who may struggle to understand exactly what’s meant by ‘finding a niche’ when looking for advice for new realtors. Even experienced and established realtors may not know what it means, or have made any efforts to define one for themselves. That’s not to suggest they’re going to be less successful as a result, but it does become a possibility.

Real Estate IS a challenging business, and if there’s one thing that can be said for certain it’s that anyone who thinks it’s an easy way to become wealthy and enjoy a well-paying career without a lot of hard work is going to be VERY mistaken. It’s extremely competitive and especially so in major urban metro areas of Canada. That’s not to discourage you, but you are going to have to REALLY buckle down and work hard – and work smart – if you’re going to enjoy the successes you envision for yourself.

Digging up clients for your business is always challenging, but especially so in the beginning. Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system is an excellent way to harness the power of web marketing to get more out of your client generation efforts and ‘hit the ground running’ more when it comes to making a name for yourself AND generating income for your efforts. It’s just as good for established realtors who want to keep a good thing going!

But back to topic here, what can you do to find your niche as a realtor? It’s not something that comes naturally to most people, so here are 8 tips that are known in the industry and we feel are excellent ones for helping you along with this. There are dozens of factors you should consider, from local market conditions to client expectations to your own hard-won knowledge.

  1. Understand your Market

Before choosing a niche, you first need to understand your local real estate market. What properties are always in demand? What demographics are seen for the most frequent buyers and sellers in the area? Do first-time buyers dominate, or is it the opposite of that? Make detailed notes of overall trends you’ve spotted in your market, and then focus your efforts accordingly.

2. Know your Strengths

What aspect of your career do you feel quite strongly is where you are most skilled? Is it negotiating, or perhaps its staging properties? Maybe you are best at marketing listings, or digging up homes in a specific region or community? Maybe your best attribute as a realtor is the overall passion you have for homes and the housing market. The right niche should merge your top skills with your top interests.

3. Weigh your Educational Credentials

It’s smart to earn clout in your niche by acquiring certifications and continuing education courses. Once you’ve narrowed down a short list of niches, research what related educational programs are available to people like you. Are there any certifications or designations you could earn to make yourself more marketable? How about courses that could improve your skill set or knowledge base? What resources might help you stay on top of trends in your niche? How accessible are they, and how realistic is that you have the time needed to utilize them?

4. Consider Competition

Specializing in luxury homes when there are already 25 agents in your area doing the exact same thing isn’t going to beneficial here. It would make finding new clients difficult, not to mention negatively impacting your commission potential. It’s good to evaluate other agents in your marketplace, and then look for gaps among them. What specialties aren’t being covered at present? Is there a potential niche that would give you more access to a share of the market without facing the competition you would if you didn’t create than niche for yourself?

5. Benefit from Thinking Outside the Box

There is no shortage of niche options in real estate, so don’t limit yourself to going with  geographical areas or a certain property / home types. Be creative and really look into specialties that can distinguish you in the eyes of buyers and sellers in your area.

As far as property specializations for realtors, some you can consider are:

Luxury properties / Vacation and second homes / Green and energy-efficient homes / Urban properties / Fix-and-flip homes and distressed properties / Investment properties / Commercial properties / Rentals / Farms or ranches / Condos, penthouses, and apartments / Co-ops / Disability- or senior-friendly homes / Vacant properties

For clients, consider these different types and what you might have or have access to that would increase the value proposition of working with you as compared to other realtors:

First-time buyers/Investors / Buyers only / Sellers only / Out of town or international clients / Millennials, Baby Boomers, Gen X

For Locations:

Specific neighborhoods or subdivisions / Cities / Buildings / Blocks / Vacation spots

6. Think Beyond Financial / Income Interests

Your niche needs to be in line with your profitability,  but make sure you think beyond financial considerations too. Will you enjoy pursuing it? Will you like the customers it allows you to work with? Will you feel connected to the work you’re doing (and feel that way long term)? If you’re going to establish a niche effectively, you really do have to have your heart in it

7. Utilize Past Experiences

If it’s possible to bring your past skills and work experience into the fold, then you should absolutely do that. Have a look at what you did in previous careers / means of employments and see if there’s anything your acquired there that you can then apply to your real estate business as a means of creating a niche for yourself.

8. Re-evaluate Regularly

Once you’ve chosen a niche and built it to some extent, you should then start reevaluating it regularly. Have profits climbed? Are you enjoying a strong base of clients? Do you feel you’re building a reputation in your niche? If those answers aren’t what you would like them to be then try to determine why. Keep in mind that a niche in real estate business doesn’t have to be a hard-and-fast choice. Many realtors will find that theirs evolves over time, but only does so effectively when they are constantly being equivocal and evaluating it over and over again to ensure it’s the right fit and that it still has the potential they originally identified with it.

Sign up with Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quote of qualified and online-generated buyer and / or seller leads that will be delivered ONLY to you once you sign up and lay claim to your exclusively-served region of any city or town in Canada. It’s your region, you and only you will receive the leads, and from there the opportunity to turn leads into clients has been created for you. You’ll quickly come to see it as an excellent investment in the growth and vitality of your real estate business.

Skyrocketing Strata Insurance Rates Terrorizing Condo Owners in BC – and Elsewhere

Published February 11, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

Buying in and living in a multi-family housing development like a condo complex is often the smart choice for people who are of more limited financial means and don’t need to expanse – or expense – of a detached single family home. As we all know, those are in very shorty supply in the locations where most Canadians would prefer to or need to live. So many realtors in Canada will have more than a few clients who bought condos as first-time homebuyers. And we can assume the majority of them have been very happy with their new homes.

Perhaps at least until now.

Market forces have changed the dynamic of the average home buyer’s focus, and many realtors will be seeing that the bulk of their new clients are exclusively in the market for a home in one of these multi-family developments. It’s as important to be able to be perfectly receptive to the wishes of your clients, and in much the same way it’s important to be generating new clients in the first place. Here at Real Estate Leads our online real estate lead generation system is an excellent way to help take care of that part of the equation, while being able to cater to your clients’ wishes will take a lot more self-investment.

It’s worthwhile to use today’s blog to talk about an issue that is growing in leaps and bounds in as far as what it’s doing to condo owners not only in Canada, but around the world. Strata insurance rates are exploding with increases that are hard to fathom how exactly they’re possible, not to mention hard to fathom how on earth something like this is happening.

Unfortunately, the fact is that insurance companies are for-profit business ventures like any other, and there’s a very pressing and real global phenomenon that’s forcing them to react to protect their legitimate business interests.

Let’s have a look at this now

Big 3-Digit Percentage Increases for Some Strata Insurances

Yes, we’re not exaggerating when we says some condo strata are presenting their members with insurance coverage increases that are in the 3-digit percentage range. In British Columbia, insurance rates there have leapt between a believable 50 and a staggering 780 per cent. In a market like Vancouver where new homeowners who have bought condos are often stretched very thin financially paying mortgages and affording all of life around that, these increases are about as big a problem as possible.

A large number of condominium buildings across the Lower Mainland and elsewhere in B.C. have seen massive jumps in their insurance premiums and deductibles this year, and experts say high property values are a contributor, but not the primary one. Instead, it’s the growing risk of climate change-related weather events that is promoting these stratospheric increases in condo strata rates.

As mentioned briefly above, insurance companies have no choice but to increase premiums when they face increasingly large payouts. We won’t get into how the property insurance business model works, but trust us when we say that there is little to no way around how this works. When greater numbers of claims are paid out, greater influx of funds is necessary to maintain the viable business model.

Climate change isn’t any ONE particular person or group of people’s fault, and we can’t blame any one person or the insurance industry itself for the way this is. It’s important to remember this.

Owners on the Hook – For Now

These increases have left many a strata with little choice but to shift a portion of this increased burden to condo owners, who are now being put on the hook for their own personal policies and seeing bumps in strata fees.

However, the good news here is that the Insurance Brokers Association of B.C. is taking action to try and rectify this, to any extent that’s possible. The IBABC has proposed two reforms to the province’s Strata Property Act, including a $50,000 cap on upper loss assessments.

This cap is a good idea, although whether it would take the industry’s interests sufficiently into account remains to be seen. This cap would be for deductible assessment and non-insured loss assessment, and the idea would be that owners could access adequate and affordable insurance products to protect their residences from they refer to as ‘potentially unmanageable financial loss.’

The second part of what they’re proposing is a standard definition of a strata unit to see to it that the basic components of a condo — its walls, ceilings, drywall, sub-floor, basic electrical and plumbing — are covered under the strata’s insurance, and in some cases with only the deductible on a claim being the responsibility of the owner.

Finished items – carpets, countertops, plumbing fixtures, appliances and upgrades for example – would be the owner’s responsibility to maintain and insure. The belief at the IBABC is that this will promote greater stability in the strata insurance market, and in the bigger picture continue to make condos and other multi-family dwelling real estate a more realistic option for them.

Big Picture Realities

In the bigger picture, the ability of first time homebuyers to get into the market into these types of homes is a very essential part of having a healthy housing and real estate market, as there are different steps for different folks that benefit all when taken.

It’s for this reason that realtors should have a vested interest in keeping the entryways open for first time homebuyers this way, and not seeing exorbitant strata insurance rates working against that. We voice our support for the IBABC and recommendations could protect millions of strata unit owners from further risk of losing their homes and quite possibly help mitigate future insurance market cycles.

Here’s to hoping something can be done about this, because we absolutely sympathize with people who are faced with what has to be a terrible shock.

Sign up for Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated buyer and / or seller leads that are delivered to you exclusively and for any region of any city or town in Canada. Once you sign up with us and claim your region – provided it’s still available – then it’s yours as long as you continue your membership with Real Estate Leads and you’ll be the ONLY realtor who receives the entirety of leads generated for that region. It really is a dynamite way to supercharge your client prospecting efforts, and we encourage you to discover that for yourself!

5 Real Estate Tech Trends that Can Add to Your Business Success

Published February 4, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

There’s really no aspect of modern working and career life that hasn’t been fundamentally changed by the tech revolution of the last 20 years. Real estate is certainly no exception, and real estate agents in Canada have had to be receptive to these changes if they’ve wanted to continue to have every advantage possible in furthering their business interests. Now we’re not talking about owning a smartphone or having a real estate website. That kind of stuff is completely obligatory if you’re going to be in the business and connected / visible 24/7 – which IS a must, but you won’t need to be told that. Nearly one and all who work in real estate, or have in the past are going to agree that one of the biggest and most completely false misconceptions about real estate is that it’s a way to get rich quickly if you’re willing to put in the time. Not only does pretty much NO ONE get rich quickly, but even if you put in every bit of time you have you’re not going to see much for it unless you’re being VERY smart with that available time. Technology is a part of that, and here at Real Estate leads our online real estate lead generation system is a good example of how you can invest in your success with smart technologies.

So in support of this belief that all realtors should try to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, here are 5 real estate tech trends that are perfectly simple to get on board with.

Note that we’re not going to talk about the tech itself, but rather the overarching trends that many new technologies work for. If you need to dig up specific product references, we’ll go ahead and assume you know how to use Google search!

  1. Automate Time-Consuming Tasks

Time is a precious commodity for any busy working professional, and if that doesn’t describe you as a real estate agent then you’re likely too far behind the 8-ball anyways. Successful realtors work hard, but they also work smart.  It’s perfectly natural for a realtor to struggle with keeping leads organized or remembering to follow up with a potential client.

The good news here is that there are amazing real estate tech tools available now that can help you automate a good portion of your workflow and free up your time to use elsewhere. Most of these are in the form of apps that can downloaded right on your phone. If it takes you time to get used to operating them, make time for that.

Look into your own workflow and decide where you can automate certain parts of the process to free up your time to actually get more face-to-face with clients. Then research what tech tools, apps and services can help you be a smarter-working realtor with more time and resources at his or her disposal by automating tasks wherever possible.

  • Increasing Your Efficiency

A 25-hour or longer day doesn’t exist, so all realtors have the same amount of time in day, unless they choose not to sleep (which we suppose is possible, but really NOT recommended). When it comes to client leads, would a potential one be aware that the reason you didn’t call them back for 15 hours after they expressed interest was because you were going through your emails one after another while manually inputting contact information into a spreadsheet.

Nope, they wouldn’t be aware at all and they’d like quickly come to see you as not the right realtor for them. It’s true that top agents nearly always respond to leads quickly because they’re able to do sow and not bogged down and preoccupied with handful after handful of ‘clerical’ tasks. They’re able to make positive first impression on clients with speedy responses and being entirely present in person or on the phone because they’ve got that side of their business running efficiently.

  • Deliver Better Service

Some professions are fairly straightforward, but real estate isn’t one of them. There’s the sales element, the marketing element, and – last but certainly not least – the customer service element. There are many realtors that do really well with the first two parts of that equation, but much less well with the customer service end of it. In those situations you can be darn sure their business is going to suffer for it.

There are many different real estate agent apps and other technologies that can help you up your game in this area, and personalization is a game changer in the real estate industry and for marketing in general. There is plenty of tech that lets you serve your clients in a much more personal way

  • Embrace Cloud Computing for your Data

The cloud has been a real blessing no matter what business you’re in. The ability to not have to rely on your own physical storage and then also being able to access that storage much more freely is a huge benefit to realtors. Even if it’s as simple as getting your own Dropbox or Google Drive and then granting file access to clients or other realtors as needed.

Long story short is that agents need tools to get their jobs done. Having your lead generation engine, contact database, MLS, website, document management, workflow automation, email platform and more operating from the cloud (and enjoying the regular, automated file backups that come with it) will save you a lot of time as a realtor and the value of freeing up time like this is quite considerable

  • Enhanced Mobility

Most realtors would be thrilled to learn that their new leads were going to be tracked and routed through their workflow, with minimal input required from them. What about adding a note to a contact record in your CRM with just your voice and smartphone, or searching properties within your MLS and then texting them to your client.

All is possible with modern technology. Making it so that you are able to access contacts, property information and tools from wherever you are is very advantageous, and some realtors will also travel with a tablet rather than a smartphone for better ease of operation and a larger display. You can tether the tablet to your smartphone if you need to connect to the Internet and there’s no public Wi-Fi available.

Technology tends to be all pervasive when it has the potential for making work life better for people, so if you’re a realtor today all you really need to do is being 100% receptive to it and you too will almost certainly be running your business better and having more time to use efficiently as a result of it.

Sign up for Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated buyer and / or seller leads that are delivered to you – and only you – for your similarly exclusively-served region of any city or town in Canada. You will be the only realtor assigned to that area, and for as long as you remain with us you’ll be the only one to receive real estate leads for that area. Please read our testimonials to see how other realtors like you have enjoyed a real boost to their client prospecting efforts by using real estate leads.