General Topics

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Which Property Segment is Most Vulnerable to the COVID-19 Economic Slowdown

Published March 31, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

Our blog entries for the last 2 weeks have made it very clear that we’ve been especially attuned to those of you expressing very real concerns about the health of the real estate industry in Canada in the face of the ongoing Global Covid Pandemic. It’s natural to have fears about it, and those fears certainly aren’t unfounded. There’s no debating that the economic downturn that’s already beginning in the face of the slowdown caused by the pandemic IS going to take a big bite of the real estate industry, but that’s only the not-so-good news

The ‘better’ news (we’ll still refrain from calling it good news given the current situation) is that the industry insider belief is that the residential real estate market is not going to be as negatively impacted as others. This should come as good news for realtors who have been lead to believe that home sales and the numbers of new homes coming onto the market are about to plummet in the biggest of ways. The similar belief is that there WILL be something of a longer-term dip, but residential homes sales are not where the biggest downturn is going to be seen.

How this breaks down for the individual realtor IS going to be that there’s less of the pie to go around, but in an ever-competitive profession that’s not anything new. Is it going to be worse than usual? Sure, it is. Is it going to be permanent? No, it’s not. However, a realtor’s ability to be infusing his or her business with new clients is going to be even more challenging than it always has been. Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system for realtors goes a long way towards helping you get more out of your efforts there.

But back to topic – if it’s not residential real estate where the sting of the economic downturn is going to be most felt, where is it?

Commercial Property Markets Always More Easily Swayed by Economic Cycles

Yes, there’s your answer; it’s going to be the commercial real estate market that’s most prominently affected by the fallout of COVID-19. Commercial property is particularly vulnerable to economic shocks like the ones that are already being brought about by the spread of COVID-19.

In ways that don’t apply to residential real estate, commercial properties like factories, retail stores and office units are much more exposed to economic cycles. Then you have to weight in the fact that commercial property owners and real estate investment trusts already pay higher interest rates for borrowed capital.

Then there’s also the role of the tenant in making this situation what it is. Tenants are almost always leasers with a commercial property, and the relevance of that in endangering and depressing the commercial real estate market is – quite plainly – risk. Tenants are much more likely to be exposed in comparison to a new owner of a residential property with dwelling, as they’re more prone to economic collapse leaving them with no choice but to fall into a default on the property.

If we read the news these days it will be hard to not see all the shops and offices that are shut due to the national health crisis. This is a very poignant and real example of how commercial property is much more vulnerable to these types of events.  If the outbreak creates deeper dents in the economy, things will become worse – MUCH worse – for commercial properties as compared to residential ones.

Most realtors should know what a REIT is. It’s a fact that if the shutdown lasts longer than expected, things could get worse and especially for Real Estate Investment Trusts where there becomes a very unappealing need to cut dividends and mark down the value of the real estate assets.

Informed investors are of course going to be entirely aware of these risks, and that’s why it’s these buyers who will be inclined to to sit back and wait this out before making their real estate move. The risk is significantly greater for them than a residential property buyer, although of course there are still increased risks there too.

Just not to nearly the same extent, and that’s something that should be reassuring to real estate agents working in Canada.

Here in BC one part of the $5 billion federal package being offered to help companies survive the economic shocks from the outbreak is an assistance program for reduced property tax for commercial real estate. It’s estimated that relief tax savings for the average urban commercial property owner is going to be about $4,000. The idea then being these savings will flow through to tenants who have triple-net leases and then providing support to them as well.

This is going to be a tumultuous time in real estate, but anyone predicting a massive collapse in the real estate industry fuelled by precipitous drops in transactions for residential properties is misunderstanding the way this is very likely going to play out.

Canadian Real Estate Market Only Expected to be Mildly Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

Published March 16, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

As we reach the middle of March 2020 beginning this week, the intensity of the concern related to the Global COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic is soaring to new heights. There has been extensive talk about how it may promote a severe economic downturn, and in a worst case scenario it could trigger a global economic recession. Whether that actually happens or how long it would last if id did remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure – this pandemic is pretty much turning our world on its head.

Interestingly enough, the same sort of global capitalism that has allowed the virus to jump all over the world with lightning quickness is the same global capitalism that’s worked to make housing unaffordable for many Canadians. Led by a Liberal Government who’s only interest is protecting the economy by any available means, the infusion of foreign capital into Canada’s housing market has been ‘okayed’ as a means of propping up an economy that – as is the case with every federal Liberal government – suffers from being hopelessly bloated with social expenditure.

Realtors have fewer prospective clients as a result of part of this (not all), and as such it’s more difficult for new realtors to enjoy the flow of new clients that those coming before them did. Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system in Canada is an excellent way for those realtors to enjoy the power of Internet marketing as means of having themselves put more directly in touch with people who are genuinely considering buying or selling a home.

The good news is that it appears the appetite for buying and selling homes in Canada won’t be too overly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Let’s now look at that in greater detail.

Projected Modest Impact

The industry consensus seems to be that the impact of the new coronavirus on Canadian real estate is going to be ‘modest’ and ‘temporary’. These same industry experts are stressing that while we don’t know how the coronavirus outbreak will be resolved, data suggests that panic moves will only worsen the country’s economic situation. In fact, if you’re a Canadian real estate investor, this may represent a buying opportunity for investors and it may lead to a positive lift in rental and housing markets.

It’s good to keep in mind that, generally speaking, disruptions in GDP growth rates can affect real estate markets within an 18-month period. We’re know really seeing how fear and concern surrounding the coronavirus is impacting trade, travel, tourism and the Canadian economy, but we should know that it’s almost certainly not going to be as bad as some of the extremes being predicted.

Much like what happened to SARS in 2003, fear and panic are going to be the biggest threats to the country’s economic and real estate outlook. It is true that when disruptions in GDP growth rates are seen they usually do affect real estate markets within an 18-month period. One positive out of this may be that the result is a positive lift in rental and housing markets seen some 18 to 24 months after GDP fully recovers.

Immediate Cool Down / Long-Term Lifting

Canadian real estate may be cooling down in response to COVID-19, but the expectation is it is only going be temporary. After, as stated, it may actually see a jump in the big picture. What will be factoring into that?

  • Temporary, small decrease in GDP growth
  • Increased immigration
  • Increased foreign capital
  • Increased demand
  • Increased property values resulting from above 4

Analysis shows potential short-term impact to Canada’s economy including:

  • Canadian GDP remains forecasted at 3.3%, factoring in a -0.1% coronavirus hit
  • Slight decrease in oil prices
  • Stifled commodity prices
  • Disrupted industry supply chains
  • Slowdown in business sales
  • Decline in international travel to Canada

Everyone hopes the outbreak is contained, and that health and economic impacts are limited. When the situation normalizes, an influx of Chinese immigrants and capital to Canada resulting in increased demand for real estate is probably going to revitalize the market.

Like most people, we believe that Canadian real estate will see an immediate cool down with long-term lift due to a temporary, small decrease in GDP growth, followed by increased immigration, increased foreign capital and increased demand, leading to increased property values.

Do these factor represent a greater number of good buying opportunities now? Yes they do, and if you’re working with investor buyers this is something to discuss with them.

Sign up with Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated buyer and / or seller leads that are delivery exclusively to you – and only you – as the only realtor serving that particular region of any city or town in Canada. Once you signed up and claimed that region, it’s yours exclusively for the entire time you maintain your membership with us. It’s an excellent way to get the very most out of your client prospecting efforts.

Major Property Tax Increases Cool Investor Enthusiasm in Vancouver’s Resurgent Market

Published March 9, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

It certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or a realtor – to understand why the housing markets of Vancouver and Toronto make the most sense for investors with pockets deep enough to actually be ABLE to invest in properties there. The basics of supply and demand in both locations and the fact that demand will always outstrip supply means a very likely increase in the return on that investment. If you’re a realtor working in these major metro areas then you’ll almost certainly be working with investor buyers at least somewhat regularly. If you’re a new realtor then you should be quite enthused if the opportunity to work with one such buyer, and in much the same way you’d be to be putting a family into a much-needed home that suits them well. Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system is designed more to generate leads made up of clients who are looking to buy homes to live in, along with others selling homes and indifferent to whether that home will be a principal residence or a rental. As a new realtor, you’ll be in a position to benefit greatly from using it.

One of the things that’s been very front and center in the news in Vancouver these days is the sharp rise in property taxes approved by city council recently.  On the first day of this new decade, the City of Vancouver implemented a shockingly large 7 percent increase to local property taxes, which works out to about nearly double the 10-year average. This tax hike was and continuous to be contentious, and the primary reason that it goes far beyond the rate of inflation.

When you consider that the original suggest rise was 8.2%, it definitely makes you go ‘wow’ and wonder what the logic is in doing this to a city where families are stretched so thin financially as it is. However, we must remember that the NDP is currently in power and this discretion-less spending has always been a party of that party and the way they conduct themselves.

Tough on Existing and Would-Be Investors

Real estate investors in Vancouver have already been bearing the brunt of the Province’s speculation and empty property taxes put into place over the past two years, and this property tax spike likely isn’t going to sit well with them for that very reason.

In an interview with local media recently, a well established Vancouver realtor stated that while he understands the municipal government needs money, this is one hundred percent working against the interests of affordable housing. There is absolutely a belief among those who work in industries related to the housing market that this dramatic jump in property taxes is another example of government tinkering with Vancouver’s painfully tight housing market to curb demand.

Real estate professionals and economists will agree on one thing – this type of ‘reactionary’ response is yet another example of Government missing the mark in how to address the housing crisis while still protecting the health and vibrancy of a market that – like all of them – function best when left to their own dynamics.

Discouraging Investment

There’s no getting around the fact that higher taxes will certainly discourage investment into the city, but realtors can still assure investors they may be working with that if they choose to purchase in Vancouver they will still make long-game profits, but perhaps not on the monthly cash-flow basis that they were expecting.

The bigger picture reality in all of this is also one you’ll be hard pressed to find a single realtor or economist ready to disagree with; when you have a situation of dramatically restricted supply, and the process of releasing more supply is highly politicized, and you then ADD ever increasing demand in the form of a growing economy and a growing population because of immigration, what do you think is going to happen? That’s right – prices are going to go up. By increasing property taxes, there’s no way you’re going to get around this and where it gets people the most is with those who are renting homes.

It is absurd to think a property owner is going to have those increased property taxes coming out of their bottom line. It is going to be absorbed by the renter, and this further diminishes that person’s ability to save up for a down payment to actually enter the housing market in the future.

Sign up with 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 – as the ONLY realtor serving a particular region of any city or town in Canada. Once you’ve claimed that region (act fast – they are going all the time!) then you’ll be the only realtor to receive leads for it for as long as you continue your membership with Real Estate Leads It’s an excellent way to really power up for you client prospecting efforts and enjoy a bit of the power of the Internet in getting better results from them.

5 Current Trends for Homebuyers in North America

Published March 3, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

Every time you read something like this you have to keep in mind that America has 10x the population that we do in Canada. That means much larger sample sizes and perhaps not exactly the same reflection of what our buyer prerogatives will be for people here in Canada, but most in the industry will agree that these current trends for homebuyers very likely are accurate representations of the same one in Canada. One things for sure is the new dynamic for homebuyers is not one of a classic young family buying a detached home in or just outside town like it was until 20 years ago or so. And speaking of that huge population differential, realtors in Canada who are finding the business to be especially competitive can imagine what it must be like to be one of the ones plying the same trade down south. Real estate is a competitive business all over North America, however, and especially so for realtors who are new to the business and striving to establish themselves. Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system is an excellent way for these men and women to get more out of their efforts to find and retain clients.

But back to the topic for today, one of the most important aspects for the development of new realtors is to learn what it takes to be entirely top of the real estate world and dialed into the changing wants of who are the majority of buyers these days. What are these 5 current trends for homebuyers being seen nowadays?

  1. Millennials have higher standards for their first home, as they foresee the need to stay in 1st homes longer than previous generations of home buyers

A recent survey in the US found that 36% of millennial-aged respondents look for a home they can stay in for 10 years or longer. The previous ‘starter home’ ideal is not realistic anymore, as housing market dynamics in many big metro areas make upward mobility in the real estate market less of a sure thing. It added further that 42% of millennials would like to start with some semblance of what they’d consider their dream home.

2.  People Have Never Been in Less of a Rush to Find & Buy Homes

The average amount of time first-time buyers spend looking for a home has jumped from three months to five. For repeat-buyers it’s even more – from 2.5 months to four months. Buyers of course utilize the web as their primary search means. Yes, that expands their house hunting capabilities but it also takes more time. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that more people are also doing extensive online research before buying a home.

3.  Buyers are Less Enthusiastic about ‘Fixer Uppers’

It wasn’t that long ago that homes with flaws that could be remedied with a little hard work, and then sold for a much better price or lived in much more satisfyingly. An affordable home that needed repairs would usually be sold fairly quickly.

For whatever reason, it now seems that fewer and fewer buyers are going to be agreeable to doing this. People want to be able to move in and not have work to do on the house.

4.  Kitchens Remain a Main Attraction for most Homes

This has been the reality for as long as anyone can remember, but nowadays it’s as prominent as ever. A home with the perfect kitchen is a priority for a lot of would-be buyers. They may want islands, room for seating, double ovens, functionality, cabinets, and so on. Apparently 66% of respondents to the survey chose a state-of-the-art kitchen as their top priority.

  • Homes Should Remain a Good Investment

The last of these is another relation to the millennial age group, many of whom are looking to buy their first home some time in the near future. Another trend among them is they want their home to be a good investment. The report indicated that 30% to 40% of millennials do see home ownership as a sign of success.

Sign up for Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated buyer and / or seller leads that will be delivered to only one realtor – you. That’s right, you get to claim your very own region of any city or town in Canada (provided that locale hasn’t been claimed already – act fast!) and then you’ll receive every lead generated for it. You’ll quickly come to see it as a good investment in the success and growth of your personal real estate corporation and you’ll enjoy how it puts you directly in touch with genuine potential home sellers or home buyers.

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.

5 Smart Gadgets Perfect for Modern Realtors

Published January 21, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

A full 20 years ago now the new 21st century was dubbed the ‘Information Age’, and in the two decades since then it’s fairly clear that the title was an appropriate one. We’ve enjoyed so much in the way of technological advances, and no matter what profession you make your living in it’s almost certain that technology advances has added much more in the way of process efficiency with whatever it is you do day in and out to be working at your best.

For a real estate agent in Canada, there’s going to be no digital device introduction across the last 20 years than the smartphone. Sure, mobile phones existed before that (as did the previously ever-so-popular BlackBerry, remember those?) they didn’t have the full-spectrum connectivity and web access that a smartphone does. I bet you wouldn’t even so much as one realtor in Canada who doesn’t make extensive use of a smartphone every day.

 And after all, real estate is one profession where you’re inherently obligated to take advantage of anything and everything that lets your work more effectively and build your business in the speediest way possible. As it regards the second part of that, it’s what makes our online real estate lead generation system for realtors such an excellent choice for those who are new to the business. You’ll be harness the power of Internet marketing to be more immediately put in touch with folks who are genuinely interested in buying or selling a home in your area.

And yes, nine times out of ten you’ll probably be looking over those leads via your smartphone. But while smartphones are in every pocket, here’s a few other gadgets for realtors that might be nearly equally useful for you if you’re a real estate agent.

  1. DIGI Phantom 2 & GoPro Camera Drone

Many of you will already be aware that elevated fly-over views of listed properties are all the rage these days. It’s drones like the DIGI Phantom 2 that make these birds-eye views possible when they are equipped with a mounted Go-Pro high resolution 1080p digital action camera

This quadcopter is extremely easy to use. After you simply click the parts into each other, you can fly it almost straight from the box. The Wi-Fi connection reaches over 300 metres, and you can add to that with a Wi-Fi Range Extender if needed. It’s got stable hovering, which allows you to stop mid-air and take either photos or take a pause in the video and zoom in as needed.

The basic model isn’t cheap, but it may be a good investment, and especially so if you’re a realtor who often has large estate properties listed.

  • GoPano Micro

This is a revolutionary lens for the iPhone that lets you create 360° panoramic videos. Using it is as simple as attaching the lens to your iPhone and tapping it to make 360° videos instantly. Again, the appeal of being able to do so shouldn’t need much explanation for a realtor operating in the day of social media and extensive digital connectivity and all the expectations that come along with that from consumers.

  • Zuta Labs Pocket Printer

There’s going to be a lot to be said for being able print out photos from your phone and hand them to clients or prospective ones with absolutely no need to return home first. That’s exactly what the Zuta Labs Pocket Printer lets you do. The printer is activated by sliding a hatch at the bottom of the printer, which will reveal the inkjet. The inkjet should be able to print around 1,000 printed pages before needing to be replaced and the battery lasts for over one hour per charge.

Printing out just-snapped photos of properties and grounds instantly and with little to no fuss? That should sound good to every real estate agent.

Duracell Powermat

Put your smartphone through its paces every day and you will be like anyone else – needing to find an outlet to recharge your device so it can keep on doing what you need it to do. Pulling out charging cables, plugging them into outlets, and then snapping the other end into your device’s charging point is NOT particularly time consuming. However, all these little snippets of time do add over the course of a day, and it’s one hundred percent true that time is one of the most valuable commodities for a real estate agent.

The Powermat works exactly as you’d think it would given its name. Rather than having to go to all the fuss of cabling and connecting, with the Powermat all you do is lay your compatible-model smartphone down on the mat and it begins recharging immediately. Place it and then get back to what you were doing with almost no down time, and you can know your super-essential device is charging up.

  • InReach Satellite Communicator for Smartphones

Real Estate markets may be local, but the business of real estate is increasingly global and as such realtors may need to engage in communications that are not only out of country, but sometimes out of continent. And this is happening more and more all the time. This is what makes the InReach Smartphone Satellite Communicator such a smart choice.

InReach lets your customers reach us anywhere on the planet. And not only is it an excellent global digital communication tool, but it can also be a good choice for anytime you’re going into very rural areas of your Province. Whether that’s for work or pleasure. If you get caught without cell coverage but really need to contact someone, this device is going to come in VERY handy.

Indeed, this satellite messenger really shines with its ability to pair with your smart phone where it then becomes kind of like a back country cell phone service. You’ll be able to use your smart phone to send as well as receive messages, and the InReach also pairs with phoned impressively easily.

Know of any other smart tech gadgets that are ideal for realtors given their line or work? We’d like to hear about them, if you’re inclined to leave a comment.

Sign up with Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated buyer and / or seller leads that are delivered to you exclusively when you’re registered with us. They’re your leads, and no other realtor will be either serving your area of choice (any region of a city or town in Canada that will be yours alone with Real Estate Leads) or receiving these leads. It’s an excellent way to supercharge your client prospecting efforts big time, so you’re encouraged to sign up and begin building your real estate business that much more effectively.

The Growing Trend of Home Co-Ownership in Ontario

Published January 14, 2020 by Real Estate Leads

You wouldn’t need to be a real estate agent in Canada – or work in any profession related to housing for that matter – to know that ever-greater numbers of Canadians are struggling to afford housing that works for their family’s needs and / or allows them to be within a reasonable distance of their place of employment. The long and short of this is that demand far outstrips supply for housing in many parts of the country, and especially in major metro areas.

For realtors, fewer qualified buyers may be a source of frustration for homeowners with their properties on the market. But for realtors, the problem becomes one where fewer prospective buyers means fewer prospective clients. For a realtor who’s well established in the business that may not be so problematic, but for a newer realtor it will be. That’s why our online real estate lead generation system here at Real Estate Leads is such an excellent choice for men and women who are new to the profession.

Back to topic, however, there is a growing trend in Ontario where homebuyers are teaming up with other trustworthy homebuyers to consolidate their purchasing power and buy a home together, and the Provincial government is putting measures in place to assist with it

Ontario Conservatives’ 16-page Co-Ownership Guide

December 11 of 2019 saw this guide released, and it promotes co-ownership and co-habitation as ways to improve affordability, maximize available space available in larger houses and heritage properties, and establish a more community-oriented environment. All of his may be very admirable in its ideals, but it’s clear that the majority of people who will enter into this type of home-buying arrangement will be doing so with an eye to watching the value of the home increase before the sale of it puts both buying parties in more of a position to buy a property on their own.

This is something that realtors can – and perhaps should – discuss with their clients, but if you’re going to do so you’ll be advised to do so responsibly and also make them aware of the many challenges this type of home purchasing arrangement may present.

Home ownership is difficult as is, and co-ownership will create scenarios were – among other things – knowledge of what is a shotgun clause is (read on) going to become must-know information. We will agree that the Province’s Co-Ownership guide does have good intentions, and also fills in common knowledge gaps very well.

It defines a number of useful terms and touches briefly on what a co-ownership agreement should include, but there is no mention of conflict resolution or the severe financial pitfalls involved. And it certainly should go without saying that if a homeowner is to purchase a home this way, there is most certainly a lot of risk of their being victims of these pitfalls.

Implications for Investors

It’s also true that investors considering the co-ownership of a property must make certain their intentions and goals are aligned with the others and unlikely to change. Cash flow investors, speculators and those more interested in long-term equity are going to be inclined to view the ideal use of a property differently. Long story short, investors must agree entirely on what that property will be used for, and especially any timelines that will be attached to it.

Consider as well that unforeseen changes in attitude and situation should be taken into consideration too. Are both open to short-term rentals of the property to maximize revenue? If the market dips and one partner is better prepared to weather than period of uncertainty, what power of influence does the other buyer have in suggesting the sale of the property?

The Shotgun Clause

A shotgun clause is a legal statue where the co-owner of he property has the opportunity to either exit the agreement or consolidate ownership. They are able to do this by setting a price for their share of the property. If the other owner is unable or unwilling to meet the suggested price, the clause then allows the co-purchaser to purchase the disputed share at an originally-set price.

A worst-case scenario would be one where one of the co-owners is facing financial stress and has little cash in hand, and this allows the other owner to take advantage by setting a low price for the distressed co-owner’s 50% share of the property. They would do so knowing full well that the other buyer won’t be able to mee that price and then their share will then be available for a very low price.

Interestingly, there’s no mention of a shotgun clause anywhere in Ontario’s new Co-Ownership Guide. There should be, and if you’re a realtor counselling clients then this is something that you must make them aware of, and make them VERY aware of.

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 for your own privately-served region of any city or town in Canada. It’s your region exclusively, and their your exclusive leads for it. You’ll be the only realtor to receive these leads, and that means you’ll be the only one with advanced notice for getting in touch with people who are genuinely considering buying or selling a home in that part of your Province. You’ll almost certainly come to see it as money well spent for building your real estate business.