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For our opinions on the local real estate market and lots of helpful tips for real estate professionals, home buyers and sellers, please enjoy our blog.

Mistakes When Selling A Home

Selling your home – especially if it’s your first time – can be surprisingly emotionally challenging. All of a sudden strangers are poking into your home and criticizing parts of your home you adored. Even though selling a home shouldn’t be personal, it’s hard to keep it from feeling that way. If you are really serious about selling your home, you should watch out from making these mistakes:


 

Not Hiring an Agent

Everyone wants to save money. When you realize you have to pay around 5% in commission on the sale of your home to hire the services of a REALTOR®, of course you want to see how you can avoid that cost. But a good real estate agent will help you reach a fair price for your home, and have marketing and sale connections you definitely won’t have. Hiring an agent can increase the likelihood your house will be sold quickly, and will take a lot of effort off your hands. Instead of being available all the time to show homes and fly off the seat of your pants with real estate knowledge, an agent can help take some emotion out of selling your home while keeping the tire-kickers at bay.

 

Setting an Unrealistic Price

Everyone wants the best price possible for their home. Whether it is because of emotional attachment or financial ambitions, when you sell a home you naturally want to sell it for the highest price. The problem with that is that if you set the price for your home too high, many people will not even consider viewing it, much less negotiating an offer with you. Just as a real estate agent will show you comparables (houses recently sold in your neighbourhood), buyers too, will have this knowledge. They will know what your home should be worth, and if you are substantially out of that margin you will likely get few if any viewings, let alone offers.

 

Being Tough on the Asking Price

Even if you choose to hire a REALTOR® and come to a decent price for your home, you may feel that the price you arrived to is the lowest you’ll feel comfortable selling your home. However, everyone likes to know they got a deal, and it is unlikely someone will offer the asking price. If you are too rigid in your asking price, you could turn away potential buyers from buying your home.

 

Listing in Winter

Unless life is forcing you to move in the winter time, avoid putting your house up on the market between November – March. When it’s cold out, you try to stay in as much as possible. So, too, will home buyers. As a result, fewer homes get listed during the winter months, making winter a buyer’s market. Buyers will have more room to negotiate prices and it will be less likely that you will get the price you want for your home.

 

Refusing to Declutter and Stage

If someone walking into your home can only see it as your home, they will never be able to envision it as their home. They don’t want to see your pile of dishes in the sink even if they have the same pile in their own home. If you do not declutter and stage your home so that it appears neutral and inviting, you risk reducing the value of your home substantially – if you even get an offer at all.

 

Not Accommodating Buyers

If a buyer is interested in viewing your home and you refuse the viewing because you had a long day at work and you just want to rest – you have instantly turned away a potential offer. Every viewing should be seen as a potential offer. The less accommodating you are to buyers, the less likely you will get an offer you like (if one at all!). Keeping your home clean and tidy before every single viewing is crucial. They won’t know or care that you had your house sparkling last week, they care about when they are interested to view it. Always be ready for potential buyers, even if it means you have to adjust your life a little.

 

The best part about knowing the mistakes when selling a home is seeing how easy they are to correct! As long as you prepare mentally, emotionally and financially for selling a home, you should be able to do it within a reasonable time frame.

 

How To Get Multiple Offers

August 14, 2019
Everyone wants to sell their home quickly, some dream of having such a marketable home that they generate multiple offers and sell their home for over asking. Is it possible? Yes! How do you achieve the best case scenario of generating multiple offers on your home? Here are a few tips that you can do:

 

Price Your Home Aggressively

If you’ve ever purchased something on eBay, you will have a concept of the “auction” atmosphere. The lower the starting bid is for an item, the more people get excited at the prospect of winning the item for a steal of a deal. This is not to say that you should list your home for pennies on the dollar, but if you price it under what you think it’s worth, it will easily yield in more viewings. And with more viewings comes the increased likelihood of offers. Hopefully, multiple!

 

Give Ample Access

Time is our most scarce resource, especially while house hunting. While it might be easy to view dozens of homes online in the span of an hour, home buyers are reticent to purchase a property they haven’t viewed in person. But if you as a seller are never able to have your home viewed by either buyers and/or brokers, you put yourself in a predicament. Just as busy as you are, so is the potential buyer. If they can’t view your home, there isn’t a hope of a chance that they’ll bid on it. Just as pricing your home aggressively will yield more viewings, providing ample access for viewings also can generate multiple offers.

 

Stage Your Home To Perfection

If you simply spruce up what you already have, or put in the bare minimum costs to make your home more appealing, that will reflect in the demand of your home. Those homes that are breathtaking in every corner will be the ones people go home and talk about with their families. This means you will want to make your home spotless at all times, decluttered everywhere, and freshly painted. If any floors need replacing or look less than brand new, replace them! Make sure every window and door works – every faucet, every element on your stove. Buyers will check everything and if they can’t find fault, there will be a mad dash to make offers.

 

Create A Timeline For Market Exposure

While it may sound like a dream come true to get an offer the day you list your home, it’s unlikely to get several offers on your first day. Many people can only view homes on weekends and your target buyer(s) might not be able to come on day one. By establishing a timeline with your real estate agent, you can plan for one to two open houses, an offer date that manages to balance market exposure while still creating a sense of urgency.

 

At the end of the day, none of these tips will guarantee you multiple offers, but it will set you up to hopefully get as many offers as possible (and hopefully, soon!). The most important lesson to take is to be in constant review of which marketing practices are working and which aren’t when it comes to your listing. Being able to course-correct quickly can make a big difference in how quickly your home sells, and how many offers you can get.

Hidden Costs of Buying A Home

August 7, 2019
Are you a go-getter when it comes to house hunting? You might be aware that you can be pre-approved for a mortgage, and you might have saved up a sizable down payment, but have you prepared for all the hidden costs of buying a home? If you’re not sure what these costs are, or simply want to verify that you have budgeted for all of them, here is a handy guide to prepare you:

Home Inspection

The average house hunter, before putting in an offer on a property, will get a home inspection. This inspection is done by a registered professional who will check every nook and cranny in the property to see what is in working order, what needs to be repaired, and if there are any major issues with the home. This inspection will help you determine if you want to proceed with your offer as well as how much your offer should be. The average cost of this inspection will set you back anywhere between $300 - $500.

Property Evaluation Fee

Some mortgage lenders will require you to have your home evaluated to confirm its market value and whether that value is reasonable for the market. This will cost you approximately $300 if your lender requires this.

Land Survey Fee

If the seller cannot produce an up-to-date survey or certificate of location, you may need to pay for a land survey fee to finalize your mortgage loan. Title insurance can be accepted in lieu of a land survey, however. The cost of a land survey fee can be anywhere between $1000 - $2000 depending on the size and type of the property.

Title Insurance

Title insurance policies are one of the most important and protective measures in closing costs. It protects both you and the lender from title fraud, zoning violations, municipal work orders and other property defects. If your real estate lawyer does not include this in their fees it will cost you approximately $400.

Property Insurance

Property insurance can provide ample coverage for a wide variety of situations. While the law requires that at minimum you must insure your home against fire or significant damage for at least its replacement cost, you may choose to add more coverages. The cost for property insurance has many variables in it: who you choose to insure your home, what discounts you may be eligible for and how much coverage you are seeking will all factor the cost.

Land Transfer Tax

After closing day you will pay a provincial and municipal tax that is based on the purchase price of your new home. This tax mainly applies to resale homes. In order to determine the most accurate cost of land transfer tax, we recommend you speak to your real estate lawyer and they can help you budget accordingly.

Adjustments

Also known as prepaid taxes, this cost reimburses the seller who has already paid taxes and utility costs on the property before you took ownership of it. To better determine how much this costs, please speak to your real estate lawyer.

HST

If you are purchasing a newly constructed home or a home that has been substantially renovated, your home may be subject to HST. If you are required to pay HST, see if you qualify for a new housing rebate!

Legal Fees and Disbursements

While a few of the costs above are either determined by your lawyer or included in your lawyer’s fees, you still have to pay for your real estate lawyer to perform all these tasks. Conducting a title search, preparing your mortgage, and drafting the title deed are all things your real estate lawyer will do for you. Call around and get at least 3 quotes, the average price will cost you at least $500 plus tax.

We hope these “hidden costs” are no longer hidden for you, and that this helpful guide will help you establish a better budget when preparing to buy your home!

How To Maintain A Home In Show Ready Condition

 

July 31, 2019
 
Keeping your home show-ready is hard even on the best of days. Factoring in work, kids, and the regular demands of life can add even more obstacles to keeping your home show-ready. Here are some tips to not only make your home show ready, but also to KEEP it show ready at all times.

 Always Opt For The More Convenient Option

Though our natural instincts (and our bank accounts) may suggest otherwise, know that opting for convenience in the short term will allow for larger dividends in the long run. If your home is constantly show ready, you have a higher chance of more viewings. The more viewings you have, the more likely it is your home will sell!

 So what does opting for convenience look like in this scenario?

 Professional Cleaning: Scheduling a professional cleaning service to come in once a week or once a month to help with the bigger deep cleaning tasks in your home will ensure you’re spending less of your non-working hours preparing your home for viewings.

 While you’re at it, consider professionally “cleaning” your lawn by hiring lawncare professionals to maintain your front and back yards (if you own a house) so that your home always has curb appeal upon a viewing.

 Disposable Items: Instead of panicking that you didn’t have time to do the dishes right before a potential buyer comes to visit, opt for disposable plates and cups so you can quickly bin them and take them out of the house where they can’t be smelled!

 If you’re expecting guests or even fear having too much garbage, consider eating out more often! That way all the dishes and kitchen cleaning chores are someone else’s problem.

 

Extracurricular Activities: If you have children, signing them up for day camps, or other extracurricular activities outside the home is a great idea to keep household chores to a minimum. You won’t have to worry about finding somewhere for them to go to while the property is being viewed because they’ll already be out having fun!

 

This is also a great idea for yourself and the adults of the home. Instead of staying home potentially making small messes, sign up for a few gym classes or hobby clubs so that you’re not stuck staring at the clock waiting for a potential buyer to show up. Instead, you’re living life to the fullest while your house is being sold.

 

And just to keep on top of everything right before a potential buyer does show up, a great rule of thumb is to give everyone in the house a routine set of chores to do in the 15 min before a viewing. These can be brief tasks like wiping surfaces, picking up things off the floor, hiding dirty laundry, and keeping the sinks washed clean.

 

Last but not least, a great way to keep your home always show-ready is to always have it smelling nice! Instead of throwing something in the oven right before someone arrives, always have a neutral smell going in the house. It could be a diffuser of lavender oil, or a vanilla plug-in scented oil freshener. One of these can last up to a few weeks but can make a big difference in the overall impression someone has of your home.

How Emotions Affect Home Buying

July 24, 2019
Many people associate emotional baggage with selling a home and not buying home. With selling a home, the sellers are attached because they may have raised their kids in their home, they may have major renovations to it to make it more their style, etc. But it is important to remember that buyers have just as many strong emotions as sellers do when it comes to the real estate market. So how do emotions fit into the home buying process?

 

When Deciding To Buy

There are many reasons to incentivise a person to buy a house. They could be moving due to a job relocation, they could be expanding their family – these not only create a desire to buy a house but they create a short timeline. This can lead to having a very rushed and occasionally impatient buyer. This is because they buyer is more focused on their life event, and the property is a means to an end.

 

If the buyer is a first-time homebuyer, they might harbour fear or anxiety as this is likely the largest purchase they’ve made to date and they do not want to make the wrong purchase.

 

When Going To Viewings

There are so many emotions a buyer can have when viewing a property. Here are just a few key scenarios to be aware of.

 

Immediate emotional attachment: Some buyers get carried away. It could be the right style of house, or it could be that some features of the house outweigh a lot of the practicalities they are looking for in a home. Whatever the reason, it can be very easy to fall in love with a home, it’s just important to ensure that the house is as good for you as you are thinking it is in the moment.

 

Disappointment can occur from catfishing. If a home buyer becomes interested in a property based off the property’s photos, but comes to find that in reality the home is much smaller and darker than expected – disappointment can easily sink in. What may have been an immediate emotional attachment can turn into an emotional crash.

 

This is a great time to remind that the average homebuyer will look at approximately 16 properties before making an offer. However, average numbers do not mean they are the standard! Some people can look at over 40 without making an offer, some will make an offer after looking only at 5 or 6.

 

When Negotiating

Emotions naturally peak at this stage in the roller coaster of homebuyer emotions. Generally the emotions of a homebuyer at this stage are anxiety, impatience and eagerness. They are hoping their offer will be accepted but they are worried it might be rejected outright. They might be overwhelmed at all the legal language they have to learn when it comes to disclosures and contracts.

 

When Receiving A Home Inspection

Especially if a homebuyer is a property virgin, they might not be aware or expecting that a home inspector’s job is to find fault in a home. Even though every single home will have issues, this is a point where homebuyers can be easily scared off.

 

Buying a home is an emotional decision. It is emotional at every single corner in the house hunting process. By being able to isolate and unpack the feelings of a homebuyer throughout the sale process, real estate agents can better provide customer service to their clients and even prevent negative emotions from even happening.

How To Tell If A House Is Overpriced

July 18, 2019
Everyone wants the best price for their home, which means they sell their home for the highest price possible. But if you price your home too high it can sit on the market for months and may not even sell. The longer a property is on the market, the more questions a potential buyer draws in their head – is there something wrong with the house?

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine whether your property is overpriced.

Is Your Property Priced Much Higher Than Your Neighbours?

You might have done major transformations to your home, kept it to an excellent standard, or simply love it an incredible amount – but if you significantly price your home higher than your neighbours potentially buyers might not even consider looking at the property at all. If you’re hoping to look for a sucker, you will either spend a long time looking or not find one at all. Price your home based off of a fair home evaluation.

How Did You Pick Your Real Estate Agent?

Most people will interview a few real estate agents to gauge how much their property is worth. Each real estate agent will perform their own home evaluation encouraging you that they will be able to sell your house for the price they appraise it for. But if you go with the highest valuation of your property, you take a risk. This real estate agent might just be vying for your business, knowing that eventually you will have to lower the price of your property, or they may simply be experienced. Either way, it might be to your advantage to not go for the agent that gives you the highest valuation of your property.

How Much Traffic Has Your Listing Had?

Before even going to a REALTOR®, many home buyers will start their house hunting online themselves. If your home is not getting a lot of traffic online there will be an even less likely chance that those page hits will turn into viewings. Buyers sometimes put price ranges in their house hunting search online, and if yours is very high, your property might not come up in their search – even if they are looking for a property in your neighbourhood.

How Many Offers Has Your Listing Had?

Maybe your property has had a few viewings, but for some reason you haven’t had any serious interest that results into an offer. Numerous viewings without an offer can mean that potential buyers are scared off by your price so much that they don’t feel that any offer will be taken seriously.

Instead of no offers, has your property had “low-ball” offers? If your property’s price has entertained low-ball offers it could be that your home has been on the market for a long time at a price that didn’t yield competitive offers. This sends lots of red flags to potential buyers which makes it less likely you’ll actually get the price you are hoping for.

To avoid overpricing your home, make sure you are going with a real estate agent that has experience, a good mentor by their side, and knows your area well. Overpricing your home will rarely result in selling your home for the listing price. Price your home fairly to you and to your seller and hopefully you can end up in a bidding war!

How Much Should I Bid If There Are Multiple Offers?

July 10, 2019

It finally happened. You found the house you’ve fallen in love with and want to place an offer. You go to your REALTOR® sign an offer and write a cheque for your money deposit. You pace around in anticipation until your real estate agent calls you back. While you sent in a bid, three other people did as well, and unfortunately your bid lost. How did this happen? How can you prevent it from happening again?

Unfortunately, in a seller’s market it is common for a home to receive multiple offers. Even if a home is dated and neglected, it is possible to receive multiple offers within minutes of one another. We’re here to tell you to not lose hope. Even though it may seem like there is no point to writing an offer on what could easily turn into a bidding war, it is important to remember that there is always a winning offer. So why can’t that winning offer be yours? Here are some sure-fire tips to make sure your bid become the winning bid.

Get Pre-Approved

The best way to appear serious to a seller is to start strong. Go to your bank or mortgage lender and ask to be preapproved for a certain mortgage amount. Even if it is not the exact amount as the property you are looking for, if it is

within your budget (especially under!) you will appear as a strong buyer in the seller’s eyes.

Your First Offer Should Be Your Best Offer

This sounds counter-intuitive as many people like to haggle, but if you worry that there will be multiple bids on the property you wish to make an offer on, you should submit your best offer as your first offer. This offer could even be above asking price. Don’t be surprised if you see a property you love that’s at too good of a price. It usually means the seller is hoping for multiple offers so always make sure what you go in with is the best you can give to ensure you get it.

Be Flexible With Your Move In Date

A seller may love your offer, may love how serious and strong of a buyer you may appear, but may not be able to work with your move in date. Make sure that you are flexible with that time period as they may want to move out straight away or may need some time until they find the right house. Always be flexible with your move in date when making an offer.

The Bigger The Deposit The Better

Sellers fear that even if they accept an offer, a buyer may back out of their offer or default on their contract. Therefore, the more serious you appear as a buyer, the more likely a seller is to accept your offer. As submitting a money deposit is part of your down payment, you can stand out from competing bidders with a higher than average expected deposit. The more you put in, the more serious you appear to the seller and the more likely they’ll accept your offer.

At the end of the day, remember that while it is entirely possible that you can enter a bidding war on a property you love, make sure you are bidding to win your home, not just bidding to win. It’s very easy to get caught up emotionally in a bidding war (especially for those who are competitive). Play nice, prepare for a counter offer, and hopefully that dream home you are bidding on will be yours!

 

How To Save Money On Condo Fees

July 3rd, 2019

Condo fees. They are both the best and worst part of condo life. They’re the best because they cover your lovely amenities that you don’t have to maintain yourself (other than paying for them). They’re the worst part because they’re an additional expense to living that for the most part, only keeps increasing. So if your heart is set on the condo lifestyle, how do you keep those condo fees as low as possible? Here are some tips:

AMENITIES

Underground Parking

For some, underground parking is an absolute necessity. It’s a great way to keep your car protected in wet or winter months. But it’s also surprisingly expensive to maintain. If you can find an outdoor parking space in or around your building, it might be a better option in the long run.

Pool

Some people, especially those with children, love pools. Some, if we’re being honest, merely like the idea of a pool. If you have no intention to visit the pool at least once a week forego a condo that offers one. Join a gym and use their pool, it’ll save you more than you think.

Board Of Directors

Say you found a condo that you love and it does have bells and whistles for amenities. A great way to lower the cost is to join the board. While you will be taking on additional responsibilities out of your work hours, you can have a big voice in how the money is spent in your condo – ensuring your condo fees are right where you want them to me.

 

BUILDING OPTIONS

New vs. Old Condos

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the older the condo the higher the condo fees. If you are very keen to live in a condo and want the lowest condo fees your best bet is to live in a condo that is at the very most ten years old. It’s very unlikely there will be any significant roof replacements or repaving of driveways.

Townhouses

Condos are not the only residences that have affordable prices as well as lovely amenities. If you are looking for lots of space, great amenities but low monthly maintenance fees, consider townhouses.

GREAT RESOURCES

REALTOR®s

The experts who know every condo and townhouse fee out there are real estate agents. Based on your needs we at RLP Central TO will be able to help you find the best residence with the best fees for you. So why don’t you drop a comment after this blog, send us an email or shoot us a call? We’d love to explain to you which condos and townhouses have low fees, which have high fees, which buildings have issues related to age or amenities and more!

The best way to reach us is by going to our main page. Here you will find our email, our phone number, our address, as well as all of our social media. You pick how you want to get in touch with us, we’d love to chat!

Do Public Utilities On A Property Affect Desirability?

There are several kinds of public utilities that can be placed on a property: telephone boxes, fire hydrants, storm drains, etc. This is because, more often than not, the first five or six feet from the road is defined as a public easement. For those not in the know, an easement is a right to use someone else’s land for a specified purpose. In this case, it’s the government’s right to use your land for the specified purpose of public utilities such as those named above. They are helpful for the whole of the community, and they try not to take up too much space on your land.

Based on our experience, here is what we have learned about public utilities on properties and how they affect desirability.

 

Telephone and Cable Boxes

Though these are not as common as they used to be, you can still find them occasionally in neighbourhoods. For some reason, out of all the public utilities, these are the least well-kept. This is because snowplows are wont to ding them in the winter, or people break into them to steal cable. Because this public utility is interacted with far more than the others, it is surprising they aren’t repaired enough.

 

Bottom line: If your property had a telephone or cable box, you might find that it marginally detracts from the desirability, but probably not enough to dissuade a serious buyer.

Fire Hydrants

While most people identify fire hydrants as great places for their dogs to do their business, they’re actually supremely helpful. The closer you are to a fire hydrant, the easier it is for your house to be serviced by one in the case of a fire.

Bottom line: You might not like the look of a fire hydrant, but your insurance company does! This can lower your insurance and perhaps that might make you happier to have one on your property.

Electrical Boxes

These boxes are big, there’s no denying that. But the positive thing is that they are rarely used, so you can actually plant shrubbery to mask it. Think of seeing your electrical box as a landscaping opportunity in your front yard, and who knows what creative juices can come out!

Bottom line: Electrical boxes are the middle of the road. Yes they are big and bulky so they can take up prime space in your front yard, but you can also cover them up and incorporate that into your landscape design.

As you can see, different public utilities affect desirability in different ways. Some people offhand might not appreciate that they have a fire hydrant on their property until they realize that their insurance company loves it! Some might not want electrical boxes until they realize they can cover them up. At the end of the day, these are minor nuisances for the greater good. They might ever so slightly affect the desirability of your property if you are thinking of listing, but a buyer who loves your house will likely not be dissuaded because of the public utility located on the end of your driveway or yard.

How Do You Negotiate After A Home Inspection?

June 19, 2019
It is a common misconception that the bulk of negotiations on a real estate deal happen at the signing of the contract. Yet, this is actually only the starting point of negotiations. Negotiations, especially in competitive real estate markets, can occur even into escrow.

 

One of the biggest reasons for renegotiations in a property contract occur because a home inspection turned up significant repairs that required to be done. It is guaranteed that a home inspection will show several things that need to be fixed in a home. These issues can range from very minor to very major. In order to get the best deal on the house, or to ensure you are getting the house you hoped for, here are some important tips for negotiating your property contract after getting a home inspection done.

 

Ask For A Credit

The closer the property is toward its closing date, the less likely the sellers will be interested in repairing their old home. Furthermore, if they do fix it because a home inspection showed that a part of it needed to be fixed, it might not be fixed with the same conscientiousness as a new owner would demonstrate. Your primary focus is your new home, so is theirs.

 

If you ask for a cash-back credit at the close of escrow, you can use that money to complete whatever projects you need to do according to the home inspection. As this is your new investment and new love, it’s very likely that you will do a better job. Getting a credit saves you a lot of headache of communicating back-and-forth with the seller to confirm that repairs have been made, especially to your standard.

 

Think “Big Picture”

When you move into your new home, you likely have already created a plan of action for the house. Perhaps you saw that one of the bathrooms is close to being outdated in terms of style. Upon a home inspection, you also discover that a little bit of the floor in that bathroom is damaged and that the tiles need caulking. If you already had plans that in a few years you would renovate the space, you might not want to negotiate. However, you can still negotiate the repairs! Asking the seller for a credit to repair these issues could help offset some of your closing costs.

 

Have A Good Poker Face

As you go through the home inspection with the inspector and the listing agent, it is paramount that you keep mum. A revelation of an emotion either way could lead to disastrous consequences. For example, if you spend a large amount of time during the home inspection measuring the space and picking out paint colours, you will lose negotiation power as this information will definitely be relayed to the seller. Any issues that turn up in the home inspection will be ignored because they know your intentions. Any hope to get a credit back to repair a kitchen cabinet or two (especially if you were banking on that credit to do the renovation) are gone. Conversely, if you are too uneasy with the issues cropping up, the listing agent may relay this to the seller in a way that makes you appear as not a serious buyer for the property.

At the end of the day, the main takeaway you should take is that negotiations do not start and end with the original contract. Always remember that you can negotiate after a home inspection if flaws are found. If no flaws are found (an unlikely, yet plausible event) you risk alienating the sellers – incentivizing them to seek out another buyer. Until money changes hands, never assume the deal is done. Stay vigilant and be fair in your negotiations!

Cool and Unusual Things To Do In Toronto

If you’ve spent long enough in Toronto you will come to learn all of the local favourites: High Park, the ROM, the AGO, Ripley’s Aquarium, the St. Lawrence Market, the CN Tower, etc. It’s possible that you’ve even seen these awesome attractions more than once. But if you are seeking to see the flavour and personality of Toronto off the beaten path, look no further than here. Here are some really cool and unusual things to do in Toronto.

 

The Monkey’s Paw

This is the place to be if you are a bibliophile. The Monkey’s Paw specializes in uncommon books and paper artifacts and hosts the world’s first “Biblio-Mat” – a random book vending machine!

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Located inside the giant peacock that also houses Robarts Library on the U of T campus, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is a quiet lush world covered in red carpet – befitting of the A-List books you’ll find inside. No, they won’t be Heather’s Pick books you would find at Indigo, rather, in this library you will find some of the rarest books in the world that you can touch and read. Choose from hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable, gorgeous tomes that can transport you to another world.

 

Winter Garden Theatre

The Winter Garden Theatre is a beauty to behold. Not only is it part of the last double-decker theatre in the entire world, but being in the Winter Garden Theatre will transport you to another world. Different from a traditional theatre room, the ceiling is draped with botanicals and blooms of your wildest dreams, making the theatre just as pretty, if not more, than what you will see on stage.

 

Sewers Of Toronto

This may seem like an odd choice, but there is a special world underneath Toronto that most have not yet explored. Most sewage tunnels aren’t worth seeing. They’re dark, damp, cramped and smell like, well, sewage. Toronto’s is an historic set of tunnels that are well-maintained, wide and extremely high. The ones you see in movies that you imagine are just in movies? Well, in Toronto they’re real. In fact, the best description we can give is that they more closely resemble our subway tunnels than typical sewage tunnels. Each leg of the sewer system has a unique story to tell. The Garrison Creek Sewer was once a creek that was above ground! If you’re a daring soul, find a public works employee and have them take you through any manhole or sewer grate you see – as without a public works employee it is definitely prohibited to enter these magical underground tunnels.

 

Lower Bay Station

Though the TTC is not as old and mysterious as the subway systems in New York and Paris, there are still mysteries abound that you can explore. One of the curiosities that has been revealed to the public is Lower Bay Station – an abandoned subway station that was briefly in service in 1966. Lower Bay was meant to be a station that turned Toronto’s two subway lines into three – but it failed. However, it has since risen to fame as a popular area for film shoots and Nuit Blanche. There are plenty of other secrets to be discovered along the TTC, from partially built streetcar stations, boarded up attics that lead to a world of wonder at Lawrence Station, even the transit control room.

Which mystery do you think you’ll be up for trying? Are you more of a fantasy dreamer to visit the Winter Garden Theatre? Or do you think you’re a clandestine explorer ready to see what is lurking in the sewers of Toronto? Let us know!

Things To Do On Moving Day

June 5, 2019
The big day is finally here! It’s filled with excitement as you are about to embark on your new life in a new place, but it can also be filled with anxiety. You may worry what will happen if things don’t go according to plan such as your movers showing up late (or worse not at all). You may worry if someone gets hurt during the move, or that the weather is poor during the move. There is an infinite list of things to worry about on moving day, so here is an essential checklist to help you with everything on moving day to prevent you from having any of these worries!

 

Become A Morning Bird – If Only For Today

Get up early. Like at the crack of dawn early. Make sure you had a well-rested night’s sleep the night before, but it is without a doubt a fact that the earlier you get up the more you can get done before the movers arrive! You won’t feel the need to rush things and you’ll have time to have a proper breakfast too.

 

Pack The Last Of Your Items

After you’ve ate, showered and dressed yourself for the day make sure you pack every last little thing that you needed to use in your old house before moving out. This could be blankets, pillows, sheets, your pyjamas that you just slept in – even your bed! Also remember your toiletries that you used in the morning as well as any kitchen items you used or needed to make your breakfast this morning. This is also a good time to do a sweep of all the boxes you’ve previously packed to make sure they’re all tightly sealed and labeled properly.

 

Take Photos Of Everything

There are so many reasons to take photos. One is to take memories of your old home, even though it doesn’t really look the way it did when you lived in it. Another reason is to have proof of the current condition of your furniture, appliances, and the general condition of your old home in case any accidents or complaints crop up. It’s also particularly helpful in your new home because now you will have a guide how to reassemble or reconnect furniture and/or appliances.

 

Set Aside Personal Valuables

There will be some things you load into the moving truck, and there will be some things you’d rather keep with you. Anything that is essential (personal electronics such as laptops, tablets, cellphones), tickets and keys, documents, family heirlooms and jewelry should be kept somewhere separate and locked so that only you and your family members have access to it. It’s incredibly easy to misplace things on moving day, so keeping all of the important things in one place will help you remember where they are.

Do you think we’ve missed out an essential tip on this checklist for moving day? Let us know by leaving a comment! We’d love to grow and improve this checklist with the help of our knowledgeable readers.

The Future of Work and Automation

May 30, 2019
It is without doubt that over the past 30 years we have seen a huge leap in the advancement of technology. While it has greatly improved our daily lives, its greatest impact has been felt in the workplace. Artificial intelligence and automation has complemented human labour in the workplace so such an extent that it has transformed the nature of work and the workplace itself. Some jobs we have seen decline because of this, while others have grown substantially.

The current belief is that there will be enough work to go around despite this giant progression, but we as a society will need to learn how to grapple with the significant dislocation and transitions in the workforce. Part of the solution will come from workers acquiring new skills in order to adapt and hold value vis-à-vis increasingly capable machines that seek to create a more streamlined and efficient workforce. Some workers will have to completely divert their work part and seek new occupations that have yet to find a machine counterpart.

The positions that are predicted to be easily automated are generally physical activities that live in highly structured and predictable environments. This could be data processing, collection, manual labour, etc. These positions account for just under half of the most common work activities in the world. The categories of positions that are the least susceptible to automation are those that interface with other humans such as managing, working with stakeholders, and providing expertise.

It is important to remember that just because an area in the workforce can be affected by automation does not mean that it will be fully replaced by automation. Many tend to balloon the idea when in actuality, it is predicted that only about 5% of current occupations will be fully automated by the current automated and AI technology we have today. At present, 30-60% of current occupations have portions of their work that are automatable. So whether you are a CEO or a mortgage broker, most of us at one point in our career will work alongside rapidly evolving machines.

Instead of being scared for the future, take this as an incentive to always be learning new skills. To learn to work effectively and well with automated machines. Be prepared for jobs to be completely redesigned, for new jobs to be created. The best jobs to be in require either advanced technological skills or deep social, emotional and cognitive skills (such as critical thinking and complex information processing). Even if your current position requires a lot of physical and manual skills, do not panic. While these jobs will decline rapidly, they are still predicted to be the single largest category of workforce skills in 2030 in many countries.

How do you see your job being affected by automation and artificial intelligence? How do you already integrate technology into your career? How will you continue to add technology into your career to improve your efficiency and output? Let us know by leaving a comment!

The Importance of Goal Setting

May 22, 2019

You may think creating a goal is something people do only for New Year’s. You may think that creating goals takes time away from achieving greatness. These assumptions are wrong. If you want to excel in life, particularly in your career, you need to set goals. Here are six reasons that explain the importance of goal setting.

Goals Propel You Forward

It’s unbelievably easy to create anxiety in your life. If you create a goal that says you want to lose a certain amount of weight or you want to sell a certain number of properties that is only half a goal. You have nothing to work toward it’s just a looming number that creates pressure with nowhere to go. By creating a goal and setting yourself a deadline you are constantly reminded that you need to work toward something with a finish line. This way, even after the excitement fades about working toward something, you can still visualize and connect with your goals in a way that gives you energy.

Goals Turn Mountains Into Molehills

Most of us have big, beautiful, ambitious dreams. Some might see these dreams as insurmountable, but that’s because they haven’t broken down their goals into achievable steps. So for example, you want to be a published author. You won’t just wake up one day and be one, and the thought of writing a whole book can be overwhelming. But if you break up your goal into smaller goals – writing a chapter every week, meeting with a new publisher or agent every month, you can get much faster to your goal than you thought. When your mountain is turned into a molehill or several molehills allows you to feel a measurable increase in your progression and this can propel you to keep going, even when things get tough.

Goals Instil Self-Value

When you create a goal, you aren’t just building a dream and turning it into reality. That’s half the magic of a goal. The other half of the magic is that setting a goal inherently says you believe in yourself. You have value and you can do great things. Goal setting gives us the inspiration to aim for things we never thought we could do.

Goals Show You Right From Wrong

This isn’t meant in the moral sense. Imagine you created a goal with a deadline of one year. Yet, by the sixth month, you’ve begun to notice that you’ve really not made any substantial progress. Because you created a goal and created steps to achieve this goal, you are able to quantify and measure what you did, what doesn’t work, and now you are signalled to change in order to achieve your goal. Instead of lamenting that you are a failure, goal setting holds you accountable to change for the better.

Goals Tell Us What We Want

This may seem self-evident, yet for many it is not. This is because there are many of us out there who are too afraid to dream. Creating a goal, be it a personal or professional one, requires introspection. You may think you want more free time, but perhaps after a lot of reflection you realize that it’s not the free time you need in life, what you need is something to feel passionate about. Sometimes, people think they want to be alone when really they are confusing the need for space as a call that they don’t have enough positive people in their life.

Goals Help Us Live Life To The Fullest

When you set a goal you are pushing yourself. You are squeezing every drop of life out of you instead of coasting or living with regret. When you create goals, you make every day count. Imagine life as a holiday. When you go on vacation its usually for a limited time. You can choose to take in as many sights as possible and eat as many delicious things as possible, or you can choose to rest. Perhaps you want a bit of both. But because you want to make the most of your trip you plan accordingly. Treat your life and your goals in the same way and you will see how you can live life to the fullest.

There are so many important reasons to set a goal in life. It pushes you to achieve more than you thought you could, it forces you to think about what you really want from life, and it teaches you which methods work toward achieving success and which don’t. Now the important question is – what goal will you set for yourself?

How To Buy In A Seller’s Market

May 15, 2019

Spring is, without question a buyer’s market. It is the busiest time of the year to buy and sell houses as people are eager to come out of hibernation and make the most of a new, warmer season. But when homes come off the market almost as quickly as they come on, how can you ensure that you beat the competition and find the right home? Here are some essential tips to use when trying to buy in a seller’s market.

Get Pre-Approved

You want to make the life of the seller as easy as possible. A great way to do this is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. You don’t need to get pre-approved for every house that you are possibly interested in, but even getting approved for a certain amount and having that documentation with you can speak volumes about how serious you are as a buyer. Just remember that a pre-approval letter is not a guarantee for a mortgage, but it will give you a solid idea of what you can afford.

Use Escalation Clauses

In a seller’s market, it’s likely that you could enter into a bidding war on a property. To save you from feeling anxious, set out an escalation clause with your REALTOR® as well as your real estate lawyer so that it will be pre-determined how much more you are willing to pay over a competing offer. This is another great way to show how serious of a buyer you are to a seller.

Be Flexible

We don’t mean take yoga classes, we mean be flexible with the time you may want or need to move into the new property. Some sellers will want to be out of their old home within 30 days, others may want 60 or more. The more flexible you are with your ability to move in, the more you can appeal to the variety of sellers on the market.

 

Show Your Feelings

If you really, really want a property and are afraid of entering into a bidding war, consider writing the sellers a heartfelt letter. Maybe you can picture your children already playing on the tire swing in the back yard, maybe this home is within walking distance of a place you volunteer at. While some sellers will sell their property only to the highest bidder, there are some who will develop emotional attachments and will want to ensure their home goes to someone who will appreciate it the most.

Do A Pre-Inspection

A pre-inspection is like a house inspection except it is usually shorter than a regular one. It costs a few hundred dollars but again, shows true seriousness in your determination to buy. While a pre-inspection is nowhere near as thorough as a full house inspection, it will give you a sense of what’s right and wrong with the property before you put in an offer. This shows to the seller that you have some skin in the game and they may be more willing to sell it to you.

Buying a Condo in Toronto

May 7, 2019

It’s 2019 – why are you still paying rent? This is the year that you can change how you invest in yourself. Instead of giving your hard-earned money to your landlord each month, why not invest it in yourself and your own property? It is possible, especially in Toronto! If you work in Toronto, commuting will not necessarily save you money in the long or short term. Living as close to work as possible is one of the smartest financial decisions you can do. So why not step the ante up and see what you can buy? Here are some essential tips to help you buy a condo in Toronto.

Redo Your Finances

With the market being so hot right now, it’s almost guaranteed that the prices of downtown Toronto condos have increased from the time you began saving for a down payment. So if your budget was $500 000 and you had your eye on a specific type of condo with that price, chances are that condo is now worth $550 000. So either you need to save more than you think you need, or recalculate your expectations based on your budget.

Buying in Summer Could Save You Money

The hottest time of the year to buy and sell a house is spring, with fall as a close second. Most people wait to list their homes during this time for this very reason. However, in the summer, most families are on vacation or are preoccupied with summer activities to go house hunting. This is when the tables turn and it becomes a bit more of a buyer’s market. If you are keen to get a very good deal, the summer months will give you the greatest opportunity for sellers to be flexible in their sale price.

Consider Buying on Assignment

An assignment is when the buyer of a pre-construction condo chooses to sell the property before they officially take possession of the condo. This can give you the opportunity to live in a brand new, never-been-lived-in condo in Toronto. The prices will not be as cheap as pre-construction, but they will definitely be more a great investment as they will not have reached their highest level of potential value yet!

Buy ASAP

Because the Toronto real estate market is currently booming, there is no time quite like the present to purchase. It is practically guaranteed that any property you do purchase will increase in value. Therefore, the logic follows that the sooner you purchase a property, the farther your money will go. You can take the risk to wait for the right deal, but the truth will be inevitable that the sooner you decide to buy the better it will be for your investment.

If you are thinking about buying a condo in Toronto and would like more advice, please feel free to contact our brokerage here. We would love to help you find the condo of your dreams for the best price possible.

What Do You Need To Know To Become A Successful Realtor?

May 1, 2019

 

Whether you are just starting out, or have hit a rut in your real estate career, you will find yourself at one point thinking, “what do I need to do to become successful?” To be a successful real estate agent involves more than just passing a test. You need to put yourself on the right path. There are many things you can say or try to be a more successful realtor. Here are five tried and tested ways that we think you won’t want to pass up.

Maintain A Backup Income

The goal is to ideally have enough money to sustainably live six months without obtaining a commission. It is easy to appreciate that when you are starting out, or if you are in a rough patch, this can be hard to do. Sometimes, it takes many months to sell your first home or to get out of your funk. There is no shame in having something on the side to pay the bills.

Find A Good Mentor

Unfortunately, the real estate licence exam doesn’t teach you everything you need to know to be a successful REALTOR®. Sometimes, finding a good mentor or broker who will let you assist with their deals can teach you vital lessons for your career. You will learn how explain important terms to clients such as surveys, deeds, title insurances, encumbrances and liens. Even helping out on a handful of deals can give you immeasurable experience.

Build A Contact Management System

A well-organized and clearly labelled contact management system is going to change your business. You will meet hundreds, maybe thousands of people across the span of your career. By having it all in one easy to read place, you will know who is a buyer, who is a seller, who is an investor, a lawyer, a mortgage broker, an inspector, an appraiser, an investor, and more. A lot of your value as a real estate agent comes from who you know, the better you take care of this system, the better a real estate agent you will be.

Have A Strong Online Presence

While some older real estate agents may tell you differently, the internet will be critical for your success as a real estate agent. Even if you have many referrals, you can always have more. Create a budget for a strong and well-presented web presence, but don’t feel like you need to go over the top. Remember, at the end of the day it’s quality, not quantity.

At the end of the day, the biggest piece of advice to give when seeking to be a highly successful realtor is to have patience and initiative. As long as you are always learning to improve your skills and are okay waiting a few months to see the results roll in, you will be fine. You have to remember to believe in yourself and your skills and your hard work will pay off. Whichever point you are in your real estate career, we believe in you and hope you can be as successful as possible!

The Costs of Commuting

April 24, 2019

 

When looking to buy a new home,
most people immediately think the maximum commuting distance they’d like to be from their work. For some, it is an hour’s drive, for others it’s ten minutes. It’s common to hear that the further you live the more you save, but is it true?

 

In 2018, it was estimated that it costs about 34 cents per kilometre to drive a car in Canada. This figure includes the cost of the car itself, insurance, maintenance and gas. If we imagine that the average commute to work is approximately 24 km one way to get to work, that means the average person driving cost is 48 km a day. That means, in order to drive your car you are paying $16.32. Every. Single. Day. That’s over $4200 per year per person. If you are a dual-commuting household that number doubles. And these are just average numbers, your commute could be a lot longer.

That $4200 you spend each year to commute to work could go to so many other things. You could go on vacation, update your home, even invest. Actually, if you invested $4200 every year with a 7% return you could make $175 000 in 20 years!

Now, if you belong to the school of thought that your time is money, it is important to consider your hourly wage. If we were to be on the conservative side and imagine that you make $20 an hour and you commute about 50 minutes each day, you are kissing goodbye another $16.80 every single day you commute. This brings your daily commuting costs to about $32. That cost per year? $10 742.46! If you invested that amount each year at 7% return you would have almost $450 000 in 20 years!

We all fall prey to average thoughts. We ask around and get a few answers and create this “average answer” in our head. It’s very easy to accept that the “average commute” each day is a half hour drive. What if, instead, you dismantled that idea?

Say you only drove one kilometre each way to work for a year at $0.34/km and $20/hour. That would cost you about $800 a year. Do you know what else costs about $800 a year? A house worth $15, 900 more than what you would be paying already at a 5% mortgage rate.

That’s a big and important number people need to know. For every kilometre you move closer to your work, you can be spending nearly $16 000 more on your property! And remember these are just the numbers for one person commuting, that number increases for every other person living with you that commutes to work.

The big takeaway from this is that you shouldn’t be afraid of central Toronto real estate prices. They may be higher than suburbia, but they’re free from the hidden costs of commuting we often don’t compute in our minds. If your work is in central Toronto, you can live closer to work than you thought!

Prepping Your Condo For Sale

April 17, 2019

 

While putting a condo up for sale is very similar to putting a freehold home for sale, there are some key differences. It is important to know what these differences are so that you have a positive interaction with your condo board as well as a smooth and easy sale process.

For Sale Signs And Lock Boxes

Remember that you own the condo, but the condo board owns the hallways that connect the units as well as all the common spaces in your building. As such, the condo board will tell you where to put your For Sale sign as well as where the lock box should go that will assist agents in showing the property. Your For Sale sign will never be in the hallway outside your front door because that is common space. It is also important to keep in mind that it is also very unlikely your condo board will approve of open houses to maintain a safe and secure space for all residents.

Status Certificate

One of the biggest blunders you can make when selling your condo is not having a status certificate ready for your property. For those who do not know, a status certificate is a document that is purchased from your condo board. It explains the financial health of the building and costs around $100. Most condo purchases are usually contingent on the new buyer reviewing the status certificate with their lawyer. The best way to prepare your condo for sale is to order this well ahead of receiving an offer. If you wait until you get an offer, you might not get as many as you would like, and it will inevitably slow down the process at every turn. Order one before your property goes on the market, and make copies!

Questions To Prepare For

While a status certificate will provide a mountain of financial information to a prospective buyer, you will notice that once your property is up for sale, you will receive a bountiful amount of questions regarding your property – some very specific to condos. It is good to prepare for these types of questions in advance so they do not catch you off guard or make you seem aloof when it comes to your own building. Common questions that are asked are:

  • How much money is in the building’s reserve fund?

  • When was the last financial audit?

  • Are there any special assessments from the condo board that I should know?

The good thing about each of these questions is that they can easily be answered by reading your status certificate and memorizing a few facts. Prospective buyers trust sellers who are knowledgeable and are more likely to put in offers on properties they feel secure knowing all the facts.

 

Staging

Space is often limited in a condo. Therefore it is essential that however you stage it you highlight to the fullest potential the level of light, space, flow and size in your condo. The best way to do this is to go for neutral-coloured walls, removing as much clutter as possible (not just hiding it in storage!) and ensuring your home is a fully completed space as opposed to a half-done project. Make every room have a purpose and always strive to make your condo match the pictures that are on the listing.

This is an incredibly hot time to have a condo on the market. While this can be exciting as it ensures there will be at least a few viewings of your property, you need to ensure that it is beyond expectations to get an offer. Otherwise, a prospective buyer can be tempted to simply view another of the hundreds of condos currently up for sale in the area!

Is Your Real Estate Website Accessible?

April 10, 2019

If your website is created and designed to best suit the needs of people with perfect vision and hearing, you’re missing out on a sizeable demographic that could bring you a lot of sales. Our neighbours to the south have recently required all U.S. government websites to be fully compliant according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. While REALTOR®s in the US are private individuals and not related to the government, it is very possible that they will have the same requirements in the future.

Having an accessible website is huge for your business. Not only does it open up your client base, as mentioned previously, but it ensures a better use experience for everyone. You get to be at the forefront of technological advancement, making clients respect and trust you more when they realize how much effort you’re putting into your business. In turn, your efforts will ensure equality and fairness for more, and your brand will be protected from social media complaints!

If you are interested in making your website more accessible but don’t know where to start, consider the following topics pulled from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

Perception

Your clients should be able to see all the content on all the pages of your website. This means we need to be mindful of those with disabilities or those who live in special circumstances. Remember that when thinking of disabilities, vision impairment is a significant disability to think of, but not the only one!

Three great ways to help improve the perception of your website are text alternatives, videos and audio, and colours.

Text Alternatives: Your website will likely have images with words on them, perhaps even videos or audio files. While you don’t need to update or re-format any visuals you have that are purely for decoration, those that are important (such as symbols or emoticons that provide context to your website) can be quickly fixed by adding a text alternative.

Videos and Audio: While video and audio clips are great for people with vision impairment, those who have hearing issues can greatly benefit by having captions for any speech you have on your website. Bonus points for adding audio-descriptions that can describe who and what is in the video. If, however, your video or audio clip is an alternative to a text explanation, then you don’t need to add captions. Another important tip to keep in mind is disabling any auto-play functions you have. A lot of users (both abled and disabled) don’t enjoy auto-play in your video embeds. But if you must have one, ensure that it has a pause or a stop feature, as well as volume controls.

Colours: While colour is a great way to convey information, it should not be the sole way information is conveyed. You can chose to underline links to draw attention, and urgent things can have both a red coloured font as well as a bolded font. There are many clients out there who are colour blind and would really appreciate a more easily distinguishable website. The biggest issue our American neighbours are having in this compliance department is ensuring that their logos and brand colour schemes have enough contrast. W3C recommends a contrast ratio of at least 4:5:1 between text and background colours, which is certainly doable, but you might have to make some compromises.

Perception is just one of the four major topics that is needed to be taken into account when modifying your website to make it more accessible. The others are operability, predictability, and robustness. Please have a flick through the WCAG 2.0 website and see how you can push your website into 2019 and make it the most accessible!

How To Get A Head Start Buying Your First Home

April 3, 2019
Congratulations! You have saved up enough money to put a down payment on a property or you have become sick and tired of renting. Either way, as a first time homebuyer, there are some important things to know to ensure that the process is as smooth as butter for you.

Prepare Your Credit Score

One of the most important things you can do in preparation for purchasing your first home is ensuring your credit score is stellar. Even though we are human and apt to miss a bill payment or two, this could leave an unsightly blemish on your credit score.

Alternatively, if you have no credit score, you definitely need to work on getting one! Having no credit can be just as bad as having bad credit. Now, this is not to say that you should run and buy a new car or expensive things. You should never accumulate more debt than you have to. But it would definitely help if you signed up for a credit card, put your cell phone bill on your credit card and paid it off on time every month.

Prepare For Patience

Despite what HGTV will show you, house hunting is not as easy as looking at three homes in a half hour and quickly picking your dream home out of those three. While it is possible, it’s also as likely as winning the lottery. The more realistic scenario is that you will look at a dozen or so homes (some clients looking at almost 50!) until you find the one you feel comfortable putting an offer on. Be prepared for many weekends spent looking at homes online and in person – and remember that all this hard work will pay off.

Prepare For Home Inspection Issues

Thankfully, because we live in a more balanced market, it is possible to make your purchase subject to a home inspection. It is incredibly important to have a home inspector investigate your home and see its genuine shape. Prepare to see potentially a hundred different items that will need addressing in the home you want to purchase. Some will be very minor, some can be major. You might think that home is incredibly well-maintained, and it probably is. But many homeowners can’t see what’s lurking beneath the surface of their well-maintained homes. For any large issue that comes your way in the home inspection, prepare to deal with it through an amendment in your offer. And embrace the little things on the home inspection as normal.

Prepare For Paying A Fair Price

We all want a good deal, especially on something that is arguably our biggest purchase. Back in the day, before the internet was pivotal to the real estate market, you might have been able to squeak away with a good deal. Even that, however was unlikely. Today, there is no chance at all. We all have equal access to the internet which means we all have a pretty good idea of how much a home is worth. And even if you do find a “good deal” prepare to have others equally interested in the property with a chance of a bidding war.

Buying your first home is an exciting process! You can finally have something you truly call your own. These are just a few helpful tips, and there are plenty more out there. We applaud you for starting your homework, and wish you good luck as you continue to do so.

 

What To Expect When You’ve Accepted An Offer

March 27, 2019
Some sellers are so anxious and impatient to sell their homes that when they finally get an offer all they can do is celebrate. And celebration is important, don’t get us wrong! But they should also be prepared for what happens once they’ve accepted an offer. An accepted offer is not the finish line in the real estate business, merely it is the beginning of the end. So before they start bringing out the streamers and pompoms, here are some important things they should be aware following the acceptance of an offer.

Contingencies

Not all offers are firm offers, in fact, many are contingent upon something in the contract. This can be an offer contingent upon a successful home inspection, or a different type of inspection. Be prepared for unique and contingent offers that may alter the finality of the accepted offer.

Closing Date

Once an offer has been accepted the clock starts to tick. The seller has to be out of the property in a “broom clean” state by a certain date otherwise they run the risk of the buyer losing an interest-rate lock-in. Moreover, they can also lose necessary funds required to purchase a replacement property.

Deposits

Nowadays, it is almost unheard of to accept an offer that does not include a deposit. So once the seller has accepted an offer they should also be expecting within 24 hours (not business days!) a deposit. A deposit basically counts as evidence of the buyer’s commitment to go through with the transaction, in case your seller is confused about this amount. Sellers should not rejoice the minute they get the cheque, they need to ensure that the check did not bounce (believe it or not, it does happen). This money then gets held in escrow (a trust account) until the house selling process is fully complete. This is basically emergency money that can be accepted as damages for a broken down contract agreement or cancellation.

Fixtures

Sellers need to establish with their real estate agents what is a fixture in their home versus what is personal property. Generally, a fixture is something attached to the house and is intended to remain with the house upon sale. Personal property goes with the seller to their new home. Therefore, if a seller is really attached to their built-in microwave and wants to take it with them to their new home, it is important you discuss with them that it should be marked as personal property rather than a fixture before they get a nasty surprise.

Repairs

Sometimes, often following home inspections, it will be established to the seller that repairs need to be made to the property. In order to avoid problems with the buyer ensure that there is a home warranty with the purchase. This is essentially an insurance policy that covers the replacement or repair of many systems in the home. If you want to do more or different kinds of repairs, ensure that you are getting the correct brand and model that the buyer agrees with as it is their home now and not the sellers anymore.

Title

In order for a seller to be successful in the sale of their home the closing agent will need to perform a title search. That is to say, the agent will investigate the chain of title (property transactions, easements) as well as look for any defects like unpaid liens or uncanceled mortgages to make sure that the property is clear and good to be sold. A title search can miss defects, mortgage lenders often require title insurance. If the title is “clouded” then it cannot be insured. The seller then would be forced to take action (also known as “quieting” the title) in order for the sale to clear.

Final Walk Through

Prior to closing, buyers have the right to walk through the property so they can perform their own personal inspection. At that time, all utilities must be working. This is essentially to ensure that the buyer is getting the property in the condition that they viewed it in when they made an offer. So if the seller dented the wall while moving out their couch, they would be responsible for the repairs.

Remind your sellers do not be overwhelmed at this list! It is not as daunting as it looks. All it is there for is to remind them not to go to Hawaii for a few weeks partying it up that they sold their house as there is still some work left to be done.

 

 

How To Maximize Your Referrals

March 20, 2019

Referrals are worth their weight in gold. Compared to the non-referred shopper, referred customers are four times more likely to make a purchase, especially when they are referred to by a friend. Moreover, not only are referred customers more loyal than their non-referred counterparts, they also spend more long-term. Essentially, if you want loyal, higher spending clients in the real estate industry, you must consider setting up a scheme for referrals. Here are some helpful ways you can dramatically increase your bottom line through referrals:

 

Provide Jaw-Dropping Customer Service

Anyone can provide good customer service. Many businesses even offer above-average levels of customer service. But in order for you to be referred to friends and family, you need to really stand out from all of your competition. Smiling to clients, responding quickly to emails and questions is the minimum expectation nowadays in the customer service industry. The goal is that you want to create a scenario so uplifting that your customer will feel they have to share stories about your business. Think about what would stand out for you if you were in their shoes. Did you swallow the cost of a rush fee just to help out your client on time? Did you go to one of your client’s special events or fundraisers to show support? Going the extra mile makes mountains of difference in the land of referrals.

 

Foster Your Social Media Presence with Your Clients

You may post often on Twitter and Instagram, but testimonials speak much louder than your words ever could. If your client has had a fantastic time working with you and has relayed this to you, encourage them to share their opinion on social media! You can even provide rewards based on how many platforms they positively review you on. You could use your platform to share a photo of their outfit of the day, their business, the world is your oyster. Make sure all your websites have easy to find social media buttons so they don’t have to go hunting to leave you those stellar reviews.

 

Another great way to foster your social media presence is to ask your best customers if you can feature them on your website and in your marketing materials. This is a perfect opportunity because they get the spotlight, you get the praise, and they might even send you more referrals for treating them so well.

 

Give Referrals to Others

This sounds counter-intuitive, but hear us out. Creating a chain cycle of referrals is a way to maintain constant and successful business. Say there is a real estate lawyer you are friends with, you can refer your clients to use their services to seal the deal. In the same breath, your real estate lawyer friend is getting oodles of business and interest, so they can refer you when their clients are looking for a new home. If you don’t know many people in your industry yet, look for business networking groups in your areas that either use referral systems or create your own.

Referrals can be incredibly rewarding and fun for both you and your clients. You can give them actual rewards and make it into a game for your clients, while they boost your business in ways you never knew. Do you use other methods for referrals?

The Reality of DIY Home Reno Jobs

March 13, 2019
Before any major home renovation project, most people do research to understand the facts and figures of what they are embarking on. But with so many websites and TV shows it can be hard to truly understand the truth behind the numbers. Here’s a fairly accurate breakdown of what to expect when you start doing your own home reno projects.

Budget in Person, Not Based Off TV

I don’t care how many episodes of Love It or List It you’ve seen, the prices you see on HGTV shows are not full invoice breakdowns. Sure, they may quote that a high-end kitchen was installed for $35 000, giving you the idea that’s how much everything cost. But was labour included in that price? What about the design fees? Were all the materials at cost? Based off of my own experience in the home renovation industry, a lot of these prices don’t add up. And this is because in order for a show like that to be successful, they need to cut costs everywhere. This means they could get a lot of donated materials, or hire contractors who would rather get paid in exposure rather than dollars.

Bottom line: don’t base your budget off of a home renovation show, speak to several professionals instead.

Go Window Shopping

Before you create a budget, the best thing to do is to visit your nearest home development store to see how much some of the items you were looking in your renovation project cost. From there, get a few quotes for labour. Add this too to your budget. Then, add a 20-40% top-up on the labour quote because you can never fully predict what will happen once construction begins.

Be Extremely Patient

Again, this is another way HGTV has ruined us. They can make you believe that a bathroom can be redone in a weekend, or a at worst a few short weeks. This. Is. Not. Real. The reality of renovating any room in your house is that it will take months. End of story. Sure it may look like The Property Brothers built some amazing kitchen cabinets in the homeowner’s driveway in three days, but that’s TV magic, not contractor magic. Instead of building false expectations in your mind that will only lead to frustration and disappointment, draw up a timeline with a contractor and work off that.

Another reason not to rush the home renovation process is to avoid mistakes and rush jobs. A lot of people will want their renovation project to be done as quickly as possible so they can go back to living their day-to-day life. We get it, home renovations can be very stressful, but the faster and harder you push contractors, the more risk of encountering problems. Instead of doing everything at once, block out your projects so that the house is easier to live in.

DIY Requires Skill

Some contractors on TV look so capable and strong that all their projects appear to be done in a breeze. You might even see them encourage the homeowners to demolish a room, or put up some drywall together. Do not be fooled, if anyone could do home renovation projects, the labour wouldn’t cost so much. Know your skills, know your patience. If you have all the time and money in the world, of course you can do these projects by yourself. But it is important to manage your time and money well. Sometimes, it really is better to hire a skilled contractor.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the reality of home renovation projects. I’m not trying to scare you from them, I think they can be great cost-effective measures. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Go in knowing fully what to expect, not what a television show tells you is real.

 

The Truth Behind Real Estate Terms

March 6, 2019

Whenever you come across a listing, there will be a description of the property. And the more you read, the more you start to notice that there are some common phrases and terms that seem to be both descriptive and yet oddly vague in the same breath. To prepare you in your house-hunting journey, we thought we’d break down some common terms so you better understand what they mean, and get you faster to the house of your dreams!

 

The first thing that comes to people’s minds is what is the true condition of the house. You might see terms such as “has potential”, “perfect investment property”, or “needs a little TLC” – they all sound similar, what does each of them mean?

New  Not as new as brand new, believe it or not!

Newish  Could be as old as ten years old.

Updated  Means the house has been renovated, but pay attention to the wording. Was it recently updated? Because this property might have been updated, but it could have been updated 5, 10 years ago. Ask! The best listings will usually include dates and details of the warranties and updates in the listing.

A Home With Character  While it can mean that a house is uniquely designed, it is often a euphemism for a house that is seriously out of style.

Refurbished  A house that has been spruced up but still nearly original underneath it all.

Needs A Little TLC  When it comes to houses that need sprucing up, houses with this description will usually be the very top of the ladder. They will need very light work that is usually a paint job or other minor cosmetic changes.

Has Potential  This is one step below “needs a little TLC”. This house will often have outdated but easily replaceable decorations. This could be an old carpet you can rip out so you can enjoy the original hardwood floors underneath, or removing some siding or wallpaper that hasn’t been in style for 30 years.

Perfect Investment Property Another step down the ladder of houses that need sprucing up, this house is often defined as having “good bones”. That means there are usually no structural or foundational issues, but you might need to completely redo the kitchen or bathroom in order for it to meet your tastes. Perhaps even blow out a wall or two to make it more open space.

Handyman Special Yet another step down the ladder is the handyman special. This property has problems. Lots of them. Some of them may even be structural or foundational. The windows will likely need to be replaced in a property like this, the roof might need to be redone, maybe some doors will need to be replaced. The basement might be unfinished. This will be a lot of work. Do not approach this property without a good and trustworthy contractor (unless you are in the construction business yourself!)

As Is  This house has gone through some rough times in its life. It could have been destroyed by the former owners when the bank foreclosed on them, it could have been abandoned for many years and fallen into decay, it could have been owned by a former hoarder. The point is, this is so bad it might be better to gut the property than work with the structure that is currently standing.

The power of words is very strong. So just as it is important to understand the meaning behind them in real estate descriptions, do not be afraid to provide detailed descriptions to your real estate agent! Saying that a house is “intriguing” or “interesting” is not helpful to your agent. What is interesting or intriguing about the property? How do you feel? What do you like specifically? What do you hate? This will help your real estate agent to get you closer to your dream house. Are there any other words you’d like us to explain to you? Let us know!

How Not To Negotiate

February 27, 2019
The business of real estate is centred around negotiation. The negotiation of how to present a listing, how much to list the property, how much to offer for a property, when to accept an offer or sometimes which offer to accept! You may feel confident in your negotiation skills as this is your chosen profession, but do you make some of these very common mistakes?

Entering Negotiations Without Doing Your Homework

This may seem like a no-brainer, but this can be a common mistake done by many experienced real estate agents. If you’ve seen a typical situation, you may feel you know the ins and outs of it and therefore you’ll be less stringent with your due diligence. But a small misstep like this can result into a fatal error. Always know the facts. Do not rely simply on how you think someone is going to negotiate because you have negotiated with them in the past. Know your numbers and the facts behind the numbers.

Not Knowing Your Leverage

Everyone likes to think that when they enter negotiations that they enter from a position of strength. While it is all well and good that you’ve done your homework, assuming you are coming from a position of strength without fully understanding your numbers or your case can lead to failure very quickly. Entering a situation from a weaker point or knowing your stronger and weaker points when leveraging a deal is crucial. Learn which muscles to flex so that you can get the best deal possible for you and your client. Confidence and a cursory knowledge of facts work in movies, not in real life.

You’re A Rambler

Real estate agents are often esteemed in their community for their communication skills. Their ability to open a conversation with almost anyone is a great way to generate as many clients as possible. But the confidence that comes from being an extrovert also has some serious disadvantages. You can talk too much that you miss out on what your clients or the opposing side of the deal is saying. You have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionally. Listen more to what everyone is saying and plan your moves like a chess game. Your speech’s value comes from its quality not its quantity.

Assuming The First Offer Is The Worst Offer

I’m not sure if people make this mistake because they are too confident in themselves or if they are sometimes a little too indoctrinated by the magic of TV. But hear me out. As a listing agent, you spend a lot of time talking with your client about what is the best price for their property. Therefore, when a buyer provides an offer, they have seriously taken to heart what they think is the best offer they can provide. If you think that you can create a counteroffer war with them, or hope for a bidding war because someone else will throw their hat in the ring, you may end up with a house that is indefinitely on the market. A lot of people will provide rationale and reasoning for their offer, and pushback on the first offer can seem insulting. It may turn someone off entirely to a property. While it is true that some people lack full information before sending an offer, oftentimes this part of the negotiation phase is purely arguing for argument’s sake. As a seller, prepare yourself and your client to really sit down and analyse every part of the offer before responding. Respond with facts and figures that support your position, not just ones that will defeat the opposing side. That is the true art to negotiation.

Negotiating is a delicate dance. There are forward and backward movements throughout the entire process, but if you step on the toes of your partner, you can derail months of hard work. Here’s hoping these tips will help you to be better at negotiation in all aspects of your career.

Which Smart Speaker Is Best For Real Estate?

February 20, 2019
Smart speakers aren’t just great for asking what time it is and what the weather is outside. Some people have them connected to their smart home technology to make living life easier. But did you know that these digital assistants can make a huge difference in your real estate business? What if I told you that according to a forecast from eMarketer, smart speaker use is predicted to increase from 16 million in 2016 to 76.5 million in 2020 in the US alone. If currently 27.6% of the US population currently uses a voice assistant, imagine how well those numbers directly translate to Canadians. This is a huge market you definitely want to tap into, but you must be smart about how you go about it.

While there are several smart speakers on the market such as Cortana, Siri, Alexa and Google, there are arguably only two main competitors on the market. So, instead of hoping that one gets more popular over time, you will want to focus on Alexa (Amazon) and Google Home. Either of these smart speakers come in a wide range of prices from extremely affordable to luxury. I insist you pick one of these up and see what it can do for you.

General Positives

Whether you get Alexa or Google Home, there is a lot you can do with a smart speaker to improve your career in real estate. Some REALTOR®s are bringing their smart speakers to open houses to plug in and play soft, inviting music in the background. Both devices have huge playlists available in almost any genre, including jazz which works great for open houses.

Another way to create buzz using a smart speaker is to host a raffle at one of your open houses. Buying a midrange device such as the Google Home or the Amazon Show (which includes a screen so you can also make video calls) will garner a lot of interest in an already excited market.

Alexa v Google Assistant

It is important to understand that Alexa currently is dominating the market. It is also important to understand why, as this may change with time. Right now, when you want to search for something, you instantly go to Google. But when you want to buy something online, you instantly go to Amazon. And since Google Assistant products are not for sale on Amazon, this explains why 67% of the smart speaker market is dominated by Amazon as opposed to Google Home’s 29%. This is directly translated into how much has been developed for both products. Currently, there are 265 Alexa real estate skills compared to Google’s 100.

These skills have been developed by several brokerages, individual agents and companies to provide real estate information. These groups are all at the lowest common denominator consumers, and they will develop more in the products they use most. As a result, there will always be more development in the more popular item, but you never know when there will be an upswing. Especially when you understand that while Amazon has a wider array of integration available, but Google offers a more robust technology. Imagine Alexa and Google as Android and iPhone – there will always be a preference for one over the other, but both will be extremely successful. Therefore, it is important to invest in both smart speakers as there will never be a monopoly, and eventually you can filter development into Siri and Cortana.

How Smart Speakers Engage Customers

Yes, it can be cool to ask Alexa or Google the value of your home, but how can you really get your customers to engage with these voice assistants? No one is going to buy a house through Alexa or Google, but where their power lies is how they help listing presentations, agent recruitment and training.

When people search and learn things through voice assistants, the sentences are shorter than a typed one. The tone is more conversational. Just imagine you are driving in your car, and you ask your smart speaker where the nearest house for sale is. That is a skill that is currently being developed to work with an MLS to integrate voice-assistant access.

Bottom line? The smart speaker is a huge piece of technology that isn’t going away anywhere soon and has huge potential. Really think about how to integrate it more into your business and you will see results!

How To Grow Your Real Estate Brand Online

February 13, 2019
Let’s face it, the number one way clients will discover who you are is from your digital presence. Gone are the days of occasionally seeing your face on a bus shelter ad, or on a notebook with your details on it. Those might get them to look you up, but what seals the deal is your website, your social media presence, and everything in that first page of google results when they look up your name. Here are some top tips on how to grow your real estate brand online so that you’re getting all the good press, and none of the bad.

  1. Are You Social?

    I certainly hope you are. While there are many different accounts out there that you could have, you want to stick with ones that will garner the most reach and interest. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are all great places to have an online presence. Google+ is being phased out, and SnapChat only appeals to certain clients. Make sure you’re hitting the right demographic and that you are captivating them in a professional manner. This is your business account, not your personal one.

    You will want to link all your social media to your website and all your other accounts so they can see why each one has its own niche. Twitter can link to news bursts and links to blogs, LinkedIn is where people can see how you’re always learning to be the best REALTOR®, and Pinterest and Instagram can be those really awesome style shots of your listings.

     

  2. What Does Your Competition Look Like?

    You may think you have a killer website or social media presence, but you won’t really know until you look at your peers. Always keep tabs on agents in and around your area to see what you could be doing to stand out above them. If you think their website is better than yours, chances are, potential clients will think so, too!

     

  3. Are You Mobile-Friendly?

    Serious browsing happens on desktops and laptops. But the first initial searches generally tend to be on cell phones during commutes, breaks, and even bathroom trips! Make sure that not only is your website mobile-accessible, but mobile-friendly. This means that they can easily navigate your website just as they would on a larger computer. Give them big pictures, easy touchable buttons, and instant access to call or text you.

     

  4. What’s Your Niche?

    Nowadays, real estate agents are a dime a dozen. You may have a killer website, you may be doing all the right things on social media, but you may still struggle to bring in clients. What’s your niche? If you’re catering to the general population, you might not be able to cast a net that is attractive enough to hit every demographic in your area. By standing out from the competition and focusing on condos, or pet-friendly homes, or even newly-divorced individuals, you can make a name for yourself that will make you more memorable in your area.

     

  5. How Good Is Your Google My Business Page?

    This is usually the first hit on your Google results. It’s the same ideas as Google Places for Businesses and Google+ Pages. It’s easy to set up an account, and it will be even easier for users to find you across the entire Google platform. You have to do this. If you do nothing else from this blog post, please do this!

Marketing yourself isn’t difficult per se, it’s more tedious. But finding the right channels for you and constantly investing in them is genuinely a true investment in yourself. You can do this, bring on those sales!

Who’s A Better REALTOR®? Introverts or Extroverts?

February 6, 2019
Often, when you think of real estate agents, you think of bubbly, talkative, persuasive and sometimes pushy people. Often these attributes are characteristic of extroverted people, and it’s why we tend to think the best sales people are extroverts. But what managers and educators everywhere often overlook and undervalue are the talents of introverts is selling. Instead of pigeon-holing and only hiring the same time of real estate agent for your firm or to interview only one kind of real estate agent to help sell or buy a home, here are some strengths and weaknesses of both introverted and extroverted salespeople to see why a solid mix of both is crucial to being the perfect REALTOR®.

The Introvert

Strengths

Believe it or not, selling a home isn’t based on how good of a talker you are. In fact, one of the best skills you can have as an agent is listening. This is one of many natural talents that belong to an introvert. Instead of blabbing on about what a house has to offer, an introverted agent will listen attentively to what a client is looking for in selling or purchasing a home. Introverts will ask more questions and have their clients lead the way – that way when suggestions are made, they are made with a plethora of client information in mind.

If you are also looking for someone to form a deeper or more long-term bond rather than a quick transaction, introverts are the way to go. Perhaps a client is a first-time buyer and they need someone to hold their hand throughout the process. Introverts will often match the energy of their client and will make sure their client is truly valued.

Finally, introverts, due to their nature and need to recharge on their own, are often self-motivated and will happily push themselves with less support and investment from a client or a manager.

Weaknesses

While on the one hand it is great that introverts ask more questions and take a step back from the conversation, new introverted real estate agents might struggle to even start a conversation with a prospective client. As a manager, it is important to provide the right tools, training and encouragement to help introverted real estate agents to get out of their comfort zone.

Another potential weakness an introverted REALTOR® may have is that it may take some time to form the rapport or relationship necessary between a client and a real estate agent. Even though on average the relationship formed between an introverted agent and a client is stronger than an extroverted one, it may take a while to get there and some clients or managers may perceive the introverted REALTOR® to be cold at first, when they are just warming up.

The Extrovert

Strengths

Extroverts naturally make excellent real estate agents for the reasons we all naturally imagine when we think of a good salesperson. Extroverts easily meet new people, network and make business connections. This innate talent means they can turn even the most mundane conversations into a business opportunity.

Extroverted REALTOR®s are animated and expressive. They generally draw the attention of whomever they speak to, and their enthusiasm easily rubs off onto others.

Because of their high-energy, extroverted real estate agents are able to more quickly adapt to the daily demand of work, and are best at generating new leads or clients into their office.

Weaknesses

Extroverts are great conversation starters, but they can often struggle on the details of the purchasing or selling process. It may be also harder to keep them on track of tasks in the office as they can be easily distracted by friendly faces or extraneous conversation.

Another potential weakness that can be found in an extroverted REALTOR® is their reluctance to push through a timeline or deal. Because they are so focused on light, friendly and happy conversations, they might not want to bargain too hard to sell their client’s home at a lower price than what they had hoped for. A great way to correct this as a manager is to always ensure your extroverted real estate agents are kept focused on their goals at all times and that they don’t get too caught up in the social aspect of their work.

Both extroverts and introverts make great sales people. And both work really well together by balancing their strengths and weaknesses. An extrovert can generate a lot of leads and provide a lot of options for introverts to seal the deal. And when an introvert gets flustered or comes across distant, an extrovert can save the day. But if an extrovert feels like they can’t get the price of the home aligned with their client, perhaps an introvert is what you are looking for to make everyone happy. No one is fully on one side of the spectrum or the other, but it’s important to know that both skills are incredibly important to being a good real estate agent. Which do you think you are?

The Pros and Cons of Co-Housing

January 30, 2019
Some people love their friends so much that instead of settling down with a partner, or trying to find a place they can afford all by themselves, they choose to co-house. More and more, we are seeing that it isn’t just university students or recent graduates that choose to co-house, but that older adults and even seniors are choosing this new housing style. If you are curious to learn more about this housing lifestyle, here are some of the pros and cons of co-housing.

 

Pros

  • Co-housing undeniably creates a sense of community within the home. There are shared spaces such as the kitchen, the living room, the laundry room, and often the bathroom. In these spaces, residents can foster their social network, encourage one another, and check in on one another in a way that does not feel overbearing. But when you’ve felt that you’ve had enough social stimulation, you can retreat to your own personal space such as your bedroom whenever you like.

  • When living as a group, or even a pair, you are inevitably lowering your monthly costs. You can now afford to live in a better area with a better home, along with the people you choose to live with in the same dwelling.

  • Another important advantage to co-housing is the splitting of home responsibilities. If you were to live by yourself, you would be in charge of all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, etc. But when you live with at least one more person, that responsibility gets cut in at least half. You may only have to make dinner once or twice a week!

  • Cost-wise, co-housing can be a huge advantage for the elderly. As special accessibility equipment such as ramps can be costly, having everyone pitch in and have one for the whole house can make a huge ease on one’s bank account.

 

Cons

  • For some, having the space to retreat into your bedroom is the perfect respite from the communal atmosphere that exists throughout the bulk of the home. But for others, it is a difficult adjustment to know that your privacy and personal space is significantly restricted to just that space. Be prepared and try out this life style before permanently switching to it.

  • Conflict. It is a universal truth that whenever two or more people live together a conflict will arise. It may be big or small, but you need to be prepared for this eventuality and how to deal with it. Have a plan for how your group will communicate, hold each other accountable and make decisions.

  • Selling the home can be difficult. Living alone, you can choose to pack up your belongings and move whenever you so choose. But when living with 2, 3, 4 and even 5 other people, you suddenly need all of their approval. And that can take time and patience.

  • When co-housing, you will never have complete responsibility over your home’s finances. While this can seem to be a relief when it comes to daily chores, it can be a struggle when one person in the house uses significantly more electricity or hot water than everyone else. Or it may be the case that only one person uses the swimming pool, but nobody else does, yet everyone has to pay for it. Coming to an arrangement with your housemates can hopefully alleviate this issue, however.

 

Isolation is sweeping the nation, and unfortunately it is coming at the cost of many people’s mental health. More than 2 million American seniors suffer from depression, many of which are suffering depression due to a lack of close family ties or a connection to their community. When someone, regardless of their age feels that they provide no value to their community, they can very quickly spiral into a mental malaise. Co-housing is a serious option many who are suffering from isolation or depression should consider to help in their healing. Co-housing may not be for everyone, but it can be perfect for young families learning how to take care of their first child, for the elderly who are retired and do not live close to friends or family, or for new immigrants looking to establish their own community. Co-housing offers something for everyone – do you think it could be right for you?

How To Manage Renovation Costs

January 23, 2019
Renovating your home can significantly increase its property value – but they can also quickly outweigh any financial gain you put into it. So in order to get the most bang for your buck, follow this plan on how to manage your renovation costs.

Soft Cost Planning25-30% Of Your Budget

Soft costs encompass all the necessary planning that comes with renovations. This could be hiring an engineering firm, surveyor, or contractor to work on your home. They will have all sorts of fees such as permit costs and planning proposals that might need to be submitted to your municipality in order for the renovations to go through. It can also include the cost of hiring an interior designer.

Hard Cost Planning70-75% Of Your Budget

This category includes all of the things related to the physical items in the renovations such as labour and material costs.

Contingency Fund10-15% On TOP Of Your Budget

This is a critical thing to prepare for, as many people underestimate its consequences or forget it entirely. You will never know precisely when delays or hidden troubles can arise. But it is always better to be prepared for these events so that you are not stuck dipping into savings or money you don’t have.

Miscellaneous Cost Planning

There are some funds that are essential yet extraneous to renovations. That is to say, your life may change as a result of your renovation. You may need to temporarily move out of your home for the renovations to be quickly and efficiently completed.

Alternatively, you may need to store furniture or other household goods while your home is being renovated. And while some homes have the space to temporarily store these things in a basement or spare room, others do not. You will also need to factor in where to put your belongings if the occasion arises, and how much it might cost to store at a self-storage facility.

Look For Grants And Rebates

A great way to manage renovation costs is to look for government grants and rebates that come with home remodelling. You can save money on adding solar power to your home, adding energy saving appliances, upgrading your hoe’s heating, recycling inefficient equipment and appliances and so much more. For more detailed information check out this government website.

Spend Your Money Wisely
This may seem like a no-brainer, but think carefully of how you pay for your home renovations. Under no circumstances should you rely upon a credit card to remodel your home. You inevitably run the risk of adding costs to your renovation if interest rates rise. Rather, use a home equity line of credit. This will have a lower interest, usually prime plus or minus a percentage.

Home renovations can be both exciting and daunting at the same time. But if you come up with an iron clad financial plan, you should be prepared for most hiccups and unexpected surprises. Good luck with your home renovations, and may you love your home more after your remodelling is done!

Exciting Upcoming Condos in Toronto

January 16, 2019
The Toronto condo market is enjoying a huge burst of demand – and Toronto is doing its best to meet the supply! If you are interested in landing one of the hottest and most coveted properties in the city, keep your eyes peeled for these new builds coming your way.

Auberge II On The Park

If you are looking just north of midtown Toronto, you will want to have a look at the corner of Eglinton and Leslie for the second phase of Auberge On The Park. The 29 storey building is going to overlook the 13.3 hectare Flemingdon Park. Click the link above to see if one of their 215 suites ranging from 1069 – 2177 square feet is right for you. Occupancies are anticipated for summer 2022 with prices ranging between the $800k - $1.975 million dollar mark.

Midtowns

Another gem that can’t be missed near Lawrence Avenue West is Midtowns. Midtowns will offer two and three-storey condo units ranging between $539k - $759k. Occupancy is predicted to take place between the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.

DuEast Boutique

If you are looking to have a new property but you don’t want to wait a few years to enjoy it, look no further than DuEast Boutique. First occupancies are scheduled for mid-2019. This 11-storey tower with 119 units ranging from 466 – 1218 square feet in Regent Park can be yours for as low as the mid $300s!

WEST Condos

An ambitious project for the heart of Toronto, this building will mix a restoration of a historic warehouse with the construction of two towers that will seamlessly blend into one amazing contemporary design that respects the history of the neighbourhood. Condo prices will start from the mid $400s and the expected occupancy date is 2020.

The Prestige Condos

If lake views are what you are after, you need to seriously consider moving into this beautiful 65 storey tower. It will feature retail space, a state-of-the-art community centre, and an underground connection to the PATH system. With prices starting in the low $600s and an occupancy date of 2022 – what more could you ask for?

Panda Condos

This treasure of a building hopes to be as historic as its predecessor – as Panda Condos will sit on the former site of the World’s Biggest Bookstore. The plan for this 30 storey mixed-use building will contain 555 residential units, 6000 square feet of retail space, designated office space, as well as a plethora of amenities (think an outdoor sports court, a gym and yoga studio, a theatre, outdoor terrace and more!). Prices start in the low $400s and occupancy is expected to begin in 2021.

The condo market is blooming every day in Toronto, becoming easily one of the most sought-after places to live – not just in Ontario, but all of Canada. Just imagine blending yourself into an unchartered world. Never before has an opportunity to live so close to the downtown core been at your feet. You will be a pioneer in the ultimate urban lifestyle.

Key Design Tips for Your Real Estate Website

January 9, 2019
If you aren’t investing in your real estate website, you aren’t investing in your career as a REALTOR®. More than 92% of all property transactions include online searches. Homebuyers and sellers alike are looking for quality resources. If real estate agents are a dime a dozen, you need to find a way to make your site stand out. Showing how knowledgeable you are and using first rate marketing tactics can create an outstanding user experience that will not only drive more traffic to your site, but hopefully more sales!

Here is a list of five tips you should incorporate into your site that can boost your online presence.

Do NOT Use Pop-Ups

It may be incredibly tempting to have a pop-up ad or a sign-up banner on your website. You may think that before they can even view the content on your site you can get them hooked onto your newsletter. But how many times have you ever done that on a retail store’s site? Chances are, if it would annoy you as a customer, it will definitely annoy others. Let your site sell itself. When they are ready to learn more, they will know where to go to contact you or subscribe for more information. Give your customers a chance to navigate the site before bombarding them.

Balance Is Key

One way of showing how knowledgeable you are as a real estate agent is to inundate your page with information. You can do this with videos, images, text, audio clips and countless other ideas. But the more you clog up a page, the more you can deter a potential client. Not only will it be overwhelming to the eye, but it can also affect how quickly your page loads. If your page takes more than 5 seconds to load, visitors are more likely to exit out of the page entirely than wait for it to load. Make sure that your site can handle heavy online traffic, that it can handle the load of multiple browsers, and that it has just the right amount of information to appeal to customers without slowing their visual experience.

Blogs and Guides

Finding the right information about house-hunting can be tough. Many of the biggest blogs are chock-full of advertisements, how will a customer know what is right for them in their neighbourhood? By constantly updating and offering reliable information through weekly blogs or guides, you can demonstrate your knowledge in a significant and impactful way to your clients. Most of the questions a client will pose, you will have the answers for. Why not post a blog about home inspections, home renovations, how to save for a home, or other real estate related ideas. You can even include common phrases you have seen on the internet to improve your presence on search engines. This is what is known as search engine optimisation.

Education

In addition to your blogs and guides, an excellent tab or tool to have on your website is a quick but well-explained encyclopaedia of important real estate terms that they may have heard before, but never really understood. While you know the ins and outs of condo status certificates, they might not, and it can save time and effort for everyone involved if they had an easy and simple way to look up this information before the question even arises.

Strategically Placed Links

You don’t want to be annoying, but you always want to be visible and easily contactable. On the very front of your page, perhaps even the top you should have links to all your social media as well as phone numbers, emails, and even a link to an online contact form. Also on every page, include a link at a natural end point that allows them to contact you. For example, they could be reading the description of a property and they might really like it. Instead of thinking to scroll up and look for the contact button, there could be one at the bottom of every one of your property descriptions.

We know these tips are general, but we hope they provide you a meaningful start to improving your real estate website. How you advertise yourself says a lot about how you appear to others. We hope you provide the best user experience possible for your customers, and wish you many new successful sales in the new year!

What To Do When You Hit A Sales Slump

January 2, 2019

It’s happened to every single REALTOR®. From the best of the best to the rookies – at one point, often in the beginning of the year, you hit a sales slump. That pressure is especially hard on real estate agents as their bread and butter is built off how many sales they make. The important thing to remember about slumps is that they don’t last. You will have your bad days and you will move past them. To help you get back onto your feet, try to remember the following things:

Review Your Goals

It may be a hard lesson to learn, but just because something was working great for you in the past does not guarantee that it will work for you in the future. Marketing techniques change all the time, and we often have to adapt with them. Have a look at your goals regularly. Some agents do it once a month, others once a year. Find what works for you and always check in on what is working and what hasn’t been. You might need to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch – but that’s okay! At least you will have caught your problem and worked to fix it rather than suffer longer than you needed to in your slump.

Get Back To Basics

Once you’ve reviewed your goals, it’s important to re-learn the basics. If one of the greatest golf players of all time, Tiger Woods, consistently practices his putts, so, too, can you practice your basic skills.

Problems in sales aren’t usually caused by something complicated. It’s usually because something is done slightly wrong. When you get back to the basics you are able to take the corrective action that is necessary to get you out of your sales slump.

Improve Your Efficiency

Make a list of thing things that you could do better. Sometimes, they can be easily achieved by working a little bit harder, or even smarter. Commit to your list until you are out of your bad spell so that you are always marking some progress day by day.

Coaching

Coaching can go two ways. One way takes a lot of personal courage which is to video tape or audio record your presentations and calls. You really need to be honest with yourself and think whether you would buy based on your pitches.

Another way is to find a mentor or hire a coach will watch you while you work or network. Make sure that the person you pick will also be honest with you. You won’t grow as a person if your friend is consistently telling you you’re great when your bank book says otherwise.

 

Surround Yourself With Inspiration

If your workmates or your friends are consistently complaining, or how they only get the short end of the stick, or how they’ve only slept a few hours last night, this will invariably dampen your mood. They will suck the life out of you and you will eventually lose your ambition. We, as humans, are the combination of the six most important people in our lives. If at least one of those people is a negative person, that will rub off and can dampen your sails. Find people who inspire you, challenge you, and support you through good and bad.

Change Your Environment

Changing your environment doesn’t have to be a big scary thing of moving offices across town. It totally can be and maybe that is exactly what you need to do. But it could also mean your current office space isn’t working for you in a specific way. Maybe you need to de-clutter, maybe you need to rearrange your office furniture or buy some extra storage cabinets.

Changing your environment can also mean taking a day off! If you spend more than 5 days a week in the office you need to recharge your batteries somehow. Focus on your own self-development by reading a book in a coffee shop or taking a hike. Remember to have a life outside your work as this could be the reason you are in a slump.

Treat Yourself

Usually when we are at our lowest, we feel that we don’t deserve anything. But that is exactly when you should treat yourself to one thing. Maybe it’s a day at the spa, or buying a really expensive suit. Make sure it is fancy, a little out of your budget, and only one thing. Make this your motivation. Sometimes that fancy new suit or those worked out kinks from the massage will give you the boost of confidence you need to make those sales.

Please remember that if you are in a slump, that this does not define you. Like all economic cycles there are booms and busts. As long as you know what motivates you and stay disciplined, you can work yourself out of any slump that comes your way. You can do this!

How to Hire a Home Inspector

December 19, 2018

A home inspection is the most crucial step to purchasing a home. Your client may fall in love with a property only to find out that the foundation is crumbling, the house is shifting and goodness knows what else. Or worse, your client may have an inspection from an inspector who gives the green light on a house that after a year starts falling apart, just as Dixie Marchuk did. So how can you ensure that your client gets the best inspector?

Training

In Ontario, home inspectors are unregulated. You will find a variety of home inspectors with a variety of backgrounds. Some will have entered their positions without a long background in building trades. While it is not fair to outright discount those who took all of the courses to become a home inspector, it is worth appreciating those who have been a plumber or electrician for a number of years before changing professions.

Industry Associations

Seeing that your home inspector belongs to a national, provincial or regional industry association is a great sign to their credibility. It shows that they are interested in staying current and are regularly learning new skills. To add further reassurance, some industry associations will not let members advertise that they are a part of the industry association until they have met a set of standards. Just remember, do not get blinded by their certification. Just because they have one does not necessarily mean they are good – not all industry associations are alike.

Licence

As of 2018, Ontario home inspectors require licences. Make sure that the home inspector you are looking to hire has one.

Interview and References

You should never hire anyone without an interview. During the interview you will learn the inspector’s personality and whether or not you will feel comfortably relying on this person to walk through your dream house. You can ask for references as well to ensure that your inspector isn’t all talk.

Insurance

When interviewing the home inspector, make sure to ask them if they carry errors or omissions insurance. While this insurance is not mandatory for most provinces, and many qualified inspectors might not carry it, it is nice to see if they do. It’s an extra assurance that if something goes wrong, you will be covered.

 

Working Together

While most of the information above is difficult to navigate as they are sufficient to make a good inspector but not necessary, here is an easy red flag to watch out for. If the home inspector you are interviewing does not offer for you to observe the process with them that is a major red flag. Do not accept being told to just sit in the kitchen and wait for them to be done. A home inspector’s main job is to educate someone about their home. The best way to do this is to have them tag along for the experience.

At the end of the day, you can look at your agents’ referral, you can even look at your friends’ referrals. But you must pick someone who feels right for you, not just because someone else offered you a good deal or you hope they will give you the answer you are looking for. You have to find someone who is willing to tell you your dream home is not fit to move into. You need someone who will really look out for you and your best interests. We hope this helps you in your process of hiring a home inspector!

 

 

How To Prepare For A Fixer Upper

December 13, 2018
There are some of us who just don’t want or like what others already have. We have a vision, and often that vision can only come to fruition if we build it ourselves. Fixer Uppers can be a great way of getting the perfect bones of a home on a budget so you can spend your money building the home of your dreams exactly as you want it. But be warned! Buying a fixer upper is different than buying a turnkey home. You’ll need to prepare your mindset and budget accordingly. Here’s our breakdown of the situation:

Make A List of “Wants” and “Needs”

Though it begrudges everyone to say it, when fixing up a home, functionality must take priority over aesthetics. Before going ahead with designing the blueprint of your dreams, determine which infrastructure repairs are essential, and which upgrades are also absolutely necessary. Once these are completed you can then focus on beautifying projects like bathrooms and kitchens. And again, while it may seem counter-intuitive, hold off on upgrading appliances until the first two (especially the first) has been taken care of. A leaky roof can be quite costly to fix, and often, unexpected.

Affordable Vs Expensive Fixes

To get an idea of what is an easy, affordable fix versus what is an expensive fix here is a quick list. Easy fixes include stripping wallpaper, painting, refinishing floors, installing light fixtures and ceiling fans, fixing broken windows, replaced baseboards, replacing doors, adding a deck, and painting the exterior of the home. Expensive fixes tend to be replacing the HVAC system, shoring up foundations, reroofing, replacing plumbing and electrical services, resurfacing driveways and sidewalks and front steps, complete kitchen and bath remodels, and building garages or additions to homes.

Buying Used and DIY

To get as much bang for your buck when preparing for a fixer upper, be prepared to consider purchasing used over new. You can see significant decreases in price on used appliances that are in fantastic condition from other remodels. Furniture is also a great thing to buy used – tables can be easily re-varnished, vintage chairs can also be easily reupholstered. They can look brand new for a fraction of the cost of new! And by doing these fixes yourself, you can save yourself the labour fee of paying a professional to do what you can do.

Deciding Whether To Live Or Not Live In Your Fixer Upper

Some people prefer to do everything at once, and ideally as quickly as possible. This way you can get your home as messy as it needs to be when you are gutting it. However, when fully gutting your home, you will need to live somewhere else, which can tap into finances that you may have not planned for. If you do plan on renovating as much as you can as quickly as you can, set up a monthly budget of how much you want to spend renting another place and how long are you going to be living there. Things can add up quickly when owning a home as well as renting another whilst renovating the fixer upper. If you do plan on living in your fixer upper as you fix it, consider doing one room at a time so that the house maintains its livability and does not overwhelm those who live in it.

Living in a fixer upper will come with a roller coaster of emotions. In the beginning you will be rearing to go, and towards the middle you will feel easily overwhelmed. But in the end I promise you will feel like it was one of the best decisions you have ever made. Make a plan, stick to it, and reap the rewards!

 

Buy First or Sell First?

December 5, 2018

Moving on up in the property ladder is an exciting new path for anyone. Except when it means deciding whether you should buy first or sell first! There are so many things to consider: down payments, money set aside for financing, a home inspection, even storage. And while people may think there is a definite right answer, most REALTOR®s will say that deciding whether to buy or sell first often falls down on the city you live in, the house you have, and sometimes, even your own personality. In order to make sure you are helping your client to make the best possible decision, here are some important pros and cons to share with them.

Buying First

Buying first can be a very enjoyable way to start the home transition process. There is no looming date for closing on your existing home so you can spend as much time as you need finding your ideal place to live. Furthermore, you can rest easy that should you find a place you want to put an offer on, you still have time to find somewhere else if your offer is unsuccessful.

The downside to buying first is that should you find your dream home and purchase it, but your current home has not been sold yet, you might be stuck owning two properties at once (and potentially two mortgages!) In addition to mortgages, it must also be considered that the costs of owning a home are not solely tied to mortgages, but also to maintenance.

If you are keen on buying first, there is a possibility to save yourself from owning two homes at once. When making an offer on your next home, protect yourself by making the offer conditional on the sale of your current home. This way, if you cannot sell your home within a specified period of time, you can back out of the transaction scot-free. However, it should be noted that this kind of offer may appear less attractive to sellers, especially if their property is located in a hot market.

Selling First

In addition to saving yourself from owning two homes at once, one of the biggest benefits to selling first is that you will know precisely how much money you can play with when purchasing your next home.

Selling first isn’t all pros, however. The disadvantage with selling first is that you will be racing against the clock to find the perfect home for you to move in before your closing date comes up. If you don’t find a home within that time period, you risk renting until you do, buying a home that isn’t ideal for you, or paying more than you should have because the process was so rushed.

But just as there was a contingency plan with buying first, so, too, is there with selling first! One option of saving yourself the hassle is having a back-up home plan. This could mean moving in temporarily with friends or family until you’ve found your dream home. Alternatively, you could consider a short term rental until your purchase goes through.

There is no easy way to make the decision of whether you should buy first or sell first. All you should know is that you must make the decision that is right for you. Ensuring a conversation with your REALTOR® is one of the best ways to understand your market and what would be better in this instance. They can discuss several realistic scenarios and expectations given your choices and ideas. Good Luck!

Renovate Before You Sell?

November 28, 2018

Your home may look good to you, but is it good enough to sell? That’s a tough question to answer. An even tougher question is if you are looking to make your home more palatable to potential homebuyers, is it better to renovate before you sell? The answer, believe it or not, is not always yes. Because there are some things buyers like, and some that they are willing to pay more for. So how do you know which renovations will pay out? Lucky for you, we have all the answers!

RENOVATIONS TO DO

General Repairs

This is an incredibly important renovation to do. While it may not necessarily get you more money, not renovating things that require general renovation work can and often will result in you lowering your selling price in order to sell your home. The reason for this is that when a homebuyer sees a broken item or a cracked floor tile, they might worry that there is a lot more to do than what just meets the eye.

Painting

This is one of the easiest and most affordable things you can do to spruce up your home’s value. Painting your home in light, neutral colours such as off-white, beige or grey will turn your home into a blank canvas in which homeowners can easily envision themselves in. Even if you don’t feel like your painting skills aren’t up to snuff, hiring professionals is also fairly affordable.

Decluttering and Professional Cleaning

Less is always more. Taking away the many knickknacks in a home and letting a homebuyer to see what they could do the space will speak volumes. Especially when it’s sparkling clean from top to toe.

GAMBLE RENOVATIONS

Kitchen and Bathroom Overhauls

These renovations are tricky. Because while everyone wants a fancy new kitchen or bathroom, their tastes might not match yours. So you may make your kitchen or bathroom farmhouse chic, but actually the homebuyer that was most interested in your house wanted a mid-century Italian look. If you insist on doing kitchen or bathroom renovations, do cosmetic upgrades such as an updated tap or a backsplash. Avoid redoing your counters or cabinets.

Re-Landscaping

Curb appeal is very strong attractor to potential homebuyers. If you’ve got a gorgeous front and back yard they will melt away and want your home. However, if the landscaping is intensive and high-maintenance many will shy away from your home as gardening is known to be sweaty, backbreaking work. Speak with a gardening expert at your local hardware store or a landscape artist if you really need to change the landscape of your home and see how you can do this in the most beautiful, affordable and low maintenance way possible.

RENOVATIONS TO AVOID

Swimming Pools

This is due to very similar reasoning as what was mentioning in re-landscaping. Pools can be very high-maintenance and are quite costly to install. Many view pools as a safety risk, so if your home doesn’t already have a pool, do not look to invest in one!

Specific Function Rooms

The trend throughout this article can also be seen in this section as well. Built-in bars, home theatres, garage mahals, these are all to very specific tastes. Even if done tastefully and well, it will not apply and appeal to every potential homebuyer that walks into your home. When selling a home you want to cast as wide of a net as possible, and creating a specific function room cannot guarantee you the highest offer on your home.

When it comes to home renovations before you sell, you definitely should consider some of them! Just remember, that this is the time to play it safe. When you have your own new home, we encourage you to be as daring as you like. But in order to sell your home for the price you want, try to envision what the average homebuyer might like. You can always ask your real estate agent for tips and tricks as they’ll know what will sell really well. Good luck!

 

Open House Safety

November 21, 2018
Most people see open houses as a great tactic to use when selling a home. But as a real estate agent, you could open yourself up to a lot of security issues when showing a home. With a house so readily accessible, it can leave you and the home open to robbery or violence. To make sure each and every one of your open houses run smoothly and successfully, here are some sure-fire tips to do next time you have an open house.

Partner Up

Whether it is finding a trustworthy colleague or hiring a security guard, there is no denying that there is strength in numbers. The security guard could be dressed in plain clothes to make it seem as if they are simply helping you out with the process. The bigger the house, the more helpful it will be to have more than one pair of eyes looking over a home.

Use Security Cameras

If finding a partner is difficult, or you simply want to maintain the highest level of protection possible, consider installing smart home cameras that link to your phone. If other REALTOR®s can catch an open house robbery on tape, so can you!

Put Away Valuables

It’s better to be safe than sorry. To avoid tempting a stranger from taking something that is very valuable to a homeowner, ask the homeowner to remove any portable and in plain sight valuables (cash, prescription drugs, jewels, wine, electronics and heirlooms) and put them in a safety deposit box during the open house. Make sure your homeowner knows that even if something is not directly in plain sight, the top drawer is also a go-to spot for thieves. So any bills, checks, IDs, and bank statements should not be stored there either. Identity theft is unfortunately very prevalent and can leave lasting damages.

Limit Access To The Home

One way to show potential homebuyers the allure of a home is to demonstrate all of the potential entrances and exits of a home. However, when it comes to an open house, having a single entry point is the safest thing to do. Make sure every other window and door is locked in the home so you can feel confident that if someone entered the home it could have only been from the place you are expecting.

Entry Conditions

To have an added layer of security in addition to a single entry way into the home, you can have your colleague, security guard, or even a trusted neighbour or friend to stand by the door to greet everyone. This greeter can ask for photo ID to gain entry. If you place a handsome sign in the front of the home that is impossible to miss, the greeter will not throw off visitors. And for those who do not have photo ID with them, you can choose based on your own discretion whether or not they should enter (don’t just assume that the bigger someone is the scarier they are!). If you do let someone in without showing ID, make sure to never be alone with this person in a room.

Having an open house can open many doors, just make sure those doors are figurative rather than literal!

Why Real Estate Commissions Vary

November 14, 2018

Homebuyers and sellers alike are constantly confused by the variation in commission prices from real estate agents. It’s pretty easy to want to get the cheapest possible commission, because you want as much money from the sale of your home as possible. We’re going to break it down for everyone directly related to the house hunting process so you understand why commissions vary and how it looks for both buyers and sellers.

Commission Payment Structure

Oftentimes, you will see that a REALTOR® charges their commission as a percentage of the sales price of the home. But it can also be a fixed dollar amount or a combination of the two.

Generally, this price is paid by the seller as it includes the agreed upon commission for the listing agent and can include a portion to be given to the brokerage representing the buyer. Remember that real estate commission is subject to HST, so do the math before agreeing!

Buyers also can pay their real estate agent or broker when and if they sign a Buyer Representation Agreement. However, be aware that if the commission listed in the BRA is greater than what was already agreed upon by the listing agent to give to the buying agent, you might be on the hook to pay the difference.

You Get What You Pay For

I know many are hesitant to believe this, but when negotiating (yes, you can ALWAYS negotiate the commission of a real estate agent!) the commission rate of your real estate agent you need to know what comes with that negotiation.

Some sellers prefer to offer a lower rate of commission and take on a higher number of properties at once so that their pay is stable – but with many properties to represent comes less one-on-one attention. If you live in a neighbourhood where properties are selling like hot cakes, this could be a great option for you. However, if your home is in a quieter neighbourhood or is being sold due to a family break up it might help to have a real estate agent who will do more for your home. They can make a YouTube video of a tour of your home, they can list it on social media platforms, make a VR tour of your home – the possibilities of marketing your home are endless.

Have a genuine and sincere conversation with any and all real estate agents you are currently speaking to in order to understand what your and their expectations are for the rate of commission under negotiation. At the end of the day, you want to find somebody with whom you are on the same page. If you get along and trust in one another, you will be less likely to feel scammed.

Sit down and figure out how hot your neighbourhood is, what are the comparable prices, and how your home stacks up compared to those for sale. This should give you a good idea of what kind of marketing services you might need from your real estate agent. Once you have this down, talk to a few and figure out which most aligns with your needs and negotiate from there. Good luck!

Deposits 101

November 7, 2018
House hunters who are looking to enter the property ladder for the first time are a delightful bunch. They are excited to go to every viewing and cannot wait to find the home of their dreams. However, being the property virgins they are, they might not know much about deposits and how it relates to their house hunting process. Here is an easy way to break down deposits to them and hopefully cover every query they might have about them.

What Is A Deposit?

A deposit serves two purposes. The first is that a deposit provides security to a seller contractually speaking. By putting money into an agreement, the seller feels secure that if the buyer walks away they have something to lose. The second reason is that if there are any breaches in the contract on behalf of the buyer, the deposit essentially works as a pre-estimated amount of damages that can be awarded to the seller.

How Are Deposits Paid?

In the Province of Ontario, deposits are usually paid by money order or certified cheque.

How Much Should A Deposit Be?

You will hear in all corners of the internet different percentages that people say are what you should pay for deposit. However, there is no fixed amount of deposit required by law. The amount is usually negotiated between the buyer and the seller, and it is usually done so using local customs. In Toronto, the lowest generally accepted amount for a deposit is 5% of the asking price of the property. Truthfully speaking, the higher the deposit, the more attractive the offer will be to the seller. There have been many instances where sellers will accept a lower price for a higher deposit.

When Is A Deposit Due?

In a standard wording of an Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) (double check that yours is standard with a real estate lawyer – it might not be!) you have 24 hours to pay the deposit. Note that this does not mean one business day! So if you make an offer on a Saturday, the deposit is due on a Sunday. A deposit must be liquid for this very reason. To be the most attractive buyer, provide the certified deposit at the same time as an offer.

If a deposit is late, you will be in breach of the agreement and the Seller has no obligation to keep the deal. Don’t take the risk!

Where Is A Deposit Held?

Deposits are normally held by the listing brokerage in something called a trust account. Trust accounts are highly regulated and routinely audited temporary accounts that hold money until a transfer is complete. It does not go into the direct hands of the brokerage or the seller until it leaves the trust account.

Is My Deposit Insured?

It is up to $100 000. If you wish to put more than $100 000 deposit than you may be asked to provide two deposits to reduce risk.

What Happens To My Deposit At Closing?

Upon closing, the deposit is applied to the Buyer’s closing costs and forms part of the purchase price at closing. That is to say, if a house is sold for $500 000 and you put down a $40 000 deposit, any additional down payment and the mortgage money from the lender (less the expenses and adjustments) would be given to the seller.

Deposits can get tricky, and by no means is the above an exhaustive definition of deposits! This information should not be taken as solid legal advice, so if you have any specific questions further to this introduction on deposits, please refer all homebuyers to real estate lawyers. Happy house hunting!

5 Tips Before You Move

October 31, 2018

Put simply: moving house is stressful. You never fully appreciate how many things you have until you have to put it all into boxes…and then into a moving van…and then unpack them and somehow make them fit in your new place. It is exhausting to say the least. And while we cannot take that pain away fully, we can lighten your load with some lifesaving tips we wish we knew before we did any big moves ourselves!

Pack An Overnight Bag

After a busy day loading things and unloading things and getting them into the right rooms, you will be too tired to sit down and start unpacking. But you will want your bare essentials and instead of packing those into a big box that you forgot to label, why not pack an overnight bag? Put a change of clothes (especially if you’re going to work the next day), your laptop, toiletries and anything you think could get stolen during a move.

Pack Essentials in a Clear Plastic Bin

After your first night being saved by an overnight bag, you will need essentials. What are these essentials? Well, they are things we often take for granted. Garbage bags, paper towels, eating utensils, phone chargers, power strips, box cutters – and don’t you wish you didn’t have to spend all day searching boxes that were or weren’t labelled? Problem solved. Go to your local big box store and pick up a couple clear bins and put your important stuff in them. The best part? Once you’re done those boxes will come in handy for storage in the house so really you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Take A Picture Behind Your Electronics

This may sound silly but hear us out. Go find your TV, your computer, your game console and turn it around. How many times do you see those wires and appreciate where each cable goes? While some may only need a cable or two, having a picture of what it looked like will save you time and frustration setting it back up again.

Make Your Last Grocery Trip Two Weeks Before Moving

You hopefully have become used to having a pristine home during viewings, which often meant light if any cooking at all in your home. You might as well stay in that habit until you move out with your last shopping trip two weeks before the big move. You’d be surprised how long food can stay in the fridge and in between packing and changing addresses on everything you might not have as much time to cook so meal prepping will be your best friend during this time.

If You Have Kids Or Pets Hire A Sitter

Sometimes kids are great and can help with moving. However, if they’re under 7 or are as helpful as a hamster, it’s best to find a sitter to keep them company and psych them up for the big move. That way you can focus on getting as much done as possible without constant interruptions or slow-downs.

We hope these suggestions are new and helpful and make a big difference in your stress levels during your move! Congrats on your new home, we know you’ll love it.

REALTOR®’s Approaching People With Buyers For Their Property

October 25, 2018
A situation may happen where a client approaches you desperately in love with a house that is not currently on the market. They may ask you to contact the homeowner so that negotiations begin. This situation can turn tricky very easily as the homeowner is not represented yet and you have a very eager client. Here is an outline of how to be as fair and respectful to everyone as possible.

What To Do With Your Client

If your client is very serious about making an offer on a property not currently listed for sale, it is best to advise your client to get a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter from the bank if it is not a cash transaction.

It is also in the best interest of the client to prepare them for the event that the current homeowner will not be interested in selling the property. A house not on the market is not easily swayed to be listed.

What To Do With The Homeowner

It is safe to say that the homeowner will not be expecting a call or a visit from you, and so will likely need time to come to a decision. Having a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter from the bank on behalf of the potential buyers will show that you are serious and respectable, but what is more important is to let them know that they should seek out a listing agent. The listing agent will be able to tell them what a comparative market analysis says about their home. If the potential buyers have offered a price outright, having this information from another realtor will arm them with better information to decide if what is offered is actually a reasonable price for their home.

It may happen that the homeowner is open to negotiation and selling their property despite not being on the market, and they may seek to hire you as you were so proactive to find them. It is important to know that the government of Ontario is considering limiting the practice of dual agency. While technically it can and does happen to represents both parties of the same transaction, it can get very messy very quickly, so the best way to protect consumers is to provide them the choice of seeking another REALTOR® in this transaction.

Another potential outcome that may arise is that the homeowner is open to negotiation but does not wish to hire a listing agent as they already have a serious, interested buyer. However, they may ask if they have to pay you commission or what the costs are surrounded selling a property without a listing agent. The ethical response is to still encourage them to hire a real estate agent because, just as it is your responsibility to get the best price for your client, it is statistically proven that people who sell their homes without a REALTOR® sell their home for less than its actual value. They may think the lower price is equivalent to how much they would have spent paying a real estate agent in commission, but that is not necessarily the case. Encourage the homeowner, if they are open to selling, to find an agent who can get the most value for their home.

We hope this solves any conundrum revolving around this situation, and that you continue to be a proactive agent!

What To Do When Clients and Realtors Don’t Get Along

October 17, 2018
While it is the ultimate goal of any REALTOR® to form a strong and positive relationship, it would be foolish to say that every agent/client relationship is perfect. If you feel that before every encounter you have to take a breath to suppress negative thoughts, or that you’ve skipped one too many of their calls, it might be time to think about changing direction. Changing direction does not necessarily mean terminating a professional relationship, so here are some things to step back and analyse in your professional relationship before deciding to call it quits.

Re-Examine How You Communicate

If it’s the number one reason couples break-up, you can be sure it’s also the number one reason clients and agents fall out as well. Communication issues can crop up in all sorts of creative and unsuspecting ways: it can be a dilemma over when a property sign should go up, how often an agent should visit the property, or why commission prices change based on what you ask an agent to do for a property. The reasons are endless, but they can be easily prevented. As an agent, your responsibility should be to determine the policy of what should be expected of you and to ensure you are always adhering to it. The crucial part of establishing this policy is to do it before the professional relationship even begins so that both parties have a very clear understanding of how the other will operate. If and when one or both parties stop adhering to this policy, that is when it might be the right time to part ways.

Cancelling Listing Agreements

If, after serious reflection you have decided that this relationship cannot be repaired, do not be afraid to cancel an agreement or contract. The best way to do this is through mutual consent, but that may not always be possible. The best way to protect both sides in this type of contract is to ensure that every contract signed between an agent and a client has a safety or protection clause. Imagine a situation where Sam Seller lists his house with Ally Agent. Betsy Buyer speaks to Sam Seller and says that if he breaks his contract with Ally Agent, she can buy the house and they can both save commission. A safety clause can protect an agent from these situations, and can also protect Sam Seller in the event that Betsy Buyer renegs on the deal.

If there is a safety or protection clause in place, and there are still issues but you feel there may be room to iron them out, you can choose to refuse to cancel the contract. You will then need to direct your client to your broker and have them formally request a cancellation through this route.

If the broker refuses (a very rare instance), they can offer an olive branch by assigning a different agent under the same brokerage to the client.

If the worst case scenario arises, make sure you know and have a solid relationship with a real estate lawyer so you can seek termination assistance. But remember to always speak to your broker first before doing so.

Cancelling A Buyer’s Agency Agreement

As an agent, the best practice you can engage is to create a Buyer’s Agency Agreement between you and your client. This will spell out the rights and duties of both the agent and the buyer and will explain in detail what should happen in the event that either party wants to terminate the contract.

If, as an agent, you would prefer a softer approach before turning to the Buyer’s Agency Agreement, consider suggesting to your client that they would be better off working with another agent who could more readily meet their needs. You can refer that client to a specific agent who you think would give them what they need in exchange for a referral fee, so that your work has not gone uncompensated.

 

It would be wonderful if every relationship between agent and client went smoothly. And many agents take the approach to avoid learning how to deal with conflict as a sign of their own confidence in their people skills. But unfortunately, it is certain that at least one professional relationship you engage in will sour, and how you handle that situation could be more representative of your reputation than all of your good professional relationships combined. Make sure you prepare for the stormy seas so that when they happen, you will sail over them as if they were as smooth as calm waters.

5 Ways The Real Estate Market Has Changed

October 10, 2018

Back in the day, if you wanted to buy or sell a property you’d pull out one of the many notepads or fridge magnets you had lying around the house and dialled the number of an advertised real estate agent. Today, through the advancement in technology there is a lot more convenience and access to information on both sides of the transaction. Here are five key ways the real estate marketplace has changed so that you may better understand how these changes may impact you in helping a client list or purchase a home.

Buyers and Sellers Have More Access to Information

There’s no going back: today’s consumer does significant research online before making a purchase, especially one that is as important as purchasing a home. They can use websites like REALTOR.ca instead of driving up and down streets looking for “For Sale” signs. Instead of starting on a foot where your client knows more about which properties they are interested in than you do, try increasing your digital marking now more than ever. While the traditional methods of knocking on doors or “Just Listed” postcards still catch people’s attention, having a strong social media presence on a variety of platforms will create trust and interest amongst potential clients. This way, the information they are getting from the internet could very well be from you and you will be their access to information!

Real Estate Professionals Are More Accessible

Remind your clients that just as they can easily get mountains of information at the drop of a hat while surfing online, they can also do the same with you. Gone are the days where an agent could only be reached during office hours. Remind them that you can be contacted by email, through any of your social media platforms, and have a cell phone number that goes directly to you so that they don’t need to jump through hoops finding the right extension to dial at your office. Letting a client know that you can provide any guidance or advice they need to get a quick response will reassure them that you are dedicated to them.

Commerce is Conducted Electronically

A client may easily feel daunted with how long paperwork takes, and they might not have the time to drive to and from banks and properties to sign what they need to sign. To make the purchasing or selling process as smooth as possible, ensure that most of your commerce is done electronically. Contracts can be signed with electronic signatures, money can be transferred electronically and offers can be submitted via email. This makes your life faster and easier, but most importantly, it takes a significant load off your client’s mind.

Real Estate Professionals Can Offer Specialised Service

Because so much information is now available online for people interested in buying and selling property there isn’t much room to be just a general real estate agent. That may have worked twenty years ago when people were just looking for somebody local, but nowadays you can build an online presence that meets the needs of your clients. Many clients are looking for a lifestyle in addition to a wonderful home or investment opportunity. You can specialise in specific neighbourhoods, demographics, and you will need to constantly be doing research on local amenities and what stores or restaurants are trending in that area. Others will want to know about up-and-coming neighbourhoods that fit their budget, so you can specialise in that service instead. There are plenty of ways to be a client’s go-to guru, find what works for you and lean into that!

Rising List Prices

We are living in a healthy and happy economic period. This means that prices are increasing constantly on Toronto properties. Be prepared for multiple offers and tough competition – but more importantly, teach your client to be prepared for these instances. Toronto’s real estate market is usually high in demand and low in inventory, so remember what your client’s requirements are and make sure that you always respect that when selling their property or finding the right property for them.

We hope these tips not only let you get a sense of how the market has changed, but how you can change with the market. There’s plenty of opportunity out there for you to make a big name for yourself.

 

Elderly Canadians Prefer to Live in Their Cottages

October 3, 2018
Step aside cramped and expensive retirement residences that are dotted around the GTA, Toronto’s elderly want a different locale altogether when they retire. Recreational real estate in June of this year saw a 13% year-over-year increase. It is very interesting to note that the recreational real estates that Canada’s retirees look to live in are not just small, tucked away properties (though those have also gained popularity). The increase in all types of recreational property has gone up for this demographic which includes waterfront properties, water access properties and ski-in properties. It is also important to note that distance is not a significant factor in these purchases as 68% of surveyors said they would be willing to travel up to two hours for their purchase, 31% said they would travel for two hours and 28% they would travel three or more hours for the perfect cottage.

As many baby boomers already own cottages it is a natural step for them to downsize and retire in something comfortable that they’ve known for a good chunk of their lives. And if they are moving down there, why not their friends, too?

But baby boomers aren’t just buying cottages to retire in them, many still want to have a solid income post retirement and what better way to do that than by cashing in on a property that is relatively affordable, renovate it and rent it out throughout the year?

Research shows that pensioners are creative when buying these cottages. Some already own them and will move straight in as already mentioned, others are refinancing their urban home so they can move into the country side, others still are taking some equity out of their urban home to buy a nice slice of life along the lake, some are pooling funds together with friends and families to live in a shared recreational property, and finally there are those who are just looking to sell their urban home altogether and move into some peace and quiet.

Please remember that baby boomers make up the largest portion of Canada’s population, so when a trend begins among them it will have extremely pervasive effects. Last year 55% of retirees packed up their things and moved to recreational properties. This year, 91% of activity that happened in recreational properties is due to baby boomers.

For many, retiring in an idyllic Canadian cottage is living the “Canadian Dream”. So if you are looking to expand your horizons and become a niche REALTOR®, it might be worth your while to branch out and investigate recreational properties that would suit the needs and lifestyles of Toronto’s retiring generation. Speak to your clientele and ask them what their plans are for retiring, and ask them if they have thought of a cottage somewhere up north or out west, and if they would prefer that to renting a spot in a cramped retirement residence. That investment may appeal to them as they can pass the recreational property onto their family for generations of enjoyment!

Why You Should Work With A Real Estate Professional

September 26, 2018

It’s very easy for a potential client to surf through the internet and come upon a mountain of information about the real estate market. They may even think to themselves, “why should I hire one when I can do all this myself?” For those of us in the industry, we know that the easy answer is that they cannot do this all by themselves, but here is a helpful list of reasons to give to a potential client who may not see things the way we do.

Education

Sure, a potential client can spend days, weeks, even months researching the ins and outs of real estate but by the time they have amassed all the necessary information, it might be pushing or passing a deadline for them to find or sell a property. By hiring someone who has already taken the time to absorb all of this education by a respected and certified institution they can rest easy that they are hiring an expert in the field.

Neighbourhood Knowledge

A part of a real estate professional’s education comes from knowing a designated neighbourhood very well. They will know the data on schools, crime, demographics and whatever else you could possibly ask for at the drop of a hat because they have taken the time to research the area very well. They will also be able to identify comparable sales and give you information the internet might not give you. For example, you may know a house is up for sale in your neighbourhood, but an agent will be able to tell you that it sold for far under its asking price. They can also provide you information for how long a property has been on the market and how many times a property has been in escrow.

Agents Make Amazing Buffers

If someone wants to buy or sell a property all by themselves they’ll be excited by any attention they get. But a real estate professional and keep at bay all the false starts. For example, when showing property listings to a potential buyer, a REALTOR® will easily be able to take out spam listings that a client may mistake for good buys. And if the potential home buyer is looking at new homes, a REALTOR® can prevent builder’s agents from nipping at the heels of a buyer and scaring them off. Additionally, when helping out a seller, a REALTOR® can easily sniff out people who are viewing a house seriously and those who are just browsing around. This will all save enormous amounts of time and effort on a client’s behalf.

Professional Networking

While legal liability may prevent recommending a certain individual or company over another, real estate agents know other professionals whom you will need to hire during your real estate transaction. These could be mortgage brokers, home inspectors, stagers and contractors for renovations. Sure, there may be reviews online, but do you really know how many of those reviews were purchased? Trusting a real estate professional who has been in the business for some time means they will steer you in the right direction – it would be bad business not to!

Questions After Closing

Say your potential client is very eager to do everything by themselves and swears they have done all the necessary research. There may be a great deal of information out there regarding listings, open houses, and what not. But I can guarantee you they will be full of questions following the closing. Land transfer taxes can fall behind and not be charged to an account for months. This may confuse a potential client but a REALTOR® will have all the answers.

Hiring a real estate professional should never been seen as a luxury cost. It is a necessary one that can get you the best price for your property whether you are buying or selling. They will be there every step of the way with their immense education and experience and seek to make sure you are thoroughly satisfied throughout the process.

 

 

Key Decorating Tips To Make Any Room Look Better

September 19, 2018
Some people are born with a natural flair for design. Their eyes seem to hover over a blank space and paint a million possibilities into it. Others are glued to Pinterest and are constantly disappointed when their projects don’t turn out as envisioned. Fear not, because this article is here to give you an insight into the minds of the designing geniuses and how you can use these tips to make any room in your home look great.

Colour Schemes

Colour-blocking is incredibly important to create cohesion in a space. You’ll generally want three colours in a room, and the more adventurous you are the more you can add. But it is safe to say you have two main colours and one accent colour – the accent colour usually being the pop of life and brightness.

If you are looking for stripes in your room that have an architectural elegance, use the failsafe 50/150 rule. Mix one batch of paint 50% lighter than the base and another 150% darker. This will always create an extremely sophisticated look and will make you stand out in your strong understanding of colour.

Another colour scheme tip you can use is to paint your ceiling. This is an especially good idea in a room that has lots of tall cabinets or shelving. If you paint the ceiling a slightly paler version of the walls this will make your room seem brighter, even if it only has one window!

Fake Height

If your room doesn’t have the high ceilings you were hoping it would, the best way to get around it is to create strong verticals. An example of this is long, large mirrors that add space and height to a room. Additionally, buying furniture that is low-slung will emphasize the height of the room.

Go Big

Big wall art stands out and makes a statement in a way small art never could. It makes the room visually look bigger and draws strong attention to the space. So please throw away your collages and your string of photos and opt instead for a big piece that will become the focal point of your room.

Create Space

Believe it or not, but not every nook and cranny in your home need be filled. Less really is more. By having negative space for every piece of furniture you add to your room your room will appear bigger and comfier. It is also a good idea to remove the last piece of furniture you put into the room. The less clutter there is, the easier it is to allow light through a room.

Go Green

Sometimes the best way to add life to a room is by doing just that. Adding live plants to a room softens the edges of a stark colour scheme and can especially brighten up a space in a corner of a room or behind sofas and chairs.

We hope these tips inspire you that designing a room and making it better than your dreams is a job that is easily achievable!

Is It Time To Downsize?

September 12, 2018

All our lives we have been told that the more successful we are, the bigger our house will end up becoming. Maybe it’s time to ask your clients if that is necessarily the case. There are so many opulent condominiums popping up around that offer as luxurious a lifestyle, if not, more, than many of the mansions that are dotted around the city. For some, downsizing into a gorgeous Edwardian build filled with character is the perfect downsize for them. Downsizing isn’t just for empty nesters. Here are some important questions to ask your clients about their current lifestyle and whether downsizing is right for them.

Does size matter to me?

Jokes aside, if they really can’t shake that they will be happy in a smaller home, then don’t encourage it! But for many, a home’s value comes from its use. Ask them about how often family, friends and neighbours come to visit. How often do they use all the rooms in their house? If some spaces are bare or underused, perhaps moving into a smaller home isn’t as unconventional and against the grain as they might have previously thought.

Will I miss the space?

This answer is based purely on perspective. The number one thing people who have downsized loved about less space was that there was less cleaning. Instead of spending entire weekends devoted to yard work, pool maintenance and goodness knows what else, downsizing can mean that you only spend 2 hours a week total cleaning your house! Also, for those who are interested in downsizing but are still cautious about losing their spaciousness, suggest them properties that have cathedral-style ceilings that will make the room feel bigger than it is. Alternatively, finding a property that is very centrally-located should cure them of any worries they might have had over losing space.

What if life events affect me after I downsize?

This is something your clients will need to seriously consider before downsizing. If your client is a parent whose child has moved away for university, ask them what is the likelihood that that child might move back in after university? A one bedroom one bathroom property might be hard to share.

 

Alternatively, if your clients are a young family it might be worth considering that what is in their home or around their home suits the needs of their family such as parks, play areas, community centres, etc.

There are many things to consider when downsizing beyond the financials. But the financials are also very important. Many people need more money than they have already saved for retirement. Others are afraid of all the maintenance that goes into their current home. Others still, are afraid of the maintenance fees they might pay if they downsize into a fancy condo. Suggest to your clients that they speak with a financial advisor to see what is best for them and discuss how a specific neighbourhood or style of house would suit their lifestyle. We hope these questions give them a good springboard to figure out what is right for them!

Why Is The Concept Of Agency So Confusing?

September 5, 2018
Most people appreciate that when hiring a real estate agent, that agent will help them in the process of buying or selling a property. However, that is probably as much as they understand when it comes to the agent-client relationship they may form with you. Important concepts such as fiduciary duty, representation, handling confidential information, executing administrative duties and dealing with disclosures are all part and parcel of what it means to be an agent. But how do you explain that to your potential clients without making their head spin?


The concept of agency is a complex one but it needn’t be complicated. Here are some pointers when you next talk to your clients about what it is you do for them, and how unique the role is that you hold with them.

 

The History of Agency

Client representation has been a profession since the middle ages. Back when the servant-master relationship existed, it was understood that if the servant caused damage to someone, that person could seek recompense from the servant’s master. Over the centuries, this relationship of agent-client has developed, and while damages are still a fundamental concept of agency, today the concentration of the agency concept is on advocacy and representation.

 

Agency as a Whole vs. an Agent’s Duties

A lot of the confusion that stems from people trying to understand what an agent does stems from being hung up on what agency as a whole means. It’s far easier to break down what the duties of an agent.

A duty, when talking about agency, means a legal obligation to someone. An example of this could be a real estate agent’s duty to balance caveat emptor (buyer beware) laws with seller disclosure statements. An agent needs at least one duty in order to be functional. If you are describing the concept of agency as a whole, tell your client that that large notion only tells you how to act on the duty, not the other way around.

 

Real Estate Agency is Different than Most Other Agencies

Another reason many people get confused about what agency means, especially when it comes to real estate is that real estate agents are their own special version of agents. Traditional agents deal with responding to situations. For example, lawyers, pharmacists, plumbers – there are all people you as a client go to because a situation has been created in your life and you need an agent’s help to respond to them.

To be a real estate agent, there is often the opportunity to create situations. Real estate agents will commonly speak to opposing consumers to a transactions despite only representing one of the clients.

 

Timing is Everything

The problem with being a real estate agent is that sometimes it can be very hard to understand when your role as an agent begins. One moment you could be having a casual conversation at a local café with someone and then the next thing you know, you’re knee-deep in what should be a conversation held as an agent. Unlike the “response” or traditional type of agent role, the role of a real estate agent doesn’t have a formal way or time to create the beginning of the relationship.

The best way to determine when you have truly started your agent-client relationship is to recognise when your passive duties have turned into active ones. Active duties generally require an agent to do something on the behalf of their client. Passive duties need no such formalities.

 

Real Estate Agents Care About More Than Their Clients

This is not meant to be read in a negative light! On the contrary, it shows how complex and thoughtful the role truly is. If an agent only cared about their clients it could create potential zones of conflict. But real estate agents also owe a duty (albeit a much smaller one) to non-clients such as the opposing side of a transaction, other agents, and potential clients.

We hope that this list can help you better explain to your clients what you do and how unique your position is.

How to Be the Best Real Estate Agent

August 29, 2018
Whether you’ve been in the game for years or days, there is always room to grow in the field of real estate. Here are some out-of-the-box ideas that can help you be the best real estate agent around!

Pitch Stories to Reporters

Reporters online and in print are always looking for a new story to tell. Instead of just being a source for them in their regular real estate articles, why not help them by giving them real scoops. You know what’s trending better than anyone as you’re out on the field every day. Are cobblestone driveways trending? What about a certain countertop finish? Forming an excellent partnership with the press will help generate more connections and leads than you think!

Maintain Connections with Past Clients and Referral Sources

Please, please, please ditch the postcards, notepads and other mass-mailed trinkets you send to neighbourhoods. You only get a 2% return on your investment . If you must send something to current and former clients, send them market updates, a card saying their property has just been listed (or better yet, just been sold!) as well as birthday and holiday cards. For a unique spin that can get you approximately a 10% return on your investment, consider taking your contacts out for lunch (about $50 dollars total) four times a week. The more you stay in touch, the more up-to-date you are with how to best be there for your clients and team!

Define Yourself as a Consultant

Many people often mistake real estate agents as salespeople. Worse yet, they think that in order to be a successful real estate agent you must have stellar sales techniques. While these are excellent qualities to have, they are not the foundation on which to base your career. To be the best real estate agent you must be amazing at hunting, researching and understanding your clients’ needs. As much as you may be desperate for a deal, stay out of “sales” mode as much as you can. Remember to consult and never push and you will succeed.

You Don’t need to “List to Last”

You’ve probably heard that in order to make it in real estate you need to list. But this saying is as outdated as it is old. If you want to focus on buyers in the early stages of your career or make it the bulk of your career you can! Creating a niche and being an expert in a certain field such as buyers can help you stand out and balance your business income a little better.

We understand you are bombarded all the time to make sure you have a good mentor, that you have a strong online presence with great search-engine-optimization skills, and that you are throwing as many open houses as you can. We are here to credit your intelligence and give you ideas and tips you might not have heard or thought of from your typical, run-of-the-mill sources and hope they can help your business blossom!

Summer Tips for Busy Gardeners

August 22, 2018

Summer presents unique challenges for the wellbeing of your garden. To compound things, whether it be entertaining now very idle kids, or making time for a plethora of summer events, summer can be just plain busy. Follow these 8 tips to give your garden a lift when your time’s a hot commodity!

Keep your lawn a healthy length

Want to save time? Mow lawns as tall as your mower is able to. It may be counterintuitive, but scalping your lawn causes many knock-on problems that far outweigh the time you might save by a tighter shave. A thick layer of grass helps prevent weed growth, and you will have less work to do overall.

Plant beautiful, weather-appropriate plants

Placing some succulents in simple terra cotta containers goes a long way. These quirky and colourful plants can be used to beautiful effect, while being tolerant of missed waterings. Consider succulents such as Echeveria and Aeonium when you want a low-maintenance splash of colour, great for complimenting other natural features such as rocks or beach glass.

Water deep and less often to encourage deep roots

Plants try to grow their roots to optimize water intake. Shallow watering is like teaching your plants a bad lesson - that is, that they should grow their roots near to surface, leaving them vulnerable. Make sure your plants get a long drink in the morning and you will be rewarded with hardier plants.

Do not be afraid to pick vegetables early

Along with the benefit of reaping a tasty harvest earlier, picking vegetables often stimulates production. Remember to check behind leaves for camouflaged vegetables.

Take care of your young plantings

Your plantings are your investment, do not let them go to waste! Shelter them for a week or two while they establish and are able to withstand direct sunlight. Use shade cloth or leaves of other plants to make sure your plants have the best chance to thrive.

Place fresh mulch to reduce maintenance

Mulch serves many benefits for making your gardening life easier and getting the most productivity out of your soil. A layer of mulch will keep soil cool and stop fertilizer from being washed away.

Pull weeds before they seed

Use a long handled weeding tool to effectively remove weeds as they begin to crop up. Removing weeds before they begin to spread will save you a lot of work - and is an entirely organic means of weed control.

Plan your time effectively

The most important skill for having a beautiful garden when life gets busy is good time management. If you can, always work when it’s cool. Gardening tasks such as weeding and mowing take a lot of energy, and you both are safer and more likely to work quickly if you are not overheating. Make a schedule to check for problems such as disease and insect problems before they get out of hand. An ounce of preventive maintenance will save you a lot of work.

Hopefully these tips help you stay on top of summer while staying green! And of course, remember to take time to just sit back and enjoy the (possibly literal) fruits of your labour. The days are long, the sun is shining, there are few better times to enjoy your garden!

Downsizing Tips for Luxury Buyers

August 15, 2018
For luxury buyers who are used to sprawling, opulent homes, downsizing can be tricky. Oftentimes, they have amassed very important collections or valuable pieces they struggle to part with. If you are looking to provide invaluable support to your luxury buyer, here are some important tips you can pass along to them to help them prepare for a completely new chapter in their life.

Deep Clean The Current House

While many see cleaning as the last thing to do before you move out, a deep and thorough clean can help you reveal what hasn’t been used in years and what is important to a lifestyle. This will help them get the ball rolling and help to get them onto the minimalist track.

Three Labels Of Organization

Thinning out your current lifestyle can come with a lot of emotional turbulence. Advise your clients to have a bin that is for things to keep, things to sell and things to give to charity. To help them make these important decisions more easily, remind them to always ask if they have used the item in the last six months. Chances are, if they haven’t, they aren’t likely to use it again. Another easy tip to lessen their load is to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit – clothing or furniture.

Auction High-End Items

Your luxury client might have over time invested in a very comprehensive wine collection, art collection or something else entirely. If there was ever a good time to cash in on those investments, now is that time. Since they have already begun to divide up their life, aiming to keep a third to a half of what they currently own, at least they should get some profit from it!

Get An Objective Opinion

It is inevitable that there will be some items that will leave a luxury buyer stumped as to whether they should keep, sell, or give to charity. This is a great time to have an outside perspective be it a family friend, an appraiser, or even you to help them out.

Design The House Before Move In

Provide floor plans to your luxury buyer so that they can get started on truly appreciating the size of their new home. Once they try to envision what that room will look like they will start to get a clearer understanding that perhaps the room can only take one armoire rather than two. Save them the hassle of having to trip over their own furniture, or move it twice – once to the new house and once to the dump. Designing the new house with minimalism in mind can help ease this process. After all, moving into smaller quarters doesn’t mean they are reducing their quality of life.
 

Outdoor Entertaining

August 8, 2018

This gorgeous summer weather has us all begging to be outside, so this summer, instead of keeping your party indoors, lean in to the gorgeous weather and bring your entertaining outside! Having an outdoor party however isn’t as simple as bringing the inside out, so here are some helpful tips so that you can be the talk of the town this summer.

Seating

There will never be enough seating for all your guests. However, make sure the seats you do have are comfy! Putting comfortable cushions on top will make it easier for your guests to lounge outdoors for longer. If you’re into a boho chic look don’t be afraid to mix and match and bring your chairs from indoors – as long as it’s safe to sit on (think bean bags or benches) bring them out!

Table Decoration

What’s the perfect balance of aesthetic and low maintenance while still being environmentally friendly? Doing disposables carefully. For a rustic and eco-friendly vibe use brown craft paper across your table for a casual look that’s incredibly easy to clean up.

If you don’t want to use disposable plates and cutlery, use everything you’ve got in the house! An eclectic combination will create a more laid-back feel which is what everyone is truly seeking for on a hot summer’s day.

If you need help defining your outdoor space, try putting an umbrella over the table or wherever you can to create your “outdoor room” while providing some necessary shade!

When making centrepieces, the less fussy the better! Get a large serving platter you have lying around the house and get some floating candles and cut the stems off of some peonies and gardenias and let them float next to the candles. An easy and gorgeous look! Alternatively you can use colourful sand bucket pails and fill them with sunflowers.

Lighting

The classic lighting for outdoor entertaining is a fire pit. It’s perfect to sit around for s’mores, stories and warmth. However, it won’t be enough lighting if you’ve got more than 5 or 6 people coming to your event.

For larger groups consider using a vintage chandelier and fill it up with fairy lights for a romantic vibe or dot some flameless candles around path ways so people can see where they’re going. For a truly magical experience get some paper lanterns and light them as dusk falls – your group can even set them off into the sky and watch them float off into the distance.

Themes

If you want your event to have an extra pizzazz consider creating a theme to set the tone. For example, a Mad Men style party can have everybody come out in their best vintage looks. In the mean time you can serve them smoked oysters on the half “shell”, salmon rillettes while they sip on death valley martinis.

If the vibe you are going for is more garden party / afternoon tea, consider serving some English breakfast tea and Pimm’s along with cucumber sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and salt-and-pepper cheese puffs.

If you want to get creative, consider throwing a breakfast for dinner outdoor party. You can serve Mediterranean devilled eggs, cardamom rolls, and tomato breakfast toasts. For drinks, keep the brunch vibe going with sea breeze mimosas and garden bloody Marys.

We hope this gets your juices flowing for your upcoming outdoor party. Have fun and remember, don’t forget your sunscreen!

5 Gadgets That Will Improve Your Health

August 1, 2018

You always put your client first – it’s how you maintain an expert level of customer service. But did you know that if you don’t take care of yourself you might actually be doing your clients a disservice? Your health and your success in business are far more interlinked than you may think. Your posture can affect your energy levels when speaking to a client which can impact your sales. To get you at the right balance of health and work here are five gadgets that will improve your health.

Gym Watch

No, this is not a smart watch in the typical sense. What this watch does, unlike any app on an Apple Watch or Android Watch is that it can detect when you have poor form while exercising. And not only will it point out your poor form it will provide tips to correct it. Gym Watch can tell the difference between a half-hearted rep and a full effort one and uses movement data to help you reach your personal fitness goals. You officially don’t need a personal trainer anymore, just get this watch!

Healbe GoBe

Taking care of your health is not limited to just exercising regularly, it’s also looking after what you eat. But when you’re constantly on the go you might not always have saved the wrapper to your food to remember how many calories there are. Or, if you’re a fan of cooking, you might not know how many calories went into your lunch. This little device packs a punch in that it can measure your calorie intake without having to scan a barcode or type of everything you ate. On top of that it will keep track of your calories consumed as well as your stress, hydration and sleep levels!

TempTraq

If you have little ones, you’ll know how difficult it is to get them to sit still while taking their temperature. TempTraq is a smart gadget that sticks to your baby or young child’s torso and connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone app where it will record and log temperatures. Because you can have it stick on your child for prolonged periods of time, it will alert your phone if your child’s fever spikes.

Sense-U Clip

We have all been told our posture could be better. It is inevitable that given enough time in front of a computer, you will slouch while reading your email or talking over the phone. Correct posture not only reduces back and shoulder pain, but also fatigue! This posture grainer will track your posture throughout the day and nudge you into sitting properly. For $75.99 you can have a chiropractor invisibly hovering over your shoulder and telling you to live your best life all the time.
 

hOmeLabs

Many people don’t like obnoxious alarm clocks because they are a harsh way to get out of bed. But did you know that traditional loud alarms can increase your adrenaline and cortisol levels which can create lasting negative health impacts? This sunrise clock will help you gently wake up in the morning, but also will gently put you to sleep at night. It will slowly increase or decrease a natural light that mimics an outdoor hue so you can slowly and healthily wake up or fall asleep every day.

Remember that despite your incredibly busy schedule, there is always time to take care of yourself. Maybe one of these new gadgets will help maintain your fitness goals and help you to be the best at home as well as work!

Elements of a Residential Therapy Garden

July 25, 2018

We all know the value of curb appeal, but many don’t stop to think that the reason curb appeal is named the way it is, is because outdoor living can add enormous joy to a homeowner’s life. The idea of a therapeutic garden is nothing new: during the Middle Ages, therapy gardens were used in monastery hospitals! The Japanese have also been using Zen rock gardens for centuries as sacred places.

We live in an age where slowly but surely the stigma behind mental health is being erased. Architects and developers are starting to take seriously how to create and sustain a world that centres around wellness. You can see modern therapy gardens in cancer clinics, hospitals and memory-care centres across the country and how much of a positive impact they are providing to their patients.

Today, we are encouraging you to do the same with your own backyard or front yard. A therapy garden isn’t just for those who are suffering and seeking relief, they are great healing centres for caregivers who need to relieve from their own stress.

So, whether you are looking to boost your morale or your property’s value, here are some helpful tips when creating your own therapy garden.

Size, Care, and Location

People are easily daunted that a garden should be expansive in order for it to have a lasting effect on a person. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A small footprint garden is easy to maintain and is very affordable. And because it is so small you can put it almost anywhere on a property. Think about whether you want the garden to be a secluded or social area, and about its elevation.

Consider the Five Senses

Taste, smell, touch, see and hear – as long as your garden engages with one of these senses during every season, you will have a successful therapy garden. Smell is arguably one of the most important senses to appeal to as therapeutic landscape artist from Cornell University, Naomi Sachs argues that a person’s smell is one of the last senses to go and fragrant plants such as lilac can trigger sweet memories for those with dementia or brain injuries. It is important to remember that smells are good in most but not all situations. If you or the person you are designing this therapy garden for is undergoing chemotherapy it is best to avoid scents as patients during their treatment are easily nauseated. Sensitivity should also be practiced with the amount of light in the garden for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Choose a Few Essential Elements

Make sure when designing your garden that it is to your skill level and your ability to maintain it. Too many features can add stress – be it on the eyes or on the notion of upkeep.
Make it happy and don’t be afraid to keep it simple. If you only go for three plants try to make them different heights to add character and personality to your garden. Rocks, hardscape and paths are a great way to add depth to your garden without much maintenance. If sound is the sense that matters most to you consider getting smaller pebbles for your garden paths to make a pleasant crunching sound. Also consider getting wind chimes, but be careful that your neighbours don’t find them annoying! To avoid any auditory issues with people who are picky about sounds, you can’t go wrong with a water feature that has a small waterfall or fountain. If music matters a lot to you, consider bringing some wireless speakers into your garden (just be mindful of rain or snow!)

If you are making a therapy garden for someone with dementia, a path that winds in circles and returns to the starting point helps remove confusion and allows for more enjoyment of a safe space.

Seating can be a great idea if you want to sit and soak in your views of your therapy garden. But also it can be great for those with mobility issues. Having a seat with arms, backs and cushions can add a pop of colour and a great sense of comfort to your therapy garden.

If light matters to you in your garden and a fire is a bit too risky for you, there are plenty of battery operated fairy lights you can install throughout your garden. You can also install solar lamps along paths so that you can safely enjoy your garden at night.

Your garden should be your oasis. It should relax and unwind you and provide you that respite you desperately need from your daily grind. We hope these few tips will help encourage you that creating a therapy garden is easy to do and can add so much to your life and your property’s value!

5 Red Flags for Luxury REALTOR®s

July 18, 2018

As your business gains traction and you experience success with moderately priced real estate, it is natural to consider the higher end market. It seems very glamorous and exciting to do business with the top 1 percent of earners. However, different price points serve different needs, and the luxury market is almost by definition considerably more discerning. Here are five red flags that can send highly negative signals to your ideal clients.

  1. You are presented as a generalist. Luxury real estate deals are highly specialized; you do not want them to seem like an afterthought in your branding. Everything about your image, from your logo, social media, website, to your photography, needs to be designed with high-end customers in mind. You need to show that you are actively involved in their section of the market.

  2. You are visibly impatient when the process is lengthy. Living sale to sale simply is not sustainable. Luxury buyers are making a multimillion-dollar investment while also finding an ideal space to live, entertain - and quite possibly, work. A client’s search can easily span multiple months, and, in some cases, multiple years. Your clients will not tolerate being rushed into such a high consequence decision.

  3. You are not in tune with the needs of luxury buyers. If you come from low to moderate end markets, you may not even realize that you are not doing adequate homework. Do you know where the nearest golf course or riding stables is, and how much membership costs? Depending on your customer, this can be a top of mind item. Researching private schools, fitness clubs, upscale restaurants and services are all items that can be critical in showing preparedness. The ideal message to your client is: what is important for you, is important for me. As a practical tip, you can learn a great deal about what messaging to present your clients from other luxury brands on social media.

  4. You are not reassuring and calm in the face of volatility. Any real estate transaction is involved and emotional. Your client’s needs are very close to their vision of their future. It is important to have a firm grasp on how to manage your client’s expectations and emotions. If you show you respond only with stress and frustration when deals break down, you are failing to reassure your clients that you are a professional who puts their needs first. You should see every challenge as an opportunity to show your buyer that you are on their side.

And, last but not least, the most critical red flag for your success in the luxury market:

Your ideal clients never even hear of you. It is important to consistently be present at open houses and events where you can meet prospective clients - or those close to them. Network with bankers, accountants, and lawyers who might be in a position to recommend you to a high end client. While it is easy to put off highly discerning clients, a more likely fate is to never even be on their radar. Make networking a top priority.

 

Is Your Business Plan Up To Scratch?

July 11, 2018

For those burgeoning entrepreneurs looking to make it big and lead a successful life, it is important to note that ambition without guidance is akin to a wound-up spring with no direction to release its energy. If you want to live a certain lifestyle or achieve certain goals, you need to create a solid business plan that aligns your team toward a common set of goals. By creating a business plan and putting thoughts to paper you and your team can sit down and examine what is feasible in the plan and what needs tweaking. Once it has been adjusted to everyone’s liking, a strong business plan will attract the right clients and investors to make your dreams come true. At the end of the day, a business plan will not guarantee success, but it will boost your odds and create cohesion amongst your team and those are the key elements to a healthy and thriving business.



 

So, how do you go about creating an enticing and inspiring business plan?

 

Step One: Have A Goal

This may seem obvious to you, but it might not be to your team, your clients, or your investors. Sit down and come up with an actual goal you would like to achieve by a certain deadline. Are you looking to get an investment? A loan? You might have more than one goal in which case creating one just for your team and one for clients or investors will be necessary. Just make sure that you have a clear business need and goal for each of the plans you are creating.

 

Step Two: Make It Feasible

It’s all well and good to have ambitious goals, but if you can’t create a realistic plan the people who are reading your plan won’t take you or your business seriously. A business plan can be beautifully formatted and written, but all for naught without an achievable goal.

 

Step Three: Establish A Market Opportunity

In an effort to make your business plan viable you need to note down how large your target market is and how fast is it growing. Think about the opportunities and threats of your market and how you will deal with them. A great source of information to help you answer all these questions is by sizing up your competition and checking out how they answer these very questions. In researching your competition you will also get a better understanding of what the market already has and what it is lacking and how you can fill in those gaps in your profession so that you can get the most profit.

 

Step Four: Ensure It’s Specific

The more specific your plan, the easier it is to track its progress. This way you can find out if you and your team are behind schedule, if you can zoom ahead to certain stages. Examples of important details to include in your business plan that help achieve this is identifying responsibilities for implementation and assumptions. Knowing what needs to be done and what is only assumed can be done is critical when it comes to revising plans.

Remember that a business plan is not words carved into stone. It should be fluid and grow as your company grows. Prepare for bad weather and learn to fare through the storms and adjust your plan accordingly. As long as everyone is on the same team, you can accomplish anything!

Working on a Team is the Safest and Most Positive Thing You Can Do

July 4, 2018

When agents consider joining real estate teams they are usually thinking to do so for additional support in marketing and client services. However, one of the best reasons to join a real estate team is for the security it can provide. Here are just a few examples of why working on a team is one of the safest and best choices you can make for your real estate career.

Safety in Numbers

Working with a team can give you the added benefit of having a safety buffer. You can attending showings in pairs or co-list a home. Make sure that your team has this as an explicitly stated practice so that your team always knows where you are. Not only is it a great way to feel safe but it’s also an excellent way to hold fellow team members accountable.

Another great way to do this is to follow the REALTORS® Code of Ethics which dictates that teams must display the name of their parent brokerage prominently in advertisements. This reinforces your solid reputation, that you are less likely to work alone and this will frighten criminals who might not have thought before you had such strong resources at your fingertips.

A Big Team Has A Big Online Security Blanket

Working for yourself or in a small group might not provide the same firewall or antivirus protections when setting up websites and email addresses in the way that large agencies can. Regardless of the size of your team, make sure that your personal email has no place in your business. Your firm’s protected email address is the only one you should be using, as Gmail and Yahoo do not offer the same strong methods for protecting against harmful viruses.

Taking Initiative In Your Agency’s Safety Shows Promotion-Worthy Skills

Safety in a real estate agency shouldn’t just be talked about in REALTOR® Safety Month September. Step up your agency’s safety game by integrating the topic into team meetings and continuing education events. It could be an easier way to identify buyers or reporting emergency situations, but showing responsibility and forward thinking in all aspects of your company will get you noticed and help you stand out amongst your team.

A great start is to get everyone on your team to use a safety app such as Life 360 or Life Alarm Smart Alert (the latter being designed specifically with the real estate profession in mind). With this app your team members can track each other’s location in real time and send strong push notifications when one team member alerts danger so that the rest of the team can call law enforcement or emergency services immediately.

We tend to think of buying and selling homes as a great way to meet exciting clients and make great deals, but there is always a risk of criminal or dangerous behaviour. We hope these steps can set you on a safe and assuring path that working in a large team can provide you the security and steps to success both in the office and during client meetings!

How CRM is a Game Changer for your Business

June 27, 2018

If you store your client’s information in Microsoft Outlook or Excel you aren’t able to effectively share that data and you are missing out on opportunities to connect with your clients, anticipate their needs and make potential sales. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can fill in the gaps of your current client information storing system and grow your business in many ways. Here are just some of the ways that a CRM could change the way you do business.

A CRM Can Find The Right Customers

By connecting your email, social and marketing automation to a CRM platform your sales and marketing teams can have a complete view of leads and prospects so they can create and target communications into successful clients.

A CRM Can Help Establish Sustainable Relationships

Instead of shifting through notes and rolodexes, store all of your client’s goals, challenges and preferences in a CRM system so that whenever you speak to them it’s like you’ve never even skipped a beat. This way, no matter how big or small your business is, your clients will always feel as if you really know them and care about their needs.

A CRM Can Thread Data Across Your Sales Team

You may have more than one person on your team calling clients and potential clients. To avoid mix-ups a CRM can log when one of your team members calls a client and they can report how the conversation went. That way, when another team member picks up the phone to call the same client, they’re not repeating what the first client said or stepping on any toes. Whether its emails, phone calls or documents, a CRM can store all the documents you need about your clients so everything and everyone feels centralised and connected on your team.

A CRM Can Offer Your Clients Better Customer Service

This includes when your client opens an email – a CRM system can record that information and update everyone, everywhere instantly. Essentially, a CRM system frees up your teams process-heavy tasks which gives them more time to connect with clients. No more hunting for contact information or entering data which can be automated – a CRM system increase your team’s overall productivity full stop.

A CRM Can Improve Customer Retention

Now that you can thread your data and provide better customer service, your team has the time to proactively address at-risk clients and provide them the right opportunities at the right moment. By retaining more of your prospective clients, your profits can increase exponentially.

A CRM Can Analyze Performance and Forecast Reports

Retaining clients isn’t just by harnessing important client data in one repository and keeping tabs on it, it’s also monitoring the performance of your team members who interact with those clients. A CRM system can examine the performance of each of your individual team members by analysing how many deals they close and investigate where lost deals go wrong. Based on this information they can provide reports on how your company will perform in the future and how many deals your company are likely to close and when.

As you can see, a CRM doesn’t replace your team, it enhances the raw materials your team possesses and amplifies everyone’s productivity so that your company performs at its optimum level. There are many CRM systems out there to choose from and we hope you will consider them when looking to improve the overall efficiency and productivity of your company!

The Ins and Outs of Investing in a Winery

June 20, 2018

If you have clients with deep-pockets looking to invest in real estate, a successful vineyard could provide a big payoff. If you know and explain to your client the complexity of the deal, and give them a great deal of due diligence, they could wind up making the best investment they’ve ever made.

There will be important questions you ask your client before you even begin the process such as their previous experience in agribusiness, their capabilities of investment, the type of grapes or wine they want to grow or make etc. But knowing these answers is important as it will help understand whether the property they buy will make the wine onsite or whether they will just grow the grapes and sell them to be manufactured elsewhere.

Once you have a very thorough and clear understanding of your buyer’s intentions, you must channel those intentions with the location of the property. While location is important when purchasing a residential property, it is even more so important when it comes to purchasing a vineyard as the type of soil, air, wind and nutrients in the environment are paramount to the quality of crop you can grow. Being in an area near other professional winemakers can help create a strong network that will give you the mentoring and help you need during tough periods.

One of the most noted areas in Ontario for vineyards is the Niagara Escarpment / Niagara-on-the-Lake region. Looking around the area you can see that the vineyards vary in age from about a hundred years to only a few. And the new wineries are gaining acclaim in the leagues of the older ones so long as they are under the right care and supervision. For example, one of the newest wineries in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region to have won awards at the National Wine Awards 2016 is Two Sisters Winery. Other good wine regions that have gained high ranks in the National Wine Awards in the Ontario region are Hockley Hills (near Orangeville) and Westport (near Ottawa).

When showing winery properties to your client, be prepared to have the vineyard’s history and financial model. It’s important your client understands how costs differ from starting from scratch versus purchasing an existing vineyard. Because this process can be complex it is important to have every ounce of information at hand such as land reports, diseases in the plants, to legal claims and labour issues. Legal claims could be issues with titles for easements as well as securing proper insurance for extreme weather conditions such as fire and floods.

Once all of this is done and you and your client have come across a winery that has positive reports and ticks all of the boxes, you must sit down and understand how the return on investment works. Investing in a winery is a lifestyle investment, the success of which depends on the grape marketing plan. Look at the ratios of how much a vineyard costs per acre versus its recent sales range prices and see if any additional investment is needed and how much profit is left after.

At the end of the day, purchasing a vineyard can be worth all of the complexities that come with its purchase. So long as you regularly consult with knowledgeable experts and have current and detailed data appropriate to the specific vineyard and similar vineyards, your client should be prepared to embark on one of the more adventurous, artistic and extremely profitable investments they could make real-estate-wise.

Justifying Your Commission and Value To Your Clients

June 13, 2018

Regardless of the type of transaction a person is making, they will always look to get a good deal. When buying a house which is often the biggest purchase a person will make in their lives, they especially want to cut as many corners as possible. One of the corners many real estate clients try to cut is their agent’s commission. This is often because they view your commission as a jackpot pay check rather than a hard-earned income. Talking about your commission to your client shouldn’t be an awkward conversation, this is your chance to describe your value and your worth to them. Here are a few suggestions to demonstrate to your clients when trying to differentiate yourself from the competition.

 

The Number of Transactions You Have Completed in the Past Three Months

Experience and knowledge comes from the volume of transactions you process. The more transactions you have, the more you know about the market and how to help your client. Without this experience, a client is essentially allowing themselves to be a guinea pig on an agent who is finding their feet during one of the biggest purchases of their lives.

 

Testimonials From Previous Clients

It is a known fact that people buy people rather than product. Your website and your number of transactions can speak volumes to your professionalism, but if a previous clients writes a genuine, positive review of their own volition that holds great weight to a client who is unsure of which real estate agent to pick. Testimonials are a great way to show prospective clients that you are a reliable, trustworthy, and experienced professional in your industry.

 

You Know Where the System is Broken and how to get the Best Deal

Your client or prospective clients may think that based on their hours of google research they know which houses are available and they can look up articles on real estate agents, but they cannot appreciate how the business is essentially a closed, esoteric system. Your education gave you knowledge and access to knowledge that you have perfected through months and years of repetition. You can do most of the thinking for your client and can ensure the best deal possible for them that they might not have thought of. Google is no substitute for your knowledge and you have many tools at your disposal to show that to your prospective clients.

 

When you Make Money, Your Clients Benefit

Clients need to understand that when you make commission, part of that money goes back to them. It can be in the form of rewards for loyal customers, gas and meals when taking customers out to showings, as well as all the expenses you pay for advertisements, photography, signs, open houses, and listing fees. Your commission is an investment in your business as well as yourself.

 

At the end of the day you should never feel shy justifying your worth to your client. If you feel unsure, so will they. Through their weeks of google searching they might not have come to 

Regardless of the type of transaction a person is making, they will always look to get a good deal. When buying a house which is often the biggest purchase a person will make in their lives, they especially want to cut as many corners as possible. One of the corners many real estate clients try to cut is their agent’s commission. This is often because they view your commission as a jackpot pay check rather than a hard-earned income. Talking about your commission to your client shouldn’t be an awkward conversation, this is your chance to describe your value and your worth to them. Here are a few suggestions to demonstrate to your clients when trying to differentiate yourself from the competition.

 

The Number of Transactions You Have Completed in the Past Three Months

Experience and knowledge comes from the volume of transactions you process. The more transactions you have, the more you know about the market and how to help your client. Without this experience, a client is essentially allowing themselves to be a guinea pig on an agent who is finding their feet during one of the biggest purchases of their lives.

 

Testimonials From Previous Clients

It is a known fact that people buy people rather than product. Your website and your number of transactions can speak volumes to your professionalism, but if a previous clients writes a genuine, positive review of their own volition that holds great weight to a client who is unsure of which real estate agent to pick. Testimonials are a great way to show prospective clients that you are a reliable, trustworthy, and experienced professional in your industry.

 

You Know Where the System is Broken and how to get the Best Deal

Your client or prospective clients may think that based on their hours of google research they know which houses are available and they can look up articles on real estate agents, but they cannot appreciate how the business is essentially a closed, esoteric system. Your education gave you knowledge and access to knowledge that you have perfected through months and years of repetition. You can do most of the thinking for your client and can ensure the best deal possible for them that they might not have thought of. Google is no substitute for your knowledge and you have many tools at your disposal to show that to your prospective clients.

 

When you Make Money, Your Clients Benefit

Clients need to understand that when you make commission, part of that money goes back to them. It can be in the form of rewards for loyal customers, gas and meals when taking customers out to showings, as well as all the expenses you pay for advertisements, photography, signs, open houses, and listing fees. Your commission is an investment in your business as well as yourself.

 

At the end of the day you should never feel shy justifying your worth to your client. If you feel unsure, so will they. Through their weeks of google searching they might not have come to 

Regardless of the type of transaction a person is making, they will always look to get a good deal. When buying a house which is often the biggest purchase a person will make in their lives, they especially want to cut as many corners as possible. One of the corners many real estate clients try to cut is their agent’s commission. This is often because they view your commission as a jackpot pay check rather than a hard-earned income. Talking about your commission to your client shouldn’t be an awkward conversation, this is your chance to describe your value and your worth to them. Here are a few suggestions to demonstrate to your clients when trying to differentiate yourself from the competition.

 

The Number of Transactions You Have Completed in the Past Three Months

Experience and knowledge comes from the volume of transactions you process. The more transactions you have, the more you know about the market and how to help your client. Without this experience, a client is essentially allowing themselves to be a guinea pig on an agent who is finding their feet during one of the biggest purchases of their lives.

 

Testimonials From Previous Clients

It is a known fact that people buy people rather than product. Your website and your number of transactions can speak volumes to your professionalism, but if a previous clients writes a genuine, positive review of their own volition that holds great weight to a client who is unsure of which real estate agent to pick. Testimonials are a great way to show prospective clients that you are a reliable, trustworthy, and experienced professional in your industry.

 

You Know Where the System is Broken and how to get the Best Deal

Your client or prospective clients may think that based on their hours of google research they know which houses are available and they can look up articles on real estate agents, but they cannot appreciate how the business is essentially a closed, esoteric system. Your education gave you knowledge and access to knowledge that you have perfected through months and years of repetition. You can do most of the thinking for your client and can ensure the best deal possible for them that they might not have thought of. Google is no substitute for your knowledge and you have many tools at your disposal to show that to your prospective clients.

 

When you Make Money, Your Clients Benefit

Clients need to understand that when you make commission, part of that money goes back to them. It can be in the form of rewards for loyal customers, gas and meals when taking customers out to showings, as well as all the expenses you pay for advertisements, photography, signs, open houses, and listing fees. Your commission is an investment in your business as well as yourself.

 

At the end of the day you should never feel shy justifying your worth to your client. If you feel unsure, so will they. Through their weeks of google searching they might not have come tounderstand the true value of REALTOR®s, but now you should feel confident in being able to show them what you are worth! 

Are Your Websites EUGDPR Compliant?

June 6, 2018

On May 25, 2018, a European Union law governing data privacy took effect that potentially affect real estate brokerages and associations. At its simplest interpretation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) makes it a crime to collect data on any resident of an EU country without their express permission. It also requires businesses to delete information about EU residents if they request that information to be deleted.

It is important to remember that all companies are now digital companies and that data collection is no longer limited to Google or data brokers. There is no grace period according to the president of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, Trevor Hughes and he ushers us all to “expect regulators to be activists in policing the new rights.”

Although no formal guidance for compliance has been issued yet for Canadian companies by the GDPR’s advisory group (aka the Article 29 Working Party), the group has indicated that there is no plans or intentions to go after Canadian companies unless they target EU residents or have the bulk of their online traffic from Europe.

If you target EU residents be prepared to wholesale delete your customer mailing lists, and you will likely need to perform a basic audit on what data you hold, how it is used and who outside your company has access to it. The crux of this new regulation forces us to look at how all companies are collecting data.

If you want to ensure best practices are used on your website it is always good to ask for permission upfront before you collect data on people who visit your websites, but you needn’t worry about being severely or harshly affected by the EUGDPR. Other ways to stay on top of EUGDPR and be safe rather than sorry are to examine all the areas of your business where personal information is used and put in steps to clarify the legal basis for such usage. You can update your internal processes to support the key technology guiding principles, and you can have a training day for all associates so that they are fully aware of the EUGDPR.

In instances like these, it is easier to be proactive than not. While it is true that it is unlikely for EUGDPR to seriously affect brokerages across Canada, it will put customers’ minds at ease that you are a forward thinking business who truly cares about the privacy and well-being of their clients. It is also possible that the EUGDPR will inspire Canada and other countries to follow in the same footsteps and ensure data privacy for all.

For more information on the EUGDPR and how you can engage in best practices for your company please look at this site. The official website with every detail you could hope to look for can be found here. We wish you an easy and pleasant time in adjusting your websites so that they are in accordance with the new EUGDPR.

Are Your Communication Skills As Good As You Think?

May 30, 2018


We all think we’re good communicators, and we all understand why communication is important. We understand that if we properly convey and receive messages either in person or through other means we can be hired for jobs, land promotions and avoid conflict. Before walking into an interview or meeting a client for the first time, sit back and carefully think if you’re going to achieve all eight of these factors that are essential to being an amazing communicator. Check off the ones you think you’ve achieved and re-evaluate how you can improve on the ones you haven’t checked off.

1 – Listening

We all know what it’s like to be heard and not listened to. The best way to reach onto someone’s page is to give them what they want the most – to be actively listened to. So the next time you’re speaking to a co-worker or client put away anything that can distract your attention. When giving them your undivided attention, ask clarifying questions to ensure you are actually understanding what the person you are speaking to is saying. Refrain from interrupting as much as you can, and you’ll be on your way to being a great communicator.

2 – Non-Verbal Communication

Body language is a real thing and seriously affects how good of a listener you are. If you are slouching, looking away, rolling your eyes or crossing your arms you are sending non-verbal communication to your conversation partner that you are not interested in communicating with them. Providing a healthy, occasionally broken eye contact with a neutral tone of voice and facial expression will take you very far.

3 – Cohesion and Clarity

If you want someone to understand you, you need to understand yourself what you want to say and what you want out of a conversation. Rambling to someone until you get the point can lead to your conversation partner getting confused, or worse, uninterested. Think beforehand when speaking to a client or co-worker about what you want to say and what you hope to obtain as a result of your conversation.

4 – Friendliness

Being professional is often mistaken for being completely emotionless. In fact, the best way to be professional with others is to engage them with personalised messages. It needn’t be a saga or speaking to someone as if they were your best friend, but asking them how their weekend was, or wishing them well if they are sick demonstrates an emotional intelligence only the best of communicators possess.

5 – Confidence

When you have cohesion and clarity in your dialogue as well as friendliness you tend to emit a healthy confidence people gravitate to. This is very different from over-confidence where you are trying to compensate for a security you are lacking. People respond and feed off of firm but friendly tones – as long as you are still actively listening and demonstrating friendliness to your conversation partner you will be an excellent communicator.

6 – Respect

All of these factors intertwine heavily. In order to be an excellent communicator you must respect the person to whom you are speaking. This can be through active listening or demonstrating empathy. Your confidence will read as arrogance if you don’t show respect to your conversation partner.

7 – Feedback

To be a great communicator you must be able to give and receive feedback. Oftentimes we’re just good at giving feedback. Remember the vulnerable feeling you get when receiving feedback and make sure that your negative feedback is always constructive. It is also just as important to provide positive feedback as it is negative. If someone doesn’t receive recognition for their good work they can feel taken advantage of or neglected. Giving and receiving healthy positive and constructive feedback creates and maintain a motivated work atmosphere.

So how many did you tick off? Share this around your office and see what you’re doing well on and where you can improve. When everyone learns how to be better at communicating you will have a more efficient and happier workplace.

 

Now I Am A REALTOR® , What Next?

May 23, 2018

Congratulations on successfully completing your exam! You’ve worked incredibly hard to get to this point, but it’s not over yet. To get you started on your brand new career, here are six important steps you need to take immediately after becoming a REALTOR®.

Select A Broker: This should be a very careful decision you make because it can significantly outline your path to success. Interview a few brokers to see what each offers when it comes to compensation, knowledge, leadership and training. While it may be tempting to just focus on compensation, a high compensation does not necessarily mean you will get the best training or knowledge. Make sure they tick off every box in a way that makes you feel like you can really thrive under their tutelage.

Learn Neighbourhoods: Your broker may have a specific neighbourhood or you may want to start off with a very specific cache. Either way, do your homework. As a new agent, clients might be wary to work with you so you’ll need to overcompensate with a very thorough knowledge of an area to make you appear as an expert straight out of the gate. Research house styles, price points and amenities – if you think it could help you be a better agent, learn it!

Keep Learning! Whether it’s getting a real estate coach or listening to a bunch of podcasts, completing your exam should not be the end of your real estate education. Rather, it should only be the beginning. If real estate coaches don’t fit within your budget, try hunting online for top-producing agents and reach out to those who you feel have the personality or business model you want to emulate in your career. Give them a call, offer to host an open house or provide something else of value to show your interest and investment in the betterment of their career so that they’ll want to do the same for you.

Whether you have Android or Apple there are many podcasts for you to listen to on your commute to work or during meals that will help you be the best agent you can be. Try listening to Super Agents Live, Real Estate Rockstar, Real Estate Uncensored, or Master Mind Agent (note that Master Mind Agent is not free but it is very detailed and highly rated).

Get An Accountant: Do not wait for tax season when your files are already beyond messy and you feel overwhelmed at what could be deductible or not. Find an accountant now before you get very busy so that when you do get busy you have nothing to worry about. They aren’t as expensive as you think, and it will save you so much more than money in the long run.

Create A Website: While you probably already know you need to make a website, you might not realise that if you want a website that generates leads, you’ll need to own your website rather than have an agent page on your broker’s website. WordPress, Placester or Websitebox are great website building engines that can help you bolster your online strategy. The earlier you start the bigger your search engine optimization advantages are. Search engines like 

Google reward and favour older websites so the longer you’re up and running with a website, the better the chances are that clients can find you online.

While not all of these options are free, a serious real estate agent will invest in their future both financially and with time. We hope these next steps provide you a road map of your immediate future and wish you the best of success in your new career!

How To Make Your Productive Lifestyle A Healthy One

May 16, 2018

We all aspire to be the very best at our jobs. Yet, going above and beyond at work can often mean going above and beyond typical work hours. Without realising it, you may end up having to sacrifice your personal life. “I’ll have a social life when I have time for it” is an oft-heard phrase amongst go-getters in the workforce. But putting all your eggs in one basket is the exact opposite of leading a productive lifestyle. In order to be the most efficient and productive version of yourself you need to allow yourself time to unwind and rest. It may sound counter-productive but the better rested you are the more able you are to perform at work. It’s one less chip that will hinder your capabilities on top of an already challenging position you hold. While the balance might not be achieved overnight, here are some genuinely useful and tangible suggestions to turn your productive lifestyle into a healthy one.

Get A Second Cell Phone

If you’re truly of the mind-set to divide work and play, the best way to do this is by having a separate phone. It need not be the fanciest phone with all the bells and whistles, it can be a really affordable unlocked one from Amazon. The point is, at 9 pm after a long day’s work and your favourite show is about to come on or you’re finally going to see your friends for the first time in forever, being inundated by work messages and emails is the worst case scenario. Having a second cell phone allows you to turn off physically and mentally from work from evening until morning, putting you in control of when and how you will be available for your team after hours.

Make Time For Exercise

We all know exercise is so good for our physical and mental well-being, yet most of us could all improve the number of hours we spend being active. Whether it’s an hour before work or helping you to unwind, getting out all that pent up energy will help you sleep better and stand out amongst the crowd at work. You don’t need to start with P90x, but get in the gym, or start taking walks every day. Setting aside even 30 minutes a day for physical exercise will show a notable difference in your concentration levels at work.

Schedule Downtime

If your work life is organised, why isn’t your home life? Knowing what’s ahead of you, whether it’s meetings or conference calls, helps you plan out your day. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it will help ease your mind at home as well. If you set aside Thursday evening from 6pm – 10 pm to catch up with friends or on a hobby, you can plan your week around knowing you have that downtime. Take it as seriously as your work schedule and don’t neglect it! While it may be great to spontaneously give yourself spare time, it’s not a consistent or healthy way to live, as you’ll end up feeling stressed, wondering when will you ever have time to yourself.

Be In The Moment
This is important for both work and play. When you’re at work, don’t daydream about what’s on TV tonight or what’s for sale at the mall. Focus and devote yourself to your task. This way you’ll be able to fully engage with your team and get the most out of your project. The same mentality applies to your downtime. If you are very serious at work, you should be equally at home. If you get annoyed at people who are on their phones during work meetings, why is it okay for you to be checking your work messages on your own downtime? Pick one task at a time and allow yourself to fully immerse in it. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but you will be amazed at the rejuvenation you will feel.

We understand that life doesn’t always allow for you to balance your goals the way you want them to be. But if you’re going to be the best version of yourself that means you have to put yourself first. Take your work life as seriously as your home life, and you will feel that sense of fulfilment and happiness that you are seeking.

Design Trends To Look Out For This Spring

May 9, 2018

As the beloved Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada once said, “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.” This article is not here to tell you about fluffy ideas that everyone expects or no one will do because it’s too expensive or too fussy. No, this article is here to tell you that there are some amazing functional yet gorgeous trends that not only will you notice in 2018 amongst the hottest houses, but that you could actually incorporate into your own.

Closet Renovations

Let’s get real for a quick second. Chances are, there’s not enough space in your closet and there hasn’t been for a while. There are clothes you forgot you had, and shoes buried in between scarves and hats because spring literally came to Canada overnight. There is dirty laundry scattered everywhere, and you have nowhere to sit down and it’s just easier to avoid the room altogether. Renovate. Your. Closet. If you don’t have the means to turn a guest bedroom or spare room and go all out, sit down and look at your bedroom and your closet. Look at what you use most. Do you use a lot of bags and satchels? Create a changing station for your handbag. Imagine a place that has all of your pens, paper and electronics that you can easily swap in and out of your bags. You are an on-the-go professional. Sometimes your big tote bag, briefcase or backpack will not work into the night and it can be an actual nightmare to take everything out of one bag and put it into another. Create a changing station and have extra supplies and your stress vanishes as quickly as your summer weight-loss goals should be.

But it shouldn’t start and end at your bag changing station. If you appreciate how easy it is to find things in your favourite store, you’ll understand how important space is. Sure the first time you unpacked your wardrobe into your closet everything fit, but it might have only just fit. Display things in an easy to view way with space in between so it’s less daunting to you, and minimises the eventuality of a clothing mountain. Not only will you feel more relaxed and at ease in your closet, but you’ll also be the envy of everyone on Instagram.

Wallpaper
Do you have time to paint? I don’t have time to paint. I want something I can slap on that makes my room like it came off of one of those awesome home renovation shows. For those of you who remember wallpaper being in every grandma’s home, let me tell you that wallpaper styles have entered the 21
st century in an awe-inducing way. If you can think of print you can turn it into wallpaper. There are small boutique wallpaper companies, there are places where you can digitally print your ideas, there are literally a hundred options out there that can burst life into your room in a way that paint never could. There aren’t just beautiful prints to choose from, if you want a beautiful solid colour with sophistication there are textural wallpaper options such as silk, grasscloth, even vinyls that will make your room be the one that everyone remembers.

Cerused Wood Finishes
Everyone has wood in their home. It could be a table, a desk, a chair, a bookshelf, even a cabinet door. It’s also likely that the wood furniture you’ve had in your home you’ve had for a while because wood is a beautiful and durable material to make furniture. However, what was in style ten years ago (aka sleek elegant lacquer) can either fade with time, or fade with your new fashion interests. I am here to tell you your wood can easily be revived with a finish that will look like it just came out of a magazine. Cerusing your wood reveals its natural grain and uses a white pigment to fill in and emphasise those unique grain lines. It’s a technique that is centuries old and strips back your over-manufactured wood furniture into an organic and natural look that is also incredibly modern. Make it a simple touch on your sofa legs or redo your whole kitchen for a dramatic look. Either way, I promise you, you’ll love the look in your home.

Spring felt like it would never come. April’s flurries scared away any hopes for rain showers, so now that May’s sunshine has rolled around the corner I appreciate all you want to do is enjoy that sunshine in your spare time. I do too. But after a long and wonderful day in the sun, and you return to your home, it could be that your home is still stuck in winter. Why not try one of these quick and easy design changes that will significantly and positively impact your life?

Helpful New Technology for REALTORS®

May 2, 2018

When thinking about technology in relation to the real estate profession, there is far more than just the lockboxes and cell phones agents use. But out of all the gadgets and all the apps available to the real estate profession, which ones actually improve your ability to be an amazing real estate agent? Here are some hardware and software suggestions to put you a notch above the rest of your competition.

Virtual Reality Showcases

While many REALTORS® use YouTube and other similar video streaming websites to showcases homes they are listing, it’s often the case that a video can’t provide the same atmosphere and appreciation of the entire home the way being in person could. If your clients are scrambled for time but are in your company, consider having a VR pair of goggles or two for your clients with videos you’ve made specifically for the most immersive piece of technology to date. Clients can tangibly appreciate the home without leaving your office now, making it easier for sellers to live in their home while it is on the market.

Facebook Live Open Houses

The magic behind open houses is that for one day only, many buyers can come in throughout a large window and appreciate a home for its true potential. Yet it’s very easy for potential homebuyers to be busy that day. Or worse yet, people who would like to come to an open house but are not able to due to business or their own residence being too far too appreciate it. With Facebook Live, come rain or shine, sickness or health, anyone who wants to take a tour of the house without actually going to the house can! Best of all, you can connect with more potential clients by growing your Facebook brand.

E-Signatures

Mailing and driving documents to clients consumes a lot of time for a REALTOR®. Why not instead collect your legally binding signatures remotely? HelloSign offers a free version of this service for signing 3 documents. Docusign lets you send an unlimited amount of documents with your own branding on the documents for just $20 a month. If your budget is very important to you, there are also free versions such as importing your signature into Preview on Mac or Adobe Reader on PC so you can sign documents.

Yesware Email Marketing Optimization

Building your business, it can be difficult to determine how your emails are being perceived. Yesware goes beyond basic email tracking (even though it’s hard not to mention it lets you track 100 emails a month for free). Now you can find out whether readers have clicked on a link you send, get notifications for messages that have been opened but not replied to, and provide a link that constantly tracks your availability and only sends those times to your clients seeking appointments.

Curb Call Home Viewing App

Think of it like Uber for home viewings. As a REALTOR® you select when you’re available and which homes you’re available to show, if a buyer wants to see something near you right away, you’ll receive a notification. The app is incredibly safe as your brokerage will always know where you are and you can always hit the big red “panic” button if you ever feel unsafe. This will notify your broker and your emergency contact immediately.

Virtual Staging Solutions

Some potential homebuyers really struggle with seeing blank canvas homes. Instead of paying a lot of money for a stager to stage your home, using Virtual Staging Solutions your empty house for sale will not be virtually filled with couches, tables, chairs and other tasteful décor that will appeal to homebuyers.

As you can see, there’s a different piece of technology for almost every facet of a REALTOR®’s life. Whether you want to improve the home viewing experience, or the time-consuming end processes of a sale, there are many things at your disposal that can make you shine.

Tips for Generating and Maintaining Real Estate Leads

April 25, 2018

Real estate is a people business - networking and meeting people is the name of the game. In order for a REALTOR® to succeed, they always need to be generating leads and making conversions. So what is a lead?

A lead is simply the name and contact information of a potential client. Some may argue that in order for a contact to be a lead, the person has to express interest in your business. Although it's fantastic to hear someone say they need a REALTOR® right now – it's not usually the case. Just because a lead isn't expressing interest right away, doesn't mean that they aren't a viable lead.

So you have a name and email, what now?

Get Organized. Post-it notes and a dry-erase board just won't cut it. Having a proper, scalable, organized software or system in place is crucial. You should be putting leads into a database with as much information as possible and updating any time the lead is touched or if changes occur. Organize contacts by lifecycle state. Are they a lead, a prospect, opportunity, or client? It's important to know where each contact is in your sales funnel.

Record Data. You may not have a lot of information on someone but you can record when they became a lead (and how) and the measures you've taken to reach out to them. Any other information you have should be included as well (if they're looking to buy, sell, if they have a family, what they're looking for, etc.).

Don't get Discouraged. In any business, it can be easy to get discouraged when a lead doesn't respond right away. But just because it's not happening now – doesn't mean that it won't happen. It's important to remember that it takes time for people to co-ordinate their desire to buy/sell with their ability to do so. That being said, not all leads are created equal – spend your time and energy wisely.

Spend More Time Nurturing. You spend a lot of time, energy, and money generating leads – don't forget to nurture them! Put the same amount of thought, time, energy (and yes, even money) into setting up a lead nurturing process. Some experts believe that when it comes to leads, REALTORS® should spend 20 per cent of their time generating and 80 per cent nurturing. You aren't selling a $15 product – you're asking to be the person people turn to when making the biggest transaction of their life. The more time you spend providing resources, asking questions, and checking up – the better your chances are of making the sale.

Remember that nurturing leads can in turn help you generate leads. Think about it – if a person is not ready to buy or sell but they like what they see from you, they may recommend you to their family or friends.

 

Facebook is Great for Leads. Having an active Facebook page and interacting on Facebook is a great way to generate leads. You can assume that almost 100 per cent of Facebook accounts are tied to a person and even with private profiles, you get to learn something about them. At the very least, you have a way to contact them. You can easily get to know people on a level that just isn't possible with typical email sign-ins.

Any time you get someone's information, upload it into your database right away and use your nurturing system to keep in touch until they're ready to reach out. Having non-responsive leads can be discouraging but your persistence and hard word will pay off.

How to use Original Content as a REALTOR® to Attract Clients at Every Stage

April 18, 2018

Consumers tend to be more positive about a brand after they consume content from it.

As a REALTOR® it is important to be seen as a source of information and helpful resources at every stage of the buying or selling process. To attract clients, it is helpful to create and share content that appeals to readers in every stage. You're not only writing for the people that are first getting to know you, you are writing for those that are ready to buy or sell.

Create content that speaks to prospects in every stage - the right information at the right time can help turn potential clients into lifelong customers:

First Stage: Awareness

In this stage, a prospective client is just becoming aware of their need to buy or sell their house and they begin to search for options. They are starting to research solutions (this is when you want them to become of aware of your services).

Since most real estate searches start online, it's important that you are easy to find and that you provide information that is useful and interesting to a wide audience. Create content that appeals to prospects in this initial stage:

  • Write informative articles about general topics like: the buying and selling process, what to expect when working with a REALTOR®, how to decide what kind of home to look for, etc.

  • Use high-quality images and videos to showcase properties that you have sold or that are currently for sale.

  • Go one step further and provide first-time visitors with your own roadmaps to success. Create handouts and worksheets that walk them through the homebuying or selling process or something more specific like helping them identify the perfect neighbourhood for them.

  • Include a page on your website with answers to frequently asked questions. This provides value and gives readers the confidence to ask more detailed questions (since they will now know more about the basics).

  • Content in the awareness stage should discuss buyer/seller pain points, challenges, and opportunities.

Second Stage: Consideration

The prospective client is now considering different options for their needs. They begin to search for competent agents that will be able to assist them. Your goal is to provide content that helps persuade them to use your services:

 

  • Include customer testimonials in written or video form – this gives prospects an idea of what they can expect from working with you.

  • Provide no-nonsense fact sheets about your business that include the number of properties you've sold or the number of clients you've worked with.

  • Provide facts about the market in general. Include buying and selling trends, average prices, and 

  • the time properties spend on the market and general facts about the neighbourhoods you specialize in.

  • Creating webinars or video tutorials allows you to further demonstrate the process of buying and selling and gives visitors a glimpse into your personal style and the way you do business.

  • During this stage, content can serve as a touch point and a way to reach back to someone who is aware of your services but who hasn't taken the opportunity to reach out yet. If someone signed up for your email newsletter but you haven't heard from them, send them an email with a fact sheet as a way of following up without being too pushy.

    Third Stage: Decision Making Time

    The prospective client is choosing between different agents and brokerages – they're weighing the pros and cons of their options. Since the prospect is ready to hire an agent, this is your opportunity to give a final push. The goal during this stage is to show why you're better than your competition and instill confidence in your services - you want your clients to walk away feeling like they've made the right choice:

  • Write personalized articles. This is where blogging pays. Once you feel a potential client is ready to make their decision, take content that you've previously written (for the awareness stage) and send it to them with personalized touches and updated data. These changes should speak directly to their needs and circumstances. For example, if it's a family with two small children who is looking to buy in Liberty Village, and you've written a 'Best Toronto Schools' post, personalize it specifically for Liberty Village with a focus on Kindergarten programs.

  • Create checklists that showcase each step of their particular buying or selling process. This will show that you completely understand their needs.

  • At this stage you want to build trust and ensure that they feel confident when they make their hiring decision. Use content to keep in touch. Tailoring content specifically for them will give you a competitive edge and set you apart from the rest.

  • Send news about recently bought or sold properties that are similar to theirs. Be sure to highlight quick sales or offers received above asking price.

  • Keep an organized collection of properties that they might like in their neighbourhood of interest to show how dedicated you are to finding them their perfect home.

Start Blogging! Get More Traffic to your Real Estate Website

April 11, 2018

According to the National Association of REALTORS® Real Estate in a Digital Age 2017 Report, only 16 per cent of agents said they had real estate blogs. This means that those who create high-quality consistent content are more likely to show up in online searches!

One of the best ways to drive traffic to your website is to publish regular, up to date, relevant content. Your website content can include original blog posts, articles, infographics, research, podcasts, videos, photos, eBooks, newsletters, and anything that you feel would be of interest to your client base. Sharing original and interesting content provides value to your site visitors and identifies you as a knowledgeable leader in the industry.

When you actively post, it shows your clients that you are involved in the industry beyond the home buying and selling process. Creating content that readers want to share and that are of interest to others increases your chances of getting discovered, exponentially.

Here are some tips on scheduling, organizing, and creating relevant, consistent content for your real estate website:

Decide how often you want to post and stick with it. If you are going to have a blog, it's important to be consistent. Even if you only plan on posting once a month – follow through. There is nothing worse than clicking the blog link on someone's website only to see that the last time they posted was over a year ago. This gives visitors the idea that your website isn't maintained and can reflect badly on you as REALTOR® and how they perceive that you handle your business.

Plan out your posts - create a spreadsheet. Use Google Sheets or Excel to create a schedule a month at a time. Your schedule should include the author, topic, status of article (started, draft, completed), and any notes on the subject. This keeps you organized and gives you a visual of what your month will look like and will allow you to go in and make updates as you work on your content.

Consider seasonal themes and trends. By creating a calendar you are able to see the year as a whole and take inspiration from the season, holidays, or specific events that are happening during that time in your local area. Each season is an opportunity to discuss seasonal maintenance and the beginning of the year is a good time to talk about goals and tax tips. Holidays are an opportunity to talk about decor, home entertaining, winter safety, etc. Between seasonal themes and industry trends, you have at least one article topic created for you each month!

Write down your ideas as they come to you. As a REALTOR®, you have a ton of options to write about for your blog. Create a sheet in your calendar specifically for your ideas. You might think you'll remember that brilliant idea about showcasing local cafes, but it can slip your mind in a matter of minutes – write it down! Generally, your site visitors will expect to read about the local area, selling and buying tips, and general tips about the housing market. Article topics can also include maintenance, decor tips, news, and other topics that you specialize in.

Start filling out your calendar. It might seem daunting to have to fill out a month's worth of content - but you have to start somewhere. Create a calendar and start playing with different themes and ideas. Create a schedule for when you want to post. Start off by posting once or twice a month and switch to once or twice a week once you start getting more traffic to your website. Before you know it, you'll feel comfortable in your role as content creator!

Be original, be consistent, and show your potential clients that you know what you're doing! Do you regularly read certain blogs? What sets these blogs apart from others and how do they keep you interested?

New REALTOR®? Kick-Start your Career with These Tips

April 4, 2018

As a new REALTOR® you are taking on a brand new career, a new uncharted path that can be hard to navigate. How can you be sure you are making the right decisions? Where do you begin? Help advocate for yourself and get a quicker start to your career with these tips:

1. Find the Right Brokerage for You

One of the most important steps you will take when beginning your career is finding the best team to join. The team you enter into will determine the kind of support, training, and mentorship you will receive:

Speak with team members. When looking into a brokerage, speak with the team leaders and other members. Ask them how many deals they've closed in the past year. You'll get insight into whether you'll be busy and productive. A team with low sales volume may not be generating enough business to keep you occupied. Conversely, if they are busy, find out if they have support staff who help handle incoming leads, schedule appointments, or perform other routine tasks.

Negotiate your contract. Getting a brokerage to accept you might be easy, but not all will have the same offerings. Find out the following:

  • How much of your commission will the broker keep?

  • Will you get training?

  • Will you get lead generation support?

  • What are the company's growth goals

Be upfront about your expectations and what you're looking for in a brokerage and don't be afraid to make negotiations – don't settle until you are satisfied with an arrangement.

2. Get Yourself out There.

With so much that needs to get done, it can be hard to know where to begin. One of the most important things you will be doing as a new REALTOR® is getting your name out there and deciding what kind of business you want to run.

Make real estate your priority. Even if your goal is to do this part-time, it's important to start off by putting as much time and energy into it as possible. Take every opportunity you get to network and get your brand out there. When you talk to people, let them know what you do: shameless self-promotion is the name of the game!

Have a plan and set a schedule. Create a schedule that works for you allowing you to allot yourself personal time, lead generation activities, meetings, and anything else in your business plan. Identify your goals and create a routine that will facilitate success!

Brace yourself for failures. Not all deals will go through; not all clients will find their dream home - it's a part of the business. Bouncing back from failure is the secret to your survival, embrace your successes and stay focused on the good.

3. Start Making Money as Soon as Possible

Be proactive and start doing the activities that will ensure you'll be making money as soon as possible. Remember that while you are transitioning into your new career you could be going a few weeks or even months without a paycheque – get the ball rolling as soon as you can:

Avoid time-wasting clients. Ask the right questions to pin-point whether a potential client is motivated or what their motives are for reaching out to you. It's important to nurture leads and offer helpful advice whenever you can, but it's also important to focus your energy on the clients that are the most motivated. If they are side-stepping questions or are unwilling to take steps like consulting with a lender about getting pre-approved, they might be just be looking to find information for other purposes or to test the market.

Remember that working smart is more important than working hard. When you're starting out you might be tempted to try a dozen different strategies, but what strategy is the most effective? Make a plan and focus on what will make you money- should you be canvassing door to door, or perhaps calling on expired listings, instead? Do your research and identify what the most effective strategies have been in the past – remember to pay attention to the situation and use tactics that work best in the market you are dealing with.

Look for 'brushed' leads. Brushed leads are prospective clients who are likely ready to buy or sell. You can identify these prospects by looking for buyers who already have pre-approval letters from the bank or sellers who have recently invested in home repairs – these are signs that they have taken steps to prepare for a transaction. Unbrushed leads are important too, but they are more of a gamble and these people may be noncommittal about buying or selling. It is important to secure a few quick closings early in your career so that you can start making money and earning referrals.

Ready to start your new and exciting career? See what we have to offer.

The Emotional Side of Real Estate: 8 Ways to Better Understand and Support your Clients

March 28, 2018

Buying or selling a home is often the biggest transaction someone will enter into in their lives. As a result, these experiences can be fraught with emotion, but these emotions aren’t always easy to understand. As a REALTOR®, it is expected that you will put your emotions aside so you can put your client’s emotions and desires first. But when their emotions run high, it’s only natural that yours might as well. Here are eight healthy and helpful ways to discuss emotions with your clients to maintain a solid working relationship:

Disappointment: Teaching your clients about the market will help them better deal with unsuccessful offers or a lack of multiple offers on a property. Help them find a price that they won’t regret offering the next day and reassure them that if their best offer isn’t good enough, there are plenty of other options available to them.

Sympathy: This is an important emotion to wield in front of your clients. Even if you have prepared them for tough situations, some clients can get very down on themselves for not being successful in the sale or purchase of a home. Taking time to sit down and acknowledge your clients’ feelings and letting them know that their feelings are valid can provide a great source of comfort to them. It will also give them the much needed encouragement to keep going when they might want to stop house hunting or trying to sell their home.

Apprehension: This is an emotion that is more common amongst homebuyers rather than sellers. These clients can be unsure about a variety of things: how long their commute should be, how much work they should put into the home, the neighbourhood, etc. Instead of letting your clients slowly overwhelm themselves out of buying a house, sit down with them, and step by step explain what each will mean to their future lives and determine what’s most important for them.

Anxiety: Having a house picture-perfect for people to stop by at a moment’s notice for viewings can be very tough when sellers have big families, small children and/or pets. Helping your clients through this process by offering them a list of cleaning services or temporary care of little ones can help ease their minds.

Panic: It can sometimes be easy to forget or overlook the sheer panic a family may have when they have sold their home but haven’t found a replacement yet. They may be worried about not having the time or money to find the perfect new home. Preparing your clients ahead of time and providing them a course of action can easily help alleviate these natural fears.

Anger: There can be many reasons why clients experience anger. They may be having financial hardships, problems at work, personal problems, etc. Checking in emotionally with your clients to make sure that anger isn’t directed at you and that it is most likely a form of fear or panic can help you arrive on the same page together. Everyone has rough times, buying and selling a home doesn’t have to be a part of that.

Empathy: This is the best tool you can use for working with your clients. Getting to really know them as if you were helping a friend will make you go the extra mile in your work - your clients will truly appreciate it. They will be a lot happier to work with you and will be more likely to recommend you to their friends and family. What you put into your work in real estate, you truly get out.

Accomplishment: Some clients are very goal-oriented and can get easily hung up when these goals aren’t easily achieved. Providing them easy and manageable tasks that they can handle day by day will help them from stressing about not selling their house fast enough, or not finding the perfect house to move into. These tasks can be getting pre-approved for a mortgage, finding a stager, etc. Give them small tasks one at a time that fit within their hectic schedules and go at their pace.

Emotions can easily flare up when you least expect it – and that’s okay! Just remember to take deep breaths, keep a calm and professional demeanour and plan for success. Have an action plan for the challenges that may come ahead and don’t be afraid to sit back and try to analyze why a situation panned out the way it did. You might just have an easy solution for it!

5 Ways to use Facebook as a REALTOR® in 2018

March 21, 2018

You've probably been using Facebook for a number of years now and whether you love it or hate it, you'll probably agree that it's necessary for business (especially a business based on connections).

As a REALTOR® you most likely already have a Facebook business Page, and you've probably already noticed that it's harder and harder to get engagement and reach. In fact, right now posts from business Pages reach only about 5 % of their intended audience. As frustrating as it may be, there are ways to work with Facebook and get the most out of the ever-changing platform.

Here are a few tips to ensure that your followers will see what you want them to see:

1. Upload videos directly to Facebook. Facebook is competing against YouTube. Videos that are directly uploaded on to their platform see a “Reach bump” over videos uploaded through YouTube. Facebook's algorithms are constantly changing, in 2016 Facebook-native videos saw a 1000% higher average share rate over YouTube videos.

What videos should you share? Here are a few ideas:

 

  • Create an honest FAQ video. Share common misconceptions, answer questions you think people might be too shy to ask; offer advice and guidance.

  • Show people that you are a local expert. Create a video exploring your favourite neighbourhood. Showcase the schools, businesses, parks and beautiful homes in the area.

  • Do you specialize in helping people downsize? Are you an income property expert? Showcase your specialties by making informative how-to videos that provide value for your followers.

  • Interview professionals in the community - speak with a trusted home inspector, contractor, stager, etc., to offer helpful advice and show off your network.

2. Use Facebook Live. Facebook especially loves live video. Since Facebook wants to compete with Snapchat and YouTube Live (and other live video platforms), they reward live videos more than any other content type. See for yourself – post a Facebook Live video once a week along with your regular posts and compare the engagement and reach. Your live video will most likely have significantly more activity than anything else you post.

As a REALTOR®, you have plenty of opportunities to do live video:

 

  • Do a walkthrough of a home you're selling (answering questions about the property as you go). This is great to do the morning of an open house because you can invite people to come out and meet you.

  • Offer a sneak peek of your exclusive showing before it goes up for sale – show the photographers shooting photos or the stagers adding final touches. This will build anticipation for a future listing.

  • Share behind the scenes footage showing how to stage a home, any challenges and obstacles you're dealing with and the process of setting up for an open house (hey, there are dozens of hit shows about it – people love seeing it!)

  • Share a bit of yourself. Don't forget about personal branding, give people a reason to like and 

  • remember you. Record yourself while you are with your kids or while regular life is happening – it humanizes you and makes you relatable.

  • 3. Show your personality. People use Facebook to connect and find information, if you want to engage with them, show off your personality and be social. Don't be afraid to use humour - if you're able to both entertain and inform, you'll get the shares, comments, and likes that you're after.

    4. Ask questions. An easy way to engage is to simply ask questions. Include posts where you ask for your followers to weigh in on something or ask for recommendations or opinions. Questions can drive interaction up by 10 – 20 per cent. Create posts that facilitate discussion.

    5. Promote your posts, but do so sparingly. Facebook's algorithm has made it harder than ever to have a high organic reach so promotions are often necessary for a business. Put out high quality content and promote only the posts that are time-sensitive or especially important.

    Facebook loves video and original content – curate posts that inform, delight, and entertain. You never know who could become your next client!

     

8 Ways to Improve your Time Management Skills

March 14, 2018

Have you ever wondered why it seems like some people have all the time in the world to do things while others are constantly rushing to get things done? While we may have different work loads, it is much more likely that some of us just use our time more effectively than others.

 

Time management is not a difficult concept, but it's surprisingly hard to do in practice. Here are 8 tips to improve your time management skills today:

 

1. Prioritize your work. Before you start your day, make a list of all the tasks that require your immediate attention. Prioritize these tasks and focus on the ones that are most important to you. You may want to make three lists: work, home, and personal. Keep in mind how much time and energy each task requires.

 

2. Learn to schedule tasks appropriately. Scheduling affects your day, your week, your month, as well as other people and their projects. Most people have specific times in the day when they feel the most or least energetic and become more productive when they schedule themselves accordingly.

 

3. Set Goals and Deadlines. With any task, set a realistic deadline and do your best to stick to it. Challenge yourself to meet deadlines even if there is no reward for doing so. Getting into the habit of completing tasks in a timely manner will help you work through stressful situations in the future.

 

4. Be Self-Aware. No two people work the same way. We all have our own preferences, needs and things that motivate us. Our preferences can affect our work – take the time to observe how and when you do your best work. Any time you perform to a very high standard, take time to identify what happened that allowed you to perform so well. Just as importantly, when you perform poorly, identify what happened to encourage your poor performance. Get to know yourself and tailor your schedule, work environment, and routine to fit your own style.

 

5. Take Breaks. Too much stress takes a toll on the body and affects productivity. Ensure you take breaks through out your day. Whether you go out to a restaurant for lunch, or simply take five minutes for fresh air, a break will help you stay energized and focused. Don't forget to take time off work every once in a while to spend quality time with friends and family, as well.

 

6. Stay Focused. Regardless of what you are trying to do, there will always be something else competing for your attention. Dispel the myth of multitasking – working on one thing at a time is the best way to achieve focus. You can only work on one task at any given moment. Rather than trying to get everything done at once, identify the most important task and block all others out. Remember, focus is the ability to identify the most important task (that you're able to complete at the time) and the ability to block everything else out in order to complete it.

 

7. Delegate tasks. Let's face it, we often put way too much on our plates. This can result in us feeling stressed and burned out. Sometimes we just have to share the load. Delegation is not giving up or running

away from your responsibilities – it is an important function of management. Prioritize your tasks and decide if there's something you can get help with.

 

8. Learn to say no. It's okay to refuse work when you feel like you have too much going on. Politely refuse to accept additional tasks if you feel you are already overloaded with work. Take a look at your 'to do' list before agreeing to take on extra work. Having too much to do will not only stress you out but could potentially affect the quality of your work.

 

Do you have amazing time-management skills? How do you stay organized and focused?

 

 

8 Positive Habits that Make you More Likeable

March 7, 2018

There is a common misconception that people are just naturally likeable - that it comes from innate, unteachable traits. In reality being likeable is under your control and it comes right down to your emotional intelligence!

 

A study in LA had participants rate 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability – can you guess which adjectives were rated the highest? No it wasn't 'gorgeous', 'intelligent', or 'outgoing' (innate qualities). Instead, the top words were 'sincerity', 'transparency', and 'understanding'. These adjectives actually describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence.

 

Research shows that those that possess these skills aren't just really likeable – they also outperform those who don't (possess these skills) by a large margin!

 

So what does it mean to be emotionally intelligent, and how can you learn the behaviours that make you more likeable? Here are 8 things you can start doing today:

 

1. Ask More Questions

Sometimes, we're not the best listeners. Even when we think we're listening, we're often thinking about what we are going to say next or how what the person is saying is going to affect us. When we do this, we fail to hear what's being said. A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. This forces you to actually take in what the other person is saying and get clarification to better understand them. People like to know you're listening and you'll be surprised by how much respect and appreciation you'll gain just by asking simple questions.

 

2. Be Genuine

Being genuine and honest is a key factor to being likeable. People want to be around genuine people because they know they can trust them. It's hard to like someone if they are hard to read and you are unsure how they really feel. Likeable people know who they are and they are comfortable enough in their own skin. Concentrate on what drives you and what makes you happy. By being yourself you become a much more interesting individual. Do what feels right for you, not what you think will make others happy.

 

3. Be Open-Minded

If you want people to like you – you shouldn't pass too much judgment. When you are open-minded, you are approachable and understanding. No one wants to have a conversation with someone when they feel like the person has already formed an opinion. You don't need to believe or condone what someone is doing, but you should wait to pass judgment until you truly understand the situation and the person you are talking with. Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace – approachability means being able to access new ideas and receive help.

 

4. Be Consistent

When people approach you, they like to know how you're going to react. To be consistent, you must be reliable. Ensure that when your mood changes, that it doesn't affect how you treat other people.

 

5. Smile More

People subconsciously mirror the body language of the person they are speaking with. If you want people to like you, smile at them during your conversation and they will return the favour without even knowing it (and feel good as a result).

 

6. Use Touch

When you touch someone during a conversation, you release oxytocin in their brain (a neurotransmitter that makes their brain associate you with trust and other positive feelings). A simple touch on the shoulder, a hug, or friendly handshake is all it takes. Remember, not all people like to be touched, nor is it always appropriate to use touch. Use your good judgment.

 

7. Greet People by Name

Our names are a key part of our identity, it feels good to hear someone speak our name. Research shows that people feel validated when someone refers to them by name during a conversation. Have a hard time remembering names? When introducing yourself to somebody, make eye contact and take notice of their eye colour. Taking that extra second to notice something about them helps you to attach their name to something concrete and increases your chances of remembering it. Saying their name back to them helps with memory, as well.

 

8. Look for shared interests – When it comes to building rapport with someone, look for ways to establish common ground through shared hobbies and interests.

 

Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to look at the people we admire and take note of their positive habits. Think about the people you work with, who would you consider to be likeable? What do they do that sets them apart from the rest?

7 Instagram Tips for REALTORS

February 28, 2018


With over 700 million users pressing the 'like' button on posts about 4.2 billion times per day- Instagram is a social media powerhouse. It's also a great tool for REALTOR®s. Instagram is user-friendly and mainly accessed on mobile devices – making it great for sharing content and interacting with people. With the proper use of Instagram you can increase views, strengthen branding and create conversations. Here are 7 tips to make Instagram work for you and gain the followers and engagement you need: 

1. Share Videos 
Instagram is no longer just about photos - video now accounts for a large percentage of posts. Attention spans are on the decline and we love nothing more than to scroll through and watch entertaining 15-60 second videos on our feeds. Share interesting videos! Do property tours, interviews, DIY tutorials, neighbourhood walks – anything that you think would be of interest to your target audience. Don't have the time to edit a video last minute? Use Flipagram to create short videos with music using your photos or video clips. 

2. Pay Attention to the Insights
Speaking of audience, who is following you on Instagram? Take time to analyze what the Insights are telling you. What is your current Instagram demographic, and why? Is your Instagram audience the same as your target market? Why are some of your posts getting more engagement than others? Take note of what has been working for you and what hasn't and change things based on what people are responding to. 

3. Go 'Behind the Scenes'
Hey, guess what? Real estate is exciting and interesting to people! Think about how many reality tv shows there are about the industry. Between house flipping, home renos and shows about first-time homebuyers – real estate shows account for a good chunk of reality TV air time. Take advantage of this interest by giving people a peek into the life of a REALTOR®. Share videos of you walking through a desirable neighbourhood, post reactions of first-time buyers finding their perfect home and share the renovation process for a house you're flipping. Share posts that showcase who you are and the great work you do. 

4. Simply Take Great Photos
When it comes down to it, quality reigns supreme. Think about how many posts you scroll through in the span of a single minute. Your photos should be colourful, sharp, eye-catching and designed for storytelling. Be honest with yourself – if you're not a good photographer, hire someone that is!

5. Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories offer a variety of engagement opportunities, including the new Poll feature. Instagram's algorithm takes into account all engagement types – so if you post a poll, and you have 100 people weigh in, your posts are more likely to show up in someone's feed. Using live video is also a great tool because your video is automatically bumped up in the Stories feed. Share your day to day activities in your stories and let your audience get to know you! 

6. Post During Active Hours
To increase your chances of engagement, schedule posts when your followers are the most active. Not sure when this is? This post breaks it down. Your business Instagram account will also show you which days and times have the most engagement for you. 

7. Incorporate Instagram Ads
If you have a time-sensitive post about a property you've just listed, or perhaps a contest you're running, Instagram ads are the way to go. Ads ensure that your post will be seen when you want it to be seen. Instagram ads now offer a variety of goals and targeting options. This post explains how they work and how to make the best use of them. 

Instagram is a fantastic tool for REALTOR®s, and if it's done right – it can help generate leads and build your personal brand. Do you use Instagram? What tips do you have? 

8 Ways to be a Better Leader in the Workplace

February 21, 2018

Do you consider yourself to be a leader in your workplace? What leadership qualities do you possess, and did they come naturally to you?

 

Some of us are more adept at leadership than others, but as with all skills, there are ways to improve on this. Here are 8 ways to become a better leader, today:

 

1. Only make promises you can keep. If you say you're going to do something – do it. Leadership is about trust. Be mindful of the promises you make and ensure you can actually do what you set out to do. It's better to under-promise and over-deliver than to give people high hopes and leave them with disappointment.

 

2. It's about collaboration, not power. Leadership comes with power and responsibility. The best leaders use their role to collaborate with others. Position yourself in such a way that you have the time and energy to support the success of those around you. Be humble and share the credit for the things that happen as a team. Business is about people – the people you work with are your most valuable asset.

 

3. Be a good role model. If you hold a certain standard for your employees, make sure you are meeting this standard, yourself. Respect cannot be demanded, it is something that is earned over time. Lead by doing. Share your expertise, support people, and ensure you are mindful of the things you say and do – people are watching.

 

4. Demonstrate accountability. Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results. Take responsibility for your own actions and others will follow suit. Follow through and admit when you make a mistake.

 

5. Pass on the baton. True leaders nurture and mentor others on their team. This means sometimes allowing others to lead. When you allow others to take the lead, you give them a chance to showcase their skills and talent and inspire them to do their best. Don't interfere unless it is absolutely necessary. Empower people by taking their ideas to the next level and giving positive feedback.

 

6. Keep learning. Business is competitive- a great leader is always one step ahead. Learning, growth, and responding to challenges are key. Lead by example and reward others for their accomplishments and desire to learn. Find a mentor and seek advice – always be improving.

 

7. Know your strengths and your limitations. Know what you don't know - be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and find ways to manage them. If there's something you are not good at, get support, acquire the knowledge you need, or simply get someone else to do it. Managing your weaknesses is important, but focusing on your strengths is crucial. Know what you're good at and make use of your natural talents.

 

8. Be accessible and available. Demonstrate good communication skills. Let your team know that they can talk to you. Be approachable, open-minded, and give them your full undivided attention. Connect and spend time with your team on a regular basis – the closer you are with your team, the more valued they will feel.


What makes you a great leader?

The Future of the Office: How Workspaces will look in Ten Years

February 14, 2018

The surge in technological advancements and the boom of the start-up company has undeniably created one of the biggest shake-ups the office has ever seen. Today, we are already seeing massive changes like app-controlled meeting rooms, the use of 3D printers, and the implementation of tall, standing desks in many offices. But what will offices look like in ten years’ time?

 

The Physical Workspace

In the early 2000s we saw a huge rush towards open plan offices which were believed to encourage collaborative work and a more relaxed environment. This was to counter the antiquated and isolated feel many loathed of the 80s style cubicle formation of an office. Today we have learned that it is incredibly important to have hybrid workspaces that have both private and open spaces.

 

The future: Hybrid workspaces will be a combination of enclosed and open workspaces available for users on an as-needed basis. These buildings will be lighter, brighter, and substantially more environmentally friendly than their predecessors. Imagine unassigned workspaces, privacy rooms, focus booths, open project spaces, lounges and dens. Establishing an environment that is welcoming towards both the client and the employee and that constantly fosters a productive mindset.

 

The Remote Workspace

It is predicted that up to 50% of the workforce will work from home in the next 10 years. Employees will have more flexibility and freedom to work from remote locations and have less incentive to go into the office. This makes it that much more important to reimagine the physical office to entice employees to use the space for work. Alternatively, some companies won’t have a physical space at all but purely have remote workers to better service their customer base.

 

The Virtual Workspace

Whether employees are working from home, or a newly-redesigned office, one thing remains the same - they’re probably on a computer. The virtual workspace will get the biggest infrastructure redevelopment in the next ten years. When you work with people from all over the world, how can you develop the same office culture and work relationships as you do with the people sitting next to you at the lunch table? Emphasis will be put on reinventing a virtual space and culture that supports successful team building and personal growth. Offices in the future will also have collaborative robots in the virtual workspace and we need to imagine carefully how they will integrate into the office’s ecosystem in a way that is healthy and ultimately productive.

 

The future of the office will look radically different from most people’s idea of an office today. What changes do you hope to see? What are your predictions?

4 Tips for an Attainable Work-Life Balance

February 7, 2018

Work-life balance: the mythical aspiration we all dream to have. When most of us work well over 50 hours a week we have no time to unwind which inevitably hurts our relationships, health and overall happiness. While the perfect balance is difficult to strike as it differs from person to person, these four tips will help guide you to find out what your optimal work-life balance is:

 

1. Drop Your Perfectionism

Compared to the workplace, being a perfectionist in school was relatively easy. All you had to do was separate your time between school, hobbies, and maybe an after-school job. But the adult world unfortunately is significantly more complicated with ever growing responsibilities. Being a perfectionist in the working world can destroy your mental health, so always make sure you’re doing your best, and striving for excellence rather than perfection.

 

2. Unplug

The advancement of technology has undoubtedly improved the lives of everyone on the planet. We can talk to anyone wherever we want, and research things with a simple click. But those very tools can also be our biggest detriment. For your own health, force yourself to divide your work life from your home life. When you are at your kid’s soccer game, or at family dinner, don’t just turn off your phone - keep it at a distance. Those emails can wait an hour, or longer. It will be incredibly difficult to start at first, but your habit of resilience will develop over time and will make you feel like you have greater control over your happiness.

 

3. Exercise and Meditate

If you can remember to eat and sleep and go to the bathroom every day, you can remember to exercise. Exercise and meditation sound like wonderful superfluous activities to many, but it is one of the best stress reducers available to you. Don’t let it be one of the first things you drop once your schedule gets busy. You can always slot in 5 to 10 minute breathing exercise a few days a week. Find something you can easily integrate in your life – that’s the key to making it stick.

 

4. Break Your Routine

You may not have realized, but your routine might have gotten too much for you. What seemed easy before work can become a lot harder to maintain with a full time job with crazy hours. Cooking yourself dinner every day after work most likely will take a lot energy out of you. Create a meal plan, or if you live with others take turns cooking dinner. But more importantly, when creating your new before and after work routine, focus on the activities that mean the most to you – delegate or outsource everything else.

In order to successfully alter your work-life balance your transition must be gradual. Don’t be afraid that you’re not changing as much as you want overnight because those changes won’t stick. Make sure everything you do has been carefully thought through and easy enough to integrate and maintain in your lifestyle. Day by day, things will get better

Why Improving Company Culture is an Important Leadership Skill

January 31, 2018

We all know that being a good leader doesn’t just mean churning out lots of results and revenue – there are things that are not found on a performance review that establish what makes a good leader great. One of these not-easily-quantified things is a leader’s ability to create and maintain a thriving culture in the office.

 

It’s easy to discredit the word “culture” as simply a buzzword and altogether unimportant in the face of strategy and execution when trying to build a successful company. But we’ve all experienced a team falling apart, and we all appreciate the importance of a good team: that all comes down to culture. Here are five things all good leaders do to take care of their work’s culture.

 

Consider Your Work’s Culture
This may sound silly, but reducing the concept of culture in the workforce as something that is unnecessary or soft is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a workforce leader. Having a culture will help you differentiate yourself from your competition and create a familial personality employees and clients can flock to.

 

Understand what is at the Centre of Your Work’s Culture

Did you know that the word culture has Latin origins? “Cultus” meant “to grow”? When trying to ensure the best culture for your company, realize that it’s not just creating buzzwords that form a personality – it’s about tending to and helping your team on every rung of the ladder. Go beyond giving your team a ping-pong table that’s purely filling up an empty room. Understand what your team needs to help them achieve their goals and grow.

 

Measure Culture
Employees get performance reviews each year - company culture should be reviewed as well. By measuring culture on a yearly basis you’ll be able to notice which implementations worked, and which ones need tweaking. You won’t know how to improve without having a base line, so make sure you take it as seriously as you do those performance reviews!

 

Don’t Reward People Solely On Performance

This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s not. You will always want to reward a top salesperson, but they may actually be the worst team player in your office. A good leader will make sure that profits as well as work ethics and professionalism are rewarded. Look toward people who are living out the core values of the company’s culture the best and make sure they understand their work does not go unnoticed. They may not individually provide the most for the team, but their personality helps fuel and improve everyone else’s output.
 

Follow Through

A huge part of building and maintaining any solid culture in a company is following through. We all know the bitter resentment that comes with being promised something at work and not getting it. No matter the size of your promise, not living up to your words will crush your culture and create a negative environment where the output will rapidly decline.

 

In order to be successful in today’s competitive world, a solid and uplifting culture can set you apart from most competitors and maintain employee satisfaction and retention. How do you improve the culture in your workplace?

8 Ways a Good Employee can become an Exceptional One

January 24, 2018

It’s easy to spot a good employee at the office: they’re hardworking, a great team-member, they’re dependable and proactive and do quality work. But these buzzwords that can often be found on performance reviews can be a bit hard to qualify. Here are eight ways you can shine and get the notice you deserve:

 

1. Always Go Above and Beyond. We’ve all thought or said to ourselves, “this isn’t in my job description” for one reason or another. But going beyond your job description, thinking on your feet and adapting to quickly shifting priorities is exactly what will help you stand out amongst the crowd and sparkle in your office. Don’t be afraid to take that leap!

 

2. Be an Individual. It’s commonly known that when you go to work you have to be your professional self – and often people think that your professional self is different from who you are. Don’t sacrifice your quirks! Different personalities can not only make work more fun but they can help bring new ideas to the table and challenge the status quo.

 

3. Read the Room. Being an individual is great and can definitely make you a leader in the workforce, but in stressful situations being an individual can cause more friction than solutions. Though it’s a tough balance to strike, always try to be aware and considerate so that you know when to dazzle your eccentric personality and when to fit seamlessly into the team.

 

4. Praise Publicly! You love being told by your boss you did a good job – fun fact: so does everyone else! That praise can brighten your whole day so why not do the same to your peers? Speaking up and acknowledging the contributions of others doesn’t impact on your job performance. It means you’re a great team player, you’re able to recognize good work, and you create and maintain a happy, sustainable work environment. There’s literally no downside here.

 

5. Disagree Privately. We understand; sometimes in a meeting tensions can flare and you just want to speak up and bring an issue forward. But the best way to avoid tension is to bring up an issue before or after a meeting so that your disagreement isn’t the main feature of the meeting and everyone’s office talk of the day.

 

6. Speak Up! We’ve all been there before: it may have been a classroom, it may have been a meeting – nobody knows what’s going on and everyone’s too afraid to ask questions. Being an exceptional employee means taking one for the team and asking those questions you might be afraid to ask. This also comes from reading the room where you’re in tune with the environment and can innately feel when to step up and ask questions or raise important issues.

 

7. Drive and Motivation. A good employee is driven to do well at their job simply because they want to do good work. That won’t be enough to get you through the toughest of situations in the office, unfortunately. If you want to be the best of the best you have to have something deeper and more personal – maybe even something to prove. It could be that you are lacking a certain qualification but you know you can do the job just as well, if not, better than those who do possess it. Look inside yourself and see what gets you going every day. Hold onto that and let it be your fuel. 

 

8. Aim for Better. Say your boss hands you a project and sets you a list of steps they want you to follow. A good employee, driven just to do a good job follows the list to the letter. Great employees who have a bit more courage will add a tweak or two. But exceptional employees? They can’t help themselves – they’ll find ways to reinvent processes without expectation. This is part of always going above and beyond – don’t just improve for the sake of improvement. Your individuality can help you look at a situation differently and help your company.

 

At the end of the day, it’s important to be reminded that you were hired by your company because they saw qualities in you that made you stand out from dozens, if not hundreds of other candidates. You have it in you to also stand out amongst the cream of the crop. Hopefully you can add a few of these tips into your toolkit so you can get that promotion, reach that goal, or create the most cohesive team. You can do it!

What are the Costs of Selling a Home? What to Expect When You are Ready to Sell

January 18, 2018

Every home is different and unless you've gone and built your dream home yourself – odds are that there are things you wish you could change. Not everyone is lucky enough to have 12-foot ceilings and 500 square foot rooms, but there are ways to trick the eyes into thinking things are bigger (and better) than they are. Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of your spaces:

 

1. Rooms feel small? Add height to a space:

 

  • Focus on the ceiling – paint the ceiling a matte white and remove crown molding to add height. Alternatively, use wallpaper or paint designs on the ceiling to draw eyes upwards.
  • Large mirrors – large mirrors add scale to a room. Anything that allows the eyes to move upwards (vertical lines, tall mirrors, patterned ceilings) will add to the perception of height.

 

2. Things feel cramped? Make a room appear larger:

 

  • Paint your space bright colours – make a small space appear larger with bright walls and light flooring.
  • Position furniture away from walls – when everything is against the wall, a room can appear cramped. Pull furniture away from the wall at least a few inches.
  • Decorate with larger accent pieces – small decorative pieces can crowd a room, instead find slightly larger pieces and display them in threes. One well-known designer refers to the 'cantaloupe' rule. If a decor piece is smaller than a cantaloupe – it will clutter your space.
  • Use vertical lines - just as vertical lines help increase height on walls, vertical lines on floors or carpets will help to lengthen a room.
  • Utilize mirrors and windows – Keep windows uncovered and strategically place mirrors to create depth and a feeling of spaciousness.

 

3. Don't have an entryway? Fake it:

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  • Create a 'landing strip' – Customize a small shelf, desk, or table to throw keys, mails, gloves, hats, etc. on. This will help to organize clutter and keep things from getting lost.
  • Use paint or pattern – Even if there is no structural division between the space in front of the door and the rest of your home, you can set it apart visually by using paint or pattern on the floor, wall, or ceiling.
  • Enclose the space – You don't need to build a wall, give the entryway an enclosed feel by placing a leafy plant next to the door, using a furniture piece as a divider to guide traffic, or just something that will create a visual cue that this area is set apart from the rest.
  • Low furniture – Trick the eyes and fake height by utilizing low seating and tables paired with strong vertical lines. The lower everything is to the ground, the taller the room will appear.

 

4. Use the 'little walls' in your home: (Little walls are the slender walls, usually two or three feet wide, that are the transition space between two rooms)

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  • Create a message center: If you have a little wall near the kitchen or entryway, create a message center with dry-erase or chalkboard, calendar, and a place to talk on grocery lists or bills.
  • Make a seating area: A slender wall can be utilized by placing a small chair or bench against it. This can be an extra spot to put on your shoes, take a phone call or simply an attractive way to store an extra chair for when you have company over.
  • Do an accent wall – Small walls are easier to decorate and give you an extra opportunity to display more of the things you love. Paint the wall your favourite colour, create a small gallery or use an eccentric wall paper to add interest.
  • Use for storage – These walls can be made functional by adding shelves, creating built-in book cases, or installing hooks. Every bit of storage counts!

 

With a bit of creativity and design know-how, any space can be made brilliant!

6 Ways to Be the Best REALTOR® for Your Homebuyers

January 10, 2018

Buying a home, especially for the first time, is no easy task. A homebuyer is embarking on one of the biggest purchases of their life – and it's you they're counting on. Here are 6 ways to go above and beyond and be the best REALTOR® for your homebuyers:

 

1. Know Your Client’s Potential Neighbourhood(s) Well: While your client will usually do their own research, it’s up to you to be their knight in shining armour. Go through a thorough interview with your client and see what they really want from their home and from their neighbourhood. That way you can look up the best schools, restaurants, transit connections that suit your client’s needs that can be as important as the property itself!

 

2. Negotiate the Home’s Contract: Nothing about a home contract needs to be standard – read it over carefully with your client and see if there are any changes they can benefit from. The best REALTORS® negotiate price as well as the little things that can make a big difference for their clients. Sometimes, even something as simple as getting a seller to throw in the patio furniture is what will set you apart.

 

3. Be Helpful with Home Inspections: Just like REALTORS®, some home inspectors are better than others. In addition to having a great lender and broker in your pocketbook of professionals, throw in the best home inspectors for the areas you sell homes. Between you and your home inspector, you’ll be able to advise your clients whether they need to look for mould, water, lead paint or other tests they might not have thought of. And most importantly, don’t forget to tag along on the home inspection! It will give your clients an extra boost of security and confidence when it comes to buying the home. At the very least, know what goes on in a home inspection - it will give you serious leverage when negotiating the contract and the price for your client!

 

4. Stay in the Loop with the Seller’s Agent and your Client’s Attorney: The key to any solid relationship is communication. Keeping updated means your client can always be in the know. As a REALTOR®, you’re the best qualified person to measure the importance of information – you’ll know who needs to know certain bulletins and when to keep the ball rolling.

 

5. Monitor Your Client’s Loan Commitment: Mortgage mistakes, especially among first-time homebuyers, are all too common. Making sure your clients understand their current credit status and that they need to maintain it is a prudent move as a realtor: it shows you care while protecting your client. It’s all too easy for your client’s financial situation to change so make sure they tell you if they’re making any substantial changes like buying a car or taking a loan. Helping your client getting approved is important, but an outstanding buyer’s agent will help their client protect their approval.
 

6. Stick With your Client Through to the End: As an amazing REALTOR® you’ve held your client’s hand from the beginning when they didn’t know where to look or how much they could afford, through to the negotiation period and helped them to get the best price on their new home. Congratulations! But the cherry on the cake is making sure all the loose ends are tied together so that the closing goes through without a hitch. Standing by your client’s side throughout the entirety of the closing process to provide support and advice will help you stand out and ensure that they would refer you to their family and friends.

 

In this current market, it’s natural for buyers to have high expectations of their agent. They’re about to embark on the biggest purchase of their lives and you’re going to help them achieve that. By doing the above things you can create a great and lasting relationship with your client. Happy new year!

4 High-Tech Home Trends to Watch For in 2018

December 28, 2017

The New Year is just around the corner, here's a look at the home technology and decor trends that will influence the way we see our homes in 2018:

 

1. Robots in the House. It sounds futuristic, but robots have been a part of our homes for years. They may not be the kind of robots we imagined as kids, but they're still powerful machines with ever-expanding capabilities. Our lifestyles are busier than ever- it's no wonder that technologies that allow us to clean, organize and entertain with a touch of a button are here to stay. Here are two 'robots' that will be a favourite in 2018:

 

Smart Vacuums – although the Roomba has been around for quite a few years, robot vacuums and mops are more sophisticated than ever before. The latest models are WiFi enabled and have app controls. Certain models can also mop and sweep - perfect for cleaning up pet messes while you're away from home. You have full control over where the machine cleans, and the best part is - it returns to its charging station after the job is done!

 

Home Assistants – Google Home and Amazon's Echo are examples of smart home assistants. With Google Home you can play music, do quick calculations, translate words, set alarms, check your calendar, control smart home gadgets, order an Uber, and even get information on nearby restaurants and businesses. With the popularization of smart-everything (phones, televisions, thermostats, appliances, etc.), it's no surprise that home 'assistants' are becoming a house staple.

 

2. Smart Glass – The future of windows. Everyone wants a home with a lot of natural light, right? The problem with having a lot of windows is that you end up having higher energy costs and need to invest in window coverings to ensure privacy and UV protection. A new solution is arriving for homes in 2018 - the future of windows lies in smart-tinting glass. Halio is a smart-tinting glass that tints to shades of neutral gray to deliver sun-blocking, anti-glare protection, and privacy. It looks like ordinary glass but it incorporates the latest technology that can be programmed, as well as used on-demand. This all-in-one window solution might serve as a niche product for now, but as technologies advance and more competitors come in, there is no doubt that it will be seen in many homes, everywhere, in the years to come.

 

3. Attractive Kitchens that are Practical and Versatile. Modern kitchens continue to be number one on the list of 'wants' for homebuyers. In 2018, emphasis will be put on dark colours, customization and convenience. People are on the look-out for counter space for prep, antimicrobial surfaces like quartzite and copper, modern appliances and flooring that's easy on the feet. Comfort plays a huge role – kitchens are being outfitted with height-adjustable counters and easy-to-clean surfaces. More high-tech than ever, here are some kitchen technologies we'll see in 2018: A Dialog Oven that cooks with radio waves, and “listens” to the food it cooks, a microwave that can also “blast chill” food and Bosch Vario Style appliances that allow you to swap out colourful panels to match your kitchen and home.

 

4. Black is the new...black. Grey palettes have taken over for quite some time but a more high-contrast

look is making its comeback. After years of off-whites, grays, and beiges, it's time to go a little bolder. In 2018 we'll see sleek black tones in appliances, plumbing fixtures, metal finishes, lighting, and hardware. Black is classic, neutral and sophisticated and is a welcome addition to almost any palette. If you aren't ready to paint your walls black quite yet, try out the trend by painting a door or trim, instead. Incorporating black accents can help make a home appear more modern. Many tech companies and appliance-makers are following suit by offering sleek black finishes in 2018.

 

Where do you think the future of home technologies and decor trends will take us next year? Any of this year's trends you'll be happy to see go? Let us know!

7 Selling Tips to Make you a Sales Superstar

December 20, 2017

Look at a top seller on any team, in any industry – you will probably notice they share a few distinct traits. Amongst having confidence, good people skills, and a lot of energy – they probably also spend a decent amount of time learning.

 

Luckily, selling is not a gift, but rather a skill that can be developed – here are 7 selling tips that will help you become a sales superstar:

 

1. Be informed. Learn everything there is to know about what you are selling – your knowledge adds value to your service. Go to workshops, listen to audiobooks, and find the motivation and information you need to get you to the top.

 

2. Don't fear rejection. Rejection is, unfortunately, a part of any sales job. Not everyone is going to be interested in what you're selling – and that's okay. The key is to remember that sales are a numbers game. Some people are going to say no. Actually, a lot of people are going to say no, but with enough determination, you'll find your YES soon enough.

 

3. Always have prospects. Work on getting as many prospects as you can. The more people you interact with the more likely you are to make a sale. When someone says NO, you say NEXT (maybe not out loud in front of them, but you get the idea). Don't dwell on the NOs, keep your eyes on the prize. Get lead generation help or invest in some online tools if need be – your sales funnel should always be full.

 

4. Get referrals. After closing each sale, get referrals from your clients. It might be a good idea to offer a referral incentive. Check in with your clients periodically – send them holiday cards, birthday wishes, promotional information – the more you connect with them, the easier it will be for you to stay top of mind.

 

5. Show enthusiasm. You don't choose your passion, your passion chooses you. Show potential clients what makes you passionate. Prepare yourself for every meeting and call. Take pride in your appearance – present yourself as successful and important. The more energy and enthusiasm you have, the more confident they will be that you are the right person for the job.

 

6. Know what problems you're solving. Think of yourself as a consultant, rather than a sales person. You are offering something that benefits people; you are solving a problem. A person who is offering grocery delivery isn't just selling a service – they're relieving people's stress and helping them manage their time. Alternatively, someone who is selling pet insurance is offering more than just that; they're offering peace of mind, stress-relief and protection for a beloved family member. Think about what it is that you offer. Put yourself in the position of your clients – what is it that they're struggling with?

 

7. Learn to close. Novels have been written about the art of closing a sale, there is so much to learn! Here are a few points to keep in mind:
 

  • Always present a proposal in writing
  • Communicate clearly and confidently
  • Make eye contact
  • Be prepared with a pen and any necessary documents
  • Keep the mood light and positive. People are more likely to make decisions when they are less serious.
  • Don't be afraid to circle back and reposition negotiations. Ask one more time.
  • Treat everyone as if they are the buyer. They might not be the decision-maker or they may not have the budget, but they have the potential of turning into a buyer.
  • Always smile. Smile while you negotiate, smile while you argue, smile while you close. Successful people are always smiling.

 

What makes you a sales superstar?

 

 

5 Tips to being Happier at Work Today

December 13, 2017

Winter is here and that means shorter days and colder nights, for some it also means having less energy and feeling a little more low than usual. It's important to remind ourselves of the impact of positivity - when we're happy, we're productive and engaging. Feeling happy in the workplace is important too, it ensures we do better work. Here are 5 tips on how to be a little bit happier at work today:

 

1. Smile more. The act of smiling can benefit your health and happiness! When you smile you release neuropeptides – neuropeptides work to relieve stress. Smiling also helps to release dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – these relax your body and lower your heart rate and blood pressure. If that wasn't enough – flashing your pearly-whites also makes you appear more attractive. Studies found that when you smile, people treat you differently – you're viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere. Smiling is also contagious – lift the mood of everyone in your office by coming into work with a big smile on!

 

2. Get cozy in your space. We spend a lot of time at work – make your office your own. You may have limitations on how much you can personalize - work within the realms of what is acceptable. Tailor your space with personalized items and any creature comforts that make you feel good. Buy a quality chair, hang a plant over your desk, and put up that photo that always makes you laugh!

 

3. Make a friend. Friendships in the workplace contribute to the creation of a support system, comradery and loyalty. Those who have friends at work perceive their job to be more fun, enjoyable and satisfying. Refer friends that you know you'd work well with and make the effort to form friendships with the people around you. Why not ask your coworkers to go out for lunch or a coffee? You may have more in common than you think.

 

4. Take that break. Everybody needs some breathing space – without taking time between tasks, we can feel overwhelmed in the face of constant demand. When we don't take a moment to recharge we can lose out on creativity, competency and cheerfulness. Short breaks between tasks will keep you happier. A vacation or weekend trip doesn't hurt, either!

 

5. Do meaningful work. Whether you are setting out to cure a disease or simply make someone's day brighter, doing something meaningful is important. When there is a positive impact to our work, it makes us feel good. When we feel as though our work is meaningful, we are happier and more productive. Remember that your work doesn't have to be monumental to have meaning. As long as what you are doing is aligned with your long term plans and goals - you'll feel satisfied!

 

Are you smiling yet? What do you do at work that makes you happy?

 
 

Home Design Trends to Watch out for in 2018

December 6, 2017

 

It’s December, and 2017 is coming to an end. In just a few weeks we’ll have a new year full of new beginnings, fresh starts, and of course, new home design trends to look forward to! The new year is a time for change and what better way to inspire change than to update and beautify our living spaces. Here are 8 decor trends we think will be popping up everywhere in 2018:

 

1. Colour forecast includes lavender/lilac and olive green. Design experts are predicting that lavender and lilac will be the new 'Millennial Pink' - used to bring out soft tones with deeper accents. These pair well with olive green - a soft shade that mimics nature and helps to create a cozy and warm environment. Yellow, red, and coral are expected to make a bold appearance, too. These colours can be paired with white for a balanced high-contrast look.

 

2. Geometric patterns, specifically circles. Geometric patterns have been popular for years, last year it was triangles, this year it will be circles. Circular graphics will be seen on pillows, wallpaper and incorporated into furniture. Circular mirrors with wooden or metallic frames can be found in just about any home decor store right now.

 

3. Matchy matchy. You don't need to go 'high-contrast' to make a bold statement - you can create interest by painting trim and walls the same colour and even going as far as to matching your furniture to the walls. Seem like a bit much? You can see a good example here.

 

4. Switch up the trim. If matching the trim to walls is not your cup of tea, consider painting walls white or off-white and switching up the trim to a bright colour. It's a different take on the high-contrast look and looks great when done properly.

 

5. Artisan pieces over mass-produced goods. Handmade and one-of-a-kind quality pieces continue to reign supreme. Go bold with artisan light fixtures, wall-hangings, sculptures or funky art prints. Designers are noticing that trends are moving away from minimalistic and allowing more room for personalized and eclectic decor.

 

6. Brass shines the brightest. Of all the metals that have been popular in the last few years, brass seems to be edging its way to the top. Moving away from stainless steel to golden brass tones allows for a warm and subtle look. Brass will be seen incorporated into light fixtures, door handles, kitchen and bathroom accents as well as statement pieces.

 

7. Velvet is back, for now. Design experts are seeing a resurgence in velvet furniture and textiles but are unsure of how long the trend will last. Velvet offers a luxe and old-world look and can easily be incorporate in the form of throw pillows, blankets or bed covers. If you're feeling extra bold, you can always incorporate a modern take on a vintage-style sofa.

8. Bar carts as a statement piece. Beverage carts are making an appearance and are being

used as cocktail accessories or simply to display interesting decor pieces. Vintage carts bring a bit of old world charm while modern carts boast a mix of darker woods and luxe metals.

 

What design trends do you look forward to seeing in 2018? Have any predictions yourself? Let us know!

 

What's for lunch? Planning your Lunch ahead of time can help you Increase Productivity

November 29, 2017

 

We've all heard the analogy that food is fuel, but if that was the case our performance wouldn't be affected by the type of food we eat. Consider when you pump your gas - you aren't typically too concerned about which gas station you're pumping at – as long as it's the grade of fuel your car needs.

 

What if every gas station's fuel gave you different results? Perhaps at one you could go 45 km further on one tank, at another you couldn't go faster than 100 km an hour – would you take more care in choosing a gas station, then? This might be a silly example but it's how we should think about our food (the way we fuel our bodies). Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance.

 

The types of foods we eat (and when we eat them) can affect our mood and energy levels – a poor decision at lunch can derail your whole day:

 

Don't wait until 11:45 to plan for your 12:00 lunch. Think about when you make lunch/eating choices. Is it in the middle of the day when you are already hungry and tired? You are at your lowest point of energy, which means you're also at your lowest point of self-control. We typically go for what is fast and cheap, which unfortunately is usually pretty unhealthy. We know what's good for us, and what isn't, it's just harder to make the right decisions when we're hungry.

 

It's easier to plan to eat healthy, than to make the choice when you're hungry. When we plan healthy meals we tend to stick with them more than if we were to try and make healthy choices while we're hungry. It's easier to resist unhealthy food in the future than it is to resist them in the present.

 

It's hard to concentrate on an empty stomach. Just about everything we eat is converted by our bodies into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we're running low on glucose we have trouble staying focused. Foods like pastas, bread, cereal, and soda release glucose quickly – so you feel energized almost immediately, but crash shortly after. High-fat foods like cheeseburgers or BLTs provide more sustained energy but reduce oxygen levels and end up making you feel groggier because your digestive system needs to work harder. Eating healthier foods throughout the day allows for a more steady glucose intake.

 

The British Journal of Health Psychology found evidence that eating more fruits and vegetables may be linked to increased levels of curiosity and creativity. The study found that young participants that ate more fruits and vegetables felt more creative, more engaged, and reported feeling happier than those that ate less fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that foster the production of dopamine -helping to improve memory and enhance mood.

 

So what can you do to ensure you eat healthy and stay productive during your work day? Every Monday, bring a variety of fruit and vegetables to store in the work fridge for the week. Grab different fruits and vegetables throughout your day and have an assortment of protein bars and almonds at your desk within sight. Spikes and drops in blood sugar are bad for productivity - eating small nutritious snacks throughout the day will help to make sure you don't crash in the middle of an important meeting or call.

Snacking will also help to ensure you're not starving by lunch time – you'll make smarter eating choices when you're not super hungry.

 

We know what's good for us and what isn't - make things easier on yourself by planning the food you eat ahead of time.

Sit down and Exercise: Easy Ways to Exercise while at Work

November 22, 2017

We spend so much of our time sitting; our modern lives allow us to spend most of our time sitting down. Think about your day: you sleep for around 7 hours, sit in you car (or on the bus, train, etc.) to get to work, then you sit at your desk for at least part of your day. You sit to drive, sit to eat, sit to have meetings, etc. All the sitting in your day adds up. Here are a few ways to introduce physical activity into your day...even if you're stuck sitting!

 

First of all, if you need to sit – make sure you are sitting properly. Ensure that your desk chair is the right height. Your feet should be able to be flat on the floor and your knees and hips at a 90 – degree angle. Keep your lower back pressed against the chair to maintain good posture. Avoid forward head posture – make sure one-third of your monitor is above eye level.

 

Stretch at your Desk. Before doing any physical activity, it's important to stretch. Even if you plan on sitting all day – stretching will help improve blood flow and help to prevent aches and pains.

 

1. Neck Stretch.

Sit up straight and drop your right ear to your right shoulder for a few seconds, do the same for the left side. Repeat a few times.

Turn your head to the left and look over your shoulder for a few seconds, do the same on the right.

Drop your chin down to your chest and gently roll your head from left to right.

2. Back Stretch.

Lock your fingers and reach upwards with your palms facing towards the ceiling.

Bring your hands behind your back and press your palms together. Sit up tall and hold for a few seconds.

3. Glutes Stretch.

With a bent knee, lift your right leg up and pull it towards yourself, holding it as close to your chest as you can, hold for a few seconds and do the same with the other leg.

With your right ankle on your left knee, gently press against your right knee a few times. Repeat with other side.

4. Shoulder Stretch.

Raise your shoulders to your ears and hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat a few times.

 

Exercise in the Office. Once you've sufficiently stretched, it's time to take your office workout to the next level. Instead of taking a break to browse through Facebook, use your breaks for these quick exercises:

 

1. Walk, jog, or run – in place! Stand up and start lifting those knees. Want more of a challenge? Bring your knees up to waist-level with every “step”.

2. Chair Squats. Super simple – Stand up from your chair, and sit back down. Repeat 10 times.

3. Wall Sit. Stand with your back against the wall and slowly lower yourself into a seated position – hold for 10-30 seconds at a time.

4. Shoulder Press. Grab something that weighs a few pounds. Perhaps a phone book, or a package of computer paper. Hold the item at shoulder height and raise it all the way over your head – do 10 repetitions, 3 times.

5. Calf Raises. Stand up behind your chair and hold on for support. Raise your heels off the floor and stand on your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor, do 10 repetitions, 3 times.

 

Be more Active Outside the Office. Small changes to our routine can facilitate a healthy and active lifestyle.

 

1. Park Further Away. Instead of being on the look-out for the closest spot, find a spot that inconveniences you just enough to get a minute-long walk or jog into work.

2. Take the Stairs. Unless you work on the 18th floor, taking the stairs is a great way to get a little exercise in. Even if you work high up, you can go up or down a few flights and then take the elevators from there. A quick jog up the stairs can be a great way to increase your heart rate and burn a few calories.

3. Be less Lazy with your Commute. If you rely on public transportation, try getting off the train or bus a few stops away from your usual spot. If you live close enough to work, try walking or riding your bicycle, instead. Anything you can do to help get more steps in during your day!

4. Walk and Talk. If you know you're going to be on the phone for a while, why not go for a walk while you do it? Need to have a meeting? Grab coffees to-go and walk through the neighbourhood together. Exercise improves brain function – you may come up with some amazing ideas during your stroll!

5. Do more things yourself. Instead of asking someone to bring you lunch, head out yourself. Leaving the office and getting some fresh air and exercise can help you have a productive day.

 

The possibilities to increase activity are endless. The most important thing is to be aware of how much time you spend sitting and doing what you can to get up and get yourself moving. Get up from your desk at least once per hour to improve circulation and energy levels. What do you do to ensure you're active during your day? Let us know!

Tips for Marketing to Baby Boomers

November 15, 2017


More than 70% of Baby Boomers own homes and will be looking to make changes sometime soon – ensure you are not missing out on this huge demographic with these tips:

 

What is Generational Marketing? Just what it sounds like – you market to a specific generation of people based on the preferences and attitudes that set them apart from other age groups. It's about tailoring and customizing messages that allow you to reach a particular audience - they must feel you understand and meet their needs.

 

Who are Baby Boomers? Primarily categorized as those born between 1946 and 1964, people born during this time are considered the “me” generation. Emphasis is on self-fulfillment and individualist attitudes. Boomers have a strong reputation for being hard working people who save and spend wisely. They're brand loyal - especially towards brands they grew up with; they make up the largest sectors of consumers.

 

They have money to spend. Compared to those who grew up during the Great Depression, Baby Boomers are quite affluent – they make up 70 % of the country's disposable income.

 

70% want to improve their current living situation. Whether it's upgrades or finding a new place – boomers are looking to make changes. The trend is moving away from a “relaxed” retirement towards active lifestyles surrounded by the latest amenities.

 

Yes, they're tech-savvy. Baby Boomers haven't always had the luxury of online shopping but they love it now. This generation outspends younger adults online, 2:1! Make it easy for Baby Boomers to find you online and reach out to you – place call-to-actions on your marketing materials. User-friendly websites add to the customer service experience – the simpler the better. Ensure you have a FAQ page where common questions are answered.

 

The internet is the most important source of information for Boomers when they make purchasing decisions. 60 % spend time reading blogs and online articles and about 70% enjoy watching videos about products and services.

 

They use social media. Baby Boomers are more likely to use Facebook and Twitter over other platforms and instead of posting about a night out, they are likely posting photos of their children or grandchildren or showing off their latest RV. Boomers are the fastest growing age cohort on Facebook – customized Facebook ads can be a great tool.

 

They're not “old”. First of all, referring to someone as old is disrespectful but it also disregards the way this generation is redefining what it means to age and retire. If you want to appeal to them, don't treat them as though they are old. They want to be encouraged about their accomplishments and their future. Share opportunities and experiences they have to look forward to in the next chapters of their life. They are healthier and more active than their parents. Many are not yet thinking of themselves as an aging population – be mindful to not use terms like 'aging' and 'elderly'.

 

They crave one on one interactions. Providing exceptional customer service is the key to winning this generation over. As many Baby Boomers enter retirement, they are faced with more free time and potentially less social interactions. A little extra effort can go a long way. Take the time to build rapport - write a personalized email, make a phone call, invite them to meet you over a cup of coffee. In order to build loyalty and trust, make sure you can provide what you promise. It's better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around.

7 Reasons REALTORs® should Think like CEOs

November 8, 2017

CEOs exude power, confidence, and success. CEOs are at the top of their company and you, as a REALTOR® are, or can be, at the top of yours. Here are 7 ways that thinking like a CEO and treating your career like a business can help you on your path to success:

 

1. CEOs take Calculated Risks. Risk taking is essential to personal and professional success. Whether it's taking on a client that you aren't sure you are ready for, or doing something a differently when you think there is a better way. Without risks, you are destined to have a mediocre business.

 

2. CEOs Embrace setbacks. Instead of giving in because things didn't go as planned, step back and analyze the situation. Put together a new plan to continue to move forward and remember you might have to adjust your goal.

 

3. CEOs delegate Tasks. You are not just selling homes- you're running a business. You know that you can't do everything on your own. Even if you aren't able to now, one day soon, you'll be in a place where you are able to delegate non-essential functions to other people. Think about your own skills (or lack thereof) and decide where you could use assistance. Consider what takes up the most of your time, could some of this work be outsourced?

 

4. CEOs hold Employees and Companies Accountable. Delegating is one thing, creating a system to hold people accountable, is another. By staying on top of the people and companies you do business with, you remove unnecessary expenses, services, and personnel. Keeping up to date and tracking numbers will help to hold people accountable and ensure they are performing.

 

5. CEOs Crunch the Numbers. The concept of profits and losses might sound simple, but a surprising amount of people are actually clueless about it. Do you know how much you retain for every dollar you earn? How about your marketing costs per listings? It's crucial to understand and keep track of basic data to see where your money goes and to make necessary changes in spending.

 

6. CEOs Implement Budgets. Does your office have a marketing plan or a set budget? An annual budget helps forecast income and expenditure. A budget also acts as a tool to aid decision making and helps to monitor business performance. Make a plan and review your spending quarterly; see what works and what doesn't.

 

7. CEOs Collect Data. Collecting data allows you to assess the effectiveness of your spending. For example, if for a year you have been paying $500 monthly to have your advertisement in a magazine and you have only closed one deal off of it for $4,000 – it may be time to reassess where your marketing dollars are going.

Being a successful REALTOR® means being the CEO of a business in a competitive and fast-paced industry. Stay ahead of the curve and make the best use of your time and resources. It might be more work but staying on top of the important stuff will help to keep your profits high and your expenses low. You are accountable for your own success!

Organize your Workspace Today

November 1, 2017

Where you work greatly impacts how you work. Working in a cluttered or unorganized office can affect your work habits in a negative way. It's hard to concentrate and be productive when things are messy or chaotic. A proper desk and workspace can provide a feeling of control and competence and help to increase productivity levels. Designing and organizing your space doesn't have to be difficult -keep these points in mind:

 

Being clutter-free doesn't have to be hard.

 

Create a 'catch-it' space to catch incoming items before they enter your actual workspace. The three main kinds of items that flow into an office are 1) important documents, 2) stuff you need to keep (jacket, travel mug, umbrella), and 3) garbage. Placed near the entrance of your office, a catch-it space should have a tray for documents, a shelf or set of hooks and a trash can. This way stuff gets organized before it even enters your space.

Ensure that your recycling bin and garbage are big enough – nothing worse than trashcan overflow!

Have two document trays on your desk. One tray should hold new documents and one should hold old documents (things you've opened and looked at, that you need to deal with). This is a simple approach but helps to eliminate paper clutter.

 

Decide what you need to have in front of you.

 

Unless you use it regularly, you don't need to have it out. Avoid clutter by keeping only necessary items within view.

It might be tempting to place your favourite family photos, souvenirs, or collectibles on your desk (we get positive feelings when we look at them, right​​?), but organizers suggest that we shouldn't display more than three personal items. Our eyes take in everything in front of us and our brain processes it – even if we don't realize it. The more stuff we have to look at, the more distracted we become.

Think about your daily routine – do you get up from your desk to grab the same thing four times a day? Having a clutter-free space is important but your most-used supplies should always be in reach. Getting up even once a day to grab a pencil or paper clip is taking your attention away from your work – it takes effort to re-center and get back into whatever you were doing.

 

 

Get your layout right and find the perfect spot for everything.

 

Whether it's your laptop or your desktop monitor – screens should be in front of you at eye-level and about 17-inches from your body.

Frequently-used item, like the phone, or a pen and notepad, should be kept on your dominant side to avoid having to reach across yourself.

Items that you use on a daily basis can go on your desk, while items that are used one or two

times a week can go in a drawer or cabinet under or to the side of your desk.

Ensure your desk is positioned in the best spot within your space. Find a spot with minimal foot traffic and as little noise as possible. If you're able to, position yourself near a window – it's always nice to be able to look outside and being able to feel the sun's rays can do good for your mood, as well.

 

 

We all have different habits and ways we like to do things. Your space should be suited to your unique needs. Think about your habits (good or bad), how can you organize your space to make life easier for yourself? For example, if you find you need to stand up and stretch often, consider using a height-adjustable desk that you can stand in front of when you get restless. Alternatively, if you find you consistently misplace paperwork or mix-up files, you might want to reconsider your filing system. Updating your workspace can help you to reach optimal productivity. What kind of changes do you think your space needs?

4 Easy Lunches you Can Bring to Work

October 25, 2017

We all have those days where we barely have enough time to sip our coffee – let alone eat a nutritious meal. We've all been guilty of skipping lunch or eating junk because we don't have time to go and get proper food – some days, we just feel too busy! Make life a little easier for yourself and ensure you have the proper nutrients to fuel your day by doing some easy lunch prep in advance:

 

1. Pasta Salads - Easy to Eat and Require no Heat. Pasta salads are great because they're quick to make and easy to change up. From pesto, to tomato feta, to a greek pasta salad – the options are endless and you can include whatever veggies you have in your fridge. These make the perfect work lunch because they are easy to pack up and can be stored in your fridge for days. Here are a few tasty recipes.

 

2. The Lunch Staple – A Spin on the Classic Sandwich. Sandwiches are one of the easiest lunches you can bring to work. Simple to make and easy to eat. Put together your sandwich at home before you leave, or bring your favourite ingredients and prepare it at work. The latter ensures your sandwich is fresh and your bread isn't soggy! Sandwiches don't have to be boring – next time you are at the grocery store, try out different types of cheese, deli meats, leafy greens or spreads! The Food Network offers these sandwich-making tips. If you want even more variety, swap out your bread for a croissant, pita, crepe or even rice crackers!

 

3. Prepping for a Week's Worth of Delicious Salads. Even the healthiest of salads can be flavorful and filling. Whether it's your meal, or a side dish – preparing a week's worth of salads is easy. Choose your favourite greens, wash, dry and portion them in individual containers. Choose a variety of toppings and prepare and pack those in individual containers, as well. Toppings can include hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, apple slices, avocado, dried cranberries – the sky is the limit. After you have your greens and toppings packaged, prepare some dressings in small containers. Every morning before work, grab a container of leafy greens, sprinkle a few toppings of your choosing and grab a dressing container. When you get to work, simply drizzle your dressing, close your salad container and give it a good shake – voila! Fresh salad on the go. Here are some tips on preparing a week's worth of salads.

 

4. Skip the Starbucks and Make your Own Bistro Box. Many coffee shops sell delicious bistro boxes, save some cash and make your own at home! These boxes are great because they're completely customizable - they're easy to prep and eat and you can make them a few days in advance. A bistro box can be anything you want it to be. Make a sandwich/wrap/salad and pick your favourite fruits, vegetables, and proteins - packaging them in containers for a quick on-the-go lunch. Here is a great bistro box recipe.

 

You won't always have the luxury of taking an hour for lunch (or even have the luxury of eating at a table, some days), these mess-free, easy-to-prepare lunches will save you during your busiest days!

5 Important Website Tips for REALTORS®

October 18, 2017

Picture this: You're browsing the internet, looking for information about dog kennels in your area. You click on a site and after 10 seconds of loading, loud music starts playing, a sign-up window pops up the size of your screen and a video of dogs barking begins in the background. You close the pop-up ad, turn your volume off and stop the video...only to have to navigate through three pages to find a contact number...

 

Sounds like a disaster, right? Although this is an extreme example, many of us are guilty of one or more of these website no-no's. Here are a few tips to ensure that your website is user-friendly and keeps visitors coming back:


1. Use pop-ups with caution. Avoid turning potential clients off by bombarding them with ads or audio and video within seconds of them opening your site. Let your website sell itself. If people like what they see, they will contact you or sign up for email alerts themselves. They should know exactly where to go – make it as easy as possible. After a few minutes, a little nudge might be helpful. Something like a sign up window that pops up in the corner is okay once someone has been on your site for a couple of minutes. Remember, it takes time for people to decide if they like what they see. Give visitors a few minutes before asking them to sign up for anything.

 

2. Make sure it's fast. The more information you have on your website, the greater the risk for slow-loading pages. According to one report, if your page takes more than 5 seconds to load, visitors are likely to leave it. Remember that high resolution images and videos will take longer to load – ensure that your website can handle it. We generally have short attention spans when it comes to browsing the internet – make sure your site is fast and easy to navigate. If you have videos on your home page, make them short and sweet, allowing visitors to click through to watch more.

 

3. Have quality content. Your website should have a regularly-updated blog. A blog not only offers visitors valuable information - it positions you as a knowledgeable leader in your field. Think about who your target audience is – your content should be relevant and timely, catering to their interests. If you're able to create a dialogue through your articles – you're doing it right. Posting unique content also ranks your site higher in Google searches and when people share your content, you increase your reach and increase traffic to your site. Other types of useful content: white papers, step-by-step guides, how-to videos and links to helpful resources.

 

4. Provide lots of information. People are visiting your site because they are looking for something. There will be first-time homebuyers and sellers looking to educate themselves. The more information you provide, the more valuable your website becomes. Apart from your blog, a FAQ page or a page specifically for newbies might be helpful. As a REALTOR®, you might take for granted that many of your clients know what industry terms mean, but it's important to remember that many do not. Having an encyclopedia of terms as well as a 'Real Estate 101' type page can help your visitors feel more confident about contacting you. The more they know, the more comfortable they will feel about moving forward.
 

5. Make it attractive. Your website should be sleek and easy to navigate. Use an appropriate colour scheme and keep things simple – avoiding ads at all costs. Content should be easy to find and the most important information should be found right on your home page. Remember that many people will be visiting on their phones or tablets – so being mobile-friendly is a must! Over 90 per cent of people search for their real estate needs online, make sure they like what they see.

 

Your website is a representation of you. Take the time to make it as beautiful and functional as possible -without overwhelming your visitors!

 

How to Meditate at Work

October 10, 2017

It’s easy to discount meditation full stop, let alone in an office. You can complain that you haven’t any time to go to the bathroom, let alone find time to meditate. You can argue that you couldn’t possibly pause all the chaotically running thoughts in your mind for that long. But meditation isn’t always the stereotypical pose most people have in their heads with someone sitting cross-legged, humming “omm” out loud. Meditation is about thinking quietly, not clearing your mind altogether. And with this article you’ll see you can do it anywhere in the office

 

Focus on the little things you do every day between tasks: walking to your next meeting, going to the bathroom, copying or faxing documents. These are all places where you can spend time thinking quietly and meditate, which can easily improve your productivity levels at work.

 

Meditation can be as easy as drinking water. First off, you need to be drinking a lot of water every day anyways. It’s not just enough that you need it to live, but the correct amount lets you live optimally. But as a form of meditation, water, as an Earth element, can help you feel calmer as it replenishes and cleanses you. As you take a sip of your water, recognise that you are so fortunate to have clean drinking water at your disposal that is helping to nourish and care for your body. Stopping for a moment to show gratitude for the gift of health is a great form of meditation.

 

Bathrooms are the perfect meditation oasis. Imagine yourself in a very tense or very boring meeting (perhaps even both). All you want to do is get away. Chances are, you’ve thought about going to the bathroom, perhaps you might have even faked needing to go to the bathroom just to go away for a couple of minutes. That in and of itself is meditation. Taking 5 minutes to disappear to a different environment to cleanse your mind, to think only about washing your hands, is a great way to restart your brain and give you the strength to get back in that meeting and succeed.

 

Adding nature to your office can help ground you. Plants, another Earth element, let us immerse ourselves entirely when in its presence. Bring in a potted plant, a beta fish or even a rock garden if you really want low maintenance at work. Your day can be lightened so much just by picking up a rock every day or watering your plants and taking 30 seconds to just feel gratitude toward the beautiful things you have in your life.

 

Slowly, but surely, all the hogwash you might have thought about meditation will come to make sense. When you allow yourself to feel happy even in the most frustrating of moments, you keep the window of success open for your future. So enjoy that minute you give yourself every day to think about your talents and your gratitude, and kick butt!

Taking a Course? Remember these Study Tips

October 4, 2017

 

In the world of real estate, there’s always opportunities to develop skills, gain experience, and get new certifications. Learning is a big part of the job. This means classes, reading material, and often times, exams. If the idea of taking a test stresses you out, here are some study tips to help you succeed:

 

Spaced Repetition
We all know cramming doesn’t work. What especially doesn’t work is trying to learn a large amount of information in one sitting. Break up your study material into small chunks (half an hour, for example) and review them consistently over a long period of time. The more you review, the more it will stay inside your brain. This can also mean that you don’t have to study one topic all day long. If something gets too hard or confusing, just switch it up with another small chunk so that you can better process it.

 

Stories and Mnemonic Devices
Creating a narrative or a story of the information you collect is one of the best ways to remember the information. You’re creating connections that help your brain remember the information better, even if the story doesn’t make sense. That’s also why mnemonic devices work, for example MVEMJSNP – My (Mercury) Very (Venus) Energetic (Earth) Mother (Mars) Just (Jupiter) Served (Saturn) Us (Uranus) Nine (Neptune) Pizzas (Pluto) can help you remember the order of the planets in our solar system.

 

Change Your Environment

Have you ever found a good study space, only to realise that after a while you’re not obtaining as much information as possible? It’s not you, it’s the space! Your brain can get complacent with too much studying in one space so make sure that on a semi-regular basis you switch it up from coffee shops to libraries, to home, to other places you find that work for you. New places force us to create new associations in our brain which means there’s a higher chance of you creating stronger memories of the stuff you’re learning.

 

Exercise

Exercise helps you get stronger physically and mentally. The endorphins you get and the energy you put into your workouts will help you focus and concentrate better (sometimes better than a coffee).

 

Study Music

Some people prefer to study in silence – not everyone can improve their concentration listening to voices or songs while studying. But if you find that you’ve tried the above tips and they don’t work, try listening to some music. Some people

like top 40s, but most people show improved concentration when they listen to classical. So, you may not be a fan, but Mozart might help you study!

 

Get Off The Internet

It’s a plain truth that in today’s society we are constantly surrounded by distractions and most of them are internet-related. We think to ourselves, “it’s just one Facebook notification, that won’t take up more than a minute” and half an hour later you’ve gone through your entire Instagram and are somehow on YouTube. Do yourself a favour and get a self-control app or study where there is no internet connection.

 

Scents Make Sense

A lot of students get very stressed when studying and struggle to study because of the stress. Lighting a candle, having a diffuser in the room, or even having a bottle of essential oils handy can help you calm down and focus a lot more on studying. Lavender is a calming smell and will help clear your mind so only the important stuff goes in, and none of the stress.

 

Exams and new learning material can be daunting no matter how you spin it. Get yourself in the right mind frame and establish a productive work environment that works for you. It might not always be easy, but learning is always worth it!

6 Creative Ways to Network and Market Yourself as a REALTOR®

September 27, 2017

As a REALTOR®, it's important for you to get your name out there and talk to people. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out a way to do just that. Here are 6 simple, yet effective, ways to be active in your community and let people know who you are:

 

1. Plan a community event. If done properly, even a small-scale event can generate dozens of leads, position you as an active member (even leader) in the community, and get your name seen and heard far and wide. Planning a successful event takes time and resources – it's not for the faint of heart. Take a look at a current event calendar in your community – is there something you think is missing? Team up with your brokerage, or get together with family and friends to coordinate an event that your community will remember.

 

2. Sponsor a local team or event. It's easy to find sports teams, dance groups, charities, etc., that are looking for sponsorship. If there is a cause close to your heart, or a local sports team you are particularly fond of – consider becoming a sponsor. Before deciding on being involved, ensure you know what your sponsor package includes and what kind of exposure you can stand to gain. Sponsorship can help you get your name out there and support people in your community.

 

3. Join online discussions and groups. Join Facebook groups centered around your community or town. Even if these groups are not real estate related, stay active and join discussions. One second you may be talking about vintage cameras, football or local cafes – the next, the conversation can turn to real estate. Before you know it, you may get the opportunity to offer advice or share a story and let people know a little bit more about you. Be genuine, helpful and actively involved – you might be surprised who will private message you for help. Keep an eye out for new home buying/rental groups and ask around to see what groups your friends are members of.

 

4. Leave your business card everywhere. You already know that you should never leave home without a few business cards, but why not make it a goal to come back home with none? Do you have a cafe you frequent everyday? Ask to leave your business cards by the cash. Leave a card at the bank, at the gym, at the library – wherever! Many restaurants, bars and coffee shops have community boards that you can pin your card to. Better yet, create an attractive poster and hang it up at these places.

 

5. Host an information session. Host a free informational meetup at a local cafe or community center. You can keep it general and offer people the opportunity to ask questions – no strings attached, or have a specific theme. For example, host a 45 session for first time homebuyers or a Q & A for those interested in investment properties. Give advice, network, and have a good discussion over coffee. Give valuable advice without the hard sell – your generosity and expertise won't go unnoticed.

 

6. Publish an article. Write an interesting and informative article about your neighbourhood, local housing market, home renovations, whatever! Contact local newspapers and magazines to see what kind of pieces they are looking for. Is there a local blog that is respected in your community? Ask to be a guest writer. Writing is great for exposure and it positions you as a knowledgeable leader in the industry.

Last but not least - network, network, network. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing - ensure that people know who you are and what you do! Show people that you care and genuinely love your job.

Marketing to Millennials

September 20th, 2017

Marketing properties to millennials may appear daunting to those who have strong experience catering to other generations. Yet, at the end of the day, millennials are generally first-time homebuyers and should be treated as such. Here are some tips to better market yourself to millennials and first time homebuyers in general:

 

Set The Communication Tone – Right at the beginning of communicating with your new potential clients, ask them how they prefer to be contacted. Some millennials may still prefer phone calls, but others would prefer to exclusively text. Also mention which hours you will be checking your phone – you may say they can text you anytime, but you might not be ready to respond to a dozen texts at 2 am about a house they just found. Set the tone from the beginning and everything should be smooth sailing.

 

Millennials Are Smarter Than You Think – We’ve all heard the shtick that millennials spend absurd amounts of money on avocado toast and that they’re poor at money management. On the contrary, millennials are very careful with their money and as a result, are arguably the most informed consumer generation to face marketing professionals. If you want to grab their attention you will need to have a very well-designed website. Cater it to first-time homebuyers (which millennials will most likely be), include a list of frequently asked questions or use your website to host webinars that allow you to stream or even directly interact with your potential clients.

 

Be As Accessible As Possible – You’re well on your way if you have an established online presence using the tips above, but you want to make sure you provide all the necessary tools to clients who enjoy doing massive amounts of research before going ahead with the largest purchase they’ll make next to their education. Provide them links to apps that will help them house hunt such as Realtor.com (unless you have your own branded app), a mortgage calculator, a staging app, etc. To go the extra mile for your clients, buy the app for them if it comes with a cost – small gestures will go a long way. In addition, any documents that can be scanned and provided online in one forum such as Google Drive should be placed there. This can make interactions with millennials a lot faster, but also more comfortable for them as they have all the information they need in one place. If you want to create your own checklists or spreadsheets for them that create a personal touch to the home-buying process this will make you all the more appealing to millennial homebuyers.

 

Tailor Your Social Media Presence – Millennials will appreciate that you post your listings on your Facebook or Twitter, but chances are they already know that you are selling those properties. Rather, try to create a conversation with your clients through your social media by telling them about a couple that looked for the perfect house for a year and finally found the one they wanted. Show millennials information about the city and neighbourhoods that you are selling – where you would like to go running, cool coffee shops, or where the worst traffic is. Be as personal as you can to foster relationships with your target audience.

 

Stand Out – When millennials spend all their time researching, they will pick up on patterns very easily. They will see the same few shots of a house with certain descriptions. Get creative and take drone shots (or videos!) of the house and the surrounding neighbourhood. Make a virtual reality video or allow your clients to “test drive” a house using Airbnb or a similar app. Your attention to detail will make a lasting impact.

 

When it comes down to brass tacks, all first-time homebuyers want the same things: stability, safety and a solid financial investment. They need and will benefit greatly from your help, and hopefully this list will help adjust your toolkit to better cater to them.

 

8 Tips to Improve your Focus Today

September 13, 2017

With so many things vying for our attention at all hours of the day, it's easy to get a little...distracted.

 

Studies show that people have about an 8 second attention span (less than that of a goldfish!). This has shrunk due to digital connectedness; our brains are always seeking what's new, what's next. Focus (or lack thereof) is linked to our survival as a species; we need to be able to focus on what's important, generally, that means focusing on what's moving. This skill hasn't changed – it's just moved online now. Unfortunately for us, there is always something 'moving' so here are a few tips to get focused and stay focused:

 

1. Prepare your mind and body. About to do something that requires your undivided attention? Relax your mind and body; do a few stretches, clear your head, listen to enjoyable music or go for a brisk walk. This will help prepare your body for the focus you require.

 

2. Plan ahead. Consider what needs to get accomplished and ensure you can dedicate enough time and energy to each task. Developing a routine and assigning blocks of time for different work will help you understand where your attention needs to go.

 

3. Log out. Disconnect - get rid of the distractions you can control. Limit your distractions by logging out of email and social media and putting notifications on silent. When we're listening/looking out for new notifications or messages it interrupts our thought process and gives us an excuse to switch focus.

 

4. Break it up. We lose focus over time - taking a short break in the middle of a long task helps to re-engage your brain. Brief mental breaks are important to keep us focused, they allow us to detach and return with fresh eyes.

 

5. Do one thing at a time. Don't fall into the 'multi-tasking' trap. Your brain's reward circuit lights up when you multi-task (it feels good), but your IQ actually drops when you do multiple things at once. If you want to do something right, give it your full attention. Distraction becomes a habit, slow down and give yourself more than enough time to accomplish your tasks.

 

6. Do important tasks right away. People tend to focus better in the early morning. Start your day with the hardest or most creative tasks. It might be tempting to get the easy stuff out of the way first, but our energy drains and focus diminishes as the day goes on. Put the time in while you are energetic and sharp.

 

7. Grab that coffee. Caffeine is connected to cognition. It can't improve memory or learning but it does increase physiological arousal and makes you less likely to get distracted. So if you catch yourself daydreaming mid-day – consider grabbing a cup of joe.

 

8. Adjust your environment. Our environment plays a big role in how well we're able to focus. Think about the sounds, light, temperature, and visual distractions in your current environment – can you focus well here? Background music and ambient noise can be helpful but intrusive sounds can distract you.
 

Ensure your workspace is comfortable too, proper lighting and temperature is important. Researchers found that people are most productive when their workspace is between 20 – 25 degrees Celsius, with the 'magic' temperature being 21.6 degrees Celsius.

Use techniques and measures that help limit your distractions and keep you on track. Take breaks, reward yourself, and establish a productive environment. Remember that with practice, you can improve your focus – it's like a muscle, it can be trained!

9 Success Tips for New or Aspiring REALTORS®

September 6, 2017
 

Are you a new REALTOR®, or aspiring to be one? Entering the world of real estate can be equally exciting and intimidating. There is so much to consider! Success is not achieved by one single thing alone, it's a culmination of preparation, education, personal skills and a solid attitude. Think you have what it takes? Here are 9 tips to start you on your path to success:

 

1. Be financially prepared. A career in real estate has the potential to be very lucrative, but don't expect to be hitting the jackpot right away. Like with anything, success takes time and work. Leave financial stress out of the equation by starting your new career with savings or part-time work that you can depend on. Understand the costs of starting your new career path (signage, office fees, marketing expenses, etc.) and take into account that it could be a few months before the first glorious commission comes through.

 

2. Have realistic expectations. Don't let yourself get discouraged! Remember that it will take time for you to learn the ins and outs and gain experience. Be prepared for your only clients to be friends and family in the first little while. Treat them professionally - this is your time to gain experience and credibility.

 

3. Join a top-notch brokerage. Finding capable mentors and connecting with established REALTORS® will help you get the support and exposure you need. When choosing a brokerage, find out what training is offered, what their expenses are, and how accessible management is. There's a lot you'll learn on your own before joining a brokerage but the assistance and education you'll receive afterwards is priceless.

 

4. Develop a web presence. If you aren't online, where are you? Over 90 per cent of home buyers begin their search for a home online. Create a professional website and be active on your social media accounts. Put yourself out there - make sure you are easy to find and that you and your branding are recognizable.

 

5. Do the dirty work. It might be tempting to pick and choose what jobs you want right away, but it's more important to put the work in and gain experience. Turning down less desirable commissions is a luxury that will be earned with time.

 

6. Remember that everyone is a potential client. The average homeowner moves every 5 years. You'll meet people that don't need a REALTOR® right now, but they may need one soon. Remember people and ensure they remember you. Make the effort to check in with people, send holiday cards, attend events - do what you can to be present in your community and social groups. Networking is one of the most important jobs you'll have. Take every single opportunity to let people know who you are and what you do.

 

7. Treat past clients like current clients. Just because your clients signed on the dotted line - it doesn't mean your relationship with them is over. Maintaining a connection will ensure you're in their minds for their next move or when they have family and friends ready to make a change.
 

8. Be a 'one stop shop'. Have contacts for your clients on hand. Make connections with real estate lawyers, home inspectors, mortgage brokers, etc. Send your clients to the people you know and trust. This is an easy way to add value for your clients and ensure that these professionals keep you in mind, as well.

 

9. Educate yourself. Learn. Learn. Learn. The more you know, the more confident people will be in your abilities. Go above and beyond the basics. Study mortgage rates, mortgage qualifying tactics, learn about home renos, know the basics of how utilities work or have minor plumbing and electrical know-how. The more you know, the more valuable your services become.

 

Last but not least, be confident. Be confident in your abilities and take pride in yourself. Show people that you appreciate their business and that you love what you do! Real estate might not always be easy, but with the right attitude and work ethic, it can be an extremely satisfying and profitable career.

 

Why your Attitude is Important for Success

August 30, 2017
What do you think is more important for success – a positive attitude, or a high IQ? Are naturally gifted people more likely to find success than their less talented counterparts?

 

According to new research, your attitude is actually a better predictor of success than your IQ. If you don't have an aptitude for something, get the right attitude:

 

There are two types of core attitudes, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

 

The fixed mindset: The belief that you are who you are – you can not change. Problems arise when you're challenged; anything that feels like more than you can handle makes you feel overwhelmed.

 

The growth mindset: The belief that you can improve with effort - you embrace challenges and treat them as opportunities. Those with a growth mindset outperform those with a fixed one, even if they have a lower IQ.

 

With a fixed mindset you avoid challenges, give up easily, and see your efforts as fruitless; you have a hard time accepting negative feedback, even if it's constructive. With a growth mindset you have a desire to learn, you tend to embrace challenges, persist during setbacks and feel that effort leads to mastery.

 

Although ability inspires confidence, it only seems to last while the going is easy. The deciding factor for success is how you handle setbacks and challenges. Success in life is all about how you deal with failure. Failure is information – if something doesn't work, problem solve and try something different.

 

Regardless of which mindset you identify with most, you can make changes and develop. Fine-tune your mindset and help make it as growth oriented as possible with these tips:

 

Be passionate. Pursue your passions relentlessly. There will always be people more naturally talented than you, but you can make up for it with passion. Decide on what you are most passionate about and pursue it with conviction.

 

Don't succumb to helplessness. We will all have moments where we feel helpless, what matters is how we react to this feeling. Some of the most successful people on the planet would have never made it if they had succumbed to the feeling of helplessness. People like Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, and Steven Spielberg wouldn't have found success if they hadn't overcome huge obstacles in the beginning of their careers. They didn't succumb to rejection and were able to maintain hope. It was their growth mindset that allowed them to see their failures as opportunities.

 

Start doing. The only way to overcome fears is to take action. There's never a truly perfect moment to move forward, so why wait? Turn your worry and concern about failure into positive focused energy by going for it.

Go the extra mile. Give it your all, even on the bad days. Strive for growth and improvement and push yourself a little more every day. Make it a point to be challenged on a regular basis, don't let things get too easy. Do better, be better.

 

Feel like you are stuck with a fixed mindset? Challenge yourself to see things differently, you may surprise yourself!

8 Tips for Writing Effective Workplace Emails

August 23, 2017

Writing effective work emails seems like a no-brainer, right? It's something we do every day – we could probably do it with our eyes closed.

 

The problem is, though, that when we're used to doing a task all the time - it can be easy for us to develop bad habits. Communicating effectively is crucial for productivity and it's usually a skill that we never stop improving on. Fine tune your email writing skills with these reminders:

 

1. Have a good subject line. Your subject line should grab attention, be specific, and summarize the main idea of your email. Avoid capitalizing entire words or using exclamation marks – these can come off as aggressive or 'spam-like'.

 

2. Be clear. Collect and organize your thoughts before drafting an email – keep your message clear and brief. Avoid ambiguity -use language that is easy to understand with proper sentence structure, spelling and grammar. Reading and writing unclear, misleading, or ineffective emails wastes time and hinders productivity.

 

3. Keep it structured. Make it easy on your recipients – always use formal salutations, state the purpose of your email, and provide context. Use paragraphs to group related points and separate differing ones. It's much easier to understand an email when the message is logically presented.

 

4. Keep it to the point. The length of your email is important, too. Keep things short and sweet – most people aren't overly interested in reading lengthy and tedious emails. If you want your reader to retain what you send, don't overwhelm them with unnecessary details or irrelevant information.

 

5. Be mindful of your tone. Emails should be fairly formal – be polite, choose your words carefully and use proper punctuation. Your emails are a reflection of your professionalism. Whether it's a client, or a coworker - keep things as professional as possible. Remember that writing has it's downfalls, too. It's not always easy for someone to interpret your tone. Without gestures, body language, and facial expressions– readers may easily misconstrue your words.

 

6. Don't hit 'Reply All'. Consider email etiquette – don't over-email and don't CC people who aren't pertinent to the discussion; you don't want to be bombarding people with irrelevant emails. Be respectful of people's time – if you want people to prioritize reading/responding to your messages, make your emails count.

 

7. Respond as quickly as you can. Acknowledging that you've read an email shows professionalism. Even if you aren't able to respond in full right away, send a quick reply letting the sender know you'll get back to them shortly.

 

8. Use it sparingly. Email is convenient, but it's not necessarily the best means of communication for every situation. Before you draft an email, ask yourself it it's necessary, or if a phone call, text, or face-to-

face discussion would do. A face-to-face conversation, or private phone call, is recommended in instances where you need to share private or sensitive information. Never assume privacy – be mindful of what information you share in your correspondences.

 

Last but not least, write your work emails as if you were sharing them on a public forum. Present yourself in the best light possible – always be respectful, professional, and tactful.

Discovering your Strengths: Questions to ask yourself

August 16,2017
What are you really, really good at? Often, it is much easier for us to point out our weaknesses than it is to identify our strengths. As a REALTOR®, you have a great deal of skills that you utilize on a daily basis, but what sets you apart from the rest? Ask yourself the following questions to better identify the unique strengths and skills that make you amazing at what you do:

 

What skills have helped you thrive? Think about the obstacles you’ve faced throughout your life – how did you get over them? With all the situations that have challenged you in the past, is there a common thread amongst them? It’s the tough moments that help us to identify the source of our strengths.

What makes you feel strong? When you feel overwhelmed, what makes you feel in control? Think about the moments when you feel strong, invigorated, and successful. These moments will give you clues about your strengths. As you identify and focus on what makes you feel strong, you can expect to be happier and become a better problem-solver in many circumstances.

 

What were you like as a child? When we’re kids we do what we love – and we’re not ashamed of it. Thinking about your childhood can give you insights into your passions and talents. What did you spend your time on? What was your favorite subject in school? Many people know from the get-go what their passions are, while for some it can take a while to recognize. Think about what interested you as a child; were you always building with Legos or writing stories, maybe you were constantly dreaming up inventions? Your childhood-interests, (especially if they’re still your interests) can give you clues about where your skills and passions lie. There’s a big part of us that never really changes, be honest about your interests – they hold the key to your skills and passions.

 

What compliments do you receive most often? Is there something that you get complimented on regularly? Pay attention to compliments, especially the ones that you dismiss because it’s for something that you do so naturally. Don’t assume that just because something comes easily to you or seems obvious, that it’s not rare and valuable to others. The skills that come naturally are often the most valuable.

 

It can be hard for us to truly see ourselves. We often focus on our weaknesses and don’t take full advantage of our strengths. To recognize our strengths, we often need others to hold up a mirror. If you can, email a few close colleagues/friends and ask them to write a story about a time where they felt you were ‘at your best’. Through reading their responses, you will hopefully be able to identify a pattern and paint a better portrait of your strengths. Odds are that the stories will all be fairly similar in nature - you may be surprised about you read. Seeing your strengths through others’ eyes can be a game changer.

9 Expert Qualities that a Good REALTOR® Possesses

August 9, 2017

In the competitive and fast-paced world of real estate, it's important for REALTORS® to set themselves apart. It's not just a job that's centered around people; it's a job centered around life changing decisions and big purchases. Not everyone can do it – and the people that do do it, (and do it well) possess some key qualities. Here are 9 expert qualities that make for an amazing REALTOR®:

 

1. They're excellent communicators. Being a good communicator means being available, being responsive, and ensuring that everyone involved understands what is happening. A good REALTOR® updates clients on their situation and shares information that is relevant to them.

 

2. They're proactive. A good REALTOR® thinks ahead. They're calling potential buyers, searching for new leads and anticipating challenges before they become issues.

 

3. They listen. If a client is having trouble getting a word in edgewise – there's a problem. A good REALTOR® asks the right questions and ensures that their client's needs are understood and met.

 

4. They're client-motivated. If a client is happy, they are happy. A good REALTOR® puts their clients first and ensures they feel respected and appreciated. Every client should feel like it's all about them.

 

5. They adapt to their client's needs. Every client has a different time frame, different motivations and different communication preferences. A good REALTOR® recognizes that every client is unique and adapts to their specific needs.

 

6. They've got a sense of urgency. A good REALTOR® recognizes that timing is important. They're on the ball and ready to go when necessary. They ensure that clients know their time is valued.

 

7. They've got the right tools. A good REALTOR® is equipped with knowledge and has all the necessary tools to get the job done. They combine their local knowledge, vast experience, and personal networks to ensure clients get the most value from their partnership.

 

8. They're honest. A good REALTOR® is direct and understands the importance of being clear and straightforward. They realize that honesty and 'telling it like it is' gets them further than painting a pretty picture.

 

9. They're assertive. A good REALTOR® treats people with the utmost respect but is not afraid to speak up. They show confidence in their abilities and take pride in their work.
 

What qualities do you think a REALTOR® should possess? What is the number one thing you would look for in a REALTOR®?

6 Steps to Prioritize for Success

 

August 2, 2017
 

How do we prioritize when everything feels like a priority? Our work is important, and often times it can be hard to decide which tasks deserve our attention more than others. Here are a few steps to help you objectively look at your projects and decide on where to start:

 

Collect a list of all your tasks. Everything should be in one spot. It’s easier for us to wrap our minds around what we have to do when everything is right in front of us.
 

Decide which tasks are urgent. Does something need to be done today, or right now? What are the consequences if the task doesn’t get accomplished?
 

Assess the value of the tasks. What carries the highest value to you? What types of tasks will have priority? Are client projects more important than internal work? Value can be assessed in different ways. Think about how many people are involved and impacted by each of your projects. Who would be negatively affected if you don’t finish the project? What can you stand to do another time?
 

Decide how much effort the tasks will take, and what to take on first. Figure out how much time and energy each task will take. Productivity experts suggest taking on meatier projects first and getting them out of the way. Sometimes, though, we just aren’t in the headspace to take on the big stuff . Knocking a smaller task off our lists can be just the motivation we need to get to the complicated tasks. Decide what works best for you.
 

Be flexible, but don’t lose sight of what’s important. Things will come up throughout the day and our priorities may change. Keep your eye on the prize while checking in every once in a while to see if you need to switch focus. Just don’t get too caught up in checking emails and getting distracted by new tasks if they’re not urgent. The best way to get things accomplished is to exclusively focus on one task until it’s completed. Distractions will always arise but do your best to spend as much focused energy as you can, for as long as you can.
 

Know where to cut things off. You most likely can’t accomplish everything on your list right now. Focus on what you can and must do and ditch the rest. Keep a manageable to-do list in order to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and distracted.

 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we feel like there are countless tasks vying for our immediate attention. Follow these steps to analyze your work and decide what deserves your attention now.

6 Tips for Effective Communication

July 26th, 2017

It's a no-brainer that effective communication is important. Often times things get 'lost in translation' and what we think we're putting out there isn't always how things get picked up.
Ensure you are being a good communicator with these tips:

 

1. Know what you are talking about. When someone is looking to write a book, people will tell them 'Write what you know'. The same goes when we're speaking, especially in front of a group or during important meetings. Before you set out to speak, make sure you are knowledgeable. Show people why your communication is valuable and what they stand to gain from listening to you. Place high value in providing authentic and effective communication.

 

2. Be an amazing listener. Communication is a two-way street. If you want to know how to speak, you need to learn how to effectively listen. When you listen more than you speak you are able to engage, ask questions and understand what people are thinking. It's all about balance – make people feel like what they say matters.

 

3. Check your understanding. Don't fall into the habit of forming responses while people are talking. Ask questions to clarify things and make sure that people understand what the other person is saying. When you don't take the time to understand what people are saying, you will end up arguing and losing focus. Avoid miscommunications, misunderstandings, and assumptions. There's no harm in asking for clarification.

 

4. Pay attention to nonverbal cues. What people say is often not the most important form of communication. Keep an eye out for tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions. Nonverbal communication can speak louder than words. Things to look out for are: posture, hand movements, and eye contact. Watch out for your own nonverbal cues - it is easy for us to choose our words carefully, ensure that body language conveys the same message.

 

5. Don't overestimate your understanding. Do you think you can communicate more efficiently with the people you know, versus strangers? Yes, most of us feel that we can, too. Did you know, though, that whether we know someone or not, we communicate and understand at the same level? It's true. Studies show that strangers and people that know each other well communicate and understand in the same way. One study found that people actually failed to communicate properly with the ones they knew well; they overestimated their ability to communicate. With people we know well, we tend to presume things that we don't with strangers. We get lazy. Psychologists have a name for it: closeness-communication bias. To make sure we communicate properly, we need to remind ourselves that what we know is different from what others know. We need to be actively taking the perspective of the other person.

 

6. Speak to groups as individuals. Develop a level of intimacy in your approach that makes every person feel as if you're speaking directly to him or her. Be emotionally genuine and exude the same feelings, energy, and attention you would one-on-one.

Great communication is the cornerstone of great leadership. Creating a connection that is real, emotional, and personal. It requires an understanding of people and an ability to speak directly to their needs. Do you believe that you're a good communicator? How do you think you could improve?

 

5 Ways to become a Better Motivator

July 19th, 2017

Working in real estate often means we take on the role of mentor, leader, partner or teacher. These roles often require us to not only keep ourselves motivated, but to be a positive force and pass on the motivation to others.  Here are five simple things you can change in your behaviour that will help you lead and inspire with ease:

 

1.    Have a Role Model
Sometimes it’s best to draw inspiration from your own mentors. Look to whom or what motivates you and think, what is it specifically that motivates me? Is it their successes? Is it how they go about their plans? The more we engage with role models or people who motivate us, the more likely their behaviour rubs off on us. 

2.    Set Clear Goals
Once you’ve found a role model, the next thing to do is to create achievable goals that always satisfy the “why”. If you can explain why this task is important and communicate that to others, you will easily bring together a cohesive team.

3.    Listen More, Speak Less
It’s a common misunderstanding that to be a good motivator you have to do all the talking and leading. But in order to make sure your team understands the goals and the whys behind the goals you need to listen to how they think. This way, your team feels like they have the opportunity to contribute as a direct result of your motivations!

4.    Recognize Accomplishments
It’s very easy to catch someone doing something wrong – but it’s far more important to catch someone on your team doing something right. Praising them will encourage them and motivate them to do more work. And while you don’t need to baby people and say, “everyone is a winner” – regular checking and mentioning the good with the bad will keep everyone on your team (including yourself) motivated to stay on task.

5.    Demonstrate You Are Reliable
You’ve listened to your team, you’ve praised them, but life can still become incredibly stressful. As the motivator you need to show your team that they can count on you to step up and go above and beyond to get things done. You are the glue to your team – remind them why they’re sticking together.

Figure out what motivates you and pass on the enthusiasm! Each of these steps is meant to be tailored to your own personality – some people like to demonstrate these skills very loudly, others prefer a quieter approach. Find what works for you and in time you will see how easy and empowering it is to be a great motivator!

The Importance of Breaks

July 12th, 2017

We’ve all been too busy or too stressed to take a break. “If I just push through, I’ll be done faster”, you think. But did you know that taking regular short breaks improves your health and productivity? Here are a few reasons why breaks are so important during your workday, and what you can do to make the most of them.

1.    A Break Works like a Refresh Button
If you push yourself too hard you run the risk of running on empty. Taking as little as a 5-10 minute break to flip through a magazine or talk to a friend will help your mind collect and reassemble all the information you were holding in your head before, so that when you return to your task, it will seem clearer. Think of a quick break like creative fuel – make sure you’ve always got gas in your tank!

2.    Physical Activity on a Break Soothes the Body and Soul
Getting up and going for a quick walk - even if it’s to get the mail - will help you both physically and mentally. We, as humans, aren’t meant to be sitting around all day.  Physical movement keeps us from getting restless and helps us burn a few extra calories throughout the day. And with the fresh blood pumping through your body you’ll be less likely to be mentally stagnant throughout as you work on your important tasks.

3.    Make Time for Tea!
The Brits may be up to something when they go on their tea rounds throughout the day. Taking time to brew a cup of tea forces you to slow down and relax. If your brew of choice is an herbal one, you’ll also be reaping the benefits of ingesting a bunch of antioxidants that will help improve your overall health. But if your tea is as strong as you are and needs to be caffeinated, you can rest assured that your diminished pace on your break won’t transfer into your work.

“But how long should we be taking breaks for?”, you may ask. There is no universally agreed upon interval or period for breaks. However, an increasingly popular method is the Pomodoro Method which allows you to work for 40 minutes followed by a 5 minute break for three rounds, upon which your fourth break is 15 minutes. You can set up a timer by yourself or download the app on your phone to make sure that you’re staying on track. 

Test out which ratio of work to break works best for you and try some of these tips so that you can be clearer of mind and healthier when you return to your busy schedule.

Productivity Techniques to help you do your best work

We all want to be more productive and do great work in a short period of time. We also know it's a lot easier said than done. Here are a few productivity techniques to help you out:


Organize, prioritize and delegate

  • Collect all your tasks on a to-do list. Simply use a piece of paper or download a organizational app on your phone. Apps are great because you can set up notifications and reminders.
  • Decide if every task is actionable and delegate any problems you can; put tasks in a hierarchical order.
  • Organize your list and add priorities and deadlines.
  • Decide which tasks are not currently actionable and put these on a separate list.
  • Review the whole list and decide what to do first.


Start with the hardest work
If you're a procrastinator, or like to set certain tasks aside, start with the big stuff. Get into the habit of doing the hardest, most unpleasant, or most daunting task as soon as you get to the office. Why? This way it is out of the way and since you've already done the hardest part, everything else in your day will seem that much easier.

Find consistency
Find one task that you'd like to get into the habit of doing and do it every single day without interruption for one month. Repetition will helps to create habits; make the task an unmissable part of your day. Associate the task with a particular part of the day and make a special calendar where you mark off every time you've completed the task. Make yourself accountable and before you know it, the task will become an automatic part of your day.

Try the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique helps you power through distractions and have hyper-focus on the task at hand – you get things done in short bursts while taking frequent breaks. The way it works is you do focused work in 25 minute chunks while taking 5-10 minute breaks in between. The breaks help you to relax and regain focus and the short work periods allow you to stay 100% focused. If you're trying to produce it's a great way to get through your tasks.

Quick Productivity Tips
Want to be more productive? Focus on keeping your work organized and having your mind rested.

  • Get enough sleep – If you aren't getting enough sleep, how can you expect your brain to work well? Having a good sleep works wonders on your ability to produce.
  • Detach yourself from work – We hear about work/life balance all the time...it's an important factor that affects productivity. You should be able to forget about work during the weekends and just relax. This allows you to have fresh eyes on your tasks and improves creativity.
  • Minimize (unwanted) interruptions – it's okay to grab a cup of coffee once you've completed a task, but if you're in the middle of something, make sure there are no people (or phone notifications) disturbing you at work.
  • Avoid multi-tasking – Attempting to work on a few things at once might give you the impression that you are doing less work in more time - but realistically, the cost of switching between tasks is so big that you end up losing time and energy. If you're working on something, just finish it before moving on.

What do you do to get yourself motivated and increase productivity?

Conflict Resolution Techniques for Realtors

Real estate is a people business -we nurture and develop dozens of relationships on a daily basis. Knowing how to handle conflicts is just a part of the job. Here are 5 tips to remember when conflicts arise and tensions run high. Empower yourself and remember these steps:

 

1.