Paula's Adventures In Real Estate

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One More Reason To “Love Thy Neighbour” October 16, 2009

Buying a house can be a daunting endeavour. For most people, it is the biggest investment they’ll ever make in their lifetime. No one wants to buy a property with deficiencies but can you always count on the seller to be forthcoming with that type of information, especially if it’s serious enough to potentially kill the sale or warrant a significant reduction in price?

 

One tip I’ve recently picked up is to encourage buyers to talk to the neighbours. Knock on their door or get their phone number (your agent should be able to find out this information for you). A lot of the time, if there is somethingEye on you wrong with the house you’re considering purchasing, the neighbours will be aware of it. Sometimes, it’s because they too are having similar problems (as can be the case with water potability or flooding) or they’ve actually seen evidence of a potential problem (i.e. a well driller’s truck parked in the driveway of a home with a dug well could indicate a lack of adequate water supply). This will also give you the opportunity to break the ice with your prospective neighbours, to find out what kind of people they are and decide if you can picture living beside them in harmony.

 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still do your own due diligence by having a home inspection but it does provide one other avenue to gain valuable information about the property before you sign on the dotted line.

 

‘Till next time,

Paula

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Take My Knife – Please. October 9, 2009

In the world of real estate, to get your name out there is a must. Your career won’t go too far if no one knows who you are! That’s why advertisers make so much money off of us. In fact, I just had a guy in here a couple of weeks ago trying to sell me a small amount of advertising space on a board outside the entrance to a local grocery store to the tune of $800/year. Not having any stats or numbers to provide me with that would support any potential return on investment, I told the gentleman that I’d have to pass – but I knew that another agent would be only too willing to take my place.

 

Radio, television, newspapers, magazines, billboards, direct mail, internet, hell even the disposable paper placemats at family restaurants – if it can be used to promote a real estate agent, it will be.

 

Quite possibly the (hmmm, how shall I put this) “most interesting” idea for self promotion I’ve personally come across in the last couple years came from a company that came in to my brokerage one sunny afternoon. They gave a very lovely presentation in which they were trying to sell me a knife set that I could give as a gift to my clients after a sale.

 

Now you’re probably thinking “A knife set? How impersonal” but you need to understand that this was not just any ordinary set of knives. No. This set was promoted as being extraordinarily sharp and would even come engraved with my name and phone number on it to create “top of the mind awareness.”

 

Ooooookaaay. 

 

‘Cause it makes sense that I would want to make sure that when you think of knives, you think of Paula Hartwick, Real Estate Sales Representative. When you accidentally slice your finger making dinner, I want you to think of me again. When you’re sitting in the emergency room bleeding profusely, I can feel confident that my name will be the first that comes to mind…

Knife in Hand2Paula Real Estate PicKnife in Hand4

 

 

‘Till next time,

Paula

 

Don’t Be A Jerk While You’re At Work October 2, 2009

So I was sitting down on Wednesday evening to watch HGTV’s newest show “Realtor vs. Realtor” and it was great! I have to admit, based on the title of the show, I was expecting things to get a little more confrontational, however, both individuals remained professional and the ribbing that occurred was strictly in good fun. We’ll see what future episodes have in store.

 

This program did make me think though. It seems that no matter what business you’re in or what career path you’ve taken, you’re going to run in to people who see things differently than you do. As my very wise Aunt once told me “different people have different personalities.” Real estate sales are no exception. 

Paper Emotion 1Paper Emotion 2Paper Emotion 3Paper Emotion 4Paper Emotion 1Paper Emotion 2Paper Emotion 3Paper Emotion 4

 

My first month working at the brokerage, I was attempting to negotiate a deal on a property with another agent who didn’t like my client’s counter offer – felt it was too low. My client was the buyer in this situation and the counter offer was based on the recent sales of the comparables in the area which I had reviewed with my client. When I politelyAngry Dog asked the other agent if they could explain to me the reasons why this particular property was priced so much higher than the others, the mood instantly changed. This agent became quite aggressive and starting attacking me verbally, criticizing the fact that I was new to the business (as though that was the reason for the property being overpriced). Although I was quite taken aback and could feel the words “listen, you douche” starting to rise up from my throat, I managed to keep my cool and hold my ground (as well as my tongue).

Cucumber

As cool as a...

 

A few months later, I was speaking with this same agent again (who incidentally no longer had the listing) and they confided to me that they did concur that the price had been too high. Thumbs Down 2

 

Thumbs UpWhile I have to give that agent kudos for attempting to get the best price possible for their client, there was absolutely no reason to chastise me for trying to do the same for mine. I firmly believe that one of the most important relationships you can have in this business is with your fellow agents and I always try to treat my colleagues with the same respect and courtesy that I would expect for myself.

 

A good reputation is very important in this business – not only with the public but also among your fellow real estate agents. Look at it from this perspective…imagine you’ve listed your home with a real estate agent who has a reputation among other agents as being *ahem* difficult to work with. Chances are, they’ll show their client(s) every other possible option before showing your home, just to avoid having to work with that agent. What’s that old saying again? Oh yes, “you’ll get more flies with honey than with vinegar…”

 

‘Till next time,

Paula

 

Taking The Plunge September 25, 2009

February 4, 2008, a very significant date (well to me at least). This is the day I jumped off the figurative cliff Cliffinto theShark deep, churning, shark infested waters below. In other words, sink or swim time. At least that’s how I thought it was going to be.

 

I passed my last real estate registration course in the fall of 2007 and now had to decide which brokerage I wpaying moneyas going to work for and pay all my hard earned money to. Yes, you read that right. You have to pay to work in a real estate brokerage. How much you pay or how you pay it varies from brokerage to brokerage but that really wasn’t my primary concern. What was most important to me was that I work in a place where I thought I would get the best start possible. As it turns out, I made a great choice when I chose Re/Max Town Centre in Arnprior.

 

Now, I interviewed at several brokerages but ultimately chose Re/Max Town Centre for the following reasons:

1. The support – Just starting out, I wanted to make sure that my broker would be available to answer my questions and to help guide me. I also wanted to make sure that there was an offering of various training programs and that everything runs smoothly on the administrative end.

2. The brand recognition – Most people have heard of the Re/Max balloon. Being an advertising grad, I know that promotion and brand recognition is very important.

3. The people – I knew that it would be very important to me that I like and get along well with the other people at the office. I instantly felt at ease here.

4. Location – This may seem a silly thing but I really didn’t want to have to commute in to Ottawa again so a brokerage located in Arnprior was essential.

 

Having made my decision, I didn’t give my notice at Algonquin until January 2008 as I wanted to wait until after the holiday season (and until after I’d paid off my giant Visa bill) before saying adios to a regular income.

 

As it turned out, I made my first sale only two weeks after starting. It wasn’t a huge paycheck but man was I ready to give the couple who were my first clients a big wet kiss on the mouth. You just feel so especially appreciative to the people who are the first to use you as their agent. He was a colleague of my husband’s. He saw an ad in the paper for a property he and his wife were interested in and decided they would give this fledgling real estate sales rep a shot. So again, thanks guys!!

My first paycheck! And yes, I am a total dork for agreeing to have this picture taken.

My first paycheck! And yes, I am a total dork for agreeing to have this picture taken.

All in all, I’d say not a bad start. Certainly not as daunting as I initially expected, although I did still have a few concerns dancing around in my head. Where would my next source of business come from? Would the paychecks keep coming or was I a one trick pony? Would I really be able to make a go of this? Only time would tell.

 

‘Till next time,

Paula

 

How did I get here? September 18, 2009

Filed under: Real Estate — Paula Hartwick @ 3:12 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ever wonder how you got in to the job or career you’re currently in? I know I do. Becoming a real estate sales rep was never my life’s long ambition. Is it ever anyone’s?

 

Truth be told, I never really had a clear vision of what I wanted to do before. Oh sure, when I was a kid, I threw around thoughts of becoming a doctor, lawyer or (gulp) actress. Probably not so much because that’s what I actually wanted to do but rather because those are jobs that tend to be the most easily recognizable to children.

 

Question MarkGraduating from high school, I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life but time was running out and I needed to pick something. I looked through all the brochures in the Guidance Counsellor’s office and zeroed in on the words “Advertising Executive.” I thought to myself “surely I won’t suck too bad at that” and enrolled in the Creative Advertising program at Algonquin College.

 

Skip over two years of late nights, deadlines and the addition of fifteenDiploma pounds worth of vending machine purchases, and I had my brand spanking new diploma in my hand. Actually, technically it was just a blank piece of paper rolled up with a ribbon  – they give you the real thing afterwards – but nonetheless, I was officially employable! 

 

A couple of weeks later, I managed to charm my way in to a position with Algonquin College’s Marketing Department as a Marketing Assistant. It was not without its own set of challenges (the memory of Nat turning around in her chair to make the whip cracking gesture still makes me laugh) however, I learned quite a bit during my time there. A month later, I got married and my husband and I bought our first house. That’s when the “real estate fever” started.

 

HGTVIt’s not like it was a super exciting process or anything. We bought the very first house we ever looked at. I can’t really explain it…I was just hooked!Virtually everyday from that time on, I would check out the new listings on the internet, go to open houses (even though we weren’t thinking of moving), and I started watching all of those real estate shows on tv. In short, I drove my husband Tristen crazy.

 

In the meantime, over the next 8 years, I continued my career at Algonquin College. Career…if you could call it that. Truth is, I was miserable there. Don’t get me wrong, Algonquin is a great employer. The pay was decent, the benefits good and the vacation time even better. I made a lot of friends there (who I continue to talk to and visit with) but a lot of them were starting to move on.

 

First, my friend Deb got married and moved to Dubai with her husband and has since taken a teaching position there. Then my “work husband” Shayne accepted a job offer as an Associate Registrar with the University of Alabama. Plus the commute was killing me. No word of a lie, there were some obscenely bad winter mornings where it took me over 3 hours to get to work. I’d arrive really tense…cursing & swearing and then still have to get through an 8 hour day. In short, my heart just wasn’t in it anymore.

 

I talked over the possibility of starting my real estate career with Trist but itGreen light was really, really scary. I mean, by this time we have a mortgage, bills to pay, two kids and a cat. How could I even think of leaving a steady paying job?? Trist, as usual, was extremely supportive. He knew how unhappy I was and so, gave me the green light to pursue my ambition.

 

Crystal BallI started my real estate courses about a year before I was planning on leaving Algonquin. During that time, we scrimped and saved so we would have money to fall back on in between commission cheques. We also sold our first home and bought another, less expensive one. We knew that financially, it was probably going to be tough, at least for the first little while. Little did we know, there was to be a global recession right around the corner…

 

‘Till next time,

Paula

 

My First Post September 11, 2009

Filed under: Real Estate — Paula Hartwick @ 3:20 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Okay, so here goes….

I’m brand spanking new to blogging and don’t know quite what to expect. What I do know is that I’m looking for a forum to tell the public (or anyone who gives a rat’s ass) all about my “Adventures In Real Estate.” This means that I will be divulging my own experiences, trials and tribulations, frustrations and victories. 

Competition is fierce in this industry and there is bound to be some blood, sweat, and cheers along the way. Two years in the business and I already have plenty of stories, not to mention war wounds!! Expect absolute candour as I don’t have anything to hide (except maybe certain names and identifying details to protect the innocent and the guilty).

So whether you’re thinking about buying or selling your home in the future, have ever had a question about the inner workings of the real estate world, have been thinking about starting a real estate career of your own or just have a couple of minutes to kill, check out my blog.

‘Till next time… 

Paula