Paula's Adventures In Real Estate

Let me help you make your next move!

Here We Grow-Op Again! January 22, 2010

So, did you happen to read last weekend’s Arnprior Chronicle-Guide? When I first saw the front page, I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Police find home crammed with pot plants” was the headline. I read on to find out more details and when I saw the address, I exclaimed “I know that house!” Turns out, it’s the same house that my brokerage had listed for sale just over a year ago.

I did a little more digging and discovered that the man who purchased the property is the very one who was mentioned in the paper as having been arrested for the crimes committed. The plot thickens…

Now I was not involved with the listing or the selling of this home but I know the agents who were and they were just as surprised as the rest of us. I’m sure the buyer did not make his true intentions known (well duh). “I’m looking for a brick bungalow with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, eat-in kitchen and a cozy gas fireplace in which I can completely gut and destroy as I’m planning on cultivating approximately 1,400 marijuana plants and making a cool 1.4 million in the process. Can you help me?”

Last August, a home on the Waba road was listed for “land value only” as it too, had been completely destroyed being a former grow-op. It ended up selling for approximately $200K less than what it would have been worth had it not been totally and utterly full of mold.

This is a great example of why real estate agents must now complete an Individual Identification Information Record for each of their clients before proceeding with any transactions. It is the law that we have to actually see a piece of our clients’ identification first hand (ex. driver’s licence or passport – photocopies not acceptable) and note the document number, expiration date, and issuing jurisdiction before proceeding with any transactions. It’s an initiative developed by FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada http://www.fintrac.gc.ca/) to help safeguard against possible terrorism, money laundering and other criminal activities.

So the next time you’re about to sign on that dotted line to buy or sell real estate and your agent asks to first see some ID, you’ll know why and will have nothing to worry about – unless of course you are up to no good, in which case you should probably just walk away…

‘Till next time,

Paula

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Christmas is Done, Spring Market Here I Come. January 8, 2010

Welcome 2010! It’s been a couple of months since my last post. I’ve been busy like the rest of the world getting things together for the holidays. We had a wonderful Christmas – my kids, once again, were absolutely spoiled by friends and family.

Jasper our now 5 month old American Cocker Spaniel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06wfk3XPhfE), (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pq4XTfoelG0)  was also spoiled. Among toys and treats he also got a fabulous custom collar and 6′ leash from Approved By Houston (www.approvedbyhouston.com). I found the prices really quite reasonable and the quality is excellent. The best part was that I got to pick out the style and colours myself. I wanted blue and brown stripes and Kendra was great to work with me to find it. He looks so handsome in it!!

 

Now that Christmas is over, the real estate market will start to heat right back up again. Families who are looking to move before the start of the next school year often begin their house hunting in the spring. It has been my experience that the months of February through to the end of June are the busiest and March, April and May are the best months to hold an open house. The weather is starting to thaw and people who were cooped up for much of the winter are anxious to get out and start looking at what’s out there. It’s spring fever baby!

The Realtors at my office have collectively decided to have an open house blitz one weekend every month commencing in February. I’m really looking forward to it.  I have this gut feeling that this spring, the real estate market in this area will be booming.  At least I hope so – I’ve still got Christmas to pay for afterall…

‘Till next time,

Paula

 

When In Doubt, Don’t Leave It Out November 6, 2009

So, yesterday we had our monthly sales meeting at Re/Max Town Centre. After going over the stats and sales data for the past couple of months, we got on to a couple of thought-provoking questions. One of which was in regards to chattels (for a definition click here http://duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/C/Chattel.aspx) included in an agreement of purchase and sale. I’ll use one of my own experiences as an example…

Not that long ago, I listed a house where the sellers had planned to include all of their appliances in the sale. I specifically listed each appliance in the MLS as inclusions. A few days later, we received an offer from a buyer represented by another agent. The offer listed all the appliances as “chattels included” except for the refrigerator. When I presented the offer to my clients, we noticed that the fridge was not listed but we just thought that the buyer had a fridge already and didn’t need or want theirs. After some negotiations on price and the closing date, we had an accepted offer.

FridgeSome weeks later, the deal closes and out of the blue, I get a frantic call from the buyer’s agent wondering where the fridge is. I explained that the fridge was not mentioned or included in the agreement of purchase and sale and therefore the sellers thought the buyer didn’t want it. She said that she thought it should have been automatically included because it was listed in the MLS and that the buyer is expecting to get that fridge. So…who was right?

The answer is….the sellers. Here’s why. It must specifically state in the agreement of purchase and sale what chattels are to be included. If not, the buyers do not have any recourse should the items be missing. Even though it was mentioned in the MLS listing information, essentially all this means is that the seller is willing to include it if the buyer wants it. If it does not form a part of the contract, it cannot automatically be assumed that it would be included.

The moral of this story is to always put it in writing and be as specific as possible. If you are putting in an offer onContract a house and you’re asking for the high-end stainless steel appliances to be included, have your real estate agent specifically state the make and model of said appliances so that the seller cannot make any last-minute substitutions, if you know what I mean. Better to nip it in the bud at the time of the offer rather than face disappointment and possible lawsuits down the road.

‘Till next time,

Paula

 

That New Puppy Smell October 30, 2009

Well, we did it. We got a new puppy. After a year of researching different breeds of dogs, attending dog shows, and interviewing different breeders we got a purebred American Cocker Spaniel puppy. We picked him up from the breeder on Saturday and named him “Jasper”. The green in his ear is from his tattoo.

Jasper

If it were just up to me, I probably would have been able to resist the urge of adding yet another animal to our family (we already have 2 cats) but my daughter simply wanted a dog sooooooooo badly. I warned her about all the work that a dog would be and what exactly would be expected of her but this didn’t phase her one bit. Truth is, I already knew that she was responsible enough to take care of a puppy – she’d proven this to us time and time again with how good she was with helping out with her own sibling.

Jasper Sleeping

So now we have this adorable 9 week old puppy in our mix. We are crate training him and so far that’s going pretty well. He’ll retire to his crate on his own now when he’s feeling sleepy. Unfortunately, he’s not entirely housebroken yet. That means that despite our best efforts and regular trips outside to “go potty”, our floors are taking a beating. BTW, thanks for returning my carpet cleaner Cindy!

Jasper outside

Jasper Rope

Jasper & Indiana

In the interest of making this post somewhat relevant to real estate, I thought I’d give some tips and suggestions to those of you who are also dog owners and are trying to sell your house.

1. Make the assumption that every prospective buyer that comes through your home is NOT a dog lover. This will help you to better scrutinize your own home when preparing it for sale. 

2. If at all possible, remove the dog(s) for any and all showings. Some prospective buyers may feel uncomfortable with a dog barking at them from the end of a chain or from within a crate or worry that they may not be as friendly as they would hope.

3. Remove all obvious evidence that you have a dog. Pick up dog toys, stow away the food and water dishes to an unobtrusive location in the house, pick up all the “landmines” in the yard. Vacuum everyday. Do a fresh coat of paint where Fido may have scratched or chipped it away.

4. Get a friend or neighbour to do a “smell test” for you. Dogs often leave a lingering odour that can be offensive to prospective buyers. Treat any pet related stains/odours with an enzyme formula which can be found at any pet supply store. We got a bottle Natural Chemistry’s Smells & Stains from Pet Valu for about $10.  

 

‘Till next time,

Paula

 

Can’t Buy Me Love…But Apparently Can Buy Me Listings October 23, 2009

When listing your home, deciding on price is one of the most important factors. You want to get the highest priceDollar Sign possible for your home and ideally in the shortest amount of time possible.  When working with a real estate sales rep to sell your house, make sure to ask them for a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis). This report will allow you to see what other comparable homes in your neighbourhood are selling for and how many days it took them to sell. This is an extremely valuable tool and should not be overlooked.

 

Real estate is not an exact science and the market does change. There are varying reasons why a home may be overpriced which are not automatically the fault of the real estate agent. Sometimes it’s the seller who has set the price or sometimes the market changes due to socio-economic factors, and can no longer support a higher price.

 

On the other hand, sometimes a listing is bought. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s look at the following example: 

About a year ago, I received a call from a woman who wanted to sell her house. She invited to me come out to her home and give a price on it. I did so and after viewing the property, prepared a CMA for her. I went over all the comparable actives, expireds and solds in the area and explained at how I arrived at my final recommended list price. She wasn’t overly happy with my recommendation but did say that she understood why I came to that price.

 

GreedA few days later, she called me again asking if I would list her home for $30,000 more than what I had told her. She went on to explain that after meeting with me, she’d met with another agent who had several more years of experience than I did and who also told her that her house was definitely worth the inflated price. I reluctantly told her that I just couldn’t as I firmly felt that it would be priced much too high and that it would be a great disservice to her if I were to do this. I warned her that a price reduction was going to be inevitable.

 

Well, that other agent got the listing. Eight months and one $20,000 price reduction later, it finally sold for the exact amount I had quoted her. I felt a little smug knowing that what I had predicted had come to fruition but that feeling didn’t last as it immediately sunk in that my reward for doing the right thing would be knowing that the other agent was still going to get the payday. 

 

I did learn something from all of this though. I learned that sometimes it’s okay to let the seller set the list price, even if I feel it’s too high but to compromise by getting an agreement in writing that if there isn’t an acceptable offer within a set upon period of time, then we would do a price reduction to where I feel the property should be listed at. That way, hopefully, everyone can be happy.

 

‘Till next time,

Paula

 

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

 

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