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What Most Agents Won’t Tell you About Open Houses
Open Houses, most people don’t like having them and many agents don’t like doing them either. Do they work to sell the house? Isn’t that the point of doing them after all? If you’re thinking about selling your home you may be considering hosting some open houses. What many agents don’t tell you is that one of the main reasons to host an open house is not to actually sell that specific home.                                                                                                                                
If you hosted 100 open houses, you’d be lucky to get more than 10 offers generated. That’s better than no offers but since the success rate on open houses selling a home are so low they are not the primary reason for hosting open houses anymore.
The main reason many agents host open houses? It’s to find more clients. Many of those coming through Open Houses don’t have an agent representing them yet so its a great opportunity to pick them up as clients. Some agents can run a relatively successful business just off of doing open houses and signing up potential buyers.
That doesn’t mean, even with that goal in mind, that there are no benefits to the seller to this. By hosting more open houses agents are getting in front of more buyers. The more open houses at more houses the more buyers they meet. Most buyers aren’t going to buy the home they meet the agent in but they are still in the market for one. So the more open houses an agent hosts the more buyers they meet that they can steer towards your property. Every little bit can help because you never know where the buyer is going to come from.
For agents, the best part about open houses is finding buyer clients to work with and even potential sellers. Many will come through open houses to see what their competition is and if the agent hosting the open house asks the right questions they can often sign up another listing in the neighbourhood.
Open Houses can be win-win for both the agent and the client. With the internet though they are not nearly as effective as they used to be which is why you often see busier agents foregoing open houses. Many new agents do them for the experience and the opportunity to build their client base.
When selling your home you need to decide if the 10% or lower chance of generating an offer is worth opening your house up to the general public. For some the answer is yes, others would rather not. So speak to your agent about if an open house is worth it for you!
Ask Us Anything: How do Agents Representing the Buyer Get Paid?

This is actually a fairly common question. Many do not hire an agent to represent them because they think they’ll have to pay them out of pocket and they want to save that money to put towards the house.
This is a misconception. Real Estate Agents who are working with a buyer do not actually get paid directly by the people they are representing. This is all paid for by the seller. When the seller signs a contract with an agent to sell their home they are at that time deciding the compensation that the buyer agent receives. Their is no hard and fast rule about what the seller offers however for a property to be listed on MLS they have to offer something. That offer could be as low as $0.01 or as high as they want. Generally you will see it as a percentage of the sale instead of a flat rate but you can see that sometimes too.
So when a deal is made, the sellers lawyer, before sending the money to the seller, will write cheques for the two agents involved in the deal. This means that nothing comes out of pocket for the buyer. This is, on average, how it works.
Sometimes though, the buyers may end up in a situation where they have to pay out of pocket.
Buyer Representation Agreement Shortfall
When you sign a Buyer Representation Agreement you are signing an agreement that  you are being represented as you buy a house. Part of the agreement states how much commission they are entitled to on the sale house. This is usually covered by the amount offered by the seller when it was listed on the MLS. This is not always the case though.
As an example, if your Buyer Representation Agreement states that your agent is entitled to 2.5% of the sale price but the seller is only offering 2.0% then technically you could have to account for that 0.5% difference. It’s important to talk to your agent before hand about how they handle this. Everyone handles it differently.
For Sale By Owner
Since you signed a Buyer Representation Agreement you are saying that they will represent you on any purchase of a house whether its listed or not. So if their is a for sale by owner property and they aren’t offering any commission (many do offer some degree of commission though) then you may be required to pay what is on your Buyer Representation Agreement if the seller refuses to pay.
In this situation that just becomes part of how you negotiate for the house. You would only offer them the amount you were willing to pay minus the amount you could potentially owe your agent.
Mortgage Shortfall
The third, and least common, way that you may have to pay out of pocket is in a mortgage shortfall situation. To explain it lets use an example. There is a home that you bought for $500,000. The current sellers have a mortgage of $490,000 on the property. The bank takes their $490,000 from the sale and now their is only $10,000 remaining. That $10,000 would now have to be enough to cover the two real estate agents fees and anyone else getting paid as a result of the transaction. Since that would not be enough that would leave a shortfall. Technically you could be on the hook for the amount to your agent.
This is very uncommon right now since home prices keep rising and banks are careful about the loan to value ratio they give out. If the market has a downturn then this may become more common but right now this is a very uncommon situation.
The large majority of the time the seller pays the Buyers Agents commission. In the three examples above the buyer could have to pay a certain amount directly to their agent. It’s important that whoever you hire, whether its us or another agent, you talk to them ahead of time about how they handle these situations because different agents react differently.
35 Huntsmill Boulevard – A Note from the Owners

Buying a home can be really stressful. Sometimes its nice to hear directly from the owners of a property. So we like to ask our clients to provide us with some insight because no one knows this home as well they do.
They’ve lived here for over 36 years and have loved it. So we asked them a couple questions about it.
Why Did You Buy This Home?
“The open concept, the size of the bedrooms, it was close to public transit and also really close to schools.”
What Will You Miss the Most?
“The neighbourhood, everyone is very friendly and always willing to help.”
What do you think are the Top 3 Benefits of Living Here?
The neighbours are outstanding, we cannot even begin to tell you how very supportive they’ve been without ever having to ask. The different school districts within walking distance, and being able to get most anywhere in the city within 30-40 minutes.
Thank you to the owners for sharing their insight! They hope that the next owners will love it as much as they do!
Sneak Peek: 35 Huntsmill Boulevard – Scarborough

Want to know what’s great? Getting a sneak peek of a home coming on the market before everyone else. 35 Huntsmill Boulevard, is going to come on the market this Friday, August 14th, 2015. For those who come to our site though lets take a quick look at this property.

It’s in Scarborough near Warden and Steeles. That means its really close to the 404 and basically halfway between the 401 & 407. It’s also been really well maintained and some work has been put into it to make it look as good as possible. You probably don’t want to hear me keep talking about it so let’s take a look at some pictures.

It’s a beautiful home and theres more we aren’t showing yet like the finished basement, the pool in the backyard and the beautiful master bathroom. Contact us if you want to get an in person sneak peek!

Ask Us Anything: What does “elfs” mean on a home description on Realtor.ca?

“Elfs”  is a way to fit into the listing description “Electrical Light Fixture”. Trying to decipher “Realtor Speak” in the description of the listing (listing is Real Estate lingo for Home for Sale) can be quite challenging, even for those in the business for many years. The longer you’ve been in the business the more you may recognize. Often though, agents are making them up for the first time and assuming people can figure it out based on context.

So why do agents do this when they post to Realtor.ca? This is because we have a character limit in terms of how lengthy a description we can upload with the listing, much like Twitter does by limiting to 140 characters per tweet.
This also creates a small dilemma for many agents because in many areas the accepted best practice is to include all the information in the listing when its uploaded so that an agent could write an offer with just the information provided.
So this is why you often see so many abbreviations. I remember the first time I saw “bwl” and couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what those three letters stood for. What are they trying to include in the sale that has to go in the offer? So in the early days I had to call an agent who had been around longer than I have been.
It turns out “bwl” stands for Broadloom Where Laid. This is because, technically, broadloom carpet is not attached to the house so its not automatically included in a sale since its just laid on the ground. So from a legal perspective it should be noted that its included in the sale. In practice everyone, for the most part, assumes its part of the sale but it should still be noted in the agreement to avoid any possible confusion down the road.
Now I get calls from newer agents from time to time asking if I know what the different abbreviations are or from clients who aren’t sure. Most of the time we know what they are but every now and then a new one comes up and you have to start doing your best Sherlock impression to figure it out.
What abbreviations have you come across that you aren’t sure what they meant?
Top 3 Ways to Get More For Your Home Without Breaking the Bank

When you are thinking of selling your home you always want to get the most for it that you possibly can. However, not everyone has the budget to renovate the entire house to get it ready for someone to pay maximum dollars possible. So for the more budget conscious, what are some ways that can get you more for your house without actually spending a lot of money?
#1 – Painting
This is one of the best ways to get more for your home without breaking the bank, especially if you do the painting yourself. The lime green paint covering your entire kitchen? That has got to go. All the colours on the wall should be painted neutral. You are trying to appeal to as many buyers as possible so keep the look neutral in the house.
As easy as it is to paint some people can’t look past bad colours in their head. I’ve seen it time and time again in this business, especially in the kitchen. The home has a terrible paint colour, it sits on the market, then it goes off the market for a few weeks and is repainted. Then it comes back on and sells quickly and for often the same price or more than it was asking five mortgage payments ago. All because of a few cans of paint.
Paint is also a great way to freshen up an outdated kitchen without having to do a complete remodel. A lot of older looking kitchens can look more modern just by painting it. Obviously it won’t get you as much as a renovated kitchen but a little paint can go a long way.
#2 – Cleaning
You would think that when someone is selling their home that this would be a no brainer. Most people tidy but not as many as you think give it a truly deep clean. Nothing should be left untouched. From the baseboards, to the walls, to the bathtub… Everything should be clean enough to eat off by the time you’re done.
Part of the cleaning job is to keep it clean the entire time its on the market as well. Keep it looking clean and smelling clean too. Keep some air freshener around so that when you are leaving the house before buyers arrive you can spray it. Just don’t go overboard with any air fresheners or people may think you’re trying to hide something!
#3 – Landscaping
First Impressions when selling your home are very important! I’ve had clients who have pulled up to a house, looked at the outside and then left without going in. Just because someone was able to get a good angle to make it look nice in the picture, it still has to live up to it when they see it in person.
So put some sweat into it and start cleaning up your lawn. Get rid of the weeds, mow the lawn, trim the bushes, plant some flowers, and make sure it has some curb appeal. Same goes for the backyard too, make it look like a nice and relaxing environment.
If you take the time to do the little things to get your home ready to sell then you will find that you will get more for it and it will sell quicker than if you didn’t.
Dream Home Alert: 109 Willis Drive Aurora

Have you ever walked into a house, taken one look, and thought “Yep, this is what I want in my life”? (I also say that about Lemon Meringue Pie from the Hurst Bakery in Aurora) Well this home is just like that. It’s like the Lemon Meringue from Hurst. That’s right, I just compared a houseto apie. A delicious pie. 109 Willis Drive in Aurora is the type of home that makes you not want to look at other homes. It’s beautiful. It’s got everything you want in a house.
It’s a Bungaloft for starters. Which is great because nobody likes to go up the stairs after a big meal. It sits on a huge lot, its just slightly smaller than 150’x200’. Got to a new neighbourhood these days and they are cramming detached homes together so close the width between the homes would generously be called “shoulder width”, unless you’re the size of a linebacker, then you might have to turn sideways and shuffle between your house and your neighbours. Ok back to 109 Willis Drive. It’s a great house because its got an amazing lot and a ridiculous backyard.
If you thought I was gushing about the Lemon Meringue then you should see me when I talk about this backyard. You basically don’t even need a cottage with a backyard like this. It’s almost like you’re in Muskoka without having to drive all the way up there. It’s got a pool with a waterfall and a ton of privacy. Couldn’t you picture yourself lounging out back, eating some BBQ, drinking some beer(s), and forgetting about all the things in your life that may be stressing you out.
So I guess I could talk about the inside of the home, eh? It’s got hardwood, crown mouldings, nice 8” baseboards, pot lots, and so much more. It’s hard to even describe everything without this post being way too long. You should seriously just come and see it for yourself. I’d highly recommend it.
109 Willis Drive, For Sale in Aurora, has 4+1 Bedrooms (aka one in the basement) and 5 bathrooms. Plenty of space and completely ready for you to move in. You don’t have to do a thing, except you know, sell your current house, move into this one, and pop the cork on the champagne for making the best decision you’ve ever made in your life.
Let us know if you want to see this home, or learn more about it.
One of the Biggest Potential Mistakes People Make When Buying and Selling Homes

Buying and Selling homes can be a very emotional and trying time. One that can go wrong in many ways if you do not know what you are doing. There is one big thing people do, without realizing the risk they are taking, all the time when buying and selling a home. Most of the time its not an issue, but a lot of the home buying process is about mitigating risk in the event something does go wrong.
The mistake that people often make is having the deal close on the home they buy and the deal close of the home they are selling close on the same day. This is very common but its not a good idea. You can get a lot of headaches and cause a lot of problems if a few little things go wrong. It’s always better to space them out a couple days.
People primarily do it on the same day because they want to move out of one house and directly into the other and not be left homeless. The risk though is that sometimes a deal doesn’t close, or close on time, and leaves both deals at risk.
For example, if you’re buying a house and you need the money from your current house’s sale to buy it then you are dependent on the people who buy your home being able to close the deal on buying your house to be buy your next house. Well what if they can’t close? Or what if they are in the same situation as you but the people buying their house don’t close? All it can take is one person in a long line of deals to throw off three, four, five, or even more deals in one day because one person was not able to close the deal.
If that happens, guess what, now you are unable to close on the property or you have to get creative and that can get expensive. Its also not about just having the money available because someone wasn’t able to close the deal, what if there is a delay and it just doesn’t close that day and now you are stuck without anywhere to go? What if the people haven’t moved out of the home you are buying when you get there? It does happen, even though as soon as you get the keys if they are still there its considered trespassing.
So many things can happen and cause you a lot of headaches. So what should you do instead? Have the home your buying close a few days or even a week before the deal closes on the home you’re selling. That way you can make sure there aren’t any issues with having somewhere to go and you can start to move in some little things ahead of time and save moving day for the big stuff.
What if you need the money from the sale of your house to buy this home? Talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan. With interests rates so low today its not expensive to have the bank lend you the money. Most will be willing assuming you have a firm deal on the home you’re selling.
You’re still running the risk that the people buying you’re home don’t come through. There’s a solution for that too. For as little as $99 you can buy home closing insurance that will protect you in case the deal doesn’t close and cover costs up to $25,000.
The majority of the time, having both deals happen on the same day will not be a major issue but if it does, you’ll be glad to have thought ahead and protected yourself.
Have you ever encountered problems with closing two deals on the same day? Let us know in the comments below!
DO I HAVE TO TELL PEOPLE THAT SOMEONE DIED IN MY HOUSE WHEN I SELL?

Introducing a brand new series on our blog; Ask Us Anything. Submit a question and we will answer it in a future blog post.

Our first instalment comes a question that thankfully isn’t asked too often but still comes up from time to time.

Question: Do I have to tell people who want to buy my house that someone died in it?

This is trickier than just a simple yes or no. As the seller of the home, you do NOT have to disclose if someone died in the house. However, your agent DOES. From the perspective of a homeowner they do not have to disclose to potential buyers about deaths. All Real Estate Agents, governed by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) are required to disclose all material facts that could adversely affect a buyer’s decision to purchase the property or not.

So if someone has died in your home, your agent will have to disclose to any potential buyers. This should be done in writing before any offers are made. Usually a notice is put in the remarks of the listing for buyer representatives to contact the listing agent (the agent representing the home for sale) prior to any offers being submitted. At this point they will disclose the death and then the buyers can make the informed decision to move forward with an offer or not.

The tricky part is the grey area of the seller not having to disclose but the agent being required to. What’s tricky is that an agent also has to follow all lawful instructions of the seller. So if there has been a death and the seller tells their agent not to disclose then there is a conflict of interest. The sellers are bound by their agency relationship with their seller not to disclose the death but are required by RECO to disclose any material fact related to the sale of the home. In this situation the only thing an agent can really do is end the relationship. By not disclosing they can face fines, get sued, and possible lose their license. By disclosing against the wishes of their seller they can get sued by the seller as well. It’s a no-win situation.

It’s always better to disclose because eventually the buyers will always find out. Whether they can find someone on google or it isn’t until after they move in and start talking with the neighbours. Someone will always talk and eventually they will find out. Disclosing ahead of time saves a lot of headaches down the road.

Does a death in a house affect the value? It can, sometimes depending on the type of death (eg. Murder, Suicide, or Natural), but there is always a buyer out there who doesn’t care and it will not affect their decision to buy.

If you have a question you’d like answered then let us know in the comments below.

3 TIPS FOR HOSTING THE PERFECT OPEN HOUSE

That for sale sign has gone up on your home, and its time to start hosting some Open Houses to attract buyers to your home. Despite some differing opinions on the matter, open houses remain a very effective way to expose your property to potential buyers, and a lot of deals are happening as a result of successful open houses. Showcasing your home to potential home buyers however, is both emotional and a little nerve wrecking at the same time because strangers will now walk through the space you call your home and will try to envision it as their own.

So how can we make sure that your home for sale is set up so that it appeals to as many buyers as possible:

1) Maximize the Space – This may be a very obvious one, but it’s more important than we may think. When potential buyers are visiting your home, they base their opinions largely on first impressions. Luckily for us, these can be controlled for the most part. Sift through your belongings, and take a minimalistic approach when it comes to showcasing them. Storing items such as your extra towels, toiletries, books, shoes and anything else lying around should be temporarily hidden away inside storage boxes or inside cabinets.

2) De-Personalize – Your wedding portrait, kid’s graduation pictures, posters of your favourite boy band and your dogs paw prints all are better to be replaced or removed until the sale has been completed.. When a space is too personal, buyers often feel like they are in someone else’s space as opposed to being in their next home. Also, you don’t want to distract any visitors with any items that are too personal. If you want to see how to de-personalize go find a new neighbourhood and walk through a model home to see how they set them up.

3) Curb Appeal – This is a big bonus when it comes to selling your home. If visitors are impressed with how well you’ve kept up the front of your property, they will walk in much happier! Just make sure all the garbage bins and any obstructions from the entrance are also removed to allow easy access into the home. If it’s wintertime, ensure that your driveways are shovelled so that they can have easy access to your home.

Bonus tip: If your property is vacant, you may seriously want to consider investing in some staging. Many people lack the imagination and are unable to envision an empty space as a cozy home for their family. Research shows, that a larger portion of the impression your home makes is based on decor than it is on layout and size of a room. A good stager will be able to guide you on the best design for your home in order to make sure people can see the potential it has to offer.