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Do Open Houses Still Help to Sell Homes?

by Claire Franceschetti
Technology has changed the way property is bought and sold. Over 90% of buyers use the internet to start the search for a new investment property or to check out the competition before deciding to list a property for sale. Keeping up to date with new marketing tools is crucial, and a major part of my role as a selling Realtor. 

But buying and selling property is still very much a people business and I believe there are valuable opportunities for investors, sellers and Realtors to connect at open houses.

When you start your hunt for a new investment property, you may need to collect ideas of what you want. Listings online or on paper only tell you so much. Getting a sense of a property's space is one important aspect, but so too is the neighbourhood.

If there is an open house in the neighbourhood in which you want to buy, I recommend that my buyers attend. Even if you don’t love that particular house, it's an opportunity to see what your budget will buy in the area and to question the real estate agent about the local scene and amenities. If you are lucky, you may even overhear comments from other attendees about the property, neighbours and neighbourhood.

Doing research on the many housing styles, neighbourhoods, and by questioning several real estate agents in the area will also help you better define your needs and housing wish list when it’s time for you to put in an offer.  

Open houses have been a corner stone of selling property for many, many years. It’s a tested and true methods of selling a home and meeting potential buyers. I have met a wide variety of people during open houses – from the nosy neighbours and open house junkies to first-time buyers and some who later became my new clients.

The "looky-loo" type of house buyer does exist at open houses. But that shouldn't be used by agents as an excuse against open houses and that shouldn't deter investors from going to an open house to learn more about the property and the neighbourhood.

There may be people who are just attending an open house  to pass the time, but for every one of those types, in my experience, there are more attendees who are genuinely looking for a new property or for ways to improve their own before listing it for sale.

Adapting sales strategies to meet the changing demands of the online market is one aspect of real estate success, but so is connecting with people. Open houses are a great way to do that because you never know when you’re going to walk into your next investment property.

"Claire, How's the Market?"

by Claire Franceschetti

 

Real Estate Market Still Healthy!

Well, I just did my monthly review of the February sales numbers for the Toronto Real Estate Board today. The numbers in general, are still very strong in the GTA. 

Sales have dipped slightly compared to 2012. In February 2013 there were 5,759 sales reported on TREB which is lower by 15% off the 6,809 reported in February. Last year February had 29 days so there was an extra day of sales

Inventory has gone UP year over year.  The are 15,969 homes for sale on TREB which is up by almost 10% over February last year. With 15,969 homes for sale and 5,759 sales in February, this gives us a 2.8 months supply of inventory. Generally speaking we are still in what is considered a “Sellers Market”. There are of course some areas and price ranges that are really hot and others are more balanced. What’s interesting is that the number of new listings coming on the market has slowed down this February over last. I’ll keep an eye on this as we’ve been dealing with a tight inventory supply and it’s been a welcome relief to have a few more homes on the market.

What’s going to happen? My opinion hasn’t changed at all. Sales will remain healthy and prices will increase slightly over the year. With the increased inventory in many areas, buyers will have more choices and so sellers will need to be careful to price their homes right. As far as I’m concerned, these are perfect market conditions right now.

Who do you listen to? There is so much confusion out there with mixed messages being reported. If  want to get a clearer picture, please give me a call. And remember, if you know anyone who needs help with real estate and is looking for an agent, I have a good one in mind!

How Buying Your First Home Is Like Your First Day of University

by Claire Franceschetti

First-time homebuyers often experience total excitement, frustrating setbacks and overwhelming anxiety much like they may have encountered on their first day of university.   These two experiences are remarkably similar.  Buyers are often searching for the perfect home.  They have high expectations of finding an affordable house with great schools, a big yard and character.  Beginning university students are also motivated to use their money wisely, tackle all of the challenges that higher education presents and earn high scores – all while working.  Along with wild expectations, there are five more blaring similarities between the two experiences. (Above, is a picture of my UofT Experience: Woodsworth College.)
 

1. Lifetime Milestone
 
Remember the excitement of the first day of University?  Finally, students move away from home and explore a whole new city away from their family and friends.  These 18 year olds get to take on more responsibility and fully enjoy their new freedoms.  Going to University is a rite of passage for many youth in Canada; it’s a huge transition.
 
For buyers, owning a home is a momentous transition into adulthood.  Homeownership is a major commitment of money and time.  When buyers purchase a home they are planting roots in a community for at least a few years.  They can finally unpack all of their boxes, settle-in and call one place home.  Buyers accept the responsibility of home maintenance and payments.
 
Both of these experiences are milestones at different stages of life.  They indicate a major transition and an increased level of responsibility.  Going to college and buying a home are both accomplishments representing maturity.
 
2. Underestimating the Lengthiness of the Process?
 
Getting into the right University can take months (if not years!).  Teenagers study for tests to qualify for acceptance, go through the application process and then wait.  Upon acceptance, students have paperwork and orientations to go through.  Finally, on the first day of class, students have to travel all around a foreign campus to get from class to class.  Even the most prepared student may underestimate how long it takes to walk or bus from class A to class B.  Getting in and adjusting to this level of school can be a stressful process that tests patience and confidence.


 


The home-buying process also takes an enormous amount of patience.  Buyers should be pre-qualified for a loan before their house hunt begins.  Finding the right home requires persistence to attend open houses, search online and stay in contact with realtors.  Buyers can be out-bid or turned down.  Once a home is selected and an offer is accepted, the process continues.  There is an inspection, tons of repeat paperwork and rapid exchanges between the buyer and lender.  After the papers are signed, the money must be issued to the seller and the deed recorded before the purchase is final.  Buyers may feel at times like they will never see the keys!
 
Lots of front-end work must be completed before finalizing acceptance into a college or the purchase of a home.  When one stressful step is completed, another begins.  The question of getting into a college or a home can be emotionally discouraging.  Both processes can be ongoing and require persistence.
 
3. Learning Curve
 
Think back on that first day of University.  Remember how every reference to a class, a department, a building or a book was expressed as an acronym?  No matter how many times new students reference their orientation manuals, those acronyms just don’t seem to stick.  Eventually, students become comfortable explaining that they live in B.T. eat lunch in the V.U. study their G.U.R.s and plan to complete a B.A. in G.S.  Even if students have all of their books on the first day and show up with every supply imaginable, these acronyms can make them feel confused or behind.
 
Similarly, first-time home buyers may feel like they know all about loan options and mortgage rates before meeting with their lender.  When all of the numbers are in front of them and all of the answers are provided in real estate jargon, it can be mind-boggling.  The choice of loan program can determine the next 30 years of a buyer’s monthly costs.  It can be distressing to make such long-lasting decisions without clarity.
 
It’s important to ask questions and do research.  Whether it’s the first day of University or the beginning of the home buying process, questioning the experts is the best way to get pointed in the right direction.  Studying the processes and topics that present challenges is another good way to get back on track.  Lacking confidence can make a student or buyer feel unprepared to move forward.  However, in time, these topics will become familiar and second nature.
 
4. Studying To Catch Up

Some professors use the first class of a semester to hand out syllabi and discuss how the course will progress over the next few months.  Other professors jump right into lecture.  Such rapid adjustment to topics can overwhelm new students.  They are often left wondering if they already missed an assignment and hoping the professor doesn’t call on them.  Alternatively, that fast approach can motivate students to read their books to get up to speed so they do not find themselves unprepared again.
 
When a buyer’s offer is accepted, he can hire an inspector to evaluate the condition of the home.  Inspections can last several hours, and the buyers are recommended to be present.  The inspector references building codes or points out structural inaccuracies.  After the findings are compiled, the buyer can decide whether he wants to proceed with the purchase or negotiate deductions.   For first-time home buyers, this step can be well above their knowledge base.  New homeowners rarely know how much it would cost to correct an electrical panel, fix some water damage or replace the roof.  Buyers may find themselves studying that night to find out if the fixes are worth the trouble.
 
A student’s first day of an intense college class or a buyer’s first home inspection can be overwhelming.  Both student and buyer should research the material to be better prepared and educated in the future.  However, even when topics are above an individual’s knowledge base, diving right in can motivate him to catch-up and become better informed.
 
5. Buyer’s Remorse
 
After students have experienced the first day of class, they may feel like they have taken on more than they can manage.  The course load could be too intense or the balancing of a job may be unachievable.  Once the tuition check goes through, it’s difficult to go back on the commitment.  The feelings of hopelessness or fear can sometimes be explained as buyer’s remorse.  All of that money is gone and applied to something that seems unattainable.
 
First-time home buyers may also experience such remorse.  Buyers go through such a long process of completing one step after another that their focus may not be on the final purchase until it’s complete.  The size of the mortgage payment can be shocking and saving money for each payment can be stressful.
 
A University education is invaluable, regardless of the career path graduates choose.  Education sets an individual up for a successful future.  A degree opens the door for more professional opportunities and higher standards of pay.  Buying a home doesn’t make perfect sense for everyone.  For most, it’s a financially sound decision for their future wealth.  Whether the home is purchased in downtown Toronto, Vaughan, Brampton or Richmond Hill, it’s a long-term investment that appreciates in value.  Although the purchases of education and a home are some of the most expensive in an individual’s lifetime, they are generally quality investments with high returns.
 
In conclusion, try to soak up the pride associated with these comparable milestones.  Stay persistent through the long processes and adapt as each presents challenges.  Begin as prepared as possible and study if the steps seem confusing.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions of experts, family, friends or the web.  When it’s finally complete, appreciate the degree and home that were worked for so diligently.  Not everyone is steadfast enough or financially sound enough to complete University or purchase a home.  Be responsible for the commitments made and relish in the accomplishments.

More than ever, people are asking me about the market, and when I speak with my colleagues the general feeling is that sales are slowing down, and we might be heading into a period of balance.

Welcome news to those of you who are looking to buy property without the pressures of multiple offers and buyer frenzy. Sellers are also having to adjust their expectations, as there are more properties on the market, and they are sitting for longer periods of time.

Here's Toronto Real Estate Board's economist Jason Mercer with a recap of the housing market in the GTA for October. Enjoy!

 

Are you a Part Time Buyer? Well, Of Course NOT!!!

by Claire Franceschetti

Part Time Sellers? Part Time Buyers?

Are you a part time seller or a part time b
uyer? Of course not. When you're looking to sell or find a new home, there is no half way about it.


Let me share a story that will demonstrate the possible liability of using a part time agent. Recently I sold a condo just north of Toronto.

When I received the offer, I was surprised to see that the buyer had excluded all the stainless steel appliances, window coverings, and light fixtures.  Although not common, occasionally buyers want to purchase their own items, and don't want any "used" chattels at all. In this case, this exclusion
totalled about $9000 worth of of washers, dryers, fridges, stoves, dishwashers and light fixures for the entire home. I suspected that the agent made a mistake and excluded all these items in error. Perhaps the agent had intended to include them in the offer?

Acting as the agent for the seller, I explained the offer as it was submitted, and explained that my client was in a position to keep all the appliances for her next home. This was ideal since she was building a new house, and would need to purchase new appliances when the project was completed. We discussed the possibility that this was anerror on the part of the buyer's agent, and that it was likely a major oversight.

My client (such a lovely lady!) decided that rather than accepting the offer as written, she directed me to verify whether the buyers really wanted to exclude all the appliances etc.

Sure enough, the agent had excluded all chattels in error and her clients wanted every inclusion. She suddenly realized that the seller was in a position to accept the offer and keep close to $10,000 in appliances. I am certain that the agent would have been held liable for this mistake, and would have to pay for all the missing items.

 

Now, a $10,000 error can be corrected with some effort, but there many liabilities involved in Real Estate transactions. I have to ask people who are using part-time agents: What part of professional service is not important?

For a list of important questions to ask an agent before hiring them, check out my blog on Interview Questions!

Are You Fit to Sell? Check out the Info Packed Video

by Claire Franceschetti

 

 

Open Housing Anyone? Come See me at 140 Kingscross Drive

by Claire Franceschetti

Calling all Buyers! Here's an opportunity to see a stunning executive estate in the heart of King City.

Please come to my open house on Sunday October 21 2012 from 2-4 pm, and see this beautifully updated 5 bedroom bungalow. The 2 acre property boasts manicured lawns and hardwood forest.

Free pumpkins for the kids too! Give me a call for more info and directions! Everyone is welcome!

http://<a href="http://idx.imprev.net/03782F07/97/91397/1771560/index.ipv">140 kingscross virtual tour</a>

Buying New Condos: Food for Thought...

by Claire Franceschetti

I recently read an article, in a Toronto news paper, that got me thinking about the experiences of home buyers purchasing newly built condominiums. The article detailed home buyers who had bought a newly constructed condominium, from floor plans, but, unfortunately, once the unit was built, they were disappointed when they realized that one window looked at a brick wall, the floor was laminate and the balcony was “more of a ledge.” This article is a good reminder that there is a lot to consider when deciding to buy a newly built condominium.

Condominiums are regulated by the provincial Condominium Act. In recent months, there has been some talk about the need to reform this law, in part to provide better consumer protection. There is no doubt that the Condominium Act does need reworking but “caveat emptor” or buyer beware can go a long way to help home buyers considering any property, including newly built condominiums.

When buying newly built housing, there are many things to consider. Firstly, when you walk into a new housing sales office, please realize that, often, everyone working there is working on behalf of the seller/builder. If that is the case, you may have discussions with them, but their fiduciary duty is to the builder, not you as the Buyer. With this in mind, you do have the option of working with a Realtor and entering into a Buyer Representation Agreement, to authorize them to work on your behalf in any Purchase.

At any time that you work with a licensed Realtor they must disclose, to all parties, on whose behalf they are working, in writing. For years, I have been hoping that the Government of Ontario would make disclosure part of all sales that happen in the Province. Currently only REALTORS®, who are licensed under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act 2002, must do so. Consumers would be better protected if other parties that are involved in real estate transactions, including lawyers, private sellers and new construction on-site salespeople, were also required to do so. It’s only fair: anyone acting on behalf of someone else should have to disclose their relationship with the Buyer or Seller.

Secondly, a very important thing to know is that all Buyers of newly built condominiums are entitled by law to a 10 day cooling-off period, during which time they can cancel their agreement. This is a good time to peruse all documentation and take it to a lawyer for review. When dealing with condominiums, it could help to use a lawyer who specializes in Condominium Law. The lawyer may have good advice on stipulations that you can add into the contract to better protect yourself.

Thirdly, understand what you are buying:


•Make sure that a condominium suits your lifestyle. Do you have a good sense of the reality of a 665 square foot property with two bedrooms and two bathrooms? If you have house-sized furniture are you ready to sell it all to make this type of new space "liveable".
•Be diligent in getting the details. If the plans show nine foot ceilings, is that in all of the rooms? Where will the heating, cooling, and water be located for the apartment below and above? Ask for the full building plans so you can see where the bulkheads are planned.
•Understand the status of the neighborhood. Is it a stable neighborhood with little re-development or is their significant development on-going, or coming, that could change the nature of the area, and affect things like the view from your unit. The municipality’s Official Plan and Planning Department staff can help you look into the future to get an idea of what may be coming.
•Be realistic in your expectations for the property’s value; use common sense. Getting caught up in hype and speculating that your unit will increase dramatically in value from the time you purchase until construction is complete could leave you disappointed.

Finally, be sure to consider all of your options. For many home buyers, newly built housing is the right choice; however, if you are the type of person who likes to “kick the tires” before buying, purchasing a re-sale property might be a better option for you.


Newly constructed housing is an important part of the real estate market. It fills an important niche and is the right choice for many people. However, as with any major purchase, it is important that you take steps to look out for your best interests. Go the extra step to make sure that you understand what you are buying, and consider working with a Realtor who can provide assistance and advice during the purchase of your new home.

Prelisting Inspections: Should Buyers Trust Them?

by Claire Franceschetti

As a buyer, should You trust the seller's pre-listing home inspection report?
 
My clients often ask this question of me when they are preparing to offer on a property.  
 
This type of report is prepared by an inspector at the request of the seller, mostly for properties that are holding off on offers in an attempt to generate multiple offers.  
 
Pre-listing home inspection reports that are paid for by the seller may or may not be accurate. Companies that do home inspections are only as good and as ethical as the hired inspector.  If an inspector produces a report that overlooks certain problems, the buyer may not be aware of impending liabilities.  
 
 
As a Buyer's agent working for the interests of the buyer, I would always recommend a property be inspected by a Qualified home inspector of the buyers choice prior to buying a property.  
 
If there are no competing offers on the table, I would suggest to always include the condition of a home inspection.  Even in the case of a total demolishing job, I would still recommend an inspection to determine whether there are special waste disposal issues to consider during demo. (i.e. removal of vermiculite or asbestos can be very costly.)
 
If there are several other expected offers, one option is to get a home inspector of the buyer's choice though the property prior to offer presentation.  Most listing agents allow this to happen as it's a good indication that the buyers are building a stronger offer.  
 
 
Last Word: Beware of Cheap Inspections! Quality inspections by qualified and competent inspectors are worth the price. Don't opt for the cheapest inspector.

3 Things I Hate About Some Realtors

by Claire Franceschetti

Confused_face : A young man with his hand on his chin looks like he is thinks deeply about something. Doodle question words floating in the background. Stock Photo

1.  Armed and Dangerous

There are 36,000 Realtors in the GTA. The guy at my local car wash is a licensed Realtor. They seem to be everywhere, and most of them are "SECRET" agents! Stats show that only one quarter of these agents did a deal last year, and trust me, that's a good thing. Why you ask? 

I received an offer on my client's property last summer, and the "one-deal-a-year" agent didn't have a clue how to write up an offer. My client's name appeared as the buyer, and the actual buyer's name was totally missing. The agent also left out any conditions or clauses! I seriously thought someone was kidding around with me! Eventually, I sorted this inept agent out and got a great deal for my client, but it was really ridiculous. 

2. Lazy, Lazy, Lazy

I can't believe that agents won't do simple but important work.  Things like running a spell check on a listing before publishing it,  not measuring the dimensions of rooms, and leaving out all the details about their properties drives me crazy. How hard can it be to do the job right the first time?

3.  Snotty is for Kleenex

Sorry, but I'm done with pretentious agents who put on large airs. I have found that the most successful agents are those that are approachable and down to earth. Good agents understand that deals only come together if the parties are willing to communicate with each other. Respecting everyone that is involved in a deal is important: this is the foundation of professionalism.

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13

Contact Information

Photo of Claire Franceschetti Real Estate
Claire Franceschetti
Right At Home Realty Inc.
190 Marycroft Ave.
Vaughan ON L4L5Y2
Direct: 416-918-6325
Office: 416-391-3232
Fax: Fax: 416-987-8001