Recommended Business Practices to Protect our Realtors from Covid-19 Spread

Showing Properties

  1. First make sure to question your buyers.
  2. Ask if they have travelled outside of Canada in the last two weeks?
  3. Ask if they have been on an airplane in the last two weeks?
  4. Ask if they have any type of cold or flu bug?
  5. If answered yes to any of the above, they should be in quarantine!
  6. Ask if it’s possible to have sellers be absent during the showing.
  7. Have buyers drive themselves; keep your distance, no hand shaking, fist pumps, etc.
  8. Wear gloves and masks during your entire showing and sanitize as soon as you finish.
  9. Do not touch your mouth under any circumstance.
  10. If client wants to make an offer do not bring them to the office or meet at coffee shop, instruct them to call you on the phone or send an email.
  11. Use all electronic technology available to prepare and present offers; do not present offers in person – same applies with all amendments and waivers.
  12. For building inspections see if it’s possible for only you and the building inspector to be present, then have the inspector call your client with the findings.
  13. Limit multiple viewings as much as possible; if another viewing is critical, ensure to ask all above questions again.

Listing Properties

  1. First make sure to question your sellers.
  2. Ask if anyone has traveled outside of Canada in the last two weeks?
  3. Ask if anyone has been on an airplane in the last two weeks?
  4. Ask if anyone has any type of cold or flu bug?
  5. If answered yes to any of the above, they should be in quarantine for two weeks! After two weeks you can check back in with them.
  6. If possible, ask to view house as quickly as possible then leave and conduct CMA over the phone or face-time.
  7. Wear gloves and masks for all client visits and sanitize as soon as you finish.
  8. Use all electronic technology available to sign all listing contacts, offers, waivers, amendments, etc. (DocuSign / Authentisign).
  9. It is strongly advised to not recommend public open houses or agent open houses, instead only conduct private showings.
  10. Advise sellers to be absent for all showings.
  11. Advice sellers to protect themselves by wiping down all doorknobs and any other commonly used surfaces around their home that visitors may touch.
  12. Post a message on the seller’s door warning no one to enter the premise if sick with flu or any cold bug.
  13. Use extra pictures and videos of home and property so buyers can take their time viewing the home electronically instead of physically seeing it.
  14. Limit showings to one day per week, as long as they don’t overlap.

Office Duty

Duty agents are to be available to handle their duty calls by cell. Please notify the office if you will not be able to handle duty calls.

Finally, do not panic, stay informed, and use your best judgement! The situation is rapidly changing. We at Royal LePage RCR Realty are committed to keeping everyone well informed during this pandemic and remember, we are all in this together!

6 of the Summer’s Hottest Marketing Tips for Realtors®

Summer is upon us! The hottest time of the year for listings differs based on your market, but it’s safe to say that the end of spring and beginning of summer are very active just about wherever you are. Families are desperate to get moved before the school year starts and those in cold climates don’t want to deal with moving in the dead of winter.

Now is the time to boost your marketing efforts to try to get a piece of the last big wave of sales that are likely coming in June, July and August. Here are a number of things to consider.

Contact past clients

Anytime you’re thinking of spending a lot of time and money trying to expand your network, remember that the most efficient way to gain new business is through your existing contacts. Reaching out to former clients for referrals is the most effective way to land leads. A satisfied former customer does not need any convincing to direct a friend or family member to you –– but he/she does need to be reminded.

Personal emails to former clients is a good bet. A one or two line message asking how the new home is going and reminding them to direct anybody in need of REALTOR® services to you will do the trick. Firing off 50 emails like that shouldn’t actually take that much time –– a few hours, perhaps. But it’s time well-spent.

Buy Facebook ads

Facebook ads are likely one of the most effective way to boost your name recognition. If you do your Facebook marketing right, not only will you gain some leads directly from people clicking through the ad to your site, but many who don’t click on your ad will nevertheless think of your name when they do need a REALTOR® in the future.

Use GIFs

If you want your paid and unpaid social media content to grab more people’s attention, just think about what the most successful websites do to get clicks and shares. Come up with some funny GIFs that make light of subjects that you are an authority on: house-hunting, mortgages, renovation etc.

Create a listicle of fun summer activities

If you do this one right, it should get shared like crazy on social media. Come up with the best things to do in the area –– swimming pools, festivals, state parks –– and try to tie as many as possible to different neighborhoods where people might be seeking a home.

Create a local real estate quiz

Another way to grab people’s attention is to develop a quiz based on the local real estate market that you put on your website and share on social media.

Matthew Bushery of Inbound Marketing described two different types of quizzes that can draw in potential clients: A light-hearted one focused on fun facts about the area or one that tests the quiz-taker on the intricacies of buying and selling a home. The first showcases your connection to the area while the second type shows potential clients that the real estate business might not be so easy to navigate without assistance.

Create video series profiling different neighborhoods

One of the best ways to become a recognizable brand online is to regularly produce video content featuring –– you guessed it –– yourself. One compelling way to showcase your appreciation and understanding of the local market is to do a short video profiling each neighborhood, showing the different types of houses, businesses and public amenities. Any history or other insight you can add to make it more interesting and less blatantly promotional is a plus!

What other marketing tactics are you planning on unleashing this summer? Leave a comment below or reach out on Facebook or Twitter!

7 Reasons Pre-listing Inspections are an Absolute Must

Just as a buyer needs to do their due diligence, a seller needs to do theirs so that bad judgement calls don’t derail their deal
By Cara Ameer for Inman

Cara Ameer, a top-producing broker associate from Northeast Florida, writes about working with buyers and sellers, sticky situations and real estate marketing in her regular Inman column that publishes every other Wednesday.

After several days (or weeks) of negotiating, an agreement between the buyer and seller is finally reached! The buyer is excited that they’ve found their new home, the seller is glad they will be able to move on to whatever is next and the agents are glad that their goals for that listing have come to fruition.

Contrary to what might be depicted on television or what many real estate agents think, when a contract is executed is not the time to begin celebrating. It marks the beginning of a long and uncertain process to a potential closing. There are almost always inspections to go through as well as an appraisal, if the buyer is getting financing. Much can go wrong with so many hands in the pot, and the fear of the unknown is real. Murphy’s Law is alive and well in real estate, and if the other shoe can drop, it will find a way.

The best way to increase a seller’s chances of crossing the closing finish line is to have a prelisting inspection done before ever coming on the market. Here are seven reasons why:

1. What you don’t know can hurt you

Knowledge is power, and surprise is never a good thing. It is easy for sellers to have a superficial and inflated view of their home. What could be wrong, they think? They’ve lived there for x years and if there was something seriously wrong, they would know it. Or, they just bought the home four years ago and had it inspected then — why would they need to do this now?

You see, it is those very thoughts that can come back to bite sellers. When was the last time your sellers went on their roof, looked in their chimney, crawled around in their attic or basement or under the foundation? Do they know how old their water heater and HVAC are? If they live in an older home, what about the plumbing and electrical systems?

This is exactly why you should have a pre-listing inspection. So you can get a grip on the physical health of your home.

2. You might not have to fix everything

Having a pre-listing inspection does not mean your sellers have to fix every item that comes up — but they do need to disclose everything. This is where you — the agent — come in to strategize with your seller on a plan of attack and what makes the most sense given the market, your competition, time frame for moving, etc.

Some things might need to be fixed in order to give comfort to a buyer or to qualify for the kind of financing they might be doing. For example, if there are buyers obtaining FHA or VA financing on homes in your area, any wood rot or termite damage will need to be fixed before the buyer can obtain the loan.

There might be items that are major vs. minor that you and your seller will need to take into account when pricing the home as they can definitely have an affect on what a buyer is willing to pay. Homes with older roofs, HVAC’s and water heaters on top of other repairs, coupled with a home that needs cosmetic updates can be viewed as “a money pit” in the eyes of a buyer.

If you are faced with a multitude of expensive items nearing the end of their life, you might need to consider replacing at least one and be willing to offer a home warranty to provide some coverage to the buyer for the first year of their ownership. The 15-year-old HVAC might be working great now, but that does not mean it won’t fail in the near future.

3. Disclosure is not an unpleasant surprise

Many sellers fear that by having an inspection, they will then have to disclose everything to a buyer which may cause them to pay less for the house. The truth is, a buyer is going to find out anyway, but it will be after they’ve already agreed upon a price and terms that they might not want to pay after the outcome of that inspection.

Avoid buyer’s remorse by shifting the knowledge of the home’s condition to the front end of the transaction rather than after the negotiation. Although a buyer will still have the property inspected by their own inspector, the information found will not be a surprise.

All houses have “things” that are found on an inspection. Even new homes that are under construction or nearly complete have items that need correction by the builder after they are inspected — this despite having a project manager who oversees the subcontractors working on the house.

4. It can keep the deal together

Back to the “surprise is never a good thing” concept, when you leave discovery of the home’s condition entirely to the buyer is when problems arise. The seller has already agreed upon a price and terms and depending on your home and the time of year it is on the market, the actual time to go under contract may have taken longer than what you thought.

You will have grown weary from numerous showings, second showings and “almost offers” that have never materialized. Now, you finally have a buyer and the transaction may be in jeopardy because of the outcome of the inspection.

The buyer wants to renegotiate the purchase price and/or ask for all repairs to be made or a huge concession to account for what was found. The sellers don’t feel like giving anymore, especially when they might be selling for less than what they thought (which is how most sellers often end up feeling). They could be paying closing costs on behalf of the buyer in addition to agreeing to leave certain appliances, such as the refrigerator and/or washer and dryer.

Everyone goes into full-on crisis mode trying to obtain estimates for the repairs and it is a hurry-up-and-wait game trying to get contractors over to look at the findings and then even more waiting to get their written quotes.

Keep in mind that buyers and their agents don’t always have a realistic handle on the true cost of repairs found from an inspection and might inflate or over-exaggerate the potential costs on purpose as a way to beat down the agreed upon price or force the seller to make repairs. Buyers might seek opinions from overpriced vendors trying to upsell, and sellers will find themselves running interference with this information trying to get their own quotes.

All of this chaos ensues while the clock keeps ticking on the inspection time frame as set forth in the purchase contract. Most contract time frames never take into account the real world of waiting on repair specialists.

Although most transactions are handled this way, it doesn’t mean that they should be. By being proactive, you can help your sellers avoid the stress of the unknown and level the playing field between them and the buyer by recommending a pre-listing inspection. Wouldn’t it be better to have done your homework, know what you will or won’t fix (or in some cases have already tackled it) and obtained estimates on all else?

What is unknown is simply an excuse most times for not taking the time to find something out ahead of time rather than after the fact. Sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich and being in denial of any inspection issues is not going to help get the home sold.

5. Incompetent inspectors can ruin a sale

This one is starting to become a serious problem in our industry. Just as the swell of real estate agents has increased as the market has improved over the last few years, so have the number of home inspectors.

What is required to become a home inspector varies from state to state and just because some states require licensure does not automatically grant that inspector sound judgement and the ability to legitimately diagnose/interpret a home’s condition. A license is never a substitute for competence — ask any seasoned real estate agent who has listed properties the amount of times they have had to run interference with an inspector’s report that was full of misdiagnoses.

The prospect of rookie inspectors who have only been functioning as an inspector barely a year or two — and who are running their own shop with virtually no support system and a more experienced inspector to mentor them — is cause for concern. They are crawling through someone’s largest investment and they don’t know what they don’t know and only know enough to be dangerous.

Newer inspectors often discount their fees as a way to build their business, and so what looks like a bargain compared to what more experienced and savvy inspectors charge is often at the expense of the transaction. Buyers might shop by price alone or an agent gives them a “coupon” that the inspector sent out in an email blast to agents hoping that it would generate some referrals. The agent might be newer and might have not vetted the inspector and doesn’t realize all inspectors, like agents, are not the same.

I have run interference with incompetent inspectors more times than I care to remember. It has been as simple as claiming a microwave in a newer home was not operable to the more serious: an allegation that a metal roof was improperly installed on a home that was located across from the ocean and was literally one good storm away (inspector’s wording) from being blown off. The roof was installed when the home was built, and it was a newer home.

After that buyer walked away, a few months later a category 2 hurricane hit(it was projected to be much larger on impact to the area) and the home sustained no damage whatsoever, and the roof was still standing. A roofer came to examine the roof after the first inspection and determined it needed some minor repairs but was properly installed.

An inspector with little knowledge of metal roofs made a bad judgement call. This not only scared the buyer but also the seller who was in “shock and awe” by the discovery and went into a tailspin calling the original builder, the county building department, etc.

My favorite inspector misdiagnosis was an inspector who had barely been licensed about a year claiming a nine-year-old house with a three-tab shingle roof, located 20 miles from the ocean and a 40 minute drive away, needed the roof replaced, because in Florida, those roofs have a shorter life. After that happened, two other home inspectors checked the roof along with a roofer and concluded no such thing.

There were some shingle repairs that needed to be made largely as a result of solar panels that had been installed on the roof about two years ago. That buyer walked after wanting to find a way to claim “hail damage” as a way to get a new roof installed, trying to push the seller to contact their insurance company. We did get another buyer and the second buyer did their own inspection, after which their inspector determined the roof did not need to be replaced.

Although buyers have the right to choose whatever inspector they want, having your own inspection done by a vetted, experienced, adequately insured and credible inspector can be a huge asset when you run into situations like this. That inspector will be available to consult with you during the home sale process and can assist with running interference should an incompetent inspector cross the home’s path.

6. You’ll have a smoother transaction and a faster closing

All parties want a purchase and sale process that is free of hitches and can close within a reasonable period of time. By getting a pre-listing inspection, the risk of the unknown is eliminated and the parties will enter a negotiation feeling confident and empowered.

If a seller is unable or does not wish to take on repairs, the property can be priced accordingly. At the same time, if a seller has replaced a big ticket item, like a roof or HVAC, it might help the home sell faster as the buyer might be willing to make an offer and pay a higher price because of it.

A significant portion of time that is normally eaten up by the inspection period and all of the back and forth trying to resolve repairs is reduced since everyone is aware of the issues and has a handle on what will or will not be done.

7. The home will be more insurable

Some repairs might have to be made for the next buyer to get insurance or they will likely need to have them done within the first 30 days of owning the home in order to get a lower insurance rate. If a seller has an an older home with knob and tube or aluminum wiring, for example, a buyer might run into a snag getting insurance or the quote might be much higher than anticipated.

The seller might have lived with older electrical or plumbing and not had any issues, however, this can become an issue for the next buyer. It is easy for sellers to become numb to issues that don’t concern them. Unfortunately, real estate transactions don’t work like that, and these are serious concerns any buyer would have before sealing the deal.

Buyer’s are often hesitant to take on significant projects, like a whole house rewire or re-plumbing, unless they can get it at the right price or a seller is willing to pay a significant portion of their closing costs to offset the amount such a project will cost.

Why risk a seller’s home sale while an unknown inspector could potentially wreak havoc on the home’s condition and ultimately thwart the entire transaction?  Knowledge is power. Just as a buyer needs to do their due diligence, a seller needs to do theirs so that bad judgement calls don’t derail their deal.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and global luxury agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.Article image credited to SpeedKingz / and Inman

What Is Your 5 Per Cent Work?

Did you know that anything we do really only requires 5 per cent of you? Which means we are not using 95 per cent of ourselves and those activities should be delegated or outsourced to someone else or something else and in turn leaves us more time on the 5 per cent of our gift and talent work.

Let us look at this analogy of a winery and selling wine. We start with the expert who grows the grapes for the wine with incredible attention, care and nurturing of those grapes and the growing of the grapes only represents the 5 per cent of the wineries success. Then the winery has someone else pick those grapes and has them crushed, squeezed, fermented, bottled, distributed, marketed, sold and money is collected. Really only 5 per cent of the wineries success is about the growing of the grapes. Just like only 5 per cent of a real estate agents success is what they do best and the agents gift and talent and they personally should be doing that 5 per cent activity every day.

So, what is that activity you ask?

I would say this is people or relationships!! The rest can be automated, systemized or delegated just like the wineries and what they do with those grapes and someone or something else’s expertise.

You should only do three things in your day that you are an expert at and only one of those activities at a time. The rest of it you delegate, systemize, automate or outsource.  You may think it’ sounds crazy but try delegating the other 95 per cent.

Ask yourself these questions:

1) What is your highest value contribution to your business success?
2) What is your 5 per cent?
3) Where do you need to hire, systemize or delegate the other 95 per cent of your business success to allow you to focus on your 5 per cent?

Stick to growing grapes and what you are gifted and talented at in your business. Imagine your days just doing the 5 per cent where you are in your sweet spot and can do effortlessly with expertise. What kind of impact would that have on you? Your business? Income?


Top Reasons to List – Buy/Sell over the Winter

We’ve all heard many excuses why home owners/buyers want to wait till spring to make a move in real estate.

The fact of the matter is, the excuses are endless so it’s our job as REALTORS® to be equipped with facts and a strong reality check to combat these reasons we hear everyday.

To help you through the winter season I put together some of the top reasons a client would want to choose this time of year to buy, sell or list a home.

Top Reasons to Sell Real Estate over the Winter

  #1 – Serious Buyers
• Yes there are fewer buyers, but those buyers are usually very SERIOUS about making a purchase or many HAVE to make a purchase.

#2 – Less Competition
• Most sellers wait until the spring or summer to list, so your home will have far less competition
• Spring = Greater supply = Same Demand = Less Money

#3 – January is the Biggest Transfer Month
• More corporate relocation moves happen during January than any other time of the year.
• Catch the corporate relocation buyers

#4 – High Attentive Efficient Service
• By putting the home on the market during the winter you experience better, personal and faster customer service from movers, lawyers, banks, insurance providers etc.

#5 – More Time to Get Top Dollar
• By starting to market your home early, you may be able to secure a higher price with more listing exposure time.

#6 – Time to Shop
• If your home sells quickly, you will be able to shop for your next home during the winter, a great time to find a bargain!
• More time to look and not pressure to shop and beat the other buyers.

#7 – More Advertising Punch
• Most REALTORS® and offices have less inventory during the winter, enabling your home to stand out even more.
• Less marketing noise out there for the buyers and they see your home with ease now.

#8 – The Inexpensive Money
• Today’s interest rates are still some of the lowest in history. This gives buyers more spending power and increases your buyer pool
• When shopping for your next home, you can benefit from the low interest on your new mortgage.

#9 – 20% of Homes Sold During the Winter
• Buyers and Sellers are usually quite motivated to get the transaction completed.
• This can mean less price haggling and fewer hassles during the process.

#10 – Non-Contingent Buying
• By selling now, you may have an opportunity to be a non-contingent buyer during the spring, when more houses are on the market!
• Less “subject to the sale” offers from buyers and you are not one of them when you are buying your next home.

#11 – No Yard Work
• Great time for a home that needs a yard make over to sell.
• No need to worry about your yard work. Snow makes it look fresh and white.

#12 – Buyers Are Searching
• Buyers begin the search and purchase for spring moves in January, February.
• Busy move times are March Spring Break, April Easter and May long weekend

#13 – No Pricing Games
• Less choice for buyers means less sellers to play pricing against each other
• Buyers will often make more concession in their buying decision with less choice

#14 – Show Time
• Property shows well, almost staged with holiday décor adding to the ambiance
• Tis the season for your home to shine!

#15 – Quality Showings
• Little chance of quick showings and not being prepared to show your home
• Easier time of year to make appointments and give sellers advance notice.
• Higher quality showings

#16 – Right Buyer, Right Time
• The odds are the same for the right buyer looking at your home regardless of the season.
• Right buyer, right time, right home

 Top Reasons to Buy Real Estate over the Winter

 #1 – Competing Offers
• Little or no chance of multiple or competing offers for the buyer

#2 – Service
• Better service from all service providers like the agents, banks, insurers etc. Not as busy now.

#3 – Motivation
• Sellers motivated at this time of year if still trying to sell from summer or fall.

#4 – Negotiation
• Sellers willing to negotiate, been on the market for some time now. Give and take.

#5 – Expired
• Buyers can shop the expired listings market, which has the largest selection this time of the year.

#6 – Closing Options
• Good time of year to make an offer and do the due diligence, buyers can move quickly now or slower in the spring if not in a rush.

#7 – Housing Options
• Easier for sellers to find alternative housing, not as much pressure finding a rental vs. the really busy spring and summer season.

#8 – Subject to the Sale
• Great time for buyers to make contingent “Subject to the Sale” offers and get them accepted and movement on the price.

#9 – Moving Services
• Easier time for a buyer to move and find help and services like movers, cleaners, storage.

#10 – Completions
• Better timing for buyers on completions with lawyers, banks land registry. Not that busy and time to attend to you now.

#11 – Competition
• Less competition for the same property from other buyers on the deals that pop up this time of year.

Now that you’re equipped with ammo to overcome any objection, go out there and list and sell some real estate this winter season.