Meet Tammy Dubreuil


The Official Krisztina Blogsite

Now I’d like to officially introduce you to my newest Sales Representative, Tammy Dubreuil. Tammy is a new Agent, but she’s not new to Real Estate. She has been manning the front desk at my Re/Max office for 4½ years and in the last year, completed her licensing. She had always set her sites on a career in Real Estate (in some aspect), starting in Grade 11 when she did her Co-op placement in the Marketing Department at the Re/Max Millcreek Office for a full year. It was during this time she got to understand how Real Estate Marketing works as she got involved with the execution of Flyers and Feature Sheets and so much else. Her first career thought after High School was Interior Design but she soon saw a future in the growing Real Estate industry of Staging. She became a certified Home Stager and continues to stay updated on the latest trends. (She also named Staging and Interior Design as one of her hobbies – I love that!! A hobby that will make her a better Real Estate Agent!!) Tammy jumped into Home Ownership at a young age in 2008. She and her fiancé bought their first house in Milton, which is where she is now becoming an Area Specialist. At our Re/Max office, she chose me to be her Agent for this transaction and this is when I first really got to know her. I found I had a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and determined Buyer to work with. Home ownership has been a learning curve for Tammy and she tackles as many household tasks as she can. (She comes by it honestly with a Contractor dad!!) She wields a paint brush with the best of them, she gets her fingers dirty designing her garden, she is learning electrical and plumbing and recently put in a brand new light fixture by herself!! She has made sure all of the requisite upgrades were done in her home – pot lighting, crown moulding, a new deck and some great curb appeal with extended flagstone and stone flower boxes. Of course with her Staging and Interior Design vision, she gets to make most of the decorating calls in the house!! They have recently purchased their next home in Milton – this time they decided on a new home (closing in May 2012). Tammy felt that going through the experience of building is something she wanted to do not only for her personal know-how, but to make her a better Agent. She feels she now has a better understanding of cost versus value, she knows the types of materials offered and can read blueprints with the best of them. Now she can advise Clients on upgrades and renovations with confidence. On the home front, Tammy is looking forward to a destination wedding in November 2012 (it’s going to be a big year!). She and her fiancé currently share their home with 3 dogs. She is a fierce animal lover who appreciates the responsibility, unconditional love and outdoor exercise that come with dog ownership. Her 2 Shih-poos (Meika 4 and Bailey 2) get along famously with her 1½ year old German Shepherd, Skyla!! Milton offers a great Leash-free Zone on 4th Line with an acre of field where her dogs can socialize. Tammy is extremely knowledgeable about Milton. She has gone to great lengths to educate herself on the amenities in the area as well as the neighbourhoods, the housing designs & layouts, and the home values. She calls it a great small town that is developing fast, a community with nothing but great things in its future. When Tammy was completing her Licensing, she approached me to mentor her because she felt I stood out with my work ethic and drive. Since having Tammy join my Team, I have found her to be determined and hardworking. It’s a new experience for me from a managerial standpoint to train a newly licensed Agent and so far I love it! From her standpoint, she has said “I’m really excited and very honoured to be worked with the Krisztina Team. It’s a great opportunity and the ladies I’m working with will provide me with a great foundation for a long career in Real Estate. I learn something new every single day and I don’t think there will ever be a dull moment!! I LOVE the whole industry. I love meeting new people on a regular basis and I love getting into the bones of a house. When my mind is set, I work really hard, I go for it and I get it done.” If she brings all of that self-motivation and determination to my Team, I see only great things in the future! Welcome to the team, Tammy.


Meet Jennifer Patterson


The Official Krisztina Blogsite


As promised, I will be doing a series of Blogs introducing you to my Team Members. Today I would like to officially introduce you to Jennifer Patterson. Jen has been working with me since November 2010. I was looking for an experienced Sales Representative who could expand my business, specialize in the growing Toronto condo market, serve the Toronto market in general and be my #1 backup in Oakville and Mississauga. Jen had been working on her own in my RE/MAX office and I loved her energy and professionalism. She shares my sense of integrity, my work ethic and my drive and she always goes 120% for her Clients. In a way, she balances me and I would consider her the ‘softer’ one (although I have seen her in Tiger Mode!!). She knows the condo market inside and out and she has been the perfect addition to my team.

Jen graduated from York University with an Honours Degree in Fine Art. Her next step was a combined Law and MBA degree…but as she sat in a room with acceptances for this program from York in one hand and U of T in the other, she realized she should be a heck of a lot happier. This ultimately became a defining moment in Jen’s life (and my ultimate gain…hah!) as she embarked on a soul-searching trip to Europe to plot out what the rest of her life might look like. When she returned to Canada, she knew she wanted financial security and she knew she wanted to own investment properties, so she decided to educate herself in the Real Estate Market by taking her Real Estate License to better understand  how to invest. And something happened…she fell in love with the real estate game and embarked on a career as a Real Estate Agent!!

Top-notch Client Service comes naturally to Jen. While putting herself through university, she bartended at many of Toronto’s hottest night clubs and worked retail at the same time. To me, that’s the perfect foundation for understanding Client service. As well, her parents had the foresight to enroll her in French immersion starting in Kindergarten. She then parlayed her French fluency into a command of both Spanish and Italian. Her languages have served her well as she traveled extensively through the Caribbean and Europe. This is another belief that we share – it’s a big world out there, full of fresh ideas and fresh perspectives, with so much to learn from other cultures. In fact Jen even spent a month in South Africa working with Rotary. There she worked at medical clinics (playing and reading to the kids), she sorted books in warehouses and most memorably, she helped assemble makeshift wheelchairs from donations of plastic chairs, metal frames and bicycle tires. Her best takeaway from that experience: the littlest things can make the biggest difference!

Jen is not only an expert in the Condo market, she also lives in one. She is a big proponent of condo living – it’s easy and it’s safe, she says. She loves not having to do any outdoor maintenance, she appreciates having an in-house gym and enjoys being close to friends, activities and her social life. Living in the DNA Condos, she also can’t say enough about the King St. West neighbourhood! She loves having great shops, lounges and restaurants at her doorstep, but it’s also close to the lake and lots of parkland with running and bike trails at her disposal. (Being able to walk to the CNE is another great plus!) The thriving
Queen St. West art culture is also close by. She loves the urban excitement and vibe but appreciates still being surrounded by greenery. “For right now”, she says, “I’m exactly where I belong!!”

Jen says she was attracted to the opportunity of joining my Team because after 5½ years, she had hit a point where she wanted to give everything she possibly could to each and every Client but found she had very little left for herself. She had no proper vacation time and no BlackBerry-free time, so it was difficult to get recharged. She felt that Cathy and I had great systems in place, a wonderful support structure and an environment that allows you to thrive and still relax a little. She liked my drive and determination and loves that I have her back both personally and professionally. I’ve always said that buying or selling a home is incredibly stressful and emotionally trying. All the good, all the bad, all the blood sweat & tears, Jen is in it for the Client and has
always said she is honoured to be part of their process. That’s Jen in a nutshell and that’s why I’m confident she will be a great asset to my team!!
Welcome to the Team, Jennifer!!

It’s Official…We’re a Team!!


The Official Krisztina Blogsite

Teamwork is defined as Collaboration. Cooperation. Synonyms include Alliance, Assistance, Combined Effort, Doing Business With, Synergism and Pulling Together. On the Chapters website, no less than 349 books are related to ‘Teamwork’, starting with titles in the kid’s department. Expand that search to ‘Team’ and you get 7,649 results. Bottom line: teamwork is important and team-building skills should begin at a young age for best payoff! I’ve often taken the ‘solo’ path in my business and personal pursuits. I was a gymnast. I paddled singles in kayaking. I ride my horse, Stoli. I play tennis – singles! I started an Art Restoration business. I was an Extras Casting Director. And then a Real Estate Agent. But what I learned along the way is that teamwork was always a crucial element to my success. I wasn’t alone. I had coaches, teachers, trainers, mentors, friends and family. Occasionally I had partners and often, I had people working for me. Seems I had a team all along!

For the past 5 years, my team has been Cathy Braun and me. (Along with outside help in IT, Web Design, Graphic Design, Videos and even Blogging!) Cathy is a licensed Real Estate Agent who handles the Administrative, Marketing and Client Care side so that I can concentrate on my Clients in the field. (Most of you have probably heard me expounding on Cathy’s infinite qualities and my dependence on her to keep the show running.) Well, the time has come to expand the team. It is a crucial step in keeping up with our ability to meet the needs of our growing Client base and still have some down time for ourselves. As well, I now have lots of Clients who needed my services – but in places outside my area of expertise (which is Oakville, Mississauga and Burlington). So together, Cathy and I started looking for people who would be a good fit with us – that is, strong personalities with shared values, knowledgeable, professional and hardworking. And that is why we asked Jennifer Patterson to join us. I always loved her energy and have seen firsthand her great work ethic and commitment to her Clients. The addition of Jennifer expands our business into the Toronto condo and residential market and together we are able to serve first time Buyers, move-up Buyers, Empty Nesters downsizing as well as Investment Buyers. And Jennifer’s 5½ years experience as a Real Estate Agent gives me a strong backup in Oakville and Mississauga. We also decided to add a brand new Real Estate Agent to the mix, Tammy Dubreuil. I had gotten to know Tammy as she manned the Reception Desk at our RE/MAX Office while she worked towards her licensing. She had previously chosen me to be her Buyer Agent and we established a great working synergy. It seemed a natural choice when she approached me to be her Mentor. She’s young. She’s energetic. She’s motivated. She’s driven. I look forward to helping shape her career as a Real Estate Agent and feel she’s a great fit not only for our Team, but for the fast-growing community of Milton where she will specialize.

So that’s us. Me, Krisztina. Cathy. Jennifer. And Tammy. We’ve already formed a fairly cohesive unit and our combined energy is off the charts! Over the next few weeks, I will devote a Blog individually to each member so that you might get to know them a little better. And in the meantime, keep an eye out for our upcoming video, “Meet Krisztina’s Team”. Enjoy. (PS We are in the midst of getting our new photos…)

Seller Don’ts


The Official Krisztina Blogsite

My new series SOLD! is off to a great start and I’m happy to introduce Episode #2: Seller Don’ts. No surprise, this follows Episode #1: Seller Do’s. I hope all you potential homesellers find both episodes useful. Let’s get to it! First and foremost, don’t hire a Listing Agent who offers you the highest listing price. You must ask yourself: Is it realistic? What are the Market Comparables? What is the cost of upgrades to merit that price? What’s the Agent’s motivation for the Listing? (Are they using the Listing to attract new clients?) What dollar value are they committed to investing into marketing? What is the Agent’s track record for Days on Market? Bottom line: an overpriced home will sit on the market and will more than likely suffer the pain of one or more price reductions! And if you are using a Team, don’t assume the Team Leader will be involved in your sale. Make sure you meet them at the first meeting and ask questions. What is their role? Who is the ‘Lead’ Agent? Who is your liaison? Who is driving the marketing plan? Who is hosting the Open Houses? And to all of these questions, ask why…and there will be no surprises.

Don’t be home during Showings. Leaving for the Open Houses is a given, but often people are loathe to vacate the home for individual showings. This is a huge mistake. A new home is an incredibly emotional purchase and people must be able to visualize themselves in the home at the showing. That’s very difficult if you are home working, eating or watching TV. That being said, of course, you must be given enough lead time and warning by your Agent. (PS This is also why you must keep the ‘Showing Clean’ state of your home!) And speaking of Showings, don’t turn down Showings especially in the first 2 weeks. That might just have been your Buyer! I know it’s difficult and life often has a way of intervening – be it family functions, work from home, sick children, unpacking from a weekend away – but I urge you to suck it up here! It takes roughly 30 Showings for 1 Good Offer. It’s to your advantage to try and get that offer in the shortest period of time! As for Open Houses, don’t get talked out of them! I believe Open Houses are an absolutely integral piece of the Marketing Plan for homes priced in the $800,000 or less range. Experience has proven that a well-priced, well-staged home will sell faster with multiple Open Houses than without.

If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days, don’t assume it’s your Agent’s fault. Weather and holiday patterns often affect Buyer activity from week to week. So it is important to look at the big picture. But of course, don’t be afraid to ask the questions: Has your Agent fulfilled their marketing obligations? Is your home priced at Fair Market Value? Have any significant changes occurred in the Real Estate market since you listed? This can happen in the Oakville real estate market where I work just as with other markets. When discussing the Listing Price of your home, don’t push a price on your Agent. (And if you can, don’t use that Agent!) There was a cost to you when building or buying your property. There was a cost to you for possible renovations. However, the Listing Price of your home is not those 2 costs added together plus a little for inflation or appreciation. The Listing Price of your home is Fair Market Value which is determined by the state of your home, the area comparables and the overall health of the Real Estate Market at any given point in time. Period! And when it comes to marketing your home, don’t focus on Print Ads. In today’s market, the Internet and Social Media have become crucial (and often more important) tools in your Agent’s Marketing Plan. And on that note, don’t over-advertise your home in the newspaper. A home that appears week after week can turn Buyers off.

And finally, don’t harass your Agent about the Who’s and What’s of Showings. Set up a communication plan for feedback and stick to it. Don’t ask about the prospective Buyers – it’s simply not relevant. When your Agent has actionable feedback or an offer in hand, don’t worry – they’ll call you!! Okay, I think you’re ready to sell now. Good Luck!!!

SOLD! Seller Do’s


The Official Krisztina Blogsite

I have just launched my new series, SOLD! Over the next year I will be discussing all the Real Estate topics that matter to you. These topics won’t just be applicable to the Oakville real estate market but will also be able to help anybody looking for resources in the real estate area. On my first episode, I tackle Seller Do’s. My first Seller Do is: Do your homework when choosing a Real Estate Agent. Research them through their websites, visit them as they host an Open House, talk to other Clients and interview more than 1 Agent. Remember, in the end the personality fit is sometimes just as important as the Agent’s experience. And if you’re hiring a Real Estate Team, do make sure the Team Leader is present at the first interview/meeting. Find out what the Team Leader’s role will be through the process – Who will spearhead the marketing? Who will host the Open Houses? Who will negotiate the offer? Who will handle the day-to-day communication? It’s crucial that you understand where everyone stands before the work begins. And if your Agent suggests staging and/or upgrades, do listen to them. A house that shows well and is well priced will sell sooner, often for more money. Do offer the cooperating Agent 2 ½ % commission. Although commission rates are negotiable, I strongly believe that offering a 2 ½ % commission will motivate more Buyer Agents to bring more Clients through your home and in the end will turn a quicker sale, possibly for more money. It is also important in this day and age that you fully understand your Agent’s Marketing Plan. How do they use the internet and various websites? How much print do they use? How much signage is used for an Open House? Do they use video tours? Do they have a Client pool that they might bring to the table? During the showing stage, do maintain staging and cleanliness. A potential Buyer could be calling for a showing at any time. (PS Selling clean and everyday clean is not the same thing!!) And speaking of showings, do hope for many showings in the first few weeks. The rule of thumb: in a good market, 30 Showings = 1 Strong Offer. So be patient and make your home available to Buyers. It is also important that you do have a Lock Box on your home at this time. No Lock Box limits your showing potential for other Agents. And the showing you lose might have been a sale! Although it sounds obvious, do shovel and salt your driveway and walkway as needed. Nothing turns off a Buyer Agent more!! (And of course in other seasons, keep lawns trimmed and gardens tended.) During the selling process, do have a communication plan with your Real Estate Agent for feedback on showings. I typically suggest one day a week, either by phone or email. If I have any crucial information (such as a pending offer or something in the home that we could change quickly), I will of course be in touch immediately. It doesn’t help anyone to call the Agent after every showing. They may or may not have gotten feedback and it often turns into a time-waster. If your home has been sitting on the market for more than 30 days, do find out why. Was it priced too high? If your Agent wants a price reduction, be sure to view their market comparables. Did the Agent fulfill their marketing obligations? Their Open House obligations? If not, perhaps you need to re-strategize with your Agent. Once you are in the process of negotiating an offer, do try to encourage a sit-down offer at which you can be present. More deals are completed when done face-to-face as it is much harder to communicate via fax or email. So that’s it for my major Seller Do’s. Watch for Episode #2 of SOLD! coming soon. Appropriately, the subject will be Seller Don’ts!!

Am I A Coach or Are We A Team? Both!!


The Official Krisztina Blogsite

A Team is defined as “a number of persons associated in a joint action”. A Coach is defined as “a playing or non-playing member of a team who instructs”. I have always considered my relationships with my Clients to be in the team genre. We are a team with the same goals and the same hoped-for outcomes. If a Client is working harder to sell their home, it will make me work harder. Both sides need to listen and hear each other for the dynamic to be successful. But always remember, I am on your side!! If a great synergy is not achieved in this team relationship, like any other team, we won’t be as successful in reaching our goal. And it’s together that we can determine those goals. A Seller’s motivation might be price. But it might also be convenience or timing. And we would price and market the home accordingly. It’s also my role to think about the things my Buyer Clients may not – schools, transit, shopping etc. Needless to say in the Oakville real estate market and surrounding areas I have a vast knowledge of these things to better play my part on the team.

The Thesaurus lists synonyms for Coach as: Mentor. Educator. Teacher. Trainer. Tutor. Instructor. Advisor. Confidante. Counsel. Guide. Friend. Helper. Expert. Referee. Aide. Authority. I feel that through the buying or selling process, I probably wear each of these hats depending on what my Client needs at any given moment. And if we’re at odds, we need to communicate better to regain the team synergy. If my Clients aren’t hearing me, then it’s up to me to take a different approach to make myself understood. I need to find the ‘right questions’ and supply solutions. (Sometimes just asking the ‘right’ question will be understood so much better than asking 10 wrong questions.) And sometimes I have to go into Tiger Mode. This is the hat I least like to wear, as it’s often very stressing. However, sometimes Clients can get panicked or stubborn or simply stop hearing me (which often goes hand in hand with the panic mode or the stubborn mode!). It’s my role to protect their best interests even if they are their own problem. I value my integrity most of all. I will never give them the answer they ‘want’ to hear if it’s not the answer I believe is right. I will tell them if they are wrong and I will tell them my professional opinion – after all, that’s why I’m a member of this Team – because I understand the market and houses!! If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it. If it’s an opinion, I’ll back it up. But I will always be honest and I am ALWAYS looking out for the best outcome for them. This is why my Clients come back to me time and time again. And this is what I’m most proud of.

Bottom line: I want what you want, and sometimes Clients forget this. In the end, we must be a united front – but I will always be the ‘playing’ Coach on the team. And what do I get out of this team effort (besides the obvious)? My goal is always future business with my Clients, as well as referrals. (For me, referrals are the most amazing way for my Clients to say ‘Job well done’!)

Your Mortgage Questions Answered


The Official Krisztina Blogsite

Mortgage Questions seem to be on everyone’s mind these days as the government and CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) implement various changes and consider others. So I will do my best to answer most of the questions I have been hearing.

Why are they taking away the 35-year amortization?

CMHC is capping mortgage lengths at 30 years in an effort to protect the housing market and maintain stability in the face of rising interest rates.

Can I still get a 35-year mortgage?

If you close your mortgage deal by March 17, 2011 you can still have a 35-year mortgage term. The by-law takes effect March 18, 2011.

I have a 35-year amortization. Is it protected?


I’m on a Variable Rate Mortgage. Should I move to a 5-year Fixed Rate?

In light of rising interest rates, experts are suggesting a move to a 5-year Fixed so that you will know your mortgage costs for the next 5 years and not have any ‘surprises’. However research has shown that Variable Rate Mortgages outperform Fixed Rate Mortgages over the longer term. So I would suggest locking in for 5 years, and then reconsider at the end of that period.

I’m House Shopping. Is it in my interests to lock in a mortgage rate before I buy?

Yes. If the mortgage rate goes up, you are protected. If it goes down, you can re-qualify and benefit from the lower rate.

I’m a First-Time Buyer and want to use the 5% Down. Anything I should know?

Yes. CMHC has tightened the lending qualifications for this privilege. You MUST have impeccable credit. Make sure you check your own Credit Score to ensure you would qualify. I have seen deals pulled at the last minute by CMHC because credit scores were not as strong as assumed or as high as reported. The Buyers are then forced to look for a less expensive home or put down 10%. You should also know that there are rumours that the CMHC may eliminate the 5% Down Privilege altogether.

I’m Condo shopping. I heard some changes about Condo Fees in Mortgages. What’s up?

Although a date of implementation has not been set, they are considering making 100% (vs 50% currently) of your Condo Fees inclusive to the total amount of your mortgage. This may force some Buyers to look in a lower price range for their Condo.

Overall, you should always be thinking about affordability in the long-term. You don’t want to be house-poor. That is, you want to maintain your lifestyle and your discretionary income. So ask yourself this: if interest rates rise 1% can I still afford my house and my lifestyle? What about 2%?

If you’ve done the math, there won’t be any surprises. If you have any other mortgage questions, don’t hesitate to give me a call. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it!!

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