Selling the Expired Listing

THE VIEW FROM OAK PARK

The Official Krisztina Blogsite

I enjoy the challenge of selling an Expired Listing. It pushes me to up my game in every area. I have to overcome the bad reputation of a property that’s been on the market over 90 days. I have to increase my marketing, spreading the word that the property has changed and show it in a new light. I have to advertise these changes – new Agent, possibly a new price and possibly some home upgrades. (Actually, you can change ‘possibly’ to ‘probably’!!) Dealing with Sellers of an Expired Listing is an especially sensitive area. They have been through the wringer for a number of months. They are tired. They are frustrated. And they might even be a bit angry. This is the time for my Psychology degree to kick in! I have to reinstate confidence in the process. I have to re-energize the Seller. I have to be patient. I have to listen. And I have to gently get them on side with changes – in pricing, in renos, or both. If I do my job well on all these fronts, I will sell that Expired Listing.

In my experience, many listings expire because the Seller used an Agent unfamiliar with the Listing area. In this case, the Agent may not understand the localized pricing or the sphere of influence for the potential Buyers. Expired Listing Client, Terri Bruyns says that she chose me based on two things: 1) A lot of my signs were up in her area, and they were SOLD quickly, and 2) Internet Research. I was a match for her because of my knowledge of the neighbourhood and location, the fact that I understand the area Buyers and area Pricing and because I am strong in tailoring my Marketing efforts to each individual property. (In her case, it was important that I do the Open Houses myself, I used Coming Soon Signs while we did renovations to create excitement and I used the backyard fence facing the Park for extra signage to pull people in.)

When determining pricing of an Expired Listing, I have to show my research – recently sold homes in the area and other market comparables. Fair Market Value is not pricing from last year or last month. And it’s also not the price you originally paid plus upgrades. It is a current temperature of the market on the day you list. When I am suggesting upgrades, I always balance them against the price and I always direct them toward the elements that will help sell the property. Selling an Expired Listing in today’s market is even more difficult because most of these properties were originally listed in a HOT Spring Market, so it is extra-important that I crunch the numbers and show statistics for any price adjustments. To date, I have handled a number of Expired Listings and I have always sold them. I attribute that to 1) Listing the property at the right price, 2) Staging and Prepping the property for targeted Buyers, 3) Making sure my Marketing is top notch and 4) Being present at the Open Houses. Terri’s final advice: “A Good Agent is the key. They will guide you through all of the details and the pricing.” What can I say? I AGREE!!!!

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Outdoor Décor for Fall


THE VIEW FROM OAK PARK

The Official Krisztina Blogsite

Outdoor decorating has grown by leaps and bounds since I’ve been in the Real Estate business. And I’m not just talking about backyard outdoor living spaces. Today, the front has become equally important. What was once a week at Christmas and a day on Hallowe’en has become a year round decorating endeavour. Now the trend has moved toward seasonally themed outdoor décor punctuated by holiday-specific decorating. And that trend has never been more evident than during this month of October. Scarecrows and haybales and pumpkins and gourds and harvest displays and mums of all different shades are currently abundant in most neighbourhoods. And some of those decorations are already being edged out by ghosts and witches and vampires and cobwebs (and it’s barely mid-October!). Still to come is the all out Hallowe’en push (which I wholeheartedly participate in!!). In the world of outdoor décor, Hallowe’en decorating has really grown the most. Set-ups have become more elaborate, neighbours are competing with neighbours and whole streets are attracting trick-or-treaters and tourists! (Gone are the days of a single glowing Jack-o-Lantern to signal your candy shell-out participation to the neighbourhood kids.) And on that note, I have big things planned for this year, so if you’re in the Oak Park ‘hood on the 31st, be sure to come by! Many of you may recall my CSI crime scene where a vampire succumbed to ‘death by sunlight’ having been chained to a tree!! (If not, the video is still up on my YouTube channel, so be sure to check it out!!)

Now back to that décor – if you’re even contemplating selling your home in the next few months, it is absolutely crucial to take some photos right now, and again in a few weeks since the fall weather changes the look of a home almost on a day by day basis. “Curb Appeal” may sound like a Real Estate Agent’s buzz word but the truth is that people form strong interests in and attachments to homes based on their look from the outside. And if you’re selling in the drudgery of November or in the midst of a cold winter, these photos (and hopefully the ones you took in spring and summer!!!) may go a long way toward sealing the deal.

HST 101

THE VIEW FROM OAK PARK

The Official Krisztina Blogsite

There has been so much panic about HST and the Real Estate Market these days, so once and for all, I’d like to set the record straight. Previously on a resale home, you paid 5% GST on the 4 major elements in resale: 1. Real Estate Agent Fee 2. Lawyer Fee 3. Home Inspector Fee 4. Land Transfer Tax. Now, with the advent of HST, you will pay 13% on those 4 resale elements. This is an increase on those costs of 8%. You WILL NOT pay HST on the price of your resale home. In translation, the HST means that on a resale home in the $300 – $400,000 range you will pay an extra $2 – $3,000. In the current post-July 1st/HST market, prices have already declined by more than that $2 – $3,000. So, essentially the big picture for buyers has not changed, and could in fact be considered more favourable. The only time HST will be applied to the full purchase price of a home is on New Construction Homes over $400,000.

As for the current market, I also reiterate (to sellers), Don’t Panic and Don’t Compare 2010’s recent market to 2009. 2009 was an anomaly and should essentially be taken out the big picture comparison equation. We had extremely low interest rates meant to offset a possible recession, and many people took advantage. It drove prices up and created an very hot market. As for now, be assured that the market will continue to pick up steadily from the dead zone that was July. I attribute that dead zone to the looming HST (and thus the strong May-June), the typical summer slowdown and the absolutely fabulous weather which sent more people than usual to summer vacations and staycations with Real Estate far from anyone’s mind!! As for me, my business is booming and I am busier than ever. Post HST, I’ve already completed more than 10 deals. Sellers are selling. Buyers are buying. So if you’re thinking about that dream home, go ahead and take the first step – call me!!

Sellers: DON’T SABOTAGE YOUR SALE!!

THE VIEW FROM OAK PARK

The Official Krisztina Blogsite

Yes folks, it’s true. It’s now a Buyer’s Market. With one important caveat – prices for now are remaining higher than years past. However, now it’s more crucial than ever for Sellers to step it up in order to close that deal in a short period of time. To borrow some sports analogies, it’s time for Buyers to put their best foot forward and take it up a notch. You must bring your A-Game and keep your eye on the prize. Don’t do it halfway – it’s important to swing for the fences and focus on the end game: selling your house at a good price in a short period of time. Bottom line: You can still get your price as long as you don’t sabotage your own sale!! Here are my 5 Principles for the Seller:

LISTEN TO YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT ABOUT PRICING, TIMING & STAGING. You’ve done the work and selected your Real Estate Agent. You’ve looked at websites, interviewed candidates, asked around, checked references, looked at the Agents’ histories and finally chosen your Agent. Now it’s our turn to put our experience and expertise to work for you. I often say we’re a team with the same goal – to sell your house. And I am on your side, but in the beginning you have to look at your Real Estate Agent more like a Coach. We’re the ones with our fingers on the pulse of the market and the neighbourhood. We choose price points carefully with the goal of selling your house at fair market value. We’re aware of the intricacies of timing in your area down to the week – what other similar homes are currently on the market? What is the current state of Oakville real estate or real estate in your area? And so much more. If we ask you to rush upgrades, it’s to take advantage of a current sales trend. And if we ask you to hold off listing for a few weeks, same thing. And finally staging. We know what sells and we know what turns Buyers off. We carefully gage the cost differentials of any upgrades we ask you to undertake against pricing and time on market.

CLEANLINESS RULES. Your ‘clean’ is not ‘Selling a Home’ clean. That’s why there are companies who clean homes when they are going on the market. So do yourself a favour and give your cleaning person a few extra hours of work or hire a cleaning crew to make your house Open House ready. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING turns a Buyer off more quickly than a dirty or unkempt home. I know it’s hard to maintain and I know it’s a pain in the rear to always be neatening and straightening things, but it is absolutely crucial. Today Buyers have lots of selection and they will walk away from a dirty or messy home.

DON’T CANCEL/REFUSE ANY SHOWINGS. I understand that you might be tired or your child is not feeling well or you just got home from the cottage, but in this market you’re going to have to figure out a way to toughen up because if a Buyer runs into any barrier trying to see your house, they’ll look elsewhere.

LISTEN TO BUYER FEEDBACK. Sellers are always anxious to hear the feedback from a Buyer’s Agent after a Showing, but they don’t always like what they hear. The feedback is simply an honest assessment of the positives and negatives of your house and is NOT PERSONAL. By using this feedback, you have the ability to make some changes for the next buyer – perhaps an issue of tidiness or a room that was too personal or a wall colour. Remember, this is no longer your home. It is a house for sale!!

BE AVAILABLE. Selling your home should be the top priority for you and your family. Best case scenario, the disruption only lasts a few weeks. But it is crucial to be available to your Real Estate Agent during that time – for questions, for feedback, for pricing changes, for appointment bookings etc. I will always return your calls within the hour (and often sooner), so it is important that you do the same for me.

Two cases in point – I recently had 2 homes on the market – similar time frames, both priced at market value. One homeowner followed all my asks and sold over asking in 3 days. The other (situated in a similarly desirable area) took over 30 days to sell and didn’t get its asking price. Why? Because they didn’t follow the 5 Principles!! If you follow these 5 Principles, you and your Real Estate Agent can work together and hopefully keep your selling cycle as short as possible so that we disrupt your life for as few weeks as possible. Remember, keep your eye on the prize – your home will sell in this market, but it’s up to you to help make it sell faster for the best price!!

And remember, if you want to sell your home with a pool, it’s not too late if you act now. Check out my 1 Minute Home Tip video on Pool Resale linked below. And if you’re planning to stay, check out my video on Building Your Garden!!

Taking the Pool Plunge

THE VIEW FROM OAK PARK

The Official Krisztina Blogsite

Holy heat wave – how do you stay cool when the Humidex is topping 40 degrees?!? Let’s see…There’s holing up inside with the AC. Riding really fast in your convertible with the top down. Cold showers. Cold drinks. Shady backyards. Or better yet…fresh lake swims in cottage country or local dips in a pool. In Budapest, Lake Balaton is a Southern Hungary luxury for the few. In town, Hungarians flock to local pools and spas to cool down. Among one of the most beautiful is the wave pool at Budapest’s St. Gellert Hotel. The artificial waves are pumped from an underground spring and accompanied by a live gypsy band!!! With more than 120 natural thermal springs, Budapest has long been known for its baths, the largest (and most famous) being the St. Gellert, an Art Nouveau Hotel built in 1918. (The St. Gellert – now simply known as The Gellert – was named for a bishop who was martyred in Buda a thousand years ago.) The natural hot springs that flow from Gellert Hill are thought to cure a variety of joint and muscle disorders. (Therapy seeking voyagers have trekked here to take the waters since the time of the Roman empire.) The hotel was built on the site of an old Turkish bathhouse, and although it was gutted by bombs in 1945, it was rebuilt after the war. Typical of spas in Hungary, the complex also has 2 separate baths for men and women indoors, each with 3 plunge pools of various temperatures, a sauna and a steam bath. When I last visited, I also indulged in the massages!! Locally here in Canada, public pools are mostly for the kids. But as people continue to invest in their outdoor ‘rooms’, many are looking to add a water element – a full size pool, a smaller decorative pool or perhaps even just a lap pool for exercise. My latest video for Krisztina’s 1 Minute Home Tips is #5 Pool Do’s & Don’ts. (Yes I know the grammar is slightly incorrect on the Do’s – but I just think it’s easier to read – so no comments please!!) I’ve packed lots of info into one little minute, so I hope you enjoy it. (You can also look forward to “Resale of Homes with Pools” which highlights Buyer Turnoffs and Seller Musts – it will air on YouTube in a few weeks.) In the meantime I hope you’ve checked out all 5 of my 1 Minute Home Tips on my YouTube Channel. (C’mon, it’s only 5 minutes of your time!!) I’m continuing on the summer theme through Labour Day. Okay, must go now. It’s far too nice out to stay indoors, even with the heat!! (Anybody have a pool?!?!?)

Relax…It’s Summertime

THE VIEW FROM OAK PARK

The Official Krisztina Blogsite

The heat is on as we roll through mid-July and for the first time in many years, I’m kicking back and enjoying the downtime. For so many years I’ve weathered the real estate summer slowdown (this happens in Oakville real estate and elsewhere!)  badly. I panicked. I whined. I sweated (and not because of the heat!). Even though my head always knows our business slows down in the summer, my heart simply could not sit back, appreciate the slower days and know that it will pick up again. Well, meet the new me. Now, it’s not without the occasional panic outburst, but for the most part, I’m making a concerted effort to – as the song says – not worry and be happy. More time with my husband, friends and family. More road trip time. More cottage time. More patio time. More margarita time. And even (gasp!) more summer dress and sandal shopping time. The trick now is to actually enjoy it. And I think I am. And also, in a strange way, it makes me appreciate the times when I’m overwhelmingly busy. This business is cyclical with constant ups and downs, busy times and dry times. It just took me this long to accept it!! So now that I’m enjoying the summer (yes, I’m a little tanner than usual, and yes, I’m out in my new convertible just because I can be!!), it brings me back to my summers growing up in Hungary. They always started around my birthday (June 5th) – even in public school. So we had a full 3 months for trips to Lake Balaton where vendors wander the beach selling sausage and beer and boiled corn on the cob and ‘langos’ (a fried bread/pizza type Hungarian delicacy). And oh, the fruit in Hungary. Niagara is good, but I’ve yet to find the same mouth-watering yummy sensations that Hungarian peaches and strawberries evoke. The taste is completely different. And every time I think I’m idealizing it, I go back, taste it and am reminded once again just how good it is! And while I’m reminiscing, oh how I loved my Grandmother’s jams. Summer in a jar! But as much as my Mother loved Hungary, I must share with all of you how impressed she was with Northern Ontario and Cottage Country. She loved the rock formations and the lakes and the shorelines and the foliage and the evergreens. And she particularly enjoyed the water with a windy storm brewing. All the waves and whitecaps. There is something very special about Cottage Country that is unique to this part of the world. Now if only they’d have beer and food vendors walking the beaches, it might just be perfect!

Higher Interest Rates Affect Your Affordability

THE VIEW FROM OAK PARK

The Official Krisztina Blogsite

On May 25th, 2 major banks went on the record saying that Canadians will find it more expensive to own a home this year and in 2011 as higher interest rates are expected to chip away at affordability even as the rise in home prices begins to subside. RBC Economics Research points out that the rising interest rates will increase mortgages and other loan payments. As housing demand cools and supplies increase, the pace of price increases will slow, but won’t fall fast enough to offset the rising interest rates. As we are all aware, the Bank of Canada will raise its key lending rate for banks sometime this summer from the current record lows. Although the rates are predicted to rise very slowly through the rest of 2010 and 2011, affordability will continue to deteriorate even as prices level off.

My suggestion: pay close attention to your housing budget and if you are currently shopping for a home, make sure you complete a thorough cost analysis. Can you continue to afford this home if interest rates rise half a per cent? One per cent? You must factor such increases into your buying power. A recent report found that Canadians today spend 15.6% of their average gross personal income on mortgage payments (about the same as 10 years ago). When you add in electricity bills and property taxes, that figure rises to about 22%.

AND THE MOST IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION RIGHT NOW: If you got your mortgage approval before April 19, you MUST re-apply because the by-laws have changed. You may have been approved for a variable rate mortgage. Now, everybody must be approved at a 5 Year Fixed Rate, NOT the best rate you can find. This is reflective of Canada’s conservative approach to mortgages in order to avoid the U.S. situation of people carrying mortgages for more than the value of their home and I think it is a good gauge to ensure affordability down the line. But beware, when you get approved – this may drop your price point significantly. Some buyers previously approved for about $700,000 are now forced down to approximately $600,000. For some, it may be the difference between moving and not moving. I have had a client who was previously eligible for a $730,000 mortgage with $100,000 down, but now was only approved for $600,000 with the same $100,000 down. These are huge swings!!

And then there are other factors to consider…longer term job security, rising financial demands of older children (camps, sports leagues, vehicle, post-secondary education etc.), rising financial demands of aging parents, replacement timetable for your cars and so on.

And just a reminder, once you’ve been approved for a ‘shopping’ figure at the 5 Year Fixed, I can offer you more affordable payments (for those who qualify) through my relationship with AstrumStar (who has created a coalition with our Re/Max office). Please check my website (KrisztinaNeglia.com) for more information on how you can apply.

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