2009 We’eny Awards Handed Out


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Halloween yard

Rats and spiders and ghosts, Oh My!! Rats and spiders and ghosts, Oh My!! What a Hallowe’en it was in Oak Park this year! Thanks to all the witches, vampires and goblins (and their parents) who wandered our ‘hood on the big night. Your sheer numbers made our street festivities the best yet! We attracted a lot of attention on Roxton with crowds, and even drive-bys. Our own Crime Scene set-up brought in dozens (although the police lights going all night may have scared away a few of you!) According to my husband, CSI Pazz, he thinks a vampire was chained to a tree the night before and got burnt by the sun when daylight came. Yuck! (Oakville’s Councillor Knoll even sent out a Tweet with video proclaiming this the best Hallowe’en set-up – check it out. I’ve also linked my YouTube video of the Crime Scene!) As I mentioned I always over-buy in the candy department – but this year it was a good thing as I helped out some of my neighbours. (In truth, I am probably in part responsible for the excessive rush, but oh well!!) So here it is by the numbers…

Number of Trick-or-Treaters – 228

Number of Hot Apple Cider and Gluvine cups handed out – 175

The Perfect Pumpkin Destination – The Apple Factory

$ Spent – Top Secret

Hallowe’en Celebrations in Oak Park – Priceless!!

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The 2009 We’eny Awards for Oak Park’s Hallowe’en go to…

Best Crime Scene – CSI Pazz Neglia (Is a new career in the offing, honey?)
Halloween CSI
Best Lady in a Cage – Linda (I think she’s still complaining about the back pain!)

Best Scary Guy on Stilts – Hayden (How’re those calf muscles??)

Best Gluvine Recipe – ME!! (It’s a Hungarian specialty and I’d be happy to share)

Best Apple Cider – Cathy B. (More rum next year, PLEASE!)

Best Witch – Terry K. (and we’re not saying it’s every day…)

Best Pumpkin Carver – Deb K. (I’m thinking 8 next year…hmmm)
Halloween jack
Ugliest Troll – Richard C. (or were you a Leprechaun…???)

Cutest Elephant – Wyatt

Cutest Ladybug – Kenna

Unluckiest Vampire – Burnt One Chained to the Tree in Front of my House!! (I think I saw him on True Blood last season)

Best Trade with a Neighbour – 2 Bags of Candies for a Bottle of Vintage Port (thanks…you know who you are!)

Best Rat-Eater – My Dog, Kata (You’ll have to ask me about that one…and yes it was real!!!)

Best Repeat Customer – Carolyn and Paul R. (I think it must have been the gluvine!)

Best Post Trick-or-Treat Fest – Linda (Who exactly was it that kept refilling my wine glass…???)

Please feel free to submit any other deserving 2009 We’eny Award Winners, ‘cause the prizes are spectacular.. Ha ha ha!! Watch for Episode #4 of Krisztina’s Real Estate 411 coming to the airwaves next week. It’s called “Marketing & Advertising” and we discuss the Marketing Plan, the Internet, Print Ads and the Open House. I know you’ll love it…it’s my 2nd favourite episode!!…And you won’t believe what we’ve got cookin’ for next year’s Hallowe’en!!


Hallowe’en Means Community!!

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So what are your kids dressing up as this Hallowe’en? I hear Michael Jackson is popular, as is Harry Potter, Edward & Bella & Jacob, Hannah Montana, Star Trek characters and GI Joe Ninja. My personal favourite would have to be a nod toward Twilight! But it got me to thinking about the origins of Hallowe’en – the costumes, the trick-or-treating, the apple-bobbing, the pumpkin carving etc. Except for the apple-bobbing, I’m doing it all this year – so make sure if you’re in the area, stop by…adults will be treated to my special Hungarian gluvine recipe – a hot mulled, spiced wine.

halloween girls

Hallowe’en is big business (more than $5 billion in the U.S. last year!). So just where did this sense of neighbourhood and community come from? Many of you may already know, but being that this is primarily a Northern England and North American festivity, it was all new to me. It dates back to the ancient Celtic festivals over 2,000 years ago. Their New Year was on November 1 and they celebrated it, the harvest and the end of summer with sacred bonfires, dressing up in animal heads and skins. Then by AD 43 the Romans conquered the territory and for the next 400 years combined 2 festivals on this day – Feralia (Passing of the Dead) and Pomona (Roman goddess of fruit and trees). Her symbol is the apple, explaining that bobbing for apples thing. By the 800’s, Christianity had come and the Pope designated November 1 All Saints’ Day. It was also called All-hallows or All Hallowmas (from English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints!)…and the night before came to be All-Hallows Eve or Hallowe’en. As European immigrants came to America, they brought their customs with them (although in early puritanical New England, celebrating was limited). In the late 1800’s there was a move in America to mold Hallowe’en into a holiday more about community and neighbourly get-togethers than about harvest and ghost stories. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries old practice of trick-or-treating (going door to door for All Soul’s cakes) was revived by advertisers. (It always comes down to the advertisers, doesn’t it!!) So there it is, in a nutshell. Ohhh, speaking of nutshells, I must say, I LOVE roasted pumpkin seeds. I salvage every last one of them from all 6 pumpkins that I have carved for the day. And as for the pumpkin carving, there is a history to it – but I can’t fit it in this nutshell!! I guess I’ll save that one for next year.

Working as a Real Estate Agent in the North Oakville area and living in the Oak Park neighbourhood, Hallowe’en is a perfect occasion for me to throw my doors open and go to excess in the decorating department (right down to the spotlights!). I love that my real estate clients and my neighbours can drop by for a hot beverage and lots of treats for the little ones. (Speaking of excess, I always over-do it in the treat department – I’ve never gotten that ratio right!). So as I mentioned, if you’re in the ‘hood, I hope I’ll see you on Hallowe’en!

Episode #2 Hits the Airwaves!


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My second episode of Krisztina’s Real Estate 411 is available for viewing on my YouTube Channel (search ‘North Oakville Agent’ or check the link below). The response to Episode #1 has been overwhelming, so I hope you all enjoy Episode #2: Choosing a Real Estate Agent (Part 2).

There are so many things to consider when you are choosing a Real Estate Agent. We covered the ‘qualities’ in Episode #1 – personality and work ethic. In this episode we cover other considerations – Brokerage Houses, Commission Structures and Area Specialists. Real Estate Broker, Sylvia Perdue reminds us that most real estate salespeople are independent contractors. When they are attached to a Brokerage House, they are then working for themselves, but not by themselves. RE/MAX (my Brokerage House) provides a brand for us to work under as well as listing and selling tools, training courses, networking opportunities and even our own in-house Super Succeed program. (More on that in a future Blog!!) Tamara Vanmeggelen believes a strong Brokerage House attracts strong Agents and a multi-faceted distribution network. I believe in building my name as a brand, and that working with a strong multi-national brand name brokerage such as RE/MAX will help me build my personal brand.

Sylvia also mentions that a good Broker offers their Sales Agents accessibility and one-on-one coaching. As well they are open and answering phones from 9am to 9pm, with limited hours on the weekend. As we interviewed Sylvia, I was reminded how important things like this are to my clients. Sylvia also put the Commission Structure into focus. As she put it, Commission is NOT a Commodity!! It is an incentive for the Agent to sell your home. As a homeseller, you want to attract highly skilled Agents with strong expertise to get the best price. Commissions may be negotiable, but remember, choosing a low commission package doesn’t necessarily translate into a higher net at the end of the day when your home is sold. You should also understand what will be offered for the Commission package in terms of a Marketing Plan, Advertising, Open Houses and feedback structure. Sylvia believes (and I agree) that the Commission structure may dictate how hard the Agent is going to work for you. Tamara put it very succinctly – a good Agent is worth their commission…Full Commission gets you an Agent who is always available, will get traffic through your door, will make practical suggestions on renovations for resale and staging, will be honest on the value of the home, on its weaknesses and strengths, will give you feedback on Open Houses and will follow up on potential buyers. (Thanks Tamara, I couldn’t have said it better myself!!) And one last note from Terry Kuivinen (who has done ‘For Sale By Owner’ on 2 occasions) – selling a home is stressful and a good Agent takes that stress away…it is MONEY WELL SPENT!!

Enjoy this installment of Krisztina’s Real Estate 411, Episode #2: Choosing a Real Estate Agent (Part 2) and watch for Episode #3: Preparing to List Your Home coming on November 1st.

Krisztina’s Real Estate 411 Launches!!


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My first episode of Krisztina’s Real Estate 411 is now up and running on my YouTube Channel (search ‘North Oakville Agent’ or check the link below). The series is intended to take the viewer through most of the key steps of the home real estate buying and selling process, so naturally we start with Episode #1: Choosing a Real Estate Agent (Part 1).

Buying or selling a home is a big decision and the first step is choosing a Real Estate Agent whose personality, work ethic and experience match your needs. In this episode, we explore the question: “What qualities should you consider when choosing a Real Estate Agent?”. Real Estate Broker, Sylvia Perdue says that ultimately, it is who you are comfortable with. But, she reminds us, the home buying/selling process is an emotional experience, so you want an Agent who is full-time, committed to providing you with all of their experience and who will take the stress off your shoulders. As a Broker, she looks for Agents who are willing to upgrade their selling skills and learn cutting edge technology on an ongoing basis, as well as a great personality fit.

Many of my Clients have also weighed in on the question. Terry Kuivinen looks for an Agent who provides you with information and feedback, keeps in constant contact and presents a strong marketing plan. Joey and Eric Besana want an Agent who really listens to their needs and who fights for their interests. Tamara Vanmeggelen wants an Agent with lots of experience in the area. She wants to have seen the Agents’ signs in the neighbourhood, and more importantly she wants to see that they’ve been sold quickly.

For me, I believe honesty, hard work and being there 100% for my Clients are the three things that contribute most to my success. I have also learned that one of the most important steps in the home selling process is giving feedback to your clients. As many of my clients have stated, they want updates on where we stand with showings and open houses. Who’s interested? What needs to be changed? How is the pricing? Communicate, communicate, communicate!! I think it is also important that I have always been successfully self-employed, therefore I understand small business financials, I understand Return on Investments and I believe in investing back into my business to make it grow. Developing brand recognition is important in any business, so I make sure all my marketing pieces reflect the same professional, recognizable images. I also treat every Client as part of a team, and it is the collaboration of that teamwork that will get the home sold or purchased more quickly. Of course, that is always the best part of the process for me – seeing the Clients’ dreams realized.

I hope you enjoy this first episode of Krisztina’s Real Estate 411. And watch for Episode #2: Choosing a Real Estate Agent (Part 2) coming to YouTube mid-October.

Buying New? Have You Thought It Through?


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It’s the age-old homing debate – new homes vs. resale. It’s especially pertinent in the Oakville area where I work as a Real Estate Agent. On August 11, 2009 it was announced the town of Oakville will be increasing its development fees levied on homebuilders at the end of August to the tune of almost $8,000/home. It will generate almost $626 million to pay for things like roads, libraries, fire stations, parks and community centres – infrastructure needed with new residential subdivisions. I believe strongly in infrastructure upkeep in communities. It is important to note however that these are some of the highest development fees under law. Oakville is a growing township. We currently expect 14,429 new homes by 2018, and an additional 33,034 homes by 2031! Oakville mayor, Rob Burton has said it is “essential to minimize the impact of growth on taxpayers…to keep Oakville fiscally sustainable.” Development fees for single-family dwellings will increase by 63%. Instead of $13,000, the builder will have to pay the town of Oakville almost $22,000. I know specifically of one instance where a $600,000 condo has $28,000 in closing costs.

Which brings me back to the topic at hand – are new homes all they’re advertised to be? As a buyer, you typically only see the GREAT PRICE from the builder, but closing costs can be huge. The land transfers and legals alone could be upwards of 10% of your price. So I say BUYER BEWARE!! Be smart about your choices. Be smart about builder upgrades. Remember, on a $500,000 home, there could be a potential $150-200,000 in upgrades not mentioned in the advertising! Add to that – blueprints are typically difficult to read and interpret. And then there’s the after purchase issues – window coverings, paint (please, please, please – don’t keep that builders’ white on the walls!), decoration, landscaping, fencing…the list goes on. Think of that new car you bought, and all the add-ons that came after your purchase price was agreed on – rust-proofing, winter tires, car mats, warranty etc.

You need to realize that a 2 year old home may just give you a better return on your real estate investment than a new home. You need to know yourself – if it’s a new development, you may be subjecting your family to a dusty, muddy neighbourhood with no grass, and outdoor areas you can’t use for the first year. And don’t even get me started on your dog’s muddy paws!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, buying new is a great option for some of us – just not all of us

Moving Up? Timing Is Everything


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Timing is everything. It’s a cliché. An idiom. A saying. A proverb. The dictionary defines ‘timing’ as the selecting of the best time for doing something in order to achieve the desired or maximum result. In the current housing market, the best time is NOW. The desired result? A home upgrade (or ‘moving up’) for the best deal. This is because the lower housing price range has recovered faster than the higher housing price range, which is still ‘recovering’. Translation: a 4 bedroom, 2-car garage home in a nice area is sitting solidly at pre-recession prices. If that home was in the $450,000 range, you could easily move up to a home in the $600,000 range. Today that upgrade would cost you $150,000. By the Fall, I believe that gap will rise – meaning that $150,000 may be $200,000+ within just a few months. Since March, I have been advising my clients of this trend and encouraging them to buy ‘up’ quickly. Some of my clients didn’t put enough weight in the numbers, preferring to listen to the media (which, just like its stock market reporting, tends to be a little late on actionable information). And now those same clients have lost the opportunity to save $30-40,000 since March! If they continue to hesitate, another $50,000 in savings may be on the line.

When markets recover, the lower end recovers faster, but in the longer run, the larger homes will prove the better investment. Lower priced homes will recover and plateau, perhaps increasing in the range of 5%. Higher priced homes will eventually regain their value, increasing somewhere in the range of 10%. Put into real dollar terms, a 5% property value increase on a $400,000 home equals $20,000. A 5% property value increase on a $600,000 home equals $30,000. A 10% increase on that same home would be $60,000!!

We are currently experiencing more multi-offers. The housing inventory has been low, and sellers have been hesitant, driving the market up. As an example, a bungalow in southeast Oakville was listed for $639,000. It sold for $678,000!! But I believe that it will gain value over the next year and soon be worth $700,000+!! As well, in the same southeast Oakville area, homes in the $1,000,000+ range showed very little movement in the February/March/April timeframe. But those homes are now selling.

So the timing is working for you right now to move up. And given the numbers, you may be able to afford the move up today, but by October you may not. To top it off, the Oakville/Milton/Burlington housing history has shown that August is the slowest month for sales movement. Yet another reason to take advantage and buy that property you’ve had your eye on. And if you want to delay your move, go ahead and close the deal, just extend your closing.

What’s in a Recommendation?

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I recently added a Client Listing to my roster that gave me a moment of pause. It was the method he used for selecting me as his Real Estate Agent that was a bit of a light bulb moment for me. I found myself saying “Of course – that makes so much sense!” Now you’ll have to read to the end to find out what that was!!

First, let me say that a recommendation is a Real Estate Agent’s best marketing tool, and I have been lucky enough to work with a number of clients who found me through a friend or work colleague. This is especially rewarding because buying or selling a home can be a very stressful process. The term “Real Estate transaction” is like an oxymoron to me, because it is so much more than just a transaction. Buying a home is a matter of a most personal nature and is typically one of the biggest purchases you make in your lifetime. And if you are selling, the decision can be even more monumental as you choose to put the past and the memories behind you (the good or the bad…or both!!). The Agent you choose must be (at various times) a friend, a confidante, a teacher, a whip-cracker, a researcher, an investigator, a reality checker, a dream-maker, a dream-breaker and a treasure hunter. And it has always been my enjoyment in this industry to work in all of these capacities.

We all network our way through life every day using recommendations. A friend’s opinion, a review, a news article, word-of-mouth, a blog, an advertisement. Most of us want to hear someone else’s opinion before we check it out for ourselves. Whether it be a movie (I’m planning on making a date to see The Proposal and The Ugly Truth), a book (I just finished Book of Negroes and The Time Traveler’s Wife), a hair dresser (I’m always looking!), a clothing store (my sources are top secret), a quick lunch (I think I could live on the chicken shawarmas at the Pita Nutsy), a restaurant (who doesn’t love to treat themselves to Ruth’s Cris Steakhouse?)…or a handyman, a lawyer, a mortgage broker, a plumber, a home renovator, a painter (I know lots of them!!)…we all use recommendations. This is why Real Estate Agents work so hard to please every client…because word gets out. That is why I was so intrigued by my recent client’s decision-making process. Instead of selecting 3 or 4 Agents via recommendations or ads or area signage to come to a Listing Appointment, he chose to attend some Open Houses hosted by the Agents he was interested in working with. He found out a lot at these Open Houses – how knowledgeable the Agent was about the home and the area, if the Agent actually attended the Open House themselves, and especially to the point, how he was treated when he told the Agent he wasn’t interested in the Open House home. There’s my light bulb moment. It made so much sense to want to see a potential Agent at work instead of putting their very best foot forward at a Listing Appointment. Now agreed, this method probably takes a little more time in the reconnaissance department and in the end both your head and your gut have to agree on the Agent you want to work with, but it’s a lesson I’ll take with me to every Open House I host!

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