Hiring a Real Estate Agent in Toronto: How to Choose the Right One

Hiring a Real Estate Professional is more important than you may think.

The right agent can be the difference between getting your asking price and walking away leaving money on the table or paying full price for a nine-month-old listing instead of negotiating with a motivated Seller.

Not all Real Estate Agents are created equal. Learn to select the best one for you, read on.

Do Market Research

Before you begin interviewing Real Estate Agents, you should take the time to get your bearings on the local housing market. Drive around your neighbourhood and consider the names on the for sale signs you see. Make note of the ones that say “Sold”, in particular.

Find a high-quality agent by popping into an open house if you are a Seller. This can be a great way to see how other home Sellers are pricing and staging their homes.

For Buyers, going into an open house is a great way to find out about the personality and professionalism of a Real Estate Agent.

Research Your Real Estate Agent

Before you hire an agent, search them online. Look for any ratings, reviews, or references you can find about them. This person is a public figure in the community, so if there is little to no information available on their real estate activity, then this could be a red flag.

Read and find out what people in your area are saying about various agents, but more importantly, take a look at how the agents respond to their disgruntled clients.

An agent that is professional and cares about their business will take the time to address any negative reviews in a helpful and patient manner.

Interview Real Estate Agents

Walking into an open house and liking the Real Estate Agent is nice, but if you want to be sure you have the best agent for your situation, you should interview multiple agents and ask them for referrals.

A good number of agents to meet with is three. You don’t want to settle for the first agent, but you also don’t want to waste your time with a bunch of interviews. Compare the responses the agents give to the following questions.

Questions to ask:

  • Have you been in real estate long?
  • Is most of your experience in buying or selling?
  • How many clients do you carry at a time?
  • Do you function as part of a Real Estate Team?
  • What kind of real estate do you specialize in?
  • Are you equipped to handle short sales or the purchase of foreclosures?
  • What tactics will you use to market my home?

Set Your Expectations

Real Estate Agents are very busy people who are constantly on the go. They have to handle appointments for showings, update listings, stage homes, be present for inspections, handle closings, and much more.

But that doesn’t mean that they are off the hook when it comes to handling your sale or purchase. Your Real Estate Agent needs to be available to you and take the time to listen to your insights throughout the process to ensure you find the home of your dreams or sell your home for the best price.

Communication Preferences

As mentioned, agents are very busy. That means it’s very important for you to agree on when and how you will speak to your agent. Get on the same page from the start so you won’t be frustrated later in the process.

Motivations

Make sure that your real estate agent understands your motivations to buy or sell. If you are on some sort of timeline or desperately need a specific price for your home, then they need to know that information.

Strategies

Before you sign a contract with a Real Estate Agent, you should agree on the strategies that will be used to sell your home.

Will there be open houses? How many showings are you willing to have a week? How much time will you need notification in advance of a showing?

All these factors should be considered in detail.

Consider the Other Roles of the Real Estate Agent

Your Real Estate Agent is not just the person who lists your home or finds one for you to purchase. They can also help you with staging your home so that potential buyers have an easier time envisioning themselves in it.

That means that your Real Estate Agent should have an eye for interior design, or at least know the right person to hire to get the job done.

Your Real Estate Agent will also play a role in the inspection process of your home. Make sure you choose an agent that is trustworthy.

You want an agent who will be upfront with you about any potential problems you could have in the future. They should be willing to take the time and energy to find you a home that meets all of your needs.

Thinking of Hiring a Real Estate Agent?

Hiring a Real Estate Agent is a great way to speed up your home buying or selling process.

Are you ready to sell your home fast or purchase the home of your dreams for the best price? Contact us today!

How to Prepare for the Fall Real Estate Market

Real estate is sold 365 days a year; it’s the new norm!  Fall can be a great time to sell your home. Below are some of the best tips for selling a home during the fall.

Analyze the Market & Price Your Home Right

Analyze the current state of your local real estate market. Understanding the type of market your area is experiencing is important: Is your local market type a sellers’ market, a buyers’ market, or a balanced market. It’s important when it comes to pricing your home accordingly. If you don’t know ask your Real Estate Agent!

 

Perform Applicable Inspections & Cleanings

If you’re planning on selling your home in the fall, tackle the inspections and cleaning part prior to listing your home for sale.

 

Decorate & Embrace the Fall

The most exciting part about fall! If you decide to sell your home during the fall, there are many decorating tips, staging tips, and ways to embrace the fall season. Be tactful with your decorating and try to appeal to the masses!

 

Clean Up the Exterior

The least exciting part about fall…is raking leaves. Don’t neglect the exterior of your home. Tasks that should be completed when selling a home during the fall include:

Raking leaves

Removing loose sticks

Weeding flower beds

Trimming flowers, bushes, and shrubs

Aerating the lawn

 

Prepare Your Home for Showings

When selling in the fall, ensure your home smells good. Popular ways to make your home smell warm and cozy while selling in the fall include:

Brewing a fresh pot of pumpkin spice coffee

Boiling cinnamon sticks

Burning fall scented candles

 

Selling a home in the fall is not for everyone, however, these tips can help expedite the sale of your home and maximize the sale price!

5 Tips for Stress-Free Moving with Kids

When you finally decide to take a big leap and move, it can be one of the most exciting and stressful periods of your life. And if you’re a parent, double that excitement and stress based on the number of children you have.

There are just so many things to consider, especially if you are both buying and selling a home. From the exciting parts like deciding where you want to live and the house hunting, to the more mundane parts like signing contracts and dealing with lawyers about land transfer taxes, it’s really a mixed bag of emotions.

Here are five tips on how you can make your move an easy and relatively carefree and –dare I say– even fun!–experience for your whole family.

  1. Declutter, declutter, declutter

Long before you ever decide to put your home on the market, it’s critical that you first declutter your entire home. When you are selling, it’s important that you showcase your home as beautifully as possible and typically, having minimal items on display will help do just that. When we live in our homes, especially if you have kids, “stuff” tends to pile up in every nook and cranny.

The thought of decluttering an entire house can feel daunting, so start small, with one room at a time

Tip: Take two garbage bags and one large box into the room. Label one bag “Donation” and the other bag “garbage.” In the box, place items you want to keep but don’t necessarily need out for everyday life (think stuffies or old school projects).

  1. Hire a cleaning company

I can remember one of my first stressors when we decided to move was the thought of having to clean our home. While I would never say that our home was grossly dirty, it has never had a good, deep cleaning in the four years we’ve lived here. And with five people living here, you can image how the dirt has piled up. I’m talking all the neglected areas like baseboards, light fixtures and blinds – the areas I just never have had time to clean but knew dirt had been accumulating.

Hiring in a professional cleaning service was one of the best decisions we made during this process. They came in with a crew of four people and spent almost five hours cleaning our 2,500-square-foot home. Every nook and cranny was wiped, dusted, shined and left squeaky clean!

Tip: If you have carpet in your home, it’s a good idea to have the carpets cleaned before listing your home, too. Especially if you have kids or pets, the carpets are bound to get dirty. In our case, we had some unfortunate makeup spills, including a dark red nail polish on our almost-white carpets! Having a professional come into the space and give the carpets the deepest clean not only freshened things up, it also brightened the overall look.

Bonus tip: Along with cleaning, if you can hire a painter to give your walls a fresh coat of paint, especially in high-traffic areas like the foyer, kitchen and kids’ rooms, it will help the space feel fresh and clean!

  1. Stage your home

One of the lessons I’ve learned through the process of selling our home is: not everyone will care for the décor I’ve chosen for each room.

Removing personal items such as family pictures and expensive pieces of artwork or collections is a good idea so the focus remains on the home and not the stuff you’ve put into it.

Tip: Working with a home stager could help breathe new life into the space before listing your home. Especially in hallways or transitional spaces, stagers can add in or suggest items that might help make the space flow a bit better.

Bonus tip: When you have showings booked for your home, make sure to turn on all the table and floor lamps. This helps give a warm and inviting touch to the space while allowing ample light to showcase the room.

  1. Hire a Realtor

One of the best decisions we made throughout this process of buying and selling was to hire a Realtor. As a busy, working mom of three young kids, I couldn’t imagine going through this process without a professional’s help. For many of the above tips I’ve given, like hiring a cleaning company or painter, our Realtor had all of those services lined up for us, so we didn’t have to worry about finding and vetting different companies.

  1. Get the kids involved

At the end of the day, the process of buying and selling a home with kids doesn’t have to be stressful. Keeping your kids involved from asking them what they’d like in a new home, to getting them to help with the decluttering of their room, to rewarding them for keeping their spaces clean every day, it’s fun to watch your kids work together to make your home the best it can be during this time.

Tip: Give your kids incentives to help keep the home clean. Make it all about teamwork and empower them to be vital part of the process. Getting them involved not only teaches them responsibility but also helps lessen the burden of cleaning the entire home yourself.

Moving can be a stressful time in your life, as it’s one of the biggest transitions you can go through. But implementing these tips can really help reduce the stress of a move – especially one with kids – and help strengthen your family dynamic.

 

Written By: Christine Martin, Real Estate 101, Relator.ca

What Does The Change In The Market Mean For Sellers?

The recent changes being reported in the news can paint a negative picture, particularly for detached homes in the city. But the truth is that this market is very much alive and capable of fulfilling your real estate goals. It might just take a little bit of elbow grease!

Selling is no longer as simple as putting a sign on the lawn

This time last year, selling a home the same day it went on the market was far from unusual. But the market has changed, and we are in a much more balanced market than we saw in all of 2017. That doesn’t mean your home WON’T sell, but it may require that you stage it, hire a professionals cleaning company, declutter and plan for plenty of open houses.

Your home needs to be priced competitively

Let’s say you remember a sale that happened in your neighbourhood last summer, the house was similar to yours and sold for $250,000 above asking, so logically, you could price your home at the asking price plus $250,000 and it might even sell for more (inflation!), but the hard truth is that your home is priced based on the most recent sales. If there hasn’t been much activity in your community then it may be time to test the market. The most important thing to do when testing the market is to react quickly to a price change. A good thing to consider is how much traffic your agent anticipated? If they expected much more than you have been seeing, that is a clear indication that it is time to reassess the asking price.

You may need to make some upgrades before you list

The truth is in this market, to get the money you’re looking for, it may be worth your while to consider some upgrades. Big ticket items such as kitchens and bathrooms can be a great way to increase the bottom line on your home. If such a big undertaking isn’t something you’re ready for, redoing trim work or painting and changing light fixtures is a great way to add some appeal on a budget! Whether you’re planning a big or small renovation, the first thing on your list of to-dos should be to address any issues that could come up during a home inspection. Your potential sale could depend on it!

Choose the right agent who will do the necessary work to market your property effectively!

There are a lot of things to think about when selling your home, choosing the right agent is one of them! While their sales history, list of services provided and list of contacts are crucial aspects of your decision to hire an agent, it is also important to find out how they plan to market your home. According to a 2017 study by the National Association of Realtors, 44% of people start their search for their next home online. It is important that your agent has a strong online presence, and that they will be sharing your property with their vast audience, as well as advertising throughout the community and neighbourhood. Choosing the right agent can make the sale either a breeze or a nightmare. Choose wisely!

How to Prepare Your House for a Home Inspection

Having a close knowledge of your home’s nooks, crannies, and weak spots is important. Whether you’re preparing for a pre-home inspection as a Seller or expecting a Buyer’s home inspection to be performed, it’s always best to be prepared! Home sellers will have an easier time by preparing for a home inspection and are less likely to encounter any surprises and can take measures to prevent future problems. So grab a broom and get ready to make some improvements.

  1. Clean the House

Simple but always overlooked. A clean home speaks for itself; it shows you take care of the house and always makes a good impression.

  1. Be on Time

Be on time because the inspector will be. Sometimes they tend to arrive early and begin inspecting the exterior of the home, so leave the drapes or shades down till you are dressed and prepared. There’s nothing more awkward than a surprised and unprepared seller being spooked by a stranger walking their lawn.

  1. Leave the Utilities Connected

The inspector will need to run the appliances, furnace and air conditioning as a part of the inspection. This is very important if you’re selling a vacant home – the last thing you need is another appointment to complete the inspection or a fee to pay, that’s just more money down the drain.

  1. Provide Access

To the garage, attic and basement. Inspectors will need to check every little detail of the house, so give them access and make sure you’ve given them space to navigate themselves around; remove boxes, clear access and move any storage that cannot grant them access.

  1. Prepare to be away for Three Hours Minimum, Many inspections can take up to 3 hours to complete. Get the kids, dogs, cats in the car and go for a long drive – like approximately 3 hours long. Go to the movies or grab a meal; try to schedule a time for the inspection when you can be out of the house and feel prepared rather than rushed.

 

Let Us Help With Your Spring Cleaning

There’s no better feeling than coming home to a clean house, which should be motivation enough to tackle a deep clean during this upcoming spring season. Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to get rid of all the stuff you can live without. While it’s true that taking on an entire home can make you feel like an ant about to climb a mountain, breaking it down room by room can ease the burden.

Start by making a checklist of all the essential tasks you need to do for each room in the house. Go through your checklist and check off everything you’ve done so far. It’s such a satisfying feeling when you start checking items off your list and it gives you just the motivation you need to go on. Now, no one said you have to get everything done in one weekend; if you give yourself five tasks per weekend, you can easily complete your list before spring ends. Go at your own pace and make sure you focus on the areas in your home that really need the most attention. The notorious and dreaded spring cleaning has an upside: it’s a project that will allow you to feel good about getting rid of all the stuff you don’t need, especially when you are looking to sell or simply de-clutter.

You can sell your unwanted items on Kijiji. This popular online advertising service has come up with a way to help you de-clutter while at the same time make a profit for your efforts! Another way to rid yourself of unwanted belongings and feel good about it at the same time is to donate unwanted clothing items, old toys and accessories. Take the extra step to help a foundation or donation and make a difference in your community. This time of year is also famous for hosting yard sales! If you like to get hands on, set up your very own street sale and invite your neighbours to participate to increase traffic in the community on the day of the sale. Some tips for hosting a successful yard sale are below:

  • Make sure you advertise! Have the kids create posters they can place around town. Don’t forget, less is more, so avoid the glitter and drawings and make sure the information is bold, clear, and short.
  • Have a plan: Not everyone is crazy about sifting through your used goods for the perfect find. Place hot ticket items at the front to draw people in and make them want to explore the sale further.
  • Name a Price: Make sure that all items are clearly marked with a price so your visitors can decide whether or not they would like to purchase it based on the price. If you have a bunch of small items, you can also create a table where all items are priced under a certain amount to encourage people to buy in multiples. People love a good bargain!

Armed with a plan and enthusiasm, you’re spring cleaning efforts will pay off in no time!

Listing Your Home in Spring is a Good Choice

On average, over the past five years in the Greater Toronto Area, selling your home in May could net you $60,000 more than if you were to sell in January. Last year’s Spring Market Report trends prove that there was a significant price increase and high demand in the GTA during the first quarter of 2017. Supply increased in the last few weeks of March, as more Sellers chose to list their homes.

We all know that timing can be everything, and choosing when to buy or sell a home could save you tens of thousands of dollars. While there tends to be more inventory for Buyers to choose from, there’s usually more competition which benefits Sellers.

Aside from the nice weather, a home tends to show better in spring and summer. Almost all houses look better in the late spring and summer when flowers start to bloom and the grass turns green again, so if curb appeal is a concern for you, this may be something to consider. More Buyers are also ready to buy as they might be looking to use their tax refunds as a down payment and with tax refund cheques in the bank, spring buyers pay full price more often. The advantage for Sellers with kids is that moving in the summer means schooling isn’t interrupted.
Overall, it’s a win-win.

Renovating Your Home

Renovating your home is a big job, it takes a lot of decision making, time, effort and of course–money! Nowadays there are so many new ideas to upgrade your home, from textiles to new technology there are hundreds of things to choose from! That’s why, when it comes to renovating, the idea of taking on a big reno can be a little daunting and overwhelming, but there are some small changes that can make a significant impact while providing you with the perfect facelift for your home.

HGTV did an editorial on kitchens and bathrooms, which are arguably the two rooms in your home that will provide the biggest bang for your buck. If you’re looking to do a quick and easy change, a freshly painted bathroom and kitchen can change the feeling of a room completely. Freshly installed countertops can transport a room from drab to dreamy, but can also be expensive if you don’t do your research. The average price for supply, manufacture and installation is roughly $70 to $80 per square foot. A natural stone or quartz countertop will run you about $25 per square foot, while a more expensive and desirable material such as marble would cost you $30 per square foot. On the other hand, basic granite typically costs around $15 per square foot.

Another great feature to upgrade in both the kitchen and bathroom would be the backsplash. The perfect backsplash can change the entire feel of a room, pulling it together and bringing it to life all-in-one. When we talk costs for the

Renovating your home is a big job, it takes a lot of decision making, time, effort and of course–money! Nowadays there are so many new ideas to upgrade your home, from textiles to new technology there are hundreds of things to choose from! That’s why, when it comes to renovating, the idea of taking on a big reno can be a little daunting and overwhelming, but there are some small changes that can make a significant impact while providing you with the perfect facelift for your home.

HGTV did an editorial on kitchens and bathrooms, which are arguably the two rooms in your home that will provide the biggest bang for your buck. If you’re looking to do a quick and easy change, a freshly painted bathroom and kitchen can change the feeling of a room completely. Freshly installed countertops can transport a room from drab to dreamy, but can also be expensive if you don’t do your research. The average price for supply, manufacture and installation is roughly $70 to $80 per square foot. A natural stone or quartz countertop will run you about $25 per square foot, while a more expensive and desirable material such as marble would cost you $30 per square foot. On the other hand, basic granite typically costs around $15 per square foot.

Another great feature to upgrade in both the kitchen and bathroom would be the backsplash. The perfect backsplash can change the entire feel of a room, pulling it together and bringing it to life all-in-one. When we talk costs for the average installation and labor of a tiled backsplash, depending on the material of course, it would be safe to budget between $800 – $1,000. For a natural stone slab, the cost is an average of $25 per square foot, whereas for stone and glass it would generally cost between $15 – $20 per square foot and go up from there. More affordable options would be ceramic tiles that cost about $2 per square foot and up.

Keep in mind what your needs are, though, because choosing your material based solely on price can leave you disappointed in the end. You’ll want to consider durability, necessary maintenance and, of course, appearance to ensure you are making the best choice for your home and lifestyle. There are many factors that will influence price, including the material’s thickness, edging, cuts, angles and the number of slabs required. The cost will also vary depending on the material’s finish, from refined to polished to leathered.

These are just two options you have when updating your home; new countertops and the perfect backsplash can reinvigorate your home. Upgrading is one of the best ways to remodel the home you live in, and if you’re bringing it into the market for resale, it’ll help give it a better overall market value! Remember: it’s your home and you get to make the changes you desire, so do it with passion!

average installation and labor of a tiled backsplash, depending on the material of course, it would be safe to budget between $800 – $1,000. For a natural stone slab, the cost is an average of $25 per square foot, whereas for stone and glass it would generally cost between $15 – $20 per square foot and go up from there. More affordable options would be ceramic tiles that cost about $2 per square foot and up.

Keep in mind what your needs are, though, because choosing your material based solely on price can leave you disappointed in the end. You’ll want to consider durability, necessary maintenance and, of course, appearance to ensure you are making the best choice for your home and lifestyle. There are many factors that will influence price, including the material’s thickness, edging, cuts, angles and the number of slabs required. The cost will also vary depending on the material’s finish, from refined to polished to leathered.

These are just two options you have when updating your home; new countertops and the perfect backsplash can reinvigorate your home. Upgrading is one of the best ways to remodel the home you live in, and if you’re bringing it into the market for resale, it’ll help give it a better overall market value! Remember: it’s your home and you get to make the changes you desire, so do it with passion!