Saturday 16 January 2016

You don't even know what you don't know

It's not easy being in real estate. It's a very competitive business and there's no guarantee you'll make any money.  Many don't make it past a couple years in the business. 

And of course before you get started, you have to finish the education.  Well, actually you never finish the education because there is a constant continuing education program that you have to do before your license renewal every two years. 

There's more to know than you realize.  You're looking at real estate courses to learn about contracts, disclosure requirements, agency law, and all the various rules and regulations around the business. 

And when you finish all the courses, you'll still have a lot more to learn - from municipal by-laws that affect property ownership and development to ongoing changes with provincial and federal policies and programs in place.  It's a steep learning curve and initially you don't even know what you don't know.

That is one of the reasons that selling a property on your own can be a difficult experience. You don't even know what you don't know. 

Here's just one example:  you drive around Hamilton and you see certain for-sale-by-owner directional signs at the corner of intersections all over the city basically saying "house for sale this way."  You see far more of these than you see for real estate agents.  Do you think that means those particular companies are doing more business than traditional real estate agents? Taking a big chunk of the market? 

You'd be tempted to think that.  But actually, no.  The reason you don't see many of those signs for real estate agents is because they are illegal in Hamilton.  Yea, you read that right.  They're not allowed.

Open house directional signs are permitted but only on the day of an open house, but For Sale directional signs are prohibited by the City of Hamilton's sign by-law. 

Most local real estate agents know this and don't use them.  But when you're selling your house on your own, you get them as part of a generic package with some companies and of course you want to use them.  I really can't say whether those companies give the private sellers any warning about local rules, but we do know we see the signs around. 

Here's the big problem with that.  You're the one selling your house and you put the sign up.  If Hamilton's Municipal Law Enforcement comes knocking, it's YOU that could be paying a fine.  Do you know how much that fine is?  Is it a single fine or per sign?

So maybe you should ask yourself, what else don't you know?


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