Thursday 20 June 2019

Take your first offer seriously, whether you accept it or not

When your house is up for sale, it doesn't matter whether you have been listed one day or one year. You should always take even your first offer seriously, especially if it is in the range your real estate agent has told you to expect.  Even if you are going to decide to send a counter-offer, you should never discount the offer as unimportant just because you are newly listed.

It is too easy to give in to the temptation to hold firm because there is no sense of urgency, particularly when the offer is coming in very soon after listing.  But there is never any guarantee in the real estate market that you will get another offer soon, or ever get a better offer than the first one.  I've seen this play out myself, from both buyer and seller side.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Like if you're listed at a price your agent feels good about and the first offer comes in 20% or more below.   Still, the buyer and the agent have time invested already, so it is generally worth at least trying a counter-offer even in this scenario, unless there is some indication that an offer may be coming from another buyer.  But it is risky, too, to count on an indication of an offer which may or may not materialize.

Discuss the options with your real estate professional and weigh your options carefully.  But always take even the first offer seriously.  It just might be the only one you get.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Scam alert: rental scams involving professionally listed properties

Here a scam, there a scam, everywhere a scam scam...

Unfortunately, it seems that dishonest people are always finding new ways to exploit good folks and prey upon ignorance and desperation.  Recently, the local real estate association has been posting [warnings for real estate professionals] to keep an eye on sites like Kijiji for their properties being posted as rentals.

It seems scammers are scooping the pictures and information and posting them, but directing people not to contact the agent or knock on the door because the owners are not home.  The goal is to get a first and last month deposit without the potential renter even seeing the property. 

While it seems unfeasible that someone would fall for this, a tough rental market can lead to desperation as well as some people just not knowing how things work (elderly, immigrants, first-time renters), and wanting to get a foot in the door before someone else "steals it out from under them"..

If you or someone you know are looking for a rental, keep an eye open for these situations. You should never deliver money to a landlord without meeting them and seeing the property. 

And if you see something you suspect might be a scam like this, it might not be a bad idea to contact police and let them know.

Monday 10 June 2019

Long vacations and your home insurance

Summer's coming and with it vacation season.  There's a lot to think about when planning your vacation - flights and hotels, what to pack, maybe making arrangements for pets while you're away, stopping mail and newspaper delivery.  And it's not a bad idea to get travel insurance in case you get sick or injured on the trip.

But there's another insurance consideration many may not think about, and that is making sure everything is square with your home insurance.

Home insurance policies generally assume the property will be lived in on an ongoing basis.  Insurers don't like homes being vacant for long periods of time because it increases risk.  For one thing, when no one is in the home there can be an increased chance of burglary.  And even if nothing so nefarious happens, if the roof starts leaking or a pipe bursts or something else goes wrong in the home, there's no one around to see it and do anything about it.  This means the problem could potentially cause a lot more damage than it would if someone were home and catching it immediately. 

These are ongoing concerns for vacant properties like estates or unoccupied rentals, but it also comes into play with owner-occupied homes if you are away for an extended time.  If you're just going for a 3-4 day camping trip, then it's probably nothing to worry about. But if you're going away for a long vacation, especially something like a month or two, then it's almost certain the insurance company will want some steps taken to help keep the home secure.

What they want will vary, but may include practical things like making sure the main water supply is shut off and that someone checks on the property periodically to make sure everything is okay.

Home insurance policies will also vary on how long a home can be vacant before it becomes an insurance issue...  So if you're going away, it's not a bad idea to touch base with your insurer or broker to find out what obligations and steps are necessary on your end.  As with all things insurance related, it's "better safe than sorry".

Tuesday 4 June 2019

They offered what?!

You've just gotten an offer and it's so low, you'd think they were only looking to buy the bedrock under the house.  What are they thinking?

Well, first let's consider value in the open marketplace. At its basic definition, value is what buyers are willing to pay.  There is no value to anything except what buyers are willing to pay.

So if someone has made a low offer - or worse, you've had more than one low offer - there is a possibility that your list price is too high.  This can be a rough reality to accept, but it is something to give real consideration to.
BUT it could just be that you are in a tough segment of the market, whether it's location or some characteristic of the house. For example, one or two bedroom houses and houses without basements can be difficult to sell, with a more limited number of buyers finding this acceptable. 

In one situation, I was helping someone sell a townhouse in an area where not many townhouses have sold in recent years.  Bad enough without a lot of comparisons, but to make matters worse, the most recent sale of a similar property sold quite a bit lower than they should have because of financial pressures and the bank threatening to take the house away.  Of course, we knew that because my clients were neighbours and had heard the back story.  But buyers' agents hadn't heard that (until I told them) and we got some low offers based on that one lower-than-it-should-have-been sale.  Fortunately, we explained the situation, held to our expectations, and were able to get one of the buyers to come up enough to make the deal acceptable.

You won't always have something so identifiable as a cause for low offers, so I would suggest you discuss the situation with your agent.  And WAY before that happens, make sure you're choosing an agent you trust for both competence and character.