Monday 30 August 2021

Life transitions and real estate

Do you know someone who needs a good real estate agent right now? Chances are you're either shaking or scratching your head.  But maybe you do and don't even know it.

Sometimes I know folks would like to refer me to people they know, but many times the first indication that you get from friends or family that they are thinking of moving is their house being listed for sale (too late for me) or an announcement that they have bought a house.

It helps to understand what drives real estate transactions - what makes people move.  Sometimes it is just a simple desire for change: a different size of house or property, or maybe to a better neighbourhood.  In those situations, they may not have talked about their thoughts and you can't really predict the decision.

But quite often, it's more apparent "life transition" periods that brings someone into the real estate market as a buyer or seller. Marriage, divorce, births, deaths and parental estates, job losses or transfers.. all of these life events can cause someone to move and that means they may need a trustworthy real estate agent who will guide them through that side of their situation.

If you see someone going through one of these transition periods, maybe ask them gently what they are going to do about their property needs and whether they need a good real estate agent.  If they do, I hope you'll keep me in mind to refer them to.

Monday 23 August 2021

What does "as is" mean in a listing?

If you're looking at properties long enough, there's a a chance you're eventually going to come across one that says "property sold as is" or something along those lines.

Basically, this is a way of emphasizing "buyer beware" and the seller saying they are not taking responsibility for the condition of the property or making any promises about it.  Sometimes it can be an indication that the property will be in rough condition, with deferred maintenance or other issues.  As such, some lenders treat this as a potential 'red flag' when looking at the property for a mortgage.

However, it is also quite common on estates and power-of-sale/foreclosures because the seller is not the person who was actively living in the property (although with an estate you might be a bit more familiar with the property than a bank is for a property they are selling).  When looking with buyer clients, I'm less concerned to see this statement in one of these situations.

And it's important to understand as a seller, that it doesn't really excuse you from disclosing known latent defects.  A latent defect is any problem that may not be visible on inspection.  This can include things like knob & tube hidden in the walls (if you know), occasional problems with flooding in the basement (sometimes hard to see unless it's presently wet), foundation problems hidden behind a finished basement, and so on.  It does emphasize that the buyer should be doing their own due diligence, but does not entirely remove the sellers' legal obligations.

Clauses can be included in an Agreement of Purchase and Sale that help to emphasize that the buyer is making an informed decision and accepts the property "as is". Even this probably would not really excuse the seller from disclosing known latent defects if it came to a court battle, but it can be quite difficult for a buyer to prove a seller knew something. As such, buyers should always use reasonable caution when buying a property that includes this statement.

Monday 16 August 2021

The nose knows and the nose 'noes'

Offensive smells can turn buyers off
First, let me apologize to the strict lovers of grammar for using the word 'no' as a present tense verb like 'goes' to 'go'.  I plead poetic license

The point is that unpleasant scents can very quickly lead to negative feelings, and a desire to say no to something based on olfactory offense.

For example, if someone walks into the room and strongly exudes a bad body odor, your opinion sinks pretty quickly.

Or if you catch a whiff of food cooking and it turns your stomach, you're not likely to be interested in the finished dish.

The same goes for home buyers entering a property for the first time.  The house might be clean and everything in proper order visually, but if they get hit was a nasty smell at the front door, it subtly changes that first impression.  Sometimes it's not even subtle - it evokes outright dislike.

Because every sense can impact a buyer's impression of your home, don't neglect to eliminate day-to-day smells that may turn buyers off - pets, cooking, hobbies and other things you might not think about.  Wash or change your pet's beds and put toys away.  Try to avoid cooking foods with strong scents, particularly before showings.  And consider the impact a strong chemical scent might have on someone walking into the home before you start staining your latest wood project in the basement.

Besides emotional response to smells, some people also have scent sensitivity.  There's debate about whether this is becoming a more common problem, an imagined problem, or if awareness and acceptance is just growing in recent years.  Regardless, I have personally had clients who developed migraines if confronted with strong scents, so it's also good to avoid air fresheners, scented candles, and especially something like incense.

The best bet is a nice clean and odorless environment, as much as possible.  If you're not sure, get someone from outside the home to take a walk through and let you know if they smell anything.

One word of caution here:  if there are permanent or more serious smells, make sure you're dealing with the source.  For example, simply covering up a musty smell with air freshener without finding its source could lead to lawsuits later if the buyers discover a leaky roof and mould in the attic.  Reduce and eliminate day-to-day odors, but if there may be a more serious problem behind it, try to find it and fix it.  Or at least disclose it to reduce exposure to lawsuits later on.