Sunday 4 December 2022

Remember to turn off your outdoor taps for winter

Do you turn off your outdoor water taps and drain them before winter?  If you don't, you can get lucky for a time, but you may suddenly find yourself sending out an SOS like this one I once saw on Facebook:

"OMG - outside tap blew up and water is spewing everywhere & flooding towards house!! I DON'T know where shut off valve is!!"

If you've ever frozen a bottle of water and noticed how the bottle has bulged, you understand to some extent why this happens. Unlike many liquids that shrink in volume when frozen, water actually expands in volume, causing the bottle to bulge - or break if it is inflexible material like glass. 

When this happens inside plumbing, the push of the water expanding as it freezes into ice can burst a pipe. In the example above, my friend was lucky that the burst was outside the house and the water was spewing into the yard. They were also lucky that it happened while they were home or it could have still flooded back into the house, but it would have been much worse if the freeze had occurred a bit further into the pipe because water would have been flooding directly into their basement.

Frozen pipes are always a nuisance and can happen where plumbing is running on or close to exterior walls, but outdoor taps are especially risky because by their nature they extend beyond the interior of the house and are exposed to the outdoor temperatures.

Winter has been mild so far but that has to change at some point.. So, if you haven't already, go figure out where the shutoff valves are for your outdoor taps and turn them off, then open the taps outside to drain any water still inside (and confirm they are off).

Wednesday 30 November 2022

The truth about open houses

Do open houses work?

Yes and no.  

Nice and clear, right?  Okay, let me rephrase the question:

Will an open house sell your house?

They certainly can, but realistically it's not very likely.

An open house is open to all, so there is no commitment or real connection to an agent required.  Anyone can show up, and there is a feeling of anonymity.  Because of this open-ended nature of open house attendance, you get a lot of nosy neighbours, as well as "tire-kickers" who may be serious about buying but are still some months away from being ready and are just checking out the market.

So why do agents do open houses?   Good question.  

Real estate agents are still happy to do them because they do work -- for them. 

They can be a great business-building opportunity for the real estate agent.  While some visitors may just be Fred down the street coming to see how the Smiths are living, many people coming through open houses are legitimate buyers, whether current or in the near future.  If these buyers are not working with a buyers' agent, it is an opportunity for the listing agent doing the open house to connect with them and possibly become their agent, whether they buy your particular house or not. *

Of course, while they do sometimes provide a better opportunity for the agent to find new buyer clients than to actually sell your house, they do have the potential to get a lot of potential buyers through in a short and convenient time span.  Personally, I won't push open houses on clients who dislike them, but I am also quite willing to invest the time & effort if they would like me to do one.  As the old saying goes, it doesn't hurt to try.

* As a little side-note:  I remember one company suggesting in their marketing materials that such cross-selling is a negative of the traditional real estate industry.  Please understand that I am not saying that here. In fact, I would suggest such cross-selling, whether from an open house or an email through the MLS® system, is actually a huge benefit of being listed with a full service agent.  While your agent may show your house and sell the buyer a different property up the street, the agent up the street may also show their listing but sell your property instead.  The MLS® system gives you a huge sales force consisting of all local real estate agents in the field. 

Sunday 27 November 2022

Selling difficult or "impossible" properties

Whenever possible, the ideal situation is for the seller to fix any problems that may be outstanding on a property. But there are times when it may not be financially feasible for any number of reasons. It is not the end of the world to list a property for sale with issues, but there are two important things a seller must do if they expect to sell at a proper price and in a reasonable length of time.

First is to make sure you are pricing appropriately for the condition of the property. If a buyer can get a similar property at the same price with absolutely no work to do, you’re going to have a hard time competing in the marketplace. Buyers will expect a lower price if they’re going to have to put in time and money to fix things up, especially if they’re significant items like an old roof or leaky basement.

The second very important step, which actually helps with pricing, is to get written quotes from qualified contractors for any major issues. But besides giving you solid numbers to use for deductions from asking price, a written quote will give comfort to buyers and remove the fear of the unknown – what a seller may “know” to be a $2000 repair can easily be blown up into a $20,000 (or more) repair in the buyers’ minds. Written quotes remove the question marks and replace them with solid figures.

Friday 2 September 2022


Hamilton, ON (September 2, 2022) – The REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB) reported 906 sales of residential properties within the RAHB market area through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System in August 2022. The number of sales were up by 11.7 per cent from July 2022 and down by 24.2 per cent compared to August 2021. There were 1,641 new listings in August 2022, which was down 8 per cent from July 2022, and compared to August 2021, there was an increase in listings of 20 per cent. The average sale price for residential properties across the RAHB market area was $858,405, down 2.3 per cent from July 2022, and up 2 per cent compared to August 2021. There were 2.6 months of inventory* in August 2022 compared to 3.1 months in July 2022.

[ Read the full release and stats ]

*Months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

Tuesday 1 February 2022

#Terminology Tuesday: Irrevocable

The word IRREVOCABLE means "not able to be changed, reversed, or recovered".  And that is basically what it means in reference to a real estate contract, or "offer" as it is commonly called.

When you make an offer, there is a clause in the standard OREA form to make it irrevocable for a specific period of time.

"This offer shall be irrevocable by (Seller/Buyer) until (time) on the (date) day of (month), 20xx, after which time, if not accepted, this offer shall be null and void and the deposit shall be returned to the Buyer in full without interest."

Until that deadline has passed, the offer can not be changed or withdrawn by whoever made it (typically the buyer first, but this applies to counter-offers from the seller to the buyer as well).  The party to whom the offer has been made has until that time to accept it and communicate acceptance.

While not technically required for a contract in general, the nature of real estate makes this a pretty standard part of the process.  It gives the seller assurance that the buyer will be bound but also gives time to consider other offers that might come in.  And it gives the buyer an idea of when to expect an answer, not held in indefinite limbo while a seller considers it and possibly waits for other offers to come in.

On that note, a shorter time period can put pressure on the sellers and is generally better for buyers, while a longer time period works in favour of the sellers as they can bide their time a little to see if anything else does come in.  In practice, it's a balancing act between giving what is necessary and trying to protect your own interests as well.  The listing may ask for a 24 hour irrevocable, but the buyer is not strictly required to oblige that request, just like they're not required to give full price or any other terms outlined in the listing.

But then, the seller may be from out of country, in hospital, or any of a host of other possible scenarios that might require some time to respond, and a shorter deadline may not be feasible. You might just be shooting yourself in the foot and irking the seller for no reason.  And even if there is no 'good reason', it's still one thing the seller is looking for that you're not giving them, so it all has to be considered strategically and with an overall view of the rest of the offer.

Make sure you work with a competent and experienced real estate professional, and trust their advice.