Tough listing decisions, even in our sellers’ market

a lot of key decisions to make before the sign goes in the ground

Our Ottawa sellers’ market continues with limited listing inventory and upwards pressure on prices.  This is tough on buyers and their representatives, as we are seeing many offer dates and multiple offers, especially in the mid-price categories.  So one would think everything is easy for sellers, right?

Though it is a good time to be selling, there are still several important listing decisions to be made by sellers and here are a few of the critical ones:

Who pick for a listing agent?
This is one of the first things to decide and since Ottawa is flush with over 3,100 Realtors and 176 brokerages, there are many choices.  It is important to get this decision done as quickly as possible, so you can establish a good working relationship and work on a cohesive listing and marketing plan.  Scrambling to find an agent after you have found your dream home, may not be the best strategy.

Do I buy first or sell first?
Age old question for those with an existing home to sell and there are pros and cons to each position.  In a buyer’s market or even a balanced market, one may be able to secure a “first refusal” agreement to purchase a property that is conditional on the sale of an existing home.  In these sellers’ market conditions however, sellers are not prone to consider such an offer, unless the price and other offer details are truly exceptional.

When do I list?
Those with a house to sell will probably have the timing dictated by when they find their next dream home, as in most cases, closing dates on the existing property and the new property, will have to line up.

Those with some flexibility, will want to study sales patterns and understand when might be best for their own property.  In a rising market like this, there may be some advantage in listing later but one never knows what market conditions may be even 3 or 4 months down the road.  We have a seasonal peaks and valleys in unit sales, so those must also be considered.

Do I list on MLS® or is it worth considering an “exclusive” listing?
An exclusive listing may save some commission and HST expense but is it really the best vehicle to market the property?  We are seeing more “exclusive” listings these days, although most tend to be of quite short duration.  In some cases it is used as simply a pre-announcement of a pending MLS® listing and in other cases, agents are using it as a means to draw buyer prospects for themselves.

Should I try selling it myself?
There are always challenges in selling privately and even more so in this fast paced market.  Inexperienced sellers potentially face a host of unfamiliar situations such as multiple offers, bully offers or even sales falling through that are best handled by an experienced professional.   In addition, the savings gained are often far less than advertised by the FSBO sales and marketing organizations.

How do I establish my listing price?
Always a critical step and strategies may vary, depending in individual circumstances.  Some may wish to underprice their listing price, in order to generate multiple offers, while others will simply put a strong market price on the property and be prepared to consider offers immediately.

Should I hold back offers?
We are seeing a lot of these “offer dates” this year and this is no surprise.  Holding offers for 5 or 7 days after listing, allows a good opportunity for all buyers to consider the property, have a chance to visit (via private showing or an open house) and decide whether they wish to submit an offer.  While wider exposure is generally good and should generate the best market value offer, many buyers may choose to participate in a multiple offer situation and bypass the property.  Military and RCMP and other government personnel moving on the Federal government Relocation Plan may also not be able to consider waiting for an offer night, given the tight timelines they have to purchase a home. Typically, they have a week or less, so they cannot afford to wait 5 to 7 days for the offer hold back date.

Should I consider “bully” offers?
A “bully” offer is one which a buyer submits during the offer hold back stage ie well before the offer date.  Typically, such an offer will be very attractive on both offer price and terms.  It is intended be so strong that a seller may wish to reconsider waiting for the offer date and consider accepting the bully offer and not waiting for the offer date.  Tough call to make and one best managed jointly with a Realtor.  There are some important protocols to be followed in considering a bully offer and notifying all other parties who have expressed an interest in the property.

Should I put any restrictions on showing times and availability?
In this fast paced market, buyers and their agents will be very active in quickly getting in to see new listings.  Sellers will want to have a strategy for this, including regulating scheduling of private showings.  It can be quite upsetting if the listing is popular to have a half a dozen (or more!) agents and buyers coming through the home at different times of the day.

Should I have an Open House?
Many may feel an Open House is not necessary in this market, yet it may be a way to aggregate or consolidate what would otherwise have been 10 or 12 private showings.  Also, a busy open house is a great way for those buyers to know the interest level on the property.  This is another good discussion to have with your listing agent or broker.

 

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692  oasisrealty@rogers.com
oasisrealtyottawa.com 

Why the seller or listing agent should order the Condo Status certificate package

Condo status certificate should be available at listing time

What is the condo status certificate?
This is a package of information which contains extensive detail on the legal description, governance, policies and finances of a specific condominium corporation.  It is prepared by the Condominium Property Manager and is a snapshot at a certain point in time, meant to provide pertinent details to a potential buyer and their lawyer, concerning that condo and the unit being purchased.

What is the critical information contained in the package?
All of the information is important but the key things include the Declaration which details the legal description and governance rules under which the condo was created.  The budgets and status of the reserve fund are very important, as is whether there are any pending lawsuits or special assessments.  Condo rules and policies are critical, too.  Ie if an investor wants to rent out a unit, they will need to know what rules are in place. Ie short term rentals may be ruled out thus Airbnb or other short term rentals may be excluded.

What is the typical review process?
These are normally ordered from the Property Manager by the buyer’s lawyer, once a conditional sale has been agreed between buyer and seller.  The Property Manager has 10 business days to update/research and produce the package and make it available for buyer and lawyer review. Normally, this gets done in 5-7 days and some Property Managers also offer an expedited service for a higher fee.  Normal fee for the package is $100 and we have been quoted up to $200 for expedited service.  The lawyer pays this and the delivery charge and gets reimbursed by the buyer.

The lawyer then reviews the package and highlights any unusual circumstances for the buyer and answers any specific buyer questions.

What’s wrong with this process?

Lost buyers and time lag:
Often there can be information contained in the Status package that may cause a buyer to rethink their interest in the unit or the price they might be prepared to pay for it.  If this is so, the buyer may walk from the deal and the unit remains unsold.  Other interested buyers may have moved on by this point and be lost to the seller as prospective buyers, especially given the lag time between the agreement and buyer and lawyer review of the status package which is typically 7 or 8 days after agreement.

Buyer feels committed to purchase at time of agreement:
There is also a psychological tendency for buyers to want to complete a deal once it has been made and they often do not pay enough attention post agreement to details which may deter them from completing the deal.  For this same reason, there is a “cooling off” for new construction condo purchases (often sold in high pressure, if not timeshare manner) while buyers and hopefully, their lawyers review all the detailed information in the new construction or pre-construction condo.
Disclosure package. Unfortunately, in the case of resale condos, the seller pays a big price should the buyer get cold feet while awaiting the condo package.

Sale falling through delays seller plans and may leave a stigma:
When a conditional sale falls through, it listing gets put back on the active market but this takes some time and there may be a question mark or stigma attached to the listing.  Other buyers and their Realtor will be asking: why did that sale fall through?  Is there something wrong with the property? Something come up on inspection? Something in the condo docs?

Best practices recommendation:
The seller or listing agent should order and pay for the condo docs (currently, this done by the buyer’s lawyer or agent) , so they are available at time of listing for interested parties to peruse prior to making an offer to purchase.  If this is done the buyer, their agent and lawyer can clarify any details in the condo documents and make a better informed purchase decision.  This is guaranteed to help minimize the number of sales that are currently falling through (which are at an all-time high, 10-15% in our opinion) and potentially set up a multiple offer situation for a condo seller.

$100 seems like a pretty inexpensive way to do all the above, don’t you think?

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692 oasisrealty@rogers.com
Oasisrealtyottawa.com

If you have any comments on this post or any other real estate matter, feel free to indicate below!

 

 

Should showings continue after a conditional sale?

What’s the point?  If it’s already sold….

Sellers can be excused for not really wanting to continue with additional showings after agreeing a conditional sale with a buyer.  It is understandable that sellers might wish to take a breather, after all the preparations for listing the property and the rush and stress of the initial deluge of showings.

Buyers, too, generally have little enthusiasm for a property that appears to be already “spoken for” by another buyer.  After all, why get all excited about the property, when another buyer is in control of that property during the conditional period.  Many buyers are afraid that they will be disappointed after seeing the “one that got away”

Even buyer representatives can be somewhat reticent about investing time in showing a property that their buyer’s cannot buy.

For the above reasons and more, the number of showings on properties with conditional sales in place drops 90% or more.

…but what if the conditional sale does not “firm up”?

10-15% of conditional sales are falling through in our current market!
Given the current seller’s market conditions, extremely low listing inventory, offer dates and multiple offers, many more conditional sales are falling through than is usually the case.  Historically, conditional sales don’t complete only about 5% of the time but over the last 18-24 months this figure has grown to the point where as many as 10-15% of conditional sales are falling through! See the number of properties shown as being ” back on market”  in this recent 7 day snapshot from our Realtor dashboard.

See a previous post on why sales fall through here: http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/conditional-sales-falling-like-autumn-leaves/

Property effectively “off the market”
Sellers will have missed buyers during the conditional sales period and there can be a bit of a stigma associated with a sale falling through.   Some buyers and their agents may wonder if there was some issue around inspection that surfaced to kill the previous deal, for example.

Both buyers and sellers should pursue showings:
A buyer may get a “leg up” on a such a property, should it fall through, as many buyers will have moved on and not be in a position to quickly get in to see the property, once it shows up as “back-on-the-market”  An aggressive buyer (and agent) may even want to submit an offer to show the seller their level of interest and if anything happens with the original buyer, they are then in a position to control the property. (still not a high % play, but if it is the “right” property, it may be worth the time investment.)

Sellers: be open to showings and keep the property readily available and accessible. 
We had an interesting experience recently where we booked a showing on a property that had been conditionally sold to find that snow had not been shovelled and the property was not accessible or safe for viewing.  Surprisingly enough, the conditional sale on that property fell through and it was back on the market a few days later. Also no surprise: our buyers had moved on a purchased something else in the meantime.

So while it is normal to lose interest in doing showings post conditional sale, all parties are best to remember “it’s not over ‘til it’s over!

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692              oasisrealtyottawa.com

 

Listing strategy and tough seller decisions for 2019

when is the best time to list my property?

While our Ottawa market has been favouring sellers for a year or two now, they still have a lot of important decisions to make in arriving at their listing and marketing strategy for a successful sale and maximizing the equity from their property.  Here are a list of items we think sellers will wish to consider:

When do I list my property?
Always a critical question, of course and one mostly determined by where one is moving and how long a current property may take to list, sell and close.
Our 3 biggest sales months of the year are typically April (#3), May #1 and June #2 which many sellers consider as the best time to sell.  Given our current low listing inventory situation, however, just about any time is probably OK for most properties.

How long will my property take to sell?
Days on market has improved with our strong market and most midrange properties should sell in approximately 30 days (or less!) and close in 45 to 60 days, although this varies with every property, buyer and seller.

MLS® listing or “exclusive” listing?
The best exposure to the most buyers is always via a full service MLS® listing that is exposed widely to all Realtors and their buyers through the MLS® ecosystem, especially realtor.ca. Some Realtors are plugging an “exclusive” listing strategy which has its purposes but is not as widely seen and generally not as effective for a seller in maximizing their marketing opportunity.

Pre-market via use of a “Coming Soon” sign on my lawn?
These signs have become quite prevalent, as listing agents seek to both do advance marketing and try to prospect for new clients via this grey marketing of listings that are not widely published via the MLS® system.  Though there are some legitimate uses for such a strategy, in most cases we think is more to the listing agent benefit than that of the seller.

Do I hold back offers until a certain date?
A very common strategy is to hold back offers during the first week or so a property is listed.  This gives as many buyers as possible the opportunity to view the listing in person and determine if they wish to submit an offer.  Multiple offers generally means the best market selling price available at the time but sellers may lose some buyers as a result.

Some buyers are not interested in the multiple offer process which can be stressful and seem like an auction.  Military or out of town buyers may not have the time to wait around until a seller offer date, as they are on tight timelines to identify and purchase a property, so one will lose most of these buyers by holding back offers.

What about a “bully” offer?
A “bully” offer is one that is submitted during the offer holdback period.  Such offers are typically very strong offers and also call for an immediate decision by the seller.  Tough call for sellers to make, as this buyer may come back on offer day or they may move on to the next property on their list instead and a seller may or may not get as good an offer come offer night.

Do I need to have an Open House in this market?
We suspect the number of open houses is way down these days, as properties sell quickly.  An occasional open house may still be useful for that casual buyer who is not working with a Realtor or the “I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it-buyer”

How much commission should I pay?
There are two important components here: one is total commission to be paid but also the split between listing agent/brokerage and buyer agent/brokerage.  Sellers should understand both carefully, as there are a number of commission plans out there that may offer an attractive lower commission rate but also restrict the amount of commission being offered to the buyer representative and brokerage which may impact the interest level around that listing.

We are able to offer significantly lower commission costs than almost all other realtors, due to our status as an independent non franchise brokerage with less overhead to cover.  Give us a call and we can discuss your plans and how we can optimize your marketing opportunity and transaction costs.

 

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage 613-435-4692  oasisrealty@rogers.com oasisrealtyottawa.com 

Why Ottawa will have the best winter sales in a decade or more

sales should help “warm” Ottawa winter

Ottawa real estate normally pretty much hibernates from late November to late February but this may not be the case this year.  Buyers and sellers will want to consider the following factors and consider whether they wish to move up their buying or selling plans accordingly:

 

Listing inventory at decade lows:
The level of available properties to purchase continues to be extremely low and the number of new listings coming on the market, shows no signs of reversing this trend. Supply/demand alone would suggest that this has to put more upward pressure on selling prices.

Residential listings are currently 17.5% lower than last year, 35.5% lower than 2016 and 48.8% lower than 2015.

Condo listings are 34.5% lower than 2017, 45.5% lower than 2016 and 55.8% lower than 2015.

Even rental listings are down quite significantly, 31.6% lower than last for MLS rental listings.

Beat the price increase!  Your next house is going up $2-3K a month!

With residential prices on the way up (+5.7% through Oct 2018) that dream house is getting more expensive day-by-day.  For example:  a $500,000 property today may well be $525,000 or even $530,000 by the end of 2019 peak selling season.  That’s an increase of $2,000 to $2,500 per month and with mortgage rates also headed north, the cost of servicing a mortgage is also increasing.  The mortgage “stress test” which is typically 2% above the mortgage rate being offered is also moving upwards as rates rise thus making approvals more challenging for some buyers.

New construction price and availability:
Builders are also facing limited availability, after two record years of sales and also are facing some labour shortages and price pressure.  All of these factors will also continue to push up the price of new construction.

Mortgage rates:
Rates are pretty well guaranteed to rise a half point in the next 6 to 12 months, with an outside chance of going up a full % point.  This adds challenge to the approval process (mortgage stress test) and monthly cost for buyers and homeowners, so buying now and locking in at a lower rate will have some advantages. *new construction buyers will have to make sure they get a guaranteed rate from their mortgage broker or bank to cover them for the longer new build timelines.

Local economy is strong:
The local economy seems pretty solid regarding employment and there appears to be no signs of the Federal Government doing any significant belt tightening in advance of next year’s election. (Though one never knows?)  So our market should continue its current moderate upward path in the immediate future.

Provincial and municipal budgets:

A “new” city council in Ottawa is in place and we also have a relatively new Provincial government in Toronto.  The Provinces’ fiscal challenges are well noted and there are also signs that the City of Ottawa has its own issues.  Here are a few things that could happen that might add cost for buyers and sellers:

  1. If Ottawa council feels really in a budget pinch, is it possible that a Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT) could be implemented here? This would add $5,000-$10,000 to the typical residential purchase transaction cost here and would cause a bubble and price run up in advance of implementation.   To put this in perspective: the total land transfer tax on a $500K home would jump to almost $13,000 and $21,000 for a $700,000 home purchase.
  2. What is the Provincial government going to do to fix their huge fiscal problem? Could they raise the level of the Provincial Land Transfer Tax? Add some other “luxury” or other tax on housing?
  3. Could Ottawa raise development charges which once again adds to the cost of new construction homes and condos?
  4. What effect will “inclusionary zoning” have on costs of new construction? This principle requires builders and developers to include provision for lower cost housing in their new projects but will certainly affect the cost of new properties, as it becomes more prevalent in the near future.
  5. Do the Feds have any plans in their National Housing plan that might affect buyers, sellers or homeowners?

 

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage

613-435-4692 oasisrealty@rogers.com

Optimizing real estate transaction costs

 

Trends in legal services for real estate closings

Lawyers play a critically important role in closing real estate transactions and providing advice to buyers and sellers along the way.  At a recent legal seminar presented by Mark Weisleder of realestatelawyers.ca, we got a short update on several new trends in the closing process that are focused on making life simpler for both consumers and realtors.

Some lawyers will now come to you:
There are more than one lawyer around offering mobile services but it is certainly a great option for many buyers and sellers.  Having the lawyer (or representative) come to your office or home can be a time saver and very convenient.

Electronic funds transfer:
Lawyers can now do electronic funds transfer more readily in both accepting deposits and closing funds plus disbursing proceeds.  Super time saver for all concerned.  Saves trips to banks for certified cheques or bank drafts.

In the case of realtors, we receive commission funds immediately upon closing, along with notification that the deal has actually closed.  Age old system has relied upon lawyers mailing a commission cheque upon closing and the listing agent brokerage processing that cheque through their own banking network, while also cutting a paper cheque to the co-operating brokerage. Sellers of course, had to make another trip to the lawyers’ office to pick up a cheque for any net proceeds of their sale.

Multi-site closing locations:
Though interaction is minimal on real estate closings (1-2 meetings) many lawyers are now offering closing services in multiple locations across the city (or in the case of realestatelawyers.ca, at 35 locations across the Province)

House Key Management:
A cute and interesting timesaver for buyers and sellers, is that realestatelawyers.ca provides a lockbox to a seller which they install on or before closing day with a set of keys inside.  Once the transaction has closed, the sellers’ lawyer provides the lockbox code to the buyer and their lawyer and the buyer can gain immediate access to the property without having to drive to the sellers’ lawyers’ office or other physical location to pick up the keys.  The lockbox is gifted to the buyer, thus saving the necessity of a representative returning to the property to retrieve it.

Condo Status documentation package available electronically or on a rush basis:
Condo status certificate review is a critical function of a lawyer on a condo purchase.  Property Management companies have 10 days by law to produce these docs for a lawyer representing a buyer at a fee of approximately $100.  This is typically quite a pile of legal docs and schedules that have been photocopied numerous times but finally, these are being made available electronically.  (although most here in Ottawa still seem to require paper and a physical pick up or courier charge to get these to the buyer’s lawyer.

The 10 day allowable timeline for Property managers to produce the docs (though most are done within 5 business days) does drag out the conditional sales period for a condo sale.  This is not advantageous for a seller, as their property is pretty much “off the market” or suspended while awaiting these condo docs. Many property managers will provide an expedited service (24-48 hours) for double the typical fee (ie. Therefore $200) which becomes the buyer expense.

Condo docs good for 90 days:
We think a better idea all around, is for sellers to order the condo Status documentation package at time of listing and make it available to buyers and their agents to review when in advance of making an offer to purchase and thus shortening the need for an extended conditional period.  These are normally 5-7 business days for residential properties and 10 business days for condos. Condo status document packages are good for legal purposes for 90 days from date of issue, so as long as closing is within 90 days of the package date, they are very useful.

Multiple offers:
Having condo docs immediately available greatly facilitates multiple offers.  In Toronto, approximately 50% of sellers invest in condo doc package at time of listing, although it is still fairly rare here in Ottawa.  Some are doing it but probably less than 5%.  This is an idea worth pursuing for anyone selling a condo.  Buyers will want to make arrangements with their lawyer to review these docs ahead of making a purchase, as what is contained in those docs may determine whether or how much they wish to offer for the condo.

Fees and Disbursements:
A reminder for both sellers and buyers to be sure to ask for the cost of legal fees (the lawyer fees)  and disbursements necessary to process a specific transaction.  These fees include land transfer tax, mortgage registration, title insurance, courier fees, govt fees and other services necessary to complete a transaction.

Fees are usually slightly higher for a buyer than a seller. (+$200)

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Oasis Realty Brokerage
Ottawa 613-435-4692

oasisrealty@rogers.com  oasisrealtyottawa.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smoking cannabis at home compromises market value and marketability of real estate

how does cannabis smoke affect home sellers?

As Canada starts a brave new world with the legalization of cannabis, we have to remind all property owners about the dangers of residual smoke and its impact on market value.  Here are a few things to think about:

Most buyers aren’t smokers: Only about 20% of adult Canadians smoke tobacco and non-smokers are very sensitive to residual smoking odours and shun properties that exhibit a long term smoking habit.  We have had buyers enter properties for showings or open houses, who immediately turned around and left the property after smelling cigarette smoke.  These non-smokers will be equally not interested in a property with a heavy cannabis smoke residue.

Ambient odour often unknown to owners: As with many other household odours, the degree of smoke smell may be under appreciated or even unknown to those who live there every day, as one gets accustomed to it.

This is why buyers entering a property for the first time should “listen to their nose” upon first entering a property, as this is the best time to detect potentially out of bounds smells.  A damp basement is usually a giveaway from the first moment of entering, for example.  After a few minutes, however, our perception adjusts and the odour is not as prevalent at a cognitive level.

Hard to remove: Long term smoking in a property is not easily or inexpensively remedied and buyers will either walk away completely or very much de-value a potential property, to facilitate the remediation.

Growing personal marijuana: 4 plants per household should not create a major mould worry but will people stop with 4 plants? The “grow op” stigma created over the last few decades will be a tough one to shake and even if legal, we suggest those selling remove any and all plants and materials from their property prior to listing.  Why turn off even one buyer?

Don’t think it is OK to smoke in the garage: Many wisely smoke outdoors but just as many feel that smoking in the garage is OK.  Doesn’t help much with most buyers in our opinion, so smoke outdoors or better yet, not at all.  This applies equally to tobacco and cannabis.

Stigma remains: Hopefully, your neighbours are not big smokers, either-as this may scare away many buyers also.  Though this may fade as legalization moves forward, the stigma attached to cannabis smoke odour will impact sellers and buyers for some time.

Renters and medical marijuana users: These are two legal battlegrounds we can expect to see unfold in the coming months/years with legalization.  This will be an interesting challenge for both investor owners and corporate rental building owners and managers.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692 oasisrealty@rogers.com
Ottawa, Ontario.

 

 

how to pay less real estate commission and get full service

The savvy seller can find a quality agent and broker and still get full service at lower commission rates.

What is normal commission?
The accepted norm for real estate commission is 5% of the sale price of a property.  Typically, the listing agent and the buyer representatives (and their respective brokerages) split this amount equally with 2.5% going to each.  With average prices continuing to climb, this adds up to a fair amount of a seller’s equity to cover the cost, as sellers normally pay both ends of the commission.

Don’t forget the HST! The average residential real estate transaction in Ottawa these days is almost $450,000, so this requires a commission payment of $22,500, using the 5% model…but wait…there’s more!  The HST is charged on the real estate services, adding another 13% or $2,925 to bring the total to $25,425.  So this is clearly and expense that a prudent seller will want to optimize.

As one can see from the photo enclosed, this seller paid only 3% commission which would be a savings of over $10,000 in commission and hst in the example of the typical $450,000 property above…that’s worth considering, right?

Typical commission splits between the sales person and the brokerage:
Most large brand name brokerage sales agents need to charge the 5% rates to cover their corporate overhead.  Though individual Realtors are able to determine their own listing fees as independent contractors, most are constrained via contract, company policy and management practice plus they also need to maximize their earnings, accounting for the split they must pay to the franchise and corporate real estate company.  These splits take 10-30% of the commission revenue earned in *most cases. (splits vary greatly across the industry)

Optimizing real estate commission:
There are many different commission approaches out there these days, many of them available from smaller or mid-size brokerages such as ours.  (to be fair, some agents with larger brokers also have variable commission fees but they are very hard to find-since they are typically not permitted to advertise their commission rates)

The challenge most sellers face is how to get a lower commission cost without having to sacrifice the level of service received.  Even the “for-sale-by-owner” companies (who misleadingly advertise “no commission”, IMHO) do most often require a commission payment to the agent and brokerage representing the buyer on top of the fees charged to “sell it yourself”.  Almost all buyer agents expect 2.5% (+HST) when providing a buyer and facilitating the transaction on behalf of both parties.  So “ for-sale-by-owner”  is not commission free and though it may cut down the total commission being paid, the seller does not have the same level of representation or service they would have had by engaging a listing sales person or Broker.

Mere Posting services:
There are some brokerages who offer very low “ listing end” fees but for limited services and of course, the buyer agent/representative is still looking for their 2.5%, so while this works for some, it may not be ideal in this high paced market.  While intuitively, our sellers’ market would suggest it is easier to sell and therefore marketing and service effort should be less (with commensurately lower cost)  this is not the case.  This market puts a lot of pressure on Realtors to get the price and marketing strategy right and manage a complex set of issues to get the best deal for their client.

The happy medium:
The growth of small and medium sized firms has proliferated in recent years, as many Realtors choose to lower their costs and also become more independent, away from the umbrella of the somewhat restrictive corporate franchise broker.

Firms like ours are able to offer lower commissions and more flexible programs, as we do not bear the overhead of the larger brokerage entities.

Types of commissions that work for sellers:
A seller who also buys with the same agent should expect to get some level of discount on the selling side.  We charge only 3% or 3.5% in this situation) A seller whose agent represents both the seller and a buyer of that property should also expect to pay less, since there is no other agent to pay. (we charge 2.5 or 3% only in these circumstances)

Day-in-day-out lower fees:
We offer the government contract rate of only 3.7% (+HST) for residential properties and 3.99% for condos or country residential properties on well and septic systems.

 Flat fees:
Some firms offer flat fees on the listing end ie $2,995 but typically there will also be a % charge for the buyer representative/brokerage, too.

Volume discount or negotiated discount:
Each property is different and each situation is different, so there may well be some discounts available based on the situation that can be negotiated.

Tips on commission hunting:
Make sure you know what services are being offered.  If you expect the typical suite of Realtor services, make sure these are being offered at the reduced price.  Ie if no professional photography, online marketing, showing feedback or open houses are included, you may not be getting the same value.

Make sure you know the commission rate being offered to the buyer representative who brings the buyer of your property.  Many lower commission plans also drop the % paid and this can have adverse consequences to a seller.

Make sure you know the distinction and are getting a full MLS® listing, as some agents offer a lower commission rate package on what is called an “exclusive listing” but this listing does not get published on MLS and the individual agent is often trying to sell the property themselves (like a pocket listing)  and not have to pay another Realtor for the buying end.  While this lower commission may be attractive, the power of MLS is that all listings go on realtor.ca and all Realtors and their buyers are exposed and engaged to get the listing sold to the widest possible audience. (2 million+ visitors per month)

Is the firm and individual offering the value priced commission experienced enough to manage your listing and are you comfortable with them?

Get all commission rates and service levels committed in writing and included as an addendum to the listing contract and that way you know what you are paying and what you are getting in return.

There are dozens and dozens of independent firms covering every corner of Ottawa, so don’t be shy about seeking one out and using them for your listing brokerage!

For more information about our boutique brokerage services, feel free to give us a call at 613-435-4692 or email oasisrealty@rogers.com  (not intended to solicit those working with other Realtors)  You can also find more Ottawa real estate information and tips at our social media accounts and blog below:

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage Ottawa, ON

Oasisrealtyottawa.com
https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/
https://twitter.com/OasisrealtyOTT
http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/

12th year in business!

 

How overuse of exclusive listings undermines MLS®

 

Given our existing low listing inventory situation, many Realtors are convincing their buyers to “try” an exclusive listing to sell their property. While anything a seller and listing agent choose to do is up to them, it does have some consequences for the overall market, including that particular seller.

These exclusive listings are often flagged with sign toppers that say “exclusive listing” or “Coming Soon…” and we believe many listing agents wish to cash in on the listing scarcity for their own marketing and prospect generation purposes. What better way to entice a buyer to contact them than to offer something they may not be able to access otherwise?

Seller cannot be sure they actually get full market value for their home/property:
Selling to a small subset or “VIP” audience of buyers does not necessarily generate a full market value offer. Full market value can only be obtained by the widest possible exposure of a listing to the full MLS® market over time and this does not happen with these grey market listings.
The bottom line is that if the seller is happy with the price they get…then so what? …but just like the seller who sells quickly and then wonders “ should I have listed higher?” the exclusive listing seller may wonder the same thing.

No oversight on “exclusive” listings:
These listings are not on MLS® and therefore not subject to the extensive policies and processes administered by our Ottawa Real Estate Board to ensure fairness and equal access. The Board has no authority to investigate such listings and the 63 pages of OREB MLS® rules do not apply, so though not probable-abuses are possible.  Ie. Might a listing agent choose to give preferential access to their exclusive listing to their own buyers?  Or to their own small circle of Realtor friends or preferred Realtors?  One of the reasons MLS® works so well is that it is available to all 3,000 plus Ottawa Realtors and their buyers with equal access.

Loss of listing inventory may artificially inflate demand in the MLS® marketplace:
Further limiting supply in the listing starved MLS® market, will only enhance demand and potentially push prices higher. Our Ottawa market has been successful over the years by being steady and not as subject to the peaks and valleys of some of our Canadian neighbours.  Spiking demand and driving prices up to double digit increases, risks a longer and flatter market when demand eventually does level off.

Loss of listing data hurts buyers, sellers and Realtors:
By selling a property on the open non MLS® market, the MLS® system gets no data capture from that transaction and that information cannot be used by future buyers and sellers (and their agents) to assess their own buying and selling plans. MLS® data (and photos!)  is critical to helping the marketplace judge what market value should be and losing out data makes that process more difficult.

Searching listings for buyers is a real challenge in this marketplace and the more places a buyer or buyer agent has to sift through to find new listings, makes the search process that much more difficult and frustrating.

MLS® listings should not be “old news”
If a large % of listings get advance marketed as “exclusive” listings for 2-4 weeks and then ultimately get listed on MLS® for full exposure then MLS® listings run the risk of being deemed “old news” which is not good for the credibility and integrity of MLS® as “the” place to go for new listings.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should:
Just because online marketing and social media presence make it easier and more immediate to market properties today than in the dark printed past, doesn’t mean one should short circuit the central MLS® system.

While many coin operated Realtors may choose to find the shortest, quickest way to a closing and a commission cheque, most will realize that continuing to utilize the MLS® system and protecting its integrity, is still the best way to market listings. Trying to short circuit the system for marketing advantage ultimately weakens our MLS® system and makes losers of us all.

Why is the listing agent proposing an exclusive listing?
We are clearly not in favour of the widespread use of exclusive listings and we certainly didn’t see too many of them when we had a buyers’ market back in 2015 or 2015. So most sellers should have the discussion with their listing agent and try to really understand what it is they are selling and why.  Ultimately, whatever seller and listing agent agree is fine but both parties should be aware that they could be missing out on “top dollar” by not marketing the property first on the full-fledged MLS® system where all buyers and their agents can easily find and consider the property on an equal access basis with well-defined policies and procedures in place.

If you wish to discuss this or any other residential real estate matter with us, we are happy to do so! Feel free to give us a call at 613-435-4692.  You can also follow other items of real estate interest on our website, blog and social media below.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com   http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/

https://twitter.com/OasisrealtyOTT   https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/

now at 1,500+ facebook “likes” and 12th year in business!

Why there are a lot fewer open houses on long weekends

Good time or bad time for an open house?
There is a very strong inherent bias against doing open houses on long weekends by many real estate professionals. The party line goes: “everyone wants to spend time with their families and won’t take the time to come to my open house”. You can also expect such sentiments to be heard from the “open houses don’t matter” crowd.  We believe that the reality is, many Realtors also prefer to have the weekend off (albeit probably well deserved!) with their family and thus pooh-pooh the notion of there being any value to holding an open house.  To be fair, many sellers may prefer to have family time, especially if their property has already been on the market for a while.

One can expect to see more open houses happening either the weekend before or the weekend after a long weekend. But does this mean one should avoid holding an open house on a long weekend?

In our opinion, absolutely not! If it fits the schedule and marketing plan for widest and timely exposure of a listing, there is absolutely nothing wrong with scheduling an Open House on a long weekend.  While it is true that many potential buyers will be spending time with their families or travelling, if a home purchase is a high priority and the property fits the buyer purchase criteria, we believe most will find a way to get to a pertinent open house.  In fact, the most highly motivated buyers may well be those that show up at these, though one should expect fewer visitors overall.

It is equally true that many buyers or out of town buyers may use the extra day of a long weekend to focus on their home search or at least include it in their plans.

Why there are even fewer open houses in 2017:
We have a strong market in 2017 with limited listing inventory. Consequently, things are selling faster and Realtors have to hold fewer open houses to showcase listings.

This can be a challenge for the casual “I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it” buyer or those not engaged with a Realtor, as quite often homes will be sold or conditionally sold, before the first open house even rolls around.

So how are we spending this long weekend?
A very recent listing is ideally suited for showcasing this Labour Day weekend, so we are scheduled Monday 2-4 PM at 5K Banner Rd. This is avery reasonable townhouse condo near Algonquin College that has been fully renovated. Check it out! http://oreb.mlxmatrix.com/matrix/shared/5Z7Hy8fgMh/5BANNERROAD

Buyer top: search for all Open Houses being held this weekend on MLS® at www.ottawarealestate.org ….although there are just over 100 to choose from this Labour Day.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
oasisrealty@rogers.com
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com  blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com
https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/
https://twitter.com/OasisrealtyOTT

11th year in business as a lower commission brokerage