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 

buyer tips for tough 2019 seller’s market

With listing inventory at millennium lows (-25.3% vs 2017 and -42.5% below 2016 levels at year end 2018) it is more important than ever for Ottawa buyers to have a strong team in place and a plan for success in 2019.

Have an updated plan:
Make sure you have a plan and update it, if one is up to date with everyone on your buying team then a purchase will definitely go more smoothly with fewer surprises:
Here are just a few things to do to be ready for that dream home:
If you have been looking for a home for a while, it is also a good idea to revisit and update your plan.
-check with your mortgage broker to make sure there is no change in your prequalification level or mortgage rate and see if you can get a rate hold guarantee
-review with your mortgage broker whether a fixed or variable rate is best for you.  70% of mortgages are still fixed rate but variable has been most advantageous over the long run.  Understand the pros and cons for each and plan based on what works for your circumstances.
-speak with your lawyers office and make sure you are up to date on all fees, and other disbursements the lawyer will make on your behalf, including land transfer tax (LTT), title insurance, mortgage insurance (if less than 20% down)
-check with your insurance broker, so you know what information they will require to provide appropriate insurance coverage and if there are any potential issues with a  property under consideration.

Price range:
If you have not been successful in finding an appropriate property, do you need to bump your price search range up to a higher level?

Focus on specific housing type:
Have you evaluated all options in potential housing and narrowed down your criteria to those that suit best?  There is an old saying that home buying is as much a matter of elimination as it is of selection and this is quite true.  The more one can focus on the type of house they are looking for within their financial plan, the better

Geography:
-do you need to add to or subtract from your geographical area of search?  Again, the more focused one is on a particular area or region, the easier it is to stay on top of new listings.

Are partners on the same page?
Being one the same page with a spouse or partner is critical in a successful home purchase.  If there are differences of opinion, try to get these ironed out before you start seeing homes and making offers.  If priorities are too far apart, getting a successful deal done will be painful.

Do you have your buying team in place and up to date?
Do you have a mortgage broker? Realtor? Lawyer? Inspectors? Does your financial planner need to be in the loop?  Are they all available right now if your dream home gets listed tomorrow?

How are you funding the down payment and deposit?
First time buyers will want to review this, especially if these funds are coming from an RSP or TFSA.  Typical deposit on a deal is about 1% of purchase, so $3,000-$5,000 paid at time of sales agreement for the average priced property.  Buyers may wish to offer more though, if they feel it adds strength to your offer, particularly in potential multiple offer situations.

Builder new home deposits are much higher, generally in the 10% of purchase price range, although buyers will have about 60 days to provide these funds in installment payments.

New construction vs resale:
If you are considering a new construction purchase, please make sure your Realtor knows, as they can help immensely in co-ordinating visits and providing advice on lot selection, features, upgrades and builder recommendations.  Realtors are involved in 85-90% of resale transactions but probably only 25%-30% (or less) of new construction transactions, so many of these buyers are purchasing without anyone directly representing them.  (…kind of like going to court without a lawyer…)

Multiple offers and bully offers?
Have a strategy for dealing with multiple offers or “bully” offers.

With our low listing inventory environment, these types of situations occur more frequently, especially for those shopping in the $250-$500K range.  Understanding how these work and determining if and how you will participate, is good to discuss in advance.

Be an ‘active” buyer:
-keep an eye out for new For Sale signs in your area of interest.  Especially look for those that say “coming soon…” or “Exclusive Listing” as these will not immediately appear on MLS® and may even be sold prior to an MLS® public listing being posted. Give your realtor the name of the listing agent and the address of the property and they can follow up for you and get you in to see the property.
Ditto, watch for online postings in facebook groups or kijiji or other online real estate sites that may show listings that have not yet made it to MLS®.  Some buyers and agents are advertising future availability, too and while these can be tricky and not that often successful, they may well could be an opportunity.

Be aggressive and decisive: don’t fret overpaying
Don’t wait for an open house, try to get in to see a newly listed property as soon as possible.
If you have a good market knowledge and see a property that ticks all your boxes, be ready to make a decision and go for it.  Many buyers can be a little nervous about overpaying but remember that if our upward market continues, this property is likely to be worth $20-$30K more next year and you want to get in to the market as soon as possible.  Your Realtor will help guide you in appropriate pricing strategy.

2019 is expected to be another challenging year for buyers, so have a good plan and work closely with your Realtor for success this year.  If you do not already have a Realtor, we strongly suggest you engage one now to improve your chances in finding and securing your dream property this year.

We would be happy to discuss if our approach and philosophy is appropriate for you, if you would like to discuss, please give us a call at 613-435-4692 or check us out at oasisrealtyottawa.com or our facebook or twitter platforms @oasisrealtyOTT or https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker Oasis Realty Brokerage
oasisrealtyottawa.com

Selling next spring? ….why time may be running out!

You’re kidding me right? We are not even at the end of August, yet “time may be running out”.

Well, think about it, there are only a few weeks of summer remaining (sorry!)  with weather warm enough to do a lot of outdoor prep that you will not have time to do in the early spring, because of cold or damp weather. This is true for anyone who may be contemplating a sale anytime between November and May but especially so for military personnel that are expecting a “posting notice” out of Ottawa which means an April listing.

Here are some sample projects that will help you get ready for a spring sale now:

Any outdoor painting, caulking, staining, sealing, parging or other concrete repair

Repair or replace any tired fencing or decking.

Thin out, weed and mulch gardens and plant new spring bulbs for colour.

Trim hedges, shrubs and replace any plants, trees or sod affected by bugs or heat.

Aerate, top dress and overseed the lawn and fertilize, so it will look great next spring. Hire a professional lawn service company or landscaping company if your lawn and gardens are in really poor condition.

Hint: extra watering in the fall right up to the time the snow flies is a great way to have lawns, trees, shrubbery and gardens look good early in the spring.

Clean out the eavestroughs once all the leaves are down this fall.

Get the windows cleaned inside and out.

De-clutter garage, garden shed and remove any extraneous items or materials from outside spaces.

Replace any tired outdoor furniture or accessories.

Dig out your home inspection manual and see if there are any outstanding items on the list that have not been completed.

Hint: consider a pre-listing home inspection right now! This may uncover things that need to be addressed and it may save a sale later. Many inspection items are a lot less expensive to fix before listing than after. A general home inspection may also conclude that a roofer, HVAC, foundation, WETT or other household system may require professional servicing or further inspection.  Better to find it now than later!

If there is a swimming pool, have it professionally closed and inspected this fall and keep copies of work orders, invoices and any repairs or quotes.

Get your driveway sealed, so it will look well maintained come spring.

You could also take some photos of the exterior of the house and yard, garden, shrubs, trees etc.  right now, as they probably look better right now than any time until early May.  Having some nice color photos to use for online in in home presentation during listings, is a great tool and allows prospective buyers to see the summer state of the exterior landscaping or other features.

This is by no means a complete list and you have not even started inside yet! If you would like to discuss what you need to do to be 100% “listing ready” for a spring or winter sale, by all means give us a call, if you are not already working with another Realtor.

 

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

A lower commission brokerage

Fed/Brookfield IRP contract cuts Realtor commission to 3.7%

for-sale…does this cause a risk to those selling to relocate?

The federal government is cutting commission rates for Realtor services on the National Integrated Relocation contract (IRP) and Ontario Realtors will share a total of 3.7% for listing and selling a relocating government employee’s home, as of January 1, 2017. (down from the previous rate of 4.1%)

While some will cheer the move, it may not be quite so popular with relocating employees if they see a decrease in service levels or lower buyer agent interest in their listings, due to the lower compensation offered.

What are typical real estate commissions?
In Ottawa, typical commissions remain around 5%* with 2.5% going to the listing sales person and brokerage and 2.5% going to the agent and brokerage that represent the buyer. Commissions are highly competitive and are open to negotiation but most typical fees will be in this general area.* commissions are negotiable and can vary by the individual salesperson or broker and many do charge less, including Oasis Realty.

How does it work with the Federal relocation contract?
Brookfield Relocation Services (affiliated with the parent company of Royal Lepage real estate) manages the federal government Integrated Relocation Program (IRP) nationally and has done for many years. Just a few years ago, this program paid Ottawa Realtors 5% with the usual 2.5%/2.5% split.  On the last contract this dropped to 4.1%, with listing and buyer agents each receiving 2.05% over the last few years. (a decrease of 18%)

With the new fee/compensation structure coming January 1st at 3.7%, the listing representative and buyer representative will each receive 1.85%, if the 50/50 split continues (a further decrease of 9.7%)

Toronto is not Ontario and real estate is “local”:
We are not sure how these fees are established or negotiated but we strongly believe that “one size does not fit all” in real estate fees and by having one set fee for all of Ontario, this does not take in to account the vast regional and local differences. Toronto is its own market, as is Ottawa.  Smaller but important centres for Federal employees such as Trenton, Petawawa etc. may have an even bigger problem if their local prices and volume of transactions normally requires 6% fees to support.

While Toronto prices have continued on the elevator ride up to atmospheric levels, our prices in Ottawa have certainly not followed suit and even this year with solid unit sales our average prices continue to be pretty flat and at or below inflation level. So Realtors are not making up the difference in the average price of houses being sold here, as they might be in Toronto.

What risks might a relocating government seller be facing?
1) fewer Realtors may be interested in listing properties on the program, given the compensation level.
2) Realtors may also ask employees to “top up” the government paid fees, so they can achieve their usual %. This happens regularly today with those selling or buying a private listing or FSBO where a significantly lower commission rate is offered to a buyer representative.  The standard Buyer Representation Agreement signed by most buyers provides for the buyer paying incremental Realtor commission if the seller does not pay an agreed upon fee level ie 2.5%.
3) If one believes that Realtors are significantly “coin operated” then sellers may also see less interest from buyer agents in their properties, as those representatives may favour properties where the buyer representative commission is more robust. Getting paid 27.7% more on property “B” than government listed property “A” is a pretty compelling advantage.  This amounts to about $2,600 on the average $400K sale or purchase.
4) Listing agents will certainly have less budget monies for advertising and other costs to support their government listings when one considers they are also splitting commissions with their brokerage.
5) properties may take longer to sell if satisfactory “full commission” alternatives are available.

Bottom line:
Government employee sales will continue but there may be a few service wrinkles given the now “discount” fees being paid by the Federal government.

This commission change was hotly debated on a Realtor forum late in 2016, before the Board moderator cut off discussion on the issue, so there are clearly many who feel that this lower rate combined with their brokerage splits, dues/fees and other expenses makes this business less viable for them.

 

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692 or mobile 613-371-9691
oasisrealty@rogers.com oasisrealtyottawa.com

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