Finding Balance

Real Estate never sleeps...or is it that I never sleep since I've been in real estate, lol...not sure which it is! ;)

As I write this it's 1am, it's quiet and inspiration struck so here I sit, laptop on my lap in my favourite chair.

I put in a full day today but still worked this evening and even though I worked a full week I will also be working this weekend.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining and I'm doing it of my own free will but it's really hard to "turn it off"!  I get an idea and I have to go research it, I get a call or email and want to follow up on it right away and of course I'm always in the middle of reading something, industry publications, online forums for real estate, continuing education material etc and it's really easy to lose hours at a time!

Meanwhile we're running out of clean laundry, the dishes are piling up and I'm not fitting in my daily I'm on a quest to find a better balance in my life!

I find it amusing that I started to write this post 2 weeks ago and never finished it, lol....and it's 1:30am this time and in the past 2 weeks nothing has changed! Actually I think it's gotten worse, I'll confirm that with my family! ;)

I like to start things fresh on Mondays and that would be tomorrow/today and my goal for tomorrow/today (lol) is to work a reasonable number of hours, eat properly instead of junk on the run and to re-start my workout program (TurboFire!!) from the beginning.  Seems like a doable plan so we'll see how it goes...

Until Next Time…

Selling A Tenanted Property

This week I showed a home that was being used as a rental property that on paper and in the MLS  pictures looked very promising.

I arrived before my buyers and thought "uh oh" as I was struck by the lack of curb appeal for a home in this price range, in this neighbourhood....with pieces of wood in the driveway (it kind of reminded me of having a "car up on blocks" except the car wasn't there), lawn that was cut but not weedwacked so that it looked all scraggly etc. It was surrounded by homes that had good to great curb appeal so that made it's lack of it stand out even more.

Once we got into the home we quickly discovered that it was not what my buyers were looking for, the main floor was a little too small  and they didn't really like the layout but we did make the rounds of the whole house.

Laundry piled up in the laundry room, dirty toilet and dirty grout in the shower of the master ensuite, stains on the carpet, food bits all over the carpet in the basement...I had booked the appointment a day and a half in advance so it's not like we caught them off guard with a last minute showing!

I've shown a few rented properties and the majority of the time the homes are clean and show pride of "rentership" but sometimes they're an absolute disaster!  This one did not qualify as a disaster but knowing my buyers,  it had me kicking myself for not previewing it first and crossing it off the list so as not to waste their time!

Now in all fairness when I spoke to the agent after the showing he did let me know that the seller had plans to fix some of the issues once the tenants moved out at the end of the month but how many buyers are going to look at this property in the next month and cross it off their list based on the current first impression? It's an unfortunate situation for the seller!

My buyer brought up an excellent question when it comes to rented properties...what happens if you buy it and the tenants trash the place when they move out?

The answer to this is that the seller will most likely have insurance to take care of any damage but regardless there are a number of clauses/conditions we can insert into our offer to protect him as the buyer and if they are not met then he doesn't have to close the deal.

There are inspection clauses (in addition to the usual home inspection), seller representations/warranties, and maintenance clauses that specify the condition the home must be in upon completion (the closing date).

At the end of the day this was simply not the right home for my buyers but if it was, there are many ways I could protect their interests in this type of situation and help alleviate their concerns about buying a home that had been used a rental propety.

That's what I'm here for!

Until Next Time…

Open Houses and Photo ID

I recently hosted an open house for another agent and she requested that I not admit anyone without signing in and checking photo id.

The issue of requiring photo id has been discussed and is encouraged at my brokerage but it's not something that I've done so far.

I must admit that I was very uncomfortable with the idea because it feels a little heavy handed to me.  I dreaded this open house because of the "ick" factor of this one particular part and normally I LOVE doing open houses!

On the other hand I really do understand the need for it!  If I were the homeowner I know I'd feel more comfortable knowing that my agent was keeping a tight rein on who was going through my home!

Ultimately I'm responsible for the home for the 2 hour open house and if something were to happen then having a sign in sheet with accurate information on it is obviously what the police need to get to the bottom of the situation!

I expected visitors to be unhappy about it and some were, I expected that I wouldn't make any good contacts because we were starting from a place of distrust and I would be trying to make people do something they didn't want to do and I guess that remains to be seen...

My husband said that he wouldn't even bother to look at a house with that requirement just on principle and another visitor said I could check their ID as long as it wasn't recorded....sigh...

Overall it wasn't as bad as I thought and nobody walked away when they saw the sign, as a matter of fact it was probably the busiest open house I've hosted yet.

I'm curious to know what other people think about being required to show photo id and not being admitted without it.  Please take the time to comment, I'd love to hear different perspectives on this!

Until Next Time…

Hot Properties!

There's nothing more fun than holding an open house for a property that's well priced, well marketed and well presented! The energy is amazing!

Recently I hosted a double and it was so busy that people were lined up waiting for it to start!

I would say that this property offers a good lesson to homeowners and potential sellers on the value of making smart reno choices, keeping your home well maintained, and once on the market, ruthlessly clean and staged (in this case) just enough that it's easy to show but not difficult to live in.

For these sellers the hard work paid off (and make no mistake, preparing and having your home on the market is hard work)!  After less than a week they received an offer!

Some people believe that receivng an offer so quickly means that your Realtor underpriced your home.  While it's certainly possible, it's more likely that they simply did their job well!  Our job is to give price recommendations that are realistic and to market aggressively in order to get your home seen by as many people as possible! And remember too that it's a partnership and you have to do your share as well; this means make it easy for buyers to see your home, keep it clean etc...If all these things come together then your odds of receiving an offer quickly are greatly increased!

In a future post I'll talk about the importance of that 1st 2 weeks on the market, but that's it for now!

Until Next Time…

5 Things I've Learned From Showing Houses

1.  Lock boxes with letter codes should be outlawed....I can't work'em (at least not the 1st time and sometimes not the 10th ~sigh~) and they make me feel like a moron, lol!

2.  MLS photos and descriptions are designed to pique your interest and do not necessarily reflect the home in real life!

3.  #2 leads right into #3 which is preview as much as you can!  It's very difficult to determine things like how the floor plan flows etc., from pictures and you'll save your buyer some time...what looks good "on paper" or on the internet may not be suitable in the least!

4.  The GPS app on my Iphone is not necessarily that reliable!  If you like the scenic route then it's all good but the more direct route...not so much! :(

5. Sellers should really try to put their Buyers' hat on when they're either getting ready to go on the market or while they're there!  If you would get grossed out by a toilet that looks like it's never been cleaned EVER then my potential buyer(s) is probably going to feel the same way!  My hats off to my customer Marie who was a real trooper at one particular home that we looked at together!  The experience makes for a good story but not an's a shame too because on paper the house had all the right stuff but its condition was a total turn off!

So there you have it! Do you have any stories to share about looking at houses? I'd love to hear them!

Until Next Time…

Getting Involved In The Community

I'm super excited because I'm sponsoring my boys' softball team this year!!

The Durham East Softball Association is a terrific organization that I'm proud to be a part of and not just as a sponsor!  Our kids have played in the league since it started in 2006 and my husband is the new President of the Youth league while I'm going into my 4th season as President of the DESA Fun League (Adult league).

Being a volunteer can be very rewarding as well as very trying at times.  I try to stay focused on the rewarding part, lol!  I've met so many terrific people through this experience and I'm so glad I got involved!

We tend to live very over-scheduled lives these days and when we set our priorities it's hard to fit in extra stuff like getting involved in the community through volunteering.  I wish that more people could see what a difference a few hours and a few extra sets of hands can make to a community organization or at your children's school! I've seen so many great ideas get put on the back burner because there were just not enough people available to implement them!  Worse than that is when the volunteers that ARE making things happen get burnt out because there's not enough help!

It's funny how even things that benefit us directly in our own lives just don't make the cut! A few years ago I helped organize the Neighbourhood Watch in my immediate area and was shocked at what a hard sell it was to get people involved, we just barely squeaked by the criteria necessary to get the designation! I'm also saddened to know that the Block Parent program is no more due to a lack of volunteers!  Both of these initiatives are about keeping ourselves, our children and our property safe which are usually our top priorities, right?

In any event, off my soapbox and back to Opening Weekend for ball!

Saturday, was for the kids league, meet the coach, get your stuff and games start this week...I love watching my guys play, it's my favourite thing to do! 1st win in the books on Tuesday for Re/Max KellyBayne.Com! Go Team!

Sunday was our 1st game for the Adult league!  With just a few changes over the years our team has been together from the start!  Here's a picture of  "the Joiners" otherwise known as White Lightning in our stylin' new tye dye shirts! We're missing a couple of players in this shot so I'll post a new picture with everyone in it soon!

Unfortunately we lost our 1st game on Sunday...those darn Bow Sox! :( Not the way we'd hoped to kick off the season but there's always next week! Could this be the year we take the Montgomery Cup??!!! Stay tuned for that, lol......

Until Next Time…

Vanity Insanity!

I normally have pretty good luck with pictures, I smile and everything usually turns out ok!

This has NOT been the case with pictures for my promotional material! It is literally making me crazy! I have a healthy amount of vanity but I don't obsess about how I look...UNTIL NOW!

I recently had some new head-shots taken, the original ones my husband took for me (the chosen one is on my business card and on my FaceBook Like Page) is not a high enough resolution and doesn't print well...which is too bad because I like that picture! It was 1 of 2 acceptable (to me) shots out of 75!!!!!!!
Oh the Humanity!

Now I'm getting a wrap on the rear window of my vehicle and the obsessing continues! The lovely and patient Caitlin Cameron of CH Photography & Imaging took A LOT of pictures during our session! The critical self-talk goes something like this...I look too frumpy, my hair looks funny, the collar of my shirt is messed up, I wish I was wearing something different and WHAT is up with the dark circles under my eyes!!! Caitlin & PhotoShop came to the rescue on the dark circles luckily...MUST get more sleep!!!

I'm honestly not that comfortable with focusing so hard on this, it's making me feel ridiculous  but I can't seem to help myself! Particularly with the car wrap which will be highly visible!

Here is the final proof for my window wrap...soon to be seen at a Tim Horton's drive thru near you, lol...

I wanted a casual, friendly & approachable vibe instead of the "stiff" typical Realtor pose and I hope that that's what I've ended up with...I think it's more in tune with my personality.  I hope this works out because it's being installed today and I've got to live with it for the next year until my lease is up!!!

Now to focus on watching my P's&Q's while on the road! I want people to call me because they want to hire me, not because they want to complain about my driving, lol!!!!!

So tell me what you think...

Until Next Time…

5 Things I've Learned From Open Houses

Excuse the long absence I’ve been suffering from a little writer’s block!

I’ve been keeping myself super busy hosting open houses for the past month!  I love the research that goes into preparing for each one; what else is available in the neighbourhood (and previewing the competition whenever possible) what’s sold, comparable properties available in different neighbourhoods etc.

So far I’ve been in North Bowmanville, South Bowmanville, North Whitby & North Oshawa and it’s truly fascinating  learning all the nitty gritty details of each area!  The goal of course is to be able to answer questions from visitors and to be knowledgeable about the marketplace! So lesson #1 is know everything, lol!

This leads me to the 2nd thing I’ve learned which is to be a little more safety conscious!  An example would be the Open House I hosted yesterday!  In my quest to be as much of a know-it-all as possible I set out to investigate the actual age of the furnace.  The listing had it as “newer” and “upgraded” and I wanted to know what that actually meant as it’s something that I’m always asked!

So I’m down in the basement, can’t find the light in the furnace room although I can see the overhead fixtures ~sigh~…I’ve got my trusty flashlight and I’m sort of crawling around in my cute little Open House outfit and in walks a gentleman (into the furnace room!!) scaring me to death and potentially putting myself and the home at risk! I was cornered in a dark secluded space with no secondary exit, so bad on so many levels!   So lesson #2 is do not put the sign out front and unlock the door until I am prepared to greet visitors at the door!  Luckily in this case the gentleman was part of a couple and they turned out to be lovely people but it could just as easily have turned into a very bad situation!

Lesson #3 is really just an observation…other drivers get REALLY mad if you try to pull over to put a directional sign at the corner of a busy intersection!!!

Lesson #4 is proofread your promotional material and then proofread it AGAIN before you send it to the printer’s!  I did up beautiful feature sheets for yesterday’s property but left off the asking price….then had to figure out how to get it on there using my own printer without reprinting everything entirely!

Another example is a short informational video I did on YouTube for the 1st time to promote an Open House; everything turned out great except the map I attached was for Paris, France!  How that happened is beyond me, lol, but there was no way to edit the video and by the time I figured out the error there was no time to make a new video!

Here’s a link for your viewing pleasure:

Lesson #5 is I LOVE OPEN HOUSES!!! I love talking to people, I love being prepared with the right information and you can bet that lessons 2 & 4 will be heeded for next time!

I love my job and I can’t wait for next weekend!
Got an Open House story? Please share it!

Until Next Time…

From Drab To Fab!

After several years of working from home I decided it would be a nice change of pace to take an office...

For those who know me well it will come as no surprise that the first order of business was a little makeover!  Picture me rubbing my hands together and squealing "Project!!" (a la Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, lol)

The lovely green faux finished paint job and flowered border had to go and unfortunately I only remembered to snap a picture after the top layer of the flower border was pulled off...


So I lined up some good friends (who I bribed with the promise of dinner when we were done) and we all met up at the office after it closed for the day! Fast forward through some pesky details like setting off the alarm, a slight problem I created with the phone system and my broker/owners having to come to my rescue, lol and straight to a picture of us about halfway done...

During (with the lovely Karen, Deb and April):

And finally the beauty shot......drum roll, please!

 My New Digs!

It looks even better in person so stop in and say hi! :)

Until Next Time…

Dress for Success!

There are 3 major factors in selling a home; location, price and condition.  Condition is really the only one that a seller can influence! Dress your home for success and you're maximizing its saleability which in turn could translate into a quicker sale and higher selling price.

I recently previewed 4 homes, 3 of which were staged to varying degrees and 1 that was not.  All were clean and appeared to be well maintained but I must confess that the unstaged home was a bit of a shock to the system! They were all comparable properties but I might leave it off the list when working with a client because it doesn't show as well...who know?

Now some of you may be thinking that staging is just fluff, that home buyers are buying the house and not the furniture and accessories; but home staging or the lack thereof, can at best, invoke powerful emotions in a potential buyer or at worst, disinterest!  What are the emotions you want buyers to feel when they walk into your home?

With so much television programming today dedicated to decorating, renovating and preparing a home to sell that walking into a home that's not staged can be a big disappointment!  This type of programming has raised the bar and buyers are looking to be wowed!

I really like this quote... "the cost to stage your home will be considerably less than your first price reduction".

I'd love to hear some other opinions on home staging, your personal experience, both good and bad...whatever ya got, please share it! :)

Until Next Time…

Finding Childcare in Your New Neighbourhood

When I first looked for childcare many moons ago, my options were newspaper ads and postings left at the local grocery store.  Life was so hard before the internet, lol!

If you've moved into a new neighbourhood and need to find childcare, the best place to start is with your local elementary school.  They will be able to tell you what the school zone boundaries are to ensure that when you are calling local home daycares and daycare centres that they are within those boundaries or service that school through private transportation.

Once you know your boundaries it's time to contact the local childcare facilities.  If you're looking for centre-based care it's as easy as a google search but if you're looking for home daycare it can often be more difficult to find unless they are all grouped together (see below).

Here are a few resources to get you started in the Durham Region:

  • Your local elementary school may have what is sometimes referred to as a "babysitting" list or a bulletin board where local providers can post their contact information.

  • Of course there's always and  and nothing beats a personal recommendation from a friend!

Until Next Time…
Kelly  is a free-to-search online directory of  local childcare providers, centres and nannies  is a free-to-search online directory of local childcare providers, centres and nannies

Re/Max First Time Buyer's Report 2011

Here's a carrying cost table to go along with the First Time Buyer's Report

You can find the full report here:  Re/Max First Time Buyer's Report

Obviously we're talking averages here for the GTA, to find out the specifics for the Durham region all you have to do is get in touch!

Five Per Cent Amount Monthly Income 
Market Average Price  Downpayment Financed Carrying Costs Required
Greater Vancouver $780,819 $39,041 $741,778 $3,479 $130,460
Victoria $489,113 $24,456 $464,657 $2,179 $81,722
Kelowna** $390,462 $19,523 $370,939 $1,740 $65,239
Edmonton $313,242 $15,662 $297,580 $1,396 $52,337
Calgary Metro** $410,664 $20,533 $390,131 $1,830 $68,614
Regina $266,701 $13,335 $253,366 $1,188 $44,561
Saskatoon $292,463 $14,623 $277,840 $1,303 $48,865
Winnipeg $228,822 $11,441 $217,381 $1,020 $38,232
Ottawa $334,357 $16,718 $317,639 $1,490 $55,865
Greater Toronto** $442,978 $22,149 $420,829 $1,974 $74,013
Hamilton-Burlington $329,305 $16,465 $312,840 $1,467 $55,021
Kitchener-Waterloo** $283,844 $14,192 $269,652 $1,265 $47,425
London-St. Thomas** $226,709 $11,335 $215,374 $1,010 $37,879
Québec City** $239,329 $11,966 $227,363 $1,066 $39,987
Island of Montréal** $354,549 $17,727 $336,822 $1,580 $59,238
Moncton $153,028 $7,651 $145,377 $682 $25,568
Halifax-Dartmouth $257,355 $12,868 $244,487 $1,147 $42,999
PEI $142,218 $7,111 $135,107 $634 $23,762
St. John's** $255,512 $12,776 $242,736 $1,138 $42,691
*Represents Gross Debt Ratio of 32 per cent, 5-year closed fixed-rate mortgage at 3.89 per cent, and a 30-year
  amortization period based on February  2011 year-to-date average price.  Income required does not take into 
  account property tax, heat or mortgage insurance.
Carrying Costs and Income Data Calculated by: Miles Kulik, Verico MHC Mortgage Services
Average Price Source: Canadian Real Estate Association, Local Real Estate Boards**

What Is A Buyer's Agent?

I found a great blog post on this topic and I just had to share....

This was originally posted by Alexandra Hunter in 2009 but her Real Estate blog  Ottawa Virgin Home Buyers   appears to have been abandoned....


Did you know all Realtors work on behalf of the seller of a home and not the buyer?

Did you know that by law, all Ontario Realtors are obligated to work in the best interest of their clients. This means that the Real Estate Agent showing you the beautiful home, listening to you talk about arranging your furniture, talking about financial details - is actually working for the Seller of that home.

Canadians now have two choices: customer relationship or client relationship.

A customer service agreement is a disclosure form that states that the Realtor is NOT working for you as a buyer, but is providing customer service (fair and honest treatment, factual information about the property that is not visibly evident and to answer any questions you ask about the condition of the property) to you.

As a customer you are virtually unrepresented and in the largest transaction you may ever make.

Why not use a Realtor?

On the other hand, Buyer Representation Agreements state that the Realtor is working for you and that you are bound to that Realtor for the term of the agreement with a holdover period.

In this case, your Realtor is bound to you with fiduciary duties, (loyalty, obedience, full disclosure, duty to use skill, care and diligence, duty to account for all monies) and protects your information. A big thing for me is that it also allows the Realtor to share her expert opinions, giving you full advantage of their knowledge and expertise.

There is nothing in the Buyer Representation Agreement that states that you have to buy anything. It only states that if you do that you will use this particular Realtor and that they will be compensated for the service provided.

The best part is that there is no fee to the Buyer client. Instead the Realtor gets paid by the seller’s agent, just the way it has always been. Yes, that’s right, all that hard work and we work for you for FREE!

How do you become a client? It’s easy—home buyers sign an exclusive Buyer’s Representation Agreement with a Realtor. Usually, the party agrees that they will work together for a specified period of time and within that time the Realtor agrees to represent that Buyer to the best of their ability! Why not use a Realtor?

What Makes A Great Neighbourhood?

In my teen years I lived in the Beaches area of Toronto, now that was a neighbourhood!  Maybe it was the stage I was at in my life with lots of time on my hands, little responsibility and having to walk everywhere but I felt a part of the neighbourhood, I knew all the streets, the stores etc…I have great memories of the years I lived there!

When my (now)husband and I started living together we moved around a lot to different areas of Toronto before moving out to “the burbs” and in all those places I’ve never felt that same connection to a neighbourhood.  Not that I particularly noticed at the time because I was too busy getting back and forth to work, visiting friends who lived in other parts of the city, starting a family etc.

Now here in the “burbs” we’ve lived in the same house for almost 12yrs which is the longest by far that I’ve lived anywhere in my entire life!  The town we live in is made up of a series of subdivisions and a main “4 corners” of stores.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with where I live but I wouldn’t call it a neighbourhood….

Does the neighbourhood nirvana of my youth even exist anymore?  Does it only exist on television? Has it changed from” I love my neighbourhood” to “I love my street”? Or” I love my house” and what’s outside of its 4 walls doesn’t even matter? Personally, I fall in the category of” I love my house”….

Now we all know the real estate mantra of Location, Location, Location but there are great locations all over the town I live in, but the question remains the same! What makes a great neighbourhood?

As I ponder this question, another one occurs to me.  Do we still look for a sense of community in where we live and if not, where do we seek that out? Is it in the organizations we belong to, places of worship or our circle of friends? Do we even still care about a sense of community at all? Perhaps that is a whole new blog topic to explore….

So back to the topic at hand…I pose the following questions to you!

Do YOU love your neighbourhood? Why?

Do you aspire to live in a different neighbourhood and for what reason? Are the houses nicer there or does it have something else (other than the house itself) to offer that you don’t have where you are now?

Where do you look for “community” or is that even on your radar screen?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until Next Time…