How the MLS® Works

The latest Realtor.ca Insights Report was just released & inspired the topic for today's post.


First, let’s start with some messages I’ve received recently:

Thought you'd send cheaper places, I see all these on realtor.ca


Where is the rest of the information about this house


Where are the photos?


Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts & questions, so let’s talk about how the MLS® works:


  • When a seller signs listing paperwork they can choose to be “exclusive” or on the MLS® - exclusive listings are NOT on the MLS®

  • MLS® listings are then uploaded to a data system operated by a real estate board – different boards use different data systems

  • Each real estate board then sends the listings to CREA (The Canadian Real Estate Association)

  • CREA owns the MLS® trademark logo & also administers & owns the mls.ca & realtor.ca websites for the public

  • Through data sharing agreements (DDFs), listings are then distributed by CREA to websites like mine, other 3rd party sites like Zolo & HouseSigma & of course, Realtor.ca

  • Bottom line is that if it’s an MLS® listing, then that listing is going to be on thousands of sites – YOU choose what site you’re going to look at it on

  • And the information is only as good as what was input into the data system in the first place – which means that if the listing agent didn’t include pictures in their submission, then there aren’t any available. Very rarely it means that there’s a glitch with the data transfer at the board level or at CREA & once that’s fixed, the pictures will be visible.

  • Why would an agent not include pictures? The most common reasons are that the property is tenanted & they haven’t allowed it, or it doesn’t “look” good in some way. No picture of the kitchen or bathrooms? They’re probably not renovated…

  • A few honourable mentions when it comes to “the information is only as good as what was input”:

    • We are limited to a list of specific key words when it comes to features & finishes of a property – for example, “granite” is a key word that’s available for countertops, but “quartz” isn’t. These key words are what allow a listing to be captured in a search

    • Not every field in the data submission form is mandatory – square footage & age of the property, to name a couple – which will make search results incomplete if you try searching by that criteria

    • In the “remarks” & “extras” sections of a listing we have free reign to write whatever we want

    • There are 2 “remarks” sections, 1 that the public can see & another that is only for agents

    • The data system software automatically capitalizes the first letter of each word – that’s not us, lol!

    • A human is inputting the listing data into the system, so mistakes do happen

 

So there you have it, a peek behind the curtain of how the MLS® works - from listing paperwork being signed, to the listing ending up in your inbox or on your screen each day! 


Until next time,







If you’re up for some additional reading, check out these links:

Breaking the month of November down in my Durham Housing ReportHERE


REALTOR.ca Insights Report – HERE

 

Tales from the Trenches : Theft



Seriously!


A colleague recently posted in our realtor group about something that happened to their client who just purchased their home this summer...


Someone stole their central air conditioning unit! Cut the wires & hauled it away from the side of their house!


And they don't know exactly when it happened, because who's checking the air conditioning unit outside once it's turned off for the season?! Not me, that's for sure!


The more you know, the more you can protect yourself - share what you know & help protect others too!

 

Here's what I learned from the 55 responses in that thread that made me think that this was a good PSA to share:


Their insurance company is asking for proof that there was an air conditioning unit in the first place - specifically service records & the purchase receipt. They've only lived there since the summer so they don't have those things & the sellers/previous owners probably don't either, because why would you keep them when you don't own the property any more?! The MLS®  listing & Home Inspection report both refer to there being a central air conditioning unit, but that doesn't seem to be enough "proof" for the insurance company in this particular case.


Apparently this is a fairly common occurrence in the US - they even make cages to put over the units that are then bolted to the cement slab. And we've all heard the stories about thefts at construction sites all over the province, but now they are becoming more prevalent in our developed residential neighbourhoods as well. In the course of this online thread there were incidences reported in a Hamilton neighbourhood this summer & in a "small Ontario town" this past winter. The original incident that prompted this post was in the Warden & St Clair area of Toronto, last week!


Building materials, copper wire, mechanical systems...everything is fair game these days! I even heard recently about all the (installed) plumbing being cut out of a vacant house, how crazy is that????


So what can we take away from this situation & others like it?


Check your property on a regular basis, take pictures of all your stuff, write down serial numbers, keep records of repairs & purchases, if you have the means, install cameras or monitoring systems.


If you're purchasing a home, it's a good practice to have pictures & serial numbers of big ticket items that are supposed to be included in the sale, in case the sellers decide to swap them out for something else - yes this does happen!


Put away your valuables for showings & open houses because yup, that can be a problem too! :(


If it feels like there's a new scam to worry about every day, you're not alone! And it can feel very heavy at times, as we add new things to the already long list of things we have to watch out for...All we can do is the best we can, with the information we've got, & try to stay focused on the good stuff!


Stay aware, stay safe & enjoy the ride my friends!


Until next time,




Analyzing an Investment Property

I'm keeping today's post short & sweet, but it couldn't be a more important message! 


Prices have come down since we hit the peak of the market earlier this year & when you're investing you want to take your advantages when & where you can get them. A "down" market is certainly one of those times. And on the face of it, some of the lower prices look very attractive, BUT now more than ever it's important to know your numbers!


This summer for example, a client of mine was looking for an investment property with very specific parameters & after each showing we stood at my car, with my laptop on the hood of it, & plugged the numbers into a spreadsheet I designed for him, to see if the numbers made sense - FOR HIM & what he was trying to accomplish. In the end, none of them did. And that was an important exercise because there was more than 1 occasion where he was ready to move forward on a property until we really broke down the numbers.


Analyzing an investment property is more than just the purchase price & interest rate.


The purchase itself would be the:


- Negotiated Price


- Deposit - essentially the downpayment on your downpayment, which is due when an agreement is accepted


- Downpayment - balance of the downpayment due at closing - a minimum on a rental would be 20%, but some lenders require more


- Closing Costs - aprox 2% of the purchase price which should cover Land Transfer & legal fees


- Mortgage - your terms & interest rate


Pretty standard, right? But here are some line items that are often overlooked or under estimated when doing an analysis, & should be considered before ever getting to the point of an Agreement of Purchase & Sale:


Insurance - insurance on a rental property will cost a little more than a regular residential policy & will have stipulations as to the kind of insurance your tenants are required to have, including liability coverage.


Repairs & Maintenance - a good rule of thumb is to account for 0.25% of the value of the property each year to address any repairs or maintenance that is required PLUS an allotment for capital costs that you would spread out over a period of time, depending on what they are. Need a new roof? You spread that cost out over the lifespan of that roof...


Vacancy Allowance - another good rule of thumb is to account for a 5% vacancy or credit loss in case you run into difficulty renting the property or a tenant not paying the rent.


Other Expenses could include: property management, snow removal, grass cutting, condo fees (if applicable), utilities if you're including them in the rent, water heater rental, property taxes etc...


What's the total income (actual or potential)? Rent, laundry, parking?


Important Consideration - Are you inheriting a tenant & the rent they are currently paying? Or are you able to set current market rent for a new tenant?


Quick & dirty calculations:


Revenue minus Vacancy Allowance = Net Revenue


Net Revenue minus Total Expenses = Net Income (NOI)


Now how does that Net Income (divided by 12) compare to your potential monthly mortgage payment?


You need to be brutally honest with yourself on every aspect of an investment like this because once you are a landlord, many aspects of your investment are out of your control.


I don't say this to scare you off, but to empower you to make the best decisions possible...and I'm not reinventing the wheel here either, google analyzing an investment property & there are 32M hits & many spreadsheets & calculators to choose from.  But they're only as good as the information that you put in them...


Until next time,