I met Susie at my first brokerage. Young and smart—22 if that. She was hired to do admin support and later became a REALTOR® still living and working in Regina.

On Fridays, at the end of the day, she would group email the agents a list of weekend open houses and encourage us to support one another. One Friday, the enthusiastic finishing line of her email was, “have a great weekend, and let’s get out there and do some cooperation deals.

Susie is Chinese, her english is good, but this line was a little mixed up. I thought it was cute anyway, and I could tell it was delivered with a smile. It’s also one of those things that sticks in your head. Cooperation deals.

Imagine you got into work on a Monday morning, and the boss said, “we have an important project that needs to be delivered in the next two weeks.” Super, lets’ get at it! “Oh, and you’ll be working with Gregg.”

Ugg. Gregg hasn’t had an original thought since ’98, has worse breath than your cat and sleeps in his car at lunch. Painful. Same with Realtors. Every time I sell a house, I embark on a two-week project with another Realtor, and another Realtor embarks on one with me. So I better be easy to work with.

I work hard on relationships with my counterpart on the other side of the sale. They hold the key to me helping you get what you want. I don’t get access to the seller of a home when we make an offer, I get access to the Realtor, and she brings them the offer.

If I’m hard to work with, have tried to take advantage of her in the past, had sloppy paperwork, or was an all-around dinkus, she’ll consider it. Maybe encourage the sellers to wait for a better offer or counter at a higher number, hoping we go away and someone else writes an offer. Of course, on the other hand, if we worked together in the past and it was smooth sailing, she’ll try harder to get my offer signed.

The old-school days of hard negotiation and pounding desks are done. I’ve seen it over and over again. People do nice things for people they like (or at least think they do).

So let’s get out there and do some cooperation deals!

CB

What My Spotify Playlist Told Me About Marketing


Deacon Blues, Mr. Big Stuff, the Theme From the Rockford Files. A
ll songs from my Spotify playlist titled what could possibly go wrong? (purposely named in lower case to make it edgy, sigh).

Like about 100 million other people, I created a Spotify account and curated like a badass. One song led me to another, then another, and before I knew it—two years actually—there were over 500 songs.

As my personal Facebook account will expose, I’m a reluctant sharer. My last update was a “like” that I spent some time debating. But one cold night, after one cold beer (followed by the remaining cold beer), I decided the time had arrived to hit the toggle switch. Turn my private playlist public; invite the world in!

Then I realized my playlist was already public. It always had been. I rubbed my eyes more than once, trying to focus on the number 0 beside my followers. It took a while for me to accept the blow.

0 followers. That's what could possibly go wrong
0 followers. I guess that’s what could possibly go wrong.


Later that evening, possibly through a tear, I noticed a banner across the top of the app with some featured playlists. “This is Drake,” This is Post Malone,” “Cafe Montreal,” “Soft Tracks For Quiet Moments.” All had several million followers, and all were specific. Mine was as random as an orphan sock drawer.

What’s the point? Well, realtors are marketers. We market the homes we have for sale on behalf of our hard-working clients, but we also market our services to the public. The most successful Realtors do both well. If we can’t find new business, we’ll dry up.

This website, my website, was all written to be specific. I’m not trying to be everything to everyone, and some people will look at me and take a pass. That’s ok.

It’s my bet there are enough people out there that value good information, connection, honesty, respect and gratitude that I can run a successful business.

If you’re getting ready to buy or sell a home and find the information on my website helpful, I’d welcome the chance to join you on your mission.

Curtis

PS

I think I’ll pare my playlist down to about 20 songs with a girl’s name in the title. I’ll bet I can get a follower or two. As a matter of fact, here’s a track with a girl’s name in it from what could possible go wrong? 

YouTube player

You’re selling your house! You’re either pumped or feeling sick to your stomach. No worries, get these four things right (plus a bonus item at the end), and you’ll be selling like a pro!

Here they are in order of importance:

    1. Price it Right
    2. Clean it Up
    3. Offer a Competitive Commission
    4. Make it Easy to Show

 

Here’s the breakdown:

1. The Price is Right (or at least it better be)

You can’t sell a $100 bill for $110. You need to set a fair price for your home.

Pricing your home involves sitting down with your listing agent—me, I hope—and reviewing comparable listings. Comparables (or comps) are homes of similar size, condition, quality and area that have recently sold. You’ll take these numbers and add or subtract them to arrive at a list price for your home.

It’s tricky business, for sure, because you haven’t been inside the comparable listings. You don’t have a feel for what they were really like, and you don’t know the circumstances surrounding the sale. Were there competing offers? Were the sellers under duress? Did the buyer knowingly overpay because they were under pressure to buy? 

You have no way of knowing, so reason and good judgment are required when looking at the comps to determine your asking price. 

Remember, buyers looking at your home have seen others in the area in your price range. They’ll immediately know if you’re well priced based on homes they’ve already seen. Create a strong impression on buyers, and be rewarded with an offer close to your asking price. Turn the buyers off, and they move on. A price drop later on won’t usually bring them back.

2. Clean the Darn Thing Up

Swiffer the crap out of it.

You wouldn’t put your car on Marketplace without throwing the McDonald’s bags out of the back seat and wiping the dash, so why would you put your home up for sale and expect a great price if it’s a mess?

Buyers use all five senses when they’re shopping. House smells bad, dirty baseboards, broken light switch—it all makes buyers wonder; “if this is the best they can do when they have it up for sale, how well do they take care of it on a day-to-day basis.”

So, wash the windows, wipe out the cabinets, clean the fridge—you get the idea. 

Strangers will be looking in your closets, opening doors, strolling through your storage area and taking a peek in your pantry. Don’t give them anything to look at. You’re moving anyway, so rent a storage bin for the good stuff, take your old bowling trophies to the thrift shop and take the console T.V. to the dump. Buyers will show their appreciation by making a better offer, and your partner will show their appreciation by baking a cake. Or something like that.

3. Offer a Competitive Buyer’s Side Commission

Chum the water and let the sharks feed.

Here’s how REALTORS® get paid: sell a home. That’s the short answer, and it’s also the long answer—no steady paycheque. So make a dollar offer that grabs their attention.

Most home sales (90%+) involve two Realtors—the one that lists the home and the one working with a buyer that makes the offer. When you list your home, you pay a total commission and then split it, offering a portion to the Realtor that brings the buyer (writes an offer).

If the commission you offer to the buyer’s Realtor is lousy compared to similar homes for sale in your area, you won’t generate any excitement. Remember, Realtors have all the buyers. You’re trying to find a buyer.

For example, three homes are for sale on your street, and the others offer 2% to the buyer’s Realtor. You negotiated a lower commission and are offering 1%. At that rate, you can be sure Realtors aren’t going to push their clients in your direction. Now, we can’t make someone buy one home over another, but buyers are always looking for advice. “Which one do you think is a better house?”, “What did you think of that last house?” What would you like them to say? Good things about your house, of course!

You’re not going to get Realtors working hard for you if you offer a poor commission. You’ve put yourself at a disadvantage compared to your competition. Your competition is other homes in your area in the same price range.

4. Make Your Home Easy to Show

Let them know you’re open for business.

In today’s fast-paced world, buyers want to see homes on their schedule. It can be inconvenient for sellers, but you need to play the game.

Let’s say you get a showing request for later in the day, and I call you to confirm. You tell me you haven’t had a chance to clean up, it’s supper at 6 pm, and your husband’s got a sore tooth—ask them to come by tomorrow. They won’t. Buyers move it down or off the list. They make the assumption you aren’t very motivated to sell.

Every showing request is a potential winner. You never know where or when your buyer will appear. Make the atmosphere friendly for potential buyers and create an advantage for yourself.

Bonus!

Your Realtor needs to be as invested in this as you are.

You should interview your Realtor, lots of people don’t—you should. Your Realtor needs to communicate in a way you understand, be available at all times, take great pictures and provide a compelling write-up.

Does it all seem like a lot of work? It is, but if you do the work you’ll be rewarded with a better offer. It works that way.

Curtis

PS: A wise man and good friend named Bill Nasby introduced me to these ideas when I first started in real estate. Bill was a Realtor and, later in life, a real estate coach (don’t laugh, there’s a big industry in coaching Realtors).

His original list was “Price, Wages (buyer’s side commission) and Access.” I added “Clean it Up” to the list. You could skip the cleaning if you don’t care how much your home sells for 🙂

CB

It’s a little thing, but you’re trying to win at this.

When your new listing hits the market, somewhere on your property there will be a lockbox holding the key. Like trained search dogs, REALTORS® arriving to show your house sniff out the location. You should see us in action, it’s beautiful to watch. Once located, we head for the closest door and in.

So, let’s make sure the closest door is the one that impresses the most—usually the front door.

“But hey Curtis, we don’t use the front door, we always come in the side door.” That may be true, and the new owners will likely do the same thing, but the side (or back) door usually leads to a stairwell or cramped space. We don’t want buyers waiting while the person in front of them takes off their kicks.

Let’s bring ’em through the front door.

Curtis

People love a story.

I listed a home in Normanview for a friend of the family. Our families lived a few blocks apart and I played hockey with her son growing up. Everyone had long moved away, her husband had passed, but she remained steady in the house from the day it was built in 1974. They raised two boys in their house and made lifelong friends with the neighbours, both current and past. A few years back, after turning 70 something, it became clear it was time to move to a condo.

As you can imagine, this was an emotional time, 42 years in the same house. But on schedule, that spring, the sign went up. Her home was immaculate and we priced it well—within a week we had an offer.

When I met her to go over the offer her first question was, predictably, “how much?” The second question—“who are they.” I told her I had no idea. She replied “really?”

You see, the buyer’s agent had just fired me the offer in an email with the subject line “scanned from MFP07868497”. She didn’t bother with a follow up call either.

With the offer on the table, we could see there was a man’s name just above the line “buyer”, so we tried to guess what that person might be like. Is he young or old? With a name like Thomas, he could be either! I wonder if he has a family. I just checked Facebook and only one result showing he works at “retired”. His profile picture is a Rider logo—that’s something right? The offer was open until 10 pm.

So did the buyer’s agent do her job? She did her job, she just didn’t do it well.

I’ve learned over the years that sellers always want to know who’s trying to buy their house. They have fond memories, it’s part of their life, their story. They (usually) like the neighbours, and just about always want to see the house go into good hands. Years after the home is sold they slow down when they drive past. I’ve even seen sellers with multiple offers take less money because the agent with the higher offer acted like a putz.

Every single time I write an offer for one of my buyers, I phone the listing agent and tell them all about my wonderful clients, because I know the seller is going to ask. The listing agent appreciates it too, after all, they are hoping the sale comes together—it’s how they make a living.

People negotiate differently with people they like or at least think they like. When the sellers consider your offer they factor this in. Now when the counter comes back, it’s usually a little softer, or maybe no counter at all.

If you’re buying a house, ask your Realtor how they plan on selling you. Let’s get that offer accepted 🙂

CB

Just because the lender gives you a pile of money doesn’t mean you have to spend it all.

Recently a client (and friend!) sent me his pre-approval letter for $375,000—well done for a 30-year-old dude.

We’re looking at houses in the 300k range right now. He didn’t earn a $375,000 qualification by being careless with his money.

At 30 there’s still plenty of time to get everything he wants, for now, he’d be happy to keep a little walking-around money.

I’m not saying everyone should do that, just don’t venture out of your comfort zone.

Curtis

All buyers should understand Double-Ending. REALTORS® like it because they get paid more, but for you, it could be a disaster. 

Here’s a Common Scenario

You’ve been following the market online for a while and finally found a home that looks perfect for you. You took a drive past, and it’s everything you thought it would be. Priced right, good area—exactly what you’re looking for. What Now?

Well, because you aren’t working with a Realtor, you call the name on the sign. This person is known as the listing agent. You explain, excitedly, that you are considering making an offer. The listing agent jumps all over it and offers to show you the home. He tells you to bring a cheque.

You have a look, and the home doesn’t disappoint—it’s the one! You tell the Realtor (whom you’ve just met) you want to write an offer. That’s fine, right? He’s a Realtor, so why not let him write the offer for you?

Double-Ending Explained

First off, I’ll tell you how Realtors get paid. The short answer is to sell a home. This is also the long answer. We receive a commission on the successful sale of a home. Unless we work part-time at the Home Depot, we have no other income.

Further, the seller supplies the commission we earn—buyers don’t pay commission. The Realtor representing the buyer then gets paid a portion of the total commission offered by the seller. It’s usually a 50/50 split, so if the seller’s full commission is 4% of the sale price, 2% goes to the agent that brings the buyer (writes the offer), and 2% goes to the agent that listed the property. 

Most home sales in Regina (90% plus, I’d guess) involve two Realtors, one representing the buyer and the other the seller. From time to time, though, the listing agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. This is known as double-ending. Realtors like this because they can earn both sides of the commission split or “double” the amount of money.

Here’s the Problem With It

It’s a conflict of interest. The Realtor has “inside” information on both parties.

I guarantee the listing agent listens carefully to every sound that comes from your mouth. Clues about your financial ability, motivation and where your head is at.

The listing agent also has a relationship with the seller. He knows why the seller is moving and usually knows how much they’ll take for the home. He may even be good friends with the seller.

With This in Mind, Can You be Sure the Listing Agent is Acting in Your Best Interest? 

How do you know he didn’t overhear (or maybe you just told him) that you would pay $275,000 for the home but would like to offer $265,000 to see if the seller will accept it. When the counter comes back at $275,000, you’ll wonder if the Realtor sold you out.

Realtors follow rules (I must stress) to ensure this doesn’t happen and all parties are treated fairly. When a Realtor acts for the buyer and the seller in a transaction, they must not discuss money or motivation with either side.

This means that when you look to the listing agent for advice on how much to offer or inquire as to why the seller is moving, they have to close their mouth and tell you they can’t help you. You’re on your own to try and figure out how to proceed.

Doesn’t Seem Very Helpful, Does It. So What Should You Do?

The best solution is to have a different Realtor from another brokerage work on your behalf. They can serve you better by helping you come up with a strategy to get the property for a good price and make sure all the inspections are done correctly.

Since Realtors are free when you buy—we get paid by the seller—it doesn’t cost you any money to have better representation.

Having someone that doesn’t have an interest in the subject property working on your behalf ensures you get fair and impartial advice.

Curtis

You may have heard, or read, that you should turn the lights on before a showing. Maybe your REALTOR® even told you to. Well, it’s kind of right.

Your home is up for sale and you’ve worked hard to get ready for the big day. You’ve priced it fair, cleaned it up, and done some minor repairs.

Now the moment you’ve been waiting for—your first showing. Hit every switch, turn up every lamp and out the door.

Brother, you’ve got more lights on than the set of a feature film.

Go back to the day when you got your groove on at the club (maybe you still do). Last call came and you ordered two drinks. Before you knew it the lights came up and they were pointing you out the door. As you left you thought “ugh, this place looks like a dump with all the lights on”.

If you turn on all the lights in your home it can spoil the mood; it makes the imperfections jump out.

Instead, show your creative side! Maybe a lamp in the living room with the shade tilted, dim the kitchen lights just right. Go for the dinner party look, it’s way more appealing.

Buyers use all their senses when they look at homes—they usually know if they like it in the first few minutes. Don’t leave them blinded by the light.

 

YouTube player

 

Your home is up for sale and you have a viewing request, bingo! It’s showtime—Imma bake a cake.

Don’t bake a cake. It makes buyers think you’re up to something. If buyers think you’re trying to trick them they form a negative impression of you. They wonder what else you’re trying to hide.The best smell is no smell.

When you have a showing, just make sure you don’t cook a smelly meal, clean the cat litter, and take your smoke break outside.

Maybe open the doors and windows for a few hours and let the fresh air do its thing.

Don’t bake a cake.

Curtis

 

In Canada, you require a minimum of $220, $2.35, $240, $2.45 to buy an extra-large coffee at Tims and a minimum of 5% of the total purchase price available as a downpayment to buy a home. Check your bank account and if you have less than $5, buy yourself the coffee and your co-workers a box of donuts. Sadly, you won’t be buying a home.

In addition, you need the 5% downpayment saved and in a bank account, as a gift with documentation of such or in an RRSP. You can’t borrow the down payment.

Buyers with a down payment of less than 20% of the total purchase price must have their mortgage insured against default. Mortgage insurance protects the lender and not the borrower. It assures lenders that they will be covered if a borrower defaults on, or fails to make, their mortgage payments within 90 days of being due.

The lender is the one that actually buys the insurance for their benefit and then passes the cost on to the borrower. Bummer.

The insurer most people have heard of is The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The CMHC is a federal crown corporation and is the largest insurer of residential mortgages in Canada. Their rates are here and vary depending on the amount you put down. Borrowers also have the option to choose private insurers that include both Genworth Financial Canada and Canada Guarantee. All 3 are good choices but are all a little different. Have your lender discuss the benefits of each.

If you have more than 20% of the purchase price available as a down payment, congratulations! You manage your money well and will not need mortgage insurance. This is called a conventional mortgage. Some lenders will opt to insure the mortgage anyway but are not required by law to do so. The lenders will not typically pass this charge along to the borrower.

Saving for a down payment is a challenge, but with some good advice and some good habits, you can do it.

Cruise on over to the contact page and send me an email. I work with some excellent lenders and would be happy to connect you with the right people. You might be surprised as to how quickly you could become an owner!

Curtis