Bathrooms & Closets of Luxury Properties

Posted on Apr 7, 2016 by Nicole Kreutzberg

As a Realtor in the Greater Toronto Area, I have the privilege to be privy to some of the most luxurious homes on the market for sale.  I get to peak.

 

I am often marveled by the sheer opulence and wealth of the homes themselves.  As I examine the craftsmanship, the detail and the sheer size of individual rooms themselves, I close my eyes and sigh that my Powerball hasn't come in.  Until that day arrives,  I settle with the perk of being allowed to show, sell and walk through some of the most gorgeous homes that the average person only gets to drive by.  

 

I thought I'd let you have a look at what a few bathrooms and closets in the $2 million to $7 million Homes for Sale look like. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How is that for for beauty?  There's smaller apartments in NYC that rent for thousands of dollars and these, well, they're just bathrooms.  Now I don't know about you, but I'd certainly spend alot of time living in here alone; never mind the rest of the house.

 

If you're like me, closets are a Big Deal.  I admit I have somewhat of a shoe fetish, okay, purses too, and am often enamored of a well put togethor walk in, but these next few closets, well, they're the dream closets I didn't even know I wanted, until now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It would certainly be one hell of a shopping spree to fill these beauties wouldn't it?  One day my Black Amex will arrive.  Surely it will.

 

Finally, life wouldn't be complete without this;

 

 

Because if you're going to dream big, there'd better be wine!

 

These homes are all currently on the Market in the GTA ranging from $2 000 000.00 to $7 000 000.00 and I can certainly state with confidence that the remainder of the rooms in each of these properties are as beautiful and unreal as their bathrooms and closets.  

 

If you'd like to make an appointment, let me know; Pre Qualified Buyers can book showings on these properties by calling me direct at 416-388-7384 or email nicole@gtalisted.com.  As a proud Realtor of Sutton West Realty, I'd be happy serve.

 

Nicole Kreutzberg

 

Sutton West Realty Inc.,Brokerage
5415 Dundas St W, Ste 300, To Ont M9B 1B5
Office: 416-236-6000

 

 

This blog is the writers personal opinion and is not written to take place of legal, financial or other advice.  Be further noted that it is also not intended to solicit Buyers or Clients already under Agency Agreement or Contact.

 

Toronto Vs. Mississauga -- Apples to Apples

Posted on Mar 31, 2016 by Nicole Kreutzberg

According to recent statistics, the average price of the Canadian home is now a whopping $640 000.00  -- bordering if not surpassing on the unaffordable for the average family; yet the markets remain hot, hot, hot.

 

In the GTA, clients are often adamant on location, location, location - never considering what their dollar will get them if they peak outside the box for just a moment.  Often, I've client's give me amazing wish lists, price ceiling and they finish their dreams with one word: Toronto, not considering the possibilities of a Mississauga home or any where else for that matter.

 

Apples to Apples. 

Let's compare.  I've picked 2 properties in the same price category (under $640k) both a minimum 3 bedroom, with drive and both within 10 minutes of a Go Station (easy downtown access) and both within  about 15 minutes of each other.

 

First Property:

Location:  Alderwood, Toronto

Cost; $639 900.00

Type: Semi Detached, 2 Story

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 3

Basement: Finished

Drive: Private

Lot Size; 25 x 120

Taxes: $2942

 

Down payment:

$127 980.00  -- 20% to avoid CMHC Mtg Insurance OR

If you choose to only put down 5% the down payment in conjunction with new legislative requirements will be: $38 990.00 - which is 5% of the 1st $500 000.00 and 10% of the balance over $500 000.00

 

Second Property:

Location: Cooksville, Mississauga

Cost: $614 900.00

Type: Semi Detached, 2 Story

Bedrooms: 3 + 1

Bathrooms: 3

Basement: Finished with Kitchen and Separate Entrance

Drive; Private

Lot Size: 30 x 120

Taxes: $3636

 

Down payment:

$122 980.00 -- 20% to avoid CMHC Mtg Insurance OR

If you choose to only put down 5% the down payment in conjunction with new legislative requirements will be; $36 490.00 - which is 5 % of the 1st $500 000.00 and 10% of the balance over $500 000.00.

 

Estimated Closing Costs on Both Properties:

 

Toronto Home

Ontario Land Transfer Tax: $9273.00

Toronto Land Transfer Tax: $8523.00

Legal Fee's & Disbursements: $6000.00 (roughly)

 

Needed to close:  $23 796 -- plus your Down Payment

 

Mississauga Home

Ontario Land Transfer Tax: $9353.00

Legal Fee's & Disbursements $6000.00 (roughly)

 

Needed to close: $15 353 -- plus your Down Payment

 

Is there a difference?  The finances required to close a Toronto Property vs. a Mississauga Property is a cost differential of $8443.00.  Does that make a difference to you?  For most, $8443.00 is a lot of money and if you take into account that these properties are both within 10 minutes of a Go Train station and both within 15 minutes of each other, it can be a huge savings.  

 

Yes location makes a difference, I absolutely agree.  The wrong street, the wrong block, the wrong area -- all effect the value of a home but Apples to Apples, Buyers should always consider all of their options before they close their minds because one street, one block or one City abutting another, can result in a huge savings.  

 

My goal, as a Realtor, is to get you the MOST amount of home for your money with as many, if not all aspects of your 'Wants' and 'Needs', certain conditions apply of course as I am not a magician, all I ask is that you open your mind to the possibility that in the GTA, having the word 'Toronto' in your home address, also comes with a price which can mean the difference between entering the market now or waiting even longer.  

 

As always, I am here to serve.  

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me any time via email: nicole@gtalisted.com or phone/text: 416-388-7384 and I'll be happy to chat with you.  

 

As of March 31, 2016 both of these properties remain actively on the market and I am available to show these properties to Prospective Buyers at any time.  Please do not hesitate to contact me to schedule an appointment.

 

Nicole Kreutzberg

Realtor

Sutton West Realty Inc,

Email: nicole@gtalisted.com

Website; www.gtalisted.com

Phone; 416-388-7384

 

The information written on this blog is meant for explanatory and illustrative purposes only and are rough estimations not necessarily reflective of actual costs which are all subject to factors not necessarily reflected here.  This Blog is also not meant to solicit Buyers or Persons already under contract.

 
 

Don't Let Your Castle Be Disrespected

Posted on Oct 15, 2015 by Nicole Kreutzberg

On my daily trip to the dog park with my crazy Mexican Mutt rescue (oh he's a wild one!) I was listening to a fellow Dog Owner/Lover lament about real estate agents.  Obviously when people talk about agents, I'm curious and interested, so I put on my listening ears.  

At the park, I'm simply, 'Nicole, Barney Rubble's Human' (Barney is my dog).  I don't advertise in casual conversation while playing with my dog what I do, it feels to pushy in such a playful setting.  

Mr. L (I'll call him), an owner (of a gorgeous Doberman, I might add) was talking about agents being 'assholes', 'liars' and out for themselves and a buck.  He was going on about meeting with 2 different agents recently and how ignorant they were, disrespectful and rude.  I was engaged now.  How on earth could 2 different agents be so horrific to the same person?  I was starting to wonder if it was him.  What did he bring to the table when meeting these agents?  After gently stating that I am a Realtor, I apologized on behalf of my profession (which I often do - Thanks Bad Agents - because our job is not hard enough that I have to apologize for strangers as well!) and asked what his purpose in meeting the Agents was.  Selling.

 

Mr. L lives in a home that he would like to sell and move out of the city.  To be more specific he's lived in the house, on his own, with his dog for several years.

 In fact, he bought out his sister after his parents passed on and they were original owners.  Gently, I offered that if he was interested, I would love to come take a look at his home,  assess its value and we could discuss it from there.  No strings, no obligations,  no contracts - just a visit and a conversation.  I gave him my card and I let it go.  A few days later he called.

 I of course did my research: current prices in the area, for sales, recently solds and had them all printed up.  I ran his property through land titles, checked its size, etc etc - all things a Realtor should do before showing up to have a conversation about a home for potential sale.

 

 I arrived on a nice sunny afternoon, was greeted quite enthusiastically by the dog and upon first glance, I knew what happened.  Single man, who's been on his own for a long time, took over the family home after years away.  There was a lot of stuff. A lot.  Way too much for one person to handle, organize and keep up with.  I wouldn't exactly say it was a hording situation, but it was close and it was over whelming.  The agents who came before me, threw down a price, called the home disgusting, a mess, that he'd be lucky to get out.  I cringed when Mr. L told me all this.

 

Certainly there were piles of boxes, a lot of 'stuff', rooms that were not really easily accessed but this was still HIS HOME.  His castle.  His respite and these were all of his things.  Who is anyone to disrespect that?  I was honest, in a nice way.  I told him that in order to sell his home it would take a lot of elbow grease on his part in order to achieve maximum value.  That who ever bought it would likely renovate (the entire home was original) and that it would more than likely be a renovator or contractor who purchased.  

I discussed with him the ranges in price for his area, the process of selling and really let him develop the

timeline.  It would obviously not be ready in a week or two - but as an Agent - that is really NOT for me to determine - it's up to my Seller. 

 

Over the next month he worked diligently.  Hard.  So hard.  I stopped by on a regular basis to chat, have a coffee, calm him down, cheer him on, bring him boxes, advise him on what ever he had questions about.  I found quotes from garbage removal people, sourced out places for donated items, talked about how he could

pare down items he had 3, 4 or 5 of (like full service china sets, of which he had 4).  It was a lot of talking, coaxing, cheering, calming down and simply being there and listening.

 

     The day he called to tell me it was ready, I was truly and utterly excited as it had been about a week since I had seen it last and for him to say the words 'ready' - I knew he was both exhausted and serious.  I walked into an entirely new home.  Well, not new, but WoW!  I couldn't hide my awe, my amazement, my happiness for him that he was able to go through so much of what he owned and really pare it down.  The home sparkled, it shone and it was more than presentable.  I was so proud of him - and not in a 'looked down upon' way, but in a , ' You busted your rear and this is great' sort of way.

 

     In the end, we had a few successful open houses and sold it.  His final sales price was right in the range that I suggested it would be and he couldn't say enough about how nice I am.  How kind.  How understanding.  How I never forgot about him and would drop coffees by for no reason. He felt respected and valued.

 

What's the moral of this story? I suppose it's simply this: don't feel less than your Realtor and don't let your Realtor make you feel less.  

 

We are all experts at something and someone who has expertise in an area is truly an expert when they can impart their knowledge to you in a way that makes you feel like you are learning, instead of just listening.  Do I know more about selling houses than my clients? Sure - it's what I do, but that doesn't make me a better person.  It doesn't give me license to disrespect someone's home and environment. If the agent across from you makes you feel that way - makes you feel stupid, feel awkward, feel apologetic for your things or surroundings - send them out the door and find someone else who's willing to listen, respect and value the honor of selling your home,  Being allowed in the door of a potential client IS an honor, if a Realtor doesn't see it that way, there are plenty of us to choose from who do.

 

Nicole Kreutzberg

Realtor

Sutton West Realty Inc.,

nicole@gtalisted.com

416-388-7384

Proudly Serving The Greater Toronto & Mississauga Area's.


Before You Renovate

Posted on Feb 3, 2015 by Nicole Kreutzberg

Ah the February Freeze is on.  When Winter seems like it's never going to end, the days are a touch longer, teasing us with sunshine that lies about the warmth outside.  

It's usually right around this time of year homeowners begin discussing and considering major Home changes.  Whether it's selling (Is now the right time?  Can I continue to maintain my property? Do I want to downsize? Is it time to upgrade) - those kinds of thoughts, or, they look around and think, it's time to renovate.  


Where oh where to begin?


Begin by asking yourself, what about your home do you like the least?  What would you like to add to your home the most?  What's the most dated and could use upgrading?  That's your game plan.


Maybe you want to add an addition, an extra family room.  Perhaps it's time to give the tired outdated shag rug and wood panelled walls in the basement the demo and create a new space you'll actually use.  Or maybe, the kitchen has cooked it's last family function and its time to WANT to ask the family over again in style.  Whatever the case may be, it's only for you to decide.


There are two general reasons to renovate.  One is to sell.  If that's where you are going, decide which features of your home are going to get you the greatest amount of return on investment.  Two words: Kitchens and Bathrooms.  Don't go all upgraded crazy.  Don't put in a $5000 sink in a middle income area and expect that you'll see that back.  Keep it realistic, simple yet elegant and modern.  Go visit an open house or two in your area or an area similar to yours and see who's done what.  That will give you an idea of where to start and proceed from there.


Second reason to renovate, to stay.  This upgrade in your life is not necessarily about return on investment (though always keep in mind somewhere down the road you may want to sell and may not get all your funds back on renovations that are custom or personally modified to suit your own personal taste).


Whatever the case may be, before you hire, consider the following:

 

  1. Perfection:  Don't expect it.  Many aspects of your renovation are done by hand.  Either bricklaying, painting, installing floors.  Contractors, even the experts are human.  I'm not suggesting you settle for mistakes, but there's a way to deal with them and a way not to.

  2. Budget:  Set one.  Don't try to figure it out as you go.  Costs of everything add up really quick.  On a kitchen reno for instance, you could break the bank if you're not careful because small items like cabinet handles, faucets, accessories like soap dispensers and backsplashes can add up really quick.  Know your finances, set a budget and keep an eye on the over all picture.

  3. Lowest Bidder:  They are not necessarily the best for the job, even if they claim the price is low.  There's a reason for a high bid and a reason for the lowest bid.  Consider for a moment what those reasons could be.  Is that who you want to trust your home, your single largest financial investment to?  Here's an idea.  Start with the best of the best.  Get them to give you a written estimate - a cost break down of YOUR project and then use that as a template when interviewing other contractors.  Recreate it in your computer but leave the costs out and ask who you are interviewing to fill it out.  It's a great starting point.

  4. Licensing:  Don't assume the Contractor before you has one.  Ask to see it.  Ask to see their Liability Insurance and Workers Comp, info.  Why get sued by a trade hired by your Contractor based on an assumption.  That assumption could be costly and could cost you your home.  A reputable Contractor will be glad to show it to you.  An indignant one, well, there's a huge chance they don't have one.  He's not the guy for you.

  5. Time:  It seems like a no brainer doesn't it?  How long could ripping out walls, hanging some drywall and putting in some floor actually take?  Longer than you think.  It's not the work that takes the time usually, it's the supplies.  Waiting for the dump bins to arrive in order to begin demo.  Waiting for the various trades to come in to complete their tasks.  The guy who does your drywall is probably not the same guy doing your floor.  Schedules happen.  Material takes time to order and arrive.  Be patient and factor in about 6-9 months on average for a small addition or kitchen job, from start to finish.  Don't forget - you need permits and those permits mean you require inspections and those inspections require waiting.  Its the nature of the beast so make peace with it.

  6. Be Open To Ideas:  I'm not suggesting you completely change your design plan based on the tile guy telling you a fireplace would look great in your bathroom.  But, be open.  Sometimes the trades and your contractor have finished jobs where they've added a great design, storage or layout that they think would look great in your space.  Listen.  Think it through.  Just be open.  You don't have to change a thing, it's still your home and they still work for you.

  7. References:  The Contractor is going to give you some.  Find your own.  Absolutely they will provide you with their BEST jobs.  Maybe those clients are family, friends or part owners of the business.  Google them.  Social media can really help you here so see if you find anything that is suspect.  Not every one is happy with everyone's work and a good General Contractor may have a complaint, but, the question is, did they try to fix it?  Did they take the money and run?  Ask some important questions about timing, budget, quality.  Society today reports everything on the net, take a look and see what you find.

  8. Contracts:  Saying it out loud is great.  Doing business like your Grandpa did back "in the day" based on a gentleman's handshake - realistically - a thing of the past and while it potentially could hold up in court, you know what holds better?  A contract.  It details payment schedules, price, costs, timelines, who's responsible for what, insurance and licensing info.  If it's not in writing, assume it doesn't exist.  Do you really want to hand over a wad of your hard earned money to someone who could just disappear and claim they have no idea what you are talking about?  It could happen and it does.  Don't let it happen to you.

 

 

Keep this in mind before you begin your project.  Renovations can be such an emotional rollercoaster which starts off exciting, flows into - Why Am I Doing This?, with occaissional meltdown and eventually you head in to the "I just want it done" stage and finally, it is.  Stay the course, have a plan and know what and how much you are spending and you'll do just fine.

 

For any real estate questions, please, as always, feel free to text 416-388-7384 email: nicole@gtalisted.com or visit our website at:  www.gtalisted.com

 

My partner Laszlo Koos & I are always here to help!

 

Nicole Kreutzberg

 

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You're Fired!

Posted on May 6, 2014 by Nicole Kreutzberg

 

It’s probably odd to think that a Real Estate Agent will headline their blog with ‘You’re Fired’ and expect to be taken seriously, but I am.  Actually, since I work with a partner, I should say, rather, ‘Fire Us’.

Did you know you could?  Fire your real estate agent?  It’s not something we advertise – though I don’t know why not because you can and you should be told.  It’s that simple. 

Realtors talk talk talk so much, so fast and slide contracts in there and by the time a listing presentation is done, there’s a signature on the bottom line and a confused Seller who may or may not be happy with who they’ve just committed to and the Realtor walks away happy with your commitment and a listing but you, perhaps not so much.  Do you see what’s wrong with this picture?

Isn’t it YOUR home? Your Money? Your Dream?  Shouldn’t it be the other way around – Me Committed To You?

That’s my commitment.  Fire me, sorry, Fire Us.  If you don’t like our service, our commitment, what WE are doing for YOU, then hand us that Trump moment.  We’ve never had it happen and I won’t say yet, because if the day ever comes when I anticipate being fired because I have not stepped up to my commitment to my client, I’ll find a new career because Real Estate would no longer fit.

So what CAN I do for you?

Let’s start with:

  • Exclusive Home Value Audits.  No obligation.  Whether you are curious or serious. 
  • Customized Multi-Level Marketing Strategy for Your Home – a plan of action detailing what we are committed to doing and where we’ll be doing it. 
  • Platinum Home Buyers Program – the listings will appear in your inbox before they’ve hit the public market.

Call me now to discuss how I can commit to you, your needs and your home (416) 388-7384.  If it’s easier, you can reach me by text or email to nicole@gtalisted.com.

No pressure. No obligation. No tactics. Just a conversation.


Realtor Myths

Posted on Apr 22, 2014 by Nicole Kreutzberg


Who Writes This Stuff?


I keep reading these posts about the things that your Real Estate Agent won't tell you.  There seems to be a trend of articles devoted to the cause and I'd like to know, Which Agent? Which agent is not giving you the truth? The right information? Honesty?  Because I'll tell you (the truth that is) - I don't hold back and frankly my reputation and career is based on honesty and transparency with my clients - not lying and misinformation.  Here's some of the popular items on the list that's been going around:

 

  1. Open Houses - the articles suggest that there is no benefit from an Open House to the owner and that it's merely a way for the Agent to secure new clients.  Well first off, new business is great. Not going to lie.  It is in fact a great way to meet new potential clients but we don't do these based on that.  More often than not Open Houses are filled with potential Buyers who already have agents and thus, we spend our time - the whole weekend in fact, schmoozing Buyers who are not using our services but the services of their own Realtor.  Isn't the goal to sell?  We are also introducing your house to the neighborhood and more often than not, it's a neighbor who has a cousin who is looking in the area and this would be perfect.  It's called advertising.  The more exposed your home is, the better chance of it being sold quickly and for your asking price, if priced correctly. Isn't that the goal?  My weekends are not spent inside homes merely to prospect - I am there to sell - and sell YOUR home.  Send in a friend undercover if you don't believe me.  I'm okay with that!
  2. Real Estate Fee's.  Yes they are negotiable.  We do talk about this and we will negotiate but honestly, if I don't have to put money on the table, I am not going to.  Do you? Would you arbitrarily offer to reduce or put money on the table in your own business if it wasn't asked, suggested or required? I'll tell you another secret - while I will offer up portions of my fee (absolutely!) the Buyer fee is usually not negotiable.  Agents are offering 1% - but what they are not telling you is that they are charging 1% but you are also still paying 2.5% for the Buyers end.  So 1 = 3.5%.  The dirty truth of it is that most agents won't show a property if the commission is less than 2.5% (sometimes 2%) on the Buyers side.  It seems greedy but in all honesty, Real Estate is the only business where we must pay to work.  A Realtor in Ontario realistically pays over $10 000.00 in fee's, insurance, associations and desk costs - all of which are mandatory in order to keep their license - whether or not they make a sale that year.  In addition - all related costs - marketing, gas, car, tools of the trade, cell phone etc are the sole responsibility of the agent as well.  It costs alot of money for the privilege of having our career.  And I do treat it as a privilege.  But please remember - the entire cost of marketing your home - from website, social media, advertising, feature sheets, all of the calls, emails, texts and follow ups - are solely the financial responsibility of the agent.  We do not get reimbursed.  We pay all expenses out of pocket.
  3. There are Offers You Don't Know About. No. There are not.  We, in Ontario, are legally obligated (if not ethically) to report every single offer on the table.  It's not our property - it's yours.  Being sued for not relaying information is not how any agent wishes to spend their time.  I tell every owner about every potential offer.  It's not my decision.  Even if it's the lowest of the low - absurd - I will always tell my Owners.  This statement is just ridiculous.
  4. You Don't Need a Real Estate Agent - You Can Do It On Your Own.  Yep - that's true.  You can. It may save you money and you may very well get it done and done well.  Is this how you want to spend your time? If it is, than great.  Anyone who feels they can FSBO (for sale by owner) their own property, I say, Power To Them.  Really.  I do know that as an Agent, I have access to so many things that you, as a lay person do not.  That being MLS, my website, my social media connections, all of the Agents in my office and in every single office of every agency in the province.  I have the knowledge and skill to price your home - using the same models and information as the Appraisers from the Banks and I have the knowledge and skill to go through your home and show you how it will best show.  It's my job to field all calls, appointments, inquiries and information regarding your property and it's on me if something goes wrong - which is why both my Broker and I carry huge insurance policies.  I don't know of many Agents who show FSBO properties to their clients and so based on that alone, you are missing out on a HUGE pool of Buyers.  Buyers who don't want to deal with a private deal and wish to leave the contracts and legalities up to their agents & lawyers.  Buyers who know that their Agent will garner all necessary information regarding zoning, easements, neighborhoods, history and the multitude of other seemingly unimportant pieces of information regarding a purchase that makes a Buyers time less stressful than it already is.  I am not suggesting FSBO homes don't sell - they do, absolutely, but for a huge stream of Buyers - they have no interest in the process and stick to properties with less stress.

I'm not saying that all agents are awesome, honest, driven or have your back - I just know that I am and I do and many of my colleagues do as well.   In all honesty, I went into real estate because of some shady agents we had used in the past and I vowed I would never disrespect any client the way I felt I had been.  That's the truth.

 

I honestly love people.  I understand people and mostly, I respect other people's money.  Looking for a property in the $500 000 range? I'm not going to show you  $600 000 homes, I am going to respect your budget.  Just divorced? I'm not telling anyone - it's your business and I'm going to help you find a property that will suit your new normal.  Just starting a family and looking for the move out of the core into the Burbs? I'll help you consider the long term plan - schools, neighborhood, transit and all of your other needs that you hadn't really thought about yet. My career, my goal is to ensure all my clients feel comfortable, welcome, valued and heard.  What's important to you becomes important to me - whether it's finding a yard for your dog, being near a mosque, church or house of worship.  No matter what your persuasion, orientation or inclinations - my job is about conversations.  I am your agent, it is not my place to judge anything.  My job is about Information. Honesty. Integrity and Listening.  

 

I'm always here, so if you're in the GTA & looking to Buy or Sell - give me a call.  I'd love to help.  It's why I do what I do.

 

 

As always, questions, comments or if you are just plain curious about the value of your home,

Email:   nicole@gtalisted.com,

Website at:: www.gtalisted.com,

Twitter: GTAListed 

Text me at: 416-388-7384

 

 

 

Nicole Kreutzberg

Realtor

 

This blog is not intended to solicit those under agency agreement and has been written as the agents own opinion not to be used as legal advice or otherwise

 
 

GTA Real Estate Mash Up

Posted on Mar 19, 2014 by Nicole Kreutzberg

Latest Headlines:

 

1. Reported by the Canadian Press Wed. March 19:

Loonie lower, Bank of Canada chief says interest rate cut can't be ruled out

2. Reported by Globe & Mail Tues. March 18:

First-time home buyers’ average budget rises to $316,000: BMO

3. Reported by the Toronto Star Wed. March 19: 

Real estate association trims 2014 home sales forecast as year off to slow start

 

Taken all togethor it certainly sounds like Mortgage rates will drop in the up coming Buyer's market where your first property will cost you more now than it did a few years ago.

 

Everything is all speculation until it is fact. It's that simple.  Interest rates MAY go down.  They haven't today though.  Eventually they will go up, it's the nature of the cycle.  When? Who knows.  Do you bank on the interest rate? No.  Bank on your income and your ability to make mortgage payments.  If you can afford a mortgage of say, $400 000 at 3.49% with payments that are $1994/month can you afford $2104/month? - that's the difference between a closed and variable.  Sounds simple and easy enough but you really need to make sure you can. When rates rise so do your payments.  Careful not to borrow so much that you max out on your monthly payment affordability.  You need a cushion.  One day that mortgage will come up for renewal - will you be able to weather that, should rates increase dramatically?  Don't bank on what could happen, just bank on what you know about YOU and YOUR finances and what the rate is doing now.  The rate will always go up and always go down.

 

First time home buyers average budget increases? Well ya. Of course.  It's called cost of living, inflation and the nature of the market.  No one buys property in hopes that it will depreciate so naturally prices all over Canada will nominally increase year to year.  What that percentage increase amounts to varies from City to City and area to area.  I think the biggest key here is 1st Time Home Buyer education.  

 

There's been a dramatic shift in today's generation from generations prior.  Today's 1st time home buyers want it now, want it all and want it cheap.  What ever happened to a starter? The one where the buyer works their way up, puts in some time and effort and slowly collects resources to renovate slowly as budgets permit, their first house.  Today, that first Buyer thinks they ought to be able to move into a 3 bed, with hardwood, granite, stainless, finished basement, attached garage with a fenced yard in a good neighborhood for next to nothing.  Why? Because they see it on HGTV.  Lower your expectations.  Realize the value of compromise and know that the first home is not typically forever.  It's the first.  It's the one that helps you see what you want next.  

 

Trimming the forecast for 2014 on home resale? Well glad they are finally becoming realistic.  As an agent, I find too often it's the media, not us, who fuels the fire.   Reported statistics and media create a frenzy of want, need, have to sell, need to buy, get in before it's too late, have to price it 100K over value... then the agent steps into the picture after frantic client calls and we must, please don't laugh, be the voice of reason. Yes sales were down in January in the GTA - why? Because it was freakishly cold and we had an unusual amount of snow.  It's quite simple.  But back in January, those same statistics people were reporting above average sales.  Why?  Stats are numbers.  Mathematical equations.  One large or luxury home sale skews those figures.  One home that is undervalued by $50K and then sells at 125% over asking, skews those home sales.  

 

I certainly wish the stats would compare apples to apples when they release numbers.  Show the figures for say, the 'average bungalow'.  How long on the market, average.  Average listing price.  Average sales price.  How many were sold.  Do the same for 2 story.  The same for luxury.  The same for condo's - 1 beds compared to 2 beds.   More often than not real estate statistics are a stew, what you are looking for are individual dishes.

 

In this media age all buyers and sellers are far more savvy & intelligent than ever before and that is most definitely a good thing but too much information, too much competing information, too many numbers and all the info becomes a mash up which does not create a more intelligent real estate client, but a more confused one.  

 

Finally, in the great words of Benjamin Franklin, "do not believe everything you read online, some of it is just not true".  Good guy that Ben.

 

As always, questions, comments or if you are just plain curious about the value of your home,

email nicole@gtalisted.com,

visit our website at www.gtalisted.com,

our facebook page at  Sutton West Realty,

follow me on twitter: GTAListed 

or text me at: 416-388-7384

 

Would love to help.

 

Nicole Kreutzberg

Realtor

 

This blog is not intended to solicit those under agency agreement and has been written as the agents own opinion not to be used as legal advice or otherwise


The Ad Game

Posted on Feb 20, 2014 by Nicole Kreutzberg

I work with Buyers in all price ranges and am always faced with unique challenges.  Every range has its own.  The Ad Game is designed to make me look bad to my Buyers and make it seem like I am hiding something, which, trust me, I am not.  I really and truly want to find you that property in that lower budget as much as you do and with your specifications it can be a challenge but one I willingly accept, so trust me when I tell you to ignore the Ads. It’s a game.

Scenario:

Buyer, lower budget, needs may include 2 washrooms, parking, not a Condo or Townhouse and no maintenance (condo/HOA) fee’s.  Preference is a Detached but Semi – Detached better.  In a housing market like the Greater Toronto Area where the average is about $400 000.00 on the really lower end, this is truly difficult but not unattainable.  Again, challenge accepted.

The Ad Game

“Hot New Listing $320 000.00 Amazing 3 Bedroom home, renovated call: 416-555-1212”

“Great Townhome $279 000.00, 3 Bedrooms with walkout to yard, call: 416-555-1212”

My client’s see these ad’s, immediately call me and demand why I haven’t showed them the property – it’s exactly what they are looking for and in their price range!

The Truth

Ad # 1 Truth… while it appears to be local (the agent has a local area code consistent with the GTA) it’s not.  I call the Agent who’s not excited by my call because I am not a potential client but just another ‘agent’ and find that the property is actually located an hour outside of the GTA.  An hour. That’s a huge commute. Huge.  I provide the info back to my client and they are disappointed.  I go so far as to send them the actual MLS listing so they see I am not trying to keep them from this great property and they realize that I am telling the truth and no, they are not willing to commute an hour, in low traffic.

Ad # 2 Truth... again, it seems right up their alley.  A townhome, okay, we can settle for a townhome, it’s under budget, why haven’t you showed it to me?  So again, I call.  Get the MLS number and send it over so my clients can read the fine print – specifically where it states that there are maintenance fee’s over 300-400 dollars a month – something they specifically do not or will not pay for.

I am not suggesting that real estate advertising is wrong or that the agents are doing anything unseemly.  In fact as real estate agents, we are held to Federal Laws on all advertising and could face both criminal and punitive penalties should we mislead the public.  What I am stating is this.  If you see an ad that doesn’t provide all the information and the price does seem too good to be true, it probably is.

A good advertisement wanting to sell the actual property instead of wanting to provide potential clients for the agent will tell you where the property is: what area and probably what street.  It will let you know that if it’s a Townhome, there’s maintenance fees.  If it’s intercity, there’s a mutual drive.  It will in a few short words provide the pertinent information and provide an MLS number or website info so that you can get more information instead of the agent trying to get information out of you, when you call.

When I sit down with a potential Buyer I have a check list of info that I use to begin my search on the MLS system.  It includes price, area, bedrooms, driveways, maintenance fee’s, washrooms, square footage and any other relevant information that can help me search accurately.  Sure I will search outside the ‘box’.  If your price range is so low that there are no listings, I may increase the range search by 10-20 thousand because maybe there is a listing in there that has been so long on the market that it may be negotiable.  I may see a listing that only has 2 bedrooms, when you need 3 but there is a potential 3rd bedroom in the basement.  I may decrease the number of washrooms you require because sometimes the search is about compromise but if you tell me you’d like to live in say, Mississauga – I am not looking in Whitby.  If you tell me that you require a home with its own driveway because you own a large Ford F150, I know that a mutual drive won’t work so I don’t include those in those I show you.

A responsible agent who cares about what their clients’ needs are will show them the properties as close to a match to their wish list as possible.

Obviously there will always be compromises but our goal is to make you the most satisfied Buyer we possibly can.  I have access to all the MLS listings in the GTA long before you do and believe me, if a home comes up with your needs – you will know about it, that’s how the MLS is designed when used properly.

Don’t let the ads fool you, many are a game designed to bring the advertising agents new clients – and there’s nothing wrong with that, but trust in your own agent, they really are working diligently to find you the one that you want.

If you have any questions regarding real estate, are interested in interviewing me as your potential agent or would like some neighborhood info on prices, please contact me at your convenience.  Always here to help and always happy to meet new clients!

Nicole Kreutzberg

Realtor

Sutton West Realty Inc., Brokerage

(416) 388-7384

nicole@gtalisted.com

www.gtalisted.com

This blog is not intended to solicit those under agency agreement and has been written as the agents own opinion not to be used as legal advice or otherwise


The Right Real Estate Agent: How Do You Choose?

Posted on Dec 6, 2013 by Nicole Kreutzberg

Your home or your purchase is possibly going to be the single greatest purchase or sale you make.  Trusting that kind of money to someone is a big deal and should be treated as such. It’s that simple.

First: Talk to a few Agents, there’s many of us and like with any purchase you want to compare.  See who’s right for you. Who’s listening to YOUR needs and who understands what YOU want to do, where you want to go and how much you want to spend.  The Agent must respect YOUR money.

Second: Ask to see the numbers. As agents we all have access to the same figures.  The same Data, the same Sold statistics and when pricing your home, ask to see what has sold in your area and ask to see the homes in your area that are comparable to yours.  Comparing a bungalow to a 2 story is not accurate and not the same.

Third: Don’t be swayed by the Agent who gives you the highest price they can sell your home for.  They may be telling you what you want to hear and it may not be what the actual reality is.  Ask the Agent who tells you that your Detached can be sold for $500 000.00 when 2 others have stated $475 000.00, where or how they arrived at that number.  The biggest disappointment doesn’t happen when the For Sale sign goes up, hit happens 2 weeks later when they tell you that you need to reduce the price and then 2 weeks later they tell you the same thing again.  Next thing you know, you’ve arrived at the $475 000.00 price you were quoted by 2 other agents and it feels like you were mislead. 

Fourth: When you see the numbers, accept them.  You may think that your home is worth so much more but the reality is the numbers.  If Bungalows are selling for $500 000.00 on your street or neighborhood, chances are you will not be selling your bungalow for $600 000.00.  It’s all about the numbers and they don’t lie.  I’m not stating that you won’t make more, that you shouldn’t list it higher as every home has a unique and special quality to it that can translate in to higher sales figures but trust that the data you’ve asked to see is correct.

Please keep in mind that timing is also everything.  Will you generate higher offers in November verses April? Which months are the best to sell or buy?  Seasons are important and can impact the sales figures.  Homes sold in the spring typically generate higher sales figures than those sold in the late fall.  Selling in December is more difficult than choosing February or March.  There’s a Buyer and a Seller in every season, the question is, how many of them are there?

Fifth: Yep, Commissions are negotiable.  That’s the truth. Some agents won’t drop theirs and others do so without blinking an eye.  If you don’t ask and they don’t offer, you’ll be charged, as a seller, the “standard” rate. 

The reality is this, most agents will reduce their sales commissions when the Seller is also buying, what we don’t want to reduce is the commissions paid out to the Buyer of your property.  When a home is listed on MLS, what the Agents see and what you see are generally 2 different sets of information.   As agents we see what the commission rate being paid out to the Buyers agent is and if it’s less than industry standard, then many agents won’t show the home when there’s a comparable listing whose commissions being paid to the Buyers agent are full.  That’s the truth.  Is it right? No it’s not.  But the reality is, you want to expose your home to the maximum amount of agents and buyers possible and that may not happen if the Buyers commissions are reduced.  So when you see that sign or hear from an Agent that they will sell your home for 1% - what they mean is this: They will charge YOU 1% to sell but still will pay out the 2.5% to the Buyer for a total of 3.5%. 

Sixth: Finally, how do you feel with the person across from you? Did they listen to you? Did they show the figures? Will they be there for the Open Houses personally or will they send someone else? Did they explain the contracts to you so that you understand them? It’s about trust and about how you feel with that agent.  Instincts are important.

I’ve often been told I am an amazing Buyer’s agent because I listen, I follow through and provide all of the information.  I take the time to explain all of the contracts and I get answers when I am asked questions.  I typically don’t show my Buyer’s properties well over their budgeted price because I respect that it’s their money and when heading into a multiple offer situation, I have a game plan that prevents my Buyers from overspending.  I treat all of my clients with respect, I negotiate fiercely and finally I treat all of my clients as clients for life, not just one sale.  I put 100 percent into everything I do and if my Buyer is looking for a property that is worth $200 000 or $1 500 000, of if my Seller’s property is worth $175 000 or $2 000 000, everyone gets treated with the same amount of dignity, honesty and respect because that's just who I am and that’s what everyone deserves.

Nicole Kreutzberg

Sales Rep.

Sutton West Realty Inc.

(416) 388-7384

nicole@gtalisted.com

 


GTA Real Estate: Bubble, Bust or Buy?

Posted on Jun 18, 2013 by Nicole Kreutzberg

With the amount of information circulating it's hard to predict just what our Real Estate market here in the GTA is going to do or how we're going to end up.  Many of my clients say that it feels like a scary time in real estate.  Do I sell? Do I rent? Do I buy? Can I even get a mortgage with the new rules in place?  

The best time to make a decision is when you are informed, prepared and have a plan.  Here's some information...

Take a look at this as reported CBC:
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks Canadian real estate the third most overvalued of the 34 developed countries assessed by the group, based on two metrics tracking what homes cost compared to incomes and rents.The Paris-based OECD, which monitors and compares wealthy nations, recently released a report that ranks its 34 member countries based on two broad housing measures:
  • The price of the average home compared to what it could be rented for.
  • What the home costs compared to the average salary.
According to that analysis, Canada has the third most overvalued real estate in the developed world, just behind Belgium and Norway, which are deemed to have the frothiest real estate market under the OECD's terms.
Based on rents, Canadian real estate is overvalued by as much as 60 per cent, the OECD says. In terms of prices to incomes, Canada fares a little bit better, but the OECD suggests the country's real estate is still as much as 30 per cent overvalued.On the opposite end of the spectrum, the OECD says real estate in Japan, Germany, South Korea, Ireland and Portugal is undervalued. In almost all those cases, home prices should be higher than they are, considering rents and income levels.Based on the numbers, the OECD places Canada in the fifth of five baskets — one where real estate seems overvalued but prices continue to increase.
"This is the case in Canada, Norway, New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, Sweden," the OECD says. "Economies in this category are most vulnerable to the risk of a price correction – especially if borrowing costs were to rise or income growth were to slow."The latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association indicates the average Canadian home was worth $380,588 in April — 1.3 per cent higher than it was in the same month a year earlier.
As reported by the Financial Post:
TORONTO — It’s looking like an unsettling spring in Canadian housing, a market that has proven far more even-keeled and less scary for investors in recent years than in the United States.In what is traditionally the best season of the year for real estate agents, Toronto agent Ecko Jay says the industry is seeing far fewer buyers, a result of tighter lending rules, high prices and fear of a bubble. In Toronto alone, sales dropped 40% in the first quarter from a year earlier, making homeowners and investors jumpy.
“Some people want to cash in and pull out now,” said Jay, a 26-year veteran of the Toronto housing market, noting some are spooked by worst-case predictions of a 20 percent drop in prices from current levels.
“They say, ‘Before it gets low, let’s sell,’” Jay added. “And some of my clients want to sell and rent, hoping that when it goes down they will pick up something at a better price. Nobody has a crystal ball.”But then there are Canadian policymakers, economists and market watchers who have the next best thing to a crystal ball. Their data and analysis point not to a bursting of the bubble like in the United States in 2007-08, when prices from peak to trough dropped 35$, but rather a gentle easing in Canadian housing prices, or perhaps just a momentary pause.
Naysayers believe Canada may be too optimistic and relying heavily on that old saw that Canada is not nearly as reckless as the United States. After all, the debt-to-income ratio of Canadians is at a record high, close to the levels experienced in the United States before its market crashed, and home ownership is at nearly 70$, also a record and five points more than its neighbours to the south.
But Canada does have some things going for it, most notably a move by the government to tighten mortgage lending rules four times in five years, most recently in July 2012, which has taken some buyers out of the market, dampening demand.“If you look at the developments over the last year in Canada and compare them to the situation in the U.S. before the crisis, there is a clear difference,” said Julien Reynaud, an economist at the International Monetary Fund who follows Canada.“It is not just a question of housing supply and demand; it is rather a difference in the system of mortgage finance.”Canadians have more equity in their homes than Americans did, the default rate is lower, the sub-prime market is tiny, and mortgage interest is not tax-deductible, so there’s no incentive to build up debt.
Finally, mortgages are structured as recourse loans in which assets other than the house are held as collateral. That makes Canadian homeowners less likely to walk away than their American cousins.
“What makes Canadian housing different makes it stronger,” says Tom Lewandowski, who analyses Canadian banks for Edward Jones in St. Louis.
And finally this from TREB (Toronto Real Estate Board):
June 18, 2013 -- Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 4,620 sales through the TorontoMLS system during the first two weeks of June 2013.  This result was up by 4.7 per cent compared to the first two weeks of June 2012.  Year-over-year sales growth was driven by the regions/counties surrounding the City of Toronto.  Home sales in the City were basically flat in comparison to last year.
 “The expectation was for an improvement in home sales in the second half of 2013.  Early June results are in line with this outlook.  Many households have adapted to stricter lending guidelines and have renewed their search for ownership housing,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President Ann Hannah. “It is also important to note that new listings were down over the same period.  With sales up and new listings down, market conditions became tighter.  This supports the moderate to strong rates of price growth reported for most major home types, including condominium apartments,” added Ms. Hannah. The average selling price for the first fourteen days of June was $536,141 – up by 3.8 per cent compared to June 2012. “While price growth has been driven by low-rise home types this year, condominium apartment price growth has improved since March.  Despite higher inventory levels, there have been enough buyers relative to available listings to support condo price appreciation,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.
What's my opinion?  I think we are in the midst of a very cautious market where both Buyers and Sellers are nervous.  Nervous to Buy, Nervous to Sell.  Sellers obviously want the maximum dollar for their homes while Buyers want the best deal possible.  That statement will remain true no matter what the market does and as a Realtor, I will always adhere to getting the best value, best dollar and best deal to the best of my abilities no matter where we are in the cycle.
Do I trust the Condo market? Not so much.  It's the one area, based on my expertise that here in the GTA I can honestly say I see as a tinderbox just waiting for ignition.  I believe it will ignite and drop.  But in the same breath - if you own a Condo doesn't mean you need to sell it, it just means that if you plan on selling it, my opinion is to make that happen sooner rather than later.  
I personally believe it's time for a correction.  With values soaring almost out of reach of most pocketbooks, at some point, something is going to give and over the course of the past year we've seen a slowing.  What I sold in 2 days with multiple bids last year is taking much longer with less interest.  
In the long run, there will always be buying and selling.  There will always be people in need of homes and people with reason to sell them.  As your Realtors, its up to us to make sure that we use every tool we've got to serve our clients to the best of our abilities.  
If you ever have any questions regarding real estate buying, selling, home preparation or any type of real estate concern, please, as always, email nicole@gtalisted.com or visit the website at www.gtalisted.com
Nicole Kreutzberg
Realtor
Sutton-West Realty Inc.