When’s the Appropriate Time for a Price Reduction on a House?

Back in 2014, I encountered a somewhat sobering story in the Toronto Star.  It was about a young Toronto couple who had recently bought their dream home and who had made their purchase prior to selling their current home.  Since their current home was located in a prime area of Toronto and since the housing market has been so strong, the couple assumed they would be able to sell their current home fairly quickly.  Unfortunately, their assumptions were not correct.  Much to the couple’s dismay, as well to their Realtor’s, while they watched many other homes in their neighborhood sell in a relatively shortly amount of time, theirs remained unsold and seemingly forgotten.  As a result, the couple faced the burden of paying mortgages on two separate properties.

This story offers some important takeaways – for one thing, it reinforces the fickleness of all real estate markets, regardless of the location.  I think it also provides fire to the idea that perhaps selling a property prior to buying a new one may be a safer, more preferred option.  Finally, the story in my opinion raises the question of when the appropriate time is to consider lowering a home’s listing price, this latter topic being what I would like to explore in more detail in this month’s blog.

Clearly, when you the seller are considering lowering the listing price of your home, things are not going well.  You’ve taken all the necessary steps.  With the help of your agent, you put your home on the market.  You successfully hosted several open houses and, indeed, you may have even had a tentative offer.  But, that offer fell through, and as more days passed since you first put your home on the market, you have the sickening feeling that your home’s ‘honeymoon period’ has come and gone, and the momentum surrounding the hopeful sale of your property has slowed.

This is the common path that leads to a price reduction.  And now, having reached this point in the selling process, your agent may be urging you to consider lowering your property’s listing price in order to attract a fresh round of interested buyers.  But, of course, lowering your home’s price is not an easy thing to do – not only does it mean that your net proceeds from the sale of your home will be reduced, it’s also in some ways an admission of defeat and a blow to the ego.

But, putting aside one’s ego, there are certain points in the selling process where reducing the listing price of one’s home is strategically the most intelligent thing to do, and may be the only action that will help sell your property in a reasonable amount of time.  Therefore, it’s important for you as the seller to know how to determine when that time has come.  So, with that in mind, I thought I would offer a few tips on how you can evaluate whether or not it’s time for you to lower your home’s listing price.

As you may already know, performing a comparison of your home to similar homes in your local market is an essential part of selling a home.  It’s an essential part of determining a proper initial listing price for a home; it’s essential in understanding who the potential buyers are of the home; and, in relation to this article’s topic, it’s critical in gaining an idea for the average “days on market” for properties in the area.  An average days on the market number is basically the number of days it takes for a home in your local market to sell.

So, assuming either you or your agent has analyzed how long on average a similar home in your area takes to sell, you can compare this average to your current situation. An important point when analyzing “days on market” (DOM) statistics is to make sure you look at the complete listing history of comparable properties.  Realtors will often “cancel” and “re-list” a property to bring it on the market as a new listing.  This simple procedure re-starts the DOM clock!  If the real total average length of time is more than the amount of time your house has been on the market, then breathe a sigh of relief – you still have some time to work with.  However, if the opposite is true, then this is a strong indication that you will need an extra incentive – such as a price reduction – to successfully sell your home.

But, like many things in real estate, it’s never as simple as it seems – and in my opinion, other factors need to be considered before you and your Realtor finally decide on reducing your property’s price.  For example, have you thoroughly cleaned and staged your home for prospective buyers?  If you haven’t professionally staged your home, consider this as a possible first alternative to a price reduction.  Similarly, have you re-evaluated your home’s marketing?  Are there ample professional photos of your home on all major real estate sites?  Do the existing photos illustrate your home in the most flattering way possible?  Once again, this may be a point to re-evaluate before jumping to thoughts about a price change.

In the end, it would be a perfect world if every home sold the minute it entered the market.  Unfortunately, that’s not reality – and that’s why, in the situation where a home is not selling, it’s so important for you the seller to have as much information at your disposal, as well as an experienced and dedicated Realtor who can guide you to a successful sale.

Daily structure – How do I start my day?

A great short clip on inman.com by a Broker, Peter Lorimer of PLG Estates, puts it very succinctly: https://youtu.be/7b2BVH0ZDjc

He talks about two key ingredients; time-blocking and lead generation.  As most Realtors have transitioned to working from home, including this author – and more and more follow suit, the discipline of following the “perfect week” is even more important. This is a topic I have written about previously and can’t be repeated often enough.

Below, is a copy of The Perfect Week, courtesy of Ninja Selling – one of the best programs for Realtors out of Ft. Collins, CO that I reference often.  You will draw a few immediate conclusions, one of them might be that there is no way this is realistic “because I am too busy” or “I have a life too, i.e., family demands!”  For those people, I am going to suggest that Mom’s are among the best organized when it comes to juggling kids and their sports, extra curricular and other activities.  Everyone of them has the famous family calendar pinned up somewhere with all of those “appointments” laid out, often color coded.  Well, the same principles apply to the calendar below and I would suggest that you should start by first putting in those personal, family appointments and then work in the real estate business appointments around them.  And, yes, treat every one of the items in the calendar as an Appointment.  This has to be the mindset.  If you don’t train your mind to treat them as a non-cancellable appointment, you will operate as you have before without any discipline and control with the end results speaking for themselves.  (If you would like the excel version, send me an email)

The Perfect Week
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
7:00 AM Exercise Exercise Exercise Exercise Exercise
8:00 AM Get ready for the day Get ready for the day Get ready for the day Get ready for the day Get ready for the day
8:45 AM Write affirmations Write affirmations Write affirmations Write affirmations Write affirmations
9:00am to 10:30 am Write 2 personal notes Write 2 personal notes Write 2 personal notes Write 2 personal notes Write 2 personal notes
Make 13 FORD calls, listen for change. Look for ways to add value Sales Meeting and Tour Make 13 FORD calls, listen for change. Look for ways to add value Make 12 FORD calls, listen for change. Look for ways to add value Make 12 FORD calls, listen for change. Look for ways to add value
Gather data for 2 Real Estate Reviews. Call and set appointments to present each. Call all clients under contract. Pick Open House for the weekend.  Gather neighborhood data, call seller to make sure house is “parade ready” Review Hot and Warm Lists for property matches on new listings. Review Hot and Warm Lists for property matches on new listings.
Call and schedule 2 lunches for next week Contact each of your sellers with update on  new neighborhood listings.  Call, DON’T text or email.
Review Hot and Warm Lists for property matches on new listings. Make appts. Review Hot and Warm Lists for property matches on new listings.
10:30
11:00 AM
Noon Lunch with an A list Lunch with an A List
1:00 PM Open House
2:00 PM
3:00 PM Present Real Estate Review Present Real Estate Review
4:00 PM
5:00 PM
6:00 PM 23.75 hours left to work “in” your business, working a 40 hour week INCLUDING your Open House
7:00 PM
8:00 PM BE HOME or Hang out BE HOME or Hang out BE HOME or Hang out BE HOME or Hang out BE HOME or Hang out BE HOME or Hang out

 

The second main point that Lorimer discusses in the short video is to start with Lead Generation.  In the calendar, this is referred to as F.O.R.D. calls.  F.O.R.D. refers to Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams.  Again, Ninja Selling suggests that you work with people you know and like.  To re-connect, and develop a meaningful relationship, the schedule above suggests making calls to your COI/Sphere to ask or talk about anyone of the areas listed in the FORD acronym.  These are not “sales calls”.   I can guarantee that if you make this a non-negotiable part of your schedule you will be as busy as you want to be and even more importantly, you will be working with people you know, like and trust.

This is truly the breakfast of real estate champions!

So you want to be a Realtor

Like the author of the article I am sharing below, I get asked about real estate as a career all the time. And, like the author, it’s not always easy to get across the true nature of the business for new sales people starting out.  For that reason and the fact that the author of this article lays it out really well, I decided to share his thoughts as originally published on Activerain and more recently on Inman.com

This post by Greg Nino, real estate agent at Re/Max Compass in Houston, was originally published on ActiveRain.

Several times a year I am approached by people who want to become a Realtor and know how to get their real estate license and become a real estate agent. Many of them think it’s a great way to supplement their income while they keep their day job. A lot of others are interested in a career change. I decided to type this blog post to save myself time. Each time I’m asked I’ll simply send the inquiring person a link back to this post. So, with that said, grab your favorite beverage and read below, because you’re about to get a heavy dosage of what it’s like to start a real estate career and get your real estate license.

  1. Passing the exam is easy. Creating a business with real income is a different story.
  2. Now that you have your license and have become a real estate agent, be prepared to lose friends and get your feelings hurt. Most, if not all, of your friends and family will avoid using you the first year or two that you’re licensed. Simply put, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. Earn your battle scars. Even after you’ve gained experience, you’ll have friends and family who will not work with you because you’re a friend or because you are family. It happens every day to Realtors across the country.
  3. If you don’t spend money, you won’t make money. You need to spend THOUSANDS of dollars to create a business. Most of what you are thinking is a cute and new idea has already been tried a thousand times. You will do what every new agent does: Spend money (A LOT OF IT) on the wrong things. Over and over again. There’s a famous saying in this business: “If you want to get rich in real estate, sell stuff to Realtors.”
  4. You and your smartphone will become inseparable. You will have to get up from eating, watching a movie and sleeping to take calls, return emails and respond to text messages. Of course, you don’t have to do this, but you also don’t have to make any real money in this business. You’ll get out of it what you put into it. Ignoring a call could be a $20,000 mistake. Or more.
  5. Be prepared to be second-guessed, doubted, questioned, accused and lied to repeatedly. Buyers and sellers have the propensity to lie just like you and the guy next to you at the grocery store. People have perceptions about lawyers, mechanics and police officers. They have them about us, too. Even after years of experience there will be clients who will second-guess your every move. This will never go away.
  6. You will show thousands of houses. Showing a house isn’t just about unlocking a door. Sometimes you get rained on while showing. Sometimes the house says active on the market when it’s already under contract with another buyer. Sometimes you are late to the appointment because of traffic. Maybe your buyer will be late. The number of things that can go wrong are practically endless.
  7. Almost nobody will respect your time. Almost everyone thinks you are overpaid.
  8. Expect people to ask for kickbacks both legally and illegally. Buyers and sellers will often want to haggle with your commission.
  9. You will pay taxes. A lot of taxes. Expect to pay for the gizmo you use to unlock doors. You will pay for this yearly along with dues to three different associations. You’ll pay for signs, lockboxes, tools, equipment, cameras, advertising for both you and your listings, leads, websites, and on and on and on.
  10. You will pay for your own health and life insurance. There is no 401(k) matching in real estate. You are an independent contractor. In fact, YOU will pay to be at your local real estate office! The broker will take money from you. You will also pay for an office if you want one. Your phone is your cost. Your Internet is also your cost. So are your paper, pens and everything else imaginable. You’re running a small business. It’s ALL your costs. You’ll also pay for errors and omissions insurance. The list is really long. Yay!
  11. You will get screwed in this business. It’s not for the naive, lighthearted, ignorant or thin-skinned. You will work your rear end off and sometimes not make a dime.
  12. You will deal with a certain number of psychopaths each year.
  13. You will meet criminals, convicts and felons, especially if you work in the leasing industry.
  14. Strange men and women will ask you to meet them at houses RIGHT NOW.
  15. You might get a gun pointed at you while showing a house or two.Sometimes rabid pit bulls will chase you down.
  16. Expect to get towed at least once.
  17. Eventually you’ll get in a wreck while showing. You better hope your clients aren’t with you. Is your auto insurance updated correctly?
  18. There is no disability insurance. So, if you break a leg while playing softball, you’re screwed. It’s going to hurt your business.
  19. You might get sued even when you aren’t at fault.
  20. When you become successful, your competitors might file complaints on you because they are jealous. You won’t like this.
  21. As you show houses you’ll be in questionable neighborhoods from time to time. You need to learn self-defense, and carry a gun or a can of mace. Everyone should be concerned about their safety.
  22. Be prepared to leave a social event early to run and show a house or to get yelled at by one of your clients for something you did not do. It doesn’t matter, you are the chew toy sometimes.
  23. It’s likely you’ll get audited by the IRS. You have too many write-offs and, once again, you make too much money.
  24. Lawyers are annoyed by Realtors.
  25. Expect to list homes and never sell them. No agent sells every home they list. You will waste time, money, energy and resources.
  26. Your signs will be stolen, spray-painted and eventually played with by the local kids.
  27. Your flier box will always be empty because kids, passersby and neighbors will take too many. Sometimes they’ll take all of them in one day. Then you’ll be chastised for not having fliers in the flier box.
  28. Did I mention you’ll deal with at least two crazy people each year?
  29. EACH real estate transaction you work means you are likely dealing with at least eight different people. You’re responsible for 15-20 things. Right now I am trying to close 11 contracts. I am a little stressed. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my paperwork, my clients and my business.
  30. You will become an unlicensed therapist, divorced lawyer and counselor.You aren’t allowed to give legal advice, and you shouldn’t. You aren’t a doctor, but everyone will unload their personal lives with you. You will sometimes live their life.
  31. Your spouse will at times hate what you do for a living.
  32. Your wife or husband will despise the fact that you are always on your phone.
  33. When you’re sick, you still work. There’s no floating holidays.
  34. While on vacation, you still work. You can get an agent to cover your business, but NOBODY will care for your business the way you do.
  35. Sometimes when you make mistakes it costs people money. You can’t just apologize.
  36. You have to have a nice car. You must wear nice clothes.
  37. When you first get started everyone will know you don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s a fact. This sucks. But if you stick it out, you’ll be OK. Seventy-five percent of the new agents don’t make it.
  38. You get to work with agents! Not all of them are put together correctly. A lot of your problems in this business will be because of the other agent. You will get upset, angry, pissed and offended. Egos are here, too.
  39. Wait for it:  Friends, neighbors and family will ask you for real estate advice while they are involved in a real estate transaction YOU aren’t.
  40. Other Realtors will give your client advice when they aren’t supposed to.Every buyer and every seller knows an agent somewhere.
  41. Each market is different. Very different sometimes, but that won’t stop friends and family from influencing your client. Your client will become confused at times.
  42. You have a better chance of meeting E.T. than you do working real estate part time and being successful. It takes time, effort and money to be a part-time Realtor. In fact, being a part-time agent can be even more difficult.

So why do agents do this?

You’ll have the amazing opportunity to reap what you sow. You can work when you want. No matter how bad your boss (client) is, you are working for them for only a certain period of time. You get new bosses all the time. You can make a real difference in a lot of people’s lives. You literally help shape dreams. YOU can be the difference in someone’s life as they look to sell and buy a home. And not all clients, buyers and sellers are bad. Most of them get it. It’s awesome when everything works out.

And sometimes the money is really good.

 

What do you do?

“So, what do you do for a living?”  A question that most Realtors struggle to answer with any degree of clarity, conviction and enthusiasm.  In a previous posting, I discussed the need for us to define our purpose as this sets the stage for how we approach our business and most importantly how we conduct ourselves during the course of helping clients.

I recently watched an excellent short video on this exact topic by Brendon Burchard, the online trainer, author, thought leader.  He proposes a simple framework to come up with the answer, which, if anything, will help you stand out from all the others who say things like “I help people buy or sell houses”, or, “I help people with their most important purchase ever”.  These are usually the same people who when asked why they are in real estate struggle to come up with a really authentic answer.  Here is Brendon’s framework:

I help X (your audience) ______________________________ Do/Understand Y (your topic) ______________________________ So that they can Z (benefits) ______________________________ Example: X: I help authors, speakers, coaches, and thought leaders Y: discover, share, and monetize their content and advice Z: so that they can earn revenue and make a difference.

For more on this from Bredon Burchard I encourage you to get his book, The Millionaire Messenger.  It is a quick read and will help identify a number of really important issues like this so that you are clear, focused and can enthusiastically get across how you help your clients improve their lives.

Having done this myself, here is what I came up with;

I help Realtors (real estate solo-preneurs) create, build and run, highly effective and profitable businesses so they can earn more $$ per hour and have a great life!

Ontario 2017 Budget Highlights

Province Announces 2017 Ontario Budget

April 28, 2017 — The provincial government has announced the 2017 Ontario Budget, which includes numerous items relevant to REALTORS®.

What does the 2017 Budget mean for Ontario REALTORS®?

    • Non-Resident Speculation Tax: Implementing a new 15 per cent Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) on the price of homes in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) purchased by individuals who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada or by foreign corporations.
      • Upon the enactment of legislation, the NRST will be effective as of April 21, 2017. Binding agreements of purchase and sale signed on or before April 20, 2017 are not subject to the NRST.
      • The province listened to REALTOR® advice on the NRST and will be providing rebates or exemptions to students, workers, refugees and people who acquire citizenship within four years.
    • Housing Supply: The government is taking positive steps to bring more housing supply into the market. This was a focus of REALTOR® advocacy leading up to this announcement as a way to help make home ownership more affordable for Ontario families.
      • Specifically, the province announced plans to look at streamlining the complicated approvals process which delays and prevents housing supply from coming to market. They will also support the building of “missing middle” housing in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and work with municipalities to encourage developers to build on vacant land that is serviced and ready for development.
    • Review of REBBA: While a review of REBBA was not announced in Budget 2017, as part of the Fair Housing Plan, the government remains committed to conducting a broad review of REBBA including looking at practices like multiple representation and representing the buyer and seller. A full review of REBBA will be an opportunity to discuss multiple representation but to do so in a much more thoughtful/rational way. It will also be an opportunity to lobby for other changes to REBBA like PRECs, specialty designations, greater fines, higher education standards and other changes which will help REALTORS® do business better.
    • Rent Control: Expanding rent control to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991. This will ensure increases in rental costs can only rise at the rate posted in the annual provincial rent increase guideline. The increase is capped at a maximum of 2.5 per cent. Legislation will be introduced that, if passed, will enact this change effective April 20. 
    • Vacant Homes Property Tax: Budget 2017 reconfirms the government’s plan to give the City of Toronto the ability to levy an additional property tax on vacant homes. Amendments will also be made to legislation to give the Minister the ability, through regulation, to give other interested municipalities the opportunity to levy a similar tax.
    • Paper Flipping/Assignments: The Budget outlines that the government will require a purchaser to declare at the time the transfer is registered whether they entered the agreement of purchase and sale through assignment or another similar arrangement.
  • Revenue Tools/Hotel Tax: We are happy to report that Budget 2017 does not reverse the province’s commitment to not give other municipalities MLTT powers. However, the government will introduce legislation through Budget 2017 which will amend the City of Toronto Act, 2006 and Municipal Act, 2001 to give all municipalities the ability to levy a hotel tax. TREB and OREA will monitor the legislative process to ensure no additional revenue tools are added to the legislation.
  • Tarion Warranty Corporation: The 2017 Budget reconfirmed the government’s plans to make changes to Tarion and the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. The government has asked Tarion to introduce new deposit requirements to reflect current housing prices. 
  • Syndicated Mortgages: The government will introduce new regulations to place investment limits on syndicated mortgages and require mortgage brokerages to document their assessments of the suitability of such products for their clients.
  • Land Transfer Tax: Budget 2017 will amend the Land Transfer Tax Act to restrict first-time home buyers from claiming their spouse’s interest from the first-time buyers rebate if the spouse is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. 
  • Pooled Registered Pension Plans: The 2017 Budget announced that Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) are now permitted in Ontario as of March 31, 2017. Self-employed or independent contractors, such as REALTORS®, can now utilize this voluntary tool to help them save for retirement.

Other highlights from the 2017 Ontario Budget include:

  • Deficit/Fiscal Outlook: The government is projecting a balanced budget for the current fiscal year. The budget will also remain balanced for the next two years.
  • Infrastructure and Transit Funding: The Budget allocates $156 billion in infrastructure funding over the next 10 years. $56 billion will be invested in public transit and $26 billion will be spent to improve and build new roads and highways.
  • Health Care: The government is going to be spending an additional $7 billion in health care over next three years to assist with the construction of new hospitals and decrease wait times. 
  • OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare: Children and youth under the age of 24 will have access to universal drug coverage beginning on January 1, 2018.
  • Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit: On July 1, 2017, Ontarians aged 65 or older will be eligible for the Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit which will provide a refundable benefit of 15 per cent for eligible public transit costs. 
  • Increased Child Care Spaces: Budget 2017 announces funding for the creation of 24,000 more licensed child care spaces.
  • Basic Income Pilot: The Budget announced the launch of a Basic Income Pilot in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay to provide voluntary participants aged 18 to 64 with regular payments to help them afford basic needs like housing or food. 
  • Natural Gas Expansion: The budget commits $100 million to be invested in a new Natural Gas Grant Program to expand natural gas access to rural, Northern and First Nation communities.
  • Affordable Housing: The government announced that it would leverage provincial land for affordable housing by disposing surplus land below market value. In a pilot within the GTHA, Ontario will commit $70 to $100 million in land to develop up to 2,000 new housing units which will include both market and affordable housing. 
  • Tobacco Tax: Budget 2017 announces a $2 per carton increase in the tobacco tax. This is part of a plan to increase tobacco tax rates by $10 per carton over the next three years.
  • Drive Clean: While the Drive Clean program will continue, the government has eliminated the $30 fee that drivers pay for the Drive Clean emissions tests.
  • **Credit: Toronto Real Estate Board**