Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Deal Yourself a Winning Hand With Skillful Negotiation

Congratulations! After a careful search, you and your REALTOR® have found the right home for you and your family. But don't uncork the champagne yet. There is still some negotiating to do before you close the deal.

YOU want the best possible terms and the SELLERS want to get the best price they can. To some extent, you are adversaries. The difference between a stalemate and a fair compromise may depend on whether you have planned ahead and developed a strategy for success.
Study the cards

To determine if the asking price reflects fair market value, have your REALTOR® research the sale price of comparable homes. If you think the house is realistically priced, don't make your first offer too low. Even though you need room to bargain, remember that the Seller will probably have strong emotional ties to the house; a low offer may be considered an insult and negatively impact your future negotiations. Knowing the market is key.

Your REALTOR® can also answer questions about market conditions, comparable prices and sales in previous years and other context information related to this property and/or the general area.

Ante up
When you decide the time is right, your REALTOR® will assist you in preparing an Offer to Purchase on a standardized form required by law. The Offer to Purchase must give the names and addresses of both Buyers and Sellers, a street address and legal description of the property for sale and a date of possession. It also sets out the price, terms and conditions, amount of deposit, list of goods included in the sale price and a time and date by which the offer must be accepted.

The offer is signed by you, witnessed and, sometimes, accompanied by a cash or cheque deposit. There is no predetermined amount for your deposit - its a negotiable item.

A deposit made by cheque should be payable to the Listing Broker (the company marketing the home) for deposit into the Broker's trust account. If the deposit is cash, a receipt will be provided by the Selling Agent. The deposit money will go into his or her company's trust account and be transferred to the Listing Broker's trust account if your offer is accepted.

Deposits are held in trust until the deal closes and then applied to the purchase price. If your offer isn't accepted, or if you can't meet any of the conditions (included in an accepted offer, your deposit will be returned.

If you are providing a substantial deposit, the money could be placed in an "interest-bearing" trust account to earn interest until the transfer of title. The interest can be paid to either the Buyer (you) or the Seller - this should be negotiated and specified in the Offer to Purchase.

Your REALTOR® who is legally required to present your offer to the Seller and, once that has been done, there is nothing to do but wait while the Seller considers your offer.

The Seller has three choices: to reject your offer, to accept your offer outright, or to counter-offer. To be valid, a Seller's acceptance has to be made within the time specified on the offer. When an offer is accepted - whether immediately or after one or more counter-offers - it becomes a legal contract binding on both parties to the transaction.

Although you hope your offer is immediately accepted, the Seller could come back with a counter-offer. Whatever the answer, it will be quickly relayed from the Seller through the Listing Agent to your REALTOR® and on to you.

The Counter Offer
A counter-offer shows the Seller is interested in reaching a deal but wants to adjust certain items in your offer that weren't acceptable. Usually negotiations simply consist of an offer, a counter-offer and agreement, but more than one counter-offer could be involved. Negotiation takes patience, knowledge and some give and take.

Usually, the key areas for negotiation are price, possession date, terms and conditions and possessions other than the home itself. The back-and-forth interplay of these items will determine where you and the Seller are likely to compromise.

For example, if you stand firm on your purchase price, you might have to take earlier possession to clinch the deal. Or the Sellers might want a little more money than you first offered but may be willing to give you something they weren't going to include at first.

Usually negotiations are minimal. But, if you are involved in more protracted negotiations, always be open and honest about your wants and needs. Frustration or finalization depends on whether both parties show a real desire to reach agreement through openness, good faith and honesty

Play it safe
The Offer to Purchase outlines items normally included in the purchase price of a home. It also has space for extra items that may not normally be included and for items to be specifically excluded.
Items which normally stay with the home - things like light fixtures, cabinets, built-in shelves - are considered fixtures. If there are specific fixtures you want to specifically ensure are included in the purchase price it would be prudent to note them on the offer so that there is no question about it.

Items which are not attached to the property and are movable are called chattels. Examples would be the wood pile, certain appliances, decorative mirrors, fireplace tools, and so on. If there are chattels you want to be included in the deal, ensure your REALTOR® puts them in the offer.

There are sometimes fine lines between what things are considered fixtures and chattels. For example, the built-in system of hoses and outlets for a central vacuum system is considered a fixture, while the canister and accessories are generally considered chattels.  Play it safe and clearly spell out exactly what you expect to be on the property and/or in the house on the day you take possession.

The following items are some of the most common items which should be itemized in an offer:

  • central vacuum system
  • storage shed
  • swing set
  • water purifier
  • propane tank
  • pool accessories
  • wood burning stove
  • dishwasher
  • mirrors
  • appliances
  • garage door opener
  • alarm system
  • ceiling fans
  • window coverings
  • fireplace screen, tools, woodpile
It is essential that the Offer to Purchase clearly states which items stay with the home and which ones the Sellers take with them. Never take anything for granted.
Wild cards
You may want to make your offer subject to one or several conditions. Failure to satisfy conditions doesn't affect an agreement's validity but does give a Buyer the right to sue for damages in the event there is a breach of the contract.

A conditional offer may be countered with a special clause or condition called a "time clause". This is used occasionally used by Sellers to enable them to accept a Buyer's conditional offer and still leave room for them to accept another offer if one comes along. It provides for the Seller to give notice to the prospective Buyer that another acceptable offer has been made and the original Buyer now has a specific number of hours - often 48 hours (Sundays and holidays not included) - to satisfy all conditions in the original offer or to withdraw them.

Between shuffles
You will be busy between the Seller's acceptance of your offer and time at which you actually take possession of the property. For most people, arranging financing is a number-one priority. You should also consult a legal professional and provide copies of all required documents to ensure all the conditions of the contract can be met on time.

Don't forget you will need to alert the phone company, utilities, post office and other services of disconnection dates and get installation and connection dates for your new home. You will also have to send the required change of address notices for your driver's license, credit cards, banks, newspapers and others. Tell your friends and relatives about your new address and phone number. Confirm a convenient moving time with the Sellers and make your moving arrangements well in advance.

The transaction isn't complete until you have title to the property transferred into your name. Registering title and mortgage documents at the Land Titles Office requires legal documentation and the payment of legal fees. Your legal professional will do a title search of the property to confirm that the property is registered in the name of theSeller and to see if there are any outstanding caveats, liens or encumbrances registered against the title.

All steps necessary to complete the legalities of the transaction will be done by the legal professional on your behalf, including obtaining a site certificate, zoning memorandum, tax certificate and information from utility companies. Your legal professional will also make arrangements for collecting money due on closing of the deal, prepare documents for your signature and forward funds in trust to the Seller's legal professional for possession and transfer of title clear of all encumbrances.
The transfer of keys will usually be done through the legal professionals office with a variety of trust conditions in place for the exchange of keys and money.

Head for home
Now that you have made all the right moves to close the deal - you gathered market information, were flexible during negotiations and planned ahead - pop the cork on that champagne bottle and toast your new home!

I am the GUY that will make a difference!

I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty
C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Open House - a Unique Marketing Tool

If you have ever bought or sold a home, you are probably familiar with open houses and the role they can play in the sale or purchase of a home. Open houses are a marketing tool which can help give a home exposure, allowing several potential purchasers to view properties over the course of a day or two - usually on a weekend.

In addition to holding open houses for the public, REALTORS® also conduct open houses for other real estate professionals. This gives them a chance to promote their listings with other REALTORS® and Brokers who may have suitable buyers who would be interested in these particular properties.

Hints for Sellers
First of all, your property should be in top-notch condition to create a favourable and lasting first impression with potential Buyers. Keep your lawn trimmed and tidy. Also make sure that all trees, hedges and shrubs look neat, not unruly. Trim branches that block the view of your home or hide some of its best assets.

Repair any unsightly cracks or holes in your walkway or steps that could prove to be a safety hazard. Don't leave tools and toys strewn around the front or back yards; these detract from the curb appeal of your home, making it look like an obstacle course. They could also prove to be hazardous if someone tripped over them.

If your trim or siding looks dirty, wash it using an appropriate cleaning solution (your hardware store can probably give you tips on what's best to use). And if your paintwork is peeling or blistering, it's time for some cosmetic surgery. A little paint can go a long way to enhance the marketability of your home. If you are unable to tackle the job yourself, hire a professional for best results.

Indoors, open up curtains and blinds to let in as much natural light as possible. This helps show your home to its best advantage. And be sure to move any clutter out of sight and rearrange furniture that might impede traffic flow.

Rooms should also be thoroughly aired and as fresh as possible - particularly if you have pets or when someone in your family is a smoker.

Vacate the premises for the day
Your REALTOR® will recommend that you leave during the Open House to help make prospective Buyers feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. If you are in the house, Buyers are more likely to be intimidated and reluctant to give your home the thorough viewing it deserves.

If you have pets, make sure you take them with you - others may not appreciate them as much as you do.

Secure valuables
Before you leave, put all personal property like jewelry, medications and fragile items well out of harm's way in a safe, secure storage place. Don't leave money lying around. To make sure everything is secure and ready to receive visitors, quickly inspect your home with your REALTOR® just before you leave.

If you have any particular concerns about the open house, talk to your REALTOR® to see what suggestions he or she might have for you.

Tips for Buyers
On the flip side of the coin, if you are a Buyer attending open houses, keep in mind that viewing an Open House is a privilege.

Also keep in mind that the REALTOR® on duty is acting as host of the Open House on the Sellers behalf; the salesperson should be treated with the same respect you would give the Seller.

When asked to identify yourself at an Open House, you should sign the guest register. The Seller has the right to request that you sign the register, providing your name, address and telephone number.

It is also important to refrain from wandering through the house without the salesperson present; if the REALTOR®  is busy, wait until he or she is able to show you around. The salesperson will be able to point out the features of the home you may miss if you look around on your own and can also answer any questions you may have.

When attending open houses, it is also important to clarify up front if you have been viewing homes with another REALTOR® . Keep in mind that the REALTOR® you are working with has gone to a lot of effort on your behalf and won't get paid a commission if you switch to another REALTOR® .
Open houses can be of benefit to both Sellers and Buyers when they are properly planned so be sure to talk to your REALTOR® about them.

I am the GUY that will make a difference! I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty
C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We've Sold Our Home! Now What?

You have just concluded the negotiation and accepted the offer for the sale of your home, That’s terrific, but now what? While there may be a number of conditions included in the offer that need to be satisfied before the deal is really, really "final" it isn't too early to start thinking about the matters that must be taken care of between now and the day that your house keys are handed to the Buyers.
As you can well imagine all the work is not done yet. With a little attention to detail and with a little help from a number of friendly professionals, most importantly your REALTOR®, your sale should be positive experience.

Legal issues
Hopefully, you fully understood all your rights and obligations found in the Contract of Purchase and Sale before you signed it. If you aren’t quite sure about something now is not the time to be bashful. Contact your legal professional as soon as possible to clear up any uncertainties that you may have. It is crucial that you deal with these issues now and not at 4:28 p.m. on the Friday of a long week-end possession date.

For example, you want to be certain about which items are included with the sale and which ones you are taking with you when you move out. The normal rule of thumb is that items which are attached to the property or are considered a permanent part of the property (fixtures) are included in the sale. Moveable items (chattels) will normally leave with you. The Contract of Purchase and Sale should have detailed any exceptions to these guidelines. If you have any uncertainty in your own mind, deal with them well in advance of the possession date to avoid unpleasant confrontations with the new owners. Small Claims Court is the last place you want to resolve a dispute over a planter box.

Even if you think you understand all the details of your sale, it will still be extremely helpful for you and your legal professional to meet as soon as possible. You will be of great assistance to your legal professional if you collect all of your important documents and deliver them to his or her office in a timely manner. Papers such as closing documents from when you purchased the home: the lawyer’s final report with the survey certificate and sketch (which you would have received after the purchase of your existing home was completed); tax bills and your Title Certificate. Make sure you have your lawyer explain to you all of the closing costs, including legal fees and disbursements. If you aren’t sure, ask again. You should leave the office after your first visit and have a reasonably good idea of what the final net proceeds from the sale of your home will be.

Although there are many important issues, two of the more important ones are the discharge of any existing mortgage and the property tax adjustment. In normal circumstances any existing mortgage on your property must be discharged from the proceeds of the sale. Do you know how much the mortgage payout penalty will be? Have you clarified with the bank when your last mortgage payment will be?

As for property taxes, make sure you understand the adjustment of cash payable by the Buyers to you on possession. Will you be paying the property tax bill and receiving credit on the sale, or vice versa? Although the amount will be adjusted between you and the Buyer, make sure you are aware of who is actually making the payment so that you aren’t financially embarrassed on closing.

Insurance tidbits
Make sure your insurance agent understands fully your particular situation so that you do not have a gap in coverage. If your house is going to remain vacant for an extended period of time between the time you move out and the time the Buyers take legal possession you must advise your insurer. Your insurance company will expect you to obtain a vacancy permit and/or have you arrange for the inspection of the premises on a regular basis. Remember, according to the Contract of Purchase and Sale, you will be responsible to deliver the home to the Buyer in the same condition as they saw it when they made the offer. Any damage occurring between the contract and possession dates will be your responsibility. You should take care to avoid any loss of coverage under the terms of your insurance policy.

Other loose ends
There are numerous details to attend to before you move out. Try to remember to take meter readings of all utilities on possession date and advise the service providers. Contact other services such as telephone and cable television to cancel service in order to ensure that you are not charged beyond the date of possession. Remember that all of these notifications (including house insurance) will be impacted by any last-minute changes in possession date. As a result, you may wish to anticipate any slight variations in the actual possession date when you initiate all notices and arrangements.

Handing over the keys
Possession date is a time of much excitement, hustle and bustle. It is in your best interest to confirm in writing any agreed changes in possession date in order to deal with all of the notifications just discussed. As a courtesy to the Buyer, try to identify a specific time of day when they will be able to move in.  Although you may not be accustomed to being in the retail business, the Buyer is indeed your customer. There is value in having the Buyers relate to you as satisfied customers. The alternative can come back to haunt you.

Try to take care when you move out of the house. Any significant damage caused in the process of your moving out will be your responsibility to rectify. While your family moving crew may only have cost you a few beverages to hire they are not normally bonded for the cost of repairs.

When will I get my money?
This is an important question that you need to clarify with your legal professional. The nature of the land titles system is such that you will be unable to access your funds between the date of possession and the date that the title clears the Land Titles Office. While computerization has greatly sped up this process in the last several years there can still be a significant waiting period, particularly during the summer season.

The Contract of Purchase and Sale provides that you will receive a payment of interest from the Buyer on your sale proceeds between possession date and the date when your legal professional is authorized to release those proceeds to you. In the meantime, if you need the money (for example for the purchase of another home) then you may need to arrange "bridge" financing with your financial institution while you await the release of your money.

Any questions?
If you have questions, do not be afraid to ask your REALTOR® . Your REALTOR®, legal professional, financial advisor, banker and Insurance agent should all be more than pleased to address any concerns or questions you may have.

I am the GUY that will make a difference!

I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty
C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why Choose Me?

Watch this video:

I am the GUY that will make a difference!
I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR® Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty
C 250.878.3605
O 250.768.8001

Kelowna Real Estate Agent West Kelowna Karen Guy Realtor