• M.L.S. Mythbusters

    You know, it’s a shame that there is so much mis-information out there about real estate. As the Broker of a rural real estate brokerage that has chosen not to be part of the M.L.S. system, we seem to always be fighting an uphill battle with consumers and Realtors believing that we aren’t licensed to sell real estate (we are), that we aren’t as ethical or regulated as carefully ( we are), or that we can’t market our properties as effectively without putting them on realtor.ca (we have our listings on approximately 15 websites, and can put them on realtor.ca through a co-listing with a Realtor if the client wishes).

    To sell real estate in Alberta , you have to be licensed by the Alberta Real Estate Council (“RECA”) and registered with a licensed real estate brokerage. Once this is done, you are referred to as a real estate associate (or associate broker or broker as the case may be). You can also use the term real estate professional or agent. If you choose to join your local real estate board, (in Calgary, that is the Calgary Real Estate Board) and the Canadian Real Estate Association (“CREA”), then you can be called a “Realtor” and post your listings on realtor.ca. The term “Realtor” was copyrighted by CREA so only associates registered with CREA can use that term. There is no difference in level of competency between a Realtor and a real estate associate.

    CREA has a code of conduct that Realtors are supposed to follow. This, however, does not mean that if you are not a Realtor, then you have no regulation. There are rules and regulations in place under the Real Estate Act (Alberta), and a lot of training on ethics. RECA does a great job of regulation and responding to consumers. At Linview we have a code of ethics in our policy manual that all our sales associates are expected to adhere to, that is very similar and in some cases, stricter, than the Realtor code of conduct.

    As far as marketing properties, I would argue that with the rise of social media, a single website is no longer good enough for most consumers. They are looking everywhere for properties to purchase and there are lots of property listing websites out there. Our course, we have our website, Linview.ca, and Kijiji.ca is one that we get a lot of response from in Alberta. Others include Point2Homes, HotFrog, Real Estate Channel, HomeHippo, BuySellTrade.ca, and many others. In addition, facebook, twitter and other social media platforms help people find us. It’s about so much more than just one website. Of course, we haven’t even talked about the extensive newspaper advertising that takes place. In essence, by not participating in M.L.S., we have to keep on our toes and work that much harder for our clients and customers, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

    Ethics and morals can’t be legislated, so all the organizations and rules in the world will not make dishonest people honest. It comes down to working with someone you can trust has your back and will look after your best interests. Someone who is dedicated in working only for you to get you the best deal possible. These sales associates are found in every company, M.L.S. or not. It’s a matter of meeting with several and finding someone that you are comfortable with, someone who shares your values and that you feel will work for you and only you.

    When buying or selling a home, the very first thing you should do is find a sales associate who can help you with one of the largest financial transactions most people make in their lives. That sales associate can then help you navigate the confusing waters of home inspections, mortgages and the other hassles that inevitably crop up when buying and selling real estate.

    Thanks for reading!

     


  • Farming and GMOs

    It’s time to talk about a controversial topic in todays food industry. GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms. These are source foods (produce, grains, etc.) that have been genetically modified to enhance yields, flavour, make they easier to harvest, or any of a number of other reasons. You see a lot of stuff about it, mostly on the internet, and mostly bad. But how much do we really know about it.

    Brother Gregor Johann Mendel, an Augustian friar in the mid-1800s, formally “started” the study of genetics by systematically hybridizing peas. However, for centuries before that, people knew that crossing certain kinds of plants or animals would produce certain desirable traits. So, in effect, genetic modifications have been around for centuries. The difference now is that science has allowed us to do it faster, and there is far more information about it reaching the public. Of course, science has also helped us to test it more thoroughly, thereby reducing the risk of problems down the road.

    Another consideration is the farmers that using the GM science for their crops and livestock. They feed their own families with the same produce they are sending to market. They would not produce anything that is likely to be bad for the health of their children, grandparents, etc. They love their jobs and care deeply about the food they produce for the world. It makes absolutely no sense that they would grow food that would potentially harm the health of anyone. In addition, without the GMOs that have been developed thus far, we could never hope to feed the worlds population. There are so many that live with daily hunger as it is, it would mean tens of thousands starving to death without the increased yields and nutrition of GM crops.

    Check out this excellent documentary made in Saskatchewan. It provides intelligent information by farmers, researchers and other professionals about GM crops.

    You can also visit their website here and learn about their sources and get more information.

    Have a great week!


  • Launch into 2016

    Well, the difficult year that was 2015 is gone and we have a fresh new year! In Alberta in 2015 we saw a provincial NDP government elected and a federal Liberal government elected. Neither of which are particularly good for small business, however I believe with hard work and savvy decisions, this can be a great year!

    The economic downturn is hitting Alberta particularly hard, with the provincial unemployment rate at around the same as the federal one for the first time since the 80s. Most of the bleeding is in the oil & gas sector, which definitely affects the other parts of the economy. It’s time to tighten our belts and not spend frivolously. Sadly, it’s also a good time to buy used quads, boats and other “toys” at a steep discount!

    In real estate, sales in the urban centers have slowed down considerably and prices are starting to slide downward. Out in the rural areas, things are remained fairly steady, as our housing prices are lower than the cities, and thus more affordable. Acreages are not moving particularly well and didn’t throughout 2015. We may see some softening of acreage prices. Farmland picked up in 2015 and we think that trend will continue, with softening prices making it more affordable for the farmers and more profitable for investors. With farmland, a lot will depend on how late spring is as well. December to February/March is traditionally a slow time for rural real estate as the cold and snow make showing acreages and farmland difficult.

    Linview is going into 2016 strong with 5 acreage and farmland specialists, 1 commercial specialist and 2 residential specialists. As a team, we work together to help market properties effectively and efficiently, getting the best price possible. It isn’t always easy – there are many factors that affect the price; timing, economy, weather, etc. However we work hard for all our clients, buyers or sellers, to provide an exceptional real estate experience! We have some changes planned for 2016, so watch this space!


  • 10 Great Reasons to Use a Real Estate Professional

    It IS possible to buy or sell a property privately, but more often than not, it ends up being a bad idea. Believe it or not, it is often cheaper in the long run to pay a real estate professional to take care of your purchase or sale. The stories we could tell you….

    Here are 10 reasons why you should NOT go it alone when you are buying or selling real estate:

    1. Working with a professions provides peace of mind

    We have a code of ethics that we adhere to, we are insured and we are committed to ongoing education. We have intimate knowledge of sales and trends in our marketplaces and our knowledge of contract law ensures the paperwork is handled properly and correctly.

    2. Get information on new listings first

    We have access to many different websites and keep ourselves updated on the newest properties to hit the market. We keep our eyes and ears open!

    3. Market that property!

    We will distribute information about your property to our network of other agents and potential buyers, as well as the public. We will also be there for every showing so we can properly represent your home to prospective buyers.

    4. We know your competition

    We keep ourselves informed on what is on the market and what the price is, what has sold and for how much, and which direction the pricing is going, so that we are able to accurately price your home and give you sound advice.

    5. Find the right property for your specific needs.

    We can source locations and homes that are specific to your needs. We know where the schools, hospitals and other amenities are located and can advise on different neighbourhoods and communities.

    6. Help you to evaluate a property.

    We know which inspections should be done and can recommend excellent professionals to do those inspections. We can also gain access to important information such as historical sale prices and the title. If there are title issues, we can get them looked after before problems arise.

    7. Negotiating – secure the best price for your home.

    We are expert negotiators and our experience can equate to thousands of dollars in your pocket! Along with helping you to get the best price, we can assist with possession date and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings or equipment. We will help you maximize your return and give you peace of mind.

    8. Get the best information on financing options.

    We can help you understand the various financing options available and refer you to a qualified lender or mortgage broker.

    9. Know what government programs can help you.

    We know the most current incentives and rebates that help homebuyers. Government offerings on land transfer taxes, home buyers tax credits and plans for first-time home buyers can help you save money on your sale or purchase.

    10. Help you work with the best partners

    We have a whole slate of professionals that we are comfortable recommending to our clients – mortgage brokers, home inspectors, lawyers, accountants, carpenters, renovators, and more. We want to make sure that you have all the resources you need to make a sound decision.

    We have a wealth of knowledge and it is all at your disposal – just give us a call and put us to work for you!

    With thanks to Genworth Financial for some of the wording.


  • What is the difference between a Realtor and a real estate associate?

    Realtor vs. real estate agent/associate

    I think this is the most misunderstood concept in real estate in Canada. You will likely have seen the ads about using a licensed Realtor for your home sale because they are the only ones who know how to do it properly. But what they don’t tell you and what very few Canadians understand, is that you don’t need to be a “Realtor” to be licensed to sell real estate.

    The term “Realtor” was copyrighted by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), which is an advocacy group for the real estate profession. It is not a legal entity or a licensing body. It is simply an organization of real estate professionals who grabbed the term “Realtor” and copyrighted it so only their members could use it.

    There are plenty of excellent licensed real estate associates and associate brokers (the terms used in Alberta, other provinces may differ) that are not members of CREA or their local boards (Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB), Edmonton Real Estate Board (EREB), etc.). The fact that they are not allowed to use the term “Realtor” does not make them any less qualified or ethical.

    Linview made the decision to not join CREB or CREA. We feel that the fees charged by these organizations are extremely high and, as a rural real estate brokerage, we simply don’t get any value out of it. Besides not having to pay their fees, and not having to do all their extra paperwork, the only other difference is that we are not allowed to advertise on their website, realtor.ca. We feel this is an unfair trading practice, but during the recent government enquiry into it, they lobbied and won.

    Linview does put some listings on realtor.ca through an associate with CREB that we co-list with. However our research has proven that we get far more interest and enquiries through our ads on kijiji.ca and point2homes.ca than we ever get from realtor.ca.

    So, don’t get fooled by the ads saying that you have to use a “Realtor” to get good ethical service. It is simply not true. A quick check with your local real estate governing body, in Alberta it is the Real Estate Council of Alberta or RECA, will let you know if they are licensed or not. Their bio on their website will let you know about their experience. Get some referrals from them of other clients who have done business with them. Make sure you do your homework to find a real estate associate who knows what you want, what is on the market and is knowledgeable about the kind of property you are looking at buying.

    If you have any questions about this, the lovely people at RECA will be happy to help you. I would also be happy to answer your questions.

    Our reputations do not come from how we talk about ourselves. Our reputations come from how others talk about us.           – Simon Sintek


  • Families and Farming

    It seems like farming is a dying art. With all the big conglomerates taking over so many family farms, and money such a huge driver, doom and gloomers forecast the death of the family farm.

    I disagree. I am seeing a resurgence of interest in farming, and not for the reasons you might think. I see more farms being passed down to kids, with the structure being set up so all the kids can have a say, not just the one running the farm. This is so important, because it keeps the other children, the teachers, lawyers, etc., connected with the farm and the land. It is important to them. And it should be. Here’s why.

    Children these days are very connected with technology, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily. However, they are missing an important part of their education. You can learn a lot of things from books and the internet, but actually feeling and touching and doing is important for the knowledge to take root. Kids go on field trips to learn about these things. How great is it if they have a farm run by their uncle and aunt that they can go visit during holidays and on the weekends! They can learn about animals and crops and the kind of work it takes to get their food to the supermarket. Learning about where their food starts from and the kind of things that affect it’s supply and quality will enable these same children to make informed decisions when they are older as to what they will demand from the organizations and corporations supplying their supermarket.

    There are a number of new initiatives to support and promote farming in Alberta. Here are a couple of my favourites:

    Farmon.com

    Ag More Than Ever

     


  • Planting

    The season of planting is here. Now is when the farmers want the moisture to stop so they can get busy planting and fertilizing. It’s a little on the late side so I know more than one farming operation that will be seeding late into the night and up early to start in the mornings. As long as the rain/snow holds off! It’s a tense, busy time of year in the cropping world!

    In real estate, we are always “planting”. We are always looking to meet new people, improve our reach, maintain our reputation, and basically plant the seeds that will turn into a listing or sale down the road. It’s hard sometimes to see when that will be, and that can be frustrating! Something my father, who has been in the business a very long time, taught me, “You’ll still have to eat next year”. In other words, even though you are forging the relationships now, you might not get the benefit from them for a while and when it comes to fruition, it will be in the right time.

    I often find with real estate professionals that they are looking for the quick turnaround, the quick sale – get it done, move on. Make as much money as you can. The service side of our service industry is sadly lacking. Making money is not nearly so important as cultivating relationships. Because if you cultivate the relationship and treat people with respect and kindness, the money will follow naturally. I firmly believe this and have founded Linview Realty on this principle. We want all our clients and customers to also be our friends.

    “And let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season, ye shall reap if ye faint not.” Galatians 6:9


  • Spring Haz Sprung!

    Well, the spring selling market has been really busy this year, so far. There is even some farmland moving, which hasn’t been common over the last few years. You would think, with interest rates so low, that lot of people would like to buy, and that is true. However, with the good crops the last few years and the low interest banks are giving on savings products, the farmers are just not interested in selling. This has created a farmland bubble, with prices going up and up! We really feel this is temporary, because there is a limited number of people that can afford it at this price, and they are just about done buying. The prices simply don’t make economic sense, especially when the investors have to start charging higher rents to get a modest return.

    It all sounds so complicated, and it is in a way. The whole thing is cause and effect – this happened, so then that happened, and then this…well, you get the drift.

    On the good side, thought, acreages are moving really well. We almost can’t keep up with the demand. The hard part, as always, is getting the financing. The majority of lenders won’t lend money on outbuildings – shops, quonsets, etc. – which are a legitimate part of the value of an acreage. Until the perception of an acreage being simply a house on a big piece of land is changed with the lending community, it will be very hard for sellers to get value for their outbuildings. And it’s very frustrating for us. We just had a deal fall apart because a lot of the value was in a second homesite and the outbuildings, and the lenders wouldn’t give value to the outbuildings and insisted that the second homesite suddenly made this a revenue property (despite the fact that the parents would be living there) and demanded a 20% downpayment. Very frustrating situation for everyone!

    Enjoy your day!


  • Advice for Sellers

    As Barry is fond of pointing out, there are about 3 million real estate professionals in Alberta, but only 15,000 actually have a license! For those of you that are still willing to learn, here’s a few things you should consider when getting ready to sell your property.

    1. Ask questions. It’s important that you know everything about how your property is being marketed and how you can help it sell faster and for more money. In the case of farmland, ask what kind of information is important, where your property is beingadvertised, etc.

    2. Provide information. The more information you can give us, the better we will be able to represent you. In addition, the more information, the more we will be able to help your property “fit” a buyer by suggesting possibilities.

    3. Make sure you choose a real estate professional who is experienced with what you’re selling. If you are selling a poultry farm, look for someone who is experienced with that type of farming operation, etc.

    4. Assemble all the information together that you can. The more paperwork you can give us, the better. Real Property Reports, well report, water analysis, development permits, tax notices, etc. Having this all ready for us when we come to list your place makes our job easier and makes everything go faster. In addition, when it comes time to write an offer, the potential buyers will want to see it.

    5. Look at your property objectively. Do you need to de-clutter? Is that old shed an eyesore? Is the yard a little overgrown? These things make a huge difference to a buyer, both to price and also to whether they will even put in an offer! Linview will provide a professional to come to you and give you advice on how best to get your property ready for sale so you can put your best foot forward.

    These five things can make a different on the speed of the sale and the price. Don’t underestimate these simple things!


  • Now that’s service…Part 1

    I often get the feeling that customer service is a dying art. And I don’t get it! It’s really not that hard to provide a good service to a customer or a client. What is so difficult about smiling and being friendly and helpful? Yet time after time, I experience customer service people who are morose, unhelpful and even rude.

    This is also true of the real estate industry. I have heard many stories of poor service from real estate professionals, and I have had some of these same experiences. Maybe I’m out to lunch, but I see real estate as a service industry, and I feel that our most important job is to be friendly and helpful. After all, we are helping people with some of the largest and most important purchases of their lives! So, why would we not want to be friendly and helpful to make the whole transaction as pleasant as possible?

    The problem, I think, has a lot to do with greed and our current societal focus on “me”. What is in it for me? Why would I be patient and helpful for someone who is buying their first home, spending very little money and looking for something very specific. It’s not worth my time to waste it on someone like that. What a sad and pathetic attitude to have! Everyone is deserving of courteous, friendly and helpful service from their real estate professional.

    Then there is the problem with the way we real estate professionals deal with each other. There seems to be a perception out there that the way “I” do it is the best way, and if you don’t get with “my” program, I have every right to be impatient and rude with you. Really? Our company operates very differently from most real estate companies out there. We do not belong to a board, do not have to use the “standard” 8-page forms, and do not have to share our listings if we choose not to. However, instead of realtors attempting to understand how we work, they expect us to work the way they do. We are told that our policies and procedures are wrong and have even had realtors refuse to show our properties to their clients because they don’t want us to be there for the showing.

    At Linview, we are constantly striving to provide an excellent service that is focused on our clients, and their best interests. We try not to get caught up in “real estate politics”, so to speak. We feel that focusing on doing our job and providing a trustworthy and thorough service is the best way forward. We represent our sellers by being there for every viewing, no matter who else is there, and providing all the information necessary for a buyer to make a decision. We gather data and network with locals to leave no stone unturned in selling a property.

    It’s a lot of work, but we think it’s worth it!