Below are some questions I answered for an online real estate blog. There is some useful information in here for anyone thinking of buying or selling in Whistler or Pemberton.
1. What kinds of properties do you mostly deal with?
I live in a resort town, Whistler, British Columbia, so most of the properties are second homes. They range from $50,000 quartershare properties to condos & townhouses or luxurious multi-million dollar chalets. I have also been able to create a niche in the market, helping many local first time buyers achieve their goal of owning in Whistler or Pemberton.
2. What are the differences between selling a family home, a condominium, a
commercial property etc?
There isn’t much difference as an agent whether I’m selling a chalet versus a condo or townhome other than the due diligence required. For a chalet you have to visit municipal hall and for strata complexes you need to review the strata documentation. The big difference is for the buyer, there is a lot more maintenance and upkeep for a chalet than there is for a condo or townhouse. Maintenance issues can play an important role in a buying decision if it is a second home purchase so helping the client understand the benefits/drawbacks of each is important.
3. Briefly, describe to us what a typical day in the life is like?
That’s one thing I really like about real estate, no two days are the same. Each day is different because you never know what might come up. Someone may write an offer on one of my listings or a buyer could walk into the office and want to see properties that afternoon. My schedule has to be pretty flexible to accommodate whatever the day may bring. Each day usually has about 4-6 hours dedicated to answering emails, returning phone calls and doing paperwork. There is never a shortage of things I could do to improve my business. Multi-tasking and prioritizing are very important.
4. What are some misconceptions people have about real estate agents?
Well, I suppose that depends on where you live but in Whistler it’s that we ski all day and answer calls from the chairlift. Some agents may do that but they won’t be in the business for long, it’s very competitive. Another common one is that we only need to sell a house or two a year to earn a living.
Also before we ever deal with a seller or a buyer there is a great deal of preparation that needs to be done. I always ensure that I am giving my clients all the information that they will need to make an informed decision about a real estate transaction. The biggest misconception overall is that what we do as Realtors is not as easy as it looks.
5. What is the most common misconception people have about the home buying process?
I not sure there is one common misconception; I think it really depends on their level of experience in buying and selling homes. I often find that first time buyers underestimate how stressful and emotional the buying process can am. And for second home owners that finding the right property will take time.
6. How long do you find it usually takes for someone to go from deciding they are going to buy a new home until closing the deal?
In a resort town where people are buying a second home that they ‘want’ but don’t ‘need’ the process can be two weeks or two years. I would say the average with our current market conditions it would be 6 months to a year.
7. What aspects of home buying do you see most buyers struggling with?
Realizing that you may not find your dream home, most properties will require some sort of compromise unless you have a very large budget.
We often joke about it as ‘having champagne taste on a beer budget’.
How can this be avoided?
Educating the buyer beforehand on what they expect to get in their price range.
8. What do you think about the home buying process moving online in some ways, for example like Streetseed.com where you can browse homes by certain criteria before going to check the house out?
I think it’s great; buyers are more knowledgeable now and already have an idea about what they like/dislike, what different neighbourhoods are known for, etc. At the end of the day nothing can replace the actual feel of the home, neighbourhood and location which can only be experienced first hand.
9. What are the main criteria that home buyers should set out before they look at homes?
Price range, number of bedrooms, neighbourhood, amenities and compromises they are willing to make.
10. What is your perspective on Canada’s current real estate market?
It varies so much by town, region and province that it’s impossible to give an accurate response. In Whistler, the market is stable; we have a consistent number of sales each quarter. The number of sales and total dollar volume is down from the height of the market in 2008.
11. How do you think Canada’s housing market will look in one year?
Again to comment on what I know, I predict Whistler’s market to be pretty similar in the year to come.
12. What are the essentials that a real estate agent can offer to buyers, renters and sellers that individuals can’t take care of on their own?
Comparables sales history, local market knowledge, education on property types, an unbiased third party skilled at negotiating, previous experience dealing with any complications that arise, thorough due diligence about the potential property, handling the transaction details (phone calls/emails/paperwork), implementing a successful marketing strategy, establishing fair market value for a property, and generally make the buying/selling process as seamless and stress free as possible.