Archive for Buying a Home in Kitchener-Waterloo – Page 3

The Art and Skill of Real Estate Negotiation

There are few things more important in the world of Kitchener-Waterloo real estate than the true skill and art of negotiation, a fact that agents on The Mark Maurer Team know well. “A big part of closing the deal on either side of the table is coming to that point of common ground,” says Mark Maurer, “and that takes some serious negotiation.” A recent Globe and Mail article by Harvey Schachter highlights this fact, and The Mark Maurer Team couldn’t agree more with the points made in his article.

Real Estate Negotiation

Negotiating Real Estate Deals Takes Skill AND Knowledge

The Problematic Mistakes

Lacking confidence

“Often, people feel they need to be loud or in someone’s face to be a good negotiator, and since that’s not their style, they dread what’s ahead . . . But the other party senses that fear in your body language or voice.”

The Mark Maurer Team Take: If you’re not ready to go when you get to the table, the other party is going to sense it immediately. We’ve seen a number of cases where there was probably a lot of wiggle room within the price, but a fear of haggling just prevented the negotiation from going anywhere at all. The simple reality is that it’s more than possible to make your price happen, but it may take some work when you get to the table.

Thinking something is non-negotiable

“It may also come as a surprise that, beyond the flea market, everything is negotiable as well. Too often, we don’t ask – or stop when our first offer is turned down. Instead, assume you can get an alternative to what is on the table.”

The Mark Maurer Team Take: Whether it’s a facet of the contract or just the overall offer placed, everything is up for negotiation when it comes to homes for sale in Kitchener and Waterloo, but you’re never going to know what you might be able to get until you start asking.

Not building relationships first

“We live in a ‘microwave society,’ expecting everything instantly. So when we enter a negotiation, we head for the final conclusion without taking time to build trust.”

The Maurer Team Take : If you don’t spend at least an hour talking before you start discussing price or contract conditions, you’re never going to get what you want. Spend some time getting to know the other party and their needs, and negotiations are far likely to go better.

Not asking for what you want

“It’s critical that you actually name what you are seeking in negotiations. Sounds obvious, but frequently we never come out with it.”

The Maurer Team Take: The other party at the table can’t possibly know what you want from the deal until you’ve actually put it on the table. Unless you’re very specific about your wants and needs during this process, you’re not going to walk away with what you actually desire.

Talking too much

“We’ve all had the experience when we decide to buy something but the salesperson keeps droning on and ends up talking us right out of a deal. Don’t be like that salesperson. Don’t overtalk.”

The Maurer Team Take: A little quiet time for thought and reflection is just part of the process. It can be difficult to listen to your brain screaming in fear that the deal is over because of your last request, but just sit back quietly until it’s necessary to make a counter offer or accept. It will pay off in the end.

Not taking time to document

“Get the deal down in writing. Afterwards, memories and interpretations can differ.”

The Mark Maurer Team Take: Daytime television is made of court shows based on people failing to document one conversation or another. That cannot happen in real estate negotiations. Both parties need to document every change made or it won’t make it into the final deal.

Signing without reading

“This is becoming habitual on the Internet, where we routinely sign forms we don’t understand. It’s a bad habit, and the results in major negotiations can be disastrous. Don’t set yourself up for such a predicament.”

The Mark Maurer Team Take: Real estate is often one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make, so ensure you understand every single clause before you actually end up signing the document. A professional real estate agent can help simplify this process by explaining things to you in language you understand.

You can’t negotiate with a bully or a wild man/woman

“Sometimes you will be negotiating with someone who screams and bullies or presents outlandish positions. In such situations, be willing to walk away.”

The Mark Maurer Team Take: Not everyone is willing or able to negotiate sensibly. Understanding those limits before the negotiations begin is an absolute must. If you get to the table and the other party clearly isn’t going to be reasonable, you need to be ready to walk away.

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by getting a copy of my free eBook here. Also for more great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

If you or someone you know is buying or selling a home in Kitchener, Waterloo or the surrounding area give me a call at 310-SOLD. Or click here for a FREE Market Evaluation of your home.

Taking Control of your Financial Future

How to make more money on your investments

How to make more money on your investments

You’re thinking of the future and how you will pay for your retirement. Maybe you just want to have a small secondary income to pay for vacations, buy that new vehicle or plan your child’s education. What are the types of investments that give the best rate of return and who do you trust to invest your money for you?  You can invest in mutual funds, ETFs, RRSPs and the like but the bottom line is you are rolling the dice and holding your breath hoping for a positive result. In many cases you aren’t even the person earning the most return on your financial investments in the first place. As I’m sure you are aware – you, your spouse, or a financial planner cannot control the stock market. The worst part of this scenario is that you have no control over these types of investments.

The Good News

I have some good news for you that will provide you with a great deal of comfort: you are the best person to invest your hard-earned money. You don’t need to study financial planning for months, read the financial section of The Globe and Mail every day, or watch the stock market with an eagle-eye looking to spot trends. Take charge of your financial future by being the person who is in control of your investments. This is entirely possible by investing in real estate in the form of rental properties.

One of the first things you need to know is what the qualifications are for a mortgage for investment purposes.

Rental Property Program

Borrower Qualifications. The majority of lenders will allow you to finance up to 5 rental properties (that are not owner-occupied). Unfortunately there are fewer lenders who will accept you to finance this many student properties. However, if you meet their criteria, Magenta Mortgage Investment Corporation will work with you.

Rental Income Confirmation. In order to qualify for a mortgage for an investment property, you will need to confirm the income you will receive from your rental property through the following: current signed lease agreement with your tenants; a copy of your T1 General (your personal income tax return); and a copy of your Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency. Lenders will allow you to use anywhere from 50% to 100% of rental income as part of the income confirmation portion of your application. You are more likely to receive an allowance for 100% of the rental income if you have a minimum credit score of 680 and if income is validated using a two-year average based on lease agreements OR income for new or existing units can be confirmed via fair market rent from an appraisal.

Down Payment. The minimum down payment that lenders will accept for a rental property is 20%. Gifted down payments are acceptable as well. The maximum loan-to-value on units where you don’t yet have tenants is 65%. This means you will need a 35% down payment.

Loan Amount. If you live in Metro Toronto, Metro Calgary or Metro Vancouver, the maximum amount that you can borrow for investment properties is $750,000. The maximum amount for the rest of Canada is $600,000.

Qualifying Property Types. Properties that you can mortgage for investment purposes include condominiums or non-owner occupied houses/dwellings that are anywhere from one to four units. Lenders will always require an appraisal for these properties.

Next Steps for Investors

If you are thinking investing in real estate could be for you, there are steps you can take on your own to start the process. First of all, apply for a mortgage. When you are pre-approved by a lender it puts you in a strong negotiating position when you find the property you want to purchase. Additionally, a pre-approved mortgage locks in your rate for 90-120 days. This is a good idea if an interest rate increase is looming. If the interest rate decreases between the time you were approved and your purchase date, you will receive the lower of the two rates. Keep this in mind: two weeks prior to closing, the lender will run another credit check on you (and any additional co-applicants) and conduct an employment verification. If there have been any changes to your employment status it can affect your mortgage application. Right before you are going to close on the purchase of an investment property is not the ideal time to make major purchases (e.g. car, furniture) as this could affect your credit check.

If you need further convincing about the stability and value of real estate investing, do some preliminary calculations about the rate of return. You can start with the capitalization rate (or “cap rate”). The cap rate (which is the ratio of a property’s net income to its purchase price) allows you as an investor to compare properties by evaluating a rate of return on the investment made in the property. Here is how you calculate the cap rate.

If you want a further in-depth idea of what it takes to successfully invest in real estate, you can call our Investment Specialist Andrej Micic at 310-SOLD or email him at andrej@maurerteam.com.

Andrej Micic, Investment Specialist

Andrej Micic, Investment Specialist

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

The 3 Pillars of Protection for Home Buyers and Sellers

PILLAR #1: Knowledge

Ongoing Training. Once Real Estate Professionals in Ontario complete the courses they need to enter the industry, they must keep their skills sharp through continuing education. This is a requirement to keep their licenses active.

Skills and Experience. A Real Estate Professional can help you navigate the process: from identifying properties of interest, to deciphering paperwork, negotiating on price, and everything in between.

PILLAR #2:  Insurance

Peace of Mind. Your deposit will be held in a trust account and insured by the Real Estate Council of Ontario. This means your hard-earned money is safe. Real Estate Professionals must also hold Errors and Omissions Insurance to pay for damages and legal costs arising from claims related to a real estate transaction.

PILLAR #3:  Professional Standards

Professionalism. Real Estate Professionals in the province of Ontario have an obligation to treat you with fairness, honesty and integrity through the buying and selling process.

Consequences and Discipline. In the unlikely event that something goes wrong, the Real Estate Council of Ontario will investigate your complaint and when necessary, take steps to hold the Real Estate Professional accountable.

For more information please visit: www.reco.on.ca or call our office at 519.885.0200. For home selling tips you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Tips for Single Female Home Buyers

 

buying a home in Kitchener-Waterloo

Dreaming of Owning Your Own Home?

There was a time when homebuyers were a predictable bunch as far as demographics were concerned. Most were married; many had children. All of the agents on my team could often tell just by our buyers’ ages and the ages of their children what kind of home they would purchase. Single buyers used to be rare and single female buyers were practically nonexistent. That time is over!

Single women aren’t waiting for husbands and children to dictate their home ownership goals anymore. They are becoming homeowners in greater numbers than ever before. Today, more than 25% of Canada’s home buyers are single.

Why should a single person buy a home?

Buying a home will give you the space and privacy you want along with a sense of personal pride in your home that you just don’t get when you’re renting. You have more control over your space too. You can paint, decorate and alter the space in whatever way you see fit (as long as it conforms to local codes, of course). It’s also a sound investment that even your parents will approve J

It only makes sense to buy in today’s market. If you’re currently renting you already know that rent isn’t cheap in Kitchener-Waterloo. If you’re paying between $1000 and $1500 each month in rent, you could feasibly be carrying a mortgage of around $250,000 instead of supporting your landlord’s real estate investment. Having a mortgage builds equity; it’s an investment in your own future.

Interest rates are still affordably low and there are more options than ever for single buyers. Single-family homes of the right size, despite the moniker, are a classic choice. Houses with rental potential are particularly popular since becoming a landlord is smart way to get part (or all) of your mortgage covered. Condos in Waterloo Region are also a good way to break into the real estate market without as many maintenance woes. You can resell a condo when you want a change or retain it as an investment/rental property.

As a single buyer, you’ve never had so many choices. Banks are much more open to lending to single buyers now than in the past so it’s a great time to make home ownership a priority. If you are single and looking to buy, you need to be as educated as possible about the process and I’m going to help you with that.

Take a look at our Buying Guide to begin your home ownership education. Here’s one very important thing you should know right away: as the buyer, having a real estate agent represent you costs you nothing. The seller is the one who pays the real estate fees. Begin realizing your dream of owning your own home by choosing a Realtor who will represent you, ensuring all your needs are met, and protect you as you purchase. 

Tips for Single Female Home Buyers

If you are single and a considering buying a home, there are a few things you should consider a little more closely than if you were buying in tandem with another person. Since you will be the individual solely responsible for the home, you need to be even more careful about these key points.

  • Know what you can afford. Again, you will be the only one making the mortgage payments. It’s even more critical that you know exactly how much home you can afford. As the only person responsible for the mortgage payments every month, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Don’t count on your lender to dictate to you how much you can afford. Calculate the costs of your lifestyle and decide for yourself how much you are willing to commit to your mortgage payment.
  • Understand the whole cost of ownership. In considering how much you can afford, don’t forget the details. Home ownership is more than the mortgage payment. You will also have taxes, insurance and maintenance costs to consider. Your Realtor will be able to help you consider and calculate these costs.
  • Set up an emergency fund. Home repairs can occur suddenly and some of them are costly. It’s a good idea to put money aside in an emergency fund for these unexpected emergencies.
  • Protect your investment. Insurance coverage is no joking matter when you are a homeowner. You will definitely want to consult your insurance agent to inquire about how home ownership will change your coverage needs. Click here to read an article we published about what insurance covers if you have water damage. What coverage should you have on the structure itself? Do you need liability insurance on your home? Outside of coverage for your new home you will want to find out – who will pay my mortgage if I become injured or disabled? Make an appointment with your insurance agent or broker before your home purchase and be sure all of your questions are answered so that you protect your income and your home.
  • Avoid costly mistakes. Don’t rush into your home buying decision and don’t compromise your budget. Mistakes in the process of purchasing a home can be financially devastating; take your time and get expert real estate advice throughout the process.

This is an excellent time to be a single homeowner. Read over our Buying Guide and give us a call to start making your home ownership dreams come true.

For home selling tips you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Buying and Selling Homes in Waterloo, Ontario

REAL ESTATE IN WATERLOO ONTARIO

REAL ESTATE IN WATERLOO ONTARIO

 

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial moves any one will ever make in their lifetime. Full of opportunities and anticipation, this decision is majorly exciting because it’s a chance to pursue your dreams, establish sturdy roots and take the first step to your journey to financial security. Ontario is one of the best places to be purchasing or selling property and assets for a variety of reasons.

Advanced Land Registration Systems

Ontario has one of the most advanced and updated land registration systems in the world today. The titling is relatively simpler to transfer or search. There are even opportunities where you can transfer titles electronically even though some areas still hold traditional methods dear. This makes the whole process extremely easy when compared to other locations. The minute details and tedious technicalities become easier to handle when you have a modernized system like in Waterloo or Kitchener, Ontario.

Availability of Title Insurance Policies

At least four individual insurers are available for title insurance in Ontario along with the conservative method of solicitor certification. This effectively provides wider protection at much lower costs and is very useful when it comes to protection against land fraud.

Competent Professionals

Ontario bankers, mortgage brokers, real estate lawyers and home inspectors servicing the property sector are all well regulated professionals that have spent a valuable amount of time in the property industry. There are obviously also some unscrupulous agents as well, so you need to make the right selection.

Reasonable Costs

The expenditure of selling, purchasing and owning existing property is comparatively much more reasonable than any other place. The mortgage rates have been astoundingly low for at least three years now and the lenders are usually paid for searching for the most competitive mortgage rates for the home buyer. Since there is a lot of competition, the lawyer’s fee and other reimbursements are much more affordable.

Protection Plan for New Property Buyers

For protection against corrupt vendors, Ontario has a protection plan that offers new buyers security, called Tarion. The plan provides guarantees to buyers that secure them against a variety of problems that may occur.

Mortgage Insurance Programs

These special programs have been designed to aid customers with a small or no down payment at the time of purchasing a home. These programs allow them to qualify for mortgages that they would not be able to obtain otherwise.

For Non-Canadian Residents

There are absolutely no hidden taxes or penalties for U.S. or non-Canadian home buyers in Ontario. If the buyer is not a resident of the country yet, there may be capital gain taxes that require being paid.

Thousands of people have bought homes in Kitchener and waterloo and found the process extremely easy and satisfying. It’s as simple as one, two, and three.

  • Choose a property that fits your price range in Ontario
  • Find an offer to sign that offers protection to you and acceptable for vendor
  • Close the deal and move in

It is necessary that you research beforehand to get informed about how the process works and find yourself a competent team of inspectors, brokers, and lenders that can help you with any issues that may arise when you venture out to purchase property in Waterloo and Kitchener, Ontario. For more home selling tips you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

 

 

Watch out for the top 10 most common buying and selling mistakes

Top 10 Home Buying and Selling Mistakes

Top 10 Home Buying and Selling Mistakes

It’s worth the effort to learn about the home buying and selling process; doing so could save you time, stress and money. One way to protect yourself is to learn from the mistakes of others.

“RECO is responsible for protecting home buyers and sellers, and we’ve seen too many Ontarians fall victim to easily avoidable buying and selling hazards,” says RECO’s Registrar Joseph Richer. “Being mindful of these issues can help the process go a lot smoother.” With that in mind, here are the most common buying and selling pitfalls, and tips on how to avoid them:

Hiring the first salesperson you meet

While you may decide to work with the first real estate professional you meet, we encourage you to meet with a few different representatives before settling on one. Make sure you feel comfortable with them and their approach to the process. Also, be sure to get references and contact them to learn about their experience with the salesperson. Before signing a representation agreement, it’s a good idea to use the ‘Registrant Search’ tool at the top of RECO’s website (www.reco.on.ca) to check the status of their registration and see whether they have been subject to disciplinary action.

Not making your expectations clear with your real estate professional

Working with a real estate professional is a partnership, so communication is the key to success. It’s important to have a mutual understanding about what you’re looking for in a home, what elements you would consider to be ‘deal-breakers’, and what services the brokerage will be responsible for. Make sure you discuss what services you expect them to provide, and get it in writing.

Failing to read and understand forms and contracts

It can be tempting to speed the process along by signing forms that you haven’t read. After all, nobody really likes reading the fine print. But taking the time to understand what you’re signing can avoid a lot of problems later on. For example, you don’t want to find out that you’re on the hook for a six month listing agreement to sell your home if you only want your house on the market for three months. Make sure all the blanks on the form are filled in before you sign it, and make sure you get a copy of whatever you sign.

Allowing emotions to overtake common sense

When you fall in love with a property, it can be hard to walk away. Stick to your budget and be aware of the risks of forgoing a home inspection for a chance to win a bidding war. Making your offer conditional on a home inspection is a smart decision because a qualified home inspector, engineer or contractor can identify underlying problems with a home’s major systems, like heating and electrical. Skipping an inspection is a gamble because you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to a much more costly problem later on.

Assuming everything is included

Don’t assume that the stove, washing machine and dryer or other items are included with the sale. The seller may want to take the dishwasher with them, and the hot water tank might be under a rental contract that you’ll be required to take over. The best way to protect against any surprises is to detail all the items (known as chattels) you expect to be included in your written offer. In the offer, you can also include a clause requiring the seller to pay out any outstanding leases on the home’s major systems.

Forgetting about what’s within the walls

The hardwood floors, stained glass windows and walk-in closet are appealing features, but the insulation, wiring and plumbing are just as important when you’re evaluating a property. Ask your real estate professional to look into the age of the home’s systems and if there have been any upgrades. If extensive renovations have been done, your real estate professional can also help determine if the appropriate permits were issued.

Not doing your research

If you’re concerned about buying a home with a troubled past, a simple Internet search for the address can go a long way. This is also something you can ask the neighbours about.

Forgetting about what’s outside the walls

When you buy a home, you’re also buying a place in a community. Visit the neighbourhood at different times of the day to see if the surroundings fit your lifestyle. Is it too noisy, or not vibrant enough? The only way to find out is to spend some time exploring the area, talking to neighbours and researching the locations of amenities like grocery stores and banks.

Making verbal agreements

Verbal agreements aren’t a problem, until they’re a problem. Putting everything in writing forces both parties to be clear about their expectations and provides a record that can prevent disputes later on.

Underestimating closing costs

The price paid for a home is just one of many costs associated with the purchase. Related costs, such as land transfer taxes, title insurance and a home inspection, can really add up and take an unexpected chunk out of your budget. There are also the final touches – like a fresh coat of paint, some window coverings or a new appliance – that you may want to do to make the place feel like your home.

While these tips will certainly help, the most important advice is to work with a registered real estate professional.

“Registered brokers and salespersons provide a great deal of knowledge and expertise about the buying and selling process, along with specific knowledge about neighbourhoods and local issues,” says Richer. “They can also provide crucial help in avoiding these hazards.”

This article was first published on reco.on.ca and shared here with permission.

 

Are You Financially Ready to Buy a Home?

Financial Preparedness

Financial Preparedness

So many of your hopes and dreams rest on finding the perfect place to live, a setting for all those plans you’ve made. Your dream home could be a luxury condo in Uptown Waterloo or a rustic rural homestead. Either way, you’ll need to be financially ready to buy that dream home.

Determining your financial readiness is a crucial stage in the home buying process. For some homebuyers, that process may only last a few weeks but for others it can last much longer. Every journey to home ownership is different. The first step is always asking yourself, “Am I financially ready to buy a home?”

Some homebuyers will be ready to call a Realtor as soon as they have a few thousand dollars saved up. While calling a Realtor is a great place to begin your journey, having a down payment is not all there is to buying a home. A good Realtor can educate, guide and assist you but you’ll likely need more than a small down payment to be truly “ready.” There are also online tools and calculators that will help you assess what you can reasonable afford to purchase. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s website has some calculators and tools that will give you a better perspective on your debt-to-income ratio, the estimated upfront costs of a home purchase, as well as mortgage payments and types.

We have put together a few items for you to consider as you determine your financial readiness.

Down Payment

Of course the down payment is no small matter and should be your #1 financial priority. Saving for your down payment takes discipline and effort – you can do it! This is a good starting point towards home ownership. Your down payment is the portion you will pay towards your home that does not come from your mortgage loan. This is the portion you will have to have in a readily available form (like a checking or savings account) when you close on the purchase of your dream home.

The size of this payment will vary depending on the mortgage issuer you choose and the price of the home. Most mortgage companies would like to see you make a down payment of at least 5% of the home’s selling price before they will issue a traditional mortgage. You may be able to make a smaller percentage payment if you purchase mortgage loan insurance (through CMHC, Canada Guaranty or Genworth) which will raise your monthly payments slightly.

Deposit

When potential buyers make an offer on a home, a deposit is required to assure the buyer that they are indeed quite serious about buying that particular home. The size of the deposit will vary depending on the situation. If the buyer backs out of the deal, he may lose this deposit unless his contract states that the deposit is contingent upon certain factors such as findings from the home inspection or securing financing. Deposits are usually rolled into the down payment at closing.

Fees

A home purchase will require you to pay certain fees above and beyond the down payment on the home. Here a few fees to make yourself aware of:

  • Appraisal fee. Paid out-of-pocket by the buyer, and appraisal is often required by the lender. This is a valuation of the home (including its features, recent comparable sales and recent market conditions) by an independent party.
  • Home Inspection Fee. Your lender most often requires a home inspection and this is an item you should absolutely include in your budget. An inspection tells you the condition of the home including all of its major systems. The inspector can alert you to any problems before you buy.
  • Mortgage Broker Fees. If you have chosen to use a broker to help you find the most favorable mortgage, his fees will likely be due at closing.
  • Pre-paid taxes. A prorated portion of the year’s property taxes may be due as soon as your close on a new home.
  • Estoppel Certificate Fee (for condos only). Also called a Status Certificate, this certificate outlines the financial and legal condition of a condo corporation so you can determine if a unit is a safe financial risk.
  • You lender will require your to have property insurance in place as soon as the home is in your possession on closing day.
  • Closing costs. There are numerous fees due at closing that are collectively called “closing costs”. Underwriters’ fees, title searches and insurance, survey fees and origination fees all fall under this heading.
  • Moving costs. Don’t forget to include the cost of a mover. Even if you plan a DIY project (renting a truck and packing it yourselves), get a quote ahead of time to ensure you have put aside funds for the fun!

This list is by no means exhaustive but you can see that you will need a little more than your down payment in hand by closing day.

Once the Home is Yours

A home will require more than a monthly mortgage payment. There will be other costs involved so be sure your budget can handle these added costs. Taxes are a major consideration and so is basic maintenance.

Don’t let this list of costs discourage you from your dream of home ownership! Talk to a financial counselor or a Realtor on The Mark Maurer Team and learn what it will take for you to be ready to buy a home. You might be surprised that you are in a better position that you imagined!

 

5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Realtor in Waterloo Region

Ask Questions First!

We got the thumbs up as the corporate sponsor of The World’s Largest Bake Sale in Waterloo

Joseph Richer, registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario suggests, “It’s always a good idea to meet with at least a few different real estate professionals before selecting the one you’d like to work with.” Before you start making appointments with Realtors in Waterloo Region, you will want to put together a few key questions you want answered. I have put together the questions I feel are the most important. You can start with this list and add some of your own too!

How Much Real Estate Experience Do You Have?

How many years a Realtor is in business is relative, but more important to know is – how long have they been in business in your area? Some Real Estate Agents specialize in specific types of properties or key geographical areas (neighbourhoods within a region). When you meet with agents, be sure to ask them how long they have been an agent in Waterloo Region and whether or not they have sold homes in your neighbourhood. Chances are if you are dealing with a long-time professional Real Estate Agent like Mark Maurer, he will not only have sold homes in your neighbourhood but even on your street!

How Do You Market My Property to Potential Buyers in Kitchener-Waterloo?

Real estate marketing is expensive and requires biggie budgets. A real estate company like The Mark Maurer Team that has been in business for over 20 years is an established business with a solid marketing strategy in place. Successful Real Estate Teams know the kind of monthly marketing budget it takes to get results for their clients and make allowances for this in their expenditures. Oftentimes a one-person Realtor simply doesn’t have the budget to allow for a wide-range of different types of effective online and offline marketing methods.

For starters, I employ 2 full-time assistants to ensure that your home is submitted to the MLS service as soon as I walk your file into my office after I meet with you. I market your home in Waterloo Region’s premier real estate magazine, Homes Plus which engages 25,000 readers every month. This magazine has targeted distribution in over 850 locations in Waterloo Region. Their digital edition drives traffic to the listings (your home) on our website as well. I have a significant budget allocated to online marketing which means featuring your home on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and in blog posts written specifically about your neighbourhood or even your property. I use a variety of paid online marketing methods to drive traffic to my website to make sure that there is a constant flow of new website visitors viewing the listings on my website. Online and offline, I got you covered.

If I Hire You, What Services Do You Include?

You benefit by hiring my Team of Full-Time Real Estate Specialists which includes a Listing Agents, Buyer Agents, Customer Care Specialists, Computer Technicians, Online Marketing Team, and Legal Council. No other agents selling homes in Kitchener-Waterloo operate this way. You get our entire Team of Specialists for the same price as hiring a single agent! We maintain a full-time Customer Care Department. One of the number one keys to a successful sale of your home is feedback. We have two full-time Customer Care Specialists who follow up with every single showing of your home and provide you with immediate feedback. With The Mark Maurer Team Guaranteed Home Selling System, you are kept completely and fully informed during the entire home selling process.

What are the Commissions I Will Need to Pay? Are There Other Costs?

I know you’ve heard the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.” If a Real Estate Agent comes into your home and promises to sell your home at the highest price for the lowest commission, you’ve got someone desperate on your hands. I know from over 20 years in the business, I can’t possibly get your home the exposure it needs to ensure we get the best offers (which translates into more money for you) if I can’t afford to spend the money to market it properly. I need to get your home in front of as many quality eyeballs as possible and that my friend, costs some serious bucks (as I explained above). You get our entire Team of Specialists for the same price as hiring a single agent. There are no other costs.

Can You Provide References?

Always, always ask for references! I can’t understate this enough. There are Real Estate Agents who make themselves look good on their websites or in print marketing but they haven’t sold a home in 2 months! Or even worse, 2 out of the last 6 deals they did left some very unhappy customers behind. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from my own clients who were using another Realtor before me (unsuccessfully) and couldn’t get their phone calls or emails returned. I don’t mean “couldn’t get them returned in a timely manner,” I mean they just didn’t return their calls period! Every aspect of real estate is time sensitive which means that the various things that pop up with your listing in the run of a day needs to be dealt with now. It keeps me on my toes but many agents drop the ball and lose out at the detriment of their clients because they simply did not make themselves accessible. I have success stories from clients on my website and there are many more too – probably right in your neighbourhood. Don’t be afraid to ask me for them!

If you want to know why you should hire me, read this. I will offer you my Guaranteed Home Selling System at no extra cost.

Which Home is Right for You?

The Mark Maurer Team

How to buy the right home for YOU!

 There was a time when the housing market was fairly one-dimensional. There were apartments and houses that you could rent or … you could buy a home. Most homes were built with couples or families in mind that included a master bedroom, the children’s rooms, a bath or two, the kitchen and a living area. You didn’t get that many choices. Today, the market is jam-packed with options that meet the needs of so many different buyers. All you have to do is decide which home is right for you!

No matter who you claim as part of your household, there is a type of home that will fit you just right. From massive to tiny, grand to humble, urban to suburban to rural – there’s something in the Kitchener-Waterloo market that can fill your needs. There are plenty of choices and sifting through them all can be daunting. Research is always a good place to start and so is making an appointment with a Realtor.

You don’t have to be ready to buy today to begin a relationship with a good Realtor. Any Real Estate Agent worth contracting is more than happy to help you start planning and making choices well before you’re ready to initial here, here and here and sign at the bottom! A reliable, trustworthy Realtor makes an excellent guide through all the stages of your home search. He’ll have the knowledge you may not and the experience to help you figure out what you really need in a home.

Homes have many names these days. It’s not all about the traditional “house” that your childhood crayon drawings likely featured. Here are just a few of the options you may have in your area.

Single Family Detached

This is the house of your coloring books. It may be surrounded by a lawn or garden or it may be only a sliver of air away from the next house, but it stands alone. Standing apart from other structures on its own lot, it shares no walls or support structure with another building.

This type of home offers a degree of privacy for the owner, which is often on the “pros” list. However, on the “cons” side of the list, it is often the more expensive property. Privacy comes with a price.

Single Family Semi-detached

Imagine two single-family detached homes pushed together. That’s a semi-detached home. They typically share one wall but, aside from that, have few differences from a detached home. In urban settings, the distance between detached homes is so small that they are hardly distinguishable from a semi-detached.

Privacy is somewhat less in this style of home due to the shared wall. However, it’s not an insurmountable obstacle. With good insulation and in some cases – soundproofing, it can be overcome. You also have fewer choices for renovation or expansion and you’ll probably be working within the home’s current footprint. On the plus side, this can also be a more budget-friendly choice.

Duplex

A duplex is two “homes” stacked one above the other. They have separate entrances and the units are usually completely isolated from one another. Some may have a shared space like a basement or laundry.

Some of the same issues apply here as in the semi-detached. You probably can’t expand your living space and you may hear your neighbours since one’s floor will be the other’s ceiling. This can be an interesting investment property if you’re interested in becoming a landlord. You can live in one section and rent out the other!

Townhouse 

A row of several single-family homes, all attached at the sides, can correctly be called either a townhouse or a rowhouse. They may be a single story or two-stories (which are called stacked townhouses). Found in groups and sometimes part of a larger complex, townhouses can be grouped in numbers from small to very large.

A townhouse requires a little less maintenance than other single-family homes. The grounds are often tended by a service or hired team as part of your homeowners’ fees. You may have a private outdoor area or patio to make your own as well. Since the homes are so close together and all but the end units share walls on both sides, there is less privacy here and zero chance of expanding the space.

Condominium

A condo is a set of rooms enclosed in a larger building. Like an apartment that you own, you own everything on the inside of your front door but the halls, grounds, lobby and common spaces (like the laundry room, roof and the sewage system) are co-owned by all the residents.

Condos offer a nearly maintenance-free lifestyle. You only have to care for what is within your unit and some condos may offer assistance even there. Some condos offer lavish amenities. You can find building with such extravagant features as fitness facilities, bowling alleys, swimming pools, spas, rooftop clubs, private chefs and room service, valet parking and 24-hour concierge services. Shared space means less privacy; you aren’t likely to be the only one using the pool at any given time.

Which one is right for you? That depends on a lot of factors like how many people will be in your household (both now and in the future), your desired lifestyle and the neighborhood you love. Think it through and then talk to your Realtor. You’ll soon find your own personal dream home.

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Starting the Home Buying Process

The Home Buying Process in Kitchener-Waterloo

The Home Buying Process in Kitchener-Waterloo

If you’ve done all the prep work including: making the emotional commitment to buying a home in Waterloo Region; checking and confirming your financial situation; and finding a trustworthy Realtor, it’s time to start the home buying process. This exciting journey will lead you to your dream of using your hard-earned money to create a home of your own with all the benefits that come with ownership. If you’ve decided that you’re not quite ready yet, you can still take a few of the first steps towards ownership. A good place to start is with our Home Buyers Guide and this blog post.

Finding a Realtor

Choosing your Realtor should be one of the very first things you do in your home buying process. Not just anyone will do in helping you find that cozy dream home!  Choose based on recommendations from trusted friends and family members, the Realtor’s proven track record and reputation and his or her expertise in the neighborhood where you’d like to live. Your Realtor will be your guide and your best friend in this journey so choose wisely.

Decision-Making

One of the first steps towards home ownership is deciding what to buy. This is a step you can start taking well before you are ready to sit at a closing table. Start thinking about your “must have” list and what things are negotiable. Ponder on these points:

Size. Square footage is only the beginning. Consider the number of rooms and the way the space is allotted to each floor.

Neighborhood. You should do plenty of research on your desired neighborhood(s), find the one you want and stick to that plan. (You can change many things about a home but location isn’t one of them!)

Property type. Choose what kind of home you want from the numerous options in the market. Condo, townhome, detached, semi-detached, new build or existing – you’ve got a lot to consider! For more detailed information on this, check out our article Which Home is Right for You?

Features. Are you crazy for kitchens or bazooka for baths?  Choose the features you just can’t live without but keep your expectations in line with your budget. And remember, some features can be added later.

Browsing

Browsing can be both the most fun and most dangerous part of the process. It’s fun to drive around neighborhoods and tour homes, imagining your new life in each one. You may want to beware of touring without a guide. You should have the benefit of your Realtor so you don’t fall hopelessly in love with something far out of your reach and you never know which house will steal your heart. Your Realtor will help keep your eyes focused on homes that are within your means to purchase.  If you’re seriously in the market to buy, go beyond merely looking at homes from the outside (or online). Take a walk through the neighborhood and chat with some of the people who live there. Ask about safety, what the neighbors are like, what problems are evident and what the best and worst things about living there might be. Here is something that is key: visit your desired neighbourhood during the daytime AND the nighttime. Check out the morning and evening commute traffic and odd times during the day when you could be busiest coming and going from your home. Look at local public records for break-ins or other types of crimes nearby.

Financing

If you’re starting this process, you’ve probably already started getting your finances in order. (If you haven’t, you should!)  Start saving  if you haven’t done so yet because you’ll need a bit more than just the down payment.  You’ll also need to begin looking at mortgages and finding a mortgage broker. Getting preapproved for a mortgage is a smart move and tells sellers you’re a serious and qualified buyer. Remember that prequalified and preapproved are two different things. To be prequalified means the lender has looked at some basic information you supplied and has given you an idea of what you may or may not be able to afford. To be prequalified means the lender has done a more thorough examination (including your credit rating) and told you just how much they are willing to lend you.  Prequalified is good place to start and pre approval is even better. Your seller will have the assurance that you have a lender ready and waiting and you won’t be costing them time or money once you make an offer. This little detail may make the difference between having an offer accepted or seeing your perfect home slip through your fingers.

Making an Offer

If you’ve found the perfect home in the right neighborhood, it’s time to make an offer. Your Realtor will research the home and recent comparable sales in the area along with current market trends to help you decide on a fair price for the home. She or he will also negotiate and be an advocate for you until a final price is reached.  Your offer could be declined, accepted or countered and your Real Estate Agent will be your best help in each situation. If it’s declined, he’ll help you decide whether to make another offer or move on to another home. If there is a counter-offer, he or she will help you decide how to negotiate from there. Once your offer is accepted, your Realtor will walk you through the next stages of the process including the home inspection and closing. There’s more to know about the home buying process so look through our Home Buyers Guide or give us a call at 519-885-0200. You might decide the time to start your journey to home ownership will start today!