Understanding Real Estate Commissions
Let's pretend for a moment, your Edmonton home sells for $400,000 and you are paying 7% on the first $100,000 and 3% on the balance of the purchase price. The total commissions payable would be $16,000 plus GST. To understand, how much money real estate agents actually make, we need to look at how agents real estate commissions really work.
First - Half of the commission is given to the buyer's agent. Out of the buying side, the buyer's agent does not receive the total $8000. Depending on how the agent splits their commissions between a team or office split, many buyers agents in Edmonton will receive half of the remuneration of $4000. Out of this sum, the buyers' agent will have to pay their monthly desk fee, vehicle maintenance, gas, and insurance. There are also annual licencing fees for Edmonton Realtors, buyer closing gifts, title searches, other fees associated with selling a property and of course Revenue Canadas share.
The other half of the commission goes to the listing agent. Out of the listing side, the Realtor usually has more expenses than a buyers agent including the cost of marketing the property, (which is not cheap!), the cost of hiring a professional photographer, the cost of accurately measuring the property, cost of a third company putting up and removing real estate signs, key boxes, promotional items, website maintenance, property-specific webpages, etc. Same as the buyers' agents, the listing agent also pays for annual licencing fees for Realtors, seller closing gifts, title searches, other fees associated with selling a property and Revenue Canadas portion of the commission.
There are real estate companies in Edmonton who will charge a flat fee or a lesser commission to put your home on MLS, and other Realtors will charge a higher fee. Understanding how much money Edmonton Realtors make will depend on how many homes they sell and how much commission they receive on each property sold.
The net commissions left for the real estate agent is what they get to take home to feed, shelter and clothe their families. Today, in Edmonton's soft real estate market, many agents are now changing companies to a "lesser fee structure" company due to the cost of doing business. Many of these agents can no longer afford to be a Realtor, simply because they are not doing enough business, don't want to work as hard to earn a higher commission, are licenced only to buy and sell real estate for themselves or are on their way out of the business.
Now that you have a better understanding of how commissions work and how much Realtors actually net, let's pretend again for a moment, you are a real estate agent. Although it is against the Realtors Code of Conduct not to show properties based on commissions, it can be a buyers discretion not to view them (read more about buyer brokerage agreements). If you were a Realtor in Edmonton, would you show a property with a lesser commission?
In Alberta, all real estate commissions are negotiable, up or down and when hiring a real estate agent to sell your Edmonton home, a few thousand dollars in real estate commissions can make the difference between selling and not selling your home - Choose your Realtor based on the value they offer and interview more than one. Do they have the tools to market your home? Are they giving you a discount based on services which will be eliminated? Are they asking for money upfront, prior to doing anything? How is their internet presence?
Always interview a few real estate agents, ask lots of questions especially about their marketing plan and how they attract buyers. Find out what they have to offer. Not all Realtors are the same, each agent is different. If you use a Realtor or a real estate company to sell your home, there will be a fee. The big question you need to ask yourself is - "HOW MUCH MONEY WILL YOU NET AT THE END OF THE DAY?"
Most REMAX Realtors in Edmonton have the highest monthly real estate fees and are working hard to help you sell or buy your home, staying on top of their game, a doing what it takes to get your home sold including paying for the costs of marketing your property. Keep in mind, Realtors do not get paid by the hour, their real estate companies DO NOT pay them for working there. Realtors work very hard to earn their commissions and only get paid once your property is SOLD (usually on possession date) and not on the day it is sold!
If you have any questions on real estate commissions in Edmonton or what like an in-home real estate interview with myself, feel free to contact me anytime.
Learn How to Write a Real Estate Offer to Purchase
As a buyer, when writing an offer on a property, you want to be able to pay the least possible amount for your
home. Sometimes buyers will offer 5-10% off of an asking price for no reason other than they were told to by a "friend" This is so silly You may want to offer more, you may want to offer less. The only way to make a reasonable offer is to do your homework.
REAL ESTATE TIP #1 - What the seller paid for their home is irrelevant.
REAL ESTATE TIP #2 - What the seller is asking for their home is also irrelevant.
Knowing why a seller is selling is always helpful when you make an offer, but this information is protected by the sellers real estate unless it is allowed in writing to be disclosed. However knowing the reason for selling is still irrelevant on the true market value of the home, as is the asking price. There are several things to take into consideration, prior to making an offer on any home.
- Market Conditions: Is it a buyers market or a seller's market? Knowing what type of real estate market you are in will help you choose an initial offer price. Completing a community absorption rate is the easiest way to know.
- Possession Date: Edmonton Real Estate Agents have access to this information and as a rule of thumb, the quicker, the possession date, the more motivated the seller is. Most homeowners in Edmonton have a 30-day negotiable possession date. If a longer possession date or a set date is asked for, this is an indication which the seller needs a specific date and can be more important than price. Keep in mind, if the property is tenant occupied, tenants do have a 90-day tenant-right. Normally, homeowners with tenant occupied properties or vacant property are more motivated.
- History: Your REALTOR® will know the history of this home. How long the sellers have owned the property, how long they have been trying to sell it and if there have been any price adjustments. Your real estate agent is also required to pull the title of the property which will indicate any recent financial debts including the current mortgage to ensure there will be enough funds to close on possession date.
- Condition and Size: Size is a factor of price more in places like China than Edmonton. The value of a home is in the condition. You may want to go back into the home to take a better look at the overall condition. Is the flooring laminate or hardwood? Are the faucets Walmart or Moen? Has the yard been meticulously maintained properly or neglected? Will you be replacing any fixtures, chattels, windows, shingles in the near future? Look at the property through the eyes of your experienced real estate agent. They will notice things you don't.
- Complete a Buyers Comparative Market Analysis: Examine all recent comparable sales. Only use recent properties that are similar in configuration, age, and location to the home you want to buy. Your REALTOR® can complete this for you.
REAL ESTATE TIP #3 - If the property has been staged, don't be fooled by how pretty it looks. Staging a home does not increase property values.
Read more about purchasing a home in Edmonton with our simple 5 step process
Did your Home Get Stigmatized?
In real estate, a stigmatized property is a property which buyers may shun for various reasons other than its physical condition or features. These reasons can include the death of someone who was occupying the home to a murder which has taken place inside the property. Some buyers believe the house may now be haunted.
- When a death occurs inside a home, it may not always be disclosed to a buyer. Although when there has been a murder, it is usually public information and can be found on the net. According to the Real Estate Council of Alberta, a murder on the property does not need to be disclosed.
- Many jurisdictions recognize several forms of stigmatized property and have passed resolutions or statutes to deal with them. One issue that separates them is disclosure. Depending on the jurisdiction of the house, the seller may not be required to disclose the full facts.
- When a home is considered a stigmatized property, the selling value may be decreased to attract more buyers. These houses are priced accordingly and purchasing one for a lesser real estate cost, financially benefit the buyers.
- Types of stigma may include houses formally used in a crime, such as a drug house or brothel. Foreclosures where debt collectors are unaware that a debtor has moved out of a residence and may continue their pursuit at the same location
- The wrong starting price can also stigmatize a property when selling your Edmonton home. When a residential dwelling sits on the market for long periods of time, buyers assume there is something wrong with it. Learn how to price your Edmonton home properly from the start.
Pros and Cons of Condominium Ownership
Living in a condominium in Edmonton offers a sense of community living. Whether you are taking out the trash, working out in the exercise room, relaxing in the lobby or picking up your mail, there will be ample opportunities to engage with your neighbours.
Pros of Condominium Ownership
No Maintenance. The biggest benefits of condo living are that other people do the maintenance for you. They cut the grass, maintain the common areas including elevators, amenities, windows, doors, and shingles No grass to mow or snow to shovel with the exception of detached condos and townhouse style condominiums.
Cost. Condominiums are less expensive than buying a comparable house in Edmonton. Obviously, the cost of a condo versus the cost of a house depends on the location. Property values in Edmonton vary in each neighbourhood. But typically, you'll spend less on a condo, " Maintaining a single-family house can be expensive. It is your responsibility to keep your home in living standard conditions. When purchasing the first home, going brand new is a smart choice.
Security. Most apartment condos offer gated or locked entries, with special keys or electronic fobs. If you live alone, or security is a concern for you, this can be a major perk. In addition, you’re living in close proximity to other people and in an emergency, this will be helpful.
Amenities. Exercise rooms, Guest suites, swimming pools, underground parking, and courtyards. Many condo communities offer residents amenities that are out of reach for the average homeowner.
Cons of Condominium Ownership
Homeowners Association Fees. Of course, there is a few to live in a condominium. It costs money to maintain a large building. When you buy a condo, you essentially become a business partner in that community. You pay a condominium fee each month (on top of your mortgage) which goes towards the upkeep of the property, as well as future investments. This fee can vary from a few hundred dollars upwards. It will depend on the current condition of the complex, how well the monies have been managed and future expenses.
Less Privacy. You will be meeting your neighbours. Some condominium complexes in Edmonton offer in-house managers and know everyone by name. Depending on how well your complex is built, your neighbour may even know what time you get home every day. Expect to have someone looking at you when you are out on your balcony or sitting in the front yard. Socialites love this!
Less Freedom. Depending on your condominium complex, you may or may not be allowed to have pets, have Bar-be-ques on the balcony, change the flooring to hardwood, have guests stay for long periods of time or rent out your unit. Read the by-laws before purchasing.
Levies and Special Assessments: In Edmonton, Condos have been hit hard by the recession, the oversupply and there are plenty of issues with a few Edmonton condominiums, whereas some builders missed adding building materials during construction, such as water vapours. Also as more people struggle to make ends meet, more condo owners are dropping out of paying their condo fees. This can increase the cost of what you will be paying each month.
Things to inquire on prior to purchasing a condominium
- Reserve Fund Study
- Are condo fees reasonable
- Bi-laws - are you allowed pets?
- Financials - Is the complex in the red
- Professionally or Self Managed
- AGM - Annual General Meeting
- Any upcoming special assessment
Today, several banks will request to review these documents prior to releasing your financing. Also, have your lawyer review these documents if you are not comfortable with the lingo.
CAN YOU AFFORD TO SELL YOUR HOME
The Edmonton real estate market is soft and house prices have been dormat for the last decade. Before you sell your home, do your homework and estimate your closing costs to ensure you have enough money to make your move. There is nothing worse than sitting with your lawyer and not having enough funds to close your sale.
When a home is sold, the seller incurs various closing costs in addition to paying out the remaining balance on their mortgage and payout penalties. Typical closing costs for a seller may include any property taxes which are in arrears, encumbrances, the cost of a real property report with compliance and/or title insurance, any permits which were not obtained earlier, real estate commissions, any provincial, GST revenue, agricultural or business taxes, liens and legal fees. If the property is a condominium, the seller may also have costs of condominium documents, unpaid condo fees, levies and the estoppel certificate. When selling a house, the seller's costs vary from a few thousand to several thousand.
Since our Edmonton economy is not in the best shape and buyers have become nervous about making large purchases, there are several ways to maximize the value in your home without major renovations including staging and a little bit of home maintance. Pricing your home correctly in todays Edmonton Real estate market is crucial and timing is also a factor. Read more on your community absorption rate.
If you are not sure if you have enough equity in your home, contact one of our real estate experts for a free home evaluation.
Winterize your Edmonton Home
Yes, the onset of winter can be exciting with the crisp sparkling white wonderland but freezing temperatures can be hard on your home. Here are a few tips to help combat the cold.
4 Great Tips on Keeping you warm, safe and richer!
- The weatherstripping will prevent air leaks by heading to Home Depot to grab some weather stripping. Be sure to use it on your doors, windows, doors, and vents If the gaps on your doors and windows are thicker than a nickel, you will need to apply an exterior caulk.
- Gutters and; check all of your downspouts and gutters to make sure they are clear of those autumn leaves and other debris. If they are blocked, it will cause problems that may result in costly repairs.
- Furnace - If you want to stay warm and cosy on Edmonton's coldest winter days, maintain the maintenance on your furnace. Change that filter and have it checked by a professional if it sounding rough. An emergency maintenance call on a cold winter day can be very costly.
- Water Pipes - If you are planning on getting away from Edmonton's cold weather, be sure and leave the heat running so your home stays warm. Also, leave a few faucets dripping so the water continues to flow. If a pipe bursts, it can cause thousands of dollars of damage (most insurance companies with not cover neglect)
These simple steps will allow you to enjoy a warm and cosy home during our Edmonton winter months and avoid timely and costly repairs.
Are your home shopping expectations realistic?
There is no such thing as a perfect house. If you are pre-qualified and have been looking for a home for a long time, there will be one of four reasons you haven't found your dream home
You can't afford the homes you like.
Either stop looking until you save enough money to purchase your dream home or be realistic what you can afford. Your first home does not to be the forever home. Purchasing your first property is the first step to getting your dream home by building equity. However if you have found a few homes, which would only need a few touch-ups like a new kitchen, talk with your mortgage broker to see if it is possible to add a renovation loan into your mortgage.
Chosen the wrong real estate agent to help you.
The majority of Real Estate Agents in Edmonton and the surrounding area have access to the same MLS Data, but if there hasn't been anything which has caught your attention, you can either fire your agent and find one who will work harder for you, which may include knocking on doors in a specific area or making community phone calls to find you a suitable property. Or maybe you are just too picky.
There are many people who prefer to rent. Every month, they pay for someone else's mortgage, helping the homeowner build equity. Or you have signed a long lease and are not in a position to buy. Or you may have a reason for not purchasing yet. If this is the case, stop looking until you are really ready. Every time you view a home, the seller must vacate the premises which means more cleaning and making arrangement to remove children and pets.
You are TOO cheap.
What the asking price of a home is, is irrelevant to the purchase price. For example: if two identical homes are listed at $400,000 and the other at $375,000 and you are still "Low Balling" the less expensive one, you will never get a good price. A good real estate agent will complete a buyers CMA for you, which will indicate a fair value market price and if it is below, you've already made money.
BEST REAL ESTATE TIP: No matter what type of market we are in, the longer you postpone your purchase, the more money you will lose. Eventually, house prices will go back up in Edmonton, but so will interest rates!
How to Get Top Dollar for your Edmonton Home
Edmonton is a large municipality which means you will have plenty of nearby competition and making your home the prettiest will bring the highest offers, especially in a slower or buyers real estate market and an undesirable location, it is very important to show your Edmonton home at it's very best to maximize its value. Below are the top 5 actions you can take.
Disassociate Yourself With Your Property
No matter how long you have lived at or how much love you put into your home, look at your home as a real estate commodity and decorate as though, you are giving it away to your favourite member of your family. Make your home appeal to as many buyers as possible by neutralizing every room of the house.
Declutter as much as possible
Declutter as much as you can including your kitchen cabinets, linen and coat closets and your garage. As a rule of thumb, if you won't use it in the next three months, pack it away. Yes, this includes those boxes in your basement which have not been opened since your last move. This is also a great time to donate everything you haven't actually used in the last ten years or have a "priced to sell" garage sale.
Go on a shopping trip
Your home deserves a little freshening up and a shopping trip to spruce up your homes is also on your selling checklist. Purchase colour coordinated linen for your bedrooms and bathrooms. This will add both a warm ambience and a fresh, clean feel to your rooms. If your furniture is dirty - clean it or replace it. Don't get carried away by all of the available staging items. Keep it simple.
Clean everything inside and outside
Serious buyers will be snooping in your home. They will be looking in your oven, fridge, cabinets, and closets. Make sure these are clean, neat and tidy. You don't want buyers to think there is a shortage of storage space, or think your home is not taken care of. A dirty house will be reflected in a buyers offer to purchase. Don't neglect the backyard, garage, and storage sheds. Make your home sparkle!
Have a Pre-sold dinner party
Celebrate your hard work of getting your Edmonton home ready to sell and invite over your closest friends and open the wine. Ask them to walk around your home, point out any imperfections and for their honest opinions. Bring a notebook. You will be amazed by the feedback. If you have any questions about getting your home ready to sell, contact us.
How to use a Comparative Market Analysis
Edmonton real estate agents can provide a comparative market analysis, also known as a CMA, for any property including properties subject to divorce, civil enforcement, foreclosures, estate sales, city tax purposes, etc. It takes time for real estate agents to complete an accurate home evaluation. Unless you have plenty of experience in buying and selling real estate, online home evaluations may be completely misleading and should never be used as a realistic asking price.
Seller Comparative Market Analysis
When working with sellers, a comparative market analysis is used to determine a realistic and accurate asking price. A Seller CMA is based on comparable properties which are currently active (homes for sale), recently sold homes (usually within the last six months), expired (homes which did not sell for various reasons) and the history of these homes. Other factors will include the current Edmonton real estate market, supply and demand, the condition of the property, the location, community absorption rate and many other factors. An experienced, professional Edmonton Realtor will take the time to go through all of this data with you, together determining a true asking price for your Edmonton Home.
Buyer Comparative Market Analysis
When working with buyers, a comparative market analysis is similar to a bank appraisal and is used to write a reasonable offer to purchase. A buyers CMA is based on both current homes for sale and recently sold home price in Edmonton taking into consideration all relevant factors including the condition, size and location. For new builds, this process is a bit different and is based more on the cost to build, economic factors, building quality, and the reputation of the builder.
Free Comparative Market Analysis
If you are thinking about selling your home or if your home did not sell due to other factors, feel free to contact us for a professional no-obligation Edmonton home evaluation. We also service Morinville, Bon Accord, Gibbons, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Beaumont and Devon. Our Homes & Gardens Real Estate Agents will take the time to help, educate and inform you on all real estate aspects of your community to determine the right value for your home, ensuring you receive the highest possible price. Simply CLICK HERE to fill in the form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
What is a Real Estate Absorption Rate?
During listing appointment and the CMA process, sellers often ask "How long will it take to sell my house?" Although there is no magic way of knowing the answer, know what is currently happening economically and using a real estate absorption rate here in Edmonton will give us a good indication of how long a property will be on the market. An absorption rate will also tell us if it is a buyers market or a seller's market and is often used by real estate investors. It can also give a prediction on the demand of an Edmonton community.
Knowing how to use and calculate absorption rates using this real estate tool has several benefits. It's the best thing next to a crystal ball. An absorption rate It is a rate at which homes sell in a given area during a given time period. Absorption rate is calculated by dividing the number of sales in a given month by the number of available homes for sale. It is the inverse of months of supply.
For example, if there are 100 houses listed for sale in a certain area, and 10 houses sold over the last month, the absorption rate is 10/100=10%. Which means, assuming no other house listing are put on the market, it would take 10 months for buyers to purchase enough properties to absorb the real estate demand.
As a rule of thumb, an absorption rate of 20-25% or higher means that homes are selling quickly and the market favors sellers. Lower absorption rates mean that homes are not selling quickly and supply is much greater than demand, favoring buyers.
If you are thinking about selling in Edmonton or the surrounding area and would like to know the absorption rate in your community, contact us.
How to Avoid Paying Too Much for a House
Before you offer any seller a price for a property, there are a few facts you should to know. The asking price of a property does not necessarily reflect the "market value" of the home.
Below are a few questions you should check into prior to making an offer.
Is the property tax assessment accurate? If not, find out why
For the city of Edmonton, you can find out the tax assessment value of any residential property at https://maps.edmonton.ca/map.aspx. Although the amount the city thinks the property is worth does not necessarily reflect the true value. It is only used as a starting point.
Are real estate prices going up or coming down?
What is the latest real estate trend in that community? To determine if an Edmonton neighborhood's property values are going down or to tell if it is becoming one of Edmonton's hot spots, use the absorption rate tool.
How much was the bank property appraisal?
Financial institutions base their appraisals on the "Emily System", which is an accumulation of recently sold comparable properties. If there are no relevant sold Edmonton properties or if your home is more unique, independent appraisers can do a "cost to replace" appraisal. A good Edmonton real estate agent will complete a "Sold Comparative Market Analysis", (CMA) for you, prior to submitting an offer to purchase.
Is the property staged to avoid any defects?
Don't be fooled by the staging in a property. This is one of the biggest mistakes a buyer can make. When viewing a home, overlook the nice furniture and freshly painted walls. Take a close look at the overall condition of the property. An easy way to know if a dwelling is shifting is to open and close the windows and doors.
Do you know what a realistic offer should look like?
No matter if you are buying a home in Edmonton in a buyers market or a seller's market. Submitting a realistic offer is important. When a home is priced accordingly to the real estate market, don't try to "low ball" the seller, you will end up paying more because you have insulted them. Do your research.
For more information on submitting real estate offers in Edmonton and find an experienced buyer's agent, contact an Edmonton Homes & Gardens Real Estate Agent.
What is the difference between a garage suite and a garden suite?
The official city description a garage suite is "a self-contained accessory dwelling above or attached to a rear detached garage, on a single detached lot which usually comes in the form of apartment-sized living space, with its own kitchen, bathroom, and living space, on the second floor of your garage".
The city description of a garden suite is "an at-grade self-contained, accessory dwelling located in a building that is physically separate from the principal dwelling." Typically, garden suites are single-story structures built in the backyards of single detached homes and must have their own kitchen, bathroom, and living space.
There are several benefits of purchasing a house with a garage or garden suite or building on an existing house in Edmonton including ...
- Garage and garden suites are great ways to add some rental income to your property to help pay down your mortgage. It eliminates the shared interior space the way you would with a basement suite. These smaller living spaces are also a great way to add some diversity to your community because they allow different demographic access to housing options on your street.
- Garage and garden suites can keep family members nearby, yet allows for more personal space. It can be a great option for keeping your parents or your children close, while still maintaining some privacy by ensuring everyone has their own space. Alternatively, some ageing empty nesters have decided to downsize into their own garden or garage suite, and allow their children’s family to live nearby, in the main house.
- As with any good infill project, it is all about creating more flexible living options so every Edmontonian can choose the neighbourhood that suits them best. For more information on Garage and Garden suites, visit the city of Edmonton's Infill website.
How to get your Mortgage Pre-Approval
Depending on who you have chosen, for your Edmonton Realtor, the brokerage may have several in-house mortgage brokers or you can make an appointment with your current financial institution with a mortgage specialist.
A mortgage pre-approval is the mortgage underwriting approval process, which consists of gathering all necessary paperwork, prior to house shopping. This paperwork will consist of the last two years of your T4's or last 3 years if you are self-employed, most recent paystub, confirmation of downpayment and closing costs, all debts including support payments, charge card debts and vehicle payments, other income, and any other relevant documentation.
Once all of the paperwork is gathered, it is sent to the underwriter who will review it, check your credit and take into consideration any other factors which will affect your debt ratios.
REAL ESTATE TIP: When you have completed your pre-approval process, this does not guarantee you will be approved for your home. If anything changes or if a "surprises" arrives prior to possession of your new home, your financial institution can still pull your mortgage pre-approval.
If you are putting less than 20% down you will need to pay a CHMC Fee. This is an insurance fee for your financial institution and can be rolled into your mortgage. Rule of thumb. The higher your down payment, the lower the CHMC Fee.
If your credit is border-line, it is great to have a mortgage broker who has personally met you and is willing to vouch for you to the underwriter if needed. All mortgage lenders have, at least internally, a turn time." That is simply the time from submission to underwriter review and their decision. The turn time can be affected by a number of factors big and small. However, if you go to a big bank you can expect a more lengthy approval process and may not make your condition deadline. It is what they do. Let your agent know whether you are using a mortgage broker or someone at your financial institution.
Once the underwriter has had time to review the documents, they will typically issue one of three dispositions - approved, denied or suspended - to your application. If approved underwriting will typically assign a set of conditions you will need to clear to obtain full approval. Clarification on a late payment, a large deposit, past life transgression or simply a missed signature here or there is normal requests. If suspended, which is not completely unusual, underwriting is confused and needs clarification on something.
REAL ESTATE TIP: Once you have an approval from your bank, ask them to send you and your real estate agent something in writing and remove your finance condition. Congratulations, you are now a real homeowner.