Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What’s important is that the “story is told”!

I won’t quote all the studies that have been done but I will tell you, there are plenty.  They all say the same thing – the consumer shopping for real estate wants:
  1. photos – several
  2. detail – a lot of detail
  3. video tours –not photos turned into a slide show – actual video

So if video is Number # 3 on the consumers wish list – why are only on third of REALTORS® using them?

  • 1 out of 5 consumers between the ages of 50-64 are watching – today!
  • 1 out of 4 consumers between the ages of 30-49 are watching – today!

I recently sat in on a free on-line video seminar with the Matthew Ferrara Learning Network Video Tips & Tricks.

I took away some truly amazing stats on the Power of Video from Matthew’s presentation.

  • Over 2 billion videos are viewed every day. 
  • 144 million people watch video every month.
  • Canadians watch more online video than Television

They aren’t captured by photos set to music – they want the ‘story’ of the ‘home’.
Creating a video that works takes planning – you have to think differently.
What’s the message or property opportunity you are really trying to convey?

  • Create a story board – map out what you really want to get across to the consumer:
  • Never walk through with a list –“this is the bathroom... this in the living room....”
  • The truth be told – if the bathroom is not over the top spectacular – it should not be included in photos or video
  • Be sure it’s not garbage day with the garbage cans lined up and down the street 
  • Is the lawn cut or the driveway cleanly shovelled?
  • Have a conversation with the home owners- why do they love it
  • Have a conversation with the consumer watching 

Consider all parts of the video that present what is being conveyed about the subject:

  • Voice, 
  • Surroundings, 
  • Neighbourhood
  • Lighting  
  • Reflections

Modern ‘musts’ from those who study these things are :

  • The agent must appear in the video
  • Not just music playing but a narration – even off screen
  • HD quality
  • You Tube distribution

A good quality microphone is a great investment.  Some of today’s cameras that double as a camera and video camera fall short on their audio capability.  There are small wireless mics with a receiver available between $200 and $500.

Finding music to embed that does not have a copyright can be difficult and not always necessary.  The consumer wants to get the feel of the home and you are often the best medium to convey that.  If you are nervous, go slow.  Greet them on camera, Close on camera – these are called bumpers. You can then add a voice over to the video footage and talk about the lifestyle the buyer can enjoy as they live in this wonderful new home.

Natural light is the best to work with.  Not everyone can afford –or needs to hire a professional crew.  Pay attention the time of day, the weather, the sun.  Maybe the soft light of early evening shows one particular home off better than another.  Be careful not to catch yourself in the reflection of a mirror or polished surface.  If your in-house lighting is harsh it can create reflection of surfaces that record poorly digitally.

Preparing the home to put its best foot forward is something you want to do with/as the home owner for every listing, regardless of shooting a video.  Ensure you aren’t showing that rust stained drip spot on the sink or those broken switch plate covers.  Ensure the seller pays attention to the small details – they are usually quite easy to fix.  A clean and uncluttered home shows so much better in video – and in person.  “Mrs. Seller, Maybe some of those unique furniture pieces that mean so much to you need to be removed prior to listing – and videotaping.”  It’s an old saying but it is still very true ..........

“you only have one chance to make a good first impression”.

A tripod is important.  You never appear as steady as you think you are.
YouTube.com distribution is available to anyone these days.  It’s free, huge, enjoys a lot of traffic, is GPS enabled and socially distributed. The title and tags used are very important for the video to be found.  Double check once it’s loaded, that it mapped correctly.  Decide if you will allow your videos to be embedded in other websites.  You can make that choice as you load your video.  It’s also a great idea to use built in traffic review – how many views? – from what medium?. You can learn a lot about the consumer you are attracting.

Coldwell Banker® Agents have a huge advantage over everyone else with their own channel, ON LOCATION®.

  • 2.6 million views since its inception
  • Coldwell Banker On Location owns 96% of the Real Estate Market Video content on YouTube.com.
  • 51% of all online content viewed is video

The volume pushed through the channel helps with search engine optimization – meaning your videos are found before others and show higher in the search results.  ON LOCATION® is marketed by the Brand as well as every Coldwell Banker® office.  They help expose your videos.

While you consider your story board ask yourself, “How long should my video be?”  They should be as long as it takes you to tell the story of this particular home. Many will tell you, however, that much more than 2 ½ minutes and you’ll lose your audience. For expansive properties and very large homes you may need an extra minute or so to capture the feeling you truly want to convey.  You might want to consider doing three or four short 30 second bits on areas of the home.

Don’t be afraid to try different formats – what’s important is that the “story is told”.

When the going gets "Tough"... just call me.  Susan Tough

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Deposits – how much? – When?

I’m often asked by our REALTORS® “how much should my Buyer offer, or my Seller accept, as a deposit on a Contract of Purchase and Sale?”
Like many topics in real estate, there are numerous points to consider.

As the REALTOR®- Who are you currently working for – the Buyer or the Seller?

As the Buyer: 

  • what amount of funds are immediately available to you?
  • Are you wanting to show this seller you have good intentions and are a serious purchaser.
  • What are you prepared to risk?

As the Seller:  

  • how long away is possession?
  • How serious do these Buyers appear to be?
  • What would be fair compensation should the Buyer fail to complete?

The process for the handling of the deposit funds is important to know – regardless who you are in the transaction.  The Buyer’s real estate Agent will collect a personal cheque (not ideal), a certified cheque (much better) or a bank draft (the best option for all parties concerned) and it will be payable to the name of  their REALTORS® real estate Brokerage.

As soon as the cheque is given to the representing REALTOR®, they MUST immediately turn it into their Brokerage for deposit into the Trust account – along with a copy of the accepted offer the deposit was taken for. They don’t hold it in their file or pocket until subjects are removed, or until the next time they make it into the office.  Holding clients’ money once they are in receipt of it is a serious breach of a REALTORS® duty and obligation.

The Brokerage will deposit the funds into a Trust account.  Trust Law governs what can be done with that money after that.  The only way the Brokerage can remove the money from their trust account is: 

  • receiving written approval from all parties to the contract, 
  • receiving written notice and instruction from the lawyers 
  • or receiving written notice and instruction from  the courts.

Ideally, the subjects are removed by the Buyer and the contract goes Firm.  The Brokerage will receive written instruction from the Lawyers conveying the transaction to release those funds into their trust account and the deposit becomes part of the Buyers’ purchase funds that are paid through to the Seller at completion.

Now – back to the questions above.
If a REALTOR® is working for their Buyer, they would rather not require their Buyer to put up any deposit until they know the Buyer will remove all their subjects and make the firm commitment to purchase the property.  The Buyer may have their deposit funds tied up in RSP’s or GIC’s and can’t access the funds immediately at acceptance.  Some Buyer’s have given a deposit cheque thinking it just sits in the file and is not cashed until completion – they are very surprised when they get a call from their bank saying the cashing of that cheque has overdrawn their account.  It’s important the REALTOR® makes it clear that once we are in receipt of the funds – the cheque will be deposited and cashed.

If a REALTOR® is working for their Seller – they would be considered remiss, by not insisting that a deposit be taken upon acceptance.  The Real Estate Council and Continued Education Training, teaches REALTORS® that their sellers position is not adequately protected if no deposit is taken at acceptance.

The opposing sides to this often comes to light when a Buyer provides an initial deposit amount upon acceptance, doesn’t remove their subjects for one reason or another, and the Seller, upset that the deal is falling apart, refuses to sign the General Release.  This form is the “written permission from all parties to the contract” needed by the real estate brokerage to release the funds back to the Buyer.  Now, the Seller doesn’t necessarily have a legal right to refuse the return of the deposit but sometimes they believe the Buyer didn’t perform their due diligence adequately and feel the need to cause a fuss.  This is not probable…but possible. The fact that it could happen should be explained to the Buyer – rather than the REALTOR® saying, “Oh of course you’ll get your money back”. REALTORS® are usually successful in helping all parties involved to see the reasonable side of things, the form is signed and the funds returned to the Buyer.

The contract is often drafted that once the Buyer removes their subjects, another deposit amount is paid to the Brokerage.  This is added to the first amount received at acceptance – if it was – and the total deposit is sent through to the conveyancing lawyer to form part of the Buyer’s purchase price.  The lawyers will instruct the Brokerage to hold back the commission amount due to their REALTOR® and pay the balance through for the transaction.

If the Buyer, after the deal has gone firm, then defaults and fails to close the purchase, the deposit amount is usually claimed by the seller.  In this case, the Seller has a stronger legal position to lay claim to those funds.  The release of the deposit from the lawyers trust account is then negotiated the easy way or the hard way, most often by the lawyers acting for both sides.  When a Buyer fails to close on firm offer, they rarely get their deposit money back.

With all that in mind – the last question is “HOW MUCH?” Clients coming from different trading areas may have thoughts on what they feel is fair and expected.  The REALTOR® is in the best position to provide guidance.  If the offer is one of two or three others, the amount of the deposit can speak volumes to a deciding Seller – or judge, in the case of a foreclosure transaction.  The past real estate experiences either the Buyer or the Seller can affect their opinion of what to ‘give’ or ‘accept’.  The value of the property has a huge bearing on the amount of a deposit that is deemed ‘adequate’.  10%, give or take, is often a bench mark.

All circumstances vary and like all other terms in the Contract of Purchase and Sale, the Deposit can have an impact on the success of the negotiation.  A good REALTOR® knows that and can provide valuable guidance to their clients.

When the going gets "Tough"... just call me
Susan Tough

Friday, August 5, 2011

Famous Coldwell banker® listings/sales

Hope this finds you all having a good week.  I thought I would share some ‘gossip’ for you on some exquisite homes that are SOLD or marketed by Coldwell Banker REALTORS®.  It seems there are some substantial clients that are comfortable putting their faith in a Coldwell Banker® representative.

See this video by Christophe Choo with the Christophe Choo Group with Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills.

The Spelling Mansion mentioned in the above Video SOLD for an astounding $85 million dollars!

"The Jills" with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate of Miami Beach Florida list and buy for many celebrities. Here is an article regarding their recent listing of Tennis Star Anna Kournakovia's home.

Marrisa Hopkins of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has 
the Home Alone home listed.

"Even in good times the market for these more expensive homes is elongated. You don't sell these right away," says Joyce Rey, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Previews International® who has brokered sales for Nicolas Cage, Jennifer Lopez and Hugh Hefner. "It's not as if there are 50 buyers out there looking for what you are offering."

"How do you get to tour such a home? Not during a Sunday afternoon open house, that's for sure. Instead, the process of viewing a celebrity home as a potential buyer is an arduous one. The Coldwell Banker brokers rigorously screen those who claim to be in the market to shelter celebrities from "vanity showings."

See the view from This celebrity home:

At a recent local function, I bid on a dinner for 6 at Ben Stewart's home (the Westside-Kelowna M.L.A. for the province of British Columbia). What a wonderful evening we had last night and look at the fabulous view of the lake. We are so blessed to live in the Okanagan.

When the going gets "Tough"... just call me
Susan Tough