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Posts tagged ‘problems’

First Time Buyer Friday #11 – When To Walk Away

In my continuing series, First-Time-Buyer Fridays, I answer a common question from a first-time buyer. If you have a question to submit, first-time-buyer or experienced investor, put one in the comments below, or fire me an e-mail at Tim@TimAyres.ca.

Broken house

“Needs TLC”

Q. I made an offer to purchase a house and my inspector found a few problems. How do I know when to walk away?

A. Unfortunately, not all houses are created equal, and you may find that after finally getting an offer accepted on your first home, that the inspection report turns up some issues you missed on your initial viewing of the property. This is normal – it’s the inspector’s job to pick apart the various systems of the home and point out to you everything you’re taking on when you buy the house. The big question is – what is acceptable and what’s too much?

When I bought my home, it was only 11 years old. Everything that I needed to change was merely cosmetic, and if worse came to worse, I could always wait (and suffer through the pastel pink walls and mint-green carpet). But if you’re buying an older home, things like knob-and-tube wiring, a faulty roof, or a cracked or leaking foundation might be a reality and turn your dream home into a nightmare – and this is why an inspection is the best $400 you can spend when you’re shopping for a home.

You should be prepared to replace a few things and make a few changes once you move in, but you’ll probably want a good idea as to how much money this is going to cost. For example, if your inspection report finds that the roof is failing and you’ll soon need to replace it, it’s not hard to get a roofing contractor over for a quick drive-by estimate. It’s another thing altogether if your inspector suspects there may be substandard wiring, cracks in the foundation, or failing stucco or other exterior cladding. These repairs are often much more costly – and sometimes cover up other problems not visible to your inspector. It’s not necessarily the cost of the repairs that is the greatest cause for concern.It’s what you don’t know that can cost the most. If you aren’t comfortable with this, it might be a signal that it’s time to be glad you had an inspection, walk away, and move on to another property.

Your REALTOR® has probably seen lots of similar houses in his or her career and can certainly help counsel you, but you should always get reliable repair estimates from reputable contractors – they are the ones you’ll be writing a cheque to for repairs. The decision to walk away or not has to be your own; you need to be comfortable with any repairs or upgrades that may be necessary when you take ownership of the house.

A smart buyer will also consider if the house will be difficult to sell in a few years’ time if these issues are not looked after when he or she owns the house. The roof might not be leaking now, but the last thing you want is to take a hit on the price of your home because a subsequent buyer doesn’t want to fix the problems you inherited from the previous owner!

As with dating, there are plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to buying houses, and your REALTOR® will help you find the right house. And, also like dating, you’ll probably find that you love that house even more than you did the one you let get away.

I’d love to answer your questions about buying or selling a house. Give me a call at 250-885-0512, e-mail me at Tim@TimAyres.ca or fill in my contact form. Connect with me on Twitter at Twitter.com/TimAyres.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Think Realtor.ca Sucks? It Will Get Better Soon

Actual Users, Maude and Bill

Actual Users, Maude and Bill

Since the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) replaced the much-loved MLS.ca with the (so far) much-maligned REALTOR.ca last month, they’ve had nothing but complaints from everyone who uses it (consumers) and everyone who benefits from it (REALTORS® in Canada).

I can understand the domain name switch. Since its inception, MLS.ca has never been all that clear that it is a service provided by REALTORS® in Canada, and the switch to REALTOR.ca takes care of that. And I do believe it was time for a technology update – MLS.ca was pretty old-school.

But it worked, and it was simple. CREA threw the baby out with the bathwater on this one.

Yesterday, I noticed an update on our REALTOR® intranet, which outlined a few changes that will take place later this month, which should help to improve the overall user experience.

Users may have noticed that there is a limit on how far you can zoom into the interactive map. You can zoom only so far, and then it sort of bounces back to the limited zoom level. Effective November 20th, this restriction will be removed. This should help alleviate the “500 property” warning because you will be able to zoom down to reduce the number of properties displayed on the map. The map will also stop “yo-yo-ing”  as users reach the zoom limit and it snaps back to a wider view.

A big complaint has been the clunky way that neighbourhoods are handled. CREA assumed everyone would enjoy zooming down into the specific neighbourhood that they were interested in. This is in contrast to the old static MLS.ca maps where you could drill down to the specific MLS zones set up by the various real estate boards. For example, you could click BC–> Vancouver Island/Smaller Islands –> Victoria–> Sooke–> Broom Hill to see all the listings in that MLS zone. The Realtor.ca experience so far has been limited. The site was launched before many of these neighbourhoods could be defined in the database. So when somebody searched for Broom Hill, they might get the actual geographical feature rather than the MLS zone of the same name – clearly a problem. CREA has identified and added some 3500 of these areas since October 2nd, and will continue to add more as the local real estate boards provide the data. The Victoria Real Estate Board has been on this since day one and many of our MLS sub-areas are already in the CREA database. This is probably the largest issue with the site, and it will get better.

The issue of limited/no compatibility with non-Internet Explorer web browsers (Firefox, Safari, etc) is also being worked on. Thank-you, CREA, for no longer excluding some 47% of browser market share 😉

2008 IE7 IE6 Chrome FireFox Moz Safari O
October 26.9% 20.2% 3.0% 44.0% 0.4% 2.8% 2.2%
September 26.3% 22.3% 3.1% 42.6% 0.5% 2.7% 2.0%

There have also been complaints that photos are too small (I agree!), thumbnail information that pops up when you mouse over a property on the map is insufficient (probably), and that the listings are just too hard to find. There are changes that are being tested to address these issues as well.

Specifically in our marketplace, one of the problems has been that too many listings have appeared in the “not mapped” column which makes them extremely hard to find. This was caused by our previous MLS back-end software, which had an antiquated procedure for placing properties on a map. Also, the default data setting was to not supply an address to MLS.ca. With our new MLS system, the default is reversed, and all of the old listings were automatically mapped by address and postal code as they were imported into the new database, so that should solve most of the problem.

We want REALTOR.ca to work. Believe me. CREA spends millions of our (the REALTORS®) dollars to create and operate that site for the benefit of consumers. Canada is lucky to have it. There is no equivalent in the U.S., where MLS data is sometimes split across different websites for one city, let alone the entire country like we have here. I believe that once the bugs are worked out, REALTOR.ca will be far superior to MLS.ca

Questions? Comments? Post them below (or click through to the post if you’re reading this in a reader).

If you’re still having trouble with REALTOR.ca or would like more detailed information than it provides,  I can set up a private client portal for you to view the Sooke or Victoria MLS listings. Give me a call any time at 250-885-0512, fill in my buyer’s form, or shoot me an e-mail at Tim@TimAyres.ca. My services are available to buyers at no cost.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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