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Collingwood sales reps Read Hilton and Gail Crawford hit the road in mobile office | REM

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Read Hilton says that a typical morning often involves running down the driveway after his business partner and fiancée, Gail Crawford, shouting, “Gail, you forgot your phone!”

Hilton is the organized one in this duo, the source of many leads and much outside-the-box marketing. Crawford is the creative and tenacious salesperson, according to Hilton.

“I’m more anal and detail oriented,” he says.

“I’m more fun,” responds Crawford.




As a two-member team with Chestnut Park Real Estate’s office in Collingwood, Ont., in the picturesque southern Georgian Bay region, their combined skill sets have helped steer them to success, as evidenced by their sales record and their awards for outstanding performance.

“We both work hard to stay up to speed and ahead of the technology curve, and we strive to market uniquely,” says Hilton.

What really sets this diverse pair apart is their unique mobile office, Hilton’s black 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s tricked out with everything from a Wi-Fi device under the steering wheel to a police-style laptop stand/shelf bolted into the floor of the vehicle, not to mention a CB radio (for updates on the weather and accidents) and multiple outlets. It’s also possible to bring a remote printer into the car.

Gail Crawford checks out some listing information in the mobile office.
Gail Crawford checks out some listing information in the mobile office.

Thanks to this mobile setup (the result of six months of research and about $1,200 worth of retrofitting), Hilton and Crawford are able to pull over and “search out properties with a buyer on their Wi-Fi enabled laptop, then do the offer in the vehicle and have them DocuSign it on their mobile device, right then and there in the back seat of the Jeep, and then send it off to the listing agent,” says Hilton.

“Realtors tend to be tied to their desks, always waiting for something, signing something. We’re not,” says Crawford.

They recently completed an offer in 15 minutes in the driveway of the house for sale.

Says Hilton: “Here I am, 70-years-old, and as far as I know we are the only agents in the area who can do this. We are driving half the day to sales calls. It’s big geography that we cover. We wanted not to be tied to our home office – to be able to do an offer right in the vehicle. We see that clients want immediate action…

“What I’ve done in the Jeep is very unusual. The Bell-connected device comes with a separate cell phone number, so we get Wi-Fi in the vehicle, where most other people just use their cell phone, which is limited in what it can do.” (He says that some newer vehicles do now come equipped with Wi-Fi.)

Hilton has had his Jeep rigged up this way for about seven months. And even though the computer stand takes up so much room that no one can sit in the passenger seat, he’s thrilled with pretty much everything about the retrofit.  However, he’s found it can give surrounding drivers quite a shock as they often mistake his vehicle for a police car.

“It does make other drivers slow down, that’s for sure,” he says with a laugh.

Hilton’s background is in sales for construction-related companies servicing the new home building markets. He also has a long-standing, part-time sales job as membership manager of Beaver Valley, a local private ski club. (There are several private ski clubs in the region, as well as the public Blue Mountain Resort, one of the largest resorts in Ontario and a major destination for southern Ontario skiers.)

Hilton’s part-time membership sales position, thanks to all the families he comes into contact with as a result, has fortuitously been a bountiful source of real estate leads throughout his eight years as a Realtor.

Crawford was a mortgage broker for many years and says she came to Collingwood for a weekend long ago “and never went home” to Toronto.

Like Hilton, she also has another job – she’s the owner of Maid in Collingwood, an established residential cleaning business. With that company running smoothly and covered off by an effective manager, Crawford says she is free to spend the majority of her time working in real estate.

As fate would have it, both Crawford and Hilton initially moved to the area with other partners. (“My boyfriend bought a timeshare here and dumped me. I never got to use it,” Crawford jokes.)

Crawford says she wasn’t especially athletic – in fact not at all apparently – when she met Hilton a decade ago. He convinced her to take up skiing. It worked out well; over time they’ve noticed that everyone wants to talk real estate on the chair lift. Together they’ve made the most of all the activities in their popular recreational region ever since, including tennis, hiking and biking.

Having established a niche market, a big portion of their clientele is young families from Toronto and other communities in widespread neighbouring vicinities looking for a ski chalet, a rural country property, or a cottage on nearby Lake Eugenia. Crawford also helps the 55+ demographic, who may be retiring from skiing and are in search of a retirement home close to small-town amenities.

Besides numerous recreational offerings, the Collingwood area has “beautiful restaurants, all sorts of little boutique shops, and is not far from Wasaga Beach,” says Crawford. “There is tons of new building. Whatever anyone could want is here.”

Crawford and Hilton say the listing-to-sales ratio in the community is low right now, so everybody is “fighting like mad” for listings.

Area agents better be on their toes. Chestnut Park’s Read Hilton and Gail Crawford Team and their cool mobile office could be beating you to the finish line.

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Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation

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If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips

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The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?

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(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at tarion.com.

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