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A real estate professional’s guide to cell phone plans | REM





In today’s world of 24/7 connectivity, your cell phone may well be the most important tool you use in your business. All three of the major carriers have special plans for real estate professionals…you may just have to do some digging.

Rogers (who I work for) offers a 30-per-cent discount off your primary line, which shares data with up to nine other devices. Bell and Telus typically offer special plans or some discount off on their share plans.

The most popular plans are known as share everything plans. They allow you to share one data plan with up to 10 different phones, tablets or wireless internet devices. About half of all sales reps typically only have one line but it is worth investigating whether it is more cost effective to bring your family members or teammates together to share the cost of data.

All three carriers also offer small business share plans – these require an HST number. These plans often offer flexible data plans, which can be advantageous if your data usage is quite variable. I suggest you compare both consumer and small business options before you decide.

What is a tab?

We at the carriers have done a wonderful job of confusing everyone lately! With some phone prices hitting close to $2,000, the ability to actually afford a new device has been impacted significantly…and device prices keep rising. This is why the carriers came out with the tab concept.

It allows you to pay more on your monthly service fees so that your up-front device costs will be less. There are typically four tabs. Ultra or Platinum (Rogers, Telus) are the top tier and by selecting this you will pay the least amount for your device over the 24 months of your contract, in most cases.

There are then Premium Plus, Premium or Smart or standard tabs. Each of these tab levels are usually about $10/month less, with the device prices approximately $150-$200 more the lower you go. On a primary line at Rogers this difference is $7 after the 30 per cent discount, which makes it beneficial when buying expensive devices on the higher tabs. An example right now would be the apple X – $99 on Ultra tab versus $349 on Premium plus. Here you’re paying $168 more (24x$7=$168) to save $249 – which makes sense.

If you’re bringing your own device it is referred to as smart tab…or BYOD (bring your own device).

How much data do I need?

The easy answer is more. Average data usage for Realtors has gone from about 1GB to over 3 GB in the last two years. If you have teens or young adults on your plan it is safe to factor at least 5 GB per person. Ask your carrier if there are any data bonuses – right now all three are offering 2 GB for primary and secondary lines. Also, make sure you plan for a small cushion. Data overages are really costly…about $7/100mbs or $70/GB.

Minimizing data usage

Streaming music or videos, using navigation apps, social media apps and leaving apps open all tend to increase your data usage. As a sales rep, sending photos or videos in hi res, or looking through listing info on your phone or tablet will also skew your usage higher. If you are an Apple user, be aware of the Wi-Fi assist setting – in most cases it should be turned off. If turned on, this feature will automatically use your cellular data if the signal is stronger than your home or office Wi-Fi signal. I have recently seen overages of $6,000 to $23,000 because of this feature. If you do an IOS software update it usually will turn back on so be cautious.

Canada/U.S. plans

Bell, Telus and Rogers all offer plans that allow you to use voice, text and data throughout Canada or the U.S. These plans are great for frequent U.S. travellers. The new Rogers plan is $10.50/month on primary lines and $15/month on secondary lines and this gives you unlimited talk and text and the use of whatever data amount you’re signed up for. You don’t pay roaming fees while in the U.S. on this type of account. I highly recommend it for those who use over 500 minutes of U.S. calling each month.

All of the big three offer roaming while travelling…the number of countries varies by carrier and can be confirmed on each of their websites. Cuba is one of the rare exceptions – you’ll need to buy a travel plan here simply because the service on the island is so poor that none of the big three will support it.

The major differences between the big three are really the cap on roaming charges. Rogers is capped at 15 days in any billing period while Bell and Telus are capped at 20 days.

Travelling as a couple? If one of you is less busy on the phone than the other, save money by call forwarding that number to the other person’s device. Leave that SIM card at home and then you’ll only pay one daily roaming fee instead of two. You can also buy a local SIM card in the destination country for $1 to $5 and that way you can always stay in touch, while only paying one roaming charge.

Phone selection

Phones for Realtors are often an extension of their persona. Currently the market is equally split between Android and Apple – two years ago it was 80 per cent Apple, so there is a firm trend. Realtors tend to be choosing the higher-memory phones now, mostly to store more photos and videos. I strongly suggest you search for Google comparisons of models, such as the Samsung s8 vs s9, Apple IPH 8 vs X, or Google Pixel 2 vs Apple X. Do your research and pay attention to what you need, not what your office mate has. Most people want the newest of the new, and often the features added with each device iteration don’t bring enough added value to truly justify the cost.

Device protection

With today’s phone prices I highly recommend device protection, whether it’s Apple Care or Premium Device Protection. All carriers offer it and there are some major differences. At Rogers, Apple Care does not cover lost or stolen devices…whereas our premium device protection does for just $1/more/month. Broken screens on new larger devices can cost over $300 and many plans offer one screen repair for free. This is a no brainer in my opinion.

Many groups like TREB and OREA have member benefits sections on their websites that detail both plans, and who the carrier reps are that serve Realtors. I recommend that you work with a specialist. We only serve Realtors and brokerages, so we have a better understanding of your needs. We offer personalized service and most of us are on call 24/7, just like you. After all, we’re 100-per-cent commission too!


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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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Real Estate

10 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers





Buying a home for the first time is exciting and a commitment to the future. It’s often challenging, too, and the process requires a lot of steps, many of which can be tricky to navigate as a first-time home buyer.

What are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home buyer?

First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey toward homeownership.

1. Have Your Finances in Order

It’s wise to begin saving as early as possible once you’ve made the decision to purchase a house. You’ll need to consider the down payment, closing costs (which often range from 2% to 5% of the down payment), as well as move-in expenses.

You also need to understand the other costs of homeownership, such as mortgage insurance. property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and more.

2. How Much Can You Afford?

Knowing how much you can realistically afford in a home is another important financial consideration. Look for the home of your dreams that fits your budget.

One way to avoid future financial stress is to set a price range for your home that fits your budget, and then staying within that range. Going through the preapproval process will help you understand what price range is realistic for your budget.

3. Make Sure Your Credit is Good

Another thing to keep in mind as a first-time home buyer is your credit score because it determines whether you qualify for a mortgage and affects the interest rate that lenders offer. 

You can check your credit score from the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

This is another good reason for getting preapproved before you start your search. Learn more about the preapproval process and your credit score.

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent guides you through the process every step of the way. He or she will help you find a home that fits your needs, help you through the financial processes, and help ease any first-time buyer anxiety you may have.

Interview several agents and request references.

5. Research Mortgage Options

A variety of mortgages are available, including conventional mortgages – which are guaranteed by the government – FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans (for veterans).

You’ll also have options regarding the mortgage term. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among many homebuyers and has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the course of the loan. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate but monthly payments are larger.

6. Talk to Multiple Lenders

It’s worth your time to talk to several lenders and banks before you accept a mortgage offer. The more you shop around, the better deal you’re liable to get – and it may save you thousands of dollars.

7. Get Preapproved First

Getting a mortgage preapproval (in the form of a letter) before you begin hunting for homes is something else to put on your checklist. A lender’s preapproval letter states exactly how much loan money you can get.

Learn more about the preapproval process and how preapproval provides you with a significant competitive advantage in our article How Preapproval Gives You Home Buying Power.

8. Pick the Right House and Neighborhood

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of homes based on your budget, lifestyle, etc. Would a condominium or townhome fit your needs better than a house? What type of neighborhood appeals to you?

9. List Your Needs and Must-Haves

The home you purchase should have as many of the features you prefer as possible. List your needs in order of priority; some things may be non-negotiable to you personally.

10. Hire an Inspector

Hiring an inspector is another crucial step in the home buying process. An inspector will tell you about existing or potential problems with the home, and also what’s in good order. You can learn more about home inspections and how to find a home inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Buying a home for the first time is a challenge, but it’s one you can handle with the right planning and preparation.

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