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Michele Cummins: A foolproof “do what it takes” motto | REM

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What surprised Michele Cummins the most when she started her real estate career?

“In real estate they have this ‘have your cake and eat it too’ mentality,” she says. “As in, ‘We’re all Realtors here and we’re all one big happy family,’ and then the next thing you know, your Realtor “family member” is actually your most cutthroat competitor.




But looking back now, she’s not sure why she was surprised. When there are a dozen local Realtors vying for the biggest listing in town, cutthroat competition is expected. This made Cummins more resilient and less lazy, she says. In other words, she picked the hard way by presenting her genuine self to clients and Realtors.

In 2016 and 2017, she was Re/Max’s No. 1 selling agent in Fraser Valley, B.C. and one of the top one per cent agents Canada-wide. Now Cummins juggles her full-time real estate career, based at Re/Max Little Oak Realty in Mission, with co-hosting Fraser Valley’s only real estate radio show alongside radio personality Curtis Pope on Country 107.1 FM.

Cummins says the secret to her success is simple: “do what it takes. If nobody in my town knows who I am, I go knock on doors. If I’m expected to knock on doors, in the rain, on a Sunday when the game’s on, then yes, that’s what I’ll do. If my client wants to call me at 9 p.m., then I’ll do it, even if I had plans for a movie night,” she says.

Indeed, it’s a door knock that earned Cummins her first sale in the first month of her career. When she knocked on the doors of her first listing, a couple opened the door. They instantly suspected her because at 28, Cummins looked 10 years younger. “Are you new?” they asked. “Yes,” she said. “And because I’m new, I have the energy, the newest rules and laws and the most updated information at hand, because I just went through all the courses. I’m eager and hungry and I want to help you make the most money.”

“Well, come on in,” replied the couple. “We like your energy. Have a look at our place. We’re thinking about selling.”

She helped the couple sell their home and buy a new one. That was 20 years ago. They remain in touch with her to this day and exchange gifts on Christmas, every year.

Cummins didn’t intend to be in real estate. She bumped into it by happenstance.

An American transplant, Cummins has “been making her way north” since she was in her teens. When her family moved from California to Oregon, she was 13. Homeschooled by her mother, she helped her parents in their family-owned candy and gift store. At 15, she got her GED that allowed her to enter college. Cummins grew up in the country surrounded by acres of farm and horses. She developed a love for horses that quickly led to her breeding them and competing in Oregon’s horse circuit. At one point, her family owned 20 horses.

Cummins also had a love for acting. Her Hollywood dreams weren’t too far fetched. She grew up performing in community theatres and traced her ancestry back to MGM Studios, where her great-grandfather worked for 50 years, her cousins acted and her father manned the special effects for seven years. Acting was in her veins. In 1998, when her boyfriend, soon-to-be husband and Canadian musician Richard Cummins alerted her to Vancouver’s reputation of being “Hollywood of the north”, she knew what her next port of call would be.

When they moved to B.C., Richard found them a small cottage at a horse breeding farm owned by a Saudi couple who were doctors living overseas but needed a manager to look after their Swedish warmblood Olympic horses. This was a win-win deal.

While pursuing touch-and-go acting jobs, Cummins also worked at a car and truck rental. One day a Realtor with car trouble requested a rental while his car got fixed. Impressed by Cummins’s computer skills behind the counter, he quickly offered her a temporary job to help him as an office assistant. Cummins says, “It was a Tuesday. He showed me his office where he didn’t have a computer. He was old school, but his office was amazing. I met his manager, and then at the end of that one-hour walk-around, I said, well, if I do this, I would want to be a Realtor.”

Since then, Cummins hasn’t looked back.

Her training in the arts was put to good use too. In September 2018, Country 107.1 surveyed the region’s top selling agents to co-host a real estate radio show for their listeners in Langley, Surrey, Abbotsford, Mission, Maple Ridge, Richmond and North Vancouver. They called upon Cummins, and in short order, she got the job.

“Being a radio show host is definitely something that you have to grow into,” says Cummins.

With Curtis Pope, her show is like listening to two good friends having a conversation about real estate over coffee. While information-heavy, the question-answer format of their show allows them to convey boring stats engagingly.

“I add to this things like a hot topic where I will do a mini essay on a relevant and current industry issue, and because of the ever-changing market and rules, this is a good reason to tune in weekly,” she says.

The president of Canadian Home Builders’ Association, innovative builders, home inspectors, lawyers, mortgage brokers and other trusted subject matter experts are often invited as guests of the show.

Nowadays, Cummins finds herself toggling between getting straight to the point with her real estate clients off-air and elaborating the point on-air. “Every second counts in radio. On the radio, people want to hear the multiple layers to an answer, and all the factors that bring you to the eventual reasoning.  The ‘why?’ factor. Elaborating is the core of good radio, and so I have to shift into that mode when I get in the studio,” she says.

Over the years, Cummins has become a keen student of the real estate market. She likens it to climbing a mountain where there are peaks and valleys. “It goes up for about two to three years and then it always corrects about 10 to 12 per cent, before stagnating for an average of seven years,” she says. She predicted the price correction after spring 2018, and since last year, transactions for most Realtors in her region have halved, she says. Realtors are having to work harder and market more creatively.

Having her radio show has certainly helped Cummins’s career from a marketing standpoint. Most valuable, however, is the respect she receives from her peers.

For Cummins, real estate is more than a nine-to-five job. “Build your reputation, document your success, be innovative with your services, and you will have plenty to bring to the table in a client interview without ever having to resort to only looking good by making others look bad,” says Cummins.

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Real Estate

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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