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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

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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

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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

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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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