Thursday, November 27, 2008

Real Estate 101

I hope I don't come off as a big meanie writing this blog entry. It was a stressful couple of weeks and the reason for the big hiatus in entries.

One Saturday about 7 weeks ago, a real estate agent knocked on our door. My wife answered. If I had answered, I probably wouldn't have to write this post, but I was too lazy to get up and answer that day. Next thing I know, we're going to look at houses just for fun. And you know what? Damn it all, there was one out there calling for us to buy it. It had all the stuff we like(plus a pool!! and no neighbors in the back!!! Just bunnies in a forest by a field!!! AHAHAHAHA!).

As it happened, I had gone on a retirement course this summer, and it seems I have like, 16-17 years left to work or some such thing and if I'm gonna change houses, now would be a good time( you want to pay that sucker off by the time freedom 55 or 56 rolls around). Our youngest kid started school and her hefty monthly daycare payment disappeared into smoke, woohoo! Let's take that and get into more debt!!!!

Still in the oddly coincidental timing department, 6 months ago Scotiabank (who owns some of my house) sent me a letter saying my mortgage was up and to call them to renew. Well, said letter fell behind the cookie jar and by the time I found it and called them, TOO LATE! No worries! They had helpfully auto-renewed my mortgage at 6.2 % (ouch) for 6 months without me having to sign anything! Didn't matter that I could get almost a point less anywhere else, they have my (their) best interests at heart. Sure, they call me when they want to sell me stuff, like a high interest credit card with them, or mortgage insurance, or other crap like that I don't need, but call me to let me know my mortgage is up and they haven't heard back from me? Naw... Not lucrative for them. Still, it's my fault. Which means my mortgage is set to expire December 1st (you can bet I put that one on the google calendar right away).

So.. For fun, in these soon to be crappy economic times, I decided to put my house up for sale just before the snow flies, when houses move as about as fast as rocks..

Why not!!!!

And we went with Grapevine, that sell it yourself service to save ourselves the 5% commission in the neighborhood of $13,000 to $14,000 (thank you very much). Tons of people came to see our place through grapevine - it was great!. The thing that amazed me the most though, was how just as many scummy agents (yes scummy - SCUMMY!!! SCUMMY!!!!!) found us on grapevine and called and/or emailed me to get my listing. They fed me all kinds of lines about how I am not going to sell in these times without being on MLS bla bla bla, I can't possibly be bothered with paperwork closing a real estate deal, bla bla bla, we look out for your best interests bla bla bla. MSL MLS MLS (multiple listing service)!!!.

As it turned out, I had a freind that did real estate part time and he made me a deal to put my house up on that MSL thing. Still, more scummy agents called. They led off with stuff like.

"I have someone very interested in your house! Where are you moving to? Would you consider me as your buying agent if I bring them in or if it doesn't work out, your listing agent and I can put you on MLS?"

As soon as I said, "It's already on MLS "
"Oh.." click... Lying Scumbag! Potential buyer my ass.

After I got wise to that song and dance the phone conversations were short.
AGENT "Bla Bla Bla..."
ME "Excuse me, it's simple, you bring someone by with an offer sheet and we'll talk. Bye bye.."

Then we had the agents who bring people to your place and they make you sign some 12 page thing that says, if their client buys your house we'd pay the agent 2.5% for doing squat. Sure!! I signed it. The stupid cost of doing business I guess. It's funny though, they don't let their client inside your house unless you sign it and they are usually waiting right outside the door while the agent covers their ass. I never caught on to how silly this was in time to refuse to sign the paperwork just for fun, hike the door open and say "Come on in stranger, your real estate agent is being creepy, take a look around the place!!!"

I realize they have to make a living, but a fixed percentage that high is a bit ridiculous. Especially the listing-only agents who get money just because someone happens to buy a house with their sign on the front.

We also had agents who were helpful enough to show our house to clients who were not able to afford our asking price. Not even close. Of course you find this out afterwards. I hope they had a nice visit. We love cleaning the crap out of the place before a showing and shoving our kids somewhere for an hour while we give the guided tour to someone who won't be able to buy it.

Ditto for the parents shopping for houses for their kids overseas who are concerned about bus routes because his son with 5 kids living in Indonesia can't possibly afford a car. Gee. You think he'll be able to scrape up the cash to actually buy my house? I'd stay in Indonesia. Pity about the compulsory military service at age 12. I guess he should have thought about that before he moved away from Canada (it ain't so bad here).

Then there was the agent who said to me, as their client was taking a look at our place, "My client seems very interested. If we make an offer, make sure to make the period to negotiate the offer 24 hours so we can trap them in the sale..." NICE!!! Well she ain't ever gonna be my agent. These people are looking out for your best interests folks.. Remember that!

Then there's that one neighbor. There's always at least one. The neighbor who comes to an open house and feeds you the song and dance about how his brother in Toronto is moving to Ottawa and needs a place next month and this would be perfect and they are just here looking at it for them and gosh they'll have to move fast on this bla bla bla.

Why that's just what they told my other neighbors who moved away 6 months ago at his open house. They just want to snoop and see what you've done to your place. Geez. Just ask, no need to make up crap like that because maybe we'll believe it or something.

Well, lucky for us, we sold privately in two weeks, to a nice couple who came in and saw it on the first open house. All just buyer and seller talking and emails to two lawyers, no agents, no commission.

I'll never use an agent to sell my house. There is no need. MLS brought in about 6 or 7 people, Grapevine 25 or so.

And I have a new take on Real Estate agents. They are like OC Transpo bus drivers or department store Santa Clauses. Some are nice and some are really scummy.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Forever Finding the Remote Control(s)

After spending 30 minutes one day looking for the remote control for the DVD player (it's too fandangled and doesn't have buttons onboard the unit to do things other than play,pause,stop) , I instituted this ingenious solution. I will never lose another remote control again!!

Just as long as we don't misplace the couch they're tied too, and the kids don't garrote each other with them, I should be fine!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Check out this cool cat!

A very cool cat in Vanier.