After our initial meeting over coffee I felt confident moving forward and was absolutely thrilled to have Nichola working with us. In our relatively short time looking at homes she kept us focused on our requirements in a home, and was full of information on negatives and positives of each home that we viewed and how it would fit our needs.
I was also impressed with her prompt response through email and phone to any of our questions, which was a huge positive as I always had a million questions to ask.
Kyle & Laine M
How do you, the REALTOR®, get paid?
When a seller lists their home for sale with a realtor, they agree right then and there what commission they will pay their listing agent as well as the buyer’s agent. Sellers pay both the buyer and seller’s agent commission.
The amount the sellers will pay both agents is 100% negotiable. There is no standard commission rate and it’s actually illegal to say there is – so watch out for what other agents may say. However, there is a typical commission structure that has been used to buy and sell homes in Alberta for a while.
The typical commission structure is 7% on the first $100,000 and 3% of the remaining balance of the selling price. That number is divided in half, so each agent typically gets 3.5% on the first $100,000 and 1.5% of the remaining balance of the selling price.
Whenever you use an agent to purchase a home privately listed or listed on Comfree, the seller typically offers a nominal commission or no commission at all. In these cases, I never shy away from asking the seller if they are willing to offer a commission that is acceptable to both them and myself.
Once in a while a seller will flat-out refuse to pay the buyer’s agent a commission. In this case what happens is agents can go directly to their clients (the buyer) and ask to be compensated.
How long does the process usually take?
There really is no typical timeline for the home buying process, as each transaction is completely unique – each property is different as well as both the buyers and sellers.
Buying a home typically takes about two months from the first coffee date with me to you receiving the keys to your new home. Once we have sat down to discuss your needs and how I can help, I start to send you listings for homes that meet your needs immediately.
It’s safe to assume that you will probably be looking at 10 to 15 homes. Any more than that and it is likely there is a miscommunication between the buyers (often husband and wife have different goals) or they don’t know what they want.
Once we find the right home and our offer is accepted, buyers usually have to wait about 30 to 90 days for possession – depending on the sellers.
To help you understand the process, writing an offer on a home takes about 1.5 hours. Negotiations typically take 24 hours, but can be as quickly as 2 hours or as long as 4 days if clients are working away or out of town. Condition days are usually 7 to 10 business days long depending on what the buyer and seller agree upon.
How many homes can we view?
We can look at as many as you need to feel satisfied with your choice. That being said, buyers typically see 10 to 15 homes before they find ‘the one’.
More viewings than that is usually because the buyers are either looking for something very specific, or they don’t have a full understanding of what they want, or they are unrealistic about what they can actually afford.
In those cases, I always sit down with my buyers and make sure they understand how far their money goes and make sure our goals are aligned.
Do you drive or do we?
That is the buyer’s choice! I can pick you up and drop you back off. Often I meet clients at the first home and then they jump in with me for the remainder of the showings. If clients have plans immediately after their last showing, they can just follow me from listing to listing in their own vehicle.
Sometimes I have clients with four kids and they follow me in their minivan so that the entire family can be a part of the process. Other times, I pick up clients from work and take them house hunting. We simply decide together how best to make our different schedules work.
Can you represent me in buying a custom-built home?
Yes! Whether you are buying a new home or purchasing a lot and building a new home, you can use your own agent to represent you. I can definitely help you purchase a lot through a builder or a vacant lot that is being sold privately, but during the building process, you will need to be in direct contact with your builder.
Unfortunately, I’m not involved in the process of picking colours and layouts, but you can always come to me with any questions that pop up during the adventures of building a home!
Another good thing to note is that the builders agree to pay a commission out of the purchase price and you do not pay more to cover the agent’s commission. The builder just gives the agent a piece of their pie, so you end up paying the same amount with or without an agent. Often times, agents can negotiate better appliances, landscaping, and lawyer fees to be covered by builder. Using an agent when dealing with a builder is very important. The contracts used are different per builder and you need to understand exactly what you are signing.
It is important to note that when viewing show homes, the sales staff may ask you to register. If you have an agent, you must tell them upfront. If you don’t, they will refuse to give you an option later and you are forced to use their sales staff.
Should I buy an acreage?
Absolutely, as long as that is what you need and want. Just like buying a condo, you need to make sure you know exactly what you are getting into.
Acreages are a lot more work and there are more costs associated with an acreage. Questions to ask while looking for an acreage can include:
- Where and what type of well do you need?
- What type of sewage disposal system does the home have?
- Where are the property lines?
- Is it entirely fenced?
- Do we want/have animals?
- Is there enough space for the animals?
There are many more questions and concerns, so let’s grab a coffee and talk it out!
Should I buy a condo?
That depends – what are your needs? What are your wants? There are many questions you should ask yourself as well as the condo management company when buying a condo.
Many people don’t know that a condominium is a form of ownership, not just a style of home. A general idea of how it works is owners collectively work together to follow rules and a cost structure for the greater good of the entire building.
Before you decide to buy, you need to understand the pros and cons of getting involved with a condominium form of legal ownership. A condominium consists of two parts: the dwelling you would live in (the unit), and the common property (like the elevators, the courtyards, or the front entry).
Condos are very popular here in Edmonton and are often a great choice, depending on the individual buyer. Some questions you may want to ask yourself are:
- Is this form of ownership right for me?
- What are my monthly costs on top of my mortgage going to be?
- What are my responsibilities in owning this unit?
- What are the condo board’s responsibilities for the common area and my unit?
- Do I have or want pets? Are pets allowed?
- Am I buying an income property? If so, are you allowed to rent out your unit?
Are you looking FOR A CONDO for an investment property?
Condos can make great investment properties, but be warned that sometimes condo fees can price you out of the rental market. Pay attention to rental rates in your desired area. I can help you with this!
You need to know how a condo works to make sure this is the right route for you, so let’s grab a coffee and get started!
What do I need to be aware of when buying a condo?
First, understand how this type of ownership works – you own your unit, but not the common property. I like to tell my buyers that when purchasing a condo you own everything from the paint on the walls inwards. The actual structure is the common property.
Secondly, get to know the bylaws and understand them. If you have animals, you have to understand their policy on pets. Some buildings don’t allow any pets or have restrictions on the type, size, and number you may have in your unit.
It is also important to know what a Special Assessment (SA) is and how they work. A Special Assessment is a one-time charge declared by the board of directors to pay for unexpected expenses that cannot be covered by operating funds or the reserve fund (if applicable). Unit owners must pay the Special Assessment in addition to their regular monthly condominium contributions.
SA’s are mandatory and I’ve seen them as low as $100 and as high as $40,000 per unit.
How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Is it your full-time job?
While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate, like many other professions, is mostly learned on the job. That said I have been a full time residential REALTOR® since I was first licensed in 2007.
How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year?
My office has over 200 agents and the number of homes they help sell is huge! Personally, I aim to sell over 30 homes every year. I work hard all year round, while still making time for family, friends and myself. I do not take on clients when I am too busy to give them my best self.
How long does it take you to sell the average home? How does that compare to the overall market?
It takes me about 34 days to sell the average home. Of course, this does depend on the market. However, it is important to understand that pricing your home properly will have the greatest effect on the time it takes to sell your property. Overpricing your home will make sure it sits on the market for more than the average days on market.
To find out the average days on market for your area, give me a call! 780.504.1182.
How close are your asking prices to closing prices?
My typical closing price ends up being 97% of the sale price.
How do you plan to sell my home as quickly and efficiently as possible?
When I have a new listing, I make sure that it is advertised in Real Estate Weekly, which is a free paper that buyers can pick up in many locations all over Edmonton and surrounding areas. I advertise and keep my Kijiji ads very current by reading them twice a week, I also advertise my listings all over social media, and I make sure to do open houses.
Other forms of advertising I love to do are REALTOR® open houses and flyers.
The Edmonton Journal and The Edmonton Sun are great for marketing listings as well. However, having your home listed on MLS® is the greatest type of advertising. That is where everyone goes when house hunting.
Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction?
When you represent both the buyer and the seller it is called transactional brokerage. It is 100% legal, but does change the relationships you have with both parties. When you work with an agent they will go over a Customer Acknowledgement Form that outlines the six fiduciary duties we owe you when entering in to an agency relationship.
Those include: Undivided loyalty, confidentiality, full disclosure, obedience, reasonable care and skill, and full accounting. When you represent both parties, undivided loyalty and full disclosure are no longer guaranteed for obvious reasons.
Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and help with other things I need done?
Yes, I work very closely with mortgage brokers who can help you get a mortgage or refinance quickly and for a low rate, handymen who can help with household repairs, flooring, electricians, plumbers, painters, home inspectors, and more!
I have a close-knit group of people who have earned my trust over the years that I use personally and can call upon to help my clients. Something that makes me different is that I do not accept kick backs from my referral partners. If they are offered, I simply request that they reduce the cost to my clients and that I’d prefer not to receive any gifts.
What resources does your brokerage provide to you?
The owner and broker of my office is a wonderful and very well educated man. He also happens to be the current Police Commissioner in Edmonton! Our office has weekly educational meetings for all topics and any new legislation that come up.
There are people who work full-time to convey all of our transactions and send our clients’ lawyers all of the documentation they need. There are also two full-time receptionists that sure your calls never go unanswered. Our office takes care of their employees and it shows!
Can we get family members involved in the process?
Of course, the answer is always yes, I allow my clients to bring family to showings and meetings if they would like. Parents can be there the entire time. In fact, if there are any concerns about the purchase or sale, I ask that they are present.
I am gifting my child the down payment – does that change anything?
Yes, if parents or grandparents gift a down payment, they also have to write a letter to the lender or mortgage broker saying that they, the parents, agree this is a gift and do not expect the child to pay it back. Lenders require this so that the kids don’t borrow money from family to only find out they can’t afford the mortgage because they are paying the family.
We’ve used the same agent for all of our family homes for the past 20 years – why should we use you?
Agents who have been in the industry for a long time sometimes become complacent and can even be a liability. The key: great customer service with an experienced agent you trust. Often children who are buying their first home want an entirely new experience of their own! A fresh agent will add to that. Not mention, younger generations use different forms of communication like text or chats, which isn’t very popular with senior agents.
What’s your business philosophy?
My business philosophy is to provide you, the client, with the best home buying or selling experience possible. From our first coffee together to passing you the keys to your new home, I take care of you every step of the way. I strive to exceed the industry standards when it comes to attitude, timeliness, and professionalism.
How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently?
I believe in constant and consistent communication. Depending on the client, I communicate with them via telephone, emails, or text messages. During the beginning stages of house hunting, we will speak as often as you have questions or when great listings that match your criteria come up. When dealing with sellers, I give market updates weekly to show what is selling and what the competition is doing.
We speak before every showing to confirm the date and time, and I am always available when my clients have questions. I understand that this is the biggest purchase of your life, so I make myself available to clients as often as they need.
I pride myself on getting back to all of my clients within 2 hours of their communication. Even if it’s just to send you a quick email or text letting you know I got your voicemail and that I will call you back as soon as I’m free!
What are the top three things that separate you from your competition?
I believe that my genuine honesty, flare, and my punctuality and preparedness set me apart from the crowd. When I say there are no stupid questions, I mean it! I work all evenings and all weekends – some agents don’t answer calls on Sundays or between 5-7pm on weeknights. Even though I do believe in paperless deals, I feel that meeting in person and signing a tangible document is better for our relationship and for the deal.
May I review documents beforehand that I will be asked to sign?
Yes, absolutely! I will sit with you and go over all documents to make sure you understand them and that you are comfortable signing them. They are legal documents, so if you want time to take them home or speak to family member or a lawyer that can surely be arranged! I will educate you on each step of the process so that you never feel left in the dark.
What kind of guarantee do you offer?
I personally guarantee great customer service from an educated and dedicated real estate professional. I also guarantee that if I do not know the answer to something, I will not guess, I will get in touch with a professional that knows and get the correct information to you as soon as possible.
What haven’t I asked that I need to know?
Just another tip – I recommend that you interview more than one agent to confirm that you and your agent have the right working relationship – the key word being relationship. In any good relationship, there has to be communication and trust. You need to trust me and there has to be open clear lines of communication at all times.
Remember, although I am the professional and work for you, you’re the boss, not the other way around!