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A Buyer's Guide to Property Viewing Etiquette

A Buyer's Guide to Property Viewing Etiquette
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As a prospective home buyer you have responsibility during the viewing of homes. You need to be sensitive and respectful when touring properties with your agent. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow during your home hunting days:

Dress appropriately Aim to look innocuous and don't let your clothes give anything away. You don’t want to look scruffy, but equally, if you look too smart the vendor might assume you've got loads of money and won’t negotiate.

Leave young children and babies at home It is advisable not to take kids on a first viewing as they can be too distracting. If the vendor has children, then it is typically okay to bring them on a second viewing. However, if the vendor is childless, they may find it a bit of an imposition.

Arrive on time for the viewing You should always make the effort to arrive on time. Also if you are coming with others, make sure you arrive together. Showings are usually set for a certain time and it is not only an inconvenience to your agent if you are late but the seller may be on a schedule. Often owners will leave just in time for a showing and may be waiting to return after its completion.

Take off your shoes Even if you are not accustomed to taking off your shoes before entering someone else's home, it is best to do so when viewing a home so that you do not track mud and dirt into the home. People from various cultures and religions who do not wear shoes in home may be offended if you enter their house with your shoes on, so it is best to leave your shoes at the front door.

Respect the seller's personal property While it is expected to open kitchen cabinets, pantries and closets, try to keep the investigation down to a minimum. Avoid opening dresser drawers, looking at personal items and using the master bathroom.

Don’t criticize things you don’t like in front of the homeowner If the owners happen to be at home, keep conversation with them to a minimum. Most sellers try to be out when a showing takes place but sometimes it is just not possible. It is best not to "grill" them about why they are selling or where they are going. These questions are better filtered through your agent. The very worst thing you can do is say things like 'well we'd have to knock that wall down' and 'if we filled the pond in the garden it would look much better'. The vendor is probably very proud of their property the way it is. Although, some aspects of the house may not suit you and while you may not wish to purchase the home, it is best to have those discussions with your spouse out of earshot.

When leaving the home, it is nice to say things like, "Thank you for showing me around, it's kind of you to take the time" or "You have a lovely home". Vendors usually remember nice and polite people and favour them in any competition for the house.

Most people have enough common sense to be courteous and careful when entering a stranger's home for viewing. When in doubt about protocol, just ask your agent. One of the standing rules about viewing a home is - leave it exactly the way you found it.

Thinking of Buyer a Pre-Sale Condo? Here are some tips before you go browsing through the presentation centre. 'Buyer - Be Aware'

One thing developers never skimp on is the model suite.  They hire top designers to put together eye-catching mega-suites to wow any buyer.

People judge books by their covers, so why not condos by their models? Developers are very competitive about how they present the condo to the condo shopper.  Gorgeous, clean, organized, warm and inviting - cove ceilings, quarter sawn oak floors, paneled and architecturally detailed wall treatments, antique glass doors and bathrooms to die for – glass steam shower with rain shower head, sophisticated tiles and sconces and heated floors.  All are designed to draw you in and do just that. 

The idea is to make the prospective owner so excited about each feature - and this new lifestyle - that he or she will sign on the dotted line. 

When looking for a condo, make sure you are able to differentiate between the model suite and what your condo will actually look like.

Sometimes the model has 10-foot or higher ceilings, but the condo may in reality have 8.5-or 9-foot ceilings. Be careful not to feel a false sense of height and openness caused by this change in scale. So ask: Are the ceilings shown in the model suite the same height of what I will be getting in my condo? 

Developers have no intention of tricking you in any way; it's just that the showroom may be a makeshift loft, trailer or commercial space. The concept is to give you an idea of what you are buying, though your unit may not be exactly what you see here. This is very important for pre-sale condo buyers, especially those who intend to reside in the building, rather than those who are investors. 

Another way you may get a false sense of openness is by viewing a model that has no doors between the rooms. While this may seem obvious, you may not notice this missing feature as you are simply passing through. An absence of dividers keeps the space open, making it appear much better and even more spacious. And which way will that door open when installed? 

You may also find the model space feels larger because it's de-cluttered. Remember that this is an uninhabited space so there is no teenager with clothes, dog with toys, and spouse with books or gadgets. So stop, look beneath the highly organized space and think about this: Where will your clutter go? And along with that, where is your storage space?

As far as price, remember that the model does not necessarily show the base costs; it may include upgrades. For instance, if you see crown mouldings and a beautiful paneled dining room (and you love both these features), do not choose the condo based on these things unless you know that they are not upgrades or, if they are, that you are willing to pay more for them. 

Another part of knowing what you are paying for is knowing the square footage and how it is measured. Many condo developers will not write the exact square footage into the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. This is because, for pre-sale condos, they will plan and then maybe re-plan how much space is needed for the elevators and emergency staircases. Then they will plan and possibly re-plan the space for the common elements. The square footage may change depending on these plans. 

Remember, this measurement most always includes any balcony or balconies. The reason the square footage may be left off your contract is that, if an adjustment is made during building, you may end up with a foot or two less. The contract speaks to the idea of approximation and developers try their best to accommodate the square footage you have paid for. 

Regardless of this number, get to know the space you are about to purchase. Will it work with your queen-or king-sized bed? Check out the size in the model. Make sure you are familiar enough with the space to organize a floor plan that will work for you and your family's needs. 

To do this, study the space without a designer's furniture placement. The furniture placement in these diagrams is sometimes helpful but can also get in the way of creativity. You may also get caught up in how you think the space should look, forgetting convenience in day-today life. Think through how you live and try to imagine how this space will work for your lifestyle. 

Finally, ensure that you get everything you want in writing. Do not assume that certain upgrades are included just because you have seen them in the model suite and the brochures

Keeping the 'Lock' on Privacy

Are your Open Houses turning your Clients into an Open Book?

         Along with staging it is also important to de-personalize the property to protect the Sellers’ identity and to educate the Sellers on how to safeguard their personal affairs. With summertime travel on the rise, it is even more important to protect those clients who choose to be away from home while their property is on the market.  Here are half a dozen tips and strategies to pass along to your clients even before the “FOR SALE” sign goes up.

1. Remove all personal photos, diplomas, personal letters and greeting cards from view. Store those trophies and achievement awards out of sight. These items can be age and occupation tell-alls and set up unwanted bias or expectation among Buyers toward your Sellers.

2. Put away all day timers, calendars and To Do lists. These are often information rich about your clients’ activities, often detailing when they plan to be away from home.

3. Keep desks and tables clear of all bills, magazines and books and shred all personal documents that are no longer needed.

4. Turn off any printers, fax machines, answering machines and phones to prevent incoming messages from arriving during showings.

5. Have your clients password protect their computers to avoid access to personal information.

6. Keep all valuables stored away securely – this includes those prescription drugs in the medicine cabinet – Yes, the NUMBER ONE item stolen at Open Houses is prescription drugs, and they’re a clear giveaway as to the health of your clients.

          Information gleaned by curious Buyers from any of the above sources can put your clients at a distinct disadvantage around the negotiation table.

Stunning Photography Sells Homes

Since many buyers are turning to the internet to shop before they take a drive around neighbourhoods, photography can make the difference in selling your home quickly.

A picture says a thousand words, and with the right listing pictures, you can attract more people to your property by showing your home’s highlights. Below are tips on how you can take the best quality pictures of your property to showcase it so it stands out from the rest.

Clean the entire house before taking photos.
Never take photographs of a dirty home. Remove all trash cans from rooms being
photographed. Tidy up any clutter and remove personal photos and drawings from
refrigerators and bulletin boards.

Think about the picture before you take it.
What are you trying to show in the photo?  Do you want to move or remove anything before you take it?

Highlight the best features of your home.
Do any of your rooms have spectacular views? You can take pictures of your rooms to
show off their views. Let the potential purchaser imagine themselves standing in the room with the view. They will appreciate the picture more knowing where they will be able to enjoy the view when they purchase the home.

A general photography rule of thumb is the closer the subject, the better the photo. 
However it may be useful to take a few steps back or use a wide-angle lens to give the viewer more context and make your home seem more spacious.

Take a shot of every part of the house including living room, kitchen, dining room,
and other key areas of your home.

Pay attention to lighting.
Lighting is the key to good photography, and you must choose the optimum time of the day for the shot, typically when the sun is behind you. If the front of the house faces east, the morning is the best time.  If the front faces west you want to take your pictures in the late afternoon.

A good general time of the day is around noon or early afternoon on a sunny day for most exterior pictures since the sun is overhead and there are few shadows.  If it is overcast you can set your camera to a lower shutter speed to absorb more light and create a brighter image.

The light source also affects colour. When the sun is lower in the sky, either in the morning or in the late afternoon, you get more intense colour. This time of day makes the sky pop blue and the house shows off its best colour. High noon overhead sunlight tends to wash out colour.

Cloudy and overcast days can often provide surprisingly wonderful diffused light that can bring out great colour, although shots like this lack the bright blue sky in the background.

For dramatic evening photography, turn on all the house lights, and take the picture after sunset but before it is totally dark.  You will see light coming out of the windows, however there will be enough exterior light to capture the details of the house.

For interior room photography avoid mid day, since on sunny days the light coming in the windows will be too bright.  The best times are after daybreak and just before sunset.  Use a powerful flash or turn on all the lights.

Take many shots.
If you are using a digital camera, you can take multiple shots of the same room and then pick which one looks best. You can try different angles and pick the winning view of the room.

You can touch up your pictures on your computer software including brightening up a darker picture. After you have a look at your pictures, you will have a better idea of how to improve them. Some indoor pictures can look too warm due to the lighting. You can always reduce certain colours with your photo editing software to make it look more natural.

Consider hiring a professional real estate photographer.
Many real estate agents and homeowners simply do not have the time, equipment, or skills necessary to take good photographs of a home or building they are listing for sale. Professional photography is provided by many brokerages as an optional service and the price is extremely reasonable.

Photos of your home are the first introduction of your new listing to the world. This is the visual element that captures the imagination of buyers and sends them running to contact you for a first look.