Monday, August 24, 2009

Painting A Good Picture on Customer Service

In these past somewhat turbulent few months, there has been an abundance of negative news bombarding us almost daily. At times we are all guilty of propagating negativity, recanting a bad experience be it a faulty, overly expensive vehicle repair, poor food/service in a restaurant, a defective product or just a level of indifference shown to us by a retail store clerk. We have all been there but at the same time we have all had good experiences as well and these are all too often the ones that are not shared.
This summer I have been catching up on some maintenance at my cottage on Manitoulin Island. Unlike some, I do not view this type of thing as “work.” I enjoy home/cottage maintenance and renovation projects. For one it’s a departure from my normal daily routine as a REALTOR® and secondly, the end results I find rewarding.
Recently I purchased some paint and stain for my cottage garage from Robinsons Paint & Wallpaper on Hurontario Street in Collingwood. Both were Benjamin Moore products, a trusted name in paint for many years. The paint was for my two garage doors and despite prepping the doors and applying two coats, the paint dried with a very irregular finish, a mixture of gloss in some areas and dull in others. Naturally I was a little perplexed both for having spent over $40.00 on the paint not to mention my labour. More importantly I was confused as to why such a high quality paint would yield such poor results.
I took some digital photos of the finished product and went back to Robinsons in search of a reason for my less than satisfactory paint job. Mark Robinson studied my photos and while no definitive cause for the blotchy look to the doors was arrived at, he offered a number of suggestions as to why the paint’s final finish might be so inconsistent. More importantly he offered not only to replace the paint “no-charge” but he also threw in a new brush and some sandpaper. Frankly I was blown away. I had not blamed the paint, nor had Mark pointed a finger at my workmanship, yet here was a person willing to give the customer the benefit of the doubt. Not only did he stand behind his product but he made some helpful suggestions and tossed in some “extras.”
Clearly, here is a local, small business owner that understands the value of investing in his customers and his business. In response to my plight, would the larger chain retailers in the area have done the same? Perhaps, but this example of exemplary customer service is not about big box stores versus the little guy. It’s about providing your customers no matter what business you are in, with a level of service that “exceeds their expectations” and Mark Robinson certainly did that with me.
I am fortunate to have come from a corporate background where our success and growth was always based on providing our value customers with both products and service that exceeded those of our competitors. My real estate partner Doug Brown and I apply the same to our buyer and seller real estate clients. It’s always very rewarding when a client expresses their gratitude for the service we provide and further refers our names to their friends and or family. Recanting my “positive” experience with Mark Robinson to others is both a pleasure and a well deserved accolade for him and his business. I hope the experience I have shared herein rewards him with some additional business in the future. He will certainly get it from me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Georgian Peaks Storm Damage

Environment Canada has yet to confirm as to whether Thursday's late afternoon storm that tore through the Georgian Peaks Ski Club was actually a tornado but after surveying the damage it's difficult to accept that it wasn't. As of late last evening Hydro One crews were still on site replacing broken hydro poles and re-running wires along Highway 26. Much of the debris from downed trees had been removed fully exposing the extent of the damage to several ski chalets located adjacent to the Georgian Trail.
With the ongoing affects that climate change seems to be having on our weather, many are beginning to question as to whether we have adequate advanced warning systems in place to advise the public of pending storm fronts similar to what we experienced this week. According to a report in the Toronto Star, Environment Canada believes that we do, people just tend not to heed them. Having previously lived just west of Chicago, we became quite accustomed to violent storms (and accompanying warning sirens) when these systems swept in from Iowa and other plains states to the west. In south-central Ontario these weather events have not been so common especially here in the Georgian Triangle but this past week's events may be an indicator of what we should expect in the future.
A video of Thurday's storm that swept through Georgian Peaks was taken at the Georgian Bay Club and is available for viewing on YouTube.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tornado Touches Down at Georgian Reaks

Yesterday's series of late afternoon thunderstorms spawned a number of tornadoes across south-central Ontario the closest of which appeared to have been at the base of the Georgian Peaks Ski Club on Highway 26 between Craigleith and Thornbury. The devastation was very evident along the Highway 26 corridor with hydro poles and trees snapped like toothpicks. Upon closer inspection numerous buildings including several ski chalets sustained severe damage. The accompanying photo shows the maintenance building at the Georgian Peaks Ski Club which had its roof and large overhead doors completely torn off. Additional debris is shown in the background further up the hill. To the left of this photo was a small hut previously located part way up the slopes at the top of one of the chairlifts.
This latest weather event comes on the heels of what has been a very unsual summer. Mother Nature has the ability to change quickly and dramatically. I have not heard of any injuries in the aftermath of this storm locally however a teenager was killed yesterday as the result of a roof collapse at a camp in the Durham area.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Best July on Record for Canadian MLS® Home Sales

The Canadian Real Estate Association has just released a report indicating that MLS® home sales were up nationally in July 18.2% from July of 2008 and further, were 3.9% above the previous record for July set in 2007. Home sales across Canada in general have now posted month-over-month increases for six consecutive months. The increased sales activity appears to be relatively widespread with over 60% of markets reporting increased activity in July.
The big questions that remains is will this somewhat robust and unexpected turnaround in the overall real estate market last?
Politicians on many fronts appear to be claiming victory over this latest recession however one sobering fact remains. Unemployment still stands a relatively high levels in many provinces across the country and until there is some stability and optimism in the job market, conditions may very well remain somewhat unsettled. Certainly the slump in sales that was experienced from September of 2008 until April or May of this year created some pent-up demand for housing. The fact remains however that consumers will not make major commitments such as buying a home until such time as they are confident in their ongoing employment status.
The rebounding housing market combined with a slowdown in new listing activity has significantly reduced the unsold housing inventory that has lingered in many markets for a number of months. In July there were a total of 219,982 homes listed for sale on the MLS® systems of real estate boards nationwide. This represents a 12.4% reduction in inventory compared to July 2008 and is the largest decline in active listings in more than six years.
Locally, new listing activity in the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board is down by 4% which represents a total of 163 properties. Meanwhile, expired listings have increased by 29% with 1,765 property listings have expired to the end of July as many sellers, frustrated with no buyers have removed their homes from the market pending an improvement to the economy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Year-to-Date Real Estate Sales - Synopsis

Following the exceptionally strong sales in July as reported in my prior post, year-to-date real estate sales activity for Collingwood and the surrounding area has regained some of the ground that was lost after the recession set in. Year-to-date MLS® sales reported through the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board totals $252.8 million compared to $290.0 million in sales done during the first 7 months of 2008. The year-to-date shortfall of just over $37 million typically represents less than one month's sales so as you can see, area real estate sales have performed very well given the economic conditions overall.
As indicated on the attached graph, despite a slight dip in May, monthly sales have been trending upwards since January. Year-to-date 988 MLS® sales have been reported through the end of July as compared to 1,120 for the first 7 months of 2007, a decrease of 13%. Listing activity has moderated significantly since last year resulted in more balanced market conditions and stable pricing. Year-to-date the number of new listings to hit the market totals 3,583 properties a decrease of 4% from the same time last year. This represents 3.6 months of inventory, slightly above the 3.3 months of inventory on hand last July just before the market went into a major slump.
If MLS® sales during the remainder of the year show the same degree of strength as shown in June and July, it is quite possible that year-to-date results for 2009 will meet and or perhaps exceed the full years sales of 2008.
For information specific to your area and or price range, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Area Real Estate Sales in July Explode

Sales of Collingwood and area real estate during July exploded, exceeding July sales during the same month in each of the previous two years. Revenue for the month totaled $62.2 million up 45% from the $42.8 million sold in 2008 and 4.6% from the $59.4 million sold in 2007. The fact is, prior to this year, July sales have never reached that magnitude in terms of dollars. These are based on sales reported through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board.
MLS® unit sales for the month totaled 218 properties an increase of 47 sales or 27% compared to July of 2008. Most notable was the sharp increase in single family residential sales in Wasaga Beach with 44 sales reported this July as compared to 25 last year, an increase of 76%.
The year-to-date 12 month average price in our area remains unchanged from this time last year at just over $280,000. The average residential price in Collingwood dipped slightly for the month of July the first time Collingwood prices have decreased in quite some time.
New listing activity thus far this year has slowed significantly over the past couple of years resulting in more balanced market conditions. Year-to-date, the number of new listings that have come onto the market is down 4% whereas expired listings continue to run at an extremely high level up 21% over last year. Many sellers still persist in attempting to attain above market value prices for their properties and it's just not going to happen.
In my next posting I will review the local condo market. In the meantime my 2nd Quarter Georgian Triangle Real Estate Newsletter is available online summarizing the overall market for the first six months of 2009.

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Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


Direct: 705-443-1037

Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230


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