Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
In October I ordered a new garage door from Home Depot here in Collingwood. Home Depot promotes the fact they they install what they sell and offered both a "do it yourself" as well as an "installed" price for the door.
At the time I placed my order, it was my intention to install the door myself but in the interim I have become increasingly business serving my clients and upon being notified that the door had arrived, decided to pay the extra amount and let Home Depot's installer handle the project. Easier said than done.
After making not one but two trips back to the store I was ultimately told they could not install the door. No reason was given but I had my suspicions. Picking up the door was filled with trials and tribulations as well, taking the better part of an hour for their staff to find all the sections to the door and the accompanying hardware, track etc. It was apparent that merchandise being held for customer pick-up could be just about anywhere in the store and not necessarily all in the same location.
Needless-to-say I was not impressed with there unwillingness or inability to install the door nor with the extended waiting period it took for them just to find it. They made losing an 8' garage door seem pretty simple. Too bad having them install it wasn't as easy.
After installing the door (myself) I phoned Home Depot's Customer Care Department to register my dissatisfaction. Low and behold I got the answer I expected. It would appear their "system" as in computer can't handle an installation request for an item once said item has been ordered. In other words if a customer changes their mind, becomes hurt or otherwise can't install the product they had purchased on their own and would like to pay Home Depot to install the item be it a garage door, flooring, kitchen or whatever, too bad, their system won't allow it.
This is a classic case of the "tail wagging the dog." I am a big user and believer in technology but it's there to support your business not dictate how you run it. I suggested their system needed to be re-programmed. When a customer is standing there with cash-in-hand wanting to pay what is one of the largest retailers in the world for their service and they can't help you because their "system" will not allow it, something has gone terribly wrong.
Business these days for many companies is tough enough. When you allow the shortcomings of your computer or data system to prevent you from satisfying a customer and generating revenue, you're in real trouble. It's time Home Depot revisited their procedures and systems in order made some much needed changes that will allow them to be a little more customer driven. There are after all, other shopping alternatives and Home Depot has all but lost me.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
With the U.S. unemployment rate climbing, the housing crisis continues to show no signs of letting up with a record 14.4% of mortgages either in foreclosure or delinquent, this according to a recent story in the Globe and Mail. The U.S. unemployment rate is now at its highest level in 26 years and even those homeowners with conventional seemingly low-risk mortgages are facing the prospect of going into default. One in seven U.S. homeowners is either in default or at least one payment behind and millions more are under threat of losing their homes in the next two years.
As I have always maintained, a low interest mortgage is of little benefit if you are jobless and can't make the payment and a growing number of Americans are now finding themselves in this unfortunate position. Housing activity is seen as one of the benchmark indicators to economic health. Real estate sales and the related economic spin-off purchases that come with them play a significant role in driving the economy. The latest sobering statistics pertaining to the U.S. housing market would suggest they are a long way from a full economic recovery.
I couldn't help but notice lately a proliferation of car ads on U.S. television networks by dealers putting a significant emphasis on "credit" availability. Isn't the over-extension of credit how this whole mess started in the first place? Until some stability in the U.S. jobless rate is achieved and people can afford to meet their debt obligations, it is unlikely we will see any improvement to the U.S. economy overall.
As one area newscaster commented on this morning, General Motor's current debt load exceeds that for the entire country at the time of JFK's assassination in 1963. That really puts into perspective the depth of the "muck and mire" our neighbours to the south now find themselves in and it is going to be a long and messy climb back to a healthy U.S. real estate market and economy overall.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
In the last 2 to 3 weeks I have received calls or emails from consumers seeking some guidance with respect to the sale of their homes which at the time of their contact with me were not actively listed for sale. In these instances, the sellers were asked by the REALTOR® representing the potential buyer to either sign a short-term "Listing Agreement" ie: 4 or 5 days, or to sign what is known as a "Seller Customer Service Agreement." The fundamental purpose of these agreements from the REALTORS® perspective is to ensure they get paid a commission should the house sell.
Having a seller sign a formal "Listing Agreement" for a few days in order to facilitate them showing a property to their buyer client is rather pointless. With all of the conditions typically inserted into today's offers ie: financing, attainment of insurance, completing a home inspection etc. it is highly unlikely that all of those conditions will be satisfied in such a short time frame before the listing expries unless the Listing Agreement is extended. One of the short-term listings in question had an offer accompanying it that was conditional on the buyer selling their present home in a couple of months!
The "Seller Customer Service Agreement" is the more appropriate of the two documents to use when bringing forth a buyer for a property not listed for sale and I have used this form for numerous transactions. This Agreement has dates both for the commencement of the Agreement as well as an expiry of said Agreement. Secondly it stipulates the commission to be paid by the Seller either in terms of a percentage of the sale price or just a set fee.
There is however one alternate means for a REALTOR® to sell a home that is not listed for sale and to be paid for doing so. Have the buyer pay the commission. Most REALTORS® dealing with buyers these days have or should have in place a "Buyer Representation Agreement." This Agreement establishes a formal agency relationship between the REALTOR® and the buyer(s) thus appointing the REALTOR® to act as their agent. As with the "Seller Customer Service Agreement," the "Buyer Representation Agreement" also can facilitate a commission to be paid to the REALTOR® by the buyer for successfully acquiring a property on their behalf. Although used less frequently having a buyer pay the commission removes that burden from the seller whose home is not actively listed by them for sale and this can help in the negotiation process with respect to price.
The bottom line is, it is not necessary for a seller to sign a short-term Listing Agreement in order to have a REALTOR® show their non-listed property to a potential buyer or to bring forth an offer. There are other alternatives that can facilitate an accepted "Agreement of Purchase and Sale" being achieved with the REALTOR® being paid for their efforts.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Year-to-date unit sales in Collingwood are up 4.9% with 236 proprieties sold to the end of October versus 225 last year. In the Town Blue Mountains, sales for the year now total 136 properties which is a 13.3% increase over the 120 units sold in the same period last year. MLS® sales in each individual municipality for the first 10 months of this year ranked in order are as follows:
- Town Blue Mountains 13.3%
- Collingwood 4.9%
- Clearview -2.9%
- Wasaga Beach -4.8%
- Grey Highlands -10.0%
- Municipality Meaford - 19.5%
The bulk of the sales activity we see continues to be at mid to lower end of the market with 83% of the sales below $350,000. This is a percentage of total sales that has not changed in the last three years. Year-to-date 2009 sales above $500,000 total 102 units compared to 100 in 2008 representing just over 6% of the total market. Again this percentage has changed little in the last three years although it has been in the last 3 to 4 months that higher end property sales have resumed a similar pace to what we were seeing prior to the commencement of the current recession.
The big question on many consumer's minds is that of pricing. As President of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board last year, it was my contention that we would not see any significant reduction in prices in our market. One year later that is now essentially fact. The 12 month average price in our area has in fact risen (0.8%) from $280,724 in October of 2008 to $283,009 this year. Average pricing however is an ever-changing number that is affected far greater by the mix of properties selling than by inflation or deflation. To obtain an accurate synopsis of pricing requires an in-depth look at your neighbourhood and or property type. Recent reviews I have conducted in this regard indicate that pricing is fundamentally stable with the only significant price reductions coming from those listings that were over-priced to start with.
As always, if you have any questions or comments please consult the writer and I would be happy to assist you without obligation.
Monday, November 2, 2009
330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4
Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230
- Rick Crouch
- Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.