Thursday, December 22, 2005

Fourth Highest MLS Month on Record in November


Looks like November was another banner month, if you haven't seen the press release from CREA yet... here it is.

National MLS® home sales climb in November
Higher activity in Alberta and Ontario

National existing home sales via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) rose to their fourth highest seasonally adjusted monthly level on record in November 2005, according to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association.

Activity also remains on track to set a new annual record in 2005. Transactions for the first 11 months of 2005 were just half a percentage point lower than total MLS® home sales recorded in 2004.

A seasonally adjusted total of 41,724 homes traded hands in November, representing a gain of 1.6 per cent compared to the previous month. Higher activity in Alberta and Ontario more than offset fewer sales in British Columbia and Quebec. Year-to-date, transactions were running 4.9 per cent ahead of levels recorded during the first 11 months of last year.

Sales activity reached its highest monthly level on record in Alberta and New Brunswick, and set new records for the month of November on a national basis and in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Year-to-date, actual (unadjusted) sales increased compared to the same period in 2004 in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Seasonally adjusted MLS® residential new listings totaled 64,621 units in November, a decline of 0.8 per cent from October. The decline in new listings and an increase in sales caused the national resale housing market to tighten in November compared to the previous month.

Seasonally adjusted dollar volume totaled $10.6 billion in November – the third highest monthly level on record. Dollar volume set a new monthly record in Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and reached its highest level ever for the month of November in every other province except Prince Edward Island.

The national MLS® residential average price hit $256,126 in November, shattering all previous monthly records. Average price rose 11.0 per cent compared to the same month in 2004.

November was also the sixth consecutive month in which year-over-year price growth exceeded 10 per cent. MLS® residential average price reached its highest monthly level on record in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, and set new records for the month of November in every other province except Newfoundland.

“Continuing growth in full-time employment and rebounding consumer confidence in November mean that economic fundamentals will continue to support strong housing activity in the coming months,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump.

“The small increase in mortgage rates in November may have prompted many prospective homebuyers to jump into market in order to take advantage of pre-approved mortgage rates.

With the Bank rate hike in December and more increases expected next year, resale housing activity is expected to gradually drift lower in 2006 as homes prices continue to rise,” Klump added.

CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighborhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.

This report is published by the Communications Department of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Further information can be found at http://www.crea.ca/.
For more information:
Gregory Klump, Chief Economist
(613) 237-7111
gklump@crea.ca

Search All Edmonton and Area MLS listings at www.edmonton-homes.ca.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Big Advertising on a Small Budget

Found a new website today called "Business Know-How" that has a ton of great articles about running a business. This article talks about getting the most bang for your marketing buck, and has a true-story about trying to sell a home using the agent whose "name was everywhere in my town" and is having a terrible experience.

Big Advertising Strategies on a Small Business Budget
by Anne M. Obarski

I am always amazed by business owners who say that they can't spend any money on advertising. Many of them validate that idea by saying, "Besides, most of my business is by referral." Building a business based on repeat and referral business is admirable. It simply means that clients are so pleased with the value of the product or service they receive on a consistent basis, that they become "cheerleaders" for that company. Consistency is the key word.

If a company combines a strong, branded advertising campaign to an already strong marketing and service program, that becomes the foundation for a successful business. I use the example of a three legged stool. One leg is your product or service, the second leg is your marketing and advertising and the third is the customer service you or your employees offer, all on a consistent basis. If any one of the legs has a "weakness," the stool is going to wobble.

Have you ever had a wobbly table or stool in your home? You probably tried to fix it by putting something under it to stabilize it. It was just a "band-aid" and not a true correction. It fixes the problem for a while, but sooner or later it will start to wobble again and at that point you probably say it is time to replace it.

Customers will be happy to be a cheerleader for you if you are consistent in how you run your business. After all, their reputation of referring a good company is on the line. Each of us has the ability to recommend or discredit a company based on past experiences. What is more important is that we have a circle of contacts that could either become a referral stream or a business choker.

Companies would be smart to study the three following statements and focus on how that could affect your "word of mouth advertising."

1. You don't know who I know!
I am in the midst of selling a home. I think I would rather have brain surgery than go through this again. I have bought and sold 5 houses in my life and this has been the worst. I firmly believe that the job of a real estate person is to make the job of "selling" the house as easy as possible. That is, if they are willing to do the work to make things happen seamlessly.

I chose my real estate person because her name was everywhere in my town; mistake number one. Mistake number two was that I didn't interview at least three potential agents to find out what their plans would be to sell my home in the shortest amount of time. Her focus is on how many houses she can list and not the service she could offer in order to make me a happy customer. I have told everyone I know that I would never use her if I had to do it all over again.

Unhappy customers like to tell other people and that is a fact. 95% of unhappy customers leave a business because of uncaring employees. Unfortunately, I have a binding contract and I am stuck. I have a reputation of being the person to call when you need just about anything because everyone knows what I do for a living. You can imagine how many people I can influence with just one sentence. Now the question is, what will that sentence sound like?

Do your employees realize the importance of treating each and ever customer like they have a golden tongue? They can build your reputation or ruin it with the words, "I wouldn't use anyone else but..." The question is, "Is your name the one that follows the word "but"?


2. I don't know who YOU know!
Every business owner loves to hear a client say that they were referred by another happy customer! Day after day you probably have new customers walking through your doors who were referred and you didn't know it!

So how can we increase that number? One simple word, "ask"! A basic sales class will teach you that if you don't ask for the sale you won't get it. So why don't we ask for referrals? We are scared of the answer "I don't know anyone." That is like asking a person the age old question "May I help you?" You know the answer is going to be "No, I'm just looking."

I recommend changing the request to: "Mrs. Smith, I know you have shopped here a long time. I hope that you will mention our name when one of your friends is looking for ..." Better yet, tell Mrs. Smith that for every third person she refers who come in and actually buy, you will give her 25% off her next purchase!

Everyone knows someone who can use what you offer at some time. The point is to use your own mouth and become a shameless self promoter! Just ask!


3. Have a "Super Bowl" commercial!
Do you remember what kind of hype occurs just before the Super Bowl? Football, yes; but the biggest hype is about the commercials during the game. There are teasers before the game and then there are "arm chair quarterbacks" critiquing the commercials on the early news channels on Monday morning. So what makes them so important? They are memorable and they are repeatable.

That's where big business and small business owners differ. Big businesses realize that if you are out of sight you are out of mind. They spend billions on advertising to make sure you don't forget. If I said the words, Target, Dell, Wal-Mart, McDonald's and gave you crayons and asked you to draw their logos, you probably could without even having an artistic background. Those logos are embedded in our brains. Strategically executed like a well run battle plan!

However, you may be saying; "I'm not one of the 'big guns' and I could never begin to develop an advertising plan like that." You probably can't. But what you can do is create a 30-second commercial that perfectly describes what you do so that your "cheerleaders" can repeat it to everyone they know.

Here is an example. I have a favorite restaurant in my town that I love to recommend. When anyone asks where I think they should go to eat, I become the biggest cheerleader for this family owned restaurant. I say, "You have to go to _____because they have the best cold salmon salad that will ever pass through your lips and the atmosphere and service are unbeatable." If you just screwed up your nose when I said salmon, then how about the hot apple pie and cinnamon ice cream dessert that is to die for.

Each and every one of us has done commercials for businesses that we like to do business with. What do you do that is unique or different that makes you and your business memorable. If you could eavesdrop on a conversation between one of your satisfied customers and a potential client, how would they describe you and what you do?

You'd be surprised the different ways people would describe your business. The question is, are they pin-pointing what you want to be known for? If not, then maybe your "Super Bowl" commercial isn't memorable enough. Work on a sentence that describes you or your business and practice saying it whenever you meet someone who asks; "so tell me about your business." I once worked with a financial planner who said that people walked the other way when he told them what he did. I said, "Why don't you tell people that you help them sleep better at night." He really looked puzzled, but the end result of managing your finances well is that you probably will sleep better at night. It also was a definite conversation starter!

You may not have the million dollar advertising budget, but you could have word of mouth advertising that affects millions.

Real Estate Law

I am no lawyer and am not giving you legal advise. If you need legal advice get it from a legal professional. I found this very interesting article on Real Estate Contracts from the commercial law blog



Time Really is of the Essence

Many agreements for the sale of property include provisions that “time is of the essence”. This means that the time set for the performance of the various obligations of the parties under the contract is an essential term of the contract. However, what happens when a party to a contract which includes a time is of the essence provision fails to fulfill one of its obligations in the time period specified? Is this a ‘fundamental’ breach which the non-defaulting party can rely on to terminate the contract, regardless of whether the breach was subsequently rectified?

In the recent decision in 1473587 Ontario Inc. v. Jackson (74 O.R. (3d) Part 7, 539-550; appeal dismissed by the Ontario Court of Appeal, 75 O.R. (3d) 484) the Ontario Superior Court of Justice considered the following scenario: a major grocery store operator entered into an agreement of purchase and sale which provided that a deposit was to be paid within five days of acceptance of the agreement. However, through oversight on the part of the purchaser, the deposit was paid a few days later than stipulated. The purchase agreement included a time is of the essence provision, and the vendor took the failure of the purchaser to deliver the deposit on time to mean that the agreement was at an end and entered into an agreement to sell the property to another purchaser. The original purchaser sought a summary judgment for specific performance.

In deciding whether to require specific performance, the court considered, among other things, whether the intention of the parties was to be able to rely on strict compliance with the terms of the agreement. The applicable provisions read as follows:

21. This offer, when accepted, shall constitute a bind contract of purchase and sale, and time in all respects shall be of the essence of this Agreement.
22. Time shall be of the essence of this Agreement, but no extension of time for the making of any payment or the doing of any acts hereunder shall be deemed to be a waiver or modification of or affect this provision.

The Court found that these provisions clearly required that any breach of any of the obligations set out in the agreement requiring performance at a particular time amounted to the breach of an essential element of a contract. The failure of the purchaser to deliver its deposit at the specified time period amounted to the breach of an essential term of the contract which the vendor did not waive and which it was entitled to treat as ending the agreement regardless of the fact that the purchaser displayed every intention to complete the contract and in fact cured the breach shortly thereafter.
In light of the foregoing, all time-sensitive obligations in contracts which include time is of
the essence provisions should be strictly complied

Bronwyn Atkinson

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Is real estate static?

Of course it isn't, but you certainly don't want it around your computers. Here are a few tips for protecting your investment in technology.


KEEP YOUR OFFICE STATIC FREE

There are three basic ways to control static in your office: 1. You could add a room humidifier to moderate the humidity to higher levels. This is the most expensive option, but may have other (better breathing air) benefits. More humidity (but not lots) diminishes static naturally; 2. You can use a carpet spray - usually found at Staples or Office Max - that is "anti static" in each of your seating areas. That frequently helps and the spray should not discolor your rug in any way. Likewise, there are "anti static" Chair Mats you can get for under each seating area and even for walkways you travel down halls; 3. You can get an Antistatic wrist wrest and mouse pad; they are moderately effective at catching last minute static, too. Keep in mind that today's computer equipment is MUCH more rugged that in days past; the average little static zap is not as harmful as they used to be. That being said, a few simple precautions to lower static zap frequency might be all you need.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

And you thought all you needed was a web site

Do you target first time home buyers? This article gives some tips on what you'll need to be up to date on when the "echo boomers" start buying real estate.

RISMEDIA, Dec. 16—“Echo boomers, also known as Generation Y, will drive home sales into higher price points over the next five years,” according to Pamela O’Connor, CEO and president of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World™ (http://www.leadingre.com/), the largest network of independent residential real estate firms in the world.

“There are nearly 80 million of this new generation and they’re already having a significant impact on the economy.” Born between 1982 and 1995, Echo Boomers, so called because they are the demographic echo of their Baby Boomer parents, make up nearly a third of the U.S. population and already spend $170 billion a year of their own and their parents' money.

O’Connor suggests some possible ways to prepare for these up-and-coming buyers: Become Media/Tech Savvy – Since Echo Boomers are the most sophisticated media generation ever, creating their own Web sites and making their own CDs and DVDs, real estate agents need to ensure they’re proficient in the use of developing technologies.

Familiarize Yourself with Pop Culture Trends – Since Echo Boomers determine and affect pop culture, Realtors should be aware of trends in music, entertainment, celebrities and fashion.

Familiarize Yourself with Popular Brands – Hoping to drive future home sales, many products and designers are partnering with residential developments to create appealing brands.

Don’t Forget Their Parents –Many wealthy retiring Baby Boomers are likely to invest in homes for their children.

Real Estate Humor - A history of real estate

This was posted on 'agents online' from an agent in Montgomery, Md. While a few of the facts are scant I can see scholars everywhere rethinking their positions on Agents. I didn't even know we've been helping build communities since before time began. Enjoy its a good laugh.

A Brief History Of Real Estate Agents

6 MILLION BC: God searches for a planet to establish life. Encounters real estate agent from "Lucifer's Planets & Gardens" who says "I've got a great deal on a fixer-upper just 90 million miles from the Sun."

5.9 MILLION BC: God buys the Earth and, after the closing, discovers it is a mass of molten goo. Angry, God confronts the agent and banishes him to spend eternity wearing polyester suits.

4 MILLION BC: God creates the ocean and the seas. By accident, a pool of pond scum transforms itself into the National Association of Realtors.

3.5 MILLION BC: God creates Florida.

3.49 MILLION BC: Thousands of real estate agents crawl out of the ocean to scout good condo locations. Market immediately crashes when agents realize that "snow birds" won't be invented for another 2 million years.

3 MILLION BC: A meteor crashes into Earth. The resulting crater creates a giant black hole filled with green ooze. The Multiple Listing Service is born.

2.45 MILLION BC: God makes Adam and Eve. However, delays in constructing Garden of Eden force Adam and Eve to live in an apartment eight months.

244 MILLION BC: Shopping for a move-up garden, Eve visits an Open Garden and encounters a fork-tongued real estate agent who tells her, "Garden, why would you want another one of those? I've got an entire apple orchard you can have real cheap."

243 MILLION BC: Adam and Eve become the first humans to truly understand what it means to buy from a real estate agent.

550 BC: Jealous of rising property values, real estate brokers in Greece devise a way to attack Troy by using a Trojan Horse.

42 BC: Cleopatra decides to build the Pyramids. Real estate agent and builder try to convince her that Squares would be much cheaper.

30 BC: Rome touted as "the hottest housing market in Europe" Thousands of buyers flock in to make deals with real estate agents.

29 BC: Rome real estate crashes. Julius Caesar calls a meeting of his advisors to see what can be done. Chief real estate broker Brutus suggests Caesar tours Rome to inspire consumer confidence. "Just lead the way," Brutus says, "I'll be right behind you."

500 AD: Middle ages bring major real estate slowdown. Agents are forced to take second jobs as undertakers. Scandal breaks out when agents are discovered to be removing gold fillings from dead people.

1308 AD: Real estate agent list a tower in Pisa, Italy as a "one of a kind property. Solid building guaranteed not to lean."

1492 AD: Christopher Columbus lands in America. However, he mistakenly believes he's in India, thanks to a bogus land survey provided by a Spanish real estate broker.

1620 AD: Pilgrims land on Plymouth Rock. First colonial real estate agent promises Pilgrims that Massachusetts is "always sunny and warm. Never drops below 70 I swear."

1621 AD: Giant blizzard nearly wipes out Pilgrims. Real estate agent is banished to New Jersey.

1626 AD: Manhattan bought for 100 beads and trinkets from the Indians. The Indians' real estate agent takes 6 beads as a commission.

l803 AD: Napoleon shocks and angers French real estate agents when he sells Louisiana to United States without an agent. At 515 million, sets record for largest "FSBO" (for sale by owner) sale in history.

1867 AD: United States purchases Alaska from Russia for 2 an acre, after Russian Czar is given advice by real estate agent that Alaska is "utterly useless" land with no value at all.

- The above was from Kelly's Bar Jokes at Kellys.com

Sorry just a few of my own additions

1991 AD: Multiple offers on Kuwait, by the U.S. and Iraq. Poor advice from Iraqi agent leads to foreclosure. Several years later the United States Savings and Loans steps in with a Billion dollar offer. First offer rejected. Negotiations ongoing. Agent received all kinds of precious art work for services rendered prior to closing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Realtors Need a Paradigm Shift

This article gives further evidence that when you offer consumers something of value on your site they will return, but force them to register to view listings and they will just find another site...

RISMEDIA, Dec. 13, John Boudreau, www.ionmarketinggroup.com — According to a recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine, more that 70% of consumers say that they are unlikely to purchase from or return to a site after encountering “register for more information” log-on pages that block access to promised content.

Let’s apply that statistic to real estate Web sites. Often, Realtors require their potential customers to login in to get access to MLS listings and “free” information. At Ion we’re finding that a huge percentage of Web site visitors are just not ready to buy or sell a home right now. Asking them to login just drives them away. The key is to afford them access to information until their ready.

Think about it. If you had a retail store that sold expensive cameras, would you stop your potential customers at the door and ask for their name, phone and e-mail? If you did, pretty soon you wouldn’t have any customers. The “I don’t want to talk to you unless you’re serious” attitude needs to stop if real estate professional hope to truly service this growing market.

According to Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby Awards in San Francisco, “Before, the goal was just to get people onto their site. Now the goal is to offer them information, links and services that can help them.”

Realtors must go through a paradigm shift. A paradigm is “a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality”, according to dictionary.com. Reality had changed. Realtors must re-evaluate the tone of their Web sites. The content and information should project the idea that “we care about you, even if you’re not ready to buy right now.” In doing so, Realtors will set themselves up for a steady flow of new customers who are ready to buy or sell now.

Cendant Splits - Silverman to lead

Real estate franchise giant Cendant said today that it's plan to separate into four independent companies is on track, with the spin-off of the new Real Estate Services company expected in the spring of 2006.

Cendant's Chairman and CEO Henry Silverman will become chairman and CEO of the new Real Estate Services company when the spin-off is complete, and Richard Smith, who initially was to be the CEO of the new real estate company, will serve as vice chairman and president of that company, according to a company statement this morning.

"The Board, my colleagues, our advisors and our lenders felt it was important for me to remain involved as CEO of one of the new companies, and Richard Smith and I agreed that I could provide the greatest benefit at the Real Estate Services company," Silverman said in a statement today.

Silverman will remain chairman and CEO of Cendant until the corporation has separated into four public companies. The company also noted that Silverman would not receive any compensation as an executive of any of the new companies.

In addition to real estate, Cendant has holdings in the travel distribution, hospitality and automobile rental businesses, each of which will be spun off in 2006 as individual public companies. The Hospitality company is expected to spin off next summer and the new Travel Distribution Services company in early October.

In announcing the progress and executive changes today, Cendant also revised its fourth-quarter financial projections due to challenges within its travel distribution division. The company now projects fourth-quarter earnings per share of 23 cents a share, at the low end range of its previous projection between 23 cents and 26 cents.

Cendant also announced, for the first quarter of 2006, estimates for its year-over-year growth in revenue and EBITDA, excluding the company's former mortgage business, of approximately 8-10 percent. Earnings per share from continuing operations (before separation costs) is expected to be 18-20 cents per share.

The first quarter of 2006 is anticipated to be the last quarter that Cendant reports consolidated results.

Cendant primarily provides travel and residential real estate services. The company's real estate brands include Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Commercial, ERA and Sotheby's International Real Estate.

posted on innman news today
www.teamjohnston.com

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Website Award: 5 out 5


Website Award: 5 out 5
I believe the proof is in the pudding. If it tastes great then its great. From a marketing perspective I'm very proud of what Sara has done to our pudding. As our director marketing and technology, she has designed one of the best, most user friendly websites anywhere. I mean it. Just compare for yourself. Simple to use. Professional looking and very functional for our customers.
Recently Results net awarded us 5 out 5 stars for the very things I just mentioned. When I compared our site to other recipients I was absolutely beaming with pride. We believe in a quality presentation and quality service. The face we put out onto the web reflects our clients to. Just take a look at some of the websites out there even the other award winners and I think you'll agree with the people at results net.

More about results net:The Results-net Web Site Awards are awarded to those real estate related web sites that demonstrate excellence in design, usability and effectiveness, and show a commitment to using the Internet as a means of delivering information and providing service.

There are three awards that are given.

The Five Star Award is representative of the Top 1% of Web Sites
The Four Star Award is representative of the Top 5% of Web Sites
The Three Star Award is representative of the Top 10% of Web Sites

Visitors to award winning sites can be assured that they are experiencing the best sites the Internet has to offer.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Happy 42nd anniversary - dad


Yesterday marks 42 years of real estate for Ken Johnston. Happy Anniversary Mr J. Thanks for being such a great mentor, friend and father. There is so much for us to be proud of and thanks for all your sacrifices. I have learned first hand how difficult it must have been to coach all 3 of us boys in hockey, be the 7th member of the million dollar club and go on all those family vacations. The amazing thing is you're still going strong. I'm proud to be your partner.

Here's looking at you kid!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Marketing 101

You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say, "I'm fantastic in bed."

That's Direct Marketing.

You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a gorgeous girl. One of your friends goes up to her, and pointing at you says, "He's fantastic in bed."

That's Advertising.

You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and get her telephone number. The next day you call and say, "Hi, I'm fantastic in bed."

That's Telemarketing.

You're at a party and see a gorgeous girl. You get up and straighten your tie, walk up to her and pour her a drink. You open the door for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her a ride, and then say, "By the way, I'm fantastic in bed."

That's Public Relations.

You're at a party and see a gorgeous girl. She walks up to you and says, "I hear you're fantastic in bed."

That's Brand Recognition.

(From the agents online forum - posted by Benjamin R. Sovacool Realtor®Century 21Mike Miller Realty, Inc.)

Ladies - all I have to say is, we all know it's all FALSE ADVERTISING!!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Create Your Own Free Real Estate Website

Network News and Coldwell Banker Johnston Real Estate invite you to create your Point2Agent site today, for free.

Key reasons you might want to consider a Point2 Agent site:
  • Search Engine Optimization – a Point2 site allows you to optimize for the search engines like no other. It’s easy to see the results, just go to Yahoo, search for real estate in your area, click on the top sites and chances are they will be Point2 Sites (just look for the Powered by Point2 logo at the bottom of the homepage).
  • Statistics – tracking activity on your site is as important as getting people to visit your site; it tells you what parts of your site and which marketing efforts are working best. The Point2 system gives very detailed reports on the traffic coming to your site.
  • Customization – With Point2 you can customize everything, including uploading your own templates and customizing navigation buttons.
  • It’s free – you can create a complete site, for free, and have it for as long as you’d like. Then, once you’re ready you can upgrade your site and take advantage of all the features Point2 has to offer. Start building your free site now.