14 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Broker

14 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Broker

Homeowners may think real estate brokers are all the same, or that they will only spend a couple of weeks with the person, so it doesn’t matter—but when you’re bringing another person into your life, your finances, and your home for weeks at a time, it’s crucial to take the time to choose the right one. That’s why its important to consider these questions when selecting your real estate broker.

Top Questions to Ask a Real Estate Broker

You’re Thinking About Working With

A good real estate broker becomes your business partner, advisor, best friend, and therapist. Choose wisely, or you’ll be stuck with someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with, or worse, someone you don’t trust.

Before a home goes on the market, a top-notch real estate broker will recommend necessary design changes, remodeling, and staging. You will likely speak with your broker every day, and when offers start to come in, you’ll speak with them several times a day. That’s why you need an all-around amazing real estate broker who you know you’ll get along with well.

Interview several brokers before deciding upon one—if they can’t answer some of these questions to your liking, find someone else. When doing background research, you’ll find the answers to a lot of these questions on a broker’s website.

Take this checklist to meetings with your broker and don’t settle until all of their answers are to your satisfaction.

1. Can You Pass Along a List of References?

Every listing broker—and homebuyers’ broker for that matter—should have recent transactions. They should be willing to share those with you and should be happy to provide you with the contact information so that you can use them as references.  Don’t just ask for a list of references, make sure they are recent references and get at least 5.

2. What Is Your Listings’ Average Days on Market?

Always ask to see how long their listings sit on the market. Compare it to other brokers interviewed, and if theirs is oddly high, ask for an explanation. If they can’t attest to why, find another broker.

3. What Is Your List-to-Price Ratio?

A broker can show the prices at which they list a home, but more important is to see how that compares to the price the homes actually sell—up to date, of course.

In order to do this, you will need to get a spreadsheet of all the sales the broker has had in the last 12 months and compute the results.

This is important to assess a broker’s ability to price a home effectively.  If the broker’s ratio is low, then you know he is overpricing his listings and likely giving you a higher price estimate than what your home will likely sell for.

4. Have You Sold Homes in This Neighborhood?

Communities differ greatly in terms of what types of the types of homes and how they fit buyer’s tastes, that is certainly the case in Montreal. To sell a home, brokers are also selling the neighborhood and its perks. If a broker has experience in your specific neighborhood, it’s a major advantage.

5. Have You Sold Homes in This Price Range?

A home’s price range can dramatically alter decisions for marketing and selling a house.  Brokers should understand the market.  If the broker you are speaking with primarily works in lower or higher priced markets, they may not understand your market.

6. How Long Have You Been a Real Estate Broker?

Be cautious of new brokers, but it’s not a deal-breaker if they have stellar referrals. You want to make sure your broker has the experience and knowledge to avoid rookie mistakes.

7. Are You a Part-Time or Full-Time Broker?

Be far more cautious if a broker is part-time. Selling your home needs to be a full-time job, and they should be focused on their profession.

8. How Many Sellers Are You Currently Representing?

Focus is also a concern for brokers who are juggling several listings. You don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.  A broker who has too many listings isn’t going to be able to interact with interested buyers and broker’s in a prompt fashion which may end up costing you a good offer on your home.

9. What’s the Ratio Between Buyers and Sellers You Represent?

Listing brokers need to be experienced in, of course, the listing process. If history shows far more experience on the buying side than the selling, the broker may not have enough experience and understanding of the current market.  Working with a broker who primarily lists homes has a behind the scenes understanding of how to market a home and how strong the market really is.

10. Will I Be Working With You Directly or a Team?

If every time you call to get a hold of your broker you have to be routed through several people or brokers, this is a red flag.  You need one point of contact that has intimate knowledge of your home and can give you an update on your home’s status on the market.

11. How Do You Plan to Market the Home?

Every realtor should have a proven and tested marketing plan—period. Find out about your broker’s plan to get your home noticed by buyers.

12. Do You Have Professional Trades People in Your Network?

Experienced listing brokers should have experience with reputable and reliable tradespeople such as a handyman, stager, house cleaners,  moving companies, cleaners, landscapers, etc… Part of the benefit of working with a real estate broker is access to their vast network.

13. How Do Your Realtor Fees Work?

No surprises, understand ahead of time how to pay the realtor. Typically listing brokers work under split commission. See what the broker charges and how much commission they offer to the cooperating broker.

14. How did you Pick the Comparables for Your CMA (comparative market analysis)?

The CMA is what the broker will review with you that will help explain what they believe your home will sell for.

It’s likely that every broker you interview will have a different perception and use different comps.  It’s important to understand what comps the brokers used and why they felt those were the best comps to use.

This will help you understand how well the broker knows the area and how confident they are in the price they give you.

Contact Us Today!

 

You Can’t Install Bamboo Flooring Like You Would Hardwood!

Bamboo is very popular throughout Quebec, especially as a flooring material. Its long-term durability and superior strength make it the par excellence alternative to hardwood flooring.

But you can’t install and maintain it like you would ordinary wooden floors. Let’s shed some light on the matter and answer any questions you might have. 

Bamboo’s strength and durability are widely recognized by building professionals.

Bamboo’s strength and durability are widely recognized by building professionals.

Step 1: Prepare the Subfloor

Step 2: Prepare the Boards

Don’t forget to let the wood acclimate to the room before installing it.

Don’t forget to let the wood acclimate to the room before installing it.

Step 3: Lay the Floor

Bamboo flooring is just as beautiful as hardwood, with a touch of the exotic.

Bamboo flooring is just as beautiful as hardwood, with a touch of the exotic.

Beware of Low Prices

A quick tip: be cautious when buying bamboo flooring. Bamboo’s characteristics can vary widely. For example, cutting the wood too early will result in a weaker poor-performing product. Price is often an indicator of quality, as is the FSC label, which certifies that the bamboo was grown in compliance with dozens of criteria, such as waiting for the plant to mature and being cultivated without the use of pesticides.

Bamboo flooring offers several significant advantages. Installing it effectively will ensure that it will remain a beautiful addition to your home for years to come.

Article originally published on Mon Coin de Vie

10 Tips to Brighten Up Your Home When You’re Feeling Low

Whether under lockdown or not, it is always important that our living environment contributes to our well-being. Even the smallest additions or changes to a home can have a significant impact on the occupants’ state of mind.

Have you been feeling down lately? Try these 10 tips to brighten up your home: they may well boost the morale of all family members.

Bring in light and greenery for more energy.

Bring in light and greenery for more energy.

1— Add (Living!) Plants

Indispensable allies, house plants not only purify indoor air by converting a part of the CO2 into oxygen but also add life to the rooms of our homes. Of course, the effect will be null and void if you opt for fake plants instead.  

2— Increase Natural Light

There is evidence to suggest that light levels affect our mood. While the blue light of screens excites our neurons, it’s the sun’s rays that invigorate us. Of course, a dose of sunshine is no panacea — it’s no cure for a broken heart — but it will most definitely give you the lift you need.

3— Get a Breath of Fresh Air!

Poor air quality might also affect our mood and even cause headaches. To breathe truly healthy air, you must live in the country and be surrounded by trees. But you can still improve the ambient air in your city home by opening the windows a few minutes every day.

Decor accessories that are soft to the touch are very soothing, as can be a furry companion!

Decor accessories that are soft to the touch are very soothing, as can be a furry companion!

4— Add Soft Textures

If happiness can be found in a heartwarming cup of coffee, surely it can also be experienced in a warm and cozy setting. Your mission then is to soften your living environment! Surrounding yourself with smooth gentle textures, like a thick rug, a good quality faux-fur throw, silky sheets, a plush bean bag chair that you can really sink into, etc., will have you feeling better in no time. 

5— Treat Yourself to a Clean and Organized Home

We sometimes forget the importance of cleanliness: a spotless house can really contribute to a positive attitude! There’s nothing more disheartening than a pile of dirty dishes, dust bunnies accumulating in the corners, or a messy bathroom. For some, even invisible clutter (a disorganized drawer, dresser, attic, etc.) can cause them to feel glum.

6— Indulge in a Comforting Scent

You’ve probably already noticed how you react to different smells. Eucalyptus may remind you of a pleasant spa afternoon, cinnamon may be linked to happy Christmas memories, or lemongrass may take you back to your childhood. Use an essential oil diffuser or scented candles to perfume the air with fragrances that make you feel good.

Liven up the most depressing rooms in your home with bright colours.

Liven up the most depressing rooms in your home with bright colours.

7— Splash on Some Colour

Vibrant yellow, barn red, emerald green and sky blue are all colours that can improve your mood. Get through those grey days by adding these energizing hues to every room of your home with framed paintings or art prints and colourful accessories.

8— Create Your Own Hideaway

If you share your home with lots of people, you may need a little peace and quiet to regain your smile. Consider creating a private area for yourself. It can be a reading nook in the living room, an entire unused room, or even the garage. Make it pretty and comfortable so it can be a heaven of solitude, especially when you feel like you’re about to explode!

9— Rethink Your Lighting

Each room in the home should have lighting options that are adapted to its purpose. For example, in the dinning room subdued lighting is ideal for eating, but strong focused light is better for teleworking. In the living room or in the bedroom, softer lighting is needed to create a calm ambiance so install a dimmer switch or position table lamps and floor lamps where needed. These are the kinds of details that can significantly enhance how good you feel in a particular room.

Place some photos of friends and family here and there to remind you of the good times.

Place some photos of friends and family here and there to remind you of the good times.

10— Decorate with Personal Photos

How about designing a gallery wall with photos of your family and friends to decorate a room? Or placing pictures taken on trips or during important occasions here and there in the living room? These personal items may well gladden your heart and make you smile.

You shouldn’t expect miraculous results, but these ideas may very well revive your spirits. Try a few of them out!

Article originally published on Mon Coin de Vie

7 Excellent Reasons to Move to Estrie

People who want to get closer to nature while not sacrificing their urban lifestyle are flocking to the Estrie, or Eastern Townships, region. Are you considering relocating there? Here are the top 7 reasons why you should take the plunge!

The Estrie region offers a wide range of outdoor activities. Photo courtesy of Instagram@richardgingras

The Estrie region offers a wide range of outdoor activities. Photo courtesy of Instagram@richardgingras

1- Miles of Fun

Proximity to nature and the Eastern Townships go hand in hand. Hikers and cyclists can enjoy a large number of paths and trails to get in shape or admire the beautiful scenery. The region has hundreds of kilometres of routes spread across its many municipalities and picturesque national parks.

2- Communities that Are Both Modern and Rural

Several of the Townships’ municipalities and villages are renowned for their country charm, especially Magog. And while many of the buildings they contain are modern, there is a definite sense that the preservation of historical architectural features has been made a priority. In fact, some villages are members of the Association des plus beaux villages du Québec, such as Frelighsburg, Stanstead and North Hatley.

3- A Skier’s and Snowboarder’s Paradise

What drives many people to buy a house in the Eastern Townships are its mountains, which are perfect for cross-country skiing, downhill skiing or snowboarding. Bromont Mountain and its 7 mountainsides, Mont Sutton, Mont-Orford and Owl’s Head are the most popular. People come from all over to tear up the slopes!

There are many top-rated restaurants in Estrie that showcase local food and produce. Photo courtesy of instagram@kimgaudreau

There are many top-rated restaurants in Estrie that showcase local food and produce. Photo courtesy of instagram@kimgaudreau

4- A Food Lover’s Dream

Agritourism and fine regional cuisine are ubiquitous in this part of Quebec. No matter where you live, there is a nearby bistro, inn or restaurant offering local delicacies. The Eastern Townships are likewise home to more than 20 vineyards. Plan a road trip and drive along one or all the area’s Wine Routes – including the 140 km Brome-Missisquoi circuit – for a complete epicurean getaway.

5- A Cultural Hub

The past is given pride of place in Estrie as each municipality is eager to promote and share its local history. The Township Trail tells the story of two centuries of history and follows the footsteps of the Americans, Loyalist, Irish and Scottish settlers who shaped the region. Other heritage gems that are open to the public include the Moulin à laine Ulverton, the Musée ferroviaire de Waterloo, the English tea route and the Maison de la culture John-Henry Popo in Cookshire.

Many are enchanted by the rural character of many municipalities’ main street. This photo taken in North Hatley is courtesy of instagram@tourismenorthhatley

Many are enchanted by the rural character of many municipalities’ main street. This photo taken in North Hatley is courtesy of instagram@tourismenorthhatley

6- A Healthy Economy and Natural Environment

Economic conditions in the Eastern Townships are generally favourable, thanks in large part to tourism. In fact, more and more businesses operating in a wider range of sectors are emerging, creating jobs and revitalizing major urban centres. The Eastern Townships region also stands out for its commitment to the environment. Green technology is a growing industry there and concrete actions are being taken to raise awareness and encourage citizens, businesses and organizations to adopt environmentally friendly practices.

Bromont, Mont-Orford, Mont Sutton… ski and snowboard enthusiasts are spoiled for choice!

Bromont, Mont-Orford, Mont Sutton… ski and snowboard enthusiasts are spoiled for choice!

7- A Booming Real Estate Market

Since 2019, the value of homes has increased significantly in certain parts of the Eastern Townships, particularly in the Bromont area. Indeed, because of the pandemic, the housing markets in several outdoor-oriented regions across Quebec are flourishing. With its mountains for skiing, peaceful rural lifestyle and relative proximity to Montreal, Estrie is a very desirable location.

Would you like to purchase property in Estrie? Contact a RE/MAX broker working in the region and entrust them with the quest of finding your dream home!

Article originally published on Mon Coin de Vie

10 Rooms in Your Home Elevated with Graphic Art

Graphic art is taking the world of interior design by storm with its delicate motifs, notably in the guise of undulating silhouettes, well defined yet irregularly shaped colour blocks and contrasting lines. This is a very strong trend for 2021. Here are some ideas to inspire you!

Photo courtesy of instagram@maisonsimons

Photo courtesy of instagram@maisonsimons

1- A Cheerful Bedroom

This room is perfect for a teenager or even a young couple who do not take themselves too seriously. The simple shapes printed on the comforter and pillow add an optimistic, playful touch.

Photo courtesy of instagram@bouclair

Photo courtesy of instagram@bouclair

2- Perfectly Classical Graphic Art

Graphic art can also be sober and classical. Use graphic monochrome patterns for a soft yet enveloping ambiance. A large, framed work of art over a piece of furniture is all you need!

 3- Modern Aztec 

Photo courtesy of HomeSense

Photo courtesy of HomeSense

Accessories with Aztec motifs are popping up everywhere this year. Its stylistic elements are quite similar to those of graphic art. Fill your interior with Aztec-themed planters, decorative bowls and area rugs!

Photo courtesy of instagram@crateandbarrel

Photo courtesy of instagram@crateandbarrel

4- A Show Stopping Living Room

The graphic look fits in perfectly with a colourful living room. By multiplying vibrant accessories, tones and shapes, you can create an atmosphere that is both elegant and punchy.

Photo courtesy of instagram@rona

Photo courtesy of instagram@rona

5- A Well Accessorized Headboard

Don’t know how to decorate your bedroom? Minimalist paintings on a tone-on-tone shelf will do. You don’t need to use graphic art in large quantities to make a design statement.

Photo courtesy of instagram@rona

Photo courtesy of instagram@rona

6- Stimulating Wall Art

The popularity of wallpaper and wall art does not seem to be waning and for good reason: get a stunning look with little effort and expense. We love the way they can be used to delineate an area or enliven a wall, like this small home office.

Photo courtesy of instagram@crateandbarrel

Photo courtesy of instagram@crateandbarrel

7-The Return of Naïve Art

There is a strong connection between graphic art and naïve art. This comforter’s patterns are a mixture of both styles. It gives this bedroom that vintage farmhouse feel, making it all the more warm and welcoming, don’t you think? 

Photo courtesy of instagram@westwingfr

Photo courtesy of instagram@westwingfr

8- A Single Item is Enough

As mentioned earlier, it is not necessary to plaster a room wall to wall in graphic design-inspired items to achieve the desired mood. A single cushion on a big, welcoming couch will set the tone.

Photo courtesy of HomeSense

Photo courtesy of HomeSense

9- A Gallery Wall

Covering an accent wall with framed prints in an eclectic mix of patterns and textures is also very trendy. Especially in the living room! Position them either symmetrically or asymmetrically; both layouts will be beautiful.

Photo courtesy of HomeSense

Photo courtesy of HomeSense

10- Not just a pretty face

Faces drawn only in outline, especially those of women, are a favourite subject of graphic artists. The painting in this residence’s entrance – wonderfully paired with a head-shaped ceramic vase – is a perfect example.

Colourful, lively, sensitive and soothing, graphic art will instantly transform any space. Try it in your home!

Article originally published on Mon Coin de Vie

Nailed or Glued: How to Skillfully Remove Fitted Carpeting

Have you just bought a house, but hate the old-fashioned carpets? Swapping them out for brand new flooring may be more difficult than you think. There is always the risk that you will make the process more complicated than it has to be or that the subfloor will be damaged in the process.

In the ’60s and ’70s, it was very trendy to lay carpeting throughout the house as it is soft underfoot and provides great soundproofing. Nowadays, however, many prefer to remove it as it requires more maintenance and because of concerns as to how it might adversely affect air quality.

Whether it was originally nailed down or glued, here is what you need to do to avoid any problems. 

Wear a mask! The glue may release dangerous fumes.

Wear a mask! The glue may release dangerous fumes.

GLUED-DOWN CARPETING

It is harder to remove carpeting that has been glued into place over being simply nailed down. People regularly get injured — often in the back — while carrying out this reno project. Renting a machine specially designed for this purpose can make your life easier. But if you prefer the DIY route, follow these steps.

  1. Assemble your tools: a utility knife (X-ACTO or other sharp cutting tool), scraper (or flexible putty knife), strong flat pliers and a sander. Wear gloves and a mask for protection. The glue may release chemical fumes.
  2. Starting in a corner, cut the carpet into strips with your cutting tool. The strips should be about 25 cm wide.
  3. Using the pliers, lift the strips one at a time.
  4. Detach each strip from the subfloor with the scraper or flexible knife.
  5. Once the entire subfloor has been exposed, sand it down to remove the remaining glue.
Your carpet may be concealing a magnificent hardwood floor. Just give it a good sanding and voilà!

Your carpet may be concealing a magnificent hardwood floor. Just give it a good sanding and voilà!

NAILED-DOWN CARPETING

When the time has come to pull up an old carpet, count your lucky stars if it was originally installed with nails. It will be much simpler to remove than if it had been glued. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t equally a lengthy process. In both cases, you will have to work patiently. Follow these steps.

  1. Assemble your tools: a utility knife (X-ACTO or other sharp cutting tool), crowbar, hammer and pliers. Wear gloves to protect hands from nails and staples. You won’t need a mask.
  2. Cut out a corner of the carpeting, for example, by removing a triangle-shaped piece. If you want to keep the subfloor, be careful not to damage it with the blade.
  3. Slide your fingers underneath the carpet through the opening and pull it to try to lift a section. It is important that you listen to your body during this step: this is when people are most likely to get hurt. If you are not strong enough, ask for help.
  4. If one area won’t budge, you can try another by cutting a corner as in step 2. You can work in several small sections at a time to make it easier.
  5. When all the carpeting has been removed, pull out the nails and staples with the pliers, hammer and crowbar, as needed.
  6. The tack strips should also be removed using the crowbar. It may be necessary to hit the crowbar with the hammer to pry the strips off. Are you simply replacing the old carpet with a new one? Leave the tack strips in place.
  7. If you discover a layer of foam padding under the carpeting, remove it using the same tools (hammer, pliers, crowbar). It won’t cause any harm to leave it in place but taking it off as well will mean a job well done.

Now that your old glued or nailed carpeting is gone, all that remains is to restore the wooden floor to its former glory, if it can be salvaged. In some cases, a throughout sanding and fresh coat of varnish is all you’ll need. Otherwise, simply install the new flooring of your choice.

Article originally published on Mon Coin de Vie

11 Tips for a Windowless Bathroom

Every room in the house should have at least one window to allow for ventilation and to bring in natural daylight. Sometimes, however, this isn’t possible in a bathroom. Fortunately, there are ways to make this minor inconvenience a little less so.

Is your windowless bathroom dark and dreary? Does it make you feel claustrophobic? Do unpleasant odours linger? No problem! Here are 11 tips to address all these issues.

Effective ventilation is your best ally when it comes to preventing smells and mould. Photo courtesy of Pinterest@dreambathroom

Effective ventilation is your best ally when it comes to preventing smells and mould. Photo courtesy of Pinterest@dreambathroom

1- Make Sure You Have Unbeatable Ventilation

Our first bit of advice is to make sure you have an adequate exhaust fan installed to compensate for the lack of air circulation. If your mirror fogs up every time you take a shower, this might be an indication that the system is not powerful enough. A proper fan is essential to preventing mould issues as it will suck out excess humidity (as well as any offending odours!).

2- Shed Light on Shadowy Corners

In a small, dark bathroom with no windows, every nook and cranny should be illuminated. For example, there should be at least one light source at either end of a long and narrow room.

3- Use Bright Sunny Colours

Bright accent colours – like canary yellow or a muted but warm orange – are equally welcome in windowless rooms. They will cheer up a space that would otherwise be spoiled by the lack of sunlight. 

4- Fall in Love with Reflective Surfaces

Polished finishes reflect light, both natural and artificial. In addition to creating the impression that the room is larger than its actual dimensions, it will also maximize the illumination power of the pre-existing lighting. Lustrous ceramic tiles on the floor or wall, lacquered decor accessories, high-gloss or semigloss paint or a big mirror may be exactly what this room needs.

5- Use Pale and Neutral Tones

Dark colours will only make the lack of light in a windowless bathroom even more obvious. It is best to choose mostly sober, pale tones such as white, cream or a subdued grey.

A see-through shower door lets the light in. Photo courtesy of Pinterest@cotemaisonfr

A see-through shower door lets the light in. Photo courtesy of Pinterest@cotemaisonfr

6- A Glass Shower Door

Because of its transparency, a glass shower door is the best option in a small windowless bathroom as it isn’t visually restricting or cumbersome the way a shower curtain can be.

7- Don’t Overload the Space

The less light a bathroom has, the fewer decorative accents and accessories you should use. Think handleless cabinet doors, floating furniture and an overall sleek minimalist decor!

8- Include a Sweet and Subtle Fragrance

When there’s no window you can open to air out a room, bad smells can linger. So why not add an air freshener? Scented candles or an essential oil diffuser will also do a great job of making the ambient air more pleasant. 

A room that smells fresh and clean will keep you from noticing that there is no window.

A room that smells fresh and clean will keep you from noticing that there is no window.

9- Install a Skylight

A drastic yet effective solution, when possible, is to have a skylight installed in the ceiling. But be aware that adding a window is usually a less expensive alternative.

Plants, wood and wicker are all natural material that will liven up your bathroom. Photo courtesy of pinterest@solarcontrator

Plants, wood and wicker are all natural material that will liven up your bathroom. Photo courtesy of pinterest@solarcontrator

10- Go for the Natural Look

If you don’t have a window through which you can gaze out at nature, bring nature inside! Houseplants, natural materials (linen, rope), prints of birds, a mural featuring a sunrise, etc., will give your bathroom the boost it needs.

11- Fake it

This illusion is not easy to pull off but can be very impressive when successfully carried out! The idea is to add a brightly-colour rectangular object (window-shaped) on the wall where the window should be. It can be a wooden panel that has been painted white, a length of white canvas stretched over a frame, or white ceramic tiles. This tip is most effective when paired with a contrasting dark wall colour.

A windowless bathroom doesn’t have to be a negative for your home when you decide to put it up for sale. If properly designed and luminous, visitors may well succumb to its charms.

Article originally published on Mon Coin de Vie