Midwest Minute- Dec 12/18- “Five Questions We Get Asked All the Time”

Five Questions We Get Asked All the Time

I arrived at the office last Friday morning after two days of meetings in Saskatoon and was greeted with a large 15 Year Plaque sitting on my desk courtesy of our western Canadian regional office.

Man, time flies! I still remember how nervous I was walking into the building the first time with only my Alberta license in hand, only to find out there was no formal training program waiting for me.

You see, the RE/MAX brokerage model was designed specifically for experienced Realtors; men and women who already knew the business but wanted the freedom to build their own practice.

I may have had thirty years’ experience in other fields, but I only had text book learning about real estate.

Thank goodness for the patience of my colleagues, who let me shadow them on a few client visits, though I suspected later they just wanted someone to hold the other end of the tape when we measured houses in snow up to our knees!

This has been a great career choice; but certainly not the easiest.

In fact, there have been many days when it has been downright frustrating, but I don’t know of any job that doesn’t have its share of ups and downs.

My success is directly attributable to the clients who took a chance on this country boy, and close to twenty-five hundred listings later, I am still learning something new every day.

Thank you, one and all!

So, it’s a time for a little reflection on what are some of the main questions we get on a regular basis.

Question One – If I want to sell my property, where do I start?
In my opinion, you need to understand what the current market value is and how your property

is positioned in respect to the competition.

As has been clearly demonstrated in the last four years, real estate can go down as well as up. Like any commodity, it all comes back to supply and demand.

Looking at a property for the first time and analyzing its present worth, is one of the most interesting aspects of my work.

Question Two – How long will it take to sell my home?

The answer is “it depends”. Each community has a different buyer pool; there are some with a three-year supply of housing at the current rate of sales!

Whenever I go through a property for the first time, I am not only looking at its specific attributes (size, condition, location, etc.) but also start to form an opinion about the demographic profile of the potential buyer it would appeal to.

For example, families with young children prefer three bedrooms on one level, while those with tweens and teens like the separation of living space provided by a bi-level.

So, length of time on market is in direct relationship to how many buyers are actively looking for what your house has to offer.

Question Three – How much should we allow between our asking price and where we would like to land?

One of my mentors used to say, “price it right, and price it tight!” Personally, I prefer to allow three to five percent for negotiation, although that won’t stop someone coming in with an offer two thirds of asking price.

Question Four – We have been given a “low ball” offer; should we ignore it or attempt to negotiate?

Offers unsubstantiated with comparable sales make sellers angry, especially with “hit and run” buyers who are just fishing to see if there is enough distress in a household to take whatever they can get.

I recommend responding with a counter closer to asking price and see if the buyer will act in kind.

If they don’t, thank them for their interest and move on. If they do, methodically exhaust the negotiation and then decide if you want to sell at the final price point.

Question Five – I’m leasing my property out until it sells, and the new tenant wants me to enter into a “rent to own” agreement. Is this a good idea?

I will probably anger some readers but most of the time I believe this to be a very poor business practice for owners.

The tenant knows you want to sell and if they can convince you to keep the property off the market then they don’t have to move as often.

Almost all the pitches I hear the landlord is asked to put aside a portion of the rent until it accumulates into a suitable down payment.

So, the owner must save a portion of his/her income to benefit the tenant who apparently can’t? Why would anyone give up their right to sell a property to a person who can’t afford to buy it?

Only way this arrangement makes sense to me is when the tenant provides a monthly payment over and above the market rent based on a schedule with a clear end date and sale price.

Even then, I always counsel sellers to seek legal counsel first. It’s a risky proposition, even with family and friends.

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

Midwest Minute- Dec 5/18- “Dirty Tricks”

Dirty Tricks

Our region has seen an uptick in rural crimes of opportunity and other unscrupulous activity as the economy continues to be under pressure.

People lose their jobs then turn to drugs in an attempt to block out reality or they simply get desperate to find the means to buy groceries and pay for a roof over their head.

They need to come up with money somewhere so turn to stealing and other scams to make “easy bucks”.

Several weeks ago, a Realtor friend of mine received a phone call asking if the house listed for sale by her was truly available for rent?

Turns out the caller had spotted an ad on Kijiji then phoned the purported owner and was told if they gave an immediate deposit via electronic transfer, the monthly rental amount would be significantly reduced as an “early signing bonus”.

Fortunately, the caller noticed there was a MLS number in the corner of the photo and thought something was amiss.

It was. The photo had been “scraped” from the national real estate website and pasted into the ad.

Then there are the intentional attempts to deceive buyers by owners choosing to not disclose important defects.

A new wall built inside a bowed basement foundation so that it appears to be straight; at least until you take a good look from the outside.

Houses put on the market in the winter, so the snow covers deteriorating shingles.

Water wells with very slow recovery but refilled by a portable tank out of a truck.

Septic fields that are close to being sealed from years of use and can no longer drain adequately.

Periodic gray water backups into the basement from clogged sewer lines.

Seepage from spring thaw or hard rain coming through basement windows or cracks in the concrete walls.

Appliances not sold in working order; or as happened to me early in my career, swapped out for an older model after the home inspection was completed.

Natural gas furnaces installed without a service line to the house. Yes, a true story. Then there are the higher-level deceptions.
Commercial / industrial / farm property with contaminated soils.

“Traditional” property lines which significantly vary from the legal ones or those people who simply ignore the boundary altogether.

I can show you one quarter of farmland where the neighbor intentionally dumped rocks on the neighbour’s property for years.

I mean, why would you want to have rocks on your land when they can be stored offsite? The illegal drainage of surface water to create more cultivated acres.

Some people think if they can get the water to flow downhill on to the neighbour’s land by trenching, they are only assisting nature.

We have even seen landowners dig up survey pins and move them to suit their own purposes. One was in a new development in the City, by a homeowner who wanted a bigger yard.

The other was perpetrated by a cabin owner at a popular lake so there was more room for a garage he wanted to build.

By the way, don’t consider doing this; it’s seen very dimly by the Court. Very dimly.

The list of infractions is seemingly endless. And it’s not restricted to real estate. There are plenty of schemers wherever money is involved.

As a Realtor I try very hard to prevent these tricks being played on my clients using contracts with strong statements, disclosure requests, and inspections by competent third parties.

But I can’t stop what takes place in private transactions.

So, my friends, live by the old hockey standby and “keep your head up”, especially when handling the puck yourself.

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

Midwest Minute- Nov 28/18- “All in the Family”

All in the Family

This was the name of a television show back in the 70s’ featuring the tensions between two generations of adults living under one roof in a large city.

On a weekly basis it demonstrated how tension could build from the difference in personal values of each age group and how they saw the world.

It was in stark contrast to another popular series of the same decade, The Waltons, which showed the loving interdependence of three generations living together in one home during the Depression in rural Virginia.

In my opinion one of the most difficult type of acreages for a Realtor to sell is the one roof home that has two main level quasi-independent living units.

If this type of housing was in town it could be likely portrayed as a potential revenue property but out in the country, most owners seek privacy from neighbours, not intimate close quarters.

There are lots of folks who dream of living where the stars can be seen and coyotes howl, but realistically it is a small buyer pool at the best of times.

Offer a unique design home and the number of interested people shrinks dramatically.

Frankly I commend any family that can share adjacent living quarters under one roof.

Too often I have been called in to sell the property after one or the other inhabitant has left; sometimes for health or employment reasons, but mostly because interpersonal relationships have reached the breaking point.

Clients state the original reasons for the multi-unit design was reduced construction cost and increased support for activities of daily living; both valid points.

Most rural municipal governments will not allow two independent residences in the same yard site on a parcel size less than a quarter section, therefore the drive to build under one roofline.

I’m sure there is a good reason for the zoning bylaw but to me it would make more sense to allow a version of the “garden house” so popular in progressive urban centres.

My Grandma Jane lived in a small park-model mobile home in her daughter’s yard. It gave both parties some breathing space.

As kids we could go visit her and be sure to get a cookie, then return to the big house in search of another one!

When she could no longer live there, a neighbour relocated the structure for a lake cabin.

Of course, most rural municipal councils have no problem with approving a second residence being established in a farm yard for the hired man and his family.

Granted it is not on a ten acre site, but even so the density of housing is still nowhere close to an urban setting.

I think they should re-visit their reasoning for discriminating based on parcel size.
It would make for a more prudent investment by the landowner and achieve the desired goals.

So, in the spirit of Hollywood perceptions of life as one big happy family all I can say is “Goodnight, John Boy!”

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

Midwest Minute- Nov 14/18- “When Your Life is at an Intersection”

When Your Life is at an Intersection

When I think about it now, I either was very confident or terribly naive when making decisions as a young adult on what to do for a living.

I changed careers numerous times after high school starting out as an accounting clerk for a local chartered accountant while studying at night by correspondence for a diploma.

One intense tax season convinced me to become a banker instead; which within 6 years turned into an adult educator role within the same organization.

When we decided to raise our children close to their grandparents, I applied to become a chief executive officer of a new regional home care program; a position which eventually morphed into leading a much larger integrated health care organization.

Three years later I stepped out of my comfort zone and became self-employed as a management consultant, a career I thoroughly enjoyed but unfortunately success in it kept me away from home over 150 nights per year.

Not a healthy circumstance for me or my family and frankly, quite tiring to do when one lives at least two hours from the nearest airport.

One year, I drove to Regina, Moose Jaw, or Edmonton at least once per week to work with clients.

By this time, I was in my late 40s’ and decided to settle in on real estate as my “sunset” career and strive to keep it in balance with my responsibilities in a growing family livestock operation.

The reason I tell you all this is to point out there are “intersections” all through life, where one must decide to go right, left, or straight ahead.

Sitting still means you are likely in somebody else’s way or at risk of being run over. A dozen times per week I am asked “is this the right time to sell / buy?”

Most of the time the person is wanting to know what value they can expect for a particular property.

But more and more, the discussion turns to the reason for the question in the first place.

And there are so many reasons for trades in real estate; all of which have really very little to do with price.

Relationship breakdown, a couple starting out together in life, births, death, change in employment, retirement, health issues, the list goes on.

I have been guided throughout my life by pursuing a more strategic course, instead of worrying about the tactical “how”.

This personality trait could be considered a weakness I guess, especially by those who have never doubted their role in the world.

For example, many of my friends from high school never moved farther than a few miles from where they grew up and as it turns out, staying on the family farm has proven quite lucrative for them, especially with strong commodity prices experienced in the past few years.

So, I was quite surprised the other day, when one of those gentlemen said to me that he wished he had taken a different path than the obvious one beckoning to him upon graduation.

“What did you want to be?” was my response.

“A helicopter pilot” said he, “like the man in your last column who sold his trucking business and now flies scientists into remote locations at the North and South Poles”.

“My dad thought I should learn to captain a tractor instead. He never doubted I would continue the family farm established by my grandparents.”

This conversation got me thinking about the choices we make in life, and what guides us.

Do I have regrets about some of my choices? You bet.

Did those experiences shape me? Yes.

I was in Calgary last week representing the Saskatchewan Real Estate Commission at a retirement function of a prominent member of the industry.

There were a hundred or so people in the room. I knew only two at the outset.

So, I did what I learned when consulting. Walk over with a smile to the group having the most fun, introduce yourself, ask gentle questions, listen closely to the answers.

It’s amazing how many connections you can make if you are interested in what people have to say.

So, if you are at a crossroads please don’t sit too long. Put yourself in gear and move ahead with confidence.

At the very least, activity will absorb anxiety!

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

Midwest Minute- Oct 31/18- “When It Is Time to Let Go”

When It Is Time to Let Go

I was fourteen when my parents bought a house in town.
The old one on the farm was falling into the dirt cellar, so they had a choice; rebuild or move.

Mom loved her gardens; you read right, gardens! Dad ran a modest sized mixed farm with both grain and cattle.

They were in their early fifties but with me being the last kid at home and apparently not planning to stay on the farm, it came time to decide.

A compromise was reached. April to October on the farm. November to March in town.

It worked, although Mom simply added another garden and lawn on the oversized lot.

Dad had his winter workshop in the garage in addition to the welding shop on the farm.

The cattle and pastureland were sold. Winters could now be devoted to bowling, cards, playing pool, and volunteer activities.

My wife and I did come back ten years later with children in tow and started buying back the family farm but that’s another story.

My parents kept this seasonal home strategy up for about fifteen years at which point urban living was adopted fulltime.

Mom passed a dozen years later, with Dad staying on for about four more until he could no longer live alone and moved into a continuing care facility.

By this time, my brother and sister in law had retired to Vancouver Island and I was working as a Realtor off the farm.

When visiting Dad one day in the nursing home he instructed us to sell the house and disperse the contents as we saw fit except for a few heirlooms he wanted given to specific family members.

Thankfully, big brother and my niece, his oldest daughter, volunteered to clean out the house.

What a job! It took a week. They set aside the dedicated items, then invited the adult grandchildren to take what they wanted.

The rest was either put on the front lawn for free pickup by the community or thrown into a big dumpster parked on the driveway.

They filled the dump truck sized container twice. I had to order a special one just for the metal stored behind the garage.

Who keeps a hundred ice cream pails with lids? Or has three freezers, one of which doesn’t work?

People who lived through the Depression. They learned to keep functional items in case it was needed later.

Admittedly, the inoperable deep freeze had been used by Mom to store hand made quilts, each labelled in clear plastic for the intended recipient.

The other basement freezer had about a five-year supply of fruit and vegetables in it.
No one was going to starve in her house!
As I age, I find many of my clients are going through a similar transition.
It can be a deeply emotional time, and quite challenging for all the stakeholders involved. Mature sellers usually need just a bit more time to think and make decisions.

However, their buyers are often a generation younger and sometimes don’t have the necessary patience.

In almost every family there will be an adult children or grandchild, who for reasons of their own, try to derail the transaction, provide poor advice, or simply add stress to the situation.

Dig deep into their motivation, he or she often will be feeling a sense of loss or unresolved family issues, and it comes out in opposition to Mom or Dad’s wish to make a move while they are still in control.

There have been times when I have had to confront the family member and ask what is motivating their uncooperative behavior.

I have learned, upon preparing to list a property, to ask one of the adult children to act as a pivot point for communication with the extended family as we make the necessary ongoing decisions.

This individual acts as a safety valve, and in some cases, a buffer between the negative individual and those who are trying to be part of the solution. They can rally support as well.

Where it gets difficult is those times no one in the family will step up to help Mom or Dad.

I am sure there are plenty of good reasons for alienation between a parent and child but being too busy with one’s own life isn’t one, in my opinion.

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

Midwest Minute- Oct 24/18- “It’s All an Education”

It’s All an Education

Fifteen years ago, when I made the choice to go into real estate, I considered it to be my “sunset” career; something I could do and still be involved in the family livestock business until the day came to retreat to somewhere warmer in the winter.

Not that I had any plans to quit working, then or now, but still from the outside looking in I thought “just how hard can this be?”

Sell a house here and there, meet some interesting people, learn some new skills, should be a piece of cake.

Boy was I in for a shock.

Being that the brokerage I was going to join is in the bi-provincial community of Lloydminster, the local real estate board requires member Realtors to become licensed in both Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Wanting to start in the profession as quickly as possible, off to Edmonton I go for three weeks of intensive schooling in a college setting.

Once I got my Alberta license, I could do some supplemental study in Saskatchewan and challenge the entrance requirements there.

I hadn’t sat in a classroom environment since enrolling in the Executive Development Program at the University of Calgary years prior as preparation for achieving a national designation in health care administration.

Amongst the sixty or so candidates was a prince of The Sultanate State of Oman.

He held a master’s degree from Oxford and was on a two-year international post education program preparing him to become the Minister of Health for his country.

There was also a neurosurgeon looking for a career after the operating room and several dozen chief executive officers of large health care facilities or government agencies from across Canada.

Here I was, a country boy from a small town in Saskatchewan, simply wanting to improve my understanding of our national health care system so I could do a better job back home.

Thank goodness for two Newfoundland gentlemen who felt as intimidated in the setting as I did, as we were able to create an informal study group and encourage each other through.

One thing I did learn though. There are very few people, especially adults, who want to write a test to prove they are ready for the next stage.

The prince and surgeon were both mental wrecks the night before our final exam.

The boys from “the Rock” and I went out to a local pub for a couple of brews, figuring if we didn’t know our stuff by now, well it was too late anyway.

We all passed. I am not saying I won the valedictorian award or anything, but I came home with the designation I had studied for.

Looking back the most valuable lesson was realizing life presents ongoing learning opportunities if you choose to recognize them.

So, when I met my fellow classmates in Edmonton, I quickly realized we all were there to get the best start in this new profession as we could.

The hardest working students were landed immigrants from Vietnam and China.

Although English was their second language they came with significant educational backgrounds, and a strong desire to succeed in their chosen country.

Many of them were supporting parents and other family members.

You must respect that. When they had difficulty understanding the Torrens land title system, my rural background kicked in, so we stayed after class one day to review townships, range roads, etc.

I believe real estate is one of those careers where life experience counts more than academic standing.

You may come into this field with calloused hands or having raised a family but it’s your ability to adapt to new situations and read people that counts.

You also must know yourself. Your values will be continually challenged, as will your personal time and family commitments.

Frankly I was unprepared for the emotional component. Coming from health care, I had seen real estate as more of a sales game.

Not so. It is about helping people make transitions as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Their circumstances may be troubling; relationship breakdown, poor health, death, job loss, bankruptcy.

So, to improve my ability to serve clients, I continue to seek out those in the industry who are smarter than me and learn from them.

Life’s is simply too short to make all the mistakes myself!

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

Midwest Minute- Oct 17/18- “People or Property?”

People or Property?

To progress in any business, you need to constantly be on the lookout for new ideas that may work for challenges in your situation.

I had a four hour drive in front of me one day last week so decided to listen to a podcast from an American real estate agent who was championing a different way to describe property when listing.

His premise was you need to tell the story. Don’t focus on the attributes of the house, but who had lived in it or the kind of home it could be.

Sort of the real estate version of the car only driven by a little old lady to church on Sunday.

Now, I agree to a point because every time I am walking through a property I am not only looking at its physical characteristics, I am also starting to visualize the demographic profile of the potential buyer.

But it got me thinking about the people who I have met over the last fifteen years; it is a cast of characters who could keep a reality TV show running for several seasons.

I’m pretty sure many would not want their story told or certainly the circumstances under which we met.

There was the mature couple who asked me to list their former “herb drying farm” along the forest fringe so they could return back east to retire.

It was my first exposure to cannabis cultivation on a semi-commercial scale.

If you met them, you would never suspect they had supplemented his off-farm road construction wages by supplying a select list of customers, most of whom worked alongside him.

Or the young man, fresh out of rehab, standing nervously in the living room of his house while we both watched some rough looking dudes cruise by several times apparently waiting for me to leave so they could have a heart to heart talk with him about an overdue drug debt.

But then, I think about the bachelor who decided one day to sell his home, shop, and oil hauling trucks to follow a long-time dream of becoming a commercial pilot.

Not only did he achieve that goal, he spends the summer in the Artic and other half of the year in Antarctica, flying scientists and their supplies into some of the most remote camps on the planet.

In his spare time, he takes National Geographic quality photos of places, people, and wildlife he encounters along the way.

Or the young woman, who, with her four year old daughter, walked away from an abusive relationship to start a new life.

We looked for months for the right house in her price range and I still remember the tears in her eyes when the day came for me to hand her the keys.

It wasn’t a mansion but was solidly built with lots of potential. I drive by the immaculately maintained yard from time to time just to remind myself why I am in this business.

Then there are the people who are so focused on themselves and their wants, you wonder how they get through life.

A man who isn’t satisfied with a deal unless he can declare himself the winner.
The woman who looks at forty or more houses over two years but just can’t decide.

I don’t like bullies; never have. I have either fired or refused to work with clients who are too aggressive or simply greasy.

Thankfully most people are balanced and just need us to help them to make a transition at a particular point in life.

So, I will continue to be somewhat old school, and go on describing properties technically, not graphically. Potential buyers can look at the photos and video virtual tours to determine their interest.

My job, as I see it, is help people see the potential but realistically, at the end of the day, a property must sell itself.

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

Midwest Minute- Oct 10/18- “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land, or Is It?”

This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land, or Is It?

This past week I have been reading the fall edition of Outdoor Life.

Almost every article of this well written American produced publication mentions the access issues facing U.S. sportsmen, whether hunting or fishing in their country.

I can relate but from a different perspective.

My father and older brother taught me how to hunt whitetail, grouse, and rabbits.

We went moose hunting north of Turtle Lake once when I was a teenager, but I got lost one afternoon, and once they had tracked me down in the knee-deep snow, we had to go out by compass and matchlight.

They never took me again. Frankly, I don’t blame them.

While I always enjoyed being with them, in later years it was also fun just quietly walking through the treed pastures on my own.

Not being a morning person, I left the goose hunting at sunrise to my oldest son.

Today, my family act as stewards to almost 3,500 acres of farmland in NW Saskatchewan, either as owners or tenants.

We will watch a herd of elk all summer long roam a township but come fall, subsistence hunters and poachers seem to substantially reduce their numbers.

A highlight of an afternoon fishing trip to the bank of the North Saskatchewan last July was watching a bull elk herd his harem of cows and calves across the flowing water just upstream from where were standing.

We had a mother moose and her calf grazing in an alfalfa field just off our front lawn this summer. From time to time a bear will clean up fallen apples from a tree in our son’s yard.
One year, we spotted a young coyote plucking them out from under an early snow cover.

It was fun to watch a family of rare black foxes grow up in the horse pasture in front of our house until the papa was shot by a passerby one August evening, assumedly for the tail, as the fur would not be of any value that time of year.

As a matter of policy, we don’t post our pastures “no trespassing” but do ask on our signage for users to respect the land, giving a phone number if they have any questions.

Most people will call and ask permission to enter, but of course, game cameras often catch unauthorized users going by on an ATV or with a rifle over their shoulder.

Even more concerning is the seemingly increasing amount of crime and theft in both small towns and rural districts of both provinces.

Gone are the days when neighbours felt comfortable driving into a yard to borrow a wrench or tow rope.

If you live in the country, you literally can’t lock everything up; especially on a working farm or ranch that is active seven days per week.

Two weeks ago, at the owners’ invitation, I stopped by an acreage I had listed for sale to refresh outside photos of their house and garage since they had recently replaced the shingles.

As it turned they weren’t home at the time.

I wasn’t there five minutes before the neighbour across the road came driving in to see who was walking around the yard.

We both had a good laugh, and I congratulated him on his watchfulness.
With many areas having operating oil wells, there is always traffic to and from. Our family enjoys a good working relationship with the local oil production staff.

Many of them grew up in the community and watch for anything unusual, whether it be a cow calving in the back forty or a suspicious truck on the prowl; a form of Crime Watch and extended family, all in one.

It is a great feeling to know our interests are being looked out for by those around us.

However, you can’t get the truck or tractor stuck at the edge of a roadside slough without having someone commenting on it, either.

But that’s life in the country!

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

Midwest Minute- Oct 3/18- “Something to Think About”

Something to Think About

I have seen my share of change in six decades, but nowhere near what my parents must have encountered.

I grew up in a home with six families in our district sharing a “party” line.

Today, it is hard to imagine a world without the Internet and cellular phones. In fact, like many households we no longer maintain a land line.

I still remember the first time I connected a home computer to the World Wide Web using a dial up service; it was like having access to a global library 24 hours a day.

Mind you, it was slow as pouring cold tar.

Man, has it ever evolved from there!

I was working as a management consultant in the mid-90s’ when I heard a speaker from the Silicon Valley in California describe how computers would soon go from dedicated networks inside a building to being linked to a faraway data center.

And that data center would be backed up to several others across the country to offer what was called “.9999 redundancy” ensuring no one would ever lose their stored data again.

You would no longer need to buy software and install it on your PC; it would be sold to you via a subscription model by downloading an “application”.

He called it “cloud computing”.

The technology became so acceptable, one of earliest adopters were the lottery programs, so people like you and I could walk into any convenience store or mall kiosk to buy a chance at winning millions of dollars while doing our bit to fill the public purse.

It wasn’t too long afterward when “smart” phones were introduced. Described by some as small computers you put to your ear, owning the newest generation became a status symbol.

Of course, everybody talks today about the apps they use, from searching for recipes to buying grain. Who buys a road map anymore with MapQuest available?

Need an answer to a problem? Turn to Google, Yahoo, or YouTube.
Love to track what families and friends are doing? Join Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat.

Want to read an opinion on a current event from a celebrity or politician? Sign up for Twitter. I still don’t see the value in that frankly, but I guess many do.

Making the biggest investment of your life? Search for a house on any number of web sites. No need to use an experienced agent. Everything is accurate on the Internet isn’t it?

That is about as true as saying every lottery ticket is a winner.

Don’t get me wrong, I love how technology can make aspects of our real estate business so much easier.

For example, our team has been producing video virtual tours for eight or more years now.

Not only does it give potential buyers the opportunity to view how a property flows from one room to the next, it also cuts down on the “lookie-loos”; people who have no intention of buying a home but want to get inside to see how it is decorated.

Just like the fax machine did before it, digital signature programs like DocuSign provide a quick and secure method for buyers and sellers to enter into a contract. Particularly useful when Snowbirds wing it south for the winter.

Thinking of buying a rural home? Information on water wells is available on line in both provinces.

The list goes on.

What isn’t available digitally is the experience and skill of your local Realtor.

For that, you may have to engage in a conversation.

Not text. Not email. Not a phone call. Face to face.

Sounds old fashioned I know, but you might be surprised how much value he or she can bring to the table.

How you say? Well, after working through a few thousand problems in the course of daily activity over a number of years, their experience, combined with yours might just create a dynamic and collaborative network.

A meeting of the minds, so to speak. Now there is an application to have. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

Midwest Minute- Sept 26/18- “Seven Rules for Buying in a Slow Market”

Seven Rules for Buying in a Slow Market

This column is dedicated to those folks who are a) serious about steadily increasing their wealth, b) have the capital in place to participate in the market without losing sleep over any one deal, and c) really like working and investing in the real estate arena.

Many of these principles can also work for the one-time transaction as well. First, four different avenues which have been proven to be successful.

Offer to trade. If you presently have a home that is too small or too big, make it known you will consider a trade either up or down.

We will soon be entering the fifth since the price of oil crashed. There appears to be some economic recovery, albeit at a snail’s pace.

In the meantime, life has gone on. Babies were born, young adults moved out of the basement, a son or daughter have come home with their children in tow, relationships have broken up, new relationships have been formed; you get the idea.

After this lengthy slump, there are many people who want to make a transition, but feel stuck in neutral, or worse yet, reverse.

We have put together four trades in the last thirty days, involving three houses and an acreage; it was nice to see everyone happy again.

The second opportunity is buying a foreclosed property.

It sucks frankly, that we have these houses and acreages available because it means someone lost their home, but mortgage lenders often offer deep discounts just to get the property off their books.

They don’t want them, hate paying for maintenance and utilities, don’t want to be known as the big bad banker, and are usually quite willing to negotiate.

The third strategy is being the first to offer on a listing, or conversely the last.

A mistake here is assuming the seller is so motivated they will consider any offer.

Not true! In fact, many homeowners at the time of the initial listing are still grappling with the emotion of letting go of something familiar, even loved, so jumping on a property quickly with an offer below asking price can be counterproductive.

However, there are a small percentage of listed properties where the owner would welcome a quick sale.

So researching why a property is being offered for sale, can be just as important as determining fair market value.

Like anything else in life though, avoid making assumptions. It can be quite embarrassing and counterproductive.

Experienced fix and flippers have a fourth principle; establish a logical pathway to determining when a house is right to buy.

They build a strong relationship with a trusted real estate agent who continually scouts the marketplace for prospective properties and upon spotting a contender, emails over an information package.

The client does a “drive-by” to determine if the location is favorable to their interests, does a quick analysis of the attributes and price, and if still interested at that point, books an onsite viewing through their Realtor.

Together, they discuss the scope of the work needed to bring it up to optimal value, and if completed, the prospective resale price based on comparative sales.

If promising, an offer is made.

Knowing not all offers are accepted, the buyer needs to predetermine what their “top line” will be.

Which brings me to the three things not to do when negotiating.

When you find an acceptable property, but can’t reach a deal with the owner, don’t leave them angry.

Many times, in my career I have had sellers come back a few days, weeks, even months later asking to reopen discussions with a sincere buyer.

Happened just last week as a matter of fact.

Don’t force the math to make a deal work. Overpaying for a property with a “cost to cure” hurts cash flow and reduces your ability to move it on to the next buyer at a profit.

Last of all, be patiently positive. Opportunity always seems to find people with money.

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.