experts: real estate column Thursday, September 27, 2001

Seller doesn't have to accept asking price offer

Readers have a lot of questions about real estate. Here's a few of general interest.

By Ozzie Jurock

This article appeared in The Vancouver Sun on September 22, 2001

Many of you have sent me your real estate questions. Actually too many. Here is a sample - hopefully - of general interest. I have abbreviated your questions and taken out all the "I like your story." stuff - I love it ... but I am a legend in my own mind already. Just remember in any investing there are no short cuts. In the end we all have to exercise our own best judgement. And as the old saying goes: "Good judgement comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement."

Question by R.W. Coquitlam: We listed our property for 90 days. On the 67th day my husband learned that his transfer to Winnipeg did not come through. Before we could cancel the listing, we received a full price offer. In our discussions with our salesperson we learned that we needed to go through with the deal. Now we wonder?

Answer: Not having to move to Winnipeg, eh? There is no need for you to accept any offer. Not full price, not over asking price ... NONE. However, depending on how the listing contract was written you may be liable to pay the full commission. (After all your salesperson did a good job and brought you a full price offer, thereby having fulfilled his part of the bargain.) Again, if the agent told you, that you HAD to accept it (which I doubt) you have recourse against him or her.

Question by S.T. of Vancouver: You point out that condos sell only 20% in Edmonton and Calgary and approach 50% in Vancouver and you make the assumption, that that makes Vancouver the better buy. Why?

Answer: Yes, Edmonton's condo sales as a portion of all residential transactions ranged last year from 15% to 18%. Calgary's clocked in at around 20% Vancouver has more than double the condo buyers. Calgary in August transacted 2,028 sales with only 407 condo sales. Thus as a seller your 'market' for condos would have been only 407 buyers, but for houses there were 1,521. Vancouver on the other hand in August saw 1,374 single family home sales and 1,198 condo sales, almost evenly divided. A much larger part of the marketplace to sell your condo into. Of course, none of that is relevant if you DO NOT BUY RIGHT. We are advising our subscribers that some markets in condos are overheating (new pre-sales in Calgary and Toronto - watch out).

Question by F.C. in Vancouver: What is the difference between median and average price and which is better?

Answer: The average price takes all sales, adds them together and divides the total price by the number of units. The median price shows that level under which half of the sales took place and OVER which the other half of the sold. I.e. if we had 4 sales at $100,000 and 1 sale at $600,000 ... on average the price would have been $200,000 ... not really reflecting what really took place. On the other hand the median price would have been just over $100,000 a much more realistic reflection. Median prices tell a better story.

Question by C.C. of Vernon: What do you think of late night TV make lots of money fast real easy real estate schemes?

Answer: There ain't no such thing. Making money in real estate means WORK, STUDY, TIME and most of all it takes GUTS. There is no such thing as getting rich quick in real estate. Ask yourself: If the guy selling the program is so good, why doesn't he get rich buying and selling real estate? Answer: It is easier and faster to get rich to sell you a course! A handful are simply scams. A number of US ones do NOT even apply in Canada and vice versa. Buy my book (ahem, well it is cheaper) or go to the library, do some research, meet Realtors and get out and look ... and be prepared to work ... you are better off.

Question by L.J.: I'm looking for a condo at the moment (single family dwellings are out of my price range), and am thinking of waiting until the BC Packers site in Steveston is developed. I love the area and if the price is right ...

Answer A lot of questions about areas. Areas are subjective. To me the key here is the word "love". Buying your personal home, the main criteria should be "I place my right elbow on the fireplace, and in my left hand I have a glass of wine ... I sigh deeply with pleasure and say ... that is me!" End of discussion.

Question by F.S. in Tsawwassen: We can bring the length of our mortgage from 25 years to 14 years, but we'll have to tighten our belt and do without a few things. What is the best length for optimum results?

Answer: There is no best term. It is always individual. I personally feel that the pre-occupation with paying it off is overdone, if it comes at the expense of my life. Never ever stop going out for dinner to save on mortgage payments ... You are a human being not a human doing! Be!

Question by P.W. Surrey: What is the difference between a townhouse, a suite, and apartment and a condominium?

Answer: The townhouse, the suite and the apartment are all condominiums. 'Condominiums' denotes a lifestyle and a legal description of the entity. The others denote the style of accommodation. Thus a townhouse generally is a two or three level side by side home sharing common walls. A suite and an apartment generally denote one level living - yet, all are condominiums. Under the Strata Title Act a condominium ownership means that you own your unit to the center of the walls that are adjoining - all around.

Question: How do I attract investors from overseas to my real estate offering?

Answer: Please remember, that the 'surfer' from overseas likely is not using 1. English and 2. Is likely not using a .com search engine. If he is from Germany, he will likely use words such as "Immobilien" (real estate in German), or if he is from France, he likely will use "Immobilier" (ditto). From England, she will likely use 'property' rather than 'real estate' and all of them are much more likely to use THEIR search engines than ours. Yes, it IS logical. A German surfer would likely use AOL, but not, but rather (for Deutschland); an Englishman is much more likely to use an .uk extension, etc. Also, some search engines you know already as a .com, have European extensions. For instance, Altavista goes in Germany under, whereas a true blue German search engine would use something like this: Of course, if you do place links on any of these local language sites, it'll help if you have a local (i.e. German) language execution. Finally, there are many private sites in Europe (much like that accept listings free and in English ... one such is Phew ...

See's Ask an Expert if you would like to ask a real estate question.

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