FAQs

Why Hire Me?

There are lots of real estate agents out there, lots of brokerages too. So why decide to work with me?

Well, I really think I know the market here in Kingston as well as anyone. I moved to the city in 1980 and, except for a half-dozen years when I lived in Toronto seeking literary fame, I’ve been here ever since. I went to Queen’s University and studied Film. I live in the downtown core with my partner, Sam, and our two kids, Lucian and Willa. Sam’s mum is in Harrowsmith, north of the city. My parents are in Amherstview to the west. I know the area, that’s what I’m saying.

I also work hard. I’m a full-time agent. And I take the pricing of your most valuable asset – your house – very seriously. If I’m off by ten grand, that’s money you’ll never see again. And if you’re a buyer (and I guess you’ll have to trust me on this), I’m a good, tough negotiator. If you’re the doubting type, I’m pretty sure I can hook you up with past clients for a frank discussion about my abilities. I have a very good reputation as an honest, ethical sales representative. And I’ve got no secrets.

In short, boiling it down, I’ll treat you the way I’d want to be treated. Period.

 

How Did I End Up In Real Estate? And What Do I Think Of The Business

For many years I’ve concentrated on my writing. And I’ve done pretty well at that. I’ve published quite a few books, I’ve been sold internationally and been translated; I’ve won a few awards. I’ve got a literary agent who ignores me most of the time. But that life is still important to me and I’ve just started a new novel. It’s why this website is a bit unorthodox in that there’s a literary blog on one side, and links to things I’ve read, sites I enjoy, my publishers, as well as some literary criticism, some book and record reviews.

But half a dozen years ago I realized that it was going to be very hard for me to pay my own mortgage, and clothe my kids, take the occasional (and short) holiday. I needed something else. I thought about becoming a teacher. It’s noble work. But Sam’s mum thought I’d balk at the structured nature of the work. And so I settled on real estate. And you know what, it was one of my best decisions. I like people (more than I thought I did, perhaps), and I like houses too. I understand them, I know what I’m looking at. And I’m good with the legal aspects of the business (I write a damn good offer), and I negotiate hard, and I get my ethical responsibilities, I believe in those, I live by those. In short, I think this is valuable work and work that I’m good at. I’m still intent on writing a great novel, but for 40, 50, or 60 hours a week, what I most want to do is make sure that my sellers sell their house for the most money possible, and that my buyers find the best house out there, and buy it at the best price. I can do that. I can help.

 

So How Will It Work If We Work Together?

Well that depends on whether you have a house to sell, or whether you’re looking for a new home. So let’s divide the answer into two:

Buyers

It depends how we meet, but I’ll probably ask you to put together a wishlist -  all the things you’d like to find in your dream home. Then we can talk about what on that list is going to be easy to find, and what’s going to be difficult. We can talk about how much it’s going to cost you, and about your timeline. I can suggest good mortgage people and good lawyers, and further down the road I can help with building inspectors and so on.

Once we have an idea of what you’re looking for I’ll set up what’s called a profile. It’s basically a set of filters that I can attach to the MLS listing service, and whenever anything that meets your criteria pops up, you’ll hear about it, immediately. Then, if something really does strike you as interesting, we can check it out together, and I can do some research for you – how long has it been on the market; how much did it last sell for, and when; are there any environmental or zoning issues you should worry about; how’s the water; that sort of thing. And because those profiles aren’t perfect, I’ll be looking every day at every new or amended listing to see if there’s anything there that might be right for you.

And when we find something, I help write the offer, of course, and advise on any and all conditions you might want to attach to that offer. I negotiate the best possible price for you, and then arrange for any inspections and tests that are necessary. And even when the deal is firm I’m still in the picture. You can call me any time, with any questions.  You might well need my help right up until the closing date, and that’s fine with me, that’s my job.

Sellers

So you’ve decided to sell and now you want some advice on how best to get your house ready, and you want some sense of what your house is likely worth.  Well if I were you, I’d have two or three agents in to look at your house. See what they say, see how you feel about them. You’re not obliged to anyone, of course, and you’re going to pay handsomely for the services they provide, so make sure you do everything you can to hire the right person.  A mistake can be expensive, in every sense. And this first decision – who am I going to trust to sell my most valuable asset? – is certainly among the most important you’ll make.

Anyway, if I’m one of those people you invite in, here’s what I’ll do.

I’ll sit and talk to you first. See what you have in mind. This will give me a sense of whether I can help you, and it’ll also give you an idea of who I am, and how I do my business. Perhaps you’ll decide right then that I’m the wrong guy for you, and that’s okay. No point me wasting a lot of your time.

But if that chat goes well I’ll ask you to show me around the house. I’ll want you to tell me what you like best about the place, and what’s always bugged you. I’ll want you to tell me about any problems you’ve noticed (better I know now, than when a buyer brings an inspector through), and most of all I’ll ask you what changes you’ve made to the house, what renovations have been done, and when. Perhaps I’ll have some thoughts at that point about what you might want to finish and what you might want to leave alone. I can tell you where your energies are best spent.

And then I’ll go away and do some serious research. There are some people out there who’ll give you a price for your house at that first meeting and, well, I’m just not that good. I need to sift through the data, by which I mean that I need to look at all the recent listings and sales in your neighbourhood (and perhaps in the city as a whole) for properties that have some or all of the attributes yours has. In other words, I need to do the math. And that’ll probably take me a few days. Getting the price right is huge, right? And I want you to see what I’ve come up with, and how I got there, so I’ll deliver a package to you that sets out all my findings. And we can talk about that right away, or you can call me when you’re ready.

And if, after all that, I’m the lucky guy who gets the job? Well then we’ll draw up a listing agreement that sets out the length of time you’re going to give me to sell your house, and how much you’re going to pay me for doing that. We’ll discuss my marketing plans for the house, and we’ll fine-tune the house preparations and staging. And then away we go. When you receive an offer I’m there to help you negotiate the best possible sale price, of course, but also to make sure that the offer doesn’t contain any onerous or unfair conditions that might be impossible to satisfy. In short, I’m there to protect and serve your best interests up until the completion date and beyond.