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Are you ready to make the phone ring, the website ping and the tail ding? In this episode, we’re talking about one of the best kept secrets in any community. Its network of small and local businesses, businesses that rely on foot traffic, phone calls and website bookings. From the skinny lessons that will make you wins to the tell all expose A’s. These everyday people are doing extraordinary things in their business. Welcome to The Secret Life is local. I’m your host, Barb McGrath, Google girl and founder of the Get found for local program. I’ve been helping local businesses thrive for over 20 years. From online businesses to multilocation stores, you can turn browsers to buyers and thinkers to doers. Today, we’re going behind the scenes with Jeff Harmel. From Realty Executives. Welcome, Jeff, tell us a little bit about yourself and your approach to Real Estate.
Hi, Barb, it’s nice speaking with you today, I started real estate in 2008. I was working prior to that, in the collection industry and for MasterCard. I was excited to get into real estate, because I always wanted to work for myself. And when I when I first entered the real estate market, My decision was more based on wanting to work for myself and not wanting to work in an office environment anymore. And that was my big driver. If it wasn’t about, you know, stars in my eyes about how much money I was gonna make or anything about that it was all about getting out of the office, I didn’t want to work in an office environment.
So was it the pole of you know, being outside being away from the office doing stuff meeting people? Or was it simply the kind of the drudgery that sometimes comes with being in an office?
It was it was being outside? It was meeting people, having experiences with people and helping people. That’s it. And of course, getting out of the office, I didn’t like working in an office environment, and the freedom of planning my own days what they were going to be and how much energy I was going to put into that day or what was going to happen. And those were my main drivers. And I got into it for all the right reasons. Because my first two years of real estate it wasn’t it wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be when I started. Okay. Because yeah, it was it was a little bit different than what I expected. But it all worked out. Great.
Okay, so what wasn’t what you expected? Can you can you elaborate on that a little bit for us?
I thought when I initially started that there would be like my, I’ll just describe my first day in real estate that will probably help. I went into I started at Century 21. And part of the reason I started there initially was I found an ad on Kijiji when I was surfing through Kijiji, while I was working at MasterCard, I went for an interview and then started there after I got my license, of course. And my first day was sitting down, writing out a list of everyone I knew, and licking envelopes and sending them a letter that I started in real estate. And I remember after afterwards, I walked to my manager’s office. Bernie, who was a great guy, and still a good friend of mine. And I asked him, I said, what so what do I do now? And he goes, Oh, you’re done? And this was like the morning they said, Yeah, he goes, well. You goes, pick up the phone, start calling some for sale by owners or, you know, see who you can meet with for coffee to talk about real estate. And I was kind of figuring how do I get business and I started panicking thinking I need to get business right away. Yeah. And I thought I have to hit the ground running and fast. And so I went back to my office, and I remember calling my brother and speaking with him and I said I’m not sure what I do now. And he said, he said to me at the time, he said, Well, why don’t you do what one of the realtors does in town, or Trombley? And I said, What does he do? And he said well, he He calls for sale by owners, you need to get on the phone and call for sale by owners. Oh, so so so I went on staff combs for sale site was the one at the time. And I started sifting through the site looking at houses. And I was thinking to myself, What do I say to these people, I have no idea what to say. And then then I printed off some script. And I didn’t know what to do. I started trying to use scripts as I was calling people, and I thought this doesn’t feel authentic. And, and so I thought to myself, You know what? I’m just gonna call people and talk to him about their homes, and invite myself over. Okay, so, so that’s what I did. And, and I when I, when I got people on the phone, I would say to them, Oh, those are really nice carpets you have or That’s some nice renovations, is that a new kitchen? And, and the person would say, Yeah, I installed it myself, or I did that. And then I would just say, oh, good for you. I can’t do that kind of stuff. I, I’m not good at that. And, and, you know, somewhere in the conversation, they would be asked me, Why are you calling me I’m selling on my own? You know, I don’t, I don’t need a realtor. And I was just calm. And I would say, No, that’s fine. I don’t have a buyer from your home, right for your home right now. But I would like to come look to your home in case I get a buyer for it, which was true. I didn’t have any buyers. And I would invite myself over. That’s that’s how it all started.
So let’s let’s kind of follow that thread. So if I was going to, if we better not sell my house from underneath my husband’s feet. If you’re going to list our house, what are you going to say to me? Why? Because this is the argument that I hear all the time, why hire a realtor versus listed on task homes for sale or Kijiji or Facebook marketplace? Tell me about what you as a realtor. In your experience. What do you bring to the table for me?
Well, one of the biggest dilemmas that people have when they decide to go for sale by owner list on their own, is they think they think it’s such a simple process. And they think that real estate agents don’t do any work. Like they don’t do any work. And they make lots of money. The, when you call out a real estate agent, to discuss listing your home, it’s what all backup for a second. So let’s say you decide to go for sale by owner you’re thinking of it first, you’re going to call maybe one or two realtors and try and get a price. And then you’re going to, then you’re going to kind of get some some indication where the markets going, then you’re going to look online, and you’re going to think, Okay, I’m going to declutter my house and do a few things that I need to do. And then I’m going to put my sign on the lawn with the For Sale By Owner company, and then everyone’s going to want to come by my house, right. And the problem with that is, and it can work, and there are for sale by owners that have done well. But part of the problem is markets are very fluid. And a lot of people don’t understand that the market can change in two weeks, three weeks, when when I started in real estate in 2008, I started actually April Fool’s Day 2000 to 2008 was my first day in real estate. And that month, the market changed by the end of the month and started sliding downward, right through till 2009. And and then started going up again, a lot of people don’t know that. And so a for sale by owner that lists their home in a fluid market like that. The price could change in a month and go down or up. Right. So and a real estate agent is kind of I compare it because I bought and sold stocks before. Have you ever called an investment analysts or a stockbroker and ask them what’s happening with the market or I’ve been thinking about buying these stocks? While the real estate agent has a pulse on the market. They know how many how many listings are in the city? Is there a lot of bungalows in that area? So you know, what’s the inventory like in that area? So when a for sale by owner list, they don’t have all this extra information. And so whereas when I meet you and your for sale by owner, I might say, Okay, we could list the home at 400,000. But I’m thinking I’m thinking our market is going up right now there’s low inventory. Less let’s listed at fourth already, because it, we’re more likely to get a better price for it even though the comparables from the previous three months, were at this amount. The market looks like it’s continuing going on an upward trend. And as far as negotiations if you’re getting multiple offers in, if you’re that for sale by owner, and all of a sudden you get lucky enough to get two or three offers in. Dealing with those offers knowing which conditions are the best conditions, which offer is the best, what makes it the strongest offer, and are these people that are coming to you pre approved. Being an experienced realtor, no one gets in my car unless they’ve been pre approved with the mortgage broker or the bank. And I’ve had people that wanted to the only exceptions to that would be someone I clearly know could buy a house in the sense that they can either pay cash for it or I know they’re financially stable. But the benefits of using a realtor far outweigh trying on your own. And like I said, some fizz bows are for sale by owners have done well with it. But it’s the market is bigger too when you hit MLS and as a real estate agent, especially nowadays, because there’s so many different platforms that when I list their home, it hits it, it hits my Instagram and hits Facebook, there’s extra advertising that way. And there’s at least 30 other websites that goes to where it gets exposure. So your your chances of getting very good value for the sale of your home is increased dramatically by using a realtor and then of course the experience so you don’t end up being sued or anything like that for mistakes.
So have they ever done we’ll call it a comparative study where they look at the price that someone gets for their home when they list with a realtor versus not or the time on market there looked at those two particular numbers.
I don’t have those stats for you today. But I know in the past they have been compared and I know NAR which is the which runs the real estate in the states have released stats on that before and it’s always been better for a real estate agent to get a better price for people by listing the home,
Okay, so as as a real estate agent you work with both buyers and sellers, but with sellers in particular, what do you usually coach them on to help get the most value out of their home
When I meet with a seller, some sellers want to do particular renovations before they sell because they think I’m going to do this, this and this and this and I’m going to get a lot more money for my home I’m gonna get an extra 50,000 Or I’m gonna get this and when I meet with a seller depending on the style of the home and what it is and what areas and I want to make sure that they’re not leaving money on the table or losing money because they’re they’re doing renovations that aren’t aren’t going to get them that extra dollar. For example, I met with a seller recently and they wanted to redo the bathroom, redo the kitchen and all new flooring all new paint, paint the outside of the home and new shingles and all these things to increase the price of the home. And I remember saying to her I wouldn’t do that. And this is not the style of home to be doing this for and it’s not in the area where you’re going to get your return. And she was kind of shocked because she she thought she could you know make 30 or 40,000 on this. And I said a lot of renovations that are done for your for people’s homes are too poor to live in and live in a nicer home it’s not to get extra money. I said to her, honestly paint the inside and try and do it yourself if you know how to paint. Paint the outside try and do it yourself as you can rent to a paint gun and newer flooring and and then we lift it and she was shocked and she said really? And I said yes and we’ll If, and the hope here is to get your money back on the home or make a bid, because you paid. And then I told her, you paid too much for this home to begin with. And then I showed her when she purchased the home. Back in. It was like three years ago, and I said you paid too much for this home because I’m able to run comparables. A lot of people don’t know this from three or four years ago as well.
So. So yeah, it’s people have to be cautious. And that’s why hiring or inexperienced real estate agent makes all the difference. It I’ve saved people so much money over the
Years, and hopefully made them that much extra money as well when they’re selling, right. Oh, yeah.
And, and then on the flip side, when it when, when it is the type of home, where it can be flipped and make a lot of money. I have I have worked with people that have wanted to do that. And I know the type of home they need to purchase to do that flip, and the areas to look in, and the amount of money to put in to do that flip. Last year, for example, I had a young couple come to me and they wanted to do their first flip. And I made it clear to them that the market could change they need time. And, you know, these are the risks, and they still wanted to go ahead with it. And they said, now we have to find a home. That’s a bungalow that’s under 200,000. And you’re going to put 80,000 into it. And you’re not going to put any more money than that. And it’s going to sell for 340. And at the end of the day, they ended up putting in more money than I suggested. And they still made money, but
Just as much.
Not as much as they could have. But it was still very good. Yeah.
One of the things that I remember from when we bought and built our house, of course, we did a lot of show home looking. And you know, there was lots of talk about you needed to declutter, and as you said, the neutral paint colors you needed to to make the home generic. So the family pictures had to come down and the generic, you know, Walmart artists picture needed to go up that kind of thing. Is that still the advice that you would give to someone?
I don’t know about the generic Walmart picture. Though it. I listed a home a few years ago for a client that was an artist. And if I could have everyone staged their home the way she did, it was perfect. And I remember walking in there and I said, oh, all the all the walls in the house are white. I said this is beautiful. And and she goes Yes, I painted it white so that my art on the walls and all the colorful art I do is accented better. And it just showed beautifully. Neutral colors are extremely important. decluttering is extremely important. And clean, really clean home, like show home ready. Like that’s that’s the biggest stress for a lot of people when they’re selling their home is having their home perfect for every showing. But it’s absolutely essential because people walking into a dirty home. And it’s not showing good and it’s full of stuff everywhere. They can lose 1000s of dollars on the sale.
Exactly, yes. Now, being a devil’s advocate, because I know you have two kids as well, trying to sell your house when you’ve got two kids and maybe a couple of dogs or cats or pets around. It’s hard. Like it’s a ton of work.
Well yeah, I went through when I went through the sale of my home in 2014 I believe we moved to the east end and I lived in Arnheim area in a raised bungalow. And my wife was pregnant with my daughter at the time. And it was very difficult trying to keep the home clear and ready for showings. And initially, I believe I listed it myself. And then I decided to contact a real estate agent from my office at Century 21 people are probably gonna laugh You’re a realtor, why would you hire a realtor to sell your home because I wanted to separate myself emotionally from the sale. And it was the best thing it was the best thing I did. And yeah and so that when the the offers came in If I had the confidence of knowing that, you know, my real estate agent would bring them to me, we would go over them and deal with them. And separating myself from the sale that way, helped me obtain more for my home. And I was able to take a step back. And then when the offer came in, my real estate agent said to me, yes, Jeff, this is good, this is good. But, you know, maybe you should take it here instead of countering or maybe we should do this. And it was just, it was better for me to separate myself from it.
Yeah. And you know, I can appreciate that it’s no different than the doctor trying to diagnose themselves. Right when, when it is personal. Yes, letting someone else who is a professional being able to support you probably makes a huge difference. So I know, you said that the market can change quite quickly. But what can you tell us about the spring market? And where where you would anticipate we’re going these next couple of few months?
That’s a very difficult question. And I’ll try and answer it as at as best I can, because going from 2009, right through till 2017. And even 2018, and 20 2019, when our market dropped back to 2009 10 prices, a lot of people don’t know that, I was able to anticipate the market very good. And I remember giving people advice in 2015 2016, saying, get your home sold. Now, the markets gonna go down, even before it went down. I had a few clients that made a lot of money before the market shifted, because I could see it coming. When the pandemic hits and and our market went up like this, a lot of real estate agents didn’t see this happening quite this way. And going into this market with the increased interest rates. The thing is that’s happening right now, is we still have very low inventory. I was just at a realtor open house a week ago, and I was asking some other agents I work with, are you seeing a lot of competing offers? And they’re saying, Yes, we’re starting to see competing offers, we’re starting to see this. And so going forward for this spring market now. Yes, I’m thinking, it’s going to be a very good market and walk. I’m not thinking it’ll be as strong as it was last year. But I’m thinking it’ll still be a very good market as long as the inventory stays low. So it’ll have to be monitored closely. But if put it this way, if you’re in a mortgage right now, and your rate is 2.25. And your mortgage is not coming due for two more years, but if you’re thinking, Oh, maybe we should sell our house and upgrade, why would you? Yeah. And lock yourself into a higher rate. So a lot of people are waiting right now, if their mortgage isn’t coming due, so there’s a good chance we could have pretty low inventory again this year. Okay.
So definitely only have a minute or so left, can you share with us I don’t know if you saw this in the show preamble. Share that, that sort of moment in your history that you know, now that it’s history, you can look back and kind of laugh about it. But at the time, it was maybe a little bit painful. And I think if the story you shared me shared with me about you and a buddy writing the exam, you know, at the same time, because you were quite anxious to get into the industry.
Oh, that was yeah, there was three, had to write three, I had to write the exam three times I was nervous and the material for being a real estate agent a lot different than the practical, the books to the practical. And I remember failing the exam the first two times because I I wasn’t I just wasn’t able to absorb the material, the that well. And I finally passed the exam. And friend of mine, he said, Well, he wrote it at the same time. And he said, and he got 94 and is exactly so what do you get? And I said, I said I got 75, but I passed. And I remember he said to me, Oh, I did better than you on the exam. And I said, That’s okay. I said, We’ll see who sells more houses.
And so that’s actually my question. So what happened to your colleague? Did they stay in industry or,
Oh, they’re still selling homes they are. Yeah, but I will say I sell more
You’re awesome. That is fantastic. All right, Jeff, we are at a time. So thank you very much for joining me today just to talk a little bit about this spring market and what we might be expecting to see hoping to see. And some tips if you are thinking about selling what you might want to do to be prepared. And you know why there’s some real value in hiring a realtor to help you with one of the largest transactions in your life. So thank you, Jeff. much. Appreciate it. Okay, have a great day. Absolutely. So on that note, if you want to sell your story, then you need to tell your story. And there’s no better place to start than being a guest on The Secret Life. If you’d like to be a guest, email me at barb at above the fold dot live, or reach out on our Facebook and Instagram page at Above the fold. Ca. Jeff, as I do that, I realize you didn’t have a chance to share your number and website address. Could you that do that for us quickly?
Yes, if someone needs to get a hold of me, they can call me at 306-539-5202 or go to my website. Jeffharmel.com
Awesome. I am your host, Barb McGrath, Google girl and founder of the Get found for local program. Remember, you are tired for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.