Lockboxes Have Feelings Too.

Low Oil Prices and The Toronto Real Estate Market

CondoChris Merry Christmas and A Happy New Years: Predictions for 2014

Hi I’m Chris Borkowski. You know me as “Condo Chris” and I am a broker with RE/MAX Hallmark right here in the city of Toronto.

Now, If you watch my blogs you’ll remember when I revealed that I was using “Crystal Ball” technology to predict the future of the real estate market. I do this because I found that i was often being asked questions like “whats the market gonna be like next year?” or, “whats my house going to be worth in six months?”. Last year I used the crystal Ball to make a few predictions, lets recap: “crystal ball – Are the leafs going to win the Stanley cup in 2013? (wha, wha, wha…….) Well, you heard it here first folks: There will be no real estate crash in 2013 AND the leafs are not going to win the Stanley Cup either”…. Ouch. Well we all know what happened to the Maple Leafs in 2013 AND there was no real estate crash either. In fact, across the board in the City of Toronto prices were up over 10%.

So, now we come to the time of the year when we look into the crystal ball and make a prediction for 2014. Now we could ask about the leafs again, but we don’t really need a crystal ball to see where that ones going, do we? So, instead lets ask about the upcoming municipal election: “Crystal Ball, who is going to win the upcoming municipal election in the city of Toronto in 2014” …. Rob Ford! Well, you heard it here first folks, the crystal ball doesn’t lie – Rob Ford will win the election in 2014 and maintain his title as the Mayor of the city of Toronto!

I’d like to take this time to thank all of my clients, colleagues and friends for their patronage and support this year and I would like to wish everyone a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR. ALL THE BEST IN 2014!

The ‘Grain of Salt’ Factor

Selling a Business

The Numbers DON’T LIE

HOW MUCH was that Listing?

Today I’m in King West Village to talk to you about pricing Toronto real estate.

Now, you know when you walk into a store and you see a product listed at $3.99, you know it’s really a $4 product but they listed it at $3.99 to try to trick your brain into thinking that it’s cheaper than it really is. Now, that’s a technique that marketers have been using for generations and it’s worked fairly well for them. They call this a heuristic tendency. That’s a shortcut your brain uses to determine value.

I’m going to tell you about a study that Cornell University just did and they published it in their journal Marketing Science. They looked at buyer attitudes towards precise numbers. They took these subjects and they showed the strings of numbers and they asked them to rate them in terms of value; which one looked highest, which one looked lowest. Surprisingly enough when they showed them this number ($511,534) it consistently rated as appearing lower than this number ($510,000). Why? Because it’s a precision number. Even though it’s higher, it appeared to their brain as lower. This number over here ($401, 298) consistently appeared lower than this number ($400,000). Same reason, because it’s been rounded off.

They call this the precision heuristic. A heuristic is a shortcut your brain uses to make a snap decision about something. In this case, value. When your brain looks at a number, it has to make a decision quickly as to what it’s worth. When the number’s rounded off, it’s easier to figure out. When it’s a precise number, it takes your brain a moment to juggle it around and figure out what it’s worth.

In the marketplace they looked at about a thousand listings in both Florida and New York City. All these listings sold under asking, so there’s some negotiation involved. Consistently, the listings with the precision number sold for 0.75% higher than those with a rounded off number. On a $500,000 house that’s over $3700. Does it matter to you? You tell me. It should, because it’s going to make you more money.

Their number one tip: don’t use zeroes. Their number two tip: don’t use nines.

Listen, if you need help pricing your property, give me a call. My name’s Chris Borkowski. I’m a broker with Re/Max Hallmark here in the city of Toronto.

If you have any questions, or you’re looking for a great Toronto condo, Toronto real estate investment, or office space, call me at 416-486-5588 or email condochris@gmail.com.

Put it IN WRITING

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Make Money from Your Garage!

You probably think I’m in a killer loft or Toronto condo downtown.

Do you know what this is?

This is a garage in the back of an investment property that I sold my client a few months back. Initially he had thought of turning this into a parking pad or tearing it down and turning it into a lawn for his tenants, but when we looked at the bones and saw what was here and there was enough space to do it, he decided that he would turn this into a functional space.

Check out the stairs in the video. Aren’t they great? These are by a company called ARTE. You can find a link on my website. This is a totally modular stair system. You can make it in a spiral, you can do it on an angle, you can do a lot of things with this staircase. You can use it in very small spaces like my client has done here. Initially when we bought my client this house, he had thought about tearing this structure down. He thought about maybe making pad parking or potentially putting a lawn back here for his tenants to enjoy during the summer. Once we took a look at the footprint and realized it was a solid brick building, he thought maybe with a little bit of ingenuity and a little bit of money, he could renovate it and turn it into an income producing portion of his property. As of this afternoon I know that he is interviewing a potential tenant who’d like to use it for an office and I believe his asking price right now is about $650 a month.

The total cost of this improvement to this particular structure was about $10,000, so if he does manage to get his $650 a month that he plans on renting it out for, this structure will pay for itself in less than two years and after that it’s all gravy. $650 is a much as a part time job to most people, so that’s quite a bit of money and in my mind it was a great investment for him.
Now, there’s no kitchen in here, but you can see in the video that what he has done is added a simple bathroom so this space now functions perfectly for maybe a recording space, someone who’s got a small business to run can do it in here no problem and actually there’s free parking out there on the streets, so even though this is in the east end, it’s way more cost effective than renting out a space downtown Toronto.

If you have any questions, or you’re looking for a great Toronto condo, Toronto real estate investment, or office space, call me at 416-486-5588 or email condochris@gmail.com.

Want to make Money in Real Estate?

Help! My Lockbox is frozen!

Here I am in the centre of Toronto, in the middle of March and it’s really, really cold out and this brings me to a problem I’ve had a few times over the past weeks and that’s with frozen lockboxes.

This time of year the temperature goes up and down a lot, you get moisture in the lockbox and you can’t open it.  It’s too damned cold out here to be fiddlin’ around with it in the middle of Winter

When you’re selling a condo you generally put your lockbox outside.  These lockboxes are for real estate agents, their not for the general public.  Some skateboarding hooligans can’t come buy, take your key out and have a drug fuelled sex orgy in your house.

Your real estate agent wants to show your property for sale, or he wants to show you a property that you might buy.  He calls ahead, he books an appointment and he’s given the code.  Once he has the code he can show you into the property or he can show a prospective buyer your property.

As you can see in the video there are lots and lots of locboxes out here and one of the biggest joys that I have as a real estate agent is the constant game of hide and go seek that you need to find the lockbox that you need for the unit that you want to get into.

Today in this video, I’m going to be installing one of my own lockboxes, I’m going to show you what I do to keep it looking unique and I’m going to show you what you can do in the case of having a lockbox stick.

First thing you want to do is identify your own lockbox, you can put your card on the back of it, you can put your name on it, you can paint it a funny colour.  In the video you’ll even see an example of a lockbox within a plastic bag.

I like to use a bright orange zip tie.  That way you’ll always know it’s mine and you can see it from a distance.

I’d also like to show you an example of what happens when a lockbox freezes. You know it’s March out here in the City of Toronto and there are a lot of temperature fluctuations.  The temperature goes up, the temperature comes down.  When it comes down you get moisture inside the lockbox.  Generally during the day you get some sun on the lockbox, you get water into it, it freezes.  At night when you’re trying to show a property, let’s say 6 or 7 o’clock, the sun’s gone down, people are coming home form work and they want to see your property.  You’ve got to go and try to get the lockbox open after it’s been in the hot sun all day and now it’s frozen and won’t work.

So here are a few things you can do to get your lockbox unstuck;

As a Toronto Realtor, I carry a $3.00 bottle of lock de-icer with me at all times during the Winter.  If the lockbox is stuck, simply spray a little of the lock de-icer in the lock, spray some in the mechanism, give it two minutes and I swear you will be able to open this lockbox like you just bought it yesterday.

If you don’t have lock de-icer with you, the next best thing is simple windshield washer fluid.  Either the all season, or Winter type will work.  Pour a little of the windshield washer fluid on your lockbox, give it a minute or two, you may have to jimmy it a bit, but that lockbox will come unstuck and free soon enough and you’ll be able to get your clients into the house.

So let’s say you don’t have windshield washer fluid. It’s the last second, your clients are getting pissed, they’re about to go home. You need to open this lockbox! How are you going to do it?  HOT COFFEE!  It’s not pretty!  It’s messy!  It can be dirty but it works. Pour a little bit of hot coffee on your lockbox, let it sit in, let the lock thaw and sure enough you’ll be able to get the key.  It’ll cost you about 3 bucks (for the good variety), but it’s worth it because you got to show the property and your clients are happy.

I’m Chris Borkowsky…they call me Condo Chris, I’m a broker with ReMAX Hallmark in the City of Toronto.  If you’re looking for a Condo in Toronto give me a call at 416-486-5588.