Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Representing Divorcing Spouses Means Exercising Extra Due Diligence

One major factor that contributes to homes hitting the market or being transferred is the ugly process of divorce. When marriage problems lead to separation or divorce, the home is usually the largest asset. What will then happen to the home can become a volatile and contentious issue for spouses - which puts you in a sensitive and tricky position?

One spouse may want the home sold immediately, or perhaps one spouse is living in the home while the other is not. In addition, if the home is a matrimonial property both spouses must consent to its sale, just as both spouses should have consented to its purchase and any subsequent refinancing, whether they are on title or not.

There are occasions where other people appear on title that were not initially disclosed to you as the real estate sales professional. This is often the result of one spouse hoping to hurry divorce proceedings along faster than the other spouse may want or may be ready for. These situations require extra due diligence on your part.

Some people believe that because the home is in only their name they can simply sell it. Well, you sure don't want to show up with your ‘For Sale’ sign only to learn that the other spouse actually lives there, won't let you in, and won't let your sign on the front lawn. Some people also think they can sell the matrimonial home without a spouse’s signature… the old, “I’ll take this home for my husband/wife to sign” (not!!).

So how can you identify when a home is a matrimonial? Here are some tips:

·         The interview. Ask lots of questions including the client’s marital status. If they indicate they are separated or divorced, ask them if the home is/was a matrimonial property. Most people when directly asked won’t lie. If they do, it doesn’t matter because step two will move you closer to the truth.

·         Search homeownership information. In GeoWarehouse you can see who owns the home up to the past month or so. If you want this information up to the date in question you can request a Parcel Register through the GeoWarehouse Store. If there is more than one person on title, then you will need to ask the customer to have the other parties meet with you to obtain identification and sign off on all paperwork.

·         Ask the client to bring documents to your meeting – things like utility bills. If other names are on them, ask the client about this. Even if one person shows up on title, two names on a collection of utility bills may be a tip that a separation has taken place.

·         If you are visiting or showing a listing - and this one should be obvious – you must be able to gain entry to the home to show the property. If gaining entry is posing challenges there can be two very likely reasons: there is a tenant on the premises or there is an ex-spouse still in the home.

Nothing is fool proof and if a client is bound and determined to hide something from you they may very well pull it off. As a real estate sales professional, the best you can do is to deploy the tools available to you and let your professional experience to guide you through deals that have some hair on them.

For more information about how you can validate homeownership information please visit

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Landing Good Real Estate Deals and Mitigating the Ones That go POW!

Deals go POW all the time…. Most times deals go POW when they weren’t "a deal" in the first place. Landing good real estate deals depends upon discerning good deals from POW-destined deals right from the get-go.

What does that mean? Well, when you meet a client and conduct a new client interview, the prospective buyer or a seller provides you with available personal information. But at this point in your relationship with them, the information provided is all you have with which to assess them…. So what do you do next?

Often times, a client may often innocently omit information they could have provided you. Many times a prospective client could have been confused or simply forgot about other documents that would have been of appropriate interest to you. Other times a prospective client may intentionally omit providing information he or she well knows positions them to reap some personal gain, perhaps even at your expense.

Whether you are trying to prevent fraud or simply keep a deal from going POW, you should perform your due diligence at this crucial application stage. So what information is vital to confirm at the application stage? Here are some essentials:

Verifying a Seller's worthiness

·         Verify your client’s identification by asking to see it
·         Verify that your client is the legal homeowner
·         Verify that your client is the only legal homeowner and if they are not, insist on knowing who all other legal homeowners are
·         Check registered mortgages to ensure that there is enough equity to pay for closing costs (including your commission)
·         Check the sales history on the property to make sure that there is no funny-business or reason to suspect the property has issues

Verifying a Buyer's worthiness

·         Check the client’s identification
·         Ensure that your client is able to finance a mortgage
·         If a client tells you their purchase depends on the sale of their other property – check that the other property has enough equity to finance the purchase of another (including land transfer taxes and related closing costs)
Conducting an airtight interview is the first vital component to your landing a good real estate deal as a real estate sales professional. Utilize tools to validate information about your clients ahead of all other business to pave the way for a successful deal - and close. Some real estate sales professionals perform due diligence at various stages in the real estate process and for good reason. If something comes up the deal could go POW.

Even if the client provides you with documents like the deed or MPAC assessments – you should still independently verify all information provided by a client or prospective client. Tools like GeoWarehouse, Google and even the MLS are great ways to do this and can save you substantial money and headaches in the long run!

For more information about how you can validate the information your client provides to you please visit

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

CRMs for Real Estate Professionals: Are CRMs Like Salesforce Too Big?

During recent years, Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRMs) have become increasingly popular in the real estate industry. CRM's offer real estate sales professionals the ability to keep track of all interactions with clients, market directly to them, encourage strong relationships with them, and also connect with other professionals in the industry.  This means more time spent on the deal itself and less time going back and forth to get there! CRM's also result in better organization with greater ease.

So while this is well and good, real estate sales professionals have a whole host of platforms to consider when choosing the right CRM for their needs. Most CRMs offer many of the same capabilities: marketing, tracking, workforce automation, etc. and, of course, there are pros and cons for each kind. So does size matter when choosing your CRM for real estate? Is bigger always better?

Let’s take a look at a CRM like Salesforce. As one of the most popular CRMs available, Salesforce is a major player on the CRM scene.  CRM, and others like it, offer a plethora of options for businesses looking to fully automate their workflows. And this is great, but does one size fit all?

Your budget is an important consideration when it comes to the CRM that best fits your business size and needs. Larger, major players can charge more for their services, and if your budget allows for expansion, one of the big names might be a great fit for you. However, smaller businesses, especially real estate professionals who work largely independently, would likely find a CRM with a proportionately smaller price point to be a better option.

Does less money mean lower quality? Not by any stretch. But it will likely boil down to fewer capabilities - which this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes narrowing down the list to include only what you actually need just makes better business sense. 

Configuration should also be taken into consideration. With the big name companies, configuration can take more legwork. If you have the support to carry configuration out with no issues, then it is advantageous for you. But if your team consists of you and you alone, perhaps you may want to consider how much time you can devote to configuration. Again, this is all relative.

A CRM custom-fit for your business may actually be one that is better when bigger - especially if you have the time and budget to make it work for you. However, bigger isn't the answer for everyone, and many businesses have chosen to cater their CRM to fit their needs, doing so without attachment to a big name. It's perfectly viable to opt for specifics rather than adopting the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach.

What CRM are you using? What capabilities are most important to you? Join the discussion.

For more, or to join the conversation, visit today.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Yes! You Can Obtain a Property Survey for Your Client Online!

Land surveys are still an integral part of the property purchasing process and vitally important during the purchaser's ownership of that land. Property lines are the first thing people refer to when disputing issues like misplaced fences, garages, driveways and even homes!

While some lenders offer title insurance, nothing beats an accurate and properly documented property survey upon closing. 

Title insurance protects clients against losses incurred in situations like defects on title or land survey. This protection is a compensatory measure extended as part of a claim clients may file in pursuit of correcting such a defect.

But beware that the process of filing a claim with the title insurance company is a long and complicated one.  Your clients are better served by knowing upon close that they've purchased a property with clean title - with a survey that documents this.

Then when do lenders consider title insurance a viable alternative to having a survey? Traditionally, when a seller doesn’t have an up-to-date survey in their possession, conducting a new survey tends to be a long, expensive and arduous process. Here's why:

·         A surveyor would have to be obtained
·         The surveyor would have to meet the client
·         The surveyor then performs research
·         The surveyor then heads to the property to perform field work which includes taking accurate measurements of the property
·         The surveyor proceeds to complete drawings
·         And then the survey is delivered

The beauty of today's real estate climate is that now your client can have the best of both worlds – title insurance (which most lenders require) and a survey of the property, if one exists, and without having to trudge through the entire survey process. Some real estate sales professionals who access GeoWarehouse don’t even realize that in the GeoWarehouse store you can purchase a survey of a property electronically!

This makes life so much more manageable for already stressed buyers and sellers. If a seller doesn’t have a survey and a potential buyer makes the offer conditional upon one, you can purchase a survey - easily. If the seller doesn’t want to bear the costs associated with the survey but the buyer is adamant about having one done, the buyer can also opt to pay the necessary fee to have the survey conducted.

Click, click – property survey, and that’s it!

For more information about how you can get property surveys online, please contact GeoWarehouse today at 1-866-237-5937.