Thursday, 26 April 2012


Dartmouth has a new lotto winner!  Someone local is holding a winning ticket for better than $15.7 million.  How exciting.   My congrats to the winner, whomever they turn out to be!  The Hubby and I are in a couple lotto pools with our respective workplaces but I’m sure that if we had been the lucky ones we’d have gotten phone calls by now.  Ah well, a girl can dream.  I just can not imagine that much money.  I’ve gotten used to the day-to-day life of making it to pay cheque to pay cheque with the occasional commission cheque earned to prop up the finances a bit.  There are a lot of repairs/home improvements pending in this house and it would be hard to imagine suddenly having the money to just get it all done.
It reminds me of a project that both my boys had in their Grade 5 school year.  Their teacher gave them a fictional $1 million dollars to spend and they had to detail in a report and on a bristol board poster what they would spend the money on.   Thing Two simply looked up what models of cars cost $1 million and put a picture of the car on a piece of bristol board and called it done.  The voices in my head were all screaming “that’s cheating!!” but it was his project and I try to let them do their work on their own and get the credit/consequences for their effort.   Thing One was not so quick.  He really put a lot of thought into it.
I’m going to cheat a bit and include my blog entry from that time below.  I thought it was cute:

Sunday, October 16, 2005

On Friday my 10-year-old son Matthew became a millionaire.

He was presented with a million dollars and a mission.

He had until the end of the weekend to spend it all.   Spend.  Not give away.  (charities and investments accepted). 

So he’s been a busy little beaver.   I’ve had to help by making suggestions and searching for things (like a cottage on Prince Edward Island…we found a lovely one for $269,900!)

So he’s made a list of his expenditures so far…it’s long but I think it’s cute:

1.  $50,000 to Children’s Hospital

2.  $50,000 to Red Cross

3.  Trip for 4 to his teacher which cost him $8050

4.  a watch for his dad

5.  An RV for his dad

6.  A truck to haul the RV

7.  A baby Hummer for his dad

8.  a stereo for Mrs Kennedy, the music teacher

9.  a dishwasher for his mom (*waves*)

10.  a washer and dryer for his mom

11.  a snowboard and helmet for his brother

12.  a bracelet and necklace for his mother

13.  a cruise to Alaska for his nana and papa Jones

14.  A cruise to France for his papa Laprade

15.  Wide screen TV for his Nannie Snow

16.  5 game boy games for himself

17.  a cd player for himself

18.  a pool table for himself

19.  a table soccer game for himself

20.  a table hockey game for himself

21.  a pinball machine for himself

22.  A dinner for 8 from world-famous chef, Michael Smith, cooked in our kitchen with his assistance (yes you can actually buy this in the Sears Catalogue for $41,000)

23.  a ride on lawn mower for his dad

24.  a cottage in PEI for the family

25.  a hot tub for the family

26.  an education savings of $100,000 for himself

27.  an education savings of $100,000 for his brother

28.  an 11 day Disney cruise for the family

29.  a cat for his brother

30.  $50,000 for his cub pack

31.  $50,000 for his school

32.  a new car for his Aunts/Uncles (8 in total)

We have about $250 left to spend today.  And NS doesn’t allow Sunday shopping…lol!

Anyway, I think Matt is learning a lot by this.  Math, of course.  But also sadly, that when you suddenly have a significant amount of money everyone has their hand out.   As demonstrated over the past couple of days by his own family!!  We’re all asking for things or suggesting things!   At one point his teacher was on the list for a fabulous vacation, a luxury house, a 4×4 truck and lots of jewellery.   I, at that point, was on the list for a washer and dryer.  I did not see the humour in this and told him that he was being a bit excessive in gifts to his teacher.   lol!    I notice he’s changed the list so she’s only getting a vacation and he’s added a dishwasher and some jewellery for me!   ha! 

Like he said “Everyone wants a piece of me!”


On another note, I’ve heard it said that it’s been proven that 100% of lottery winners gain weight.   Who needs that???

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

I AM a real estate agent, but I'm also a REALTOR®

People use the terms REALTOR® and real estate agent interchangeably, but that is incorrect. There are differences between REALTORS® and real estate agents. They aren’t the same and a part of the confusion is that most people don’t know the difference between the two and tend use the terms interchangeably. So what exactly is the difference between REALTORS® and real estate agents?

REALTORS® and the REALTOR® Code of Ethics

What sets REALTORS® apart from real estate agents is that a REALTOR® is a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and must subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and Standards of Business Practice, a strictly enforced program consisting of 28 articles governing the standards of practice for Canadian REALTORS® . It's not just a bunch of rules that agents swear to uphold and adhere to. The Standards are much more restrictive and confining as to conduct than those governing agents who simply hold a real estate license. While there is no evidence nor guarantee that all REALTORS® are morally and ethically better than unaffiliated real estate agents, it is an attempt by the industry to regulate and, as such, deserves recognition. This code of ethics doesn’t apply real estate agents.


You can expect honesty, integrity and a high level of knowledge & service from your REALTOR®.

  • Practitioners, lawyers and consumers accept the CREA Code of ethics as the gauge of professionalism for the real estate industry.
  • REALTORS® in Nova Scotia are required to continue their training by completing a code of ethics course and completing 9 continuing profession education credits per year. REALTORS® that do not complete these requirements do not get their licence renewed.
  • Only a qualified REALTOR® is entitled to use the REALTOR® registered trademark on their business cards, websites and advertising materials.
  • Only a qualifed REALTOR® has access to posting properties on the MLS® System.
  • Not every real estate agent in Nova Scotia is a REALTOR®, but all REALTORS® are licensed real estate agents.

So... Who are you going to call when you are considering your next real estate transaction?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Adventures in Beer & Laundry

Well, another weekend has come and gone at Casa Laprade and once again I feel like I got Didly Squat accomplished.  

Saturday we were woken up by the sounds of the neighbour taking his ride on lawn mower for a joy ride.  Seriously.  The guy started it up and then proceeded to spend the next hour riding it up and down the road and around and around in circles in the cul-de-sac.  Not a blade of grass did he cut.  He just...rode.

Someone needs to get the dude a skateboard.



Since I was up early I got a start on the laundry and
anticipating a great clothesline day I started stripping all the beds and stuffing the washing machine and churning out a week's worth of laundry loads.  I love the smell of line dried sheets!   Earlier hubby was complaining that he had no work socks and Thing One actually lounged around the living room in his bathrobe while complaining that he had no clean jeans.  I don't think it would occur to either one of them to actually put in a load of laundry!   Anyway, things were going well until I came home from grocery shopping and went to reel in the clothesline full of sheets & pillowcases and they'd wrapped themselves around and around the line in the wind so bad that the clothesline wouldn't budge.  It's quite a ways off the ground so my dear hubby had to go out and stand on top of a step ladder and try to reach and grab hold of the laundry with a long rake and yank the clothes off.  It was so funny!  I remarked that I wished I'd had my camera and Hubby said that if a camera was coming out it would be ME up on top of the ladder reaching for the clothes and not him!  Spoil sport.

We finally found some time to get some wine and beer bottled.  We have brewed our own wine for 20 years.   We used to do all our own beer as well but we got tired of cleaning up the mess as more often then not we'd have one or two bottles from every batch explode on us.  Try cleaning up broken glass and beer dripping off your ceiling and walls.  Not to mention the room smelling like a saloon for a week afterwards!   This time we brewed a Cabernet Sauvignon (red) and a Sauvignon Blanc (white).  They get better as they sit in the bottle but they were pretty good as is (we HAD to sample, quality control, you know?).   The beer was a Honey Brown ale and it was pretty good but flat as it doesn't carbonate itself until after you bottle it.  We got about 65 bottles and they are sitting down in the laundry room although I was pushing to store them out in the garage.   I swear if they explode, Hubby is cleaning it up this time.
Hubby built this wine rack in the storage area under the stairs (pictured left).  It's a perfect spot for wine storage as is is uninsulated and it is fairly cool all year round.  We jokenly refer to it as our wine cellar or our wine room.  It's pretty large, this picture only shows the left side of it and only about half.  There is also more to the top and bottom of it than is visible in this picture.
All in all it will hold several hundred bottles of wine.  It's about half full now.  



I saw this picture (right) online of a wine storage area under the stairs and I would have loved to have done something like that with ours.  It's so cool looking with the glass doors!  

Yesterday was the first Sunday in 3 months (besides Easter Sunday) that I had not done an open house.  I purposely took it off to give myself a break, but I have to admit I caught myself thinking several times that instead of feeling rested and relaxed...I just felt lazy and like I should be working.  

I am going to take another Sunday off and then I will get back at it. 

  

Thursday, 19 April 2012

How's the Market?

How's the market?  As a REALTOR®  this is one of the questions that I get most often.  In short, the Halifax market is great!  However, this is a bit of a generalization since Halifax Regional Municipality is actually broken down into 30+ areas, each with their own unique market values and sales to list ratio statistics.  Some areas of Halifax, for example, are experiencing higher than normal list to sale ratios and we've begun to see a bidding war or two in some cases.  Definitely a "Seller's Market".  On the flip side, there are other areas of HRM where there is an oversupply of houses on the market and they are just sitting there which is driving list prices down.  complicating matters is that each of these 30+ MLS areas in HRM have their own several separate and distinct sub-markets doing their own thing.   So, in situations such as these what is fair market value and how do you determine your bottom line?  


 The economic laws of real estate are just like with any other product and prices are driven by supply and demand.   "Fair Market Value" actual has a simple definition.  It is the price that a buyer is willing to pay and a Seller is willing to accept if neither party is under duress that the other party can use to their advantage. 

"Appraised Value", "Tax Value", "Perceived Value" and "Internet Value" have nothing to do with fair market value other than the effect that they may possibly have on what the Buyer is willing to pay.

What the Buyer is willing to pay determines only one half of fair market value, the other half being what the Seller is willing to accept both parties keeping in mind that there may be other ready, willing and able Buyers for the property.   In a multiple offer situation ("Bidding War"), you are likely to uncover the true fair market value of a property pretty darn quickly as Sellers instruct their agents to tell Buyer's agents to put their best and highest offer on the table from the start.   The same principle applies to a property that sits on the market for a long period of time with little or no interest.  If there is NO interest there is NO market,  therefore there is little value. 


It isn't about counting bricks or measuring square feet.  Fair market value more often than not depends on a meeting of the minds and the ability to perform.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Mayflowers

I've been looking around for other Nova Scotia blogs to read and stumbled, quite by accident, upon a blog written by a lady named Kim,  who lives a few kilometers up the road from where I grew up.  Funny story, although not so funny at the time...  Hubby-to-be and I flew home to NS from Vancouver Island back in June of 1991 for our wedding.  I hadn't really shown the wedding dress to anyone.  To be honest I didn't really put a lot of time into picking one out.  I couldn't afford anything fancy and ended up buying one in the first dress shop I went into.  It was on clearance, wasn't fancy, wasn't expensive and it fit well enough and I liked it.  Done deal, home it came.   Flash forward 6 months and it's a day or two before the wedding and my mom convinces me to show her the dress and that naturally progressed to trying on the dress.  Well... it didn't fit.   I was in a bit of denial so my mom hauls in my sister for support who obviously fretted about how to tell me nicely that I looked like a stuffed sausage.   Anyway, the blogger that I stumbled upon was the lady that saved the day with the dress by agreeing to do some last minute emergency alterations. I think it was my mother's frantic phone call.  I was so embarrassed.  Anyway, I made it down the aisle with the dress zipped up so score one for the bride.   And another thank you to Kim!  By the way Kim writes a nice blog about life in rural Nova Scotia.  Stop by and say "Hi" at  http://hereandthere-kim.blogspot.ca/

In a recent entry, Kim posted pictures of some Mayflowers that she'd found.  Mayflowers are one of my favourite flowers, if not my favourite.  Lots of happy memories as kids going hunting for Mayflowers with my sister.  They usually came out in April or early May.  They grow really close to the ground, like a ground cover and sometimes you have to turn over their leaves to find them hiding underneath.  They are white or white with pink around the edges, very dainty and fragile and they have the best smell ever.  Ever.   If you leave them long enough the flowers turn into bright red berries that we called teaberries.   I have no idea if that is the proper name for them or not.  The taste always reminded me a bit of pink peppermints.   I remember a few times picking Mayflowers to send out to an Aunt that lived in Ontario.  We'd fill a box with them and mom would mail them out.  God only knows what shape those flowers were in when they arrived!

When I read about the Mayflowers in Kim's entry I decided to go looking and found a small patch of them near my house, just enough to bunch together and fit in a teacup as all the vases I had were too big.  


They found a home on my living room coffee table as you can see.   They are so tiny and delicate and just plain pretty.  I love them.   


This tiny little bunch of flowers on my coffee table fills the room with the most amazing smell.  
It's the smell of Spring in Nova Scotia to me.  I hope one day if I ever have to move away again, someone will mail me a box full of Mayflowers every year.  Even if they arrive wilted it would be worth it just to get a whiff of them...the smell of home.
 You can take the girl out of Nova Scotia but I don't think you'll ever take Nova Scotia out of this girl. 



Saturday, 14 April 2012

Weekend babble, bit of a rant.

Quiet few days.  My hubby turned 50 yesterday.  Now for other people I know 50 seemed like a huge deal complete with parties and buzzards on the lawn and co-workers and family members sneaking packages of Depends and Polident into the house in brightly wrapped packages.  Hubby wanted none of that.  His insistence that it was "just another day" kept ringing in my head and in the end it was just like any other birthday in the house.   A bunch of his childhood friends still keep in touch and amazingly enough they all seem to have April birthdays, one even shares Rob's birthday.  The guys were heading to Toronto for a Van Halen concert and I "suggested" to my hubby that it would be cool if he would go and it would be my 50th birthday present for him.  Nope, he wasn't having any of that either.   So hubby got a "Happy Birthday", a beer or two with the guys from work, a couple cards, a cake and a Canadian Tire gift card and he seemed happy as a clam.

I've been stressing about the whole real estate and blogging thing...what to write about, what makes me think that I am any more of a real estate expert than any one of the 1000's of other real estate bloggers out there and to be honest I wasn't coming up with much.  I've been working in the industry for 21 years now but the truth is I'm no expert.  I've still got so much to learn and everything keeps changing about as fast as I can keep up with it.  Am I the best agent out there?  Of course not.  Am I the busiest?  Heck no.  So what makes me think I can be all pompous and set up my own self promoting blog and spew to the masses about my expertise?  I probably shouldn't.  But I set up this blog anyway, did I not?  I do want more clients.  I do want to be busier in my business.  It IS a business.  This is how I pay my bills and feed my kids and keep my house.   Enter the social media circus.   I won't lie, the work I've done with Facebook, Twitter, this Blog, a website, etc is just a way to try to attract more clients.  I am aware that it will be a slow process but I am seeing some results in the traffic that I am hoping will only go up.  So perhaps in a bit I will be where I want to be.    So, what makes me different?  I do not know that I am.  I Do know that I am ethical, knowledgeable, do not tell a client what they want to hear if it differs from what they need to hear, and when I am representing a client in a transaction I feel that I do a damn good job.   So far, I've never listed a house that did not sell.   So there you have it.   

I read something yesterday that made me rethink my approach to this blog.  I read that my blog content/posts should only be 10% real estate related and 90% about me and my life and whatever else made me write.  That blogging for business was more about engaging people than about telling them how good you are.  (So pretend you didn't just read that last few lines about how good I am).   So from now on, I'm not going to stress about the real estate content and just be me.  







Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Another day, another deal

Busy day today at the office.  Lots of team deals on the go and the behind the scenes paperwork and back and forth with amendments for price reductions and closing date changes made for a few stressful moments.

One highlight of my day was phoning my Buyer and telling her that I had her written financing approval in hand from her bank and the house she offered on was officially hers pending the closing date in June.  She is a young lady, single professional, first time home buyer and so very happy and excited.  Made my day.  As much as I moan and complain about my job somedays, moments like that one make it all go away.  Now I need more Buyers.  Or Sellers.  I'm an equal opportunity REALTOR®.  Afterall, if you are going to put a real estate sign on your lawn,  why wouldn't you want it to look like this:

Psssst....tell your friends!


I have to admit my day wasn't all peaches and cream.  I did have to tell a Seller client that the price they listed their house for was a bit outside of realistic when you look at all the stats.  They came into the listing with a pre-determined price in mind and we decided to list it at that price to start to test the waters. After a couple weeks with Zero phone calls and Zero showings it was apparent that something was not right.
An updated market analsyis showed they were way out of line with comparables on the same street.  I recommended a price drop to bring them slightly above their competition on the street, so we'll see if they agree.  I always hate those kinds of conversations because no matter how you spin it and no matter who set the initial list price, it always ends up looking badly on the agent in the client's mind.   That's why I prefer to stay away from clients who have pie in the sky expectations as to list price that the market just doesn't support.  If I wanted to  throw marketing dollars down the toilet and bang my head against the wall...well, I'd go bang my head against a wall.  On second thought...I do need to drop a few pounds...

So....do you think it would work?
Today was much better in the office than yesterday.  Our office building lost internet access again.  It all started last week when something went to heck in an Easter basket at the auto business across the street.  It really did something wonky to the power in the buildings around it.  I guess it started a death knell for our building's modem and we would get sporadic internet access.  Yesterday morning I walked in and the entire building was without internet.  Speaking of banging my head against the wall.  Tuesday mornings are Advertising deadline mornings in the local real estate world and you guessed it...submissions are through online portals.   The deadlines all came and went with no internet access.  Frustrating.     

I think that I do a good job with writing ads and property write ups.  I will admit, there are days when it's hard to figure out exactly what to say about a house to set it apart from the three other houses on the street that all look identical.  Usually when I find myself thinking "it's got 4 walls and a roof, what more do you need?" I know it's time to take a break and do something else for a while and then come back to it fresh.  Sometimes, I look online to see what other agents say about similar houses in other parts of the world. 

I stumbled upon some funny real estate ads for your viewing pleasure:
I thought this was interesting.  The property's backyard wasn't quite perfect so the
 agent photoshopped it in a bright, lucious, grassy green.  Seriously??
 
The listing write up says, "Must see the duck legs in the ceiling". 
  Oh my gosh...  you see that too right?
Oh, my home stager would be all over that like white on rice. 

Oh dear...  the parties sound fun at least.

I'm glad they clarified that....you know, just in case you had issues
 buying from Extraterrestrials or something.



Last but not least... click on the Facebook tab on your right and "Like" me.  You know you wanna.


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Happy Nor'Easter at Casa Laprade

I'm not cut out for these 4 day weekends.  I'll be glad to be going back to work in the morning. 


Easter at Casa Laprade has come and gone for another year.  Well actually Easter at Casa Laprade is kind of a rare event since we usually pack our tails and treats and head for the South Shore to spend the holiday with my parents.  Not this year.


Imagine my surprise waking up on Easter morning to this:



I guess taking the snow tires off the car a few weeks ago really was pushing my luck.   I know we've had a mild winter by Eastern Canada's standards, but enough already.   Happy Easter, not Happy Nor'Easter.


Speaking of Easter....The Easter Bunny came!!  As I was the first one up I got to 'ooh' and 'ahh' over all the treats and even sneak a few.  What they don't know won't hurt them.   Of course the Easter bunny left a little bit of "something something" for everyone.


This is Matt's swag.  He got lots of chocolate treats and a gift card to the movies which I assume he will use to treat his girlfriend, Robin, to a movie date.






This is Ben's bounty.  Instead of the movie card he got a Tim Horton's card.  He likes to head to Timmies with some friends during lunch.
  
And this is what the Easter bunny left for Hubby & I.  Yum!




Speaking of Matt and his girlfriend.... Matt's favourite candy became apparent when he spotted a bag of treats with the same name as his sweetie.  Awwww...



This is Peep.  Peep has been an Easter fixture in our house since Matthew made him in art class during the first grade and so proudly brought him home to Momma.  Or maybe that was Benjamin.  I can't remember.  I'm such a bad mom.   Isn't Peep cute?



Not to be confused with this kind of peep. Which didn't last long in my house.  Not long at all.  Poor, poor peep.

He looks evil.

After the morning festivities it was time to tend to the turkey. We usually brine our turkeys, so this is what you see here.  



Standard brine is 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup salt for every 8 cups of water.  Let the turkey soak in the water at least 4 hours or overnight.  I've found the past couple of times we've done this that the turkey is just a touch too salty...so I think I would reduce the sugar and salt slightly next time.   Other than that, it was really good.  Juicy.  


And, last but not least, since I am supposed to be making an effort to get in touch with my inner real estate guru...I bring you this...
The absolute latest in Easter themed home decor.


Don't do it folks.  

Thursday, 5 April 2012

If you build it...


I'm a firm believer in the principle of "If you build it they will come".

I've been a blogger for more than 10 years yet this is pretty much my first public blog post.  Before now, I've written anonymously on another journal site where I controlled who got to read what and who I shared my journal with.   I may just be crazy to want to change that.

Those that know me know that I am a busy mom, wife, volunteer and a real estate agent.   I hadn't bothered much with social media in my real estate world until recently.  Those "in the know" encourage agents to have an online presence on just about every social media site that moves and shakes.  On my anonymous journal I'd talk about my everyday life with deals and clients and vent my frustrations and share my joys.  Pat myself on the back for a deal well done and drown my sorrows in words for those clients whose deals went down the drain.  However I don't think those types of entries would be kosher in a more professional forum. Nor am I the type of person that can sit down and write a strictly real estate based blog spouting endless news and stats and housing related content.  Boring.  That's just not me.   So there was my hesitation... I could blog but the content was strictly of a more personal nature and in forcing myself to be more real estate oriented and public...would I lose myself and what made blogging appeal to me?  If I couldn't stick to real estate what was the point?  Would anyone care?  Those questions kept this blog empty for a very long time.  So I have yet to see how this will all play out.  I need to find a balance somehow.  I need to find my grove.

If I can build it I hope they will come.