With everything going on in our world right now it would not surprise me if you are really stressed out.

Article By:  Neil O’Donnell


With everything going on in our world right now it would not surprise me if you are really stressed out. Maybe you’re out of work, maybe you’re worried about COVID-19, maybe you’re protesting for change, maybe you’re realizing that detention for your kids at home just doesn’t work…whatever it is I’m sure its building up stress in your life. I personally know many of my friends who are stressed for all of those above items plus others. From small business owners to employees, seniors and those trying to keep up with parents in Long Term care. Wear masks, don’t wear masks. Asymptomatic can’t spread the virus…wait…yes they can…sort of. Splash pads are safe, but the swings aren’t. You can be around people at the grocery store but not in your backyard. I know for a lot of people its just all becoming too much. So the one thing we are all trying to do is figure out how to cope with all the stress and the anxiety that comes along with it. So we thought we would pass along some tips on how to reduce any stress or anxiety you may be experiencing. I do a number of these things and it definitely helps me and we hope it will help you as well.

Reduce checking in…
While staying informed is helpful, too much information may not provide extra benefit. Limit checking sources to once per day or less if you can. This includes reading or listening to news stories. Even though things are shifting rapidly, daily changes are not likely to affect how you should manage your risk. Unplug…

Even though your family may be getting on your nerves during this lock down it can also offer you some time to create great memories and quality time. To really make the most of it set aside some time to unplug from all electronics, including phone, tablets and computers. Especially disconnect for a while from social media outlets. You may need to schedule this to make sure it happens. Also make sure you do something fun and healthy for yourself (e.g., read, work, exercise). Remember you are tough enough.

Our stress and anxiety generally cause us to focus on negatives and trigger “What if” questions, such as “How will I cope if I get sick?” They can also drive us to think about worst case scenarios.’ In stressful situations, people often overestimate how bad the situation can get, but underestimate how well they will be able to cope. You are resilient and have coping skills that you use every day.

  • Think of difficult or challenging situations you have an encountered that you were able to manage. Even if things weren’t perfect, you were able to cope with the situation.
  • Remind yourself that you can handle stress and that if you feel you need support, you can reach out to family, friends, colleagues or professionals.

Remember we have excellent health care and public health response systems creating strong and resilient communities. Try to replace catastrophic thoughts with something like, “This is definitely a difficult time, but we will get through it together.”

  • Don’t underestimate what you are able to do when faced with challenges.

Eat healthy…
I can honestly say that for me eating healthily definitely helps me feel better. When we are stressed, many people might choose comfort foods that are not actually good for stress and overall health. I know I do it but even though it feels great at the moment it almost always makes me feel more sluggish and worse in the long run. I’m not saying don’t have that piece of cheesecake but as much as is possible, choose more fruits and vegetables, and drink lots of water.

Stay Active…

Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve our mood and overall health. Now that the weather is better and we are ‘allowed’ to do more things, take advantage of it. Go for a walk, hike or bike ride. Even if its just walking around your neighbourhood the fresh air will help you reduce stress and feel better. Do you have any renovations, landscaping or gardening you always wanted to do? Now is a great time. It will give you time outside in the fresh air and a needed distraction from the craziness happening in the ‘outside’ world. There are so many great resources online if you are looking for more ways to handle any stress or anxiety you may be experiencing. Also, if you are looking for someone to talk to please feel free to reach out. We’re always here to help all our friend and clients in any way we can. Be well everyone and remember tough times don’t last but tough people do. You got this!!


A good friend of mine asked me the other day ‘Hey with all this virtual stuff happening now why do people need an in person real estate agent anymore?’ It’s a good question and it touches on so many things that anyone who is thinking about buying or selling really need to know. So, I thought I would try and explain and pull back the curtain on what is going on in real estate surrounding all of the ‘virtual’ things you are starting to hear about.

The Virtual Walk Through or Tour:  What’s real?

Buyer: When done ethically this can be a good tool to help you get a better feel of the layout etc of the home prior to going to see it. This will help you narrow down the list of properties to see which will help you save time and focus on what you really want.

Seller: This helps by reducing the amount of people through your home which will mean less time you have to pack up the family, leave and put in time waiting until the prospective buyer is doing looking over your home. Also, it helps to make sure that when someone comes to look at your home you know they already have a good idea so if they are seeing it in person you know they are a serious buyer.

What’s NOT Real # 1

The virtual world is great but its also easy to fake. There are services out there that will ‘virtually stage’ the home. If you pay enough, they can make the home look amazing! So much so that when you actually see it in person it looks nothing like what you saw online. There are agents out there who say ‘well this is an example of what the property could be. We are showing the buyer the potential of the home.’ Ok, so do you tell them ahead of time what it would cost and how long it would take to create this potential you are showing? No, they don’t. So what does that mean for you.

Buyer: means you could be wasting your time. You may not have the money or the ability to ‘create that vision’ as shown in the faked virtual tour.

Seller: means again you could be out of your home for no reason as the buyer, once they see the home, has no interest in it. No one wants to waste their time. Its too precious.

What’s NOT Real #2

They only show you want they want you to see. Remember this is all marketing. Good marketing, by definition, focuses on the good and downplays or outright hides the bad. There are some agents currently doing no see offers. Meaning that you have to have an accepted offer BEFORE you can see the property. Now there are situation where this is right to do. If you have a building with tenants its right to do this so you don’t disturb the tenants more than absolutely necessary. However you also disclose every last thing you can so people make an offer with all the information. In the virtual world, not so much….

Buyer: This means that they are not likely to show you the crack in the foundation wall or the water stain on the ceiling caused by the bathroom above it. You won’t see that until you have already made an offer, it was accepted and now you are already on the way to buying it. Now, you can back out of the deal at this point. However, with all the time this process has taken you could have missed out on another home that doesn’t have these issues. Imagine how upset you would be if that happened to you.

Seller: Don’t allow your agent to do ‘no showing without accepted offers’ on a residential single family home. Your home. It almost never goes well. If you do, please make sure you show and tell the potential buyer everything you can. Anything short of this will almost always end with the buyer walking away, you’re getting frustrated and potentially missing out on other buyers while you were tied up in the current offer. 

With all this virtual stuff maybe I should do it myself?

I get asked this all the time. The truth is yes, of course you can sell your home yourself, as long as you know what you are doing. As a matter of fact I’ve written an entire manual on how you, the home owner, can sell your home yourself, doing all the same things an agent will do and if you want it just let me know and I will give it to you. How many agents will tell you that or give you that…other than us…no one that I know of.

The trick is knowing what to do. Here is a quick break down of the various ways/models that are available to sell your house with commission models to suit almost everyone. While there’s no such thing as ‘standard’ real estate commission, there are some typical commission models that we often see. Today, we’re exploring the most popular service and commission models in real estate, starting from the cheapest to the most expensive.

For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Some homeowners want to sell their own home and not hire a real estate agent to represent them – we refer to them as For Sale By Owners (FSBO).

In Ontario, if a FSBO wants to list their property on the MLS, they’ll need to contract a brokerage to do it for them and usually pay a flat-fee cost. The fee is payable whether or not the home sells.

When a FSBO represents themselves, they are responsible for setting the asking price, preparing the home, staging, photography, marketing, buyer showings, open houses, contract/price negotiations and dealing with any closing issues. There are companies out there who can help you sell your home yourself but they charge upfront fees with no guarantee that your home will sell. That money is gone whether your home sells or not. Sadly there is a large percentage that don’t sell and they eventually end up using a full service realtor to get it sold.

The Discount Brokerage Commission Model

Discount real estate commission models aim to help a Seller save money by discounting the upfront fees or commission typically paid.

Discount brokerages and agents severely limit the services and inclusions they provide and pass those savings on to the Seller. In our area, we often see discount commission models that:

  • Exclude home preparation, cleaning or staging support
  • Don’t include professional HD photography or floor plans
  • Limit marketing to simply putting a listing on MLS • Focus on the volume of sales instead of the client experience, by providing low-touch, often low quality service
  • Discount the amount of money offered to the agent who brings the Buyer

As we discussed in a previous newsletter, real estate commission is almost always split between the listing agent and the agent who brings the Buyer. Some listing agents offer lower overall commission by offering less (or nothing) to the Buyer’s agent. If you’re considering hiring a discount agent, make sure you understand what is and is not included and how that could impact your sale. If you see commission advertised as “1%”, that probably doesn’t include the commission offered to the Buyer’s agent, which might be an additional 2.5% or 3%, bringing your total commission to 3.5 or 4%.

The Full-Service Commission Model

Full-service real estate commission reflects the higher costs of including more services and providing a more client-centric experience.  These days in our area, “full-service real estate” usually includes:

  • Assistance with home preparation or cleaning
  • Professional staging
  • Pre-listing home inspections
  • Professional HDR photography and floor plans
  • Targeted marketing beyond the MLS
  • Negotiations and representation by experienced agents
  • Full-service agents sometimes have various commission options that reflect what’s included – for example, at Three Pillars Realty, we have various commission options that are tailor made to suit your situation.

The iBuyer Model
iBuyer companies remove the risk and uncertainty of a sale by buying a home directly from the Seller, usually sight-unseen and within hours of a being listed. The goal: no home prep or showings and quick, drama-free closings. While the iBuyer model isn’t yet common in Canada, it’s gaining momentum in the US. However what is here in our area are investors sending our flyers or sometimes on a post. Usually it reads “We Buy Homes for Cash! No Showings, Now work. Guaranteed!!” Or some variation on that theme. The cost of a quick, pain-free iBuyer sale? Commission in t he range of 8-12% of the purchase price and/or offer prices that are often very discounted vs selling at market value. iBuyers are investors of all size aiming to make a profit by flipping homes quickly. iBuying is increasingly popular in cities characterized by slow-moving real estate markets, lower price points and planned communities with homogeneous or identical houses that are in need of updating. Also they prey on those people whose situation has changed and need to sell quickly. Often in these scenarios if you call a full service agent they can get it sold quickly and still put more money in your pocket. The Full Commission (but Discount Service) Model

Full-service fees but discount services

OK, nobody likes to talk about this, but unfortunately, we see it all the time: real estate agents charging the same as full-service brokers but providing discount services and/or limited inclusions. This might be the most expensive commission of all. Those agents who are semi-retired, who use to have a full time career now they sell real estate ‘on the side’ or those agents who still have a full time job and are doing this part-time or sadly those agents that just don’t know what they are doing. If you’re going to pay more commission than the ‘discounted’ services, that extra commission should be offset by the services that result in higher sales prices. Be careful not to pay top commission for bare-bones service and a mediocre sales price. 

Any thoughts or questions?  Share them with me at [email protected]

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