This article, written by James Craig, appeared in the Saturday, May 20, 2017 issue of Waterloo Region Homes.

Knock Knock? Who’s there? Someone who wants to buy your house? Consumer Beware! For most readers this is no newsflash: Waterloo region’s residential real estate market is red hot!

Like many markets across the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), we in Waterloo region have been experiencing record breaking sales combined with low inventory levels for months now. In other words, it is a sellers’ market.

During the first quarter of 2017, there were 1,532 home sales through the Multiple Listing System (MLS® System) of the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS® (KWAR). The average price of a residential home during this same period increased a whopping 28.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis to $468,653.

While statistics like this can paint some of the picture, what it cannot tell you is what your home will sell for. The fact is no one really knows what price their home will fetch until it is put to the test of being listed with your Realtor on the MLS® System.

These days we are seeing some sticker shock. For example, when a house priced in the $300,000 range subsequently sells for a hundred-thousand dollars over asking! Does this mean that every home listed for $300,000 will bring substantially more? Absolutely not! In fact, it might sell for exactly $300,000 or even less. Only the market can determine sale price, but the experience of a knowledgeable local Realtor can certainly help predict it.

With a shortage of listings (we have been sitting at less than two month’s inventory or less for the past 12 months) inventory levels are at an unprecedented low and buyer creativity at an all-time high. One strategy some buyers and their Realtors have turned to in these times is good old fashioned door-knocking to find homeowners who could be tempted to sell while the market is hot.

Now, knowing what you do know about today’s market, what would you do if someone came knocking on your door tomorrow, offering you X amount for your house? Would you know if what they were offering was fair market value?

There is certainly nothing wrong with this practice and when it works out it can be a win-win for both buyer and seller. On the other hand, my caution to homeowners is: the person doing the knocking may be offering you a price that sounds attractive, but how can you be sure?

Sometimes in this scenario, sellers are attracted by the idea of a quick hassle-free transaction. They’ve been offered a price that is way more than what they originally paid for their home, and maybe even way more than what they ever dreamed they could ever get.

I have heard a few anecdotes recently where the buyer knocking on the door has actually encouraged the homeowner NOT to use a Realtor (It would be unethical and illegal for a Realtor to do this by the way).

In one case, the gentleman did sell his house without the aid of a Realtor, and the price he sold it for – while far more than what he paid when he purchased it over 30 years ago, was substantially less than what he would have got had he put it on the open market.

I think the Canadian Real Estate Association’s latest advertising campaign says it best: “Live with No Regrets.” Using a Realtor is the most important decision you can make when buying or selling.

On whatever side of the transaction you are on, if you have a Realtor in your corner (i.e. you’ve entered into either a listing agreement or a buyer representation agreement) they have a legal duty to only act in your best interests. Furthermore, they are bound by the Real Estate Council of Ontario, the Canadian Real Estate Association and their local real estate board’s Code of Ethics, rules and regulations.

When your home is listed by a Realtor you get the counsel of someone who understands the market and can guide you on the best pricing and selling strategy. If you’re purchasing, your Realtor will provide you with insight and advice on the home, the neighbourhood, and when it comes to submitting an offer, how many other buyers you are competing against and advice on the price you offer. So what should you do when someone comes knocking on your door? Please take my advice: take their information and then talk to a Realtor. He or she will be able to assist you in reviewing the doorknockers’ offer and help you understand all of your options to ensure you end up with the offer that is best for you.

James Craig is the current president of the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS®.

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