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ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR INVESTMENT PROFESSIONAL BEFORE MAKING ANY INVESTMENT DECISION

August 26, 2018 | Revenge

A best-selling Canadian author of 14 books on economic trends, real estate, the financial crisis, personal finance strategies, taxation and politics. Nationally-known speaker and lecturer on macroeconomics, the housing market and investment techniques. He is a licensed Investment Advisor with a fee-based, no-commission Toronto-based practice serving clients across Canada.

“Why do you hate real estate?” Alyssa wrote on the weekend. “My husband reads your stupid, yes – pathetic – blog every day, even at night aloud when I’m trying to go to bed. I’ve had it with you because if we don’t buy a house now, we never will. You hate real estate. Well I hate you.”

Poor A. Unable to dominate her hubs, get her way and embrace debt because of a blog. Yet another household where I’ll never be invited over for dinner.

The message here – live a balanced, diversified existence, don’t risk everything on one asset, borrow little, stay liquid, always have a Plan B, don’t buy or sell on emotion and remember that enjoying time, not owning a house, is the goal of life – is lost on most. They don’t care. They just want. And these days everyone craves real estate.

The good news is that buying’s about to become easier, more transparent, less stressful and perhaps even cheaper. It may be hard to understand how much the real estate landscape is about to transform, since we’ve lived for decades in an industry-designed fog of hazy information and emotional turmoil. Bidding wars, bully offers, blind auctions, over-asking, FOMO, phony pricing and rockstar realtor arrogance have made this process into a dangerous gamble laced with adrenalin and sheer panic. It sucks. This is no way to make the biggest purchase of a lifetime, sitting in a car in the dark waiting for some snickering agent to emerge from meeting with greedy sellers with a demand for more money.

They deserve everything they’re about it get.

A brave decision by the nation’s top law court has nixed the Toronto real estate cartel’s fight with the Competition Bureau to keep its data secret. Soon lots of sites will be brimming with things never before seen in the open. Days on market. The complete sales history of a property. Comparative values in a neighbourhood. Listing and re-listing dates. Prices changes. Ask and sold values. Everything. Right down to the undies.

“The real estate industry has wasted far too much time and money on ill-conceived strategies to undermine brokerages that wanted to bring real consumer opportunity, transparency and restored confidence to the real estate marketplace,” one of those tell-all sites (previously sued into oblivion by the realtors) said on the weekend. “The Toronto Real Estate Board now has to wake up and stop carrying the water for its dwindling group of change resistors. Instead of fighting to block innovative initiatives, TREB must now start helping its members work with tech-savvy buyers and the new consumer expectations. TREB’s leadership has been forced to start listening to the fresh new voices that can bring real improvement to its protectionist culture.”

So, Alyssa, here is some of what this will mean.

First, agents can no longer hide key information on the saleability of a property. For example, how old a listing may be is key to understanding the potential motivation of the seller. If it’s been on the market for months, the vendor is probably getting more motivated and willing to consider a lower offer. If it’s fresh, a bargain is unlikely. And a place that hasn’t sold over a long period of time suggests (a) it’s the wrong price with a snowflake seller or (b) there’s something wrong with it. So, look at the DOM (days-on-market).

Second, re-listing a property is a fav trick of realtors. By simply cancelling a listing for an unsold property and creating a new one, they’ve been able to reset the DOM clock. That means the house pops up on your realtor.ca search as NEW! while obscuring the fact it may be a pooch. Now all listings, re-listings and altered prices will be visible.

Third, you’ll see what current owners paid (and when) and know if they are reasonable, ravenous or flippers. Is a big jump in value because of renos and improvements, or just greed? If the property has changed hands multiple times, you’ll know what others paid and how long they lived there. Look funny? Ask why.

Fourth, the new transparency will show if a property’s valued fairly for the hood. Soon you’ll find sites doing what Zillow has for years in the US or Viewpoint in NS – displaying past MLS or property registration data on houses that are not for sale. Hopefully this will help end the despicable realtor trick of pricing a property vastly below market value just to engender a bidding war so it sells for a premium. Now everyone can see what it should reasonably fetch.

Fifth, universal access to accurate, timely, relevant and essential information will discipline the real estate market as it does the stock market. Suddenly the wild claims, fake news and repeated exaggerations of people claiming an investment condo can give you a 35% ROI or their listing “sold for 98% of ask” (after the price was secretly reduced) can be seen for what they are. Informed sellers using real-time alerts, mobile apps and subscribing to non-sales, third-party sites can browse and research the market without having a realtor control the data, massage the message or influence them into dumb, emotional decisions. The result: a functioning market based on truth. How refreshing.

So, Alyssa, I don’t hate real estate. But I hate what it does to people. And I love this.

Good night.

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August 26th, 2018

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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