Moving? Where do you start?

September 14th, 2006

Moving?

Start with the rooms you use the least. In most family homes there are rooms that are not used on a daily basis, guest bedrooms, basements, or living rooms. Start the sorting process in these rooms and avoid cluttering the areas of the home used regularly.

Start with large items. In order to feel you are making progress, in each room start with the largest items and move towards the smallest. For example, identify what you will do with the furniture before you start on the knick-knacks. That way you can label the box for its home at the other end. Remember, you pack the small things on top of the big things. The big things go in the bottom of the box!

Have a sorting system. Sort items by making piles, or making detailed lists of what will be kept, what will be given away and to where, and what is still undecided.

Write down family history. Take the time to write down special memories or any family history that is connected to special items. This information will be cherished for generations to come and will contribute to the value of family heirlooms (don't we all watch the Antique Roadshow? They call it provenance.)

Work in scheduled blocks of time. Plan to sort items for periods of no more than two hours at a time. The process of revisiting memories and making decisions about items you have lived with for many years can be emotionally difficult. You will feel less overwhelmed and make better decisions if you take regular breaks and allow yourself time to digest what is happening.

Start early and don’t rush yourself: Be sure to plan plenty of time for the sifting and sorting process. Take moments to laugh at old pictures, read old letters, and grieve for losses. If you can’t decide what to do with an item, set it aside and return to it later. Work at a pace that is comfortable for you and your situation.

Keep the items that you treasure the most. Make a list of items you refuse to part with and keep that list in sight as you sort through other possessions. If you don't love it, why does it live with you?

Get rid of things you no longer need.

Consider having a garage sale or home auction. If you have enough items that are likely to net a profit (furniture, antiques, electronics) it may make the effort of having a garage sale worthwhile.

Have the kids remove their “stuff”. Especially the adult children- tell them it is time to collect their childhood belongings and store their own mementos. Give them a deadline that works with your schedule and warn them that anything leftover will be donated to charity.

Leaving a family home can be a bittersweet event that involves revisiting many painful and joyful memories.

During the process of downsizing we may be surprised at how attached we have become to our possessions and how difficult it might seem to part with them.

Visit your local newspaper, purchase a roll of newsprint, it's inexpensive and perfect for wrapping stuff- PLUS you won't need to wash it all at the new place!

The Stress of Moving

September 14th, 2006

I have take one or two courses in psychology and I know that human beings can't avoid being anxious or fearful or worried at various times in their lives. Moving is ranked among life's most stressful events. Research shows that moving house is one of the greatest stresses we face in our lives. In its capacity to cause psychological distress it is right up there, with losing a close relative and illness, loss of employment and divorce, in terms of severity. Of course planned and managed well, stress is not necessarily a requirement.

The stresses of buying and selling a home often make many people feel overwhelmed. Taking care of yourself in the process, making sure you understand what's going on, and increasing your sense of control can reduce your stress and helps keep the relocation process sane. To understand relocation stress let's examine the two kinds of needs that people have when moving: Your transactional needs, like finding the home that is just right for you, finding a seller who is realistic, negotiating the price, completing the paperwork, handling the escrow, and arranging for the physical move. Your emotional needs which carry with them the largest amount of stress.

While moving certainly holds the potential for stress, overwhelm, and, conflict, this potential has become so firmly embedded in our collective belief system that it feels like an unavoidable truth. A thought, repeated enough times by enough people for long enough, becomes a collective thought pattern. Eventually, these patterns become so ingrained in our way of life that they become a part of our collective belief system.

Our physical reality is filled with collective beliefs - "Moving is stressful." "You have to work hard to get ahead." These collective beliefs hold great power and most of the time we allow these beliefs to determine the tone of our creative energy. Because of that, we usually create by default. We continue to get what we have always gotten because that is what we believe we are going to get. Human beings can't avoid being anxious or fearful or worried at various times in their lives.

Known by a number of names - Tropophobia, Fear of Moving, and Fear Making Changes being the most common - the problem often significantly impacts the quality of life. It can cause panic attacks and keep people apart from loved ones and business associates. Symptoms typically include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and overall feelings of dread, although everyone experiences moving phobia in their own way and may have different symptoms.

Although not everyone admits to having a phobia of some sort, many people, and conscious or not, tend to share the most common fear of all: the fear of change. Change acts as a threat toward those who are comfortable and set in a current way of living. People who do not accept change are often looked upon as narrow minded. However, those who cannot cope with a change in life can sometimes become mentally ill, diminishing life’s better qualities.

Though a variety of potent drugs are often prescribed for moving phobia, side effects and/or withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Moreover, drugs do not "cure" moving phobia or any other phobia. At best they temporarily suppress the symptoms through chemical interaction.

The Law of Attraction tells us that the thoughts, emotions and energy that we send out into the world are what create our experience. In theory, we have the ability to control our thoughts, emotions and energy Simple right? Simple perhaps, but not always easy. This law encourages us to stop believing that what we have always gotten is what we will always get. Instead, we are encouraged to start creating a new experience. Write a new script. Design a new set.
You must take creative control, otherwise, you will suffer with the feeling of uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time. This is known as cognitive dissonance.

Dissonance increases with:
The importance of the subject to us. How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.

Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.

Dissonance is often strong when we believe something about ourselves and then do something against that belief. If I believe I am good but do something bad, then the discomfort I feel as a result is cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful motivator that will often lead us to change one or other of the conflicting belief or action. The discomfort often feels like a tension between the two opposing thoughts. To release the tension we can take one of three actions: Change our behavior or Justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition or Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions.

Dissonance is most powerful when it is about our self-image. Feelings of foolishness, immorality and so on (including internal projections during decision-making) are dissonance in action. If an action has been completed and cannot be undone, then the after-the-fact dissonance compels us to change our beliefs. If beliefs are moved, then the dissonance appears during decision-making, forcing us to take actions we would not have taken before.

Cognitive dissonance appears in virtually all evaluations and decisions and is the central mechanism by which we experience new differences in the world. When we see other people behave differently to our images of them, when we hold any conflicting thoughts, we experience dissonance.

Dissonance increases with the importance and impact of the decision, along with the difficulty of reversing it. Discomfort about making the wrong choice of car is bigger than when choosing a lamp. Almost all major purchases result in cognitive dissonance, also known as buyer's remorse.

Frequently, the anxiety has its roots in the individual's failure to accept or acknowledge the simple fact that most purchases are either reversible or that any item of significant value may be resold, albeit with some degree of discount.

Buyer's remorse may also stem from the fact that before the act of purchasing both possibilities are open, and that after having done so, one option (not purchasing) has been closed off (unless one tries to obtain a refund). Psychologically, in the phase before purchasing, the prospective buyer feels the positive emotions associated with the purchase (desire, a sense of heightened possibilities, and an intimation of the enjoyment that will accompany using the product, for example): afterwards, having made the purchase, he or she is able more fully to experience the negative aspects.

In other words, before purchasing, one experiences oneself as acting in a virile way, creating a situation; while afterwards the time of acting has passed: one is deflated and experiences oneself as having been acted on by the former virile self; one feels bound by one's remaining limited choices.

This is a unique idiosyncrasy of human nature, but it is even worse when we are reaching some major milestone, something we may have dreamt of for years. Our first new car, our first home, our last car, our last home. In spite of the fact that you can only do your best; make your selection and then make the best of it; often the immedicate result may be a state of stress, remorse and unhappiness. It may be further characterized by feelings of regret, self-hatred and a strong desire to make things right.

There is value in learning from the experience, but little in using the clarity of hindsight to berate yourself over possibly not making the exactly optimal choice.

“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”( Robert Louis Stevenson). Let’s not waste our time wondering whether or not it’s fair. Let’s accept the fact that change is here, and it’s our task to deal with it.

Caveat

September 14th, 2006

Caveat Venditor! We don’t often hear that one, but it is Latin for “Seller Beware”! Yes, even Sellers can be taken advantage of, in the Real Estate Market.

Constantly revising and reviewing adherence to regulations, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is responsible for regulating the trading of Real Estate and sustaining public trust in the marketplace. RECO works with the government, consumers and registered Real Estate practitioners to create a solid foundation for the industry.

One of the key words, today, is DISCLOSURE. The regulations regarding disclosure are stringent! Among other things, Real Estate professionals are required (by law) to disclose their role to all parties of the transaction. This must take place at the earliest opportunity and be done in writing. Real Estate professionals also have to disclose how they will benefit from the transaction- essentially: who is paying them and why.

Sellers must disclose any known defects of the property, even though it is the Buyer or the Buyer’s Agent’s responsibility to be diligent in discovering defects in the property. Deliberate avoidance of providing pertinent information may be considered fraud and could result in prosecution.

Being a Seller is difficult. Usually there is some personal reason that prompts the sale of a home. Perhaps there has been a transfer through employment, children have grown up and moved on, the family is growing, a lottery was won, a job has been lost… there are too many reasons to list… trust me, there is usually some kind of emotional, personal link.

I ask Sellers to try to disconnect their emotional attachment and try to think of it as selling a marketable item of great value… to think of it as more of a house, than their home. In this way, they can step back and evaluate it from a more objective perspective.
The Ontario Real Estate Association provides Realtors with a “Seller Property Information Statement”, a form that assists Sellers to be sure that Buyers are given accurate information about their property. While this provides a super outline, it is not a warranty and it is still up to the Buyers to make their own inquiries.

Real Estate “listing forms” contain a lot of information about disclosures. A good Realtor will go over every clause in the listing agreement and the Seller signs it, below the pre-printed phrase “THIS AGREEMENT HAS BEEN READ AND FULLY UNDERSTOOD BY ME….”

There are forms titled “Confirmation of Co-Operation and Representation” that put in writing, the nature of the roles of the parties in a transaction and provides an opportunity for any further disclosures. Here, a Realtor may disclose their own interest or relationship to the parties or any knowledge that they may have and wish to disclose.

Three key words have often been attributed to real estate: “location, location, location” and now we can add “disclose, disclose, disclose”.

Not too far fetched

September 14th, 2006

As I’ve said before, a good Realtor gets to know their client… extremely well. In many cases, it is the only way to help them make a well-informed decision. Realtors spend a great deal of time with their clients, especially with Buyers.

Here, in cottage country, we explore hundreds of kilometers of landscape and lakes, together. Often, the children and family pets are along for the ride. Realtors and Clients build close relationships and ties, during the intense process of locating the right property and there is every good intention of continuing the connection…

It’s just that the next bunch of clients comes along and then, time is eaten up with exploring hundreds of kilometers and getting acquainted… then, spare time is taken up with bookkeeping, paperwork, advertising, conferring with Seller clients and many other administrative functions… and, hopefully, hobbies and family time… maybe even a little housework. In my experience, Realtors often have untidy, unkempt homes. I suppose it is a case of the shoemaker’s children going barefoot!

I recently came across an article that made me giggle- although it is a little over the top (as most humour can be), it reminded me of how badly I feel that I do not have the time to put into the newly developed friendships and nurture the closeness I have felt with past clients. Anyway, I wrote to the author to ask if I could include it on GetReal… he was delighted. So, with a big thank-you to DAN ST. YVES, here it is:

Realtor Withdrawal Syndrome
By Dan St. Yves

Dear Mr. And Mrs. Jones ,

It was indeed a pleasure to hear from you both again yesterday. I am thrilled that you are settling into your new home, and that your relocation went so smoothly.

I also appreciate hearing how you have acquainted yourself with the local mall, restaurants, and various other amenities located so close to your new home. I appreciate that my advice regarding those latent features of your new neighborhood has been helpful.

However, I believe the time has come to discuss something that I feel you, like many of my past clients, have become an unknowing victim of. In the real estate business, we call it Realtor Withdrawal Syndrome…

Now, please do not take offense to this comment! It is not unusual to develop strong bonds with someone, especially when you’ve spent the last three months looking at homes, day and night, night and day. I enjoyed every minute, as did both of you, and wish that we could spend more time together now that you have moved into the home we were successful in offering on. However, I have more friends that need my attention, as did you when we were out looking for this beautiful home that you now own.

Don’t get me wrong. We won’t be going cold turkey here - I will be in contact regularly. I have a terrific monthly newsletter and time permitting, I promise to stop by for a visit at least during the holiday season. I have a lovely poinsettia that I bring around to all my valued friends, and family.

Who knows? We may be getting together sooner than either of us expect. Should there be any problems at all with your new home, do not hesitate to give my assistants or myself a call, and I will immediately clear my plate, to be at your assistance. We certainly hope that this will not be the case, however I thought you should now that while we may not continue speaking every day from here on out, I am still just a call away. For emergencies…

As I feel that we should implement this withdrawal as soon as possible, I will need to cancel our golf tee-off time for Thursday, the potluck BBQ on Friday, and please consider this my notice to be replaced on the Monday night bowling team…

Folks, I hope that I have explained this to your satisfaction. You aren’t the first clients to fall victim to Realtor Withdrawal Syndrome, and you likely won’t be the last. I hope you’ll find that as time passes, and you become better acquainted with your neighbors, you’ll be just fine without me constantly underfoot.

But if you ever think about selling…!

I is for Internet

September 14th, 2006

Back in 1995, I became a huge fan of the Internet. That is when I arranged for my first Real Estate Website. I just knew that the web would become a major part of the industry.
Many of my local colleagues thought I was crazy- most of them did not own a computer.

In 1996, Bancroft Real Estate Board was the first Board in Ontario to go with a web-based system. We are a relatively small board and often “cutting-edge”. The success of the system soon brought other Boards to the table and within a short time; the Canadian Real Estate Association (owners of the MLS trademark) began working on a countrywide site.

Website providers have flocked to provide razzle-dazzle to Realtors for their websites. I found that a lot of the bells and whistles made the website sluggish and distracting. With the help of a fabulous web-designer (and a wonderful brother), Matthew Didier, we have developed the GetRealinOntario site, with the market in mind.

A recent edition of “REM” (a publication about Real Estate Marketing, News, Mortgages, Technology & Opinions- provided to Realtors) had an article titled “Internet is overvalued, says Re/Max founder”. I was shocked. The article goes on to quote “… the internet has taken hold. But its impacts on the industry have not been as dramatic as one might expect….” And “The Internet has not affected Re/Max growth, profitability, share or whatever.” And almost remorsefully, “Gone are the days of real estate… warm friendly faces, shaking hands and a dog running around the yard.”

Oddly enough the article also quotes Re/Max International Founder and chairman David Liniger as saying “the Internet is still an important tool to reach consumers” and that “Re/Max plans to promote its website to consumers through extensive advertising”.

TILT

I believe the Internet is undervalued by many Real Estate professionals, I believe that the Internet has affected my personal growth; I believe that Internet can convey the warmth and sincerity I possess.

I am a research-aholic. A google-holic. I check out all kinds of websites; EVERY DAY.
I know that not everything on the Internet is accurate and true, some is opinion based, but I also find the Internet is the most quick, convenient, cost-effective and comprehensive source of information available to me. The Internet is my friend. The Internet provides solutions. The Internet keeps me connected to the pulse of the Industry, to friends, family and news.

Having a website makes sense to me. I don’t believe that a Real Estate website has anything to do with increasing market share- for GetRealinOntario it is about sharing knowledge and good information with Buyers and Sellers.