Note: The opinions expressed on this website are those of the author. It is best to gather information from several sources before making a decision to purchase rural property, and this website does not purport to discuss all the issues that might arise. This information is provided on a "use at your own risk" basis and the author assumes no liability for subsequent use of the information provided here.

Making a Purchase

At the outset for this section, I want to make it clear that everything below was written about three years before I became a realtor myself.

I should also tell you that, even though the stories that follow make me sound like a dolt, I don't consider myself to be a stupid person. The details below are all entirely accurate, and I hope that what I have learned from them will also save you some grief.

- Bob

Episode 1:

When I first moved to the country in 1976, I came from the suburbs in Toronto. My father was already living in this community and he told me about a 100 acre farm that was available just about 2 miles away from his residence. It was being sold privately, so I took a look at it.

The house wasn't great, but it would serve for my family. The barn offered a chance to keep horses and other livestock, and 100 acres was about 600 times as much space as I had in Toronto. I didn't really take the time to check out the local market properly, and that was my fault. I offered the sellers less than their asking price and thought I was getting a real deal. Big mistake.

It wasn't until I moved to the area and started to talk to locals, that I found that I had paid at least 10% more than the market value, and perhaps more than that. There was no agent involved in this transaction, but I certainly didn't save any money.

Lesson learned: If you are moving to a rural area and you don't know about the real market value of properties in that area, be careful. What looks like a bargain, may not be one at all.


Episode 2:

I had a home in Trenton, Ontario, in 1987 that I wanted to sell so that I could build on a waterfront lot I had acquired. It seemed like a good idea to sell privately so that I could avoid the sales commission.

I made up flyers. I held open houses. I spent a fair bit of money posting my own picture ads in local media, and, at last, I did get a conditional offer. It was conditional on the sale of the buyer's home, so I waited, and waited, and waited for about four months, until it became apparent that their house was listed too far above market value and no sale woud be forthcoming.

I was way behind schedule for my building plans at this point, so I decided to do what I thought was going to lose me some money and I listed with a local broker - Connie Aasen. Within 3 weeks, Connie had the place sold for 10% more than the conditional offer I had that had fallen through. Way to go, Connie!

Lesson: If you are going to sell, get someone working for you who knows what they are doing.




Episode 3:

In 1996, I needed to sell the waterfont property. Again, I decided to do this privately in order to save the sales commission.

Almost two years later, I gave up and listed with Anne Reid, a real estate agent who was a friend of mine, and the parent of a student I had taught in Grade 1. In the preceeding two years, the best offer I had been able to get on my own was $190,000, and I had turned it down. It took a while, but Anne Reid found a buyer at $213,000.

Lesson: The same one that I should have learned in Episode 2!


Your experiences may be different, but there is certainly a pattern in mine.

What I have found is that both buying and selling can be a problem if you don't have someone working for you in your best interests.

Anne was probably the most direct with her advice. She asked me, "Bob, when you tried to sell privately and you found someone interested in your place, didn't they expect you to drop your price by the sales commission and more?"

Yes. And more. She was absolutely right. I was expected to take the loss, and I had none of the advantages of marketing with the exposure that MLS can provide.

So, here is my conclusion.

No one likes to pay real estate commissions, so private sales and purchases do have some appeal. The problem is that so many things can go wrong with them.

If I were buying in an area where I didn't have a really good understanding of real estate values, I would now be sure to enter into a Buyer Agency agreement with an agent from that community.

- Bob Foster, 2005


Addition: 2009

These experiences were humbling, but they contained valuable lessons that helped me when I decided to become a real estate sale person myself.

The comment I made in 2005 about "the advantages of marketing with the exposure that MLS can provide" was right on the money. A qualified real estate agent can put your listing on MLS or, as it is now known,

You can't do that if you sell privately, and the companies that sell you packages for marketing your home as "For Sale By Owner" can't do it either. That means that, even with any newspaper advertising you may do, you are never likely to get as many people through your home as you would if it was on MLS.

The more people who see your home, the better chance you have of getting the offer you want. It's that simple - and 85% of people who buy a home now see it first on the Internet. Selling without having your home on MLS can work, but you are missing out on having the most important real estate tool in the country working for you.

- Bob Foster, 2009

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Copyright, Bob Foster, 2015

Bob Foster, Sales Representative
Peak Local Real Estate Inc., Brokerage
Bob's Cell: 613 921 3933