During tough economic times, a real estate agent’s discipline, work ethic and creativity are tested most. The real estate market in Calgary is showing signs of stable growth after a rough period, and we wanted the perspective of an expert agent on the current climate, buyer behavior and good practices. Mike Sherrard stepped up, with a thorough set of answers to our questions.
Tell us a few words about your job as a real estate professional? What do you love most about your job?
At the highest level, my job as a real estate professional is to help people buy and sell residential real estate. Having said that, the services I provide to my clients go much deeper.
Since I am emotionally invested in each and every one one of my clients to ensure they either purchase their dream home for the lowest price, or sell their current home for the highest value, I focus on not only delivering exceptional results but also providing a positive and memorable experience.
Throughout the buying process, I educate my clients about what to look for in terms of positives and negatives of a property. With sellers, I provide the highest quality media content available today, such that their home is showcased in the best way possible, to ensure I exceed their goals.
What I love most about my job is broken down into 3 components, namely buyers, sellers, and creativity.
With buyers, I love the feeling I get when I help someone find their dream home. I view it as being a matchmaker, and when they find that perfect match and truly feel at home, you know you’ve just made a positive impact on their life.
With sellers, I get a true sense of fulfillment not only when I help a client sell their home, but also when I see how excited they get once they see the quality of the photography, videography, and other marketing content that I do for their home. For many, they were completely unaware that work such as mine was even possible, so for them to get involved and enjoy the process, that is truly something special.
Lastly, this business allows me to leverage my creativity to create an experience like none other in the industry.
What is the single most difficult part of a real estate professional’s job?
I find that many real estate professionals often struggle with standing out. Here in Calgary we have approximately 5,500 real estate agents, most of whom market homes, and themselves, in the exact same way. For homes, most rely heavily on the MLS, and for themselves, bus benches seem to be the go-to.
Unfortunately, in the dynamic, social media based life we now live, those strategies are no longer sufficient for achieving the best results possible. For this reason, I have focused on building a strong presence on all social media platforms and leverage web-based advertising, in conjunction with high quality photography and videography, such that my content is up to modern standards.
Did you notice a preference for buying in the suburbs, and if so, what are the reasons for that?
I definitely notice a preference for buying in the suburbs. Due to the elevated prices in downtown Calgary real estate and primary communities, people are turning to the suburbs as it allows them to get a significantly nicer home while staying within their budget.
Additionally, due to the increased interest in the suburbs, the surrounding areas are beginning to develop to the point where even the suburbs offer many of the most desirable amenities and convenient access to major roads.
Have you spotted any trends in the Millennials’ attitudes towards home ownership? Are parents also involved in their home buying process?
One of the most noticeable trends that I have seen gain popularity recently for Millennials is that they are starting to focus more on smaller spaces with a nicer fit and finish, instead of overall size. You see many people opting for a considerable reduction in overall square footage, in return for higher quality design, including tile flooring, marble counters, stainless steel appliances, and other modern features.
In regards to parents becoming involved in the home buying process, that is certainly more prevalent after the new mortgage qualification rules were introduced. Due to the more stringent requirements for first time home buyers, parents are often times finding themselves having to step in and make a contribution to the initial down payment to make it feasible for the younger generation.
Are there any particular struggles that your clients complain about in the home buying process?
Although I haven’t heard such complaints from my clients, the main problem I’m aware of is seeing too many homes. There are cases where a Realtor will show someone upwards of 30 homes before making a decision. What happens here is the buyers get saturated with options and can’t clearly differentiate between one home and the next.
Personally, I believe this happens from a lack of due diligence, and not understanding what your client is looking for. I typically show buyers no more than 10 homes before making a purchase, and while this comes at the cost of more time and effort, the results speak volumes. It becomes evident that I have a thorough understanding of what my clients are looking for, and what would be the best fit for their budget, needs, wants, and lifestyle.
What criteria should home buyers consider when choosing their REALTOR©?
There are a number of things that home buyers should consider when choosing their REALTOR©, many of which I find buyers often don’t think of.
First and foremost, look for a REALTOR© whose image and service are a reflection of your personality, and the experience you are looking for. I frequently see people going with one of the first names they see on Google when they type in “Top Realtor in Calgary”, which sometimes is not all that it seems.
Just because someone has done a significant amount of transactions, that does not guarantee that they are going to truly give a buyer the guidance, support, education, and experience that they desire, as they are often “too busy” to provide that level of care.
I personally believe that buying a home should be an exciting, enjoyable experience, and is much more than just a large transaction, which is why it is crucial to go the extra mile with each and every client throughout the buying process.
It is important to work with someone who has exceptional communication skills, is honest, transparent, and is a strong negotiator to ensure they will push to get you the best outcome.
Additionally, I think it is beneficial for buyers to ask REALTORS© how many homes they plan to show them. The reason is that I have seen numerous cases where, as mentioned previously, they will show an unnecessary amount of homes, demonstrating that they may not take the time to get a deep understanding of the client and what would best suit them.
How should buyers prepare for the home buying process? Any tips you’d like to share?
There are a number of things I believe buyers need to do to be properly prepared for the home buying process. First and foremost is to be formally pre-qualified and pre-approved. I cannot stress the importance of this step enough, as it gives buyers an idea of what they will be able to get approved financing for. If you begin the home buying process, find the perfect home, and then realize you cannot get financing for it under the new Canadian mortgage rules, it can be very discouraging and stressful.
The next step would be to have a defined vision of what you are looking for, while also remaining open to new ideas. It is important to take a step back and consider the search criteria not only for the features of the home, but also location, local amenities, and overall community.
The reason I place such importance on the additional criteria is that ultimately, if you move into a beautiful home that is exactly what you had envisioned, but the community and neighborhood does not suit your lifestyle, you will not be happy. This is commonly overlooked, but is essential in helping someone buy the perfect home such that they will be happy for an extended period of time.
For this reason, it is also important to be open. There are times where buyers will be passionately firm about the exact community they want to live in, which greatly reduces the potential options, yet are not aware that there could be a neighboring community that would be a better fit for them.
Lastly, I always make a point of telling buyers at the time of the initial consultation to be both blunt and honest. For most, buying a home is the largest financial investment they will make in their life, so you need to be honest about each and every home you view.
If you walk into a home, and instantly it does not feel or look right, and you know it is not for you, do not bother spending time looking around, as you likely will not be happy with it. Communication and transparency are fundamental components between a REALTOR© and a buyer, so be sure to openly discuss your true feelings and thoughts about a home.
Mike Sherrard is the owner of Sherrard Real Estate with REMAX House of Real Estate in Calgary, Alberta. He is an exceptionally passionate REALTOR© who uses creative and innovative techniques to truly redefine the experience of buying and selling homes in Calgary. His unparalleled work ethic and deep rooted desire to exceed clients’ goals has enabled Mike to introduce many Calgarians to unexpected levels of quality. He has a strong presence on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
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