Strange Saskatchewan Diversions: U-Pick a….Cow?

Strange Saskatchewan Diversions: U-pick a Cow

Is it just me, or is this just a really strange idea?

Saskatchewan cattle farmer, Ivan Allin has launched a new business venture called U-Pick Steak Farm, which is supposed to address consumer concerns about the quality and safety of the food that they’re eating.

The Saskatoon Sun quotes Mr. Allin as saying, “The idea just came to me one day. You have the u-pick thing with strawberries and raspberries so I thought, ‘why not beef?’”

I’m still trying to figure out how that makes sense. I think most people are pretty well qualified to pick strawberries and raspberries, but I start to feel a little out of my comfort zone picking a cow, and I can’t imagine that I might feel any “safer” for doing so.

Mr. Allin suggests that this is a way for consumers to “come back to nature, watch the calves as they’re maturing and even pick one that they might want to have.”

Perhaps it’s the city boy in me but the last thing I want is a long term relationship with something I’m eventually going to eat.

You have to hand it to Saskatchewan people for their entrepreneurial spirit and who knows, maybe this turns out to be a big thing. Strange as I may think it is, at least Mr. Allin is willing to try something different and he has managed some free ink as a result. Best wishes for your success Mr. Allin. I hope you mooove a few head of cattle. 🙂

If the idea of picking your own cow turns your crank, you can reach the U-Pick Steak Farm at 306-946-2440.

Saskatoon and Saskatchewan show strong job growth over last year

Saskatoon and Saskatchewan Show Strong Job Growth Over Last Year

Saskatchewan was a bright spot in Statistics Canada’s latest national Labour Force Survey, showing record employment numbers with 493,400 jobs, an increase of 22,600 over the past year. Close to 9,500 of those jobs were created in retail and wholesale while construction, transportation and the resource sectors also posted impressive gains. The unemployment rate in Saskatchewan fell to 4.1%, the second lowest of all Canadian provinces, and well below the national rate of 6.2%

Saskatoon created 10,800 of those jobs over the past twelve months. 132,400 people are now working in Saskatoon. The local unemployment rate is just 3.4% down two full percentage points in the last year. Only Calgary and Victoria have lower unemployment rates.

More in the Regina Leader Post story.

Making the most of a market on fire: A Saskatoon home seller’s story

Saskatoon Home Buyers

You may have heard me chirp once, or even twice about a practice which is occurring all too often in this fast moving Saskatoon real estate market. I’m talking about MLS® listings which magically sell before they’re even submitted to the MLS® system. It seems that everyday there are several new listings which have been sold before most of the market is even aware that the homes are for sale. It frustrates the heck out of buyers who only want to have a chance to view a home and consider making an offer. It’s an out and out rip off for sellers who would like to sell their homes at the highest possible price.

I wanted to share an experience which I think clearly indicates how the market can work for both buyers and sellers when agents take their duty seriously and actually make an effort to provide a seller’s property with adequate exposure to a very hungry market.

I had listed an attractive property which would be considered to be in fairly high demand. Together, my seller and I arrived at a price taking into consideration both recent sales and other similar properties which were being offered for sale at the time. We completed a listing agreement on a Monday afternoon. Based on his motivation and the time frame in which he wanted to sell we agreed that the listing would be marketed as follows:

On Tuesday I would return to the home to take photographs. I would prepare a nice internet ad which I would post as soon as I completed it. I would follow that posting up with a mass email to more than 300 local real estate agents informing them that the property would be on the market the following day and that they were welcome to call to arrange an appointment to show the property to their buyer. On Wednesday morning, I would submit the listing to the MLS® system. That’s what I did. Here’s what happened.

  • 579 people viewed the listing on the Internet.
  • The listing was viewed 185 times on the Saskatoon MLS® system by other real estate agents.
  • 23 viewings occurred between 11:30 am and 7:30 pm on Wednesday.
  • I made or received 137 telephone calls through the course of that day, most of which were related to this listing.
  • Several buyers expressed interest and more than one agent attempted to pressure my seller into accepting an offer before other buyers could see the home.
  • My seller took my advice that it would be reasonable and fair to review offers later in the evening after the others had had a chance to see it and consider the home.
  • At 8:00 pm, I presented 12 offers to my seller. Not a single offer was for less than the asking price.
  • My seller accepted an offer which was well above the asking price, and a back-up offer which was almost as strong.

Happy seller, happy buyer, exhausted but very happy seller’s agent. 🙂

Now, it’s important to me that you understand that I don’t see myself as a hero in this story. It seems to me that this is what should be expected of me as the seller’s agent. After all, agency law demands that the agent protect and promote the client’s interests, and only the client’s interests.

Am I “the Donald” of Saskatoon real estate? Am I smarter than other Saskatoon real estate agents? No. This is not a terribly complicated strategy. I’ve used it and other similar strategies many, many times. Any agent who has negotiated more than a couple of dozen transactions knows that this approach or some variation of it would be effective for his or her client, especially in this market.

Delivering on your promises and actually doing what you’re being paid to do doesn’t make you special. It’s just the way that it should be, and that’s really all that I did.

Now, consider for a moment another approach that I might have taken, if I didn’t give damn about my client and I didn’t particularly care about the promise which is inherent in an agency relationship; to promote and protect the client’s interest. If that were the case, I could have slipped that listing into my briefcase where nobody but me would be able to see it. Then, I could have gotten on the phone and called the most motivated buyer who has contacted me expressing an interest in such properties. I could have quietly arranged a showing. That buyer likely would have made an offer which probably would have been decent, perhaps just a little lower than the list price. My seller, reasonable guy that he is probably would have accepted it. I would have pocketed a full commission.

Most likely, I would have had a happy seller and a happy buyer. My seller may have even patted me on the back for getting the job done so quickly and effectively. Sometimes, through the smoke and mirrors you just don’t know that you’ve been screwed.

One thing would have been very different though, had I decided to go that way. I would have felt like a failure as an agent, unworthy of the trust and confidence that this client placed in me. I would have known that I could have done more for him, had I not been so interested in helping myself.

Do you have a home to sell? Make sure your agent understands that you expect him or her to be working for you, protecting and promoting your interests. There are many very professional agents working in this market who wouldn’t think of pulling such stunts. You just need to be sure that you’re working with one of them. You deserve no less.

Ask questions and hold your agent accountable. It’s really that simple.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

CMHC's 2007 Housing Market Outlook misses mark for Saskatchewan

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Canada’s national housing agency has just released its “First Quarter Housing Market Outlook” forecasting what will happen in real estate markets across the country through 2007.

In an article titled, “Soft Landing for Housing Starts in 2007 and 2008,” CMHC predicts that housing starts will moderate in 2007, dropping to 209,500 from 227,395 units in 2006.

I read almost every report that CMHC releases and I’m not sure why, but most of them make me nuts! Perhaps it’s because they’re always wrong! Alright, I’m being a bit of a jackass here. They’re not always wrong, but they often fail to recognize what’s really happening in a market area.

I know as well as anybody how hard it is to predict the future and I have to come clean and admit that I have fallen flat on my face, at least once. J At the close of 2005, I predicted the following year would see a marginal drop in resale units, and more moderate price increases, “likely in the range of 4-5%.” In fact, resale unit sales increased 7% and prices went up close to 11%. My bad. What I didn’t see coming was a significant improvement in net migration. So, with that out of the way, here’s what CMHC has to say about housing starts in Saskatchewan for 2007 and 2008.

“In Saskatchewan, the improving net migration as well as the strong job market and robust income growth bode well for housing demand. Total housing starts are forecast to decline slightly from 3,715 units in 2006 to 3,600 units in both 2007 and 2008.”

Huh? Anybody else confused?

I can only say that I hope CMHC has missed the mark this time. The City of Saskatoon recently announced that they will attempt to prepare 2,192 lots for construction in 2007. There are hundreds of lots ready for homes in Martensville, Warman, Clavet and other communities. I’m hoping we’ll see close to 2,300 to 2,500 starts within 50 kilometers of Saskatoon.

2007 has the potential to be a great year for Saskatchewan but we must have homes to put people in. Here’s a comment I received the other day on another post .

“Hi, I have been looking on MLS for a suitable property for myself and my family in the Saskatoon area, there is a definite shortage of property and almost none that would be large enough for us. We were hoping to move to Saskatoon from the United Kingdom in the summer of 2007, but because of the shortage of suitable property we may be forced to look at another province entirely. This is such a shame as I know that Saskatchewan is trying to encourage people in at the moment.”

You’re right Lynn; this is such a shame.

There are 237 active resale listings on the Saskatoon MLS® system today. Half of those likely have sales pending on them. You almost can’t buy a house in this city if you wanted to. If I were a home builder I’d have no problem building spec homes as fast as I could find the manpower and the money to put them up.

Housing starts are not going to decline in Saskatchewan in 2007. I’ll meet you back here in early January for a review.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Forbes list of Canada’s most expensive homes

Forbe's List of Canada's Most Expensive Homes

Forbes recently released their list of Canada’s Most Expensive Homes. As far as I know, this is the first time that Forbes has compiled a list of prestigious Canadian homes, so we’ll take it as a positive sign for real estate in the Great White North.

The list consists of 10 properties, currently offered for sale which range from a low of $10.9 million to a high of $38.3 million US. Seven of the homes are located in British Columbia and three are in Ontario. That’s right, not a single Saskatchewan home made the grade. L It must be the weather.

You might look at this list and think, “wow, I can’t believe people actually spend this much money on a home” but I was impressed by how affordable a high end Canadian home really is (not for me of courseJ). I recently wrote a post on the most expensive homes in the US.

Number one came in at $135,000,000. In reviewing the Canadian list, I found that you could actually purchase 9 of the 10 most expensive homes in Canada for less money than the home which tops the list in the US. Cheap!!

Read the Forbes story here