What ten years of blogging Saskatoon real estate has taught me

It’s been ten years today since I wrote the first post on the TeamFisher real estate blog. Since that time, we’ve published 1280 times and moderated 15,911 comments from readers.

I’ve learned a lot from the experience. Here are a few of my takeaways.

1) Aaron Levenstein was quoted as saying, “Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” While impossible to do on a weekly basis, I’ve done my best to provide as deep a look at the stats as I can from time to time.

2) It’s difficult to call the market. As we came out of 2006, major Saskatoon brokerages were predicting price gains of three to five percent for 2007. Prices nearly doubled. Across the years, a couple of booms and more busts that I could count on two hands have been predicted. While we’ve had our ups and downs most of those bumps have been fairly unremarkable, at least when they’re viewed over a few years time.

3) Hard work and consistency do pay off. Having written an average of 2.5 posts per week for ten years with no major failings I like to suggest that I am probably the most consistent real estate broker-blogger in the world. I’m sure you can appreciate that I don’t always feel like contributing a portion of my weekend to the “week in review.” It’s hard work keeping it up. A local talk show host once suggested that a real estate blog on a REALTORS® site is “a bit of a mistake” and suggested I should take it down. I’m glad I didn’t. It took hours and hours and hours of work with no payoff in sight but blogging turned out to be the best decision that I even made professionally.

Exchanging thoughts and doing business with you over the years has been a great honour and a privilege. Thank you so much for reading.

Here’s how the market has changed from our first post until now.


Where did home buyers first learn of the home they actually bought last year?

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) undertakes a massive study each year soliciting feedback from people who have recently purchased a home. One of the more interesting bits of information that comes NAR’s 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is generated by the question, “Where did you find the home that you purchased?”

Here’s how that looks.

This is the kind of information that we find invaluable in helping us craft an effective marketing plan for those who hire us to sell their home.

The data raises what I think is an interesting question. Why would any agent spend any amount of time or money advertising a listing in the newspaper, or in a homes magazine? In my opinion, they do it out of ignorance or as a smoke and mirrors effort to convince a seller that something is being done to market the listing. In fact, every dollar spent in a newspaper will go further and produce better results online. The agent just needs to know how and where to invest those dollars.

Many things about this business have changed over the past ten years, but one thing remains constant. It’s still about marketing and exposing homes to the largest number of potential prospects. Knowing where those prospects are looking and developing a marketing plan that reaches them in those places is the best way to find success for home sellers who want to sell their homes faster, and for more money.

Get the most current market intelligence with our FREE Market Snapshot including prices of homes recently sold in your area. Get it here, now.

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.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Overheard: "I get more litigation work from private deals gone wrong…"

A brief twitter discussion that I picked up on this morning follows. The tweets that are repeated have a direct reply attached to them.


Brad raises an interesting point.

Digging a bit deeper, name one thing for me that you didn’t become better at with practice and experience. I can’t think of anything. At least anything that matters much.

I reflect back to my very first job. I washed dishes at Bonanza Steak House before I was out of school. I’ll never forget those busy dinner rushes and how the dishes would pile up behind me as I struggled to catch up. During my first few shifts buckets of dishes flowed off of the on-ramp and down the hallway. It was hot, messy and fast paced. It took some time to get a system down and to reach a point where I could push those dishes through as fast as the bus boys could carry them in. I eventually became a pretty good dishwasher but it wasn’t automatic.

Anyone can wash dishes but the guy who has been around awhile will do it faster, better and in a more cost-effective manner than the new man on the line.

The same thing applies to selling houses and everything else for that matter. Anyone can do it. The question is, how well can they do it and at what cost?

If you’re the least bit concerned about trading what’s likely your most valuable asset on your own, we’d like to talk to you and provide a complimentary consultation to explain precisely how we’ll help you meet your goals at a reasonable cost with as few inconveniences as possible. All of my contact info is here.

For our fee, we’ll utilize the experience we’ve gained through hundreds of real estate sales to ensure that your home is well presented to the largest number of buyers we can reach with the objective of generating stronger offers for you.

At the same time, we’ll give you our best advice on dealing with buyers, agents, offers, counter-offers, amendments, contract terms, conditions, deposits, adjustments, representations, warranties, disclosures, inspectors and inspections, appraisals and appraisers, municipal compliance issues, costs, mortgages, closings and disbursements with the objective of moving you through this experience with less stress and worry.

Most importantly, we’ll put our expertise to work to keep you out of court.

If you decide to go it alone I won’t hold it against you but allow me to recommend a good lawyer just in case. Brad Jamieson has a lot of experience litigating on behalf of private real estate traders. I would expect he’s gotten very good at it.

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.

Get the most current market intelligence with our FREE Market Snapshot including prices of homes recently sold in your area. Get it here, now.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Beware: Your open house may be more than just a marketing opportunity

Some agents swear by open houses. Some swear at the thought of hosting them.

Love them or hate them, any opportunity to expose your home to buyers should be taken seriously. Even if they don’t do you much good, they can’t hurt. Can they?

They can hurt if you’re a victim of theft and make no mistake, incidents of theft do occur at open houses, even here in Saskatoon. According to a bulletin issued by the Saskatoon Region Association of Realtors® yesterday, one unfortunate Saskatoon home seller came up short after their weekend open house when about $800 worth of personal effects walked out the door with a “prospective buyer.”

If you’re having an open house, understand that’s it’s not going to be possible for your Realtor® host to be everywhere at once. If there’s more then one prospect in the house, someone is going to be unattended. Your would-be thief may even arrive as two adorable looking couples. One of them engages your agent with lots of questions of interest while the other explores the home. Texting technology would make it very simple for one to cover the other. “He’s coming your way now!”

As is so often the case, the best defense is a solid offense. Prior to your open house, ensure that all valuables that could be easily slipped into a pocket or under a coat are securely stored or removed from the home. The odds of someone walking off with your 60-inch television or your dining room table are pretty slim. The most popular items are for thieves are cash, jewellery, prescription drugs, liquor, entertainment media, firearms, collectibles and small electronics.

When that’s all done, check these tips for a successful open house.

Best wishes.

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

Get the most current market intelligence with our FREE Market Snapshot including prices of homes recently sold in your area. Get it here, now.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Home Staging – How to Give a Five-Star Showing

Please welcome guest contributor to TeamFisher.com, Rachel Vanderveen, a Calgary real estate blogger and home stager who is writing an eight-part series of home staging advice for our blog. This is the final post in that series. Rachel’s previous home staging posts can be found here.

So the table is set, the carpet is vacuumed, and the house is sparkling and geared toward all of your newly installed focal points. Your listing contract is signed and your Saskatoon real estate agent has told you that you’re going live tonight and to be prepared for your first showings!

How do we make your listing stand out? We’ve done all the groundwork, but now the curtain is going to be lifted and the audience will soon be in your home to view the stage you have set. So, much of giving a five-star showing is about creating a mood, and that’s what we’re going to talk about here today.

Let’s start with lights. For every showing we have, I want every single thing in your house that makes light to be turned on, and I mean everything:  every lamp, pot light, puck light, art-feature light, even the work light on the hood fan. (No, not the interior oven light. I had someone ask me that once, so I figured I better clarify). I want those lights up and running, even if your showing is happening at 9 am. This means that if you’re going to be at work all day, you need to switch them all on before you leave. I know, I know, Al Gore would read this and cringe, but you’ll see the benefits of it in the purchase price of your home. Maybe you can use the surplus to buy some carbon credits.

Why is light so important? Because people who are looking to buy Saskatoon real estate love natural light. Light is something that you can’t often change. A house is either well-lit, or it’s not, and if it’s not, it’s often difficult to renovate in. Having all of your home lights on—especially in the middle of the day—gives the impression that there is bountiful light in the home, and therefore adds perceived value.

Next, music. I like to make sure that every time there is a showing happening you have music playing in the home. The best source is often using the music stations on your digital cable because you can choose by genre, it’s never-ending, and it’s often non-descript. You also don’t have announcers coming in and out. I don’t like local radio stations as they can be a little too in-your-face and a little too personal, when we are aiming for neutral. Buying a CD and playing it on repeat can often work. But music selection is paramount. I like instrumentals the best. Stay away from things with vocals. The type of music you choose really depends on what you’re trying to sell. If you’re selling a renovated townhouse in Saskatoon’s more trendy areas, go for some instrumental light jazz. If you’re selling a luxury home in an older more established area go for light classical. If you have a house that overlooks water, find one of those CDs that have flutes playing with ocean noises in the back. It’s all about creating the mood. The music should be loud enough so you can hear it, but not so loud that you couldn’t have a comfortable conversation if you were standing right near it.  You may want to consider playing music on every level, but try to play from the same source. If there are different songs playing everywhere you’re going to have the feeling of confusion in areas where you can hear it all playing.

Finally, there is etiquette. You never want your Saskatoon real estate shopper to feel rushed. For that reason, if you get a call from your Realtor to book a showing from 3-4. You should be totally gone from the house from 2:45-4:15. This gives your buyers all the time they need to be able to show up and explore. No, you may not stay home for any showing. No, you may not wait in the garage, backyard, shed or whatever wild idea you come up with. You and your family must be totally gone from the property. Otherwise you have totally spoiled your scene.

In addition, the only acceptable excuse for declining a showing that your Realtor requests is the following: you or an immediate family member is dead or dying. No other excuse is acceptable. If you want to sell your home, you’ve got to be serious about it. If you decline a showing, you’re giving the message that you don’t really care if you sell or not, and that does not inspire people to write offers. Additionally, nine times out of ten, if the buyer’s agent can’t book a showing on the first try, they won’t attempt to rebook, and you may have just lost an offer or a multiple offer.

You’re at the end of the road here. Reaching this point in the process of selling your home means you’ve done most of your work already! Now all you have to do is maintain that sparkle in your home, and trust your Realtor to bring an offer. So kick up your feet and relax! You’ve staged your home to sell!

Until Next Time…


Rachel Vanderveen is a Calgary Christian Realtor specializing in Calgary condos for sale, South Calgary Real Estate, Calgary home staging , McKenzie Towne Real Estate, and Auburn Bay Real Estate.  But more importantly, she is a mother to four adorable children, a lover of Auburn Bay Realty, and an avid writer of Calgary Real Estate blogs. For more information on Calgary mls.ca, or searching mlslistings.ca, visit her website here.