You can see your credit report for free, it’s the law in Saskatchewan

Knowing what’s inside your credit report is more than just a good idea, it’s an essential part of any prudent financial plan. Saskatchewan law provides consumers with the opportunity to see their personal credit reports for free.

Understanding what’s in your credit report and how it can affect you when applying for a mortgage is a must. Making these inquiries in advance can help you get through the home buying process smoothly and without surprises that could derail your move. However, there are other good reasons why we should all be familiar with the information that credit bureaus collect and store on our credit history.

Identify theft continues to be a problem across the country. Thieves are racking up massive debts, using the good names and credit of their victims and leaving behind a financial mess that’s difficult to clean up.Keeping on top of your credit report will help you find out if someone is using your credit, hopefully before the creditors come knocking on your door, attempting to collect the debts that have accumulated in your name.

There may be another good reason to be mindful of your credit report. It seems that a number of employers in the U.S. are beginning to request credit reports from prospective employees. I’m not completely sure why they feel this is justified. I suspect that they would argue that a person’s credit worthiness speaks to that individual’s sense of responsibility, and perhaps their character. After all, the granting of credit is always based on the promise to repay. I don’t know if we’ll ever see this practice used here, but I see nothing in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code that would prevent it.

Our province has a Credit Reporting Act which governs the types of information that credit reporting agencies can keep on you, and how long it can be kept for. The federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act states that you have a right to know what information credit reporting agencies have about you in their files.

There are two major credit reporting agencies which operate in Canada. They are Equifax and Trans Union. Both of them will have information in their files concerning your credit history. If you need to have the report today, both services offer an over the web credit report for a fee. They also offer a free credit report which is sent to you in the mail. It is your right to obtain a free copy of your credit report each year but you must request that it be sent to you. The links below will take you right to the page of each agencies website where you can download the forms that you’ll use to make that request. Why not get started on this today?

Equifax credit report

Trans Union credit report

Publication titled, “Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score” published by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

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

This post was originally published November 26, 2006 and has been updated to include current links.

Prospective renters should beware of online scams for rental homes

You’re browsing online classified ad sites looking for a place to rent, when suddenly, one of those offers that seems too good to be true sits before you. In all likelihood, it’s not true.

This ongoing scam usually targets houses that are legitimately for sale. Online fraudsters grab details of the home from an Internet posting and advertise the home for rent, typically requesting a very reasonable deposit and a pretty attractive monthly rent. The “owner” will almost certainly be out of the country right now, or otherwise unavailable to show you the home in person and will suggest that you “just drive by and have a look from the outside.”

When you see what an amazing deal it is, you quickly agree to his/her terms and forward the requested deposit, which of course, you never see again.

Don’t “rent” a property that you can’t get access to. If you view a home and want to rent it, don’t be afraid to ask the person showing you the property for some form of identification. If they won’t provide it, be suspicious. Never do this kind of a deal online.

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.

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Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Is your real estate agent about to sell you out?

The Multiple Listing Service® is a system that real estate brokerages use to share information with each other about properties that are for sale. It provides us with opportunities to quickly share details about our listings with all local agents who participate and it also provides us with a large inventory of homes that we can introduce our buyer clients to.

One of the characteristics of an MLS® listing is an “offer of compensation.” The listing brokerage agrees to share the negotiated commission with any other brokerage that might bring a buyer who agrees to purchase the property. That offer of compensation is published with the listing data on the member based MLS® system.  In most cases, the compensation offered gets lower as the price of the home goes up. Most commonly, we’ll see something like what you see below.

3% on the first $100,000, 2% on the second $100,000 and 1% on the balance of the sale price.

Recently, I noticed an MLS listing priced at $399,900 with the following compensation offer.

0% on the first $350,000, 25% on the next $50,000 and 3% on the balance of the sale price.

If you were about to make an offer on this house would you want to know that your agent could be earning nearly two times the commission available on most listings in this price range? Would you want to know that your agent would earn an extra $250 for every additional $1,000 you agreed to pay?

Should you be entitled to full disclosure on this extraordinary and unusual compensation offer?

I think most buyers would want to know and I’m also of the opinion that they’d be entitled to know. Don’t be afraid to ask your buyer’s agent how he or she is paid and instruct them to advise you if you’re about to make an offer on a property that has any selling incentives or extraordinary compensation offers available on it. Better yet, understand that you’re really paying the fee and agree up front on how much it will be.

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.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @norm_fisher.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS listings represented by all real estate brands, presented with more detail than you’ll find anywhere else. Check it out here.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Bank of Montreal loses millions to sophisticated mortgage scam: CBC

According to the CBC, the Bank of Montreal is suing hundreds of people in Alberta, including lawyers, mortgage brokers and four of its own employees, in what is one of the largest alleged cases of mortgage fraud in Canadian history.

Legal documents obtained exclusively by CBC News allege the bank was the target of a sophisticated fraud operated by 14 inter-connected groups. The documents allege the scheme generated at least $140 million, about $70 million of which was for phoney mortgages.

Read more here.

Update: BMO’s fraud claims won’t be probed (Police decline on criminal investigation).

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