Archive for the 'Real Estate Sales' Category

September 12, 2016

image-1-smWe think it’s pretty universal; there is one question, the main question, that every single homeowner would love the answer to: what is the value of their home? The answer to this question could literally be the determining factor in the homeowners’ decision to sell or stay in their home. This is especially true in super-hot urban markets like Vancouver and Toronto, their suburbs and even beyond – many homeowners have no idea what their home is really worth.

Look at Solange Bedoya for example, the matriarch of a family that moved to Barrie from bustling Toronto a few years ago. Her family’s main reason for buying in Barrie: affordability. Even when looking at increased transportation costs, the sheer cost of a home in Toronto when compared to Barrie made the decision a no-brainer. A mere 1½ hour Go Train ride or 1-hour commute in a vehicle means that many families are deciding to move outside even the immediate GTA suburbs to areas outside the city, which is resulting in home prices being pushed up in those areas.

Solange was recently approached by a real estate agent who asked her one simple question: would you like to know what your house is worth? Of course the answer was yes. Solange was stunned to learn that, in 3 short years, her property had increased in value by over $100,000. The most interesting thing about this interaction was that prior to Solange meeting that real estate sales professional, the thought of selling her home had not even occurred to her. After this interaction, it became a matter for consideration or at least a discussion with her husband.

Being able to tell clients what their home is worth is one talent that you have that you can leverage as a powerful marketing tool to attract new business – even cold business. Solange’s story shows us that this real estate sales professional, who was going door to door talking to owners about their home values, established new relationships that could potentially lead to future clients.

When the real estate professional was leaving, Solange said she didn’t hesitate to provide her contact information to the real estate sales professional who visited her and actually felt quite grateful for the insights she gleaned from the experience.

Targeting areas to market that have seen significant appreciation in value, quickly, are easier to identify than ever before. The very same tools that you use to research properties can also be used to target areas of interest. It’s always a good idea to have a tablet so that when out on the road, if you meet a client interested in talking to you about a potential sale price of their home, you can fire up your tools, like GeoWarehouse, and quickly access and provide the information needed to lead the conversation further.

With GeoWarehouse on your side, you can make endeavors such as this easier, and can take advantage of the possibilities hot markets present. Find out more by visiting today.

May 9, 2016

geo1So you just landed a new listing and it is time to open the file. So much to do and so little time. From due diligence, to creating, to promoting your new real estate listings – the more efficient you are, the more profitable you’ll be and the better service you’ll be able to provide to your clients.

Every real estate sales professional has their own real estate listings roadmap. When it comes to using GeoWarehouse when preparing your real estate listing there are a few searches we wanted to highlight that you may know are already in your arsenal.

1. Verify who is on title and the financial standing of the property. Anytime you take on a new listing it is critical to ensure that you are dealing with the legal homeowner(s) and that property title is clear of liens or financial issues. The most current source of this information can be found in a Parcel Register*. This is the electronic document that includes current ownership, transfer history, registered mortgages and liens. If you want to know this information as of the date you engage a new client this search is the best way to do it.

2. Review the insurance claims history on the property and in the neighbourhood. This is huge because you are representing the seller in their listing and obtaining a HomeVerified Report is the best way to know the insurance claims history of the property and in the neighbourhood. Not only do you want to know if there is anything your client should be disclosing but in the event nothing surfaces, this is a sell feature. Home inspectors use these reports to learn of possible issues they can’t see and you should be doing the same.

3. If a condo, get a condo status certificate – yes the giant document that tells you everything there is to know about the condo and condo corporation, including the financial status. The beauty of technology is that these are available online in GeoWarehouse so requesting one when you take on a new listing will mean that it will be ready when an offer is presented.

Taking these steps protects you and your clients. You are protected because you have performed comprehensive due diligence and your client is protected because you may uncover something the client wasn’t even aware of. Depending on how long your client has owned their home, they may have no idea that there have been repeated flood claims on the property simply because nothing has occurred while they have lived there. If it is something they were aware of, you are protected.

This also works towards uncovering potential financial issues and issues with title that could interfere with the deal closing. Again, more things the client may not be aware of like liens, a higher than anticipated mortgage, or even a questionable past use of the property.

Including these real estate searches in your real estate listings road map will mean that you have dotted all of your I’s and crossed your T’s.

GeoWarehouse makes it easy. Find out more at




geo1The grand debate – whose responsibility is what? On most real estate transactions there is a real estate sales professional, a mortgage agent/broker, a lender and a real estate lawyer. Each individual has distinct roles but there is some overlap in each.

A property title search is a classic example of this overlap.

Before we can explore this we first need to clear up what people mean when they say “title search”. A title search is in fact the function that the lawyer performs on closing that includes looking at the property’s transfer history, registrations, tax status, water status, survey and more… Lenders often require title insurance to protect the client from short comings in this regard as a result of a lawyer missing something.

When you hear mortgage agents, real estate professionals and even banks referring to a title search they often are referring to the Parcel Register*.

The Parcel Register* is an aspect of the title search that used to be most often performed by lawyers but in recent years have started being requested at earlier stages in a real estate deal by the real estate sales professional, mortgage agent or lender.

Why? Because the Parcel Register* reveals, as of the date of the search, who the legal homeowners are, the legal description of the property, the property identification number of the property, type of ownership, percentage of ownership, dates, registration numbers and amounts of registered encumbrances like liens, charges (mortgages), transfers and more…

The debate comes in because there is a cost associated to requesting a Parcel Register* and so whose responsibility is it to request one? Really it is not a question of responsibility – it’s a question of doing the best job for your client and due diligence to protect yourself by not wasting time on bad deals. A real estate sales professional should be looking at a Parcel Register* as part of their workflow while the lawyer should as their responsibility.

The Parcel Register* will let you know immediately if you are dealing with the legal homeowner and also if there is enough home equity in the property to pay you – whether it is their home or a home being purchased.

Obtaining a Parcel Register* shouldn’t be viewed as a hassle or someone else’s job when it is in fact an opportunity that only stands to benefit you.

The upside here is that Parcel Registers* are easy to obtain online if you’re a GeoWarehouse customer – just add this to your regular due diligence process and you’re off to the races!

Not a GeoWarehouse customer? What are you waiting for? Visit today to find out more about all the great tools waiting for you.

*An official product of the Ontario government pursuant to provincial land registration statutes.


November 25, 2015

geo2Sometimes basic due diligence can uncover things on a real estate deal that would otherwise open a can of worms and trigger a chain of actions that can become a major pain! Unfortunately, in real estate, from people who don’t accurately recount their information to out and out fraudsters, due diligence is one vital activity that is the burden of every real estate sales professionals.

Most real estate sales professionals, at the very least, when taking on a new listing will perform a property search to validate that their client is the legal homeowner. Now, some real estate sales professionals will go a step further to validate that the mortgages registered against a property match what the client disclosed at the time of engagement.

One very common thing that can come up on a new listing is an undisclosed mortgage or lien on the property being listed and depending on the amount borrowed/owed it could consume some or all of the property’s equity – in the worst circumstances, not even leaving anything left to pay commissions and closing costs.

Your due diligence may begin with a basic property search that could generate information that leads you to want to do some more digging. The next step in the evolution of due diligence in this regard would be to look at a Parcel Register*.

A Parcel Register* is going to tell you the legal owners and type of ownership, legal description, registered encumbrances – not exclusive to mortgages, these could be liens, easements and other types of registrations.

Should something solid be revealed on a Parcel Register* you can now go back to your client and question them. Perhaps there is a lien registered and they have the money to pay off the lien – but don’t have the contact information for the registrant.

The next step in the evolution of due diligence is to look at the Instrument Image associated to the registered lien in question. This will provide you with the registrant’s complete information including how to contact the registrant or their legal representative.

Next you may want to have a look at the sales history – particularly the amounts of transactions and who the buyers and sellers were.

Taking the basic measures above will ensure that you are spending your time working on good quality deals that have a high probability of closing which in the end makes you more profitable!

GeoWarehouse has the tools for both basic and more in depth due diligence. Ensure that you are covered – protect your own assets. Visit today.

* An official product of the Ontario government pursuant to provincial land registration statutes.


November 18, 2015

geo1Mortgage agents and brokers in Ontario heavily rely on the Equifax Credit Report to assess the credit worthiness and serviceability of an applicant. Really, if you think about this, a real estate sales professional could put together, based on the tools that they have in front of them, a veritable credit report that considers the client and the property being purchased and sold.

Let’s look at your average real estate transaction and its components – this is after the client has been landed – you are going to want to know the same things across the board about your client and property – negative attributes may prevent you from working with the client, positive ones let you know that you have a good, clean deal.

The property:

  • What is the sales history on the property – both transfer amounts but also transferees?
  • What is the legal description of the property?
  • What are the comparable sales in the area?
  • What things in the area are potential benefits or concerns?
  • If it is a condo – is the financial standing of the condo corporation good?

The customer:

  • Is your client currently the legal owner of a property?
  • Does your client have enough equity in a property being sold to finance the closing costs?
  • Does your client have enough equity in a property to finance the down payment of a subsequent purchase?
  • Does your client have multiple mortgages or liens against the property – this could be a sign that your client has financial problems?

These questions and more can be answered by performing a property search in a tool like GeoWarehouse which will enable you to validate who owns a property, its history, value, financial standing and more.

Creating your own form of credit check for your clients helps you identify potential challenges early on in the process of engaging a new client. You are the first in a series of professionals who will be called upon to work on the transaction you have originated – mortgage agents and brokers, lenders, appraisers, property inspectors, stagers, real estate lawyers, title insurance companies, property insurance companies – even the municipality.

Doing your part to vet the client not only saves you time and expense but also saves all the other professionals that will become a part of the transaction time too! This is not to mention that the due diligence measures outlined above also go a long way to cut down fraud in the mortgage industry.

GeoWarehouse can help you conduct this credit check – visit today.



geo2What do the words neighbourhood demographics mean to you? Pretty much everything you want to know about who lives in a particular neighbourhood and the composition of their families. How is this useful? A number of different way. For example, neighbourhood demographics can help you tell investors where there is high rental potential in a particular neighbourhood or perhaps highlight an area that a family starting out may not want to live.

So what demographics are really relevant and how can they be leveraged? When looking at neighbourhood demographics there are 4 key areas that you may want to hone in on.

  1. Population – this deals with family composition. Naturally people want to live in neighbourhoods where other families similar to theirs live. You can’t tell by looking at the outside of a home how many people in the neighbourhood are married, single, have children or don’t, age distribution, etc… Perhaps seniors that are downsizing would like to live in a quiet community that has a higher population of older residents. On the marketing side, looking at trends in the population can enable you to adjust your messaging to hone in on niche markets in the area you serve.
  1. Households – this deals with the types of properties in the area and how they are being used. You want to be able to know percentages of owned vs rented properties for both investors and families who may not want to live in neighbourhoods that have a high % of renters. Average sizes and ages of homes in the area are also very relevant demographics that you want to know and be able to discuss with your clients. You can also use this information to identify shifts in neighbourhoods and what it could potentially mean to you later if you cater to a particular market but the face of the community you are working in is changing.
  1. Socio Economic – Back on the theme that people want to live in communities that have other people like them – many buyers would probably like to know things like the education levels in a community. The type of worker – white collar vs blue collar, dominant professions etc… Socio economics also play a huge roll in marketing. The needs of a family can change depending on income levels, likes and education. Targeted marketing works better. Again, knowing the people in the community you are marketing in enables you to come up with marketing initiatives that connect with prospects.
  1. Cultural – Cultural demographics are important not just for your clients but also to you in terms of your marketing efforts. Cultural demographics highlight ethnicities, religions and dominant languages of people who live in a community. From the perspective of your marketing – identifying neighbourhoods that have common cultural demographics can enable you to look at marketing in ethnic magazines or even in other languages.

Knowing the demographics of the neighbourhoods you serve, for obvious reasons, makes you more knowledgeable and able to offer a higher level of service – and it also makes you more agile because you can diversify your marketing and even messaging according to the communities you are marketing in.

If you would like information about a tool that helps you access all of the above neighbourhood demographics information and more please visit



September 9, 2015

geoSome think that the role of a real estate sales professional is merely to represent buyers and sellers buying homes. However, one very important aspect of this role is the financial aspect which is one that extends beyond helping a buyer find a home and negotiating the process or listing a client’s home.

The financial aspect of real estate transactions can actually be sorted into 3 baskets:

  1. Your client’s ability to pay you
  2. Your client’s ability to obtain mortgage financing
  3. Your client’s ability to afford to carry the property that they want to buy

Aside from a client’s ability to pay you, the other 2 buckets sound somewhat like the activities of a mortgage agent or broker. Some real estate sales professionals will simply recommend that a client go to their bank or make a referral to a mortgage broker to secure mortgage financing. Doing so leaves you dependent on a third party to make your deals happen!

Over time and using technology, you likely have become more empowered as far as validating your clients’ financial ability to purchase a home and pay you – this is especially important when clients are not as honest as they could be – or when they forget information which is important.

Having provisions in your workflow that address the customer financial profile makes you more competitive because you will close more deals and not waste time on deals where clients can’t pay you or qualify for mortgage financing.

How review your client’s financial profile in 1-2-3

  1. Your client’s ability to pay you. This boils down to the equity in your client’s home if they are selling or the equity in the seller’s home if you are representing the buyer. In this regard you will need to review any financial encumbrances against the property that the commission will stem from. Using a tool like GeoWarehouse, you can run a property search and reveal registered mortgages and determine if in fact the equity is there. If you are concerned that there could be a lien you can go a step further and request a Parcel Register* which will give you even more information.
  2. Your client’s ability to secure mortgage financing. The same search of the registered mortgages on the property should give you some insight into whether or not the client will be able to get a mortgage – now this is at a very high level because most mortgages will also depend on the client’s credit and income – but – 1) If the client has 2 or 3 mortgages, that is a sign that the client could have financial problems, 2) If the client’s first or second mortgage is with a private individual it is a sign that the client couldn’t obtain institutional financing at some point which means there could be credit issues, 3) Equity – if the client has substantial equity it will not be difficult for the client to find financing regardless of poor credit.
  3. Your client’s ability to afford to carry to house they want to buy. For this we recommend that you have a mortgage calculator on your smartphone so that you can swiftly calculate mortgage payments for the client and then add them to estimates of utility costs and other expenses to give them an idea of a property’s carrying cost. Consider an app that offers a mortgage calculator that also tells you the bank’s daily mortgage rates – RateHub is a good example of a website that has lots of tools for calculating mortgage payments.

Real estate sales professional or mortgage broker – while some of you are both, at least having a basic process for assessing the financial aspects of the real estate transaction will make you more competitive and close more deals.

GeoWarehouse gives you the ability to do more – making your job that much easier and stopping questionable deals before they become issues. For more information, please visit

* An official product of the Ontario government pursuant to provincial land registration statutes.





Instrument Images and You

Author: GeoWarehouse
September 1, 2015

geoWhen you hear the words Instrument Images – do they mean anything to you? Why would Instrument Images be important if you don’t know what they are or how you could be using them? That is the very purpose of the blog you are about to dive into.

As a real estate sales professional you likely use one tool or another to run searches to verify legal home ownership information all the time. The place to get the most current, up-to-date home ownership information is through the Parcel Register*. While some think a Parcel Register* is a title search, it is actually just one part of a title search.

The Parcel Register* not only provides the home ownership information as it relates to the property but also a history of transfers, discharges and registered encumbrances. Each item will have a registration number which can then be used to pull an Instrument Image – an image of the actual document registered and associated to the transfer, registration or discharge.

To use an analogy, the Parcel Register is like popping the hood of a car but the instrument image is like putting the car up on the hoist!

The Parcel Register will show you the date, registration number, registrant (just name) and amount.

The Instrument Image will show you the registrant’s complete information as well as the lawyer who registered the registrant’s complete information and other details that would appear on the relevant document, whether it is a mortgage charge, mortgage discharge or mortgage transfer.

Not every situation will call for such in-depth research as requesting an Instrument Image – but some will, and having it will give you that much more knowledge and, after all, knowledge is power, right?

If you don’t know how to get Instrument Images already, here is a quick video:



Not a GeoWarehouse customer? Find out why you should be by visiting

*An official product of the Ontario government pursuant to provincial land registration statutes.

August 26, 2015

geoPreventing real estate fraud is a major challenge that most real estate sales professionals, and even lenders for that matter, encounter. Real estate fraud presents itself in many forms – some more common than others.

Title fraud: Though this doesn’t happen often, it is a costly form of fraud that one hopes they are protected against with their title insurance. As a real estate sales professional, do you want to be associated with the origination where title fraud is present on a deal? Absolutely not. The best ways to combat title fraud are to meet the borrowers, request identification, independently verify who is on title to the home and ask them questions about the home, sales history, even things in the area that may help you identify if something seems a bit off!

Value fraud: in a recent publication, the Law Society of BC had an excellent example of this type of fraud that we thought it would be prudent to share.

“Value fraud in this situation, back-to-back purchases of the same property are arranged from a legitimate vendor. The first purchase is for the arranged sale price — say $300,000. Then a subsequent (fraudulent) deal (from one fraudster to another) is arranged (i.e., a “flip”) for $400,000. Both purchases are set to close on the same day. The fraudster arranges for a high-ratio mortgage on the basis of the second deal. The high-ratio mortgage funds are used to close the real estate deals, since the amount of the mortgage (95% of $400,000 = $380,000) is enough to cover the deals. The fraudsters are counting on the financial institutions not doing their full due diligence or having an on-site appraisal done of the property to verify the stated property value. Sooner or later, the balance of the mortgage funds and the fraudster disappear, leaving the bank holding a mortgage for far more than the property is worth.”

“A second value fraud occurs when a legitimate agreement of purchase and sale is entered into between a vendor and the fraudster, say for $350,000. The vendor and the fraudster then sign a one-page amendment that provides a credit of $50,000 against the purchase price (stated to be for repairs). The fraudster does not disclose this credit in obtaining high-ratio financing. The deal closes and the mortgage payments stop shortly thereafter. The fraudster disappears with the balance of the financing leaving the bank with a mortgage greater than the value of the property.”

Check out the full article here:

Here are some red flags that can help you to suss out a real estate fraudster:

  • A client is making a large property purchase with cash and cannot evidence this from the sale of another property.
  • The client has documents to confirm the property transfer but not the original purchase and sale agreement.
  • The property’s sales history is showing multiple recent purchases – each showing the value increasing.
  • The client doesn’t want to provide identification, or will, but doesn’t want you to make a copy of it.
  • The seller indicates that there was a deposit made that was not recorded on the purchase and sale agreement – with payment being made directly to the seller and not through you.
  • The client wants the transaction closed very quickly.
  • The client wants you to indicate a higher purchase price on the agreement than the actual purchase price.
  • The sale price is unreasonably greater than that of other homes in the area.
  • The title shows a history of mortgages being registered and then discharged in short time spans.

Above is just a short list of behaviours that can occur that can mean fraud. Your ears might be ringing but here come the words again: due diligence saves the day, most of the time. Think of water, forcefully flowing from the tap as your deals, now think of the spatter that escapes the stream as representing these instances when something on a deal is off. Maybe in these cases it is better to dig a little deeper and perhaps pass on a deal rather than getting caught in the middle of a fraud scheme that can not only get you in trouble, but also put your relationships with your partners at risk.

For more information about tools you can use to identify real estate fraud please visit



geo1It seems everything is online, absolutely everything. We can buy clothes online, electronics, even groceries… and these are all delivered right to your door. Groceries continue to be a surprise because who thought that one could purchase produce without seeing and feeling it? Well, the same seems to be occurring with real estate.

Virtual home sales (more common in the U.S. with all the fire sales going on) seem to be occurring more and more, especially with savvy real estate investor who are buying properties sight unseen. Here in Canada, many Canadians bought U.S. real estate without even taking a visit, just because prices dropped so low that it was worth the risk to some. There are even realty TV programs where investors buy homes at auctions that don’t even take place in front of the property in question!

This is not even considering the international housing market and the thousands of foreigners who buy real estate here, from abroad, through their trusted real estate sales professionals.

Could you ever see this becoming the norm in Canada? A day when a client comes to your office and views properties with you online, and then boom, is ready to make an offer. Sounds crazy, but in Canada this could be a standard practice in only a few years.

Look at the tools available to you when showing a property:

  • You are able to access photos of the property from the street and from above.
  • Many agents offer virtual tours of properties online to preview the inside.
  • You are able to access demographics in a particular area to identify who lives in a neighbourhood, schools, transportation, etc…
  • You are able to view a property from above to see what is beside it, behind it, and in the area.
  • You can search the property’s history and transfers.
  • You are able to access comparable sales in a neighbourhood.
  • You can validate that your client is the legal homeowner of the property.

There is not much that you can’t show your client online about a particular property as it stands today – outside of walking them through it. In the future though, they may not even want to.

Risky business or what could become the norm in the future – what do you think?

For information about how you can validate the information presented on your deals please visit




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