January 19, 2015
It's been said that “Life is what happens while you're busy making alternate plans.” Now you could argue that this is not a complete depiction of life, and that's certainly true. There is nonetheless an element here that resonates with each of us. We all know of situations where someone has had everything going for them only to be blindsided by an accident or life-threatening disease. By the same token we can each relay stories of events or circumstances that have hit us out of the blue with beauty, wonder and joy. Either way, life is fraught with surprise – a journey brimming with both opportunity and danger.
One of the positive surprises for me this past year has been the fact that I now find myself in a sales team relationship. I knew, of course, when signing up with Benjamins Realty that I would be part of a small close-knit group of Real Estate professionals. Even so, I fully expected that my career would remain (for the time being at least) largely a solo affair. I would continue to do many of the things I have always done on my own - make phone calls, follow up on leads, develop and tweak marketing campaigns, show and view homes, conduct open houses, answer questions, draft and negotiate agreements, solve problems, etc.. And all of this with an eye to properly servicing the needs of clients and customers. My plan was to grow and develop my new business gradually and solidify my reputation in a systematic fashion to the point where it would be only natural to expand by bringing in a partner. I have known and experienced the value of partnerships throughout my business career, and fully expected that another partnership would naturally emerge again in this realm of licensed Real Estate. What I did not expect was that it would happen so soon.
Devin Hulett and I met a little less than a year ago. We were each working toward licensing requirements as Real Estate Sales Professionals, and we happened to sit next to each other in a class at the KW Association of Realtors. What impressed me almost immediately about Devin, was that he is imbued with a strong sense of self, of his own aptitude and ability. This sense of ability became all the more clear to me when he made it known that he is burdened by a significant dis-ability. You see, Devin is partially blind. He has a genetically predisposed disease of the eyes that is unrelentingly, bit by bit, persistently over time robbing him of his ability to see. I'm amazed, even now, when I think of this, because Devin hasn't allowed this progression in lack of sight to define him. He continues to look directly at people when talking with them, to smile, to radiate joy, to embrace the fullness of life. And he does what he can, as best he can, to work around this limitation, to get on with the business of living each day in the same way we all do – working, playing, earning a living, spending time with family, etc..
Now I'm quite sure there will always be people who will wonder what Devin is doing selling Real Estate. They will ask, how can he do his job properly when he can't even see? And undoubtedly there will also be some who will decide to avoid using his services because of that. By the same token, I'm sure there will be those too who will wonder why I have decided to partner with Devin when he has this obvious limitation. That's okay. Questions about things that are unusual are to be expected, and in some ways also healthy. I know that Devin and I have both asked some of these questions ourselves. Indeed, we've asked them of each other. What keeps us on track however is the knowledge and the idea that we are all limited in some way. Devin's limitation might be obvious, but that's not to say I don't have mine too. None of us is perfect. All of us come at life with a combination of strengths and weaknesses. What makes for a successful partnership however is that we focus not on our weaknesses, but on our strengths; that we build each other up, and allow each other to soar on the wings of those abilities with which we've been endowed.
I'm excited about our partnership; not only for ourselves, but also for those clients and customers with whom we have the privilege of working. I am sure that together we will do at least as good a job as either one of us could do ourselves. And in some ways we'll do even a better job.
If you would like to meet Devin or myself to discuss the pricing and selling of your home or property, the buying or leasing of Real Estate, the most recent market trends in your neighbourhood and area, mortgage financing, taxes, rights of ownership, legislative issues, or any of the other many considerations that define real estate transactions, please give us a call or send us an email. Devin can be reached at (519) 404-3773 or email Devin.Hulett@BenjaminsRealty.com . I can be reached at (519) 496-5607 or email John.Zwart@BenjaminsRealty.com . We both welcome the opportunity to utilize our skills, efforts, and expertise on your behalf.
For a photo and additional biographical information about Devin Hulett follow this link: Benjaminsrealty.com .
(c) Copyright John Zwart 2015
December 1, 2014
Several years ago I heard some sage advice from one of my uncles at a family reunion. We were celebrating a milestone event for the Zwart clan in Canada. It was the summer time, and we were gathered together at a small campground and park. The weather was beautiful. We had just had our fill of grilled hamburgers and sausages washed down with cold drinks, topped off with cherry cheese cake and apple pie. To say we ate too much that afternoon is an understatement. And yet it felt good for us to be together as family. Good to celebrate who we were as uncles and aunts, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, cousins and children and grandchildren – an extended family brought together by the decision of my grandparents decades earlier to immigrate from the Netherlands to Canada.
My uncle and myself, together with some other family members were gathered together around two picnic tables placed end to end. We were discussing ways to navigate the then current economic climate; and the topic, as it did so often in our family, turned toward Real Estate. One of my cousins thought that maybe Real Estate wasn't a good investment right now. He thought that prices were too high, and while mortgage rates were favourable they were bound to go up. When that happens, he concluded, there will be a significant price correction with much suffering on the part of those buying now. He was persuasive, my cousin was, and I remember looking around seeing several other family members nodding in thoughtful agreement.
But then my uncle spoke. An older wiser uncle. A patriarch of sorts now that my grandparents had both passed away. He was a building contractor, now retired, a custom builder of homes who had done well financially, as well as in other areas of his life. By all accounts he was a straight shooter, and a good man. He said something that afternoon that I will never forget.
“I'm not the smartest,” he said in his thick dutch accent. “I don't pretend to know so many things better than anybody else. And I don't know that much about the economy, that's for sure. But when it comes to Real Estate, I think I know a few things. And I can tell you this. Over the years I have seen interest rates go up, and interest rates go down. I have seen prices go up, and prices come down. I have seen the economy be strong, and the economy be not so strong. I have seen houses sell quickly, and houses take a long time to sell. But one thing I know. And I've known it all along, my whole life. If you buy Real Estate...in the long run...YOU'RE AHEAD.”
He said these words in a way that was strong, but not too forceful; in a measured way that nonetheless had the weight of knowing behind it. He was certain about that of which he was speaking, and there was no ambivalence.
As I said before, I've never forgotten these words. They've stuck with me. They have served me and my clients and customers well. And while there are of course many other things that have been learned through the years, many other things that have had to be considered while transacting the sale of homes and condos – matters of location, condition, timing, affordability, market strength, economic stability, zoning restrictions, legal matters, personal situation, and so on – its good to be reminded, and good to know, as my uncle has known throughout his life – if you buy Real Estate...in the long run...YOU'RE AHEAD.
(c) Copyright John Zwart 2014
July 28 2014
Whether you are young or old, single, married, with children or without, an empty nester, or elderly, the decision to buy or sell your home can be overwhelming. Market considerations, location, state of repair in the home, personal finances, mortgage rates, and emotional factors all play a role. So how do you know when its the right time to buy or sell? Here are some pointers to help you in that decision:
Ask for Advice: Frame your status and position; write down your hopes and dreams, as well as your fears, and then ask someone you respect to give you an honest opinion. It could be a family member, a friend, your pastor, a boss, your Realtor, financial adviser, or maybe even your mother in law. Whoever it is, it should be someone you trust, who's opinion you value. And if you're not sure about the advice you're receiving, ask again, or ask someone else. It's been said that even the best plans can fail for lack of good council. Listen therefore to the opinions of those who you know will give you valued feedback. Then give yourself time to distill and assimilate these opinions in your own heart and mind. Its still your choice, but it sure doesn't hurt to hear the perspectives of others.
Be Proactive: Even if you decide to wait, its important to know why you are waiting, and then continue to make progress now. Time doesn't stand still, and neither should you. Whether you're a young couple or an empty nester, its important to make plans and set goals with a date for their accomplishment. Don't be afraid to embrace the changes in your life, and recognize that change happens anyway. In the final analysis it's better to act on a plan than wait for circumstances to dictate your choice or limit your options.
Be Realistic. The price/value tension in Real Estate can be difficult for both buyers and sellers. Sellers are often afraid to leave money on the table when pricing their home, and buyers are sensitized to the fact that this is the largest financial expenditure they've ever made. In addition, both parties can feel the strain of transition in their lives, and may thus be susceptible to the compulsions of strong emotion. It's important in this environment to maintain perspective, and recognize that we are all players in a drama for which there is no script. The hopes and dreams of the other party to your transaction are as important as your own. So give them the honour of your kindly understanding and be reasonable in framing your expectations.
Be Prepared: If you're selling, make sure you're clear on why and where you are going next. And if you're buying, be prepared for the many responsibilities of home ownership. On both sides of the transaction there are a myriad of matters to contend with: moving (sorting, packing, organizing, etc), maintenance issues, settling of accounts, setting up new accounts, insurance, legal, mortgage matters, taxes, neighbourhood issues, etc. Moving can be a stressful experience at the best of times. You can ensure that it proceeds positively by being prepared and getting your house in order. :)
And Finally: BE POSITIVE! Regardless of the reasons for your move – whether born out of your aspirations for the future, or coming out of a negative, painful experience, know that life is a gift to be embraced in each of its seasons and in all of its variety. We won't always be happy, but we can always be hopeful. And as long as we have the strength to experience both thought and emotion, we will also have the capacity to remain authentic and affirming toward ourselves and others.
(c) Copyright John Zwart 2014