Lisa Mueller is an award-winning Saskatoon REALTOR® with CENTURY 21 Fusion, with 12 years of experience in the real estate industry. She has worked with the brokerage as both a real estate agent and a broker manager, offering a wide array of experience in the way she works with home buyers, sellers, and other industry professionals. Even with her busy schedule, she was happy to spare a moment to talk about her experience as a local REALTOR® and why she would be the best fit for finding you and your family the dream home you’ve been searching for!
I chose to become a REALTOR® because I wanted to help families, and I had quite a bit of personal experience buying and selling homes! I had moved many times myself. At one time, I had moved 6 times in 8 years, packing up houses and kids, and my husband said to me, “You know, you should really get into real estate. You already know a lot of the processes and I think you could add a lot of value to clients in knowing what it really is like to get a house ready for sale, and to move a family!” So I really felt I had a lot to offer clients when they were going to list and sell.
I think a REALTOR® that has their own experience is vital because they really know what you’re feeling when you’re listing that home. Some of these REALTORS® that we had experienced weren't great communicators, and it kind of felt like they plopped the sign on the lawn and didn't follow through with the things they were saying. So that's what I wanted to focus on when I became a REALTOR®: good customer service and making sure I was communicating properly with the clients and so that they felt that the value they were getting was worth what they were paying.
My favourite part about being a REALTOR® is the clients and, obviously, is the possession days. That’s the end game. The goal is that you’re going to get that house sold for your listing clientele or you’re going to bring that buyer to the new house, open the door for them, and know they’re going to create memories that last a lifetime. It’s just the best feeling ever!
Buyers really need to make sure that their down payment is ready and that they get a good mortgage broker. Don’t just go to anyone. You need to find a mortgage broker that is going to explain to you how the whole process works with them and that they ensure that you are preapproved for a property so that you can actually go out shopping, write an offer, and not have to be concerned or not ready to do so. They should educate you on the costs involved in having a mortgage payment, taxes, and those different various things that a mortgage broker can do.
Once a mortgage broker has educated them, then I can help them from there in choosing the appropriate house. Some buyers need a lot of help with buying a house that’s got some renos and they’re not sure how much they are going to cost. And maybe they’re up for that challenge! But most brand new buyers should likely be buying a house that doesn’t have a lot of things that could come up. Educating them on the expenses is really important for new buyers so that they know what they’re up against.
I try and educate my buyers as much as I can during a showing. I don't just sit on my phone and text people while it’s going on. I'm walking through with them, pointing out things, and showing them where there might be an issue later on or something that we need a home inspector to look through if it comes to a home inspection. I just think it’s so important to educate buyers on the process, on what is a good home and what isn't a good home, so that they can feel really confident that I am representing them and that they're buying the best property they can for themselves.
I’ve been in real estate for over 14 years, and it’s definitely technology. Social media is especially playing a huge role in what buyers can buy and what sellers are selling for, and how educated the buyers and sellers are. And as a REALTOR®, you really need to be up to date with it all—where interest rates are headed, how to market a home, how to get the best home for your client. All those nuances are really, really important.
Well, I am a mother of three. I am super proud of my daughters—they are growing up to be very independent and hard-working. They just motivate, impress, and amaze me every day. I’ve been playing volleyball for over 30 years—I love it. I also have 2 small dogs, and I am a cat-lover, but my daughter is allergic to cats haha!
Other than that, I have an education degree and I did teach for a tiny little bit, and then I raised my kids for a little while. We moved a lot during that time and that’s when I decided to go into real estate and now I’ve been a REALTOR® for over 14 years. For 5 of those years, I ran a brokerage of 97 agents and 7 staff. I helped those agents by training them and onboarding them, educating them, and overseeing their deals.
I pretty much know anything that can go wrong in a deal and how to mitigate that or try to prevent it from happening. I always make sure that I let my clients know that we have to get proper conditions and terms in place on an offer. And, when it comes to listing a property, it must be properly listed—the house has to be measured and the different things that need to be done must be done properly. It’s what I taught agents for 5 years and I carry it with me today.
I also helped the staff with servicing the agents so that they could do their job and be successful at it.
I love Saskatoon because it’s a beautiful city. The river, the bridges, the people are just second to none. I feel like it’s small enough, but not too small because we have many, many services and things to do here. Still, you can drive here anywhere in 20-25 minutes, unless there's an accident and then it might be another 5 minutes.
And there’s lots of opportunities to move up at different companies, if you’re so inclined. It’s just a gorgeous city that, you know, we don’t really appreciate when we live here, I think. But when I get to show out of province buyers, then I realize even more how beautiful Saskatoon is and how much we need to appreciate it.
On a day-to-day basis, it’s my girls. I want to lead by example. And so I go out into the world every day, doing my best, and getting things accomplished, working with people that I like to work with. And I think that when clients see me, and watch how I work, they see that I care and that I want to see them happy in their new homes. Or in selling their homes, I think they see that I really want to have them feel very satisfied—more than satisfied with the job I did!
For sellers, the biggest piece of advice I have is that they really need to make sure they’re getting their home prepped for sale. It has to be clean, bright, and look like it is maintenance-free, if that’s at all possible. Don’t put it up for sale until, you know, the little things are done. You know, we don’t necessarily need to redo a kitchen, but we do need to touch up paint, clean up spaces, and have the house sparkling clean.
The other thing I would advise sellers to do is study the market, learn the market, and you do that through a REALTOR®. They should not be coming to you and just saying, “This is what we need to list your house for.” What they should be doing is showing all the different listings that
are on the market and those that have recently sold—that is what a buyer is willing to pay, really. And then, from there, you decide with the REALTOR® what that pricing should be. Then you’re going to have way more success.
One of the most important things that I add is that I did oversee over 10,000 deals when I was the broker manager of CENTURY 21 Fusion. I saw many REALTORS® come into my office. I was teaching them how to be with clients, how to protect their clients, how to represent them properly. And so I’ve put that back into action now that I’ve gone back into listing and selling properties.
I am very knowledgeable, and I've got a lot of experience. My experience is partly maybe from my age, but more from moving around the province. I've lived in about 12 different houses all around Saskatchewan, and I’ve owned several investment properties throughout the years, so I have a lot of experience with those, as well. We also ran a farm for 25 years, so I even know all about farming communities, small communities, and we had 3 different cabins, so I know about lake properties, as well. No matter what type of property you’re interested in buying, there’s a good chance that I’ve had experience with it and can draw from that to help you make the most informed decision possible for you.
CENTURY 21 is an international brand and so I chose it partially because there is so much access to tools and technology that we have. We have great websites, and I can refer anywhere across the country—or, really, across the globe. I think we’re professionals and we don’t just get into real estate because we don’t know what else to do with ourselves. CENTURY 21 agents go above and beyond. They want to ensure that their clients have a great experience!
Kind. Caring. Fun-Loving.
You’ve taken the plunge to put your home on the market, starting a new chapter, and your agent has just received your first offer—how exciting! Now what? Several factors can help you make an objective decision!
The first offer is most often a motivated buyer that has been perusing the market for some time already, understanding the market and what kind of inventory is available. They are excited about your home and want to beat their competition. However, you can negotiate with the buyers, coming back with a counteroffer for a better deal. If the first offer is below your goal range, you can use their fear of losing out and attachment to the house as leverage to bring it closer to your goals.
Turning down the first offer outright can be a gamble, as the longer it is on the market, the less likely you are to receive a higher offer. Going past the average amount of a property's "days on market" may prompt potential buyers to wonder if the price is too high or even if there is something wrong with the property. When the threat of competition diminishes, the strategy will shift from competitive offers to bargaining.
Unless you are in an ultra-hot market, you are simply looking for the best overall offer. Depending on your objective when selling your home, each component will carry different weights.
The closer the offer is to your listing price, the better—but beware of getting too greedy! First offers within 10% of the listing price may be worth negotiation if other offer components are sound.
Cash offers tend to be more reliable compared to those that are mortgage-backed as they guarantee a swifter close on the deal. Pre-approved buyers may be denied later for a multitude of reasons, such as changes in employment or low results of a home appraisal.
Purchase contingencies can be quite common in a deal stating that the offer is valid only if the listed criteria are met. On the seller’s side, you want as few contingencies as possible. There are few contingencies, such as home inspection and appraisal, which are relatively standard, though in some cases, buyers may remove them to make the deal more enticing to the seller. Home sale contingencies are not the most ideal as they may jeopardize your closing timeline if the buyer’s home fails to sell.
A buyer’s flexibility with closing and moving dates may influence your decision to accept the offer depending on your circumstances and if you need extra time in transition after the sale.
There is considerably less pressure to accept the first offer if you are in a competitive seller's market with multiple great offers. In which case, sellers and their agents can accept offers while they come in or put in an offer review date for the property.
A buyer's market means that the current housing supply exceeds the buyer's demand. Thus homes may sit on the market longer, and price depreciates over time. Suppose a home similar to yours is selling for a lower price than what you have it listed for. In that case, the lower price may actually be a more accurate depiction of what your home is currently worth on the market—no matter the other seller’s reasoning for pricing it as such, it will also affect you.
Discuss the areas of the offer you wish to improve with your real estate agent and craft a reasonable counter offer and deadline for the buyer’s response to keep the ball rolling. Contact me today about becoming your REALTOR® to help you navigate the busy Saskatoon housing market!
Our 5 senses play an integral role in our processing of the world around us; these sensory cues trigger our emotional responses. Thus, we associate different emotions with different experiences. Some subtle touches can highlight the best features of your home, creating the experience that has potential buyers imagining this as their future home!
What we sense by sight is one of the very first things we notice about a place we have never been in before. Set a welcoming tone for the experience from the moment potential home buyers pull up with a manicured lawn and healthy plants for the top curb appeal.
Inside, give your home a good declutter and clean! When looking at homes for sale, buyers want to feel assured that they have been well cared for and will have enough space for everything they need. If you are unsure where to start, use the top to bottom, left to right method—beginning with ceiling fans and tops of shelves, working your way down all the way to the floors, utilizing bins for knick-knacks, loose bits and bobs, and personal items. For extra organization, use a colour-coded container for each member of the household to better keep track.
Lastly, be sure to highlight key areas by opening up the curtains and turning on the lights in darker areas! Window dressings such as curtains and blinds can often be neglected, so be sure to give these some love and care.
Though we can become desensitized to the smells in our own homes, home sellers must put themselves in the buyer's shoes and thoroughly deodorize, neutralize, and freshen the space. Think about how off-putting pet odours and trash odours will be to buyers! Be sure to take out the trash and clean things like litter boxes, putting them away in the laundry room.
Experts recommend using harsh cleaning solutions for deep cleaning to prepare the home for new owners. However, we must advise against using products that have strong scents when showing to potential buyers. Instead, use only mildly scented products. Candles are also not recommended to be used during showings—not only for the risk of the open flame but also because overly scented/artificial aromas may signal buyers that you are trying to mask odours!
Experienced REALTORs will propose using more natural fragrances, such as doing laundry beforehand, placing dryer sheets in drawers, or using clean linen scented plug-in (unplugged a few hours before). These give the home a fresh and clean scent, rather than an artificial and unnatural one. Baking cookies before a showing or heating up a few drops of vanilla on the stove will also provide a sense of warmth and comfort. Studies have also shown that citrus scents make a home feel worth more.
A day of home showings can be exhausting to buyers, and no one can truly enjoy their experience if they're hungry or thirsty. Simple snacks and bottles of water left for potential buyers can be the exact touch needed to leave that lasting, welcoming impression. Those cookies we talked about earlier? They can serve a double purpose here, just saying!
Of all lasting impressions, dusty and gritty surfaces that leave texture on your hands aren’t a good one. Make sure to dust so that buyers’ fingers come away clean! You want to be sure that they feel comfortable enough to touch. And leave closet doors cracked open for them to check out the storage spaces and vacuum carpets (both ways) for that plush and luxurious feel.
The idea is to emphasize what is already amazing about your home and help buyers to imagine the life they can make in the home. Thinking your home may need more of a facelift to get it showing-ready? Consider whether you may need to renovate before selling your home and contact me today about becoming your REALTOR!
Have you just moved into your dream home and can’t wait to grow your own outdoor oasis with vegetables and flowers, but don't know where to get started? Or are you a notorious plant killer that is looking for guidance so your attempt at boosting your home’s curb appeal for sale doesn’t end in disappointment? Hope is not lost! Here is a list of essential tips to help you get started!
Like starting your home search, gardening is all about the location! The phrase "out of sight, out of mind" definitely applies to gardening, so be sure to place your garden somewhere that you will see regularly. That way, you will be more inclined to show it some TLC.
You also want to know where the sunlight hits in your yard, as most plants need large amounts of sun exposure to thrive. Placing your garden close to a water source where you can efficiently run a water hose is also incredibly important for when your plants get thirsty. A great indicator of this is if the soil is dry up to your first knuckle, then it’s time to give your plants a drink!
One of the best landscaping tips you can get regarding your home is to save time on lawn chores by reducing the grass-covered areas in your yard. The time you will save by combining the use of trees, shrubs, boulders, and other decorative plants to make an eye-catching display in your front and back yards is sure to amaze. And the beauty of these elements is that they are maintenance-free, leaving the time for you (or your potential buyers!) to dedicate yourself elsewhere.
You have found your ideal location and reduced your lawn chores, so now what? Start your garden-growing journey strong by using good, nutrient-rich soil. Many local garden gurus here in Saskatoon recommend working with compost, manure, or dried peat moss to combat the drier conditions we tend to face.
Match the plants you select to your growing conditions and be mindful of placement within your garden. Sunflowers are named as such for a reason, and pumpkins like ample elbow room for all of their vines. Ask around your Saskatoon neighbourhood what plants your neighbours find success with in your area and take note of what they have planted. And don’t forget about the different seasons!
Listing your home for sale soon and need some quick curb appeal without waiting for seeds to sprout? An easy way to fill an empty garden with plenty of colour in summer and into the fall is to plant a few annual starters and keep them well watered. They’ll keep everything looking cheery and bright for summer selling, then die off in the fall so the new owners can start fresh in the spring!
Planting too early or too late could mean an accidental killing spree on your plants. The last average spring frost date in Saskatoon is typically around May 15, so plan to plant after that to avoid casualties. And keep in mind the first seasonal frost happens usually around September 11th to 20th, so plan accordingly for fall flair!
Time release-fertilizers will keep your garden fed for more extended periods, meaning reducing the frequency you need to fertilize. And having a timed sprinkler system can shave countless hours off your maintenance schedule, which can be super helpful if you plan to spend more time at your Saskatchewan lake property this season!
Of course, the best news is, the more you garden, the better and more knowledgeable you will get! So don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the moments, whether they are the first in your new home or your last before you leave.
Homebuyers needing to finance their home are required to pass a stress test, and it's about to become harder to pass. Here's what you need to know about the stress test as it stands currently and what is about to change.
Introduced in 2018, the stress test for insured mortgages requires applicants to meet criteria that prove they could continue to make mortgage payments based on higher interest rates. For a stress test, mortgage lenders calculate the Gross Debt Service and Total Debt Service ratios to decide if applicants have a high enough income and low enough debt load to make higher mortgage payments should rates increase.
"Regulators plan to ratchet up the country's dreaded "stress test" qualifying rate for mortgage borrowers. As of June 1, loan applicants—regardless of the mortgage rate their lender has offered them—will need to prove they can afford an interest rate of 5.25 percent before getting approved for funding. The current benchmark is 4.79 percent." - Regina Leader-Post
Similar to crash tests done on new vehicles to determine the safety and integrity in the worst-case scenario, the same forward-thinking testing is done in the world of finance. Stress tests will model a bad scenario before the investment is made to show what would happen in case of a financial misfortune, and help determine exactly how much you can afford. If you were to suddenly have a reduced income or lost your job, could you still afford to make the same mortgage payments? What if interest rates were to spike, or you needed to refinance your home? This type of rainy-day planning is essential for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, interest rates are constantly in flux; as are home prices. According to CREA (the Canadian Real Estate Association), the average home price in Canada was over $500,000 in January 2020, up 11% from a year before. It's important to know that you can still afford to pay your mortgage if interest rates increase and could affect the kind of home you decide to buy.
Ultimately the new mortgage rules are in place to protect the Canadian housing industry by ensuring that Canadians are not over leveraging themselves. As a home buyer, this could mean that you will have to settle for a lower budget. Despite the frustration of some Canadians, it is expected that mortgage rates will rise, and this test will help you make sure you don't overextend yourself. This will protect you from future difficulties when interest rates eventually increase.
According to the Bank of Montreal, uninsured homebuyers who qualify with a 20% down payment or more will have their minimum qualifying rate based on either the 5-year benchmark rate offered by the Bank of Canada or the rate offered by their mortgage lender plus 2%—whichever is higher. On the other hand, buyers with default insured mortgages—making a down payment of less than 20%—must qualify using either the Bank of Canada 5-year benchmark rate or the rate offered by their mortgage lender, whichever is higher.
When you're in the process of qualifying for a mortgage, the stress test may seem like one more obstacle you need to overcome. Keep in mind, though, that it's there to protect you from future rate increases. And if you're feeling overwhelmed or like buying a house may not be possible right now, please don't hesitate to contact me. I can help you assemble a team of real estate professionals who will make the home buying process far less stressful.