Helping You Find Your
Perfect New Property

Dear Kevin Windsor,

Thank you so much for considering us as you start your home buying journey. We’ve put this site together to give you more insight into who we are and how our unique resources and tools will help you find and secure your perfect property with our expert guidance and support.

We understand that buying a home, whether it’s your first purchase or your fifth, can be a stressful process, which is why we want to empower you with all the knowledge and tools you need to make the best decision for you.

We look forward to supporting you in this exciting journey!

The Christine Cowern Team

Our Commitment to You

  • We’ll Work Hard: Whether it’s a Friday night offer or organizing a last minute home inspection, we’ll work overtime to provide you with the very best real estate service to ensure you’re happy and you have all of the information you need to make the best decisions regarding your purchase.
  • We’ll Be Available When You Need Us: We know that real estate never sleeps and that’s why we pride ourselves on our fast response time, whether you’re calling us with a question about a property that’s caught your eye or you’re just looking for our expert advice.
  • We’ll Be Honest With You: If we think a home isn’t the right fit for your needs or you’ll have a hard time finding a property in your budget we’ll tell you. We’d rather not get paid then encourage you to make a decision that you’ll regret.
  • We Won’t Disappear After The Sale: We won’t work with you and then disappear as soon as you’ve bought a property with us. We’ll stay in touch as often as you’d like us to (and you’ll get an invite to our fancy appreciation parties, too).

Our promise is to provide you with the highest level of service in the real estate industry. We’re so confident that you’ll be 100% delighted with our expertise and service that we guarantee you the right to cancel your representation agreement with us at any time if you’re not completely smitten with our services. And we’ll happily put that in writing!

We believe that every Buyer we work with should receive the very best service, expertise, negotiation skills, guidance and communication.

That’s why we’re a team – because a group of specialists focusing their unique skill sets on you and your move will always be better than an individual agent trying not to drop the ball on the countless tasks that have to be performed with every real estate transaction.

What does that mean for you? MORE services being performed at a MUCH higher level.

Your Sales Representative

Ali McDonald

Sales Representative

As a member of The Christine Cowern Team, I bring over 15 years of experience in the real estate and service industries to the table. My goal? To be part of a company that strives towards creating an exceptional client experience. Real estate is an industry that never sleeps and the reward of helping individuals in the moving process is extremely satisfying and rewarding to me. I look forward to working with you to deliver honesty, integrity and customer service at the highest level.

 

My passion for meeting new people sparked an interest in Zumba. With encouragement from friends and coworkers, I became a certified Zumba instructor which I’ve been doing since 2011. Instructing a Zumba class full of smiling happy faces brings me immense joy!

 

What Sets Us Apart

Client Reviews

Here’s what some of our Buyer clients have to say about working with us:

Do you want to read more of AGENT’S reviews? Just click HERE

See our 5-star Google reviews here.

Buying Process

Before you actively start your search with us you should get your ducks in a row by:

Buyer Checklist

Make a written list of things your new home must have and things you would like for it to have. Download our Buyer Checklist PDF here.

Understanding Agency​

When you work with a Realtor in Ontario, Buyers are required by law to have an agency relationship with them and must choose either Client Representation or Customer Representation.

Client Representation​

The most comprehensive and beneficial relationship for Tenants and Buyers because Realtors owe their Clients legal fiduciary duties, such as Confidentiality, Skill and Obedience. The key here is that Realtors must provide total allegiance to their Clients.

Customer Representation

Requires a Realtor to be fair and honest to their Customer, but the Realtor’s total allegiance is given to the Seller, not the Buyer.

Linked Forms​

‘Working with a Realtor’ Brochure

Realtors are required to provide Buyers with a ‘Working with a Realtor’ brochure providing more detailed explanations of Agency Relationships. One is linked here.

Buyer Representation Agreement

In almost every transaction Buyers choose Client Representation.  This type of representation gets formalized and documented through a Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA). A copy of the ‘plain language’ BRA is linked here.

PROPERTY ASKING PRICES AND WHAT THEY MEAN

Property Listing Prices are Marketing Prices, not Selling Prices.

A marketing price strategy is determined in consultation between the Seller and the Listing Realtor when they list the property for sale. The Asking Price is not necessarily the price that the Seller is looking to attain in the sale of their property.

We’ll guide you to a home’s general market value and provide our sense of the Seller’s chosen pricing strategy.

Why do properties go over asking?

Many do not. To understand why some do you must understand the Seller’s chosen pricing strategy and the activity in the current marketplace.

SOME SELLERS CHOOSE TO LIST THEIR HOME AT A VERY OPTIMISTIC OR LOFTY PRICE.

These properties tend not to sell over asking price.

Why would a Seller list optimistically high?

Room is being left for negotiation when an offer comes in. They may just want to try reaching high.

Disadvantages to Seller:

This pricing can:

  • discourage knowledgeable, qualified Buyers.
  • actually help sell other, reasonably-priced homes.
  • run the risk of causing their home to languish on the market, ultimately attracting only low-ball offers.

Opportunity for Buyer:

If it is the right property for a Buyer then they should submit a fairly-priced offer once the marketplace has proven not to be there for the Seller at the property’s current price. Our experience has taught me how to diplomatically and effectively convey this to any Seller that has unrealistic expectations.

MANY SELLERS LIST THEIR HOME PRICED AT, OR NEAR ITS APPARENT FAIR MARKET VALUE.

Advantages to Seller:

This strategy has proven to be most effective at getting the best price for a home in shortest time period.

It encourages knowledgeable Buyers to act quickly, before the property sells.

This is an effective strategy to generate multiple offers from qualified Buyers.

However, these properties do tend to sell over asking.  Buyers have to decide what the fair market value of the property is to them and the maximum they are prepared to offer.  We provide an overview of exactly what is transpiring in the market to assist in this decision-making process.

Disadvantages:

Sellers may regret having had only minimal opportunities to negotiate and offers not coming in at a price that they want.

Opportunity for Buyer:

The Seller is indicating a willingness to seriously entertain reasonably-priced offers.

SOME SELLERS LIST THEIR PROPERTY LOW, AT A PRICE THAT IS BENEATH ITS APPARENT FAIR MARKET VALUE.

Advantages to Seller:

A great amount of marketplace interest is generated.

Disadvantages:

Can alienate prime Buyers and Agents not wanting to participate in particularly frenzied multiple offer situations that lowly priced properties can generate.

Attracts unqualified Buyers submitting low offers.

May be overlooked by Buyers looking for that type of property but in a higher price range.

Opportunity for Buyer: 

An offer submitted at a price indicating fair value may take the day.

MAKING AN OFFER

INITIAL STEPS:

Paperwork:

  • Preparing yourself now for the time when you decide to submit an offer on a property will make the process go much smoother.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Agreement of Purchase and Sale form. Here is a link to the plain language version.
    • Be aware of any conditions that you may need to include in your offer.  Common conditions are financing and building inspection.
    • Determine from your chosen Mortgage Lender how long you will need in order to firmly secure your financing on your property of choice.
  • Determine from your Building Inspector how long it will take for them to conduct and present you with the results of a building inspection on your property of choice.
  • Discuss with me any general concerns  you may have about the process of submitting offers so we can address them now before being under the time pressure of submitting an offer on a particular property.

How to Make Offer:

Our role is to negotiate best price and terms for our Buyer.  We will provide consul and advice throughout but the following are the main points on which determinations need be made:

  • Deposit: What is an acceptable deposit amount for this offer? What would be an advantageous amount? Don’t forget that these funds must be immediately available.
  • Closing Date: What date does the Seller want? Need? What would work for the Buyer?
  • Irrevocable Period: Should this be a limited or extended period?  Again, each situation requires a different strategic response.
  • Other terms and clauses: These get reviewed and considered.

Common Questions: 

Firm Offer

Should I submit a Firm offer with no conditions?

 

Advantages

Firm offers get seriously considered by Sellers and put the Buyer’s offer in contention.

 

Disadvantages

Agreements of Purchase and Sale are binding, legal documents.  Buyers must be in a position to follow through on all commitments and undertakings made in any firm offer.

Multiple Offers

Should you go in with your best or keep a little back for round two? When do you register?

There is no one answer to this.  Each situation is different.  Are there two offers? Three? Twelve? Through our experience, we’ll provide strategy insights that will hopefully lead to the best outcome.  Generally speaking, in a multiple offer you are not guaranteed to get a second kick at the can.  In many properties that sell in multiple offers the winning bid is just slightly better than the second best.  It would be a shame to miss getting a house that sells for a price that you were willing to pay.  Unfortunately, that is not uncommon.

What is ‘Offer Night’?

When a Seller lists a property for sale they may want to strategize the marketing to generate multiple offers. An option for them to consider is stating that they will not look at any offer before a specific date. Typically about one week after the property hits the market. That is Offer Night.

What are bully (pre-emptive) offers?

Just because a seller sets and Offer Night does not mean that any Buyer cannot prepare and register an offer on that property.  The Seller is not required to entertain the offer but the law says that the Seller must be advised of the existence of all registered offers.  If they choose not to look at a pre-emptive offer before Offer Night, that is their privilege.  Sellers do have the opportunity however to change their mind and look at offers before the originally-scheduled Offer Night. 

 

Advantages of a bully offer

Seller may indeed consider looking at offers before they had planned.  Buyer may have their bully offer accepted and get the house.

 

Disadvantages of a bully offer

Some Sellers resent the opportunistic approach of any Buyer submitting a bully offer.  There can be a residual resentment towards that Buyer carried over to Offer Night, if the Buyer decides to submit a bid on offer night.  Agents’ mettle gets tested in how they handle bully offers so as not to alienate Sellers if the Sellers decide not to consider their bully offer.

“I don’t want to do offer nights.”

Some Buyers think that if they bid on a property on its offer night, they may pay too much. This is not necessarily the case at all. This concern can be alleviated by determining beforehand exactly how much any Buyer is willing to pay for a property. I provide a market analysis on each property to help our Buyers establish that maximum figure with which they are comfortable.  Once established, that limit should be honoured. Not all properties sell on offer night at an amount above which a Buyer may have been willing to pay, but didn’t out of fear of overpaying.

I help make any offer night a controlled situation for our clients.

Do I need a lawyer?

Your lawyer handles much of the paperwork involved and facilities the transfer of the home’s ownership. They also ensure that you receive good title to the property you purchase. Real estate law is a unique beast. It’s important to work with a lawyer who has experience in closing real estate transactions.

Real Estate commissions are really Success Fees: If the Buyer does not find, negotiate and complete the purchase of a home, the agent does not get paid. The Seller usually pays all the commission but in the rare occasions that they don’t, details of any expected payment by the Buyer must be addressed and agreed to beforehand.

In essence, the Seller is paying the Buyer Agent to negotiate the purchase on behalf of their Buyer.

No real estate fees get paid for by the Buyer, unless otherwise agreed to beforehand.

HOW ARE REAL ESTATE COMMISSIONS DISTRIBUTED?

The Buyer purchases a home through their Buyer Agent, employed by a Real Estate Brokerage.

When the transaction completes the Seller pays the Listing Brokerage the agreed-upon commission through their lawyer.

 

  • Compensation to the brokerage is typically made at sale’s completion by the Seller’s lawyer. The brokerage commission gets deducted from the Seller’s proceeds of the sale.
  • The Listing Brokerage then pays its Listing Agent directly and also pays the Buyer Brokerage (Co-op Brokerage) their portion of the commission.
  • The Buyer Brokerage then pays its Buyer Agent.

COSTS TO CONSIDER

Deposit Funds:  Deposits become payable by the Buyer within 24 hours from the time of  acceptance of their offer to purchase a property.  These funds, usually about 5% of the value of the property, must be available at that time.

 

Legal Fees: These vary widely, get a personalized quote from a lawyer.

 

Home Inspection Fee: Home inspectors provide a physical condition check and structural assessment of the property confirming things that are in working order and identifying those items that may be in need of repair.  Budget around $500.

 

Condominium Status Certificate: If purchasing a resale condominium an up-to-date status certificate is required.  If the Seller has not already made one available the fee for providing a new status certificate often falls upon the Buyer.  Cost:  $100.

 

New Condominium Fees: Builders charge back to Buyers any municipal levies and development expenses that they incur and must pay when building the property.  Lawyers can provide an estimate of these fees for each specific new freehold or condominium purchase.

 

Property Appraisal Fees: Mortgage lenders usually require an accredited property evaluation to confirm the market value of the property. Sometimes paid for by the lender.  $250 – $300

 

Survey: Lenders may require an up-to-date property survey (ranging from $1500 to $2500) but often title insurance is acceptable in lieu of a new survey.  Property surveys are a requirement however for any intended renovation permit applications that require extensions to the property, pools, etc. Sellers may have an acceptable survey already in-hand.

 

Title Insurance:  Title insurance policies protect the lender (and the Buyer) against a number of defects, including: existing zoning violations, encroachments, title frauds and defects, work orders, etc. Often title insurance will eliminate the need for an up-to-date survey of the property.  $400 – $500

 

Closing Adjustments: These disbursements get paid by the Buyer to the lawyer. Adjustments include any Seller-prepaid taxes, utility bills, condominium fees and other charges that have already been paid for, calculated at completion and then to be reimbursed to the Seller. The lawyer can provide a closing adjustments approximation for each specific purchase.

 

Land Transfer Tax (Ontario Provincial Tax and Toronto Municipal Tax)

Ontario Land Transfer Tax:

0.5 % – on the first $55,000

1.0 % – on amount between $55,000  and $250,000

1.5 % – on amount over $250,000

2.0 % – on anything above  $400,000

 

Click here to calculate your mortgage and land transfer amount

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Close to 87% of Realtors with the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) sell 6 properties or less a year and close to 57% sell one home or no home at all. If you work with an agent who doesn’t have experience with a wide array/amount of transactions and/or hasn’t been in the business for very long they have a much higher chance of not identifying red flags before they arise because they lack the knowledge they need. This will be extremely frustrating and cost you valuable time and money. At The Christine Cowern Team we have 52 years of combined experience, have helped hundreds of Buyers & Sellers and sell 10 times more properties than the majority of TREB agents.

Agents who are in the business part-time and/or are juggling other professions while trying to keep up to date with the ever-changing real estate and mortgage market markets will not be able to give you the expertise or time that you and your home sale/purchase deserve. At The Christine Cowern Team we are all full-time agents, actively working in the market 7 days a week. This is all that we do, everyday.

Having a specialist in the area and property type that you want to buy or sell in is crucial. What properties in the area are selling for, close by amenities and schools, zoning restrictions, transportation, etc. is going to be completely different in one area of the city versus another. If you don’t work with a specialist in your property type and area you risk mistakes being made and details being overlooked. The Christine Cowern Team is made up of a team of specialists. Based on the property type and areas that you’re buying or selling in you’ll be matched with the specialist that is the best fit for you and your needs.

One of the major misconceptions that Buyers have is that they’ll have an advantage if they work directly with the listing agent. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The listing agent’s goal isn’t to make sure you buy the right property, it’s to make sure you buy their property which is a major conflict of interest as they are legally representing the best interest of the seller not you. The result? You get the short end of the stick. When you work with us we’ll work hard until we find you the right property and 100% of our legal fiduciary duty is to you and your best interest.

Many agents get frustrated when you don’t list or buy a home quickly which can lead to you feeling pressured to move before you’re ready. At The Christine Cowern Team, we have a friendly, no pressure approach. You set the pace. We take the time you need to be 100% comfortable with your decision and will give you the same high level of service regardless of your budget. Your move is a big deal. When you work with an agent that honours this importance you can take the time you need to make the best decision for you.

Many agents will claim that they have sold a high number of homes or are the top in their market but they don’t/won’t provide the data to back up their claims. All of our team’s sales data is pulled from an independent real estate statistics company and comes directly from the Toronto Real Estate Board. You know that our sales statistics are real.

One of the most important skills that an agent should possess is the ability to negotiate successfully. Whether it involves the sale of an investment property or the purchase of a home for you to live in, a successful negotiation can mean the difference between overpaying for your new home or saving money, selling your home for top dollar or leaving money on the table. Not only do all of the agents at The Christine Cowern Team have a proven history of dozens of successful negotiations but we also apply one of the most time-tested negotiation techniques, known as BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). By asking the right questions and having a solid understanding of each parties BATNA we’re in a much stronger position to negotiate successfully for you.

Unless you were referred to your agent by someone that you really trust, you won’t have access to speaking with their past clients before hiring them. At The Christine Cowern Team, not only have our past clients posted reviews of our services online, but if you’d prefer to speak with someone in person we’ll happily provide you with references from some of our past clients so that you can hear about their experiences working with us directly from them.

With every property purchase or sale there are dozens of potential red flags that could be costly and frustrating for you if your agent isn’t aware of them and/ or doesn’t communicate them with you before you go onto the market. At The Christine Cowern Team, we don’t want you to have any nasty surprises. Because of our long-term experience and the number of properties that we’ve sold we have the knowledge we need to identify potential red flags (like termites, knob and tube, galvanized/Kitec plumbing, special assessments, zoning restrictions, etc) in advance so that we can mitigate any concerns before buying or selling.

Many agents take on too many clients at once which can lead to frustration as their service level inevitably drops because they’ve overextended themselves and can’t keep up with the countless tasks that they need to complete for every client. When you hire us you’ll be working with a specialist who has a maximum number of active clients so that you’ll never feel like a lower priority and they can give you all of their time and energy.

For a busy individual agent, it’s impossible not to drop the ball on the dozens of tasks that have to be performed for every client and transaction. We have a full-time administrative assistant on staff so that you will get more of our attention. Because we don’t have to spend time on administrative details and paperwork and will have the comfort of knowing that there’s a much lower chance that details will be missed.

If you don’t have access to the most highly skilled real estate & home professionals you increase your risk that a critical detail will be overlooked or the ball will be dropped in what could be a costly mistake for you. At The Christine Cowern Team we have a database of the most highly skilled mortgage brokers, real estate lawyers, home inspectors, and tradespeople in the business. This list is constantly vetted and the professionals are all hand picked by us so you never have to worry that you’ve chosen a weak resource who will cost you time, money and frustration.

Many agents are transactionally based, going from one deal to another without really caring about their clients or offering any post closing services, resources or the added value of an ongoing relationship. At The Christine Cowern Team, we pride ourselves in staying connected with you even after your sale and will continue to give you valuable information, resources and offer ongoing appreciation (through client appreciation events & more) for your past business.

The #1 complaint people have about their agents is lack of communication. That’s why we’re such sticklers for constant communication and availability. We’ll typically get back to you right away but definitely within the hour if we’re in a meeting. We’ll also communicate the way that you prefer. Not a big fan of talking on the phone but love texting? Then we’ll text away!

Many people who have worked with average or below average Realtors in the past feel that they’ve been locked into real estate contracts with them even though they end up being unhappy with their services. And they’re given the impression that they can’t cancel their contract, which is untrue. When you work with us you’re protected. If you aren’t happy with our services you can cancel your representation agreement with us at any time with no penalties and we’ll put that in writing. Your satisfaction is our #1 priority!

If it’s a seller’s market than the majority of homes in Toronto and the GTA will sell in multiple offers. If you aren’t given the right advice and direction you will lose out over and over again, being able to afford less and less house as the months go by. At The Christine Cowern Team we work in multiple offers 80-90% of the time and know what you need to do to ensure success.

In a market with homes selling at lightning speed, relying on a single agent’s availability to show you homes means you could miss out on the perfect property. At The Christine Cowern Team we have a team of agents so if your specialist isn’t available one of our other highly skilled agents will be. We’re set up to make sure that you never miss out on seeing a property before it sells.

Some homes need to be viewed in person to assess whether they’re the right fit for you. At The Christine Cowern Team one of the duties of your specialist is to preview properties in person for you upon request – this will save you hours of time not having to view homes that don’t meet your needs.

Because homes that are listed on the public market can sell quickly it can be a frustrating market for today’s Buyers. We will door knock and cold call your areas/building/streets of interest. By accessing off market properties for you we will eliminate the need for you to compete which will significantly increase your chance of a successful purchase and could save you from overpaying.

There are two types of property listing systems, the old Property Match system and the new Collab system. The majority of agents are still sending their clients listings through the old Property Match system which sends you listings the day after they are loaded into the system. This gives you a major time disadvantage because the most desirable homes are often selling within the first 1-2 days of hitting the market. At The Christine Cowern Team we have all of our clients set up on Collab which sends you listings the moment they are loaded, giving you a time advantage. With Collab you can also create your own search, favourite properties and add notes to properties which will help your specialist be able to hone in on your preferences, making your search more efficient.

If the current market is a seller’s market than the list and sold prices can be dramatically skewed which means if you’re only seeing the list price of properties through Realtor.ca, for example, you’ll have misleading information about market values and will possibly have unrealistic expectations about what your money can buy you and where. When you work with us we’ll send you weekly sale price information for the types of properties and areas that you’re interested in which will be crucial in navigating this market and successful purchasing a home.

WE HOPE YOU’VE FOUND THIS INFORMATION USEFUL AND LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING TOGETHER!

416.291.7372 | hello@christinecowern.com

130 King St W, Unit 1800B Toronto ON M5X 1E3

o 888-311-1172
f 888-311-1172

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