My Living Room on Apartment Therapy

 This month, I decided at the last minute to enter my colourful living room in Apartment Therapy's annual "Room for Color" contest.  AT has been one of my favourite home and design blogs for years and they often have great ideas for DIY projects.

When I purchased our condo in 2010, like many first time buyers, my money went towards my down payment and some renovations.  At the time, there wasn't much left over for furniture but I was tired of the furniture I'd used during my years of renting and I wanted something a little more gown up and... me. 

With Corey still in university, we were shopping on one income:  That's when our love of Craigslist began and since we had style but not much money to spare, (after gutting our kitchen and replacing the floors) we made a game of finding unique and well made (sometimes designer) pieces and trying to work them into some kind of cohesive theme. 

My cousin founded an amazing home décor blog called StyleNorth.  I remember reading at the time that he had a large orange flokati rug in his living room.  It was so shaggy and different that I couldn't help thinking that it would be a great piece to work my room around.  I browsed Craigslist for weeks and the odd one came up but they were usually too expensive or not colourful at all.  Finally one day, we found this cute little red number and the seller explained that it had been a gift from her in-laws when they travelled to Greece but she had never cared for it.

From there, we found two glass coffee tables, which allow more floor to be visible and keep our space feeling open and airy, as well as a fabulous retro chrome lamp (which we now love after hours of polishing), vintage chairs, some old bowling lanes which we made into an entrance bench and a table for my office as well as a large painting which I painted myself.  The eclectic style allowed us to display some personal keepsakes such as a large Trilobite fossil and soapstone carving from my grandmother and an old suzani I've always loved.  It was so nice to be able to display these items without worrying about whether they match the room.

We ended up furnishing most of our home that way and we now have fabulous vintage hanging lamps, a church pew in the dining room and many other treasures.  We kept our walls light so that we could display our art without worrying about the wall colour detracting however, I think we may be a little more adventurous in our next home.

Apartment Therapy's "Room for Color" contest is one of my best sources of inspiration for my home and we are honoured to be featured this year.  Check out our entry and make sure you vote!

Competition Bureau vs. TREB: Here's Why I side with TREB... And it's not for the reason you think!

Okay, it's obviously partially because I work in the industry and want to protect my career but, to be honest, there will always be a solid market for those who want to list and buy through a professional.  No, I have other concerns for what it means that the Competition Bureau is pushing to implement rules that will encourage more people to list on their own. 

For those who haven't been following the news, there has recently been more press about the lawsuit between the Competition Bureau and the Toronto Real Estate Board over access to information on the MLS service.  Frankly, as a real estate agent who may also be selling her condo soon, I don't necessarily want the entire world to have access to comments about the condition of my unit, when I am home and instructions for my pets but that's still not my main issue with the public being able to access this information and list on their own.

In an industry where we are taught to give the utmost attention to ethical conduct, detail and accuracy in our listings and diligent research, we also hear the horror stories of what can happen if something goes wrong.  We are trained to negotiate ethically and to also ensure that there is a proper paper trail of all conditions, waivers, amendments etc. to reduce any risk of a mistake.  We also answer to an ethics council which ensure that we behave ethically while practising real estate.  We also maintain insurance to protect us and our clients from errors and omissions.  Even with all these measures, errors occur occasionally and in real estate, when one closing often depends on funds from another, an error or misunderstanding can set off a chain reaction affecting people who have never even hear of the original culprit or their property.

Picture this: Person A has a firm deal to Purchase the home of Person B.  Person A waived their financing condition without speaking with their lender but as closing day approaches, they realize there may be a problem because the bank's appraisal of the property indicates that it is overvalued and Person A cannot fund the difference.  If Person A and Person B both have agents, likely the agents will be in touch regarding the problem and will either renegotiate the price to satisfy both parties, or negotiate who will keep the deposit and allow Person B to re-list immediately in order to mitigate the damages.  If there are no agents involved, things could get tricky.  What if Person A just sends a letter to Person B (or worse, what if they avoid the issue?) asking to be released from the deal?  How do they agree on what is fair?  What if Person B doesn't learn of this until closing day and they are now unable to close on the house they purchased from Person C?  As you can see, things get much more complicated without agents.

Without agents, how would a buyer ever know if an mls listing were accurate?  Who would hold the sellers accountable for errors and omissions or would buyers be forced to pursue legal action for every minor hiccup at closing?  In my experience, most buyers find it uncomfortable to view a house when the seller is home so how would they feel about negotiating directly over something so personal? 

Sure, buyers could still use agents but those agents would still expect to be paid and if sellers decided not to, that would fall on the buyers.  Nobody works for free.  And would those sellers really be saving money when they negotiate directly with a buyer's agent who is both a skilled negotiator and not emotionally invested?

What about the discount brokerages who post to MLS but leave sellers on their own for the rest?  Well, aside from the fact that I would need to deal with my own showings, many buyers don't want their agent to deal with someone whom they perceive to be cheap and difficult.  I've had many buyers not even want to look at these properties because they sense an ugly negotiaion may result.  There's also the question of how they respond to inquiries regarding their own listings.  If you have already paid a brokerage a flat rate fee to post a listing, how motivated are they to answer questions or even return phone calls about your home from people who find the listing on MLS?

To me, my home is my largest investment.  I don't object to people listing on their own but it would never consider listing my own home without the assistance of a Real Estate Agent.  Here's a video which outlines some of the many ways we can help:

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