Quite often realtors are asked to help their clients find a good real estate lawyer, home inspector and mortgage broker.

Unless you buy and sell houses regularly or know someone who is one of the three, how many of us have one in our phone contacts?

One thing you should remember -  in Alberta at least -  is that when providing recommendations, your realtor is obligated to give you a list of at least three professionals that they either have worked with in the past or know to be very good based on a recommendation by a colleague. They can tell you what they know about each and you decide.

I'm writing this today because there may be some confusion out there in Calgary real estate land about the practice of realtors secretly accepting fees from these professionals to steer business in their direction. It's a no-no. If you are getting just one name from your realtor, ask for more.

Also ask them pointedly if they are getting a referral fee from that person. We are not allowed to accept a fee without disclosing it to you first. I'd be a bit suspicious if my realtor was pushing one person on me and I'd likely try to find someone else myself.

This issue is actually covered in clause 8.9 of a buyer representation agreement so if they have accepted a fee or gift without first telling you, you can file a complaint with the Real Estate Council of Alberta.

Here's the clause verbatim:

"We must not accept any other fees including finder's fees, referral fees, bonuses or gifts directly or indirectly related to the agreement, unless we first tell you in writing everything relevant about the payment and you consent in writing to the payment."

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City of Calgary property tax assessments are either in the mail or have already arrived at homes.

A story about the subject published online by CBC Calgary may have once again caused confusion for those who are considering selling their property. Certainly the way it was worded caused consternation among the city's realtors.

Realtors often have to explain to potential clients that the assessment handed them by the city does not necessarily mean they will get that price if they put in on the market. You may get more or you may get less, which isn't much of an answer I know.

The city has its own assessors while realtors have their own way of coming up with a recommended price and they will present their recommendations to you in something called a Comparative Market Analysis.

Realtors actually ignore the city's number and hope that form you are about to get isn't waved in their face. It doesn't really factor in to coming up with a price for your listing. Recent sales of comparable properties in the neighbourhood, features of your home, the community it's located in are among some of the factors.

I came across this explanation from an American realtor named Bill Gassett from a few years ago that can explains it quite nicely:


 "In summary, assessed value is a valuation placed on a property by a public tax assessor for purposes of taxation. Fair market value, on the other hand, is the agreed upon price between a willing and informed buyer and seller under usual and ordinary circumstances. It is the highest price which the property will bring when exposed for sale on the open market to a buyer who is purchasing with full knowledge of the properties highest and best use."


Regards, Jeff

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