February 13, 2014, 7:53 am

My Membership Website Revealed + Special Offer

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online

 

Since the beginning of the year, I have discussed on this blog about my big project of launching a membership website. I really wanted this project to be perfect so I didn’t publicize all over the place to announce my new site back in December. I started with a soft launched that enabled me to #1 recover my investment and #2 control comments and suggestions from my new clients. It’s been two months now since I secretly launched this project, now it’s time to tell you more about it!

 

INTRODUCING DIVIDEND STOCKS ROCK

 

 

Dividend Stocks Rock is an online membership site that gives you access to all the tools and techniques you can use to build a dividend stock portfolio personally.  This is not about stock recommendations or some kind of guru principles. It’s about sound investing decisions made based on solid stock research.

I’ve been investing since 2003 and while my investing journey includes failures, I’ve also earned a few bragging rights:

#1 After borrowing from a $20,000 line of credit to invest, I bought my first house with $50,000 in cash down. All generated from my trading abilities.

 

#2 in 2012, I launched my first stock pick book and selected 20 US and 10 Canadian dividend stocks. I lagged the US market by 1% but killed the Canadian market by more than 8%.

 

#3 in 2013, my second edition of the Best dividend stock picks for the year beat BOTH the US and Canadian benchmarks.

 

I’ve noticed that many readers were interested in my point of view with regards to the economy and the stock market. They were curious about my stock picking process and how I manage my own portfolio. This is why I created Dividend Stocks Rock – to share my knowledge with as many people as possible.

 

The Dividend Stocks Rock site will build your knowledge, skills, and investment capability from the ground up.  You’ll master the techniques you need to understand what drives portfolio growth and individual stock growth to build the portfolio you want.  Most importantly, it will give you the data at your finger tips that will allow you to put the process into action from day 1.

 

WHAT CAN I OFFER THAT OTHER BIG SITES AREN’T DOING ALREADY?

 

My goal with this site was to cover the dividend investing world from A to Z from the Canadian and American markets. This is why you will find a lot of information on North American dividend stocks. But I couldn’t compete against the big guys. I didn’t want to enter the playground of data mining and build a filter stronger than Finviz or Ycharts.  I couldn’t compete with news and tons of articles that you can find on site such as Google Finance or Seeking Alpha. I wasn’t able to build a complete site such as MorningStar, Dividend.com or Parsimony Research.

 

When I look at such a list of “competitors”, it seems that there isn’t any place for a smaller player like me, right? If you think so, you are wrong. I personally use all these sites for my own stock research and portfolio management. But they all share the same flaw: they are too big and contain too much information for the average DIY investor. After discussing with many of my readers, I’ve noticed that many of them are brand new DIY investor and are floundering somewhat in the ocean of information and products offered to them. In fact, there is just too much info to digest for people to properly manage their own portfolios. Folks feel overwhelmed and simply do not know where to start. This is where I have found my niche: by doing the work I do and simply deliver the results so decision making is easier.

 

The other unique feature I can offer clients is even stronger: ME! Instead of logging into a big site managed by a dozen or hundreds of people, you enter in direct connection with a passionate dividend investor. I’m not here to give direct stock recommendations, I’m here to help investors build their portfolio according to their own investing strategy.

 

WHAT’S INSIDE AND HOW DOES IT TRULY HELP INVESTORS?

 

The site is being divided into 4 categories:

Baby Steps

This section was created for beginner investors who want to learn how to build their own portfolios. It explains the DSR philosophy. You don’t need thousands of dollars to start investing; a few hundred is enough. The idea is to have a clear investing process to achieve your goals.

The DSR Investing Baby Steps is an 8 Step process that will guide you through all phases of investing. You can either read each step on your screen or download them in an eBook (pdf) format.

 

 

 

 

 

Dividend Portfolios

At the beginning of 2012, we pulled two 100% stock portfolios; one US and one Canadian. Our first portfolios showed a total investment return of 12.37% (US) and 14.69% (CDN). We did it again in 2013. As of November 1st 2013, our portfolios are showing a total investment returns of 31.78% (US) and 17.82%.

We are sharing our talent with you through a series of portfolios that cover a number of different scenarios, you will be able to find a portfolio that fits your needs. There are model portfolio suggestions for Canadian investors, U.S. investors, or investors interested in investing in both Canadian and U.S. investments at the same time. There are a total of 10 different portfolios (click here to see what we are talking about) you can use to build your own. BUY & SELL updates will be delivered to your mailbox!

 

 

 

Dividend Stock Lists

This is the bread and butter part of the active investing portion of your portfolio.  These lists are your starting point for using dividends to grow your portfolio.  With a choice of 8 lists at your disposal (4 US and 4 CDN) the best dividend growth stocks available to supercharge your portfolio returns. We have used four powerful criteria to build our lists: Quality, Yield, Growth & Stability.

Most importantly, these lists are updated weekly with new stats on each and every dividend growth stock as well as additions of new dividend growth stocks and removal of stocks that are no longer providing that all-important dividend growth. Check out the list descriptions here!

 

 

 

DSR Premium Newsletter

This high quality investing newsletter will provide you with first class information about macroeconomics, various stocks to look at and valuable hindsight about the stock market. We will cover various industries and pick the finest stocks with high dividend growth potential. I wake-up every morning to read financial news and economic data. I’m doing all the work for you and send it out once a month. It will be ready to digest and implement right away. This will be part of your favorite Sunday morning reading every month!

 

Covering these four aspects, I am sure to achieve my goal in giving you all the right tools for a DIY investor to build a strong dividend portfolio.

 

 

 

NOW – WHAT’S THE SPECIAL OFFER???

 

My goal is to make Dividend Stock Rocks as accessible as possible. After all, your money should be invested and not spent in high fee MERs or on expensive newsletters. And this is the way we see it; DSR is an investment in your portfolio.

I really like when people get more for their money. When you think about it, that’s the whole purpose of investing right? Buying at the right price and benefit from your investment! This is why I’m offering you a special launching package. I’ve teamed up with Pat McKeough from The Successful Investor newsletter to deliver you the best investing offer of the year!

For the price of a Premium Subscription to Dividend Stocks ROCK you also get the choice of receiving one of the two very well-known investing newsletters The Successful Investor & The Wall Street Stock Forecaster.

 

If you don’t know about Pat’s newsletter, I suggest you checkout his site here and come back for the promotion ;-) Please keep in mind that DSR and Pat McKeough’s newsletter are two separate investing services managed by two different companies. Stock and market opinions may differ from the two services. This is a one-time promotion only and will end on March 13th.

 

THERE IS A 30 DAYS FREE CANCELLATION PERIOD SO YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE WITHOUT ANY RISK!

PREMIUM 1 YEAR SUBSCRIPTION + THE INVESTMENT NEWSLETER OF YOUR CHOICE + OTHER BONUSES AT $238.50 $169.50

CANADIAN PACKAGE

 

AMERICAN PACKAGE

 

 

LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF THE SITE – IN THE MEANTIME, LOOK AT WHAT EXISTING MEMBERS HAVE TOLD ME:

 

When we created Dividend Stocks Rock at the end of 2013, we wanted to make sure our investment platform was ready to meet our clients’ highest expectations. This is why we decided to do a “pre-launch” with people who signed-up for our special dividend investing mailing list. The pre-launch happened in December and was quite successful. But you don’t have to take my word for it, take theirs:

 

 

Is DSR worth the subscription? Do I feel I am getting good value? Compare the $4,900.00 that my wife is paying for advice to a one year subscription to DSR. I can’t believe the value that I am getting! DSR has exceeded my expectations by a long shot!

David

 

I just checked out your site. Whoa, impressive! I can see that you have done a lot of work to get this up and running. Great job. I like the Canadian feel to it.

Nancy

 

 

If you have any questions, let me know,

 

I wish you a great investing journey ;-)

 

TFB

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February 10, 2014, 5:00 am

Monthly Income Report is Back!

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Blog Income Report

Back in July 2012, I highlighted the reasons of not sharing my online income anymore. At that time, I felt that I there were more disadvantages than upside. The bulk of my business revolved around private advertising and I was spotted by a few jealous individuals who had nothing to do with their weekends but to harm my business. I hope they feel better about their lives and they feel they have done something right for the human nation. I don’t hold any grudge against them; my life is busy enough without worrying about trolls!

 

Having said this, I am now back with a new version of my income report. The reason being that private advertising is not a primary source of income for my business anymore. I’ve moved towards other ways of making money online and they work. This is why I’m not scared of getting hit by Google again after disclosing my numbers. On top of this, Google already struck TFB with a PR 0 a few months ago, so I have nothing to lose, lol!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW PRESENTATION OF MY INCOME REPORT

 

The main reason why I have decided to post this report again is actually for my own follow-up. Since my third child has arrived, my online business has been harder to manage. Doing this report helps me keep track of my main goal: making 100K online in 2014. A few weeks ago I outlined my business plan as follow:

Therefore, my revenues could be represented as the following graph:

 

Instead, my first month shows the following results:

 

Overall, my online business generated $7,027.05. This is gross revenue and does not include my expenses. My online expenses are around $3,000 per month. I spend a lot on VAs since I want to take care of my family more than I want to spend time on my computer ;-).

 

BLOG BUSINESS $5,015.17

I really like when Excel decides to adjust their axis so I have the feeling that I killed my goal by looking at the blue bar compared to the red one! Hahaha! Unfortunately, I only beat my goal by $15. These are the revenues generated by my blog network. Most of it is Adsense and also have affiliate income.

 

As you can see, my blog business is still generating the bulk of my income. I would say that we own 5 majors blogs, three of them in the financial niche (including TFB) and two others in different niches.

 

I’m obviously using my blogs to promote my different products but I’ve decided to use a different category as it is a completely different business model.

 

PRODUCTS $1,877.66

This Monday, I disclosed that I made over $6,000 with my new membership website within the first six weeks. In January, this site generated the bulk of my product segment. It makes sense since I offer a $149.50 annual subscription. This doesn’t require many sign-ups to boost this figure!

This business division also includes my two books for sale on Amazon:

Dividend Growth – a 4.5 Star Investing Guide

2014 Best Dividend Stock Picks – After beating my benchmark with my picks in 2012 and 2013, I’m going back for a third year with 20 US and 10 CDN favorite picks.

 

It was obviously a good month for my 2014 book since this is the perfect time for investors who are looking for ideas to improve their portfolio. I started the month by giving it away for free for 5 days and it was downloaded 1965 times! Unfortunately, I don’t make any money out of free downloads! However, it has helped me to rank on the first page of the Kindle Investing Book search on Amazon. I now hope to continue on this wave and I’ll also promote it across my network. I’m making about $1 net per book since I only priced it at $2,99 on Amazon.

But I’m smarter than that. This book is in fact a visit card for my membership website. You can find the link to my site several times throughout the book. If I can beat my benchmark (dividend ETF) again this year, I will gain a lot of credibility. Things look great since I’m already ahead for both my American and Canadian picks for the month of January!

 

NICHE SITES $134.22

When I mentioned earlier in this post that I had lost track of a part of my business, I can show that right here. I was under the impression that I was making $500 per month with my niche site. This was right a while ago, but right now, I’m far from that!

The main reason for this “disaster” is the drop in traffic over the past 6 months. As I mentioned several times on this blog, it’s been a good 12 months that I haven’t worked an hour on my niche sites. 12 months in terms of the internet is the equivalent of a century in real time. Therefore, Google ran several updates and cut some of my traffic each time. There is not much left right now for that reason. I will have to spend more hours in future months to bring this segment up to speed and generate at least $500 per month.

 

WHAT WENT WELL THIS MONTH

 

I’ll explain in a minute while I’m super proud of my month, but for now, let’s just say that I’m happy that most of my income was truly passive this month! I’m also super happy of the continuation of my membership website. I keep increasing the number of members weekly and this is a big accomplishment!

As is the case each January, traffic was quite good. This has helped me make some great money with Adsense and boosted my affiliate sales as well. I’ve made over $350 with INO, a technical analysis paid service.

 

WHAT WAS A MESS DURING THIS MONTH

You are going to laugh but what was the real mess was my stomach! I caught TWO stomach viruses! Can you believe that? Yeah… I guess that’s the price to pay to have a daycare in the home! Lol!

You can guess that I didn’t work as much as I should have! I was more in survival mode than anything else. Among the tasks that weren’t accomplished this month there were some quite important ones like:

#1 Write guests posts for my membership site

#2 Create an affiliate program for other bloggers

#3 Give free access to other bloggers so they can review my site

#4 Write more on TFB! Lol!

 

I took a two month break away from blogging not so long ago and expected to be more present in January. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out well. But now, I’m 16 pounds lighter (training and not eating really works!) and full of energy!

 

FEBRUARY TASKS

 

Unfortunately, I’ll have to achieve my January tasks this month and it won’t be easy. I’m really busy at work these days and I’ll also be in survival mode. Nobody says it is going to be easy (I’m actually writing this post in front of the Super Bowl where “my” Broncos are getting the beating of their lives… arrgh!).

 

On top of the tasks I didn’t complete last month, I want to accomplish the following:

#1 Run an affiliate campaign through one of my blogs

#2 Establish a plan to improve my niche website traffic

#3 Add a new portfolio model to my membership website (500K+)

 

HOW DO YOU LIKE MY NEW INCOME REPORT?

 

I hope you enjoy this new report and that I will be able to bring you hope and motivation through these posts. I’m confident that I will reach my objective of making $100K with my online business this year. And this report is one of the tools I will use to make sure I make it.

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February 6, 2014, 6:46 am

Realtor Bashing; They Are Very Good At Something

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Properties

Last week, I enjoyed a very interesting discussion with Pawel, a Real Estate Agent, after answering the famous question “Should I Get a Real Estate Agent?”.  I truly enjoyed this discussion as Pawel defended his points without saying I’m a total lunatic. I like when two people can debate without telling the other party he is a lost cause. After all this back & forth conversation, I thought I “owed” it to cover the other part of realtors’ job. While I would never take a real estate agent to sell my house, I think they are very good at something else!

 

THE OTHER HALF OF THE TRANSACTION

 

When you sell your house, this is usually 50% of a bigger transaction. Most people sell their house to buy another one. Therefore, once you sold your house, you are only always done with your transaction. The other half, probably the most important part, is to buy your new home. I think this is the most important part of the transaction since you usually make more money buying the right asset at the right time than selling it.

 

If you can buy the right house at the right price, it will be easier to make a healthy profit when you will sell it.

 

HOW CAN A REAL ESTATE AGENT TRULY HELP YOU

 

First of all, by definition, realtors are in the real estate business every day. They see what is put up for sale, what drops in price and what is being sold and the price it is being sold at. The fact they have easy access to this data is definitely a plus when you are looking to buy your new home. If you look for a house in Montreal for example, you are better off with an agent that keeps a Montreal home listing up to date like this one.

 

The agent can quickly find the type of house you are looking for and the listing you would likely waste a few hours to find on the internet by yourself. Plus, you don’t see everything on the internet. An agent will know the neighborhood better and might have already visited the house so he knows what pictures are not showing.

 

I also like the fact that he knows how long a property has been for sale and what has been sold recently. This is crucial information when you enter into negotiations. Unless you look at the Real Estate market on a weekly basis in the months prior to buying a house, you will not be able to know how long a property is being listed. The agent knows. He can also show you comparable properties that have been sold lately. There is always a difference between the price you pay and the price the house was listed at. This is why it is important to know how much the house is really worth. You can always find this information on your own, but it is more complicated and requires a lot more time.

 

Finally, the last aspect why I truly enjoy dealing with a Realtor to buy a property is the fact that he will book all your visits for you. You don’t have to do anything, he does it all. When I hunt for a house, I usually visit ten properties that fit my criteria. It helps me to see what is offered on the market and I can compare houses to make the best choice. I don’t know if you have ever tried this, but booking 10 visits with 10 different agents is quite a lot of pain. Most of them are working when you call them so you hit the voicemail 80% of the time. Then, you may be able to book 1 or 2 appointments the same day but it’s hard to have them one after the other. When you leave the agent do it for you, you can easily visit 5-6 house during the same day as you only need your agent availability to buy the house, not 10 agent’s agenda.

 

I ALMOST FORGET THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON WHY I USE A REALTOR TO BUY A PROPERTY

 

During my last article about real estate, I might have left the impression that realtors don’t do much and that you can easily put your house up for sale on your own. It is true that you can put your house up for sale without the help of a realtor but it’s not true that the guy doesn’t work. The main problem is more linked to the amount of commission you must pay to sell your property. The seller is basically paying 2 agents (the seller and the buyer), he pays also for the banner and for the office rent agents are charged monthly. This is why the 5% can hurt a lot on the sale price of your house.

 

But when you deal with a real estate agent to buy a house, there are no commissions to be paid! As I just wrote; the seller is paying for everything. As a buyer, the use of an agent is completely free. This sound like the perfect deal for me: you benefit from professional advice, get access to more data and have a private secretary to book your visits. Then, once you have bought your house, the cost of this service is a big fat ZERO.

 

This is so good that I think it’s a distortion in the market. At one point, it would even make more sense to have a seller paying a 2% or 2.5% commission fee and have the buyer paying also a finding fee to his agents. This would balance everything out and make more sense. But then again, I’m not sure I would be prepared to pay 5K-10K to an agent just to buy a house. I find their service awesome, but I would not even pay $1,000 for such support. I’m not sure there is a solution to this dilemma. In the meantime, I would still rather sell my properties myself and then use an agent for free to buy my next home.

 

What do you think? Do you use real estate agents when you buy?

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February 3, 2014, 5:00 am

The Result of my Membership Website – Over $6,000 in 6 weeks!

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online

My biggest goal of 2013 was to create a membership website. The idea behind it was to diversify my company and become independent from Google for good. Newsletters are great to keep your readers on board regardless if Google sends you traffic or not. And you can’t ask your subscribers to provide income on a monthly basis. If you send them too many “special offers”, they will tag your emails as spam and close the door for good.

 

But if you offer a service to help them in a specific part of their life, they may become more than readers and subscribers. They may become clients. The fact of having a service or product for sale with clients buying it puts your website in a completely different category. You are not dependent on the web anymore, you have a real business.

 

As I have always been very transparent with my online business, I will share everything about my new membership website with you, from the good to the bad to the ugly. I started with a soft launch on December 9th 2013 and have already made over $6,000 in the first 6 weeks of operation. Let’s look at how it went:

 

$6,133.70 IN 6 WEEKS – CAN I MAKE 52K IN 52 WEEKS?

 

Man… I wish math was this simple! Sure the numbers add up very well and it is very cool to say that the site has made an average of $1K per week since the launch date. But when we look at the overall trend, it’s not exactly how it went. The first graph I’m showing is the gross revenue per subscription week by week.

 

Members had the possibility to sign-up for a monthly membership or an annual subscription with 2 months’ worth of rebate and a bonus (a book). The monthly price was set at $14.95 and the annual price at $149.50 USD.

 

The blue bar is the annual subscription, the red bar monthly and, most importantly; the green bar shows total gross revenues per week. You will also note that I’ve cut the week to months’ end as I also wanted to see the trend per month.

 

Without any surprised, the week of December 9th was the most profitable. Within a week, I made slightly over $3,500. After the soft launch date (I’ll come back with the notion of a soft launch versus an official launch later in this post), we can see that the average is pretty solid around $500/week. This is particularly good since the announcement was right before the Holidays. I didn’t expect much movement from December 23th to January 5th and I still made $932.04 during these two weeks.

 

The exact weekly average for the past 5 weeks stands at $514.88. If this trend keeps up, I can expect to make a gross revenue of $26,773.76 this year. My goal for 2014 is to make $30K from my product business segment. As I am making a steady $300 in revenue from eBook sales, keeping a weekly average of $514.88 with my membership website would enable me to achieve this plan. I find it a little tight as the projections show a gross revenue of $30,373.76. This doesn’t leave much room for unexpected events!

 

I also have to keep in mind that the first few weeks after a launch are always stronger. This means I will have to work harder in the upcoming months to keep this $500/week average. Right now I’m standing at roughly 30 monthly subscribers generating $426.60 net in Paypal commissions. This leaves me with about $1,650 to find in new members each month to reach my goal. This is not an easy task.

 

Therefore, I don’t expect to make 52K in 52 weeks this year, but I surely intend to make $26K with my membership website.

 

REVENUES ARE GREAT BUT IS IT ENOUGH TO BE PROFITABLE?

 

 

Making money is one thing, but making profits is better. Obviously, building such a product costs money. Therefore, you have to spend money upfront and hope it will succeed. I will go into more details about my expenses in another post, but I’ll list them briefly today:

 

Buying the website for $2,500. This was the biggest expense we had. We could have built the website on our own but we had an offer where an existing membership website was already setup. The whole site wasn’t completed (far from it!) but the structure was in place. We basically bought a skeleton and added to put meat on the bones. It enabled us to save time wondering which software to use and how manage the members.

 

Time spent on the website: $2,366. This is the price of my own time put into this project. This is not real money as it didn’t come out of our pockets, but I believe one should assess how many hours are worked on something to determine if it was truly profitable or not. In this case, I valued my time at $30.33/hour and worked 78 hours on the site before launch date. Yeah… it was a lot of work!

 

Shutterstock images for $320.60. We used 2 packages of 25 images each to build our website. We decided to buy them through Shutterstock as it offers an amazing range of high quality and professional pictures/images/buttons. We especially used Shutterstock to create our navigation buttons. The good news is that we found a 30% coupon on the internet so we didn’t pay the full price. On top of this, we still have 17 images left from our second package for future projects.

 

Leadpages plugin for $197. Leadpages is an amazing plugin to create professional pages where users can sign-up for a newsletter. They have several templates (you can check them out here) and can be modified as you wish. The Leadpages purchase was necessary to generate a “warm mailing list” where I could let people know about my progress and pitch my service.

 

Fiverr work for $55. Before finding Shutterstock, I tried ordering buttons from designers on Fiverr. To be honest, the work was barely “okay” quality and it was definitely not a good fit for my site. Therefore, I can say that I threw $55 in the trash.

 

Total Expenses at $5,438. The number seems pretty high considering I’ve made $6,000 in 6 weeks. But 43.5% of our expense is time spent working on the site. The real required cash flow was $3,072. When I look back at this project, I can tell we could have dropped our expenses by a few hundred bucks. The $55 bucks in Fiverr was definitely a waste and could have managed with only 1 shutterstock package at $160.30 and use our images properly. I must confess I went a little bit trigger happy with the download button for nothing! Finally, if we hadn’t bought the website structure, we could have probably done it for under $1,000 instead of $2,500. However, it was our first membership site and we preferred to save time and go with something that was already working instead of trying to make it work on our own.

 

In all honesty, I think that if you start your own membership site, you can do it for under $1,500 (but be ready to work over 100 hours on it!).

 

I’ve compiled my cumulative gross revenues and added my expenses to calculate the net profit in the following graph. You will notice that I breakeven on the 6th week with a small profit of $149.10 as at January 19th.

 

How’s the net profit not over $600 since I’ve made slightly over $6,000 so far? This is because there are costs involved after you launch the site! I’ve worked a total of 18 hours after the launch to answer questions, improve the site and write monthly newsletters (2 so far). This added up to a virtual cost of $546. It’s not a real cost since I didn’t get paid for it, but I strongly believe you must take the value of your time into consideration when you are working to build passive income.

 

 

I expect to work about 12 hours per month on average for a total expense of $364/month. Since we control our own product, we don’t have to pay for any other monthly fees. Therefore, the total cost of maintaining the website over a year should be around $4,368.

If I really make it to total revenue of $26,773, I will make a net profit of $22,405. This is real passive income since I’ve already “paid” myself for the hours put into the work. The other way to calculate it would be to divided the total revenue by the hours I work instead of “paying me” for it. This would equal to $185.92/hour… not bad ;-)

 

ONE NICE THING THAT WILL HAPPEN IN DECEMBER

 

Since I launched the site in December 2013, it means that I will receive annual renewals in the last month of the year. I’ve made $4,351.80 in December from my annual subscriptions. Since I work very hard to provide a high level of service, I can conservatively expect to keep 75% of my members. This would add-up to another $3,263.85. This is where my buffer to make my 30K in products is.

 

Still, these are only numbers and projections. I will provide you with my complete plan to promote my website in the next article of this series. The work required prior to launch a website is nothing compared to the work required after you launch it! If I stop the promotion today, I will definitely not make 26K from my site this year.

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January 23, 2014, 6:53 am

Should I Get a Real Estate Agent?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Properties

 

 

Our feet are still stuck in two feett of snow but it’s time to think about what happens each spring: the largest number of real estate transactions. But here’s the catch; housing transactions conclude in spring, but they start in February. The best time to sell your house is definitely in February and March. This is when most people put their house up for sell in the hopes of finding a buyer quick enough to move in the spring or early summer time. As we approach the crucial moment to put a “for sale” sign in front of your home; the $20,000 question is: Should I Get a Real Estate Agent?

If you have read this blog in the past, you know that I’m not a big fan of realtors. However, I’ll put my assumptions aside and look at the reason why you should use a realtor and how you can put $20,000 worth of commissions directly in your pocket.

 

HOW CAN A REAL ESTATE AGENT HELP YOU SELL YOUR HOUSE?

 

By definition, a real estate agent will take care of selling your house including all the tasks involved such as:

Assessing the property value: researching for comparables and establishing the value of the property according to the current market.

Marketing the property: completing the listing on the internet, newspaper advertising, taking pictures, writing an attractive description).

Visiting the property with potential clients: arranging visits, answering questions, using his network to attract more potential clients.

Negotiating: receiving the offer of purchase from the buyer, negotiating with both the seller and the buyers. Offering support and facilitating the sale.

Legal protection & paperwork: technically, the real estate agent is not responsible for the legal aspects of the transaction. However, he uses proven legal documents drafted by his banner. He takes care of all paperwork including certificate of localization, offer and counter offer, conditions, seller’s declaration, etc.

 

As you can see, it’s not like the real estate agent doesn’t do anything to sell your house. He does some work and should get paid for it; I’m not arguing with that. However, I have a problem with the bill you have to pay. Since the realtor has to pay a commission to his banner and rent an office, the commission rate the seller pays is ridiculously high. For a house selling for $390,000 (which is about the average selling price in Canada according to the Canadian Real Estate Association), a 5% commission is worth $19,500. This amount is before taxes. When I look at my wallet with the seller’s perspective, it hurts to pay 20 grand for a single transaction.

 

CAN YOU SUCCESSFULLY SELL YOUR HOUSE ALONE?

 

The answer to the question “should I get a real estate agent? is answered  by another question: “can you successfully sell your house alone?. Since I’ve just outlined the main realtor’s tasks, let’s see if you can do all of them and keep the $20,000 in your pocket.

 

Assessing the property value: Assessing a property value isn’t that complicated. You look at your property in terms of neighborhood, equipment (central A/C, fireplace, central vacuum, garage, flooring, etc), number of bathrooms and general square footage. After a few hours, you will be able to find houses similar to yours and this will dictate the price you should sell at. Just ask yourself why someone would buy your house that is $20K higher than the neighbor’s house showing similar features. And don’t answer because your place looks better ;-).

Marketing the property: 85% of potential buyers look on the internet to filter properties. Therefore, if you are able to list your property on a few well-known websites, you can reach most of the market. Writing a description of your house is not rocket science either. Just read a few descriptions of houses similar to yours and you will see what is being highlighted.

Visiting the property with potential clients: This only requires that you answer the phone and schedule appointments. In fact, most potential buyers prefer to visit the house by themselves and will come to you if they have any questions. I don’t think I really need someone to tell me I’m entering the kitchen!

Negotiating: This is probably the part where taking a realtor seems appealing. In fact, it’s not. Most people hate negotiating and that includes you and your potential buyer. If you have done your research and pulled out valid comparables, you can simply sit down with your buyer and show him why you are selling at that price. Ask him to come with comparables that validate his rationale of offering you less. It is a bit painful, but keep in mind that you are doing this for $20K.

Legal protection & paperwork: Since the real estate agent is not legally responsible if there is a problem with the transaction, the legal protection is not as important as it may seem. Then, sites like By The Owner offer legal support and a set of drafted documents where you only have to fill in the blanks.

 

ABOUT MY OWN EXPERIENCE AND WHY I WILL NEVER TAKE A REALTOR AGAIN

 

I’ve sold two houses already. The first one was done with a realtor and the second one was sold on my own. I was only 23 when I bought my first house and dealing with a real estate agent was a complete nightmare.

#1 He confused both parties on the moving date (while insisting to be the middle man between the buyer and seller).

#2 He didn’t verify the certificate of localization (which was wrong and I had to run through various hassles to get it fixed).

#3 I didn’t sell my house at a higher price than the regular market (after doing my own research, I would have come up with the same price anyways)

#4 He cost me slightly over 10K (5% commission about 10 years ago)

 

But, I would be lying to you if I told you that selling my property by myself went smoothly and without hassles. After I saw the kind of service I had gotten using a Realtor, I decided to sell my second house by my own means and put in on the market with two different websites.

#1 I sold my house at the price I wanted (my house was listed in the same range as many other properties in my neighborhood)

#2 It took me 10 days to sell it (compared to 6 months with my previous house with a real estate agent)

#3 I went through rounds of irritating negotiations (the ugly part of selling on your own is when you come upon a fierce negotiator. The guy came back at each step of the sale to negotiate the price lower and being very negative about my house. It was irritating and I almost lost my temper at one point).

#4 No confusion with regards to moving, the transaction went smoothly (in the end, both the buyers and seller got their house on time and we all moved with smiles on our faces).

 

Overall, the process went relatively smooth in regards to the transaction but I had to deal with a tough buyer several times. It is true that I had to spend a few more hours to sell my house, but what is 20 hours compared to $18,000?

 

And this is my point: I understand the job done by a real estate agent but even though he works hard, the pay check is just too big for my pocket. What he does can definitely be done yourself without too much hassle. And if you hit a few road bumps in the process, ask yourself if they are worth 20K.

 

What do you think, should you get a real estate agent? Tell me about your story.

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