Are there good schools in Kitchener? And other Questions from the Chat Widget: Part One

real estate questionsLots of people have lots of questions about real estate. Questions about good schools, crime, Kitchener Waterloo neighbourhoods and commissions are common.

Earlier this year, I installed a chat widget on my website. It doesn’t work perfectly. Sometimes there is a time lag and by the time I get the message, the visitor is gone. Sometimes it’s a crank chatterer or a troll of some kind. But mostly it is genuine, and often it will lead to a online and sometime offline discussion.  I can turn it on and off depending on how busy I am.

Just like in school, I think if one person has a question, others do as well. Here are some of the recent questions from the chat widget.


Question about safety

CW: I’d like to know if the neighbourhood around 404 King Street, Kitchener is good or bad?

KM: Is that King East or West?

CW: West.

KM: That’s good and will only get better. Are you interested in the Kaufman Lofts or the new condo – Victoria One, which is going in there?

CW: Kaufman. Do you know if it’s a good building?

KM: Yeah. It’s very popular. It will be great in a few years when the LRT and transportation hub are completed.

CW: I was worried that it was not safe.

KM: Downtown Kitchener isn’t great but this end of town is OK. Can I ask you a question?

CW: Sure

KM: Are you looking for a place with an urban lifestyle or are you looking for an investment property? Either way, Kaufman would be a solid choice.

CW: We want an urban lifestyle but safety is very important to us. We currently live in North York.


Question about kidnapping

I had another crime and safety question to the widget. At first I thought it was a crank but I answered honestly and I guess it wasn’t.

CW: What are the kidnapping statistics in Kitchener?

KM: I don’t think we have statistics on that. Try the WRPS website.

CW: OK. Thanks.

Why would anyone want to know this? I haven’t heard of any kidnappings.



Question about commission

Last month when we were listing a house for sale, the question of commission was broached. I was surprised again how misunderstood by the public at large commissions are. But then I thought, “Most people may buy their first house when they are in their late 20’s or early 30’s but they may not sell their first house until they are in their 40’s, 50’s or even 60’s. If this is the first time they’ve had to think about commissions, they simply would not know”.

I learned last year that there are a lot of different formulas to calculating commissions. On Vancouver Island, the Realtor helping my mom had a structure that was 6% of the first $200,000 and 2% of the next $100,000…or something complicated like that.

In Kitchener Waterloo the normal commission is 5%, split evenly between the listing brokerage and the co-operating brokerage.

CW: I have a question about the co-operating brokerage commission under Form 200. If the listing agent chooses the option to pay the co-op brokerage as 2.5% of the sale price of the property. Does this mean I have to pay the listing agent commission of 6% + 2.5% or does the 2.5% come from the 6%?

KM: The co-operating brokerages commission comes from inside the listing brokerages commission. The listing brokerage pays the co-operating brokerage.

CW: Okay thanks. I guess it was a bit confusing because there was a second option my agent could have filled out which was “or X out of the commission the Seller pays the listing Listing Brokerage”. I suppose that would have been selected with a dollar value if we were paying a set commission vs. a % of sale price, correct?

KM: That’s right. In Ontario, agents can now charge a percentage or a flat rate or a combination of both.


Another commission question

CW: What is the minimum commission an agent can charge?

KM: An agent could sell your house for $1.

CW: Then why do you charge so much?

KM: It is the way the real estate business is set up. Personally, I think the whole industry is in need of a major disruption but until that happens, agents can only negotiate their commissions within the parameters of what their brokerages allow. Discount brokerages are having a hard time surviving because they can’t seem to generate the volume of business needed to sustain a 1% or flat fee commission structure.


Question about sale price

CW: I’m looking for the sale price of single detached homes in Saddleridge, Calgary N. E. for the past 12 months.

KM: You’ll have to contact your local real estate board for those stats.

Real estate boards keep all of the local statistics for home sales in the local market. The easiest way to access them is through a local realtor.


Questions about neighbourhoods and schools

CW: I’m looking for the best elementary school in Kitchener.

KM: Laurelwood has the highest rankings

CW: Is it private of public?

KM: Public. Is one of the best schools in Ontario

CW: How about Mary Johnson?

KM: Also good and in my opinion a nicer neighbourhood. Empire is good too.

CW: Would you know about the student-teacher ratio?

KM: No. You’ll have to call the schools about that. I would guess 25-1. If you want smaller class size, you should check out Rockway. I think their ratio is about 15-1.

CW: Those three schools you mentioned are all in Waterloo. Are there good schools in Kitchener?

KM: Brigadoon is good.

CW: I would prefer a good neighbourhood.

KM: Brigadoon is in the Doon neighbourhood. It’s good. Generally, schools and neighbourhoods go hand in hand. If the school is good, so is the neighbourhood.

This conversation continued, talking about neighbourhoods: Beechwood, Laurelwood, UpTown/Westmount, Clair Hills, Columbia Forest, prices and amenities. I like it when home buyers focus on neighbourhood and lifestyle first and house second.


And finally some comedy

CW: I caught my (you know what) in the dishwasher. Any suggestions?

KM: Stay away from the dishwasher.


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