When to Compromise on your “Must-Have” List When you’re shopping for a new home, you’ll likely have a list of "must-haves" that are essential to your ideal living space. However, there are circumstances in which it may be worth compromising on your list of non-negotiables. Location While having four bedrooms or a large backyard may be high on your priority list, a desirable location with easy access to schools, work, and amenities could outweigh those specific features. Keep an open mind and consider adjusting your must-haves if it means securing a home in an ideal neighbourhood. Budget Sometimes, your dream home may exceed your price range. In such cases, it can be beneficial to explore properties that may lack a few desired features but offer the potential for customization or renovation in the future. This way, you can gradually transform the house into your dream home while staying within your financial means. Feeling What if you walk into a home and it just feels right, even though it’s lacking a feature on your must-have list? It might be worth going with that feeling. Keep in mind that what a property is lacking today may be remedied over time with improvements and renovations.
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5 Ways to Make your Next Home more Affordable Are you thinking about finding your next home? It can be tricky balancing what you want with what you can practically afford. Here are some tips that can make buying your dream home more doable: 1. Save for a larger down payment. A larger down payment can lower your monthly mortgage costs and possibly help you get a better interest rate. 2. Look at neighbourhoods that are less “in demand.” Some areas have the reputation of being desirable or exclusive and – as a result – expensive. But, there may be neighbourhoods that are not as indemand and yet ideal (and more affordable) for you. Explore that possibility. 3. Consider a fixer-upper. A home that needs some work may be more affordable, and you can save money by doing some of the renovations yourself. 4. Think about buying a smaller home. A smaller property can be more affordable and easier to maintain, especially if you’re downsizing. 5. Research mortgage options. Shop around for the best mortgage rates and consider different types of mortgages. A better mortgage rate and terms may make an out-of-reach home affordable for you. Any of these tips will help increase the probability that you’ll be able to buy your dream home at a price that works for you.
Staging the outside of your home when listing can improve curb appeal. Here are some simple techniques for doing just that
Low-Cost Staging Ideas for the Outside of your Home When it comes to selling your home, preparing the exterior can be just as important as preparing the interior. The outside of your home is the first thing potential buyers see, and it can greatly impact their first impression of your property. Luckily, there are several low-cost outdoor improvements that will make your home more appealing to buyers. First, consider adding some potted plants or flowers to your front porch or entryway. This can help add some colour and life to your home's exterior, and create a welcoming atmosphere for potential buyers. Even in winter, small potted evergreens can have an impact. Next, consider cleaning up your landscaping. This can include trimming overgrown bushes and trees, mowing the lawn, and removing any dead plants or debris. By doing so, you can make your home look well-maintained and attractive to potential buyers. You may also want to consider adding some outdoor lighting to your property. This can include adding some solar-powered lights along your driveway or walkway, or even adding some outdoor string lights to your patio or deck. Outdoor lighting can create an inviting atmosphere, and make your home look more attractive to potential buyers. Finally, consider giving your front door a fresh coat of paint. Your front door is a focal point of your home's exterior, and painting it will make a big difference. If you’re changing the colour, be sure to pick one that complements the façade. These outdoor improvements don’t cost much, but will increase your home's curb appeal, which is proven to help sell your property faster and for a better price. Need more advice on how to create the “wow” factor in your home when you sell? Call today!
Advantages of Buying a House that Needs Work There’s no doubt about it. Buying a home that is “move in ready” is a real convenience. All you need to do is get your belongings in place, and you’re ready to enjoy living in your new home. You don’t even need to paint. That’s why move-in-ready homes tend to attract more buyers. However, there are advantages to buying a property that needs work. And, if you’re currently shopping for a new home, a listing that requires some repairs, upgrades, or renovations might be worth considering. Why? Properties that need work tend to be priced lower than comparable movein-ready listings. Depending on market demand, the price savings can range from modest (just a few thousand dollars) to substantial. Also, homes that need work tend to attract fewer buyers and offers, so there’s less competition. Another advantage is the opportunity to get into a desirable area you otherwise might not have afforded. It might be worth the extra work you’d need to put into the home to live in your dream neighbourhood. But, while there are advantages, there are also important caveats. The first caveat is you must know the scope of work that is required before making any decision to purchase. How will you get the work done? How much will you need to budget for the improvements? Are you prepared for the realities of living in a property during renovations? The second caveat is you must anticipate any issues that can’t be seen during a typical viewing. The last thing you want is to pay for a major repair you weren’t expecting. That’s why getting a professional home inspection as a condition of your offer is often a good idea. There’s a lot to think about when you’re buying a “needs work” property. But, I can help you make an informed decision. Call today.
Is there an area you’ve targeted that’s become unaffordable? It might be worth taking a second look. Here’s why
Revisiting Previously Unaffordable Neighbourhoods Imagine you’d been keeping your eye on a desirable neighbourhood over the years. You had hoped that one day you could buy a home there. But, then you saw prices creeping up — to a point where they became unaffordable. “Oh well,” you’d thought. “I guess we won’t be moving there!” That scenario is familiar to many homeowners. In fact, you too may have been keeping your eye on a neighbourhood you’d love to get into but have decided it’s become too expensive. If that’s so, it might be worth taking a second look. The real estate market changes. One year an area might be a red-hot seller’s market with prices soaring. The next year, things may have cooled, and prices stabilized. That means the desirable neighbourhood you’ve been coveting might, today, be more affordable than you think. Prices might have become more reasonable. There might be more inventory (more homes for sale), giving you, the buyer, a competitive edge. And, don’t forget that your own property may have gone up in value, perhaps considerably. That means the money you make from selling your home may make buying in the desirable neighbourhood doable. It’s something to think about! So, if you’re dreaming of getting into a particular neighbourhood, don’t make assumptions about affordability. At least, not yet. Find out the current state of the market. You might be delighted to learn that the “un” has been dropped from the previously unaffordable for that area! Want to learn more? Call today.
Do you follow the national housing market news? If so, here’s an even more important market to follow
Know the Local Market when You Sell Are you thinking of selling your home this year? If so, you might be paying extra attention to housing market news covered by the regional and national media. While that news can be helpful information, it can sometimes say little about what’s happening in your particular neighbourhood. In fact, it’s possible for there to be a balanced market nationally or regionally, while at the same time your street may be experiencing a hot seller’s market! That’s why it’s important to understand what’s happening in your local “micro” housing market when you’re selling your home. What do you need to know about your local real estate scene? Here are a few questions to ask yourself: • Is our neighbourhood a seller’s, buyer’s, or balanced market right now? • If we list our home this month, will there be any competing listings in our area? If so, how many? • How long is the average listing in our area taking to sell? A week? A month? • How much are properties like ours in the neighbourhood selling for? • How desirable is our neighbourhood? How many buyers are actively looking to move here? Are there currently buyers eager to purchase a home like ours? • What are the demographics of buyers looking to buy in our neighbourhood? • How important is it to fix up and stage my home if I decide to sell? Getting these local insights will be far more helpful than the national news when you put your property on the market. So, find out what’s happening right here, in your neighbourhood. How do you do that? Call me today
Should you hire professional movers or save money doing the move on your own? Here’s what to consider
Moving Yourself vs. Hiring Professionals When you buy a new home and moving day is looming, it can be tempting to consider doing the move yourself. After all, by not hiring a moving company, you’re saving money. It is true, the DIY approach can lower your moving costs, which is money you can put towards needed fixes and upgrades to your new property. But, you’re also adding a lot of work! You’ll need to think about boxes, packing, truck rental, gas, lifting and lugging, friends who offer to help but bail last minute, and more. So, if you’re going to move yourself, plan carefully. Ensure you have all the boxes and packing supplies (tape, bubble wrap, etc.) you need. Most importantly, put together a reliable crew who can stick with you the entire day. In addition to family and friends, it might make sense to hire a worker for the day. If that all seems like too much work and hassle, then using a moving company is a time-saving option. Yes, you’ll pay more. But you’ll get professional movers, with a truck, who can do much of the lifting and lugging for you. That will take a lot of the stress out of moving day. And, keep in mind, you don’t need to get the moving company to do it all. You can cut costs by having them handle the heavier items, such as appliances and furniture, while you DIY-move other things, such as easier-tohandle boxes. Regardless of which option you choose, make your plans well in advance. When it comes to moving day, you’ll be glad you did! Want more tips on making buying and selling easier? Call today
Can You Afford the Home of your Dreams? Daydreaming about owning something you can’t afford can be fun. Whether it’s a diamond-encrusted watch from Tiffany & Co., or the latest Lamborghini, even the thought of trying one on or going for a test drive can be exciting. The problem with daydreaming, however, is that it’s all-too-easy to dismiss it as just that – a dream. But, what if you daydream about owning a beautiful home in a desirable neighbourhood? Before you dismiss that as just fanciful thinking, it’s worth finding out if that dream could actually be achievable. You might discover that you do qualify to get into the home of your dreams. It’s relatively easy to figure it out. First, you need to learn what homes are currently selling for in the neighbourhood you’re targeting. If you’ve been through that exercise already, keep in mind that the market might have changed substantially in the past few months. The next thing you need to determine is approximately how much you can expect to get for your current property. That’s a fairly easy calculation and is based on what “comparable” homes in your neighbourhood have sold for recently. Finally, you need to find out how much of a mortgage you may need and what your payments will likely be. Once you have those numbers, you’ll know if you can afford the home of your dreams in the neighbourhood you’d love to get into. Then you can stop daydreaming and make it happen!
Your Spring Yard Sale Checklist Thinking of having a yard or garage sale? It’s a great way to dispose of unwanted items and other clutter, especially if you’re thinking of moving. In addition, yard sales have a charm that selling items on the internet can’t match. That’s why they’re still so popular. If you’re planning a yard or garage sale, here are some helpful tips: • Two-thirds of garage sale shoppers will find you via signage. So, be sure to place plenty of signs around the neighbourhood that clearly point buyers to your location. • Place in-demand items closer to the street so shoppers can see them from a distance. (For example, computers, electronic games, bicycles, exercise equipment, furniture.) • Buyers don’t want to pay a “fair” price at a garage sale. They want a bargain basement deal! So, price items accordingly. • Open early in the day. You’ll find that the biggest shoppers (the deal hunters) will stop by before 9 a.m. Some will be there before you open! • Be sure to have some cash on hand to make change. Of course, you should also be as safe as possible and comply with all applicable public health guidelines. If some items don’t sell, consider donating them to a community thrift shop or dropping them off at a recycling centre. Good luck with your sale!
Should You Worry about Competing Listings? Imagine you've been waiting for the right moment to sell your home and you're finally ready to pull the trigger and list it. But, just as you're about to put up the sign, you notice that a few other FOR SALE signs have unexpectedly popped up in the neighbourhood. Oh no! Now there are competing listings. Does that mean you should put your plan to sell your property on hold? Not necessarily. Just because comparable homes are for sale in the area doesn't mean it's not a good time to make your move. In fact, even if there is a sharp increase in local listings, active buyers might still outnumber properties available. In that scenario, you'd likely get several interested buyers. And, even in the case of a buyer's market, now might still be the ideal time to sell. Don't forget, your home might have desirable features that some buyers are eagerly looking for, giving your home the advantage over others on the market. In addition, a large part of a successful sale is in how a property is marketed and promoted. With effective marketing, your home is more likely to be noticed by the right type of buyers... buyers who are actively looking for a property like yours. So, waiting for the perfect moment to sell your home rarely makes sense. In most cases, the best time to list is now. That being said, it is helpful to find out exactly what to expect should you list your property in today's market. To find that out, call today.
Get your Spring Cleaning Done in Half the Time Spring cleaning can seem like a great idea until you actually get started. Then it often turns out to be more work than expected! The good news is, there are proven techniques to make the job easier so you can get it done faster. • Before you begin the project, make sure you have everything you need: hammer, boxes, tape, garbage bags, etc. Think of the supplies you’ll need on hand and the tools that will make tasks easier. You don’t want to have to waste time on frequent trips to the store. • Consider renting a small moving trolley (AKA hand truck.) That will make it much easier to move heavy objects, such as furniture, as you’re cleaning. Most local home improvement centres rent these. • Plan how you’re going to dispose of waste and unwanted stuff. Find out where you can donate clothes, toys, furniture, and other items. Note the location of your local garbage disposal site and its hours of operation. • Divide tasks into “Heavy work” and “Light work” and then do the heavy work first, such as moving furniture, reorganizing rooms, etc. Only after completing the heavy work should you dive into the “light work”, such as packing boxes and sweeping. • Consider getting help. There are many services available that will assist with cleaning, painting, junk removal, repairs, and more. You can even hire a student to assist you for a weekend. Spring cleaning can be a big project, but these tips can help make it a lot easier. And, keep in mind that if you’re thinking of selling this year, getting the spring cleaning done will be a big plus
Selling Later in the Year? Start the Process Now Imagine you want to take the “trip of a lifetime” this fall. Would you leave it until the summer to start planning, booking dates, and generally getting ready? Probably not. A trip like that is a big deal. You’d want to start making arrangements now, so by the time you’re ready to go to the airport, everything will be set for you and your family to have a great time. The same is true when selling your home. If you intend on listing your property in the spring or summer, now is the time to start making plans. Starting the process early in the year gives you four significant advantages: 1. Ample time to prepare your home. Starting now gives you time to declutter your property, get needed repairs done, and otherwise make your home ready to be seen by buyers. 2. Less stress. Unless you enjoy scrambling to get things done within a tight timeline, you want to give yourself as much time as possible to prepare for your home sale without the stress of a tight timeline. Starting early gives you that. 3. Listing date flexibility. Starting now means you’ll likely get your property prepared for the sale early in the year. Sure, your plan might be to list in the summer. But, if the market changes or some other opportunity presents itself, you’ll be able to list sooner. Your home will be ready. 4. More time to find your next home. If you’ll also be looking for a new home, starting the process now will give you more time to explore neighbourhoods, get financing arranged, and determine the ideal type of home for you. As you can see, it pays to start the process now, even if you won’t be selling until spring or summer.
Getting the “Inside Scoop” on a Listing Throughout the history of journalism, reporters would pride themselves on getting the “inside scoop” on a story. In fact, that’s where that expression came from. So imagine you’re shopping for a new home and click on a listing online. Up comes all the property information. But, chances are, there is more to the story of that property than is presented in that listing. For example, you might want to know more about: • The empty field behind the home. • The addition that was added to the house. (Was it professionally done?) • What the neighbourhood is really like. • The age of the roof shingles. (Will they need to be replaced soon?) • Noise levels on weekends. • Upcoming new development that might change the character of the area. Most property information listed on MLS and elsewhere is incomplete. There’s almost always more to the story of a listing than you can find online. And, even after viewing a listed property, you may still have lingering questions or concerns. So, you’ll want to get the “inside scoop” and find out more. But how? To get the inside scoop on a listing, call me. I can get the additional information you need on a property so that you can make a more informed decision.
Pulling Together the Records you Need when Selling Imagine you’re viewing a home for sale. You venture to the basement, check out the furnace room, and notice the water heater. Is it owned or rented? As a potential buyer, you’d want to know. Now imagine a property you’re viewing has a brand-new gas fireplace. Nice! Is it under warranty? Is that warranty transferrable to you if you buy the home? Again, you’d want to know. So, when you’re selling, it’s important to pull together all the necessary records you will need in order to answer these types of buyer questions. After all, if a particular warranty transfers to the new owner, that’s a selling point. Take the time to find receipts, warranty certificates, and other documents related to: • Renovations (such as a bathroom makeover) • Major repairs or replacements (such as a new air conditioner) • Service prepayments (such as a lawncare service paid annually) • Purchases of major appliances and other items Keep in mind that you may have purchased extended warranties or maintenance agreements at the time of purchase. Those may transfer to the new owner. Also note that some guarantees or service agreements transfer automatically while others require the new owner to initiate that transfer. These documents could potentially add a few more benefits to buying your home. So, it’s worth the time it takes to dig them out!
Buying the Home Everybody Wants When you’re shopping for a home, you may become interested in a property for sale that someone else is also considering. In fact, there may be several other buyers entertaining the idea of making an offer. In such a competitive situation, what should you do if you really love that home? Obviously, you’ll need to move quickly and make some fast decisions. Start by making certain the property fits within your price range. The last thing you want is to have an offer accepted and find out it is beyond your budget. That’s why it’s a good idea to arrange for financing before you go home shopping. Next, you want to make an offer that is so enticing to the sellers that they’ll put your offer at the top of the pile, if not close to it. So, what makes an offer enticing? Obviously, price is a big factor. You want to go in at a price that’s attractive to the sellers, without overpaying. Imagine finding out later that the nearest offer to yours was $15,000 less. Ouch! Chances are your offer price will need to be at or slightly above asking. Find out what similar homes in the area recently sold for — what real estate agents call “comparables” — and use those as a guide. It’s also important that your offer contains few, if any, issues that may be concerning to the sellers. The ideal offer will feature: • No conditions. • A closing date that’s convenient for the seller. • A deposit amount that shows you’re a serious buyer. • Acceptance of any of the buyer’s “exclusions”. (For example, they want to take the fridge and stove with them.) • Evidence you can get financing. (Many lenders offer a “Mortgage Preapproval Certificate”.) Although a “no conditions” offer is the most attractive, including a condition on passing a professional home inspection is usually not a problem, so long as the inspection is done quickly. Avoid adding other conditions, such as “subject to financing approval” or “subject to the sale of buyer’s existing property”. If you want to increase the likelihood that you’ll find — and, more importantly, get — your next dream home, call today.
5 Ways to Add Fun to the Selling Process When you think about selling your property, do you dwell on the possible work and stress involved? You're not alone. Many homeowners share the same concerns. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, there are plenty of ways to add some fun, anticipation, and even a sense of adventure to the selling process. Here are just a few ideas: 1. Plan fun things to do when your home is being shown. That can include walks, sports activities, or trying something you and your family have never done before. 2. Declutter for your own benefit. Instead of thinking about decluttering as a chore required for the sale, focus instead on how much more comfortable your home will be after decluttering. Studies consistently show that less clutter reduces stress and increases a sense of wellbeing. 3. Get everyone in your home anticipating the move in a positive way. Put pictures of your next home, including neighbourhood shots, on the fridge door. Sit together on the computer and explore your new neighbourhood's features and amenities. 4. Celebrate milestones in the selling process. For example, when you're finished preparing your property for sale, go out to celebrate. Make a checklist of milestones and how you'll celebrate each one. 5. Get the help you need. A big part of the stress of selling is the anticipated work involved. Remember, you don't have to do it all yourself. Much of what needs to be done can be handled by contractors and other professionals. There are many other ways to make selling your home a positive and turbulentfree experience. Give me a call if you'd like more ideas and suggestions.
Front Walkway Improvements that Boost Curb Appeal Your front walkway is one of the first sections of real estate a buyer will set foot on when coming to see your home. So, it makes sense to make that pathway to your front door as appealing as possible. The obvious way is to make it as clean and clear as you can. Ensure there are no obstacles in the way, such as overhanging branches, kid's toys, or potted plants. What you want is a clear, unobstructed and pleasant walk to your main entranceway. If your walkway needs deeper cleaning, consider a powerwash. There are special detergents available that are designed specifically for stone, asphalt or cement walkways and other outdoor surfaces. A deep cleaning isn't a major project. In most cases, the job can be done within an hour. Yet, the result can be stunning. If you're selling in the spring or summer, another way to make your walkway look better is to add flowers or other plants along the sides. Don't overdo it. You only need a few flowers or a couple of shrubs to make a big difference. The great thing about adding a few flowers or shrubs is the impact they can have on your entire frontage making it more attractive, and adding to your home's overall curb appeal. Making your walkway look better may seem minor, but keep in mind that when buyers make their way to your front door, they're forming their first and often most important impression of your property. The walkway plays a small but important role in making it a good one. Want more ideas for making your home show better, so it sells quicker and for a higher price? Call me.
Start the Home Selling Process this Month If you’re thinking about selling in the spring, don’t wait until the new year to start planning. In fact, you’ll save yourself a lot of work and get ahead of the game if you start planning now. What’s that old saying? The early bird gets the worm! In this case, by starting the process this month, you’ll be in excellent shape when you’re ready to list in the spring. Here are just a few examples of what you can do in December to get the process started: • Walk your property and note any maintenance issues that need attention. • Decide which items to stow or sell to declutter your home. • Determine what improvements you’ll need to make in order for your home to look great to buyers (i.e. painting.) • Find out approximately how much your property will likely sell for in the spring market. • Clarify the kind of new home you’d like to move into, including ideal neighbourhoods. • Look into your financing options, so you’ll know the price range you’ll be shopping within. • Connect with any professionals you may need, such as contractors, a mover, and a real estate lawyer. • Take advantage of any December shopping deals for products you may need, such as home improvement project materials, packing supplies, etc. As you can see, the more prepared you are this month, the more stress-free and successful the home selling process will be for you in the spring. And one more tip: contact me to get the conversation started about selling your home in the new year. It’s coming fast!
Cleaning Tips for Instantly Improving Curb Appeal As you may know, curb appeal refers to how your property looks from the street, where potential buyers first see it. Your home’s curb appeal can have a big impact on the sale of your property. In fact, it's not uncommon for a buyer to drive by a listing, rather than stop, because they don't like what they see. So, how can you improve your home's curb appeal quickly? One way is to do some outside cleaning. Start with the main entryway. Wash down the front door and sweep (or power wash) the front steps. It only takes a few minutes but you'd be surprised by the impact it can have. Sweep or power wash your walkway too and you’ll improve the overall look of your home — sometimes dramatically. Clean your front windows to brighten the look of your home’s facade. It doesn't have to be an arduous chore. In fact, there are washing products available that attach to your garden hose. You don't even need a ladder! Ask your local home improvement retailer for recommendations. If you have hedges and scrubs, give them a trim. To keep your trimming level, use a wide board, or even a piece of cardboard, then cut to the desired height. Pull off any dead leaves or branches. Of course, also mow the lawn! Finally, inspect your property from the street. Can you see anything else you can do to quickly improve the look? Do you notice anything that is unsightly or distracting, such as garbage bins that could be relocated? One final tip: When a viewing is scheduled, remove your vehicles from the driveway. Buyers like to see an empty driveway because it helps them imagine themselves living there. It also gives them a convenient place to park!
How to Get Front-of-the-Line Access to Desirable Homes for Sale As you've probably noticed, credit card companies regularly offer bonuses to get you to apply for their cards. For example, one such card company offers opportunities to buy tickets to concerts and other events ahead of everyone else. It's their "front of the line" service. When you’re searching for a new home, wouldn't it be great if you could get to the front of the line on desirable properties – before other buyers get the chance? Well, in a way, you can. The first thing you need to do is create a profile for the specific type of home you're looking to buy. That profile will need to include the basics, such as type of home (e.g. detached), size and rooms (e.g. 2000-2,500 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 2 baths), and your target neighbourhoods. You'll also want to add any additional features you're looking for, such as a finished basement or in-ground pool. Next, you want to work with a real estate agent like me who understands the local market and can arrange for you to receive immediate alerts for newly listed homes that meet your criteria. It's not uncommon for homes to become available for sale before the listing information gets published on the MLS. In fact, in some circumstances, it could take a couple of days before such listings become available online. So, if you get an alert soon after a listing comes on the market, you get a head-start on seeing that home and making an offer. And, you don't need to apply for a special credit card to make that happen! Just give me a call. I can help you find the right home for you.