Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sellers Were Asking: Too Many Treasures

Frequently we run across a disappointed buyer who hardly looks at a house we thought she'd fall in love with because all her attention is caught by an abundance of stuff. Can a house actually be too well decorated?  Usually not, but it can be too full of stuff, even though it is excellent stuff. 
It's difficult to tell people they simply have too much, that less, in home selling is always more.  A buyer must be able to assess a home's suitability in typically less than an hour (I book a house per half hour).  And, in a hot market, they've got to act fast.  Often, there's not enough time to go back for a second look.  It makes their job so much more difficult when they can't see past the knick knacks to determine whether the kitchen has room for a high chair.  
So, what's a seller to do?  Reduce the collectibles.  If you're serious about selling keep in mind you're going to have to start packing sooner or later.  So, start sooner.  It may be you have too many pictures in a small room.  Removing some will only make the room look more spacious.  Kitchen counters look more generous if most of the appliances, bowls, bottles and notepads are gone.  Even an over-magneted refrigerator door can be distracting.  
If we can help, give us a call!

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Christmas Story: My Two Moms


As I watch our families gather for this year's Christmas celebration, I marvel at my Mom's ability to greet each family member with a mixture of sheer joy and in the next moment, utter confusion.  The memories come flooding back through music and dance.  So, every second Friday, my brothers Mo and Mark take her to the Legion for a fish n' chip dinner and dancing to all the old music she knows by heart.  Mo dances well, keeping step with her agile grace.  I, on the other hand, am admonished with the...One, Two, Three...One, Two, Three...of the ever patient teacher, who now openly informs me I am not as good a dancer as my eldest brother.  I am slowly meeting the two faces dementia is evolving in my Mom.  Some, quite comical, if you know my quirky sense of humour, the other, saddens me as I am reminded daily of her struggle to cover up the lapses quickly eluding her.  She now is 89 and holding strong in her 94 year old self.  My wish for her to remain 89 comes with a slap with all the frightened questions now arising.  'Where are we going?', 'Who are those men?', and the funny announcement that brother Mo put the wrong number on her birthday cake...yet again this year.  She whispers, 'we won't say anything, best not to embarrass him'.  

She loves her great grand children even though she asks "who do they belong to?". Our Christmas celebration came early this year and we coupled it with birthday celebrations. Sherry's Dad's legacy lived on in a railway train cake with a car for each birthday celebrant. We were also joined by Sherry's brother Rick, Mom, and nieces Caitlin and Jenna with their spouses Adam and John, along with cousins Norrie and Paula, whose Mom, my Aunt Nora also suffers from this unwelcome affliction.  Music and song provided by Rick Hill, much to the delight of grandsons Calvin and Grayson who happily danced to Christmas tunes. Sadly, as in many family celebrations, some family members choose to stay away and are missed.  As each year ticks on by, the realization that life is short and yet life lives on by what you do for and to others while you still can. 

May your family come together to celebrate the passing of 2015 and the opening life 2016 will offer.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Buyers Were Asking: Complex Concerns - Empty Nester

For the empty nester, the prospect of moving into a town home complex is often met with anxiety...
  • What if I hate living in such close quarters?  
  • Condo fees are a waste of money.  
  • I'll never fit all my stuff in!  
RELAX...  Too many people get all worked up at even the prospect of selling the family home and then a year later, after the condo move, will tell us they should have done it years sooner.  You really owe it to yourself to at least take a look first and then make the decision that best suits you.  By investigating all your options, you'll at least increase your choices rather than just deciding that this is not at all an option.  

It's really about quality of life, isn't it?  Take a drive through complexes you think might be to your liking.  Drive through at 9 AM, 12:00 PM, 3:30 PM and 10 PM.  You'll see first hand what is happening in the neighbourhood...
  • Are there lots of little children playing in the playgrounds?  
  • Are the grounds in good repair?  
  • Is the complex in a neighbourhood you are familiar with?  
  • Is there enough parking?  
If you're having trouble settling on a complex to start looking into, view units in different complexes.  That way, you're broadening your options.  Once you've settled on a specific complex, ask your sales rep to show you all of the available homes within the complex.  You can then start narrowing down the floor plan which best suits your needs.  Maybe you want a finished basement for your new found hobbies.  Maybe you prefer to finish it yourself so that you can ensure it is to your specific tastes and needs.  

If you decide, nope, you really would prefer a smaller home, then, that's ok too.  At least you've investigated your options!  
If we can help, please give us a call! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

You Were Asking: Damage Caused by Grow Ops

If you are an unfortunate landlord who has leased property to individuals running a grow op, dependent on the length of operational time, your property may have already undergone major damage. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the average claim to repair the damage caused is $41,000.  
If you own investment property, realize that even units located in high-rise buildings have been found to attract marijuana grow operations.  You need to be extremely cautious when qualifying your new tenants.  The Canadian Real Estate Association offers the following guidelines for your protection:
  • Third party tenancy agreements
  • Questionable income sources
  • Offers to pay in large amounts of cash
  • Monthly cash rental payments
  • Secretiveness 
  • Poor credit worthiness

Although you may want to save yourself commission dollars in renting your investment property yourself, Realtors are trained to look for questionable signs and will be verifying credit worthiness.  Why risk your investment?

Friday, December 4, 2015

You Were Asking: Open Houses

Our sellers have mixed feelings about open houses, some want them, some don't.   When sellers ask if they're productive the answer is, "Yes, open houses work to expose your home to a lot of potential buyers in a two hour time frame.”  Consider it a ‘bulk’ showing.  Here are some guidelines for running a successful open house:
Seller: Your role is to polish the place, pull back the drapes (unless there's a used car lot next door), turn on all the lights, turn off the TV and the dishwasher, get rid of the kids and the dog, and above all.....Get out of the house and leave it to your sales rep.  You'll only inhibit prospects who want to look the place over carefully. 
Buyers: Don't hesitate to visit, even if you're not yet ready to buy.  You will begin to educate yourself and see what is available.  Stay within your price range. Don't be worried if you're asked to sign in, if you're already working with a sales rep., say so.  If it were your home, wouldn't you want people to identify themselves before they entered?  And, of course, take your shoes off, don't smoke, and, restrain your children.
Neighbours: You needn't be embarrassed about entering.  Neighbours are often instrumental in assisting in the sale.  You may know a friend or relative who loves the area and street.  By previewing the home for them early, you may give them advanced feedback on the benefits and features.
Sales Reps: Come prepared.  Do you have enough information sheets?  Are you fully aware of recent activity in the area?  Are you prepared to describe this home's benefits over the competition's?  Show the home, point out benefits of the property and area.  Don't stay in one room just waving the people through.  When you leave, turn lights off, check the doors and leave some feedback for the sellers advising how the open house went.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sellers Were Asking: Empty Nest?

Many of us are now at an age where children are beginning to leave home and make lives of their own. So, what are you going to do with all of those spare bedrooms? 
One option is to downsize. Sell the family home and move into a smaller home, perhaps a townhouse or condo apartment. Many empty nesters are also turning to renovations and are coming up with a variety of ideas to efficiently use all that empty space. A home office is one idea. Many people are retiring and turning to independent consulting and need a room to work. 
For those who prefer hobbies, leave the dining room table for eating and take it upstairs. Create a work room for scrap booking, painting and sewing for all those new grandchildren. Or fight the middle-aged spread with an exercise room. 
If you do spend a lot of time with grandchildren, consider turning an old bedroom into a playroom. Paint the walls in colourful designs. This prevents the spread of toys to the entire house. 
Or, take down a wall and enlarge your master. Get the bathroom of your dreams and add a sitting area for reading. 
The choice is yours and the options endless! You can always simply redecorate current bedrooms and keep them for when the children come home again. Only to visit, of course!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Sellers Were Asking: The Dreaded Linen Closet

When selling your home, every little detail counts and that includes a clean and tidy linen closet. You'd better believe potential buyers will look into every nook and cranny and that definitely includes closets! The linen closet tends to be a catch all, particularly when storage is at a premium. Linens, unused pillows, towels, board games, old toiletries and much more often ends up here. 

To start the tidy up, empty your closet and separate items. Put all bed linens together, all towels together etc, until the closet is entirely empty. Then start to weed out. Ask yourself:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Can this be stored elsewhere?
  • When did I last use it?
  • When will I ever use it again?
Then, make a clean sweep. Be brutal. Really. How many ratty old towels do you really need? 

Ideally, once finished all that remains should be linens you actually have use for. Then, pile in neat rows so potential buyers will not only stand in awe at the spaciousness of your closet, but will marvel at what a wonderful housekeeper you are.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sellers Were Asking: A Memorable Home

A Memorable Home

When potential buyers view your home, you want them to leave excited and thinking "I could definitely live here!"

Vendors need to make their houses memorable and one of the best ways to do this is to keep it as clean and neat as is humanly possible. Scrub the house from top to bottom and hire a cleaning service to help if you don't have the time to do it yourself. 
A freshly painted and washed exterior can do wonders if it was previously looking old and tired. Powerwash vinyl siding and mow the lawn. Clean up spider webs, clean windows until they sparkle and make sure all toys and tools are put away. You don't want potential buyers to trip. 
Make a statement right away with a welcoming entranceway. Each room can adopt its own personality without becoming too dramatic. Make sure the hardwood gleams and add a coat of paint where necessary as it does wonders for little work and expense. 
The kitchen is especially important. Clear away all clutter, fix leaky faucets and change hardware for an inexpensive facelift. 
Of course, there's always the old standby - flowers. A tasteful floral arrangement will brighten any room. 
Give us a call if we can help you!
If you're looking for some referrals, to help you get the work done, visit our directory of preferred contacts on our website! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Buyers Were Asking: Debt Reduction

One of the most exciting facts about buying a home is that you're now about to start building equity, ensuring your money now begins to work for you.  With that said, you might be a little concerned over this huge debt you've just taken on.  
There are ways though that you can effectively manage your debt(s).  Before agreeing to sign on with a lender, ask lots of questions about the prepayment options.  One of the best ways to decrease your debt and to reduce your interest costs is to increase the frequency of your payments.  Not only will you pay less in interest, you will pay the debt off faster.  
Contrary to popular belief, paying your mortgage off as quickly as you can is not always your smartest plan.  What?  Yes, you read correctly.  Pay off your most expensive debt first.  Often, this is your visa.  The debt you want to attack is the one with the highest interest rate.  If you're prone to run a balance on the visa, use the money you were going to throw on the mortgage to eliminate the visa debt and then, keep it under control.  Get in the habit of paying the balance of your visa when the bill comes in.  
Once you've paid off your most expensive debt, apply the same strategy to your next highest debt and so on until you've worked through all debts but the mortgage.  Once you've learnt to keep your highest interest rate debts under control, you can then begin to plan to escalate that debt reduction.  
Good luck and good planning!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Buyers Were Asking: What To Do Before You Buy a House

Many potential first time home buyers are full of questions....
  • Will prices continue to increase at current rate?
  • Will interest rates also increase and by how much?
  • Will the economy continue to do well?
Such questions can definitely be overwhelming. If you're thinking about buying a home in 2016, there are a few preparations that should be made. If you know where you want to buy, log onto the MLS to familiarize yourself with house prices in that area. Determine how much will be needed for a down payment and approximately how much your monthly payments will be. Make a budget now with that in mind and live as if you have a mortgage and taxes to pay. Put money into a bank account to use toward a down payment. Avoid making major purchases as not only will it add to your debt load, but may cause the bank to reduce the mortgage amount offered. 

Most important, get pre-approved. This will give you the benefit of knowing what your price range is and will prove an asset when you make an offer as sellers look more favourably on those who have been pre-approved as opposed to those who have not. Give us a call if we can help you!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Buyers Were Asking: Are You Ready to Buy?


Buying a home is an enormous responsibility and most people go back and forth before they make the final decision to purchase.  Even once the final decision is made, it's perfectly normal to feel unsure of the decision.  You may be asking yourself:
  • "Am I making the right choice?"
  • "Am I really ready to buy my first home?"
  • "Should I sell and purchase a larger home?"
  • "Is it really time to downsize?"
To help put your mind at ease, there are certain details people who are ready to buy will recognize. They usually have been following the market and know what type of home they want and approximately how much they will have to pay for it. They also have a good indication of what they can expect to get for their current home if they have one to sell. People who are ready to purchase also are generally aware of their financial situation and what they can spend. Of course, the best indicator is enough money for a down payment and closing costs and the always important preapproval from the bank. In that case, it's time to go home shopping. Give us a call if you're ready to start looking!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

As a young boy I can remember going to Sunnybrook Veterans hospital to visit my Dad who constantly seemed to be having an "operation" to relieve the pain from his war wounds. At the time it was hard for me and my 3 brothers to understand why my father was in so much pain, always took prescribed drugs, or seldom was able to play ball with us. Hockey and golf were out of the question. He had served in France, survived Dunkirk. Then commando trained in Scotland while everyone waited for the invasion that was to come. Dispatched to North Africa to join the battle against Rommel. My father never really talked about what happened, until near his death. History tells us that the battle of El Alamein was a great victory for the Allied forces. There were 12 days of fierce fighting from late October to early November 1942. Casualties were high and the victory was significant. Churchill was to say, "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat."
That victory for my dad meant: capture, escape, and a life filled by 38 operations in an attempt to stop the constant pain, plus his final battle with Melanoma. There was no such thing as sun bloc in those days for the fair haired boys in the tropic sun.
Diagnosed as terminal my dad called me and we spoke about how he would like to die and be remembered. He asked that he not be kept alive if he was not able to think and reason. He said to me ' I am at peace with my God and myself. When the time comes... lets me go." When I asked what he meant by "at peace" he told me that war is hell and although he had suffered all of his adult life he was able to see his four boys grow up...but because of his actions many men never don't take prisoners when you are behind enemy lines blowing up fuel depots and poisoning watering holes...everything dies. I cannot begin to image the frequent nightmares my father had....He asked me to maintain a membership in the legion and to honour all soldiers from all wars. He wrote on his final note to me "We fought so you could live in freedom."
Thank you Dad and thank you to all those who choose to serve in our armed forces.
On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour take 2 minutes to say thanks. For although they may be gone they are not forgotten. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sellers Were Asking: Why Price is Key to Selling Your Home

The period of best opportunity for selling a home at a reasonable price is the first four weeks after it is put on the market.  Buyers who have seen most available listings are waiting for just the right house to come on the market.  If your house is priced right from the start, you are in the best position to attract the maximum number of buyers able to pay the price your home is worth, and to sell your home within your timetable.  If your home is priced right, buyers will take notice and you may end up with competitive bids.  If your house is overpriced, lookers are apt to wait until you decide to decrease the price, or, may opt to purchase another home they feel is priced with the current market in mind.  You may lower your price later, but by that time you will have missed many of the most interested buyers.  So, how do you set the right price?  Arriving at an asking price involves up to the minute research and experienced judgement.  Besides enlisting a Realtor's help in checking out the current real estate market conditions and financing trends, the basic steps include:
<     Measuring your home against similar neighbourhood homes that have recently been sold or are currently on the market.
<        Determining what features make your house stand out among others currently on the market.  After all, buyers are comparison shoppers.
<        Weighing the spending of a reasonable amount of money on cosmetic fix-ups that might enhance the marketability of our house and earn the highest possible sales price.

The right price is usually within 5% of market value (a constantly changing factor) and usually results in a fair dollar sale within a reasonable amount of time.  If we can help, please call.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sellers Were Asking: Hiring a Contractor

The Fall market is upon us and those of you who are thinking of selling are likely wandering around your houses making lists of items which require your attention.  The challenge becomes how to get your home ready for market before the busy season is gone.  Hiring a contractor becomes a viable option.  The search starts.  Now, just like I suggest with hiring a Realtor, you should obtain three quotes.  Seek recommendations from friends or neighbours.  Here are some questions you can ask to satisfy yourself that you will hire the right contractor:
<        How many projects similar to mine have you completed?  Can I visit the completed jobs?
<        Do you have references?
<        What kind of insurance do you carry?
<        Who will do the actual work?
<        What are your regular work hours?
<        How long will it take you to complete the project?
<        Will you provide a written contract?

The contract you obtain should stipulate a start date and date of completion.  It should give you the right to cancel within a short period before the work commences, say three days after you sign.  It must stipulate how the contractor will be paid.  Never pay the full amount in advance. It is recommended that you pay for one-third when the contractor starts the job, another third when the job is 50 percent completed, and the final payment upon completion, after all inspections are finished.  The contract must also state that the contractor will provide all required permits.  Be wary of a contractor who says you do not need a permit or who wants you to obtain it.  By following these guidelines you'll most likely avoid major problems.  Your home is likely your most valuable asset, take good care of it.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sellers Were Asking: First Impressions

First Impressions

You only have one chance to make a first impression, or so the saying goes, and no where is this more true than with the  presentation of your home. These days, as, buyers do 'drive-bys' in an effort to eliminate unsuitable homes, you really only have one opportunity to catch a potential buyer's interest, so creating curb appeal is important.  

A lush lawn and colourful perennial gardens go a long way to offer that well groomed appearance on the outside.  Be creative!  A nice wreath on the front door, welcome mat and clean, uncluttered appearance works.  

Inside, clean your house from top to bottom. Make sure hardwood gleams, carpets are thoroughly vacuumed and dust has been banished. Remove clutter and use this opportunity to start packing by putting collectibles away. This allows potential buyers to imagine their own possessions and knickknacks in your home. 

When sales reps and potential buyers do view your spotless home, get out so they can move about freely. Some buyers are uncomfortable if the sellers are around and they tend not to spend as much time looking as they would have if the sellers had gone out. Definitely leave the house during an open house. Relax and let your sales rep do what you have contracted him/her to do, namely sell your house. 

If you're thinking about selling, give us a call!

Friday, September 11, 2015

You Were Asking: Electronic Signatures Legal?

Finally, yes.  In what is supposed to be a paperless society, the real estate industry sure uses a ton of paper.  When you figure, the traditional system was 6 true copies of all Agreement of Purchase and Sale contracts; we are finally trending to some natural resource conservation!  

The implications of this, while, at first, appearing to be a bit frightening, make a ton of sense...

For one, the paperwork should offer a lot more clarity as with scanning and rescanning and printing and copying, and, in some cases, faxing, the end result of a lengthy negotiation will no longer be an illegible contract.  

Our world has been made so much smaller by the internet and travel is a big part of our lives now, so, simply by virtue of not having to print, sign and email back and utilizing an app to sign, both buyer and seller can be virtually (haha) anywhere.  

What will this do to lessen the impact of a fraudulent transaction?  There are rules as there are always rules. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Buyers Were Asking: Over-Buying

Just as under-buying is a challenge, so is over-buying.  Who over-buys?  Many times, it is the down-sizing market.  This end of the market is very reluctant to part with furniture.  Chairs, comically enough are never plentiful enough.  And, forgive the Realtor who suggests daughter Mary can hold the next holiday meal...a warning to fellow Realtors...don't do it!  As with the market who under-buys, the over-buying market too, will find themselves rambling around in a few years with a home they don't fit in.  Often, they never use the finished basement, they use only the main level.  How do you avoid the problem?  A good way is to really take stock of what rooms you use, and what you use, maybe once or twice a year.  Many down-sizers will not consider even looking at an condominium apartment.  Why not just look?  It doesn't hurt, it's free.  You can always decide you don't like it, but, looking at all of your options is much wiser than just deciding you would hate the lifestyle before exploring the option.  Buildings offer party rooms, so, there's the large dining room, often a fully stocked kitchen (dishes, cutlery, oversized refrigerators) so you can serve the food in a larger space.  Recreational facilities often include a pool, gym and activities board so you don't have to feel you are losing the pool for the grandkids.  Underground parking, utilities (some buildings) included, and a turn-key lifestyle are all favourable reasons to at least consider this home ownership option.    

Friday, August 28, 2015

Buyers Were Asking: Under-Buying

This is a common challenge to overcome when starting your home search.  Whether you are a first-time buyer, or, a move-up buyer, you'll find, you will first start with your "ideal money to spend" in mind.  For most buyers, there is a difference between the budget planned for and what that will purchase.  A good starting point is to plan for what you need and then add in your wish list.  If you are moving up, that becomes easier in that, you may have 1-2 children already in school.  You know you need the 3rd bedroom, possibly a 4th.  It's the first-time buyer who struggles, specifically, the newly wed couple.  Often, they forget to think 3-5 years ahead.  Those next 3-5 years will likely bring about some dramatic lifestyle changes.  Babies, day-care and schooling needs.  Parks, shopping and possibly dropping the second car, meaning walking distance to groceries becomes a must.  Under-buying, then, becomes a financial issue as now, when you least expect it, you have outgrown your home too soon.  If you find your Realtor trying to explain this to you, please listen and digest what she is saying.  We know, we've seen it, and, while, at the time of suggestion, a lot of buyers respond by saying "you're trying to get me to purchase a more expensive home so you can get more commission".  Do the math, we don't make a whole lot more in commission if you increase your purchase by $50k.  You, however, stand to lose a whole lot by forcing your hand to make your sale and re-purchase too soon.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Buyers Were Asking: Real Estate Netiquette

I think the internet is a wonderful tool for searching real estate.  Many who are in the market to sell and/or buy are using the internet as a source to seek out the ideal home.  They visit numerous Realtor sites gathering and requesting information from numerous Realtors.  Armed with reams of information, they then bombard their own Realtor with the information gathered to sort through.  

While the internet was to simplify the whole process, it has, unfortunately, now begun to complicate it. In a quick market, or, very popular market area properties tend to sell fairly quickly, almost nullifying the usefulness of this technology.  

It's time to hit the streets running.  We,  like most Realtors, are on the Realtor MLS site umpteen times a day searching and sorting for you.  You see, that's what we get paid for.  There are hours of background work completed before you meet with us.  You've come to us not only expecting solid negotiation expertise, but, also expecting for us to find you your ideal home.  We often have spent hours of time servicing other Realtor's clients (and, I'm sure, other Realtors have done the same for us) responding to hundreds of e-mails giving directions to our listings, answering questions on suitability, square footage and more.  

While we love to help, please ask your own Realtor to provide you this service.   Realize, we have the right to ask if you are under contract with another Realtor.  If you are, we simply pick up the phone and attempt to have your Realtor take you through the home.  I'm simply amazed at how many people thank me for responding so quickly and continue to ask me to advise them when they are already working with another Realtor.  

Folks, find someone to work with whom you feel comfortable and then direct all your questions to that person.  If we can help, and, you're not already working or under contract with another Realtor, please give us a call.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sellers Were Asking: How To Decide When To Sell

Housing needs change throughout our lives.  At first, singles need a place to call their own.  Then young families move to get more space for the kids.  Later, "first generation" retirees may want less to take care of, and finally "second generation" retirees may need more support and services.  Many seniors stay in their family homes and are perfectly content to stay there.  Here are a few things to consider if you or older family members have reached the point where a retirement move might be the best strategy.

  • Are you over-housed?  Are you rattling around in your "empty nest", paying more than you want for taxes, utilities and maintenance?  If retirement has meant a cut in income, would a lower-priced home, townhome or condominium be easier to manage?
  • Do you need the equity from your family home?  For some home owners, the equity built up in a home is their main retirement savings.  Sometimes a move is needed to convert that equity into cash and income to be secure for the years to come.
  • Is the home's upkeep manageable?  Do you have the time, energy or interest to paint, clean, mow, etc?  Will the roof need replacing soon?
  • Does your home style match your physical ability?  Are there too many steps or step-down rooms in your current home?
  • Has the neighbourhood changed?  If friends, relatives, neighbours, doctors and stores have gone, maybe it's time for a change.
  • Do you want to be closer to family?  Maybe a move will save long trips and increase your visit time with the grandchildren.
  • Would a move improve your lifestyle? If travel is important, the "turn-key" lifestyle may appeal to you.

If you're in the deciding process, we can help!

Friday, August 7, 2015

You Were Asking: Indoor Mould

Contrary to popular belief, mould present in a home is not always readily noticeable by smell, or by visual inspection.  Often, it is hidden behind walls or underneath flooring.  As suspected, it can also be found behind wallpaper.  In the spring, the excess water can build up and come into your home, causing a flood in the basement.  This is usually caused by poor drainage around the home.  If the water damage is not cleaned up sufficiently in the first 24-48 hours, you may have mould in your home.  If any member of your family is suffering from; unexplained skin rashes, itchy and watery eyes, nose bleeds or even migraine headaches, these symptoms may be caused by mould. So what do you do to prevent mould?  Prevention is key as mould cannot grow where there is no moisture .  Here are a few tips to prevent mould from occurring in your home:
  • Roof - check for leaks throughout, especially in the attic area.
  • Bathrooms - shower areas - clean, clean, clean - ensure your ventilation fan is on when showering.
  • Leaks - are there any caused by plumbing?  Check the lines in bathrooms, kitchen, laundry area.  Ensure any are fixed right away.
  • Air Conditioning Units - empty and clean drain pans often.
  • Dehumidifiers - empty and clean drain pans often

 If you suspect mould in your home, a home inspector who is well versed in mould removal should be called in to take a look.  Your best protection is prevention!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Market Conditions and Fall Forecast!

The summer market hasn’t slowed all that much for the properly priced home.  However, those left unsold are now going through the first phases of reductions.  Finally, we are being able to bring buyers into a house more than once and also able to negotiate somewhat.  There still are sellers who think they hold all the cards, but, buyers are now walking away.  Refreshing to see it actually as I have felt sorry for the buyers in this market having to switch gears so quickly in their search mode.  Lots of activity across the bridge into the Stoney Creek and Grimsby area markets.  The trend still is to move in the outer lying areas in an attempt to buy more house for the growing family.  But, the other end of the spectrum are also taking notice for downsize plans.  When you consider you can downsize in square footage and pick up the extra garage space, it kind of becomes a no brainer when you start to accumulate some toys!  Plus, Niagara is a spitting distance away as are the Buffalo and Niagara Airports for a quick flight to Florida. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

You Were Asking: Mortgage Broker or Bank

Finally, buyers are starting to see the benefit of utilizing a mortgage broker’s services to explore their finance options when choosing a mortgage.   A mortgage broker will be your unbiased resource to assist in sourcing out your best rate, term and option for savings.  Because they have no ‘attachment’ to any one bank, they can and will access the entire mortgage market to help you make the wisest choice whether searching for your first mortgage or renewing an existing one. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Buyers Were Asking: Words of Wisdom - Food for Thought

Buying a house is not as easy as a lot of people think.  It takes a ton of thought, preparation, groundwork and patience.   We are hopeful to help put your concerns a bit at ease by saying, let’s take a step back and discover what we know and what we have yet to discover.  Our fear, always, is that you will  buy too big or too small or.....settle.  Don’t settle!  Your home will come just has yet to be listed.  Resale is much tougher as the selection, at any given time, can be limiting.   So, with that in mind, let’s send you on your house hunting tour armed with some information designed to assist in making things a bit more clear.  First thing in starting the process is back to your Girl Guide, Boy Scout basics.....Be Prepared......Prepare a  Must Have/Wish List.  If you are a couple.....two lists to begin with will set the tone, so, sequester yourselves in separate rooms and do your ‘homework’ – SEPARATELY.  Then, come back together to reconcile your lists to see how closely each other’s MUST HAVE and WISH LISTS match. We think you will be pleasantly surprised that you essentially really do want the same things. 

Your Must Haves are the important things.  They are things like # of bedrooms, Garage or Location.  Your Wish List are things that you’d be thrilled if you got them in amongst the Must Haves....things like pools, fireplace, basement walk-out.  In your prioritization, be honest.  Go with your gut and just write down as it comes.  It is in your heads, you just have not put it down on paper.  In your reconciliation, a pattern will most very likely emerge.  That reconciled list then becomes our house hunting list.  Have no fear...the list will evolve!  It always does.  

Download a copy of our Wish/Must Have List to get started!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Sellers Were Asking: The OFFER!

"What do I do when I get an offer?"  That's a common question from my sellers.  An important thing to remember is money is not the only consideration.  You may prefer a lower offer with a more suitable closing date.  Negotiation is an art where you may give and take over price, terms, and conditions.  Here are some tips to help you throughout the process.
Aim for a sale.  Your aim is to get as much as you can for your home.  The buyer's aim is to find your lowest acceptable price.
Evaluate the Buyer.  Buyers who have been pre-qualified have been told by a lender how large a mortgage they're likely to qualify for.  Buyers who are pre-approved already have a tentative loan commitment in place.
Keep a level head.  Keep communications on an agreeable level.  At all stages of negotiation, be as flexible as possible.  Try to remain unemotional.
Ask questions.  When offers come in they may contain terminology you don't understand.  Ask questions, don't accept an offer you don't understand.  Avoid discussing contracts when you are too busy to pay them proper attention.  This means, have someone take care of your children while you are in the decision making process.
Consider all offers.  You have three basic choices.  Accept, reject or counter.  Outright rejection is seldom wise.  Again avoid getting emotional, it won't help and can even hurt.
Respond quickly.  When buyers make an offer, they are in the mood to buy.  Moods change, don't play games by making people wait.
Rely on your Realtor.  We can de-personalize easily, thereby keeping negotiations flowing toward an eventual agreement.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sellers Were Asking: Maximizing Your Home's Equity

If I were to tell you of an investment you could make to ensure your home achieved its maximum potential on the market, in any market, would you listen?  Once introduced to the open market, a home becomes an asset, a saleable commodity of great potential.  How much potential, is in your hands.  

Many sellers believe it is a Realtor's job to 'paintthat picture of potential.  Let me ask you this.  When you go in search of a 'new' used car, what catches your eye?  I'll bet you look for 'low mileage, clean and affordable'.  You know the black book?  There's an unwritten black book for houses too. 

It is not the Realtor's job to clean and de-clutter your home to prepare it for sale.  It is yours.  And, the old, "but, they can see past my stuff" just does not cut it when potential home buyers are stacking home against home.  Pretty homes sell.  63% of buyers prefer to pay more for a house that is in turn key, move in condition.  So, here you have it.  37% of the buyers will look past your 'stuff'.  

Sellers give all sorts of reasons why they don't want their homes staged.  "It's too expensive!"  "It's too much work!"  And my all-time favourite, "My house will sell itself".  The cost of home staging is actually less than your first price reduction. Stagers work with the flow of a home, help to eliminate clutter, edit and arrange furniture. They can direct a potential buyer's attention to the positive features of your home as well as downplay the impact of any negative features.