A home is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make, so it’s only natural to feel a little intimidated by the negotiation process. This is particularly the case for first-time buyers. Here are some tips to help you approach the negotiation process that will help you minimize stress, stay within your budget and get the best price for your new home.
GET TO KNOW YOUR MARKET
Becoming familiar with the types of properties available in your price range is an important first step. With the help of a real estate professional, you’ll also want to begin exploring neighbourhoods you’re interested in, the types of properties available in those neighbourhoods and their prices. Make note of the difference between listing and sale prices and how factors such as size, location, amenities, proximity to schools, and the age and condition of the home affect price.
Familiarity with the market will help you understand the value of the properties on the market and put you in a stronger negotiating position. While online listings are a good place to start, most buyers should expect to look at 10 to 15 homes in person before they make the decision to put in an offer.
Buying your first—or even second or third—home comes with a lot of excitement and becoming emotionally attached can be easy. When looking at potential options, it often doesn’t take long to start imagining your new life there. However, it’s important that buyers do not act overly enthusiastic, particularly when the seller is home. This can put your REALTOR® at a disadvantage when negotiating for the best price. The best approach is to keep your demeanor neutral, take notes, and keep your thoughts and questions for a private conversation with your real estate agent.
FOCUS ON VALUE
When considering making an offer, many buyers assume that the asking price will be different from the selling price. In certain markets, buyers may expect the property to be listed higher than what it will sell for, while in hot markets, the opposite applies.
Rather than focusing on the listing price, focus on the value of the property. If the property is priced properly, the best strategy is to offer the listing price. If the property is not priced properly, make an offer that reflects the property’s true value. The best way to assess this is by getting to know the market and discussing your options with your REALTOR®.
A common mistake some buyers make is to put in a low offer, just to see if the seller is receptive to it. The result is often that the seller doesn’t take the offer seriously, either coming back with the original listing price or not responding at all.
Remember that just as your REALTOR® is advising you, there is also a real estate professional advising the seller on the home’s value.
THINK BEYOND PRICE
Don’t forget that price is not the only point of negotiation –terms are negotiable too. Everything from the move-in date, to home repairs, to which appliances are included in the sale, is up for negotiation.
STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
Firmly establish a budget and stick to it. In markets where demand is high and inventory low, it can be tempting to increase your budget, especially if you have put in several offers without being successful. However, it’s important to stay within a budget that you will be comfortable with for the next several years. Make your best offer and don’t budge. Home buying can be emotional, but try to keep a cool head by reassuring yourself that there will always be another house out there.
WHAT’S MY BUDGET?
When starting the search for a new home, it is important to establish a budget that you will be comfortable living within for several years. There are several handy tools to help you calculate your housing budget and plan your monthly expenses. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Household Budget Calculator allows you to compare your income with your expenses and debt payments and see what kind of mortgage you can comfortably afford, and the RE/MAX Monthly Home Budget Planner helps you gain a better understanding of all the costs associated with home ownership.
No one knows the negotiation process better than Rosemary.
Are you thinking of selling your home? Before your REALTOR® begins showing your home, you will want to make sure it’s in tip-top condition. An attractive, well-kept home generally has a better chance of selling a little faster.
Minor exterior and interior improvements
Updates can add value to your home without requiring a large renovation bill. Think back to what first attracted you to your home; now determine how best to highlight and improve your home’s best features.
Here are a few ideas to help you perk up your home’s appearance. Consult with your Realtor to see what types of improvements make the most sense.
Start with the outside
- An inviting exterior ensures that potential buyers will inspect the interior
- Keep lawns and gardens well maintained
- Ensure garage and porch areas are free of clutter and refuse
- Repair loose siding or pavement
- Replace any damaged roof shingles, eaves troughs or cracked windows
- Wash windows, gutters, mailbox and doors
- Secure loose shutters or awnings
The inside story
You can do a lot to improve the inside of your home without spending a great deal of money. Two primary areas to keep in mind are the kitchen and bathroom.
- Ensure kitchen and bathrooms are sparkling clean;
- Repair dripping facets and showerheads;
- Steam clean or replace carpets if necessary;
- Thoroughly clean every room in the house, removing all clutter;
- Repaint dingy walls or kitchen cabinets with a neutral colour;
- Replace worn or outdated countertops and cracked light-switch plates; and
- Remove any items (like chandeliers) that won't be included in the sale of the home.
Remember, the more effort put into the initial clean up, the easier it will be to keep your home looking its best for visits from your REALTOR® with prospective buyers. As well, keep in mind that rooms that are too cluttered will give the impression that they're much smaller than their true size. Try to create a feeling of spaciousness when conducting your spruce-up.
- As a courtesy to buyers, leave the house while the Realtor is conducting a showing
- Keep pets out of the way – preferably out of your house during the showing
- Ensure that every room is tidy, well aired and adequately lit
- Don't keep money, jewellery and small valuables in plain sight during a showing
- Open drapes to maximize natural light
- Keep all stairways and hallways clear
- Use finishing touches like fresh flowers and candles
By following these relatively simple tips, you'll feel proud of your home and potential purchasers are sure to appreciate its beauty.
There are many things to consider when looking for the right home; one of those considerations should be sustainability. A sustainable home is not only better for the environment, but it can also save you a significant amount of money in the long run.
We asked our RE/MAX Influencers—a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates throughout Canada—what sustainable features are the most important to look for when buying a sustainable home. They responded with features that will help you conserve resources and save costs on heat, water, and electricity.
“Buyers need to determine what space heating system is in place, this is the highest monthly cost and best ROI for a homeowner. Depending on the climate, heat pumps are the best but high efficiency gas furnaces are likely the best choice,” says Rob Grey, RE/MAX of Nanaimo (founder of Real Estate Energy Efficiency Program (REEP).
“They also need to see what level of insulation is installed as this compliments space heating and is one of the least expensive improvements in single family energy efficiency.”
Grey adds it’s very important to check if the home has had an energy assessment (EnerGuide rating), which is an extensive examination by a certified energy advisor who calculates the energy performance of a home, and is LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas, such as: water savings, energy efficiency, material selection, and indoor environmental quality.
More than half of our influencers mentioned the importance of windows when it comes to energy efficiency. The quality of windows installed in a house greatly impact heat conservation. New double or triple pane, argon-filled windows provide extra insulation and better noise reduction for your home.
Properly insulated windows are a must for keeping heat from escaping during the cold winter months. However, the orientation of the windows to the sun should also be considered, as south-facing windows allow radiant heat from sunlight to enter the home each day.
Tied for second place along with water-saving features, a home’s heat source and heat conservation are also very important. A high-efficiency furnace, automated climate control, high value insulation, and heat recovery ventilation are must-haves among others.
South-facing windows, geothermal systems, and active solar energy systems are great sustainable features for heating a home. A geothermal system utilizes the stable ground temperature to regulate a home’s temperature, whereas an active solar energy system gathers heat from the sun.
It is very important to conserve our freshwater supply. Sustainable homes utilize features that minimize water usage. Features like low-flow toilets, sinks, and showerheads, automated sprinklers, rain collectors, and xeriscaping go a long way in water conservation.
One-third of our Influencers spoke about the importance of utilizing the sun’s rays when considering sustainability. Solar panels, solar water heating, and orientation to the sun for natural heating are all ways we can effectively utilize solar energy.
It can be difficult at times to keep up with advancements in technology. Our influencers suggest looking for LED lighting and programmable energy-efficient appliances in a sustainable home. If the home is equipped with a solar panel array, ask for a comparison of the home’s electric generation and consumption. Is there a charging outlet in the garage for a potential future electric car?
Are you searching for the home that is in a great location and is the perfect style for you? Rosemary can help you with your search.
If you are a homeowner and you decide to enter the market, you’re faced with a difficult question: Especially if you’ve never sold your home before.
Do you buy your next home before selling? Or do you sell your current home before buying?
We reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers—a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates from throughout Canada—to find out their opinion on whether homeowners who are re-entering the market should buy first or sell first.
It all depends
The majority of our RE/MAX Influencers agreed that each situation is unique, and several factors need to be looked at to determine the answer of that question. For example: What are the current market conditions? And are you financially capable of carrying two properties with ease?
“It absolutely depends on the market situation,” says Justus Smith, RE/MAX Crown Real Estate (East). “If the client is selling in a hot seller’s market, then they would likely want to find their next home first and buy it. However, if they are selling in a buyer’s market, it’s better to get their property sold before venturing out to purchase another home.”
Pros of buying first
By buying first, homeowners are less rushed to find the right home, so they can spend time making sure the new house fits as many of their needs as possible.
“The ideal situation is to purchase a home and then sell your current property,” says Sarah Leib, RE/MAX River City.
“Buying without having to sell first allows buyers to find the right home at their own pace,” adds Shauna Bailey, RE/MAX Crown Real Estate North.
Although buying first has some advantages, this situation isn’t financially feasible for everyone. There may be a possibility to add in a sale of home condition to the offer; however, competing offers without that condition will likely be more desirable.
“Buyers should consult with their lender to discuss the possibility to arrange interim financing; therefore, enabling them to make an offer without this condition—provided they qualify—with the intention of ultimately selling their current home once they confirm the new purchase,” says Glen Darough, RE/MAX RHC Realty.
Pros of selling first
Many aren’t able to afford the cost of carrying two properties, and trying to do so may cause significant stress.
“The risk of having to discount your home to create a quick sale just isn’t a pleasant experience,” says Eric Steinbach, RE/MAX Kelowna. “(Clients) can negotiate a better purchase price being strong on finance.”
“It really depends how comfortable my clients are to have the possibility to have to bridge finance or carry two mortgages. I always suggest to sell first, but there are a lot of buyers out there who are scared they won’t find what they are looking for,” says Elio Parente, RE/MAX City Realty.
Rosemary can guide you through your unique situation and help determine whether buying first or selling first is the right decision for you.
Dryer sheets are good for more than just cutting the static in your clothes, for example:
Dusting: Used dryer sheets are effective for dusting surfaces such as computer screens, TV screens, window blinds, baseboards and so much more.
Cleaning: Sprinkle a few drops of water on a used dryer sheet and use it to wipe down your chrome bathroom faucets and to wipe away the soap scum on your shower door.
Keeping clothes fresh: Hang onto that just-washed scent by placing a dryer sheet in your clothes drawers. Pop used sheets in your shoes before putting them back in the closet, too. When storing seasonal clothing, slip an unused dryer sheet into the storage container to keep clothes smelling fresh.
Removing deodorant marks: Rub white residue away with a used dryer sheet.
Courtesy of By Mary Hunt Photo credit: misteraitch
Iknow it’s time. It’s been time for at least two years, possibly longer. I need to clean my kitchen. Now, before you send the Health Department to my address, let me explain. What I mean by “clean” is that I need to clean out and organize my kitchen pantry, cupboards and drawers.
If you walked into my kitchen, you’d see a tidy and sanitary place. But don’t walk into the pantry or open a cupboard too hastily. Something might hit you on the head. At this moment, a bottle of Advil has been tossed on top of cereal boxes, which are resting on pudding boxes that have long ago expired.
Cynthia Ewer, editor of OrganizedHome.com says the first thing I need to do is harden my heart. An efficient, convenient kitchen, she says, must be pared to the bone. I must dare to dump anything and everything that is not absolutely necessary and useful.
CLEAR THE DECKS. Ewer instructs me to prepare four boxes with these labels: Put Away (Kitchen), Put Away (Elsewhere), Give Away (or Sell) and Storage. Now I am to tackle one shelf, drawer and cupboard at a time, putting each item into its proper box.
KITCHEN KEEPERS. Once everything has found its box, send three of the boxes out of the kitchen. Now comes decision time. Ewer is ruthless in suggesting I need to just get rid of the electric french-fry fryer, that strange gelatin mold in the shape of Mount Rushmore and the odd collection of sports bottles from all those walk-a-thons. Ditto for pans I don’t use, dishes I don’t like and specialty cooking tools that I never use because they’re too much trouble to clean.
NO MORE STALLING. I’m going to follow the Organized Home kitchen decluttering plan starting at the top: The top shelves, which Ewer says resemble an unknown landscape at the back of the moon. (I keep wondering when she’s been sneaking into my kitchen because she seems to know this place quite well.)
Here’s the rule: If I’ve used it in the last month, it’s a candidate to stay. If I used it yesterday, that will be the backbone of my newly organized kitchen.
I am committed; I am determined. I will box and banish. I will not stop until every shelf, every cupboard, every nook and cranny of my kitchen is cleared, cleaned and organized.
I don’t think I’m alone in this need for kitchen organization, so I’m extending an invitation for you to join me. Let’s call it the EC Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge. All who dare are invited to join me in this marathon event. Actually, I could use the company. Somehow knowing others are participating in the same drudgery will keep me on track and moving forward.
The only requirement to join is a willingness to get your kitchen organized. And to post a comment below telling me how you are going to get started.
Stay tuned because next week I’m going to help you get motivated to declutter books, CDs, DVDs and electronics—and quite possibly get paid to do it!
Courtesy of, Bjorn Rygg, Pillar to Post
During the process of buying or selling a home, homeowners often learn about recommended or required repairs and upgrades. This can happen as a result of the home inspection as well as your expert knowledge of your market and comparable homes. Of course, the first thing homeowners want to know is, “How much will that cost?”
Pillar To Post is pleased to offer our popular Residential Construction and Remodeling Estimates cost guide, which provides estimated cost ranges for repair and/or replacement of the major systems and components in a home. It also includes general guidelines for the life expectancies of those systems. This information can help you make informed decisions when considering home repairs or improvements, and is valued by buyers and sellers alike. Below is just a sampling of our list of estimated costs for hundreds of repairs/upgrades.
Hardwood Floor Refinish
$3-$6 / sq ft
Carpet – Clean
$125 / room
$6-$11 / sq ft
Kitchen Counter – Laminate
$45 / lin ft
Kitchen Counter – Marble
$80 / lin ft
$35 / month
$15-$30 /sq ft
Custom Designed & Built
$55-$80 / sq ft
Casement – Replace
$50 / sq ft
These estimates reflect the average basic costs for supplies and installation of building materials in United States and Canada. Costs may vary depending on regions, upgrades, complexity, and disposal fees.
For complimentary copies of our Construction and Remodeling Estimates cost guide, please contact your local Pillar To Post office, or download from www.pillartopost.com/costguide.
Many of us hibernate somewhat at this time of year, meaning we have lots of time to reacquaint ourselves with our great indoors and all of its associated "stuff," much of which we may even have forgotten about. Take this opportunity to purge unwanted, unneeded and unused things from your home. You'll be surprised at how good you feel once you've opened up your space!
A good purging is necessary when putting your home up for sale or when you're thinking of downsizing to a smaller footprint. Even if you have no plans to move, your motivation could still be as major as getting ready to welcome a new baby into the household, or as simple as recognizing you have a lot of things you'll never use again. In fact, you may have no other reason for tackling your overcrowded household than wanting to claim your space back.
So, once you've made the decision to purge, what do you do with all that stuff?
Tackle each room with large, empty boxes, each marked with a different purpose. There will be the "keep" box for things you absolutely need or can't let go of, the "donate" box with things to give either to charity or to friends or family who may make use out of the items, and the "sell" box. Yes, someone might actually, thanks to the far-reaching wonder of the Internet and sites like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist, magically translate your junk into money in your pocket — you'll be surprised at what people will pay for!
Finally, there will be those items you'll transfer from one hand to the other, and spend much too much time pondering. To help move the cleanup process along, put those treasures in another box that you'll mark with a date six months from the current date. When you approach it half a year from now, you'll probably first shake your head in disbelief that a whole six months has already flown by, and then as a second step recognize that if you didn't need those items in the past half year, you can probably let them go now.
Clutter can be a source of stress, so purging can benefit your mental well-being. In some cases, letting go of certain memories will allow you to move onto a new phase of life. Other times, clearing the physical clutter in your life frees up the space, both mentally and physically, to move towards a clearer future.
At the very least, less stuff in your home means less stuff to clean and, when it comes time to move, less to pack up and move!
As you may have heard, Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveiled a series of changes to the rules used to underwrite insured mortgages. Included in those changes, effective October 2016, was one termed a mortgage "stress test."
The stress test is applicable to insured mortgage applications. It's designed to ensure that borrowers are capable of paying their loans in the event interest rates rise, or their personal financial situation worsens. So now, no matter how low their actual mortgage rate, Canadian borrowers must show that they qualify for the Bank of Canada's Mortgage Qualifying Rate, which, for example, was 4.64 percent when the new rule came into effect — about twice what a borrower might actually be paying.
Prior to the new changes, the historically low mortgage rates allowed even first-time homebuyers with a modest income to qualify for a large loan. Now, buyers who previously qualified for a higher-priced home may experience a reduction in affordability.
If you're considering a move, you'll want to clarify if or how the new mortgage restrictions might apply to you, and if they do, what your best course of action is in today's everchanging real estate environment.
As you recover from this holiday season, it's the perfect time to start planning on ways to ease the stress of the next one! For example, when packing away seasonal lights, do your future self a favour and consider these storage tips:
- Unplug strings of lights that are attached, and wrap each strand separately.
- Cut heavy pieces of cardboard into 6" x 12" pieces, cut notches into the long edges and wrap the lights around the cardboard, pressing the cord into the notches to stay put.
- Empty coffee cans make for great storage too. Place replacement bulbs inside the can, then cut a slit in the plastic lid and put the receptacle end of the light cord through it. Place the lid on the can and then wrap the lights around the can.
The New Year is within sight. If your New Year's resolution is to make a housing move in 2017, now's the time to start working on it!
Current homeowners need to know that because of a lack of housing inventory in many areas, their home may sell faster and perhaps for more money than they expect. But as all real estate is local, you'll want to get the latest updates on sales activity in your immediate area to get the best understanding of what to expect for your own real estate activities.
"National sales and price trends continue to be heavily influenced by a handful of places in Ontario and British Columbia and mask significant variations in local housing market trends and conditions across Canada," notes Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) President Cliff Iverson.
CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump gave an example from this summer's real estate activity in western Canada: "Home sales continued to trend lower while price gains further accelerated in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia." He added, "This suggests that sales are being reined in by a lack of inventory and a further deterioration in affordability." Successful real estate transactions require the steady guidance of an experienced real estate sales professional. Please call today so we can review your current housing situation in relation to your plans for 2017.
From, Bjorn Rygg, Pillar to Post
You may not want to admit it, but the days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, and winter is on its way. No matter what the season means to you whether that’s embracing the snow, avoiding the outdoors altogether, or taking off for a sunny destination - winter-proofing your home should be at the top of your list.
Roof: Before it’s covered in snow be sure to have it checked for any damaged shingles, replacing them if necessary. Also have your gutters cleared to ensure drainage will flow smoothly when the snow melts.
Furnace: It’s no secret your furnace will be of paramount importance as temperatures continue to drop, so prevent a breakdown by making sure its service and maintenance is up to date.
Windows: Double check that all windows are tightly sealed and water isn’t collecting in the sills. Ensuring windows with multiple sliding panels are in the closed position is important to avoid drafts.
Doors: Similar to windows, it’s important to check door frames are securely sealed without any cracks. Consider sealing or insulating mail slots or doggy doors.
Floors: Check for gaps between exposed floorboards, especially in any unfinished rooms in the house. If you have central heating, it’s important to ensure ducts connected to floor vents are well insulated.
Everything else: When setting your home up for seasonal success, it makes sense to take a look at your current insurance policy as well. Winter often means extreme weather that can result in damage to your property.
Are you fed up with the style or design of your bathroom? Join the flood of homeowners who are throwing in the towel on their old bathrooms!
According to a recent survey of homeowners who started a bathroom renovation in 2015-2016*, a full 46 percent said they took on the project because they simply "couldn't stand" their old bathroom anymore, while 38 percent said it was always in the plans, they just previously didn't have the means to do it. On a practical level, 29 percent were prompted to renovate when their old bathroom deteriorated or broke down, while 19 percent chose to renovate as they had recently purchased their home and wanted to make the bathroom "their own."
So what are people doing to their bathrooms, and how much are they spending to get there?
More than four in five homeowners replaced major bathroom features such as showers, flooring, countertops and sinks in their master bathrooms. Even though 75 percent of survey respondents maintained the size of their bathrooms, a full 68 percent of them went for some more shower power by increasing the size of their shower.
When planning your bathroom reno, be honest about what you visually covet versus what you will actually use. For example, a deep, freestanding claw-foot bathtub is something to drool over in a renovating magazine, but on a practical level you might find yourself relating more to the 56 percent of survey respondents who said they never soak in a bathtub or to the 20 percent who say they only make the time once or twice a month. Is the expense and space a bathtub takes up worth it for you, or would a larger shower be more utilized and appreciated?
Continuing on a practical train of thought, "good lighting" was a priority for 46 percent of homeowners looking to make a change to their bathrooms, followed by "easy to clean and disinfect" by 43 percent and "easy to store and find things" by 42 percent. "Easy for more than one person to be in," at 39 percent, explained the popularity of renovations like double sinks and dual showers, and at 73 percent, the number of people who included at least one walled-off area within the master bathroom — for the shower, toilet area or vanity/make-up area, for example. Be honest with what you want compared to what you need versus how much money you're willing to dedicate to the project. The survey showed that 23 percent of homeowners budgeted $5,000 to $10,000 for their bathroom renovation, while 34 percent of homeowners budgeted $10,000 to $25,000 and 19 percent budgeted $25,000 to $50,000.
What you plan to spend and what the project actually ends up costing can be two completely different amounts. Make sure you sit down with a building specialist, general contractor, bathroom remodeler, plumber, electrician and/or other professionals to create a renovation plan that takes into account the many options available to create the practical yet stylish and beautiful bathroom of your dreams.
Mortgage-in-arrears studies track the number of households that have not made a mortgage payment in three or more months. The latest figures show that of the almost 4.7 million mortgages in Canada, just 13,000 of them — 0.28 percent of mortgage holders with Canada's largest banks — are 90 days in arrears. This figure has been consistent throughout the last 20 years, riding out fluctuations in unemployment, interest rates and an up-and-down Canadian dollar.
The Canadian government has a conservative approach to household borrowing, instituting changes over the past few years that necessitate larger down payments and shorter mortgage amortization periods. Today's homebuyer must have a down payment of at least five percent, with the portion of the home price between $500,000 and $999,999 requiring a minimum down payment of ten percent. And because government-backed mortgage insurance is available only for homes with a purchase price of less than $1 million, borrowers buying homes at or above $1 million will need a down payment of at least 20 percent if their financing is coming from a federally regulated financial institution.
Home loans must be paid off sooner than before, too. Homeowners were once able to stretch their payments out over a period of up to 40 years; the current maximum amortization period for a high-ratio mortgage is now 25 years.
How comfortable are you with your loan arrangement? Please call today to discuss your existing mortgage versus your future financial goals.
Don’t get overwhelmed right out of the gate when starting your home search; peruse your options with confidence, knowing you are comparing apples to apples as much as possible.
Are you in the market for a new house? These 9 items top the list of things to consider whenever you tour a home:
Keep in mind all the places you need to go, and how far away they are from this current house location. Calculate the distance to your work, schools, groceries stores, and favourite nightlife spots. Wherever you frequent the most, such as your job commute or gym, should be your top location priority. Also, see how close you are to gas stations and freeways. These aren’t always considered, and it can be a pain to have to drive a long distance just to get to the airport or to fuel up.
If this is important to you, stop a few minutes at each window in the home you’re touring to check out the view. Take note of the direction the windows are facing to see if you’ll get that brilliant sunrise or sunset everyday. Also, check out how close you are to your neighbours, and see if they can easily look into a room.
Before you step into a potential home to tour, drive around the neighbourhood a little. Take a look at how people landscape their yard, if they have kids playing in the street, and if a block ends on a busy intersection. This is especially important if you have young kids that will be playing a lot outside. Your neighbourhood also plays a huge role in your home’s overall value.
This might seem like a small detail, but a poorly designed driveway can cause some serious stress. Make sure all your family cars can comfortably drive on it to easily access the garage. Some homes have a pillar dividing two or more spots, which can lead some larger vehicles unable to maneuver inside. Also, make sure you don’t have anything blocking your line of sight when you back out, such as tall shrubs or blind corners.
Size and Floor Plan
Pick up a floor plan while you tour a home, and revisit it and keep the house’s layout fresh in your memory. Imagine yourself walking between each room, and note any troublesome areas. Consider the overall space of each room, and know that a larger space will require you to run your heater longer, add more furniture, but will be perfect for a larger sized family. Measure your current furniture to get an idea of where you would put things like couches, beds, dressers, and any other bulky items. Some furniture might not fit, so make sure you factor these purchases into your budget.
Room Count: Beds and Baths
Consider your family’s needs, and if you will eventually need an extra bathroom or bedroom after a few years. Smaller homes can actually benefit a bigger family since they will be easier to clean, plus they transition well once all the kids have moved out. Take into consideration what you currently have now, and ask yourself if this amount of rooms truly meets your needs.
Ideal Kitchen Layout
Do you enjoy cooking? You’ll want to make sure your kitchen flows well, and that all the appliances you need are easy to access. When you’re touring the kitchen, walk through a typical dinner preparation, from cutting board counter height to oven door clearance space; it should all be tested. Ask your REALTOR® what appliances will stay in the kitchen so you can budget for the missing ones, such as a fridge.
Ask your REALTOR® to show you homes with varying layouts so you can experience how each one might work for your unique cooking needs.
Open every single closet while you tour. Take detailed notes of each storage space on your floor plan of the home, then see if it will work for your needs. When people move, usually they like to de-clutter, but there will still be some items you’ll need to store in your new home. Bring a tape measure with you so you can get exact measurements.
Windows and Finishes
Having natural lighting in each room will cut down on your energy bill drastically. See where each window is placed throughout the home to get an idea of how much sunlight you’ll be getting. Ask your REALTOR® how old the windows are, and if they might need to be replaced. Also, notice the finishes in each room such as the hardware style, molding, and focal points - like a fireplace. These can be changed out or disguised, but it’s best to find a place that already meets your expectations. Bring a camera or use the one on your smart phone to snap some photos of the details that drew you in, then file them with each house’s paperwork for future reference.
It might sound like a lot of prep work to do before touring a home, as well as a lot to think about during the showing, but this will ultimately make your final decision much simpler. You don’t want to miss out on a charming home if you can’t make up your mind, so make it easy on yourself by sufficiently preparing ahead of time, and you’ll be guaranteed to find a perfect home that meets all your needs.
*This article is syndicated and licensed from Realtor.GetWrittn.com.
From, Bjorn Rygg, Pillar to Post
While not every room in your home needs to follow a theme, you may find yourself designing a bedroom around a child's favorite Disney character, sports team or activity, or playing up your own hobby or even trying to recreate the serenity of a vacation spot in your own bedroom. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you decorate.
- Make sure you don't go overboard with your theme while forgetting about the practicality of your room. If you can't sit/lie/relax on it, it's about as practical as stiletto heels on the beach. In other words, you don't want a bedroom that shows well but doesn't invite comfort and relaxation.
- Remember that a themed bedroom doesn't mean running out and buying every known accessory relevant to your vision. Your theme can be jumpstarted as easily and inexpensively as choosing the right shade of paint for the walls. Sports fans looking to create a shrine to their team should know there is paint designed to match team colors perfectly, allowing them to instantly surround themselves with logo-matched paint to complement the team accessories they plan to display.
- Looking to create a dreamy bedroom space? You'll want to choose calming colors for the walls and bedding. You may think white is right, but again, keep practicality in mind: spills happen, dirt comes out of nowhere, and before you know it your calming oasis turns into just another stress-inducing imposition. White can work in some situations, but keep your lifestyle in mind before you commit.
Here are 7 features that date your home and tips on how to improve them:
Wacky Bathroom Colours
It's unlikely that you will find pink toilets making a come back anytime soon. They instantly give your home an outdated vibe. You're better off leaving the colorful bathroom at your Grandma's house. If your bathroom is sporting too many colours, consider replacing what you can in crisp white. Paint the walls a warm neutral tone and add soft white towels, as well as a solid subdued shower curtain. Designer Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz suggests, “ For a clean, modern look, paint all surfaces with white epoxy paint to make everything one colour. “That way,” he says, “you can make the room's story be about textures. Do the accessories all in white as well.”
No matter how lovely the home, a room covered in wood paneling takes the buyer on a time-warp back to the 70's. Not only does wood paneling date the home, it also makes the room look smaller, which can give potential buyers a negative impression from the start. Andrew Leahay of Design Media shares some removal advice, “Removing wood paneling is not a particularly difficult job in and of itself. Removing the paneling and not damaging it, or removing the paneling and replacing it with drywall, can be a more difficult task. Having a good sense of what is behind your paneled walls will dictate the amount of work involved in the project.” If tearing the wood paneling off the wall is not an option, a fresh coat of paint will help give your home a more modern appeal. Elizabeth Weintraub, a Home Buying/Selling Expert suggests, “ Even if your wood paneling is not real wood but composite, you can paint it. Dated paneling must go. Older wood paneling such as walnut, mahogany, cedar and pine, it's all gone out of style. Paint it a neutral and soft color after priming it.”
Walking into a home with nasty old carpet is a huge turn-off for potential buyers. Nothing is quite as distracting as an ugly pattern, scary shag, or mystery stained rug. If the carpet has to stay, you should have it professionally deep cleaned. Hardwood flooring certainly offers a cleaner more updated look, and according to HGTV, it is the top desired request among renters and buyers when searching for a new home. Buyers also tend to prefer hardwood as it cuts down on the allergy inducing problems associated with old carpet. With that in mind, it might be worth the extra expense to ensure a faster, more rewarding sale.
Brassy, flashy, gold-plated fixtures had their hay day and now they tend to give an outdated first impression. If you are unable to stretch your budget too far, consider spray painting your fixtures. When done right, you will have a high-end looking durable solution without having to replace each piece. This will save you money and amp up the appeal of your home to potential buyers instantly. Ashley a creative and self proclaimed DIY enthusiast will show you how with these easy steps:
Home Improvements—Painting Old Chandeliers and Light Fixtures.
Sponge painting, fancy wallpaper, and hand painted murals might hold special meaning for you and your family, but they are more likely to scare potential buyers away. Busy walls are not only distracting, but they can close a room in making it appear smaller and darker. Beth Jaworski shares her Realtor insight by suggesting, “Buyers just do not like wallpaper. It's so personalized. If you go into a wallpaper store, there are thousands of patterns. Why is that? It's because people are very particular.” Neutralize your walls, by pulling down that busy wallpaper or painting over any flashy colours with a soft subdued tone.
Old countertops can be a deterring factor for potential buyers. Retro tiles, dirty grout, and cracked laminate just make a house look old. Don't be overwhelmed though, if replacing your countertops is not within the budget, there are still things you can do to help update the look of your home. There are many different approaches you can take when updating your counters, but it depends greatly on how much you want to invest and what look you are trying to achieve. Rose Kennedy of HGTV, offers these tips for painting over your laminate countertops.
Not only because of asbestos, but popcorn ceilings in general remind us of days gone by. Potential buyers prefer a ceiling that does not resemble cottage cheese. According to Armstrong.com, “Removing a popcorn ceiling is a messy, time-consuming job—and in most cases, it's not necessary because you can easily cover up that unsightly texture with ceiling panels of planks. They install directly over your existing popcorn ceiling in a few easy steps that you can do yourself using common household tools. In as little as a weekend, you can hide that ugly ceiling and enjoy a decorative ceiling style that will completely change the look of your room.” However, you should consider having your ceiling tested for asbestos, as this could be the motivation you need to have it permanently removed.
It might be overwhelming to think of trying to fix all of the retro quirks in your home at once, but by starting with just a few of these, you'll save yourself the disappointment of having your home passed over due to it's awkward retro quirks.
When you’re preparing your house for sale, the basement is often overlooked when it comes to home staging. While rooms such as the living room and bedrooms take staging center stage, any smart buyer will want to explore all the rooms of your home – and that includes the basement. A clean and finished basement is an excellent addition to any home, and can really add some zeros to your home’s market price tag. It’s clear that it’s in your best interests to get your basement up to speed with the rest of your home staging efforts, but where should you start? And what should you stay away from?
Do: Clean It Up, No Matter What You’re Planning
Of course, whether you’re planning on an aggressive basement improvement project or just getting things together for an open house, the first step is to clear and clean the basement. Pack up boxes and move them into storage, mop and clean the walls, and air out the room if musty smells have taken over. Give potential buyers a clear view of what your basement looks like – a finished basement is a plus, but an unfinished, clean basement won’t make them bat an eye. A messy, smelly basement, however, will remain a black mark.
Don’t: Ignore Water Damage
A well-built basement is bone-dry, and if you’ve got pools of water or drips in the walls, you’ve got water problems. These can easily damage your home’s foundation and encourage mold growth, resulting in your responsibility for some costly repair bills. You’ll want to take care of the issue before any buyers come calling, even if you’re not planning on any more intense finishing projects. Many home improvement contractors offer consultations, tests, and services for waterproofing basements, but there are some simple fixes you can perform yourself. Cracks and gaps in pipes and walls can be plugged with caulk or cement, but if water is seeping in along the floor, you may need to consult with a professional to determine the cause and your options. Solutions can range from pump installations to landscaping changes.
Do: Insulate Your Walls
An insulation project is one of the easiest ways to add a bit of comfort to your basement, without trapping yourself in a more complicated project. Moreover, it’s inexpensive, and generally quite easy to DIY if you do your homework. Insulation will keep in the warmth and the cold, and covering it with a wall installation will give your basement a clean look. Before installing any insulation, however, be sure that your basement is entirely waterproofed – insulation and moisture will make for mold city. Even if you don’t have obvious water leakage problems, be sure that no condensation is coming through from the outside with hairline cracks and holes: tape plastic sheeting to the walls, and leave it there undisturbed for a few weeks. If you return to dry plastic, you’re golden.
Don’t: Bite Off More Than You Can Chew With Finishing
Remember: you’re trying to sell this house. Thus, you don’t want to tie yourself to it with a basement finishing project that could potentially take years to complete. No sane buyer will purchase a home with a basement project abandoned half-finished, so you’ll need to consider what you can really handle in the time frame you’ve decided on. If you have the money to spend, a professional job can give you the speedy results you need, but take care with your finances: you don’t want to wind up spending more on the project than the returns it’ll grant you on your home’s price tag.
Do: Familiarize Yourself With Your Local Codes
Housing codes vary from area to area, and when undertaking any kind of home construction project, you’ll need to make sure you don’t wind up in hot water by accidentally violating an obscure footnote. Codes address everything from ceiling height to water and electrical rules, so no matter what you’re planning, you’ll want to pay attention. A consultation with a home improvement professional is a great help in this area, even if you’re determined to DIY: they’ve got expert hands-on knowledge, and a more down-to-earth understanding of what local codes mean and how they apply to you and your project.
Don’t: Get Too Determined to DIY
We understand the DIY urge, especially when you’re tempted by the thought of increasing your home’s value – if you’re out to get more money in the long run, why spend money now on professional work that you can do yourself? (Theoretically.) The fact of the matter is, a home’s basement is an entirely different ballpark than any other above-level rooms. There are foundation and water factors you have to take into account, and when things go wrong here, they can potentially affect the rest of your home in the worst of ways. YouTube tutorials and online articles can only give you so much assistance, and a contractor with years of hands-on expertise is going to have an edge no matter how many blog posts you’ve read and how-to videos you’ve watched. By all means, you’re free to try your hand at basement finishing projects, but if you wind up out of your depth, don’t be ashamed to call in a pro to consult. They’ve got a passion for home improvement that’s a great addition to any team.
Finishing your basement is a great way to add value to a home you’re getting ready to sell. Basement improvement jobs are excellent undertakings due to their flexibility: whether you’re just out to add some insulation and soft lighting fixtures, or if you’re out to transform it into a fully-functional social room, any level of effort can spell big results when it comes to selling your home. Consider what you have time to go through with, get the pros on the line to lend a hand, and go forth to improve.
Selling your home is all about appealing to the market. You’re putting a product out there, so of course you have to take steps to make it appeal to your prospective customers. Some flaws are excusable: not having a fireplace in the living room, kitchen tiles that are slightly out of fashion, and so on. When your home has certain flaws, however, you’ve got to take steps to improve or downplay them – otherwise, they’ll send any sane home buyer dashing for the door.
Utilities Gone Wild
Water, heat, and electric are the first things any smart buyer will check in a prospective home, so you’d better make sure yours are up to code and working at full throttle. Get your home inspected before you sell to get aware of any issues at hand, and have them taken care of professionally unless you’re a licensed technician – home inspectors can tell when something’s a DIY job, and you don’t want to get slapped with legal fines down the line if something goes wrong. These utilities are serious issues that could end disastrously without an experienced hand, so don’t let that DIY itch get the best of you.
A Home So Cozy That We Can’t Turn Around
It’s always tough to sell a small home, especially if you and your real estate agent don’t do your part to make the house an attractive purchase without denying the issue. Buyers know when a house is small, but you can expand it to the eye with clever staging – clear out clutter, stage with small furniture, and let in plenty of light. Don’t forget to sell your buyer on the benefits of living small: cheaper utility bills are no joke, especially to first-time home buyers and retirees looking to downsize.
This Place Has Really Let Itself Go…
Some buyers don’t mind a small home improvement project waiting for them when they move in: laying new tiles, repainting rooms, and tearing up carpets aren’t overly expensive undertakings, and can help a new buyer to settle in to a new place. However, there’s a difference between “we should tear up these tiles, they’re not really our style” and “we should tear up these tiles, I think something’s building a civilization beneath them”. Do your part to take care of the big home improvement projects before you even put the house on the market. Your house will sell faster, and you won’t have to take hits on your desired price tag.
Those Aren’t Termites! The Walls Are Just Rustic!
Insect and vermin infestations don’t need to be as severe as a termite attack to have an adverse impression on buyers, and they don’t even need to be infesting the house itself. If your lawn and garden are home to some nasty beasties, your buyers will be able to tell with even the briefest inspection that something iffy is buzzing around – especially when it’s buzzing right in their face.
For severe issues such as the aforementioned termites, a professional exterminator is absolutely essential – the exterminator will not only work to get rid of the bugs, but will also assess any potential damage to the home and its foundations. If you’re lax on getting this inspected and professionally fixed, be prepared for legal repercussions. Less pressing problems, like a booming mosquito population, can usually be improved or eradicated with a little bit of detective work, instead of smelly, lawn-damaging pesticides. Check online for what kinds of environments your given insect invaders thrive in – that long grass is prime real estate for ticks, and stagnant water attracts mosquitos. A bit of lawn improvement can go a long way.
Is That a Lawn or a Jungle?
Many home sellers neglect to include their home’s great outdoors in their prep work, and do so to their own peril. A messy, unkempt lawn will impress no one: not only will it put your home’s curb appeal in the toilet, but if things are especially dire, you might find that potential buyers refuse to even take a step outdoors. Are lions and tigers lurking in that unmowed grass; or more reasonably, ticks and fleas? Are they going to need a tendonitis shot for being in the proximity of your rusted lawn furniture? No buyer wants to be saddled with the responsibility of cleaning up the mess of a yard that you’ve left them, so do your part beforehand and get some gardening done.
In This Neighbourhood, It’s Always Party Time
Noisy neighbours (and their noisy children, noisy pets, and noisy guests) are one of the biggest deal-breakers out there when trying to sell a home, and unfortunately, it’s usually an issue that’s completely out of your control. Noise is only one of the many sins that bad neighbours can commit: there’s also the nosy neighbour, the rude neighbour, and the messy neighbour. A neighbour that parties into the night is just as bad as a neighbour that peeps into your windows, a neighbour that refuses to give back children’s toys that have gone rogue into their yard, or the neighbour whose yard is so messy that they couldn’t give the toy back if they tried.
In the end, the only thing that can solve this issue is communication. If politely requesting that a neighbour cease their bad habits doesn’t work, consider building a privacy fence to block out at least some of the issue – if the problems are severe, you may have to get local law enforcement involved. In any event, it is heavily advisable for you to speak about the issue at hand to your real estate agent so they can devise an appropriate plan to keep prospective buyers informed, but still interested.
Taking care of these deal-breakers before your home even goes up for sale will do a lot for your selling prospects. Homes that are well-maintained and attractively staged consistently spend less time on the housing market, and go for more money, than those that could do with some TLC. Put in some elbow grease, and you and your prospective buyers will be thankful for it in the long run.
If you are considering a home renovation project, it might not be realistic to take on your entire home, but even just a few upgrades can lead to a much higher selling price for your property. In a competitive market, standing out from the other homes in your neighbourhood is paramount. Below are three important projects to focus on before selling your home that are guaranteed to add that added dose of special sauce buyers are looking for.
To many, the kitchen is the most important part of the home – this idea is echoed in an old saying: people talk business in the living room, but friends hang out in the kitchen. The kitchen is where families spend time together preparing meals and talking about the day. It is where friends laugh over a glass of wine and platters of cheese and crackers. It is the nucleus of every house, and it is what a majority of buyers admit is one of their make or break items when comparing multiple listings.
Buyers like to see clean and new appliances. If your budget allows, consider getting stainless steel appliances, ideally in a fingerprint-free finish. If there is no money freed up for this kind of an upgrade, a good, thorough washing can do wonders, and don’t forget to tidy the magnets and photos on your refrigerator while you’re at it.
Next, consider replacing worn or outdated countertops. Granite or butcher block are always in demand, but any high-quality, durable countertop in a neutral tone would be a great addition to your kitchen.
Be sure to take into consideration what is appropriate for your property’s listing price when starting to update your kitchen or any area of your home, for that matter. For example, putting marble floors and granite counter tops in a lower priced property would be a bad investment as the chances of recouping that money in equity down the road might not be as great as you had envisioned.
It's wise to consult with your REALTOR® before diving into home improvement projects so you can get a comparative market analysis. This will give you an idea of what your home will sell for, allowing you to budget appropriately for your renovation projects.
Many homebuyers are intimidated about taking on large renovation projects, preferring instead to get into a home that is “move in ready.” This is especially true of first time homebuyers, as they may not have the initial budget to put up a down payment and then dive headfirst into upgrading or renovating their new home. By presenting potential buyers with a kitchen that is updated and clean, you make it that much easier for them to fall in love with your house and sign on the dotted line.
Tip: Burn a softly scented candle in the kitchen to diffuse any lingering cooking odours if your REALTOR® calls with a last minute showing.
Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is an easy and cost effective project that will give buyers a great first impression. Many people choose to do this project themselves to save money - even hiring professionals to do the job for you can be a great value if they can get the work done quickly and with great quality.
Colour selection is key to a successful paint job; your kids might love the neon green paint in their rooms, but strong colours can definitely turn buyers off. Paint the doors and moldings a slightly lighter colour then the walls. "It's a subtle shift in colour but it really brings your eye to the detail." Says Sheri Thompson, director of colour marketing and design for Sherwin-Williams.
Years of wear and tear can leave your walls with scratches and scuff marks. So even if painting isn’t in the cards for you, taking the time to wash your walls will brighten up your existing paint in no time.
Tip: Pay special attention to the interior lighting of your home. Darkly painted rooms can feel depressing and uncomfortable, but a carefully placed lamp can make all the difference.
Adding proper lighting is a simple and effective way to make your home feel more warm and inviting. Interior designer Melanie Freundlich offers up some excellent tips for using interior lighting in your home:
- A beautifully lit living room is accomplished through variety: variety in height, locations, and even bulb colour.
- Use light to feature something you love, like a favourite painting, a statue, or a wall with a decorative finish.
- The cheapest, quickest solution for upgrading your home lighting: swapping out your switch plates to a fun metal finish or even a bold colour to compliment your wall paint.
Doing all of these fantastic interior home improvement projects is wasted time if potential buyers never make it past your front door. When potential buyers drive up to your property they should see a clean and neat exterior at the very least, and – if possible – it is wise to invest in landscape features even if that just means a beautiful birdbath or window boxes filled with freshly planted flowers. It should also go without saying that your lawn should be mowed and any fallen leaves are removed. Also be sure to pick up trash or debris that can easily collect near fence lines or under trees. As an added touch, add a bright exterior light so that potential buyers can see clearly if they drive by your home after dark.
Tony Rigby, a well-known financial planner puts it this way: “Buyers are often sold on a home before they take a step inside, so it pays to make your property appealing from the outside.”
Tip: Have your home professionally pressure washed or rent your own machine if you are feeling ambitious.
These three simple home projects will definitely make your property stand out without costing you an arm and a leg in the process.
*This article is syndicated and licensed from Realtor.GetWrittn.com.
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