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Does the Area Have What You Want?

Imagine going to a restaurant with your family for dinner. You’re planning on ordering a nice pasta and salad. Your heart is set on it. But, after you go to the trouble of driving there and getting a table, you discover that pasta is not on the menu.

That’s disappointing!

Of course, it’s only a meal. You can go somewhere else next time. But, what if the same scenario played out once you had moved into a new neighbourhood? Imagine you were counting on public transit being in easy walking distance, but discovered the nearest stop is four blocks away. Argh!

That’s why it’s important to ensure a neighbourhood has the characteristics you want — before you make an offer on a home you like.

Think about what you want most in a neighbourhood. Consider work, commuting, schools, playgrounds, noise level, walking and cycling, hobbies, shopping, entertainment, etc.

If there is a neighbourhood feature that is very important to you, check it out for yourself. For example, if easy access to a main highway is desirable for commuting, take the route for a test drive.

You can get a lot of information on a neighbourhood through the listed property’s description and MLS listing.

Want more in-depth insights into an area you’re considering? I have that information. Call today.

Staging your Home in a Hurry

Ideally you should have a week or two available before you list your property in order to stage your home and make it look its best for buyers. But, what if you listed quickly and within hours of the For Sale sign going up a buyer wants to view your property?
In that scenario, you need to do some quick “staging” to get your home ready. Let’s assume your property is already clean and tidy. Here are some other things you can do.
· Open the curtains, even at night. This will make each room seem brighter, more appealing and more spacious.
· Pull out some boxes or storage bins. Put away personal knick-knacks (like that bowling trophy) and other personal items to reduce clutter on shelves and countertops.
· Clear countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms. Put the old toaster oven out-of-sight.
· Make sure lighting throughout the house is bright and comfortable. In darker areas, plug in a lamp.
· Clear away as much as you can in the foyer. Make that space look open, uncluttered and welcoming.
· Move cars out of the driveway. Give the buyer a convenient place to park!
· Make the beds. Fluff pillows on sofas.
· Clear away as many items as possible from the closet floors (such as shoes.)
· Open a window and air out the kitchen, especially if you just finished cooking.
· Make sure your pet is in a crate or, if possible, out for a walk. Not everyone loves pets.
These staging tips take only a few minutes each, but can make a big difference in the impression your home makes on a buyer.
Want more home selling advice? Call today

9 Steps to Finding your Next Dream Home

If you’re thinking ahead to your next dream home, the road you need to take to get there may seem confusing. Do you search for listings online? Drop by Open Houses on the weekends? Call the number on For Sale signs?

Let’s break it all down! Here are the specific steps you need to take to ensure you find a home that fits your wants, needs and budget.

  1. Find out how much your current property will likely sell for on today’s market.
  2. Arrange for financing, so you know what you can afford.
  3. Select neighbourhoods you’d love to live in. (That may involve some fun exploring!)
  4. Decide on the type of home you want to buy. (For example: detached, three-bedroom, etc.)
  5. Prioritize the property features you want most, so you can be flexible if a feature is missing from a home listed on the market that is otherwise ideal.
  6. View properties on the market that closely fit your criteria, particularly new listings that may not yet be posted online. (Tip: Arrange to be immediately notified of new listings that are a good fit for you.)
  7. When you find a home you want, make an offer designed to get the property — without overpaying.
  8. Negotiate until you secure the deal. This may involve counter-offers.
  9. If the negotiation is skillfully done and all goes well, the home is yours.

As you can see, there isn’t a lot of mystery in finding your next dream home. You just need to take the steps and get the professional help you need along the way.
Looking for a real estate agent that can get you to the finish line? Call today!

How to Buy a Home in a “Hot” Area

Is there an area you’d love to get into that’s “hot”? In other words, an area where, as soon as a new home comes up for sale, buyers are clamouring to see it?

It can be intimidating to try to buy into a neighbourhood like that. On one hand, it’s the type of area you’d love to call home. After all, there are good reasons why it’s so popular! On the other hand, you might be discouraged by the competitiveness and prices.

If you want to live in that neighbourhood, there are a couple of things you can do that will increase your chances of success.

The first is to create a strategy. Most buyers rush to see a listing in a desirable area only when it shows up on MLS — or sometimes only when it’s advertised. You’ll have a better chance of getting into the neighbourhood if you are alerted the moment a property comes up for sale and you have pre-arranged financing. You’ll get to the head of the line and be ready to make a credible offer.

The second option is to consider targeting other neighbourhoods with similar characteristics. You may have long-dreamed of living in Prestigious Area A, yet there might be a Hidden Gem Area B that is just as good. Maybe it’s even better!

Ultimately, your goal is to find the home you want in a neighbourhood you like. The right strategy will get you there.

Contact me for more information.

Taking the Stress Out of Selling your Home

For some people, the thought of listing their home for sale is stressful. They worry about all the things they have to do — and all the things that might go wrong.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips for making your home sale go smoothly:

  • Give yourself time to prepare. If you’re thinking of selling six months from now, start preparing your property now. Do any necessary staging, and get it looking its best. Avoid doing these tasks at the last minute.
  • Set the right price. Pricing your property too high will likely result in few, if any, buyers coming to see it. You might end up having to lower your price later, causing your home to linger even longer on the market. That’s stress you don’t need!
  • Have a flexible viewing schedule. If you make it too difficult for buyers to see your property, they might lose interest or simply choose to buy another home. Be as flexible as possible when a buyer wants to view your property.
  • Plan get-away activities. When a buyer comes for a scheduled viewing, don’t be home. Instead, plan some fun activities for your family. Think: playground, shopping, cycling, the zoo, etc.
  • Accept the ups and downs. Prospective buyers might say they love your home and plan to make an offer. Then you don’t hear from them again! It happens! Accept the inevitable ups and downs of selling your home.
  • Get help with repairs. You’ll probably have things that need to be fixed around the home, like a dripping faucet that needs repair or a room that needs painting. If possible, hire a professional to do some of that work.
  • Finally, work with a great real estate agent. That will make the biggest difference in ensuring your move goes smoothly and stress-free.

Looking for a real estate agent like that? Call me!

When a Home Inspector Finds an Issue

Imagine you’ve found the perfect home. You love it. You’ve made an offer that’s been accepted. So far so good! The only catch? You’ve wisely made the offer conditional on passing a professional home inspection.

What happens if that home inspection reveals a major issue?

First, you should know that, depending on the age of the property, a home inspection will typically turn up at least a few areas of concern. The inspector might find loose insulation in the attic that is thinning out or roofing shingles that will need replacing in two or three years.

Issues like those are not usually deal-breakers.

However, if the home inspector finds a major issue — such as old wiring that’s worn and presents a safety concern — then you’re facing a potentially high cost of repair should the deal go through.

In a situation like that, as your real estate agent, I will address the issue with the seller, usually through the seller’s agent. Since neither of you will want to lose the deal, the seller often agrees to get the repair done at his own expense or, have some or all of the estimated repair cost deducted from the sale price.

Will the deal be in jeopardy? Usually not. In most cases, if you have a real estate agent like me working in your best interests, it all works out.

Finding a New Home on a Tight Schedule

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had all the time in the world to find your next dream home? You could leisurely browse the current listings, select homes you’d like to see, schedule visits on dates that are most convenient for you, and make an offer on a property only after you’ve had plenty of time to consider all the alternatives.

Sure, that sometimes happens, but it’s not typical. Often, people shopping for a home are on a timeline. Sometimes a very tight timeline.

So how do you find your next dream home when you don’t have all the time in the world?

First, you need to develop a clear picture of the home you’re looking to buy. How many bedrooms? What size of property? What type of structure (two story, back split, etc.)? Then, you need to list your preferences. These might include “large kitchen” or “main floor office”.

Once you’ve completed that exercise, you’ll have a more detailed profile of the type of property you want. That will make it easier to decide which of the listings on the market you want to see.

You should also narrow down the area in which you’d like to live. If you have three or four targeted areas, and only consider listings in those areas, your home search will be much faster.

What if you don’t know the neighbourhoods well? Visit a few. Drive around. Explore. Get as much neighbourhood data as possible, such as demographics, recreational activities, parks, shopping, schools, etc. Then choose the neighbourhoods that fit your lifestyle.

Finally, the best way to find a new home on a tight schedule is to work with the right real estate agent — someone who, like me, is experienced in the local market.

Call me anytime. 

Setting Your List Price Requires Calculation and Savvy

When you’re having a garage sale, one of the toughest tasks is pricing your items. If you put a price tag on your old golf clubs that’s too high, no one will buy them. If you make the price too low, they might sell quickly, but you’ll spend the rest of the day wondering if you could have gotten more!

It’s similar to selling your home — except with your home, the stakes are much higher. You want to price your property to sell, but you don’t want to leave any money on the table.

How do you accomplish that?

Setting the right list price for your home requires a combination of skilled calculation and industry savvy.

Let’s start with the “calculation” part…

When you work with me, I’ll review recently sold properties that are similar to yours in type, size, features and location. Then, using that data, we’ll calculate a range that represents your property’s “current market value.”

For example, consider a spacious 15-year-old bungalow in a nice neighbourhood. If similar homes in the area have sold for $475,000- $550,000 in the last six months, then it’s obvious that your home should sell in that range too. A list price above or below that range would be in the danger zone.

But skilled calculation is only half the task.

Setting your list price also requires expertise in the local market, combined with good old-fashioned gut instinct. That instinct comes from being on the front lines of many property transactions.

That’s why working with a good real estate salesperson is so important, when you’re deciding on the list price for your home.

Want to discuss selling your home? Call me.

Balancing the Emotional and Practical Sides of Buying a Home

Imagine this scenario…
You’re shopping for a new home. You drive to visit a recent listing. As you walk through the front doors, you’re impressed. Every room looks fantastic. You see yourself relaxing on the spacious patio, cooking in the modern kitchen, and enjoying evenings with the family in the cozy living room.
Your emotions are on overdrive. This is your dream home!

Should you make an offer? Probably. In fact, you should make that decision quickly in case there are other interested buyers.
However, your decision shouldn’t be guided purely by emotion. You want to make sure you take practical matters into consideration too.

For example, you’ll want to consider:

  • Is the property within your price range?
  • Does it have everything you need?
  • Do you like the neighbourhood?
  • How old is the property? Are there items, such as the furnace, that may need to be replaced soon?
  • Will it need any major repairs or upgrades?
  • What are the average monthly costs of carrying the home? (Property taxes, utilities, etc.)

Once you’ve considered the purchase of the home from a practical standpoint, you’ll have a lot more confidence in your decision when you make an offer.

Need help? Call me

How to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Ideally, you would like buyers to wait until they’ve viewed your whole property before they judge it. However, the reality is, buyers start forming an impression of your home as soon as they see it from the curb. So, it pays to do everything you can to improve your property’s “curb appeal”.

Here are some ideas:

  • You can improve the impact of your landscaping by trimming hedges, removing any unsightly weeds, and cutting the grass. Planting just a few fresh flowers can make a big impact.

  • If your main entrance door is old, a fresh coat of paint will make it look like new. In some cases, the effect is significant.

  • Remove any items that might distract the buyer from forming a good first impression. For example, garbage cans, stored items along the side of the property, etc.

  • Make sure the curtains and blinds on your front windows are open during viewings. That will make your home look more friendly and appealing.

  • If your driveway has grease stains and other blemishes, consider renting a power washer and giving the driveway a thorough cleaning.

  • Clean your front windows. If possible, also clean the exterior panes.

Finally, if possible, park your vehicles on the street and away from your home. Doing this will not only make your home look more inviting to buyers, it will give them a convenient place to park.

Most of these tips can be done in less than a day. Yet, they can make a big difference in your home’s curb appeal. They are worth the effort!