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Creating the Ideal Working Relationship with Your Agent

If you’re working with a landscaping contractor, you want to develop a good working relationship with that professional, so you can avoid delays, stress and other issues. After all, the last thing you want is a tree planted in the wrong spot because of a misunderstanding!

The same holds true when working with a real estate agent. Whether you’re buying, selling, or both, you want the process to go smoothly and successfully. Creating an ideal working relationship with your agent is an important step toward making that happen.

How do you do that?

First, ask your agent to go over the process with you. If you’re selling your home, you want to understand the steps the agent is going to take. That way, there will be fewer surprises. In particular, you’ll want to discuss how viewings will be handled. You’ll need to come to an agreement as to when your home will be available for viewings, how short-notice viewings will be handled, and whether or not “lockbox access” will be needed.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you’re worried about seeming to be naive. (You won’t!) You don’t want to have unanswered questions or concerns between you and your agent.

Also, know that misunderstandings and mistakes can happen in any relationship with a professional. So if an issue comes up, discuss it right away. Don’t let it fester.

Finally, remember that your agent should be a professional like me, with expertise in buying and selling in this market. When I make a recommendation regarding pricing, prepping your home, viewings, etc. remember that I am working in your best interest. I want to sell your property, quickly and for a good price, just as much as you do!

Looking for an agent you can trust? Contact me today!

Should You Renovate or Move?

If you need to upsize or you’re simply ready for a change, it’s tempting to consider a major renovation. After all, renovating means you don’t have to go through the process of selling your property and buying another more suitable home. You just fix up the one you’ve got!

However, you need to carefully consider the pros and cons of renovating before going this route. You don’t want to invest in a costly renovation only to end up with a home that still doesn’t meet your needs.

Say, for example, your current property doesn’t have a home office. Since all the bedrooms are taken, you decide to renovate a portion of the basement. Building that new home office may seem like a simple project, but once you consider new electrical, flooring, lighting, etc., it really isn’t. Like most renovations, it will probably cost more than you think. Plus, you’ll need to consider whether you’ll really want to work in the basement.

In this case, it might make more sense to find a new home with an extra bedroom that can be converted, or, better still, a dedicated home office space — with windows!

Of course, there are many circumstances in which a renovation may be the best way to go. If you don’t like your kitchen, for example, upgrading it may not only get you the kitchen you want, but also add value to your property.

Basically, you need to ask yourself: “Which is more likely to get me the home I really want – a renovation or a new home?”

If your answer is a new home, then there is probably a property on the market right now that would meet your needs. Let’s talk.

5 Ways to Create Extra Space in Your Home

Is your home feeling a little cramped? If so, there are many relatively inexpensive ways to free up more space. Here are some ideas:

  1. Convert traditional into non-traditional space.We’re all familiar with converting a spare bedroom into a home office or kids’ playroom. You can also create space by finding other uses for pantries and walk-in closets.

  2. Explore smart storage solutions.There are many products on the market that revolutionize how you store things. For example, there are closet organizers available that double storage capacity. Check out the options at your local home improvement store.

  3. Get rid of unneeded furnishings. Is there a chair no one ever uses? Is there a side table that takes up a lot of space, with nothing but a few knick-knacks on it? Consider selling these items to free up some space.

  4. Think high.Install storage shelves, hangers or baskets high up in the kitchen and laundry room. Use that storage for items you only access infrequently.

  5. Consider storage rental. If you have furnishings and other items that you don’t want to get rid of, consider renting a storage unit. There may be economical options in your area.

With a little creative thinking, you’ll be amazed by how much space you can create within your existing rooms. 

3 Not-So-Obvious Indicators it’s Time to Sell

There are many good reasons to put your property on the market. Some examples include a relocation, the kids leaving the nest, the need for something bigger or smaller, and the list goes on and on.
However, there are also some less-than-obvious indicators that it may be time to sell. Consider the following:

  1. Your Property is no longer a Good “Fit”
  2. Your home may have been perfect for you when you bought it. But things change. Families grow. Needs evolve. For any number of reasons, your property may no longer be a good fit for you. If that’s the case, it makes sense to at least take a look at what’s available on the market. Who knows? Your next “perfect” home may be for sale right now — within your price range!

  3. The Neighbourhood is Changing
  4. You may have been in love with the neighbourhood when you first moved in. But, over time, the characteristics of any area can change. Those changes don’t necessarily mean the neighbourhood is getting worse. In fact, it may be changing in a positive way; perhaps becoming more urban. But, “more urban” may not be what you want. So take a look at the direction your neighbourhood is heading. Ask yourself, “Do I still want to be living here in two years?”

  5. You’re Ready for Your Dream Home
  6. Remember when you purchased your current property? Did it have every feature you wanted? Was it your dream home? Or, did you have to compromise on a few things, such as the size of the kitchen? If you had to make some tough choices back then, it might be time for you to finally get the home of your dreams.

Those are just three indicators it may be time for you to make a move. Of course, there are many others.

BBQ Maintenance that Will Save Your Life

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 160 people are injured each year in BBQ mishaps. That doesn’t sound like a lot considering the thousands of people who flip burgers on their backyard grills each year. But, you certainly don’t want to be one of those injured!

The best way to prevent fire and injury is maintenance. Remarkably, few people are even aware that BBQ maintenance is necessary. But, it is.

Every spring, experts say you should clean out the venturi tubes. Those are the little metal pipes that carry propane or natural gas. Pipe cleaners work well, although hardware stores also carry specialized tools for this purpose. The goal is to clean out any built- up dirt and debris. Don’t be surprised if you find spider webs inside a venturi tube!

Your BBQ grills should also be cleaned with soap and water each year. Just scraping them before barbequing isn’t enough. Fat and oils from cooking can build up on grills and harden. If you’re getting a lot of flare-ups, this may be the cause.

Finally, make sure nuts and bolts are tightened regularly, and replace any rusty hardware. Regular use, heat and weather can loosen or weaken bolts, particularly on the frame. Several fires each year are caused by BBQs tipping over or collapsing.

This Simple Question Can Save You a Lot of Money

Imagine this scenario…

You purchase a new home and move in. A few weeks later, you hear a strange rumbling sound. It’s the furnace. It’s only a year old, yet it’s sputtering like it’s twenty. You realize you’ll have to call in an HVAC contractor to get it fixed.

You’re thinking, “Ouch! This is going to be expensive.”

Well, maybe not. You see, since that furnace is relatively new, it might be covered by its original warranty — even for you, the new owner.

But a warranty is useless if you don’t know it exists.

Recent studies suggest that upwards of 50% of people pay to get items fixed that were actually covered by a warranty. So, when purchasing a new home, be sure to ask this simple question: “What warranties do you have for items, materials or workmanship in this house?”

Warranties are common on new stoves, fridges, washers, dryers and other big ticket appliances. Some such warranties are transferrable, which means they are still in force when the items pass from one owner to another.

Even less expensive items, such as electronic thermostats and automatic garage door openers, may be covered by a transferrable manufacturer’s warranty.

If the home you’re purchasing is relatively new (say, less than 10 years old), the builder’s warranty may also still be in force. That can be handy if a structural problem arises.

Even recent renovations, may have come with a labour and/or installation warranty of some kind.

As you can see, warranties are everywhere! The more you’re aware of them, the more you’ll save when something needs repair or replacement.

Lowering Shipping Fees When Shopping Online

Online shopping is growing by an average of 20 million new shoppers each year. That’s a lot of people clicking and buying! You may be one of them.

However, there’s a cost to online shopping that’s all too easy to overlook. Shipping fees. Imagine saving $10 on a luxury cookware set, only to be hit with a $15 delivery charge. Ouch.

So how do you avoid those fees?

First of all, always check the fine print on the checkout screen. Notice what the shipping cost (if any) will be before you click the final purchase button. Keep in mind that the base shipping fee shown may update — and become higher — once you’ve typed in your address.

Some e-tailers offer free delivery for orders over a certain threshold amount; for example, $50. If there’s more you can add to an order to get the shipping fee waived, it may be worth it.

There are a few e-tailers, most notably Amazon, that offer yearly memberships where one of the benefits is free delivery on all orders. Those kinds of memberships may be worth checking out if you do a lot of online shopping with a particular company.

A final tip: Always check for multiple delivery options. Some e-tailers, list an express shipping charge as the default option on the check-out screen, but have a free standard delivery option if you choose it.

Takeaway: Shipping fees take the fun out of online shopping. Do what you can to reduce or eliminate them!

Four Things You Should Know About Staging

You’ve probably heard about “home staging”. As the name implies, it’s all about arranging each room in your home in a way that will make the best impression on buyers. Here’s what you need to know about staging if you’re thinking of listing your property.

1. Staging can get you a higher price:
On average, a fully-staged home tends to sell for 17% more than an un-staged home of the same type in the same local market. Depending on the current market value of your property, doing some staging in your home could put thousands of extra dollars in your pocket, post-sale.

2. It can speed up the sale:
A study by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) showed that fully- staged homes spend an average of 90% less time on the market. So, if you need to sell quickly – without dropping your price – or you just want the comfort of having offers come in sooner, staging will definitely help.

3. You don’t have to go crazy. Completely staging every room in your home is going to give you the full benefits of this strategy. However, you don’t have to go that far. In fact, just implementing a few simple staging techniques to some key rooms can make a big difference.

4. Get professional help or advice. When it comes to home staging, don’t guess at it. Get professional help or advice. As a REALTOR®, I have a lot of expertise in this area and often provide clients with proven, do-it-yourself staging tips and suggestions. If necessary, I can also recommend a professional stager. Contact me anytime.

Checklist for WOW-ing a Buyer during a Viewing

Imagine you were selling your car, and a prospective buyer was on the way over to see it. What would you do? You would probably make your vehicle look as clean and shiny as possible, inside and out.

The same holds true if you’re selling your home and there’s a potential buyer on the way. You want the buyer to be wow’d by your property. Here’s a handy checklist to follow:

  • Clean every room. Make your entire house look as “guest ready” as possible.
  • As much as is feasible given the time, reduce clutter. Consider packing some items into boxes and storing them in the basement or garage.
  • Get pets out of the house. You can take them for a walk, have a neighbour watch them, or take them to a good kennel.
  • Turn on the lights, even during the day. You want each room to look bright.
  • If there are any maintenance issues, such as a dripping faucet, let your Realtor know. Often, it’s best for buyers to be told rather than discover such issues themselves.
  • Open the curtains, except in those rooms where the sun will be uncomfortably strong during the viewing.
  • Move your vehicles from the driveway so the buyer can park there. (That can help them imagine living there, which is what you want!)
  • Make sure your foyer is especially clean and uncluttered. It’s the first “room” the buyer visits.
  • Avoid cooking just before a viewing. Even if the meal is wonderful, the aroma may linger. (Some people don’t like the smell of certain dishes, such as fish.)
  • Freshen up the outdoor space. Mow the lawn. Sweep the walkway.
  • This viewing checklist will help you prepare your home quickly, so when the buyer comes in your front door, there’s a much better chance he or she will be impressed.

Watch Out for Carbon Monoxide In Your Home

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is invisible and odourless, so you can’t actually “watch out for it”. However, you should monitor for it because an excessive build-up of this gas in your home can be deadly.

Fortunately, there are many types of Carbon Monoxide detectors you can purchase — and most are effective and affordable. Some models simply plug into an outlet. (Many also have a battery backup.)

Carbon Monoxide is caused by the incomplete burning of fuel. It can be released by a faulty gas furnace, kerosene heaters, and gas fireplaces. That’s why it’s a good idea to install detectors in areas close to these fixtures, as well as near bedrooms.

Experts say you should always follow manufacturer’s instructions when installing CO detectors, and test them regularly. You want to make sure you can hear the alarm from your bedroom.

CO build-up in homes is rare. So your detectors may never go off. But, if the alarm does sound, get everyone (including pets) out of the home and into the fresh air. Then call 911. Typically, the fire department will do an inspection and determine the source of the carbon monoxide.

A final tip: Never use your BBQ or outside grill in the garage or, especially, anywhere inside your home. The risk of CO exposure is very high and definitely not worth the convenience of a grilled burger!