Is your home office the dining room table? Is it anywhere you can sit down undisturbed with your laptop? If so, you might be interested in converting a room or nook into a dedicated home office. Depending on what you do for a living, there could be a tax advantage to creating this space too.

 

The first step is to pick a spot. Ideally, you want an area where you can work without too many distractions.

 

Next, make sure the spot you’ve chosen can accommodate a desk and any other furnishings you’ll need. Think about what you want within easy reach of your work area. Will you need a place for books and other papers? An extra chair for client meetings? A flipchart? A filing cabinet? Think about all of the options in advance.

 

Then, you’ll want to make sure the spot you picked has the electrical outlets you need, especially if you’re going to have a printer, special lighting, a computer and other items that need power.

 

Finally, you’ll want your home office to be a place where you can enjoy working. So decorate it with that in mind. If you like plants, get plants. If you enjoy golf, have your golf trip pictures hanging on the wall.

 

With a little work, you can quickly create a home office space that is comfortable, functional and enjoyable. It sure beats the dining room!

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For some homeowners, the process of listing, showing and selling their home can be stressful. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to make it much less nerve-racking—and even exciting and enjoyable. Here are some ideas:

 

     1. Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to show your property, search for a new home, view listings, etc.                         Block out these times in an agenda book or calendar. That way, you and your family can see what’s coming up.

 

     2. Be flexible. Few things go exactly as planned! So, it’s important to build in flexibility. For example, you may plan to           see homes for sale on Saturdays, but if an opportunity comes up on a weeknight, give yourself room in your                     schedule to jump on it.

 

     3. Eat well. There are numerous studies that connect poor nutrition with increased stress. When people are selling             and moving, there’s a tendency to rely on quick fixes, such as hot dogs and pizza! Try to plan more nutritious                   meals that will keep everyone healthy and energized.

 

     4. Get stuff done early. Doing things last minute, such as finding a real estate lawyer or getting rid of clutter, can                   quickly lead to stress and frustration. Whenever possible, get tasks done early. That way, you won’t have to worry           about them.

 

     5. Hire the right professionals. By far, the surest way to a stress-free move is to get the right professionals working               for you: everyone from contractors to mortgage brokers to movers.

 

By the way, a big part of what I do for clients is help make every aspect of buying, selling and moving go smoothly. Contact me to learn how I can help you.

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An Open House is an event. And, like many events, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and energy. In fact, when you visit an Open House, you might even end up rubbing elbows with other buyers who are there at the same time. It can feel like a party!

 

In an environment like that, it’s not unusual to forget to ask important questions about the property. Here are some of the most common:

 

• How old is the roof?

 

• How old is the furnace, air conditioner and other HVAC equipment?

 

• How does the price compare to similar properties in the neighbourhood? (You don’t want to make an offer that’s too high.)

 

• What are the characteristics of the neighbourhood? (Amenities, safety, traffic, access to public transit, property turnover, etc.)

 

• What doesn’t come with the home? (Ask specifically about kitchen appliances, gas-connected BBQs, chandeliers, window coverings.)

 

• Are there any potential impediments to the sale? (Tenants, outstanding liens, etc.)

 

• Are there any outstanding maintenance issues, or repairs that need to be done? (For example, cracked ceramics on the foyer floor.) • Are there any issues that impact the full use of the property? (Ask specifically about shared driveways or walkways, public “right of way” through the property, water drainage rights from neighbouring homes, etc.)

 

Yes, an Open House can feel like a frenzy, and if it’s a home you love, you might feel pressured to make an offer. But, it’s important to take the time to ask the right questions and consider your decision carefully. You don’t want to find out, too late, that there were questions you should have asked.

 

Want more tips on finding the home of your dreams? Call today.

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Next to your home and car, home furnishings represent the most expensive product purchases homeowners make. A mid-quality livingroom set, with sofa and two side chairs, can cost thousands of dollars. That’s why most furniture retailers offer “interest free” and “pay much later” deals to soften the blow.

 

These are basically financing options.

 

Say, for example, you want to purchase furniture for the rec room. The cost is $7,200. The furniture retailer may offer you a deal where you “don’t pay a cent” for six months. As long as you pay the balance within that time, no interest is charged.

 

That sounds like a sweet deal. And it is.

 

But, personal finance experts will advise you to tread carefully. If you pay off the balance within the “no interest” timeframe, you’ll benefit from the sweet deal, by having deferred the payment. However, if you fall behind on payments, you’ll be hit with a high interest charge. It’s often 20% or more. That can add hundreds of dollars to what you would have originally paid for the purchase.

 

And, even if you paid down most of the balance within the no interest period, you can still get hit hard. Some “no interest” deals charge interest on the original financed amount — not just the remaining balance.

 

The best advice, according to personal finance experts, is to read the fine print carefully and pay off the balance as promptly as you can.

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Watch any TV cooking show, and you’ll notice that a chef’s kitchen looks quite a bit different than what you’d find in most homes. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have one just like it in your home! With a little remodeling, and splurging on some new items, you too can have a kitchen worthy of Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, or Rachel Ray.

 

Chefs love counter space. So, when remodeling, plan to create as much as possible. If you have an existing island, for example, you can replace the countertop with a larger one. Just adding eight inches in both directions will make a big difference.

 

Most chefs have more than one oven. If that’s impractical for you, consider buying a double-oven stove. Also, chefs prefer gas burners for quicker heatup times and exacting control of cooking temperature.

 

One thing you’ll notice about chefs is they love stainless steel. That’s because it’s easy-to-clean, hygienic and durable (assuming you take care of it).

 

Finally, because chefs spend so much time in the kitchen, they want the space to be attractive and comfortable. So, when remodeling, keep decor in mind.

 

Even if you’re just an amateur chef, creating a chef-worthy kitchen will make the foodie in you smile

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Sometimes the reason for putting your home on the market is crystal clear. For example, you might have a job relocation and need to move. Or, you might have decided to downsize because the kids have left the nest.

 

However, there are many other motivations to list your home that are not as obvious, and yet are still good reasons to make a move. Here are just a few examples...

 

       • You’re bored with your home and are looking for a change.

       • There’s something you’ve always wanted in a home that your current property doesn’t have, such as a wooded                backyard.

       • You want to be closer to work, or to activities you enjoy, such as golf.

       • You want to be closer to family.

       • The neighbourhood is changing in a way that no longer fits the lifestyle you want.

       • There’s another neighbourhood you’ve always dreamed of living in.

       • Your tastes have changed and you want to live in a different type of home.

 

None of these reasons makes it an absolute necessity to list your property and find a new home. Yet, they’re all worth considering, especially if moving will make you and your family happier, and provide you with a more desirable lifestyle.

 

Want to talk about the possibilities? Call today.

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Your neighbourhood has a lot of features that can help sell your home faster. Unfortunately, buyers don’t usually notice those features just by driving around. So, you need to make sure they get all the information they need about your neighbourhood.

 

For example, say homes don’t go on the market often in your area. That’s an indication that the quality of life in the neighbourhood is so good that no one wants to leave! In real estate we measure the area’s “turnover rate”, and it’s handy data to have when listing your home.

 

Another bit of data that buyers can’t simply see is the local crime rate. But, most police departments keep those statistics. If your neighbourhood has a low crime rate, that’s an obvious plus to sellers.

 

Demographic data can also be helpful when selling your property. If your neighbourhood has a lot of families, for example, that’s going to be appealing to buyers with kids.

 

Even local development plans can play a role in making your home more attractive to buyers. If a new ramp to a major highway is in the works nearby, getting to work is going to be easier. That’s a big benefit to commuters.

 

Other types of data that can help sell your home include:

 

          • Planned local construction.

 

          • Proposals for neighbourhood improvements. (For example, a new playground.)

 

          • Rates at which local property values are increasing.

 

Any information that shows the advantages of living in your area is going to be useful when selling.

 

By the way, this is the kind of information I put together to provide to prospective buyers when selling your home. Contact me today.

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Have you ever considered renting out a room to a student or renovating your basement into a self-contained rental apartment?

 

It’s a big decision. There are many pros and cons to consider.

 

On the pro side, renting can provide you with additional income. An extra few hundred dollars a month can go a long way towards paying down your mortgage or splurging on an exotic summer vacation.

 

Creating rentable living space in your home — for example, an “in-law suite” featuring a kitchenette and bathroom — may also increase your property’s market value.

 

On the con side, you’ll have more costs and responsibilities as a landlord. For example, you might need to purchase extra insurance because basic home insurance policies typically do not cover rental units, even if you’re just renting out a room. You’ll also be responsible for dealing with repairs sometimes in the middle of the night.

 

Also, if you’re not careful about the renter you choose, you might end up with a “problem tenant”. For example, you could have a tenant who is consistently late on rent payments or simply stops paying. That can be stressful.

 

If you’re deciding whether or not to rent, be sure to check local laws and regulations. Many jurisdictions have very strict rules regarding renting out space in a residential property, and those rules change frequently. Make sure you get the latest information.

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Hopefully, this will never happen to you. But, there are circumstances – a fire, for example – when you and your family would need to exit through a window.

 

It pays to be prepared for that eventuality.

 

Your first step is to determine which windows are safe to use as an exit. There should be at least one on each level.

 

The windows you select will need to provide enough space for a person to climb through (at least a 20 inch opening). Make sure everyone knows which windows are “safe exit” windows, and how to open them. Keep in mind that windows may have screens, so ensure everyone knows how to remove those as well.

 

For a second floor window, consider purchasing a portable escape ladder. These are compact and easily stowed in a closet or under a bed. When you need it, it hangs off the sill and expands into a ladder all the way to the ground. It’s not designed for everyday use, but it will get you and your family out!

 

Rehearsal is a good idea. You want everyone to know how to get to the nearest “safe exit” window – especially in the dark.

 

Finally, keep your windows in a good state of repair. According to the National Fire Safety Association, windows should open easily for everyone, and should not have anything in front of them that will prevent or delay a quick exit.

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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.

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You never want to smell smoke in your home and realize there’s a fire. That’s why it is important to be diligent about fire safety. Experts recommend that homeowners be especially careful with the following common household items:

 

• Portable heaters. Never leave one in a room unattended. Make sure paper and other combustible materials are well away from these units.

 

• Electronics chargers. We all want our computers, tablets and smartphones to charge quickly. The price we pay for that convenience is chargers that pull in a lot of power, making them very hot. Keep them away from combustible material, as well as other wiring.

 

• Smoking materials. Be careful with cigarettes, pipes, cigars and other such items. Bedding and upholstery, which burn slowly and dangerously, are the source of 75% of smoking-related fires.

 

• Candles. Never leave candles unattended for any reason. If you must leave the room, extinguish them.

 

• Flammable liquids. These can include paints, thinners and some brands of cleaning products. Read labels carefully and follow the safety instructions.

 

To paraphrase a famous expression: An ounce of prevention is worth not having to deal with a house fire.

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Buyers are using the internet to search for properties more than ever before. In some cases, they can even go on a “virtual” tour of a home using their smartphone or desktop computer. So, you might be wondering if the oldfashioned Open House still works these days?

 

The answer is yes. Otherwise, you wouldn’t see them advertised. If Open Houses didn’t work, no one would be doing them!

 

No matter how good the internet gets, it can’t compete with a buyer being able to visit a property in person, walk through the rooms, stand in the backyard and imagine himself BBQ-ing with his family, stroll the area, and meet neighbours.

 

An Open House makes it easy for buyers to do just that.

 

It’s an open invitation for them to come by at a specific date and time, to see the property and chat with the REALTOR®. It’s a casual environment, which many buyers prefer. Some buyers, in fact, are more comfortable going to an Open House before scheduling a private viewing.

 

Will you need an Open House to sell your home?

 

That depends on a lot of factors. When I work with clients, I put together a marketing plan designed to sell the property quickly and for the best price possible. Depending on the circumstances, that may or may not include an Open House.

 

If you have questions about what would be involved in a quick and successful sale of your home, contact me. I’d be happy to chat and answer your questions.

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You’re at work when the thought hits you, “Did I lock the door when I left this morning?” You check your smartphone, see that you didn’t, and click the “LOCK” button. Now your house is secure.

 

That’s home automation for you!

 

But, is home automation a good idea? That depends on a number of factors.

 

On the pro side, home automation can improve your quality of life. There are automation products that will adjust heating/cooling depending on whether or not you’re home, make your morning coffee when you get out of bed, and the list goes on and on. These conveniences save you time.

 

Home automation can also give you peace-of-mind. It’s comforting to be able to remotely see the inside of your home and check that everything’s okay.

 

Home automation can also make your property more appealing to buyers. Traditionally, buyers like homes with security systems, and will appreciate other automation gizmos, too.

 

The only downside is the cost. Like most new technology, home automation products can be pricey and may become out-of-date within just a few years.

 

Thinking about it? Experts advise you to do your research first. Check out product reviews online. Then, if you determine that a particular product is going to benefit you, go for it!

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Is selling your property the furthest thing from your mind? Well, here are some reasons for listing your property that you might not have considered.

 

1. Your property may be worth more than you think. (It’s difficult to determine market value on your own. I can calculate it for you. Give me a call.)

 

2. You might qualify for a better home than you anticipate.

 

3. Perhaps you are tired of your current property and want a change.

 

4. There may be homes on the market in a neighbourhood in which you’ve always wanted to live.

 

5. Your current property may no longer meet your needs.

 

6. Your neighbourhood may have changed in ways you don’t like.

 

7. You might be ready to downsize or upsize and you no longer want to put that off.

 

8. You may want to sell in the fall, so you can have a fresh start in a new home in the new year.

 

9. Depending on the type of home you’re considering, you could end up with lower mortgage payments or no mortgage at all.

 

10.You might want to move to a home that’s more conveniently located near work, family and hobbies.

 

Of course, you may have your own reasons for listing this month. Why not discuss them with a real estate expert? Me. I can answer your questions and explain the options available to you.

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According to a recent study, the average homeowner pays more attention to kitchen stove safety than they do BBQ safety. But, the fact is, a BBQ mishap can be just as devastating. So, it pays to know the latest safety tips.

 

     • Keep BBQs at least 8 feet away from your house.

   

     • Check for venture tube blockages regularly. (Spiders are notorious for spinning webs in there.)

 

     • Clean the grill frequently to prevent flare ups. A grease fire on the grill can continue burning                                              even after you’ve turned the BBQ off.

 

     • Don’t position your BBQ close to foliage, such as under a tree or next to shrubs.

 

     • Never BBQ in an enclosed area, such as a garage, even if the space is well ventilated.

 

     • Avoid leaving the grill unattended, especially when cooking greasy foods such as sausages, beef burgers or steaks.

 

     • Do not let children BBQ.

 

Finally, make sure your BBQ is turned completely off after use. It’s a good idea to double-check this when making the rounds and locking up your home for the night.

 

Experts say you should treat a BBQ as you would a camp fire — with care.

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You might naturally assume that it is most important to talk to a Realtor when you’re selling or buying a home. But there are many other circumstances in which it makes sense to give me a call. Here are a few examples.

 

1. When you’re at the “thinking about it” stage

 

If you’re just thinking about selling your home, and haven’t made a firm decision yet, you might feel uncomfortable calling a Realtor. Don’t be. In fact, I welcome your call. We can discuss what your current property will likely sell for on today’s market, and determine the type of home you qualify to buy. That way, you’ll have some clarity and be able to make a more informed decision.

 

2. If you’re nervous about the selling process

 

If you haven’t sold a home before, you might be concerned about what’s involved in the process. You might even worry that putting your home on the market is going to be a lot of work and create a lot of turbulence for you and your family.

 

Fortunately, selling your home doesn’t need to be scary. In fact, a big part of my job as a Realtor is to make the process as smooth and trouble-free as possible.

 

So if you have concerns about selling your home, you should give me a call.

 

3. If you have questions

 

You likely have questions about the local real estate scene from time to time. You might have questions like: “How much did that home around the corner sell for?”; “Is now a good time to make a move, or should I wait until the market changes?”; and, “How much is my current home worth?”

 

When you have questions like those, you don’t need to dig for answers on your own. You can give me a call. As an expert in the local market, I can give you the answers you need.

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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.

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If you want to transform a room into something that’s functional, beautiful and perfectly matched to your taste, then you might want to hire an interior designer.

 

It’s an interior designer’s job to come up with imaginative ideas that will wow you.

 

It’s a myth that interior designers just deal with paint colours, décor and furnishings. In fact, according to the Interior Designers Institute, these professionals have the training needed to handle all aspects of a renovation or remodeling project, including selecting and managing contractors. They can direct a project from beginning to end.

 

If you want to renovate your basement into a stunning home theatre and gathering place, an interior designer can:

 

• Draw out several concepts for you to choose from,

 

• Purchase the best building materials,

 

• Hire the contractors, and

 

• Manage the project.

 

He or she can even pick out classic movie pictures for the walls!

 

There are many professional associations that have “Find an Interior Designer” links on their websites. In the U.S. check out the Professional Association for Interior Designers (www.asid.org). In Canada, it’s the Interior Designers of Canada (www.idcanada.org).

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Some people don’t give hallways much thought when painting and decorating. Instead, they focus on rooms.

 

The fact is, a great looking hallway can have the same, if not more, impact than the most eye-catching family room or bedroom, especially when you need to go through the hallway to get there!

 

Here are some painting tips that can bring a dull hallway to life:

 

      • Paint the hallway the reverse of the rooms around it. If the rooms are dark, use light colours in the hall. If the rooms         feature simple colours, consider being more dramatic in your choice of hallway paint.

 

      • In a longer hallway, using two shades of the same colour on perpendicular walls can make the space seem less             tunnel-like. (The darker shade goes on the shorter walls.)

 

      • Darker colours can work well if the space is well-lit and there are few, if any, shadows cast.

 

      • If you decide to paint the halls white, select an off-white or eggshell white. Avoid stark white as it will reflect light in           a way that’s unpleasant.

 

One more tip: Pictures can go a long way in making a hallway look inviting, regardless of the wall colour.

 

Good luck with the painting!

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Imagine there’s a neighbourhood you’d love to live in someday, but, every time you drive through, you rarely, if ever, see a For Sale sign. It’s as if homes get gobbled up by buyers the moment they get listed.

 

It’s true, properties do tend to sell quickly in desirable, in-demand neighbourhoods. Does that mean you’re destined to either hope for a lucky break or miss out on ever living there?

 

Fortunately, no. There are practical things you can do to increase your chances of getting into that neighbourhood.

 

Your first step is to find out the kind of new home you can afford. You want to get your financial ducks in a row so when a listing does come up in the area, you’re able to respond quickly. Find out the average price range of homes in the neighbourhood. Then, if necessary, talk to your lender or mortgage broker.

 

The second step is to get your current property ready for sale. You don’t necessary need to list it now, but you want to be in a position to do so quickly, if necessary. You may need to clean up and declutter, get repairs done, and spruce up your home in other ways.

 

The third step is to talk to me.

 

You see, listings in popular neighbourhoods often move fast. By the time you see them advertised on the internet, they may be gone. I can closely monitor listings in that area for you, so the moment one comes up that meets your criteria, you can be alerted. This greatly increases your chances of getting that home.

 

So if there is a dream neighbourhood you’d love to get into, give me a call.

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Data supplied by CREB®’s MLS ® System. CREB® is the owner of the copyright in its MLS® System. The Listing data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by CREB®.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.
The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS®, and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.