April 4, 2017
How Long Will Your Home Appliances Last?
If you’re paying a lot of money for a new washing machine, wouldn’t it be nice to know how long you should expect it to last? There is, of course, no exact formula for figuring that out. Every brand and unit is different. There are however, some broad estimates.
According to an article in Consumer Reports, a washer and dryer will hum along just fine for about 10 years, with a likelihood of needing a repair during the last two to three. Leading brands offer a parts and labour guarantee for at least a year. So, if something goes wrong during that period, be sure to contact the manufacturer right away.
The National Association of Home Builders released a report a few years ago on the longevity of kitchen appliances. They found that refrigerators can last up to 13 years under normal use. Dishwashers and ovens will start to show their age after nine years. The worst record is for trash compactors, with a life expectancy of only six years before repairs or replacement is required.
Microwave ovens last an average of nine years. However, the door seal should be checked often. Otherwise, the unit will quickly lose efficiency. (You’ll notice this when your food doesn’t heat up as quickly and evenly.)
All experts agree that the best way to keep home appliances functioning properly is to follow manufacturer’s instructions for use and maintenance. If you’ve lost your user’s manual, you can download a new one (which may contain important updates) from the manufacturer’s website.
February 2, 2017
Your Exit Plan in Case of a Fire
In almost every movie featuring a house on fire, the actors seem to be able to move around the house and see just fine, while beating back flames with a shirt or coat. Of course, that’s not what happens in real fires.
When there’s fire in a home, there is typically complete darkness (because the power goes out) and a cloud of spreading thick, black smoke makes it difficult to see and breathe.
That’s why knowing how to get out of your house — fast — is crucial.
Experts recommend rehearsing what to do in case there’s a fire. Make sure everyone in the family has an exit plan. Each should know exactly how to get out, including primary and secondary exits, and where the family will meet once safely outside.
Never attempt to take anything with you. It may seem like you have plenty of time to grab a coat or purse, but the characteristics of a fire can change in seconds.
As a failsafe, in case you can’t exit through a door, you should determine in advance which window has the safest exit. Make sure that the window opens easily and everyone knows how to remove the screen or any other obstruction.
Finally, don’t call the fire department from inside your house. Get out first, then make the call.
January 3, 2017
What Does a Property Surveyor Do?
Property Surveyors, sometimes referred to as land Surveyors, play a vital role in the real estate world. They are the professionals who determine or confirm the exact boundaries of a property.
Will you need to deal with a Property Surveyor when selling your home?
Sometimes the mortgage lender will ask for a land survey, especially if your property is older and hasn’t changed hands in many years. You might also be asked for one by the buyer if there is any confusion about the size and boundaries of your property – or if significant changes have been made to it in recent years.
This is nothing to be concerned about.
A qualified Property Surveyor will do the appropriate inspection and measurements on your property and issue you the survey. (It looks a little like a blueprint.)
Property Surveyors are highly trained and licensed. In the United States, the profession is represented by the National Society of Professional Surveyors, with each state having its own governing body. In Canada, Professional Surveyors Canada (PSC) represents the profession nationally, and most provinces have their own professional associations.
Before getting a new land survey, make sure you don’t already have one. Hopefully, you’ve stored the paperwork that relates to the purchase of your home. Look through it. A valid land survey might be right there.
If you have questions about land surveys, call today.
December 2, 2016
Are You Ready to Buy Up?
No matter how much you love your current property, you may be dreaming of the day you can buy up into a better home in a better neighbourhood.
Is that day today, or, is it a few years down the road?
Here’s a quick way to make that assessment.
First, make a list of all the practical reasons why it might be time to move up. Those reasons might include features such as: more bedrooms, proximity to work and school, a larger backyard with trees, nearby parks and walking paths and better access to things you enjoy like theatre.
Next, make a list of the emotional reasons for making such a move. Those reasons might include memorable get-togethers with friends on a more spacious deck, an easier and less stressful commute to work, more family time with the kids and enjoyable Saturday golf at a nearby course.
Finally, take a financial snapshot to determine if you can afford to move up. You’ll need to get a good idea of what your current property will sell for in today’s market, average price of homes in your desired neighbourhood, and how much mortgage you’ll need.
Once you have all that down on paper, you’ll have a clear picture of your readiness. If the practical and emotional reasons for buying up are compelling, and you can afford to make the move, then you have your answer.
The time is now!
By the way, if you need help in making this determination – especially figuring out what your home will likely sell for, call today.
November 21, 2016
Should You Worry About Moisture on Windows?
You’re standing by your window admiring the view. Then you notice it. Moisture has built-up around the edges of the glass. Should you worry?
It all depends on the reason for the build up.
Assuming you have traditional double-pane glass in your windows, there are a few things to look for if you notice moisture.
Often, moisture at the bottom of the windows is simply caused by too much humidity in your indoor air. If that’s the case, simply adjust your humidifier.
If the moisture is on the exterior of the window, typically there’s also no problem with the window itself. It may have rained recently or the outside humidity may have spiked causing the accumulation. Generally, there’s no reason for concern.
However, if the moisture is in between the two panes of glass, the seal has broken and surrounding air – along with its water content – has made its way in. This disrupts the thermal barrier of the window, reducing its energy efficiency. In fact, the glass might feel noticeably colder than your other windows on chilly days. In that case, you’ll need to replace the pane.
Similarly, if the moisture is coming in through only one spot — the bottom right corner, for example — then you might have a leak. If you have a wood frame or sill, you may also notice a growing water stain. It’s important to get leaks fixed quickly. There may be water damage occurring within the frame that you cannot see.
March 14, 2016
Surprising Ways Buyers Find Homes
Do you ever wonder how most people find the homes they eventually buy? You might imagine them driving by a “For Sale” sign or seeing a home for sale in the newspaper and then calling to enquire.
Of course, many buyers find out about listed properties that way. But, according to research by the National Association of Realtors, there are many other — sometimes surprising — ways buyers find their next dream home.
- 88% of buyers find a home with the help of a real estate agent.
- 90% of buyers search online as part of the home buying process. (Such as viewing a property’s profile on the agent’s website.)
- 69% of buyers searching for a home using Google, use a specific local term, such as “Whitby-south homes for sale”.
- 29-46% of buyers attend an Open House as part of their home hunting activities.
Overall, the research shows that buyers are using a multitude of ways — combining online and offline methods — to find homes.
What does all this mean to you? If means that if you’re preparing your home for sale, you need to ensure your marketing plan takes into account all the ways buyers are finding properties — so you can be sure that they will find yours.
Looking for a REALTOR® who knows how to market your home for maximum exposure? Call today.
February 24, 2016
The Latest in Kitchen Fire Prevention. What You Need to Know.
The Latest in Kitchen Fire Prevention. What You Need to Know.
More fires start in the kitchen than in any other room. Those fires can be expensive; since even a minor incident, with no injuries, can result in significant damage. That’s why it’s important to keep up with the latest in fire prevention.
The most recent research tells us:
• Never leave cooking food unattended. Doing so is the number one cause of kitchen fires.
• Make sure cooking appliances, especially deep fryers, are safety certified by the appropriate government agency.
• When using oil in a frying pan, always heat slowly at no more than a medium heat setting.
• Always turn off stove burners and other cooking appliances immediately after cooking.
• Never attempt to put out a grease fire with water. Use baking soda or a fire extinguisher.
• Never remove or cover up a smoke detector due to nuisance alarms. The one alarm that isn’t a nuisance may save your life.
Finally, experts say that if you can’t put out a fire immediately, get everyone out of the home and call emergency services.
For everything else give me a call 604-859-2341.
February 12, 2016
When Is the Right Time to Talk to a REALTOR®?
When would you talk to a car salesperson? Probably only once you’re ready to buy a new car. You would do some initial research (perhaps on the internet), get an idea of what you want, and then go to the dealership to meet a salesperson, test drive the car and make the purchase.
Although that approach may work when you’re buying a car, it’s not the best approach when it comes to real estate.
You see, successfully buying or selling a home requires a lot of planning and legwork. You want the process to go smoothly, the right decisions to be made, and the best possible deal to be negotiated.
After all, this is the purchase and/or sale of your home!
So, the best time to talk to a REALTOR® is as early in the process as possible.
In fact, even if you’re just thinking of buying or selling — and simply want to explore the possibility of making a move sometime this year — you should have a conversation with a good REALTOR®.
A REALTOR® will answer your questions, provide you with the information and insights you need, help you avoid costly mistakes, and make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
When you are ready to buy or sell, having worked with a REALTOR® early in the process will help ensure you get what you want.
So talk to a good REALTOR® when:
- You have a question about the local market.
- You want to know what your home might sell for today.
- You’re interested in checking out homes currently available on the market.
- You’re in the midst of deciding whether or not to make a move.
- You’ve decided to buy or sell.
January 16, 2016
Simple Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Utility Costs
Many homeowners think there’s not much they can do about telephone, heating, water and other utility expenses. Sure, you may grumble about a high heating bill one month, but what can you do about it?
Turns out, you can do plenty. There are several ways to reduce monthly utility costs that can save you tens or even hundreds of dollars. For example:
- Shop around for a better phone plan. Then contact your phone company. They might match the rates.
- Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. You likely don’t need tap water to be that hot.
- Clean the screen on your outside air conditioning unit regularly. (Gently with the water hose.) Dirt and leaves can build up on it, reducing the unit’s efficiency.
- Leverage the sun. Open curtains in the winter to gain heat. Block direct sunlight in summer to keep the cool air inside.
- Scrutinize your bill. There may be extras you’re paying for that you don’t need.
- Play with the thermostat. Experiment with setting the temperature a couple of degrees lower. You might not notice any difference.
It’s worth paying attention to your utility costs. Just a few smart moves can save you some serious money.
November 22, 2015
Making Your Home Critter Proof
You may love animals, but with the exception of your family pets, you don’t want them in your home. Here are some tips for keeping the wildlife around your property where it belongs: outside.
- Don’t place bird feeders too close to your windows. Doing so may cause birds to associate a window with food and therefore try to peck their way inside.
- Make sure window screens are secure. If you can push a screen loose with your hand, so can a bird or other animal.
- Check screens on dryer vents and chimneys. If they are damaged, fix or replace them.
- To determine how animals are entering your home, stuff wadded paper in the suspected entry point. If the paper is disturbed the next day, you’ll know where they got in.
- Never leave food outside, unattended. After a barbeque, for example, take all remaining food inside.
If you do find an animal in your home, never try to pick it up. It may bite or have rabies. Instead, call a professional.
November 19, 2015
What Buyers Don’t Want to See in Your Backyard
When you put your home up for sale, you want it to look its best to potential buyers. That’s why you clean, tidy and de-clutter every room.
Some sellers, however, miss the backyard. You need to pay just as much attention to that space as you do to the interior of your home. The backyard is as important a living space as the family room. To some buyers, even more.
Buyers want to see an attractive backyard space, with the grass cut and the hedges trimmed.
The more neat and tidy you can make it, the better. Be sure to sweep walkways and wipe down patio furniture.
Also, watch out for the following things that buyers do not want to see:
- Bags of garage and other waste.
- Doggie do-do. (Be sure to stoop and scoop!)
- Rakes and other tools piled in the corner.
- Cluttered and disorganized storage sheds, pool huts and other backyard structures.
- Weeds in the flower beds.
- Items stored underneath the deck.
- Hoses not stowed neatly.
- Electrical outlets and water faucets that don’t work.
These are not difficult issues to fix. Doing so will positively impact the impression the buyer gets of your backyard.
Do you have a backyard that shows particularly well in the summer? Here’s a tip: Take pictures. Those photos will help buyers be able to appreciate how it looks should you list your home in the winter.
Want more tips on making your home show well so that it sells fast? Call today.
September 25, 2015
Concerned about Condensation on Windows?
If you see a haze of condensation on your window, should you be concerned? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on a number of factors.
First of all, an occasional build-up of condensation is normal and often the result of fluctuating humidity in the home. Usually, it’s nothing to worry about. If you’re using a humidifier, try adjusting the levels. If the humidity is being generated naturally, try placing a dehumidifier nearby. Also, remove any plants and firewood from the area, as they can release a surprising volume of moisture into the air.
Do you see moisture in between the panes of glass that make up the window? If so, that means the seal has failed and moisture has crept in. Double and triple pane windows often contain a gas (argon, for example) that boosts the insulating qualities of the window. When the seal fails, the gas disappears, making the glass colder and often allowing condensation to creep in. Eventually, you’ll want to get it replaced.
If you see moisture build-up anywhere on the frame of the window, particularly at the joints, that could be a sign of water leaking through. That’s an issue you should get checked out immediately by a window contractor.
September 14, 2015
How to Deal with a Low-Ball Offer
How to Deal with a Low-Ball Offer
If you take care to price your home correctly — that is, at a price that is in line with what similar properties in the area have sold for recently — then you have a good chance of selling it at or near your asking price.
That doesn’t mean you won’t get a low-ball offer. You might. So what do you do when that happens?
First, understand that the buyer may not necessarily be trying to steal away your home at a bargain-basement price. He might simply be mistaken about its true market value. Of course, he might also be coming in at a low price in the hopes he’ll get lucky.
You will never actually know the buyer’s motives. So it would be a mistake to get angry or dismiss the offer out-of-hand. That low-ball offer might end up being the beginning of a negotiation that results in you selling your home at a good price.
Your first step is to work with your REALTOR® to determine:
- How serious the buyer is.
- How qualified the buyer is. (For example, does he have a pre-approved mortgage?)
- How amenable the buyer is to a counter-offer that reflects the true market value of your home.
- What that counter-offer should be.
This isn’t an easy process. It takes knowledge and experience to get it right. That’s why working with a good REALTOR® is essential.
Looking for a REALTOR® who is an expert at this stuff? Call today.
August 14, 2015
Discovering that a home you like has “issues”
Say you’re viewing a home and are impressed with how it looks. The walls
are freshly painted. Everything seems bright and new. You’re considering
making an offer.
Then, while standing on a mat in the kitchen, you hear a squeak below your
feet. You lift the mat and see that some tiles are broken. Obviously the mat
was there to, literally, cover up that defect.
A few broken tiles are not a big deal. But now you’re thinking, “What else
might be wrong with this house?”
There’s no reason to worry that every home will have maintenance issues
hidden from view. However, it’s smart to do your due diligence to ensure the
home you’re considering is truly as good as it looks.
One way is to have a professional home inspector check out the property as
a condition of your purchase offer. He or she will inspect the home from top
to bottom, inside and out, and point out any issues you should address.
It’s also smart to ask questions. Find out the age of certain features, such as
the roof, furnace, and appliances. Ask about any recent renovations, and
determine whether they were done by a professional or by the homeowner.
Most importantly, work with a good REALTOR® who can provide you with
information on the property that you would have difficulty getting on your
own. Your REALTOR® has a stake in making sure you buy a home with
your eyes wide open — knowing all the potential maintenance issues you’re
likely to encounter.
Want to talk to a good REALTOR®? Call today.
July 28, 2015
How Much Should You Budget for Home Maintenance?
If you own a car, you know there’s more to the cost-of-ownership than just finance payments and gas. You also need to budget for maintenance andrepairs. If your car is older, those costs are going to be higher. That’s just common sense.
The same is true of your home. It’s wise to budget for anticipated repairs and maintenance. Otherwise, you might be caught by surprise when you find that your furnace stops working and needs to be replaced. That can easily be a four-figure expense.
Experts recommend that you set aside 1% of the value of your home for repairs and maintenance. For a $500,000 property, for example, that would be $5,000. That is, of course, merely a rule of thumb. If your home is older, you may need to budget more.
Another recommended method is to budget $1 a square foot. If you have a 2,500 square foot home, that would be a budget of $2,500. Again, that number would need to be higher for older properties.
When budgeting, consider things that are getting old and will likely need to be replaced within the next three years. Examples include roof shingles, furnace, A/C unit, deck, fence, plumbing, and windows. Depending on the size and model, a new A/C unit will cost at least $5,000. Anticipating that expense will help you plan accordingly and avoid the shock of an unpleasant and costly surprise.
Keep in mind that budgeting $2,000 for repairs and maintenance doesn’t mean you’ll actually spend that money this year. But, if needed, the budget will be there, and that’s peace-of-mind.
July 6, 2015
The “3 U p” Strategy for Selling Your Home Quickly
There are many reasons why you may need to sell your home quickly: a sudden job relocation; a change in family situation; or perhaps an opportunity to purchase a new home that you just can’t pass up. Whatever the reason, this strategy will help when you need to sell fast.
It’s called the “3Up” strategy.
•Fix it up.
•Clean it up.
•Spruce it up.
First, you need to fix it up. That simply means getting things repaired around your property, such as a broken floor tile in the kitchen or a sticking patio door that’s difficult to open and close. Maintenance issues like these distract buyers from the appealing qualities of your home. Fortunately, repairs can usually be done quickly.
Second, clean it up. Obviously, when your home is clean and tidy it’s going to look its best. You also want to eliminate as much clutter as possible. You don’t need to make every room look like a magazine cover — but that’s a good attitude to have when prepping your home for a quick sale!
Finally, spruce it up. That means making any quick improvements that are going to make your home even more appealing. It might mean replacing the kitchen counters or giving the main rooms a fresh coat of paint. Of course, the number one strategy for getting that SOLD sign on your front yard is to select a great REALTOR®.
Looking for a great REALTOR®? Call today.
May 25, 2015
Upgrades That Hold Their Value
Do you have a renovation project in mind–and wonder how much value it will add to your home? Remodeling Magazine recently did a study of renovation projects, comparing costs to added value. Here are some of the results:
Replacing a main entry door has a return on investment of over 95%. After all, the entrance to a home is one of the first things a prospective buyer notices.
Adding a new deck also adds a lot of value. Depending on the materials used, you can expect to get back three-quarters of the money invested.
Another high-payback project is the garage door. This once again
demonstrates the importance of a home’s “curb appeal.” If you’re tackling a big project, such as a basement renovation, you’ll be
glad to know that, according to the study, a project like this adds a lot of value.
Finally, minor improvements to bathrooms and kitchens–such as adding new countertops or cupboards, can also be good investments that mostly pay back when you sell your home. Of course, these figures are averages and can vary widely depending on
location, type of property, and other factors.
Need help determining how a particular home improvement might impact the selling price? Call today.
May 6, 2015
“Closing Day ” Terminology You Need To Know
Closing day is an exciting time. After all, you’re moving into your new home! However, it can be stressful as well. The last thing you need is to be confronted with something you don’t understand. So here is a quick list of common “closing day” terms.
- Disbursements. This is the allocation of funds to the appropiate parties, such as the seller. Your lawyer will take care of this for you.
- Possession. This is the moment on closing day or a few days after when you are legally able to take possession of your new home. It's usually when your REALTOR® will hand you the keys.
- Title. This is a legal document that identifies the property and its owner.
- Closing Costs. These are expenses, exluding the selling cost of the property, that are due on closing day, such as legal fees, reimbursement for pre-paid utilties, utility deposits, insurance, and taxes.
- Closing Adjustments. These are expenses pre-paid by the seller that need to be reimbursed on closing.
There may be other terms you come across on closing day as well. Don’t worry, a good REALTOR® can help make the day go smoothly for you and your family.
Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call today
April 15, 2015
Easy-to Miss Home Security Tips for Your Vacation
If you’re relaxing on a Caribbean beach, or enjoying a bus tour through historic Paris, the last thing you want to worry about is your home. Most people know the basics of keeping a home secure while away.
Here are some additional tips that are easy to miss:
• Tell your kids not to boast about your fabulous vacation plans,
especially on social media. The fewer who know that the house will
be empty, the better.
• Ask a neighbour to pick up any mail and flyers dropped at your doorstep. But don’t rely on that alone. Also call the newspaper and
post office to temporarily halt delivery.
• You can buy timers to automatically turn lights on and off. However,
most will stop working if the power goes out and restart with
the incorrect time when the power comes back on. That’s why you
should keep at least a couple of lights turned on continuously, and
not connected to timers.
• If you’re leaving in the evening, or before dawn, don’t forget to open
the blinds. Closed blinds during the day are a dead giveaway that the
owners are away.
Finally, experts recommend creating a home security checklist, so you don’t forget anything. That will give you peace of mind.
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