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
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?
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.
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-
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?
There are many reasons why the air quality in your home may not be at its best. A faulty furnace or an aged carpet are just two potential culprits.
Until you get those issues addressed, how do you make your indoor air healthier — today?
Here are some ideas:
Check the furnace filter. This is one of the most overlooked maintenance items in the home. Any furnace repair person can tell you stories about filters they’ve seen caked in dust. Make sure those aren’t yours. Air passes through those filters before circulating throughout your home. Replacing a filter takes less than five minutes.
Clean the drains. Drains are a surprisingly common source of odour in the home. Most people only clean them when they’re clogged, but they should be flushed thoroughly with a good-quality cleaner at least once a season.
Turn on the bathroom fan. Not only do bathroom fans remove odour, they also reduce moisture build-up. About 50% of air pollutants originate from some type of moisture; mould being the worst. Professionals recommend you keep the bathroom fan on for at least 30 minutes after a shower.
Clean your doormat. Even if your doormat doesn’t smell, it can be a source of air pollutants. When people wipe their shoes, they transfer pesticides and other outside ground pollutants from their shoes to your mat.
Of course, you can always open a window. That’s the most popular way to freshen the air, and it works.
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®?
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.
As you’re probably aware, the list price you set for your property has an impact on how quickly it sells — and how much you earn on the sale.
What you may not realize is just how significant an impact it has. Consider the following examples.
You price your property well above its current market value. As a result, many buyers don’t bother to see it because it’s outside of their price range. Those who do see it are confused by the high price tag, (and may even be suspicious.) They may wonder, “What’s going on?”
In this scenario, the home will likely languish on the market for weeks or even months. You might even have to lower the price dramatically to re- ignite interest.
You price your property just a couple of percentage points lower than what is necessary to gain the interest of qualified buyers. That might not seem like much of a problem. How much can a couple of percentage points matter?
Those points matter a lot.
On a $400,000 property, pricing your home just 2% lower than necessary could cost you $8,000 on the sale. That’s a serious amount of money!
So, as you can see, pricing your home right is serious business. Fortunately, a good REALTOR® knows how to set the right price.
Looking for a good REALTOR®?
When you’re out-of-town, there are plenty of kennels and other facilities that will mind your dog or cat. In fact, the pet-care business is booming! However, the same options aren’t available for your houseplants. So what do you do?
First, keep in mind that plants can go for several days or even a couple of weeks without water. This frequently happens in their natural habitats. So if you’re gone for just a few days, your flora will probably be fine.
Flowering plants tend to need the most water. Give them an extra dose just before you leave. Also, make sure they are in indirect, rather than direct sunlight. That will help them conserve water.
If you’re going to be away for a week or more, consider one of the several products on the market that water plants automatically. Many of these allow you to adjust how much water each plant gets — and when.
You’ll find plenty of do-it-yourself instructions for making your own automatic waterer on the internet, from plastic cups with tiny holes in the bottom to upside-down bottles with wicks. These might work, but you’ll want to test them first.
Of course, your best option might be to have a friend or trusted neighbour take care of the plants for you. Just be sure to give them clear instructions.
Your houseplants will thank you.
When you make an offer on a home, it’s a smart idea to have a professional home inspector check it out from top to bottom. This inspection will ensure that the property doesn’t have any unexpected “issues”. After all, you don’t want to buy a home only to discover that the roof needs to be replaced, immediately, for thousands of dollars.
That being said, you might question whether you really need to invest the few hundred dollars it costs for a professional home inspection. “The home we want to buy looks like it’s in very good shape,” you might be thinking. “I can’t see anything wrong with it.”
However, a professional home inspector can see things you can’t. When you view a property that’s on the market, you might be able to notice obvious issues, like a crack in the foundation or a dripping faucet. If you’re experienced with home maintenance, you might even notice roofing tiles that look like they’re overdue for replacement.
But you won’t pick up all the issues a home inspector can.
A home inspector will, for example, use a special device to check for moisture build-up in the washrooms – which can be an indication of mould. He or she will also inspect wiring to make sure everything is safe and compliant with the building code.
That’s not all.
Like a determined detective, a home inspector will investigate the property’s structure, electrical and plumbing systems, insulation, and other components — and then report the findings to you.
In the end, a professional home inspection gives you peace-of-mind and protects your investment. So getting one is highly recommended — even for recently built homes.
A good REALTOR® can recommend a trusted home inspector for you.
Looking for more ideas on making smart decisions when buying a home?
Shirley Brown 604-671-1060
The “3 Up” 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 “3 Up” 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.
Should You Sell First and Buy Later? Or Vice-Versa?
When you’re thinking of selling your home and buying another, you face the inevitable question: Should I list my property first or buy my new home first?
Let’s take a look at both options.
If you attempt to buy a property before listing your home, you run into a couple of challenges.
First, sellers may not take you seriously as a potential buyer. After all, you haven’t put your own home up for sale. As far as they’re concerned, you might merely be testing the market.
Second, your property might not sell as quickly as you thought it would. If there is an early closing date on the home you purchased, you might end up owning, and paying a mortgage on both properties, at least until your home sells.
If, on the other hand, you list your property before buying a new home, sellers will know you’re serious. That puts you in a competitive position in the event of multiple offers.
Also, if your home sells quickly, you’ll have the peace-of-mind of knowing exactly how much of a new home you can afford. You’ll be able to shop with confidence.
Of course, like the first option, there is a chance that the closing dates won’t match and you’ll end up owning two properties for a period of time. However, solutions such as bridge financing are available to help.
So, there is no perfect answer. A lot depends on the state of the local market.
Looking for a good REALTOR® who can help you decide which is the best move for you? Call today. 604-671-1060
Something has just spilled on your favorite rug or carpet. There's a stain forming. You're worried. Will you be able to remove it? Will the stain set and stay forever?
Luckily, there's a good chance you can completely lift just about any kind of stain – if you follow a few guidelines.
The first rule of stain removal is: act fast. The fresher the stain, the easier it is to lift. So when you notice a stain of any kind, start to work on it right away. Don't wait.
Begin by trying to dry blot the stain. Avoid the temptation of using a wet cloth or detergent, at least at this stage of the game. Blot the stain gently with a clean, dry cloth or absorbent paper towel. Be patient. It may take several minutes before you see any results.
If dry blotting doesn't completely lift the stain, mix up a combination of one glass of water with one teaspoon of lemon juice. Again, take a clean cloth or paper towel, wet it with the water/lemon mixture, and gently blot the area (test on an inconspicuous area first). Wait five minutes, then try dry blotting again.
You may have to repeat the above process a few times.
Using a vacuum cleaner directly over the affected area can also help lift more of the stain.
If, after all your efforts, some of the stain is still there, place a couple of sheets of paper towel over the stain, with a few books on top to maintain pressure. Leave those there for 24 hours. Check every hour or so. If you see stain on the paper towels, you know it's working.
If all else fails, consider calling in a professional cleaner. They know all the tricks and can often perform a miracle for you!
Why is it so important to know how much you can afford to spend on a home?
First, you don't want to buy a property and then find out, only after you’ve moved in, that you can't financially maintain it. That would mean having to resell it under stressful conditions.
Second, you don't want to settle for a property that's less than ideal, when you really could have afforded the "dream home" you've always wanted.
So how do you figure out how much you can afford to pay for your next home?
The first step is to talk to a good REALTOR®. I will help you gain a clearer understanding of how much your current home will likely sell for in today's market. That amount, together with other financial resources you might have (such as savings), will determine your down payment.
The next thing you’ll need to figure out is your mortgage. I can help you find a lender who will take a variety of factors into account – income, credit rating, debts, expected down payment, etc. – to calculate the maximum amount of mortgage for which you qualify.
Say, through the proceeds of the sale of your home combined with your savings, your expected down payment is $90,000. If the lender authorizes a mortgage of $270,000, then you can afford a $360,000 home.
Of course, that doesn't mean you'll need to spend that much. In fact, a home that meets your needs in terms of property type, features, and neighbourhood, may in fact cost you less.
One thing is for sure. A good REALTOR® can work with whatever amount you can afford and show you homes on the market that most closely meet your needs.
Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call me today.
Let's face it. Life can get complicated, complex and stressful very easily. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to simplify your life, especially at home. Here are some tips from the experts:
- Don't be ruled by the TV guide. Instead, select what you want to see and then record those shows. That way, you can watch them anytime.
- Prepare some meals in advance that can simply be heated up as needed. That reduces a lot of "after-work, gotta-get-dinner-ready" stress.
- Create a weekly dinner menu. It takes some time to prepare, but it allows you to shop effectively, and greatly reduces the stress of figuring out what to cook each day.
- Don't accumulate stuff you don't want or need. Give those things away.
- Simplify your cleaning by dividing tasks into ten minute chunks (such as vacuuming the living room.) Then fit those tasks in here and there whenever you have ten minutes.
- To avoid clutter, adopt the "touch it once" rule, which simply means putting things where they belong right away.
- Think of the home-related chore you hate doing most. Can you outsource that to a local company, or a neighbour looking for some work?
- Limit the time you and others in your family spend checking emails and text messages. Consider having an hour or two each evening that's "no screen" time.
- Develop healthy routines, such as evening walks and family board game night.
These are just a few ideas. If you want to simplify your home life, you can probably brainstorm several other strategies and habits you can try. The idea is to make your home an enjoyable place to be – for you and your family.
You will want to make the process of shopping for a home as productive and enjoyable as possible. After all, you'll be on a quest to find your next dream home. That's why it's important to take the right things with you:
- A digital camera, so you can take pictures of the features you like in the properties you see.
- A notepad, so you can take notes.
- Measurements of your largest pieces of furniture, so you can confirm they'll fit in the rooms of properties you like.
- A measuring tape.
- Some healthy snacks and beverages, (especially important if you're taking the kids along).
- A map of the area, so you can check out local parks and other neighbourhood features.
- Clear driving directions to each of the properties you want to see.
One of the best ways to shop for a home, and actually enjoy the experience, is to work with a great REALTOR®.
You might have hired a painter, plumber, or renovator several times during your history of home ownership. But how many times have you hired a decorator?
For many homeowners, hiring a decorator is a first time experience. That’s what makes knowing how to choose the right one so challenging.
Here's a tip: Clip photos from magazines of rooms that match the "look and style" you want. Pay particular attention to desired colours, decor, accents, furnishings, and themes.
Then, when meeting with a prospective decorator, see if there's anything in his or her portfolio that matches your clippings. If there is, then you’ll have a good indication that he or she can pull off the look you want.
If you've been thinking about selling your home, you might be waiting until the "market is right". After all, if the local market suddenly booms, your property will likely sell for a higher price.
That may be true. However, there are other factors to consider in your decision to list.
For example, will you be buying a new home as well? If so, then the higher selling price will probably be offset by the higher cost of the new property.
In addition, there may be characteristics of your home that will help sell it quickly and for a good price – today – regardless of the market conditions.
How do you select the best moving company for your needs?
- Ask for recommendations from friends other professionals in the local real estate industry.
- Beware of fly-by-night operations. They may seem like a bargain, but you get what you pay for.
- Does the company provide you with a written estimate and contract? (Beware of movers that just give you a price over the phone.)
- Ask if they are covered by insurance, and what their policy is regarding lost or broken items. Make sure you receive a copy of their insurance certificate.
Finally, always ask what circumstances would result in extra charges being applied. The number one complaint received about movers by the Better Business Bureau is unexpected extra charges.
When shopping for a new home, it's a good idea to try and see the potential of the property you're viewing. It may not be exactly what you're looking for "as is", but it may have the potential to become your dream home after some redecorating or renovating.
The challenge is, judging how much work is required. You don't want to buy a home with the expectation that it requires a $20,000 renovation, only to discover that it really needed three times that much!
That’s where a good REALTOR® can help.
I can help you get a realistic estimate of the cost of repairs, upgrades, and renovations, and even recommend some reputable interior designers or contractors.
That way, when you see a home with "potential", you'll be able to make a more informed decision.
Want more tips on finding and buying your next dream home? Call me today.
One of the most prominent features of any home is the windows. When they are well maintained they have a positive impact on the impression people (such as potential buyers) will have of your property. The opposite occurs, of course, when your windows look old and worn.
So does that mean you should replace your windows?
That depends on a number of factors. Window replacement can be an expensive renovation. Here are a few things to consider before making your decision.
- Do your windows get frost or condensation build-up on the interior side? This could be a sign that the windows are not keeping out the cold as well as they should.
- Do you see water infiltration or mildew on the interior sides of any of the window sills? This means that moisture is creeping in from the outside, and you need to get those windows repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
- If your windows are double-paned – (two panes of glass) – check for any signs of moisture in between the glass panes. Moisture indicates that the thermal seal is broken and at a minimum, the glass will need to be replaced.
- Take a look at your windows from the outside. Is the trim rotted or cracked anywhere? Are there dark spots or any signs of rotting on the wood frames? Repairs or replacement may be required.
- Check the operation of your windows. Do they open and close easily? This is important because some windows, such as those in bedrooms, are often designed to be big enough to use as an exit in case of a fire.
- Finally, are you happy with how your windows look? Do you feel that your property will look significantly better with new windows?
Although they are expensive, replacing windows has a lot of advantages. Depending on the efficiency of your current windows, replacing them could cut your energy costs by 10-20%. In addition, new windows block out more exterior noise, making your home quieter.
Want more tips on increasing the value, and enjoyment, of your property? Call me today.
Home safety is more than locked doors and alarms
When it comes to home security, most homeowners think about door locks and alarms. These are, of course, very important. However, there is also a lot you can do around your property to prevent the possibility of a break-in.
One important part of home security is outdoor lighting. Your home doesn't need to be lit up like a baseball diamond at night, but your exterior lighting should illuminate your yard enough to be a deterrent to burglars.
Some burglars hide around the property and wait for someone to arrive and open the door so they can use that opportunity to force their way into your home.
Security experts suggest that you walk around your property and look for areas where someone could hide, such as behind tall shrubbery like a cedar hedge or behind a tool shed. Make sure these areas are well lit.
Pay particular attention to lighting around exterior doors, especially the back door.
Home security experts also recommend that exterior lighting be installed with a timed dimmer. The lights can then be set to cast a bright light in the early evening, and then a dimmer light throughout the rest of the night.
Lights installed with motion detectors can also be effective in certain areas. The sensors will cause the light to turn on or brighten when someone comes onto that part of your property. Generally, thieves will flee as soon as they see a light turn on.
Do you hide a spare key under the front door mat or in a flower pot? No matter how clever you think you are, experienced thieves know all the common hiding places. So, if you need to have a spare key available, put it in a small combination lock box and hide the box. That way, if a burglar finds the box, he still won't be able to open it and access the key.