How to reduce the chance of burglary by 90%

 
No one wants to deal with a burglary. How do you reduce the chances of one happening?
 
Fortunately, burglaries are a well-studied phenomenon — especially by law enforcement. These studies have identified specific things you can do to cut the risk dramatically. Here are some ideas:
 
• 34% of home break-ins occur through the front door. Experts
recommend investing in a door with a top-quality locking mechanism. (The best are those that lock at three points of contact.)
 
• 50% of burglars will be deterred if your home has some sort of video monitoring system. A thief doesn’t want his face on YouTube!
 
• Unfortunately, signs and window stickers warning of an alarm system do not deter thieves. However, 62% of burglars will immediately run away when an alarm goes off. Always turn on your alarm system when you’re not home!
 
• 22% of burglaries occur through a sliding glass door or patio door. Make sure it’s locked and also use a solid metal jammer.
 
• Some thieves use frequency scanners to gain access to garages. Police recommend changing your remote entry code regularly and putting blinds or curtains on garage windows so thieves can’t see (and be tempted by) any valuables inside.
 
As you can see, there are many simple things you can do to reduce your chances of a burglary dramatically. The effort is worth it.

Should you move or renovate? Three things to consider

 
Determining if you should buy a new home or fix up your current one isn’t easy. In fact, the decision can be steeped in so much drama they make reality TV shows about it!
 
So if you’re considering whether to move or improve, here are three things to consider.
 
1. Will a renovation truly fix what you don’t like about your property? If you’re tired of a small kitchen, for example, it might not be possible, given the layout, to make it any bigger. On the other hand, if you’re craving a spacious rec room with a cosy fireplace then a renovation could make that happen.
 
Of course, there are some things you may want that aren’t specific to your house, such as an easier commute or nearby park. Those are features you may only be able to get by moving.
 
2. How much will a renovation cost? How does that compare to the cost of moving to a new home? It’s important to get accurate estimates of each so you can make a smart decision. This is where a good REALTOR® can help.
 
Keep in mind that renovations have a habit of costing more than you originally anticipate. As mentioned earlier, the final result should be a home you want to stay in for quite some time.
 
3. Beware of compromising versus settling.
 
Whichever decision you make — renovate or sell — you can expect to have to make at least some compromises. That’s normal.
 
For example, consider adding an extension to your house. That’s a major renovation. Is it the ideal way to get the extra room you want? Do the benefits of renovating outweigh the benefits of finding a new larger home designed to include the space you need?
 
Yes, it’s a tough decision. If you’re in the midst of making it, call today, to get the facts you need to make the best choice for you.

Extending the life of cut flowers

 
There are few things more beautiful than cut flowers in a vase. They instantly brighten any room. That is, of course, until they wilt and die. So how do you make cut flowers last as long as possible? Here are some ideas:
 
• Cut the bottom of the stems before you put the flowers in the vase. An angled cut is best as this will enable the flower to draw in more water.
 
• Add a fertilizer to the water. Most flower shops include a pouch with the order. Follow the directions carefully. Don’t use too much.
 
• Make sure the vase is high enough to support the flowers. Too much strain on the stems will cause the flowers to die sooner.
 
• After a couple of days, re-snip the stems. This will add an additional day or two to the life of the flowers.
 
• Flowers last longer if you put them in the fridge (in water) overnight. That’s why florists store cut flowers in cool rooms.
 
Finally, watch the water level and top off as required. Older cut flowers will die quickly when starved of water — even for just a couple of hours.

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. For example:
 
• 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.

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.

How the wrong pricing strategy can cost you thousands

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.
 
Example 1:
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 reignite interest.
 
Example 2:
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®? Call today

What home inspectors see that you can't

 
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?
 
Call today.

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.

Should you "High Ball" your listing price?

 
One of the most important decisions you make when selling your home is setting the listing price. That can be tricky. After all, if you price your property too low, you leave money on the table — perhaps thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if you price your home too high, many buyers won’t even bother to see it, believing it is too expensive.
 
Even with that reality, there are some sellers who contemplate setting a high listing price in the hopes of a windfall. They want some unsuspecting buyer to fall in love with the home and buy it — even though it’s overpriced.
 
That rarely, if ever, happens.
 
Instead, the listing often languishes on the market because its listing price is conspicuously much higher than its market value.
 
Think about it. If two similar homes, side-by-side, are for sale, and one is priced $40,000 higher than the other, wouldn’t you wonder what was going on? That’s exactly what the market thinks. “Why is that home priced so high?”
 
Of course, many buyers, who might otherwise be interested in the property, won’t even consider seeing it, simply because it’s outside their price range.
 
It gets worse. When an overpriced home sits on the market with no offers for several weeks, the price will often need to be adjusted down. That helps the situation a little. However, you’ve lost the excitement created by a “new listing.” Yours is now an old listing struggling to get attention.
 
There’s a better way…
 
Setting your list price at or near the market value is much more likely to generate interest from qualified buyers and maximize how much you make on your home.
 
That market value may even be higher than you think!
Interested in finding out how much? Call today.

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.