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.

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.

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.

How to quickly improve indoor air quality

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. 


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 and repairs. 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.


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.


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.


Will the neighbourhood go up in value?

When you purchase a home, you’re hoping it will continually go up in value — just like a good investment.

However, there’s something else that you want to see go up in value as well: the neighbourhood. In fact, the neighbourhood plays a key role in what the home will be worth in years to come. If the neighbourhood goes down in terms of desirability, so will the market value of the home.

That’s why, when shopping for a new home, it’s important to get a feel for the value of the neighbourhood, and whether or not it’s on the upswing.

How do you do that? One way is to simply take a walk. Look at the
properties. Are they well maintained? Is the landscaping groomed and attractive? Those are signs of “pride of ownership” — a clear indication that owners value their homes and the neighbourhood.

Another way is to do some research. Has crime gone up in the
neighbourhood? Are there improvements planned, such as new parks? Is the neighbourhood attracting the kind of people you want as neighbours? How does the neighbourhood school rank?

Some of this information may be difficult to get on your own. A good REALTOR® can help you. Call today.


Avoiding Unwelcome Guests

 

There are unwelcome guests that most homeowners dread. They come into your house, eat, sleep, make a mess, and never leave willingly. Each one has at least six legs and sometimes flies.
They are, of course, insects. They’ve been freeloading in homes since homes were invented. Here are some practical ways to keep these unwelcome guests out:

• Find out how they got in. Look for gaps around windows and doors, and cracks in the basement. If you find a spider web, there's likely an insect entryway nearby.

• Watch out for standing water near the foundation of your home. Make sure rain gutters drain water well away.

• Eliminate clutter. Insects love warm, cluttered, moist areas.

• Check the seal around dryer vents and other vents, pipes and cable wires going through the wall. Reseal if necessary.

• Rinse recyclables before putting them into a bag or bin. Few things are more tempting to a bug than the dark, moist, sweet insides of an un-rinsed pop can.

If you do end up with a serious insect problem, call a professional
exterminator.