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.

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.

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.

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.

When Is the Right Time to Talk to a REALTORĀ®?

 
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.

Do you have "recalled" products in your home?

 
 
You’ve no doubt noticed the occasional news report about a product being recalled for safety reasons. For example, a car model with a brake problem, or a children’s toy that, under some circumstances, may cause injury.
 
You may not know that these news reports are merely the tip of the iceberg. For each product recall you hear about in the media, there are dozens that get little, if any, publicity.
 
That means there may be products in your home that have been recalled — and you don’t even know about it. It’s a scary thought.
 
How do you find out about recalled products that may affect you? Here are two tips.
 
1. Always complete the registration that comes with many products. This is typically done by mailing in a registration card or filling out an online form. When you register, you’ll be alerted by the manufacturer if the product is recalled for any reason.
2. Both Canada and the United States have agencies that list recalled products on their websites. In Canada it’s the Healthy Canadians website at www.healthycanadians.gc.ca. In the United States it’s the Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.CPSP.gov. It’s a good habit to check these sites every season.
 
If you discover that a product in your home has been recalled, contact the manufacturer immediately. Never assume that the reason for the recall won’t apply to you.

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