You've probably seen signs around the area for Open Houses.  You may have even attended a few.  These are open invitations for potential buyers to drop by on a certain day and time, to check out the property and get more information.


When you're listing your home for sale, you might wonder whether you'll need to have Open House.


To answer that question, you'll need to consider the pros and cons.  Planning and hosting an open house isn't as easy as it may seem.  There's a lot of preparation involved.  In addition, you'll likley spend hours making your property look its best and you'll need to be away from your home for a good part of that day.


That being said, an Open House has many advantages.


  • It helps showcase features of your property that may not come across well in advertisments and listing descriptions
  • It attracts potential buyers who, for any number of reasons, might not otherwise call to view the home.
  • It generates a buzz and publicity about your listing.
 

However, an Open House might not be necessary if there is high demand for properties like yours and you're likely to get multiple offers.

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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 does go 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 effciency.  (You'll notice this when your food dosen't heat up as quickly and evenly.)


All exerts agree that the best way to keep home appliances functioning properly is to follow manufacutuer'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.

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When you're preparing your home for sale, it is not unusual to need to fix up a few things around the property.  After all, you want your home to look its best to buyers, so that you get good offers, quickly.


What do you need to fix?  Here are three categories that will help you create and prioritize your list.


1.  Anything that squeaks or creaks.


Is there something in your home that makes a noise it shouldn't be making?  Perhaps it's a rattling closet door or a creaking floor board?  You may be so used to it you no longer notice the sound.  But buyers will.  Be sure to get those items fixed.


2.  Anything that is unsightly.


You don't have to make your home look perfect. However, things that are unsightly will likely get buyers' attention.  You want them to focus on the terrific features of your property, not the scuff on the wall.


Take a walk through your property, including the yard.  Pretend you're the buyer.  Do you notice anything that doesn't look good?  If so, tidy it up, fix it or replace it.


3.  Anything that's broken.


If there's anything that needs repair - an outside tap that's not working, or a sliding door that regularly careens off its runner - call the contractor or fix it yourself.


Getting these items fixed will go a long way towards making your home appealing to buyers.


Would you like more tips on preparing your home for sale?  Call us today and we will be happy to help.

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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 the theater.


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 or an enjoyable Saturday golfing 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!


If you need help in making the move to buy up - especially figuring out what your home will likley sell for, call us today for an a free appraisial.

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You don’t have to freeze in the winter or start reading by candlelight to reduce your electricity bill.  There are many simple ways to use less power with little, if any, impact on your lifestyle.


A good place to start is with your electronics.


According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “Any gizmo that has a clock, digital timer, remote control or standby mode is sucking energy when it’s not being used (it’s called ‘phantom electricity’ – and it’s scary how much of it there is).  “So keep them unplugged as much as possible.  Also, unplug charger cords for phone and computers when not in use.  Even when not connected to the device, they still suck power.


Another easy change to make involves your lights.  Switching to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED light bulbs can save you a lot of energy.  They’re 75% more efficient.


Finally, the old-fashioned method of insulating doors and windows can work wonders for lowering your electricity bill.  In fact, some particularly drafty homes can lose up to 40% of their heat.  Check for drafts regularly and repair or replace insulation as needed.


None of these ideas will impact your day-to-day living.  Yet, they could potentially save you a bundle.

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Decorative moulding is one of the most eye-catching ways to upgrade a room.  You're probably accustomed to seeing standard baseboard moundling installed where your floor meets the wall.  But, there are many other types.


  • Crown moulding for ceilings.
  • Panel moulding for a southern colonial look.
  • Chair rail moulding, which is very distinctive on walls.
  • Apron moulding for window sills.
  • Entablature moulding for above doorwarys.

Decorative moulding comes in a dizzying array of styles.  Interior designers recommend taking home samples, just as you would take paint swatches, to test out ideas.


In addition to style choices, you also need to select the material you prefer.  Moulding can be made of wood, plaster, laminate, composite, fiberboard, vinyl and other materials.  There are pros and cons to each.  Generally, the higher-priced options are more attracive and durable.  ( If you select wood, you typically have the additional option of "finished or unfinished".  If you choose unfinished, you of course, will be painting it yourself.)


Choosing the right moulding for the look you want is the toughest part of the job.  Installation is a lot easier and most people with DIY experience have no problems.


So if you want to add some magic to your walls, consider decorative moulding.  It can turn a room from standard to stunning.

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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 theres's also no problem with the window itself.  It may have rained recently or the outsie humidity may have spiked causing the acculmulation.  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 withtin the frame that you cannot see.

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Imagine you were selling your car, and a prospective buyer was on the way over to see it.  What would you do?  You would probably make your vehicle look as clean and shiny as possible, inside and out.


The same holds true if you're selling your home and there's a potential buyer on the way.  You want the buyer to be wow'd by your property.  Here's a handy checklist to follow:


  • Clean every room.  Make your entire house look as "guest ready" as possible.

  • As much as is feasible given the time, reduce clutter.  Consider packing some items into boxes and storing them in the basement or garage.

  • Get pets out of the house.  You can take them for a walk, have a neighbour watch them, or take them to a good kennel.
  • Turn on the lights, even during the day.  You want each room to look bright.
  • If there are any maintenenace issues, such as a dripping faucet, let your Realtor know.  Often, it's best for buyers to be told rather than discover such issues themselves.

  • Open the curtains, except in those rooms where the sun will be uncomfortably strong during the viewing.

  • Move your vehicles from the driveway so the buyer can park there.  (That can help them imagine living there, which is what you want!)

  • Make sure your foyer is especially clean and uncluttered.  It's the first "room" the buyer visits.

  • Avoid cooking just before a viewing.  Even if the meal is wonderful, the aroma may linger.  (Some people don't like the smell of certain dishes, such as fish.)

  • Freshen up the outdoor space.  Mow the lawn.  Sweep the walkway.

This viewing checklist will help you prepare your home quickly, so when the buyer comes in your front door, there's a much better chance he or she will be impressed.

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Have you ever considered renting out a room to a student or renovating your basement into a self-contained rental apartment?


It's a big decision.  There are many pros and cons to consider.


On the pro side, renting can provide you with additional income.  An extra few hundred dollars a month can go a long way towards paying down your mortgage or splurging on an exotic summer vacation.


Creating rentable living space in your home - for example, an "in-law suite" featuring a kitchenette and bathroom - may also increase your property's market value.


On the con side, you'll have more costs and responsibilities as a landlord.  For example, you might need to purchase extra insurance because basic home insurance policies typically do not cover rental units, even if you're just renting our a room.  You'll also be responsible for dealing with repairs sometimes in the middle of the night.


Also, if you're not careful about the renter you choose, you might end up with a "problem tenant".  For example, you could have a tenant who is consistently late on rent payments or simply stops paying.  That can be stressful.


If you're deciding whether or not to rent, be sure to check local laws and regulations.  Many jurisdictions have very strict rules regarding renting out space in a residential property, and those rules change frequently.  Make sure you get the latest information.

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Outdoor lighting has come a long way from the days of patio lanterns and strings of lightbulbs.  These days, there's an exhaustive array of options available to illuminate your outdoor space, and make it more appealing and comfortable, particularly in the evenings.


Here are just a few ideas:


  • Solar garden lights.  These lights are on stakes that can be easily inserted throughout the garden.  Powered by the sun, they generate enough energy to cast a soft, pleasant glow along walkways or in flower beds in the evenings.
  • Deck post lights.  These are easy to install because they're designed to sit on top of a standard 4x4 wood deck post.  Most are solar powered.
  • Street-style lamps.  As the name implies, these look similar to old-fashioned street lamps.  Installation is a little more complex, but still DIY-friendly.  They're eye-catching and have a dramatic impact on the look of your outdoor space.
  • Portable lantern lights.  These are outdoor lights that are portable and often made to look like a decorative fixture for a coffee table or side table.  They can be placed anywhere.
  • LED walkway lights.  These are small lights that fit neatly and almost invisibly under stairs and around walkways.  Walkway lights not only look good but also improve safety.  Most are battery powered.
  • Planter lights.  This is one of the most interesting options.  Each one is both a flower pot and a light in one!  The pot itself is translucent which allows the light inside to shine through.
Design experts say you should treat your outdoor space as you would any room in your home.  Lighting it up for evening comfort and enjoyment is a good place to start.  A bonus at this time of year is that you can pick up outdoor lighting at discounted prices.  
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You've heard of the term "curb appeal".  It refers to the initial impression buyers get when they first see your property from the street.  If the impression is a good one, it sets the right tone for the rest of the home viewing.


How do you boost curb appeal?  Here are some proven ideas that you can get done in an hour or so:


  • Wash both the inside and outside of the front windows.
  • Sweep the walkway leading up to the front entrance.  Add a new welcome mat.  Also, wash down the front door.
  • If possible, remove cars from the driveway.  Let buyers imagine their own cars parked there!
  • Mow the lawn.  Lightly trim the hedges.  Weed flower beds.
  • Remove anything from inside window sills that may look unsightly from the outside.  Try putting a couple of flowering plants there instead.
  • Place any trash bins out-of-sight.  For example, put them in the garage or neatly at the side of the house.
  • If the entrance door hardware is old and worn, change it.  New hardware can make a bigger difference than you might think.
  • Make sure the outdoor lights are working, especially if you're showing your home in the evening.
  • Add some flowering plants to flower beds, or buy a couple of portable potted plants and place them strategically.
  • Clean your mailbox.  If it's rusted, replace it.
  • If you have a power washer, give the walkway and driveway a quick blast.  Just be sure it will be dry before the buyers arrive.

These one-hour improvements may seem minor, but anything that helps buyers form a more positive first impression of your home is worth the effort.

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As you probably know, it's easy to lower the costs of a renovation.  Just hire an inexpensive, fly-by-night contractor - and hope for the best!


Chances are, you won't want to take that risk.  So how do you ensure you get quality work while keeping your budget in check?


Here are some tips:


  • Get estimates from at least three contractors.  Often prices can vary widley, even amongst contractors with similar reputations and experience.
  • Narrow the project focus.  If you're getting a bathroom renovated, for example, decide whether you need the contractor to paint the new walls.  Can you do that yourself?
  • Shop around for the building materials.  Yes, contractors often have access to wholesale prices.  Still, you might be able to find a bathtub and vanity at a lower cost or at least avoid any markup the contractor may charge.
  • Negotiate.  Sometimes a contractor is willing to lower the price for concessions, such as quick payments or more time to complete the job.  
  • Schedule the renovation during a low-demand season.  For example, deck contractors charge more in the spring than the fall.  It's supply and demand.  More people want their decks done in the spring.

Keep in mind that spending a little more for a skilled and reputable contractor can save you money in the long run.  The renovation will have fewer, if any, "issues" (that many require an expensive fix) and will last longer.


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10 REASONS TO LIST YOUR HOME THIS MONTH

 

Is selling your property the furthest thing from your mind?  Well, here are some reasons for listing your property that you might nor have considered.

 

  1. Your property may be worth more than you think. (It's difficult to determine market value on your own.  We can calculate it for you. 
  2. You might qualify for a better home than you anticipate.
  3. Perhaps you are tired of your current property and want a change.
  4. There may be homes on the market in a neighbourhood in which you've always wanted to live.
  5. Your current property may no longer meet your needs.
  6. Your neighbourghood may have changed in ways you don't like.
  7. You might be ready to downsize or upsize and you no lonver want to put that off.
  8. You may want to sell in the fall, so you can have a fresh start in a a new home in the new year.
  9. Depending on the type of home you're considering, you could end up with lower mortgage payments or no mortgage at all.
  10. You might want to move to a home that's more conveniently located near work, family and hobbies.

Of course, you may have your own reasons for listing this month.  Why not discuss them with a real estate expert? We can answer your questions and explain the options available to you.


 

 

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Using neighbourhood Data to Help Sell Your Home

 

Your neighnourhood has a lot of features that can help sell your home faster.  Unfortunately, buyers don't usually notice those features just by driving around.  So, you need to make sure they get all the information they need about your neighbourhood.

 

For example, say homes don't go on the market often in your area.  That's an indication that the quality of life in the neighbourhood is so good that no one wants to leave!  In real estate we measure the area's "turnover rate", and it's handy data to have when listing your home.

 

Another bit of data that buyers can't simply see is the local crime rate.  But, most police departments keep those statistics,  If your neighbourhood has a low crime rate, that's an obvious plus to sellers.

 

Demographic data can also be helpful when selling your property.  If your neighbourhood has a lot of families, for example, that's going to be appealing to buyers with kids.

 

Even local development plans can play a role in making your home more attractive to buyers.  If a new ramp to a major highway is in the works nearby, getting to work is going to be easier.  That's a big benefit to commuters.

 

Other types of data that can help sell your home include:

 

  • Planned local construction
  • Proposals for neighbourhood improvements. (For example, a new playground.)
  • Rate at which local property values are increasing.

Any information that shows the advantages of living in your living in your area is going to be useful when selling.

 

By the way, this is the kind of information we put together to provide to prospective buyers when selling your home.  Contact us today!

 

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You might naturally assume that it is most important to talk to a Realtor when you're selling or buying a home.  But there are many other circumstances in which it makes sense to give us a call.  Here are a few examples.


 

1.  When you're at the "thinking about it" stage

 

If you're just thinking about selling your home, and haven't made a firm decision yet, you might feel uncomfortable calling a Realtor.  Don't be.  In fact, We welcome your call.  We can discuss what your current property will likely sell for on today's market, and determine the type of home you qualify to buy.  That way, you'll have some clarity and be able to make a more informed decision.

 



2.  If you're nervous about the selling process

 

If you haven't sold a home before, you might be concerned about what's involved in the process.  You might even worry that putting your home on the market is going to be a lot of work and create a lot of turbulence for you and your family.

 

Fortunately, selling your home doesn't need to be scary.  In fact, a big part of our job as Realtors is to make the process as smooth and trouble-free as possible.

 

So if you have concerns about selling your home, you should give us a call.

 



3.  If you have questions

 

You likely have questions about the local real estate scene from time to time.  You might have questions like:  "How much did that home around the corner sell for?"; "Is now a good time to make a move, or should I wait until the market changes?"' and, "How much is my current home worth?"

 

When you have questions like those, you don't need to dig for answers on your own.  You can give us a call.  As experts in the local market, We can give you the answers you need.

 



 

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