Monthly Archives: January 2016

Tips for Fix and What to Forget When Downsizing

Figuring out how much work needs to be done to your home before selling it and downsizing is stressful stuff. Add in the costs of relocating, the hassle of culling your possessions and the emotional hardship of saying goodbye to a beloved home, and you’re looking at a recipe for disaster. So, let’s take some of the panic out of moving by outlining what should be done before packing up.

Think the buyers of your home will love the new carpeting as much as you did? Think again. Sellers are often shocked to learn new carpeting was ripped out shortly after selling, in favour of hardwood or laminate.

Sellers need to ask themselves, “Is this to the buyer’s taste? Will I recover the funds spent?” A lot of the time, the decision to do pre-sale renovations is up to how much time, money and disruptions the seller is willing to put up with.

There are certain must-fixes, such as a leaky roof, broken windows or an ineffective septic system. Anything that would cause buyer concern, or be seen as a liability, should be fixed.

For cosmetic fixes, buyers will value different things about the house, and it’s important for the seller to be open to this and not let their own feelings guide decisions too strongly.

Downsizers will typically sell their large home to “upsizers,” who are in the tightest budgetary times of their lives. A home that has the big-ticket items completed in the past five years: Roof, furnace, air conditioning and windows, is most attractive.

If you still feel like an update is needed to catch the eye of a prospective buyer, focus on the bathroom and kitchen. White is a huge kitchen trend right now, so consider a coat or two of paint, and definitely replace any broken appliances or fixtures.

A ton of money doesn’t need to be spent. There are many inexpensive finds on Kijiji or local community buy and sell pages. You can also update accessories, like towel racks or changing light fixtures or faucets, to give your home a fresh appearance without spending a fortune.

Heritage designation may play a role in what you can and can’t do to a home. With lead pipes, asbestos abatement, insulation issues and roofing profiles having significant legal impediments and oversight by governments, renovations may be legally necessary.

In areas of Canada, such as Vancouver, where property prices outweigh the value of the house sitting on the land, improvements may be a waste, so make sure you research the market trends in your area before replacing or gutting anything. Why put money into a renovation when all a buyer sees is the land it’s sitting on?

Keep in mind the cardinal rule of selling: De-clutter and depersonalize. Buyers open cupboards and drawers all the time. Go through your cupboards, organize things and pack up stuff to show there is plenty of storage.

Moving is a lot a work no matter how you look at it, but it doesn’t have to include a disruptive renovation on top of it. Spend smartly and you’ll be settled in your new downsized home in no time.

Tips Before Home Renovation

Renovating your home can be thrilling and when the results are exactly what you wanted, there’s nothing more satisfying. But they can also be stressful and costly, in both time and money. Here are five things to consider before undergoing a renovation, whether the job is big, or small.

Does The Renovation Require Permits?

Generally, small changes can be done on your own, but larger projects involving additions or altering the existing structure, electrical or plumbing may require permits. It’s important to be aware of the rules of your city, as undergoing renos without the required permits can mean timely delays, fines and ultimately stretching your budget. Sites like the Ontario Ministry of Housing and Affairs are a great resource and a good idea to bookmark.

Has Your Contractor Been Vetted?

It’s always smart to get a few quotes for every job, and references are essential. There are too many horror stories out there to make absolute sure that anyone who’s working on your home has been thoroughly vetted. Ask to see a portfolio of their work, or call a referral or two, this could save you a lot of heartache down the road.

Should You Relocate During the Job?

Packing up (especially if you have kids) might seem like a complete pain, but trying to live through a renovation might be an even bigger one. Add to that the dust and dirt that’s loosened (which can be a lot more than you’d expect), and you may be breathing easier if you choose to stay with family or at a hotel.

Do You Have a Buffer?

Often, the reality of renovating seems to be it costs more money, and takes longer (sometimes a lot longer) than expected. Building in a buffer of both time, and money is a great idea and a good way to set proper expectations. (And hey, sometimes they do finish on time, for the actual quote!)

So Do You REALLY Want This?

After weeks of researching design ideas, vetting contractors and saving the money you’ll need (plus a little buffer), now’s the time to really weigh the pros and cons. Do you really want to do this? And if the answer is yes, good luck! Renovating, whether it’s something small, or a big, can mean one step closer to living in the home of your dreams (once the nightmare of the renovation ends of course).

Tips all about the mortagage

Whether this is your first home or fourth, really understanding your mortgage and how it works is crucial. After all, it’ll probably be the biggest loan of your life!

What IS A Mortgage?

In the most basic sense a mortgage is a loan to buy a property. The process of securing a mortgage means lender approval based on your income, credit rating and other debt.

Understand Your Fixed Costs

Before you decide what you can—or should—spend on a mortgage it’s important to take stock of your habits and your true fixed costs. Be honest with yourself when putting together your household budget, if you’re going to be miserable without your daily premium cup of coffee, then along with your student debt and car payments, consider that a fixed cost.

Be PITH Safe

According to the CHMC (Canadian Housing & Mortgage Corporation), your monthly housing costs should be less than 32% of your gross monthly income. These are considered your PITH or Principle and Interest (of your mortgage payments), Property Tax, and Heating bills.

Get A Mortgage You Can Afford

If you pass the PITH test, the second test of what you can afford mortgage-wise is that your entire monthly debt load (car payments, credit card debt, student loans, etc) should be less than 40% of your gross monthly income. The CMHC even has a handy Mortgage Affordability Calculator on their site: cmhc.ca.

Paying Off Your Mortgage

Once you’re approved for a mortgage and buy your home (congratulations!), now you have to actually start paying off the loan. There are several factors involved in this like your interest rate, payment schedule (monthly, twice a month, every two weeks, or weekly) and your amortization period, which is the amount of time you’ve selected to pay back the mortgage (usually ranging from 15-25 years).

Picking The Right Interest Rate
The interest rate at which you select to pay off your mortgage varies from “fixed”—whereby the rate will NOT change for the term of the mortgage, and is generally a bit higher but considered more stable, or “variable” whereby the interest rate can fluctuate with the current state of the market.

Finally, owning a home can truly be an amazing thing. Thankfully there are many resources out there to help make the process a smooth one like mortgage brokers and financial advisors, so remember, you’re never alone through this daunting process!

How to Staging Your Home

You don’t have to break the bank to have your house looking as though it was professionally staged. These tips and tricks will have your house sell-ready and gorgeous before you can say “why hasn’t it always looked this way?!”

1) De-Clutter

The first step in getting ready to sell is de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter so potential buyers aren’t overwhelmed by your stuff, but rather impressed by your home. Counters and other surfaces should be kept clear and any furniture that isn’t needed stored away. The good news about this tedious task is packing and purging will make moving day that much easier.

2) Lights and Mirrors

Warm lighting and well-placed mirrors can make your home feel bright, inviting and even bigger. Mirrors placed over fireplaces, and along hallway walls will make rooms appear larger than they are. Table lamps, and overhead lighting like chandeliers and sconces will brighten rooms and add some flair to your decor.

3) It’s Nothing Personal

Any personal effects should be packed away; family photos and mementoes, framed degrees, anything that’s a link to the current owner. Buyers want to imagine themselves in the house, so the more the house is a blank slate, the easier that is.

4) But Don’t Touch the Nursery!

Although the nursery and childrens’ rooms should be de-cluttered and tidied as well, personal effects can remain as they are. There’s something reassuring and touching about seeing a baby’s room that can mean all the difference to a potential buyer (especially ones that are starting a family).

5) Neutrals

Although you love that fuchsia accent wall, some buyers may not. A fresh coat of bright, neutral paint will not only enlarge the house and make it feel airy and more spacious, but it will also help buyers with their vision (there’s that blank slate again).

6) Accents and Colour

To complement the neutral house, a few well-placed bright pops of colour will bring the decor together. Bright throw pillows, or a canary yellow kettle on the stove will be noticed as soon as you enter the room and will stick in buyers minds once they leave. Fresh flowers are another great idea, and single flower arrangements are most effective.

7) Inviting Scents

Warm inviting scents will help your house be remembered. Taking the time to bake cookies or mull cider on the stove may not be in the cards (and the stove and elements should be off for open houses) but a safely placed candle or air freshener will do the trick.

8) Draw Attention to Selling Features

As a general rule closet doors should be kept closed, but if there’s a walk-in that should be noticed, a small note to alert potential buyers is ok.

9) Freshen Your Linens

Now’s the time to use your spare “good” set on beds, and ensure your towels and hand-towels are in tip top shape. And if it’s perhaps time to replace them, think neutral again.

Following these tips will have your house in tip top selling shape and make it the most appealing to the most potential buyers faster than you can say “SOLD!”