NOISE POLLUTION!

November 21st

All too often, apartment living is filled with unwanted noise pollution.  So, why would anyone currently residing in an apartment want to take the leap into condominium ownership?  Believe it or not, you can live with peace and quiet if you take some assertive steps to choosing the right unit and then doing what you can to eliminate the noise.  The misnomer in the condominium search is that you need to concentrate strictly on price, location and state of the condominium corporation=s reports.  While, these are critical factors to consider, there are others in choosing just the right unit to ensure peace and quiet are maximized.  Try to stay away from mechanical equipment.  That is; the garbage chute, elevators, and the chimney system.  Since noise levels will increase with use and tenants, you=ll want to locate yourself as far away from the buildings mechanical equipment to ensure the sounds will be less intrusive.  For shift workers, this is critical.
 

ARE YOU READY TO BUY?
November 7th

Buying a home is an enormous responsibility and most people go back and forth before they make the final decision to purchase. Even once the final decision is made, it’s perfectly normal to feel unsure of the decision. Questions like ‘Am I making the right choice?’, Am I really ready to buy my first home? Sell and purchase a larger home? Downsize? To help put your mind at ease, there are certain details people who are ready to buy will recognize. They usually have been following the market and know what type of home they want and approximately how much they will have to pay for it. They also have a good indication of what they can expect to get for their current home if they have one to sell. People who are ready to purchase also are generally aware of their financial situation and what they can spend. Of course, the best indicator is enough money for a down payment and closing costs and the always important preapproval from the bank. In that case, it’s time to go home shopping.

 

PREPAYING A LITTLE MORE MONEY NOW CAN SAVE A LOT LATER!
October 31st

Most home buyers borrow money to pay the seller the difference between their down payment and the purchase price.  The lender creates terms of a promissory note, known as a mortgage, for the amount borrowed and establishes an interest rate on the amount of the loan to be paid.  Many people don't realize that the interest payments can add about two and a half times the original loan amount over the term of the mortgage.  In most cases, you can save money by prepaying an amount that is greater than what you have to pay each month. If you were to sit down and review an amortization payment chart that compares monthly payments required to retire the principal and pay the interest, you would see a big difference in the interest figure if you were to commit even an additional $25 per month.  If you can set your payments up bi-weekly or even weekly at the commencement of the loan you will accomplish much as the cumulative effect makes the biggest impact.  Take a look at an on-line mortgage calculator and note the difference a small payment can make! 

THE PRIVATE SELLER PITFALLS
October 24th

I’d like to caution those sellers who feel the DIY of real estate is a good cost savings idea. In life, that old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ certainly rings true in this case. Realize that your home sale is likely going to affect the others in your string, so, if your deal falls apart, so will your purchase deal and so will the deals before and after yours. While it is a Realtor’s job to protect you on your purchase, we’re a little behind the 8-ball when we know nothing about your home sale. In addition, trying to help you sell means we typically are left carrying the entire load as we’re constantly running into sellers who have absolutely no idea what they are doing and are asking our advice......free of charge, of course. It really is frightening to attempt answering some of your questions and, often, we feel much more comfortable dealing with another Realtor’s listing than yours as we’ve no idea the challenges we’re bringing our buyers into attempting to sell your home.While it may work out well for you, you owe it to yourself to speak to a lawyer to understand fully the pitfalls and risk level you are undertaking. We’ve two homes this week now where sellers are giving up the DIY to opt the professional route because the challenges of calls at all hours of the day are getting a bit much...or, conversely, zero calls as no-one knows you’re listed. Buyers search private for sale sites are looking to save commission too. Just a thought......

CREDIT LINE = SECOND MORTGAGE
October 17

Loads of people these days have credit lines. They have become a great financing option for those big ticket extras we don’t want to put on our credit cards. Things like; vacations, home renovations, or, funding that second car. What many people don’t realize though, is that a credit line, is typically secured against your largest asset....your home. Many buyers, trying to move-up, forget about that handy line of credit and forget to include it in the picture when they begin house hunting. So, although, most Realtors will encourage the first time buyer to get pre-approved, this also is equally important for the move-up buyer. Many move-up buyers obtained the line when they bought their starter home and have simply kept it in existence ‘just in case’. Some, forget they even still have the line in place as they’ve lived without it. This line acts as a second mortgage and must be dealt with, either by closing it up altogether, or, re-registering it against the newly purchased house. But, keep in mind, it can hold up your financial process if you do not make everyone aware of it when you start your search as many financial institutions do not run a credit check when you go in for your preliminary preapproval! That sounds counter-intuitive, I know, however, it’s not fun for your Realtor to have to renegotiate an extension on your financing condition to deal with the line popping into the equation at the 11th hour. Asking for more time on financing makes for worried sellers as they hate to lose marketing time. So, do yourself a favour, ensure your Mortgage Broker is checking your credit to ensure you have a solid figure to work with before you initiate the home search.

 

HAVING TROUBLE SELLING?
October 10th

Home has been on the market for months? No one has made an offer. Should you take your home off the market and try again in a month or so? Before you take this step, consider that this is the Fall market. Review the feedback and the reasons given why your home hasn't sold. Is your list price too high for the market? What criticisms have prospective buyers and their sales representatives made about the property? Are there any cosmetic improvements that might help the property sell? What condition does the home present? Can it use a bit of de-cluttering to improve appearance and traffic flow? Next, consider your motivation for selling. If you're only willing to sell if you can get a certain price, and that price is not attainable in the current market, you're not highly motivated. Sellers who are highly motivated, that is, who need to sell as soon as possible, need to carefully plan their marketing strategy. If the home has been on the market for some time without offers, several factors are responsible. These are; Price, Condition and Location. It is that simple. Every home will attract a buyer, but, these factors need to be on your side.

 

BUYER PRE-SALE HOME INSPECTION
October 3rd

Ever wondered about the merits of home inspections? Often the key to a faster and more productive home purchase is knowing the condition the home you are about to put an offer in on. With the lack of inventory, generally in our marketplace the last two years, if you had the time, would it not be advisable to pre-inspect before you put an offer in? For the buyer, it would give you the assurance that the home you are about to buy will not bring you any surprises as you can then put an offer in knowing if there are any challenges you, as the new home owner, will have to undertake upon closing the purchase. For the seller, it too eliminates any worry and one big condition out of the way. It just can make some good sense in this evolving market if buyers take this unknown out of the equation and stop trying to renegotiate their offers after home inspections based upon small ‘defects’. You’re buying a resale home folks, not a new one. Every home out there could use some improvement. If I were a seller, I would encourage a home inspection before the offer.

HELP!
September 26

We’re all guilty of it, we just can’t help it... when it comes to buying a new home we seek out anyone and everyone who can offer us advice. For some, it’s bragging rights but for others its an opportunity to pick the brains of those who have gone through similar changes in their lives. Here’s where we’d like to heed caution.  To put it nicely, there are a lot of real estate experts out there but very few REALTORS. I know we may be just a little biased but, think of it this way; you wouldn’t ask someone who bought a new sports car for advice on which minivan to purchase. When listening to advice (solicited or not) be sure to keep your best interests in mind.

It’s always great to lean on a parent for support...after all they’ve been through it all. Just try to remember, they are in a very different stage in their lives where priorities and needs can shift dramatically from generation to generation. A parent however, can be a great source to keep you grounded and prioritize wants vs. needs.

A good friend or sibling, now there’s someone who knows you better right? They’re likely living a lifestyle more congruent with your own but don’t be surprised if their dreams of a high rise on the waterfront don’t jive with your aspirations of 4 bedrooms and a picket fence. A friend is always a good resource to have a good laugh about the homes that just really wouldn’t work.

In the end, your REALTOR is trained to listen to your needs and help to channel you down the right path to find that perfect home. Whether it’s your first home or your fifth, it still can be an intimidating decision which is why a professional can help to remove the burden and prevent long nights of tossing and turning.


TWO'S COMPANY ... THREE'S A CROWD!
September 19

So you’ve started house hunting, congrats! If you’re thinking it’s now time to rally the troops, maybe consider a few suggestions before you bring a small army to your next showing appointment.

As a first time home buyer you’re probably thinking you’ll need to bring in reinforcements. Here’s our suggestion; give your first few showing appointments a try solo. It sounds intimidating and, inevitably you aren’t the only one who wonders “what am I looking for?” Fear not, you’ll be happy to know that you will quickly pick up on tips and tricks with each viewing and before long know if a home works for you or not within a matter of minutes.

A good friend or a parent can sometimes be helpful but keep this in mind; the more people you bring the more opinions you will receive. Especially for a couple, you probably find both parents and in-laws are more than ready to offer their expertise. As wonderful as that can be it can become quite a distraction from the real matter at hand.

We all love our little ones (or big ones!) and yes, they will no doubt need their stamp of approval but hiring a sitter or leaving them with a family member can give you more quiet time to think. You’d be surprised how hard it is to recall details both big and small of a home when you have to keep your eyes on little ones running around.

To keep some control we suggest limiting to one or two guests. If that’s proving difficult, offer to bring them through open houses in some of the neighbourhoods you’re considering. When you ultimately find the home of your dreams, a second showing or even a further visit can offer a good opportunity to bring in the family.

 

I CAN FIX IT!
September 12

We’ve all seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to “DIY” around the house. For some, it’s a source of great pride to be able to fix or enhance various features around the house while others, it’s just a more economical option. We’d like to offer some advice and propose asking yourself a few questions before picking up that hammer:

-  Have you done a project of this size before? Sure, there’s a first time for everything but, maybe consider the amount of work your’e getting yourself into.

-  Do you have the time to properly complete the job? There’s nothing worse than unfinished or rushed work...that’s when mistakes happen!

-  Do you have all the required tools? Depending on the job, you may need professional grade tools which will need to be purchased or rented at a cost.

-  Do you have knowledge of Building Codes and/or require Permits? Easily overlooked, these things can come back to “bite you” if not carefully thought out.

-  Have you consulted a contractor? You may be surprised that it is not as costly as expected or, can also give a new perspective to the project.

Overall, if any of these questions leave you scratching your head it’s probably best to bring in reinforcements. Hiring a contractor, just as hiring a Realtor, can ensure your job gets done professionally, properly and efficiently.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT...
September 5

When it comes to preparing your home for sale the majors are always discussed; decluttering, cleaning and staging. Often times, it’s the smaller details that are overlooked and for the savvy Buyer can have just as much of an impact. Take some time to take a good look at your home, even if you’re not that handy you’ll be surprised at the things you’ve forgotten or just lived with over the years.

Grab your flashlight and take a look at all your plumbing and faucets. You don’t have to suddenly become Mr. Fix-it but, you may be surprised to find the odd problem. This also gives you a good opportunity to make sure these areas are clean and clear for the home inspector.

The same goes for any other potential water leaks; check the caulking around the tub, seals around toilets and underneath the dishwasher for any water that could be pooling. It is better to address it ahead of time then be left with any surprises down the road.

Look up! No really, take a good look.  You really have no need to ever even think about your ceiling but a quick once over to ensure there aren’t any water spots, cracking or even burnt out light bulbs can ensure peace of mind to a nervous Buyer.

All in all, a few hours of work could potentially save you a much bigger headache in the future.

THE EMPTY NESTER DILEMMA
August 29

Wasn’t it just yesterday the moving truck pulled away, leaving you to unpack boxes in the kitchen, while the kids raced each other up the stairs to lay claim to their bedrooms? Could years have passed since you planted the seedling in the front yard, where now stands that majestic tree? Unbelievable as it may seem, you blinked and became your parents. Millions of baby boomers are now facing, or will shortly face, the big question, "What do we do about the family home?" With children grown and leaving for college or for places of their own, their parents find themselves grappling with a decision that many are just not ready to make. I’m sure most of you bought your present homes assuming that one day you would make a clear cut economic determination. Logically, the 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home is too large. While realizing staying put does not make economic sense, many empty nesters still hold on. Why? A myriad of reasons; selling means a lifestyle adjustment, there may be emotional ties, and, what about all that work that goes with the process of selling? While the decision of when to give up the big house will remain a personal and emotional one, some objective financial factors should be contemplated now. These are:

  • Is the area appreciating or depreciating?
  • Do you have the ability and desire to keep up with maintenance?
  • When will major components need replacing?


PEN TO PAPER
August 22

There are just some things that don’t count when you’re trying to decide how much to offer for a house. They are:

  • Don’t attempt to make a verbal offer to the Seller - it’s not a binding contract
  • Don’t tell a seller’s agent you’ll go higher than what you are offering - Keep in mind, the sales rep is working on behalf of the Seller, that information can be relayed to the owners.
  • Don’t start with an insulting bid - Tempers tend to rise, too many counter offers tend to kill any deal. Sometimes it’s not the money, it’s the principle
  • Don’t base your estimation of the property’s value on tax assessment figures - Nothing is as accurate as the operation of supply and demand in the open market (what other buyers have been paying for similar property in the neighbourhood recently
  • Don’t assume the sellers have built in a cushion because everyone expects a "usual" 5-10% bid under the listing price - Some sellers really hate the bargaining process and have decided to list for a quick sale.

A professional Realtor can and will assist you to make the best decision in the buying process. For those of you who know me, you’ve likely heard me say, "Let’s put pen to paper and see what happens!"

STEALING TITLE
August 15

Stealing title means changing the ownership of a property from one person to another without the consent of the true owner. How is this done? Believe it or not, it can be done as easily as impersonating the true owner and forging a signature. Realize that as our towns have grown to cities, much more business is being transacted over the phone, through fax and over the internet. While it is impersonal, it is convenient for all parties. The banking industry has adopted an increased volume of electronic transactions, so, much so that cheques clear without signatures. So, it is imperative, you as a home owner learn to protect the title to your home. One way is to have a Title Search performed several times a year. This will keep you informed on the activity surrounding the title of your home. These being; any liens or mortgages registered on the property, or any transfers or other transactions you may not be aware of. What do you need to have a search performed?

  • Your personal information (name, address, municipality)
  • The legal description to the property
  • Property Identification Number (PIN Number)

This information is found on your Deed paperwork, which you received when you first purchased the property. You can obtain a search on-line (most inexpensive method) or by visiting your local Land Registry Office :

Halton
Land Registry Office -- REG, LT, PPSR, AUTO, ER
491 Steeles Avenue East
Milton ON L9T 1Y7
Tel: (905) 878-7287
Fax: (905) 876-8806

MORTGAGE FLEXIBILITY
August 8

In the pursuit of securing the best mortgage rates available, buyers too often overlook the most important aspects of the contract, including the fine print. The terms and conditions of a mortgage contract can dramatically impact the end cost, far beyond the savings realized through a normally lower rate. It is important to consider these terms and conditions prior to signing the contract. Doing so after the fact can cost you money. Enquire as to the prepayment privileges offered by the lender. Virtually every lender offers some prepayment options. However, these options can vary dramatically from lender to lender. For instance, some lenders will let you prepay up to 10% of the original mortgage balance, but only once a year and on the anniversary date. Others will permit a cumulative 10% or more per year. This extra flexibility is important if you wish to prepay smaller amounts several times a year, and can have a profound impact on the amortization and end cost of your loan. Some lenders will only let you pay out your mortgage on a bona fide arm’s length sale of you property, regardless of whether you are willing to pay them a penalty. Suppose you win the lottery and wish to pay out your mortgage only to be told that you have to sell your home to do so. These issues should be discussed thoroughly with your mortgage broker so that you will choose the product best suited to your specific needs.

REAL ESTATE FRAUD
August 1

Many home owners own their homes outright, making real estate fraud a very scary reality in these days of increased internet use. Let’s face it, while the internet has made our world so much more convenient, it doesn’t come without some negatives which we must make ourselves completely aware.What is real estate fraud? Well, simplistically put, there are three types; Stealing Title, Obtaining an illegal mortgage and Value Fraud. How can you prevent it? There are a myriad of ways:

  • Never sign documents you have not read through thoroughly
  • Verify your credit reports on a fairly regular basis to ensure there is nothing on them you are not aware of
  • Power of Attorney - ensure you trust this person implicitly
  • Don’t leave confidential documents out in the open in your home
  • Choose to work with reputable, reliable consultants when buying/selling real estate
  • Verify tenants’ references

These days, we open our worlds to many people we really consider strangers. For those of you who know me, I have a saying, ‘Good paperwork makes good friends." 

Make the Most Out of Open Houses
July 25

Open houses are a enigma in real estate. They present a prime opportunity for sellers to present their home to many potential buyers in a short period of time. Yet, many sellers are wary of them. Let me allay your fears. Properly conducted, an open house can be a positive addition to your marketing plan. Here are several examples of prospective purchasers. A couple considering relocation back to the area is in town visiting family and decides to check out a few homes in the old neighbourhood. A young couple about to be married has been touring open houses for weeks trying to find their perfect first home. A young executive with little time to see homes through the week does his shopping on the weekends. Not wishing to engage the services of a Realtor just yet, he feels confident your area and house style will suit his busy lifestyle. These examples can and often do present ‘‘missed opportunity’’ purchasers as your Realtor may not be available at the very time the person decides to pick up the phone to request an appointment. Often, a prospect is available for a few short hours and wants an appointment on demand. And all too often, a potential purchaser prefers to view the home first by open house. If the house is unavailable by open house, they disregard it. We receive many calls and Internet inquiries from people weekly asking when the open house will be. Food for thought. We are now in a summer market. You may wish to employ this useful marketing method. 

Market Conditions and Fall Forecast
July 18

Multiple offers have continued on throughout this start of the summer market with pretty much every price point experiencing this ongoing trend. Burlington and area is still experiencing a lack of inventory in our housing sector. Last June, 399 homes entered the market, and, while it was up marginally this June, at 443, the bidding wars continued. We’re finding the price pocket between 550-850 to be so pent up there really is no predicting what price will ‘win’ a competitive situation. Why? One theory is that the 35 year old buyer has been pre-approved to 850k, so, with that 20 year purchase plan in mind, they have no issue bidding a home up by $100k as they know time will win out and the old ‘buy, hold, prosper’ becomes top of mind. They are staying and not having any part of making the ‘piggy back’ price jumps their parents did. They are happy to sell off the town home that worked while they were in their income establishing years, but, now, their thoughts are turning to family and with an established career to back them up, they are happy to take on the debt load, knowing full well they can now afford baby, travel and mortgage. It’s been an interesting market to say the least, but, hard on buyers....and their Realtors as we are writing 3-5 deals for every buyer it seems. 

Pricing Right
July 11

Here are a few points to consider when deciding on how to strategically price your home. Most sellers have a price in mind, but so do their Realtors as well as buyers and their Realtors. Pricing comes down to these factors.

  • Your property is worth what a buyer is willing to pay, not what a seller paid or the amount of money the seller has put into it.
  • An accurately prices home sells faster and at a higher price.
  • If you underprice your home, you will likely have competing offers. But, in this market with competing offers, buyers are getting weary of this, better to price at market value.
  • An overpriced home has fewer showings, receives lower offers, takes longer to sell and actually contributes to the sale of other homes.
  • By the time an overpriced house is reduced to the market value, it may be too "shop worn" for buyers to offer full price. Have you ever asked how long a home has been on the marker? What conclusion did you draw?

If time is of the essence, you will have to price correctly at the outset. If time is not an issue, you may be listing your home in a time of the year (a spring market) where you and your Realtor can afford to play the odds a bit. 

 

MAKE THE MOST OF COLOUR
July 4

A good paint job can improve a home’s appearance and help it sell faster. But, what colours should you choose? If you plan on selling your home soon, it’s a good idea to avoid anything too drastic and use traditional soft, muted tones. Soft yellows are very popular as they are considered to add warmth and comfort to a room. Think about the room’s natural lighting. Bring paint chips home to see how certain colours look in certain rooms. When choosing paint for a wall, paint a 2' x 2' section first and let it dry. Then look at it at different times of the day when the lighting is different. Remember, paint usually dries one to two shades darker and you don’t want to paint an entire room only to discover the colour is entirely too dark. You can also use colour to create illusions. Paint a ceiling darker to make it appear lower. Conversely, painting a low ceiling a lighter colour will make it appear higher. Pale colours will also make a room look larger while darker colours will make it appear smaller. Paint is an inexpensive way to put your home’s best face forward. 

BUT WE HAVE A POOL!
June 27

Most people hold firm to the belief that owning a home with a pool ensures sale ability. Now is the time of year to capitalize on this asset. You’ve opened it, and now that school is out, the kids are begging you not to sell the house. You’re likely wondering if it’s such a good idea too, after all, it is summer and you’re all enjoying this new form of fun in the sun. So... what do you do? Don’t pull the home off the market. First of all, you’re likely not going to complete the transaction for at least 30 to 60 days, that’s still a few months away. You still have lots of time to enjoy the pool. Spend some time ‘dressing up’ the pool area. Frequent nurseries to find large house plants on sale for the corners of the deck or pool area. Take pictures of your family enjoying the pool and display them in the kitchen so that prospective purchasers can visualize entertaining in your back yard. Check your equipment for disrepair. If anything needs replacing or fixing, attend to it right away. If your skimmers look weather beaten and in poor shape a prospective buyer may assume the pool is in disrepair as well. Paint chain link fencing around a pool area to achieve a clean look. Ensure locks are on and the area is secure. For those of you who wish to purchase a home with a pool, either leave your children at home or ensure you have a firm grip on them while viewing the pool area. It only takes a few seconds for a child to slip into the water.


WHERE BUYERS ALWAYS LOOK
June 20

Here are the MOST likely spots buyers will look:

  • Garage. Clearing the garage so that you can park a car in there is important to give a buyer a proper perspective of whether or not their car will fit. If the garage is full of sports equipment, and overflow from the house, it will show there is not enough room, making the home itself appear too small.
  • Oven. Do not store your pots and pans in the oven. This makes it appear as if you are short on kitchen space. If possible, the oven should be totally empty, and, of course, clean.
  • Closets. Yes, one of the things buyers tend to remember about the houses they see, and to either comment favourably or unfavourable upon are the closets. Avoid cramming the bedroom closets with extras. The more space that shows in your closets, the better.
  • Laundry Room. A nice, neat laundry room is often a pleasant surprise in a home, and something that buyers tend to remember.
  • Kitchen Pantry. Like the laundry room, the kitchen pantry is often the ‘dumping ground’ for all kinds of odds and ends. The less cluttered the pantry is, the bigger it looks.

An organized home shows you have pride of ownership and attention to detail.

 

MAXIMIZING YOUR HOME’S EQUITY
June 13

If I were to tell you of an investment you could make to ensure your home achieved its maximum potential on the market, in any market, would you listen? Once introduced to the open market, a home becomes an asset, a saleable commodity of great potential. How much potential, is in your hands. Many sellers believe it is a Realtor’s job to ‘paint’ that picture of potential. Let me ask you this. When you go in search of a ‘new’ used car, what catches your eye? I’ll bet you look for ‘low mileage, clean and affordable’. You know the black book? There’s an unwritten black book for houses too. It is not the Realtor’s job to clean and de-clutter your home to prepare it for sale. It is yours. And, the old, "but, they can see past my stuff" just does not cut it when potential home buyers are stacking home against home. Pretty homes sell. 63% of buyers prefer to pay more for a house that is in move in condition. So, here you have it. 37% of the buyers will look past your ‘stuff’. Sellers give all sorts of reasons why they don’t want to prepare their homes for market. But, why leave money on the table if you could simply clean and declutter?

BUYING AND SELLING
June 6

 It’s quite natural to wish to sell high and buy low. But, unless you are selling in a flourishing market and then awaiting market conditions to change to favour a buyer, that’s not likely to happen. You need to live somewhere in between and that means exploring your options, ie staying with relatives, renting, obtaining a long closing on the sale of your home to allow for the time to purchase or, more conceivably, buying and selling in the same market. The hard thing to keep in mind is that your home is worth what a willing buyer wishes to pay. That’s so black and white. Especially when your children grew up in the house. When you just renovated and the homes you’re now looking at need all that you just undertook. Here’s the silver lining though. You most likely will buy and sell in the same market. So, if you lose at one end, you’ll likely make it back up at the other. Is real estate still a good investment? Over the long term, yes. Predominantly, you build equity over time. House prices generally rise a bit more than inflation. Sellers, if you are waiting for the market to come to your price, recognize that most sellers are doing that. So, when you put your buyer’s hat on and head out to find your new home, you’re still in the same market.

 

CLOSING COSTS
May 30

A question that often arises is, "What other costs are involved in buying a house?" Well here they are:

  • Down Payment - After you have put down a deposit with the offer, you can continue to save money toward increasing the down payment to further lower your monthly mortgage expense. A down payment under 25% will mean your mortgage is considered a ‘high ratio loan, therefore subject to mortgage insurance fees. A down payment above 25% is considered a ‘conventional mortgage’ which will not be subject to additional fees.
  • Survey - Ensure your Realtor has requested any existing survey the owner may have on hand. Your lender will require the paperwork for financing purposes. If a survey is not available, the cost can run close to $1,000.
  • Land Transfer Tax - the calculation is; .005 x the first $55,000 plus .01% from $55,000 to $250,000 (I’ll stop there, if you’re a first time buyer, likely you’re buying below the $250k mark, if not, call me)
  • Legal Fees - Call around, typical fees range from $400 - $600 plus GST.
  • Disbursements - Title search fees, letter searches, registration costs, prorated adjustments (property taxes, fuel, holdbacks, special assessments/levies), miscellaneous (photocopies, fax transmissions, courier, long distance, travel costs).
  • Home Inspection - Call around, typical fees range from $400 - 600 dependent on house size.
  • Moving Costs - Call around to get quotes from various moving companies. Again, the price quoted will be dependent on square footage of your current living space. If you’re doing the beer and pizza thing, check out a truck rental place.

Good luck with your purchase and move!

Status Certificates
May 23

With such a hot market, is it a good idea to drop the status certificate condition in your condo offer to strengthen your bid? The simple answer....yes....and no. If your sales rep has done some due diligence and researched the condo corporation, or, has first hand knowledge of the state of the corporation in terms of financing and lawsuits, including special assessments, then, it’s your choice. But, removing the condition all together, does run its risks. What if there is a special assessment slated to repair the underground garage that you are not aware of that puts the fees well past what you can afford? If your fees ran a few hundred dollars more a month, would that matter to you? While having a firm offer certainly strengthens your position in the sellers’ eyes, it also can put you in harm’s way. It is your realtor’s job to counsel you by educating you on the pitfalls, but, also to allow you the choice to strengthen. Many times, even a home inspection is not necessary, and can be the reason you ‘win’ a competitive bidding situation or lose. The choice, though, is in your hands.

The 20 Year Plan Purchase
May 16

An emerging trend with our 30 ‘something’ buyer is to now jump straight into the house to raise their children and send them off to university. It’s a smart and interesting concept in that gone are the ‘piggy back’ jumps into the eventual larger home as these buyers are going from the empty nester home straight into the ‘forever’ home. If you have the financial where with all, that can work out wonderfully with the mortgage rates still so forgiving. But, the peer pressure to do so is really not possible for everyone. What we are seeing is still the ‘instant gratification’ in what their parents are just now starting to afford, the kids want right now. That being, the granite kitchens, inground salt water pools, finished basements, 4 bedrooms with hardwood flooring style homes. Keep in mind, that inasmuch as it is nice to have the perfect entertainment home, putting in all these renovations at one time will mean the upgrades will depreciate in the same time frame, making all this renovation necessary in 20 years, just in time for the University costs. Doing some projection planning for renovation makes sense. 

MARKET CONDITIONS AND SUMMER FORECAST
May 9

This Spring market has been very difficult for buyers. We have seen every price point in our marketplace going into competitive bids. The asking prices are driven up, and, like last year, the buyer then uses the home inspection to bring the prices more in line to reduce the sting of the price he has been forced to pay to ‘win’. The stress level of such a market certainly is taking its toll on all parties. As a Realtor, it has become exceedingly difficult to counsel a client as to the ‘right’ price or just how much is too much. Well, when the pricing is driven up well past a number that your bank will be willing to back, you should take a step back and understand the financial ramifications of your actions. Yes, getting pre-approved is a given these days, but, understanding that your bank has two stages of approval. The first is on you as a buyer and the second is on the home you purchase with the bank’s money. If the home you purchase will not appraise for the value you bought it for, your financing may be turned down. Another ‘newer’ trend this market that we are seeing cause problems is a buyer trying to roll their reno budget into the mortgage. The market is far too hot to attempt to buy the ‘worst house on the best street’ and then roll in another 50k in renovation. You need to ensure the home will appraise with the ‘bid up price PLUS the renovation budget". If it won’t, you may have an issue with your financing. All things to consider when buying in this type of lack of inventory market. Sellers are rubbing their hands together, but, buying and selling in this market can be a lot trickier than anticipated.

May 02

EMPTY NEST?

Many of us are now at an age where children are beginning to leave home and make lives of their own. So, what are you going to do with all of those spare bedrooms? One option is to downsize. Sell the family home and move into a smaller home, perhaps a townhouse or condo apartment. Many empty nesters are also turning to renovations and are coming up with a variety of ideas to efficiently use all that empty space. A home office is one idea. Many people are retiring and turning to independent consulting and need a room to work. For those who prefer hobbies, leave the dining room table for eating and take it upstairs. Create a work room for scrap booking, painting and sewing for all those new grandchildren. Or fight the middle-aged spread with an exercise room. If you do spend a lot of time with grandchildren, consider turning an old bedroom into a playroom. Paint the walls in colourful designs. This prevents the spread of toys to the entire house. Or take down a wall and enlarge your master. Get the bathroom of your dreams and add a sitting area for reading. The choice is yours and the options endless! You can always simply redecorate current bedrooms and keep them for when the children come home again. 

"MY HOME WILL SELL ITSELF"
April 25

Not all homes sell fast. Listings that sell fast are usually those that are in high demand,are priced right, are well located, and are in move-in condition. There may be a factor beyond your control that's causing your home to take longer to sell, like a small lot or outdated floor plan. Homes in higher price ranges tend to   remain on the market longer. In Burlington, homes listed over $1m generally take longer to sell and require a targeted market plan which may have to be adjusted as the market changes. Market conditions also play a big part. In a fast paced seller's market with a low inventory of homes for sale, listings usually sell quickly. But even so, homes with incurable defects, like a lot of highway noise or cut up floor plan may take longer than average to sell. No matter the market conditions, if your home is unusual or doesn't have broad based appeal, you should expect it to take longer to sell. The buyer for your home is out there somewhere. It's risky to take a home you need to sell off the market because market conditions are constantly changing. You could end up in a worse situation if the market falls while you're taking a breather. It's usually a better strategy to do what you can to improve the marketability of your home today.

 

THE ESTATE SALE
April 18

Preparing a home for the market can be a daunting task at the happiest of times. The passing of a loved one puts this task in a category on its own. Here are some tips that will hopefully assist your family if ever faced with this most difficult responsibility.

  • Possessions - gather family to decide which items have not been spoken for. Have furniture appraised if uncertain of the value. Make a list including value for the Realtor if you plan to sell items in the final Agreement.
  • Personal Items - leave in home for now. Removing items immediately may give potential prospects the idea you wish to sell quickly.
  • Communicate - Points of contact for every member of the family including the Estate Lawyer will need to be given to the Realtor. The executor will need to council the Realtor as to whom should receive information.
  • Request Time - When an offer arrives, you will need an adequate amount of time to gather all parties together to review and react. Ask for 24-72 hours depending on schedules. This is called the Irrevocable Date. Have your Realtor set the time frame out in the remarks of the Listing Contract.
  • Maintain Composure - no-one can replace the memories of your loved one, nor, can they take them away. And, nor can you sell them with the home. Try to keep your emotions from getting in the way of practicality.



A MEMORABLE HOME
April 11

When potential buyers view your home, you want them to leave excited and thinking "I could definitely live here!" Sellers need to make their houses memorable and one of the best ways to do this is to keep it as clean and neat as is humanly possible. Scrub the house from top to bottom and hire a cleaning service to help if you don’t have the time to do it yourself. A freshly painted and washed exterior can do wonders if it was previously looking old and tired. Powerwash vinyl siding and mow the lawn. Clear up spider webs, clean windows until they sparkle and make sure all toys and tools are put away. You don’t want potential buyers to trip. Make a statement right away with a welcoming entranceway. Each room can adopt its own personality without becoming too dramatic. Make sure the hardwood gleams and add a coat of paint where necessary as it does wonders for little work and expense. The kitchen is especially important. Clear away all clutter, fix leaky faucets and change hardware for an inexpensive facelift. Of course, there’s always the old standby - flowers. A tasteful floral arrangement will brighten any room. Give us a call if we can help you!



DEBT REDUCTION
April 4

One of the most exciting facts about buying a home is that you’re now about to start building equity, ensuring your money now begins to work for you. With that said, you might be a little concerned over this huge debt you’ve just taken on. There are ways though that you can effectively manage your debt(s). Before agreeing to sign on with a lender, ask lots of questions about the prepayment options. One of the best ways to decrease your debt and to reduce your interest costs is to increase the frequency of your payments. Not only will you pay less in interest, you will pay the debt off faster. Contrary to popular belief, paying your mortgage off as quickly as you can is not always your smartest plan. What? Yes, you read correctly. Pay off your most expensive debt first. Often, this is your visa. The debt you want to attack is the one with the highest interest rate. If you’re prone to run a balance on the visa, use the money you were going to throw on the mortgage to eliminate the visa debt and then, keep it under control. Get in the habit of paying the balance of your visa when the bill comes in. Once you’ve paid off your most expensive debt, apply the same strategy to your next highest debt and so on until you’ve worked through all debts but the mortgage. Once you’ve learnt to keep your highest interest rate debts under control, you can then begin to plan to escalate that debt reduction. Good luck and good planning!