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Getting Your Home Hunting Ducks in a Row

Say you’re shopping for a new home. Your goal is to find the ideal property, in a neighbourhood that is just right for you, within a price range that you can afford.

What do you need — at minimum — to get started?

If you’re looking for ways to get your ducks in a row, here are some things to prepare:

  • A property wish list. What does your ideal home look like? How many bedrooms does it need to have? Do you require a spacious recreational room? A large deck? A pool? A nice view? Get your wish list down on paper.
  • A neighbourhood wish list. Where you live is just as important as what you live in. What qualities are you looking for in a neighbourhood? A nearby park? Walking distance to a good school? Hiking trails? A shorter drive to work? Write it down.
  • A pre-approved mortgage. Getting the financing handled up front takes the guesswork out of what you can afford. Home sellers will also take any offers you make more seriously.
  • Realistic expectations. 99.9% of homes sell at or near the current market value. So, don’t expect to find a bargain that no one else has noticed.

Looking for more advice on finding your next dream home? Call today!

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How Your Home’s Market Value is Calculated

Imagine you’re shopping for a used iPhone 11 that’s in good condition. You visit a resale website and discover that most are selling for approximately $350. Would you be willing to pay $400? Probably not. The market value is obviously well-established. There would be no reason to pay more.

Pricing your home for sale is similar. Your home has a market value and, if you were to list it, buyers would expect to pay close to that amount. If you price it too high, many buyers won’t even bother to see it. If you price it too low, you’ll leave money on the table.

Many factors come into play when calculating that market value – neighbourhood, street characteristics, special features, upgrades, condition, etc. However, the most important factor is the price similar homes in your area sold for recently.

Finding out the market value of your home is a smart idea, even if you don’t plan to sell in the near future. It helps you make better decisions should something change and you need or want to sell.

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How Much Time Should You Spend Viewing Homes?

Asking how much time you should spend viewing properties for sale is a little like asking, “How long should I spend trying on shoes?”
The answer seems obvious: As long as it takes to make a decision!

Buying a home is significantly more complex than purchasing shoes – and the stakes are higher too! You need to make sure you have all the information necessary to confidently make the best decision.

There are basically three stages to viewing a property:

  • Macro
  • Micro
  • Professional

When you view a home on a macro basis, you’re looking at it from an overall perspective. For example, you may do a general walk-through to get a first impression and determine if the property has the basic features you need, such as the number of bedrooms and the size of the backyard.

Macro viewing is often the fastest stage in the viewing process and can sometimes take just a few minutes.

If you like what you see, then it’s onto the micro stage. At this stage you take a closer look at the details of the property. You might, for example, spend extra time in the master bedroom imagining how your furniture would look and fit.

The micro stage takes longer simply because the home is now on your shortlist. You’re interested and are considering making an offer.

Finally, the professional stage involves getting a qualified home inspector to go over the property with a fine tooth comb. That typically occurs after you’ve made an offer.
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Showcase Your Home with the Right Lighting

The top retail store chains invest heavily in creating just the right lighting to make their products look great. Why? They know that lighting makes a measureable difference to sales.

The same is true when you sell your home. Lighting can make a big difference in the impression your home has on buyers.

There are two types of light sources, manufactured and natural. You need to consider both when staging your home for sale.

Think about the mood you want to create in each room. For example, you might want the kitchen to seem bright and alive. If yours isn’t quite like that, check whether you are using the highest wattage light bulbs suitable for your fixtures. Also, look for ways to bring in more sunshine. Switching curtains for blinds might do the trick.

In the living room, you might want a cozier feel. That can be accomplished by using lamps that cast a softer and gentler light than more imposing overhead fixtures.

Pay particular attention to dimly lit rooms in your home, including nooks and crannies. Even adding small track lighting to a pantry cupboard can make the space seem brighter and more inviting. Check that lighting is adequate in the garage and walk-in closets too.

Finally, make sure all lights in your home work during viewings. Have spare bulbs available in case one burns out. You don’t want a buyer to try to turn on a light and discover it’s not working.
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Getting Family Members on the Same Page

Remember the last time you had a family discussion about what to have for dinner? Chances are, there were some disagreements! In fact, it might have been agonizing trying to get everyone to settle on the same dish. Now imagine getting everyone to agree on what type of home to buy!

Obviously, you want family members to be in harmony when looking for a new home. The more everyone is on the same page, the smoother the process will be.

Here are some tips worth trying:

  • Make a list. Have everyone list the top three features they want in a new home. You might find that family members are closer to agreement than you thought. Also, family members will likely not be disappointed if they get two out of the three features they want.
  • Have a family meeting. Set a goal to have a clear profile of the kind of home you want by the end of the meeting. Be prepared for some lively discussion, but also be firm that a decision needs to be made.
  • Be understanding. If a family member insists on a particular feature, ask why. It might be trivial, such as having a shopping mall within walking distance when driving or taking transit is relatively easy. On the other hand, the desired feature might be something truly important and worth considering.
  • Manage expectations. Explain that not everyone will get what they want and that you (or you and your significant other) will do your best to accommodate everyone’s wishes.

There’s no perfect solution. Depending on your family, it might be difficult to make sure everyone is happy with the home you end up buying. However, by using these tips you can ensure that everyone will at least feel they’ve been heard. Then, once you start building memories in your new place, everyone will start to feel like it’s home!

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What to Watch for when Viewing an Older Home

Buying an older property definitely has its advantages. The neighbourhood will already be well-established, so you’ll be able to get a sense of the community. The trees will be grown. The area will have a defined character. This combination of an older home and established community may be something you like, or even love.

However, when you’re viewing an older home for sale, there are a few extra things you need to be sure to check. Here are the most important:

Needed replacements. Nothing lasts forever. In any home, there are items that will eventually need to be replaced. The most common include roofing shingles, furnace, water heater, air conditioner, windows, deck, and fencing. When viewing an older property, ask about the age of each of these items. You’ll get an idea of probable upcoming replacement expenses.

Building issues. Homes were built differently decades ago than they are today. So, there may be issues that need to be addressed by a new owner. Some can be serious, such as water leakage and structural problems. Others, less so, such as old electrical outlets that need to be updated. If there are issues like these, they’ll likely be identified during the professional home inspection.

Drafts. Drafts are common in older homes. Of course, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be fixed. Even modest infiltration of air through an old window or door with worn weatherstripping could add hundreds of wasted dollars to your energy bill each year. Look for signs of drafts when viewing a home.

The good news is, the overwhelming majority of these issues can be fixed easily. Don’t let them dissuade you from buying an older home you otherwise like.

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Packing Materials You May Need for your Move

As you probably know, when you’re preparing to move, you’ll need boxes, tapes, perhaps some bubble-wrap or old newspapers to use as protective wrapping for delicate items.

But that may not be all you need. Take a look at this list and see if you want to have any of these on hand while you’re packing or on your moving day:

  • Colour markers for labelling boxes. (Tip: Colour coding boxes by room will make unpacking much easier.)
  • Stretch wrap to protect larger items that can’t fit into a box.
  • Small plastic bags to store disassembled parts, such as sofa legs, cabinet hardware, etc. (You don’t want to lose them!)
  • Moving blankets to protect floors.
  • A dolly or hand truck to move heavy items. (You can rent these.)
  • Mattress moving bags. These help prevent stains and tears during your move. You can also buy specialty bags for sofas and tables.
  • Reusable foam furniture sliders, to protect floors when furniture needs to be pushed into place.
  • Foam corner protectors. These prevent furniture with sharp corners from banging and damaging other items during a move.
Planning ahead and having the right packing and moving materials on hand will make your move less stressful and, hopefully, damage-free!
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Setting The Right Price for a Listing

Setting the right list price for a home is a mystery for many sellers. How do you begin to determine what buyers are likely to pay for your property? After all, no two homes are exactly alike.

Yet, setting the right price is crucial. You need to avoid the two price “tipping points” that, if crossed, can cause you a lot of problems.

The first tipping point is a price that’s low enough for buyers to begin thinking something is wrong. They wonder, “Why is your price so low? What are you not telling us about your property?”

But that’s not even the worst problem with this tipping point. If you do get offers at that low price, you’ll have a bigger issue – leaving thousands of dollars on the table.

The other tipping point is setting your price so high it discourages buyers from giving your listing a second look. When your price is that high, you’ll get few enquiries and even fewer people coming to see your property.

Of course, you can lower your price later, if necessary. But experience shows that reduced prices make potential buyers skeptical. Most sellers who price high in the hopes of getting a windfall, actually end up selling for much less than they would have had they priced their properties correctly in the first place.

So, what’s the right price to list your property? The answer is somewhere in-between those two tipping points.

Call today for help determining the right price for your property.

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The Latest Options in Outdoor Lighting

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 4×4 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.

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Should You Reclaim the “Lost” Bedroom?

Do you have an extra bedroom that you’ve converted into a home office, arts and crafts room or other non-slumbering use? If so, you may be wondering if you should convert it back into a traditional bedroom before you list.

According to home staging experts, that may be a good idea.

Although buyers will know the space was designed as a bedroom, there will be a psychological response to seeing it used otherwise. For example, say potential buyers view a property with a master bedroom, a second bedroom, and a third bedroom converted into a child’s playroom. Logically, they’ll know it’s a three-bedroom home – but the impression that will form will be of “two bedrooms and a playroom”, not a “three bedroom home.” This is especially true if closet doors have been removed. They may even start wondering whether there is anywhere else for a child to play.

So, when you’re selling, consider changing the bedroom back to its original purpose. You don’t necessarily need to put in a bed and dresser (although for staging purposes, that would help.) Just make the bedroom look like a bedroom for showings.

Keep this in mind: It’s easier for buyers to imagine a bedroom as a potential home office, playroom, etc. than the other way around.