July 1, 2022

MUST-HAVE TOOLS FOR HOMEOWNERS

 

When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects.

 

Cordless drill: A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month.

 

Drain cleaners: Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they’re expensive and the lingering chemical scent is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.

 

Shop-vac: No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass.

 

Loppers: Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard.

 

Flashlight: You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace!

Posted in Real Estate Tips
June 1, 2022

TOWNHOUSE VS. CONDO: WHICH SHOULD YOU BUY?

 

Whether it’s your first time buying or you just want to purchase something smaller, townhouses and condos are both great options. Check out the differences between the two to help aid you in your search!

 

Condominiums

Condominiums are similar to apartments in that you purchase an individual unit inside of a larger building, but not the property it sits on. This generally includes access to the building’s amenities, such as the clubhouse, pool, and gym. However, condo owners are not responsible for the upkeep and repair of these common areas. Because of the number of shared spaces, living in a condo often allows for meeting new people and building a strong sense of community. There is a fairly similar vetting process for loan approval as for a full-sized home; however, the lender will also look at the health of the condo association.

 

Townhouses

Those who purchase a townhome are generally purchasing the complete unit, both inside and out, including the land it sits on. This might also include the driveway, yard, or roof. Traditionally, these units are two- or three-stories tall and may also include common areas like pools and parks. Townhome owners pay a fee to a homeowners association every month and the loan process is the same as buying a full-sized home.

 

Which is the best choice?

Both townhomes and condos offer less maintenance than a traditional home and generally offer great shared areas. Your decision ultimately comes down to you and your family’s needs and wants. Things you’ll want to take into consideration include location, lifestyle, family growth, and price.

Posted in Real Estate Tips
May 17, 2022

Easy Landscaping DIY Projects

 

Ever get the itch to do a DIY project? Whenever we do, our favorites involve getting outdoors and mixing up our landscaping features.  Whether it's as simple as installing some lighting or a little more time-consuming like re-plotting plants, a fresh look for the lawn always gives your home a fresh look as well. Here are our top five easy landscaping projects!

 

Create a pathway.

To guide you and visitors throughout your yard and link different areas together, install a pathway. You can use materials from a variety of materials, including reclaimed pallet wood, flagstones, gravel, and more to add texture and color.

 

Add a wall or border.

Installing a flagstone, rock, or brick wall around flower beds or trees adds a sleek, clean look to your landscaping and helps separate different sections of your yard.

 

Install a water feature.

Nothing says zen quite like the sound of trickling water as you relax in your backyard. You can start simple with by purchasing and installing a small feature powered by a solar panel or create a larger focal point in your yard by installing a waterfall wall or small pond.

 

Light your way.

An easy way to transform your yard is to strategically use lighting. Place cool-colored lights high in trees to recreate a moonlight feel, use pathway lights to naturally guide the eye, or highlight objects or plants.

 

Plant upwards.

Expand your yard space by drawing the eye to the sky with a trellis fence or screen made of wood or metal. Once you install your trellis, select your climbing plants and vines and get to planting!

 

The best backyard budget landscaping tip of all is to reuse and recycle items whenever possible. Visit your local thrift stores and check the classifieds online to find local garage sales. By purchasing used planters, furniture and even gardening tools to spruce up your lawn, you can save hundreds of dollars, and keep some really nice items out of the trash. Ultimately, to keep your backyard landscaping costs low, all you need is time and a little creativity.

Posted in Home Trends
May 2, 2022

Prepping Pets for the Move

 

Your moving day is set and it’s time to start preparing. As you’re making your lists and checking them twice, don’t forget to factor in your furry friends. Here are some tips for making sure the process goes smoothly.

 

Medical records. When moving to a different city or state, one of the main things you need to take into consideration is finding a new veterinarian that is the right fit for you and your pet. If you have family or friends in the area ask for recommendations or do your own research by reading reviews and news articles. Once you find one, contact your current vet to initiate a transfer of medical records. Then schedule a “get to know you” appointment shortly after your move.

Transportation. Whether it’s a short drive or a long plane ride, you pet will likely need to be put into a carrier. For most pets, this is a foreign concept and they require time to get comfortable with it. Start acclimating your pet as early as possible and use comfort items like treats and favorite toys and blankets to make the experience a positive one for your pet.

Acclimation. Pad your moving schedule with ample time to get your dog or cat acclimated to their new home. While the movers are still hard at work, keep them safely away from foot traffic to reduce stress. Once they’ve left, make sure to clear anything that could be dangerous and block off areas as necessary then let them free to get a lay of the land on their own.

 

With patience, your cat or dog will be king or queen of your new home in no time.

Posted in Real Estate Tips
April 18, 2022

Eye Catching Ways to Decorate with Plants

 

Using plants as décor is a great way to add a little colour and a natural, bright feel to any room. There are endless types of plants to choose from and various ways to display each one, but here are a few of our favourite combinations.

Geometric pots. Find geometric pots or planters of various sizes and plant small succulents of different styles and colours in each one. Then group a few pots together on a window sill or shelf or use them individually to adorn a side table or centre of the dining room table.

Long, hanging plants. Purchase a larger, draping plant-like eucalyptus, fern, or ivy and hang it from the ceiling using a macramé plant hanger or place it on a high shelf or ladder. These plants are perfect for the corner of your living room or room with a large, plain wall that is in need of a little pop of colour.

Plant corner. Have a large corner in the dining or living room and need ideas on how to fill it? Consider turning it into a small plant sanctuary. Select plants of all different sizes, heights, colours, and styles and purchase either matching pots or a mix of designs. Consider the use of a stool or small table to create additional levels and strategically place each one in the corner.

Air plants. Air plants are universal and can be included in DIY wall art, hung from the ceiling or on the wall inside geometric metal prisms, or placed inside beautiful glass terrariums alongside other plants and colorful rocks or sand.

Interested in interior decorating with plants, but doubtful of your green thumb? Try not to worry, as there are plants everyone can grow.

Posted in Home Trends
April 1, 2022

Staging Strategies for Your Home

Staging your home is all about putting the best foot forward for potential buyers. By highlighting its most desirable features, you can draw more interest to your home and leave a lasting impression that is sure to help you sell it more quickly. Here’s what you should keep in mind as you prepare for your next open house or viewing!

 

  • Help them visualize it as their own. Make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves making your house their home by removing personal memorabilia, knick-knacks, and photos. Instead replace them with simple décors, such as paintings, nature images, and plants.

 

  • Think sleek instead of comfy. Modern-day buyers are leaning toward modern, crisp, clean interiors over comfy, homey looks. When staging your home, keep a minimalist mindset, and incorporate bright colours and metal accents.

 

  • Deep clean the small spaces. It's obvious to say you should clean your home before viewing, but don’t forget to cover your bases by deep cleaning the small spots. Take time to scrub porous areas like grout that may hold on to stains and baseboards where small pet hairs and dust love to cling.

 

  • Spruce up your landscaping. The first impression your home gives to potential buyers is its exterior. Ensure you have a freshly mowed lawn, neat hedges and shrubbery, bright flowers, and a clean driveway.

 

  • Set the mood. A home is so much more than just the way it looks, so you need to appeal to the other senses. Prior to having potential buyers over, set the mood by burning delicious smelling candles and selecting an upbeat, happy soundtrack to play in the background.

 

Posted in Real Estate Tips
March 15, 2022

Mistakes to Avoid When Listing Your Home

 

Sidestep these three common pricing mistakes the next time you’re ready to proudly plant a sign in the yard:⁣

Mistake #1: Not listening to your agent's recommendation.⁣

Emotions run high when selling, especially if you’ve lived in your home for years. Sometimes we have sellers who love their home so deeply, they can’t see clearly where to price it. Other times, sellers want to recoup 100% of their upgrade or renovation costs. ⁣

The truth is, pricing a home for the market is more than emotions or renovation costs. It’s comps, location, size, age, updates, and, of course, market conditions. While a good agent will always listen to your opinions, he or she will use their own tried-and-true methods to price your home accurately.⁣

 

Mistake #2: Way overpricing your home so you’ll have “room to negotiate.”⁣

Overpricing is the #1 way to crush your chance at getting the most money for your home. The idea that pricing a home higher will lead to a higher sale price is just flat out WRONG!⁣

The first few days of a listing are the likeliest to bring a high offer. Crazily overprice it and buyers won’t be interested. Remember they have agents too who know what your home is worth. A home that is priced right will generate more interest and sell faster.⁣

 

Mistake #3: Expecting the Asking Price

Any smart buyer will negotiate, and if you want to complete the sale, you may have to play ball. Most people want to list their homes at a price that will attract buyers while still leaving some breathing room for negotiations—the opposite of the underpricing strategy described above. This may work, allowing the buyer to feel like they are getting good value while allowing you to get the amount of money you need from the sale.

 

Learning how to sell a house is crucial. Make sure you prepare mentally and financially for less-than-ideal scenarios, even if you don’t make any of these mistakes. The house may sit on the market for far longer than you expect, especially in a declining market. If you can’t find a buyer in time, you may end up trying to pay two mortgages, having to rent your home out until you can find a buyer, or, in dire situations, in foreclosure. However, if you avoid the costly mistakes listed here, you’ll be a long way toward putting your best foot forward and achieving that seamless, lucrative sale for which every home seller hopes. 

Posted in Real Estate Tips
March 1, 2022

The Pros and Cons of New Construction

If you're thinking about buying or building new construction consider these pros & cons:

Pros of New Construction

  • Custom-fit: Customizing your new home is the biggest pros of building new construction. It gives you the chance to design almost every inch of space to meet your needs.
  • No renovations: When you build or buy new construction, there's no need for updating because your home will be up to date with materials, colors, and design from day one.
  • Builder warranties and financing incentives: Many builder warranties will cover anything that happens to the home within two years of the date of purchase.
  • That new home smell! Moving into a new home knowing that no one has ever lived there is an amazing feeling — plus, major systems and appliances won’t need replacing anytime soon.

Cons of New Construction

  • Cost: All that custom stuff? It comes with a price. On average, it costs around 20% more to have a new home built than to buy an existing one.
  • Limited options: Unless you build an entirely custom home, you may be limited in your design, floor plan, and finishing options.
  • Fluid sticker price: Because of delays, change orders, and added costs, it's hard to know how much your new home will cost until the welcome mat is out.
  • Timeline: You can be kicking your feet up in an existing home in as little as 30-45 days. New construction? Stretch that timeline out to at least 3-12 months. 

Considering new construction? Use our guide to assist you through the process. There you'll find questions to ask the builder, pros & cons checklist, lender information, and more!

Posted in Real Estate Tips
Feb. 15, 2022

8 Reasons Real Estate is the Best Investment

Real estate has long been considered a solid investment for many reasons. It is a relatively safe and easy way for people to build wealth beginning with a small amount of money. If you are interested in investing in real estate, I’d be happy to help you find the right properties.

Here are some of the ways investing in property can help you build an investment portfolio.

1. Real estate investments can provide you with a reliable and steady cash flow. Investing in rental properties is relatively easy as expenses are predictable and if your properties remain occupied you know what to expect in terms of profit margin.

2. Real estate appreciates in value. Real estate consistently appreciates, even during economic downturns, making it one of the more reliable investments. On average, real estate in the US appreciates between 3-5% annually.

3. Real estate investments help you retire. If you have been paying on your mortgage throughout your working years, you will experience greater cash flow as you near the end of your mortgage term and the principal is paid off.

4. Real estate sales are taxed at a lower rate than other income. When you sell your property, you are taxed short- or long-term capital gains which are usually lower than income tax brackets.

5. Real estate equity can be leveraged. One of the most attractive reasons for investing in real estate is the ability to leverage your money. When you take out a mortgage to purchase property you reduce the amount of capital required. As you build up equity in the property, you borrow against the equity or refinance the original loan, freeing up cash to buy another property.

6. You have control to improve upon your asset. Unlike an investment in stock, where you have no control over how it performs, you can improve upon your real estate investment. Updating or upgrading systems, finishes, appliances, and landscaping helps build value in your investment.

7. Real estate gains taxes can be deferred. Under the 1031 exchange tax code, you can invest the gains from the sale in one property to the purchase of another property without paying taxes on the gains.

8. Real estate investments are depreciable. This is confusing, but you can legally claim a depreciation expense on an investment property even though the value of your investment property is actually appreciating. The depreciation deduction allows investors to generate a higher cash flow while reporting a lower income for tax purposes.

Posted in Real Estate Tips
Jan. 31, 2022

Is it Smart to Refinance?

 

Your home mortgage is an important investment in your future, and a mortgage refinance can be a smart move to help you manage your investments when used under the right circumstances. Here are some things to consider about refinancing your mortgage.

Simply put, when you refinance your mortgage, you are taking out a new loan to pay off your original mortgage, so the first question to ask yourself may be is there a better product available to you than what you started with?

Refinancing allows you to borrow against the equity you have built up in your home and take out cash you can use to pay off other debt, make home improvements, or invest in your retirement. For example, let’s say you have $70,000 of equity in your home, but still owe $175,000 on your mortgage. You may take out a new mortgage for $200,000 that is used to pay off the first mortgage, and then pays you $25,000 in cash. If you have made regular payments on your initial mortgage for at least five years, you probably have enough equity built up to take a cash-out mortgage.

Another reason to refinance is to reduce your monthly payment to give you more flexibility in your monthly budget. When you refinance, you are basically starting over on your 30-year commitment, but, if you are not taking cash out, your new mortgage amount will be lower, so your payments decrease.

If you originally took out a 15-year mortgage, changing to a 30-year term will lower your monthly payment considerably.

You may also choose the opposite and switch from a 30-year loan to a 15-year term. Your monthly payments will likely increase, but you will pay your loan off earlier and pay less interest.

Another reason people refinance is to change from an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate. This eliminates fluctuations in your monthly mortgage payment and may help you take advantage of favorable rates.

Before you decide to refinance, do some homework. You should perform an audit of your monthly budget, assess your short and long-term financial goals, check your credit score, watch interest rate fluctuations, and consider the costs involved in refinancing ads there will be closing costs on your new loan.

Posted in Real Estate Tips