3 Ways to Add Value to Your Home

The value of your home fluctuates constantly and is dependent on factors such as location, local growth, your neighbours’ homes, and current market conditions. Those factors are out of your control; however, you can add value to your home yourself through the upgrades you make to your home. Here are some easy, budget-friendly ways to add value to your home.

Backsplash

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to add value to your home. Start with small upgrades like a new or refreshed backsplash. Applying a fresh coat of paint can cover up old stains and scratches. Retiling the backsplash is a task most beginner DIYers can achieve and will make your backsplash look brand new. Many home improvement stores also offer peel and stick backsplashes for an even easier application.

Hardware

Upgrading the hardware, such as your doorknobs, cabinet handles, and even light fixtures in your home can give it a more modern feel and help you make a statement. If you aren’t sure what kind of hardware you’d like to use, consider looking into stainless steel. It’s easy to care for, very durable, and attractive.

Paint

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for your walls and cabinets. Make any room feel cleaner and more welcoming. Just remember to keep the colours neutral if you’re planning to sell your home.

3 Financial Questions to Ask Before Selling Your Home

Before you sell your home, you need to understand the finances involved in the process. This will help ensure you have a smooth transaction and set you up for success with your next home purchase. Here are the three most important questions to ask yourself before you get started:

What are the current market conditions?

As a general rule of thumb, the best time to sell is when listing inventory is low. More buyers vying for fewer houses means you’ll likely get a better deal for your home. When listing inventory is high, buyers have more options and you may need to price your home more competitively to get offers.

How much can I reasonably expect to get for my home?

Depending on the current market, the condition of your home, and how much homes similar to yours sold for recently, I can create a comparative market analysis that will give you a good idea of how much you could expect to get for your home.

How much do I owe on my home?

If you owe more on your home than it’s worth, it may not be a great time to sell. However, if you’ve built up a good amount of equity on your home, you could be looking at receiving a large check for selling your home. Take the amount you expect to get for selling and subtract how much you still owe to get a basic idea of how much you could walk away from the closing table with.

Figuring out if it’s the right time to buy or sell a home can be tricky. If you have questions or would like help figuring out when the right time to move is for your family, let me know. I’ll be glad to help!

Important Tips to Follow When Getting Your Home Ready for Sale

We reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers – a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates throughout Canada – to find out some tips and best practices that will help you get your home ready for sale.

Clean & De-clutter

Cleaning and de-cluttering is one of the most important things you can do when preparing to sell your home. Cleaning is fundamental when it comes to selling your home. You want to present your home in a way that is going to give potential buyers the best first impression and dirty house will be the first thing people notice. It doesn’t take much to give your house a good clean and it is an easy way to prep your home for sale. De-cluttering also plays a huge role in the overall impression people get when viewing a home, as a house with very minimal clutter opens up the opportunity for the viewer to picture themselves in the space. Being able to imagine themselves living in the space will automatically make your home feel much more inviting and welcoming.

One influencer stated, “Most buyers know within the first couple of minutes if it is the right house for them. First impressions are important, so de-cluttering and leaning is of the most importance,” Al Dredge, RE/MAX Real Estate, Edmonton, AB.

Staging

Staging is a great way to present your home to potential buyers as it allows them to see what can potentially be done in each room of the house. Staging ties in the de-cluttering aspect of prepping your home to sell, as you want to de-personalize your home as much as possible. Many people find it hard to imagine themselves living in a space when someone else’s family photos and personal items are visible. By de-personalizing and removing those items from sight, it creates more of a show home feel.

“Develop a show experience! Don’t just de-clutter and depersonalize, but deep clean, repair any known deficiencies and improve any known weaknesses. Proper pricing and marketing will position a property or a potential offer, but show experience is the determining factor in move-in-ready real estate,” says Taylor Hack, RE/MAX River City, Edmonton, AB.

Staging a home ca be as simple as putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls and rearranging your furniture, which makes it a great way to get your home ready for sale.

Get Professional Photos Taken

As good as the cameras are on smartphones these days, nothing can compare to the quality of professional photos. Your listing photos are the very first impression that potential buyers get of your home and having dark, grainy images is going to immediately deter interest. Professional photographers know how to manipulate light in a space to produce the best possible photo and can work with angles to give the best possible representation of your home through your listing images.

Frank Fairley of RE/MAX First Realty, Parksville, BC says, “the photos are going to be viewed over and over, so it is of primary importance to show well on both the outside and the inside. Use a pro photographer, don’t take photos yourself!”

Hiring a professional photographer is one of the best investments you can make when it comes to getting your home ready for sale and their images allow you to put your best foot forward and leave the best impression on potential home buyers.

10 Things To Do Before The Snow Falls

You’re still revelling in the heat of summer, but believe it or not, winter is coming. Now that September has come, you’ll want to start working your way through this fall home maintenance checklist. Ensuring that your home’s cold-weather systems are running efficiently will save you money and major headaches in the long run.

  1. Drain the Hose

Watering season is over, but you’re not done with your outdoor watering system quite yet. To avoid cracked hoses and burst faucets over the winter, turn off water valves in your home and drain all remaining water from the taps and hoses. Tip: Unrolling the hose down a gentle slope will let the water run out completely.

  1. Clear Vents

To prevent ice dams — ridges of roof ice that prevent melting snow from draining — ensure attic vents are free of debris. Poor soffit ventilation can increase mold inside the house and damage wood shingles during the winter months. Tip: A leaf blower or a pass with a pressure washer will clear them out and prep them for winter snow.

  1. Clean the Chimney

Ahhh, there’s nothing quite like the warming atmosphere of a wood-burning fireplace in the dead of winter. But once you’ve cozied up to your 70th fire, get that chimney inspected and cleaned of excess creosote, because it may cause chimney fires. Tip: Run the point of a fire poker inside the chimney liner and if there’s more than three millimetres of gunk, call a certified chimney sweep.

  1. Store Pots & Planters

If you decide to keep your collection of colourful clay pots outside for winter, make sure you empty the soil before you do. The moisture in the earth will expand when frozen, which can crack those precious ceramic containers. Tip: Removing the soil now will make it easier to reposition and replant the pots come springtime.

  1. Mind in the Gutter

Backed up gutters can cause all sorts of wintertime hassles such as roof leaks, ice dams and wall-focused water damage. Before the snow comes, get your gutters cleared out by a professional — leave ladders to the insured experts. Tip: Make sure all downspout extensions run at least 1.5 metres away from your home’s foundations.

  1. Caulked & Ready

A thin line of silicone caulking is one of the best ways to seal gaps in siding, windows and door frames. If you can see a gap that’s bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to get on it, to stop drafts and water damage in their tracks. Tip: Pick up some weather stripping for doors as well — you shouldn’t be able to see daylight from inside your home.

  1. Inspect the Roof

Pull out a pair of binoculars and give your roof a careful once-over. Keep your eyes peeled for damage or missing or loose shingles. Hire a handyman for patching jobs, or a roofing company for larger sections in need of some TLC before winter comes. Tip: Take time to investigate the flashing around chimneys and vent stacks, too.

  1. A/C Prep

While it may be tempting to wrap your entire external air-conditioning unit in miles of plastic wrap, resist the urge. Doing this can cause corrosion and is an inviting spot for nesting rodents. Instead, place a piece of made-to-measure plywood over the unit during winter and protect it from large, falling icicles and snowdrifts.

  1. Heating Up

Don’t wait until the thermometer dips below zero to think about your home’s heating system; prep now and be ready. A technician can inspect, test and clean your furnace or heat pump to ensure they’re in tip-top shape for winter. Tip: Ask for a carbon monoxide measurement at the same time as the inspection.

  1. Flip it and Reverse it

If your home is kitted out with ceiling fans, check the settings for a reverse option. Running fans in the opposite direction creates an updraft, pushing down heated air, which can help reduce your energy bill. Tip: If you have high ceilings, consider switching out the fan units for ones that have this setting.

Before the temperature drops too much, make sure your home is ready to handle the cold, wet winter months. A little prep work and elbow grease now will go a long way to help your home weather the coming storms — literally.

5 Ways to Make Your Move Easier on Your Pet

Moving can be a stressful process, especially for pets who don’t understand what’s happening. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help reduce your pet’s stress and anxiety during a move.

Keep track of important items.
Designate a specific box for your pet’s food, medicine, grooming essentials, toys, litter, and anything else they will need before you finish relocating and get the new house unpacked.

Vet records.
If you’re planning to change veterinarians when you move, be sure to obtain a copy of your pet’s medical records.

Minimize their exposure.
Packing and moving your belongings can be very stressful for your pet. Keep them in the other room or ask a family member to take your pet for a few days while the move is in full swing.

Don’t rush them.
It may take your pet a while to adjust to their new home. Make the transition easier by placing their bed, blankets, toys, and food in one room. Let them become accustomed to that room before you gradually introduce them to other rooms in the house.

Update your contact information.
Update your pet’s tags and microchip with your new address and contact information as soon as possible. That way, should they get lost, you’ll be easy to find again.

4 Tips to Help Sell Your Home Faster

If your goal is sell your home faster, renovations can help move the needle. Buyers are attracted to a space that feels new and modern, so even small upgrades can go a long way – especially if it’s been decades since the last home update.

If you plan to put your house on the market, consider making these small but impactful updates before you list.

Fresh paint: A fresh coat of paint, both inside and outside the home, can brighten up the space and make it feel new again. Avoid dark paint as it can make the home feel smaller. Instead, opt for a neutral colour. It shows nicely and allows potential buyers to better picture their own furniture and style imprint in the space.

Kitchen facelift: Upgrading the appliances, countertops, cabinets and floors can help make your home feel new. Sticking to a budget? Consider updating existing cabinetry with a fresh coat of paint. Alternatively, if you’re looking to splurge on something that will give you a good return on your investment, upgrade to modern appliances.

Open concept: This is a huge trend in new homes, and many older homes have too many walls. Find where an open-concept floor plan makes sense and if possible, tear down a wall or two to open up the area. Blending the family room and kitchen is a great option, especially for prospective homebuyers who love to entertain.

Smart technology: Installing smart technology can be a huge selling point for potential buyers, as it helps with maintenance and security. Consider installing smart lights, thermostat, security cameras or a doorbell.

These small changes can go a long way in terms of sprucing up your home to attract buyers. It could even lead to significant gains – so now that you’re a renovation pro, you can buy yourself a fixer upper!

How to Meet Your New Neighbours

Moving into a new home is a lot of work. There’s furniture to move, boxes to unpack, utilities and services to turn on, and on top of all that, you have new neighbours to meet. But even with all the work going on, getting to know your neighbours doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are three easy ways to reach out to your new neighbours.

1. Seize the moment!
The longer you put off meeting your neighbours, the more awkward things will be. Take a break after unloading your moving truck and before unpacking your boxes to introduce yourself.

2. Ask them some questions.
When you knock on your neighbour’s door, what do you say? Aside from explaining that you just moved in and wanted to introduce yourself, consider asking a bit about the neighbourhood. If you’ve relocated into the area, you can ask about the city or even the state. What nearby comedy clubs or theaters do they recommend? Is there a DMV nearby? What restaurants deliver to your neighbourhood?

3. Host a housewarming party.
If you’re new to the neighbourhood but have ties in the general area, consider hosting a housewarming party. You can invite your friends and family as well as your new neighbours. It will be a great excuse to knock on their door. And when they show up, you can start building new friendships with them.

Before you meet your new neighbours, you have to find your new home. If you or someone you know is looking to make a move, let us know! We can answer questions about the area and help you find your family’s perfect fit!

Style your home like a designer; Know these dos & don’ts

Home decorating is very subjective, but there are a few golden rules you can follow to ensure that “wow, love it” reaction from your guests. These dos and don’ts will be useful to you no matter what your style preference is.

• Do hang mirrors as they make a small space look larger. Hang them near the entryway, above the sofa, or at the end of a hallway. Allow natural light to fall and bounce off them to increase the sense of space.

• Do use oversized pillows and big, one-of-a-kind art pieces to decorate rooms. A large indoor plant will add life and drama to your room.

• Do play with texture and contrasts. Balance hard surfaces with soft elements, shiny surfaces with matte textures and materials, and period furniture within a modern room.

• Don’t ignore the length of your curtains. Make sure your curtains are long enough to just graze the floor.

• Don’t use rugs that are too small for the room. Make sure the rug’s edges extend under the furniture by just a few centimetres.

• Don’t shy away from using dramatic colours, even if your space is small. When bold, rich colours are used in a pass-through area – like a foyer or one living room wall – it accents and brightens the space making it look larger.

Today’s top home design and décor trends are rich woods, browns, oranges, pinks and other saturated colours, polished surfaces, dark kitchen counters and luxurious décor. Whether it’s a detached home or a condo, the last decade saw Canadian designers moving toward more restrained and minimalistic styles. However, this year, there’s a return to the “big, bold, and dramatic.”

“There’s a shift from utilitarian furniture to bold and artistic pieces. The most interesting spaces are those that tell a story about the homeowner with confidence and creativity. Handcrafted and truly one-of-a-kind pieces have an added value which is why I see designing with authenticity, creativity and unique pieces a big trend for 2019,” says Lindsay Agnew, a top home designer.

Best Places to Live: Canada Liveability Report

Canadians love where they live; RE/MAX Report explores some of the best places to live in Canada

  • 89 per cent of Canadians would recommend their neighbourhoods to others
  • Major Canadian cities are a beacon for liveability

Canadians genuinely celebrate the liveability factors — the qualities that give each homeowner the true satisfaction of his/her home within the context of a neighbourhood — when it comes to choosing a property to buy and live in. In fact, 89 per cent of Canadians would recommend their neighbourhood to others according to a recent RE/MAX survey conducted by Leger.

The latest RE/MAX report examined a variety of quality of life factors and how they impact Canadians’ home-buying decisions.

 “Housing is often a contentious topic in Canada, with affordability and inventory being persistent problems from coast to coast,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “However, when buyers are looking for a home, the search begins at the neighbourhood level. And the good news is that Canadians have lots of choice when it comes to ‘liveable’ cities and neighbourhoods.” 

Six-in-10 Canadians put easy access to shopping, dining and green spaces at the top of their liveability criteria. Proximity to public transit (36 per cent), work (30 per cent) and to preferred schools (18 per cent), as well as cultural and community centres (18 per cent) fall out of the top five neighbourhood wants and expectations.

The proximity and availability of these liveability factors is so important that Canadians spend more than two-thirds of their time in their own neighbourhood. This rate is higher among Baby Boomers compared to Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X Canadians.

 “While price and value are always top of mind for buyers, there are some aspects about a home that you can’t change,” says Alexander. “These liveability factors are what make your home more than just the place you live. They are at the heart of the Canadian experience, especially when you consider the survey results.” 

RE/MAX brokers were also asked to tap into their neighbourhood expertise and rate their city on each liveability factor.

 

Best Places To Live Liveability Report chart

In the west, Calgary ranked high in seven out of 11 categories, including offering good access to employment opportunities, population growth, housing supply, housing affordability and easy access to bike lanes and/or walking paths. Confederation and Nose Hill Park are two of the most popular parks in the city and the Rotary Mattamy Greenway is the cycling equivalent to the ring road. Inglewood, Hillhurst and Charleswood rank as the top three all-around liveable neighbourhoods. Edmonton also ranked high in access to employment opportunities, number of top rated/preferred schools and easy access to bike lanes and/or walking paths.

 “Despite reports of slowing economic conditions and a relatively flat real estate market in Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton shine as beacons of liveability,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “This is a promising sign for any buyers considering a purchase in either city as they continue to develop as liveable cities in their own right.” 

Toronto ranked medium for access to green spaces and parks but high for availability of big and small retail stores, population growth and access to healthcare facilities. The neighbourhoods that rated highest for access to green space and parks – Rosedale, Leaside and The Beaches – are also the most expensive. Conversely, Toronto’s most affordable neighbourhoods include parts of Scarborough and East York.

Vancouver ranked medium for availability of big and small retail stores, population growth and housing supply. However, it ranked high in availability of public transit, where the Skytrain and bus system prove exceptional; and walkability, especially in Yaletown. Main, West End and Kerrisdale are the top three all-around liveable neighbourhoods in Vancouver while Mount Pleasant, Downtown and Renfrew-Collingwood are the most affordable.

Other regions include Ottawa, where The Glebe neighbourhood is the best for walkability and public transit; Halifax, where Clayton park boasted high inventory; Hamilton, where Beasley was best for affordability; Winnipeg, where Transcona is a hidden gem neighbourhood; Saskatoon, where Nutana is the all-around best neighbourhood for liveability; and Nanaimo, where Central Nanaimo is best for affordability.

 “Liveability encompasses the many intangibles when buying and selling a home that an algorithm will never sufficiently capture. You need word of mouth and the on-the-ground expertise of a REALTOR® who has genuine local knowledge like few others,” adds Ash. 

Key findings from the 2019 RE/MAX Liveability Report Survey

Best Place To Live Liveability Report infographic

5 First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid

Congratulations! You’ve decided to buy a house!

Buying a house is fun and exciting, but it also requires a lot of responsibility. Most rookies in the housing market make the same mistakes for you to learn from. Here are 5 first-time home buyer mistakes to avoid.

First-time Home Buyer Mistakes

Let’s talk about rookie mistakes. We all get nervous when the rookie quarterback gets put in the game. Mistakes are bound to happen.

The same thing can happen when buying a home for the first time. This list will help you avoid any frustrating mishaps or setback.

We want your first home buying experience to be a positive one, so listen up.

1. Know Before You Go

One of the biggest mistakes when buying a home is not knowing what you can afford.

What you can afford and what the bank says you can afford are not always the same thing.

Make a budget of all your monthly expenses. Don’t forget car payments, loan payments, groceries, spending, and savings.

Also, add any yearly expenses such as vacations or insurance premiums. You want to have enough to cover these bigger expenses when they come up.

From there you can figure out how much you can spend on your mortgage payment each month. When calculating, use a mortgage calculator to give you an estimate of what your mortgage will be with the current interest rate.

Once you know how much you can afford, you can spend your time looking at houses within your budget. This will give you a realistic idea of the kind of house you can buy.

2. Get Pre-Approved

Seller’s are always more willing to work with buyers who have been pre-approved.

If you have poor credit or irregular income it can be hard to get banks to work with you. Make sure you have a lender ready to go before you make an offer on a house.

Being pre-approved is often based on loan to debt ratio. This means they will look at all your current debt. Once you are pre-approved, it’s important to try to keep your debt low. This means you shouldn’t go buy a car, stack up a lot of credit card debt, or switch jobs while you are in the process of buying a home.

This could cause the deal to fall apart at the last second causing you to forfeit any deposit or earnest money you have paid. You’ll also waste the seller’s time, the agent’s time, and your time.

3. Ownership is Not Cheap

I hate to burst your bubble, but owning a home often has additional expenses that come with the cost of ownership.

Did you know that the process of buying a house is expensive? The buyer is responsible for the closing costs, appraisal fees, and escrow fees.

You’ll be responsible for homeowners and property insurance, paying property taxes, utilities, and making repairs that the house needs. Furnace goes out? That’s your expense. Need new sprinklers? Be ready to channel your inner DIY landscaper.

Be prepared.

4. Don’t Be a Picky Penny

We get it, you have goals, visions, and dreams when it comes to your new home. Unless you have won the lottery though, you’ll need to be realistic when it comes to buying a home in your budget.

This means you may not get the newest and trendiest kitchen or the intricate finish work in the family room.

First time home buyers often need to compromise. What is more important to you? A secluded location or a third bedroom?

It’s good to know what you want, but you also need to have priorities. What are the three things most important on your list? Decide what are must haves and be willing to let the rest go.

Remember, you can change paint, countertops, and carpet over time. Adding an extra bathroom, or getting a bigger yard, are a lot harder to change if those are important to you.

5. Hire a Helping Hand

It can be tempting to try to buy a home on your own. How hard can it be to find a house you like and make an offer?

Once you are shopping for a home, it’s best to find an experienced Realtor who can walk you through the process. We can help you find lenders, get prequalified, and negotiate the price in your favour.

We can save you from making any rookie mistakes. Having a realtor on your team will save your time and money.

Start Adulting

Buying a home is an exciting time. Nothing makes you feel like a real adult more than having a mortgage. Knowing some first-time homebuyer mistakes and how to avoid them helps you feel more confident and sure about the process.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need a reliable teammate. We’re here to help you avoid these first-time homebuyer mistakes!