6 Hidden Expenses Buyers Often Forget About When Purchasing a House

Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you will make in your lifetime and a lot goes into the planning and finances of purchasing a home, especially if it is your first home. From a down-payment, to repairs & maintenance, to purchasing furniture and appliances, there are hidden expenses that one might not think of when in the home-buying process.

We reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers – a panel of RE/MAX sales associates throughout Canada- to narrow down a list of the top six expenses that buyers often forget about when purchasing a home.

Property/Land Transfer Tax

The Property Transfer Tax (PTT) or Land Transfer Tax (LTT) is one hefty expense that our RE/MAX Influencers agree is often unaccounted for in advance of the purchase. All provinces except for Alberta and Saskatchewan have this tax, which differs between provinces. In BC, for example, when a buyer purchases or gains an interest in property that is registered at the Land Title Office, they are responsible for paying PTT and filing a property transfer tax form. Meanwhile in Toronto, home buyers must pay both a provincial and municipal LTT. BC, Ontario and Toronto, as well as Prince Edward Island, all offer rebates to first-time buyers to help offset the cost.

Property Tax

“At the time of purchase, the [property] tax owing by the seller has normally been accounted for with the clients, but not that it’s going to be due. If someone takes possession in October, they will pay the seller back for November and October, but then only have 6 months to save up 12 months worth of tax before it’s due. There is not enough discussion with buyers on this and given that they are normally ‘tapped out’ after the down payment and closing costs, it can be an unexpected bill if they haven’t owned a home before,” says Taylor Hack, RE/MAX River City, Edmonton, AB.

Insurance

While home, fire and content insurance is usually an expense that is considered right away during the home buying process, there are other types of insurance that can be overlooked. These can include things like title insurance, life insurance and mortgage insurance can come as surprise unexpected costs. When planning and going through the numbers associated with purchasing a home, make sure you take all types of insurance into account.

Home Inspection

One important thing that every homebuyer should have done is a home inspection on the property they are planning on purchasing. While some sellers may opt to have a pre-inspection done, it is always a good idea to have a home inspector look at the home to ensure that there are no issues with the land or structure of the home. The cost of a home inspection can often be overlooked, so it is important to remember to allocate a portion of your budget towards a home inspector when the time comes to purchase your home!

GST/HST

While sales tax is generally only applicable to newly constructed houses and condos, as well as services related to the real estate transaction (such as agents’ commissions and legal fees) this cost is often overlooked – especially by first-time homebuyers. If you are looking at purchasing a new construction property, make sure you ask about the sales tax payable, and take the time to calculate it so you can budget for this amount.

Legal Fees

Another expense that is often forgotten during the whirlwind process of purchasing a home is that of lawyer fees. The exact amount varies depending on the purchase price of the home and differs based on the lawyer/notary. The legal expenses also often include ordering a title search and registering title.

“If we do not educate homebuyers, they usually don’t know about lawyer fees or sometimes have a skewed number of what the average lawyer costs,” says Sarah Koeckhoven, RE/MAX Preferred Choice, Spruce Grove, AB.

When estimating the cost of buying a home, don’t forget to include legal fees in the total list of main costs that need to be considered.

For more advice on buying a property, contact us today!

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Top Things to Help Your Home Stand Out in a Competitive Market

When it comes to selling your home, especially in a competitive market, making sure your home stands out is essential. In markets that are fast paced, houses come and go constantly, so standing out to prospective buyers is incredibly important. There are dozens of different ways you can make your home stand out in a competitive market, so it can sometimes be hard to know where to start.

We’ve reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers – a panel of RE/MAX Sales Associates throughout Canada – to narrow down a list of five things that can help your home stand out in a competitive market.

Paint & Repairs

A fresh coat of paint can work wonders when it comes to standing out in a competitive market. Painting your home a light, neutral color will help potential buyers to visualize themselves living and making changes to the home.

“Make sure walls and doors are clean and freshly painted. Any carpet or damaged flooring should be replaced. Help the buyers visualize themselves living there as opposed to all the money they would need to spend to be comfortable. In the end, not doing these things will take away from a seller’s best sale price” – Kelley Law, RE/MAX All Points Realty, Coquitlam, BC.

A fresh, neutral colour palette will help make your home seem move-in ready. Lighter colours help to brighten up spaces and make rooms seem bigger, which can be a huge asset when it comes to showing the home — especially a home with a small footprint.

Cleaning & De-Cluttering

One of the most important things that you can do to help your home stand out in a competitive market is to de-clutter and have it professionally cleaned. When a potential buyer walks into your home, they want to be able to envision themselves living in the space. Having clutter built up and visible to buyers can hinder their viewing and can make it harder for buyers to imagine their items in the space. “Live minimally, so when you get that last minute showing, a quick vacuum and wipe-down is all you need!” says Shilo Storey, RE/MAX First, Calgary, AB.

Try to tuck away as many personal items as possible to allow buyers to walk through your home as a neutral environment, not one littered with family photos and personal items. The cleaner and more pared down your home is, the better — particularly when it comes to showing potential buyers!

“Keeping the home looking sharp (pride of ownership) indicates long-term care and attention to looks and mechanical. Home appearance is a good indication the owner has looked after problems in a timely manner” – Michael Ray, RE/MAX Crest Realty (Burnaby Kingsway), Burnaby, BC.

Staging & Photography

Staging and photography go hand-in-hand when it comes to selling your home. Having professional photos taken to showcase your property can help attract potential buyers to your listing, and proper staging can help to impress those buyers if they choose to walk through your property.

“Professional presentation of the home, with staging, will set the bar high for online showcasing of the home, marketing materials, etc, to get people into the home” – Rob Grey, RE/MAX Nanaimo, Nanaimo, BC.

Staging your home will allow buyers to see how furniture fits in the space and can help potential buyers visualize living in the home themselves. Having professional photos taken after staging can help set the stage for online viewings and will help attract people to your listing.

Curb Appeal

First impressions are very important and can have a huge impact on your listing if you are trying to stand out in a fast paced, competitive market. The curb appeal of your home is going to be a potential buyer’s first impression, therefore it needs to make an impact! Make sure the grass is cut, weeds are pulled, and any other items, such as bikes or toys, are tucked away out of sight. If you are trying to sell your home in the winter, make sure you have a recent summertime photo of the exterior of your home to help potential buyers visualize what the home looks like year-round.

“The first impression is paramount, so walking to the front door should make you want to go inside and find out more” – Francine Legault, RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty, Comox, BC.

Price

Finally, when it comes to standing out in a competitive market, price is one of the most important factors to consider. In a fast-paced market, pricing is key to a quick sale. If your house is priced too high, it may be overlooked by potential buyers which will result in your listing sitting in the market with no offers coming in. If your house is priced too low, you may receive many offers, however you won’t get the right price for the value of your home.

“In a buyers’ market, it is important to set yourself apart from the competition. Pricing is critical as overpriced homes in the market will not attract showings or offers and will sit on the market,” says Matthew McBean, RE/MAX First, Calgary, AB.

When determining what price you should list your home, make sure to do your research. Look at comparable homes in your area to ensure you’re entering the market with an appropriate listing price.

For more advice on selling a property, contact us today!

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Listing Your Condo on Airbnb? Consider These Issues First

Condo owners have been quick to adapt to the Airbnb trend. With the price of condos on a steady increase, investing in and then renting out a unit as a short-term rental to cover mortgage payments is an attractive proposition. But, a condo unit used as anAirbnb does present a few problems for the investor-owner.

Some local councils have tightened regulations for short-term rentals that only allow you to rent out the property if it is your primary residence. Other restrictions include imposing taxation, certification and limits on how frequently you can rent out the space. Short-term rentals are further regulated within the frame-work of the condo rules, individual condo boards have guidelines or even outright bans for owners and tenants in their buildings.

“Airbnb short-term rentals face a higher level of scrutiny by lenders than typical one-year lease agreement renters,” says Laura Martin, director of Private Lending Hub. “The asset could become damaged, given the revolving door of short-term tenants. One quiet professional that rents for 10 days could be followed by a rock band that trashes the place the next weekend. When you
have so many people going in and out, it’s going to make lenders nervous,” she adds.

It’s easier to obtain a mortgage if you actually live in the condo, but if you’re buying one as a short-term rental investment, you may have to turn to commercial lenders, where financing is more expensive. Kim Gibbons, a Mortgage Intelligence broker, says that only a few A lenders – such as banks and credit unions – in Toronto are willing to provide funds for Airbnbs. The only way some lenders will take a short-term rental is if you can provide a two-
year average of short-term rental income.

“Lenders like the security of a person living in a home because it’s the best possible security,” explains Butler, an independent mortgage broker. “Lenders are confident that if someone is living in the home full time, then there is a really good chance that they’ll want to keep a roof over their heads, and that means they’ll make their mortgage payments. It’s why ‘owner-occupied’ is often part of the mortgage contract.”

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!