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!

Hiring a Real Estate Agent in Toronto: How to Choose the Right One

Hiring a Real Estate Professional is more important than you may think.

The right agent can be the difference between getting your asking price and walking away leaving money on the table or paying full price for a nine-month-old listing instead of negotiating with a motivated Seller.

Not all Real Estate Agents are created equal. Learn to select the best one for you, read on.

Do Market Research

Before you begin interviewing Real Estate Agents, you should take the time to get your bearings on the local housing market. Drive around your neighbourhood and consider the names on the for sale signs you see. Make note of the ones that say “Sold”, in particular.

Find a high-quality agent by popping into an open house if you are a Seller. This can be a great way to see how other home Sellers are pricing and staging their homes.

For Buyers, going into an open house is a great way to find out about the personality and professionalism of a Real Estate Agent.

Research Your Real Estate Agent

Before you hire an agent, search them online. Look for any ratings, reviews, or references you can find about them. This person is a public figure in the community, so if there is little to no information available on their real estate activity, then this could be a red flag.

Read and find out what people in your area are saying about various agents, but more importantly, take a look at how the agents respond to their disgruntled clients.

An agent that is professional and cares about their business will take the time to address any negative reviews in a helpful and patient manner.

Interview Real Estate Agents

Walking into an open house and liking the Real Estate Agent is nice, but if you want to be sure you have the best agent for your situation, you should interview multiple agents and ask them for referrals.

A good number of agents to meet with is three. You don’t want to settle for the first agent, but you also don’t want to waste your time with a bunch of interviews. Compare the responses the agents give to the following questions.

Questions to ask:

  • Have you been in real estate long?
  • Is most of your experience in buying or selling?
  • How many clients do you carry at a time?
  • Do you function as part of a Real Estate Team?
  • What kind of real estate do you specialize in?
  • Are you equipped to handle short sales or the purchase of foreclosures?
  • What tactics will you use to market my home?

Set Your Expectations

Real Estate Agents are very busy people who are constantly on the go. They have to handle appointments for showings, update listings, stage homes, be present for inspections, handle closings, and much more.

But that doesn’t mean that they are off the hook when it comes to handling your sale or purchase. Your Real Estate Agent needs to be available to you and take the time to listen to your insights throughout the process to ensure you find the home of your dreams or sell your home for the best price.

Communication Preferences

As mentioned, agents are very busy. That means it’s very important for you to agree on when and how you will speak to your agent. Get on the same page from the start so you won’t be frustrated later in the process.

Motivations

Make sure that your real estate agent understands your motivations to buy or sell. If you are on some sort of timeline or desperately need a specific price for your home, then they need to know that information.

Strategies

Before you sign a contract with a Real Estate Agent, you should agree on the strategies that will be used to sell your home.

Will there be open houses? How many showings are you willing to have a week? How much time will you need notification in advance of a showing?

All these factors should be considered in detail.

Consider the Other Roles of the Real Estate Agent

Your Real Estate Agent is not just the person who lists your home or finds one for you to purchase. They can also help you with staging your home so that potential buyers have an easier time envisioning themselves in it.

That means that your Real Estate Agent should have an eye for interior design, or at least know the right person to hire to get the job done.

Your Real Estate Agent will also play a role in the inspection process of your home. Make sure you choose an agent that is trustworthy.

You want an agent who will be upfront with you about any potential problems you could have in the future. They should be willing to take the time and energy to find you a home that meets all of your needs.

Thinking of Hiring a Real Estate Agent?

Hiring a Real Estate Agent is a great way to speed up your home buying or selling process.

Are you ready to sell your home fast or purchase the home of your dreams for the best price? Contact us today!

How to Prepare for the Fall Real Estate Market

Real estate is sold 365 days a year; it’s the new norm!  Fall can be a great time to sell your home. Below are some of the best tips for selling a home during the fall.

Analyze the Market & Price Your Home Right

Analyze the current state of your local real estate market. Understanding the type of market your area is experiencing is important: Is your local market type a sellers’ market, a buyers’ market, or a balanced market. It’s important when it comes to pricing your home accordingly. If you don’t know ask your Real Estate Agent!

 

Perform Applicable Inspections & Cleanings

If you’re planning on selling your home in the fall, tackle the inspections and cleaning part prior to listing your home for sale.

 

Decorate & Embrace the Fall

The most exciting part about fall! If you decide to sell your home during the fall, there are many decorating tips, staging tips, and ways to embrace the fall season. Be tactful with your decorating and try to appeal to the masses!

 

Clean Up the Exterior

The least exciting part about fall…is raking leaves. Don’t neglect the exterior of your home. Tasks that should be completed when selling a home during the fall include:

Raking leaves

Removing loose sticks

Weeding flower beds

Trimming flowers, bushes, and shrubs

Aerating the lawn

 

Prepare Your Home for Showings

When selling in the fall, ensure your home smells good. Popular ways to make your home smell warm and cozy while selling in the fall include:

Brewing a fresh pot of pumpkin spice coffee

Boiling cinnamon sticks

Burning fall scented candles

 

Selling a home in the fall is not for everyone, however, these tips can help expedite the sale of your home and maximize the sale price!

5 Tips for Stress-Free Moving with Kids

When you finally decide to take a big leap and move, it can be one of the most exciting and stressful periods of your life. And if you’re a parent, double that excitement and stress based on the number of children you have.

There are just so many things to consider, especially if you are both buying and selling a home. From the exciting parts like deciding where you want to live and the house hunting, to the more mundane parts like signing contracts and dealing with lawyers about land transfer taxes, it’s really a mixed bag of emotions.

Here are five tips on how you can make your move an easy and relatively carefree and –dare I say– even fun!–experience for your whole family.

  1. Declutter, declutter, declutter

Long before you ever decide to put your home on the market, it’s critical that you first declutter your entire home. When you are selling, it’s important that you showcase your home as beautifully as possible and typically, having minimal items on display will help do just that. When we live in our homes, especially if you have kids, “stuff” tends to pile up in every nook and cranny.

The thought of decluttering an entire house can feel daunting, so start small, with one room at a time

Tip: Take two garbage bags and one large box into the room. Label one bag “Donation” and the other bag “garbage.” In the box, place items you want to keep but don’t necessarily need out for everyday life (think stuffies or old school projects).

  1. Hire a cleaning company

I can remember one of my first stressors when we decided to move was the thought of having to clean our home. While I would never say that our home was grossly dirty, it has never had a good, deep cleaning in the four years we’ve lived here. And with five people living here, you can image how the dirt has piled up. I’m talking all the neglected areas like baseboards, light fixtures and blinds – the areas I just never have had time to clean but knew dirt had been accumulating.

Hiring in a professional cleaning service was one of the best decisions we made during this process. They came in with a crew of four people and spent almost five hours cleaning our 2,500-square-foot home. Every nook and cranny was wiped, dusted, shined and left squeaky clean!

Tip: If you have carpet in your home, it’s a good idea to have the carpets cleaned before listing your home, too. Especially if you have kids or pets, the carpets are bound to get dirty. In our case, we had some unfortunate makeup spills, including a dark red nail polish on our almost-white carpets! Having a professional come into the space and give the carpets the deepest clean not only freshened things up, it also brightened the overall look.

Bonus tip: Along with cleaning, if you can hire a painter to give your walls a fresh coat of paint, especially in high-traffic areas like the foyer, kitchen and kids’ rooms, it will help the space feel fresh and clean!

  1. Stage your home

One of the lessons I’ve learned through the process of selling our home is: not everyone will care for the décor I’ve chosen for each room.

Removing personal items such as family pictures and expensive pieces of artwork or collections is a good idea so the focus remains on the home and not the stuff you’ve put into it.

Tip: Working with a home stager could help breathe new life into the space before listing your home. Especially in hallways or transitional spaces, stagers can add in or suggest items that might help make the space flow a bit better.

Bonus tip: When you have showings booked for your home, make sure to turn on all the table and floor lamps. This helps give a warm and inviting touch to the space while allowing ample light to showcase the room.

  1. Hire a Realtor

One of the best decisions we made throughout this process of buying and selling was to hire a Realtor. As a busy, working mom of three young kids, I couldn’t imagine going through this process without a professional’s help. For many of the above tips I’ve given, like hiring a cleaning company or painter, our Realtor had all of those services lined up for us, so we didn’t have to worry about finding and vetting different companies.

  1. Get the kids involved

At the end of the day, the process of buying and selling a home with kids doesn’t have to be stressful. Keeping your kids involved from asking them what they’d like in a new home, to getting them to help with the decluttering of their room, to rewarding them for keeping their spaces clean every day, it’s fun to watch your kids work together to make your home the best it can be during this time.

Tip: Give your kids incentives to help keep the home clean. Make it all about teamwork and empower them to be vital part of the process. Getting them involved not only teaches them responsibility but also helps lessen the burden of cleaning the entire home yourself.

Moving can be a stressful time in your life, as it’s one of the biggest transitions you can go through. But implementing these tips can really help reduce the stress of a move – especially one with kids – and help strengthen your family dynamic.

 

Written By: Christine Martin, Real Estate 101, Relator.ca

What Does The Change In The Market Mean For Sellers?

The recent changes being reported in the news can paint a negative picture, particularly for detached homes in the city. But the truth is that this market is very much alive and capable of fulfilling your real estate goals. It might just take a little bit of elbow grease!

Selling is no longer as simple as putting a sign on the lawn

This time last year, selling a home the same day it went on the market was far from unusual. But the market has changed, and we are in a much more balanced market than we saw in all of 2017. That doesn’t mean your home WON’T sell, but it may require that you stage it, hire a professionals cleaning company, declutter and plan for plenty of open houses.

Your home needs to be priced competitively

Let’s say you remember a sale that happened in your neighbourhood last summer, the house was similar to yours and sold for $250,000 above asking, so logically, you could price your home at the asking price plus $250,000 and it might even sell for more (inflation!), but the hard truth is that your home is priced based on the most recent sales. If there hasn’t been much activity in your community then it may be time to test the market. The most important thing to do when testing the market is to react quickly to a price change. A good thing to consider is how much traffic your agent anticipated? If they expected much more than you have been seeing, that is a clear indication that it is time to reassess the asking price.

You may need to make some upgrades before you list

The truth is in this market, to get the money you’re looking for, it may be worth your while to consider some upgrades. Big ticket items such as kitchens and bathrooms can be a great way to increase the bottom line on your home. If such a big undertaking isn’t something you’re ready for, redoing trim work or painting and changing light fixtures is a great way to add some appeal on a budget! Whether you’re planning a big or small renovation, the first thing on your list of to-dos should be to address any issues that could come up during a home inspection. Your potential sale could depend on it!

Choose the right agent who will do the necessary work to market your property effectively!

There are a lot of things to think about when selling your home, choosing the right agent is one of them! While their sales history, list of services provided and list of contacts are crucial aspects of your decision to hire an agent, it is also important to find out how they plan to market your home. According to a 2017 study by the National Association of Realtors, 44% of people start their search for their next home online. It is important that your agent has a strong online presence, and that they will be sharing your property with their vast audience, as well as advertising throughout the community and neighbourhood. Choosing the right agent can make the sale either a breeze or a nightmare. Choose wisely!