Online shopping is growing by an average of 20 million new shoppers each year. That's a lot of people clicking and buying! You may be one of them.
However, there's a cost to online shopping that's all too easy to overlook. Shipping fees. Imagine saving $10 on a luxury cookware set, only to be hit with a $15 delivery charge. Ouch.
So how do you avoid those fees?
First of all, always check the fine print on the checkout screen. Notice what the shipping cost (if any) will be before you click the final purchase button. Keep in mind that the base shipping fee shown may update — and become higher — once you've typed in your address.
Some e-tailers offer free delivery for orders over a certain threshold amount; for example, $50. If there's more you can add to an order to get the shipping fee waived, it may be worth it.
There are a few e-tailers, most notably Amazon, that offer yearly memberships where one of the benefits is free delivery on all orders. Those kinds of memberships may be worth checking out if you do a lot of online shopping with a particular company.
A final tip: Always check for multiple delivery options. Some e-tailers, list an express shipping charge as the default option on the check-out screen, but have a free standard delivery option if you choose it.
Takeaway: Shipping fees take the fun out of online shopping. Do what you can to reduce or eliminate them!
When you think about looking for a new home, one of the first questions that probably comes to mind is: "What type of property can I afford?" That's an important question because your price range is a major determining factor in the types and sizes of homes you should be viewing.
You don't want to waste time looking at properties that are beyond your price range. At the same time, you don't want to purchase a less-than-ideal home, only to realize later on that you could have afforded more.
So how do you determine what type of new home you are qualified to purchase?
The first step is to find out what your current property would likely sell for in today's market. I make that calculation for clients all the time. It involves reviewing what homes similar to yours have sold for recently, as well as other data — such as special features your home may have that are likely to boost the selling price.
Once you know the current market value of your home, subtract any outstanding mortgages and estimated selling expenses, and you’ll end up with an amount that can be applied to the purchase of your next home. (You may also have other funds you want to use.)
The next step is to talk to a lender or mortgage broker to see how much of a new mortgage you qualify for. (Call me if you need a recommendation.) It's important to get a Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval. That makes the offer you make on a new home more credible.
If you want to find out the types and sizes of homes you can get into, give me a call. I'd be happy to show you the possibilities!
Buying a new pair of shoes is relatively easy. Once you find the style you like, all you need to do is try them on and see if they fit. If they do, you go to the cash register and pay.
When it comes to size, buying a new home can be trickier! Whether your intention is to upsize or downsize, figuring out the right size can be especially challenging.
Say for example, you’re downsizing from a large two-story home to a smaller bungalow. You don’t want to underestimate the space you need and end up in a place that feels tight. If you’re going the other way and upsizing, you don’t want to end up sinking extra money into a property that’s larger than you really need.
So how do you avoid these scenarios?
One of the best ways is to start by considering your current home. Do you use all the rooms in your home regularly? Is there a bedroom that’s rarely occupied? Has the recreation room become simply a storage area? If you’re downsizing, subtracting rooms you scarcely use can give you a better idea of what you need in a new home.
Upsizing is a bit more challenging because you have to anticipate what you will need in the future. For example, if you have young children, and your place is feeling cramped, then a home with a recreation room or separate family and living rooms may be a good idea. You may also need a bigger kitchen with a spacious eating area (in addition to a separate dining room.) Think about the extra room you’ll need and how you’ll use that space.
When I work with a client, I typically sit down with them and discuss the type of home they want in detail — and, based on needs and circumstance, I make expert recommendations. Bottom line, I help clients find the perfect fit in a new home. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.
For some homeowners, the process of listing, showing and selling their home can be stressful. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to make it much less nerve-racking—and even exciting and enjoyable. Here are some ideas:
- Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to show your property, search for a new home, view listings, etc. Block out these times in an agenda book or calendar. That way, you and your family can see what’s coming up.
- Be flexible. Few things go exactly as planned! So, it’s important to build in flexibility. For example, you may plan to see homes for sale on Saturdays, but if an opportunity comes up on a weeknight, give yourself room in your schedule to jump on it.
- Eat well. There are numerous studies that connect poor nutrition with increased stress. When people are selling and moving, there’s a tendency to rely on quick fixes, such as hot dogs and pizza! Try to plan more nutritious meals that will keep everyone healthy and energized.
- Get stuff done early. Doing things last minute, such as finding a real estate lawyer or getting rid of clutter, can quickly lead to stress and frustration. Whenever possible, get tasks done early. That way, you won’t have to worry about them.
- Hire the right professionals. By far, the surest way to a stress-free move is to get the right professionals working for you: everyone from contractors to mortgage brokers to movers.
By the way, a big part of what I do for clients is help make every aspect of buying, selling and moving go smoothly. Contact me to learn how I can help you.
An Open House is an event. And, like many events, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and energy. In fact, when you visit an Open House, you might even end up rubbing elbows with other buyers who are there at the same time. It can feel like a party!
In an environment like that, it’s not unusual to forget to ask important questions about the property. Here are some of the most common:
- How old is the roof?
- How old is the furnace, air conditioner and other HVAC equipment?
- How does the price compare to similar properties in the neighbourhood? (You don’t want to make an offer that’s too high.)
- What are the characteristics of the neighbourhood? (Amenities, safety, traffic, access to public transit, property turnover, etc.)
- What doesn’t come with the home? (Ask specifically about kitchen appliances, gas-connected BBQs, chandeliers, window coverings.)
- Are there any potential impediments to the sale? (Tenants, outstanding liens, etc.)
- Are there any outstanding maintenance issues, or repairs that need to be done? (For example, cracked ceramics on the foyer floor.)
- Are there any issues that impact the full use of the property? (Ask specifically about shared driveways or walkways, public “right of way” through the property, water drainage rights from neighbouring homes, etc.)
Yes, an Open House can feel like a frenzy, and if it’s a home you love, you might feel pressured to make an offer. But, it’s important to take the time to ask the right questions and consider your decision carefully. You don’t want to find out, too late, that there were questions you should have asked.
Want more tips on finding the home of your dreams? Call today.
Watch any TV cooking show, and you’ll notice that a chef’s kitchen looks quite a bit different than what you’d find in most homes. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have one just like it in your home! With a little remodeling, and splurging on some new items, you too can have a kitchen worthy of Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, or Rachel Ray.
Chefs love counter space. So, when remodeling, plan to create as much as possible. If you have an existing island, for example, you can replace the countertop with a larger one. Just adding eight inches in both directions will make a big difference.
Most chefs have more than one oven. If that’s impractical for you, consider buying a double-oven stove. Also, chefs prefer gas burners for quicker heat-up times and exacting control of cooking temperature.
One thing you’ll notice about chefs is they love stainless steel.
That’s because it’s easy-to-clean, hygienic and durable (assuming you take care of it).
Finally, because chefs spend so much time in the kitchen, they want the space to be attractive and comfortable. So, when remodeling, keep decor
Even if you’re just an amateur chef, creating a chef-worthy kitchen will make the foodie in you smile.
Have you ever considered renting out a room to a student or renovating your basement into a self-contained rental apartment?
It’s a big decision. There are many pros and cons to consider.
On the pro side, renting can provide you with additional income. An extra few hundred dollars a month can go a long way towards paying down your mortgage or splurging on an exotic summer vacation.
Creating rentable living space in your home — for example, an “in-law suite” featuring a kitchenette and bathroom — may also increase your property’s market value.
On the con side, you’ll have more costs and responsibilities as a landlord. For example, you might need to purchase extra insurance because basic home insurance policies typically do not cover rental units, even if you’re just renting out a room. You’ll also be responsible for dealing with repairs sometimes in the middle of the night.
Also, if you’re not careful about the renter you choose, you might end up with a “problem tenant”. For example, you could have a tenant who is consistently late on rent payments or simply stops paying. That can be stressful.
If you’re deciding whether or not to rent, be sure to check local laws and regulations. Many jurisdictions have very strict rules regarding renting out space in a residential property, and those rules change frequently. Make sure you get the latest information.
Imagine there’s a neighbourhood you’d love to live in someday, but, every time you drive through, you rarely, if ever, see a For Sale sign. It’s as if homes get gobbled up by buyers the moment they get listed.
It’s true, properties do tend to sell quickly in desirable, in-demand neighbourhoods. Does that mean you’re destined to either hope for a lucky break or miss out on ever living there?
Fortunately, no. There are practical things you can do to increase your chances of getting into that neighbourhood.
Your first step is to find out the kind of new home you can afford. You want to get your financial ducks in a row so when a listing does come up in the area, you’re able to respond quickly. Find out the average price range of homes in the neighbourhood. Then, if necessary, talk to your lender or mortgage broker.
The second step is to get your current property ready for sale. You don’t necessary need to list it now, but you want to be in a position to do so quickly, if necessary. You may need to clean up and declutter, get repairs done, and spruce up your home in other ways.
The third step is to talk to me.
You see, listings in popular neighbourhoods often move fast. By the time you see them advertised on the internet, they may be gone. I can closely monitor listings in that area for you, so the moment one comes up that meets your criteria, you can be alerted. This greatly increases your chances of getting that home.
So if there is a dream neighbourhood you’d love to get into, give me a call.
Some people don’t give hallways much thought when painting and decorating. Instead, they focus on rooms.
The fact is, a great looking hallway can have the same, if not more, impact than the most eye-catching family room or bedroom, especially when you need to go through the hallway to get there!
Here are some painting tips that can bring a dull hallway to life:
- Paint the hallway the reverse of the rooms around it. If the rooms are dark, use light colours in the hall. If the rooms feature simple colours, consider being more dramatic in your choice of hallway paint.
- In a longer hallway, using two shades of the same colour on perpendicular walls can make the space seem less tunnel-like. (The darker shade goes on the shorter walls.)
- Darker colours can work well if the space is well-lit and there are few, if any, shadows cast.
- If you decide to paint the halls white, select an off-white or eggshell white. Avoid stark white as it will reflect light in a way that’s unpleasant.
One more tip: Pictures can go a long way in making a hallway look inviting, regardless of the wall colour.
Good luck with the painting!
There has been a lot of emphasis lately on the importance of “going green”. That simply means being environmentally-responsible. You likely already recycle, use energy-efficient lights, and turn down your thermostat when no one is home.
Yet, most of us don’t think about the garden or flower bed when we “think green”.
We should. Here are a few practical things you can do to tend to outdoor plants — without negatively impacting the environment.
- Pull weeds instead of using a weed killer.
- Avoid strong pesticides. (Products that target only one or two types of insects tend to be less harsh.)
- Don’t use flower bed ornaments (i.e. gnomes) that might bleed colour dye into the soil. (Ask your garden centre before you buy.)
- Be careful not to leave hand spades, trowels, and other garden tools lying around, especially over winter. They can rust, which contaminates the soil.
These tips may seem minor, but if you want to be environmentally-conscious, every little bit helps!
Imagine buying a product from a store, taking it home, and then discovering there’s a problem with it. Disappointing, yes, but not a catastrophe. You can simply take it back for repair or exchange.
But, what if it’s moving day, and you discover there’s a problem with your new home? Whoa. A house isn’t so easily returned!
What are the most common problems encountered on moving day?
- A delay in getting the keys.
- The seller not having completely moved out.
- An item expected to be included with the property is missing. (For example, the window blinds.)
- Something needs repair that was not disclosed by the seller, nor did it come up during inspection. (For example, the dishwasher not working.)
- Damage to the property caused by the seller. (For example, a heavy item dropped during the move and cracking a floor tile.)
Fortunately, these are rare events. In most cases, you can expect no serious issues when you move into your new home.
But, if something is wrong, you have options. So, call me immediately. In all likelihood, I will be able to quickly resolve the issue.
If it’s a serious matter, such as missing items, I may get your real estate lawyer involved to arrange for the return of the item(s) or compensation.
So don’t worry. Let the professionals handle it. You can just enjoy your new home!
Decorative moulding is one of the most eye-catching ways to upgrade a room. You’re probably accustomed to seeing standard baseboard moulding installed where your floor meets the wall. But, there are many other types. For example:
- Crown moulding for ceilings.
- Panel moulding for a southern colonial look.
- Chair rail moulding, which is very distinctive on walls.
- Apron moulding for window sills.
- Entablature moulding for above doorways.
Decorative moulding comes in a dizzying array of styles. Interior designers recommend taking home samples, just as you would take paint swatches, to test out ideas.
In addition to style choices, you also need to select the material you prefer. Moulding can be made of wood, plaster, laminate, composite, fiberboard, vinyl and other materials. There are pros and cons to each. Generally, the higher-priced options are more attractive and durable. (If you select wood, you typically have the additional option of “finished or unfinished”. If you choose unfinished, you of course, will be painting it yourself.)
Choosing the right moulding for the look you want is the toughest part of the job. Installation is a lot easier and most people with DIY experience have no problems.
So if you want to add some magic to your walls, consider decorative moulding. It can turn a room from standard to stunning.
When you list your home for sale, you want as many buyers as possible to find out about it. So consider how many friends, neighbours and work colleagues you have. Then think about how many people they know.
The number is likely in the hundreds. One of those people could be looking for a property just like yours.
That’s why getting your friends to spread the word about your listing is so effective. How do you do that?
One strategy is to have a moving party. This gives you an opportunity to ask your friends, as a group, to tell others about your listing.
You can also encourage your friends to bring a guest who is currently in the market for a new home.
Another good idea is to put a profile of your listing on Facebook. This is the fastest and most convenient way for your Facebook friends to point others to your listing.
Do you have friends who work at larger organizations like banks and factories? They probably have access to an employee lunch room with a bulletin board. You can spread the word by asking them to put up an information sheet on your listing.
Try one or more of these ideas. Combined with my marketing plan for you, they can help get more qualified buyers to your doorstep.
Want more tips on promoting your listing? Call today.
When you’re preparing your home for sale, it’s not unusual to need to fix up a few things around the property. After all, you want your home to look its best to buyers, so that you get good offers, quickly.
What do you need to fix? Here are three categories that will help you create and prioritize your list.
1. Anything that squeaks or creaks.
Is there something in your home that makes a noise it shouldn’t be making? Perhaps it’s a rattling closet door or a creaking floor board? You may be so used to it you no longer notice the sound. But buyers will. Be sure to get those items fixed.
2. Anything that’s unsightly.
You don’t have to make your home look perfect. However, things that are unsightly will likely get buyers’ attention. You want them to focus on the terrific features of your property, not the scuff on the wall.
Take a walk through your property, including the yard. Pretend you’re the buyer. Do you notice anything that doesn’t look good? If so, tidy it up, fix it up or replace it.
3. Anything that’s broken.
If there’s anything that needs repair — an outside tap that’s not working, or a sliding door that regularly careens off its runner — call the contractor or fix it yourself.
Getting these items fixed will go a long way toward making your home appealing to buyers.
Want more tips on preparing your home for sale? Call today.
If you’re paying a lot of money for a new washing machine, wouldn’t it be nice to know how long you should expect it to last? There is, of course, no exact formula for figuring that out. Every brand and unit is different. There are however, some broad estimates.
According to an article in Consumer Reports, a washer and dryer will hum along just fine for about 10 years, with a likelihood of needing a repair during the last two to three. Leading brands offer a parts and labour guarantee for at least a year. So, if something goes wrong during that period, be sure to contact the manufacturer right away.
The National Association of Home Builders released a report a few years ago on the longevity of kitchen appliances. They found that refrigerators can last up to 13 years under normal use. Dishwashers and ovens will start to show their age after nine years. The worst record is for trash compactors, with a life expectancy of only six years before repairs or replacement is required.
Microwave ovens last an average of nine years. However, the door seal should be checked often. Otherwise, the unit will quickly lose efficiency. (You’ll notice this when your food doesn’t heat up as quickly and evenly.)
All experts agree that the best way to keep home appliances functioning properly is to follow manufacturer’s instructions for use and maintenance. If you’ve lost your user’s manual, you can download a new one (which may contain important updates) from the manufacturer’s website.
Imagine finding a home you love, making an offer, and then finding out there are other competing offers on the table. Ouch.
If you’re looking for a property in a competitive market, it is likely that there will be multiple offers. Even just one can create the risk that you’ll lose the home. So how do you make sure your offer is enticing enough to win over the seller? Here are some ideas:
- Don’t make a low-ball offer. If you do, it might be dismissed and you probably won’t get another chance to bid — especially if the other competing offers are near the listing price.
- Have a pre-arranged mortgage and include that with your offer. This reassures the seller there won’t be any money issues. (Most lenders will provide you with a pre-arranged mortgage certificate for this purpose.)
- Go in with a price high enough that the seller will be interested, but not so high as to be leaving money on the table. This is tricky and requires a savvy knowledge of the current market.
- Have a REALTOR® present the offer on your behalf. A REALTOR® will know how to do so professionally, and in a manner that gives you the best chance of getting the home.
In a competitive situation, working with a REALTOR® who is an expert on the local market — and a skilled negotiator — is crucial.
Looking for a REALTOR® like that? Call today.
In almost every movie featuring a house on fire, the actors seem to be able to move around the house and see just fine, while beating back flames with a shirt or coat. Of course, that’s not what happens in real fires.
When there’s fire in a home, there is typically complete darkness (because the power goes out) and a cloud of spreading thick, black smoke makes it difficult to see and breathe.
That’s why knowing how to get out of your house — fast — is crucial.
Experts recommend rehearsing what to do in case there’s a fire. Make sure everyone in the family has an exit plan. Each should know exactly how to get out, including primary and secondary exits, and where the family will meet once safely outside.
Never attempt to take anything with you. It may seem like you have plenty of time to grab a coat or purse, but the characteristics of a fire can change in seconds.
As a failsafe, in case you can’t exit through a door, you should determine in advance which window has the safest exit. Make sure that the window opens easily and everyone knows how to remove the screen or any other obstruction.
Finally, don’t call the fire department from inside your house. Get out first, then make the call.
Property Surveyors, sometimes referred to as land Surveyors, play a vital role in the real estate world. They are the professionals who determine or confirm the exact boundaries of a property.
Will you need to deal with a Property Surveyor when selling your home?
Sometimes the mortgage lender will ask for a land survey, especially if your property is older and hasn’t changed hands in many years. You might also be asked for one by the buyer if there is any confusion about the size and boundaries of your property – or if significant changes have been made to it in recent years.
This is nothing to be concerned about.
A qualified Property Surveyor will do the appropriate inspection and measurements on your property and issue you the survey. (It looks a little like a blueprint.)
Property Surveyors are highly trained and licensed. In the United States, the profession is represented by the National Society of Professional Surveyors, with each state having its own governing body. In Canada, Professional Surveyors Canada (PSC) represents the profession nationally, and most provinces have their own professional associations.
Before getting a new land survey, make sure you don’t already have one. Hopefully, you’ve stored the paperwork that relates to the purchase of your home. Look through it. A valid land survey might be right there.
If you have questions about land surveys, call today.
No matter how much you love your current property, you may be dreaming of the day you can buy up into a better home in a better neighbourhood.
Is that day today, or, is it a few years down the road?
Here’s a quick way to make that assessment.
First, make a list of all the practical reasons why it might be time to move up. Those reasons might include features such as: more bedrooms, proximity to work and school, a larger backyard with trees, nearby parks and walking paths and better access to things you enjoy like theatre.
Next, make a list of the emotional reasons for making such a move. Those reasons might include memorable get-togethers with friends on a more spacious deck, an easier and less stressful commute to work, more family time with the kids and enjoyable Saturday golf at a nearby course.
Finally, take a financial snapshot to determine if you can afford to move up. You’ll need to get a good idea of what your current property will sell for in today’s market, average price of homes in your desired neighbourhood, and how much mortgage you’ll need.
Once you have all that down on paper, you’ll have a clear picture of your readiness. If the practical and emotional reasons for buying up are compelling, and you can afford to make the move, then you have your answer.
The time is now!
By the way, if you need help in making this determination – especially figuring out what your home will likely sell for, call today.
You’re standing by your window admiring the view. Then you notice it. Moisture has built-up around the edges of the glass. Should you worry?
It all depends on the reason for the build up.
Assuming you have traditional double-pane glass in your windows, there are a few things to look for if you notice moisture.
Often, moisture at the bottom of the windows is simply caused by too much humidity in your indoor air. If that’s the case, simply adjust your humidifier.
If the moisture is on the exterior of the window, typically there’s also no problem with the window itself. It may have rained recently or the outside humidity may have spiked causing the accumulation. Generally, there’s no reason for concern.
However, if the moisture is in between the two panes of glass, the seal has broken and surrounding air – along with its water content – has made its way in. This disrupts the thermal barrier of the window, reducing its energy efficiency. In fact, the glass might feel noticeably colder than your other windows on chilly days. In that case, you’ll need to replace the pane.
Similarly, if the moisture is coming in through only one spot — the bottom right corner, for example — then you might have a leak. If you have a wood frame or sill, you may also notice a growing water stain. It’s important to get leaks fixed quickly. There may be water damage occurring within the frame that you cannot see.
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