Green Your Home: Save Now and Profit Later

With apologies to Sesame Street’s Kermit the Frog, it is easy being a green homeowner. And it may be profitable, too.

To green your home you need to invest in a number of energy and water-saving measures that result in lower energy costs. While the initial cost of your green investment may be higher, greening your home can give you an immediate saving of 30% to 60% off your energy costs. Incentives offered by government and local electricity distribution companies will help too.

Best of all, when it’s time to sell, you’ve increased your home’s resale value – some say by as much as 10%.

A simple change of habits can start you on the road to a green home: For example, toasters, microwaves, computers and TVs steal “phantom power” – even when they’re not in use. Unplug them for lower electricity bills.

Going greener may be as simple as installing energy efficient lighting, upgrading your appliances to Energy Star-rated products and switching to low-flow toilets and water-saving shower heads.

Outside, planting large deciduous trees on the west and south sides of your home moderates the temperature. The result: lower heating and cooling costs and an attractively landscaped yard.

To kick it up a notch, you could really reduce costs with energy efficient windows and insulation. A high-efficiency furnace will quickly pay for itself; as will an energy friendly air-conditioner.

You may even opt for installing solar panels to reduce your dependence on the electricity grid.

And when you’re renovating, why not consider a green reno, using toxin-free building materials, cork or bamboo floors and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint.

Ready to sell? Don’t forget to trumpet your green investments. They may just sell your home.

 

How to Prepare for the Spring Housing Market

Spring is the time of year when sellers and buyers gird up for what has traditionally been the most important season for buying or selling a home. Following are some ways to prepare:

Sellers

Sellers should be aware that there’s a lot of competition for buyers in the spring. That means sellers should do everything possible to differentiate their home from others, including the following:

  • ¬†Polish windows and floors, rake the yard, mow the lawn, and add flowers in containers.
  • Wash blinds and curtains and have carpeting cleaned.
  • If a seller has spent the winter renovating to sell, new pictures should be taken to show the renovated space to best advantage. Be sure to add the new information to the feature sheets and advertising of real estate agents.
  • Consign dark linens and towels to storage and add bright or pastel accents in baths and bedrooms.

Buyers

  • Buyers should have a good idea of what they want, how much they can spend and the neighbourhoods they’re interested in. Buyers should also:
  • Have a network of experts in place, such as a real estate agent, lawyer, home inspector and mortgage broker.
  • Obtain a copy of their credit report, and if there are errors, clear them up.
  • Decide before shopping for a home the most they’re prepared to pay, and resist the urge to pay more.

Selling Your Home? Here’s How to Make it Lovable

Read…the colour of Valentines, of love and of the trendiest accent walls.

Today’s buyers love vibrant red and orange accent walls, usually in contrast to earth-toned neutrals. They also love stoves with super-quiet exhaust fans, kitchen islands, and recessed lighting combined with hanging pendant fixtures.

In the bathroom, they love glass and stone finishes with brushed nickel faucets and floating vanities. And don’t forget the open floor plans that blend kitchen, dining room and family room into a single open space. Seducing today’s buyers is almost a necessity in today’s real estate market. But how far should you go to cater to buyers’ wants?

It depends. Unless you’re selling a luxury property, you don’t have to buy a professional-grade stove. However, you may want to consider trading your outdated avocado appliances for stainless steel and buying an inexpensive island on casters to make the kitchen feel more modern.

Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, so it makes sense to spend the majority of your renovation dollars to upgrade these spaces. In the bathroom, new fixtures, a soft colour for the walls and sconce lighting will make a world of difference. Add fluffy white towels, flowers and candles, and you have a spa that buyers will love.

A fresh coat of neutral paint is always a cost-effective solution. And an accent wall can make a space look bigger, warmer and more up to date.

Carpeting is out and exotic woods and travertine floors are in. However, your buyers will likely be as impressed with less-expensive flooring options.

How to Leap Those First-Time Buyers Hurdles

First-time home buyers have plenty of obstacles to overcome. There is an intricate maze of details that need to be carefully navigated.

Following are five obstacles that first-time buyers have to overcome when looking to buy a home:

Down Payment:

Saving enough for the down payment is not sufficient. Closing costs must also be considered. Closing costs are additional fees such as the lawyer’s fees, escrow charges, appraisal fees, financing fees and utility adjustments. A good rule of thumb is 2% of the purchase price will cover the closing costs. So for a $200,000 home with a 5% down payment, you would require $14,000 to cover both the down payment and closing costs.

Mortgage Preapproval:

Many first-time home buyers overlook the preapproval process. This mistake can cost you your dream home. Visit a mortgage professional to see what kind of mortgage you qualify for and closely examine the actual cost of the money you must borrow to purchase a home.

Use a Real Estate Agent:

Some home buyers think they can go it alone. Buying a home is a complex legal process, and buyer representatives have the knowledge and know-how to make your home-buying experience a happy one.

Know the Difference Between What You Need and What You Want:

It is fine to dream big, but the home-buying process can be very frustrating when you have a $200,000 budget and $500,000 taste. It is essential to the buying process to identify what your home must have and what you would like it to have.

Believe in Yourself:

It seems that when you are buying your first home, everyone has an opinion about the purchase. This can be confusing because unsolicited advice clouds your decision. Believe in your ability to assimilate the facts, look at the property and decide what to buy.