Thoughts on Homeyness and the Home in 2016

A home is so much more than just a shelter, according to the most recent Life at Home report.

The 2016 report, which is published annually by the IKEA global home furnishings company, says a home is defined by what inhabitants experience through their senses: sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch. Together, these five senses make a house feel, well, homey, and create happy memories.

After surveying thousands of people around the world, the Life at Home report found that a whopping 63% of respondents said they cook to feel at home, while 59% attributed their home’s comfortable vibe to music. Interestingly, when the sensation is not a pleasant one – too bright or too noisy – that homey feeling is challenged. And, thanks to a society that prizes outdoor kitchens and living rooms, some 42% of individuals say they now feel more comfortable outside their homes.

The home is now a place of relationships and connections, both personal and virtual; the report found that 48% of respondents described their home as the “place where they have their most important relationships.” However, 23% noted that having Wi-Fi is more important in their homes than having a gathering space to bring family together. It makes a strange sort of sense: Loved ones can move away, but, realistically, they’re as close as the nearest Internet connection. A wired home is a happy home.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report found that people highly value their “tchotchkes”: 53% suggested the objects in their homes hold memories and/or reflect who they are, while 43% said they assigned importance to objects that facilitate meaningful activities – for example, the kitchen island is where the kids do their homework, creating daily memories.

The report concluded that, no matter who we are or where we live, our feelings of home are all remarkably similar (if clich├ęd): we love our homes because “home is where the heart is.”

Frustrated Buyer? How to Fight Bidding War Fatigue

As house prices soar in many areas across the country, it’s not surprising that bidding war fatigue has crept in. Jaded by making great offers that are rejected one after the other, prospective buyers and their agents are beginning to feel disheartened…and less motivated to “play the game.”

But, as real estate reporter Carolyn Ireland points out in a recent Globe and Mail article, these disillusioned buyers might benefit from changing their tactics, instead of sitting it out. Here are a few suggestions:

Aim to be the first one at the table, not the last. While many believe they should work to turn in their best offer at the end, there can be advantages to being first, including the opportunity to develop rapport with the seller’s agent.

The buyer’s agent should bring the offer in person, as opposed to emailing or faxing it. This proves seriousness, and it gives the agent a chance to read the body language of the other realtor.

Buyers may also want to appeal to the seller’s emotions. Attaching a bank draft for the down payment can help assure a seller that the buyer is serious and legitimate. A personal note about why the buyer wants the house can also help reassure some sellers, who may feel nostalgic and worry about “their home” winding up in the hands of an insensitive buyer.

One agent suggested in the article that including a personal letter has proved successful 80% of the time. And, really, it’s way better than giving up.