Here’s How to Host an Open House

While advertising, the MLS and social media are great tools to get your home sold, probably the best way to introduce your home to prospective buyers and their agents is to host an open house.

The expertise of your agent will be the key to the success of your open house. Let your agent help you with the setup of your home and scheduling the open house dates. As with everything, timing will be important. In order to maximize the traffic through your home, don’t plan an open house on holidays or during special events.

Your agent will be the greeter who will welcome prospective buyers. The agent’s experience will provide the tools to answer questions and show buyers the standout features of your home. Any buyer feedback will be communicated back to you.

Since a homeowner’s presence is a distraction at an open house, it will be best if you disappear for a few hours. This will allow buyers to speak freely and make their own judgements. Your agent is the best one to take prospects through your home and point out the details.

Your role in hosting your open house begins with getting your home sparkling clean. Eliminate clutter and organize your closets in preparation for inquisitive buyers. Stage your home by first removing family photos and personal items. Allow as much natural light to shine in as possible. Display some flowers, set the dining room table and determine what furniture needs to be removed or added. Since first impressions are so important, be sure to have your landscaping manicured.

As your agent, I regard open houses as one of the most valuable marketing tools if you are selling your home. Call or email me to discuss how to make the most of your open house.

4 Ways to Bring Tranquility into Your Home

Your home is more than just a place to hang your hat, eat and sleep. A home is a place of refuge where you should feel safe and accepted. It also can be your sanctuary, a place where you feel you belong. Here are four ways to bring tranquility into your home and make the most of it being your sanctuary.

1. Create that perfect spot to chill. Decorate a small space with bright wall coverings and add some furniture so you have a tranquil place to lie back, meditate or just listen to some relaxing music. Your escape could also be a tropical paradise on a patio filled with plants and a small waterfall.

2. Conquer the clutter that produces physical and emotional chaos. Construct attractive storage bins at your front door to keep things easily organized.

3. Lots of natural light will be the best contributor to adding tranquility to your home. It improves your mood, boosts productivity and also highlights your interior design details.

4. The location and exterior of your home can offer a place to decompress. A good walkable location offers more activities, like bike riding and walking to a park. A nicely landscaped yard will encourage you to go out and embrace the power of plants and the warmth of the sun.

I can help you escape the craziness of everyday living by suggesting ways to customize elements of your personal lifestyle so you can successfully bring tranquility into your home. Please give me a call.

Do These Things in April to Prep for a Stress-Free Summer

April is the month to set the wheels in motion to get your home ready for a carefree summer. Summer is one of the best times of the year, so by doing some simple preparations now, you will be able to enjoy those times without any homeownership worries.

Start your prep by checking the toolshed to make certain that your yard maintenance tools will be up and running for the summer months. Be sure the lawn mower engine has new plugs, a new air filter and a fresh tank of gas. Sharpen the blades of the mower and all of your gardening tools.

An efficient AC will be your best friend when you crank it up, so schedule a springtime preventative maintenance tune-up. If it’s determined that your AC has limited life expectancy, then be prepared and get an estimate for a new unit.

Don’t let pests ruin your summer fun. Seal up any openings that could allow insects to take refuge in warmer weather. Before it gets too hot, check your attic for signs of animals that may have taken up residence there during the winter.

April also signals a good time to tend to bird feeders. To keep rodents away and to safeguard the birds of summer from disease, dismantle your feeders and give them a deep sanitizing. Do this for any birdbaths, and clean up under the feeders as well.

Since summer can bring heavy rains that can lead to water damage, make April your time to check if winter left behind any roof or gutter damage. Examine the basement for any leaks or cracks, and take time to create water diversions away from your foundation on the outside of your home.

Call or email me for other springtime prep ideas so you can have a stress-free summer. I am always here to help.

How to Go About Pricing Your Home

When you are ready to sell your home, it is important to work with your real estate agent to arrive at a competitive listing price. You have an idea of what your home is worth, but it will be your agent who will help you objectively price your home. Depend on the expertise of a real estate professional to be able to research the market and be receptive to your input. Your team effort will result in a price that will sell your home.

An agent will start by finding recent sales that are comparable to your home in age, location, square footage, amenities and number of bedrooms and baths. Since no two homes are identical, the agent will make value adjustments to the features of the comparables (also known as comps) that differ from your home. An average selling price will then be taken from the newly adjusted comps to help determine the estimated value of your home. Similarly, active listings will contribute to how your home is priced.

Accurate pricing can’t take place without also factoring in market conditions. Take advantage of online data that breaks down sales by area. Median sales price and the average number of days for past sales will be valuable information when deciding on the final price tag for your home.

Pricing your home to sell in a reasonable amount of time in any market is my goal as your real estate agent. Call or email for an appointment so we can team up to get your home sold.

Buyer Love Letters to Home Sellers: What to Watch Out For

In a competitive real estate market, buyers want to give as much strength to their offers as possible in an effort to try and edge out other offers for the same property.

One creative way to try and get a seller’s attention is for a buyer to write a letter to the seller explaining why the seller should select their offer. In the industry, these letters are referred to as love letters. These letters often include family photos.

While you may think this is a great idea, you need to know that love letters can be a detriment.

A letter to a seller that unintentionally reveals your status in one of the seven protected classes of the Fair Housing Act could result in a violation if the seller makes a decision based on information pertaining to your race, colour, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin provided in your letter.

Writing a personal letter can also hinder your negotiating power because a seller could view your letter as you “showing your hand” before negotiations even begin.

A seller can become uncomfortable if you divulge too much information in a love letter. You would be weakening the strength of your offer position because the seller can no longer be objective in negotiating with you.

You want to think twice before you put pen to paper to create a love letter. Instead, find ways to improve the content of your offer to give it as much strength as possible. The seller views the sale as a financial transaction that should not be emotion-driven.

You want to buy a home based on the merits of your offer. I can help you put your best offer on the table. Call or email me, and let’s make your home-buying experience a positive one.

Here’s How to Refresh Your Home This Spring

Springtime should be an inspiring time for you. Inspiration can often give way to the desire to create a fresh look for your home. But busy schedules don’t always accommodate the traditional deep cleaning that everyone associates with springtime. If you find yourself short on time, here are ideas to freshen up elements of your home with some easy visual changes and tidying up.

Starting with your entry, your home’s first impression will improve by washing down the front porch and adding a new doormat. Decluttering the entry hall or mudroom of any remnants of winter by adding attractive storage bins is an easy way to freshen up the space you and your visitors first see.

Rotate some of your décor and use the addition of flowers and plants to any area of your home to give it that fresh springtime feeling. The change of the season is the time to create a new centrepiece for your table. This can be as simple as having a fruit bowl or houseplant be your new inspirational theme. Table clutter seems to disappear when you have an attractive centrepiece.

You will find that lightweight cleaning will brighten up the interior of your home and complement other suggested visual tweaks. Take some time to clean light bulbs, lamps and mirrors. Your mood will brighten up as the inside spaces of your home lighten up.

Give me a call, and I will help you create a plan so you can enjoy freshening up your home with other nonintimidating fine-tuning ideas.

15-Minute DIY Home Insulation Projects

Weather need not be your nemesis when it comes to efficiently heating your home. For a few minutes and a few dollars, here are some do-it-yourself home insulation projects that will improve the comfort of your home.

1. Some of the biggest sources of the loss of warm air are gaps around windows and doors. Weather stripping, rope caulk or foam tape can easily be put around windows or doors to prevent conditioned air from escaping.

2. Appliances and bathrooms that vent to the outside may have air leaks. A simple bead of caulk applied on the outside outer edge of the vent where it meets the wall prevents air loss.

3. Drafts coming from under a door can be quickly remedied by pushing a door snake along the opening under the door. In a pinch, save $20 and use a rolled-up blanket.

4. For an added layer of insulation, apply cold-blocking window film to your windows. You don’t lose any light, and you will reduce heat loss by about 10%.

5. Wrapping your pipes in fibreglass pipe sleeves will keep them from losing heat and aid in preventing burst pipes on extremely cold days. An additional result will be warmer water in your home.

6. An open fireplace can cause a big heating bill. Insert an inflatable fireplace plug into the opening when not in use to keep out cold air and keep warm air inside.

7. Adding an insulation blanket to an older water heater or one that is located in a cold drafty area will reduce the energy needed to heat water for your home.

Call or email me, and I can help you pinpoint where additional insulation will help reduce your energy usage, making your home more comfortable and saving you money at the same time.

Buying a Home? Make Sure You Ask These Questions

It’s always good to be ahead of things, especially when buying a home. If you are, there will be fewer surprises during the first few months after you take possession. Start asking some of these maintenance-related questions so your budget will be better prepared for remedies later.

1. How old is the roof? The age and type of the roof will help determine when you can expect replacement. Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing and have an average life of 15 to 20 years. Shake roofs have life expectancies of 20 to 40 years. Metal and concrete tile roofs can last 30 to 50 years.

2. Has there ever been a major plumbing break? It is not uncommon to have a pipe burst or for an old house to have a leak. Water damage can be a costly thing to remedy. If there has been a leak, a mould inspection is recommended.

3. How much is being spent on utilities? Knowing the energy sources and the average monthly utility costs will help you determine if you will need to upgrade to more energy-efficient appliances.

4. What is the capacity of the water heater? You need to know how big the water heater is so your family will have enough hot water at peak times. Water heater sizing guides will help you determine if you have to budget for a larger water heater.

Give me a call, and I will help you communicate with the seller and the neighbours, who will be your best allies in getting the right answers.

Watch Out for These 5 Decluttering Myths

With spring around the corner, this is a good time to start planning to purge your home. To have your decluttering efforts be a success, you need to know that there is a wrong way and a right way to declutter your home. Check out these myths before you proceed to purge and organize.

1. You don’t need a plan of attack before proceeding with your organizing. To avoid being overwhelmed, have a checklist so you can manage the project at hand. Tackle one room at a time with a list of tasks for each room.

2. You only should keep things that make you happy. If you keep essential items and those that bring you joy, you can more easily differentiate between those things you should keep and those that you should discard.

3. Dwelling on what stays does not make for a successful declutter. It is better to take a few extra moments to think about what goes than to have regrets later. A good rule of thumb for a debatable item is that if you haven’t used it in a year, then it’s probably worthwhile to discard it.

4. Stock up on organizing supplies before you begin. When it comes down to it, these supplies don’t help you purge. Do your sorting and purging before you decide how to set up your storage.

5. Decluttering is a task that only needs to be done once or twice a year. In reality, minimizing your belongings should be done on a maintenance basis. After your initial purge, go through your home once a week to put things back where they belong and make decisions to get rid of things that no longer have a place in your life.

Call or email today for more resources and information to assist your decluttering efforts.

Don’t Make These 4 Foyer Faux-Pas When Decorating

The first space a visitor sees is your entryway. It creates the first impression of your home, so don’t allow a crowded and dark foyer to turn off your guests or prospective buyers. Why not take advantage of January being International Creativity Month to refocus your attention on creating an inviting entryway? Here are some design features that could take you in the wrong direction when trying to create an inviting foyer for your home.

1. Placing a side table that’s too large in your entry will eliminate the feeling of spaciousness. Living room furniture usually doesn’t work in the entry due to its size. Shop for smaller-proportioned furniture for this space.

2. Insufficient lighting or walls that are too dark are not good for first impressions. Lighting plays a big role in how inviting your entryway will be. Be sure you have lighting from the ceiling and bright walls and décor.

3. Having no place to sit to remove shoes is a common mistake. Consider an attractive bench that isn’t imposing.

4. Clutter isn’t a desirable thing to view in an entry. Use some imagination in creating a place to hang keys and stash your mail so they look like they belong.

Visitors and prospective buyers will form immediate opinions of your home by how you design your entryway. We have been in many homes and can share what design elements can complement your foyer. Call or email us today. We’re always here to help.

Homeowners Are Staying Longer in Their Homes

In recent years, the National Association of Realtors’ historical data has revealed that homeowners are staying in their homes an average of nine years, as compared to four to five years just 13 years ago. There are several reasons for this dramatic change.

When home prices took a big dive in the mid-2000s, many owners were forced to stay in place because of little to no equity in their homes. This pushed the five-year average tenancy up.

The length of homeownership among younger families, who typically relocate about every five years, has not caught up with older generations, who live considerably longer in their homes.

The size of homes has been increasing for the last 40 years, and in conjunction with that, family household sizes have been getting smaller. As a result, the need to keep moving up to larger homes has greatly diminished. Many find that after several years of owning the same home, their needs are still satisfied.

Today, some homeowners are not anxious to give up a comfortable loan balance with a good interest rate after having benefited from good appreciation and historically low interest rates. Staying where they are is more appealing. Other homeowners who may have an interest in selling may be dissuaded by the lack of supply of homes to buy and not being able to find a replacement residence.

Today’s credit standards are tighter, making qualifying for a mortgage more difficult for some of those who do wish to sell and buy another home. When homeowners are less likely to qualify for a new mortgage, they are more likely to have to stay where they are, contributing to the average length of homeownership in the market.

Many factors contribute to choosing to stay in a home or not. If you are considering buying or selling a home, call or email us today, and we can help you navigate each of them so you can make the decisions that are best for you.

4 Tips to Simplify Holiday Decorating … A Gift to Yourself

Decorating your house for the holidays is supposed to be fun, but sometimes the admin around it can become a chore. Here are four ideas to streamline and simplify your decorating this year.

Use decorations you can keep out beyond New Year’s. It can feel very laborious spending a day festooning your house knowing you’ll be taking them the decorations down again in a couple of weeks. How about replacing your felt Santas or Christmas baubles with less holiday-specific decorations, such as garlands of pine cones, acorns and evergreens that can stay for the whole winter season.

Bring in the flowers! Substituting flowers for the tinsel will not only give your house a beautiful facelift, it’ll also help you cut down on the clutter once the holidays are over. No more boxes filling the attic, just some stems to add to your compost.

Don’t put things out for the sake of it. Let’s be honest: some decorations are beautiful, while others can seem tacky, generic or a little boring. Don’t feel you have to put out as much as possible just because it’s what everyone else does. Only choose the things you truly love having around the place or things that you genuinely find beautiful.

Resist the urge to buy new decorations if you don’t truly need them. Chances are you already have plenty left over from previous years that will have been kept for a reason! Bring the festive spirit to the house by making use of what you already have.

House-Hunting Etiquette: Questions You’re Afraid to Ask

Permission to view someone’s home for sale comes with some rules of etiquette.

Even if you are visiting an open house, you need to be aware of things that you may normally take for granted.

Preparing ahead will help alleviate confrontation or the need to ask these questions when you are in someone else’s home.

1. Is it okay to consume snacks or drinks? Unless you are prepared to clean up or pay for a spillage accident, have your refreshments before you enter a home. If a seller has left cookies out for the showing, feel free to take one and eat it in the kitchen.

2. Can I use the bathroom? If it’s urgent, ask for permission. You never know if the water has been shut off. Schedule stops to take care of your personal needs before visiting.

3. Is looking into closets acceptable? Look all you want, but don’t disturb what you see.

4. What about taking photos? Before you click the camera, first ask if it’s okay. This is especially important if you intend to post your photos publicly and the seller has personal effects that they don’t want promoted.

5. Can I sit on the furniture? This is not a good idea unless you have a physical need to do so. Ask for permission if you need to sit for health reasons.

Call or email us with any of your burning house-hunting questions. We are always here to help and make sure you have a pleasant experience.

6 Home Maintenance Myths You Should Know About

Proper home maintenance is an important part of home ownership. Being aware of the following myths about keeping up a home will help you avoid unexpected expenses in the future.

Solid-surface countertops are indestructible. Be nice to your countertops because they can easily be cosmetically damaged. Stone counters can be stained, and household cleaners will take away the luster over time. Direct heat from pots and pans can discolour countertops, and soft stones can be etched by acidic materials.

The test button on a smoke detector assures the detector is doing its job. The test button does not tell you if the smoke sensor is working, so always test it with smoke from a blown-out candle or match.

Short lawns mean less mowing. Keeping your lawn one to three inches long will allow it to retain more water while keeping it strong enough to withstand weeds and pests.

Energy is conserved if the AC is turned off when you leave. The reality is you will consume more energy if the AC has to work overtime to cool your home when it’s hot. Depending on the season, move the thermostat five degrees up or down when your home is vacant. Consider a programmable thermostat.

No gutter maintenance is needed with gutter guards. While guards are designed to keep out leaves, smaller debris such as seeds or pine straw can still get through. You will have less maintenance with a once- or twice-a-year moderate cleanout.

Permits for renovation aren’t necessary. Building codes and the permit process are in place to protect you by ensuring properly completed work. Insurance will better cover your losses if your work has been permitted.

Call or email us any time to go over these and other home maintenance myths so you can get even more enjoyment out of home ownership.

Moving? Here’s a Checklist of What to Do Before You Move

When the big moving day arrives, you will want to be as organized and pre-prepared as possible. Many tasks are best managed when your new home is vacant. Here is a moving checklist to help you navigate your move.

1. Since it is likely that the seller will turn off the utilities upon closing, contact the utility companies and have the utilities turned on in your name ahead of closing. Be sure to include setting up your Internet and cable services at the same time.

2. Make sure the vacant house has been cleaned to your standards. If not, hire a cleaning service if you don’t want to do it yourself. At an average cost of $150, you may want to leave it to a professional.

3. For closing day, arrange for a locksmith to come and change the locks. Often, the locksmith will only have to rekey the existing locksets at a reduced expense.

4. Any planned remodelling or renovations are best accomplished when the house is vacant. It is much easier than you having to live around construction debris.

5. If repairs need to be done, line up a handyman to get the work done right after you close.

6. Be aware of what safety items need to be in place prior to taking occupancy. Have a fire extinguisher for each level of the home. Ensure that the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.

7. Prior to closing, have a walk-through with the seller or your home inspector so you can be familiar with the electrical service and water shutoff valves in an emergency. Get instructions on any other working systems of the home.

8. Have your mail forwarded and change your address profiles where needed.

Contact us for an even more extensive checklist to help with your move.

Should You Go with Fake Plants or Real Plants for Your Home?

Plants can help personalize a home and enhance the interior. Plants can also help sell a home. According to a survey by Costa Farms and Alloy Research, one third of plant owners feel that plants “make a house feel like a home and that they make any home seem more welcoming.” The question is: Fake plants or real plants? Here are some pointers to help you decide.

If you’re a frequent traveller, leaving live plants alone to fend for themselves may not be a good idea. Unless you have someone to check your home and to water and feed your plants in your absence, having live plants is probably not a good idea.

Consider your pets. Curious cats and dogs can destroy your natural indoor garden by nibbling on leaves or digging in the soil.

Whether your plants are real or fake, you’ll need to decide what level of maintenance you want to deal with. If you enjoy nurturing your plants with trimming, feeding and watering, then live plants will likely work for you. On the other hand, faux plants are dust collectors and require regular tedious cleaning.

If you have your home on the market and are having it staged, then fake plants may be the way to go. With the availability of a huge variety of faux plants, great marketing backdrops can be created. Staging is usually short-term, so these décor items seem to make the most sense. There are also companies that rent real plants for staging and will provide the required care.

When it comes to real or fake plants, call or email us, and we can help guide you in the right direction and provide you with supplier recommendations.

What You Need to Know about Selling Your Home “As Is”

Before you sell your home “as is,” you need to take a moment to understand what “as is” means so you can decide if it’s right for you. An as is sale means that you are selling your home in its present condition, good or bad, and that you don’t intend to make any repairs or provide any warranties. You will still have to provide state-mandated disclosures.

In a seller’s market, you have a better chance of attracting buyers who will accept your home as is due to the low supply and high demand for affordable homes. Fixer-uppers have greater success selling in a seller’s market, despite selling at a reduced price. You will likely sell your home for less when you save repair costs, but you can still enjoy some profit when you close.

An as is sale usually moves along faster because your responsibility is limited to putting the house on the market without having to do staging or obtaining pre-sale inspections.

There are probably more cons than these pros when you sell as is. The biggest negative is having to sell your home for less than market price to offset what a buyer will expect to have to remedy.

Another significant obstacle is the lack of confidence that buyers have in trusting the property disclosures in an as is sale, making it difficult to get strong selling prices. There are a limited number of buyers who are willing to buy homes in as is condition if there are a lot of repairs needed. Additionally, as an as is seller, you need to have well-honed negotiating skills because experienced house flippers will negotiate hard to get the lowest price possible.

Our experienced team has worked with all types of home sales, and we invite you to contact us so we can take you down the path of marketing that works best for you.

Give Your Home an Instant Makeover with These Low-Budget Ideas

If you feel like it’s time to freshen up your home, there are some simple no-cost makeovers you can do.

Before you add anything new, remove clutter and clean out closets. You may find something hidden away that can change the look of your décor. A deep cleaning will brighten up hard surfaces and light fixtures. Even a good vacuuming of your rugs will brighten your spaces (as well as your attitude).

Take any leftover paint from your garage and touch up scratches. See if any walls could “pop” by being painted with an accent color with the paint you have.

Simply rearranging furniture can create positive results in how you feel about your interior spaces. You might remove pieces to have a more spacious look. If you are rearranging furniture, then keep the momentum going and move your accessories around. It can be as easy as changing the look of your bookshelves by repositioning books and bringing décor from another room to fill the spaces. Moving your pictures and photos around will also freshen your look. Adding plants will bring new life and colour to any room.

Your windows and lighting sources also provide ways to change your living spaces. Since light opens up space, consider how the window coverings are letting in light. Clean the windows and watch things brighten up. Moving lamps around can also enhance your interior.

Give us a call and we will help you take the guesswork out of what changes will make you feel better about your home.

Is There a Best Time to Buy or Sell a House?

There is no defined time that is best to buy or sell a home because there are a few influencing factors that will determine when it is right for you. Our goal is to keep you informed on these factors so you can make the decision that’s best for you.

If you know what the market activity is at any given time, it should dictate when you move forward with your planned real estate venture. The supply and demand of homes will determine the availability and price. The statistics that we provide you will help you select the right time to buy or sell your home.

As a seller, you want to list your home when available inventory is low so you can entertain more buyers and be more aggressive with pricing. As a buyer, you want to shop for a home when there is plenty of inventory to pick from. More homes on the market means more ability to negotiate the price.

Interest rates will influence your timing and also determine which home you can afford. Low rates allow sellers to be more assertive on pricing because more buyers can qualify to buy their homes.

Buying or selling a home in the late spring or early fall is generally a good choice but not always the most advantageous. There is more competition, so consider listing your home during less market activity. As a buyer, you will have fewer buyers to compete with while you can still see a reasonable inventory of homes.

If you are wondering when the best time is for you to buy or sell a home, call or email us, and we’ll update you on the present market activity and how it may affect your timing. We are always here to help.

5 Simple and Inexpensive Ways to Refresh Room Decor

We are enjoying the riot of colour and life that is summer in all its glory. Why not let summer be your inspiration and breathe new life into your surroundings? Here are five simple and budget-friendly ways to get the décor ball rolling.

Pep up with paint. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in sprucing up your space. Perhaps there is an accent wall that could really use a pop of colour, or maybe it is time to change the colour scheme of a specific room. Either way, a can of paint, a roller and some old-fashioned elbow grease are all you need.

While you’ve got that paintbrush in your hand … Paint something that you don’t like. That may sound a little odd, but if you have grown a little tired of an old dresser or dining table, you could paint it to give it a new lease on life. Check out YouTube for a smorgasbord of helpful tutorials.

Find your light. You would be surprised just how much the lighting in your home can boost or reduce your mood. Swap out old fixtures or forgo harsh overhead lighting in favour of a smattering of flattering lamps. You could pick up a few bargains online.

Cultivate an indoor jungle. Plants are a great way to add some life to your surroundings. Beyond their aesthetic value, they also reduce toxins in the air and improve air quality. Peace lilies, aloe vera, ivy and rubber plants are all great examples of air-purifying flora that purify the air.

Unleash your inner artist. Make your wall a canvas and display some eye-catching art. It doesn’t need to break the bank. You could get painting yourself and create tailor-made pieces that fit in with your colour scheme.

Are you looking for more ideas to improve your home and increase its value? Be sure to call or email us. We are always here for you and happy to help. We can also refer you to contractors if you are considering more extensive remodelling.