Moving? Here’s a Checklist to Help Get You Started

No matter how many times you’ve moved house or how near or far you’re moving, the actual moving process rarely becomes a walk in the park. If you go in unprepared, it can become much more stressful than it needs to be. So with that in mind, here is a checklist to help make your move as smooth as possible.

Lose anything you don’t need while there’s time. A couple of months before the move is a good time to declutter and clear out the things you really don’t need. It will mean less energy wasted moving things that will eventually be discarded anyway as well as giving you fewer items to worry about transporting.

Think realistically about how you will move. If you don’t have a huge amount of stuff, you can save an expensive move by transporting it on your own. But be realistic about how feasible this is, and do plan ahead if you’re going to need movers after all, as they can book up or raise their prices nearer the time.

Get packed early. A month might seem very early to start packing, but in reality, it very often takes much longer than you expect, leaving you stressed and overwhelmed as the clock ticks down on the final days. Packing what you can as early as possible removes a whole lot of hassle later down the line and gives you breathing space.

Save essential items until last. Toiletries, cleaning items, pens and tape should be some of the last things you pack, as you’ll definitely still need them right up to the day of your move. It’s also a good idea not to pack tools such as screwdrivers or Allen keys too early, as there could be some last-minute furniture you forgot to take apart.

If you’re feeling nervous about an upcoming house move, call us for some advice on how to make it stress-free.

Get Your Decluttering Started with These 5 Easy Tips

If you’re preparing to put your house on the market, it’s good to begin with a declutter. It will help to make it as presentable as possible to prospective buyers as well as giving you some calming peace of mind. Here are some helpful tips for decluttering.

Neaten up your counters. Go along your kitchen counter and get rid of everything that really shouldn’t be there, whether it’s pans that have a cupboard to call home, left-out cups or spices you know you’ll never actually use.

Spruce up the fridge. While you’d hope home viewers won’t go into your fridge, giving it a good thorough clean can prevent unwanted smells from dissipating through the house. Clear out any out-of-date, forgotten foodstuffs lingering at the back and create more space for fresh ingredients you’ll actually use.

Get that entry hall decluttered. It’s the first place prospective buyers will see when they come to view your home, so having it nice and clutter-free will help create a good first impression. Put stray shoes on the rack, shred old junk mail lying around and hang up coats and hats.

Organize your living room. You may have accumulated way too many cushions, throws or wall hangings over the years without even realizing it, unwittingly giving a slightly claustrophobic feeling to the living room. Go through each item and decide whether you could do away with it without sacrificing comfort.

Keep the bathroom tidy. Stick to one of each essential toiletry item to keep your bathroom countertops neat and tidy rather than having multiple brands of shower gel and numerous different deodorant options. This will keep your bathroom nice and presentable.

If you are selling your home, call or email me for ideas on what to declutter that will make the most impact.

4 Ways to Set Up Your New Year for Financial Success

New year, new you? Make sure that your resolutions for a positive fresh start also extend to your monetary situation with these four tips for a successful financial new year.

Don’t live beyond your resources.

Think intelligently about your spending. Just because you can afford something, do you really need to spend money on it? You could find your finances being sapped by unimportant instant gratification, whereas you’ll thank yourself later if those incremental savings help you make a down payment on a new house.

Have multiple savings pots.

It’s all well and good to add to your savings, but splitting it up into different pots will help you keep track of what you’re saving for and how much more you need. For example, have one pot for vacations, one for shopping and one for that house down payment.

Prioritize saving.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t spend anything, but when your paycheck comes in, allocate your savings amount before you consider how much you’ll spend on other things. Doing this will help you keep your finances in shape and ready for the important payments instead of accidentally frittering them away too soon.

Keep tabs on your spending.

There are many apps and tools that help you look back on what types of things your money goes to each month and how much. Many online banks also have the feature built into online accounts so you can properly budget and keep track of where you might want to pull back or have leeway to increase.

Do These 5 Things Before Decorating for the Holidays

The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to get those boxes full of decorations down from the attic. Before going wild, though, here are a few tips to take note of to make adorning your home a calming experience.

Vacuum thoroughly before putting anything up. Once your floor space is taken up by a tree, gifts and other holiday ornaments, vacuuming will become a bit of a logistical nightmare. Save yourself the stress by doing it now to minimize the need later on.

Dust off your tables and surfaces. Similar to floor space, you’ll likely find clear surface space to be at a premium over the holiday period. Getting these as sparkling as possible beforehand will reduce the hassle once all the decor is up.

Put your regular decorations into temporary storage. It can be tempting to start decorating and work out how to reposition your current decorations afterwards. Instead, before putting up a single garland, get your current decor items out of the way to make space.

Sweep your front porch. A nice clear entrance to your home will make your holiday wreath look even more beautiful on your front door. Put away any unnecessary signs or unseasonal plants to help give your house the full holiday feeling.

Only bring down one decoration box at a time. Don’t get so overexcited that you cause chaos with your decorations. Be methodical and take out one box at a time to keep the decorating experience as stress-free as possible.

Do These Additions Add to Your Property Value?

There is no guarantee that every addition or upgrade that you make to your property will give you a positive return on your investment. If you are considering selling your home in the near future, note that these additions may not enhance the value of your property. Also, keep in mind that do-it-yourself projects, if not done professionally, could detract from the value of your home.

Remodelling your basement to add bedrooms or living areas may be a detriment to value if you haven’t checked with government entities as to proper ceiling heights or legal egress or if certain added square footage counts if it is below grade. It is important to obtain the necessary permits for any such alterations.

While a garage conversion may seem like a good idea to provide extra room for the kids or a place for your mother-in-law, it may take away from the value when you sell in the future. You may lose those buyers who need ample garage space.

Buying or leasing solar panels for your home may increase its marketability but not necessarily increase its value dollar for dollar invested. If you have leased the solar panels, some buyers may not want to assume the responsibility of the expense of the lease, which could also affect their loan approval.

Upgrades to your home may enhance your lifestyle but not the value of your home. If you’re considering any upgrades, call or email me to check. I am here to help you make the right decisions when investing in your home.

6 Expert Tips for Furnishing Your First Home

The purchase of your first home comes with the opportunity to personalize your living spaces. Your home is unique to you. With endless possibilities for every budget, these six tips from design experts will get you started on making your new house your home.

1. Give yourself some time in your new home to realize what types of furniture will suit your needs and fit the spaces. Start with the basic necessities of a bed, a few chairs, a sofa and a table. You can then start prioritizing the purchase of your furnishings based upon where you spend the most time.

2. If you have a tight budget, consider buying and refurbishing used furniture.

3. Study the interior floor plan and the measurements of wall spaces prior to purchasing any furnishings. Furniture size and placement will be dependent upon location of outlets, air vents, door openings and stairways.

4. Before you begin selecting your interior décor, determine what your personal style is so you can more easily find what brings you comfort. It may be contemporary, traditional or a mix of both.

5. Accessories will help establish who you are in your new home. Decorative items will also tie your design elements together. For little investment, you can add candles, wall art, plants and cozy linens to create a warm and inviting ambience.

6. Good lighting will enhance your home’s interior, highlight your furnishings and improve its functionality. Control the natural light with appropriate window treatments and add smaller artificial light sources to create intimate spaces.

The thought of furnishing your vacant new home can be overwhelming. Call or email me so I can give you more guidance and tips. I am always here to help every step of the way as you navigate buying and moving into your new home.

Here Are 4 Ways to Meet Your Neighbours

Whether you’re getting settled in a beautiful new home or you’re a longtime resident looking to make new friends, meeting your neighbours for the first time can be as daunting as making new friends in a new school. Here are four ways to help smooth out the process and make it as easy and natural as possible.

Get out of the house.

It sounds obvious, but if you spend plenty of time sprucing up your front yard or walking around the local area, you’re bound to cross paths with your neighbours eventually. Introduce yourself and be open about the fact that you’re new to the area; you’ll likely get some good tips on the neighbourhood.

Look for online local community groups.

Many neighbourhoods have Facebook groups, pages, WhatsApp groups and other online communities residents can join. Especially during the pandemic, these became important places for neighbours to cooperate, ask for help and share updates.

Offer a helping hand.

If you notice a neighbour pruning their garden or fixing a fence, offer to help them. Not only will your kindness be greatly appreciated, you’ll also be able to chat and get to know each other while you’re working on the task at hand.

Host a housewarming party.

Everyone loves being invited to a party, and what better way to make friends with your new neighbours than to host one of your own? Not only will it help you meet other residents, but it could also help others get to know each other too!

Transform Your Bathroom into a Spa with These Ideas

Today’s bathroom remodels feature spa-inspired designs. The good news is that you can transform your bathroom into a relaxing spa with a budget as low as $2,500, while adding value and marketability to your home. Here are some ideas to transform your bathroom into a luxury spa escape.

Taking a shower can be a revitalizing experience by simply replacing the showerhead with a rain showerhead or one that has adjustable massaging heads. You can easily install it yourself with a $200-$400 showerhead.

An inviting feeling of warmth can be achieved by replacing the chrome, silver and nickel fixtures and trim with brass and gold. Warmer-toned metals are taking the place of colder feeling metals in today’s spa bathrooms.

Rather than take on the cost of replacing your vanities, you can achieve the spa look by transforming your existing ones with new matte black paint and new shiny brass pulls. Replace the countertops with white slab marble or quartz to compliment your other spa features.

A warm towel will make you feel like you are in a spa when you step out of the shower. Installing a towel warming rack in your bathroom will add value to your home at a cost of $200-$500 depending on the style and how it needs to be installed.

Create a wood look with your bathroom floors and extend it by installing open wood shelving. These two additions will add warmth and coziness to your spa bathroom experience.

Contact me so I can guide you on creating your own spa oasis.

Simple Yard Improvement Ideas that Will Increase Home Value

Yard improvement doesn’t have to be complicated for you to get the benefit of up to $4 in increased value for every dollar you spend, according to the Remodelling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors. Here are a few ideas to help increase the value of your home.

If you are comfortable with DIY projects, make and install flower boxes. Prefab boxes will be just as successful when filled with colourful plants. The curb appeal of your home will immediately liven up.

Trim out your mulched flower beds with rock borders to help contain the mulch. Adding rock and mulch around your foundation will help divert water away from your home’s perimeter. This DIY project can be taken further by creating rock stream beds. Trench the ground and fill the spaces with rock to take water where it won’t be destructive. Done properly, the result will also enhance the overall look of your landscaping.

To visually tie together the different areas of your yard, install pavers or stepping stones to get from one area to another. Lighting these pathways will bring you the best return on dollars spent and give your home personality at night.

Be sure to care for all of your plants because they add more value to your home as they mature. The return on your investment in a yard full of healthy flowers, plants and trees will never be in question. You also get to enjoy the colour, fresh air and shade that vegetation brings.

If creative DIY landscaping projects are not your thing, then be sure you at least fill your outdoor space with a well-maintained lawn. Bags of fertilizer can be purchased for between $30-60, depending on the size needed.

Contact me for other simple yard improvement ideas that will increase the value of your home.

Is It Possible to Reduce Your Closing Costs?

A large part of the cost of buying a home is the amount of funds it will take to close the sale. The good news is that the amount of your closing costs can be negotiable. Since closing costs on a loan can total 3-6% of your loan amount, it would be beneficial to try and get them reduced.

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender will provide a loan estimate outlining what your approximate closing costs will be. The loan fees will include everything from the loan origination fee to homeowner’s insurance and your down payment.

You can lower your down payment to reduce your closing costs, but keep in mind that a lower down payment can result in having to pay mortgage insurance. Paying a higher interest rate may allow the lender to rebate some of your closing fees. The trade-off is that it will cost you more over the life of your loan.

If you choose to negotiate to pay fewer discount points for your loan, your closing costs could be significantly less. Your interest rate will be higher as a result.

You can’t make closing costs go away, but having an open conversation with your lender may help you in reducing the cost to buy a home. Additionally, some sellers may adjust the sale price of their home to you in exchange for paying some of your closing costs.

Call or email me, and we can go over these possibilities in more detail and help reduce your closing costs.

7 Tips for an Organized and Stress-Free Move

Even if you choose to make your next move with professional movers, there will still be plenty to do on moving day while the professionals do the heavy lifting. Here are a few tips to make your moving day go more smoothly.

1. Start by letting the movers know where to park on moving day. Make it clear as to what you want moved and where in your new home you would like it placed.

2. Make sure the movers have unlocked access throughout the day to every area they will be packing and clearing out.

3. When the move begins, stay out of the movers’ way. This would include having a plan for your kids and pets to be occupied somewhere other than where the moving is taking place.

4. Fragile and valuable items should remain with you. Consider transporting your treasures in your car.

5. Have your cleaning supplies ready and do the final clean of each room as it is emptied. If you don’t have the time, have a professional cleaning company come in and do the cleaning once the move is complete.

6. While it is important to stay out of the way of your movers, you still want to be sure that someone is always around to answer any of their questions.

7. Do a thorough check of every nook and cranny of your home to be sure no personal item is left behind.

Call or email me for more tips to help make your move stress free and for mover recommendations.

Get Your House and Yard Ready for the Summer

Summer has finally arrived. It is a good time to sit back and relax but also a good time to address a few maintenance items around your home. Take advantage of the warmth and sunshine by doing some sprucing up.

The best way to prepare for your home prep tasks is to visit your local hardware store and reap the benefits of the Father’s Day tool sales, possibly saving as much as 30% on package deals that will make your spruce-up jobs easier.

Start with cleaning the mould and dust off the siding of your home. To make sure your siding lasts for years and years, use a soft cloth or a soft-bristle brush with a long handle. A jet nozzle on your hose will help you be more efficient when you rinse.

Due to weather changes and general wear and tear, your asphalt driveway could be ready for a makeover. Since sealing asphalt is more successful in warmer weather, June is the perfect time to do the job. New asphalt sealer needs at least a 50-degree outside temperature to effectively seal your driveway.

Your deck is where you will spend many hours relaxing and entertaining. Give it a facelift with a fresh coat of paint or stain if it needs reviving. Early summer is best for this job because the deck surface temperature shouldn’t get above 90 degrees.

Please call or email me for other ideas to take advantage of the early summer warmth to help maintain your home and its value.

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.

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.

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.