You don’t have to break the bank to have your house looking as though it was professionally staged. These tips and tricks will have your house sell-ready and gorgeous before you can say “why hasn’t it always looked this way?!”
The first step in getting ready to sell is de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter so potential buyers aren’t overwhelmed by your stuff, but rather impressed by your home. Counters and other surfaces should be kept clear and any furniture that isn’t needed stored away. The good news about this tedious task is packing and purging will make moving day that much easier.
2) Lights and Mirrors
Warm lighting and well-placed mirrors can make your home feel bright, inviting and even bigger. Mirrors placed over fireplaces, and along hallway walls will make rooms appear larger than they are. Table lamps, and overhead lighting like chandeliers and sconces will brighten rooms and add some flair to your decor.
3) It’s Nothing Personal
Any personal effects should be packed away; family photos and mementoes, framed degrees, anything that’s a link to the current owner. Buyers want to imagine themselves in the house, so the more the house is a blank slate, the easier that is.
4) But Don’t Touch the Nursery!
Although the nursery and childrens’ rooms should be de-cluttered and tidied as well, personal effects can remain as they are. There’s something reassuring and touching about seeing a baby’s room that can mean all the difference to a potential buyer (especially ones that are starting a family).
Although you love that fuchsia accent wall, some buyers may not. A fresh coat of bright, neutral paint will not only enlarge the house and make it feel airy and more spacious, but it will also help buyers with their vision (there’s that blank slate again).
6) Accents and Colour
To complement the neutral house, a few well-placed bright pops of colour will bring the decor together. Bright throw pillows, or a canary yellow kettle on the stove will be noticed as soon as you enter the room and will stick in buyers minds once they leave. Fresh flowers are another great idea, and single flower arrangements are most effective.
7) Inviting Scents
Warm inviting scents will help your house be remembered. Taking the time to bake cookies or mull cider on the stove may not be in the cards (and the stove and elements should be off for open houses) but a safely placed candle or air freshener will do the trick.
8) Draw Attention to Selling Features
As a general rule closet doors should be kept closed, but if there’s a walk-in that should be noticed, a small note to alert potential buyers is ok.
9) Freshen Your Linens
Now’s the time to use your spare “good” set on beds, and ensure your towels and hand-towels are in tip top shape. And if it’s perhaps time to replace them, think neutral again.
Following these tips will have your house in tip top selling shape and make it the most appealing to the most potential buyers faster than you can say “SOLD!”
TORONTO - Economists say Canadian borrowers can expect as mortgage rates to dip slightly in response to the Bank of Canada's surprise move to cut its trend-setting interest rate.
The central bank lowered its benchmark interest rate to 0.75 per cent, from one per cent, on Wednesday to soften the blow of dropping oil prices on the Canadian economy.
CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld says that will likely mean a corresponding 0.25 drop in variable, or floating, mortgage rates.
Fixed-rate mortgages are also likely to see a slight decline, as they follow bond yields, which will move lower in response to the central bank's rate cut.
TD economist Craig Alexander says lower interest rates could spur consumers in non-oil dependent provinces such as Ontario to take on more debt, which in turn will boost the region's red-hot real estate market.
However, Alexander says it's unlikely that consumers in oil-rich Alberta, who are reeling from the impacts of the sharp decline in energy prices, will increase their debt loads or see sales or prices of homes heat up.
Renovating your home can be thrilling and when the results are exactly what you wanted, there’s nothing more satisfying. But they can also be stressful and costly, in both time and money. Here are five things to consider before undergoing a renovation, whether the job is big, or small.
Does The Renovation Require Permits?
Generally, small changes can be done on your own, but larger projects involving additions or altering the existing structure, electrical or plumbing may require permits. It’s important to be aware of the rules of your city, as undergoing renos without the required permits can mean timely delays, fines and ultimately stretching your budget. Sites like the Ontario Ministry of Housing and Affairs are a great resource and a good idea to bookmark.
Has Your Contractor Been Vetted?
It’s always smart to get a few quotes for every job, and references are essential. There are too many horror stories out there to make absolute sure that anyone who’s working on your home has been thoroughly vetted. Ask to see a portfolio of their work, or call a referral or two, this could save you a lot of heartache down the road.
Should You Relocate During the Job?
Packing up (especially if you have kids) might seem like a complete pain, but trying to live through a renovation might be an even bigger one. Add to that the dust and dirt that’s loosened (which can be a lot more than you’d expect), and you may be breathing easier if you choose to stay with family or at a hotel.
Do You Have a Buffer?
Often, the reality of renovating seems to be it costs more money, and takes longer (sometimes a lot longer) than expected. Building in a buffer of both time, and money is a great idea and a good way to set proper expectations. (And hey, sometimes they do finish on time, for the actual quote!)
So Do You REALLY Want This?
After weeks of researching design ideas, vetting contractors and saving the money you’ll need (plus a little buffer), now’s the time to really weigh the pros and cons. Do you really want to do this? And if the answer is yes, good luck! Renovating, whether it’s something small, or a big, can mean one step closer to living in the home of your dreams (once the nightmare of the renovation ends of course).
Some say winter is the worst time to sell a home. Given the cold and stormy weather we have been experiencing, there are definitely challenges, but don't be discouraged. First impressions and lasting impressions are key to progress potential buyers into active buyers. Be very wary as the slightest discomfort or issue can sour this experience and turn a buyer away from your home, but by addressing a few key areas, any winter woes can be easily avoided.
Here are five simple tips to maximize the showing potential of your home during the winter months.
1. Don't Let Winter be an Obstacle
It’s storming or just post-storm, but you have showings booked for your home. (You must have motivated buyers to go out in that weather!) Don't make it even more of a chore for them, be sure to shovel your drive or walkway so that the first impression is a clean and accessible entry. Buyers have been known to turn away, rather than hike to the doorway in knee deep snow and risk snow in their shoes, wet pants, and wet socks.
2. Consider Your Home’s Temperature
Remember, buyers are usually viewing more than one home at a time, and thus traveling around and running in and out of cars or up and down elevators in condos. Typically they will be dressed for the great outdoors, so although having the heat way up is great for lounging on the couch, it can be oppressive for visiting buyers. Be sure to monitor the temperature of the entire house and set it appropriately.
3. Get Buyers Out of the Dark and Into the Light
The winter months also mean shorter days and less natural light. Be sure to have adequate lighting in every room. Dark rooms are depressing when coming in from the cold. Keep it bright in the winter. Some may object for energy saving reasons, but it is best to leave all the lights on before showings or use timers. This allows you to set the mood lighting, and saves the buyers fumbling for light switches. Remember first impressions. Is your home a sanctuary or an oasis from the cold?
4. Preparation is Key
Be sure to prepare for those wet and snowy shoes and boots. No one likes having snow and dirt tracked around there home by shoes or wet socks, just as no one enjoys having wet socks and dodging puddles in the doorway. Be sure to have a "Shoes Off" sign. Place an absorbent mat protecting your stone or wood flooring. Be sure to have a shoe tray or appropriate storage area for shoes, not only to avoid the puddles but to show off the organization of your home. Apply this also to winter jackets, hats and scarves. Show functioning and organization by thoughtfully arranged set ups, don't just have outerwear exploding out of closets or haphazardly hanging on hooks or coat racks.
5. Pet-Friendly—and Groomed!
If you do own pets, be sure to have the appearance of clean pets…especially dogs. We love our furry friends, but it’s best not to leave those dirty slush-soaked towels and doggy outfits laying around. The last thing you want is the smell of wet dog greeting your buyers at the front door.
The Gavin Chen Team offers FREE pre-listing consultations for all Sellers. Contact them to learn more about this offer and other Services for sellers.
You don’t have to hire a decorator (or break the bank) to give a room a quick update with lots of impact. So whether you’re getting ready to sell, have just moved in or feel like a mini overhaul, these five tips will have you enjoying the room of your dreams in no time.
Change Your Fabrics
Replace your curtains, re-cover your throw pillows, buy a new rug, Any one of these easy fixes can make a big impact; but all three will completely change the entire room! And if it’s a bedroom you’re tired of, same rules apply: Replace the duvet cover, re-cover the headboard, and toss a few new pillows on the bed.
Freshen Up With Paint
Whether you tackle an entire room, or maybe an accent wall or two, a new coat of paint is probably the easiest way to change a room. From light and bright to dark and dramatic, paint can completely alter the mood.
Re-Organize A Bookshelf
Bookshelves are amazing; not only do they keep your books organized, but they can also serve as great focal pieces. Try colour-coding your books or arranging them in stacks instead of side-by-side. Remove an entire row of books and replace them with framed family photos or bright accent pieces. Sometimes all a room needs is a shift in thinking about it.
Update Your Art
Updating the art on your walls is a great way to showcase the family talent. Frame your daughter’s sketches from high school (no one will know it’s not a real Picasso) or your son’s first finger painting. Or grab a blank canvas and paint it a bright colour to hang in the kitchen (you don’t have to be a Fine Art grad to add some basic pops of colour!). And the best part of this approach is once you’ve bought the frames, the art can be rotated throughout the year at no extra cost.
Add An Accent
Is your bathroom feeling boring or your living room giving you the yawns? Pick bright, colourful wallpaper and add an accent wall! Paint stripes in your dining room, or buy a chandelier for your front hallway. Adding an impressive accent is a fun way to give the room some personality without a complete overhaul (of the room OR your bank account).
Buying your first home can be exciting and amazing, and scary. But knowing the common mistakes of first-time buyers will ensure you don’t make the same ones, and can help make the transition to "New Home Owner!" that much smoother.
1) Spending Too Much
It’s important to be realistic about what you can afford. The final sale price isn’t the only cost to take into account when owning a home. Houses come with plenty of bills like heating and property taxes, future renovations and occasional unforeseen costs like burst pipes or city trees needing to be trimmed.
What you can do about it: Take a close look at your finances. Be aware of your current fixed costs and always leave some breathing room. Ask the homeowners what they spend in a year on their bills so there aren’t any surprises. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has plenty of useful onlinebudget calculators to help. As a general rule your monthly housing costs (mortgage, property tax and heating expenses) should be no more than 32% of your gross monthly income.
2) Spending Too Little
Yes, this can also be a mistake! If you spend too little on a home that you’ll outgrow quickly, you’ll incur the expense of moving (which can be quite pricey) perhaps before you need to.
What you can do about it: Think ahead. Are you planning on starting a family soon? Will you outgrow the house? Perhaps stretching your money a little bit to stay in a house for longer is a more sound financial decision.
3) Buying With Your Heart
Sure the house is gorgeous, fully renovated and painted your favourite shade of cream and has an ensuite bathroom for every bedroom. But it’s on a busy road and you have three young kids and two cats who like to run outside.
What you can do about it: Be smart! Visit the house at least twice (you’d be surprised at how your opinion can change on a second and third visit) and think critically. Go through every aspect of the house, every room, every floor, its location and neighbourhood and really try to picture yourselves in the house for years down the road.
4) Missing Hidden Closing Costs
The final sale price of the house isn’t the only cost of buying a home. There are many "closing costs" that should be taken into account when deciding what price range you can afford. Your realtor’s commissions, lawyer fees, transfer taxes and moving costs can all add up.
What you can do about it: Closing costs can be anywhere from 1.5-4% of the final sale price, so be aware and take this into account when determining your budget.
5) Not Doing Your Research
Blindly buying a home can be a big mistake. Whether you’re paying too much attention to your realtor and family “who just LOVE the place!” or are feeling the pressure to make a quick buy, moving into a house that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted can be a big, expensive, regretful mistake.
What you can do about it: Do your research! And do it first-hand. No realtor or family member can know exactly what you want more than you. Spend a day walking the neighbourhood, learn about your neighbours, research the local school and visit the parks. As for the house itself, get an inspection report. These can uncover unseen things like termites and flooding, two expensive undertakings.
Buying a home is exciting and daunting. But doing your due diligence can make the process a little easier, and get you into your dream home with (little) stress.
Whether this is your first home or fourth, really understanding your mortgage and how it works is crucial. After all, it’ll probably be the biggest loan of your life!
What IS A Mortgage?
In the most basic sense a mortgage is a loan to buy a property. The process of securing a mortgage means lender approval based on your income, credit rating and other debt.
Understand Your Fixed Costs
Before you decide what you can—or should—spend on a mortgage it’s important to take stock of your habits and your true fixed costs. Be honest with yourself when putting together your household budget, if you’re going to be miserable without your daily premium cup of coffee, then along with your student debt and car payments, consider that a fixed cost.
Be PITH Safe
According to the CHMC (Canadian Housing & Mortgage Corporation), your monthly housing costs should be less than 32% of your gross monthly income. These are considered your PITH or Principle and Interest (of your mortgage payments), Property Tax, and Heating bills.
Get A Mortgage You Can Afford
If you pass the PITH test, the second test of what you can afford mortgage-wise is that your entire monthly debt load (car payments, credit card debt, student loans, etc) should be less than 40% of your gross monthly income. The CMHC even has a handy Mortgage Affordability Calculator on their site: cmhc.ca.
Paying Off Your Mortgage
Once you’re approved for a mortgage and buy your home (congratulations!), now you have to actually start paying off the loan. There are several factors involved in this like your interest rate, payment schedule (monthly, twice a month, every two weeks, or weekly) and your amortization period, which is the amount of time you’ve selected to pay back the mortgage (usually ranging from 15-25 years).
Picking The Right Interest Rate
The interest rate at which you select to pay off your mortgage varies from “fixed”—whereby the rate will NOT change for the term of the mortgage, and is generally a bit higher but considered more stable, or “variable” whereby the interest rate can fluctuate with the current state of the market.
Finally, owning a home can truly be an amazing thing. Thankfully there are many resources out there to help make the process a smooth one like mortgage brokers and financial advisors, so remember, you’re never alone through this daunting process!