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Stop Paying Your Landlord! Own Your Own Home

The thousands of dollars in rent you’ve already paid to your landlord may be a staggering figure—one you don’t even want to think about. Buying a house just isn’t possible for you right now. And it isn’t in your financial cards for the foreseeable future. Or is it?

The situation is common and widespread: countless people feel trapped in home rental, pouring thousands of dollars into a place that will never be their own—yet they think they’re unable to produce a down payment for a home in order to escape this rental cycle. However, putting the buying process into motion isn’t nearly as impossible as it may seem. No matter how dire you believe your financial situation to be, there are several little-known facts that may be key to helping you step from a renter’s rut to home-owning paradise!

Initially, of course, the most daunting factor involved in buying a house is the down payment. You know you’ll be able to handle the monthly payments—you’ve done this for years as a renter. The hurdle, instead, seems to be accumulating the capital needed to put money down. However, this hurdle may be smaller than you think. Take a look at the following points and explore whether any of these scenarios may be possible for you.

1. Find a lender to assist you with your down payment and closing costs.
If you’re free of debt, and own an asset outright, your lending institution may lend you the money for a down payment by securing it against your asset. In this case, you won’t need to have accumulated capital for a down payment.

2. Buy a home even if your credit isn’t top-notch.
If you have saved more than the minimum for a down-payment or can secure the loan against other equity, many lending institutions will still consider you for a mortgage, despite a poor credit rating.

3. Find a seller to assist you in buying and financing the home.
Some sellers may be willing to bear a second mortgage as a seller take-back. The seller then assumes the role of the lending institution, and you pay him/her the monthly payments, rather than paying the price of the home in a lump sum. This is an additional option if you have a poor credit rating.

4. Buy a home with much less down than you’d think.
Investigate local and federal programs, such as first-time buyer programs, that are designed to help people like you break into the housing market. An experienced real estate agent will be equipped to give you all the information you need about these programs, and counsel you on which options are best for you.

5. Create a cash down payment without going into debt.
By borrowing money for specific investments, you may be able to produce a large income tax return that you can use as a down payment. Technically, the money borrowed for these investments is considered a loan, but the monthly payments can be low, and the money you put into both the home and the investments will ultimately be yours.

So, you know there are options out there. The next step is to educate yourself on what your own personal possibilities might be, and how to follow through with the means to achieve these goals. Keep in mind, too, that you can get pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin searching for a home. In fact, you should get pre-approved—the process is free and doesn’t place you under any obligation. You can be pre-approved over the phone. Or, take the next step and complete a credit application.

Once a credit application is submitted, you’ll receive a written pre-approval, which will guarantee you a mortgage to a specified level. When you have a concrete price range, you’ll know where to begin looking. Make a commitment to yourself to break out of the renting rut. Start today

Let me know if you need help getting started.

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Second Time’s a Charm! Sell the House that Didn’t Sell

Don’t get discouraged if your property hasn’t sold during its first appearance on the market. Your home may actually have been one of the most appealing listings of its kind and the reasons it didn’t sell may have nothing to do with the property itself or the market. Rather, a number of separate factors may have influenced the outcome.

Take a step back, break your original selling method into parts, and allow yourself time to evaluate each one. Make a commitment. Establish a new approach. Stick to it. A reassessment of your system, and a shift in perspective, may be just what you need to realize your ultimate goals in the sale of your home.

If your listing has expired, you will usually find weakness in one of the following areas.

1. Appearance and Condition of your Property

When preparing your home to show to buyers, always remember: the decision to buy a home is one coloured primarily by emotion, not logic. Every buyer has different ideas of what “Dream Home” means to them. Of course, your home won’t appeal to every buyer’s palate. But, how prepared are you? Is your home inspiration-worthy? Have you prepared each room with the goal that it leave a lasting impression? Have you cultivated ambiance?

For example, when a buyer stands in your kitchen, will she warm to the thought of drinking coffee at the table every morning? Does the décor in the master bedroom inspire feelings of comfort and relaxation? You should make every effort to make you home appear inviting and appealing.

This means covering all the bases:

  • Take care of any general repairs needed.

  • Tidy away the clutter; every room should appear well-ordered and neat

  • Maintain a strict level of cleanliness while showing. Everything should be clean, from shelves to carpets to furniture. While you may no longer notice that wine stain on the rug, it could be the first thing a potential buyer sees when she walks into the room.

  • Increase the brightness and warmth in your home: open curtains, turn on the lights, put out flowers, play soothing background music.

  • Don’t forget the exterior of the house. Concentrate on the “curb appeal” of your home. What impression will a buyer get when s/he first pulls into the driveway? Keep the lawn well-groomed and the rest of the property tidy.

  • Assess any major decorating or renovation projects that your property could be in need of. If your home could use a new paint-job, for example, consider taking care of this yourself, rather than offering a repair allowance to prospective buyers. Don’t leave such changes to their imagination—if they are looking at run-down walls, chances are they will incorporate this flawed experience of your house into the price they’ll be willing to pay. Ultimately, you’re better off checking these projects off the list before showing your home.

A house that is showcased well and offers a lasting impression will sell for the best price, going a step beyond the competition. Be sure to see if your agent will put together a no-obligation examination of your home to assist you in looking at the factors we’ve mentioned.

2. Pricing

The market value of your home is based on the price a willing prospect will pay, as well as the price a willing seller will accept. Pricing your home too high can be as financially dangerous as pricing it too low. Keep in mind, your listing does not include the price you paid originally for your home.

Often, sellers include this original price—or the amount of money they’ve invested in their home so far—into their selling price equation. This mistake may prove to be a costly one. Pricing your home too high can result in prospective buyers rejecting your home for larger homes listed at the same price.

Ask yourself: did your price work for you or against you? The “right” price balances upon a combination of competition within the market, the condition of the market, and the state of your home.

Request an up-to-date market analysis from your agent to help give you an idea of what an appropriate asking price for your home might be. This market analysis should give you an idea of the competition involved in the current market, offering an assessment of homes similar to your own that have recently sold or are currently on the market.

It should also show you how long other homes have been listed, in order to give you an idea of the average amount of time you can expect a home to stay on the market. And it should indicate the homes with expired listings, to help you glean some understanding of the reasons why this might occur.

3. Marketing and Communication

Your marketing plan begins with choosing the right realtor for your home selling needs. The local Cowichan Valley realtor you choose should be committed to selling your property, ensuring your home is marketed and showcased in the most effective way possible. So, when interviewing agents, it’s a good idea to ask them to give you a rundown of the marketing strategy they would use to sell your home.

Investigate and compare how much money each realtor spends on advertising a property and the types of media s/he employs. How effective is each brand of advertising? Your real estate agent should recognize the most effective marketing strategy for the unique offerings of your home. S/he should also articulate to you the most direct marketing route to the largest pool of potential buyers. Be wary of agents who rely on outdated advertising strategies.

The most successful agents on the market today are those who employ current, innovative marketing techniques. These are the agents you can rely on to have the skills and tools required to sell your home fast and for top dollar.

4. Operating as a Team

Communication between you and your realtor is essential. Your realtor should listen to your needs and goals, and be able to translate these into an active, effective home-selling strategy. Once this strategy has been put into play, you should receive detailed, up-to-date feedback on the status of the sale. Your realtor should be actively involved in every showing, speaking to agents who have shown your home, and relaying this information to you. You should be able to work together to build an effective strategy and alter the course if need be.

Evaluate the relationship you had with your realtor while your home was on the market. Did you feel as though your realtor involved you every step of the way? Were you given the information you needed to stay on top of progress? Did your realtor listen to your wishes and concerns and act upon them?

Let me know if you have questions.

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How to Get Top Dollar for your Home, Fast!

Your home is likely your largest asset, so selling it may be the biggest financial move you’ve ever made, one that requires significant thought and strategy. However, once you’ve entered the market, the process may move very quickly: your property has the best chance to sell within its first seven weeks on the market. Studies indicate that the longer a property stays on the market, the less it will ultimately sell for. So, you need to ensure you’re ahead of the game. Get your property into top selling shape before it hits the market in order to increase its chances of selling within the desired window of time and drawing top dollar.

Use the following tips to seize control of the home-selling process before you begin.

1. Establish the Reasons you Want to Sell your Home

These reasons will direct the path you take in the home-selling process. If, for example, you have already purchased a new home and your goal is to make a quick sale on your current home, this reason will chart your approach. If, on the other hand, you aim to net the highest price possible for your home, you would need to prepare yourself for a potentially slower process. Be clear about these reasons, as they will directly influence the amount of time and effort you put into preparing your home for sale, and the amount you set for your asking price.

2. Pricing

It is essential you list your property at a competitive market value right from the start. The competitive nature of the market means that over-pricing by a few thousand dollars could make the difference between your home selling quickly or not selling at all. Overpricing your home could potentially yield the following results: minimized offers, fewer showings, fewer agent responses, limited financing, limited buyers qualified for your type of home, or a smaller net price. You can avoid these outcomes by setting the price of your home at its market value when you first list.

If you are unsatisfied with the current market value of your home and unwilling to list it as such, consider putting off the sale of your home at this time.

3. Do your Homework

Perhaps the most “hands-on” approach to educating yourself about the nature of the current market—what works and what doesn’t—is to explore other homes on the market. Take advantage of Open Houses in your area, particularly in those homes similar to your own. Take some notes. Observe floor plans, lot size, appearance, location, and other features of the property. Then compare asking prices. Go through this process before setting your own asking price.

Remember: you want to get a selling price as close to your asking price as possible. And if you want to attract this price quickly, you won’t accomplish this by setting your price higher than your neighbour’s.

4. Decide Whether to Invest in an Appraisal

Getting an appraisal can be a positive or negative move, depending on the outcome. It’s up to you to determine how it might fit into your personal plan. Having an appraisal done can be a good marketing strategy, indicating to potential buyers that your home can be financed, which will increase the chances that your home will sell quickly and for more money.

On the other hand, however, there’s no guarantee you’ll like the final picture offered by the appraisal. Also, it’s one more cost you’ll have to add to your budget, and an appraisal only lasts for a limited period of time.

 5. Choosing a Realtor

Your choice of a Cowichan Valley realtor will greatly influence your home-selling experience. For better or for worse, this person will be with you every step of the way during one of the largest financial ventures of your life—and will make a difference in the speed with which your house is sold, and how much it sells for. Don’t take this relationship lightly.

You should consider a few realtors before you narrow down your choice. Of course, one of the initial factors to consider will be whether the realtor’s personality and enthusiasm is a fit for you and your family.

Also, each candidate should be able to provide you with information on the following areas:

  • the length of time s/he has been involved in residential real estate in your area;

  • the marketing strategy s/he would use to sell your home;

  • details on other properties in your area their company has sold (how much the property sold for and how long it spent on the market); and

  • his/her philosophy or method of negotiation.

You might want to request a reference list of former clients as well. Choose a few names on the list and call them.

6. Cleanliness

Make no mistake, prospective Buyers will be turned off by even a minimal lack of cleanliness, or an odour. Sellers may lose thousands of dollars if they fail to thoroughly clean the house before they begin to show it. Begin by clearing the house of excess junk, clutter, and furniture. Create more space. Make every room sparkle. Eliminate odours. You may be the last to notice a peculiar odour in your house, but it may be the first thing a potential Buyer notices. So, air out your house prior to showing. Keep pets in the yard as much as possible, and send any household smokers outside.

7. Access to your Home

Agents will be more reluctant to show your home if it isn’t readily accessible. They don’t want to waste their time running around, picking up and dropping off keys. Rather, a key should be immediately available for agents at all times. Also, go through the following last-minute list to prepare for showing your home: keep all lights on, doors unlocked, and drapes and shutters open.

If you can, leave the house while it is being shown. Head to the local coffee shop, or take the kids to the park. Prospective buyers will feel more intrusive if the owner of the house is present while they are viewing. If you can’t leave the house, be as unassuming as possible.

8. Updated Interior

A fresh coat of paint may be one of your best investments when preparing your home for the market. New paint can take years off the appearance of your home, dramatically increasing its perceived value. Likewise, if your carpeting appears worn, old, or is an outdated pattern, consider replacing it. The carpet or paint in one room could be the difference between a successful sale and your home being overlooked.

9. Drive-Up Appeal

If the buyer doesn’t like the outside of your house, s/he may choose to skip it entirely. It is essential that your home possess a certain “drive-up appeal.” Remember, a potential buyer’s first impression of your house is formed while s/he is still sitting in the realtor’s car. Ensure the trees are trimmed, the walkway swept, the lawn cut. Paint the door, and put out a new, plush doormat. All of these little things will contribute to the overall effect of a well cared-for and welcoming home.

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Tips for Staging your Home

After putting in a huge amount of time and effort to get your home looking good and ready to sell, your hard work is finally going to pay off: your home is on the market—you’re ready to begin showing.

Your house should always be at-the-ready for a tour, as agents may bring clients by with very little notice. If they catch you unprepared and you aren’t able to show the house on the spot, you could be losing out on a sale. Concentrate on the following areas when staging your home to sell:

1. People

Home buyers may feel like intruders if you are present while they view your house and this will affect their overall impression. Consider taking the opportunity to visit the local coffee shop, go shopping, or take the kids to the park. If you can’t leave while the house is being shown, try to be as unassuming as possible. Do not move from room to room. Don’t offer information, but make yourself available to answer any questions the agent or buyers might have.

2. Lighting

When you know an agent is bringing someone by, make sure all of the drapes and window shades are open to let in as much daylight as possible, or—if the showing is taking place at night—to create a look of comfort and warmth when viewed from the outside. Open all the doors between rooms to create an open, inviting feel. Turn on all lamps and overhead lights, even during the day. Keeping lights on during the day softens the harsh shadows sunlight can create in a room, and illuminates dim corners. During nighttime showings, make sure all outdoor lights are on, as well as pool lights.

3. Cleanliness

Scan the floor for debris – newspapers and magazines tend to accumulate without our noticing. Make sure all the counters are clutter-free. Empty the kitchen garbage before every showing, particularly if the garbage can doesn’t have a lid. Keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed. Beds should be made and bathrooms cleaned (toilet lid down). Every room should sparkle.

4. Scents and Sounds

Avoid using scented sprays before showing your home. Some people simply won’t enjoy the smell, and others may be allergic. If you want to make a room smell pleasant, consider a potpourri pot or a naturally-sourced aroma.

If you or your family is home while the agent is giving a tour, try to stay as quiet as possible. Turn off the television and the blaring radio. Put on some soothing background music at a low volume.

5. Pets

If you have pets, make sure your listing agent includes this in your listing on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This way, no one will be surprised by a furry welcome if the agent shows the house while you’re not there.

If you know someone is coming to tour the house, ideally you should take the pets with you, or arrange to have a friend or family member take them. If this isn’t possible, keep dogs in the backyard, preferably in a penned area. Try to keep indoor cats in one room while people are touring the house, and put a sign on the door.

Please let me know if you need help staging your home to sell.

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Buying a Home: What Expenses to Expect

Budgeting for a new home can be tricky. Not only are there mortgage installments and the down payment to consider, but there are also a host of other—sometimes unexpected— expenses to add to the equation. The last thing you want is to be caught financially unprepared, blindsided by taxes and other hidden costs on closing day.

These expenses vary: some of them are one-time costs; others will take the form of monthly or yearly installments. Some may not even apply to your particular case. But it’s best to educate yourself about all the possibilities, so you will be prepared for any situation, armed with the knowledge to budget accordingly for your move.

Use the following list to determine which costs will apply to your situation prior to structuring your budget.

1. Purchase offer deposit.
2. Inspection by certified building inspector.
3. Appraisal fee: Your lending institution may request an appraisal of the property. The cost of this appraisal is your responsibility.
4. Survey fee: If the home you’re purchasing is a resale (as opposed to a newly-built home), your lending institution may request an updated property survey. The cost for this survey will be your responsibility and will range from $700 to $1,000.
5. Mortgage application at your lending institution.
6. 5% GST: this fee applies to newly built homes only, or existing homes that have recently undergone extensive renovations.
7. Legal fees: A lawyer should be involved in every real estate transaction to review all paperwork. Experience and rates offered by lawyers range quite a bit, so shop around before you hire.
8. Homeowner’s insurance: Your home will serve as security against your loan for your financial institution. You will be required to buy insurance in an amount equal to or greater than the mortgage loan.
9. Land transfer (purchase) tax: This tax applies in any situation in which a property changes owners and can vary greatly.
10. Moving expenses.
11. Service charges: Any utilities you arrange for at your new home, such as cable or telephone, may come with an installation fee.
12. Interest adjustments.
13. Renovation of new home: In order to “make it their own,” many new homeowners like to paint or invest in other renovations prior to or upon moving in to their new home. If this is your plan, budget accordingly.
14. Maintenance fees: If you are moving to a new condominium, you will likely be charged a monthly condo fee which covers the costs of common area maintenance.

Please let me know if you have any questions about these expenses when buying a home.

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How to Set an Offer Price

There is no set equation to determine how you’ll reach an offer price. Rather, the process involves a range of research and comparison that will vary with each situation. You’ll need to look at sales of comparable properties, and factor in additional data such as the condition of the property, the current market, and seller circumstances. With this information in hand, you will be able to determine a fair price range and, from there, establish the price you’re willing to offer.

Concentrate on the following areas to help you determine an offer price:

Comparable Sales

  • Compare prices of homes that are similar to the property you’re considering in the following areas: number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, lot size, type of construction, and garage space.

  • The most comprehensive and in-depth information can be accessed through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Your local Cowichan Valley realtor, who will be working closely with you to set your offer price, can help you navigate this service.

Property Condition

  • Observe how the property compares to the rest of the neighbourhood. Is it average, above average, or below average?

  • Look at structural condition: walls, ceilings, windows, floors, doors.

  • Pay close attention to: bathrooms, bedrooms, condition of plumbing and electricity.

  • Also check the fixtures: light switches, doorknobs, drawer handles, etc.

  • What is the condition of the front and back yards? 

Home Improvements

  • Cosmetic changes can be largely ignored, but any major improvements should be taken into account.

  • Take special note of: room additions (especially bedrooms and bathrooms).

  • Items such as swimming pools may be taken into account, but usually won’t affect your offer. Your Realtor can offer your guidance in these matters.

 

Market Conditions

Seller’s Market

A seller’s market is considered a “hot” market. This type of market is created when demand is greater than supply—that is, when the number of Buyers exceeds the number of homes on the market. As a result, these homes usually sell very quickly, and there are often multiple offers. Many homes will sell above the asking price.

Buyer’s Market

A Buyer’s market is a slower market. This type of market occurs when supply is greater than demand, the number of homes exceeding the number of Buyers. Properties are more likely to stay on the market for a longer period of time. Fewer offers will come in, and with less frequency. Prices may even decline during this period. Buyers will have more selection and flexibility in terms of negotiating toward a lower price. Even if your initial offered price is too low, Sellers will be more likely to come back with a counter-offer.

Balanced Market

In a balanced market, supply equals demand, the number of homes on the market roughly equal to the number of buyers. When a market is balanced there aren’t any concrete rules guiding whether a buyer should make an offer at the higher end of his/her range, or the lower end. Prices will be stable, and homes will sell within a reasonable period of time. Buyers will have a decent number of homes to choose from, so sellers may encounter some competition for offers on their home, or none at all.

Comparable sales information helps you establish a price range for the home you’re interested in. Adding in the additional factors mentioned above will guide your decision of whether you consider a “fair” price to be near the upper or lower limit—or the middle—of that range.

Keep in mind, this price should be the one you’d be happy with once all negotiations are said and done. The price you decide to begin with depends on your particular style of negotiation. Most buyers begin the negotiation process with a number lower than the “fair” price they’ve come up with.

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Know the Market before You Buy a Home

The asking prices of most homes on the market indicate the current state of the market and usually mirrors the prices for which other similar homes in the area have recently sold. In deciding upon a selling price, a home-seller must establish a balance between the desire to draw the highest offer and finding a price that will be reasonable enough to attract an appropriate pool of prospects and competitive offers. While most selling agents counsel their clients to consider this equation when pricing their home, keep in mind that some homes are not properly priced.

It’s important to educate yourself about the current market before thinking about buying a home. The market will always influence a property’s value, regardless of the state of a home, or its desirability.

Here are the types of market conditions and how they may affect you.

1. Seller’s Market

A seller’s market is considered a “hot” market. This type of market is created when demand is greater than supply – that is, when the number of buyers exceeds the number of homes on the market. As a result, these homes usually sell very quickly, and there are often multiple offers.

As a buyer, you need to consider that many homes will sell above the asking price. In other words, you may have less room to negotiate, and may encounter competing offers. Though most buyers want to get a home for the lowest price possible, reducing your offer could mean opening the door for another buyer instead.

2. Buyer’s Market

A buyer’s market is a slower market. This type of market occurs when supply is greater than demand, the number of homes exceeding the number of buyers. Properties are more likely to stay on the market for a longer period of time. Fewer offers will come in, and with less frequency. Prices may even decline during this period.

As a buyer, you will have more selection and flexibility in terms of negotiating toward a lower price. Even if your initial offered price is too low, the seller will be more likely to come back with a counter-offer, so you can begin the process of negotiation.

 

3. Balanced Market

In a balanced market, supply equals demand, the number of homes on the market roughly equal to the number of buyers. When a market is balanced there aren’t any concrete rules guiding whether you should make an offer at the higher end of your range, or the lower end. Prices will be stable, and homes will sell within a reasonable period of time. You will have a decent number of homes to choose from and may encounter some competition for offers on the home of your choice, or none at all.

The other main factors that affect market value are:

Before you make an offer to purchase a home, establish whether the current market is a Buyer’s, Seller’s, or Balanced market. Also, evaluate the price similar properties have sold for in the area, and the length of time these properties spent on the market. Determine how the home you’re considering compares to these other sales. Is this one over-priced, under-priced, or a fair price? By establishing this information prior to making an offer, you will be in a position to negotiate the best price for the home and be prepared for any additional opportunities that may come your way.

Keep in mind, a local realtor is trained to provide clients with this information about the market, helping you make the most informed decision possible. The right realtor will guide you through the ups and downs of the market and keep you up-to-date with the types of changes you might expect. These realtor resources and connections will prove to be invaluable as you navigate the Cowichan real estate market.

1. Location

The proximity of the home to amenities such as schools, parks, public transportation, and stores will affect its status on the market. Also, the quality of neighbourhood planning and future plans for development and zoning will influence a home’s current market value, as well as the ways in which it might change.

2. Property

The age, size, layout, style, and quality of construction of the building will all affect a property’s market value, as well as the size, shape, seclusion and landscaping of the yard.

 

3. Condition of the Home

This includes the general condition of the home’s main systems, such as the furnace, central air, electrical system, etc., as well as the appearance and condition of the fixtures, the floor plan of the house, and its first appearances.

4. Comparable Properties

Examine the selling and asking prices of similar homes in the neighbourhood. Ask your local Cowichan Valley realtor to prepare you a general market analysis of the neighbourhood you’re interested in, so you can determine a range of value for a particular property. A market analysis will provide you with a market overview and give you a glimpse at what other similar properties have been selling for in that area.

5. Market Conditions/Economy

The market value of a home is additionally affected by the number of homes currently on the market, the number of people looking to buy property, current mortgage rates, and the condition of the national and local economy.

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7 Things to Look for in a New Neighbourhood

Whether seeking solace, activity, schools, churches, or green space, every homebuyer looks for a different combination of attributes in a new community. Choosing a neighbourhood that suits your needs and wants is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the home buying process; your choice of environment will affect the way you experience your new home.

This is a very personal decision, influenced by countless unique factors colouring your own lives, but you should always keep the following in mind:

1. If you’re considering buying a home in a community that is unfamiliar to you, get to know its layout, offerings, and ambiance. Take some time to walk or drive through the neighbourhood, both during the day and at night, familiarizing yourself with the sights, sounds, and smells.

2. What amenities does the neighbourhood have to offer? Is public transportation readily accessible? Are there schools, churches, parks, or grocery stores within reach? Consider visiting schools in the area if you have children.

3. What is the nature of the job market in the area? Keep in mind that if area employers are producing more jobs, you can expect property values to increase, especially if the jobs offered fall within a higher salary bracket.

4. Speak with the neighbours. Ask questions. They can offer you a wealth of information from an inside perspective.

5. How will you be affected by a new commute to work? Drive the route between the new neighbourhood and your office during the appropriate times to gauge the volume of traffic you could expect to encounter, and the amount of time you’d need to put aside for daily travel.

6. Contact local land-use and zoning officials to determine existing development plans or potential for development in the area. A strong agenda for neighbourhood planning and local zoning will increase the value and draw of a neighbourhood. Keep in mind that any large, tree-covered area may be a target for future development in popular communities.

7. Determine whether financial resources have been put in place to support infrastructure projects in the area. These construction projects might include building, replacing, or improving anything from schools to roads, and are usually part of a city or town’s long-term plan. While disruptive, construction could also be a benefit to your experience of a community, influencing the long-term value of the area.

Please let me know if you have questions.

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Early Preparation for Serious Issues

Every listing agent’s goal is to obtain the best possible offer for their clients. As a rule of thumb, the sooner an offer is made after your home is listed, the better it will be. This is why it’s critical that you take time to prepare your house for listing. Consider it as though you are prepping your home for a “job interview”, you want to ensure everything is in good working order and your home is ready to put it’s best foot forward.

As soon as you decide to list your home, I would suggest working early with your Realtor® to help evaluate your property. Do a top to bottom walk-through to determine what repairs need to be done and any renovations that might be worth investing in. If you are considering any major renovations, your Realtor® will be able to advise you on which ones will provide the greatest return on investment when the house sells.

Obtaining quotes and getting repairs completed before listing is very important – a pre-listing house and/or septic inspection might be a good idea if you are unsure of the condition of your property. Tackling these issues ahead of time early allows you to list with confidence and avoid unexpected ugly surprises midway through a sale when the buyer does their inspections.

A skilled Realtor® will be able to help you identify serious roadblocks to a straightforward and stress-free sale. This can include, but is certainly not limited to, problems such as mold, rodent infestations, water ingress in the crawlspace, a failing septic field, rotten deck boards or railings, aluminum wiring, roof leaks, damaged or leaking siding, or a buried oil tank.

Anything that is a structural, mechanical, or safety issue should definitely be dealt with prior to listing. As a local Duncan realtor, I would advise not moving ahead with listing until you do. If you absolutely cannot hold off until the repairs are made, be upfront and disclose the issues to potential buyers. Depending on the situation, it may not stand in the way of a potential buyer making an offer as long as they know what they’re walking into. On the other hand, not disclosing issues will most certainly lead to problems at some point during the sale. A skilled buyer’s agent will discover these issues and misrepresenting a property or not disclosing a known problem could end a seller up in court.

Make the best move when it comes to choosing your Realtor®. Why would you settle for anything less?

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A Manual to Prepare your Home for Sale

You never get a second chance at a first impression.” We’ve all heard this expression before. And now, while you are preparing your house for sale, it should not be far from your mind.

While logical factors such as price and location narrow the pool of houses a potential buyer will look at, the ultimate decision to buy a particular house is fueled by a mixture of logic and emotion. And emotion often wins out. The same might be said for the process of selling a home. For this reason, real estate agents, when they talk to you about buying real estate, will refer to your purchase as a “home”. When discussing the sale of your current home, however, an agent will refer to it as the “house”. This is a conscious choice. The agent knows that buying a home is often an emotional decision, while, when selling a house, emotion should be separated from the process.

Buyers are searching for a “home”, a place in which they will feel comfortable, secure, and happy, a place in which they can imagine settling down and raising their family. As a seller, your goal is to cultivate these feelings through the property you’re selling. Look at your house as a marketable commodity. A buyer’s emotional response is triggered early, so you want to ensure you have done everything you can to encourage a positive response to your house from the outset.

Within minutes, even seconds, of pulling into your driveway, buyers have formed an impression that they will carry with them through the rest of the showing, and beyond. Keep in mind, this impression will not only influence whether or not they make an offer, but also what they consider to be the value of the property.

If you’ve ever visited model homes, you’re familiar with effective presentation styles. Have you ever walked into one of these homes and immediately begun taking stock, planning how to get your home to look that good? Well, now is the time to take some of these steps. Of course, there are ways to achieve the same effect in your own home without incurring model home costs.

When homes create this immediate type of emotional appeal, they tend to sell quickly—and for more money. Use the following step-by-step guide to get your house into selling shape before you put the property on the market, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful sale!

Outside the House

Work your way from the outside in. It is essential that your home possess a certain “drive-up appeal.” Remember, a potential buyer’s first impression of your house is formed while s/he is still sitting in the realtor’s car. So, first you need to view your house from this perspective. Go stand on the opposite curb and observe your property. Compare it to surrounding properties. Concentrate on the following areas:

Landscaping

How does your landscaping measure up compared to the rest of the neighbourhood? If you guess it would rate below-average, make a few adjustments. You might want to consider buying some bushes and planting them around the property. Do not buy trees, however, mature trees are expensive, so you will not see a return on your investment. And immature trees don’t tend to significantly improve the immediate appearance of your home.

If the problem with your yard isn’t a case of too little greenery, but rather too much, get out the pruning shears. The purpose of landscaping is to complement the home, not hide it. Overgrown shrubs should be sheared to a height near the bottom of the windows. Remove any ivy clinging to the side of the house. Tree limbs should be high enough that you’re able to walk beneath. Trim any branches that bar the way.

Your lawn should be freshly cut and watered, and an even colour. If there are brown spots, make sure you begin to remedy this well in advance of putting the house on the market. You may want to re-sod areas, and you need to make sure these spots are given enough time to grow, so they will match the existing lawn. Also, if you decide to use fertilizer, you’ll want to allow enough time for it to take effect. Rake up any leaves or grass cuttings. Planting a few flowers is an easy way to add colour and vibrancy to your yard, enhancing the first impression of your home. Invest in a full flat of mature, colourful flowers, such as petunias or periwinkles, which last the length of the growing season. Do not buy bulbs or seeds as they won’t necessarily grow enough by the time you begin showing to achieve the desired effect. If you don’t have an area in which to plant flowers, consider purchasing a few flower pots for your porch and planting flowers or blooming plants. If you have a pool, keep it sparkling and leaf-free.

House Exterior

When you view your house from across the street, does it appear weathered or faded? If so, it’s probably time to treat it to a fresh coat of paint. This is usually a sound investment; new paint can do wonders to increase a home’s perceived value.

Stay away from unusual or loud colours. The new colour should fit in with surrounding houses, and complement the style and structure of your house. Examine the roof closely. Old or leaking roofs should be replaced. If there are leaks, you’ll have to disclose this detail to the home buyer anyway, and they will want it replaced. If there isn’t any apparent damage, however, wait for word from the home inspector before making repairs.

The Front Door and Porch

The front door and surrounding area should look particularly fresh and welcoming, as this will be the buyer’s first up-close impression as they enter the house. If you paint nothing else, at least give the door a new coat. Replace the doorbell if it is broken and polish the door fixture until it gleams. Wash the mail box. Keep the porch swept and buy a new plush doormat. All of these little things will contribute to the overall effect of a well cared-for and welcoming home.

Ensure the lock works smoothly and the key fits properly. When a home buyer visits your house, the Realtor will open the front door with a key. You don’t want the buyers’ first experience to be of waiting on the doorstep while the realtor fumbles with the lock.

Depersonalize

This should be one of your first steps when you begin preparing your house to sell. Over the years, a home inevitably becomes tattooed with the owners’ lives, covered with touches that have made it that special place for you. At this point, however, you want buyers to recognize it as a property they could make into their unique place. When a homebuyer walks into a room and sees these personalizing touches—such as photos on the walls or trophy collections—their ability to picture their own lives in this room is jarred, impairing a positive emotional response. So, your first step will be to remove all the family photos, the trophies, collectible items, and souvenirs. Pack them all together, so you’ll have everything you need at your disposal when it comes time to personalize your new home. For the time being, rent a storage space and keep these items there. Do not simply transfer these items to another place in your house. Do not hoard them away in a closet, basement, attic, or garage, as the next step in preparing your home is to minimize clutter—and these areas of your house will all be targeted.

Remove all Clutter

The next step on the list is to purge your house of the excess items that have accumulated over the years. This is the hardest part for many people, as they have an emotional investment in many of these things. When you have lived in a house for several years, a build-up of personal effects occurs that is often so gradual that you don’t notice the space is becoming cluttered. If you need to, bring in an objective friend to help point out areas that could stand to be cleared. Try to stand back yourself and see your house as a buyer might. Survey shelves, countertops, drawers, closets, the basement—all places where clutter often accumulates—to determine what needs to go. Use a system to help you decide: get rid of all items, for example, you haven’t used in the past five years, and pack up everything that you haven’t used in the past year. Although getting rid of some things might be hard, try to do it without conscience or remorse.

You’ll be forced to go through this process anyway when you move, and with each box you eliminate, your storage space—and the room in general—begins to look larger. We’ve broken down the process into specific areas of your house to help you concentrate your efforts:

Kitchen

The kitchen is an ideal place to begin, as it’s easy to spot and eliminate the type of clutter that tends to accumulate here. Homebuyers will open your drawers and cabinets as they’ll want to check if there will be enough room for their own belongings. If the drawers appear cluttered and crowded, this will give them the impression there is not enough space.

  • First of all, remove everything from the counters, even the toaster (the toaster can be stored in a cabinet, and brought out when needed).

  • Clean out all the cabinets and drawers. Put aside all of the dishes, pots and pans that you rarely use, then box them and put them in the storage unit you have rented (again, not in the basement or a closet).

  • If you, like many people, have a “junk drawer,” clear this out.

  • Get rid of the food items in the pantry that you don’t use. Begin to use up existing food—let what you have on your shelves dictate your menus from now on.

  • Remove all extra cleaning supplies from the shelves beneath the sink. Make sure this area is as empty as possible. You should thoroughly clean this spot as well, and check for any water stains that might indicate leaking pipes. Buyers will look in most cabinets, and will notice any tell-tale signs of damage.

Closets

  • Go through all clothes and shoes. If you don’t wear something anymore, get rid of it. We all have those clothes, too, that we wear only once in awhile, but can’t bear to give away. Box these items and keep them in the storage unit for a few months.

  • Go through all other personal items in the closet. Be ruthless. Weed out everything you don’t absolutely need.

  • Remove any unsightly boxes from the back of the closet. Put them in storage if need be. Get everything off the floor. Closets should look as though they have enough room to hold additional items.

Furniture

  • You may want to tour a few model homes in order to gauge the type of furniture chosen by design teams to create a spacious, yet comfortable atmosphere. Note how that furniture is arranged to cultivate a certain feeling.

  • After having armed yourself with some ideas, stand back and look at each of your rooms. What will you need to remove? Remember, most homes contain too much furniture for showings. These are items that you’ve grown comfortable with and that have become incorporated into your everyday routine. However, each room should offer a sense of spaciousness, so some furniture will likely need to be placed in storage.

Storage Areas

  • Basements, garages, attics, and sheds: these are the “junkyard” areas of any given home. It is possible to arrange simple clutter into a certain order, but junk is sent packing to these often-hidden rooms. First, determine which of these boxes and items you actually need. Can some of it be sent to the dump once and for all?

  • Hold a Garage Sale. You’ve heard the saying, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” Let these items go to a better home.

  • Transfer some items to the rental storage unit. You’ll want to clear the storage areas in your house as much as possible, in order for them to appear spacious to potential home-buyers. Buyers want the reassurance that their own excess belongings will find places for storage in their new home.

Inside the House

Once you’ve cleared the house of excess items, you’ll have room to work on other areas.

Walls and Ceiling

Examine all the ceilings and walls for water stains or dirt. We don’t often look closely at the walls that surround us, so be careful—there could be residual stains from leaks that have long been fixed, or an accumulation of dirt in an area you hadn’t noticed.

Painting the walls may be the best investment you can make when preparing your home to sell. You can do it yourself, and relatively inexpensively. Remember, the colours you choose should appeal to the widest range of buyers, not just to your own personal taste. A shade of off-white is the best bet for most rooms, as it makes the space appear larger and bright.

Carpet and Flooring

Does your carpet appear old, or worn in areas? Is it an outdated colour or pattern? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you should consider replacing it. You can find replacement carpeting that is relatively inexpensive. And always opt for neutral colours.

Any visibly broken floor tiles should be replaced. But make sure you don’t spend too much on these replacements. The goal isn’t to re-vamp the entire home, but, rather, to avoid causing any negative impressions due to noticeable damage or wear around the house.

Doors and Windows

Check the entire house for any cracked or chipped window panes. If they are damaged in any way, replace them. Test all windows, as well, to ensure they open and close easily. Try spraying WD40 on any with which you’re having trouble. This should loosen them up.

The same can be done with sticking or creaking doors. A shot of WD40 on the hinges should make the creak disappear. Check to make sure each doorknob turns smoothly and polish it to gleaming.

Odour Check

Begin by airing out the house. Chances are, you’d be the last person to notice any strange or unpleasant smell that may be immediately apparent to visitors. If you smoke indoors, you’ll want to minimize the smell before you show your home. Take your cigarettes outside for a period of time before you begin showing. Ozone sprays also help eliminate those lingering odours without leaving a masking, perfumed smell.

Be careful if you have a pet. You may have become used to the particular smell of your cat or dog. Make sure litter boxes are kept clean. Keep your dog outdoors as much as possible. You may want to intermittently sprinkle your carpets with carpet freshener as well.

Plumbing and Fixtures

All sink fixtures should look shiny and fresh. Buy new ones if scrubbing fails to get them into shape. Replacing them can be done fairly easily and inexpensively. Check to make sure all hot and cold faucets are easy to turn and that none of the faucets leaks. If you do find a leaking faucet, change the washer. Again, this is an easy and inexpensive procedure.

Finally, check the water pressure of each faucet, and look for any stains on the porcelain of the sinks or tubs.

Once you’ve covered all these bases, your house will be in prime shape for its time on the market. Congratulations, you’re ready to begin showing!

Please get in touch if you need help getting started with this process.


Read

Drive-Up Appeal – Get your Property Ready to Show

When preparing your property to show, work your way from the outside in. It is essential that your home possess a certain “drive up appeal.” Remember, a potential buyer’s first impression of your house is formed while s/he is still sitting in the realtor’s car. So, first you need to view your house from this perspective. Go stand on the opposite curb and observe your property. Compare it to surrounding properties. Concentrate on the following three areas.

1. Landscaping

How does your landscaping measure up compared to the rest of the neighbourhood? If you guess it would rate below-average, make a few adjustments. You might want to consider buying some bushes and planting them around the property. Do not buy trees, however, as mature trees are expensive, so you will not see a return on your investment. And immature trees don’t tend to significantly improve the immediate appearance of your home.

If the problem with your yard isn’t a case of too little greenery, but rather too much, get out the pruning shears. The purpose of landscaping is to complement the home, not hide it. Overgrown shrubs should be sheared to a height near the bottom of the windows. Remove any ivy clinging to the side of the house. Tree limbs should be high enough that you’re able to walk beneath. Trim any branches that bar the way.

Your lawn should be freshly cut and watered, and an even colour. If there are brown spots, make sure you begin to remedy this well in advance of putting the house on the market. You may want to re-sod areas, and you need to make sure these spots are given enough time to grow, so they will match the existing lawn. Also, if you decide to use fertilizer, you’ll want to allow enough time for it to take effect. Rake up any leaves or grass cuttings.

Planting a few flowers is an easy way to add colour and vibrancy to your yard, enhancing the first impression of your home. Invest in a full flat of mature, colourful flowers, such as petunias or periwinkles, which last the length of the growing season. Do not buy bulbs or seeds—they won’t necessarily grow enough by the time you begin showing to achieve the desired effect. If you don’t have an area in which to plant flowers, consider purchasing a few flower pots for your porch and planting flowers or blooming plants. If you have a pool, keep it sparkling and leaf-free.

 

2. House Exterior

When you view your house from across the street, does it appear weathered or faded? If so, it’s probably time to treat it to a fresh coat of paint. This is usually a sound investment; new paint can do wonders to increase a home’s perceived value. Stay away from unusual or loud colours. The new colour should fit in with surrounding houses, and complement the style and structure of your house.

Examine the roof closely. Old or leaking roofs should be replaced. If there are leaks, you’ll have to disclose this detail to the home buyer anyway, and they will want it replaced. If there isn’t any apparent damage, however, wait for word from the home inspector before making repairs.

3. The Front Door and Porch

The front door and surrounding area should look particularly fresh and welcoming, as this will be the buyer’s first up-close impression as they enter the house. If you paint nothing else, at least give the door a new coat. Replace the doorbell if it is broken and polish the door fixture until it gleams. Wash the mail box. Keep the porch swept and buy a new plush door mat. All of these little things will contribute to the overall effect of a well cared-for and welcoming home.

Ensure the lock works smoothly and the key fits properly. When a home buyer visits your house, the realtor will open the front door with a key. You don’t want the buyers’ first experience to be of waiting on the doorstep while the realtor fumbles with the lock.


Read

Diligent Preparation When Buying a Home

Imagine being in the market for a new home – you walk into a place and everything seems perfect. The home checks all the boxes: right number of bedrooms; adequate kitchen and living space; great storage space; and is in overall good condition.

Yet you still have many unanswered questions such as:

  • Has the municipality issued an occupancy certificate for the home?

  • Where are the property lines?

  • What do the bylaws and zoning allow for if I want to make changes to the property in the future?

  • Was a proper permit issued for the renovations done on the home?

  • Where is the septic field?

  • Has it ever been updated or serviced?

  • Is the suite legal?

  • Does the garage the former homeowner added built to code?

  • Does the wood stove have a WETT Certificate?

  • How old is the roof?

  • Has the property had any issues with flooding?

  • Have there ever been any problems with the foundation?

  • Is the home still under warranty?

As a potential buyer, how confident would you be to make an offer without having your questions answered first?

As the listing agent, I believe it's my responsibility to anticipate and research any questions a potential buyer may have about the property before they even realize it. When potential buyers move their home search from looking at listings online to viewing homes in person, chances are they are ready to make a decision on the next place they’ll call home. The more information I can provide at this point, the greater the likelihood of a favourable offer being made and your home being sold.

Make the best move when it comes to choosing your Realtor®. Why would you settle for anything less?

Read
MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.