There are few things more beautiful than cut flowers in a vase. They instantly brighten any room. That is, of course, until they wilt and die. So how do you make cut flowers last as long as possible? Here are some ideas:
- Cut the bottom of the stems before you put the flowers in the vase. An angled cut is best as this will enable the flower to draw in more water.
- Add a fertilizer to the water. Most flower shops include a pouch with the order. Follow the directions carefully. Don’t use too much.
- Make sure the vase is high enough to support the flowers. Too much strain on the stems will cause the flowers to die sooner.
- After a couple of days, re-snip the stems. This will add an additional day or two to the life of the flowers.
- Flowers last longer if you put them in the fridge (in water) overnight. That’s why florists store cut flowers in cool rooms.
Finally, watch the water level and top off as required. Older cut flowers will die quickly when starved of water — even for just a couple of hours.
Do you ever wonder how most people find the homes they eventually buy? You might imagine them driving by a “For Sale” sign or seeing a home for sale in the newspaper and then calling to enquire.
Of course, many buyers find out about listed properties that way. But, according to research by the National Association of Realtors, there are many other — sometimes surprising — ways buyers find their next dream home.
- 88% of buyers find a home with the help of a real estate agent.
- 90% of buyers search online as part of the home buying process. (Such as viewing a property’s profile on the agent’s website.)
- 69% of buyers searching for a home using Google, use a specific local term, such as “Whitby-south homes for sale”.
- 29-46% of buyers attend an Open House as part of their home hunting activities.
Overall, the research shows that buyers are using a multitude of ways — combining online and offline methods — to find homes.
What does all this mean to you? If means that if you’re preparing your home for sale, you need to ensure your marketing plan takes into account all the ways buyers are finding properties — so you can be sure that they will find yours.
Looking for a REALTOR® who knows how to market your home for maximum exposure? Call today.
More fires start in the kitchen than in any other room. Those fires can be expensive; since even a minor incident, with no injuries, can result in significant damage. That’s why it’s important to keep up with the latest in fire prevention.
The most recent research tells us:
• Never leave cooking food unattended. Doing so is the number one cause of kitchen fires.
• Make sure cooking appliances, especially deep fryers, are safety certified by the appropriate government agency.
• When using oil in a frying pan, always heat slowly at no more than a medium heat setting.
• Always turn off stove burners and other cooking appliances immediately after cooking.
• Never attempt to put out a grease fire with water. Use baking soda or a fire extinguisher.
• Never remove or cover up a smoke detector due to nuisance alarms. The one alarm that isn’t a nuisance may save your life.
Finally, experts say that if you can’t put out a fire immediately, get everyone out of the home and call emergency services.
As you’re probably aware, the list price you set for your property has an impact on how quickly it sells — and how much you earn on the sale.
What you may not realize is just how significant an impact it has. Consider the following examples.
You price your property well above its current market value. As a result, many buyers don’t bother to see it because it’s outside of their price range. Those who do see it are confused by the high price tag, (and may even be suspicious.) They may wonder, “What’s going on?”
In this scenario, the home will likely languish on the market for weeks or even months. You might even have to lower the price dramatically to re-ignite interest.
You price your property just a couple of percentage points lower than what is necessary to gain the interest of qualified buyers. That might not seem like much of a problem. How much can a couple of percentage points matter?
Those points matter a lot.
On a $400,000 property, pricing your home just 2% lower than necessary could cost you $8,000 on the sale. That’s a serious amount of money!
So, as you can see, pricing your home right is serious business. Fortunately, a good REALTOR® knows how to set the right price.
Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call today.
When you’re out-of-town, there are plenty of kennels and other facilities that will mind your dog or cat. In fact, the pet-care business is booming! However, the same options aren’t available for your houseplants. So what do you do?
First, keep in mind that plants can go for several days or even a couple of weeks without water. This frequently happens in their natural habitats. So if you’re gone for just a few days, your flora will probably be fine.
Flowering plants tend to need the most water. Give them an extra dose just before you leave. Also, make sure they are in indirect, rather than direct sunlight. That will help them conserve water.
If you’re going to be away for a week or more, consider one of the several products on the market that water plants automatically. Many of these allow you to adjust how much water each plant gets — and when.
You’ll find plenty of do-it-yourself instructions for making your own automatic waterer on the internet, from plastic cups with tiny holes in the bottom to upside-down bottles with wicks. These might work, but you’ll want to test them first.
Of course, your best option might be to have a friend or trusted neighbour take care of the plants for you. Just be sure to give them clear instructions.
Your houseplants will thank you.
When you make an offer on a home, it’s a smart idea to have a professional home inspector check it out from top to bottom. This inspection will ensure that the property doesn’t have any unexpected “issues”. After all, you don’t want to buy a home only to discover that the roof needs to be replaced, immediately, for thousands of dollars.
That being said, you might question whether you really need to invest the few hundred dollars it costs for a professional home inspection. “The home we want to buy looks like it’s in very good shape,” you might be thinking. “I can’t see anything wrong with it.”
However, a professional home inspector can see things you can’t. When you view a property that’s on the market, you might be able to notice obvious issues, like a crack in the foundation or a dripping faucet. If you’re experienced with home maintenance, you might even notice roofing tiles that look like they’re overdue for replacement.
But you won’t pick up all the issues a home inspector can.
A home inspector will, for example, use a special device to check for moisture build-up in the washrooms – which can be an indication of mould. He or she will also inspect wiring to make sure everything is safe and compliant with the building code.
That’s not all.
Like a determined detective, a home inspector will investigate the property’s structure, electrical and plumbing systems, insulation, and other components — and then report the findings to you.
In the end, a professional home inspection gives you peace-of-mind and protects your investment. So getting one is highly recommended — even for recently built homes.
A good REALTOR® can recommend a trusted home inspector for you.
Looking for more ideas on making smart decisions when buying a home?
Many homeowners think there’s not much they can do about telephone, heating, water and other utility expenses. Sure, you may grumble about a high heating bill one month, but what can you do about it?
Turns out, you can do plenty. There are several ways to reduce monthly utility costs that can save you tens or even hundreds of dollars. For example:
- Shop around for a better phone plan. Then contact your phone company. They might match the rates.
- Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. You likely don’t need tap water to be that hot.
- Clean the screen on your outside air conditioning unit regularly. (Gently with the water hose.) Dirt and leaves can build up on it, reducing the unit’s efficiency.
- Leverage the sun. Open curtains in the winter to gain heat. Block direct sunlight in summer to keep the cool air inside.
- Scrutinize your bill. There may be extras you’re paying for that you don’t need.
- Play with the thermostat. Experiment with setting the temperature a couple of degrees lower. You might not notice any difference.
It’s worth paying attention to your utility costs. Just a few smart moves can save you some serious money.
One of the most important decisions you make when selling your home is setting the listing price. That can be tricky. After all, if you price your property too low, you leave money on the table — perhaps thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if you price your home too high, many buyers won’t even bother to see it, believing it is too expensive.
Even with that reality, there are some sellers who contemplate setting a high listing price in the hopes of a windfall. They want some unsuspecting buyer to fall in love with the home and buy it — even though it’s overpriced.
That rarely, if ever, happens.
Instead, the listing often languishes on the market because its listing price is conspicuously much higher than its market value.
Think about it. If two similar homes, side-by-side, are for sale, and one is priced $40,000 higher than the other, wouldn’t you wonder what was going on? That’s exactly what the market thinks. “Why is that home priced so high?”
Of course, many buyers, who might otherwise be interested in the property, won’t even consider seeing it, simply because it’s outside their price range.
It gets worse. When an overpriced home sits on the market with no offers for several weeks, the price will often need to be adjusted down. That helps the situation a little. However, you’ve lost the excitement created by a “new listing.” Yours is now an old listing struggling to get attention.
There’s a better way…
Setting your list price at or near the market value is much more likely to generate interest from qualified buyers and maximize how much you make on your home.
That market value may even be higher than you think!
Interested in finding out how much? Call today.
You may love animals, but with the exception of your family pets, you don’t want them in your home. Here are some tips for keeping the wildlife around your property where it belongs: outside.
- Don’t place bird feeders too close to your windows. Doing so may cause birds to associate a window with food and therefore try to peck their way inside.
- Make sure window screens are secure. If you can push a screen loose with your hand, so can a bird or other animal.
- Check screens on dryer vents and chimneys. If they are damaged, fix or replace them.
- To determine how animals are entering your home, stuff wadded paper in the suspected entry point. If the paper is disturbed the next day, you’ll know where they got in.
- Never leave food outside, unattended. After a barbeque, for example, take all remaining food inside.
If you do find an animal in your home, never try to pick it up. It may bite or have rabies. Instead, call a professional.
When would you talk to a car salesperson? Probably only once you’re ready to buy a new car. You would do some initial research (perhaps on the internet), get an idea of what you want, and then go to the dealership to meet a salesperson, test drive the car and make the purchase.
Although that approach may work when you’re buying a car, it’s not the best approach when it comes to real estate.
You see, successfully buying or selling a home requires a lot of planning and legwork. You want the process to go smoothly, the right decisions to be made, and the best possible deal to be negotiated.
After all, this is the purchase and/or sale of your home!
So, the best time to talk to a REALTOR® is as early in the process as possible.
In fact, even if you’re just thinking of buying or selling — and simply want to explore the possibility of making a move sometime this year — you should have a conversation with a good REALTOR®.
A REALTOR® will answer your questions, provide you with the information and insights you need, help you avoid costly mistakes, and make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
When you are ready to buy or sell, having worked with a REALTOR® early in the process will help ensure you get what you want.
So talk to a good REALTOR® when:
- You have a question about the local market.
- You want to know what your home might sell for today.
- You’re interested in checking out homes currently available on the market.
- You’re in the midst of deciding whether or not to make a move.
- You’ve decided to buy or sell.
Getting a good REALTOR® on your side early in the game makes everything a lot easier for you.
Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call today.
You’ve no doubt noticed the occasional news report about a product being recalled for safety reasons. For example, a car model with a brake problem, or a children’s toy that, under some circumstances, may cause injury.
You may not know that these news reports are merely the tip of the iceberg. For each product recall you hear about in the media, there are dozens that get little, if any, publicity.
That means there may be products in your home that have been recalled — and you don’t even know about it. It’s a scary thought.
How do you find out about recalled products that may affect you? Here are two tips.
- Always complete the registration that comes with many products. This is typically done by mailing in a registration card or filling out an online form. When you register, you’ll be alerted by the manufacturer if the product is recalled for any reason.
- Both Canada and the United States have agencies that list recalled products on their websites. In Canada it’s the Healthy Canadians website at www.healthycanadians.gc.ca. In the United States it’s the Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.CPSP.gov. It’s a good habit to check these sites every season.
If you discover that a product in your home has been recalled, contact the manufacturer immediately. Never assume that the reason for the recall won’t apply to you.
When you put your home up for sale, you want it to look its best to potential buyers. That’s why you clean, tidy and de-clutter every room.
Some sellers, however, miss the backyard. You need to pay just as much attention to that space as you do to the interior of your home. The backyard is as important a living space as the family room. To some buyers, even more.
Buyers want to see an attractive backyard space, with the grass cut and the hedges trimmed. The more neat and tidy you can make it, the better. Be sure to sweep walkways and wipe down patio furniture.
Also, watch out for the following things that buyers do not want to see:
- Bags of garage and other waste.
- Doggie do-do. (Be sure to stoop and scoop!)
- Rakes and other tools piled in the corner.
- Cluttered and disorganized storage sheds, pool huts and other backyard structures.
- Weeds in the flower beds.
- Items stored underneath the deck.
- Hoses not stowed neatly.
- Electrical outlets and water faucets that don’t work.
These are not difficult issues to fix. Doing so will positively impact the impression the buyer gets of your backyard.
Do you have a backyard that shows particularly well in the summer? Here’s a tip: Take pictures. Those photos will help buyers be able to appreciate how it looks should you list your home in the winter.
Want more tips on making your home show well so that it sells fast? Call today.
If you see a haze of condensation on your window, should you be concerned? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on a number of factors.
First of all, an occasional build-up of condensation is normal and often the result of fluctuating humidity in the home. Usually, it’s nothing to worry about. If you’re using a humidifier, try adjusting the levels. If the humidity is being generated naturally, try placing a dehumidifier nearby. Also, remove any plants and firewood from the area, as they can release a surprising volume of moisture into the air.
Do you see moisture in between the panes of glass that make up the window? If so, that means the seal has failed and moisture has crept in. Double and triple pane windows often contain a gas (argon, for example) that boosts the insulating qualities of the window. When the seal fails, the gas disappears, making the glass colder and often allowing condensation to creep in. Eventually, you’ll want to get it replaced.
If you see moisture build-up anywhere on the frame of the window, particularly at the joints, that could be a sign of water leaking through. That’s an issue you should get checked out immediately by a window contractor.
If you take care to price your home correctly — that is, at a price that is in line with what similar properties in the area have sold for recently — then you have a good chance of selling it at or near your asking price.
That doesn’t mean you won’t get a low-ball offer. You might. So what do you do when that happens?
First, understand that the buyer may not necessarily be trying to steal away your home at a bargain-basement price. He might simply be mistaken about its true market value. Of course, he might also be coming in at a low price in the hopes he’ll get lucky.
You will never actually know the buyer’s motives. So it would be a mistake to get angry or dismiss the offer out-of-hand. That low-ball offer might end up being the beginning of a negotiation that results in you selling your home at a good price.
Your first step is to work with your REALTOR® to determine:
- How serious the buyer is.
- How qualified the buyer is. (For example, does he have a pre-approved mortgage?)
- How amenable the buyer is to a counter-offer that reflects the true market value of your home.
- What that counter-offer should be.
This isn’t an easy process. It takes knowledge and experience to get it right. That’s why working with a good REALTOR® is essential.
Looking for a REALTOR® who is an expert at this stuff? Call today
There are many reasons why the air quality in your home may not be at its best. A faulty furnace or an aged carpet are just two potential culprits. Until you get those issues addressed, how do you make your indoor air healthier — today?
Here are some ideas:
- Check the furnace filter. This is one of the most overlooked maintenance items in the home. Any furnace repair person can tell you stories about filters they’ve seen caked in dust. Make sure those aren’t yours. Air passes through those filters before circulating throughout your home. Replacing a filter takes less than five minutes.
- Clean the drains. Drains are a surprisingly common source of odour in the home. Most people only clean them when they’re clogged, but they should be flushed thoroughly with a good-quality cleaner at least once a season.
- Turn on the bathroom fan. Not only do bathroom fans remove odour, they also reduce moisture build-up. About 50% of air pollutants originate from some type of moisture; mould being the worst. Professionals recommend you keep the bathroom fan on for at least 30 minutes after a shower.
- Clean your doormat. Even if your doormat doesn’t smell, it can be a source of air pollutants. When people wipe their shoes, they transfer pesticides and other outside ground pollutants from their shoes to your mat.
Of course, you can always open a window. That’s the most popular way to freshen the air, and it works.
Say you’re viewing a home and are impressed with how it looks. The walls are freshly painted. Everything seems bright and new. You’re considering making an offer.
Then, while standing on a mat in the kitchen, you hear a squeak below your feet. You lift the mat and see that some tiles are broken. Obviously the mat was there to, literally, cover up that defect.
A few broken tiles are not a big deal. But now you’re thinking, “What else might be wrong with this house?”
There’s no reason to worry that every home will have maintenance issues hidden from view. However, it’s smart to do your due diligence to ensure the home you’re considering is truly as good as it looks.
One way is to have a professional home inspector check out the property as a condition of your purchase offer. He or she will inspect the home from top to bottom, inside and out, and point out any issues you should address.
It’s also smart to ask questions. Find out the age of certain features, such as the roof, furnace, and appliances. Ask about any recent renovations, and determine whether they were done by a professional or by the homeowner.
Most importantly, work with a good REALTOR® who can provide you with information on the property that you would have difficulty getting on your own. Your REALTOR® has a stake in making sure you buy a home with your eyes wide open — knowing all the potential maintenance issues you’re likely to encounter.
Want to talk to a good REALTOR®? Call today.
If you own a car, you know there’s more to the cost-of-ownership than just finance payments and gas. You also need to budget for maintenance and repairs. If your car is older, those costs are going to be higher. That’s just common sense.
The same is true of your home. It’s wise to budget for anticipated repairs and maintenance. Otherwise, you might be caught by surprise when you find that your furnace stops working and needs to be replaced. That can easily be a four-figure expense.
Experts recommend that you set aside 1% of the value of your home for repairs and maintenance. For a $500,000 property, for example, that would be $5,000. That is, of course, merely a rule of thumb. If your home is older, you may need to budget more.
Another recommended method is to budget $1 a square foot. If you have a 2,500 square foot home, that would be a budget of $2,500. Again, that number would need to be higher for older properties.
When budgeting, consider things that are getting old and will likely need to be replaced within the next three years. Examples include roof shingles, furnace, A/C unit, deck, fence, plumbing, and windows. Depending on the size and model, a new A/C unit will cost at least $5,000. Anticipating that expense will help you plan accordingly and avoid the shock of an unpleasant and costly surprise.
Keep in mind that budgeting $2,000 for repairs and maintenance doesn’t mean you’ll actually spend that money this year. But, if needed, the budget will be there, and that’s peace-of-mind.
There are many reasons why you may need to sell your home quickly: a sudden job relocation; a change in family situation; or perhaps an opportunity to purchase a new home that you just can’t pass up.
Whatever the reason, this strategy will help when you need to sell fast. It’s called the “3 Up” strategy.
- Fix it up.
- Clean it up.
- Spruce it up.
First, you need to fix it up. That simply means getting things repaired around your property, such as a broken floor tile in the kitchen or a sticking patio door that’s difficult to open and close. Maintenance issues like these distract buyers from the appealing qualities of your home. Fortunately, repairs can usually be done quickly.
Second, clean it up. Obviously, when your home is clean and tidy it’s going to look its best. You also want to eliminate as much clutter as possible. You don’t need to make every room look like a magazine cover — but that’s a good attitude to have when prepping your home for a quick sale!
Finally, spruce it up. That means making any quick improvements that are going to make your home even more appealing. It might mean replacing the kitchen counters or giving the main rooms a fresh coat of paint.
Of course, the number one strategy for getting that SOLD sign on your front yard is to select a great REALTOR®.
Looking for a great REALTOR®? Call today
When you purchase a home, you’re hoping it will continually go up in value — just like a good investment.
However, there’s something else that you want to see go up in value as well: the neighbourhood. In fact, the neighbourhood plays a key role in what the home will be worth in years to come. If the neighbourhood goes down in terms of desirability, so will the market value of the home.
That’s why, when shopping for a new home, it’s important to get a feel for the value of the neighbourhood, and whether or not it’s on the upswing.
How do you do that? One way is to simply take a walk. Look at the properties. Are they well maintained? Is the landscaping groomed and attractive? Those are signs of “pride of ownership” — a clear indication that owners value their homes and the neighbourhood.
Another way is to do some research. Has crime gone up in the neighbourhood? Are there improvements planned, such as new parks? Is the neighbourhood attracting the kind of people you want as neighbours? How does the neighbourhood school rank?
Some of this information may be difficult to get on your own. A good REALTOR® can help you. Call today.
When you’re thinking of selling your home and buying another, you face the inevitable question: Should I list my property first or buy my new home first?
Let’s take a look at both options.
If you attempt to buy a property before listing your home, you run into a couple of challenges.
First, sellers may not take you seriously as a potential buyer. After all, you haven’t put your own home up for sale. As far as they’re concerned, you might merely be testing the market.
Second, your property might not sell as quickly as you thought it would. If there is an early closing date on the home you purchased, you might end up owning, and paying a mortgage on both properties, at least until your home sells.
If, on the other hand, you list your property before buying a new home, sellers will know you’re serious. That puts you in a competitive position in the event of multiple offers.
Also, if your home sells quickly, you’ll have the peace-of-mind of knowing exactly how much of a new home you can afford. You’ll be able to shop with confidence.
Of course, like the first option, there is a chance that the closing dates won’t match and you’ll end up owning two properties for a period of time. However, solutions such as bridge financing are available to help.
So, there is no perfect answer. A lot depends on the state of the local market.
Looking for a good REALTOR® who can help you decide which is the best move for you? Call today.