When you’re shopping for a new home, you probably want the property to be as “move in ready” as possible. That way, you can... well... just move in!
However, there are a lot of fantastic properties on the market that need some work. For example, you might see a home that has everything you need, but the kitchen is long overdue for a renovation. Or, you might view a property that requires a lot of repairs and painting — tasks that, at first glance, seem overwhelming.
You don’t want to just pass on a property that might be a great buy. On the other hand, you don’t want to purchase a home, only to end up with more renovations, repairs and expenses than you anticipated.
What’s the solution? Here’s an idea.
When you view a home that needs work, make a note of exactly what needs to be done. Stick to the important “must have” improvements and leave “nice to have” improvements for a later time. Chances are, you’ll identify just one or two projects — such as “paint all the walls” or “replace the countertops in the kitchen”.
Once you have that list, you’ll be in a better position to determine how long the work will likely take and the approximate cost. This will give you some needed perspective on whether or not to buy the home.
If a home you’re considering needs $15,000 in work that can probably be completed within two months, that might make the property worth buying. In fact, it probably would!
So, when you see an otherwise ideal home that needs some work, don’t let your imagination make that work into more than it is. Take notes and get estimates.
In the business world, a phrase that’s often used is ROI or Return On Investment. It refers to the regular gain (or loss) you’re getting from a particular asset relative to its cost.
When it comes to your home, the gain may be more than financial. It may include the benefit of the lifestyle it gives you. For example, a spacious backyard deck pays off in countless pleasant Saturdays with friends and family. A home’s location near convenient commuting routes means less stress getting to and from work.
Lifestyle factors are important, not only when considering where you’re living now, but also when considering where you think you’d like to live in the future.
That’s why it’s a good idea to do a Lifestyle Assessment regularly. The exercise is simple. Make a list of all the lifestyle characteristics you want in a home, as well as a neighbourhood. Think about how much room you need, the kind of neighbourhood you want to live in, your hobbies and interests, what’s important to have nearby (such as schools), and so forth.
The next step is to prioritize. Move items on your list around so that the most important lifestyle factors are at the top.
Finally, review the list and check off those lifestyle factors your home is currently providing.
If you’re able to check off most (ideally, all) of the items at the top of your list, you’re in pretty good shape. Your current home is probably giving you the lifestyle you want.
But if some important lifestyle factors are unchecked, it might be worth considering whether buying a new home will give you a better “Lifestyle ROI”.
If, after doing this exercise, you’re curious about how to get into your ideal home, call me.
How do you find the home of your dreams within a price range you can afford? Most buyers start by making a “wish list”. But, it’s easy to get frustrated when you have a long wish list and expect you’ll be able to find a home with every one of those features. You might, for example, have “mature backyard tree” as number 23 on your list, and become disappointed when an otherwise ideal property doesn’t have one.
But when you really think about it, your ideal home probably comes down to just three or four core characteristics. For example:
1. Nice, safe, family-oriented neighbourhood.
2. Good-sized backyard.
3. Four bedrooms and two baths.
Sure, there might be other features you were hoping for, such as “move in ready”, or that big tree, but your “big three” are the ones you really can’t do without.
So, when you’re shopping for a new home, yes, definitely make a long list of features and characteristics you desire. After all, there might be properties available on the market that check off most, if not all, of those boxes.
But also circle those three or four characteristics that are at the core of what you want. That will help make your property search much more focused and you’ll be more likely to find your next dream home.
Another advantage of coming up with your big three (or four) is that you’ll be able to quickly discover how much homes with those characteristics are selling for on today’s market. Once you know that price range, you’ll be able to talk with a mortgage advisor to pre-arrange financing. That will make your offer on that dream home even stronger.
Whatever you choose for your “big three”, I can help you find and buy that home. Call me.
Imagine you have a major project at work, you have to deal with home schooling and you still need to deal with groceries, laundry and dinner. Whoa!
That's a busy life.
Can you still find and buy a new home with such a tight schedule? The good news is, you can. In fact, there's plenty you can do to save time.
Consider these tips:
• Get specific about the home you want to buy. Think about property type (for example, "two story, detached"), number of bedrooms and bathrooms, special features, etc.
• Target areas you'd like to live in. That will avoid trips to see listings in areas that aren't a good fit for you.
• Get the financing arranged. You'll be able to shop for a new home with more confidence when you have a pre-arranged mortgage. It will also make your offers stronger.
• Make seeing homes a priority by putting it on your schedule. Look at pictures and watch virtual tours carefully to help narrow down the number of homes you need to visit. Try to block time on the weekend, and ideally one or two evenings a week, to view homes without other distractions.
• Get all the information you need when viewing a property. Take notes. Ask questions. Thoroughly explore the home, yard, and neighbourhood. Get enough information to make a decision without
needing to see the home a second time.
While these time-saving tips can help, the best way to find a home on a busy schedule is to work with a good real estate agent. Want more advice on buying your next dream home? Call today.
Imagine you're looking for a new home. You have a list of all the features you want, just like you would have a grocery shopping list. However, when you explore the homes currently on the market, none meets all your criteria.
What do you do? You have a few good options
First, you can take a second look at your list. Does your new home need every single feature on it? Are there one or two features you can do without? For example, can you settle for a smaller kitchen assuming the property has everything else you want?
Often, buying a home that's close to perfect is perfect enough.
Second, consider what features you might be able to add to a home later, by way of a renovation or other improvement. If a property doesn't have a finished basement, for example, you might be able to get that done down the road. Indeed, there are probably many features you can add later to an otherwise desirable property.
Finally, consider the current level of activity in the local real estate market. Is it likely that a lot of new homes will be coming on the market soon? If so, your perfect home may come up on the market within the next few weeks. Maybe even tomorrow!
In that situation, make sure you arrange to get immediate alerts for newly listed homes that meet your criteria. You'll want to jump on each new opportunity before other buyers learn of the listing.
The good news is, in most cases you should be able to find and buy a great home, with most — if not all — of the features you want.
If it’s been a while since you last moved, you might be wondering how much you'll need to spend on your next home. That's an important question to answer, even if you're just at the "thinking about it" stage and haven't decided whether or not you'll look for a new property.
After all, knowing your budget might influence your decision.
How should you determine your budget?
The first step is to calculate the maximum you can spend. This involves adding the money you'll get from the sale of your current property after repaying your outstanding mortgage, to any other funds you have available to invest plus the maximum amount of mortgage you qualify to receive.
Of course, just because you may qualify for a large mortgage doesn't mean you want those bigger payments. So, the second step is to think about your needs. What features are a must in your next home? For example, you might want four bedrooms and anything less would be a deal-breaker.
Make a "must-have list". That list can by used to find a baseline of properties on the market — and then find their average asking price. This will give you an idea of what it would cost to find a home that meets your must-have list.
The third step is to go beyond needs and consider the features you want. These might not be deal-breakers, but you'd sure love to have them in your next home. They could be a large deck, a location in a desirable neighbourhood, a big country kitchen, etc.
Ask yourself how much you would be willing to pay for those desirable features. $20,000? $50,000?
Once you've gone through these steps, you'll have the information you need to match your needs and wants to what's available on the market — and you’ll know how much you might expect to pay for your next home.
Do you have only a few weeks to search for your next dream home? Don't panic. There are things you can do to find the perfect (or, at least, almost perfect) property — without getting too stressed out!
Consider these tips:
• Pre-arrange your mortgage. You want to be able to make a good offer on a home right away, without worrying about financing. So, talk to your mortgage advisor or lender about getting a mortgage preapproval. Sellers will take your offer more seriously if you have financing in hand.
• Decide what you want. What type of home are you looking for? What type of neighbourhood do you want to live in? The narrower your focus, the less time you’ll waste looking at properties that don’t fit your needs.
• Be open to possibilities. There are probably terrific homes on the market — right now — that are close to what you're looking for. So be prepared to consider properties that are less-than-perfect. Remember, what a home lacks today may be remedied with a renovation later on.
• Be flexible with your schedule. When you see a home you like, schedule a viewing immediately, even if it's at an inconvenient day/time, such as a weekday after work. Finding a great home, quickly, is worth some inconvenience.
• Get alerted to new listings. As they say, the early-bird gets the worm. So arrange to be alerted to new listings the moment they come on the market. That way, you can see these properties right away.
Want more tips on finding a home, quickly? Give me a call.
If you're thinking about buying a new home, you may be considering purchasing in a new development.
How does that compare to purchasing a resale property?
Buying a newly-built home has some advantages. Depending on the development, you may have leeway in the style of the home and the lot you choose. Also, when the home is built, you'll be moving into a place where everything is brand new!
On the downside, however, you may be forced to make a decision based purely on marketing brochures and floor plans. Unless there's a model home just like the one you want, you'll be buying sight unseen. Also, there may be unpredictable construction delays — an unpleasant experience if you've already sold your current property.
Of course, buying a resale home may also have a downside. For example, the house might need work, such as a new roof. What you see is pretty much what you get. And, that’s true for the floor plan too. You can't ask for the living room to be five feet wider, unless you decide to renovate.
On the other hand, a big advantage of a resale home is moving into a neighbourhood that is already there for you to see and explore. Unlike in a new development, you can get a very clear idea of what it’s going to be like to live there.
Plus, you get to see the house too!
Regardless of which way you go, I can help you make the best decision and find the home that's perfect for you. Call today.
Imagine driving through a desirable neighbourhood and, just as you turn a corner, you see the absolutely perfect home. Guess what? It's for sale! But, there’s a problem. Your current property isn't on the market. In fact, until this moment, you hadn’t seriously considered moving.
So what do you do?
Your first step is to find out more about the listing. Get a description of the property. Find out the listing price. Check out the size, layout, number of bedrooms and other features. If it all looks good, schedule a viewing.
Chances are, you can do all that in less than a day.
If you go to see the property and still love it, your next step is to determine if it fits within your budget. To do that, you'll need to quickly find out the Current Market Value of your home — what it will likely sell for — so you can determine how much money you'll have available after your outstanding mortgage and any other costs are deducted. It’s a smart idea to speak to your lender about getting a pre-approved mortgage at this point too.
Next, you'll need to make an offer on the new home. Depending on the competitiveness of the neighbourhood, and the likelihood of multiple offers, you might need to list your home first. That, along with a pre-approved mortgage, will make your offer more credible.
You might end up buying the new home before your current property sells. Although that might cause some jitters, this scenario happens all the time in real estate. If you do the right things, and prepare your home properly, there's a good probability it will sell in time and that everything else regarding the two transactions will go smoothly.
But, you do need to move quickly and make some fast decisions if you want to get that perfect home.
I can help. Call me.
Imagine you’ve dreamed of living in a particular neighbourhood, perhaps for years, and then, when you're finally ready to make a move, finding out that the area is competitive and buying there is definitely a challenge.
A disappointment? Not necessarily.
There is a lot you can do to buy into a popular neighbourhood, even in competitive offer situations.
Your first step is to start targeting that area now. Find out about property types, prices and trends. In particular, you’ll need to know what price range you should be thinking about, and making sure that it’s going to fit your budget. To do that, you might need to get a determination of the Fair Market Value of your current home.
Next, begin making preparations so you can get a jump on opportunities in that neighbourhood quickly. You don't want to see a great property come on the market and not be ready to make a move. So, get your current home in order so it’s ready for a quick listing.
If possible, make arrangements to get alerted to new listings as soon as they come on the market. Keep in mind that a new listing may not appear online for several days. By getting advance notice, you can be among the first buyers to see the home and have an early advantage over other buyers.
If it's likely there's going to be competing offers for the home you want, there are many strategies that can increase your chances of winning. These involve going in at the right price, minimizing conditions to the offer, presenting the offer appropriately, and negotiating effectively.
Is there a neighbourhood you want to get into? I can help make it happen. Call today.
Imagine going to a restaurant with your family for dinner. You're planning on ordering a nice pasta and salad. Your heart is set on it. But, after you go to the trouble of driving there and getting a table, you discover that pasta is not on the menu.
Of course, it’s only a meal. You can go somewhere else next time. But, what if the same scenario played out once you had moved into a new neighbourhood? Imagine you were counting on public transit being in easy walking distance, but discovered the nearest stop is four blocks away. Argh!
That's why it's important to ensure a neighbourhood has the characteristics you want — before you make an offer on a home you like. Think about what you want most in a neighbourhood. Consider work, commuting, schools, playgrounds, noise level, walking and cycling, hobbies, shopping, entertainment, etc.
If there is a neighbourhood feature that is very important to you, check it out for yourself. For example, if easy access to a main highway is desirable for commuting, take the route for a test drive.You can get a lot of information on a neighbourhood through the listed property's description and MLS listing.
Want more in-depth insights into an area you're considering? I have that information. Call today.
If you're thinking ahead to your next dream home, the road you need to take to get there may seem confusing. Do you search for listings online? Drop by Open Houses on the weekends? Call the number on For Sale signs? Let's break it all down!
Here are the specific steps you need to take to ensure you find a home that fits your wants, needs and budget.
1. Find out how much your current property will likely sell for on today’s market.
2. Arrange for financing, so you know what you can afford.
3. Select neighbourhoods you'd love to live in. (That may involve some fun exploring!)
4. Decide on the type of home you want to buy. (For example: detached, three-bedroom, etc.)
5. Prioritize the property features you want most, so you can be flexible if a feature is missing from a home listed on the market that is otherwise ideal.
6. View properties on the market that closely fit your criteria, particularly new listings that may not yet be posted online. (Tip: Arrange to be immediately notified of new listings that are a good fit for you.)
7. When you find a home you want, make an offer designed to get the property — without overpaying.
8. Negotiate until you secure the deal. This may involve counter-offers.
9. If the negotiation is skillfully done and all goes well, the home is yours.
As you can see, there isn't a lot of mystery in finding your next dream home. You just need to take the steps and get the professional help you need along the way.
Looking for a real estate agent that can get you to the finish line? Call today!
Imagine you've found the perfect home. You love it. You've made an offer that's been accepted. So far so good! The only catch? You've wisely made the offer conditional on passing a professional home inspection.
What happens if that home inspection reveals a major issue?
First, you should know that, depending on the age of the property, a home inspection will typically turn up at least a few areas of concern. The inspector might find loose insulation in the attic that is thinning out or roofing shingles that will need replacing in two or three years.
Issues like those are not usually deal-breakers.
However, if the home inspector finds a major issue — such as old wiring that's worn and presents a safety concern — then you're facing a potentially high cost of repair should the deal go through.
In a situation like that, as your real estate agent, I will address the issue with the seller, usually through the seller's agent. Since neither of you will want to lose the deal, the seller often agrees to get the repair done at his own expense or, have some or all of the estimated repair cost deducted from the sale price.
Will the deal be in jeopardy? Usually not. In most cases, if you have a real estate agent like me working in your best interests, it all works out.
Wouldn't it be nice if you had all the time in the world to find your next dream home? You could leisurely browse the current listings, select homes you'd like to see, schedule visits on dates that are most convenient for you, and make an offer on a property only after you've had plenty of time to consider all the alternatives.
Sure, that sometimes happens, but it's not typical. Often, people shopping for a home are on a timeline. Sometimes a very tight timeline.
So how do you find your next dream home when you don't have all the time in the world?
First, you need to develop a clear picture of the home you're looking to buy. How many bedrooms? What size of property? What type of structure (two story, back split, etc.)? Then, you need to list your preferences. These might include "large kitchen" or "main floor office".
Once you've completed that exercise, you'll have a more detailed profile of the type of property you want. That will make it easier to decide which of the listings on the market you want to see.
You should also narrow down the area in which you'd like to live. If you have three or four targeted areas, and only consider listings in those areas, your home search will be much faster.
What if you don't know the neighbourhoods well? Visit a few. Drive around. Explore. Get as much neighbourhood data as possible, such as demographics, recreational activities, parks, shopping, schools, etc. Then choose the neighbourhoods that fit your lifestyle.
Finally, the best way to find a new home on a tight schedule is to work with the right real estate agent — someone who, like me, is experienced in the local market.
Call me anytime.
Is there an area you'd love to get into that's "hot"? In other words, an area where, as soon as a new home comes up for sale, buyers are clamouring to see it?
It can be intimidating to try to buy into a neighbourhood like that. On one hand, it's the type of area you'd love to call home. After all, there are good reasons why it's so popular! On the other hand, you might be discouraged by the competitiveness and prices.
If you want to live in that neighbourhood, there are a couple of things you can do that will increase your chances of success.
The first is to create a strategy. Most buyers rush to see a listing in a desirable area only when it shows up on MLS — or sometimes only when it's advertised. You'll have a better chance of getting into the neighbourhood if you are alerted the moment a property comes up for sale and you have pre-arranged financing. You’ll get to the head of the line and be ready to make a credible offer.
The second option is to consider targeting other neighbourhoods with similar characteristics. You may have long-dreamed of living in Prestigious Area A, yet there might be a Hidden Gem Area B that is just as good. Maybe it’s even better!
Ultimately, your goal is to find the home you want in a neighbourhood you like. The right strategy will get you there.
Contact me for more information.
Imagine this scenario...
You're shopping for a new home. You drive to visit a recent listing. As you walk through the front doors, you're impressed. Every room looks fantastic.
You see yourself relaxing on the spacious patio, cooking in the modern kitchen, and enjoying evenings with the family in the cozy living room. Your emotions are on overdrive. This is your dream home!
Should you make an offer? Probably. In fact, you should make that decision quickly in case there are other interested buyers.
However, your decision shouldn't be guided purely by emotion. You want to make sure you take practical matters into consideration too.
For example, you'll want to consider:
- Is the property within your price range?
- Does it have everything you need?
- Do you like the neighbourhood?
- How old is the property? Are there items, such as the furnace, that may need to be replaced soon?
- Will it need any major repairs or upgrades?
- What are the average monthly costs of carrying the home? (Property taxes, utilities, etc.)
Once you've considered the purchase of the home from a practical standpoint, you'll have a lot more confidence in your decision when you make an offer.
Need help? Call me.
Buying a new pair of shoes is relatively easy. Once you find the style you like, all you need to do is try them on and see if they fit. If they do, you go to the cash register and pay.
When it comes to size, buying a new home can be trickier! Whether your intention is to upsize or downsize, figuring out the right size can be especially challenging.
Say for example, you’re downsizing from a large two-story home to a smaller bungalow. You don’t want to underestimate the space you need and end up in a place that feels tight. If you’re going the other way and upsizing, you don’t want to end up sinking extra money into a property that’s larger than you really need.
So how do you avoid these scenarios?
One of the best ways is to start by considering your current home. Do you use all the rooms in your home regularly? Is there a bedroom that’s rarely occupied? Has the recreation room become simply a storage area? If you’re downsizing, subtracting rooms you scarcely use can give you a better idea of what you need in a new home.
Upsizing is a bit more challenging because you have to anticipate what you will need in the future. For example, if you have young children, and your place is feeling cramped, then a home with a recreation room or separate family and living rooms may be a good idea. You may also need a bigger kitchen with a spacious eating area (in addition to a separate dining room.) Think about the extra room you’ll need and how you’ll use that space.
When I work with a client, I typically sit down with them and discuss the type of home they want in detail — and, based on needs and circumstance, I make expert recommendations. Bottom line, I help clients find the perfect fit in a new home. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.
An Open House is an event. And, like many events, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and energy. In fact, when you visit an Open House, you might even end up rubbing elbows with other buyers who are there at the same time. It can feel like a party!
In an environment like that, it’s not unusual to forget to ask important questions about the property. Here are some of the most common:
• How old is the roof?
• How old is the furnace, air conditioner and other HVAC equipment?
• How does the price compare to similar properties in the neighbourhood? (You don’t want to make an offer that’s too high.)
• What are the characteristics of the neighbourhood? (Amenities, safety, traffic, access to public transit, property turnover, etc.)
• What doesn’t come with the home? (Ask specifically about kitchen appliances, gas-connected BBQs, chandeliers, window coverings.)
• Are there any potential impediments to the sale? (Tenants, outstanding liens, etc.)
• Are there any outstanding maintenance issues, or repairs that need to be done? (For example, cracked ceramics on the foyer floor.)
• Are there any issues that impact the full use of the property? (Ask specifically about shared driveways or walkways, public “right of way” through the property, water drainage rights from neighbouring homes, etc.)
Yes, an Open House can feel like a frenzy, and if it’s a home you love, you might feel pressured to make an offer. But, it’s important to take the time to ask the right questions and consider your decision carefully. You don’t want to find out, too late, that there were questions you should have asked.
Want more tips on finding the home of your dreams? Call today.
Imagine this scenario...
You purchase a new home and move in. A few weeks later, you hear a strange rumbling sound. It’s the furnace. It’s only a year old, yet it’s sputtering like it’s twenty. You realize you’ll have to call in an HVAC contractor to get it fixed.
You’re thinking, “Ouch! This is going to be expensive.”
Well, maybe not. You see, since that furnace is relatively new, it might be covered by its original warranty — even for you, the new owner.
But a warranty is useless if you don’t know it exists.
Recent studies suggest that upwards of 50% of people pay to get items fixed that were actually covered by a warranty. So, when purchasing a new home, be sure to ask this simple question: “What warranties do you have for items, materials or workmanship in this house?”
Warranties are common on new stoves, fridges, washers, dryers and other big ticket appliances. Some such warranties are transferrable, which means they are still in force when the items pass from one owner to another.
Even less expensive items, such as electronic thermostats and automatic garage door openers, may be covered by a transferrable manufacturer’s warranty.
If the home you’re purchasing is relatively new (say, less than 10 years old), the builder’s warranty may also still be in force. That can be handy if a structural problem arises.
Even recent renovations, may have come with a labour and/or installation warranty of some kind.
As you can see, warranties are everywhere! The more you’re aware of them, the more you’ll save when something needs repair or replacement.
Imagine there’s a neighbourhood you’d love to live in someday, but, every time you drive through, you rarely, if ever, see a For Sale sign. It’s as if homes get gobbled up by buyers the moment they get listed.
It’s true, properties do tend to sell quickly in desirable, in-demand neighbourhoods. Does that mean you’re destined to either hope for a lucky break or miss out on ever living there?
Fortunately, no. There are practical things you can do to increase your chances of getting into that neighbourhood.
Your first step is to find out the kind of new home you can afford. You want to get your financial ducks in a row so when a listing does come up in the area, you’re able to respond quickly. Find out the average price range of homes in the neighbourhood. Then, if necessary, talk to your lender or mortgage broker.
The second step is to get your current property ready for sale. You don’t necessary need to list it now, but you want to be in a position to do so quickly, if necessary. You may need to clean up and declutter, get repairs done, and spruce up your home in other ways.
The third step is to talk to me. You see, listings in popular neighbourhoods often move fast. By the time you see them advertised on the internet, they may be gone. I can closely monitor listings in that area for you, so the moment one comes up that meets your criteria, you can be alerted. This greatly increases your chances of getting that home.
So if there is a dream neighbourhood you’d love to get into, give me a call.