There is Five Things to Consider Before Tackling a Home Renovation

Renovating your home can be thrilling and when the results are exactly what you wanted, there’s nothing more satisfying. But they can also be stressful and costly, in both time and money. Here are five things to consider before undergoing a renovation, whether the job is big, or small.

Does The Renovation Require Permits?

Generally, small changes can be done on your own, but larger projects involving additions or altering the existing structure, electrical or plumbing may require permits. It’s important to be aware of the rules of your city, as undergoing renos without the required permits can mean timely delays, fines and ultimately stretching your budget. Sites like the Ontario Ministry of Housing and Affairsare a great resource and a good idea to bookmark.

Has Your Contractor Been Vetted?

It’s always smart to get a few quotes for every job, and references are essential. There are too many horror stories out there to make absolute sure that anyone who’s working on your home has been thoroughly vetted. Ask to see a portfolio of their work, or

Nine Steps to Staging Your Home

You don’t have to break the bank to have your house looking as though it was professionally staged. These tips and tricks will have your house sell-ready and gorgeous before you can say “why hasn’t it always looked this way?!”

1) De-Clutter

The first step in getting ready to sell is de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter so potential buyers aren’t overwhelmed by your stuff, but rather impressed by your home. Counters and other surfaces should be kept clear and any furniture that isn’t needed stored away. The good news about this tedious task is packing and purging will make moving day that much easier.

2) Lights and Mirrors

Warm lighting and well-placed mirrors can make your home feel bright, inviting and even bigger. Mirrors placed over fireplaces, and along hallway walls will make rooms appear larger than they are. Table lamps, and overhead lighting like chandeliers and sconces will brighten rooms and add some flair to your decor.

3) It’s Nothing Personal

Any personal effects should be packed away; family photos and mementoes, framed degrees, anything that’s a link to the current owner. Buyers want to imagine themselves in the house,

The Ways Maximize Your Selling Potential During Winter

Some say winter is the worst time to sell a home. Given the cold and stormy weather we have been experiencing, there are definitely challenges, but don’t be discouraged. First impressions and lasting impressions are key to progress potential buyers into active buyers. Be very wary as the slightest discomfort or issue can sour this experience and turn a buyer away from your home, but by addressing a few key areas, any winter woes can be easily avoided.

Here are five simple tips to maximize the showing potential of your home during the winter months.

1. Don’t Let Winter be an Obstacle

It’s storming or just post-storm, but you have showings booked for your home. (You must have motivated buyers to go out in that weather!) Don’t make it even more of a chore for them, be sure to shovel your drive or walkway so that the first impression is a clean and accessible entry. Buyers have been known to turn away, rather than hike to the doorway in knee deep snow and risk snow in their

This Tips To Find the Right Real Estate Agent for You

Finding the right real estate agent for you is important. You need to be able to trust them, so it is crucial that your personality is well matched with theirs. Just because you see an agent’s “for sale” and “sold” signs throughout the neighbourhood doesn’t necessarily mean they are the “right” real estate agent for you.

When you are selling in a competitive market, you need to be working with someone who is anexpert in your area of focus. One of the best strategies for finding your agent, above and beyond word of mouth and referral, is to attend a prospective real estate agent’s open house. Here you can get a hands-on feel for how they operate and see if it matches what you seeking.

When you narrow down your search and are ready to interview an agent, please consider these key questions:

1. What types of properties you do specialize in selling?

2. How long have you been in the business? What is your track record? Can you provide references?

3. What is your commission rate?

4. What do you do to market the property? Do you have a website? Do

This What a Property Survey

A property survey shows the boundaries of the property indicating the lot size, and includes a written description of the property. Property surveys, which resemble a map, are carried out during the original construction of a house and are provided to the buyer at that time. However, if the house you are buying is older you may find that the original survey has long been lost. Sometimes a copy has been kept at the city planning department and they will gladly give you a copy, but I’ve never been that lucky.

Surveys indicate right-of-ways and easements. Right-of-ways detail the right of others to access certain areas of the property (for example, it may allow access to hydro or telephone companies for servicing or a shared lane or driveway). Easements are a right that’s assigned to the property and cannot be removed very easily, if at all. Surveys may also indicate issues such as a fence located outside the property line or an overhanging roof from a detached garage and in these instances, the buyer can ask the seller to correct the problem before closing.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, you may be wondering if you need an up-to-date

Do You Really Need a Home Inspection

As a homebuyer, you’ll want to make sure that you make a wise investment choice, and that’s why professional home inspections are becoming an essential part of the buying process. In fact, more and more buyers are using specialized inspections based on location or the property itself, in addition to the standard home inspection.

A professional home inspector reviews the operating systems and structure of a home of any age—even new homes—and leaves a written report for the client to keep as a reference guide. Typically, the home inspector will comment on the condition of the foundation, heating and cooling systems, electrical service, roof, plumbing, and other significant structural factors and will outline costs of repair or replacement where needed, as well as comment on the condition of the property compared to others of the same age. The few hours that you spend with your inspector are the best time to learn the ins and outs of taking care of your property, and you should keep the reference book for as long as you live there.

With rising home prices and a subsequent rise in the use of home inspectors, in recent years, the field has actually become more specialized

Real Estate for Women Love To Shop

The demographics of the typical first-time homebuyer are changing these days. More and more women today can afford to purchase a property on their own to build up valuable equity and are no longer waiting to find a life partner before they pursue the financial and lifestyle benefits of home ownership. One in four buyers these days is a single female, and new home marketing is actually starting to reflect that. We may be ready to jump into the commitment of home ownership but not all of us are willing to give up our valuable free time to outdoor chores. So single girls tend to look for homes that require little or no maintenance with an option to plant container gardens. Sound familiar girls?

The easiest and most popular way to hold on to our maintenance free lifestyle is to purchase a condominium. Its problem-free upkeep and unencumbered lifestyle is an obvious benefit to people who don’t want to be tied up every weekend with chores—there are no lawns to water and mow, and no leaves to rake. No yard means there’s no fence or deck to repair, and no driveway to shovel in winter. Choose a condo and

Top Five Things To Think About Before You Buy House

Buying a home is generally an exciting adventure – the thrill of finding a home that you and your family can enjoy, where you will raise your children, make friends – all the good things that home ownership. But there are several things that you should consider before setting down your hard earned money on a home purchase.

  1. Does this home make sense? Now when I say that, I mean will this home make sense for you and your family in the long run? Are you a young family and hope to expand? Maybe a two bedroom townhome is not the right buy. Sure, with one child it may be very manageable, but if baby number two is just a year away – you may be forced to move within a couple of years. With transfer taxes and realtor fees, you could eat up any profits made, and that’s just not a smart buy. Ideally you should look for a home that will accommodate you for at least five years. This may mean forgoing some fancy upgrades, but ultimately the cosmetics of a home can be changed, whereas adding square footage is a whole different ball game.
  2. Have

This Top Five Renos for Return on Investment

Adding value to your home is the number one concern for most homeowners. It doesn’t matter if you’re prepping to sell or looking to build long-term equity, knowing the right renos to invest in is important to ensure you get the most bang for your reno buck.

5. Flooring
Ever wonder about the number one request from both homeowners and tenants when they’re looking for a home? Hardwood floors. And why not? Hardwood looks amazing, is timeless and is incredibly durable. It’s also expensive, so it’s wise to weigh your options before shelling out big bucks for the big impact that hardwood delivers. You can go with traditional hardwood or engineered hardwood, or if hardwood isn’t what you’re looking for (or if it isn’t in the budget) there are plenty of great laminate options available to you as well. Regardless of your choice, a flooring update always brings new life to a space and instantly gives the impression of a renovated and redecorated space.

4. Hardware & Fixtures
It sounds like a simple little update that doesn’t mean a lot, but replacing relatively inexpensive items like faucets, sinks, toilets and drawer pulls can make a big

Here Income Property FAQs

With 100 episodes of Income Property under my belt, I’ve learned that there are certain questions that come up over and over again. Below are the answers to some of my most frequently asked questions so you never have to wonder again!

Do the homeowners get to keep the furniture?

This is easily the number one question I get asked about the show. The answer? No. We stage the spaces so homeowners can see their new income suite at its full potential. We also give our homeowners photos of the staged space to use for their listings so prospective tenants can see all the potential it has to offer.

Can Scott come and renovate my house?

Listen, I wish I could help everyone who writes and asks for help. The reality is that because of theIncome Property filming schedule I’m unable to take on any projects outside the show. The best way to get me to renovate your house is to apply for the show. Go to www.hgtv.ca/castingcall for more information and good luck!

Can you recommend a contractor in my area?

I get an overwhelming amount of requests for recommendations for

Tips How to Make a Smart Real Estate Purchase

We’ve all heard the horror stories – people paying way too much for a house, not getting an inspection and then finding a million (expensive) problems with the place. I’ve seen it countless time with homeowners on Income Property and from talking to eager real estate investors.

Here are my top five tips for making a smart real estate purchase so you don’t get burned!

  1. Stick to Your Budget
    It’s easy to get carried away here, especially if you make the mistake of looking at houses outside your price range. The important part is to have a plan. Don’t just think about your mortgage payments every month; also think about your monthly carrying cost and be honest about your lifestyle. Consider how much you spend every month on eating out, clothing, etc. There’s nothing worse than being house poor because you weren’t honest about your spending habits.
  2. Don’t be Afraid to Walk Away
    A house is an emotional purchase, since it’s where you’ll be living, raising your children and making a home for yourself. But it’s crucial to keep emotions out of the equation as much as possible. You should love your house, but you

Here Scott McGillivray on Vacation Properties as Income Properties

So You Want to Buy a Vacation Property…

Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about sun and sand. Fall is actually a great time to start thinking about next year’s vacation and where you’re going to stay. Cottages are a big part of the Canadian vacation experience, and buying one might be a great investment if you go about it the right way.

Smart investment or luxury item?

The answer? It’s a bit of both. An inherited cottage or one you bought decades ago during the golden age of affordable lakefront properties could make you a pretty penny today. If you’re in the market to buy though, you have some factors to take into consideration that will drastically affect the price. Buying a property that is accessible, usable and desirable year-round is a much better investment than a property that you can only get to in the summer, isn’t insulated and doesn’t have any merit in the winter. Take advantage of winter sports enthusiasts, as their options for winter rentals are usually pretty limited.

Being less than a 2-hour drive from a city is also going to command a higher price

This Staging Tips from Scott McGillivray

Inexpensive staging tips guaranteed to help you sell your home.

1. De-clutter & De-Personalize:
Buyers generally want two main things out of a potential property: they want it to be roomy, and they want to be able to see themselves living in it. Neither of these things can happen if the house is full of your stuff. Clear out a minimum of 50% of your personal belonging when you stage your home – more if possible. Take down all family photos and mementos. Clear out closets as much as possible. Take the kid’s drawings off the fridge. The cost? A few hours and some boxes for storage.

2. Clean, Clean and Clean Some More:
I’ve toured hundreds of properties and there have been times when I wouldn’t touch anything. And while I can see past the pink slime in the shower, dirty doorknobs, and carpet full of pet hair, a lot of prospective buyers can’t. Your home may have tons of potential, but if it’s dirty, the percentage of buyers who can see that potential drops significantly. Clean like you’ve never cleaned before. And when you think it’s as clean as it can get, clean it

Five Real Estate by Agent Gimmicks and How to Avoid Them

1. “I have a buyer for your home.”

Whether it’s delivered in a letter or by phone, this a common trick some real estate agents use to get their foot in the door with a potential home seller.

“When I first started in real estate, that was one of the first things we were taught,” says Carl Seier, a real estate agent with Sigmar MacKenzie Real Estate in Winnipeg. “They told us that there’s an agent out there who will have a buyer for that area, so technically you’re not lying. But that’s not the reason to hire a real estate agent. You want one with the best marketing plan.”

If a real estate agent really has a buyer for your home, he or she should arrive with an offer. Otherwise, that agent is probably just trying to get your attention – and your business. What you really want is an agent who’s willing to price your home competitively and market it to sell.

2. “This is definitely the property for you – but it probably won’t last.”

Good real estate agents don’t sell houses; they help buyers through the process of finding

What Which Season is the Best Time To Sell A Home

Talk to any real estate agent, and they will tell you that there are certain seasons that are more favorable to sell your home than others. Often, the best time to list and sell a single family detached home is in the spring, followed by early to mid fall.

Most families want to make the purchase of their home and complete the transaction before the summer months, when the kids and family are on summer vacation. Parents are keenly aware that school registrations need to be dealt with — and who wants to be loading a moving truck in the middle of August?

Sensibly, spring also offers the best time of year to showcase your home. After a long winter, the first hints of cherry blossoms and crocuses seem to trigger the “moving bug” in many people. Gardens tend to look their best in fresh bloom, when the leaves are on the trees. Homes appear more appealing when the weather is warming up and buyers tend to be in high spirits.

It’s also usually easier to get your home ready for sale at this time of year — from painting inside or out, to the simple ability to keep the house

The Inside of Scoop on the Best Season to Sell Your Home

1. The Best Time to Sell

Spring is most commonly believed to be the best time to sell. It’s the most agreeable weather for showings, most people want to get settled before summer, it’s easiest logistically for moving (who wants to move boxes and furniture through snow?), provides longer days and daylight, avoids the school season and shifting schools mid year for kids, and shows off the landscaping and gardens. However, this is also statistically the time with the most competing sellers on the market. This will affect you most if your home is one of many identical houses in a subdivision. Consider professional staging as a way to make your home stand out if forced to sell in this high-competition season.

2. The Worst Time to Sell

Yes, the holiday season is not the ideal time to sell. People are busy or stressed out and are prioritizing family and holidays rather than home buying or selling. Mid December to mid January is the highest travel season, and thus there are fewer buyers around to view homes. There’s also the perception that you are desperate or need to sell if you are listing your home

Big Design Trends For Your House to Try Right Now

Every year home design trends come and go but it’s never too late to try something new. Update your décor and impress your friends (and yourself) at the same time, by including some of this year’s hottest design trends.

Pantone Colour of the Year

Year after year the iconic people at Pantone come up with their colour of the year, inspiring not only home décor trends but fashion and other design areas across the board as well. For 2014, the colour du jour is: Radiant Orchid, a gorgeous pinky purple-hue. An infusion of this beauty would be a welcome breath of colour anywhere—from kitchen to bedroom and every room in between.

Florals

Florals are holding strong and continuing to be on-trend this year, but they’re definitely growing in size. Now, pretty blooms, the bigger the better are a force to be reckoned with. What lovelier way to add some vibrant colour and bold patterns to your home than throw pillows, sheets or duvet covers with big bright florals. (Try to find some with radiant orchid for a double-dose of style.)

Blue & Blue

Black’s younger, lighter cousin grey has certainly had its

This Easy Ways to Update a Room

You don’t have to hire a decorator (or break the bank) to give a room a quick update with lots of impact. So whether you’re getting ready to sell, have just moved in or feel like a mini overhaul, these five tips will have you enjoying the room of your dreams in no time.

Change Your Fabrics

Replace your curtains, re-cover your throw pillows, buy a new rug, Any one of these easy fixes can make a big impact; but all three will completely change the entire room! And if it’s a bedroom you’re tired of, same rules apply: Replace the duvet cover, re-cover the headboard, and toss a few new pillows on the bed.

Freshen Up With Paint

Whether you tackle an entire room, or maybe an accent wall or two, a new coat of paint is probably the easiest way to change a room. From light and bright to dark and dramatic, paint can completely alter the mood.

Re-Organize A Bookshelf

Bookshelves are amazing; not only do they keep your books organized, but they can also serve as great focal pieces. Try colour-coding your books or arranging them in stacks

Here What To Fix and What to Forget When Downsizing

Figuring out how much work needs to be done to your home before selling it and downsizing is stressful stuff. Add in the costs of relocating, the hassle of culling your possessions and the emotional hardship of saying goodbye to a beloved home, and you’re looking at a recipe for disaster. So, let’s take some of the panic out of moving by outlining what should be done before packing up.

Think the buyers of your home will love the new carpeting as much as you did? Think again. Sellers are often shocked to learn new carpeting was ripped out shortly after selling, in favour of hardwood or laminate.

Sellers need to ask themselves, “Is this to the buyer’s taste? Will I recover the funds spent?” A lot of the time, the decision to do pre-sale renovations is up to how much time, money and disruptions the seller is willing to put up with.

There are certain must-fixes, such as a leaky roof, broken windows or an ineffective septic system. Anything that would cause buyer concern, or be seen as a liability, should be fixed.

For cosmetic fixes, buyers will value different things about the

This Mistakes of First Time Buyers (And How to Avoid Them)

Buying your first home can be exciting and amazing, and scary. But knowing the common mistakes of first-time buyers will ensure you don’t make the same ones, and can help make the transition to “New Home Owner!” that much smoother.

1) Spending Too Much

It’s important to be realistic about what you can afford. The final sale price isn’t the only cost to take into account when owning a home. Houses come with plenty of bills like heating and property taxes, future renovations and occasional unforeseen costs like burst pipes or city trees needing to be trimmed.

What you can do about it: Take a close look at your finances. Be aware of your current fixed costs and always leave some breathing room. Ask the homeowners what they spend in a year on their bills so there aren’t any surprises. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has plenty of useful online budget calculators to help. As a general rule your monthly housing costs (mortgage, property tax and heating expenses) should be no more than 32% of your gross monthly income.

2) Spending Too Little

Yes, this can also be a mistake! If you spend too little on a home that you’ll outgrow quickly, you’ll incur the