Monthly Archives: August 2016

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 call a referral or two, this could save you a lot of heartache down the road.

Should You Relocate During the Job?

Packing up (especially if you have kids) might seem like a complete pain, but trying to live through a renovation might be an even bigger one. Add to that the dust and dirt that’s loosened (which can be a lot more than you’d expect), and you may be breathing easier if you choose to stay with family or at a hotel.

Do You Have a Buffer?

Often, the reality of renovating seems to be it costs more money, and takes longer (sometimes a lot longer) than expected. Building in a buffer of both time, and money is a great idea and a good way to set proper expectations. (And hey, sometimes they do finish on time, for the actual quote!)

So Do You REALLY Want This?

After weeks of researching design ideas, vetting contractors and saving the money you’ll need (plus a little buffer), now’s the time to really weigh the pros and cons. Do you really want to do this? And if the answer is yes, good luck! Renovating, whether it’s something small, or a big, can mean one step closer to living in the home of your dreams (once the nightmare of the renovation ends of course).

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, so the more the house is a blank slate, the easier that is.

4) But Don’t Touch the Nursery!

Although the nursery and childrens’ rooms should be de-cluttered and tidied as well, personal effects can remain as they are. There’s something reassuring and touching about seeing a baby’s room that can mean all the difference to a potential buyer (especially ones that are starting a family).

5) Neutrals

Although you love that fuchsia accent wall, some buyers may not. A fresh coat of bright, neutral paint will not only enlarge the house and make it feel airy and more spacious, but it will also help buyers with their vision (there’s that blank slate again).

6) Accents and Colour

To complement the neutral house, a few well-placed bright pops of colour will bring the decor together. Bright throw pillows, or a canary yellow kettle on the stove will be noticed as soon as you enter the room and will stick in buyers minds once they leave. Fresh flowers are another great idea, and single flower arrangements are most effective.

7) Inviting Scents

Warm inviting scents will help your house be remembered. Taking the time to bake cookies or mull cider on the stove may not be in the cards (and the stove and elements should be off for open houses) but a safely placed candle or air freshener will do the trick.

8) Draw Attention to Selling Features

As a general rule closet doors should be kept closed, but if there’s a walk-in that should be noticed, a small note to alert potential buyers is ok.

9) Freshen Your Linens

Now’s the time to use your spare “good” set on beds, and ensure your towels and hand-towels are in tip top shape. And if it’s perhaps time to replace them, think neutral again.

Following these tips will have your house in tip top selling shape and make it the most appealing to the most potential buyers faster than you can say “SOLD!”

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 shoes, wet pants, and wet socks.

2. Consider Your Home’s Temperature

Remember, buyers are usually viewing more than one home at a time, and thus traveling around and running in and out of cars or up and down elevators in condos. Typically they will be dressed for the great outdoors, so although having the heat way up is great for lounging on the couch, it can be oppressive for visiting buyers. Be sure to monitor the temperature of the entire house and set it appropriately.

3. Get Buyers Out of the Dark and Into the Light

The winter months also mean shorter days and less natural light. Be sure to have adequate lighting in every room. Dark rooms are depressing when coming in from the cold. Keep it bright in the winter. Some may object for energy saving reasons, but it is best to leave all the lights on before showings or use timers. This allows you to set the mood lighting, and saves the buyers fumbling for light switches.  Remember first impressions.  Is your home a sanctuary or an oasis from the cold?

4. Preparation is Key

Be sure to prepare for those wet and snowy shoes and boots. No one likes having snow and dirt tracked around there home by shoes or wet socks, just as no one enjoys having wet socks and dodging puddles in the doorway.  Be sure to have a “Shoes Off” sign. Place an absorbent mat protecting your stone or wood flooring. Be sure to have a shoe tray or appropriate storage area for shoes, not only to avoid the puddles but to show off the organization of your home.  Apply this also to winter jackets, hats and scarves. Show functioning and organization by thoughtfully arranged set ups, don’t just have outerwear exploding out of closets or haphazardly hanging on hooks or coat racks.

5. Pet-Friendly—and Groomed!

If you do own pets, be sure to have the appearance of clean pets…especially dogs. We love our furry friends, but it’s best not to leave those dirty slush-soaked towels and doggy outfits laying around. The last thing you want is the smell of wet dog greeting your buyers at the front door.

The Gavin Chen Team offers FREE pre-listing consultations for all Sellers. Contact them to learn more about this offer and other Services for sellers.

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 expense of moving (which can be quite pricey) perhaps before you need to.

What you can do about it: Think ahead. Are you planning on starting a family soon? Will you outgrow the house? Perhaps stretching your money a little bit to stay in a house for longer is a more sound financial decision.

3) Buying With Your Heart

Sure the house is gorgeous, fully renovated and painted your favourite shade of cream and has an ensuite bathroom for every bedroom. But it’s on a busy road and you have three young kids and two cats who like to run outside.

What you can do about it: Be smart! Visit the house at least twice (you’d be surprised at how your opinion can change on a second and third visit) and think critically. Go through every aspect of the house, every room, every floor, its location and neighbourhood and really try to picture yourselvesin the house for years down the road.

4) Missing Hidden Closing Costs

The final sale price of the house isn’t the only cost of buying a home. There are many “closing costs” that should be taken into account when deciding what price range you can afford. Your realtor’s commissions, lawyer fees, transfer taxes and moving costs can all add up.

What you can do about it: Closing costs can be anywhere from 1.5-4% of the final sale price, so be aware and take this into account when determining your budget.

5) Not Doing Your Research

Blindly buying a home can be a big mistake. Whether you’re paying too much attention to your realtor and family “who just LOVE the place!” or are feeling the pressure to make a quick buy, moving into a house that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted can be a big, expensive, regretful mistake.

What you can do about it: Do your research! And do it first-hand. No realtor or family member can know exactly what you want more than you. Spend a day walking the neighbourhood, learn about your neighbours, research the local school and visit the parks. As for the house itself, get an inspection report. These can uncover unseen things like termites and flooding, two expensive undertakings.

Buying a home is exciting and daunting. But doing your due diligence can make the process a little easier, and get you into your dream home with (little) stress.