Monthly Archives: November 2016
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.
- 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.
- Have I fallen in love with the finishings, not the home? This often happens with buyers. The reason show homes are so inviting is that the developers want you to fall in love with an ideal. However with all the fancy furniture gone, you may find the home you bought is not the home you need. You may have ignored all those stairs in that three level townhome because you loved that open concept living area. But if you noticed it when you visited, think about how it will affect your daily life. Do you have small children? Imagine carting baby buggies, strollers, and small children up and down those stairs. Suddenly, that home might not be such a great idea after all.
- Do you see yourself in the neighbourhood? If there are tons of children in the neighbourhood, and you are a professional couple who crave quiet, then you might be in the wrong place. Conversely, if you have children, but there are no schools within walking distance, and no basketball hoops in the driveways, then they may not have any friends to play with. Make sure you pick an area that fits your lifestyle, whether you’re looking in the city or the suburbs.
- Don’t buy the best home in a not so great neighbourhood. Ideally, you want to buy in the best area you can, even if that means buying a home that may not have all the extras that you want. Your home is your investment, and ultimately the old saying “Location Location Location” will always hold strong. You can’t make more land, no matter how hard you try. However, you can invest in the home that you purchase through renovation. It doesn’t have to be all at once. But if you buy a home with “good bones” – i.e.: good sized rooms, a practical floor plan, and structurally sound – all within a desirable location – you will be making a sound purchase.
- Can I really afford this? If you are a dual income couple and are planning on starting a family, you may have only one income for a while. Will the home put undo financial pressure on you? If your income was to go down, would you be able to afford the home? Just because you “can” afford to purchase a home, doesn’t mean you should. Sit down and think about your lifestyle. Do you like to travel extensively? If you do, make sure you budget that into the equation. Are you planning to send your children to private school? Factor in the annual tuition to your costs. Don’t forget to speak with your mortgage broker. Any changes in interest rates could change your mortgage payment in the years to come. Make sure you can handle any upticks in the interest rates.
These are just a few things to consider when you enter the world of real estate. But ultimately common sense will rule the day. Always make sure that when you are shopping for your new home, you leave your rose coloured glasses at home!
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.
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 impact.
Let’s face it: Switchplates are $.49 at your local hardware store, so there’s no excuse. Cabinet and drawer pulls are also a drop in the bucket and things like doorknobs, light fixtures and faucets are also inexpensive, minor updates that can really improve the entire feel of a room. A small investment can equal a big return, making the space feel fresh and modern.
The first rule of bathroom renos: If it’s pink or blue, rip it out! Pastels, seashell tiles and fuzzy toilet seat covers scream ‘grandma’s house,’ and while you probably have fond childhood memories from grandma’s house, chances are you don’t sit around reminiscing about the décor.
When you ask people to describe their perfect bathroom, about 95% of people use the words “spa like.” What does that mean exactly? From my experience it means a soothing colour palette, clean lines, modern materials and chic finishes. You may be hearing “cha-ching”, but keep in mind that bathrooms are small and therefore require less material. Consider making a statement with a stand-out tile or funky sink or faucet to set the tone of the space – a little goes a long way.
Kitchen remodels are notoriously expensive. When you start throwing around words like “granite,” “stainless steel,” and perhaps the scariest – “custom,” it can make a lifetime courting takeout menus sound like a good idea. But don’t panic – I have good news on two fronts: Not only can you do a great kitchen renovation on realistic budget, but kitchens also give you the biggest return on investment far beyond any other room in the house.
Don’t believe the hype – there’s almost never a need to invest in custom cabinets. Out of all theIncome Property reveals over the years, only two have been custom. The trick? You can customize standard, out-of-the-box cabinetry to almost any kitchen layout.
When it comes to counters, while stone is still the number one choice, there are more and more affordable alternatives that look expensive – butcher block, composite, and high-end laminates are all great options.
1. Income Suites
No shock here, but it’s true – there’s no renovation you can do to your home that will increase its value as adding an income suite. Whether it’s your basement, a third floor or loft conversion, or even a coach house style suite in a garage, income suite renovations, when done correctly, easily allow you to double your investment. The extra bonus? Not only will an income add a huge amount of value to your home, but it’s an investment that will actively make you money while you build equity. What more could you ask for?
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 tradespeople, and while I can’t suggest an individual contractor in your area, I always start by doing my research. Check out the website www.homestars.com for reputable contractors in your area.
I’ve also provided a checklist below that I use to find good trades:
- Ask family and friends for recommendations. Word of mouth is often the best and most honest advertising.
- Phone the tradespeople on your list, interview each of them and include the following questions:
Are they licensed?
Do they have insurance?
How long have they been in business for and what is there area of expertise?
How much money do they require as a down payment for the work?
How much time do they expect the project to take?
Can they provide you with a number of references and photos of recent projects?
Do they guarantee their work?
- Think about the interaction you had with the company or individual during your interview – were they courteous, knowledgeable and forthcoming with information and references? A first impression is a pretty good indicator of your future interactions.
- Next, follow up on the references provided. Ask about their experiences and if the work met the expectations of the contract.
- Get bids from a number of different companies and when you’re ready to proceed, be sure to get all of the details in a written contract and review it carefully. Ask questions if you have them.
- Finally, never pay the full amount until the job is completed and you are satisfied with the work.
Do you pick the properties that the homeowners tour or do they?
It depends. We have lengthy meetings with our homeowners before we ever start filming and really try to get a grasp of their house-hunting journey. Sometimes they have properties to bring to the table and sometimes we like to throw in properties that either complement their search or show them something they never would have considered on their own.
What computer program to you use to create the options layouts?
We use a CAD (computer-aided design) program to create the floorplans for the two options. Once the homeowners choose an option the CAD drawings are animated by a graphics company into what you see on the show.
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!
- 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.
- 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 should love it because it’s in good condition and because the numbers work. Always get a home inspection and if you can’t afford it (or the work it requires), walk away!
- Give Every House a Chance
I do most of my real estate browsing online, as do most people now, but you can’t always judge a house by the virtual tour – good or bad. If you see something online and it has bad pictures (or no pictures) but it’s in the right neighbourhood or in your price range, go look at it! Chances are you can get a good deal because so many people will skip it without photos online.
- Think Long-Term
Before you jump into a real estate purchase, ask yourself: “What is the purpose of this property for the next 5-10 years?” Depending on your mortgage, you may have to lock in for a certain number of years, and if you think you’ll be moving in less than 5 years, I’d suggest looking at alternatives. You never want to be forced into selling your house.
- Have a Support System
Having a real estate agent who understands your financial and personal situation is key, and great advice from a mortgage specialist and lawyer can be invaluable to the home-buying process. But what many people forget is to have a personal support system in place when they go house hunting. Advice from those close to you – family members, a partner, friends – is just as important to help keep you on track and avoid getting carried away. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a house, so having the personal support will keep you grounded.