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March 26th

 

When to call a REALTOR®

If you're like most people, you go to see a doctor when you're not feeling well or have a health concern. However, you may also visit your doctor for a check-up, or to ask questions about healthy living.

In fact, consulting your doctor for anything health-related is a smart idea. The same holds true when it comes to real estate. Many people only call a REALTOR® when they're planning on selling their property or buying a new home, or both. While that's an important reason to speak to a REALTOR®, it's not the only reason.

Indeed, there are many good reasons for you to give a good REALTOR® a call. For example:

  • If you have a question about the state of the local real estate market. (Remember that it may be very different from what you hear on the news about the national market.)
  • If you want to get a sense of what homes are currently selling for in the area.
  • If you want to determine the current market value of your property.
  • If you want to find out how much homes cost in neighbourhoods you'd like to consider.
  • If you're thinking about the possibility of making a move, but you’re not sure if it’s the right time.

In other words, don't be afraid to contact a good REALTOR® when you have a question or need some advice about the real estate market.

 

Foods That Boost Your Energy

Many people order an espresso or reach for an energy drink when they need a boost. However, there are other foods that can give you a similar increase in energy and are, arguably, a lot healthier. Here are a few examples:

  • Coconut oil. It contains high quantities of medium chain fats, which are a quick source of energy.
  • Honey. It tastes sweet because it's a natural form of sugar. As we all know, sugar gives you a quick boost.
  • Iron containing foods. Lack of iron in your diet can leave you feeling sluggish. Adding more beans, spinach, and lentils to your diet – perhaps in salads – can help boost your iron levels.
  • Nuts. Almonds, cashews and other nutrient-rich nuts are the ideal quick snack for an energy boost.
  • Dark chocolate. It’s great news for chocolate lovers, but keep the portions small.

Finally, not drinking enough water can also rob you of energy. In fact, water may be the best energy-boosting "food" of them all.

 

Think, Act... Live!

“A lot of people give up just before they're going to make it. You never know when that next obstacle is going to be your last one.” Chuck Norris
“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” Bill Cosby.
“All of our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney


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February 19th

 

Making Sense of a Crazy Market

Unless you're a real estate expert, you probably look at the market and think things are pretty confusing. Even a bit crazy! You hear news about “bubbles bursting”, “higher or lower home sales in a particular month”, “new home starts” that are up or down, and on and on it goes. It’s a lot of news and a lot of jargon.

If you're thinking of selling your home within the next year or two, you will want to understand what's happening in the market so you can make the right decisions and get a clear sense of what to expect. So, how do you make sense of it all?

That's where a good REALTOR® can help. Even if you don't have any definite plans to move in the near future, a REALTOR® who is an expert in the local marketplace can help you understand what homes in a particular neighbourhood are selling for, and what you can expect to get should you decide to list your property.

Getting to know a REALTOR® also means you’ll have a trusted expert to talk to from time to time, when you have real estate-related questions. You’ll have someone you can think of as “Your REALTOR®”.

Plus, when the time comes to sell your property, you won't have to deal with a stranger. Instead, you'll be able to work with a REALTOR® that you know well – and who knows YOU. Overall, that will make the buying and selling process go more smoothly and more successfully. Looking for a good REALTOR® who wants to get to know you? Call today!

 

Electrical Hazards in Your Home to Watch For

Electricity in the home is so commonplace that it's easy to forget how dangerous it can be. According to the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, an electrical shock can knock you unconscious, cause a serious burn, or even stop your heartbeat. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to reduce the risk.

  • Install safety plugs in outlets that young children can reach.
  • Never plug in anything with a frayed or otherwise damaged power cord.
  • Never use a plugged-in computer, hair dryer, or other electrically-powered item near a filled sink or bathtub. This includes phones with power cords.
  • Never touch anything electrical with wet hands or while standing in water. (Water is a remarkably efficient conductor of electricity.)
  • Always turn off the appropriate breaker before doing any electrical work, such as installing a new light fixture.
  • When replacing a broken light bulb, turn off the breaker first. Although the glass is broken, the filament may still be conducting electricity.

Finally, unless you're an expert or an electrician, never do any major electrical work on your own. Hire a professional.

 

Think, Act... Live!

“Avoiding danger is not safer in the long run. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller
“It doesn't matter where you're coming from. All that matters is where you are going.” Brian Tracy
“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” Dale Carnegie


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January 22nd

 

When Is It Time To Talk To a REALTOR®?

Many people only see a doctor when they're sick or have some other health concern. On the other hand, some people visit a doctor regularly for check-ups, to ask questions and get advice, and to maintain good health.

Which do you think is the better approach? Obviously, the second one!

The same thing is true when it comes to real estate. Even if you have no current plans to buy or sell a home, there are many reasons to talk to a REALTOR® regularly in order to maintain your good "real estate" health. For example, you can:

  • Get an assessment of the current market value of your home, so you can make an informed decision about whether to stay or move.
  • Ask about the state of the local real estate market (which may be vastly different than what you hear on the national news.)
  • Find out what homes are currently selling for in the area.
  • Learn what's currently available on the market, especially in neighbourhoods you would like to live in and that are within your budget.
  • Ask for a contractor recommendation. In fact, it's a good idea to have a chat with your REALTOR® once or twice a year, even if it's just to say hello.

You want to build a relationship with a good REALTOR® who understands (and cares about) you and your needs. That way, when it does come time for you to make a move, you're dealing with a REALTOR® you already know and trust.

Don't have a good REALTOR®? Call today!

 

A Quick Lesson in Wood Floors

Thinking about installing wood floors? The first decision you need to make involves the type. According to the National Wood Flooring Association, there are four types:

  • Unfinished. This type requires you or your installer to sand and apply a finish. If you want a specific colour or style, or you're trying to match existing flooring, this might be the best option for you.
  • Factory finished. As the name suggests, this is flooring that has its finish applied in the factory. Although it is more expensive, factory finished flooring can be installed faster and can be walked upon immediately.
  • Solid. This is flooring that is made from a solid piece of wood, top to bottom. The advantage is that it can be sanded and refinished many times over the years, or even decades.
  • Engineered. This is flooring that is made of thin layers of wood pressed together. It can be engineered to be very durable and expand and contract less than solid flooring.

The type you choose depends on your needs. Talk to your dealer or contractor about your specific application.

 

Think, Act... Live!

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” Babe Ruth
“Don't wait, the timing will never be just right.” John Maxwell
“I'm not the product of my circumstances. I'm the product of my decisions.” Stephen Covey


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December 18th

 

Light Your Way to a Faster Sale

Remember the last time you visited an upscale furniture showroom? The furniture and fixtures on display probably looked great. The colours and textures jumped out at you. It was a feast for the eyes!

There is a good reason for this: lighting.

Of course, the quality of the products has a lot to do with how appealing they look when on display. But smart retailers know that proper lighting is key to making those products look their best. In fact, some retailers even hire lighting consultants!

What does this have to do with selling your home quickly, and for the best price?

Obviously, when showing your property to potential buyers, you want your home to look its very best. Proper lighting can be a big help.

When preparing your home for sale, review the lighting in each room and make sure the space is sufficiently well lit. You want the lighting to be strong enough to prevent dark or shadowy areas, yet not so strong that it's uncomfortable for the eyes.

As a rule of thumb, the total wattage of lights in a room should equal the room's square footage times 1.5. So, if a room is 120 square feet and has three light sources (ceiling light and two lamps) then the bulbs in each should be 60 watts.

Pay particular attention to traditionally dark areas, such as the garage, basement, and closets. Make sure those areas are well lit.

If you have a viewing scheduled during the day, take advantage of natural light through windows. Open the curtains!

Finally, one of the most important areas is the foyer. Always make sure the entrance has sufficient lighting. You don't want buyers to think they've entered the home of classic TV's The Adam's Family!

Want more ideas for preparing your home for sale? Call today.

 

Doorways to Better Living Spaces

When people renovate or remodel a room, they almost always overlook the door. However, changing the style of an interior door, or adding a new one, can dramatically change the look of a living space – often for the better.

The most common type of door is the traditional solid 6-panel door. But there are many other choices available. Want to add light and a greater sense of space to a room? Consider a door with glass panels. Do you have an interior door that gets in the way when opened? Change it to a bi-fold door, which cuts the distance of the swing in half.

There are also specialty doors that are designed to block noise, and sliding doors that tuck neatly into the wall when opened.

Interior doors are typically much less expensive than their exterior counterparts. So making the decision to upgrade or add a door to a room is an affordable design option.

Visit a door showroom and explore what's available.

 

Think, Act... Live!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
“There's no shortage of remarkable ideas, what's missing is the will to execute them.” Seth Godin
“Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.” Anonymous


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November 27th

 

Make Your Kitchen More Attractive to Buyers

What's one of the most important rooms in your home? When it comes to selling your property quickly, and for the best price, the answer is clearly the kitchen. In fact, one of the most common explanations a particular buyer gives for not making an offer is, "I liked the house, but I wasn't too keen on the kitchen."

That doesn't mean you must do a major renovation. However, you should do what you can to make the kitchen as attractive as possible to buyers.

Here are some ideas:

First, clear the countertops. Put away the toaster and other items. You want to make the entire countertop area seem as spacious as possible.

If the cabinetry is old, you can spruce it up by installing new knobs, handles and other hardware. A fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling can also make the kitchen look like it has had a major renovation – and it will only cost you a few hundred dollars. According to an article on the website HDTV.com, "The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware."

Replacing the countertops is a more expensive renovation, but it may be worth it if the current counters are old and worn.

Finally, when preparing your kitchen for a viewing, make sure it's clean and tidy. The garbage and recycling bins should be empty. Buyers will open cabinets so make sure items on shelves are neatly organized with the front labels facing forward.

There are many other ways to make the most important room in your home look great to potential buyers. Call today for more ideas.

 

How to Choose the Right Size HDTV

If you don't own one already, you may be tempted to purchase a widescreen digital television to enjoy your favourite movies, shows and sports programs. However, it can be difficult to select the right screen size, especially if you've been accustomed to viewing a TV with a traditional 4:3 screen.

When it comes to size, there are many factors that come into play, such as screen resolution and personal preference. However, the last thing you want is to purchase an HDTV that is too small for the room, or so big that it dominates the space.

Here's a tip:

The rule of thumb is to take the distance you'll be sitting from the television and multiple by five to get the screen size you need. So if you'll be sitting eight feet away, you'll want to look at HDTVs with screens that are in the 35-45 inch range.

A good electronics dealer can help you make the best choice.

 

Think, Act... Live!

“There's only one way you can fail that I know of, and that's to give up.” Harrison Ford
“Half the failures in life arise from pulling in one's horse as it is leaping.” Julius Hare
“Work is more fun than fun.” Noel Coward


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October 30th

 

How Long Does it Take to Find a New Home?

If you're planning to look for a new home sometime in the future, you may be wondering how long the process will take. How much time should you set aside for viewings? How many of the listed homes should you see?

Of course, the process varies from person to person. According to the Department of Housing & Urban Development, home buyers view an average of 15 properties before finally choosing to make an offer on one of them. That number may be a good benchmark for you.

On a Saturday afternoon, you can comfortably look at three or four potential properties. You can see more if you want to make a full day of it. One factor that impacts the home shopping process is how clearly you know what you're looking for.

For example, if you're certain you want a three bedroom backsplit, backing onto a wooded area or ravine, in an upscale neighbourhood, then the process is going to be fairly simple. You're just going to view properties that closely meet that criteria.

But if you're the kind of person who simply says, "I'll know it when I see it", then you'll need to look at several homes on the market. That means carving out plenty of room in your schedule for viewings.

A good REALTOR can help you understand what's available on the market and which homes are worth seeing. He or she can also help you determine how long the process will likely take, and show you ways to make the process go more quickly and smoothly.

 

Preventing Basement Leaks

If you have a basement, or even just a crawlspace, the last thing you want is water infiltrating the area. Even a minor leak can cause damage to walls and flooring, and may even lead to mould issues. Here are some precautions worth taking:

  • Every spring and fall, check the grading around your home. The ground should gently slope away from the foundation. Pay particular attention to areas where shrubs and other foliage make the grading difficult to see.
  • Look for cracks in the foundation. Get them fixed right away. Even a minor crack that doesn't appear to penetrate all the way through can cause problems eventually.
  • Check the caulking on basement windows. If it's worn and cracked, it's time for recaulking. The lifespan of most exterior caulking is less than five years.
  • Watch the eavestroughs when it rains. (You'll get wet, but it's worth it.) Make sure the water drains well away from the foundation.

Doing these simple inspections takes just a few minutes. Yet, if they prevent a basement leak, it's time well spent!

 

Think, Act... Live!

“Whatever the mind [of a person] can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Napolean Hill
“In all realms of life it takes courage to stretch your limits, express your power, and fulfill your potential.” Suze Orman
“If you come to the fork in the road, take it!” Yogi Berra.


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September 25th

 

How a Home Inspection Helps You

Whether you're considering buying a particular home, selling your current property – or both – a home inspection can help.

A home inspection is an inspection by a qualified professional who takes a close look at every aspect of a home – structure, wiring, plumbing, and more – and identifies issues you may not have noticed yourself.

For example, a home inspection can reveal that a furnace will need to be replaced soon, or that there is a water leak into the basement that needs to be fixed.

You'll definitely want to get a professional home inspection before you buy a particular property. That's why most offers to purchase a home are conditional upon passing a home inspection. (The last thing you want is to buy your dream home only to discover that the wiring needs to be updated!)

You may also want to get a home inspection on your own home before you list it for sale. A certificate from a qualified professional that states that your home passed inspection will make your property more attractive to buyers.

Many reputable home inspectors are members of a professional industry association.

In Canada:

In the U.S.

It's important to note that certification or licensing is not a requirement in many jurisdictions. So select a home inspector carefully.

Need to find a reputable home inspector? Call today.

 

Preventing Burglaries

There's no doubt about it. If you want to keep your home safe from break-ins, you should have good locks an all doors and windows. An alarm system is also a good idea.

But home security doesn't end with locks and alarms. There are other less obvious ways to keep your home safe. For example:

  • Install exterior lights with a motion detection feature. A light suddenly going on will almost always send a potential intruder away.
  • Look for – and if possible eliminate – spots around your property where someone can hide.
  • Always have some lights on in your home when you're away for an evening.
  • Never announce that you're on vacation or otherwise away from your home on social media sites. (Also ask your kids not to do this!)
  • Don't leave tempting valuables where they can be easily seen through a window.

In addition to good locking systems on doors and windows, simple precautions like these will significantly lower the risk of a break-in.

 

Think, Act... Live!

“The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence.” Vince Lombardi
“There's only one way you can fail, and that's to quit.” Bertie Charles Forbes
“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with some rain.” Dolly Parton


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August 22nd

 

Take a Walk on the Boardwalk (or Sidewalk)

If you've played the game Monopoly then you've probably picked up the Chance card that reads, "Take a walk on the Boardwalk. If you pass Go..."

That's good advice when shopping for a new home. When you see a property you like and you're thinking of making an offer, spend some time walking around the neighbourhood. This will give you a better sense of what it's going to be like to live there.

After all, the last thing you want it to buy a dream home only to find out later that there are issues with the neighbourhood that make living their miserable.

If you have kids, see how far of a walk it is to local parks, playgrounds, schools and community centres.

If you commute, you might also check out the route from the neighbourhood to your place of work. Is there a left turn that is likely to get backed up in the mornings?

Also check out how well the neighbours take care of their properties. Homeowners tend to keep their homes looking good if they enjoy the neighbourhood.

As you walk, listen. Are there noises from nearby high schools, industrial areas, or highways that are going to be unpleasant for you? Find out if the neighbourhood is near an airport flight path, or if there is a railway in the area. (Your REALTOR® can find that out for you.)

If you get a chance, talk to some of the neighbours. Ask what they like most about living in the area. You're likely to get some candid - and useful - answers.

Finally, spend some time visualizing living in the area. Can you see yourself enjoying what the neighbourhood has to offer?

If so, then buying a home in that area will likely be a good choice for you.

A good REALTOR® can help. Call today.


How to Find a Reputable Contractor

There are so many horror stories about disreputable or incompetent home improvement contractors that television shows have been made about them. Unless you want to be a guest on one of those programs, take steps to ensure you find a good contractor.

Here are some tips that will help:

  • Ask for references. Speak to the references.
  • Get a detailed written estimate of the work to be done, and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions.
  • Be wary of contractors who insist on large payments upfront. The payment plan should be reasonable and tied to work as completed.
  • Ask if the contractor is a member of any professional associations.
  • Don't deal with a contractor who offers you a no-tax, cash-only deal.
  • Ask the contractor to get the appropriate permits before starting your project.
These tips won't guarantee you'll hire a reputable contractor, but they will increase the chances that you do.


Think, Act... Live!

"The road to success is always under construction." James Miller
"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." Vincent Van Gogh
"Be the best. If others don't see it, who cares?" Oprah Winfrey

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July 25th

 

5 Tips For Selling Your Home Quickly

There are several reasons why you may need to sell your home quickly. For example, a job change may require a speedy relocation to another city, or you may have purchased another property and don't want to be stuck too long with two mortgages.

Here are some tips that can help get the sold sign on your front lawn sooner.

  • Be realistic with price. If you set the listing price higher than the current market value of your home, then you're not going to get many, if any, viewers. You want the list price to be attractive, which means listing at the current market value.
  • Get things fixed. You probably don't have time for a major renovation. So just make sure everything in your home is in good working order. Deal with any obvious maintenance issues, such as a leaking faucet or a gate hanging precariously on one hinge.
  • Ensure your home shows well, inside and outside. Eliminate clutter. Trim hedges. Make sure every room has adequate lighting, especially the basement. Imagine that a special guest is visiting your home, then clean up and prepare accordingly.
  • Be flexible with viewing times. You want as many potential buyers as possible to see your home. So don't restrict viewing times to just Saturdays. Make sure your home is as "available" as possible for showings. This may cause you and your family some inconvenience, but the reward will be selling your property sooner.
  • Work with a good REALTOR®. Find an agent who understands the area and the local market well. He or she will be able to recommend a variety of strategies that will help sell your home faster, and for a good price.
  • Of course, there's no way to guarantee that you'll sell your home within the time frame you want. But these tips will certainly increase the chances that you will.

Looking for a good REALTOR® who knows the area well? Call today.

Work With Neighbours To Prevent Break-Ins

There are few things more traumatic than a home burglary. That's why it makes sense to invest in good locks and, if necessary, a good alarm system.

There are also ways to work with your neighbours to prevent these crimes from occurring. In fact, police say that watchful eyes are one of the best ways to deter burglars on the prowl.

Police recommend that you know the names of all the neighbours adjacent to your property. Get in the habit of watching each other's homes. Stay alert to cars and people lingering around that don't seem to belong.

Another strategy is to set up a community Facebook page. That way, when someone sees something suspicious in the neighbourhood, they can immediately notify everyone by posting a Facebook message.

Finally, don't be a stranger. It has been proven that the better neighbours know one another, the lower the crime rate is in the area.

Think, Act... Live!

“Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.” Alvin Toffler

“Everything is in the mind. That's where it all starts. Knowing what you want is the first step towards getting it.” Mae West

“Don't be afraid to take a big step. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps." David Lloyd George


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June 20th

 

How To Be A Savvy Home Viewer

If you're planning on finding your next dream home, then you're probably going to view several homes on the market that meet your criteria.

You will want to make the right purchasing decision for you and your family. So, it's wise to be savvy when viewing properties for sale. Here are some ideas on how to do that.

  • Bring a notepad. Take notes, not only of the home's characteristics, but also of how you feel. For example, can you imagine yourself happily cooking up a storm in the kitchen? Do you see yourself entertaining family on the back deck?
  • Bring a measuring tape. Will the furniture you plan to bring fit? Your dining room suite? Your home fitness equipment?
  • Ask about maintenance. Is the property in a good state of repair? Will anything need to be replaced soon, such as the windows?
  • Bring a camera. Take lots of pictures of the home's exterior features. Don't make the mistake of thinking you'll remember how everything looked.
  • Check out the area. Do other homeowners take good care of their properties? This shows pride of ownership. How is the noise level? Is there a playground, or another area feature nearby?
  • Make a list of compromises. For example, are there only two bathrooms instead of three and, if so, can you live with that?
  • Make a list of bonuses. What features does the home have that, are not a necessity, but would be nice to have? For example, an entertainment bar in the basement recreation room.
  • Remember your budget. Is the price within your range? Can you afford to buy this home? The savvier you are when viewing properties on the market, the more likely you will be to find your next dream home.

Magnificent Makeovers On A Budget

Have you ever watched those TV shows where some lucky homeowner gets a room redecorated by a professional? To have something similar done in your own home you would have to make a serious investment, or become a TV show guest!

However, there are ways to re-decorate a room and make it look great – even spectacular – on a budget.

Say, for example, you want a living room makeover. If your sofa is worn you can buy a fitted sofa cover that will make it look almost new. Table cloths on worn end-tables and other surfaces can have a similar affect.

Don't forget the most economical redecorating trick of them all: Paint! A fresh coat of paint can bring a room to life!

Hanging a few new pictures can also have a dramatic impact on the look of a room. You don't have to buy a Rembrandt. Attractive, simply framed pictures will also add interest and colour.

With a little imagination, it's amazing how much you can improve a room on a little or even no budget.

Think, Act... Live!

“Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions.” Tony Robbins

“Things work best for those who make the best of how things work out.” John Wooden

“As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, think big.” Donald Trump


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May 15th

 

Discourage Buyers from Buying Your Home

If you're listing your home for sale, then of course you’ll want to make the best impression possible on potential home buyers. But, just to have a little fun, say you don't want to sell your property. What could you do to discourage those who view your home?

Well, you could have your pets in the home during viewings. That will certainly make it uncomfortable for some buyers – especially those with pet allergies.

You could also leave personal items around, such as family pictures and trophies. That will make it more difficult for a buyer to imagine himself and his family living there. It might even make him feel a bit like an intruder!

Clutter in bedrooms, closets and other areas of the home will make those spaces feel less spacious than they really are, as well as make visitors feel uncomfortable.

If you really want to turn off a buyer, then put off doing any minor repairs. A dripping tap, flickering light, dent in the wall, or other maintenance issues are certain to gain a buyer's attention.

If all that doesn't shoo away a buyer from your home, then stick around during a viewing and follow him and his family from room to room. That will certainly make him feel uneasy.

Of course, we're just having a bit of fun here. When you put your home on the market, you want to sell it. It’s easy to avoid all the pitfalls described above and ensure potential buyers appreciate the full value of your home.

So when you’re preparing for a showing, think of ways you can make your property appear its best, and make the buyer feel welcomed and comfortable viewing it.

Want more ideas on how to sell your home quickly and for the best price? Call today.

Doubling Your Storage Space (While Using the Same Space)

Finding storage space in the home is becoming increasingly challenging. These days, we all just seem to have more stuff!

Fortunately, you don't necessarily need to rent a storage locker or add a new room to your home to fit everything. There are many innovative ways to increase the capacity of the storage space you're already using.

For example, there are storage bins you can buy that are designed to fit neatly under a bed. Some have wheels, making the bins easy to pull out and access.

You've probably seen closet organizers at your local home improvement centre. These can easily double the storage capacity of a closet, while making the space look neater and more organized.

Finally, there are storage units available that are camouflaged as something else, such as an ottoman.

Visit your local home improvement centre. There are many more innovative storage solutions available for your home.

Want more ideas on how to double your storage space Contact Me Today!

Think, Act... Live!

“I not only use all the brains I have, I use all the brains I can borrow.” Calvin Coolidge

“Discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

“Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.” Alvin Toffler


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April 17th

 

How To Tell if a Neighbourhood is Improving

When you’re looking for a new home, you want to find one in a great neighbourhood – or, at least, in a neighbourhood that is on the upswing. How can you tell if a particular area is improving? Here are some common indicators:

  • Pride of ownership. Take a walk around the neighbourhood. Do you get a sense that people take good care of their homes? Are the lawns mowed? Is the landscaping trimmed? Are flowers planted? Homeowners are more likely to look after their properties when they like where they are living.

  • Home improvements. Are people investing in their homes? Are they getting their driveways re- done? Their windows replaced? Are there signs of home improvement projects? If so, this is a clear indication that homeowners like the area enough to invest in their properties.

  • Real estate sales activity. Do homes tend to sell quickly in the area? Do they sell for a good price? If so, the neighbourhood is probably in demand. If people want to live there, it's a desirable area.

  • Business investment. Are businesses investing in the surrounding area? Is there an increase in the number of upscale shops, health clubs, restaurants, and other commercial enterprises that often locate near desirable neighbourhoods?

  • Community involvement. Are there signs that the community plays an active role in the look and lifestyle of the neighbourhood? Are there neighbourhood picnics, yard sales and other get-togethers? Check Facebook.com to see if the neighbourhood has a community page.

  • City plans. Find out what plans the city has for the area. Will there be road improvements done in the near future? Are there any major construction projects on the schedule, such as a new school or community centre. Although such projects can be disruptive in the short term, they may improve the neighbourhood – and, as a result, boost the value of any home you buy – in the long-term.

Of course, the best way to find out the desirability of a neighbourhood is to talk to a good REALTOR® who knows the area. Call today.

Alternative to a Traditional Garage Sale

Do you have stuff in your home that you need to sell? Perhaps you have some suits or dresses that no longer fit, an older living room set that you've just had replaced, or a vinyl record collection you've been hanging onto for years.

If a traditional garage sale is not an option for you, there are other ways to sell those items.

For example, you could rent a stall for the weekend at a local flea market. This is relatively inexpensive and can be a fun activity for the whole family.

Another option is to advertise in your local community newspaper.

Advertising rates in local publications are often much lower than in major newspapers.

You can also advertise on the internet. There are several popular sites, such as Craigslist.com and eBayClassifieds.com (Kijiji.com in Canada) where you can advertise for free.

Want more ideas on how to get your unwanted stuff sold quickly Contact Me Today!

Think, Act... Live!

“The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.” Robert Frost

“You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what you're doing is work or play.” Warren Beatty

“For every sale you miss because you're too enthusiastic, you miss a hundred because you're not enthusiastic enough.” Zig Zigler


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March 19th

 

Potential Expenses In A New Home

When you see a new home you like on the market, it's easy to get distracted by all the features you love – the wrap-around backyard deck or the spacious rec room with plenty of space for entertaining. You just need to make sure that in all that excitement you don’t overlook any expensive maintenance issues that could be just around the corner.

Nothing lasts forever. The major components of every home – from the furnace to the roof shingles – need to be replaced eventually. Knowing when such maintenance issues are likely to arise can help you make a smarter decision about the home you're considering.

How do you do that?

When viewing a property, ask for the age of the major components of the home, such as the roof shingles, furnace, air conditioner, water heater, and appliances. Roof shingles may look merely weathered in spots – and you might think they have years of service left – when, in fact, they're due to be replaced in a year.

Also pay close attention to the backyard deck, fencing, flooring, and windows. Do any of those components look aged, worn, and in need of repair or replacement sometime soon?

Finally, don't forget to check the kitchen and bathrooms. Sinks, faucets, bathtubs, showers, and cabinetry have a life-span of about 10-15 years.

Of course, there are things you can't see, such as wiring, plumbing, venting, and other components of a property that may require maintenance soon. That's why it's so important to make any offer to purchase a home conditional on passing an inspection by a qualified home inspector.

Want more ideas on buying the right home for you? Contact Me Today!

The Fastest Way To Lower Your Energy Bill

Did you know that, next to heating and air conditioning, your lights consume most of the energy in your home? In fact, you can lower your electricity bill quickly – and substantially – simply by being smarter about lighting.

First, consider replacing your conventional light bulbs with the energy-saving variety. You've probably seen these at your local home improvement centre. Compact florescent light bulbs, for example, use up to 75% less energy.

Second, lower the wattage in some outlets. Is it necessary to have a 100 watt bulb in the furnace room? Try a 60 watt bulb.

Finally, think before you turn on the lights. Do you really need them on? Perhaps there's an alternative, such as opening a window blind to let in more sunlight.


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February 25th

 

Should You Buy a "Less Than Perfect" Home?

When you’re shopping for a new home, you want to find a property that has all the features and characteristics you want. A large deck surrounded by picturesque landscaping ... a beautiful kitchen with gleaming marble countertops... a cozy finished basement with fireplace....

You should look for the ideal home. You deserve it! But some home buyers make the mistake of becoming fixated on finding the "perfect" property, and passing too quickly on those homes that don't quite measure up.

Why is that a mistake? Because some of those less-than-perfect properties have the potential of becoming your next dream home.

First of all, a home that is lacking some desirable features, such as a finished basement, will probably cost less. Those savings may be more than enough to cover any needed upgrade or renovation.

Secondly, if you look at a home in terms of its potential, rather than the features it happens to have now, there will be more properties available on the market for you to consider.

If you're determined to have a large wrap-around deck for entertaining, for example, don't cross homes that don't have this feature off your list. At least not yet. Instead, view these properties with an eye on potential. Is the backyard big enough to accommodate a large deck? How would a deck like that look if added to this particular property? How much would such a renovation cost?

There's no doubt about it. You want to find a home that has all the features and characteristics you want. If you work with a good REALTOR®, there is a good chance you'll find a property that has most of them.

But keep an open mind. Sometimes a "diamond in the rough" can – with an upgrade or renovation – become a home you'll treasure for years.

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February 22nd

 

Saving Money On Insurance

Like heat, water and air conditioning, insurance is a home expense you have some degree of control over. In fact, there are ways to reduce your insurance costs by as much as 20%.

The thing to keep in mind is that insurance companies will often reward you – in the form of lower rates – when you do something to reduce the risk of damage to your property. That's why you can often get a discount when you install smoke detectors on all floors. Other discounts may be available if you get better door locks, an alarm system, upgraded wiring, and so forth.

Contact your insurance company and ask how you can lower your insurance costs.

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February 15th

 

Selecting the Right Decorator

You might have hired a painter, plumber, or renovator several times during your history of home ownership. But how many times have you hired a decorator?

For many homeowners, hiring a decorator is a first time experience. That’s what makes knowing how to choose the right one so challenging.

Here's a tip: Clip photos from magazines of rooms that match the "look and style" you want. Pay particular attention to desired colours, decor, accents, furnishings, and themes.

Then, when meeting with a prospective decorator, see if there's anything in his or her portfolio that matches your clippings. If there is, then you’ll have a good indication that he or she can pull off the look you want. 

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February 14th

 

How Much Can You Afford?

Why is it so important to know how much you can afford to spend on a home?

Two reasons.

First, you don't want to buy a property and then find out, only after you’ve moved in, that you can't financially maintain it. That would mean having to resell it under stressful conditions.

Second, you don't want to settle for a property that's less than ideal, when you really could have afforded the "dream home" you've always wanted.

So how do you figure out how much you can afford to pay for your next home?

The first step is to talk to a good REALTOR®. He or she will help you gain a clearer understanding of how much your current home will likely sell for in today's market. That amount, together with other financial resources you might have (such as savings), will determine your down payment.

The next thing you’ll need to figure out is your mortgage. Your REALTOR® can help you find a lender who will take a variety of factors into account – income, credit rating, debts, expected down payment, etc. – to calculate the maximum amount of mortgage for which you qualify.

Say, through the proceeds of the sale of your home combined with your savings, your expected down payment is $90,000. If the lender authorizes a mortgage of $270,000, then you can afford a $360,000 home.

Of course, that doesn't mean you'll need to spend that much. In fact, a home that meets your needs in terms of property type, features, and neighbourhood, may in fact cost you less.

One thing is for sure. A good REALTOR® can work with whatever amount you can afford and show you homes on the market that most closely meet your needs.

Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call today.

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