Lorenda Simms
Personal Real Estate Corporation

Sutton Group - West Coast Realty

Office 250-479-3333

Cell 250-217-5787

Email: lorendasimms@gmail.com

On your next free weekend, consider tackling any of these small renovation projects that make a noticeable impact in your home.


Ceiling fan

It is relatively simple to replace a ceiling mounted light fixture with a ceiling fan (with or without a light). Fans quietly circulate indoor air for added comfort year-round. Set the fan to spin counterclockwise in the summer to draw warm air upwards, and clockwise in the winter to push warm air down into the room.


Wall colour

A new wall colour punches up a room for less than $100. Consider these tips to save time and effort:

  • Use a disposable paint tray liner.
  • Use a paint pourer to keep your paint cans clean, which allows for a tighter seal.
  • Don’t rinse your roller; instead wrap it well in plastic film then put it into the refrigerator so it will be ready for the second coat.
  • When repainting a portion of a room, choose the same brand and type of paint (e.g., SICO interior eggshell) for a consistent finish.

Outdoor lights

Add a touch of cottage charm to your home with strings of patio lights, which softly illuminate outdoor dining and relaxation. Attach strings of lights to your porch ceiling or pergola with screw eyes and carabiners so that you can easily remove them for the winter months.


Pathway lights add to the safety and beauty of walkways during the evening. These lights are a cinch to install because they are usually solar-powered and fitted with a stake to push into the soil.


Motion sensor lights automatically snap on in the evening when a person (or an animal) passes nearby. It might be you coming home with an armload of groceries, or it could be a would-be intruder.


Faucet

The greatest challenge in buying a new faucet is deciding among the numerous choices. For years, shiny chrome was in style; now brushed chrome and matte black are popular options. Also, shapes have changed from short, thick styles to tall goosenecks. For the latest products and ideas, flip through home décor magazines. Whichever style you prefer, choose a product that will line up with the pipe openings in your countertop and sink.


Minor wall damage

Scrapes, dings and nail holes on walls tend to accumulate over the years. On a lazy weekend, tackle a room, or your entire home. Start by wiping off scuff marks with a soft, damp cloth. Next, fill holes and dents with drywall filler and smooth with a putty knife. Once the filler has dried, sand the surface, then paint it.


Stain your deck

Sunshine, foot traffic, and spilled food and drink can make a deck look weathered and discoloured. Restore the beauty of your deck in a single weekend by using a power sander to remove the old finish then clean off the dust and debris. Next, apply one or two coats of stain and sealer. Consider innovative new products such as the Canadian-made, Tall Earth Eco Safe Wood Treatment for decks, which is conveniently sold in powder form to be mixed with water.


Energy efficient window

Thermal energy can pass through window glass making rooms hot in the summer and cool in the winter. Upgrading to a window with a low-emissivity glaze reduces the exchange of heat and lowers your energy bills. Check with the provincial and federal governments as well as your local energy provider regarding rebate programs for homeowners who install new, low-emissivity windows.


Cabinet hardware

Do you like your kitchen cabinetry but feel that it looks a bit dated? New cabinet hardware can instantly change the look of your kitchen. Before you go shopping, count how many handles and knobs you will need and measure the distance between screw holes (or bring a handle with you to the store).


Showerhead

A luxurious rain shower experience worthy of a five-star hotel can be yours in just hours. New showerheads offer multiple spray options and some even have temperature controls. Best of all, many new products are considered low flow, which means they have been engineered to feel like a robust shower while using less water.


By the end of the year, you will have turned your free weekends into a home transformation.



Source: https://www.sutton.com/blog/home-improvement/weekend-home-renovation-projects
Photo: pexels.com

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Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or moving into your fifth house, one thing’s for sure: moving can be an exhausting endeavour. Excitement for your new life ahead can quickly give way to stress and exasperation as your to-do list forever grows. If there’s one thing you can do to prepare for your move and ease your transition, it’s to prepare a box of moving essentials. 

Also known as open-first boxes, these essentials boxes contain  all the crucial items you’re going to need immediately after crossing the threshold of your brand new home. It’s the first thing to be opened and is the key to an easy and successful move.

PRO TIP: Label your essentials box clearly and keep it away from your other moving boxes so it doesn’t accidentally make its way on the moving truck!

Now, if the idea of distilling down all your worldly possessions into a few boxes feels overwhelming, don’t fret, it can be done! This moving checklist will help you decide what can be packed for the moving truck and what should make its way over in your first carload.

Here are 15 items you should absolutely have ready for the first days in your new home:

Basic portable toolkit

You never know when you’ll need a hammer or a pair of pliers! You’d be surprised just how much you can get done with a screwdriver (preferably one with multiple bits), knife, wrench, tape measure, work gloves, drill, duct tape, and scissors.

Wallet and purse

Make sure you keep all your important cards and paperwork with you, including driver’s license, passports, birth certificates, professional certificates, credit cards, cheque books, medical records, school records, and any paperwork needed for moving such as leases, contracts, proof of purchases, etc.

Basic first-aid kit

Accidents happen so be prepared for nicks and scrapes with bandages and bandage wraps, instant ice/heat packs, gauze, antiseptic wipes, gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and tweezers.

Electronics and chargers

Don’t get stuck with dead devices: pack all the necessary cables and chargers for your phone, laptop, and tablet.

Change of clothes

This includes pajamas and underwear, but you’ll also want to make sure you have something to change into if you get sweaty or dirty throughout the day. A clean set of clothes can do wonders for your mood. 

Toiletries, medication, and personal care items

Moving sure can work up a sweat! Pack soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, bath towels, and washcloths for cleaning up after a hard day’s work. Don’t forget about any medications you might take daily and other personal care items such as cosmetics, hair products, hairbrushes, glasses, and contact lenses.

Kid essentials

Moving into a strange, new house can be a lot for kids. Ease their transition by ensuring their beloved items travel along with them, including favourite books, stuffies, lovies, and blankies. Important baby items, such as changing station supplies (diapers, creams, wipes, etc) should also be included.

Paper supplies

Paper towels, tissues, and at least one toilet paper roll for every bathroom!

Cleaning supplies

You never know what you’ll walk into when you unlock your front door. Be sure to pack cleaning supplies to tackle messes, including rags, antibacterial wipes, sponges, glass and multi-surface cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, trash bags, a bucket, broom, mop, dish soap, and baking soda for the fridge.

Pet essentials

Make sure Fido has adequate food, water, treats, chew toys, bedding, leashes, and collars, grooming items, clean-up bags, and an appropriate pet carrier.

Bedroom basics

If your new home is not furnished or you don’t have the time to set up your bed, an air mattress, folding bed or portable bed will ensure a restful night’s sleep. Don’t forget sheets, pillows, blankets, or sleeping bags.

Select small appliances

You’d be surprised how many simple meals can be made with just a coffee maker, kettle, toaster oven, pot, frying pan, and blender. Utensils like a spatula, wooden spoon, and a can/bottle opener can also come in handy.

Plates, utensils, and cups

You want to make sure you have something to eat off of so the whole family isn’t hovered over the sink to avoid getting crumbs everywhere. Consider using environmentally friendly or compostable eating utensils. 

Easy-to-make meals, snacks, and beverages

Pack food that requires little-to-no preparation like cereal and milk, instant oatmeal, bread and peanut butter, canned soup, fruit, nuts, granola bars, pasta and sauce, or canned/pouched tuna, salmon, and chicken. Gatorade, bottled water, juice, and sparkling beverages can quench thirst, while a glass of wine at the end of a long day can feel like a major reward.

Valuable possessions

Don’t take any chances with fancy artwork, high-priced jewelry, treasured family heirlooms, irreplaceable collectibles, and expensive electronics—it should all travel with you.


Honourable mentions: Other nice to haves

Of course, everyone will have their own idea of what they consider essential, but here are a few more items worth mentioning: 

  • shower curtains;
  • spare light bulbs;
  • extension cords;
  • flashlight;
  • batteries
  • a lamp or two (some rooms don’t have overhead lighting);;
  • temporary paper blinds (great if you are in a condo or apartment with large windows or a street busy with foot traffic);
  • air pump for mattress.

There are no right or wrong items to include in your essentials boxes—it all depends on your needs and preferences—but using this list as a starting point will allow you to transition into your new home with comfort and ease, with everything you might need at your fingertips! Happy packing! 



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/moving-essentials-every-home-buyer-should-pack-in-open-first-boxes/25770/1362
Photo: pexels.com

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If you’re retiring, looking to cut back on expenses, or perhaps have a bit too much extra space now that the kids have flown the coop, downsizing to a smaller home might be a smart choice. 


Regardless of your reasons for downsizing, it’s enough to make you wish there was someone who could do the hard work for you and make the whole process that much easier (like, say, a REALTOR®). 


Whether you or your older relatives have decided it’s time for you to move to a smaller home, or you’re just curious to learn more about the process, read on to get the low down on downsizing.

When is it time to downsize? 

Making the choice to downsize can be complicated, but identifying the tell-tale signs—and understanding the new freedom and lifestyle that comes with living in a smaller space—can make your decision easier.

Time to cash in

If you’ve owned a larger home for an extended amount of time, your property has likely appreciated considerably over the years, and moving from your large house to a smaller home or condo more suitable to your current and future needs can help provide financial freedom. 

Too much upkeep

If you’ve noticed maintaining your larger home is beginning to take its toll on you, it may be time to consider downsizing. Whether you’re tired of cleaning rooms and fixing or attending to aging appliances or home finishes regularly – or overpaying someone else to do it for you – moving to a smaller home can lessen the workload.

Empty nest

As your children grow up and move out, they leave behind their unused rooms and old belongings. While it’s certainly hard to leave a family home due to sentimental attachment, downsizing to a smaller place means you can spend less time cleaning and doing maintenance, while also saving money. Besides, given how limited housing inventory is in some parts of the country these days, you’d be giving another growing family an opportunity to fill out the space you’re leaving behind. 

Retiring

People often consider downsizing as they approach retirement. Decreasing the cost of property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance expenses, and house utilities frees up cash flow so your retirement savings stretch further. Downsizing can allow those who are retired to relax more and enjoy their time off from work with ease.

What’s the difference between downsizing and decluttering?

When it comes to moving, you might think you simply need to declutter your personal belongings to make packing easier. But there’s a difference between decluttering and downsizing. Karen Shinn, president of Downsizing Diva, explained decluttering focuses on appearance while downsizing focuses on functionality. 


“Let’s say you have a number of vases and 12 full China settings on display, but you really only ever use one, andt you also don’t want to part with any of them either. So, rather than getting rid of them completely, you would pack them up and put them away into storage only leaving out what you want people to see,” said Shinn. 


With downsizing, you actually eliminate the items you no longer use or have a purpose for and remove them from your home entirely. 


“Over the years, we all collect things that hold sentimental value, so when it comes to downsizing, it’s tricky because you have to decide what items you can and can’t part with,” said Shinn.

How far in advance do you need to start downsizing

Whether you’re moving to a smaller home, to a retirement community, or you’re renovating your home to be more accommodating for a life transition—whatever that is—start downsizing as soon as you can. Anyone who’s ever moved before knows just how stressful an endeavour it can be.


“As soon as you start to think about moving, start downsizing. Don’t wait,” said Shinn.


She explained you need to start small, so begin with downsizing a cupboard, a shelf, or a drawer. 


“It’s a process and not a fast one. But once you start, the more you do, the easier it becomes.”

Things to consider when downsizing

Moving into a smaller space means combing through everything you’ve accumulated over the years—which can be a daunting task if you’re not prepared. But Shinn recommends keeping these four questions in mind:

  • Do you want it?
  • Do you use it?
  • Do you need it?
  • Do you like looking at it?

If you answer no to any of those questions, it will be easier to part ways with items.


Shinn added it’s important to take a step back and evaluate what’s important to you, so you can decide what you actually need. For most people, when it comes to letting go of personal items, it’s easier if you know they’re going to someone who will appreciate them, rather than just donating them or throwing them out. Shinn describes this as a safe passage because you know the items you treasure and care for will be going to someone who will enjoy them as much as you did. Upcycling and Buy Nothing groups in your neighbourhood could be a great way to pass along these items, knowing they’ll be put to good use. 

Tips for downsizing

Sorting through a lifetime of belongings can be emotionally and physically exhausting, but getting rid of clutter can also be rewarding. Shinn recommends keeping these tips in mind to ease the process:

  • Start small, and start now.
  • Find a place for everything.
  • Be a generous giver.
  • Use the good stuff.
  • Edit your wardrobe seasonally.

How do you choose a professional downsizer

When choosing a downsizer, Shinn says to look for a company that’s part of the National Association of Specialty and Senior Move Managers (NASSM), which is the leading membership organization for move managers in the United States, Canada, and abroad. Companies that are members of NASSM must meet certain requirements and adhere to a code of ethics. NASSM members are also full-time workers and are required to take courses and be certified. Also, keep in mind your REALTOR® likely has downsizing contacts if you’re having trouble finding someone. 


Downsizing a home can lead to lots of stress and anxiety for anyone who has a hard time parting with their belongings, but as Shinn added, “when you simplify your home, you simplify your life.”



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/the-low-down-on-downsizing/25520/1366
Photo: pexels.com

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Working with a contractor, in lieu of DIY, can be the difference between a successful home renovation or repair and a botched project. Yet, finding a contractor for your home can be easier said than done. You want to make sure the person you hire has adequate experience, can give you the best value for your buck, and communicates in a clear and transparent way. 


How can you ensure you’re making the right choice when hiring your next contractor? 


We’ve outlined 10 questions you should ask to make sure you’re finding the best person or company for the job, helping you avoid any unpleasant surprises that may affect your wallet and leave you dissatisfied.

1. Ask yourself: How do I know a repair or renovation is best suited for a contractor instead of attempting to DIY?

DIY projects are a great way to save money on repairs and renovations around your home, but without professional training, you should limit yourself to small-scale jobs. For projects that require special skills and patience, such as kitchen and bathroom renovations, electrical wirings, exterior refinishings, landscaping, and roof repairs, it’s probably best to hire a general contractor. You can save yourself a lot of frustration and time, and you might even stay under budget by not cutting corners or fixing preventable mistakes. 


Blaise McDonald, President and CEO of MAC Renovations Ltd. in Victoria, British Columbia, says once you start getting into work that requires permits, it’s time to look for a contractor or you may face some liability risks. 


“If you’re doing repairs and you’re single-sourcing specialty contractors, the homeowner can usually manage that,” McDonald explains. “As soon as you get to a point where you’re hiring multiple trades, you become the prime contractor and it puts you at risk—liability risk for the safety and liability of all those companies.”

2. Ask yourself: Where should I look to find a contractor? 

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, so you can look to your family, friends, and colleagues for recommendations. A local REALTOR® is also a great resource when looking to hire a professional, as they likely have a list of trusted and licensed contractors they can refer you to. Alternatively, you can do an online search or use websites like SmartReno and HomeStars, which offer a database of contractors you can request quotes from.  

3. Ask your contractor: Are you licensed in the province you’ll be performing the job?

Licensing requirements largely depend on a contractor’s designated trade and the province they’re registered in. For instance, carpenters are only required to have trade certification in Quebec—every other province is voluntary. For electricians, trade certification for domestic and rural electricians is only compulsory in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario, but the requirements for construction electricians are different. Check your province’s requirements to confirm if the contractor you hire, and their subcontractors, are legally compliant. For peace of mind, you may want to opt for a contractor who has a certified trades designation through a post-secondary program or workplace training. 


“Certain work—electrical, gas work, plumbing—requires specialty trades,” McDonald says. “If you’re getting into large complex renovations or new home construction, you should find out if that contractor is a registered builder.”

4. Ask your contractor: What type of experience do you have?

One of the most important questions to ask contractors is how long they have been offering their services. You should also inquire about how much experience they have with the type of project you need help with and if they have specific areas of specialization. For example, if you’re looking to have your basement finished, you’ll likely want to hire someone who has completed this project before, not someone who has only ever worked on kitchens and bathrooms. 


Keep in mind, just because someone has 10 years’ experience doesn’t mean they’re automatically better for than someone with less. Each scenario will be different, but this type of information is always good to know about to help make a more well-rounded decision. 

5. Ask your contractor: Will you use your own crew or recruit subcontractors? 

If you’ve decided you want a general contractor, they’ll provide a plan that details what exactly you’ll need to complete your repair or renovation, including information on the team they need for the job. Many general contractors will have their own crew, but they may use subcontractors for tasks their team isn’t qualified to do. According to celebrity contractor Mike Holmes, contractors might bring engineers, architects, and interior designers into the mix. Just make sure you know about the subcontractor’s qualifications and experience levels before agreeing to anything. 

6. Ask your contractor: Do you have a website, portfolio, or photos that show your work?

Seeing is believing. Whether you’re relying on word of mouth, or on a web database, you should ask for examples of previous work the contractor completed. This will give you a sense of the workmanship, as well as the types of projects they tend to focus on. Most general contractors will also offer design services, so seeing past examples of their work will let you know if their style aligns with your overall vision. 


You can even take it a step further by asking for references. Get in touch with people who have worked with the contractor in the past if you want testimonials for a boost of confidence.


“Just do your due diligence,” McDonald recommends. “Ask to talk to previous clients, check on Google reviews, check business insurance, all that stuff should be available. A low price is not always the best price or real price. You want to make sure the contractor or organization you’re hiring has a proven track record or experience in that vocation. No website, no reviews online? Those are all red flags. If someone says you don’t need permits or not to get a permit, those are also red flags.”

7. Ask your contractor: What do your timelines typically look like? 

Time is always a key factor when determining the best contractor for your job. You’ll want to get a full-picture idea of what the timelines will look like—not just how long a project will take, but also when the team typically completes work, what it means if things get held up, etc.


Determine when work will take place so you can plan around the disruptions. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to wake up early, you certainly don’t want construction sounds starting at 6 a.m. If you want to continue being in good standing with your neighbours, giving them a heads up about potential noise would be helpful. 


It’s also helpful to know what your contractor and their crew’s workload is before they start working for you. This is crucial because issues with another project, like delays, could end up affecting the progress of yours. Ask how flexible they can be with your needs and how they divvy up their workload.


It’s also a good idea to ask your contractor what their contingency plans are in the event supplies get delayed or something else happens that pushes the timelines back. What does that mean for the completion of your project? How will it get handled? You don’t want to be left with a half-finished project for months on end because the allotted time for your project is up and the contractor can’t fit you into their current schedule. 

8. Ask your contractor: Do you have workers’ insurance? 

Worker safety should always be top priority. The last things you need on your plate are medical and property damage bills because the contractor you hired isn’t covered by insurance. Confirm the contractor has business liability insurance. You can also ask them about their Workers’ Compensation status. According to the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, request the contractor provide a Letter of Clearance from your province’s Workers’ Compensation program.


“[In British Columbia,] the homeowner can go to WorkSafe BC and see if the contractors have worker’s compensation and if there have been any issues (or claims), that’s public knowledge,” McDonald says. “A general contractor should have all the liability insurance certificates from all the subcontractors working on a specific project. The general contractor will manage those insurance certificates to make sure that everyone is covered. If there is a loss, it comes back to the general contractor, not the homeowner.” 


Course of Construction, otherwise known as Builder’s Risk insurance, is also something to consider. This covers the impact of fires, floods, theft, and other unwanted—and unpredictable—accidents. 


“Some mortgages require this kind of insurance in the event there’s a loss,” McDonald says. 

9. Ask your contractor: Does my project require permits, and if so, will you obtain them?

You may never know which permits you need until your contractor takes a look at the project at hand. In most cases, they’ll handle the process for acquiring the necessary permits from the city. That being said, it’s in your best interest to do your own research and be sure everything is being done properly. 


“A contracting firm like ours provides a single source of accountability,” McDonald explains. “We obtain and manage the permits on behalf of the client. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to get permits.”


The obtention of permits should also be factored into your overall timeline. Ask how far in advance these permits need to be obtained before work can start, and how long it usually takes for them to be approved. 

10. Ask your contractor: What type of contract do you provide and will it outline all your fees up front?

Before you give them money, clarify what type of agreement the contractor wants you to sign. Read the fine print and make sure it outlines all the terms you’ve both agreed to, including timing, insurance, permits, etc., and make sure you’re on the same page about the payment schedule. Some contractors will require a downpayment at the start of the project, while others only need to be paid at the end of the project. 


In addition to asking these questions, you want to make sure you get the best possible estimate for the work you’re hiring for. Don’t be afraid to shop around! The best way to do this is by requesting quotes from multiple contractors not only so you can see who will fit within your budget. But, just because a quote is lower doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go. Carefully compare your quotes to see what each contractor is offering. Make sure their workmanship, details, and timelines are aligned with your own ideas.



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/speed-date-your-contractor-10-important-questions-to-ask/25337/1363
Photo: pexels.com

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As a first-time home buyer, you probably already know you’ll need a chunk of cash for a down payment. But lots of other costs can creep up when it’s time to jump into the real estate market, so it’s a good idea to save up for them and be ready for when the time comes to make an offer. Here’s how one first-time home buyer is navigating this exciting time.

Start budgeting early 

When Montrealer Kelly Wong decided last summer to buy a two-bedroom condo or small home on her own, she knew she had lots of homework to do, including figuring out what she could afford. 


TIP: Using an online tool like the REALTOR.ca Mortgage Payment Calculator can allow you to see what your mortgage expenses will look like.


Wong also teamed up with Jean-François Gionet, a Broker and REALTOR®, with the Katia Samson Real Estate Group to make sure she was getting the best experience possible. Gionet helped Wong think about saving up for the required down payment, plus other related costs.  


“On top of preparing for the biggest purchase in your life, you also have to consider your other (living) expenses, including car payments, home insurance, and more,” says Wong. 


Before she was pre-approved for a mortgage, Wong also consulted a financial advisor who helped her with calculations.


“Even when you get numbers saying you can afford a mortgage of $1,000 a month, I know that’s just your mortgage payment; there are still utilities, property taxes, condo fees, and things like Netflix,” she says. “I think it’s good to overestimate what you really need to pay every month, so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises.”


It’s also wise to put money away monthly as part of an emergency or savings fund. If your furnace breaks down, your roof leaks, or you desperately need to upgrade your dated kitchen, those costs are all on you.

Prepare for extra costs associated with buying a home

Beyond the significant deposit on the home, you might have to pay extra for a parking spot if you’re purchasing a condo. You’ll also need to put some cash away for a professional home inspection, which could run between $500 to $1,000 or more depending on where you live. Then there are different closing costs you might have to pay on top of the final price for the property. Some costs are offset by various tax credits, which your REALTOR® can explain.


“Another thing I budgeted for is Quebec’s transfer tax, also known as the Welcome Tax,” says Wong. 


Land transfer fees vary from province to province. In Wong’s case, it’s based on the municipal assessment, and can be anywhere from 0.5% to 1.5% of the total cost of your home. You can use the REALTOR.ca Land Transfer Tax Calculator to get an idea of what some costs might be. 


Then there are notary or attorney’s fees to pay for, which cover the research and paperwork associated with the transfer of properties. Sometimes, you’ll have other smaller costs, like reimbursing the sellers if they paid for certain utilities in advance or a fee to change the locks if you choose to do so. It’s also important to have a cushion for things like installing a security system, plus fun stuff like buying new furniture or sprucing up your décor, adds Wong.


“You want to have the money prepared for things like notary fees, but you might want a new paint job or a facelift for the kitchen cabinets or to pull up the carpet,” she says.

Let your REALTOR® guide you through the process

Wong says she found working with Gionet extremely helpful because together they talked through her needs, wants, and budget. 


“For example, we talked about parking spaces—indoor versus outdoor, one or two—and whether I wanted a balcony; he helped me evaluate what’s really important to me,” says Wong. “He also helped me realize I want a nice place in a nice neighbourhood near public transportation, but perhaps not in a super modern, fancy building where your condo fees could be quite expensive.” 


They also discussed which types of properties would be good for resale down the road, plus the option of renting out a bedroom to a student to help offset part of the mortgage cost.


When you’re a first-time home buyer, you’ll have lots of questions. The best solution is teaming up with a REALTOR® who can pave the way for you. For more information, consult the Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA) Home Buyers’ Road Map, which features more great tips to make the home buying journey easier.

The information discussed in this article should not be taken as financial or legal advice. This article is for informational purposes only.



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/first-time-home-buyer-budgeting-what-you-need-to-know/25325/1362
Photo: pexels.com

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Pets are part of the family. But unlike the rest of us, they don’t pick up after themselves. From litterbox aromas to wet-dog scent on your couch, our furry friends can bring with them some less-than-lovely pet odours. How to remove the smell of pets from your home? We’ll show you.


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Over the course of the pandemic, homeowners have been re-evaluating what they need most out of their property. For some, this has meant packing up and downsizing to a smaller city or community for greater living space, privacy, and a more relaxed pace of life.


Both statistically and anecdotally, we’ve witnessed buyers moving to the suburbs and other rural areas over the past two years. Small towns like Squamish, Wasaga Beach, Kingston, and Collingwood have been home to some of Canada’s fastest growing populations lately, a trend largely attributed to residents moving from urban centres in search of more affordable housing, according to a report from RBC Economics.


Why have buyers been moving to smaller cities?

Right now, there are two main reasons buyers are flocking to smaller Canadian cities—affordability and lifestyle.


Colin Breadner, a REALTOR® with One Oak Group at eXp Realty in Prince George, British Columbia, explains over the past two years, he’s helped more people move from larger cities to Prince George than he has in the last 15 years. Many of these buyers are from British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, and several from Ontario. Most purchasers are in their late 20s and early 30s, said Breadner, and have been struggling to get ahead in the country’s more expensive markets. 


“Our cost of living is low enough that people who are starting off, if they come up here and work for a while, they can really get ahead,” Breadner said. “I know the people who have been moving up here are just basically priced out.” 


For Ryan O’Donnell, a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Park Place in Sydney, Nova Scotia, the Cape Breton market has been driven by out-of-province buyers since the pandemic began, a pattern that was present even leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. After years of outward population migration, the tides have started to turn as younger home buyers have returned to the Cape Breton area thanks to remote working and comparatively affordable real estate prices. Communities like Sydney offer everyday amenities, with the added benefit of a country lifestyle close to a downtown district.


“The pandemic really opened a lot of people’s eyes on what’s really important in life,” said O’Donnell. “Cape Breton, I think, offers a quieter, slower pace of life that is a little more laid back.”

What are buyers looking for in smaller cities?

Buyers who are flocking to Canada’s smaller cities are in search of all kinds of properties.


Dale Devereaux, a broker and co-owner with Century 21 Maximum in Red Deer, Alberta, explains many people are looking for more space.


“We’ve certainly seen a lot of people who have been working out of their homes and the home feels like an office,” said Devereaux. “I think you’ve seen some people take on some properties that are a little bit bigger, [and have] a little bit more room for the family so the office isn’t the living room.”


Compared to the rest of the country, Alberta’s real estate market experienced a downward trend during the first half of the pandemic, but has seen sales increase within the last year, explains Devereaux. Job opportunities and construction investments have piqued buyer interest, especially out-of-province buyers who are looking for income properties. In many cases, purchasers have relocated to Red Deer—conveniently located in between Edmonton and Calgary—to stretch their dollar and still be close to the bigger cities.


Devereaux explains, “Maybe their kids have lived here for a few years, they’ve gotten a little bit older themselves, their homes have gotten to a price where they are now worth over $1 million. They can come here, buy a home for $400,000 or $500,000, put some money in their pockets and be close to their kids. That’s the biggest movement I saw last year.”


In Cape Breton, purchasers have been interested in all kinds of housing options, including farming, waterfront and income properties, said O’Donnell. Cape Breton University attracts a large international student population into Sydney, which has opened opportunities for those looking to purchase property. The rise of remote working, which has enabled some buyers to move around the country with ease, has also played a role in what purchasers are looking for in a home.


“[If] they like the house and the property, they’re asking about the internet connection because they used to be based out of Toronto and they now have an opportunity to work the same job [from home]. I’ve seen a lot of people who are moving here for that reason,” said O’Donnell.

Is a smaller city or community the right fit for you?

If you’re looking to make the switch to smaller city living, there can be many upsides.


In Prince George, Breadner explains the benefits are purely lifestyle oriented. For one, it’s typically a shorter commute to amenities and workplaces. In larger centres where rental costs are higher, saving for a downpayment can be much more difficult, but smaller communities can offer a lower barrier to entering homeownership.


“You can buy a newer home here for probably half or a quarter of a big city. You can jump on an airplane and be in Vancouver, Calgary, [or] Edmonton within an hour if you want to go to those areas. And, because we have such a lower cost of living, you can afford those things,” said Breadner.


Those who crave small-town living with urban conveniences may also find comfort in smaller cities. In addition to restaurants, businesses, and recreational opportunities like golf courses and lakes, Devereaux said Red Deer has a prominent volunteer community and a close-knit feel that people are drawn to.


“You can walk somewhere and you’ll run into five people and you can say ‘Hey, how are you doing today? How are your kids?’ We still have that feel to it even though we’re 100,000 people,” he said.



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/why-a-smaller-city-could-be-a-good-move/25280/1361
Photo: pexels.com

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Throw open the windows and let the sunshine in — it’s springtime! Which means we’re getting our cleaning and dusting game on. Spring cleaning is an annual tradition, but even the most seasoned spring cleaning pros miss a spot or two. Here are some of the most common places you probably forgot to clean.

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Thanks to social media platforms like YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram, there’s an almost infinite amount of DIY inspiration out there. However, before you tackle that built-in bookcase or refresh your home with paint, you should know the DIY world is full of common—but thankfully avoidable—mistakes. To help you navigate your next DIY project, we spoke with three local home-owning DIY pros about the most common mistakes that are made.

Not doing enough research beforehand

When renovating her home, Tobie (@tobesgoesdiy) says she didn’t do enough research on installing tongue and groove laminate flooring and ended up installing it backwards. Similarly, in one of her first tiling projects, Dalyn (@humpjackhome) thought the bigger the tile, the faster the job. Instead, measuring and cutting the large tiles was more time consuming and ended up being more unforgiving than small tiles would have been. What may seem like a simple and straightforward task can quickly turn into a complex—not to mention, expensive—project if you haven’t done enough research.

Not investing in the right tools and materials

DIY can be a thrifty option, but one common mistake is not investing in the right tools and materials at the beginning. After painting her bathroom, Paisley (@thehomebodyden) says she found the use of cheap rollers and painter’s tape had led to paint seeping beneath the edges. Instead of crisp lines, she had an uneven finish requiring her to meticulously fix the lines with a brush.

While it can seem cost effective to make do with the tools you already have or to try and find the cheapest option, fixing the mistakes caused by subpar equipment will end up losing you time and money in the long run. Not having the right tools for more technical or potentially dangerous jobs, like hanging drywall, could even put you at risk of injury.

Not knowing how big the project is

Not every DIY project can be done over the weekend! Make sure you’re fully aware of how much work a project will be and that you’re ready to give it the time and effort it requires. Working too much for too long on one project can lead to burn out, diminish your excitement and commitment, and cause you to rush or make more mistakes along the way.

Not considering your home’s quirks

A common DIY mistake is not considering how your existing walls and ceilings could affect your project. From how your walls were painted originally to whether your ceiling sags, your home’s quirks could quickly derail your DIY.

“I wasn’t prepared to work with my existing walls and ceiling, which affected me while I was installing the kitchen,” Tobie says. “My cabinets were sitting too high to the low part of the ceiling and some of the doors wouldn’t open.”

She ended up having to spend a lot of time shifting everything down to leave a larger gap between the cupboard and ceiling.

While painting seems like an easy DIY (so long as you have the right equipment), Dalyn says to beware of oil paint, which is often used in old houses, as regular latex paint will peel right off of it.

Not having an overall vision for your space

If you’re doing a larger scale project, like a whole room redo, it’s much better to have an overall vision before you start buying materials or décor. In the past, Dalyn says she would replace certain things as needed, such as a bathroom vanity. Afterwards, when she was ready to tackle the rest of the room, instead of getting to fully embrace the style she dreamed of, she had to work with what was already there.

Not budgeting enough

Perhaps the biggest DIY mistake is not budgeting enough for a project. Surprise costs do arise and too many small one-off items sure add up (such as replacing that cheap tool you purchased thinking it would be OK). In Dalyn’s experience, DIY projects always end up costing more than you think they will, and suggests adding a cushion of at least 30% to your total estimated budget.

These six common DIY mistakes all lead to the same thing: lost time, wasted effort, and additional costs. Luckily, you can learn from those who have gone before and avoid most of these DIY mistakes through proper planning and attention to detail.



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/6-common-diy-mistakes-you-can-avoid/25248/1367
Photo: pexels.com

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Whether your clients are seeking to buy into a new house already built, a semicustom home as part of a development or a pure custom home built to their personal specifications, you’ll want to help them create a schedule that allows pertinent questions to be asked in advance for the builder and throughout the build process.


While new builds tend to be designed with modern living in mind, have the latest in technology and plumbing, electrical and efficiency systems, you want to steer your clients to reputable builders and include references from people who have bought their finished products.


“No matter what you are buying, it is always a case of buyer beware,” says Fox, who has been involved in every type of home build and sale over the past 30 years. “There is no such thing as a stupid question in this process. Ask everything you want to know and put it in writing.”

Determine the warranty and financial details

The warranty program for a new home will likely provide protection against defects, determine how fit the home is to live in, address construction practices and consider other aspects of the build, so it’s important that your clients understand what it does and does not cover.


Every province has a different warranty program, including Ontario, which along with the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, requires builders to provide home buyers with a third-party warranty.


Elsewhere in Canada, a home warranty is left up to the builder, although Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) members must offer one as a condition of membership. You can search for professionals on the CHBA website.


“You need to be aware – does my house have a warranty and is it enrolled in a warranty program and if not, why not?” Fox says. “Ask who is backing up the warranty program. And even if you are buying a resale, is the builder offering a warranty? You need to know what might happen if, say, there is a leak in the roof or a crack in foundation.” All these are important questions a REALTOR® should make sure their clients ask.


Another consideration for new construction home buyers in some provinces, like Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, is the provincial sales tax (such as the harmonized sales tax in Ontario). New home construction in these provinces are subject to this tax but a resale is not. Make sure your clients check to see if there is provincial sales tax and if it is built into the new home construction price. Your client may be eligible for the GST/HST New Housing Rebate.


You will also want to make sure your clients ask what protections there are for the deposit and who holds it. In Ontario for example, condo deposits are held by a solicitor and the builder in a trust account but for houses, the deposit can go right to the builder and he or she can use it to build the house.

Make a detailed schedule and checklist

Once your clients have covered basics such as securing financing, getting pre-approved for the buy, determining budget, knowing the taxes and having a general knowledge of detail items such as window treatments, it’s important that buyers and builders agree on a schedule where items can get checked off as they are completed, says Fox. There can be delays but having an agreed upon schedule is a great guideline.


What may seem like small details add up to the entirety of the build. For example, how many pot lights per square foot is the builder allowing? What are the appliances, what are the countertops, what are the baseboards and windows, what kind of garage door, what is the heating and cooling system?


“We are talking several pages, here, not a quick list that is five lines,” says Fox.


This schedule should also include a payment structure: what buyers need to pay and when. Often with new builds you are making payments in installments, but make sure this is all laid out ahead of time.

Buyers should also be aware that any upgraded features could mean upgrades in your payments. As their trusted advisor, you should be able to help decipher any confusing clauses in fine print.

Research the lot and the neighbourhood

When purchasing preconstruction, it’s important your clients look at what’s happening in the neighbourhood. If it’s a new subdivision, is a change in the demographic bringing more young families into it and, if so, are there provisions with the municipality for a new school—or does the existing school have enough capacity?


“Lots of times we see new subdivisions go up but there isn’t adequate public transportation or schooling,” says Fox.


If your client is buying an infill where an old house has been torn down for a new one, you want them to determine what’s on the lot environmentally. For example, old houses might have been on an oil heating system and you want to know if there is perhaps a buried oil or propane tank on the property.


“Even if an old pool has been filled in, you want the builder to warrant it, because it could impact your insurance later,” says Fox. “You want to determine things like, did they keep the old foundation or is it brand new?”


There can be other surprises along the way, such as restrictive covenants common in subdivisions, which can prevent residents from erecting, say, clothes lines or fences over a certain height.


It’s common to see a registered easement for electricity wires that run across the back of land, which means utility companies can have the right to cross your property, says Fox. So, if your clients want to build a pool, there could be easements that would prevent them from doing so.

Make sure there is an inspection

Vancouver REALTOR® and agent Ron Basra, of Re/Max Select Realty, has specialized in spec homes during his 25 years in the business.


He recommends to buyers that, aside from researching the builder’s reputation, they need to get a reputable inspector to ensure the job has been done right.


“When you do your research on the builder, see if they are just doing it part time and if she or he has any claims against them under the warranty program,” says Basra. “Look at previous homes the builder has built and, if you can, talk to homeowners who have purchased before you.”


In the end, buying new home construction is a considerably different process than with resale homes.


There can be delays, usually more money has to be paid up front (although new builds can have the advantage that a price can be locked in early) and warranties and any upgrades need to be well understood by the buyer.



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/tips-for-helping-buyers-navigate-new-home-construction/
Photo: pexels.com

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Most of our homes are works in progress – budget and time are two big factors, but our own design knowledge can also be a constraint. Fortunately, these timeless home-decor tips will show you how to improve your own interior-design skills to create a home that truly reflects who you are.

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Investing in the exterior of your home is important. Not only can exterior home renovations like adding a new roof, windows, or doors add immediate benefits and curb appeal, they have the potential to increase the value of your home and give you a greater return on investment (ROI) when you decide to sell.


A 2021 Canadian Real Estate Renovation Trends report from RE/MAX, which used data collected by Leger marketing firm, said more than half of Canadians renovated their home during the pandemic for personal or “non-ROI” purposes. According to the report, 29% chose to renovate for non-essential “lifestyle” reasons, such as recreation-inspired projects, while 16% of Canadians renovated to increase the market value of their home to sell within in the next one to three years.


Similar to interior home renovations, not all exterior renovations are created equal, with some costing much more up front, while others are relatively more cost-effective. If budget is a concern, read on to learn about some of the most cost-effective exterior home renovations that could help increase your ROI when it comes time to sell.

Why is curb appeal important?

The way your home looks from the outside—or its curb appeal—gives potential home buyers their first impression of the property even before they step inside. This is why exterior renovations that help boost curb appeal are important, as the aesthetic look of a home’s exterior can give the buyer a sense of what they can expect to find once they walk through the front door. In other words, if your home presents itself well, the yard is nicely kept, the paint is vibrant, the siding is aging well, and the roof is in good shape, prospective buyers could be more inclined to look inside if they like what they see on the outside. 

What are the current trends in exterior renovations?

If you’ve been thinking about completing an exterior home renovation project this year, My Design Home Studio suggests while “farmhouse vibes are here to stay,” five other exterior design trends will gain popularity in 2022, including “a shift toward natural textures, a stronger connection to the outdoors, and a minimalist approach to architecture.”  

These trends are: 

  • Natural textures: Blonde woods, hand-sawn beams, and aged brick are popular, but you can recreate these looks at a lower cost with wood-like siding or stone-like accents.
  • Dark exteriors: Pairing lighter siding and brick with moodier blacks and charcoals is becoming a trend, so if you’re looking to sell soon it might be worth the investment now. 
  • Black accents: External features—like door handles, door frames, locks, shutters, etc.—are being swapped out for matte black instead of classic brass or silver. It’s a more modern look without requiring a total overhaul.
  • All-season outdoor entertaining: Adding a patio or deck to your yard can help increase curb appeal, especially when equipped for year-round usage. Covered areas for places with a lot of snow, or lounge areas with an outdoor fireplace (depending on your municipal bylaws) for places that remain relatively dry during the winter, are great additions to help extend patio season.
  • Natural light: Large panoramic windows that will flood your home with natural light are definitely a bigger investment than say, a door handle, but they’re a hot commodity as buyers are looking for homes with more natural light. 

Top exterior renovations to help your ROI

While trying the latest renovation trends is a great way to ensure your home fits the modern look, there are tried and trusted exterior renovations that are not only cost-effective, but also known to help increase a home’s ROI.


According to Alex Obradovich, a REALTOR® and sales representative with Chestnut Park® Real Estate Limited Brokerage in Toronto, the best cost-effective exterior renovations would be “functional over the cosmetic.”


“Taking a good look at what’s necessary to fix will be the most important when it comes to selling your home in the future,” explained Obradovich. “Common items may be drainage, grading, deteriorated items or heating/cooling efficiency problems like making sure windows and chimneys are sealed properly.”


However, once the functional exterior renovations are complete, Obradovich says cost-effective and cosmetic upgrades to improve your home would be painting and tidying up landscaping.


“Plus, both of those can be done yourself inexpensively,” he added.


Other things to look at would be your roof, garage door, front door (steel and fibreglass are becoming popular materials), and siding. The average cost to install an asphalt roof in Canada is around $4,750 (depending on the scale of the project), while replacing a double-car garage door can cost between $1,300 and $3,500. If you’re trying to stay on budget, you can also revamp your home’s exterior by swapping out old furnishings for newer pieces and adding potted plants and annual flowers for a pop of colour.


The best way to assess what your home needs is by enlisting the help of a REALTOR® who will be able to give you insights into what buyers are currently looking for in your neighbourhood and what renovations may help sell your home quicker—and for a better price.


Your REALTOR® can also provide you with contacts for roofers, painters, contractors, etc. to help you find the best person for the job.




Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/cost-effective-exterior-renovations-that-could-help-sell-your-home/24343/1362
Photo: pexels.com

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Blowing the budget is everyone’s biggest fear when it comes to home renovation projects. Even if you follow standard guidelines—like building in a 20% cushion to cover unexpected costs, vetting contractors, and staying focused—it’s hard to prevent spending more than you’d like to. But with some strategic planning, you can save money in the lead-up to your big remodel and cut costs without cutting corners. 

1. Figure out your priorities

We get it: You’re super excited to get into your new house, and you can’t wait to make it yours. But before you start envisioning walls coming down, scale down your big dreams, suggests Toronto financial counsellor Jessica Moorhouse, who is also host of the Mo’ Money Podcast. 


“Yes, there’s a long list of things you want to do to improve your property, but be patient,” she says. “Take your time and slowly save up so you can pay for the renovations in cash.”


Avoid taking on more debt by making a list of what must get done versus what you wish can get done, a strategy that paid off for Moorhouse, who bought a house four years ago and made improvements without borrowing more money.


“We’ve paid for everything in cash, living within our means and saving up for those renovations. It makes us feel good, because we didn’t have to worry about adding more debt onto our budget. That’s the best strategy.”

2. Take a closer look at your new home’s utilities

Instead of simply swapping your name onto the property’s current utility bill, shop around for a better deal. 


“See if another utility company can provide the same service for less money,” suggests Moorhouse. 


“Sometimes, it’s so chaotic when you settle into a new home, but don’t let your home insurance auto-renew without checking with different providers to see if you can get the same policy for a cheaper price; that could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in the long run.” 


Other things you can probably get a better deal on include your internet, cable or satellite provider. 

3. Keep yourself accountable

Instead of focusing on cutting out your daily $7 latte, Moorhouse recommends tracking your spending and making a budget to see where all your money is going. 


“Look at every single line item and ask if it makes sense or if you get the same thing for less money,” she says. “Doing that–especially for monthly bills–is important, because if you can decrease those expenses, you’ll be saving much more money.”


One way to make sure you stick to the saving mindset? Plan a year ahead. 


“Don’t just decide to redo a room on a whim; sit down and ask yourselves, ‘What are we doing this year?’,” says Moorhouse.  


“I’ve got a whiteboard on my fridge outlining what we’d like to do in priority sequence. We know we won’t do reno number two until number one is paid in cash. Keep checking in with yourself about your financial plans.”

4. Out with the old, in with the not-so-new

Instead of paying full price for new furniture, appliances and decorative accessories, check out online marketplaces where you can buy or sell just about anything. 


“Our previous owners had put in a brand-new, but ugly stove that had never been used, so we sold it and used the proceeds to buy a new one,” recalls Moorhouse. “Something you don’t like may be exactly what someone else is looking for.”


You may also want to check with friends, neighbours and family to see if they’re purging things you might need. For example, repurposing someone’s kitchen cabinets or leftover construction materials can save big bucks. Or, purchase good quality second-hand furniture that can be transformed with a coat of paint, adds Moorhouse. 

5. Don’t forget about un-sexy home improvements, like maintenance

In addition to your budget for upgrades, set aside money for when things ultimately break down, cautions Moorhouse. 


“We bought a 12-year-old place and once we got the keys, things started breaking down: We had to replace our air conditioning unit, our boiler, our dishwasher and our fridge,” she recalls.


Although these purchases weren’t high on Moorhouse’s wish list, she knew going in to expect repair and maintenance costs, so the funds were there. 


“Depending on how old your house is, you need to set aside one to 2% of your home’s value for maintenance every year,” she suggests.


Your home inspection report can be a valuable tool; many inspectors include a range of fees associated with maintenance, repair and replacement costs. Keeping these tips in mind as you plan your renovation will save money and buy peace of mind.



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/saving-for-a-renovation-tips-to-keep-homeowners-on-budget/
Photo: pexels.com

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Deciding whether or not it’s time to move—either across the country, province, or within the same city—is a difficult decision to make. Are you ready to uproot your life and leave your friends, family, and job behind? Are you ready to either sell your home, end your lease, or move out of your parents’ home for the first time? Regardless of your situation, deciding to move is a momentous life event and one that doesn’t often come easy.

If you’re unsure whether or not moving is the right call right now, read on to learn about some of the different reasons why people often choose to move to a new home.

Common reasons people choose to move  

There are, of course, the obvious reasons why you might consider moving. Perhaps you’re starting a family and you need a bigger home with a fenced-in backyard where the kiddos can play. Or, maybe all of your children have moved out and you’re ready to downsize. 

But other common reasons could be:

  • you’re growing tired of your commute to and from work; 
  • you have safety concerns in your neighbourhood;
  • you aren’t getting along with your neighbours; or 
  • you’ve received a job offer in a new city.  

To get a better understanding of why some homeowners have recently decided to move, we spoke to James Strathy Warren, a REALTOR® and salesperson for Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. Brokerage, who revealed some of the frequent themes he’s seen from his clients.

Future planning

Warren says a change in interest rates can be a factor. When people find out interest rates are going up, they’ll look at moving beforehand to lock in on a competitive mortgage to save money in the long run. Not everyone moves when the interest rates change, but it’s something that can trigger people to start assessing the market and whether they’re happy where they are. 

Bang for your buck

Finding a renovated house in a “move-up” market can be a big deciding factor for many people. Warren suggests this can be less expensive than finding a home that requires a substantial renovation, which is appealing to those who don’t want to go through the process.

“There’s also the time factor of a lengthy renovation as well as the associated costs,” he explained. “So, essentially you’re buying your new home at a slight discount.”

Market trends

For those looking to move up, Warren explained sometimes in a market that tends to pull back in price increases, the spread can be less between the sale price of their existing home and the one they’re purchasing. For people scaling down, such as empty nesters, when the market is moving up, it can be a great time to sell.

“It’s always good to try and time the market, this is very important for people moving up,” said Warren.

Time of year

When moving out of a home, Warren said historically, the best months to sell for the highest sale price are usually February and May.  

“February, because January is usually hit with snow and there is so little [on the market], so appetite gets pent up,” he explained. “May, because everything is geared to the school year and people want to settle prior to summer vacation and the beginning of the school year. Sometimes we do see a good market in late September and early October when there is generally less supply.”

How can a REALTOR® help you make your decision?

Ultimately, when it comes to deciding if you should move, it’s up to you and your family to make the call. A REALTOR® can guide you through the decision process to ensure you’re making the move for all the right reasons, providing current market trends and conditions, and asking the right questions to help you feel informed in your choice.


A REALTOR® can also share properties available in your price range and desired location; answer any questions you have about different local neighbourhoods and property values; and they can help you decide whether or not it’s the right time to buy based on the market.


Warren says being aware of the market and how homes are performing in the areas you’re considering is very important when it comes time to decide whether or not you should sell your home.


“I think to be successful in a purchase, or when you’re selling your home, you should view houses first and get an idea of the houses available to you and watch their movement—their days on market and their sale prices. If you’re comfortable, then jump in and buy first, but make sure your home is looking its best and well-priced before putting it on the market,” said Warren.


Working with a REALTOR® also gives you a better understanding of what’s happening in the market and if it’s the right time to make moves.


“It’s all about ‘reading the market’ and hopefully connecting the pieces of the puzzle,” added Warren.


While the prospect of moving might be daunting, there are different factors and indicators to help make your decision. If you’re thinking about embarking on a home buying journey, be sure to speak with a REALTOR® today.



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/when-is-the-right-time-to-move/24677/1362
Photo: Pexels.com

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With an entire new year ahead of you, decluttering your home may not seem so hard. But after January, when that new year energy begins to wane, the prospect of tackling such a big project tends to overwhelm.


Enter this month-by-month guide to clearing the clutter from every room of your house. I’ve zeroed in on areas of the home that I find fit with certain events, such as back-to-school or spring fashion, but feel free to reorganize as you see fit to tackle specific areas of your home that need attention sooner.


No matter what, by the end of the year, your home should be feeling more spacious and, perhaps more important, you should be feeling more capable of maintaining a clutter-free space.


Getting Started: Turbocharge Your Decluttering


If you’re feeling inspired and motivated by the new year, take advantage of that energy and spend a few weekends clearing clutter throughout the house. Making noticeable headway will help motivate you to keep up the decluttering effort in the coming months. Try to get the other members of your household onboard — but if they are not interested, don’t try to force it. Hopefully they will see the positive changes happening around the house and change their tune!


Habit to cultivate: Keep an empty reusable bin in a closet, and use it to corral items you plan to give away.


January: Kitchen and Pantry

Give yourself a fresh start for the new year with a clean kitchen, decluttered cabinets and a healthy pantry and fridge.

  • Toss worn dish towels or cut them up to make rags
  • Sell or give away specialty small appliances and tools you seldom or never use
  • Recycle or toss freebie cups and Tupperware containers without lids
  • Toss expired food and spices
  • Take stock of cookware and dishes; give away or sell pieces you do not need

Habit to cultivate: Clean out the pantry and fridge each week before shopping.


February: Home Office — Digital Documents and Papers

Get a jump-start on tax time by getting your files (paper and digital) in order.

  • Sort through random stacks of paper; file, shred or recycle everything
  • Streamline your files, shredding any documents you no longer need
  • Use one calendar to keep track of all events
  • Switch to paperless bills and statements if possible
  • Clean out computer files and back up everything, using cloud-based storage and an external drive

Habit to cultivate: Sort your mail at the door, tossing junk immediately into a recycling bin.


March: Clothes and Accessories

The seasonal transition is a good time to sort through clothing. Sort through winter clothes before storing, and pare back spring and summer clothes as you begin to wear them.

  • Donate or sell clothes, shoes and accessories in good condition
  • Have winter clothes laundered or dry-cleaned before storing until next year
  • Try on all clothes for the upcoming season and give away or sell any items that do not make you feel good

Habit to cultivate: As soon as you wear something and notice it doesn’t fit, has a hole or doesn’t flatter you, toss it in a bag in your closet. When the bag is full, donate it.

April: Bath and Beauty Products and Medicine Cabinets

Give your daily routine a spring cleaning by sorting through all of those bottles and jars hiding in medicine cabinets, on counters and in drawers.

  • Toss expired makeup and skin-care items, as well as anything you do not use or like
  • Clean drawers and shelves before returning items
  • Store heat- and moisture-sensitive items (medications and some skin-care products) away from the bathroom

Habit to cultivate: Keep a list of your favorite bath and beauty products and order them online rather than shopping in person. This helps avoid overshopping and impulse purchases.


May: Laundry Room, Linen Closet, Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning routines are much easier and more pleasant when the supplies you need are neat and orderly. Sheets, towels and other household linens do not last forever — go through them this month and make some space.

  • Recycle worn-out and stained towels, washcloths, sheets and tea towels at a textile recycling center.
  • If your child has graduated a bed size, donate the old bedding to charity
  • Clean under sinks and in any cupboards where cleaning supplies are stored. Get rid of empty containers and products you tried but did not like

Habit to cultivate: Don’t downgrade old towels and sheets to “guest” status. Only keep linens you would personally want to use — get rid of the rest. Your guests deserve better!


June: Family Room, Playroom, Media, Art and Schoolwork

The end of the school year is a good time to review collected artwork and school papers, and choose a small number of special pieces to save in a portfolio or document box.

  • Edit schoolwork and art from the past year
  • Gather a bag of DVDs, books and CDs to give away or sell
  • Sort through toys and games; get rid of those your family no longer enjoys, as well as anything missing key pieces

Habit to cultivate: At the beginning of each school year, pick up a simple art portfolio. When your child brings work home, enjoy all of it for a while, but choose only a few special pieces to put in the portfolio.


July: Yard, Shed, Garage and Tools

Being outdoors in midsummer makes this a good time to get outdoor tools and equipment in order.

  • Get rid of broken tools and those you no longer need
  • Sort through gardening supplies
  • Toss worn-out outdoor furnishings and decor
  • If you’ve been collecting items to sell, hold a yard sale this month. At the end of the day, take unsold items to a charity donation center

Habit to cultivate: Keep everything in your garage or shed on shelving, not on the floor. This helps prevent accumulating a pileup of junk and keeps your gear cleaner.


August: Photos

Photos seem to be one of the most problematic items for many people to keep organized. Use the lazy days of August to sort through old photos and make books or prints from new ones.

  • Choose a few favorite photos from this year and have them framed
  • Edit digital photos and back up using a cloud service as well as an external drive
  • Make a photo album or book from recent photos
  • Sort through any bins of loose photos and put them in acid-free photo boxes or simple albums

Habit to cultivate: Take a few extra moments to tag favorite digital photos each time you upload. Then when it’s time to print or make an album, you can go straight to your favorites.


September: Mudroom, Entrances and Junk Drawers

Embrace the back-to-school spirit (whether or not you have kids) by getting the busiest zones of your house clutter-free this month.

  • Put away stray items in entrances that belong elsewhere
  • Add extra hooks or shelves if you need them to help corral items
  • Sort through junk drawers, baskets, trays and any other spots that accumulate random junk
  • Invest in drawer organizers or a wall-mounted organizer to keep small items neat

Habit to cultivate: Do an end-of-day tidy-up of the entryway, putting shoes, coats and random items back where they belong.


October: Dining Room and Entertaining Supplies

With the big holidays coming up over the next few months, October is a good time to get ahead of the curve and sort out your entertaining arsenal.

  • Get rid of worn-out and stained tablecloths, placemats and napkins
  • Count your dinnerware and serving pieces and consider whether you have enough, too much or too little for the amount you entertain
  • Get rid of decor, table linens and serving pieces that you don’t like or that no longer fit your lifestyle

Habit to cultivate: Just like creating a wardrobe with lots of pieces that work together, think of creating an entertaining wardrobe that you can mix and match, rather than having lots of distinct sets of dishes.


November: Hobbies and Crafts

Get ready for holiday crafting and gift wrapping by clearing out your stash and organizing supplies this month.

  • Clean out gift-wrapping supplies, tossing empty tape dispensers, out-of-ink pens and shreds of gift wrap and ribbon
  • Downsize your craft stash by donating spare fabric scraps, yarn, scrapbooking paper and other materials — many organizations (schools, retirement centers and the like) are happy to accept donations of craft supplies, and there are even some craft-specific donation centers, like Scrap in San Francisco
  • Keep works in progress together in bags, bins or boxes

Habit to cultivate: Take the time to put away your craft supplies neatly when you are done working. A messy stash makes it more likely you will buy something you already have simply because you couldn’t find it!


December: Holiday Items and Decor

With so much going on around the holidays, it’s wise not to expect too much of yourself when it comes to clutter-clearing. That said, with all of the new gifts coming in, it does make sense to do some paring back to preserve balance in the house.

  • Give away holiday ornaments and decor that you did not use this year, or that you no longer love
  • Toss broken ornaments and recycle strands of lights that no longer work
  • Exchange or give away gifts you received but know you will never use, and do not like — don’t keep things out of guilt. The one exception to this rule may be hand-knit sweaters. The knitter will never forgive you; that’s just how it is.

Habit to cultivate: Tell friends and family who ask (in advance of the holidays) that you and your family would prefer gifts that are experiential or edible. Most people honestly want to give you something you will like, and are happy for the guidance.



Source: https://www.houzz.com/magazine/your-clutter-clearing-plan-for-the-new-year-stsetivw-vs~58173213?fbclid=IwAR0ayzzfRwewG3IXSCv7ORuxSklrNRjOPltHI6_3IYi2P85jr1OLuvv1q5k

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Winterizing your home creates a cozy space, lowers energy bills, and prevents damage such as broken eavestroughs or a cracked foundation. The following steps can be completed in a weekend—and all for less than $180.


Check that your rain gutter spouts are pointing away from your house and there are no blockages. Doing this can save you from an expensive and potentially catastrophic foundation problem. If water from the roof is repeatedly deposited beside your home, the soil becomes saturated with moisture. In the winter, that moisture turns to ice, which expands and creates cracks in your home’s foundation. Over time, those cracks become larger and larger until there is a flood or structural damage.


Extend the life of your furnace, save energy, reduce duct cleaning, and improve indoor air quality by changing (or washing) your furnace filters. Washable filters use an electrostatic process to capture dust and particles and although they cost more upfront (approximately $100), they pay for themselves in less than two years. Disposable filters cost an average of $20 each and should be changed every three months. Washable filters may be cleaned up to 60 times depending on the product specifications.


Drafts swoop down chimneys in the wintertime (even with the flue closed) and cold seeps through the walls of the stack. For as little as $40, a chimney balloon or plug fits just above the hearth and will keep your heat indoors and the cold outdoors by blocking the fireplace opening. Don’t forget that the opposite is true at the peak of summer. In July and August, when you don’t need a fireplace, seal it to save on air-conditioning costs.


Winter heating is typically the largest single consumer of household energy (e.g., gas or electricity). With rising utility costs, it makes cents to put on a sweater or an extra blanket instead of cranking up the heat. Turn down the thermostat at night and whenever household members are away at work or school.


A programmable thermostat is a convenient way to automatically set different temperatures for various times of the day and night. In the long run, this saves effort and money. However, these are best for standard furnaces. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a programmable thermostat may interfere with the optimal functioning of heat pumps, electric resistance heating, steam heat or radiant floor heating.


Drafts can waste five to 30 per cent of a home’s energy, according to a report by the David Suzuki Foundation. Check for drafts by holding a lit stick of incense near doors, windows and chimneys; where the smoke wavers, there’s a draft. To seal windows, use weatherstripping tape, which costs as little as $5 per roll. For your doors, there are all sorts of products for less than $20 that either fit next to the door or wrap around the bottom.


Electrical outlets, especially those on an external-facing wall, can allow cold to seep into your living space. Conversely, in the summer, the outlets bring unwelcome warmth into your air-conditioned home. A simple once and done solution is to install insulating covers underneath the wall plates. These cost approximately $5 each.


Have you ever noticed the difference in the air temperature near the windows when you first open the curtains? Window glass is a poor insulator allowing some cold and heat to pass through. Heavy curtains are one solution. In the winter, when you want to enjoy as much natural light as possible, a better solution is insulation film. The thin plastic shrinks to fit the window with the heat of a hair dryer and costs as little as $15.


With a small investment of effort and money, you can enjoy a cozy, draft-free space as you save money.


Sources:

“How to winterize your home,” David Suzuki Foundation, accessed October 27, 2021, https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/how-to-winterize-your-home.


“Thermostats,” US Department of Energy, accessed October 27, 2021, https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats.



Main Source: https://www.sutton.com/blog/home-improvement/winterize-your-home

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Everyone knows not to leave cash on the kitchen counter or jewelry sitting on your nightstand before an open house but there are other things besides valuables you should think about stashing away. Thankfully, with a bit of due diligence, it’s unlikely you’ll run into any issues.


“I’ve only had one screwdriver stolen during a property visit in my 23-year real estate career,” says Katia Samson, a REALTOR® and certified real estate broker with Group Sutton Centre Ouest in Montreal. “I always do a tour of the property before any showings and if I think an item should be put away, I tuck it in a drawer.”


With lots of visitors coming and going, you still want to be sure to secure, hide or remove these nine items. Your REALTOR® can help guide you through the process to make sure you’ve checked off the various items on this list.


1. Mail, private documents and passwords

If identity thieves don’t mind rooting through your garbage to find personal information, they will happily swipe it off your desk. Tuck away your mail, social insurance card, banks statements, passport, utility bills and credit cards. If you can’t take these things with you, hide them somewhere visitors won’t find them. This goes for your online passwords, too. Don’t display your Wi-Fi password and avoid leaving a list of your personal passwords taped next to your computer.


2. Ashtrays

You may already know the smell of smoke is a huge turnoff to home buyers, but even the suggestion people light up in your home is enough to make them move on to the next property.


“If a property smells like tobacco or marijuana, it will be very difficult to sell,” says Samson.


3. Plug-in air fresheners

Yes, you want your house to look and smell fresh, but buyers might be sensitive to that flowery mist. Worse, they might wonder if you’re trying to cover up a bigger problem. While you’re at it, avoid sloshing bleach or other harsh chemical cleaners everywhere before the open house begins–buyers might think you’re concealing mould issues and could be turned off by the harsh smell.


4. Fans or space heaters

Neither of these items will do you any favours in the décor department, but buyers who see spot heaters plugged in everywhere may also wonder if something is wrong with the heating system or if your home is poorly insulated. On the flipside, fans may suggest the house can get too hot.


5. Pets and their stuff

We know you’d never leave your dog–even in its crate–during an open house, but you may also want to pick up food dishes, slobbery toys, litter boxes and other things that suggest an animal lives in the house. Buyers who don’t like cats or dogs don’t want to wonder if your pet has peed all over the basement carpets.


“Any signs that an animal is part of the household should be removed from sight for visits,” says Samson. Which means, don’t forget to thoroughly vacuum furniture if your furry friend sheds everywhere.


6. Prescription drugs

Thieves are more likely to steal valuable medication than wander off with a piece of jewelry, so don’t make it easy for them to find any. That means clearing out the medicine cabinet, your night table drawer and your kitchen cupboard if you usually store meds there.


7. Fridge magnets and family photos

Take down the wedding photos, kids’ awards, plaques, school photos and even magnets on your fridge. “Items that might make clients uncomfortable should be put away as well, such as toothbrushes, sponges in showers, hygiene items and dirty laundry,” adds Samson.


Not only is this a good way to declutter, but buyers will be able to see themselves living in the space if it doesn’t seem so personal.


8. Valuable paintings, sculptures or heirlooms

Electronics are not the only items that can mysteriously disappear during an open house, so keep expensive things away from view. Even if thieves can’t walk out with a large sculpture, don’t tempt them to come back and steal it another time.


9. Your keys and remotes

Nothing screams, “Come back some time and rob our house or steal our car!” more than extra keys dangling from hooks in your entry hall; ditto for the garage door opener. Store these items in a safe, secure place or bring keys and remotes with you when the open house begins.


Anything else?

While it’s very unlikely you’ll encounter any issues during an open house, it’s good common sense to take precautions. Listen to your REALTOR® and use your best judgment for a safe and successful experience.



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/9-things-sellers-should-never-leave-out-during-an-open-house/

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There’s something about looking at images of a perfectly put together fridge or pantry that inspires you to do your own #fridgemakeover or reach #pantrygoals. It’s a popular trend on social media right now, but a well-organized kitchen isn’t just good for an Instagram post or TikTok video. Smart fridge and pantry organization can also help reduce food waste and inspire more home-cooked meals or snacks. If you have an appetite for organization, we’re sharing fridge and pantry hacks you can use in your own kitchen today.


Consolidate, decant, and label

The first thing to do is check what you have, toss out expired items, donate other unwanted items to a food bank (if accepted), and see what you have left. Once you know what you’re working with, batch similar items together and use a label maker, label sheet, or tape and marker to add visible labels with expiry dates to every item. Matching containers—either glass or clear plastic—help make it easy to see what you have on hand and will create a polished look in your pantry. If you don’t have storage containers, or you don’t want to buy any, you can still group things together based on their similarities and label them clearly.


There’s no right or wrong way to group your food items, but some of the more common categories are:

  • By meal: group all your breakfast items together, your lunch items, snack items etc.
  • By height: if you’re really going for aesthetics, grouping by height is a good choice.
  • By function: all your spices in one spot, all your baking supplies in another, etc.
  • By healthy choices: make it easier to grab a healthy snack by grouping them all in one. spot, and likewise for when it comes to finding a sweet treat.

You should also be sure to follow the FIFO rule—first in, first out. When you bring home a round of groceries, place the newest items towards the back and go through what you already have. This will help eliminate food waste and clutter.


Think outside the crisper drawer

We’ve all thrown away uneaten produce that was forgotten in a crisper drawer. To help your produce last longer and encourage healthy eating, wash and prep all your fruit and veggies before loading them into the fridge. This way, they’re ready to go when it’s time for a meal or snack. According to Oxygen Magazine, meal prepping can help take away the stress of healthy eating, since everything is conveniently ready when you want a quick snack. Make snacking simple by adding a labelled snack drawer to your fridge and filling it with healthy grab-and-go items you and your family love.


Opt for clear fridge containers with drawers or lids to help make produce easy to grab and go, and use the freed up drawer space to organize other items like cheese, meat, or backstock of milk or juice.


Stick to your own style

There’s no rule your pantry or fridge has to be filled with clear or white containers all items lined up in a row! If you’re into a more rustic style, aim to use natural materials like woven baskets, wooden boxes or crates, and glass jars of different sizes for a clean but homey look. In this example, glass jars make it easy to see what’s available while doubling as a design element on an open shelf. Plus, using recycled glass jars or baskets is environmentally friendly and often more cost effective.


Organize on your own budget

Wire bins, lazy susans, acrylic containers, and baskets can quickly add up with some items costing $20 or more per unit. Save money on your kitchen organization project by starting with what you already have at home, then looking for budget-friendly options at your local dollar or discount store. Dollar stores can offer inexpensive and cheerful solutions like baskets, containers, and jars in a range of materials. In this #pantrygoals example, dollar store organization finds are used to pull off a pantry overhaul on a small budget.


Use stadium shelving and turntables

Deep cupboards seem good in theory, but in practice they can become a waste of space. When you stack cans and boxes four or five deep, you lose sight of what’s available! Using stadium shelving, or shelf risers, lets you utilize the space towards the back but still keeps everything in view. Turntables offer the same convenience, letting you access things with ease.


Adjust your shelving height

Most pantries and fridges have adjustable shelves, but most people neglect to use them! If you buy a lot of tall items, such as cereal boxes or juices, make sure there’s a shelf to accommodate them. A good rule of thumb is to allow 2 inches of clearance above the tallest item on the shelf so you can add items easily.


Here are some typical pantry shelf measurements you should keep in mind:

  • 6.5 to 7 inches for canned goods
  • 14 to 16 inches for cereal boxes
  • 18 to 20 inches for larger items (bags of potatoes or rice, soft drinks, etc)

Whether you opt for a total organization overhaul or make some simple changes to make your fridge or pantry more functional, a little effort can go a long way towards making the most out of your kitchen’s storage space. 



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/5-fridge-and-pantry-organizing-hacks-you-can-do-today/22638/1366

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Purchasing a property in the winter can be a pretty chill idea. Buying in the wintertime can be advantageous for both home buyers and sellers—with a smaller buying pool, the (typically) off-season market can lend more serious offers from motivated purchasers who benefit from less competition. However, wintery weather can make it tricky to assess a home when you can’t fully see the condition of the property under layers of ice and snow.


Don’t overlook the home’s exterior


A home’s first impression from the sidewalk is always important to consider when buying, and it’s no different during the winter.


Travassos and Rushforth agree it’s crucial to inspect the outside of the home in the winter time. Travassos notes you want to make sure the property’s driveway, outdoor stairs, and sidewalks are shoveled so you can clearly see their condition. A blanket of fluffy snow can also make it a challenge to gauge the property’s roof and grading to see if water is running away from the house correctly.


“Sometimes it can be difficult to see the condition of the roof or the shingles if they’re covered in snow, and then if all of the other roofs [in the neighbourhood] are covered in snow and yours isn’t, it means there’s probably not enough insulation—heat is getting out of the house that shouldn’t be,” explains Travassos.
Image via James Bombales


Landscaping costs for trees and grass can add up, so it’s best to get a sense of the condition of the back and front yards, too. Rushforth says a buyer should ask for pictures of the home in the summertime to assess the state of the yard, gardens, and any outdoor structures such as pools.


“You want to know what you’re buying, and the problem with [the winter], everything is covered,” said Rushforth. “You don’t know if there’s grass, if there are weeds, if there’s interlock, if there’s not interlock. Trying to get some recent summer pictures is absolutely key.”


Examine the interiors from floor to ceiling


When touring the inside of the property, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for any wintertime red flags that could indicate issues within the house.


Rushforth says to look for any signs of drafts, fogging, or condensation in the windows that could point to broken seals, allowing cold air to enter the home.


“Looking in the wintertime, you get to see if there are any drafts in the windows,” said Rushforth. “Can you feel cold air coming through? Do you see any leaking? Are you seeing any water stains?”


As colder weather tends to dry out rooms, Rushforth explains a buyer will want to look for gaping or splitting in hardwood floors, which can speak to the home’s humidity levels. Dryness can cause things to shrink slightly, so a purchaser should inspect the home to ensure interior doors and cupboards can close properly. By feeling the interior walls, you can also assess if they are cold to the touch and therefore poorly insulated—Travassos points out some homes may be double bricked and not insulated.


When viewing a home in the winter, Rushforth notes purchasers should monitor for big differences in temperature between rooms, a sign there could be ventilation problems to address.


“You’re looking for signs of chilly rooms, drafty rooms, or even rooms that are really warm,” said Rushforth. “Why are they really warm in the winter time unless the heat is punched up? You’re looking for differences in rooms that will be a tell-tale sign as to whether there are issues.”


Inspect your home utility systems and out-of-season amenities


The winter often calls for homeowners to shut down seasonal home amenities like pools and cooling systems, but this shouldn’t mean a buyer should skip on investigating these features.


Travassos and Rushforth explain a buyer won’t be able to turn on and test the home’s air conditioning in the winter to confirm if it’s working properly or not. Because of this, it’s important for the buyer to do their due diligence and ask the seller and their agent questions about the state of home systems such as the furnace, septic, pool parts, and other property features.


“Quite often, additions aren’t done with permits and pipes were not insulated properly, so in really cold months, they freeze a little bit,” said Travassos. “So you want to run the water on all of the taps and make sure you’re not seeing any of that.”

For pools and hot tubs, you may want to request copies of receipts, maintenance reports, and proof of professional services to ensure they—as well as all of the other home systems—are in good working order when you purchase the property. As always, opting for a home inspection can be a way to ensure a professional can get a deeper understanding of the property, including in areas like the basement and attic.



Source: https://r.trendinghomenews.com/8pdi0?fbclid=IwAR1dlVH0fJjVCSqywMN3l1drYE9HSNRAAwrRAR9ABm2Bl6ikZL0HFbL-00A

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If you are buying a home, should you have a home inspection?  In my opinion this is always the best option.  Sometimes in a seller's market, buyer's are waiving this condition in order to secure their bid on a  home purchase.  If you choose to forego an inspection, can you afford the potential consequences?  This video highlights a few of the potential concerns that home inspectors look for when doing an inspection.
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MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.