Monthly Archives: May 2016

Consider Before Tackling a Home Renovation

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

Does The Renovation Require Permits?

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

Has Your Contractor Been Vetted?

It’s always smart to get a few quotes for every job, and references are essential. There are too many horror stories out there to make absolute sure that anyone who’s working on your home has been thoroughly vetted. Ask to see a portfolio of their work, or call a referral or two, this could save you a lot of heartache down the road.

Should You Relocate During the Job?

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

Do You Have a Buffer?

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

So Do You REALLY Want This?

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

Tips from Scott McGillivray For Staging

Inexpensive staging tips guaranteed to help you sell your home.

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

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

3. Paint:
A fresh coat of paint helps your cause in two ways: First of all, it can neutralize rooms (such as a very pink little girl’s room) so that buyers can picture it as what they’ll need it to be. Secondly, new paint always makes a home look cleaner. Painting isn’t a big financial commitment if you do it yourself. And, the time it takes to paint will pay dividends when buyers walk through your neatly staged home.

4. Minor Repairs (change light bulbs, fill holes, repair screens, clean up exterior):
You might not care that one of your vanity lights is burned out or that your attempt to hang a painting resulted in six holes in your living room wall, but those little things can be a huge red flag for potential buyers. The biggest advice I have is just don’t be lazy. Take the time to replace a window screen or a cracked outlet cover. The cost is minimal and it shows that you take pride in your home. And, maintaining the small things can help reassure buyers that you’ve maintained big tickets items, like your roof or HVAC system as well.

5. Every Room Has a Purpose:
A lot of people have spare space in their homes that are turn into “dead zones” – rooms, closets, corners where “stuff” ends up getting thrown. But when you’re prepping to sell your home, not only should every nook and cranny be clean and clutter-free, they should also have a purpose. That spare room with your old treadmill and drum kit could be staged as an office space. If your basement is unfinished, put up some inexpensive shelving units to showcase how much storage is available. Buyers shouldn’t have to work to picture a rooms as functional for their needs.

First Time Buyers For Real Estate

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

1) Spending Too Much

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

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

2) Spending Too Little

Yes, this can also be a mistake! If you spend too little on a home that you’ll outgrow quickly, you’ll incur the expense of moving (which can be quite pricey) perhaps before you need to.

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

3) Buying With Your Heart

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

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

4) Missing Hidden Closing Costs

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

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

5) Not Doing Your Research

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

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