Monthly Archives: August 2016

Friendly Home

unduhan-22Whenever you move, be it to a new city, or an entirely different country – expect there to be a bit of culture shock. What may be considered polite in one area may be considered rude in another, the food may be different, the clothing may be different as well. But there’s a certain shock to the system that many people have when they move to the suburbs from the city. Why are all these people smiling?

Yes, welcome to the happy environs of the suburbs. Maybe it’s the extra space, the fresh air, the abundance of parks, and schools that are less crowded. It could be that many suburbs these days are for all intents and purposes “free standing” – with all the shops, restaurants and jobs right there. No need to fight your way in to the city. But whatever the reason, many people will tell you that the atmosphere in the suburbs is just that much friendlier.

Now that’s not reason alone to move to the suburbs. But it can have a serious impact on your future, and the future of your children. Schools in the suburbs tend to be much less crowded, and parents are very involved in the day to day of what happens in their school district. If you’re new to a community, getting involved on this level is a great way to meet new friends and develop a social network. You may also be surprised at the cultural diversity that you will find in the suburban schools. Your children will meet other children from countries all around the world – a obviously it’s a great plus for youngsters to be exposed to a variety of cultures. This diversity can actually help children make friends, – in an environment where differences are embraced, tolerance of others because the norm.

Typically suburbs are less crowded, with less traffic, and the concerns of the city, such as crime rates, tend to not be as worrisome. You are definitely more likely to see children playing hockey in the streets, or basketball in the driveway – if for no other reason that there is a driveway to play in, and those streets are significantly quieter! You are more likely to see kids walking to school in groups than you might in the city. And those suburban schools often have more resources than their crowded city counterparts. On top of that, the cost of property per square foot is often considerably less than what you pay in the city, and that means that your children will have more space in your home for friends to come over, and for adult entertaining as well.

The adults in the family will appreciate the great resources that the suburbs have to offer, from community centers and book clubs, to local gyms and even senior care homes. Of course, all these activities are available in the city as well. The difference is the accessibility. If you are new to a country, or to a style of living, this access can mean the difference between finding your footing in a new situation, or feeling isolated and alone.

I’m certainly not saying that cities aren’t  nice places, – but lets face it – the hustle and bustle, the smaller homes squished in side by side, busy streets not conducive to children playing, – can cause some distance between people. You may never really know your neighbours. You may not feel comfortable letting your kids play outside unsupervised. Everyone is in a rush. If this is what you are used to, the slower pace and more relaxed vibe of the suburbs can come as a bit of a shock. But don’t let that be a negative. When given the opportunity to live with your family in an area that is affordable, with good schools, great amenities and shopping, diversity, and most of all, a friendly neighbourhood atmosphere – who wouldn’t want to give that a try?

So, if you are thinking of making a move outside of the city, take a drive one day to the suburb of your choice. Check out the various neighbourhoods, and notice the home owners mowing their lawns, and children on their bikes. Enjoy the parks, see the shopping areas, and take a peek at the schools. Walk around a bit and enjoy what you see. While you’re at it, see how many people smile at you.

Return on Investment

Adding value to your home is the number one concern for most homeowners. It doesn’t matter if you’re prepping to sell or looking to build long-term equity, knowing the right renos to invest in is important to ensure you get the most bang for your reno buck.

5. Flooring
Ever wonder about the number one request from both homeowners and tenants when they’re looking for a home? Hardwood floors. And why not? Hardwood looks amazing, is timeless and is incredibly durable. It’s also expensive, so it’s wise to weigh your options before shelling out big bucks for the big impact that hardwood delivers. You can go with traditional hardwood or engineered hardwood, or if hardwood isn’t what you’re looking for (or if it isn’t in the budget) there are plenty of great laminate options available to you as well. Regardless of your choice, a flooring update always brings new life to a space and instantly gives the impression of a renovated and redecorated space.

4. Hardware & Fixtures
It sounds like a simple little update that doesn’t mean a lot, but replacing relatively inexpensive items like faucets, sinks, toilets and drawer pulls can make a big impact.

Let’s face it: Switchplates are $.49 at your local hardware store, so there’s no excuse. Cabinet and drawer pulls are also a drop in the bucket and things like doorknobs, light fixtures and faucets are also inexpensive, minor updates that can really improve the entire feel of a room. A small investment can equal a big return, making the space feel fresh and modern.

3. Bathrooms
The first rule of bathroom renos: If it’s pink or blue, rip it out! Pastels, seashell tiles and fuzzy toilet seat covers scream ‘grandma’s house,’ and while you probably have fond childhood memories from grandma’s house, chances are you don’t sit around reminiscing about the décor.

When you ask people to describe their perfect bathroom, about 95% of people use the words “spa like.” What does that mean exactly? From my experience it means a soothing colour palette, clean lines, modern materials and chic finishes. You may be hearing “cha-ching”, but keep in mind that bathrooms are small and therefore require less material. Consider making a statement with a stand-out tile or funky sink or faucet to set the tone of the space – a little goes a long way.

2. Kitchens
Kitchen remodels are notoriously expensive. When you start throwing around words like “granite,” “stainless steel,” and perhaps the scariest – “custom,” it can make a lifetime courting takeout menus sound like a good idea. But don’t panic – I have good news on two fronts: Not only can you do a great kitchen renovation on realistic budget, but kitchens also give you the biggest return on investment far beyond any other room in the house.

Don’t believe the hype – there’s almost never a need to invest in custom cabinets. Out of all the Income Property reveals over the years, only two have been custom. The trick? You can customize standard, out-of-the-box cabinetry to almost any kitchen layout.

When it comes to counters, while stone is still the number one choice, there are more and more affordable alternatives that look expensive – butcher block, composite, and high-end laminates are all great options.

1. Income Suites
No shock here, but it’s true – there’s no renovation you can do to your home that will increase its value as adding an income suite. Whether it’s your basement, a third floor or loft conversion, or even a coach house style suite in a garage, income suite renovations, when done correctly, easily allow you to double your investment. The extra bonus?  Not only will an income add a huge amount of value to your home, but it’s an investment that will actively make you money while you build equity. What more could you ask for?

Think About Before You Buy Home

images-35Buying a home is generally an exciting adventure – the thrill of finding a home that you and your family can enjoy, where you will raise your children, make friends – all the good things that home ownership. But there are several things that you should consider before setting down your hard earned money on a home purchase.

  1. Does this home make sense? Now when I say that, I mean will this home make sense for you and your family in the long run? Are you a young family and hope to expand? Maybe a two bedroom townhome is not the right buy. Sure, with one child it may be very manageable, but if baby number two is just a year away – you may be forced to move within a couple of years. With transfer taxes and realtor fees, you could eat up any profits made, and that’s just not a smart buy. Ideally you should look for a home that will accommodate you for at least five years. This may mean forgoing some fancy upgrades, but ultimately the cosmetics of a home can be changed, whereas adding square footage is a whole different ball game.
  2. Have I fallen in love with the finishings, not the home? This often happens with buyers. The reason show homes are so inviting is that the developers want you to fall in love with an ideal. However with all the fancy furniture gone, you may find the home you bought is not the home you need. You may have ignored all those stairs in that three level townhome because you loved that open concept living area. But if you noticed it when you visited, think about how it will affect your daily life. Do you have small children? Imagine carting baby buggies, strollers, and small children up and down those stairs. Suddenly, that home might not be such a great idea after all.
  3. Do you see yourself in the neighbourhood? If there are tons of children in the neighbourhood, and you are a professional couple who crave quiet, then you might be in the wrong place. Conversely, if you have children, but there are no schools within walking distance, and no basketball hoops in the driveways, then they may not have any friends to play with. Make sure you pick an area that fits your lifestyle, whether you’re looking in the city or the suburbs.
  4. Don’t buy the best home in a not so great neighbourhood. Ideally, you want to buy in the best area you can, even if that means buying a home that may not have all the extras that you want. Your home is your investment, and ultimately the old saying “Location Location Location” will always hold strong. You can’t make more land, no matter how hard you try. However, you can invest in the home that you purchase through renovation. It doesn’t have to be all at once. But if you buy a home with “good bones” – i.e.: good sized rooms, a practical floor plan, and structurally sound – all within a desirable location – you will be making a sound purchase.
  5. Can I really afford this? If you are a dual income couple and are planning on starting a family, you may have only one income for a while. Will the home put undo financial pressure on you? If your income was to go down, would you be able to afford the home? Just because you “can” afford to purchase a home, doesn’t mean you should. Sit down and think about your lifestyle. Do you like to travel extensively? If you do, make sure you budget that into the equation. Are you planning to send your children to private school? Factor in the annual tuition to your costs. Don’t forget to speak with your mortgage broker. Any changes in interest rates could change your mortgage payment in the years to come. Make sure you can handle any upticks in the interest rates.