6 TIPS FOR THE THRIFTY HOMEMAKER

Maintaining your home doesn’t have to be all about fancy gadgets and expensive products. Simplify your life with some basic approaches to household routines.

  1. Put away the carcinogens and make your own tub and shower scrub. Add one teaspoon of liquid soap and several drops of an antibacterial essential oil (such as tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint) to a cup of baking soda. Add just enough water to form a paste, and use it with a sponge or brush to scour surfaces.
  2. Save your fingers with spaghetti. Skip the expensive long wooden matches when you’re lighting multiple candles. Use a strand of dry spaghetti. It’s great for those tough-to-reach candles.
  3. Feed a crowd with production grilled cheese sandwiches. Oven bake your grilled cheese sandwiches by placing a metal cooking tray or shallow metal pan on both the top and bottom of the sandwiches and pop them in the oven. Presto!
  4. Say bam! to the Pam. Make your own cooking spray in a misting spray bottle with 1 part olive oil and 4-5 parts of water. It costs just pennies. And no spray cans will be in the blue box anymore! Remember not to spray directly onto hot surfaces as aerosols are flammable.
  5. Calcium, Lime, Rust. Use a leftover lemon to do the job of high-priced popular cleaners. Take a half a lemon and rub citric acid from the fruit right onto unsightly stains on your chrome and porcelain fixtures. Use the other half of the lemon to make iced tea!
  6. Undent the carpet. If you’re moving furniture around, the unsightly depressions in your carpet can be treated simply with ice cubes. Allow the cubes to melt in and watch the pile fluff back into place.

10 WAYS TO HELP YOUR HOME SELL QUICKLY

Selling your home in the shortest possible time requires a focused effort and a shift in thinking. Here are some of the ways you can help move things along.

  1. Use the pros. Two thirds of home sellers (National Association of Realtors survey) who sold their property privately say they’ll hire a REALTOR the next time. REALTORS have specialized market experience, and come prepared with information about previous sales and listings currently for sale. They have expertise with contract language, paperwork and negotiations that expedite the process.
  2. Set your price carefully. Seek help in pinpointing your market value and asking price which are not the same thing. You should have some room to negotiate so that you don’t frustrate buyers who may be expecting to haggle a little.
  3. The look and feel of your home really do matter. You benefit when the home generates the greatest emotional response in potential buyers. Those buyers pay attention to what they can see, feel, hear and smell.
  4. Get a second opinion. Have someone trustworthy do a walk-through to comment on what they notice about how your home is staged. A good REALTOR will provide honest opinions about steps that can be taken to make your home as sellable as possible. Address the things you can change. Don’t stress about the things you can’t change.
  5. Clean and fix everything in sight. Pride of ownership is one of the top intangibles that attracts buyers. Be sure to scrub your floors, clear the clutter, repair squeaky stairs and broken light switches. Keep in mind that your home is in competition not only with other resale homes, but with new builds as well.
  6. Help buyers visualize themselves in your house. Buyers don’t want to enter your home feeling like they’re intruding on the lives of the occupants. Depersonalize your home by de-cluttering, beginning with knick knacks, souvenirs and eliminating an over-abundance of family photos.
  7. Disclose everything. Be proactive about revealing any and all defects to your buyer. It reduces your liability and removes stumbling blocks to a smooth and efficient sale.
  8. Get control of your emotions. It’s important to set aside attachments. Approach the sale of your home as a business transaction and conduct yourself in a business-like way. This will provide you with an advantage over sellers who are emotionally driven during the sale.
  9. Don’t move out. Generally speaking a vacant home is more difficult to sell. To potential buyers, a home devoid of furnishings can appear forgotten, forlorn, and less desirable. It also suggests a strong motivation to sell and could cost you thousands of dollars during the negotiation process.
  10. Don’t be offended by low offers. Consider it objectively. Look at other factors such as deposit, downpayment, mortgage details, closing date and other requests. View it as a starting point in negotiations and don’t reject it outright – counter offer.

20 Home Staging Tips

  1.  is living with less around, put away extra things, throw pillows, afghans etc.
  2.  is using items, accessories and furniture in different ways
  3.  is decluttering the house and property. You’re moving anyway, so why not start packing?
  4.  is about the colors you use inside and out
  5.  is about being committed to getting your house “ready” to SELL!
  6.  is clearing rooms so that buyers can envision themselves living there with their family and their stuff
  7.  is about selling your house not your things
  8.  is cleaning, a clean house is more appealing to buyers
  9.  make sure all light fixtures work properly. Replace broken switches, burned out bulbs, increase wattage in hallways and corners. Turn on lamps in dark corners.
  10.  pack up all valuables, collections, and books.
  11.  remove family photos, buyers want to envision their family in this space.
  12.  Remove magnets, photos and artwork from the fridge
  13.  Reduce the number of pieces of artwork in a room to one large one or a small grouping of three
  14.  to make a room look more spacious consider removing a chair or a large piece of furniture
  15.  repair anything that is broken; it shows that your home is well cared for
  16.  carports should be cleaned out completely and garages should be swept and organized
  17.  walkways and driveways should be clear; sweep away leaves or remove snow
  18.  replace missing handles or knobs on cabinets or appliances
  19.  hide wastepaper baskets/garbage cans
  20.  trim hedges, bushes and trees so buyers can drive by and see the house

5 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR HEATING COSTS DOWN THIS WINTER

There are major things you can do to cut your heating bills this winter but the little things add up too. Here are five things you might have overlooked.

  1. Reverse the direction on your ceiling fans, Hot air rises and you want your fan to push it back down to recirculate throughout the house. Most fans have a small switch to reverse direction. It's typically located on the motor housing above the blades.
  2. Use foam gaskets around your electrical outlets, particularly on the outside walls. Put your hand in front of the receptacle on a cold day and you may feel the breeze. It’s easy to unscrew the cover plate and install a gasket kit behind.
  3. Relocate your furniture so that forced air heating registers , wall heaters or baseboards are unobstructed. Smooth airflow helps distribute heat efficiently.
  4. Close off registers and shut the doors in rooms that are not in regular use. Reduce the amount of space you have to heat.
  5. Storm doors and storm windows make a huge impact. If you have them, make certain they are installed on every window. If you don’t have them, consider exterior plastic, interior heat-shrunk plastic kits or thermal blinds.

6 WAYS YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT CAN ADD VALUE TO THEIR SERVICE

Realtors generally make their living by completing sales and earning commissions. Often people overlook what their REALTOR has to offer and forget that there is no cost for access to the service.

Home Staging:

  1. Some REALTORS carry extra credentials in home staging, some have a natural sense of what’s required based on experience. But in most cases your REALTOR will offer you advice on how to put your home’s “best foot forward” They’ll recommend cleaning, decluttering, depersonalizing and improving the flow of certain areas of the house. In exceptional cases, where your REALTOR partners with a home staging company or rents specific pieces of staging furniture, there may be costs incurred. But often you can achieve a great deal with some no-cost staging advice.
  2. Property Value Analysis
  3. Your REALTOR has access to a significant and powerful database of sales history and transaction records for your area. Just like the stock market, real estate values are constantly in motion and the most recent sales data is a key tool in determining a property’s worth. Your REALTOR can provide you with an analysis of your property value, even if you aren’t looking to move right now. The coupon for a “free property evaluation” isn’t something you need to hold on to. REALTORS do complimentary property value analyses for customers every day.
  4. Assessment information
  5. For homeowners who are trying to challenge their municipal property tax assessments, a REALTOR can be a terrific resource. Market value assessments form the basis of the tax system – people in big, fancy houses pay more taxes that people in small, simple homes. Sometimes the property assessment is skewed and homeowners are paying unnecessary taxes. REALTORS will generally hope to serve customers and maintain a relationship so that someday down the road they’ll have a new client. Ask your REALTOR to help point you to data that can bolster your argument with the assessment agency.
  6. Neighbourhood analysis
  7. Your REALTOR can provide you with an in-depth analysis of neighbourhoods that makes it possible to compare and target areas that are best for you and your family. While demographics and statistical information can be helpful it’s your local REALTOR who can provide knowledge and expertise on neighbourhood character, school rankings, turbine and solar installations, viewscape regulations and future development in specific areas.
  8. Referrals for local service providers
  9. If you’re moving to a new area, the referral to reputable and reliable local service businesses is a key advantage. A knowledgeable REALTOR will be able to recommend two or three companies and give you the opportunity to interview and use your own judgement. Be wary of referrals to just one company or “cousin”’s companies.
  10. Basic property maintenance
  11. From time to time REALTORS with an existing and ongoing relationship with clients – especially those focused on residential, cottage or condominium rentals -- will offer to assist with property management issues such as security checks, tenancy applications, heating setting adjustments and coordination of service calls. Usually the tasks are low-risk and require non-specific skills. While not technically a part of the agency relationship, many REALTORS use these capabilities to build client loyalty.

5 QUESTIONS HOME BUYERS ASK AND WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN

Questions from buyers may be in code. Here are some of the common questions and the real question that underlies it. When your REALTOR is managing information on your real estate listing, on your behalf there's a better chance of answering the questions -- both of them!

How old is the roof?

  1. Ongoing maintenance of your home’s systems will be required beginning the day you move in. The roof is one of the most disposable and vulnerable parts of your home, particularly if it is made of asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are notorious for not living up to their advertised lifespans. It’s most common to see people replacing their 25-year rated shingles after about 15 years. If you make the investment in extended life shingles, metal shakes or steel roofing you will have a lot more carefree years to focus on other maintenance issues. But it does come at a cost. Most homebuyers who ask about the age of the roof are really asking how far away the replacement project will be.
  2. What type of foundation does the home have?
  3. In this part of the province the foundation is a clear indicator of the age of the structure and the types of challenges the basement or crawl space will have. Stone and rubble foundations are found in older homes and the potential to finish basement living space is not great. Block and poured foundations are newer, insulated concrete forms are newer still. But the real question here is about dampness, drainage and seasonal flooding that impacts these foundations. Leaky basements are very limiting and buyers want to know what they’re going to have to deal with.
  4. What is the neighbourhood like?
  5. hat’s a loaded question for REALTORS because people have varied likes and lifestyles. A family that loves to play music around the backyard fire until the wee hours can seek a quiet neighbourhood. But their next door neighbours may have a different view of quiet. So the real question is, “Will I like the neighbourhood?”. If you’re a motorcycle collector, lawn freak, a dog breeder, a rock drummer, an environmentalist, a meditation guru; you should have an honest discussion with your REALTOR about a neighbourhood where you will fit in.
  6. What are the taxes?
  7. It is one of the biggest monthly commitments of home ownership but it ultimately will depend on how much is paid for the property. The sale could trigger a reassessment, particularly if it has increased significantly from the previous assessment. The question is part of a larger one: How much will I be paying to carry this property when heat, hydro, water, sewer, gas, taxes and other monthly costs are totalled.
  8. How long has it been on the market?
  9. It only partly addresses the real question which is: Does the timing right now offer me any advantage in negotiating the best price. Sometimes owners will dig in their heels over the long-haul while there are times when a motivated seller will want the house gone in the first month. The motivation question is one that REALTORS will try to orchestrate to best advantage. But it comes down to this. At what price are you prepared to walk away from a deal? At what price does another property become a more viable option? Your REALTOR will have the latest sales data to pinpoint pricing

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