Little Touch Ups That Make A Big Difference

You are probably already aware of the major things you need to do around your home to get it ready for sale. These include getting rid of clutter, doing minor repairs, and making everything clean and tidy so every room is as much of a showcase as possible.

But there are a myriad of little touch ups you can do that you may not have thought of before… touch ups that can make a big difference in how attractive your home looks to potential buyers.

Here are just a few:

  • Paint or replace the mailbox.
  • Add a couple of flowering plants to key areas, such as the dining room, living room, and just outside the front door.
  • Patch up any minor cracks in the driveway and walkways. (If there is a major crack, consider getting it repaired by a professional.)
  • Put out the welcome mat. Literally! And if it’s not clean and completely free of stains, replace it.
  • If you have a stainless steel kitchen sink, clean it using a special stainless steel cleaner and brightener. The effect will be dramatic; the sink will look like new.
  • Use a special spot cleaner to lift any stains from carpeted areas.
  • Replace plain or out-of-style light fixtures in the main areas of your home, such as the hallway and living room. Without spending a fortune, you can make a big difference in how these areas look.
  • If your kitchen cabinetry is old, consider replacing the hardware on the doors and drawers. That, along with some touch-up paint or varnish on worn areas, can make your older kitchen look young again.

The great thing about these ideas is that they don’t cost much to implement, and you can probably do most of them in less than a day.

Want more tips on making your home appealing to buyers?

Contact me today.


Plan Your Move Well In Advance

One of the most common mistakes made by home buyers and sellers is not arranging for moving day well in advance.

Even if you’ve just put your property on the market, or are only in the beginning stages of shopping for a new home, you should start planning for moving day now. If you don’t, you might find yourself scrambling to make arrangements, which can be – to put it mildly – stressful.

Start now by researching moving and storage companies and making a short list. You should also find economical sources of boxes, bubble wrap and other packaging materials you may need.

If you plan to do some or all of the move yourself, don’t assume that uncle Ned is going to help you. Get rock solid commitments from any family or friends who have volunteered to be there on moving day.

Five Simple Things You Need To Know To Make The Home Buying Process Easier

In reality, there are only five things you need to know and do to make your home buying experience as simple as possible.

1.  Get pre-approved for your mortgage.

If possible, get “pre-approved” for a loan in the amount you’re willing to borrow, not just “pre-qualified”.

With this pre-approval, you’re in a stronger position to buy a home when you’re ready – rather than finding your dream home, only to lose it to another buyer because you were waiting on the approval.

2.  Find a great real estate consultant.

Once you’ve decided to buy a home, find a great real estate consultant.  What you’re looking for is a Buyer’s Agent. This means that the consultant represents YOU as the buyer, rather than the person selling the home.

They will have YOUR best interests at heart.  Really good consultants know their markets, and will help you find the best match for your needs and wants.

They can also recommend mortgage brokers with whom they’ve worked in the past.

3.  Look before you leap.

Drive around the neighborhood at different times of day.  Get out and walk around and chat with neighbors.  Some people like friendly neighbors, others think of them as nosy.

Drive to the local grocery store, laundry, anywhere that you frequent.

Visit nearby schools and see for yourself how the kids behave and how the grounds look.  The point is to see if this is really the type of neighborhood you want to live in BEFORE you make an offer.

4.  Be prepared.

Make sure your contract has reasonable contingencies included to protect you as a buyer.  Reasonable can be things like approval by a home inspector.

For the long-term investment, make sure that you buy homeowner’s insurance, and upgrade it as the value of your new home and its contents increase.

5.  Be reasonable.

No home will be without flaws.  Many times it’s these flaws that lend character to older homes, but nonetheless, it will take SOME work to personalize any home.

Preparing yourself with these five simple things – mortgage pre-approval, a great real estate consultant, getting to know the neighborhood, protecting yourself, and being reasonable – will help make the home buying process easier for you and your family.


Preparing a Bathroom for Touring Potential Buyers

When a house is on the market, it becomes less the owner’s home and more of a display item.  Nowhere is this more important to remember than in the bathroom.  Buyers don’t want to see the seller’s personal hygiene items, moldy remnants of steamy showers or a soap scum-covered collection of empty shampoo bottles.  They want to be confident that this most private of rooms is well maintained and sanitized.  The trick to make the area seem less, well…private.

Preparing a bathroom for touring potential buyers is a four step process:  clean, repair, sanitize and spruce.

Every surface that can hold something – vanity, toilet tank, shower window, floor – should be divested of as many objects as possible.  The same thing applies for anything that can be opened – medicine cabinet, drawers, and linen closets.

Cleaning begins with throwing out any expired medication, make-up that hasn’t been used in a year, nearly empty containers, and any other useless objects found while emptying cabinets and drawers.

The process continues with wiping each shelf, drawer, and cabinet door.  When everything is out from under the sink, take the time to check the faucets and pipes for leaks.

If faucets leak, washers probably need to be changed.  In some cases, the faucets may be corroded and need to be replaced.  If this is the case, opt for an inexpensive and very plain model.  Fill the sink with water.  If it drains from the sink slowly, pour in some drain clog remover and see if this helps.  If not, call a plumber.  When everything is clean and in working condition, neatly return items to the cabinet under the sink, using containers for small objects like bath toys, sponges or cleaners.

While the top of the toilet tank is bare, lift up the top and check the water level and condition of the inner mechanisms.  Flush the toilet.  Does the water refill to the correct level?  Does the water shut off when it reaches this level?  If not, then the inside mechanism with the seat and stopper at the bottom of the tank will need to be replaced.

This is quite easy and inexpensive to do yourself.  Parts are available at your local hardware or home improvement store.

Folks will notice a filthy shower.  So, spend some time here.  Remove personal items – cleanser, shampoo and conditioner, shave cream, razor, body sponges – from the shower/tub area.

Discard items that are unnecessary and store the rest under the sink.  Test the faucets and showerhead.  Do the faucets turn off all the way?  If not, change the washers.  Is the water spraying freely from the showerhead?  No?  Then remove it and check to see if it’s clogged.  If it still doesn’t work properly after cleaning, replace it.

Carefully examine tiles and the tub.  Does the tub have chips and discolouration?  It may need to be resurfaced or replaced.

How do the tiles look?  Any loose pieces or chips?  Are there cracks in the grout?  Scrub the bathtub, tiles and grout until they are mold and mildew free.  Regrout gaps between tiles.  Scrape and replace discolored caulking.

When the shower and bathtub have been overhauled, top off your repairs with a new, crisp shower curtain or liner in a neutral colour.

Take a good look at the ceiling and walls.  Do you see any mold, mildew, fingerprints or grime?  If so, scrub it with bleach.  Cracking or curling paint should be scraped and repainted in a neutral colour.

A rule of thumb:  Place only three items on the vanity area.  Many real estate experts suggest these include potpourri, a new or clean, filled soap dispenser, and a plant.  It’s a good idea to keep the toilet tank top cleared as prospective buyers and inspectors may want to peek inside it.

After the big clean-up and repair job in the bathroom, it’s important to maintain the fresh smell and appearance each day the house is on the market.  The space should be kept uncluttered, clean and sanitized.  It should reflect well on the house of which it is a part and offer few glimpses of the personalities who currently live there.

At this point, a homeowner enters the sprucing-up stage.  After cleaning every nook and cranny in the bathroom, it’s time to add the finishing touches.  All dirty towels and wash cloths, bath mats and robes should be removed.  A clean set of towels should be displayed before the house is shown.  Trash baskets should be emptied and floors wiped daily.  All personal grooming items – tooth brushes, make-up, combs and brushes, hair dryers, perfume, etc. – should be tucked away, preferably in a container and stored in a drawer or cabinet.


Carbon Monoxide: What You Need to Know

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can make you very sick, or even kill you before you are aware it is in your home.  It is produced when fuels such as wood, propane, oil, natural gas, kerosene, gasoline, diesel, coal or charcoal do not burn properly.

Health effects associated with Carbon Monoxide

CO can have a significant impact on human health. It enters the bloodstream through the lungs and forms carboxyhemoglobin, a compound that inhibits the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen to organs and tissues. Persons with heart disease are especially sensitive to CO poisoning. Infants, elderly persons, and individuals with respiratory diseases are also particularly sensitive. CO can affect healthy individuals, impairing exercise capacity, visual perception, manual dexterity, learning functions, and ability to perform complex tasks.

A person exposed to CO at low concentrations may display flue-like symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, downiness, burning eyes, confusion and unconsciousness. In server cases, prolonged exposure to CO could result in death. If any one in your home experiences symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, leave your home immediately, seek medical help and call 911 or your local fire department.

How to protect yourself

Proper installation, inspection and maintenance of fuel-burning equipment is your first line of defence against harmful releases of CO in your home. Have your fuel-burning equipment checked regularly by a licensed heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor. As a second line of defence, install one or more CO alarms.

Other steps to reduce exposure to Carbon Monoxide in your home:

  • Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.
  • Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.
  • Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
  • Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
  • Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
  • Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.
  • Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating systems (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly.
  • Do not idle the car inside garage.

Additional ventilation can be used as a temporary measure when high levels of CO are expected for short periods of time.

Hybrid mortgages – Have You Considered?

Hybrid mortgages – also known as 50/50 mortgage products – include an equal mix of fixed-rate and variable-rate components within your single mortgage. This means you get the best of both worlds – the security of fixed repayments with the flexibility of a variable rate.

Although there was a time in recent years when mortgage experts considered a variable rate mortgage as the obvious choice to save mortgage consumers money over the long term, with fixed rates remaining near historic lows, a 50/50 mortgage may be a great alternative for you.

In essence, since it’s extremely difficult to accurately predict rates over the long term, a 50/50 mortgage offers interest rate diversification, which can help reduce your level of risk.

If you opt for the Dominion Lending Centres 50/50 Balanced Mortgage, half of your mortgage is locked into a five-year fixed rate and half is at a five-year variable rate. You can lock in your variable-rate portion at any time without paying a penalty.

As well, each portion of the 50/50 mortgage operates independently – like two separate mortgages – yet the product is registered as only one collateral charge.

The 50/50 mortgage product is well-suited to a variety of borrowers, including those who:

• Would normally go fully variable but are afraid prime rate is at its bottom

• Aren’t comfortable being locked into a fully fixed rate

• Can’t decide between a fixed or variable mortgage

• Savvy first-time homebuyers

Some features of the 50/50 mortgage include:

• 20% annual lump-sum pre-payment privileges

• 20% annual payment increase ability

• Portability (the option to transfer your existing loan amount to a new property without penalty)

As always, if you have questions about the 50/50 mortgage product and whether it’s right for you, or other mortgage-related questions, I’m here to help!

Maureen Young
Accredited Mortgage and Lease Professional
Dominion Lending Downtown Financial
Phone: 604-805-5888
Fax: 604-904-8608