Welcome to my Blog!
This is the place where I rant about whatever I like, though I try to keep it mostly Real Estate related. Whether you are looking to by a home in the Edmonton area or anywhere else, I am sure you can find some helpful advice here. Use the sidebar to navigate through my blog to access either my Real Estate section, Market Updates, Home Buying/Selling Tips, Recent Sales, or my Random section where I talk about anything and everything. Feel free to leave comments, I'd love to hear from you!
Ryan Broos, Remax Real Estate.
October 16, 2017
Buying a Home: What Expenses to Expect
Buying a Home: What Expenses to Expect
Budgeting for a new home can be tricky. Not only are there mortgage installments and the down payment to consider, but there are also a host of other—sometimes unexpected—expenses to add to the equation. The last thing you want is to be caught financially unprepared, blindsided by taxes and hidden costs on closing day.
These expenses vary: some of them are one-time costs, while others will take the form of monthly or yearly installments. Some may not even apply to your particular case. But it’s best to educate yourself about all the possibilities so that you will be prepared for any situation. Use the following list to determine which costs will apply to your situation prior to structuring your budget:
1. Purchase offer deposit.
Typically when you purchase a property, you have to put down some sort of a deposit to hold the home. In most cases, this deposit counts towards your total downpayment that you will be making at the bank. The amount of the deposit varies greatly anywhere from $1000- 10,000, sometimes even higher. Most sellers insist on at least $5000, and once you get over the $250,000 price of the home, odds are the seller will want $10,000. The size of the deposit is negotiable, but the Seller is going to want something substantial to secure the deal.
2. Inspection by a certified building inspector.
Don’t cheap out on this one. Yes your friend’s uncle knows ‘everything’ there is to know about homes and will do it for $100, but this is likely the most substantial investment of your life, don't screw it up. It should cost around $500 depending on the property, and you should confirm the inspectors has insurance, experience, and a good reputation.
3. Appraisal fee:
Your lending institution may request an appraisal of the property. The cost of this appraisal is typically your responsibility. Talk to your mortgage broker about the cost if any on this one.
4. 5% GST:
This fee applies to newly built homes only or existing homes that have recently undergone extensive renovations. Confirm with your lawyer or an accountant if this will apply to your purchase.
5. Legal fees:
A lawyer should be involved in every real estate transaction to review all paperwork. Experience and rates offered by lawyers range quite a bit, so shop around before you hire. When you are calling around watch out for the words ‘plus disbursements.’ Some lawyers when asked their price will say something like “all in the cost should be around $1300,” others may say “cost is $800 plus disbursements.” What a lot of people don’t realize is the first lawyer included disbursements in his cost and the second lawyer may end up charging you a similar amount as disbursements can be hundreds of dollars. Like I said lawyer rates vary, ballpark you are looking $1000-1600 with disbursements, for a purchase.
6. Homeowner’s insurance:
Your home will serve as security against your loan for your financial institution. You will be required to buy insurance in an amount equal to or greater than the mortgage loan.
7. Property taxes:
This one catches a lot of people off guard. Depending on how the seller pays property taxes you may be required to pay taxes before you move in. If the seller is paying month to month, you can likely just jump onto that program. If the seller pays once a year, things are a little different. Property taxes are paid by June 30 for the current year. For example what this means is on June 30, 2017, a seller pays their property taxes for January- December 2017, the six months that have already passed and the next six months. So if you move into the home in October, the previous owner has already paid the taxes for Oct, Nov, and Dec, and you have to pay them back for those months. Your lawyer figures this all out as part of the final closing costs.
8. Moving expenses.
Hiring movers can cost a lot, hiring you friends can cost you pizza, beer and more dents in your walls, figure out what works best for you.
9. Service charges:
Any utilities you arrange for at your new home, such as cable or telephone, may come with an installation fee and are then followed by monthly fees.
10. Renovation of a new home:
In order to “make it their own,” many new homeowners like to paint or invest in other renovations before or upon moving into their new home. If this is your plan, budget accordingly.
13. Condo fees:
If you are moving to a new condominium, you will likely be charged a monthly condo fee which covers the costs of common area maintenance.
That should cover most things so be sure to have enough saved for the ones that apply to you. It might not even be bad to budget a little more, just to be safe. If you end up with extra money, well that is a situation a lot of people are happy to find themselves in!
Happy house hunting.
October 2, 2017
To Buy or Sell First?
If you are considering looking for a new house, and are a current home-owner, then chances are you’re wondering what your strategy should be: do you wait to find the perfect new home before you put your current home on the market, or do you sell first and then look around? You have a few options. Use the following as a guide to explore what might be the best move for you.
There are several benefits to selling your current house before searching for your next home. First of all, once you have sold your house, you will know precisely how much money you have to work with. With a concrete price range, you’ll be able to narrow the pool of houses before you begin looking, and negotiate accordingly. This will allow you to immediately make firm offers on houses that you are serious about purchasing. You can be first in line with a 'non-subject to sale' offer you know you can afford, and this will grant even further negotiating leverage as Sellers tend to take offers that don't have a subject to sale clause more seriously. When they counter or turn down an offer that’s conditional on the sale of a home, they usually think the Buyer will come back with a better and more firm offer once they have sold their current home. However, if you don't have this condition, the Seller will usually give you more consideration, as they realize you’re probably looking at other properties and will move on if your offer is rejected. Likewise, if you have already sold you house, you probably do have a wider opportunity to look around, negotiate, and find the best deal and fit for you and your family.
The flip side of this scenario, however, is that if you don’t find the right property before the closing date of the house you’ve already sold, you may have to look for temporary housing until you do find what you’re looking for.
So, before you opt to sell first, you should determine whether you have alternate, temporary options, in case you have to move from your house before you’ve found a new one. How would you and your family deal with living in a transition home for an undetermined period of time?
IIf temporary accommodations isn't an option; then what I typically suggest for people who chose this route is first to go out and look at some homes with your Realtor. Are there homes out there that you could see yourself happily living in? If so then selling first may be a great option. However if you can't really find anything or there is only the odd property that even interests you, then you may want to focus on buying first as you are looking for something more specific and it may take more time.
Buying a new house without having sold your current home may occur if you are interested in a specific property and will only sell your current home if this property comes on the market. It may be a matter of timing—grabbing hold of the home before it’s too late. The same might be said of a property you haven’t had you eye on previously, but that catches your attention due to its uniqueness or unbelievable price. If buying first means you don’t miss out on the real estate opportunity of a lifetime, it may be the best move.
However, be careful. If you buy another property and aren’t able to sell your current home quickly enough, you could end up having to finance both homes and shoulder the extra debt until you sell. You can get a financial appraisal or market evaluation of a home prior to selling, but this doesn’t guarantee the price you’ll ultimately receive for the home after the negotiation process has run its course. Since your selling price will be an unknown, jumping into a purchase could be a gamble, particularly if your budget is tight.
Make sure you’re familiar with all aspects of the financial reality this scenario would create before you purchase another home. You may be faced with owning two homes at once. What type of financial stress would this bring to your life and how would you deal with it? Consider the fact that if your current house doesn’t sell quickly enough, you may be forced to sell it off at a reduced price in order align the closing dates of your two properties. What effect would this have on your financial situation?
An additional option involves making your offer to purchase conditional upon the sale of your current property within a specified period. Conditional offers usually include a clause that allows for the Sellers to keep their property on the market and remain open to other offers while you try to sell your home. If the Sellers receive another attractive offer before you’ve sold your home, they may accept and ask you to either remove your condition and firm up your offer, or to back down from the offer. A conditional offer forms a kind of middle ground, an area of compromise, for those who are afraid to sell or buy first—but doesn’t hold the advantages of the other two options.
One of the drawbacks of the conditional offer is that Sellers tend to take them less seriously. They definitely give stronger consideration to firm offers. This leaves you with less negotiating power. In fact, some Sellers will simply turn down or counter a conditional offer. So, you may end up having to increase your offer in order to have your conditional offer accepted and keep your foot in the door of your desired house.
Even if your conditional offer is accepted, there is no guarantee another Buyer won’t step in and overthrow your offer before you have sold your current home, which would put you back at the starting line.
Often it's not an easy choice and whichever route you choose requires you put some serious thought into if it is right for you. Talk to your Realtor and Mortgage Broker and figure out what is best for you.
I hope this helps and as always I am open to discussing this with my clients anytime.
September 18, 2017
How to Determine, The Best Asking Price for Your Home
The Best Asking Price for your Home
Setting a realistic price for your home that reflects current market values will help sell your home quickly and for top dollar. When you price your home properly, you increase the chances that the offer you receive will nearly match your asking price and that there will be competing offers—which may net you even more in the long run.
Your property has the best chance of selling within its first few weeks on the market or following a price adjustment. One a home has been on the market for more than 3 weeks, the odds of it selling aren't very good, until of course, the price is adjusted. And, studies indicate that the longer a property stays on the market, the less it will ultimately sell for. A property priced 10 % more than its market value is significantly less likely to sell within this window than a property priced close to its actual market value. About half of homes on the market today are 5-10 % overpriced. This is why our average days on the market is normally around 50 days. Correctly priced and marketed homes sell in weeks, not months. Sellers will usually over-price their homes by this margin if, either, they firmly believe the home is worth more than what the market indicates, or if they want to leave room for negotiation. Either way, if you choose to over-price your home, you run the risk of increasing the amount of time your home spends on the market, and decreasing the amount of money you’ll ultimately receive.
At the other end of the selling spectrum are houses that are priced below a fair market value. Under-pricing often occurs when the owner is interested in a quick sale. You can bargain on these homes attracting multiple offers and ultimately selling quickly at—or above—the asking price.
The knowledge and skills of an experienced Realtor will be invaluable when determining an appropriate asking price. It is the job of your Realtor to know the current market and market trends inside and out, to be closely connected to the real estate market at large, and to be aware of other properties currently for sale in your particular area. Based on this range of connections and knowledge, your Realtor should counsel you on how to price your home properly in order to attract the highest price possible, in the shortest period of time.
Before approaching this process, you should first do some homework yourself. You’ll need to know the workings of the current market before you even begin to think about setting an asking price. The market will always influence a property’s value, regardless of the state of a home, or its desirability. Here are the types of market conditions and how they may affect you:
1. Seller’s Market:
A Seller’s market is considered a “hot” market. This type of market is created when demand is greater than supply—that is, when the number of Buyers exceeds the number of homes on the market. As a result, these homes usually sell very quickly, and there are often multiple offers. Many homes will sell above the asking price.
2. Buyer’s Market:
A Buyer’s market is a slower market. This type of market occurs when supply is greater than demand, the number of homes exceeding the number of Buyers. Properties are more likely to stay on the market for a longer period of time. Fewer offers will come in, and with less frequency. Prices may even decline during this period, which makes it a horrible time to overprice your property, as the longer, it sits on the market, the less you may eventually receive. Buyers will have more selection and flexibility in terms of negotiating toward a lower price. Even if your initial offered price is too low, Sellers will be more likely to come back with a counter-offer.
3. Balanced Market:
In a balanced market, supply equals demand, the number of homes on the market roughly equal to the number of Buyers. When a market is balanced there aren’t any concrete rules guiding whether a Buyer should make an offer at the higher end of his/her range, or the lower end. Prices will be stable, and homes will sell within a reasonable period of time. Buyers will have a decent number of homes to choose from, so Sellers may encounter some competition for offers on their home, or none at all.
Remember, a Realtor is trained to provide clients with this information about the market, helping you make the most informed decision possible. The right Realtor will guide you through the ups and downs of the market and keep you up-to-date with the types of changes you might expect.
Evaluate your house in the other main areas that affect market value:
The proximity of your home to amenities, such as schools, parks, public transportation, and stores will affect its status on the market. Also, the quality of neighbourhood planning, and plans for development and zoning will influence a home’s current market value, as well as the ways in which this value might change.
The age, size, layout, style, and quality of construction of your house will all affect the property’s market value, as well as the size, shape, seclusion and landscaping of the yard.
3. Condition of the Home:
This includes the general condition of your home’s main systems, such as the furnace, central air, electrical system, roof, windows, etc., as well as the appearance and condition of the fixtures, the floor plan of the house, and its first appearances.
4. Comparable Properties:
Ask your Realtor to prepare you a general market analysis of your neighbourhood, so you can determine a range of value for your property. A market analysis will provide you with a market overview and give you a glimpse at what other similar properties have been selling for in the area.
5. Market Conditions/ Economy:
The market value of your home is additionally affected by the number of homes currently on the market, the number of people looking to buy property, current mortgage rates, and the condition of the national and local economy.
It has been proven time and time again that the best way to obtain maximum value for your home is a combination of correct pricing and strategic marketing. This is where a Realtor who day in and day out is actively engaged in the housing market can help you significantly.
As always if you have any questions or comments, I would be happy to help.
September 5, 2017
7 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Home
7 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Home
You’ve been saving for awhile, weighing your options, looking around casually. Now you’ve finally decided to do it—you’re ready to buy a house. The process of buying a new home can be incredibly exciting, yet stressful, all at once. Where do you start?
It is essential you do your homework before you begin. Learn from the experiences of others, do some research. Of course, with so many details involved, slip-ups are inevitable. But be careful: learning from your mistakes may prove costly. Use the following list of pitfalls as a guide to help you avoid the most common mistakes.
1. Searching for houses without getting pre-approved by a lender:
Do not mistake pre-approval by a lender with pre-qualification. Pre-qualification, the first step toward being pre-approved, will point you in the right direction, giving you an idea of the price range of houses you can comfortably afford. Pre-approval, however, means you become a serious buyer, making negotiations with the seller much easier.
2. Allowing “first impressions” to overly influence your decision:
The first impression of a home has been cited as the single most influential factor guiding many purchasers’ choice to buy. Make a conscious decision beforehand to examine a home as objectively as you can. Don’t let the current owners’ style or lifestyle sway your judgment. Beneath the bad décor or messy rooms, these homes may actually suit your needs and offer you a structurally sound base with which to work. Likewise, don’t jump at a home simply because the walls are painted your favourite colour! Make sure you thoroughly the investigate the structure beneath the paint before you come to any serious decisions.
3. Failing to have the home inspected before you buy:
Buying a home is a major financial decision that is often made after having spent very little time on the property itself. A home inspection performed by a competent company will help you enter the negotiation process with eyes wide open, offering you added reassurance that the choice you’re making is a sound one, or alerting you to underlying problems that could cost you significant money in both the short and long-run. Your Realtor can suggest reputable home inspection companies for you to consider and will ensure the appropriate clause is entered into your contract.
4. Not knowing and understanding your rights and obligations as listed in the Offer to Purchase:
Make it a priority to know your rights and obligations inside and out. A lack of understanding about your obligations may, at the very least, cause friction between yourself and the people with whom you are about to enter the contract. Wrong assumptions, poorly written/ incomprehensible/ missing clauses, or a lack of awareness of how the clauses apply to the purchase, could also contribute to increased costs. These problems may even lead to a void contract. So, take the time to go through the contract, making use of the resources and knowledge offered by your Realtor and lawyer. With their assistance, ensure you thoroughly understand every component of the contract, and are able to fulfil your contractual obligations.
5. Making an offer based on the asking price, not the market value:
Ask your Realtor for a current Comparative Market Analysis. This will provide you with the information necessary to gauge the market value of a home, and will help you avoid over-paying. What have other similar homes sold for in the area and how long were they on the market? What is the difference between their asking and selling prices? Is the home you’re looking at under-priced, over-priced, or fair value? The seller should have received a Comparative Market Analysis before deciding upon an asking price, so make sure you have all the same information at your fingertips.
6. Failing to familiarize yourself with the neighbourhood before buying:
Check out the neighbourhood you’re considering, and ask around. What amenities does the area have to offer? Are there schools, churches, parks, or grocery stores within reach? Consider visiting schools in the area if you have children. How will you be affected by a new commute to work? Are there infrastructure projects in development? All of these factors will influence the way you experience your new home, so ensure you’re well-acquainted with the surrounding area before purchasing. Rember LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. There is a reason why it is considered so important.
7. Not recognizing different styles and strategies of negotiation:
Many buyers think that the way to negotiate their way to a fair price is by offering low. However, in reality this strategy may actually result in the seller becoming more inflexible, polarizing negotiations. Employ the knowledge and skills of an experienced realtor. S/he will know what strategies of negotiation will prove most effective for your particular situation.
March 6, 2017
Pre-Home Inspection, Inspection
You might be asking yourself, “what the heck is a Pre-Home Inspection, Inspection?” To put it simply a Pre-Home Inspection, Inspection is something that could save you somewhere around $500 and a lot of wasted time.
I have been a realtor for about ten years, and during this period I have been through a lot of inspections, some went great, some didn’t. Let's play a little game where I explain two different inspections, one that I consider went great and the other horrible. Oh and if you just want to know what a Pre-home Inspection, Inspection is and don’t want the examples just scroll down to where I wrote, ‘So what do you do to avoid all this,” it’s in bold a few paragraphs below.
Inspection #1, Inspector discovers the shingles are well past their expected life and need replacing. The interior ceiling has water marks, and the inspector thinks the marks are due to roof leakage.
Inspection #2, Inspector notices one of the support pillars in the basement is leaning slightly. The basement is finished so the foundation's walls are not visible. The Inspector finds a spot where he can just see behind the drywall and discovers that the foundation wall is crumbling. The reason why the pillar is leaning is that the house is collapsing. He isn’t an expert in foundations, but at a minimum, some major repairs are required, and possibly the entire house will need to be knocked down and rebuilt.
So which inspection went great and which went horribly? Well, you might be thinking neither went great and in some ways you are correct. However in another way you are wrong.
Inspection #2 the one with crumbling foundations, in my opinion, went maybe not great but could have gone much worse. Sure my clients lost out on the money they paid for the inspection, and the house is in trouble. But think about how much it would have cost them if they hadn’t got the inspection?
So what about inspection #1 why did I say that one went horrible, well that is the whole point of this blog post that I am finally getting to the point. In inspection #1 the clients were at their budget’s limit with the purchase of the house and couldn’t afford the repairs, they ended up having to walk away from the house, just like in inspection #2. What was the big difference, well simply put inspection #1 was completely unnecessary, a waste of money and a lot of time.
You see the inspection could have been avoided by the buyer simply looking at the roof from the street and noting that the shingles were in really rough shape. Then after noticing the shingles, taking a closer look at the interior ceiling would have revealed the leak. At that point, the buyers should have decided that since they can’t afford the repairs, the house wasn’t for them, or done something in the negotiations to try and get the sellers to fix it. What they should not have done was write the offer, waste a ton of time for everyone involved and most importantly spend $500 on an inspection.
This kind of thing happens all the time. People have a house inspected only to discover there are issues and walk away. For issues that they couldn’t have figured out on their own, that is fine, but when it is easily identifiable problems, that's a waste of time and money.
So what do you do to avoid all this?
Do a pre-home inspection, inspection. Don’t do it for every home you see, just for the one you like best and are thinking of putting in an offer on. Book a second showing through your Realtor and do a quick 20-30 min more detailed look at the house. You could very likely find something that would turn you off the home and therefore save you around $500 on a home inspection. Note I am not saying don't do the home inspection. Buying a home is likely the largest investment you will make in your life. Find a qualified home inspector to ensure your investment is a good one. Doing a pre-home inspection, inspection will help you decide if the actual inspection, and writing the offer, is worth doing at all.
Here’s what to look for;
Shingles- Asphalt shingles are the most common in Alberta, so that is where I will focus. Don’t bring a ladder and go up to the roof; the inspector can handle that. Walk a little down the street or find a safe place you can see the roof, bring binoculars if you have. Look for curling shingles or completing missing ones.
Windows- Check the framing of the windows, if they are the old wood style, look for rotting. In the windows themselves look for moisture, you can look at this when indoors as well. Also look for broken windows.
Foundation- Walk around the exterior of the house and look at what you can see of the foundation, there is usually a foot or so exposed above the ground. Look for cracks. Parging cracks are fine (image #1). The parging is thin and primarily just to look nice, so the cracks don’t really matter and are easy to repair. What you want to look for is in image #2 which is a crack in the actual foundation. They are not always the end of the world, but they are an area of concern. Make a note of any you find and where they are located so when you get to the basement you can check for moisture.
Grading- The grading (ground) around the home should slope slightly away from the house. If it slopes towards the house, then when it rains, or the snow melts, moisture will flow towards the foundation. If the ground is dirt or lawn, repairing isn't a huge deal. Concrete, however, can be a little more tricky. Mudjaking might be an option for concrete, they drill a hole in the concrete, pump a material in which then raises the concrete. Mudjacking isn’t overly expensive, but it is not always an option. If the concrete is old and has lots of cracks in it, you may not be able to mudjack which may then require having the concrete removed and repoured which is costly.
Siding/Exterior Finish- There are multiple types of siding/exterior finishes; vinyl, brick, hardy plank, etc. The biggest thing to look for is missing pieces. Missing one square foot of siding likely isn't costly, providing you can find a matching piece. The issue is depending on how old the siding is, finding more of it might not be possible. If you can’t match it, can you find something similar or will you have to replace the siding on the whole house?
Driveway- Similar to what I mentioned concerning concrete in the grading section. Concrete only lasts so long, and it is an expensive repair. Cracks are normal and to be expected, but when the cracks spread to gaps and dips between slabs, repairs can get costly.
Garage door- Open it, did it work great!
Fence/Deck- Give them a good look over and keep your eye out for rotting wood. Replacing a few boards is minor, but you might not want a total rebuild.
Electrical- So you probably aren't an electrician, and even if you are, you shouldn’t be opening panels and inspecting the electrical components of someone's home without their permission. It should only be inspected be a trained professional who has permission. You don't want to hurt yourself or screw something up. Aluminum wiring can be a concern. If the home is older and you are concerned about aluminum wiring, the best bet is to ask the owner's rather then try to inspect it. If you ask they likely won’t lie seeing as you are going to be getting the home inspected anyway and will know for sure after that. You could look (not touch) around the electrical panel and try to identify it that way also. The issues with aluminum wiring are easy to find online, in some rare cases, it can cause fires, and because of this sometimes you might run into issues getting house insurance. There are modifications that can be made to make it safer, for example, pig tailing. Again I want to repeat in case you somehow missed it but asking is the best route here. Test the light switches to see if they work though it could always just be the bulb. Another one is, bring your phone charger and check the plugins.
Plumbing- Look under all the sinks and around the toilets for water damage. If the home was built in the 1970’s to 90’s, look for Poly B plumbing. You can look online and see what the issues can be. Some people argue there are no problems with this stuff others think it's horrible and just a matter of time until it starts to leak. I am not a plumber, so I don’t know which is true, but you should know what is in the house you are thinking of purchasing and decide if it's an issue for you.
Foundation- Just like for the exterior, for the interior walk around the foundation and look for cracks. Not every crack is evil, but if the crack is large enough to slide a coin into, it could be an issue. Also look for wet concrete beside the cracks, puddling or signs of previous moisture on the ground near the cracks. Horizontal cracks could be signs of a structural issue so look for those as well. If dealing with a finished basement, things can be a little tougher. Look at the baseboards and flooring, discoloration or swelling could be signs of moisture. Look extra close below any windows; often cracks start near windows.
Flooring- If you see an area rug or something in an odd spot, maybe take a quick peek underneath. You would be surprised how often people try to hide carpet stains or flooring scratches.
Things I would love to tell you to do, but you probably shouldn't do are things like testing the stove, dishwasher, washing machines or running the furnace. Although I am sure you are capable of handling these, you don’t want to be on the hook for damaging something. If you really want to test them, then run it by the listing Realtor/sellers first.
That pretty much sums it up, there are of course other things to look for, but that should cover all of the big ones that may or may not prevent you from wanting to purchase the house. Though I have already said it repeatedly I will still say it one more time, if you do decide to go through with buying the house, get it professionally inspected.
No house is perfect, and they will all likely have problems, including some of the ones I listed above. Hopefully, this will help you identify the majors one without costing you more than an hour of your time. Once you know, then you can decide if you want to go through with writing an offer and getting an actual inspection.
Happy house hunting.
March 31, 2014
Staging Tips for Selling Your Home
I don’t believe I have ever listed a home for sale and not had my clients ask what they should do to prepare for showings. So then, you might wonder why it is that a good portion of the homes listed for sale are in poor showing condition? Well the answer in most cases is very simple and can be summed up in one word - TIME. I’ve sold my home as well as helped plenty of other people sell their’s, so I know first hand how hard it can be to keep a home in good showing condition.
There is no denying how important it is, but for many, keeping their home in good showing condition is hard. To keep things simple, I’ve ordered my advice in the list below from most important to least. That way, if you don’t have time for it all, at least you know where best to focus your time and effort. Everything on the list is relatively simple to fix and often commented on by the buyers I've worked with in the past. This list doesn’t include the minor extra credit details; I will create another post for those later.
Clutter can give the impression that the home is not large enough or does not have enough storage. Additionally, you want to give potential buyers the opportunity to imagine themselves living in your home; this becomes difficult when you have an overabundance of personal items visible throughout the house.
Whether it’s all the sentimental ornaments covering every coffee table and shelf, your overabundance of kid’s toys, or your entire collection of Don Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em videos, to the average home buyer, it’s just clutter. You’re planning to move which means you are going to have to pack it all eventually, so you might as well start now.
I’m not saying you have to put all your ornaments away, keep out a few of your favourite most tasteful ones.
As for clients with kids, invest in a couple of large storage bins and pack away the less-favored and the messiest toys. Maybe do this when the kids are not looking, or you could have a battle on your hands. Try to keep the amount of toys left to a reasonable level so that it is easy to put them away before showings.
The reason why I rank de-cluttering number one is that it is critical and you should only have to do it one time.
#2 Kitchens and Bathrooms
In my home, and most others I assume, these are the two quickest places to become a mess. And guess what? They are often the most important to buyers. Leaving a magazine on the couch, not freshly vacuuming the living room or an unmade bed, are not exactly what a buyer wants to see, but how about dirty caked on macaroni and cheese dishes in the sink? A toilet with residue? Little hairs around the sink? All kind of gross. I promise you; the last thing you want to do is make a buyer disgusted. The kitchen and bathrooms are where this is most likely to happen, so make sure they are as clean as possible.
One simple solution to help you with this task is to keep on top of them daily and not let a big mess build up. For the bathrooms, buy a container of those disinfectant wipes and take a minute once a day and wipe everything down. You should still do a big clean once a week or so but a minute or two a day should be enough to keep appearances up. As for the kitchen; the wipes are great again and make a new family rule that no dirty dishes are left in the sink.
The biggest thing with these two areas is just keeping on top of it so that, when you get a call from your Realtor that someone wants to see the house in an hour, you don’t have to panic.
#3 Curb appeal
Picture your significant other and the first time you met them. Now change the situation in your head so that when you first saw your special someone, they hadn’t showered in a week or combed their hair. Do you see where I’m going with this?
First appearances matter, and when people pull up to view your home, impressing them would be great, but at a minimum, you don’t want to disappoint. Here are a couple of quick things to consider:
- Weeds - I’m not going to chose sides and say how you should deal with weeds, if you are an environmentalist pick them if not spray the buggers, just get rid of them;
- Lawn - cut and water regularly;
- Flowers- plant a few and/or get some flower pots for your front step, they make wonderful looking fake flowers if you don’t want to water;
- House - Clean the outside of your house. Depending on the material, a hose or a pressure washer should do the trick. Put an extra focus on the entryway.
- Snow - shovel your’s and if you have a lazy neighbour, do their walks also. Don’t stop right on your property line. This creates a sense of a friendly neighbourhood and stopping right on your property line does the opposite.
- Trees/hedges/bushes - cut back and trim if they are overgrown. If you have an overgrown bush covering a window, do something to get rid of it as it will reduce the natural light getting into your house.
Now I realize a lot of this is picky, but it is important. For the average household a hard days work can get most of it done for a season and if you can’t keep up with the rest, hire someone. Plenty of companies will do this, or better yet maybe a neighbourhood kid is looking to make a few bucks. It’s worth the cost as you may get more for your home if it has good curb appeal.
Wherever you can, try to remove oversized or old and junky furniture. You don’t want your place to look empty, but over-crowded is worse as it makes a home look smaller than it is. You are looking for a comfortable happy medium. If you have crowded rooms, and there is furniture in those rooms that you don’t use, put it in storage. Same goes for the couch your cat has torn to shreds or the old chair that has visible butt imprints in it. If you don’t need them, pack them away. Some of it you may not even want anymore for your new house, so make moving day easier and get rid of it now. Renting some nice furniture or hiring a home stager is a good idea if you don’t have furniture in great condition. It might seem a little strange seeing as you are selling the home not the furniture, but believe me, nice furniture makes a huge difference in how buyers will perceive your home.
#5 General Clean
We already touched on cleaning some parts of the house, now for the rest of it. A good thorough clean to begin with, and then just keep it up. Vacuum and dust once a week or so. If you don’t have the time, hire a home cleaner either for just the initial clean or have them come by once every week or so. Don’t forget to clean the baseboards, doors or anything else that is white or light coloured. The white contrasts with the dirt and although these aren’t areas you likely regularly clean, they are easily noticeable when unkept.
And that’s about it folks. Sure, there are many more little extra credit things you can do, but the reality is that if you do everything I just listed, you are well ahead of the game. Also, keep in mind it can sometimes take months to sell a home, but hopefully this can be reduced by following these few tips.
I know I’ve suggested hiring someone to help you out with a few of these things. Maybe the last thing you want to do is hire someone because it is too expensive, right? Wrong. Having a cleaner come by once a week should only be $100-200 as long as you don’t let things get out of hand. As for the yard, a weekly cutting and watering or snow removal is probably under $50. Sure, if you hire for the first home clean or yard maintenance it will cost you, but probably not thousands. Want to know who will be paying thousands of dollars? The buyers, and that makes it more than worthwhile, also your home will sell faster it has been proven time and time again.
So think about it and do your honest best. I guarantee it will be worthwhile.
Ryan Broos, Remax Real Estate