Green Cleaning Tip: A Greener Cleaner!

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Why spend money on commercial cleaning products when equally effective, more natural cleaning supplies are probably already in your kitchen cupboard?

1. For a multi-purpose, everyday spray cleaner that’s effective, economical and safe around kids and pets, simply mix one part white vinegar with nine parts water in a spray bottle or bucket.

2. Create a streak-free shine with your own window cleaner. Pour one cup rubbing alcohol plus one tablespoon white vinegar into a spray bottle, spray on windows and wipe away with paper towels or yesterday’s newspaper.

3. A box of baking soda goes far in the cleaning world. Some suggestions: Use it on a damp sponge to clean sinks and scrub BBQ grates, freshen upholstered furniture and carpets by sprinkling it all over before vacuuming, and add a cup to your laundry to brighten clothes.

 and to make your home healthier try these tips. Contact me for the recipes. 

4. Use woolen Balls in your dryer instead of dryer sheets.

5. Make your own Non-Toxic Powder Laundry Detergent. All you need is baking soda, washing soda, Borax, Epsom Salts, Sunlight Bar Soap, Oxi-Clean and essential oils such as lavender or lemon.

6. Make your own deodorant.

7. Make your own face cream.

8. Make Your Own Lip Balm.

 

 

What Are Closing Costs?

What are closing costs? What should I know before getting my next loan?

What Are Closing Costs?

Closing costs are fees paid in connection with the refinance or transfer of ownership in real property. They are paid by either the buyer or the seller on the settlement date.

These fees will always vary. What you pay for one refinance or property transfer will not be the same as another. This is due to the different parties involved, different types and locations of property, the financial capacity of a buyer and many more factors.

The law requires lenders to give you a loan estimate within three days of receiving your application. This document sets out what your closing costs will be. These fees, however, are not set in stone and subject to change.

Your lender should provide a closing disclosure statement at least three business days before the closing date. This is a more reliable estimate of your closing costs. Compare it to the loan estimate you’ve received and ask your lender to explain the fees and the reasons for any changes.

What Is Included in Closing Costs?

Your costs will differ depending upon the transaction. Types of costs include:

  • Credit report fees (the cost of checking your credit record)
  • Loan origination fees (which consists of the cost to your lender for processing your loan)
  • Attorney fees
  • Inspection fees (for inspections requested by either you or the lender)
  • Appraisal fee
  • Survey fee (so that both you and the lender know where your property boundaries lie)
  • Escrow deposit which may cover private mortgage insurance and some property taxes
  • Pest inspection fee
  • Recording fee paid to a county or city authority to file a record of the property transfer and/or new mortgage lien against the property
  • Underwriting fee to cover the cost of processing a loan application
  • Discount points (money you pay your lender to get a lower interest rate)
  • Title insurance (protection for you and the lender should there be any issues with title to the property)
  • Title search fees (costs incurred by the company who checks the title on the property)

These fees can range anywhere from 2% to 5% of a property’s selling price. It’s smart to get estimates from two or three lenders so that you can take these costs into consideration before making an offer. For the easiest way to compare lenders who may use different terminology to describe their fees, simply ask for a loan estimate from each.

 

Can I Negotiate These Costs?

Some fees, such as document, processing, service, underwriting and courier charges are open to negotiation. However, third party fees such as an appraisal or survey, are not.

If you’re worried about how much you’ll need at closing you can find a bank that doesn’t escrow real estate and homeowners insurance. Often, banks will escrow six months of real estate taxes and several months of homeowners insurance premiums. When added to the other closing costs, this can be quite a large sum.

Keep in mind, however, that you will be responsible for paying your homeowners insurance and property taxes when they’re due rather than relying on your lender to pay them for you.

Where allowed by law, you can negotiate with the seller to have them pay some closing costs normally attributed to the buyer.

Can I Add my Closing Costs to the Loan?

Most loan programs will allow for a percentage of the purchase price to go towards closing costs. The easiest way to do this is to ask for a seller credit towards the closing costs.

The seller credit means that the seller will receive a smaller ‘net’ amount at closing, however there is a way to make a seller credit more palatable to the seller. If you can qualify for a higher purchase price – say 2.5% over list – the seller won’t lose any money and you can use the seller credit towards the closing costs.

In this scenario, what you’re doing is financing your closing costs over the life of the loan.

You can also do a lender credit. Like a no-cost refinance, you agree to a higher interest rate so that the lender will pay some of the closing costs. You can potentially get a lender credit of $2,000 to $4,000 – a sizeable amount of fees.

Keep in mind, however, that should you continue paying the same mortgage over the life of the loan, you could end paying more than if you were to pay up front.

What Can I Expect?

Before closing day arrives, contact your agent to confirm that he or she has everything for the transaction to go as smoothly as possible. Pull together any paperwork that you have received and keep it on hand for easy reference on closing day.

Be prepared to take your time reading through all of the closing documents. Make sure you completely understand all of the terms you’re agreeing to. If some of the terms are missing or incomplete, don’t sign until they are resolved to your satisfaction.

Your lender will send money to the closing agent via a wire transfer and may require that you set up a new escrow account with them to pay your property taxes and homeowners insurance together with your monthly mortgage payment.

You should be advised before closing day how much money you’ll need to have for closing, so bring your checkbook with you to cover any necessary escrow and/or closing costs.

Among the many documents you’ll be signing, three of the most important documents will be the:

  • Hud-1 Settlement Statement – a document which sets out the costs incurred with your closing.
  • Deed of Trust or Mortgage – a document in which you agree to a lien being placed against your property as security for repayment of your loan.
  • Promissory Note – a document which can be described as a legal “IOU” which sets out your promise to pay according to the terms of the agreement.

For more information on the details of buying a house, visit our First Time Home Buyer section.

Sharon is the Digital Content Specialist for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in New Jersey and holds a BA from Syracuse University. She is passionate about giving back to the community and enjoys teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at the local Boys & Girls Club. She loves pun-ny jokes and she can watch adorable videos of puppies and babies all day.

Protect Your Investment

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Your home is your castle, which is why, while you won’t have to defend it against fire-breathing dragons, you do need to protect your house or condo from the likelihood of more typical home scenario disasters by buying the right home insurance coverage.

Take a moment to make sure you understand the different types of insurance, and then make sure your home is adequately protected.

 

  • The first thing to clarify is the difference between mortgage insurance, home insurance and life insurance. Mortgage insurance can cover the balance remaining on a mortgage if the person listed on the mortgage passes away or, in some cases, has a severe illness and is unable to support the payments. Home insurance covers the replacement cost of your home should it be damaged by fire or other disaster, and the replacement cost of your belongings in the case of damage or theft. Life insurance pays your beneficiaries a pre-determined amount in the case of your death. While an insurance professional will be able to give you details on all your insurance options, in a nutshell, mortgage insurance covers the loan, home insurance covers the homeowner’s property and possessions in the home, and life insurance protects your family.
  • In cases of theft, fire or water damage, standard home insurance can cover damage and loss of much of your contents, but not necessarily all. Talk to your insurance broker about any specific, valuable pieces of jewelry, artwork or even an expensive wine collection that might require a separate rider on your policy.
  • Find out about other instances where you may require additional coverage or a separate rider. For example, clarify coverage for water damage should it result from a natural disaster versus a backed-up sewer. If you live in an area prone to flooding or earthquakes you may be required to buy separate, specialized insurance to protect yourself against those types of claims. Homeowners with pools and hot tubs also need to consider dipping into their bank accounts to increase their liability insurance.
  • Your insurance broker will be able to explain how much insurance is enough, or even too much. For example, coverage is typically based on the cost to rebuild a damaged home, and is not based on the market value of the house.
  • Living in a condo? Yes, you need home insurance too. While your condominium building policy most likely covers all the common areas, it doesn’t cover your contents, personal liability and any improvements you may have made inside your unit. Also, if something like a fire or a leaky pipe in your unit damages another unit, you may be personally responsible for paying the damages. Don’t forget to ask if your contents coverage includes the items stored in your condo locker.
  • Running a home-based business? Don’t assume your business equipment is covered, and that business liability is the same as personal liability just because you’re working out of your home. Ask your insurance broker to add a business rider to your home insurance.
  • Are you renting out all or part of your property? The renter is responsible for insuring his/her own personal property, but you need to protect your property, your investment and yourself.

 

Talk to your insurance broker to find out what kinds of protection you need, how much home insurance is enough, how much is too much, and how raising your deductible can lower your payments while keeping your coverage strong.

Smart Home Technology is Becoming an Integral Part of the Home Buying Checklist

The rise of smart home technology is making both buyers & sellers ask themselves the same question before deciding where to call home: “Is this a smart home?”

The following is a guest post by Tejash Unadkat, General Manager, August Home


Buying a home is a big decision. Budget, location and the vibe of the house (could this house become my home?) top the list of considerations for most people when they are buying a house. Noticeably, “is this a smart home?” is making its way to the top of the list for buyers.

According to the 2017 Smart Home Marketplace Survey from Coldwell Banker Real Estate, 71 percent of home buyers surveyed are looking for “move-in ready” homes. Home buyers want “smart ready” homes complete with smart security, smart locks, smart thermostats, smart lights and other smart devices. In fact, Coldwell Banker affiliated agents note that the majority of top selling homes over the past few months in some markets, such as Miami, have smart home technology installed before the sale***.

There are two key trends driving this evolution in home buying behavior:

First, smart home devices, like the Nest thermostat and August Smart Lock, offer an attractive industrial design, are easy to install, have key features that allow users to save money or deliver convenience and  peace of mind . The smart home devices also provide a simple and elegant user experience that makes them very easy to use while hiding all of the technical complexity.

Second, home buyers have become increasingly knowledgeable about smart home technology. Conventional wisdom indicates that millennials are early adopters of smart home technology. The Coldwell Banker Real Estate Smart Home Survey (August 2016)** found that over half of baby boomer and Gen X-ers are expressing an interest in smart home technology at the time of purchase. This clearly indicates that smart home technology adoption has moved from early adopters towards mainstream customers.

The popularity of  voice assistant technology from giants including Amazon (Alexa), Google (Assistant), Apple (Siri), Microsoft (Cortana) are also accelerating the adoption of smart home technology, serving as an entry point to the smart home experience. These companies have sold millions of devices and simplified the use of smart home devices through their voice interfaces by making it as easy as speaking naturally to control lights or adjust the temperature or lock a door. There is no learning curve beyond installing the device.

The adoption of smart home technology has had a significant result for home sellers. Homes designated as a smart homes on coldwellbanker.com are receiving two timesmore conversions than similar non-smart home properties* highlighting a change in buyer preferences as smart home technology becomes more prevalent. August Home partnered with Coldwell Banker to be part of its Smart Home Staging Kit, which packages three core products that help sellers make their home “smart.” The kit includes the August Smart Lock, Nest thermostat and Lutron lights for under $1000 – an investment that pays for itself.

The onus is now on agents to ensure that home sellers are aware of how a small investment in smart home technology can enhance the appeal of their property for buyers. By facilitating the procurement and installation of the most popular smart home devices, agents will bring new value to sellers and accelerate the rise of  smart home technology is soon going to be a checkbox for every home buyer’s checklist.

*Coldwell Banker Real Estate Smart Home Marketplace Survey: A conversion in this instance is a click-through requesting more information on the property from an agent or a request for an appointment to view the listing.

**Coldwell Banker Real Estate Smart Home Survey, August 2016

***Danny Hertzberg, a Coldwell Banker agent in Miami, Florida, CNET interview

 

First Impressions

PhotoCan you sell a home by its cover? If your home features a well-presented home exterior, it’s certainly a possibility.

Today’s many exterior refinishing options provide ways for your home to stand out, increase its perceived value and capture the eye of the right buyer, no matter what your budget. Re-facing the outside of your house can be as simple and cost-effective as repainting it, or as involved as applying new brickwork. Here are just a few of the options available.

Paint: The least expensive option, a fresh coat of paint can instantly brighten and freshen your home’s exterior.

Siding: Vinyl siding is lightweight, inexpensive, easy to install and can cover a multitude of sins from flaking paint to uneven wall surfaces. Wood and brick siding are more expensive, but can create a richer impression.

Stone Veneer Siding: Boasting the luxury look of full stonework but with a much easier installation and substantially lower cost, stone veneer is becoming a strong contender in the home upgrade market. Whether you’re refacing for your own benefit or for curb appeal, it’s worth noting the return value of your investment: the annual Cost vs. Value Report, reported in Remodeling Magazine, affirms an 89.4 percent return-on-investment for manufactured stone veneer.

Stucco: Attractive, low-maintenance, and available in a variety of textures and colors, stucco can add warmth to the exterior appearance of your home. Before installation, however, be sure to investigate its practicality for the weather in your region.

Want to Know How to Get into the Real Estate Market?

How much would you need to come up with for a down payment these days?

In Canada, the minimum down payment  depends on the purchase price of the property your thinking about buying. You would need  a down payment of 5 percent of a home’s purchase price for a property worth $500,000 or less. When the purchase price is above $500,000 but under $1 million, the minimum down payment is 5 percent for the first $500,000 and 10 percent for the remaining balance and if the property is priced at over $1 million, you require a minimum 20 percent down payment, and the lender’s lending policies.

In addition to the down payment, you need to factor in the closing costs which include legal costs, taxes and land transfer fees — costs that can add another 1.5 percent to 4 percent of the purchase price to your up-front costs.

Right now its a great time to get into the market. Prices are stable, there are more homes to choose from and less buyers competing for the same home.

Wondering how much of a mortgage you can afford? Please call The Mash Team today for a no-obligation consultation! We will help you move!

Help! My Home Isn’t Selling

You listed your home for sale with high hopes. You love your property and you felt certain that it would sell in a reasonable amount of time. But it’s been several weeks or months since you listed your home.

You’ve had some interest and maybe several showings. You may or may not have received an offers. Maybe you’ve even experienced the emotional turmoil of watching a Offer fall apart. Regardless of the details, one fact is clear: your property is very much still for sale.

What went wrong? What can you do? Here are 8 effective tips to facilitate a faster sale.

Depersonalize
If your house has been on the market for six weeks or more without so much as a nibble of interest, it’s time to take a hard look at what might be putting buyers off.

If buyers can’t imagine themselves living in a home, they’ll be reluctant to make an offer.

To make your home appealing, pack away all of your family pictures, child artwork, and mementos. Paint your walls a neutral color like beige, cream or white. Pack away any polarizing or controversial pieces of artwork or decor. Depersonalize and try to make your home look like a model home.

Declutter
Buyers like to see clean, wide-open living spaces. If you have physical or visual clutter in the room, you’re sending a message to the buyer that you don’t have enough storage space.

Don’t send that message. Instead, get those moving boxes and start packing. You may not have a contract yet, but if you minimize your possessions and declutter the space, you’ll make the rooms look larger and create the impression of having tons of storage space.

Remove Evidence of Pets
We love our four-legged friends, but their food and water dishes, crates, and even just hair on the carpet can be a big turn-off to buyers who don’t like animals.

If you know that someone is coming to look at your home, put the food dishes away, store the crate in the garage or outside, and make sure to remove all signs of pet fur and dander.

Freshen Up the Space
Don’t let buyers turn up their nose at your home. Smell is the first thing potential buyers notice when they walk into a house.

Clean your home to get rid of any dusty or musty smells. If the weather is nice, open the windows to let your home air out. Install all-natural room fresheners or light scented candles in discreet places like the bathroom closet, laundry room, and garage. Choose a neutral and natural scent, like vanilla, rather than a pungent floral scent.

You could also consider investing an essential oil diffuser to leave running during home showings. Sage, lemon, lavender, and cinnamon are all subtle, relaxing, and inviting scents that help brighten your living space.

Work on Curb Appeal
Some buyers won’t even step into your home if they don’t think the property has curb appeal. Clean the windows and make sure that there are no visible cobwebs. Mow your yard and trim the edges, prune the bushes, plant fresh flowers, and spruce up your shutters by giving them a fresh coat of paint. You may even want to install a new mailbox and outdoor light fixtures.

Consider an Affordable Mini-Renovation
Not everyone likes a fixer-upper. Stained carpets and less than appealing paint colors may look like dollars needed for (and the hassle of) renovation in the buyer’s eyes.

Small renovations may lead to big payoff. Consider painting the walls a neutral color, installing a smart thermostat, replacing hardware and fixtures and other fairly inexpensive changes that will take away the label of a fixer-upper.

Stage Like an Expert
You’ve depersonalized, decluttered, renovated, and worked on curb appeal. Now it’s time to stage your home like a pro.

Place brand new, neatly folded towels and candles in the bathroom. Place a decorative bowl filled with bright red or green apples, lemons, or limes in the kitchen. Fill a clear glass cookie jar with fresh cookies on the kitchen counter.

Talk to Your Agent About Pricing and Listen to What They Say
If your home isn’t selling after you’ve done everything above, it’s time to talk to your real estate agent about adjusting the price.

This is where your agent’s knowledge of your market and the amenities of your home come into play. If your home is priced competitively, buyers will feel like they’re getting a great deal. A $5,000-$10,000 reduction may be all it takes to motivate the right buyer.

Make Your Home More Accessible
Make your home available for showings. If you limit your home to pre-scheduled viewings, you’re definitely not going to be able to sell as quickly. If you’re flexible with when you allow buyers to come see your property, you’ll have a better chance of getting more foot traffic and more potential buyers into your home.

Are you Fit To Sell. Call The Mash Team. We are here to help!

7 Reasons Buying Beats Renting

Right now in the Durham Region, home buying is much better than renting. Discover the advantages home buyers have in today’s market that renters are missing out on.

Why Buying a Home Thru The Mash Team is Better than Renting
Conventional wisdom used to state that buying a home is always a great investment.

Now more than ever it has become easier for “First Time Buyers” as Prices Have Dropped since April. There are more homes to choose from and we are not experiencing as many Multiple Offers situations.  We seem to be in a more typical summer balanced market.

The good news is that Year to date stats show that the average selling price is higher today than from  a year ago.

Price Security in Home Buying
Historically, prices tend to rise over time. For example, a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, and a semester of college tuition cost more today than they did in 1990.

Your mortgage payment, however, is one constant you can rely upon. If you hold a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly principle and interest (P&I) payment remains the same, regardless of how prices are moving in other industries. (Your property taxes and homeowners insurance may rise.)

Price consistency offers the advantage of planning for the long-term future. As a homeowner, you can anticipate your monthly housing costs for 1, 3, or 5 years.

As a renter, you can’t lock in this type of security. As prices climb, landlords raise the rent to meet the current market.  The allowable rental increase for 2018 is 1.8%.

If you’re renting with a month-to-month lease in Ontario, your landlord can increase your rent with 90 days of written notice. This puts renters in the difficult position of needing to either find the additional funds or scramble to secure new housing with little advance warning.

Investment – Cash-on-Cash Return
As a home buyer, the outlay of a small down payment as low as 5% can give you the opportunity to make out sized gains.

Hypothetically, for example, imagine that you put a 20 percent down payment on a $100,000 house. The price rises 5 percent, to $105,000. You would earn $5,000 on your initial outlay of $20,000 – a return of 25 percent. This is known as cash-on-cash return, and homeownership can make this type of gain accessible to the average person.

Forced Savings
A home can be a type of “forced savings.” Each month, a portion of your mortgage payment is returned to you in the form of equity. The longer you own your home, the more equity you build – both via mortgage payments as well as in potential value increases.

Renters don’t have this luxury. Many of the pro-rental arguments hinge on the assumption that money “saved” (either via lower monthly payments or through alternate uses of the down payment) would be invested in the stock market.

Realistically, though, what’s the likelihood that a renter would invest that money, rather than spend it on a trip to the Bahamas? And if that money were invested, what’s the likelihood that a renter wouldn’t panic during the next crash and sell at the bottom of the market, turning paper losses into actual losses?

A home functions as ‘forced savings,’ helping you build equity. Like a personal trainer, it keeps you accountable.

Flexibility with Home Improvements
As a homeowner, you can have the freedom to upgrade your home to your heart’s content – without carrying risk or ongoing financial commitment.

If you get a bonus at work, you can celebrate by installing hardwood floors or renovating the bathroom. If you suffer a financial setback, you can defer your plans to remodel the kitchen.

Renters don’t hold this flexibility. The only way they can upgrade their living space is by moving, and this entails both hassle and commitment.

Homeowners, by contrast, can upgrade their home piecemeal as they accumulate cash over the years. Home improvements are a one-time expense that doesn’t require continuous commitment.

Pride of Home Ownership
You wouldn’t invest hundreds of hours or dollars cultivating an exquisite garden in a rental property. You wouldn’t paint, hang wallpaper or replace the light fixtures on a rental property.

As a homeowner, you can take pride in personalizing and perfecting your home. The space can truly morph into a reflection of you, in a way that a rental property never could.

Neighborhood Connection
As a homeowner, you’re more likely to become involved in your local community. There’s a stronger chance that you’ll join the neighborhood association if one was available, organize potlucks or block parties with your neighbors, coach a local sports league or volunteer at the local school.

While it’s possible that you’ll get involved with the community as a renter, you’ll also likely feel an emotional barrier that stems from knowing you might move in a year or two. Committing to an area for the long-term can inspire you to invest more time and energy into improving the neighborhood and connecting with the surrounding community.

For more information on how to buy a home, call us. We are here to help.  Real Estate is still a good investment.

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Open House Sunday Aug 20, 2 pm-4 pm

1047 Ridge Valley Dr. Oshawa

 $675,000

Open House Sunday August 20,  2 pm – 4 pm

Live your dream in this 4 +2 bedroom, 3 bath home. Home Features: Double-car garage, eat-in kitchen, finished basement, dramatic fireplace in main floor family room, and good schools nearby. Home has lots of updates: located on a quiet street, landscaping, finished basement, Large master with 2 Walk-in Closets and Ensuite bath. This Perfect home for entertaining with Large Dining Room Combined with Living Room. Filled with light and open spaces.  $675,000.

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Open House Sunday 2pm – 4pm

599 Regional Road 42,  Bowmanville

Open House: Sunday August 13, 2pm-4pm

You’ll love this 2+2 bedrooms, 2 bath layout with relaxing view of your own pond, natural landscaping with stream and walk-ways. Renovated kitchen with lots of cupboards, pot n pan drawers, and built-in microwave. Dining area features built-in cabinets, walk-out to deck with hot tub overlooking back yard.

Added bonus: New detached dwelling that is roughed-in for 900 sq ft nanny suite plus garage/work shop at the back.

Convenient location for commuting with being close to new 407 extension, 401 and Hwy 115.

Home is located just north of Algoma Apple Orchard. Hope to see you there.

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With You Every Step Of The Way

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