Are you Ready to Buy a Vacation or Investment Property?

Canada’s ‘baby boomer’ generation is the most affluent group ever seen in Canada.  The ‘boomers’ have either already inherited, or are poised to inherit, their parents’ wealth.  The result is a transfer of assets and an increase in discretionary income on a scope never before seen in this country.  And many of these newly affluent people are deciding to invest in a second property – either a vacation home such as a cottage or ski chalet, or an investment property to appreciate in value, or generate rental income.

If you’re one of the many Canadians who’s thinking of buying a second property, your Coldwell Banker Coldwell Banker® real estate professional will tell you that you need specialized knowledge and planning to do it right.  Here are just a few of the many things to take into consideration:

  • Unlike your principal residence, any appreciation in value realized on the sale of a second property is considered taxable income.  Therefore, the name you use to purchase the property (for example, whether it’s put in your spouse’s name) could have major tax implications at time of sale.
  • Similarly, any revenue generated by an income property is also taxable.
  • The good news is that most expenses incurred in the operation and maintenance of the property can be written off against income earned.
  • Your insurance coverage and costs may also be affected by how you use the property.  Make sure your insurance broker knows all the facts, so you won’t be caught in a situation where a future claim is denied due to using the property off season or for commercial purposes.
  • Resale values for vacation properties can vary dramatically depending upon the community you choose and the services and features of the property.  For example, a year-round road access cottage will generally appreciate at a higher rate than a water access cottage.

Unlike other more volatile investments, real estate has traditionally been a sound long term investment for Canadians, even in times of economic downturn.  Better still, it’s also one of very few investments that you can actually enjoy while it increases in value.  However, when it comes to second properties, you need to be prepared before you start if you want to avoid surprises down the road.  It’s a good idea to consult your tax advisor before you buy to develop an ownership strategy and tax plan that makes the best sense for your situation.  Your Coldwell Banker real estate professional will be glad to tell you more about the ‘ins-and-outs’ of buying a second property.  Why not call today to find out more?

 

A Winter ‘tune-up’ for your home  

Winter is a time of year when many of us resolve to get ourselves in trim, whether it’s joining the gym or a dance class, or perhaps buying some exercise machinery for our home.  We devote a lot of attention to our cars too, putting on the snow tires, changing to winter anti-freeze, loading a bag of salt in the trunk.  But what about a ‘tune-up” to get your home operating at top efficiency?  While we’re snuggled in at home during the winter months, its a good time to make a few home ‘tune ups’ that could save you money while helping your home to run more efficiently.

A good place to start is by making your home more energy efficient. There are many ways to do it for very little expense.  For a modest investment in the $50 range, a thermostat timer will allow you to pre-set your thermostat to turn itself down a few degrees after you go to bed each night, and turn the temperature back up before you get out of bed each morning.  If you’re normally out of the house all day, you can achieve even greater savings by repeating the process when you leave your home each day.

Another simple and inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency is to wrap your water heater in insulating material to reduce heat loss.  This small task can deliver savings that will really add up over the course of a year.  You can also reduce heat loss by installing small pre-cut insulating pads under the cover plate of wall plugs and switches on the walls around your home’s perimeter.  Dimmer switches, and the energy-efficient light bulbs will also reduce energy and save you money too.

Your home ‘tune-up’ should include a check of the fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.  You should be sure that you have a working smoke alarm (and that means testing the batteries at least twice a year). installed on every floor of your house.  Also, clean the air filters on your furnace.  You should also consider having a furnace inspection to ensure its running safely and performing at top efficiency.  Again, your energy savings may even cover the cost of the inspection, and the peace of mind it delivers is priceless.

Want to know more about keeping your home running at optimum levels, and preserving its future resale value?  Contact your local Coldwell Banker® sales representative, and let’s talk real estate.

 

 

 

 

An Offer isn’t just about Price

Whether you’re a home buyer or seller, one of the most exciting, yet stressful parts of the entire real estate process is negotiating an offer. Many of us have spent a fretful few hours, or even a sleepless night, while an endless series of questions filled our minds: Will the price be appealing? Will the offer be accepted? Can we come to terms about conditions? Will the deal go through?

While price is most certainly a major – if not the major – factor in whether or not an offer gets accepted, there are still a number of other considerations that all play a part in the decision-making process. This is particularly true in cases where multiple bids are being considered. Offers aren’t just about the price and how savvy a buyer is when putting one together can make all the difference.

Of course, having the right real estate professional to negotiate on your behalf is another major factor that could mean a difference of thousands of dollars in your pocket, or even whether the offer is accepted at all. Here are a few points that may help to improve your negotiating position:

  • Choose a sales professional with a proven track record of success. You’ll benefit from the experience of a representative who has already negotiated the sale of similar homes in the same area.
  • Be open, direct and completely frank with your sales representative . After all, they’re representing your best interests! To do it well, they’ll need to clearly understand your needs, your goals and your limitations.
  • Make your offer as free of conditions as possible. There are many conditions that can be eliminated with a little advance planning. For example, if you pre-qualify for a mortgage, you won’t have to include a condition that allows you time to set up financing. Your Coldwell Banker professional can counsel you about the many options available to you.
  • Keep the terms of your offer as close to the listing as possible. Remember, all things in an offer have value. The closing date or certain exclusions may have tremendous importance to the seller, but not to you. The closer your offer ‘mirrors’ the listing, the more appealing it will be.

 

A smart real estate buy can help with college expenses 

It’s already June and another school year is winding down.  Many Canadians with a son or daughter who will be going away to college this fall are already thinking about all the expenses this will involve. There may not be much you can do about the high cost of tuition, books or travel, but there’s one major college expense that you may be able to turn to your advantage.  Rather than paying rent at a student residence for three or four years, why not consider buying a property and turning that expense into a source of income?  If you buy a property near the campus, you could rent rooms to other students and your child could potentially live there rent free.  With homes for sale at very attractive prices, and financing rates at near historic lows, it’s a great time to invest in real estate.  If you buy smart, you may be able to recover the cost of your child’s housing expense.  You might even be able to generate enough positive revenue to offset some of the other expenses of a college education.  Best of all, if house prices go higher in a few years – and industry forecasts say that they will – you could potentially realize a profit on the equity you have built up in the property.

If you’re interested in exploring this option, your local Coldwell Banker® real estate professional, can counsel you on what to look for and what to avoid.  There are also online resources such as the Home Price Comparison Index on www.coldwellbanker.com and On Location, the first real estate channel on YouTube™ to help you research and evaluate your options.  Through their connections in the financial sector, your real estate representative can even help you pre-qualify for a mortgage, so you’ll know in advance exactly how much house you can afford.  And when you’re ready to start looking, your Coldwell Banker representative can personally show you properties near at hand, or if you’re looking for a property out of town, put you in touch with an experienced real estate professional who’ll show you suitable properties in your target area.

Why not take advantage of this great market and use it to help offset the high cost of a college education?  Call your local Coldwell Banker representative and starting talking real estate.  You’ll be glad you called us first!

 

A Welcoming Winter Exterior

Home heating and hydro costs are continuing to spiral upwards, leaving many Canadians looking for more cost efficient and environmentally friendly ways to decorate the exterior of their homes for the winter season. Here are some decorating ideas to add a warm and welcoming touch to your home’s exterior without the expense and hassle of putting up holiday lighting.

Your front door is the focal point of your home’s exterior, so plan on a showpiece item here to draw attention and make an impact. Choose a dramatic piece, such as a large winter floral arrangement in a standing urn to place beside the door. You may even have an empty urn already, leftover from your summer plantings. If not, you can still pick them up at garden supply shops at this time of year. Resin or plastic versions are very inexpensive and you can even upgrade their look by painting them with black or copper spray paint to add to the drama. Let the base colour dry. Finish the look by applying a coloured glaze wash, and then wipe it off, leaving the glaze only in the crevices for a realistic aged effect.

Fill the base of the urn with any weighted material, such as sand or gravel, so it won’t tip over. Fill the remainder with oasis and then top it with decorative ground cover such as Spanish moss, available from any florist or garden store. Decorate your urn just as you would a floral centerpiece. Begin with low-sitting items to form the core of your arrangement. A dramatic choice could be a large decorative cabbage, that’s full of soft green and purple colours. Add some fragrant fresh evergreen branches for height and edging. These can easily be found at this time of year at any Christmas tree lot. Next, fill in with your accent pieces, which can be a collection of real and artificial items. Make sure you add a few tall pieces such as spray-painted twigs or pussy willows to add height and drama. Pine cones, acorns, bunches of dried berries or flowers, clippings from evergreen shrubs and plants in your own garden will all combine to create the look, with perhaps a few floral picks from the crafts store to add the finishing touch. When choosing your accent pieces, you’d be wise to choose items that aren’t specific to the festive season, so you can enjoy your welcoming display throughout the winter months, and not just for the holidays.

If you’re good at crafting, you may want to create a matching door wreath in similar materials. A simpler, more cost effective alternative is updating your existing wreath by introducing a few of the same elements used in your urn.

You could also create a coordinating swag to place above your front door. Tie a bundle of several evergreen branches together and wire it in the center. Then cover the wiring with a large wired-ribbon bow and a cluster of accent items, and you’ve got an original and high-impact selection of pieces that look beautiful day or night. And if you want to add some illumination to your home’s exterior, you can do it very economically with just one or two strategically placed floodlights.

A Seller’s biggest mistake

If you’re thinking of selling your home, you’ll probably be interested in knowing about one of the most common mistakes homeowners make when they decide to sell their property. When the time comes to sell, everyone wants to get the best possible price for their home, but you need to carefully consider what sale price will ultimately net you the best result. Getting it wrong could result in a loss of what could amount to several thousand dollars in most major Canadian markets.

What’s the most common mistake home sellers usually make? That’s easy — they ask too much for it. Some homeowners use the approach of going with the highest list price they believe the market can bear. They want to ‘test the market’ believing that they can always come down later if they really have to. It’s a common strategy among sellers who don’t know any better. It’s an approach that may sound logical, but as any experienced realtor can tell you, it rarely works!

Why not? Well, the first and most obvious reason is because nothing ever sells when the price is too high. But if it doesn’t sell, you may reason that at least you tried it and there’s been no harm done. Unfortunately, that’s seldom the case. You see, even if they like the first home they see, buyers typically view several homes to see what’s out there and where their preferred choice fits in the market. The bottom line? A potential buyer may like your home, but no one spends more than what they perceive to be a fair market price. Your over-priced listing will just make other listings – your competition – look that much more attractive. Worse still, your price may drive your potential buyers to begin negotiations on another more affordable listing, or one that’s similarly priced, but has more to offer them. Either way, you’ve lost a potential buyer who will probably never come back!

There’s another down side to pricing your listing too high – no action. It’s an accepted fact that the longer a house sits on the market without selling, the more suspicious people become that there may be a reason for it. Prospective buyers become concerned that there may be some hidden problem or defect. They may also become concerned that the home may be equally hard to sell again when resale time comes along. Your property could even start to acquire the stigma of a home that is a poor value. That’s a possibility you want to avoid at all costs! Imagine how difficult it would be to negotiate a favourable selling price in such a situation. And while your house sits on the market, you’ve got the added stress and disruption to your family life of keeping of your house ‘showing ready’.

As your Coldwell Banker real estate professional will tell you, the best way to sell your home quickly and at top dollar, is to create buyer demand. You do that by pricing your home at close to its expected selling price and then just watch buyer interest heat up! You may even find yourself in the enviable position where buyers are competing for your property. As the seller of a property that’s in high demand, you’ll have the luxury of choosing the right offer, no mistake about it!

A Good Impression – From the Ground Up

You’ve cleared out all the old clutter, painted the windows, and planted some flowers. You’re sure you’ve thought of all the little things about your home that will make a good impression to a potential buyer. Yet, even if your home décor is beautiful, if your property shows any signs of a leaky foundation or drainage problems, then a buyer who may have fallen in love with the rest of your home will simply walk away when they see what’s happening downstairs.

Every aspect of your home relies upon its foundation. If a buyer detects moisture, cracking, heaving, or other problems in your home’s foundation, it can often be an indication of intensive and costly repairs needed in the future. The common denominator of such problems is usually water. There are a few simple and cost effective solutions a homeowner can take to address these common foundation problems early, before a small problem becomes a bigger one.

The majority of foundation trouble is due to inadequate drainage. A heavy rainfall on an average-sized roof can produce thousands of gallons of water that spew from the different downspouts located around the house. The first thing to do is check eaves and drainpipes for clogging. Metal snake type cleaners are available at building supply stores to assist in cleaning those hard to reach spots.

If you’re sure the gutters are clear, yet you’re still having moisture problems, the next thing to do is to check the angle of the downspout ends or ‘kickers’ which route the downspout water away from the basement walls. If the downspout nearly touches the ground before the bend for the kicker, then you are creating a choke point for the water flow at peak times. It’s far better to have the downspout ‘kicker’ to start angling away from the house while it’s still 8-12 inches above the ground. This longer, higher slope will let gravity help evacuate the water faster. Also, try to pipe all water to a low point away from your home. But do keep in mind where the water is draining, so you can keep the neighbours happy too.

If these measures fail to solve your home’s drainage problems, it may be that you have to dig deeper – literally. It may be that you have to install a drainage tranch, or ‘weeper’ tile underground to help alleviate the build-up of rainwater around your house. The ‘weeper’ is essentially a small sewer pipe that pulls the water away from the house quickly. It a very labour-intensive job that requires digging a trench 12 to 14 inches deep for drain lines leading water away from your problem areas. There’s a relatively low skill level, so some able-bodied do-it-yourselfers may be tempted to do it on their own, with a little help from their local home improvement store.

Remember to correct any moisture problem in your foundation before you fix any cracks, stains, and blemishes, or you’ll end up doing the same job over and over again! For more tips of solving buyer objections before they arise, contact your local Coldwell Banker real estate professional.

Five Questions Sellers Should Ask When Choosing a Real Estate Representative 

Selecting a real estate representative to assist in the largest financial transaction a person will likely ever make is a critical part of the home selling process. In a challenging economic environment where competition among real estate companies is on the rise, choosing the agent that’s right for you can be a confusing task. Coldwell Banker®suggests home sellers start by interviewing several real estate agents to find someone with whom they “connect.”  However, chemistry is not the only variable to consider. The length of time an agent has been in the business, his or her home sale success rate and knowledge of the local market can also play a significant role in the decision-making process. To jump-start the conversation, Coldwell Banker suggests five essential questions home sellers should ask before selecting a real estate representative.

1. How long have you been in the real estate business and what has your success rate been in terms of home sales over the past 12 months? The length of time a real estate representative has been in the business and their home sale success rate demonstrates their knowledge and expertise in the industry. Ideally, a home seller will want to work with an agent who has a high percentage of completed transactions within your home’s price range.

2. What was the average amount of time it took to sell those listings? Comparing marketing times between the agents you are interviewing will provide you with an indication of how well that agent markets homes.

3. What was your list-price to sale-price ratio? Significant differences between original listing prices and ultimate sale prices can be an indication that the list prices quoted at the outset were unrealistic.

4. What is your online marketing plan to sell my property? In Canada, the vast majority of home buyers begin their home search on the Internet. Therefore, the real estate representative you select should have a strong online marketing presence as well as be visible through social media outlets in order to reach the widest possible audience. Websites such as Coldwell Banker On Location, a branded YouTube™ channel, allow real estate agents to showcase their listings and local knowledge by tapping into the power of video and offering consumers a new way to search for homes online.

5. Do you have references you can share from past clients? References allow you to gain additional insight into the day-to-day workings with the real estate agent. Gathering reputable references will help ensure that you select the best real estate representative for your needs.

Want to know more about where to find a great real estate representative anywhere across Canada?  Visit www.coldwellbanker.ca to view details for thousands of real estate professionals.

Buying a cottage in the off season

The demand for cottages has increased over the years, and what was once a relatively low cost alternative for a family getaway has now become a significant financial investment.  One way to get good value for your money is to consider buying a cottage in the off season.

All things being equal in terms of lot size and square footage, its features and general state of repair, there are three important factors that will tend to determine a cottage’s value compared with other similar properties.  These three factors should be given careful consideration when choosing a cottage:

  • its commuting distance from a major urban center
  • its proximity/convenience to leisure activities (either waterfront for summer, ski hills in winter or both), and
  • its accessibility/ability to be used throughout the year.

A cottage that can be used in winter as well as summer will have the broadest appeal, and usually has more amenities to suit its many usages.  That can also translate into a higher asking price.  However, a year-round property also tends to offer a better potential to increase in value over time for the same reasons.

If you’re considering a year-round cottage, winter is an ideal time to view the property.  It will give you a realistic idea of how accessible the roads are and how long it will take to get there under challenging road conditions.  If the roads to the property are not plowed in winter, that may result in the property only being accessible by snowmobile or ATV.  That will have a major impact on its selling price and future resale value.  Viewing the cottage in winter also lets you see the heating system in action.  Wood stoves and fireplace inserts do a far better job of heating a space than just an open fireplace, but few people would find them adequate to meet all the demands of a cold Canadian winter.  If there’s no back-up heating system in place — either electric baseboards or a furnace — you may want to allow for the expense of installing one as part of your budget.  Remember that if you plan to add baseboard heaters, they draw a lot of power, and you’ll need to be sure the cottage wiring has the hydro capacity to handle the demand.

The best news about viewing a cottage in winter is that there are usually fewer buyers around to compete with your offer – especially if the cottage’s primary usage is just as a summer getaway.  If the property is water access only, then the seller’s options are seriously limited.  The seller may not be looking forward to carrying the expenses until next summer approaches, so an offer now could have a great deal of appeal.  This could be just the right time to make your move.  Ask your Coldwell Banker® real estate professional how to turn the winter season into your buying advantage!

 

Real Estate Consumers want an Ultimate Service® experience 

In today’s marketplace, Canadian consumers are constantly being inundated with advertising claims from a number of real estate brands, many of which sound very similar from one company to the next.  The consumer is left wondering whether there really is a difference between real estate companies.

That was a key reason why Coldwell Banker developed Ultimate Service®.  While other brands or real estate professionals may talk about quantity – how many homes they’ve sold, or other such numbers — Coldwell Banker focuses on quality.  The quality of service that Coldwell Banker professionals deliver to home buyers and sellers across Canada through a unique program called Ultimate Service.

It all starts with listening.  Every customer and every transaction is different.  Only by listening to the customer and truly understanding their individual needs, can you deliver a value proposition that will meet those needs.

There are three distinct steps to the Ultimate Service marketing process:

— First, we listen to the customer

— Second, — together with the customer — we develop a customized service plan to meet their needs…and then commit to that service plan, in writing.  We offer a signed pledge to customer satisfaction in the form of our Buyer and Seller service guarantees

— And finally, we give our customers an opportunity to evaluate our service in the form of customer satisfaction surveys.

The satisfaction surveys benefit the consumer in two ways.  First of all, it helps us to  continually evaluate and refine their service.  Only by constantly improving can you ensure that your service stays ahead of your customers’ expectations.

But there’s another way that our survey benefits the consumer – it offers them a proven track record of our performance.  In fact, Coldwell Banker Canada has just earned a 98% overall satisfaction rating from Canadian Home Buyers and Sellers.  And what’s more, we’ve now done it for 13 years in a row!

Our Ultimate Service claim is unique in the real estate industry.  Why?  Because it’s based on what real, live customers had to say about the service experience delivered by their Coldwell Banker agent.

Our 98% satisfaction rating – which was tabulated by an independent third party company – was based on the responses of over 50,000 Canadian home buyers and sellers.  No other company in real estate can make that claim.

When you choose Coldwell Banker, you don’t have to take our word for it that we provide outstanding service – just ask our customers!

With You Every Step Of The Way

%d bloggers like this: