Staging your Home for First-Time HOMEBUYERS

House Appeal:

When it comes to staging a home for sale, it is important that sellers create a warm and inviting atmosphere that will appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.  Staging a home for first-time homebuyers is easier than one might think.

Below are seven simple staging tips from The Mash Team to help boost a home’s appeal and give owners the competitive edge necessary when selling a home.

Stage rooms with one purpose. Extra rooms that have a mishmash of uses can confuse and even deter first-time homebuyers, so staging rooms with one purpose is vital. Keep in mind that these buyers are generally young couples without children, and rooms should be presented as areas equipped to meet their needs. So turn those playrooms and storage dens into a home office or the kids’ bedroom into a guest bedroom. 

  • Tackle the easy “do-it-yourself” projects. To ensure that a home is in tip top shape make sure to replace outdated kitchen and bathroom fixtures, apply a fresh coat of paint to a worn wall and refinish the kitchen cabinets. Providing a sleek and modern look wherever possible can make a huge difference in the eyes of first-time homebuyers. To learn more about what home styles are “in fashion,” ask a local Coldwell Banker agent about the styles seen in homes that are selling in the area, and purchase a current interior design magazine for ideas.
  • Focus on the living areas. A living roomis an area in which potential first-time buyers should be able to envision themselves entertaining friends or gathering with their family. With that in mind, homeowners should make the area appear as large and functional as possible by removing any unnecessary furniture and decorations. 
  • Make sure the master bedroom appeals to both sexes. The master bedroom of a couple’s first home is often the first bedroom they will share. When staging this room, make sure that it appeals to buyers of both sexes.  Remove any feature that seems too gender-specific and paint the walls a neutral color. 
  • Clear the room of family portraits. First-time homebuyers are looking for a home they can picture their family living in, not the previous owner’s. Coldwell Banker (DBA) recommends taking down family portraits, personal collections and knickknacks. Removing these items will also eliminate clutter and ensure that people are looking at the house for sale, not at the photos from the last family vacation. 
  • Furnish the home, but don’t overdo it. While an empty home looks spacious, it is hard for new buyers to visualize their belongings in a home if they are staringat ceilings, floors and bare walls. Leave the basic components of each room, but make sure there is still plenty of open space. 
  • Don’t forget to spruce up the yard. First impressions often play a role in a consumer’s decision making process.  Make sure the home’s exterior is inviting by trimming the bushes, mowing the lawn and painting faded window trim. Couples looking for their first home often have less yard work under their belts and will appreciate the seller’s attention to detail.

When Less Is More: Downsizing With Style

While moving into a home of any size can be a large undertaking, for buyers looking to downsize, the transition is often more challenging. But whether they are empty nesters requiring less space, young professionals moving to a new city for job opportunities or families looking to save, more and more buyers in today’s real estate market are opting to downsize.

Though moving to a smaller space may involve making a few sacrifices, having less room does not mean having to scale back on style. In fact, a homeowner with minimal square footage to work with can maximize their home’s overall charm just by using a bit of creativity.

Below are eight effective tips from The Mash Team for how to downsize with style: 

  • Keep, sell, donate, and trash. Although it is difficult to part with possessions, doing so is often a must for anyone planning to move into a smaller home. Begin by dividing belongings into keep, sell, donate, and trash categories. Post items for sale online, or hold a garage sale; offer unwanted furniture and clothes to a friend or family member or donate it to local charities. Knowing that others will appreciate these things might make parting with the items a bit easier.
  • Scale it back. Unless a homeowner is trying to make a dramatic statement with an extra-large couch or coffee table, a small space will likely look and feel better with moderately-sized or even slightly smaller furnishings. In fact, a room with furniture that appropriately fits the space will actually seem larger. It is all about scale.
  • Look for multipurpose living room furniture. A piece of furniture with more than one purpose is a downsizer’s dream. Coffee tables and ottomans that double as storage cubbies allow guests a place to rest their drinks and feet while the host’s belongings remain hidden underneath. And who needs a guest room when the couch has a pull-out bed?
  • Don’t just dream of storage, dream on it. Platform and storage beds are ideal for storing items that are used infrequently such as seasonal clothing, spare bedding and linens. Plus, they free up valuable space in bedroom closets, especially those that are shared!
  • “Build” a wall with a simple screen.  The smaller the home, the more purposes each room serves. But this does not mean a homeowner must eat where they sleep. Buyers opting to downsize should consider putting up a screen to divide a room with more than one use into sections. The room will still feel open but the screen will provide some much needed privacy and separation.
  • Consider hanging curtains. Just because the new home has fewer windows does not mean its owner has to settle for boring window treatments. Hanging curtains on the side of the window pane can make it appear larger, and curtains that run from floor to ceiling can create the illusion of height.
  • Maximize wall space.Homeowners who have run out of floor space and need additional room should look to the walls. Shelves that are hung on walls or above doorways will provide more space and serve as stylish room accents.  Furthermore, while it sounds simple, the addition of a mirror on any wall will add depth and light to a room, making even the smallest space seem larger. Mirrors also add elegance and charm to a home’s décor, often at a reasonable price.
  • Utilize new technology. New technology, such as flat screen televisions and laptop computers, allows for more space in the living or office areas while adding a modern touch to the home.



Home value is top of mind for many homeowners, particularly as the housing market begins to show early signs of recovery from the recent downturn.  Renovations and remodeling can play a critical role in both increasing the value of a home and ensuring that it stands out to potential buyers.

At a time when most consumers are looking to do more with less, few homeowners may be ready to commit the thousands of dollars it can take to fully redo even a single room.  Before breaking out the tool belt, The Mash Team advises homeowners to check out the free online tools that can help them chart their home remodeling efforts, such as “HomeTracker” available at

The professionals at The Mash Team suggest the following eight affordable home improvements for potentially increasing the overall value of a home, without breaking the budget:

  • Reface Kitchen Cabinets. Kitchen updates are among the smartest remodeling projects when it comes to “upping” the resale value of a home. But homeowners do not need to spring for an entire new cabinet set to improve the room’s appeal. Refacing existing cabinets, applying a fresh coat of paint or replacing tarnished pulls and knobs with new hardware might be just the quick fix a kitchen needs to make it look and feel like new.  
  • Improve the Lighting. Updating lights and lighting fixtures is another simple enhancement that does not require a major investment. Replacing old bulbs with stronger, more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs will brighten up the house and make it more inviting – while cutting down on energy costs over the long term. In addition, replacing recessed lights in a dining or living room with an affordable chandelier or installing accent lighting to draw attention to artwork or other room features can create an entirely fresh ambiance.
  • Freshen up a Fan. An updated ceiling fan can give a room a more contemporary feel, but purchasing a new one isn’t always a necessity when looking to upgrade. Improving an existing fan is simpler than homeowners might think and does not have to come at a high price.  First, try unscrewing the fan blades and turning them over. Typically, blades have alternate colors or patterns on the reverse side. If not, simply add a coat of paint and reattach. One can even install new pull chains to complete the look as well as match the fan accents to new lighting fixtures or cabinet hardware. 
  • Hang More Mirrors. It sounds simple, but the addition of a mirror on any wall adds depth and light to a room, making even the smallest space seem larger. Mirrors also add elegance and charm to a home’s décor, and often at a reasonable price. 
  • Break Out the Paint Brushes. Applying a couple coats of paint can make a remarkable difference and is always a low-cost, high-return project. The Mash Team recommends a warm, neutral wall color that can make a room seem more spacious, create a more modern feel and appeal to a wider variety of buyers. 
  • Install Laminate Flooring. Even if the cost of hardwood or tile floors is out of the question, for under $5 per square foot, homeowners can easily install laminate flooring in their kitchens, hallways and bathrooms – provided that floors are level with those in adjacent rooms. Laminate flooring can hide chipped tiles or old linoleum and give the room a more modern feel.
  • Refinish Your Appliances. Purchasing brand new matching appliances can cost thousands of dollars. However, for a few hundred dollars, an appliance refinisher can re-enamel the surfaces of appliances covering up any out-dated colors that may be ruining the look of your kitchen.
  • Spruce up Your Home’s Exterior. When planning to put money into a house, homeowners should not overlook simple exterior renovations that can add substantial worth and attract more buyers. A freshly-mowed lawn, a clean, even walkway and a few well-placed bushes can make a huge difference. If you don’t have a green thumb, consider hiring a landscaper on a one-time basis to plant some shrubs or give the front yard a good cleanup.

*Homeowners who are not comfortable taking on a home improvement project themselves should always hire a qualified professional.


The Mash Team Provides Consumers with a ‘Cheat Sheet’ to Understand Common Terms of the Trade

 Entering into the world of real estate can be very exciting, but often times, understanding the terminology can be complicated.  To help consumers better understand real estate terminology, the The Mash Team has prepared a short summary to assist home buyers and sellers in navigating their way through the housing marketplace. The following is a list of 10 common terms or phrases associated with the real estate process.

  1. Appraisal: A home appraisal is a survey of a home by a licensed professional for his or her opinion of the property‘s value (i.e., what a home will likely sell for on the open market). In most cases, an appraisal is done for a bank when a home buyer is applying for a loan for the home. The home appraisal is a detailed report that looks at such items as the condition of the home, the neighborhood and what similar homes in that neighborhood are selling for. An appraisal is not a home inspection (see #7 below). Appraisers only look for major concerns; they do not examine the home’s full condition (i.e., examine the roof, appliances, etc.). An appraisal also differs from a Broker’s Price Opinion (BPO) or Competitive Market Analysis (CMA), which provide an estimate of a home’s value by making comparisons to similar properties in the area and what they were listed and sold for.  This is usually done for free by the prospective listing agent.  To learn more about appraisals, visit the consumers section of 
  1. Commission:  Commission is the compensation or fee that a real estate agent charges for performing the agreed-upon terms under a brokerage contract.  The commission due for a real estate transaction is negotiable and usually paid from the seller’s funds at closing.  The fee is typically calculated as a percentage of the total sales price and commissions vary from market to market.  Commission is shared between the listing agent and the agent who represents the buyer, but the division is not always a 50/50 split. [Also, agents split their commissions with their brokers.] 
  1. Closing: Closing, or settlement as it sometimes referred to, is the final step in completing a real estate transaction.  The closing date, set during the negotiation phase, usually takes place several weeks after an offer is formally accepted. At this time, ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer and any costs incurred by either the buyer or the seller beyond the price of the property itself are paid.  These additional expenses are known as closing costs and might include recording fees, attorney fees, title insurance premium, etc. Closing typically takes three weeks to 45 days depending on variables such as delays in obtaining documents, clearing title defects, inspection repairs, etc.   
  1. Existing Home Sales: Existing home sales is an economic indicator of both the number and prices of single-family homes, condos and co-op sales over a one-month period – this figure does not include new construction.  Each month, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases statistics on sales and prices of existing single-family homes for the nation and four regions. The existing home sales report, which includes footnotes on how the numbers are derived, is available at 
  1. Home Appreciation: Home appreciation is the increase in value of a property over a period of time.  Short-term increases or decreases in value are triggered by factors such as employment rates, interest rates, housing supply, demand, affordability, crime rate, quality of schools in the area and proximity to a city.  Additional factors such as upgrading a home can also result in home appreciation.  What a home is worth depends on these elements, as they directly impact what a buyer is willing to pay for a particular property.While real estate moves in cycles and home values fluctuate regularly, real estate has consistently appreciated over the long term.
  1. Home Equity: Home equity is the value of ownership in a home that represents the current market value of the house — minus any remaining mortgage payments. This growing value is contingent on the property owner paying off the mortgage and the market value of the property appreciating.  When a home is purchased, every dollar put towards the down payment is immediately transferred to the equity in the home.  This is one of the many reasons why saving for a down payment is so important – a significant down payment helps homeowners build equity more quickly.   For example, a home buyer who puts nothing down needs a year of 20 percent appreciation to have as much equity in his property as a buyer who put 20 percent down in a stable market. 
  1. Home Inspection:  Home inspectionis a visual inspection of the structure and components of a home by a qualified professional to find items that are not performing correctly or items that are unsafe. A home inspector’s report will review things, such as the condition of the home’s heating and cooling systems, interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement, and visible structure. While the inspection is not meant to be a tool for re-negotiations, many times it becomes one.  Homebuyers should be sure to make a list of items they think should be addressed and present them to their real estate agent in a timely manner.  Often times, the seller will agree to have the problems repaired before closing or accept a new offer that deducts the cost of repairs.
  1. Housing Market: The housing market refers to the supply and demand for houses in a particular country or region.  Factors that affect the housing market include interest rates, the mortgage industry, economic growth, incomes, unemployment rates and population demographic trends.  More specific definitions of “market” include:
  • Buyer’s Market: A buyer’s market occurs when there is a larger inventory of homes available.  In some cases, home appreciation has slowed in the short term, which means that homebuyers have the opportunity to purchase a home at lower prices.
  • Seller’s Market: A seller’s market occurs when demand of for homes is great. In a seller’s market, potential sellers have the opportunity to sell their home at a higher price than in the past due to a limited amount of properties available and a large number of potential buyers demanding them at current prices.  Sellers and home owners are also likely to experience higher appreciation in a seller’s market.
  • Time on Market: The length of time in which a home is listed for sale is known as “time on market.”  On many MLS listing sheets, this is also noted as D.O.M. – Days On Market.
  1. Inventory: Housing inventory is the number of existing homes available for sale each month.  The most closely watched housing inventory measure is a months’ supply, which measures the latest housing supply in relation to housing demand.  A decrease in homes for sale is a sign that the housing market is on its way to recovery, while a large supply of homes still available gives potential buyers more options in choosing the home that best fits their specific needs and wants.
  1. Real Estate Agent:  A real estate agent is a professionally trained and licensed real estate expert who is involved in real estate sales and transactions. Though it is not required to hire an agent when buying or selling a property, the tasks an agent performs can be extremely complex and time-consuming. Therefore, it is in a consumer’s best interest to work with a seasoned real estate professional who can offer invaluable expertise and assistance, as well as insight into the local real estate market and neighborhoods of interest.    
  • A Seller’s Agent: An agent who is hired to sell a home is responsible for marketing the home to potential buyers as well as other agents who are working with buyers. The seller’s agent ensures that the property is in proper viewing order and that he/she is familiar with everything about the property.  Some specific responsibilities include:

o   Assisting the seller in pricing the property appropriately

o   Suggesting any necessary repairs to be taken care of prior to listing

o   Exposing the property to a maximum number of buyers; arranging showings and providing feedback from prospective buyers

o   Explaining all the contingencies, helping the seller to remain objective and make informed decisions based on current trends, market data, and individual needs

o   Presenting and negotiating offers on the seller’s behalf

o   Following through on the contingencies all the way to closing (e.g. making sure that the mortgage loan is applied for and granted within a certain timeframe, the home inspection is done according to schedule, and any necessary repairs are made prior to closing). 

  • A Buyer’s Agent: An agent representing a buyer will need to focus on what the buyer’s needs are, establish what amenities the buyer is looking for, what geographical area(s) are being considered, how prepared the potential buyer is to buy and how much he/she is willing to spend. A buyer’s agent must also have a firm grasp of the surrounding area’s real estate market so that he/she can recommend alternative properties to the buyer. Once the home buying process begins, a buyer’s agent will be responsible for the following:

o   Providing an honest analysis of each property, including both good and bad points

o   Preparing an offer to purchase the property with terms favorable to the buyer

o   Negotiating with the seller to obtain the property at the best price and terms for the buyer

o   Providing the buyer with an estimate of the costs involved in the transaction and assisting the buyer in contacting the professionals necessary to complete the purchase, including mortgage services, title insurance and escrow companies, and home inspectors

o   Monitoring performance of all others involved in the transaction to make sure all services are promptly and professionally carried out

o   Accompanying the buyer to the closing to verify that all terms and conditions of the purchase agreement are met


While moving to a new home is very exciting, relocating can be a stressful process for every member of the family – including pets.  More often than not, a move means that all familiarity is gone.  From where to hide a bone to where to nap in the sun, the pet’s sense of security and comfort has suddenly been altered.

Below are five suggestions from The Mash Team and for how to make moving a little less ruff for four-legged members of the family.

Plan ahead. From start to finish, moving to a new home involves a lot of planning. Pet parents should decide as soon as possible where their pet’s belongings – toys, water dishes, etc., — will go in the new home.  If the pet’s only car ride has been to the veterinarian, pet parents should get him or her accustomed to traveling by bringing them along on visits to the future home, as well as to other places with a more positive association, like a dog park or pet store. 

Take them on a walk-through to get them acclimated. For home buyers with pets in tow, it is important to help their companions become acclimated to their new life early on. During a visit to the future home, pet parents should take their four-legged friend on a personal tour, showing them their new play area and “bathroom.”  By scoping out all of the new scents and sights the pet will start to acquaint itself with their new digs.  Cats may feel more comfortable exploring one room at a time so start in the bathroom, a smaller space, and let them take their time coming out of the carrier to explore. 

Get new pet tags. With doors opening and closing and people entering and exiting, pets will likely have more opportunities to get loose during a move than they did while living in the previous home.  As soon as the contract is signed, home buyers should purchase a new tag with their pet’s name, new address and phone number.  If the pet has a microchip, pet parents should also contact the company and have their pet’s ID information updated in their database. If a pet escaped during the move, it would be very difficult for them to find their way back to a home they barely know. 

Be extra security conscious. The first few days in a new home can spook even the most laid-back pet. Pet parents should make sure their pet’s collar fits securely and, unless the backyard at the new home is securely fenced in, keep their pet on a leash when heading outdoors.   Also, take a full inspection of the house looking for openings a pet can crawl into or other safety hazards before letting the animal explore. Once they are off their leash or out of their carrier, be sure to keep a close eye on them.

Continue with business as usual.  After moving into the new home, pet parents should try to stick to their pet’s daily routine as closely as possible by feeding them, playing with them and walking them at the same times they did while living in the previous home. Such consistency will enable pets to get used to their new life more quickly.

*These tips were adapted from a chapter in The Adopted Dog Bible, written by Kim Saunders, vice president of shelter outreach for, the largest online database of adoptable pets.





HOW TO MAKE Moving to a new home Fun For THE ENTIRE FAMILY

Moving to a new home can be a stressful experience for anyone.  From the moment the house hunt begins to the day one steps foot into a new abode, relocating can be an intense process – especially when children are involved.  More often than not, the home serves as a special source of security and comfort for children, so it’s no wonder why many families have concerns about leaving their familiar surroundings.  After all, kids tend to be reluctant to change their clothes let alone their addresses, schools and friends!

Talking to kids before a move can help get them ready both emotionally and physically. Parents who communicate with their children that moving is an exciting adventure rather than something frightening or dreadful are likely to reduce some of the stress and help make moving more enjoyable for everyone.   Most children adjust quickly to a move, especially when parents take the time to talk to their kids about the process and plan activities in advance.  “The most important thing is for parents to have a good attitude.  Everything is not expected to be perfect but if parents stay positive and enthusiastic about moving, the kids will feel better about it too.”

Below are six suggestions from The Mash Team for how to make moving fun for the entire family: 

  • Explore the neighborhood.  Between the time you close on a new home and the time the moving truck arrives, spend a “family day” touring the new neighborhood.  This will take some of the “mystery” out of the move.  Pointing out local attractions and introducing children to their new neighbors and school will help get them excited about their new surroundings and reassure them that they will be able to make friends after the move. 

If it is not possible to go to your new neighborhood, try to compile as much information about the local community as possible.  Online tools such as Coldwell Banker On Location can offer consumers a wealth of information.  Also ask your Mash Team Representative for photographs of the new home and local area so that you can share them with your child.  

  • Make a family wish list.  One of the best ways to acclimate your child to change is to emphasize the positive opportunities they’ll be presented with once the family makes the adjustment.  Write a list of all of the things your child wants to do once the family is settled in the new home.  By encouraging your child to get involved with extracurricular activities that align with existing interests, you’ll not only keep them busy but help them to feel more at home in their new surroundings.  Activities such a as sports, gymnastics, theater and art classes will also be a great way for your kids to make new friends. 
  • Pack a treasure box.  It’s no secret that children can become very attached to their belongings.  That’s why The Mash Team suggests giving your child his / her own packing box to decorate however they would like and to pack up their favorite things.  Keep the box close by throughout the move.  This way your child can be sure those precious items will not be left behind.
  • Let loose your child’s creativity.  Kids will appreciate being involved in decorating their new house – especially when it comes to their own room!  Bring home paint swatches so that your child can choose a color for the walls.  Then follow up with a special day where he / she can shop for a new comforter, furniture, etc.  Being reasonable with his / her selection and allowing your child to be creative will help make the transition smoother – after all, it’s only paint!
  • Help your kids create an address book.  Staying in touch with friends has never been easier.  Help your child collect phone numbers, mailing and email addresses for everyone they would like to keep in touch with.  Then show him / her how easy it is to send an email.  People are using the Internet  more and more to ‘speak’ with each other anytime and from anywhere with just the click of a button.  By showing your child how simple it can be to keep in touch with old friends, they are sure to feel more at ease about the move.
  • Pre-plan a housewarming party with friends from the old neighborhood. Saying goodbye to friends can be difficult for parents and their children.  Before the big moving day arrives, plan a gathering at your new home with pals from the old neighborhood.  Having a date set in advance will help your child to see that just because the family is leaving behind a particular home, does not mean they are leaving behind friends.

To Buy Or To Rent?

The Mash Team OFFERS FOUR QUESTIONS to Consider When Deciding whether to BUY or RENT A HOME

“To buy or to rent?” Recent graduates, young couples, relocating professionals and others have all asked themselves this question at one point or another. While each option has its benefits, the decision to purchase an apartment, condominium or house as opposed to renting, is complex and based on a number of factors. The question that remains is whether or not now is the right time to purchase a home for you.

For most people, deciding to purchase a home is the largest financial decision of their lifetime. Before making the jump into homeownership, potential home buyers should consider the “soft” lifestyle issues as well as the “hard” financial ones. The professionals at Coldwell Banker (DBA) have provided the following four financial and lifestyle questions to consider when determining if buying a home is the right decision for you:

  1. Do you have a steady income? At or near the top of every potential homebuyer’s mind is whether or not they can afford to buy a home right now. Buying a home remains a sound financial decision for those with documented income and a good credit history, and a steady income can provide a strong backbone for the initial down payment and future mortgage payments. The “Affordability Radar” tool on is a great way to begin this planning and assess “how much home you can afford.  Don’t hesitate to speak with a real estate professional even before you’re ready to buy a home. Along with a financial planner, a real estate professional can help you answer and uncover questions about the cost of home ownership.
  1. Do you plan to stay in a home for an extended period of time? With proper planning, a home purchase has historically proven to be one of the strongest investments one can make. Along those lines, it’s imperative to understand that investing in a home is much different than investing in a stock portfolio. Homes typically appreciate in value over time while the owner builds his or her equity through monthly mortgage payments. If you anticipate staying in a home for only one or two years, it doesn’t necessarily mean buying is not for you, but you are less likely to see a significant financial return on your investment. 
  1. Do you plan to sell a house in order to buy a house? A local real estate professional can help you understand current local market conditions and will help you make smart decisions when listing a home on the market. If you do not currently own a home that needs to be sold prior to purchasing a new one, now is a particularly smart time to buy. Even with lenders becoming increasingly more thorough in their approval process, mortgage financing is still widely available for those with a steady income and solid credit. High inventories and low interest rates give first-time home buyers a tremendous amount of opportunity and flexibility in markets across the Durham Region. 
  1. How do your other options compare? For renters, calculating month-to-month housing expenses is as easy as inquiring about the monthly rent and average utilities. The calculation gets a bit more complicated when considering the monthly cost of owning a home. A real estate professional can help you understand a range of financial considerations from annual property taxes to the tax incentives for owning a home.

There is no one right decision when it comes to renting versus buying a home,  Each individual should take the time to look at their personal and financial situation to decide what will work best for their needs and lifestyle.


Single in the City: Tips for Single Home Buyers

Today’s housing environment has more single home buyers entering the real estate market than ever before. With inventory levels low, interest rates near record lows and affordability up in many areas across the country, many people who may have never considered buying a home in the past are recognizing that a mortgage payment on a house can actually be the same or less than what they would spend on renting an apartment or home.

For most people, buying a home is the most significant financial investment they will ever make, and perhaps even more so for singles who are making the transition on their own. With that in mind,  The Mash Team has come up with five tips to help single home buyers navigate the home buying process:

Keep an eye on the future. A family of one is much more likely to upsize rather than downsize. Some day someone who is single may add a significant other to their family and possibly even children. Though additional space may not be needed immediately, it’s important to consider potential future plans for a home.  Keep in mind that there is no such thing as the “perfect” house. Instead, determine what is essential – number of bedrooms, approximate square footage, neighbourhood, etc.  And when you do move up, your first home can provide you with equity to purchase your next home or it can be kept as an investment.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage. A pre-approval will let single home buyers know where they stand financially while informing the mortgage company that they are ready to buy. Additionally, this step will demonstrate to everyone involved in the purchase that the home buyer is serious and well qualified.

Location, location, location. The golden rule of real estate applies to single home buyers as well. Factors such as proximity to work, family and nightlife often play a role in the decision of where to purchase a home. Speaking with The Mash Team agents can help narrow the search to find the location that best suits a home buyer’s needs and lifestyle. 

Plan ahead for maintenance fees. Owning a home is a rewarding experience. However, being the only person with a set of house keys also means being the only person responsible for maintenance. A leaky faucet and unkempt lawn won’t take care of themselves, so be sure to include future repairs and maintenance in the budget. Also keep in mind that certain properties such as condominiums and townhomes require less exterior maintenance and might be a good option for those single home buyers who find the idea of maintaining a yard a bit daunting.

Consider resale value and longevity. Purchasing a home is a great long-term investment. However, there are many reasons single home buyers may need to move, such as relocating for a job or a lifestyle change. Therefore, it is important to think about the length of time that the home will be owned and also consider the resale value of prospective properties during the search. A local real estate agent can share the average home price of properties in the area, how long each property has been on the market and what features increase a home’s value and appeal.



A trusted real estate agent provides experienced counsel, guidance and unparalleled local expertise – all essential ingredients for anyone on the hunt for a home.  But for first-time home buyers, the first step can be one of the most intimidating.

To help first-time home buyers, The Mash Team has provided the following tips to identifying the right real estate professional:

  1. Ask around: Friends and family can be the first source of helpful information.  Referrals are the leading source of finding an agent.  If your new to the area or don’t have references, you should feel free to contact the manager of your local Coldwell Banker R.M.R. Real Estate office.  Once you explain your situation and needs, the manager should be able to suggest a few names.
  1. Questions for potential candidates: As you meet potential agents, you should feel empowered to determine if the agent’s personality and skills are a good match.  Some of the key questions that might help you make a decision include:

o   What is your experience in the Durham Region?

o   What is the average price point of homes that you help people buy and sell?

o   Could I provide me with some of your past or current clients references?

o   Tell me about the brokerage firm where your work?  How long has it been around? 

  1. Examine their online presence: Many real estate professionals are especially savvy when it comes to marketing themselves online.  They list their areas of specialty.  Some post tours of their local areas, demonstrating their expertise.  If the person is highly-visible and socially active online, it is also a good indicator that he or she is connected to the right tools and technology that come in handy for home buyers. Don’t be afraid to inquire about their experience using video when it comes to real estate.  Cutting edge agents can point you toward video tours, community videos and more to give you a real life sense of the areas you are considering.  Buyers can also go right to or to find a local office and look at profiles for the professionals who work there. 
  1. Go with your gut: After consulting with friends and family, doing research and looking online, the buyer’s instinct is often right on.  He or she will have a good “gut” feeling as to whether a person will be a good fit for the house-hunting process.

Five Tips to Create a HOME Wish List that works

How to identify the “Must-Haves” Vs. “nice-to-haves” for a first home

 CITY,  ProvinceWhen dreaming of a first home the options are endless. From a backyard oasis with a patio and swimming pool, to a gourmet kitchen with the most up-to-date appliances, plenty of space to entertain friends or a gorgeous master bedroom suite, no first time home buyers wish list is the same. However, in reality, it is not always possible to find a first home with everything, so buyers must decide in advance what items are “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” on a first home wish list.

To help first-time home buyers, The Mash Team have provided the following five tips to help determine what they will need vs. what is nice to have in a first home.

  1. Know your budget: The first step to creating a list of “must-haves” is to be realistic about what is affordable and determine a budget.  Buyers should enlist a local real estate agent to help with the home search. An agent with years of expertise understands the local market and can help buyers find comparable home prices and determine what is affordable in their budget.
  1. Find that perfect “location, location, location”: Everyone has heard this phrase before when it comes to real estate, and while the surrounding neighborhood and home itself may improve over time, the physical location will remain the same. Buyers should determine in advance how close they would like to live to their work, schools or extended family. A short commute to work, proximity to family or having easy access to highways and mass transit are often “must-haves.” The location will also determine some home amenities that are possible or difficult to have within the buyer’s budget. For example, if a buyer has to live close to work in a big city, they may have to cross a garage or outdoor space from their wish list. 
  1. Determine non-negotiable accommodations: A comfortable place for everyone in the family is always a “must have.” For a family of four, three bedrooms may be non-negotiable.  For a family with grandparents living at home, an extra bedroom on the first floor may also be non-negotiable.  After determining the budget and neighborhood, the most important factor is that everyone living in the home has a comfortable place to stay. 
  1. Pick a lifestyle fit: After fulfilling the most important needs, buyers should find out what features of a home will best fit their lifestyle.  For example, buyers who love to cook and entertain may want a home with a gourmet kitchen and decide to give up the large master bedroom.  Or, buyers who love to spend time outdoors may compromise a large family room for a big backyard. 
  1. Have a vision:  When looking at a first home, buyers should avoid getting distracted by decorations, paint or flooring that may not fit their taste.  Items such as paint color or carpeting are easy to fix and always worth compromising on.  If everything else about a home fits the wish list, a new coat of paint and a little redecorating are easy finishing touches on a dream home.






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