Get your house ready to sell

Now that September’s here and the kids are back to school and out from underfoot, it’s a great time to start getting your home ready for a future sale. Whether you’re thinking of getting in on the active spring market, or even putting it on the market later next year, there are many things that can be done now to help you earn top dollar for your home when the time comes. Here are some inexpensive but effective ideas that are perfect for fall weather:

  • Plant bulbs this fall: You can maximize your curb appeal next spring by planting bulbs in fall. Daffodils, Hyacinth and Crocus planted close together will provide a dramatic burst of colour. Avoid flowers with a short blooming window, such as iris or bulbs that will bloom later in the summer such as Day Lilly or Dahlia.
  • Hold a Garage Sale: Take advantage of the weather while it’s still warm and foot traffic is at it’s best. Be ruthless and put out anything that you don’t want to pack to take into your next home. Remember, buyers are looking for spacious interiors, so that clutter could be costing you money!
  • Complete any exterior painting: You’ll be too busy with other priorities next spring to take on this time-consuming task. Why not ease your stress by tackling it now? There’s also the added bonus that there are fewer bugs around right now to annoy you and complicate the painting process.
  • Use landscaping to improve a view: Do you want to screen the view of your neighbour’s property? Fall is an ideal time to plant evergreen trees, or transplant shrubs that have entered their dormant phase. Remember to prune and trim those trees and shrubs that are obscuring your windows.
  • Organize your garage: Buyers will want to see space, not all your stuff. It’s hard to visualize a nice car or two being parked in the midst of clutter. Invest in some shelving, wall racks, or even cupboards and get organized!

Some work now can really reduce your stress later, when you’re ready to put your home on the market. With these tasks out of the way, you’re ready to move to indoor tasks over the winter. If you’re wondering what’s worth doing, contact your Coldwell Banker real estate professional and get the benefit of their expert advice. There’s no obligation to you and you’ll learn how to maximize your time and your dollar investment to get a great return when sale time comes around. Who knows? By the time the kids are finished this school year next June, you could already have sold and be moving into your next home!

Home Safe Home

The New Year is a time for changes and fresh starts. So why not start the year off right by making some changes within your home to keep it safe. With just a few very affordable adjustments, you can make your home a safer haven for you and your loved ones.

A good place to start is by ensuring you have working smoke detectors installed throughout your house. The current standard calls for at least one on every floor of your house and additional units in enclosed areas with open flames or heat sources are also recommended. Make sure you test each detector to ensure the unit is functioning properly and the alarm can easily be heard in surrounding areas. You should also consider installing carbon monoxide detectors, particularly in the furnace area of your home. If your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors are battery-powered versus hard-wired, be sure to replace the batteries regularly. A simple way to do this is by timing your replacement with a regular event, such as twice a year when daylight savings time starts and stops.

Another home safety tactic that is cost free is to make an escape plan with your family. Draw up a plan that sets out the preferred exits to take in case of fire. Make sure it identifies alternative exits if the usual path to the outside is blocked. Each family member should know every exit that is available from every room of the house. Finally, you and your family should have a rehearsal of different exit routes. You should also agree on a pre-determined meeting place outside the home where all family members will meet should you ever need to flee your home. Make sure everyone, especially young children, understands they are to get to this pre-arranged site, and once they are out of the house, to stay out. Your local fire department will have other helpful advice on fire prevention and home safety. A visit to the local fire hall can be an enjoyable way to reinforce the fire safety plans you put in place at home.

In addition to installing carbon monoxide detectors, you should inspect your furnace every year to be sure it is running safely and efficiently. Your gas or oil providers will offer this service, as do other private heating contractors. In addition to the safety factor, you could also save on energy costs by keeping your heating system running efficiently. In fact, your energy savings may even cover the cost of the inspection and the peace of mind it delivers is priceless.

Perhaps you’ve considered a Home Security system, but have put it off due to the expense of installing or operating such a system. You may be surprised to learn that some home insurance companies will offer lower premiums if you have an approved security system in place. As well, there are other home security measures such as motion sensor lighting that are affordable and easy to install. If you’d like some expert advice on how various security measures may impact your home’s resale potential, contact your local Coldwell Banker professional.

Inspect your rental property often

If you’re one of the thousands of Canadians who either already own or are thinking of buying a rental property, then you know that having a great tenant is half the battle. Taking the time to check out references and screening your prospective tenant before signing a lease is a good first step. However, there are other safeguards you can take to help ensure that your rental property operates profitably and gives you a good return on your investment.

One of the most important things that you can do as a landlord is to inspect the property on a regular basis. It shows the tenant that you are an interested and involved landlord, and that should be well received by most responsible renters. Different provinces have different rules for property inspections, so make sure you check out your local guidelines on your provincial website, or ask your real estate lawyer about the requirements. Make sure that you give the appropriate notice – usually required in writing – of when you will be visiting the property. Do it as often as you can during the first six to nine months, say monthly if possible. You might also make it a habit to drop by in person to pick up the rent cheque for the first several months. What’s more, you should let the prospective know about your plans to visit the property regularly before the lease agreement is signed. If there are any undesirables looking to use your property for illicit purposes, this will discourage them from choosing your property. There are more than a few property owners out there who were once happy to simply receive a rent cheque in the mail every month, only to learn that their house had been used as a grow op and was significantly damaged to the tune of several thousands of dollars.

You can also help to discourage problems by cultivating good relations with the neighbours of your rental property. Introduce yourself as the property owner and if they seem to be reasonable people, you might consider giving them a business telephone number where they can reach you if they see any activity that may affect the value or condition of the property. They may even be a good source for prospective tenants if they have friends or family interested in living nearby.

For more tips on how to make the most out of your income property investment, contact your Coldwell Banker real estate professional.

A low mileage strategy for homebuying 

Few experiences can equal the sense of satisfaction that comes from buying that one special home that’s just right for you and your family.  However, it can sometimes be a long journey before you get to that happy ending.  And with today’s spiraling gas prices, it can also be an expensive proposition if you don’t do some of the groundwork upfront.  Why not save yourself the cost of driving around and use online resources first? It’s an easy way to save time and money.

These days, the average Canadian homebuyer starts their property search on the internet.  Thanks to technology, today’s homebuyer can save on mileage by conducting online searches to find listings that match their own unique criteria.  Then, they can view properties of interest via virtual tours or slide shows and even commentary before coming up with a ‘short list’ for personal viewings. But buyer beware, all real estate websites are not the same.  By choosing the right website for your home search and by using helpful online tools to streamline the house-hunting process, you can cut your mileage to a fraction of what it would take just a few years ago.

The award-winning Coldwell Banker® website at offers Canadian homebuyers one of the most interactive and user-friendly real estate sites available anywhere.  In addition to thousands of Coldwell Banker listings and Open Houses across the country, you can customize your search with our exclusive property search engine Personal Retriever®.  You simply enter your “wish list” of what you’re looking for in your dream home – location, price range, features, and much more – and then Personal Retriever reviews your list against thousands of listings and emails you every time there’s a match.  Since Personal Retriever constantly monitors our listings database, you don’t have to keep checking to see if there are any new listings you might have missed.

Perhaps you know the type of house you want to buy, but you’re uncertain about what city, town or neighbourhood is right for you.  Our real estate website offers comprehensive information about your neighbourhood of choice through an innovative service called Community Profiles™.   With just the click of a mouse, you can review and compare the features of several communities across Canada.

After you’ve gathered all your online information, you’ll need the services of an expert advisor to help you interpret the data, analyze the market and develop a negotiating strategy that will get you the results you’re after.  When you’re ready to talk to a real estate sales professional, can help there too, with quick and easy search functions to help you find the most convenient office and the right salesperson for you.  Coldwell Banker will be there every step of the way, to help you make your dreams of home ownership come true.

A building permit is in your best interest

A home improvement boom is in full swing in Canada and homeowners are investing more money in renovations than ever before. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself task or a major professional project, more of today’s homeowners are investing time and money to make their residences more functional and more comfortable. One of the requirements of your home improvement project may be acquiring a building permit. Although considered by many to be an added inconvenience and expense, building permits are actually important safeguards that help ensure you get sound workmanship and good value for your money.

You should check with the local authorities in your township or municipality prior to beginning work to see if a permit is required. Applying for a building permit ensures that your project conforms to local building codes and other regulations. Your project will be inspected by a qualified building inspector to confirm that the project follows the plans submitted for the permit. The inspector also ensures that appropriate materials and construction methods have been used for the safe usage of your project. For example, if the beams on your raised deck won’t support the maximum weight or the wiring is inadequate to safely run the lighting system you’d planned, the inspector will point this out and then return to verify that the appropriate remedies have been made before approving your project.

These measures are all to your benefit. After all, who wants to find out after you’ve already built a new deck that’s it’s too close to your neighbour’s property? In such a case, they could require you to remove the offending structure at your own expense. As for ensuring that your project used the correct construction materials and conforms to safety standards, the benefits are obvious.

Even if you’re working with a professional contractor, it’s to your benefit to ensure that a permit is obtained, so your contractor’s work will be scrutinized by a ‘pro’. Building permits are always required if you’re making any structural changes to your home, are building an addition onto an existing structure or adding a new improvement to your property. While regulations vary within municipalities, other types of projects may also require permits, particularly if electrical work is required. Some less than professional contractors may encourage you to initiate work without bothering with a permit. Be warned! This will simply allow your contractor to do substandard work without any unbiased party there to ensure that the job has been done to code. If the contractor implies the job will be cheaper without the permit, you should ask yourself why that is so.

Don’t proceed under the misguided assumption that if you do the work yourself, a building permit isn’t necessary. Not so! You’re responsible for ensuring that any home improvements conform to local regulations. That means you’re also liable for any costs that may be incurred to correct a problem, either during or after construction. If you’re in doubt, contact your local authorities before you start.

First time buyers want ‘turnkey’ ready homes, not ‘fixer uppers’

As a home seller, you may be thinking that a ‘fixer-upper’ property would appeal to most first time buyers trying to put their first step on the property ladder.  However, according to the results of a recent Coldwell Banker® survey on the preferences of first-time buyers, you’d better think again!

Coldwell Banker recently conducted a survey of real estate brokers and sales professionals across Canada and the U.S. to determine the preferences of first time buyers.  The survey findings clearly show that First Time Buyers want a ‘turn key’ property where they can simply move in and start to enjoy living in their new home.  These individuals have typically put the majority of their financial power into the down payment.  They don’t have large reserves of cash available to start putting more money back into the property on major upgrades and renovations.

In addition, first time buyers are typically just starting out in their career and –especially in the case of single buyers — have little free time available for house repairs.  Bottom line?  The less there is to do on your property in the way of repairs or updates, the more appealing it’s going to be to those buyers.  In most cases, it’s well worth the investment to do the necessary repairs and finishing before putting your home on the market.

Of course, if you’d like to discuss how any planned repair, upgrade or renovation may affect the potential resale value of your home, your first step should be contacting your local Coldwell Banker® sales representative.  They’re just a phone call away and always ready to talk real estate!

A ‘Don’t’ List for Prospective Homebuyers

There’s a lot to consider when buying a home, and especially in today’s changing market conditions.  As your local Coldwell Banker® sales professional will tell you, many markets across Canada are beginning to moderate and become more favourable to buyers.  So while you’re considering a possible home purchase, here’s a Homebuyer “Don’t” list that may help you avoid some common mistakes:

The “DON’T” List for Prospective Homebuyers:

DON’T fall in love with the first house or neighbourhood you see. That grand colonial with the picturesque view may win your heart at first glance, but you need to keep an open mind to make sure you find the right fit for all your needs. At the end of your search, it may turn out that the riverfront ranch that’s closer for your commute is a better bet all-around.

  • DON’T buy beyond what you can afford. It’s easy to fall into that all-you-can-eat attitude, especially when it comes to your first home purchase. You “want it all” when it comes to size, amenities, location, etc. But remember that your eyes may have a larger appetite than your wallet. Make sure the down payment, closing costs, monthly expenses and taxes are truly within your income and savings range before you sign an offer.
  • DON’T treat your home the way you treat your stock portfolio. It’s unrealistic and unwise to expect your housing investment to appreciate as quickly as you’d hope for your high-risk bonds. Buying for lifestyle, and remembering that real estate is a great long-term investment, will help you look at home purchasing and ownership in the right context.
  • DON’T jump into a confusing mortgage.  Be sure to read carefully through every aspect of the proposed agreements to fully understand your end of the bargain. For instance, an attractive rate now may be difficult to carry if rates change during the term of your mortgage. Arm yourself with information and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • DON’T underestimate the value of your local Coldwell Banker real estate professional. While being a savvy buyer and doing your homework will help on the road to homeownership, a local expert with years of negotiating experience is invaluable when it comes to scouting out the perfect home – and closing the deal.

If you’d like to know more about our Homebuyer “Do” and “Don’t” lists, or if you have any questions about the market or the home buying process, then just pick up the phone and contact your local Coldwell Banker real estate professional.  It might just be the best call you’ll ever make!

Canadian Real Estate forecast stays positive through 2015.

Canadian home buyers and sellers can look forward to a continuing strong market, according to a national forecast.  In March 2014, The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) updated its MLS® forecast to the end of 2014, and extended its positive outlook to 2015.

According to CREA, national resale activity started 2014 at lower levels, compared to previous years.  This reflects payback for stronger activity last summer and fall when buyers with pre-approved mortgages rushed to purchase before their lower pre-approved rates expired. It also likely reflects slower activity due to an exceptionally tough winter in most parts of the country.

Since there may be some pent-up demand, and with mortgage rates having edged lower, CREA’s outlook calls for home sales to trend higher heading into the spring, and be further supported over the second half of 2014 by a widely anticipated pick-up in Canadian economic growth.

  • Sales are forecast to reach 463,700 units in 2014, representing an increase of 1.3% over 2013. This would national activity to within fairly short reach of the 450,000 mark for the seventh straight year
  • In 2015, national activity is forecast to edge up a further 1.2% to 469,400 units.
  • The national average home price is forecast to rise by 3.8% to $397,000 in 2014
  • Similar sized gains are forecast in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. Modest changes in average prices are forecast for all other provinces this year.
  • The national average price is forecast to rise a further 1.1% in 2015 to $401,400.

Of course, this is just the ‘big picture’ based on national trends.  Real estate sales activity and pricing can vary significantly between different markets, within communities, and even from street to street. To get more detailed insights on your local market, contact your local Coldwell Banker sales professional, and let’s talk real estate!

Durham Region February 2014 Stats

DURHAM REGION, March 5, 2014 – Jane Hurst, President of Durham Region Association of REALTORS® (DRAR) announced that the Region had 639 residential home sales reported in February 2014, a 32 per cent increase from 484 in January of this year.

The average selling price in February was $372,878, up 5.6 per cent compared to the average price of $353,114 reported in February 2013. Average sale prices did fall slightly from $395,909 last month but “fluctuations in sale prices are expected and real estate in the Durham Region remains a good investment as average selling prices are still strong,” explained President Hurst.
The inventory of re-sale homes on the market increased significantly in February. DRAR saw 1,073 new listings enter the market, an increase of 24.9 per cent compared to 859 last month. “Even with inclement weather, we have seen an increase in homes entering the market, and they are being sold in an average of 23 days,” President Hurst reported. At this time last year, it took an average of 25 days to sell a home, while last month it took an average of 30 days. “Despite below freezing temperatures, the housing market is beginning to thaw with the spring market fast approaching” added President Hurst.

Durham Region March 2014 Stats

DURHAM REGION, April 3, 2014 – Jane Hurst, President of Durham Region Association of REALTORS® (DRAR) announced that the Region had 947 residential home sales reported in March 2014, a 48 per cent increase from 639 in February of this year. “Sales growth was much stronger in March than it was in the first two months of 2014,” added President Hurst “and we are right on par with where we were last year”.
The average selling price in March was $380,267, up 9.6 per cent compared to the average price of $347,055 reported in March 2013. DRAR saw 1,553 new listings enter the market, an increase of 44.7 per cent compared to 1073 last month. “Along with higher selling prices, overall inventory at the end of March was up almost 3 per cent compared to this time last year” explained President Hurst.
Resale homes in Durham are being sold in an average of 18 days, while it took an average of 21 days this time last year. “The spring market is warming up and not only are we seeing average selling prices rise, but homes are selling faster than they were in comparison to last year” explained President Hurst. “Real estate in the Durham Region has remained a great investment opportunity, and we expect selling prices to maintain their strength well into 2014”.

With You Every Step Of The Way

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