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 coldwellbanker.com 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.

 

TIPS ON HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT REAL ESTATE AGENT FOR YOU

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 TheMashTeam.ca or  coldwellbanker.com 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Reverse mortgages – what’s the scoop?

For many Canadians, the prospect of retirement holds more questions than it does answers. However, if you’re a homeowner, the equity you’ve built up in your property could provide the answer that helps turn your dreams of retirement into a pleasant reality. With a reverse mortgage, you can unlock the equity that’s present in your home and use it to generate an income to supplement your reduced earnings after retirement.

With a reverse mortgage, instead of paying the bank or lender, they pay you. The payment is based on a percentage of the amount of equity that’s present in the home. For example, if your home is valued at $300,000 and your mortgage is paid off, you have your home’s full value to work with. If you took out a reverse mortgage for 40% of your home’s value – in this case, $120,000 – this amount is then set up in a fund that pays you a stated amount, usually monthly. This regular payment – or annuity – can then be used toward your living expenses while you’re earning less money. There’s usually an age requirement – say 60 or 62 years of age to qualify, so you should ask your lender about this.

Eventually, your home equity is also used to discharge the loan. You don’t have to make loan repayments while you’re living in the property, since that would defeat the whole purpose of the loan. The reverse mortgage loan doesn’t come due for as long as you live in your home. You’re under no obligation to sell by any given time, but when you do, the reverse mortgage loan is paid in full from out of the proceeds of your home sale.

Wondering what your home is worth today? Your Coldwell Banker professional can help you determine your home’s worth in today’s market and how much equity you can expect to draw on. It’s all part of our full service philosophy. We want to be there to help with all your real estate needs and that goes far beyond the actual real estate transaction. Your local Coldwell Banker sales professional has developed trusted contacts in the financial sector and together they can offer you creative financing solutions to help you realize your goals. Whether you’re dreaming of early retirement, financing a higher education, renovating your home or even buying an income or vacation property, we can help. Why wait to make your dreams come true? Contact your Coldwell Banker professional for their expert advice, and start putting your home equity to work for you!

Seven home Staging tips for First-Time HOMEBUYERS

 

When it comes to staging a home for sale, it’s important that sellers create an inviting atmosphere that will appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. Today, due to historically low interest rates and government incentives such as raising the Home Buyer Plan maximum to $25,000, first-time buyers account for a substantial portion of Canada’s home buying prospects.  The good news is, sellers looking to attract this coveted demographic group don’t need to do a complete design overhaul. Staging a home for first-time homebuyers is easier than you may think.

Below are seven simple staging tips from Coldwell Banker 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 jumble of mixed uses can confuse and even deter first-time homebuyers.  Staging rooms with one purpose is vital. Keep in mind that these buyers are generally young couples with few or no children, so rooms should be presented as areas well equipped to meet their current needs. So turn those playrooms into dens, storage rooms into a home office or the second kids’ bedroom into a guest room.

 

  • Tackle the easy “do-it-yourself” projects. In a recent Coldwell Banker survey, 81 percent of brokers said today’s first-time home buyers consider move-in conditions to be very important when searching for homes. 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.

 

  • Be informed about current style trends:  Ask your local Coldwell Banker sales representative 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 colour.

 

  • Clear the room of family portraits. First-time homebuyers are looking for a home they can picture their family living in, not the previous owners. Coldwell Banker 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.

 

  • Don’t forget to spruce up the yard. First impressions often play a role in a consumer’s decision-making process. In fact, 21 percent of participants in a recent Coldwell Banker survey knew their home was the one for them before even walking inside. 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.

 

Professional home inspections protect home buyers

For most Canadians, buying a home is the single largest investment you’ll ever make, so you want to get good value for your money. That’s why more and more buyers today are turning to professional Home Inspection experts before they firm up their transaction. What was once a seldom-used option in residential real estate has moved into the mainstream, especially since house prices have escalated to record levels in recent years.

A professional Home Inspector takes a close and expert look beneath a home’s surface and then reports on their findings in a detailed written report for the prospective buyer. The report will advise on the condition of such things as the foundation, electrical service, roof, insulation and many other factors. If work needs to be done, either now or in the near future, the report identifies what work will likely be required and the approximate time period before the homeowner will have to incur the expense. If there are substantial costs involved to put things right, the buyer can take this into consideration before proceeding with the purchase. Your Coldwell Banker real estate professional can help you connect with an experienced and trusted Home Inspection service in your community.

Although costs will vary, you can probably expect to spend in the area of three hundred dollars for an inspection of a single family home. And who pays for it? Well, since the benefit of the home inspection is almost entirely for the buyer, it’s usually the buyer who pays the cost. All things considered, it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides and the negotiating power it can give you — especially if it indicates major repairs are required but you make an offer anyway.

When it comes to making your offer to purchase, your Coldwell Banker professional can advise you how to include a home inspection as a part of the home buying process. Subject to the homeowner’s permission to grant access to their home, you can arrange for a Home Inspection to be completed and reviewed by you before you finalize your offer to purchase. This is done by having your Coldwell Banker salesperson prepare an offer that’s conditional upon you receiving a Home Inspection report that’s acceptable to you. This type of general wording allows you to decide whether or not you want to proceed after reviewing the report.

Including a satisfactory Home Inspection as a condition of your offer to purchase has some distinct advantages : if your conditional offer is accepted, the property is temporarily held against other offers at your agreed price and terms, yet you still have a legal escape route if the report turns up some major negative surprises, such as a bad roof or a crumbling foundation. On the other hand, if the conditional offer isn’t accepted, then the need to pay for a home inspection never arises. Your Coldwell Banker professional can counsel you on the best approach to suit your market and your individual situation.

Real Estate is a cyclical business

Canadian homebuyers and sellers across the country have at least one thing in common, no matter where they’re located. Everyone wants to know where real estate sales and home values are headed and how to use that information to their best advantage. Well, if you’re one of those people, here are a few facts that you might want to consider as you make your decisions.

Real estate is – and always will be — a cyclical business and according to many industry experts, this year we can expect to see the beginnings of a new cycle. Very low interest rates have been in place for a few years now and this has already attracted many people out of the rental market. To a large extent, any pent-up demand for housing has now been satisfied as those renters wanting to step up into home ownership have already made their move. Further proof of this is the fact that rental vacancy rates are now on the rise in many urban centers across the country. Just a few years ago, it was very difficult to find good rental housing, but now it’s becoming commonplace to the see the ‘vacancy’ sign posted out front of apartment buildings. That’s a sign of a new cycle.

So what does it mean when the rental vacancy rate starts to rise and there are potentially fewer home buyers entering in the market? It usually means that you will start to see more inventory of homes for sale. It also means what has been a purely sellers market will start to cycle into a more buyer-friendly environment. That’s good news for buyers, because there’s more to choose from and perhaps even a little less competition for available listings. But if you’re a buyer, don’t be too confident of capitalizing on this shift. Smartly priced homes in desirable locations will continue to be snapped up quickly, and at a good price. As the cycle starts to swing from the frenzied, red hot market of recent times towards a more moderate market, home values are still projected to climb in the coming year, just at a more reasonable pace. One bit of good news for buyers is that this mature market cycle will probably see fewer multiple offer scenarios and the bidding wars that can characterize a sizzling sellers’ market.

A larger inventory of listings tends to extend the length of time a property is on the market before it sells. That may not come as good news to home sellers. However, while it may take your home a little longer to sell than in the height of the boom, the good news is that homes will continue to command good prices. In fact, most economic indicators predict further increases in average home values over last year’s record-breaking levels. Just be prepared to give it time!
Of course, these general predictions don’t take into effect the special conditions that will exist in your own local marketplace. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, why not call your Coldwell Banker real estate professional. There’s no cost or obligation and you could benefit from their expert advice.

Ten ways to attract Buyer interest

In today’s highly competitive real estate market, the key to selling your home is being able to attract buyers to your listing.  When you’re selling your home, it’s important to remember that you’re in competition with every other similarly priced listing in your area.  To win buyers, you need your home to stand out from all the rest.  Here’s a Top Ten list of things a seller can do to win buyer interest:

 Create ‘curb appeal’ — Buyers decide whether they like a property within the first few minutes of arrival.  Make a great first impression with well trimmed and cared for lawns and walkways.  A small investment in new lighting at your front door, an urn planter, a new mailbox or street numbers can all upgrade the look of your home and win big dividends.

  1. Give them a warm welcome – Make the most of those first few critical minutes as buyers enter your home.  A foyer or entranceway is typically one of the smallest areas of your house, so upgrading the flooring with hardwood or slate can be a very worthwhile and cost-effective investment.  Add a mirror to visually increase the space and clear out shoes and mats.
  2. Let there be light – Create a bright and cheerful atmosphere by opening the blinds and curtains and turn on all the lights for showings.  If you have a fireplace, have a fire burning if the weather’s not too warm.
  3. Show you care – Properties that aren’t well maintained send up ‘red flags’ to buyers that larger problems may be lurking beneath the surface.  Complete all those minor repairs jobs that you’ve been putting off.
  4. Create space – Buyers want a spacious interior, so do everything you can to create space, even if it means moving several items offsite while you’re showing. Send those extra chairs to Mom’s for now or rent a storage unit.
  5. Depersonalize – You need buyers to picture themselves living in the house, so pack everything that’s distinctly yours, including photos, awards, mementos and religious artifacts.  It’s your first step towards moving out.
  6. Appeal to all the senses – Some of the strongest emotional reactions are created by smell, not sight or sound.  Before showings, open windows to air out rooms, light scented candles, and put out a bowl of fresh lemons.  
  7. Upgrade for maximum impact and return – Kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms when selling a house, so they’re the areas where upgrades will likely get the best return on your investment.  Even simple changes like new faucets or a lighting fixture can have big impact.
  8. Present a neutral interior – A fresh coat of paint is always a good idea. Choose pale, neutral colors that won’t clash with a buyer’s furnishings.
  1. Let the professionals do their job – As your Coldwell Banker® real estate professional will tell you, one of the best ways you can help get your house sold is to leave home when showings are underway.  Buyers will be more inclined to linger and ask questions, and it gives your sales representative a chance to counter objections and offer solutions.

 Call usl to learn how to turn interest into offers!

With You Every Step Of The Way

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