So, are you ready to move?

You’ve sold your house and found your new home. You will soon realize that was the easy part.

Now comes the packing up and making all the arrangements for the move. If you are planning to use a moving company be sure to get at least a couple quotes. Make sure you are clear on what you want them to do, whether it is just moving your furniture and belongings or coming in and doing the complete pack and move. There is an entire range of services available so be sure to be selective when you are speaking with the mover.

Some other things to be sure to do are:

Arrange to have a final reading on all your utilities. Sometimes your lawyer will do this but be sure whose responsibility it is. You do not want to be paying for the new owners’ hydro! At the same time, be sure to set up your utilities at you new home.

Send a change of address to all your credit card companies, banks, friends, and anyone else you receive correspondence from.

Redirect your mail to your new address for 6 months to be sure to catch anyone you forgot

Check if your telephone number can be transferred to your new location

If you have school age children, be sure to confirm the school they are attending and confirm what transportation (if needed) is provided.

If you have pets, be sure to notify the licensing department of your move so they will be able to reunite you if your pet gets away in the move. Also, advise your veterinarian.

On the home front, if you haven’t already, now is the time to go through your belongings and dispose of anything you do not intend to move. There are many charities that would welcome the donation of household items and clothing that you no longer need or want.

If you are doing your own packing be sure to label the boxes clearly. This will help when it comes to unpacking, as hopefully the boxes, when unloaded will be placed in or near the room where they will be unpacked.

Once you have removed everything from your house, be sure to do the final trip through. Make sure nothing has been overlooked in the loading up. Also, take time to sweep up the house and leave it how you would like to find your new home. The new owners will appreciate your extra effort.

Through it all, try to remember why you are moving… It will help during those moments when you start wondering whose bright idea it was to move in the first place!

SHOULD YOU DO YOUR KITCHEN RENOVATIONS YOURSELF?

Here I am sitting on the dock at Ardagh Cottages on the shore of beautiful Lovesick Lake in the Kawartha Lakes in central Ontario. We always look forward to this vacation, but even more so this year as this was the summer we renovated our kitchen ourselves.

Let’s see, it all started last fall. We had a leak in our bath tub in the bathroom directly above our kitchen which resulted in me cutting a hole in the kitchen ceiling to find the source of the leak. Much to my dismay the leak was not located where I thought it would be but it was in the fawcet and could have been repaired without ripping open the kitchen ceiling.

The gaping hole in the ceiling, which was temporarily covered with a scrap piece of drywall and screwed on top of the existing ceiling, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When friends came over to visit they asked if this was a new decorating technique – Early Blitzkrieg!

So we decide it was time and after several months of planning and deciding on such things as flooring, backsplash, cabinets, and countertop it was time to start the renovations. I assured my wife it would only be two weeks from start to finish – my first big mistake!

The part of the ceiling where I had made the hole had to be ripped out. Unfortunately for me there was the old wood lath and plaster ceiling as well as the new plaster ceiling applied over it during the last kitchen reno. Then of course the floor joists for the second floor are not level and have to be shimmed, ecetera. Then the new drywall is installed and taped and sanded. No matter how well you seal a room that dust goes everywhere. Just another thing I told my wife wouldn’t happen.

We decided to go with the Ikea cabinets even though we had heard some horror stories about people installing them themselves. The sales staff at the store were very helpful and provided us with many helpful hints. My best advice to people who are installing their own Ikea cabinets – Do Not Doubt Mr. Ikea!! Just when you think they screwed up you follow the instructions to the letter and it will all work out. Now that they are installed we are very happy with the quality of the cabinets and how they function.

The only real frustrating moments we had were due to our house being almost 90 years old and the methods of construction were not quite the same as today so nothing is even close to being square. So there were some very challenging moments.

Yes we did the cabinets ourselves and I even installed the new dishwasher, but there are certain things you need to leave to the professionals. The new sub-floor and flooring was supplied and installed by Hamilton Carpet and Tile and they did a fantastic job. The counter tops were supplied and installed by We R Tops in Burlington. Andy did a great job with a very difficult installation (remember nothing is square) and was extremely clean while doing so.

I’ll leave you all with a few tips:

  • Take plenty of time to plan and then review
  • Order you materials to ensure you receive them on time – you don’t want to be holding up trades for a scheduled installation because of lack of material
  • Do only those things that you are capable of – everyone else’s job always looks easy – leave the rest for the pro’s
  • Always tell your wife it will be very messy and it will take 2 to 3 times longer than you think – if it is not as messy and you are done sooner you will be her HERO!

So, how long did it actually take? About five weeks and we still need to replace the light fixtures and have the backsplash installed. Would I do it again? Maybe, now that I have a better idea on how to make the process run a little smoother and keep my wife a little happier.

Good luck to all of you who are contemplating doing their own renovation and let us know how you make out.

My House is for Sale! Why isn’t it Sold?

A week can seem like a month when your house is for sale. I know, I’ve been there, and am getting ready to go there again.

You have spent time, and possibly money getting your house ready to sell, and may even have found another home you would like to buy. You have put your home on the market, expecting that buyers will be looking at your home, and making you an offer. You have heard that it’s a good market, so you are prepared to receive offers.

This period of time can be the most stressful you will experience. You are trying to keep your home picture perfect but at the same time live in the house. Your REALTOR® has asked you to be sure that for all showings your dishes are washed (or at least in the dishwasher) the beds are made, there is no laundry in sight, the floors are clean, and if you have a pet that they not be home… Sure, no problem. That’s what you want to do every day before you leave for work, or how you keep the house when you are home relaxing. Add to that, your REALTOR® wants to be able to call you with possibly a half hour notice for your home to be shown!

I have found a few things that can help alleviate some of the stress – unfortunately not all. Here are some ideas.
Talk to the family and make sure everyone is on the same page about keeping things put away
Determine who is responsible for what. Who makes sure dishes are done, who makes the beds, etc
Create a short list of the things that MUST be done everyday before you leave the house in preparation for a showing request
Get everyone to agree to not get anything out that they can’t put away on a moments notice

Even more important is to keep in mind that regardless of how it looks, homes do not generally sell in a couple days. The average number of days to sell a home right now in The Hamilton Burlington area is 43. Don’t stress if you are 2 or 3 weeks into selling and it’s not sold. Your REALTOR® should be keeping you up to date on what is happening regarding your house, and be sure to talk to them if you have concerns. They should be able to provide you with feedback from showings that have taken place of your house, which may help you understand what buyers are thinking.

Keep in mind, it only seems like forever when you are living in this artificial, pristine state. Also, don’t take it personally that people are not buying your house. You won’t want to buy every house you look at. The right buyer will view your house, and they will know right away it is the one for them. That’s when the next stage starts – negotiating the best deal for you, but that’s another topic…

HOW TO GET RID OF YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT – FASTER!

Many times during the course of having home buyers approved for mortgage financing I have discovered many don’t qualify because of too much credit card debt. Many young people have amassed huge debt just by having several credit cards all running a balance close to the limit. At this stage they are now finding it difficult to service these debts on a regular basis, or they are keeping their payments up to date and their credit rating is solid but they don’t qualify for mortgage financing because they already have too much debt load.

If you or someone you know has found them self in this situation here is a good strategy to get your financial house in order.

Credit Cards

If your debt is primarily on credit cards, cut and cancel your cards. If necessary, acquire—or keep—one low interest rate card that you will pay off monthly.

 Rollover Formula

Pay more on the card with the highest interest rate. Once paid off, add that payment amount to the payment you’ve been making on the second highest interest rate card.

Once the second card is paid off, add that amount to the payment on the third card, etc., until all card balances are paid off.

Example

Assume you have three credit cards—MasterCard, Visa and Discover. Combined, you owe a total of $5,350 and are making monthly minimum payments as outlined below.

Determine a percentage of your income—such as the 10% in this example—that you will add to your minimum payments to help pay off the debt.

 Additional payment of $340

On a net monthly income of $3,400, allocate 10% as an additional payment to pay off MasterCard—the highest interest rate card—while maintaining minimum payments on the other 2 cards:

Credit Cards

Balance

Interest Rate

Minimum Payment

Additional Payment

Total Payment

MasterCard

$1,850

@ 21.9%

$45

+ $340

= $385

Visa

$1,925

@ 15.9%

$55

Discover Card

$1,575

@ 11.9%

$40

Rollover $385

After 5 months, MasterCard will be paid off, Visa will be down to $1,772 and Discover, $1,448. Now rollover the $385 payment to the Visa payment of $55, totaling $440 per month and continue the minimum on the Discover Card:

Credit Cards

Balance

Interest Rate

Minimum Payment

Additional Payment

Total Payment

MasterCard

0

Visa

$1,772

@ 15.9%

$55

+ $385

= $440

Discover Card

$1,448

@ 11.9%

$40

Rollover $440

After 4 months, Visa Card will be paid off and the Discover Card balance will be down to $1,342. Rollover the $440 payment, adding it to the $40 Discover Card payment for a total of $480 per month:

Credit Cards

Balance

Interest Rate

Minimum Payment

Additional Payment

Total Payment

MasterCard

0

Visa

0

Discover Card

$1,342

@ 11.9%

$40

+ $440

= $480

Credit card debt is eliminated!

In 3 months, the Discover Card will be paid off leaving you credit card debt FREE!.

Credit Cards

Balance

Interest Rate

Minimum Payment

Additional Payment

Total Payment

MasterCard

0

Visa

0

Discover Card

0

= $480

After twelve months, your total credit card debt is eliminated and you now have $480 per month available for investment!

What’s important is that you now rollover this amount to investments and continue to use the compounding effect, but this time to increase wealth instead of debt!

If you follow this strategy faithfully and stick to just one credit card you will never be held hostage by these cards again. Here’s to being credit card DEBT FREE!!

  • ALL CREDIT CARD NAMES AND RATES USED ARE FOR DEMONSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY.

IS THE PARK LIVING LIFESTYLE RIGHT FOR YOU?

One area of the real estate market that I have never been involved in is Park Living so I am by no means an expert, but thought I would share some interesting information.

Park Living is usually when you own a modular type (pre-manufactured) home or mobile home and it is located on a leased lot in a park or gated community.

This type of home ownership is becoming more popular with retired people due to its lower purchase price and lower operating costs. People are selling their large detached homes and buying a park home to be mortgage free and having the excess equity from the sale invested as part of  their retirement portfolio. Some people even purchase another park home in the southern United States to get away from the cold winter months here in Canada.

Homeowners appreciate that all the lot maintenance (landscaping and snow removal) as well as property tax is included in the monthly fee. Another great feature of these private communities is many of them have their own community centre with swimming pool and facilities to hold private parties etc. Some parks even have organized social activities for the homeowners. It is a real sense of community.

Like any other real estate transaction the buyer needs to do their research as there are many things to consider such as the manufacturer of the home (is the quality there?), does the home sit on a concrete pad or is there a foundation with either a crawl space or full basement, or does it just sit on concrete pilons? These are all important questions as it will reflect on how well the home will withstand certain weather conditions.

You must also consider the location of the park. Traditionally in southern Ontario these types of communities are located in more rural areas so travelling to and from the nearest town may not be an option for some folks.

Never thought about Park Living? Could this lifestyle be what you’re looking for? You owe it to yourself to check it out. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Okay, I want to sell my house – Now what do I do?

First, relax and take a good look at your house. You’ve lived with it, and know the things you have been meaning to fix/repair/replace, if only you had time. Well, that’s a good place to start.

We personally started on the ‘get the house ready to sell’ phase at the end of last year, when we discovered we needed to have our roof re-shingled. This started us taking that good look around and determining what were the things we had been putting off. When you are going to sell your house, you want it to be as close to repair free as you can make it. These aren’t always big ticket items. Is there a leaky tap, are there chips in the paint, does the front door need painted, is there a sticky lock that really bugs you, but not enough that you have actually got around to fixing it? These are things, that, simple as they are, will put off potential buyers, as they indicate a general lack of maintenance.

There are other basics to take care of. Are the closets organized or do you have to stand back when you open the door? Are the kitchen cupboards organized looking? Are your storage areas organized or do they look like you just tossed whatever you didn’t know what to do with somewhere? These things can help someone visualize living in the house. Are the lights all working? These may seem pretty obvious, but I can assure after 28 years selling real estate, not everyone is on the same page.

If you are looking for ways to maximize your dollars from your home, consider whether your baths or kitchen could stand some updates. What you do is obviously limited by your budget, but these are two areas that provide a good return on your dollars invested.

You might be wondering why it has taken us 8 months to have our house ready to go on the market. We took a really hard look around and decided that after 14 years, our house needed a face lift. We have replaced carpet with hardwood flooring (not as easy as it sounds, since that also involves removing and replacing baseboards, and repainting…). We have updated bathrooms with new shower enclosures and vanities with granite tops. We have painted the house pretty much from top to bottom to reflect today’s tastes as opposed to what we thought might look good. We have also taken a good look at the gardens, and I can assure you I never want to pull another weed or move another overgrown bush!

Just a word to the wise for someone thinking of doing what we have… it sounds straightforward on paper, but remember Murphy’s Law, if something can go wrong, it will… I can testify to that! We have actually had a lot of fun working on the house. People keep asking, now that it’s all fixed up, why don’t you stay? Are they nuts? We need a new project!

My final words of advice on being ready to sell are that clean and uncluttered will always carry the day. Let potential buyers see all that your house has to offer. Don’t ask them to look around all your treasures. Many buyers never remember the actual house they toured, they only remember what was displayed or the condition of the house. First impressions are really important. That starts when they pull up at the curb, and carries through every room of the house. When you list your property, walk through with your REALTOR® and take an impartial look. What would you think if you were seeing the house for the first time?

If you are unsure how to showcase your home, be sure to ask your REALTOR® and perhaps even consider having a stager come through your home. They can provide some great ideas, that can make all the difference in the world.

So, if you are planning to sell, call a professional. They can make the process smooth and worry free… After you’ve done the tough work, of course.