There’s a lot of information out there for sellers staging an Open House, but surprisingly few guidelines for the people who come to view them.  For some, an Open House viewing may simply be an impulse activity to satisfy their curiosity about a neighbor’s home.  However, for serious buyers, especially First Time Buyers who have limited experience in seeing different home styles and layouts, visiting Open Houses can be a very worthwhile exercise.

To plan an effective Open House tour, you should start with a map.  Plot out the addresses of where the Open Houses are located, and the times of showings to ensure that you make the most productive use of your time.  Better still, plan your Open House tour on, and we’ll make up the list of all Open Houses in your target area, including times and do the mapping for you!

If you don’t already know the neighbourhood, then that’s the first place to start.  Look at your map, and see where major transportation links are located, as well as parks, schools, shopping and amenities.  If everything you see on the map looks good, then start out with a driving tour of the neighbourhood itself, before you devote some time to viewing individual houses.

If you plan on visiting an Open House, and you’re already working with a real estate salesperson, be sure to notify them in advance.  Your sales representative can be a very valuable source of information about the neighborhood, and may possibly even be familiar with the individual property.  Also, depending on the rules of your local real estate board, visiting an Open House without your agent present may result in conferring certain rights on the salesperson who is showing the property.  If you discuss this with your salesperson before your visit, you’re ensured of having the right person to look after your interests when it’s time to make an offer.  Of course, if you aren’t yet working with a sales representative, Open Houses can provide a great opportunity to not only look for the right house, but the right salesperson.  What better way to see them in action, and find out quickly if you communicate on the same wavelength.

As you tour an Open House, try to see past the furnishings, and any personal clutter, and focus on whether the space and layout works for your needs.  Don’t assume that what you see is what you get!  Many things you see at the viewing, such as window treatments, light fixtures, appliances and even that hot tub on the back deck may not be included in the list price.  Check details on the feature sheet and verify what’s included with the agent hosting the Open House.

When touring an Open House, be direct and ask questions.  Remember, this is no time to be diplomatic.  The real estate professional showing the home realizes that it may not be right for everyone.  By keeping your comments open and direct, you help the sales representative to better understand your needs, and offer solutions to meet them.

Don’t forget to call your local Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate sales representative to ask about our Ultimate Service Guarantee for Buyers! Happy House Hunting!!!





What are Home Shoppers Looking For Now?

What do you think are the most popular trends? I recently read an article outlining the currents house hunting wants and was surprised by some of what I read.

Not surprising, buyers are still looking for large great rooms and spa like bathrooms.

The ideal home is now open concept, with the great room encompassing the entertaining area of a living room, the secluded space of a technology work area, likely at least two eating areas, and a large very functional kitchen. People want to be more connected to what is going on in the family.

We are seeing this in renovations that are being completed, and in some areas, in the new home designs that are being put forward. Many of these homes no longer have the halls to each separate area of the house, which traditionally was used for privacy between the different use areas. These hallways added considerably to the square footage of the home, and prevented the free flow that home owners are now looking for.

The sought after design today allows you to be part of the party when you entertain, even when you are doing the prep work. Your breakfast bar area serves as a buffet area, and you likely have a small eating area for casual meals, and a larger space for more formal/large family get togethers. Home owners don’t worry about guests being able to see the prep area. Likely that’s where everyone was gathering anyhow! Kitchens have always been the gathering place at the party.

And bathrooms… apparently we all want the spa bath from the high end hotel. Soaker/jetted tub, separate glass shower with multiple shower heads and a seat, heated floor, modern vanity with double sinks, showpiece mirrors… I don’t know about you, but I feel relaxed just picturing that.

What I did find surprising, is that the average square footage of the home that many buyers are looking for is 1800 to 2400. It would seem that everything mentioned above, plus 3 bedrooms can be accommodated in that space when you lose the halls.

Don’t take this to mean there are not buyers looking for larger homes with the same features, but about a third of buyers are searching for what I described above.

Are you in the buying phase? What are you looking for? Let us know if the housing gurus have it right…

How to plan for an In-Law Suite?

This week I would like to touch on in-law suites. They come in all shapes and sizes so here are a few ideas to make sure you end up with the appropriate situation.

Today’s home buyers are often young parents, trying to find enough hours in the day to meet all their commitments.  Many are responding to this challenge by having live-in help assist with childcare and household chores…and that means you’ll probably need an in-law suite.  In some cases, you may be one of the fortunate homebuyers who find caregiver accommodations ready-made in your new home.  Other homeowners may go with the DIY approach.  Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when planning your space.

An effective in-law suite will be appealing to your caregiver, while at the same time giving you some privacy.  The challenge is to do that without putting too much strain on your pocketbook.  A good benchmark to help you determine what improvements are worth doing is to measure the cost against the expected lifespan of the expense.  For example, putting in a 4-pc bathroom can be costly, and may not be worth doing if you only see it being needed for three or four years until the kids go off to school.  In a case like that, rather than adding a full bath, you might consider a compromise of adding a sink and counter to a bed-sitting room, that could later evolve into a den with a wet bar.

On the other hand, if you can see the caregiver’s space being used long-term as a permanent in-law suite or used as additional living space as your family grows, then you’ll probably feel the cost is well worth it.  Remember too, the number of bathrooms is an important factor when determining the resale value of your home.  If you do it right, you have an excellent chance of re-couping some, if not all, of the expense when the time comes to sell. Your Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professional will be glad to advise you on how such improvements may impact a home’s future value.

Privacy and space are important issues with an in-law suite.  Your caregiver will probably appreciate a lock on the bedroom door, or at least a cabinet that can be locked.   As to decorating, keep it simple.  Light colours, mirrors and recessed lighting will all help make a small space seem larger.  Keep it bright with extra task lighting, including a reading lamp.  Choose inexpensive window treatments such as mini-blinds that let in lots of light, but still allow for privacy.  Add a large framed corkboard for photos, notes and other mementos which will allow your live-in help to personalize their space without it looking cluttered.  Include a writing area, either a small table or desk with a lamp and chair.

Plan your room layout in advance, and don’t forget to take wiring and other facilities into consideration before you start painting.   For example, you may want to install a cable TV or internet outlet or add a phone jack, or a baseboard heater.  A little planning can help make your space a pleasure for years to come.

Please share your ideas on how your in-law suite has made your life easier.

To Renovate or Not to Renovate…

If you decide to renovate, be sure to get the best bang for your renovation buck!

Now more than ever,  homeowners are venturing into the domain of home renovating. Many home owners look forward to enjoying the new, attractive or functional features that these renovations can bring to their everyday life. Yet more and more, market-savvy homeowners are spending thousands of dollars on home improvements, just to turn around in a short period and put the property up for sale. Renovations may not sound like a novel idea in terms of adding market value to your home. However, knowing how and where to use your money can help you achieve the best return on your investment by delivering an improved listing price when the time comes to sell.

The two most prominent areas of your home that will affect its selling appeal are the kitchen and bathrooms, so these are two prime areas to focus on if you’re looking for the biggest bang for your renovating bucks. For bathrooms, if you’re looking to improve resale value, then focus your efforts first on the main floor bath or powder room. Buyers decide on a home within the first few minutes, and it will be the only one they will have seen in that time. Besides, it’s usually the bathroom all your visitors use and it’s typically small – perhaps a half bathroom – so it’s a good place to splurge and achieve maximum impact for a relatively low expenditure. After the main floor, the master bath is most worthy of premium fixtures and upgrades, because that’s the one prospective buyers will visualize themselves using. For these two rooms, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank by replacing tubs and sinks. New products such as porcelain tub paint or even a full insert that mounts on top of your existing tub can give your bathroom a fresh as new look. Where it will pay off in the end to spend some money is with new, modern faucets and perhaps a new light fixture.

No other fixture in the home gets more use than the kitchen faucet – so don’t skimp here! A good idea is to choose one of the latest washer less styles that minimize internal seals and components that can wear out. Spend the extra couple of dollars on stylish, advanced faucets that will give years of leak-free service. While the plumbing for the faucets are out, you might decide to replace the kitchen sink – a good investment if yours is showing signs of obvious wear.

The countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms are another guaranteed-return home improvement. If the cost seems a little daunting, don’t be discouraged. New melamine paints can rejuvenate an outdated counter surface with today’s new cool neutral shades. If your counter is scratched and worn, there are new countertops available today, which are custom ordered pieces according to your specifications that are placed over top of your existing counter. The end result is a low cost, limited effort alternative that gives you the look of solid granite!

You can speak with your local Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate sales professional today to give you further ideas on how to best improve your home in terms of market value.