Living Large – Even on a Fixed Income

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I want to share some information with you, which was recently provided by the National Association of REALTORS® regarding enjoying your retirement.

Here it is… I hope you gain some ideas from their information…

The phrase “living large” isn’t restricted to being rich or spending loads of money. It’s about wringing every drop of joy possible out of every day and enjoying your life… moment by moment. It means different things to different people, but the one thing all living-large enthusiasts have in common is they don’t worry over making ends meet, financially.

When seniors find themselves with fewer responsibilities and more personal freedom, they’re often at an important crossroads, where the decisions they make can mean the difference between joy and stress. The two leading causes of stress, for seniors, are financial strain and loneliness. Making matters worse, people experiencing stress often retreat from their social support systems at the time they need them the most.

The first step is to address financial issues. The second is to be more socially interactive.

Here are some tips to help find more joy, by pursuing your own brand of bliss – instead of worrying about making ends meet. Some of the ideas are common sense ways to save money painlessly, while others are a little more creative. But they all have one goal: To improve the quality of an individual’s life regardless of their budget and to discover fun affordable ways to collect experiences, are memories and LIVE LARGE!

6 Superb Ways to Curb Costs

Many bills are the result of long-term habits. After years of raising children and working full time, it’s easy for old patterns to continue unchallenged. That’s why a comprehensive bill review is the first step for revealing expenses that are no longer necessary – as well a discovering more attractive and affordable options, including:

  1.  Two Cars? When both spouses were working full time and getting children to different events, two cars may have been a requirement. Does this need still exist?
  2. Cut the Cable. Which the improvement of online streaming options many people have decided they prefer selecting why they want to view (often avoiding commercials) over enduring whatever is available on cable.
  3. Out of Sight, Out of Mind? For years, many people have dutifully paid monthly storage unit fees. Sort through and toss what’s no needed, re-home what’s going to the kids, and donate things that are no longer useful to you.
  4. Prescription Savings. Often, prescription drugs are both necessary and expensive. Comparison shop – fees charged may vary from pharmacy to pharmacy.
  5. Savvy Shopping. Major sales aren’t limited to Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Every year, various big-ticket items are often discounted seasonally, including:                Cars – current inventory goes on sale when new models arrive, usually in the fall
    Computers – Late March/April and August/September
    Large Appliances – September/October when new models are rolled out
    Televisions – Late November and January
    Outdoor – Lawnmowers in April and after Labour Day
    Grills, patio furniture, in October and November
    Mattresses – end of May
  6. Other Opportunities to Save – Amazon is a popular place to buy, but did you know that their are sites that track Amazon prices? Use CamelCamelCamel.com or keepa.com to view price history. Even with deals, remember to keep the focus on Living-Large. In other words, buy only what you need at the best possible prices.

Reigning in unnecessary expenses is only the first step in learning how to live large on a fixed income. The real fun is shifting the focus to discovering a world of budget-friendly opportunities to learn new things, enjoy new experiences, and establish new friendships.
Here is a list to consider:
1.  Healthier Eating Choices – It’s hard to enjoy anything when health issues arise which means prevention should always to a top priority
2. Music Magic – The health benefits ofmuxid are scientifically documented an dramatic – especially for older people an those suffering from heart circulatory, stroke, memory and sleep issues.
3.  Keep Learning, Keep Moving.
4.  See More Places, Do more Things. Travel is one of the best ways to have new experiences.
5.  Closer to Home. Seeing new sights and enjoying new experiences shouldn’t be reserved for out-or-town trips. Consider local entertainment such as art galleries and museums, zoos, theatre productions and more.
6.  Finally, don’t forget to schedule some “me time” to be alone and enjoy your own company, which can do as much for your outlook as travel and socializing. Consider meditation, journaling, reading, yoga, or even curling up with a blanket and a bowl of popcorn to watch a movie solo.
I hope you found some new ideas in this article.

How Long Should You Wait?

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What is the price of procrastination currently in real estate?

The real estate market right now is difficult for buyers. The lack of properties to select from, and the competition to buy what is available is making some people think they should just wait until the market is better.

In real estate, waiting can be good for you or bad for you, depending on how different variables change. For example, the interest rate in the United States has started to edge up, and history would tell us that Canada will soon follow the example south of the border. The rate was just increased .25% in the U.S. It may not seem like much, but first, it is a sign that rates are going to increase to some extent, and also, we may not see historically low rates again for some time.

The .25% rate increase on a $250,000 mortgage could mean a difference of $31.84 per month. An increase of 1% could mean a difference of $130.11 per month. Over the term of a mortgage, the increase in payments tend to add up significantly.

If home prices continue to increase at the rate they have over the past year (close to 30% gain in one year), many buyers will be priced out of the market, as incomes are not increasing at a rate that would enable people to meet the extra costs. For example, a $400,000 home in today’s market could be $520,000 in one year’s time, assuming another 30% gain. Today, if you were putting down 10% ($40,000), the $360,000 mortgage would have a monthly payment of approximately $1650.00. The same house with a 30% increase would have a monthly mortgage payment of approximately $2150.00 per month, and the 10% downpayment would be $52,000. Same home, one year later (assuming mortgage rates don’t change). As you can see, the same home can cost you a larger downpayment, and in this example, $500 per month more in a mortgage payment.

If you are ready to buy, and have been waiting for the right time, maybe you should quit waiting!

Call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals representatives and see if now is the right time for you! They will help you look at all the possibilities to ensure you make the right decision.

Welcome Spring!

The calendar says Spring is here, even if the weather doesn’t.

Traditionally Spring is the time of year when new real estate listings flood the market, and everyone gets busy. The market this year has been going at a record breaking pace, but in spite of that, I hope that home owners will get excited by spring, and decide to put their homes on the market.

We have been experiencing an unprecedented shortage of homes for the number of buyers looking. Many feel the only way to correct the shortage is to have the government intervene, enacting more laws and restrictions.

These actions in the past year seem to have hurt the very buyers they were trying to help. New mortgage rules have made it more difficult for first time buyers to obtain a mortgage, only adding to the problem of soaring prices, and making it harder for them to save for the downpayment necessary.

There is talk of the government placing a foreign investor tax on those buying in the Toronto market, to help ease the inventory shortage, but those in the market say it’s not foreign investors causing the problem.

Many experts says that the only way out of the housing shortage is for more new homes to be built, in recognition of a slow down in new home construction last year.

Perhaps the seemingly easiest solution is for us all to get on with life. Many home owners I speak to are waiting. Waiting to see if prices go up. Waiting to see if more homes will come on the market for them to select from. Waiting to see if interest rates are going up. All these events are likely going to happen… the unknown is just how soon. If everyone who has been considering moving put their home on the market, perhaps our greatest issue would be solved – lack of properties to buy.

If you would like to find out if now is the right time for you to make a move, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals reps. They will be glad to help you make the right decision.

Can I Afford to Buy a House?

 
When is enough enough?

Today’s real estate market is all about competing offers. It seems most properties are being listed with a time period in which no offers will be considered. This is ideal for the seller, allowing everyone who might be interested in the property the opportunity to view the house, and decide if they want to make an offer. For all the buyers out there, it’s not quite so ideal, as it creates a situation where a buyer is almost assured of being in competition to buy a home.

When a buyer finds a home they want to buy, the first question they ask their REALTOR® is “How much should I offer to be sure I get this house?” Unfortunately there is no easy answer to that question.

In competition, houses quite often sell for more than their market value, which makes it a bit of a guessing game. Your REALTOR® can tell you what the property’s market value is, but they cannot anticipate how much someone will to pay to own a particular home.

When deciding how much to offer, a good test is to find the price point at which you as the buyer can say, “I would not be upset if someone else bought it at that price”. If the seller is asking $400,000 for example, and you as the buyer decide your top price for the home is $500,000, ask yourself, would you be upset if you learned someone bought it for $510,000? $505,000? If you can say to yourself, ”no I would not be upset”, you have reached your top price. If you say, I would have paid that much, you have not topped out on what you believe you would pay.

That said, listen to your REALTOR®. They will caution you not to offer so much that you put your financing availability at risk. Also, buying a house at any price is not the answer either. If in the example I mentioned above, you are able and willing to pay $500,000 for a home, be sure there is not another property on the market that you have not looked at because it is listed higher that you we thinking of buying.

As always, if you are thinking of buying or selling a home, be sure to speak to a REALTOR® first. Call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals reps. They are very knowledgeable, and will help you determine what is the best decision for YOU, right now.

Oh No! I Sold My Home!

ce4a9f30cb42bf341ab2aa815aed136a_real-estate-sold-sign-lindsay-house-sold-sign-clipart_1000-750Are you afraid to sell your home in case you can’t find one to buy?

This seems to be the impasse  many potential sellers are stuck at. The market right now has such a low inventory of homes to buy, many people are putting off selling, even though they have many reasons that now would be a good time to sell.

If you are in this position, you have a lot of things to consider.

By not moving, are you putting off plans that would be better for your family?
Financially, is now a good time to sell?
If you haven’t sold your home, can you buy your dream home if it came on the market tomorrow?
If you can’t find your dream home, are you willing to rent a property until you find the right one?
Are you tired of carrying the household costs on large home that is more than you need?
Can you afford to own two homes?

If you are being held back by one of these concerns, or another not mentioned, take some time and determine whether there is a answer should you sell your home and become “homeless”.

Are you fortunate enough to have a second home where you could live temporarily while waiting for the right home to come on the market?
Are you prepared to rent accommodation while looking for the right house?
You might be able to negotiate a long closing on your current home, to allow you time to find the right home.
Do you have family members with extra space for you to stay with if the need arises?
Is there another solution which would enable to you move now?

Not everyone is prepared to put their home on the market without knowing where they are going next, but maybe you are.

Being homeless is not as bad as you might think. I sold my home last summer, and am currently renting a home while I look for just the right property. Is it perfect?, no, but it provides the freedom to be in control when I do find the right property. As a buyer with no home to sell, and the ability to match most any closing date a seller might request, I am in a good negotiating position.

So, are you ready to put your home on the market? Be sure to call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals to discuss what your options are.

It’s that time of year…

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THE END IS NEAR! Don’t panic, I’m only referring to 2016.

This year seems to have just flown by… For those of us in the real estate profession, it has been an interesting year in many ways.

The market picked up momentum early in the year, and we found ourselves in a market where you were happy to only be one of 5 representing a buyer trying to purchase a property instead of 15 or 20…  Many buyers experienced an emotional ride to homeownership, and many stepped back and decided not to get on the roller coaster this year at all.  The government got involved, changing policies to try an cool a market they felt was overheated.

The market does not seem to be slowing down in the Hamilton/Burlington area in spite of the government intervention.  We are also beginning to see the slow climb of interest rates, which has many wondering whether our days of record low rates is coming to an end.

Looking back, a lot has happened this year, and looking forward, it appears that 2017 may be just as busy.

As 2016 comes to an end, we would like to wish everyone the best of the season, however you celebrate it – Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanza, Happy Holidays…!

And a Happy New Year to All!  Let’s see what 2017 brings!

Frozen

atlanta-frozen-pipeSadly I am not referring to the Disney movie of the same title…

Each winter we hear news reports of homes that have had the pipes freeze in the severe cold weather we experience. Everyone seems to be forecasting for us to have a colder than average winter this year, so I thought I would touch on this early enough for preventive measures to be taken.

Generally when pipes freeze it is because they either run through an uninsulated area, such as a garage, crawl space or an attic, or are located on exterior walls of the house without adequate insulation between them and the wall. Another unexpected, but common cause can be an outside hose that is left connected to an outside faucet. When it freezes it puts pressure on the interior pipes, and can cause them to break, so always disconnect your garden hose at the end of the season. Also, always turn off your outside faucets and drain the last of the water out of the spigot.

If your water pipes run through an uninsulated or poorly insulated area, you can purchase foam wrap for the pipes. If you are concerned that the pipes will be exposed to the full cold, you can also wrap the pipes with a heat tape that will maintain a minimum temperature to prevent them freezing.

For pipes running in exterior walls, the only effective way to correct the problem is to open up the walls and improve the insulation. On very cold walls, you may actually need to reroute the pipes to a less exposed location.

It may seem like a lot of work to do on the chance that the pipes may freeze, but broken pipes will lead to larger repair bills down the road, including the potential for mold removal.

If you are buying an older home, be sure to have your home inspector check where the water feed is in the house. It is always better to know before winter strikes whether you may have a problem…

Also remember if you have a home with a lawn sprinkler system, have the water blown from the system at the end of the season.

As always, one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals will be happy to speak with you about this and other home ownership concerns.

At Coldwell Banker Community Professionals, we don’t strive to be the biggest, we strive to be the best!

The Grass IS Always Greener Over the Septic Tank – Erma Bombeck was right

 

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Most home owners may not have ever experienced this phenomenon, but those who have lived with a septic system know this is a fact…

If you are thinking of selling your home, curb appeal is especially important, as many buyers make up their mind whether they even want to look inside a home by driving past first. Whether you live in the city or on a rural property, keeping up your lawn and gardens can be a challenge, especially during summers like we just enjoyed.

Buyers are looking for well cared for homes, with lush, cared for grass. If you have gardens, they like to see them well tended, weeded, edged up, perhaps with a mulch cover to discourage weeds. Most hope for a finished driveway, whether paved, concrete, or interlocking block, that has been well maintained. In a rural setting, a gravel drive is common, but it still must be cared for, with a good gravel cover, distinct edges and no weeds.

If you are a true gardener, your efforts will garner attention. Many buyers love to see the gardens, and hope to become proficient at taking care of them. Buyers especially like to see perennial gardens, believing them to be lower maintenance.

Your lawn can be a big seller. That lush grass you can find over the septic tank appeals to buyers. If you can’t count on the septic bed to make your lawn look pretty, and you are planning to sell your home, prepare to keep your lawn well watered. You don’t need a weed killer company at your home, but regular maintenance to keep the weed population under control is necessary.

If you have a rural home, the lovely expanse of front lawn can make buyers anxious to see more…

If you are looking for more tips on how to make your home ooze curb appeal, speak to one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals. They have lots of tips and tricks up their sleeve to help you get top dollar for your home.

At Coldwell Banker Community Professionals, we don’t strive to be the biggest, we strive to be the best.

The Magnificent Seven!

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Movie makers could only come up with seven magnificent cowboys. At Coldwell Banker Community Professionals we have an office full of magnificent individuals.

As part of our Ultimate Service Guarantee, we survey all our buyers and sellers to ask how we did. Many write in to tell us about their experience with our team of professionals, and I have selected some such testimonials to share with you. These are a sampling of the hundreds of surveys we receive back.

“Justin is the kind of agent everyone should have. His professionalism, while he helped and guided us through the purchase of a new property and the sale of our existing residence was greatly appreciated”

“Ozie was exceptional! We were blown away by his professionalism and kindness. Our expectations were exceeded”

“Jeannie was exceptionally helpful and accessible for all our home viewings. She made very helpful observations and was vested in finding the best home for us within our price range. She was, and continues to be prompt with messages. I don’t think we could have found our dream home without her!”

“It was a tough market and Jesse showed above and beyond customer service and PATIENCE! We are extremely happy with our final purchase!”

“As he has in the past, Vince went above and beyond our expectations. He provides exceptional customer service and prioritizes clients like they’re all his only one. I wish I could buy houses every year just to hang out with him more!”

“Amy is a very caring and devoted sales rep – She is looking out for our best interest. I will recommend her to my Friends and Family”

“Rejeanne was patient, understanding and she took the time to understand my needs, and as a result she showed me properties that were within my budget and needs She set me up with the listing alerts and I was able to view properties beforehand. My sales rep accommodated every change (and there were a few), and made every appointment as scheduled.”

“I was referred by a friend, but chose Coldwell Banker based on excellent rapport with Paul. Fast reply time, understood quickly, very patient in explaining everything (more than once). Paul made it comfortable to become a first time homebuyer.”

It’s impossible to pick just 7 magnificent experiences with so many to chose from.

If you are considering buying or selling your home, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Sales Professionals. You will receive the excellent service outlined above from everyone on our team.

At Coldwell Banker Community Professionals we don’t strive to be the Biggest, we strive to be the Best.

Has the Real Estate Market Run out of Steam?

ee080e912907e1b1fadad2edfff41c39I believe we are experiencing a traditional August. We just have forgotten what that is!

It seems that people always believe that the spring market is the hottest, the summer market is the slowest and the fall market runs until December when everyone quits looking for houses as they prepare for the holidays. I think this year is falling into a category of its own.

Our spring market started out brisk, with lots of buyers and not enough homes to sell. We thought it was a pretty strong sellers market and that buyers would need to be aggressive to be successful in home buying. In the back of everyone’s mind was that the thought that the market would ease up a bit after the initial rush, and buyers would find what they were looking for… We are still waiting for the market to ease up a bit and provide properties for all these buyers who are waiting.

Spring was not our hottest market. So far this year, and we have yet to see our fall market, the May, June, and July markets were crazy. Prices are up and the number of available homes is decreasing. Sellers have hesitated to put their home on the market fearing that they will not be able to find a home themselves…

This August has provided the slowest market so far this year, letting everyone catch their breath. I think maybe the buyers are worn out, and have taken the last few weeks of summer to regroup and prepare to do battle in the fall market.

As parents prepare to get their children back to school, REALTORS® are busy helping sellers prepare to put their homes on the fall market, and helping buyers fine tune what they are looking for. I don’t know what the fall market will bring, but if the first part of the year is anything to go by, we should be in for a busy time!

If you are considering buying or selling, call one of our reps at Coldwell Banker Community Professionals. They are well prepared to help you meet your housing needs. Find out how our Ultimate Service Guarantee can provide you with peace of mind in your real estate experience.