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.

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.

Flip or Flop

Flip-or-flopThere’s lot’s of money to be made flipping homes!

That may be true if you know what you are doing. HGTV makes it look easy… buy that neglected home, rip out the kitchen and bath… throw down that hardwood floor and you can make thousands, if not hundred of thousands of dollars…

It’s not that easy, as many renovators will tell you. In a hot market, the first challenge is to find that property listed at the right price, in the right neighbourhood, that you can renovate quickly, and not have to enter into a bidding war to purchase. Nothing to it, right?

Flipping houses truly comes down to the math. What you buy it for, plus the cost of renovations, plus the cost of carrying it while renovating, plus the legal and real estate fees, and plus your profit. The last item is the most important one. You cannot be flipping houses without having a reasonable profit built in. And keep in mind, that profit is taxed as income when you are in the business of flipping homes.

Still think flipping homes is a good idea? Call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals, and have them help you find the right property at the right price to renovate.

It’s Too Hot!

 

images-3Am I talking about the weather or the real estate market? This year it could be either one.

Let’s start with the weather. In my opinion it’s never too hot! I just have to think about winter, and immediately the heat and humidity feel delightful. I didn’t even need to book a flight to get the island weather!

Moving on, let’s talk real estate… (pun intended). This year so far has been a tough market if you are trying to buy a home. Multiple offers have been the norm, and sadly missing out has happened too many times to too many buyers. Sellers are even hesitating to put their homes on the market… what can they buy? will their home be worth more if they hold on another month – 2 months – or more?

The ‘experts’ all have opinions on where the market is going. Some suggest 2017 will be an even hotter market than 2016, and yet others are still talking about the balloon that’s going to break and spiral us all into a quagmire of overpriced homes. The government keeps suggesting they need to intervene in order to slow our ‘out of control’ market.

Experience tells us that the market will correct itself. There are many reasons why people move, and they can only put it off so long. New jobs, adding to the family, retirement, divorces, to name a few. Sooner or later, sellers will decide they are not waiting any longer, and more houses will come on the market. Prices likely won’t decrease, as there are a lot of buyers waiting to absorb the available properties.

As a seller, if you are thinking about selling, now is a great time. It is a strong seller’s market, and summer sometimes sees fewer homes being put on the market.

Either way you look at it, this summer is HOT! Make sure you are part of it. Enjoy the weather, and good luck if you are trying to buy a home.

If you are looking for a great agent to help you, look no further than Coldwell Banker Community Professionals. Call us today to see how we can help you.

Are You Thinking of Buying or Selling? Here are 5 Reasons You Should Hire a REALTOR®

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When you buy or sell a home, often you are starting down a path you have never travelled before.  You need an experienced Real Estate Professional on your side to ensure you attain your goal.  It may seem easy to either sell or buy privately, with access to the information provided by realtor.ca. The following 5 Reasons to Hire a REALTOR® are even more important today, with all the options available through the internet and the information/misinformation that is out there.

  1.  Preparing and interpreting all the paperwork. There are many forms that need to be completed to buy or sell a home.  Also, there are many terms and conditions to consider to protect yourself in the transaction.  The last thing you want is a legal problem because something was missed.
  2. If you are buying, what do you do when you find your dream home? There are many considerations when you prepare an offer to purchase a home, from the decision of basics such as what is included in your purchase and moving dates, to what terms and conditions do you need to protect yourself in the purchase, and ensure that the  home you are buying is all that you think it is. Do you know the professionals to contact to have your new home inspected or to arrange the best financing?
  3. Are you a good negotiator?  Can you buy it for the lowest price possible or conversely sell it for the highest? Do you have the information you need to know what the home should sell for?  Can you remove your emotions from the negotiations?
  4. What is your home really worth?  Do you know how to price your home to attract the most buyers and generate the most offers?  We are currently experiencing a very robust market for sellers.  You want to maximize your sale price!
  5. Do you know what is really going on in the market? More particularly, do you know what is going on in your neighbourhood?  You need to know the specifics of the neighbourhood in order to know what price you should offer your home for sale at, or to know what to offer for your dream home.

By hiring a real estate professional you will have someone that will help you make an educated buying or selling decision.  They will tell you the facts, not what they think you want to hear.

Thinking of buying or selling?  Call one of our professionals at Coldwell Banker Community Real Estate.  They will provide you with the help you need.

Thinking of Buying a Home? 3 Questions Every Buyer Should Answer First

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If you are thinking about buying a home, you are likely getting lots of advice from friends and family. They no doubt have your best interests at heart, but there are three questions you should ask yourself to decide if NOW is the right time.

 

 

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This is the most important question you should ask yourself, as if will determine if you should be buying, and if so, what is most important to you in your home buying process. Financing doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you really need.
Many studies have been conducted, and 4 major reasons consistently turn up. These reasons are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does it mean to you to own a home? What benefits will moving provide you with?

Once you have answered this question…

2. Where are home values headed?
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s outlook for 2016 indicates that the Hamilton-Burlington area will experience a moderate price increase this year. This area is an exception to the general expectation that prices will cool across Canada. For an in-depth review of the local market, be sure to speak to your REALTOR®

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?
A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates. If you have been watching the news lately, you will notice that a couple of the large banks have already increased their mortgage rates. While the increases are small, and likely will have a small impact on affordability, you should ensure that your financing plans consider the possibility that rates may increase over the next few years, as that could affect the affordability of your mortgage payment when your current mortgage comes up for renewal.

Bottom Line
Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Be sure to speak with one of our real estate Professionals. They will advise you on the current market conditions, and help you make an informed decision.

STORM – WHAT STORM? WE’RE STILL WORKING!

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Our first real storm of this year hit hard early Sunday evening and finished up by mid-morning on Monday. It was pretty nasty with high winds, drifting snow, poor visibility, and so on.

I woke up early Monday morning and turned on the radio to listen to the list of closures. Schools, universities, community centres, and some businesses were closed. Our offices were also closed.

Finally, after more than three hours of shoveling sidewalks, driveways and helping our neighbours dig themselves out I was now able to get out and go to the office.

When I pulled into the parking lot there were already six cars at the office. One sales rep was negotiating a deal with his buyers and sellers. Another rep was reviewing listings with their client, and yet another was writing up an offer. After I completed what I had to do I returned home to do some more shoveling.

Later Monday evening I was reviewing all the new listings posted to the MLS® for the day. I came across a listing where the listing sales representative obviously took exterior pictures of the house that very morning as evidence by the tracks in the 3-4 foot snowdrifts.

After thinking about the day’s events, all I could think was, KUDOS to all the hard working REALTORS® out there who don’t let a little Canadian snowstorm get in their way!!

 

IS IT A GOOD TIME TO SELL YOUR HOUSE DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON?

In a word, YES! Many home owners are reluctant to put their house up for sale during the Holiday Season because this is a very busy time of year. However, there are several advantages to the seller if they do decide to sell their house during this very busy time.

First, there is less competition as most home owners do not want the hassle of selling their home over the holidays. Less competition means a higher sale price.

Second, when does your home look its best? When it is beautifully decorated for the holidays, of course. It is a fact that homes sell for more money when they show well.

And let’s not forget the Buyers. All home sellers only want serious buyers to view their homes. Traditionally most buyers that are looking for a home during the holiday season are serious buyers and need to move, otherwise they would be spending their spare time enjoying the season with friends and family.

Putting it all together, less competition, a great looking house, and serious buyers you end up with a winning combination.

If you are thinking of selling, you might think about putting your home on the market now to maximize all your opportunities. Call a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professional to help you achieve all your real estate goals.

 

WHAT DOES A FOR SALE BY OWNER (FSBO) NEED TO KNOW?

There is a lot of talk out there about whether or not a home owner should sell their home themselves. I would like to share a few facts with you that may make a difference in your decision on using a REALTOR®.

Home owners have been using REALTORS® for well over 100 years. In today’s society nothing lasts that long unless there is undisputed value.

Buyers who shop For Sale By Owner properties only do so because they think there is a deal to be had. They believe they can get a huge discount on the price because the Seller doesn’t have to pay a commission. The Seller will always have to pay a commission – either to the Buyer or to the REALTOR®. If you are going to be paying a commission anyway, why not use a real estate professional and have them do all the work and take all the risk.

The Law of Supply and Demand states that the more buyers you have wanting to purchase the same product, the more they are willing to pay for the product. When you list your home on the Multiple Listing Service® or MLS® with a local real estate professional, your home is exposed to a huge number of potential Buyers. In our area, there are approximately 2,700 REALTORS® and approximately 40,000 REALTORS® in the neighbouring GTA. If each of those REALTORS® only had ONE Buyer client, that is an astounding number of potential Buyers for your property. How many potential Buyers would the FSBO be able to attract on their own? The odds are that a REALTOR® could probably sell it faster and for more money.

One of the most important roles of the real estate professional is negotiating on behalf of the Seller. The REALTOR® will negotiate with home inspectors, appraisers, lenders, etc., and the Buyer, or the Buyer’s representative to ensure the Seller gets the best terms and conditions on the sale of their largest single investment.

So if you are thinking of selling, talk to one of our Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professionals to help guide you through the challenges of selling your home.

ARE YOU READY TO CLOSE UP THE COTTAGE?

My family and I recently came back from our annual vacation at the cottage. We have been going to the same cottage resort for 20 years. While driving home I thought about all the cottage owners out there who have to start thinking about closing up there vacation home for the winter months.

I came across some basic tips from the Canada Safety Council that I would like to share.

Water Supply

If your cottage is not winterized, you can take steps to prevent your water supply line from freezing during the winter. You don’t want to arrive there next spring to discover the consequences of not having drained the pipes before you close up this fall. Frozen pipes can burst, causing damage and meaning you’ll have no running water.

Pipes can be fully drained when you’re closing up the cottage. The water supply line can be filled with non-toxic anti-freeze made especially for supply pipes. And pipes that are carefully wrapped at key junction points are better protected against the cold.

As part of your maintenance routine you should also check the inside of your hot water holding tank for residue that can affect water quality and get caught in the faucet screen. Also, you should have your water analyzed regularly by a lab to ensure its quality, especially if the water suddenly shows a yellow or brown tinge. A filtration system can significantly increase the purity level and lessen the wear-and-tear on your cottage water system. This is also the ideal time to thoroughly check your plumbing and faucets after a summer’s wear-and-tear.

Wildlife

Damages from small animals such as mice and squirrels are a concern to cottage owners. Avoid using poisons to keep out these critters that love to move in when you move out. You should remove all food from cottage before you close it. Bats, mice and squirrels can wiggle in through the smallest of holes. Inspect the building inside and out to make sure there are no small openings for them to enter. Place a wooden cover on the chimney to discourage birds and small animals from entering, and to stop any rain or snow. Tightly close your fireplace damper to prevent animals from getting in.

Electrical system

Some people choose to shut off electricity to their home in the off-season by throwing the main switch at the fuse box. If you do this, be sure to turn off all major appliances, your water heater, and electrical room heaters before you turn off the main switch. This will ensure a smoother and safer start-up when you re-open your home.

If you leave your electricity on to operate security systems or lighting, you should turn off the power supply to your major appliances at your main panel. Turn off the power supply to any space heaters. Otherwise they may turn on during cold weather.

To ensure the stove, fridge and other electrical equipment are not used in your absence, remove fuses and hide them in a safe place.

Visually inspect your hydro metre and power lines for damage. If a power line is down or damaged, stay clear and call your Hydro Company. Inspect visible wiring to outdoor lighting fixtures, water pumps and other equipment. If wires are damaged, remove the fuse to that circuit or turn off the circuit breaker, and call a qualified electrician.

Check all household appliance cords. If damaged, unplug the appliance and do not use it until the cord is replaced. If your electrical panel uses fuses, make sure they are screwed in tightly and that you have spares. Don’t use fuses higher than 15 amps in normal receptacles and lighting circuits.

Boat Motors and other power equipment

When storing power boating motors and other power equipment do not drain gasoline from fuel tanks, instead use a fuel stabilizer (available from your dealer or auto parts store). Winterize your engine(s) away from the water. Store boat motors, lawnmowers and other items with engines in a dry, weatherproof place. Cover anything that may rust over the winter with a coat of oil.

If your cottage is in a heavy snow area, consider installing temporary supports to protect the roof from caving in. Another option is to hire a reliable local person to shovel the snow off the roof when necessary.

I hope these tips were helpful and remember that time spent in preventative measures now will pay significant dividends next spring when you open the cottage for next year’s season.