Happy Victoria Day!

The 24th of May weekend always feels like the start of summer.

Time to open the cottage…

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Time to plant the annuals in the garden…

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Time to get all the outdoor furniture out…

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Time to open the pool…

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Whatever your plans may be, all of us at Coldwell Banker Community Professionals hope you have a great long weekend, and enjoy the summer ahead.

If your plans happen to include buying or selling a home, give us a call.  We are always happy to help people make the right move.

You Asked, So Here are Some Answers…

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There are some questions about real estate we hear all the time, so I have polled some of the professionals in our office to get their answers, and have shared their responses below.  Should you have any questions not addressed here, we will gladly get you the answer.

 DO I REALLY NEED A HOME INSPECTION?

The answer is a resounding YES. 

Here are a few of the particular reasons why.

  • To review the home in more detail and ideally see aspects of the property that the naked eye can’t see.
  • Even pros miss things in homes, and it’s better to have someone that does it for a living looking with you to see the issues. 
  • Although things may look normal to the untrained eye, a professional home inspector has specialized equipment that may uncover such conditions as water and mould issues.
  • Missed problems can result in large cash outlays.

IS HOME STAGING WORTH THE COST?

Again, across the board agreement, YES.

  • In some cases staging can turn a plain Jane house into a modern looking up to date home which in turn will likely produce a higher selling price.
  • Especially in a vacant home, staging better displays room sizes and layout.  In homes with less ideal floor plans, it allows potential buyers to see what can be done and envision themselves living there.
  • Having the property “show” ready will attract more potential buyers and ideally sell faster.
  • You will net 5-10 times more than you pay for staging for a nice looking house.  Not everyone can see “the potential”, so just show it to them.

DO I NEED A REALTOR®?

Of course, our answer is YES.

  • We represent your interests while negotiating the fine details of the agreement and the transaction.
  • A REALTOR® will guide you through the process; assist with the paperwork, market the property, negotiate, and take the stress off the seller or buyer.
  • Your home is your largest investment.  Navigating your way through a real estate transaction can be very complicated, from arranging financing, qualifying buyers, knowing what should and should not be disclosed.  Also a REALTOR® will know what is taking place in the current market and will help the seller price it right or make sure the buyer doesn’t overpay.

SHOULD I TALK TO A MORTGAGE BROKER OR A BANK?

YES you should, and using a Mortgage Broker seems to be the recommended choice.

  • Every buyer and seller should talk to their banker or mortgage broker prior to entering into a purchase or sale.  The buyer should be pre-qualified for a mortgage and seller needs to verify if there are any penalties with regards to their mortgage.
  • You should know what you can afford to avoid wasting time and facing disappointment. 
  • Either can assist.  Mortgage brokers shop all the lenders for you and are able to have plans B, C, and D ready just in case.  They also tend to be more accessible.
  • Mortgage Brokers can sometimes get better rates than bank employee pricing, plus they have a variety of products to choose from.

CAN I BUY A HOME IF I HAVE BEEN BANKRUPT?

Depending upon where you are in the bankruptcy process, yes it is possible.

  • You must be discharged from you bankruptcy.
  • I would recommend building your credit back first so that you aren’t susceptible to ridiculous interest rates.

DOES NEIGHBOURHOOD MATTER FOR RESALE?

ABSOLUTELY!

  • Location, location, location.  It’s all about what the neighbourhood offers that attracts buyers.
  • The best house in the worst area may sell well, but the best or worst home in the more desirable area will definitely appeal to more future buyers.
  • Location, location, location, but that said, more areas are in transition and being developed and  I’m seeing it now as location, renovation, location.
  • Certain neighbourhoods are more desirable and for different reasons.  Being close to transportation and shopping may be important to some while schools, parks, and hiking trails may appeal to other buyers.

ARE CORNER LOTS BETTER?

This is strictly personal preference.

  • Keep in mind in the city there could be more traffic and more upkeep to the property, such as snow removal from two sides.
  • Less privacy, less usable yard at times, usually more grass to cut and snow to shovel…

HOW MANY HOMES SHOULD I LOOK AT BEFORE I PICK ONE?

There is no right answer.

  • You will know within 15 seconds of being in a home if it’s the right one.  There is a feeling you get.  Could be the first house, could be the 101st.  
  • On average it seems to be 10-12.
  • There is no magic number, you will just know.
  • It does happen on the rare occasion that a buyer will buy the first house they viewed, however buyers often don’t really know what they are looking for or what they like, until they start looking.

 

My thanks to our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals members, Natalie Hashka, Daniela Tofano, James Mink and Gary Herron for taking time to provide their input on the above questions.  If you have more questions, or would like information, give one of them a call.  They will be glad to help you make an informed decision. They can all be reached at 905-522-1110.

You Truly Do Get What You Pay For

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Real Estate commissions are too high!  Discount brokerages beat this drum all the time, but is it true?  Is a full service brokerage charging too much for what they do?  Do discount or flat fee brokerages provide exactly the same service, and more importantly, results, as a full service brokerage?

Here is the breakdown of what our company, Coldwell Banker Community Professionals, a full service brokerage, does for every one of our seller clients as a MINIMUM STANDARD.

  • We will fully explain your representation alternatives, and how they will affect your sale
  • We will create, with you, a marketing action plan to get your property sold
  • We will provide you with a comprehensive Competitive Market Analysis (CMA)
  • We will show you various financing alternatives and how they may help facilitate the sale of your home
  • We will furnish you with an estimated net proceeds of your sale, to assist you in your future plans
  • We will help enhance your home, by developing  a plan to showcase your property and enhance its ability to attract buyers
  • We will present your property to the Coldwell Banker sales team
  • We will promote your property to other reputable, professional Brokers and Sales Representatives who service your area
  • We will place your property on the LOCAL Multiple Listing Service
  • We will create a marketing resource to promote the details of your property, including specific highlights and photos/videos of your property, and showcase it online
  • We will prepare promotional materials regarding your property and arrange for their distribution to target market areas to attract potential buyers
  • We will offer to place a Coldwell Banker Community Professionals FOR SALE sign on your property to help generate calls to our office from prospective buyers
  • We will review with you our comprehensive marketing program designed to generate buyer prospects for your property.  We will explain how our placement on multiple websites will maximize the exposure of your property to potential buyers.  We will also discuss how we track online activity and more…
  • We will provide you with regular Marketing Activity Reports on competitive market conditions, buyer activity and the actions taken to market your property
  • We will review with you the home finding process that buyers are most likely to follow including financial qualifications, property selections, financing options and closing procedures
  • We will seek financial qualifying information on all buyers submitting an offer to purchase on your property.
  • We will review all purchase offers as they are presented, and we will negotiate on your behalf to reach a purchase agreement with terms that are favourable and protective for you
  • We will monitor and inform you of the progress of the transaction including the satisfaction of all contingencies and conditions during the transaction
  • We will contact you after the closing to follow up on any remaining details or service needs
  • We will provide you with details of our relocation and referral services, which are available to you at no cost regardless of where you are moving

The above is a list of the basic services offered.  Many of our real estate professionals offer additional services, whether it be staging, or pre-inspections, for example.

Also, our sales professionals are trained in negotiation skills, ensuring you have a strong advocate for your needs at the time of an offer presentation.

These steps that our sales professionals take, ensure that sellers net more from their home sale by using a full service REALTOR®.  The increased sale price reflects the benefit having a real estate professional on your side can make.

To find out what we can do for you, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals today.

The Rollercoaster Ride of 2017…

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2017… a year to remember or a year to try and forget?

If you bought or sold a home in 2017,  you are no doubt looking back and asking yourself if you made the right timing decision.  If you were buying or selling  a home for you and your family, rest easy, yes you did…

Real estate is one investment that you are assured that if you buy for the long term, you have made a good investment.  Historically, real estate has held its value and increased in spite of it being a buyers’ or sellers’ market when you buy.

If you attempted to buy a home in 2017, and are still looking, relax.  The market is becoming a more balanced one, and more and more homes are coming on the market.  All indications are that it should be a robust spring market, with more homes coming on the market.  Prices are not expected to show the wild increases we saw in 2017’s spring and summer markets.

If you held off selling in 2017 because you were concerned whether you would be able to find a home to buy for your family, now is the time to speak to your REALTOR® and start planning for your move in 2018.  The increased number of homes expected to come on the market in the spring, should provide you with the confidence to plan your sale and purchase of  a new home.

Many home owners say they are waiting for the spring market.  Keep in mind, the spring market is not April… traditionally, the spring market in the Hamilton/Burlington area starts in early March. That said, the spring market has started as early as the first week of January some years, when there have been lots of buyers ready to make a purchase.

If you are looking for some advice you can rely on, please call one of our real estate professionals.  At Coldwell Banker Community Professionals, we believe a well informed buyer or seller is the happiest client.  Our sales professionals are ready to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.  And remember, we offer the Ultimate Service Guarantee!  If we are not providing the service we promise, you can terminate your buying or selling agreement.

Are You As Confused As The Rest Of Us?

Yes it’s a great time to sell your house… No, don’t sell now, prices are going up!

It seems every time you read an article in the media, you get a different story regarding how the real estate market is performing. The most important thing to remember when you are reading these articles is that real estate is LOCAL. Most articles provide information based upon Canada wide data, which does not reflect what concerns home buyers and sellers have about their own situation.

Some parts of the country are experiencing a decrease in prices and activity in the real estate market, whereas other areas, such as the Hamilton/Burlington area are experiencing a strong market, with stable activity and prices.

Government intervention has influenced the local markets this year. Policy changes such as the foreign buyer’s tax, and changing the mortgage rules for individuals trying to qualify for mortgages has made home buying a challenge for many. Further changes have been proposed for mortgage qualification that may affect still more buyers.

If regulations remove buyers from the market, it will have a levelling affect on home prices, as buyers leave the market. Also, as interest rates rise, the number of qualified buyers looking for homes will also decrease.

As for prices going up, I think most are in agreement that prices are levelling off, and competition for home purchases is happening far less frequently than it did earlier this year.

If you are planning to move, now is a good time to place your home on the market. The Fall is traditionally a strong market, lasting through to late November. The most buyers will be in the market prior to any further government intervention, and prior to any further mortgage rate increases.

Be sure to consult with a real estate professional prior to placing your home for sale. They can provide you with valuable information to help you receive the most money for your home, in the shortest time, and with the least hassle.

Our professionals as Coldwell Banker Community Professionals are always ready, and very able to help you out. Call one today!

Want to Make a Splash?

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HOT HOT HOT – That’s the summer forecast.

Does hot summer weather make you want a swimming pool in your backyard to lounge around, or just float in and keep cool?

Maybe it isn’t the summer heat that makes you long for a pool of water… maybe it’s the fun and relaxation you can get from having a Hot Tub.

Or, maybe you are the health conscious one who would love to have the Swim Spa/Lap Pool to exercise at home.

Each of these has its own appeal, and sometimes it’s hard to know which one is right for you. If you are considering adding one (or more) of these to your home, I have outlined some pros and cons below for each possibility, to help you get started on some summer planning.

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Pros:

– Great exercise for both adults and children
– For some families, a pool is a cottage replacement – vacation in your backyard!
– For the right buyer, they add to the attraction to buy a home
– A maintenance company can keep your pool pristine all summer.

Cons:

– They can be a danger for families with young children, or for non-swimmers
– They can tie you to your home instead of seeking other family outings
– They will be an obstacle to some buyers should you choose to sell your home
– They can require a lot of maintenance if you are taking care of it yourself

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Pros:

– Hot tub owners say these are a great stress reliever
– They can help reduce pain and inflammation of your joints
– They help with the recovery from injuries and muscles strains
– They provide a great winter experience

Cons:

– They can increase the risk of heat stress if the temperature is set too high
– If you have circulation issues, they can potentially cause health issues
– They can be costly to maintain
– Can lead to infections if not properly maintained
– They can be a hazard if you have young children

Swim Spa/Lap Pool   18-3-premium-swim-spa-with-deck-surround-day-time

Pros:

– Will fit in smaller backyards than pools (fit in limited space)
– Are more affordable than most backyard pools
– Provide a good workout (use swift current for lap swimming)

Cons:

– Not ideal if you want to host pool parties
– May not add value to your home should you choose to sell
– Can be a hazard if you have young children
– Require as much maintenance as a swimming pool

If thinking about putting one of these in your backyard is stressing you, but you really want one, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professional representatives to talk about selling your current home and buying one with your choice of water feature!

 

It’s Time to Celebrate!

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Our Ultimate Service Guarantee is 20 years old and we continue to receive rave reviews regarding our Service!

Our Ultimate Service Guarantee is for both Buyers and Sellers. When you list with our company, we provide you with a 22 point guarantee, outlining a level of service that we provide as a MINIMUM standard. If you are dissatisfied with the service provided at any time, you can be released from your Listing or Buying Representation agreement. We survey every client that buys or sells a property with our company and ask them to rate our service in a number of areas. These surveys result in individual sales representatives in our company receiving the Ultimate Service Designation. Our company has also been recognized as an Ultimate Service Provider, as so many of our representatives have attained the Ultimate Service individual designation.

We are very proud of our representatives, and want to share with you some of the comments their clients have made.
“Very happy re communication and work performance. Office staff very helpful and friendly”

“Sandra is awesome! She understood my needs and what I was looking for. She keeps me updated and and she is very diligent with her work. Overall, great experience finding my first home with Sandra and Coldwell Banker.”

“Daniela was very knowledgeable and helpful during the home buying process! We loved working with her and will and have told our friends and family about how great and professional she was!”

“Diane provides exceptional customer service. Responds quickly and very very competent.”

 

If you are thinking of buying or selling a home and want to receive the very best service available in the business, be sure to call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professional Representatives. We think they are the best in the business!

Is it Time to Break Out the Crystal Ball?

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Experts are starting to talk more and more about a housing bubble.

The most common questions I have heard lately are “Will prices drop if the bubble bursts?” and “Should I wait to buy? If prices drop I don’t want to lose money”

These are both valid questions, and the first one especially is hard to answer. A crystal ball would be a very helpful REALTOR® tool right now. There is much talk recently about the Ontario government introducing measures to cool the real estate market. One suggestion has been to introduce a foreign investor tax similar to what B.C. introduced last year. Since the introduction of the tax, the Vancouver market initially showed a drop, but has returned to a ‘normal’ growth rate. The success of such a measure is dependant upon there being foreign investors in the market. This is true of the Toronto market, but perhaps not as important in the markets surrounding the GTA, such as Hamilton. There have been other suggestions that would have varied affects on the market, but in general the outcome of any measure is a total unknown. Government intervention can often have unintended consequences.

The second question really has two answers, depending on why you are buying property. If you are an investor as opposed to a family looking for a new home, the answers might vary.

As an investor, you will make a buying decision based on the expected return from the property you buy, whether through rental income, or capital growth. In a market as heated as the Hamilton/Burlington area is right now, there is not a large inventory of investment properties that are currently providing a high return on investment due to the large initial payment and the servicing of the mortgage debt. Even if an investor bought with cash i.e. no mortgage, the return on the investment would be limited. If buying for capital growth, it is difficult to predict how much, if at all, the market will continue to increase. With year over year growth currently in the area of 30%, investors are questioning just how likely it is that such growth can be sustained, and if it cannot be sustained, how much potential is there for a drop in real estate values.

As a family (or individual) looking to buy a home, now may very well be a good time to buy. If you are buying a family home, you are generally not looking to sell in the next few years. Real estate over the long term has proven to be a very good investment. Even if the market does cool, and prices drop, history has shown us that the prices will recover, just not in a one or two year timeframe. Also, if prices drop and you decide it is time to move up, the more expensive home will be more affordable assuming it suffered the same percentage drop in value as your less expensive home.

Also, if you are planning to buy a family home, and there is not a cooling of the market, each month you wait increases the cost of homeownership, or reduces the number of homes that are available in your price range.

If you have questions whether you should be acting now or waiting, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals representatives. They will be glad to sit down with you and discuss your particular situation and needs.

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.