Is Now a Good Time to Buy a Home?

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There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. It is not always a good time to buy depending on your stage in life and your future plans.

The recent changes in the mortgage qualification rules have either taken some buyers out of the market entirely, or reduced the price of the property they are qualified to buy. This has prompted some buyers to become creative, whether by having family or a friend go on title of their new property, and be included in the mortgage calculation, or by borrowing money to increase the downpayment to over 20% to avoid the higher threshold of qualification. Both of these approaches have their risks, and should be carefully considered before using one of them to buy a home. It is possible that now is not the time for you to buy. Perhaps taking more time to increase your downpayment, or time to consider what you really need in your new home is the right approach. It is possible that a lower price home may be the right fit for you right now.

Some ‘experts’ are predicting that home prices will ‘adjust’ (as in decrease) due to the new mortgage rules, as fewer buyers will be able to qualify at the current price levels. We have not seen this happening in the market as of yet, but it is possible. We are seeing less competition for homes compared to the frenzy we saw through the spring and summer.

If you are fortunate to not be subject to the rules for less than 20% down, now may very well be a great time to buy a home. If you are at the stage in life of downsizing, you can maximize your sale price on what is likely your biggest asset, and reinvest in a lower price home. If you are upsizing, it is hard to beat the current mortgage rates that are being offered. One of the big banks just increased their mortgage lending rate, but we have not seen any others as of yet. The Bank of Canada has indicated that they may even decrease the bank rate, which might result in lower still mortgage rates (hard to imagine!)

If you are an investor, with mortgage rates where they are, and the number of people in the rental market, now is a great time to buy that duplex/triplex etc.

As you can see that answer to the question I posed is perhaps. There are many things to consider. How long do you intend to live in the home you are buying? Are you starting a family? Are you retiring soon. These are just some of the questions to ask yourself. The best way to find out what is the right answer for you is to call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals and discuss your current wants and needs, and perhaps even more important discuss your future plans. They will help you determine what you can afford to buy, and if it is right for you. It costs you nothing, but may very well save you a lot of heartache in the future.

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.

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.

Green Acres is the Place to Be!

farmhouse-exteriorAre you a closet Eddie Albert? Is the country calling your name?

While there are more urban than rural homes sold in any month in the local market, a large physical area of the Hamilton/Burlington market is rural. With properties ranging from about 1/2 acre up, country living offers many things that urban living cannot.

You do not need to travel large distances to be in a rural setting, and the amenities offered differ greatly from city living. There are pros and cons to rural living, and you need to consider it carefully before deciding to make a change.

Here are some of the pros that come to my mind.
– The quiet of being away from the bustle of the city
– Farm markets at the doorstep, or maybe even the backyard
– The ability to have nature at your doorstep
– If you are so inclined, raising livestock – chickens, goats, little donkeys…
– The darkness at night – no street lights to hide the stars
– Fresh air – maybe with a tinge of livestock thrown in
– Fire pits, where friends and family can gather

But, one must also consider the cons…
– In a rural setting you will not have municipal water or sewers. You will need to become   familiar with wells, cisterns and septic systems
– You need to consider having a generator for power outages to keep the above systems running
– Natural gas may not be at your doorstep, or anywhere nearby
– You are not next door to schools, transportation and shopping (could be on the pro list too)
– The properties are larger and require more time and effort to maintain
– In winter a storm may have you captive at home, until roads are cleared (and you clear your longer driveway too)

These are just a few pros and cons that come to my mind. You may think of many more on either side of the question. If you would like to see what the local rural market has to offer, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals. They will help you consider all your options.