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Welcome To Our Real Estate Newsletter, May 2023

Five Questions To Ask Your Mortgage Broker:

If you're buying for the first time or refinancing and have never used a broker, you're probably asking yourself whether you need any help.

It's simple enough to apply for a loan; you can step into any bank and do that.

The challenge is finding the deal that best suits your circumstances.

Mortgage brokers offer a variety of loans from multiple lenders, so that's a wider choice than any single lender will give you. You don't pay brokers anything for their service as lenders pay their commissions.

While that minimises your risk, I've listed six questions you should ask a broker before giving them your business:

What's the lowest rate for me? The only relevant rates are those you qualify for. A broker's answer will depend on your income, credit rating and whether you're looking to buy a house or apartment. They'll explain the lowest rate can often come with the highest fees. So, stay open to all the possibilities they present.

Should I go for a fixed rate? Your mortgage broker will explain the pros and cons of going with a fixed or an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). They'll also talk to you about a split loan and other options, like an offset account.

What's my minimum downpayment? The answer can depend on each lender's approach to risk. If you can't raise a 20% down payment, you'll probably be required to pay mortgage insurance. Programs through CMHC or other insurers allow you to use a lower down payment but have a higher borrowing cost.

What are the fees? Your broker will explain the fees being applied to any loan they recommend. These may include penalties for switching loans mid-term or even paying off the debt ahead of schedule.

What's the deal with your commission? Don't be afraid to ask your broker how they earn their commissions and who's responsible for paying them.

I hope you've found these tips for using a broker helpful. If I can help you find the next home of your dreams or sell your current property, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sweet Smell Of Selling Success: 

Cookies baking in the oven has become a real estate cliché for using scent as a strategy to entice buyers to view your property favourably.

And there's science behind this approach. The sense of smell is part of our chemosensory system that has many functions, such as warning us of danger or igniting fond memories, such as mom making cookies.

As an experienced agent in our neighbourhood, I pay attention to a property's cleanliness and smell before it goes on the market.

If you're preparing your home for sale in the next few months, you should pay attention to the odours in your home (and we all have them), cleanliness and the clutter that collects as part of our daily lives.

Here are some tips to reduce problem odours and create a lovely ambience in your home, giving buyers the best possible experience.

Nix damp odour. The smell of dampness in your home speaks to larger problems, such as poor ventilation or even a deteriorating damp course. Consider a dehumidifier in living areas and moisture-absorbing products for the bathroom and under the kitchen sink.

Do the basics. Let's rattle these off: empty the garbage, remove pet beds, stash soiled laundry and remove anything nasty at the back of the fridge. When buyers walk through your home, they'll open drawers, cupboards and (yes!) even your fridge.

Carpet bombing. Hire a professional cleaner to eliminate odours in your carpets and rugs. You may not think this is required, but we all become oblivious to the smells of our own home.

Fresh linen. Put fresh linen on your beds before each buyer visits. Also, consider washing cushions and other soft furnishings.

Curtain drop. It's worth checking the state of your curtains, especially if you have a smoker in the house.

Neutralise odours. Many excellent products in hardware stores take away smells without adding to them.

Fragrance fancies. Adding subtle smells to your home can be beneficial. If you don't want to bake cookies, use essential oils in a diffuser. Be aware though that some people have allergies, so don't go over the top. Always opt for natural fragrances.

Airflow failsafe. In fine weather, open the windows before buyers arrive.

 How Colour Psychology Can Help You Sell Your Home:

We use colour to describe our emotions: she's feeling blue, he's red-faced, we're green with envy. Researchers say that colours play into human psychology and can even impact how we react to what we see, and what we want to buy.

How can colour psychology help you sell your home?

Soft yellow is associated with happiness and light, making it a great colour for family gathering areas, such as kitchens.

Light blues can create a feeling of tranquillity, like the ocean waves: relaxing and calming, terrific for bathrooms.

Greens are associated with nature, used to convey a feeling of peace and quiet and versatile for almost any room in the house.

Gray is a neutral colour, best used to connect spaces, such as hallways.

What colours should you leave off your walls? Avoid reds and oranges, colour experts recommend.           

Welcome To Our Real Estate Newsletter, April 2023

Sale Pending: what does this really mean?

For anyone looking to buy real estate or who loves checking out the homes around their neighbourhood, you may have wondered about a phrase often plastered on a signboard or online: "Sale Pending".

It's one of those strange phrases used in real estate that doesn't make sense to anyone with a passing interest in property.

As an experienced agent in your neighbourhood, I've often been told how potential buyers will see this phrase on a sign outside a home and then ring their agent to see if they can check the place out.

Now, let me tell you why purchasing that particular piece of real estate is a long shot.

When a "Sale Pending" sticker goes on the signboard, a deal will have been signed between a buyer and the seller, and there are just a few details to complete. Usually, they're 30 to 60 days away from completion.

These are the variables behind a "sale pending" statement.

Common interpretation. The deal is all but done, and it's a long shot for anyone else to come in at this late stage and snare the property. Though depending on the financing circumstances, the property could come back on the market.

Small details. Often, a sale or offer will be pending when there are still some outstanding contingencies, such as a building inspection that has yet to be conducted or repairs to complete. Financing is also a common condition on a pending sale.

Clock's ticking. If a signed contract exists, all efforts must be made to execute it. The property is out of play while these efforts are made. If, say, the buyer delays, or one side is unable to complete a condition, the property could simply return to market or potentially everyone could end up in court.

Seller frustration. Even though a deal is pending, a seller can be frustrated by a buyer's contingencies or delays, such as finding sufficient finance. If the relationship between the two parties is not great, an opportunity may open up.

Buyer's assurance. As the buyer, a "sale pending" sticker on a signboard should give you additional reassurance that you're approaching the end of the purchase cycle. Any rival buyers will likely back off now.

Simple Steps That Lead Buyers Down A Perfect Garden Path

It's a task many homeowners find one of the most daunting when preparing their property for sale: fixing a broken or cracked garden path or driveway.

When young families are searching for a property, they are looking for safe spaces for their kids.

Well-maintained gardens create a favourable impression and lift the potential asking price; so it's worth making a small investment to get it in great shape.

Even if you're not a DIY type, or you have more trust in a landscaper's skills, it's worth considering the small investment it takes to fix your path.

Clean area. Just like painting, preparation makes all the difference when laying pavers. You must pull out all the weeds and clear debris from the area you're going to pave.

Level up. Run a garden rake over the soil so it's level. Use a screed if you choose to lay sand as a base. Mark out the area you intend to pave using a can of spray paint.

Mix it up. It's time to mix the concrete, preferably in a wheelbarrow. Pour water until the mixture is stiff but malleable. If it gets sloppy, thicken it with more mix. If you're not using pre-mixed concrete, your mixture should be four parts sand to one part concrete.

Lay it down. Using a trowel, lay a bed of mortar for the first line of pavers. For extra adhesion, push special wire mesh into the wet concrete before the pavers go down. The mesh binds and strengthens it against temperature extremes.

Paver time. Place the pavers on top. Use a rubber mallet to tap the pavers so they're flush and level. For most styles, they should be no more than a couple of inches apart.

Get grouting. Insert grout between the pavers with your trowel at a 45-degree angle. Wipe away the residue with a damp sponge.

Grouting alternative. You can sweep an undiluted sand/concrete mix between the pavers and water it in. It's a faster method but if you take this route, use a soft spray (like a hand-pump spray) to avoid spreading the mix over your pavers. You don't want a concrete veneer over the top.

3 Easy Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring cleaning doesn't have to be a time-consuming or costly affair. Want to tidy your home without being overwhelmed? These tips can help:

  1. Designate and delegate. Give every member of the household a duty. Who said one person has to do all the work?
  2. Tackle one room at a time. The job seems more manageable when you break it down into smaller chunks.
  3. Don't do it all at once. It's ok to spread your spring cleaning out over a few weekends.

Before you start cleaning, you also might consider going through closets and storage areas for potential donations. Why clean items you don't need or use?

Welcome To Our Real Estate Newsletter, March 2023

Five Ways To Find Your Dream Home Faster

House-hunting requires time and effort and there's nothing more exciting than finding your dream home.

The best way to fast track this process is to make a list of your priorities before even stepping out the door to go and see a property.

Knowing your "must-haves" and nice-to-haves" helps ensure your agent only shows you suitable properties, and they can quickly rule out those that don't fit the bill.

Follow these top tips to help you navigate the property market and ensure your journey is completed as quickly and successfully as possible.

Your Budget. Organise a pre-approved loan as this will give you a budget. However, be aware interest rates are constantly on the move: they go up and down, sometimes in the same week. So, your final loan may be slightly more or less than your pre-approval.

Size Matters. Have a good idea of your next home's size. Talk to your agent about the square footage and number of bedrooms. Clarity here will prevent walk-throughs of properties that are too small. Of course, marrying the desired size with your budget will determine what you can afford.

Prioritise Location. Make a shortlist of desirable neighbourhoods and the amenities and services that should be easily accessible. It's best if you have several options because you can't always find the dream home on the perfect street in the ideal neighbourhood.

Style Guru. Your search can be even more precise if you decide on the style of home you're seeking. Are you looking for an older, established house or a newly-built apartment or home? Other essential factors might include parking, a garden and an outdoor entertainment area.

Don't Rely On Memory. Take notes on each property you visit, and keep the web address for the relevant online advertisements. Make a copy of your priority list and tick each element off as you see them. Ask for a floor plan. After you've visited four or five homes, they can start to blur into one. Your notes and the floor plan will help.

Home Staging Tips To Welcome Buyers

Staging can cost a few thousand dollars, depending on the size of your home and what's required. But it's worth considering as it can attract willing buyers and may add a substantial amount to your eventual price. 

It's not affordable for everyone, however, and it may be hard to measure its success; while you may achieve a great sale price, how do you know if staging was a factor?

If you would prefer to try DIY home staging, these ideas use your existing furnishings as a starting point.

Nothing personal. We want buyers to imagine themselves living in your home, so it's a good idea to take away photos and personal knick-knacks. De-personalizing is a hallmark of a professionally staged home.

Clean slate. Cleanliness is also core to staging. You don't want buyers to see any scuffs on the wall, or dust or dirt nestled in a corner or under the sink. If you're going to have a go at staging, clean your home from top to bottom. 

Crisp and bright. Dressing the bedrooms is essential. Rather than using a variety of existing linen, invest in clean white. sheets and covers to give every bedroom a uniform crisp, bright look. Change back to your usual linen once buyers have completed their walk-throughs.

White again. Keep the white theme going in the bathrooms, hanging clean white towels on the rails. Why white? Because it reflects the light in the room, making it appear bigger. If you opted for red or even black towels, these would distract the eye.

Drapes. Heavy drapes around your windows can shrink a room and block the light. So, modernise with bright and breezy drapes. They may not be practical for everyday living, but they'll help add the fresh and light atmosphere buyers seek in a modern home.

Mirrors. Placing wall mirrors strategically will reflect and increase the natural light coming into your home while also helping to make it feel spacious. Don't overdo it, selecting only areas where a mirror might reflect natural light.

Common scents. Another tactic you don't want to go overboard with is scent. A lovely smelling home is a great plus, but too much can put folks off, and even make some suspicious you're masking an unpleasant odour.

Setting the mood. Some stagers will suggest playing relaxing music as buyers conduct their walk-throughs. Get your agent's opinion on this one!

Ring in Spring with Family-Friendly Activities

Spring has finally sprung! Want to go enjoy the great weather with your loved ones?

Try one of these family-friendly activities:

Go on a picnic. Pack sandwiches, a blanket and a game, and head down to a nearby park or lake.

Take a bike ride. Head to a fun destination like an ice cream shop or playground.

Do a scavenger hunt. Create a list of clues and have your kiddos hunt down and snap photos of each item.

Happy Spring!

Welcome To Our Real Estate Newsletter, February 2023

Stay Alert And You'll Find Your Dream Home

When considering whether to enter the property market, it pays to keep an open mind when deciding to upgrade your home, downsize, or make your first purchase.

Rising property values and mortgage costs have made real estate a difficult market to read for some buyers. 

It's essential to be accurate with your research and the data you apply. Focus only on results in your target neighbourhood and filter them with the size and style of the relevant property. Even then, you'll only achieve an approximation of value.

The best approach is to seek an agent's appraisal of value and their reading on the neighbourhood real estate scene.

The ultimate factor in deciding whether to buy or sell should be your personal circumstances. It will always be an excellent time to buy if you're confident of long-term employment and can afford the price tag or mortgage costs associated with a purchase.

Don't try to over-read the market and attempt to pick the moment it might peak or trough; nobody can do that with guaranteed accuracy. Happy house hunting!

How To Tell If Downsizing Is Right For You

Selling your home for a profit and purchasing smaller, more suitable accommodation may be the smartest move for you.

For many older homeowners, lifestyles have changed over the years. Their kids will have grown into adults and moved out, and careers and work may be winding down. Rattling around in a large family home that still requires maintenance may not be the joy you imagined a decade ago.

But selling the family property has an emotional cost. Your home holds many memories, and letting it go to the highest bidder isn't easy.

Here are some things to consider if you are thinking of moving to a smaller place.

What is downsizing? It's a term that addresses the need of "empty nesters" to find a smaller property now their children have flown the coop and are forging their own lives. Once alone, either as a single or couple, you have little need for big gardens, four bedrooms or even to sacrifice your preferred location to be near schools.

Why downsize? There are a lot of answers to this question, and most depend on your circumstances. Perhaps you want additional cash to spend in retirement. Alternatively, the maintenance of a large property may be too much, or the utility bills to run a half-empty home seem wasteful. In your heart, you will know if and why you should downsize.

What are the benefits? Consider this question in the context of your preferred lifestyle now and into the future. Some folks love the idea of an over-55s complex with social programs, sports facilities, and medical facilities. Others who've lived in the suburbs want the bright city lights. When deciding whether to downsize, I recommend prioritising your lifestyle choices and being clear on how you wish to live.

Love is in the air!

It's February, the month when love is in the air — air that is soon to be filled with the fragrance of roses! So, why not fill your own space with love? Here are 5 little ways to show love in your life.
  1. Plan a family dinner. Eating together always brings those we love closer and allows time for great conversations.
  2. Leave little notes. Have someone special in your life, tell them you are thinking about them with a little note of appreciation.
  3. Bring home a favourite treat. We all have a hard day sometimes; let those you care about know you were thinking about them.
  4. Compliments. Feeling noticed and complimenting someone on a job well done will help them feel great and appreciated.
  5. Put electronics away. Putting down your cell phone and being present for important people can help create deep, lasting relationships.
When everyone takes part in bringing joy to others, the world becomes a much happier place!

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