4 important tips for selling your home

4 important tips for selling your homeSpring is a popular time for listing homes.. Use these tips from the Real Estate Council of Ontario to get started.

  1. Research potential agents. You’ll want to find a registered real estate salesperson who is right for you. Shop around before you make a decision. You could ask friends, family or coworkers for recommendations. Once you’ve made a shortlist of salespeople, talk to at least three of them. Sit down with them and ask about their real estate experience, references, services they provide, and how much they charge.
  2. Look them up on the RECO website. Before you sign an agreement, read it and understand it thoroughly, and be sure to check out RECO’s online search tool. It will tell you if your salesperson is registered and if they have any disciplinary action against them.
  3. Decide on a selling approach. Many sellers are happy when their salesperson lists the home on the MLS, places a sign on the front lawn and shows it to interested buyers. Other sellers want more bells and whistles such as open houses, home staging, digital marketing or even advertising in high-end magazines. It’s important that you and your salesperson are on the same page when it comes to marketing and selling your home. Keep in mind that the fees may vary, depending on services provided. Be sure to confirm if extra services like home staging are included in your agreement or if there will be additional charges.
  4. Keep your home safe during open houses. An open house is an invitation for visitors to enter your home. Protect yourself by removing valuables and personal information, ensuring that guests are asked to show ID and making sure they’re accompanied at all times. If you don’t think holding an open house is right for you, tell your salesperson.

Find more information about your rights and responsibilities when buying or selling a home at www.reco.on.ca

 

4 tips to prep your house for the real estate market

4 tips to prep your house for the real estate marketWhether you’re selling or renting, it’s important that your home looks fresh and makes a good first impression with potential buyers or renters. Here are some tips to add value with little effort.

Paint outdoor trim. The elements can wear down painted surfaces over time making them look tired, but a fresh coat of paint can go a long way toward making your home stand out. Remember, the buyer’s first impression is extremely important. Try painting your outdoor trim and window shutters black to add drama to your exterior.

Preparation is equally as important outdoors as it is in, so use a quality painter’s tape like Painter’s Mate Green to protect windows and ensure a flawless finish. It can be used on many different surfaces and delivers excellent results, without the premium price point.

Swap out hardware. Upgrade the hardware around your home — including door knobs, drawer pulls and faucets — for an easy, stylish update. Enhance your kitchen cabinets with brushed nickel knobs to complement the moulding of the cabinetry to give the space a vintage look. A great choice for modern and contemporary kitchens is elongated stainless steel drawer pulls that enhance clean lines.

Refresh trim and baseboards. Clean up your baseboards and trim with a coat of paint to add new life into your home. A classic white works well as a no-fail option. White works well with both neutral and coloured walls for basic trim as well as more elaborate moulding styles.

Painting your baseboards is one of the top projects you can do and guarantees maximum results with only minimal effort. Begin by masking off the lower edge of the wall right above the baseboard to ensure a faster and cleaner paint job.

Neutral colours in common areas. Instead of giving in to the urge to replace everything in your home, consider some quick paint projects for your living room or kitchen to show off what you already have. A fresh coat of light-coloured paint helps the buyer envision themselves in your home, versus bold colours that may not fit their personal style.

Find more painting projects and tips online at paintersmategreen.com.

Top 5 tips for first-time homeowners

Top 5 tips for first-time homeownersBuying your first home can be exciting, but it is important to realize the slew of new responsibilities that come with owning property. Tasks that a landlord would take care of are now on your plate. Here are some to keep in mind:

  1. Neighbourhood by-laws. Many communities maintain regulations, such as maximum heights for fences, hedges and trees; building permits for decks; and rules for the construction of fire pits. To avoid an accidental misstep, check out the neighbourhood by-laws when you are moving.
  2. Maintain smoke alarms. According to the Canadian regulations, smoke alarms must be installed outside of each sleeping area and on each level. Maintenance of these devices include testing them every month, cleaning and changing their batteries as directed by the manufacturer, and replacing any that are over 10 years old.
  3. Check seldomly used bathrooms. Grime and dirt build-up can cause your faucets and toilets to malfunction or get damaged. Avoid this by running the taps and flushing the toilets of guest bathrooms occasionally.
  4. Curb appeal. Don’t forget to maintain your outdoor property as well. Take pride in your new home with a well-manicured yard. This may not be everyone’s favourite chore, but Stihl’s Lithium-Ion Homescaper Series can help in easing the load with lightweight and powerful tools making the job much easier.
  5. Emergency fund. Now that you own your home, you are solely responsible for any and all repairs. These can be costly, and often come by surprise. Avoid an unplanned financial burden by keeping an emergency fund for household maintenance and repairs.

Find more information about helpful tools online at stihl.ca.

4 important tips about buying a home

4 important tips about buying a homeIf you’re thinking about buying a home this year, there are some simple things you can do to make the process easier and safer. Check out these tips from the Real Estate Council of Ontario, which looks out for buyers and sellers.

  • Shop around before you start shopping. You’ll want to find a registered real estate salesperson who is right for you. You could ask friends, family or coworkers for recommendations. Once you’ve made a short list of salespeople, talk to at least three of them. Sit down with them and ask about their real estate experience, references, services they provide, and how much they charge.
  • Look them up on the RECO website. Before you sign an agreement, check out RECO’s convenient search tool to confirm that your salesperson is registered and to see if they have any disciplinary action against them.
  • Have “The Talk.” It’s critical that you and your salesperson have a serious discussion about your needs and expectations. If you don’t have the skills or resources to undertake serious renovations on a home, for instance, it doesn’t make much sense to look at fixer-uppers. Make sure your agent knows what you want, and don’t want, in your chosen neighbourhood. Avoid frustrations by having a full and frank discussion with your salesperson.
  • Understand what you’re signing. Don’t get left in the dark — whenever you are presented with a document, ask your salesperson to walk you through it, line by line. You might also consider hiring a real estate lawyer early in the process.

Find more information about your rights and responsibilities when buying or selling a home at www.reco.on.ca.

Moving on up: Should you buy or sell first?

Moving on up: Should you buy or sell first?In Canada’s evolving real estate markets, both buying and selling a home are very personal decisions. Add buying and selling at the same time, and the process becomes even trickier. The path up the property ladder is different for everyone and which to do first depends on your unique circumstances.

“Buying and selling a home at the same time is no small endeavour and involves extensive research and a clear understanding of all the steps involved,” explains Nicole Wells, vice-president of home equity finance at RBC.

Here are some things to consider before making a move:

Should I sell first? The upside of selling first is that you will know how much money you have to work with, and it’s also easier to get new financing when you need it. However, if there are delays or challenges finding the right new home for you, you may incur additional rent and storage costs in the interim.

Should I buy first? In this case, you will have time to plan your move and get your current home ready to sell. However, closing dates on both the purchase and sale may not line up and if your home doesn’t sell for a while, you’ll be stuck with two mortgages at once and a higher debt-to-income ratio.

Add a contract contingency. Whether you’re buying or selling, try to add a contingency to your contract that lines up the closing dates to bridge the in-between period. This isn’t always possible, as it depends on the market and whether the buyer/seller is willing to agree to an extended or reduced period of time.

Know the markets. Research prices in the areas where you’re buying and selling. Does the market favour buyers or sellers? This is the best way to decide which move to make first. As a rule of thumb, you want to sell first in a buyers’ market and do the contrary in one that favours sellers.

Consider rental revenue. Research the rental market in your area and calculate the cost versus profit ratio of renting out your home to tenants, rather than selling it. It could be financially advantageous, and real estate could be a great way to diversify your investment portfolio.

Find more information online at rbc.com/home.

www.newscanada.com

Your first home may not be your forever home

Your first home may not be your forever homeHome ownership is a goal for most of us, and millennials appear to be the most optimistic group. According to an RBC poll, two in five millennials said they intend to buy a home in the next two years. But the cost of home ownership and things like regulatory changes can make saving for a downpayment more difficult and, for many, put the dream of home ownership out of reach.

Sometimes, however, first-time buyers may not be looking at all their options. A little flexibility and compromise can help make ownership more accessible when considering the following:

Begin with a starter home. Few people spend 50 years in one home these days. Think about your lifestyle for the next five to 10 years and make a decision based on that. Your dream home in your dream neighbourhood may still be yours, just a bit later in your life.

Get a renter. Could you afford the home you want if you rented out part of it? Many people create a basement apartment or rent out a second bedroom as a way to offset their mortgage payments.

Consider co-ownership. Buying a property with family or friends is a great way to get your foot in the door. Discuss options with your mortgage specialist and be sure to establish a solid contractual agreement that will help avoid or mediate any future disagreements when selling the property, renegotiating terms or buying each other out.

Be realistic. Don’t expect perfection. Every home has some issues and you may have to compromise or decide what you can and can’t live with. What is a permanent feature versus something that’s an easy aesthetic fix? Set your priorities, but be realistic and flexible.

Be patient. Style your home slowly and resist the temptation to furnish it from top to bottom the day after you move in. Get creative with chic but less expensive, gently used furniture or pieces that may not last a lifetime but will save you money today.

Find more information online at rbc.com/home.

www.newscanada.com

Should you rent or buy a house for your student?

Should you rent or buy a house for your student?With high school students across the country deciding on their post-secondary education right now, where they will live while at school should play an important part in the decision. Given that more than two-thirds of post-secondary students plan to live away from home during their studies and parents often foot the bill, have you considered how much it will cost?

While many rent, some parents opt to invest by purchasing a home for their kids to live in while away. But when does this option make sense? According to Nicole Wells, vice-president of home equity finance at RBC, there are five questions you should ask yourself when deciding.

1. What is the market is like? The conversation will be different depending where the school is located. In a more urban market, prices may be high compared to smaller towns, where you might find a better deal. Is the market volatile or stable? Do your research first.

2. Do I want to be a landlord? If you’ll be renting to your kid’s roommates as well, make sure you look into the logistics and legalities of being a landlord. Are you prepared to handle the maintenance on the house? What if someone doesn’t pay their rent on time?

3. When do I plan to sell? Will you sell as soon as your child finishes school, or continue to rent it out? You may get more value by holding on to it as a rental unit. Being a university town, there likely won’t be a shortage of renters.

4. Who will benefit? Is this a short term play, or are you planning ahead for other siblings that might go to the same school? Think about holding onto the property for longer to gain more value and plan ahead.

5. Have I run the numbers? Calculate the break-even point and when you would see profit. Don’t forget to include “extras” such as maintenance, repairs, taxes and insurance. You also need to put yourself first and ensure you aren’t drawing on retirement savings that might put your future in jeopardy.

Find more information online at rbc.com/home.

www.newscanada.com

How to avoid real estate fraud

How to avoid real estate fraudAs housing prices climb in many markets across the country, real estate fraud can become a much more enticing prospect for scammers. While it’s one of the lesser known kinds of fraud in Canada, its impact can be devastating.

There are two types of real estate fraud that may result in financial losses — title fraud and foreclosure fraud.

Title fraud happens when a fraudster steals the title to a home — usually after stealing the owner’s identity — then sells the home or applies for a new mortgage against it.

Foreclosure fraud happens when homeowners having difficulty making their payments mistakenly turn to a fraudster, who convinces them to transfer their property title in return for a loan. Often, the fraudster keeps their loan payments and resells or remortgages the victim’s home.

Protect yourself from becoming a victim of real estate fraud with these simple tips:

Safeguard your personal financial information.

Contact your mortgage lender first if you are having difficulty making your mortgage payments.

Consult your lawyer before giving another person a right to deal with your home or other assets.

Research the company or individual who is offering you a loan.

Do a land title search with your provincial or territorial land registry office. This search will show the name of the property owner and any mortgages or liens registered on the title.

Consider buying title insurance to protect against title fraud.

Find more information online at canada.ca/money.

www.newscanada.com

Must-have guide for selling your home

Must-have guide for selling your homeWhen you put your home on the market, you want to be offered top dollar and enjoy a smooth seamless sale from start to finish. For the best experience, use this guide full of expert tips from the Ontario Real Estate Association.

Start with an expert. Realtors are experts in your local housing market; they know the current market conditions, local data and details about other houses in your neighborhood. A Realtor will help you price your home competitively and, if you plan to renovate, they can advise whether the expected return on investment is worth your time, money and effort.

Prepare your home. Create an environment that allows potential buyers to imagine themselves living happily and comfortably in your home. This means removing personal mementoes and photographs, presenting a clean and organized space, and keeping the décor neutral. If you’re selling during the winter, snow can hide backyard imperfections and the cooler weather is a great opportunity to showcase how cozy your home can be — light the fireplace, stockpile fuzzy blankets and use lightly scented candles.

Close wisely. Work with your Realtor to make sure the buyer’s paperwork is in order and any clauses are reasonable. Choose a closing date that’s convenient for you — for example, consider a closing date during the spring when the weather is nicer or on a long weekend so you have more time to move.

Find more information about selling your home and using a Realtor by visiting www.orea.com.

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

www.newscanada.com

Buying a home? 5 forms you need to understand

Buying a home? 5 forms you need to understandIf you’re house hunting this season, you want the process of finding and buying your dream home to be an enjoyable, stress-free experience. To help, we’ve made a list of five essential forms that you’ll encounter along the way.

Buyer Representation Agreement. If you’re being represented by a brokerage then you’re considered their client and this form outlines the legal agreement between you and your brokerage. It contains an explanation of the many items, including the services the brokerage will provide to you, fees for those services, the obligations you have as a client and the expiry date of the agreement.

Customer Service Agreement. If you prefer not to enter into a client contract with a brokerage, then you may choose to be a customer and will receive a different service than if you were a client. As a customer, you will be treated fairly & ethically and will be provided honest information while your Realtor takes care not to misrepresent any facts.

Confirmation of Co-operation and Representation. This form confirms representation or customer relationships between the brokerages and the buyers and sellers. This form also details remuneration to be paid. You’ll be asked to sign a CCR before making an offer or any negotiations on a property.

Agreement of Purchase and Sale. This form is used initially by a buyer when making an offer on a property. Once the offer is made and accepted, the offer becomes a legally binding contract. Be sure you understand what’s in your offer before you sign it. Agreeing on a price is important, but make sure you speak to your Realtor about other details like the possession date, conditional terms, and which chattels or fixtures will be included or excluded with the home.

Listing Agreement. This form is the agreement between a seller and their real estate brokerage. The Listing Agreement forms the basis for drafting an offer on a home and includes directions about negotiations.

Find more information about essential forms and using a Realtor by visiting www.orea.com.

www.newscanada.com