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.

Renegotiating your mortgage?

Renegotiating your mortgage?There’s so much to think about when renegotiating your mortgage. You may be shopping around for the best rate, you may have to pay fees to switch lenders, and your bank will likely offer you a readvanceable mortgage.

Some banks bundle other financial products, like car loans or credit cards, together under a readvanceable mortgage — a term mortgage combined with a home equity line of credit. This is typically offered at an attractive interest rate.

While a readvanceable mortgage has its benefits, be aware of the fees that apply and the risks of tying different credit products together before signing on the dotted line.

HELOC debt is different than other forms of debt. Unlike a credit card or unsecured line of credit, a HELOC is secured by using your home as collateral. While HELOC interest rates are often lower than other forms of credit, they are variable. At any time, banks can demand that you repay your HELOC or increase your interest rate. If you can’t pay back the money you owe, you may lose your home or have no choice but to sell it.

Compared to a home equity loan — a lump sum loan with a fixed interest rate, term and repayment schedule — a HELOC works more like a credit card. Your available balance decreases as you borrow and increases as you pay it back, up to a certain credit limit. Some HELOC credit limits increase automatically as you pay down your mortgage.

To switch lenders the next time your mortgage is up for renewal, you may first need to repay all credit products tied together under your readvanceable mortgage. And there are additional legal fees you wouldn’t incur when moving a traditional mortgage.

When deciding your strategy, think long-term. Are you planning to use your home’s equity to fund your retirement? How long do you plan on staying in your home? How will you use your HELOC — for renovations, to invest, to consolidate higher interest debt, for emergencies, for a second home, for a vacation? How would interest rate hikes, job loss or illness impact your ability to repay your debt? Would a HELOC tempt you to use your home like an ATM?

If a HELOC is the right product for you, stick to a plan to pay it off fully and avoid continually borrowing against your home’s equity. Learn more online at canada.ca/it-pays-to-know.

3 ways to refresh your home for spring

3 ways to refresh your home for springLooking to update your home for the season but don’t have time or budget for a major renovation? Do it right with these three easy DIY paint projects that can each be done in just a day.

“The seasonal transition from winter to spring is the perfect time to freshen up,” says Sharon Grech, colour and design expert for Benjamin Moore. “If you’re like me, you don’t have unlimited time to devote to working on your home, which is why small weekend projects are perfect because they’re quick, easy and affordable.”

Hit refresh with paint. Nothing says refresh quite like bringing new life to a tired piece of furniture. A fresh coat of paint is the perfect solution to make old, dated furniture seem trendy and new. Look for pieces that have solid construction and interesting shapes. Grech says headboards, wardrobes, chairs and side tables are all great pieces to transform. If you are unsure of the condition of the furniture or how to paint it, visit a local paint retailer to ensure you get the product that is right for your project.

Amaze with an accent wall. Feature walls are a great way to make an impactful change to a space. “Many people think accent walls need to be very bold and vibrant hues, when they can be neutral to create a more cohesive and harmonious feel,” says Grech. Explore painting the fifth wall, otherwise known as the ceiling, for a unique and modern look that can add dimension to a space.

Front door décor. The front door has the ability to instantly create an inviting impression before guests enter your home. “Applying a fresh coat of paint to your front door is a great DIY project that can be done quickly and can invigorate the look and feel of your home,” says Grech. “Because it’s so easy, you can even change your door colour seasonally.” Benjamin Moore’s Aura Grand Entrance collection, inspired by European enamel finishes has more than 42 curated colours.

Find more information at www.benjaminmoore.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.

Smart ideas when designing small spaces

Smart ideas when designing small spacesAs homes become smaller and we adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, interior décor is offering fresh solutions to furnish tighter spots. Here are some big ideas to maximize your mini space.

Consider your routine. Be realistic about your daily habits and how you use the space so you can prioritize furniture and layout. Do you really eat at the dining table, or do you bring your plate to the couch? Do you work from home, or can you do away with that stately desk? Make your floor plan work for your lifestyle and you’ll free up space in unexpected places.

Set rooms apart with colour. Developing a unique style for each space can create the feeling of a larger home. Give every room a distinct colour palette that you use from the walls to the accessories, so that each feels defined and distinct with its own mood and character.

Go vertical. One of the biggest mistakes people make in tiny living spaces is neglecting everything above eye level. But this leaves out valuable square footage. Utilize empty walls for added shelving and hanging storage, wall-mounted lighting and even a vertical herb or flower garden.

Spread the light. Natural light can make everything look brighter, bigger and more inviting. For a seamless look at the window, choose pared down designs and add visual interest with beautiful fabrics. Sonnette cellular roller shades from Hunter Douglas combine the energy-efficient construction of a cellular shade with the clean lines and simplicity of a roller shade. The innovative curved shape gently diffuses light, providing ambiance to all angles of your room.


Spring cleaning your closet

Spring cleaning your closetCanada’s intense and often volatile weather can prove to be a challenge when we are getting dressed. Closet space is precious, so many of us pack away our off-season wardrobe staples.

Here are some tips for keeping your closet clean while you stay comfortable and chic, no matter the weather:

Keep it organized. Stow away your off-season clothes in clear, air-tight plastic containers or vacuum storage bags. These are relatively inexpensive and will prevent moisture getting in, stopping musty smells and mould from clinging to your clothes. It will also help you identify what you packed and where.

Don’t pack it all away. Keep some staple pieces handy so being ready for a chilly, late-spring day is easy. For example, a chunky knit will keep you warm over a floral dress.

Keep on top of your laundry. It’s important to make sure clothes are clean and fully dry before they get packed away for the season. If you’re in the market for new appliances, LG’s SmartThinQ washers and dryers can be controlled from your phone while you’re away from home. The app will notify you when your cycle is done, helping keep your spring cleaning on track.

Clean out your closet. You can part ways with old or ill-fitting clothes by donating them to charity. Throw away old underwear and socks and sweep out your closet’s floor and shelves to keep them tidy.

Find the latest home appliance technology at www.lg.ca.