Getting the Most out of your Home


PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR INSPECTION

One step which is inevitable in the home selling process is a visit from a professional house inspector. The following are steps which should be taken to ensure your inspection is a success.

It is a good idea to be aware ahead of time of any serious problems which may be present in your home so you will be prepared to deal with them.

1. Ensure that past home renovations have not damaged the structure the home. Other structural damages to look for are whether termites have caused extensive damage, if settling of the home over time has caused damage to the foundation, and/or whether support beams and joists are strong and sturdy or cracked or otherwise damaged.

2. Ensure that the electrical and wiring systems are safe and acceptable. Loose wires or incorrectly installed or wired receptacles, switches or electrical box problems are all hazardous and should be corrected. All homes should have a minimum of 100 amp service.

3. Ensure there are no leaks evident. Water can run and leak into odd and unexpected places, causing extensive damage over time. If there are signs of water leakage, they can quite be often spotted by examining the underside of sinks and dishwashers, along ceilings, on floors or along basement walls. Plumbing fixtures, water-using appliances, drain pipes, water supply inlets and outlets and basements and roofs can all be causes and sources of water damage.

4. Ensure that safety issues are resolved in your home. Trim foliage which may impair a safe view of the area around the home, ensure that windows open easily and close and lock securely and that entrances/exits to the home are able to be securely locked. Hazards such as hidden curbs, loose railings and/or stairs, unused wells which are not capped, etc., should be corrected.

5. With respect to plumbing, ensure that all fixtures are in good working and free from large cracks. Faucets should run easily and shut off completely, proper grouting and caulking should be present around bathtubs, toilets and other fixtures should be bolted down securely and drains should be clog free. The home's water heater should be in good working condition also.

6. All heating and cooling systems may have to be checked to ensure they are relatively up to date, clean, in good working condition and have clean filters. Refrigerant should be checked in any air conditioning units and may require proper servicing.

7. Also, a general, unbiased overview of your home by a neighbour or friend may reveal matters which need to be dealt with that you may overlooked.

 

 

BUY FIRST OR SELL FIRST?

You own a house now, but you want to move to a bigger place or a different neighborhood. Should you sell your current home before you buy your next, or should you buy first, then sell your existing one? Though this is a very common question, there is no "right" answer. The answer depends on a number of things, but most importantly on how cautious you are.

Human nature being what it is, once the decision to move is made, people usually put a great deal of effort into finding the perfect home - sometimes without giving much thought to selling their current one. If, for a fleeting moment, they do consider whether to sell first, they figure they won't have trouble finding someone eager to buy their charming home, so they once again focus on buying. Then, once their offer on a house has been accepted, their attention shifts to selling their current home. At this point, however, they may begin feeling that the clock is ticking because naturally they'd like to sell before they take possession of the new house. Worse yet, fearing that time is running out.

Selling your existing home before buying another has its advantages. By selling first you know how much money you'll be getting on closing, which helps you establish a price range for the new home. Also, if you've already sold you don't have to make your offer conditional on selling your existing home. The down-side is that you may not be able to find a satisfactory replacement before the closing on your current home, which means you may need to find someplace to live temporarily. Or, you may be tempted to settle for something that isn't quite what you want.

Possible Strategies

Aside from your own personality and what risks you're comfortable with, when facing the dilemma of buying-first/selling-first, don't forget to take market conditions into consideration. Generally speaking, it makes more sense to but first in a seller's market ( that is, when prices are rising). The rationale is that if prices are going up, it is preferable to lock in the price of the home you want to buy, meanwhile allowing you to subsequently sell your home at a higher price (assuming the seller's market continues).

During a buyer's market (when prices are falling, generally it makes sense to sell first. That way, you lock in the amount you'll receive for your current home before the market falls further, and you're able to take advantage of further falling prices when you subsequently buy. Of course, knowing whether it's a buyer's market or a seller's market isn't always straightforward and, because it depends on a number of factors, the market can change quite quickly. Nancy can help determine what the market conditions are in your area and in the area in which you are looking to buy.

 

RENOVATING FOR RESALE

When it comes to home renovations, one plus one does not necessarily equal two. The money invested in improving your home will not always translate into an equivalent return in the selling price of your home. However, with planning it is possible to both increase the salability of your home and even profit from your home renovations.

Renovations do not have to be extensive or expensive to earn a high rate of return. In fact, one of the cheapest and simplest improvements yields one of the highest paybacks. According to a study (1999 Renovations and Home Value Survey) by the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC), a fresh coat of paint on interior walls returns an average 73 percent payback. So, a $1,500 paintjob could be expected to increase a home's selling price by $2,625 (a $1,125 profit).


To maximize salability ensure that your new décor is modern and tasteful. Choose shades of white and tame versions of popular colours. Steer away from too many personal touches and custom work if you plan to re-sell.

It is unlikely that your investment will be recouped and it may prevent the quick sale of your home. Also, try to keep renovations in harmony with the fashion of your neighbourhood.

The kitchen and bathroom are key areas to focus your renovation attentions. With average paybacks of 72 and 68 percent respectively, new fixtures, cabinets and tiles could be well worth the money and/or time and effort. The AIC's study highlighted the top ten renovations and the average rate of return:

  • Interior painting and décor - 73%
  • Kitchen renovation - 72%
  • Bathroom renovation - 68%
  • Exterior paint - 65%
  • Flooring upgrades - 62%
  • Window/door replacement - 57%
  • Main floor family room addition - 51%
  • Fireplace addition - 50%
  • Basement renovation - 49%
  • Furnace/heating system replacement - 48%

According to another study (Prepare to Sell by HomeGain.com in California) smaller changes to a home can also reap hefty rewards. Any addition that brightens your home (such as new light fixtures) should be returned in the selling price by an average 84% of the cost of the renovation. The HomeGain study also suggests cleaning and de-cluttering (594% return) and landscaping (266% return).

As an expert on home sales trends in your neighbourhood, your Remax Sales Professional can suggest which areas of your home could benefit from renovation and increase its value and salability.

PRICING YOUR PROPERTY

The single most important decision you will make is determining the right asking price for your property.

Once you've achieved a realistic sales price, you can count on your property being professionally marketed and promoted to bring more buyers to your door. You can also expect to sell your home for the best possible price in the lease amount of time.

The Benefits of Pricing the Property Right

  • Your property sells faster, because it is exposed to more qualified buyers.
  • Your home doesn't lose its "marketability."
  • The closer to market value, the higher the offers.
  • A well-priced property can generate competing offers.
  • The Realtors will be enthusiastic about presenting your property to buyers.

 

Staging tips

A Clean home is your Number 1 priority

Look at your home as though you’re seeing it for the first time. Is every room neat, spotlessly clean, dusted and uncluttered? Steam clean carpets and wax floors. Wash walls, heating and A/C vents and light fixtures. Pay special attention to your bathroom and kitchen – make sure that tile grout is mildew free and baseboards scrubbed. Clean the refrigerator and stove as well as the washer and dryer (inside and out). It may not seem fair, but a peak in theo overn may be the hallmark by which a buyer determines how well you have cared for your home.  Don’t forget about the windows! Make sure that all windowpanes, ledges and blinds are spick and span.   Consider how your home smells. You may be used to the smell of a pet or cigarettes, but such odors can be a strong turn-off to potential buyers.

Lose the clutter

Have a yard sale or take old furniture, clothing and knick-knacks to Goodwill. Organize shelves, put away items and purge your home of unnecessary items. Make sure that your kitchen and bathroom counters are free of small appliances and personal effects. Insure that your storage areas are tidy, and remove materials that may be to others who may not share your same views, beliefs or sense of humor.

De-personalize your home

Make your home "anonymous,” so that buyers can envision it as their potential home. Put away any family photos, sports trophies, collectibles, knick-knacks, and souvenirs. This will also help to remove clutter and create more space.

The Power of Paint

Adding a fresh coat of paint and laying new carpet will clean and brighten up your home. Choose neutral colours and make it consistent throughout the home. If you choose to wallpaper, make sure that the paper is properly applied, your colour choice is neutral and patterns are kept to a minimum.

First impression count

Like a first date or job interview, the first impression of your home is the most important. Walking into a home with fingerprinted screen door windows or cluttered entranceways, can influence the potential homebuyer’s decisions. Likewise, strong odours can ruin a sale, so pay close attention to pet, cooking and cigarette smells in your home. Light delicately scented candles or have cookies baking in the oven when you’re showing. Fresh flowers, especially in the spring and winter, can help to brighten and energize your home.

Curb appeal

Homebuyers decide whether or not to look inside a house by the appearance of your home’s exterior. Paint or wash the outside of your home. Check your gutters and chimney and make necessary repairs. Keep your lawns trimmed and flower beds weeded. Clear the driveway and yard of children’s toys and store away unsightly trashcans. Use urns to define walk spaces and ensure that window boxes are full of healthy all-season plants. Replace any broken or dated light fixtures and wash windows and ledges. If you have a garage, make certain that it is neat and clutter-free.

Create the illusion of space

To make your home seem more spacious, it is key to de-clutter and re-organize. Start by removing excess furniture to make rooms feel more open and replacing any items that are not appropriately sized for the room. For example, oversized couches, while comfortable, can make a room seem smaller than it actually is. Clean and organize your closets and remove excess clutter from all areas of your home. Store unnecessary items in an out of the way location or rent a temporary storage unit. Strategically placed mirrors can also help to create the illusion of more space.  The buyers need to be able to visualize themselves living in your space, too much clutter can be a distraction that makes it harder for them to achieve that vision. If you need some ideas visit a show home to see the levels of furnishings and decoration that is not too distracting.

Modern choices

Ensure that the décor of your home is modern and tasteful. Replace outdated furniture, wall coverings and window treatments. Use neutral tones on your walls and floors and add colour with removable items such as throw pillows or bedding. Steer away from too many personal touches to create a minimalist and contemporary space.

Define living spaces

Having a living room/office/dining room/ storage locker can be a negative to buyers, not having an obvious purpose for a room makes it look less useful. Rearrange furniture to create focus areas inside of a larger room, define the spaces through a good layout.

Security

Be certain to remove valuables such as jewelry and other items from view. It might be wise to put these items in a safe deposit box before showing your home.

Doggie don'ts

“Love me, love my pets,” doesn’t apply when selling your home. Take your pets with you when your house is being shown, or at least keep them outside. Pets under foot will quickly put a damper on an otherwise positive showing. While making sure that your house is odour-free and spotless applies to everyone, pet owners need to take special care. Be sure to empty and hide unsightly kitty litter, lint brush your furniture and put your furry friend’s toys, dishes and scratching posts away during showings.

Beautify your backyard

Don’t forget about your backyard. A house showing doesn’t always end at the backdoor. Beyond size and layout, potential buyers can also be influenced by the state of your yard. Keep the lawn, hedges and flowerbeds manicured. Try to recreate an entertaining area (even in the winter) by sweeping decks, cleaning and setting-up patio furniture and removing torn BBQ covers. Buy exterior storage containers to hide gardening tools, kids toys and pool supplies. If you have a pool, ensure that the cover is pulled back, that the water is inviting and the lining algae-free. Lastly, interested buyers may decide to look inside your shed, so make sure that it is organized and clean. 

Setting the Mood

On the day of a showing give you house a homey feeling, put out some live flowers and fresh guest towels in the bathroom. Place scented potpourri around the house or, pop a batch of frozen cinnamon rolls into the oven for a welcoming aroma. Remember, cosmetic changes do not have to be expensive, and giving the impression that your home is well maintained will help you get the price you want.