Whether you plan to flip a house, hold the property as a rental or go for something entirely different: Everything begins with a great deal. Here are four simple tips you with the help of your real estate agent can use to find better deals on your real estate search, whether you're looking for an investment, a property for your business or simply a home for your family.
1. Be the first . . . or the last.
Oftentimes, it’s not the highest offer for a property that gets accepted, it’s simply the first. Therefore, if you are looking for a great deal, be quick about it! Get a pre-approval from a bank so you can jump at any property right away, and have your real estate agent set you up with automatic email alerts notifying you of any new property that hits the market.
Then, don’t delay -- check it out quickly, and ask your agent to make an offer the same day if possible.
Conversely, another way to find great deals is to look for properties that have been on the market for a long time. Those owners are often far more willing to sell for a discount, because they are tired of holding on to that property. Many times, they will have been making two mortgage payments for months (or years) and will entertain almost any offer.
2. Consider buying a bank-foreclosed property.
When someone fails to pay a mortgage payment for an extended period of time, the lender will ultimately repossess the home and remove the occupants. Once the home is empty, the lender generally lists the house for sale on the market, using a local real estate to list it. These properties can be some of the best deals you’ll find in real estate. Banks want to be in the business of lending money, not managing property, so they are often quick to offer large discounts just to get the deal off their books. Talk to your real estate agent about the foreclosures in your area, and start checking some out with them. You might be surprised at the deals you can with the help of your agent, as most Real Estate agents are skillfull at settling foreclosed properties.
3. Approach absentee owners on a personal level.
In a hot real estate market, like the one most of the United States is experiencing today, great deals can be hard to find because of the large number of people looking for a home. In some areas, a single house for sale might get a dozen or more offers in the first several days. Therefore, one of the best tactics you can use today is to get in contact with owners, asking them to consider selling to you. With the help of your real estate agent create a presentable email or personal letter for the owner of the property, with an aim to convince them to prioritize your offer.
4. Look at a lot of deals.
Finally, understand that finding good deals is largely a “numbers game.” Look at deals in terms of a funnel. At its top, numerous leads come in, but at the bottom, only a few come out. Therefore, if you want more deals at the bottom, you need to improve each aspect of my funnel, including the quality and number of leads at the top. For example, your funnel might look like the following:
- Raw leads from your real estate agent -- 200
- The location is somewhere you would buy -- 100
- A quick analysis shows promise -- 20
- A deeper estimation still shows promise - 10
- Deals your agent had made an offer on -- 8
- Offers you've made that have been accepted - 1
Notice that, at the end you and your agent might end up making offers on only eight and only one offer was accepted. If you wanted to buy two properties, I know you'd need to look back on your funnel and find a way to increase your numbers. Because, again, it’s just a numbers game.
You're a new homeowner — congrats! The hardest part is over. But the all the expenses may not visible to you just yet. There are several often overlooked fees and expenses that new home owners might miss. We would like to list some of the expenses on the list of hidden housing costs to help you get prepared. It may be time to start financial planning for the costs that may have to be taken cared of down the road.
1. Moving Expenses
Your belongings have to get from A to B somehow, but have you considered the method?
If you plan to enlist the help of your friends, you'll save a huge chunk of change, but if you have more than a few truckloads, it's probably best to hire movers. Depending on how much stuff you have, how many flights of stairs the movers are going up and down, and the distance they need to travel to deliver it, the cost may vary.
2. Furnishing All the Rooms
Your eyes opened wide to the four-bed, three-bath colonial when you first saw it — all that space! But those rooms aren't going to furnish themselves. This is important to keep in mind if you're coming from a much smaller dwelling. You likely don't have enough furniture to outfit the entire new home, which means you'll have to buy new items to make it livable. Beds, dining tables, couches, sofas — any or all of these may be required.
3. Window Treatments
New homeowners are always shocked at the price of window treatments. The average cost of a very basic blind or shade for a medium-sized window is normally around $500. Most homeowners should budget around $1,000 per window as a good rule of thumb. However, the cost can increase significantly for very large or tall windows or windows with non-standard shapes like arches. If you are interested in using custom fabrics or other features such as motorized shades, expect much higher costs per window.
4. Utilities and Other Day-to-Day Usage Expenses
If you previously lived in an apartment where your utilities were included in the rent, it may come as a shock, your first few months of energy usage. Gas and electricity isn't cheap, and if you've been taking advantage of the built-in amenities that your rent covered, you better brace yourself. To make the transition smoother, ask the seller if you can see a copy of a recent utility bill so you can somewhat prepare. Tread lightly initially, too. Stay conscious of lights, heat and A/C running only when necessary to help slow down the speed at which you're accruing new bills.
5. HVAC Inspections and Upkeep
Heaters and air conditioners are crucial to climate-controlled living. Of course, it's wise to ward off major catastrophes with annual inspections — which will still cost you — but not nearly as much as early replacement of a furnace or A/C unit that's been neglected.
6. Termite and Pest Treatments
Before you move into your new home, you should get the all clear that it's termite-free. Your inspection will reveal the pests, and it should fall on the owner to address the problem. If not, you have the right to walk away. That's not always the case, however. The owner is not required to rid the house of pests, but only to disclose the existence of the pests. If you choose to move forward with the sale knowing there's an active pest problem, the problem is on you if it's not negotiated that it will be exterminated by the time you move in. You also want to check for roaches, ants, mice, rats and bedbugs. None of these critters are signs of good fortune.
7. Landscaping and Other Outdoor Maintenance
You can cut costs on having to pay for someone else to do it, if you do some of the work yourseld, but draw the line between mowing the lawn and other yard maintenance. It may be wise to bring in the big guns to do the dirty work, and it may cost about $800 a year. Other hidden costs to new homeowners can include, but aren't limited to: snow removal, roof maintenance (which can be a huge expenses if there's a serious problem),
Also, if you prefer to let someone else take care of your lawn, be sure to include that cost in your monthly housing budget. Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind a well-landscaped lawn can easily boost the value of your home by 10% and a lousy looking lawn can cause you to lose money when you're ready to sell.
8. An Eventual Increase in Property Taxes
While you should be aware of your expected property taxes before you purchase the home, you may not expect the rate at which they will increase over the years. When you buy a home, most sales are reported to the taxing authority, which means your property taxes will be raised to the value — or the price you paid — for the house. For many buyers this can be a 20% to 30% increase in their property taxes.
9. Homeowner's Association Dues
If you're moving to a fancy neighborhood, you most probably will see that there's a homeowner's association that may require you to pay up to be part of the club.
There's no real way to prepare for things like this, but it's certainly something to consider before buying a house.
Buying a new home is an exciting time. However, within the process of decorating your new space or picking a new paint colour, there are few maintenance measures you should be doing too.
1) Seal Up Your Windows:
This simple project can save you lots of money on you energy bill. If you've noticed chilly spots near windows in your home, you might have an air leak. Before you start caulking, clean the area around your windows thoroughly, and remove all the old caulking with a putty knife Apply you caulking to all the points of window frame with one continue stream, avoiding starts and stops. Work deep into the cracks, and if you caulking oozes out, use a putty knife push to push it back in and smooth it out.
2) Check Your Gutters:
If this project is ignores, clogged gutters can cause serious damage to your home, including to your foundation and being torn away from your home completely. Experts suggest to clean our your gutters on a quarterly basis if you have lots of trees on your property. If you don't have many trees, you would only need to clean your gutters twice a year.
3) Have a Toolbox Handy:
Every home should be equipped with a toolbox. When issues arise or when you take on a home project, you'll need your toolbox. Fill it with the essentials, including a tape measure, level, hammer, nails and any power tools you might need.
4) Watch For Pests:
Pests can cause serious damage to your home, which is why it's important to know the signs of an infestation before it becomes an expensive problem. Take preventative measures, such as sealing up entry points, eliminating water sources and keeping food stored properly in sealed containers, to deter pests from coming inside. However, sometimes, preventative isn't enough; if you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact a local pest control professional.
Sources: Lauren Topor's weblog.
As you’re probably aware, the list price you set for your property has an impact on how quickly it sells — and how much you earn on the sale.
What you may not realize is just how significant an impact it has. Consider the following examples.
You price your property well above its current market value. As a result, many buyers don’t bother to see it because it’s outside of their price range. Those who do see it are confused by the high price tag, (and may even be suspicious.) They may wonder, “What’s going on?”
In this scenario, the home will likely languish on the market for weeks or even months. You might even have to lower the price dramatically to re-ignite interest.
You price your property just a couple of percentage points lower than what is necessary to gain the interest of qualified buyers. That might not seem like much of a problem. How much can a couple of percentage points matter?
Those points matter a lot.
On a $400,000 property, pricing your home just 2% lower than necessary could cost you $8,000 on the sale. That’s a serious amount of money!
So, as you can see, pricing your home right is serious business. Fortunately, a good REALTOR® knows how to set the right price.
When you’re out-of-town, there are plenty of kennels and other facilities that will mind your dog or cat. In fact, the pet-care business is booming! However, the same options aren’t available for your houseplants. So what do you do?
First, keep in mind that plants can go for several days or even a couple of weeks without water. This frequently happens in their natural habitats. So if you’re gone for just a few days, your flora will probably be fine.
Flowering plants tend to need the most water. Give them an extra dose just before you leave. Also, make sure they are in indirect, rather than direct sunlight. That will help them conserve water.
If you’re going to be away for a week or more, consider one of the several products on the market that water plants automatically. Many of these allow you to adjust how much water each plant gets — and when.
You’ll find plenty of do-it-yourself instructions for making your own automatic waterer on the internet, from plastic cups with tiny holes in the bottom to upside-down bottles with wicks. These might work, but you’ll want to test them first.
Of course, your best option might be to have a friend or trusted neighbour take care of the plants for you. Just be sure to give them clear instructions.
Your houseplants will thank you.
When you make an offer on a home, it’s a smart idea to have a professional home inspector check it out from top to bottom. This inspection will ensure that the property doesn’t have any unexpected “issues”. After all, you don’t want to buy a home only to discover that the roof needs to be replaced, immediately, for thousands of dollars.
That being said, you might question whether you really need to invest the few hundred dollars it costs for a professional home inspection. “The home we want to buy looks like it’s in very good shape,” you might be thinking. “I can’t see anything wrong with it.”
However, a professional home inspector can see things you can’t. When you view a property that’s on the market, you might be able to notice obvious issues, like a crack in the foundation or a dripping faucet. If you’re experienced with home maintenance, you might even notice roofing tiles that look like they’re overdue for replacement.
But you won’t pick up all the issues a home inspector can.
A home inspector will, for example, use a special device to check for moisture build-up in the washrooms – which can be an indication of mould. He or she will also inspect wiring to make sure everything is safe and compliant with the building code.
That’s not all.
Like a determined detective, a home inspector will investigate the property’s structure, electrical and plumbing systems, insulation, and other components — and then report the findings to you.
In the end, a professional home inspection gives you peace-of-mind and protects your investment. So getting one is highly recommended — even for recently built homes.
Many homeowners think there’s not much they can do about telephone, heating, water and other utility expenses. Sure, you may grumble about a high heating bill one month, but what can you do about it?
Turns out, you can do plenty. There are several ways to reduce monthly utility costs that can save you tens or even hundreds of dollars. For example:
- Shop around for a better phone plan. Then contact your phone company. They might match the rates.
- Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. You likely don’t need tap water to be that hot.
- Clean the screen on your outside air conditioning unit regularly. (Gently with the water hose.) Dirt and leaves can build up on it, reducing the unit’s efficiency.
- Leverage the sun. Open curtains in the winter to gain heat. Block direct sunlight in summer to keep the cool air inside.
- Scrutinize your bill. There may be extras you’re paying for that you don’t need.
- Play with the thermostat. Experiment with setting the temperature a couple of degrees lower. You might not notice any difference.
It’s worth paying attention to your utility costs. Just a few smart moves can save you some serious money.
One of the most important decisions you make when selling your home is setting the listing price. That can be tricky. After all, if you price your property too low, you leave money on the table — perhaps thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if you price your home too high, many buyers won’t even bother to see it, believing it is too expensive.
Even with that reality, there are some sellers who contemplate setting a high listing price in the hopes of a windfall. They want some unsuspecting buyer to fall in love with the home and buy it — even though it’s overpriced.
That rarely, if ever, happens.
Instead, the listing often languishes on the market because its listing price is conspicuously much higher than its market value.
Think about it. If two similar homes, side-by-side, are for sale, and one is priced $40,000 higher than the other, wouldn’t you wonder what was going on? That’s exactly what the market thinks. “Why is that home priced so high?”
Of course, many buyers, who might otherwise be interested in the property, won’t even consider seeing it, simply because it’s outside their price range.
It gets worse. When an overpriced home sits on the market with no offers for several weeks, the price will often need to be adjusted down. That helps the situation a little. However, you’ve lost the excitement created by a “new listing.” Yours is now an old listing struggling to get attention.
There’s a better way…
Setting your list price at or near the market value is much more likely to generate interest from qualified buyers and maximize how much you make on your home.
That market value may even be higher than you think!
When would you talk to a car salesperson? Probably only once you’re ready to buy a new car. You would do some initial research (perhaps on the internet), get an idea of what you want, and then go to the dealership to meet a salesperson, test drive the car and make the purchase.
Although that approach may work when you’re buying a car, it’s not the best approach when it comes to real estate.
You see, successfully buying or selling a home requires a lot of planning and legwork. You want the process to go smoothly, the right decisions to be made, and the best possible deal to be negotiated.
After all, this is the purchase and/or sale of your home!
So, the best time to talk to a REALTOR® is as early in the process as possible.
In fact, even if you’re just thinking of buying or selling — and simply want to explore the possibility of making a move sometime this year — you should have a conversation with a good REALTOR®.
A REALTOR® will answer your questions, provide you with the information and insights you need, help you avoid costly mistakes, and make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
When you are ready to buy or sell, having worked with a REALTOR® early in the process will help ensure you get what you want.
So talk to a good REALTOR® when:
- You have a question about the local market.
- You want to know what your home might sell for today.
- You’re interested in checking out homes currently available on the market.
- You’re in the midst of deciding whether or not to make a move.
- You’ve decided to buy or sell.
You may love animals, but with the exception of your family pets, you don’t want them in your home. Here are some tips for keeping the wildlife around your property where it belongs: outside.
- Don’t place bird feeders too close to your windows. Doing so may cause birds to associate a window with food and therefore try to peck their way inside.
- Make sure window screens are secure. If you can push a screen loose with your hand, so can a bird or other animal.
- Check screens on dryer vents and chimneys. If they are damaged, fix or replace them.
- To determine how animals are entering your home, stuff wadded paper in the suspected entry point. If the paper is disturbed the next day, you’ll know where they got in.
- Never leave food outside, unattended. After a barbeque, for example, take all remaining food inside.
If you do find an animal in your home, never try to pick it up. It may bite or have rabies. Instead, call a professional.
You’ve no doubt noticed the occasional news report about a product being recalled for safety reasons. For example, a car model with a brake problem, or a children’s toy that, under some circumstances, may cause injury.
You may not know that these news reports are merely the tip of the iceberg. For each product recall you hear about in the media, there are dozens that get little, if any, publicity.
That means there may be products in your home that have been recalled — and you don’t even know about it. It’s a scary thought.
How do you find out about recalled products that may affect you? Here are two tips.
- Always complete the registration that comes with many products. This is typically done by mailing in a registration card or filling out an online form. When you register, you’ll be alerted by the manufacturer if the product is recalled for any reason.
- Both Canada and the United States have agencies that list recalled products on their websites. In Canada it’s the Healthy Canadians website at www.healthycanadians.gc.ca. In the United States it’s the Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.CPSP.gov. It’s a good habit to check these sites every season.
If you discover that a product in your home has been recalled, contact the manufacturer immediately. Never assume that the reason for the recall won’t apply to you.
When you put your home up for sale, you want it to look its best to potential buyers. That’s why you clean, tidy and de-clutter every room.
Some sellers, however, miss the backyard. You need to pay just as much attention to that space as you do to the interior of your home. The backyard is as important a living space as the family room. To some buyers, even more.
Buyers want to see an attractive backyard space, with the grass cut and the hedges trimmed. The more neat and tidy you can make it, the better. Be sure to sweep walkways and wipe down patio furniture.
Also, watch out for the following things that buyers do not want to see:
- Bags of garage and other waste.
- Doggie do-do. (Be sure to stoop and scoop!)
- Rakes and other tools piled in the corner.
- Cluttered and disorganized storage sheds, pool huts and other backyard structures.
- Weeds in the flower beds.
- Items stored underneath the deck.
- Hoses not stowed neatly.
- Electrical outlets and water faucets that don’t work.
These are not difficult issues to fix. Doing so will positively impact the impression the buyer gets of your backyard.
Do you have a backyard that shows particularly well in the summer? Here’s a tip: Take pictures. Those photos will help buyers be able to appreciate how it looks should you list your home in the winter.
If you take care to price your home correctly — that is, at a price that is in line with what similar properties in the area have sold for recently — then you have a good chance of selling it at or near your asking price.
That doesn’t mean you won’t get a low-ball offer. You might. So what do you do when that happens?
First, understand that the buyer may not necessarily be trying to steal away your home at a bargain-basement price. He might simply be mistaken about its true market value. Of course, he might also be coming in at a low price in the hopes he’ll get lucky.
You will never actually know the buyer’s motives. So it would be a mistake to get angry or dismiss the offer out-of-hand. That low-ball offer might end up being the beginning of a negotiation that results in you selling your home at a good price.
Your first step is to work with your REALTOR® to determine:
- How serious the buyer is.
- How qualified the buyer is. (For example, does he have a pre-approved mortgage?)
- How amenable the buyer is to a counter-offer that reflects the true market value of your home.
- What that counter-offer should be.
This isn’t an easy process. It takes knowledge and experience to get it right. That’s why working with a good REALTOR® is essential.
If you see a haze of condensation on your window, should you be concerned? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on a number of factors.
First of all, an occasional build-up of condensation is normal and often the result of fluctuating humidity in the home. Usually, it’s nothing to worry about. If you’re using a humidifier, try adjusting the levels. If the humidity is being generated naturally, try placing a dehumidifier nearby. Also, remove any plants and firewood from the area, as they can release a surprising volume of moisture into the air.
Do you see moisture in between the panes of glass that make up the window? If so, that means the seal has failed and moisture has crept in. Double and triple pane windows often contain a gas (argon, for example) that boosts the insulating qualities of the window. When the seal fails, the gas disappears, making the glass colder and often allowing condensation to creep in. Eventually, you’ll want to get it replaced.
If you see moisture build-up anywhere on the frame of the window, particularly at the joints, that could be a sign of water leaking through. That’s an issue you should get checked out immediately by a window contractor.
There are many reasons why the air quality in your home may not be at its best. A faulty furnace or an aged carpet are just two potential culprits. Until you get those issues addressed, how do you make your indoor air healthier — today?
Here are some ideas:
- Check the furnace filter. This is one of the most overlooked maintenance items in the home. Any furnace repair person can tell you stories about filters they’ve seen caked in dust. Make sure those aren’t yours. Air passes through those filters before circulating throughout your home. Replacing a filter takes less than five minutes.
- Clean the drains. Drains are a surprisingly common source of odour in the home. Most people only clean them when they’re clogged, but they should be flushed thoroughly with a good-quality cleaner at least once a season.
- Turn on the bathroom fan. Not only do bathroom fans remove odour, they also reduce moisture build-up. About 50% of air pollutants originate from some type of moisture; mould being the worst. Professionals recommend you keep the bathroom fan on for at least 30 minutes after a shower.
- Clean your doormat. Even if your doormat doesn’t smell, it can be a source of air pollutants. When people wipe their shoes, they transfer pesticides and other outside ground pollutants from their shoes to your mat.
Of course, you can always open a window. That’s the most popular way to freshen the air, and it works.
Say you’re viewing a home and are impressed with how it looks. The walls are freshly painted. Everything seems bright and new. You’re considering making an offer.
Then, while standing on a mat in the kitchen, you hear a squeak below your feet. You lift the mat and see that some tiles are broken. Obviously the mat was there to, literally, cover up that defect.
A few broken tiles are not a big deal. But now you’re thinking, “What else might be wrong with this house?”
There’s no reason to worry that every home will have maintenance issues hidden from view. However, it’s smart to do your due diligence to ensure the home you’re considering is truly as good as it looks.
One way is to have a professional home inspector check out the property as a condition of your purchase offer. He or she will inspect the home from top to bottom, inside and out, and point out any issues you should address.
It’s also smart to ask questions. Find out the age of certain features, such as the roof, furnace, and appliances. Ask about any recent renovations, and determine whether they were done by a professional or by the homeowner.
Most importantly, work with a good REALTOR® who can provide you with information on the property that you would have difficulty getting on your own. Your REALTOR® has a stake in making sure you buy a home with your eyes wide open — knowing all the potential maintenance issues you’re likely to encounter.
There are many reasons why you may need to sell your home quickly: a sudden job relocation; a change in
family situation; or perhaps an opportunity to purchase a new home that you just can’t pass up.
Whatever the reason, this strategy will help when you need to sell fast. It’s called the “3 Up” strategy.
- Fix it up.
- Clean it up.
- Spruce it up.
First, you need to fix it up.
That simply means getting things repaired around your property, such as a broken floor tile in the kitchen or a sticking patio door that’s difficult to open and close. Maintenance issues like these distract buyers from the appealing qualities of your home. Fortunately, repairs can usually be done quickly.
Second, clean it up.
Obviously, when your home is clean and tidy it’s going to look its best. You also want to eliminate as much clutter as possible. You don’t need to make every room look like a magazine cover — but that’s a good attitude to have when prepping your home for a quick sale!
Finally, spruce it up.
That means making any quick improvements that are going to make your home even more appealing. It might mean replacing the kitchen counters or giving the main rooms a fresh coat of paint.
When you purchase a home, you’re hoping it will continually go up in value — just like a good investment.
However, there’s something else that you want to see go up in value as well: the neighbourhood. In fact, the neighbourhood plays a key role in what the home will be worth in years to come. If the neighbourhood goes down in terms of desirability, so will the market value of the home.
That’s why, when shopping for a new home, it’s important to get a feel for the value of the neighbourhood, and whether or not it’s on the upswing.
How do you do that? One way is to simply take a walk. Look at the properties. Are they well maintained? Is the landscaping groomed and attractive? Those are signs of “pride of ownership” — a clear indication that owners value their homes and the neighbourhood.
Another way is to do some research. Has crime gone up in the neighbourhood? Are there improvements planned, such as new parks? Is the neighbourhood attracting the kind of people you want as neighbours? How does the neighbourhood school rank?
Some of this information may be difficult to get on your own. A good REALTOR® can help you.
Call us today to help you with your questions: 604.925.1111.