Beautiful Home in Parkview.
New Siding, new roof, newer windows, great yard, Great LOCATION!
Edible? Sure. So delicious that everyone wants a slice? Definitely not.
In summary, your real estate social media content needs images if you want to maximize views, impact and results.
You might be thinking: “But finding photos is so hard!” or “I’m not a graphic designer!”
No problem. There are so many free online resources that REALTOR®s can use to find the perfect images for their social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
In this post, we’ll introduce you to our favourite websites for free stock photography and other images, as well as sharing what makes them great and what they’re best suited for.
The Unsplash library has over 500,000 images provided by more than 70,000 contributing photographers from around the world. It’s one of the largest collections available and every image is free to use (attribution appreciated, but not required).
Why you should use it:
What you should use it for:
The images found on Unsplash work perfectly for any of your social media channels. Flatlays and cool-looking graffiti and signage are trendy for Instagram use. For your other channels, there’s an Unsplash image to suit nearly every need, but we recommend staying away from anything too avant-garde.
The eCommerce platform has assembled its own collection of royalty-free stock images that anyone is free to use after a quick and painless registration process. New images are added each week and are sorted into diverse and handy collections.
Why you should use it:
What you should use it for:
Any and every platform. Some images do feel a little simple or stock-like so if you’re sourcing images for Instagram and Pinterest, look for more striking photos that offer a creative “wow” factor — a necessity for platforms that are more visual.
Giphy is the leading database for free GIFs. Over 200 million users are on the site every day.
Why you should use it:
What you should use it for:
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn articles, to add a dose of humour or to cleverly illustrate your point.
To use on Facebook: Copy the GIF link, and paste it in your status update. If you plan on sharing another URL in the same post, you’ll need to paste the GIF link first in order for it to appear.
To use on Twitter: Twitter has a built-in GIF feature that’s powered by Giphy. Just click the GIF button when composing your tweet; from there, you can search or click a pre-assembled collection.
To use in LinkedIn articles: Copy the GIF link and paste it directly in your article. It will automatically generate the image.
In addition to its own community of photographers, Pexels sources images from other free stock photo websites. Its collection features more than 40,000 images, with upwards of 3,000 added each month.
Why you should use it:
What you should use it for:
Anything and everything. The subject matter and aesthetics are diverse enough that there’s an image to suit every topic and every platform.
Just remember to pick the right image for the right platform; anything that looks too much like stock photography isn’t likely to perform well on Instagram. To jazz up a stock image, use a photo editing tool to add text or graphics on top.
Like Pexels, Picography’s library offers a range of subject matter and aesthetics. The selection is somewhat smaller, but it makes browsing less time-intensive.
What you should use it for:
Any and every platform. Like with Pexels, choosing the right image will be important, as some Picography images do look more like traditional stock photos. Photo editing apps can come in handy for adding text overlays — a great idea when using an image to promote a blog post, highlight a certain statistic or quote, or share news.
Are there any other stock photography sites that you use? Share your sources in the comments!
As we’re about to end the first half of the year, the downward trend in home buyer demand within the REBGV area is still continuing to make its presence felt.
According to REBGV’s latest release, May 2018 sales were 19.3% below the 10-year May sales average.
Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, has noted, “With fewer homes selling today compared to recent years, the number of homes available for sale is rising,”
He has also cited the rising inventory numbers, saying,
“The selection of homes for sale in Metro Vancouver has risen to the highest levels we’ve seen in the last two years, yet supply is still below our long-term historical averages.”
For home sellers, he advises that competitive pricing is crucial due to the shifting dynamics that are currently occurring in the market. As for home buyers, he has noted the importance of working with local Realtors in order to better understand these fluctuations and how it can affect them.
The following data is a comparison between May 2017 and May 2018 numbe and is current as of June 2, 2018. For last month’s update, you can check out our previous post for April 2018 data.
These infographics cover current trends in North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Vancouver East, and Vancouver West.
Click on the images for a larger view!
(Protip: Make sure to grab the printable PDF versions, too! It fits best when printed on A4-sized sheets, AND we’ve added an area on the sheet where you can attach your business card!
The Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) has recently released its market reports for the period of May 2018.
According to their most recent report and press release, inventory levels continue to rise, and sales are easing up, with the detached sector being cited as the area with the largest declines.
“The impact of rising lending rates and stricter qualification levels is causing demand to ease across all product types,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
“Economic conditions have improved compared to several years ago, but the pace of economic recovery has not been enough to outweigh the changes in lending conditions.”
CREB President Tom Wescott further explains,
“The changes in the lending market are preventing some people from moving up in the market. Uncertainty has also caused others to wait on making changes to their housing situation,” said CREB® president Tom Westcott.
“However, there are pockets of the market that have not seen the same supply increase. It makes it so important to understand the dynamics of your community.”
The following data is a comparison between May 2017 and May 2018 numbers, and is current as of June 1, 2018.
Click on the images for a larger view!
(Protip: Make sure to grab the printable PDF versions, too! It fits best when printed on A4-sized sheets, AND we’ve added an area on the sheet where you can attach your business card!
How you spend the first few hours after waking up can really set the tone for the rest of the day.
Oversleep and walk in late to a meeting? You’ll likely feel frazzled until dinner time.
Make time to exercise, drink a smoothie and play with your kids before checking emails? You’ll likely have energy and a feel-good attitude all morning and afternoon.
Creating a successful morning routine does more than just affect your mood; it also sets you up for heightened productivity and improved results. For REALTORS®, the right routine can help you achieve more leads and more sales.
In this post, we’re laying out the elements of a tried-and-true successful morning routine for real estate agents.
Everyone’s different. Your partner might need eight hours of sleep to feel well-rested; maybe you do best on seven.
If you don’t already have a sense of your body’s natural rhythms, start paying attention. Over a period of two weeks or so, record your hours of sleep, bedtimes and waking times, and make notes about when you feel rested versus too tired.
Based on your observations, figure out:
Knowing what works best for you helps you tap into your optimal periods of productivity. If you typically have a period of focused energy late at night but can’t get up at 5:30, no matter how many hours of sleep you’ve had, then schedule your bedtime and wake-up time accordingly.
The other important thing to remember: be consistent. Waking up at the same time every day is essential to a morning routine that works.
If you’re a coffee drinker, then you know how real the temptation is to pour yourself a big mug as soon as you exit the bedroom.
For a better morning, hold off on the coffee and start your day with water instead.
Hydration is key to brain function, and lethargy can be a sign that you’re dehydrated. After six to eight hours of no water consumption, everyone is at least a bit dehydrated when they get up in the morning.
When you wake up, drink one or two glasses of water almost immediately. If you can’t get it down, try hot water with lemon. Once you’ve had at least two glasses, then move onto coffee.
Instead of creating a to-do list over your morning coffee (or water!), write it out the night before.
You already know what needs to get done the following day. Plotting it out the night before means that you wake up with a plan of action and clear sense of the day.
On your to-do list, star the non work-related items you can complete during your morning routine — simple things like filling out your kid’s field trip permission form or replying to an old friend’s email. Once you’re ready to flow into your workday, your personal tasks won’t be there to distract you.
t’s hard. Sometimes, it’s the last thing you’ll feel like doing. But exercising in the a.m. is a morning routine game-changer. Here’s why.
Starting with the small tasks is an easy way to feel some sense of accomplishment, but it’s actually dragging down your productivity.
A bunch of small tasks adds up, eating into your day and keeping you from tackling the bigger, more difficult tasks — the ones that hang over your head when you don’t get them done.
Start your day by crossing off the hardest item on your to-do list. You’ll have the mental energy and willpower to get it done, and you’ll feel lighter and more confident once you’ve finished it.
What’s the best part of your morning routine? How does it boost your productivity?
Whatever your reasons are for relocating to a new area, the process can feel overwhelming.
Whether you’re moving across across town or across the country, you’ll be changing more than your address. Besides a new house, you may also be searching for new jobs, schools, doctors, restaurants, stores, service providers and more.
Of course you’ll need to pack, make moving arrangements, and possibly sell your old home. With so much to do, you may be wondering: Where do I start?
In this guide, we outline seven steps to help you get prepared, get organized, and get settled in your new community. Our hope is to alleviate the hassle of relocating—so you can focus on the exciting adventure ahead!
If you’re unfamiliar with your new area, start by doing some research.1 Look for data on average housing prices, demographics, school rankings and crime statistics. Search for maps that illustrate local geography, landmarks, public transportation routes and major interstates. If you’re moving across the country, research climate and seasonal weather patterns.
Check out local newspapers and blogs for information on political issues and developments that could impact your new community. You may also want to search for online forums and Facebook Groups relevant to your new area. These can be a great place to find information, ask questions and just observe local attitudes and outlooks.
If you’re relocating for a job, find out if your new employer offers any relocation assistance. Many large corporations have a designated human resources professional to assist employees with relocation efforts, while others may contract this service out to a third party. Some employers will also cover all or a portion of your relocation and moving costs.
By gathering this information up front, you’ll be better prepared to make informed decisions down the road.
Let us know if you’d like assistance with your information gathering process. We have a wealth of knowledge about this area, and we keep a number of reports and statistics on file in our office. We would be happy to share information and answer any questions you may have.
Once you’ve sufficiently researched your new area, you can start to identify your ideal neighborhoods.
The first step is to prioritize your “needs” and “wants.” Consider factors such as budget; commute time; quality of schools; crime rate; walkability; access to public transportation; proximity to restaurants, shopping, and place of worship; and neighborhood vibe.
If possible, visit the area in person to get a feel for the community. If you’re comfortable, strike up conversations with local residents and ask about their experiences living in the area.
Still not sure which neighborhood is the best fit for you and your family? Contact a local real estate agent for expert assistance. It’s usually the most efficient and effective way to narrow down your options.
We provide neighborhood assessments and advice as a free service if you’re relocating to our area. Or, if you’re moving out of town, we can refer you to a local agent who can help.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of preferred neighborhoods, it’s time to start looking for a home. If you haven’t already contacted a real estate agent, now is the time. They can search for current property listings that meet your needs, typically at no cost to you.
Create another list of “needs” and “wants,” but this time for your new home. Include your basic requirements for square footage, bedrooms and bathrooms, but also think about what other factors are important to you and your family. An updated kitchen? A large backyard? Double sinks in the master bathroom?
Narrow your list down to your top 10 and prioritize them in order of importance.2 This will give you a good starting point to begin your home search. Unless you have an unlimited budget, don’t expect to find a home with everything on your list. But having a prioritized list can help you (and your agent) understand which home features are the most important, and which ones you may be willing to sacrifice.
If you already own a home, you’ll also need to start the process of selling it or renting it out. A real estate agent can help you evaluate your options based on current market conditions. He or she can also give you an idea of how much equity you have in your current home so you know how much you can afford to spend on your new one.
Your agent can also advise you on how to time your sale and purchase. While some buyers are able to qualify for and cover the costs of two concurrent mortgages, many are not. There are a number of options available, and a skilled agent can help you determine the best course given your circumstances.
We would love to assist you if you have plans to buy or sell a home in our area. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation so we can discuss your unique needs and devise a custom plan to make your relocation as seamless as possible. If you’re relocating outside of our area, we can help you find a trusted agent in your new city.
While everyone considers packing a fundamental part of moving, we often overlook the emotional preparation that needs to take place. If you have children, this can be especially important. Communicate the move in an age-appropriate way, and if possible take them on a tour of your new home and neighborhood. This can alleviate some of the mystery and apprehension around the move.4
Allow yourself plenty of time to pack up your belongings. Before you start, gather supplies, including boxes, tape, tissue paper and bubble wrap. Begin with non-essentials—such as off-season clothes or holiday decorations—and sort items into four categories: take, trash, sell and donate/give away.5
To make the unpacking process easier, be sure to label the top and sides of boxes with helpful information, including contents, room, and any special instructions. Keep a master inventory list so you can refer back to it if something goes missing.
If you will be using a moving company, start researching and pricing your options. To ensure an accurate estimate of your final cost, it’s best to have them conduct an in-person walkthrough. Make sure you’re working with a reputable company, and avoid paying a large deposit before your belongings are delivered.6
If you plan to drive to your new home, map out the route. And, if necessary, make arrangements for overnight accommodations along the way. If driving is not a good option, you may need to have your vehicles transported and make travel arrangements for you, your family and your pets.
Lastly, if you will be leaving friends or family behind, schedule final get-togethers before your departure. The last days before moving can be incredibly hectic, so make sure you block off some time in advance for proper goodbyes.
Looking for a reputable moving company? We are happy to provide referrals, as well as recommendations on where to procure packing supplies in our area.
5. Prepare for Your Arrival
To make your transition go smoothly, prepare for your arrival well before moving day. Depending on how long your belongings will take to arrive, you may need to arrange for temporary hotel accommodations. If you plan to move in directly, pack an “essentials box” with everything you’ll need for the first couple of nights in your new home, such as toiletries, toilet paper, towels, linens, pajamas, cell phone chargers, snacks, pet food and a change of clothes.7 This will keep you from searching through boxes after an exhausting day of moving.
Arrange in advance for your utilities to be turned on, especially essentials like water, electricity and gas. (And while you’re at it, schedule a shut-off date for your current utilities.) Update your address on all accounts and subscriptions and arrange to have your mail forwarded through the postal service. If you have children, register them for their new school or daycare and arrange for the transfer of any necessary records.
You may want to have the house professionally cleaned before moving in. And if you plan to remodel, paint or install new flooring, it’s easier to have it done before you bring in all of your belongings.8 However, it’s not always feasible without someone you trust locally who can supervise. Another option is to keep a portion of your things in storage while you complete some of these projects.
If there are no window treatments, you may need to install some (or at least put up temporary privacy film), especially in bedrooms and bathrooms. And if appliances are missing, consider purchasing them ahead of time and arranging for delivery and installation shortly after you arrive. Just be sure to check measurements and installation instructions carefully so you aren’t stuck with an appliance that doesn’t fit or that requires costly modifications to your new home.
If you own a car, check the requirements for a driver’s license and vehicle registration in your new area and contact your insurance company to update your policy.8 If you will rely on public transportation, research options and schedules.
If you’re relocating to our area, we can help! We offer “VIP Relocation Assistance” to all of our buyer clients. Contact us for a list of preferred hotels, utility providers, housekeepers, contractors and more!
While staring at an endless pile of boxes can feel daunting, you should take advantage of this opportunity to make a fresh start. By creating a plan ahead of time, you can ensure your new house is thoughtfully laid out and well organized.
If you followed our suggestion to pack an “essentials box” (see Step 5), you should have easy access to everything you’ll need to get you through the first couple of nights in your new home. This will allow you some breathing room to unpack your remaining items in a deliberate manner, instead of rushing through the process.7
If you have young children, consider unpacking their rooms first. Seeing their familiar items can help them establish a sense of comfort and normalcy during a confusing time. Then move on to any items you use on a daily basis.10
Pets can also get overwhelmed by a new, unfamiliar space. Let them adjust to a single room first, which should include their favorite toys, treats, food and water bowl, and a litter box for cats. Once they seem comfortable, you can gradually introduce them to other rooms in the home.11
As you unpack, make a list of items that need to be purchased so you’re not making multiple trips to the store. Also, start a list of needed repairs and installations. If you have a home warranty, find out what’s covered and the process for filing a service order.
Although you may be eager to get everything unpacked, it’s important to take occasional breaks. Have some fun, relax and explore your new hometown!
Need help with unpacking, organizing or decorating your new home? Contact us for a list of recommended professionals in our area. And when you’re ready to start exploring local “hot spots,” we’d love to fill you in on our favorite restaurants, stores, parks and other attractions!
Studies show that moving can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. People who have recently moved tend to be isolated socially, more stressed, and less likely to participate in exercise and hobbies. However, there are ways to combat these negative effects.12
First, get out and explore. In a 2016 study, recent movers were shown to spend less time on physical activities and more time on their computers, which has been proven to lead to feelings of depression and loneliness. Instead, get out of your house and investigate your new area. And if you travel by foot, you’ll gain the advantages of fresh air and exercise.12
Combat feelings of isolation by making an effort to meet people in your new community. Find a local interest group, take a class, join a place of worship or volunteer for a cause. Don’t wait for friends to come knocking on your door. Instead, go out and find them.
Finally, be a good neighbor. Make an effort to introduce yourself to your new neighbors, invite them over for coffee or dinner, and offer assistance when they need it. Once you’ve developed friendships and a support system within your new neighborhood, it will truly start to feel like home.
Want more ideas on how to get involved in your community? Contact us for a free copy of our report, “Welcome Home: 10 Tips to Turn Your Neighborhood Into a Hometown Haven.”
While moving is never easy, these seven steps offer an action plan to get you started on your new adventure. To avoid getting overwhelmed, focus on one step at a time. And don’t hesitate to ask for help!
In a 2015 study, 61 percent of participants ranked moving at the top of their stress list, above divorce and starting a new job.13 But with a little preparation—and the right team of professionals to assist you—it is possible to have a positive relocation experience.
We specialize in assisting home buyers and sellers with a seamless and “less-stress” relocation. Along with our referral network of movers, handymen, housekeepers, decorators, contractors and other service providers, we can help take the hassle and headache out of your upcoming move. Give us a call or message us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation!
HOUSE CARE CALENDAR:
A Seasonal Guide to Maintaining Your Home
From summer vacations to winter holidays, it seems each season offers the perfect excuse to put off our to-do list. But be careful, homeowners: neglecting your home’s maintenance could put your personal safety—and one of your largest financial investments—at serious risk.
In no time at all, small problems can lead to extensive and expensive repairs. And even if you avoid a catastrophe, those minor issues can still have a big impact. Properties that are not well maintained can lose 10 percent (or more) of their appraised value.1
The good news is, by dedicating a few hours each season to properly maintaining your home, you can ensure a safe living environment for you and your family ... and actually increase the value of your home by one percent annually!1 You just need to know where and how to spend your time.
Use the following checklist as a guide to maintaining your home and lawn throughout the year. It's applicable for all climates, so please share it with friends and family members who you think could benefit, no matter where their home is located.
After a long, cold winter, many of us look forward to a fresh start in the spring. Wash away the winter grime, open the windows, and prepare your home for warmer weather and backyard barbecues.
❏ Conduct Annual Spring Cleaning
Be sure to tackle those areas that may have gone neglected—such as your blinds, baseboards and fan blades—as well as appliances, including your refrigerator, dishwasher, oven and range hood. Clear out clutter and clothes you no longer wear, and toss old and expired food and medications.
❏ Shut Down Heating System
Depending on the type of heating system you have, you may need to shut your system down when not in use. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for proper procedures.
❏ Tune Up A/C
If your home has central air conditioning, schedule an annual tune-up with your HVAC technician. If you have a portable or window unit, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper maintenance.2
❏ Check Plumbing
It’s a good idea to periodically check your plumbing to spot any leaks or maintenance issues. Look for evidence of leaks—such as water stains on the ceiling—and check for dripping faucets or running toilets that need to be addressed. Inspect your hot water heater for sediment build up. Check your sump pump (if you have one) to ensure it’s working properly.3
❏ Inspect Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so change them now and again in the fall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer’s recommendation.4
❏ Inspect Perimeter of Home
Walk around your house and look for any signs of damage or wear and tear that should be addressed. Are there cracks in the foundation? Peeling paint? Loose or missing roof shingles? Make a plan to make needed repairs yourself or hire a contractor.
❏ Clean Home’s Exterior
Wash windows and clean and replace screens if they were removed during the winter months. For the home’s facade, it’s generally advisable to use the gentlest method that is effective. A simple garden hose will work in most cases.5
❏ Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned at least twice a year. Neglected gutters can cause water damage to a home, so make sure yours are clean and free of debris. If your gutters have screens, you may be able to decrease the frequency of cleanings, but they should still be checked periodically.6
❏ Rake Leaves
Gently rake your lawn to remove leaves and debris. Too many leaves can cause an excessive layer of thatch, which can damage the roots of your lawn. They can also harbor disease-causing organisms and insects.7 However, take care because overly vigorous raking can damage new grass shoots.
❏ Seed or Sod Lawn
If you have bare spots, spring is a good time to seed or lay new sod so you can enjoy a beautiful lawn throughout the remainder of the year. The peak summer heat can be too harsh for a new lawn. If you miss this window, early fall is another good time to plant.8
❏ Apply a Pre-Emergent Herbicide
While a healthy lawn is the best deterrent for weeds, some homeowners choose to use a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to minimize weeds. When applied at the right time, it can be effective in preventing weeds from germinating. However, a pre-emergent herbicide will also prevent grass seeds from germinating, so only use it if you don’t plan to seed or sod in the spring.
❏ Plant Flowers
After a long winter, planting annuals and spring perennials is a great way to brighten up your garden. It’s also a good time to prune existing flowers and shrubs and remove and compost any dead plants.
❏ Mulch Beds
A layer of fresh mulch helps to suppress weeds, retain moisture and moderate soil temperature. However, be sure to strip away old mulch at least every three years to prevent excessive buildup.9
❏ Fertilize Lawn
Depending on your grass type, an application of fertilizer in the spring may help promote new leaf and root growth, keep your lawn healthy, and reduce weeds.10
❏ Tune Up Lawn Mower
Send your lawn mower out for a professional tune-up and to have the blades sharpened before the mowing season starts.11
❏ Inspect Sprinkler System
If you have a sprinkler system, check that it’s working properly and make repairs as needed.
❏ Check the Deck
If you have a deck or patio, inspect it for signs of damage or deterioration that may have occurred over the winter. Then clean it thoroughly and apply a fresh coat of stain if needed.
❏ Prepare Pool
If you own a pool, warmer weather signals the start of pool season. Be sure to follow best practices for your particular pool to ensure proper maintenance and safety.
Summer is generally the time to relax and enjoy your home, but a little time devoted to maintenance will help ensure it looks great and runs efficiently throughout the season.
❏ Adjust Ceiling Fans
Make sure they are set to run counter-clockwise in the summer to push air down and create a cooling breeze. Utilizing fans instead of your air conditioner, when possible, will help minimize your utility bills.
❏ Clean A/C Filters
Be sure to clean or replace your filters monthly, particularly if you’re running your air conditioner often.
❏ Clear Dryer Vent
Help cut down on summer utility bills by cleaning your laundry dryer vent at least once a year. Not only will it help cut down on drying times, a neglected dryer poses a serious fire hazard.
❏ Check Weather Stripping
If you’re running your air conditioner in the summer, you’ll want to keep the cold air inside and hot air outside. Check weather stripping around doors and windows to ensure a good seal.
❏ Mow Lawn Regularly
Your lawn will probably need regular mowing in the summer. Adjust your mower height to the highest setting, as taller grass helps shade the soil to prevent drought and weeds.
❏ Water Early in the Morning
Ensure your lawn and garden get plenty of water during the hot summer months. Experts generally recommend watering in the early morning to minimize evaporation, but be mindful of any watering restrictions in your area, which may limit the time and/or days you are allowed to water.
❏ Weed Weekly
To prevent weeds from taking over your garden and ruining your home’s valuable curb appeal, make a habit of pulling weeds at least once per week.
❏ Exterminate Pests
Remove any standing water and piles of leaves and debris. Inspect your lawn and perimeter of your home for signs of an invasion. If necessary, call a professional exterminator for assistance.
Fall ushers in another busy season of home maintenance as you prepare your home for the winter weather ahead.
❏ Have Heater Serviced
To ensure safety and efficiency, it’s a good idea to have your heating system serviced and inspected before you run it for the first time.
❏ Shut Down A/C for the Winter
If you have central air conditioning, you can have it serviced at the same time as your furnace. If you have a portable or window unit, ensure it’s properly sealed or remove it and store it for the winter.
❏ Inspect Chimney
Fire safety experts recommend that you have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned periodically. Complete this task before you start using your fireplace or furnace.
❏ Seal Windows and Doors
Check windows and doors for drafts and caulk or add weatherstripping where necessary.
❏ Check Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
If you checked your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the spring, they are due for another inspection. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so it’s time to replace them again. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer’s recommendation.3
❏ Plant Fall Flowers, Grass and Shrubs
Fall is a great time to plant perennials, trees, shrubs, cool-season vegetables and bulbs that will bloom in the spring.12 It’s also a good time to reseed or sod your lawn.
❏ Rake or Mow Leaves
Once the leaves start falling, it’s time to pull out your rake. A thick layer of leaves left on your grass can lead to an unhealthy lawn. Or, rather than raking, use a mulching mower to create a natural fertilizer for your lawn.
❏ Apply Fall Fertilizer
If you choose not to use a mulching mower, a fall fertilizer is usually recommended. For best results, aerate your lawn before applying the fertilizer.13
❏ Inspect Gutters and Roof
Inspect your gutters and downspouts and make needed repairs. Check the roof for any broken or loose tiles. Remove fallen leaves and debris.
❏ Shut Down Sprinkler System
If you have a sprinkler system, drain any remaining water and shut it down to prevent damage from freezing temperatures over the winter.
❏ Close Pool
If you have a pool, it’s time to clean and close it up before the winter.
While it can be tempting to ignore home maintenance issues in the winter, snow and freezing temperatures can do major damage if left untreated. Follow these steps to ensure your house survives the winter months.
❏ Maintain Heating System
Check and change filters on your heating system, per the manufacturer's instructions. If you have a boiler, monitor the water level.
❏ Tune Up Generator
If you own a portable generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance. Make sure it’s working before you need it, and stock up on supplies like fuel, oil and filters.
❏ Prevent Frozen Pipes
Make sure pipes are well insulated, and keep your heat set to a minimum of 55 degrees when you’re away. If pipes are prone to freezing, leave faucets dripping slightly overnight or when away from home. You may also want to open cabinet doors beneath sinks to let in heat.
❏ Drain and Shut Off Outdoor Faucets
Before the first freeze, drain and shut off outdoor faucets. Place an insulated cover over exposed faucets, and store hoses for the winter.
❏ Remove Window Screens
Removing screens from your windows allows more light in to brighten and warm your home during the dark, cold winter months. Snow can also get trapped between screens and windows, causing damage to window frames and sills.
❏ Service Snowblower
Don’t wait until the first snowstorm of the season to make sure your snowblower is in good working order. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance or have it serviced by a professional.
❏ Stock Up on Ice Melt
Keep plenty of ice melt, or rock salt, on hand in preparation for winter weather. Look for brands that will keep kids and pets safe without doing damage to your walkway or yard.
❏ Watch Out for Ice Dams
Ice dams are thick ridges of solid ice that can build up along the eaves of your house. They can do major damage to gutters, shingles and siding. Heated cables installed prior to the first winter storm can help.14
❏ Check for Snow Buildup on Trees
Snow can cause tree limbs to break, which can be especially dangerous if they are near your home. Use a broom to periodically remove excess snow.15
While this checklist should not be considered a complete list of your home’s maintenance needs, it can serve as a general seasonal guide. Systems, structures and fixtures will need to be repaired and replaced from time-to-time, as well. The good news is, the investment you make in maintaining your home now will pay off dividends over time.
Keep a record of all your maintenance, repairs and upgrades for future reference, along with receipts. Not only will it help jog your memory, it can make a big impact on buyers when it comes time to sell your home … and potentially result in a higher selling price.
Are you looking for help with home maintenance or repairs? We have an extensive network of trusted contractors and service providers and are happy to provide referrals! Call or email us, and we can connect you with one of our preferred vendors.
10 Staging Secrets From the Pros for a Quick Home Sale at Top Dollar
According to the National Association of Realtors, staging a home prior to listing it can result in a faster and more profitable sale.1 In fact, the Real Estate Staging Association estimates that professionally staged properties spend 73 percent less time on the market, receive more foot traffic, and typically sell for more money.2
Source: National Association of Realtors
Following are 10 tips you can use to get your home “show ready” prior to hitting the market. These easy and cost-effective ideas will help your house look its best—and help buyers visualize themselves living there. Even if you’re not currently in the market to sell, you can use these tactics to breathe new life into your existing home decor.
To get a plan customized for your particular property, give us a call to schedule a free consultation. We’d be happy to share our insider knowledge of the buyer preferences in your neighbourhood… so you’ll know where to focus your time, money and energy to maximize your results.
1. REMOVE CLUTTER
Decluttering is typically the first thing we tell clients to do to prepare their home for sale. And according to the National Association of Realtors, a whopping 93 percent of agents agree.1 Decluttering is the act of removing excess “stuff” from your home to make it appear clean and spacious.
Overflowing closets and cluttered countertops can make your house feel small and cramped. In contrast, sparsely-filled closets and clear countertops will make your home appear larger and assure buyers that there will be plenty of room to store their belongings.
Don’t neglect drawers, cupboards and even your refrigerator in your decluttering efforts. Serious buyers will check out every nook and cranny of your home, so pack up anything you don’t use on a daily basis and store it off-site. The same goes for jewellery, sensitive documents, prescription medication, firearms and other items of value. Store them in a locked safe or storage unit before opening your property to buyers.
Make sure any items that remain are clean, tidy and well organized. The good news is, when it comes time to move, a large portion of your packing will be done!
2. DEEP CLEAN AND DEODORIZE
From carpets to bathrooms to appliances, having a clean home is a MUST. If you’ve ever checked into a dirty hotel room, you can imagine how buyers can be turned off by a home that hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned.
If you have a large home or are short on time, you may want to invest in a professional cleaning service. And if you have carpet, we generally recommend you rent a steam cleaner or hire a company to clean your carpets for you.
In addition to cleaning, it’s equally important to neutralize odours in your home that can be off-putting to buyers, especially pet smells and cigarette smoke. If the weather allows, open your windows and let in fresh air. Empty the trash frequently, and especially before a showing. Avoid cooking any strong-smelling food such as fish or heavy spices. You may need to clean (or remove) drapes and upholstery if odours are particularly strong.
Try to keep your home in clean, show-ready condition while it’s on the market. You never know when a potential buyer will want to drop by for a viewing.
Your family photos and personal mementoes are often your most treasured possessions. For many of us, they are what make a house a home. However, buyers will have a hard time envisioning themselves living in a place if it feels like YOUR home.
Pack up any items that are personal to you and your families, such as photos, books, children’s artwork, travel souvenirs and religious items. Collectables and excessive knickknacks can be distracting to buyers. Instead, keep your decor items minimal and generic to appeal to the largest number of buyers.
4. NEUTRALIZE YOUR COLOR PALETTE
Along those same lines, bold colour choices may not appeal to all buyers. By incorporating a neutral colour palette throughout your home, buyers can better visualize the addition of their own furniture and decor, which may contrast with your current colour scheme.
But don’t limit yourself to white and beige. Incorporating earth tones and midtone neutrals—like mocha and “greige” (grey-beige)—can add a touch of modern sophistication to your decor.3
One of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to neutralize your home’s decor is with paint. Walls painted in dark, bold or bright colours can turn off buyers. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour like greige (try Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter) or warm white (such as Kelly-Moore’s Rotunda White) offers a clean palette upon which buyers can visualize adding their own personal touches.4
If your sofa is worn, stained or has a bold pattern, consider purchasing a neutral-coloured slipcover. Dated or overly busy window coverings should be taken down or replaced. Instead, bring in tasteful pops of colour with throw pillows and accessories.
5. INCREASE YOUR CURB APPEAL
You only get one chance to make a first impression. According to a 2017 report by the National Association of Realtors, 44 percent of home buyers drove by a property after viewing it online but did NOT go inside for a walkthrough.5 That means if your curb appeal is lacking, buyers may never make it through the door.
Walk around your home and look for any neglected areas that might seem like “red flags” to buyers, such as missing roof shingles or rotted siding. Trim trees and shrubs if needed, and make sure your lawn and flower beds are well maintained. Add some colourful flowers to your front beds and/or flower boxes to brighten up your landscaping.
Make sure the exterior of your home is as clean as the interior. This can often be accomplished with a simple garden hose. But if your siding, walkway, or driveway are stained or dingy, you may want to rent a pressure washer.
Thoroughly wash windows and screens, and remove and store dark solar screens if you have them. Open shutters, curtains and blinds, which will not only make your house look more inviting from the outside, it will brighten the inside.
Consider a fresh coat of paint on your front door, trim and shutters. And small, cosmetic improvements like new house numbers, a colourful wreath and a clean front doormat can have a big impact.6
6. FRESHEN KITCHENS AND BATHS
Kitchens and bathrooms will show better and appear larger if all items are cleared from the countertops, except for one or two decorative pieces.7 You should have already packed up non-essentials during your decluttering process, and the remaining items should be neatly stored in pantries and cupboards.
If your cabinets are dingy or outdated, adding a fresh coat of paint and new hardware is an easy and inexpensive way to make them modern and bright. Consider purchasing new shower curtains, bath mats and towels for the bathrooms and new dish towels for the kitchen.
Before each show, make sure kitchens and baths are spotless and trash cans are empty and out of sight. To add a comforting aroma, try baking cookies, or in the fall, simmer some cinnamon sticks and cloves in a pot of water before you leave the house. In the spring, try a vase of fresh cut lilacs.7
7. SET THE TABLE
Buyers often imagine hosting family gatherings in their new home, and the dining room plays a large role in that vision. If your dining room chairs are stained or outdated, you may want to recover them or use slipcovers. In most cases, an imperfect table can be camouflaged with a neutral and stylish tablecloth.
Be sure the table is centred underneath the chandelier and on the area rug if you’re using one. If your dining room is small, remove all other furniture and leave only four chairs.8
Dress up the table using nice tableware and cloth napkins or a table runner and centrepiece. For a long table, try lining up a series of small vessels down the middle.
8. REARRANGE FURNITURE
Start in your living room and think about what you want to emphasize (and de-emphasize) about the space. For example, do you have a beautiful fireplace or a stunning view? If so, arrange the furniture with that focal point in mind. Use a symmetrical seating arrangement to create a cosy conversation area adjacent to the focal point.
If the room is small, consider removing some of the furniture to make it feel larger, especially oversized pieces. That includes oversized television sets unless it’s a designated media room. Pulling furniture away from the wall can make the room feel more spacious, and placing your largest furniture piece in the far-left corner (as opposed to near the entry) can create the illusion of a larger space.9
For small bedrooms, remove all the furniture except the bed, bedside tables and a dresser. If it’s a large room, add one or two chairs and a table to create a seating area. Place lamps on the bedside tables and seating area if you have one.10
Make sure each space in your home has a clearly defined purpose. For example, if you’ve been using an extra bedroom as a catch-all storage space, stage it as a guest room or office instead. Turn an awkward alcove into a workstation or a reading corner. Help buyers imagine how they could use the space themselves.3
9. LIGHTEN UP
Lighting can have a drastic impact on the look and feel of a home. Few buyers seek out a dark house; most prefer one that’s light and bright. Make sure windows are clean, and open curtains and blinds to let in the maximum amount of daylight.
Each room should have three types of lighting: ambient (general or overhead), task (such as a reading lamp or under-cabinet light), and accent (such as a floor or table lamp). Aim for a goal of 100 total watts per 50 square feet.11 If your mounted light fixtures are dated, replacing them with something more modern is an easy and inexpensive upgrade that can have a big impact.
Strategically placed landscape lighting can add a dramatic effect to your home’s exterior. Welcome evening visitors with a lighted walkway, or use a spotlight to accentuate trees or other landscaping features. Solar lights require no wiring; simply place them in a sunny spot and they will turn on automatically at dusk.
10. HIGHLIGHT YOUR BACKYARD’S BEST FEATURES
While your home’s interior often takes centre stage, don’t forget about staging your home’s outdoor areas to help buyers imagine how they could utilize the space.
Even a small patio can become a selling feature with the addition of a cafe table and chairs. Add a tray of plates and coffee cups to help buyers envision a peaceful breakfast on the back porch. Place chairs and wine glasses around an outdoor fire pit or hang a hammock with a book in your favourite shady spot.3 These small, simple additions can help buyers visualize the possibilities your backyard has to offer.
BEFORE YOU GET STARTED
If you’re in the market to sell your home, this list provides a great starting point for your preparations. But nothing beats the trained eye and expertise of a real estate agent. Before you do any work, we recommend consulting a professional for advice about your particular property.
We offer free, no-commitment seller consultations and will walk through your home with you to help you assess which projects and upgrades are worth your time and money, and which ones you can skip.
As local market experts, we are intimately familiar with buyer preferences in your area. We’ll run a comparative market analysis to find out how your home compares to others currently on the market, as well as those that have recently sold. Then we’ll tailor a custom plan to suit your particular property, budget and needs.
Please call or email us today with questions or to schedule a free consultation!
If you’re like the vast majority of Edmonton Real Estate Shoppers, you will choose to finance your purchase with a mortgage type loan. By preparing in advance, you can avoid the common delays and roadblocks many buyers face when applying for a mortgage.
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) issued new mortgage guidelines, which went into effect at the beginning of the year and raised the standards for mortgage applicants. The requirements may seem overwhelming, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. But we’ve outlined three simple steps to get you started on your path to approval.
It’s never too early to start preparing to buy a home. Follow these three steps to begin laying the foundation for your future home purchase today!
Your credit score is one of the first things a lender will check to see if you qualify for a loan. It’s a good idea to review your credit report and score yourself before you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. If you have a low score, you will need time to raise it. And sometimes fraudulent activity or erroneous information will appear on your report, which can take months to correct.
There are five factors that impact your credit score: history of payments (35%), debts (30%), credit length (15%), new inquiries (10%), and diversity (10%).
Credit scores range from 300 to 900. A higher credit score will help you qualify for a lower mortgage interest rate, which will save you money.
The two major credit bureaus in Canada are Equifax Canada and Transunion Canada. For information on how you can request a free copy of your credit report from each bureau, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/order-credit-report.html. The bureaus may charge you a fee to access your actual credit score.
This is also a great time to begin a relationship with a mortgage broker or touch base with your financial institution. Getting good mortgage instruction and clear qualification numbers make things easy. Contact a mortgage broker today.
The new OSFI rules require a minimum credit score of 600 for a mortgage under $1,000,000. However, many lenders prefer to see a score of at least 650.
Generally speaking, banks and other traditional financial institutions have the strictest requirements. If you have a credit score below 600, you may still be able to secure a loan through a credit union or private lender, however you should expect to pay a higher interest rate and additional fees.
There’s no quick fix for a low credit score, but the following steps will help you increase it over time.
1. Make Payments on Time
At 35 percent, your payment history accounts for the largest portion of your credit score. Therefore, it’s crucial to get caught up on any late payments and make all of your future payments on time.
2. Avoid Applying for New Credit You Don’t Need
New accounts will lower your average account age, which could negatively impact your length of credit history. Also, each time you apply for credit, it can result in a small decrease in your credit score.
The exception to this rule? If you don’t have any credit cards—or any credit accounts at all—you should open an account to establish a credit history. Just be sure to use it responsibly and pay it off in full each month.
If you need to shop for a new credit account, for example, a car loan, be sure to complete your loan applications within a short period of time. The credit bureaus attempt to distinguish between a search for a single loan and applications to open several new lines of credit by the window of time during which inquiries occur.
3. Pay Down Credit Cards
When you pay off your credit cards and other revolving credit, you lower your amounts owed, or credit utilization ratio (ratio of account balances to credit limits). Some experts recommend starting with your highest-interest debt and paying it off first. Others suggest paying off your lowest balance first and then rolling that payment into your next-lowest balance to create momentum.
Whichever method you choose, the first step is to make a list of all of your credit card balances and then start tackling them one by one. Make the minimum payments on all of your cards except one. Pay as much as possible on that card until it’s paid in full, then cross it off your list and move on to the next card.
Debt Interest Rate Total Payoff Minimum Payment
Credit Card 1 12.5% $460 $18.40
Credit Card 2 18.9% $1,012 $40.48
Credit Card 3 3.11% $6,300 $252
4. Avoid Closing Old Accounts
Closing an old account will not remove it from your credit report. In fact, it can hurt your score, as it can raise your credit utilization ratio—since you’ll have less available credit—and decrease your average length of credit history.
Similarly, paying off a collection account will not remove it from your report. It remains on your credit report for seven years, however, the negative impact on your score will decrease over time.
5. Correct Errors on Your Report
Mistakes or fraudulent activity can negatively impact your credit score. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your credit report at least once per year. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada posts instructions for disputing errors on your report.
While it may seem like a lot of effort to raise your credit score, your hard work will pay off in the long run. Not only will it help you qualify for a mortgage, a high credit score can help you secure a lower interest rate on car loans and credit cards, as well. You may even qualify for lower rates on insurance premiums.
The next step in preparing for your home purchase is to save up for a down payment and closing costs.
When you purchase a home, you typically pay for a portion of it in cash (down payment) and take out a loan to cover the remaining balance (mortgage).
Click here for a simple Mortgage Calculator you can use
The minimum amount you'll need for your down payment depends on the purchase price of the home.
$500,000 or less 5% of the purchase price
$500,000 to $999,999 5% of the first $500,000 of the purchase price
AND 10% for the portion of the purchase price above $500,000
$1 million or more 20% of the purchase price
Click HERE for a free, fast and simple mortgage Calculator.
It’s important to note that these are the minimum requirements for securing a mortgage. If you're self-employed or have a low credit score, your down payment requirements may be higher.
Generally speaking, the higher your down payment, the more money you will save on interest and fees. For example, if your down payment falls below 20 percent, you will be required to purchase mortgage loan insurance, which will cost you between 0.6 to 4.5 percent of the overall mortgage amount.
If you don’t have the minimum requirements for a down payment, the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) might be an option for you. It enables you to withdraw up to $25,000 (or $50,000 if you are buying as a couple) from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to buy or build a qualifying home. You have up to 15 years to repay the amount you withdrew. Click here for more information and to find out if you are eligible to participate.
If you’re a current homeowner, you may have equity in your home that you can use toward your down payment on a new home. We can help you estimate your expected return after you sell your current home and pay back your existing mortgage. Contact us or click HERE for a Free Home Evaluation!
Closing costs should also be factored into your savings plan. These typically include legal fees and other administrative fees associated with the purchase of your home. Closing costs typically range between 1.5 to four percent of the purchase price.7
If you don’t have the funds to pay these outright at closing, you can often add a portion to your mortgage balance and pay it over time. However, you’ll have a higher monthly payment and pay more over the long term because you’ll pay interest on the fees.
Get in touch with an active Real estate lawyer and ask for a quote.
Once you have the required credit score, savings for a down payment and a list of all your outstanding debt obligations via your credit report, you can assess whether you are ready and able to purchase a home.
It’s important to have a sense of how much you can reasonably afford—and how much you’ll be able to borrow—to see if homeownership is within reach.
Your gross debt service ratio (GDS) and total debt service ratio (TDS) are the two primary measurements mortgage companies use to determine how much they are willing to lend you.
Your GDS ratio is the percentage of your income that would go toward housing each month, including principal, interest, taxes, heat and 50 percent of condo fees (if applicable).
To calculate your GDS ratio, a lender will add up your expected housing expenses and divide it by your gross monthly income (income before taxes). The maximum GDS ratio most conventional lenders will accept is 32 percent.
The TDS ratio takes into account all of your monthly debt obligations: your expected housing expenses PLUS credit card bills, car payments, child and spousal support, and any other debt that shows up on your credit report.
To calculate your TDS ratio, a lender will tabulate your expected housing expenses and other monthly debt payments and divide it by your gross monthly income (income before taxes). The maximum TDS ratio most conventional lenders will accept is 44 percent.
Under OSFI’s new rules, all mortgages issued by federally-regulated lenders are required to undergo a “stress test.” Under this test, applicants must fall below the GDS and TDS ratio maximums at either the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark interest rate, or at their qualified contract interest rate plus two percent, whichever is higher.
The purpose of the stress test is to ensure that home buyers will still be able to afford their mortgages if interests rates rise.
To get a sense of how much home you can afford, visit the Canadian Real Estate Association’s Affordability Calculator at https://www.realtor.ca/Residential/calculator.aspx?tab=3.
This handy tool will help you determine how much you can afford to borrow depending on your income, debt, property taxes, condo fees, heating costs and interest rate. It also offers a projection of your monthly mortgage payment. Add the “maximum mortgage” estimate to your down payment amount to find out your total home purchasing power.
When you enter the interest rate, be sure to use either the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate or two percentage points above your estimated rate (whichever is higher) to ensure you can meet the “stress test” requirements.
If the monthly cost estimate is significantly higher than what you’re currently paying for housing, you need to consider whether or not you can make up the difference each month in your budget.
If not, you may want to lower your target purchase price to reflect a more conservative TDS ratio.
(Note: This tool only provides an estimate of your purchasing power. You will need to secure pre-approval from a mortgage lender to know your true mortgage approval amount and monthly payment projections.)
Once you have a sense of your purchasing power, it’s time to find out which neighbourhoods and types of homes you can afford. The best way to determine this is to contact a licensed real estate agent. We help homeowners like you every day and can send you a comprehensive list of homes within your budget that meet your specific needs.
If there are homes within your price range and target neighbourhoods that meet your criteria—congratulations! It’s time to begin your home search.
If not, you may need to continue saving up for a larger down payment … or adjust your search parameters to find homes that do fit within your budget. We can help you determine the right course for you.
START LAYING YOUR FOUNDATION TODAY
It’s never too early to start preparing financially for your Edmonton Real Estate purchase. These three steps will set you on the path toward homeownership … and a secure financial future!
And if you are ready to buy now but still aren’t sure if you meet the minimum requirements, don’t get discouraged. You may be able to secure a loan through a credit union or a private lender. We can connect you with one of our trusted mortgage providers.
Want to find out if you’re ready to buy a house?
Give us a call!
We’ll help you review your options and determine the ideal time to begin your Edmonton Real Estate adventure.
The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.