Joanna Sacchetti

When you make or receive an offer to buy a property, it's important that you read and understand every clause. It is especially important to understand any conditions or any changes that are made to the standard offer.

An offer may contain several types of conditions. The most common are "conditional upon arranging financing" and "conditional upon passing a professional home inspection." However, there may be other conditions as well.

You should be aware of – and fully understand – all of them.

In addition, the wording of an offer may change during the back and forth negotiations that often happen. Aside from changes to the price, other clauses may be added, removed or reworded as well.

A good agent will always ask you to initial changes. This is done primarily to ensure you know and approve of what you're signing.

A recent newspaper article tells the story of a buyer-seller legal dispute that resulted in a six-figure judgement against the seller. This was due, in part, to a lack of understanding of one of the clauses in the agreement.

You don't want that to happen to you. Take the time to carefully review and understand an offer.

Want to make sure everything goes smoothly with your next move? Call today.

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If you have young children, or expect a visit from friends or relatives with little ones in tow, it pays to ensure your home is free of hazards. The last thing you want is an injury that could have easily been prevented.

Here are some basic childproofing tips:

  • Remove everything that is toxic, hot or sharp, from within reach of a child. (For example, the leaves of some types of house plants are toxic.)
  • If possible, keep children out of the kitchen while cooking.
  • Install plug-in covers in electrical outlets. (These are inexpensive and can be purchased at any hardware store.)
  • Block or gate off areas where kids may fall.
  • Remove "pulling down" hazards, such as a heavy plant that a child can pull off a table.
  • Make sure there are screens on all open windows.

Finally, watch your pets. Even the most gentle dog or cat can act unpredictably around children – especially if they're not used to them. 

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Buyers are more likely to make an offer on your home if they see a lot of things they love about it. So what do buyers love to see?

One of the main things they like to see is a lot of space. Of course, you can't change the size of your rooms, but there is a lot you can do to make small spaces in your home seem more spacious.

Buyers also love to see a clean and uncluttered home. Think of how inviting a hotel room looks at first glance, with everything neat and organized. Of course, your home isn't a hotel, but the more neat and attractive you can make each room, the better.

One thing buyers don't love to see is potential maintenance issues. So as much as possible, get things fixed or updated.

In fact, the more "finished" and "move in ready" your home looks, the more likely a buyer is to make an offer.

Don't forget the surrounding neighbourhood either. A buyer may not take the time to explore the area, so be sure to make a list of the most appealing features. You might want to take a picture of the brand new playground just down the street or print off a local map showing nearby shopping, theatre and other points of interest.

It's not about creating a false impression. Rather, it's about making your home look its best and drawing attention to its most enticing features.

Want more home selling tips? Call today.

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Does your spouse like to practice the drums in the evening? Does your teenager like to play video games, with the volume turned up high? Are there other sources of noise you'd like to minimize?

There are many ways to soundproof areas of your home to reduce noise. Here are some ideas:

  • Furniture placement. Surprisingly, where you place furniture can dramatically reduce incoming noise. For example, a bookshelf covering a third of a wall can muffle sound from an adjoining room by 25%.
  • Noise harmonization techniques. Soft music, air fans, and other sources of rhythmic noises can actually reduce the unpleasantness of incoming sounds.
  • Area rugs. Adding an area rug, even on top of existing carpeting, can significantly reduce noise coming from the floor below.
  • Acoustic tiles and panels. These are special ceiling tiles and wall coverings that are designed to diffuse and reduce sound infiltration. There are some products on the market that are remarkably easy to install.
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Items that remind us of special people, events, milestones and interests are an important part of what makes a home a home. Pictures on the fireplace mantle, for example, showcase family and friends that are important to us. You might also have trophies, certificates, greeting cards, and other mementoes on display in key places.

Of course, all of those things add warmth and meaning to your home.

However, if you're preparing your home for sale, it's a good idea to pack those memories away - at least until you've sold your property and moved to your new home.

Why? Because those pleasant mementoes that mean so much to you may actually turn off potential buyers.

You see, when buyers view your property, you want them to be able to clearly picture themselves and their families living there. That's difficult to do if everywhere they look they see reminders that this is your home!

So, to help sell your home quickly, make it look great, but not personalized. Think of the showroom displays you see set up in furniture stores. Those displays are most appealing when they enable you to easily picture yourself, with that furniture, in your home. You probably wouldn't feel that way if it looked like the furniture belonged to someone else.

Of course, buyers will know you currently live in your home. But helping them imagine themselves living there will help you sell your property faster – and possibly for a better price.

Need more tips on preparing your home for sale? Call Today!

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If you're considering a bathroom update, you're probably familiar with the typical approaches, such as replacing a countertop or toilet, or removing all the fixtures and finishes to complete a floor-to-ceiling renovation.

However, there is another, far less expensive way to make an older bathroom look brand new: using overlays.

An overlay is simply a new surface applied over an existing one. For example, instead of replacing an old and worn bathtub – which is costly – you can purchase an overlay system (called a tub liner) that fits on top of the existing bathtub. It's a little like giving your tub a facelift!

You can do the same thing with your bathroom countertops and floors.

Overlays come in a wide variety of styles and finishes – some of which can make your bathroom look significantly more upscale. Compared to a major renovation, the installation of overlays is relatively straightforward. A tub liner installation, for example, can be done in a day.

You can learn more about overlays at your local home improvement centre and at specialty bathroom showrooms.

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Have you ever attended an "Open House" advertised in your area or in a community you like? Most people have. Even if you're not serious about moving, viewing a few properties in a neighbourhood you like is a great way to get a sense of the market.

Who knows? You might stumble upon your next dream home!

To get the most out of an open house, follow these guidelines:

  • Most open houses will have a handout available containing the list price and other property information. Be sure to keep a copy.
  • Don't just view the rooms. Explore the entire property, including the backyard.
  • Don't be shy about asking the listing agent (or whoever is hosting the open house) questions about the property.
  • Ask about the area. Are there schools nearby? Where is the nearest park or playground located?
  • Ask about potential required repairs and renovations. For example, if the furnace is more than 15 years old, it may need to be replaced soon.
  • Walk around the neighbourhood. Try to get a sense of what it's like to live there. If possible, chat with a neighbour.

Finally, if you become interested in the home, be sure to advise the listing agent that your own REALTOR® will be following up. Otherwise, the listing agent might assume that he or she will be representing you. 

Looking for a good REALTOR® to have by your side? Contact Us

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Bank of Montreal signalled it is about to kick off another round of mortgage rate wars.

The bank, which drew the wrath of Mr. Flaherty for starting a battle which saw rates drop to record lows, is ready to hit the marketplace again with its 2.99% offer for a closed five-year fixed rate mortgage.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver again warned Thursday that he is monitoring the mortgage market closely, but the government has no plans to intervene in the commercial banking sector.

Mr. Oliver, who took over the federal government’s No. 2 position from Jim Flaherty on March 19, said BMO chief Bill Downe told him late Wednesday that the bank had lowered its rate.

“There’s a market and the bank made its decision, and the chief executive officer of the Bank of Montreal informed me about it,” Mr. Oliver told reporters Thursday in Ottawa.

“I listened to his explanation, his reasons. I reiterated what I’ve just stated — the government is gradually reducing its involvement in the mortgage market.”

Asked if the government would take further steps if a housing bubble formed, Mr. Oliver said: “I don’t have to get into a hypothetical negative.”

“We’ve been, over a long time, reducing the Canadian [government] involvement in the mortgage market to protect the indebtedness of Canadian consumers and Canadian taxpayers, and will continue on in that regard.”

Earlier in an emailed statement, Mr. Oliver said the Conservative government “took action four times, from 2008 to 2012. Budgets 2013 and 2014 announced additional measures to reduce the government’s exposure to the housing market.”

“We will continue monitoring the market,” he said.

“With BMO, homebuyers can lock-in below 3% for a full five years of protection against rising rates. With a maximum amortization of 25 years, our mortgage offer is the responsible choice as it can help Canadians become mortgage-free faster,” said Martin Nel, vice-president of personal products, with BMO Bank of Montreal, in a release.

Mr. Flaherty, took great pains to slow the housing market, and tightened mortgage rules on four occasions. One of the most noted changes was shrinking amortization lengths from 40 years to 25 years for mortgages covered by government-backed mortgage default insurance.

Bank of Montreal started last year’s battle with its 2.99% offer and other banks started matching with similar deals. Manulife Financial Corp. even took its five-year product down to 2.89% before being stopped in its tracks.

“After consulting with the Department of Finance, Manulife Bank has withdrawn the promotional campaign and reverted to our previous posted rate,” a spokesman for Manulife said at the time.

But Mr. Flaherty is long gone from finance and it remains to be seen how tough his replacement Joe Oliver will be on the housing sector.

“This is driven by the fact that bond yields have fallen and we are in what has traditionally been the busiest season for buying a home,” said Paul Deegan vice-president, government and public relations with BMO Financial Group about whether the move was driven by the fact there was a new finance minister.

At the present discount, BMO is even getting close to what some of the best discounters are offering. The site ratesupermarket.ca says the best five-year rate is now 2.94% among discounters.

 

View more at National Post


 

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Many people order an espresso or reach for an energy drink when they need a boost. However, there are other foods that can give you a similar increase in energy and are, arguably, a lot healthier. Here are a few examples:

 

  Coconut oil. It contains high quantities of medium chain fats, which are a quick source of energy.

   Honey. It tastes sweet because it's a natural form of sugar. As we all know, sugar gives you a quick boost.

   Iron containing foods. Lack of iron in your diet can leave you feeling sluggish. Adding more beans, spinach, and lentils to your diet – perhaps in salads – can help boost your iron levels.

   Nuts. Almonds, cashews and other nutrient-rich nuts are the ideal quick snack for an energy boost.

   Dark chocolate. It’s great news for chocolate lovers, but keep the portions small.

 

Finally, not drinking enough water can also rob you of energy. In fact, water may be the best energy-boosting "food" of them all.

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If you're like most people, you go to see a doctor when you're not feeling well or have a health concern. However, you may also visit your doctor for a check-up, or to ask questions about healthy living.

In fact, consulting your doctor for anything health-related is a smart idea.

The same holds true when it comes to real estate.

Many people only call a REALTOR® when they're planning on selling their property or buying a new home, or both. While that's an important reason to speak to a REALTOR®, it's not the only reason.

Indeed, there are many good reasons for you to give a good REALTOR® a call. For example:

  • If you have a question about the state of the local real estate market. (Remember that it may be very different from what you hear on the news about the national market.)
  • If you want to get a sense of what homes are currently selling for in the area.
  • If you want to determine the current market value of your property.
  • If you want to find out how much homes cost in neighbourhoods you'd like to consider.
  • If you're thinking about the possibility of making a move, but you’re not sure if it’s the right time.

In other words, don't be afraid to contact a good REALTOR® when you have a question or need some advice about the real estate market. 

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Unless you're a real estate expert, you probably look at the market and think things are pretty confusing. Even a bit crazy! You hear news about “bubbles bursting”, “higher or lower home sales in a particular month”, “new home starts” that are up or down, and on and on it goes.

It’s a lot of news and a lot of jargon.

If you're thinking of selling your home within the next year or two, you will want to understand what's happening in the market so you can make the right decisions and get a clear sense of what to expect. So, how do you make sense of it all?

That's where a good REALTOR® can help.

Even if you don't have any definite plans to move in the near future, a REALTOR® who is an expert in the local marketplace can help you understand what homes in a particular neighbourhood are selling for, and what you can expect to get should you decide to list your property.

Getting to know a REALTOR® also means you’ll have a trusted expert to talk to from time to time, when you have real estate-related questions.

You’ll have someone you can think of as "Your REALTOR®".

Plus, when the time comes to sell your property, you won't have to deal with a stranger. Instead, you'll be able to work with a REALTOR® that you know well -- and who knows YOU. Overall, that will make the buying and selling process go more smoothly and more successfully.

Looking for a good REALTOR® who wants to get to know you? Call today!

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Thinking about installing wood floors? The first decision you need to make involves the type. According to the National Wood Flooring Association, there are four types:

  • Unfinished. This type requires you or your installer to sand and apply a finish. If you want a specific colour or style, or you're trying to match existing flooring, this might be the best option for you.
  • Factory finished. As the name suggests, this is flooring that has its finish applied in the factory. Although it is more expensive, factory finished flooring can be installed faster and can be walked upon immediately.
  • Solid. This is flooring that is made from a solid piece of wood, top to bottom. The advantage is that it can be sanded and refinished many times over the years, or even decades.
  • Engineered. This is flooring that is made of thin layers of wood pressed together. It can be engineered to be very durable and expand and contract less than solid flooring.

The type you choose depends on your needs. Talk to your dealer or contractor about your specific application.

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Many people only see a doctor when they're sick or have some other health concern. On the other hand, some people visit a doctor regularly for check-ups, to ask questions and get advice, and to maintain good health.

Which do you think is the better approach? Obviously, the second one!

The same thing is true when it comes to real estate. Even if you have no current plans to buy or sell a home, there are many reasons to talk to a REALTOR® regularly in order to maintain your good "real estate" health. For example, you can:

  • Get an assessment of the current market value of your home, so you can make an informed decision about whether to stay or move.
  • Ask about the state of the local real estate market (which may be vastly different than what you hear on the national news.)
  • Find out what homes are currently selling for in the area.
  • Learn what's currently available on the market, especially in neighbourhoods you would like to live in and that are within your budget.
  • Ask for a contractor recommendation.

In fact, it's a good idea to have a chat with your REALTOR® once or twice a year, even if it's just to say hello.

You want to build a relationship with a good REALTOR® who understands (and cares about) you and your needs. That way, when it does come time for you to make a move, you're dealing with a REALTOR® you already know and trust.

Don't have a good REALTOR®? Call today!

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When people renovate or remodel a room, they almost always overlook the door. However, changing the style of an interior door, or adding a new one, can dramatically change the look of a living space – often for the better.

The most common type of door is the traditional solid 6-panel door. But there are many other choices available. Want to add light and a greater sense of space to a room? Consider a door with glass panels. Do you have an interior door that gets in the way when opened? Change it to a bi-fold door, which cuts the distance of the swing in half.

There are also specialty doors that are designed to block noise, and sliding doors that tuck neatly into the wall when opened.

Interior doors are typically much less expensive than their exterior counterparts. So making the decision to upgrade or add a door to a room is an affordable design option.

Visit a door showroom and explore what's available.

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Remember the last time you visited an upscale furniture showroom? The furniture and fixtures on display probably looked great. The colours and textures jumped out at you. It was a feast for the eyes!

There is a good reason for this: lighting.

Of course, the quality of the products has a lot to do with how appealing they look when on display. But smart retailers know that proper lighting is key to making those products look their best. In fact, some retailers even hire lighting consultants!

What does this have to do with selling your home quickly, and for the best price?

Obviously, when showing your property to potential buyers, you want your home to look its very best. Proper lighting can be a big help.

When preparing your home for sale, review the lighting in each room and make sure the space is sufficiently well lit. You want the lighting to be strong enough to prevent dark or shadowy areas, yet not so strong that it's uncomfortable for the eyes.

As a rule of thumb, the total wattage of lights in a room should equal the room's square footage times 1.5. So, if a room is 120 square feet and has three light sources (ceiling light and two lamps) then the bulbs in each should be 60 watts.

Pay particular attention to traditionally dark areas, such as the garage, basement, and closets. Make sure those areas are well lit.

If you have a viewing scheduled during the day, take advantage of natural light through windows. Open the curtains! 

Finally, one of the most important areas is the foyer. Always make sure the entrance has sufficient lighting. You don't want buyers to think they've entered the home of classic TV's The Adam's Family!

Want more ideas for preparing your home for sale? Call today.

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What's one of the most important rooms in your home? When it comes to selling your property quickly, and for the best price, the answer is clearly the kitchen. In fact, one of the most common explanations a particular buyer gives for not making an offer is, "I liked the house, but I wasn't too keen on the kitchen."

That doesn't mean you must do a major renovation. However, you should do what you can to make the kitchen as attractive as possible to buyers.

Here are some ideas:

First, clear the countertops. Put away the toaster and other items. You want to make the entire countertop area seem as spacious as possible.

If the cabinetry is old, you can spruce it up by installing new knobs, handles and other hardware. A fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling can also make the kitchen look like it has had a major renovation – and it will only cost you a few hundred dollars. According to an article on the website HDTV.com, "The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware."

Replacing the count

Finally, when preparing your kitchen for a viewing, make sure it's clean and tidy. The garbage and recycling bins should be empty. Buyers will open cabinets so make sure items on shelves are neatly organized with the front labels facing forward.ertops is a more expensive renovation, but it may be worth it if the current counters are old and worn.

There are many other ways to make the most important room in your home look great to potential buyers. Call today for more ideas.

 

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If you don't own one already, you may be tempted to purchase a widescreen digital television to enjoy your favourite movies, shows and sports programs. However, it can be difficult to select the right screen size, especially if you've been accustomed to viewing a TV with a traditional 4:3 screen.

When it comes to size, there are many factors that come into play, such as screen resolution and personal preference. However, the last thing you want is to purchase an HDTV that is too small for the room, or so big that it dominates the space.

Here's a tip:

The rule of thumb is to take the distance you'll be sitting from the television and multiple by five to get the screen size you need. So if you'll be sitting eight feet away, you'll want to look at HDTVs with screens that are in the 35-45 inch range.

A good electronics dealer can help you make the best choice.

 

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