Living in a condo doesn’t necessarily mean owners need to abandon the idea of enjoying greenspace. In fact, although condos are often associated with a lifestyle that offers reduced outdoor maintenance responsibilities compared to a traditional house, many condo dwellers enjoy the responsibilities of a community garden because it gives them a strong connection to a parcel of land they can call their own. It’s the kind of experience that can be enormously gratifying and rewarding. You may be surprised by how achievable such an opportunity can be.
If the idea appeals to you, check with your condo board and/ or municipality to see if one already exists nearby. If not, find out what programs and potential grants might be available to start such an initiative.
With the proper support, you may discover that land is actually accessible. For example, your own condo grounds could have an underutilized area that can provide a fertile patch for a community garden. Other areas to explore are local schoolyards, public parkland, government-zoned property, and neglected or abandoned lots.
With the outdoor cooking season in full swing, this is a good time to review best practices for barbecue safety and health. Whether you cook with propane, charcoal or wood, it’s important that you exercise extreme care in the use of your outdoor unit and its fuel. For example, always make sure you have a fire extinguisher at hand. Fire extinguishers are classified by the type of fire. Be sure to purchase the appropriate one. Also, be mindful to keep open flames away from any structure that could catch fire from an errant spark, and never leave a flame unattended.
Food preparation and refrigeration is equally important. Be mindful that during hot weather freshly cooked meat can grow harmful bacteria within an hour (or less) of being removed from high heat. Similarly, any dishes with egg or milk in their recipes will spoil very quickly, particularly in direct sunlight. Be sure to cover or chill your food until it is ready to be served.
If your balcony is exposed to direct sunlight during the summer’s warmest days, you are potentially being robbed of enjoyable outdoor living space for a substantial part of the year – and essentially underutilizing your real estate investment. Given that many condo boards do not allow permanently installed enclosures or awning mechanisms on balconies – especially in high-rise structures – owners are left to consider temporary portable solutions to help make their balconies more bearable during peak summer weather.
One option is a tall, free-standing hinged screen frame that unfolds like a room divider. Another option might be a canvas that can be stretched across a portion of your balcony, and tacked like a sail to follow the movement of the sun. If those options are not permissible according to your condo agreement, then a small patio umbrella might be the obvious best choice. Pick one with an offset stand that droops fabric from an overhead perch, rather than opening up like a parasol. That will give you more flexibility to arrange your balcony furnishings within the available space.
Here's a surprising statistic. Less than 30% of window replacements are the result of the old windows being worn, broken or otherwise in need of replacement.
Clearly, there are other good reasons to consider new windows!
One of the most popular motivations is cosmetic. Brand new windows have a huge impact on the overall look of a home, both on the inside and the outside. New windows can improve curb appeal — an important element when you sell a home. From the inside, new windows can dramatically improve the look of a room.
Another reason to replace windows is to address energy costs. Modern windows are packed with technologies that lower heating/cooling bills. From low-e/argon to special spacer bars to high-insulating construction, these technologies can provide savings you'll notice, especially if you're replacing very old windows.
A third reason is window style and characteristics. Simply put, you may not like your current windows! You may want more glass and less frame to enhance your view. Maybe your windows pull up (vertical sliders) when you'd rather have them open like a door (casements). Perhaps you'd like fancy blinds in-between the panes of glass. Replacing windows lets you get exactly the look and features you want.
Will new windows boost the resale value of your home? They might, at least a little. But there's one thing for certain: upgraded windows definitely make your home look more appealing to buyers.
Do you have only a few weeks to search for your next dream home? Don't panic. There are things you can do to find the perfect (or, at least, almost perfect) property — without getting too stressed out! Consider these tips:
• Pre-arrange your mortgage. You want to be able to make a good offer on a home right away, without worrying about financing. So, talk to your mortgage advisor or lender about getting a mortgage preapproval. Sellers will take your offer more seriously if you have financing in hand.
• Decide what you want. What type of home are you looking for? What type of neighbourhood do you want to live in? The narrower your focus, the less time you’ll waste looking at properties that don’t fit your needs.
• Be open to possibilities. There are probably terrific homes on the market — right now — that are close to what you're looking for. So be prepared to consider properties that are less-than-perfect. Remember, what a home lacks today may be remedied with a renovation later on.
• Be flexible with your schedule. When you see a home you like, schedule a viewing immediately, even if it's at an inconvenient day/time, such as a weekday after work. Finding a great home, quickly, is worth some inconvenience.
• Get alerted to new listings. As they say, the early-bird gets the worm. So arrange to be alerted to new listings the moment they come on the market. That way, you can see these properties right away.
Want more tips on finding a home, quickly? Give me a call.
If you're thinking about buying a new home, you may be considering purchasing in a new development. How does that compare to purchasing a resale property?
Buying a newly-built home has some advantages. Depending on the development, you may have leeway in the style of the home and the lot you choose. Also, when the home is built, you'll be moving into a place where everything is brand new!
On the downside, however, you may be forced to make a decision based purely on marketing brochures and floor plans. Unless there's a model home just like the one you want, you'll be buying sight unseen. Also, there may be unpredictable construction delays — an unpleasant experience if you've already sold your current property.
Of course, buying a resale home may also have a downside. For example, the house might need work, such as a new roof. What you see is pretty much what you get. And, that’s true for the floor plan too. You can't ask for the living room to be five feet wider, unless you decide to renovate.
On the other hand, a big advantage of a resale home is moving into a neighbourhood that is already there for you to see and explore. Unlike in a new development, you can get a very clear idea of what it’s going to be like to live there.
Plus, you get to see the house too!
Regardless of which way you go, I can help you make the best decision and find the home that's perfect for you. Call today.
It can be tough to make the decision to sell. In fact, for many homeowners, it's overwhelming. If you're considering making a move and struggling with the decision, here are five helpful questions to ask yourselves:
1. “What are our practical reasons for selling?” This question refers to what you'll get by moving to a new home. The reasons could include a bigger backyard, shorter commute to work, an extra bedroom, a more desirable neighbourhood, etc.
2. “What are our emotional reasons for selling?” This question refers to how you'll feel about living in a new home. For example, you might feel safer, less cramped, less worried (because the local schools are better), or happier (because the shorter commute means more time with your family.)
3. “What type of new home can we afford?” This question involves finding out how much you'll likely get when you sell your existing home and how much of a mortgage you qualify to receive. With that information, you'll have a price range within which you can comfortably shop plus a clear idea of what your mortgage payments will be.
4. “In what ways will our lifestyle be better in a new home?” This ties in closely with emotional reasons for selling. It relates to what your life will be like in a new home. Try to paint a picture in your mind. For example, you might want to be able to spend Saturday afternoons relaxing in your bigger backyard or Sunday nights entertaining friends and family in your larger living room.
5. “What else do we need to know before we decide to sell and move?” Sometimes people are hesitant about selling simply because they have unanswered questions. So, if there’s any part of the selling and buying process that’s not clear, be sure to ask me.
Did thinking about these questions help make the decision easier? If you need more help or want to talk about your decision, call today!
Imagine you’ve dreamed of living in a particular neighborhood, perhaps for years, and then, when you're finally ready to make a move, finding out that the area is competitive and buying there is definitely a challenge.
A disappointment? Not necessarily. There is a lot you can do to buy into a popular neighborhood, even in competitive offer situations.
Your first step is to start targeting that area now. Find out about property types, prices and trends. In particular, you’ll need to know what price range you should be thinking about, and making sure that it’s going to fit your budget. To do that, you might need to get a determination of the Fair Market Value of your current home.
Next, begin making preparations so you can get a jump on opportunities in that neighborhood quickly. You don't want to see a great property come on the market and not be ready to make a move. So, get your current home in order so it’s ready for a quick listing.
If possible, make arrangements to get alerted to new listings as soon as they come on the market. Keep in mind that a new listing may not appear online for several days. By getting advance notice, you can be among the first buyers to see the home and have an early advantage over other buyers.
If it's likely there's going to be competing offers for the home you want, there are many strategies that can increase your chances of winning. These involve going in at the right price, minimizing conditions to the offer, presenting the offer appropriately, and negotiating effectively.
Is there a neighborhood you want to get into? I can help make it happen. Call today.
Balancing the Emotional and Practical Sides of Buying a Home
Imagine this scenario...
You're shopping for a new home. You drive to visit a recent listing. As you walk through the front doors, you're impressed. Every room looks fantastic. You see yourself relaxing on the spacious patio, cooking in the modern kitchen, and enjoying evenings with the family in the cozy living room.
Your emotions are on overdrive. This is your dream home!
Should you make an offer? Probably. In fact, you should make that decision quickly in case there are other interested buyers.
However, your decision shouldn't be guided purely by emotion. You want to make sure you take practical matters into consideration too.
For example, you'll want to consider:
· Is the property within your price range?
· Does it have everything you need?
· Do you like the neighbourhood?
· How old is the property? Are there items, such as the furnace, that may need to be replaced soon?
· Will it need any major repairs or upgrades?
· What are the average monthly costs of carrying the home? (Property taxes, utilities, etc.)
Once you've considered the purchase of the home from a practical standpoint, you'll have a lot more confidence in your decision when you make an offer.
When you're having a garage sale, one of the toughest tasks is pricing your items. If you put a price tag on your old golf clubs that’s too high, no one will buy them. If you make the price too low, they might sell quickly, but you’ll spend the rest of the day wondering if you could have gotten more!
It's similar to selling your home — except with your home, the stakes are much higher.
You want to price your property to sell, but you don’t want to leave any money on the table.
How do you accomplish that?
Setting the right list price for your home requires a combination of skilled calculation and industry savvy.
Let's start with the "calculation" part...
When you work with me, I'll review recently sold properties that are similar to yours in type, size, features and location. Then, using that data, we’ll calculate a range that represents your property's "current market value."
For example, consider a spacious 15-year-old bungalow in a nice neighbourhood. If similar homes in the area have sold for $475,000- $550,000 in the last six months, then it's obvious that your home should sell in that range too. A list price above or below that range would be in the danger zone.
But skilled calculation is only half the task.
Setting your list price also requires expertise in the local market, combined with good old-fashioned gut instinct. That instinct comes from being on the front lines of many property transactions.
That's why working with a good real estate salesperson is so important, when you’re deciding on the list price for your home.