Before You Go On Vacation

If you are about to depart for a well deserved getaway, don't forget to get your home ready for your vacation.

Suspend mail and newspaper subscriptions.  Have a neighbour check on your home from time to time, especially if you don't have a modern security system that lets you observe your property from afar. But, don't cancel yard maintenance or plant-watering contracts, as a neglected yard could tip off burglars that nobody's home.

Consider unplugging non-essential appliances to save energy and protect them from potentially harmful electrical surges. And, remember not to post your vacation pictures on social media until after your return home - otherwise you'll be announcing that your home is unoccupied.

Finally, before you go, be sure you have adequate travel insurance and upload photos of critical travel documents and prescriptions to a cloud-based server for access from anywhere.

Have a great trip!

How Often???

How often do doctors recommend you get a check up?  Usually, once a year.  How regularly do advisors suggest you review your investments?  Most say at least annually.

So how often should you review your home with your real estate agent?  You guessed it, Once a year!! 

Why is that review so important?  First, your home is a big investment; probably your biggest.  So it's smart to get updated on on its current market value.  But there is more to it than that.  In addition to being an investment, your home is also part of your lifestyle.  It's important to review it each year to see if it's still a good fit for your changing needs.

As head of the Jennifer Gale Real Estate Team, myself or one of my partners would be happy to stop by at your convenience and do an "Annual Real Estate Checkup".  We'll let you know, approximately, what your property is worth on today's market, and can discuss with you the latest market trends.

Call or email myself or the team anytime you'd like to set up a review.

We look forward to meeting & working with you!

Tips for Navigating a New City

Moving to a new city can be intimidating and challenging. There are many ways anxiety can attack you when you are relocating. You want to make sure this move is advantageous for you and to do that, you want it to work in your favour.

When you are are finding yourself having to navigate a new city, here are some tips you will find useful. 

  • Locate important stores in your neighbourhood. Before you head out into the streets, you want to know the area you are going to live in first. Make sure to locate grocery and shopping stores that will provide you all the essentials you need for day to day life. 
  • Be adventurous. When you are wanting to learn a new city, there is no better way to learn it then one wrong turn at a time. Getting a little lost in a new city is a great way to learn the streets and how to navigate it. Just be sure you have your phone fully charged and access to a map.
  • Get to know what transportation is available. Even if you drive, when you want to go to high traffic areas, it's good to know if there is a bus that can get you there. Knowing the bus and subway systems will help you get around with or without a vehicle.
  • Make 'yes' your default answer. The best way to get to know new people and new things is by agreeing to do them. When you are asked to join things, say yes and go do it. It is a great way to learn about the various opportunities a new city has to offer.
  • Do a test run when going to work or other important places. This will give you a good feel for the time it takes to get to new locations. It is also a great way to gauge traffic and commute times. 
  • Use your current hobbies to help you get acquainted with new people. If you enjoy reading, join a book club. Likewise if music is your thing, use that to get to know local music clubs. Make your hobbies a great way for you to meet new people with similar interests. You can even make this a great time to take up something new you have been wanting to try. 
  • Talk to the locals. They are a wealth of information. By talking to the locals you can find out the best spots for nightlife, best restaurants to eat at and what areas of the city you should avoid. They are going to know their city best and in order for you to know it just as well, be willing to gain from the knowledge those native to the area have. 

 Moving to a new city can be stressful and challenging. You want to make it home as quickly as possible and these tips will help you achieve that. Don't stay locked in doors, go out and navigate your new city. 

 

 

Building A New Home

So you've decided to buy & build a new home, Congratulations! Building a new home is an exciting venture; but it can also be a stressful experience if you don't plan ahead. Here are some things to consider when you're purchasing a new construction: 

Research the Developer

Not all developers are created equal and some are more ethical than others. Who you buy from is just as important as what and where you buy, so choose wisely. A good start on your research is to make sure the developer/builder is a member of the Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA).

Be prepared for delays

When you buy a home already constructed, you approach the closing date, and as long as the lawyers do their part and the money changes hand, you can move in as planned. This is not always the case with new construction; there can be delays caused by supply shortages, worker strikes and everything in between. If you're selling your current home and have a closing date set, have a 'plan B' in case you can't move in to your new home as planned. You may have to put your possessions in storage and stay with friends or family for a time.

No Negotiation

In a regular real estate transaction, you can alter and tweak the Agreement of Purchase and Sale to suit your tastes. Everything from the window coverings to the price can be negotiated. There is less room for negotiation with a new home construction, especially when it comes to price and payment due dates.

Have your cash ready

You're going to have to make some cash payments along the way - these dates will be set out in the contract. Typically, you will need to pay when you initially sign the contract; then another payment halfway through the build, and the final one will be on or about the closing date. The dates and amounts will be clearly set out in the contract.

Plan for the Future

When you choose your new home and neighbourhood, choose with the future in mind as well as the present. Is your family growing? Then you may want to ensure there are schools and parks nearby. If you're going to be an empty-nester in a few years, then you may want a quieter neighbourhood. Layout, too, should be considered. For example, if stairs are going to be a problem down the road, then a bungalow may be more practical. 

The biggest benefit of purchasing a new home over an existing one is that you can choose the home of your dreams; you get to choose everything from your kitchen cupboards to flooring. If you know what to expect in advance, you'll be able to handle the challenges and obstacles that may come your way during the process. 

 

 

Buying an Investment Property! Here Is What You Need To Know....

Owning real estate can be a viable way for you to grow your nest egg, save for retirement, and have peace of mind knowing you're financially secure. If you're thinking of buying an investment property, there are many options to consider and decisions to be made before making a purchase. Consider your options carefully before jumping into the world of real estate. Here are just a few factors for you to be aware of:

Buy-and-hold vs. Flipping a property

Do you want to buy a home and rent it out? Are you ready to become a landlord? Everyone has heard at least one 'nightmare' story about the tenants who don't pay rent, or trash the place. It doesn't mean it would happen to you, but you're going to have to do your part to make sure you rent to honest, reliable people. Also, are you going to take on all of the repair calls yourself (and be called when the furnace breaks down at 2 in the morning), or are you going to hire a property manager?  We have partnered with Jackson Property Management and can get you connected!

Flipping a property means you can make a profit fairly quickly. Buy a home that needs some work, fix up the place and then sell for a profit. This is best suited for you if you consider yourself a handyman (or handywoman) and don't have to hire a contractor for the bulk of the work.

Both options can give you a nice income; one is a long-term strategy, while the other is short-term (usually less than one year).

Down payment

When you're buying a home for yourself, banks often allow for a 10% down payment towards the purchase. In some cases, it can be 5%. When you're buying an investment property, expect to put down much more than that. It can be as much as 30% depending on the lender. That's a big chunk of cash for most people, so do your homework when deciding on whether a property is worth buying or not.Don't forget to include other expenses in your calculations like closing costs.

Location

This is extremely important when buying an investment property. In fact, location is everything! Whether you're going to be renting the property or flipping it, you want to buy something in a popular neighbourhood, with low crime rates and a pleasant overall atmosphere. This will make it much easier to sell or attract renters. 

Also consider whether you're going to be managing the property yourself or hire a manager. If you're going to be doing it yourself, you'll likely want something fairly close to where you live.

If you're looking to invest in another country entirely, be aware that there may be different mortgage, tax and capital gains rules than if you buy in Ontario.

Buying an investment property can be incredibly rewarding but it is not for the faint of heart. Do your homework before you make any concrete decisions.  We are here to help!  Give us a call today!

Getting Your Home "Spring" Ready!

Spring is an ideal time to get your house in order, particularly if you're considering putting it on the market. These should definitely be on your spring 'to do' list:

Interior 

Clean, clean, clean: Baseboards, light switches, and other items you don't normally clean will need a good scrubbing after a long, dark winter. Get the whole family involved and this won't take nearly as long as you think.

HVAC System: Your furnace and air conditioning unit should be inspected, so call your furnace company to send a professional inspector. Now is also a good time to replace your furnace filter. 

Basement: Does your basement fall prey to spring thaws? Is there water or dampness that needs to be addressed? A dehumidifier can help dry up your crawlspace or basement. You may want to call in a professional to do any necessary repairs. 

Consider upgrades: If you're going to be putting your house on the market, simple, yet effective upgrades may be in order. In particular, potential buyers look for updated kitchens and bathrooms. You'll be amazed at what a fresh coat of paint can do to freshen up your home. Choose neutral colors, giving a 'move in ready' appearance. 

Declutter: Gather up those old papers and magazines that have been piling up all winter and either donate them or recycle them. The same goes for clothes, dishes and other items you no longer use. 

Exterior

Gutters: Leaves and other debris should be cleaned from your gutters so they can protect your home properly.

Doors & Windows:  Not only will these need to be cleaned, they may need to be painted to give them a fresh look. Consider replacing older windows and doors with more energy efficient models. They will cost more, but will be more appealing to buyers. 

Garden/Landscaping:  Curb appeal is everything. Clean up your yard, get rid of debris and leaves, and make sure the path to your front door is as appealing as possible. Flowers, shrubs, patio stones and lighting are all great ideas.

Roof: Is your roof more than 15 years old? It may need to be replaced. Check for leaks and repair any holes or cracks as soon as possible.

Getting your home spring-ready can help increase its value on the market and put more money in your pocket.

Buying a Home and The Importance of Conducting a Property Inspection

When purchasing real estate, such as your first home, it's very important to conduct a property inspection. Some people may try to save money by not doing a home inspection but we would be taking a huge chance in purchasing if we don't know the exact condition of the house.

Real estate is one of life's major purchases so it is extremely important for us to know the exact condition of the home before laying down our hard-earned cash. The true value of the home is dependent on its condition therefore; we need to be certain that the home is in good shape so we don't needlessly surprise ourselves with unnecessary repair bills after our purchase.

The Benefits of a Property Inspection

  • It will give us the complete information about any problems with the home
  • We will be better able to make an informed decision
  • It will give us leverage in negotiating the final price

What is Checked During a Property Inspection

The property inspector will go throughout the home, inside and out and check for any major repairs that may be needed. They will check such things as

  • The Foundation
  • The Home Exterior
  • The Roof
  • The Windows and Doors
  • The Basement
  • Ceilings
  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Electrical System
  • Heating System
  • Air Conditioning System
  • Interior Plumbing
  • Home Insulation
  • Ventilation

How Long Does It Take?

A good property inspection generally takes two to three hours, depending on the size of the house.

Who Pays For The Inspection?

Either the buyer or seller may have the home inspection. Sometimes both will do a separate inspection.

  • The benefit to the seller is that they will know about any repairs that will need to be done before they set their price.
  • The benefit to the buyer (you and I) is that we will be sure that everything is in accordance with the seller's property inspection. You can rest assured that there was nothing overlooked by the seller.

What is the Next Step?

Once the property inspection report has been written up, you can then evaluate whether you still wish to purchase the home. Obviously, older properties will probably have some repairs that are necessary. You will have to decide if you can afford to pay for the repairs yourself or if you should ask the seller to lower his/her asking price.

You will need to take all of these things into consideration before purchasing your home.




 

 

Contemplating Getting into Real Estate Investing??

Investing can be a roller coaster of a ride and this includes putting your money into real estate as well, but the ride is short and the gains are worth it in the long run!

Most Canadians who put their hard earned money into their homes and build up equity versus choosing the stock market road will end up earning more in the long game.  

Why Invest in Real Estate versus other avenues?

1. It's a solid, familiar investment

2. Forced Savings - having to contribute and make monthly payments on your mortgage builds up equity and future security for you and your family.

3. Appreciation - roller coaster of supply and demand trends means your home will increase in value 

4. Tax Free Profits - when you sell your principal residence, any profits earned on the sale are tax free! 

5. Building up Equity - the value of your home will rise over time simply by doing nothing and each monthly payment pays down your mortgage over time as your home value rises...the difference between value and balance of mortgage = home equity.  You can turn in this earned equity for additional financial room, to ask for a second mortgage, or maybe to upgrade your principal residence.  Having equity gives you more choice and opportunity to better your circumstances and provide future security.

If you are thinking of getting into Real Estate Investing and want to learn more.... we are hosting our first ever Seminar on Investing in Real Estate on Thurs March 8th from 7-9pm at the Re/Max a-b Realty office in downtown Woodstock, 463 Dundas St.  Come listen, ask questions and meet our team!  We will have industry expert key note speakers, wine and cheese and door prizes. This will be a fantastic opportunity to learn how to start making your money work for you!!! Hope to see you there!  Please RSVP by March 1st to Lisa at 519 788 9624 or by email to jennygsells@gmail.com 

Home Selling or Buying Goals in 2018?

Here are 5 New Year's Resolutions as we begin 2018, that will help you succeed in selling or buying your home as outlined in the Re/Max Blog this month..... when deciding to sell your home, first impressions are everything and if looking to buy, the focus is on finances.  Mortgage rules are changing as of Jan 1st 2018, so please see previous blogs that explain the changes and what you can do to lessen the stress.

Ready to Sell Your Home?

1.  Mark Your Calendar!

- Set a date and then prepare a list of what needs to be done before your home hits the market.

2.  Repair and Replace

- Assess your home's current condition and make any necessary repairs before listing.

3.  Get Comparables

- 3 to 6 months in advance of listing your home, research what other houses similar to yours are selling at to give you an idea of home value and what to expect... a variety of factors come in to play that can affect your home's value.  Be on the look out for your Postcard coming soon in the mail, inviting you to call our team for your free market analysis! 

4.  Cut the Clutter!

- Take stock of what you want, need, love.  A cluttered house represents lack of space to potential buyers and can negatively impact an offer coming in.

5.  Stage to Sell

- put away personal mementos like family photos... buyers like neutrality where they can see themselves in your home void of your memories... a blank slate for their new memories to be born.  Allen on our team is an expert in this area and can lend advise on staging your home in a positive light, give him a call!

Ready to Buy A Home?

1.  Start Saving for your Down Payment

- you will need at least 20% down!  Time to start thinking of how you are going to save and what to sacrifice to get there.

2.  Check your Credit Rating

- Credit Score is a number between 300-900 where a score of 690 or above is considered "good" by Equifax.  Mortgage lenders will look at your credit score in tandem with other factors but it is good to know where you are at, so you have time to work on improving your score prior to applying for mortgage approval.  Which ties into number 3.....

3.  Credit Clean Up

4.  Get Pre Approved for a Mortgage

- Recommended you have your pre-approved mortgage prior to house shopping, so you know what your budget is and what you can and can not afford. to avoid disappointment.

5.  Start shopping!

- The internet is a great resource to start your search, but why not trust a professional in the field who knows the market and the neighborhoods you are searching in?  Give Jennifer or Allen a call and let them wow you with their experience, knowledge and fun approach to the process!

Tis The Season, Tips to Winterize Your Home!

Now that winter has arrived with a bang... you may be wondering how to reduce costs and remain cozy and warm for the months ahead!  Here are some tips to help winterize your home (if you haven't already):

1.  CHANGE YOUR FURNACE FILTERS

During the heating season it's important to replace or clean your filters once a month... failing to do so may reduce airflow to your home, in turn raising energy demands.

2.  RUN FANS IN REVERSE

Switching your blade rotation to clockwise will warm the room as air will be circulated back down into your living spaces, and you could save up to 10% in heating costs!

3.  WINTERIZE YOUR A/C AND WATER LINES

Simply drain and hoses and pipes.  Turn off any water shutoff valves.  If A/C units are the window type, please remove and store to avoid unnecessary drafts.

4.  TURN DOWN YOUR WATER HEATER

Many conventional water heaters are set to 140F but can be turned down to 120F , helpng to reduce costs by 6-10%.  Have you thought of maybe making the switch to a tankless water heater or maybe even solar power?  If so, the government is offering tax relief until Dec 2019 

5.  DODGE THE DRAFT(S)

Simply place a rolled towel or blanket under any drafty space such as doors, windows.  According to a US Energy study, drafts can waste 5-30% of energy use.

6.  INSTALL STORM DOORS/WINDOWS

Storm doors/windows can make a huge difference as they seal drafts and reduce airflow while at the same time increasing light and ventilation into your home.

7.  GIVE YOUR HEATING SYSTEM A TUNE-UP

Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use and prolong the life of your furnace or other heating system.

8.  MIND THAT THERMOSTAT

You can save 1-3% on heating costs by each degree you lower the thermostat.

9.  PUT UP SOME PLASTIC

By applying to windows, this added buffer can enhance your home's ability to hold heat.

10.  USE AN ENERGY MONITOR

A device which calculates household electrical usage in real time and projects monthly bill amounts...giving you the opportunity to see where to cut out waste.

11.  SEAL DUCTS

12.  BOOST INSULATION

13.  INSULATE PIPES

Pay less for hot water and decrease chances of pipes freezing and breaking/cracking.