What You Should Know About Home Inspections and How to Prepare for One

Home buyers need inspections to verify that the property they’re about to pay for is in great shape. If the home isn’t in the best shape, the inspection will also reveal the exact issues, extent of wear and tear, and the effort necessary to reverse damages.

The following are a few things you need to know about these inspections and tips to help you prepare for an inspection.

What To Know About Home Inspections

  • Inspections are Optional

Although very important in real estate transactions, inspections are not mandatory. The decision to have a home inspection is completely up to you. No one can force you to have an inspection.  

  • Buyers Are Responsible

Part of your responsibility as a buyer is to hire a home inspector (if you feel it’s necessary). You must also ensure that the inspection is completed within a reasonable time frame and be prepared to shoulder the costs.

  • The Inspector Must Be Certified

Since the Canadian home inspection industry is largely unregulated, find an inspector attached to one of the several provincial associations. These associations are bound by the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors’ (CAHPI) Standards of Practice.

  • You Can Attend Inspections

In fact, it’s in your best interest to attend. You will learn a lot about the home and how to best care for it should you decide to buy. Fortunately, most inspectors have no problem with buyers tagging along and even encourage it.

  • You Can Walk Away After an Inspection

If the inspection reveals major issues, you can negotiate renovations with the seller. But, if the negotiations bear no fruit, you have the right to walk away. If this happens, the seller gets to keep your initial deposit as collateral.

How To Prepare for a Home Inspection

  • Know the Cost

The average cost of a professional home inspection is $315. For condos and small homes under 1,000sq ft., you’ll pay around $200. For homes over 2,000sq ft., expect to pay around $400.

  • Find a Professional Inspector

The best place to begin your search is your real estate agent’s office. A great agent will be more than willing to help you get recommendations.

  • Schedule the Inspection

Most home inspectors work 24/7, even on weekends. Ensure to settle on a date that’s convenient for both of you. The inspection should take 2-3 hours.

  • Prepare to Take Notes

Since the inspector will most likely allow you to tag along, bring a pen and notebook to take notes during the inspection. You can also take pictures with your phone.

  • Ask for a Report

At the end of the inspection, the inspector should give you a detailed report on findings. Make sure to ask for this report and save it safely.

Remember…

Buyers benefit the most from home inspections. Yes, some sellers will recommend it. But it’s your job as a buyer to ensure that the property is inspected before you make the final decision.

Prepping Your Home for Fall

It’s time to prep for those cooler days and cozier homes. Whether that means you add to or finish your honey-do list, fall is a great season. Summer has settled, the kids are back in school and finally routine is back in order and those windows are open getting that nice clean air in!

Fall also means vibrant red, orange, and yellow foliage, lots of pumpkins. But, it also means winter isn't far away. Here are a few projects—from looking after your exterior to maintaining your heating system—that can help your home brace for the cold and save you some cash.

Interior Maintenance

  1. Check for drafts. 

  2. Have your furnace inspected. 

  3. Winterize air conditioning. 

  4. Programmable thermostat. 

  5. Test home safety devices. 

  6. Clean humidifiers. 

Exterior Maintenance

  1. Do a roof check. 

  2. Check the chimney and fireplace.

  3. Stock up on firewood. 

  4. Inspect siding. 

  5. Clean the gutters. 

  6. Check water drainage. 

  7. Reinforce windows and doors. 

  8. Turn off faucets and store hoses.

  9. Service sprinklers and irrigation system. 

  10. Inspect trees.

  11. Trim landscaping. 

  12. Bring in flowerpots. 

  13. Plant bulbs. 

  14. Leaf removal. 

  15. Fertilize lawn. 

  16. Put away seasonal furniture. 

  17. Close the pool. 

  18. Organize the shed. 

In the Garage

  1. Service summer power equipment. 

  2. Store summer vehicles.

  3. Get winter equipment ready. 

  4. Test the generator.

  5. Buy extra gasoline. 

  6. Clean the garage. 

The Best Time to Buy

For many people, perhaps even you, the real estate market seems to have more ups and downs than a roller coaster ride! That can be worrisome, especially if you're thinking of buying a new home in the near future.

So many people get very concerned about trying to "time" the market.  That's nearly impossible. As your real estate agent, I can tell you from experience that it's always best to make a move when you want to find a new home - whether that's this year, next year, or 10 years from now. When you're ready, I'll be here, helping you find the ideal property at a price that fits within your range.

Also, keep in mind that there's often a big difference between the local market and the national scene. It's the national market that gets all the press, but here, locally, things can be very different.

Fortunately, I'm an expert in this local market.  So unlike the national news, I can give you personalized and accurate advice that will make finding your next dream home a reality.

When you are ready to sell your home and/or look for a new one, give me and my team a call and lets get the conversation started!

Give Outdoor Furniture a Facelift

As the summer stretches on, and your patio furnishings start to show the signs of use, you may want to try these simple ways of restoring them to their original luster.

Before trying any of these techniques, always test in an inconspicuous area first. For vinyl cushions and fabrics without specific instructions for upkeep, try a mixture of water and mild detergent with an "oxi-cleansing" additive for stains. Avoid chlorine bleach that can corrode stitching and cause discoloration. Rinse thoroughly and dry without direct sunlight.

Furniture frames require specific care, depending on the material. Wicker should be vacuumed and/or brushed before a gentle washing and rinsing with a garden hose (not a power washer). Aluminum frames will keep their appearance longer if you apply and buff a coating of car wax after wiping clean and drying. Natural woods fare well when scrubbed with commercial oil soap (not detergent), and can retain their integrity longer with a weather-resistant stain or urethane treatment. To help your outdoor furniture last from season to season, invest in weather-resistant slip-covers.

Happy Restoring!

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.