home living room

What to Look for When Viewing a Home

home living room

Conducting a walkthrough of a home can be a jarring experience. You have a wishlist, a set of expectations, and a list of red flags to avoid. Can you get everything you want? Unlikely. But, you can come pretty close.

If you aren’t an experienced home builder, some common red flags might slip past you. Thankfully, the experienced team at Jeff King Real Estate has seen it all when it comes to home walkthroughs and we’re here to help you get the most out of the process. 

Read on for our top things to look out for when viewing a home so that you can confidently shop the Nanaimo real estate market.

Cracks In Walls

Cracks in the wall of a home are one of the biggest red flags you can encounter. To be clear: cracks in drywall less than a few feet long are okay, but anything larger than that is a no go–especially if it is noticeably discoloured.

There is a low chance that a crack like this means nothing. It is often a sign of movement, indicating that there may be structural problems with the home. Inquire with the seller about the crack. If they can’t explain where it came from, it could end up being a big problem for you. 

roof of a house

Ask About The Roof

Since most home showings don’t include a visit to the rooftop, it is on you to inquire about what kind of shape it is in. Ask how long ago the roof was installed and what materials it is made out of (this could include tar and gravel, asphalt, steel, or wood). 

Jot down the average lifespans of some common roofing materials beforehand so you know when you may need to make replacements. For older homes, don’t be afraid to seek an expert’s opinion. Older homes often have more layers of roofing to replace, where it’s common to find problem areas.

Inspect Plumbing

Plumbing is an area that you should always be concerned about. Try out every faucet and showerhead in the house to make sure that they have adequate water pressure, and check toilets for backups.

Many home visitors will also check the smell, taste, and temperature of the water – which is something you will notice every day if something is wrong. While you are near the bathroom, check the flooring for unexpected sagging or dipping, which could be a sign of rot or other structural problems. 

Try Out Windows 

Low-quality windows creak and groan, and warped frames make it hard to close or lock them. This may not be a huge problem for one or two of your windows, but what if you need to replace windows for the whole house?

Window replacements are expensive but leaving those old single-pane windows in place results in a higher heating bill since they don’t keep the cold out. 

Explore Storage Options

If the owner is still living in the home, you may feel that it is inappropriate to peer into their belongings during your visit. Trust us, it isn’t.

You will need to know exactly how much storage there is in the home for your belongings when the time comes, so don’t stress about exploring closets, cabinets, and other storage spaces.

basement of a home

The Basement: Where Big Problems Begin

The basement is a great indicator of the structural integrity of the home. Moisture is a big problem whether it is dry or wet outside, so look for any wet spots (especially in dark, faraway corners). 

Chalky white substances on walls, discoloured paint, or rotting wood are also signs of water intrusion.

It’s not out of line to ask that stored belongings be moved so that you  can view every part of the basement. Even if the current owner isn’t meaning to “hide” anything, you deserve to know exactly what shape the space is in.

Examine Trees

A good home viewing isn’t just about what you find inside. The exterior is important too, especially what can damage the exterior. Look for tall, older trees near the property. These are at the highest risk of falling during a bad storm (anyone buying real estate in Nanaimo should know that these weather events do happen).

Aside from falling trees, roots growing into your basement and bug infestations are other less-known concerns with large trees on your property. Plus tree removal is an expensive process, especially if you live in a dense, hard-to-maneuver lot. 

Quick Flips

House flipping is prevalent wherever the market is hot, and Nanaimo’s real estate prices make the city attractive for many buyers.

Ask your real estate agent about how long the home was owned by its previous owners. A short turnaround time means that it will be important to “read between the lines”. Newer fixtures, flooring, and other aesthetic features could be hiding deeper structural problems

If you start to feel concerned about this, inquire about the existing warranties attached to the home, and whether they are transferable to a new owner.

Thinking About a Fixer Upper?

In our blog post on fixer upper homes, we talked about what to look out for when finding a home that you will be putting some work into.

If you notice the red flags listed above (especially if they are structural), we recommend bringing an architect or licenced home inspector around to a second home showing so that you can have a professional opinion of what you are getting into.

How to Have a Successful House Viewing

There’s no better way to feel confident about your house viewing than working with a realtor that you can trust. At Jeff King Real Estate, we understand the Nanaimo real estate market deeply and bring over a decade of experience helping buyers buy property in B.C

Want to learn more about working with us? Get in touch today. 

kitchen being renovated

Buying a Fixer-Upper: Is It Really Worth It?

kitchen being renovated

Should you buy a fully finished home or put money into a fixer-upper? This is a big question for people buying property in BC. 

The right renos can boost a home’s value significantly, but there are risks too. Renovations are expensive and unforeseen setbacks can cost you big.  That said, even if it doesn’t seem like you are saving much buying a fixer-upper (especially with recent Nanaimo real estate prices) it can still be tempting to leave your mark. 

Want to make the right choice when buying a fixer upper in BC? Here is our guide to choosing the right option, and knowing how to spot the right property in your local real estate listings

Advantages of Fixer Upper Homes

The main reason that buyers are interested in fixer uppers is lower cost. Buyers will weigh the savings they make against the approximate spend of all the renovations that need to be completed.

Buyers are also concerned with the value they can add to the home, especially when viewing it as an investment property. This can be a tough calculation to make on the spot, so it is best to be conservative when crunching the numbers. 

As well, many buyers also assume they can save money with “do-it-yourself” fixes for all but the most major renovations. 

Drawbacks of Fixer Upper Homes

Renovating a new home is exciting. It’s an opportunity to put your vision into action and learn some DIY skills along the way.

But, anyone who has purchased a fixer upper before knows that renovating can also mean ballooning budgets and blown timelines. This  can eat up time and money, and you will need to consider these costs when you decide whether to buy the home.

Recent price hikes for building materials have been a lesson for home renovators. Disruptions in the supply chain should be expected at some point during your home renovation journey. 

When prices of lumber and other building materials rise, you may be put in a tough position: wait in your unfinished home until prices eventually settle, or “bite the bullet” and get your renos done on time for a higher cost.

As well, finding reputable contractors can be hard work. The best local teams will often be booked up for months in advance, and delays can be common.

It can also be hard to live in a home that is being renovated. Think of the last time  you went without a kitchen or bathroom for a day, then imagine  you will be spending months with at least something being worked on in your home. 

If these factors aren’t enough to make you think twice, remember that renovations need to comply with your local building codes, and additional costs come in the form of building permits, disposal fees, architectural drawings, and much more. 

In conclusion: a lot can go wrong when you buy a fixer upper. The only way to know what to expect is by experiencing it firsthand.

Finding the Right Fixer Upper

If you decide on buying a fixer upper, you will need to know what to look for when checking your local real estate listings.  Here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, confirm whether the renovations you would make are cosmetic or structural. Cosmetic renovations are easier for you to do yourself, like drywall repair or floor finishing.

Structural renovations will likely require the help of a contractor. This includes anything to do with the plumbing, electrical, roof system, or foundation of the home. Many experienced renovators shy away from homes requiring any structural work due to the excessively high cost.

Next,consider the location of the home. If the neighbourhood is becoming more desirable, you could see a larger increase in the value of your home aside from the renovations you are doing.

Be realistic about your DIY skills. A willingness to be “handy” goes a long way, but you should ask the opinion of experienced friends and family so you don’t get in over your head.

Above all, take the time to complete a full home inspection before you put an offer in on a home. There’s nothing worse than starting off a renovation by finding out about some unexpected problems.

Ready to Get Renovating?

assorted tools arranged on surface

Fixing up older or underutilized homes is a passion project for some and also a way to earn a profit. Nanaimo real estate prices are strong, and many buyers are getting into the market by investing in fixer uppers. 

Have you caught the reno bug? Learn about the best fixer upper homes on the market by getting in touch with the Jeff King Real Estate team. We know how to find great deals on homes with potential in some of Nanaimo’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods–and we love working with people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty or cooking dinner on the back porch for a few weeks. 

nanaimo harbour

Guide to Moving to Nanaimo: What to Expect

nanaimo harbour

After all the work of finding the right property and budgeting for the costs of your new home, getting ready to make your move to Vancouver Island is a cause for celebration. 

There are many reasons why so many people are choosing to relocate to the Nanaimo area. Retirement, job prospects, and a relaxed West Coast lifestyle are common motivators. But there are also some important factors to consider when gearing up for the big move, and this article will make sure that you are on the right path.

We’re not just talking about packing a good rain jacket (although that is very important). Here is your full guide on moving to Nanaimo, from the real estate team that knows the market better than anyone else!

Preparing for the Big Move

man moving into a new home

Moving may be exciting, but that doesn’t make it easy. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve moved before, a big move comes with its share of curveballs.

Here are some tips for getting your move done right.

  • Label your boxes with the rooms  they will be going into.
  • Pack an “essentials” box. This will include a few sets of cutlery and plates, kitchenware, cleaning supplies, dish towels, and anything else you will need for your first night in your new home. 
  • Use larger sized moving boxes instead of a range of different sizes. This makes them easier to stack and means fewer trips to the truck for you or your moving company.
  • Give yourself lots of time to move properly. Start at least 1-2 weeks before your moving date and try to make an inventory of what items you are packing and how many boxes are packed. This will help you track in case anything gets lost along the way.

Getting to Nanaimo

Living in Nanaimo offers unique experiences and a laid back lifestyle (not to mention some amazing seafood). But Vancouver Island does present one challenge that takes a bit of getting used to: transportation.

Moving to the Island means that you will need to transport the majority of your possessions using the BC Ferries system. Uhaul and other moving trucks qualify as an oversized fare, so you will need to budget for this additional cost. 

Also, it’s always a good idea to book a reservation and avoid travel on summer weekends and holidays year round. The Island is a popular holiday destination, and traffic surges during these times.

If you are travelling with personal luggage, you can opt to get to Nanaimo by seaplane, helicopter, or by flying into Nanaimo Airport from Vancouver or select local cities.

Worried about the cost and time of traveling to the mainland in the future? Thankfully, Nanaimo and nearby Victoria are home to all services that you could need. 

A high-speed commuter ferry is currently in the works, which will take passengers directly to Vancouver’s Waterfront Station – just in case business or personal reasons mean that you will have to travel often to the big city. 

So You Made it to Nanaimo. Now What?

There’s not much more tiring after a long day of moving. Reward yourself with a takeout meal from one of the local favourites like Smokin’ George’s BBQ, sushi from Nori Japanese, or Pizza from Mambo.

Then you can start getting settled, unpacking those neatly packed moving boxes and furnishing your new home just how you like it. 

You only get to be a “newcomer” once in Nanaimo, and thankfully there are several local organizations that are dedicated to making you feel at home

The Nanaimo Newcomers Club is an organization for women to get involved socially, and the City of Nanaimo keeps a record of hundreds of social, cultural, and sports clubs for anyone to join. The benefits of living in a city of 100,000+ people are that there are probably others who share the same interests as you, yet there is still a feeling of small town charm.

Weather in Nanaimo

Nanaimo has a reputation for having one of the mildest climates in Canada. It’s location in Vancouver Island’s rainforest means that the average winter temperature is approximately 8 degrees celsius.

Although you don’t need to prepare for the worst like Canadians in the rest of the country, there are still some things to consider. 

Although snow is rare, it does happen in Nanaimo. Keep a snow shovel and sidewalk salt stash, as these items sell out quickly in stores when snow does fall. 

Most Nanaimo residents don’t own snow tires, unless they plan on travelling to other regions in the winter (like the Mt. Washington ski resort, only a 90 minute drive from Nanaimo).

Of course, the rainy climate means that you should prepare by having decent raingear, and ensuring that the drainage around your home is adequate.

Enjoying Your New Life in Nanaimo

kayaks beside the ocean in nanaimo

“The Harbour City” offers an excellent quality of life and access to amenities without the “big city hustle” that is the fast-growing Victoria region directly to the south.

This has led to increased demand in the Nanaimo real estate market and an influx of new residents. The city is slated for growth for years to come, so come be a part of it!

Have any more questions about Nanaimo real estate or living in Nanaimo? Get in touch with our team. We know the market, and we love helping people start a new life in Nanaimo. 

couple painting a room

What to Fix Before Selling Your Home

couple painting a room

Keeping your home in good condition can feel like a full time job. Unless you have plenty of time on your hands, it’s difficult to repair everything that you need to.

When you are thinking about selling your home, you may have to make some tough decisions about what gets fixed first. In the red hot Nanaimo real estate market, properties have been going fast!

Here are the most important things to fix before selling your home. When the time comes, check out our blog post on finding the right contractor so you can trust that the job is being done right.

Repairing vs. Upgrading

There is a fine line between repairs and upgrades around the house. Generally, repairs are important fixes that you can make to maintain the value of your home. Upgrades are optional fixes that increase the value of your home.

Upgrades usually involve something new, like new appliances or hardwood floors where carpet used to be. 

Kitchen Appliances

The kitchen is one of the most important areas of the home and it also goes through a lot of wear and tear. Appliances need special attention. Take care of any leaks or minor malfunctions, and check your fridge to see if it needs a new water filter or a freon replacement.

Kitchen Cabinets

Loose hinges, stuck drawer tracks, or chipped paint are examples of issues that you can fix with a quick trip to the hardware store and some DIY YouTube videos. 

You should look for the beginning signs of water damage or rot, especially in cabinets that are close to your sink or dishwasher. Even if these signs are purely cosmetic, it can convince a buyer that there are other plumbing issues lurking below the surface.

Wiring and Electrical Issues

Defective or outdated wiring will be one of the first things noticed in a home inspection. This will make potential buyers wary, so it is much better to resolve any issues with a licenced electrician.

Smaller issues could include faulty light switches or missing wire nuts, which are relatively easy to fix. Larger problelms, such as circuit breaker replacements or other internal issues, could cost you $1,000 or more.

Carpets and Flooring

Damage to flooring is easy to spot by a potential buyer when they are being shown your home. Many common flooring problems are easy to fix for a low cost

Look for cracked tiles, scratched hardwood, or stained carpeting first. When it comes to carpeting, ripping out a stained or dirty carpet and leaving the unfinished floor below is preferred. 

Bathroom

bathroom sink

Just like in the kitchen, cabinets are a point of concern that are easy enough to fix with new drawer pulls and hinges. Refinishing a bathtub or shower is also a good idea, as is doing what you can to fix chipped tiles and countertops. 

The main concern in your bathroom is plumbing and water damage. Water stains from past plumbing issues are a problem, as are clogged drains and barely-functioning bathroom fans. 

A bathroom may seem like a lost cause after years of use, but there are many quick solutions to common problems. If you aren’t sure where to start, hire a trusted contractor to help inform your decisions.

Repaint Walls

Painting can be an awful lot of work, especially in rooms that have been lived in for years. But switching to a neutral colour is much better for new buyers who will have their own ideas about the interior design of the home.

There is one exception to this. If a room is already dark and uninviting (perhaps a cool basement room without natural light), keeping the room a warmer colour is the right choice. 

Think about colour schemes that appeal to a wide audience, and give a “neutral” makeover to those accent walls.  Avoid colours that may divide your audience, like bright primary colours or patterns.

Exterior Drainage

A buyer in the Vancouver Island real estate market should be aware of the region’s notoriously wet climate. Anywhere that water pools near the foundation of your home is a major red flag – even if you haven’t had any issues with flooding yet. 

Make sure that the ground slopes away from your home around its perimeter and watch how water flows through your downspouts. If you notice anything that could be a problem, get in touch with a contractor to grade your yard properly.

Landscaping

Even if your yard isn’t a place you spend a lot of time, you should still do what you can to make it look appealing. Your yard will be the first thing potential buyers see when they arrive, and it has a big impact on their overall impression. 

Clean up weeds and overgrowth first. Trim back hedges or trees that are touching the home, and tackle any piles of junk that we all know can pile up over the years. 

Key Takeaways

tray of white paint

When you start talking to your realtor in Nanaimo about selling your home, you will likely hear about the strength of the market as the community continues to grow, thanks to its infrastructure and amenities.

But this is no reason to think that you don’t need to fix some things up before you sell your home. Jeff King Real Estate can help you stand out among the homes for sale in Nanaimo, and command an excellent sale price with some DIY work around the house or the services of a good contractor.

Do you have more questions about buying or selling in Nanaimo? Have a chat with the Jeff King team today. 

homeowner with keys to new house

The Real Costs of Buying a Home

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make. In British Columbia, the red hot real estate market means that this decision is even more important. Whether you are in the market for an investment property or a permanent island getaway, you will want to ensure that you understand the hidden costs that come into play. 

homeowner with keys to new house

At Jeff King Real Estate, we know that buying in the Nanaimo real estate market can mean  competing offers, arranging for financing, and everything else that can make buying a home so stressful. That’s why we have prepared this guide to the common closing costs in British Columbia.

We want you to feel prepared and comfortable when you are looking for real estate in Nanaimo.

Closing Costs: Explained

Determining your budget for what type of home you want to shop around is only the first step when you are starting to look for real estate in Nanaimo. Once you have arrived on a reasonable budget and taken a look at your local listings to make sure that you are being realistic, you should start to factor in closing costs.

A safe estimate for adding closing costs to your budget is 2.5% of the purchase price. This includes costs like legal fees, property transfer tax and home inspections.

man signing documents

2.5% on a home purchase on Vancouver Island is nothing to turn your nose up at. $25,000 on a million dollar home is still a large expense, and you need to be prepared. Of course, some homebuyers will wonder if they can cut costs at the closing cost stage of the game. Here’s why this isn’t a good idea.

Many closing costs are required by the bank issuing the mortgage or the government, and can’t be reduced.

Other costs like property site surveys or real estate lawyer fees can be considered optional. But would you really want to gamble on the largest purchase you will make in your lifetime? This can lead to some major long term consequences – so we recommend taking closing costs seriously.

Here are the real costs of buying a home in British Columbia.

Mortgage Application Fee

A lender may charge a fee of a few hundred dollars to process your mortgage application.

Title Insurance

Title insurance rates protect the buyer and lender from title fraud and municipal work orders, and will likely be included as a part of your legal services. This cost changes based on the value of the home, and most packages will be in the low hundreds of dollars.

Property Insurance

This insurance must be purchased before your mortgage lender will allow funds to be released for the purchase. This protects the buyer from losses due to natural disasters like floods or fires (a very important consideration in British Columbia).

Additional Insurance

Approval for a mortgage means that it is also important to buy life, disability, or other insurance. A sudden change in health or employment can affect your income and ability to afford paying for the house so other insurance is crucial.

Home Inspection

Once your offer has been accepted, you will need to complete your due diligence before you seal the deal. Whether the home is new or old, problems in the structure or on the property can derail that happy  “new home” feeling pretty quickly. This costs roughly $500.

Home Appraisal

Your lender may require this as a condition of your mortgage. This is usually in the $200-$500 range, and is more common when buyers make a down payment of less than 25% of the home’s value.

Property Site Survey

This is an important step for any home where you plan on putting up a fence or delineating your property in another way. For a few hundred dollars, you will have confirmation of the boundaries of your property.

Land Transfer Tax

This tax is set at  a 1% rate for the first $200000 of the home’s purchase price, 2% up to $2000000, and 3% on anything beyond that price. There may be other considerations to be taken, which can be reviewed on the Province of British Columbia website.  With sky-high home prices becoming a reality in more BC cities, this is an important consideration.

Legal Fees

Hiring a real estate lawyer is essential for many real estate purchases, since they will ensure you do not inadvertently miss any essential paperwork or fees. Be prepared to spend around $1500 on legal fees for buying a house in BC.

GST

Some homes, like new builds or those that have undergone significant renovations are eligible for a GST payment. This tax will also be applied to legal fees and any other “service-based” payments listed above. Try this tax calculator to get a good idea of rates for your budget.

Property Taxes & Utilities

Depending on the property, prepaid property taxes, utilities, and even strata fees may need to be reimbursed to the seller from the closing date onward.

Preparing Yourself Costs of Buying a Home

home in subdivision

Want to know the real costs of buying a home in the Nanaimo real estate market? Talk to a top Nanaimo realtor with experience buying and selling properties on Vancouver Island

There’s no substitute for real experience in the area, and Jeff King Real Estate can get you on the right track for the most important purchase of your life.

Give us a call at 250.756.2112, or leave us a message asking about BC closing costs, and we will start your journey of buying a home in beautiful Nanaimo.

float plane in nanaimo harbour

Nanaimo Real Estate Market Q4 2021 Guide

float plane in nanaimo harbour

It’s a very interesting time to be working in the real estate industry on Vancouver Island. 

Island residents have been getting used to the idea that this peaceful West Coast region is in demand since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but real estate is becoming even more of a hot commodity as the market continues to heat up.

Buyers are increasingly looking for smaller cities with high quality of life where they can enjoy the benefits of working remotely. We are also experiencing a seller’s market with historically low inventory

What can we expect as we close out 2021? Will prices continue to rise upwards, or is there any chance buyers can catch a break in the coming months?

Read on to learn from the latest industry reports and gain some insider knowledge about Nanaimo real estate. 

The Market At A Glance

real estate market

Housing inventory remains at historic lows on Vancouver Island, and especially in Nanaimo. Sales activity has been slow in the past several months, and Nanaimo house prices are rising as buyers feel the pinch.

The average price for single detached homes in Nanaimo in August 2021 was $829,411, which was a 27% increase from the previous year. Increases around this level were consistent across the Island, and Port Alberni saw the largest boost with a whopping 32% increase to $494,500.

Active listings for single detached homes throughout the Island dropped 50% in August 2021 compared to 2020 according to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board

Developers and local real estate boards continue to advocate for ways to boost the development process, but there is no quick fix to this supply issue. These market conditions will hold through the end of 2021.

Other News On The Island

vancouver island landscape

Summer 2021 in British Columbia saw another devastating wildfire season in the interior region. There were more wildfires of higher severity, which could lead buyers to look to Vancouver Island as a safer alternative for vacation properties and second homes.

Another plan for a high speed foot passenger ferry between Nanaimo and Vancouver came to light this September. Long term residents in Nanaimo know the “high speed ferry song and dance” by heart, but that doesn’t mean investors will stop trying. 

The population of Nanaimo has surpassed 100,000, and sky high living costs in Vancouver make our pretty harbour city an option for many workers who wouldn’t shy away from a daily ocean commute. 

There’s no reason to get too excited yet, but this venture from Conqora Capital Partners is something buyers and sellers in the Nanaimo real estate market should keep an eye on in the coming year. 

Mayor Leonard Krog has expressed his hopes that the service could be in action as early as spring 2022, and Conqora has already signed  an agreement to operate with the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

These events are something for residents and hopeful buyers to watch. Although they won’t drive real estate prices independently, they could become a part of the narrative for the Vancouver Island real estate market.

Projections For The Rest Of Q4

The Bank of Canada is keeping interest rates low for now, but a rate hike will be on the horizon when more economic recovery is measured. 

The 2021 federal election featured plenty of campaign promises for housing affordability, but any changes to the status quo are still years away.

Prices in Nanaimo are expected to continue to shoot up in the final months of 2021. An increase of 9% for all property types is projected for Q4 of 2021. This puts Nanaimo above other hot Canadian markets, including Victoria and Vancouver.

2022 And Beyond

Beyond 2021, Vancouver Islanders (and Canadians) should be optimistic. High vaccination rates in British Columbia could signal further growth in the economy as restrictions are dropped.

This is especially promising for international travel, something that drives the economy of many regions of Vancouver Island. The return of international visitors and their spending dollars are good news for local businesses, the labour market, and homebuyer confidence further downstream. 

However, the Nanaimo real estate market will still be restricted by supply issues, and prices will likely continue to rise. With a large number of listings needed to “balance” the market , there is a long way to go before home prices fall.

Sellers should look ahead to 2022 and beyond with optimism. Thinking of making some renovations or repairs before putting your home on the market? Now might be the right time to roll up your sleeves. 

If you are interested in buying or selling in the Nanaimo real estate market, you will want to work with a team that knows the market better than anyone.

Jeff King Real Estate brings experience in land development, residential sales, and commercial property to the table. Check out our current listings or learn about our home evaluation today

Renovate Your Landscape

A well-landscaped property can add 20% to your home’s value, and has an average return of 100-200% at the time of sale. Even if you’re not thinking of selling now, summer is a great time to spruce up your landscape and make it a place you enjoy spending time.

Keep your yard in top shape if your home is for sale. A potential buyer may overlook your home if they can’t see past overgrown shrubs and weeds! 

6 Helpful Tips to help your yard stand out:

  1. Make your square or rectangular yard look more spacious by planting flower beds one ash corner. This will make the centre of your yard appear larger. Place taller plants toward the back of your flower beds; that way they won’t overshadow smaller plants, and you’ll create the illusion of depth in your garden.
  2. Revitalize sparse hedges and shrubs by covering their roots and applying fertilizer. Shrubs may become thin when the topsoil from around the roots washes away or diminishes over time.
  3. Apply a thin layer of mulch a few inches from the base of the tree. Many people make the mistake of mounding mulch around the base, which may attract pests.
  4. Create privacy with large shrubs or trellises covered with climbing vines.
  5. Use a simpler palette of no more than three colours that complement your home’s colour scheme. This ties the space together and improves curb appeal.
  6. Focus on the foliage of the plant. Choose plants that have leaves in a variety of shapes, textures and patterns. If you want your landscape to bloom year round, choose plants that bloom at different times of the year.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Jeff King today.

debt graphic

Benefits of Reduced Debt

If you’ve set a goal to pay down your debt this year, you’re not alone. According to a recent study, more than half of Canadians have set a goal to pay off debt in 2018. Strategically reducing or paying off debt benefits your finances tremendously, but can positively impact other areas of your life as well.

Reduce Stress. Finances are a top source of stress for many Canadians. When you make the commitment to pay off your debt, you’re also making a commitment to your overall health and well-being by minimizing a large cause of your stress.

Improve your credit score. Although credit cards and lines of credit may help establish your score, maintaining low balances positively impacts it overall. Additionally, if you plan to finance a large purchase, such as a car or home, keeping your outstanding balances low may classify you as a lower credit risk and qualify you for reduced interest rates.

Easily pay an unexpected bill. If your debts are low, you’ll be able to save more in an emergency fund to handle financial surprises, such as an unexpected home repair bill.

Increase your expendable income. Many Canadians live paycheque-to-paycheque; their hard-earned money is already earmarked to pay off debts and bills before it’s even deposited in a bank account. However, the less debt you are in, the more expendable income you will have available to enjoy now or save for later.

Boost your retirement income. If you want to maintain your lifestyle long after retirement, the time to save is now. Unfortunately, one of the biggest impediments to building a retirement nest egg is existing debt. The good news is, when you pay down or pay off your debt, you can choose to contribute additional funds to existing retirement accounts for enjoyment in your golden years.

Model good financial habits for others. If you want others to cultivate good financial habits, be the example they can follow. People, especially children, mimic the behaviours they see. Explain how to cultivate good financial habits and why it is important to do so. Additionally, provide reasons why it is best to avoid unnecessary debt.

Become more generous. The less debt we have, the more generous we may feel with our money. Whether its tithing more, donating to local school or sports programs or giving money to a cause dear to us, we may feel like we can give more.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Jeff King today.

Hire the Right Contractor

Hiring a contractor can be stressful, especially if you’re planning a major renovation. Use the following guidelines to help you hire the right person for your next home project. These tips also apply if you’re hiring a tradesperson or service professional to tackle any project around the home.

Get referrals. Ask your family, friends and neighbours for the name of contractors or trades professionals they’ve used and make a list of companies that serve your area. I work with reputable contracts and other professionals in our local area, so give me a call for a referral.

Get in touch. Once you have a list of companies, call them and ask if they specialize in your type of project. If you’re renovating the kitchen, you’ll want a company that has completed several similar kitchen renovations; they’ll know the applicable regulations and codes that pertain to your project. Ask how many other projects they’re managing at the moment, as this may impact when they can begin working on your renovation.

Research your options. Contact your province’s consumer protection agency to review the reputation of the companies on your list. Check online consumer review sites. If possible, call previous clients and ask specific questions pertaining to their experience working with the company. Schedule times with the companies to see completed projects so you can get an idea of the level of quality to expect.

Also, verify that all companies under consideration are licensed and check for any past judgements against them from prior jobs. In most provinces, all major remodelling projects must be done by a licensed contractor. Be aware that if you use an unlicensed contractor, you may be responsible for any work that is not to code or injuries your worker incurs on the job.

Meet the contractors in person. Meeting face-to-face not only allows you to ask more questions, it also provides insight into their character and attention to detail in the way they present themselves and their company. Since you’ll be working closely with the contractor and team, you’ll want to make sure you trust them.

Sort out the details before work begins.

Payment: If your project is large, you may pay 10% upon signing the contract, followed by three milestone payments of 25% over the duration of the project. The final 15% is often due upon completion of the project. Use the milestone payments as a time to review the project’s status and ensure your expectations and the contract standards are being met.

Time: If you’d like the work to be done during a particular window of time or have other requests, discuss them with the contractor beforehand.

Expectations: Understand what the contractor expects from you. For example, do you need to clear the room before work begins? Will you need to board your pet?

Get everything in writing: The contract should include a payment schedule, proof of insurance, start and completion dates and lien releases from all subcontractors and suppliers, which is obtained by the contractor. The contract should also include:

  • A detailed description of the project, explaining the materials to be used and what is being subcontracted. Keep in mind, the description will not cover any unexpected work uncovered during the renovation.
  • All building permits that will be obtained by the contractor and reassurance that the work will be compliant with current building codes.
  • A statement of warranties, including what is covered and for how long.
  • A statement of contractor’s liability and property damage insurance.
  • Price and terms of payment.

Be on the lookout. Beware of doing business with contractors who do the following:

  • Give you a quote before seeing the job.
  • Demand a large deposit upfront to purchase materials. Most contractors will have a charge account with suppliers.
  • Insist you sign a contract on the first visit. Once you’ve discussed the project with a contractor, they’ll likely come back with a plan or drawings and a written estimate of the project.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Jeff King today.

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How to Boost Curb Appeal

If you’re thinking of selling this year, I would be happy to help you decide which of these projects would net the best value. Even if you’re not planning to sell any time soon, updating and maintaining your home regularly shows you take pride in owning it.

Wash the exterior. Over the years, dirt, grime and cobwebs can collect on your home’s exterior. A pressure washer can remove this buildup and give your home a fresh look, while at the same time adding value. Also, wash the windows (inside and out) and clean the gutters, downspouts and all doors, including garage doors.

Paint. Paint is a sure-fire way to boost the curb appeal of your home and make it the envy of your neighbourhood. Update your home with a coat of paint or two of the same colour, scrape a small swatch and bring it to the paint store to match it. Specialized paint store may retain the name of the colour you choose to use again for touch ups. Also paint the door, trim and shutters in a shade that compliments the rest of your home. Remember to prep the surface area before you start painting to help the paint last longer.

If you’re planning to sell soon, avoid unusual colours. Homes painted unusual shades may be appraised lower if they don’t fit in with the comparable homes on the market.

Install vinyl siding. Protect the exterior of your home with vinyl siding. Vinyl and premium vinyl siding are offered in a wide range of colours and are durable and low-maintenance. Premium vinyl lasts longer and may also integrate insulation. To keep it looking like new, clean it with a power washer periodically.

Although vinyl siding tends to be low-maintenance, you may have to replace your siding if you notice moisture or damage from hail, wildlife or extreme weather.

Repair or replace the roof. If your roof is in good shape, hire a professional to clean it and remove moss and dirt that have built up. If your roof is due for a replacement, it may be best to do so before you list it. If you aren’t planning to sell your home soon, maintaining it may help you avoid expensive repairs in the future.

Pay attention to the details. These details include door hardware and handles, light fixtures and house numbers. Polish the hardware or replace it with a style that compliments the home, such as oiled bronze for traditional styles and brushed nickel for contemporary styles. Purchase new numbers with the same finish as your hardware or purchase an address plaque to affix to your home or place in your yard. Update the style of your exterior lighting. If you’re replacing lights, look for ones that have the same mounting system as your current ones. Add more lighting to increase the safety of your entryway by adding an overhead fixture or wall sconces.

Nurture your landscape. A well-maintained landscape and lawn add to the home’s appeal, creating colourful dimensions and attractive lines. Mow the lawn regularly, mulch and weed the garden beds and prune any overgrown shrubs. Also, clear away any overgrown vines or invasive weeds that have crept into your landscape. In addition to mowing the lawn, add seed or sod to any bare spots you see. Add colour to your landscape with a few potted plants and flowers. If you have window boxes, be sure to maintain them throughout the growing season.

Build a fence. A fence not only increases privacy for homeowners, it may add value to your property as long as it fits with the style of the home and neighbourhood. If you already have a fence, keep it well maintained, and replace any broken gates, latches or planks.

Stay on top of maintenance. Performing regular maintenance not only helps prevent costly damage, it can also augment the value of your home. Studies show deferred maintenance may decrease your home’s value by as much as 10%. Tasks such as replacing missing mortar between bricks, resealing cracked asphalt and touching up faded or cracked paint may seem insignificant; however, these small imperfections may stand out to potential buyers and leave a negative impression, especially in competitive markets.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Jeff King today.