Top 3 Landscaping Trends

Refresh your landscape with these top trends.

1.Livable Outdoor Spaces.

Many homeowners are treating their patios and backyards like another room of the house by adding outdoor kitchens with pizza ovens and using decorative planters and garden art to put their unique stamp on the space. How can you make your space more livable?

Add a deck or Patio. Great for entertaining or for lounging during your free time, a deck or patio is a must-have feature. If natural stone or brick patio pavers are out of your budget, concrete pavers are a budget-friendly alternative.

Enhance your lighting. Set the mood and enjoy your patio into the evening with the right lighting. LED and solar are becoming increasingly popular. Use strings of lights, torches or LED glass pavers that can be incorporated into the hardscape.

Think comfort. Homeowners are turning their patios into outdoor living rooms. Out with the plastic patio furniture; in with the oversized sofas, armchairs and tables made for the outdoors.

2. Low-Maintenance Landscapes.

Water Conservation efforts in many areas of the country are prompting homeowners to make their landscapes drought-tolerant. One of the benefits of these landscapes: they’re lower maintenance. Make your landscape more low-key.

Plant natives. Plants that are normally found in your area have adapted to the soil, water and weather patterns of your area. This makes them easier to care for than non-native species.

Practice xeriscaping. Ideal for areas that don’t naturally get a lot of water, xeriscaping utilizes low-water-use plants, native grasses, mulch and other elements to create a low-water, low-maintenance landscape.

Install artificial turf. It looks like grass but requires less maintenance and water. Many municipalities, particularly in the West, offer incentives to replace grass with artificial turf.

3. Gardening for Wellness

It’s no secret that whole foods are the keys to good health. Many people have turned their own yards to grow the fruits and vegetables required for good nutrition. Not only are you able to see the fruits of your labor grow and flourish, but gardening can also burn up to 400 calories an hour. Get growing!

Prepare your soil. Healthy fertile, well drained soils yields healthy plants. To see if your soil is healthy, dig a hole and look for earthworms. The more worms you see, the healthier your soil is. or, send a sample away to a lab for a complete analysis of the nutrients in your soil.

Plant what you love. Make a list of the fruits and vegetables that you love before you shop for seedlings. This will help to ensure that most of what you grow is consumed. Some popular plants to start with include pole beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, salad greens, collards, herbs and strawberries.

No yard, no problem! If you don’t have the yard to grow a garden, grow what you love in containers instead. Find a sunny spot on your deck or patio, and arrange your portable garden for optimal light.

 

9 Reasons You Need an Agent to Help you Buy or Sell a Home

Whether you’re selling your first or fourth home, buying an existing property or building a new home, there’s one thing you need: a reputable agent. While some may say you can buy or sell your home on your own, if you’re not familiar with the process, it may lead to more frustration and aggravation than it’s worth. Why go it alone when you can have an experienced professional by your side to help you every step of the way?

1. An agent will represent you. When you buy a home, you may be tempted to work with the seller’s agent, but that agent is loyal to their client—the seller or builder. A buyer’s agent will keep your best interests in mind. They’ll explain the process, negotiate with the seller or builder and help you purchase the home of your dreams. Likewise, if you’re selling, make sure you’re working with a trustworthy agent who can expertly represent you with the buyer’s agent.

2. An agent will guide you through the process. Since agents deal with the buying and selling process every day, they understand its nuances. They can explain often complicated contractual language, handle requests from the other side and spot potential issues before they become problems.

3. An agent knows what to look for. They’ll see things you may not know to look for, such as wear and tear, structural issues or the condition of the roof or wiring. If you’re buying a home, they’ll help you assess the state of a home you’re viewing. If you’re selling a home, they’ll help you decide what updates to make before you list it.

4. An agent is objective. If you’re selling your home, the agent can offer advice about how to position your home in the local market to attract the right buyers. If you’re buying a home, they can offer objective insight into the homes you’re viewing and help you find the one that’s right for you.

5. An agent is an expert of your local area. If you’re moving to a new area, an agent can give you the scoop on the best schools and neighbourhoods, as well as warn you about areas that are prone to flooding, located near busy roads or are future hot spots for construction plans. Similarly, they understand the local market and can give you tips to help your home stand out and sell quickly

6. An agent offers advice based on experience. Agents rely on their experience to give you tips in regards to inspections, price reductions and other issues that may arise during the course of the transaction.

7. An agent works on your behalf. Whether it’s negotiating the sale, handling challenges or objections that may arise, or acting as a liaison, an agent uses their expertise and skill to communicate your best interests with the other party.

8. An agent will continue to serve after the closing. Sometimes issues arise in the first year following a home purchase. An agent will help you resolve these issues and connect you with reputable tradespeople in their networks.

9. Going it alone may end up costing you. Sellers often make a big mistake when trying to sell their own home by pricing it too high. A home that’s not priced right will sit on the market for weeks. Enlisting the aid of an agent will help you price your home to sell so that it piques the attention of the right buyers.

 

 

Decorating Tips From The Pros

Choose your colour palette first. Whether you plan to redecorate one room or your whole home, a colour palette helps you invoke a sense of unity throughout the space. For inspiration, look at the colours in the furniture you plan to have in the room; or, go with a simple, muted palette that allows your furniture to be the focus of the room and encourages a restful environment.

Pro tip: If you love the style of your furniture, but not the colour or patterns, consider buying slipcovers to create a uniform appearance. Slipcovers also prolong the life of your furniture by protecting against the wear and tear of active children and cuddly pets. Keep extra on-hand in case you have to wash one.

Go for quality over quantity. Resist the urge to overflow the space with furniture. Instead, choose a few key, well-made pieces that will create a timeless look. If you’re just starting out in your first home, splurge on a sofa and enjoy quality that will last.

Pro tip: If you have carpet, layer a rug over it to add dimension, texture and incorporate more colour into the room.

Create a focal point. Whether it’s a mirror, a vase, an antique chair or particular colour, make sure the focus is something you love. The furniture and decor in the room should complement your focal point.

Pro tip: Layer your lighting to create interest and help features stand out. Install lights overhead or on the walls and include table and floor lamps.

Display wisely. If you have collections, arrange them in odd numbers. Collections of three or five are more aesthetically pleasing than those arranged in even numbers. Vary the textures, sizes and colours so they still look like a collection, but aren’t too uniform.

Pro tip: Look for items in your home, such as vases, knickknacks, photos, etc., that would fit together as a set to display.

Select your paint colour last. While many people design a room around the colours they choose for its walls and trim, it makes more sense to pick colours after you’ve decided what furniture, decor, rugs and lighting you want to use in the room.

Pro tip: If you want to brighten a dark room, choose a light colour for the walls and go a shade or two lighter for the ceiling.

 

Now, get decorating!

7 Things to Keep in Mind For Your Next Renovation

1. Make a list of what you want to change. Look at websites and magazines to get inspiration for the redesign. Write down what you like and why you like it, and look online and at your local home store to get a price estimate. Once you know what you want to change, prioritize your list by ranking each item in order of what needs to get done first. Refer to your list throughout the project to help you stay on track.

2. Consider your resources: time, budget and overhaul, take into consideration the amount of time, money and energy that you’ll have to dedicate to the project.

3. Set a budget. Once you figure out how much you can spend, subtract 20% to 30% from this number and set it aside for contingencies.

4. Sketch it out. A rough sketch of the layout of the space will help you narrow down the fixtures, cabinets and storage options you’d like to incorporate.

5. Measure everything more than once. It may sound persnickety, but taking the time to measure things twice will help you to ensure that you don’t need to make costly returns or corrections.

6. Replace the underlayment. If you’re ripping up flooring and fixtures, consider replacing the underlayment. Not only does this allow you to start fresh, it also gets rid of any water damage, which commonly occurs in the humid bathroom environment.

7. Reduce the impact of the renovation. Move your stuff over to the bathroom that’s not being remodelled before the work begins. That way you won’t have to hunt for your favourite body wash or your disposable razors.

Advice for Today’s Home Seller

Selling a home is an emotional process for many sellers, especially first-time sellers and those who have lived in their homes for a long time. People sell for many reasons; whatever yours is, here’s how to handle it.

For all sellers: The first time you sell a home, you may be anxious about the process. After all, you don’t know what to expect. However, with the market always changing, even experienced sellers may encounter uncertainty. To help make the process worry-free, follow these tips and be sure to ask any questions that arise.

• Prepare your home. Make any necessary repairs and get your home move-in ready. If possible, hire a home inspector so you know what to fix.

• Prepare your mind. Try to remove the sentimental or emotional value you have in your home and see it as it is: a place to live.

• Make your home available to show during the day. Improving the accessibility of your home to buyers and their agents may help you sell it faster.

Before buying another home:

• Plan ahead to save time and money. If you sell your home before you buy a new one, lean on me to help you find a new home or short-term rental before you close.

• Get pre-approved for a mortgage on your next home.

If you’re trading up:

Families looking to purchase a larger home may only be thinking about the need for additional space or bedrooms, but there are a few unique circumstances to consider while going through the selling process.

Buy or sell first? You may be wondering, should you sell your current home first or buy a new home and then sell? I can discuss the options with you to ensure you make the best decision for your family.

• Price it right. Ideally, you’ll want multiple bids so you can choose the highest and best offer. Pricing your home correctly will help you target the right buyers who are willing to negotiate the best deal. Setting an accurate asking price will speed up the selling process so you can move on to the next chapter of your life, while still getting the most money.

Before buying a larger home:

• Continue to shop for a home while your current home is on the market.

• Create a list of must haves and deal breakers for your next home to make your search more efficient.

• Consider the suburbs. If you want space at a budget price, consider rural or suburban areas where you may be able to get more home for your dollar.

Are You Thinking of Selling your Home?

If you have any questions about selling your home, email Jeff today!

Save Money on Home Energy This Winter

As we head into the winter months, you may notice one thing: an increase in your energy bill. The reduced amount of daylight drives us to turn on our lights sooner, while the cooler temperatures cause us to crank up the heat inside. The winter and summer months tend to be the most energy-intensive times of the year, as we try to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, despite what the thermometer says.

8 Tips to Save Money and Stay Warm this Winter

1. Set the thermostat to 20° C (68°F) when you’re home. Studies show you use 3-5% more energy for each degree the thermostat is set above this number. Instead of increasing the heat, put on a sweater to stay warm.

2. When you leave the house, lower the thermostat. Why heat your house if no one is home? Lowering your thermostat 10 -15 degrees can save 5-15% a year on your energy bill.

3. Close your curtains or blinds at night and when you’re not home to keep warm air from escaping. Go the extra mile and invest in thermal blackout curtains, which can help keep warm air where it belongs—in your home.

4. Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk gaps and cracks when you see them to prevent heat from escaping.

5. Close the damper of your fireplace when you’re not using it. Being mindful of this small action can keep your house noticeably warmer.

6. Insulate. Up to 25% of heat is lost through the small cracks and holes around the house. Properly insulating your walls, floors and attic can save you up to 10% on your total energy costs.

7. Replace old windows. Depending on the climate, windows can account for 25-50% of a home’s heating and cooling needs.2 Make sure you’re not losing precious heat in the winter by replacing your old windows with high performance, energy-efficient windows. The added bonus? These windows not only regulate the amount of heat that is absorbed, they also help block outside noise.

8. Maintain your heating and cooling duct system. By keeping your HVAC system in great shape, you can avoid costly and sudden repairs that might leave your home without heat, plus save money on your energy bills.

 

 

4 Features That May Sell Your Home Faster

If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, you may be wondering how to make your home more attractive to prospective buyers. If you’re thinking of listing and you want to update your home, consider these improvements.

1. Hardwood floors. Wood floors are the most popular request from potential buyers because of their clean, versatile and timeless appeal. There are many hardwood and engineered hardwood options to fit any budget.

Cost to install: Hardwood and engineered wood run $4 to $6 per square foot, plus the cost of installation and the removal of existing floors and replacement of subfloors, if necessary.

2. Bathrooms. Whether you do a major overhaul or a minor update, it’s clear that buyers are looking for a neutral, soothing colour palette with modern materials and finishes. To update your bathroom before listing your home, select a basic white toilet, sink and shower, then add modern-looking fixtures and hardware.

Cost to install: Cost varies based on the extent of the work, but a basic renovation can run $10,000 to $16,000, including design, planning, materials and installation.

3. Kitchen. If you plan to update your kitchen before you list your home, be sure to stick to a realistic budget. While a kitchen remodel has a high return on investment, it can also become very expensive. Choose modern, cost-effective options that look expensive. For example, composite, high-end laminate and butcher block look modern, but are more cost-effective than stone.

Cost to install: While cost depends on the scope of work, the average remodel is $24,912.4

4. An income suite. When done right, renovating a basement, loft or garage into a rentable living space can make your home more attractive to potential buyers. Some buyers seek out homes with income suites so they can generate income to offset their mortgage payments. Additionally, if it’ll be a few years before you list your home, you can generate income while you continue to build equity in your home. Just be sure to check with your local zoning laws before you undergo this type of renovation.

Cost to install: Total cost varies, but the average is about $24,000.5

 

Pricing your House too High can Cost YOU Money.

Ok, you’ve decided that it’s time sell your house. For whatever reason; upgrade, downsize, relocate, you get the picture. Now, everyone wants the most money for their house, right? And, many homeowners, including you, believe for whatever reason that their house is worth more than the one down the street, right? Be honest with yourself! Homeowners should be cautioned that overpricing a house for sale can end up costing them money, literally thousands!

Now, keep in mind that you’ve already decided that you’re going to sell and move on. I have 9 simple reasons why pricing your home too high can cost you money. So, let’s play Real Estate!

Reason #1: And, this is a hard one! Interest/mortgage rates might go up! We don’t carry the crystal ball and while you’re waiting for you house to sell, interest rates creep up costing you more on your new home! This also impacts potential buyers ceiling price causing them to shop for a different, less expensive house.

Reason #2: When you finally sell (everything sells eventually!), your new home may cost you more or…

Reason #3: The market swings and your house is now worth less taking even longer to sell or it expires. Either way, you lose out.

Reason #4: You lose speculation time. Pricing too high could put you outside the sight of prospective buyers. Once your house sits long enough on the market and your REALTORâ talks you into reducing the price, you still may sit waiting as the buyers for your type/style of house have already bought something else!

Reason #5: Let’s say that you had to move; transfer. Now, your house sits vacant. You still have to pay taxes and utilities until it sells. Or…Reason#6: You have two homes and double the mortgage payments! Ouch! Now, out of frustration, you drop the price and “fire sale” it to try and “save” money. Costing you more!

Reason #7: Tax advantage…I’m not an accountant so I suggest you discuss this one with him/her. But, let’s say for argument sake that you don’t sell it and you’ve moved on. Now what? You end up renting it in hopes to cover your costs. Where does that put you with the tax man? Repairs after tenants move out? Money, money, money!

Reason #8: Your house gets lost in the shuffle! You start too high and chase the market down. Now it’s finally priced where it should have been priced in the first place. But, it still doesn’t sell! Why? It’s been on the market too long. So long in fact, that people wonder what is wrong with it and avoid it. So, now you “fire sale” it to get rid of it! You lose out on thousands!

Reason #9: You end doing needed repairs (the roof finally started to leak!) and end up not recouping the costs in the final sale.

It’s all common sense really! The Real Estate Professional you choose should be able to explain where the current market for your area is and help you price your house right. If I can be of any help or you would like to discuss this matter further, send me an email with your contact information and I’d be happy to give you a call! If you live in the Central Vancouver Island area and would like to discuss this or listing your house, call me directly at 250-751-4902!

Saving More for a Down Payment

For many first-time buyers, saving for a down payment is a critical step on the road to becoming homeowners. While people who have previously owned a home often use the proceeds from the sale of their homes to finance the purchase of a new one, they also change the way they spend money, if only temporarily, in order to save it quickly.

Here are time-tested tips to help you save more.

1. Limit spending on luxury or non-essential items. It’s tough to sacrifice the luxuries you love to save for a big purchase, but you’ll be surprised how much you save. Visualize your new home every time you are tempted to spend money on luxuries, like a spa day or nonessential items, or other expensive extras, and put that cash toward a down payment.

2. Spend less on entertainment. Saving money doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your entertainment budget. Instead of splurging on restaurants several times a week, cook at home or take a cooking class. You’ll learn new skills and improve the ones you have, while making a great meal in the process. If you like going to movies, rent one online from M-GO (on Smart TV and Roku), which often has movies still in theaters for a lower rental rate than buying a ticket. There’s always an alternative that let’s you have fun while saving.

3. Cut your clothing budget. Instead of splurging on new clothes at the mall or whenever an email announcing a sale pops into your inbox, take a second to think about why you’re saving money in the first place. Set aside a clothing budget at the beginning of the month—when the money is gone there’s no more shopping for the month. Discipline shows real results.

4. Postpone a vacation. Many first-time homebuyers put off taking an expensive vacation while saving for a down payment. Instead of going somewhere exotic or far away, head somewhere closer for a long weekend. Or, rediscover the sites of your city or town. You’ll save money and still enjoy the benefits of time away.

5. Avoid an unnecessary purchase.Do you really need a new car right now? Try to postpone making large purchases until after you’ve bought a home, and you’ll get in to your new home that much quicker.

6. Think about a second job. If you’ve cut or limited your spending as much as you can and would like to save even more money, you might consider getting a second job. Brush off the bartending skills you honed in college, teach a class at your local community centre or start a side gig as the neighbourhood dog walker. That extra money you earn is pure down payment bonus money.

Home Selling 101

GETTING YOUR HOME READY TO SELL.

Here are some tips to help you prepare your home for its market debut.

Start packing valuables and items you don’t plan to use until after you’ve moved, including any personal photos displayed in the home. Removing clutter will make your home appear more spacious. While deciding what to pack, think about which appliances to take with you. For example, are the washing machine and dryer included or do you want to take them?

Get your home move-in ready. Most buyers want a home in move-in condition when they buy. For example, painting the interiors a neutral shade or white is a simple way to make a home appear brighter and allows potential buyers to easily incorporate their style into the space. Also, be sure to complete regular maintenance on your home’s cooling and heating and other systems to keep them in good working order for the next owner.

Have a home inspection. In many cases, a buyer will hire a home inspector to inspect the property. However, hiring one beforehand will help you assess what may need to be fixed before you sell. If the inspector finds major issues with appliances or your home’s plumbing/septic, heating or electrical systems, you may be required to make the repairs. Don’t worry; this is a normal part of the process–one we’re happy to guide you through.

Boost curb appeal. The exterior is often a potential buyer’s first impression of your home. If it’s well-kept outside, many buyers also assume it’ll be well-kept inside. Paint or clean your exterior, trim hedges and shrubs and mow the lawn. These small activities have a big impact on attracting the right buyers to your home.

Clean. Hire a professional cleaner to thoroughly clean your home for potential buyers.

Stage. Make your home look its best by staging high-traffic rooms, such as the living room and kitchen. Staging helps buyers picture themselves in the home. While many sellers hire a professional, especially in competitive markets, you may also be able to do it yourself.

MARKETING IT RIGHT.

Once your home is ready to sell, it’s time to think about marketing. Marketing helps find the right qualified buyer to purchase your home. It all begins with pricing. Homes that are priced right are often picked up by buyers in a short amount of time. To price your home, we’ll review comparable homes in your area that are currently on the market or have sold in the last few months. We’ll also take into account your home’s location, square footage, amenities and condition, as well as local market conditions. All of this information is included in the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).

SHOWING YOUR HOME.

Interested buyers will make an appointment to see your home in person. It’s standard to leave your home while potential buyers are there; doing so makes them feel more comfortable talking about the home and encourages them to take their time. Be sure to let us know what appliances and fixtures will not be included in the sale so we can let buyers know before they submit an offer.

Identify and remove potential hazards ahead of time. During showings, keep your walkways clear, take your dogs to the park and, if you have a pool, make sure the gate is closed. If a potential buyer gets hurt while viewing your home, they may try to sue.

Open the curtains and blinds to let light in and turn on all the lights in your home. Also, turn the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. Keep your home in show-ready condition. Keep the clutter under control and home maintained, inside and out.

HANDLING OFFERS.

When you get an offer, we’ll present it to you and negotiate on your behalf. The offer may include the amount the buyer is proposing to pay, how much they plan to mortgage, their ideal closing date, any contingencies, and personal property they want included or excluded. Once you’ve accepted an offer, we’ll outline contingency dates and start the paperwork process. During this time, it’s important to make sure all contingencies, including inspections and repairs, are made by the deadlines. On closing day, the buyer will do a final walkthrough to check the condition of the home and ensure the required repairs were made.

CLOSING.

During the closing process, you and the buyer will sign the final paperwork. Additionally, the title will be transferred to the buyer and they’ll receive the house keys. Most importantly, you’ll receive payment for the home, minus the payoff of the existing mortgage and transaction costs.