Common Home Problems Buyers Should Look For

ommon home problemsWhen looking for a home to buy, it pays to be aware of common problems found in many homes. Once you make the purchase, you take over responsibility for all of the existing issues in the home. Keep an eye out for these issues so you can adjust your offer accordingly, or move on to another property that is relatively problem-free.

If you are a perspective home seller reading this please make mental note of these common home sale issues so you can be well prepared to identify and address them before you put your home up for sale. You will be glad you did!

  1. Roof Problems
    The roof is one of the most important components of the home. A damaged or poorly maintained roof can lead to serious problems, including water damage. Major roof repairs can be expensive, and should definitely be factored into the price of the home if they exist. The roof is an area that most buyers will not compromise on. Keep in mind however that when you have a home inspection and your inspector tells you that there are only a few years of expected life in the roof, you shouldn’t expect the seller to replace it. Most sellers are not going to replace a roof when there are years of life left before issues arise.
  2. Old Appliances
    Appliances are built to last only so long, especially if they are not regularly maintained. The cost of replacing appliances can be substantial and should be considered. Granted, higher quality appliances last longer. It is worthwhile to do some research on the year, brand and model of the major appliances in a property to get a clear picture of what you are purchasing.
  3. Handrails
    This may seem minor, but functional handrails are necessary on staircases and along balconies for safety. Test all of the handrails in a home, and ensure that all appropriate areas have handrails before buying. One of the common trouble spots is on decks. This becomes especially important when the deck is elevated off of the ground where someone could get seriously hurt if falling from a greater height.
  4. Storm Damage
    Each area of the country experiences extreme weather – weather that can do serious damage to a home. From hurricanes to hail storms, these weather events can damage roofs, siding and even foundations in the event of flooding. Hail storms can be very destructive without a home owner even realizing it. A few years ago in Hopkinton Massachusetts, over a third of the homes in town received new roofs because of a vicious hail storm.

This is something that most good homeowners insurance policies will cover. Unfortunately there were also a number of people in Hopkinton who did not even think to check that they had hail damage. Upon selling their home, the buyer would get a home inspection and that’s when they found out they had damage. For many of these home sellers it was too late to file a claim. The tough part of hail damage is that it is not often visible to the naked eye. A good home inspector will be able to spot hail damage by getting up on the roof or possibly by using high-powered binoculars.

  1. Rotten Wood
    Even modern, pressure-treated wood will break down under the elements eventually. Look for rotten wood around the base of the home, along the roof and anywhere else where moisture may have been an issue. Some of the most common areas you will find wood rot on a home are on the window sills.

While rotted window sills can be found on any age home, there has been a prevalence of it in homes that were built in the 80’s and 90’s due to lesser-quality, finger-jointed woodwork. Finger-jointed materials, if not constantly painted, will rot a lot more quickly due to water penetration and just an overall lack of quality.

  1. Cooling or Heating Systems
    Temperature control systems wear out over time, and they can be expensive to replace. Check on the age, integrity and maintenance schedule of any heating or cooling system present in the home. Newer models are notably more efficient, making them a much better deal in the long run.

One of the most important things you can do as a home buyer is to check the current owners’ upkeep of these items. It is certainly possible a well-maintained boiler can last thirty years or more. It is just as easy for that same boiler to last half as long if not maintained yearly with regular servicing.

  1. Environmental Issues
    gassett home problemsEnvironmental regulations become increasingly strict as time goes on. This is good for buyers of new homes, but it does not necessarily protect you if you are purchasing an older home. Radon, lead-based paint, mold and asbestos are all health concerns.

Be aware of the dangers of these materials and verify whether they are present in each property. If the home is serviced by a well (as opposed to public water), it is also a good idea to get that tested too. Often times standard well tests will only do a limited screening for such things as iron, copper, manganese, etc. You will want to make sure you also test for more dangerous compounds such as arsenic, mercury and lead.

  1. Poor Drainage
    Water damage is a risk in areas with poor drainage. Verify that each home you consider has adequate drainage to deal with area rainfall. Because water damage can lead to expensive repair work and mold infestation, you need to ensure that drainage is sufficient on any property you purchase. This is one issue as a home seller not to mess with. There is nothing that will kill a real estate sale quicker than a water issue. Buyers do not want to even think about having a water problem with their home.
  2. Electrical Safety Concerns
    Older homes may not have electrical systems up to current codes. Things like ground fault breaker outlets in bathrooms and kitchens, as well as grounded outlets throughout the house are necessary for a safe living environment, especially when you consider the current electrical load people put on their homes with new appliances and electronics. In older homes look out for knob and tube wiring.

Most lenders will not provide a loan and most insurance companies will not ensure a home with knob and tube wiring. Eliminating a huge chunk of the buyer pool is not going to help you get top dollar for your home. This is an issue you would want to address before listing your home for sale.

  1. Roof Water Control
    Gassett roof waterGutters may seem like a minor part of a home, but they do a very important job in keeping your house free from water intrusion. Clogged or poorly maintained gutters can leave your home exposed to water and the mold that comes along with it. Sellers that have plants growing in their gutters bring negative attention to their homes. It looks like you could care less about the upkeep of your property and makes buyers look more closely at other potential problems.
  2. Plumbing Problems
    Plumbing may be hidden from site in homes, but it is a large part of what makes the modern home livable and comfortable. Older homes with older pipes can present problems, though. Make sure your potential home has plumbing that works, and no serious plumbing issues right around the corner. Things like tree root growth can quickly stop up your plumbing and may be a problem with older pipes.
  3. Bad Insulation
    Modern insulation is excellent at keeping the temperature in your home comfortable. However, some home builders, especially in older homes, did not always insulate adequately. If you view a home in summer, you may be surprised come winter when the house will just not hold heat. Have someone who knows verify that the home has good insulation before you buy. It is common for older homes to not have nearly the same energy efficiency due to lack of insulation in walls and sometimes in the attic as well.
  4. Poor Ventilation
    A home that does not allow airflow is at risk of developing mold problems, a nightmare for any homeowner. Verify that the home you are looking at allows airflow throughout the house, including the attic. It may be impossible to achieve perfect airflow in every room, especially basements, but the home should allow airflow through most rooms of the house.

One of the most notable home imperfections is a bathroom vent dumping into the attic and not out through the roof. While a bathroom being vented through the roof is now code in most states, this was not the case until recently. It is very common to see homes that have venting leading into the attic, creating the perfect environment for moisture and mold growth.

  1. Foreclosed Homes
    common home problemsForeclosures may initially present an excellent deal, but they also present certain risks. Sometimes earlier owners will do serious damage to such homes before exiting the property. This can include anything from stripping copper piping to tearing out cabinets or other valuable fixtures.

Always look over the property before getting your hopes up, because sometimes you do get what you pay for. When real estate deals seem to good to be true they usually are! Keep in mind when you purchase a foreclosed home the lender who now owns the home generally will know very little about the previous owners’ upkeep and maintenance.

The Help of Someone Who Knows
If these 14 things seem like a lot to keep track of, it is because they are. This is why the help of an experienced professional real estate agent can prove so valuable. They look for such things as a matter of course. However, if you choose to go it alone, make sure to download a home viewing checklist to make sure you cover all of your bases before making an offer.

These are all common items that can certainly be discovered at a home inspection by a qualified home inspector. As a buyer, you should be making mental notes of these items before hand so you can make an offer and budget accordingly. When you are mentally prepared for these types of issues when purchasing real estate, there will be a lot less stress involved with your transaction should one or more of these problems crop up. Don’t lose your cool when you find a problem. Take it slow and do the necessary research to resolve the problem by speaking with a few reputable contractors and getting necessary estimates for repair.

When I arrange a mortgage to buy a home, do I have to get mortgage insurance?

The answer is, it depends. In Canada, mortgage insurance is mandatory when your down payment is less than 20 per cent of the purchase price of the property. This insurance provides lenders with an added layer of financial security and protects them against the risk of a potential default. As a result, they are more willing to approve mortgages for buyers who might otherwise not qualify. This means mortgage insurance makes purchasing a home more accessible for buyers.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is a public agency accountable to Parliament that plays a key role in the home-buying journey of many Canadian residents. CMHC provides mortgage insurance, as do two private mortgage insurance providers – Sagen (formerly Genworth) and Canada Guaranty.

To avoid confusion, it’s important to know that mortgage insurance and mortgage life insurance are different things. Mortgage life insurance – also called mortgage protection – is insurance that pays out the balance of your mortgage if you die with a balance owing. Its purpose is to protect your family from the burden of having to make monthly payments or being forced to sell the property to cover the outstanding balance owed. This type of insurance is not mandatory.

On the other hand, the mortgage insurance you asked about – also known as mortgage default insurance or mortgage loan insurance – is designed primarily to protect the lender. If a buyer is not able to make their mortgage payments on time, the lender can take possession of the property and sell it to someone else. If the sale price of the home doesn’t cover the remaining balance of the mortgage, the insurance protects the lender from incurring a loss.

At the same time, mortgage insurance may also be beneficial to you as a buyer because you may be able to qualify for a mortgage for up to 95 per cent of the price of a property and still get a reasonable interest rate. Without such insurance, your mortgage rate would likely be higher because the lender would be exposed to risk of default.

Buying a home with a smaller down payment can add risk, especially if there’s a chance you might not be able to afford your monthly mortgage payments or if the value of the property were to fall below the total amount owing. If you’re planning to get a mortgage, I strongly recommend you review all the numbers and fine print with your mortgage broker and lawyer to ensure you’re comfortable with the terms of your lending agreement before signing on the dotted line.

If you decide to go ahead and make an offer on a home with less than a 20 per cent down payment, the mortgage insurance premium can be added to the amount of the mortgage or paid as a lump sum. The amount is calculated as a percentage of the mortgage and is based on the size of your down payment.

Note that some buyers may not qualify for mortgage insurance, based on factors such as the price of the property (it must be under $1,000,000), your debt load (how much other debt you have), your income, and closing costs when you take possession of the property.

If your application for mortgage insurance is declined, there may still be alternatives available to proceed with a purchase. That is a discussion you should have with your financial advisor or mortgage broker.

If you are thinking of buying a home and don’t have a 20 per cent down payment, your mortgage broker can help you to apply for mortgage insurance. Be sure to visit the websites of the insurance providers to learn more about their premium rates and the approval criteria.

First Time Home Buyer Tips

Best First Time Buyer TipsTips for first time buyers are something everyone who will purchase real estate for the first time should seek out and use to their advantage. Who wouldn’t want to get sound advice from someone who has already gone through the process?

Buying a home for the first time shouldn’t be a problem but an exciting journey into homeownership.

If you are like most, it will be the biggest purchase you have ever made.

The fact you’re buying a home for the first time leads to a mix of emotions including excitement, anticipation, and anxiety.

While it may be impossible to eliminate the stress that comes with your first home purchase, you can certainly minimize it by going into the situation prepared.

Do your research and follow reliable information as it applies to you, so your first home buying experience is a good one. Let these tips for buying a first home be your guide to a stress-free real estate transaction!

My first home buying tip is not to rely on family to know everything about purchasing real estate!

Don’t rely on family and friends to make crucial decisions for you.

When you set out to buy your first home, you are more than likely going to get advice from lots of people, including family and friends.

Many of them have been there and done it already, so you can expect they would want to lend a helping hand.

Do keep in mind, though, that some of the people giving you advice have only purchased a home one or two times in their lives. Buying a couple of houses does not make them real estate experts.

When it comes to the hard decisions, always rely on the pros who will be involved in the transaction, including your mortgage broker, attorney, real estate, and insurance agent.

While family and friends have great intentions, there are times where I have seen some of the worst advice you can imagine given to first time home buyers.

Get Specific About What You Want
Home Buying Wish ListMake sure you have a general idea about the type of property you would like to buy. You could be in the market for a million-dollar home or a simple condominium purchase. Regardless of what you can afford, it is worthwhile to think about what you want.

How your purchasing power compares to others does not matter. Buying a home will be your most significant expenditure thus far, and it is essential to get what you want out of it.

Decide on basics like the neighborhood, size, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. It is entirely reasonable to be more detailed than this, though.

You can consider what you care about – a garage for working on your car, a playroom for children, a basement for your wine collection. Personal choices are essential.

Prioritizing what you want makes it easier to recognize it when you find it. It is unlikely you will get everything you dream of, but you will happier with your purchase if it fits your wants and needs.

When meeting with a Real Estate agent for the first time, they will most certainly be asking you what your top considerations are in finding a home.

Giving the Realtor an accurate picture of what you hope to achieve makes the process of finding a home for you much more comfortable.

Get Pre-Approved For A Loan
Another critical first time home buyer tip is to get your financial house in order!

You can’t start shopping until you know how much money you have to spend. Your idea of what you will qualify for may be accurate, but it may not be.

Find out what your maximum loan amount will be and consider how you want to use that money.

One of the first things you should do when setting out to buy your first home is to get pre-approved for a mortgage! Keep in mind that there is a distinct difference between getting pre-approved vs. getting pre-qualified over the phone.

Get Pre-Approved For A MortgageWhile a pre-qualification letter may help you understand how much you can afford to pay each month towards a mortgage payment, it doesn’t do much to solidify your position as a legitimate home buyer.

When the time comes for you to submit an offer on a particular property, the owner and the seller’s Realtor are more than likely to want you to be pre-approved!

A savvy Realtor or seller is not going to accept a pre-qualification letter as it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. The only way a seller is going to have some reasonable assurances, you will get the loan is by providing them with a pre-approval letter.

Providing the seller security, especially if you are competing with other buyers, is one of the best tips for buying your first home.

Getting pre-approved is also for your peace of mind as well. You may be able only to afford $200,000 when you wanted $300,000. You may also qualify for $500,000 – but can you afford to keep a half-million-dollar home in good repair?

While getting a mortgage is a big part of buying your first home, bear in mind that it is only part of the home buying expenditures. Taxes, insurance, purchasing furniture, and other household goods can add up quickly.

Find out how much you have to spend and then decide how much you can afford, keeping all these other expenses in mind.

Look Thoroughly For Potential Homes
It is crucial to make sure you do some home-buying research before making a purchase. Your agent will be able to help significantly with finding the perfect first home.

However, it is still worthwhile for you to do your searching using as many avenues as you can think of – including driving around favorite neighborhoods searching for for-sale signs, searching online listings, and putting the word out to family, friends, and co-workers. You never know where the perfect home will come from.

Many buyers enjoy going out and looking at Real Estate open houses before actually committing to an agent. Doing so allows you to freely peruse homes at your leisure, typically on a Sunday. When you are ready, it’s advisable to seek out a great real estate agent to work with you!

Get A Good Real Estate Agent
Pick A Top RealtorOne of the best first time home buyer tips I can give you is to hire an outstanding Real Estate agent! You do not have to go through the home buying process alone. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.

There are numerous reasons to hire an exceptional Realtor, including gaining access to the best available homes, having someone regularly working to find the house you want, and having an agent on your side in negotiations.

Having a professional in your corner is always beneficial, whether it is a mechanic fixing your car or a real estate agent helping you buy your home. But, as with a mechanic, not all real estate agents are created equal. Some are far more motivated and skilled than others, so you need to screen agents before choosing yours.

Landing an excellent agent means interviewing several Realtors, getting current references, and taking a hard look at their histories. You want an agent that has a history of successfully helping people in situations similar to yours.

Hiring a Real Estate agent is essential. You want someone on your team who will be fighting for you every step of the way. Finding an agent who gives you an out of this world Real Estate experience will be hard if you go at it willy-nilly.

Make The Right Offer
Make sure you understand local home values! Negotiation is a fine art, not something learned in a day. This is part of why you search for agents that set reasonable goals for their clients and tend to obtain these aims.

You want someone who understands what a home is worth and can argue the value points reliably. There may be many things that can give you an edge in negotiations, from pet damage to kitchen appliances. The problem is knowing just how much those things should affect the value of the home.

A top-notch buyer’s agent is going to be looking out for your interests. The best of the best will try to make sure you are paying fair market value or below for the home you are interested in. If you feel you are working with an agent who is concerned about their pocketbook and not yours, dump them fast.

Realtors who put themselves before you are not the type of agent you want in your corner when it comes time to negotiate. I tell people all the time the best real estate agents are not worried about where their next sale is coming from.

An agent who needs a deal is going to give you different advice than one that doesn’t. Keep that in mind! As a first time home buyer, it is essential to realize that not all real estate agents are created equally.

Listen to The Home Inspector
Hire a Great Home Inspector When Buying Your First HouseAnother critical first time home buyer tip is to find a top-notch home inspector! If the seller accepts your offer, the next step is a thorough home inspection.

A home inspector will look over the entire property and determine if there are any common home inspection issues, as well as anything out of the ordinary you should be aware of.

In some circumstances depending on the loan product you use, it is possible you may be required to have a few more inspections done besides the general inspection. For example, VA loans require a termite inspection.

You should listen carefully to what the inspector has to say about the home, even if you are madly in love with it. Serious home issues can quickly ruin any enjoyment you would get out of your new purchase and could turn your dream home into a nightmare.

Almost every home, even if it is new, is going to have some issues. It is extremely rare ever to find the “perfect” house. The home inspectors’ job is to see these problems for you.

One thing to remember is that, like any other profession, there are some excellent inspectors and some that are not so great. Much like Real Estate agents, home inspectors have two roles – do their job of discovering defects and then communicating the problems found to you. Don’t underestimate the communication skills!

Over the years, I have encountered some fabulous home inspectors who clearly are very thorough and find 99% of what they should be discovering about the home. There are some, however, that are awful communicators.

Sharing information about a home to a first time home buyer is different from exchanging information with someone who has bought multiple houses.

Frankly, a first-time buyer should be treated with kid gloves. Many home inspectors have great intentions but don’t realize that everything they say is handled like the gospel. How information is presented to a first-time buyer is critical.

I have seen on numerous occasions where the delivery of discovered issues has made the customer feel uncomfortable enough to want to back out of the sale! I am not talking about significant problems but things that are common in many homes.

How information is presented to a first-time buyer is critical. I have seen on numerous occasions where the delivery of discovered issues has made the customer feel uncomfortable enough to want to back out of the sale! I am not talking about massive problems but things that are common in many homes.

Some inspectors don’t care – in fact, there is a small minority of them that don’t mind if you back out of a sale because they want you to call them back for your next inspection. While this is not a common practice because most inspectors are real professionals, it is something to keep in the back of your mind.

Your real estate agent will more than likely point out whether the inspector has gone overboard, and the homeowner more than likely will as well.

If there are problems, but they are not complete deal-breakers, your agent will let you know the next best step. You should be able to renegotiate the price if the inspection shows you will need to make significant repairs later on.

Be A Responsible First Time Homeowner
The last tip I will leave with you is to take responsibility for your purchase. Once you have closed on the house and moved in, it may feel like all your work is done. It is important to remember, though, that you are just getting started in homeownership.

Where before your landlord covered repair expenses, now those expenses are yours to bear. Having new costs can be quite a shock if you are not prepared for it.

Start saving for home maintenance immediately. Your home should last several lifetimes if properly cared for. If work around the house is ignored, though, you could find yourself losing out on your investment and your living quarters.

Take care of maintenance and always keep a back fund for emergency repairs, and you should be able to enjoy your home for many years to come.

Make sure to keep your home insured for an amount that will cover your losses in the event of a tragic event such as a fire. By following this first time home buyer advice, you will increase your chances dramatically to have a smooth and pleasant Real Estate transaction.

2 Story For Sale in Bayview/Bloomington

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•  2 story FOR SALE  CAD1,227,990 . Starting Launch Price

Oakridge Meadows
Oakridge Meadows Community | Bethesda Side Road & Leslie Street, Gormley, ON

Townhouse & Single Family Home
– Units
3 – 5 Bedrooms
1566 – 3978 SqFt

Oakridge Meadows is a new townhouse and single family home development by Aspen Ridge Homes currently in preconstruction at Bethesda Side Road & Leslie Street, Gormley. Oakridge Meadows unit sizes range from 1566 to 3978 square feet.

Oakridge Meadows Details
Community Name: Oakridge Meadows
Building Type:
Townhouse and Single Family Home
Ownership: Freehold
Selling Status: Selling
Sales Started: 2021
Construction Status: Preconstruction

Deposit Structure
$100,000 with agreement
$100,000 in 60 days
$100,000 in 90 days

$50,000 with agreement
$50,000 in 60 days
$50,000 in 90 days

Current Incentives
Wolf/Sub Zero Kitchen Appliances
(includes 36″ 6 Burner Gas Range, 36″ Stainless Steel Fridge/Freezer, 24″ Stainless Steel Dishwasher, 36″ Chimney Hood)




*Incentives current as of July 6, 2021
Oakridge Meadows Summary
Exquisite Luxury in a Natural Setting
Welcome to Oakridge Meadows, a collection of luxurious single family homes and townhomes in the heart of Richmond Hill’s most eloquently idyllic landscape.

Property information

Canada’s First Time Home Buyer Incentive (2021)

The First Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) is a shared-equity mortgage aimed at middle-class first-time home buyers, designed to lower their monthly mortgage payments without increasing the amount they need to save for a down payment.

Canada’s First Time Home Buyer Incentive
How does the First Time Home Buyer Incentive work
Why is the First Time Home Buyer Incentive important for Canadians?
What to consider before getting the First Time Home Buyer Incentive
Do I qualify for the First Time Home Buyer Incentive?
Will the First Time Home Buyer Incentive really help?

How does the First Time Home Buyer Incentive work?
For buyers who qualify, the government puts up five per cent of the price of a resale home, or either five or 10 per cent of the price of a newly constructed home. The incentive is a second mortgage on the title of the property, but no regular principal payments are required. The loan is interest free, and it can be repaid at any time without incurring penalties.

Why is it important for Canadians?
A recent survey conducted by Leger on behalf of RE/MAX reveals that many Canadians continue to struggle with housing affordability. To help Canadian home buyers get their foot in the door, the federal government has offered an incentive, to help carry the weight of those hefty mortgage payments. The incentive took effect in September 2019, with $1.25 billion in funding earmarked to the program over the next three years.

Despite the FTHBI being in effect for a number of months now, confusion continues to swirl. Is it a loan? With no interest or regular payments? And no definitive dollar amount to be repaid?

What to consider before applying for the First Time Home Buyer Incentive
The FTHBI is a loan based on the fair market value of the property.

The loan must be repaid within 25 years of the date borrowed or when the home is sold, whichever comes first.
While the loan is interest free, it’s a “shared equity mortgage” which means the government shares in any gains on the property value.
Alternately, if your property value takes a hit, your repayment amount to the government will be less than the amount borrowed.
For example, let’s say you took the five-per-cent incentive on a home priced at $200,000 (wishful thinking!), which would be $10,000. If you sell your home for $300,000 or its value increased to $300,000 at the 25-year mark, you would have to repay five per cent of the current value, or $15,000. On the flip side, if the home’s value decreased to $100,000, you’d only have to repay $5,000.

Do I qualify for the First Time Home Buyer Incentive?
The FTHBI is aimed at helping middle-class home buyers who need a boost. Thus, in order to qualify:

the borrower must be a first-time homebuyer
the borrower must have a household income of less than $120,000
the mortgage is capped at four times the maximum household income of $120,000, or $480,000. This means the average price of a home would be $500,000 to $600,000, depending on the down payment.
New qualification rules take effect in Canada’s priciest cities
Recently, new FTHBI eligibility criteria were announced for those buying a home in Canada’s priciest markets of Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. In these cities, in order to qualify, the first-time homebuyer:

should have a maximum household income of $150,000 (increased from $120,000)
can borrow up to 4.5 times their household income (increased from 4 times)
This would increase their buying power to roughly $722,000, up from $505,000. The firmer rules still apply for all other regions in Canada.

Will the First Time Home Buyer Incentive really help?
Critics have questioned the value of the FTHBI, arguing that it will do little to help homebuyers in Canada’s priciest housing markets – those people who need the incentive the most. The first iteration of the incentive was originally capped at $480,000. According to the RE/MAX Canadian Housing Market Outlook Report, this is where home prices in these cities sat in 2020, and where they’re expected to go in 2021:

$918,883 (2020, January1-October 31)
$974,015 (estimated in 2021)

$1,270,000 (2020, January1-October 31)
$1,320,800 (estimated in 2021)

$778,854 (2020, January1-October 31)
$817,796 (estimated in 2021)

Furthermore, media had reported that only one-third of applicants for the incentive were from Canada’s largest cities, and homebuyers don’t seem too keen on the idea of the government having a stake in their home.

How to Make your Interiors Exude Luxury for Less

How to Make your Interiors Exude Luxury for Less

In our modern homes everyone is trying to make their interiors look beautiful. In fact, who doesn’t want to own a home that looks like a professional decorated it? It looks stunning and stands out in a neighborhood.

The good news is that updating your home doesn’t have to be a big project. You can revamp it without breaking the bank. You can repurpose items, try DIY decorating projects, and merge inexpensive ideas to create home interiors that look like they belong in the pages of a magazine. Here’s how to do it:

Paint Accent Walls
An accent wall can add color to a space, emphasize a theme, or highlight treasured features. It is a great way to experiment with small quantities of bold and bright hues. It can help you to create color flow between furniture, artwork, and accessories. Every room in your home needs a focal point and an accent wall creates a larger-than-life one.

Refinish Floors
Most floors age after a while. Hardwood floors begin showing their age after about 20 years. If your hardwood floor has scratches, looks dull, or is discolored, it needs refinishing.

Fortunately, the standard ¾-inch hardwood floor can be sanded 6-8 times in its lifetime. Unless you live in a very old house, chances are that your floor can be spruced up. Hire a hardwood floor refinisher, an installer, or someone who specializes in refinishing.

Replace Lighting Fixtures
If your lighting lacks personality, toss it out. Replace the ceiling fans and chandeliers with unique lighting fixtures that draw eyes upwards. You don’t have to shop in expensive lighting stores to find the right fixtures, scour secondhand stores and flea markets for budget-friendly pieces.

The money you save on the fixtures can be used on other items to create a designer-inspired look. Be sure to add table lamps and floor lamps.

Reface Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinets
Replacing cabinets isn’t cheap and should only be done if the cabinets are completely worn out. If they are still in good condition but have lost their original appeal, reface them. There are three ways you can reface cabinets:

  1. Paint or refinish cabinet and drawer fronts
  2. Install new wood over the cabinets and drawer fronts
  3. Install new cabinet doors and drawer fronts
    New hardware can be used to complete the updates in all 3 cases. You can also sand cabinet interiors, paint them, or stain them for a whole new look.

Update Bed and Bath Linen
Colorful bed and bath linen can transform your rooms in an instant. Buy comforters with shams or bed skirts for a designer look and choose those that reflect your personal style. Pick bright bathroom towels and linen to add interest. If you know your way around a sewing machine, make your own linen and save the money you would have used to buy new ones.

Choose the Right Accessories
room accessoriesImage via: Design Shuffle
Avoid bright accessories, as they can look tacky when used together. While gold baubles, gilded frames, and brass lighting are regular fixtures in expensive, fabulous home interiors, make sure you choose more accessible accessories made from silver, chrome, or brushed nickel as they are easy on the eyes and offer a polished look.

If you have gold frames, replace them with new silver ones. Silver reflects light better than gold and will help you to achieve the look you want.

Why You Should Sell Your Home in 2021 (& How to Prepare)

Last year was crazy to say the least — both inside the home and in the outside world. Now, going into 2021, you’re probably wondering what to do with the year and your living situation going forward. Perhaps you’ve thought about it before or are just beginning to consider whether you should sell your house. Although the right and wrong time to sell a house depends on much more than the outside world, 2021 might be one of the best times to sell if you’re already considering doing so.
While the market can direct the exact time you sell, only you can determine the right time for you and your family. That’s because when you should sell your house is about your personal life circumstances, timing, and finances. But, once you’re at a place where you’re ready to sell, looking at the world to gauge the market can help you determine the perfect timeline for your sale and move.

Fortunately, 2021 brings hope not just for finding the home you love, but also for making a great sale on your current place. Specifically, finding someone you trust to handle the sale, prepping the place well, and moving forward in your own journey can help you sell your home and make the most of 2021.

Here are a few reasons why 2021 is the year you should sell your home.

You Have Time
COVID-19 brought lockdowns and quarantines for much of the world, and many people took to baking bread or doing home DIY projects at the beginning of the pandemic. That said, 2021 is still a year of caution and spending quality time inside, and you can regain that spirit and motivation when it comes to home projects, prepping the place to sell, and getting everything in order. Granted, having a lot of extra time to spend at home might not feel quite as exciting as it did when you were filled with inspiration, but you can still channel it into getting things together fully.

The Market Is Hot
The housing market can be tumultuous, and no year has proven that like this one. Even with the economic plights of the pandemic, the housing market has boomed into a seller’s market — which is good news for those looking to sell.

Many people are also looking to put down permanent roots, primarily outside of major metropolitan cities. The widespread desire to own a home in a quieter suburban area is a strong motivator to sell in 2021 — provided you have that kind of property. With this boom in the housing market, desirable homes are getting snatched up quickly and entertaining multiple offers. So, if you’re selling a home this year, expect to receive offers above your asking price.

While the market is subject to change — as it always is — right now is a hot time to sell houses, especially in areas with ample room and outdoor space. The pandemic is unpredictable and the market is, too. But, you can take advantage of it by selling at the right time — and as soon as possible.

You Can Take Your Time
While the market is hot right now and selling as soon as you can is a smart move if you’re ready, you also have the power to take the time you need this year. Right now, lots of signs point to the pandemic sparking new priorities in the market, even if the public health crisis clears up. Nevertheless, you can feel a bit more relaxed taking your time to get everything just right with your home.

How to Prepare
So, you’ve decided to sell your house this year. Now what?

While there are some specific things you can keep in mind for the 2021 housing market, there are also a few tips that are always good to keep on your radar when prepping for a sale. Whether this is your first time selling or you’ve been around the block a time or two, it’s important to prepare however you can. Here are a few ways to do just that:

Find a Real Estate Agent You Love
No matter when you’re selling, finding a great real estate agent to support and guide you through the process is a great way to make the sale of your home easy — for you and potential buyers. In fact, a real estate agent reduces the stress of negotiation and saves you time in the process.

Start Your Search, Too
This one might not be as obvious, but in a housing market so suited to sellers, those looking to move somewhere new should get a jump on their search, too. You don’t want your own house to sell fast and then end up with nowhere to go next.

Make Little Fixes
Small improvements can contribute significantly to the big picture, especially when putting your house on the market. Fixing cracks and dents; thoughtfully highlighting your entryway; and even putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls can truly change the game and make your house look totally move-in ready.

One of the most important aspects of selling your house is making sure potential buyers can see your house. In particular, doing a deep clean and decluttering not only helps you prepare to move, but also gives you the opportunity to neatly and concisely show off your home. Cleaning out closets, spare rooms and garages are all necessary when prepping your place for sale.

Selling your home at any time is about what you want and what you need. Not every year will work for you. However, if you feel ready to sell in 2021, it could pan out in your favor.

7 Signs Your Asking Price is Too High

Selling your home should be a carefully orchestrated process, and the most important step is setting the right asking price. In fact, setting the price too high can have several unpleasant side effects, and it is often the main reason your home isn’t selling. Yet before it gets to that stage, there are several signs that you’ve priced it too high. Here’s what you need to watch out for:

You’ve Based Your Price on What You Paid
One of the easiest mistakes to make is basing your asking price on what you’ve paid for your home, plus the costs of repairs and upgrades. Yet the local market may have depreciated in recent years, and homes might sell for less than what you bought yours for. Also, the upgrades and amenities you invested in several years ago could now show signs of wear and tear.

It can be tempting to ignore comparables or pricing recommendations from professionals because you know how much your home is really worth. But if you’re unwilling to adapt your price to the current market trends, you also risk failing to meet appraisals, which can result in your buyers’ mortgage loan being rejected by the bank, and the sale not going through at all.

Your Price Is Higher than Your Neighbor’s
When pricing your home, always take a moment to check out similar listings in your neighborhood, and see how your price compares. Buyers looking to move into a neighborhood will look at several listings in the area, and if your home stands out due to the high price rather than the photos and description, that could put them off. Admittedly, if there are little or no listings, buyers looking to move in the neighborhood will have to accept your asking price, yet it’s a gamble you’re better off not taking.

You’re Going with Your Agent’s High Asking Price
While it’s easy to assume that a real estate agent will make sure your home is reasonably priced, this isn’t always the case. Some agents will suggest higher asking prices in an attempt to grow their portfolio. An agent showing your overpriced home can turn buyers’ concerns around by suggesting cheaper listings in their portfolio which, in comparison, will be more appealing.

A reputable agent will point out that your asking price is too high, instead of assuring you that they’ll be able to find buyers regardless. It’s important to screen your agents in advance, and make sure that they don’t turn your attempt to sell your home into an opportunity for another seller to close the deal.

Your Listing Has Few Views…
Most buyers will start their home shopping online, so making sure that your listing attracts as many viewers as possible is a must. However, if your listing, whether posted by you or your agent, is seeing very little traffic in spite of the attractive ad, that’s a sign the price is a significant deterrent.

… and Your Home Has No Showings
Another sign that your asking price is too high is lack of interest from buyers. Whether you’re holding an open house, or hoping that your agent will give buyers the grand tour upon request, if weeks and months go by with few or no showings, it’s time to ask yourself why. And you might find that lowering your price could generate the flow of buyers you were hoping to get.

You Keep Receiving Low Ball Offers
There’s still some chance that your home will attract buyers interested to see it in spite of the high price. However, there’s a higher chance that, once the showing is over, they will offer to buy it thousands of dollars below the asking price. Buyers are expected to negotiate the price, yet if you constantly encounter offers significantly lower than what you’re asking for, this could well be a sign that your home is overpriced.

You’ve Been on the Market Too Long
Selling your home will take time, and that’s a given. However, if your listing has been up for several months and you’ve had no offers, that’s a sign that you might have to lower your asking price. Time is not on your side as a seller, and the longer your home stays on the market, the more likely it is that buyers will start giving it a wide berth, especially if other properties in your neighborhood have already sold. Not only that, but a long time on the market can also prompt buyers to come up with low ball offers on account of your home not selling.

When you’re putting your home on the market, pricing it can make or break a sale, so make sure that you’ve set the asking price correctly.

6 Hard Truths about Investment Properties

Investment properties are properties in which the owner plans to make a return on investment through either rental, resale, or both. With the right planning and management, they can be a nice little earner. But sometimes, they can be a slippery slope into financial distress. If you’re planning to invest in real estate, here are 6 hard truths about what could potentially await you.

Initial Costs Can Be Very Steep
Buying property is a costly affair in general, let alone when you’re venturing down the investment avenue. Financing the purchase of your investment property could well be your first hurdle, especially if you already have a mortgage. One way you can do this is through a cash-out refinance, however you will need to have sufficient equity in your home, as well as pass your lender’s assessments. Investment property mortgages are another option, but they can be very costly, and you can expect down payments of at least 25%, as well as stricter credit score requirements and higher interest rates.

Upkeep Can also Be Very Costly
Once you bought an investment property, there’s a very good chance you will need to perform some maintenance on it. Depending on the building’s age and condition, this can be anything from a fresh coat of paint, to plumbing repairs or installing new flooring.

Upkeep, however, is something you will need to keep on top of for as long as the property is in your possession. Rental properties in particular can be very high maintenance, and could require costly upkeep, depending on the tenants who have lived there previously.

At the same time, it’s important to check on and maintain properties that you intend to sell, especially if nobody lives there. For example, a vacant property that’s been on the market for several months can suffer unexpected damage, such as a pipe freezing in winter, and causing water damage when it bursts. Not only will you have to contend with the financial losses that come with a property that isn’t selling, but now you also have an expensive repair on your hands.

Finding the Right Tenant Can Be Tricky
If you’re buying an investment property that you intend to rent out, it’s important that you find the right tenants to live there. Ideally, you should draw up a contract that clearly stipulates rules such as no smoking or no pets, as well as ask for a security deposit. Yet even so, you should prepare for cases in which rent is paid late, tenants are disruptive, your property is damaged (whether on purpose or accidentally), items get stolen, or tenants simply abandon the property without any notice.

In the best case scenario, the security deposit will cover any damages and items that need replacing. But even so, you run the risk of taking your property off the market for a few weeks, while repairs are being performed, which can set you back financially.

It’s worth noting that evicting a troublesome tenant takes time, and needs to be done in accordance with the law and the local renter’s rights. Also, as a landlord, you will need to wait a standard 30 days before you can use the security deposit, assuming that your tenant doesn’t qualify for a return.

The Property Value Could Decrease
Depending on market fluctuations, the value of your property can either rise or fall. This can put a spanner in the works if you’re buying investment properties with the intention of selling them later on. The most common scenario is neighborhood decline, which will result in a depreciation of your property’s value. Regardless of whether you’re dealing in commercial or residential investment properties, pay close attention to the signs of a declining neighborhood prior to buying, such as an increased lack of stores or public transport.

Selling an Investment Property Can Take Time
Unlike other types of investments, properties are not a liquid asset. If you’re flipping properties or just planning a resale later on, prepare for any financial drawbacks that could arise while the property is on the market. And as any investor knows, the older the listing is, the bigger the risk of not closing on a sale.

Lots of Hidden Costs to Watch Out For
On top of the initial cost, upkeep and maintenance, investment properties pack hidden expenses that might not be obvious at first sight. The best example is long periods of vacancy for rental properties, especially when there’s little demand. Not only that, but if you’re a landlord dealing with several rentals, you will find yourself in need of hiring a property manager, which adds to your monthly costs. Don’t forget to take property insurance into account, and also keep an eye out for an increase in local taxes.

Canada’s Big Banks Not Worried About the Housing Market Strain

Residential Building in CanadaImage: dies-irae /
Although several forecasters predict the Canadian housing market will be severely impacted by the pandemic, the country’s largest banks seem to have a more positive outlook on things.

Forecasters at UBS Group AG, Moody’s Corp. and even the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) believe that a housing correction could be on the horizon, with significant price declines over the next year. However, Canada’s six largest lenders are only predicting slight price decreases of about 3%, on average. In fact, the Bank of Montreal expects no change in average real estate values.

One of the primary reasons for the disparity in predictions is the data these organizations look at. Many forecasters use high-level economic and demographic figures that seem to suggest a mismatch between prices and current income, immigration and employment trends. For example, Moody’s predicts a 7% price decline.

In a report released in May, CMHC, Canada’s housing agency and main mortgage insurance provider, forecasted an average home price of $460,292 for Q1 2021. Since August’s average home value was $586,000, prices would need to decrease 21% by the end of next March to meet the expected forecast.

The organization has recently noted that April data was used for the original estimate, so things may be slightly less concerning in the near future, based on more recent information.

Even so, according to John Aiken, analyst at Barclays Plc, a 20% housing price decrease would likely only have a significant effect on banks if there was also a marked increase in unemployment that meant borrowers couldn’t pay their mortgages. This too would only be somewhat problematic, as banks are often well set up to weather loan losses, and CMHC or other providers insure many of their mortgages.

To make their predictions, Canada’s big banks rely heavily on internal customer data, like money flow in consumers’ chequing accounts and the number and size of mortgage preapprovals.

All in all, housing is an essential earnings stream for banks, so the trajectory of housing prices will be critical over the next year. According to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), residential mortgages make up about 40% of the six largest Canadian banks’ loans. At the end of July, this accounted for about $1.13 trillion in Canadian residential mortgages.

Shifts in the Housing Market
The downtown cores of major cities like Toronto show the most significant housing stress signs, with excess inventories of condos for sale.

Otherwise, most of the market, including single-family homes, has experienced price increases, even in times of recession. For example, the average price of a detached house in Toronto increased to $1.18 million in September, up 17% year-over-year. Even smaller cities and towns have seen boosts in prices, some of more than 20%.

Toronto, the country’s largest housing market, was ranked No. 3 on the Real Estate Bubble Index released by UBS last month. Using factors such as construction levels, GDP and price-to-income ratios, the index looks at which global cities pose the highest risk of property-price bubbles.

Employment & Immigration
Banking experts who say the housing market will rebound quickly believe that decreases in jobs and immigration related to the pandemic will be short-lived. They also note that COVID-19 has made homes more valuable since people are now working and learning, in addition to living in them.

A survey conducted by PwC in July showed that 59% of Canadians were working remotely, and only about 20% of them said they wanted to return to their workplace full-time if the pandemic eased.

As well, 64% of people working from home said they didn’t feel comfortable or weren’t sure if they were comfortable returning to their external workplace. This suggests employees may be working remotely for the foreseeable future, and their homes will play an essential role.

On the other hand, other experts believe economic issues resulting from the pandemic will cause continued high unemployment and low immigration numbers. And as immigration helps boost real estate demand in general, the market should experience a downturn because of this.

While banks and other forecasters seem to have different opinions on what the future holds for Canadian real estate and the economy in general, most acknowledge that the pandemic significantly impacted both and that it will take a bit of time for things to recover. It remains to be seen just how long this recovery will take.