Preparing to sell your home in 2018

20150955fc5b087d29c.pngIf you’re thinking of selling your home in 2018, it’s never too soon to start preparing. Now is the time to get your finances in order and begin working on those minor projects around the house that will help you realize top dollar when it comes time to list.

When trying to zero in on where your money will best be spent, consider what most buyers are looking for. Some improvements may cost a few thousand dollars but are almost guaranteed to increase the value of your home, thus providing a high return on your investment. These include projects like replacing old, worn-out carpet, updating a dingy bathroom or finishing your basement.

Repainting is one household update that will provide a 200% return on your investment. Nothing makes a home look updated, clean and ready for new owners like a fresh coat of paint! Stick to a neutral palette to appeal to the masses and be sure to repair walls first and paint high traffic areas like the front entry, kitchen and great room.

Since we all know that kitchens sell homes, it’s wise to do what you can to make yours more appealing to buyers, especially in an older home. You might be amazed at how easy it is to refinish or repaint cabinetry. There are some fantastic products on the market today that make this project a cinch – visit your local hardware store and ask an expert. Switching up your door hardware is another way to add dramatic impact without spending a fortune.

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Another area to focus on when it comes to wowing potential buyers this spring is your home’s curb appeal. Before the snow starts falling, take a good look at your home’s exterior, including siding, roof, windows, garage doors, outdoor lighting, porch, walkway, driveway and your fence and deck. If repair or maintenance is needed on some of these items it’s best to wait until the winter weather is over, but it’s a good idea to know where your attention may be needed so you can start saving and planning!

Jennifer Birch

Make a statement with your Master Bedroom Headboard

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Between magazines, TV shows and decorating websites, it certainly is easy to find inspiration for home décor. If your master bedroom is due for an update, you can add some serious wow factor with an eye-catching headboard. Sure, there are many gorgeous pieces out there ready for installation but if you’re feeling crafty and creative, check out these ideas for fashioning your very own work of art!

If you’re an antique lover, start by searching your local antique shops and flea markets. Keep an open mind as you peruse the aisles; look for accordion room dividers, old tin ceiling tiles, shutters, mantles or wrought iron gates – anything that can be cleaned up, painted and repurposed. If you or someone you love is handy with power tools, you will be amazed at what you can whip together with just a few supplies. Tight on space? Attach small lamps and build a little nightstand on each side to eliminate the need for extra furniture!

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If you are an artist at heart, unleash your creativity with a paintbrush! You can affix wood slats to the wall where your bed will be placed (Cut to the desired length. If using old barn board, clean it up and sand first. If using new wood, take some time to distress the wood before painting.) After you’ve attached the wood to the wall, paint a nature scene, a special quote, flowers or a geometric design – the options are endless!

If you love combining textures, fabric might be the perfect option for your new headboard. For a classic, clean look that can work with many décor styles, an upholstered headboard is a fairly easy DIY project. Choose a bright and cheerful patterned fabric, or keep it simple with a neutral coloured fabric and a diamond tuft pattern – it’s easier than you think! Check online for step-by-step tutorials. For an even easier fabric headboard option, hang a stylish curtain rod over your bed and use a set of beautiful drapes to create your headboard.

Get organized for the winter season

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While we were fortunate to enjoy some unseasonably warm days during October, November has arrived and it’s only a matter of time before the snow starts falling. With the arrival of frosty weather comes the need to switch over our wardrobes from summer to winter, presenting the perfect opportunity to organize closets and dressers!

The first step is purging. As you sort through clothing, be honest with yourself and look at which items did not get worn this summer. If an item doesn’t fit or is no longer fashionable, throw it away or set it aside for donation. The same goes for accessories. Take some time to sort through shoes, belts, scarves, and jewelry, tossing items that have seen better days or just aren’t your style anymore. If you have a smaller closet and extra storage space elsewhere, move off-season clothes to a separate location. There’s no need to take up space with bathing suits, cover-ups, beach hats and sandals so if it’s an option, store these items elsewhere until the spring.

oc-pink-drapesOnce you have pared down your wardrobe, decide if your closet would benefit from an organization system. When you have a proper place for everything and put everything back where it belongs, you will have success in keeping your closet clean and organized all winter long. When setting up your new system, keep the items you use the most accessible and put things used less frequently at the back or on a top shelf out of the way. Set up clothing by colour, type (work, casual, active wear etc.) or by category (pants, dresses, shirts, etc.) – choose what works for you. Whatever you decide, keep the system simple so it can be easily maintained on a daily basis.

Another storage space that will likely need some attention is your front hall closet. Pack away sandals and water shoes, light spring jackets and anything else that has gathered over the past six months. Go through your winter wear items and be sure that gloves and mittens have a match and items are in good shape before adding them back into the mix. Now is also a good time to replace hangers or your shoe rack if needed.

What buyers are looking for in homes

modern country kitchenIf you’re thinking of selling your home in the next six months, year or even two years, it’s never too soon to start thinking re-sale value. Improvements to your home will almost always add value so it’s in your best interest to choose upgrades that are of good quality and have universal appeal – converting a spare bedroom to a luxurious master suite will attract a select few potential buyers but actually be viewed negatively by the majority of homeowners. Here’s a look at some household features that many buyers are looking for in 2017.

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1. Smart Home Technology – More and more buyers are looking for a home that boasts smart home features and technology. Included are items in three general categories: features for practical and functional use (i.e. kitchen appliances with LED touchscreen displays, NEST thermostats and remote-controlled shades), features for lifestyle and entertainment (i.e. built-in sound systems and automated lighting systems) and items for safety and security (i.e. smart locks, Wi-Fi video doorbells and security cameras).

2. Hardwood Flooring – It’s estimated that 80% of buyers have hardwood floors included in their list of must-haves when house-hunting. Durable, long-lasting angreat-rustic-hardwood-flooring-17-best-ideas-about-rustic-hardwood-floors-on-pinterest-rusticaesthetically pleasing, hardwood is one of the most expensive flooring options available but also one of the best investments from a resale value standpoint.

3. Updated Kitchen and Bathrooms – We all know that kitchens and bathrooms sell a home, so if you have reno dollars to spend, it’s wise to shell out the cash to upgrade the heart of the home and bathrooms. Updated cabinets, quartz or granite countertops and newer appliances are all something that potential buyers will be looking for when house-hunting. When it comes to bathrooms, more and more buyers are seeking a little luxury. Freestanding tubs, high-tech toilets, unique tile shapes and heated floors will appeal to discerning buyers.

4. Outdoor Living Space – With such a short hot and sunny season here in Canada, many homeowners want to take advantage of the summer weather while it’s here, making fancy outdoor kitchens and living spaces a hot commodity.

Have the spookiest house on the street

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Do you love driving around your neighbourhood during October, checking out the ghostly and gruesome Halloween decorations? Thinking of upping your game this year? With plenty of time to get crafty before October 31, make this the year to go all out and enter the running for your street’s creepiest house!

Here are 8 spooktacular ideas for creating a spine-chilling, Halloween home:

1. Remove your doormat and use black duct tape to create a spider web on your front porch.

2. Cut eye holes in empty toilet paper rolls, insert a glow stick in each and strategically place in bushes around your yard.

3. Think large scale and drape spider webs from your eavestrough down to your front porch. Make or buy some massive spiders (you can find instructions for creating your own on Pinterest) and place the creepy crawlers in the web.

4. Use some discarded Barbies or other dolls (you can find them at your local thrift shop) to create an army of zombie dolls. Use grey paint on their faces, mess up their hair and remove a few limbs for the full effect!

5. Nothing says Halloween like swirling fog! Make your own fog machine with a few simple ingredients. You’ll need pure gylcerin, distilled water, an empty 2 litre bottle, a small tin foil pie tin and a couple other easy-to-find supplies to create your DIY fog machine. Check online for detailed instructions.

6. Instead of a red carpet entry, offer your guests a faux blood-stained pathway! Cut 3-foot strips from an old, white sheet or drop cloth and lay along your front walkway a few hours before trick-or-treaters start arriving. Step in red paint with bare feet and add some bloodied footprints and splatter some more red paint for a little extra gore.

7. To create the illusion of desperate folks trying to escape your home, cut out forearm/handprints from black bristol board and affix to windows. Use dim lighting for the desired effect.

8. For a weird and whimsical look, shape chicken wire into ghostly figures, spray with glow in the dark paint and place on your front lawn.

You can find plenty of exciting ideas for Halloween decorating at http://www.countryliving.com/diy-crafts/g1370/outdoor-halloween-decorations/

Why you should work with a realtor when buying a home

blog-5As a consumer, you take your time when making a major purchase, researching products, asking for opinions and weighing the pros and cons of the many different options available. When it comes to making life’s biggest purchase – a new home – you’ve likely done the same. You’ve visited the neighbourhoods you’re interested in and have an idea of the average market price. You may have toured a few open houses and have your mind set on the ideal floor plan and style of home you prefer.

It’s true; There’s a lot to think about and even more to understand when buying a home and what you see when you walk from room to room is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s for this reason that finding a seasoned professional to guide you every step of the way is a smart decision for house hunters. Even if you’ve owned a home before and feel confident in your ability to find “the right house”, a real estate salesperson has the breadth of knowledge and a special skill set that comes only with experience – they are dealing with the sale and acquisition of homes on a daily basis.

Here are just a few of the things that a realtor will be looking for during your hunt for a new home:

Wiring – Homes built up until the 1940’s were likely outfitted with knob and tube wiring. In the 60’s, aluminum wire became a popular choice. Both are considered a fire hazard and today many insurance companies will refuse to insure a home with one of these types of electrical wiring or will charge a higher premium. Your realtor will be able to tell if a home has knob and tube or aluminum wiring. Replacing the electrical wiring in an entire house can cost anywhere from $7,000 – $15,000.

HVAC system – A salesperson will be able to tell you the exact age of the furnace and air conditioner and may be able to tell you if these systems have been properly maintained.

Plumbing – Sump pumps, septic tanks, wells and sewer systems….your realtor will be able to explain each of these features in detail.

Ontario’s next step towards waste free province

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Did you know that, on average, every Ontarian produces more than 850 kilograms of waste every year? For the past 10 years, residents have only recycled about 25% of their waste, meaning that over eight million tonnes of waste is being sent to landfill each year.

In an effort to improve these numbers, the government announced details about Ontario’s Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy this past spring. This new initiative outlines the province’s plan to fight climate change by reducing landfilled materials that could otherwise be reused, recycled, composted and reintegrated into the economy. The Waste-Free Ontario Act will make it mandatory to separate food and other organics from the waste stream with municipalities told to implement programs by the end of 2018. This means that families will need to start being more diligent about recycling and composting in their homes in the very near future.

The good news? Composting is easy! You can find a composting unit in plastic or wood at your local hardware store, or you can make your own. Check online for step-by-step instructions.

Here are some tips for ensuring that you have success with backyard composting:

1. Place your composter in a dry, shady accessible location (remember, you can use it during summer and winter).

2. Add your compost material in alternating layers of greens and browns. Greens are kitchen scraps, such as vegetables, fruit, tea bags, coffee grounds and crushed eggshells. Browns are leaves, grass clippings, cut-up twigs, sawdust and shredded paper products.

3. Occasionally you may need to add water. Your compost should be damp, but not soaking wet.

4. Add a layer of soil every so often. This will introduce micro-organisms that will help break down the material and deter insects.

5. Add air. Every month or so, turn the compost well. Some composters are even mounted on frames that allow for easy turning.

For a backyard composter, avoid any fish, meat, dairy products, fats or oils. These materials may attract pests. If your area has a green bin system, these materials are still fine for pickup. After a few months, your compost will be ready for your garden. Its nutrient-rich qualities will keep your plants healthy and happy while reducing your household waste.

Happy composting!

Jennifer Birch – Realtor