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4 Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Home maintenanceSpring has officially arrived! As a homeowner, the arrival of each new season usually brings with it a few maintenance chores that will need to be tackled, so wait for a nice, sunny day and check these jobs off your to-do list!

1. Repaint windows, siding and doors if needed. While wood will always be a popular material in home building, unfortunately it does require regular maintenance to keep it looking its best and realizing its life span. As with any job, take the time to gather the proper materials before getting started – it will make things run smoothly. Scrape away old, chipped or peeling paint from window and door frames and wood siding. Sand if necessary and finish by pressure washing on a low setting. Prime and paint as needed with a good quality exterior paint.

2. Organize the garage. After a long winter, your garage may have become a drop-zone for gardening supplies, sporting equipment, toys, broken items, etc. Enlist the help of kids to help create piles, including one for items to throw out, one for items to sell and a third for items to keep. If storage is an issue, assemble some heavy duty shelving or hooks. If your garage floor has seen better days, consider sealing and painting the floor for a tidy, clean look that will also extend its lifespan.

3. It’s likely been a few months since your air conditioner saw the light of day, so remove the cover on your outdoor unit, shut off the power and give it a good cleaning, removing any dust and debris. Inside the house, you’ll want to change the air filter and check for any leaks in the ductwork. Almost every HVAC company offers maintenance packages, so if you’re not up to the challenge or just don’t have time, schedule an appointment with a professional. Proper A/C maintenance will extend the life of your cooling unit and keep your energy bills down all summer long!

4. Clean or pressure wash deck. Canadians certainly spend as much time as possible during the summer months enjoying their outdoor spaces, so start off the season with a fresh slate! Take great care when pressure washing soft wood surfaces – one would rarely need more than 1500 psi to complete this task – any more can damage the wood. You can skip the pressure washer and buy a good quality wood cleaner and use some good, old-fashioned elbow grease to get your deck gleaming for the season ahead!

Jennifer Birch

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5 Tips for Buyers and Sellers

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Make your move a stress-free one! The smart first step for both parties is finding a real estate professional you are comfortable working with. They will be the guiding light during the entire process.
BUYERS: 5 tips for ensuring a successful real estate transaction:

1. Avoid overspending at all costs. Establish a budget and stick to it, no matter what. Being “house poor” will definitely overshadow the initial joy you feel from purchasing a home.

2. Don’t get emotionally involved. It’s easier said than done, but if a deal doesn’t go through – whether it’s an issue with price, conditions or a bidding war – be prepared to walk away knowing that your perfect house IS still out there!

3. Try to see the big picture. Don’t get hung up on paint colours, a messy yard or ugly light fixtures. These are all easy fixes. Instead use big-ticket items, like the condition of the furnace, windows and roof to help aid in your decision.

4. Location, location, location. It’s the one thing you can never change about the house you buy.

5. Start an emergency fund. Unforeseen (and expensive) issues can arise at any time for homeowners. Having funds set aside specifically for this purpose will bring peace of mind.

5 Tips for sellers:

1. Spend money to make money. To maximize your home’s selling potential, make any necessary minor repairs, give tired walls a fresh coat of paint or hire a stager.

2. Don’t over price. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, including yours.

3. Never underestimate the power of a clean house. Your home should be spotless for showings and open houses. No exceptions!

4. Start packing as soon as the deal has been finalized. Just pack a few boxes every day. Procrastinating on this time-consuming chore will leave you stressed out as the days get closer to moving day.

5. Research your movers. Nothing messes up a moving day more than unreliable movers, so be sure to ask friends and family for recommendations, do some research and get everything in writing.

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

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First time home buyers… Are you ready?

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While interest rates remain low, there have been a few changes in recent months and some even bigger changes in recent years that have made purchasing a home tougher for first-time buyers. Prices across most of the country are on the rise and housing stock is low in many areas, creating a fast-paced, red-hot real estate market that is leaving some in the dust.

Here are 3 things you should consider before you start the hunt for your first home:

Can you afford it? Without a doubt, this is the most important question of all when planning the largest purchase of your life. In addition to mortgage payments, be sure to factor in all the added costs that homeowners face. Closing costs, property tax, monthly utility bills, home maintenance and repairs will add up quickly and with the new mortgage rules that went into effect last fall, getting pre-approved is tougher.

Is your down payment sufficient? While it’s ideal to put down 20 percent (to avoid paying mortgage insurance, which can tack an extra $50 to $100 per month onto your debt load) the law in Canada requires purchasers to pay, up front, at least five percent of the purchase price. If you’re having trouble coming up with this amount, talk to your lender or a financial planner for suggestions on saving money faster.

Is home ownership right for you, right now? This is a valid question for Millennials who are considering taking the leap into owning real estate. Buying a home is a major life event and, while owning real estate is always a wise investment, if you have a career that could include a transfer a year down the road or there’s a chance you may return to school to further your education, the timing might not be right. Location is another factor to consider. Do you foresee yourself in this town or city for a number of years? Buying and selling a home and moving are costly steps, so be sure you’ve found the right location to set down your roots.

With some thoughtful consideration, you will make the right choice. Having a trusted Realtor like myself on your side – will always be a benefit.   Contact me if you want to start shopping for your new home.

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

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Add a touch of spring to your home

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April has arrived and after a cold and snowy March, we are all more than ready to embrace the spring season. With a few simple changes around the home and a couple uplifting weekend projects, you can easily transition your digs from winter to spring.

Get growing – April is the ideal time to start planting seeds. Annuals and vegetables are easy to start indoors, but you need to think a bit about timing. Most seeds should be sowed 4-6 weeks before the last frost, so here in southern Ontario, you should start your seedlings during the second or third week in April.

Change your bedding – Nothing says ‘out with the old and in with the new’ like a set of crisp, new sheets! Pack away the cozy flannels and splurge on a set of light and airy cotton sheets. This spring, fuchsia, yellow and bright green are dominating the runway so be a trendsetter and update your master or guest bedroom with these zingy hues!

Decorate for Easter – Easter isn’t until April 16 this year, so there is plenty of time to make use of those Easter decorations. If you’re lacking in the Easter décor department, get the kids involved in a fun craft! Visit Pinterest to find a variety of easy craft projects, everything from paper maché eggs to toilet paper roll bunnies.

Add some new dishes to your menu – Winter was all about roasts, crock pot meals and hearty soups. Now that spring has arrived, it’s the perfect time to start adding some lighter fare to your weekly repertoire. Main course salads, quiches, grilled fish and lightened up vegetable soups are ideal for springtime dinner planning.

Say it with colour – A boost no matter what the season, bringing some bright colours into the home this spring is just the ticket to livening up your mood. Whether it’s with a few bold and bright throw pillows, a vase of fresh flowers, a big bowl of bright lemons or a dazzling new piece of artwork, a splash of colour will help drag your home out of winter dreariness.

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Are you ready to buy?

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Thinking of buying a home during this red hot spring market?   The biggest question to ponder when considering home ownership is affordability.   Take the time to determine a realistic budget, taking mortgage payments, property taxes, closing and moving costs, monthly utility and home repair and maintenance into account.

If you’re confident that buying a home is within reach, contact me, I work with a great Mortgage Broker who will help you to determine your options!

Jennifer Birch – Realtor