For many seniors, the choice to downsize comes after retirement or following health issues that limit mobility and make accessibility in their current home difficult. Others are simply looking to save a little money each month. Downsizing can help with all of those things and more, but it’s important to have a good plan in place before you get started. Knowing what to expect will help you make smart choices so you can find the perfect home for your needs.
It’s also important to have a financial plan in place from the beginning, so setting a budget is essential. Being knowledgeable about the area you live in will help immensely, so it will be a good idea to either do some research online or enlist the help of a real estate agent. Take a drive through the neighborhoods in your area to get a feel for prices and what’s available.
Know what you’re looking for
It’s imperative to do your research and figure out exactly what you’re looking for in the very beginning. Set a budget, think about locations, and narrow down what type of home is right for you. If you or your partner have health or mobility issues, you’ll probably want a home that doesn’t have stairs or a big yard to take care of. You may want a home that is close to family or is only a few minutes away from the doctor or grocery store, so location will be important. Once you have a good idea of what you want, enlist the help of a realtor who can help you find exactly the right spot.
Downsize your stuff
Downsizing your home also means downsizing your belongings. Since you’ll have less space, it’s important to go through each room of your house and make some choices. It will help if you have the layout of your new place because this will allow you to see where windows and doors are so you can picture where furniture will go, and it will help you weed out large belongings that just won’t fit.
Downsizing can be a very emotional process, so it’s a good idea to ask close friends or family for help during this time. They can assist you when it comes to deciding what to get rid of, what to donate, and what to pass down to loved ones.
Packing up can be a big job, which can add to the stress of moving. Staying organized and being prepared will help quite a bit, so gather all your packing materials in one place and start in one room rather than trying to get everything done at once. It’s a good idea to clean the entire house and declutter before you pack so that all the like items are already together. Write out a packing list for each box and tape it to the outside so you can find things easily.
Taking care of yourself on moving day is essential. Make sure you stay hydrated, eat small snacks all throughout the day, and rest when you need to. Hire movers or ask friends and family to help out, and don’t be shy about delegating jobs. Remember, you can’t do it all yourself!
Downsizing requires a lot of planning and thought, so it’s important to remember that the process may take a while. Try to be patient and take care of yourself so that stress and anxiety won’t be an issue. This can be an exciting time, so take advantage of it!
Guest Blogger: Michael Longsdon
Ideally, you would like buyers to wait until they’ve viewed your whole property before they judge it. However, the reality is, buyers start forming an impression of your home as soon as they see it from the curb. So, it pays to do everything you can to improve your property's "curb appeal". Here are some ideas:
· You can improve the impact of your landscaping by trimming hedges, removing any unsightly weeds, and cutting the grass. Planting just a few fresh flowers can make a big impact.
· If your main entrance door is old, a fresh coat of paint will make it look like new. In some cases, the effect is significant. · Remove any items that might distract the buyer from forming a good first impression. For example, garbage cans, stored items along the side of the property, etc.
· Make sure the curtains and blinds on your front windows are open during viewings. That will make your home look more friendly and appealing.
· If your driveway has grease stains and other blemishes, consider renting a power washer and giving the driveway a thorough cleaning.
· Clean your front windows. If possible, also clean the exterior panes.
Finally, if possible, park your vehicles on the street and away from your home. Doing this will not only make your home look more inviting to buyers, but it will also give them a convenient place to park. Most of these tips can be done in less than a day. Yet, they can make a big difference in your home's curb appeal. They are worth the effort!
You might naturally assume that it is most important to talk to a Realtor when you’re selling or buying a home. But there are many other circumstances in which it makes sense to give me a call. Here are a few examples.
1. When you’re at the “thinking about it” stage If you’re just thinking about selling your home, and haven’t made a firm decision yet, you might feel uncomfortable calling a Realtor. Don’t be. In fact, I welcome your call. We can discuss what your current property will likely sell for on today’s market, and determine the type of home you qualify to buy. That way, you’ll have some clarity and be able to make a more informed decision.
2. If you’re nervous about the selling process If you haven’t sold a home before, you might be concerned about what’s involved in the process. You might even worry that putting your home on the market is going to be a lot of work and create a lot of turbulence for you and your family. Fortunately, selling your home doesn’t need to be scary. In fact, a big part of my job as a Realtor is to make the process as smooth and trouble-free as possible. So if you have concerns about selling your home, you should give me a call.
3. If you have questions You likely have questions about the local real estate scene from time to time. You might have questions like: “How much did that home around the corner sell for?”; “Is now a good time to make a move, or should I wait until the market changes?”; and, “How much is my current home worth?” When you have questions like those, you don’t need to dig for answers on your own. You can give me a call. As an expert in the local market, I can give you the answers you need.
Imagine you were selling your car, and a prospective buyer was on the way over to see it. What would you do? You would probably make your vehicle look as clean and shiny as possible, inside and out. The same holds true if you’re selling your home and there’s a potential buyer on the way. You want the buyer to be wow’d by your property. Here’s a handy checklist to follow:
• Clean every room. Make your entire house look as “guest ready” as possible.
• As much as is feasible given the time, reduce clutter. Consider packing some items into boxes and storing them in the basement or garage.
• Get pets out of the house. You can take them for a walk, have a neighbour watch them, or take them to a good kennel. • Turn on the lights, even during the day. You want each room to look bright.
• If there are any maintenance issues, such as a dripping faucet, let your Realtor know. Often, it’s best for buyers to be told rather than discover such issues themselves.
• Open the curtains, except in those rooms where the sun will be uncomfortably strong during the viewing.
• Move your vehicles from the driveway so the buyer can park there. (That can help them imagine living there, which is what you want!)
• Make sure your foyer is especially clean and uncluttered. It’s the first “room” the buyer visits.
• Avoid cooking just before a viewing. Even if the meal is wonderful, the aroma may linger. (Some people don’t like the smell of certain dishes, such as fish.)
• Freshen up the outdoor space. Mow the lawn. Sweep the walkway.
This viewing checklist will help you prepare your home quickly, so when the buyer comes in your front door, there’s a much better chance he or she will be impressed
For the first time in 3 years, there are more houses for you to choose from! If you're considering a move because of a relocation, the kids leaving the nest, the need for something bigger or smaller, and the list goes on and on. However, there are also some less-than-obvious indicators that it may be time to sell. Consider the following:
1. Your Property is no longer a Good "Fit" Your home may have been perfect for you when you bought it. But things change. Families grow. Needs evolve. For any number of reasons, your property may no longer be a good fit for you. If that's the case, it makes sense to at least take a look at what's available on the market. Who knows? Your next "perfect" home may be for sale right now — within your price range!
2. The Neighbourhood is Changing You may have been in love with the neighbourhood when you first moved in. But, over time, the characteristics of any area can change. Those changes don’t necessarily mean the neighbourhood is getting worse. In fact, it may be changing in a positive way; perhaps becoming more urban. But, "more urban" may not be what you want. So take a look at the direction your neighbourhood is heading. Ask yourself, "Do I still want to be living here in two years?"
3. You're Ready for Your Dream Home. Remember when you purchased your current property? Did it have every feature you wanted? Was it your dream home? Or, did you have to compromise on a few things, such as the size of the kitchen? If you had to make some tough choices back then, it might be time for you to finally get the home of your dreams. Those are just three indicators it may be time for you to make a move. Of course, there are many others.
You've probably heard about "home staging". As the name implies, it's all about arranging each room in your home in a way that will make the best impression on buyers. Here's what you need to know about staging if you're thinking of listing your property.
1. Staging can get you a higher price. On average, a fully-staged home tends to sell for 17% more than an unstaged home of the same type in the same local market. Depending on the current market value of your property, doing some staging in your home could put thousands of extra dollars in your pocket, post-sale.
2. It can speed up the sale. A study by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) showed that fully staged homes spend an average of 90% less time on the market. So, if you need to sell quickly – without dropping your price – or you just want the comfort of having offers come in sooner, staging will definitely help.
3. You don't have to go crazy. Completely staging every room in your home is going to give you the full benefits of this strategy. However, you don't have to go that far. In fact, just implementing a few simple staging techniques to some key rooms can make a big difference.
4. Get professional help or advice. When it comes to home staging, don't guess at it. Get professional help or advice. As a REALTOR®, I have a lot of expertise in this area and often provide clients with proven, do-it-yourself staging tips and suggestions. If necessary, I can also recommend a professional stager. Contact me anytime.
An Open House is an event. And, like many events, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and energy. In fact, when you visit an Open House, you might even end up rubbing elbows with other buyers who are there at the same time. It can feel like a party!
In an environment like that, it’s not unusual to forget to ask important questions about the property. Here are some of the most common:
• How old is the roof?
• How old is the furnace, air conditioner and other HVAC equipment?
• How does the price compare to similar properties in the neighbourhood? (You don’t want to make an offer that’s too high.)
• What are the characteristics of the neighbourhood? (Amenities, safety, traffic, access to public transit, property turnover, etc.)
• What doesn’t come with the home? (Ask specifically about kitchen appliances, gas-connected BBQs, chandeliers, window coverings.)
• Are there any potential impediments to the sale? (Tenants, outstanding liens, etc.)
• Are there any outstanding maintenance issues, or repairs that need to be done? (For example, cracked ceramics on the foyer floor.)
• Are there any issues that impact the full use of the property? (Ask specifically about shared driveways or walkways, public “right of way” through the property, water drainage rights from neighbouring homes, etc.)
Yes, an Open House can feel like a frenzy, and if it’s a home you love, you might feel pressured to make an offer. But, it’s important to take the time to ask the right questions and consider your decision carefully. You don’t want to find out, too late, that there were questions you should have asked. Want more tips on finding the home of your dreams? Call today.
For some homeowners, the process of listing, showing and selling their home can be stressful. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to make it much less nerve-racking—and even exciting and enjoyable.
Here are some ideas:
1. Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to show your property, search for a new home, view listings, etc. Block out these times in an agenda book or calendar. That way, you and your family can see what’s coming up.
2. Be flexible. Few things go exactly as planned! So, it’s important to build in flexibility. For example, you may plan to see homes for sale on Saturdays, but if an opportunity comes up on a weeknight, give yourself room in your schedule to jump on it.
3. Eat well. There are numerous studies that connect poor nutrition with increased stress. When people are selling and moving, there’s a tendency to rely on quick fixes, such as hot dogs and pizza! Try to plan more nutritious meals that will keep everyone healthy and energized.
4. Get stuff done early. Doing things last minute, such as finding a real estate lawyer or getting rid of clutter, can quickly lead to stress and frustration. Whenever possible, get tasks done early. That way, you won’t have to worry about them.
5. Hire the right professionals. By far, the surest way to a stress-free move is to get the right professionals working for you: everyone from contractors to mortgage brokers to movers.
By the way, a big part of what I do for clients is help make every aspect of buying, selling and moving go smoothly. Contact me to learn how I can help you.
Buying a new pair of shoes is relatively easy. Once you find the style you like, all you need to do is try them on and see if they fit. If they do, you go to the cash register and pay. When it comes to size, buying a new home can be trickier! Whether your intention is to upsize or downsize, figuring out the right size can be especially challenging. Say for example, you’re downsizing from a large two-story home to a smaller bungalow. You don’t want to underestimate the space you need and end up in a place that feels tight. If you’re going the other way and upsizing, you don’t want to end up sinking extra money into a property that’s larger than you really need. So how do you avoid these scenarios? One of the best ways is to start by considering your current home. Do you use all the rooms in your home regularly? Is there a bedroom that’s rarely occupied? Has the recreation room become simply a storage area? If you’re downsizing, subtracting rooms you scarcely use can give you a better idea of what you need in a new home. Upsizing is a bit more challenging because you have to anticipate what you will need in the future. For example, if you have young children, and your place is feeling cramped, then a home with a recreation room or separate family and living rooms may be a good idea. You may also need a bigger kitchen with a spacious eating area (in addition to a separate dining room.) Think about the extra room you’ll need and how you’ll use that space. When I work with a client, I typically sit down with them and discuss the type of home they want in detail — and, based on needs and circumstance, I make expert recommendations. Bottom line, I help clients find the perfect fit in a new home. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.
Guest Blog: Buying a condo– and inheriting a tenant.
May 25, 2017 By Oscar Miklos
Are you buying a condo, where a tenant currently resides? Residential tenancies are ongoing and often long-term relationships between a landlord and their tenant. So, what happens when a new owner comes in? Upon purchasing a property, the rule of thumb is that you inherit all the liabilities and obligations of the previous owner, unless otherwise specified and agreed to in the purchase and sale agreement. This includes payment of all monthly condo fees along with any special levy or levy installments that become due after the closing date of the sale. And yes, this applies to tenancy agreements. Do not make the mistake of believing that a simple change in ownership automatically voids or otherwise puts an end to an existing tenancy at the property. It does not. If you are buying a condo as an investment, the odds are that you will want to keep the existing tenant to ensure that the property continues to generate cash-flow. Even so, prior to purchasing the property, you should perform due diligence to ensure that you are not buying into a tenancy headache – or nightmare. Having a good tenant is particularly important in strata properties, as legislation states that strata homeowners are vicariously liable for a fine or remedial cost incurred by their tenant.
Tenancy issues to consider upon purchase:
• Is there a written tenancy agreement? If so, does this agreement comply with the requirements of the Residential Tenancy Act (the Act)?
• Is the tenancy for a fixed term or does it renew on a month-to-month basis?
• Did the seller take a security deposit from the tenant? If so, does the amount of the security deposit comply with the Act?
• Was a move-in inspection report completed by the seller and the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy?
• Did the seller increase the tenant’s rent at any point in time during the tenancy? If so, did these rent increases comply with the Act?
• If the property is sublet or the tenancy is assigned, did the seller provide their written consent to this sublet or assignment?
• Is there a history of disputes between the seller and the tenant? Are there any previous decisions by the Residential Tenancy Branch that modify the nature of the landlord’s obligations?
On the other hand, you may be buying a condo with the intention of ending the existing tenancy and repossessing the unit for your personal use, or that of a close family member. In this case, prior to the completion of the sale, you may wish to ask the seller to issue a two month Notice to End Tenancy to the current tenant. Where a tenancy is for a fixed-term, the effective date of this notice may not be earlier than the date specified as the end of the fixed term.Before the seller is able to issue this notice to their tenant, three conditions must be met. First, the seller has to accept, in good faith, your offer to purchase the property. Second, all conditions of the purchase and sale agreement have to be fulfilled or otherwise removed. Finally, you have to ask the seller, in writing, to issue a Notice to End Tenancy on the grounds that you or your close family member intends to occupy the property in good faith.
New down payment rules will go into effect February 15, 2016.
“The Government’s role in housing is to set and maintain a framework that is equitable, stable and sustainable. The actions taken today prudently address emerging vulnerabilities in certain housing markets, while not overburdening other regions,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in a release. “They also rebalance government support for the housing sector to promote long-term stability and balanced economic growth.”
The minimum down payment for new insured mortgages will increase from 5% to 10% for the portion of the house price above $500,000, the finance ministry wrote.
Minimum down payment for properties up to $500,000 will remain at 5%.
The changes are meant to reduce taxpayer exposure while supporting the long-term stability of the housing market, according to the ministry.
“This measure will increase homeowner equity, which plays a key role in maintaining a stable and secure housing market and economy over the long term,” Morneau said. “It also protects all homeowners, including many middle-class Canadians whose greatest investment is in their homes.”
Whether you're buying in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, or anywhere in Metro Vancouver, remember to watch out for these mistakes:
1. Making on offer on a home without being pre-qualitifed. It will make your life easier so take time to speak with a lender or two. Their specific questions in regard to income, debt, etc. will help you determine a price range you are comfortable with.
2. Not having a home inspection. Trying to save money today can end up costing you tomorrow. A qualified home inspector will detect issues that many buyers can overlook.
3. Limiting your search to open houses, ads or the internet. Many homes listed in magazines or on the internet have already been sold. Your very best course of action is to contact a Realtor®. I have up-to-date information that is unavailable to the general public and is the best resource to help you find the home you want.
4. Choosing a real estate agent who is not committed to forming a strong business relationship with you. Making a connection with the right Realtor is crucial. Choose a professional who is dedicated to serving your needs – before, during and after the sale.
5. Thinking there is only one perfect house out there. Buying a home is a process of elimination, not selection. New properties arrive on the market daily, so be open to all possibilities. Ask me for a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This compares similar homes that have recently sold, or are still for sale.
6. Not consider long-term needs. It is important to think ahead. Will the home suit your needs 3 to 5 years from now?
7. Not knowing the total cost involved. Early in the buying process, ask your Realtor or lender for an estimate of closing costs. Legal fees, Property Transfer Tax and GST are just some of the extra costs involved. Remember to carefully examine your Buyer’s Statement of Adjustments.
8. Not following through on “Due Diligence”. Buyers should make a list of any concerns they have relating to issues such as; crime rate, schools, power lines, neighbors, environmental conditions, etc. Ask the important questions before you make an offer on a home. Be diligent so that you can have confidence in your purchase.
Growing marijuana has become a problem in rural and urban neighborhoods across the BC.
When it comes time to purchase a house, there are some tell-tale signs to look for that may indicate the house was used to produce illegal substances. Some signs that a house has been used to grow marijuana include:
- Unusual number of receptacles added in rooms,
- Circular stains on carpets or concrete floor,
- Mould growth on floors, walls, ceilings, etc.
- Recently painted foundation walls and floors,
- Patching in the foundation,
- Signs of nail holes in the ceiling,
- Patching in the ground at the exterior around the main electrical service
- Patching in the floors between levels in the home where ventilation ducting was run.
Buying a foreclosure in BC is somewhat different from buying a regularly owned property and it is certainly different from buying a bank owned property in the United States.
First of all, please understand that in BC the courts will ensure the homeowner is protected and their property is marketed and sold for an amount as close to "Fair Market Value" as possible.
Whereas in the US, the laws protect the banks and properties can sell substantially well below market value, buying a foreclosure in BC could get you a deal and save you some money on the purchase price, but rarely does a property ever sell less than 20% off fair market value.
The Foreclosure Process in most cases works like this:
After a lender has been given the right to sell the property by the BC Supreme Court, the lawyer acting on behalf of the lender hires a realtor to market the property. The property can still be owner occupied and showing may be limited and sometimes difficult due to the nature of the circumstances.
When the foreclosure property is listed on the MLS, the listing agent will showcase that property to as many purchasers as possible in hopes to get an offer that is suitable to the lender.
When a buyer submits a written offer, which includes a Schedule A (which amends the regular Contract of Purchase and Sale), to the listing agent, the listing agent will present that offer to the lender's lawyer and he or she will act of behalf of the lender during the negotiation. During this period the lender and the purchaser will negotiate a price they are both satisfied with.
Upon accepting the offer, the purchaser will have 5 business days (in some cases) to do all their due diligence. After the buyer is satisfied with her due diligence and she has her financing in order, she then prepares a certified deposit cheque or bank draft and remove all subjects in regards to the lender. This is now a subject free offer as far as the buyer and the lender are concerned. However, there is one last subject which is "Subject to Court Approval".
The lender's lawyer will now set a court date and this could take on average 2 to 4 weeks time. A few days before court, the listing realtor will disclose the price which the offer was accepted for. That will give any other perspective purchasers the ability to decide if they want to come to court and outbid the original offer or not.
Unlike a regular property for sale, the first offer that comes in and is accepted by the lender is not necessarily the person who ultimately ends up owning the property at the end.
At Court the listing agent will collect all, if any, competing offers which must be subject free, contained in a sealed envelope, include a schedule A addendum, and be accompanied with a certified deposit cheque or bank draft.
When the judge has this property address file in front of her, the judge may give the owner one last time to redeem the owner's mortgage and any other outstanding debts. If there is no attempt to pay off all the debts she will proceed with the offers to purchase the property.
Should there be mulitple offers, whoever has the highest subject free bid in the sealed envelope will most likely be awarded the property. Depending if the property is vacant or owner occupied, the completion and possession could be after the court date will be somewhere between 2 to 8 weeks.
It is strongly recommended that the purchasers are in court to either up their bid or be present to initial any changes that the judge may request. There are no second chances for anyone after the judge has made her decision and there is no chance to back out of the contract.
The property is now sold and all documentation is forwarded to the parties involved for conveyance.
A buyers' market should be just that – A BUYER'S market. It's not a fence-sitting, waiting, loitering, delaying, dawdling, postponing, vacillating, hesitating, wavering, faltering, pausing, foot-shuffling market. IT'S A BUYERS'MARKET. By its very name it means buyers should be doing one thing and one thing only – BUYING.
The media becomes the excited purveyor of negative news and uninformed advice, and buyers buy it all. Actually, it feels like it is the only thing they are buying. Their reluctance is ironic since not so long ago buyers were incredibly excited about buying – and it was a sellers' market. Prices were escalating and it was perhaps one of the most difficult times to buy value and yet people were buying like there was no tomorrow. Buyers were afraid of losing out by not buying, even though the advantage was all to the seller.
Now a shift has occurred. Fear is still in the drivers' seat but the tables are turned – the fear of paying too much seems to stop most in their tracks and immobilizes them. When they should have been afraid of paying too much they weren't, and now that they shouldn't be afraid of paying too much, they are. It's one of the great paradoxical moments of any market and the herd instinct at its most pure.
There are two types of buyers – those who believe they can time the market and those who are always in the market and believe timing will find them. History supports the latter – it says that if you are always actively paying attention, although you may never sell at the peak or buy at the bottom, you can buy right and always do well over time. Logic says that you can't predictably time the market to be able to buy at the absolute bottom and sell at the absolute top.
Buyers cannot perfectly time a market – NO ONE CAN – The smartest people know this. They play in the safe zone. The safe zone is where smart people plan to buy and sell. Anyone who buys at the top of a market is just unlucky and anyone who buys at the bottom of a market is just lucky. People who buy in a buyer's market are the smart ones. They are not looking for a killing because they know that's a matter of luck, not planning. They are looking for a sound decision with a predictable result and, therefore, ask the question: "Has the market dropped enough now to make a sensible purchase?"More often than not, when they are asking this question, they are already in the safe zone and the answer is YES.
1. A correct list price is probably the most important thing a
homeowner and their Realtor can agree on to produce a
2. Picking a Realtor because he or she suggests the highest listing price is probably the worst thing you can do.
3. Pick a Realtor because that person knows how to price
a property correctly (and can justify it to you using market
4. Since no two houses are ever identical in terms of location,
decoration, and timing (when offered for sale), then pricing
becomes an important aspect, and indeed, almost an art!
5. A house offered for sale generates the most interest in the
first few days it is listed. Realtors size it up. If there is
good value, that is, the house is worth the asking price,
then Realtors will keep track of it -- even if there are
loads of listings available.
6. Listing a house too high to start with and then reducing
the price systematically every 30 days through list price
reductions just doesn’t get the same results.
7. Realtors don’t spend as much time analyzing reductions
as they do in looking at new listings.
8. The longer a house is on the market, the more people think
there is something fundamentally wrong with it -- even if
there isn’t. It’s human nature. In many instances, a seller
receives less money for his house than if he and/or she
listed it properly from day one.
9. Avoiding the extra anxiety that comes from taking months to sell a house that should only have taken a few weeks to sell because too high a list price was chosen.