You’ve been saving for awhile, weighing your options, looking around casually. Now you’ve finally decided to do it—you’re ready to buy a house. The process of buying a new home can be incredibly exciting, yet stressful, all at once. Where do you start?
It is essential you do your homework before you begin. Use the following list as a guide to help you avoid the most common mistakes.


1.  Searching for houses without getting pre-approved by a lender: Do not mistake pre-approval by a lender with pre-qualification. Pre-qualification, the first step toward being pre-approved, will point you in the right direction, giving you an idea of the price range of houses you can comfortably afford. Pre- approval, however, means you become a cash buyer, making negotiations with the seller much easier.

2.  Allowing “first impressions” to overly influence your decision: The first impression of a home has been cited as the single most influential factor guiding many purchasers’ choice to buy. Make a conscious decision beforehand to examine a home as objectively as you can. Don’t let the current owners’ style or lifestyle sway your judgment. Beneath the bad décor or messy rooms, these homes may actually suit your needs and offer you a structurally sound base with which to work. Likewise, don’t jump at a home simply because the walls are painted your favourite colour!


3.  Failing to have the home inspected before you buy: Buying a home is a major financial decision that is often made after having spent very little time on the property itself. A home inspection performed by a licensed company will help you enter the negotiation process with eyes wide open, offering you added reassurance that the choice you’re making is a sound one, or alerting you to underlying problems that could cost you significant money in both the short and long-run. Your Realtor can suggest reputable home inspection companies for you to consider and will ensure the appropriate clause is entered into your contract.

4.  Not knowing and understanding your rights and obligations as listed in the Offer to Purchase: Make it a priority to know your rights and obligations inside and out. A lack of understanding about your obligations may, at the very least, cause friction
between yourself and the people with whom you are about to enter the contract. Wrong assumptions, poorly written/ incomprehensible/ missing clauses, or a lack of awareness of how the clauses apply to the purchase, could also contribute to increased costs. These problems may even lead to a void contract. So, take the time to go through the contract, making use of the resources and knowledge offered by your Realtor and lawyer. With their assistance, ensure you thoroughly understand every component of the contract, and are able to fulfill your contractual obligations.

5.  Making an offer based on the asking price, not the market value:
 
Ask your Realtor for a current Comparative Market Analysis. This will provide you with the information necessary to gauge the market value of a home, and will help you avoid over-paying. What have other similar homes sold for in the area and how long were they on the market? What is the difference between their asking and selling prices? Is the home you’re looking at under-priced, over- priced, or fair value? The seller receives a Comparative Market Analysis before deciding upon an asking price, so make sure you have all the same information at your fingertips.



6.  Failing to familiarize yourself with the neighbourhood before buying:

 

Check out the neighbourhood you’re considering, and ask around.  What amenities does the area have to offer? Are there schools, churches, parks, or grocery stores within reach? Consider visiting schools in the area if you have children. How will you be affected by a new commute to work? Are there infrastructure projects in development? All of these factors will influence the way you experience your new home, so ensure you’re well-acquainted with the surrounding area before purchasing.



7.  Not looking for home insurance until you are about to move:


If you wait until the last minute, you’ll be rushed to find an insurance policy that’s the ideal fit for you. Make sure you give yourself enough time to shop around in order to get the best deal.



8.  Not recognizing different styles and strategies of negotiation:

 

Many buyers think that the way to negotiate their way to a fair price is by offering low. However, in reality this strategy may actually result in the seller becoming more inflexible, polarizing negotiations. Employ the knowledge and skills of an experienced Realtor.  They will know what strategies of negotiation will prove most effective for your particular situation.


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  You never get a second chance at a first impression.” We’ve all heard this expression before. And now, while you are preparing your house to sell, it should not be far from your mind.


While logical factors such as price and location narrow the pool of houses a potential buyer will look at, the ultimate decision to buy a particular house is fuelled by a mixture of logic and emotion. And emotion often wins out. The same might be said for the process of selling a home. For this reason, Real Estate Agents, when they talk to you about buying real estate, will refer to your purchase as a “home.” When discussing the sale of your current home, however, an agent will refer to it as the “house.” This is a conscious choice. The agent knows that buying a house is often an emotional decision, while, when selling a house, emotion should be separated from the process. 
Buyers are searching for a “home”—a place in which they will feel comfortable, secure, and happy, a place in which they can imagine settling down and raising their family. As a seller, your goal is to cultivate these feelings through the property you’re selling. Look at your house as a marketable commodity. A buyer’s emotional response is triggered early, so you want to ensure you have done everything you can to encourage a positive response to your house from the outset. Within minutes—even seconds—of pulling into your driveway, buyers have formed an impression that they will carry with them through the rest of the showing, and beyond. Keep in mind, this impression will not only influence whether or not they make an offer, but also what they consider to be the value of the property. 
If you’ve ever visited model homes, you’re familiar with effective presentation styles. Have you ever walked into one of these homes and immediately begun taking stock, planning how to get your home to look that good? Well, now is the time to take some of these steps. Of course, there are ways to achieve the same effect in your own home without incurring model home costs. 
When homes create this immediate type of emotional appeal, they tend to sell quickly—and for more money. Use the following step-by-step guide to get your house into selling shape before you put the property on the market, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful sale!


1.  Depersonalize

This should be one of your first steps when you begin preparing your house to sell.  Over the years, a home inevitably becomes tattooed with the owners’ lives, covered with touches that have made it that special place for you.  At this point, however, you want buyers to recognize it as a property they could make into their unique place.  When a homebuyer walks into a room and sees these personalizing touches—such as photos on the walls or trophy collections—their ability to picture their own lives in this room is jarred, impairing a positive emotional response.  So, your first step will be to remove all the family photos, the trophies, collectible items, and souvenirs.  Pack them all together, so you’ll have everything you need at your disposal when it comes time to personalize your new home. For the time being, rent a storage space and keep these items there.  Do not simply transfer these items to another place in your house.  Do not hoard them away in a closet, basement, attic, or garage, as the next step in preparing your home is to minimize clutter—and these areas of your house will all be targeted.


2.  Remove all Clutter

The next step on the list is to purge your house of the excess items that have accumulated over the years.  This is the hardest part for many people, as they have an emotional investment in many of these things.  When you have lived in a house for several years, a build-up of personal effects occurs that is often so gradual that you don’t notice the space is becoming cluttered.  If you need to, bring in an objective friend to help point out areas that could stand to be cleared. Try to stand back yourself and see your house as a buyer might.  Survey shelves, countertops, drawers, closets, the basement—all places where clutter often accumulates—to determine what needs to go.  Use a system to help you decide:  get rid of all items, for example, you haven’t used in the past five years, and pack up everything that you haven’t used in the past year.  Although getting rid of some things might be hard, try to do it without conscience or remorse. You’ll be forced to go through this process anyway when you move, and with each box you eliminate, your storage space—and the room in general—begins to look larger.  We’ve broken down the process into specific areas of your house to help you concentrate your efforts:


Kitchen:

The kitchen is an ideal place to begin, as it’s easy to spot and eliminate the type of clutter that tends to accumulate here. Homebuyers will open your drawers and cabinets as they’ll want to check if there will be enough room for their own belongings. If the drawers appear cluttered and crowded, this will give them the impression there is not enough space. 

• First of all, remove everything from the counters, even the toaster (the toaster can be stored in a cabinet, and brought out when needed).
• Clean out all the cabinets and drawers. Put aside all of the dishes, pots and pans that you rarely use, then box them and put them in the storage unit you have rented (again, not in the basement or a closet).
• If you, like many people, have a “junk drawer,” clear this out.
• Get rid of the food items in the pantry that you don’t use. Begin to use up existing food—let what you have on your shelves dictate your menus from now on.
• Remove all extra cleaning supplies from the shelves beneath the sink. Make sure this area is as empty as possible. You should thoroughly clean this spot as well, and check for any water stains that might indicate leaking pipes.  Buyers will look in most cabinets, and will notice any telltale signs of damage. 


Closets:

• Go through all clothes and shoes. If you don’t wear something anymore, get rid of it. We all have those clothes, too, that we wear only once in awhile, but can’t bear to give away. Box these items and keep them in the storage unit for a few months.
• Go through all other personal items in the closet. Be ruthless. Weed out everything you don’t absolutely need.
• Remove any unsightly boxes from the back of the closet. Put them in storage if need be. Get everything off the floor. Closets should look as though they have enough room to hold additional items.


Furniture:

• You may want to tour a few model homes in order to gauge the type of furniture chosen by design teams to create a spacious, yet comfortable atmosphere. Note how that furniture is arranged to cultivate a certain feeling.
• After having armed yourself with some ideas, stand back and look at each of your rooms. What will you need to remove? Remember, most homes contain too much furniture for showings. These are items that you’ve grown comfortable with and that have become incorporated into your everyday routine. However, each room should offer a sense of spaciousness, so some furniture will likely need to be placed in storage.


Storage Areas:

• Basements, garages, attics, and sheds: these are the “junkyard” areas of any given home. It is possible to arrange simple clutter into a certain order, but junk is sent packing to these often-hidden rooms. First, determine which of these boxes and items you actually need. Can some of it be sent to the dump once and for all?
• Hold a Garage Sale or if your comfortable with Social Media, sell some through Faceook Marketplace. You’ve heard the saying, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” Let these items go to a better home.
• Transfer some items to the rental storage unit. You’ll want to clear the storage areas in your house as much as possible, in order for them to appear spacious to potential home-buyers. Buyers want the reassurance that their own excess belongings will find places for storage in their new home.



If you have any further questions, feel free to give us a call!

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Whether seeking solace, activity, schools, churches, or green space, every homebuyer looks for a different combination of attributes in a new community.  Choosing a neighbourhood that suits your needs and wants is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the home-buying process; your choice of environment will affect the way you experience your new home.

This is a very personal decision, influenced by countless unique factors colouring your own lives, but you should always keep the following in mind: 


1. If you’re considering buying a home in a community that is unfamiliar to you, get to know its lay-out, offerings, and ambiance. Take some time to walk or drive through the neighbourhood, both during the day and at night, familiarizing yourself with the sights, sounds, and smells.


2. What amenities does the neighbourhood have to offer? Is public transportation readily accessible? Are there schools, churches, parks, or grocery stores within reach? Consider visiting schools in the area if you have children.


3. What is the nature of the job market in the area? Keep in mind that if area employers are producing more jobs, you can expect property values to increase, especially if the jobs offered fall within a higher salary bracket.


4. Speak with the neighbours. Ask questions. They can offer you a wealth of information, from an inside perspective.


5. How will you be affected by a new commute to work? Drive the route between the new neighbourhood and your office during the appropriate times to gauge the volume of traffic you could expect to encounter, and the amount of time you’d need to put aside for daily travel.


6. Contact local land-use and zoning officials to determine existing development plans or potential for development in the area. A strong agenda for neighbourhood planning and local zoning will increase the value and draw of a neighbourhood. Keep in mind that any large, tree-covered area may be a target for future development in popular communities.


7. Determine whether financial resources have been put in place to support infrastructure projects in the area. These construction projects might include building, replacing, or improving anything from schools to roads, and are usually part of a city or town’s long-term plan. While disruptive, construction could also be a benefit to your experience of a community, influencing the long-term value of the area.


Hope this helps in the process if you finding your new home. Happy house hunting! 

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It’s official:  you’ve signed the papers, dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s—you own a new home!  You’ve almost reached the end of your journey.  However, now, faced with the daunting task of moving, it may seem as though the journey has just begun.  Moving can be a time-consuming and stressful experience if you let yourself be overwhelmed by the job.  Remember, though, having a successful move means taking care of the details, one by one.  If you break the process down into steps and arrange your time accordingly, you can make it manageable.  Use the following checklist to ensure you’re covering all the bases, and you will be well on your way to a successful move!


Household

• Arrange to have your mail forwarded to your new address.
• Forward or cease all deliveries to your home, and forward or cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
• Disconnect or take care of utility, cable and phone services and accounts.
• Arrange for utilities to be connected at your new house.
• Cancel pre-authorized bill payments.
• Begin going through closets and discarding any unnecessary items.


Packing

• Plan your packing. Start by purchasing or acquiring suitable containers. Most moving companies have specialized containers you can buy. Also, speak with others who have recently moved—they may be looking to get rid of boxes. You’ll need the following: small boxes for heavy items (books, tools, etc.); large boxes for bulky items (bedding, stuffed toys, etc.); medium boxes for bulky but less heavy items (towels, small appliances, etc.).
• Begin to collect other packing materials. Decide which items you’ll need from the following checklist:
         - White paper
         - Tissue paper
         - Paper towels
         - Newspapers
         - Non-printed paper
         - Packing tape or twine to seal boxes and containers
         - Scissors
         - Labels and stickers (available from your moving company)
         - Felt marker to label boxes
         - Notebook and pen for listing contents
• Set goals and deadlines for yourself. Aim, for example, to pack one room per week.
• Attach a list of contents to each box. Separate and label boxes to be placed in storage.
• Consider holding a garage sale to rid yourself of excess belongings.

• Begin to use up the food in your pantry and freezer. Let the food you already have dictate your menus.
• Have rugs cleaned that are to be moved, then roll and wrap them.
• Make special arrangements for the moving of plants or pets.
• Collect all personal items from local services (dry cleaning, storage, photos).
• Service all appliances you are taking with you. Note that all gas appliances must be emptied, as it is illegal for movers to carry flammable substances.
• Take inventory of all the boxes, and contents of the boxes, you have packed.
• Have your car serviced and tuned up.


Community:

• Determine (if needed) how to transfer your children to a new school.
• Return items you’ve borrowed to friends, and collect any you’ve lent.
• Mail or e-mail change of address notices to family members, friends, and office contacts.

 

Records:

• If needed, transfer medical and dental records, and fill prescriptions.

• Contact Canada Post to redirect your mail temporary.
• Change the address on your driver’s license.
• Change the billing address for credit cards.
• Change the address for banking statements.

• Leave a record of security codes for new tenants.


Insurance & Legal Matters:

• Visit your lawyer and ensure all documents are signed.
• Notify your insurance company well in advance of the move and ask them to review your policy.
• Transfer insurance to your new home, or acquire new insurance.
• Review your moving company’s insurance policy. If it doesn’t cover as much as you’d like it to, obtain your own.
• If you are currently renting a house or apartment, give written notice to the landlord.
• Have all keys to your old home delivered to your lawyer or realtor.



As stressful as the moving process can be, try to make it a positive one! 

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   Selling your home is a complex  process that can be stressful and time-  consuming. An experienced Realtor has  the knowledge, skills, and connections to help you through the process every step of the way.

 

Consider the following benefits of working with a Realtor to sell your home:


Professional Experience:
With knowledge and training in marketing strategy, negotiation tactics, and the workings of the current real estate market, a Realtor will be able to guide you through the steps of the home-selling process and be able to explain exactly what to expect. They will make you aware of your rights and responsibilities, work with you to strategize the best moves according to your own goals, discuss financing options, and point you in the direction of other specialized professionals who will aid you in different stages of the process.


Best Price:
Realtors have their fingers on the pulse of the current real estate market, and will know what comparable properties in your area are selling for. They have the resources and knowledge to establish the best asking price and to attract the highest selling price. With access to their company’s professional marketing resources and connections, they will ensure potential buyers are immediately made aware of your home and market the property to sell as quickly as possible and for the most money.


“Showcasing” Experience:
Your Realtor will know the importance of a property’s first impression. S/he will have experienced first-hand, for example, the impact a property’s “drive-up appeal” has on the rest of a potential Buyer’s experience of your home. Your Realtor will be able to offer you tips and information on how to get your home in the best selling shape possible, in order to sell your property quickly and for top dollar.


Access to Qualified Buyers:
Realtors save time and effort by dealing only with qualified buyers. They have access to a pool of pre-screened and pre-qualified buyers who are serious about buying a home in your neighbourhood. Realtors work hard to develop this base of qualified buyers which will become an invaluable resource for you.


Negotiation Skills:
Realtors serve many functions, but perhaps the most important is their role as primary negotiator on your behalf. Your Realtor realizes your goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible, and for the most money possible, and will work closely with you during the negotiation process to facilitate this goal. Realtors bring to the process the knowledge and skills to draw up legally binding contracts, to assist in negotiating offers and counter-offers, and to offer counsel and perspective as you work toward your selling goals. 

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When preparing your property to show, many people only think of improving the interior, but you want to make sure you do not dismiss the other very important feature to your home: the exterior.

You only have one chance to make a first impression.  Within seconds of pulling up, potential buyers will make their opinion about your home. So, try to view it from their perspective and start thinking like a buyer. Go stand on the opposite curb and observe your property.   Compare it to surrounding properties.

Most people initially start their search by online listing sites.  If your home initially appeals to them, then homebuyers will take the next step by doing either doing a drive-by or setting up a showing with their realtor to view the home themselves.

Below are 6 easy & cost effective updates to boost your home’s “curb appeal” to generate more buyers!

 

     1.  A Fresh Coat of Paint

This can do wonders to increase a home’s perceived value and will immediately make your home more inviting.  Stay away from unusual or loud colours. The new color should fit in with surrounding houses, and complement the style and structure of your house. Dependent on the siding of your home, you may not be able to paint it directly. However, you are still able to give a fresh coat to your garage doors, front door, porch, shutters and trim.  The front door and surrounding area should look particularly fresh and welcoming, as this will be the buyer’s first close-up impression as they enter the home. If you paint nothing else at least give your door a new coat.

 

      2. Numbers

Replace your old & dingy house numbers, doorknob and mailbox. Ensure the lock works smoothly and the key fits properly. Keep the porch swept and buy a new doormat. As the Realtor is fumbling for the keys, these little updates are getting noticed by the homebuyers.

 

      3. LIGHTS!

A popular showing tip is to turn on all the lights in the home to give it a warm and “livability” feel.  This also applies to your home’s exterior, helping to highlight the entrance to your home, making it a safe & welcoming place to enter!

 

      4. Landscaping

How does your landscaping measure up to the rest of the neighbourhood? A well-tended garden alludes to a well-maintained home. Something potential buyers would considered a plus. You may want to think about buying a couple bushes and planting them around the property. Do not buy trees. Large, mature ones are too expensive and immature trees don’t tend to significantly improve the immediate appearance of your home.

If your problem is too much greenery, get out your pruning shears or borrow the neighbours. The purpose of landscaping is to complement the home, not hide it. Overgrown shrubs should be sheared to a height at the bottom of the windows, remove any ivy clinging to the house, and tree limbs should be high enough to walk under. Your lawn should be freshly cut or watered and minimal brown or bald spots. Think about re-soding those areas if needed and rake up any leaves or grass cuttings.

Planting a few seasonal flowers is an easy way to add color and vibrancy to your yard, enhancing that first impression of your home. If you don’t have an area in which to plant flowers, considering purchasing a few flower pots for your porch with flowers or blooming plants.

 

       5. Check the roof!

Old or leaking roofs should be replaced. If there are leaks, you’ll have to disclose this detail to the homebuyer anyway, and they will want it replaced. It may not be a cheap fix but is well worth the price, as curled or missing shingles usually sends homebuyers in the opposite direction.

 

        6.  Powerwash

If your driveway or carport has old oil stains or algae buildup, getting it power washed until it shines also send s a good message as a well maintained home.

 

 

It can be tough to criticize your home if you’ve lived in it a long time. This is where getting the opinion of your REALTOR can be a good idea, especially if you looking to list your home in the near future. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References: RE/MAX Canada

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With Winter almost in full swing, now is the time to start thinking about preparing your home for the cold weather and snow.  It isn’t too late to ensure your home is ready.

Here are some tips to make sure your home is energy-efficient and safe this season.

 

Turn off Exterior Faucets - Watering Season is over, and with freezing temperatures means freezing pipes. To avoid cracked hoses and burst faucets over the winter, turn off the water valves, remove hoses & drain all remaining water from the outdoor taps/faucets.

Clean your Gutters – With the amount of rain dispersed in the Greater Vancouver area it’s a good idea to get your gutters cleaned out every year during the fall season. If you don’t, clogging can lead to damage to the exterior of your home, leaks in your roof, and even into your basement.

Check your Chimney – Got a wood-burning fireplace?  Nothing says cozy like grabbing a blanket, hot cocoa and a good book while sitting on your couch in front of a warm, crackling fire. So make sure you get your chimney serviced annually to decrease the risk of fire from buildup or blockages.

Check your roof - Assess your roof for any cracks or loose shingles before the heavy rain and snow, and repair immediately to prevent leaks or other damage. Metal flashing around vents, chimneys and skylights should also be checked for cracking or rust.

Furnace & Thermostat – Give your heating system a full test, and if needed, consult a professional for maintenance. Having your furnace or boiler checked before it requires daily use is the best way to catch any problems before the temperature starts to get below zero. Consider turning your thermostat down during the day when you’re not home, or at night when your sleeping. You save money and it gives your heating system a rest.

Block Drafts – As the temperature outside cools, you’ll be able to catch any drafts coming from your windows and doors. Using weather stripping, window film or caulking will help control heat loss.  Reducing drafts can save you up to 30% in energy costs per year. Consider adding additional window treatments (curtains & blinds) in the living room and bedrooms to keep the warm air in.

Ceiling fans – If your home is fitted with a ceiling fan, check the settings for a reverse (or clockwise) option.  Running fans in the opposite direction creates an updraft, pushing down heated air which can also help reduce your energy bill. 

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Our New Facebook Page is Live!

 

Sandra and Josh have officially entered the world of social media!

We have recently developed a Facebook page to better connect and interact with our community and clients.   The town’s we live in are important to us, so we take delight in showcasing those neighbourhoods and events going on around us.

We ask that you take a moment to check us out online, www.facebook.com/sandrawyant.joshcraig and click to "Follow" our page.

From the Fraser Valley to Vancouver, check in with us to see what’s happening in our local community. Especially with Christmas just around the corner, we’ll be posting and sharing markets, events, and activities to participate in with your friends and family!

 

All the best!

 

Sandra and Josh

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