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Renting Versus Buying a Home
Posted on Thu, 12 Nov 2015, 02:35:00 PM  in Home buying tips,  Marketing strategies, etc.
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One of the most common dilemmas in adulthood is whether to rent or buy a home. You may have lived with your parents or friends for several years, but it's time to have your own place. Whether you're single or starting a family, there are several factors to weigh when you decide between rental properties and investing in a home. Each person has their own unique situation that must be evaluated, so that an educated decision can be made.

Brand New to the Area?

If you've just moved to an area, the best housing choice at this point is a rental. You probably don't have any information about which neighbourhoods you prefer or dislike, for example. Find a rental with a short-term lease, so that you have a chance to learn more about the city. You might have a brand new job in the area so start looking for rentals and possible homes around that region. If you purchase a home in a relatively unknown area, you might be disappointed and without any means to change your predicament.

Securing an Investmentrent

When you've lived in an area for a few years, you know where you want to be for comfort and close proximity to work. Ideally, you don't want to rent a home for an extended time period. You aren't making an investment for yourself. In fact, you're paying off your landlord's investment. Purchasing a home means you're investing in an asset that normally has a strong return. In most cases, you'll have ample equity when you hold onto a property for several years. 

Monthly Payment Considerations

Renting a property makes you vulnerable to monthly payment increases. In fact, you could have a different rent amount every year with no change to the property itself. Purchasing a home allows you to take control of your monthly payments. You agree to a certain mortgage payment, and that amount continues for several decades until it's paid off. It's even possible to refinance that mortgage to an even lower monthly payment. You're still investing in your future as each payment pays down the principal.

Renovation Flexibility

When you rent a home, you cannot alter the property in any way. Changing the paint color or flooring type must be the decision of the owner exclusively. Investing in your own property allows you to renovate it with any style you prefer. Remove walls, add new carpeting or even create another floor to the structure. Your imagination and budget are the only limiting factors. Be aware, however, that a regional homeowner's association might limit exterior renovations. Research an area thoroughly before investing in any property.

When You Move Frequently

Some employers require their workers to travel around very often. It's possible for an employee to travel all week and only arrive at home for the weekend. If this is your situation, a rental property is probably the best choice for you. There's limited maintenance necessary on the home because the landlord cares for the exterior elements and basic structure. If you need to suddenly move because of work responsibilities, you can easily transfer to another city. Selling a home, in contrast, would be too difficult on short notice.

When you rent a home or apartment, you'll still need a substantial deposit ready for the property administrators. Ideally, put aside a certain percentage of your paycheck every month before renting or buying a home. Avoid using credit cards excessively too. Your financial situation should be as stable as possible to secure any housing. In the end, you'll have a beautiful home that fits your needs and budget.



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Staging Your Home the DIY Way
Posted on Mon, 02 Nov 2015, 09:35:00 AM  in Home selling tips

Many things go into getting a home ready to sell. Gathering documents, researching market trends, deciding on a price and contacting a realtor are all necessary steps, but before your home is on the market, there’s one more thing you need to take care of: staging.

While location and price will draw buyers in, once they’re inside your home they’ll use what they see to make their decision. Peeling wallpaper and empty rooms aren’t going to entice them, and neither are dusty bookshelves or grimy kitchen counters. Cleaning up is just one part of the process.

Staging is so important that there are professionals dedicated to making homes look their best. Their services can cost $100 to $150 an hour. Fortunately, there’s good news. You can do much of the work of staging your home yourself. While working through this list, keep in mind the golden rule of staging:

The goal is to make prospective buyers view your home as their potential home.

De-Personalize and De-Clutter

One of the biggest impediments prospective buyers face when trying to envision themselves living in your old home are personal items they can see on their stagingwalk-through. Putting them away can enhance their visualization and increase the odds that they put in a bid.

Personal items include photos, religious items and other mementos. Toys are potentially off-putting to buyers, and any items normally left on a countertop should also be put away.

These items can be packed away in boxes and stored in a closet, garage or storage unit. If you do choose to store them in the home, make sure the area is neat. If there’s any question about whether an item should be packed away, ask yourself if it’s something you would see in a builder's home model. If it’s not, it’s probably a good idea to move it out of sight.

Rearrange Rooms

Over time, rooms in your home have probably morphed from bedroom to office to storage area. Buyers, however, want to form a clear idea of how they’d set these rooms up for themselves. Every room should have one distinct, obvious purpose. If you have boxes stored in the spare bedroom, it may be time to move them out. If there’s a desk in the bedroom, consider moving it to another, perhaps unused area of the house.

Model homes can offer inspiration if you can’t figure out the best way to rearrange things.

Paint in Neutral Colors

Fresh paint can drastically increase the appeal of a home. Clean, bright walls make a space feel open and airy, and they can also often make a home feel larger.

Buyers may be put off by bold or unusual colors, making neutral tones the best choice. Walls, doors and trim should all receive a fresh coat of paint. While this may be expensive, the cost will often be recouped when your home sells.


Staging doesn’t take place entirely inside. Pay attention to the outside as well. Curb appeal is a huge factor in buying decisions. Remove clutter from the yard and sidewalks and mow the lawn. Power washing may be effective at removing dirt and stains from your driveway, sidewalks or home exterior, and fresh mulch in flower beds also makes the exterior of your home look neat, tidy, and well-tended.

Many factors play into a buyer’s decision to purchase your home, and most of them may be out of your control. Helping them visualize their new life in your old space will help them feel comfortable, however. It may just be the extra push they need.


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What Buyers Are Looking For On First Impressions
Posted on Thu, 22 Oct 2015, 09:15:00 AM  in Home selling tips

After multiple appointments with an agent and the time you spent getting your home for sale, the last thing you want to experience is an open house that ends with no offers on the table. You may even find that your house sits on the market for three to six months without buyers expressing any interest in your home. It only takes a few seconds for buyers to get an initial feel for your house, and if they don't like it in those first seconds, nothing you say or do will change their minds. The first impression is key, and you can learn how to help your house make a great first impression.

Update Your Bathroom

While you grew to love or at least appreciate your bathroom, the buyers walking through during an open house may not feel the same way. Buyers want bathrooms that are updated and have a more modern feel. Even if you can't afford to replace the tub and install new tiles on the walls and floors, you can look for minor ways to update the bathroom. Replace the hardware on the cabinets, change out the bathroom mirror, change your faucets and cover cold and old floors with bright rugs.

Add Garage Storage

One of the main features that buyers looked for in 2015 was garage storage. You may not think about your garage when staging your home for an open house, openhousebut buyers will definitely want to check out that space. They want to know that they can fit one or more cars in your garage and still have some storage space. Add overhead racks that hang from the ceiling, pegboards and hooks along the walls and even drawers and shelves for storing tools and miscellaneous supplies. 

Kitchen Upgrades

An upgraded kitchen can add thousands to your home's sale price, but even if you don't have thousands to spend, you can make it look like you recently upgraded the room. Give your old cabinets a fresh coat of stain, and replace the old knobs and pulls with new hardware. A coat of light colored paint applied to the walls can make a smaller kitchen look larger and more open. New paint will also hide any stains from cooking accidents and seal in the lingering odors of former meals too. You can even replace your faucet or swap out your sink for a ceramic or stainless steel design.

Change Your Appliances

Ask any 10 buyers what they want in a home, and you may get 10 different responses. The one thing that buyers are clear on is that they want homes with modern appliances. Replacing a furnace, air conditioning system, refrigerator or stove can add thousands to the amount they spend when moving into your former home. With scratch and dent stores, you can get nearly new appliances for a fraction of the retail cost. Spending a few thousand on new appliances may get you $10,000 or more out of your home.

Make the Outside More Appealing

Buyers get an instant first impression of your home the moment they climb out of their cars. The better your home looks outside, the more buyers will want to see the inside. Take the time to rake the leaves, weed your plants and garden and mow your lawn. You'll also want to take care of any broken pavers or cracks in a concrete walkway before your open house. Other simple ways you can improve the look of your home include painting the front door and repairing broken porch rails. Improving the way your home looks on the inside and outside will give buyers a great first impression of the house.


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2016 Real Estate Trends
Posted on Tue, 13 Oct 2015, 10:10:00 AM  in Home buying tips

PricewaterhouseCoopers in conjunction with the Urban Land Institute recently released their report on 2016 trends in real estate. This report uses surveys and interviews to predict trends in the real estate market of the United States for the upcoming year. Investors, brokers, real estate agents, consultants, developers, property companies, and many others in the industry should take note of these trends, as several interesting trends are predicted in 2016. Here are a few of them to note, in no particular order. 

Suburbia is not dead
Most real estate professionals do not believe that suburban living is a thing of the past. It has been long feared that millennials would leave behind suburban areas for trendier areas. However, it is predicted that people in this generation will begin to marry and build families, pumping fresh air back into many suburban areas across the nation. In fact, in 40 of the country’s top metropolitan cities, more than 80 percent of jobs are not within the city-center core. This gives more optimism to realtors work in suburban areas.

Rethinking housing options
Both baby boomers and millennials have shown increased interest in homes that are smaller and more affordable. However, the generations in between have driven real estate professionals and builders to relying on the large profits within the luxury home market. This means that there is at least a partially untapped affordable housing spectrum. The real estate market may see new creative trends in giving baby boomers more of what they want in a dwelling, such as microhousing and cohousing. 

Office evolution
Just as the home real estate market is changing, so is office and business real estate. Companies are expecting continued growth and increased employment realestatenumbers over the next couple of years. Companies are now charged with redesigning their traditional office spaces to attract and keep talent within their own pool. They also need to adapt to changes within the workplace, such as coworking spaces. Many employers are also considering how they want employees to interact with each other, such as mingling more, and designing their spaces around those goals.

Backyard eats
Many cities residents are finding that their budgets and desires for fresh food are clashing. This has caused a rise in the use of urban lands for producing food. In fact, the report mentions an operation in New York City that produces over 300 tons of vegetables in three different hydroponic operations. 
As suburbs may be re-invented in the next decade, creative uses for inner city land may also be. Professionals in the real estate industry should be prepared for the use of city space for fresh food production. 

Bringing back the humans
It is also expected that the next several years will see the return of human thinking as opposed to technological advances within real estate offices. While big data and the application of technology has brought a lot into the real estate sector, nothing takes the place of a human who can extract data, analyze it, and make good decisions with it. The trouble started when people lacked the wise judgement to see the coming consequences and the will power to work for something more than short term profits. 

Paying attention to trends in real estate helps those in the profession to take previous information and combine it with new information in order to make good decisions individually, and as a whole. To be successful in this industry, one must be open to change and be willing to meet the needs of the customer and of the real estate industry itself. It is only those real estate agents that are able to be successful in this ever-changing business. 


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Real Estate Blogs For The Consumer
Thursday, 01 October 2015, 03:37:27 PM
Real estate agents reference local area information to determine the impact of national trends on sales of new and existing homes. The available low-interest rates for mortgage financing is a powerful force that drives the national real estate markets for single family units, condominiums, and vacation homes. Job markets and income growth also drive home sales. The major cities lead the way in average prices for home sales, and the markets for homes sales are strong. Many buyers prefer the smaller cities and communities that gain the best ratings for comfort, livability, and lifestyle preferences.

Best Places to Live

When buyers indicate preferences for the best places to live, they are often not the locations with the booming markets. They are frequently areas near the major cities, hot housing markets, and strong job markets. The difference is important for some buyers. Sellers can use this information to their advantage. When offering properties for sale, they can find ways to mention influential community assets using local area information. Lifestyle, the pace of life, traffic conditions are typical factors that affect the quality of life. The best places to live have qualities that appeal to buyers who place a high priority on comfort and convenience. Many buyers prefer to be near a major entertainment and business center rather than in it. This idea opens a wide range of choices. For example, in the Toronto area, one can live near the waterfront, or among rural villages and commute to the finance district of the nation's largest city within a short drive. These buyers get the advantage of a world-class city with the pace of life of a small lakeside town.

Most Affordable Places to Livecity

Affordable places offer benefits to sellers and buyers. Sellers can emphasize the low costs of living in the area as an incentive to the potential buyers. These can include low property assessments, taxes, fees, and utility costs. They can also reflect services such as money-saving public transportation and cities that promote biking and walking areas. A hot job market, when combined with a low average cost of housing, is an affordable combination. Low housing prices and living costs can expand the range of housing options to include rental, condominiums, as well as single family housing. Economic growth in business fields like healthcare, information technology, and energy create strong job markets as businesses seek to expand

Environment-Friendly Places to Live

Public transportation also appeals to socially conscious buyers, and this is particularly true when transportation is part of a comprehensive approach to environmental responsibility. These include green building codes and construction techniques, sustainable energy, and sustainable practices for trash and waste management. Cities that encourage recycling and offer community-based efforts to improve environmental conditions

Quality of Life

The local area information is helpful to buyers and sellers that reflects on areas of concern. These include safety, education, culture and cultural diversity, recreation, and accessible health care. In addition to the costs benefits of public transportation, it contributes substantially to cleaner air and reducing traffic congestion. These are important qualities, as it affects mobility and time management. Sellers can take a comprehensive view of their properties and use local area information to enhance their appeal. These sellers can get more interest from potential buyers than those who take the traditional approach to selling a property. Sellers today can take advantage of easy access to local area information. Buyers have a similar advantage; they can pinpoint locations that meet their preferences.


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What You Should Know About Home Inspections
Tuesday, 29 September 2015, 03:23:24 PM

 Few transactions in this world are as major as buying real estate. Your home's not only the most valuable asset you'll ever own, it also shapes your lifestyle in countless ways every day. There are so many systems and structural elements to a home that it's a challenge even for an experienced homeowner to make sure everything is in perfect condition all the time. That's why the most important thing a homebuyer can do before closing a transaction is order a professional home inspection.

A home inspection is a complete and comprehensive analysis of every aspect of a home. Inspectors take a detailed look at the home's entire physical structure, including the wiring, the plumbing, the foundation, the heating and cooling systems, the roof, the attic, the crawl space, the windows, the appliances, the flooring, the drywall and the exterior. They inspect the entire property, even the land. They look for bugs and critters, as well as evidence of past treatment for bugs and critters. They even test for radon gas and look for mold.

It sounds crazy, but sometimes in a misguided attempt to be frugal a home buyer opts outinspection of the home inspection. Or some buyers believe they're experts on home construction and maintenance and can therefore do the home inspection themselves. But the reality is that hiring a professional home inspector is the best money you could possibly spend when buying a house, and almost no one who hasn't been professionally trained and certified has the expertise necessary to do a proper inspection themselves.

Inspectors don't just look for obvious defects. They also look for evidence of past defects, and potential causes for future concern. The purpose of an inspection isn't to scare a buyer or kill a deal. No house is ever in perfect condition, even if it's brand new. The purpose of the inspection is to give sellers a chance to correct defects before the house changes hands, or to give buyer the chance to reconsider their purpose.

What Happens If The Inspection Reveals a Defect?

Depending on local area information and the specifics of the property itself, home inspections take about 3 hours. After the inspection, the inspector compiles photos, videos and written notes into a report that's then shared with all parties to the transaction, giving everyone involved a world of information about the house.

Next, that report is compared to the seller's disclosure. When a buyer first makes an offer on a home, the seller provides a written disclosure of the condition of the home. If the home inspection reveals defects not listed on the disclosure, the buyer can ask the seller to repair the defects. If the seller's willing to do the repairs, they normally happen before closing and the buyer then re-inspects the work. Or sometimes, the seller gives the buyer money and the buyer schedules the repairs for after closing. In rare cases, a seller's unwilling to make repairs, in which case the buyer has the choice to accept the house as-is or walk away from the deal.

Homebuyers aren't the only ones who order home inspections, by the way. Sometimes sellers order an inspection prior to marketing their home. Ordering a professional home inspection before listing a house is a great way to get ahead of potential problems that could cause a future buyer to get cold feet. Other times homeowners order inspections simply as a matter of routine maintenance. The expense of a few hundred dollars is worth it when it comes to protecting your most expensive asset, and the place you and your family live.


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