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Archive for the ‘Selling a Home’ Category

Buying and Selling in January? Why not

Friday, December 9th, 2016

January is the month of new beginnings, warm-weather winter holidays, winter sports and cutting back just a little on those items that aren’t so good for us.

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January is also a good month for real estate activity, despite what you’ve heard. If you’re thinking of selling or buying a home in 2017, you may want to give January a try.  In markets like Toronto and Vancouver virtually any month is a good month to buy or sell. Real estate activity naturally slows in late December and very early January. But by the end of January’s first week it’s back to business as usual.

One big reason you want to sell your house in January is because you will have less competition. What does that mean? You can likely command a higher sale price thanks to fewer homes on the market.

On the flip side, for buyers, your odds of getting into a bidding war with multiple buyers are reduced because many purchasers are dealing with post-holiday debt.

Gone are the days when buyers waited for warmer temperatures because that’s the time when the majority of homes became available. Buyers today are more tech savvy than ever and as a result they can view real estate around the clock on their phones, devices and computers. Why wait for spring?

Keep in mind, too, that as a buyer your realtor will be able to really focus in on your needs, compared to the spring market when the market is saturated with buyers looking to purchase a home and real estate agents are juggling a heavy load.

If you’re selling, you know those buyers trotting through your house and yard are serious. No one braves the bitter cold and snow, donning boots and parkas as they schlep from house to house as a fun winter pastime.

Try to keep your exterior tidy and, if possible, decorate with outdoor arrangements and seasonal greenery. Clear ice and snow off walkways and steps and make sure your property is well lit. Also be sure to provide pool reports and try to provide photos of what your house looks like in spring and summer.

While it may be counterintuitive, it’s said that homes actually sell quicker in winter. Low inventory may be the reason. In addition, buyers tend to be more motivated and not as willing to slog from home to home to home.

Handling Bad Neighbours When Selling Your Home

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

There’s that saying about how you can pick your friends, but family members you’re stuck with. Well, the same goes for neighbours.

But if you’re lucky, you have a flawless neighbour. The kind of person who bakes cakes for you, keeps a watchful eye on any troublesome activity and who doesn’t at all mind picking up bits of garbage and debris that get strewn on sidewalks and lawns up and down your street.

Fat chance, right? Likely your issues with neighbours lean toward the dark side and if you have a house to sell, that makes it all the more challenging. But there are ways to deal with annoying neighbours. Here’s how:

Overgrown Lawn

Living next door to a neighbour who has an unkempt property can be taxing. Toronto has bylaws that determine standards of acceptability when it comes to how tall grass can grow before it requires cutting and what types of items can be left lying around outdoors. You may need to get the city involved if you’ve tried gentler suggestions to get your neighbour to clean up.

If you’ve never broached the issue, you may want to give it a try. If you have time or are so inclined, offer to help your neighbour clean up. If you don’t have time and your neighbour is strapped for cash, you may want to pay or help pay for a lawn and garden service to spruce up the yard, at least until your home is sold.

Hoarder

Thanks to reality TV, we all know way more than we need to about people who have a psychological compulsion to accumulate junk. If your neighbour is a hoarder, abandoned vehicles, tires, old appliances may decorate their front lawn.  This will be offputting to potential buyers. To help you sell sooner, maybe you can offer to buy your neighbour an inexpensive shed to store all his treasures. While you’re at it, help your neighbour clear out the junk. Your hands will get dirty and you’ll be out a few bucks, but at least you’ll be able to realize top dollar for your home. Same theory applies for abandoned vehicles. Offer to pay the rental of a garage just to get the abandoned car out of sight.

Noisy, Unbearable or Nosy Neighbours

They are all detestable in their own special way. The noisy neighbour should be told in the nicest of ways to keep it down. Maybe they have no clue that their volume is too loud. If that doesn’t work, you could try contacting the city. The unbearable neighbour is a boor who can’t see beyond his nose. He doesn’t understand why people are offended by the beer fridge on his front porch or why neighbours suggest he wear shorts and a t-shirt instead of a thong when doing yard work. These folks can be difficult to reason with so they require a deft touch and diplomacy. The nosy neighbour should be curbed, if at all possible, before she gets to prospective buyers. Tell her that it is your realtor’s job to speak with potential buyers and if she needs to share information with them she should do so through your agent.

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Barking Dogs

Besides the fact that noise bylaws generally address excessive barking issues, it’s probably a good idea to have a chat with your neighbour if their canine yaps too much. Tell them you fear their dog’s excessive barking will make your house difficult to sell. Ask the neighbour if they can arrange to keep the dog in their home during showings. If that doesn’t work get your child or a neighborhood kid to walk the dog during showings. If your neighbour is being disagreeable, offer to pay for the services of a dog walker.

You can’t choose your neighbours but you can choose how to deal with them. Keep a cool head and a compassionate heart and never take their odd behaviour as a personal insult. It isn’t. If you’re not sure where to turn, call the city. They should be able to direct you.

Should I Buy or Should I Sell First?

Friday, October 21st, 2016

The real estate market offers consumers a laundry list of questions, decisions and quandaries, some large, some small. Perhaps one of the first such that springs to mind for the home buyer is the not-so-simple question of should you sell first or buy first.

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How you approach this issue depends on a number of factors. Should you buy before selling, your main consideration has to be whether or not you can afford to carry two properties should your existing house sit on the market for an extended period.

A second, though equally compelling factor, centres on how active the real estate market is in the area in which you’re buying and selling. The GTA’s very active market has prompted something of a reversal in the traditional approach which dictated that you sell your home first before shopping for another. This turnaround has occurred thanks to the speed with which homes are being sold.

Naturally, there are pros and cons to either choice. Let’s take a look at both options:

Buy First:

There’s nothing like shopping for a new home. Each dwelling offers endless possibilities and it’s important to hold out for those must-haves on your list. Without a closing date hanging over your head, this makes the house-hunting process all the more enjoyable. If your offer is unsuccessful, you can wait it out until the next perfect home comes along.

But the downside to buying first is that you could end up with two homes. Can you swing two mortgage payments in addition to the other expenses associated with owning two homes? That is a consideration you need to address before shopping for a new house.

While you can protect yourself by making your offer conditional on the sale of your current home that would be a tough sell especially in Toronto’s overheated market.

The final consideration is that buying first may force you to sell below true market value because you feel pressured to meet the closing date on the house you bought.

Sell First:

As mentioned, this was the traditional approach, when homes sat on the market for weeks and sometimes months.

Perhaps one of the biggest pluses to selling first is that it gives you a better idea of what you can afford for your next home. It also automatically removes any risk of you owning two homes at the same time.

The disadvantage, of course, is that you may feel under the gun to buy a house in order to accommodate your closing date. That’s never a good strategy and can result in you paying more than you should have for a home you’re not crazy about. One way around this is to seek a closing date that is longer than the usual 60 or 90 days. That way, you have more time to find your dream home. Another less desirable option is to rent until you find your dream house.

Either way, it’s wise to always have a plan in place should you find yourself with two houses or needing to bunk temporarily with family or friends.

Window of Opportunity for You and Your Home

Friday, July 15th, 2016

If it’s true that windows are like the eyes of a house, then it’s time to take those peepers a little more seriously.

At Freeman Real Estate, we’re a bit obsessive about windows and eaves, so much so, in fact, that we’re offering a 20 per cent discount on window and eaves trough cleaning when services are purchased through Maple Window & Eaves Cleaning.Image result for cleaning windows

“Windows really lend character and aesthetics to a home,” says Elden Freeman, president of Freeman Real Estate.”And while their shape, size and colour all contributes to the overall appeal of a home’s exterior, one of the easiest and cheapest things a homeowner can do to improve the look of their house both inside and out is to clean their windows.”

The FreemanTeam, which comprises more than 30 full-time realtors, is sponsoring the discount offer, which expires July 31, 2016. Ranked number one for real estate services in midtown/downtown, according to sales data from the Toronto Real Estate Board, the acclaimed real estate team is co-headed by broker Daniel Freeman and broker of record Elden Freeman.

The family-run boutique realtor has been a fixture in Toronto real estate since 1972 and is part of an exclusive community as one of a small number of family-owned and operated brokerages in Toronto.

The FreemanTeam offers a different approach to the Toronto real estate market, specializing in the unique homes, character properties, and condo developments that make up the city’s downtown, midtown, and uptown areas.

The team’s style is distinctly urban in flavour, and its team of professionals are in tune with the diverse lifestyles and opportunities that make up Toronto’s most colourful communities in the core of Canada’s largest city.

Call 647-222-5678 or visit www.maplewindowcleaning.com to schedule an appointment. The discount is available only when doing both window and eaves trough cleaning to your home.

Brexit & Canadian Real Estate

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Instability in the UK in the wake of the recent Brexit vote could actually crank up the heat on Toronto’s real estate market, say experts.

The uncertainty in global markets thanks to England’s decision to leave the European Union could serve to fuel Canada’s red-hot housing market because interest rates will likely remain low, according to BMO Nesbitt Burns.

“In that event, the Fed will remain on ice even longer and Canadian rates will again probe all-time lows, keeping mortgage rates at an extremely low ebb and thus further fanning the flames in the domestic housing market,” said BMO chief economist Douglas Porter and senior economist Robert Kavcic.

The pair issued the warning in their latest report, which dealt with the various factors driving the out-of-control price increases in Vancouver and Toronto.

Brexit could be good news for those interested in investing.  According to Mortgage Broker News, there is a phenomenal amount of capital looking for commercial real estate and those foreign investors think an investment in Canadian real estate is a sure thing. Expect foreign investment in Vancouver and Toronto to continue.

As for how Brexit will impact mortgage rates, Toronto’s mortgage planner David Larock suspects the vote would not have any damaging effects on Canadian borrowers, at least not for the foreseeable future.

“Over the longer term, while the Brexit heightens global financial risks and raises the potential for increased volatility in financial markets, any related flare ups should trigger a capital flight to safety that would be expected to put downward pressure on our bond yields and therefore our mortgage rates,” the analyst wrote.

Given the state of Canada’s economy, which the Bank of Canada warned will push the country back into a recession in the second quarter, it’s very likely interest rates will remain at historically low levels.

“As we’ve grown to expect, rock bottom interest rates are expected to keep mortgage lenders busy for the foreseeable future,” wrote Sam Bourgi at www.canadianmortgages.ca

 

Be True to Your School

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

A private school may be too costly, a public school too basic and a catholic school, too religious. There are clearly a number of options parents have today when choosing a school for their little ones. But the question we want to address is whether or not the quality of a school should affect your decision to purchase a home.

Believe it or not, this is a growing trend among home buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors in the U.S., proximity to top schools is one of the most influential factors in making a decision to purchase a house. The association found that 29 per cent of buyers listed school quality and 22 per cent cited closeness to schools as deciding factors in purchasing a home.

Often a good school means the neighbourhood in which it resides is also a good one. Look for safety stats and services such as Neighbourhood Watch programs, access to public transportation, and amenities such as parks, restaurants and places of worship.

It’s said a great school district can buoy a neighbourhood’s prices even when the market turns down so there is good reason to choose an area based on its schools.

A good school often means you can ask a higher selling price.  Though resale values and home equity may seem like far-off notions to you now, they are something you should always be thinking about when buying a home. Homes situated in good school districts are not only valued higher, they also take less time to sell.

But perhaps the best reason that should influence you buying in an area known for its schools is your children. It’s natural to want a better life for your kids and school is a defining part of their formative years so choose wisely.

Thanks to the introduction of standardized testing in Ontario schools in 1995 parents have an easy way to evaluate schools, though educators and non-educators alike will tell you that EQAO results shouldn’t be the only determining factor of a school’s quality.

Still, the scores are worth noting when schools are a top consideration for which neighbourhood you will choose to live in. Once a year, the Fraser Institute publishes a national report card on elementary and secondary schools across the country. Thanks to data gleaned from mandatory province-wide literacy and math tests the FI awards public schools a ranking out of 10 with 1 being the lowest.

For the full FI report visit https://www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/ontario-secondary-school-rankings-2016.pdf

For info about its interactive school website rankings visit  http://ontario.compareschoolrankings.org/secondary/SchoolsByRankLocationName.aspx

The Empty Nest Solution

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Isn’t it funny how that space you so wanted 30 years ago seems all a bit much today?

Welcome to the empty nest, that stage in life where your kids have flown the coop and where you and your partner are examining your next phase in life. You may be looking at retirement or far from it. One thing’s for sure, you’re starting to wonder if the house you’re in is too big for your reduced family size.

Renting out a basement apartment or a bedroom is a great option for empty nesters. Not only does it provide added income, but it can also offer solitary empty nesters company or at the very least a psychological buffer knowing that they’re not home alone.


Here, according to real estate investor Don Campbell, are some aspects you need to consider before hanging up the ‘For Rent’ sign.

Privacy

You will likely have to forgo some of it. Is that something you can live with? Will the extra income be worth your diminished privacy? You need to decide if you can handle having a renter in your residence especially if your rental space doesn’t come with its own separate entrance.

Family not so much

It’s difficult to enforce eviction or collection rules with a family member without it ruffling feathers throughout the family. Avoid if at all possible.

Sign a lease

A properly written lease signed by you and the tenant or tenants is a must. Make sure it outlines the rules, late rent penalties, expectations, and length of term.

Don’t lowball

If you offer the lowest rent you attract tenants whose only focus is on dollars. This will likely lead to quick turnovers as your renter leaves for the next lowest rental. Look online at other similar rentals in your area and set your price in the middle or higher end.

Do your research

Read up on landlord-tenant legislation so you know the rules. You should also bone up on local municipal bylaws and learn about guidelines and standards for fire and building safety, zoning and permits. Call your municipal office or go online to find out more.

Inform insurance

Be sure to let your home insurer know that you are renting out a portion of your home.

Research the tax repercussions

Once you become a landlord you have to claim your rental income on your taxes.  Also know that a portion of the capital gain when selling the property could be deemed taxable.


Being a landlord isn’t for the faint of heart. You will want someone who pays their rent on time, leads a reasonably quiet life and respects your property as if it was their own. While that may sound like a tall order, how you seek out a tenant can make a difference.

Advertise your rental with a sign on your property or house. Consider placing a classified ad in newspapers or post a flyer in grocery stores, libraries and places of worship. Be sure to let your friends, family and neighbours know that you’re on the hunt for an ideal tenant because sometimes word of mouth is the best advertising.

If you are looking for a student, contact campus housing offices at colleges and universities near your home. And don’t forget online platforms.

The Ultimate Top 5 No-No’s when Selling

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Brisk real estate markets like Toronto or Vancouver are great for sellers because of the high level of interest among buyers, many of whom are hungry, perhaps desperate some might say to capture their own properties.

Given this seller’s market, it’s understandable that a seller might be inclined to slack off a bit when it comes to keeping their home in tip-top shape. That’s never advisable. When buyers observe signs of neglect and carelessness they begin to question a property and suddenly your highly sought-after house is not so hot to trot any more.

With that in mind, let’s look at the Top 5 No-No’s sellers need to correct or address before putting their house on the market.

  1. Filth & Junk – Even though the dirtiest of messes can be eventually cleaned up, this has to be one of the top sins. Hide your dirty laundry from plain view. If you don’t have time to wash dishes, put them in the dishwasher.  If that’s not an option hide them temporarily in a bin in your oven. Take out the trash; make your beds and scrub sinks and toilets. As for clutter, it comes in varying degrees. Ask your realtor for suggestions about what areas you need to tackle first.
  2. Doggy Do’s & Don’ts – As cute, lovable, fun and furry as your pets may be, others are apt to approach pets with a high degree of caution. There are a wide range of reasons why strangers won’t like your pets, from matters around cleanliness and safety to everything in between. Some buyers find pets and their messes a huge turn-off so knowing that your house houses one can be cause for concern. It may take some effort, but you’re best to hide any signs of animals, especially when it comes to property damage such as scratch marks on doors or urine stains in carpeting.  Take care of pet-related issues before listing your house and try to take your pets with you during showings.
  3. Don’t Be a Stalker – Interested buyers feel the need to keep their distance from the seller so don’t be tempted to shadow them as they tour your home. Nothing could be worse. You are not being helpful by pointing out technical features of your basement sauna or interesting gossip about the celebrities that live on your street. This is the job of the realtor. Use your agent to communicate selling features. Having the seller linger around the house while it is being shown is detrimental as the purchaser will never feel 100 per cent at ease, which will encumber how they feel about your house in general, no matter how beautiful and reasonably priced.
  4. Stinkeroo – The thing about bad smells is that the only way to escape them is by leaving the dwelling. This is not a good message to convey to a prospective buyer. And yes, you may love garlic and eat it at every meal, but the smell can be overpowering and, believe it or not, offensive to some people. Other olfactory insults can include such cooking smells as bacon and fish. Try not to cook those strong-smelling foods right before or even the day before a showing.  Even more disgusting is the smell of cigarette smoke. Take your butts outside. Animal smells from litter boxes and dirty pets are also highly off-putting.
  5. Reality Bites – Don’t be unrealistic about your house. Yes, it’s a hot real estate market but that doesn’t mean a way-too-high asking price coupled with a property that is rarely available for showings will get you what you want. Try to take the emotion and ego out of selling your home. Price it realistically and make it ready and available for showings.

Do Home Renovations Hike Property Values?

Friday, February 5th, 2016

As with just about anything in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. When it comes to remodelling your home, you need to consider a number of factors, which are often complex and challenging, before deciding if a home renovation is of value.

It’s a good idea to start off by thinking about how long you plan to live in the house. Do you intend to raise your children there? Or is this home simply a stepping stone to something bigger and better? Perhaps you want to downsize now that the kids are gone or maybe your house is outdated and a little tired and in desperate need of some TLC?

Next consider your budget. Are you willing to spend $5,000 or $50,000 on that main-floor bathroom reno?

Now you need to devise a plan that honours your purpose and your budget. If you’ve always dreamed of cooking meals in a deluxe, restaurant-style kitchen and you have the funds to support this costly renovation and you think it’s well worth the expense, go for it. But be aware that changes you make today may not net you great gains five or ten years from now when you go to sell your house.  If, however, you’re updating your kitchen with the hope of selling quickly, nix the gourmet kitchen and go for something more modest and economical.

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There is plenty of online information about how to determine the dollar value of a renovation. But there is no easy formula. Most of us know that in-ground swimming pools, wall-to-wall carpeting and sunroom additions aren’t the best remodeling projects, investment-wise. Getting the most bang for your home-improvement buck can be influenced by many factors, including your local real estate market and the style of home in which you live.

Knowing your neighbourhood before setting out to refurbish your home is critical. This will help you in your decision making and prevent you from making an alteration that may cause your house to stand out like a sore thumb. Also, understanding your neighbourhood will stop you from installing a $75,000 home theatre in a house that’s worth $400,000.

The Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) warns homeowners about spending too much for a home renovation:  “If the value of your house exceeds the average market value in your neighbourhood, your renovations will not yield much return. But if your house value is below the average, you can recover a larger part of the renovation costs.”

The AIC recommends choosing renovations that have a long life expectancy such as roofing and new windows, updating your kitchen and bathroom, cheaper upgrades such as paint and landscaping, and energy-efficient improvements.

It’s something of a real-estate mantra that reasonable kitchen and bathroom improvement projects tend to offer the highest rate of return on your investment. But remember not to overdo the remodel. Refurbishing your home to accommodate a separate apartment is also a good idea that will likely increase the value of your house in addition to your earnings thanks to the rental income.

In the end, you need to evaluate your finances and your current and future housing needs. And know that the only sure thing when renovating is having a home improvement project that will be anything but easy, cheap or fast.

January is the Right Time to Sell

Monday, January 18th, 2016

It`s hot. It`s cold. It`s slumping. It`s smoking.

Each of those descriptors has described the Toronto real estate market at one time or another. And while it`s important to pay the market its due, know also that if you`re thinking of selling your home now is probably one of the best times to do so.

If you are thinking of waiting for warmer temperatures when the blooms on the daffodils and forsythia cast a gorgeous golden glow on your home and invite prospective purchasers far and wide, think again. Springtime is when the bulk of homeowners will also decide it`s best to sell their homes. Yes, your blossoms will look pretty, but your house will have much more in the way of competition if you wait for spring.

While January may not seem like the ideal month to show your home, there is much less inventory on the market right now so your real estate is apt to stand out more. Besides if buyers are house hunting in January, they are likely very serious and motivated purchasers and not your run-of-the-mill tire-kicker types. Would you trudge through cold temperatures, ice and snow just to check out someone`s mudroom reno? Didn`t think so.

Bear in mind, too, that if you list your home in January, it will be viewed as a debutante, of sorts. Much of your house`s competition will be older listings that came on the market in November and December so with your house being the new kid on the block, that`s sure to drive and generate even greater interest.

Because there`s less inventory in January and February, bidding wars can be ferocious. And naturally, as the seller, that`s good news for you.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.