5 Tips to Get You And Your Family Through Today – COVID-19

While we weather this storm, which has come upon us, I’ve put together some tips which may help.  We are all experiencing difficulties, anxieties, and challenges.  This “normal” will not end tomorrow but it will end.  In the meanwhile, how are you and your family functioning daily…  healthy or not-so healthy? 

What is important to know, is that “This too Shall Pass” and we will slowly return to a new normal.  There will be some good and different things that will come from this.  If anything, we will be closer as a community

  1. Fill yourself with positive thoughts & ideas

Allow yourself time and space.  Be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others.  Take time to journal, exercise, or meditate, pick up a new skill you didn’t have time for in the past.

  1. Get back to healthy eating

Give yourself permission to be kind to you. Yes, you have maybe fallen off the wagon with respect to your eating and drinking habits, but maybe now is the time to shake it off and get back on track with the habits you had once instilled.   Remember how long it took to develop that habit. 

  1. Make a list of what you want to accomplish tomorrow

We all have slept in more then we would otherwise and maybe we have stayed in our P.J.’s til noon.  A daily routine gives you structure to get things done.  Some of our challenges are due to a sense of lost.  Making a to-do list in the evening may help.  Review todays accomplishments and what you want to accomplish for tomorrow. This will help with focus and your drive to make things happen.

  1. Take the time to learn a new skill or hobby

With time on your hands, there is no better time to start something you have always been itching to try.  There are many online courses and Facebook groups that will help in getting you started.  Maybe even ask a friend to start something together to give you the push and keep you at it. 

  1. Be “INTO” what your kids are “INTO”

Our children grow up so quickly and many typically stay in their own corners of the house doing their own thing.  Maybe now is the time to find out what they are interested in and show genuine interest and excitement.  Find something good they are doing and compliment them.   Be intentional.  Have a game night as a family!

Five easy steps to reduce stress when selling your home

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GENERAL INFORMATION

Five easy steps to reduce stress when selling your home

Selling your home seems like a pretty simple idea. The steps appear to be straight forward… 1) call a REALTOR® 2) clean the house 3) have people come through your home 4) get an offer 5) put up the sold sign 6) move

Stress starts from the moment you don’t see and realize the big picture. Understanding and managing the selling process will help you in managing the stress, hence, making the selling process much more enjoyable.

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  1. Call a REALTOR® you can trust. The most important step is selecting a REALTOR® who will work well with you and listens to your wants and needs. This is the person who will prepare you for the speed bumps and not allow you to hit them straight on! There is a large number of REALTOR®s in the market and they are not all cut from the same cloth. Each has their own style of conducting business. Each has their own personality, experiences and values. Interview 2 or 3 to see which person comes across as someone you can work withl. This is the biggest and most important step!
  2. Manage your expectations during the home selling process. It is not uncommon that we feel our home will sell very quickly. In actual fact, this is very rare in a balanced or buyers market unless you have a highly desirable home priced just right. Your REALTOR® will be able to give you market information which tells you the type of market you are currently in and also the demand for your type of home., as an example, whether it is suitable for young families of today or what trends buyers are moving towards. If you are expecting a fast sale and it is now over 3 months will cause conflicts and stress. Understand all the factors that affect the home selling process.
  3. Getting your home ready for sale will most likely have a different meaning for you than your REALTOR®. Your REALTOR® will be able to make suggestions which will make your home more appealing to a greater number of potential buyers. Home Staging may be the answer but it is not for everyone. It is important to discuss what this exactly means and how much it will cost and whether your home will benefit from it. You want to highlight and maximize all the good features of your home. Keep in mind that a buyer will be more sold on your home if they can experience the feelings of living in it when they walk through the door.
  4. Your REALTOR® may also suggest small or big home repairs or changes. He or she may see that the yard needs some TLC, or feel some (or alot) of the personal objects need to be packed up, or the closets decluttered. The list goes on. Keep in mind that these are not for the purpose of making your home into a show home but to ensure that we maximize the feelings of every buyer that comes through the door. The fact is that not every house sells and few sell fast (your REALTOR® can provide you with these statistics) so in order to give it 100%, your home needs to be ready.
  5. It is important to understand the buyers side of the equation as well. Not everyone who comes through your home will want to buy it. In fact, the number is very low in most cases. As previously mentioned, not every home sells and few sell fast. Buyers come in all shapes and sizes, different budgets, different experiences. It’s a bit of a treasure hunt for them… they are looking for the perfect home. In most cases, you also have a husband and wife who must also come to an agreement of their individual wants and needs list. There will be sacrifices and 99.9% of buyers will not get everything on their lists. Put yourself in their shoes as you too will be doing the same thing. They will look through dozens of houses looking for the perfect gem. Most are not in a rush, some will also have to go through the same process as you to list their home, and some are already stressed. Just keep in mind that if they don’t select yours, it is not personal.

There are many opportunities to be stressed in the home selling process. It is important to reduce as much as you can so you can enjoy moving on to the next adventure in your life. Don’t let the little things become big things and keep focused on what is important. These steps are just a few of the many points which a REALTOR® can assist you with. Don’t underestimate the job they will do for you.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another”
….. Williams James

When you buy a home, do you include the appliances?

Have you ever planned a long needed vacation just to have something more urgent interrupt your plans before you even get a chance to relax?  How about the times when just as you “touch wood” for making a casual declaration like “I never have issues with my car.  It’s always reliable” just to have something go wrong?  Well Karma works in funny ways and house purchases are no exception.

So you buy a home which included some stainless steel appliances which look in wonderful shape.   As you start settling down in your home over the next few weeks and you find out these nice shiny objects have issues.  They may just stop working altogether.  The question is… did the sellers know there were issues with the appliances when they agreed to leave them in the house? Or, was Karma just working against you?

What to do?

  1. Attempt to fix it
  2. Go out and buy a replacement appliance
  3. Get angry and call your realtor
  4. Get angry and call your lawyer
  5. All of the above

 

If an appliance which was included in the sale fails to work correctly after closing, your options are limited to get anyone to do anything about it.  This is a BUYER BEWARE situation.  Your agent and you should test each of the appliances during your home inspection to ensure they are operational.  Any issues which are discovered can be address far in advance of closing.  Then again, the day of or prior to taking possession, another inspection of the appliances should be conducted.  There are NO WARRANTIES with these items after you take possession of the home.  If they fail to operate after you move in, you have no recourse.   Trying to solve this situation via the lawyers would end up costing you more money and stress than it is worth.   Venting to your realtor or lawyer may help with your stress level but will result in very little satisfaction.

How to protect yourself?

  1. The best solution is to bring or buy your own appliances
  2. If you do include them in the offer to purchase, ensure you take the time to inspect whether they are operating as expected. (NOTE:  this does not protect you against issues that result in a complete failure of the appliance days or weeks after closing)
  3. Ensure you understand that no warranty is expressed or given when you include the appliances.  When you have the keys in your hand, you are now the proud owner of those appliances, working or not working!
  4. Request to take photos of each of the appliances and record the make, model, and serial numbers.  This way the old bait and switch doesn’t happen before closing.  You ensure the appliances you thought you were going to get are actually the ones in the house on the day of closing.

Final word!

Within the negotiating process, be happy with the price you are offering FIRST.  If your agent is able to also negotiate in the appliances to make the deal come together, then it’s a win win.  You shouldn’t feel that you paid extra for the appliances especially when that perceived “extra cost” goes into the mortgage and paying interest for 25 years.  If they only last a week or 5 years, you are technically out nothing other than a bit of stress.

How to create a spooky house!



Have you been possessed by a scary spirit?  

With Halloween just around the corner, making a haunted house is a perfect way to celebrate or to spook your guests.  To transform your house will take planning, hard work, and creativity.

 

1. Start by planning a path… either inside your home or outside.  Figure out the scale of how big you want to make this.  Maybe it will only be the entrance to your home or you could plan a series of small areas or rooms.

 

2. What is the tone you wish to convey… i.e. funny or scary?  Is this mainly for kids or adults?

 

3. This will take more than one person to pull it off.  Enlist family or friends.  You may want some of them as actors in costumes making noises or grabbing your guests in unsuspecting corners.

 

4. Consider the theme.  Is this a traditional haunted house, serial killer, graveyard?  You will want a story to go along with the theme.  Figure out an interesting story to go along with your spooky theme.

 

5.  Pay attention to the light effects.  Too much light will disclose the location of your actors too soon.  But you need enough light to ensure the safety of your guests.  Consider giving your guests flashlights or other light source.  Replace light bulbs in lamps to coloured bulbs such as green.  Dress up traditional lamps with cob webs and bats on the inside.  Ensure the bulb is not touching any of the materials!!!  Black bags can be used to cover furniture.  

 

6. Don’t forget the special effects.  Strobe lights create a slow motion effect.  Fog machines can be used to provide a eerie atmosphere.  Black lights and neon paint can be used to create your signage.

 

 7. Noises!  A spooky house is not complete without noises.  Timing is everything.  Have your actors use noisy shakers.  Use different spooky music in each area. Silence can also be used just at the right time!


Now you have the basics!   Consider the time left to plan, the people that will be helping you, and how much you want to invest in time as well as money.   

Happy Halloween season 🙂
 
 

Does Your Home Have Curb Appeal?

curb appeal

Drive Up Your Curb Appeal

Is your home’s first impression being hindered by a bland driveway, or an eyesore of a walkway? If so, it might be time to kick start your curb appeal with a few upgrades.  From repairing to repaving, a little attention to your home’s entryway can go a long way when it comes to wowing visitors, not to mention potential home buyers.

Revitalize with Repairs
The easiest way to enhance your walkway and driveway is with some simple repairs and resurfacing.  Repair cracks with rubberized asphalt crack filler or pourable grout.  When dry, pour water over the surface to ensure it is angled in such a way that the water runs off, as standing water is the most common cause of cracks. Once complete, coat with an appropriate sealer and your driveway will look like new again.

Pave the Way to Wow

An asphalt driveway is relatively inexpensive and is less prone to cracks and heaving than concrete.  Add eye-appeal to an asphalt driveway by lining it with a row of trees, shrubs or other greenery, or by adding a decorative lamp post for aesthetic appeal day and night..  Alternatively, a brick or cobblestone driveway costs more, but can add a lot of elegance to your home’s entryway.

Go for Gravel

If paving isn’t in your plans, adding crushed gravel to a dirt driveway is always an option.  Gravel is great for bringing definition to your driveway, especially if you change its contour by adding an inviting curve.  For a more formal appearance consider coloured gravel: blue-grey, red or white.  Edge a small stone gravel driveway with bricks for a finished look.

Talk with Your Walkway
If the entryway to your front door could speak, it should say “welcome”.  Transform it with stained or stamped concrete pavers, stone, flagstones or brick.  A curved walkway provides a natural, meandering feeling while a straight one is more directional. Embellish a short straight walkway with a row of bricks or pavers on either side and soften with groundcover overflowing the edges or line with low lying, attractive plants.

Neat and Tidy Gets Noticed
No room for a driveway or walkway renovation in your budget? Keep things looking good by removing unsightly weeds.  Trim grass edges for a neat, cared-for appearance.  A couple of large pots, overflowing with bright flowers leading up to your front door creates a pleasing, welcoming feature.

Curb appeal is paramount for showcasing not only your property’s individuality, but to tell prospective buyers that your home is as well-maintained inside as it is outside.

A Guide to Roofing Improvement. Repair? Replace? ROI?


Your roof has a tough life.  Just when it’s survived another long, cold Canadian winter, it faces the heat and humidity of the summer months ahead.  That’s why spring is the perfect time to assess the state of your roof, and to decide whether you need to take steps to improve its condition.  Here is a general guideline of where to begin:

Look for Proof of a Faulty Roof
No matter how old or new your roof is, it’s always a good idea to conduct quarterly inspections of its condition.  Start with the interior walls of your home that touch the roof and look for things like flaking paint, ceiling stains, and peeling wallpaper. All of these may be an indication that your roof has a leak.

On your roof itself, symptoms of deterioration can include missing shingles, visible fiberglass threads, raised shingles with nails protruding, or any areas that look darker or a different shade.  Check the roof deck in your attic as well, noting any water stains, rotting, and pinholes of light. If you are uncertain, you can always hire a roofing professional to do an assessment for you.

Two Options: Repair or Replace
If you’ve discovered signs that your roof may be damaged or leaking, first determine if it’s repairable.  A roofing professional may be best able to determine this. If it’s less than ten years old and only has a few minor issues, the remedy may simply require a little patchwork.

Sometimes a simple repair won’t suffice, and you need to consider replacing your roof altogether.  A professional roofer can determine the state and age of your roof to help you decide if you want to replace it.  As a general rule, if your roof is older than 15 years or showing significant signs of decay they’ll likely recommend that you replace it.  A moderately sized, professionally-installed roofing job will usually take about three to five days to complete. Select a roofing system design and colour that is in keeping with the neighbourhood standard and the colour scheme of your home.

Reap the ROI
If it’s time to replace your roof, you should consider what the return on investment will be.
The most common type of roofing system is the asphalt shingle, where you’ll pay on average between $2.50- $3.50 per square foot*.  If and when you sell your home down the road, you can expect to recoup an estimated 25-75% of your roofing investment*.

Replacing your roof can also add a lot of curb appeal to your home.  A new roof gives your home a mini-makeover, making it look more modern and up-to-date – not to mention safer and more energy efficient.  To make the most of your investment, be sure to maintain and inspect it on a regular basis.

*The Appraisal Institute of Canada, 2011: http://aicanada.ca

Will the extreme weather affected your home?

Are we tired of all the crazy weather yet?  From snow and ice storms to heavy rain events, we are getting it all this winter.  More headlines like “Flooding remains a problem in Odessa” are in the news.

The question is:  How does all this weather stuff affect you when you go to sell your home?

Extreme weather may be more frequent then we realize. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC),

“Damage caused by severe weather has emerged in recent years as the leading cause of property insurance claims and now exceeds fire damage in some regions of the country.

Environment Canada reports that extreme weather events that used to happen every 40 years can now be expected to happen every six. The resulting increase in insured losses from natural catastrophes is not a short-term phenomenon. Payouts from extreme weather have more than doubled every five to ten years since the 1980s.”

The chances have increased that your home could be affected in one way or another by the weather such as wind, flood, fire, or hail.  Calgary is leading the way with 67% of all disaster payouts in Canada.  Another consideration is the crumbling stormwater infrastructures in many towns and cities.  We are certain to see higher insurance premiums for homes, as well as property tax increase as municipalities set out long range plans to fix problems.

As homeowners, we should always be aware that every home has the potential for being damaged by weather.  Look at preventative steps like

  • Securing items in backyards or on decks so they don’t become airborne during high winds.
  • Direct downspouts away from foundations so water doesn’t pool near the home
  • Install a backflow prevention device on basement floor drains.

 

Any material damage to your home can have a negative impact when it comes to selling of your home. How you handle the matter can greatly affect the outcome.

It is important to point out that you must disclose to any potential buyer material defects in a home that you are aware of, for example, whether or not there has been water in the basement.  Fixing the problem does not remove your obligation of disclosure of “LATENT” defects (defects which cannot be readily seen).

See: The “truth” about property disclosure statements by Mark Weisleder

If tragedy strikes your home, ensure you have a professional do the repairs.  Request a report detailing the repairs.   Pictures are worth a thousand words.  These may prove beneficial to you to help detail the repairs which have been completed.

When it comes time to put your home on the market you will be armed with the type of details which we seldom see.  This will make the difference between your home sitting on the market for months and potentially not selling, or selling quickly and at full market value.

Last bit of advise!  Disclose, disclose, disclose…. If you don’t, your neighbours will!!  Lawsuits are costly and nobody wins.

More links:

Attention all new home buyers!


So Christmas is over and you are getting itchy feet to start looking around at some homes.  Getting tired of your current accommodations and you need a place to call your own. Why not? Interest rates are still low and you’ve plopped some numbers into a handy mortgage calculator online and it appears that you should be able to get into something cheaper then you currenlyt have!

So, you hop in the car and start driving around the neighbourhood looking for something that catches your eye.  You see an open house sign in the distance, so you quickly drive over in anticipation to look at what this home has to offer!  Wow!! Okay.. this is a cool house and it is so big and has a great sized yard with a  POOL (albeit, all covered with snow)!!  Now you know you are definitely hooked and your pursuit to make this happen begins.

LET’S STOP THIS STORY RIGHT HERE!!

The picture, that i’ve painted, is how most new home buyers begin the course of looking for a new home.   But if this is all that you have done to prepare for this day then you may be in for a huge disappointment.  Buying a home can be described as an “INTENSE & EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER” and what we typically find is that most first time home buyers haven’t started the process to prepare for this day.

What do you mean “PREPARE” for this day?

According to a 2012 Nanos Research1 study, commissioned by CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association), found that more than 63% of respondents indicated a “major need” for more information about the financial details of buying a home. Does it surprise you to know that this number rose to over 70% when considering respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 only.

Buying a house requires a well laid out plan including an intense look at your finances.  This roller coaster ride is felt by both the buyer and seller and as Realtors we attempt to mitigate the causes of the ups and downs.  We engage the proper professional at the proper times to ensure a positive outcome.  Teaming up with the right mortgage professional can make the difference between you getting your home or not!

Chris Matthey, Mortgage Agent with The Mortgage Professionals, indicates that the biggest surprises to First Time Buyers normally have to do with their credit and/or with the realization of the total costs associated with buying and financing their first home.

“With credit, it is something most people do not check on a regular basis. As such, there could be a number of issues with their credit history and/or score that could negatively affect their mortgage application with potential lenders. By meeting with a mortgage professional early, these issues can be identified and rectified 


 As for the costs associated with buying and financing a home, First Time Buyers may have saved just enough for their 5% downpayment, but did not realize how much more they needed to save over and above their 5% downpayment. These costs include but are not limited to: legal fees, property tax adjustments, land transfer tax, title insurance, inspection costs, utilities set up, any many more. A mortgage professional can outline all these fees and costs to allow for proper planning and savings. This avoids the stress associated with having to come up with money last minute that the buyers did not plan or save for. “prior to the start of the buying process. 

As a realtor, we can certainly help to minimize the train wrecks and recommend a team of professionals at every step of the way.    As a buyer, your first step (if not your second) should be to find and talk with a mortgage professional that will take the time to map a plan to home ownership.

 

Additional Information:

HomeBuyers Road Map – CREA

It Pays to Know –  Federal Consumer Agency of Canada

Buying your First Home:  Three steps to successful mortgage shopping – Federal Consumer Agency of Canada



FOOTNOTES:

1 Survey conducted by Nanos Research and commissioned by The Canadian Real Estate Association. The survey was a random national telephone survey of 1000 Canadians aged 18 and over and is considered accurate ± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

Joint Ownership of Property: Pros & Cons

Married spouses commonly hold property jointly with right of survivorship. In certain circumstances, there are several benefits to this ownership structure. For example:

  • Each spouse has the ability to manage the property without written consent of the other.
  • Upon the first death, the surviving spouse automatically owns 100% of the property.
  • Probate tax is payable on the value of the property only once (i.e. at the time of the second death).


However, joint ownership for couples may not be appropriate if one of the spouses wishes to benefit children of a previous relationship, or other family members, friends, charities or other beneficiaries. In addition, conflicts can arise during the administration of the estate of an individual who had transferred property into joint names (with a right of survivorship) with another person who is not a spouse or where the spouses do not have common children.

Disgruntled beneficiaries, heirs at law or creditors, may try to claim that the property held jointly should form part of the deceased’s estate to be distributed in accordance with the terms of his or her Will , or be subject to estate liabilities.

Where a parent transfers property into joint names with only some of the children, there is potential for conflict among the children and other beneficiaries as to whether an immediate gift was intended at the time of transfer, or whether the surviving joint owners hold the property as a Resulting Trust for the parent’s estate.  In addition to potential conflict, a host of other problems may be associated with the transfer to joint tenancy. For example, if the property transferred has an accrued gain, there could be immediate tax liability triggered, upon transfer.

If the family home is transferred to joint tenancy, there may be loss of some of the Principal Residence Exemption, in the future. In general, property should be transferred into joint names with children only when an immediate gift is intended. If you are contemplating joint tenancy with right of survivorship, you should be aware
of the following:

  • All owners have immediate, full access to the property.
  • The property passes to the surviving owners on the death of one joint owner by right of survivorship, bypassing the deceased’s estate and possibly conflicting with distribution plans in his or her Will. For example, the Will may provide for an equal division of the estate among surviving children. If property is held jointly with only one of the children, was it intended that that child receive this asset in addition to an equal share of the estate? 
  • If there is an out of order death, family members may be disinherited. For example, what if one of the children dies before the parent? Usually grandchildren receive a gift over of their deceased parent’s share under their grandparent’s Will. However, with joint tenancy, grandchildren who are the surviving children of a predeceased child of the testator will not receive their deceased parent’s share. On the grandparent’s death, the property will pass only to the surviving children who are joint owners.This could occur where there is a common accident that claims the parent and grandparent.
  • The property may become subject to the claims of creditors of all joint owners. In the event of divorce of one of the joint owners, a creditor could include an estranged spouse of one of the joint owners.
  • A transfer of property into joint names, unless to a spouse, creates a deemed disposition or sale at fair market value for income tax purposes on the portion passed to the other joint owners.The death of a joint owner also generates a deemed disposition on that person’s share. 
  • All joint owners must declare their portion of the income and capital gains from the jointly held property, if any, annually.
  • A portion of the Principal Residence Exemption will be lost if the jointly owned property is a principal residence for only one, or some, of the joint owners and other joint owners have their own residence on which they intend to claim the exemption.

If property is held jointly and you want to avoid the previously discussed negative consequences, professional advice is recommended. If you are a joint owner or are considering becoming one, talk to your tax and legal advisors about the benefits and risks. Your BMO Nesbitt Burns Investment Advisor can help introduce you to a professional advisor upon request.


Posted with permission

Pierre L. Gaumond,
CFP, CIM, FMA, FCSI

Investment Advisor
& Financial PlannerContact Info:
67 Bock St., Kingston ON
(613)-547-5214
(613)-547-5288

website

The Trouble With Mold

The last thing you want to hear when buying a house is that there’s a mold problem. These sneaky little spores aren’t easy to detect. Mold is a fungus and although some molds are visible and even odorous, mold can also grow between walls, under floors and ceilings. Or in less accessible spots, such as basements and attics. Mold flourishes in water-soaked materials (paneling, wallboard, carpet, paint and ceiling tiles), and will survive in almost any damp location.

There are thousands of disputes over mold between sellers and buyers through the years. Both parties should protect themselves up-front. A wise seller should put a mold disclaimer into the sales contract and encourage in the sales contract that the buyer hire and rely upon the buyer’s own independent mold inspection and testing of the home by a certified mold inspector.

Conversely, a buyer should ask the seller about mold and hire an inspector who can seek it out. While it’s not the inspector’s job to look for mold, most home inspectors will mention obvious signs of water damage and the possible presence of mold. Because the inspector will poke around in spaces you might not, he or she may see things you wouldn’t. Don’t be shy. Ask whether the inspector saw signs of mold or potential mold dangers.

In some states, real estate agents have a duty to disclose problems they know exist. Appraisers should also notify you of any obvious sign of a mold problem if the value of the property can be affected.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mold and mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, including hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash.

Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Easily aerosolized once they are disturbed, hundreds of thousands of spores can fill the air within a short period of time. Containment procedures are necessary to prevent contaminating the entire house or building. Preventing water damage is key in stopping mold. Many indoor mold problems begin with an aging, weathered, leaky roof that allow waters to enter the home.

If your home or property has a water, mold, other environmental problem or if there’s a reasonable suspicion of a problem, you should remedy the water problem, mold infestation, or environmental threat prior to even offering the property for sale.

Learn to detect mold in homes. Get the seller to disclose mold issues and negotiate around any mold problems in the course of the sale.


THE PRUDENTIAL REAL ESTATE ENEWSLETTER – VOLUME 57