Upgrade Your Home With These 2024 Design Trends

6. February 2024 06:21

 

One of the best parts of owning a home is the freedom to make it truly your own with design choices that reflect your personality and lifestyle. Whether you lean toward contemporary design or a farmhouse aesthetic, your home is your canvas.

 

Even so, it’s always smart to think about the long-term impact those decisions might have on your home’s value. Choosing over-personalized or unpopular materials and finishes could make your home less appealing to future buyers. And selecting out-of-style or overly-trendy elements could cause your home to feel dated quickly.

 

To help inspire your design choices, we’ve rounded up some of the top trends we’re watching in 2024. Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to list or renovate your property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

 

  1. Spa-Like Bathrooms

We could all use a little more relaxation in our lives—so why not bring the spa into your home? In 2024, more homeowners will remodel their bathrooms to turn them into personal oases.1,2

 

If you’re undertaking a renovation, consider upgrading fixtures and materials. Handmade tile and custom cabinetry can add a touch of style and luxury. Trade stark whites for warm neutrals to create a more relaxed feel—think light wood tones, creams, and beiges.3 Complete the look with soft ambient lighting from a backlit mirror or pair of decorative sconces.2,3

 

If you want to maximize the mind-body benefits of a relaxing bathroom (and have the budget to spare), you might consider installing a steam shower, infrared sauna, or cold plunge tub. Not looking to spend as much? Even minor upgrades like a massaging showerhead or heated towel bar can add some pampering to your morning routine.3

 

But remember, if you’re modifying your bathroom, it’s always wise to work with experienced and licensed professionals to avoid water damage that could lead to costly repairs. We can refer you to a trusted contractor for help.

 

  1. Maximalist Decor

In 2024, maximalism is back in vogue, contrasting the neutral aesthetic that dominated design in recent years.4 While maximalism can be summed up as “more is more,” there’s nothing sloppy or cluttered about this look. Instead, it’s all about intentional curation.5

 

Hallmarks of maximalist style include rich and saturated colours, bold wallpaper, statement rugs and furniture, and lots of art. And forget matching—maximalist interiors often include plenty of contrasting colours, textures, and patterns selected to complement one another.5

 

If you’re trying to embrace maximalism on a budget, check out thrift stores. They’re often a great place to find unique furniture, colourful rugs, and interesting art or collectibles. Before you invest in rolls of vintage wallpaper, though, it’s important to note—if you plan to sell your home in the near future, the maximalist look won’t appeal to every buyer.

 

We typically advise sellers to remove clutter and personal items to help buyers imagine their own future lives within the home. Sometimes, that means repainting or redecorating in a more neutral palette. Of course, this shouldn’t stop you from embracing your own style now—just be aware that you may need to walk back your aesthetic prior to selling. We can advise you when the time comes.

 

  1. Japandi Style

Not quite ready to embrace maximalism? Japandi style, which blends Japanese and Scandinavian influences, offers a more subdued approach that still has plenty of character. The look dates back about 150 years to a time when many Scandinavian designers were travelling to Japan for inspiration.6

 

Japandi style brings together clean lines, simplicity, and a focus on natural elements and light. It emphasizes the beauty in imperfection, or “wabi sabi,” and a deep connection to Mother Earth. And like Scandinavian decor, the look prioritizes comfort and a sense of sanctuary in the home.6

 

Interested in playing with Japandi? Common features include calming colour palettes and organic materials like raw wood and bamboo. Try softening harsh edges with softer textures, like cozy blankets and ceramic pieces.

 

The look also minimizes clutter, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a minimalist. Instead, Japandi style embraces storage solutions like baskets, folding screens, and sofas with built-in storage to give everything a place.7 If you’d like some help implementing Japandi-style organization in your home, contact us for a list of recommended professionals.

 

  1. Mixed Metals

Mixing metals used to be a “no-no.” But in 2024, it’s definitely a “yes.”

 

According to designers, mixing the colours and finishes of metal fixtures and hardware can bring visual interest to a room—as long as you go about it the right way.1,8

 

The most important rule to keep in mind is to stay away from near matches, like brass and gold—that’s more likely to look accidental than intentional. Instead, go for bold contrast: Think polished nickel and matte black.8

 

Some designers recommend using each metal at least twice in a room to make it look cohesive. Another good rule of thumb is to stick to two types of metals in a small room and two to three in a larger space.8

 

Finally, you might think about playing with undertones (brass is warm, chrome is cool) to change the “temperature” of a room. And don’t be afraid of a little shine—many designers predict that a retro, high-polished look will replace matte finishes in 2024.9

 

Want some help sourcing fixtures and hardware in a variety of finishes? Reach out for a list of our favourite retailers.

 

  1. Wood Cabinetry And Accents

The all-white kitchen has been ubiquitous in recent years. But in 2024, classic wood cabinetry is back in a big way.10 In fact, industry professionals surveyed by the National Kitchen & Bath Association predict that wood cabinets will be more popular than white in the next three years.11

 

Natural wood tones offer a sense of warmth and natural beauty. And today’s cabinets aren’t anything like the heavy, dated versions of the past. Instead, light to medium versions—like white oak and walnut—and warmer undertones are trending.12

 

The addition of wood-grain accents to painted kitchen cabinets—like with a contrasting island or range hood—is another popular option. And wood continues to be a favoured choice for flooring. A recent survey found that 40% of homeowners opted for either hardwood or engineered wood when renovating their kitchen floors.13

 

You can also expect to see more wood in bathrooms in 2024. According to Houzz, last year, wood vanities surpassed white in popularity for the first time in recent years, and designers expect the trend to continue.14 While white countertops and walls still dominate bathrooms, a wood-grained vanity brings a relaxed, organic element into the space.

 

Dreaming about new cabinets or hardwood floors? We’d be happy to share a list of recommended trade professionals who can help.

 

  1. Timeless Renovations 

In its latest Kitchen Trends Study, Houzz found that “nearly half of homeowners (47%) opt for a timeless design as a sustainable choice during renovations.” Respondents cited long-term cost-effectiveness and environmental consciousness as their main motivators.15

 

In a rapidly changing, technology-driven world, it’s no surprise that homeowners want a nurturing space with lasting appeal—especially if they plan to stay in their homes for years to come.14

 

Traditional materials and quality craftsmanship lie at the core of timeless design, which some designers are calling “quiet luxury.”16 Think of enduring classics, like hardwood floors, hand-crafted tiles, and marble countertops.14 A timeless colour palette will also often include warm neutrals and muted shades of blue and green.17

 

If you’re thinking about remodelling, it’s wise to incorporate as many classic elements as you can. These stylistic choices tend to hold up well over time, which can prolong the life of your investment and make it easier to sell your home down the road. If you’d like advice on an upcoming project, contact us for a free consultation.

 

BEAUTIFY YOUR HOME WHILE BOOSTING ITS VALUE

If you’re thinking about making design changes—whether that’s repainting or a full remodel—it’s important to be informed about how your choices could impact your home’s resale potential. Buyer preferences can vary significantly based on your home’s neighbourhood and price point. Before you begin your project, reach out to discuss your plans and how they could impact the value of your home.

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. HGTV - https://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/design-101/2024-home-and-garden-design-trends
  2. The Spruce - https://www.thespruce.com/2024-design-trends-8411457
  3. The Spruce - https://www.thespruce.com/2024-bathroom-design-trends-8380169
  4. Calgary Real Estate Board - https://www.creb.com/News/CREBNow/2024/January/interior_design_trends_2024/
  5. Homes and Gardens - https://www.homesandgardens.com/interior-design/maximalist-decor-ideas
  6. The Spruce - https://www.thespruce.com/japandi-design-4782478
  7. House Beautiful - https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/a45851530/japandi-interior-design-style/
  8. The Spruce - https://www.thespruce.com/4-rules-designers-say-you-should-follow-or-ignore-when-mixing-metals-in-a-room-5199031
  9. The Spruce - https://www.thespruce.com/2024-lighting-trends-8365056
  10. Toronto Sun - https://torontosun.com/life/homes/2024-trends-youll-see-everywhere
  11. Good Housekeeping - https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/a45576463/wood-kitchen-cabinet-trend-2023/
  12. Better Homes and Gardens - https://www.bhg.com/2024-kitchen-trends-840656
  13. Houzz - https://www.houzz.com/magazine/10-kitchen-trends-to-watch-in-layouts-features-and-more-stsetivw-vs~165050822
  14. Houzz - https://www.houzz.com/magazine/28-home-design-trends-that-will-define-2024-stsetivw-vs~172317389
  15. Houzz - https://www.houzz.com/magazine/2023-u-s-houzz-kitchen-trends-study-stsetivw-vs~164970160
  16. Better Homes and Gardens - https://www.bhg.com/quiet-luxury-home-trend-7554026

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Real Estate Market Forecast: Opportunities for Home Buyers and Sellers in 2024

2. January 2024 06:58

 

Home buyers surprised everyone last spring when they shook off higher borrowing costs and showed up to new home sales in droves. The surge in competition for a still-limited pool of properties helped home prices pop and renewed sellers' confidence in their ability to get top dollar for a home. But experts caution that the 2024 housing market could unfold quite differently, especially if Canada's economy experiences another dip later this year.1

 

Ever since the Bank of Canada hiked interest rates last summer, home sales have dropped in many areas as buyers and sellers alike struggle to close deals.2 Canada’s economy has also softened, prompting some home buyers to move forward more cautiously.3 But with the Bank of Canada now widely expected to cut rates in the spring, competition could reheat quickly.4

 

Not every neighbourhood is cooling at the same rate either, making the familiar adage that “all real estate is local” especially relevant.5 With a market this fluid, the home buyers and sellers with an edge will be those who proactively leverage a real estate agent’s on-the-ground expertise and stay flexible so that they can quickly adapt to hyper-local changes.

 

What does that mean for you? Read on to learn more about the current state of the Canadian housing market, the potential opportunities for buyers and sellers, and economists’ predictions for the coming year.

 

MORTGAGE RATES MAY DROP SOONER THAN EXPECTED

The best news we've got incoming for 2024? The extra high mortgage rates that have weighed heavily on Canadian real estate for some time may finally be headed south.

 

Citing a global economic slowdown and improving inflation, policymakers at the Bank of Canada opted to leave the central bank's key rate unchanged in December after pushing rates to a 22-year high last summer.6 The feds cautioned that another rate hike was still possible in 2024. But now that Canada's economy is slowing down, market watchers widely predict that the central bank is more likely to cut rates instead—possibly as soon as March.7

 

Fixed mortgage rates could slide even more quickly. Market expectations have a big impact on bond yields. So, if traders expect a rate cut from the feds, bond yields are likely to drop even further. “It's all about expectations,” said Ratehub CEO James Laird to Global News.8

 

Already, the bond market has cooled significantly since autumn. As a result, Canadians with great credit may now be able to secure rates closer to 5% than 6%—and possibly even lower.9

 

If rates fall as expected, that could have an energizing effect on the housing market. As mortgage expert Clay Jarvis told Nerdwallet in 2023: “If fixed rates dip below 5% next year—and we’re not in a full-blown recession—it’s likely Canadians will return to the market fairly enthusiastically. The pent-up demand and FOMO will be too strong for many to resist.”10

 

What does it mean for you?If you're a prospective home buyer, declining mortgage rates could give you the opening you've been waiting for to purchase a home with a more affordable monthly payment. And if you buy before the market reheats, you could secure an especially good deal. To find the lowest rate, it pays to compare lenders. Ask us to refer you to a mortgage broker who can negotiate a competitive mortgage rate.

 

Sellers also have reason to celebrate buyers' lower interest rates: As the barriers for entry to the housing market decline, sellers could enjoy more or better offers. Reach out to discuss how we can help you maximize your home’s sales potential.

 

DESPITE LOWER RATES, A WEAKENING ECONOMY COULD CHILL DEMAND

As pent-up demand continues to build, surveys show that Canadians are still deeply interested in real estate. For example, a recent survey by Dye and Durham found that a growing number of Canadians are thinking seriously about buying a home in 2024.11

 

But with interest rates so high, buyers with typical household incomes often need either a substantial amount of cash saved or a lot of home equity to buy at today's prices. And the softening economy may be shaking buyers' confidence. According to the Conference Board of Canada, Canadians are feeling more pessimistic about their employment and finances.12

 

Meanwhile, many home sellers remain stuck in the recent past and are slow to let go of outdated prices. As a result, home buyers and sellers in many regions are locked in a persistent stalemate and the volume of home sales has dropped considerably.5

 

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), new listings are now outpacing purchases in some of the country's biggest housing markets as market loosening spreads.13 However, the softening is uneven, with some areas still highly competitive.5

 

As rates continue falling, experts predict that demand for housing will increase, helping fuel a tighter market. But a slowdown in Canada's economy could complicate that scenario. “We now think that most major markets will experience softer sales and prices through the spring months, as weakness has spread significantly,” forecast economists at Desjardins.14

 

What does it mean for you? The days of easy home sales with minimal, if any, prep work are long gone––at least until the market rebounds. Instead, home sales are more likely to take some legwork and planning to stand out from the competition. We can help you maximize your home’s appeal to attract serious buyers.

Home buyers, on the other hand, will have a distinct advantage in the coming months––especially if they jump into the market early while competition is limited. Call us for a consultation so we can help you plot your strategy.

 

HOME PRICES WILL FACE HEADWINDS, BUT MAY CLIMB WITH LOWER RATES

Home buyers who have faced both persistently high prices and historically high rates may finally get a much-needed break this year.

 

With Canada's economy cooling, experts are now actively revising their pricing forecasts. For example, economists at TD predicted in November that home prices would drop 10% in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the third quarter of 2023––twice what they had previously forecast.15

 

As sales dwindle, the home buyers who are still around “are taking advantage of their stronger bargaining position,” said economists from RBC. “They’ve successfully extracted price concessions from sellers.” As a result, the MLS Home Price Index is slipping.16

 

Analysts still expect home prices to remain higher than they were before the pandemic. However, fewer sales amid rising levels of inventory could dampen prices in some regions.16 In fact, eagle-eyed home buyers may find the best bargains in previously hot neighbourhoods that had overheated amid frenzied competition.

 

But with Canada’s historic supply crunch still ever-present, home buyers who wait too long to score a deal could wind up settling for a bigger mortgage in the future. As CIBC's Tal put it: “A year to two years from now when things will be back to normal—and they will be back to normal, with one million newcomers and non-permanent residents—guess what will happen? The supply will not be there, the demand will be there. The market will be crazy.”17

 

What does it mean for you? Homeowners with a property to sell may want to put it on the market sooner than later while there are relatively few homes for sale. We can help you chart the best course to maximize your profits, starting with a professional assessment of your home’s current market value. Reach out to schedule a free consultation.

 

Meanwhile, savvy buyers with an eye for opportunity will be thrilled to know that the affordability challenges that have made home buying so difficult are expected to ease significantly. In fact, there could be a brief window when mortgage rates and home prices are both on the decline, giving home buyers who are ready to pounce a rare opportunity. Contact us if you’re ready to begin your home search.

 

BUYERS SHO ULD HAVE MORE CHOICES, BUT A SUPPLY SHORTAGE WILL PERSIST

Home buyers who are eager for options should have more homes to choose from this year than they did in 2023. The share of existing homes for sale is already up in many regions as new listings outpace purchases, and more inventory could be added to the market in the coming months.13

 

Many sellers out there have been sitting on the sidelines, waiting for rates to fall or for the market to pick up. If a greater share of those sellers decide they can no longer wait, the number of resale homes on offer could quickly increase.

 

In addition, a growing number of Canadian mortgage holders are expected to experience some payment shock in the coming year as they renew with rates that are several points above their current rates.1 If more homeowners then default on their loans or choose to list because they can no longer afford their monthly payments, that could also lead to an uptick in homes for sale.

 

But given Canada's severe housing supply crunch, the chances of a market oversaturation are low. As economists at TD Bank note: “Canada could be short over 300,000 housing units from 2023-2025 as population growth collides with a slower pace of homebuilding.”18

 

​​What does it mean for you? With the market cooling this winter, there's more supply opening up. In the short term, buyers who can afford to jump quickly should benefit from this winter's temporary buyer's market. Contact us to discuss your goals and budget, and we can help you make an informed decision about the right time to buy.

 

While sellers will continue to benefit from the overall supply shortage, they should be prepared for increased competition. We can help you prep your property for the market and highlight the features most likely to appeal to today’s buyers.

 

WE'RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU

While national real estate forecasts can give you a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we know what's most likely to impact sales and drive home values in your neighbourhood. As a trusted partner in your real estate journey, we'll keep our ears to the ground so that we can guide you through the market's twists and turns.

 

If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2024, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. Let’s work together and craft an action plan to meet your real estate goals.

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. Financial Post - https://financialpost.com/news/economy/canada-mortgage-math-means-crisis-looming
  2. Financial Post - https://financialpost.com/news/canada-housing-market-sales-prices-fall-further
  3. Global News - https://globalnews.ca/news/10068567/statistics-canada-jobs-report-oct-2023/
  4. Canadian Mortgage Trends -https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2023/12/bank-of-canada-preview-rate-hold-expected-as-attention-shifts-to-rate-cuts/
  5. Global News - https://globalnews.ca/news/10098594/canada-housing-market-home-sellers-fall-2023/
  6. Bank of Canada - https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2023/12/fad-press-release-2023-12-06/
  7. The Globe and Mail - https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-bank-of-canada-interest-rate-live-december/
  8. Global News - https://globalnews.ca/news/10142334/bond-yields-canada-mortgage-interest-rates/
  9. Canadian Mortgage Trends -https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2023/12/mortgage-rates-under-5-theyre-coming-back-as-lenders-slash-fixed-rates/
  10. Nerdwallet - https://www.nerdwallet.com/ca/personal-finance/financial-trends-that-could-shape-2024
  11. Dye and Durham -https://dyedurham.ca/new-data-shows-canadians-remain-concerned-about-looming-recession/
  12. Conference Board of Canada -https://www.conferenceboard.ca/focus-areas/canadian-economics/housing-market-update/
  13. CREA -https://www.crea.ca/media-hub/news/canadian-home-sales-see-downward-trend-continue-in-october/
  14. Desjardins - https://www.desjardins.com/en/savings-investment/economic-studies/canada-housing-outlook-nov-2023.html
  15. Global News - https://globalnews.ca/news/10110607/canada-real-estate-td-housing-price-forecast/
  16. RBC - https://thoughtleadership.rbc.com/ontario-leads-canadas-housing-market-cooldown/
  17. RENX - https://renx.ca/interest-rates-are-coming-down-soon-benjamin-tal
  18. TD Economics - https://stories.td.com/ca/en/article/canada-housing-supply

 

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Celebrate Sustainably: 5 Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Holiday at Home

6. December 2023 11:12

It's the most wonderful time of the year. But for many families with festive plans and hectic schedules, it's also the most wasteful.

 

According to one survey, for example, 60% of respondents admitted to throwing away more than usual during the holiday months as they filled up their trash bins with uneaten food, wrapping paper, gift bags, and commercial packaging.1

 

The reality is, Canadians routinely toss about 25% more trash during the holidays, according to Zero Waste Canada.2 In fact, we throw away so much wrapping paper that the waste, combined with castoff shopping bags, is estimated to weigh as much as 100,000 elephants.2,3

 

As our holiday schedules grow busier, many of us also forget to take simple steps at home to shrink our carbon footprints or prepare for a more energy-efficient winter.

 

Luckily, it’s not that hard to shift our habits and plan for a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly celebration. Here are five ideas for ringing in the holidays this year without overstressing Mother Nature.

 

1. PREP YOUR HOME FOR WINTER

Depending on the amount of time and resources you have available, you could cut your carbon emissions significantly this season just by winterizing your home. According to Natural Resources Canada, around 61% of the average home's energy usage goes to heating.4

 

Investing in a more sustainable way to warm up your surroundings, such as a conventional or cold climate heat pump, could be especially impactful if your current HVAC is underperforming. The Canadian Climate Institute's Heat Pump Calculator estimates that homeowners can potentially save hundreds of dollars a year by switching from a gas furnace to a more energy-efficient heat pump.5 Replacing old appliances or things like chronically leaking windows with newer, more energy-efficient solutions can also save you money over the long term.6 Plus, you may qualify for a federal grant or loan to help fund certain upgrades.7

 

You don't necessarily have to spend a lot upfront, though, to prep your home for winter. Even simple tweaks—such as sealing windows and doors or upgrading to more energy-efficient window coverings—can lower your energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint.8

 

Incorporating environmentally healthier habits into your routine can also make a meaningful difference. For example, Natural Resources Canada recommends dialling back your thermostat to 17 C when you're sleeping or away and otherwise leaving it at 20 C.4

 

Consider an EnerGuide home evaluation to help you pinpoint what needs fixing and see if you qualify for a federal grant. An energy advisor registered with Natural Resources Canada will audit your home's energy efficiency and provide you with a report and score.9

 

2. DECORATE SUSTAINABLY

Decking your home's halls is one of the most jolly seasonal activities of all. There's something special about gathering 'round with friends and family and relaxing in the comforting glow of a festively decorated space.

 

But since so much of the holiday-themed decor that's sold in stores is notoriously disposable, it can be a challenge to spruce up your home sustainably. Cheaply produced and rarely recyclable, store-bought decorations are often made with plastic, styrofoam, and other environmentally unfriendly materials that can crowd landfills for generations.10

 

Luckily, you don't have to trade style for sustainability when making your holiday decor. Thrifting is still in vogue, so consider crafting new and on-trend decorations out of secondhand finds or upcycling items already in your closet.

 

For example, you could transform an ill-fitting sweater into a holiday-themed pillow, turn teacups into candles, or turn leftover shipping boxes into creative decorations. Alternatively, natural decor foraged from your yard—such as dried leaves, flowers, pine cones, and branches—can make for especially beautiful wreaths and centrepieces.

 

If you do purchase store-bought decor, proactively look for the most environmentally friendly options. LED lights are now ubiquitous in stores and use far less energy than incandescent versions.11 Similarly, if you celebrate with a Christmas tree, think twice about choosing an artificial option. Plastic trees may be reusable, but natural trees are generally thought to have a smaller carbon footprint.2

 

3. CUT BACK ON HOLIDAY SHOPPING

Shopping online or at the mall may be convenient, but it can be costly for the environment. The greenhouse emissions from shipping and transportation alone add up fast, as do the emissions that are produced when an item is first made. According to the online consignment and thrift store, thredUp, around 4.5 billion pounds of carbon emissions could be saved if every consumer bought just one used item instead of new this year.12

 

Splurging on brand-new products also makes it more likely that the gently used but still functional items that you've got at home will wind up in the trash.

 

Rather than buy new, check vintage stores and consignment shops for unique gifts that you and your recipient can both feel good about. According to research by thredUp, most people are open to receiving gently-used presents, especially if they're socially-conscious members of Gen Z.12 In fact, research by Value Village found that at least 80% of Gen Z members in Canada and the U.S. have already bought second-hand clothing.13 Alternatively, consider regifting items that you haven't used, upcycling something you own, or try crafting gifts by hand.

 

Giving away special experiences, such as concert tickets or community memberships, may also be a more eco-friendly option. So is donating to a favourite charity in a gift recipient's name or offering gifts of time, such as promising to help a loved one clean out their garage or fill their freezer with home-cooked meals.

 

Research shows that gift recipients often value thoughtful gifts with sentimental value, especially if they're homemade or nostalgic or will provide them with a unique experience.14

 

And if you prefer to buy something tangible, look to local businesses that source or manufacture their goods nearby. Craft fairs and community markets are a great place to start. Or, give us a call and we’d be happy to share a list of our favourite local stores, depending on the type of gift and your budget. We make an effort to patronize the independently-owned shops and restaurants around town and would love to share our recommendations.

 

4. GREEN YOUR HOLIDAY DINNER

Do you hail from a family of passionate carnivores? If so, trading your meat for a vegetarian option may seem like a step too far—especially for a holiday dinner.

 

But swapping your meat for beans isn't the only way to “'green” your holiday meal. For example, you can consciously source your meat from ethical sellers, prioritize local producers for seasonal sides, and serve enough filling vegetables to satisfy a large portion of your appetite.

 

You can also minimize food waste by planning ahead so that you don't cook more than necessary. According to MoneySense, the average Canadian family of four tosses roughly 10% of their groceries in the trash, adding up to hundreds of dollars in wasted spending.15 To avoid buying more than necessary and throwing out good food too soon, check out Good Harvest's Still Good to Eat Guide.16 The Natural Resources Defense Council's dinner party “Guest-Imator” can also help you narrow down how much food you and your guests will actually need.17

 

Once you're finished eating, clear the table immediately and either freeze the leftovers you'd like to keep or send guests home with reusable containers. Or, if you have untouched food that's still whole or in unopened packaging, take it to a local food bank or homeless shelter. We’d be happy to share a list of options in our area.

 

5. DONATE OR RECYCLE WHAT YOU CAN

Once the festivities are over, the real work on behalf of Mother Nature begins. This is the time when taking a few minutes at the end of your holiday celebration to swiftly collect wrapping paper and ribbons, unwanted packaging, and other discarded items can make a real environmental difference by reducing what you send to landfills. Your goal should be to reuse what you can and compost or recycle what's left over.

 

For example, if you upgrade any electronic gadgets over the holidays, you can conserve resources and limit pollution by donating or properly recycling your old versions. According to researchers at the University of Waterloo, the average Canadian generates about 25.3 kg of e-waste every year, including discarded cell phones, laptops, and appliances.18 But you can help trim that number by repairing or refurbishing products instead.

 

It can also help to reimagine new ways to make old traditions more eco-friendly. For instance, if lighting candles is part of your holiday celebration, consider choosing beeswax candles this year instead of the typical paraffin wax, which is a petroleum derivative. Not only are they cleaner burning and less toxic, but the leftover wax is biodegradable and can be composted, unlike traditional candle wax.19

 

There are also plenty of earth-friendly ways to dispose of a natural Christmas tree without kicking it to the curb. Trees that are sent to landfills release a potent greenhouse gas called methane.2 So, it’s important to properly dispose of a live tree, if you have one, so it can be recycled or composted. If you’re not sure how, reach out for a list of local options.

 

BOTTOMLINE

We can still celebrate a fun and festive season without draining our community’s resources or sending leftovers to the landfill. And remember, we’re here to lend a helping hand, now or in the new year. This is the perfect time to strategize your next move or set some real estate resolutions with personalized guidance from an expert. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation.

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. Eco Watch - https://www.ecowatch.com/sustainable-decor-winter-holidays.html
  2. CBC - https://www.cbc.ca/radio/whatonearth/holidays-recycling-christmas-tree-composting-1.6688865
  3. Global News - https://globalnews.ca/news/6229467/we-toss-540k-tonnes-of-wrapping-paper-after-the-holidays-heres-how-to-give-without-the-garbage/
  4. Natural Resources Canada - https://natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-efficiency/spotlight-energy-efficiency/2020/11/05/winter-coming-top-tips-heat-your-home-for-less/23141
  5. Canadian Climate Institute - https://heatpumpcalculator.ca/
  6. Natural Resources Canada - https://natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-efficiency/homes/make-small-changes-add/21850
  7. Natural Resources Canada - https://natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-efficiency/homes/canada-greener-homes-initiative/24831
  8. Canadian Geographic - https://canadiangeographic.ca/articles/keeping-the-heat-in-and-the-cold-out-live-net-zero-families-take-on-home-envelope-challenge/
  9. Natural Resources Canada - https://natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-efficiency/energuide/energuide-energy-efficiency-home-evaluations/after-your-energuide-home-evaluation/20572
  10. Architectural Digest - https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/best-holiday-and-seasonal-decor-for-the-environment
  11. Statistics Canada - https://www.statcan.gc.ca/o1/en/plus/2605-northern-electric-lights-stats-brighten-your-day-and-night
  12. ThredUp - https://newsroom.thredup.com/news/thredup-releases-thrift-for-the-holidays-report-revealing-that-new-waves-of-consumers-are-planning-to-gift-secondhand-this-year
  13. BNN Bloomberg - https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/pre-loved-doesn-t-mean-second-best-young-canadians-thrift-holiday-gifts-1.1858787
  14. The Conversation - https://theconversation.com/the-4-biggest-gift-giving-mistakes-according-to-a-consumer-psychologist-195169
  15. MoneySense - https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/shopping/how-to-keep-food-costs-down-watch-for-food-waste/
  16. Good Harvest - https://www.secondharvest.ca/resources/still-good-to-eat
  17. Natural Resources Defense Council - https://savethefood.com/guestimator
  18. University of Waterloo - https://uwaterloo.ca/news/media/canadian-e-waste-has-tripled-new-study-finds
  19. CanICompostIt.com - https://canicompostit.com/candle-wax/

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35 Tips to Furnish Your New Home for Less

3. November 2023 04:56

Buying a new home is one of the most exciting experiences in life. And if you’re like most homebuyers, you’ll be planning your furniture placement and decor before the ink dries on your offer letter.

But before you run to the nearest home goods store, take a deep breath. First, you’ll need to delay any major purchases before you close on your new home. A large outlay or additional line of credit could affect your credit rating and, thus, impact your mortgage terms.1 Second, moving and closing costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to be strategic with your remaining budget.

But don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to save on home essentials, and we’ve rounded up some of our favourites to share with you.

 

PRIORITIZE WHAT YOU REALLY NEED BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING

According to the nonprofit Furniture Bank, you could spend around $8,300 to outfit a one-bedroom apartment with the essentials, and the costs only go up from there for larger homes and higher-end items.2 That’s why we recommend starting with a thorough assessment of what you already have and what you actually need to start life in your new place. Here are some steps to help you prioritize your purchases and keep spending in check.

 

  • Make a list of everything you need. Going room by room could help you brainstorm—for example, you might list items ranging from a mattress to blackout curtains for your new primary bedroom.

 

  • Inventory what you already have. Cross the big (dining table) to the small (kitchen knives) off your list as you go.

 

  • Divide the remaining items into three groups: things you need right away (a mattress), items you’d like to have in the near future (a coffee table for your living room), and pieces that can wait (an area rug).

 

  • Calculate your budget. Figure out how much money you’ll have available for immediate purchases after the sale has closed, and start researching the items on your priority list to understand how they’ll fit into your budget.

 

  • Don’t rush the process. Bringing older items to your new space doesn’t mean you need to keep them forever. Consider hanging onto pieces that can tide you over for a year or two until your bank account has recovered from the costs of a home purchase.

 

Before you start shopping, make sure you know which appliances and fixtures are included with your home purchase. We can inform you of the standard contract terms when you’re making an initial offer and note any additional items that you would like to request.

 

TIME YOUR PURCHASES TO MAKE THE MOST OF SEASONAL SALES

Did you know that some home items predictably go on sale at certain times of the year? If you can wait to buy these pieces when prices are lower, you could save significantly. Here are some of the best times to buy household essentials:3

  • Carpeting: January
  • Indoor furniture: January and July
  • Linens: January
  • TVs and home theatres: February and November
  • Appliances: May and September
  • Office furniture: May
  • Mattresses: May
  • Tools: June
  • Flatware and dishes: June
  • Outdoor furniture: September
  • Electronics: November

Generally speaking, holiday weekends (as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday) tend to be great times to find deals. If the item you’re looking for is seasonal—like patio furniture or holiday decorations—waiting until the end of that season usually pays off.

 

FIND ALTERNATIVE SHOPPING SOURCES

Can’t wait for a sale? It’s time to think outside of the box (the big-box stores, that is). There are plenty of surprising places to find great furniture and houseware deals.

 

  • Check out overstock and liquidation stores. These stores purchase items other retailers haven’t sold and offer them at a steep discount. The inventory can be hit or miss, but you can often get a great deal if you find what you’re looking for.4

 

  • Try private membership/warehouse stores. These retailers often have great deals on home goods. If you’re not already a member, ask family or friends if they are willing to take you to look around before you commit.

 

  • Consider open-box items. When buyers return items like furniture or electronics, retailers can’t always sell them as new, even if they haven’t truly been used. Look online for open-box deals from retailers like Wayfair and Amazon Warehouse or visit local retailers to see what they have in stock.

 

  • Give scratch-and-dent appliances a chance. These appliances are brand new but sold at deep discounts because their external packaging was damaged. Typically, this means that flaws are purely cosmetic—but it’s always possible that the merchandise has suffered more serious damage. So, be sure to check out the appliances carefully and ask about included warranties.5

 

  • Expand your window treatment search. Window treatments can be surprisingly expensive, but it’s often possible to save by buying off-the-shelf offerings in standard sizes. If you need a custom size or material, consider ordering online from a discount supplier and installing them yourself.

 

  • Shop secondhand. In addition to thrift stores and garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, and Kijiji are all great places to find deals in your area.

 

Are alternative shopping sources still a stretch for your budget? Check out local Freecycle or “Buy Nothing” groups, which are often hosted on Facebook. Participants offer big and small items they no longer need—everything from furniture to clothing hangers—for free to other members.6,7

 

DON’T BE AFRAID TO NEGOTIATE FOR A BETTER DEAL

Many people don’t realize that prices for home goods, from furniture to appliances, are often negotiable. While asking for a discount can be intimidating, it’s common practice in many industries, although more so at independently-owned stores than chains. Here are a few tips:8,9

 

  • Comparison shop before you walk into a store. If you can find a lower price for the same item elsewhere, many retailers will match it.

 

  • Ask the store associate or manager for the best price available. They may be able to offer additional discounts or coupons.

 

  • If you can pay in cash, ask if you can get a discount for doing so. The seller may be happy to offer a small price reduction to avoid paying processor fees.

 

  • Call ahead to ask about applicable discounts. Some retailers offer price reductions for active military, veterans, teachers, first responders, or senior citizens on certain days or times of the year.

 

  • Point out scratches or dings to the sales associate. They may be willing to offer a discount to compensate for the imperfection.

 

  • Ask about floor models. Many stores offer these pieces at a lower price, even if they’re in like-new condition.

 

After you’ve negotiated a killer deal, don’t forget to ask for free or discounted delivery! Sometimes furniture and appliance stores will offer complimentary delivery or installation if you spend a certain amount or purchase multiple items.

 

MAKE THE MOST OF REWARD PROGRAMS AND COUPONS

Every penny counts when you’re on a budget—and spending a little extra time maximizing reward programs and discounts is usually worthwhile.

  • Make sure you never miss a sale. Sign up for your favourite retailers’ email lists and follow them on social media for discounts and sale alerts.
  • Take advantage of loyalty programs. If you’re making a big purchase or getting multiple items from one store, ask about free loyalty programs. Signing up often comes with an introductory coupon.
  • Consider store credit cards (carefully). Store credit cards can offer significant discounts—but only charge items you can pay off right away to avoid interest, and never open new lines of credit until your home purchase is complete, since it can affect your credit score.
  • Enroll in coupon and cashback programs. When you’re shopping online, programs like Rakuten and Great Canadian Rebates can help you find coupon codes and give you cash back on purchases.

While you’re at it, why not set up a housewarming registry?10 You can share the link with family and friends if they ask what you need—and you can also use it to score discounts. Many stores offer a percentage off to help you buy unpurchased items on your registry.

 

GET CREATIVE

If you want to avoid a cookie-cutter home aesthetic—and save a few bucks—try reimagining your existing furniture and how it could fit into your new space. Here are a few of our favourite strategies.

 

  • Repurpose what you have. Instead of buying a new item to fit a specific purpose, ask yourself if you can use what you have in a different way. For example, repurpose an old dresser as a television stand or use a mismatched dining chair in your home office.

 

  • Upgrade existing items. Sometimes, a new coat of paint or varnish, or simply swapping out drawer pulls and handles, can lend a new lease on life to an old piece of furniture. You can also keep this strategy in mind if you see second-hand items that would be just right if they were a different colour or had nicer fixtures.

 

  • Reupholster instead of buying new. If you have a tired-looking sofa or chair that’s still comfortable and stable, think about getting it reupholstered in new fabric instead of replacing it.

 

  • Get handy. Building furniture is certainly not for everyone, but with some basic tools and help from the internet, you may find that simple items like headboards are well within your grasp. You might also be able to repair pieces you already have and avoid shopping altogether.

 

Do-it-yourself projects can be fun, but they aren’t for everyone. If you’d like some professional help, reach out for a list of our recommended service providers.

 

WE’RE HERE TO HELP

We know budgeting for a new home can be overwhelming, and we want to make the process easier for you. If you’re considering a home purchase, we can advise you on a realistic budget and help you review your options. We can also offer insights on other financial considerations and programs and incentives that can help make homeownership more attainable. Reach out for a free consultation.

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. Financial Consumer Agency of Canada - https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/improve-credit-score.html
  2. Furniture Bank - https://www.furniturebank.org/how-much-does-it-cost-to-furnish-an-apartment/
  3. Global News - https://globalnews.ca/news/3973885/buy-stuff-on-sale-canada/
  4. Business Insider - https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/strategies-to-save-money-on-furniture-for-my-new-home?r=US&IR=T
  5. CNET - https://www.cnet.com/home/kitchen-and-household/buy-scratch-and-dent-appliances/
  6. Global News - https://globalnews.ca/news/9298486/buy-nothing-groups-canada/
  7. Freecycle - https://www.freecycle.org/
  8. Consumer Reports - https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/08/how-to-bargain/index.htm
  9. Realtor.com - https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/furniture-stores-money-saving-tricks/
  10. Taste of Home - https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/housewarming-registry/

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Income Properties Are Trending, But Is Landlord Life for You?

4. October 2023 06:39

If the thought of investing your money into brick and mortar—or perhaps some stylishly-painted siding—excites you, join the club.

Investing in real estate has long been one of Canadians' favourite ways to grow their wealth. According to a poll by CIBC, 15% of Canadian homeowners already earn some rental income, while another 11% aspire to it. What's more, over a third of current homeowners (37%) say they'd look for a property with income potential if they were buying a new home.1

Baby boomers over the age of 55 are especially likely to own an income property these days.2 But according to Statistics Canada, a growing share of millennials in their 30s and 40s have also cashed in on the real estate investment trend.3 The Bank of Canada estimates that at least 20% of newly purchased homes are now owned by individual investors, up from 18% in 2015.4

Canadians have historically embraced real estate, in part, because of the strong return on investment it can offer—especially to investors willing to stick with a property over time. It's also a popular way to hedge against inflation since both rental income and property values tend to rise in tandem with overall prices.5

But how do you know if you’re well-suited to take advantage of real estate investment opportunities? Here are three signs that owning a rental property could be right for you.

 

  1. YOU'RE A HOMEBUYER WHO WANTS HELP COVERING THE MORTGAGE

 

If you're looking for a creative way to buy a home without overspending, “house hacking” could be the answer. Increasingly popular with first-time homebuyers and budget-conscious investors, house hacking simply means buying a home that you intend to live in while renting out a portion of it to one or more tenants.6

In addition to padding your monthly income, buying a home with a self-contained income suite can make it easier for you to qualify for a mortgage. If a secondary dwelling is move-in ready, a lender may be willing to add half of the rental payments you can plausibly collect from future tenants to your qualifying income, making it easier to pass the mortgage stress test.7

House hacking also tends to be simpler to break into than traditional real estate investing since you don't need as large a down payment to qualify for a mortgage. For example, if you buy a home you only intend to rent, you'll need to put down at least 20%, regardless of whether or not your mortgage is insured. But if you intend to move into the property yourself and only rent out a part of it, you can put down as little as 5%.7 Plus, your mortgage rate will be lower and you may still qualify for a principal residence exemption for some or all of the home if you later sell it.7 8

When it's time to start your search, we can help you find a property that's ideal for house hacking, such as a house with a walkout basement, a multifamily unit, or a home with enough outdoor space to build a laneway or garden suite.

 

  1. YOU'RE AN INVESTOR LOOKING FOR STEADY AND RELIABLE INCOME

If you’re not crazy about the idea of a live-in tenant but still desire an additional stream of income, a dedicated long-term rental property could be a better option for you. Besides the monthly proceeds, purchasing a rental home can also add diversity and long-term stability to your investment portfolio and help you build wealth over time.9

According to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association, real estate owners have historically prospered. In early 2020, for example, the average home price was 120% higher than just 15 years prior. Then, during the pandemic-era real estate boom, average home prices grew at an especially frenzied clip, climbing by more than 60% in less than two years.10

However, the rate of appreciation can be hard to predict, so it’s prudent to invest in a property that also offers positive cash flow, which means the rent you take in exceeds your expenses. This strategy helps to ensure that you’ll put money in your pocket each month, even if the property’s value takes time to grow.

While today’s higher mortgage rates can make it more challenging for landlords to turn a profit, a tighter rental market also means you can demand higher rents. Turnover on your rental unit may also be lower as many would-be buyers remain priced out of the purchase market.9

Plus, research by Statistics Canada suggests that many landlords now earn significantly more than they once did. In 2020, for example, more than 76 percent of independent landlords reported earning more rental income that year than they spent on upkeep, taxes, mortgage payments, and other annual expenses. That's up from 63 percent in 2008.3

If you want to explore opportunities for a residential rental property that's good for your wallet and attractive to renters, we can help.

 

  1. YOU'RE AN EXPERIENCED INVESTOR LOOKING TO MAXIMIZE YOUR POTENTIAL RETURNS

Another increasingly popular way to draw income from an investment property is to convert it to a short-term vacation rental. But beware: This strategy can be riskier as some municipalities have tightened rental restrictions and others are suffering from market oversaturation.11

With that said, if you're an experienced investor who can afford to take on some uncertainty, then investing in a short-term rental could make sense for you.

If you find the right property, for example, you could earn significantly more renting it short-term on a platform like Airbnb than if you rented the home to a long-term tenant.12

The key is to keep it occupied as much as possible at a premium nightly rate. To do that, you’ll need some marketing savvy, hospitality skills, and business acumen. Of course, you can always hire a professional property manager, but you’ll need to factor the cost into your budget.

Vacation rentals have boomed in recent years, and some inexperienced investors are finding they bit off more than they can chew.13 As a result, there's an opportunity to snap up some of these properties, but you'll need some cash on hand and a willingness to learn the business.

We can help you scout opportunities in our local market or, if you’re interested in investing in another area, we can refer you to an agent there for assistance.

 

BOTTOMLINE

Investing in real estate can be a great way to build your wealth long-term and earn some extra income. But to make the most of your investment, it pays to be strategic.

Call us for a consultation so we can discuss your goals and budget. We'll help you discover neighbourhoods with the best income potential, point out the homes most suited to renting, and help you brainstorm the best investment strategy for you.

 

 

Before you take the plunge, make sure you can answer “YES”
to these three questions:

 

 1. Are you ready to be a landlord?

 

Owning a rental property can take a lot of time and energy. You're not just buying passive income, you're also building sweat equity since the time you spend maintaining, marketing, and managing your rental can add up quickly. So be prepared to do some soul-searching to ensure you’ll not only flourish as a landlord, but actually enjoy it.

 

If you want to invest in real estate but aren’t prepared to put in the day-to-day effort required, we can refer you to a property management service for help.

 

2. Can you afford to invest in real estate?

 

The last thing you want is to get over-extended with your new real estate venture. Besides the cost of purchasing the property, you’ll need to consider additional expenses, like property taxes, insurance, administrative costs, and maintenance and repairs. You will also need a cash reserve for unexpected issues or potential vacancies.

We can help you run the numbers to determine if you can charge enough rent to offset your expenditures.

 

3. Have you found the right income property?

Even if you’ve got your finances in order and are emotionally ready to invest, your success as a landlord will also depend on the property you buy. The criteria for a good rental home and a good family home are often different, so it’s important to lean on professionals for advice.

We can help you find an ideal rental property, taking into account your budget, risk appetite, and investment goals. If you decide to invest in a different area, we'll connect you with an agent who's more plugged into that community. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation.

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources: 

  1. CIBC -https://www.cibc.com/content/dam/personal_banking/advice_centre/tax-savings/landlords-en.pdf
  2. Statistics Canada -https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/46-28-0001/2023001/article/00002-eng.htm
  3. Statistics Canada -https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/221102/dq221102b-eng.htm
  4. Bank of Canada -https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2022/01/staff-analytical-note-2022-1/#chart4
  5. Canadian Real Estate Magazine - https://www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca/news/the-relationship-between-inflation-and-real-estate-335369.aspx
  6. HGTV.ca -https://www.hgtv.ca/expert-tips-that-will-help-you-become-a-homeowner-before-40/
  7. Wowa.ca -https://wowa.ca/rental-property-mortgage
  8. CTV News - https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/selling-a-home-how-to-know-if-you-qualify-for-a-capital-gains-exemption-1.6249394
  9. MPA Magazine - ​​https://www.mpamag.com/ca/mortgage-industry/guides/real-estate-investing-in-canada-where-to-put-your-money/447803
  10. Canada Real Estate Association (CREA) -https://stats.crea.ca/en-CA/
  11. The Canadian Press -https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/more-canadians-turn-short-term-151015862.html
  12. TurboTax Canada - https://turbotax.intuit.ca/tips/the-ultimate-guide-to-the-tax-implications-of-renting-your-property-on-airbnb-14945
  13. Statistics Canada -https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-621-m/11-621-m2023008-eng.htm

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Top 7 Tips To Attract the Best Offers for Your Home

5. September 2023 06:30

 

 

Not long ago, home sellers were in their heyday, as historically-low mortgage rates triggered a real estate buying frenzy. However, the Bank of Canada shut down the party when it began raising interest rates last year.1

Now, it’s not as simple to sell a home. While pandemic-era homebuyers were racing the clock—trying to lock in a low mortgage rate and gain a foothold in the market—current buyers are much more discerning. Higher prices and mortgage rates have pushed their limits of affordability, leading them to prioritize cost, condition, and overall value.

The reality is, home inventory remains low, so most properties will still sell with some basic prep, the right price, and a good real estate agent. But owners who go the extra mile are more likely to sell faster and for a higher amount.

If you have plans to sell your home and want to net the most money possible, this list is for you. Here are our top seven strategies to attract the best offers and maximize your real estate returns.

 

  1. UNDERGO A PRE-LISTING INSPECTION

 

Many homebuyers hire a professional to complete a home inspection before they close. But did you know that a seller can order their own inspection, known as a pre-listing inspection, before they put their home on the market?

Having a pre-listing inspection on hand and ready to share shows interested buyers that you’re committed to a transparent transaction. This can help you market your home, strengthen your negotiating position, and minimize roadblocks to closing.2

Of course, it’s always possible that a pre-listing inspection—which looks at the home’s major systems and structures, among other things—could turn up a significant problem. This does carry some risk, as you’ll be required to either fix or disclose any issues to potential buyers. However, in most cases, it’s better to know about and address deficiencies upfront than to find out mid-transaction, when it could cost you more in the form of repair credits, a delayed closing, or a cancelled sale.

We can help you decide if a pre-listing inspection is right for you. And if it identifies any concerns, we can advise on which items need attention before you list your home.

 

  1. CONSIDER STRATEGIC UPGRADES

 

Embarking on major renovations before putting your home on the market doesn’t always make financial (or logistical) sense. However, certain upgrades are more likely to pay off and can help elevate your home in the eyes of buyers.

For example, new flooring can generate up to a 150% return on investment at resale and a countertop upgrade could pay for itself.Similarly, research shows landscaping features can increase a home’s value by up to 12%.4

Often, even simpler and less expensive fixes can make a big difference in how your home comes across to buyers. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour, modern light fixtures and hardware, and new caulk around the tub or shower can help your property look its best.

But before you make any changes to your home, reach out. We know what buyers in your neighbourhood are looking for and can help you decide if a particular investment is worthwhile.

 

  1. HIRE A HOME STAGER

 

To get standout offers, you need potential buyers to fall in love with your home—and they’re much more likely to do so if they can envision themselves in the space.

That’s where home staging comes in. Staging can include everything from decluttering and packing away personal items to bringing in neutral furniture and accessories for showings and open houses.

According to the U.S.-based National Association of Realtors, home staging can both increase the dollar value of home offers and help a property sell faster. In fact, 53% of seller’s agents agree that staging decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market, and 44% of buyer’s agents see higher offers for staged homes.5

There’s plenty of strategy and research behind the process, so it’s smart to consider a professional. Reach out for a connection to one of our recommended home stagers who can help your property show its full potential.

 

  1. EMPLOY A COMPETITIVE PRICING STRATEGY

 

While it’s tempting to list your property at the highest possible price, that approach can backfire. Homes that are overpriced tend to sit on the market, which can drive away potential buyers—and drive down offers.6

Alternatively, if you price your home competitively, which is either at or slightly below market value, it can be among the nicest that buyers see within their budgets. This can ultimately lead to a higher sales price and fewer concessions.

To help you list at the right price, we will do a comparative market analysis, or CMA. This integral piece of research will help us determine an ideal listing price based on the amount that comparable properties have recently sold for in your neighbourhood.

Without this data, you risk pricing your home too high (and getting no offers) or too low (and leaving money on the table). Combined with our local market insights, we’ll help you find that sweet spot that will attract the best offers while maximizing your profit margin.

 

  1. OFFER ALTERNATIVE FINANCING

 

Conventional mortgages, while widely used, may not be accessible to everyone. For example, higher mortgage rates and home prices have made it difficult for some homebuyers to pass the required mortgage stress test.

Consequently, certain alternatives, like vendor take-back (VTB) mortgages, are becoming increasingly popular.7 A VTB mortgage is a unique financing arrangement in which the seller of a property provides a loan to the buyer for all or a portion of the purchase price.

Buyers who don’t qualify for a traditional mortgage can be highly motivated to purchase from a seller offering a VTB loan. Sellers, consequently, can benefit too, by commanding a higher price or collecting more interest on their capital than they could from a standard investment. Depending on the seller's circumstances, there may also be certain tax advantages.8

It’s important to note, however, that there are risks involved. Therefore, both buyers and sellers should seek legal and financial advice before entering into a VTB mortgage agreement to ensure all aspects are properly structured and understood. If interested, we can refer you to the appropriate professionals for help.

 

  1. USE A PROVEN PROPERTY MARKETING PLAN

 

Gone are the days when it was enough to put a “for sale” sign in your yard and place a listing on the MLS. A strategic marketing plan is now essential to get your home in front of as many interested and qualified buyers as possible.

The truth is, buyers who don’t know about your house can’t make an offer. That’s why we utilize a multi-step approach to marketing that starts with identifying your target audience, effectively positioning your home in the market, and communicating its unique value. We then use a variety of distribution channels to connect with potential buyers and performance-based metrics to monitor and improve our campaign results.

Our proven approach can have a big impact on the success of your sale. Reach out to learn more about our multi-step marketing plan and discuss how we can use it to generate interest and offers for your home.

 

  1. WORK WITH AN AGENT WHO UNDERSTANDS YOUR AREA

 

To get the best offers possible, you need a real estate agent who knows your area inside and out.

Any agent can pull comparable sales data, but in a quickly-evolving market, even the latest comps can lag the current market reality. We have our fingers on the pulse of the local market because we’re working directly with sellers like you. We also represent local buyers who are active in the market, searching for homes like yours.

That puts us in an ideal position to help you price your home for a quick sale and maximum profit. And since we hear first-hand what local buyers want, we can help you prep your home to broaden its appeal and highlight its most-coveted features. Additionally, we can use our extensive network of local agents to solicit feedback and get your home in front of more potential buyers.

All of these factors can add up to a significant difference in your profit: According to a U.S.-based study, in 2021, the typical home sold by owner went for $225,000 compared to a median price of $330,000 for agent-assisted home sales.9

 

LET’S GET MOVING

Are you ready to get a great offer for your home? Our multifaceted approach can help you maximize your real estate returns. Reach out for a free home value assessment and customized sales plan to get started!

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1.  National Post -
    https://nationalpost.com/moneywise-pro/high-interest-rates-are-still-a-problem-for-potential-homebuyers-here-is-advice-for-navigating-the-real-estate-market
  2.  Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/prelisting-inspection/
  3.  RE/MAX Canada -
    https://blog.remax.ca/best-home-renovations-biggest-roi/
  4.  Journal of Real Estate Research -
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5142154_Landscaping_and_House_Values_An_Empirical_Investigation
  5.  National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/infographics/staged-for-success
  6.  The Balance -
  7. https://www.thebalancemoney.com/looking-twice-at-overpriced-homes-1798671
  8.  Real Estate Magazine -
  9. https://realestatemagazine.ca/the-return-of-the-vendor-take-back-mortgage/
  10. RE/MAX Canada -
    https://blog.remax.ca/how-to-take-advantage-of-the-vendor-take-back-mortgage/

National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/quick-real-estate-statistics

Tags:

7 Common Homebuyer Regrets (And How To Avoid Them)

14. August 2023 04:07

 

To avoid buyer's remorse, be sure to consider your future self when shopping for a home.

Most new homebuyers don't regret becoming homeowners. In fact, according to a recent survey by Zolo, 80% of Canadians who purchased a home during the pandemic say they're glad they bought their current homes.1 But that doesn't mean newly-minted homeowners don't have any regrets about their buying choices.

On the contrary, research shows that even the most-satisfied homeowners would change some aspects of their home purchase if given the opportunity.2 Some question their decision to move to a neighbourhood they still don't love. Others wish they had been less picky about where they lived so they could have paid less. Many are afraid they overspent or think they sacrificed too much in their rush to buy a home.

According to a new survey by Mortgage Professionals Canada, nearly 80% of Canadians still see real estate as a favourable long-term investment. But a growing number of Canadians also admit to being more financially stressed in the short-term due to lingering fallout from inflation.3

Here are some of the most common homebuyer regrets we see, along with our professional advice on how to avoid them.

 

REGRET #1: Spending More Than Necessary

No one wants to overpay for their new home purchase (and, luckily, with the right guidance, doing so is avoidable). But even if you've secured a winning purchase price, there are still plenty of ways to accidentally overspend.

One of the most common ways to overpay? Choose the wrong mortgage. In fact, in today's higher-rate environment, this can be one of the riskiest mistakes a new buyer can make.

According to another survey by Zolo, for example, 75% of Canadian homebuyers leave money on the table by not bothering to shop around for the best rate.4 Depending on your mortgage terms, this mistake alone could cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Many Canadians also put off learning more about their mortgage options and don't take the time to fully understand their loans. As a result, more than a third of survey respondents told researchers at TD Bank last year that they were “confused” about how rising rates would affect them.5

Lesson Learned: As long as you stick to what you can afford, buying a home can be a boon for your financial health. The longer you live in it, for example, the more your home is likely to appreciate in value and boost your long-term savings.

But to get the most value from your purchase, it's worth your time to compare financing options and shop around for the best deal. We also recommend getting a mortgage pre-approval before you start your home search so you know what's within reach. We can refer you to one of our trusted lending partners for help.

 

REGRET #2: Rushing Into a Home Purchase

In a competitive housing market, it's often necessary to act fast to secure a home. But don't let a need for speed tempt you into making an offer before you've thought through or fully vetted a new property.  

Rushing into a home purchase isn’t just risky, it's also one of the most commonly cited sources of homebuyer regret. According to a survey of U.S. homebuyers, for example, more than 1 in 4 felt remorse over how quickly they sped through the purchase process.2

Getting swept away by your emotions can also lead to buyer's remorse. If you've found a home you love and are competing with other buyers, it can be tempting to overlook key details or bid more than you can afford. That's one reason it helps to have a skilled professional by your side to calmly guide you through the process and ensure you act with reason, rather than emotion.

Lesson Learned:Buying a home is exciting. But if you don't keep your emotions in check or act too impulsively, you could make poor choices in the moment that are hard to undo later.

To avoid making last-minute decisions that could backfire, know what you want, what you need, and what you can afford before you start your home search. We can help you set priorities so you’ll be able to move forward with confidence when the time is right.

 

REGRET #3: Miscalculating the Costs of Homeownership

Though real estate is a great long-term investment, it can be pricey in the short-term, often surprising homeowners who aren't prepared for it. According to some estimates, for example, annual maintenance could cost as much as 1% or more of your home's purchase price.6 Some buyers also forget to factor in additional ownership expenses, such as property taxes, insurance, and repairs.

Failing to think through the costs of homeownership is one of the most common sources of homebuyer regret. According to the survey of U.S. homebuyers, for example, nearly half of the buyers who regret their purchase said they underestimated how much they would spend to live in it.2 Similarly, Zolo's March 2023 survey of Canadian homeowners found that nearly half of recent homebuyers didn't bother to create a budget before they bought their homes.4

 However, some homes cost more to live in and maintain than others. So even if you're certain that you can afford the average cost of homeownership, that doesn't necessarily mean that every home in your price range will fit neatly into your budget. For example, very old homes with unique maintenance requirements could be extra pricey to keep up. Similarly, homes with high condo fees or above-average utility bills could also eat into your monthly budget.

 Lesson Learned: A home should help you build your wealth, not drain it. So it's important to factor in all the potential costs of living in a home—not just obvious ones like your mortgage payment and taxes. To ensure you don't get overextended, add up your estimated maintenance and repair costs, as well as any miscellaneous expenses that are unique to a particular home.

 We can help you with these estimates—and, if needed, present you with some less-costly alternatives.

 

 REGRET #4: Underestimating the Time Required To Maintain or Renovate a Home

 One of the most joyful aspects of homeownership is getting to relax in a home that's all your own. But if a home is too high maintenance, then you may not have time to savour it.

 Many homeowners love to spend their weekends puttering in their gardens or undertaking home improvement projects. But if that's not you, then you may not like living in a home with a big yard or with high-maintenance features, like a pool.

 According to another survey of U.S. homebuyers, for example, 47% of buyers who feel some regret about their home purchase complain that too much maintenance and upkeep is required.7

 Similarly, buyers who purchase fixer-uppers are often surprised by how much time it takes to rehab their new homes. Although buying a fixer-upper is a great way to save on the purchase price, you could come to resent it if it eats up all your free time.

 Lesson Learned: Renovation and maintenance projects are often time-consuming and stressful. So beware of committing to a property that requires too much of your attention if you don't have the time or patience for it. With that said, home improvement projects can also bring a lot of joy and satisfaction to owners who like rolling up their sleeves.

 We can talk through the realities of homeownership with you and help you choose a property that will fit your personality and schedule.

 

 REGRET #5: Ignoring or Skipping a Home Inspection

 It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying a home. Sometimes, buyers will agree to skip a home inspection to sweeten their offer in a competitive market. In fact, according to Zolo's survey, only 36% of Canadian homebuyers hired a home inspector last year.4 However, if you skip out on a home inspection, you could come to regret it.

 When you hire a home inspector, you get a professional, in-depth examination of the property’s structures and systems before you buy it. It’s a worthwhile investment that can save you money in the long run, either by warning you away from a bad purchase or by providing a list of deficiencies you can use to negotiate with the sellers.

 But even the most thorough home inspection isn't going to be worth much if you don't take the time to carefully consider it. If at all possible, make sure you’re on-site during the inspection so you can observe and ask questions. And don’t forget to re-evaluate any repairs that the seller agrees to make to ensure they’ve been properly completed prior to closing.

 Lesson Learned:A home inspection can reduce your risk and save you money in the long run. But to maximize its effectiveness, you will need to be an active participant in the process.

 We’d be happy to share a list of experienced and trustworthy home inspectors in our area. And when the inspection report is complete, we can help you decide if the purchase is worthwhile and negotiate any relevant seller concessions and repairs.

 

 REGRET #6: Choosing a Home That Doesn't Fit

 Homeownership is often a better investment if you’re willing to stay put for at least five years.8 But if your newly purchased home isn’t a good fit, then you may not want to stick around that long.

 Many homeowner complaints come down to simple lifestyle issues: Although a mismatch may seem small at first, the problems can magnify if you make so many compromises that they interfere with your quality of life.

 Or, sometimes homebuyers can fall in love with a beautiful home and forget about practicalities. For example, a stunning kitchen can’t replace a needed bedroom or bathroom. And a sparkling pool may sit empty if the home requires a lengthy commute to your office.

 Make sure you set some guardrails during your home purchase so you don’t over-compromise or accidentally prioritize your wants over your needs.

 Lesson Learned: When you’re dealing with limited inventory or a fixed budget, it may be necessary to sacrifice some items on your home wish list. In fact, a newly released survey by CIBC found that nearly a quarter of hopeful homebuyers have revised their expectations of a home.9 But if you fail to secure your must-haves, you could come to regret your home choice.

 We can help you avoid an ill-fitting home purchase by working with you to set (and stick to) priorities and parameters before you begin your search.

 

REGRET #7: Purchasing Without Professional Help

 Another path to homebuyer regret? Foregoing the expert guidance and market insight that you can only get from a licensed real estate agent.

 Buying a home without professional representation can be extremely risky. Therefore, it’s no surprise that most Canadian homebuyers enlist the help of an agent when purchasing a home.4 And the vast majority find their assistance to be invaluable: According to a survey of U.S. homebuyers, 89% say they would use their agent again or recommend them to others.10

 Real estate is hyperlocal and extremely fluid—especially these days when the market is in constant flux. So it pays to have a knowledgeable expert by your side who can guide you through an often-complicated process.

 We can help you avoid expensive mistakes that could lead to buyer’s remorse, all while making your home purchase as seamless and stress-free as possible. And since the home seller typically pays our commission, there’s no added expense for you!

 Lesson Learned: When you work with a real estate agent, you benefit from a wealth of expertise and on-the-ground insight that you can't get anywhere else. We’ll help you steer clear of the missteps that so many homebuyers make, so you can focus on enjoying your new home instead of questioning your choices down the road.

 The best part? Since the majority of home sellers pay us a commission at closing, in most cases, we offer our invaluable guidance and assistance at no additional cost to you!

 

 BOTTOMLINE

 No one wants to look back on their home purchase and realize they made a big mistake. We can help you avoid the pitfalls so you can buy with confidence. To learn more about how we work to ensure our clients’ satisfaction, reach out today to schedule a free consultation.

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

Sources:

  1. Zolo -
    https://www.zolo.ca/blog/housing-market-pandemic
  2. Anytime Estimate -
    https://anytimeestimate.com/research/american-home-buyers-2022/
  3. Mortgage Professionals Canada -https://mortgageproscan.ca/docs/default-source/consumer-reports/2023/march-2023_mpc-report_final_en.pdf?sfvrsn=c6b39b60_2
  4. Zolo -
    https://www.zolo.ca/blog/canada-housing-market-report  
  5. TD Bank -https://stories.td.com/ca/en/news/2022-06-29-td-real-estate-survey-reveals-38-25-of-canadians-are-confused
  6. Scotiabank -https://www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/personal/advice-plus/features/posts.how-much-should-i-budget-for-home-maintenance-costs.html
  7. Hippo -https://www.hippo.com/blog/2022-hippo-housepower-report-how-homeowners-are-responding-essential-maintenance-during
  8. Wealthsimple -
    https://www.wealthsimple.com/en-ca/magazine/buying-vs-renting-your-home
  9. CIBC - https://cibc.mediaroom.com/2023-06-05-Canadians-dream-of-homeownership-persists,-despite-affordability-concerns-CIBC-Poll
  10. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers#homebuyers

National Real Estate Market Update for 2023

23. June 2023 07:59

 

There’s an old adage in real estate: location, location, location. But ever since the Bank of Canada began its series of inflation-fighting interest rate hikes last year, a new mantra has emerged: mortgage rates, mortgage rates, mortgage rates.

 

Higher rates had the immediate impact of cooling homebuyer affordability and demand. But when the Bank of Canada announced in early March that it would put additional rate changes on hold, the country's once-frozen housing market began to thaw. Since then, Canadian home sales have bounced higher than expected.

 

However, many homeowners are still putting off listing. After successfully riding out the past year's turbulence, some homeowners are waiting for prices to more fully recover. Others are holding back because they are unable to port their mortgages and feel beholden to their existing, lower rates. As a result, real estate activity isn't nearly as robust this year as it might have been had more sellers listed their homes.

 

As economist Shaun Cathcart of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) notes, “With interest rates at a top, and home prices at a bottom, it wasn’t all that surprising to see buyers jumping off the sidelines and back into the market in April. Supply, on the other hand, has been sluggish, hence the price gains from March to April seen all over the country.”1

 

So what can we expect from the Canadian real estate market in the coming months and years? Here are several key indicators that help to paint a picture of the market and where it’s likely headed.

 

HOME SALES ARE PICKING UP FASTER THAN EXPECTED


After an extra chilly fall and an arctic New Year, the spring real estate season has so far proved warmer than expected, with home sales picking up substantially in recent months.2

 

Despite still-high mortgage rates and pinched affordability, a significant number of home buyers are showing up anyway and placing offers. As a result, home sales jumped by double digits in April, according to the CREA, climbing 11.3%.1 So far, that's the third monthly increase CREA has recorded this year. In March, sales picked up by 1.4% after a 2.3% increase in February.3  

 

Even more notable: this year's sales numbers have been comparable to those recorded in 2018 and 2019—before pandemic-era rates helped supercharge the market.3 

 

Other supporting factors are also helping to push up sales this year, including historically fast population growth and a sharp increase in rent prices.4,5

 

But in addition to tight supply, one more factor is still weighing down market activity: buyers are continuing to face significant headwinds that limit their overall buying power, including comparatively high interest rates and a prohibitive mortgage stress test.6 As a result, a significant number are still struggling to get approved for large enough mortgages to compete.7

 

What does it mean for you?  The pace of sales is still slower than it was during the pandemic. Don't be surprised, though, if you find yourself competing with multiple offers. With a warming market, it's important to start your home search prepared. We can help you evaluate your options, strengthen your offer, and make an informed purchase.

 

Many Canadian home buyers are still facing severe affordability challenges. If you plan to sell your home, it will be crucial to enlist the help of a skilled agent who knows how to draw in qualified buyers. Reach out for a copy of our multi-step Property Marketing Plan.

 

PROPERTY VALUES ARE STABILIZING

Prices are down, year-over-year, but they haven't fallen nearly as much as some analysts speculated. Instead, home prices have so far remained remarkably resilient.

According to the CREA, the actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average sale price is down by just 12.3% compared to April 2022, when home prices were still near an all-time high.1

Even more significant: prices are no longer dropping. Instead, they have moved higher as more buyers emerge from the sidelines. In April, the MLS® Home Price Index jumped on a month-over-month basis for the second time in more than a year, climbing by a healthy 1.6% in April after a 0.2% increase in March.1,8  

A tight housing supply is also putting upward pressure on prices. So are sharply higher rents, which have helped make mortgage payments more attractive. As a result, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) expects prices to remain above pre-pandemic levels.9

Prices probably won't climb too much higher, though: these days, Canadians need bigger down payments or incomes to keep up with the higher rates and prices. So if prices climb too far out of touch with buyers' finances, sellers could have a tough time attracting qualified prospects.9

 

What does it mean for you? Prices have softened in certain market segments compared to last year—and motivated sellers are out there and willing to make deals. We can help you find your next home and negotiate a great price. But keep in mind that your odds of affording a home may diminish in the coming months as high rates bump up against a firming market. So it's a good idea to get a mortgage pre-approval before you start your search.

 

If you’re a homeowner, property values are picking up again thanks to demand outpacing supply. So you’re still likely sitting on a nice pile of equity. Reach out for a free assessment to find out how much your home is currently worth.

 

LISTING INVENTORY IS LOW, BUT NEW CONSTRUCTION IS ON THE RISE


Tight inventory is one of the biggest factors impacting the housing market, agree experts. In fact, the CREA says that inventory is tighter now than it's been in decades.1

 

After dropping to a 20-year low, new supply picked up somewhat this spring, climbing on a month-over-month basis by 5.8% in March and by another 1.6% in April.1 But it's still well below what's typical this time of year, making it tough for buyers to find a suitable home.

 

One big reason for the trickle in existing homes for sale: reluctant sellers.10Some would-be sellers with more restrictive mortgages are holding back from listing their homes because they are reluctant to give up their lower mortgage rates.11 Others are waiting for prices to significantly increase. But since fear is a driving factor for many real estate holdouts, this year's warming market could offer some helpful reassurance.

 

Reluctant sellers aren't the only reason, though, for why inventory is so limited. Sluggish home building is also a major factor impacting supply. For example, new home inventories are at historic lows, deepening the housing crunch.12

 

Housing starts have also been weak for much of this past year. But a springtime burst in activity led to a 22% jump in April, according to the CMHC, renewing hopes that builders may still be able to overcome this year's higher rates.13 As BMO's Douglas Porter noted, “New home building is also showing some signs of surprising resiliency.”2

 

What does it mean for you?  Inventory is tight, but less frenzied competition compared to last year means more choice and negotiating power for buyers. If you’ve had trouble finding a home in the past, it may be time to take another look. We can help you explore both new and existing homes in our area.

 

Sellers are enjoying reduced competition right now, as well. However, the longer you wait to list, the more competition you’re likely to face. And if you feel locked in by your current, lower mortgage rate, consider this: If you roll your equity gains into a down payment on your next home, you could possibly lower your monthly payment. Reach out to discuss your options.

 

MORTGAGE RATES HAVE TRENDED DOWN


Average mortgage rates are still higher now than they have been in years, but they have generally trended down since the beginning of the year. As a result, buyers willing to commit to a three- or five-year fixed-rate mortgage are finding better deals. Some mortgage lenders are also offering seasonal promotions.14

 

But even with somewhat lower rates, many buyers are finding that they still can't qualify for mortgages at current prices. So pinched affordability is still a major factor influencing the housing market.10 

 

Canada's economic forecast is also fairly cloudy this summer, so the path for future rate changes is uncertain.  For example, the Bank of Canada's decision to pause rate hikes earlier in the year gave many borrowers some much-needed breathing room, helping to stabilize the housing market. But given how sticky inflation has remained, it's possible that Bank of Canada officials could change their minds and announce at least one more rate hike. 

 

Similarly, buyers hoping to see rates fall more significantly this year are likely to be disappointed.15 With the rate of inflation still well above central bankers' target range of 2%, the Bank of Canada is unlikely to cut its benchmark rate anytime soon (especially since borrowers have so far weathered this year's higher interest rates quite well).16

 

What does it mean for you?  Mortgage rates aren't nearly as high as they were this fall and winter, which is great news for buyers. But, a decrease in rates could correspond with an increase in competition and prices. If you start searching now, you’ll be prepared to make an offer when the time is right. We can help you negotiate a great deal and potential seller incentives.

 

If you’re planning to sell, this is good news for you, too. But, there are several factors to consider when determining the right time to list your home. Reach out for a consultation so we can help you chart the best course.

 

WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU


While national real estate forecasts can provide a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the issues most likely to impact sales and drive home values in your particular neighbourhood.

 

If you’re considering buying or selling a home, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. We’ll work with you to develop an action plan to meet your real estate goals.

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

Sources:

  1. Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) - https://www.crea.ca/media-hub/news/demand-continues-to-outpace-supply-as-canadian-home-sales-jump-in-april/
  2. BMO Economics - https://economics.bmo.com/en/publications/detail/e182379e-0d22-4a7b-9374-96004f9c8019/
  3. Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) - https://www.crea.ca/media-hub/news/canadian-home-sales-rise-in-february-despite-drop-in-new-supply/
  4. Real Estate Magazine - https://realestatemagazine.ca/canadas-record-population-growth-poses-challenges-for-housing-market/
  5. Canadian Mortgage Trends - https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2023/05/average-rent-in-canada-is-up-20-over-the-last-two-years-rentals-ca/
  6. RBC Thought Leadership - https://thoughtleadership.rbc.com/game-on-for-canadas-housing-market/
  7. Canadian Mortgage Professional (CMP) - https://www.mpamag.com/ca/mortgage-industry/industry-trends/how-much-additional-income-do-canadians-need-to-buy-a-home/443946
  8. Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) - https://www.crea.ca/media-hub/news/canadian-home-sales-continue-to-rise-in-march-as-markets-tighten/
  9. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) - https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/professionals/housing-markets-data-and-research/market-reports/housing-market/housing-market-outlook
  10. ​​RBC Thought Leadership -https://thoughtleadership.rbc.com/green-shoots-in-canadas-housing-market/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=salesforce
  11. Realtor.ca - ​​https://www.realtor.ca/blog/then-vs-now-realtors-share-their-take-on-spring-buyers-pre-pandemic-vs-today/30999/1362
  12. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) - https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/professionals/housing-markets-data-and-research/market-reports/housing-market/housing-supply-report
  13. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) - https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/professionals/housing-markets-data-and-research/housing-data/data-tables/housing-market-data/monthly-housing-starts-construction-data-tables
  14. CTV News - https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/as-the-bank-of-canada-pauses-rate-hikes-mortgage-rates-in-canada-creep-downward-1.6355742
  15. CBC -
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/bank-of-canada-april-decision-1.6807771
  16. CIBC Capital Markets - https://cibccm.com/en/insights/articles/economic-insights-will-higher-rates-break-the-consumers-back/

Stress-Free Home Cleaning: 27 Practical Tactics for Busy Households

3. April 2023 09:18

 

Keeping a clean and orderly home is a challenge for many of us. Between busy work schedules, social obligations, and family commitments, it’s tough to keep up with daily chores—let alone larger seasonal tasks.

The effort is worthwhile, however. A sanitary environment can keep you and your family healthier by minimizing your exposure to germs and allergens.1 Plus, researchers have found that organized, uncluttered homes have quantifiable mental health benefits, too, including reduced stress, improved emotional regulation, and increased productivity.2

The reality is, we enjoy our homes more when they are in good order. It’s much easier to relax without piles of unopened mail or a messy kitchen reminding us of work to be done. And don’t we all feel more inclined to entertain family and friends when our homes are well-kept?

That’s why we’ve rounded up our favourite tactics—from overall strategies to little tips and tricks—for keeping things tidy without spending all our spare time cleaning.


Set a Schedule for Daily and Weekly Cleaning

We’ve all been there—you put off vacuuming or mopping your floor for a few days, only to realize that weeks have passed. Creating a cleaning schedule that works for you is the best way to stay on top of things and avoid overwhelm. Here are a few of our favourite strategies:

 

  1. Designate a day of the week for each task—then, add them to your calendar so you can’t forget.
  2. Create a shared schedule that assigns specific responsibilities to each member of the household. Post it in a prominent place, like on the refrigerator, or create a shared digital calendar.
  3. Carve out 15 minutes a day for cleaning and decluttering. Set a timer on your phone and get as much done as you can before it goes off.

 

It may take some trial and error to find the tactics that work best for you. The most important thing is to make a habit of cleaning so that clutter and grime don’t have a chance to build. And if you’d like some professional help, reach out for a referral to one of our favourite cleaning services!


Tackle Bigger Chores Seasonally


Many home care tasks are seasonal by nature and only need to be completed once or twice a year. But when we don’t have a plan to tackle them, it’s all too easy to put them off. Here are a few tips to stay on top of these chores:

 

  1. Mark days on your calendar in advance to attend to annual or semi-annual chores, like cleaning gutters, washing windows, turning mattresses, and shampooing carpets
  2. Schedule just one primary task each weekend instead of blocking out a full two days. This will help ensure a good balance between chores and relaxation.
  3. Designate a date two to four times a year, depending on your lifestyle, to put away out-of-season items like clothes, holiday decorations, and sporting goods.
  4. Take some time to sort through your seasonal items when you pack them away. Then you can toss, sell, or donate things that you no longer need or enjoy.

 

Remember—breaking down these larger tasks can make them less overwhelming. If you space them out so that you can handle them one by one, even the most time-consuming chores become a lot more manageable.


And since all your time is valuable, don't hesitate to delegate these larger home care tasks to professionals. Give us a call for a list of our recommended service providers.


Reduce the Barriers to Cleaning

Set yourself up for success by ensuring you have the tools on hand to tackle small tasks with ease. Here are a few ways to make your cleaning supplies more accessible:

 

  1. Store a broom, dustpan, and vacuum on each floor of your home so they’re easy to reach.
  2. Stash containers of disinfecting and glass wipes under every sink for a mid-week wipe-down.
  3. Place extra bags beneath the liner of your garbage pails, so you’ll have a replacement ready when you take out the trash.
  4. Keep a paper shredder and recycling bin handy so you can dispose of unwanted mail as it’s opened.

 

By strategically placing your tools and supplies in the locations where you’re most likely to need them, you’ll make cleaning less of a chore and more of a habit.


Stop the Clutter Before It Starts

From coats to shoes to mail, it’s all too easy to find clutter taking over your home. Once these piles start to form, they can feel overwhelming—which only makes it harder to address them.


To avoid this problem, stop the clutter before it starts. Assign every item a home and create storage spaces and “drop zones” in key locations.3 Here are a few ideas to get you started:

 

  1. Install coat hooks and shoe racks in the entryway for easy access.
  2. Add a key caddy or shelf for essential items to get you out the door.
  3. Hang a letter bin to capture mail and newspapers as soon as you walk into the house.
  4. Place a donation box in each closet for items you no longer want or need.


It can take a little time to get in the habit of returning items to their assigned space. But once you do, staying on top of clutter will become far more manageable.


Are you considering a larger organizational upgrade, like a custom closet or pantry system? Reach out for a free consultation to find out how the investment could impact the value of your home!


Tackle Small Tasks Right Away

Sometimes, the mental load of thinking about a chore you need to do is worse than the chore itself. Plus, handling small tasks right away can reduce the need for lengthy cleaning sessions.3


Try working these changes into your routine:

  1. Learn to clean as you cook, rather than piling it all up for later. As you wait for water to boil or food to cook through, wash the bowls and utensils you used for prep.
  2. Hang bath towels on a bar immediately after use. By allowing them to properly air dry, you can cut down on the frequency of laundering.
  3. Bring items with you when you leave a room. For example, return plates and cups to the kitchen right away rather than letting them stack up in your home office.
  4. Take out the trash when you leave for work, school drop-off, or errands. This will save you the time and hassle of a second trip.


If you implement these small changes, your home will stay neater—and you’ll minimize the number of dedicated cleaning sessions you need to take on each week.


Embrace an Evening “Shutdown” Routine

Kitchens can get dirty and cluttered fast. But a few minutes spent cleaning up each evening can prevent the mess from getting out of control.4


Imagine your kitchen is a restaurant and you’re tidying it up before closing down for the night. These simple steps will prepare you for the morning rush:

 

  1. Wipe down all surfaces, including countertops, stove, microwave, and sink. Then toss your soiled washcloth in the hamper and lay out a fresh one for tomorrow.
  2. Load and run the dishwasher every night so you can empty it the next morning.
  3. Prepare for breakfast by programming your coffee pot and setting out some grab-and-go options.


We all know it can be hard to find the energy for chores in the evening. But if you complete these small tasks each night, you’ll start the next day off right in a tidy, clean kitchen.


Think Outside of the Box When It Comes to Storage

Most of us have limited storage space. Unfortunately, without the right spots to stash our items, it’s easy to become disorganized.


But we’ve found that using household items in innovative ways can help keep mess and clutter under control.5 Here are a few of our favourite swaps:

  1. Place a magazine file in your kitchen for cookbooks, takeout menus, and meal kit cards.
  2. Hang a pocket-style shoe organizer inside your pantry door to store granola bars, spice jars, and other small items.
  3. Separate dress and athletic socks by turning an old shoe box into a drawer divider.
  4. Repurpose jam jars by using them to store office supplies or bathroom essentials.
  5. Store out-of-season clothes inside rarely-used suitcases, so all that space doesn’t go to waste.


A little creativity goes a long way when it comes to making the most of your space. Just be sure that you’re creating systems you can stick with and not putting things where you might forget about them later!

 

WE’RE HERE TO HELP YOU MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR HOME

Keeping your home clean and organized can be a continuous struggle—there’s no need to feel ashamed of that. But taking the time to implement systems that work for you can make life more pleasant and less stressful in the long run.


Remember, we’re not just here to help you buy or sell a home. We want you to love living in it, too. Reach out if you need referrals for house cleaners, window washers, or other service providers that can help you make the most of your space.

 

Connie Goh - 

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. Healthline -
    https://www.healthline.com/health-news/5-health-benefits-of-spring-cleaning
  2. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/mental-health-clean-home/
  3. My Domaine -
    https://www.mydomaine.com/house-cleaning-schedule
  4. Housewife How-Tos -
    https://housewifehowtos.com/clean/10-tips-to-keeping-a-clean-house/
  5. Better Homes and Gardens -
    https://www.bhg.com/decorating/storage/projects/simple-solutions/

My Home Didn’t Sell! Now What?

7. March 2023 04:33

When it comes to listing your home, most home sellers want three things: 1) to make a lot of money, 2) to put in minimal time and effort, and 3) to sell quickly. But the reality is, selling a home is rarely that simple. And homeowners who try to do it themselves—or receive bad advice—can end up stuck (months later) with a property that hasn’t sold.

 

If that’s you, don’t panic! We’ve outlined the top five reasons a home doesn’t sell—and action steps you can take to overcome each of these issues.

 

Not sure why your property didn’t sell? If you’re not already working with an agent or your listing has expired or been withdrawn, give us a call! We’d be happy to offer a free, no-obligation assessment and create an action plan to get your home SOLD.

 

This marketing piece is not intended as a solicitation for properties currently in an exclusive agreement with another Broker.

 

  1. BAD TIMING

If your home didn’t sell after several months on the market, timing could’ve been a factor. Markets are driven by the law of supply and demand, and real estate is no exception.

 When there are a lot of people who want to buy homes (demand) and a shortage of inventory (supply), it’s considered a seller’s market. During a seller’s market, listings tend to get snapped up quickly. In a buyer’s market, however, there are more homes for sale than active buyers. This can cause homes to sell for less money and to sit on the market for a longer period of time before receiving an offer.

 What causes the shift between a seller’s market and a buyer’s market? Economic factors like interest rates, affordability, domestic growth, and the unemployment rate can all impact buyer demand. Over the past year, for example, higher mortgage rates have not only made it harder for some borrowers to qualify for a home loan, they have also sharply pushed up homebuyers' anticipated monthly payments.1 So even if a buyer was interested in your home, they may have passed on it if they couldn’t qualify for a mortgage at your asking price.

 Seasonal factors like weather, holidays, and school schedules can also increase or dampen the activity and motivation of buyers. Additionally, unexpected events, such as a natural disaster or a stock market crash, can cause some buyers to put their purchasing plans on hold until conditions normalize.

 

Now What?

If timing does appear to be a factor, it may be advisable to delay relisting your property. Of course, that’s not feasible (or desirable) for every seller.

 In most cases, buyers can be motivated to act with a combination of improvements, incentives, and pricing. Where there’s a will to sell, there’s usually a way. Fortunately for sellers, people will always need a place to live, and there will be a percentage of the population that is motivated to buy quickly.

 If you suspect timing played a role in your inability to sell, consult with a knowledgeable real estate agent. We’re in the field every day and have access to the latest market data. We can estimate how long a home like yours should take to sell given current market conditions and help ensure that your asking price is competitive.

 

  1. INEFFECTIVE MARKETING

 Did your home get a steady stream of showings when it was on the market? If not, you may need to try a new promotional strategy.

 Take a look at the listing description. Did it entice buyers to visit your property? A well-written description should be clear and compelling while highlighting your home’s most desirable features. Additionally, it should have utilized best practices for search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that it was found by buyers who were looking for homes online.

 And how well did the listing photos showcase your property? Many buyers use photos of a home to decide whether or not to visit it in person. In fact, in an American survey, 85% of buyers who browsed online found photos “very useful” in their home search.2 Poor quality or a low quantity of listing photos could have kept potential buyers from stepping through your door.

 Another factor to consider is whether your listing reached the right audience. This can be especially important if you have a unique or highly-customized home. Working with your agent to make your listing available through your local Multiple Listing Service® System is a great place to start, but some properties require a more robust marketing approach.

 

Now What?

If you suspect ineffective marketing, consider turning to a skilled professional with a proven approach. We employ a strategic Property Marketing Plan that uses the latest technologies to seed the marketplace, optimize for search engine placement, and position your home for the best possible impression right out of the gate.

 For example, we know what buyers in this market want and can craft a persuasive description to pique their interest. And since good listing photos are so crucial, we work with the top local photographers to ensure each shot is staged to your home’s advantage.

 We also know how to get your listing in front of the right audience—one that will appreciate its unique features. By utilizing online and social marketing platforms to connect with consumers and offline channels to connect with local real estate agents, your property gets maximum exposure to your target market.

 Want to learn more about our multi-step marketing strategy? Reach out for a copy of our complete Property Marketing Plan.

 

  1. POOR IMPRESSION

 If your property received a lot of foot traffic but no offers, you may need to examine the impression you made on buyers who visited your property.

 Start with your home’s structure and systems. Are there large cracks in the foundation? How about doors and windows that don’t properly close? Are there water stains on the walls or ceiling that could signal a leak? These can be major “red flags” that scare away buyers.

 Next, examine your curb appeal. Does the yard need mowing or do the hedges need trimming? Are there oil stains on the driveway? Any peeling paint or rotted siding? If your home’s exterior looks neglected, buyers may assume the entire house has been poorly maintained.

 Now move on to the interior of your home. Is it clean? Is there a noticeable odour? Have you taken the time to depersonalize and declutter each room? Buyers need to be able to picture their items in your home, but that’s difficult to do amongst your family photos and personal collections. And oversized furniture and packed closets can make a space seem small and cramped.

 

Now What?

When we take on a new listing, we always walk through it with the homeowner and point out any repairs, updates, or decluttering that should be done to maximize its sales potential. We also share tips on how to prep the property before each showing.

 In some cases, we will recommend that you utilize staging techniques to highlight your home’s best features and help buyers envision themselves living in the space. Home staging is one of the hottest trends in real estate—because it works! According to stagedhomes.com, for example, staging could cut in half the amount of time it takes to sell and bump up your sale price by as much as 20%.3 In addition, a survey of North American real estate agents suggests that staging not only helps spark buyers' imaginations, it can also inspire higher quality offers.4

 Some sellers choose to hire a professional home stager, while others opt to do it themselves, using guidance from their agent. We can help you determine the appropriate budget and effort required to get your home sold.

 

  1. PRICE IS TOO HIGH

 Many homeowners are reluctant to drop their listing price. But the reality is, buyers may not seriously consider your property if they think your home is overpriced.

 Attitudes have changed since the Bank of Canada started hiking interest rates. Many of today's homebuyers are no longer willing or able to pay as high a price on a new home as they might have when borrowing costs were lower.5 If your home’s original asking price was set using sales data from the market's peak, then you may need to rethink your pricing strategy.

 Economic factors aren't the only reasons, though, for why a home's asking price might not match its market value. Pricing a home can be tricky, regardless of the economic climate, because so many factors can impact how much buyers are willing to pay. For example, unique, highly customized, and luxury properties are particularly difficult to price because there aren’t a lot of comparable homes with which to compare them.

 Regardless, if your home sat on the market for months without an offer, then chances are good that your asking price needs to be reevaluated.

 

Now What?

If you aren’t in a rush to sell your home, adjustments to timing or marketing may bring in a new pool of potential buyers. And repairs, upgrades, and staging can increase the perceived value of your home, which may be enough to bring a buyer to the table at your original list price.

However, if you need to sell quickly, or you’ve already exhausted those options, a price reduction may be necessary to get your home the attention it needs to sell.

We are local market experts and have access to the latest market data and comparable sales in your neighbourhood. We can help you determine a realistic asking price for your home given today’s market conditions. Just reach out for a free home value assessment!

 

  1. YOU HIRED THE WRONG AGENT (OR WORSE, NO AGENT AT ALL)

 If you suspect that your previous real estate agent didn’t do enough—or used the wrong approach—to sell your home, you’re not alone. Many sellers whose listings languish until they expire or are withdrawn feel this way.

While most agents have the best of intentions, not all of them have the skills, experience, instincts, or local market expertise to devise a winning sales strategy in this challenging market.

Or, perhaps you chose not to hire a listing agent at all and have been trying to sell your home yourself. This can be an equally frustrating endeavour.

Although selling your home independently can help cut some costs, it can also be extremely risky and may even lose you money in the long run. For example, research by the Canadian real estate intelligence firm, Insightt, found that For Sale By Owner (or FSBO) homes took more than twice as long to sell in some real estate markets as homes represented by an agent. Insightt's data also showed that FSBO homes were more likely to sell for less than asking price.6

 

Now What?

If either of these scenarios sounds familiar, you need to ask yourself: “Would I still be interested in selling my home if I could get the right offer?”

 If so, we should talk. We understand how frustrating it can be when you’ve put a lot of time, money, and effort into prepping your property for the market and it doesn’t sell. We also empathize with how disruptive a delayed home sale can be to your life.

 By now, don’t you owe yourself more than the status quo when it comes to your real estate representation? Our multi-step Property Marketing Plan can help you sell your home for the most money possible, and in the process re-connect you with the excitement you originally felt upon first listing. It’s time for a new agent, new marketing, new buyers, and most of all… new possibilities.

 

READY TO MAKE A MOVE?

 Let's talk. We can help you figure out why your home didn’t sell and how to revise your sales strategy and set your home up for success.

 The housing market has experienced a shift and the waters may be choppier than usual for a while. But there's still plenty of opportunity in the current market: You just need a guide who knows where to look and how to find it.

 

 This marketing piece is not intended as a solicitation for properties currently in an exclusive agreement with another Broker. The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA.


Sources:

1.     Financial Post - https://financialpost.com/executive/executive-summary/bank-of-canada-interest-rate-impact-housing-mortgage

2.     National Association of Realtors - https://store.realtor/2022-nar-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers-download/

3.     CREA - https://www.creacafe.ca/is-home-staging-necessary-when-listing-a-property/

4.     Money Sense - https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/real-estate/what-home-sellers-should-know-about-staging/

5.     The Globe and Mail - https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/toronto/article-opportunistic-real-estate-buyers-step-to-the-stage-as-prices-decline/

6.     Real Estate Magazine - https://realestatemagazine.ca/putting-for-sale-by-owner-into-perspective/

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