Do Open Houses Still Work?

Buyers are using the internet to search for properties more than ever before. In some cases, they can even go on a “virtual” tour of a home using their smartphone or desktop computer. So, you might be wondering if the oldfashioned Open House still works these days?

The answer is yes. Otherwise, you wouldn’t see them advertised. If Open Houses didn’t work, no one would be doing them! 

No matter how good the internet gets, it can’t compete with a buyer being able to visit a property in person, walk through the rooms, stand in the backyard and imagine himself BBQ-ing with his family, stroll the area, and meet neighbours.

An Open House makes it easy for buyers to do just that.

It’s an open invitation for them to come by at a specific date and time, to see the property and chat with the REALTOR®. It’s a casual environment, which many buyers prefer. Some buyers, in fact, are more comfortable going to an Open House before scheduling a private viewing.

Will you need an Open House to sell your home? That depends on a lot of factors.

When I work with clients, I put together a marketing plan designed to sell the property quickly and for the best price possible. Depending on the circumstances, that may or may not include an Open House.

If you have questions about what would be involved in a quick and successful sale of your home, contact me. I’d be happy to chat and answer your questions.

This Simple Question Can Save You a Lot of Money

Imagine this scenario ...

You purchase a new home and move in. A few weeks later you hear a strange rumbling sound. It's the furnace. It's only a year old, yet it's sputtering like it's twenty. You realize you'll have to call in an HVAC contractor to get it fixed.

You're thinking, "Ouch! This is going to be expensive."

Well, maybe not. You see, since that furnace is relatively new, it might be covered by its original warranty - even for you, the new owner.

But a warranty is useless if you don't know it exists.

Recent studies suggest that upwards of 50% of people pay to get items fixed that were actually covered by a warranty. So, when purchasing a new home, be sure to ask this simple question: "What warranties do you have for items, materials or workmanship in this house?"

Warranties are common on new stoves, fridges, washers, dryers and other big ticket appliances. Some such warranties are transferable, which means they are still in force when the items pass from one owner to another.

Even less expensive items, such as leectronic thermostats and automatic garage door openers, may be covered by a transferable manufacturer's warranty.

If the home you're purchasing is relatively new (say, less than 10 years old), the builder's warranty may also still be in force. That can be handy if a structural problem arises.

Even recent renovations, may have come with a labour and/or installation warranty of some kind.

As you can see, warranties are everywhere! The more you're aware of them, the more you'll save when something needs repair or replacement.

 

 

Don't Take Stair Safety for Granted

The first known use of stairs was in ancient Egypt during the building of the pyramids. Chances are, some workers back then tripped and fell on them. Some 3,000 years later, injuries on stairs are still a big problem.

 Stairs

According to the Centre of Occupational Health & Safety, the insurance cost of injuries from falls on stairs is second only to automobile accidents! Clearly, it's a bigger problem than most people imagine.

So how do you prevent trips, falls and other mishaps on stairs?

The most common way is to use handrails. In fact, most trips and falls occur when people aren't able to regain their balance because they are not holding a handrail.

Another source of accidents are items, such as toys, left on stairs. Some people have the bad habit of using stairs as a temporary shelf for books, magazines, mail and other items. That's not a good idea!

Always be careful when carrying heavy items on stairs. Even an overloaded laundry basket can be a hazard. If it's too heavy or you can't see over the top, it's too full.

Stairway 

A lot of this is common sense. However, because injuries on stairs are so prevalent, we need to use our common sense more often. 

You don't notice it - but most buyers will.

Imagine you're viewing a potential new home. You walk in the front door and are instantly impressed. You explore the property room by room and like what you see.

Living room Dining room

Then there's something you notice that's not quite right. An odour. You realize that it's likely cat dander and, now that you've identified it, you smell it everywhere. Suddenly the home doesn't seem as attractive as it did just moments earlier.

The owner of the property is probably so used to the smell that he doesn't even notice it. Neither does anyone else in the household.

 

So, when marketing your home for sale, be scent sensitive. Think about the odours that you may have become used to but others are likely to notice. Even odours you think are pleasant, like the strong scent given off by some house plants, may not be pleasing to everyone.

An odour can easily distract a buyer from appreciating the good qualities of your property. Pay particular attention to garbage bins (which can smell even when empty), pets, kitty litter (even when fresh and unused), the kitchen (especially after cooking), perfumes, and closets.

The smell of cigarette smoke is particularly unpleasant to many people. Its odour can linger even on an outside deck or patio.

Bottom line? Don't assume buyers won't notice certain smells. They will.

Looking for more advice on selling your home quickly and for the best price? Call today. 

Using Candles Safely

Like most home products, candles are safe as long as you use them properly. The problem is thinking that as long as a candle doesn't fall over or come into contact with anything flammable, it is okay.

However, according to the National Candle Association (candles.org) there's more you can do to ensure candle safety.

  • Do not place candles where they can be knocked over by pets. (Cats can be particularly fascinated by the flickering light.)
  • Trim the wick to 1/4 inch before burning. A long wick can cause the candle to drip.
  • Don't burn a candle all the way down. At about two inches, put the candle out.
  • Despite what you see in the movies, don't try to bravely extinguish a candle with your fingers.
  • Avoid using a candle during a power outage. Use flashlights instead.
  • Never use a candle as a night light next to your bed.

And of course, never leave a candle burning unattended. If you need to leave the room, put the candle out.

 

Selling Your Home Doesn't Have to be Overwhelming

When some people think about selling their home, they imagine all the things they will have to do: paint the kitchen, clean closets, prepare for viewings, find another home, arrange financing, start packing, etc. It can all seem very overwhelming very quickly.

In fact, the long to-do list you imagine you'll have to deal with may dissuade you from making a move!

Kitchen 

It doesn't have to be that way.

There are many ways to make selling your home and buying another relatively simple and easy.

Sure, there will be some work to do. You may need to prepare your property so that it looks appealing to potential buyers - cleaning, decluttering, doing some repairs, etc. Of course, you will also need to view some properties for sale in order to find your next dream home.

But those activities may not be as time-consuming or difficult as you had imagined. In fact, you and your family might actually enjoy the experience - and see it as an adventure.

The trick is to work with the right REALTOR, someone who can guide you through the process, show you the shortcuts, and generally make things easier for you.

 

It's a little like baking your first cake from scratch. The task seems daunting, unless you have a master baker by your side to guide you step-by-step through the process. Then it's a lot easier, and even fun!

That's what a good REALTOR can do for you. Looking for one? Call today.


 

 

 


Preparing for a Power Outage

Some people can live in their homes for years without ever experiencing a power outage. In fact, even in  areas prone to serious storms or snowfalls, power loss doesn't happen that often. No wonder so many homeowners are caught unprepared when it does.

Storage  Utilities

To make sure you're not caught unprepared, follow these tips:

  • Replace batteries in unused flashlights every six months.
  • Keep candles and matches in a handy place. Monitor them closely when lit and always blow them out before going to sleep.
  • For computers and phones, consider purchasing a power backup. (Some models provide up to 8 hours of power for two or three devices.)
  • Know the address of your local fire station and nearest community centre. These are the most common places to find help during a power outage.

When the power does go out, make sure the stove is turned off. You don't want an unattended burner or gas leak when the power finally comes back on.

 

What Home Buyers Love to See

Buyers are more likely to make an offer on your home if they see a lot of things they love about it. So what do buyers love to see?

One of the main things they like to see is a lot of space. Of course, you can't change the size of your rooms, but there is a lot you can do to make small spaces in your home seem more spacious.

 

Buyers also love to see a clean and uncluttered home. Think of how inviting a hotel room looks at first glance, with everything neat and organized. Of course, your home isn't a hotel, but the more neat and attractive you can make each room, the better.

One thing buyers don't love to see is potential maintenance issues. So as much as possible, get things fixed or updated.

In fact, the more "finished" and "move-in ready" your home looks, the more likely a buyer is to make an offer.

Fireplace  Master bedroom

Don't forget the surrounding neighbourhood either. A buyer may not take the time to explore the area, so be sure to make a list of the most appealing features. You might want to take a picture of the brand new playground just down the street or print off a local map showing nearby shopping, theatre and other points of interest.

It's not about creating a false impression. Rather, it's about making your home look its best and drawing attention to its most enticing features.

Want more home selling tips? Call Mark Kozak of Century 21 Foothills Real Estate today!

Childproofing Tips for Your Home

If you have young children, or expect a visit from friends or relatives with little ones in tow, it pays to ensure your home is free of hazards. The last thing you want is an injury that could have easily been prevented.

Here are some basic childproofing tips:

  • Remove everything that is toxic, hot or sharp from within reach of a child. For example, the leaves of some types of house plants are toxic.
  • If possible, keep children out of the kitchen while cooking.
  • Install plug-in covers in electrical outlets. These are inexpensive and can be purchased at any hardware store.
  • Block or gate off areas where kids may fall.
  • Remove "pulling down" hazards, such as a heavy plant that a child can pull off a table.
  • Make sure there are screens on all open windows.

 Finally, watch your pets. Even the most gentle dog or cat can act unpredictably around children - especially if they're not used to them.

 

The Importance of Reading and Understanding an Offer

When you make or receive an offer to buy a property, it's important that you read and understand every clause. It is especially important to understand any conditions or any changes that are made to the standard offer.

An offer may contain several types of conditions. The most common are "conditional upon arranging financing" and "conditional upon passing a professional home inspection." However, there may be other conditions as well.

You should be aware of - and fully understand - all of them.

  

In addition, the wording of an offer may change during the back and forth negotiations that often happen. Aside from changes to the price, other clauses may be added, removed or reworded as well.

A good agent will always ask you to initial changes. This is done primarily to ensure you know and approve of what you're signing.

A recent newspaper article tells the story of a buyer-seller legal dispute that resulted in a six-figure judgement against the seller. This was due, in part, to a lack of understanding of one of the clauses in the agreement.

You don't want that to happen to you. Take the time to carefully review and understand the offer.

Want to make sure everything goes smoothly with your next move? Call today.

Pack Your Memories Away

Items that remind us of special people, events, milestones and interests are an important part of what makes a home a home. Pictures on the fireplace mantle, for example, showcase family and friends that are important to us. You might also have trophies, certificates, greeting cards, and other mementoes on display in key places.

Of course, all of those things add warmth and meaning to your home.

However, if you're preparing your home for sale, it's a good idea to pack those memories away - at least until you've sold your property and moved to your new home. 

Why? Because those pleasant mementoes that mean so much to you may actually turn off potential buyers.

Living room

You see, when buyers view your property, you want them to be able to clearly picture themselves and their families living there. That's difficult to do if everywhere they look they see reminders that this is your home!

So, to help sell your home quickly, make it look great, but not personalized. Think of the showroom displays you see set up in furniture stores. Those displays are most appealing when they enable you to easily picture yourself, with that furniture, in your home. You probably wouldn't feel that if it looked like the furniture belonged to someone else.

Of course, buyers will know you currently live in your home. But helping them imagine themselves living there will help you sell your property faster - and possibly for a better price.

Need more tips on preparing your home for sale? Call me today!

Be Sure to Plan for the "Pet Issue"

If you have pets, you probably adore them. They're part of the family! But when you're preparing your home for sale, you need to think about how you're going to deal with the "pet issue".

Some potential buyers who view your property may love pets as much as you do. However, others may be turned off by the tell-tale signs of pet ownership – such as kitty litter, dander, and smells.

So be sure to make a plan for how you’re going to deal with your pets.

It's a good idea to keep pets out of the house during viewings. Even if your dog or cat is friendly, some buyers will be uncomfortable around them. So, you'll need to decide where your pets will go when buyers view your property. Consider a local kennel or "pet day camp".

"Can't I just take my dog out for a walk?" you might be asking. You could; however, you may not always be available to do that during a viewing. So have alternate plans available.

You should also consider how you will deal with pet dander and everyday pet odours. You're probably used to them. Unfortunately, some buyers will be turned off or even be allergic. So, in addition to cleaning your home before a viewing -- especially in those areas where pets spend time like a favourite cushion or scratching post – consider using specialty air sprays available on the market that will neutralize pet odours.

Finally, it's a good idea to advise buyers that they're viewing a home with pets. That way, they'll be more forgiving if they catch a whiff of cat dander.

Need more tips on preparing your home for sale? Call today.

 

4 Home Hazards You May Not Know About

You have smoke detectors. Your doors have good locks. The bathtub has a slip-free pad. By all accounts, your home is a safe and secure place for your family to live.

However, there are some hazards that homeowners don't consider or even know about. For instance:

  1. Blocked eavestroughs. Eavestroughs clogged with leave and other debris can cause rainwater to overflow next to your foundation and create a basement leak.
  2. Clogged dryer vents. High temperature combined with lint is a near ideal condition for a fire. Check and clear the dryer vent at least once a year.
  3. Dirty faucet heads. Kitchen and bath faucets often have built-in screens to spray the water evenly. Unfortunately, dirt and other contaminates can build up on these and, possibly, affect the quality of the water. Clean faucet heads regularly.
  4. Tripping hazards. You could step around a loose section of carpet for years and then one day, in a moment of distraction, trip over it and fall. When you see a potential tripping hazard in your home, don't ignore it. Fix it.

Being diligent about home safety takes a little more time. But if it prevents one injury or illness, it's worth the effort.

Bathroom Upgrades using Overlays

If you're considering a bathroom update, you're probably familiar with the typical approaches, such as replacing a countertop or toilet, or removing all the fixtures and finishes to complete a floor-to-ceiling renovation.

However, there is another, far less expensive way to make an older bathroom look brand new: using overlays.

An overlay is simply a new surface applied over an existing one. For example, instead of replacing an old and worn bathtub – which is costly – you can purchase an overlay system (called a tub liner) that fits on top of the existing bathtub. It's a little like giving your tub a facelift!

You can do the same thing with your bathroom countertops and floors. Overlays come in a wide variety of styles and finishes – some of which can make your bathroom look significantly more upscale. Compared to a major renovation, the installation of overlays is relatively straightforward. A tub liner installation, for example, can be done in a day.

You can learn more about overlays at your local home improvement centre and at specialty bathroom showrooms.

Bathroom

When to Call a REALTOR®

If you're like most people, you go to see a doctor when you're not feeling well or have a health concern. However, you may also visit your doctor for a check-up, or to ask questions about healthy living.

In fact, consulting your doctor for anything health-related is a smart idea.

The same holds true when it comes to real estate.

Many people only call a REALTOR® when they're planning on selling their property or buying a new home, or both. While that's an important reason to speak to a REALTOR®, it's not the only reason. Indeed, there are many good reasons for you to give a good REALTOR® a call. For example:

  • If you have a question about the state of the local real estate market. (Remember that it may be very different from what you hear on the news about the national market.)
  • If you want to get a sense of what homes are currently selling for in the area.
  • If you want to determine the current market value of your property.
  • If you want to find out how much homes cost in neighbourhoods you'd like to consider.
  • If you're thinking about the possibility of making a move, but you’re not sure if it’s the right time.

In other words, don't be afraid to contact a good REALTOR® when you have a question or need some advice about the real estate market.

  

 

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