Buyers have plenty of choice when it comes to choosing the type of home they will buy. You can purchase new from a builder, or shop around for a resale townhouse, single family home or condominium.
The latter is an excellent option for first-time buyers, young professionals and retirees or those looking to downsize. That’s not to say that all condos are affordable. A spacious unit in a well-appointed building can easily boast a price tag well into the millions with maintenance fees approaching $1,000 per month.
Whatever your price range, there are a few things to consider and research before settling on a condo purchase.
The first factor to consider is those condominium fees. Possibly one of the great mysteries of homeownership, these fees can turn an outright purchase into what seems like a rental, with monthly payments to factor into your budget for as long as you live at that address. If you have never paid condo fees before and the concept has you running scared, take a few minutes here to understand what they are and what they cover:
• The cost of keeping common spaces (elevators, indoor and outdoor gardens, lobbies and hallways, etc.) clean and in good working order.
• The upkeep of amenities such as fitness rooms, swimming pools, bowling alleys, theatre rooms, spas and party rooms.
• Snow removal, roof repair and insurance.
You’ll also want to think about the building’s amenities. Before you move into a condo, decide whether its in-house bells and whistles are perks you’ll use often enough to warrant the fees you’ll be paying for them each month.
A final consideration is the condo corporation’s status certificate. A status certificate is a prospective condo owner’s first look into the financial health of their potential investment. This comprehensive report gives all the details on the current fees that owners pay, any large fee increases that may be on the horizon and any liens or arrears owed by particular owner(s). Financial statements are also a part of the status certificate and will show the trends in expenditures and receipts of the past, and provide comparisons of a corporation’s actual and expected costs. To get your hands on a condominium’s status certificate, you must submit a written request to the condo board’s management company, plus a $100 fee. They have 10 days, as required by law, to provide the certificate.
If you’re thinking of selling your home in the next six months, year or even two years, it’s never too soon to start thinking re-sale value. Improvements to your home will almost always add value so it’s in your best interest to choose upgrades that are of good quality and have universal appeal – converting a spare bedroom to a luxurious master suite will attract a select few potential buyers but may actually be viewed negatively by the majority of buyers. Here’s a look at some household features that many buyers are looking for in 2017.
- Smart Home Technology – More and more buyers are looking for a home that boasts smart home features and technology. Included are items in three general categories: features for practical and functional use (i.e. kitchen appliances with LED touchscreen displays, NEST thermostats and remote-controlled shades), features for lifestyle and entertainment (i.e. built-in sound systems and automated lighting systems) and items for safety and security (i.e. smart locks, Wi-Fi video doorbells and security cameras).
- Hardwood Flooring – It’s estimated that 80% of buyers have hardwood floors included in their list of must-haves when house-hunting. Durable, long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing, hardwood is one of the most expensive flooring options available but also one of the best investments from a resale value standpoint.
- Updated Kitchen and Bathrooms – We all know that kitchens and bathrooms sell a home, so if you have reno dollars to spend, it’s wise to shell out the cash to upgrade the heart of the home and bathrooms. Updated cabinets, quartz or granite countertops and newer appliances are all something that potential buyers will be looking for when house-hunting. When it comes to bathrooms, more and more buyers are seeking a little luxury. Freestanding tubs, high-tech toilets, unique tile shapes and heated floors will appeal to discerning buyers.
- Outdoor Living Space – With such a short hot and sunny season here in Canada, many homeowners want to take advantage of the summer weather while it’s here, making fancy outdoor kitchens and living spaces a hot commodity.
September has arrived and, while we’re still enjoying warm, sunny days, the end of summer is inevitable and it will soon be time to close up the cottage for the frosty winter season. There are also a number of tasks that recreational property owners need to tackle in order to protect their cottage from the elements, wildlife and would-be thieves.
• Before turning off the electricity, go room to room to turn off and unplug all electrical devices.
• Drain the plumbing system to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
• Drain the water tank. Remember to turn off the power supply to the water heater before draining to avoid damage to the heating element.
• Leave the refrigerator door open slightly to avoid nasty smells come springtime. Be sure to remove all food from the cottage.
• Lock windows or board them and safely secure all entry points. Pay close attention to patio doors (use a security bar) and beef up your deadbolt and entry doors if they haven’t been replaced in decades.
• Remove all valuable possessions from your cottage. Prepare for the worst – do not keep jewelry, pricey electronics, family heirlooms or expensive artwork in your cottage during the off-season.
• Turn to any neighbours who remain up north all year long and ask them to keep an eye on your property and do a closer inspection every so often.
• Store boats, jet skis, paddle boats and any other recreational ‘toys’ in a secure, locked building. Add a couple motion-activated lights, which might help scare off unwanted visitors.
• A security system is an excellent deterrent to would-be thieves. Do some research to find out if there is a local monitoring station that covers your area.
By taking a few easy steps at the end of the season, you can ensure that your cottage will be just as you left it when you return next summer!
It’s that time of year again! Planning for the 2017 Caledonia Fall Fair has been underway for months and this year, it’s all about honouring this great country we call home! ‘Celebrating the Maple Leaf’ is the theme and there are a variety of special highlights that will help us do just that.
The Caledonia Fall Fair is celebrating its 145th year in 2017. Everyone can look forward to four, fun-filled days of excitement, entertainment, tasty food, crafts and more! The fair will be held September 28 through October 1 at the Caledonia Fairgrounds on Highway 54.
Other highlights include karaoke, horse and livestock competitions and demonstrations, magic shows, a demolition derby, baby and pet show, a Kids’ Zone, exhibits, craft and baking competitions, midway and so much more. Visit the website at www.caledoniafair.ca for a full schedule of events.
We all know that moving is considered one of life’s most stressful events. Between preparing your home for photos and showings, dealing with negotiations and packing, it’s a hectic time. Since they can’t voice their concerns, don’t forget one member of the family that shouldn’t be overlooked during this whole process – your four-legged friends!
The first thing to do is figure out a plan for keeping pets busy during showings. Animals are distracting and you don’t want there to be anything sidetracking a potential buyer. Most realtors agree that pets (cats and dogs) should be removed from the home during a showing or open house.
Things to consider:
• Take your dog for a long walk or to a leash-free park and let them meet some new friends during showings.
• If weather conditions are mild, consider a temporary pen outdoors. Your real estate agent will alert other sales people showing the home that your pet will safely stay in the pen. You can purchase a 6′ × 6′ pen that can go with you when you move. Temporary pens keep pets out of the rest of your backyard and away from landscaping while unsupervised.
• Keep in mind that even when your pet isn’t in the house, signs of their presence linger. Make sure you vacuum every day: pet hair is a major turnoff to most potential homebuyers. And keep the litter box squeaky clean and out of sight. If you notice a lingering pet odour, simmer a couple cinnamon sticks and orange peel in water for 30 minutes before showings.
• If your realtor has scheduled an open house, arrange to have your pet stay at a friend or family member’s house, or have them boarded at a kennel.
Moving day itself will be stressful for pets, so plan ahead to minimize the trauma. Book them into a kennel for the day or arrange to have them stay with a family member. If they have to stay with you, keep them in a quiet room away from the action. Once in your new home, set them up with familiar belongings in one small area as they slowly adjust to their new surroundings.