WHERE GETTING GOOD SERVICE IS THE ‘NORM‘

Norm Merz

Sales Representative

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Should you renovate or move?

Should you renovate or move?

The spring real estate market is upon us and in many cities and communities across the GTA, inventory is low and prices are high. With tales swirling of homes selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars over listing price and bidding wars becoming the norm, you might be wondering if the time is right to purchase a new home.

Since there is no easy answer, some homeowners may decide to wait for a more stable market in which to sell and buy a new home. If you do decide to wait but are craving a change, take this time to tackle a home renovation! You can increase the value of your current home – always a good thing – create more square footage for your family and possibly position yourself better for a quick sale down the road.

Getting a high return on your investment is on most homeowners’ minds when planning a home renovation project. Kitchen and bathroom remodels almost always increase the value of a home. Any project that adds additional living space to your home will likely be a smart investment, including finishing the basement or attic space or building on an addition. As with any major project, getting the right permits and hiring a reputable contractor is key.

There are also dozens of projects you can take on around the home that will make it more enjoyable for your family for the time being and make it more appealing to prospective buyers when the time to sell does come. Exterior upgrades are becoming very popular amongst Canadian homeowners, with many families spending big bucks on landscaping projects, including new decks, fencing and driveways. With the price of cottages on the rise, outdoor kitchens are gaining popularity in Canada as well, as many homeowners aim to create the perfect “staycation” space in their own backyard.

Another goal of many home renovators is energy saving. Replacing your home’s windows or roof and beefing up insulation might not be the most exciting way to spend your reno dollars, but it will help you save big time on monthly energy costs while increasing the value of your home.

What’s the deal with a pre-listing home inspection?

What’s the deal with a pre-listing home inspection?

Home inspections have become commonplace in the Ontario real estate industry. In fact, many deals hinge on the completion of a home inspection report that is satisfactory to the buyer involved. Traditionally, the buyer has been responsible for paying for and arranging an inspection after the offer has been accepted. The seller agrees to facilitate access to the home for the inspector, the buyer and usually the buyer’s realtor during an agreed upon time frame before the deal becomes firm.

In recent years, however, some sellers have taken the reins and obtained a pre-listing home inspection before their home even hits the market. There are a number of reasons why a pre-listing home inspection can benefit sellers.

1. Be the first to find out about any problems. Obtaining an inspection before listing a home puts the seller in the driver’s seat when it comes to necessary fixes, whether major or minor. Some buyers will get hung up on small repairs, especially if a few start piling up during a home inspection. By having a pre-listing inspection done, the seller can repair leaky faucets, secure handrails on staircases, improve inadequate insulation, etc. before buyers begin viewing their home. And if there are major issues discovered, the seller can decide how to proceed, attaching any repair estimates or paid invoices to the inspection report.

2. It encourages a firm deal. If a buyer can view a completed home inspection report before making their offer, they know exactly what they purchasing and will likely feel more comfortable forgoing a home inspection condition in the offer.

3. Convenience. By obtaining a pre-listing home inspection, the seller is able to hire a reputable inspector (choose one who is a member of the OAHI – the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors) and schedule the appointment at their convenience.

A pre-listing home inspection also benefits buyers. It will help them determine a fair offer price and decide if they are willing to repair any highlighted issues before making an offer. Buyers will also enjoy a savings of $350-$500 off their closing costs (the typical cost of an inspection).

What forms are needed when buying or selling a home?

What forms are needed when buying or selling a home?

When it comes to buying or selling a home, there are a few important documents that will come into play during the process. Some of these forms include pre-written clauses that your realtor will discuss and explain to you. Due to the nature of these contracts, be sure to read them thoroughly and always, always ask for clarification if needed.

Seller Representation Agreement (Listing Agreement): The listing agreement serves a number of functions. It establishes the relationship between the brokerage (and real estate representative) and the seller, it outlines specifics about the property for sale and it explains the services that will be performed and remuneration agreed upon. A Data Input Form will also be completed, describing the property in more depth i.e. legal description, age, room dimensions, zoning, etc.

Seller Property Information Statement (SPIS): Completing this form is optional for sellers. This form expands on information already provided about the property for sale, including items like restrictive covenants, known easements, details about past renovations, moisture issues, etc. If a SPIS has been provided by the seller, the salesperson should inform potential buyers of its existence. It is important to note that the SPIS is not a warranty or guarantee for buyers and should not replace a home inspection.

Buyer Representation Agreement: This agreement is an authority granted by a buyer to a real estate brokerage to act on his or her behalf during the purchase of a property. It outlines and explains the responsibilities of both parties and the commission arrangement. While a realtor in Ontario is required to complete the agreement and submit it to the buyer before any offer is made, the buyer is under no obligation to sign it.

Agreement of Purchase and Sale: An agreement of purchase and sale is like a conversation in writing that expresses the buyer’s wish to purchase a property and the proposed terms of sale. It only becomes legally binding when everything is mutually agreed upon and signed by both parties. Commonly referred to as an offer, this document summarizes the terms that the buyer is seeking. Items always covered in the agreement of purchase and sale will be deposit amount and sale price, conditions, chattels and fixtures, completion (closing) date, etc.

While the exact forms may vary from city to city across the province, the fundamental concept behind each is the same.

Protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning

Protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning

It’s been two years since regulations came into effect requiring the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in every home. Yet every year 50 Canadians still perish from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Known as ‘the silent killer’, CO is a tasteless, odorless, invisible gas that is a product of combustion. If you’re thinking that there’s no way for carbon monoxide to enter your home, you may be surprised by some of the sources. It is found in fumes of automobiles, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, fireplaces, gas ranges and heating systems. Danger can occur when there is a ‘problem with ventilation, creating a buildup in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space’.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, chest pain and confusion, though many fall unconscious before they can remove themselves from the affected area. Over time, CO poisoning will cause irreversible brain damage and even death.

If your home is still without a CO detector, head to your local hardware store and pick one up for under $50. There are a few different types of detectors on the market – some are battery operated, some are hard-wired into the wiring of your home and some simply plug into an electrical outlet. Because CO mixes with air and doesn’t rise like smoke does, it can be placed at any height in a room but should always be located near sleeping areas.

Be sure to have a conversation with children or elderly relatives living in the home so that they understand the purpose of a CO detector and what action they should take if they hear the alarm. The alarms typically emit a different sound than a standard smoke detector, so make sure your family knows the difference. Just like with smoke alarms, when the carbon monoxide detectors goes off, leave the building and call 911 from a safe place.

For more information about carbon monoxide safety, visit the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs at http://www.oafc.on.ca/carbon-monoxide.

Prevent frozen pipes in your home this winter

Prevent frozen pipes in your home this winter

While burst water pipes aren’t extremely common, it does happen on occasion and it’s definitely something you want to do your best to avoid. Now that the winter weather has arrived, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you won’t have to deal with the mess and expense of a burst water pipe.

Pipes burst because the water inside them freezes and expands. This is most likely to occur in pipes that are particularly vulnerable to cold weather, like those near outside walls and in crawl spaces, attics and in the garage. It can happen with both copper and plastic materials. If a pipe freezes and bursts, water will begin rushing into your home, potentially causing thousands of dollars in damage.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prevent this disaster in your home. Pipes in vulnerable places should be protected with insulation or heat. You can buy foam or fiberglass pipe insulation at your local hardware store to wrap around the pipes. For areas that you are particularly concerned about, pipe heat cables or tape can keep water flowing even in temperatures as low as -40 degrees.

Other ways to prevent a burst pipe:

• If you haven’t already done so, unscrew your outdoor hose; turn off the outdoor water supply and drain.

• Keep your garage door closed at all times.

• Open kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinet doors to let warm air circulate.

• Don’t turn your heat down too low if you’re leaving for a vacation. You shouldn’t drop the thermostat below 55 degrees F (12 degrees Celsius).

If you suspect your pipes are frozen, turn on a basement tap to cold. Apply heat to the suspected frozen area of the pipe using hot, wet rags, a blow dryer or an electric heating pad. Never use an open flame.

Make sure you are aware of the location of your home’s main water shut-off valve. If a pipe does burst, you will need to shut off the water supply immediately and contact a plumber. Do your best to clean up any water quickly to prevent mold and mildew damage.

Keep your winter gear under control

Keep your winter gear under control

Unless you’re the queen or king of organization, you likely have boxes or bags in your home stuffed with winter wear. Tangled scarves, mismatched mittens, bulky coats and stray boots – these are just a few of the items you can expect to invade your foyer or mudroom this winter, especially with the winter we’ve already been having. With just a little effort, you can cut down on the clutter and hopefully prevent yourself from buying the same winter wear items over and over again.

A home for everything – Regardless of your storage method of choice (bins, baskets, lockers will all do the trick) it’s important to give each family member an area for their own stuff and make them accountable for it. Add a little flair to each family member’s area by personalizing it with a monogram or nameplate.

Multi-purpose storage – You know those plastic shoe organizers that hang over the back of your closet door? They are ideal for storing smaller loose items like mittens, scarves, hats and umbrellas. Buy an organizer with clear pockets so you can easily identify its contents. Because these hang vertically you will save plenty of closet space, too!

Choose hooks over hangers – Let’s face it, kids are busy little creatures and they are much more likely to hang their coat on a hook than they are to take the time to use a hanger. Install hooks or pegs under an entranceway shelf for hanging wet coats and scarves that need some drying time before stashing away. The inside of the closet is another great place to introduce these handy organizers.

Make the most of your space – Use that empty space below your coats in the closet. Add a pull drawer system, or multi-tiered shoe racks in order to put that space to good use.

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