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Deck the Halls! A Guide for Staging Your Home During the Holidays

Decorating your home for the holidays is a festive tradition but it’s important that buyers are still able to imagine themselves living there.  Here are a few seasonal staging tips to keep in mind:

  • Curb Appeal Counts – A few lights and a tasteful wreath on the front door will elegantly accent your home.  Remember to also display some photos of what you yard looks like during the summer months.

  • First Impressions – Hallways are usually quite cramped and dark so remove any unnecessary items, ensure you have adequate lighting and keep decorations to a minimum.

  • Deck the Halls (a little) – Too many decorations will make your home appear small and cluttered.  Also, never decorate over architectural selling features.

  • Bows & Bells – Put away wrapping paper, tape, ribbons, etc. before showings but don’t just stuff them in your closets as buyers usually peek in cupboards to see how spacious they are.

  • Holiday Cheer – Seasonal treats such as hot apple cider and holiday cookies will give your home a welcoming feel.  It may even encourage buyers to stick around a little longer!

Although there are fewer buyers during the holiday season, they’re usually more serious plus there aren’t as many listings to compete with.  Your home will show beautifully if you use decorations to draw attention to its best features.  Just keep the decorations to a minimum so buyers aren’t overwhelmed, distracted or turned off.

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Have a “green” eco-friendly holiday season

A few small changes will have you dreaming of a green Christmas!
The holiday season is a magical time of year but it can also be a time of great waste. However, It’s easy to enjoy Christmas cheer and still reduce your carbon footprint. Here are a few ideas:

  • Decorate Naturally – Bring the scent of nature into your home with evergreens, fir cones and cranberries.
  • Think Outside the Box – All those gift bags, ribbons and bows account for an incredible amount of waste so try and reuse old wrapping paper.
  • Light Up Mindfully – Everyone loves the twinkle of holiday lights but for the sake of the environment, use LED lights and remember to turn them off before going to bed.
  • One, Two, Tree – Real trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen all while sustaining the local economy. Artificial trees, on the other hand, can’t be recycled and may contain toxins

The holiday season is a great opportunity to start eco-friendly family traditions that will hopefully be passed down for many generations to come. Better still, these methods are as easy on your wallet as they are on the environment!

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Find your dream home with these ONLINE TIPS

Hunting for a new home online is a great place to start your search, but it should not be your end all be all. Good listing agents are excellent at highlighting the best features of the home, but keep in mind there may be more than meets the eye. To make the most of your time and efforts and gather a well-rounded picture of home listings online, keep the following three things in mind.

  • Stay up to date. When you start your search, make sure you find a site that pulls up-to-date listings directly from the multiple listing service (MLS) www.OrangevilleForSale.ca updates daily so you’ll find that dream home here, first! Many online resources update less often or fail to remove listings that are off the market, making it more difficult to sort through the clutter.
  • Pictures can be deceiving. Real estate photographers are experts at showing a home in the best possible light. Many use tools and strategies to boost appeal, such as a fisheye lens to make areas look larger and creative editing to make colors and textures really pop. But, often listings will not contain photos of unappealing parts of the home, like small closets or outdated bathrooms.
  • See it to believe it. Once you find what appears to be your dream home online, contact us and schedule a showing. You want to take the opportunity to vet the home in person and explore every part of it before beginning the offer process. Your real estate agent will help you cover all your bases and will ask questions you may not have thought of.

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He said, SHE SHED!

A women’s answer to the Man Cave. Or an alternative Men Cave for the refined gentleman! It’s been said that sheds are the answer to men’s ailments. But why should men have all the sheds?

Every woman deserves a shed of her own — somewhere to retreat for some solitude, to create or grow, to write or paint, or just to enjoy the view.   The “she shed” trend is here to stay. More and more ladies are staking claim to backyard sheds as a little place to call their own, whether it be for gardening or just somewhere to curl up with a good book. If you have a neglected potting shed in your backyard, you’re in luck! Here are a few ways to get started and spruce up your shed to create that unique space to call your own.

  1. Clean out your old backyard shed—or use a kit to build a new one. (Shed’s at Home Hardware)
  2. Give your shed a fresh coat of paint.
  3. Define the purpose of your shed.
  4. Search flea markets and antique shops for unique finds.
  5. Surround yourself with nature.
  6. Create an inviting entryway.
  7. Equip the space for entertaining.
  8. Make sure your shed is a reflection of you.

PRO TIP: Be sure to check with the city by-laws and conservation before building. Some sheds may require a building permit. Below is an excerpt from the Town of Orangeville’s shed bylaws: “Accessory buildings such as a shed, etc. separate from the existing home or building and over 10 square metres or 107 sq ft. If the accessory building is under 107 sq ft, a building permit is not required, but check with the Planning Department for height restrictions” For further information visit the Town of Orangeville’s bylaws web page.

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Closing Costs – An FAQ for Home Buyers

The payment of closing costs is one of the last things that happens during the home buying process. For a home buyer, it’s important to understand what closing costs are and how much they’ll cost. Home buyers who go into the process with this knowledge are often more prepared to buy a home. What Are Closing Costs? Closing costs are the administrative fees associated with certain steps of the home buying process. Closing costs can vary depending on where the house is, how much it costs and other factors. Still, most home buyers pay between 1.5% and 4% of the purchase price of the home in closing costs. Budgeting for this money up front can help home buyers who are just starting process of purchasing a home. When Are Closing Costs Paid? Closing costs are paid on the last day of the home buying process. On that day, all financial transactions are handled by the lawyer. After all financial transactions have been settled, the attorney transfers the keys to buyer. From that point forward, the home is considered purchased and the buyer may finally move in. What Type of Administrative Fees are Included In Closing Costs? The type of fees that get paid as a part of closing costs vary from one home sale to the next. Home buyers who need to know how much they can expect to pay in closing costs should talk to their mortgage lender, attorney and insurance agent. This will help the home buyer estimate the costs that he or she can expect to pay. Some of the expenses that home buyers often end up paying as a part of their closing costs include the following.

  • Land Transfer Tax The land transfer tax is a percentage of the home’s purchase price. In some areas, this tax is administered by the city as well as the province. Since this varies by region, the best way to find out what the land transfer tax will be is to talk to an attorney. Check out Ratehub.ca’s webpage on  Calculating Land Transfer Tax.
  • Real Estate Lawyer Most home buyers elect to hire a real estate lawyer to help them through the purchase process. This attorney helps the home buyer by drafting the paperwork, looking over the documentation and checking the title. The lawyer is the person who usually gives the key to the home buyer at the end of the transaction. Often the lawyer is around $1,500.
  • Title Insurance Title insurance is a type of insurance that protects the homeowner from loss if the ownership of the home is ever disputed. Although title disputes are not common, title insurance is inexpensive enough that many people will get it anyway.
  • Provincial Sales Tax on CMHC Insurance CMHC insurance is the mortgage insurance that is required on home purchases where less than 20% is put down to purchase the home. Typically, a homeowner will pay for their mortgage insurance as a part of their normal monthly mortgage payments. However, some areas require the sales tax on the mortgage insurance to be paid with the rest of the closing costs.

Work With Your Real Estate Agent If you’re a home buyer thinking about purchasing a home in Orangecille, now is the time to contact us! A good real estate agent with knowledge of the market can help you from the initial offer to the close of the sale. We can help you determine what your closing costs will be and help you work with the various other people involved in the home sale to finalize the sale process.

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Six Things to Remember while Viewing a Property

When you’re in the market to buy, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. The prospect of a new living space is exciting… the spacious, inviting entryway, the perfectly arranged decor in the living room, the shiny kitchen with those white marble countertops. You’re now daydreaming about your perfect life in this perfect home. You’ve always wanted an all-white kitchen, and the light carpet will be fine with the two dogs and five-year-old. It’s berber, so it should be more durable? We’ll simply implement a no-paws and shoes policy! If you find yourself in THAT headspace, the sellers and listing agents have done a spectacular job marketing that property to you. You’re in! Give me that contract!! But wait. What about the schools close by? How much do utility bills cost in a house? You’re used to condo living and condo bills. Assuming you’ve already checked off your pre qualification items (credit approval, interest rate check etc), there are very important items that a buyer must not forget to address during the home-viewing process. We’ve put together a checklist for you to print (yes, print) to have on hand while you’re out there – getting a reality check earlier could save you from unwelcome surprises later. Six Things to Remember while Viewing a Property

  1. Future Maintenance Upgrades. Keep your eyes and nose on high alert here, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you see rust on the AC unit, water heater, or furnace, it could indicate lack of maintenance – and are potentially costly to repair or replace. For detached properties, ask about the roof (has it needed repair? When was it installed?). Do you smell something musty or earthy, even if in only a room? Musty odour can indicate mould and should be addressed right away.
  2. Future Cosmetic Upgrades. Where did the Seller invest in the home? Kitchens, bathrooms, roofing and utility upgrades are the most expensive areas to upgrade. If you’re going to want to eventually renovate that powder room, it would be wise to keep that in mind.
  3. School District. It can be a royal nightmare trying to get your child in a school that is not in your district. If you’re set on a certain school, it is well worth exploring properties in that district first.
  4. Utility Bills, Strata Fees and Taxes. This may not so much of an issue if you’re downsizing, but if you’re moving up, these are worth paying attention to. If you’re looking at condos, check the strata minutes diligently, as well as the reserve. The last thing you need after putting a deposit down is finding out that the sliding doors in the entryway have broken and needs to be completely replaced…or realizing your utility bill was a little more than a few dollars more, due to the efficiency of the heating system.
  5. Improvement Potential. If you’re comfortable with a little DIY (or moving into a less-than-perfectly-finished space), it is well worth looking at areas with improvement potential (does the carpet have hardwood underneath?). Less than perfect spaces aren’t priced at a premium and will provide you with upside potential when you’re ready to sell, and you have the freedom to design it to your own taste.
  6. Can Your Family Grow? Can the home expand along with your family’s changing needs? This doesn’t need to mean a child; if you’re single, what if you become a couple? 500 SQFT can become real tight, really quickly.

Every property is unique and requires a critical eye. the above is just a starting point. Allowing us to show you a property provides you access to our years of experience evaluating properties, and to the connections we have with Trade professionals to get answers quickly. We provide a analytical perceptive to every property and know how to find answers to help you make decisions. If we can’t be with you than download and take this Property Checklist with you on home tours! Contact us after and we can discuss options.

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10 Big Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Buyer’s Agent

It’s common for Sellers to interview several real estate agents before hiring one, yet the amount of due diligence that Buyers do is negligible. We regularly see Buyers hire their co-worker’s brother who just got his license, their cousin who drives a cab full-time AND has a real estate license, or their Mom’s agent who works in the ‘burbs. This is likely the biggest purchase you’ve ever made – shouldn’t you be hiring the best agent to represent you? 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Buyer Agent

  1. What is your experience in the neighbourhoods I’m interested in? Part of the process of buying a home involves evaluating neighbourhoods and communities and your real estate agent should be the quarterback in that process. Experienced agents can tell you how a neighbourhood is changing, comment on the quality of the schools and know where to find the closest grocery store and park. Better yet: in your initial meeting, they should ask questions about the type of lifestyle you want to live and suggest neighbourhoods you haven’t yet considered.
  2. What is your expertise in the type of property I want to buy? Buying a condo isn’t like buying a house, and lofts, co-ops and commercial properties each have unique considerations and challenges. It’s important that the agent you choose to represent you can help you focus on what’s different and why that’s important. In-depth knowledge about wet basements and knob and tube wiring doesn’t matter if you’re buying a condo, and knowledge about which lofts are the noisiest doesn’t matter if you’re buying a house.
  3. Tell me about your negotiation style and experience. Studies show that one of the most important things Buyers want in their real estate agent is negotiation skill, however, negotiation isn’t something that’s covered in much depth in Ontario’s real estate licensing courses. Top Buyer Agents have sought out additional education like the Certified Negotiation Expert designation or the advanced designation of Master Certified Negotiation Expert and will easily be able to tell you how they approach a negotiation.
  4. What are the legal pitfalls I need to worry about? This question is meant to test the agent’s legal knowledge. Sure, you’ll be hiring a real estate lawyer to help you close on the property, but there are all sorts of legal issues that will come up before closing day. Realtors should be familiar with disclosures, conditions, the offer paperwork, closing issues, representation intricacies and more.
  5. What is your approach to winning a bidding war? This is a biggie if you’re buying a house in Sellers Market. Great Buyer Agents understand what’s required to win a bidding war (and no, it’ NOT just buckets of money). Time and again we see Buyers at a disadvantage on offer night because their agent didn’t know the basics of winning a bidding war.
  6. What is your experience in helping people like me? Buying a home often happens during a period of transition and it’s important to understand if the agent you’re thinking of hiring has worked with people like you before. Are you a single first-time buyer? Investor? Going through a divorce? Downsizing? Moving to the city? Buying a new house because your family is growing? There are unique considerations for every different kind of Buyer and it’s critical that your agent understands what these are.
  7. Can I talk to some of your past clients? Hopefully, you’ve done your due diligence before the meeting and have already sought reviews for the agents you’re meeting with, online. But what would those past Buyers say about their experience now? Even if you don’t want to call references, how the agents handle the question during the interview can tell you a lot.
  8. What kinds of partnerships do you have with home service professionals? A top agent will not only have connections with lawyers, lenders, appraisers, surveyors and home inspectors, but they’ll have preferred relationships with handymen, painters, electricians, plumbers, cleaners and more.
  9. Tell me about your current relationships with past clients. Your relationship with your REALTOR shouldn’t end when you get the keys to your new home. While you don’t need to become friends with your agent (though that frequently happens), you’ll want to be able to rely on them when something goes wrong with the house (eg. water in the basement or scratching noises in the attic). Our past clients know they can count on us to help them evaluate future renovation decisions too and that we’ll keep them informed about changes to the value of their home.

The heart matters too. Sometimes, you just need to listen to your gut. Is the agent listening to you? Are they asking good questions? Do you feel they understand what you want? Do you trust them? Do you like them? If you’re looking for a Buyer Agent in Orangeville, we’d love to be considered. Get in touch to see if one of us is the right agent for you.

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Maintain Your Home To Retain Its Value

It takes a lot of effort to keep a home clean and in working order inside and out, but it pays off according to Ray Ferris, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “By taking care of your home you will preserve the value and quality of your investment,” says Ferris. “It also makes a difference to a neighbourhood when everyone takes care of their property.” In a recent survey by OREA, seven out of 10 home sellers in Ontario said that ‘cleanliness’ is very important to retaining a home’s future resale value. In comparison, half said that a new/renovated kitchen is very important, while 46 per cent said the same for a renovated bathroom. “If a potential buyer is willing to install a new kitchen or bathroom, but can’t envision the new room on account of an ill-kept home, they may decide to look elsewhere,” says Ferris. “With regular maintenance and upkeep, home owners stand to attract the right kind of attention from potential buyers.” Here are just a few simple tips for keeping your home in tip-top shape:

  1. Curb appeal: A home’s exterior sets the tone for what the inside might look like. Convince buyers your home is worth exploring by keeping the walls and windows clean, the lawn healthy and mowed and the trees trimmed.
  2. Repairs: Set aside some savings for those unexpected big repairs, such as roof, plumbing and electrical problems. By keeping up with minor fixes – weatherproofing, cleaning gutters, replacing broken roof tiles or shingles – you can prevent major problems later on.
  3. Upgrades: If a new kitchen or bathroom is not in the cards, consider other upgrades like new water fixtures or energy-saving appliances to boost the value of your home.

“A Realtor understands what gives a home its value, and can explain to a home buyer what they should be looking for,” says Ferris. “When the time comes to sell, these same criteria will have a big impact on the selling price.”

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National Volunteer Week April 15-21, 2018

Celebrate the value of volunteering – building confidence, competence, connections, and community. When we give back, we raise each other up. Volunteers are the backbone of any organization and community and make Orangeville and Dufferin a better, vibrant and prosperous community to live. Looking to inspire? Wanting to get involved? There are plenty of great opportunities, and people in need, who could use your help. Visit www.volunteerdufferin.ca for a list of groups and organizations looking for volunteers. Be someone who improves the lives of others to build a better community, one selfless act at a time.

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Bank of Canada – Interest Rate Announcement | April 2018

The Bank of Canada is maintaining its trend-setting interest rate as its careful assessment of the timing of future hikes continues amid a backdrop of moderating growth. The central bank, which kept its rate at 1.25 per cent Wednesday, said slower first-quarter growth of about 1.3 per cent was largely a result of housing markets’ responses to stricter mortgage rules and sluggish exports. The bank had predicted the economy to expand by 2.5 per cent in the first three months of the year. It’s expecting the economy to rebound in the second quarter with 2.5 per cent growth, in part because of rising foreign demand, to help Canada expand by two per cent for all of 2018. The economy saw three per cent growth in 2017. “Canada’s economic growth has moderated, and the economy is operating close to capacity,” the bank said in its latest monetary policy report, which was released alongside the rate announcement. “While a moderation was anticipated, temporary factors … are resulting in sizable short-term fluctuations in growth.” The bank reiterated it expects further interest-rate hikes to be necessary over time and that it will follow a cautious, data-dependent approach when weighing future decisions. “Some progress has been made on the key issues being watched closely by governing council, particularly the dynamics of inflation and wage growth,” the bank’s statement said. “This progress reinforces governing council’s view that higher interest rates will be warranted over time, although some monetary policy accommodation will still be needed to keep inflation on target.” The bank will also continue to watch the economy’s sensitivity to higher interest rates and how well it builds capacity through investment, which would enable Canada to lift growth beyond what is viewed as its potential ceiling without driving up inflation. Signs suggest the economy has made some progress in building this capacity, the bank said. The bank is also keeping a close watch on the evolution of external risks. Exports and business investment in Canada have been held back by competitiveness challenges and trade-policy uncertainties, which include escalating geopolitical conflicts that risk damaging global expansion, the bank said. It laid out estimates on the growth impacts on Canada due to tax reforms in the United States, which are expected to lure more investment south of the border. Due to these investment challenges, it predicts Canada’s gross domestic product to be 0.2 per cent lower by the end of 2020. Exports are also expected to take a hit from reduced investment and trade uncertainties. The bank projects that Canada’s GDP will be 0.3 per cent lower by the end of 2020 due to the negative impacts on exports. Fiscal stimulus introduced in recent provincial budgets is expected to help offset these effects by adding about 0.4 per cent to Canada’s real GDP by the end of 2020. Governor Stephen Poloz introduced three rate hikes since last summer in response to an impressive economic run for Canada that began in late 2016. But due, in part, to factors such as mounting trade unknowns, Poloz has not raised the rate since January. The bank offered an analysis Wednesday of some of the key indicators it’s watching ahead of rate decisions. On inflation, the bank said temporary downward forces weighing on the rate have largely dissipated. Other transitory factors, including higher gasoline prices and recent minimum wage increases are now expected to raise inflation above the bank’s January predictions. Canada’s annual pace of inflation in February sped up to 2.2 per cent _ its fastest pace in more than three years _ to creep above the central bank’s ideal target of two per cent. Meanwhile, the average of the agency’s three measures of core inflation, designed to omit the noise of more-volatile items like gasoline, climbed slightly above two per cent for the first time since February 2012. For wage growth, the bank said despite recent improvements it remains below what would be expected if the economy no longer had slack in its labour force. On Wednesday, the bank also released new economic forecasts in its monetary policy report. For 2018, it’s now predicting two per cent growth, as measured by real gross domestic product, compared to its 2.2 per cent prediction in January. The bank raised its growth projection for 2019 to 2.1 per cent, up from its previous prediction of 1.6 per cent, before easing to 1.8 per cent in 2020. It noted that these readings would still be slightly above Canada’s estimated potential output for the next three years.

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