Selling Your Home with Pets

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Almost everybody loves pets except the home buyer who is buying your house. Don’t ask me why, but that’s often how it works out. Home sellers who adore their pets have a hard time imagining the negative attitudes others harbor against pets. So, while this might be a bitter pill to swallow, if you want to get top dollar for your house, pay attention to how much you might lose with a dog or cat in residence.

#1 Preferred Pet Solution: You’re not going to like this but I’ll say it anyway, fully realizing that this very excellent piece of advice is likely to fall on deaf ears. The best thing to do to ensure top price for your home is to relocate your pets while your home is on the market. Putting them in the back yard, in the garage or in another room that you keep locked is insufficient, and it’s not fair to them. You need to remove them from the house.

  • Let a friend or relative care for Fluffy and Spike.
  • Board them at a kennel.
  • Send them on vacation.

Overcoming Negatives Associated with Your Pets: If you shrug off all professional advice and absolutely refuse to move your pets out of the house, then at least minimize the objections and nuisance factors, real or otherwise:

  • Cat Litter Boxes & Dog Potty Pads – Keep them out of sight and impeccably clean. Nothing turns off buyers faster than opening the door to the laundry room and being greeted by a full or stinky cat box.
  • Carpet & Floor Pet Stains – Hire professionals to remove the stains. Buyers will spot them and form unfavorable opinions about the rest of the house. If the stains can’t be removed, then remove the floor covering and replace it.
  • Pet Odors and Smells
  1. Cat urine is the worst. Without question. The. Worst. Bring in a neighbor to do a whiff test.
  2. Do not use air fresheners. People with allergies will react.
  3. Try enzyme cleaners such as Simple Solution , Nature’s Miracle or call a professional ozone company.

Remove Signs of a Pet: You may be required by state law to disclose that pets have lived in your home, but you don’t need to advertise that pets live at your house. Removing signs that you have a pet is simply smart practice. Why turn off a buyer at the get-go? It’s those first impressions that are so all-fired important.

  • Do not put photos online showing your cat asleep on the bed
  • Seal up doggie doors
  • Put away food and water bowls when not in use
  • Vacuum religiously, every day, sometimes twice a day
  • Pick up pet toys and put them away
  • Pack up cat trees and other signs of cat paraphernalia (you know who you are)
  • Remove photos of pets from refrigerator, walls and table tops
  • Pack up all cages, carriers and other tell-tale signs

Showing Your House – Put your pets into a carrier and attach a note warning buyers not to disturb them. The last thing you need is somebody sticking their hand inside the carrier and getting bit or scratched. You can’t predict how your pet will react when locked up and alone.

Have a quick pre-showing clean-up routine – After your house is cleaned “to the bone,” it’s much easier to tidy up in a hurry. Some tips are a quick swiffer for hardwoods, or vaccum job for carpet.  Keep a blanket on any/all furniture that your pet may cuddle up on. That way, it’s easily thrown in the washing machine, right before you have a showing.  It will do wonders eliminating pet fur as well as odors from your home. De-nose your windows!  We know how dogs love to stare out a front window or door to see which squirrels or birds are about for the day.  But, no buyer will think those cute little dog smudges are as cute as you do. Grab a quick spray of windex, and smudges are squeaky clean!

Curb your pet! – You never get a second chance to make a first impression!   Curb appeal is hugely important to buyers, so let’s make sure that all outside areas of your home are pet free as well.  From your front yard, your back yard, your courtyard, etc.  Make sure your puppy’s playground shows no signs of pets. Pay attention and remove all sticks, toys and ALL OTHER debris that may be present.

A Clean Sweep

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While just about everyone enjoys a clean house, there are precious few who enjoy the work involved. Even the most hygienic of homeowners would rather spend their time doing something else. Make cleaning your home an easier, faster and less unpleasant process with the following tips/

First things first, have the right tools – your cleaning equipments should be easy to maintain while making your task easier. For instance, brooms with angled heads and dusters with telescopic handles make it easier to clean hard-to-reach places; mops with removable heads are easier to clean, and those with loops (as opposed to cut) ends are more effective and durable.

Be sure to keep your cleaning equipment in good working order, too. You’ll spend considerably more time passing a poorly maintained vacuum over the same area of carpeting – and still leave more dirt behind – than you will with a vacuum whose filter you’ve regularly cleaned/replaced or belt you’ve changed as needed.

Now that you’re well equipped, it’s time to get organized. Gather all your essential cleaning supplies – you all-purpose cleaner, sponges, microfiber cloths and gloves, for example – into some kind of caddy that can travel with you from room to room. Having everything you need within handy reach will help prevent you from wasting time or getting distracted as you retrieve that forgotton item.

Organize a plan of attack, too. Figure our what chores need to be done, when, and by whom. Create cleaning checklists and/or schedules that will work for your particular family/lifestyle. You might have a different checklist for each room or person in your home, for example, or checklists for each day, week and/or month.

When it comes time to get down to business, do whatever you need to do to get in the right head space. That might mean cranking up the high-energy music, playing that newly downloaded podcast or streaming your favorite TV show. For those who need to see the light at the end of the tunnel, that may mean setting a timer – when your 15 or 30 minutes are over, so is your work. For parents, that may mean setting up a cleaning game like musical chores for children – when the music changes, the kids switch chores. If it helps motivate you (or your spouse/children) have a reward ready for when the chores are done.

Of course, another helpful way to make your home easy to clean is to design it that way. When you have the opportunity to redecorate, opt for finishes and materials that will help reduce the amount of time you need to spend cleaning, rather than adding to it. Walls needs a fresh coat? Choose a paint with a high scrubbability rating. Carpeting looking worse for wear? Consider it replacing it with carpet tiles rather than the wall-to-wall variety. Ditching those outdated appliances for new models? Avoid stainless steel unless you want to spend more time erasing fingers prints!

Preparing your home for winter!

Give your home a once-over and tend to winter preparation tasks and repairs before the year’s first frost. “Getting the exterior of the home ready for the cold winds, snow and ice is critical for keeping Old Man Winter out and keeping it warm and toasty inside,” says Reggie Marston, president of Residential Equity Management Home Inspections in Springfield, VA. By being proactive, you’ll lower your energy bills, increase the efficiency and lifespan of your home’s components, and make your property safer.

Windows and Doors

  • Check all the weatherstripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weatherstripping, if necessary.
  • Replace all screen doors with storm doors.
  • Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

 

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  • Aerate the lawn, reseed, and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring.
  • Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt grade — around the exterior of your home — should slope away from the house. Add extra dirt to low areas, as necessary.
  • Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton.
  • Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  • Inspect decks for splintering, decay, or insect damage and treat, if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  • Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.
  • Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

 

Tools and Machinery

  • Bring all seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust.
  • Weatherize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass, and debris.
  • Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
  • Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  • Sharpen ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work.
  • Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

 

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

  • Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  • Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
  • Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  • Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  • Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  • Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  • If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  • Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
  • Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
  • Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

 

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
  • Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
  • Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  • Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.

Done? Congratulations!  You’re officially ready for winter.

Original Source: http://www.bobvila.com/articles/502-winter-preparation-checklist/#.VCGU9fldV8E

File Under “To Buy”

Make homebuying less stressful – get organized! Create a homebuyer’s file in which you can gather together all the paperwork and information you’ll need throughout the homebuying process, including (but not limited to):

  • Contact information for those people and services you’ll need throughout the process, like your real estate agent, mortgage representative, insurance broker, home inspector and moving company
  • Your credit report, as well as any correspondence you made or received in an effort to expunge omissions or errors (which are not uncommon) from your report.
  • Documents needed to process your mortgage loan, such as a letter of employment confirmation, pay stubs, bank statements, proof of additional income sources (e.g. rental properties, child support), tax returns, statements of assets (e.g. vehicles, real estate) and liabilities (e.g. student and credit-card loans).
  • The pre-approval letter you received from your mortgage lender, which tells you the specific amount of money you may qualify to borrow.
  • If you sign one with a real estate representative, a copy of the buyer’s agreement, which spells out the terms of agreement, compensation and the respective parties’ duties.
  • Copies of your needs and wants checklist, so you can take one to each property you view.
  • Any photographs you took or notes you made about properties you visited.
  • Information about prospective neighborhoods, such as details on schools, crime rates, recreational facilities, places of worship and transportation.
  • Property surveys, if you’re buying a house.
  • Copies of the rules and regulations for any homeowners association or condominium you’re seriously considering moving to.
  • Copies of inspection reports and appraisal reports.

The Green Advantage

Making eco-friendly improvements to your house is obviously good for the environment, but what’s in it for you? Here’s what you stand to gain by going green.

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  • Saving your money. Beefing up your insulation; swapping single-pane windows for double-panes; replacing your outdated appliances with new ENERGY STAR.- rated models; swapping out old lighting for energyefficient lighbulbs and fixtures and installing low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets will help lower both your energy and water bills – that means that over the long run, more money stays in your pocket each and every month. Plus, certain energy-efficient improvements may even qualify you for tax break, saving you even more money.
  • Making your house a healthier place to live. Traditional paints and carpets, for example, off-gas volatile organic compounds, contributing to indoor air pollution. By applying low-VOC paint and opting for eco-friendly flooring alternatives (such as bamboo, cork, linoleum, or low-VOC carpeting), you’ll improve your home’s air quality. The results? Sleep better; breathe easier; have fewer headaches; and experience less risk of any associated nausea, dizziness, and ear, nose, and throat irritations.
  • Boosting your home’s resale value. Homebuyers are increasingly seeing the value in a more eco-friendly house, precisely due to the lower utility bills and health benefits discussed above. Green improvements both big and small can increase your home’s attractiveness to potential buyers (who are themselves concerned with resale value), helping sell your house faster and for more money.

Factors that are Best Ignored

No property is perfect – each one you come across will have its flaws, but while some are justifiable grounds for crossing a home off your list, others aren’t. Below are four things that shouldn’t be deal breakers:

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  • Unappealing décor. Outdated or ultra-modern: whatever the reason you’re turned off by a potential property’s d.cor, keep in mind that this is a cosmetic flaw – in other words, it’s a problem that’s easily solved. If you can’t look past the gaudy wallpaper, stained carpeting, and/or shabby cabinetry, you might just miss out on a property perfectly suited to your needs.
  • Minor repairs. A home in need of significant (read: costly) work is one you’d be justified in walking away from. But problems of a “leaks and squeaks” nature – faucets, cupboards, and drawers needing a little attention, for example – are minor, and relatively easy and inexpensive to repair; as such, they shouldn’t put you off an otherwise sound property.
  • Odors. Certain odors – the smell of mold for instance – are always cause for concern, and you wouldn’t want to live near a factory that produces a foul smell, of course. But odors from cooking, smoking, or pets, while unpleasant, can be dealt with; walls can be washed and repainted with odor-eliminating paint, and carpets can be steam cleaned, for example.
  • The listing. Sometimes, buyers write off a property before they even see it due to the listing itself – perhaps the photos are unflattering, the price seems too high or low, or it’s been on the market for a long time. Consider that if your real estate representative shows you such a listing, there must be a reason – give it a chance.

Finishing Touches

Furniture is a practical necessity, but it’s through our accessories that we really express our style and personality, make our living spaces utterly unique and “complete” our environments. Below are five home décor accessories that are essential for turning any house – or condo – into a home.

  • Art. But not just any old art: pieces you truly connect with, that you love to look at each and every day, be they fabric wall-hangings, travel photography from your globe-trekking adventures, or Dadaist prints. Just avoid the all-too-common décor faux pas of hanging your art too high. And consider highlighting (some of) your art with accent lighting (such as picture lights, which attach to picture frames; recessed lighting; or ceiling-mounted spotlights) to really make an impactful statement of your art.
  • Plants. Make your home come alive (literally!) with a living accessory. In addition to looking (and often smelling) good, plants are functional too. They can help camouflage flaws (block an unsightly view with a strategically placed plant); be used to create a focal point (a big Thatch palm or Dracaena tree makes a bold statement); and improve your indoor air quality (English ivy, Boston ferns, and rubber, spider, and snake plants are excellent choices for this purpose). Just do your homework before bringing any plant into your home – some species can be toxic to pets or people.
  • Rugs. It’s been said that a rug can really tie a room together. Available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, they’re a great way to add color, pattern, and texture to a room, and warmth and softness to cold, hardwood or stone floors. Rugs can serve to provide a room’s focal point (think bold colors and geometric patterns), or to define certain areas, or zones, in an open-concept floorplan – make sure the rug is big enough to go under the furniture pieces that define the zone.
  • Lamps. The overhead fixtures that come with most rooms may provide adequate general (or ambient) lighting, but left at that, a room looks rather stark. No décor is truly complete until it has the three light layers (ambient, task, and accent) needed to establish mood and provide functional lighting for the room’s uses. Floor and table lamps are key to providing ambient and task lighting, but they needn’t look utilitarian – with so many choices available, you can express your style through lamps just as easily as you can through artwork or rugs.
  • A collection. As so many of us have something we collect, and those collections reveal much about our personality and passions to anyone visiting our home, why not make them part of the décor? Whatever the nature of your collection – books, records, tea pots, or vintage cameras – you’d be surprised at the number of creative ways it can be incorporated into your décor. Displays of collections can be so ingeniously creative, in fact, as to qualify as that first thing on this list: art.

10 Ways to Get Your House in Tip Top Shape Prior to Selling It!

…and maximize the most income!

Many people want to know what the secret is to getting the most out of their real estate and to appeal to the consumers looking for real estate today. This report will guide you through doing many of those things that will help you get the most money when selling your property:

  1. Paint the interior: Most buyers appreciate a good fresh coat of paint and this will help enhance your properties value. It will also help brighten your house, giving it a new, clean appearance. Stay away from bold, dark and bright colours and focus more on the lighter and softer, earth tone, shades. This will also help make the rooms feel larger and appeal to a broader demographic.
  2. Paint the outside: Curb appeal is important! Of course, depending on the time of the year and the weather conditions. As noted above, stick to lighter neutral colours and stay away from bright colours that people might not like.
  3. Pick up any outside debris, trash or clutter: First impressions make a huge impact on potential buyers. Should your property have unwanted clutter at the initial greeting point, it will not help the marketing and selling of your home. A few hard hours of raking, cleaning and picking up odds-and-ends could add money to your pocket!
  4. Reduce extras and odds and ends from your home: Rooms with too much furniture or decorations can often detract from the showing of your home. Usually too much decor can make the rooms look smaller and may hurt your chances of selling your home. Store unneeded furniture or items that you can do without during the marketing stage of your property listing. Your goal is to make your property look spacious and comfortable. Buyers also want to see rooms that appear and look spacious to them.
  5. Be sure to open blinds and draperies: This is a great idea to help aid the salesperson to sell your home. When your property is in tip top shape and ready to show, having as much light as possible helps brighten your home and gives it a welcoming feel.
  6. Avoid playing music: Although you may like the music playing in the background, it can be a deterrent to the agent and buyers while looking at your home. Keep music off while your home is being shown.
  7. Price your property right from the beginning: Many buyers take the approach and attitude that they can always come down on price. This can be a bad thing to do. Many buyers feel if a home has been listed for a long time that there is something wrong with it. Most agents will tell you that the best activity occurs during the first two to three weeks of the listing begin date. After a few weeks the activity will begin to taper off and showings will decrease, If your home is priced incorrectly from the beginning it will not get a lot of showings and the longer your home is on the market, the more buyers will feel that it’s tainted. Price your home right at the beginning to help get the most activity and a quicker sale. Win-win.
  8. Have your carpets cleaned: It is a good idea to have your carpets cleaned or your hardwood floors polished/waxed. This is normally not too expensive and can usually add a lot of appeal to potential buyers.
  9. Hire a staging company: If possible, hire a staging company to help show you ways to maximize room appeal and value to your residence. Robyn Moser and Associates works with Designing First Impressions with all listings, at no cost to the client.
  10. Purchase new linens and towels for bathrooms: This can help aid in giving a new appearance to your home.

Legendary Luxury

Calgary’s million dollar market continues to shatter records

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Just one month after setting the all-time record for luxury sales, Calgary’s million dollar homes market has once again set a new mark.

June saw 104 sales of homes priced at $1 million or more, topping the previous record of 94 million-dollar plus sales, set in May. Prior to that, the previous record was 83, set in May 2013.

“Million-plus home sales within city limits continue to rise representing a larger share of total sales activity,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “After the first half of the year, 462 sales were over $1 million, representing 3.32 per cent of all the sales in the city.

“While the market share in this sector has steadily improved over the past five years, 2014 represents the first time over this same time frame that the share of sales in the million-plus sector
are larger than those in the lower end of the market (under $200,000).”

The record for the most million dollar plus sales in a year came last year when 732 homes were sold in the city, easily surpassing the previous record of 544 set in 2012.

“Calgary has undergone a massive transformation in recent years,” said Ross McCredie, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International. “Top-tier real estate in the city and surrounding areas is in high demand not just from local homebuyers, but from those traveling and moving her from other parts of the country and around the world.”

Sotheby’s recently introduced private jet and helicopter services to aid affluent buyers and sellers in the area. The company also announced plans to double its presence in the city, taking on expanded office space as well as adding an increased number of agents – all aimed at dealing with the increased amount of high-end homes changing hands in and around the city.

“Our growth here reflects confidence in Calgary’s appeal locally and internationally,” said McCredie. Highlighting the opulence up for grabs in the Calgary is a sprawling estate currently listed on MLS for the tidy sum of $37.9 million. The 5,000-square-foot home sits on 98 hectares in the Municipal District of Foothills – land once owned by the Ford family.

Constructed within the last five years, the home features $6 million in finishings, a detached heated triple-car garage, a working vintage gas station and a barn and livestock area.

Further evidence of Calgary’s growing luxury sector also came recently with the announcement of a new downtown condo development called The Concord, which will feature units starting around $1 million and climbing to $13 million. The project, when complete, will consist of two towers of more than 200 units ranging from 1,000 to 6,000 square feet.

Developed by Concord Pacific – which also recently agreed to develop up to five residential towers at the North Hill Shopping Centre – The Concord will be, in the words of the developer, Calgary’s “most luxurious multi-family residential development.”

“In addition to its pinnacle location on the Bow River in the prestigious community of Eau Claire, The Concord will feature amenities and design elements never before seen in Calgary,” said the company. “They include extensive flood-mitigation measures, in-suite emergency power, kitchens worth as much as a two-bedroom condo home, skating rink, private elevators and garages big enough to fit all the toys.”

As Calgary continues to draw more residents, and as home prices continue to rise, the relevance of newer homes closer to the core has aided the upswing in the luxury sector, said Lurie.

“This is a segment of the market that is growing as prices continue to rise,” she said. “However, if we look at this segment of the market, a large number of these properties are located in communities in close proximity to the core. In addition, nearly 27 per cent of all million-plus sales are for properties that were built within the last three years.”

Originally Posted: http://www.crebnow.com/legendary-luxury/

Cody Stuart – July 07, 2014

Balancing Act

Buy before selling or sell before buying? That’s the dilemma every homeowner must eventually face. The former choice is often the more problematic one for the following reasons:

  • First and most obviously, you’ll be saddled with two mortgages to pay. Few people can afford to carry that burden for even a short period of time. Even fewer can handle it indefinitely, which leads us to the next problem….
  • The market could cool down. If there’s a downturn after you buy your next home, and you still have a property to sell, you could be on the hook for two mortgages for weeks, or even months longer than you’d bargained for.
  • Prices could drop. If they do, the property you still need to unload could sell for significantly less money than you’d anticipated or were counting on – an especially precarious position to be in when you’ve already purchased your next home.
  • Buying before selling can weaken your position as a buyer. Given a choice, sellers typically would rather not deal with a buyer whose money is tied up in another property or whose offer is conditional upon first selling their home.
  • Buying before selling can weaken your position as a seller. Unless you can afford to carry those two mortgages, you’ll nee dot sell fast; under pressure of deadline, you may need to accept an offer you otherwise wouldn’t consider,

Dealing with a home sale and a home purchase can be a difficult juggling act. For help keeping all the balls in the air, talk to us and your mortgage adviser – We’re here to discuss your options and figure out which makes the most sense for you.