Advice from a Buyer(s) to Seller(s)

It’s been a minute since I blogged about anything, but since Dec 2018, I have sold 2 homes (1 primary residence and 1 rental I co-owned w my ex-partner) and bought one that I currently reside in.

Being on this side of the glass recently has reminded me of the expectations buyers have when they look at a home.  Here is my advice to you, my seller(s):

  1.  Please mow your lawn or shovel your path and maintain your yard overall…there is nothing less inviting than a foot long climb through the green stuff or passed mounds of pet droppings to get to the front door (and now I expect the inside to look the same).
  2.   Don’t smoke in your home or porch and if you did, paint your walls and replace the carpets.  It can be so bad that I have literally walked in the front door and walked right back out (w clients and as a recent buyer).
  3.   You can definitely live in your home, but having the dishes done and the clothes off the floor and in the hamper as it goes a long way in making me (and my clients) feel like I could live here.
  4.   Fresh paint (inside and out…see #2) makes everything feel new again…true story!
  5.   Finish all the little projects you have left until now (ie: patch the hole in the wall where lil’ Becky hit it with her hockey stick, add the last piece of baseboard on the LR wall, organize the basement and leave room for a buyer to dream of a rec room and or gym).
  6.   Clean the litter box EVERY SINGLE DAY…you know what I am talking about.
  7.   Unfortunately, yes, remove all the family photos and overly personalized wall art and de-clutter your space so it looks, well….wait for it…SPACIOUS to the new potential owner!
  8.   Set up each room (if possible) with its intended use items (bed in bedroom, desk and chair in office)…remember, less is more.
  9.   Leave receipts, disclosures, lists of repairs for the buyer to read and feel at ease with your home.
  10.   Scents are everything (see #2 and #6) so if you have a diffuser or dehumidifier (for the moist basements), use them prior to showings.

There are more, but these were my top of mind suggestions at the time of writing.  You can certainly contact me to consult on other questions or concerns you have before we list your home.

Your friend, Jen.

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Oh look, the sun came up today!

Being a self-professed “tough cookie”, letting people see behind the veil was terrifying.

Yesterday, was that day and as uncomfortable as it was and is, it was necessary.  There are a lot of people that read Fakebook posts, see Instagram pics/posts and tweets and think that it is all real.  Maybe for some people it is, but I am sure for most, it isn’t.  I mean, really; who wants to post about how they truly feel that day and open themselves up to “friends” and the occasional trolls?!

There is this saying, you know the one, that says, “You never get more than you can handle”…well, I call BS.  After a year of important people/members of my family losing their fights with illnesses, the loss of my decade-long relationship, a tough professional year and navigating through my November “downs”, I unraveled.  I came apart at the seams and let myself write about it.  The moment, I hit “share”, I let you in.  This was a GIANT step for me.  It woke me up.

Feeling a little uncomfortable and embarrassed this a.m. with my “unveiling”, I had to remind myself that there are a lot of people like me out there.  They walk through life in protective, full body armour, never really letting people “in”.  Their partners know (usually), maybe a few close friends, maybe a parent (or two), but rarely their whole world.

Enter the interweb…this vast expanse of stranger danger, trolls, “friends”, “followers” and creepers.  We all have the ability to go off and let an entire world of internet access subscribers “in” to our deepest and darkest….and sometimes, we choose to hit “send”, “post” or “publish”.  Do we do that knowing how far it goes?  I didn’t, not really, but do I regret it?  No, I really don’t.

I know there are probably a few folks who read yesterday’s blog and thought, “huh, I really thought she had her sh*t together”  and then reconsidered their previous stance.  However, they wouldn’t have been wrong.  I did and do, for the most part, have it together.  I got up for work and I was there for my clients.  I was part of a team that took care of our dying cat.  I tried to help my friends whenever they needed it.  I went to board and committee meetings.  I organized fun outings.  I kept a daily routine.

It was the other times, the times where nobody needed anything and I had nowhere to be, that I struggled with my new reality.  I will still struggle, but it won’t be in the dark.  By opening up yesterday, I accidentally (or sub-consciously) built a network of those “in the know” and I am better for it.

So thank you, to everyone who reached out, called, commented, “liked” or messaged me.  I am humbled by the good people that I knew or didn’t know that were invested in my success as a human being.  I am grateful and I am taller today, as I had hoped to be.

Oh, and the sun came out today.

Your friend,

Jen

Go home, 2018….You’re drunk!

Hi there, WordPressers!

It has been over a year since I wrote my last blog and life has morphed into something unrecognizable.

Disclaimer:  If you are here to read about the latest staging advice or top 5 lists for buying or selling, you will not get what you are looking for today.  I am sorry and you’re welcome.

I am pulling the curtain back on my life to reveal that I am currently unraveling.  I am not ok and I don’t want to “fake it until I make it” today.  Just for today, I want to be sullen, angry, devastated and feel a little sorry for myself.  I will allow myself this, but just for today.

Tomorrow, I will get up and dust myself off and remember that this is just a small moment in time.  I have lost more than I have gained recently and it is ok to not be ok.  It is fine to feel out of control and it is fair for me to cry my eyes out at losing many important members of my family this year in one way or another.

I will come back here tomorrow and I will be different.  It is the only truth.  We are always different on Wednesday then we were on Tuesday.  I will rise to the occasion.  I will breathe life back to my work, my family, my friends and whatever else in my life.

For those who I have fooled over the last few months, I promise that was not my intent.  It is easier to look brave than to admit fear and failure.

Thanks for listening.

Your friend,

Jen

Hi bloggers…it’s been a while

Sometimes life gets busy. Sometimes work slows down and I get down. Sometimes I get lazy. For whatever reason, I haven't blogged in a very long time.

So I sit here, drinking my coffee, thinking about what I could possibly share today and unsure it would be of any real value to anyone, but here goes.

I've been struggling with allowing myself to enjoy the time I'm receiving this summer while trying to keep myself engaged and moving forward professionally. It seems most agents that I talk to are always busy (even when they aren't). Our business is so competitive that everyone looks for an edge.

Here's the truth. It's been a slow month. I've had deals evaporate due to another person's mistake or decision and others have been postponed so I have had time to reflect and, of course, worry.

I am trying to enjoy my home life, finish home/yard projects, keep in touch with clients and allow my personal life to catch up to my professional life. My partner suffers when I am busy. I work all the time when I'm busy. Here's our chance to catch up, if I allow myself to.

I realize that if I give my personal life even half the energy that I give my professional life, it would be inevitable to succeed.

My goal is balance. Wish me luck!

TOP 10 Questions to Ask Before Making an Offer

Below are the top 10 questions to ask before making an offer on a home.  These 10 questions are certainly not the only questions that can be asked, but certainly are 10 of the most important.  Read on to find out what questions you should be asking before making an offer on a home.

1.) What Is The Market Value Of The Home?

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when making an offer on a home is the amount you’re going to offer.  In order to make a solid offer on a home, you need to know what the market value of the home is.

There is not a magic formula that tells buyers how much to offer for a home.  There are however several things that can help a buyer determine how much to offer for a home.

Arguably the most important factor to help a buyer determine how much to offer for a home is the homes current market value.  Market values can change quite rapidly so it’s important before making an offer on a home that you know what the current market value of the home is.

One of the most accurate ways to determine the market value of a home is to ask an experienced buyers agent to perform a comparative market analysis, frequently referred to as a CMA.  A CMA is a detailed analysis of recent comparable sales in a specific area.  These properties should be similar in styles, square footage, year built, number of bedrooms, and a variety of other criteria.

2.) How Much Did The Seller Pay For The Home?

It’s not completely uncommon that a buyer becomes a homeowner and a few short years later turns around and attempts to sell it for a huge profit.  Certainly scenarios do exist where a seller has made a ton of improvements and upgrades and the increase in value is warranted, but often this is not the case.

Another important fact to find out before making an offer on a home is how much the current homeowner paid for the home.  Recently while selling a home in Brighton NY, the seller was attempting to sell their home for $50,000 more than they paid 2 years ago.  There were no records or signs that the seller had made upgrades or improvements to the house to warrant this $50,000 increase.

This was a crystal clear sign that the home was overpriced.  If you’re thinking about buying a home that is listed for much more than the seller paid for the home, ask about the improvements or upgrades that they made while owning the home.

3.) How Long Has The Home Been On The Market?

a good chance the seller is going to be motivated to sell their home.

Before making an offer, ask your real estate agent about the listing history of the home.  Find out if the home has expired and been relisted as well as what the pricing history has been.  It’s possible if a home has been on the market for a substantial amount of time that it’s overpriced.

Buying an overpriced home can be very tricky and in many cases is unsuccessful.  Most people would assume that a seller whose home has been for sale for several months would be open to any offers, however, this is not always the case.  Some sellers believe that their home is not overpriced even though it’s been for sale for a lengthy amount of time and has continued to receive low ball offer after low ball offer.

4.) What Is The Current State Of The Real Estate Market?

Many buyers don’t ever think about the current state of the local real estate market, which can be a costly mistake.  It’s highly recommended that before even looking at homes that buyers understand the real estate market.

A buyer who understands whether the real estate market is a sellers market, buyers market, or a balanced market has a huge advantage over buyers who don’t even consider the state of the market.  For example, buying a home in a sellers market often means competing with other buyers and paying close to or over market value.  One the other end of the spectrum, buying a home in a buyers market often means less competition and the potential of paying less than market value for a home.

Before making an offer on a home, it’s vital you understand what the state of the market is.  There are several indicators and real estate statistics that can help you understand the state of your market.

One of the most popular real estate statistics that helps clarify the state of a market is called the market absorption rate.  The market absorption rate in real estate is the number of months remaining until the current homes for sale are sold.  If the market absorption rate in your local market is 4.5, this means that it would take 4.5 months for all the remaining homes to sell.

Market absorption rates of 4.0 or less, in most markets, indicate a sellers market while market absorption rates of 6.0 or greater indicate a buyers market.  An experienced buyers agent will be able to help you navigate through the market absorption rate and help you understand better what exactly it means in your local market.

5.) Are There Any Issues With The Home?

Before making an offer on a home, it’s critical that you find out if there are any issues with the home.  While it’s impossible that every homeowner is going to be upfront and honest about issues with their home, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask the question.

Disclosure in real estate is a highly debated topic.  There are lots of different opinions on what do home sellers have to disclose when selling a home.  It’s highly recommended that when selling a home, if a seller is on the fence about disclosing something, they should disclose it.

Even if a seller discloses potential issues with their home doesn’t mean there aren’t others.  For this reason alone, you should have a home inspection performed when buying a home.  There are way more reasons to have a home inspection when buying a home than reasons to skip the inspection.

6.) Are There Any Plans For Future Development In The Neighborhood?

It’s impossible to predict the future, however, future development in a neighborhood is planned for several years prior to it actually taking place.  A great question to ask before making an offer on a home is if there is any future developments planned for the neighborhood.

The main reason why it’s important to know if there are future developments planned is because it can drastically change a neighborhood.  If there are discussions being held about a block of homes being torn down for a retail strip mall in a neighborhood, this is something that you’d want to know.  Something like this can impact the appeal of a neighborhood as well as the values.

Successfully choosing a neighborhood when buying a home is at the top of most buyers lists.  It can be a costly mistake if a neighborhood is expecting dramatic changes in the future.

7.) How Old Are The Mechanics Of The Home?

Owning a home costs money.  There are unpredictable costs of owning a home, such as replacing a heating system.  Before making an offer on a home, it’s vital to know the ages and condition of the homes major mechanics.  A homes major mechanics include the roof, furnace, central air conditioning, and windows.

If you’re going to make an offer on a home that has a roof that is nearing the end of it’s life expectancy, it’s important you know this so that you can budget for the replacement cost.  Another popular culprit that leads to buyers remorse is unexpectedly having to replace one of the major mechanics in a home.

This can often be avoided by simply asking the age of the mechanics before making an offer on the home.  Keep in mind that just because a heating system in a home is only a few years old doesn’t mean it’s not going to break down for another 20 years.  There is no crystal ball to home repairs, however, knowing the ages of a homes mechanics greatly reduces the chance of any future surprise repair or replacement expense.

8.) What Is The Sellers Timeline?

Understanding what a sellers timeline is another important thing to ask about before making an offer on a home.  Does the seller need additional time to move out?  Does the seller need to find suitable property?  Does the seller want to close as soon as possible?

Not only is it important to understand a sellers timeline so that you can make sure it works with your timeline, but it also can help structure your offer to be more attractive to a seller.  If you’re currently renting and need to be out of your apartment in 90 days but the seller requests 45 days to find suitable property, entering in an agreement may not be a good idea.

Sellers who include suitable property contingencies in their listings often struggle to find buyers because there is a strong level of unknown for a buyer.  If a seller cannot find a property that they feel is suitable, they don’t need to sell their property which means a buyer can be under contract on a home that they don’t really know if they’ll eventually own.

9.) Have There Been Any Other Offers?

A fairly common saying in real estate is that a sellers first offer is typically their best offer.  Before making an offer on a home, finding out if there have been any other offers can sometimes indicate to a buyer the accuracy of a homes list price.

If there have been other offers and they weren’t accepted, this should bring a handful of other questions to mind, such as;

  1. Was the other offer a low ball offer?
  2. Is the seller unrealistic on their list price?
  3. Am I wasting my time making an offer on this property?
  4. Did the other offer have too many contingencies?

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to discover what previous offers were.  A listing agent is not allowed to share the specifics of other offers unless the seller gives them permission.

10.) What Will My Closings Costs Be?

Prior to entering into a contract to buy a home, it’s crucial that you understand what all the costs will be.  This eliminates any surprises at the last minute which is great for additional peace of mind.

So, how do you find out what the costs of buying a home are?  The best way to find out what all the costs will be is to ask the mortgage originator who’ll be able to supply a detailed cost breakdown.  This includes down payments, transfer taxes, attorney fees, underwriting fees, and any other costs that may apply to buying a home.

Final Thoughts

As you can see there are a lot of things that buyers should be questioning before making an offer on a home.  Asking these important questions can have an impact on whether you decide to move forward with an offer and also can help determine how much you should offer.  By asking these 10 important questions, a buyer will be more comfortable with their decision to pursue the home.

By: Kyle Hiscock

To blog or not to blog…is that the question?

I apparently have tweeted, “facebooked”, posted on Instagram, commented, conversed, laughed and cried about many things since Jan 2016, but one thing I haven’t done is blogged.  I forgot seems to be a pretty lazy excuse, but it is the only one I have.

I have been keeping myself occupied at work and play and haven’t found myself drawn to blog about it.  I forgot to blog because it is still a relatively new form of expression, lagging behind sharing on Facebook and tweeting about this or that.

I think it is time to engage….again.

My goal is to blog at minimum 1 time/week in all topics relating to real estate, travel, life, and love.  I promise myself that if I can do this for 52 weeks, maybe I can finally move forward on the book I want to write by the time I am 40 (ish)!

The “Oh right, I forgot about that stuff” parts of a real estate deal

Deposits

  • accompany most, if not all, offers
  • can be as little as $1000 and as big as $20,000+ (IMO usually $3000-5000 works) and are written bycheque (made payable to listing brokerage) and

    included with offer to purchase

  • is deducted from the total purchase price/downpayment
  • shows sincere interest in completing the purchase
  • cashed only on the accepted offer and usually the nextbusiness day and held in trust
  • completely refundable without deduction as long as thecondition benefiting the buyer (ie:obtaining mortgage financing by a specific date and time) has not been satisfied

    PDS (property disclosure statement)

  • list of 19 questions pertaining to the property condition answered by the seller to the best of their knowledge
  • can be requested as a condition benefiting the buyer,although usually waived if provided by seller already, if an inspection has already been done or if in competition with other offers

    Mortgage Financing

  • the most important condition benefiting a buyer
  • protects the buyer from losing the deposit if mortgagecannot be obtained on a given property due to over

    priced offering

  • without this clause to protect you, if you offered a pricefor the property and the bank did an appraisal and found that the property was not saleable at that price, they would reject that mortgage application and you would have to pay the difference between their appraisal price and the offer price

How to Declutter Your Home in 10 Creative Ways

 

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” —Dale Carnegie

The idea of living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuff sounds attractive to many. They have considered the benefits of owning fewer possessions: less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more money and energy for their greatest passions. They are ready to declutter but some get quickly tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do I begin?

Many begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated around the idea of decluttering their homes. That’s too bad. The decluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. In fact, there are a variety of people who have come up with some pretty fun, creative ways to get started.

Consider this list of 10 creative ways to declutter your home:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes. Leo Babauta at Zen Habits recommends 18 different 5-minute decluttering tips. Pick one today that sounds appealing. Or better yet, pick a random number 1-18, read the specific tip, and commit 5 minutes to completing it.

2. Give away one item each day. Colleen Madsen at 365 Less Things gives away one item each day. Over the past several years, she has experienced quite a transformation simply reducing her stuff one day at a time.

3. Fill one trash bag. Early in our journey towards simplicity, one of my favorite decluttering techniques was to grab a simple large trash bag and see how quickly I could fill it. While much of what I collected was trash, this could also be used to fill a bag for Goodwill.

4. Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. This experiment could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home (cleaners, toys, linens, tools, hobbies and craft items).

5. Make a list. Dana Byers recommends creating a list of places/areas in your home to declutter beginning with the easiest… which doesn’t sound all that creative until she adds this note, “When you’re done with one area, STOP.” This list could be made as easy or difficult as you desire based upon what areas of your home make up the list (drawers/closets/rooms). And could easily fit into any schedule.

6. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house. On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my wife and me… and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.

7. Change your perspective. Unclutterer offers a powerful approach to decluttering when they offer a number of strategies to help you change your perspective and begin to notice some clutter you may have missed. Among their ideas: take photos of your house, invite over a toddler, or ask the boss to meet in your office. With all of the examples, the hope is to cause you to see your home in a new light.

8. Experiment with numbers. For example, Courtney Carver invented Project 333 to challenge people to wear only 33 articles of clothing for 3 months. If 33 articles of clothing seems too little, adjust the rules as you need by picking a new number. The important thing is to challenge yourself to live with less and see what you learn from the experiment.

9. Use your imagination. Psychology Today recommends using yourimagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove. Try asking yourself unique questions like, “If I was just buying this now, how much would I pay?” These creative techniques may prove to be very helpful for some with difficulties removing unneeded clutter.

10.The Four-Box Method. As we first set out on our journey to minimalism, this was the technique most often used in our home. As I set out to declutter an area, I brought four boxes: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Each item in every room was placed into one of the four categories. No item was passed over. Each was considered individually. Some projects took an hour… others took days or weeks. But the technique and principles remained the same.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these ten or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter. How you remove it is up to you.

Top 5 Things to Help You Sell in a Buyer Market

  1. Update your home-  Kitchens, baths, flooring, lighting, doors (whatever you can afford)
  2. Keep your property neat and tidy (especially before a showing)-  You need your property at its best for every showing these days
  3. Smoke outside (if possible)-  A lot of buyers will not even walk through a property at the first signs of cigarette/pipe smoke smell
  4. Maintain your property-  Annual furnace inspections, cleaning eavestrough, fresh paint, clean windows, raked lawns/shovelled path all show buyers pride of ownership
  5.  De-clutter-  there really is nothing that hurts you quite like having oversized furniture in a room to dwarf it or too much furniture in a space