780-986-8407 Royal LePage Gateway Realty

Festival of Witchcraft and Wizardry: a Magical Fanhood party in Edmonton!

Thu, 12 Oct by rlpgateway

Want to do something Friday night but don’t know what to do? Go check out the Harry Potter Festival of Witchcraft and Wizardry!

Tomorrow night at 4:00 pm to 11:30 pm (some events brought over to Saturday).  This event welcomes people of all ages and all Houses. Tickets for the Hogwart’s Express (Edmonton Streetcar), and some of the events need to be purchased in advance. Festival takes place in Wilbert Mcintyre Park (8303 104 Street), and all festivities will be within walking distance from each other. This event is run soley by volunteers, and has no outside funding, so let’s support this spellbinding evening of fun by showing some true fandom! Bring your wands and costumes, and come check out all the magical food and drink, marvelous vendors and their wares, and all of the fun and enchantment of Harry Potter brought to life.  For tickets, schedule of events, or more info visit:  https://www.facebook.com/events/2097626173798140

Can Halloween Help You Sell Your House? 3 Spooky Sales Tricks to Try Right Now

Thu, 12 Oct by rlpgateway

Link: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/how-halloween-can-help-you-sell-your-house/

Halloween isn’t just an opportunity to gorge on all things frightful or filled with sugar. It’s also a chance for home sellers to scare up a buyer!

Because these days, home sellers need as much marketing creativity as they can muster up. Now that the summer home-selling fever has died down, people are beginning to hunker down for the holidays. In fact, statistics show that home sales don’t pick back up again until spring. But if you have a home on the market, you don’t want to wait months and months to make the sale, right?

That’s where Halloween comes in: Every year, kids head out trick-or-treating on this holiday, trekking from door to door—many with parents in tow. In other words, Halloween is the one day of the year when you could have dozens of people visiting your house, no effort required!

So if you’re eager to use this opportunity to spread the word that your home’s for sale, check out these tactics to make that happen.

1. Turn your treats into marketing materials

It goes without saying that kids will happily take any treats you hand out at your door, and that parents will likely survey their haul (because, let’s be frank, parents like candy too and are not above pilfering). So this scenario creates prime opportunities for some stealth marketing: Use these candies to carry the message that your home’s up for grabs.

You can do this by attaching a small card or flier to your candy saying that your home is for sale, along with your address and contact info for your agent.

“The parents will see the item in the bag, see the name, and it’s an item that will be lying around the house,” notes Cliff Fraser, an associate broker with the Century 21 Bill Forman Team in Indianapolis.

If you’re afraid this card will get chucked in the trash and you want your marketing material to stick around for longer, you can even print the deets on small toys like fidget spinners.

Or do you want something bigger, where you can post some nice real estate pics? Fraser suggests investing in quality fliers to post near the front door, so parents can grab them on their way off the porch.

2. Throw a Halloween-themed open house

Rather than just getting trick-or-treaters on your porch, why not lure them into your house? The way to do that is to host a Halloween-themed open house, where you invite home buyers to check out your place with the bonus of giving them an excuse to celebrate all things scary.

You’ll want to ideally host your open house on the weekend of or before Halloween, and set up some kid-friendly activities to keep the tykes busy. Think apple bobbing, pumpkin painting, or even turning your place into a haunted house! What better way is there to get people poking through every closet and corner of your home?

A Halloween-themed open house is also a great way to lure in home buyers who might not normally trick-or-treat in your neighborhood—so be sure to get the word out far and wide.

“Promote it on Facebook and the MLS,” says Seattle Realtor® Aaron Hendon. “You can also have your agent send emails to all the local agents and have a broker’s open house.” That’s an open house specifically for real estate agents, who can then chat up your home to their buyers.

3. Don’t go overboard with your Halloween decor

First impressions of a home matter—by some estimates, you can increase a selling price by as much as 20% with some curb appeal improvements. You don’t want to undo all of that with over-the-top Halloween decorating. Remember, you want to draw attention to your gorgeous house, not to the scary ghouls hanging from your trees.

With that in mind, stick to inoffensive (read, appealing) mums or other fall-themed plants on the porch, and maybe a pumpkin or two—provided it’s not carved to look like Freddie Kreuger.

“Avoid the cobwebs, skulls, and witch stuff,” Hendon says.

If you have your heart set on something spooky, Fraser says, you might want to move the decor away from the home and into the yard, turning it into an attraction that will draw more families your way. His suggestions?

“Set up an area where trick-or-treaters can get their picture taken,” Fraser says. If your home’s “For Sale” sign happens to be in the background, all the better.

Source:realtor.com

What to Expect From a Listing Agent

Wed, 04 Oct by rlpgateway

Before you start making lofty demands of your listing agent, it’s important to understand what the agent is actually responsible for. We’re not saying you’re high-maintenance; you just need to know what you can and can’t ask the agent to do.

By setting realistic expectations, you’re likely to leave the home-selling process feeling like your agent really did all she could to get you the best deal—even if you didn’t see or hear about every little thing she did to market your home. In the interest of transparency, let’s dive into the things a listing agent is responsible for once you sign a contract.

What role does a listing agent play?

A listing agent’s job is “to help direct the seller in preparing the house for sale, market the property to buyer’s agents, and handle the offer and transaction process to get the sale to completion,” says Teri Andrews Murch, a Realtor® with Lyon Real Estate in Auburn, CA.

So when you think about your expectations for your agent, make sure they fit within that scope.

However, the specific responsibilities can vary from agent to agent. A good listing agent will help you price your home, attend pitch sessions, recommend a photographer and stager to make your home look its best, and put your home on the multiple listing service.

Some agents might be unwilling to fulfill every one of your requests if they don’t think they will help your home sell. For example, you might want to advertise your house in the local paper, but “depending on the area you are in, print advertising may not be used much at all,” says Murch.

Set expectations from the start

To make sure you’re both on the same page, you should discuss your expectations from the get-go with any real estate agent you plan on hiring. Find out how often you’ll communicate, and by what means.

“Usually I try to touch base with my sellers when I have feedback from showings or agent tours, and at least once every seven to 10 days by phone,” Murch says.

“Don’t be afraid to be upfront and to the point with your real estate agent,” she adds. “We want to know when our clients aren’t happy.”

Once you’re in agreement, put it in writing in the form of a listing agreement.

“A listing agreement should be a partnership,” says real estate consultant Cathy Baumbusch of Alexandria, VA. “Both parties should outline their expectations in the beginning, in detail, and in writing. That is the only way you can do business.”

You won’t see all the agent’s work

Just because things seem quiet doesn’t mean the agent isn’t working on your behalf.

“A lot of the work we do—such as networking with other agents, maintaining the listing, answering calls or inquiries, and sending out information—tends to be invisible to the sellers unless we communicate that,” says Murch.

However, if more regular updates will make you happy, speak up.

When things go wrong

Sometimes, even after you’ve agreed on everything with your agent in writing, your expectations aren’t met. What then?

Before you send that angry email, be honest with yourself and see if you’re holding anything up.

“I would look at the home’s condition—how does it show?” says Murch. “Are there too many restrictions on how or when the property can be shown?”

If you truly believe that your home looks show-ready and that you’ve made it available, Murch says you might need to revisit the pricing. That could be why you haven’t attracted interest yet.

Other ways to troubleshoot your stalled sale?

“Ask your agent to provide you with the list of all marketing avenues, and then see how it looks in comparison with other properties that are active or sold in your area,” says Janice Caputo, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Pittsburgh.

Definitely have a conversation with your agent if you’re unsatisfied, and try to be receptive to the agent’s feedback. If you believe that your agent isn’t taking your concerns seriously, your next course of action is speaking with the agent’s agency.

Source:realtor.com

9 Cleaning Myths That Could Be Wrecking Your House

Tue, 19 Sep by rlpgateway

Urban myths live forever on the internet. Enter your PIN backward at an ATM and you’ll summon the police! (Cool, but not true.) The cast of “Friends” is in talks for a reunion! (For the millionth time, this ain’t happening.) Actual sharks were caught up in Hurricane Irma! (No.) With such rampant lies in mind, is it any surprise that some of the housecleaning myths you read online are equally fake?

Put aside the bleach. Step away from the coffee grounds. And read on to uncover some of the biggest cleaning myths that could be doing more harm than good in your house.

1. Bleach is the best cleaner for your bathroom

“Bleach does not clean anything,” says Leslie Reichert, cleaning coach and author of “The Joy of Green Cleaning.” 

“It does disinfect, but before you can disinfect a surface, you have to clean it with something that will lift off the dirt,” she advises. (Imagine trying to clean muddy feet with hand sanitizer, and you get the idea.)

Wipe down your bathroom with your choice of household cleaner, thenyou can disinfect with a diluted bleach solution, Reichert says.

What about those combo bottles of household cleaner + bleach? They’re OK, Reichert says, but less efficient.

“An item with bleach in it will probably kill some of the germs but will actually be diluted with the cleaning agent, so my personal opinion is that it’s not going to do a quality job,” she says.

“Remember, the bleach has to stay on the surface for 10 minutes to kill germs, so washing with a cleaner that has bleach in it is like trying to add hair color to your shampoo.”

2. Washing machines clean themselves

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it just isn’t so.

“This is a common misconception, because the purpose of a washing machine is to clean things, but they do need to be cleaned, too,” says Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert at Merry Maids.

“Many people leave their clothes in the washing machine long after the cycle’s done running, which can cause a musty smell that’s then transferred to your clothes,” she explains.

Even if you’re not guilty of that, you should still run a cleaning cycle every month to maintain your washer’s functionality and keep it smelling fresh. If your machine doesn’t have a special cycle, add a half-cup to 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup baking soda to the detergent dispenser and run a normal small cycle with hot water, Johnson advises.

3. Polish is the best way to care for wood

Commercial polishes contain a host of different ingredients, from the recognizable (beeswax) to the huh-what’s-that (polydimethylsiloxane). The good news: They shine up your wood. The bad: They can also leave a waxy buildup. So it’s lucky that you don’t really need polish.

“Most wood furniture has a finish that seals the wood, and really just needs to be kept clean and free from dust and dirt,” Reichert says.

All you need is a damp microfiber cloth. Its tightly woven fibers trap dirt without the need for an additional cleaner.

4. Too much vacuuming ruins your carpets

This myth was likely started by someone looking for a way to get out of cleaning carpets. But the truth is, “dust and dirt that gets down into the base of a carpet can do more damage than a vacuum,” Reichert says.

Of course, you will need to use care when vacuuming delicate floor coverings such as Oriental rugs and handmade carpets. And you should never leave your vacuum in one spot too long.

“The constant beating can heat up the fibers, cause them to melt, and leave a burn mark,” Reichert says.

5. Coffee grounds are a great way to clean your garbage disposal

Legend has it that coffee grounds can deodorize and clean unidentified gunk off the blades of your garbage disposal. Alas, you’re better off using it as compost in your garden.

“The grounds often clog up the drains and pipes,” Johnson warns.

A better way to clean that’s still natural: Place two to three small lemon, lime, or grapefruit slices in the garbage disposal, then turn it on and rinse with warm water, she advises. (Don’t use the full fruit—just the peels.)

Fresh out of citrus? Run warm water in your sink while pouring a half-cup baking soda down the drain.

6. Mopping just pushes dirt around

Reichert admits she’s not a fan of brooms, but don’t dis mops—so long as you invest in one made of high-quality microfiber.

“It picks up the dirt and holds onto it,” she explains. “There’s no cross-contamination because once the mop head’s dirty, you remove it and put on a clean one.”

Compare that to a traditional mop, where you’re basically “mopping up dirt, rinsing it in dirty water, then spreading that water all over the floor,” Reichert adds.

7. Hand-washing dishes is more effective than a dishwasher

Sorry to burst your soap bubble, but no matter how much time you spend scrubbing dishes, you’re still no match for a dishwasher. Its water temperature is much hotter, the dishes are exposed to soap longer, “and if you use a ‘drying cycle,’ you’re also sanitizing your dishes,” Reichert points out.

8. You need specialized cleaning products for every job

While the shelves of cleaning supplies at your grocery store certainly make it seem that way, you don’t really need an army of bottles under your kitchen sink.

“I’ve found that I just need an all-purpose cleaner for tough jobs and a few high-quality microfiber cloths,” Reichert says. These cloths get high marks because they contain millions of tiny, plastic fibers which easily trap dirt and even bacteria.

9. Washing clothes in cold water doesn’t get them clean

Busted! Why is this myth, well, a myth? For starters, the detergent, not the water, has the biggest effect on how clean your laundry comes out, Johnson says.

And, in fact, cold water is typically better for washing clothes than hot.

“Cold water preserves clothes both in quality and color better than hot water, which can also cause certain types of stains to set in the fabric,” she says. And to top it off, using cold water saves you energy, so it’s a win all around!

Source:realtor.ca

Go Big and Go Home: 6 Tips for Upsizing With No Regrets

Thu, 14 Sep by rlpgateway

Go Big and Go Home: 6 Tips for Upsizing With No Regrets

Remember when you bought your home? It was just perfect for the two of you. But now—with a couple of kids, some ever-shedding pets, or maybe an in-law living down the hall—that’s no longer the case. Whether you’re already bursting out of your house or about to expand your family, the time to move to a larger home might have arrived.

If it’s any consolation, you have plenty of company. In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof, a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data found. If you have older kids, you can’t even count on having an empty nest, now that the preferred living arrangement for 18- to 34-year-olds is with their parents (more than alone or with a roommate). And more than one-fifth of Americans older than 55 live in a multigenerational household, as well.

So what do you look for in a home when you’re bringing so many people under one roof? There’s plenty more to consider before you upsize beyond just square footage. Topping the list: how to upgrade your home without fully downgrading your bank account. Yes, upsizing will cost you, upfront and on down the line. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad investment. It just means you need to be smart about it.

Here are six things to keep in mind before leaping into a larger home.

1. Think critically about your goals

Yes, we get it: You want more space. But have you thought, specifically, about why?

Before you hit the house-hunting trail, take a moment to pin down what you really, actually need, suggests Suzie Mayes, a real estate broker at Living Room Realty in Portland, OR.

“How are you actually going to live in this bigger house? For example, why do you want a bigger kitchen?” she asks. “If you’re going to be hosting Thanksgiving moving forward, maybe that makes sense.” But otherwise, perhaps not so much.

Listing your goals will help you prioritize, adds Christine Wren, a Realtor® and certified international property specialist with Keller Williams Realty in Austin, TX.

“Is the idea to accommodate your traditional nuclear family, or do you need to make rooms for seniors and young adults coming back from college?” Wren asks. “Is open concept right for you and your family? It sounds fabulous to watch the kids when they’re little, but you’ll get a lot of noise as they get older.”

In other words, have a plan and find a home that works into it.

2. Determine whether bigger is truly better

Before beginning your search, consider not just the home’s square footage, but also the layout, says Kim Trouten, a Realtor and designer with Allen Tate Realtors in Charlotte, NC.

“What people want and need isn’t necessarily what builders are producing,” Trouten explains. “In this very hot market, they’re building the largest houses they can on the smallest possible lots in order to amortize the price, which doesn’t necessarily equal good rooms for families.”

You might think you’re getting more space, but if that space isn’t useable or feels tight, does it really help you in the long run?

“Sometimes, the more bedrooms a home has, the smaller those bedrooms are,” Trouten explains. “You don’t always need more rooms; sometimes you need more spacious rooms.”

3. Buy only the space you’ll use

On a related note: Before you speed forward with your upsizing plan, you should make sure the rooms or features in the larger house will actually be used, Trouten cautions.

An example from the not-too-distant past: “When home theater rooms were all the rage, it was a status thing to have a room with a very expensive system and theater chairs,” she says. “But many of those expensive rooms were barely used. That’s not the way most people live.”

4. Crunch the numbers

Are you prepared for the real financial burden of upsizing?

“It’s not just the sticker price on the house; it’s the long-term costs associated with it,” Trouten says. “When you go up (in square footage), you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance.” And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture, too.

Make sure you can afford to move up without becoming “house poor.” You can prevent this sad fate by using online affordability calculators to figure out how far you can stretch your dollar. Or talk with your lender to get the big picture on the costs of your move.

Pro tip: If you call the utility company, you can usually unearth historical data about the energy costs for a particular address year over year.

“Really do your research,” Mayes says. “You don’t live in the price of a home; you live in the monthly payment and all the associated costs.”

5. Consider the resale value

Upsizing now can mean a tidy profit later if you choose your home and location wisely.

Sure, you might think that once you’ve found the right size home, you’ll stay forever. But you might find yourself downsizing a few years from now. As with any home purchase, look at your potential new place through the eyes of future buyers.

That means doing your research about what home buyers want. And right now, that’s flexible space.

“We get more asks about guest bedrooms than anything else, because as baby boomers age and their kids buy homes, they’re thinking about when Mom and Dad may visit or live with them,” Trouten says.

Keep the latest buying trends in mind as you scope out listings, and your new home could pay off down the road.

6. More space might mean buying in a different neighborhood

After you’ve predicted the future, don’t forget what you learned from the past: It’s all about the neighborhood.

Perhaps your starter home is in the perfect up-and-coming community—close to the city, public transportation, and your favorite craft brew pub. But having more room to spread out often means spreading farther away from the city center. So make the choice. Are you willing to move to a different neighborhood—one that might be far from where you live now?

“I’ve got people in downtown Austin who might have 1,200-square-foot, $800,000 condos, but when they need more square footage, they can take that same money and move 20 to 30 minutes away from downtown,” Wren says. “Without more cash, they get a lot more space.”

Life is about trade-offs, right? This might be a really smart one.

Source: realtor.com

Check Yourself: 7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in September

Fri, 08 Sep by rlpgateway

For most of the country, September signals the end of summer’s dog days and a return to fuzzy sweaters, chilly evenings, and, of course, pumpkin spice everything.

But before those first autumn leaves begin to fall, it’s crucial to take a few steps to stave off any cold weather home breakdowns. Luckily, we’re here to make it as easy as possible for you with our handy checklist of home maintenance chores to tackle this month. These quick, relatively painless tasks can potentially save you major repair costs down the road.

1. Check walkways for cracks

“Before the grass is covered with snow, or it’s too cold to venture outside, check walkways for cracks and loose paver material,” says Ryan Williams, general manager of 128 Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric. “Fix walkway and entryway areas before slippery weather can cause a tripping or falling accident.”

DIY: Small cracks can be fixed with simple epoxy and shouldn’t take more than a few hours.

Call in a pro: Serious cracking and concrete damage will require professional repair—expect to spend north of $1,000, although exact costs will depend on the severity of damage and cost of materials and labor in your area.

2. Clean and repair the siding

“After a long summer, siding can become dirty or mildewed,” says Chris Granger, vice president and general manager of Sears Home Services.

September is a great time to use a pressure washer to clean it up—and inspect for more serious problems before winter comes. Check first for rotten or warped areas, and inspect your caulking, which can shrink and crack over time.

DIY: You don’t necessarily have to shimmy up a ladder for a close-up of your siding; the pros we talked to recommend using a smartphone camera or drone to zoom in on problem areas. Inspect the butt joints where two pieces of siding meet and, if you spy cracks, consider tackling the job yourself.

How? A day ahead, thoroughly wash your work surface with soapy water. Once the area is completely dry, squeeze a bit of caulk into the gap in the siding, then smooth it with your finger. Wipe it once more with a damp sponge to even out your work.

(Pro tip: Be sure to never caulk the underside of your siding, which could prevent the boards from expanding and contracting during changing weather.) Once you’ve fixed any problem areas, let everything set for a few days. Then follow up with a good pressure wash (you can rent a machinefor around $35).

Call in a pro: If your siding has seen better days (think missing, bent, or cracked pieces), consider replacing it. As a general rule, fiber cement siding is priciest, followed by wood, aluminum, and vinyl. Replacing vinyl siding on an average 2,200-square-foot home will set you back more than $6,500 (in addition to the cost of removing existing materials). If you choose wood or fiber cement siding, you’ll likely spend twice that. For an expert pressure washing, expect to spend $100 to $300.

3. Check and repair leaky faucets

“Before the temperatures start to dip, examine leaky faucets in the kitchen, bathrooms, and utility room locations,” Williams says. “Most likely, whatever time and money you spend now will be considerably less than a broken pipe in the dead of winter.”

DIY: Just turn on the faucet, turn it off, and watch for any telltale dripping. Your fix might be as easy as replacing the washers on the faucet’s knobs, or you might have a worn cam washer, valve seat, or spring. We have you covered with our step-by-step guide to fixing a leaky faucet.

Call in a pro: If you’d rather not deal with it yourself, you can always hire a plumber. Estimates for fixing leaks vary, but expect to spend at least $100.

4. Make sure windows are sealed tight

All double- or triple-pane windows should have a tight seal around their perimeter that separates the individual panes of glass and traps inert gas between them, providing a break between the temps inside and outside your home. If you notice that your windows are frequently foggy, that’s likely a sign of a failed seal.

DIY: Try cashing in on your windows’ warranty first; many companies will cover failed seals for a decade or longer.   

Call in the pros: If your warranty won’t cover a total replacement, check out a professional window defogging company. These pros will reseal the window’s perimeter and replace the gas between the panes for an average of $300 (depending on location and the number of windows).

5. Sweep the chimney

When temperatures finally fall, you’ll want to be ready to light your fireplace. But before your first toasty blaze of the season, make sure your chimney has been cleaned.

“Built-up soot in your chimney can increase your risk of a chimney fire, and a clogged chimney can also increase the presence of carbon monoxide in your home by not allowing it to escape when you have a fire burning in the fireplace,” says Lindsey Pasieka of ConsumerSafety.org.

Call in the pros: No DIY here—leave this (dirty) job to a pro, who’ll charge an average of $225 for an inspection and sweep.

6. Change the air filters and tune up the furnace

This one really should be a maintenance task you do every month, Granger says. Dirty air filters can lead to higher energy bills and irreparably damage your HVAC system.

DIY: Changing your air filter is a fairly straightforward task—just be sure to check the size of your existing filter before you hit the hardware store. Pros also recommend removing all vent covers and vacuuming pet dander, hair, and other debris that can accumulate and gunk up your HVAC system.

Call in the pros: Take things a step further by hiring a professional to tune up your unit before winter arrives. A good contractor will ensure your thermostat is working properly, fix loose electrical connections and gas connections, and check your unit’s blower motor and heat exchanger. Expect to spend $80 to $150.

7. Service the yard equipment

Autumn—not spring—is actually the best time to show some love to your lawn equipment before you put it away for winter.

“It’s harmful for equipment to sit all winter long with old oil in the case and dirt on the other components,” says Lisa Turner, author of “House Keys: Tips and Tricks From a Female Home Inspector.”

DIY: Change your oil and filter, replace air and gas filters, and install new blades if necessary. Then perform the lubrication and adjustment maintenance required by your equipment’s manual. But you don’t want to drain the gas tank completely, Turner says. Instead use a premium gasoline without ethanol but with a gas preservative. Just before you store it, fill the tank with this mix.

Call in the pros: If your unit won’t start or turn over, the cost for a lawn mower repair pro will run about $35 to $115. If your lawn mower’s engine needs to be replaced, you could shell out $800 to $900 for a new engine.

 

Source: realtor.com

True Tales of Top Deal Breakers That Turn Off Home Buyers

Fri, 25 Aug by rlpgateway

True Tales of Top Deal Breakers That Turn Off Home Buyers

Everybody always waxes poetic about how they just knew when they found their dream home. But home buyers also know—in that same instantaneous, visceral way—what they abhor. Sometimes, these deal breakers are just personal, but more often than not, swaths of home buyers feel the same way. What’s more, home sellers who’ve been in their homes for years are often blind to these turnoffs, leaving them puzzled as to why their home just won’t sell. Well, allow us to fill you in! We had home buyers reveal some of their most cringeworthy cautionary tales; think of their misfortunes as lessons that may help you know what not to do.

Pests

“In one house we saw, the man showing us the house said, ‘Roaches hang around once in a while, but, hey, that’s Philly!’ Trust me, you can absolutely live roach-free in Philly.” — Allie Goldberg, Philadelphia, PA

Lesson learned: Pests are a problem. Period. One bug sighting might not break you, but if you’ve got a full-on infestation, you’ll more than likely be legally required to disclose that information to potential buyers and provide remediation, so it’s in your best interest as the seller to take care of the issue as quickly as possible.

Pets

“I loved the house, until I stepped in dog pee on the kitchen floor. To make things worse, the house smelled of cat urine, and we had two felines follow us around the entire time we were there. It was creepy and disgusting. Could I have gotten the smell to go away eventually? Probably. But the whole experience just left a bad taste in my mouth. I just wanted to get out of there.” — Josh Daniels, Baltimore, MD

Lesson learned: You may love Fido or Fluffy, but that doesn’t mean potential buyers will as well. Whenever possible, take pets with you when you leave the house before the showing. But, if that won’t work, make sure that they stay in a pet crate while others are viewing your home. Also, stay conscious of any odors; pets do have a perfume that is best to be aired out via open windows or an air purifier.

A cramped kitchen

“I walked away from a great property in my price range that came with parking, outdoor space, and a separate dining area, all because there was no room in the kitchen to cook! The stove was tiny, and so was the fridge.” — Ariana Sigel, Los Angeles

Lesson learned: Kitchens are a major showplace—so if yours is cramped or outdated, consider sprucing it up and maybe even knocking down a wall (open kitchen!) before going to market. Odds are good that the money you spend will pay off when buyers swoon.

A property with a sordid backstory

“My wife and I were scheduled to go to a showing that ended up getting canceled. It turns out the Drug Enforcement Administration had dug up the yard because the previous owners were drug dealers and had buried stuff in the yard that needed to be used as evidence. We never did end up rescheduling our visit.” — Andrew McGuire, Binghamton, NY

Lesson learned: Sometimes you can’t control a property’s history. However, you can control how that information is presented. Some states legally require you to disclose this type of information before selling, but even if that’s not the case in your area, it’s probably a good idea anyway. If you make a point of informing potential buyers upfront, you can rest easy knowing that these details won’t become a larger issue later.

Too much maintenance

“I live in a townhouse and was considering moving to an older home, but balked due to the prospect of maintaining it. It would be expensive and time-consuming—both of which are two areas of homeownership that I have successfully avoided up until now.”
— LouAnn Faire, Plymouth Meeting, PA 

Lesson learned: Old homes may have charm to spare, but they may also require a ton more maintenance than newer construction. So, it’s downright essential for home sellers to minimize these concerns by making sure that the home appears well maintained—which means less likelihood of repairs for the new owners. So if those floors looked scuffed, make them shine. If you’ve recently replaced the roof or boiler, flaunt these updates with receipts of these recent renovations. Convince buyers that your old home works like new.

Shoddy upgrades

“A huge deal-breaking factor for our new house was quality work in a house. We can deal with the quirkiness of older homes, but we went to see one house in particular where it was clearly a flip and it was done poorly.” — Lauren Wilhelm-Ligman, Philadelphia, PA

Lesson learned: Don’t cheap out when it comes to upgrades and repairs, from light fixtures to door knobs. While it may be tempting to save a few pennies since you’re not planning to stay in the house, this line of thinking can backfire. Buyers are savvy and can often tell when they’re being shorted.

Source: realtor.com

Should I Buy a Fixer-Upper? 6 Reasons to Make the Leap

Fri, 18 Aug by rlpgateway

Should I Buy a Fixer-Upper? 6 Reasons to Make the Leap

“Should I buy a fixer-upper?” If this thought has crossed your mind, we don’t blame you. Many home buyers fantasize about purchasing a run-down shack and transforming it into a palace (thank you, Chip and Joanna Gaines). Still, pipe dreams aside, should you actually do it?

While they aren’t for everyone, experts do say that there are many real reasons to buy a fixer-upper. Here are a few to help you figure out whether this type of house is right for you.

1. Because fixer-uppers are bargains

Probably the most obvious reason to go for a fixer-upper is to get a great deal on a house.

In fact, Dan Bawden, remodelers chair of the National Association of Homebuilders, says people shopping for a fixer-upper can expect to spend 20% to 25% less than what they’d have to shell out for comparable homes that are move-in ready. Homes with serious issues—such as with the foundation, termites, or flooding—should command an even deeper discount.

All that said, keep in mind that fixer-uppers will require that you spend more money on renovations. So make sure to have a contractor walk through the house and estimate what these repairs will run so you have a good handle on the full cost.

Bawden also suggests you pad your renovation budget by at least 5% to cover any surprises. “There are always unforeseeable things, and you need to be able to cover that,” he says.

2. Because you want to make a home your own

If your dream is to live in a home where everything is done precisely to your taste, then a fixer-upper is a great fit. Sure, you can build a house from the ground up, but that’s an expensive prospect, costing a median of $289,415 (cost of the land and many other necessities not included). Besides, building a home from scratch takes time, too—so if you need a place to live now, a fixer-upper might allow you to move in before you start turning it into your own personal Pinterest-board come to life.

Just keep in mind that living in a demolition zone can be dangerous or just an enormous hassle, so talk with your contractors about what to expect once renovations get rolling—and if there’s a way to divvy up what they’re working on to carve out a peaceful corner so all the commotion doesn’t drive you nuts.

3. Because you love a home with history and character

Fixer-uppers are often old—constructed back in the days before cookie-cutter plans ruled the landscape. As such, they’re often steeped in history and personality and just need a little love to shine. For instance, those solid oak doors will look amazing if you just stripped off those many coats of paint, or you might get a kick out of preserving that outdated dumbwaiter or coal chute. That doesn’t mean you have to leave it some defunct relic; imagine all the fun you’ll have reimagining that milk door as a quaint mailbox.

4. Because you’re a DIY buff

DIY buffs are always looking to take on new challenges, and fixing up a house is the granddaddy of challenges. Rest assured, your sweat equity will buy you bragging rights—is there anything sweeter than hearing a compliment on your kitchen and being able to say, “Thanks, I did it myself”?

Just make sure you’re realistic about what you can safely do, and contract out the rest.

“I wouldn’t do my own electrical work,” says Bawden. “Making a mistake there could be deadly.”

It’s worth it to hire an engineer to help figure out which walls can be safely removed, or a plumber to do work you’re not licensed or experienced enough to try yourself. Remember, even if you’re not doing the remodel with your own bare hands, overseeing such a project is still work.

5. Because you want to flip a house for profit

If you really catch the fixer-upper bug, you could start flipping houses as a business. RealtyTrac reported an average gross flipping profit of $62,624 per home in 2016—that’s some serious money. But despite what TV would have you believe, house flipping is a skill that takes time (and often money) to hone. Whether you actually make a profit depends on how good you are at assessing what kind of work a house needs and doing that work at or under budget.

“You can make some really good money if you’re good at it, but be prepared not to at first,” says Bawden. “It’s not for the faint of heart.”

Last year, 12% of flips sold at break-even or a loss after all expenses.

6. Because fixer-uppers are an adventure

Let’s face it, fixer-uppers are a reality TV show fodder for good reason.

“It’s a lot of fun,” says Bawden. “It’s very creative and tangible, and it’s exciting to see a project come together. I’ve been doing it for 35 years, and I still get excited, and so do my customers. It’s an adventure.”

Source: realtor.com

Home Safety Checklist: 10 Things to Inspect Right After You Unpack

Mon, 14 Aug by rlpgateway

Home Safety Checklist: 10 Things to Inspect Right After You Unpack

Moving into a new home? Soon after unpacking all those boxes, you should run through a home safety checklist, just to make sure you and any family members will be as secure as can be in your new digs. We don’t want to make you paranoid, but as much as you’d like to think otherwise, hidden dangers could be lurking around every corner—from your dryer vent to your water heater. So give everything the once-over. And use this list to hit all the areas that could spell trouble down the road.

1. Smoke detectors

This one is obvious, but the importance of checking your smoke detectors can’t be stressed enough. Make sure they’re properly installed, working, and clean.

Consider the following statistic from the National Fire Protection Association if you need any motivation: 3 in 5 home fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms or nonworking smoke alarms. In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. The NFPA recommends installing smoke alarms inside every sleeping room, plus in the hallway on every level of the home.

2. Fire extinguishers

There are a million new things to buy when you move into a new home, but don’t scrimp when it comes to buying fire extinguishers—get one for every level of your home.

“It’s a simple thing you can do, but you’ll be amazed how many people live in multilevel homes that don’t have this in place,” says Tariq Abdullah, CEO of Tarchitects and Elite Real Estate Inspectors. “It can truly spell the difference between a tragedy and a simple fix.”

3. Carbon monoxide detectors

If your home has a furnace that uses gas or oil, you should also have a carbon monoxide detector. More than 150 deaths due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning are reported each year, and many of those deaths could be prevented by CO detectors.

“Unlike smoke, carbon monoxide has no color, no taste, no smell and is poisonous,” says Kurt Wedig, president and CEO of OneEvent Technologies. “Prolonged exposure or large amounts of CO can overtake a person in minutes without warning—causing them to lose consciousness and suffocate due to lack of oxygen. “

While many smoke detectors are also carbon monoxide detectors, there’s no guarantee the smoke detector in your home is a dual detector or that it’s working correctly. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends placing both smoke and CO detectors on every level of the home.

4. Dryer vent

Check your dryer vent. We’re not talking about the one that’s inside your dryer; we mean the big vent from your laundry room to the outside. Sure, it’s a hassle pulling the dryer away from the wall, but it should be done at least three or four times a year, as lint is highly flammable. In fact, an estimated 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year, and the leading cause is lint-filled dryer vents. Here’s how to clean a dryer vent.

5. An escape route

In case you do hear those smoke detectors go off, make sure you have an escape route for all members of the family.

“If possible, figure out two ways to exit every room, even if that means out a window,” says Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com. “Make sure everyone in the household understands and can run through the escape route.”

6. Water heater

A long, hot shower after all of that moving probably sounds great, but check your water heater first to make sure things don’t get too hot. While the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends setting a home’s water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, some people hike theirs to temperatures so high they can be scalding, especially for children or the elderly.

7. Your front door

Few people think to check the quality of their exterior doors, but sometimes cheap contractors or house flippers will install an interior door as an exterior door, which can cause a number of issues.

Interior doors are not built for insulation, so your energy bills could be higher. What’s more, these doors are also far less safe because they often have hollow cores and are not built to resist forced entry, says Jonathan Johnson, a home safety expert with YourLocalSecurity.com. If that fits your situation, consider getting a new one.

8. Door locks

You should also change the locks on your new home or have them rekeyed. While getting the keys at closing was probably exciting, it’s less than exciting to think of the potential number of people who might have been given copies by the previous owners. From baby sitters to neighbors to relatives, an unknown number of people might have a key (and instant access) to your home.

9. Windows and screens

Generally, window screens are designed to be removed from the interior of the home. However, if they’re installed backward—a surprisingly common mistake—they can make an easy entry point for thieves.

No screen will stop a determined thief, which leads to our next point: window latches. Even if windows seem latched, it’s always a good idea to test them as if you’re trying to break into your own home. Older latches, especially plastic pieces, can break after extended use, yet show no obvious signs of breakage.

10. Your weather alert apps

Here’s one you probably won’t think about until bad weather hits: the weather alert apps you installed when you previously lived in another city, state, or country. Make sure to update them with your newest location before natural disaster strikes. The American Red Cross has a step-by-step guide to setting up emergency alerts.

Source: www.realtor.com

6 Off-Putting Home Features That Shouldn’t Be Deal Breakers

Thu, 03 Aug by rlpgateway

6 Off-Putting Home Features That Shouldn’t Be Deal Breakers

Buying a house is a lot like shopping for a used car—you don’t always get everything that’s on your wish list.

Unless you’re going to build your dream home, you’ll probably have to make some compromises when it comes to the interior design. That’s why Northville, MI, real estate agent Daniel Gyomory always has his clients create a list of “must-haves” and “wants.” After all, “there’s no such thing as a perfect house,” he says.

Still, it’s easy to walk into a home and get distracted by flaws or minor repairs that need to be made. The stained shag carpet that causes you to pass on a house is relatively simple—and cheap—to fix.

“Cosmetic issues are a big problem for a lot of home buyers,” says Linda Sanderfoot, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, in Neenah, WI.

The key is to keep an open mind and tap into your imagination. But since that’s difficult for a lot of people, we’ve identified six things that might look like total deal breakers at first glance but really aren’t.

1. Ugly kitchen cabinets

The average kitchen remodel costs a whopping $62,158, according to Remodeling magazine. But the good news is a lot kitchens don’t require a full-scale renovation.

“As long as the cabinets aren’t 20 or 30 years old, repainting and adding new handles is relatively cheap and can change the entire look of the room,” says Sanderfoot.

If you want to go a step further and refinish the existing cabinets—a process that involves removing, sanding, and staining the doors or drawer fronts—you will spend only about $1,400 to $3,500, according to home services marketplace HomeAdvisor.

2. Funky odors

Unfortunately, this happens a lot: You walk into a house and get hit with the smell of a wet dog or cigarette smoke. Or worse. Fortunately, there are a number of low-cost ways to banish bad smells for good.

To remove the smell of cat or dog urine, there are sprays with enzymes that break down odor molecules to remove the stench. If that doesn’t work, you might have to ditch the rug or replace a section of flooring, but not necessarily the whole thing. (Cats and dogs are creatures of habit when it comes to doing their business, so replacing just the affected area might do the trick.)

If there’s a lingering odor in the kitchen from strong-smelling foods, your best move is to hire a professional kitchen cleaning service. (Rates usually range from $50 to $150 an hour.) But a cheaper option is to coat the cabinetry with odor-blocking primer sealant such as Kilz ($17, Home Depot).

However, one smell that might be more difficult to remove is cigarette smoke, says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis. You can try combating it by washing the walls and windows and dry-cleaning curtains and upholstery. If that doesn’t work, you might need to hire a smoke-damage restoration company.

3. Grandma’s wallpaper

If seeing rooms covered with 1960s-era prints makes you want to sprint out of the house, try to picture the place with new wallpaper you love. In fact, removing and hanging wallpaper is surprisingly easy to do yourself. But if you want to hire a contractor to do it, professional wallpaper installation is going to set you back only about $500 per room, according to HomeAdvisor.

4. Outdated light fixtures

If walking into a home with dated sconces or track lighting dampens your mood, brighten up: Refreshing or replacing them is one of the easiest (and relatively inexpensive) projects you can take on. (You might even be able to update the light fixtures that are already there, which would surely help trim your costs.)

The caveat? If you’re renovating an older home, electrical wiring, wall outlets, panels, or amperage might need to be upgraded to support a more modern lighting system, HomeAdvisor says.

5. Horrible paint colors

A bubble-gum-pink bathroom or mustard yellow den might make you cringe. So change the color scheme!

You can paint a room with your own two hands—and make it look professional—without draining your wallet. (Note: Most homeowners who hire professional painters will pay between $380 and $790 for a 120-square-foot room.) The trick is to pick a color that’s going to make a room look bigger, like gray or cool blue. Also, make sure to safely dispose of leftover paint.

6. Carpet that’s seen better days

We all know carpet gets damaged over time. Still, many home buyers have trouble seeing past carpet that either has to be replaced or just needs a little TLC.

“Buyers always focus on old or dirty carpeting,” says Sanderfoot. Fortunately, cleaning carpet is easy and cheap.

To remove tough grime or stubborn stains, you can buy your own shampoo vacuum for as little as $90 to $200, spring for a professional-grade carpet cleaner ($400, Walmart), or rent a high-powered vacuum from a hardware store for about $25 to $30 per day. Depending on the extent of the damage, you might have to hire a professional carpet cleaner. (Most companies charge a minimum of $75 to $109 for carpet cleaning, according to CostHelper.com.)

If you decide to install new carpet, expect to spend $2 to $5 per square foot for middle-grade carpet material, HomeAdvisor says. So, for 1,200 square feet of new carpet you’re looking at roughly $2,400 to $6,000.

To save money, Sanderfoot recommends home buyers remove the carpet themselves. “It’s easy to tear up and can save you a few hundred bucks,” she says.

When you go house hunting, try to look past aesthetic issues and focus on what’s most important: location, size, price, and any other nonnegotiables. Criteria you should be less willing to budge on are number of bedrooms, a large yard for a pet, or a specific school district.

Also, don’t forget you can make repair requests when you make an offer.

“You may be able to persuade the seller to make cosmetic changes for you,” says Sanderfoot.

Source: realtor.ca

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.