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Buying the Home Everybody Wants

When you’re shopping for a home, you may become interested in a property for sale that someone else is also considering. In fact, there may be several other buyers entertaining the idea of making an offer.

In such a competitive situation, what should you do if you really love that home?

Obviously, you’ll need to move quickly and make some fast decisions.

Start by making certain the property fits within your price range. The last thing you want is to have an offer accepted and find out it is beyond your budget. That’s why it’s a good idea to arrange for financing before you go home shopping.

Next, you want to make an offer that is so enticing to the sellers that they’ll put your offer at the top of the pile, if not close to it. So, what makes an offer enticing?

Obviously, price is a big factor. You want to go in at a price that’s attractive to the sellers, without overpaying. Imagine finding out later that the nearest offer to yours was $15,000 less. Ouch!

Chances are your offer price will need to be at or slightly above asking. Find out what similar homes in the area recently sold for — what real estate agents call “comparables” — and use those as a guide.

It’s also important that your offer contains few, if any, issues that may be concerning to the sellers. The ideal offer will feature:

  • No conditions.

  • A closing date that’s convenient for the seller.

  • A deposit amount that shows you’re a serious buyer.

  • Acceptance of any of the buyer’s “exclusions”. (For example, they want

    to take the fridge and stove with them.)

  • Evidence you can get financing. (Many lenders offer a “Mortgage Pre-

    approval Certificate”.)
    Although a “no conditions” offer is the most attractive, including a condition on

    passing a professional home inspection is usually not a problem, so long as the inspection is done quickly. Avoid adding other conditions, such as “subject to financing approval” or “subject to the sale of buyer’s existing property”.

    If you want to increase the likelihood that you’ll find — and, more importantly, get — your next dream home, call today.




    Is Home Staging Worth the Effort?

    Staging is all about dressing up your home so that it looks its best to buyers. This can involve anything from rearranging furniture and doing some home improvements, to painting and redecorating, to even replacing existing furnishings and other items. The goal is to make key rooms look worthy of a magazine cover!

    But is it worth the effort? Can’t you just clean and tidy and, perhaps, do a little painting?

    Sometimes you can — especially if your home is in high demand and likely to get multiple offers.

    However, in most cases, staging can help sell your property faster and for a higher price.

    In fact, studies done by the home staging industry consistently reveal that staged homes sell for an average of 5-23% above list price. (That varies, of course, depending on the local market.)

    Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to do extensive staging. You may, for example, be able to focus on only key rooms on the main floor — where buyers tend to form their lasting impressions — and then simply clean and declutter the other rooms.

    When it comes to staging, you have many options. Each home is different and will have different staging needs.

    Want to find out how staging may impact the sale of your property? Call today.


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10 Staging Secrets From the Pros for a Quick Home Sale at Top Dollar


 

According to the National Association of Realtors, staging a home prior to listing it can result in a faster and more profitable sale.[1] In fact, the Real Estate Staging Association estimates that professionally staged properties spend 73 percent less time on the market, receive more foot traffic, and typically sell for more money.[2]


Following are 10 tips you can use to get your home “show ready” prior to hitting the market. These easy and cost-effective ideas will help your house look its best—and help buyers visualize themselves living there. Even if you’re not currently in the market to sell, you can use these tactics to breathe new life into your existing home decor.


To get a plan customized for your particular property, give us a call to schedule a free consultation. We’d be happy to share our insider knowledge of the buyer preferences in your neighborhood … so you’ll know where to focus your time, money and energy to maximize your results.



1. REMOVE CLUTTER


Decluttering is the act of removing excess “stuff” from your home to make it appear clean and spacious. Overflowing closets and cluttered countertops can make your house feel small and cramped. In contrast, sparsely-filled closets and clear countertops will make your home appear larger and assure buyers that there will be plenty of room to store their belongings.


Don’t neglect drawers, cupboards and even your refrigerator in your decluttering efforts. Serious buyers will check out every nook and cranny of your home, so pack up anything you don’t use on a daily basis and store it off site. The same goes for jewelry, sensitive documents, prescription medication, firearms and other items of value. Store them in a locked safe or storage unit before opening your property to buyers.


Make sure any items that remain are clean, tidy and well organized. The good news is, when it comes time to move, a large portion of your packing will be done!



2. DEEP CLEAN AND DEODORIZE


From carpets to bathrooms to appliances, having a clean home is a MUST. To achieve this, you may want to invest in a professional cleaning service for your home, carpets and upholsteries. 


In addition to cleaning, it’s equally important to neutralize odors in your home that can be off-putting to buyers, especially pet smells and cigarette smoke. If the weather allows, open your windows and let in fresh air. Empty the trash frequently, and especially before a showing. Avoid cooking any strong-smelling food such as fish or heavy spices.


Try to keep your home in clean, show-ready condition while it’s on the market. You never know when a potential buyer will want to drop by for a viewing.



3. DEPERSONALIZE


Your family photos and personal mementos are often your most treasured possessions. For many of us, they are what make a house a home. However, buyers will have a hard time envisioning themselves living in a place if it feels like YOUR home. 


Pack up any items that are personal to you and your family, such as photos, books, children’s artwork, travel souvenirs and religious items. Collectibles and excessive knickknacks can be distracting to buyers. Instead, keep your decor items minimal and generic to appeal to the largest number of buyers.


 

4. NEUTRALIZE YOUR COLOR PALETTE


Along those same lines, bold color choices may not appeal to all buyers. By incorporating a neutral color palette throughout your home, buyers can better visualize the addition of their own furniture and decor, which may contrast with your current color scheme.


But don’t limit yourself to white and beige. Incorporating earth tones and midtone neutrals—like mocha and “greige” (grey-beige)—can add a touch of modern sophistication to your decor.



One of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to neutralize your home’s decor is with paint. And if your sofa is worn, stained or has a bold pattern, consider purchasing a neutral-colored slipcover. Dated or overly busy window coverings should be taken down or replaced. Instead, bring in tasteful pops of color with throw pillows and accessories. 



5. INCREASE YOUR CURB APPEAL

 

You only get one chance to make a first impression. According to a 2017 report by the National Association of Realtors, 44 percent of home buyers drove by a property after viewing it online but did NOT go inside for a walkthrough.[4] That means if your curb appeal is lacking, buyers may never make it through the door.


Walk around your home and look for any neglected areas that might seem like “red flags” to buyers, such as missing roof shingles or rotted siding. Trim trees and shrubs if needed, add some colorful flowers to your front beds and/or flower boxes.


Make sure the exterior of your home is clean and inviting. Thoroughly wash windows and siding. Open shutters, curtains and blinds.


Consider a fresh coat of paint on your front door, trim and shutters. And small, cosmetic improvements like new house numbers, a colorful wreath and a clean front doormat can have a big impact.



6. FRESHEN KITCHENS AND BATHS

 

Kitchens and bathrooms will show better and appear larger if all items are cleared from the countertops, except for one or two decorative pieces.[6] If your cabinets are dingy or outdated, adding a fresh coat of paint and new hardware is an easy and inexpensive way to make them modern and bright. Purchase new bath mats and towels to complete the look.


Before each showing, make sure kitchens and baths are spotless and trash cans are empty and out of sight. To add a comforting aroma, try baking cookies, or in the fall, simmer some cinnamon sticks and cloves in a pot of water before you leave the house. In the spring, try a vase of fresh cut lilacs.


 

7. SET THE TABLE


Buyers often imagine hosting family gatherings in their new home, and the dining room plays a large role in that vision. If your dining room chairs are stained or outdated, you may want to recover them or use slipcovers. In most cases, an imperfect table can be camouflaged with a neutral and stylish tablecloth.


Be sure the table is centered underneath the chandelier and on the area rug if you’re using one. If your dining room is small, remove all other furniture and leave only four chairs.


Dress up the table using nice tableware and cloth napkins or a table runner and centerpiece. For a long table, try lining up a series of small vessels down the middle.





8. REARRANGE FURNITURE


Start in your living room and think about what you want to emphasize (and de-emphasize) about the space. Use a symmetrical seating arrangement to create a cozy conversation area adjacent to the focal point.


If the room is small, consider removing some of the furniture to make it feel larger, especially oversized pieces. Pulling furniture away from the wall can make the room feel more spacious, and placing your largest furniture piece in the far-left corner (as opposed to near the entry) can create the illusion of a larger space.


For small bedrooms, remove all the furniture except the bed, bedside tables and a dresser. If it’s a large room, add one or two chairs and a table to create a seating area.


Make sure each space in your home has a clearly defined purpose. For example, if you’ve been using an extra bedroom as a catch-all storage space, stage it as a guest room or office instead. Help buyers imagine how they could use the space themselves.



9. LIGHTEN UP


Lighting can have a drastic impact on the look and feel of a home. Make sure windows are clean, and open curtains and blinds to let in the maximum amount of daylight.


Each room should have three types of lighting: ambient (general or overhead), task (such as a reading lamp or under-cabinet light), and accent (such as a floor or table lamp). Aim for a goal of 100 total watts per 50 square feet.[10] If your mounted light fixtures are dated, replacing them with something more modern is an easy and inexpensive upgrade that can have a big impact.


Strategically placed landscape lighting can add a dramatic effect to your home’s exterior. Welcome evening visitors with a lighted walkway, or use a spotlight to accentuate trees or other landscaping features.



10. HIGHLIGHT YOUR BACKYARD’S BEST FEATURES

 

While your home’s interior often takes center stage, don’t forget about staging your home’s outdoor areas to help buyers imagine how they could utilize the space.


Even a small patio can become a selling feature with the addition of a cafe table and chairs. Add a tray of plates and coffee cups to help buyers envision a peaceful breakfast on the back porch. Place chairs and wine glasses around an outdoor firepit or hang a hammock with a book in your favorite shady spot.[3] These small, simple additions can help buyers visualize the possibilities your backyard has to offer.



BEFORE YOU GET STARTED

 

If you’re in the market to sell your home, this list provides a great starting point for your preparations. But nothing beats the trained eye and expertise of a real estate agent. Before you do any work, we recommend consulting a professional for advice about your particular property. 


We offer free, no-commitment seller consultations and will walk through your home with you to help you assess which projects and upgrades are worth your time and money, and which ones you can skip. 


As local market experts, we are intimately familiar with buyer preferences in your area. We’ll run a comparative market analysis to find out how your home compares to others currently on the market, as well as those that have recently sold. Then we’ll tailor a custom plan to suit your particular property, budget and needs. 


Please call or email me today with questions or to schedule a free consultation!




Sources:


  1. National Association of Realtors – https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/migration_files/reports/2017/2017-profile-of-home-staging-07-06-2017.pdf
  2. Real Estate Staging Association – http://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=304550&module_id=164548
  3. Houzz – https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2661221/list/sell-your-home-fast-21-staging-tips
  4. National Association of Realtors – https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/reports/2017/2017-home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends-03-07-2017.pdf
  5. The Spruce – https://www.thespruce.com/must-try-neutral-paint-colors-797983
  6. HouseLogic – https://www.houselogic.com/sell/preparing-your-home-to-sell/home-staging-checklist/
  7. StageMyOwnHome.com – http://www.stagemyownhome.com/staging-the-dining-room.html
  8. Realtor.com – https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/small-living-room-staging-tricks/
  9. SFGATE – http://homeguides.sfgate.com/stage-master-bedroom-34573.html

HGTV – https://www.hgtv.com/shows/designed-to-sell/15-secrets-of-home-staging-pictures

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The start of a new year always compels people to take a fresh look at their goals, from health and career to relationships and finance. But with historically low mortgage rates, increased home sales and price growth, and a tight housing inventory, the time is right to also make some homeownership resolutions for 2021.


Home buyers, is this the year you work to improve your credit score, pay down some debt, or save for a down payment? 


Home sellers, we’ve laid out plans for you to get top dollar for your property, including timing your home sale, making your property stand out from the crowd, and investing in your extra living space. 


And even if you’re staying put for awhile, homeowners, you can resolve to improve your status quo by evaluating your home budget, finalizing your home maintenance schedule, or maybe investing in a second property.


So no matter your homeownership status, we’ve got some ideas and advice for you to make this year your best one yet. Read on to learn more.



HOME BUYERS


Resolution #1: Qualify for a better mortgage with a higher credit score.


Your credit report highlights your current debt, bill-paying history, and other key financial information. Importantly for your home-buying journey, it is also used by lenders and companies to calculate your credit score, which partly determines if you are qualified to obtain a mortgage. Therefore, before you start house-hunting, make sure your finances are in the best possible shape by checking your credit report and credit score, available directly from Equifax and TransUnion.1


Your credit score will be a number ranging from 300-900. Generally speaking, a credit score of 725 or higher is considered very good to excellent.2 If your score drops below 725, you might need to work at boosting your score for a few months before you begin house-hunting. Ways to do this are to pay your bills on time every month, keep your credit card balances low, and avoid applying for new credit.3



Resolution #2: Improve your credit health by paying down debt.  


Do you have student loans, credit card debt, or car payments tying up your income each month? That debt is hurting your “buying power,” or the amount of home you can afford. Not only is it money that you can't spend on your new home, but your debt-to-income ratio also affects your credit score, which we discussed above. The less debt you have, the higher your score and the better mortgage you can obtain.


If you can, pay off some debt in its entiretylike a low balance on a credit card. Then apply that "extra" money you previously paid on that credit card to pay off bigger debt, like a car loan. Even if you can’t pay off all (or any) of your debt in full, reducing the balances of each account will help you qualify for the best possible mortgage terms.



Resolution #3: Create a financial safety net before applying for a mortgage


Don’t forget that buying a home requires some cash as well. The down payment depends on the home’s price, but the minimum is 5% for a purchase price of under $500,000, and closing costs range from 2-3%.4,5 You’ll also need money for moving expenses and any initial maintenance tasks that might pop up. And as the pandemic taught us, you never know when an unforeseen event might cause a job loss, drop in income, or health scare, so having some liquid savings will ensure that you can still pay your mortgage if a crisis occurs.


Dedicate some effort to building up your reserves. Cut down on unnecessary expenses, and consider having a portion of each paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account to avoid the temptation to spend it.



HOME SELLERS


Resolution #4: Decide on the right time to sell your home.


In a typical year, spring is when home sales spike in Canada. This might be the best time to take advantage of the price increase predicted by the Canadian Real Estate Association, which says, “The national average price is forecast to rise by 9.1% in 2021 to $620,400.”6


But sales price isn’t the only thing to consider. You might not be ready to sell your home yet because you don't want to uproot your kids during the school year or because you need to tackle some minor upgrades before placing your home on the market. 


This means that there is no one month or season that is the perfect time to sell your home. Instead, the right timeline for you takes into account factors such as when you’ll earn the highest profit, personal convenience, and whether your home is even ready to put on the market. A trusted real estate professional can talk you through your specific needs to clarify when to sell your home. 



Resolution #5: Boost your home’s resale value by making your property shine.


Housing inventory is at historic lows across the country, and that means the market is fiercely competitive.7 Selling your home in 2021 has the potential to net you a huge return right now, and you can maximize that amount with some simple fixes to make sure your property outshines your neighbours’ for sale down the street. 


In your home, you might need to tackle a minor remodelling project, such as upgrading the flooring or adding a fresh coat of paint. According to one re-modelling impact report, simply refinishing existing hardwood floors recoups 100% of the cost at resale, and completely replacing it with new wood flooring recovers 106% of costs.8


Outside, you might consider improving your curb appeal by removing a dead bush, trimming a tree that blocks the front window, or power-washing your moldy driveway and sidewalks. In fact, real estate agents say cleaning the exterior of your house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to a home’s sale price.9 And improving a home’s landscaping may increase its value by 15 to 25%.10 


A good agent should provide custom-tailored suggestions to ensure your property pops inside and out. Ask us about our local insider secrets that will make your home stand out from others on the market.



Resolution #6: Invest in your “extra” living space to meet current buyers’ needs


Due to COVID-19, more people are staying at home to work, go to school, exercise, and stay entertained. And these lifestyle changes are showing up in home buyer preferences. For example, according to one study, buyers are looking more and more for homes with formal, outfitted home offices, private outdoor spaces, and updated kitchen appliances.11


So if you’ve got an under-utilized room, consider turning it into an office, home gym, schoolroom, or multi-purpose room to meet current home buyer needs and attract better offers on your home. Got some underwhelming space outside? You could turn it into an outdoor entertainment area by adding a fire-pit, upgrading the patio furniture, or installing a grilling area. Be sure to consult with a local real estate professional before investing in a renovation, however, as each market’s buyers have different tastes.



HOMEOWNERS


Resolution #7: Evaluate your household budget to reflect financial changes.


After this past year, in particular, your financial picture may have changed. Maybe you were furloughed, had your hours reduced, or got a new job further from home. Perhaps you’ve kept the same job, but you’re now working remotely. A work-from-home arrangement could mean less money spent on gas, tolls, a professional wardrobe, and dining out for lunch. 


But this could also mean new (or increased) expenses now that you’re working at home, such as new tech-related purchases, faster Wi-Fi, and higher energy bills. January marks the perfect opportunity to update your income and expenses and review last year’s spending habits, tweaking as needed for 2021.


For more specific ideas, contact us for our free report "20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget."



Resolution #8: Save money now (and earn more later) with a home maintenance plan. 


Having a schedule of regular home maintenance projects to tackle will save you money now and in the long-term. You’ll avoid some surprise “emergency fixes,” and when you’re ready to eventually sell your home, you’ll get higher offers from buyers who aren’t put off by overdue repairs.


Even if nothing necessarily needs fixing right now, you can lower your energy costs by maintaining and upgrading your home. For example, consider upgrading some features to ENERGY STAR high-efficiency products. You could save 10% in energy costs if you switch out your gas broiler, and up to 45% if you change your windows!12,13


For a breakdown of home maintenance projects to tackle throughout the year, contact us for our free report “House Care Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Maintaining Your Home.”



Resolution #9: Invest in real estate for a better standard of living. 


Even if you don’t plan on leaving your current residence, real estate is a great way to improve your quality of life in 2021. 


Have cabin fever from the long quarantine? A vacation home in a getaway location you love lets you safely spread your wings. And if you have been looking for a second stream of income, an investment property might be your answer. Just be sure to consult with a real estate professional to get a realistic sense of a property’s true income potential.


Want more information on how a second property fits into your 2021 plans? Request our free report, "Move Up vs Second Home: Which One Is Right For You?"



LET US HELP YOU WITH YOUR 2021 GOALS

Without a plan and a support system, 73% of Canadians will break their new year’s resolutions.14 Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in your home, it helps to connect with a trusted real estate agent to keep you motivated and on track.


As local market experts, we have the knowledge, experience, and networks to help you achieve your homeownership goals, whatever they may be. Reach out to us today for a free consultation and commit to a happy and prosperous new year.




Sources:

  1. Government of Canada -
    https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/order-credit-report.html
  2. Equifax -
    https://www.consumer.equifax.ca/personal/education/credit-score/what-is-a-good-credit-score/ 
  3. Government of Canada -
    https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/improve-credit-score.html 
  4. RateShop -
    https://www.rateshop.ca/page-minimum-down-payment-in-canada  
  5. Bank of Montreal -
    https://www.bmo.com/main/personal/mortgages/closing-costs/ 
  6. Canadian Real Estate Association -
    https://www.crea.ca/housing-market-stats/quarterly-forecasts/ 
  7. Canadian Mortgage Trends -
    https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2020/12/tight-market-conditions-keep-home-sales-and-prices-at-historical-highs/
  8. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-remodeling-impact-10-03-2019.pdf 
  9. House Logic -
    https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/add-value-to-your-home/adding-curb-appeal-value-to-home/ 
  10. Ottawa Citizen -
    https://ottawacitizen.com/life/homes/landscape-tips-to-increase-your-homes-value
  11. HomeLight -
    https://www.homelight.com/blog/top-agent-insights-for-q2-2020/
  12. Government of Canada -
    https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/spotlight-energy-efficiency/2020/10/21/23081
     
  13. Government of Canada -
    https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/spotlight-energy-efficiency/2020/11/26/winter-coming-top-tips-heat-your-home-less/23141 
  14. Ipsos -
    https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/three-ten-31-canadians-will-set-new-years-resolution-yet-three-quarters-73-eventually-break-them 
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This year has demonstrated, perhaps more than ever, the importance of our family, friends, neighbours, and community. It truly “takes a village” to keep a community functioning effectively, whether that’s by keeping our waterways clean, feeding the hungry, teaching our kids, or supporting small businesses. 

With the holidays right around the corner, December offers the perfect opportunity to give back to the place we call home. You might want to focus your efforts near home, expand to our larger community, or even help support the people closest to you. Whether you’re passionate about a particular cause or just want to get more involved in general, let these 10 ways, both big and small, inspire you to do good in your town. 


GIVE BACK NEAR HOME

#1. Attract local wildlife. By making your neighborhood more wildlife friendly, you’re helping to  create a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Plus, many of the animals you can attract help with pest control and pollination.1

Ideas: 

  • Add a birdbath to your backyard or create a rain garden to attract wildlife (and filter out local pollutants). 
  • Place bird feeders on your property to feed birds all year long. 
  • Tie corncobs to tree branches to feed squirrels. 
  • Hang birdhouses on your property to provide shelter. 
  • Use native plants in your landscaping to provide food and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and other critters.

Take action: While you might not be able to “break ground” until spring, start researching native plants now to design a landscaping plan that provides food, shelter, and water for local wildlife.


#2. Clean up our community. Besides beautifying the area, picking up trash keeps it out of our local waterways, which means a cleaner water supply for all of us.

Ideas: 

  • Whether you make this a solo effort or join in an organized group event, pick up trash in your neighborhood, at a local park, or elsewhere in our community. 
  • Depending on your community’s regulations, you can recycle many home items such as paper, glass, and aluminum. 
  • And don’t forget to clean the exterior of your home, where water runoff (such as on your driveway and sidewalks) can carry debris into the local sewer system.2

Take action: Check with your local municipality to learn about environmental clean-up efforts in our community, as well as recycling and composting.  


#3. Organize or join a neighborhood watch. According to a recent report, neighborhoods with Neighborhood Crime Watch programs experience roughly 16 percent less crime.3> Keeping an eye out for each other instills a sense of safety and security in your neighborhood by increasing surveillance, reducing opportunities, and enhancing information sharing among residents. Even if your neighborhood doesn’t have an official program, you can still share crime information via a neighborhood Facebook group or apps like NextDoor.

Ideas: 

  • Make a point of looking out for each other and being observant of what’s going on. 
  • You can even make it official by joining a neighborhood watch program. 
  • Don’t have one? Consider launching a neighborhood watch program with the help of other interested neighbors.

Take action: Some police forces use online mapping tools that provide crime alerts to people in neighborhoods where recent criminal activity occurred.3 Share this information with your neighbors.


HELP OUT LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS

#4. Boost your civic engagement. Regardless of your politics, you can get more involved as a citizen to make a positive difference in our community.

Ideas: 

  • Sign a petition to make a needed change in our community. 
  • Join a peaceful march, protest, or rally to support a cause dear to your heart. 
  • Attend local school board meetings, town halls, or city council meetings to understand (and have a voice in) local issues.4 
  • Watch (and read) a variety of local news sources to get balanced reporting on what’s happening in our community. 
  • If you don’t know your neighbors very well, introduce yourself. 
  • Then make a commitment to check in on those who might need help, such as an elderly neighbor. 
  • Get plugged into the resources and events in our town by visiting local museums, taking historical tours, borrowing materials from our local library, and attending community festivals.

Take action: Do you know who our local leaders are, such as our mayor or city councilwoman? Get to know their names, their policies, and their stand on issues that affect our community. Subscribe to their newsletter and follow them on social media.


#5. Support local businesses. Our community has been impacted by the pandemic, with many businesses being forced to limit capacity, instill social distancing efforts, and even shutter entirely in some cases. Help keep money in our local economy by shopping local instead of relying on online shopping from national chains.

Ideas: 

  • From handcrafted soaps and one-of-a-kind apparel to locally produced chocolate and small-batch wines, you’ll find plenty of unique gifts at the small businesses that dot our community. 
  • Consider purchasing tickets to attend live-streamed holiday concerts and shows. 
  • Buy cookies and other baked goods from our local bakery. 
  • Get takeout from our local restaurants. 
  • Support local farmers by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at community farmer’s markets.

Take action: If you’re concerned about shopping in person right now, many of these businesses, though small, offer online shopping, with options for in-store pick-up, curbside delivery, and/or mail options. 


#6. Donate to local charities. Nonprofits could always use your financial support, so consider making a monetary donation to help them carry out their mission in our community. But if money is tight (or you want to support in other ways), think beyond just donating dollars.

Ideas: 

  • Consider donating to a charity in someone else’s name as an altruistic gift on behalf of a friend or relative. 
  • Give blood to our local blood bank.
  • Donate new or used books to our community library.
  • Send school supplies to our neighborhood elementary school.
  • Help struggling neighbors by donating blankets to the homeless.
  • Pick out toys to give to a charity that caters to families.5

Take action: Many collection efforts run by charitable organizations and businesses take place during the holidays. Look to see what’s already taking place in our community and choose one or more to give to this season.  


CARE FOR YOUR NEIGHBORS

#7. Organize a holiday food drive. This year, in particular, people are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. The pandemic has caused many businesses to close or reduce their staff size, putting many people out of work.

Ideas: 

  • If you personally know someone who needs help buying groceries, reach out and offer to help that one family. 
  • If not, partner with a local food bank, soup kitchen, nonprofit or community organization that feeds people in need. 
  • Round up a few friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to collect food for a few weeks. Then deliver the bounty in time for the holidays.

Take action: Take advantage of your grocery store coupons and buy-one-get-one offers to inexpensively stock up on nonperishable goods.


#8. Adopt a family or an individual. The holidays can be a struggle, especially financially, for some families. They might not be able to buy a Christmas tree or presents for their children. Maybe their holiday meal consists of boxed macaroni and cheese because they can’t afford a turkey and fresh vegetables. You can make a difference by “adopting” a particular family (or even just a child) to help make their holiday special.

Ideas: 

  • If you know a needy family, help them directly. 
  • If not, ask a community group for the name of a family or individual in need. 
  • Some businesses even sponsor toy drives or “angel trees” where you can pick the name of a needy family off the tree and buy from their wish lists.

Take action: This works great as a family project. Get the kids in your life involved to help make holiday cards and pick out toys to give to the children in the adopted family.


#9. Volunteer. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, you might be able to volunteer in-person or from home, whether it’s a one-time effort or ongoing project. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people in your community as you make a positive impact together for a shared cause.

Ideas: 

  • Give your time to a cause or organization that really matters to you, such as your local school, animal rescue organization, mental health awareness group, or environmental nonprofit.6
  • Tap into a skill you already have, like creating videos, and offer your services.
  • Or learn a new skill (like fundraising) to benefit your cause of choice.

Take action: Start with your local community to see where its needs are the greatest. Make a point to help this holiday season, perhaps extending your commitment throughout 2021.


#10. Perform random acts of kindness. Don’t think you need to “go big or go home” in your give-back efforts. You can make a big difference one small act at a time.

Ideas: 

  • Give a generous tip to a waitress. 
  • Pay for the coffee of the car behind you in the drive-through. 
  • Take care of a neighbor’s pet while they’re out of town. 
  • Send holiday cards to deployed military personnel. 
  • Deliver a plate of homemade holiday cookies to our local fire or police station. 
  • Smile at a stranger. 
  • Rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. 
  • Thank your child’s teacher for all their hard work this year. 
  • Send an uplifting text to a friend. 
  • Compliment someone. 
  • Help a coworker with an unpleasant task.   

Take action: Need more ideas? Visit randomactsofkindness.org for hundreds of inspiring ways to make someone’s day a little brighter.


HOW WE CAN HELP YOU?

As real estate experts in our local community, I have tuned into the unique needs of the place we all call home. Reach out to me today to discuss more ways to make a positive impact in our community—this holiday season and beyond. And I want to make sure you’re taken care of, too. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home now or in the near future, let us help you!

 


Sources:

  1. Redfin – 
    https://www.redfin.com/blog/attract-wildlife-to-your-backyard/#:~:text=Sow%20plants%20that%20provide%20essentials,these%20alternate%20natural%20food%20sources
  2. The Groundwater Foundation – 
    https://www.groundwater.org/action/home/raingardens.html
  3. The Globe and Mail – 
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/how-neighbours-and-online-maps-can-help-deter-break-ins/article34886427/
  4. Parade – 
    https://parade.com/1083640/stephanieosmanski/what-is-civic-engagement/
  5. MentalFloss – 
    https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/88663/15-ways-give-back-holiday-season
  6. Together We Rise – 
    https://www.togetherwerise.org/blog/7-ways-give-back-community/
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5 Secrets Buyers and Sellers Must Know About Virtual Home Tours

For years now, virtual home tours have helped real estate buyers far and wide find the perfect home. But because of the pandemic, they have recently experienced a huge spike in popularity. One survey found that nearly 33% of recent home tour requests were for virtual tours, as compared to just 2% pre-pandemic. And it’s easy to see why.

Buyers want to quickly find their next safe haven, one that may need to serve as their office, gym, and even classroom for months to come. And sellers want to limit the number of strangers in their home, yet still have the ability to reach enough potential buyers to get the best offer on their property.

Virtual home tours are the popular thing right now, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re the only option for your homebuying or selling experience. Read on to learn five important secrets of virtual home tours and how they impact today’s home buyers and sellers.

 

SECRET #1: Virtual Tours Have Evolved

The phrase “virtual tours” has evolved this year as real estate agents have been forced to quickly create innovative ways to show homes while keeping our clients safe and socially-distanced. Here are some terms you should know:

  • Virtual Tours: Traditionally, virtual tours are comprised of 360=C2=B0 Photos that allow viewers to see all angles of the interior and exterior of a home. These can also be stitched together to create a 3D Tour, which is a digital model that looks like a dollhouse.
  • Virtual Staging: Sometimes agents will also decorate rooms in virtual tours with digital furniture and accents like wallpaper or paint.
  • Online Walkthroughs: These are videos of the listing created by the agent or seller holding their camera or smartphone and moving through the home.
  • Virtual Showing: A type of live online walkthrough that mimics an in-person tour of the home. These are often one-on-one events using apps like FaceTime or Skype.
  • Online Open House: A more freeform style of live online walkthrough, allowing more viewers to pop in and out of a group video call on platforms such as Facebook or Zoom.

SECRET #2: Virtual Doesn’t Mean Impersonal

For a purchase as intimate as your next home, details easily seen on virtual tours like a new refrigerator or the size of the master closet aren’t the only deciding factors. Luckily, virtual tours are also exceptional tools for personal connection.

Virtual tours allow buyers to easily picture themselves in the space and to get their questions answered by an insider. And sellers can be sure that interested buyers are still getting that up-close and personal look at their home that will inspire their strongest offers.

SECRET #3: Virtual Is Just The First Step To Safe Home Sales

Virtual tours are still the recommended way to safely buy and sell real estate. Buyers don’t have to worry about exposure to anyone who previously visited the property, and sellers cut down on the foot traffic in their home.

But some buyers will still need to visit a home themselves in order to feel confident enough to submit an offer. In this situation, listing agents and sellers will work together to come up with a procedure that ensures everyone feels safe and comfortable. They might require interested buyers to present a pre-qualification letter before scheduling an appointment for a tour, for example. And the day of the tour, agents may take safety precautions such as asking buyers to wear protective gear and refrain from touching any surfaces in the home.

SECRET #4: The Speed of Closing Depends on Your Goals

In 2019, buyers viewed an average of 10 homes over a period of 10 weeks before submitting an offer. But thanks to virtual tours, they’re able to peek inside that number of homes in a much shorter period. This increased buyer activity is leading to more offers per listing that features a virtual tour.

Buyers wanting to compete for listings may need to cut their search time down to quickly submit an offer. And sellers need to carefully weigh the temptation to entertain more and more offers, which can keep their home on the market up to six percent longer. Your agent can help you decide the right strategy for your priorities.

SECRET #5: Virtual May Not Always Be the Right Choice

Creating, editing, uploading, and marketing virtual tours for a listing can be pricey. Even seemingly inexpensive options like video call walkthroughs still require time and energy on behalf of both the seller and agent.

This means that a full virtual tour package might not always be a good return on investment for sellers. And buyers may notice that some listings within their search parameters don’t offer virtual tours, so it’s important not to close the door on your dream home just because it doesn’t have virtual events and features.

 

ARE VIRTUAL HOME TOURS IN YOUR FUTURE?

If buying or selling a home is on your mind, we’d be happy to discuss how virtual tours can play a part in your real estate experience. Reach out to us today for help finding local homes for sale that have virtual tours, or to chat about if adding a virtual tour to your upcoming listing is the right fit.

 
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A prestigious location, backs to a greenbelt, near Redwoods Golf Course & minutes to all amenities. New fully finished 3 storey home is in quiet cul-de-sac. A great place to raise your children. Offers a multi-room off the entrance, perfect for home office, studio or retreat. Beautiful great room is spacious & has gas F/P. The adjacent kitchen and dining rm are the heart of this home. Kitchen features maple cabinets, island with eating bar, tiled back splash, appliances & real hardwood floor. Upper floor has 4 bedrooms, master bdrm has 5 pc luxury ensuite & W/I closet. The Basement is fully finished with rec room, bedroom, full bath & a separate entry door. Added features included fire sprinkler, appliances, finished basement, fenced & landscaped yard. Location like this is a rare find. Great home for a growing family! Make your move. Listing price does not include GST.
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Polygon's Finest. Immaculate 3 storey home in a prime location, mins to Chimney Hill Elementary School, transportation & close to all amenities. This beautiful traditional style home with modern convenience features open entry w/vaulted ceiling in living rm, dining rm & family rm. Living & family rooms have gas fireplace & rich mantle to put your decor. Bright kitchen has an island, eating bar, corner sink, tiled backsplash & kitchen appliances. Sliding door off large eating area to fully fenced South yard. Upper floor has 3 bedrooms, spacious master bdrm has his & her closets, separate shower & soaker tub, his & her sinks. Full size basement is unfinished & awaits your ideas. This home shows well and has lots of room to grow. Why wait? Make your move to this affordable living in popular Harvest Wynd subdibivision. For more pics see www.pushpahomes.com
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I have sold a property at 6838 199A ST in Langley.
Morgan Creek builder offers a striking entertaining home with soaring 19ft ceiling in great room, dramatic fireplace, impressive attention to detail by high end finisher. Butler's pantry off spacious dining room, adjacent gourmet kitchen has beautiful maple cabinets, tiled backsplash, dishwasher, eating bar & nook area, covered deck w/speakers for your relaxation, exotic imported hardwood flrs, B/I speakers, upgraded plumbing & light fixtures, 1 pce water closet, double stairways, master has luxury 5 pce ensuite. Internet hookup in all rooms, 5 bdrms & 4 baths. Basement fully finished w/separate entry door, full size bar, wine cellar, room for pool table, recroom & bath. This perfect entertaining home can be yours. Call now for details. Price does not include GST.
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I have sold a property at 6820 199A ST in Langley.
Fully finished 3 storey home in a prime location on a quiet dead end street yet minutes to all amenities. This open plan has all the room a growing family needs. Spacious front porch, a multi-room just off the entry perfect for a den, studio or retreat. This gorgeous great room plan has vaulted ceiling, bamboo hardwood floors with adjacent kitchen & dining room are the heart of this home. The kitchen has beautiful maple cabinets with appliances, tiled floors & backsplash. Upper floor has 4 bdrms, master bdrm luxury ensuite & walk-in closet. Fully finished bsmt with recrm, games rm, bath, storage & separate entry door. Other features include covered deck for your relaxation, fenced & landscaped yard. Price does not include GST. Why dream, this is the home for you!
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I have sold a property at 6832 199A ST in Langley.
WILLOUGHBY HEIGHTS! Fully finished 3 storey home in a prime location on a quiet, no thru street, yet minutes to all amenities. This spacious 6 bedroom home blends traditional style with modern convenience. There is a vaulted ceiling living and dining room with real hardwood floors as well as a relaxed family room and nook off the lovely kitchen. You will be inspired, surrounded by attractive maple cabinetry , kitchen appliances, tile floors & backsplash. Upper floor offers 4 bedrooms, master with luxury ensuite and W/I closet. The basement is fully finished with 2 bedrooms, rec room, media room & separate ent ry door leading to backyard. Purchase price incl. appliances, blinds, fenced & landscaped yard. Why wait, this is the home for you!
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I have sold a property at 16990 86A AVE in Surrey.
Outstanding custom built 3 storey home on a 1/2 acre GD lot. Close to all amenities. The soothing water fountain & the double doors invites you to the grand open entry floor plan which offers vaulted ceiling, living & dining rm, hdwd floors, security system, video intercom, built-in vacuum, wok kitchen, huge kitchen with stainless steel appliances, island w/eating bar, granite counters, covered patio with hook-up for BBQ. 2 storey ceiling in ostentatious famrm. Pillars & F-C stone F/P. Guest rm with ensuite, den, 8 bdrms, 7 baths. Master bdrm w/vaulted ceiling & striking wide stairs & hallway overlooking family rm. Finished bsmt w/2 separate entries & media rm. Fully fenced large yard w/inground sprinkler system. Don't miss out on this rare opportunity, make your move to this design of distinction.
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I have sold a property at 11058 84B AVE in Delta.
Pride of ownership reflects on this beautiful remodeled open plan basement home in a prime location on a quiet dead end street yet easy access to schools, shops, rec center, transportation & Alex Fraser Bridge. Great spot to raise your family. Beautiful finished basement can be used fir extended family. This home was approved for a licensed daycare which has a gorgeous playground set up in the private backyard. It offers 4 bedrooms, 3 baths. Master bedroom with ensuite and loads of updates such as: newer roof, hot water tank, fascia board, gutters, railings, laminated floors, lino, casings, crown moldings, headers & baseboards, shelving, heritage doors, new bath in the basement, plumbing pipe updates, decora switches, improved ventilation system in the attic, new paint, newer kitchen appliances and more. Make your smart move to this loving cared home today. Call now!
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I have sold a property at 6941 135TH ST in Surrey.
Beautiful 1/2 duplex offer loads of updates: new maple cabinets, tiled floors, and gorgeous new covered deck w/skylight for you to enjoy your private backyard. New roof, new bath appliances w/extended warranty, new designer designer blinds, window coverings, den on main also has a separate entry door from outside - ideal for home office, cozy family room with fireplace, laminated & parkay wood floors, new carpet, master bedroom has a cheater ensuite & a huge walk-in closet, new paint with neutral colors, new exterior metal doors & landscaped yard. This home shows well and is close to all the amenities. Why wait, this is a home for you.
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I have sold a property at 6814 199A ST in Langley.
Pro Ridge Homes present another fully finished 3 storey home on a quiet, no thru street, yet minutes to all amenities. This spacious 6 bedroom home blends traditional style with modern convenience. Offers living and dining room as well as a relaxed family room with a built-in media niche large enough for a big screen projection TV. The adjacent nook & kitchen features a maple island, tile backsplash, computer desk, kitchen appliances & Brazilian hickory real wood flooring. Double stairs leads to the upper floor offering 3 bedrooms, master with 5pce ensuite with W/I closet. Basement fully finished with 2 bedrooms, rec room, bath, separate entry door leading to backyard. Includes blinds, appliances & fencing. Why wait, this is the home for you!
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I have sold a property at 13518 58A AVE in Surrey.
Must see this spacious basement home in a prime location, mins to all amenities & easy access to Hwy 10 on route to Richmond & Vancouver. Offers wooden stairs that leads to huge living rm with real hardwood floors & gas fireplace, bright kitchen is adjacent to dining area & overlooks the entertaining size family room with gleaming wood floors that leads to the striking deck which is spacious enough for friendly gathering. It also has 5 bedrooms - 3 up & 2 down, tiled floors, sauna, 2 kitchens and fenced yard. Perfect home for growing family. Why wait? Here's the home for you.
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I have sold a property at 10705 160TH ST in Surrey.
Immaculate 3 storey in a very convenient location. Back cul-de-sac & lane provid es safety for kids to play, walkable distance to schools, shops, minutes to Hwy 1 & Guildford. Offers very functional design w/terrific use of space & great attn to detail, extensive use of mouldings, energy saving bulbs, hardwood flrs, exquisite kitchen gives inspiration to any cook, has granite counters, under mount sinks, maple cabinets & island w/eating bar. Covered deck off delightful family rm, lar ge guest room adjoins full bath on main. Deluxe master ensuite has Kohler basins, jacuzzi, separate shower & make up vanity. Bright walk out basement is fully finished. 9 months old [NO GST]. A joy to live in.
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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.