Automatic Watering Systems for Balcony Plants.

Condo dwellers who like to be out and about – and not tied to their homes for extended periods of time – often feel they can’t enjoy the pleasure of tending to an outdoor garden. However, both simple and creative watering systems can be used to support balcony gardens – regardless of their size.

The range of options is broad enough to address most balcony gardening designs. For example, for individual potted plants, you can purchase simple water vessels that “spike” directly into the soil and dispense water over time, or you can use planters that have their own self-watering containers.

For larger collections of balcony plants, gravity-fed lines can drip a steady distribution of water from a reservoir, as long as the source is secured in a higher position than your plant beds or containers. If that’s not an ideal arrangement, you can install a more sophisticated mechanism that utilizes a pump to deliver the required moisture according to a pre-set schedule.

Finally, before you make a decision to expand your balcony’s population of plants, be sure you can manage your water supply and run-off according to your condo agreement’s balcony rules.

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Should you Play the Waiting Game?

There are many situations where playing the waiting game can pay off. For example, you can delay booking a flight and hold out for a last-minute deal, or you can wait for a grocery item to go on sale so you can stock up and save.
Does it make sense to play this same game when selling your home?

If you try to “time the market,” you could end up getting more for your home. But, you might also get less! In the meantime, while you’re waiting, good opportunities to sell at a reasonable price may pass you by.

The stakes are high when you’re selling your home. If you wait for stewed tomatoes to go on sale, and they don’t, you won’t feel a big hit. However, if you wait to sell your home and the market of eager buyers dries up, there could be a significant financial impact.

That’s why you need to be very careful about trying to time the market. Yes, it can sometimes be smart to wait a few weeks, and in some cases even a few months before you list, but you need to make that decision based on good information and even better advice.

Remember, if you’re not only selling but also buying in the same market, the advantages of “timing” might cancel each other out. If you sell when the market is high, you’ll also be buying in a high market.

What’s the good news? In most cases, the best time to sell your home is when you’re ready to sell, regardless of the market.

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Watch Out for Carbon Monoxide In Your Home

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is invisible and odourless, so you can’t actually “watch out for it”. However, you should monitor for it because an excessive build-up of this gas in your home can be deadly.

Fortunately, there are many types of Carbon Monoxide detectors you can purchase — and most are effective and affordable. Some models simply plug into an outlet. (Many also have a battery backup.)

Carbon Monoxide is caused by the incomplete burning of fuel. It can be released by a faulty gas furnace, kerosene heaters, and gas fireplaces. That’s why it’s a good idea to install detectors in areas close to these fixtures, as well as near bedrooms.

Experts say you should always follow manufacturer’s instructions when installing CO detectors, and test them regularly. You want to make sure you can hear the alarm from your bedroom.

CO build-up in homes is rare. So your detectors may never go off. But, if the alarm does sound, get everyone (including pets) out of the home and into the fresh air. Then call 911. Typically, the fire department will do an inspection and determine the source of the carbon monoxide.

A final tip: Never use your BBQ or outside grill in the garage or, especially, anywhere inside your home. The risk of CO exposure is very high and definitely not worth the convenience of a grilled burger!

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Buying the Faraway Home

Shopping for a new home in a distant town, city or neighbourhood can be a challenge. It’s especially difficult if getting there requires a very long drive or flight.

So, if you’re thinking of moving out-of-town, here are some home shopping tips to consider:

• Schedule a longer than normal viewing appointment. Make sure the seller is aware that you’ll need more time to see and evaluate the home, so they don’t book another appointment too soon after yours.

• Spend extra time in the neighbourhood and surrounding area. Drive the streets. Go for a walk. If possible, chat with neighbours you run into.

• Get all the facts you can about the home and surrounding area. You’ll want to take a close look at crime statistics, property turnover, demographics, etc.

• Don’t rush your travel plans when going to see a listed home. Try to arrive for the viewing relaxed and energized (rather than stressed and fatigued), so you can see the property in an unhurried manner.

Following these simple tips can bring your faraway dream home a lot closer!

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Where Should you be on the “Staging” Continuum?

Staging is a proven method of enhancing the appeal of your home. In some cases, it will not only help sell your home faster, but also result in a higher price. But there is a continuum to staging that you will need to consider.

At one end of the continuum is simple staging, which involves cleaning and decluttering, making some simple improvements, and possibly rearranging furniture in a way that boosts the appeal of each room. That kind of staging is relatively easy and affordable.

On the other end is “showroom style” staging. In this scenario, your home is analyzed by a professional stager, who redecorates to make sure each room looks spacious and attractive – like a showroom in an upscale furniture store.

So where on the continuum should you be when selling your home? For the most part, that depends on the demand for your listing. If buyers will be clamouring to buy your home, then simple staging might be enough.

However, if you’re selling in a competitive market, then more comprehensive staging will give you an edge.

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Budgeting for Moving Day Expenses.

On moving day, you’ll have a big task. You’ll need to get your possessions from your old property to your new one — ideally without delays or damage!

Surprisingly, many people underestimate the time and costs involved in doing that. Careful planning and budgeting are crucial to ensure moving day goes smoothly.

You basically have three options:

1. Hire a moving company to handle everything.

2. Hire a truck and crew, while doing some of the work yourself. (For example, you can pack and help with loading.)

3. Do it all yourself by renting a moving van and getting friends and family to help.

If you’re going with option one, get quotations as early in the buying/selling process as possible. Services, costs and quality vary widely among full-service moving companies.

If you’re going to do some or all of the move yourself, the best place to start is by making a list of what you’ll need. In addition to renting a moving van, or hiring a truck and crew, there are many supplies you may require. For example, you’ll need boxes, protective fill and/or wrapping (i.e. bubble wrap), markers for labeling boxes, packing tape, and more.

You may decide to rely on friends to help load the truck on moving day. That’s fine. Just be sure you have enough people to do the job within a reasonable timeframe, and confirm everyone’s attendance at least a couple of days before.

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When You See a Home You Love!

Imagine driving through a desirable neighbourhood and, just as you turn a corner, you see the absolutely perfect home. Guess what? It’s for sale! But, there’s a problem. Your current property isn’t on the market. In fact, until this moment, you hadn’t seriously considered moving.

So what do you do?

Your first step is to find out more about the listing. Get a description of the property. Find out the listing price. Check out the size, layout, number of bedrooms and other features. If it all looks good, schedule a viewing. Chances are, you can do all that in less than a day. If you go to see the property and still love it, your next step is to determine if it fits within your budget.

To do that, you’ll need to quickly find out the Current Market Value of your home — what it will likely sell for — so you can determine how much money you’ll have available after your outstanding mortgage and any other costs are deducted. It’s a smart idea to speak to your lender about getting a pre-approved mortgage at this point too.

Next, you’ll need to make an offer on the new home. Depending on the competitiveness of the neighbourhood, and the likelihood of multiple offers, you might need to list your home first. That, along with a pre-approved mortgage, will make your offer more credible. You might end up buying the new home before your current property sells. Although that might cause some jitters, this scenario happens all the time in real estate. If you do the right things, and prepare your home properly, there’s a good probability it will sell in time and that everything else regarding the two transactions will go smoothly.

But, you do need to move quickly and make some fast decisions if you want to get that perfect home.

I can help. Give me a call! (416) 779-8732

Should You Buy the “Except for…” Home?

Imagine finding a home that is perfect in every way, except for one nagging thing. That “thing” might be a smaller kitchen than you want, fewer closets than you need, or flooring that you dislike. Should you buy it anyway? How do you know if you should take a pass? It’s not an easy decision to make and depends on a number of factors.

Trying to answer these questions might help:

• How likely is it that you’ll find another home that better meets your needs?

• How soon do you want to move? (If you’re in a time crunch, you may need to adjust your expectations.)

• Is the “except for…” something that can be fixed, perhaps with a renovation? For example, there are many ways to expand a small kitchen.

• If the home’s shortcoming is fixable, approximately how much will that cost? It might turn out that the improvement is a good investment.

• Can you live with the nagging “thing”, especially when the home is otherwise perfect?

It can be tough to work through a decision like this, especially if you’re in a situation where you need to make an offer quickly. Call me for help!


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How to Zero in on the Perfect Condo to Buy

Have you ever shopped for a gift and had no idea what to buy? You may have gone from store to store hoping for inspiration, only to discover you wasted hours. Obviously, if you had a clear idea of what you wanted to find, you’d find it faster.

The same holds true when looking for a condo. The clearer you are about the kind of condo you want, the more likely you are to find it – and get it!

The best way to get clarity is to start big and then go small. That simply means you start by identifying the biggest thing – the area in which you want to live. Whatare the characteristics of the ideal neighbourhood for you? Make a list.

Next, go from biggest down one notch and think about the type of condo you want. Size? Features?

Finally, think about the inside of your next dream condo. Consider the number of bedrooms, size of the kitchen or living room, and any special features you might want.

Have fun imagining the next perfect condo for you. You may discover it’s available on the market now – or maybe it will be soon.

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Don’t Let Your Roof Become Compromised

With the risk of severe weather seeming to increase year after year, it may be prudent to take the time to check the condition of your roof before an emergency arises.

As a homeowner, you want to know that your roof can withstand fierce wind storms and heavy bouts of precipitation. However, it’s also important to know that even a small, unnoticed flaw can cause major problems over time. A single breach in your roof’s water shedding and sealing properties could develop into a problem that costs more than the price of replacing a few shingles.

Once a roof is compromised, either by a lifted tile or a cracked seal, water can continually seep in unnoticed for weeks, months or even years, ruining insulation, rotting structural wood, or damaging an interior ceiling. So beyond the overall condition of your roof, watch out for curling or lifting tiles, and cracked seals around vents and pipes.

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