These Steps Will Help You Save Thousands When You Buy a Home

Homebuyers: How To Save Thousands of Dollars When You Buy
“When you analyze those successful homebuyers who have the experience to purchase the home they want for thousands of dollars below a seller’s asking price, some common denominators emerge.”

If you are like most homebuyers, you have two primary considerations in mind when you start looking for a home. First, you want to find a home that perfectly meets your needs and desires, and secondly, you want to purchase this home for the lowest possible price.

When you analyze those successful homebuyers who have been able to purchase the home they want for thousands of dollars below a seller’s asking price, some common denominators emerge. Although your agents negotiating skills are important, there are three additional key factors that must come into play long before you ever submit an offer.

Make sure you know what you want . . . As simple as this sounds, many home buyers don’t have a firm idea in their heads before they go out searching for a home. In fact, when you go shopping for a place to live, there are actually two homes competing for your attention: the one that meets your needs, and the one that fulfills your desires. Obviously, your goal is to find one home that does both. But in the real world, this situation doesn’t always occur.

When you’re looking at homes, you’ll find that you fall in love with one or another home for entirely different reasons. Is it better to buy the 4 bedroom home with room for your family to grow, or the one with the big eat in kitchen that romances you with thoughts of big weekend family brunches? What’s more important: a big backyard, or proximity to your child’s school? Far too often people buy a home for the wrong reasons, and then regret their decision when the home doesn’t meet their needs.

Don’t shop with stars in your eyes: satisfy your needs first. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a home that does this and also fulfills your desires. The important thing is to understand the difference before you get caught up in the excitement of looking.

Find out if your agent offers a Buyer Profile System or “House hunting Service”, which takes the guesswork out of finding just the right home that matches your needs. This type of program will cross-match your criteria with ALL available homes on the market and supply you with printed information on an ongoing basis. A program like this helps homeowners take off their rose coloured glasses and, affordably, move into the home of their dreams.

To help you develop your home buying strategy, use this form:

What do I absolutely NEED in my next home:






What would I absolutely LOVE in my next home:






How Sellers Set Their Asking Price
For you to understand how much to offer for a home you are interested in, it’s important for you to know how sellers price their homes. Here are 4 common strategies you’ll start to recognize when you begin to view homes:

1. Clearly Overpriced:
Every seller wants to realize the most amount of money they can for their home, and real estate agents know this. If more than one agent is competing for your listing, an easy way to win the battle is to over inflate the value of your home. This is done far too often, with many homes that are priced 10- 20% over their true market value.

This is not in your best interest, because in most cases the market won’t be fooled. As a result, your home could languish on the market for months, leaving you with a couple of important drawbacks:

your home is likely to be labelled as a “troubled” house by other agents, leading to a lower than fair market price when an offer is finally made

you have been greatly inconvenienced with having to constantly have your home in “showing” condition . . . for nothing. These homes often expire off the market, forcing you to go through the listing process all over again.

2. Somewhat Overpriced:
About 3/4 of the homes on the market are 5-10% overpriced. These homes will also sit on the market longer than they should. There is usually one of two factors at play here: either you believe in your heart that your home is really worth this much despite what the market has indicated (after all, there’s a lot of emotion caught up in this issue), OR you’ve left some room for negotiating. Either way, this strategy will cost you both in terms of time on the market and ultimate price received

3. Priced Correctly at Market Value
Some sellers understand that real estate is part of the capitalistic system of supply and demand and will carefully and realistically price their homes based on a thorough analysis of other homes on the market. These competitively priced homes usually sell within a reasonable time frame and very close to the asking price.

4. Priced Below the Fair Market Value
Some sellers are motivated by a quick sale. These homes attract multiple offers and sell fast – usually in a few days – at, or above, the asking price. Be cautious that the agent suggesting this method is doing so with your best interest in mind.

Exterior Vertical Gardens can be Visually Impressive

Vertical gardens have become popular among those who enjoy growing outdoor plants but have limited dedicated space to grow them. Not unlike high-rise buildings that can accommodate more homes on a parcel of land by building up, a vertical garden can take advantage of a small underutilized footprint, and turn it into a visually impressive green space.

A vertical garden is limited only by your own imagination and ambition. Examples range from a stepladder-style arrangement inside a condo or on a small balcony, to a house exterior covered in climbing vines on a wall trellis.

Whether you prefer colourful flowers, flavourful herbs or simply bountiful green cover, the fullest effect is achieved by selecting plants that yield a great deal of foliage that will hang or droop sufficiently enough to cover the frame of your planter arrangement.

The most sophisticated versions can nurture greenery within soil-retaining mesh pockets on a grid-like frame, or in troughs arranged like a bookshelf.
Whatever your arrangement, it must be made so that its easy to water and maintain your plants, and water run-off can be properly managed.

To get started, go online and learn from the wide range of visual ideas, do-it-yourself kits and how-to instructions that are available.

*Morris Marketing*

The Local Real Estate Scene

Do you sometimes see “For Sale” signs and wonder what homes are selling for in today’s market? Do you ever wonder what your own home would likely sell for, if you were to list this year?

It’s natural to be curious. After all, your home is similar to a traditional investment. Some people check how their mutual funds are doing every week!

Checking on the value of your investment in your home makes sense. So, if you ever have questions about what’s going on in your local market, please contact me. I have the information and data needed to provide you with the market insights you won’t find easily on the internet.

Of course, if you’re seriously considering listing your home this year, contact me to have that conversation. The time to make those plans is now.

All the best!
Ruth B.


The 4 Most Important Rooms to Stage

Ideally, when you list your condo for sale, you want your entire unit staged well. That way, you’ll maximize its appeal to buyers. However, that’s not always possible. So, if you can’t stage everything, focus your energy on those rooms that will have the biggest impact.

Here are the rooms buyers tend to scrutinize most:

• The kitchen. Buyers almost always remember the kitchen when they see a condo. They either love it or hate it. So, making your kitchen look great is crucial. Make sure it’s clean and uncluttered. A cleared countertop with only a few carefully selected decorative items and a beautifully set kitchen table can have a big impact.

• The living room. People spend a lot of time in the living room, so it’s not surprising that buyers take a close look at this space. Make it seem as spacious and comfortable as possible. The lighting should be soft and pleasant. Professional stagers say putting some books on a table will help set the right mood.

• The master bedroom. This room should, obviously, look uncluttered and warm. If there is an adjoining ensuite, consider it an extension of the same space. The bed should be made to look as welcoming as a nice hotel room bed. A throw and some decorative pillows could make a big difference. The closet – a clutter magnet in most homes – should be as neat and organized as possible.

• The Foyer. Don’t underestimate the importance of this space. It’s the first thing buyers see when entering your unit. Clear away items, such as shoes, to make the foyer seem open and inviting.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to make your condo look attractive to buyers. When rooms are staged well, buyers tend to form a more positive impression and, as a result, you’re more likely to get a good offer.

*Morris Marketing*

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.

*Morris Marketing*

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.

*Morris Marketing*

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!

*Morris Marketing*

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!

*Morris Marketing*

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.

*Morris Marketing*

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.

*Morris Marketing*