Exiting through a Window in an Emergency

Hopefully, this will never happen to you. But, there are circumstances – a fire, for example – when you and your family would need to exit through a window. It pays to be prepared for that eventuality.
 
Your first step is to determine which windows are safe to use as an exit. There should be at least one on each level.
The windows you select will need to provide enough space for a person to climb through (at least a 20 inch opening).
 
Make sure everyone knows which windows are “safe exit” windows, and how to open them. Keep in mind that windows may have screens, so ensure everyone knows how to remove those as well.
 
For a second floor window, consider purchasing a portable escape ladder. These are compact and easily stowed in a closet or under a bed. When you need it, it hangs off the sill and expands into a ladder all the way to the ground. It’s not designed for everyday use, but it will get you and your family out!
 
Rehearsal is a good idea. You want everyone to know how to get to the nearest “safe exit” window – especially in the dark. Finally, keep your windows in a good state of repair.
 
According to the National Fire Safety Association, windows should open easily for everyone, and should not have anything in front of them that will prevent or delay a
quick exit.
 
*Morris Marketing*

Bidding War 101 (And Why High Bids Might Be A Losing Strategy)

It’s easy to get caught up in a bidding war, especially when you find your dream home. While sellers can only hope that they’ll list and a bidding war ensues, homebuyers should tread carefully when this situation arises.
 
Remember that just because one hopeful homebuyer outbids your offer, doesn’t necessarily mean you should volley back. In the worst-case scenario, you might end up with a home you haven’t researched, in a neighbourhood you don’t love, at a price you can’t afford.
 
A real estate agent that you trust, who knows the local market, can help you navigate through a bidding war and reign in any over-enthusiasm. In the meantime, here are some strategies to help you make a smart bid and if all goes well, a smart buy.
 
Know your limit.
As a homebuyer, a mortgage pre-approval is step #1, regardless of market conditions. This step informs you of how much you can spend on a home. It’s is your hard limit, should a bidding war ensue. A mortgage pre-approval also guarantees your interest rate for 90 days or more, bringing peace of mind around concerns of short-term rate increases.
 
Get the comparables.
How much is the home really worth? Your real estate agent will pull recent sales stats for you, offering valuable insight on the price of comparable homes in the same neighbourhood. You’ll then be better equipped to determine how comfortable you are taking on competing bids.
 
Know what you’re buying.
We all know that premium neighbourhoods come at higher prices. It could be proximity to the downtown core, access to lakefront, parks and recreation, good schools, shopping, or all of the above. Consider what you want and need, and why. Then decide if the home and community you’re considering is worth the price.
 
Short-term timing.
One trick to winning a bidding war is to avoid it altogether. Make an offer before the home hits the MLS system or gains buyer attention through an open house. Your agent will best advise you on how to proceed, so prepare to drop everything to tour a new listing and make your offer, before someone else does! (Note: Mortgage pre-approval in this scenario is key.)
 
Long-term planning.
The spring and fall housing markets see the most real estate action, with buyers out in droves and bidding wars bubbling at the surface. If you’re not in a hurry to buy, minimize your competition and possibly even price by shopping in the “off” season. Winter sees a drop in inventory, but also in demand, reducing your chance of being outbid.
 
Be smart about your bid.
You did your homework, right? You’ve determined how much you can afford to spend. And you know what the home is worth based on comparables. You also know what the home is worth to you. Make a bid that’s reflective of all of these considerations. Before jumping on the bidding bandwagon, have confidence that you’re getting a good deal.
 
When all is said and done, remember that the spoils don’t always go to the highest bidder. Make a clean offer, be flexible, and know when to walk away. The right home isn’t “right” if the cost to you is wrong.
 
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Before You Go on Vacation

If you are about to depart for a well-deserved getaway, don’t forget to get your home ready for your vacation.
 
Suspend mail and newspaper subscriptions. Have a neighbour check on your home from time to time, especially if you don’t have a modern security system that lets you observe your property from afar. But, don’t cancel yard maintenance or plant-watering contracts, as a neglected yard could tip off burglars that nobody’s home.
 
Consider unplugging non-essential appliances to save energy and protect them from potentially harmful electrical surges. And, remember not to post your vacation pictures on social media until after you return – otherwise you’ll be announcing that your home is unoccupied.
 
Finally, before you go, be sure you have adequate travel insurance and upload photos of critical travel documents and prescriptions to a cloud-based server for access from anywhere.
 
*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*

What Type of New Home Are You Qualified to Buy?

When you think about looking for a new home, one of the first questions that probably comes to mind is: “What type of property can I afford?” That’s an important question because your price range is a major determining factor in
the types and sizes of homes you should be viewing.
 
You don’t want to waste time looking at properties that are beyond your price range. At the same time, you don’t want to purchase a less-than-ideal home, only to realize later on that you could have afforded more. So how do you determine what type of new home you are qualified to purchase?
 
The first step is to find out what your current property would likely sell for in today’s market. I make that calculation for clients all the time. It involves reviewing what homes similar to yours have sold for recently, as well as other data — such as special features your home may have that are likely to boost the selling price.
 
Once you know the current market value of your home, subtract any outstanding mortgages and estimated selling expenses, and you’ll end up with an amount that can be applied to the purchase of your next home. (You may also have other funds you want to use.)
 
The next step is to talk to a lender or mortgage broker to see how much of a new mortgage you qualify for. (Call me if you need a recommendation.) It’s important to get a Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval. That makes the offer
you make on a new home more credible.
 
If you want to find out the types and sizes of homes you can get into, give me a call. I’d be happy to show you the possibilities! 416-779-8732
 
*Morris Marketing*

Common Household Items that Can Cause a Fire

You never want to smell smoke in your home and realize there’s a fire. That’s why it is important to be diligent about fire safety. Experts recommend that homeowners be especially careful with the following common household items:
 
• Portable heaters. Never leave one in a room unattended. Make sure paper and other combustible materials are well away from these units.
 
• Electronics chargers. We all want our computers, tablets, and smartphones to charge quickly. The price we pay for that convenience is chargers that pull in a lot of power, making them very hot. Keep them away from combustible
material, as well as other wiring.
 
• Smoking materials. Be careful with cigarettes, pipes, cigars and other such items. Bedding and upholstery, which burn slowly and dangerously, are the source of 75% of smoking-related fires.
 
• Candles. Never leave candles unattended for any reason. If you must leave the room, extinguish them.
 
• Flammable liquids. These can include paints, thinners and some brands of cleaning products. Read labels carefully and follow the safety instructions.
 
To paraphrase a famous expression: An ounce of prevention is worth not having to deal with a house fire.
 
*Morris Marketing*

Décor Tips: Colours, Patterns and Textures

According to a contemporary home decorating magazine, there are a number of significant trends taking hold this year. Some may influence your own décor choices if you’re considering a room or home makeover.
 
Perhaps the most distinctive and easiest trend to adopt is the use of warm floral colours such as lilac and lavender. These muted tones can be subtly complemented by the polished gleam of chrome, nickel, brass or copper hardware, fixtures and/or accessories.
 
In larger rooms, consider enhancing the softer natural
colours with strong accents that pop out. Use darker
furnishings and cushions, bold artwork, or a contrasting wall or drapery pattern.
 
Other ways to inject a touch of rugged relief to a pastel
makeover might include adding the textured effect of ragged or marbled paint.
 
The addition of rustic elements such as traditional wood,
tile, brick or stone can also anchor your home décor. But
use your colours and accents judiciously, especially in smaller rooms that can look cluttered. In such cases, use
uniform light colours in incremental shade variances to add dimension without creating a heavy or crowded effect.
 
*Morris Marketing*

Is Your Dream Home Within Reach?

Remember the day you purchased your current property? It
may have been your dream home at that time. Or, it may have been a compromise between what you could afford and what was available on the market. For example, you might have wanted four bedrooms only to find that there were few such properties available within your price range.
 
But, as the saying goes: That was then and this is now. Today, there may, in fact, be an ideal home on the market, at a price that fits your budget perfectly. How do you find out? The process is fairly straightforward.
 
First, you determine the current market value of your property… in other words, what it’s likely to sell for on today’s market. That will give you a good idea of the funds you’ll be able to put toward a new home.
 
The next step is to get the details you need regarding financing. You’ll want to find out what size of mortgage you
qualify for and how the payments fit into your budget. With
this information, you’ll be able to determine a comfortable
price range for a new home.
 
Finally, you’ll want to start looking at homes available on the
market that meet your criteria. For example, you may now be able to afford that four-bedroom with a large backyard in a nice, family-oriented neighbourhood.
 
Once you go through this process, you might discover that
your dream home is closer than you think! Why not get
started today? Give me a call at 416-779-8732
 
*Morris Marketing*

Household Efforts Can Help Reduce Utility Costs

There is enormous pressure on municipalities to provide infrastructure services to citizens while keeping taxes
in check. Homeowners can play an important role in helping. One of the best ways to help keep utility and service costs down is to make simple changes to your regular habits in order to ease the stress points that
make some systems overburdened.
 
For example, consider the following:
 
• Keep fat, grease and microbeads out of household drain systems that feed municipal sewage pipes.
 
• Use a household filtering system to replace the plastic
water bottles or at least recycle them to minimize landfill waste.
 
• Compost food scraps and vegetable waste, which can account for a large portion of trash volume. Alternatively, organize a compost program to contribute to local gardens.
 
• Sell or donate items such as clothing or books, rather
then throwing them ou

Curing The Home Listing Jitters

Do you ever buy products that say, “some assembly required”? If you’re like most people, that statement makes you worry that you’ll end up spending hours struggling to put the item together. In some cases, you might even decide not to buy it, just to avoid the frustration!
 
As a homeowner, you might have a similar concern when it
comes to selling your home. You may be thinking of selling,
but the process of getting your property ready and putting it on the market seems overwhelming. It may even make you
hesitate.
 
Those listing jitters are understandable. Fortunately, there’s
a cure. You simply need to get informed about the process.
You need to get the facts about:
 
• Exactly what you need to do, to prepare your home for sale.
• What your home is worth on today’s market.
• How long it will likely take to sell your property.
• How viewings and possible open houses will be handled.
• What the ideal strategy is for selling your home quickly, and for the best price.
 
Once you have all this information, you’ll know what to expect and the selling process will be easier and less stressful.
 
*Morris Marketing*