Spring is coming, it's been a long hard Winter, but Spring is almost here and with Spring it's time to get your car looking it's best!
This is a photo of my beauty Ruby (Yes, I name my car) on a Sunny day in March. I always take my car to Morris to make it shine inside and out!
For those who have never been, here's a little about how it works: The car wash is located at 533 King St E in Kitchener, but you have to access the driveway at the back of the car wash, which is off of Betzner. Take that little dead end street to the end, and hang a right.
If you're lucky there won't be a line, if there is a little line, take that time to clear out any garbage in your car and make sure that all your stuff is piled together so you can get maximum interior cleaning done. I always remove my tissue box, my cards, chap sticks, pens, coins and any other little items so they can get into all the small spots to clean too.
If you have children, remove the car seats so they can vacuum under there as well. They do offer some exterior only packages, but I'll be honest, nothing feels better than getting into a car that has just been cleaned inside too, so for the few extra dollars, treat yourself! If I'm doing my regular clean every 2 weeks, I use a #1, which includes: The exterior wash, cleaning of the rubber mats, cleaning of the windows, cleaning of the dash and they my console, a light vacuum, which is great for my car and a towel dry at the end. The entire was process is usually completed by about 4-5 gentlemen and I'm always impressed by their speed and how thorough they are.
Once you drop your car at the back wash entrance, you go inside where you can watch your car wash being completed, then pay at the counter and wait outside for your car to be pulled up all shiny and bright and if the weather is warm enough, they will towel dry it outside.
For those of you who don't get your car cleaned on the regular, you can use a more in depth detailing package where you leave your car for the day and they will make sure to clean everything you require, including a seat shampoo if you need it. I used this service once when my car was broken into and I wanted to make sure there was no glass left over inside. Thanks to the thieves, I had a bright and shiny car inside and out! If you need to know more about their packages click here.
If you're looking for a fantastic wash and little interior cleaning without having to spend the afternoon in your driveway. Morris is my go to place for a wash and I always leave feeling like a million bucks!
Are you looking for the perfect home to fit your couch, a Persian rug or maybe a dining room table? Does this make sense to anyone, why are people buying homes for objects and not for those people who are living in the home? Too many times I’ve seen families turn down the perfect home in the perfect neighbourhood because it won’t fit their bedroom set or their mirrored dresser.
Don’t let your things rule your life, the people who live in that home now obviously have a bed and it seems to fit, so sell your larger than normal bed and buy one that fits in that perfect house, or trade with a family member if the item is important to the family. I understand keeping a family heirloom, but if your home budget doesn’t allow you to buy a home with a living room that is 20x20 then maybe Grandma’s rug should go to a family member who has space for it and then you can find a home that is right for you and your family, not a rug that you feel obligated to keep.
Reality is budget is a large deciding factor in what kind of home you end up in and if you are forced to choose the home with the largest dining room to fit a table you never eat at, you may be giving up on other items that you need such as an extra bathroom, a large yard or even a home in a condition that you can move into right away.
The best suggestion I have to avoid being caught in buying a home for your items is to make a list of why you are moving from your current home, these are items that are driving you out of your current place and into a new one. Once you know what is driving you out of your current home, what is on your list of need to have and nice to have, knowing the difference between need and want can be very difficult but make the process easier. If you are buying the home with another person, I strongly suggest making this list together, you may find out that your spouse hates that large couch you inherited and buying a home with space for it makes no sense if it’s uncomfortable anyways.
Remember when you are looking for a home why you are moving, I’m sure your bedroom set didn’t wake up one morning and decide to move because it didn’t like your current neighbour, if you have to part with some items to move to where you want to be, I’m sure your happiness in the new home will outweigh the cost to replace an item that is too large for your new home.
I have just finished the accreditation process for Navigational Conversations from Leadscape Learning. This is a workshop that introduces strategic coaching skills for leaders who want to take a coach-approach when working with others.
Not surprisingly, listening is the key element of the Navigational Conversations program. For a long time, I've felt that listening is the one skill that most of us should improve.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who is distracted by something else that is going on and doesn't seem to be really paying attention to you? I know, probably not. But, it could happen!
The folks at Leadscape Learnbullhorning speak about three stages of listening that exist on a continuum of listening skills. At the low end of the continuum is what they refer to as tracking. In this stage of listening, we are engaged in a primary activity that supersedes listening. This is the listening that includes responses such as 'uh-huh, yup, okay, whatever, ...". Again, maybe you're not familiar with this situation, in which case I apologize for enticing you into this blog via the title.
However, for those who understand that the power in a conversation comes from the listening, read on.
In the middle of the continuum is a stage of listening where we are now focused on the conversation at hand. However, while we are listening, we are thinking about what is being said to us. We might be thinking of the next question that we want to ask, or we might be forming our response. We might even interrupt the other person by not waiting until he/she has finished speaking, so we can speak. In this listening mode, we run the risk that we won't pick up on all of the nuances in the conversation.
So, if you are bold enough to try something at home, here it is. Move to the far end of the listening continuum and practice being present. In this listening mode, we are listening with a quiet mind. We are intentionally not thinking up our next response. We are listening and observing. We are able to discern meaning from body language. We can pick up the essence of the conversation. We are simply being present.
Being present is a difficult listening mode to achieve and it is also difficult to remain in this mode. But it is a very rewarding skill to achieve. The person that is speaking to you will feel very connected and you will realize the power of listening.
When you list your home, I know that all sellers dream of having multiple offers, how much better can selling your home get, it sells quickly and you get to choose the best offer of the bunch! If multiple offers are what you are looking for, here are some tips on how to create multiple offers and some things to watch out for if they come up.
Price your Home Right: Price is what drives buyers into your home, if they don’t perceive it to be priced right they won’t be willing to look at it quickly. If a buyer or that buyer’s agent believes that the home is priced below market value, they will be willing to drop everything and look at your home right away, only when you get multiple buyers in your property quickly can you get multiple offers.
Have a great Product:
Price might bring them in the door, but the quality of your home is what will get them to buy. Make sure that your home is fully ready for sale before you list it, if items are incomplete or it’s not cleaned, decluttered and staged then your home won’t stand out and make those buyers feel that they had better buy this one before someone else does.
List close to an Open House:
If you list your home and have an open house planned for a few days later, buyers will feel the pressure to look at the home before the open house and to possibly offer before that open house as well, remember a buyer feels that the less eyes on a property the better the chances they will not have to end up in multiple offers
Make sure your Agent works for multiple offers:
If you are looking for multiple offers, make sure that your agent is calling all agents who have been through the home that have showed interest or haven’t left any feedback at all. Your agent should be making sure that they are exploring all options for more offers if that is what you are looking for. Also, keep in mind
that some buyer’s will shy away from multiple offers, so you do risk losing those buyers if you are too aggressive.
Once you receive the Offers:
once you have been advised there are multiple offers coming in, you will meet with your agent and all of the offers to choose which one works best for you. Remember that the buyers have put their best foot forward, so you won’t often be able to send them back for more money. While price is obviously a very important factor when you look at the offers, other factors to consider can be close date, conditions like financing, inspection and even sale of the buyer’s home. Make sure that you choose the offer that works best for you and if you have to ask the buyer to make a few tweaks hopefully it can be done. Be cautious of accepting an offer that has no conditions, in a few cases, buyers can get caught up in offering on a house before they have their financing pre-approved and could end up backing out of the offer, at which point, you would have to go back to the other buyers and hope that they are still interested in buying your home. Not only can choosing the wrong offer cost you valuable time on the market, but it can also cost you more money if the other buyers are not interested, of have chosen to lower their original offer.
Whether you end up with multiple offers or just one offer, remember the end result is the same, your home will sell for market value and you’ll be moving onto your next adventure!
Multiple offers are the things dreams are made of for sellers, but a nightmare for the buyer. Today I wanted to provide some tips for buyers who end up in a multiple offer situation.
1. Don’t wait: If you’ve found the one, don’t wait to offer on it. Every day that you wait, other buyers are looking at the property and the more people that see it, the more likely you are to end up in multiple offers
2. Be Ready: Have your mortgage pre approval, once you have your mortgage pre approval you’ll know what you can afford and you’ll be confident when you put in an offer. If you have a questionable pre approval it is advised to not get into a multiple offer situation
3. Have your Professionals Ready: If you do in fact end up offering on a multiple offer situation, you may be asked to tighten up your time frame to complete home inspections and final mortgage approvals and even lawyer tasks. It is best to know who you will be using for these services and to make sure that you have them ready when you are.
4. Let you agent know your position: Having open and honest communication with your real estate agent is best and you need to let them know how you feel about multiple offers. If you are willing to compete for the perfect house or if you are willing to walk away and keep looking. If your agent doesn’t know your true feelings for the house or your motivation, they won’t be able to properly assist. Remember, with a signed buyer’s commitment, your real estate agent is working for you and you are free to tell them how much you love or hate a house and don’t be afraid to hide your true feelings, chances are your agent doesn’t own that house and won’t be offended.
5. Plan a Strategy: I can’t give up all my multiple offer strategy tips here, but those of you who have worked with me in multiple offers are aware of what can be done. One tip that I will provide to everyone is don’t compromise on the big items, if your agent is asking you to remove your conditions of financing (if your financing is unsure) or to remove a home inspection, those aren’t items you should be compromising on. Maybe not asking for that wall mounted TV or appliances you know the owners want to keep are good items to remove from the offer, but not items that can affect your ability to purchase the house, the added stress isn’t worth it.
6. Remember it’s your Best Shot: Make sure when you are choosing what price you are going to offer in a multiple offer situation that what you are offering is your one and only chance. This price is the price you have to live with, make sure it’s a number you can afford, a number that doesn’t make you second guess how much you spent on the house and a number that isn’t just below the other offer and when you found out you lost the house over $1000 you don’t want to kick yourself over and over again.
7. Feel Good about your decision: Remember that if you don’t get the house you wanted there is always going to be another that you love even more. If you did get the house in the multiple offer, Congratulations don’t worry if you paid a little more than you wanted, the house was the one and you’ll be there long enough to make a return on your investment.
Multiple offers can be exciting and nerve racking at the same time, make sure you are prepared if the situation arises and remember if you work with a good agent and the home is meant to be yours, it will be!
Attending open houses can be fun, you can see your neighbours homes, get decorating ideas, go into large homes and dream of the possibilities; but are you doing it right? When you attend an open house the agent working that open house is there to sell that home or to connect to potential clients. Are you leading that agent on? Are you pretending to be an interested buyer? Are you not interested in the home and walk around giving negative comments?
While as a realtor we are happy to have people come through the open house, there is some etiquette that we would expect. If you are a neighbour and simply coming through to “check” out the house just let the realtor know. I often find that neighbours can be the best source of finding buyers for a home, they let all their friends know how great the neighbourhood is and they see the signs go up first, but if the realtor hosting the open house thinks you are an interested buyer they may be wasting valuable time speaking with you at an open house when they could be answering questions for a truly interested buyer. The same rules apply if you are a person who frequents open houses as something to do on the weekend or is looking for decorating ideas. A simple “I’m just looking for decorating ideas” or “I’m a neighbour, not looking to buy myself” can go a long way in an open house and will most likely guarantee you won’t be hounded for information either.
If you are a buyer who is interested in buying but the house is not what you had expected, simply leave. Remember the agent doesn’t own the house and while constructive feedback is appreciated, often the agent is aware of the condition of the home and if there are obvious defects, they are aware of that too. When you walk through an open house with lots of negative opinions and there are other people in the house, remember that this may be the home of their dreams or their budget may differ from yours and this home is all they are able to afford and they will make it work. If you walk around and provide negative comments around every corner you may be jeopardizing the sale of the home. The agent will not be offended if you simply walk in, say it’s not the right home for you and leave.
I look forward to seeing you at any open house I hold and hope if you attend other agents open houses that you keep these tips in mind, happy hunting!
With summer upon us, more and more buyers are looking at homes and are wearing sandals. While you may wear summer shoes in your home, buyers feel it’s rude to leave their shoes on in your home, so they take them off and are left with bare feet.
I urge everyone who has their home for sale in the summer to do the barefoot test. Take a walk around your home like you are a potential buyer in your bare feet and make sure that nothing sticks to your feet, that your feet don’t stick to anything and that your home in general feels clean.
Areas that I commonly find to be a concern are front entrances, make sure that if you do wear your shoes in the house that you aren’t leaving sand and dirt particles at your front door, a barefoot visitor will grab these on their feet as their first and last impressions. Basements, all buyers go into the basement, even if you don’t go there a lot, so make sure even your furnace or utility room is clean. Another basement area that can feel very dirty to bare feet is a kitty litter area, I’ve often walked into a basement and ended up with kitty litter on my feet from little fluffy walking it around the basement. I would suggest a small carpet outside of your kitty litter box for fluffy to wipe his paws on before he treks it all over the basement.
Buyers will also step outside of your home, into the garage or onto the deck, so make sure those areas are swept up as well. All areas of your home, inside and out need your attention, not only in the summer, but all year round.
Another item that can set off barefoot buyers is sticky kitchen floors, if you have children I’m sure a spilled drink it common, but in a buyers mind, a sticky floor is dirty and a dirty floor can mean a dirty home which causes them to wonder what else has been left unattended.
Before your home is ready for sale, make sure all areas of your home are bare foot tested and ready for those summer buyers.
Understanding market volatility: it's a part of investing!
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
You may have heard the terms “bull market” and “bear market” batted around. What do these terms really mean, and do they affect your investments?
A bull market is a period of time when stock prices are on the rise. These are the times when the markets give a 20 per cent return for a number of years in a row. A bear market is when stock prices fall for a sustained period of time. The fear and uncertainty of a bear market is what makes most people nervous about investing in market-based products. Bear and bull markets, along with in-between periods of less dramatic ups and downs, are a normal part of investing.
The markets have seen some pretty dramatic fluctuations over the past few decades. Market volatility is not an unusual experience. In fact, severe short-term volatility happens regularly - about every two years or so.
While there is no way to completely protect your money from this volatility, you can put a plan in place to moderate the impact. Think back to when you put your savings plan into place. Your advisor helped you to create your plan based on your long-term goals and expectations. You considered your hopes for the future, your comfort with investing and even market volatility.
No one can predict what the markets will do tomorrow, but remember to keep a few points in mind.
Your advisor may have walked you through the asset allocation process to build your plan. This process includes selecting a mix of investments to diversify your portfolio and help minimize risk and maximize return. It's designed to help cope with market volatility.
Dollar cost averaging
Investing a set amount of money on a regular basis, such as through a monthly savings plan, can offer you more buying power. When the markets are down, your regular contributions purchase more units when prices are low. When prices rise, you'll purchase fewer units at the higher price. The result—the average cost per unit could end up being lower.
Before you make any decisions about your investments, talk to your Sun Life Financial advisor.
As Spring finally comes to us (We Hope) and the Spring home sales heat up we find a whole new set of criteria to help attract the elusive Buyer to your home. Never disregard the importance of first opinion both in the inside and on the outside of the home for sale. A few tips to consider and things you can do to help attract Buyers are listed below.
UNUSED THINGS: Put the snow shovels away in the shed, the snow blower and your snowmobiles.
LAWN: Rake it to get rid of the winter residue of branches and road dirt.
Fertilize it because like paint inside the home, a few dollars spent outside to make your lawn nice and green goes a long way. Keep it cut, more than you’re usual once a week or so.
GARDENS: Clean out the garbage and put on some new mulch. Plant some nice bright annuals.
SHRUBS: Trim them up nice, Remove their dead wood and remember they look great for many years, but they do get big and sometimes ugly so remove them if their time has past.
TREES: Keep them trimmed up and out of the way. If it’s fall rake the leaves to show your nice lawn.
FRONT DOOR: Clean the windows, and paint the door and the door frame. Sweep the porch and walkways. Remember while the Buyers are waiting for their Realtor to unlock the lockbox and open the door, they have nothing to do but stand there and look around at what’s close to them so get rid of those cobwebs!.
DRIVEWAY: Power wash it and give it a coat of sealer. If your car sinks into permanent indentations when you come home consider having it repaved.
SHINGLES: Is it time to replace them? A prospective buyer will want to knock off twice as much from the price of your home as the work is really worth. Better to bite the bullet and do it now while you are in control. Other wise get a reasonable quote and leave it out to prove the real worth of the job.
PAINT: Garage doors, Front doors and Window frames. A house with flaking and peeling paint indicates a home that’s not well maintained and starts the Buyer looking for other issues while looking at your home.
WINDOWS: An important factor when looking to buy a home, but expensive. If they need replaced and you aren’t going to do it then al least paint them up nicely and keep them clean.
WALKWAYS: Keep them clean, weed free and level. You don’t need a prospective Buyer to trip on your uneven walkway or loose step and sue you and then buy your house with the proceeds.
Remember its all about FIRST IMPRESSIONS. The outside of a well looked after home will attract Buyers eyes from the street. Welcome them and say, my owner loves me and takes care of me.
If you’re thinking about buying your next home or your first home, a wish list can be very helpful to me as your realtor. When I search for properties for buyers, I am able to drill down a little further and get more specific with a home than a consumer is able to view on realtor.ca, so by sending me your wish list, I can make sure that properties that have what you are looking for are sent to you immediately.
In Kitchener Waterloo, on any given day there are over 1200 homes listed for sale, by sending me your wish list, I’m able to narrow that amount of listings down to a manageable amount and show you the homes most fitting to your needs and block out any of the white noise from properties that just don’t fit.
When making your wish list I do suggest that your items are categorized into items that you NEED to have and items that you WANT to have and items that would be NICE to have. This will allow me to meet all your needs immediately, such as number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, price, and location.
Once I’ve met your needs on a home, I then look for wants, such as finished basements, size of garage, white cabinets in the kitchen, I know that when you are looking for your 2nd, 3rd or even final home, the wants are very specific, since you’ve lived with items you have hated in the past. Please don’t be shy when providing me with those wants, this is your home and I’ve been tasked to find it and don’t worry, I will!
Once we’ve found a home that has all your needs and your wants (if it fits the budget) then we can look at the nice to haves, I often look at the nice to haves as items that add value to the home that you are purchasing, but they are also items that if you needed to add them later, you could. This could be something like a hot tub, a certain type of flooring, maybe even a finished basement (depending on your handy skills). The nice to have items I often don’t search for in the search criteria, but would be sure to point them out when choosing between more than one home.
I do caution first time buyers not to go too overboard on your needs and wants, remember to keep your budget in mind so that we can find a realistic home. If you happen to have a lot of needs and wants, by all means include them so I can look for the dream house, but all choose your top 3 in each category, these are items that you could not live without! I also like to remind first time buyers that in some cases, the place they are renting or even their parents’ home may be nicer than their budget allows, but not to worry about size all the time, believe me, when you own your own home, no matter how small it is, you will make it yours and feel so happy to have your first home.
When I look back now to when we were looking for our first home, I cringe to think of the things we would have settled on, but I know we would have still been blissfully happy…for a few years. If your plan for your first home is more than a few years, please let me know that, I can assist with getting a home with better resale value down the road and one that will allow you to enjoy it now and your returns later when you sell.
No matter which stage in the home buying process you are, send me your wish list and share all your dreams with me, my job is to make those dreams a reality. I look forward to seeing your wish list and helping you in the future.