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Home renovations & Home Insurance

Planning on renovating your home? Or, buying a new home and planning extensive renovations before moving in? Well here are some important points to consider concerning your home insurance.


Home renovations can increase the value of your home, help keep it in good shape or provide you with that extra living space you want. No matter the reason for your renovation, you need to let your insurance broker or agent know about your reno. Some renovations can even create a discount in your insurance. Quite often an endorsement for renovations will be added to your policy during the period of construction. Make sure to discuss the possible exclusions or limitations with your broker so that you understand the changes in coverage during the process.


Most homeowner policies include replacement cost for the home itself. If you increase the value by doing renovations you may find yourself with inadequate coverage.


If your home is going to be vacant for any period during renovations, even if the workers are going to be there on a daily basis, it’s very important that your broker be informed. A vacancy permit from the insurance company may be required.


Don’t be shy about asking your contractors for proof of insurance and find out who will be responsible for getting the building permits. Tell them that you require a certificate of insurance before you agree to sign the contract. If the contractor is not properly insured, you could find yourself liable for the cost of damages and injuries.


So the best renovation plans include talking with your insurance advisor about the changes that plan to make sure that your home is properly covered. Wouldn’t you hate to have something catastrophic happen to the house after you’ve spent a lot of money on getting it just the way you want it just to find out that those changes may not be covered because you didn’t inform the insurance company?

 

Mark Carruthers is a Registered Insurance Broker with Pioneer Insurance Brokers in Kitchener, Ontario. mcarruthers@pioneerinsure.com

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Send Me Your Wish List

Your Dream Home Wish List 

 

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.

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Your Couch is a Beast!

 

Your Couch is a Beast, is it affecting the sale of your home?

 

Is your couch so large that it's affecting the sale of your home?  We all know that we want the largest, softest, most comfy couch when we veg out and watch TV.  Cuddled up with our blankets, popcorn bowls, books, remotes, dogs and kids, the need for a large couch space is apparent, but is your beast of a couch slowing your home sale?

 

Often I find clients trying to fit their furniture in the home for sale and if the furniture in their potential new home is much larger than what they have, they will find it hard to think that their furniture will fit.  Less truly is more, letting people know that there is room for a full couch and a loveseat is great, but they don't need to see your mammoth couch and 2 more matching lazy boys too! 

 

Here are some tips on picking the right couch for the space that you have:

 

If you have high ceilings, choose a couch with a tall back or oversized back cushions to help soften the rooms starkness

 

If you have a small living space, try an apartment sized sofa, or a loveseat paired with 2 chairs to give a conversational space, odds are that people won't notice it's not a full sized couch if it's laid out right

 

If your space is open and you have it broken into 2 room spaces - consider a sectional couch if the space is large, it will help your mind break up the space into 2 different rooms and make it feel more spacious, there is nothing worse than an open concept home with too much furniture

 

If you have a lot of furniture, consider removing it for selling your home, take out that bulky couch and matching chair, they take up too much space and probably look worn anyways - that's why they are so great for relaxing, but that worn in look doesn't sell homes.

 

If you need to rent furniture to make your space work , the small cost for the month that you may need to rent will pay off.  The better your home looks, the quicker it sells and the quicker you can go back to regular life and well, packing!

 

 

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Your Photos are Distracting

Your Photos are Distracting

 

We’ve all heard that your home needs to be devoid of personal photos when your home is for sale, but do you know why?  There are lots of reasons why your personal photos can affect the sale of your property.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen buyers more interested in the family photos on the wall then in the space of your home. I often hear comments such as “oh I think I know them” or “Look at that Mullet! Come here honey and look!”  Not only are they distracting themselves, but their spouse as well and now neither of them is looking at the home.  I can tell you that I’ve been guilty of the exact same thing with funny family photos, but when I ask a client later what they thought of a certain home; they almost always forget what the features were of the homes with the photos.

Your photos may not only be distracting but can give away your motivation for moving, possibly you were just married and there is only one person on title of the home. As a real estate agent/Investigator, I’m able to determine that most likely this home is not the preferred home of the recently married spouse and that he/she is motivated to sell this house to get into a home that belongs to both of them to start their newly married life.  Some family photos can show how many kids you have and how old they are, from that I can tell if a family needs to move since they no longer fit in the home.  Even if they have done a great job de-cluttering to make the home look spacious, the number of people in a home can tell me they are motivated to move for extra space.

A handful of times I have found art to be just as distracting.  In those times, it has been extreme.  For example I was in a home where to artist was the owner and every square inch of the walls was covered in her art and self-portraits, while the art was well done, it was too much and we ended up counting the number of art pieces in the home which totaled over 70 on the walls. 

Another distraction can be the family calendar, some families write very detailed items on their calendars, often very personal details.  I would suggest that all personal items be put away, photos, calendars, artwork and anything else that may distract the buyers or give any insight as to your motivation to move.

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Multiple Offers - Seller's Perspective

Multiple Offers - Seller's Perspective 

 

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!

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Signs that your Home is Kept Clean

Signs I look for in a Clean Home 

 

Everyone knows that when they list their home for sale that they have to de-clutter and keep their home cleaner than usual.  Vacuum twice as often, fluff the pillows, make sure your bedroom is bright and beautiful.  But does your home show that you are always that clean or that you just rushed around and make it extra clean on the surface for the sale.  Some telltale signs that I look for when showing a home can give a lot of insight as to what goes on in the home usually and how clean the owners truly are.  The following is a list of what I check for when a buyer is concerned with a clean home.

Tubs – I always check the tub, it’s one of the hardest areas to get clean if you don’t keep it clean on a regular basis, a sparkling tub says that the home owner is clean or just replaced the tub.  Discolouration, peeling or damaged caulk are all signs that your tub is not a first priority.

The Furnace – I know it’s a weird spot to check, but a clean furnace can say a lot about the home owner.  Most people let dust pile up on their furnace, this amount of dust can make the furnace look older than it really is, so take a duster to your furnace and give it some new life.  Don’t forget to change that furnace filter too.

Windows – I don’t only look to see if the glass has been cleaned both inside and out, but the tracks.  A home that has been neglected will often have tracks full of black dirt or dust, a toothbrush and some patience can take care of this issue and make your windows look newer and the buyer is less likely to mention they need to be replaced.

Dishwashers – Appliances that are built in stay with the home, so I check them.  A person who keeps their home in tip top shape will not only wipe the outside of these appliances, but they will also make sure the inside is clean too.  I check the outside edges and if visible I look in the trap.  This cleaning is another quick tip to make your home look like it’s in tip top shape.  Even if the appliance is not staying, check ovens and washing machines, they can also be areas that show home neglect.

Trim, crown molding and ceilings – buyers are look for your home to clean from top to bottom, that means dusting or washing your trim, crown moldings and ceilings.  If you have to repaint some areas that are bit grungier, you should, this quick job will give your home the shine it needs.  You'll also be surprised how much cleaner a fresh coat of ceiling paint can make your home look, give it a try one weekend, you'll be happy you did.

If you really want your home to show well, make sure to touch on these spots that I often find are missed in a quick cleanup.  Most home owners are so focused on removing items that they aren’t seeing what’s right in front of them.  If you have to hire a professional cleaner to make these items shine, it’s well worth the money and they can make sure all these spots are clean quickly and your home will be ready to be placed on the market.

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Do it for Yourself

Do it for Yourself

 

Packing, Cleaning, Freshening and Staging.  There is a lot of work involved in getting your home ready for sale.  I often have clients tell me after they’ve gone through the list of work to be done for their home that they are so much happier in the home they are looking to sell.  Instead of rushing around last minute to do all the work to give your home to someone else, do those items ahead of time and for yourself to enjoy! 


Everyone knows what needs to be done to their home and any homeowner can name a list as long as their arm of things in their home that bother them.  If those small items bother you, it will bother the buyer of your home as well.  So do those small jobs now, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel about your home and how quick it was to do it.  Doing these small jobs as you go along also save you some time when you are actually ready to list your property, you can focus more on the staging and less on the little jobs that you know should have been done months or even years earlier.


Some examples of small jobs include:  painting scuffed baseboards, caulking countertops and tubs, painting the ceiling, cleaning eavesthrophs both inside and out, straightening kitchen cupboards, replacing taps, laundry hoses, updating lighting, replacing or cleaning older and stained carpet , updating bathroom and kitchen flooring,  and anything else that you notice on a daily basis that needs updating or repair. 


Take the time to show your home the love it deserves and the love that you had for it originally by maintaining it well now so when you are ready to list your property you can focus on the cleanup and staging and less on the small jobs, and you’ll be able to enjoy your home more when the list isn’t getting longer and longer until it becomes a burden. Complete those items for you and your family to enjoy now instead of working hard in the month before you sell your home to let someone else enjoy all your work.

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Attending Open Houses

Are you going to Open Houses in Kitchener/Waterloo?

 

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!

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Keep your Floors Clean

Keep your Floors Clean for Bare Feet

 

With Spring finally here,  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.

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Sellers Market - How to have an attractive offer

Sellers Market - How to have an attractive offer 

 

We are currently experiencing a Sellers market is most of Southern Ontatio and in Waterloo Region to be specific.  This means that right now, there are more buyers than there are homes for sale.

With fewer homes on the market and more buyers, homes sell quickly in a seller’s market. Prices of homes are likely to increase, and there are more likely to be multiple offers on a home. Multiple offers give the seller negotiating power, and conditional offers may be rejected.
 

Here are some tips on how to be more attractive to sellers:
 

Time is of the essence: Multiple offers happen with more regularity in a sellers' market than a buyer's market. That's because by its very nature a seller's market is defined in part by low inventory and lots of home buyers. A beautiful home that is priced well can attract more than one offer. Remember, you might not be the only buyer.  Look at homes as they become available and make time to look if you feel this home may be the one, some sellers have tight timelines on which they will show their home, it may seem unreasonable, but try to fit into these timelines

Price: Price is not always the most important factor. But do not offer less than list price. Realize you may need to offer more than the amount the seller is asking.  I would suggest that you look below the price you are willing to pay for any home in this market so you have room to move up to a price you are comfortable with instead of falling in love with a home that will sell well above your budget
 

Don't Request Favors: This is not the time to ask the seller to give you the refrigerator or washer and dryer, or part with fixtures, or paint the front door if they haven’t already said they would do this in the listing.
 

Be Flexible on your closing:  The seller will often have a closing in mind, since they have most likely already purchased their next home, being flexible on your closing date will be helpful and one more way to be a more attractive offer, this may mean staying with family for a few weeks, or giving notice late at your current place, but worth it to get the home you love

Have a solid pre approval:  Most offers in competition remove their clauses, this includes a financing clause, have this discussion with your bank or mortgage broker and make sure your approval is solid so you too can go in with no conditions to be more competitive

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Contributors

Stephanie Catcher
42
June 18, 2020
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Mark Carruthers
6
October 15, 2019
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Steve Catcher
6
June 9, 2014
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