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You don’t have to freeze in the winter or start reading by candlelight to reduce your electricity bill.There are many simple ways to use less power with little, if any, impact on your lifestyle.

 

A good place to start is with your electronics.

 

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “Any gizmo that has a clock, digital timer, remote control or standby mode is sucking energy when it's not being used (it's called 'phantom electricity' — and it's scary how much of it there is).” So keep them unplugged as much as possible. Also, unplug charger cords for phone and computers when not in use. Even when not connected to the device, they still suck power.

 

Another easy change to make involves your lights. Switching to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED light bulbs can save you a lot of energy. They’re 75% more efficient.

 

Finally, the old-fashioned method of insulating doors and windows can work wonders for lowering your electricity bill. In fact, some particularly drafty homes can lose up to 40% of their heat. Check for drafts regularly and repair or replace insulation as needed.

 

None of these ideas will impact your day-to-day living. Yet, they could potentially save you a bundle.

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You can’t call yourself a dentist unless you have specific hard-earned credentials. Just about anyone, however, can hang a shingle and call himself a home improvement contractor. That’s why choosing a reputable one is so difficult. Here are some tips:

  • Find out if he or she is truly in business full-time. A part-time or occasional contractor may not have the experience necessary to do a great job.
  • Ask about licenses and other credentials. Some contractors have accreditations from professional and trade associations.
  • Review his or her project portfolio. A reputable contractor will have photos and other evidence of work completed for similar clients.
  • Check online for reviews. If there are more than five poor reviews within the past three years — that’s a red flag.
  • Ask for references. Then, call at least one.

Finally, the best contractors are those that get recommended by people you trust.

Looking for a contractor recommendation? Call today.

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Figuring out how much time you should spend viewing properties for sale is a little like asking, “How long should I spend trying on shoes?”

The answer seems obvious: As long as it takes to make a decision!

Buying a home is significantly more complex than purchasing shoes – and the stakes are higher too! You need to make sure you have all the information necessary to confidently make the best decision.

There are basically three stages to viewing a property:

  1. Macro
  2. Micro
  3. Professional

When you view a home on a macro basis, you’re looking at it from an overall perspective. For example, you may do a general walk-through to get a first impression and determine if the property has the basic features you need, such as the number of bedrooms and the size of the backyard.

Macro viewing is often the fastest stage in the viewing process and can sometimes take just a few minutes.

If you like what you see, then it’s onto the micro stage. At this stage you take a closer look at the details of the property. You might, for example, spend extra time in the master bedroom imagining how your furniture would look and fit.

The micro stage takes longer simply because the home is now on your shortlist. You’re interested and are considering making an offer.

Finally, the professional stage involves getting a qualified home inspector to go over the property with a fine tooth comb. That typically occurs after you’ve made an offer.

As your REALTOR®, I will guide you through a viewing so you’ll know what to look for and can make a smart, informed decision. Call today.

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You’ve seen fire extinguishers in commercial environments, such as schools, stores and workplaces. Does it make sense to have one in your home?

 

According to the experts, yes. In fact, a fire extinguisher can quickly put out a blaze that would otherwise quickly grow out of control.

 

There are several types of fire extinguishers that are made especially for residential use. That means they put out the most common fires that occur in the home (Class A, B & K fires), and they are easy to handle and use.

 

Since most residential fires happen in the kitchen, that’s the best place to keep your extinguisher. Make sure everyone in your household knows where it is and how to use it.

 

Keep in mind that a home fire extinguisher is meant for small fires that are easy to put out, such as a pan of vegetable oil igniting on the stove. If you find you can’t control the blaze within a few seconds with the extinguisher, get everyone out of the home and call the fire department.

 

Also, never attempt to fight a major fire yourself. Leave that to the professionals.

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Setting the right list price for a home is a mystery for many sellers. How do you begin to determine what buyers are likely to pay for your property? After all, no two homes are exactly alike.

 

Yet, setting the right price is crucial. You need to avoid the two price “tipping points” that, if crossed, can cause you a lot of problems.

 

The first tipping point is a price that’s low enough for buyers to begin thinking something is wrong. They wonder, “Why is your price so low? What are you not telling us about your property?”

 

But that’s not even the worst problem with this tipping point. If you do get offers at that low price, you’ll have a bigger issue – leaving thousands of dollars on the table.

 

The other tipping point is setting your price so high it discourages buyers from giving your listing a second look. When your price is that high, you’ll get few enquiries and even fewer people coming to see your property.

 

Of course, you can lower your price later, if necessary. But experience shows that reduced prices make potential buyers skeptical. Most sellers who price high in the hopes of getting a windfall actually end up selling for much less than they would have if they had priced their properties correctly in the first place.

 

So what’s the right price to list your property? The answer is somewhere in-between those two tipping points.

 

Call today for help determining the right price for your property.

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Next to a major kitchen renovation, replacing appliances is the most expensive way to upgrade the space. So if you’re purchasing a new refrigerator, stove or dishwasher in order to make your home more attractive to buyers, you want to make wise purchasing decisions.

 

The most important consideration is how the appliances will look in the kitchen. Ideally, they should match in colour and style. They should also be the right size for the space. The last thing you want is a fridge that’s so large it dominates the room, or a stove that’s a completely different style and looks out-of-place.

 

Appearance is important, but so are the features. Buyers viewing your home will scrutinize the appliances. They’ll notice if the fridge has a cold water and ice dispenser. They’ll ask if the dishwasher has noise-reduction features. Double ovens and quick-heating burners (which are now available on electric stoves) will also get a buyer’s attention.

 

Power consumption is also a big issue these days. Increasingly, buyers are interested in the energy efficient features of a home — appliances included. So, as your REALTOR® I would point out appliances with energy-saving features, such as a dishwasher with a slow-run cycle that saves power.

 

Kitchen appliances may seem minor compared to the overall appeal of your property, but they do make a difference. Purchase wisely! 

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However, there are many other good reasons to meet with me. Here are just a few:

 

  • You want a professional opinion as to the current value of your property, so you know what it would likely sell for in today’s market.

 

  • You notice a home listed for sale in a desirable neighbourhood, and you’re interested in learning more — even if you’re unsure you want to make a move.

 

  • You’re thinking of moving within the next couple of years, and you want to find a REALTOR® like me, that you can get to know and trust.

 

  • You want some recommendations for preparing your home for sale and especially determining what repairs and other work needs to be done.

 

  • You want an honest assessment as to the state of the local market, and the best time for you to buy or sell.

 

  • You have real estate-related questions and you want to talk to an expert who knows the local market well and can provide you with answers.

 

As you can see, there’s a lot of value you can get from talking to me as your REALTOR®. Call today.

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Imagine if you dreamed of owning a special limited edition vehicle. What would you do to ensure that your dream vehicle would someday be parked in your driveway — with your name on the ownership papers?

 

You would probably start by doing some research. You’d find out how much that vehicle would cost, what features are available, and so forth. You would likely visit a local dealership and take a test drive if a model is available on site. You would keep an eye on the market for any that come up and let the dealer know you’re looking for just that car.

 

If you did, then, some day, you’d probably be the proud owner of the limited edition car of your dreams.

 

What does this have to do with real estate?

 

Well, you can take the same approach when there’s a neighbourhood you’d love to live in someday. You can target it, learn what homes typically cost in that area, and keep your eye on that market in case a property becomes available that meets your criteria.

 

By focusing on a specific neighbourhood, you increase your chances of someday living there, simply because you’re focusing on it.

 

Of course, neighbourhood targeting isn’t as simple as aiming to own a specific car someday. That’s why you need a great REALTOR® who can keep an eye on that neighbourhood on your behalf and alert you to opportunities that become available.

 

Then, when there is a listing that’s a good fit, you can decide whether or not to make a move.

 

Is there a dream neighbourhood you’d like to live in some day? Call today to start making it happen.

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Comedian George Carlin’s most memorable routine was, “A place for my stuff.” In it, he talked about dealing with the increasing quantity of items we accumulate throughout life.

 

George was funny. The problem is not. Here are some low-cost ideas for quickly creating storage space for your stuff. • Attach a cloth pouch or thin plastic basket to the inside of cupboard doors. This is a great way to store Tupperware lids, cosmetics, etc.

 

• Install hooks inside the foyer closet for loose items such as hats and scarfs.

• Use egg cartons to make effective storage inserts in drawers.

• Fashion stores often put purchases in stiff, high-quality boxes. Placed on their sides, these make effective storage compartments. (Especially shoeboxes.)

• Consider using suitcases for out-of-season clothing. In addition to storage, they also provide protection.

• Never throw out an old wine rack. There are numerous ways these can be used for storage. (Example: for tools.)

 

By thinking creatively, you can probably come up with many other simple ideas for creating more storage. The reward is a home that looks neater and more spacious.

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No one wants to deal with a burglary. How do you reduce the chances of one happening?

 

Fortunately, burglaries are a well-studied phenomenon — especially by law enforcement.

 

These studies have identified specific things you can do to cut the risk dramatically. Here are some ideas: • 34% of home break-ins occur through the front door. Experts recommend investing in a door with a top-quality locking mechanism. (The best are those that lock at three points of contact.)

 

• 50% of burglars will be deterred if your home has some sort of video monitoring system. A thief doesn’t want his face on YouTube!

• Unfortunately, signs and window stickers warning of an alarm system do not deter thieves. However, 62% of burglars will immediately run away when an alarm goes off. Always turn on your alarm system when you’re not home!

• 22% of burglaries occur through a sliding glass door or patio door. Make sure it’s locked and also use a solid metal jammer.

• Some thieves use frequency scanners to gain access to garages. Police recommend changing your remote entry code regularly and putting blinds or curtains on garage windows so thieves can’t see (and be tempted by) any valuables inside.

 

As you can see, there are many simple things you can do to reduce your chances of a burglary dramatically. The effort is worth it.

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Do you ever wonder how most people find the homes they eventually buy? You might imagine them driving by a “For Sale” sign or seeing a home for sale in the newspaper and then calling to enquire.

 

Of course, many buyers find out about listed properties that way. But, according to research by the National Association of Realtors, there are many other — sometimes surprising — ways buyers find their next dream home.

 

For example:

 

  • 88% of buyers find a home with the help of a real estate agent.
  • 90% of buyers search online as part of the home buying process. (Such as viewing a property’s profile on the agent’s website.)
  • 69% of buyers searching for a home using Google, use a specific local term, such as “Whitby-south homes for sale”.
  • 29-46% of buyers attend an Open House as part of their home hunting activities.

 

Overall, the research shows that buyers are using a multitude of ways — combining online and offline methods — to find homes. 

 

What does all this mean to you? If means that if you’re preparing your home for sale, you need to ensure your marketing plan takes into account all the ways buyers are finding properties — so you can be sure that they will find yours.

 

Looking for a REALTOR® who knows how to market your home for maximum exposure? Call today.

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Determining if you should buy a new home or fix up your current one isn’t easy. In fact, the decision can be steeped in so much drama they make reality TV shows about it!

 

So if you’re considering whether to move or improve, here are three things to consider.

 

1. Will a renovation truly fix what you don’t like about your property? If you’re tired of a small kitchen, for example, it might not be possible, given the layout, to make it any bigger. On the other hand, if you’re craving a spacious rec room with a cosy fireplace then a renovation could make that happen. Of course, there are some things you may want that aren’t specific to your house, such as an easier commute or nearby park. Those are features you may only be able to get by moving.

 

2. How much will a renovation cost? How does that compare to the cost of moving to a new home? It’s important to get accurate estimates of each so you can make a smart decision. This is where a good REALTOR® can help. Keep in mind that renovations have a habit of costing more than you originally anticipate. As mentioned earlier, the final result should be a home you want to stay in for quite some time.

 

3. Beware of compromising versus settling. Whichever decision you make — renovate or sell — you can expect to have to make at least some compromises. That’s normal. For example, consider adding an extension to your house. That’s a major renovation. Is it the ideal way to get the extra room you want?

 

 

Do the benefits of renovating outweigh the benefits of finding a new larger home designed to include the space you need?

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There are few things more beautiful than cut flowers in a vase. They instantly brighten any room. That is, of course, until they wilt and die. So how do you make cut flowers last as long as possible? Here are some ideas:

 

  • Cut the bottom of the stems before you put the flowers in the vase. An angled cut is best as this will enable the flower to draw in more water.
  • Add a fertilizer to the water. Most flower shops include a pouch with the order. Follow the directions carefully. Don’t use too much.
  • Make sure the vase is high enough to support the flowers. Too much strain on the stems will cause the flowers to die sooner.
  • After a couple of days, re-snip the stems. This will add an additional day or two to the life of the flowers.
  • Flowers last longer if you put them in the fridge (in water) overnight. That’s why florists store cut flowers in cool rooms.

 

Finally, watch the water level and top off as required. Older cut flowers will die quickly when starved of water — even for just a couple of hours.

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You’ve probably seen signs around the area for Open Houses. You may have even attended a few. These are open invitations for potential buyers to drop by on a certain day and time, to check out the property and get more information.

 

When you’re listing your home for sale, you might wonder whether you’ll need to have an Open House. To answer that question, you’ll need to consider the pros and cons.

 

Planning and hosting an open house isn’t as easy as it may seem. There’s a lot of preparation involved. In addition, you’ll likely spend hours making your property look its best and you’ll need to be away from your home for a good part of that day. That being said, an Open House has many advantages.

 

• It helps showcase features of your property that may not come across well in advertisements and listing descriptions. • It attracts potential buyers who, for any number of reasons, might not otherwise call to view the home.

• It generates a buzz and publicity about your listing.

 

However, an Open House might not be necessary if there is high demand for properties like yours and you’re likely to get multiple offers.

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In almost every movie featuring a house on fire, the actors seem to be able to move around the house and see just fine, while beating back flames with a shirt or coat. Of course, that’s not what happens in real fires.

 

When there’s fire in a home, there is typically complete darkness (because the power goes out) and a cloud of spreading thick, black smoke makes it difficult to see and breathe. That’s why knowing how to get out of your house — fast — is crucial.

 

Experts recommend rehearsing what to do in case there’s a fire. Make sure everyone in the family has an exit plan. Each should know exactly how to get out, including primary and secondary exits, and where the family will meet once safely outside.

 

Never attempt to take anything with you. It may seem like you have plenty of time to grab a coat or purse, but the characteristics of a fire can change in seconds.

 

As a failsafe, in case you can’t exit through a door, you should determine in advance which window has the safest exit. Make sure that the window opens easily and everyone knows how to remove the screen or any other obstruction.

 

Finally, don’t call the fire department from inside your house. Get out first, then make the call.

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As you’re probably aware, the list price you set for your property has an impact on how quickly it sells — and how much you earn on the sale. What you may not realize is just how significant an impact it has. Consider the following examples.

 

Example 1: You price your property well above its current market value. As a result, many buyers don’t bother to see it because it’s outside of their price range. Those who do see it are confused by the high price tag, (and may even be suspicious.) They may wonder, “What’s going on?” In this scenario, the home will likely languish on the market for weeks or even months. You might even have to lower the price dramatically to reignite interest.

 

Example 2: You price your property just a couple of percentage points lower than what is necessary to gain the interest of qualified buyers. That might not seem like much of a problem. How much can a couple of percentage points matter? Those points matter a lot. On a $400,000 property, pricing your home just 2% lower than necessary could cost you $8,000 on the sale. That’s a serious amount of money!

 

So, as you can see, pricing your home right is serious business. Fortunately, a good REALTOR® knows how to set the right price. Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call today.

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More fires start in the kitchen than in any other room. Those fires can be expensive; since even a minor incident, with no injuries, can result in significant damage. That’s why it’s important to keep up with the latest in fire prevention.

 

The most recent research tells us: • Never leave cooking food unattended. Doing so is the number one cause of kitchen fires.

 

• Make sure cooking appliances, especially deep fryers, are safety certified by the appropriate government agency.

 

• When using oil in a frying pan, always heat slowly at no more than a medium heat setting.

 

• Always turn off stove burners and other cooking appliances immediately after cooking.

 

• Never attempt to put out a grease fire with water. Use baking soda or a fire extinguisher.

 

• Never remove or cover up a smoke detector due to nuisance alarms.

 

The one alarm that isn’t a nuisance may save your life. Finally, experts say that if you can’t put out a fire immediately, get everyone out of the home and call emergency services.

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