Spring is coming and in Nova Scotia that is when our Real Estate market tends to heat up. Deciding if it is time for your family to upsize or downsize is not always a clear choice. There are factors to consider that might push you to take the leap or stay put for a while longer. Whether you are thinking about upsizing so your family can spread out or purging possessions so you can downsize, here are some questions to ponder.
1. How are you using your current space?
Do your family members feel like they don’t have adequate privacy or space to do their own thing? Are you tired of working at the dining table and really need an office or workshop? Is having the kids share bedrooms just not working out? Maybe an upsize is warranted. On the other hand, do you have rooms that aren’t being used, or are you tired of paying property taxes on more house than you need? Check for the downsize column!
2. Have you considered the maintenance costs?
If upsizing is on your mind, consider the added costs for maintaining a larger home and property, whether in money or time. Will you be able to keep up with cleaning, lawn care, and general maintenance issues that come with owning a home? If you are ready to cross maintenance off your to-do list, perhaps you are ready to downsize to a more manageable property or one where the property management handles part of the job.
3. What are your outdoor space needs?
Are you ready to give up having a yard or garden to downsize to a maintenance-free space? Do you have pets that need outdoor space? Do you need more outdoor space for your children to play or your dog to run around in? The size of the house is one thing, but the property is important also.
4. Have you looked to the future?
What do you expect your needs to be in the next five, ten, or twenty years? Do you want a large home where your children and grandchildren will come for vacations and holidays, or will you be spending those times at their homes? Will you want to entertain groups of friends, or do you foresee going out for your entertainment? What will happen if your spouse passes; will you want to stay in the home on your own?
5. Do the financial implications add up in your favour?
Can you handle the higher costs involved with a larger home, or are you ready to cut costs with a downsize? Consider where you stand on your current mortgage. Are you alright with starting a new mortgage at this point in your life, or are you in a position to purchase in cash? What are the tax implications for your move?
6. Is it the right market to upsize or downsize?
A seller’s market is hot for those looking to sell a larger home and downsize. Upsizing may be riskier in a big seller’s market, but if your family would be happier in a larger home, it might be worth the leap.
Whatever questions you have about purchasing your next home, I’d be honored to assist you. So let’s work together to make sure your next move is the right one.
If you are thinking about listing your home this fall, you might be concerned about showing it, and possibly having to move, over the holiday season. The holidays are already a busy time of year for most families, so you would be right to wonder if you are making a good decision by marketing your home between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Some sellers even take their homes off the market temporarily during the holiday season, but, before you make that choice, consider all the pros and cons to selling during this festive time of year.
1. Buyers are serious. Buyers looking for a home during the holiday season are usually serious about getting under contract, or else they’d put it off. Often, they are starting a new job at the beginning of the year, or they want to get their children registered in school by the end of the holiday break, or maybe they want the tax break in the current year. Regardless of their reasons, if they are out looking in November or December, they are serious buyers.
2. There are not as many homes on the market. As a seller, you benefit from having fewer homes on the market to compete with. Less inventory combined with serious buyers means sellers get higher offers.
3. You can take advantage of holiday season curb appeal. While it’s recommended that you not over-decorate while showing your home, you can take advantage of the warm and festive vibes that holiday decorations add. Some white twinkle lights, a wreath on the door, and poinsettias lining your porch can add just the right cozy and inviting feel to win over buyers.
4. Cooler weather may invigorate buyers. The only thing worse than house hunting in the dead of summer is moving and unpacking in the dead of summer. On the other hand, the cooler temperatures of the holiday season may fuel buyers' desire to get out on the hunt.
5. You can use a holiday theme to ramp up an open house. Instead of offering the same old plate of cookies and bottled water, let your prospective buyers feel the warmth of your home with a cup of hot chocolate and warm gingerbread in front of the fireplace, or let them wander through your rooms listening to holiday music and enjoying the scent of pine or cinnamon candles.
1. You won’t have as many lookers. We noted that buyers shopping during the holidays are serious ones, but there will definitely be fewer buyers looking than later in the New Year.
2. Showing your home may be more inconvenient. Again, it’s a busy time of year for most families, so do consider the inconvenience of having showings while you are preparing for the holidays or enjoying time off from school or work.
3. Business closings may slow down transactions. Many businesses have shortened hours or holiday closings, which means you or your buyers might have delays with such things as scheduling inspections and appraisals, clearing title or getting repairs completed.
The final walk-through on your new home is an exciting event. It means you have successfully maneuvered through negotiations, inspections, and financing approval, and are on the verge of signing your closing papers. Most buyers attend the final walk-through with thoughts of furniture placement and paint colors in their heads. But the walk-through is about more than just making sure your favorite chair will fit by the fireplace. Be sure to do your due diligence to make sure there are no issues that should be resolved before you reach the closing table.
The purpose of the final walk-through is to ascertain that the home is being conveyed to you in the same condition it was when you agreed to purchase it. Here are a few of the things you should check:
1) Make sure no damage has occurred to the home that the sellers are responsible for repairing. Weather conditions or careless movers can cause accidental damage, and old and forgotten damage may be uncovered when the sellers’ belongings are removed.
2) Check that appliances are still in working order and no new plumbing or electrical issues have popped up. While you aren’t doing a complete home inspection, you can visually check for obvious problems that should be repaired before you move in.
3) Confirm that items contractually conveying are present. If the sellers agreed to leave particular furniture, décor, or equipment, see that it has not been removed.
4) Make certain the sellers have removed all their belongings. You don’t want to arrive with the moving truck only to find out that the sellers left behind an assortment of unwanted furniture or trash. The sellers should be held responsible for removing everything that doesn’t convey with the sale.
Real estate has long been considered a solid investment for many reasons. It is a relatively safe and easy way for people to build wealth beginning with a small amount of money. If you are interested in investing in real estate, I’d be happy to help you find the right properties.
Here are some of the ways investing in property can help you build an investment portfolio.
1. Real estate investments can provide you with a reliable and steady cash flow. Investing in rental properties is relatively easy as expenses are predictable and if your properties remain occupied you know what to expect in terms of profit margin.
2. Real estate appreciates in value. Real estate consistently appreciates, even during economic downturns, making it one of the more reliable investments. On average, real estate in the US appreciates between 3-5% annually.
3. Real estate investments help you retire. If you have been paying on your mortgage throughout your working years, you will experience greater cash flow as you near the end of your mortgage term and the principal is paid off.
4. Real estate sales are taxed at a lower rate than other income. When you sell your property, you are taxed short- or long-term capital gains which are usually lower than income tax brackets.
5. Real estate equity can be leveraged. One of the most attractive reasons for investing in real estate is the ability to leverage your money. When you take out a mortgage to purchase property you reduce the amount of capital required. As you build up equity in the property, you borrow against the equity or refinance the original loan, freeing up cash to buy another property.
6. You have control to improve upon your asset. Unlike an investment in stock, where you have no control over how it performs, you can improve upon your real estate investment. Updating or upgrading systems, finishes, appliances, and landscaping helps build value in your investment.
7. Real estate investments are depreciable. This is confusing, but you can legally claim a depreciation expense on an investment property even though the value of your investment property is actually appreciating. The depreciation deduction allows investors to generate a higher cash flow while reporting a lower income for tax purposes.
Renovating Your Home? Check out these FAQ’s!
1. How do I pick a contractor?
Ideally, you want to build the same kind of relationship with your contractor as you do with your real estate agent: one built on trust that makes you want to go back to that person for any future needs. Your contractor should be a very good listener and communicator. You want them to “get” your vision for your home, and to keep you in the loop every step of the way. Do your due diligence by checking out contractors’ reputations, talking with other clients, and looking at work they have done previously before you make your selection.
How much will my project cost?
Of course, the answer depends upon the scope of your project, but in order to get the best estimate from your contractor, take time to write down each detail of your plan so that the contractor can include everything in their estimate. Renovations are famous for taking longer and costing more than originally planned, but this is often because the homeowner makes additions or changes along the way, or they don’t realize that, for example, if you move a wall in your home, you may have to then reroute electricity and outlets. One item often leads to another, so you have to look at everything piece by piece.
How long will renovations take to complete?
As we said above, this depends on the amount of work being done– and how many changes are made along the way. The more pre-planning you do, the better estimate your contractor can give you.
How do I prioritize projects?
If you are living in your home during renovations, you may want to plan out the project in phases, so you can live out of some rooms while others are being worked in. You may also need to phase projects based on cost and availability of funds.
Where do I begin?
You begin by conducting a lot of research. Start a look book for your home, either in a notebook or online, collecting pictures of the look and finishes you want. Talk to different contractors, and visit kitchen, bathroom, appliance, and flooring showrooms to get ideas on selections and pricing.
Do I need permits?
Your contractor will know what projects require permitting. Make sure that you do abide by permitting regulations, as failure to secure proper permits can come back to bite you if further work is needed down the road.
How much will renovations increase my home value?
Every homeowner hopes that making improvements will increase their home’s value, and this is usually the case, but sometimes what homeowners view as improvement can turn out to be liabilities to future buyers. For example, don’t put so much money into the house that it becomes more expensive than the rest of the neighborhood. And be careful not to add personal style preferences that can’t be easily changed, like ornamental fixtures, radical architecture, or unusual landscape features.
How should I pay for renovations?
If you have the cash to pay for your renovations, that’s certainly a good way to go. Otherwise, you might consider a home equity loan with a manageable monthly payment or a revolving line of credit that you can use for renovations as well as emergencies that may arise later.
Your home mortgage is an important investment in your future, and a mortgage refinance can be a smart move to help you manage your investments when used under the right circumstances. Here are some things to consider about refinancing your mortgage. Simply put, when you refinance your mortgage, you are taking out a new loan to pay off your original mortgage, so the first question to ask yourself may be is there a better product available to you than what you started with?
Refinancing allows you to borrow against the equity you have built up in your home and take out cash you can use to pay off other debt, make home improvements, or invest in your retirement. For example, let’s say you have $70,000 of equity in your home, but still owe $175,000 on your mortgage. You may take out a new mortgage for $200,000 that is used to pay off the first mortgage, and then pays you $25,000 in cash. If you have made regular payments on your initial mortgage for at least five years, you probably have enough equity built up to take a cash-out mortgage.
You also may want to refinance to reduce your monthly payment to give you more flexibility in your monthly budget. When you refinance, you are basically starting over on your 30-year commitment, but, if you are not taking cash out, your new mortgage amount will be lower, so your payments decrease. If you originally took out a 15-year mortgage, changing to a 30-year term will lower your monthly payment considerably. You may also choose the opposite and switch from a 30-year loan to a 15-year term. Your monthly payments will likely increase, but you will pay your loan off earlier and pay less interest.
Another reason people refinance is to change from an adjustable-rate mortgage (or Variable) to a fixed-rate. This eliminates fluctuations in your monthly mortgage payment and may help you take advantage of favorable rates. Before you decide to refinance, do some homework. You should perform an audit of your monthly budget, assess your short and long-term financial goals, check your credit score, watch interest rate fluctuations, and consider the costs involved in refinancing ads there will be closing costs on your new loan.
No matter what you choose to do, when it comes to refinancing it is usually personal. Things in our lives are ever changing and who doesn't like to lessen the load sometimes or even take that once in a lifetime trip. However, our homes are typically our biggest investment. One huge thing to remember is there is a chance the banks will over value your property and give you more cash equity than you could sell you home for. This doesn't happen often but it is always a good idea to consult your real estate professional to discuss the current market value of your home. In the event you need to sell, no one wants to be at a loss.
This awesome program has been around for a few years, but still seems to be a secret, or simply has been forgotten about. One reason may be because during Covid and the severe price increases in Nova Scotia made it all but impossible to use the program. The program allowed new Home Buyers with a household income of $74,000 or less, to apply for down payment funds for a home purchase of no more than $300,000. If you lived here through the mayhem, you know that finding a home for under $300,000 quickly became an unlikely task. Fortunately since then, the program has been updated to more appropriate amounts given the current market conditions.
The loans provided are interest-free over a 10-year period, and must be used for a down payment. This means they cannot be used for financing or closing related costs, just the down payment. There's also a max of $25,000 granted or basically exactly 5% of $500,000. Why 500K? Well, that's part of the good news! With the increased value in our market, the government made some welcomed adjustments to the applicant criteria.
Here's a look at some of the updated requirements for applying:
So, as you can see, this opens the doors to way more people. Not just the home purchase value increase but the household income changes will make it so that many more are eligible. I for one will be pushing this program out as much as possible.
For the complete details on the program as well as the application forms click the link below;
So what do you know? Do you know the type? The size? The location of it in your home? How about the age? When it comes to hot water tanks home owners more often then not move in and if their water is hot they forget about them completely. This post hits close to home as a few days after returning from a two week vacation we noticed a small puddle around the base of the tank, For us it was luck that it didn't decide to go in our absence and that it is easily accessible and in plain view in our mud room. So $475 and a few hours later I had installed the new tank. Although lucky that the mess wasn't far worse, it was still disappointing as the tank had just past its 6 year warranty by only a couple months.
Now for me, I have a conventional electric hot water tank so it was a simple pick up and swap and I was only out the cost of the tank. However, if you can't do this on your own or have an oil fired hot water tank it is always better left to the professionals to do this work.
So here is what I think you need to know;
-Your tank has a lifespan- Most manufacturers state that tanks will last 7-12 years depending on the make. Likely why most only have warranties or 6 or 9 years.
-Your insurance doesn't care how well it works- if your tank is 10 years or older, most insurance policies don't over that tank anymore. This is am important item to note as you may need to budget for the change OR like about 50% of the homes I sell, the tanks are expired. At that point you're on the hook anyways as buyers can't get hot water tank coverage unless the tank is younger than 10. Whether you're going to list your home or buy a new one I highly recommend contacting your insurance company to review your hot water tank coverage.
-You should know where your tank is- I visit hundreds of homes every year and surprising enough, most of them have tanks that are not visible. Sometimes it is simply because they are in a storage room or on the extreme end I have seen many that actually have walls built around them. Either way you should know where your tank is and how to easily access it when the time comes to replace or in the event of an emergency leak.
-You should routinely check your tank- Like any mass produced product, some work better than others and some last longer than others. Mine lasted 6 years and I have seen ones in homes still working at 23 years! Other variables can effect the longevity as well, think water composition and how high iron effects metal. Simply keep an eye on it, if you see water around shut off the supply line and call a professional.
-What type of system do you have- Conventional Electric or Oil Fired? Solar? Find out what you have and no matter what system it is reading the manual on it is a great idea. You will be surprised at what valuable information you will find. Everything from how to install, increase or lower the water temp, increase efficiency, to what to do if the tank won't be used for an extended period of time.
If you have anything further to add to the discussion please feel free to comment!
Finding those key points of your home to do quick, easy and relatively cheap upgrades to increase value can be tough. Chances are if you sit at home on weekends watching home reno shows, it usually leads to holes in the walls or the obvious home handyman finishes I see everyday. What really makes a difference is where you spend the money and how you spend it. A home handyman reno usually costs you money and at the same time reduces the value of you home, simply because now someone needs to pay to have the work fixed by a professional. I am not saying all home handymen do a messy job, but I can confidently say that in about 80% of the homes I show with "renos", its pretty obvious where the professionals were left out of the equation. When you get into trying to increase the value of your home less can be more if you spend the money in the right areas. The article below highlights some great areas of attention that can add value to your home without breaking the bank. Remember your home is an investment and like every investment you will gain a little bit of equity over time but the more money you put into it the more money you will get out of it, and leave the hard stuff to the professionals!
5 Upgrades under $5000 to put your home at the top of every Buyers list!
It’s a sobering truth of real estate that sellers often have to spend money to make money. Even if your home is relatively new, you still face costs associated with getting it ready to show, such as repainting interior rooms or hiring professional cleaners and stagers. If your home could use some TLC and updating, spending as little as $5,000 on key upgrades could improve its appeal for buyers – and ensure a speedier sale at a better price.
Here are five upgrades you can make for under than $5,000 to help put your home at the top of every buyer’s must-see list this spring.
1. Upgrade your entryway – Replacing an old, dated or worn entry door can be a cost-effective way to ensure buyers get a good first impression when they walk in your house. Whether you choose a fiberglass, wooden or steel model, installing a new entry door can cost a few thousand dollars, yet the return on investment at the time of resale can be significant. A fiberglass entry door returns about 72 percent of its investment, while a steel door recoups more than 100 percent of its value, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report.
Enhance your new door with attractive plantings, fresh paint and clean windows around the entryway to create a memorable, attractive entry for just a few thousand dollars.
2. Increase natural light – More buyers are becoming aware of the mood- and productivity-enhancing benefits of natural light, and homes with big, bright windows have always been in demand. Adding windows to a room can be a costly, time-consuming affair. Not so with adding a skylight. For well under $5,000 and in just a day or two, a professional can install an Energy Star qualified, solar powered no-leak fresh-air skylight, like those from Velux America. Professional installation costs nationally ranges from around $900 to $2,325, with an average of $1,400, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
The low installation cost will leave you plenty of budget to enhance the skylight upgrade even further with energy efficiency-boosting solar-powered blinds. The skylight and blinds are operated by remote control and the blinds are available in designer colors and patterns to enhance your décor. The products, as well as installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit to further reduce the cost of the improvement.
The most popular rooms in the home for fresh air skylights are baths, where they provide privacy in addition to natural light, and kitchens, where they vent cooking odors and humidity naturally while brightening this much-used workspace. Visit www.veluxusa.com to learn more.
3. Beautify a master bathroom – Bathrooms and kitchens sell homes. Making a few cosmetic upgrades to even a small master bath can help increase a home’s appeal and value. For less than $5,000 you can easily repaint, upgrade faucets, replace old cabinet hardware and add decorative touches like designer towels.
If you’ve already done all that, take a look at the floor or countertops – two cost-effective upgrades that can wow buyers. Since counters don’t make up that much square footage in most bathrooms, replacing them with granite can cost just a couple thousand dollars. Tile flooring is also a relatively inexpensive way to improve a bathroom’s look and usability.
4. Heat things up in the kitchen – Kitchen remodels can offer high ROI for sellers, but a full remodel may be outside your budget. If you’ve already done the obvious – like repainting and decluttering – it’s time to look for a few more cost-effective improvements that will appeal to buyers.
Just as in the bathroom, swapping old faucets and cabinet hardware with new designer options can enhance the appeal of a kitchen. Shabby, outdated appliances can hinder a speedy sale, so consider replacing them with new ones. You don’t necessarily need to install top-of-the-line, high-priced appliances to make a good impression, either. Newer, Energy Star qualified appliances represent savings for buyers down the road.
5. Lavish landscaping
No single aspect of your home has a greater impact on a buyer’s first impression than the landscaping. A great front yard sets the tone for the rest of the home, appealing to buyers on a number of levels, including beauty, practicality and savings.
With $5,000, you can accomplish a lot in terms of landscaping. You can sod a small front yard, add decorative planting beds to a lush lawn, or even install shade trees that will both beautify the yard and enhance the home’s energy efficiency in summer. Decorative concrete stamping of walkways and driveways is another cost-effective way to improve a home’s curb appeal.
Whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, no one wants to see their home linger long before selling. A few simple upgrades can help ensure your home gets plenty of attention this spring selling season.
**Article compliments of Starnews.ca**
Year in and year out we have prediction about home prices, interest rates, and the state of the market. Do we ever really know what the year is going to be like? I can honestly say its a tough one for anyone to really answer that question. The Canadian housing market is always addressed as though we are some form of collective group that is impacted the same by any changing condition in the market. We are told that homes in Canada are over priced and that prices continue to rise and so on. What they really mean is based on stats that cover our extremely different and unique demographics (Which basically describe conditions out west) that the market is what it is. Now, if you live in Nova Scotia and you want to know what the market is like how do you find out? Its certainly not by watching the news or reading the newspapers because uncertainty is all you will find.
All I can say is that personally the winter has yielded some great opportunities my clients have taken advantage of and from what I have seen homes are still selling. But also take a look at the graphic below, it clearly shows the last two years (worst in the last decade for NS) and what January this year has yielded. What this says to me is that so far things aren't much better off then what they were. Its also never a bad time to talk about listing your home or starting your house hunting because from what I've seen is that NS real estate is like NS weather no one really knows whats going to happen but if your prepared you can take advantage of whatever comes our way.
Special thanks to the Chronicle Herald for the below article and hats off the to writer for being honest about what they found to be our market forecast.
"Nothing is set in stone of course; the real estate market is influenced by many factors such as economic conditions, social demographics and governmental policies, which contribute to its success or failure over the course of the year. But at this point in time, here are some of the things we can anticipate in the months ahead.
House prices will go up — but don’t expect miraclesThe U.S. housing market crash in 2008 sent financial shock waves around the planet. In Canada — thanks to our more conservative banking practices — we fared well in comparison to our southern neighbours, but our property market has continued to feel the effects over the last seven years. Overall, ours has slowed to a new and more cautious normal. In most markets across Canada this year homeowners expecting to make grand leaps in property value overnight will be disappointed; the more sensible and realistic outlook is that your home will continue to be a solid, but longer-term investment in your financial future.
If you’re planning to buy a home this year, slower price growth makes saving up for a down payment a little easier and affordable budgeting much easier once you have signed on the dotted line.
Affordability will continue to be an issue in a few of the biggest markets this year however. Household incomes are not growing as quickly as the prices of housing in Vancouver and Toronto, which will make getting onto the property ladder — no less trying to climb higher — even harder. The silver lining will be for landlords in these markets because as demand shifts from buying to renting property, attracting good, high-quality tenants will become much easier and rental rates will be on the rise.
Interest rates will go upWhile the Bank of Canada’s recent interest rate drop was a welcome surprise, it isn’t a trend which will last forever. To be fair, economists have been predicting a rise in the lending rate for months because nobody imagined they could stay at record lows for so long — and yet they have and continue to. In the short term, the drop in oil prices globally will likely add new and unexpected pressures on the economy and may even result in a further rate reduction in the early spring. However, the negative side of the low interest rates means business profits shrink, which leads to slower employment and income growth in the overall economy. By the end of the year, and into 2016, expect to see an end to the incredibly low mortgage interest rates as they start to edge up.
Location, location, locationThe oil price flux will create problems and potential, depending on where you live in the country. It’s not good news for provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, but in other provinces like B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia the low oil prices may ease some of the consumer pressures. And the savings at the pumps may translate into more disposable income being used toward things like home improvement projects and efficiency upgrades.
If there is one certainty in 2015, it is a lack of certainty. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but you should view it as an incentive to plan for the future. If you have more disposable income, making home upgrades could improve the efficiency of your home and its future marketability, even if you don’t sell this year. If rents are going up, that might allow you to get further ahead on your mortgage payments while interest rates are still low, or lower at least.
Whatever changes 2015 brings to your individual neck of the woods, staying current with the real estate market conditions and influencers will give you the ability to capitalize on the investment opportunities that present themselves while protecting your assets if things take a turn for the worse."
Jason Shadbolt, BMgt
As a Realtor, Builder and previous Mortgage Specialist, if you have questions, all you have to do is ask!