When you’re shopping for a new home, you want to find a property that has all the features and characteristics you want. A large deck surrounded by picturesque landscaping ... a beautiful kitchen with gleaming marble countertops... a cozy finished basement with fireplace....

You should look for the ideal home. You deserve it! But some home buyers make the mistake of becoming fixated on finding the "perfect" property, and passing too quickly on those homes that don't quite measure up.

Why is that a mistake? Because some of those less-than-perfect properties have the potential of becoming your next dream home.

First of all, a home that is lacking some desirable features, such as a finished basement, will probably cost less. Those savings may be more than enough to cover any needed upgrade or renovation.

Secondly, if you look at a home in terms of its potential, rather than the features it happens to have now, there will be more properties available on the market for you to consider.

If you're determined to have a large wrap-around deck for entertaining, for example, don't cross homes that don't have this feature off your list. At least not yet. Instead, view these properties with an eye on potential. Is the backyard big enough to accommodate a large deck? How would a deck like that look if added to this particular property? How much would such a renovation cost?

There's no doubt about it. You want to find a home that has all the features and characteristics you want. If you work with a good REALTOR®, there is a good chance you'll find a property that has most of them.

But keep an open mind. Sometimes a "diamond in the rough" can – with an upgrade or renovation – become a home you'll treasure for years.

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You might have hired a painter, plumber, or renovator several times during your history of home ownership. But how many times have you hired a decorator?

For many homeowners, hiring a decorator is a first time experience. That’s what makes knowing how to choose the right one so challenging.

Here's a tip: Clip photos from magazines of rooms that match the "look and style" you want. Pay particular attention to desired colours, decor, accents, furnishings, and themes.

Then, when meeting with a prospective decorator, see if there's anything in his or her portfolio that matches your clippings. If there is, then you’ll have a good indication that he or she can pull off the look you want.

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Why is it so important to know how much you can afford to spend on a home?

Two reasons.

First, you don't want to buy a property and then find out, only after you’ve moved in, that you can't financially maintain it. That would mean having to resell it under stressful conditions.

Second, you don't want to settle for a property that's less than ideal, when you really could have afforded the "dream home" you've always wanted.

So how do you figure out how much you can afford to pay for your next home?

The first step is to talk to a good REALTOR®. He or she will help you gain a clearer understanding of how much your current home will likely sell for in today's market. That amount, together with other financial resources you might have (such as savings), will determine your down payment.

The next thing you’ll need to figure out is your mortgage. Your REALTOR® can help you find a lender who will take a variety of factors into account – income, credit rating, debts, expected down payment, etc. – to calculate the maximum amount of mortgage for which you qualify.

Say, through the proceeds of the sale of your home combined with your savings, your expected down payment is $90,000. If the lender authorizes a mortgage of $270,000, then you can afford a $360,000 home.

Of course, that doesn't mean you'll need to spend that much. In fact, a home that meets your needs in terms of property type, features, and neighbourhood, may in fact cost you less.

One thing is for sure. A good REALTOR® can work with whatever amount you can afford and show you homes on the market that most closely meet your needs.

Call me today - I will help you figure out your home buying budget. 

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You will want to make the process of shopping for a home as productive and enjoyable as possible. After all, you'll be on a quest to find your next dream home. That's why it's important to take the right things with you: 

•          A digital camera, so you can take pictures of the features you like in the properties you see.

•          A notepad, so you can take notes.

•          Measurements of your largest pieces of furniture, so you can confirm they'll fit in the rooms of properties you like.

•          A measuring tape.

•          Some healthy snacks and beverages, (especially important if you're taking the kids along).

•          A map of the area, so you can check out local parks and other neighbourhood features.

•          Clear driving directions to each of the properties you want to see. 

One of the best ways to shop for a home, and actually enjoy the experience, is to work with a great REALTOR®. Contact me today to arrange your home viewing appointments.

 

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When it comes to home security, most homeowners think about door locks and alarms. These are, of course, very important. However, there is also a lot you can do around your property to prevent the possibility of a break-in. 

One important part of home security is outdoor lighting. Your home doesn't need to be lit up like a baseball diamond at night, but your exterior lighting should illuminate your yard enough to be a deterrent to burglars. 

Some burglars hide around the property and wait for someone to arrive and open the door so they can use that opportunity to force their way into your home. 

Security experts suggest that you walk around your property and look for areas where someone could hide, such as behind tall shrubbery like a cedar hedge or behind a tool shed. Make sure these areas are well lit. 

Pay particular attention to lighting around exterior doors, especially the back door. 

Home security experts also recommend that exterior lighting be installed with a timed dimmer. The lights can then be set to cast a bright light in the early evening, and then a dimmer light throughout the rest of the night.

Lights installed with motion detectors can also be effective in certain areas. The sensors will cause the light to turn on or brighten when someone comes onto that part of your property. Generally, thieves will flee as soon as they see a light turn on.

Do you hide a spare key under the front door mat or in a flower pot? No matter how clever you think you are, experienced thieves know all the common hiding places. So, if you need to have a spare key available, put it in a small combination lock box and hide the box. That way, if a burglar finds the box, he still won't be able to open it and access the key.

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If you're shopping for a new home, you're probably aware that there will be some costs over and above the purchase price. It makes sense to budget for these costs so you're not surprised – and unprepared – when you get the bill.

Most of these costs fall into a category that the real estate industry calls "closing costs." The most common types include land transfer tax, lawyer’s fees and disbursements, sales taxes, and for newly-built homes, utility hook-ups.

You should also consider other expenses you will incur, such as home insurance and moving expenses.

Of course, if your new home is a condominium, you’ll also have to account for the monthly condo fees.

Closing costs can vary depending on the type and location of your new home. A good REALTOR® can help you determine the costs you will incur.

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These days, most people want to do their bit to help the environment. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing, or able, to install solar panels on their roof or implement an in-ground heat recovery system. 

Luckily, there are many smaller things you can do that can make a big difference. Here are some ideas that can help you "go green" easily and inexpensively. 

Get a recycling bin and learn how to use it. Most jurisdictions have a recycling program. You may be able to get a rebate on your recycling bin or even get it for free. Keep a list of items that can be recycled on your fridge door, so that everyone in the family can participate.

Get a kitchen compost bin. Find out if your jurisdiction has a compost pick-up program. If they do, get a kitchen compost bin. Composting can reduce landfill waste by as much as 32%.

Use energy-saving light bulbs. Low energy light bulbs have come a long way in recent years. Their consistent glow and brightness now rival their incandescent counterparts. By replacing regular 40-watt bulbs with energy-saving 8-watt bulbs, you could save nearly 50% of the electricity you used for lighting. Results may vary by brand. 

Shop for local produce. Many grocery stores and supermarkets offer produce – fruits, vegetables, – that are grown within a 100 mile radius. The short transportation distance, means significantly less fossil fuel is required to get the produce delivered to your local store. Keep in mind that some non-local produce, such as apples in the off-season, often need to be transported thousands of miles.

Let nature do the work. As an alternative to air conditioning, open windows and block out the passive heat gain from the sun with curtains. Do the opposite in winter. Strategically using curtains and windows can lower your energy bill by as much as 20%.

As you can see, you don't have to do much to have a "greener" home. Just a few little changes can make a big difference.

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