Sharon is a Canadian Realtor, working as a sales representative with Re/Max Realty Specialists in the Toronto area. Sharon is familiar to many as a radio and TV broadcaster known across Canada for her years as a weather broadcaster on CTV and as host and senior producer of Real Life with Sharon Caddy on CTS-TV. How does she keep balance? Sharon is also a yoga instructor .... and proud mom of two amazing daughters.
When it’s time to move, what it the best plan of action? Sell you house first or buy the new house first? This question almost always comes up once the decision is made to move.
There really isn’t a one size fits all answer to this question and it’s a question that can be very stress-inducing, especially if you’ve never sold a house before. There are reasons for each possible answer and the most important thing is to discuss the options and be sure that all of the decision makers involved in the selling and buying of homes are on board.
Let’s look at both options.
Buying your new house first
During the 2020 and 2021 pandemic fueled real estate frenzy which saw exceptionally low inventory, very low interest rates and a lot of buyers looking for property, buying a home became something of a high competition sport. Buyers who spied their dream home often ended up throwing an offer into an arena with many, sometimes dozens of others and losing out on multiple occasions which for many resulted in it taking a long period of time to buy a home. Because of these circumstances, most were choosing to buy a home before selling their home, knowing that in the highly-charged Seller’s market they would likely have no trouble selling their home quickly after buying.
In other times, when we find ourselves in a Balanced Market or a Buyer’s Market, many still make the choice to buy a home before selling their home. Buying first allows you the comfort of taking time to find exactly what you’re looking for. If you do choose to buy first however, it’s important to speak first to your mortgage lender and know your circumstances, as you’ll want to be comfortable and prepared should your home take a little longer than anticipated to sell and you find yourself needing to carry both homes for a period of time. The other option is to purchase the new property including a condition that your purchase is conditional upon your current home being sold.
Selling your home first
For many, in a Balanced or Buyer’s Market this is the more comfortable option. By selling your home first you and your mortgage lender know exactly how much money you have to work with toward the purchase of your next home. When you’re in the selling process and receiving offers, make sure that you are accepting a closing date that allows for a comfortable amount of time to find another home. Accepting a short closing may bring with it another batch of stresses like storing your belongings and perhaps requiring a short term rental or another solution for short term lodging. Have your agent speak with the Buyer’s agent and discuss closing dates. Sometimes, when Buyers are flexible, there can be room in the contract to shorten or lengthen the closing date within a prescribed time period, but discuss it at the start and make sure that everything is covered in writing in the contract.
Whether buying first or selling first, always know that as your Realtor®️, I will be there to work with you to achieve your goals.
Since the onset of Covid-19 the real estate market has been hotter than ever. Prices have risen to record highs, but even with such high prices the demand for those homes hasn’t waned. Buying a home has become an extremely competitive situation, leaving many buyers disappointed time after time. If you’ve been out there trying to buy a home you know that the current practice is for a seller to list a home, have showings for a few days, then hold an offer date when everyone submits their offers.
What can you do to improve your chance of getting the home that you want?
Are you willing to look past the sparkle and do a little fixing up?
If you’ve been out looking at homes you know that some homes just show better that others. While some genuinely have more and better upgrades, many of the homes that really sparkle have great staging – the WOW factor. For sellers, it’s true, staged homes almost always command a bigger price. Sometimes the perfect home for you isn’t the staged home that looks like a page from a decorating magazine. Sometimes the perfect home is one that just needs a fresh coat of paint, better lighting or some minor updates. Your agent should help you look past the staging to see the quality of the home and whether it fits your wants and needs. Sometimes all it takes is a little imagination. Look past the decor of the home and really SEE the home. The home that doesn’t show as well will probably still sell in multiple offers but there may be less competition resulting in a slightly better price.
Go over the research with your agent
Before you make an offer your agent should present you with comparable sales from recent weeks. Looking at recent sales will give you a good indication of the price that the seller will be expecting. If a home that is highly comparable and in the same neighbourhood sold last week for a certain price, you know that the seller expects to get something similiar.
Preparing your offer – What will give us the best chance of winning?
How much competition is there? Once you register an offer your agent will be informed about how many offers there are on a property. Your agent will NOT know the content of any of those offers, but the more offers there are, the more competitive it will be.
Deposit – I recently had a client ask me why they couldn’t include a $1,000 deposit in their offer. The deposit is really a way of demonstrating your level of confidence as a buyer. Your deposit should be a reasonable amount relative to the price of the home you’re buying. Sometimes the expected deposit amount will be indicated in the listing. Also, the more offers there are on a property, the more the deposit amount may factor in the seller’s decision to accept your offer.
Closing Date – Your proposed closing date can be a big factor in making your offer stand out. If your closing date closely matches the seller’s preferred closing, your offer will be more appealing. After all, if the seller is moving in to a new home 30 days from now but you’re proposing a closing date of 90 days, the deal may not work out.
Conditions – This is a big consideration and one that makes many buyers nervous. In a buyer’s market or in a balanced market it is generally accepted practice to include conditions allowing 5 business days to arrange for financing and inspection of the home after which the home is considered sold. During the conditional period the buyer will get a firm commitment from their mortgage provider and can bring in a home inspector to take a close look at the home for any potential problems. When you are in competing offers, these conditions are usually the first thing to go. The firm deal usually wins. You are best advised to have good communication with your bank or mortgage professional and be confident in your ability to secure a mortgage. Know your numbers and work within that amount. With regard to the home inspection, have your agent ask the listing agent if there has been a pre-listing home inspection done and ask to see the report. Also, have your agent ask questions, including the age of key features like the furnace, central air, roof, windows, and any other questions regarding the history of the home.
Price – This goes directly back to knowing what homes in the area have been selling for. If other homes in the area have been selling for $900,000, you know that this home likely will too. You need to trust that your agent knows the market, knows the seller’s pricing strategy and knows what the seller will reasonably expect to get for their home.
When in Multiple Offers, Don’t Lowball!
Whenever I have a listing and multiple offers come in, it never fails, there’s always at least one lowball offer. Picture this; homes in the neighbourhood similar to the seller’s home have been selling for around $800,000. Several offers come in, most within a reasonable range around $800,000 and one offer comes in a $695,000. This is never a really effective tactic. If there are ten offers and nine of them are within range of the expected price, you know that the lowball offer will not be taken seriously. Step one is to be intentional and shop for homes within a range that fits the amount you’ve arrived at with your mortgage professional. Then, if you really want to buy the property, work with your agent to prepare an offer that can be competive.
Can a personal letter to the seller help?
The answer to this is yes, and no. If there are a few offers that are virtually identical, perhaps your personal letter can make your offer stand out. If you let the seller know why you love the home and tell them a little about yourself, it may make the difference. In the end, price is usually the biggest deciding factor, but when you’re competing I think that it never hurts to include the letter to the sellers.
Finally – What about pre-emptive offers?
If the seller of a home has a set offer date, but, indicates that they would entertain pre-emptive offers, you may want to jump into the mix right away. This doesn’t rule out multiple offers. In fact, often pre-emptive offers still bring multiple offers. When your pre-emptive offer is registered the listing agent has to notify all agents who have shown the home that there is a pre-emptive offer and when it will be presented. When that happens, others may come forward to present their offers too. Occasionally, if only a few agents have shown the home you may be the only offer, but once the notification goes out, others may come forward. Your best chance to score that home in a pre-emptive offer is to see the home as quickly as possible upon being listed and offer as quickly as possible after that. As for what to do about price, work with your agent to offer a price that could win on the actual offer date. The seller isn’t going to accept a lower price just because it came in early. Basically, when it comes to pre-emptive offers, make it an offer they can’t refuse!
The most important thing to keep in mind throughout the process of shopping for a home is to make sure you have a real estate agent you can trust. Communication is the key. If you have any questions about buying a home, or listing your home to sell, contact me!
Covid-19 has seen people go through a variety of lifestyle changes. From having to work from home to baking sourdough bread and hoarding toilet paper, our day-to-day routines are a little different than they were when 2020 began. Naturally, without full access to a variety of businesses we have all managed to adapt.
One of the hardest hit businesses has been the local neighbourhood gym. Even with gyms gradually reopening as the phased reopening of the country moves forward, many are still a little uncomfortable with venturing back to the gym too soon.
However, ready or not, I know that I found myself needing to come up with an exercise alternative to counter all of the sitting I’ve been doing in endless Zoom meetings — and all of those high-calorie baked goods we’ve been consuming.
Yes, 2020 has become the year of the Home Based Workout.
In the past, what really kept people going to the gym rather than working out at home has been the encouragement and accountability we feel when we go to a class at the gym, or check in with the trainer at the front desk, or see familiar faces as we go through our routines. Fortunately, with phones and tablets and computers we’re now able to electronically bring our workout friends along for the ride and bring that accountability home. If you haven’t started working out at home and aren’t sure where to begin, here are my top tips for creating a home gym environment:
Step One: Choose a Workout space in your home
This can be a tough one depending on what kind of space you have. Sometimes you may have to do a little adjusting of your furniture, but try to find a spot where you have enough room to move and that won’t require a lot of time to set up each day. Let’s face it, if the set up takes as long as the workout you’re more likely to avoid it.
Step Two: Purchase some basic exercise equipment
There are a variety of elastic bands that offer great resistance training benefits, lots of workout options, plus they don’t take up a lot of space. If you’re not sure about using bands (or any exercise equipment product), go to YouTube and take a look at how they’re used. You’ll be surprised how much you can do with such a simple piece of equipment.
This is one of the basic pieces of exercise equipment that everyone should own. There are so many exercises you can do with a stability ball! Not only that, they’re inexpensive AND you can even sit on it while participating in your Zoom meetings!
Whether it’s a yoga mat or a padded exercise mat I always recommend having one to use during your workout. Let’s face it, no matter where you’re setting up your workout space the floor is rarely ideal. You’ll either be on a cold wood or tile floor or on a carpet. The mat gives you a nice padded surface to workout on and it’s easy to wipe-down and clean after your session.
Other pieces of equipment:
Beyond the basic there are any number of items you can add to your little home gym. If you see something at a local store that looks interesting, take a moment and google it for suggestions of how you can use the piece. Even inexpensive equipment is a waste of money if you’re never going to use it. Check out things like Kettle-bells and push-up bars, ab-rollers and the like. A BOSU ball is a great addition to your home workout kit. This half-ball with a flat bottom base has a ton of applications in a workout, many encouraging balance and offering an enhanced core workout. One of my favourite pieces of home gym equipment is my set of Liebert Equalizers. These bars offer so many great exercise options! At a cost of about $100 a set they are a great investment if you’re going to be working out at home with any regularity.
**Of course you can invest a LOT more money by buying a treadmill, an eliptical, maybe an exercise bike — Don’t rush into that. Get the basics first! Cardio equipment is great but you can get started by simply taking walks, going jogging, riding a bike or going up and down the stairs.
Step Three: Check out your tech set-up
Almost everyone already owns a device which can give you access to most of the tech offerings which can help you with your workout.
All Smart Phones offer you a portable, easy-to-use portal to a variety of workout options. From YouTube to streaming live classes to connecting with a personal trainer, your smart phone can do it all. All you need to check is that you have adequate data. If you’re working out at home it’s often a better idea to check that you’re connected to your home wi-fi network, usually a much cheaper option than using your cell data.
Make sure your smart phone audio is good. If you have difficulty hearing it, especially once you set it down at a short distance, perhaps you might consider linking by Bluetooth to a speaker, or using wireless earbuds.
A tablet gives you the same functionality of your Smart Phone with a much larger screen. This can be a great option if you want a better view of your workout partner, program or trainer.
This one’s simple. Set up your laptop and you’re good to go. The audio issue is the same as it is with the other devices.
Tripod or Stand:
To ensure you can see your trainer or the video you are following you want to make sure that you can use your smartphone or device hands-free.
Tripods are available at a variety of retailers from your local dollar store (for very simple, smaller versions) to your local electronics store where the tripod may be larger and include a variety of options including extendible legs and built-in lighting. Really, if you’re only using the tripod for your workouts a simple low-priced version will be just fine.
Step Four: Find classes or trainers or routines you enjoy and commit!
There are a ton of workout options available to you. One of the cheapest and easiest options is to simply use YouTube, or Google. There are all sorts of free workouts available!
If you want to specialize, you can do that too. Maybe you really miss your favourite yoga studio. Go to their website and have a look. Over the months of shutdown many yoga studios instituted online classes and are continuing them even as the studios reopen.
Finally, if you really want to make a commitment and get one-on-one support and instruction, find a personal trainer. Once only available to people visiting a gym or willing to travel to a designated facility, many trainers now make themselves available via services like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime, etc. There’s no better way to really learn a good, personally designed workout than to engage a professional.
However you do it, hang in there and keep on working toward your fitness goals!
Canadians love our pets! According to research by The Canadian Animal Health Institute, approximately 41% of Canadian households include at least one dog, and similarly around 37% include at least one cat.
Those of us who have pets know the many benefits of having furry extended family members. Healthy pets mean healthy Canadians. Pet ownership has proven benefits to both physical and mental health in people. Similarly, assistance animals improve the lives of those with disabilities.
For many, a house just isn’t a home without a pet.
However, when it’s time to sell your home, in addition to thinking about getting the house ready, it’s important to think about what you will do concerning your pet or pets during the process. Here are some things to consider:
If you’re opting for home staging to get your home sold, you’ll need to consult with the home stager and discuss the presence of pets in your home. Working with your own furniture will likely be the best course of action. Having the stager bring in other furniture may not be your best choice as pets could damage the furniture and cause you to incur added costs.
I’m sure you’ve seen the commercial for that fabric deodorizer where they compare what you think your house smells like to what others actually smell in the house. It’s a fact, we get used to certain smells. When you’re cleaning your house to prepare to sell you’ll want to pay particular attention to any pet-related markers, like stains or smells. For any pet stains on carpets consider having them professionally cleaned. You can try and remove the odours by using enzyme cleaners such as Simple Solution or Nature’s Miracle or call a professional ozone company, or if possible it may be best to just replace any pet soiled carpet.
Remove the visible signs
Remember, potential buyers are trying to picture themselves in your home. For many, that doesn’t include a pet — and even if it does, it doesn’t include your pet!
Put away food and water bowls when not in use
Vacuum religiously, every day, sometimes twice a day
Pick up pet toys and put them away
Pack up cat trees and other signs of cat paraphernalia
Remove photos of pets from refrigerator, walls and table tops
Pack up all cages, carriers and other tell-tale signs
Cat Litter Boxes and Doggy Pads
As best you can keep these out of sight and impeccably clean. An untended litter box is not only unsightly but for many people it can be smelled the moment they enter the home. So, spend a little extra time making sure it’s scooped regularly and really clean (your cat will appreciate it too!)
Have a Plan To Accomodate Showings and Open Houses
If you have no option other than to have your pets at home every day during the time your home is on the market, consider putting your pets into a crate and attach a note warning buyers not to disturb them. The last thing you need is somebody sticking their hand inside the carrier and getting bit or scratched. You can’t predict how your pet will react when locked up and alone. Also, provide your real estate agent with instructions regarding the pets. Those instructions will be given to other realtors when they book appointments so that they are aware of the presence of your pet and any related instructions.
If possible it’s better to make arrangements for your pet to be out of the house during these times. Some options include:
Let a friend or relative care for your furry family members
Board them at a kennel
Consider Doggy Daycare
Take them to work with you for the day
Look into services offered by companies like rover.com
A little time planning will save a lot of angst for you and your loving pets — and will make the selling of your home a much smoother process.
Getting a home ready to sell requires some work. Sometimes a lot of work.
Every time I speak with someone who’s thinking about listing their home there are a variety of questions that come up. One of the big questions revolves around staging and it’s a question that doesn’t really have one simple answer. Staged homes do grab a buyer’s attention and there’s no question that a home that looks fresh, clean, uncluttered and attractive can bring a higher price. Everyone seems to agree that staged homes look great, but the question frequently comes up, Can I stage my home myself?
Years ago, before I worked in real estate I was selling my home. The agent came over and said – wow, your home doesn’t need any staging! Of course, she didn’t realize that I had been preparing to sell for quite some time and all of my work resulted in the house looking like it was staged. The photos of my home looked great and it sold quickly, for asking price. In my case, my real estate agent didn’t need to bring in a home stager because I had done the work myself. You can too, but professional home stagers offer an excellent service, especially if you don’t have an eye for design, or you just plain don’t have the time. If home design and decor just aren’t your thing or if you’re too busy to take on the task (it can be a lot of work), your best course of action is to bring in a professional.
Of course, having your home professionally staged comes with a price tag. Most realtors, including me, pay for a consultation with a home stager when we are listing a home. A staging consultation can range from $200 to a higher price. The cost of actually staging the home depends on how much is required in terms of labour and products. Most home stagers will work with a client’s existing furniture as much as possible and just add accents and pops of colour.
For others, the job is bigger. Sometimes a home staging can be a major overhaul. It can involve painting, changing light fixutres, removing some of your furniture and replacing it with different pieces. For a vacant property it can mean furnishing several of the main living areas. Once the actual work is done, the staging cost continues as a monthly expense (covering the cost of the rental of the furniture and accessories).
Is it worth it? I think any level of home staging is ultimately worth it.
But here’s my advice. When you know you’re going to be selling your home, start the staging process yourself. No matter how much you love your home and how it looks, you need to take a step back and look at it without emotion and sentimentality. Ask your realtor to give you advice as to what you should do.
Here are a few things you can do to get ready to sell and start your own staging process:
I know it sounds simple. Just put away the knick-knacks and you’re done. NO! Decluttering is actually a bigger job than that. A professional home stager in some cases will actually come in and remove up to 50% of what is in the home. If you’re doing it yourself, start with clearing the counters and cabinet spaces. Pick up anything extra that’s taking up floor space. Then, when you think you’re done, take a step back and start again. Remove extra furniture pieces that don’t have a major function in your day-to-day life right now. The more space you create, the bigger your home will appear. And take note of furniture that can “date” your home. The heirloom dining room set with the huge china cabinet may be gorgeous, but sometimes large, heavy furniture can make a room look very small, and I can tell you that sometimes I’ve been in homes and had clients remark that a home looks dated — with my response being, picture it without the furniture. It’s not dated at all.
Cleaning your house to sell is a much deeper cleaning than you do on a regular basis. Often it is advisable to bring in a professional cleaning company to get the job done. They will clean everything from the obvious (floors, windows, counters, appliances, bathrooms), to the not so obvious (blinds, light fixtures, all the nooks and crannies). I always say if you don’t do any other preparation before selling, at least tend to the cleaning. Make your house shine!
I think that painting before putting your home on the market can really make a big difference. And be mindful of the colour you select. A fresh, light, neutral colour is best. It makes the home look large and clean. Sometimes very dark, or bright, or deep colours can turn off a buyer, even if they love everything else about the house. And it’s just paint, so why not do it?
If your house seems dark, changing the lighting can make a big difference. The more light the better! Turn on all of your lights and take a look at where you can improve it. You can change the main light fixtures, or in some cases all you need to do is to bring in some additional lighting like lamps, and make sure that you are using the strongest bulbs your fixtures can safely accommodate.
Kitchens and Bathrooms
This is a bigger considerations. The old saying is true, that updated kitchens and bathrooms really do help homes for a better price. However, you need to weigh the cost of renovation versus what you will get for your home. Talk to your real estate agent and discuss the options. If your home is in a very desirable neighbourhood, the demand for the neighbourhood can greatly outweigh any improvements and upgrades the new owner may need to do. If you really want to improve the look of your kitchen or bathroom, consider ways you can do it without taking on a renovation which can run into the tens of thousands. Refacing cabinets, new hardware, new faucets — all of these things can have a big impact. However, the biggest thing you can (and should) do to your kitchen and bathrooms and make sure they’re spotlessly clean!
Beyond these preparations which you can take on yourself, chat with your realtor about whether you need the services of a home stager, or whether you can just purchase accessories and do the job yourself.
If you’re thinking of listing your home and want to talk about what you need to do to get ready, contact me anytime!
You have decided it’s time to sell your home. Congratulations! It’s time to think about what’s next for you, but first we have to do a little work to get your house sold.
It’s rare that a house is literally ready to list right at the moment you make the decision to sell. Often, you’ll need to do a little work to get it ready. Here are some things you can work on – even before you’re ready to list – so that when the time comes you’ll be ready.
Connect with a great real estate agent
Give me a call! I will be happy to help you out. Of course, if you live in another area, find a realtor who will work for you to get your home sold for the best price in as little time as possible. A great agent is someone who makes things happen, who can market your home well and goes above and beyond to work for you. Even if you don’t live in my area (Southern Ontario), you can call me for a referral. I am connected to great realtors everywhere.
Consider your home’s Curb Appeal
There’s attention to be paid in every season when it comes to curb appeal. Right now it’s autumn and the fall colours are beautiful. Of course, dead leaves piled up everywhere and dead plants do not make a home very inviting. Whatever the season, step one is to make sure the outside of your home is neat and tidy. It the first impression of your home that people will get when they first arrive to take a look. Additional decor can be nice, but your home should look neat and well cared for. Touch up any peeling paint on doors, garage doors and trim. Make sure windows are clean and the front step or porch is free of clutter. In the winter, keep walkways and steps free of ice and snow. Keeping walkways clear and salted if it’s icy sends a good message to potential buyers.
Declutter and Depersonalize your home
This one sometimes sounds a lot easier than it is to do. After all, sometimes our clutter is (in our own opinion) a collection of things that we love.
It very well may be a collection of our beloved possessions, but when it’s time to sell there’s no room for clutter. Treat the opportunity as part of packing up and getting ready to move. Clear counter-tops and floors make a space feel larger and more inviting. If you find the thought of tackling your clutter somewhat overwhelming, ask your real estate agent to refer you to professionals who can help you get the job done!
And while we’re at it, let’s tackle the Cleaning!
In my opinion cleaning is THE most important thing to do in order to get a home sold. Potential buyers will often overlook decor and style. After all, none of the decor items will be staying with the home, but if a home isn’t clean it’s an immediate turn-off for many buyers. It leaves a buyer thinking — if this is how the place looks while they’re showing it to sell, how bad will it be on closing day? Even the cleanest house benefits from a deep cleaning prior to listing. If you don’t want to do it yourself, bring in professionals. A deep cleaning will leave your home sparkling clean and fresh smelling.
What’s that smell?
Now this one can be a sensitive issue. What if your home has a noticable odour? First, you need to know there’s a smell present. Crazy as it sounds, often when you live with an odour all the time you don’t notice it anymore. Once you determine that there is a smell to deal with, you need to identify it and get to work on neutralizing it. Smells can come from pets, cooking, damp basements, or any number of sources. If you can’t figure it out there are companies that specialize in odour removal. It’s worth investigating. I have experienced being with buyers who refused to go through a home after stepping inside the door and noticing a smell they didn’t like.
Spruce up the interior
There are a variety of great fixes you can do without spending big bucks. Aside from cleaning, I am always amazed at the difference fresh paint and good lighting can make in a home. Watch for paint sales to get the job done at the best price. And take a critical look at the lighting in your home. Lights can be expensive but they don’t have to be. If your lights are too dim it makes a room seem dark, small and sometimes oppressive (depending on the room). More light is a good thing! If you do decide that your home needs new light fixtures, check out what’s available for a good price at your local home store, but also consider looking at places like Kijiji or the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. While I’m on the subject of little changes that can have big impact, consider changing the door handles and drawer and cabinet pulls in your home. New hardware can really update your home. Beware overspending on these items though. Designer handles can be pricey, but home stores often sell modern, fresh hardware at a very reasonable price.
Consider hiding away any valuables
This is something I address with my listing clients right away. Once your home is on the market there will be strangers coming to your home for showings. While they will be in the company of a registered real estate broker or sales person, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Make sure that things like computers, video game consoles, portable speakers, other electronics, jewelry, cash and other valuables are stored somewhere that is safe. In addition, don’t leave things like utility bills or other personal information out in plain sight. And, as much as I am a fan of the family calendar in the kitchen (I don’t know how I could have managed without it when my kids were small), put it somewhere out of sight. There’s a lot of personal information on a family calendar which could be stolen with the snap of a cell phone photo.
There’s so much to do, so don’t leave it to the last minute. If you’re considering selling your home in the near future, try tackling some of your home fixes in advance. If you’re not sure what you need to do, give me a call. I can come and take a look at your home and we can put together a plan to get your home List-Ready!
Sharon Caddy is a Sales Representative with Re/Max Realty Specialists Inc.
It’s such a great feeling. Opening the door and walking into a clean home. I know, life gets busy and sometimes cleaning gets pushed to the side. There are times when we just say to ourselves — I’ll get to it tomorrow.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Charles MacPherson – aka Charles The Butler. He’s been on many talk shows over the years and is the man behind Charles MacPherson Associates, specializing in educating and recruiting domestic staff for private residential clients. If you ever really want to get yourself organized and get your house cleaning on a schedule, I highly recommend reading his book “The Butler Speaks”. It will help you make your household schedule run like clockwork! If I learned anything from Charles, it’s that having the right tools and know-how at hand will help you make quick work of your household tasks.
Working in real estate, I visit a lot of homes in various states of cleanliness, (Tip: One of the most important things you can do if you want to sell your home quickly is to make sure it’s squeaky clean!). Of course, even the cleanest of homes can benefit from a deep cleaning before going on the market (much like detailing a car), but keeping a regular cleaning schedule in place year round will keep your home looking it’s best all the time.
I put together my 8 favourite cleaning tips and hacks for keeping your home looking its best.
Tub & Shower Cleaner
Let’s face it, sometimes cleaning the tub and shower can be a daunting task. Soap scum can require some fairly heavy-duty scrubbing. Try this the next time you have to tackle the tub:
What you’ll need:
A spray bottle (pick one up at the local dollar store)
2 parts white vinegar
1 part dishwashing liquid
Measure out the vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it up in the microwave until it is hot. Pour the heated vinegar into the spray bottle (be careful!!). Add the dishwashing liquid and gently shake it to mix.
Take your freshly brewed cleaning spray, spray your shower walls and tub and leave it for some time. The longer the better – an hour or so is great and requires less scrubbing. After it sits use a light scrubbing brush to clean. It should scrub away easily. Tip:When spraying the tub and shower walls a light spraying will do. The dish liquid will create lots of suds if you use too much! Also, while the cleanser is doing its thing, be sure to have the bathroom fan going or if you have a bathroom window, just have it open bit for ventilation.
Clean Your Ceiling Fan
Are you like me? When you walk into a room with a ceiling fan do you look up to see if there’s dust accumulated on the blades? Ok, it’s a thing with me, and one that’s easily remedied. This is my favourite method for cleaning ceiling fans.
You will need:
A ladder or step-stool
Your favourite spray cleaner for dusting
Spray the inside of your pillowcase with dusting spray. Then being careful, step up and cover the fan blades, one at a time with the pillowcase. Grasp the fan blade with the pillowcase and slide it along the length of the blade. That will clean off all of the dust and dirt and will keep the dirt inside the pillowcase and prevent it from falling onto your table or bed or floor below.
Kitchen Cabinets need cleaning? No problem!
Kitchen cabinets can get kind of grimy. Between general kitchen grease and those pesky handprints around the handles and edges of the cabinets, kitchen cabinets need an occasional scrub. Believe it or not, the best way to tackle this oily grime is with …. wait for it … more oil!
What you’ll need:
1 part vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
2 parts baking soda
Mix the vegetable oil and baking soda in a small container. Then, either using your fingers or a cloth, rub the mixture into the surface you want to clean. If you need to get into edges and corners, use an old toothbrush. Once you’ve applied the oil and baking soda mixture, wipe it clean with a warm, damp cloth.
Steam Clean Your Microwave
Small microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup
Start with a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Pour in 1/2 to 1 cup of water. Take one lemon and slice it in half. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the water, then place both halves of the lemon into the bowl too. Now microwave your lemon and water for 3 minutes on high or until the water boils. Shut the microwave off but leave the bowl in the microwave for approximately 5 minutes more and let the steam do its work. The steam from the lemon water will loosen up all of that cooked on mess. Remove the bowl and wipe your microwave clean! You’ll have a sparkling clean microwave and a really fresh smell in the kitchen!
Need to Clean the Windows?
Forego the store bought, bottled window cleaner and use a mixture of vinegar and water to clean the windows. (Tip: Use a wet squeegee for best results)
Make Sure You Do Your Cleaning From The Top-Down
I know I sound like Captain Obvious here, but attack your cleaning chores from the top down, ie: dust before vacuuming, clean countertops before sweeping the floor, etc. It’ll save you from having to clean things after you’ve already cleaned them.
Protect Your Hands
Whether you’re using store bought cleaning products or simple things like vinegar, lemon and water, cleaning can be tough on the skin. Wear protective gloves when you’re doing your cleaning. Your hands will thank you!
Who says cleaning has to be a miserable task? Put together a playlist with your favourite music and treat your cleaning like exercise. You’ll have more fun and you can even skip going to the gym on cleaning day!
There you have my Top 8 Favourite Cleaning Tips, but here’s one more that might be worth considering. I have a friend who used to hire a cleaning person once every two weeks. Instead of hiring a cleaning service, they decided to dedicate specific days and times to cleaning and set up a bank account and deposited into the account the amount of money they would have paid to a professional. This has become their vacation fund. Just an idea 🙂
As a realtor I see a lot of homes. Many of the homes I see are recently redecorated and often staged. When you go through homes as often as I do, it doesn’t take long to notice trends — and changes in trends.
For several years now the look of choice for many (dare I say most) homes has been light gray walls, white trim, darker toned wood floors, and light coloured kitchens with silver -toned fixtures and hardware. Added to that basic base of decor is usually minimalist art in muted colours.
If you’ve cracked open a home design magazine lately you’ll see that designers are going in a very different direction, and I for one am happy about it. While I love the clean, cool, fresh look of the light gray/white combo, it’s been getting a little tired. There’s a certain sameness to so many houses and I’m happy to see that individuality and personality are making a comeback.
Here are some of the trends that I’ve noticed lately in decor magazines, on Pinterest and in homes that I’ve visited:
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is the return of COLOUR! Pantone’s colour of the year for 2019 is Living Coral which we’re seeing everywhere, from home decor accents to fashion. With that trumpet of coral comes other popular tones including blush, pinks, and bronze.
Another colour trend that’s making a comeback — Brown. For those of us who lived through the 70’s there’s no need to cringe. Brown doesn’t have to mean old wood panelling and muddy colours. Think rust, umber, chestnut and warmer yellowy-beige tones. It’s a warmer colour trend and can really make a home feel cozy and warm.
If you’re still hesitant to embrace bold colours, try the 90-10 rule. 90% white or light neutral for a room with 10% hits of bold colours. Think jewel tones and primary colours.
If you’re feeling adventurous, here’s a tip. WALLPAPER is back, big time! Today’s wallpaper is not for the faint-hearted. It’s bold, it’s bright and it’s colourful. As with any strong decorating element, be intentional about how and where you’re using it. Sometimes less is more. If you’re jumping in to the world of wallpaper, perhaps you’re best advised to consult a decorating professional to make sure that you’re getting the look you want.
Oh and I can’t leave the colour talk behind without a nod to the return of black to room decor. Granted, you have to be careful when painting a room black. In the wrong room it can be too dark and feel really confining. But, when done well a black room can be elegant and rich feeling, like this gorgeous living room complete with black chandelier.
As with the colour trends, decorating accents are getting more interesting. Rooms are being composed to tell a story. Many accent items are also decidedly chosen with environmental awareness in mind.
Art is BIG and BOLD and COLOURFUL! The art that’s appearing on walls everywhere is large and colourful. The abstract neutral canvases we’ve seen for the past several years are being replaced by paintings (actual paintings), often large and with ornate frames.
Lamps and other decor pieces are trending to the organic with wood and stone being very popular. Natural light and plants are giving home interiors a fresh and lively feel. Other decor pieces I’ve been seeing have a real hand-made feeling with lots of rope, paper and clay.
Kitchen decor doesn’t change very often — and that’s a good thing. It can be very expensive to change the look of your kitchen. Here are some of the top trends in kitchen decor.
MIXED METALS – This is a great trend because while the return of gold/copper/brass for fixtures and hardware, you don’t have to do it all at the same time, and in fact you’re actually more “on trend” if all of your metal in the kitchen isn’t so “matchy matchy”. The return of gold tones to kitchen and bathrooms goes along with the return of warmer colours overall in our decorating.
Where for quite some time kitchens were tending toward white everything …. cabinets, countertops and backsplashes, again, colour and personality is coming back. We’re seeing very interesting, bold backsplash tiles. Dark counter tops are gaining in popularity and cabinets are making a marked departure from either white or wood tones to being painted in interesting colours. One of my favourite looks are these cabinets painted in navy with gold toned hardware. **TIP: check out local cabinet painters. For a relatively low price they will professionally refinish/paint your cabinets and they’ll look amazing.
APPLIANCES – For the past 20 years or so the trend has been to stainless steel appliances. Sure they’re sleek and look great, but even appliance trends do change. Lately there’s been a return to sleek white as well as colourful appliances. Keep in mind though that a trendy red fridge will likely be more expensive as there aren’t as many of them available … so the law of supply and demand applies. I’m actually excited to see the new trend toward the bronze and copper coloured appliances. They look great!
So the one word that keeps popping up is COLOUR! Colour is making a comeback in decorating. If you’re not sure about changing major elements in your home, start with accent pieces and things that are easy to change (or change back) like bedding, pillows, drapery, throw rugs and art. When you’re more comfortable with colour … GO FOR IT!
Sharon Caddy is a Sales Representative with Re/Max Realty Specialists Inc.
Your house has been listed and your realtor suggests an open house. There are a few things you should know …
When you put your home on the market your real estate sales representative puts their full marketing plan into action and among the many methods of marketing your home is the open house. For some, that should read, the dreaded open house. Let me interject here that I really enjoy doing open houses, but I understand that some home owners really don’t like the idea of opening up their home to just anyone who wants to walk in off the street.
Your fears are not unfounded. On May 22 in Halton Region a man stole $30,000 from an open house. You can read about it in this Toronto Sun article.
Whether it’s an open house or just showings of your home while it is listed, here are 7 safety measures worth considering to prevent crime from coming to your doorstep.
Consider Security Cameras
The world of home security has become simpler than ever before. Not that many years ago installing a security system was a complicated and costly venture. Now, a quick visit to a local electronics store will take care of the job. From video doorbells to camera systems, you’ll be able to monitor what’s going on in your home not only during open houses, but during showings of your home too. One tip: Be mindful when selecting locations for camera placement. You’ll want to consider entry and exit points to the home and rooms where there may be items of value. If you’re uncertain of the best placement, ask your realtor, or contact your local police department for advice
When you are selling your home there will be many people coming through. During showings potential buyers will be accompanied by a licensed real estate professional, but even so, during the time that your home is on the market it is best if you go through your home and remove any valuables and heirlooms. **Remove all temptations** For things like expensive jewelry you may want to consider temporarily moving the items to a bank safety deposit box. If removing valuables completely from the home doesn’t sit well with you, consider hiding them —- but don’t just put them in the underwear drawer! Valuable items may include video game terminals, other electronic devices and even piggy banks! Keep your belongings safe. The inconvenience is only temporary. One other note — don’t leave that spare set of keys hanging inside the door or an extra garage door opener lying around.
Keep Prescription Drugs and Expensive Alcohol Out Of Sight
As with other valuables, you are advised to remove your prescription medications from their usual locations. In addition, if you keep valuable collections of wine or other spirits on hand and on display you may want to consider packing them away while your home is being shown.
Be Aware Of Your Personal Life Being On Display
Take down the family calendar with names, times and locations of where your family will be. In addition, make sure that mail, bills, personal papers and any documents which are important to you are tucked safely away from the public eye. Remember, your personal information can be stolen without even being removed from your home. One click of a smart phone camera is all it takes. Keep it out of sight.
Choose a Trustworthy Realtor
Not all realtors are the same and some may not be worthy of your trust. Be picky when choosing someone to work with you on the sale of your home. Make sure attention is being paid to detail and that the security of your home and the safety and security of your family are being made priority. Also, if you are opting to have your agent hold open houses you can make requests that make you feel more secure. If your home is large or perhaps in a secluded location you can request that there be more than one agent present during the open house. If your concern runs to who is coming in to your home during an open house, you can request that attendees show ID. If an open house is very busy, you can request that only a few guests can come in at a time with the rest waiting their turn. All realtors hosting open houses require guests to sign a registry in order to attend, but you as the home owner can make the request for enhanced security. For regular home showings, know that by working with a licensed realtor, all showings of your home that are booked are done so through the brokerages, not the individual realtors, and no lockbox information is released until all aspects of the requested showing are validated and confirmed.
Make Sure Your Home Is Insured
Even the most well prepared people occasionally find themselves the victims of crime, so it is always advisable (not just while your home is on the market) to have an up-to-date homeowner’s insurance policy for damage, theft and injury for your property. It is also wise to have a record of all of your valuables before the house showings. Photos and videos are excellent in the event that you need to provide evidence.
Finally, Check That Your Home Is Secure After An Open House
The realtor hosting the open house should be checking the home before they leave to make sure that all windows and doors and sliding doors are closed and locked. Know that occasionally the realtor hosting the open house is not the realtor you are working with. Sometimes a colleague of your realtor will attend the open house in their place. Your realtor will select someone they trust, but still, when you return home after the open house just do a quick walk-through of the house and make sure your home is safe and secured for your family.
Feeling safe and secure is a large part of what makes a house feel like a home. Make sure that you are being made to feel as secure as possible throughout the process of selling your home. You should always feel comfortable asking your realtor any questions you have surrounding any aspect of the sale of your home — and security should always be top of mind.
If you’re thinking of selling your home or you are looking to buy a home (or both) let’s get together and talk about it. I will be sure to make the process as smooth as possible.
Sales Representative, Re/Max Realty Specialists Inc.
So you’ve made the decision. You’re going to list your house.
When all of the paperwork is done we get to the point in the conversation where we discuss preparing your home for showings and whether or not you want to use Home Staging.
Sometimes, sellers are somewhat leery. “What is Home Staging all about? Do I really need it? Is it just another cash grab? Who pays for it?”
These are all reasonable questions. When selling your home, no-one is going to force you to use the services of a Home Stager. It’s completely up to you. Here’s what I can tell you.
Home Staging — the art of preparing a home for sale — has really become commonplace and a true advantage in selling homes over the past 20 years. When staging a home, a realtor enlists the services of a professional home stager. Many realtors will cover the consultation cost of the home stager. During a consultation, the stager will go through the home and makes notes and recommendations as to how the home could be shown in it’s best possible light to potential buyers. Sometimes it just means removing clutter, doing a deep cleaning and rearranging some decor items. Sometimes it means removing existing furniture and replacing it temporarily with stagers’ furnishings. Often these are slightly smaller furnishings, giving rooms a larger feel. And, in the case of a vacant home it sometimes means furnishing the entire home.
Do I really need it? In some cases home staging isn’t really necessary. I’ve been in some homes that actually look like they’re staged already! But in most cases, even the most modern, updated home can benefit from a tweak here or there before it goes on the market. Some would say that today’s home buyer has higher expectations. They want to see your home they way it “could be”, not in the way you currently enjoy it. Sure, nobody really lives in a home that looks like a decorating magazine page, but when buyers are looking at homes that’s kind of what they are looking for. I can tell you that when I’m taking buyers out to look at homes, they are almost always wowed by the staged homes and if I’m showing them a home that isn’t staged it sometimes takes some effort and creativity to persuade them to look past the lack of “sparkle” and see the value.
According to 2017 statistics provided by the National Association of Realtors, staging had the following effects:
77% of buyers’ agents reported that staged homes made it easier for buyers to visualize a property as their future home
Staging the living room was most important to buyers (55%) followed by master bedroom (51%) and kitchen (41%)
About one-third of buyers’ agents said that staged homes resulted in offers that were 1%-5% higher than offers made on similar but unstaged properties
38% of agents report that they stage all of their listings, while 14% report they only stage homes they consider difficult to sell
Among respondents, 25% reported that staging was paid for by the seller before listing
39% reported that staging greatly reduced the amount of time a house remained on the market
Aside from using the services of a professional home stager the following preparations were noted as most important by realtors; Decluttering 93%, Entire home cleaning 89%, Carpet cleaning 81% and removing pets from home for showings 80%.
I am happy to report that I work with a few very reputable home stagers when preparing my listings. Together, the seller, the stager and I all work together to show your home in a way that will bring you the most money in the shortest time possible.
If you have any questions about listing your home feel free to give me a call. Together we can walk through your home and discuss what you need to do to get it market ready.