Thursday, June 5, 2014

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT


Make appliances work for you
Consider needs, preferences when outfitting kitchen
BY MARILYN WILSON
FOR POSTMEDIA NEWS

Ever hear the saying the devil is in the details? When it comes to your new condo, that’s certainly true. And if you can properly accessorize, the excitement, rather than the devil, can occupy your details.

Many condo buyers want to make their lives easier. Those who have been renters until now may be happy with whatever appliances are included. Downsizers may also be just as happy with these appliances, as they are new and will mean a fresh start.

But don’t fall into the trap of just assuming that whatever appliances are included will be sufficient. Instead, comb over the model suites with care and consider upgrading appliances that you will use often or get more joy out of using.

Whether you are an aspiring gourmet chef or merely combine cereal and milk in the morning, you likely spend considerable time in your kitchen. So, what will make your kitchen more functional, user-friendly and enjoyable?

Here are a few appliances worthy of consideration, depending on your use of the kitchen.

If you’re a chef, you will want several key appliances. The first is a good hood fan, something that will keep your condo smoke-free but will not be too loud, given that noise is more concentrated over smaller floor plans. Be wary of the microwave-cum-hood fan that sits over your stove and is often featured in model suites. This combo is fine if you don’t cook much but, if you do, you’ll find you will need a real hood fan to absorb smells and steam.

Do you spend more time cooking or baking? Your answer could affect whether an electric or gas oven is best for you. Also, think about the size of the oven. If you like to host big turkey dinners, for instance, get an oven that will hold your bird.

There are many other nifty appliances to consider if you have the space. Would a warming drawer be useful to keep food, dishes and mugs warm for company, or would you end up using it as a storage drawer? Another option is a cup-warming drawer beneath your coffee maker (try Miele’s).

Frequent hosts may also like the idea of a wine fridge or a second dishwasher. No room for two dishwashers? Maybe there is enough for a half dishwasher instead.

A trend I have started noticing is below-counter microwaves to save counter space and streamline the overall look, as well as microwave drawers. Though new and popular, remember that these drawers have to be pushed closed, creating a potential for spills.

Whatever appliances you choose, make sure they represent your living needs. Purchasing appliances for resale or to please others will mean you live with wasted space in limited square footage.

Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 24 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Brokerage.

HOPEFUL FOR A GREEN SUMMER?

How to prepare your home for a quick, profitable, summer sale
By Melissa Leong
May 30, 2014

After a brutal winter, the heat has finally arrived and with it, expectations of a hotter real estate market. The flurry of housing activity normally reserved for early spring is extending into the summer, industry experts say.

“The pent up demand from the winter is coming to fruition. As soon as listings come out, they’re being swallowed up,” Gurinder Sandhu, executive vice-president at RE/MAX’s Ontario-Atlantic Canada Division, says.

“For buyers there are more choice and for sellers there are more buyers.”

How you price your home and how you prepare its for sale are key.

“Price trends from one neighbourhood to the next can be very different,” Gregory Klump, chief economist at the Canadian Real Estate Association. “If you price your property too high, there is a chance it’ll sit on the market without offers.”

Here’s how three recent home sellers weighed their options, and came out with the sale price they were looking for.


Original purchase price: $332,000 in 2002.

Asking price: $889,000

Sold on the first day: $889,000

Jennifer Lee, a 41-year-old public relations manager, had bought her 3,000-square foot home in Markham, Ont. brand new in 2002 for $332,000. The house had four bedrooms and four bathrooms. With the goal of moving her family to Toronto to be closer to work and loved ones, she put her house on the market on March 12.

What were your home selling goals? “My goal was to get maximum value for the home because I was going to move into a much more expensive neighbourhood. I also had a very short timeline because I wanted to match it with my kids finishing the school year.”

Describe your home selling strategy. “One of my strategies was to sell before I buy. [My brother] who has moved five or six times, said the stress he experienced buying a home first and then trying to sell his home was the worst stress of his entire life. Then you get into panicky mode: ‘I need to accept an offer.’ Then you get sellers regret: ‘Did I sell too cheap?’

We had looked at a home three doors down from us that was the exact same model that had sold last summer. They didn’t have a finished basement. It sold for $815,000. (We had spent about $50,000 to upgrade our basement.)

My agent told me that buyers in the market really like to bargain, so I thought I will price in a 5% to 10% buffer. My asking price was $889,000. I told my agent, ‘I don’t even want to hear an offer that is less than $850,000. In my head, I was thinking, I want $870,000 to $875,000.

We originally thought to hold off on offers; [our agent] said, let’s not lose momentum. If someone’s interested, let them make an offer.”

How did you prepare the home for sale? “We significantly de-cluttered. We stripped out all of the closets and did some re-painting. There were some bold colours on the main floor that we neutralized. We replaced carpet in the basement with laminate and new carpeting. Our budget for clean up was $3,000.”

What did the home finally sell for in the end? “We got an offer on the first day of the market for asking, no conditions.

“We do know that the buyer was from China and was moving to Toronto and was only in town for a week.”

Final thoughts on the process. “I’d recommend not holding off on offers. If someone wants to offer, find out what they want to offer. You can always go back to people who’ve looked at the house and see if they’re interested.

In terms of preparations, don’t get pushed around by contractors who tell you that you need to paint eight rooms and replace all mirrors. Buyers can generally see beyond paint. You don’t have to redo your whole house.”


Original purchase price: $122,500 in 2001

Asking price: $270,000

Selling price: $265,000

With Elisa Holland’s transient military career, which has included tours in Afghanistan, and her husband’s job as a consultant in Alberta’s oil patch, the couple has lived apart for eight years. They finally decided to list their Calgary home for sale on April 1 and move together to Kingston, Ont. They bought the two-storey townhouse with three bedrooms, one and a half baths and two parking spaces for $122,500 in 2001. They listed the 1,500-square foot property for $270,000.

What were your home selling goals? “We wanted to put it at a fair price to sell quickly so we could buy a house in Kingston; it allowed us to buy our dream house. Kingston is a very stable market whereas Calgary is the exact opposite. My aunt and uncle have a fully detached house with a two-car garage in Barrie Ont.; it’s listed at the same [price] as our townhouse.”

Describe your home selling strategy. “I had interviews with three realtors. You have to pick a realtor who understands your residence. The reason why we ended up going with Michelle [Russell, a realtor at Royal Lepage], she understands townhouse/condos and first-time buyers.

You want to make sure you have very neutral d├ęcor. You want it so that if someone else walks in, they don’t see that it’s your house but they can picture themselves there. If you have carpets, you want to take those up so it’s a clean line across the floor. If you have an area rug, it cuts up the space. If you have a pet, you want to remove all traces that you have one. Even before a realtor came over, I took photos and very harshly critiqued them.

Knowing when to put it on the market is key. Most people want to keep their kids in school and they’ll start looking in March/April.

What did the home finally sell for in the end? Our price that we’d be happy with was anything over $260,000. We ended up with two offers: $263,000 and $265,000. We ended up selling it for $265,000, with fewer conditions (they didn’t want a home inspection) and they already had their financing in place.

Final thoughts on the process. Go with your gut feeling, especially if you get multiple offers. Your realtor will give you a sense of what the buyer is like. The $263,000 offer that came in, I honestly felt sick to my stomach. I got a sense that there was something not quite right. Make sure you do your research on your realtor. Don’t always go by someone’s advertising. On the whole, the majority of good realtors will never have to advertise, it’s all word of mouth.


Original sale price: $245,000 in 1995

List price: $689,000

Sale price: $700,000

Asking price After living in a two-bedroom bungalow in New Westminster for 19 years, Bob Harris looked at the backyard one day and said, “I just don’t want to do it anymore.” The 68-year-old retired union rep wanted to downsize. He had bought the house for $245,000 and listed it for $689,000. Meanwhile, he saw a two-bedroom condo that he liked and he put an offer on it.

What were your home selling goals? “It seemed like a good time [to sell] in New Westminster; house prices were going up and condos were going down. The spread between the two was as good as it has been in a long time.”

Describe your home selling strategy. “The rush was on. We got it ready to show within a few days – decluttered, depersonalized it.

My real estate agent Dave [Vallee] had sold a couple [of homes] in the same shape as mine; he had sold one for $683,000. We put it at $689,000, hoping to get some competing offers.

In less than a week, we had an open house on a Sunday. The next day there were three offers, all higher than the asking price…$692,000, $699,000 and $700,000.”

Knowing when to put it on the market is key
What did the home finally sell for in the end? “Two of them were subject to financing. The [homebuyer offering] $695,000 had the money in cash. Her real estate agent was there that night at the house presenting the offer and she was waiting in the car. We said, ‘Would she be willing to move to $700,000 to meet the other offer?’ and she did.”

Final thoughts on the process. “It helps to have a realtor who knows the area that you’re buying and selling in. In going to a lot of open houses, you’d go to ones where the realtors were from outside the area – so there were a lot of questions they couldn’t answer.

If something needs painting, paint it. I went to some places and they were messy. It just doesn’t make you necessarily want to buy. The place that I did buy ironically, the person had been relocated back east and said, ‘Take it as it is.’ They probably could’ve asked for more if they had done a few things.”

Article Source: Financial Post
Illustrations by Chloe Cushman, National Post