An energy score is an rating given to your home after it has been audited by a professional home energy auditor. Similar to a house's walking score, an energy score can be listed on the MLS listing for your home, and it can be a selling point for potential buyers.
Assessing previous energy bills are not always indicative of the actual energy efficiency of the home. Often times, energy bills reflect the lifestyle of the residents, not the house's efficiency. An energy audit and energy score provides potential buyers the actual efficiency of your home.
An energy audit rates your home's energy efficiency level on a scale of zero to 100. The more energy efficient the home is, the higher the score. A rating of zero represents a home with major air leakage, no insulation and extremely high energy consumption, whereas a rating of 80 represents an airtight, well-insulated, and sufficiently ventilated home with high-efficiency equipment.
Looking to boost the resale value of your home? Knowing its energy score could help.
During an energy audit, homeowners receive recommendations on upgrades that can help make their home more energy efficient.
If you decide to sell, be sure to tell your realtor about Enbridge Gas Distribution's Home Rating program. By having your realtor include your energy score on your MLS listing and other marketing material, you are letting potential buyers know that they can save on their energy costs.
For more information on your home's energy efficiency, visit www.knowyourenergyscore.ca.
In today's real estate market, a coat of paint and a good cleaning aren't enough for a quick sale at top dollar. You need to inspire the buyer's imagination and make them want to live there – and that is where home staging comes in. Here are three simple things that can make a real impact:
• Add a fireplace – this one element creates an inviting focal point with wow power. If you don't have an existing fireplace, electric is the way to go – and this change can be yours in a flash. Innovative companies like Dimplex, for example, offer a number of designer options for every décor style. The plug-and-play designs make installation a breeze.
• Remnant rug – A new rug can warm up the room, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Check out carpet showrooms, as you will usually find remnants of carpet that have been bound. A neutral rug will help to ground the space.
• Flowers - People love seeing live plants and flowers in the family room. It gives a sense of life and good energy.
While homes in big cities may sell quickly, outside major centres homes can sit on the market for months and months. Sometimes it’s a slow market. Sometimes it’s silly mistakes made by sellers. Whether you are selling in the city or hoping to move your rural property into new hands, don’t make these mistakes:
You may have put a lot of love and a lot of money, into your home, but buyers don’t care. They aren’t comparing the home before you loved it with the one you’re selling now; they’re comparing your home to all the other options on the market. If you start off too high, you’ll stop all the people who might be interested from even looking at what you’ve got.
Really? You’re trying to sell your home but you’re not making it available when buyers want to see it? While it might be a major pain in the ass being on call for showings at the drop of a text, if you want that puppy gone, you’ll have to make it easy for buyers to see it.
Failing to prepare
Would you want to buy a home that was full of clutter, needed repairs or had a front yard that had run to weeds? The guy who you’re trying to convince doesn’t either. Rumour has it that it takes only about 60 seconds for a prospective buyer to form an opinion about a home. I know that of the four homes I’ve bought, I knew it was “the one” within minutes of walking in the door. Clean out the crap, tidy up the cupboards and the garage, stash your excess stuff in a friend’s basement until the home sells. And make sure the place smells wonderful. (You’ll benefit from that too.)
A low-ball offer hasn’t been made to offend you, it’s the buyer’s signal that the negotiation is going to be a rollercoaster ride. Buckle up, but keep smiling. Letting your emotions get in the way of a deal is immature. This is a business deal, treat it as such.
If you’re afraid of what an inspection might turn up, rather than get in the way of the inspection process, hire your own inspector to highlight what you need to fix. If you aren’t prepared to replace the 34-year-old furnace or 15-year-old roof, be prepared for the buyer to negotiate the cost of a new one off your sales price.
By now we've all heard the old adage about the importance of curb appeal. If you can't get potential buyers in the door, good luck selling your home. This is especially true today with so many homes competing on the market. Home staging has become a popular trend for interior spaces, but according to experts, the same care needs to be applied to the exterior.
“Home buyers weigh the outside impression of a home as much as the inside, especially when surfing real estate websites and online images of homes,” explains Priscilla Bergeron, Assistant Brand Manager for Sikkens, the industry leader in wood protection. “You only have one chance to make a first impression. By spending a little time and money on the outside, potential buyers may be more inclined to give your home a second look, and hopefully, a better offer.”
According to Bergeron, the first step in giving your outdoor spaces the important face lift they need is to update your outside woodwork weathered by the sun, rain and snow. “You can give a high end look to your front porch, window trim, doors, siding and backyard deck with premium wood finishes. They provide a rich, professional touch to all exterior projects, while preserving and protecting the wood from the effects of weather and aging,” she adds.
Home decks return about 70 per cent of their original cost back to homeowners when a house is sold, according to Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report, but that's only when the decks are kept in top shape.
To bring weathered wood finishes back to life, Bergeron recommends applying high end wood finish products to give a beautiful rich and professional look to your woodwork that will seduce potential home buyers.
She points out that Sikkens products are available in translucent, semi-transparent and solid wood finishes and in a variety of different colours. To please a wider array of potential buyers, Bergeron recommends opting for more traditional colours. Translucent products give a rich, glamorous and professional look to any house.
Once the woodwork has been updated you can now stage your deck, patio or poolside, like you would indoors. “Whether your home's style is modern minimalist, country, or traditional, your outdoor décor should be a reflection and an extension your home's interior to achieve a seamless look,” she explained.
This can be accomplished with the choice of outdoor furnishings and accessories which should look fresh, new and vibrant. Newer furnishings and planters in carefully chosen colours will help keep your outdoor spaces looking up-to-date and contemporary. Further define your deck or patio by setting a table with colorful outdoor dinnerware. For your porch, consider a bistro table and chairs to help welcome buyers into your living space. More information is available online at www.sikkens.ca.
You want to move. You want to buy a new home. Unfortunately, you are already living in one and aren't sure whether you should sell it before buying, or perhaps purchase one first and let the chips fall where they may. To help with this, take a look at some signs to watch for during the decision making process, with guidance from the country's largest commission-free real estate organization, the ComFree Network.
Signs you should buy before selling:
• You found your dream home
It happens. We walk into a home and it is everything we've ever wanted and, now, can't live without. If the home is within your budget and it makes sense for you to buy first, snap it up before someone else does.
• It's a sellers' market
“If there is a high demand for homes, then buying before selling is a wise decision. You get a new home quickly and you can likely unload your old home right away,” says Martin Rygiel, Sales Director at the ComFree Network. If you sell with a commission-free service, you will save tens of thousands on commission which can help if you're buying before selling.
• You can afford to do it
If having two mortgages is not a huge financial stretch, then this may be a consideration. Before you dive in, do some homework and find out how quickly homes in your area sell; then visit your financial planner to crunch numbers.
Signs you should sell before buying:
• You're not willing to budge on price
If you are not flexible on your asking price, then it may be best to sell before buying a home. When you buy first, there's a good chance that you'll have to bend on your asking price if no one is biting.
• You don't mind moving around
If you sell your home first, you can always add a condition in the contract that allows you to stay in your home until you find a new one, but there's also the option of finding a temporary place until you make the move.
• Money is tight
If you are barely making ends meet, then it would likely be difficult to maintain two homes for any period of time. Opting to sell your home first and have a little cushion in the bank before closing another home deal may be best in such a situation.
Occasionally, one can see "For Sale By Owner" signs, and some owners think that selling their own home will not only save them money, but believe they have an advantage over the sellers that have their home listed by a reputable Realtor®. Before you decide to take on this very important and legally complicated process…remember not even most Real Estate Lawyer's recommend selling your own home yourself in today's market. Here are a few of the reasons why:
1. You are limiting your exposure to potential buyers (less than 10% of what a good real estate broker will generate) which theoretically means your home will take ten to fifteen times longer to sell on the market.
2. The longer a home is on the market the lower the selling price is. Why? Because most buyers think that if the home has not sold after this long... there must be something wrong with the home.
3. The selling/buying process begins AFTER the buyer leaves your home. Most sellers think that all it takes is for someone to see their home, fall in love with the great decor... and the offer automatically will follow. Remember that the buying process begins after they leave your home. If a real estate sales representative does not represent the buyer, and they are looking on their own…they usually leave the home and start to talk themselves out of the buying process. If the buyer is represented by a real estate professional Realtors® are trained on how to overcome buyers remorse--a very common occurrence.
4. Because of the limited exposure you will very likely end up with a lower selling price. Remember, in order to generate the highest price possible for your home… selling means exposure. You need the maximum exposure possible, to generate the highest price possible.
5. Most buyers find it extremely awkward to negotiate or even to talk directly with sellers and therefore avoid FSBO properties.
6. Lack of negotiating experience and lack of pertinent information often will result in a lower selling price, or worse yet, a bungled contract and possible lawsuits.
7. The majority of qualified buyers are working with experienced real estate professionals.
8. Many serious buyers will pass by a FSBO home merely because they recognize that it is not in the real estate mainstream, this can some times make them wary.
9. As most local buyers now retain an experienced real estate sales person to represent them as their buyer-agency, you will probably be negotiating against an experienced professional.
10. Expected savings in broker's fees will also be greatly reduced if you offer a selling commission to entice real estate sales representatives to bring potential buyers.
11. If you are planning to use a Lawyer to help you negotiate the offer, then your lawyer's fees will be considerably higher.
12. Only real estate sales representatives have access to the up-to-date market information. News reports cannot approach the timeliness or specificity available to real estate sales people. Further, real estate sales representatives are involved in home sales much more frequently than the average homeowner is. This familiarity leads to a degree of expertise that provides an edge on negotiating and successful selling.
13. You only pay the commission to the real estate broker, if they successfully sell your home at the price you are happy with.
14. Accepting an offer is one thing, ensuring a safe and successful closing is quite another. Real estate transactions usually always have problems on closing. At times, expecting the Buyers and Sellers Lawyer's to fight it out or resolve the problems, can sometimes mean the deal is lost. This is the time that your experienced real estate professional, can be the most important. Your Realtor® can act as a great mediator. Lawyers MUST act only on their client's instructions and are not paid to negotiate.
Moving to a new home can be stressful for everyone involved, including your pets. “We often see homeowners who are anxious about their pet's adjustment to a new home,” says Yvonne Ratigan, vice president at Royal LePage Canada. “By planning ahead, you can ensure your pet is happy and safe in your new home,” Ratigan says, offering these tips to help things go smoothly.
Visit the vet. Schedule a visit with your veterinarian for a check-up and ensure all vaccinations are up to date. Use this time to arrange for copies of your pet's records, and ask for a recommendation for a veterinarian in your new location. If your journey is a long one, ask for advice on how to care for your pet during transportation.
Research by-laws and pet licensing in your new area. What are the requirements concerning domestic animals in your new area? To find out, contact the local Humane Society or an animal shelter run by the municipality. Ask about licensing and by-laws concerning the responsibilities of pet owners. Also check into the availability of leash-free areas for dogs in your new community.
Special considerations for rural areas. If the area you are moving to is a rural one, be sure to learn the rights of farmers when neighbouring pets venture onto their property. Often, farmers have special privileges when it comes to protecting their livestock. An unleashed pet, who ventures onto a farmer's property, could be considered a threat.
Transitioning your pet to your new home. Take your dog for several walks each day to help him become familiar with the new area. Avoid walking the dog immediately before you plan to leave the home for errands or work. Plan to be home for a period of time after those initial walks, so that the dog associates the new area with a positive outcome. Leaving immediately after your walk can increase anxiety. Cats on the other hand, should remain inside for several weeks until they become comfortable in the new home. Cats are known to run away to search for their old home, so safe containment indoors is paramount.
As a homeowner, we begin to accumulate papers and documents the moment we choose to purchase a home. Offers to purchase, mortgage documents, home inspection reports, homeowners insurance, renovation receipts, and appliance warranties are just some of documents that you may need to refer to in the future. The ability to locate these important papers easily can save you time, and even money.
Royal LePage Canada legal consultant Penny Egan recommends locating and organizing all these documents in single multi-tab filing system. “No need for an elaborate system—a simple accordion file with labeled flaps will do,” says Egan, suggesting the following categories.
Contracts and legal papers
These documents include the deed, surveys, inspections and any other reports. You will need these records again if you decide to re-finance or sell your home.
Create a folder for your homeowners insurance policy, as well as mortgage insurance, if you hold a policy. Also use this space to keep copies of correspondence related to any past claims.
Purchase and market data
Keep a copy of the original listing of your home, and as information comes available from homes sold in your area, slip this information into the file to include ongoing comparable market data.
Keep your tax bills and record of payment for as long as you own the home. If you have business-use-of-home expenses on your federal tax return, you may need these items if your tax returns are audited.
Home maintenance and improvements
Create a folder for receipts for repairs, maintenance and home improvements. You may also wish to include a log of regular maintenance tasks.
Warranties, manuals and receipts
Keep your warranties, manuals and receipts for all appliances for as long as you own them.
If you were ever to lose any of your possessions due to fire or burglary, having a home inventory can make it easier when filing an insurance claim. Make a list of valuables in the home and take photos of each room for visual documentation, including close-up photos of jewelry and other valuables.
Organizing your home files may take of time initially, but is time well spent in the event you need the documents in the even of refinancing or sale of your home.
Once you've tripped over your kids' toys for the fiftieth time or have to store pantry items in your linen closet, you may start dreaming of moving to a larger house. But how do you know if you've really outgrown your home?
According to Barbara Sukkau, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), many homeowners start eyeing property listings after they've reached a new life milestone. “Homeowners tell me that their house feels too small after another child joins the family or when an elderly parent moves in. To them, it can feel like their house has more people in it than closets,” says Sukkau.
Sukkau recommends homeowners meet with a Realtor to determine the value of their current home and decide what price range they can afford for a larger house. “Once you know your budget, your Realtor will know whether or not you can find a larger home within your price range in the neighbourhood you want.”
While some homeowners renovate to solve their cramped quarters, this is not always the best solution. “Some municipalities prevent you from building an extension onto the home or from adding an apartment in the basement,” says Sukkau. “Living through an extensive renovation is stressful, especially when you have kids. A Realtor can help you sell your home for the best price to make it easier for you to buy your next home. You may find the perfect house already exists and you won't have to try to build it yourself.”
OREA offers other signs it may be time for you to move:
• Your kids can no longer share a bedroom comfortably.
• Belongings you want to keep are stuck in a rented storage unit.
• You now work from home and need an office that's quiet and clutter-free.
A Realtor's extensive training can help homeowners decide if it is time to move or not. Realtors, who are regulated by the province, work for your best interests.
Memories are priceless and they are what make a house a home. But these memories, and our emotional attachment to a parent's home, can prevent us from making sound decisions when it comes time to let go. Selling a home is a major feat, both emotionally and financially, and Realtors are experts who can help.
“There are many unique things to consider when selling a home that is not your own, and may have been lived in for decades,” says Barbara Sukkau, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association, who offers some advice for getting started.
“Ask your Realtor to conduct a comparative market analysis, which will provide insight into what's happening in the area: what buyers are looking for, which homes are selling quickly and why some homes may not be selling.”
A pre-listing inspection will focus on the home itself. “You'll be able to find out what shape the home is in and whether there are major structural repairs to be made,” says Sukkau.
Then talk to your Realtor about what updates you should consider and what you can afford. “It may be in your best interest to sell 'as is' if the area is undergoing a revitalization where homes are bought and then renovated or torn down,” says Sukkau.
“Whether or not updates are made to the home, any existing issues or defects should be outlined in the seller property information statement,” advises Sukkau. Even if you did not live in or own the house, as the seller you are legally responsible for disclosing this information. Your Realtor can assist you in completing this form accurately and so that you are protected after the sale is completed.
“Realtors are experts who can help you navigate the implications involved in family law and estate sales by directing you to the appropriate resources,” says Sukkau.