Lifestyle June 11, 2020

7 Things Everyone With a Home Needs to Know

One of the best things about buying a home is no longer waiting on a landlord to fix any issues that may come up in your living space. On the other hand, one of the worst things about owning a home is that any issues that do arise on your property are entirely your responsibility. That’s why, when you become a homeowner, one of the most important things you need to do is familiarize yourself with the most common tasks you may need to complete should an issue ever arise. Here are some of the top contenders:

1) How to Shut Off Your Water

Water damage can be one of the most costly repairs you may encounter as a homeowner. And knowing how to stop it before it gets out of hand may just be the difference between a few minutes with the mop and a full-on wall dissection.

While it may sound like a labour-intensive job to shut off all the water in your house, it is actually just as simple as twisting just one knob, known as your main water valve. True, you can find several valves throughout your plumbing system that are able to control individual areas of your home separately. But when emergency strikes, you’ll value the time saved just cutting it all off, rather than trying to find the right one.

If you live in the city of Saskatoon, or have city water fed to your home, your main water valve should be in your basement just near your water heater. If your home runs on well water, you’ll usually find yours near your water storage tank.

2) All About Furnace Filters

Furnace filters are what clean the air in your home, filtering out particles before feeding the air back to you, and they typically need to be changed every couple of months—sooner if you’ve been doing renovations! Because you’ll never know quite when they’ll need to be replaced each time, it’s always a good idea to have a few extras on-hand just in case.

Not all furnaces are created equal, and the same can be said for their filters, too. Not only do they vary in size, but also in efficiency, as well. Other than your size, you’ll want to know your MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value), which can range from 1-16. Of course, you’ll also want to know just how to change the filter, so take a moment to find the little removable panel, and be aware that removing it may be different than the one you had in your last home.

3) How to Clean Your Drain Traps

If you’ve ever checked “under the hood” of your sinks, you’ve probably seen that bit of u-shaped plumbing right underneath and you may have even wondered what that would be for. Known as a drain trap, it is a little pocket in the plumbing that holds just a little bit of water to help block gas and vapours from escaping into your home. But, while it is intended to hold water, it can also hold basically anything you pour down your drain, too, and it may need a good cleaning every once in a while to keep the pipes flowing smoothly.

Before donning your rubber gloves and getting to work, it’s always a good idea to put that main water shut off valve to use to prevent any accidents. Then, you’ll just want to place a bucket underneath, unscrew the clamps, and remove to give it a good clean.

4) Inspect Your Window & Door Seals

Over time, it’s totally normal for the seals around your windows and doors to deteriorate, and the earlier you can catch it, the more time and money you’ll save in repairs and heating costs. Every year, take some time to have a close look around your windows and doors, and keep an eye out for any cracks that may appear, sealing them quickly when you find them.

5) How to Clean Your Gutters

Every fall, we enjoy the beautiful change of scenery as the leaves change colour and fall to the ground. But the trouble is, not all of those leaves make it to the ground. In fact, quite a few of them often end up in our gutters, leading to clogs and clutter that can cause hefty water damages if left unchecked. In the spring and the fall, make time to pop up on the ladder to free up any dams that may have been forming along the gutters.

6) Resetting Ground Fault Interrupters

You may have noticed that the outlets in your kitchen and bathrooms are a little different than the rest of your house. Those little buttons in the centre aren’t just for decoration, though. Those are a very important safety feature known as ground fault interrupters, typically found on outlets that are more in danger of being exposed to water.

In the event of a power surge in your house, these interrupters automatically cut the power to these outlets to prevent a devastating accident, and when you need to get things back up and running, they will need to be reset to turn back on again once it is safe. All you need to do is look for the little button in the middle. If it is popped out, simply pop it back in again, and get back to blowdrying your hair or mixing that cookie dough!

7) Labeling Your Electrical Panel

Most of us have probably dealt with a breaker that needs to be flipped, and usually know where to go to find it. But if you’ve ever had to do that with an unlabeled panel, then you’ll know the hassle of either running up and down the stairs to check if it worked or enlisting the help of a friend or family member to call out to you.

Rather than waiting for a breaker to blow, then flipping through all the breakers at that time, take a moment when you move in to carefully label each switch. While it may take you a little while to figure out which switch is which, knowing the differences will not only save you time in an emergency later on, but it can also save time for an electrician, should you ever need their help in your home, too!

 

Owning a home can be a wonderful venture, especially as a first time home buyer, but if you’re not sure how to handle a little regular maintenance, it can also be quite a headache. By taking care of these essential homeowner tasks, though, you’ll be better equipped to handle the little things as they come, saving yourself both time and money moving forward!

Market UpdatesSeasonal InterestSelling May 28, 2020

5 Reasons to Sell Your Home in Summer 2020

Earlier this year, with the statistics forecasting our best year yet, no one could have imagined the impact of COVID-19 on the Saskatoon real estate market. Self-isolation and social distancing were things we had never even dreamed of and they quickly became our reality without much warning. Soon after, the market slowed dramatically, leaving both buyers and sellers worried what the future would hold.

Luckily, though, the warmer weather brought with it a sunnier outlook, and as recoveries continue to rise, so do sales. This means, if you’ve been toying with the idea of selling your home in 2020, this summer is a fantastic time to do so—and here’s why:

#1 – Awesomely Low Interest Rates

With the current economic climate in the state that it is due to COVID-19, the current interest rates for mortgages are at a record low—some even reported to be as low as 1.99% on a 5-year fixed term! Because of these low interest rates, more home buyers are entering the market equipped with more buying power than they previously could have afforded. So, if you were to list your home today, there would be more potentially interested buyers to sell to—so you could kiss those worries of never-ending relists goodbye!

#2 – Fewer Listings, Less Competition

Saskatoon, as of today, is in what we’d call a seller’s market. While more and more buyers are flocking to the market with the low interest rates, the same is not being said for new listings. This lack of inventory in the Saskatoon market means those listings that do exist are getting more action than ever before, with quite a few of them pulling in competing offers. As a seller putting your home on the market today, you can expect to see more urgency from buyers and a shorter listing period. And why not turn your dreams of a new home into a reality much quicker!

#3 – You Have A Clearer Idea of Your Wants & Needs

After months of social distancing and staying home to stay safe, I can almost guarantee that you have gotten pretty familiar with your current home. More specifically, I’d say you’ve gotten pretty familiar with what it’s missing for you and your family. This means that you’ll have a clearer idea of what you’ll be looking for in your new property, helping to narrow down your choices to make finding your dream home simpler and less like digging through the clearance rack to find a gem!

#4 – No School Means Easier Moves

Summer is traditionally one of the best times for families to move, with kids out of school and summer vacation times more readily available. Not only will you have the extra free hands to help carry the boxes, but you also won’t have to worry about disrupting their learning process or moving them out of the school district before the year is through! Plus, a move earlier in the season gives them plenty of time to explore and fall in love with your new home just as much as you have!

#5 – Summer is the Best Time for Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the first impression that buyers get of a home. And in the winter, when everything is coated in a blanket of wet and white, it’s hard for them to get an accurate read of what the curb appeal actually is. The trees are bare, the garden is covered, and they have no idea if there’s any grass under there at all.

In the summer, though, nature is in bloom, the weather is warm, and your home can truly be seen in its best light (mostly because there is still light after buyers get off work). This helps to reinforce a buyer’s impression of the house, giving them another determining factor to help them make their decision, rather than leaving them in the mysteries of the unknown.

 

With plenty of buyers on the market, eager to get out and get moving while the water’s warm, summer 2020 is really shaping out to be a great time to be a seller. And if you’ve been questioning whether or not to get started, take this as your sign from the heavens—your time is now. And I can help! Contact me to get your free custom market evaluation today and let’s get started!

BuyingFinancial March 5, 2020

The True Costs of Buying a House

For many first time home buyers especially, the common misconception is that the only costs of buying a house is the price of the home itself. However, unlike buying a new TV, where you simply pay the cost, grab the box, and walk out the doors, buying a house means quite a few financial steps to get to the finish line. Here are just a few of the most common costs associated with buying a house:

Down Payment

In order to obtain a mortgage from a lender, you’ll need to provide proof of financial stability and income in the form of a down payment. Usually this is anywhere between 5% and 20% of a home’s purchase price, but it can certainly be more than that, if you can afford it! Though, the minimum down payment required in Canada is 5%, and anything below 20% will require mortgage default insurance, which we will cover a bit later.

Your down payment is similar to any money you may have put down when financing a vehicle at the dealership. This money comes straight off the purchase price and only the remaining amount is factored into your mortgage loan. Which means the more you pay upfront with your down payment, the smaller a loan you will need, and therefore less interest you will need to pay.

Mortgage

Regardless of whether they are a first time home buyer or not, the one cost of buying a house that all buyers seem to be aware of is the mortgage payments. Similar to how a student loan helps you go to college now and pay later, a mortgage allows you to buy your home now and pay over time. Depending on the purchase price of the house, the cost will vary, and will be a monthly cost you can expect to pay over whatever term was agreed upon with your lender.

Home Inspection

One of the most important costs of buying a home is the home inspection fee, which is usually under $600. Since it is not technically required, some buyers will often consider skipping an inspection to save on closing costs. However, as an experienced REALTOR®, I always educate my buyers against this in order to protect their investment as much as possible. While it may seem slightly more costly upfront, the peace of mind and possible financial savings down the road are always worth it.

Inspections can reveal a wide variety of issues that may mean costly renovations or repairs in the future, which could mean thousands more dollars you weren’t expecting to have to pay. By catching them before the sale is closed, you can use these as negotiating tools with both the seller and your lender to help offset the possible costs or have repairs done before possession so you can move in worry-free.

Deposit

A deposit, while it may sound like a down payment, is actually a different cost involved in buying a house. Essentially, it is a lump sum of money that is put in trust for you as the buyer to show the seller that you will go through with the deal. Like the down payment, it is factored into the upfront payment toward the house and, therefore, not factored into your mortgage loan, so it will help to reduce your overall mortgage payments long term while also securing your purchase.

Property Appraisal

When calculating your financing, your mortgage lender may require a property appraisal to accurately assess the home’s actual value today, which typically costs around $300. This assessed value may be quite similar to the listing price, however, if it is lower than the listing price, be aware that your lender may only offer a mortgage on that value, not the price being paid in this instance. Financing is assessed on whichever value is lower: appraised value or purchase price.

Land Survey

Depending on when the last land survey was done on the home, your lender may ask for you to have one performed to accurately outline the boundaries of the property and avoid any discrepancies with neighbours later on. In the case that no large scale renovations have been done on your property or neighbouring properties within the last handful of years, the last land survey—which the seller should have—will usually be fine. However, if one is required, you can estimate an additional cost between $1,000-2,000.

Legal Fees

In order to buy a house, you will need the help of a real estate lawyer, which means that you can expect to see legal fees as a part of your closing costs. These can usually be anywhere between $500-1,000, depending on the work you need done. And while this may seem like a lot, trust me when I say you can rest assured that this is all money well-spent. Your real estate lawyer will be taking care of all the contracts and legal paperwork regarding your investment, helping to protect you against possible discrepancies that could arise in the future!

Title Transfer Fee

Where other provinces have a Land Transfer Tax, Saskatchewan simply has a Title Transfer Fee that is paid to the province for changing the registration on the property to your name. This fee will be 0.3% of the property price and will be charged at closing.

General & Provincial Sales Tax (GST/PST)

If you are purchasing a new home, General Sales Tax (GST) will apply to the purchase price of the home. Provincial Sales Tax (PST) is also applicable, but only on the value of labour and services incurred in construction. If you are purchasing a previously owned home, however, these taxes will not apply. And if you are buying a new house and do need to pay them, ask your REALTOR® about any possible new housing rebates you might qualify for! For example, Saskatchewan only recently announced a new rebate where you could receive a 42% rebate on the PST paid for possessions taking place between April 1st, 2020 and March 31st, 2023.

Mortgage Default Insurance

If you are making a down payment of less than 20%, your mortgage lender will require you to purchase mortgage default insurance, which can be anywhere between 1.75 – 2.95% of the mortgage value. This insurance helps to protect lenders in case you suddenly aren’t able to make your payments and is most often calculated into your monthly mortgage payment.

Home Insurance

Just as you would insure your car in case of an accident, home insurance is an essential part of becoming a homeowner. This insurance will help to cover damages that may happen to your property. Rates will vary depending on the home you are purchasing, and payments will need to be made monthly.

Utilities

To ensure your home has power, water, internet, and cable, you’ll need to contact your local services to set up accounts and installation times, if needed. Installation fees may be needed, and monthly charges will apply, depending on the services you want to have!

Property Tax

Property tax is payable to the local municipal government—in our case, the City of Saskatoon—and is usually calculated annually. To get a better understanding of what you can expect to pay in the future, I always recommend discussing the property taxes they have paid in the last few years. This will give you an average estimation, as well as an indication of whether they are trending up or down.

Moving Costs

If you plan on hiring a moving company, you will be responsible for paying whatever their rate may be for time and labour. However, you can also opt to handle the move yourself, but you may still need to rent a moving truck even in this case.

Some other costs you may expect to see in the process of buying a home may include the purchasing of new furniture or appliances, renovations or repairs, as well as condo fees, if they are applicable.