BuyingFinancialMarket Updates April 23, 2021

The Current Price of Lumber & Its Effect on the Real Estate Market

The coronavirus pandemic has caused problems with supply in just about every industry, not just lumber. Last summer, we saw a shortage in everything recreational, from ATVs to RV’s, batteries, and patio cushions. The computer industry is still trying to meet the demand of new home office and gaming PC needs, and doesn’t show signs of stopping. And if you’ve been considering any home renovations or woodworking project, you’re likely no stranger to the skyrocketing prices of lumber due to the higher demand. But how has this shortage of lumber affected home prices?

Home Improvements Leading to Short Supply of Lumber

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forced lockdowns resulted in closed lumber mills. Then those in lockdown started making improvements to their houses and backyards, as they looked forward to a summer stuck at home. Decks and fences were being built in record numbers as people renovated to accommodate their new work-from-home/stay-at-home lifestyles, swiftly leaving lumber mills in short supply and scrambling to catch up, leading to an increase in prices.

If you’re considering a backyard facelift this spring or summer, you can expect to pay as much as double pre-pandemic lumber pricing. And if you need to contract your work out, there again, you’ll likely pay even more, as contractors are straining to keep up with workloads.

The Shift to a Seller’s Market

If you’ve been paying attention to the real estate market in Saskatoon, you’ve no doubt noticed the shift to a seller’s market. The shortage of homes for sale has caused desperation in buyers who need to buy for many reasons. Perhaps they just sold their home to take advantage of rising prices. Or maybe low interest rates took them from being unable to afford a home to desperate to find one before their locked-in rates expire.

Whatever the reason, REALTORS®, like myself, are seeing more and more bidding wars and offering scenarios where the sellers have the upper hand. Buyers are offering at or above asking prices, causing prices to increase in every market across Canada, including Saskatoon.

The Cost of Lumber & Rising Home Prices

So how, you ask, does the cost of lumber indirectly affect rising home prices? Before COVID-19 hit, 1,000 board feet of 2’ x 4′ lengths cost approximately $550. As it stands now, that same amount costs more than $1,400. Now, take a typical 2,500 sq ft home, add in those rising lumber prices, and you are adding as much as $30K to the cost of building a new house!

Now, let’s consider a homebuyer weighing their options to build new or buy an existing home. With a new build home costing approximately $30,000 more now than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic, many are deciding to forgo building new and begin looking for an existing home for sale instead.

As we are in a seller’s market, there are not many available homes, especially in the most popular price ranges. But let’s say that they do manage to find one they would like to purchase. The scarcity of inventory right now has buyers right changing offer prices. There is no time to offer low and see what the counteroffer might be. In this market, the house will likely be sold to another buyer quite quickly. So they don’t take any chances and offer at or above asking, which is likely still a better deal than the new build they were considering.

From what we thought was a simple, short-term inventory issue to now a national crisi of rising real estate costs, this is how lumber prices affect the current home prices. So what can you do to best protect yourself as a buyer? Well, especially in a seller’s market, it is crucial to work with a local real estate professional who understands what is happening in today’s market—and that’s where I can help. Contact me today and let’s get your journey of buying a house off on the right foot today!

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!

LifestyleMarket UpdatesSeasonal Interest May 14, 2020

How COVID-19 is Affecting Saskatoon Real Estate

In the season of social distancing and staying at home, COVID-19 has impacted our economy harder than I believe any of us could have ever imagined. Stocks plummeted, gas prices reminded me of my teenage years, and travel is quickly becoming more and more of a distant memory. On the other hand, though, sports and fitness companies have seen more activity than ever and toilet paper has officially become a new currency!

With so many parts of the economy impacted in vastly different ways, it’s hard to know how every market is doing. So it only makes sense that one of the most common questions I’m getting right now is about how real estate has fared throughout all of this. And, let me tell you, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster.

COVID-19’s Impact on Saskatchewan Real Estate

While many markets across the globe have seen a drastic decrease—some even shutting down entirely—the Saskatchewan real estate market has proved remarkably more resilient. True, we did see an initial decrease in activity in the preliminary phases of the provincial shutdown, but with the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan now officially underway, the numbers continue to improve daily.

Part of Saskatchewan’s real estate resilience came particularly from the strongest start to the spring market we’ve seen in years. The March market started off with a “BOOM”, with new listings and sales busier than they have been in a long time, leading to a 7% increase in the market. Then…there was coronavirus, which slowed everything to a crawl with all the uncertainty it brought.

While the first couple weeks of pandemic pandemonium did cause about a 46% overall decrease in April, the trend did not last for too long. As restrictions slowly began easing, so did people’s wariness to continue their home search, and in the latter weeks of April we started to see the numbers going up—a trend we’re continuing to see as we move into May!

COVID-19 & Saskatoon’s Real Estate Market

While the province as a whole saw an overall decrease of about 46%, Saskatoon’s real estate market fared slightly better. In April, listings only saw a decrease of about 36%, while sales were down 34%—and both numbers continue to improve as the province continues to ease restrictions.

I believe this largely has to do with the fantastic and extensive precautions our Saskatoon REALTORS® have been doing to keep our clients safe throughout the real estate process.

How We Keep Saskatoon Real Estate Safe During COVID-19

With the privilege of being deemed an essential service since the beginning, we REALTORS® knew we had to do as much as we could to ensure we could still serve our clients to the best of our ability in the safest ways possible. Here are just some of the ways I’ve been able to pivot to provide safe real estate throughout the coronavirus pandemic so far:

Virtual Consultations allow me to still chat with you about your real estate needs and help you best define how we should move forward to achieve them.

Email Listings make it easy for me to share new listings with you as they come to market, so you never miss an opportunity, even when you may be self-isolating.

Virtual Tours & Live Open Houses are the newest ways we can show buyers your listings without them even having to set foot in your home. We can give them the opportunity to take a socially-distant tour around the house first to decide just how serious they are before requesting an in-person visit, limiting the foot traffic in your living space.

Waivers for Both Buyers and Sellers helps us to screen both parties invested in a viewing to ensure compliance with all isolation measures in place, helping to stop the spread.

Electronic Offers, Signatures, and Contracts give you the opportunity to take care of all the essential paperwork right from the comfort of your own couch!

Flexibility in Communication. I am here for you throughout your real estate journey, physically distant or not. That’s why you can always reach me by phone, email, or text, whichever is most convenient for you!

 

With the market now on an upswing and getting busier by the day, it seems the impact of the coronavirus on Saskatoon real estate is dwindling. Which means that if you’ve been thinking of buying or selling a house this year, now might just be the time to do it! Contact me today and let’s get started on reaching your real estate goals sooner.

BuyingFarm & Agriculture March 19, 2020

8 Simple Tips for Looking At Equestrian Properties for Sale

If you’ve ever fallen in love with a horse, there’s a good chance you may have found yourself Googling “equestrian properties for sale” before you even realized it. And, if you have, you may even have found a few promising properties for sale! As promising as they look, though, if you’ve never bought a horse property before, you may be understandably feeling a little lost when it comes to what you should be looking for. Be assured, though, you are not alone!

Many aspiring horse property owners like yourself will feel unsure in their real estate search. But, by simply following these 8 simple tips, buying a horse property of your very own can be a breeze!

1. Find a Knowledgeable REALTOR®

Just as you wouldn’t expect a dog-lover to possess the medical knowledge of a veterinarian, no one is expecting a horse-lover to know everything there is to know about equine real estate. That’s where a real estate agent specializing in horse properties comes into play! They will be able to guide you on your search for the perfect property for you and your horses with expert advice on the market. Plus, they will also be able to help refer you to other knowledgeable industry professionals that can help you with the rest of your property needs, from mortgages to inspections to construction!

2. Know Your Needs for the Property

Not all horse farms for sale are made equally and in order to best determine what you’re looking for in a property, you’ll need to know what you want to be able to do with it! If you’d like to be able to ride on the property, you’ll be looking for quite a few more acres than someone who may just be looking to stable a few steeds. If you are looking to train or teach, you’ll want to keep an eye out for something that may have an existing corral or the potential for one to be built. And if you’re wanting to use the property for commercial purposes, you’ll want to confirm it meets all the coding requirements.

3. Know Your Long-Term Wants for the Property

It’s easy to get stuck in the shorter-term thinking of what your needs are right now, like budget and the number of horses you currently own. But, it’s important that when looking at equestrian properties for sale, you are thinking about what your long-term goals are with the property. Do you want to be able to expand to bring on more horses? Then a small horse farm for sale might not be what you should be looking for.

4. Know Your Location

Things like paint and stable location can actually be much simpler than you think; property location, however, is permanent. You can’t pick up your new pasture and move it a few towns over when you discover that you’re too far away from work. So, when looking at horse properties, be aware of where you are looking and make sure the location fits your needs first. Will you have access to the amenities you need? Will it give you a terribly long commute? Will you have access to horse-friendly trails?

5. Look for the Right Type of Land

When buying a horse property, you are typically looking for pasture land for the horses to graze on with good drainage to prevent flooding. And if you’re looking at quite a few acres, ask the current owner about the different types of plant on the property. The last thing you’ll want to be surprised by is a horse that may have eaten a toxic plant!

6. Educate Yourself on Regulations

Before diving in too deep, make sure you take some time to inform yourself of the regulations and best practices for owning a horse property. Take a read through of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines and get a better understanding of the guidelines you’ll need to follow on your new horse farm.

7. Ask About the Water

Horses, like humans, need access to a clean and steady water supply. Ask the current owner what the water has been like in their tenure on the property and whether they’ve had any struggles with it in the past.

8. Don’t Skimp on the Inspection

Many potential property owners will often fall into the trap of thinking they can save money by skipping the property inspection. NEVER DO THIS, especially when buying farmland. Licensed inspectors are trained specifically to be able to tell you about the overall safety of the property, as well as point out any potential areas of concern that could lead to further costs in the future. They will be able to check the age and condition of any stables and fences, as well as assess the plumbing and electrical to make sure it is all up to code.

 

If buying a horse property is next on your wishlist, you can do so confidently by following these 8 tips. Ready to start your search? 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.

Selling February 6, 2020

Your Checklist for Staging Your Home to Sell

When selling your home, the goal is to make it look its best to make a fantastic first impression on potential buyers, similar to getting dressed up for a blind date. And, just like a blind date, that pressure to impress can easily have us feeling self-conscious about each and every detail, wondering exactly what we need to do to get everything in tip top shape.

If you’re selling your home and find yourself similarly self-conscious and stressed, here’s a handy checklist to keep you confident that you’ve done all you can before every showing.

#1 – Start Outside & Boost Your Curb Appeal

While it’s easy to become fixating on cleaning up all the clutter indoors, it’s important to remember that the very first impression being made on potential buyers is happening before they even cross the threshold. It happens the moment they pull up in front of a property and glance around, not just at the home itself, but the yard and surrounding area, too.

To give the best first impression, make sure to cut the grass and rake away any leaves or debris. If it’s winter, shovel and make sure to drop some salt to prevent any slippery situations. And don’t forget to pick up after your pets.

#2 – Declutter the Home & Mind

Whether you consciously notice it or not, clutter can cause us to feel stressed and that’s the last feeling you want to invoke on a potential buyer! To reduce that unconscious overwhelmed feeling, take a moment to tidy up.

  • Make sure shoes are all paired and upright

  • Hang up coats and loose clothes, and have all the hangers facing the same way

  • Tuck away mail and loose papers

  • Put toys in their place

  • Fold all the laundry

#3 – Clean the Kitchen, Sell the House

A number of studies have been done about the importance of various selling features on homes. Time and time again, kitchens have always ranked at the top, and should never be neglected when staging a house for sale. To make sure your top selling feature is looking good enough to eat in, clear off the counter and table tops and wipe them down thoroughly. And while you have that damp cloth out, don’t forget to scrub the cupboards and appliances, too!

#4 – Make the Bathroom Sparkle

The kitchen may be the number one selling feature in a home, but bathrooms are without a doubt the next on the “must-have” list when buying a house. Just as you did in the kitchen, make sure to wipe down the counters and don’t forget about the mirror and faucets. Give all the fixtures—tub, sink, and toilet—a good scrub, as well, and be sure to really get in the grooves where scum and mould can accumulate. And when everything is sparkling and shining, finish off the look with nice, clean towels folded neatly.

#5 – Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold; Make the Temperature Just Right

In the throes of a Saskatoon winter, we’re all looking to come in from the cold, and we’re more likely to linger a little longer when we’re toasty warm. And in the summer, a little cool oasis from the heat could be just the relief we need! To give potential buyers that sense of comfort that entices them to stay and look around, adjust the temperature about an hour or two before they are set to arrive!

#6 – Eliminate Odours

When we’ve been in our home for so long, we become immune to our own “scent”. In order to ensure we’re addressing every smell home buyers might not enjoy, have an unbiased third party take a whiff of your home. And if they come across any unpleasant fragrances, make sure to clean them properly, rather than just spraying some air fresheners around the room. A good wipe down of the walls and proper carpet cleaning should never be skipped!

Other Secrets to Staging Your Home to Sell

Organize Closets. While our typical houseguests might not snoop through the closets, you can expect that buyers will be taking a look to see how much storage space they will have.

Make the Beds. No, your king-sized pillow-top might not be included, but keeping it tidy and presentable will make it easier for buyers to envision themselves and their own bed in the room.

Depersonalize. Again, our goal is to get the buyer to envision themself in the space and that can be hard to do with family photos and finger paintings around that make them feel as though they are in someone else’s home.

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint. If you have time, a fresh coat of paint to cover up any scuffs or wear and tear can make a big difference. If you are changing the colour, though, keep it neutral.

Clear Off the Honey-Do List. If you’ve been putting off the simple weekend projects and repairs, now’s the time to get them done. No one wants to inherit a honey-do list from anyone but their honey.

Don’t Forget to Look Up. Without looking up, we often forget about our own ceilings. Be sure to dust them off and wipe down the tops of fans in case they turn any on.

Let in the Light. Buyers can’t fall in love with what they can’t see! Turn on the lights and open up the curtains before you leave.

 

Getting your home ready for a viewing is an essential step in setting the mood so potential buyers can fall in love. Give yourself the time to tidy up and set the stage and show them what they could have if they move on in, and make selling your home a cinch!

Buying January 9, 2020

6 Questions to Ask Before Becoming a First Time Home Buyer

You’ve heard it over and over again, “Why are you still renting? You’re just paying someone else’s mortgage!” And, while that’s technically true, making the move from tenant to owner is a huge step, and one that should never be taken lightly! If you think you’re ready to start wading into the water of being a first time home buyer in Saskatoon, here are a few questions to ask before getting started:

1. Am I Financially Ready to Become a First Time Home Buyer?

Just because you’re “paying someone else’s mortgage”, doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford to pay your own just yet! The benefit of tenancy is the option to call it quits after the conditions of your term are met; you can just wipe your hands and walk away. As a homeowner, however, you’re making a 25 year commitment not just to the purchase of the home, but the upkeep, as well!

Some of the costs you’ll need to be financially prepared for when becoming a first time home buyer include:

  • Upfront Costs: the down payment (5-20% of the purchase price), closing costs (1.5 – 4% of the purchase price), and moving costs.

  • Ongoing Costs: monthly mortgage payments, property taxes, home insurance, utilities, condo fees (if applicable), repairs, and ongoing maintenance.

If you’re not sure how to calculate all this on your own, a Mortgage Calculator can be a great tool in giving you an idea of where you stand financially!

2. Am I Going to Use a REALTOR®?

For first time home buyers there is often quite a bit of confusion around real estate agents, especially when it comes to how much they cost. Well, I’m here to clear it up for you once and for all: as a buyer, using a REALTOR® will cost you absolutely nothing at all! That’s right—whether you decide to purchase or not, a home buyer will never pay a cent to use the services of a real estate agent, which means you are getting quite the bang for your buck.

For the low, low price of FREE, here are just some of the things your REALTOR® will help you with when buying your first home:

  • Market insight and years of experience to educate you in buying a home in Saskatoon

  • Writing offers & counter offers

  • Negotiating terms on your behalf

  • Post-sale assistance, up to and beyond possession day!

 

3. Do I Need to Get Preapproved for a Mortgage?

While it’s not an essential step in the process of buying your first home, getting preapproved for a mortgage can help better define what it is you can afford and set you up with some very realistic expectations as a first time home buyer. That way, you can keep your budget in mind and prevent yourself from falling in love with that riverfront home in City Park you just can’t afford.

Similar to working with a REALTOR®, getting preapproved for a mortgage is absolutely free and relatively painless if done right with the help of a professional mortgage specialist. Not sure who to work with? Our preferred partners at RBC work right here in the office and work with home buyers and sellers of all sorts each and every day, so you can trust that they know what they are doing!

4. What Am I Looking for In My First Home?

With so many listings to choose from, it can often be entirely overwhelming to know where to even start with your home search. And while a REALTOR® can be a great help, only you will know what you need in your home. Take a moment before you start your search to narrow down the playing field a little and save yourself the hours of scrolling through listings in the future. Think about everything from space to accessibility to what’s important to you. Don’t focus on the face value—paint colours, fixtures, appliances—which can all easily be brought up to snuff on a long weekend. Instead, look at what can’t be renovated away, like the number of bedrooms and the neighbourhood.

Then, with your narrowed search criteria, your real estate agent can better define which homes to show you and which ones to steer clear of. They can even set you up to receive automatic updates on new listings that match your exact criteria, so you’ll never miss a potential perfect property!

5. Am I Buying with My Partner?

Whether you are married or not, if you are considering buying your first home with your partner, the very first thing you’ll want to do is talk. Talk about your financial histories and how you plan on managing the payments moving forward. Will you be making separate monthly mortgage payments or opening a joint bank account where payments will automatically be withdrawn? And especially if you’re not married, you’ll want to strongly consider drafting up a contract about the expectations for each of you moving forward. No one is expecting the partnership to fail, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared just in case.

6. What Financial Assistance Options Are Available to Me?

To help first time home buyers make their way into the world of real estate, the Government of Canada has actually set out quite a few fantastic options for getting your finances in order. This includes:

The First Time Home Buyer’s Incentive, which helps eligible first time home buyers with the necessary down payment to finance between 5-10% of their home purchase on a shared equity plan with the Government of Canada. This helps to lower your monthly mortgage payment, and you won’t need to worry about repaying it for 25 years or until you’re ready to sell!

The Home Buyer’s Amount is a $5000 non-refundable income tax credit for qualifying homes purchased during the calendar year. It provides up to $750 in federal tax relief, helping to alleviate the costs associated with purchasing a home.

The Home Buyer’s Plan allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 in one calendar year from your RRSPs if you are buying  a home for either yourself or a relative with a disability.

The GST/HST New Housing Rebate allows you to recover part of the GST/HST you had to pay in buying your new home, if you qualify.

Becoming a first time home buyer can be a tricky and confusing time for many Saskatoon residents, but it can also be a very exciting one, too! And by asking the right questions up front and consulting with real estate experts, you’ll be more than prepared to handle the big change in your life, as soon as you’re ready to make it happen.