June 21, 2017
Going “Green” in Your Garden or Flower Bed
 There has been a lot of emphasis lately on the importance of “going green”. That simply means being environmentally-responsible. You likely already recycle, use energy-efficient lights, and turn down your thermostat when no one is home.
 
Yet, most of us don’t think about the garden or flower bed when we “think green”. 
 
We should. Here are a few practical things you can do to tend to outdoor plants — without negatively impacting the environment.
 
• Pull weeds instead of using a weed killer. 
 
• Avoid strong pesticides. (Products that target only one or two types of insects tend to be less harsh.)
 
• Don’t use flower bed ornaments (i.e. gnomes) that might bleed colour dye into the soil. (Ask your garden centre before you buy.)
 
• Be careful not to leave hand spades, trowels, and other garden tools lying around, especially over winter. They can rust, which contaminates the soil.
 
These tips may seem minor, but if you want to be environmentally conscious, every little bit helps!
 
 
June 13, 2017
Handling a New Home Problem on Moving Day
 Imagine buying a product from a store, taking it home, and then discovering there’s a problem with it. Disappointing, yes, but not a catastrophe. You can simply take it back for repair or exchange.
 But, what if it’s moving day, and you discover there’s a problem with your new home? Whoa. A house isn’t so easily returned! 
 
What are the most common problems encountered on moving day? 
 • A delay in getting the keys.
 • The seller not having completely moved out.
 • An item expected to be included with the property is missing. (For example, the window blinds.)
 • Something needs repair that was not disclosed by the seller, nor did it come up during inspection. (For example, the dishwasher not working.)
 • Damage to the property caused by the seller. (For example, a heavy item dropped during the move and cracking a floor tile.)
 Fortunately, these are rare events. In most cases, you can expect no serious issues when you move into your new home.
 But, if something is wrong, you have options. So, call me immediately. In all likelihood, I will be able to quickly resolve the issue. 
 If it’s a serious matter, such as missing items, I may get your real estate lawyer involved to arrange for the return of the item(s) or compensation.
 So don’t worry. Let the professionals handle it. You can just enjoy your new home!
 
 
May30, 2017
Does Your Home Insurance Cover Everything?
 When you suffer damage to, (or the loss of), your home or its contents, you expect your insurance company to help you out. And, most do a good job of doing just that. 
 
Still, it’s a good idea to review your policy with your insurance advisor and find out what’s covered and what isn’t. You don’t want to discover that your policy will not cover the cost of repairing the damage caused by a flood in your laundry room.
 
Pay particular attention to coverage in the case of water damage. Some insurance policies don’t cover floods and sewer backup unless an additional rider is purchased.
 
Also, check liability limits. Ask your advisor to recommend an appropriate level. Finally, make sure you know exactly how much your home is insured for. Are you covered for the full replacement cost? Are you comfortable with that coverage or the actual cash value?
 
Having the right insurance gives you peace-of-mind and is an important part of enjoying your home. 
 
Keep in mind that experts advise you to review your insurance with your advisor. Ask lots of questions. Make sure you understand your coverage fully. 
 
By the way, if you’re looking for an insurance advisor, I’m well-connected in the local “home” industry. I may be able to give you a couple of names of good, reputable professionals. Give me a call.
  

May 15,2017
Buying Your Dream Home in a Hot Market
 
Imagine finding the perfect home, only to discover there is serious interest from at least a dozen other buyers. It’s like scrambling for the last piece of cake at a buffet!
 
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help get the home you want, even in a highly competitive market. Here are just a few ideas:
 
• Only view a few ideal properties at a time. If you see too many, and thus spread yourself too thin, you risk homes slipping through your fingers.
 
• Be realistic about price. Focus on finding a great home that you can afford, rather than trying to find a bargain.
 
• Consider homes that need some work. They get less interest than perfectly staged properties, yet can turn out to be a dream home.
 
• Be prepared to make an offer with as few conditions as possible. An offer conditional on passing inspection is usually fine, but in a competitive situation, offers with other conditions will likely be turned down flat.
 
• Make your decisions quickly. If there are likely to be other interested buyers, you want to get your offer in early. 
 
• Make the right offer. To win the deal, you want your offer to be as enticing as possible to the seller — especially when it comes to price.
 
Yes, it can be tough finding an ideal home in a hot market, but I can help. Give me a call and I’ll show you how. 
 
April 19, 2017
Getting Friends to Spread the Word about Your Listing
 
When you list your home for sale, you want as many buyers as possible to find out about it. So consider how many friends, neighbours and work colleagues you have. Then think about how many people they know. 
 
The number is likely in the hundreds. One of those people could be looking for a property just like yours.
 
That’s why getting your friends to spread the word about your listing is so effective. How do you do that?
 
One strategy is to have a moving party. This gives you an opportunity to ask your friends, as a group, to tell others about your listing. 
 
You can also encourage your friends to bring a guest who is currently in the market for a new home. 
 
Another good idea is to put a profile of your listing on Facebook. This is the fastest and most convenient way for your Facebook friends to point others to your listing.
 
Do you have friends who work at larger organizations like banks and factories? They probably have access to an employee lunch room with a bulletin board. You can spread the word by asking them to put up an information sheet on your listing.
 
Try one or more of these ideas. Combined with my marketing plan for you, they can help get more qualified buyers to your doorstep.
 
Want more tips on promoting your listing? Call today.
 

February 24, 2017

How to Cut Your Electricity Bill in Half

 You don’t have to freeze in the winter or start reading by candlelight to reduce your electricity bill. There are many simple ways to use less power with little, if any, impact on your lifestyle.
 
A good place to start is with your electronics. 
 
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “Any gizmo that has a clock, digital timer, remote control or standby mode is sucking energy when it's not being used (it's called 'phantom electricity' — and it's scary how much of it there is).” So keep them unplugged as much as possible. Also, unplug charger cords for phone and computers when not in use. Even when not connected to the device, they still suck power.
 
Another easy change to make involves your lights. Switching to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED light bulbs can save you a lot of energy. They’re 75% more efficient.
 
Finally, the old-fashioned method of insulating doors and windows can work wonders for lowering your electricity bill. In fact, some particularly drafty homes can lose up to 40% of their heat. Check for drafts regularly and repair or replace insulation as needed.
 
None of these ideas will impact your day-to-day living. Yet, they could potentially save you a bundle.
 
 
January 31, 2017

Making an Offer in a Competitive Market
 
Imagine finding a home you love, making an offer, and then finding out there are other competing offers on the table. Ouch.
 
If you’re looking for a property in a competitive market, it is likely that there will be multiple offers. Even just one can create the risk that you’ll lose the home. So how do you make sure your offer is enticing enough to win over the buyer? Here are some ideas:
 
• Don’t make a low-ball offer. If you do, it might be dismissed and you probably won’t get another chance to bid — especially if the other competing offers are near the listing price.
 
• Have a pre-arranged mortgage and include that with your offer. This reassures the buyer there won’t be any money issues. (Most lenders will provide you with a pre-arranged mortgage certificate for this purpose.)
 
• Go in with a price high enough that the buyer will be interested, but not so high as to be leaving money on the table. This is tricky and requires a savvy knowledge of the current market.
 
• Have a REALTOR® present the offer on your behalf. A REALTOR® will know how to do so professionally, and in a manner that gives you the best chance of getting the home.
 
In a competitive situation, working with a REALTOR® who is an expert on the local market — and a skilled negotiator — is crucial.
 
Looking for a REALTOR® like that? Call today.

January 9, 2017

Will an Open House Help Sell your Home?
 
You’ve probably seen signs around the area for Open Houses. You may have even attended a few. These are open invitations for potential buyers to drop by on a certain day and time, to check out the property and get more information.
 
When you’re listing your home for sale, you might wonder whether you’ll need to have an Open House.
 
To answer that question, you’ll need to consider the pros and cons. Planning and hosting an open house isn’t as easy as it may seem. There’s a lot of preparation involved. In addition, you’ll likely spend hours making your property look its best and you’ll need to be away from your home for a good part of that day.
 
That being said, an Open House has many advantages. 
 
• It helps showcase features of your property that may not come across well in advertisements and listing descriptions.
 
• It attracts potential buyers who, for any number of reasons, might not otherwise call to view the home.
 
• It generates a buzz and publicity about your listing.
 
However, an Open House might not be necessary if there is high demand for properties like yours and you’re likely to get multiple offers.
 
 
November 29, 2016

Knock, Knock. How to Avoid Door-to-Door Scams

 It’s early in the evening and there’s a knock on the door. You answer and are greeted by an official-looking man who claims he needs to see your utility bill to confirm you’re getting your energy rebate.  Do you let him in?  While he may be legitimate, he may also be using deception to sell you something you don’t want. Here are some suggestions for finding out: • Ask for a business card. Then, check if it has an address, phone number and website. If the salesperson refuses or just shows you his ID card (which anyone can fake), that’s a red flag. • Ask for the name of his employer. Sometimes salespeople will say they “represent the phone company”. That doesn’t mean they actually work for it. • Ask if you can call his company to confirm details before buying. If he refuses, or says the office is closed, shut the door. • Ask if you can consider the offer and call the office the next day to place your order.  • If you’re really suspicious, ask him to come back later. Then, call the non-emergency police number. Police are aware of common scams in the area. Most importantly, use your common sense. Door-to-door salespeople can be pretty persuasive, but if something doesn’t seem right to you, trust your gut. Say, “No thanks.” Of course, if everything checks out with the salesperson, and the offer is a good one, consider taking advantage of it.
 
 
November 15, 2016

Are You Ready to Buy Up?

 No matter how much you love your current property, you may be dreaming of the day you can buy up into a better home in a better neighbourhood.  Is that day today, or, is it a few years down the road?  Here’s a quick way to make that assessment. First, make a list of all the practical reasons why it might be time to move up. Those reasons might include features such as: more bedrooms, proximity to work and school, a larger backyard with trees, nearby parks and walking paths and better access to things you enjoy like theatre. Next, make a list of the emotional reasons for making such a move. Those reasons might include memorable get-togethers with friends on a more spacious deck, an easier and less stressful commute to work, more family time with the kids and enjoyable Saturday golf at a nearby course. Finally, take a financial snapshot to determine if you can afford to move up. You’ll need to get a good idea of what your current property will sell for in today’s market, average price of homes in your desired neighbourhood, and how much mortgage you’ll need.  Once you have all that down on paper, you’ll have a clear picture of your readiness. If the practical and emotional reasons for buying up are compelling, and you can afford to make the move, then you have your answer.  The time is now! By the way, if you need help in making this determination – especially figuring out what your home will likely sell for, call today.
 
 
October 11, 2016
Selling a Home in a Crowded Market
 When you’re about to sell your home, it may be disheartening to see so many other properties for sale in your neighbourhood. You may be thinking, “That’s a lot of competition! Will our property get noticed?”
 Fortunately, there are many proven strategies for standing out in a sea of For Sale signs.
 First of all, keep in mind that many home purchasers come from the REALTOR’S personal network of buyers who want to move into your area. So, choosing the right REALTOR® is crucial.
 Second, remember that when there are other properties for sale on your street, curb appeal becomes even more important. There are many simple things you can do to make your property look great to those driving around looking at homes. Make sure your property looks as picture perfect as possible.
 In a competitive market, it’s also more important than ever to highlight features of your home that are unique and enticing. If, for example, you have a large backyard deck and brand new hardwood flooring, make sure these are mentioned prominently on the feature sheet.
 Finally, be as flexible as you can be when scheduling viewings and open houses. Don’t forget that other listed properties in your neighbourhood draw in buyers, who may notice your home. It’s not uncommon for a buyer to view a property and then scout the neighbourhood. So, you want buyers to be able to see your home on short notice and at a convenient time for them. If there are several other nearby properties for sale, it means things are hot from a real estate point of view. You want to roll out the red carpet to buyers.
 Looking for help selling your home quickly and for the best price? Call today! 

September 13, 2016
Creating a Pantry, when You Don’t Have One!  A pantry is the ideal nook for storing extra food and other items ordinarily crammed into the kitchen. It’s also a nice design feature, as it harkens back to the days of country kitchens with spacious pantries.  You might be thinking, “That’s nice, but our home doesn’t have a pantry.”  That’s okay. These days, there are many ways to create a pantry in your home – even if it doesn’t have one! Here are just a few suggestions:  • Add shelves to the laundry room. If you have the space, this is the ideal place to create a mini-pantry.  • Purchase a portable pantry. There are many available on the market. Some are even disguised as cabinets you’d expect to see in living and dining rooms.   • Purchase a movable pantry. These units are on wheels and can slide in and out of the kitchen with ease. Some are short enough to slide conveniently under a kitchen table.  • Make use of an unused closet. These are rare in most homes, but if you have a closet that isn’t being used, it can easily be converted into a pantry.  As you can see, there are plenty of options available. You don’t necessarily need to build an extra room!  

September 6, 2016
When it Comes to Offers, it’s Not Always about Price  When considering which of two or more competing offers to accept for your home, there is no doubt price plays a huge role. After all, if Offer #1 is $10,000 higher than Offer #2, that’s an enticing difference that puts thousands of extra dollars in your pocket.  However, price isn’t the only thing you should think about when comparing multiple offers. There are other factors you need to consider as well.  For example, what conditions are in the offer? If Offer #1 is conditional upon the buyer selling his current property for a specific amount, then what if that doesn’t happen? You could end up with an offer that dies and be forced to list your home all over again.  In that circumstance, accepting the lower offer may be your best move.   There’s also financing to consider. Most buyers will attach a certificate from their mortgage lender to show that they can afford the home and will likely secure financing with little difficulty. If you get an offer where the ability of the buyer to get financing is in doubt, that’s a red flag.  The closing date is another important factor. Offer #1 might propose a closing date that’s perfect for you, while Offer #2 is four weeks later. If you’ve already purchased another home, you might require a month of bridge financing if you accept Offer #2. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but the costs and additional hassle are factors you should consider.  As you can see, assessing competing offers isn’t as easy as it looks. Fortunately, as your REALTOR®, I will guide you toward making the right decision.  

August 2016
How Much Time Should You Spend Viewing Homes? Figuring out how much time you should spend viewing properties for sale is a little like asking, “How long should I spend trying on shoes?” The answer seems obvious: As long as it takes to make a decision! Buying a home is significantly more complex than purchasing shoes – and the stakes are higher too! You need to make sure you have all the information necessary to confidently make the best decision.  There are basically three stages to viewing a property:  1. Macro 2. Micro 3. Professional When you view a home on a macro basis, you’re looking at it from an overall perspective. For example, you may do a general walk-through to get a first impression and determine if the property has the basic features you need, such as the number of bedrooms and the size of the backyard. Macro viewing is often the fastest stage in the viewing process and can sometimes take just a few minutes. If you like what you see, then it’s onto the micro stage. At this stage you take a closer look at the details of the property. You might, for example, spend extra time in the master bedroom imagining how your furniture would look and fit.  The micro stage takes longer simply because the home is now on your shortlist. You’re interested and are considering making an offer.  Finally, the professional stage involves getting a qualified home inspector to go over the property with a fine tooth comb. That typically occurs after you’ve made an offer. As your REALTOR®, I will guide you through a viewing so you’ll know what to look for and can make a smart, informed decision. Call today. 
July 2016
Finding the List Price “Tipping Points” 
Setting the right list price for a home is a mystery for many sellers. How do you begin to determine what buyers are likely to pay for your property? After all, no two homes are exactly alike.  Yet, setting the right price is crucial. You need to avoid the two price “tipping points” that, if crossed, can cause you a lot of problems.  The first tipping point is a price that’s low enough for buyers to begin thinking something is wrong. They wonder, “Why is your price so low? What are you not telling us about your property?”  But that’s not even the worst problem with this tipping point. If you do get offers at that low price, you’ll have a bigger issue – leaving thousands of dollars on the table.   The other tipping point is setting your price so high it discourages buyers from giving your listing a second look. When your price is that high, you’ll get few enquiries and even fewer people coming to see your property.  Of course, you can lower your price later, if necessary. But experience shows that reduced prices make potential buyers skeptical. Most sellers who price high in the hopes of getting a windfall actually end up selling for much less than they would have if they had priced their properties correctly in the first place.  So what’s the right price to list your property? The answer is somewhere in between those two tipping points.  Call today for help determining the right price for your property.  

June 2016
Not-So-Obvious Reasons to Meet with a REALTOR® 
When is the best time to meet with a REALTOR® like me? Chances are, you would say, “When I’m thinking of buying or selling a home.” You’d be right, of course!  
However, there are many other good reasons to meet with me. Here are just a few: 
• You want a professional opinion as to the current value of your property, so you know what it would likely sell for in today’s market. 
• You notice a home listed for sale in a desirable neighbourhood, and you’re interested in learning more — even if you’re unsure you want to make a move. 
• You’re thinking of moving within the next couple of years, and you want to find a REALTOR® like me, that you can get to know and trust. 
• You want some recommendations for preparing your home for sale and especially determining what repairs and other work needs to be done. 
• You want an honest assessment as to the state of the local market, and the best time for you to buy or sell. 
• You have real estate-related questions and you want to talk to an expert who knows the local market well and can provide you with answers.  
As you can see, there’s a lot of value you can get from talking to me as your REALTOR®. Call today

Janine Bergen
Janine Bergen
REALTOR®