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Following these simple steps will reduce the chances of your car becoming the victim of vandalism or theft:

  • Park your car in a place that is well lit.  It might be helpful to install a motion detector security light and point it towards your vehicle…they are very effective and reasonably priced.  Back your car into the driveway, it makes anyone vandalizing your car visible to anyone who drives past.
  •  Avoid parking your vehicle in dark areas or near trees or fences, which provide hiding places for thieves.
  •  If possible, park your vehicle in the garage.  Make sure the garage is locked at night.
  •  When leaving your vehicle, make sure the visible interior is empty.  Lock parcels and other valuables in the trunk.
  •  Never leave your vehicle running and unattended, even with the car locked.
  •  Always shut windows tightly and lock all doors.
  •  Don’t leave a set of keys in the vehicle and don’t mark your keys with personal identification or your vehicle’s licence plate number.
  •  Don’t leave your vehicle registration in the car.
  •  Get to know your neighbours.  If you haven’t met any of the people who live by you, now’s the time to do so.  Frequently, people see suspicious activity taking place but fail to report it.  Reduce the risk of that apathy by being friendly with those who live in your community.  Someone who knows you is far more likely to pick up the phone and call you when they spot someone vandalizing your vehicle.

Make it as hard and time-consuming as possible for a thief to break into or steal your vehicle.  This may not always deter a criminal, but thieves usually pick quick and easy targets.

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Often when we talk about reducing energy costs involving appliances, we are specifically referring to the energy efficiency of the specific model.  Whether you have high efficiency appliances or not, there are several things you can do to lower your energy usage:

Stoves:

  • Use flat bottom pans for greater contact with your burner
  • Use lids to conserve heat and to decrease cooking time
  • Turn down the burner once the liquid has boiled

Ovens:

  • Defrost your food before baking to cut energy use by one third
  • Don’t preheat your oven if the cooking time is more than one hour
  • Use your cooking timer and window instead of opening the door.  Each time you open the door, 20% of the heat escapes
  • Never line your oven with aluminum foil.  It can reduce hot air flow, lower the inside temperature or block a vent.  Use a cookie sheet to catch drips and spills instead.
  • Make sure the seals and hinges on your oven fit tightly and don’t leak heat

Washer:

  • Wash full loads only, but don’t overload your machine
  • Adjust water levels to suit your load size
  • Use cold water:  85 – 90% of energy used to wash clothes goes to heating the water

Dryer:

  • Put heavy items through a longer spin cycle in the washer to get rid of extra moisture
  • Clean your dryer lint filter with every drying load
  • Make sure the flapper in the exhaust moves freely and remove any lint build-up
  • Hang your clothes to dry outside 0 they will last longer and smell fresher

Hot Water Tank:

  • Insulate the first two metres of the hot water pipe and one metre of the cold water pipe leading from your hot water tank.  Keep the insulation 15 centimetres away from your water heaters draft hood.
  • Once a year, drain 4 litred of water from the valve at the bottom of your tank to remove any sediment that may collect over time
  • Keep your hot water tank at 54 degrees Celsius to save energy and avoid scalds

Saving Hot Water Throughout The House:

  • Fix dripping faucets right away.  Hot water that drips for a month could add up to 3600 litres
  • Install aerators on your taps
  • Don’t run water continously when hand washing dishes
  • Wait until your dishwasher is full before running a cycle
  • Lower the hot water tank temperature when you are on vacation
  • Open your dishwasher’s door to let dishes air dry instead of using the drying cycle
  • Don’t leave your hot water running while you shave or your cold water running while you brush your teeth
  • Install low-flow shower heads
  • Take showers instead of baths, as they use much less energy

Heating Costs:

  • Use a programmable thermostat to adjust yout home’s temperature around your schedule.  Focus on reducing your temperatures when you are at work and at night
  • Install a thermostat with a zoning system to stop heating areas of your home that you aren’t using
  • Try do-it-yourself zone heating by closing doors and heating vents in rooms that are rarely used

Improve Air Circulation:

  • Keep curtains and furniture away from your heating vents
  • Circulate heat with the use of electric ceiling fans
  • Keep your basement reasonable warm, the heat will rise
  • Close your chimney damper when not using your fireplace
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When you are selling your house, the first thing to look at is the strength of the martket.  The strength of the market will determine whether or not you can sell in a short period of time which frees you up to buy your next home.  If the market is not as strong, you should sell your home before purchasing your next.

The alternative is to buy your next home on the condition of selling your current property.  The disadvantage of this is that most sellers do not want to accept this condition and quite often you end up paying more for the house than you normally would.  The reason for this is that this condition is like an insurance policy.  If you don’t end up selling your house within the condition period, you are able to back out of the purchase agreement without losing your deposit.

My advice right now is to sell your home first, and purchase another home only once yours has sold firm.  We currently are seeing a good balance between the number of buyers and the number of available listings.  The strongest part of the market is currently with the starter to mid-price home.

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When it comes to pools, there seems to be as many advantages as there are disadvantages.  So, when people ask me about owning a pool, it really comes down to personal preferences.  Here is a small lost of advantages and disadvantages that could help you in deciding whether or not to put one in.

Advantages:

  1. Owning a swimming pool is like being on a permanent vacation
  2. There’s nothing better on a hot day than to go for a swim
  3. It’s a great way to have the family come together and bond (around the pool)
  4. Most kids just love to swim.  The memories created will have a lifelong impact on them and that’s what they will always think of when summer arrives
  5. For some of those who suffer from arthritis or sore joints, the pool offers comfort and helps with rehabilitation of the muscles.  Make sure you consult your doctor to ensure this would be right for you
  6. Swimming is a great workout

Disadvantages:

  1. Cost is substantial depending on the type of pool you get.  The range is obviously wide depending on if you want an above ground or an inground, heated or not heated, big or small, etc
  2. When you go to resell your home, it may turn buyers away.  Some people in the market to purchase a house don’t want a pool, therefore, they would not pursue your home
  3. The return on your investment is between 5 and 40%, depending on age, size and quality of the pool
  4. Maintenance of the pool could also be a concern.  Keeping track of the water quality, water temperature, skimming depris and general maintenance of the accessories could be both time consuming and costly
  5. What do you do with the pool once it’s past its life expectancy?  You could dig it up, fill it in, if it’s below ground, but all are costly
  6. Children must be supervised at all times.  This means having enough adults present to ensure everyone is safe.
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This is one thing that you, the seller, have the most impact on.  It’s important to point out that these items should be done prior to listing your house and it’s also important to maintain these items until the house has sold. 

The following are a list of things to do just prior to having a scheduled showing.

Spot Clean-Up:

You will want to make sure that everything is put away and cleaned up.  This means all the kid’s toys go back into the toy boxes, all the dishes are put away, countertops are clear of extra items leaving about 70% of the countertop visible, carpets and floors free of debris and any pet droppings in the backyard are picked up.

Smell Of The House:

This is something that potential buyers are going to notice as soon as they walk into your home.  Ideally, you don’t want any strong smells.  Smells to watch out for are items like cigarette smoke, animal urine or the smell of animals in general.  Strong smelling foods like fish and garlic, powerful smelling candles and grabages that needs changing are also things to watch out for.  Smells that would have a positive impact on the showing would be smells such as freshly baked desserts, the soft scent of a candle, lemon cleaning products and odour neutralizers.

Avoid Distractions For Buyers:

There are actually several things that could distract the buyer’s attention away from your home.  For me, the most frequent thing would be pets.  I suggest to my clients to remove the pets, if possible.  For those buyers that love animals, their natural instinct is to play with them.  For those who dislike animals, they could lose interest in the home knowing that animals have lived there.  The other large distraction is children’s toys.  If the toys aren’t put away, the buyer’s children will gravitate to them; which forces the parents to focus more on their children than on the house.

Store Valuables In A Safe Place:

By removing any items of value, you remove any temptation from potentially dishonest buyers.  Some items to be more cautious of are things that could easily fit into someone’s pocket.  Fortunately, missing items are a rarity but you should never let your guard down.

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1.  There are 2 buyer visits in the purchase agreement – when do they happen?

One of the buyer visits would happen somewhere between the purchase date, and the second would happen just prior to closing.  Also note:  The buyers of your property aren’t expecting it to be in tip-top shape.  They understand that you are moving and that the house will be cluttered.

2.  Who sends the necessary documents to the lawyers and mortgage brokers?

I offer to forward all documentation to the appropriate parties on behalf of my clients.  This way, all of the appropriate documents are sent in a timely fashion.  Anything that I can do to remove the stress off of my client, I am happy to do. 

3.  How long does my “For Sale” sign stay up?

I normally leave the “For Sale” sign up right until the closing date.  However, it is completely up to my client how long they want it to stay up for.  It is absolutely 100% an advertising benefit on my part to have it stay up for as long as possible. 

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With the feel of fall in the air, it’s time to think about getting your home ready for cooler weather.  Much of the routine maintenance that needs to be done this time of year will not only help keep you cozy this winter, it will also help to save money on your heating bills and protect your biggest investment – your home.

While most of these routine maintenance tasks are fairly simple, make sure they are completed before the cold weather arrives to prevent damage to both your home and your wallet.

Seal Up Cracks And Gaps: 

If you added up all the small cracks, gaps and holes around the outside of the average home, it would equal the area of an open window!  To reduce the loss of heat, carefully inspect the perimeter of your home and caulk or weather strip where needed.  Both caulking and weather stripping can reduce the flow of cold air in and warm are out – lowering your energy costs substantially.

Inspect Your Roof: 

Check your roof for signs of minor damage such as missing, broken, cracked or curling shingles, as well as bare spots where granular coating has worn off.  Be sure to make the necessary minor repairs now to prevent further damage.  When moisture is able to seep up under loose or damages shingles, far more extensive damage can occur.  For extensive repairs, consider having a professional perform the work.  However, if you are fairly handy and are comfortable climbing a ladder, you should be able to take care of most minor repairs.

Clean And Repair Gutters:

Dirty, clogged gutters can cause a myraid of problems during the winter months, including flooded basements and damage to your foundation and landscaping.  To clean, simply remove all debris so that water can properly drain and consider installing gutters guards to prevent additional debris from building up.

Fertilize Your Lawn: 

Fall is a great time to fertilize your lawn as it provides grass with the nutrients required for the winter when the top layer of grass is dormant but the root systems continue to grow.  During this period, roots easily absorb and store the nutrients a good fertilizer will provide and fall fertilizing will also help your lawn “green up” faster in early spring.

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1. Keep It Green:   Harsh summer heat can up the ante when it comes to caring for your lawn.  Make sure to keep it watered and fertilized!  Also, be sure to make it a point to check your local by-laws for seasonal watering restrictions,

2. Fire It Up:  Get a head start for the upcoming winter and clean out your wood-burning fireplace and chimney.  You’ll have one less winter tast to attend to!  For gas fireplaces, make sure the fireplace is cool, turn off the electrical switch and turn off the gas valve.  Take the glass off its hinges and clean the glass with a non-abrasive cleaner with a soft cloth.  Remove the log set from the fireplace and vacuum the log set along with the inside of the firebox.  Set the log back inside the firebox.  Hang the glass back on its hinges.  Wipe off any fingerprints from the glass.  You can turn the gas and the electrisity back on and light the pilot light at this point.  Some people prefer to leave the fireplace turned off for the summer as it will omit a fait amount of heat.  Please note:  If you leave the pilot light off, it may be difficult to turn back on when you are ready to do so.

3.  Carpet Care:  Now’s the perfect time to have your carpets professionally cleaned, which will protect your carpet and make it last even longer.  What to save  a few bucks?  Rent a quality carpet cleaner and do it yourself!

4.  Touch-Ups:  Inspect your home – inside and out- and touch up any paint where necessary.  This can be done quickly and easily, and will prevent future peeling.  Note:  If your paint has been on the walls for a couple of years, the paint may be faded.  If the paint does not exactly match the paint you have on the walls, I would recommend a full re-paint.  In my years of experience, I can tell you that there is nothing worse than a bad touch-up job.

5.  Lock And Key:  Check all of the locks on your windows and doors and ensure that everything is working properly.  Being proactive about safety is always a smart move!

6.  Oil It:  Anything squeaking?  Add a squirt of WD-40 or a similar product to door, cabinet and window hinges to keep them in top working order.

7.  Park The Car:  If your garage is filling up with an abundance of stored items, take a day to reorganize and get rid of unwanted clutter.  Give your unneeded items to charity, or have a fun summer yard sale!

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When it comes to keeping your home comfortable in the summer, these area  number of ways to accomplishyour goal without breaking a sweat over your cooling costs.  Believe it or not, the price of heating and/or cooling a home often accounts for more than 50 percent of a homeowner’s energy bill.  What does this mean for you?  As a budget conscious individual, it’s time to cut your cooling costs with these money-saving tips.

Sun BlockWhen the sun is up, consider pulling your shades down.  Close your curtains, blinds or whatever window treatments you use to keep the sun’s rays from heating up your home.  This will help to keep the interior of your home cool, which can help to cut your energy costs by not making your air conditioner work harder simply because the sun is causing excess heat.  Solar screens for your windows and a radiant paint barrier for your attic are effective ways to block much of the sun’s UV rays.

Coolness Counts

If you use an air conditioner to cool your home, make sure that you adjust the temperature when you leave the house.  Otherwise, you are just wasting energy on a home when no one is there.  Additionally, you can also turn the unit down at night when the temperatures typically tend to cool off.  This is true whether you are using a window unit for an individual room or a central system that’s used to cool the entire home.

Maintaining Your Cooling Unit

It’s important to clean your filters and/or replace them as recommended by the manufacturer.  In addition to possibly resulting in dust and other allergens being circulated into the air, neglecting your filters could prevent the cool air from properly getting into your home.  Have your air duct work inspected on a regular basis for leaks and clogs to insure your system operates at peak performance.

Keep The Air Moving

Not every summer day is a hot one, which means you can often take advantage of the temperatures by using a standard fan instead of your air conditioner.  The latter uses a great deal more energy than a fan, so consider your needs on a daily basis when choosing how to cool your home.  You can install a ceiling fan for added air circulation, or you can use a standard rotating fan.

Cut Back On Cooking

Your kitchen oven can heat up your home in a hurry, which can make your air conditioner work harder to keep your house cool.  This, in turn, results in higher cooling costs.  Instead of using the oven, consider popping something in the microwave or on the outdoor grill for a change.  While this may not be possible every day, it’s certainly something to consider on those sweltering summer afternoons.

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Recently the federal government announced some changes affecting the qualifications for people looking for mortgages. The rules are aimed at further protecting the banks as well as Buyers from getting in over their heads. These changes ensure we will not get into the same kind of situation that the United States got into.

There were 3 main changes and they are as follows:Mortgage Changes

  1. Buyers will be approved based on the bank’s posted rate as opposed to the actual rate they qualify for. For example, if the bank’s posted rate is 4.5%, and the mortgage you qualify for is at a rate of 3.5%, your approval will be based on the banks posted rate of 4.5%.
  2. For people looking for secondary properties such as rental properties, cottages, vacation homes etc., you may be required to have at least 20% down to qualify for the mortgage. Call me for more details.
  3. Once mortgages are up for renewal, a lot of people refinance their home. In an effort to reduce debt on credit cards, car payments or other loans, some people bundle these up and pay them off using the equity in their home. In this situation you can now only refinance up to 90% of the value of the home.

Clarification

One of the expected changes that many thought were coming was the percentage that a buyer needed to put down on a property. The current amount is 5% and that number has not increased. The other three changes were sufficient enough to help protect all parties involved.

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