Author Archives: Kevin Stokes

The Importance of an Open House

Longer days and warmer weather are great signs that spring has sprung in the Niagara region.  This time of year is also the onset of the traditionally hot NOTL real estate market and a great time to list your home if you have been thinking about it.  One of the most important tools to any home sale regardless of the time of year is the open house.

As your premier agent for all your NOTL real estate needs, here is a detailed list of the importance of open houses as a selling tool for your home.

Set Your Home Apart

An open house allows you to set your home apart from the rest of the homes on the market.  For instance, if you feel that your big backyard is a selling feature, then include it as part of the open house.  A professionally staged home will help your home stand out as will a focus on key selling features such as:

  • Any appliance upgrades.
  • Recent renovations, especially kitchen or bathroom.
  • Freshly painted interior or exterior.
  • Any unique home features such as huge windows, fruit trees, etc.

Here’s the Deal:

Open houses show more than just the house.  An open house allows interested buyers to see the neighbourhood, see what amenities and facilities are in and around your home and to envision their lifestyle not only in your home but in the community.

No Pressure

An open house is also a great way for any prospective buyers to have a look around without feeling pressured for a sale.  A buyer may not even know that they are in the market for a home such as yours until they see it and fall in love with it or certain key features.  The more low key you can make your open house, the better chances you will have of making a sale.

A Social Situation

Usually open houses attract more than one potential buyer so that awkward feel of being the only person in the home is removed.  This takes pressure off any interested party and can really bring a social vibe to an open house as agents can offer casual tours to a group rather than just one party.  This relaxed atmosphere is rarely found in any other situation other than at an open house.

An open house is an effective tool when it comes to attracting a wide range of buyers and more importantly selling your home.  If you have any other questions about open houses or are interested in listing your home on the NOTL real estate market, please contact me today.  I would love to be a part of your sales team and look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

 

 

 

Winter Selling Tips for your Home

Properly staging your home is a great way to take advantage of NOTL’s winter real estate market and beat the spring competition.  A well-staged home is sure to not only showcase and highlight your home, it will also attract a wide range of serious buyers all eager to make a deal.  As your premier agent specializing in the NOTL real estate market, here are some winter staging tips that are sure to make your home look and feel amazing.

Turn up the Thermostat

Nobody likes a cold home.  Before your next open house, be sure to turn up the heat to create a warm, inviting ambiance for interested buyers.  A warm home is not only a comfy space, it will also entice buyers to stay longer, thus increasing the odds of a sale.

Break out the Shovel

By listing your home in the winter, you may not have to focus so much on outside curb appeal, but you are going to have to ensure that all driveways, paths and other spaces are free from both snow and ice.  The last thing that you want is for potential buyers to have to wade through snow to make it to your front door.  Shoveling your driveway and paths is only part of the focus.  Lay down salt or another type of deicer to be sure that no one slips.  You don’t want a lawsuit.

Seasonal Tips

When you are staging your home for a winter sale, there are a few details that you will need to incorporate.  These include:

  • Lay down a few mats at your front door so that all the interested parties attending your open house have somewhere to put their wet shoes. You don’t want your carpets ruined because of snowy boots.
  • You will not be able to show your home with the windows open during the winter. Instead, fill your home with a seasonal scent, such as cinnamon or other warm, inviting smells.
  • Turn on all lights in your home to compensate for the lack of natural light during the winter season. An illuminated home not only showcases your home in its best light, it also gives the appearance of a bigger space.  Be sure to replace all burnt out bulbs before your open house.

Here’s the Deal:

When choosing a scent for your home, do not use air fresheners or sprays.  Not only may some guests be allergic to some of the chemicals in these artificial smells, you also don’t want prospective buyers thinking that you are trying to mask an odour in your home such as mildew or mold.

By properly staging your home this winter, you should be able to attract a wide range of serious buyers.  If you would like more information on any of these or other winter staging tips or are thinking about listing your home on the NOTL real estate market, please contact me today.  I would love to be a part of your sales team and look forward to working with you soon.

 

 

 

 

How to Get the Most Out of Your Winter Listing

Traditionally, winter may not be the ideal time to list and sell your home.  The cold, the snow, the upcoming hot spring real estate market; the reasons not to list your home are endless.  However, as your premier agent for all your NOTL real estate needs, I would like to debunk that myth and tell you why and how to take full advantage of a winter listing.

Less Competition

One of the key advantages to listing your home in the winter is that you are well ahead of the spring rat race and thus will face far less competition in the housing market.  This will not only give you a head start, but it will also allow your home to stand out from the crowd.

Seriously Motivated

The buyers who are going to put on their winter jackets and bundle up to look at open houses are not just lookie-loos but rather serious buyers who are also motivated to take advantage of the pre-spring housing market boom.  There is a wide range of reasons as to why this group of buyers is looking to purchase a home that range from:

  • January is the biggest month for relocations so there are people looking for a new home.
  • New Year resolutions have buyers looking at the New Year as a time for new beginnings.
  • Growing families and year-end bonuses or payouts.

Regardless of the reasons, the buyers attending your open houses this winter are serious and are looking to make a deal.

Here’s the Deal:

It’s never winter on the internet.  With so many potential buyers looking online to either find homes or pair down their home search, the season you decide to list is almost irrelevant in today’s real estate market.

Less Curb Appeal

Another often overlooked advantage to listing your home in the winter is that you don’t have to focus so much on curb appeal.  Instead of having a manicured lawn, weeded garden and flower beds, all you need to do is clear your driveway and walkways of snow.

If your home has a comfy fireplace and a cozy living room, take full advantage of these features during the winter months.  Likewise, if you have invested in energy efficient items such as windows, a furnace or new insulation be sure to showcase it during your open houses.

By listing your home in the winter, you should be able to take advantage of the real estate market before the spring rush begins.  If you would like more information on any of these winter listing tips or are interested in putting your home up for sale on the NOTL real estate market, please contact me today.  I look forward helping you turn that for sale sign into a sold one.

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions for Homebuyers

Put away the holiday decorations and get ready for 2020.  It is time to set those resolutions and usher in the New Year’s.  If you have been thinking about buying a new home, then set your resolutions to help you achieve this goal.  As your premier agent for all your NOTL real estate needs, I would like to share the following helpful New Year’s resolutions that will help you find your dream home in 2020.

Ready, Set, Save

Like any big purchase, it is essential to begin saving for a home.  These savings are your down payment and combined with your mortgage will be the total amount that will be used toward the purchase of your home.  The sooner you start saving, the better and the larger your down payment is, the more expensive of a home you can afford or the smaller the amount you will have to borrow.

Get Credit

Another important resolution that will go a long way when it comes time to purchase your home is to develop a strong credit rating.  A strong credit rating is essential when you are looking to get a pre-approved mortgage and it also shows the lender that you are serious and can be trusted.  The stronger your credit rating chances are the lower the interest rate attached to your mortgage.  A strong credit rating is attained by doing the following:

  • Paying off all your monthly bills on time.
  • Paying off the total amount of credit borrowed each month.
  • Never maxing out your credit limit.

Set a Budget

With a strong credit rating and a down payment, the next step is to approach a wide range of lenders and get a pre-approved mortgage.  This amount will depend upon a wide range of variables, but it will give you a better indication of what type of property you can afford.  Try to go with the lender who will give you the lowest interest rate as you will have to pay back the entire amount.

Start Searching

Your down payment and your pre-approved mortgage amount will give you a good indication of the price range of homes that you should be looking at.  When you are viewing homes, be sure to consider your immediate needs as well as your future needs and try to find a home that fits both.  Be sure to find a real estate agent to help you with finding that perfect home as they will be able to show you properties that you may have never considered.

These simple yet effective New Year’s resolutions will have you on the right homebuying track.  If you would like more information on any of these resolutions or are interested in viewing some of the new and exciting properties available in and around the NOTL area, please contact me today.  I would love to help you find your dream home this year.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Happy New Year’s from Niagara Homes

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the Holidays in NOTL

The holiday season is one of the most magical times of the year in the NOTL region.  There are so many great choices, amazing activities and festivals to attend that you may want to start clearing your calendar now.  As the premier agent for all your NOTL real estate needs, I would like to highlight some of this year’s can’t miss holiday fun.

Winter Festival of Lights

Perhaps the most spectacular of all the holiday festivals in the Niagara region is the Winter Festival of Lights. Be sure to circle your calendar and capture this magical display of the holidays at Queen Victoria Park and throughout Niagara Falls (November 16, 2019-January 12, 2020).  Some of this year’s featured illuminations include:

  • Dufferin Islands – get out and explore some family favourite illuminations on these walking trails.
  • Toronto Power Generating Station – Watch as this historic structure comes to life as it is illuminated by a spectacular light and sound show.
  • Floral Showhouse – Head inside to this popular holiday tradition to see a full array of Christmas flowers such as poinsettias and azaleas.

Santa Clause Parade

Kick off the holidays with the ever popular Santa Clause Parade on November 16th  at 11 am. This free community event enjoys over 100 entries and begins on Victoria Avenue and travels north towards Queen Street.  After the parade, bring the children down to City Hall to meet Santa Clause.  Be sure to be a part of this popular Niagara event.

Outdoor Christmas Market

Get all your Christmas shopping done early at the Pelham Outdoor Christmas Market.  With a wide selection of arts, crafts and traditional Christmas foods, this is the perfect place to celebrate the romance and spirit of Christmas.  Mark your calendar for Friday, Dec. 6 and be the first in line at the Pelham Outdoor Christmas Market.

Holiday Winery Tours

A true NOTL holiday celebration is not complete without a tour of your favourite local winery or a gift basket for that special someone that includes one or more bottles of VQA wine.  See what dates are available in your holiday calendar and contact one of the local wineries to see when they are offering tours and what those tours offer.  Some of my favourite local wineries and a brief overview of each can be found in the following link:

https://www.niagara-homes.ca/wineries-in-the-niagara-on-the-lake-area/

These are just some of the exciting holiday celebrations that are taking place in and around the NOTL region.  If you would like more information on any of these can’t miss holiday festivities or would like to see some of the new and exciting real estate options that are available in the NOTL area, please contact me today.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Happy Holidays from Bosely Real Estate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Estate Terms every Home Buyer should know

Buying a home should be an exciting event, not a stressful and confusing time.  With so many different factors attached to the purchase process, many home buyers seem overwhelmed and even unsure.  As your premier agent specializing in NOTL real estate, I would like to share the following key real estate terms that will help you better understand all the facets of the home buying process and give you ownership from start to finish.

Key Real Estate Terms

Appraisal – An assessment of the value of a property that is based on a variety of factors, including similar home prices in the neighbourhood.

Closing – A final meeting where ownership of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer.  Typically, the buyer, seller and both real estate agents attend the closing.

Closing Costs – A set of fees attached to the purchase of a property.  These are due before ownership is transferred.  Costs include all lawyers’ fees, title searches and home inspections. These fees are anywhere from 1% – 3% of the property’s original purchase price.

Days on Market – The number of days a specific property has been listed on the real estate market.

Escrow – A time period (30 days or more) after an offer has been accepted by the seller.  During the time in escrow, the property is inspected and appraised.

Foreclosure – A property that has been repossessed by the bank because the owner has defaulted on their mortgage payments.

Gentrification – Renewal and rehabilitation projects in an urban area that changes the demographics.  These areas typically see property values rise.

Home Inspection – An inspection of the various systems of a property (pipes, structure and electrical etc.).  This inspection takes place when the home is in escrow.

Homeowners’ Insurance – A policy that protects the owner’s contents, belongings and structure of the home.

Listing Price – The price of the property set by the seller.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – A database used by real estate agents that lists homes for sale.

Property Taxes – A tax that is based upon the value of the property. This tax is a municipal one that helps fund services such as sewer, water and garbage collection.

Walkthrough – The final inspection of a property done before the final closing date.

Key Purchasing Terms

Down Payment – A percentage of a homes’ purchase price that the buyer must pay.  A down payment is not part of the mortgage.

Equity – The percentage of the home’s overall value that the homeowner has paid off. The bank (lender) owns the rest.

Interest Rate – The cost attached to borrowing money (the mortgage).  The interest rate of a mortgage is set by the lender.

Mortgage – The type of loan that is used to secure payment of a home.  A mortgage is paid off over a specific period through set payments.

Mortgage Broker – A lender who works for the buyer to secure a loan (mortgage) either through a bank or another lending institution.

Pre-Approval – The total amount of money (mortgage) the buyer is approved for.  This amount is based upon the borrower’s credit score, their assets and the borrower’s income.

Principal – The outstanding balance of the loan (mortgage).  With each payment, the mortgage’s principal is reduced.

By understanding the language associated with purchasing a home, you will be able to be an active agent throughout the entire process. If you have any questions or would like clarification on any of these terms, please call or stop by.  I would love to help you find your perfect home and have a large inventory of exciting real estate options available in the NOTL region.  I look forward to working with you soon.

 

Is Summer a Good Time to Buy a Property in NOTL?

Summer is not only the best season in NOTL, it is also a great time to buy your dream home.  With so much to see and do, it is hard to believe that you can fit house shopping into your summer schedule – however, buying a home in the summer does have many advantages.  As your premier agent specializing in NOTL real estate, I would like to share the following tips to help you buy that perfect home this summer.

More Choice

Summertime means choices.  One of the key advantages of buying a home in the summer is the increased inventory.  This increased selection of homes can be attributed to the following factors:

  • Nicer weather and longer days mean more potential buyers are looking at homes.
  • A more flexible schedule with less events means more free time to view homes.
  • A mutual interest by both sellers and buyers to move their belongings during the warm dry weather.

The summer months are the perfect time to buy your home.  With all the extra inventory you should be able to find the home that meets and even exceeds everything that you are looking for.

Are you Ready?

Added inventory and warmer weather means more competition on the NOTL real estate market.  Before beginning your house hunting activities, make sure that you have been pre-approved for your mortgage.  Once you find that perfect home, you will want to move fast and put in an offer.  By moving quickly and having a pre-approved mortgage, you should be able to beat the competition and avoid the dreaded bidding war.

Count the Days

When putting in an offer on a home, it is a wise idea to look at how many days that specific property has been on the market.  If the home has been on the market for over 60 days, chances are the seller is going to be willing to negotiate.  By paying attention to this number, you may be able to land your dream house at a deep discount.

Go with the Right Agent

The right real estate agent can make all the difference in the world.  When choosing an agent, be sure that they have years of experience and are knowledgeable of not only the area and its neighbourhoods but with any quirks in the local market.  The right real estate agent should not only be able to help you find your dream home this summer, they should also be able to help you get you a fair deal as well.

These tips should help you buy your NOTL dream home.  If you would like other tips on buying a home this summer or would like to see some of the new and exciting properties that are available in NOTL please contact me today. I would love to help you find your perfect home this summer.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

Tips for buying a Home in this Hot Spring Market

The added selection of homes available, coupled with sellers eager to make a deal makes NOTL’s spring real estate market the perfect time to buy your dream home.  With the large selection of homes comes added competition, so being prepared is important.  As the premier real estate agent for your NOTL real estate needs, I would like to offer you the following helpful tips on how to beat the competition and find your perfect home this spring.

Prepare

With the added chaos of the spring real estate market being properly prepared is key.  By being thoroughly prepared, you will be able to find your home and be one step ahead of the competition at all times.  Being prepared for NOTL’s spring real estate market can be broken own into the following three areas.

Ask for a Loan

Before starting your house search, take the time to go to your local banks and lenders to see for how much you will be pre-approved.  A pre-approved mortgage will give you an idea of the maximum price range you can afford.  This will help you narrow down your search and allow you to start making viewing appointments on houses that are in your price range.

Set your Criteria

Make sure that you know what is important to you before you start looking.  Make a list that includes all the factors that you want in your dream home.

Remember:

Your list needs to be realistic and flexible because you may have to make some compromises.

Besides the number of bedrooms or bathrooms in a home, don’t forget to include other criteria such as:

  • The distance of that home from your work and how long the commute is going to be.
  • Neighbourhood features such as parks, schools and even local grocery stores or restaurants.
  • The overall walkability score of the property as well as any nearby green space.
  • Any potential development in and around that home.

Make an Offer

Once you have found a home that is in your price range and meets the criteria you are looking for, be prepared to make a reasonable offer.  The faster you put in an offer, the better your chances are of landing your dream home.  The competitiveness of the spring real estate market does not give you the added luxury of thinking about a property.  There are other buyers who are also looking, so the longer you take to make an offer, the more opportunity you are giving other buyers to make an offer – so act quickly.

These tips should help you buy your perfect home this spring.  If you are interested in other helpful tips on buying a home in the competitive spring real estate market or would like to view some of the new and exciting homes that are available in NOTL, please contact me today.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

 

Tips for Hosting a Home Selling Open House

An open house will not only attract a wide range of interested buyers, it will also generate awareness in your home, and in many cases sell your home faster.  As the premier agent for all your NOTL real estate needs, I would like to share the following tips on how you can make your next open house a success.

Run a Successful Advertising Campaign

An effective advertising campaign will guarantee that your next open house is full of interested buyers.  The key to successful advertising is using a wide range of different mediums to get the word out.  These include:

  • Word of mouth – start spreading the word in your social circles that you are hosting an open house.
  • Social media – use your Facebook and Twitter account to advertise your open house throughout your media social circles.
  • Online – advertise your open house on a wide range of realty websites and include the dates on your online listing profile.
  • Canvas the neighbourhood – put up flyers around your neighbourhood that include the date, time and location of your next open house. You may be surprised at the amount of interest and foot traffic this type of advertising offers.

Prepare Your Home

Everyone knows the importance of a well-staged and properly cleaned home.  Some of the other attention to details that will make for a successful open house include:

  • Let in all the light you can by opening blinds and curtains and turning on all the lights in your house.
  • Don’t be afraid to add an extra touch such as a table centerpiece or a vase full of flowers in the kitchen or the bathroom.
  • Move the cars out of your driveway and try to keep the street parking in front of your home open for interested buyers. This convenience will be appreciated by open house visitors.

A Parting Gift

A great way to have your open house stand out among others is to provide visitors with a coloured brochure that highlights some of your home’s key selling features.  This will provide interested home buyers with a visual checklist and keep your home fresh in their mind.  Other points that you may want to include in your brochure include:

  • Your home’s square footage.
  • Any renovations or restorations that you or a contractor may have performed.
  • The year and, if applicable, the builder of your home.

These tips will ensure that your next open house brings in a wide range of potential buyers and will generate interest in your property.  If you would like other tips on how to host a successful open house or have thought about listing your home on the NOTL real estate market, please contact me today.  I would love to be a part of your sales team and help you turn that for sale sign into a sold sign.  I look forward to working with you soon.

 

Get your Fireplace Ready for Winter

A warm fire is a great way to stay cozy this winter.  Not only does a fire provide a certain ambiance, it is also a great way to heat your home on the coldest of days. Regardless of what type of fireplace you have, proper maintenance and upkeep is important to ensure your family’s safety.  As the premier agent for all your NOTL real estate needs, I would like to share the following ways to get your fireplace ready for the winter.

Wood Burning

A wood burning fireplace or stove is a great way to keep your heating bills down this winter and keep your house warm and inviting.  Before starting your first fire, however, there are a few important upkeep and maintenance issues that you will need to address.

Your main concern is creosote. This buildup is responsible for over 25,000 chimney fires annually and is a real safety concern in any home that uses wood heat.  Hire a professional to properly clean your chimney and remove this dangerous material.

Some of the more simple maintenance tasks that you can do at home include:

  • Cleaning the ashes out of the bottom of your fireplace or stove. This will create a better and hotter burning fire.
  • Check the doors for proper seals and look for any smoke leaking through these seals.
  • Inspect the damper to ensure that it opens and closes freely.

Remember:

A well-maintained and properly cleaned chimney and fireplace will not only allow you to enjoy a warm home this winter, it will also keep you and your family safe.

Natural Gas

Gas fireplaces are in many ways more convenient and more efficient than wood burning fireplaces.  Like wood, proper maintenance is an important step for gas burning fireplaces.  They need to be inspected and cleaned on an annual basis.

Hire a professional technician to inspect the ignition system and pilot light, to ensure that the venting and dampers are in proper working order.  They will also test and inspect all fittings and connections and clean the chimney if it is a part of the venting system.

Other maintenance tasks that you should perform at home include:

  • Vacuum and clean out the bottom of the gas fireplace to remove any debris or cobwebs that may plug or interfere with the gas vents.
  • Wipe down the fireplace logs to remove any dust or other flammable material.
  • Check the doors for a proper seal as well as all fittings and connections for any sign (or smell) of leaking gas.

Here’s the deal:

If you smell gas at any time, shut off your fireplace and immediately call a professional so that they can diagnose and fix the problem or leak.

These simple tips will have your fireplace ready for the winter and allow you to enjoy a safe and enjoyable source of heat.  If you would like any other tips on how to get your fireplace ready for the winter or are interested in some of the new and exciting real estate options available in NOTL, please contact me today.