Category Archives: Blog

Preparing Your Home for Summer

The warm days, the festivals and activities that abound in and around Niagara make summer a special time in the region.  You will definitely want to take advantage of all that Niagara on the Lake has to offer and want as much free time as possible to do so.  As the premier agent for Niagara on the Lake real estate, I would like to offer you the following tips on how to get your home ready for the summer so that your focus can be on the many exciting venues in the area and not on mundane housework and upkeep.

Indoors:

Air Conditioning Maintenance

Nothing will ruin your summer faster than a broken air conditioner.  Before the dog days of summer arrive, make sure that you get your air conditioner properly serviced to ensure that it is in good working order.  It is also advisable that you do the following maintenance:

  • Flush out the lines with a cup of bleach to keep them from getting plugged or clogged.
  • Clean or replace your unit’s filters.
  • Trim or remove all vegetation such as shrubs from around the outside portion of your unit. This will allow your air conditioner to properly breathe and not overheat.

Check Your Ceiling Fans

If your ceiling fans have a directional switch, make sure that the fan blades are spinning in a counterclockwise position.  This will allow the airflow to be pushed downwards rather than upwards and help cool your home.

The Right Thermostat

Consider replacing your traditional thermostat with a “smart” version.  A “smart” thermostat will not only save you money on your monthly energy bills, it will also allow you to cool your home more effectively and efficiently.  With a “smart” thermostat, you can divert air to rooms that are occupied and increase the air conditioning during the warmest parts of the day.

Outdoors:

Green up your Lawn

It is never a bad idea to re-seed your lawn.  A well seeded lawn not only is aesthetically pleasing it is also a healthier lawn and will keep weeds at bay.  Less weeding means more time for you to enjoy the summer.

Here’s the deal:

When reseeding your lawn, do not forget to put down a thin layer of topsoil to protect the grass seed.  Keep your lawn well irrigated for up to 2 weeks to ensure proper seeding.

Mower Maintenance

Once you have re-seeded your lawn, you will want to ensure that all your yard equipment and tools are in fine working order.  Before mowing your lawn, be sure to:

  • Change the oil in your lawnmower.
  • Check and clean or replace your mower’s spark plug.
  • Clean or replace the air filter in your mower.
  • Sharpen your lawnmower’s blade.
  • Check your other yard equipment to make sure that it is in safe working condition.

This quick list of preparation tips will have your home ready for summer in no time.  A well-prepared home will allow you to spend more time enjoying the summer and less time doing household chores.  If you would like any more summer home preparation tips or are interested in some of the new and exciting real estate opportunities that abound in Niagara on the Lake, please contact me today.

 

 

How to Set a Renovation Budget

One of the fastest ways to increase the value of your home or to attract buyers is a home renovation. That’s the easy part, the hard part is setting a budget for your renovation and not going over it.  As the premier real estate agent for Niagara on the Lake, here are some tips on how to set a proper renovation budget and stick to it.

Understanding Percentages

A quick way to estimate and set a rough budget is to look at your renovation as a percentage of the total value of your home.

For example:

A kitchen generally accounts for anywhere from 10% to 15% of your overall property value.  If your home is worth $300 000, then your renovation budget should be below $45 000.

Here’s the Deal:

Kitchen renovations generally offer one of the lowest returns on your overall investment.  For every dollar that you spend your average return rate is 50 cents.  The highest rate of return on a renovation is a mid-range bathroom remodel.

Loan Options

Once you have made up your mind on the type of renovation you want and have estimated what it is going to cost, the next step is looking at various loan options.

  • Line of Credit – This can be a great way to pay for renovations and is quickly accessible. Talk to your bank about their interest rates on a line of credit and if you qualify.
  • Home Equity Loan – Often called a second mortgage. A home equity loan allows you to borrow a certain percentage of your home’s overall value.
  • Refinancing – Depending upon your current interest rate, you may want to think about refinancing your mortgage at either a lower rate or for a longer term allowing you to save for your renovation.

Regardless of what type of financing you choose, plan to give yourself a 10 – 15% cushion on your original estimate, this will allow for cost overruns or unforeseen expenses.

Shop Around

Take the time to talk to a wide range of contractors and make sure to get quotes. Be very specific about what you want done in your renovation and make sure that all the details, including the type of materials that are to be used are included in your quote.   Make sure to ask a lot of questions about the overall timeframe for the job, what type of insurance they provide and references from past clients.

Stick to the Game Plan

Although it may be tempting to add small remodeling jobs onto the planned renovation, try to refrain.  The fastest way to overspend on your renovation budget is by changing your mind or the initial renovation part way through.  If possible, stick to the original plan and quote.

A renovation can breathe new life into any room in your home.  It is also one of the most effective ways to increase your home’s value.  By setting a renovation budget and sticking to it, you should be able to enjoy your new home without breaking the bank.  If you would like more information about setting a renovation budget or how to take advantage of the red-hot summer real estate market here in Niagara, please call me today.

 

 

 

Cosmetic Improvements for your Home’s Exterior

 

Regardless of whether you are listing your home this summer or not, improving the exterior of your home is never a bad thing.  Chances are portions of your home’s exterior have been neglected and could use some attention.  If you want to take advantage of the red-hot Niagara on the Lake summer real estate market, then an appealing exterior is one of the best ways to attract potential buyers and get full market value for your home.

As the premier Niagara on the Lake real estate agent, I would like to share with you the following tips on how you can make the exterior of your home more appealing.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

Perhaps the best way to improve your home is to give it a fresh coat of paint.  A freshly painted house gives the appearance of a home that is well cared for and makes any prospective buyer want to take a closer look; meaning a showing and even a potential sale.

If your home cannot be painted or you do not want to invest the time and money into this task, another option is to paint the front door.  If you really want to make a statement, choose a bold colour such as turquoise, yellow or bright red.  If you are looking for more of a sophisticated look, go with the standard white, grey or black.

Here’s the Deal:

A newly painted home also allows a potential buyer to cross that job off their to do list, which will free up money and time and make your home even more appealing.

Update the Patio Furniture

You can never go wrong with updated patio furniture.  Not only does new furniture make your home look more attractive, you also get to keep that furniture and enjoy it in your new home, so it is essentially a win-win situation.

This summer’s patio furniture trends:

  • Oversized, modern chairs and table silhouettes.
  • A citrus colour pallet with plenty of green tones.
  • Matching streamlined furniture sets to reflect your home’s unique patio and exterior.

Add to the ambiance of your new patio furniture with garden boxes, hanging flower pots, bright citrus throw cushions and blankets as well as trellises and planters.

Add Exterior Accessories

Adding some eye-catching exterior bling will make your home more appealing to a home buyer.  Additions such as trendy bronze or chrome house numbers will make any home shine.  Exterior home lighting is another thing that a potential buyer is looking for.  Outdoor lighting can highlight your home’s landscaping or new coat of paint.

A few added touches to the exterior of your home can go a long way on the Niagara housing market.  If you have been thinking about listing your home or would like more information on how to make the exterior of your home more appealing to prospective buyers, please contact me today.  I would love to be a part of your sales team.  I look forward to working with you soon.

 

 

 

3 Do’s and Don’ts for your Listing Photos

All successful real estate sales have a strong online listing portfolio. In today’s market, so many buyers find their potential homes strictly through online marketing, so your listing photos are of the utmost importance.  As the premier real estate agent for Niagara on the Lake, I would like to offer you the following do’s and don’ts when it comes to listing photographs.

  1. Do: Include Outdoor Photos

The gorgeous yards in and around the Niagara region are part of the allure and draw for any potential homeowner.  To give a prospective buyer a complete picture of your home, make sure that you include photographs of your yard and the exterior of the home in your listing portfolio.

  1. Don’t: Use Crooked Photos

When you are taking these pictures, double check that your roof is parallel with the camera’s frame.  You do not want a house that is sitting at an angle in your listing photos.  Other pitfalls to avoid when taking outdoor photos include:

  • Don’t have cars, trees or bushes impeding the view of your home and yard.
  • Mow the grass before taking pictures of your lawn.
  • Trim and prune all bushes, shrubs and trees so that your yard looks cared for.
  1. Do: Use a Bird’s-eye View

Many of the homes in Niagara have large yards, estates or water views.  I recommend that you include a bird’s eye view picture of your home to encompass any of these selling features.  If your home is located on or near water, the bird’s-eye view photo should allow any potential buyer to see where your home is in relation to the water.

  1. Don’t: Use a Fish-eye

Some people feel that a fish-eye lens makes small spaces look bigger.  This is simply not the case.  What a fish-eye lens does is it distorts the image and can make the image seem smaller.  If you are looking to create the illusion of space in a small room use a traditional camera lens and design tricks or different photograph angles.

  1. Do: Play up the Season

Pay attention to the season in which you have decided to sell your home.  Your listing pictures should play to that season and include subtle seasonal hints.  For example, if you are listing during the summer, include sunny photos of your backyard.  You may also want to use seasonal throws, blankets and pillows to give that added touch to your listing portfolio.

  1. Don’t: Overplay the Holiday Décor

Make sure that your seasonal décor does not dominate your listing photos, especially if you are putting your house on the market over the holidays.  No one wants to see how you celebrate Christmas in all of your listing pictures.

Here’s the Deal:

Make sure that all your listing pictures are eye-catching and showcase the openness of your home.  You want your listing portfolio to show off the lifestyle that your home offers, while at the same time allowing a buyer to envision themselves in your space.

These simple do’s and don’ts for listing photos will allow you to build a strong online marketing portfolio and have your home stand out from the competition.  If you would like more help on how to take great listing photographs or are interested in selling your Niagara home, please call me today.

A Spring Cleaning Checklist for Your Home

The trees in bloom mixed with the warm weather and longer days make spring in Niagara a special time.  Spring is also a great time to get to those cleaning tasks that you have been putting off.  Make sure to take full advantage of this season and give your home a proper spring cleaning.

As the premier Niagara on the Lake realtor, I would like to offer you this spring cleaning checklist.

Kitchen

Your kitchen may be the busiest room in your home and is always in need of a thorough cleaning.

Remember:

A proper spring cleaning addresses more than your usual weekly clean.

Here are some cleaning suggestions for your kitchen.

  • Clean the inside and outside of your refrigerator and freezer. Make sure to wipe out the drawers and discard any freezer burnt food.
  • Polish the stainless steel in your kitchen. Use the proper cleaner to remove fingerprints and smudges, so that your stainless steel sparkles.
  • Degrease and clean the elements on the stove.
  • Clean your oven.
  • Wash and vacuum cabinets, drawers and shelving in the kitchen.
  • Mop the floors and scrub down the counters and island tops.

Bathroom

Once you have finished in the kitchen, shift your attention to your bathroom.  Keep in mind that you want to do a deep cleaning of this room, so take your time and be thorough.

  • Scrub the toilet, sinks, faucet and bathtub with the proper cleaners and a disinfectant.
  • Polish and clean the walls, ceiling and floor.
  • Clean the mirrors and windows in the bathroom.
  • Scrub tile surfaces with the proper cleaners as well as an anti-mold cleaning agent.
  • Clean the shower doors and apply a waterproof agent such as Rain X to prevent any water streaking or soap scum from sticking to the doors.
  • Wash rugs and towels or cloths in the bathroom.

Bedroom, Family Room and Living Room

Typically, your bedroom and living rooms are tidied weekly, if not daily (especially if you have young children) so these rooms should be relatively easy to clean.

  • Dust surfaces including ceiling fans, bookcases and shelves.
  • Vacuum and steam clean carpets, if applicable
  • Vacuum and steam clean upholstery.
  • Wash linens, throw pillows and bedding.

 

The Entire House

There are other cleaning jobs that may not apply directly to the previously mentioned rooms, but are important pieces included in a thorough spring cleaning.  These include:

  • Sweep and mop floors in your home. Apply a sealant or protective layer to flooring when you are mopping.
  • Remove and wash window screens in your home with warm water and a gentle detergent.
  • Wipe down walls and baseboards with warm water and a gentle detergent. Dry with a soft, clean towel.

These cleaning suggestions will have your home looking like new in no time.  A spring cleaning is not only an important aspect of a clean and healthy living space, it is also a great head start if you have been thinking about putting your home on the real estate market.  A clean home is a great first step when it comes to showing your home and ultimately selling it.  If you would like to know more about how to take advantage of the red-hot Niagara on the Lake real estate market, contact me today.

 

 

 

Tips for Buying in the Spring

Typically, the spring season offers buyers a larger choice and selection of homes, so if you have been looking to get into the Niagara on the Lake real estate market, now is the time.  I would like to share the following tips that will find you your Niagara dream home this spring.

Find the Right Real Estate Agent

When you are looking for that perfect home, it is so important that you find a neighbourhood specialist.  A great understanding of the local real estate market and knowledge of the town and its distinct neighbourhoods cannot be over-stated.  Make sure that your real estate agent:

  • Specializes in the area and has sold other homes similar to what that you are looking to buy.
  • Is well respected and liked by other real estate agents – this will open up a large number of properties to you.
  • Has a great sales record can be recommended by other buyers.
  • Is friendly, professional and hardworking.

Get Pre-approved

Before you decide to go house hunting, sit down with a local bank or lender and see how much you will be pre-approved for.  There is nothing more frustrating when you find your perfect home only to find out that it is too far out of your price range.

Find a mortgage number that you are comfortable with and make sure to not over extend yourself, so that you are house poor.  You want to enjoy your new home, not be stressed out each month by trying to make a payment that you can barely afford.

Be Prepared

Although the spring real estate market brings a larger choice and selection of homes, it can also bring a wider group of potential buyers, which translates into a more competitive market.  Make sure that if you find a property that you like, you are prepared to put in an offer and are prepared to pay list price for that home.  Try not to get hung up on the asking price, but rather focus on what the home is worth to you.

Here’s the Deal:

If you find your dream house at a price that you can afford it will not matter if you pay a few thousand dollars more or less for that home over the course of 25 years.

Focus on the Home

When you are buying a home, make sure to focus on the home and not the sale or the owner.  It is of no importance whether the home is a foreclosure, a short sale or being sold by the original owner.  Rather focus on the location of the home and how that home will serve your needs.

Niagara on the Lake spring real estate market is the perfect time and place for you to find your dream home.  If you would like to see some of the new listings that are available or are interested in living in the Niagara on the Lake area, contact me today.

 

 

5 Tips for Selling Your Home in the New Year

Now that the holiday season is behind us and you have made all of your 2018 New Year’s resolutions, it is time to get back into a routine and begin to plan for the months ahead.  If part of your 2018 includes selling your home, we at Niagara on the Lake Realty would like to offer you these important tips that can ensure a quick sale at a high price.

Find the Right Agent

The most important part of selling your home is finding the right real estate agent.  Some of the qualities that you will want in your agent include:

  • Honest and hard working.
  • Has intimate knowledge of the area and understands the local housing market.
  • Is flexible and always has your best interests in mind.
  • Understands the internet and how to use this as a selling and marketing tool to attract a wide range of potential buyers.

Set a Date

Once you have found the right agent, it is time to sit down with them and plan when you want to put your home on the market, when your open houses will be and when you would like to have your home sold by.  This process may become even more important and complicated if you are buying a new home at the same time.

Remember:

The more planning and time you give yourself, the less stressful the entire home selling process will be, so make sure to include a very flexible timeline in your selling plans.

Repair and Replace

Now that you have a firm date in mind and have found the perfect real estate agent, it is time to look at the overall condition of your home and see if anything needs to be repaired or replaced.

Here’s the Deal:

It is important that before you show your home, you have everything in perfect working order.  In the real estate world the old adage is true – you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

A poor showing can hurt your bottom line and keep your home on the market longer than you may like.

Less is more

While you are fixing and replacing any broken or well-worn items in your home, make sure to also de-clutter and organize your belongings.  The one positive about moving and selling your home is that it gives you the opportunity to take stock on what you need and what you either can give away, throw away or sell.

A well organized and de-cluttered home is also important when it comes to showing your home.  Buyers want to see open-spaces and have the opportunity to envision where their personal belongings will fit into these spaces.  A cluttered home will not only impede this process, it may also slow down the overall selling process.

Stage It to Sell

After you have organized your belongings, it is time to stage your home to sell it.  Make sure to remove personal items from each room and put all non-essential items and belongings either in storage or pack them away for your impending move.

If you would like any help or advice with staging, I would love to help.

By following these New Year’s home selling tips, you should be able to sell your home quickly and at a high price.  If you would like to see other comparable homes on the Niagara on the Lake real estate market or would like to see how I can help sell your home, please contact me today.

 

 

Tips for Winterizing your Home

Although the first official day of winter is still a few weeks away, everyone can agree that the winter season is underway.  It is time to get out the wool, scarves, gloves and toques and put those winter tires on your car.  It is also time to turn up the thermostat in your home, and unless your home has been properly winterized, this could mean huge costs in heating and wasted energy.

As the premier real estate agent for Niagara on the Lake, I would like to share the following tips on how you can thoroughly winterize your home and keep heating costs down.

Check for Drafts

Drafts can waste anywhere from 5% – 30% of your home’s heat and can quickly chill even the warmest rooms.  Before the first cold snap, take your time and thoroughly check your home for drafts.  The most common places where drafts can be found are:

  • Under doors
  • Around window frames
  • Around the foundations of your home

Fortunately, drafts are quite easily fixed.  For drafts around windows or in window frames, consider using either weather stripping or if the window is not used or in an out of the way spot, consider taping it over with a clear plastic film.

For drafts under doors or between foundations, place towels or rolled up material to stop the incoming cold air.  You can also think about using a door sweep to provide a more permanent fixture for drafts under doors; especially if you use that door quite often.

Tune-up your Heating System

Just like your car, your furnace will need some maintenance from time to time.  A properly maintained furnace can save you up to 5% in heating costs.  To get your furnace running smoothly it may just need a new filter so have a look.  Remember, a quick filter replacement or an annual furnace maintenance is a lot cheaper than having to replace your furnace.

Remember:

If you do have to replace your heating system, look for an energy efficient model and apply for the tax credits that are offered.

Check your Thermostat

If you do not have a programmable thermostat, now is the time.  A digital, programmable thermostat can save you anywhere from 1% – 3% on your annual heating bill.  The thermostat will pay for itself in the first year alone, so why not make the switch?

By going to a programmable thermostat, you can regulate the heat in individual rooms and only heat the rooms that are being used for the time that those rooms are being used.

Winter in Niagara on the Lake

Winter in Niagara on the Lake is a special time of year and you want a cozy, warm and comfortable home to enjoy all that this season has to offer.  If you would like any other strategies on how to winterize your home or would like to see some of the exciting new properties that are available, please feel free to contact me.  I would love to show you why winter is one of my favourite seasons in Niagara on the Lake.

 

Preparing Your Home for the Fall

Fall is one of the most spectacular season in Niagara on the Lake.  The colours of the leaves combined with beautiful sunny weather and crisp mornings all make fall a special time of year.  Fall is also a great time to take advantage of the mild temperatures and do some much needed prep work on your home.

Here are some tips from the premier Niagara on the Lake realty team to help get your home in tip-top shape this fall.

Outdoors

Many of the fall preparations that should be done to your home are on the exterior.  Make sure to pick a few gorgeous, warm fall days, head outside and get your home fall ready.

Your focus should be on the eavestroughs and gutters.  It is important that these are free of leaves and other debris to allow for proper drainage.  Clogged gutters can quickly lead to pooling water, flooding or water damage, so make sure they are thoroughly cleaned as to avoid them plugging with the first big fall storm.

While you are up on your ladder inspecting and cleaning your gutters, take the time to inspect your roof as well.

Here are some tips on what you will want to look for while you are up there:

  • Inspect all of the shingles on your roof and make sure none are curling or broken. Usually, shingles should last anywhere from 15-20 years before needing replacement, but it is a good idea to inspect them annually.
  • Look at the flashing between the gutters and shingles to make sure that it is uniform and flat with no damaged pieces. Proper flashing means a watertight seal between your roof and gutters.
  • Take the time to look at all seals and caulking around any vents on your roof. If the sealing looks damaged, replace it.

Finally, get out and rake your yard.  Not only do fallen leaves and other debris look unsightly, they can also pose a safety risk as well as a flooding problem if they clog storm sewers.  Dispose of the leaves in proper recycling bags.

Indoors

Not all of your home’s fall preparation is outside.  There are some very important jobs to do to prepare the interior of your home for fall and the upcoming winter months.

The most important indoor fall preparation tip involves weatherproofing all windows and doors in your home.  Improperly sealed windows and doors are the number one energy waster.  You will want to stop all cold air from entering your home before the chill of winter arrives.

Make sure to inspect the weather stripping on all doors and windows.  If the weather stripping is cracked or brittle, replace it.  Make sure that the new weather stripping is thick enough to provide a proper seal.

Here’s the deal:

For doors, sometime weather stripping isn’t enough, in this case, consider using a door sweep to seal the space at the bottom of the door and keep out that cold weather.

It is also a good idea to ensure that your smoke alarms as well as your carbon monoxide detector are working properly.  Replace any faulty alarms or replace the batteries as needed.

Niagara on the Lake in the Fall

Just one look outside your window or a drive through the picturesque scenery in and around Niagara on the Lake will show you what a special time fall really is in the area and why the region is such a coveted place to call home.  If you would like to see any of the gorgeous homes that are for sale in the area, please call today.  I would love to show you Niagara on the Lake in the fall.

Happy family with agent realtor near new house.

Millennials: The Next Generation of Home Buyers

The largest percentage of home buyers these days are Millennials.  This is a new generation of couples and families who are looking for features and qualities in homes that are quite different than your traditional home buyer.  To make your home more appealing to this large audience, Niagara on the Lake Realty would like to offer the following guidelines to show you what Millennials are looking for in a home.

It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts

The traditional home buyer loved to think of all the possibilities in a potential home.  A new coat of paint, a quick interior redecoration, or perhaps even a renovation, were all part of the home buying process.

Well, with Millennials all of that is out the window.  Millennials are looking for a move-in ready home.  They have no interest in renovating or changing the colours on the wall.  To make your home more appealing to the Millennial set, I highly recommend that you show your home with a fresh coat of paint and a move-in ready look.

In addition to a move-in ready home, Millennials are looking for a modern feel to their home.  This means an open concept floor plan.  Believe it or not the two most important rooms to Millennials are the bathroom and the kitchen.

Besides an open-concept layout in the kitchen, other modern features that appeal to the Millennial set include:

  • Granite counter tops.
  • Stainless steel appliances and fixtures.
  • A kitchen island.
  • Sleek looking cabinetry.

Here’s the deal:

If you have been thinking about a renovation in your home, I suggest that you spend your money in either the kitchen or the bathroom.  Not only will these changes attract a new set of clients to your next open house, they may also increase the final sale price of your home.

Go Online

A strong online profile is another key to attracting Millennial buyers.  More than 90% of home buyers start their home search online.  This means that without a strong online home profile, you will be missing out on a huge percentage of possible buyers.

Make sure that your online portfolio includes bright, clear photos of your home as well as a brief video of your home that showcases each room in your house.  The entire rationale behind a strong online profile is to bring people to the next open house or to arrange private showings.

Location, Location, Location

The location of a home can be more important than either the modernity, square footage or even the home’s layout.  Many Millennials are looking for homes with access to green spaces, parks and high walkability scores.  Make sure to feature your home’s proximity to major landmarks such as community centres, downtown and trails to peak interest in your home.

Luckily, Niagara on the Lake is one of the most spectacular places in the province and its location is a huge selling feature.  If you would like more information about any of the listings in this special part of Ontario, please contact me today.  I look forward to working with you soon.