As you probably know, it's easy to lower the costs of a renovation. Just hire an inexpensive, fly-by-night contractor — and hope for the best!
Chances are, you won't want to take that risk. So how do you ensure you get quality work while keeping your budget in check?
Here are some tips:
• Get estimates from at least three contractors. Often prices can vary widely, even amongst contractors with similar reputations and experience.
• Narrow the project focus. If you're getting a bathroom renovated, for example, decide whether you need the contractor to paint the new walls. Can you do that yourself?
• Shop around for the building materials. Yes, contractors often have access to wholesale prices. Still, you might be able to find a bathtub and vanity at a lower cost or at least avoid any markup the contractor may charge.
• Negotiate. Sometimes a contractor is willing to lower the price for concessions, such as quick payments or more time to complete the job.
• Schedule the renovation during a low-demand season. For example, deck contractors charge more in the spring than the fall. It's supply and demand. More people want their decks done in the spring.
Keep in mind that spending a little more for a skilled and reputable contractor can save you money in the long run. The renovation will have fewer, if any, "issues" (that may require an expensive fix) and will last longer.
If it’s been a while since you last moved, you might be wondering how much you'll need to spend on your next home. That's an important question to answer, even if you're just at the "thinking about it" stage and haven't decided whether or not you'll look for a new property.
After all, knowing your budget might influence your decision.
How should you determine your budget?
The first step is to calculate the maximum you can spend. This involves adding the money you'll get from the sale of your current property after repaying your outstanding mortgage, to any other funds you have available to invest plus the maximum amount of mortgage you qualify to receive.
Of course, just because you may qualify for a large mortgage doesn't mean you want those bigger payments. So, the second step is to think about your needs. What features are a must in your next home? For example, you might want four bedrooms and anything less would be a deal-breaker.
Make a "must-have list". That list can by used to find a baseline of properties on the market — and then find their average asking price. This will give you an idea of what it would cost to find a home that meets your must-have list.
The third step is to go beyond needs and consider the features you want. These might not be deal-breakers, but you'd sure love to have them in your next home. They could be a large deck, a location in a desirable neighbourhood, a big country kitchen, etc.
Ask yourself how much you would be willing to pay for those desirable features. $20,000? $50,000?
Once you've gone through these steps, you'll have the information you need to match your needs and wants to what's available on the market — and you’ll know how much you might expect to pay for your next home.
When you sell, you’ll probably want to get the best possible price for your property. Who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, there are many ways to inadvertently leave money on the table – sometimes thousands of dollars.
How do you avoid that possibility? Just remember the 4 Ps:
• Prep. Do everything you can to prepare your home so that it looks great to buyers. Clean, declutter, fix, make improvements. Home staging can also help. In fact, effectively staged homes have been shown to sell for up to 5% more than comparable unstaged properties.
• Price. Set the right asking price. That’s crucial. If it's too low, you'll attract only deal-hunters — and you might end up getting less than you should. If the asking price is too high, however, you'll discourage those buyers who might otherwise be interested and willing to make a good offer. Be careful with pricing!
• Promotion. There may be qualified buyers out there who would be eager to see your property. But, they need to find out about your listing and the great features of your home first! Reaching these buyers requires more than merely profiling the listing on the MLS. Homes that sell for top dollar often have strong marketing — directed to the right buyers.
• Proposal. Once an offer comes in, there may be an opportunity to negotiate with the buyer to maximize the final price you get. This requires deep knowledge of the local market as well as street-smart negotiation skills. If done effectively, these negotiations can help put more money in your pocket.
These four Ps are easy to remember, but sometimes not so easy to implement! That's why working with a great real estate agent is so important. Contact us to get the conversation started.
Imagine your coffee maker switching on by itself, staying on for hours, overheating and becoming a fire hazard. That's not science fiction. As more and more appliances incorporate WIFI, the opportunities for hackers to play havoc with your home gadgets increase.
How do you prevent that from happening? Here are some safety tips:
• If your gadget uses a password to access the settings, change that password frequently. Ideally, change it once every 3 months.
• Some gadgets, such as alarm systems, come with their own connection to the internet. Learn how to turn that connection off if it becomes necessary to do so.
• Don't leave an internet-connected appliance or other gadget on constantly unless it’s necessary. For example, you don't need your home speaker system connected to your digital music providers all the time.
• Baby monitors with video are a common target for hackers. Use a password unique to that device and change it often. Never leave the monitor on when not in use.
• Never share passwords with anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. Most home WIFI systems have a "guest" feature with a separate password and limited access. Use it.
In this age of internet connectivity — from coffee makers to stereos and even washing machines — it's smart to play it safe. Know what's connected and protect yourself.