Archive | December, 2011

Happy Holidays!

December 24, 2011

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Just a quick post to wish everyone that follows along with the BarrieRealEstateTalk blog a HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  We’re looking forward to continuing the discussion on a variety of real estate topics in Barrie in the coming year.  If you have any topics you’d like any of us to cover – let us know by leaving a comment below!

We’re going to take a week off (let’s be honest: there are not many real estate  transactions going on between Christmas and New Years), but we’ll be back in 2012 with some more great talk about what’s going on in Barrie in the world of real estate.

Tim

Tim is a mortgage agent in Barrie who specializes in helping first-time home buyers. He works with a variety of lenders and can help customize a mortgage with the best rates & options that fit the needs of each customer.

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Tips for Selling in Winter

December 22, 2011

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As I discussed in my last post, Selling in Winter, you can still sell your home in winter! It’s just a different kind of market, and you can ask your REALTOR how he or she can promote it differently. This week, I’ll help you get your house ready now that your house is on the market. Just follow these tips, and you should be well on your way to a sale!

  1. Turn up the heat. Even though most of us turn down the heat during the day when we’re at work, you never know if there’s going to be a last-minute showing. If you have a mobile device that can do it remotely, then all the better! Nothing feels cozier than when you walk into a warm house on a cold day. A few plug-in air fresheners with cinnamon or fir tree scents don’t hurt either.
  2. Shovel your driveway. When potential buyers are coming to look at your property, having a clear path for their car AND to your front door makes a big first impression. If it’s already clear, buyers will feel comfortable getting in your home; if it’s icy, they’ll have a bad taste in their mouth before they even see your incredible kitchen or the beautiful ensuite.
  3. Turn on the fireplace. Nothing screams winter escape more than a fire. Gas or wood, both give people a homey feeling (even in summer, believe it or not!). You know, especially in Barrie, those cold, blistery days disappear once you sit down by the fire. It brings back childhood memories for many people, and potential buyers can picture their families sitting around the fire, reading or playing board games. Leave a few books on the coffee table to encourage them to sit down and curl up!
  4. Hang summer photos. Whether they’re of your backyard when the kids are playing in the sandbox, or just a generic “Muskoka chair” cottage painting, remind people that summer’s on its way. If you have lovely gardens in the spring and summer, put a few in frames around the house, or leave a photo album open on the dining room table to invite them to take a peek. You may be worried that potential buyers won’t see what summer at your house could be, so show them!
  5. Wash your windows. I know it sounds a bit silly since that’s normally done during Spring cleaning, but when the light shines in off the glistening snow, it can really show off your dirty windows. Take the time to make them sparkle and shine – it will make a big difference.
  6. Play Christmas music. If you know about a showing when you leave for work in the morning, leave the radio on a soft Christmas music station. Again, it gives your home that special, intangible feeling that buyers just love in winter.
  7. “Remove your shoes”. You may think a sign like this at the door is rude, however I’ll prove you wrong. It shows that you treat your house well and that you don’t normally trek your dirty, salty boots when you come home. People will appreciate the thought, especially since this may be their future home!
  8. Decorate for the holidays. Perhaps you have been told otherwise, but for buyers coming into your home it gives them the idea of how their house will look next year when they’re enjoying Christmas there. Maybe keep your Santa collection to a minimum, but having a tree up or hanging garland around the banister are pros, not cons.
  9. Highlight winter activities. If you live near a ski hill or a horseshoeing trail, leave a map on the counter! Just because people are in your home doesn’t mean they know how much it can offer year-round. Pinpoint anything that potential buyers can enjoy during the winter, and maybe leave some family photos nearby too that shows you enjoying those exact things!
  10. Let in natural light. Often in winter we want to keep that pesky snow away – out of sight, out of mind – so we keep our blinds closed. When your house is on the market, leave them open. It may feel cozy to you when you’re watching TV at night, or reading in your favourite chair, but it keeps your home dark. The same rule that applies in Spring and Summer applies here. Natural light sells. Period.

Don’t let the winter blues keep you – or potential buyers – down! Remember, you can sell your home in winter, it just takes a few adjustments and some patience. Good luck!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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Title insurance: you probably already have it

December 21, 2011

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Every now and then, I receive mail from banks about getting title insurance for my home. Title insurance is a very valuable tool; it protects you from any problems with the title to your property that could not be discovered before your purchase was completed, and protects you going forward against fraud (either a false mortgage put on title or a false transfer). However, you should be careful about title insurance recommendations for property you already own, because you likely already have it in place. Title insurance has been available in Canada for over 20 years, and as it rose in popularity, banks and mortgage companies began insisting on either extensive searches, often including a new survey, or title insurance when you purchase real estate. Faced with this choice, most people chose title insurance. Before you purchase a new title insurance policy, look through your documents from when you purchased the property and determine whether you already have it.

Cesia

Cesia is a real estate lawyer at Wall-Armstrong and Green, a boutique law firm in Barrie focusing on real estate and estates. When she's not online, she can usually be found in her garden.

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Mortgage Monday Rate Update – December 2011

December 19, 2011

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This is going to be the last Mortgage Monday blog post for 2011 (we’re all going to take next week off). I figure the best way to end the posts for the year is a look back at rates.

Whether you like it or not, stats and numbers are a part of the world of mortgages. When rates changes even the slightest of percentage points, it could cost or save you thousands of dollars. Every once in a while, here on the Mortgage Monday posts, I’ll update you on what’s going on in the world of mortgage rates. If this kind of stuff doesn’t really interest you, I won’t be offended if you just skim through it – I’ll try to make it as painless as possible.

  • The Bank of Canada interest rate is holding steady at 1.00%. It was at 1.00% at the beginning of 2011, and it’ll be at 1.00% through the end of the year. The next meeting date is January 17th, 2012.
  • The Bank of Canada prime lending rate is also holding steady at 3.00%. It has also been holding steady since Fall 2010 – I wouldn’t be surprised if we see ‘prime’ at 3% for quite a while still (though the next meeting date is January 18th, 2012).
  • The qualifying rate (the rate you would need to qualify at for a variable mortgage) for a 5-year mortgage is still 5.29%. It has been as low as 5.19% and as high as 5.69% in 2011.
  • The current best variable rate (changes daily) is in the prime-0.2% (2.8%) ballpark, though many lenders currently are offering ‘prime’ as their variable rate. It seems, at least for the time being, prime with no discount is the new standard (so if you locked in at prime-.5% or better in 2011, consider yourself lucky!).
  • The current best 5-year fixed mortgage rate (changes daily) is in the 3.19% – 3.39% range – again, always contact your mortgage broker for current best rates for your situation.

As noted above, some of these numbers change monthly, where as some change daily. While I’m happy to provide an update on what’s going on as rates, if you’re interested on getting personalized mortgage advice, speak to your favorite mortgage broker who can help you decide the best rates and options for you.

Tim

Tim is a mortgage agent in Barrie who specializes in helping first-time home buyers. He works with a variety of lenders and can help customize a mortgage with the best rates & options that fit the needs of each customer.

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When do you have to pay HST on a house?

December 14, 2011

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In Ontario, HST always applies to the purchase of land unless there is a specific exemption. For most residential resale transactions, there is an HST exemption in place so that it does not apply – as long as the house has been used primarily for personal use there will be no HST. For many new homes, there are significant rebates for HST, as long as you intend to live in the new home or rent it out to a family member.

However, there are some grey areas.

Farms, for example, or homes with significant acreage that was regularly used as part of a farm, may attract HST. It may also apply if a substantial part of the house was used for a business, or if the house was substantially renovated and the owner used input tax credits. The only time it is safe to say that HST will not apply is for a residential property that was always used only for residential purposes and has had no renovations done.

The bottom line? If you’re not sure whether HST will apply, ask a specialist.

Cesia

Cesia is a real estate lawyer at Wall-Armstrong and Green, a boutique law firm in Barrie focusing on real estate and estates. When she's not online, she can usually be found in her garden.

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