When you are ready to sell your house you'll want to enlist the help of a Realtor. He or she will provide the professional advice and service you need to make the selling process go smoothly.

Showing you ways to make your home as marketable as possible is just one of the many ways your Realtor can help. Here are a few tips from the experts:

Clean everything in and out of sight

With clipboard in hand, take a tour of your home. Take note of every opportunity to remove clutter and dirt. Rooms, closets and cupboards will appear larger and more inviting when you get rid of unnecessary stuff and tidy up what's left. Remove bulky or unused furniture and rearrange the rest to make the best use of space.

Most of us are pack rats, so apply the following test to every questionable item: Have I used this in the past six months, or will I need to use it soon? If the answer is no, throw it away, store it elsewhere or sell it in a yard sale.

Be equally aggressive in disposing of dirt. Pay particular attention to the two most important rooms in a buyer's mind: bathrooms and kitchens. And once you've removed all the dirt: keep everything clean, every day. You never know when the person who will ultimately buy your home will visit.

Repair as much as you can

During your home tour identify the things that are broken, cracked, stuck or just plain don't work anymore. These can include: leaky faucets, holes in window screens, stuck or broken windows, lights that don't work, doors that squeak or don't close properly, missing or broken cupboard handles, cracks in the walls and ceilings, and dozens of other "little things" you've been meaning to do for years. Now is the time.

Certain items, such as roof or basement leaks, must be repaired, along with any water damage. Electrical or heating system problems must be fixed. Some repairs, however, may not be necessary. Will that hairline crack in the driveway really make or break the sale? How about a chipped floor tile in the entryway? Some buyers will have their own ideas about how to deal with these problems. You may find it easier to adjust your selling price to reflect the cost of these repairs, rather than pay for them yourself.

Depersonalize your home

Your house reflects you. It is decorated with your taste and your sense of style. Unfortunately, that heart-shaped table lamp your grandmother left you may distract potential buyers from seeing the home itself. Grit your teeth and store all personal items (framed family photos, trophies, etc.) out of the way.

If you have brightly coloured accent walls or heavily patterned wallpaper, consider repainting or wallpapering these areas with light, neutral colours that enhance a room's size and make it more flexible to receive any kind of furniture. Remove area rugs, light fixtures and other items that buyers might find too difficult to imagine in "their home", even if you were not intending to include these in the sale.

Beautify the house and yard

Peeling, dry paint is relatively easy to fix or replace and can make all the difference in your home's appearance. If your carpet or other floor covering is in really bad shape, consider replacing it. The same holds true for badly tattered window coverings such as drapes and blinds.

Outside the house, weed the flower beds, remove dead tree branches, keep your lawn well-mowed and edged, trim the hedges, rake the leaves, sweep the sidewalks, fix and paint the deck or fence, plant a few flowers and do anything else you can think of to enhance your home's curb appeal.

It may sound like a lot of effort, but these tips, and the assistance of a Realtor, will help you sell your current home quickly so you can move on to your next dream house.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA

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Homeowners face a double quandary when faced with the prospect of selling their homes: how does one make sure the decision to sell is the right one; and once the choice is made, when is the right time to sell?

Traditionally, there have been four major reasons why and when people sell their homes: financial and market conditions, employment changes, family matters and lifestyle changes. In today's economy, one additional issue has emerged which has great bearing: low interest rates.

All these will not only affect your fundamental decision to sell, but will greatly impact your options regarding when to sell.

Financial and market conditions

Almost every aspect of real estate involves market conditions and financial issues--for the seller they are of the utmost importance. After all, it's the seller who is putting property, equity and sometimes, years of hard work on the line.

With so much at stake, it's imperative that sellers contact a real estate professional. Only Realtors have the hands-on experience and intimate knowledge of the real estate industry needed to get the best possible price for your property.

We've all heard of "buyer's" and "seller's" markets. These terms refer to the proportion of people wanting to buy versus the number of homes on the market. If the number of homes for sale outstrips potential buyers, then it's a buyer's market. If there are not enough homes to satisfy demand, then it's a seller's market.

If you're selling for financial gain, you'll obviously want to do so in a seller's market. But, if you plan to purchase another home after sale, there isn't as big a difference as you would first think.

In a seller's market, you may sell your home more quickly and for a better price, but you'll be facing the opposite challenges when purchasing. In a buyer's market, you may have to wait longer to get a fair price, but you'll have more selection and pricing options when looking for your new property.

Right now, interest rates are near their lowest in decades. This has lead to unprecedented opportunities for those wishing to buy. Often, mortgage payments will be less than rent on an apartment or townhome. Therefore, a large number of consumers are considering ownership, many for the first time. For sellers, this holds the potential for a huge boom.

"Seasonality" is a term that Realtors use to gauge when home sales are expected to climb. Although this is only one factor to be considered when selling, in BC Spring and Fall can be a time of higher activity. Buyers with children especially prefer to look in the spring in order to settle in a new home before school begins in the fall.

Employment changes

Employment changes can affect a decision to sell. There's the obvious matter of relocation if a new job or promotion takes you to a different city. In this case, selling most often becomes a necessity unless the homeowner wishes to retain a property for investment or other purposes.

Moving to a smaller urban centre may also allow you to purchase either a similar home for less money or a bigger one for the same outlay. Even if a new job does not require you to move a great distance, you should use the opportunity to assess your home ownership needs and move up if you can.

The reality is that with interest rates as attractive as they are, it's more possible than ever to make a major move without lowering your family's standard of living.

Family issues

The family issue homeowners cite more than any other when deciding to sell is children. Most often, people want a bigger home to accommodate a newborn, or may find their family has simply outgrown the home.

If this is the case, you're in a perfect position relative to today's marketplace. First and foremost, you can afford to put in enough time to sell at the right price and then find a home that suits your requirements. Contacting your Realtor well in advance of the date you wish to move will virtually guarantee you'll find a good home at a good price.

Lifestyle changes

The two most common lifestyle changes that motivate sellers are retirement. For those planning to retire, truly enjoying your latter years may involve a "cashing in" of assets. Again, it's a wise to look far enough ahead in order to use the market to your advantage and sell at a good price. Changes in lifestyle can include things such as buying a condominium to ease the workload involved with maintenance and upkeep; city dwellers who want to live in a more rural environment, or even those who want to set up a home business.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA

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More than Just a Sign on the Lawn

If you're thinking of selling your home in the near future, you may think that all that's required is a "for sale" sign strategically placed on your front lawn -- but any real estate professional will tell you there's much more to it than that.

While a sign on your lawn is of paramount importance to the sale of your home, a well-thought-out marketing plan is also essential. Your Realtor, of course, is another vital component in the process, and one of the first things he/she will discuss with you is a marketing strategy designed to give your home maximum exposure.

Keep in mind that effective marketing of your home requires a lot of communication between you and your Realtor and there are several things you can do to make sure your home gets the best possible exposure.

Be Candid with Your Realtor

First of all, disclose everything you can about your property and the neighbourhood in general. This information will help your Realtor a great deal and he/she can choose how and when this information can be related to prospective purchasers. For example, there may be something about your home or the area you live in that you may take for granted, but that characteristic could be a major selling point for your home -- such as its close proximity to local schools and recreation facilities.

It's also wise to be candid about any potential drawbacks as well, so both you and your Realtor can be realistic in arriving at a suitable list price. Where possible, your Realtor is likely to have some suggestions as to how these problems can be improved upon.

As well, your Realtor may notice some serious flaws in you home or even some basic elements that are missing. They may not bother you, but could work to your detriment when it comes to selling your home. As a result, your Realtor is likely to make helpful, reasonable recommendations that will enable you both market your home successfully. It's important to keep an open mind and follow his/her advice.

Operating Costs

It's also a good idea to have information on hand that will give the Realtor an idea of the costs of running your home -- annual heating bills, along with documentation of any recent major repairs or upgrades -- such as a new roof or new wiring or plumbing. These can be very effective marketing tools.

Open House

Your Realtor will also tell you that an open house can be another effective marketing tool. While some homeowners are adverse to this idea, it's one you should discuss with your Realtor if you really want your home to receive maximum exposure to interested buyers. During an open house or prearranged showings, it's a good idea to make sure that you and any other members of your family (including pets) are absent. Many buyers are intimidated by the presence of homeowners and tend to rush through a home as a result.

Clean and Clutter-Free

Before any showing or open house, it's imperative to make sure your home is clean and uncluttered -- both inside and out. Get rid of junk (don't forget the garage) and any unpleasant odours from smoke, cooking or pets. A neat exterior is inviting and a clean and neat interior just makes good, plain marketing sense.

Consider having your home painted. It's a relatively inexpensive way to show it in its best light.

Financing and Closing

Financing is another area where you may be able to help market your home more effectively. You can make your home more attractive to some purchasers by taking back a mortgage. It's an excellent marketing tool, especially if you're trading down to a less expensive home.

Flexibility on the closing date is another important factor in the successful marketing of a home. Real problems can arise when vendors and purchasers can't agree on a closing date. Again, it's important to work with your Realtor and listen to suggestions. Some deals are lost simply because the vendor and purchaser can't agree on a closing date.

Stay Informed

Your Realtor should keep you informed by following up after each showing and providing you with a weekly update on how the marketing of your home is progressing. By the same token, if you have any questions or ideas, don't hesitate to share these with your Realtor.

You'll find that a team effort, combined with a realistic approach will help you market your home much more effectively.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source:  OREA

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When you dream of your dream home, what do you see? Each of us has a vision of what it will be, but getting as close to that vision as possible is a practical, step-by-step process that begins with finding a Realtor. A Realtor is your best ally throughout the home buying process. He or she can provide expert advice and help you determine how much you can afford, what kind of home you can buy in that price range, and where it may be located.

You've no doubt heard the phrase: location, location, location. That's because it's the most important factor in making any real estate purchase. To find the right location you must think of where you want to live both in broader terms and in more detail. First of all what type of area do you want to live in?

Urban: Urban communities offer the broadest range of housing types, but generally at higher prices than similar-sized homes in non-urban locations.

Suburban: The suburbs are typically made up of newer neighbourhoods, schools and shopping centres. Prices may or may not be lower than those of the central city, but you often get more square footage, larger rooms and bigger lots.

Smaller towns and cities: A slower-paced lifestyle and lower taxes and housing prices are often big draws to Ontario's smaller communities. There are fewer types of homes available and the number for sale could be limited.

Rural: A stream flowing over a few acres sounds appealing and your housing budget will often buy you more in a rural setting than any alternative above.

Features Once you've considered the broader location options above, it's time to think about the features you need and want in a home. Prepare a shopping list. How many bedrooms and bathrooms? One or two-car garage? Large backyard or small? List the features you are looking for as needs or wants.

Comparing homes and locations Now you want to match the type of home you'd like with the location. Start reading the real estate ads in local newspapers and Realtor-produced publications. These ads will give you an idea of the communities that best match your criteria for home and location. Drive through the communities that are likely candidates.

Check out the types of homes available, how well the neighbourhoods are maintained, the availability of schools and shopping, recreational and religious facilities. Be aware of drawbacks: highway noise, train tracks, airports and large industrial centres. Drive through the neighbourhoods at different times of the day.

Attend open houses in the areas you are exploring. You'll begin to understand which best suit your needs and which are in your price range.

Open houses also provide an excellent chance to meet the Realtors hosting the events. Chances are that you'll select a Realtor from among those you meet at these open houses.

You'll find the services of a Realtor invaluable in helping you locate the home that's right for you.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA

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When consumers choose a Realtor to help them buy or sell a property, they are placing their trust in someone who is knowledgeable and who will protect their interests. A Realtor's role is to provide clients with sound, effective, timely advice and professional service.

More than ever, in today's fast-paced, high-tech world, Realtors are being challenged to continually improve their professional standards by keeping informed of developments and trends in real estate. Buying and selling a property today is a complex undertaking that involves large sums of money, stringent legal requirements and a tremendous depth of knowledge and experience. Along with accountability and high moral conduct, education has become a cornerstone of the real estate profession.

Real estate licensing changes

Realizing the need for real estate education that emphasizes consumer protection and the development of increased skills and knowledge, a new integrated learning system for real estate licensing education was recently introduced in Ontario. The new system, spear-headed by the Ontario Real Estate Association, recognizes the need to standardize learning across all provinces and incorporates innovative techniques, new program designs and diverse delivery systems.

Already serving as a model for other provinces, Ontario's new system includes a Real Estate Encyclopedia and CD Rom (which integrate all textbooks and materials into one easy-to-use resource), course changes and a new curriculum. The system places an emphasis is on multi-media communication and hands-on learning.

Keeping standards high

Public expectations of the real estate profession today are higher than ever. Ontario's new approach to real estate licensing education and emphasis on ongoing educational development by real estate practitioners continue to uphold the profession's commitment to fair dealing and high integrity.

The individual receiving his or her real estate licence today has been through an intensive process of interactive learning, self study and examination. People are going into real estate today with ever-increasing levels of education. A recent U.S. study showed that 30 per cent of people entering the real estate profession had a college degree and 20 per cent had a graduate degree.

The purchase or sale of property is a business transaction of tremendous complexity. There are distinct advantages to having a Realtor who is well-educated, knowledgeable, experienced and sincere. A Realtor also has access to an array of services, including the Multiple Listing Service, which can provide you with instant, thorough and accurate information on properties that might interest you or issues that concern you.

If you are selling, a Realtor will not only fairly assess your property, but listen to you and develop a marketing plan that best meets your needs. He or she will give you tips on how to improve the marketability of your home and make a first good impression to potential buyers.

If you are buying, a Realtor will act as an intermediary and help you deal at arms length with potential vendors. He or she will assess what you can realistically afford, target appropriate neighborhoods, provide facts on the costs of running a home and what to look for when considering a particular property.

A Realtor can also provide you with a list of lenders, lawyers, mortgage brokers and other professionals whose expertise you may require to complete a real estate transaction. In addition, he or she can help you evaluate all the mortgage options available today to help you obtain financing at the most attractive prevailing rates and terms.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: Ontario Real Estate Association

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More than Just a Sign on the Lawn

If you're thinking of selling your home in the near future, you may think that all that's required is a "for sale" sign strategically placed on your front lawn -- but any real estate professional will tell you there's much more to it than that.

While a sign on your lawn is of paramount importance to the sale of your home, a well-thought-out marketing plan is also essential. Your Realtor, of course, is another vital component in the process, and one of the first things he/she will discuss with you is a marketing strategy designed to give your home maximum exposure.

Keep in mind that effective marketing of your home requires a lot of communication between you and your Realtor and there are several things you can do to make sure your home gets the best possible exposure.

Be Candid with Your Realtor

First of all, disclose everything you can about your property and the neighbourhood in general. This information will help your Realtor a great deal and he/she can choose how and when this information can be related to prospective purchasers. For example, there may be something about your home or the area you live in that you may take for granted, but that characteristic could be a major selling point for your home -- such as its close proximity to local schools and recreation facilities.

It's also wise to be candid about any potential drawbacks as well, so both you and your Realtor can be realistic in arriving at a suitable list price. Where possible, your Realtor is likely to have some suggestions as to how these problems can be improved upon.

As well, your Realtor may notice some serious flaws in you home or even some basic elements that are missing. They may not bother you, but could work to your detriment when it comes to selling your home. As a result, your Realtor is likely to make helpful, reasonable recommendations that will enable you both market your home successfully. It's important to keep an open mind and follow his/her advice.

Operating Costs

It's also a good idea to have information on hand that will give the Realtor an idea of the costs of running your home -- annual heating bills, along with documentation of any recent major repairs or upgrades -- such as a new roof or new wiring or plumbing. These can be very effective marketing tools.

Open House

Your Realtor will also tell you that an open house can be another effective marketing tool. While some homeowners are adverse to this idea, it's one you should discuss with your Realtor if you really want your home to receive maximum exposure to interested buyers. During an open house or prearranged showings, it's a good idea to make sure that you and any other members of your family (including pets) are absent. Many buyers are intimidated by the presence of homeowners and tend to rush through a home as a result.

Clean and Clutter-Free

Before any showing or open house, it's imperative to make sure your home is clean and uncluttered -- both inside and out. Get rid of junk (don't forget the garage) and any unpleasant odours from smoke, cooking or pets. A neat exterior is inviting and a clean and neat interior just makes good, plain marketing sense.

Consider having your home painted. It's a relatively inexpensive way to show it in its best light.

Financing and Closing

Financing is another area where you may be able to help market your home more effectively. You can make your home more attractive to some purchasers by taking back a mortgage. It's an excellent marketing tool, especially if you're trading down to a less expensive home.

Flexibility on the closing date is another important factor in the successful marketing of a home. Real problems can arise when vendors and purchasers can't agree on a closing date. Again, it's important to work with your Realtor and listen to suggestions. Some deals are lost simply because the vendor and purchaser can't agree on a closing date.

Stay Informed

Your Realtor should keep you informed by following up after each showing and providing you with a weekly update on how the marketing of your home is progressing. By the same token, if you have any questions or ideas, don't hesitate to share these with your Realtor.

You'll find that a team effort, combined with a realistic approach will help you market your home much more effectively.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source:  OREA

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Buying or selling a home is no simple business transaction. It takes a team of experts and professionals you can trust to achieve your goals and protect your interests.

Bringing in the right experts at the right time will ensure your purchase or sale goes smoothly and you don't pay a big personal and financial price. The experts you need may vary, but usually include the services of a Realtor, a lender, a lawyer, a home inspector and an insurance agent.

Selecting your team

Whether you're selling or buying, the first individual to get on your team should be a Realtor. In BC, a Realtor is a licensed real estate professional who is a member of a local real estate board as well as the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA). This individual has successfully completed an intensive course of study and has skills, knowledge and experience that most buyers and sellers don't have.

Having a Realtor act on your behalf has many distinct advantages. The key benefit is that he or she can negotiate on your behalf, advise you on how to proceed with your purchase or sale and when to bring in the other experts and professionals you'll need.

The Realtor you select should be someone that knows the neighbourhood you live in or want to live in, has a good track record and will handle your sale or purchase as if it were their own.

One of the most important decisions you must make as a seller is deciding the asking price of your home. A Realtor can help you analyse your home and compare it with similar properties for sale or recently sold in your area. A Realtor will also develop a marketing plan for your home that may include open houses, advertising and listing options. As well, a Realtor will provide you with tips on small improvements you can make to help your home "show" better to prospective buyers.

Few people buy a home for cash. Most usually combine savings with money borrowed from a lender through a financial arrangement called a mortgage. Your search for a lender should begin with your search for a home.

Your Realtor can assist you in evaluating the many mortgage options and getting financing at the best available interest rates and terms. When deciding which financial institution or lender to deal with, begin with your own bank, credit union on trust company -- they already know who you are. But shop around and compare what different lenders have to offer.

Whether you are a buyer or a seller, it's important to have a lawyer to represent your interests. That's why you should have one on stand by before you put your home on the market or begin your search for a new home. Real estate documents, such as the agreement of purchase and sale, are complex and should be reviewed by a lawyer who specializes in real estate transactions.

As a seller, it's wise to have a lawyer review an offer to purchase before signing anything. As a buyer, when an agreement is reached with a seller, a lawyer will help ensure you receive valid title to the property and that it is clear of any registered claims. Your lawyer will also calculate the amount of land transfer tax you will be required to pay as well as any adjustments to compensate the seller for prepaid bills.

If you are a buyer, you can avoid a lot of expensive surprises by bringing in a home inspector as a condition of your offer to purchase. The older the home you plan to purchase - even if it has been substantially upgraded - the more potential there is for problems. Being aware of any structural defects can help you decide whether you want to buy the property at all, or for the price you are considering.

For purchasers, another key member of the real estate team is the insurance broker. Creditors and mortgage lenders, almost without exception, require insurance on the home you buy before any purchase can be finalized. Start by approaching the same broker you use for other insurance policies - often, you are able to negotiate a better rate. But still shop around and ensure you get the coverage you need for what you want.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

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There's little doubt that Canadians are on the move. Whether moving from an apartment to a home, apartment to apartment or home to home, moving is no simple matter. With careful planning, however, your transition can be facilitated in an organized and efficient manner, allowing you the peace of mind you need to settle into your home. The following moving tips are provided by the Ontario Real Estate Association.

Advance Planning

Planning should begin at least two months in advance. Confirm with your Realtor your closing date before scheduling your moving date. If you are renting, confirm your move-in date. Make a list of all records that must be transferred to a new location, such as children's school records, and financial and medical records.

Whether moving two blocks or 2,000 miles, decide what must go with you. This may be a good time for a serious cleaning of the closets or the basement where you've been storing your "valuables." It can be expensive and time consuming to move things you really don't need, or worse, to find that there's no place to put them in your new home.

If you are disposing of a large number of items, consider holding a garage or moving sale to offset some of your moving expenses. If you're donating items to charitable organizations, ask for a receipt for tax purposes.

New Address

Send change of address cards to magazine publishers and organizations who you are affiliated. Most magazines request 4 to 6 weeks notice. Provide change of address notice on credit card bills and leave forwarding instructions with the post office. Let your friends and neighbours know your new address. This also is a good time to request help you may need with packing and moving. If you are moving yourself, schedule a moving party providing pizza and beverages for anyone who can help.

Take inventory of borrowed or lent items. Return what is not yours and retrieve your items. Mailing that hedge trimmer across the miles to its owner will be expensive as well as a nightmare to package. Dispose of flammable liquids, such as gasoline or oil. Is there gasoline in your lawn mower?

Two weeks before you move, contact local utility companies to advise of a date to disconnect service. Arrange for utility service in your new home. Clear up outstanding accounts, particularly if you are leaving the area. Plan carefully for the transfer of checking and savings accounts. Open an account in advance in your new community so you have access to money, but make sure your old account stays open until all checks have cleared.

If you are driving any distance, service you car before you move. Car problems in an unfamiliar community can be troublesome. This is also a good time to make appointments with doctors and dentists arranging for a final check-up and discussion of potential problems of which to advise a new doctor.

Packing up

Begin packing early, particularly those items seldom used. If you have a hired a moving company, request boxes and packing paper. A local grocery store is a good source for boxes and packing paper. Ask for boxes in advance. Smaller stores may receive shipments only once a week and will only give away boxes if you are there at a specified time to pick them up. Collect both large and small boxes, keeping in mind that filling a large box with books or records will make moving them difficult at best.

Have plenty of packing supplies handy. Save old newspapers for packing material. For delicate items, you may want to purchase special packing boxes to materials to ensure safe moving.

Be creative in your packing particularly with odd-sized or fragile items. For example, move mattresses with old sheets on them as a protection from dirt. An antique floor lamp rolled up in a rug, or a crystal decanter packed in the middle of bath towels adds increased protection.

Of course, creative packing can lead to confusion when unpacking. Make sure all boxes are clearly labeled with their contents. Mark boxes "fragile" which have breakable items. For those items too precious to risk damaging move by hand.

Make a list of items to pack separately; items needed on the road (maps, prescription medicines, toys for children); items needed to settle in (cleaning supplies, light bulbs, tools); and those items you will need within the first few days of arrival (food and utensils for the first meals). Pack a suitcase which you could live out of if it should become necessary. Keep important papers such as medical records and insurance policies in one place where they can be retrieved quickly if needed.

Moving Day

When the moving day has finally arrived, makes sure someone is home to meet the mover and point out items to be loaded onto the truck. If your are handling your own move, organize loading to maximize space in the truck and to ensure that the heavy box of books does not get loaded on top of the china box.

Before leaving, make a final check of all rooms, closet shelves and other spots where items may have been overlooked. Have an empty box handy for those "found items," or items which didn't seem to fit in anywhere else. Turn off all lights and close and lock all windows and doors. Leave your keys with the Realtor, Landlord or new owner.

Make sure you are there to meet the movers to avoid possible additional charges. During warm weather, have cold beverages available for movers--professionals or volunteers. Finally, don't try to unpack everything at once. Unpacking carefully and in an organized manner, keeping in mind which boxes can be stored as they are, will save time in the long run.

The OREA suggests that by following these tips, your move into a new home or apartment will be a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA

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Getting the maximum exposure possible is a key part of any home sale. That's why it pays to sell your home with the help of a Realtor through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). MLS provides details of your home to all real estate professionals in the area and markets the property to a broad range of potential buyers including local, regional and international.

Your Realtor may also recommend one or more open houses for the general public. Although this type of open house tends to attract a lot of "browsers," if your home is clean, attractive, well-priced and in good repair, it could turn a "browser" into a buyer. Some purchasers want to get the "feel" of several neighborhoods before they begin working with a Realtor. Open houses will attract these potential buyers.

Most open houses for the public are held on a weekend afternoon when potential buyers often have more time to drive through neighborhoods. You will have to work out dates with your Realtor that fit your schedule. If you have pets, the Realtor may suggest you remove them from the home during the open house, since their presence could be distracting.

Your Realtor will likely recommend you and your family be away from the home during the open house as well. If you remain home, prospective buyers may feel compelled to rush their visit to avoid disturbing you. You want them to feel relaxed and to take the time to really see the features of your property.

Potential buyers may also feel uncomfortable commenting on your home in your presence. This hampers your Realtor's ability to sell the home since buyer feedback is essential in making any deal.

Your Realtor will suggest ways to prepare your home for an open house to make it a secure, enjoyable experience for everyone. Do ensure that the Realtor asks for the name, address and telephone number of everyone who attends. Your Realtor should also try to walk through the home with each visitor.

Here are some general tips to help you prepare for the big day:

  • Attend to any potential hazards - electrical wires crossing open areas, sharp table or counter top corners, slippery stairs and walkways, fragile items that can be easily damaged.
  • Lock away or remove valuables such as jewelry, cameras, compact discs, coins and currency.
  • Avoid cooking food with strong odors such as fish. The scent of fresh-brewed coffee, home-made bread and cookies can be very welcoming.
  • In poor weather, provide a place for overshoes, boots, umbrellas and coats.
  • A warm fire on a cold day will make your home feel inviting and cozy. But be sure your Realtor is prepared to look after the fireplace while you're not home.

A tiny hand-print on a wall or the slightest door squeak can be quite distracting to some potential buyers. Use this handy check list to assess what needs to be cleaned, repaired or changed before opening your home to potential buyers:

Kitchen and bathrooms

  • Clean all surfaces, including floors.
  • Organize countertops.
  • Ensure all sinks and faucets work properly.

Other rooms

  • Vacuum and dust all areas thoroughly.
  • Collect and remove all clutter, including excess furniture.
  • Neatly store books, toys and clothes in closets and on shelves.
  • Clean all mirrors.
  • Open drapes and pull up blinds on windows.

Floor coverings

(Includes carpeting, tile, linoleum, hardwood, etc.)

  • Remove all dirt and stains.
  • Repair any damaged areas.
  • If there is hardwood under old carpeting, remove the carpeting and restore the hardwood--a much desired feature in homes today.

Walls, ceilings, baseboards

  • Clean any fingerprints or stains.
  • Repair any holes, cracks, chipped paint, ripped wallpaper, water damage.
  • If necessary, repaint in neutral or complimentary colors.

Doors

  • Fix squeaks and any other problems.
  • Ensure the handles secure and work properly.
  • Clean any stains.

Windows

  • Clean and repair any cracks.
  • Ensure they open easily.

Lighting

  • Check to see there is sufficient light.
  • Attend to any broken switches, exposed wiring.

Pet areas

These should be clean, organized and odor free.

Outside the home

Ensure all gates open easily.

Clean all exterior surfaces, including decks, pools, walkways and driveways and make them tidy.

Depending on the time of year, lawns should be mowed, walkways and driveway cleared of snow, leaves removed, trees pruned, gardens weeded, hedges trimmed.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA

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It's an exciting time. You have accepted an offer and you are trying to close the deal on your new home at the same time. You can't wait to move  - but don't start celebrating yet.  There is one final stage involved - closing the deal.

Closing is the point at which ownership and usually possession of the property is transferred from the seller to you.  It takes place after the parties involved agree that all legal and financial obligations have been met.  Your lawyer and your Realtor and perhaps Accountant will do much of the work, but here's a checklist that will show you what to expect as the process unfolds:

  • Make sure a copy of the signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale is sent to your lawyer right away. Your Realtor will usually do this for you.  Your lawyer needs to see any conditions that exist, and the date you and the seller have agreed to close. The lawyer will ask you how you (and others involved in the purchase) want to be registered on the title to the property.
  • Immediately begin satisfying any of the conditions of the agreement that require your action. These have definite dates attached to them and if you miss one you may have to arrange an extension or possibly risk losing the entire deal.  As each condition is met, the Realtor will fill out a waiver form for signatures.  Note that most lawyers won't be doing many of the tasks they need to do for closing until the conditions are waived.
  • It is strongly recommended to have the home inspected,  and your offer should contain a condition that the property passes inspection.
  • If no current land survey exists on the property, you may consider having one done. Your lender may require it, and you'll want it for your own peace of mind, anyway
  • You may also consider having a third party appraisal done, and your lender may require it so contact them to confirm if they are doing one and make a decision that is right for you.
  • Upon your direction and after the conditions have been met, your lawyer will begin searching title to the property.  This is an exercise of going back through government records to ensure a clear title that is transferable.   Electronic registration and title insurance have significantly changed the way titles on properties are transferred.
  • Contact your lending institution to begin the process of finalizing mortgage documents.  Ask if your lawyer can draw up the documents; this will usually save money.
  • Your lawyer will contact the seller's lawyer with any questions or issues regarding title and costs.
  • You or your lawyer may wish to to check with local utilities (hydro, gas, water) to ensure there are no outstanding claims and to get final meter readings on the day of closing. You should contact the utilities and telephone and cable companies well in advance to arrange for services in your name.
  • Meanwhile, your lawyer is busy making sure that property taxes on your new home are up-to-date and there are no liens on personal property, such as appliances, to be sold with your house.  You want your lawyer to make sure that what you've agreed to buy is what you'll get -- nothing more or less.
  • Well before closing; contact your insurance agent to arrange homeowner's insurance coverage to become effective on the date of closing.  Your agent can give you a "binder" letter, certifying coverage is in place. If you're moving from your current owned (rather than rented) home to another, your agent will handle the homeowner's insurance transfer for you.
  • Your lawyer will review the statement of adjustments and other closing information provided by the seller's lawyer, and will deal with any problems as they arise.
  • A day or two before closing, you'll meet with your lawyer to go over and sign the closing documents. Bring the certified cheque(s) to cover costs involved. Your lawyer will let you know the amounts in advance.

The big day arrives. You may need to be present. The lawyers for both parties work with their respective clients to make sure the money, mortgage (if any), sale and title are exchanged and registered.  Soon thereafter you'll be given the keys to your new home.

Now the celebration begins.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA

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