Crognali Realty 632 Park Avenue

Office 204-268-8066 | EMAIL greg@crognalirealty.ca |

 

Budgeting for a new home can be tricky.  Not only are there mortgage installments and the down payment to consider, there are a host of other—sometimes unexpected—expenses to add to the equation.  The last thing you want is to be caught financially unprepared, blindsided by taxes and other hidden costs on closing day.

 

These expenses vary:  some of them are one-time costs, while others will take the form of monthly or yearly installments.  Some may not even apply to your particular case.  But it’s best to educate yourself about all the possibilities, so you will be prepared for any situation, armed with the knowledge to budget accordingly for your move.  Use the following list to determine which costs will apply to your situation prior to structuring your budget:

 

  1. Purchase offer deposit.

 

  1. Inspection by certified building inspector.

 

  1. Appraisal fee: Your lending institution may request an appraisal of the property.  The cost of this appraisal is your responsibility.

 

  1. Survey fee: If the home you’re purchasing is a resale (as opposed to a newly built home), your lending institution may request an updated property survey.  The cost for this survey will be your responsibility and will range from $700 to $1000. 

 

  1. Mortgage application at your lending institution.

 

  1. 5% GST:  this fee applies to newly built homes only, or existing homes that have recently undergone extensive renovations. 

 

  1. Legal fees: A lawyer should be involved in every real estate transaction to review all paperwork.  Experience and rates offered by lawyers range quite a bit, so shop around before you hire.

 

  1. Homeowner’s insurance: Your home will serve as security against your loan for your financial institution.  You will be required to buy insurance in an amount equal to or greater than the mortgage loan.

 

  1. Land transfer (purchase) tax: This tax applies in any situation in which a property changes owners and can vary greatly.

 

  1. Moving expenses.

 

  1. Service charges: Any utilities you arrange for at your new home, such as cable or telephone, may come with an installation fee.

 

  1. Interest adjustments.

 

  1. Renovation of new home: In order to “make it their own,” many new homeowners like to paint or invest in other renovations prior to or upon moving in to their new home.  If this is your plan, budget accordingly.

 

  1. Maintenance fees: If you are moving to a new condominium, you will likely be charged a monthly condo fee which covers the costs of common area maintenance.

 

 

Read full post

If you are considering looking for a new house, and are a current home-owner, then chances are you’re wondering what your strategy should be:  do you wait to find the perfect new home before you put your current home on the market, or do you sell first and then look around?  You have a few options.  Use the following as a guide to explore what might be the best move for you.

 

Sell First:

 

There are several benefits to selling your current house before searching for your next home.  First of all, once you have sold your house, you will know precisely how much money you have to work with.  With a concrete price range, you’ll be able to narrow the pool of houses before you begin looking, and negotiate accordingly.  This will allow you to immediately make firm offers on houses that you are serious about purchasing.  You can be first in line with an unconditional offer you know you can afford, and this will grant even further negotiating leverage as Sellers tend to take unconditional offers more seriously.  When they counter or turn down an offer that’s conditional on the sale of a home, they usually think the Buyer will come back with a better and more firm offer once they have sold their current home.  However, if you make an unconditional offer, the Seller will usually give you more consideration, as they realize you’re probably looking at other properties and will move on if your offer is rejected.  Likewise, if you have already sold you house, you probably do have a wider opportunity to look around, negotiate, and find the best deal and fit for you and your family.

 

The flip side of this scenario, however, is that if you don’t find the right property before the closing date of the house you’ve already sold, you may have to look for temporary housing until you do find what you’re looking for.

 

So, before you opt to sell first, you should determine whether you have alternate, temporary options, in case you have to move from your house before you’ve found a new one. How would you and your family deal with living in a transition home for an undetermined period of time?

 

 

Buy First:

 

Buying a new house without having sold your current home may occur if you are interested in a specific property and will only sell your current home if this property comes on the market.  It may be a matter of timing—grabbing hold of the home before it’s too late.  The same might be said of a property you haven’t had you eye on previously, but that catches your attention due to its uniqueness or unbelievable price.  If buying first means you don’t miss out on the real estate opportunity of a lifetime, it may be the best move.

 

However, be careful. If you buy another property and aren’t able to sell your current home quickly enough, you could end up having to finance both homes and shoulder the extra debt until you sell.  You can get a financial appraisal or market evaluation of a home prior to selling, but this doesn’t guarantee the price you’ll ultimately receive for the home after the negotiation process has run its course.  Since your selling price will be an unknown, jumping into a purchase could be a gamble, particularly if your budget is tight. 

 

Make sure you’re familiar with all aspects of the financial reality this scenario would create before you purchase another home.  You may be faced with owning two homes at once.  What type of financial stress would this bring to your life and how would you deal with it?  Consider the fact that if your current house doesn’t sell quickly enough, you may be forced to sell it off at a reduced price in order align the closing dates of your two properties.  What effect would this have on your financial situation?

 

Conditional Offer:

 

An additional option involves making your offer to purchase conditional upon the sale of your current property within a specified period.  Conditional offers usually include a clause that allows for the Sellers to keep their property on the market and remain open to other offers while you try to sell your home.  If the Sellers receive another attractive offer before you’ve sold your home, they may accept and ask you to either remove your condition and firm up your offer, or to back down from the offer.  A conditional offer forms a kind of middle ground, an area of compromise, for those who are afraid to sell or buy first—but doesn’t hold the advantages of the other two options.

 

One of the drawbacks of the conditional offer is that Sellers tend to take them less seriously.  They definitely give stronger consideration to firm offers.  This leaves you with less negotiating power.  In fact, some Sellers will simply turn down or counter a conditional offer.  Other Sellers will believe the Buyer will come back with a more serious offer when their home has sold.  So, you may end up having to increase your offer in order to have your conditional offer accepted and keep your foot in the door of your desired house. 

 

Even if your conditional offer is accepted, there is no guarantee another Buyer won’t step in and overthrow your offer before you have sold your current home, which would put you back at the starting line.  Also, consider the fact that you cannot withdraw your conditional offer until the end of the period specified in the contract—which means that if a better deal comes along, you will have to wait to jump at it.  

Read full post

It’s official:  you’ve signed the papers, dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s—you own a new home!  You’ve almost reached the end of your journey.  However, now, faced with the daunting task of moving, it may seem as though the journey has just begun.  Moving can be a time-consuming and stressful experience if you let yourself be overwhelmed by the job.  Remember, though, having a successful move means taking care of the details, one by one.  If you break the process down into steps and arrange your time accordingly, you can make it manageable.  Use the following checklist to ensure you’re covering all the bases, and you will be well on your way to a successful move!

 

Household

 

  • Arrange to have your mail forwarded to your new address.
  • Forward or cease all deliveries to your home, and forward or cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
  • Disconnect or take care of utility, cable and phone services and accounts.
  • Arrange for utilities to be connected at your new house.
  • Cancel pre-authorized bill payments.
  • Begin going through closets and discarding any unnecessary items.

 

Packing

 

  • Plan your packing.  Start by purchasing or acquiring suitable containers.  Most moving companies have specialized containers you can buy.  Also, speak with others who have recently moved—they may be looking to get rid of boxes.  You’ll need the following:  small boxes for heavy items (books, tools, etc.); large boxes for bulky items (bedding, stuffed toys, etc.); medium boxes for bulky but less heavy items (towels, small appliances, etc.).
  • Begin to collect other packing materials.  Decide which items you’ll need from the following checklist:

-White paper

-Tissue paper

-Paper towels

-Newspapers

-Non-printed paper

-Packing tape or twine to seal boxes and containers

-Scissors

-Labels and stickers (available from your moving company)

-Felt marker to label boxes

-Notebook and pen for listing contents

  • Set goals and deadlines for yourself.  Aim, for example, to pack one room per week. 
  • Attach a list of contents to each box.  Separate and label boxes to be placed in storage.
  • Consider holding a garage sale to rid yourself of excess belongings.
  • Begin to use up the food in your pantry and freezer.  Let the food you already have dictate your menus.
  • Have rugs cleaned that are to be moved, then roll and wrap them.
  • Make special arrangements for the moving of plants or pets.
  • Collect all personal items from local services (dry cleaning, storage, photos).
  • Service all appliances you are taking with you.  Note that all gas appliances must be emptied, as it is illegal for movers to carry flammable substances.
  • Take inventory of all the boxes, and contents of the boxes, you have packed.
  • Have your car serviced and tuned up.

 

Community

 

  • Return library books.
  • Clean out your locker at any club you are leaving.
  • Determine how to transfer your children to a new school.
  • Return items you’ve borrowed to friends, and collect any you’ve lent.
  • Mail or e-mail change of address notices to family members, friends, and office contacts.

 

Records

 

  • If needed, transfer medical and dental records, and fill prescriptions.
  • Change the address on your driver’s license.
  • Change the billing address for credit cards.
  • Change the address for banking statements.
  • Leave a record of security codes for new tenants.

 

Insurance and Legal Matters

 

  • Visit your lawyer and ensure all documents are signed.
  • Notify your insurance company well in advance of the move and ask them to review your policy. 
  • Transfer insurance to your new home, or acquire new insurance.
  • Review your moving company’s insurance policy.  If it doesn’t cover as much as you’d like it to, obtain your own.
  • If you are currently renting a house or apartment, give written notice to the landlord.
  • Have all keys to your old home delivered to your lawyer or realtor.

 

Read full post

Whether seeking solace, activity, schools, churches, or green space, every homebuyer looks for a different combination of attributes in a new community.  Choosing a neighbourhood that suits your needs and wants is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the home-buying process; your choice of environment will affect the way you experience your new home.  This is a very personal decision, influenced by countless unique factors colouring your own lives, but you should always keep the following in mind:

 

  1. If you’re considering buying a home in a community that is unfamiliar to you, get to know its lay-out, offerings, and ambiance.  Take some time to walk or drive through the neighbourhood, both during the day and at night, familiarizing yourself with the sights, sounds, and smells.

 

  1. What amenities does the neighbourhood have to offer?  Is public transportation readily accessible?  Are there schools, churches, parks, or grocery stores within reach?  Consider visiting schools in the area if you have children.

 

  1. What is the nature of the job market in the area?  Keep in mind that if area employers are producing more jobs, you can expect property values to increase, especially if the jobs offered fall within a higher salary bracket.

 

  1. Speak with the neighbours.  Ask questions.  They can offer you a wealth of information, from an inside perspective.

 

  1. How will you be affected by a new commute to work?  Drive the route between the new neighbourhood and your office during the appropriate times to gauge the volume of traffic you could expect to encounter, and the amount of time you’d need to put aside for daily travel.

 

  1. Contact local land-use and zoning officials to determine existing development plans or potential for development in the area.  A strong agenda for neighbourhood planning and local zoning will increase the value and draw of a neighbourhood.  Keep in mind that any large, tree-covered area may be a target for future development in popular communities.

 

  1. Determine whether financial resources have been put in place to support infrastructure projects in the area.  These construction projects might include building, replacing, or improving anything from schools to roads, and are usually part of a city or town’s long-term plan.  While disruptive, construction could also be a benefit to your experience of a community, influencing the long-term value of the area.  
Read full post

 

The thousands of dollars in rent you’ve already paid to your landlord may be a staggering figure—one you don’t even want to think about.  Buying a house just isn’t possible for you right now.  And it isn’t in your financial cards for the foreseeable future.  Or is it?  The situation is common and widespread:  countless people feel trapped in home rental, pouring thousands of dollars into a place that will never be their own—yet they think they’re unable to produce a down payment for a home in order to escape this rental cycle.  However, putting the buying process into motion isn’t nearly as impossible as it may seem.  No matter how dire you believe your financial situation to be, there are several little-known facts that may be key to helping you step from a renter’s rut to home-owning paradise!

 

Initially, of course, the most daunting factor involved in buying a house is the down payment.  You know you’ll be able to handle the monthly payments—you’ve done this for years as a renter.  The hurdle, instead, seems to be accumulating the capital needed to put money down.  However, this hurdle may be smaller than you think.  Take a look at the following points and explore whether any of these scenarios may be possible for you:

 

  1. Find a lender to assist you with your down payment and closing costs.

If you’re free of debt, and own an asset outright, your lending institution may lend you the money for a down payment by securing it against your asset.  In this case, you won’t need to have accumulated capital for a down payment.

 

  1. Buy a home even if your credit isn’t top-notch.

If you have saved more than the minimum for a down payment, or can secure the loan against other equity, many lending institutions will still consider you for a mortgage, despite a poor credit rating.

 

  1. Find a seller to assist you in buying and financing the home.

Some sellers may be willing to bear a second mortgage as a seller take-back.  The seller then assumes the role of the lending institution, and you pay him/her the monthly payments, rather than paying the price of the home in a lump sum.  This is an additional option if you have a poor credit rating. 

 

  1. Buy a home with much less down than you’d think.

Investigate local and federal programs, such as first-time buyer programs, that are designed to help people like you break into the housing market.  An experienced REALTOR® will be equipped to give you all the information you need about these programs, and counsel you on which options are best for you.

 

  1. Create a cash down payment without going into debt.

By borrowing money for specific investments, you may be able to produce a large income tax return that you can use as a down payment.  Technically, the money borrowed for these investments is considered a loan, but the monthly payments can be low, and the money you put into both the home and the investments will ultimately be yours.

 

So, you know there are options out there.  The next step is to educate yourself on what your own personal possibilities might be, and how to follow through with the means to achieve these goals.  Keep in mind, too, that you can get pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin searching for a home.  In fact, you should get pre-approved—the process is free and doesn’t place you under any obligation.  You can be pre-approved over the phone.  Or, take the next step and complete a credit application.  Once a credit application is submitted, you’ll receive a written pre-approval, which will guarantee you a mortgage to a specified level.  When you have a concrete price range, you’ll know where to begin looking.  Make a commitment to yourself to break out of the renting rut.  Start today!

Read full post

 

When preparing your property to show, work your way from the outside in.  It is essential that your home possess a certain “drive-up appeal.”  Remember, a potential buyer’s first impression of your house is formed while s/he is still sitting in the realtor’s car.  So, first you need to view your house from this perspective.  Go stand on the opposite curb and observe your property.  Compare it to surrounding properties.  Concentrate on the following three areas:

 

Landscaping:

How does your landscaping measure up compared to the rest of the neighbourhood?  If you guess it would rate below-average, make a few adjustments.  You might want to consider buying some bushes and planting them around the property.  Do not buy trees, however—mature trees are expensive, so you will not see a return on your investment.  And immature trees don’t tend to significantly improve the immediate appearance of your home. 

 

If the problem with your yard isn’t a case of too little greenery, but rather too much, get out the pruning shears.  The purpose of landscaping is to complement the home, not hide it.  Overgrown shrubs should be sheared to a height near the bottom of the windows.  Remove any ivy clinging to the side of the house.  Tree limbs should be high enough that you’re able to walk beneath. Trim any branches that bar the way.

 

Your lawn should be freshly cut and watered, and an even colour.  If there are brown spots, make sure you begin to remedy this well in advance of putting the house on the market.  You may want to re-sod areas, and you need to make sure these spots are given enough time to grow, so they will match the existing lawn.  Also, if you decide to use fertilizer, you’ll want to allow enough time for it to take effect.  Rake up any leaves or grass cuttings.

 

Planting a few flowers is an easy way to add colour and vibrancy to your yard, enhancing the first impression of your home.  Invest in a full flat of mature, colourful flowers, such as petunias or periwinkles, which last the length of the growing season.  Do not buy bulbs or seeds—they won’t necessarily grow enough by the time you begin showing to achieve the desired effect.  If you don’t have an area in which to plant flowers, consider purchasing a few flower pots for your porch and planting flowers or blooming plants.

 

House Exterior:

 When you view your house from across the street, does it appear weathered or faded?  If so, it’s probably time to treat it to a fresh coat of paint.  This is usually a sound investment; new paint can do wonders to increase a home’s perceived value. Stay away from unusual or loud colours.  The new colour should fit in with surrounding houses, and complement the style and structure of your house.

 

Examine the roof closely.  Old or leaking roofs should be replaced.  If there are leaks, you’ll have to disclose this detail to the homebuyer anyway, and they will want it replaced.  If there isn’t any apparent damage, however, wait for word from the home inspector before making repairs.

 

The Front Door and Porch:

The front door and surrounding area should look particularly fresh and welcoming, as this will be the buyer’s first up-close impression as they enter the house.  If you paint nothing else, at least give the door a new coat.  Replace the doorbell if it is broken and polish the door fixture until it gleams.  Wash the mail box.  Keep the porch swept and buy a new plush door mat.  All of these little things will contribute to the overall effect of a well cared-for and welcoming home.

 

Ensure the lock works smoothly and the key fits properly.  When a homebuyer visits your house, the Realtor will open the front door with a key.  You don’t want the buyers’ first experience to be of waiting on the doorstep while the Realtor fumbles with the lock.

 

 

Read full post

 

After putting in a huge amount of time and effort to get your home looking good and ready to sell, your hard work is finally going to pay off:  your home is on the market—you’re ready to begin showing.  Your house should always be at-the-ready for a tour, as agents may bring clients by with very little notice.  If they catch you unprepared and you aren’t able to show the house on the spot, you could be losing out on a sale.  Concentrate on the following areas to ensure your home is ready to show:

 

  1. People - Homebuyers may feel like intruders if you are present while they view your house, and this will affect their overall impression.  Consider taking the opportunity to visit the local coffee shop, go shopping, or take the kids to the park.  If you can’t leave while the house is being shown, try to be as unassuming as possible.  Do not move from room to room.  Don’t offer information, but make yourself available to answer any questions the agent or buyers might have.

 

  1. Lighting - When you know an agent is bringing someone by, make sure all of the drapes and window shades are open to let in as much daylight as possible, or—if the showing is taking place at night—to create a look of comfort and warmth when viewed from the outside.  Open all the doors between rooms to create an open, inviting feel.  Turn on all lamps and overhead lights, even during the day.  Keeping lights on during the day softens the harsh shadows sunlight can create in a room, and illuminates dim corners.  During nighttime showings, make sure all outdoor lights are on, as well as pool lights.

 

  1. Cleanliness - Scan the floor for debris—newspapers and magazines tend to accumulate without our noticing.  Make sure all the counters are clutter-free.  Empty the kitchen garbage before every showing, particularly if the garbage can doesn’t have a lid.  Keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed.  Beds should be made and bathrooms cleaned (toilet lid down).  Every room should sparkle.

 

  1. Scents and Sounds - Avoid using scented sprays before showing your home.  Some people simply won’t enjoy the smell, and others may be allergic.  If you want to make a room smell pleasant, consider a potpourri pot or a naturally-sourced aroma. If you or your family is home while the agent is giving a tour, try to stay as quiet as possible.  Turn off the television and the blaring radio.  Put on some soothing background music at a low volume.

 

  1. Pets - If you have pets, make sure your listing agent includes this in your listing on the Multiple Listing Service.  This way, no one will be surprised by a furry welcome if the agent shows the house while you’re not there.  If you know someone is coming to tour the house, ideally you should take the pets with you, or arrange to have a friend or family member take them.  If this isn’t possible, keep dogs in the backyard, preferably in a penned area.  Try to keep indoor cats in one room while people are touring the house, and put a sign on the door.

 

Read full post

Selling your home is a complex process that can be stressful and time-consuming.  An experienced REALTOR® has the knowledge, skills, and connections to help you through the process every step of the way.  Consider the following benefits of working with a Realtor:

 

Professional Experience:

 

With knowledge and training in marketing strategy, negotiation tactics, and the workings of the current real estate market, a Realtor will be able to guide you through the steps of the home-selling process and be able to explain exactly what to expect. They will make you aware of your rights and responsibilities, work with you to strategize the best moves according to your own goals, discuss financing options, and point you in the direction of other specialized professionals who will aid you in different stages of the process.

 

Best Price:

 

Realtors have their fingers on the pulse of the current real estate market, and will know what comparable properties in your area are selling for.  They have the resources and knowledge to establish the best asking price and to attract the highest selling price.  With access to their company’s professional marketing resources and connections, they will ensure potential buyers are immediately made aware of your home and market the property to sell as quickly as possible and for the most money.

 

“Showcasing” Experience:

 

Your Realtor will know the importance of a property’s first impression.  They will have experienced first-hand, for example, the impact a property’s “drive-up appeal” has on the rest of a potential Buyer’s experience of your home.  Your Realtor will be able to offer you tips and information on how to get your home in the best selling shape possible, in order to sell your property quickly and for top dollar.

 

Access to Qualified Buyers:

 

Realtors save time and effort by dealing only with qualified buyers.  They have access to a pool of pre-screened and pre-qualified buyers who are serious about buying a home in your neighbourhood.  Realtors work hard to develop this base of qualified buyers which will become an invaluable resource for you.

 

Negotiation Skills:

 

Realtors serve many functions, but perhaps the most important is their role as primary negotiator on your behalf.  Your Realtor realizes your goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible, and for the most money possible, and will work closely with you during the negotiation process to facilitate this goal.  Realtors bring to the process the knowledge and skills to draw up legally binding contracts, to assist in negotiating offers and counter-offers, and to offer counsel and perspective as you work toward your selling goals.

 

 

Read full post

When presenting your home to prospective buyers, first impressions are crucial. Buyers begin judging your

home the moment they see it, and generally they prefer homes that are well-maintained, clean and clutterfree

-- homes they can picture themselves living in. That is why home improvements -- particularly if they

address the anticipated needs of buyers -- can boost your home's saleability and sale price.

Here are a few proven, cost-effective tips that will help your home look its best:


Exterior

• Mow and rake the lawn, trim hedges, weed and edge gardens

• Sweep sidewalks and driveway, pick up any litter

• Repair gutters and eaves, touch up exterior paint

• Plant extra flowers for color, or place potted plants beside the front door

• Clean or paint front door, polish front door hardware, ensure doorbell works


Interior

• Clean and tidy the entrance, clear stairs and halls, store all excess furniture

• Brighten interiors with fresh, light-toned paint

• Brighten rooms by installing high wattage light bulbs and turning them on

• Shampoo carpets, clean and wax floors

• Organize kitchen countertops -- removing appliances if necessary -- to make them look spacious

• Clean kitchen countertops, cabinets, appliances, washer and dryer

• Organize and clean out closets to make them look larger

• Clean and freshen bathrooms, put out clean towels, minimize clutter

• Clean mirrors and windows so they sparkle

• Organize and clean garage and basement

• Perform necessary minor repairs and touch-ups to walls, windows, fixtures, etc.


Tips For Showings And Open Houses

• Be absent so buyers feel more comfortable making comments

• Light the fireplace, open the drapes, play quiet background music

• Keep pets outdoors

 

These are just a few ideas to get you started. I know what today's buyers are looking for and can provide

more ideas that will maximize your home's appeal. Remember, a few easy and inexpensive improvements

can produce big returns on your investment.

Read full post
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos identify professional services rendered by REALTOR® members of CREA to effect the purchase, sale and lease of real estate as part of a cooperative selling system.
MLS®, REALTOR®, and the associated logos are trademarks of The Canadian Real Estate Association.