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Staging Tips for the Holidays

Before you deck the halls, see how the right holiday decor can help you sell…Over-the- top decorations may distract buyers, but subtle touches like a simple wreath can make your home feel warm and festive.

Clean and stage. If your living room is already piled high with clutter, your ceramic reindeer collection is only going to add to the sense of overcrowding.

Create a cozy vibe. The less-is-more mantra of home staging may tempt you to forgo holiday cheer this year. But a few subtle touches like a bowl of pinecones, an evergreen wreath, or a pot of cider simmering on the stove can create a warm and festive feeling in your home.

Complement your palette. Before you start untangling your tinsel, make sure your holiday collection matches your current decor. If your living room is painted a soothing ocean-blue hue, skip the clashing red garland and opt for white snowflakes or a silver glass-ball wreath. If you’ve got an earthy color scheme, accent with rich tones like cranberries, forest greens and gold.

Accentuate the positive. Too many trimmings may distract buyers, but the right accessories can draw attention to your home’s best features. Dangle mistletoe in an arched doorway, or display your menorah on the ledge of a bay window; just don’t block a beautiful view with stick-on snowflake decals or clutter an elegant fireplace with personalized stockings.

Go light on lights. Step away from the inflatable snowman, Clark Griswold. One man’s “merry” is another man’s “tacky,” so tone down any garish light displays while your home is on the market. (No, your neighbors didn’t pay us to say that.) Instead, use simple string lighting to play up your home’s architecture or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard.

Be an equal-opportunity decorator. Leave the life-sized Nativity scene in storage this year, because overtly religious flourishes may be off-putting to some buyers.

Mind the tree. A tall Christmas tree can help you show off your two-story great room, but make sure the wide base won’t overwhelm the floor space. If your living area is on the small side, save space with a skinny tree. Swap the gaudy heirloom ornaments and trim your tree in a cohesive theme such as icicle lights and silver tinsel, for example, or blue and gold glass balls.

Clear the clutter. A few decorations can stir the holiday spirit, but don’t feel obliged to hang every last ornament. You still want each space to look as spacious as possible. Limit yourself to a few hints of holiday flair, but stash the rest in the basement for now. If you start to miss your Santa figurines, just remember that with a little luck, you’ll be celebrating next year’s holidays in a new home. And you can decorate that place any way you please.

Tips to Ease Your Holiday Selling Stress

The holidays are stressful enough on their own, but trying to sell your home during this busy season can seem like too much to handle. Luckily, if you plan ahead and keep your cool, the process of selling your home during the winter months can go smoothly. Try these tips to ease your holiday selling stress so you can enjoy the season.

  1. Prepare your home well in advance. If you know you’re going to have to sell during the holidays, the sooner you can get your home ready to put on the market the better.
  2. Take care of holiday errands early. Don’t procrastinate on your Christmas shopping. Selling your home is stressful enough, so you don’t want to be stuck fighting traffic and long lines at the mall as well.
  3. Hire someone to help with the cleaning. You’ll need to keep your home immaculate for showings, which is easier said than done when friends and family are frequenting your home for holiday parties.
  4. Don’t schedule showings when you have house guests. Your friends and family won’t be pleased if they have to vacate every time a buyer wants to take a look. If you plan on having holiday visitors, let your agent know that these dates are off- limits for showings.
  5. Keep the weekends open for showings. Homes show better when it’s bright out, but as the days get shorter, buyers may have less time to squeeze in daytime visits during the workweek. Be prepared to open your home to buyers over the weekend.
  6. Don’t fret over a lack of lookers. Fewer people viewing your home doesn’t necessarily mean fewer offers. You may not get as many visitors during the holidays, but the ones you do get will be serious about buying.

There’s always next year. If you don’t manage to sell during the holiday season, don’t let it get you down. Sales should pick up as spring approaches – maybe we try then.

Announcement

Announcement. We have a mini mo joining our tribe this coming December. Matt and I are both extremely excited and can’t wait to meet our little girl. I will be taking some time off over December and January to enjoy our little bundle of joy but of course will still have access to email if you should need me. I will also have some great agents who will be helping me out if you’re thinking about buying/ selling over those months.

5 Ways to Save for a Down Payment!

If you’re working to save money for a down payment, here are tips to make it happen faster and easier.

1. Open a separate savings account

Having a separate savings account for your down payment is useful for a couple of reasons. Your down payment won’t be mixed with other funds and spent accidentally. It’s also easier to track your progress; just look at the account balance.

2. Set a date for your savings goal
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4 dos of buying your first home

Thinking of buying your own place? It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed. After all, it’s the biggest purchase you can make. In an effort to remove some stress from the equation, here are a few tips to get you on the RIGHT Path.

Step 1 – Get pre-approved.

Some real estate agents won’t even work with you until you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage. This is an important first step in the home-buying process. You don’t want to start house-hunting and fall for a home you can’t afford. Plus, there may be problems with your credit that you don’t know about.

Step 2 – Hire Maureen.

Having someone who is knowledgeable about the market leading you through the process could take a big weight off your shoulders. Reasons to work with Maureen:

  1. Integrity – Doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.
  2. Honesty – Always telling the truth even if it means not getting the sale.
  3. Knowledge – Maureen is consistently up-to-date with product knowledge and market trends.
  4. Education – Informing clients of different areas and neighbourhoods, including the catchments for schools.
  5. Resources – Knowing where to direct clients to do the proper research to make an informed decision.

Step 3 – Stay mindful of your budget.

Ask yourself: if you lost your job and weren’t working for three months, would you be able to afford your home? Or are you stretching yourself too thin?

Step 4 – Be open.
We’ve all seen the real estate shows with the gorgeous multi-million dollar properties.

Your first home will most likely look nothing like that. Wallpaper can be removed, walls painted and cupboards changed. The things you should be more concerned about is the size and layout, along with the condition of the roof, plumbing and hot water tank.

10 Pieces Of Personal Finance Wisdom We Owe To Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Canada’s no-nonsense money expert, retired last year (comfortably, we presume). And seeing as she made her exit while the debt-to-income ratio of Canadians crept towards a record high, Vaz-Oxlade’s trademark real-talk on saving, spending and expensive lattes is sadly missed. Here are some of Vaz-Oxlade’s wisest, timeless nuggets of personal finance wisdom.

Create spending priorities:

“Figure out what’s important to you. So what is it you really want? Is it eating out and spending time with your friends? Or do you want to own a home of your own? Decide, because you may not in fact want to own [a home] — you may simply be bowing to the pressures around you to own.”

Tax your fast-food:

“Keep a container in your car and every time you pick up a coffee, grab a sub or munch on a muffin, drop a buck in your bag. This will be your Fast Food Tax. Hey, if you can find the money for the coffee, you can find the money to save for your wedding too!”

Don’t leave the finances to one partner:

“It’s not unusual for one person to assume the nitty-gritty of daily finances…. The problem is that when one person is excluded, or totally abdicates responsibility, it means the other can mess things up with no monitoring or grow resentful at always having to do the detail…. Taking turns managing the chequebook, and having regular conversations so that both of you are clear about what’s going on, means you’re both in the know and working to the same ends. It also means that one person doesn’t have to deal with all the crap, while the other merrily laughs off the stress and frustration with, ‘You’re managing the money, so this is your problem to deal with.’ (Yes, there are dopes who say this.)”

Forget the fancy wine:

“$20 is about as much as you need to spend to get a great bottle of wine. And there are $10 bottles that taste great too! And if you’re going to be drinking all night, start with a more expensive $20 bottle, and then switch to the cheaper stuff later in the evening. Most people won’t notice.”

Don’t buy into retail therapy:

“Plastic is anesthetic — it dulls the pain, and then what happens is you just keep waiting for the next fake high.”

Cut the coffee:

“If you’re saving $20 a week by drinking less coffee (or taking it from home) and you’re 30 years old, eliminating that one bad habit will mean $84,000 in your pocket. Yup, $84,000! That’s some pretty expensive coffee.”

Be open with your partner about spending:

“I’m truly amazed at the number of people who hide stuff from their partners. They go shopping, bring home a bag of stuff, and rip off the tags — because, of course, their partners are morons and won’t recognize a new outfit when they see it…. If you can’t be open about what you’re buying, that should tell you something. If you think your partner is going to object to your spending, hey, listen up! And if you’re planning to mate and you haven’t sat down to talk about your money, you’re a fool, plain and simple.”

Don’t plan on early retirement:

“Life is for living. Saving is for the future. Doing either to the extreme, or neither for the sake of the other, is dumb. And so is the idea of spending the last 35 years of life doing nothing productive. Add 10 years back into the working equation and you not only put more money in your retirement savings pool, but you spend less years living on that pool of cash.”

Don’t use credit like as a back-up plan:

“If you bought that sales pitch that a line of credit (or any credit) is an emergency fund, you was fooled! Credit is debt waiting to happen and debt can be an emergency of its own. Sure, that line may see you through until you get another job. But then you’ll have to deal with getting that sucker paid off.”

Slow and steady is how you repay debt:

“One step at a time. You are on your way. Expect challenges. Keep your goal where you can see it.”

This piece was originally published in 2016 and updated in 2017.

By Katie Underwood

Testimonial

As first time homebuyers, we had a lot to learn about buying a place, but Maureen was always happy to walk us through absolutely everything. We are so grateful for her patience and dedication as we searched for our dream home. She even helped us put in a last minute offer on the airplane home from a trip – that’s commitment to your client! We are beyond excited to move into our new home. Thanks, Maureen!