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6 things to do when moving into a New House

Moving into your first home is exciting! But it also means you’ve got work to do.

1. Change the locks. You really don’t know who else has keys to your home, so change the locks. That ensures you’re the only person who has access. Install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or call a locksmith — if you supply the new locks, they typically charge about $20-$30 per lock for labor.

2. Check for plumbing leaks. Your home inspector should do this for you before closing, but it never hurts to double-check. I didn’t have any leaks to fix, but when checking my kitchen sink, I did discover the sink sprayer was broken. I replaced it for under $20.

Keep an eye out for dripping faucets and running toilets.

Here’s a neat trick: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window in which no water is being used in your house. If the reading is different, you have a leak.

3. Steam clean carpets. Do this before you move your furniture in, and your new home life will be off to a fresh start. You can pay a professional carpet cleaning service — you’ll pay about $50 per room; most services require a minimum of about $100 before they’ll come out — or you can rent a steam cleaner for about $30 per day and do the work yourself. I was able to save some money by borrowing a steam cleaner from a friend.

4. Wipe out your cabinets. Another no-brainer before you move in your dishes and bathroom supplies. Make sure to wipe inside and out, preferably with a non-toxic cleaner, and replace contact paper if necessary.

5. Give critters the heave-ho. That includes mice, rats, bats, termites, roaches, and any other uninvited guests. There are any number of DIY ways to get rid of pests, but if you need to bring out the big guns, an initial visit from a pest removal service will run you $100-$300, followed by monthly or quarterly visits at about $50 each time.

6. Introduce yourself to your circuit breaker box and main water valve. It’s a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. This will take two people: One to stand in the room where the power is supposed to go off, the other to trip the fuses and yell, “Did that work? How about now?”

You’ll want to know how to turn off your main water valve if you have a plumbing emergency, if a hurricane or tornado is headed your way, or if you’re going out of town. Just locate the valve — it could be inside or outside your house — and turn the knob until it’s off. Test it by turning on any faucet in the house; no water should come out.

Is It wise for you to downsize?

Downsizing is something that a lot of people consider later in life. When you’re younger and have a family at home, buying a large home with a backyard makes sense, but later on, for various reasons, selling your home and downsizing to something smaller might make sense for you. If you’re thinking about it, here are some things to consider to determine if it’s wise for you to downsize.

Why are you really moving?

To figure out what the best downsizing decision is for you, the first step is to really think about why you’re thinking about moving and downsizing in the first place. Is it because you want to travel more? Is it because your current house is too big with too many empty rooms? Is it because you no longer want to do the upkeep of mowing the lawn or shovelling the snow? Once you can answer the ‘why’, you can figure out the ‘what’.

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9 Ways to Find the Perfect Tenant for your Investment Property

Have an investment property and need to find tenants? You’ll probably want to hire a real estate agent. In Vancouver, the rental market is very competitive right now, and if you use a real estate agent, you’ll likely get a better, more qualified tenant for your investment property.

1. Get income verified.

This is tricky because sometimes, in order to get the rental, some dishonest tenants write their own letter of employment. So, always ask for a pay stub no older than 30 days along with bank statements showing their pay deposits. If they are self-employed, notice of assessments for the last 2 years will do, or ask for bank statements showing their overall monthly cashflow.

2. Get a full credit report, not just their credit score.

Just getting a credit score number isn’t enough. Always get a full credit report done so you have a full understanding of how healthy a tenant’s finances are.

3. Get their ID verified

I always ask to see their driver’s license, and get a photocopy of it. Believe it or not, tenants try to fake their identity as part of the application process just to get into a rental unit.

4. Get 10 post dated cheques.

There’s nothing worse than having to chase down a tenant for rent each month. It’s annoying, and sometimes a tenant may even end up giving you a cheque once the rent is actually past due. It’s easier for everyone involved if you have all of the post-dated cheques written and signed up front.

5. Get references.

Aways ask for at least 3 references, and I call each one of them. You want to know how they were as a tenant, if they paid their rent on time, if they kept the property clean, and obeyed the rules that were set in place in the agreement, like not smoking and obeying any rules around having pets.

6. Look at their social profiles.

It might seem a little creepy, but someone’s social profile can tell you a lot about them and how they’ll treat the unit they’re renting. A professional profile on Linkedin with recommendations? Probably a qualified tenant. Hundreds of pictures of them partying? I’d continue to look elsewhere.

7. Get a pet deposit

If they have pets, then always get a pet deposit. Even if the pet is small, they can still do a lot of damage to floors and carpeting over a long period of time.

8. Get a security deposit for the key fob, if the unit is a condo.

People lose things, and it’s definitely possible that a tenant would lose a fob. They aren’t cheap to replace, so it’s best if you get a deposit in case it does get lost.

9. Get proof of tenant insurance.

I always want to know that the tenant has their content of the unit insured. Things can happen, and it’s important to know that everything is protected in case something does.

Client Review

Thank you for the kind words, Patricia! It was a pleasure working with you:

“I had such an amazing experience with Maureen as my realtor. It was my first time selling a property and needless to say I was a tad intimidated with the whole process. Maureen made it so easy and as stress free as possible by inspiring my confidence and trust. I knew I was in good hands as she was always a step ahead. She was professional, detailed oriented, focused yet so personable. She has such a great personality with lovely energy and is so easy to talk to. She made the process fun and exciting. And I am proud to say my condo sold within a week and more than the asking price! I would definitely work with her again.”

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