Lifestyle October 28, 2022

Halloween Treat > Caramel Apples

 

Since Halloween is coming up this Monday, I wanted to share my all-time favourite Halloween treat. My mother and I made them when I was a kid, and we gave them out to trick-or-treaters. Those days are gone, but the nostalgia still lives on.

 

Caramel apples are a super versatile treat. They are crunchy, creamy and delicious. Eat them plain or enjoy them with various toppings, like peanuts, melted chocolate, cookie crumbs, marshmallows or other delectable treats.

 

Before we begin, I want to warn you that making these can get quite messy and be prepared for a complete kitchen clean-up, but trust me, it’s worth the mess.

 

Apples that work best for this recipe are crunchy, firm apples, like granny smith, fuji or even my favourite honey crisp! Choose a small to medium-sized apple that is firm and round, with no soft spots.

 

After your apples are selected, you will need:

 -a candy thermometer

– a heavy-bottomed saucepan

– a wooden spoon

– strong wooden sticks: we will be stabbing these into the apples, and they will act as the handle for the apple

– a pastry brush: to push the sauce down into the pan and remove the excess caramel from the apples 

 

Ingredients:

 

8–9 cold apples

1 and 3/4 cups (420ml) heavy cream

1 cup (240ml) light corn syrup

2 cups (400g) packed light or dark brown sugar

1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Instructions:

 

Prep:

 

  1. Wash the apples thoroughly. Scrub them to remove as much wax coating off as possible to help the caramel stick better. (organic apples with no wax coating might work nicely for this too). 

Remove the apple stem so that the stick can be inserted into the apple easily later.

 

  1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat. Or grease the baking sheet with butter. 

DO NOT use wax paper or parchment paper, as the caramel will stick to it.

 

Make the Caramel dip: 

 

  1. Combine the heavy cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. 

Do not turn the temperature up or down– keep it at medium the entire time the caramel cooks. 

Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted. 

Once melted, brush down the sides of the pan with a water-moistened pastry brush and attach a candy thermometer to the pan, making sure the bulb is not touching the bottom of the pan (as you’ll get an inaccurate reading).

 

  1. Without stirring, let the mixture cook and bubble until it reaches between 235°F – 240°F. 

Reaching this temperature should take about 15 – 20 minutes, though don’t use time as your guide because it depends on your stove. 

Don’t be alarmed if your caramel is taking longer. Just use the candy thermometer as your guide. 

The temperature will heat up slowly, then move quickly, so keep your eye on the pot. 

Once at 235°F – 240°F, remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla. 

Avoid over-stirring, which can create air bubbles in the caramel (and then on the apple). 

Allow caramel to cool for 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened. 

If caramel is too thin to coat apples, let it cool and thicken for 5-10 minutes longer.

 

Dip the Apples: 

 

  1. Holding the caramel apple stick, dip the apple into the warm caramel, tilting the pot as needed to coat all sides of the apple.

Lift the apple up and swirl it around or gently tap it against the pot’s side to let excess caramel drip off. 

***After dipping the apple in the caramel. If using extra toppings, place toppings on a shallow pile on a plate and roll the apple around in the toppings.

Place coated apples on the prepared pan. 

Repeat with remaining apples. 

Enjoy immediately or allow caramel to set about 45-60 minutes. 

If you want to wrap the caramel apples in cellophane treat bags for travel/gifting, wait until the caramel has been completely set.

 

  1. Once completely cooled for displaying or serving, place the apples on wax paper or another nonstick surface. 

Even when the caramel has been completely set, caramel apples may slightly stick to a serving dish.

To eat a caramel apple, you can bite right into it or sit it upright on a cutting board and cut slices around the stick. (Or pull out the stick and slice.) These are great for sharing!

 

  1. Loosely cover and store the leftover dipped apples in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Bonus Tips:

 

How to clean a sticky saucepan: 

It’s not always easy or fun, but I have a helpful solution! When you’re finished making sticky caramel, simply fill the dirty saucepan with water until the water covers all of the candy residue. Place the saucepan on the stove over low heat. Let the warm water simmer and melt the sugar off the sides of the pan. Pour out the warm water, then let the tools sit until cool enough to handle. Rinse clean.

 

DO NOT double Batch: 

I don’t recommend halving, doubling, or tripling candy recipes, especially this caramel.

Increasing or decreasing the quantity may work for baking, but the extra or decreased volume could prevent the candy from cooking properly. 

Make separate batches instead.

https://schmidrealty.com/

Selling October 21, 2022

6 Tips for Selling Your Home

Do you plan on selling your home soon? Whether you are selling to accommodate your growing family or retiring and downsizing to a smaller home. This helpful guide will give you a few hints and tips to make selling your home a breeze.

 

Should You Hire a Real Estate Agent?

 

Whether you sell your home privately or with a listing agent is entirely up to you. Both choices come with various pros and cons. 

 

If you choose to sell privately, there are no real estate agent fees, but the time and energy needed to try to sell your home this way might not be worth it. A realtor will have many connections, experience and knowledge that you, as a homeowner, lack. They are an excellent liaison between the two parties, know how to fill out paperwork and will have a network of buyers and the best inspectors and lawyers.

 

Whether you choose a real estate agent or sell privately, these tips will still be helpful.

 

Tip 1: Know the Market

 

The real estate market fluctuates a lot. It can be hard to know the climate of the market and who has the advantage if it’s the seller or the buyer. Check real estate reports to know if the market favours the seller or the buyer. If the market favours the seller, there will be low inventory and the quick sale of homes. If the market favours the buyer, there will be an abundance of inventory and a slow sales rate, with homes sitting on the market for weeks to months. This depends on the economic situation, national interest rates, location, and other factors.

 

Tip 2: Decide on a Listing Price

 

One of the best tips before selling your home is evaluating its worth in the current market. Your realtor can provide a Comparative Marketing Analysis at no extra cost. This analysis will look at a combination of factors, including features of your home, upgrades or renovations, the tax-assessed value of your property, and the selling price of comparable homes in your area.

 

Tip 3: Pick the Right Season

 

The season when you sell your home is equally as important as picking a listing price. There are pros and cons to selling in winter and warmer months.

 

Winter has lower inventory overall, so attracting buyers and offers is easier. There are a few drawbacks to selling in winter, though. Snowfall can make it hard for buyers to view your home and hide important features such as foundation and landscaping—let’s face it, moving also sucks in winter. Try to list in autumn before the first snowfall to avoid this issue.

 

Spring and Summer usually have the highest amount of inventory to hit the market. An active market with more competition for you as a seller. This might be the ideal time for you to sell your home. Consider listing your home at a competitive price to attract more offers if that is the case.

 

If you are not looking for a quick sale, try listing your home in autumn. It is a great time to list because summer is winding down. It is easier for your home to stand out as fewer homes are on the market. There is changing leaves everywhere in autumn to enhance the beauty of your neighbourhood.

 

Tip 4: Staging & Marketing

 

Staging is not only a great way to show off the potential of your house to prospective buyers but also makes the home very appealing in the listing photos. 

Start by decluttering things you don’t need every day and de-personalize the space. If this seems overwhelming, there are many home staging businesses out there that can help you.

 

Click here to open a comprehensive guide to staging your home.

 

To market your home, include these details in your listing:

 

  • Good quality professional photos
  • Photos of your home’s exterior and yard in various seasons–focus on exciting features like a tiered deck, pool, etc.
  • Drone aerial Photography and videography of the property and neighbourhood. This can significantly improve the potential for a sale by up to 70%.
  • Showcase interesting details and wow features of your home. (fireplace, finished basement, kitchen upgrades, etc.)
  • Provide information about amenities, schools, shopping in the area, and walkability to these places.
  • Bonus if you can have a video virtual tour or 3d tour of your home created for you.

 

Tip 5: Showing Your Home

 

Most interested buyers want to see a home in person. There are a few ways to accomplish this: an open house for multiple showings at one or scheduled showings. 

Before viewers arrive, try to put things away and deep clean them beforehand.

 

Tip 6: Offers

 

In an ideal world, you would get multiple offers on your home, and you can select the best one for you. You can accept, counter or reject any offers you receive. Look out for offers that have unappealing conditions or contingencies that must be met before the sale goes through. The buyer’s conditions could be various asks, the most common being a home inspection, secured financing or the sale of their own home. 

Review the paperwork with a lawyer when you get the right offer and are ready to accept it. There might be additional requests before the buyer agrees to close, such as including all appliances or requesting a repair. Your lawyer will ensure the paperwork goes through to the transfer of ownership.

 

Now that you have read through this selling your-home guide, I hope you feel a little more comfortable starting the process yourself. 

If you are looking into selling and/or buying a new home enlist the help of a trusted REALTOR® to help you through the process.

 

BuyingSelling October 14, 2022

5 Ways to Write a Winning Offer

The real estate market currently has more sellers than buyers, however, homes are still receiving multiple offers.

 

Here is a quick guide to help you write a winning offer.

 

Demonstrate Solid Financing

 

Seller’s favour offers that have a higher odds of closing. The truth is, no one gets paid if the home sale falls through.

 

The most solid financial offer is an all-cash offer, but the chance for this kind of offer is realistically low. 

 

The second most ideal offer is to have the financing in place and get pre-approved for a mortgage before the house-hunting process begins. A pre-approval letter shows the sellers that you are able to and are committed to purchasing a home.

 

Another thing to consider is the reputation of your lender, whether it be a private lender or a financial institution. Sellers won’t consider your lender’s reputation, but realtors often do. In general, some lenders are a lot more efficient than others. If you are finding it difficult to choose a lender, your Realtor can help you choose the best one for ease of business.

 

Put Down a Sizeable Deposit

 

A sizable deposit can also increase your chances of standing out as a serious buyer. A deposit is different from a down payment, so make sure you don’t get the two confused.

 

The brokerage or lawyer holds a deposit in trust until the purchase goes through. Once the purchase goes through, the deposit will is applied to the down payment and closing costs. Putting down a larger deposit is risky because you can partially or fully lose the deposit if the sale falls through. Check your contract terms.

 

Deposits can vary in amount, but offering an above-average deposit can show sellers you are serious about the property.

 

Ask for Few or No Conditions

 

Conditions are set in place by the buyer, a series of clauses that the buyer and seller must complete, or they can back out. These conditions appear in the purchase agreement and are legally binding once agreed upon by both seller and buyer.

 

Two of the most common conditions are:

Financing: A financial condition is a financing window of time the buyer has to gather funding for the home purchase. If they can’t meet the financing requirements, they can withdraw their offer, and the seller can move on to other buyers.

Inspection: An inspection condition requires a home inspection to be completed before purchasing the home. Usually, they are meant to discover pre-existing issues with the home, such as structural, electrical, plumbing, etc. Sellers can choose to fix the problems before the buyers move in, or sometimes re-negotiation of the final purchase price can occur, depending on the financial cost and work to be completed. If an agreement is not met, the buyer can choose to withdraw from the contract.

 

The more conditions that need to be met for the contract to go through, the offer becomes less desirable and weaker. In a competitive market, oftentimes, buyers are encouraged to voluntarily waive certain conditions to have the request go through easier.

 

Fewer conditions mean that there is less “red tape” to go through to complete the transaction, but missing things like a home inspection comes with a risk. Perhaps the home has many hidden repairs that will come out of the new buyer’s pocket, as they were not caught beforehand. 

 

Offer a Flexible Closing Date

 

When an owner is selling their home, money isn’t everything. Sometimes having a flexible closing/moving date is appealing because it can create the lead time needed to move into their next home. 

 

A flexible timeline can provide an excellent advantage for first-time buyers. If you are currently renting and can extend your month-to-month lease, this would be ideal for offering more flexibility on the closing date.

 

Doing so might edge out the competition or have no impact at all. Confer with your Realtor to see if this is an impactful move.

 

Work With a Skilled REALTOR®

 

In this competitive real estate market, the most significant advantage you have is to hire a knowledgeable realtor. They will have the skills and know-how to guide you through home buying/selling.

 

Realtors write up offers daily and will know what works well and what doesn’t. 

 

Once your offer is accepted, the Realtor will also be the liaison between you and the seller/buyer. They can write up the paperwork and lead fair negotiations. They should have your best interests in mind and the knowledge to make your home-buying journey lovely.

 

A competitive offer in today’s market doesn’t necessarily mean the highest bid or the one with no conditions. These tips should help you sweeten the deal and hopefully get you in the house you want.

Now that you have all the information to write a winning offer, try it yourself or with the help of a trusted local REALTOR.

 

HomeownershipLifestyle October 7, 2022

7 Fall Decorating Trends

 

 

Autumn is a beautiful time to slow down, reflect and wear a scarf. Your wardrobe is getting cozy, and your home is also a place to add warmth. It’s time to change your summer decor for bold, dark colours, rich woods and textured blankets. Refreshing your home for fall doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are a few inspirational trends to help you get started.

 

1. Fall Porchscapes

 

Porchscapes are forecasted to be the hottest trend of the season. The easiest way to bring the fall to your doorstep is with pots of mum flowers and a scattering of pumpkins. To elaborate on this trend, try a mixture of lanterns, wooden signs and twinkling lights. Other than adding a lot of curb appeal to your home with porch arrangements, it also is the time when people get together outdoors.

If you have an oversized porch, you can quickly add a table and chairs, invite guests, and have an instant setting to entertain.

 

2. Earthy, Nature-Inspired  Colours

 

Oranges, reds, and yellows come to mind when thinking about Autumn, but if these colours are too vibrant for you, there are a few other colours to consider. If neutrals appeal to you more, try decorating with browns and tans. For a more rich colour palette, explore navy, greens and chocolates. Using these colours will elevate your space and add a sense of luxury. While these tones aren’t classic fall colours, they are worth trying. 

 

If you still prefer the classic colours for Autumn, try one or two earth tones to mix things up. Experiment with pillows in navy or greens, or line your table with a bold runner to contrast with the orange and yellow decor. Try integrating metals like gold and bronze to add more flare to your space. 

 

3. Entertaining-Ready Spaces

 

Following almost three years of enduring a pandemic, people are looking forward to the holiday seasons again by preparing their homes for entertaining. Living rooms and dining rooms should be the primary focus for autumnal decorating. This season engages all five senses by experimenting with textures, like comfy blankets and pillows, candles or oil diffusers, visually pleasing decor like pumpkins and fun place settings. Get all things cozy this fall and winter!

 

4. Textural Fabrics

 

Try laying out some throws and textured pillows for the ultimate cozy vibes as it gets colder. Think chunky knit blankets and pillows in velvet materials or with tassels, and incorporate rich colours to welcome the fall season. Refreshing your sofa or bedding can be as easy as adding a layer of bold-coloured pillows and throwing on various textures.

 

5. Cozy Sanctuaries

 

In the past few years, most of us have been at home longer than usual and are seeking coziness over style—why not achieve both? Take the cooling of temperatures as a sign to create a comfortable place to rest after a long day. Outfit a chair or a window seat with a lush pillow and a textured throw, and add a few books next to it and a candle for the ultimate comfort.

 

6. Dark Kitchens

 

Dark kitchens are slowly returning in the last year or two, which is exciting. White kitchens have had their moment, but it’s time for a change. Autumn is a great time to renovate or experiment with bold colours in the kitchen. It’s time to update your kitchen with warm earth tones and deep jewel tones.

 

If you want a simple and inexpensive kitchen renovation, install a new dark tile backsplash in various colours or textures. Additionally, you could change out your faucets and lighting fixtures for bronze or gold tones to usher in those fall vibes.

 

7. Bold Patterns that Add Personality 

 

Bold patterns are a great way to add personality to any space. Start by adding patterns to smaller rooms such as mudrooms, bathrooms or even hallways to spark happiness. Adding a stunning texture wallpaper with bold colours and patterns is a surefire way to liven up any space. If hanging permanent wallpaper scares you, trying a vibrant paint colour will also do the trick. Add an accent rug to a hall or mudroom to bring coziness and a pop of colour.

 

Enjoy these autumnal ideas and decorating tips inside of your home this fall. It’s as easy as adding an earth-tone colour, various textures and a sprinkling of coziness.

Don’t forget to maintain the outside of your home and prepare it for fall.

Contact your local REALTOR® to find a fabulous home to decorate for fall.

Lifestyle September 30, 2022

How to Make Your Bookshelves Shine

 

I have often thought about having wall-to-wall bookshelves and a library, but then there is the issue of trying to fill up the shelves thoughtfully. Careful curation of objects and books can add charm and personality to your space. Here are a few great ideas to mindfully decorate without cluttering up your bookshelves.

Stack Books Horizontally and Vertically

The secret to styling a bookshelf is to create areas of interest. Start by stacking your books horizontally and vertically to engage the eyes. If you plan on adding objects around the stacks of books, leave gaps. A few well-placed items or artwork give the bookshelf a flare of your personality and break up the visual cues.

Pro tip: Mix and match the colours of books in the stacks to add an eclectic flare, or if that isn’t your style, format the books with like colours for an organized look.

Lean Art

Artwork is a fabulous way to style your bookshelves like a pro with added visual interest. Create a bookshelf design moment by placing framed art and ornate objects amongst your books. Place taller artwork and objects on the top shelf for added drama. Try to layer different art and frames to create a relaxed multi-layered look.

Create Vignettes on the Shelves

To prevent over cluttering your shelves or having it look like a thrift store, try to create vignettes (curated style statements) on each shelf. Focus your efforts on creating cohesive vignettes one by one to not overwhelm yourself. Start by adding books vertically and horizontally, then consider adding complementary objects and artworks—be careful not to overfill the space and keep some blank space to visually break things up.

Hot tip: Arrange your vignette books and objects in different ways, changing up the colours, style, textures, heights and shapes. A great rule of thumb is to arrange in odd numbers.

Add Greenery

Plants bring a lot of beauty, life and freshness into a home. When paired with a matching decor pot, they add vibrancy and colour to your shelves with little effort. Plants are ideal for creating height or adding a stunning trailing plant to cascade over a ledge. Check out fake plants or statement vases with twigs/dried grasses if you are worried about keeping live plants.

Use Bookends

Bookends are not only art pieces but also functional to showcase books in various ways. Unique bookends can add a lot of style and texture to your vignettes. If you aren’t keen on bookends, using heavy potted plants to prop up books is a great alternative. 

 

I hope these tips have given you an idea or two on how to style your bookshelves with purpose. If you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and carefully select your best pieces and books to display. My all-time favourite shelving units are from String Furniture.

Contact your local REALTOR® to find a great house to create your little library!

 

HomeownershipLifestyle September 23, 2022

Basements, More Than Storage!

 

Basements are a waste of space to some people, but they don’t have to be. They can serve many different purposes than just a storage facility. If your basement is finished or you’re thinking about finishing it, consider some fabulous ideas below!

 

Home Theatre 

Take that extra living room and turn it into a home theatre. It is a perfect option for those cold winter days. There is nothing like cozying up with loved ones and watching a movie or binging a tv show. A basement is the perfect open space to have a projector on the wall and a comfy sizeable sectional couch. If you want to splash out, install some home theatre chairs with cup holders to make the viewing experience truly unique.

Personal Gym

A basement gym would allow you to pump the tunes and drop weights without disturbing the neighbours or other floors. A one-time single investment in gym equipment is all you need to get started. The convenience of having a home gym would put money back in your pocket and help you lead a healthier lifestyle. The excuse of travelling to a gym would be a thing of the past, and the whole family could get into a fitness routine.

Playroom

A playroom is another excellent option for all that extra space. Kids toys can quickly take over the whole house, and creating a dedicated playroom would keep the clutter downstairs. Brighten up this semi-hidden home area with a bold colour paint choice and install wall decals for an added flare.

Library 

We all have books scattered around the house—imagine if they were all in one place in a library-like space. Some ideas would be to install custom built-in shelving (or a wall of bookshelves), oversized rugs, cozy chairs, pillows and lots of soft lighting. Create a special place to read, enjoy, and relax after a long day.

Home Office

A designated workspace might be your ticket to being more productive overall. The basement is separate from the rest of your home, making it the ideal location for a quiet home office. Since the basement is a wide open space, there is a lot of room to get a large desk and chair then you normally would have. Plus, your body will thank you for going up and down the stairs during the day for added movement.  

 

Basements are blank canvases and can be used in many different ways. Try maximizing the extra living space and make a perfect escape for you and your family.

Contact your local REALTOR® today to find the perfect space!

Lifestyle September 16, 2022

How to Host Guests Stress-Free

 

Are you planning to host a group of people, and you feel the anxiety building up?

These helpful tips will guide you through everything you need to know about becoming the ultimate host.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Whether you are hosting a quaint get-together or an elaborate party, it is essential to remember that no one will notice minor mishaps along the way.

The trick to being a great host is having good energy and encouraging everyone to enjoy themselves. At the end of the day, people are there to have a good time, see you and eat some delicious food.

Simplify your Menu

You don’t need to cook a five-course meal to throw a great party. If you feel overwhelmed, try minimizing your menu to fewer and less complex items. Prepare a recipe that you have made a hundred times that always turns out fabulous; this will relieve the stresses of it turning out. 

If you are pressed for time, make the gathering a potluck and have everyone bring their favourite dish, or better yet, grab something from a local restaurant or catering company.

Ask for Help

Planning and prepping a large meal is no easy task. It is always better with friends and family to help make the meal. Whether in the form of a potluck or helping with simple tasks, like setting the table, lighting candles or tossing a salad, don’t be afraid to turn down help. Encourage your company to get involved and have fun while you’re at it.

Don’t Procrastinate

If you are a lot like me, you excel at procrastination. Stress makes everything come together within minutes—but I don’t recommend this.

Avoid leaving tasks and planning to the last minute. Try not to feel stressed when you are shopping for groceries. Go a few days before the big day and prep what you can ahead of time—frozen, ready-to-bake lasagna, anyone? Ensure you clean your home and clear out guests’ closets days before, so you aren’t scrambling to do it the same day. 

Set up DIY Drink Stations

Everyone has different tastes in food, and the same goes for drinks. A fun way to let your guests mingle is to set out a DIY drink station. Set out a variety of cut fruits, herbs and garnishes for mixing and matching. This will allow you to set out things ahead and save time once guests arrive. You can go all out with a full bar, drink dispensers, and even set out a drink mixing recipe book for those looking to get creative. Of course, set out a variety of tonic waters and non-alcoholic beverages as well!

Give Away Leftovers

Leftovers are bound to happen after a big meal, and the last thing you need in your fridge is half a cheesecake. Divide up the leftovers between guests to set them up for a nice lunch or supper the next day—keep some inexpensive plastic containers or takeaway boxes handy for these occasions. Not only is this a great way to free up your fridge space, but also to be generous.

 

Hopefully, with these helpful tips, you are ready to plan that next party with friends or a large family supper with ease. Remember to have confidence in yourself and project positive energy; everyone will feel at ease and enjoy themselves.

Contact your local REALTOR® to help you find a great home if you require a great entertainment space.

HomeownershipLifestyle September 2, 2022

9 Simple Autumn Home Maintenance Tasks

 

 

Autumn is a time for coziness, pumpkin spice and candles; however, it should also be a time of home maintenance preparation before winter. Here are a few essential items to perform around the house before it gets cold.

 

1. Clean, or possibly replace your gutters

Cleaning your home’s gutters is a key task to do around fall’s end. Removing all the leaves and debris will prevent flooding from melting snow or rain in spring. If you are nervous about attempting this yourself, there are always professionals that can help. Allowing water to flow freely and moving it away from your house will prevent your exterior from getting damaged or flooding. If your eaves are damaged, consider getting them replaced as soon as possible.

2. Check for drafts

Drafts near windows and doors are very common, mostly in older homes. To prevent heat loss (or cooling from a/c), install weather stripping in those areas, caulking to seal up holes, or spray foam for larger areas. Over 20% of heat loss occurs through drafts around windows.

Tip: Slide a piece of paper between the door frames and windows. If it slides easily, you need to update the weather stripping.

3. Drain the outdoor faucets and underground sprinklers

Drain all the hoses, hose attachments and most importantly, the water faucets. Turn off all the outdoor faucets and the main valves inside your home. This will prevent freezing and your pipes from exploding— disconnect your hose attachments from the hoses to mitigate rust forming and permanently fusing them together. Blowing out your underground sprinklers is also crucial. If you are unsure how to do this yourself, hire a professional to do this task.

4. Bring your outdoor furniture and barbeque in.

Outdoor furniture is exposed to the elements for many months, with winter having the most extreme weather conditions—so it’s a good idea to store your set away to add to the longevity of its life. While you’re at it, put away your barbeque if you have the space to prevent rusting and damage. Outdoor living can become expensive if you purchase a new furniture set yearly. If you lack the storage space for your outdoor items, buy good quality covers and tack them down.

5. Fix cracks in your driveway and foundation

Cracks in your driveway and foundation can become big problems if not correctly cared about. Regarding your foundation, mice and other critters can quickly burrow into small holes and cracks. Driveway cracks can be unsightly, with weeds growing out of them or, even worse, split into potholes. It seems tedious to fill these small cracks, but you will thank yourself in the long run.

6. Change filters

Filters are often forgotten, but they should be changed frequently if the heat and air conditioning are on all day—especially in the peak summer and frigid winter. It is an inexpensive way to maintain these units and have them run efficiently.

7. Fertilize the lawn

Fertilizing the lawn in the fall is a great way to protect your grass from those cold winter days. The roots of your lawn are still growing even as it gets colder out. To keep your grass looking great in spring and summer, fertilizer is key. Doing this task will also help your lawn turn green faster in spring. 

8. Test winter equipment

Autumn might seem too early to think about winter, but here in Canada, we can get snow as early as September. To ensure a great winter season, check your snowblower and shovel’s condition before it gets frigid—not only will it be more pleasant to check these things out when it’s warmer outside, but you won’t have to worry about a broken snowblower when the snow falls.

9. Change batteries

A good rule of thumb is to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices yearly. Since you are already completing a list of other tasks, checkmark this off your list while you are at it.

 

Here are a few recommended tasks to accomplish before it cools off at the end of the year. I recommend performing many of these maintenance items while it’s warmer out and save yourself the headache of trying to do them when it’s freezing outside. 

If you are interested in purchasing a home in the fall, contact your local REALTOR® today!

BuyingHomeownership August 26, 2022

5 Things to Know About Buying Rural Property

 

 

Many homebuyers are looking to escape to a rural property and avoid the hustle and bustle of the city. It may seem like a dream to live a quiet country life, but there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge. 

 

1. Check the Zoning

It is vital to check how the rural property is zoned. The zoning will dictate how you can use the land, what types of buildings are allowed and the location. The property might be zoned as residential, agricultural or country residential, among other titles.

How the property is zoned can affect lenders, the amount you qualify for, and what you can do with the property. Some lenders are hesitant to finance agricultural/country residential zones due to differences in lending and foreclosure processes.

 

2. Property Boundaries

Once the property has been zoned correctly, the next step is to book a survey. A survey will mark the property boundaries and avoid any future controversy. Now would also be a great time to appraise the land and its value.

 

3. Considering the Land and your Mortgage

In most cases, lenders follow the basic mortgage formula: one house, one outbuilding and up to ten acres of land. What purchasers don’t realize is that the amount of land can drastically affect the mortgage qualification and what you can borrow. If there is extra land or additional buildings on the property that is being purchased, consider that you will need over 5% of the typical down payment.

 

4. Water and Sewage 

Rural living can have various water and sewage options, from city water and sewage to private wells and septic tanks. Plan to get an inspection done to ensure everything is safe and working correctly and make it a condition of the purchase offer, including testing the water quality and getting the septic tank inspected. Inspections outside the city will cost more than inside the city, but having a piece of mind will be worth it. The inspection will be an essential step as lenders will sometimes request potability and flow tests.

 

5. Coverage Matters

Coverage becomes very important when living outside of the city limits. Here are the top two rural property coverages you should consider:

  1. Home insurance: It’s no secret that home insurance costs more for rural properties due to the distance from the city’s fire stations and hydrants, but it is vital to purchase.
  1. Title insurance: This is the other essential insurance to purchase. It will protect you from unforeseen disturbances with the deed or transfer. It will also make you aware of any improper use of the property (i.e., dumping waste). 

 

Here are a few guidelines if you are considering purchasing a home or land in a rural area. However, there are many more things to ponder. Seek a mortgage professional specializing in rural properties and locations to make buying one easy. 

Contact your local REALTOR® who is familiar with the countryside properties to aid in your search today!

 

BuyingHomeownership August 12, 2022

Down Payment for Buying a New Construction Home

 

A newly constructed home is an excellent option for new home buyers. It allows you to pick the features you want. They are move-in ready with new appliances. You could even pay a little more and add things like a fence. Buying a newly built home is more complicated than purchasing a resale house, but completing your own research and hiring a knowledgeable agent can help you through the process.

 

Benefits of Using a REALTOR®

A REALTOR® might not be your first choice when buying a newly constructed home, but you should seriously consider it. It’s easy to feel like paying an agent isn’t the best deal, but they will bring a wealth of experience to the transaction. However, the buyer doesn’t have to pay a commission when the home is newly built. The builder pays the commission to the REALTOR®. If you are buying a resale or new pre-construction property, this is the same in both cases. An agent would be familiar with the builders in the area and which ones to recommend or avoid. It is also possible to find an agent that specializes in new construction, and they can highlight the best deals on the market.

 

Research the Builder

In the age of technology, many resources are available to the buyer, such as doing your own research about a builder. Many websites offer reviews and allow people to make more precise choices themselves. However, hiring an agent can also be beneficial to cross-check facts and obtain a second opinion. There might be a few “popular” developers, but one should check the number of homes they have completed, if they were on schedule, or if they were cancelled or delayed.

Some builders’ homes might appear perfect, with all the wants a buyer needs on the surface, but read reviews to ensure they don’t cut corners or if previous buyers have had past issues. Another thing to keep in mind is that for the last two years, lumber prices have skyrocketed, and building materials have become scarce, which drives up the costs and adds delays in construction.

 

Higher yet Flexible Deposits

One advantage of buying a new build is to stagger the deposit payments, and you will end up paying up to 20% overall, compared to just 5% of purchasing a resale home. Most builders want a 5% deposit upfront, then the other “15%” payment schedules can vary between 4, 9 and 18 months, depending on the developer and schedule.

 

No Bidding War

The best part about buying new construction is paying a fair price and not going into a bidding war with other buyers. The price on the market is fixed, and the home will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. If the home lacks a few things on your list, it’s relatively easy to make a higher offer to the builder and have those items included in the price, such as a fence, appliances or central air conditioning.

 

Immediate Appreciation of the Property Value

Completing the home will most likely add immediate value to your home, even if the wait to finish it is months away. If you are purchasing a new build townhouse or condo, the value may have decreased by completion. Property values depend on various factors, including location, finishes, size, etc. The finishes of a home will add the most comfort and resale value to your home, plus the added touches will help show off your personality. Be on the lookout for current real estate trends and choose wisely.

 

Better Choices, Fees and 10-day Cooling-Off Period

When purchasing new, there is a 10-day “cooling off period,” which allows the buyer 10 days to decide if they want to back out on their offer with no penalties.

The condo location choices are better, such as which floor you will live on and the location.

Often, the condo fees of a new condo are low because management has yet to see how much it costs to operate and maintain the building. However, be wary and consider those condo fees could rise steeply over the years.

Buying a newly constructed home can be beneficial, but building delays are likely due to supply shortages and changes. Ensure that your down payment and finances are all in order before purchasing a new home. A local REALTOR® can help you find the right solution for you.