Top 5 Home Staging Tips

In many city centres across Canada, housing prices are at an all-time high and still climbing. According to home staging expert Alyssa Tavazoie of Alyssa Interiors in Toronto, if you want your house to look like it's worth every penny of the (substantial) sum you're asking, putting your home's best foot forward -- and then some -- is a must. Here are some of Tavazoie's tried-and-true home staging tips:



1. Depersonalize. A potential homebuyer needs to picture herself in your rooms, and quirky decorating or pictures of the kids hurts the illusion. Remove all family photos and, if necessary, paint brightly coloured walls a more neutral shade.


2. Make sure everything in the house is in top condition. No torn screens, cracked plaster or burnt out pot lights. You may have gotten used to seeing them, so tour your house with a critical eye (or ask someone else to), and repair anything that needs it.


3. Chandeliers. One of Tavazoie's favourite low-cost, high-return investments is chandeliers. "People think you have to spend a fortune on lighting, but you can go to any big box store and get beautiful ones for, at most, a few hundred dollars," she says. "Many houses don't have enough lighting to begin with, so if you're having the electrician in anyway, have more overhead fixtures installed -- or at least buy some great lamps."
 

 

4. Be aware of scale in the house when it comes to furnishings. You might have a giant sofa that you love, but if it makes the room look small, it has to go. Aim for small groupings of furniture (ideally more than one in a room, especially a large one), with plenty of space around them.

5. A clean kitchen. Kitchen counters should be clear and clutter-free. A single bowl or vase holding cooking utensils is okay, but that's about it. Store small appliances in cupboards if you must.

 


Dominating Mississauga Condo Market

    According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, Mississauga condos accounted for 540 of the 566 total transactions in Peel Region for the first 3 months of the year.  The city of Brampton mustered only 25 total leases. Caledon which is not known for condos managed only one lease.

    Of the 540 Mississauga condo rental transactions, 279 involved one bedroom condos at the average lease rate of $1,394.  Two bedroom condos were the second most popular among leases totaling 242 transactions at a rate of $1680.  There were 1,160 total condos listed at that time making for a list to lease ratio of 47%.

    By contrast the city of Toronto totaled 3339 condo leases during the same period.  One bedroom condos went for an average of $1,647 while 2 bedrooms brought in on average $2,250.  Toronto landlords listed 6863 condos making for a list to lease ratio of 49%.

    Some key numbers reported by TREB in their First Quarter Market Report was the GTA saw a 13% increase on a year over year basis for condominiums rented.  The 1 bedroom average monthly rent for condos was up almost 4% at $1,597 when compared to Q1 of 2012.

  According to TREB, the 2012 Fall Rental Market Survey indicated that Peel contributed 22.7% or the GTA condo rental transactions while only having a vacancy rate of 0.6%.  On the other hand Toronto accounts for 23.6% market share while having more than doubled the vacancy rate of Peel at 1.4%.

What does this mean for a Mississauga condo investor?

    The numbers don’t lie.  There are lots of people trying to make money as indicated by the share volume of listed leases.  Even though the lease to rent ratio is sub 50%, landlords who do lease their condos are making more money.

    This is can be attributed to a couple factors.  Perhaps renters are looking for nicer accommodations with modern renovations.  Some condo owners may need to invest some money to make their condo more desirable.

    Another factor in some condos not being able to get a lease is location.  Certain locations are attractive because of amenities which are nearby which tenants want.  Access to public transit and conveniences are a big draw for people.  Square One condos are a prime example of this and condo fees can be higher than in other parts of Mississauga.


What can be the future for Mississauga Condo renting?

    In my opinion the trend probably won’t change over the next year.  There seems to be no shortage of condos on the market right now.  The condos which are competitively priced with respect to location, size and have the fit and finish tenants are looking for will have no problems attracting business.

    On the other hand landlords who expect top dollar for run down condos will eventually have to make a decision to get out of the business or spend the money to make their potential tenants happy.

 


The Pre-Approved Mortgage Advantage

Mortgage Preapproval


A pre-approved mortgage can help you look for a home with confidence.

Looking for the home of your dreams?  Many people think the first step is to start going to open houses and researching the market.

But before you start looking for a home, your first step should be to get pre-approved.

What does this mean?

A pre-approved mortgage simply means that you have reviewed your financial situation with a lender and you know what you can afford to spend on a home in terms of purchase price, down payment, legal fees and other closing costs.  It basically means you know how much you can borrow based on your current financial situation.

There is no cost or obligation to have a mortgage pre-approval and you will know in advance what the mortgage payments could be and the interest rate will usually be guaranteed for 120 days or approximately 4 months.

That means you are protected if interest rates increase while you are house hunting.

Your realtor can now locate and most importantly negotiate with confidence on the home that is right for you.

It is worth noting as a buyer, that it is in your best interest to enlist the aid of a realtor to work for you.  They will work to ensure your needs are met and best of all it doesn’t cost you a nickel as the seller has to pay the buyer agent commission!

Avoid the disappointment of finding your perfect home only to learn there is no way you can afford it!

As a mortgage specialist, I ensure that I take a consultative approach with all my clients so they fully understand their options and they leave fully educated and excited to get their realtor working for them to make that home purchase a reality.


Top 3 Real Estate Myths

 

As the real estate market significantly rebounds, some buyers and sellers are testing the waters for the first time. Understandably, they come into the market with assumptions about how it works.

These assumptions may come from TV reality shows or hearing about others house-hunting experiences. New buyer or seller’s assumptions are sometimes based on outdated or generalized “real estate myths.”

Myth No. 1: Spring is the best time to sell a home.

Historically, real estate seasons were tied to summer and the end of the school year. Families were the typical buyers or sellers, and they wanted to move during the summer so their kids could start school in September. That’s how spring became the prime selling season. It’s true there are still more homes for sale in the spring, which means there’s a lot of activity and buzz. But spring isn’t necessarily the best time to sell a home anymore.

The reality: The best time to sell is during the holidays and right after.

Today, more than half of buyers aren’t married, and their decisions aren’t based upon school schedules. So spring isn’t as relevant as it used to be. Instead, anytime is the best time to sell a home!

It’s a supply-and-demand issue. Most sellers assume buyers aren’t seriously looking during this prolonged holiday season. And yet, many buyers are looking at properties in person and online right up until Christmas Eve. If the right home goes on the market in mid-December, a serious buyer — and there will be a lot of them — will take note.

After New Year’s Eve, most buyers jump back into their routine with a resolve to get into the real estate market, even though many sellers wouldn’t even consider listing in January. The net effect: Savvy sellers will face less competition for a still-strong pool of buyers during this period. And that makes November-January a great time to sell.

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Myth No. 2: Always start with your lowest offer.

There’s no generalized strategy for making an offer on a home anywhere, ever. A seller could have overpriced or underpriced the home on purpose. Some markets may be more competitive than others. But, somehow, in the back of the buyer’s head is the saying “never offer the full asking price.” That strategy might have worked in some real estate markets years ago. But times have changed.

The reality: A low offer may get you nowhere fast.

A buyer in a strong, tight inventory market today would be wasting their time making low offers right from the start. It’s likely a home that’s priced right and shows well can receive multiple offers, sometimes even over the asking price. Instead, work with a good local real estate agent to understand the market. You’ll quickly learn after a few weeks on the open house circuit (and maybe a disappointment or two) that starting low may not get you anywhere.

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Myth No. 3: A cash offer trumps all.

There’s an assumption that a seller, considering two different offers, will always go with the cash offer because there’s less risk. As a result, many buyers who hear they’re competing with a cash offer assume they won’t get the home. They may not even make a formal offer. At the same time, many cash buyers assume that because they’re paying cash, they can make an offer below the asking price, and it will likely be accepted.

The reality: A savvy seller may be more tempted by a solid financed offer.

Consider a seller with a home priced at $399,000. The seller receives two offers: One is a cash offer of $375,000. The other is an offer for the full asking price, with 25 percent down, a bank pre-approval letter and swift contingency periods.

A good buyer’s agent, upon learning their client is competing with a cash offer, will arm the seller with lots of data supporting their client’s finances, such as a credit report and verification of income or assets.


The First-Time Buyer is Back

Just a few weeks ago, the house on East York’s Marlow Ave. would have looked like a simple starter home — two bedrooms and two bathrooms crammed onto a 17-by-93-foot lot, listed for $469,900.

But by Monday night, after the barn-shaped detached home sold for $525,000 in a flurry of eight competing offers, it became symbolic of something much bigger.

The first-time buyer is back.

“January can be a very volatile month. I’m usually struggling for buyers. But I cannot remember having this much business coming into the new year,” says listing agent Carolyn Griffis of ReMax.

Mortgage brokers have also seen a surge since Christmas in would-be home buyers, especially first-time buyers, looking to get preapprovals or to renew approvals that lapsed last fall and winter as they headed for sidelines, waiting for the housing market to cool or crash.

“There seems to be a lot of pent-up demand in the first-time buying community,” says long-time mortgage broker Joe Sammut of Mortgage Architects.

“People seem to have let the dust settle (since the market started softening last summer) and they’re saying, ‘Maybe it’s time to buy now that we’ve had six months more to save up and see what is happening in the marketplace.’ ”

In fact, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) is reporting a strong start to 2013. Home sales were down just 1.3 per cent in January over a year earlier, welcome news after six months of largely double-digit decreases. And prices were up 4.3 per cent last month across the GTA, according to figures released Tuesday by TREB.

The average sales price of a GTA home last month was $482,648, up from $462,655 in January, 2012.

Assuming the turnaround holds, “expect annual price growth in the three to five per cent range this year,” says TREB’s senior market analyst, Jason Mercer.

The strong January “suggests that some buyers, who put their decision to purchase on hold last year due to stricter mortgage lending guidelines, are once again becoming active in the market,” said Toronto Real Estate Board president Ann Hannah in a statement.

She noted that sales were especially strong in the suburban regions around Toronto, citing the dampening effect of the city’s land transfer tax. But affordability can’t be discounted: The average sales price of a detached house in the city was $765,049 in January compared to $563,675 in the 905 regions, TREB’s January sales figures show.

The resale condo sector remains soft, with TREB reporting a 5.1 per cent decline in sales in January over a year earlier. The biggest drop in sales (6.4 per cent) was in the 905 regions, compared to a 4.5 per cent decline in the city.

The average price of a resale condo in the 905 regions dropped 1.4 per cent to $269,073, while units in the 416 area were down 1.3 per cent to an average $340,295, says TREB.

Townhouses saw the biggest decline in sales in January year over year in Toronto, with sales slumping 11.2 per cent. Prices, however, were up almost 2 per cent, to $418,262. That compares to a 1 per cent increase in 905 sales and a 5.6 per cent increase in price to $359,271.

The sale of detached homes in the 416 region declined 7.6 per cent, but prices held steady, up 2.7 per cent year-over-year. Sales of detached homes in the 905 regions were up 3.7 per cent and prices up almost 7 per cent, TREB reports.

Some 4,375 homes changed hands in January compared to 4,432 a year earlier.