Friday, September 23, 2011

Sizing up a home - How to look past the home staging

More and more home sellers are turning to home staging to put their property in its very best light. As a buyer, you need to look beyond the d├ęcor and any staging tricks such as trendy furniture and take an objective look at how the home will fit your needs.

Pay attention to the floor plan. This will get you thinking about how you and your family will use the space. Your home needs to fit how you live, both now and in the years to come. Don't forget to check for adequate closet space and storage areas.

Look for necessary renos or repairs. For major renovations, you may wish to include the cost in your overall home financing – ask your mortgage broker if this is the strategy for you.

Also, if the seller has completed renovations, make sure the workmanship and materials are good quality. A sub-standard reno won't last for the long term, which means costs for you down the road.

Assess the location carefully. The house may be perfect for you, but the neighbourhood also needs to be a good fit. Schools, restaurants, shopping, transit, and area "walkability" all are factors to consider.

Remember the home inspection. Especially for older properties, a home inspector will examine the main systems of the home, such as electrical, plumbing and heating, as well as the roof and foundation.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Top tips for moving up

Move up buyers include many types of people: growing families needing more space, couples with grown children who want a smaller home closer to urban amenities, or multi-generational families living together who need a home with both space and privacy.

If you're thinking about whether the time is right for a change, moving up begins with a careful understanding of your needs and wants:

Get an accurate picture of your financial situation.
How much of a mortgage payment can you reasonably afford? Factor in other debts and expenses as well as long- and short-term savings goals like postsecondary education expenses for the kids and retirement for you.

Be realistic...
...about how much you can sell your home for and how much of the proceeds you'll have available for a down payment on your next home.

Know your financing options.
Many mortgages are portable between properties, and may have a "blend and extend" provision allowing you to keep a favourable rate. Also, getting pre-approved for a mortgage means you'll know how much house you can afford.

Be specific about your needs.
If you have two kids with another on the way, be on the lookout for houses with plenty of bedrooms and areas to entertain and raise growing children. Take play and study spaces into account.

Consider the neighbourhood.
If you have kids, check out the reputation of the schools that your children would be attending. And finally, factor in the neighbourhood's proximity to work, shopping, restaurants, and other important places you'll be frequenting.