Tips for Buying and Selling a Home
Tips for Buying a New Home
There are a number of factors involved in calculating your affordability. The most important being:
Secondary are your assets and liabilities, and your own lifestyle and debt comfort zone.
Use the Mortgage Calculator to estimate the maximum mortgage you can afford. Click on the key to see the mortgage calculator.
Lenders use two simple rules to determine how much of a mortgage you can afford. The first being that your monthly housing costs should not exceed 32% of your gross monthly household income. Housing costs include monthly mortgage payments, taxes and heating expenses. If applicable, this sum should also include half of the monthly condominium or strata fees.
Your entire monthly debt load should not be any more than 40% of your gross monthly income. This includes housing costs, and other debts such as car payments, personal loans and credit card payments.
When preparing your home to sell, you need to begin to look at it in a whole new way. Think of your home as a product that is being put on the market shelf where it is competing with every other “brand” of house out there. In order to draw attention to it and ultimately sell it, it needs to look great, show well and be well kept. The first order of business is to have the house and yard clutter-free and well groomed.
Everyone today lives busy lives including most home buyers, actually new home buyers are usually more than busy because chances are they are selling their old home, and relocating, or planning the purchase of a new home possibly even for the first time, so they are not interested in taking on the huge challenge of major repairs or improvements before moving in. Here are some tips to ensure your home looks fresh, clean and well maintained when the FOR SALE sign goes up.
If you know of any improvements that are needed, do the work first, before it goes on the market, this includes even the small things like leaky faucets. Potential buyers are not interested in the promise of you fixing small defects; good intentions do not sell homes. Even if fix-up work is underway, buyers may not be able to visualize what the home will look like when the work is completed, what they will remember is that the home was in a state of disrepair.
Today most serious buyers are required by their mortgage lenders to have a professional home inspector check the house from top to bottom before financing is approved. Doing this for them, before you have an offer saves the potential buyer work and money and can help you identify problems on your own. This is your best way to find and take care of serious defects before your potential buyer discovers them.
This practical, easy to follow guide for homeowners will help you identify common house problems, in it you will find tips offering effective solutions for every room in the house.
How does the home present from the street? This is the first impression the potential buyer will be faced with; stand at the curb in front of the house and note what it is you see.
- Remove any clutter from your yard and carport.
- Repair cracked or uneven driveway or walkway surfaces.
- Remove any weeds or growth from driveway or walkway surfaces.
- If your lawn has bald spots, re-seed, prune trees and shrubs of dead wood, weed and mulch flower beds. During the correct seasons, consider buying some flower-filled planters to enhance the eye appeal of your property. Make sure your lawn in mowed at all times and ensure that the composting area is tidy.
- Clean all windows and walls, if necessary pressure wash the outside walls.
- Make sure the front door is not in need of repair or paint.
- Clean all eaves and downspouts and insure they are in good repair.
- Are all your walkways clean and clear? Power wash, and paint or repair where necessary.
- If you have a swimming pool, when in season are the deck and pool areas clean and clear of debris? When not in season is the pool cover in good shape and placed correctly.
- Are all outside lights in good working order? Replace any burned out bulbs, clean fixtures of dirt and cobwebs.
- If you have a shed, is it presentable?
- Do windows and exterior doors need re-caulking? Even at 6–7 years of age, the caulking may be dried out and in need of replacement.
- If you have any fences or a gate, are they in good repair and working properly?
When you have completed the curb appeal inspection, carefully take a good look at the rest of your home’s exterior and determine if anything else needs to be done.
Don’t worry about having to climb onto the roof to inspect it. If you are uncomfortable about doing this, just grab a pair of binoculars and do it from the ground. If you do choose to go onto the roof be careful. If a roof repair is simple no problem, however if it is in need of more work than just applying new caulking, it would be wise to hire a professional to do the big stuff.
- Check the general condition of your roof. Sagging sections, curled shingles, pooled water on flat roofs and corrosion on metal roofing mean it is time for repair or replacement. Make sure all through roof fixtures like pipes are not in need of re-caulking and the fascia on the roof structure is not rotted and in need of painting.
- Both masonry and metal chimneys need to be straight and structurally sound, have proper capping on top and watertight flashing were they penetrate the roof, also make sure the chimney is cleaned on the inside for fire protection.
- All roofs undergo stress from snow and rain loads, so a truss or rafter may become damaged, resulting in a noticeable small depression, a professional should do this inexpensive repair.
The condition of your exterior walls directly affects the sale ability of your home.
- Replace old caulking. You may have to cut or scrape away old caulking to get a good seal? Are your drainage or ventilation gaps clear of debris.
- Is your exterior paint in good repair? If you see faded colours and cracked or peeling surfaces, you need to repair or touch up.
- Vinyl siding can be cleaned with a pressure washer, but defects or damage to it and to metal siding usually means replacement.
- Stucco can be repaired but some skill is required to blend patches with existing stucco.
Prospective purchasers usually enter the residence for the first time through the front door, so that is where you should begin your inspection and clean up. You want the buyer to be presented with a neat, clean, well lit interior. Remove all clutter; ensure that carpets are clean and floors are scrubbed and polished; and that walls and trim show fresh paint.
Take a deep breath; are there any unpleasant odors in the home? If so, track them down and eliminate them. Ensure all the lights work and are free of cobwebs. You want your home to look spacious, bright and fresh.
If you have a lot of family memorabilia, consider thinning it out for the time. Your objective is to help potential buyers feel as if they could live in your home; this mental leap becomes more difficult for them if your house resembles a shrine to your family.
Professionals say the most important areas of your home to upgrade and modernize are the kitchen and the bathrooms. Buyers also want to see new or recently installed floor coverings throughout, however if this is to costly just make sure what you do have is clean and serviceable.
- Check stairs for loose boards, ripped carpeting, and missing or loose handrails and guards.
- Most problems with interior walls are cosmetic and can be repaired with spackling and compound paint.
- Ensure doors open and shut properly. Minor sticking is normal but excessive binding indicates possible structural problems.
- Open and close all windows to ensure they work properly. Fogging between the panes of a sealed window indicates the seal is broken and the unit needs to be replaced.
- Keep furniture to a minimum so rooms do not appear smaller than they are. Ensure that traffic can flow through rooms unimpeded. If they contain bookshelves or cabinets overflowing with books, magazines and knick-knacks, remove some of these items.
- Ensure closets look spacious, organized an uncluttered. Create space by getting rid of old clothes and junk.
- Remove or lock away valuables such as jeweler, coins, currency, cameras and compact disks.
- With people splashing water around the kitchen and bathrooms you need to check around the sinks, tubs and toilets for rotting countertops and floors. Problems could be due to poor caulking or plumbing leaks. Fogged windows, molds and sweating toilet tanks usually indicate high humidity levels, which can be remedied with exhaust fans.
- In the kitchen, clean all appliances, including inside your oven and fridge. Clean or replace your greasy stove hood filter. Clean and organize your cabinets inside and out, as well as your countertops and back splashes, repair any dripping faucets.
- Remove anything stored on top of your fridge and remove artwork and magnets.
- Remove any items stored on countertops.
- Remove items stored under the sink.
- In the bathrooms, scrub sinks, tubs and toilets, taking care to remove any rust stains. Remove mildew from showers and bathtubs. Fix dripping faucets or trickling toilets, and vacuum your fan grill.
- Clean mirrors, light switch plates and cupboard handles.
- Consider installing a new 6 litre toilet if you currently have water-guzzlers.
- If you have ceramic tile in either your kitchen or bathroom, ensure grouting is intact and clean.
The condition of the foundation and main structural members in the basement are critical to the fitness of any house. The purpose of your inspection is to make sure these are sound and durable
- Look for cracks, water seepage, efflorescence (white powder-like substance), crumbling mortar or concrete, and rotting wood. If any of these problems are present, you need to do further research to learn about causes and possible solutions.
- If you basement is damp or musty, consider using a dehumidifier.
- Like all other areas of your home, your basement should be organized and clutter-free.
- Change the filters in the furnace and have all ducts cleaned-this is the number one item purchasers want done after a home inspection.
- If you have a pet with a letterbox, ensure the litter box is clean.
- Get rid of the broken tools, old car parts, discarded bicycles, empty paint cans and the hundreds of other useless items that accumulate in garages. Again, you want a clutter-free zone.
- Remove oil stains from the floor.
Now you have inspected your home and taken care of all the problems. You are ready for showing. You will need a plan of action that assigns duties to each member of the family so that the place can be quickly whipped into shape.
- Open all drapes, blinds, etc. and turn on lights to make the house bright.
- Air out the house to get rid of cooking, pet odors, and so on.
- Have fresh flowers prominently displayed.
- Pick up any additional clutter, and empty all garbage cans.
- Make sure everything is spotless.
- Set your thermostat at a comfortable level.
- Remove pets from the house or put them outside.
- If you have an agent, leave when the house is being shown. If you are selling yourself, you need to strike a balance between being helpful and crowding the buyer.
- In poor weather, provide the place for boots, overshoes and umbrellas.
- Display photos of the house in summer to show landscaping if selling in the winter months.
- Leave on the table heating and hydro bills.
- For those on a septic system and/or well, leave out inspection and maintenance information.