Understand market value: No matter the listing price, a home will typically sell for what it's worth. Silver recommends determining the home's market value-by consulting a real estate agent or looking up comparable properties on the Canadian Real Estate Association's Multiple Listings Service (MLS)-and bidding that amount. If the house is listed for $100,000 less than it should be, most of the offers won't make it past the first round.
Put in your best offer: When up against two or three other bids, give your best offer right away, Silver recommends. If you don't get the house, you can at least feel comfortable knowing that you tried your best. Remember that putting in your best offer doesn't mean going beyond your budget. Determine your limit and stick to it.
Nix your conditions: Removing conditions from your offer may make your bid more appealing. The financing condition is fairly easy to remove, as long as you have completed the mortgage approval process before bidding. You may also want to eliminate the home inspection condition. That doesn't mean forgoing the actual inspection - pay to have it done before you make an offer, not after.
Be prepared to walk away: While it's good to be optimistic that your bid will win, you and your agent need to be ready to move on. I say to my clients: we'll put in our best offer, but there's a good chance we'll be out looking for houses again tomorrow. For more information on buying a home please visit, www.genworth.ca
(NC) Interior designers have a favourite saying about the decision to go all-white in a bathroom - "At its best, it will be the most spectacular room you ever designed; at its worst it will be perfectly satisfactory." In other words, always safe, and sometimes, out-of-this-world. What makes the difference?
A lot depends on what you put into it. An all-white background will showcase anything to its best advantage. Tone-on-tone white adds another dimension. Marble, quartz or gleaming white tile always brings a degree of sophistication and elegance. White towels, co-ordinated accessories and lighting all encourage an oasis-like ambience.
Not all whites are created equal. For example, there are 140 colours in the Benjamin Moore White and Off-White Collection. There are grey whites, blue whites, and pink whites. A warm white beside a cool white can , very subtly, accentuate architectural details and create a look of luxury. But, be sure to check the
light levels in your room before you choose the wall colour and bathroom fixtures.
Like fine sheets, a white bathroom encourages relaxation where you can escape all the stresses of the day. It is a place where you can linger in the shower or fill the tub and use your favourite bath oil to luxuriate in your own private world.
A range of fixtures is available, including sculpted toilets, vintage faucets, rainforest showerheads and free standing soaker tubs, as well as useful, but beautiful, accessories The styles shown here can be viewed and saved online at www.americanstandard.ca.
Do you feel that? There's that recognizable chill in the air. Fall's back with its shorter days and changing leaves. It's time again to shut down the cottage for the winter.
You spend so much time and money on your family cottage, that it only makes sense to do all you can to protect it. By being as thorough as possible, you'll not only keep out the weather and little critters, but according Desjardins General Insurance, you'll also keep your property insurance costs down by reducing the chance of damage over the winter and any resulting claims.
Keep in mind that on average closing your cottage can take up to four weekends. Aim to be finished by the Thanksgiving weekend because the cold and frost tends to arrive earlier in cottage country. Here's a brief check list to help you stay organized:
• Take a good look around your entire property. Identify anything that may need an emergency repair before you close for the season and make sure there's time to get it done. A good example is roof repairs because snow and ice over the winter could make the problem much worse.
• Animal and weather proof your place:
Clean out the gutters and the chimney. Before you leave for the season, be sure to cover the chimney to keep out the weather and animals.
Check for and seal any small openings.
Secure and seal all the windows and doors.
• Make your cottage burglar-proof. Ultimately, you want to your place as uninteresting as possible. If you have a gate at the entrance of your driveway, chain it up. Tidy up outside, packing up all outdoor furniture and removing any fire hazards. Inside, close your blinds, curtains and/or shutters.
• Clean out your kitchen and fridge. Canned food can expand and possibly explode over the winter and other food items can attract mice. Leave your cupboards spotless so that you won't come back to any surprises in the spring. If you'd rather not bring it all the way back to the city, consider throwing an end-of-season party for your neighbors or donate it to a local food-bank.
• Turn off the water, electricity and in some cases the natural gas. Be sure to drain the pipes to prevent freezing and cracking. Pouring environmentally friendly non-toxic antifreeze (used in RVs) into your toilets is a good idea if you're unable to drain them completely.
• Last but not least - enjoy the winter!
For more tips on how to save money on your cottage insurance, visit Desjardins General Insurance at www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance.com.
Have you heard of the window covering device called Panel Track?
It is mounted on or near the window frame for many practical and esthetic reasons. Designed by Levolor Window Fashions, this specialty track gives you a selection of vibrant shades and draperies - and it also filters incoming light. The Panel Track contributes color and texture to the style of the room; panels move smoothly and stack neatly.
"Other window coverings can do this, but only Panel Track can do it on the largest possible scale, covering and uncovering a whole wall of ceiling height windows and walk-outs," says Mary Dobson, spokesperson for Levolor in Canada and also a guest expert on CityLine. I think this option is brilliant for homes with large windows and patio doors. Now I can say it with even greater conviction, because this fall the company is launching an enhanced collection of fabrics that will extend the appeal of Panel Track in open concept homes - and also in condos and lofts, because it functions so well as a room divider."
Dobson points out that the track is modern, sleek, easy to operate, and it reduces light and glare without sacrificing the view. It can be mounted within a window frame, on the wall surrounding the frame, or hung from the ceiling. And combining it with other shades - such as roller shades - couldn't be simpler, because Panel Track shares the same extended range of fabrics as the other window fashions for a totally co-ordinated space.
"We have been seeing a steady increase in the use of soft window treatments, Panel Track included," says Mike Muyal, director of marketing for Levolor. "We expect this trend to accelerate in the fall, with the new fabric collections. Now, we truly have something for everyone - sheer and solid, woven and natural, with many designer patterns in subtle shades."
Take a look at Panel Track and the expanded range of fabrics at www.levolor.ca.
(NC)-Do you want to know if your new home is energy-efficient? Here are some questions to ask your builder:
1. How do I know your homes are truly energy efficient?
2. Since all builders must meet the requirements of the building code, what makes your homes different from other builders' homes?
3. How do your building techniques reflect the latest developments in housing technology?
4. What steps do you take to improve the energy efficiency of the homes you build?
5. Can you predict what my energy costs will be?
6. What makes your homes more environmentally friendly than others?
7. Do you participate in the Government's energy efficiency initiatives for new homes?
8. Do you affix a government-backed energy label to your home?
9. Do independent, licensed professionals inspect the energy efficiency of your homes?
10. Do you build homes that receive an EnerGuide rating of 83 or higher or its equivalent?
If you aren't getting the answers you want, then you better think twice about your builder.
In a market where sellers are in competition to make the most out of their largest investment, improving your home's first impression is one of the best ways to set it apart from the rest of the pack.
When prospective buyers or renters drive through your neighbourhood, what do they see? This is a really important question that you need to answer because it will help understand what your buyer is going to be looking for in a new home. Once you've answered this, ask yourself objectively if the front of your home is in keeping with the rest of the houses on your block. The first impression is critical in setting the mood for prospective agents and buyers. If your home's exterior looks like it needs work, then people immediately assume that it's a 'fixer-upper'. The opposite is true if your front yard is manicured, the roof is in good shape and the driveway is in good condition. Having a potential buyer walk into your front door in a positive mode can translate into big dollars for you.
Both Virginia Tech and the University of Guelph did studies in 2011 that measured the effect of landscaping on property values, and they both came to the same conclusion. To improve curb appeal, basic landscaping increased the home's value by 5%, but more extensive landscaping including decks and patios increased the homes value up to 15%.
So where do you spend the money?
Set your budget and be realistic about what you're trying to accomplish with it. Keep in mind that you are trying to create an excellent first impression to attract potential buyers. This isn't the opportunity for you to realize your landscaping dreams. Consider a new paint job using a colour scheme that highlights the character of your home. Install a new front door or at least update your door's hardware. Even something as simple as full and healthy planters can make a favourable impact.
One of the easiest ways to improve curb appeal is to have a clean and tidy front yard with a manicured lawn. Maybe this is the opportunity to invest in some new tools to help do the job properly. The best part about this type of investment is that not only will your plants and lawn look better with edging, pruning and cutting, you also get to take your new tools with you once you've sold your home.
The technology for landscaping tools has made the purchasing task much easier as well. Now you can get a hedge trimmer, string trimmer or sweeper & vac all in one system. With the Black & Decker 36V Lithium system, for example, you can use the same battery and charger for all three of those tools. A quick prune of the shrubs with the hedge trimmer, followed by a 'one-around' with the string trimmer and then tidying up with the sweeper will help you to maintain the front yard as short as 10 minutes per day.
The goal is to create an emotional connection at the first glance of any prospective buyer, so before you put that sign on the lawn, be sure to spend enough time at the curb.
(NC) Working in a 'green' office building isn't just good for the environment; it's good for your health.
We've all been there - at a desk job for 35 to 60+ hours a week, sitting all day long with harsh overhead lighting and bad air circulation. Now imagine working in a space that was specifically designed to provide fresh air, less noise pollution and more access to natural daylight, all while sustaining the environment. That's what it's like to work in a green building.
Furthermore, a 2013 study from the National Research Council of Canada made a clear connection between working in a green building and happier employees. The study concluded that those employees experience fewer sick days, better sleep quality, and fewer physical or mental symptoms associated with office work.
Not only do you benefit personally from working in a green building, but you will be actively making a difference to the environment. For example, since 2005, the buildings that are certified to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which include some of Canada's greenest structures, have:
• Saved over 3.3 billion litres of water or 1300 Olympic swimming pools;
• Saved enough energy to power 54,307 homes for a full year; and
• Reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 58,980 cars off the roads for a year.
Green office spaces are becoming more common across Canada with many of the downtown office towers in major cities already LEED certified or targeting certification. But how do you know if you're working in a green building?
Look for signs in the lobby that indicate it is certified LEED, BOMA or Green Globes. You can also ask your facilities manager about what green initiatives have been implemented, or encourage them to consider greening some of their practices. Organizations like the Canada Green Building Council (www.cagbc.org/leedcanada) are also a valuable resource to help you or your employer get started.
Sources: Do Green Buildings Outperform Conventional Buildings?, Birt, Newsham et al., NRC RR-329, 2013
Dishwasher: Most homeowners believe that the regular use of a commercial rinse aid is enough to keep a dishwasher clean. Melissa Glover, an appliance specialist for Lowe's stresses that regularly cleaning the seams and liner of your dishwasher is also imperative to its effectiveness. "Over time, residue and food particles build up, and can affect the outcome of your wash cycle. Bacteria buildup can also cause lingering, unpleasant odours." Glover recommends using a scouring pad dipped in baking soda to remove residue and stains from the interior surface and crevices of your dishwasher. Next, fill the detergent pocket with lemonade powder (yes, lemonade) and run a regular cycle (or cleaning cycle). The ascorbic acid in the powder will help to safely remove any remaining buildup, and will leave your dishwasher smelling clean and fresh.
Oven/ Range: Cleaning an oven can be a tough job. However there are natural and effective alternatives for cleaning even the toughest baked-on spills. Start by loosening any baked-on food inside your oven using a plastic spatula. Next, squeeze the juice from 2 lemons into an oven safe dish, and throw in the lemon remains. Turn on your oven and bake the lemons/juice for 30 minutes at 250 degrees. The citric acid will help to loosen any residue that may still be inside your oven, while releasing a fresh lemon scent. Using the rough side of a scouring sponge dipped in baking soda, scrub away the remaining debris, and wipe the oven clean using a cloth and warm water. You'll be amazed at how fresh your next lasagna will taste, after being baked in a naturally cleaned oven.
Refrigerator: It's hard to believe that the cleanliness of your fridge can impact the taste and lifespan of your non- perishable foods. Glover further explains that cleaning your refrigerator monthly with natural ingredients can dramatically extend the life and quality of your produce. Start by removing all of the food from your refrigerator and discarding items that are aged or expired. Combine ½ cup of baking soda with 1 tbsp of vinegar and stir to form a thick paste. Apply a small amount of paste to a soft scouring pad, and scrub away any stains that may exist. Follow by wiping the refrigerator clean with a damp sponge (an old toothbrush can be used on small spaces and crevices as well. ) Shelves and drawers should be removed for cleaning if necessary. Don't forget to vacuum the undercarriage of your fridge, and to wipe down the outside using a cloth with warm water and vinegar. The same steps can be followed to clean your freezer, however you'll need to work quickly and use hot water to rinse. Keep a small carton or bowl of baking soda at the back of fridge to help keep it fresh.