Questions for your home inspector
Do you want to know the best ways to maintain your investment? If so, read on! I caught up with Ed Pottie from Greener Inspections for some home maintenance tips that will help keep your property looking its best as we head into this warmer weather.
What are 5 things every homeowner should do in the spring (that most people don't do)?
What are some common things homeowners forget about that are found during inspections?
Why should a homeowner do a pre-inspection for their home before listing?
A pre-inspection is great to do so that you can be aware of any issues that may pop up before a potential buyer does their own inspection. There are also times sellers can use the pre-inspection report as a selling tool.
If a seller chooses to share their inspection with potential buyers, it may sway the buyer from choosing to do their own inspection. I like to think that if there is any way to limit "surprises" during the home purchase process, it can only be beneficial for all parties involved!
How often should a homeowner have their home inspected?
I'd say maybe every 5 years or so. It always helps to have a fresh set of eyes look at your property for any potential issues.
Things to avoid as a buyer
Do you have your heart set on a new home? Well, as the summer months approach it may be the right time to submit an offer. But before you get too excited, the market is not showing any signs of slowing down. Here are my top tips for buyers trying to secure a home this summer.
Know what you can afford.
There’s more to buying a home than just the sales price. Changes in your interest rate can really add up. Even a small increase in that percentage can mean the difference in thousands of dollars in purchasing power.
Mortgage rates are the lowest they’ve ever been and if you’re pre-approved you’ve locked in that low rate for three months. But as interest rates start to climb your pre-approval amount may decrease once your pre-approval expires, eroding your purchasing power. [Not to mention changes in the stress test that came into effect 1 June 2021.] So if you're planning on putting in an offer, be sure to have a current preapproval and touch base with your lender about how changes in the stress test might have affected your upcoming purchase.
Don't skip the pre-approval.
The market is cutthroat right now and homes are selling within days of being listed. So if you see a property you want, you’ll have to offer on it ASAP. You may not have time to get a formal pre-approval from a lender between the time a property is listed and the offer deadline and this is something that most sellers will want to see along with your offer.
Don’t get your heart broken by scrolling Viewpoint, waiting to get pre-approved, or putting off finding an agent. If you find a home you love, you HAVE to be ready to act fast.
Don't offer the minimum deposit.
When you’re buying a home, your mind is wrapped up in a million different things. But if you’re buying in a hot seller’s market, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about deposits.
When you make an offer on a house, you will be asked to provide a deposit which is a promise to the seller that you won’t dip out on the purchase process.
A minimum of 1% of the offer price is expected for a deposit but a larger deposit will make the sellers take notice. That can make a big difference if your offer is swimming in a sea of other similar offers. The good news is that the deposit will form part of your down payment on closing day.
How much exactly should you put down as a deposit? That really depends on how much you’re offering for the property, what you can afford and how long the closing is. Talk with your agent to develop the right deposit strategy for you.
Work with an expert.
One of the most common real estate myths is that all real estate agents are the same. This myth can lead to buyers and sellers making big mistakes when selecting a real estate agent to represent their interests. Every agent has different skills, different experience levels, and different traits.
Make sure you work with someone who understands how the industry is right now, what pitfalls to look for and how to protect you during your viewings and purchase.
If you're thinking of entering the market and aren't sure what to start or how to craft an offer that gets accepted, hit reply to schedule a buyer's consultation.
If you're thinking of entering the market and aren't sure what to start or how to craft an offer that gets accepted, contact me to schedule a buyer's consultation.
Update on Border closures
On May 10th, the Nova Scotia Government announced that the Nova Scotia border would close to those moving to the province.
This was followed up with an announcement of compassionate exemptions to enter Nova Scotia for individuals who had a lease or closing on (or before) May 20, 2021. However, this announcement left a lot of uncertainty for those with leases or accepted offers with move-in dates following May 20th.
The province has recently addressed this uncertainty. People can apply to move to Nova Scotia with immediate family members who live in the same household if they have:
Due to volume, they expect that it will take a week for an application to be processed and only people who plan to arrive before July 1, 2021 will be considered at this time. People who plan to come later should wait until about a week before their travel date to apply.
Have a rental property to sell?
The provincial government has introduced a new ministerial directive under the Emergency Management Act which will require landlords to gain residential tenants' consent for in-person showings in cases where the property is being sold. The directive is in effect until June 30, 2021 unless extended.
The directive doesn't mean there can't be in-person viewings, but that landlords must get consent from the tenant to show houses/rental units and the tenant must agree to the time/date of the showing.
All showings must comply with the current public health restrictions. If the tenants are not willing to allow in-person showings, you may enter the unit with one other person to take photographs, a video or other digital content to use for virtual showings.
If you’ve been in Halifax for long, you probably know of a business that makes our city an exciting and vibrant place to live. A patio that you enjoy in the summer, a boutique you can’t walk by without stopping in—places that Halifax wouldn’t be the same without.
During the third wave of COVID-19, a number of these small businesses have had to pivot their operations or close completely as we work together to flatten the curve. Here’s a list of ways you can support your favourite local businesses during the current restrictions:
Support Your Local Coffee Shop
The third wave has seen a resurgence in the walk-up coffee window. So if you are out and about and in need of a caffeine fix, skip the large coffee chain drive-through in favour of an alfresco coffee pick-up.
And while you're there, grab some beans to go! If there is anything I can guarantee, it’s that you’ll need that coffee for the next few weeks. (Especially if you’re working from home with your kiddos there!)
Consider paying it forward with an act of kindness by paying for the order behind you. Now’s the perfect time to bring a smile to someone else’s face.
Support Your Local Restaurant
Feel like kicking back and skipping the dishes for the night? Call your favourite local restaurant directly to order meals to-go rather than using apps to order where possible. Restaurants lose up to 30% of your order when you order using an app instead of calling for curbside pickup.
Bonus Tip: Add a gift card to your order to use on take-out or to save for later when dine-in is available.
Support Your Local Brewery/Winery
Order a six-pack to enjoy at home.
Stock up on different wines or beers and plan to do a mini tasting at home as a “date night in.” If you’ve ever eyed a cool mug or t-shirt at the pub before, now’s the time to buy merchandise to help your favourite local businesses. Picking up a set of matching tasting glasses will bring an authentic feel to your home tasting event.
Support Your Local Gift Shop/Boutique
Many shops are still open for curbside pickup and have worked hard to make sure their full selection is available online. Many have their current hours, ordering procedure and pickup times available on their website and social media accounts.
You can also buy gift cards online and gift to your friends for birthdays/special occasions, or save them to use around the holidays to make Christmas shopping easier.
Nothing breaks up the boredom of being at home like taking a short trip out within your community to do a curbside pickup.
Support Your Local Bakery
Miss going out for coffee and baked goods? Order ahead and pick up goodies for the whole family to enjoy at home, or while taking a walk through a park or trail in your community.
Bring a smile to friends and neighbours by picking up some extra goodies and slipping them into mailboxes for a surprise. (Making sure to text them in case they already checked the mail!)
Need a large order? Be sure to call ahead so they have plenty of time to get your order right.
Support Your Neighbours
You never know what your neighbours might need unless you ask. Find out if they need help picking up an online grocery order or need someone to help arrange appointments for testing and vaccines online. Maybe they just need someone to chat with safely from your respective yards.
Or buy some extra canned goods and drop them off at a shelter/food bank or look into other local programs that help at-risk populations.
No Extra Money?
You can still support your favourite small businesses by:
HOW CHANGING COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS ARE IMPACTING THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY IN NOVA SCOTIA (Updated May 10th)
With COVID-19 cases surging in Nova Scotia, there have been a few changes that impact the real estate market in our province. On Friday the NS government announced that the NS border would close to those moving to NS until the end of May.
While the purchase and sale of real estate can continue, there are a few things that will affect buyers.
Buyers cannot come to Nova Scotia to house hunt, even with isolating, until the border restrictions have been lifted. Only people who have a new permanent address are allowed to enter, and they must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
Restrictions also affect buyers currently living in Nova Scotia, as buyers are not permitted to attend a viewing or an inspection if the property is outside their community, which is defined as their municipality. An Agreement of Purchase and Sale does not fall under the travel restriction exemption for legal reasons.
We have also been asked to limit real estate activities to those deemed essential - i.e. if you are a renter and your lease is expiring this would be deemed essential but if you are shopping for a vacation property this would not be seen as essential and you should put your plans on pause until after restrictions are lifted.
Fines for not following health regulations are as high as $2000 per person as of Sunday.
Relocating to Nova Scotia? Here is some additional information just for you:
Moving to Nova Scotia - The Exceptions
On Friday the NS government announced that the NS border would close to those moving to NS until the end of May. As of May 10th, the Province announced that compassionate exemptions to enter Nova Scotia for individuals who have a:
Send your compassionate exception request to firstname.lastname@example.org and include the following travel details:
Planning to travel to NS, please review the Provincial website here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/restrictions-and-guidance/#compassionate-exceptions
Once individuals have entered the province, they must continue straight to their new home to isolate themselves for 14 days. This means that you’ll need to come prepared with everything you need for those 14 days or make arrangements to have supplies dropped off in a contact-free method.
What’s Stayed The Same
In the Real Estate Industry, we stay committed to making sure our clients, and the public as a whole, are safe.
5 reasons to build over buying
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
— Albert Einstein
This quote has come to mind a couple of times over the last few months—typically 6 months into a housing search or around offer number 8 for my buyer clients.
It's after several disappointments and stressful multiple-offers situations when it becomes apparent that we need to regroup and try a different strategy as the market continues to heat up.
Maybe it's paying down debt to increase their purchasing power, looking a little outside their desired neighbourhood, or becoming open to taking on a few more renovations (hey, pink carpet isn’t that bad).
A few weeks ago, I was standing inside a 3-year-old home on a very undesirable lot—no privacy, super long driveway, drainage ditch in the middle of the front yard—a home that would be very tough to sell in any other market, but in this market would sell for $50,000 over asking.
This was our 'time to regroup' moment. I realized they could build this home, brand new, on a nicer lot for the same price that this home would sell for.
If you are looking to make a move but don't want to wade into the current resale home market, here are the top 5 reasons to consider building in 2021.
Shrinking Inventory of Resale Homes
There are very few resale homes on the market; the number of active listings is actually at a 30 year low.
This limited selection of homes means you could be waiting a very long time for a home that suits your needs to come to market.
Choosing to build a custom home means that you can work with a builder to design your dream home or tweak existing plans to get exactly what you want – no need to wait for the perfect home to hit MLS
Avoid the bidding wars
Where multiple offers have become commonplace in the resale market, the supply of available lots in most new neighbourhoods exceeds the current level of demand. Meaning you can skip the bidding war and purchase a home for list price.
New construction homes are priced based on the market value and cost to build, meaning it's unlikely that you will overpay for a home.
Skip the renovations
When shopping for resale homes with buyers, there are very few times when a buyer walks in and says “I love absolutely everything about this house.”
They often have a laundry list of items that they plan to change after purchasing the home, whether it's something small like paint colour or something much larger like the layout.
By building, you have the opportunity to choose the finishes including flooring, cabinets, siding, trim, and paint colour to ensure the home is uniquely you, right from the start.
One of the most challenging aspects of buying a home in 2021 is trying to plan, especially if you have a home to sell—putting you into tough competition with new homebuyers moving from apartments at the home seller's convenience.
It's hard to know when the perfect resale home will come to market or if you will be the successful bidder. Building gives you the certainty of knowing what your next step will be and often gives you 8 months to plan.
Gain peace of mind
Most builders are partnered with a new home warranty program.
This often includes a 1 year bumper to bumper (or deck to deck) warranty which covers any issues that may arise in your first year of ownership plus a 7-10 year warranty on major structural defects, giving you peace of mind on your investment.
Planning your March break staycation in halifax
It's March again and this year's March Break is stacking up to be a #Staycation instead of a vacation off in sunnier locals. That doesn't mean it can't be an adventure! One of my favourite parts of being a Realtor is exploring neighbourhoods across Nova Scotia, so here are my top picks for family-friendly March Break activities around the HRM.
downtown halifax art walk
Did you know that there are over 20 murals located in Downtown Halifax? A self-guided tour of these murals and other public art pieces can be found on the Downtown Halifax Business Commission’s website:
Downtown Halifax Art Walk
Because it's outside, this activity would make for a good chance to join up with close family friends for a walk downtown in the warming temperatures.
I recommend starting your exploration at 5151 South Street where you can pick up one of Rousseau Chocolatier's house hot chocolates before heading to the core of downtown. Make sure to have your camera ready!
Weather not cooperating?
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia will be open for extended hours —March 11-21, consecutively— over March Break. You can explore their current collections including Gigante's Mechanical Eye: Views Of 19th Century Naples which is running from February 1st to May 9th alongside their extensive regular exhibitions.
Photo by @pie_humble on Instagram
Lunch In Downtown Dartmouth
Looking to make a day of it? Take the Ferry to Downtown Dartmouth where you can grab a Humble Pie to refuel, before checking out the 15 public art pieces on the Downtown Dartmouth Art & Selfie Walk.
Photo by @adelenatalieb on Instagram
Skating at the oval
Enjoy a skate time at the Emera Oval. Over March Break, The Oval will be offering 6 one-hour skates per day. Skaters can register up to 48 hours in advance of their desired skate time, meaning if you hope to skate at noon on Wednesday you can book as early as noon on Monday.
You can book online here or by calling 902 490 6666 between 8:30 am- 4:30 pm daily.
Photo by @acorn_art_photography on Instagram
Take a Drive to Peggy’s Cove
The winter is the perfect time to enjoy this iconic Nova Scotia tourist attraction without all the crowds! Bundle up and head out to watch the waves and explore the rocks. On the way, stop by the new coffee shop/café Labour Day Picnic Café located at Paul’s Hall in Glen Haven. Grab a soup or sandwich off their “Lunch(ish) Menu” or a coffee and a sweet treat from Lure Caramels for the road.
Photo by The Discovery Centre
Visit The Discovery Center
Explore over 40,000 sq ft of fun, hands-on learning experiences or check out their latest feature exhibit, JoyLab!, and discover how your surroundings can spark joy. The Discovery Centre may just be the #1 Stay-cation March Break Destination
Tickets for March Break, March 13-21, can be reserved on a 72-hour rolling schedule. Meaning you can book up to 72 hours in advance of your desired visit date. Tickets will start selling on March 10th at 8:30 am for visits on March 13th and will continue on a rolling basis for the duration of March Break.
Make it an overnight stay
Looking to make your visit to the Discovery Centre extra special? You can pair it with a downtown hotel stay. Check out this great package from the 4 Points Sheraton.
DISCOVERY CENTRE PACKAGE (From $129 per night):
- Overnight Stay
- Free heated underground parking ($25.00 value)
- Discovery Centre family pass ($48.00 value)
- 2 $5 vouchers for Cabin Coffee
Bonus Tip: Dine around Halifax has been extended until the end of March! Check out my top picks for Dine Around Here.
Guest Post: Home Staging for The Real Estate Market with Maureen Kennedy, USC™ of stagehomesright.ca
Stage Right is both a Home Staging and ReDesign service. They work with homeowners, real estate professionals, investors, and builders to provide quality home staging that will bring top dollar sales in your target market. Here's what they had to say about staging your home for listing:
Staging is about making your home visually appealing and welcoming to prospective buyers. In many homes only minor tweaks or temporary adjustments are needed to make your home presentable.
Here are 5 major tips & tricks I always tell my clients:
Our homes are filled with memories that tell our story, but we don’t live in our homes like we sell them. Remove personal items such as family photos, trophies, and sentimental items. Maybe paint that bright coloured wall to neutralize the space, so that prospective buyers can see the chapter of their story as soon as they walk through the front door.
The biggest reason people give for moving to a new house is lack of space in their current house. They feel they have outgrown the space. They are therefore looking for a home that gives them that space, and more to grow into. If they come to your home and see that you are running out of space, it’s the biggest turnoff you could give. Simple decluttering will really make all the difference. Simply pack away items that you don’t need until after the move, to make more space in the house.
A clean home shows potential buyers that you've taken good care of the property. Ideally, you should clean every part of the house, from the floors to the ceilings—and everything in between. Make sure your appliances are spotless inside and out. Likewise, make sure your bathrooms sparkle, from the corners of the tub, to the sink drain, to that spot behind the toilet you don't think anyone can see. Your goal should be to make everything look new.
4. Making the Most of your Space.
Every room should have its own purpose and function as it was originally to be. An example, if a dining room is being used as children’s playroom, then the children’s toys should be moved to another location in the house and proper dining room furniture be set up. Only 10% of the population can see the rooms potential if being used for an alternative purpose.
5. Curb Appeal:
Before a buyer even steps through your front door, you’ve created a first impression. Keeping the outside of your home clean and tidy improves your home’s curb appeal and will make a difference when you’re looking to sell. Simply paint the front door, replace old hardware, tidy your garden and spruce up your entrance by placing a chair and small table to the side of the door.
Listing Cheat Sheet:
The New Year is the perfect time to reflect, so I wanted to take a look back at 2020 in Real Estate. Below are the top trends that dominated the Halifax Real Estate Market last year:
1. Record Prices
I started my first market update of 2020 with a series of news headlines:
In 2020, we saw the average house price in Halifax rise by 14.6% (compared to the norm of 4-6% annually) leaving first-time buyers with fears of being priced out of the market.
What didn’t happen: Back in the spring, CMHC CEO Evan Siddall forecasted a 9-18% drop in average house prices over the next 12 months. This prediction was based on the belief that we would see a high number of foreclosures once homeowners were no longer able to defer mortgage payments.
With prices on the rise and increasing homeowner equity, it is unlikely we will see a high number of foreclosures as sellers in financial trouble will opt to sell rather than foreclose. Several Canadian economists have spoken out and said the CMHC Housing Market Forecast is no longer relevant.
2. Record Low Inventory Levels
We started 2020 with record low inventory levels in Halifax, entrenching the sellers’ market that had been building in our city since 2018.
Add in a pandemic and we saw the number of new listings drop between 65-70% each week as sellers held off on listing their properties amid uncertainty in the market and fear of community spread.
What’s causing these record low inventory levels? Millennials.
The Demographic cohort following Generation X and preceding Generation Z, are now 27-40 years of age and have entered their peak home-buying years. Millennials make up 31% of the population in North America and represent 45% of new mortgage applications. What we are experiencing is termed the Millennial Draw Down.
As such a significant portion of the population enters the housing market for the first time, we are seeing Millennials buy up home inventory at a faster rate than the inventory comes to market.
What slim pickings mean for buyers: Low inventory means you need to be on your toes when you go house hunting—the best homes will likely be snatched up fast. Check out my post on buying a home in a seller’s market for more tips.
3. Spring Market?
The timing of the first wave of COVID-19 in our province disrupted our Spring market which is usually considered the hottest season for real estate. We often see the highest number of new listings and highest number of sales in the spring, but this year people pushed pause on their real estate goals—unable to take advantage of the buying or selling process as it once was.
The lack of a traditional spring market didn’t hurt our overall annual sales numbers. A surge in home sales toward the end of 2020 actually made up for the spring market losses.
13,923 properties sold in Nova Scotia over the course of 2020. This was an increase of 13% from the same period in 2019 and marked the highest level of any year in history, beating the previous record set in 2019 by more than 1,500 sales.
4. Home Became More Important Than Ever
With Canadians spending more time at home, 2020 was the year that 'home' became more important than ever.
It became the office, the school, the gym, the restaurant, the movie theatre and even the bakery—as it seemed that record numbers of Canadians learned to bake sourdough during 2020.
What this meant for the Real Estate Industry is that we saw an increase of potential buyers shopping for homes online as they became keenly aware of the issues with their current home; visits to Realtor.ca were up 35% in 2020.
The type of home searched for shifted. We saw an increase in demand for bigger homes, further from the urban core, that provided the space for the multiple uses we began demanding of our home in 2020.
Commute time mattered less as offices transitioned to work from home – some permanently. And outdoor space became extremely valuable in the wake of public green spaces being shut.
Looking back on this year, 2020 will be seen as the year home became more important than ever.
How to get the best price for your home in 2021
Over the last few weeks, I have been taking calls from several homeowners who are looking to take advantage of this sellers’ market. But maximizing your sale price during a hot market means more than sticking a “for sale” sign on your lawn and hoping for the best.
In order to maximize your sale price, you need to create a high level of demand when listing and position your home for multiple offers. Below are my top tips for sellers hoping to score multiple offers.
In a sellers’ market, there is always the temptation to push the envelope on pricing; to price slightly above the market and set a record price for your home and the neighbourhood.
However, pricing your home above market value will decrease the number of showings your home gets when it hits the market—and the key to getting multiple offers on your home is having multiple showings.
When you price your home slightly lower, it can often create a frenzy among buyers and drive up the price.
Have you ever watched an auction? It's like that, where everyone wants to acquire the home for a bargain, but the demand and attention it gets from other buyers increases the resulting sale price and maybe sets a record price for your neighbourhood.
This doesn't mean you have to give away the farm. When looking at recent solds for your neighbourhood, it’s best to list your home as a slight discount—not at a slight premium—to attract the most buyers' attention.
2. Give potential buyers and agents lots of time to view.
As I mentioned above, in order to maximize the sale price—we need to maximize the number of showings.
You don’t want to miss a qualified, motivated buyer because you had too many other showings booked or too many restrictions around showing your home.
Only a year ago it was common for homes to list and accept offers on the same day. Which sounds great in theory, but this limited the number of agents and buyers who were able to view the home before offers were reviewed and accepted.
Accepting the first offer to come in limits the opportunity for multiple offers and can prevent you from maximizing your sale price.
Is each day your home sits on the market inconvenient? Yes. Frustrating? Sometimes. A challenge to keep the place clean and ready to view? Absolutely.
I recommend listing your home and setting a specific day and time to review offers. And then make yourself scarce for those days in between.
That means you can get your home show-ready once, and don’t need to re-clean and re-stage in between each showing.
This also gives potential buyers lots of time to view your property. Thursdays are great days to list as buyers often have more flexibility to view homes on the weekend.
3. Preparation! Preparation! Preparation!
In Real Estate, they say Location! Location! Location! But as a seller looking to maximize your sale price, the phrase should be Preparation! Preparation! Preparation!
You're not trying to create a situation in which your home barely edges out the listing down the street in the hearts and minds of your target buyer. If you want multiple offers, you need multiple buyers to fall deeply in love with your home—enough to bid above the list price and enough to compete with others for it.
And this work starts weeks before you hit the market.
To generate multiple offers, prepare your home by ensuring it is:
And get ready to sing your homes’ praises. If you've done any major home improvements or replaced any appliances or systems lately, market that! Show off how immaculate, adorable and move-in ready your home is now—and tout its great working condition for the long run.
4. Expose it to the market.
Have a plan to maximize your property’s exposure on the market. The first step is sharing your property BEFORE you list.
‘Coming Soon’ messaging can double your marketing exposure and have buyers lining up the day it lists.
Coming soon or pre-list marketing could include a “for sale sign” with a coming soon rider, a social media teaser campaign or direct mail to your neighbours since they already know how great it is to live on your street.
With effective pre-list marketing, you can start racking up the showing requests even before you hit the MLS.
Pro tip: Host an agent pre-view the day before you hit the market. Agents love the opportunity to share off-market properties with their clients so an agent pre-view can help generate that buzz you’re looking for.
If you’re thinking of listing your property and you aren’t sure if right now is the best time, I’d love to chat about some things you can do to prepare your home for listing.