HOW TO BUY A HOME IN HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA IN A SELLER'S MARKEt
Last year I shared some tips on purchasing in a seller’s market. With only 157 active single-family listings in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, this advice is as timely as ever. If you or someone you know is looking to purchase in this hot market, read on:
I’ve talked about how to take advantage of the seller’s market to get the best price for your home, but what if you’re on the other side of the equation? Navigating a home purchase can be stressful on its own—but in a hot seller’s market, there’s even more to consider.
In a seller’s market, there are more people shopping for homes than there are listings for sale giving sellers the upper hand. A seller’s market is characterized by:
As a buyer, you need to be ready to move fast, negotiate generously, and prepare for rejection. Maybe more than once.
Having an agent working to support you makes the process easier, so here are my top tips for buyers looking to stay competitive in a seller’s market.
GET PRE-APPROVAL BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING
In competitive offer situations, the first thing the listing agent wants to know is if the buyer is pre-approved.
Being able to send in a pre-approval letter with your offer proves that you are serious and gives the sellers confidence that the deal won’t fall apart on financing down the road.
While you’re at it, be sure to gather the income documents your lender requires (proof of income, proof of assets, and employment verification) in advance of submitting an offer.
In order to make your offer more competitive, you will want to shorten the condition deadlines as much as possible, which doesn’t leave much time to track down these documents after your offer is accepted.
I’ve talked about lending questions with Alex Lavender, Mortgage Broker previously and you can find out more about getting pre-approved here.
SHOP ALL WINTER LONG
Having a little less competition can go a long way in landing the right home. Some buyers tend to hibernate during the winter months in favour of waiting for the infamous ‘spring market’ when the real estate industry kicks it into high gear for the warmer months.
Winter is a great time to shop as sellers who list mid-winter are often more motivated and you’ll face much less competition.
STAY ALERT. SIGN UP FOR AN E-NOTIFICATION.
This ensures that you get an email alert the minute a property that matches your search criteria hits that market. You don’t want to miss out on “the one” because you went out to grab a coffee on your work break instead of checking Realtor.ca.
SCHEDULE HOUSE TOURS ASAP
Once a property you like becomes available, it probably won’t last long. Make sure you give yourself an opportunity to get in on the action by going to see it as soon as possible, even if it means being a little flexible in other areas of your schedule.
WRITE A STRONG OFFER
Unfortunately, a seller’s market is not the time to try and score a deal.
Ask yourself how upset you’ll be if you lose out on this house, and then write your offer accordingly. If you really love it, don’t be afraid to go in above the asking price. (And a heartfelt letter to the sellers included in the offer never hurts.)
HIRE AN EXPERT
Don’t get swept up in the seller’s market. Hiring a neighbourhood expert means having someone working in your best interest, so you’re not overpaying for a property or relying on over-offering to get the property you love.
There are lots of ways to write an attractive offer and working with a professional means having insight into the market so that you can write a winning offer.
4 SIMPLE WAYS TO BOOST YOUR HOMES VALUE
Whether you're looking to maximize your sale price or increase equity, there are many small projects that will boost the value of your home.
Here are a few cost-effective home improvement options that will result in an immediate return on your investment:
One quick fix that can seriously boost your home's value is paint!
A recent study by Zillow found that buyers were willing to offer $5,000 more when a home was painted in certain colours.
It seems so simple, but paint can really change the feeling of your entire home. Just imagine repainting a bright red kitchen with a cool gray. It would make the room feel totally different with just one change. And the best part? Painting a room is fast and inexpensive compared to other renovations.
When repainting your space to maximize the resale value, keep your palette to cool, timeless colours that lean more towards classic than trendy. These colours will appeal to the most buyers and make it easy for people to picture themselves living in the home.
We asked Christine Santimaw of Ramar Construction for her top neutral recommendations; "The number of whites is, truly, overwhelming, but my go-to is almost always Simply White by Benjamin Moore, a warm but true white that looks both crisp and cozy in every space. Just outside of the white family, I'm really gravitating to shades of what I best describe as 'mushroom' for both walls and cabinetry. It's a grey-meets-beige tone defined by tasteful elegance that pairs beautifully with a wide variety of countertop selections, especially creamy marbles. Favourites? City Loft and Balanced Beige by Sherwin Williams; Pale Oak, Stone Hearth and Kingsport Gray, all by Benjamin Moore."
2. Invest in energy efficient upgrades
With rising energy costs, energy efficient upgrades are a huge hit with today’s homebuyers.
We asked Karynne of Efficiency Nova Scotia for her top tips on increasing energy efficiency at home. Her first recommendation was to install a cold climate heat pump. Compared with electric baseboard heat, high-efficiency heat pumps can be up to 200% more efficient. And best of all, rebates are available through an easy-to-complete application through Efficiency Nova Scotia’s Heating System Rebates service.
She also recommended taking advantage of the Canada Greener Homes Grant and stackable rebates through Efficiency Nova Scotia. For only $199+HST, you can receive a personalized Home Energy Assessment on your home’s energy performance and customized recommendations to improve the comfort and efficiency of your home—lowering your bills and improving the resale value of your home. Rebates are available for upgrades such as:
3. Kitchen and bathroom updates
Bathroom and kitchen updates are always a smart move. Even if you can't afford a complete remodel, minor changes such as painting, replacing dated wallpaper, or replacing old light fixtures will update a room without denting your wallet. Start by swapping out just one item, such as a stained sink or ancient microwave.
For kitchens, Mark Higgins of InVogue Home Design recommends installing a tile backsplash to make your space feel larger, as well as swapping out cabinet hardware for a big impact with minimal investment. He suggests brass, gold and mixed metals for a modern feel.
More intensive updates—like replacing an outdated vanity, old plumbing, or swapping linoleum flooring for a new tile floor—will guarantee a lot of bang for your buck and give your home an updated, modern look. Mark recommends renovating the primary ensuite before any other bathroom for increased resale value. But if you're remodeling just to put your house on the market, keep it simple and neutral, because you never know what the future buyer's style is.
Real estate agents talk about 'curb appeal' for a reason. First impressions have a significant impact on the sales value of your home. Affordable landscaping and modest enhancements to the front exterior of your home can help increase its value to both appraisers and potential buyers.
When considering exterior upgrades, pay special attention to the entry points of your home. Repair or replace any damaged stepping stones, concrete paths, or pavers—then give the front door a fresh coat of paint and add some outdoor planters for a splash of colour.
Shrubs and colourful plants will add curb appeal to any home. The Gardener Halifax suggests giving existing gardens an update by adding evergreen shrubs or perennials that are native to your region with appropriate sun and water requirements. If you're looking for a quick update to existing gardens, add fresh dark-coloured mulch shortly before you list your home to give your yard a tidy feel.
Getting your home ready for sale can be overwhelming. If you have any questions or you'd like to book a consultation to discuss the best options for your home, send me a message or comment below. I'd love to chat about how you can get the best price for your home.
Home Design trends in 2022
HOME DESIGN TRENDS IN 2022
Over the past two years, the home has become more important than ever. It has become a classroom, workplace, fitness studio, and much more. As a result, we've seen an increase in home renovations as people adapt their living space to meet their ever-changing needs.
If you're considering an update to your home this year, here are 5 design trends to keep in mind for 2022.
Interior home design choices are directly influenced by what’s going on in the outside world. The past two years of instability and uncertainty have sparked a longing for familiarity and cozy soft furnishings in our homes.
2020 and 2021 saw a huge demand for Japandi and Scandinavian design, which both focus on simplicity, natural elements, and comfort. But as we move forward into 2022, brighter and more daring colour combinations are becoming increasingly popular.
According to Mark Higgins of InVogue Home Design, the kitchen, in particular, is seeing a demand for more colourful design choices. Think funky backsplashes, forest green cabinets and statement range hoods in bold colours and industrial metals.
The sentiment was echoed by Maureen Kennedy of Stage Right: Home Staging and ReDesign, who noted the shift away from minimalist patterns and textures in textiles. She noted that “In upholstery, we will see more experimentation with edge details including ruffles, pleats, tassels, and ball fringes. These decorative elements may have felt stuffy before, but paired with bolder colors and patterns, they can feel less traditional and more playful.”
2. Neutrals With A Twist
Despite the shift toward bold colour, don’t throw out all your beige just yet. Minimalism and neutrals are still relevant, and an added twist can make them feel fresh again.
Wendy Friedman of the Independent Mercantile and Biscuit General Store says one way to do this is by adding in pops of colour in a room’s textiles—minimalism and maximalism can coexist in the same space by keeping your white walls, but adding print and colour in rugs, throw pillows, and accessories.
This shift toward bolder design choices and the desire for a more sustainable, environmentally-conscious lifestyle is bringing antiques back.
Shopping second-hand (or accepting your parents' hand-me-downs) is not only more cost-effective and eco-friendly, but it also contributes to a uniquely personal sense of style at home.
These items tend to have more longevity, not only in the quality of their craftsmanship but also in their ability to outlive fleeting trends. Some of my favourite places to shop for antiques in NS are Timeless Objekt, The Refound Shop and the Funky Flea Market.
You can also find gems on Kijiji and FB Marketplace—one man’s trash is another’s treasure!
4. Multi-Purpose Living Spaces
Whether you love it or hate it, working from home seems to be here to stay with many offices opting to choose smaller spaces and keep their teams working remotely. With this change in working arrangements, the appeal of a beautiful and functional home office has never been stronger.
Unfortunately, the steadily increasing prices of our housing market results in buyers opting for smaller spaces with less options for that spacious, standalone home office.
This means maximizing the space you have, with flexible floorplans featuring stylish and airy room dividers, well designed storage to hide office and school supplies, and multi-purpose furniture.
Cottagecore was one of the biggest trends to come out of 2021, and it seems like it’s here to stay.
For those of us who aren’t avid TikTokers (myself included), “cottagecore” harnesses the look and charm of an idyllic country cottage. It embraces familiar floral prints and patterns, organic textures, and artisanal homeware.
Lucky for us, Nova Scotia has an abundance of on-trend handmade goods, such as hand-punched rugs, quilts, and pottery. Beadboard and wainscotting are gaining in popularity, but once again with a twist—we’re seeing it painted in bolder, deeper and more saturated shades.
If you're planning renovations to your home in hopes of selling over the next year and aren't sure what the best investments would be, hit that comment button. I would love to chat about how to maximize your home's potential.
Real Estate Advisor based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I help people buy and sell homes with Engel & Völkers.