10 Upgrades Your Home Needs

Whether you are concerned about resale value or have just purchased your home and want to make some improvements, there are some upgrades that are more worth your time and money than others. We have compiled a list of ten upgrades every homeowner should consider, based on both the eventual return on investment for resale/home equity and the immediate impact to your enjoyment of your house.

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Kitchen

The kitchen and bathroom are the two biggest areas to make or break your resale value. Many experts recommend any homeowner looking to upgrade should start with the kitchen.

There are many options upgrading your kitchen on many different budgets:

  • Upgrade to stainless steel appliances
  • Re-stain or paint your cupboards
  • Update your hardware
  • Invest in a quiet, quality dishwasher
  • Add a kitchen island, if space permits

Paint

Giving the interior (or exterior) of your house a fresh coat of paint is an easy and instant way to give it a facelift, both aesthetically and financially. Choose fresh, modern colours that will rejuvenate and lighten up the area.

If you have the budget for it, hiring a painter is a great way of getting the job done quickly and to a high quality. However, interior painting is not a difficult task for the amateur DIY-er. You can also do just one room at a time, which is not only a more budget-friendly option but allows you to slowly get the whole house done yourself and skip the expensive professional.

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Lighting

Again, the kitchen and bathrooms are big when it comes to home value. If you’re looking to improve your home’s lighting, it’s a good idea to start with those rooms.

The experts suggest you focus on overhead and task lighting for the majority of your upgrades. It’s also great to grab as much natural light as possible, especially in areas like the living room and bedrooms.

HVAC

Upgrading your HVAC system not only is great for resale, but can save you money on your utility bills, having an immediate impact on your wallet.

If your system is a bit older, get it up and running smoothly again. However, replacing an outdated system with a more modern version – especially “green” options like solar power – will give a major boost if/when you put it on the market.

Some places also offer tax breaks and rebates for HVAC upgrades, which is definitely something worth looking into.

Attics & Basements

Your attic may be often ignored but it’s a great place to get some bang for your buck. Upgrading or replacing its insulation with a good-quality fiberglass can save money on heating and A/C and is a major boost to your home value.

If you’ve been thinking about remodelling your basement, it’s time to commit. Finishing and modernizing your basement is a draw on the real estate market, plus you can find more space to utilize and enjoy.

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Flooring

If your house is full of carpets, a great upgrade would be to make a switch. Hardwood floors never go out of style and are a great investment for any home.

Is budget a concern? Start with replacing the flooring in the communal areas – kitchen, living rooms, etc. – to make the most impact right away.

Appliances

Your appliances could be costing you a fortune. Wherever possible, you want to be making sure you have the most energy-efficient appliances available.

Two appliances to especially focus on are your washing machine and water heater. Tankless water heaters are suggested as long as they are in your budget.

Outdoor Living

More and more people are wanting to create and enjoy an outdoor living space for their home. Whether it is a deck, screened porch or patio, a well-designed outdoor living space can add quite a bit of value into your home.

Just make sure to consider seasonal weather patterns and how they will affect your use of the space. For those of us constantly dealing with the colder weather, built-in fireplaces are all the rage!

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Closets

Take a look around your house and find any unused or under-used areas. You might want to strongly consider turning those areas into more closet space. In the world of home value, there seems to be no such thing as too much closet space!

Even if you can’t actually add more closets, consider how you are using your closet space. Investigate storage options to make the most of every nook and cranny. Add lighting. Update the hardware. And one thing many people overlook – repaint.

Electrics

A great upgrade is to add more outlets to increase the convenience and comfort of your home. One popular suggestion is adding ‘his and hers’ outlets on either side of the bed. You may also want to consider adding more outlets in the kitchen to increase appliance use; adding outlets within pantry spaces can help get your small appliances cleared off the countertop.

Our last piece of upgrade advice is to add extra outlets in the garage, particularly for an extra fridge or freezer that can be stored out there. This adds great convenience – which translates into value – for any home.

How To Get Your House Ready for Fall: 4 Areas for Concern

It’s that time of year again – summer slowly fades into fall.  As the leaves change colour and the weather gets cooler, it’s time to check your house and make sure everything is ship shape. Remember: it’s better to do some maintenance now than have to pay an arm and a leg later if something goes wrong! Don’t get caught unprepared in case early cold weather strikes.

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Here are four areas you may want to consider when getting your house ready for fall:

Drafts and Air Leakage

Losing air conditioning and heating from drafts can cost you a fortune. Plus, when you’re trying to escape the winter cold, who wants a draft ruining your cozy home?

Check the sealing and caulking around all windows and door frames; repair or replace as necessary. For particularly drafty windows, consider buying heavier or insulated drapes to keep out the chill.

You can also further reinforce your windows and doors – remove the screens and install any storm windows/doors if needed. Also make sure to check and replace the weather stripping.

Inspect the outside of your house, especially any siding. Check for cracks or holes and repair as needed.

Don’t forget to winterize your air conditioning, if appropriate. If you have an outdoor unit, it may be necessary to cover it before winter. For window air conditioning units, make sure to remove or cover the unit to prevent any air leaks.

Pro Tip: Is your thermostat working for you? Programmable thermostats can save you money; check your settings and program in lower temperatures at night and when you’re not at home so you’re not wasting heat in the winter.

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Home Appliances

Winter is not the time you want to be dealing with something breaking down. Inspect and perform maintenance on your key appliances now before it’s too late.

Hire professional inspectors to perform checks and tests on your furnace, humidifiers and sump pumps. Have your furnace tested for leaks, heating efficiency and carbon monoxide. While you’re at it, change the filter.  For your humidifiers, make sure they are thoroughly cleaned – replace the old filters and clean the plates/pads as well as inside the compartment. Vinegar works well as a safe, non-toxic cleaner.

Replace the batteries in  your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Remember to test regularly to ensure they’re still working properly.

If you have gas-powered snow blower or emergency generator, now is a good time to get extra gasoline. Make sure to store the gasoline safely in tanks away from fire sources and out of the reach of children and pets.

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House Exterior

Before the weather gets too cold, perform a walk around the exterior of your house. Ensure that everything on the outside is ready to protect you from any harsh winter conditions.

A visual inspection of the roof from the ground should typically suffice. Check for any missing, damaged, or loose shingles. You may also have to get up on a ladder and remove any leaves and debris, particularly for roofs that are not slanted.

While you’re out there, check your water drainage. Ensure the downspouts are clear of any obstructions and ensure that any autumn storms won’t send water astray – make sure the water is directed away from foundations, walkways and driveways.

Also, make sure to check your walkways and repair any damaged sidewalks, driveways or steps. Now is a good time to get this done to prevent slips and falls and to also make sure the damage isn’t worsened by ice and snow.

As the leaves begin to fall, keep an eye on your gutters. It’s a good idea to get up there regularly and remove any leaves, nests or miscellaneous debris, but now is the time when this is particularly crucial. Also check the gutters for leaks.

Now is also a good time to get your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected, before you really need to be using them. You can also get stocked up on firewood now; remember that it’s best to cover firewood and keep it safely stored away from the house.

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Garden and Yard

Before the freeze sets in, now is when you’ll want to turn off any exterior faucets (you may also need to turn off the valve inside your home) and drain and store the garden hoses.

If you have a sprinkler or irrigation system, these may need to be drained and checked. For ease and safety of snow removal, mark sprinkler heads near these areas.

Cast an eye over your landscaping. Inspect trees for any damaged limbs that may break or grow too close to the power lines or the roof, especially as these may be a big problem during winter storms. Trim back bushes, scrubs and flowers as recommended for seasonal maintenance.

Bring inside any flowerpots to either clean or maintain. Plant any bulbs that will grow in the spring. Fertilize your lawn to help prevent frost damage and deter spring weeds.

Put away seasonal furniture, making sure to clean and dry everything, including seat cushions. While you’re storing these away in a dry place, it’s a good time to organize the shed and/or garage – move summer items to the back and fall or winter stuff up front where it’s more easily accessed. Also remove any liquids that will freeze.

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With these tips, your house should be safe, secure and snug during fall and winter.

RE/MAX REC 2016 GOLF TOURNAMENT

Golf Tournament (1)

On Friday June 24th, one hundred forty-four (144) Real Estate agents, office staff and their friends took to the greens at The Cambridge Golf Club for RE/MAX Real Estate Centre Brokerage’s annual Charity Golf Tournament.

We are proud to announce that we raised $1,760 from the days events which will be donated to the Children’s Miracle Network. 

A special thank you to our sponsors:

Brian Perry – the co-operators

Bob McMaster & Cal Johnson – Johnson McMaster Law Office

Peter Blackwell – Regional Property Inspections

Felix Fujs – HouseMaster Home Inspections

Brian Ingram – Scotiabank

Don Dell – Pillar to Post Home Inspectors

Don MacRae – StateFarm

Barbara Legere – Scotiabank

Frances Robinson – Scotiabank

Greg Brechin – Brechin & Huffman Lawyers

Paul Silva – Iler Silva Law Offices

Harjaap S Mann – Mann Law Barristers and Solicitors

Norm Moisan – Moisan & Associates Chartered Accountant

Boris Bubas & Kathy Bubas – Scotiabank

Darlene Beckman – Homeplan Virtual Tours

Stewart MacNamara – Canadian Home Inspections Services

Lorne Wallace – Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies

Print Centre Design

Nanda & Associate Lawyers

Staging Mantras

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How to Refresh Your Yard: 4 Ideas for the Outside of your House

Whether you want to boost your curb appeal for resale or just to get the most out of your home, your front and back yards are key places to be spending your money this year.  Here are four ways to get the most out of your outdoor spaces.

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1. Create Green Spaces

Imagine pulling up to two different houses – one is surrounded by a vibrant, luscious lawn and another with a drab, brown yard.  Which is the one you’d want visit, much less live in?

Does this curb appeal work for you?

Does this curb appeal work for you?

That’s right, we all want the home surrounded by a beautiful, green lawn.  Here are some tips to get your yard on the right track:

  • Get the yard ready by removing any weeds, rocks, or any other things in the way of getting the beautiful green you seek.
  • Take a rototill to the top layer of dirt, and when that has been sufficiently loosened, place a high-quality setting soil on top.
  • When the yard has been prepared, put down a layer of sod or seed the area.
  • Tend to your yard frequently – water it once a week.
  • You’ve treated yourself to a nice lawn, so make sure to treat it back – feed the area bi-annually with some fertilizer.

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Once you’ve got your grass greener and your yard looking ship-shape, add some areas of green elsewhere.  For example, you can add a splash of green to your patio by putting down a faux grass rug.

2. Plant Trees

Trees can really give a breath of fresh air (pun intended) to a yard.  If you have a lot of open space and your yard isn’t too cluttered already, planting a few trees might just be what the doctor ordered.

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Here are some tips if you intend on planting trees:

  • Plant trees that are 3-5 years old. That way, it’s not too old to be a bad investment but not so young that it won’t look like anything for a while.
  • If you’re not a tree expert, consider hiring a professional landscaper. They will ensure that the tree is placed in the best location to ensure its growth and prosperity.
  • Do your research. There are many things to consider when choosing a tree: its growth rate, its size once fully grown, and how much maintenance and care it will require.  Choose the tree that best suits your lifestyle and yard – obviously smaller yards should have smaller trees, for one thing.

You might also want to consider other perks of tree-planting, such as if they bear edible fruit.  Of course, such things also take more effort and care.

3. Create an Outdoor Living/Entertaining Space

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Outdoor living areas are all the rage right now, and for good reason!  Take advantage of the warm weather by having a space where you can sit back, relax and spend time with family and friends.  There are many different ways you can add this kind of space to your yard.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Create a grouping of various seating options around a specific area, such as a table, fireplace or cleared-out section of the yard.
  • Upcycle old benches or pallets by adding pillows for extra comfort.
  • Choose the positions of your seating wisely – have some in the shade but also place some lounge chairs in the sun to purposefully create a relaxed vibe.
  • Add a few small outdoor tables in key locations to make it easier to bring out food and drinks for yourself or your guests.
  • Hang a hammock. You can never go wrong with a hammock.

Make sure that whatever space you create is suited to your specific purposes and both functional and stylish.

4. Add Lighting

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Here’s an area where you can really be creative.  There’s no point in having beautiful landscaping and fantastic outdoor living spaces if you can’t see them.  Some ideas for adding some interesting lighting fixtures to your yard include:

  • Use solar-powered lights – not only is it eco-friendly, but it saves you the inconvenience and eye-sore of wires and cords.
  • Hang stringed twinkle lights in various locations to create an ethereal ambiance. They can go across the roof overhang for your patio or porch, up trellises, around trees and anywhere else you can think of!
  • Put lights around paths or other places people may be moving from one area to another.
  • Incorporate lights into plants and ponds and other unique areas.
  • Consider fire pits (if allowed) and outdoor fireplaces.

With these tips, your yard will be everything you want and more!

How to Increase Your Home Value (For Any Budget)

There are many reasons why people would worry about their home value.  Whether you wish to sell in the near future or are wish to apply for a line of credit based on your home equity, home value can be very important.

The crucial thing to remember when looking to improve your home value is that it’s all about maximizing your efforts.  In other words, you want to put in a little to get out a lot.

Here are 3 ideas for home improvements that can get the most bang for your buck, for any budget:

1. Kitchen and Bathrooms

Many home renovations start with the kitchen and bathroom.  These high-traffic rooms are often the ones that become scruffy or out-of-date.

Low Cost:

The easiest fix may be to give the walls a fresh coat of paint.  This is good advice for most rooms, though painting should be done selectively.  Start with your kitchen and bathrooms then move on to the bright rooms (switching them to a white or off-white, as neutrals tend to attract the most buyers).  Using fresh, modern colours – neutrals if in doubt – help to brighten the rooms and make them appear larger.

Pro Tip: Consider choosing a low-VOC paint.  This is a eco-friendlier option which helps your family breathe easy with less dangerous chemicals being released from your paint.

Once your walls have been updated, turn to the smaller details.  Grab some new handles for your cabinets and faucets for your sinks, re-caulk your sinks and tubs, and buy matching front panels for your appliances.  Make sure that if you’re replacing the faucets in your bathrooms, the ones for your sink and shower match.

Give everything a good scrubbing to make it look new.  You can even hang new towels for showings or valuations for that last little impression.

Higher Budgets:

This is where you can go a bit bigger with the kitchen and bathroom upgrades.  Replace any old appliances with energy-efficient models.  Install new light fixtures and countertops.  Make sure your cabinets are modern and all of the colours are fresh.  You can even use a specifically-designed durable epoxy to paint appliances if you don’t want to buy new.

Pro Tip: Pot lights are in high demand in open concept homes.  If you’re upgrading the lights in your kitchen, see if you can get your hands on some of these.

If you only have one bathroom in the house, you might also consider adding a bathroom.  Even a half-bath would set you up to recoup an estimated 80%-130% of your initial investment.  Find room for this by looking at any extra rooms or underutilized spaces, like large closets or spaces under the stairs.  However, it’s never a good idea to compromise bedroom space – you want as much of this as you can get.  Experts say you’ll need to carve out at least 18 square feet for a half-bath and 30 square feet for a full bath (35 square feet if you want to put in a bathtub versus a standing shower).

Pro Tip: Use glass for the shower to make the bathroom feel more spacious.

2. Think About Your Curb Appeal

You don’t get two chances for a first impression.  Think about what the exterior of your house, including your front yard.

Low Cost:

This one’s easy.  Cut the grass, rake up any leaves, remove any weeds, and trim your hedges.  Brighten it up with some flowers – potted or planted – and a couple bags of mulch.

Some other options include power-washing your sidewalk and porch, giving your front door a fresh coat of paint, and putting in a new mailbox.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to give the entire exterior a fresh coat, go for a top-performing semi-gloss exterior paint for best quality.

Higher Budget:

Add or remove trees for landscaping that really complements your home.  Tangled trees and unkempt bushes can obscure views and darken the overall property.  Experts say that landscaping is one of the top three investments that bring the biggest return, with investments of $400-$500 bringing a quadruple return.

When in doubt, get a professional landscaper.  Tell them you are looking to increase your home value through improved curb appeal and let them decide some options.

3. Flooring, Windows, and Walls…Oh My!

These might be the forgotten parts of your house but they can be crucial to giving instant improvements to your home value.

Low Cost:

Deep clean everything.  This makes everything look like new and lets in light.  It makes your house feel less cluttered and more comfortable, increasing anybody’s potential interest in your home.  Speaking of decluttering, this is a good time to mention that when it comes to home value, less is more.  Clear off your counters, organize your desk, straighten up any bookshelves, and round up any kids’ or pets’ toys.  It’s all about making space, space and more space.

Higher Budgets:

Rugs or carpets with old patterns that have gone out of style can decrease the perceived home value.  Really, most experts will tell you that any carpet is a no-go.  These days, most buyers want to see hardwood floors.  For a slightly cheaper version, buy those snap-together laminate floor that mimics hardwood.  It gets the carpet up and is better than nothing.

For lucky ones that already have hardwood floors, consider refinishing them to create the same effect as installing new.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to redo your bathroom floors, tile will always be in demand.

Create space by knocking out non-structural walls and removing kitchen islands (if you already have enough cabinet space).  You want to create a sense of flow in the house.  If it’s not already open-concept, get it as close as possible.

Lastly, consider turning your home into a ‘green’ house by making everything as energy-efficient as possible.  This isn’t just about home value – these changes can also save you money on your utility bills.  Switching to energy-efficient windows can save an estimated $500 a year in heating and cooling costs.  Energy-efficient insulation can also be keeping an extra $2500 or more each year in your pocket.  You should also go around a seal any cracks, preventing air loss and those ‘cold spots’ you may feel from time to time.

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Importance of Photography When Selling

They say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and when you’re selling your home, that truth will make the difference between a quick sale and another home sitting on the market for longer than it should.  The lasting impression a good photo leaves on your potential buyer is one of the most effective ways to convey value and desirability.

With 80% of buyers starting their house hunt online, it’s more important than ever to make sure you present your property in its best light.

One of our agents had TWO photographers go through the SAME property (24 hours apart). One was Donna Beckman, our Virtual Tour/IGuide expert, the other one was a popular local photographer.

None of the photos were edited by our office, each are how they appeared when they arrived. 

Donna Beckman Real Estate Virtual Tour:IGuide expert

According to Realtor.com, a company working closely with real estate agents in the U.S. did a study and found that homes featuring professional photography sold 50% faster and were viewed 118% more than comparable listings without professional photos.

If hiring a professional photographer is not in your budget, keep these tips in mind.

Before you photograph:

  • Use the correct equipment
    • A digital SLR provides you with settings and lenses
      • Take your camera off AUTO, learn to use the other settings and shutter speeds
      • Invest in different lenses, including a wide-angle
      • Invest in professional lighting including off-camera flash
    • A tripod
  • Prepare the house
    • Otherwise known as “Staging”, make sure the home is clutter-free and clean.

While you photograph:

  • Use as much natural light as possible
    • Open the curtains and turn on all the lights. Don’t rely on the built-in flash, it can often cast unwanted shadows and reflections off glass surfaces.
  • Choose the best angles and compositions
    • Check your verticals! a photo that is slightly off-kilter could cause people to wonder what’s wrong with the space. Never shoot from chest height or above, unless you’re 5’4″ or under. When taking the photo, fill the image with the contents, watch out for photos with too much dead space.

 

After you photograph:

  • Edit your photos
    • Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Picmonkey, and Ribbet are a few photo editing software or online options available.

If that seems like too much work for yourself to have to worry about, check out your local listings for a professional photographer who is experienced in architecture / real estate photography. If you’re in southwestern Ontario, we highly recommend Donna Beckman from Homeplan Virtual Tours.

Congratulations to the 2015 Top Award Winners!

As we finalize the numbers from 2015, it is evident the hard work, dedication and commitment from you, your office staff and your Associates contributed to yet another banner year for RE/MAX INTEGRA! We would like to take this opportunity and congratulate the 2015 Top Award Winners.

RE/MAX continues to lead the industry in market share, agent productivity and international expansion thanks to people like your Associates. To help shine a spotlight on the Top Producers, we have placed a four page pull-out ad in the April edition of REM featuring the Top 10 Individuals, Top 10 Team Leaders, Top 3 ICI in Ontario, Top 1 ICI in Atlantic Canada, Circle of Legends, and Diamond Club. We will be recognizing and celebrating the Top 30 Under 30* in a separate ad, which celebrates the next generation of REALTORS are proving to make their mark on our industry.

The REM ad ** will hit streets on March 18. Please ensure you grab a copy and congratulate your respective winners. More on where to download this ad will appear in the April newsletters that will hit inboxes across the region on April 7th.

Congratulations to all and here’s to a very successful 2016!

REMAX TOP AGENTS 2015

2015 TOP AGENTS

2015 TOP

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We want to give a huge RE/MAX shout out to the following RE/MAX Real Estate Centre top producers for 2015!

Diamond Club Recipients: 

  • Parveen Arora
  • Steve Bailey
  • Jerry Gould
  • Mike Krause
  • Isabel Pinheiro
  • Mary Wylde
  • Mustafa Zia

Top 30 Under 30 Recipients:

  • Mustafa Zia
  • Mani Batoo
  • Emily Rawson
  • Jennifer Ziegler
  • Kyle Landry

Congratulations! We are so proud of our team!

p.s. We love the little kiss on Jerry’s cheek.🙂