Picture this. You sit down with your realtor to discuss buying a home. He or she asks you what your ideal home looks like. Images of beautiful facades, lush lawns, high quality appliances, clean lines, and many other dream-home features flash through your mind. You answer, “I need 3 bedrooms for my personal use, at least 2 bathrooms, the home should be clean, and if possible, I would like a mortgage helper.” Realtor says, “Yes we can find you something like that.”

So, you go out on a tour and see a few homes. The first one was a bungalow, built in the 1960s and it had 3 small bedrooms 1 full bath and a half bath upstairs. There is also a 1-bedroom rental suite, shared laundry area and some extra space for storage in the basement. The home was fully staged in a mid-century modern style and many of the original features of the home were kept. You like the home a lot but know that you will be paying extra for the presentation.

The second one is a 3 level home in mostly original condition save for an addition to the attic. It had 2 bedrooms on the main level, a bedroom upstairs, 2 full bathrooms and 2 bedroom in the basement with no kitchen. A suite can be easily added. It was evident that the home was well taken care of. This one has a lot of potential you think to yourself. With a little bit of work, the shine can be restored.

The last home is a 4-bedroom split level home with a 1-bedroom suite that is already rented to a good tenant. You are getting excited to see this home but become horrified upon pulling up to the driveway and seeing the sight of a possible haunted house. The grass is overgrown, and the old white picket fence is falling apart. You step inside and wonder, “How can anyone possibly live in this place?” Having seen thousands of properties in my selling career, I can tell you that some of these people not only live in these homes, but they sometimes try to sell them in their current conditions too! Piles of dishes in the sink, boxes full of unsorted paper, pizza boxes, kitty litter; you name it and you can bet someone out there thinks it is acceptable home décor (Ladies, I didn’t mean to describe your home after leaving your husband home alone for the weekend).

I think it’s safe to say that, if you are looking for a clean, move in ready home, you are probably not picking that last one. But it didn’t have to be this way. Now, I must confess that I am no expert on interior design, but I do watch a lot of HGTV and I am an expert on selling homes. I know that if you are planning to sell your home, your goal is to sell the home to someone who will pay you a little extra for your presentation. That person will consider the floorplan, the location, the finishes, and the overall feel of the home. Since we cannot change the location, and it is most likely too costly to change the floorplan or the finishes, let’s talk about what we can do to affect the feel of your home for sale without breaking the bank. The most cost-effective way to drum up interest for a prospective buyer is staging. Follow these 3 simple steps to stage your home like a pro!

          Living Room (Before)                                        Living Room (After)


No staging project can ever start without first removing everything you do not need. That microwave on the kitchen counter might be ideal for you when you are living in the home, but it also shows the potential buyers that there really isn’t that much counter space once you fill it with your essential kitchen ware. Extra furniture should be put away, donated, or tossed to the curb. Your goal is to show off how spacious your home is and not how much stuff you can pack into it! The more you pack away during this initial step, the less you will have to pack when there is a deadline to get moved out of the home before the completion date.

If this step is done correctly, you should momentarily feel like you don’t actually need to move, before you snap back to reality and remember that half of your possessions are on the front steps.

                    Kitchen (Before)                                              Kitchen (After)


Before you read further, you must be clear with yourself about your objective with this staging project. Your goal is to create an aura in your home that feels comfortable to a prospective buyer so that they will want to buy it from you. Basically, you are trying to sell your property to someone else.

In order for someone to want to buy your home, they first must be able to imagine living in it and you can help them with this by removing all personal items that only fit your tastes. We are talking about family photos, framed certificates, awards, religious and cultural artifacts, and any sentimental items that are not likely to be featured in the latest home staging magazines.

                       Bedroom (Before)                                Bedroom (After)

Add color!

After de-cluttering and de-personalizing your living quarters, take a step back and see how much space there is! Amazing right? It may look kind of dull but this is where the fun begins! You are now free to use your creative senses to paint the picture of how this home can feel like to live in for the next family. Simply adding some colors in just the right places will give life to the home to create the positive emotions to those buyers walking through the door and provide just the right amount of imagination to promote the desire to make this their home. A few examples of décor items that can use some colors are:

  • Cushions
  • Throws
  • Plants
  • Towels
  • Bedding
  • Wall Décor

All of which can either be found in some of those boxes we asked you to put away or at any sale rack at your local thrift shops and department stores.

                        Bathroom (Before)                              Bathroom (After)

It may seem like a daunting task to transform a space that is comfortable for you as your home for a long time but it is a necessary step in a successful sale and may possibly be the most underrated part of the process. If you need further consultation, get in touch with us and we will do our best to guide you in the right direction!

A journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step

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Ever wondered how you can make some extra money to put towards a down payment for a larger home? Do you have an extra room that you don’t use? How would you like to make an extra $30-60 per night with that room? What I am suggesting is the original Air BnB. Becoming a Homestay Host.

What is a homestay?

A homestay can be a Tourist looking for a nightly stay, a foreign professional on a short-term business visit that wants to brush up on their English conversation skills, or students here on exchanges who need a local guardian.

Is becoming a homestay host for you?

Most homestay placement agencies give you options for time that you can offer. Many of our clients have turned this into a profitable business with continual turnover with long term stays and some, who use this revenue stream with shorter term stays to supplement their income. If you want to meet new people from other countries, share your home and values, and want a free babysitter (I’m not joking), or are looking for another use for your home, then maybe this is a good opportunity to explore.

Is your home ideal for a homestay?

The ideal home for a homestay is minimal. The home should be either a townhome, duplex, or detached home. The room needs to have a bed, desk, light, internet access, and a window. You must provide a warm and clean home, 3 meals a day, and eat with the homestay. If your guest is a minor, in most cases, you should not leave the homestay alone at night. Being close to transit and shops is a bonus.

How to get started?

The first step you should take is to make sure that you have the permission of local institutions, municipal bylaws, and strata bylaws if applicable. There are number of agencies who can help place qualified homestays locally and/or websites that can do this online. If dealing with students, you must also provide a criminal record check, and possibly entering into a Placement Contract.

For more information, contact your local university language departments or private English language schools.

If you would like some relevant real estate advice regarding using your home as short-term accommodation by becoming a host, send us a message and we will try our best to help you find the right answers. Maybe this is the excuse you needed to find a bigger home. Whatever your circumstance, this is another rewarding way to use your home!

If you are considering buying or selling your home, we ask that we be considered for the job. Please contact us to get started.

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Guest article by Dara Fahy A.M.P.
Mortgage Planner with Dominion Lending Centre City Wide Mortgage Services 

If you were to ask Simon or Sayaka the question they are asked most, I would guess nine times out of ten you’ll get the answer: “Is it a good time to buy?”

Now I’ve been asked the same question quite a bit recently, but in my case of course, the question is being asked from a mortgage perspective.

Time in the market, versus timing the market:

Recent increases to mortgages rates, coupled with strict adjustments to qualifying rules, has caused the market to cool off in the past 12 moths. The question is where do we go from here? No-one can say for sure, so I think it’s important one does the right thing for their situation. As long as you take a long-term approach with a time horizon of 5 to 10 years, I believe purchasing real estate now is still a great decision. As I always say to clients, time in the market is more important than timing the market. To illustrate this, I will use a personal example:

My wife and I purchased our current house in 2007, at the height of the market for that current time. I recall being very uncomfortable making a subject free offer, higher than the asking price. When the offer was accepted, I was momentarily excited and then what followed was a panic. The thought that got me through it was that even if I overpaid, I can afford the payments. Low and behold, in 2008 the U.S. had their mortgage and credit crisis and we went through a recessionary period here in Canada. Our house was suddenly worth MUCH less than we paid for it. As uncomfortable as that was, it was short lived and within 3 years the market recovered nicely. Fast forward to today, the assessed value of our home is worth far more than the purchase price that made me so uncomfortable. The moral of the story is that if you have the time horizon and can comfortably afford the mortgage and costs associated with owning a home, you can buy with confidence.

Its All Relative:

Another factor to consider is that everything is relative. If we look at the main driver of a further market decline, it would likely be rising interest rates. If you were to wait for further price drops to buy, you could well be paying a higher interest rate on your mortgage, which could offset the price savings. 

An example:

At current rate levels, you could get a 5-year fixed-rate mortgage for as low as 3.69%. Total interest paid over the 5 years would be $104,595 based on a mortgage of $600,000 (assuming a purchase of $800,000 with a down payment of $200,000 or 25%, for the purpose of this discussion).

If you were to wait a year or so and find that the market ‘corrects’ or pulls back by 5% say, the same property could be bought for $760,000, but may well come with a 5-year rate of 4.69%. Total interest paid over the 5 years at this increased rate would be $133,655. The difference in interest of $29,060 would wipe out over 70% of the 5% savings on the purchase price.

So the real question is: will you need a mortgage?

If you don’t, or don’t wish to obtain one, then it may be worth trying to time the market to your advantage and hold off for awhile on your purchase, to see how things play out. 

But, if you are like most and will require a mortgage, and rates increase and prices drop, it appears to be somewhat of a wash from the financial side, using the example above, at least for the 5-year term of the mortgage.

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking to purchase your first home, be sure to consult with a mortgage planner, to establish a budget that is comfortable for you over the next 5 to 10 years. Provided you stay within that budget and choose a mortgage product that is a good fit for you, I believe that it’s a great time to purchase real estate.

Dara Fahy is a top mortgage broker working with homebuyers in Greater Vancouver with Dominion Lending Centres City Wide Mortgages. You can get in touch with Dara for more useful advice here.

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Guest Article written by Michael Longsdon from ElderFreedom.net

Moving into a smaller, more manageable home can be a gift during our golden years. However, it can be a hassle to handle all of the hard work and planning that this process entails. Here are several ways you can make this experience a little easier.

Do Your Research

Before moving to a new community, do some research. Depending on distance, you may not be able to visit each prospective area in person. Go online and look at statistics for things like crime, growth, and quality of life. Also, consider the average price of homes versus what you will make when you sell. That may or may not be within your anticipated budget for the size you desire. Once your options are narrowed, visit places you haven't before. Make sure there are amenities close by. This includes hospitals, good public transportation, and a well-run senior center. After all, you don't want to feel isolated or end up regretting your choices.

Sort Your Things

Letting go of a lifetime of possessions can be difficult. Nostalgia can often make it hard to get rid of things we don't use anymore. Yet, by taking pictures of family heirlooms, we can preserve them without weighing ourselves down. You can then have loved ones go through the belongings you need to let go. They can take what speaks to them, and you know these objects will go to good homes. This is also the perfect time to let go of clothing that no longer fits or that you don't wear. You can give unwanted books to the library so someone will enjoy them. Donating things still in good condition lets you give back to your community and say goodbye.

Pack with Ease

The first thing you should do is make a checklist of all that you need to accomplish. This way, you can stay focused and get tasks done on time. Packing can seem overwhelming due to sheer volume. Make it easier to start by first packing items you won't use soon. This should include clothing designed for different seasons and items in storage, such as holiday decorations. Next, go for décor, such as artwork and decorative hand towels. As the moving date nears, begin packing things you use daily. Label boxes clearly, and prepare an overnight bag of essentials you’ll need the morning after the move.

Hire Quality Movers

Hiring professionals is the best way to keep your belongings safe and moved on time. However, you need to prepare and research before you make a commitment. Friends may have suggestions, but don't rely on this alone. Look at reviews online. Once you have a few companies in mind, write down a list of questions to ask before you call them. Ask about licensing and registrations, but also what their rate per mile is. If they charge by short distance, such as foot, look elsewhere. Always confirm what additional fees they have and get your estimates in writing. These steps can protect you and your household and make the big move much smoother.

Enjoy Your New Home

You can ease your transition by keeping on top of your organization. By having all boxes clearly labeled, you can also unpack your things quickly. Before you settle, get a feel for the area by reaching out to potential neighbors. This can seem intimidating at first, but they may help you out with the moving process. At the very least, if you make connections early, you can avoid loneliness. This is especially important if you are not near family or friends.

It takes a lot of preparation, but you can make the move to your dream retirement property. With the right research, you can find the home you have always wanted. It's time to live life on your terms, so make sure you have a great game plan in place!

Michael Longsdon has made it his mission to help locate resources, events, and engagement opportunities to help enrich the lives of seniors.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

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The 10 year plan to your dream home in 6 steps

Living in your dream home is a lofty goal for many people at some point in your life, and you may be eager to live in that grand home sooner rather than later. For many younger couples who are first time buyers, however, living in a larger, more luxurious home is simply not practical or financially feasible. Even if you are able and willing now, you may not need all the space and features at your stage of life. With the right plan of action today, you may be able to make your dream come true within a decade or less. Bottom line? Your first home may not be your dream home.



Set a Realistic Expectation for Your Dream Home

One of the first steps you should take when creating the blueprint for your dream home is to set a realistic goal. It may be in the cards for some people to own a 4,500-square foot house located in a prime location with mountain views, but for others, a 2,000-square foot house in a central and convenient neighborhood may be more realistically. You can begin shopping around for homes now to get a better idea of real estate costs in the Greater Vancouver Area or fill out the contact form on this page and we can help you with that. Visiting different neighborhoods, taking a stroll in the evening or talking to friends will help you narrow down where you want to live. By taking these steps, you can set a realistic goal for your dream home with a firm vision in mind of what your dream home may look like.


Lower your expectations for your first home

This will not be your final home. Instead of jumping to conclusions and taking on the huge responsibilities of a large mortgage for your dream home as your first home, consider that your lifestyle will change over time as will your needs in a home. Your first home should be adequate in size and in an appropriate location for you and/or your family for the next 3 to 5 years. That’s it. Forget the man cave, forget the double bathroom sinks. For a bachelor, this could be a one bedroom apartment close to transit. For a couple with young children, you may be looking at a 2-bedroom condo or townhome near parks and schools. If you can lower your standards, you may be in a better position own your dream home sooner rather than later.


Live Below Your Means Now

When you live below your means now, you will be able to save money to use as a down payment on your dream home. Living beneath your means may mean choosing a more affordable part of town to live in, opting to take a brown bag lunch to work rather than eat out every day, driving a more affordable and older car rather than a brand new one or better yet, use a bike. The more money you can save now, the easier it will be for you to afford your dream home in the future.




Focus on the bright side of a smaller home

Living in a large home can be a dream come true, but these types of properties come with expensive, and time-consuming upkeep. When only two or three people are living in the home you may find that you spend most your time in just two or three rooms of the home. If you choose to live in a smaller home now, you can focus on saving money for your dream home while also enjoying the extra time you have for life’s precious moments.


Use a Smaller, More Affordable Home to Build Equity

To achieve your ten-year plan, it is beneficial to build equity in a smaller home for the next 3-5 years. Pay more than you are required to pay monthly for your mortgage so you can pay down the mortgage quicker. When you make a mortgage payment, a portion of the payment will turn into home equity. So, the more you pay, the more equity you are building.




Set a Comfortable Savings Routine

Saving money can seem daunting to some, but it may be one of the best steps you can take to achieve your ten-year plan. One way that you can save money is an automatic withdrawal with your financial institution. You may project your budget outward over the course of a year or longer, and you can incorporate even greater savings amount into your budget when you get raises or other windfalls. Saving money eventually will become a habit for you, and after awhile, you may not even notice any difference that is making in your daily routine.


The focus for first-time buyers should be placed on building equity in real estate and on saving money for the first 3-5 years of home ownership. Through equity in your home and a growing balance in your savings account, your plans to purchase your dream home is well within reach. Contact us today so we can help you to find a great starter home fit for your lifestyle today so that you can set this plan into action.

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