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Home Staging Tips – Appeal to All Five Senses

5senses3

If you want to sell your house quickly, you need to look at it as a commodity rather than your home – a product and a lifestyle to be sold in the open market. You have to essentially become a retailer with a product to sell.

A general rule I follow when preparing a home to impress potential buyers is to satisfy as many senses as I can in each room. Use these tips as a guide to create a special experience during viewings, and keep them in mind when walking through your house.

5senses

#1 Smell

There was a time when it was rare to hear of someone having allergic reactions to typical scents such as perfume, candles, incense and air fresheners, but it has increased to a degree that it is best to avoid having these scents linger in your home during showings and open houses. A scent that will appeal to people with allergies and everyone else in general is the smell of freshness that comes with cleanliness. Just before a showing or open house, wipe all the floors with hot water and a mild cleaning solution.

The smell of cookies or bread baking, or coffee brewing, makes it very obvious that you are working hard to impress. If you feel that it will work for your particular target market, go for it – but for experienced buyers, it will only look like a phony act.

#2 Touch

Buyers respond positively when they touch something that is velvety soft and plush. They cannot resist a blanket strewn over the end of a bed or the back of a chair, luscious bed linen and curtain fabrics, or extra plush white towels. Equally memorable (and not in a positive way) is when they touch something sticky or gooey on a banister, door handle or cabinet pull. This is a big turn-off, so make sure that everything they may touch is clean.

#3 Taste

If possible, leave a candy bowl or cookie jar available for people to help themselves. Leave a small, discreet card of thanks next to it that says something like, “Thank you for stopping by. Please treat yourself.”

#4 Hearing

If you are fortunate enough to have stereo speakers wired throughout your house, play soft background music that caters to your target market. If not, play music in the living room or family room on low volume. Currently, soft jazz seems to be the overall favourite genre but other gentle music works well too.

#5 Sight

Lighting

It is very important to consider lighting when preparing a room for staging. It will improve a potential buyer’s ability to determine whether the space is large enough for their needs, so it is important to illuminate all of the walls. If you cannot see a portion of a room due to a lack of lighting (such as a dark corner), a room may appear or feel smaller than it really is.

Use as much natural light as possible. This may require cutting back the overgrown bushes or pruning a tree around the exterior of the house. If appropriate, remove drapes to open the space and allow more sunlight into the room. If the drapes are in style, of good quality, and positioned so they do not interfere with the window, leave them up but keep them wide open.

Add extra lamps everywhere they look natural. Position a lamp on a table or place a floor lamp next to a chair. Every lamp needs to be anchored by a piece of furniture or it will look awkward and unnatural.

Colour

Colour is a fabulous, versatile tool when preparing a house for sale. It can depersonalize, create a mood, add warmth, attract or distract attention, encourage the direction of the tour, and increase memory. All of this can be done with little money and time. For more on the use of colour on walls, see Home Staging Tips #3: Paint it Right.

The use of vibrant colours can attract attention to a particular highlight of a room, such as a fireplace, custom window or architectural detail. Place a large piece of art above the fireplace that consists of reds, oranges and/or yellows, and it becomes the focal point. Vibrant colour can also be used to distract the eye away from a less desirable aspect of the room, such as an outdated fireplace, by creating a focal point in another area of the room – such as above the couch. Stage the room to display a desirable lifestyle and you’ve just minimized the importance of the fireplace to acquire a certain design or feel in the room.

Whatever vibrant colour you choose to use as your attention-getter, do not use it for any other purpose. Reserve that colour only for attracting (or distracting) attention. The other colours used in a room should be the chosen primary, secondary, and tertiary colours. Repeat a colour in a room at least three times so it does not look like an accident.

Using colour to highlight a special feature in your home will also increase the chances that potential buyers will remember your house over someone else’s. The house will be remembered through reference to the attention getter, for example, “We loved the house with the bold painting above the fireplace. Remember? The room was so inviting and warm.”

Accessories

I firmly believe that hardware is jewelry for the home; for example, cabinet hardware, sink faucets, lighting fixtures and bathroom accessories. Consider what jewelry or accessories can do for a plain black suit. If you want to make a large impact on a room, change or update the room’s “jewelry” and it will shine. Try to keep all your choices similar in metal type; for example, if you choose chrome in the kitchen, use chrome throughout the house with perhaps just one exception.

A popular trend in the bathroom is still the “spa” look and feel. This can be accomplished with chrome, white and glass. Use white for fabrics, such as towels. You could install chrome plumbing fixtures and towel bars, glass cabinet doorknobs and a glass shower enclosure.

- Source : http://www.rew.ca/news/home-staging-tips-4-appeal-to-all-five-senses-1.2089520#sthash.ZrmDiNVF.dpuf

Maximize Functionality in Your Condo Bathroom

transitional-bathroomYour condo bathroom is undoubtedly one of the most important rooms in your home.  Unfortunately, designers and architects may not always give this highly functional space the attention it deserves to maximize each inch.  Before considering reno ideas you need to identify any limitations that may exist through your condo strata.

The most popular design theme for bathroom renos is a spa-like atmosphere, complemented by low-maintenance features. When working within the restrictions of limited condo space and strata guidelines, it may be best to work with an expert, to maximize every inch of that tiny space.

The following are a few tips to create a spa-like atmosphere and maximize your bathroom space:

bathroomGlass-enclosed showers/tubs

The shower typically takes up one-third of the space, based on a standard-sized tub. By eliminating the shower curtain, the visual space extends through the entire room. Sleek, minimal fixtures create a low-maintenance barrier, while creating a spa-like feel.

Shower seats

Seen in luxury bathrooms, seating is becoming more commonplace. The built-in seat lends itself to relaxing in the shower, with the added functionality of storing products.

Neutral tones and natural materials

Soft neutral colours in the white and beige categories help create that spa atmosphere. Stone and wood add a soothing touch of nature. With this smaller space the overall cost will be far less,  compared to installing stone tiles in a kitchen. The use of natural stone and wood also add a touch of luxury, while adding value to your condo design.

Wall-mounted vanities and toilets

These extend the site line, creating a sense of increased floor space, without detracting from storage space. Rimless toilets also add to the spa-like effect with a minimalistic style, while increasing ease in cleaning. Work with your builder to determine what is possible with the existing plumbing and strata guidelines.

Get Excited about Shower-heads

The options are plentiful when considering fixtures to turn the shower/tub space into a total spa experience. Think beyond the traditional and visit showrooms for the complete array of options when designing your condo bathroom.

Tip: Installing a steam shower will require special insulation so be sure to consult your builder and strata before purchase.

Before you splash out, reach out to a certified builder or designer experienced in condo bathroom renovations. Strata rules, and common walls and plumbing will determine the parameters of your renovation. Using a builder knowledgeable in strata rules and bylaws will save you time and money, with maximum results.

 

Why You Should Clean Up Fallen Leaves & How to Make It Easier

leavesBrightly colored autumn leaves are one of the greatest joys of the season. However, once these same leaves drop off the trees and land on your yard or your roof, they are usually no longer so welcome. Cleaning up fallen leaves is a time-consuming chore that most homeowners do not enjoy one bit. Here are reasons why this task is necessary and tips to make your work a little easier.

Why Clean Up Fallen Leaves

While it is by no means mandatory for you to track down and annihilate every last leaf on your property, copious amounts of large leaves like maple or oak will smother your grass and flowers if left as is.

In an autumn windstorm, your fallen leaves will blow onto neighboring yards. This is not a popularity booster.

Leaf removal may be required by your Homeowners’ Association.

Fallen leaves can carry diseases such as anthracnose, a type of fungus.

Foliage in your roof gutters will cause clogs, which may result in damage to your fascia and soffit boards, as well as rainwater and melted snow backing up into your attic. Eventually, when the temperature dips below freezing, clogged gutters tend to produce ice dams.

Clumps of dead leaves on the roof itself will trap moisture, leading the shingles underneath to rot.

rakeHow to Make Clean Up Easier

Prune any trees on your property that have become overgrown. Trimming will not only cut down on the amount of leaves to be shed, it also may offer protection against limbs being detached by winter storms. Be especially vigilant about boughs that overhang your roof.

Adjust your lawn mower to cut your grass short in the autumn — much, much shorter than you would normally do in full summer, when keeping its roots covered is important to hold in moisture. This way, the leaves falling from your trees are less likely to get caught in the grass.

Make use of some simple low-tech tools to help with leaf collection. For example, an extra-wide 30″ rake with special non-clog tines will simplify and speed up your task. Keep up the good work by utilizing your new utensil to rake leaves onto a tarp. Then use a leaf chute to help load your cargo into brown paper bags for curbside pickup by your municipality.

Rake on a still day, if at all possible. Should you not have a choice, work as efficiently as you can by raking in the same direction as the wind is blowing. Raking downhill and when leaves are dry will also spare your strength.

As an alternative to bagging, transform fallen foliage into mulch, which will keep tree trunks and garden beds cozy over the winter. Mulch acts to safeguard against harsh temperatures and slows down weed growth too. NOTES: Avoid mulching foliage which has been affected by powdery mildew, rust, or tar spot. Walnut leaves are toxic to certain garden plants and thus not a good choice for mulch.

Consider composting fallen leaves to eventually enrich your garden soil. This is easier said than done, because leaves break down quite slowly. However, you can easily speed up the decomposition process by shredding the leaves with your rotary mower. (Just be sure that your blade is sharp and the leaves are dry. Go over them 2 or 3 times.) Treat the leaf shreds as brown material and combine them with nitrogen-rich greens such as grass clippings, in a ratio of roughly 25:1. Compost a variety of leaf species together for the best results.

 

Source : http://www.care2.com/greenliving/why-you-should-clean-up-fallen-leaves-and-how-to-make-it-easier.html#ixzz3p2aXBsjd

Competing With Other Buyers?

houseWith historic low interest rates, buyers are making the jump into homeownership as it is a great time to get into the market. However in a sellers’ market, buyers find themselves in competition with other buyers to purchase a home. The seller is not obligated to negotiate or accept any of the offers. The seller has the liberty to choose the best offer to negotiate and they will accept the offer that best reflects their needs. While price is important, that will not be the only factor they consider. They will also look at things such as subject conditions, completion and possession dates.

competition

Here are some things you can consider and help you feel more in control of the situation when going into multiple offer situations:

  • Prepare thoroughly and have all your financial documentation ready: It is important that you provide your mortgage expert all the documentation the lender is going to require upfront. Especially since time will be of essence, you don’t want the added stress of getting documentation when you are in the middle of negotiations and during the subject condition period.
  • Have the right real estate agent: It is critical that you work with an agent that has your best interests in mind. As a buyer it is not your job to seal the deal, it’s your agent’s responsibility, so make sure they know what your limit is and respect it. Don’t let your agent try to upsell you on the price and encourage you to go above your budget. It’s their job to research comparable in the area and advise you but you are the one that makes the final decision after all it’s your money.
  • Set your boundaries: Once you set your budget, stick to it. Determine exactly how much you can go over if you end up in multiple offers. Don’t get sucked in by emotion and peer pressure because in the end it can end up costing you a lot more money.
  • Consider doing a home inspection ahead of time: The buyer could consider your offer more readily, if it doesn’t include a “subject to inspection” clause.
  • Be flexible: Winning a multiple-offer situation might be as easy as agreeing to the seller’s conditions such as closing dates, buying the property “as is” or even tightening the subject removal dates. This is important if the seller has already bought another property and is anxious to moving on. Agreeing to make the transaction as easy as possible could mean winning over a more generous offer. When buying a property “as is” and limiting the subject conditions – such as requesting that a missing knob or floor tile be replaced – might work in your favour too. If your agent is aware of any information about the seller’s situation and if you can be flexible in any way, take advantage of this opportunity that might help you get your offer accepted.
  • Write it down: Perhaps you might want to write a quick letter to the seller explaining who you are and why you want to buy their home so much. Buying and selling a home is an emotional time for everyone, especially if the seller has lived in that home for a long time and raised their family there. Sometimes, it’s not about the highest offer but it can certainly also be about an emotional connection. Even though your offer might be lower than the others, some sellers might feel a strong connection to your story and decide that it’s not about the money but about someone who will really appreciate a great home.
  • Know when it is time to walk away: Multiple offer situations can be stressful and sometimes listing agents strategically set the price of the home below market value to start a multiple offer situation. Make sure you stand firm on the top end of your budget, and don’t give in to the pressure of the situation. If the seller doesn’t accept your best offer, it’s time to move on.

Buying your home is about getting a great investment and you have to be smart about it. In the end, it’s about being comfortable on what you are paying each month and happy with the decisions you make. After all it’s about finding a home that will be a great place to start building equity and creating memories.

Source : http://www.rew.ca/news/competing-with-other-buyers-how-to-boost-your-chances-of-getting-that-home-1.2084209#sthash.YxF3iiOG.dpuf

How to Renovate Condo Kitchen on a Budget

saveThe Vancouver condo market is hot and kitchen design is sizzling too! As condo square footage decreases, kitchen space is changing. Condo kitchens today are often more of a culinary wall in the great-room concept, with an island serving as the eating station, and extra storage and work space. With this new trend, condo kitchen renovations will most likely require wall removal, upgrades in appliances, cabinetry, and flooring, and maybe the addition of an island. To keep costs down, keep the following in mind when renovating:

  • Roll up your sleeves and pitch in with the demolition. And, for that matter, you can help with rubbish, recycling and general cleanup too. This can save you upwards of three to five per cent of your overall renovation costs.
  • Existing appliances can be resold or recycled. Check with BC Hydro for appliance rebate programs in your area. If not available, list them for free, and eliminate removal costs.
  • Culinary walls typically feature flush-mounted appliances, adding to the seamless, opening living feel. Tap in to your certified builder or renovator’s contacts. Chances are they will get better deals on appliances, saving you money to upgrade.
  • Re-use existing cabinetry. If cabinets are in good shape, door panels can be replaced or recovered.
  • Cabinet space-saving systems can exponentially increase your existing usable space per square foot, eliminating the need for excessive cabinetry.
  • If you are removing walls, the space will naturally lighten up. Look to under-cabinet lighting to warm up darker corners versus more expensive, recessed overhead lighting.
  • If you don’t have to move the kitchen sink, don’t. It will save you plumbing costs, and potential issues with your strata/bylaws. If however, you are working with a plumber, and have access to include natural gas in your kitchen, this would be a cost-efficient time to upgrade.
  • Open-concept living generally features a single floor covering. Buy in-stock flooring rather than making custom orders. This will save you on both time and money. And, make sure wall removal is complete before installing. Have your plans in place.
  • Countertops often become the statement piece in open plans, with a focal point around the island. You might like to splash out here, given all of the other dollar-saving ideas.
  • Finally, but most importantly, work with a professional contractor/renovator with condominium knowledge. There will be strata rules to consider, city bylaws, and limitations with common walls, supporting walls, and windows, just to name a few.

When buying older units, make sure to do your due diligence: know the bylaws, use a building inspector and most of all, be sure to use a certified builder or renovator, and get the agreement in writing.

Source : http://www.rew.ca/news/how-to-renovate-your-condo-kitchen-on-a-budget-1.2071143#sthash.nexx6JUo.dpuf

Vancouver’s New Building Bylaw

real estate vancouver

Vancouver, BC        Canada

Unlike any other city or municipality in British Columbia, the City of Vancouver is authorized by the Vancouver Charter to pass its own building bylaws regulating the design and construction of buildings as well as administrative provisions for permitting, inspection and enforcement.

On 1st April, 2014, Vancouver City Council adopted the 2012 British Columbia Building Code, with additional requirements and revisions specific to Vancouver, to create the 2014 Vancouver Building Bylaw (the “Vancouver Building Bylaw”). The Vancouver Building Bylaw was originally scheduled to come into effect on 1st July, 2014 but that date has been extended to 1st January, 2015. The current 2007 Vancouver Building Bylaw will remain in effect until that date.

The Vancouver Building Bylaw includes amendments to improve housing for seniors and people with disabilities as well as amendments to promote the City’s objectives of the “Greenest City 2020 Action Plan”. This environmental action plan contains specific goals addressing issues such as reducing carbon footprint, achieving zero waste and preserving the City’s ecosystems, which the City hopes to achieve by 2020 to constitute the world’s “greenest city”.

The Vancouver Building Bylaw may affect how professionals, including architects, engineers and building envelope consultants, design projects subject to the bylaw and may impose additional administrative requirements associated with a project. It may also impose further obligations upon professionals during the construction process in the form of field review to ensure that the additional requirements of the bylaw are being met.

Requirements of New Vancouver Building Bylaw

The Vancouver Building Bylaw covers one and two family dwellings, including single family homes, townhouses and secondary suites (buildings classified as Part 3 or Part 9 non-residential buildings), and is intended to address issues such as: accessibility, energy utilization, and rain screen cladding systems. It includes new requirements and improvements for:

  • Building permits;
  • Building envelope requirements;
  • Equipment;
  • Health and life safety;
  • Energy efficiency;
  • Adaptable housing;
  • Certified Energy Advisor evaluation of energy efficiency prior to City insulation inspection;
  • Energy modelling report prior to application; and
  • Sprinkler systems.

In connection with Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, the Vancouver Building Bylaw requires that all new buildings subject to the bylaw be designed to meet strict energy standards to reach energy reduction targets for new buildings of 20% below 2007 levels by 2020, and to be carbon neutral by 2030. A 240-volt electrical vehicle outlet is required in each carport or garage.

To address accessibility issues, the bylaw requires that all doorways and corridors be wider to accommodate wheelchairs. There are new requirements with respect to the placement of kitchen and bathroom faucets, kitchen sink drains and dimensions for bathrooms. Also amended are the requirements for the placement of outlets, electric switches and living room windows.

As part of building envelope requirements, improved insulation is mandated for windows, sliding glass doors, skylights, walls, attics and under slab insulation. There are also new requirements for air tightness.

“Noise pollution” from exterior and interior sources is becoming a bigger issue in construction and has been the subject of at least one known claim in the context of the remediation of the building envelope of a condominium complex. Explicitly addressed in the Vancouver Building Bylaw is one aspect of noise control; the bylaw requires HVAC equipment to conform to the noise-control bylaw.

No More Doorknobs

One new requirement in the Vancouver Building Bylaw has attracted considerable attention, as well as some derision. With the bylaw, Vancouver has become the first city in Canada to ban doorknobs. In place of doorknobs, all new construction under the bylaw will require the use of accessible levered handles. This is part of the minimum accessibility standards.

Other Requirements

Prior to obtaining a building permit under the Vancouver Building Bylaw, a new house plan must be evaluated by a Certified Energy Advisor (“CEA”) using EnerGuide Rating System and the “P-File” submitted with the plans.

Prior to the City’s insulation inspection, an authorized Energy Advisor must: (1) provide confirmation of visual verification of window ratings; (2) complete a Vancouver Thermal Bypass checklist; and (3) complete a pre-drywall blower-door test.

Prior to final inspection, the builder must submit a copy of the final EnerGuide Report, prepared by the CEA. Further work may be required if the home performs significantly worse than the 3.5 ACH. Also required is a completed checklist by the CEA confirming that electrical, pipe insulation, and other energy requirements of the VBBL were met.

Transition Between 2007 and 2014 Vancouver Building Bylaw

If an application for a building permit is made before 1st January, 2015, the applicant can choose to apply under the 2007 bylaw or the 2014 bylaw.

Applications for building permits under the current bylaw must be submitted to the City of Vancouver by 19th December, 2014.

Not surprisingly, the City of Vancouver has received a large number of development applications under the current bylaw and reports that applications have increased by 40% from the same time period the previous year.

As a result of the influx of applications, builders have reported increased delays in the processing of their permit applications from a time period of one week to up to three months, which builders say have resulted in construction delays and increased costs.

While the new Vancouver Building Bylaw is intended to make buildings more accessible and environmentally friendly, opponents have criticized it on the basis that the changes will result in increased construction cost. The bylaw imposes new design criteria on those professionals involved in the construction of buildings subject to the bylaw, and may impose additional administrative and field review obligations. Time will tell whether these obligations will result in new types of claims against building professionals.

Article by: Karen L. Weslowski