Archive for November, 2015

Give Twice with These Energy Efficient Gifts!

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Give Twice with These Energy Efficient Gifts! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamGift-giving season is nearly upon us in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region. Saving energy and helping the environment are good no matter what season it is. If you prefer giving gifts that are useful and practical, you’re sure to find something to please on this list of energy efficient gifts. And your gift will help the recipient to use less energy and save money too.

For the home improvement fanatic:

  • LED or CFL lights
    Bulbs, lamps, reading lights
  • Home energy monitor, such as the Kill-a-Watt monitor available from Amazon.ca
    Allows the user to track the amount of electricity being consumed by various devices.
  • Faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Window insulating kit
  • Plugs for unused electrical outlets
    Did you know that up to 20% of air leakage from your home can occur through outlets?
  • Ceiling fans
    Keep your home warmer in winter, cooler in summer and help with humidity all year round.

For the home cook and bottle washer:

  • Pressure cooker
    This old-fashioned pot uses up to 70% less energy than traditional cooking and cooks food faster too.
  • Tea towels
    Who says everything has to be washed in the dishwasher!
  • Cold water laundry detergent
    Single-use packs make a good stocking stuffer gift.
  • Energy Star rated appliances of all kinds

For the device geek:

  • Power bar
    These come with all sorts of innovations, such as integrated timer, auto shutoff, and special sockets for charging mobile devices
  • Solar-powered cell phone and battery chargers
  • Solar backpack
    Looks like a regular student backpack but can charge electronic devices. (Check out this one called the SolarGoPack from Amazon.)

For the survival dude:

  • Battery powered radio in case of power outages
  • LED flashlight
    Or how about this hand-crank flashlight from Ikea?  Great gift for kids too.
  • Portable solar panel kit
    The GoalZero Guide 10 Adventure Kit allows you to charge all sorts of things, such as USB powered devices, phones, tablets, flashlight batteries, and emergency radios.

Do you have more ideas to add to this list? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

10 Things Not to Do to Your Home When Selling

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

10 Things Not to Do to Your Home When Selling | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you’re planning on selling your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home, you want to sell it fast and for the best price. You’ve probably gotten lots of advice about all the things you must do. (I’ve written plenty of blog articles myself on the topic. This is the most recent one, and it includes links to the other articles:  4 Tips to Sell Your Home in Any Market)

But what are some so-called upgrades or updates that won’t pay you back and might even hurt you when it comes time to sell?

Some of these are items you may have built into your home for your own pleasure and convenience. Use them and enjoy them, but be aware that other people might not be so thrilled with them, and may be reluctant to pay for them.  Others are things you may be considering doing because you’ve heard they’ll add value. It’s true that most buyers these days are looking for a home that requires no improvements before they can move in, and sellers are more likely to get top dollar for their home if everything is up to date. But – how much more should you invest in your home to make it sales-worthy?

1.  Special rooms

The average house buyer is looking for at least 3 bedrooms, AND the average buyer tends not to have a lot of imagination when it comes to use of space! Using a bedroom as a home office won’t put off a buyer, but converting a garage to a family room might kill your sale. In addition, most buyers don’t want dedicated spaces like yoga studios, hair salons, sound-proofed recording studios, even tiered theatre rooms which are popular at the moment, and certainly aren’t willing to pay extra for them. In general, it’s wise to avoid making permanent structural changes that alter the intended use of a space or limit its future use.

2.  Trendy or personal-taste decorating

If your daughter’s bedroom is fluorescent pink, and the dining room has splashy floral wallpaper, you might want to dial things back to neutral before listing your home. Paint – in a neutral color – is the one upgrade which will benefit you and pay you back, especially if you do it yourself and do it well.

3.  Appliances

A lot of buyers these days want stainless steel, but installing brand new top end appliances won’t get you a higher selling price.

4.  Flooring

Should you replace the wall-to-wall carpet in your home, especially if it is an out-of-date color and starting to show signs of wear? Most buyers these days are looking for solid flooring, such as hardwood, laminate, ceramic tile and the like, but this type of flooring isn’t cheap, and you are unlikely to get your money back when you sell. My advice would be to go for a good professional carpet cleaning and hope for the best!

5.  Built-ins

Extra storage is always a boon to homeowners, but what if you’ve built in extra cabinets, cupboards and shelving in every room in the house? Lots of buyers will appreciate this but not to the point of compensating you for what you probably spent.

6.  Sunroom addition

A nice idea, especially in our climate, but hugely expensive to add on, and many buyers would not want to take on the extra heating and cooling costs.

7.  Swimming pools and hot tubs

These cost a lot to install and require significant maintenance. You won’t get your money back on these, and you may even find some buyers are turned off by them. Definitely do not put more money into these to spruce them up just before you sell (although remember that items in your home should be in good working order).

8.  Roof

Surprisingly, a brand new roof won’t add value to your home, although it might make the home easier to sell. Replace your roof if you need to but don’t expect to recover your cost.

9.  Backup generator, and other system improvements

Practical, useful, potentially life-saving in our area, especially if your home is on an acreage… Who wouldn’t want a backup generator?! Most buyers don’t want to pay for this extra but instead would probably consider it a nice bonus. Most people also, unfortunately, will not pay extra for a new furnace, plumbing updates, air conditioning, new hot water heater and the like. These are part of the invisible systems that buyers have every right to expect will be in proper working order. Think of these as regular maintenance instead of an investment in your home. Improvements of this type may make for a faster sale and possibly less haggling on the price, but won’t increase the price from what similar houses are selling for.

10.  Anything that is over the top for the level of home and neighbourhood

We all want our homes to be comfortable and beautiful, but if you put a gourmet kitchen or luxury ensuite into your modest home, or splurge on fancy landscaping (fire pit, gazebo, fountain, fish pond, basketball court…) so that these items resemble a spread in House Beautiful, chances are good you’ll recover only a fraction of your costs when it’s time to sell. Avoid over-improving your home. I recently listed a home whose owner had installed a Bose sound system throughout his home, an expenditure of $100,000! He loved it while he lived in the home, but we knew we would be unlikely to find that special buyer willing to pay the price. If you can’t take expensive equipment with you, be prepared to swallow the loss.

Value in a home depends on many factors.  Some of these include:

  • the local market (the number of homes currently for sale in an area, prices of homes recently sold, how fast they sold, etc.);
  • the age, size and style of the home;
  • the quality of construction;
  • the home’s condition, including regular maintenance and updating;
  • location, including amenities and accessibility, type and size of lot, nearby traffic patterns and green space, crime levels, etc.

Taking on a major renovation just before you sell in hopes that you’ll score big is pretty much always a bad idea (assuming that your home is in reasonable condition. If it isn’t, that’s a whole other discussion!). My best advice? Fix all the little things that need to be repaired, do a superior cleaning job, and paint anything that’s looking shop-worn.  The most important thing to remember is that a home is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it, and it’s probably not worth it to put more money into it just before you sell.

Need help in deciding how to best present your home in the market? I’m happy to provide that help. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Should You Buy a New Home, or Sell the Old One First?

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Should You Buy a New Home, or Sell the Old One First? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County real estate | Barry TwynamYou need to leave your current home and move to a new town for work, or your family has outgrown your current residence in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the Edmonton region or elsewhere. Should you buy a new home before selling your current home, or is it better to sell the old one first? This is a complicated question with pros and cons on both sides of the issue.

Buy First

Pros:

  • You can take your time to shop for a new home and make it ready for your occupancy.
  • With no one waiting to move in to your current home, you’ll feel less pressure to move out and you’ll have more time to prepare for the move.
  • The biggest advantage is the security of knowing you have somewhere to live, whether that is your current home or a new one.

Cons:

  • It may be necessary to carry two mortgages for a time (assuming you can even get one on a new dwelling), as well as maintain two homes, and this could be problematic and costly.
  • An Offer to Purchase a new home that is conditional on the sale of your current home may not be acceptable to many sellers because it ties up their property while everyone waits for your current home to sell. If it doesn’t sell, you then risk having the deal on your new home fall through.

Sell First

Pros:

  • You’ll have money in the bank and will know how much you can spend on a new home.
  • Your Offer to Purchase a new home would not need to be conditional on the sale of the old one, making your offer more likely to be accepted.

Cons:

  • Selling your current home before buying another one could leave you homeless! You might find yourself quickly buying a less than satisfactory home just to put a roof over your head, or having to rent temporary accommodations until you can buy a suitable home (and having to move twice, or place your belongings in storage).
  • If the sale of a new home goes through before you sell your old home, you may be short of cash for down payment and closing costs, and this could require “bridge financing”.

Ultimately, your family situation and especially your finances will determine which scenario will be your choice.

I often deal with clients in this situation and can usually help people find a workable solution. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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