Small Condo-Kitchen Reno Bedford NS Part 1

When my mother relocated to Halifax for her job two years ago, she decided to buy a small condo in the heart of Bedford, NS.  The 1000 SQF condo offered spectacular views of the beautiful Bedford Basin, but the space was in need of a serious make over.  Here’s how we went from drab to fab with the help of some top notch professionals.

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The kitchen was small, dark, and uninviting.  The condo was 27 years old and so was the kitchen!  The dishwasher was original to the unit and didn’t even open all the way, do to the depth of the fridge. 

Before Kitchen

With the help of I Love Renovations, Cabinet Works Ltd, and Habitat for Humanity, we transformed this tired looking space into a bright and cozy little kitchen.

Did you know that Habitat for Humanity will come to your house, tear out your old kitchen and cart it away at no cost to you?  WELL THEY DO!  They will then recycle the products in their RESTORE .  This will save you money as the contractor you hire won’t have to do it.  Chris MacMullin, co-owner and contractor with I Love Renovations told me about this service.  I was so impressed by Chris and his crew, I have referred and used them for other projects since then. 

Habitat for Humanity

When it came to the actual kitchen design, Norm and Nina from Cabinet Works Ltd. were great to work with.  Norm came out to the site to take measurements and Nina did the kitchen design.  Once the design was approved the fun began!  We got to make our selections for cabinetry, countertop, and hardware, plus any upgraded features such as lighting and storage.  From there, Mom and I headed to Ceratec in Dartmouth and selected our tile and backsplash with the expert advise of Ingrid.  Now there’s a lady who knows her stuff! 

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The space went to dark and dingy to bright and breathtaking!  We are so happy with all the expert advise and professional workmanship we received from our selected renovation team.  As a REALTOR®, I know how important referrals are; that’s why I am happy to endorse all four companies.

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To Be or Not to Be a REALTOR®

That is the Question…

The decision become a REALTOR® is not one to be taken lightly.  The licensing course and the associated fees are costly and you can be almost certain you will not break even in the first year of the business.  Becoming a REALTOR® is not a hobby you pick up in retirement, or a part-time job you do on the side; it is a full time career that requires full dedication.  Once you complete and pass the licensing course and join a brokerage, theoretically you can practise in the trade of real estate.  However, it takes time and many transactions to really feel like you know what you’re doing. 

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Think about it this way…would you want a brand new doctor, just out of med school, performing a splenectomy on you if she’d never actually assisted in or performed one before?  You’d probably not be totally comfortable with it.  What if there’s complications she has no experience with?  The outcome could be disastrous!  So is the case with each and every real estate transaction.  None are the same, some are more complicated than others and require the expertise of a seasoned professional.   

nervous doc

I know it’s a catch 22…how will a REALTOR® (or a doctor for that matter) ever gain experience if they don’t practice and perform the duties required to gain the experience?  Fortunately for us, med students are not thrust into their vocation without years of practice and experience.  This is not the case with new realtors®.  I was fortunate enough to be mentored by one of the top agents not only in the company, but also in the real estate community. 

My advice to new REALTORS® would be to align yourself with such a person, who has been practicing successfully and would be happy to mentor you.  I’d take it a step further.  Before you even take the licensing course, set up a meeting with a practicing, successful REALTOR®.  Pick their brain, find out why they went into real estate, how long it took for them to establish themselves, and if they’d be interested and have the time, to mentor you.   Then decide if you have the time, and resources to devote to launching a career in real estate.  You should have enough money saved to live off of for at least a year or the financial support of a spouse who can pick up the slack while you are building your business.

student and mentor

I love my career in real estate!  I’ve worked with hundreds of buyers and sellers, and I’m making a good living.  In the past two years alone, I have had over 50 sale transactions and each one has been a fresh learning experience that makes me a better REALTOR®.

List Price vs Market Value

A Homes

You’re selling you home and want to determine the highest price you can obtain for it.  There are three other homes like yours for sale in the neighbourhood.  After looking at the photos, dropping in to open houses, and comparing your home to the others, you determine your home is worth at least as much if not more.  Below are three reasons to NOT base your home’s market value on LIST prices!

1.) Motivation of the Seller— Does the seller REALLY need to sell or are they just testing the market?  Sellers who need to sell their home because they are relocating, moving for work, or have a definitive timeline are considered motivated to sell.  Often times they will take the expert advise of a realtor® to determine the fair market value of their home so it will sell in a timely manner.  Alternatively, they may have to sell quickly and offer the home at a competitive price.  Low motivated sellers may want to test the market to see what they could get for the house; they may not even intend to sell.  They are in love with their house and won’t sell it unless they can get an unrealistic inflated price for it.  Speculation on a hoped-for prices is nothing more than gambling. 

2.) REALTORS® Compete for Listings—Some agents are tempted to “stretch the truth” when they tell home owners the market value of their home.  There could be as many as 1500 realtors® fiercely competing for listings in a demographic.  The agents with the most listings, often make the most money. Some agents may “buy” your listing at an inflated price, only to ask for a price reduction shortly after you’ve signed to list with their company.  Listing your home for an inflated price, hurts your market position, as buyers will overlook your listing and buy homes more accurately priced according to market value. 

3.) High Real Estate Commissions—Real estate commissions vary by brokerage but could be as much as 5-6% of the sale price.  Generally, sellers are responsible for paying real estate commissions but in actual fact, commission comes out of the proceeds of the sale, and is built in to the price.  Sellers don’t like giving away the equity in there homes by paying high selling commissions and often times inflate their asking price above market to recover the fees.

There is only one way to determine the market value of your home, and that is through looking at comparable SALES data.  What comparable homes have already SOLD for in the not too distant past, in your neighbourhood.  The best comparable homes are going to be like yours in style, age, finishes, and neighbourhood, and should have sold within the last 6-12 months.  Some homes are in pristine condition and will sell for top dollar, while others will need some work.  In general, eliminate any outliers, homes vastly superior or inferior to yours, and focus on what the average home sold for.  A good REALTOR® will generate a detailed comparative market analysis for you.  If done properly, the correct list price should just emerge out of the data. 

Contact me for a FREE CMA of your home!

Home Improvements – Cost vs Value

When it comes to home improvements, smaller replacement projects, particularly those that enhance curb appeal, remain the most cost effective way for sellers to improve value. 

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Sellers are always looking for ways to get top dollar for their listing. In an article published by REALTOR® Mag, the official magazine of the National Association of REALTORS® (USA), which discussed The Remodelling Cost vs Value Report, large-scale jobs aren’t likely to return sellers their full cost.

According to the article, simpler, lower-cost projects tend to return greater value. Replacing a front door could recoup as much as 101.8% in resale value.  First impressions are important for prospective buyers. Replacements offering greatest payback are ones most obvious to buyers when they first view homes online, such as a new garage door, new siding, or manufactured stone veneer. (Think about the impact of beautiful online photos when buyers view listings on MLS®.) Inside, kitchens offer the most remodelling bang for your buck, and are the only interior remodelling job to make the top 10. 

The amount sellers can expect to recoup from home improvements is dependent on many factors and will vary from sale to sale.  Keep home improvements inline with what is in good taste for the region and neighbourhood, and ensure the improvements are done well, in a quality workmanship-like manner.

While you can’t apply this data directly to any specific house or neighbourhood, you can use the Cost vs. Value Report as a starting point to determine what home improvements are right for you and how they can potentially improve the market position of your property.  

Below is a chart put out by the National Association of the Remodelling Industry.  Check it out to get a quick visual on the relationships between project cost, return at resale, and the joy that owners experience after a remodel.

You may also want to check out the 2016 Cost vs Value Report

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For more information follow this link

Understanding Closing Costs

Calculating Closing Costs in Nova Scotia

Closing Costs are the out of pocket expenses associated with buying a home.  It is important that you budget for these expenses as they cannot be rolled into your mortgage.  Below are examples of the typical closing costs you can expect in Nova Scotia. Understanding Closing Costs can help you plan for your new home purchase.

Deed Transfer Tax—This is a straight forward tax, set my the municipality.  In Nova Scotia, Deed Transfer Tax falls between 1% —1.5% of the purchase price.  In HRM, it is 1.5%. 

Lawyer—A lawyers role in the closing is to review all the documentation, explain it to the buyer, and handle all the transfer and disbursement of funds.  This will typically run between $800 and $1,200.

Property Tax Adjustment—This expense is largely dependent on the value of the home and where it’s located.  Many people roll their property tax into their mortgage payment, but in actual fact the municipality only collects it twice a year (end of April and October in HRM).  The instalment covers tax payers for the following six months. Therefore, when a closing falls between collection dates, the seller has already paid up until the next instalment date. To correct for this, a pro-rated amount of what property tax balance is owed by the buyer to reimburse the seller, will be calculated at the time of closing. 

Other Adjustments—If the property you are buying has oil/propane tanks or leased equipment, these could add up to additional closing costs.  If the property has oil or propane tanks, the seller typically fills these before closing. Receipts will be provided to the buyer’s lawyer.  If the buyer is taking over a lease, such as a hot water tank, there will be adjustments for that as well.

Location Certificate and/or Title insurance—The lender typically requires they get at least one of these. The former is a drawing completed by a qualified land surveyor that certifies the building is within the property boundaries and not encroaching on someone else’s land. This location certificate costs about $850, but if the seller has a fairly recent one, that can be used by the buyer for free. Title insurance is less expensive, around $450, and is an insurance policy against encroachments, zoning infractions, or title disputes. Many buyers opt for this less expensive option.

Miscellaneous—These include registering the mortgage and title, sending couriers, printing costs, etc.

I usually tell my clients to budget for an additional 2.5%—3% of the purchase price.  There are strategies to get these costs down, either through your lender or during negotiations.

Closing Cost Cheat Sheet

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Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale

5 Tips for Preparing your Home for Sale

You’ve decided to sell your home.  Here are 5 tips to prepare your home for sale and showcase it in the best possible light to negotiate top dollar.

  1. Declutter – I know this is a daunting task but when selling your home, less really is more…and when I say LESS, I mean LESS STUFF.  Start with something manageable like closets, and drawers, then work your way up to bigger projects.  Donate or sell items you no longer need or use, and consider renting a storage unit if there are things you just can’t part with.
  2. Depersonalize – Once you decide to sell your house, you have to start thinking of it as a marketable item.  You want potential buyers to be able to see the home in an objective light, where they can begin to picture “their things”.  Store family photos, graduate diplomas from walls, trophies and other nik-naks  from around the house.  Remember, you will be able to display all these items in your NEW home.
  3. Deep Clean – Make your house sparkle from top to bottom.  Hire someone to help you if you feel overwhelmed.  Trust me, it’s money well spent!  Clean the oven, scrub the grout, dust the baseboards, re-caulk the tub, leave no corner uncleaned.  This could be worth thousands of dollars.  If walls look beat up, repaint or at the very least wash the walls and do touch ups.  I’ve sold a lot of homes and the ones that sell quickest, and fastest, for top dollar LOOK like they have been well maintained.  This is what we call MOVE IN READY!
  4. Keep it Tidy – I know you have to live in the house while it’s for sale, but get in the habit of keeping it show ready.  It will take a little bit more effort but will save you a lot of time and stress when a Realtor® wants to show it.  By keeping it show ready you may also be able to allow short notice showings.  Remember, the more buyers through your home, the better. If you have pets, it’s best to take them with you when there is a showing.  Remove any “pet evidence” such as food dishes, cat litter, etc.  These can be turn offs to potential buyers.
  5. Do the maintenance – Now is a good time to do those minor (or even major) repairs you have been putting off.  If applicable, have the furnace cleaned, change air-filters, clean gutters, weed the flower beds, keep the lawn mowed, or driveway and walkway clear of snow, etc.  Once again, buyers feel good about buying a home that has been well cared for.