10 Steps to Home Sweet Home

General Raymond Walia 3 Jun

Congratulations! There is nothing more exciting than moving into a new home. Whether a new building or re-sale property, there are a few things you can do as soon as you take possession in order to make it your own. Invest a weekend or two into warming up a featureless space or refreshing someone else’s old homestead.

Here are 10 things you can do to really own your new space and turn it into home sweet home:

  1. Change The Locks: Secure your home by changing the locks as soon as you take possession. Even DIY beginners can change a deadbolt lock. A replacement deadbolt set can be installed in place of the current lock with just a screwdriver— no drilling required. Another option is to rekey the lock. Purchase a rekeying set from the same manufacturer as the existing door lock, and reset it for a new key
  1. Consider a Professional Deep Cleaning: Hiring a professional cleaner to deep-clean and detail your home before you move your possessions in can make your new home feel that much more YOU! It will be easier without any furniture to work around, allowing them to access to every nook and cranny. Yes, you’ll have to clean again after moving day, but the heavy lifting will have already been done!
  1. Clean Out Your Pipes: Years of dust, pet dander and detritus collect in the hidden workings of any home. One of the most effective ways to refresh a new home is to get right into the guts of it! Have your ducts, furnace and air conditioning unit professionally cleaned and be sure to change the filters as required to maintain that clean, fresh air.
  1. Apply a Coat of Paint: Painting provides the most bang for your home-improvement buck! Whether the walls of your home are dingy or you’re simply not feeling the magic of beige, it only takes a few hours to repaint your space with a colour that makes you feel at home.
  1. Freshen Up Your Floors: Much like worn-out walls, old floors can really put a damper on that new-home buzz. If your hardwood has seen better days, you can consider hiring professionals to re-do it or tackle the project yourself by renting a floor sander and varnishing over a weekend. For carpet, a deep steam clean can do wonders! For laminate, you can get that extra shine with a special laminate floor cleaner. Although if any of your floor coverings are lifting or have holes in them, you may want to replace it. You can further personalize your new space by adding floor runners or area rugs!
  1. Neutralize Odors: Any re-sale home can benefit from a deep-clean refresh to eliminate any lingering odors from previous tenants. While some of the above steps will dramatically reduce any lingering smells, stubborn aromas require spot treatments such as:
  • Putting dishes of activated charcoal (also known as activated carbon) in a musty, damp basement. These can be found at aquarium stores.
  • Running a dehumidifier during the spring and summer.
  • Placing a sock filled with dry coffee grounds or baking soda in closets, refrigerators or freezers to absorb stale odors.
  • Pouring white vinegar down a stinky drain.
  1. Enjoy the View! Dirty windows and screens can make rooms feel dark and dingy. A thorough cleaning will have your windows shining, and your indoors will feel brighter and fresher too. If your home came with the previous owner’s window coverings, be sure to clean or launder them; it’ll remove allergens as well as reduce any lingering odours. Or consider replacements with colors and patterns more suited to your style!
  1. Lighten Up! A well-lit home is immediately warmer and more inviting than its darker counterparts. If your rooms feel dim, replace the existing bulbs with bright, energy-saving LED or CFL bulbs for more light and cost-savings! Dated lighting fixtures can also foil your redecorating efforts, so consider replacing them with something more your style.
  1. Time for a Switch: Replacing your switch plates only requires a screwdriver but you would be surprised how much swapping out old lighting switch plates can refresh your space. With a little DIY expertise, screwdrivers, pliers and a voltage tester, you can install energy saving dimmer switches instead.
  1. Display Your Art: Once you have deep-cleaned your new home and organized it to your heart’s content, it is time to dress up your walls with your favourite artwork and family photos! Get your kids’ kindergarten masterpieces onto the fridge and deck out your mantel with family photos.

Moving into a new home is one of the best times to make your space perfect for you! With a clean slate and empty floor space, now is the time to include all the things that make your house a home – to you! Unpack your knick-knacks and personal items and add a splash of color with throw pillows or rugs to brighten things up.

Published by DLC

Relocate or Renovate?

General Raymond Walia 8 Apr

Like Lighting in a Bottle. That’s how Todd Talbot describes the chemistry between him and Jillian Harris, his co-host of the reality TV series Love It or List It Vancouver. There’s an undeniable electricity that flows between the pair who have battled against each other through 104 hour-long episodes of the home-design series. Sparks fly, but ultimately, both have the same goal: to find a solution for homeowners whose spaces simply don’t suit their needs.

In the “love it” corner is Harris, an interior designer (she wore her heart on her sleeve on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette) whose strategy is to help homeowners kiss and make up with their space, thanks to her design-savvy renovation. Talbot, a realtor (he’s been acting on stage and screen since he was a kid), is firmly in the “list it” corner, coaching quarrelsome couples to sell and start fresh.

The sparring is real, but there’s no bad blood between Harris and Talbot. “Jill and I really agree with each other 99 per cent of the time,” says Talbot. “We’re like brother and sister with each other, on camera and off.”

EMBRACING CHANGE

Buy or renovate? Talbot says the answer isn’t absolute. “Generally speaking [buying a house]; it’s a really fun journey. And it can be really fun on the reno side,” he says. “Life is lived in the grey areas, the nuances in between.” Those shades of grey involve negotiation and prioritization, among other practical and philosophical considerations that happen behind the scenes.

Off set, Talbot is a dedicated DIYer. “My happy place is building and renovating. I manage all my rental properties and do almost all the maintenance,” he says. He even renovated the house he shares with his wife and two children, located in Lions Bay, a sleepy seaside town in B.C. But that doesn’t mean they’ll live there forever. Like the homeowners featured on the show, Talbot and his wife wrestle with opposing forces. “Are we going to sell? Stay? Move?” Relocation to a condo in the city is a real consideration.

That struggle is what makes the show’s appeal universal. Our lives are constantly shifting. Babies are born and kids move out. Jobs change and communities evolve. Still, many homeowners are reluctant to step outside of their comfort zones, says Talbot, noting that the people who come on the show are fixated on location. “I’m the opposite: I’m a change guy. I love the idea of a different home in a different area. Nothing excites me more.”

As the TV series closes in on its fifth year of filming in June, Harris, a new mom, reflects on how her design sensibilities have shifted. “Now that I’m a parent, especially, I’m leaning towards more colour, less clutter and softer finishes, whereas before I was all about everything being white,” she says.

No two families are alike, but all are in desperate need of change, says Harris. She eases the transition, giving growing families more functional space within the existing square footage or cozying up a family home that feels empty after the kids have moved out. Each has their own wants, needs and personal style, which Harris tries to tease out of the homeowners so she can design workable spaces they love. “It’s our job to show them their best options and help guide them towards the right choice for them,” says Harris.

The obstacles families face, however, go beyond bad design and unpredictable real estate markets. A recent episode of Love It or List It Vancouver, where the homeowner uses a wheelchair, presented a new type of design challenge for Harris. “I wanted to think about every part of her home she would experience, from the front entrance to the kitchen cabinetry to being in the living room with her family. Even though they ultimately chose to list [the house], that episode really stuck with me and reminds me not to take things for granted.”

FINANCING FIRST

Whether overhauling an aging home with a sinking foundation, or buying bigger in a hot real estate market, those decisions are guided by budget. “People don’t want to talk about money. It’s not sexy,” says Talbot. His true passion for real estate is connected with the financial side. “What I really love doing is empowering people and coaching them to be able to make the decision to fulfil their vision.”

Talbot believes that gathering information and building knowledge is essential, rather than solely relying on an expert’s perspective. When you start making decisions based on instinct, it takes lots of the worry out of homeownership. He also believes everyone should view real estate as an investment and determine the end game of the property before they buy it: when they’re going to sell it and who they’re going to sell it to.

“At the end of the day, for anyone making decisions about renos or buying and selling, that’s a very personal choice and a choice that ultimately the homeowner takes responsibility for,” says Talbot.

Harris also advises thinking long-term. “It’s so important to look at both your five and 10-year plan as a family. If your house does not have any additional square footage to work with, then maybe a lipstick reno and a quick sell is your best option,” she says. “If your home does have extra space [and] it’s just not being utilized well, but you love the neighbourhood, then I would suggest renovating it to support your family for years to come.”

HOMEOWNERSHIP FOR ALL

For his part, Talbot is rethinking the entire ethos of homeownership. “In today’s day and age, we don’t live the same way as our grandparents did, [who] lived in their houses for 50 years. [Now] houses are more designed to facilitate lifestyle than be the lifestyle themselves,” he says.

“I’m really interested in the idea of redefining the Canadian dream of what makes a great house.” I think we’ve gotten off target as a society: 5,000 square feet is indulgent!” Instead, Talbot says it’s about those shades of grey and finding the sweet spot where financial responsibility, sustainability and quality of life intersect.

That’s a tough sell for some. Especially when our social media feeds are awash with idyllic images of families frolicking in sprawling backyards and cooking in couture kitchens. Dream home envy indeed. Harris sees beyond the soft filters and careful cropping and suggests homeowners look inward.

“I think the best thing is to identify what’s important to you and then build a plan around how to achieve that,” she says. “Or, be on Love It or List It Vancouver and have Todd and I figure it all out for you!”

TODD’S FIRST MORTGAGE

“Real estate kind of snuck up on me. I didn’t get into it for the money,” says Talbot who was working as successful actor when he started renovating.

“I’ve always struggled with this: being an artist and this financial fixation.” Talbot describes his first foray into the real estate market. “I bought a two-bedroom, two bathroom condo in [the Kitsilano neighbourhood in Vancouver], which happened to be the display suite. I had no furniture so I tried to negotiate in all the staging furniture.

They didn’t go for it. The only way I could swing buying my first place was to convince my buddy to rent the other room from me and that ended up subsidizing half my monthly costs. I drew up what I would later learn was a rental contract, literally on the back of a napkin. We lived together for three years before that property turned into a rental property. I refinanced it many times and funded multiple other properties with it.

I learned huge lessons owning that first property, which I sold a few years ago.”

JILLIAN’S DESIGN SECRETS

Harris is expanding her airy aesthetic of white-on-white and introducing saturated splashes of colour. Here, she shares five tips on finding your own style. Mix it up “I like to mix vintage with all sorts of eclectic styles. I like a tad of whimsy in a space and I love to see a person’s personality and life experiences shine through in the décor.” Harris also likes blending textures: “I love mixing muslins with thick rugs and knits and sequins and sparkles.”

Build Layers: Start with a blank canvas and build layers within the room. Anchor a room with an area rug, then add larger investment pieces such as sofas and loveseats. Then add in smaller pieces such as side chairs, ottomans and table lamps.

Get Colorful: “I have had a lot of fun over the years experimenting with coloured kitchens, using finishes like olive green and royal blue.”

Add Artwork: Harris suggests finding something inexpensive yet valuable in a sentimental way to inject polish and personality into your home. Or making a piece from meaningful items. “Frame flies from your great grandpa’s fly-fishing collection.”

Accessorize: Achieve a luxe look for less with a high-low mix of accessories, such as “steals” from stores such as Home- Sense and Target and “splurges” from boutiques, which act as “the icing” on the cake. “It gives your house that look of timelessness and richness.”

Published by: DLC Marketing Team

Expert Advice

Moving? Raymond Walia 19 Feb

Regardless of where you are moving on the property ladder – whether up to a full-size family home or down to a more comfortable condo – a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional can help you move on up the property ladder and ensure future financial success so you can continue living the life of your dreams!

Published by DLC.

Reverse Mortgages

Moving? Raymond Walia 19 Feb

Most individuals looking to scale down are looking to do so for retirement or because they are now empty-nesters. However, if you are looking to downsize simply due to being unable to manage your mortgage or maintenance costs, there is an option called a “Reverse Mortgage”. A reverse mortgage is a loan secured against the value of your home. It is exclusively for homeowners aged 55 years and older and enables the homeowners to convert up to 55% of the home’s value into tax-free cash! With a reverse mortgage, you maintain ownership of your home and can use the loan to cover costs or pay out debts. The loan would need to be repaid in the event that you choose to move and sell the current home.

Published by DLC.

Scaling Down

Moving? Raymond Walia 19 Feb

Moving to a larger house is not the only time that things can change with your home and mortgage. Sometimes there comes a point when owning a home becomes a little too much to handle or maybe you’re an empty-nester and no longer need three extra bedrooms. Whatever the reason, downsizing is a great option when you no longer need a full-size home. Perhaps you want to swap your two-story family home for a rancher, or maybe a cute little apartment or townhouse! Just as there are many options for individuals looking to move on up or expanding families, there are just as many options for those individuals that are looking to scale down.

For those homeowners who are fortunate enough to now be mortgage-free and looking to scale down, you could be sitting on a gold mine!

Regardless of your current situation there are some costs that go with selling your existing home and moving to something smaller or more affordable. These costs include:

  • Realtor commission fees, which range from 2.5 to 5 percent of the home selling price
  • Closing costs and legal fees, which are 1 to 4% of the purchase price on the new home
  • Miscellaneous costs such as moving expenses, upgrading appliances and/or buying new furniture
  • If you are moving into a condominium or townhouse, there are potential strata fees to consider – even if you are mortgage free

Published by DLC.

Moving On Up!

Moving? Raymond Walia 19 Feb

When it comes to moving on up, it can be extremely exciting – and rewarding – as long as you consider all the costs. When up-sizing, some of the costs to consider include:

  • Costs to sell your current home
  • Purchase price on the new home
  • Property Transfer Taxes
  • Realtor fees (typically 2.5-5% of the homes selling price)
  • Home ownership costs

If you are moving up from a condo or apartment to a single-family home, you will save on strata fees; but it is important to realize that you will now be responsible for all of the maintenance of your home. To ensure financial success, it is a good rule of thumb to save one percent of your new home’s purchase price, per year, for maintenance. For instance, if you purchase a $600,000 new home then you would want to ensure $6,000 per year in savings.

Making the move to a larger home is both an exciting and daunting process – but it is entirely doable with the right preparation.

Published by DLC.

Your current Mortgage

Moving? Raymond Walia 19 Feb

If you are wanting to up- or down-size your home, and are doing so during your current mortgage cycle, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first, is that making any change to your mortgage during your mortgage term is considered “breaking” the mortgage.

PORTABILITY

If your mortgage is portable, moving up and scaling down will be much simpler. If you are unsure of the term, “porting” your mortgage refers to taking your existing mortgage (including your rates and terms) and transferring it from the original property to another. This can only be done if you’re purchasing a new property at the same time you’re selling your old one. However, unlike mortgage refinancing, porting does not require you to break your mortgage or pay penalties.

CONSIDER THE PENALTIES

Whenever you break your mortgage, there are penalties associated with that as it is a contract. Depending on the type of mortgage you have (variable vs. fixed-rate) and how much time is left (1-year, 2-years, etc.) will determine the level of penalty. Typically, these are calculated in one of two ways:

Interest Rate Differential:

In Canada there is no one-size-fits-all rule for how the Interest Rate Differential (IRD) is calculated and it can vary greatly from lender to lender. This is due to the various comparison rates that are used. However, typically the IRD is based on the following:

  • The amount remaining on the loan
  • The difference between the original mortgage interest rate you signed at and the current interest rate a lender can charge today

Ideally, you will want to be aware of what your IRD penalty would be before you decide to break your mortgage as it is not always the most viable option.

Three Months Interest: 

In some cases, the penalty for breaking your mortgage is simply equivalent to three months of interest.A variable-rate mortgage is typically accompanied this penalty.

RE-QUALIFYING

If you are unable to port your mortgage, you would need to re-qualify for a new mortgage at the current rates offered by lenders and would be subject to government changes – including recent “stress test” rules.

If it has been a while since you bought your first home, you may be unfamiliar with the “stress test”. If you are purchasing a new home, with a new mortgage, it is important to understand what this test is as it is a requirement to qualify.

The Stress Test was originally introduced in October 2016 for insured mortgages (down payments of less than 20%), but as of January 1, 2018 this now includes all mortgages, regardless of down payment percentage. This test determines whether a home buyer can afford their principal and interest payments, should interest rates increase. It is based on the 5-year benchmark rate from Bank of Canada or the customer’s mortgage interest rate plus 2% – whichever is higher.

Published by DLC.

Overview

Moving? Raymond Walia 19 Feb

Life is constantly changing, from your career to your family, as we climb up the ladder of life. With these life changes, your current home may no longer be working for you.

If you’re feeling cramped in your tiny apartment or have a little one on the way, it may be time to consider moving on up! For those of you who feel that your current home is too big, or requires too much maintenance, then now might be a good time to scale down!

Regardless of the reason you are looking to move from your current digs, there are some things to consider, such as your current mortgage and potential costs of moving.

Published by DLC.