What Does “Building Equity” Mean?

One of the greatest benefits of home ownership is the ability to build equity over time. When you are paying off your mortgage over time, you are building the equity in your home. 

Equity is the amount of the house you truly own. It’s the difference between the balance you owe on your home and its market value.  If you sold your house and paid off the bank, the value of your equity is what you’d walk away with. 

Every month, a portion of your mortgage payment goes towards paying off the loan balance, and another portion of the payment goes towards interest costs.  As you pay off the loan, you build equity: you owe a little less, which means you own a little more of your home, 

If you live in a location where home values are increasing over time, your equity stake can also increase over time. Think of this as getting a windfall when you sell your home.  This can also happen when you renovate your home  – you can increase the value by the home improvement. 

Many homeowners refer to their mortgage payment as a way of forcing them to save. You may not feel that you are saving money by making mortgage payments every month, but if you think about it, you actually are – you are building up the value (equity) of an asset you own. With your house, it isn’t cash in the savings account; it is equity in the home. 

When you sell your home, your equity will translate into cash, and you can use this to pay towards your next home, allowing you to borrow less. You can also borrow money against the equity of your home, and the interest rates will be more favorable as your home will be used as the collateral. 

So homeownership can be a useful way to increase your personal wealth for you and your family, since you’ll be building equity in your home as you pay off your mortgage. 

 

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Planning on Moving? Here’s How to Find the Best Moving Company

Moving is stressful and expensive. Everyone has had at least one bad moving experience in his or her lives. The best way to prevent the stress that comes with moving, is to chose the right moving company that will make your move flawless. This comes with a fair amount of research and preparation. 

A lot of extremely useful information can be found in the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) website http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/ca02029.html  We strongly advise you to visit this website and carefully read and follow their checklists and advice. This document was prepared by a multi-stakeholder working group consisting of government, business, and consumer group representatives and academics, under the leadership of the Office of Consumer Affairs, Industry Canada. 

One of the best ways of finding a good moving company is through the referral process. If you have had friends/relatives that have moved in the past year, ask them about the moving company they used and get their feedback on how the move fared. 

Your real estate professional will also be able to give you some very useful recommendations. Realtors typically keep in touch with their clients after the sale/purchase of the home. They can always ask for moving referrals.  

Once you have made a shortlist of moving companies, go online and read reviews about them. Every moving company wants your business and many will promise you the earth to get your business.  Read about them online to get an idea on how genuine their promises are. 

It is absolutely true that quality doesn’t always come cheap. If you are looking for professional, quality movers, expect to pay. It would be a real pity if you have spent a lot of time and effort doing your research and then settled for simply the best deal that is out there. 

If you are expecting to move between June and September, which is the busiest moving season in Canada, its best to get busy making your enquiries now, as moving companies are not as busy.

Planning a move?  Contact us and we can advise you. Please fill out this  form, visit one of our offices, or call 604-913-1000. We will be glad to be of any assistance to you.

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How to Remove Scratches From Your Hardwood Floors.

Hardwood floors are becoming more popular in homes, especially during renovation projects. They are easier to clean and look great,  but maintaining a red oak or Brazilian cherry floor in its pristine condition can be somewhat of a challenge. A professional floor finisher will charge anything from $1 – $4 per square foot to apply a new coat of finish.

So how can you remove those annoying scratches and marks and deep gouges on a budget? Here are some tips that can achieve just that in a few easy steps: 

How to camouflage scratches: 

Crayons, wax sticks, stain markets and even Sharpie pens are great ways of hiding minor scratches. Don’t be afraid of mixing colors to get a decent match, and don’t worry if the color is a little off. So long as you cover the contrasting “white” scratches, color imperfections will match perfectly.

Use this homemade polish to remove the scratch: mix equal parts of vinegar and olive oil, pour directly on to the scratch and let it soak for a day and then wipe off. Keep repeating until the scratch disappears. The mixture will remove dirt, moisturize and give the wood a great shine.

How to remove deeper scratches:

Deeper scratches require more work and patience. There is an easy formula: sand, fill, sand again, stain and seal.

Sand the affected area with very fine gauge steel wool or lightweight sandpaper, ensuring that you are sanding with the grain.

Using a plastic putty knife, apply wood filler and not wood putty, as the filler will absorb the stain better than putty.

Using a lambs wool applicator, seal the affected area with polyurethane, or whatever product was used on the floor originally.

How to fix gaps in the floor:

The older the floorboards are, the more susceptible they are to separating. Use colored wood putty that matches the color of the floor, and carefully fill the gaps. If the gaps are quite large and if you have some spare planks, cut a narrow band and glue it into the gaps.

It takes time and patience to get the floor looking like its original state. As with carpets, a good tip would be to spread rugs all over the heavy traffic areas. This will preserve your floor life and add to the décor of the room.

If you are planning to purchase a new home, or have any real estate related questions, let us help you. We have been in the real estate business for over 26 years.  Call us on 604 913 1000, contact us  or follow us on Facebook!

 

 

 

 

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What Makes a Great Location Great?

Ask just about any real estate agent to list the three most important things a property should have, and you’ll likely hear: “location, location, location.” When you buy a home in a good location, it’s usually a solid long-term investment.

The concept of a good location differs among homebuyers.

Here are some location factors that contribute to the value of homes in a particular area:

  1. A good “walk score” – This means a location that is within walking distance of shops, recreational venues, cafe and restaurants. People are choosy about what they want to walk to, however. Many buyers identify a nearby Starbucks (by name) as one reason to purchase a home in a particular neighborhood and are willing to pay more for them. The other top pick: parks.
  2. Close to transit and highways– Many homebuyers don’t want to spend hours commuting to work and back. Gen X and Gen Y buyers, in particular, will often forgo a 3500-square-foot home in the suburbs for an 1800-square-foot property located downtown. These groups place their priorities in the ability to live closer to work, and social and cultural attractions.
  3. Schools – Homebuyers with school age children will always prefer a location close to schools, preferably in a reputable school district. On the other hand, some home’s values may decline if they are located too close to a school.
  4. Public image – Properties located in popular, prestigious, or historic locales are often valued highly because of their perceived status or reputation.
  5. Safe neighborhood – People want to live where there’s little or no crime. Naturally, they want to feel safe in their homes and will pay extra for it. A safe neighborhood means people will feel free to walk around, be outdoors and interact with their neighbors. Communities still exist today where people don’t lock their doors, and they know their neighbors are there for them in a heartbeat.

All these things matter when you’re considering the location of a home for sale. But never lose sight of what matters most to you about the location.

Also, when you buy a home, you should always think like a future seller.

We have successfully sold over a billion dollars worth of real estate. It is our strongest desire to make your real estate experience with us positive and ultimately, successful. Contact us if you have any questions.

 

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How To Get Your Dream Home, Even If It Is Not Listed.

Have you ever driven through a neighbourhood and suddenly seen a home that you have fallen in love with? But as luck would have it, the home is not for sale.

While the majority of us drive away, feeling sad, there are others who are determined to make that home theirs, whether it is for sale or not.

And often, with the help of the right real estate advisor, they will do just that!

For a real estate professional, this is equivalent to a sales “cold call” – the clients point out the home they like, and the realtor plays a sort of matchmaker, contacting the homeowners to see if they are willing to sell.

While some owners will not even consider a sale, there are others who may, if they get the right incentive – price! The idea of selling the home may have been discussed, but the process had not been started. There could also be a chance that the home may have been on the market previously.

So if you are interested in a home that has not been put on the market, this is what you can do:

  1. Do a thorough research on the property and the owner. Public records, real estate listings of houses in the neighbourhood, or even old real estate listings in the area can give you a decent idea of the value.
  2.  If you decide you’re serious about approaching the owner, your best bet is to ask your realtor to do so on your behalf. It will show the owner you’re seriously interested. A good idea would be to send to the owner, via your realtor, a handwritten letter, expressing why you’re interested. It will help personalize the process.
  3. If the owner shows interest in selling, work fast to make the deal before he/she changes his/her mind.

Remember you may end up paying more than the market price if the house isn’t officially up for sale. It has to be a home that has left a lasting impression on you if you decide to buy.

Are you interested in buying a home? Please contact us. We can advise you on a property purchase or a valuation. Our experienced Real Estate professionals have a wealth of knowledge and experience in these fields.

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How You Can Help Your Agent Sell Your Home More Quickly

Your real estate advisor works passionately to ensure that your home is sold for the best possible price in the least possible time. However, you as the seller, have a very important role to play – you have to prepare your home for the sale as your agent cannot do this for you.

Your real estate professional will tell you that you have only one chance to make a first impression. According to popular real estate surveys, more than 60% of buyers know that the property is for them, the minute they walk in the door. 

You have to make sure that considerable effort is put into making that first impression a favorable one.  

So what can you do? Simple basic things such as: 

  • Make sure you cut the lawn and remove the leaves and debris near the front door.
  • If your front door looks slightly old and worn, give it a fresh coat of paint that is color coordinated with the trim.
  • De-clutter the foyer and make it a “grand” entrance.
  • Placing a mirror over a hall table reflects light and gives your entrance a finished look.
  • Remove excess furniture and clutter from the living room.
  • Use neutral paint colors in the common areas and brighten dark corners.
  • Kitchens are instrumental in deciding whether your home will be sold or not – update your appliances. If you can’t, then make a good first impression with uncluttered, neat and sparkling clean counters.
  • In the bathroom, new fluffy towels and accessories may help visitors overlook the dated vanity. 

Obviously there is much more you can do than this, but these are tips that generally work. While your home is being listed, always make sure that it is kept clean and tidy. Your real estate professional will do his/her best in trying to sell your home and you need to do your part to ensure this is made possible.

 

We’re not in the real-estate business – we’re in the experience business. Allow us to help change the quality and direction of your life. Contact us is you have any real estate related inquiries.

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Why Your Renovation Should Be Structural and Not Cosmetic.

Whenever someone talks about a renovation, typically images of hardwood floors and granite countertops are conjured up. But according to many home improvement experts, you should be more concerned about renovating the structure of your home than the style.

 

If you have the following problems outlined below, you should be directing your renovation dollars towards them rather than finishing the basement or adding a sunroom, as these problems could eventually escalate into major headaches. 

Leaking basement: Never ignore leaks, even the smallest ones. If water is getting in from the outside you have a potential disaster in the making. By stopping the leaks, fixing any cracks in the foundation, and properly insulating the basement, you will be conquering the “damp basement syndrome.” 

Sagging roof: Your roof repair should be first and foremost of any repair work undertaken in your home. Look for signs of cracked and worn shingles, sagging areas, mold or rot. If your roof is in need of repair, don’t cut corners with a cheap fix. Use a reputable company that will give you a solid warranty. Remember a well repaired and maintained roof will add value to your home. 

Heat loss:  Any renovation that improves the energy efficiency of your home is a worthwhile investment. Greening your home can also make your home very attractive when selling. You can also recover a large part of your investment with the energy savings.  An energy efficient home guarantees low utility bills.  

So if you have some money saved for a renovation or remodel, direct these dollars towards important repairs – granite countertops can wait! 

Do you have any property related issues? Please contact us. We can advise you on a property purchase/sale, a valuation or even a renovation. Our real estate professionals are always ready to help or advise you. 

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Here’s Some Real Estate Trivia You May Find Useful and Interesting!

  1. The square footage of a house is measured from the outside walls of the house and only includes living area that is above grade. Some realtors may list the square footage of the entire house – both above and below grade – by using terms like “total finished living area”.
  2. CMHC stands for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and is a Government of Canada organization to assist with the purchase of homes and the repair of existing homes.
  3. The definition of “first time buyer” according to CMHC – which allows you to buy with 5% down – has been expanded to include purchasers who have been relocated for job reasons, purchasers who have either split with a spouse or ended a joint family ownership.
  4. A bathroom with a door to the master bedroom as well as a door to the main house is called a “semi-ensuite”.
  5. Amortization is the process of paying off the principal of a loan in incremental payments that gradually chip away at the principal.
  6. A Lis Pendens is a notice that is recorded on the title of a property in the land registry office that says that there is pending court action involving the property
  7. MLS is a trademark – just like Tim Hortons. Only real estate boards are licenced to use the MLS trademark. Nobody else can.
  8. An “SPP” offer is part of the term used by real estate agents to refer to an offer that is conditional upon the sale of the purchaser’s property.
  9. Most SPP offers have an “escape clause” which allows another offer to bump the SPP offer. On the other hand, an SPP offer does not necessarily have to have an escape clause if all parties to the transaction agree.
  10. Negligent Misrepresentation – If a realtor innocently misrepresents the facts about a property and should have known the true facts – based upon his assumed expertise – then that realtor can be sued and held liable for the error.
  11. When shopping for a house, getting pre-approved for a loan is ideal. Although pre-qualification is free, it’s very unofficial and often unreliable. Pre-approval means a lender has looked into your credit and financial situation more closely and will make you look like a serious buyer to the seller.
  12. It is legal for a real estate company to have a fixed commission policy for it’s sales people, but it is illegal for real estate companies to get together with other real estate companies to set fixed commission rates. This violates the Competition Act.

To learn more about Virani Real Estate Advisors or to discuss the purchase or sale of a property, fill out this  form, visit one of our offices, or call 604-913-1000.

 

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The “Fixer-Upper” May Not Be The Bargain It Promises To Be.

 TV shows that magically transform a run down home into a sparkling jewel are all the rage today. In half an hour you will see a home that was once a run down piece of junk, blossom into a much-desired dream home. But unless you are aware of exactly what is involved in transforming the property, you could be in for a rude awakening. 

The discounted price of a fixer-upper in a good neighborhood is a very attractive prospect, especially for young first time buyers who have a lot of ideas, energy and spare money from the money they have potentially saved.

Many times, these buyers have no idea what the repairs will cost.  What may look like a home in need of cosmetic work may actually require major repairs to the roof, expensive electrical and plumbing upgrades, and possibly even some structural work.

If you are one of the few that has the means and ability to do much of the repair work yourself, then the purchase makes sense, but how many of us have the time to do this, especially with our busy careers and family? Do you want to spend your precious week-ends and spare time working on your home?

A home like this is only a bargain if you can do much of the work yourself and are aware of the process that is required to make the home your dream home. So, no matter how tempting the purchase price may be, you must decide whether you want to spend the next few years slaving away on a project that may require more resources than you imagined, or spend the extra money and buy a home you can comfortably live in on the onset.

Do you have any property related issues? Please contact us. We can advise you on a property purchase, a valuation or even a renovation. Our experienced Real Estate professionals are keen to impart their knowledge and expertise.

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Why School Districts Matter to Many Buyers and Sellers in the Real Estate Market.

Did you know that homes in good school districts are more desirable and fetch higher prices than homes in lower tiered school districts? Recently, realtor.com did a survey of around 1,000 prospective home buyers, and made the following observations: 

  • Over 90% of the prospective buyers considered school district boundaries as an important factor in their search for a new home.
  • 20% would pay 6-10 percent above their budget for a better school district.
  • 10% would pay up to 20 percent above budget.
  • 20% would give up at least a bedroom or a garage to live in a better school district.
  • Over 30% said that they would downsize to a smaller home if the school in the area were better. 

Advantages:

  • Homes in good school districts usually maintain their value even in a soft real estate market. You will have a better chance of selling your home if it’s near good schools.
  • A good school is a major factor that helps define a neighborhood as a good location.
  • For families, buying into a good school district can save the cost of private school tuition. 

Disadvantages:

  • Homes in better school districts tend to be more expensive.
  • Property taxes may be higher and much of that money will be allotted right back to the school. 

If the house you plan to sell is located in a highly coveted school district, do everything in your power to highlight that fact in all of your real estate marketing materials. Many potential buyers are the parents of children currently in the school system, so be sure to get the word out among neighbors and local friends.

 

Thinking of listing your home? We have been in the real estate business for over 25 years and have successfully sold hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate. Contact us if you have any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

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