November 26, 2014
Should You Repair or Replace When Preparing to Sell: Part I
When getting your house ready to show, you may not know how to handle fixing certain issues. If you have something like a faulty dishwasher or a drafty door, should you repair or outright replace these components? Which is more cost-effective?
Here are some guidelines to help you decide whether you should have something fixed or replaced completely.
If you are having problems with a refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, dryer or anything similar, look up its “symptoms” online. Many of these issues can be handled yourself or repaired quickly and cheaply.
If the issue seems complex or mysterious, you can always replace the appliance with something newer. The latest appliances are all more efficient, use less energy, have more features and cost less to maintain than older ones. You are better off in terms of added value and overall cost to simply recycle or donate any appliances made eight years ago or longer, especially if they are having problems.
Drafty Doors or Windows
A door or window letting in lots of air can be problematic. As long as the frame or component itself is not warped, you should be able to fix it.
Smaller drafts can usually be taken care of with some weather stripping. There are also doorjamb kits with sweeps that reduce the amount of air flowing underneath. Both of these solutions are relatively cheap.
If the unit is having trouble fitting in its frame, you may still want to try making some adjustments. Doors can be rehung and windows reset in about an hour’s time. Older doors and windows should especially be held on to. Old-growth timbers will last longer and require less maintenance than newer components.
If the door itself is completely out of line or the window frame is rotting away, you may wish to take the plunge and have them replaced. Be sure to use insulated models that can handle the temperature differences during the winter.
Toilet Wasting Water
Leaky toilets are a problem, but there is usually no reason to replace the whole fixture. Unless the toilet itself is cracked or you simply do not like its appearance, it can be easily fixed.
The hardware that flushes the toilet is usually the culprit when it comes to leaks. These kits can be purchased fairly cheaply. They can be installed in minutes with minimal tools.
An older water-thirty toilet can be converted to a low-flow version as well. These conversion kits cost far less than an entirely new toilet.
With this advice, you will hopefully have a better idea of what needs to be fixed and what needs to be gotten rid of before selling your home. We will be covering even more solutions in part II.
To get even more sound advice for selling your UBC real estate property, you should take a look at our seller's page. We can tell you the worthwhile investments to make that add value to your home.
November 24, 2014
To Maximize Curb Appeal, Avoid These Four Common Mistakes
Having curb-appeal savvy involves knowing which tactics to steer away from, in addition to the ones to use. Since curb appeal can be one of the most important factors in generating and keeping interest for a listing, you will want to be at the top of your game. To help keep your home looking great from the moment people drive up, avoid these tendencies.
While clutter can be more pronounced when it is indoors, a couple of stray objects or neglected details can keep the front view of your house from looking pristine.
- Hide all lawn care tools and kid’s outdoor toys from sight.
- Reduce the amount of lawn art to a bare minimum.
- Rake up any stray mulch or leaves that can make a yard or landscaping look patchier than it actually is.
Try Not to Park in the Driveway
A factor that many people do not consider is parking their car in the driveway. This tendency can send the message to home buyers that there is not enough storage in the house, so you have a full garage.
Even if this is not the case, park the car in the garage or on the street if possible to give buyers an uncompromised view of the front entryways. Definitely avoid having your vehicle in the online listing photos. It can be very distracting and change the buyer’s overall impression.
Match the Neighborhood
You will want to emphasize your house’s unique selling points. Being too unique can be a detriment. Look to your neighbors to help influence landscaping or exterior design decisions.
For instance, do not be the only person in the neighborhood with a birdbath in their front lawn. Use a similar mulch material as your neighbors if you can to maintain a neighborhood feel.
Total conformity is not necessary, but UBC homes for sale should have a consistent look with their neighbors in an eye pleasing way. Otherwise, buyers may only focus on the “eclectic” parts as opposed to the generally positive aspects with a universal appeal.
Plant for the Season
Summer may be over for now, but that is no excuse to have dead vegetation making up most of your landscape. Cut away any dead plants and find seasonally appropriate plants that thrive even in the coldest weather.
Evergreen saplings, for example can be arranged to make a hedge that will be visible even through the snow. Berry-producing bushes like the American Dwarf Cranberry or Canada Holly look bright, cheery and red amidst a snowy white backdrop.
With care and attention to detail, your home will look beautiful in photos and in person. For more advice on the do’s and don’ts of selling your home, take a look at our seller’s page
November 20, 2014
Maintenance Tips That Help Keep Your Home Warm
Since winter is fast approaching, performing some maintenance that insulates your home and prevents drafts would be wise. These tasks help preserve the value of your home. These easy fixes offer buyers a cozy temperature when touring your house.
Here are some of the best ways to ensure that your home’s heat does not simply fly out the windows:
Ensure a Tight Envelope
Your home’s building envelope consists of your exterior walls, doors, windows, your roof and anything else that makes the structure an enclosed space. When your home ages, it develops tiny cracks and fissures on its exterior, weakening the envelope.
To help abate this process, inspect your home and try and find areas where there are small cracks. Pay close attention to joints in the siding, window trim and soffit. Any cracks you find should be caulked with a product designed for exterior use, preferably made from a durable material like silicone or synthetic rubber.
Add Weather Stripping to Doors and Windows
A roll of weather stripping is inexpensive and can save you a bundle. Try to select a color and size that compliments the look of your trim rather than one that is clearly noticeable. The rubber variety also looks better, lasts longer and offers a tighter seal than the foam-backed adhesive type.
Your door’s threshold could also be revamped to provide a better seal. Some thresholds have sealing gaskets or brushes to help lock out drafts below the door.
Invest in Insulated Windows
Older homes have single-paned windows. Because these windows can rapidly exchange heat with the outside, they are responsible for up to 30 percent of home heating losses.
Consider swapping out these windows for newer, insulated models. They will have multiple panes with gas trapped in between that helps regulate temperature changes. The result is less escaping heat and less condensation on your windows, which can lead to mold growth.
If you do not wish to purchase insulated windows, you can achieve a similar effect by covering your windows in insulating plastic. Keep in mind, this will not look attractive to buyers and may actually hurt your home’s value.
Inspect Your Attic Insulation
Since heat rises through your home, your attic will be a prime spot for heat exchange. Go up into your attic or crawlspace and evaluate the state of your insulation there. If it looks old or sparse, you should invest in having new attic insulation installed.
Blown-in cellulose insulation provides the best heat retention while sealing in all the tiny cracks and crevices.
When you take the time to perform these tasks, your home will stay warmer and your energy bills will stay lower. You can tout these benefits to people when you resell, as well as enjoy them yourself.
For more advice on how to maintain your UBC real estate property, hold its value and add appeal to buyers, you can consult one of our highly-experienced real estate agents. Take a look at our seller’s page to learn more.
November 17, 2014
Comparing Space Heating Methods for Staying Warm This Winter
If you are worried about your home’s ability to keep out the chill, you may want to invest in a new heating device. Depending on the type you choose, you can save money on energy bills and add value to your UBC real estate property during a resale.
Here are the most popular space heating methods, along with pros and cons of each:
Portable Space Heaters
A space heater can keep a section of your house warm without having to turn up the central heat. These products plug directly into the wall and begin producing heat within minutes.
There are two common varieties: heated element and oil-filled. Element heaters have a direct heat that can be felt on the body. Oil heaters create ambient heat that fills a whole room.
- Produces heat relatively quickly
- Having a direct heat source poses the risk of touching the element or radiant heater.
- Heat dissipates quickly once device is turned off
- Not useful for large areas
- Expensive to operate because they consume a lot of electricity
- Impermanent, so no added value
Baseboard Floor Heaters
A baseboard floor heater operates identically to a portable space heater, including the fact that there are both electric element and oil-filled varieties. They are glued, nailed or screwed to your flooring and arranged around the perimeter of the room. Usually, a thermostat or switch is connected to operate them.
- Permanently fixed and can be wired to thermostat.
- Provides constant heat that drifts upwards
- Warms up quickly
- Similar to portable heaters, they pose a risk of contact burns and they consume a lot of energy
- Furniture must be arranged to not cover or make contact with the devices
Free Standing Stoves and Fireplaces
Used since colonial times, these devices are excellent at getting an entire section of a house comfortingly toasty. They can be fueled either by wood, wood pellets or a gas fuel line.
A fireplace operates almost identically, only it does not radiate its heat throughout the house as effectively as a free-standing stove.
- Abundant, constant heat that warms both the air and people.
- Fuel can be relatively cheap compared to central heating costs.
- Easy to maintain
- Expensive up-front costs and installation
- Can pose dangers from contact
- Fuel source must be readily available, which can mean chopping and stacking wood or having a supply of pellets
- Fumes must be properly exhausted to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
All of these methods can keep a high-use spot in your house nice and warm without having to crank up the central heat. Which method you choose depends on your personal needs and aesthetic sensibilities.
For more advice on adding value to your home with cozy heating amenities, you can consult one of our expert real estate agents. Take a look at our sellers page to find out more.
November 10, 2014
Choosing the Condo That is Right For You
When looking for a condo, establishing your own set of criteria is important. You want to buy the best property for the money while avoiding unwanted hassles. Here are some aspects to consider when looking at the various UBC condos for sale.
Condominiums have become increasingly popular because of their proximity to workplaces and businesses. Make sure you take advantage of this convenience by selecting a property that is near your job, or near public transit you can use to commute.
Picking a condominium that is off the beaten path may seem like a good idea for avoiding the bustle of an urban setting, but you will miss out on one of the biggest benefits condos can offer. Only choose a condo that is distant from major hotspots if your love for the building severely outweighs its location.
Condos come in a large variety of sizes and shapes. The type of condo you choose can affect how your furniture will be arranged, and consequently how your living space will feel.
Try to choose a condo that matches your size needs almost exactly. Something too big for your needs will result in extra costs that may not be beneficial to you. A condo that is too small or cramped can become unpleasant over the years.
Remember to ask if there are differences between the units when looking at a complex. Condos on different floors or sides of the building may have completely different square footage and floor plans.
The Owner’s Association
When you buy a condo, you are entering into cooperative ownership of the building, not just single ownership of a unit. Understanding how your relationship will be with the condo owners association is important for predicting your enjoyment of your property.
Meet with as many of your future board members and neighbors as possible to get an idea of the relationship between the association and others in the building. You should also carefully review your owner’s agreement to understand any rules you will have to follow and fees you will have to pay.
Consider Amenities Last
Many condo buildings have tempting amenities such as pools, private gyms and clubhouses. While these are enticing, unless they are providing you with a service you would have been paying for anyway, you may want to reconsider them being a major factor in your decision.
Make sure that the unit in the building meets your basic criteria before adding any perks or amenities to your list of positives. Remember that you will be paying for these services as part of your association dues. If you do not think you will use them, they should be lower on your list of priorities.
With enough careful deliberation, there is no doubt that you will be able to find a condo you love in UBC. Take a look at our property listings to see the types of units we have available.
November 6, 2014
Four Documents You Will Want to Look at Before Buying a Condo
While a home owner’s ability to document their own upkeep and expenditures will vary wildly, condo buildings are required by law to document nearly everything. All of these records provide a handy reference point when buying a condo. After all, you will not have to ask the previous owner as many questions if the answers are all printed out for you.
Here are some important documents to take a look at before making a bid on a condominium unit:
The Audited Financial Reports
The recorded budgets will be able to tell a detailed story. You will see any major projects or repairs undergone in the past few years. You will also find any unexpected expenditures that likely would have to be paid out-of-pocket with special levies. Carefully evaluate the association’s ability to anticipate costs and keep its budget balanced.
The Depreciation Reports
Known as a “reserve fund study” in most other provinces, depreciation reports are a mandatory process for condo buildings to undergo every three years. A depreciation report will outline:
- The age and condition for all components of the building’s common elements
- The future cost of repair or replacement for each of these components
- A proposed plan for financing these costs into the future
These three assessments will help you determine how prepared the condo association is to cover their costs for maintenance. You can also see how diligently they held to the depreciation consultant’s financing suggestions when you compare the depreciation report to the finance statements.
Ideally, the condo association will have ample money in its reserve fund to pay for building costs well into the future. Otherwise, you could see problems should any unprepared-for expenses arrive.
The Board Meeting’s Minutes
In these documents you will find out how the condo association conducts the majority of its business. They will show the regular topics of discussion, as well as how the association deals with complications. The minutes will hopefully reveal that the board’s proceedings are civil, prudent and efficient at resolving problems.
The Declaration of Policy
Spare yourself the shorthand version and take a look at the condo association’s official declaration of policy. Here you will find all of the rules and bylaws governing your ownership of any units. You will be able to find out the answer to questions like:
- Can I have pets?
- How many people are allowed to stay in my unit?
- Am I allowed to rent my unit out?
- What renovations am I allowed to make?
If you are unsure how some of the rules will play out, ask a board member. You might consider consulting a real estate attorney to look over the rules and decipher how they might affect your intended use of the property.
With these documents in hand, you will be more confident when deciding between the UBC condos for sale. For more advice on buying a condo or any property in the UBC area, take a look at our buyer’s page.
November 3, 2014
Owner Responsibilities for Condo Maintenance Explained
Condo owners love the fact that their maintenance costs are brought down to a minimum. Instead of being in charge of upkeep for the whole building, each unit owner simply pays a modest fee to the condo association every month. The majority of aspects they are personally responsible for maintaining lie within the four walls of their unit.
Understanding what separates your responsibilities from the condo associations is important, though. While each owner agreement is different, the condominium buildings are usually broken down into three main elements:
- Common elements
- Limited common elements
A common element is any part of the building used by all of the unit owners. Examples include:
- The roof
- Mechanical systems like elevators or central air
- The building’s entrance
Features such as these will be handled directly by the condo association. They will have scheduled maintenance for each one. They will contract any necessary repairs or replacements on the residents’ behalf.
Units are the actual part of the building that each resident owns. A unit is defined as the sum of elements that only benefit that particular owner. Inside of the units, nearly everything is the owner’s responsibility, including:
- Wall materials like drywall, plaster or wallpaper
- Windows and frames
Materials and components such as these must be maintained or replaced by the owner at their own discretion.
Some condos have rules governing types of renovations you can perform or certain standards you must uphold. Outside of these stipulations, nearly anything you say concerning your property goes.
Limited Common Elements
These components are where ownership gets tricky. Limited common elements are defined as aspects existing outside of the owner’s unit that are exclusively used by that one owner or a small group of owners.
The types of components that make up limited common elements vary according to the condo association’s declaration, but they generally include:
- Porches and awnings
- Driveways leading to one unit
Owners benefitting from limited common elements may share a more direct financial burden for these aspects. Even so, the condo association will still take care of all the maintenance and care for limited common elements. The association must also obtain the owner’s permission before entering their unit or setting foot on their exclusive property to repair or evaluate limited common elements.
Fully understanding who is responsible for what requires careful examination of your condo’s owner’s agreement. A board member of the condo association will gladly answer any questions you may have in most cases.
To learn more about the life for condo owners, take a look at our buyer’s page. We can assist you in interpreting typical owner agreements and comparing terms to other UBC condos for sale in the area.
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