The Value of Home Improvement

home improvements - kitchen dining roomMost home owners have to consider home improvements at some point. Your real estate goals can influence those decisions as you consider what’s worth the investment. If you are planning to sell your home, you may consider different options than if you are planning for long term comfort. If you plan to resell, your goal will be to increase the monetary value and if you plan to stay in your home long term, you may be more focused on improving functionality and comfort.
Of course you’ll want to increase the monetary value of your home, but for those planning to sell sooner than later,  it’s important to note that the listing price or your home will be based on local market conditions, not on how much you have spent on improvements. If you are able to do some improvements yourself, you can save some money on labour costs as investing dollars into your home may not translate directly to dollars out. At the time that you list your home, the price will be based on similar homes with similar features.
Kitchens and bathrooms are often rooms that carry more weight in the decision making of buying a home. For this reason, if your goal is to resell your home, you’ll want those improvements to be easily recognized during the home showing. New appliances, modern back splashes, flooring, and fixtures will draw more attention to a prospective buyer than functional things like the plumbing under the sink or the new hot water tank. Maintaining the exterior of your home is also a good investment for those looking for improvements that will help to sell their home.
For those planning to stay in their home, the renovation list will be more personalized, however it’s still a good idea to consider lasting value in your plans. Not everyone needs room for a pool table, or wants the cost of maintaining a hot tub, however improving your home efficiency, ease of function, and storage options are investments that will add long term comfort and retain value over time.
If you’re considering listing your home for sale, give us a call. We’d be happy to make recommendations that will help you maximize the return on your home investment.

Listing Your Home

 

If at First You Don’t Succeed
You’ve listed your home on the market and the listing agreement has expired, so now what do you do? Not every real estate deal goes through, and there are a variety of reasons. If your house hasn’t sold, it’s important to stand back and get an objective opinion. Was the lack of sale due to your home or the market? Was it the real estate agent you chose to represent you? As you reflect on the time your home was on the market, we recommend reviewing the process and asking yourself some questions.

Choosing the Right Agent: Was the agent someone you knew? Were they referred to you by someone you know and trust? What is their professional track record? Were there reviews available? Did they communicate with you during the process? Did you feel that they represented your best interests? Are they current in their approach? When people who viewed your home weren’t interested, did your real estate agent offer constructive feedback? As you consider the answers to these questions, decide whether or not you want to list with a different agent. It’s okay to ask them what their strategy will be, and what methods they plan to use. At Urban Realty Group we provide prompt responses to your questions, keeping you up to date, and work hard to bring qualified buyers to view your property.

Was it your home? Every buyer has a different vision of the perfect purchase, so it’s impossible to please everyone. However, there are ways to make your home more attractive to buyers and that has everything to do with preparation. Whether it’s taking photos to list your home or preparing for a personal viewing, making the time to properly prepare your home is the only way to make a lasting positive impression. Go through your home room by room and ask yourself these questions. Are repairs needed? Is it clean and tidy? Are the best features of the room noticeable? Is it clean and inviting? What is the ambiance? Does it feel comfortable? Are you inspired? If you’re serious about selling your home, turn the answers to these questions into a room by room to do list and commit to getting them completed. Our team can provide you with helpful tips on getting the most value for your home.

Was it the ambiance? Maybe you lost a little enthusiasm after preparing for the first showings with no result. Don’t be discouraged. Make a pre-showing to do list that can include things like snow removal, turning on lights, adjusting the temperature, opening the curtains, and taking out the trash.  Have a couple of empty laundry baskets ready to remove clutter at a moment’s notice and a place to store them where they’ll be temporarily out of sight. Try to create an ambiance that communicates a feeling of optimism as you move from room to room.

Was it the price? It’s natural to want to make the most  on your investment, and pricing to high or too low can prevent homes from selling. Pricing that’s inflated by circumstances or sentimental value will not move. Pricing that’s deflated in hopes of a quick sale can have the opposite effect and cause feelings of suspicion or trepidation. Consider that the best price is one that reflects what the current market will bear for homes of similar size with similar features in a similar condition, regardless of what you originally paid for your home, or how much your renovations cost. We understand the Whitehorse real estate market and can help you price your home for the most realistic outcome.

Our team knows the Whitehorse real estate market and can help you price your home to offer the best returns for the current market conditions. We have excellent track records, are great communicators, and take our commitment seriously. We offer a proven sales strategy that gets results. While we can’t guarantee the sale of your home, we can guarantee that we have your best interests in mind in all of our recommendations. Customer service is our top priority. Give us a call, we’d love to go to work for you!

Making a Fresh Impression

The smell of your pet shouldn’t be the first impression a potential buyer gets when viewing your home. Don’t feel badly, even the most conscientious housekeeper can find it challenging to stay ahead of pet odours. After all, they’re members of the family and they love being part of the daily scene, jumping up on the bed, curling up on the couch to watch Netflix, and laying in all of their favourite places (and yours). Here are a few tips that we found on line for handling pet odours and destructive habits that will help you make the most of your home’s chance to make a fresh impression.

1. If your cat has a habit of peeing in the house, avoid disinfectants that have an ammonia base, as the smell resembles urine and could just encourage more of the same unwelcome habits. If you have more than one cat, they may be declaring their individuality and therefore pee in separate places. Try adding a second litter box and see if that helps. Enzyme cleaners are a great option because they can dissolve the proteins that cause the stains and get rid of the odours.

2. Cats scratching the furniture or wallpaper is another kind of pet damage that can be very frustrating. If you consider that they do this because they are maintaining their claws and showing their territory it can help to identify a solution. We read that if you add a scratching post directly in front of the damaged area and run their paws down the surface to add their scent to it, they are more likely to return to it. There are also scratch deterrent sprays that may help them keep their paws off.

3. Don’t forget to clean your vacuum cleaner. All of that fur and pet dander that passes through your vacuum cleaner has an odour, so when you turn on your machine you may be recirculating the very smells you’re trying to get rid of. Consider adding an air purifier (or two) with a HEPA filter to freshen the air and remove odours.

4. The floor and the dog bed might be the most obvious harbours for pet smells, but even furniture can absorb smells and can be a little more challenging to clean. For preventative measures, consider using furniture covers that are easier to wash. Also, adding a quarter cup of vinegar to the washing machine when washing bedding and throws can help to get rid of odours.

5. Gather up those hard plastic chew toys and run them through a dishwasher cycle or wash them in the sink.

6. Make your own deodorizer by adding essential oils to vinegar and apply them with a spray bottle. Note that there are some oils that are okay to use around dogs but not for cats. Here’s a list of “Dos for Dogs” Another version of this remedy is dissolving a 1/4 cup of baking soda into a spray bottle of water and spraying surfaces with that.

7. Don’t forget to wash the dog. 🙂

We hope that there are some useful tips here, and that the very first impression of your home is “I want it!”. We can make recommendations for all stages of getting your home ready to sell. We’d love to help, so give us a call.

Common Real Estate Terms for First Time Home Buyers

Like all industries, buying and selling real estate has it’s own unique lingo, that might not be obvious to first time home buyers. Here’s a list of some common terms that you will likely hear if you’re considering buying a home. If you have questions, we’re here to help so feel free to give us a call.
Terms about Representation:
  • Brokerage: This is a term used to describe the real estate company, under which individual real estate agents are licensed.
  • REALTORS® : Only a person who is a licensed real estate professionals AND who is a member of a local real estate board AND a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) can legally apply this term to the services they offer.
  • Multiple Listing Service® ( or MLS®) : This is a selling system available to REALTORS® to provide access to information about properties for sale. These listings have a cooperative format and lets a person know which real estate agent holds the contract for selling the property. When you list your property with a real estate agent, other agents also know that your property is for sale and can suggest it to their clients if it looks like a match for them. Similarly, your agent will know about properties available as soon as they are listed and can let you know about opportunities.
Terms About Market Conditions:
  • Housing Starts: This is the number of new houses on which construction has been started in a given period, and serves as a measurement of how active or healthy an economy is. Typically construction projects indicate that employment is available, people are getting paid, and redistributing their income in the community to meet their monthly needs. It also means that there is a demand for housing, and that people are interested in buying new homes.
  • Seller’s Market:  A housing market will be described as a “sellers’ market” when there is a high demand for homes and there are 20% more people looking to buy than than there are active listings. By dividing the number of listings by the number of sales in a given month, gives you a number that is called the MOI or months of inventory. If there are 4 months of inventory or less, it’s considered a sellers market.
  • Buyers Market: This is the opposite condition, when the number of active listings exceeds the number of individuals looking to purchase real estate. If the months of inventory is 6 months more it’s considered to be a buyers market.
  • Balanced Market: This occurs when the ratio between the number of houses sold and the number of active listings is between 14 and 20%. In this market condition, there are 4-6 months of inventory and the prices for houses is stable. That’s because there is not a high demand for homes to move prices up, nor is there a disproportionately high number of listings for buyers to choose from to move prices down.
Terms for Borrowers:
  • Gross Debt Service Ratio: This is a calculation that’s used to determine whether a home is affordable to the person applying for a mortgage. Typically a lender will look at the gross monthly income, and determine that there is not more than 32% being used to pay housing related costs such as mortgage payments, strata fees, pad rental, or heating costs.
  • Mortgage Insurer: Homes that have more than 80% of their value owed to lenders are considered to be holding a high ratio mortgage. Mortgages require insurance against default either privately or through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which is paid for by whoever is borrowing the money and protects the lender from loss.
  • Closing Costs: These are expenses over and above the purchasing price for buying or selling a property. These can include such things as legal fees, inspections, or transfer taxes.
Terms for Sellers:
  • Home Equity: This is basically the profit you would make from selling your home, calculated as the difference between the price it could sell for, and the amount that may still be owing.
  • Listing Agreement: This is the term that describes the contract between the listing broker and the owner of the home which gives authorization to the REALTOR® to act on the owners behalf to sell the property.
  • Title Search: This is detailed documentation that proves legal ownership, and lists any liens or other encumbrances on the property such as unpaid property taxes.
  • Mortgage Prepayment Penalty: When you sell your home, you may be considering paying off your existing mortgage agreement. Depending on the lender’s conditions, there may be a fee for paying it out ahead of the agreed schedule so be sure to read the conditions before making a decision.

Cigarette Smoke Could Affect The Sale of Your Home

hand holding burning cigaretteA few years ago, a group called the Clean Air Coalition was formed, and decided to declare the month of June to be Smoke Free Multi-Unit Housing Month. This coalition is a partnership between the BC Lung Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation BC & Yukon with the goal of raising awareness about the harmful effects of second hand smoke. These days people are generally pretty conscientious about this, and awareness has certainly increased substantially from a decade ago. But what about smoking in your own home? The goal of this coalition would like to see all multi-unit housing become smoke free. The Federal Government is also considering banning smoking in shared housing such as condos and apartment buildings. While this initiative is being debated more strongly in some provinces than others, it’s something to think about regardless of which province or territory you call home. Here are a few issues the coalition have identified and changes they are working toward.

The health risks of second hand cigarette smoke have been well researched. With more people living in apartments, condos, and other forms of shared housing, drifting cigarette smoke from a neighbouring unit can cause health concerns, especially in children. So the concern is that even though the neighbours in Unit A are non-smokers, they are still affected by the second hand smoke of their neighbours in Unit B. So whose rights should be legally defended, the right to clean air for the people living in Unit A, or the rights of the people in Unit B to pursue lawful activities in the privacy of their home?

The coalition is also asking that buildings be given a smoking status. If landlords and strata corporations were required to provide tenants or buyers with a building’s smoking status, people would know where the smoking units were located before they moved in and they could be spaced or grouped accordingly.

For new strata properties, some proposed changes would include possible amendments to legislation requiring that all new shared housing buildings be smoke free, unless owners pass a 3/4 vote to allow smoking. Incentives to this end could include lower insurance, or possible tax credits.

Stale smoke odours can be a real turn off for non-smoking buyers. Smoking can reduce the resale value of a property by as much as 29% according to a 2013 survey published by CBC, Smoke particulates are so small they can cling to any surface including wall surfaces, carpets, and furniture. Before you spray air fresheners, read this blog post, which offers some helpful tips for getting the smoke smell out of your home in preparation to sell.

If you’re considering selling you home, talk to our Urban Realty Group. We can provide you with more tips to get your home clean, staged, and ready for market. Let’s get started!

Buying Your Dream Home

You’ve been waiting for the opportunity for a long time, and now the goal of buying your dream home is finally within reach. One thing you may not have been expecting is the number of other buyers in the market searching for their dream home as well. The Urban Realty Group team knows the Whitehorse opportunities and the market. After spending time getting to know what defines your dream home, we can help you find it, despite competition. We’re here to help!

Step 1: Get Pre-Approved
Going through the mortgage application process ensures that you are shopping in your price range. Have a pre-approved status is more effective than having a pre-qualified status. It’s the next best thing to carrying around a hockey bag of cash and lets potential sellers know you’re ready to talk details.

Step 2: Be First
As real estate brokers we can let you know as soon as new listings are available, even before they’re advertised. Timing can play a crucial role in getting the home you’ve always dreamed of. It’s your future home, so be sure to use all of the resources available to you.

Step 3: Be Informed
The best way to know what kind of house your money will buy is to check out the local properties in the area that you want to buy to see for yourself which places have the hottest market. Gain an understanding of the price points in your preferred area, and note the difference between the asking price and selling price. The Urban Realty Group team can show you comparable properties, shed light on the features that represent the best value, and get you the results you want.

Step 4: Keep it Personal
We take your offer seriously, and will offer it in person to optimize your advantage. By being on the scene, this adds a personal touch to the transaction and can help to answer questions that might otherwise delay things. Compare that to having your offer sitting in the fax machine tray at the office, and you’ll understand why that’s important.

Step 5: Mean Business
One way to get a seller’s attention and prove that you mean business is to include a good faith deposit with your offer. That’s shows that you’re not one to be wasting their time with indecision and can motivate progress of the sale.

Step 6: Keep Cool
If it looks like others are eyeing the same property, keep your cool. While you may have to offer something other than the asking price there are many ways to find an agreement. This can include such things the cost of an inspection, or a different closing date, but you shouldn’t have to pay more than you planned. The Urban Real Estate team are skilled negotiators, and can find creative ways to close the deal, while keeping it clean and simple.

Mortgage Tips For Home Buyers

home mortgage approvedHow you choose to structure your mortgage can save you thousands of dollars, so it’s important to get the right information before you start shopping for one. Whether it’s your first home or the last home you plan to buy, the details of your financing can ensure you’re not paying more than you need it. Here are a few mortage tips to consider before you plan your next move.

  1. Talk to your lender about being pre-approved before you start looking at homes.  Most will require that you complete a detailed credit application, and will provide a certificate that guarantees that your financing is approved. This can ensure that you are shopping within your price range and that you can make offers quickly so that you don’t miss out on time sensitive opportunities.
  2. Be well aware of your monthly budget so that you know what repayment schedule is going to work for your situation. A mortgate is a long term financial commitment and you want to make sure that your payments are a comfortable portion of your monthly income. As a homeowner you’ll need to budget for maintenance as well as the unexpected, so be sure to look beyond just your mortgage payment when deciding on affordability.
  3. Evaluate your long term goals to make sure you choose the kind of mortgate that suits your needs. You may want to think about how long you plan to own this particular home, the direction of interest rates, and the security of your current income.
  4. Understand the terms of your mortgage so that you know what prepayment priviledges are available. By making payments more frequently (weekly or bi-weekly) you can save a considerable amount of interest and pay off your mortgage sooner. Authorized prepayments of a certain percentage of your mortgage or making additional payments can also lower your interest costs. AS not all mortgage products offer these options, be sure to ask questions.
  5. Know what options are available. If a portable mortgage is available, it means that you can take it with you to purchase your next home, instead of paying discharge penalties on your current mortgage. Unless you’re upgrading to more expensive home, a portable mortgage lets you avoid the hassle of requalifying. Another option is having an assumable mortgage, which means it can be taken over by the person buying your home. This can be a desirable negotiating option when it comes time to sell and can mean no discharging fees.

We strongly recommend talking to a professional who specializes in mortgages because the right mortgage tips can make a significant difference to the cost of your mortgage, and the borrowing process. Our team has significant experience and a strong referral network to make sure you get the best mortgage product for your personal situation. Give us a call and let’s talk!

Why Choose Urban Realty Group

urg-fbads-sellersSelling real estate is much like any other professional service that’s offered. It takes time to build a reputation as an agency that will consistently provide great results. One of the ways that has happened for us is through client referrals. People only refer family and friends if they feel confident that the experience will be positive. When we started in 2015, Urban Realty Group was the new name in town, and although there have been real estate sales in Whitehorse as long as there have been properties for sale, we feel that what we bring to our clients is still unique in several important ways.

1. We’re not a nationwide franchise, so the work that we do is within the community of Whitehorse. Housing is vitally important to all communities, but even more so here in the North. We have built relationships with the people who live here because we live here too, and have invested in the community ourselves.

2. We believe that your experience with us as a client begins when you enter our office, give us a call, or send an email. You can expect us to show a keen interest in getting results for you in the shortest timeline possible. We work hard to ensure that we are always available to answer questions because our reputation depends on it.

3. As a smaller agency we have greater flexibility than a national real estate company, so we are able to find creative ways to market your property. We aren’t limited by what works best for the corporation. Like every other agency across Canada, we still have the same access to national MLS listings to meet the needs of our clients.

4. Every home we list has been personally viewed by our team so that we can answer your questions from a first hand experience. We can answer questions about the community of Whitehorse and its neighbourhoods because we know them personally. Some of us have lived here so long we can even tell you where things used to be.

5. Competing for sales is a common environment within franchise agencies and can result in a stressful work environment, and a less personal experience for the client. Our team prefers to work together, and we meet regularly to review and meet the needs of our clients.

The highest compliment we receive is a referral to your family and friends. When friends of friends ask us to help them buy or sell a home here in Whitehorse, we know it’s only because they’ve had a positive experience themselves. It’s very rewarding to know that we are successfully meeting and often exceeding our clients’ expectations. If you want a real estate experience you would want to refer to others, give us a call.

Winter Listings

winter real estate listings

Winter isn’t here yet, but we know it’s on the way. Those who choose to live in Whitehorse expect to see snow, so don’t be worried about putting your home on the market during winter months. There is still an active real estate market in the winter months, and online listings can still provide a great first impression of your home. Here are a few more tips for making the most of your winter listing.

1. Showcasing the outdoor features of your home can be more challenging in winter months so if you’re considering putting your home on the market you can plan ahead by taking photos before any long term weather changes happen. If you’ve done a fabulous job of landscaping your property, it will be hard to appreciate that when your yard is covered in snow.

2. If you have outdoor pets, ensure that they are properly restrained before viewers arrive. Not everyone appreciates the exhuberance of a friendly canine, especially one they’ve never met. If they’re indoor pets, take the time to regularly freshen the areas where they sleep so that odours are kept to a minimum.

3. Make it as easy as possible for people to find and access your home during the winter months. That will mean keeping the walkways and driveway cleared, and minimizing the risks associated with icy conditions. Don’t be disappointed if shoowings have to get rescheduled due to weather conditions.

4. When viewers come to view your home they’ll be coming in from the cold, and dressed for it. You can make the viewing experience more pleasant by lowering your home thermostat an hour before they arrive.

5. Make sure your home is as well lit as possible by turning on all of the lights prior to a showing. First impressions are powerful, and being able to easily move from room to room will create a positive feeling of ease and relaxation.

6. Plan ahead for the indoor traffic flow by placing an absorbant floor mat by the door to protect the flooring in your entry way. Provide an area for people to comfortably remove their boots, and hang up their jackets. You don’t want their first impression to be wet socks and a front closet exploding with hats and scarves.

Ready to list? Our team is ready to get started! Give Urban Realty Group a call and let’s talk about the next steps to selling your home.

Getting Your Home Sold

Kitchen AppliancesOnce you’ve decided to sell and move, take a critical look at your current home. Even the best-maintained homes begin to show age. It’s a joke for those who know it to be true… if you want all of those unfinished renovations and trim jobs to finally be done, just put your house on the market! Making all of the necessary repairs and replacements so the house will look its best will increase the value of your home. Deciding not to do repairs will almost always mean a lower listing price. Here are a few things to check as you consider getting your home ready for the market.

1. Appliances: Do you have modern appliances in the kitchen and laundry room? Are they working properly or will the new owners be likely to look for replacements? Upgrading appliances can be a small investment that will always have an appeal to potential buyers.

2. Modern Features: When your house is on the market, it’s included among many others. To have character is one thing, and to look fresh and appealing is another. Most buyers are looking for a home that’s turn-key and doesn’t show its age. So ask yourself, will those who view your home see modern features or will it feel like they’re going back in time? Could your kitchen use an island? Does the master bedroom ensuite include double shower heads or maybe a soaker tub?

3. Additions: Are there any additions that have happened over the years that have never been part of your home inspection? A deck, sunroom, or maybe a suite for company above the garage? It may be in your best interest to have your home inspected before you try to sell.

4. Aesthetics: Check the feeling of your home; is it warm or worn? Now’s the time to look at the wear and tear on the walls from pets and kids, the carpets, the fence, and all those little trim jobs we mentioned earlier. Completing them will be money well spent if you want your home to make a great first impression.
Selling your home is a mutual effort between a home owner and their real estate agent. By preparing your home for sale you can help your home stand out among other listings. Give us a call and let us do what we do best, introducing Whitehorse home buyers with sellers.