By: Johnson Jeff

So, you’ve decided to sell your home. No matter your reasons for moving, such a big change can be overwhelming. It can seem daunting with everything you need to know. Don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place. Selling your home can be emotional, which is why it helps to have an expert guide you through the process. Your RE/MAX agent has the expertise you need to make it easier to move on, help you get the best price for your home, and offer guidance on things like home staging. So, what is home staging anyway? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Home Staging?

If you think it means putting on an off-Broadway production in your living room, you’re wrong – but you’ve come to the right place to get the right answer! To put it simply, home staging is a way of presenting your home for sale in a way that helps prospective homebuyers to imagine themselves living there. The process usually includes:

1. Depersonalizing your space

Even if you’re really proud of your Taekwondo trophy (as you should be!), if it’s on your mantelpiece, you should pack it away, along with family photos. (Yes, even the ones of the dog.)

2. Decluttering

Though you may not see it, you probably have years’ worth of items on display, such as that coffee table book on origami, your favourite collection of spoons, K-Pop memorabilia, mementos and, well, stuff that can be packed away. You may see it as taking away the home’s personality. Still, it’s actually taking away your personality, allowing buyers to see a blank slate on which they can put their stamp (or stamp collection). Try to think of it as less to pack on a moving day. This is the objective of home staging.

3. Redecorating

Changing out stained or worn furniture, painting, reorganizing, and decorating can help buyers see the value of your home. Worn-out items can distract buyers from looking at the space. This is where a professional home stager is very helpful.

Your real estate agent can advise you on which renovations might help get the best ROI.

Who Pays for Home Staging?

The seller typically covers the cost with the idea that they will recoup the cost (and then some!) at a higher sale price. According to the National Association of Realtors®, a survey by the International Association of Home Staging Professionals revealed that staged homes (with an investment of one percent of the listed price) sell up to 30 percent faster, on average, for 20 percent more. These are the key benefits of home staging. Hmmm… suddenly, it doesn’t seem as sad to put away that picture of Grandma on your nightstand!

How Much Does Home Staging Cost?

This all depends on the degree of staging required. Older homes may need more intensive updates, such as painting, replacing hardware and light fixtures, or renting new furniture. On the other hand, a home that is relatively new and/or updated may only require some simple depersonalizing and decluttering, which costs nothing. Regarding the home staging service, if the seller engages a professional stager, they’ll incur a service fee, which differs by stager. If the seller takes a DIY approach, it’ll cost them some time and sweat equity.

Ready, Set, Move!

When you’re ready to sell your home, consider staging it and consult your RE/MAX agent for advice on selling it faster and for a higher price. Have more questions? RE/MAX has the answers you need.

By: Johnson Jeff

A year ago, housing affordability dominated national conversations as the Canadian real estate market exploded in growth, across major urban centres and rural communities alike.

For the last couple of months, it seems like this discussion has shifted, with affordability taking a back seat given recent moderation in the market following the unprecedented “COVID boom.”

The average price for a home in Canada was sold for about $630,000 in July, recent data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) confirm. This is down five percent from the same time a year ago. When the red-hot markets of Toronto and Vancouver are removed from the equation, the typical price for a residential property falls to roughly $525,000.

Despite the last several months of falling Canadian real estate prices and rising interest rates, why are prices not returning to pre-pandemic levels? Be it a single-family house or a condominium, residential prices remain elevated following their meteoric surge.

Is a Lack of Supply Still Keeping Prices High in the Canadian Real Estate Market?

According to CREA, residential property sales tumbled by 5.3 percent month-over-month in July. This represented the fifth straight monthly decline, with transactions down in three-quarters of all local markets.

With demand and home sales means more supply is coming on stream, or existing inventory is sitting on the market longer. However, that increase in offset by demand from several months ago persists.

“July saw a continuation of the trends we’ve been watching unfold for a few months now; sales winding down and prices easing in some relatively more expensive parts of the country as well as places where prices rose most over the past two years,” said Jill Oudil, Chair of CREA, in a statement. “That said, the demand that was so strong just a few months ago has not gone away, but some buyers will likely stay on the sidelines until they see what happens with borrowing costs and prices.”

So, what about supply? The number of new residential listings tumbled 5.3 percent in July, CREA data found. In addition, months of inventory, which measures the number of months it would take to exhaust current stocks at the present rate of sales activity, surged to 3.4 months by the end of July.

“It’s only one month of data at this point, but it suggests that some sellers are also playing the waiting game, and that is with an overall inventory of homes for sale that is still historically low,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist, in a news release. “The Bank of Canada is also expected to finish up their remaining rate hikes (100 basis points or so) over the next few months, which five-year fixed mortgage rates have mostly already priced in. We’ve already witnessed a sharp housing market adjustment this year, but it will hopefully be short-lived if conditions continue to show signs of stabilizing.”

But new housing construction activity has been robust, increasing by approximately six percent to 22,229 units in July, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). On a year-to-date basis, however, housing starts have slumped more than five percent to 134,684 units.

When it comes to fresh supply being built, it is the major urban centres that have witnessed a decline, the CMHC noted.

“Monthly SAAR housing starts in Canada’s urban areas declined in July, driven by lower single-detached starts. However, Vancouver and Toronto both registered much stronger declines in multi-unit starts than in single-detached starts, while Montreal saw similarly large declines in both unit types,” said Aled Ab Iorwerth, CMHC’s Deputy Chief Economist, in a news release.

While housing stocks are improving, they are still insufficient to keep up with demand.

For example, new listings in the Ontario real estate market advanced 7.2 percent year-over-year in August, coming in at 26,500 new residential listings, data from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) show. While this is noticeably higher, new listings were seven percent below the five-year average. Or according to the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), “inventories remain quite low, but the slow pace of sales has tipped some markets into balanced or even buyers’ market territory.”

As the nation’s population grows amid the federal government’s plan to welcome more than one million immigrants over the next couple of years, demand for Canadian real estate is expected to remain high. Although higher interest rates may minimize some of this demand, the post-pandemic hangover might persist.

Perhaps Jason Mercer, chief market analyst for the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), summarized the situation in the Canadian real estate market best: “We’re seeing a gap in the ‘missing middle.’” Until more housing supply comes online, it will prove to be challenging to see prices come down at a level whereby more families and households feel comfortable making that giant leap into homeownership, whether in downtown Toronto or a small town in Atlantic Canada.

By: Brittany Stager

With the arrival of fall bringing cooler nights, shorter days and busier schedules, you might be wondering how you can extend the feeling of summer fun and continue to enjoy patio season well into the autumn months.

Whether you’re hosting a backyard get-together with family and friends or embracing the quiet of the night on your own, outdoor patios have become an extension of our usable living space and should be enjoyed as long as possible. With a few modifications, your outdoor patio can become a cosy autumn oasis, ready to combat those nippy nights and early sunsets.

Here are seven ways to keep patio season around a little longer to get the most out of your outdoor living space.

1. Add barriers

Don’t let the cool fall weather bring you down! Adding barriers around your patio can help block the elements and make it feel cosier. Gazebos or pergolas are an excellent option, offering up shade in the summer and protection from the cool breeze in the fall. Adding outdoor curtains or windscreens can help keep those cool gusts of wind at bay and a roof extension or large awning can shelter your seating or dining area from rain. Lastly, strategically planted shrubs and trees can naturally reduce exposure to that chilly wind, making your time outside more enjoyable.

2. Bring the heat

Don’t let the cool fall weather bring you down! Adding barriers around your patio can help block the elements and make it feel cosier. Gazebos or pergolas are an excellent option, offering up shade in the summer and protection from the cool breeze in the fall. Adding outdoor curtains or windscreens can help keep those cool gusts of wind at bay and a roof extension or large awning can shelter your seating or dining area from rain. Lastly, strategically planted shrubs and trees can naturally reduce exposure to that chilly wind, making your time outside more enjoyable.

3. Get cosy by the fire

An outdoor gas fireplace, fit pit, or fire bowl can instantly turn from a design feature to a functional and welcomed heat source in the cooler months. Guests can pull up a chair to roast marshmallows and enjoy the relaxing ambiance of the flickering flames. Before purchasing any type of fire pit, it’s advised you check whether your local bylaws allow open fires.

4. Snuggle up

Grab a blanket and cosy up next to your loved ones! Blankets and throws are not only a stylish item, but they can also keep you snug and warm when the cool weather sets in. Keep a large basket handy and fill it with a variety of blankets and throws—from Sherpa and fleece, to chunky knit and heated, you won’t regret the extra insulation when you’re enjoying a backyard movie night. When it comes to choosing a basket, you’ll likely want to opt for one that includes a secure top and tight seals, as the last thing you need are damp blankets or a family of bugs setting up shop for the winter!

5. Let there be light

The arrival of fall means days are getting shorter. With darkness coming earlier, you might be tempted to head inside, but a small investment in outdoor lighting can keep your patio bright and safe, extending your outdoor fun well after the sun goes down. There are many options when it comes to outdoor lights, like hardwired sconces, twinkly string lights, solar path lights, and battery-powered lanterns, a variety of lighting fixtures can illuminate your outdoor space in the most magical way.

6. Choose weather-appropriate furnishings

High-quality outdoor furniture is worth the investment if you plan on using your patio well into the fall. When buying outdoor furniture, consider comfort, style, visual appeal, and durability. Focus on sourcing furniture made with weather-resistant material, such as polyresin wicker, hardwoods like teak and oak, wrought iron, and powder-coated steel and aluminium, which will reduce the likelihood of rust, fading, mould, or warping. Weather-resistant fabrics and cushions are also essential. Lastly, you can protect your investment and prolong the life of your furniture by using covers or storing cushions in a garden shed or garage until you’re ready to use them.

7. Get a hot tub

Lastly, if you have the budget and the space, a hot tub is a luxurious way to relax and enjoy the cool fall weather. Enjoy a soak with friends or unwind alone: it’s the perfect way to enjoy the patio all year round!

There’s no reason to hole up inside, there are still many beautiful fall days and nights to be had before the snow starts to fly! With just a few adjustments to your outdoor space, you too can extend your patio season and continue to enjoy time outside.

By: Meagan Kelly

When it comes to buying and selling a home, there are many opinions on the real estate process. From when to sell to where to buy, how to negotiate and what to look for, there’s no shortage of information being thrown your way. Like with anything, what you read or hear isn’t always factual. Sure, it may be rooted in truths, but things can get twisted. 

This is why we recommend contacting a realtor to help you on your real estate journey. They’re the experts and can bring a multitude of professional experience, designations, and certifications to the table, helping you navigate an otherwise stressful process. 

We reached out to a few realtors across Canada to help provide some clarity on the most common real estate misconceptions.

Misconception No. 1: You shouldn’t call a realtor until you’re ready to buy

It’s not uncommon to hear people say contacting a realtor is the last step before you’re ready to buy, but in fact, it’s the opposite. 

The sooner you’re equipped with expert knowledge, the better. The questions or concerns you have might be easily answered by a realtor in seconds. More importantly, factors you may have been overlooking might be brought to your attention. Ask questions and get to know the person who will be assisting in one of your biggest purchases!

The best policy is to interview a few real estate agents if you don’t know or have one. Once you’ve chosen an agent to work for you, explain all your needs and make a list of your criteria, including desired areas.

Misconception No. 2: It’s OK to skip a home inspection 

Home inspections aren’t mandatory when purchasing a home, but they’re recommended to help protect you in the long run. 

New homes, old homes, all homes should be inspected thoroughly by a qualified inspector. Even brand new homes can have inspection deficiencies overlooked by the builder. Your inspection is an excellent tool to make sure you head into your purchase with your eyes wide open in terms of immediate necessary repairs and ongoing maintenance items.

Misconception No. 3: Down payments are the only upfront costs

Saving for a down payment is what most people focus on when beginning their home buying journey—this isn’t a bad thing—but often we forget there are additional costs associated with the purchase of a property, and being unprepared for them could leave you in a tough spot. 

There are a lot more fees you might not have thought of. Some examples of upfront costs are: home inspections, mortgage appraisals, property transfer tax (if applicable), GST (if applicable), closing lawyer or notary fees (if applicable), movers, cleaning, etc. While upfront costs are important, knowing about other hidden costs could make or break your homeownership experience.

– Joe Bae

Down payments are one of the closing costs. It may be the largest cost, but you still need to pay the lawyer to close the transaction, you have your land transfer tax which is a substantial cost and changes depending on your purchase price, and depending on the agreement of purchase and sale you may have an HST commitment.

– Daniel Engel

Buying in British Columbia, you’re going to have a few costs. The biggest will be Property Transfer Tax, followed by lawyer/notary fees, title insurance, and moving costs. Depending on the purchase price we typically recommend budgeting an additional 2% to 3% (of the home’s selling price) for closing costs.

– Casey Archibald 

Misconception No. 4: Condos with cheaper fees are always better

Paying additional fees on top of your mortgage can be tough, but it’s not always worth finding the lowest condo fees in order to avoid those costs. 

Reviewing condominium documents for the finances, reserve fund, and overall costs is important—a new owner doesn’t want a surprise assessment after they’ve taken possession. Higher condo fees usually mean the work has been completed and the building is well taken care of by the management company.

– Debra Presley

Condos with cheaper fees might not have an adequate budget or funding required to operate the building smoothly. This may eventually (or soon) lead to an increase of fees in the future. Secondly, the condo may not be performing all the recommended or required maintenance or repair work. On the other hand, it may not be contributing to the contingency reserve fund adequately, which may lead to a bigger lump sum payment called special assessment in the future. Instead of looking for the cheapest condo fees, you should put a cap on what fees you’d like to avoid, and make sure that the condo fees are being put to proper use. 

– Joe Bae

It isn’t always the case and it’s important to look at what’s included in the maintenance fee and what the history of the building’s finances are. Building A may have a lower maintenance fee than building B, but building A regularly uses special assessments to fund repairs whereas building B has never had a special assessment and all utilities bills are included in the fee. It’s so important to look at what you’re getting for your monthly fee and have a lawyer look at the status certificate to see if there are any assessments or a history of them. Look at the whole picture, not just the dollars and cents.

– Daniel Engel

Misconception No. 5: Your list of wants is the same as your list of needs

Everyone has their idea of a dream home. Big windows! Three storeys! Massive yard! Sprawling kitchen! But everything you want in a home may be different from everything you need. You might not need floor-to-ceiling windows, but if you have a large family you may need more than three bedrooms. 

Unless you’re working with an unlimited budget, you’ll have to determine which are your must-have features in a new home and which features you would potentially be willing to give up. If you’re unwilling to compromise on any features and are having a hard time discerning wants and needs, you may have a difficult time finding that “perfect” fit. 

– Eric Wilkinson

Needs and wants are two different lists. Your needs are the things that are non-negotiable, under no circumstances are you buying a house without parking, as an example. Whereas your wants are things you’re willing to live without for the right house. It’s impossible to find a house that checks all your boxes, even if you build it yourself. I’ll always tell clients to clearly define your needs and wants and to keep in mind if you get 9/10 things then that’s as close to a perfect house as we’ll get.

– Daniel Engel 

Needs and wants in a home could be very subjective, so I don’t try to set a boundary on what your needs and wants are. Instead, I suggest making a combined list of your needs and wants and number them in the order of importance. Find a number on that list you could start to give up if necessary.

– Joe Bae

Misconception No. 6: Never accept the first offer 

Offers are not like pancakes—the first one isn’t always a write-off. It’s a misconception that you have to say no to the first offer on your home when selling. Instead, you should be looking at what the potential buyer is actually offering and seeing if it meets your desires.

Oftentimes, the first offer is the best offer. The longer your listing stays on the market, the more a buyer may try to negotiate on the price. It’s encouraged sellers do their best to work with the first offer in trying to come to an agreement that works for everyone. 

– Eric Wilkinson

Sometimes your first offer is your best offer. Different people have different negotiating styles and some people genuinely come with their best offer first. Look at the content of the offer and judge the agreement on its merits. Does this work for me and my goals? Is this what we want? Don’t just reject an offer because it’s the first one—you may never see that offer again.

– Daniel Engel

Misconception No. 7: Selling a home without a realtor saves you money

Selling your home without a realtor could not only cost you actual dollars, the stress and uncertainty of the process can add unnecessary strife to your already hectic life. 

Realtors are professional marketers and negotiators. You may save yourself the cost of commission by not hiring a realtor, but you very well may have left more money on the table by not having an agent represent you through the negotiation or by not reaching the correct buyer through marketing efforts. Speak to an agent, ask them for their sales statistics, ask the important questions, and make an informed decision.

– Daniel Engel

There are many ways to sell a home just like there are many ways to file your own taxes. Professionals exist for a reason and the majority of homeowners choose to hire a realtor because they see it as the best fit. I’d never recommend selling your home on your own for the same reason I trust professionals to file my taxes, do my dental work, and prescribe medicine to my kids. A good realtor knows the ins and outs of keeping your largest investment safe. They have a rolodex of professionals that will help you from start to finish and have the experience to stickhandle the negotiation process.

– Casey Archibald

This is by no means a comprehensive list of real estate misconceptions, but it goes to show why working with a realtor is so important. You always want to make sure you’re getting accurate, up-to-date information so buying or selling your home can be as stress-free as possible!