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Should You Sell Your Home?

For many, you’ll know it’s time, when posed with the question to stay or sell. Specific reasons to sell your home can come quickly, including job changes, divorce, children, health issues and marriage.  But for others, the decision to stay or sell will be one of great deliberation.

Few decisions will have bigger impact on your life than selling your home. Often, the decision requires landing on priorities to ensure you are doing the right thing and you are clear about what you will gain if you chose to sell.  Pondering these three crucial questions to help shape your decision:

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What do you value about your current property and what do you find lacking?

Make a list of pros and cons considering all features of your home and how it fits with your current lifestyle. If change is needed, see if renovating a viable option.

What are the pros and cons of your current location?

Remember why you moved to your neighbourhood in the first place and consider if those reasons are still valid.

How about the financial picture?

Are you looking to reduce expenses by downsizing to a smaller, less expensive home? Or, has your financial picture improved since you first purchased and it’s now time to leave this home behind?

Answering these questions will sharpen your perspective and help your decision to stay or sell your home.

If it’s time to list your home, we can help. click here to find your Summit Group agent.

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Paying Off Debt? Here are Some Tips to Reach Your Goal

Everybody faces debt at some point in life. While it can often feel overwhelming, here are some tips to help you pay off some of your debt to get you
back on track this year:

1. Create a budget for yourself.

This will help you manage how much money you’re spending each week or month. Make a
spreadsheet to help lay out what your spending limits are, you’ll feel great when you have extra
money each week.

2. Sell unwanted items.

The holidays are over, and now you’re left with lots of new items. Find yourself feeling cluttered
financially and mentally? Time to clean up! You can sell household items you no longer use,
search through your home and gather things you don’t use anymore. Take awesome pictures of
your items and put them online.

3. Treat yourself!

Having a reward system in place will help you stay on track to pay off your debt. Don’t let
yourself get discouraged if you don't meet your goals, try to improve the next week – and the
week after that!

4. Change what needs to be changed.

If you find yourself spending more money than you should every day, consider making changes
to your daily habits. Budget a grocery list for the week and buy items to have in your house to
take for lunch instead of buying something at work every day, or brew coffee at home and take it
to work with you instead of stopping at a drive-thru on your morning commute. You’re sure to
see a change in your spending habits with these small changes!

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Listing Your Property

selling-home-halifax

Listing a Property

The listing of a property is a relatively straight forward process, however there are a number of documents that your agent will want go over with you. We will outline a few of these documents to help you understand the process of listing your home with a REALTOR®.

Seller Designated Brokerage Agreement: Authority to Represent Document

The first, is the authority to represent document – known in Nova Scotia as the Seller Designated Brokerage agreement. This document, which is accompanied by the listing addendum and the property condition disclosure statement (PCDS) – sets out the relationship between you and the agent, including all of the duties they are bound to complete for you, and all of the disclosures they are going to require you to complete for the selling process. The listing Addendum, is a data collection sheet used for uploading the details of your property to the Multiple Listing Service.

Property Condition Disclosure Statement

The PCDS is a form that you will use to make any declarations about the home to prospective buyers, and goes a long way to creating some awareness about the issues that exist in the home for those who have interest in the property. It is the seller’s opportunity to disclose all that they know about the home – a key step in helping to minimize liability in the transaction. The PCDS will only be filled out if the owner is also the occupant, or has recently been. If it is a bank owned property, or being sold as a part of an estate, then likely there will be no PCDS.

Accompanying Informational Documents

The other forms that are required at time of listing are informational document – including forms discussing what agency means, what elements of the property are leased, and information gathering for the federal government through the FINTRAC data collection process.

Advertising Your Property

In terms of advertising your property – there are a whole host of options that you and your agent can discuss, including online, print, television, radio and more. Your agent will develop a marketing plan for your home, and in most cases, the agent will fund the marketing efforts during the listing time – thereby assuming much of the financial risk for the promotion of the home.

You should expect that your home should be marketed 24/7 through online efforts like REALTOR.ca, and the brokerage website. And finally, believe it or not – the old fashioned sign on the front lawn continues to be one of the best forms of advertising – so having the strength of a great agent and great brand suggests that you are approaching the sale of the property professionally.

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Securing a Mortgage

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Getting Pre-Qualified

Getting Prequalified for a mortgage is the first step in the buying process. Prequalification lets you know whether you will be able to borrow money from a bank or other lender, what your maximum monthly payment can be, and even “holds” an interest rate for you. The reason that this should be the first thing you do is that you want to set up the framework for what you can spend before you start shopping for homes. The last thing you want to do is start to look at things that you can’t afford, as it is just bound to set you up for disappointment.

But here’s the thing – not all pre-qualifications are the same, and choosing who is to help you is a more important decision than you might think. Many banks will do a pre-qualification based upon your “ratios” only. The ratios are the percentage of your income that you are allowed to spend on housing. For example, at most financial institutions, you are only allowed to spend up to 32% of your total income on your housing needs.

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Why Use a Mortgage Broker?

There’s a lot that should be considered when you go for a mortgage pre-qualification. First, the person doing the pre-qualification should also investigate your credit bureau – it’s a good time to find out if there are any skeletons that you may not know about – particularly if they are going to harm you when you seek final approval. Additionally, this is a great time to rate shop! However, did you know that if you go to multiple lenders who do a credit check each – that it can actually harm your credit? Consider using a mortgage broker, and you’ll have someone shop your “situation” around to the lenders for you. They will give you some options that you can choose from based upon criteria like rates, terms, features and more. There’s typically no cost for this service that the borrower pays – it’s the lenders who pay these folks. You can, of course, get prequalified by your bank or credit union as well, but it definitely pays to get a second opinion via a mortgage broker.

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How to Choose the Right Water Heater Size

According to Natural Resources Canada, water heating represents 15 to 25 percent of our household energy bill and it is the second largest portion of energy utility costs, after home heating. So before calculating the right water heater size you need for your household, you should consider switching to an eco-friendly water heater.

Next you have to make sure to get the right capacity tank for your family’s needs. Getting one with too much capacity will cost more to rent and operate. As a general rule, below is a guideline of the size of tank you might need. While it does not necessarily factor the number of bathrooms in the house and your hot water usage, it should give you a good estimate:

Number of gallons/litres Number of people in the household
30-40 gallons (114 -151 litres) 1-2
40-50 gallons (151-189 litres) 2-3
50-60 gallons (189-227 litres) 3-4
60-80 gallons (227-303 litres) 5 people +

Source: What Size Water Heater Do I Need

If you want to make a more precise calculation, you have to check two factors:

The First Hour Rating (FHR)

it means how many gallons of water a heater can produce at any given hour. You can see this number on the EnergyGuide label of the water heater.

Peak Hour Demand

this corresponds to the amount of hot water your household uses during a busy hour, like in the morning for example. The easy method to calculate is the number of people living in your household multiplied by 12 (it corresponds to the FHR). For example, if you are 4 people in your household 4 x 12 = 48 which corresponds to your FHR. So you will want to buy a water heater of about 50 to 60 gallons (189-227 litres).

Once you know what size water heater you need, you can start shopping. You might consider renting. In your calculations, remember that the life expectancy of a water heater is about 7 to 15 years before being replaced. When you rent, make sure to also take in consideration the following: Natural Resources Canada explains that “Every energy-using appliance has two price tags. We know the first: the purchase or renting price. The second price tag is considered less in the purchasing or rental decision, but is just as real; it is the operating cost of the appliance which is the cost to operate the heater. It is wise to rent a model that is EnergyStar, as you will save in the long run.”

To make sure you choose the ideal Water Heater for your home, contact your Enercare specialist today.

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Tesla’s Partnership With Dalhousie Could Transform Halifax

tesla-halifax

Source: John Grant – urbanhfx.com

Did you know that Tesla’s only battery research facility outside of California is in Halifax? Elon Musk must see something in our young people, as the relationship between Tesla and Dal began in 2015 and continues on to this very day.

It makes business sense for Tesla to spend lots on researching battery tech. The battery is by far the most expensive component in an electric car, and reducing the cost to manufacture batteries would save the auto manufacturer billions annually.

Halifax is becoming a startup city, with more startups per capita than almost any other major Canadian cities. At the core of our startup culture are the countless of universities and colleges in the metro area. Nova Scotia is among Canada’s most educated provinces, which makes it a natural hotbed for young, entrepreneurial types.

If Tesla sells enough cars to warrant a Canadian manufacturing facility, there is no doubt Halifax will be on the shortlist. Unlike traditional auto manufacturers, Tesla requires most employees to be very specialized, with many jobs requiring a graduate degree or above. Halifax provides this, as well as Canada’s largest Atlantic port and abundant access to rail networks.

Could Halifax become the Oshawa of Atlantic? It may be more likely than you think!

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Why Choose a Summit Group Agent?

summit-group-realty-agent

With the wealth of online resources dedicated to helping you search for a new home or sell the one you own, you might be wondering if you even need a real estate agent in the first place. However, you may want to consider why many homeowners choose to enlist the services of a real estate professional.

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A trusted real estate agent who comes recommended by others can increase your satisfaction with the process of buying a home in a number of important ways. These factors will help you determine the value your agent can provide:

There’s the Internet, Then There’s the “Pipeline

While a quick search on the web is a great place to start, you’ll want the inside track. A real estate professional will enhance your property search with a pipeline of properties. They, or others at their brokerage office, will also be aware of buyers who are looking within your area.

Opt for the Guided Tour

When you tour a landmark or attraction your experience is enriched by someone who is familiar with the location who can guide you. As a community expert, your real estate “guide” can provide insights on historical market values, culture, and attractions, as well as local resources relevant to your interests and needs.

A Single Point of Contact

A real estate professional will help you determine how much house you can afford, alert you to potential risks, help you find resources, and negotiate the offer. Often a seemingly simple transaction can grow legally complex and risky. Again, this is where the pipeline comes in, as your agent can help you locate trusted legal counsel, home inspection services, surveyors, and lenders.

Negotiating

A real estate professional can help you objectively consider the offer you plan to put forth. They can recognize the various strategies of a selling agent, which may serve to drive up the price. They can also provide insights that can help you submit a competitive offer on a home you don’t want to lose.

Click here to find your Summit Group Agent!

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Finding the Perfect Halifax Neighbourhood

halifax-neighbourhood-home-buyer

What is your Ideal Neighbourhood?

Purchasing the perfect property often involves more than just the home itself. What truly distinguishes a house from a home is the community and environment that surrounds it. Halifax has quite a variety of neighbourhoods and communities, just remember that neighbourhood preferences vary. While you may dream of a smaller, more charming community, others may yearn for big city living with every convenience at their fingertips.

There are many factors that go into buying the perfect home.While choosing the right property is very important, a neighbourhood plays a crucial role in creating lasting memories. The trick is finding one that suits your lifestyle.

Here are a few tips to help you find the right fit:

halifax-home-for-sale-dartmouth   home-buyer-halifax

Make a list.

Start by jotting down a list of the desired lifestyle factors that are most important to you and your family. Remember to leave no stone unturned — consider location, proximity to work and schools, amenities and local attractions.

Get out and explore.

While lists are helpful, nothing beats experiencing an area for yourself. Once you’ve narrowed down the most important factors, be sure to visit at least a couple of locations around Halifax that match the description. Though one may look good on paper, in reality it may leave more to be desired. The only way to truly determine what’s best for you is by seeing an area in person.

Call in the pros.

Often, the best way to find the perfect neighbourhood is by contacting a professional. Experienced sales representatives are aware of great areas suited to any need and can help narrow your home search and save time.

check out our Your Perfect Life tool to find your dream neighbourhood.

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How to Choose the Perfect Air Conditioner (AC) For Your Home

What size AC do you need?

You want it big enough to make your home comfortable, but not too big to waste money on energy not needed. A basic rule is to calculate 20 BTU (British Thermal Unit) per square foot. So, if you have a 1000 sq ft home, you should need a 20 000 BTU unit to remove that quantity of hot air each hour. However, the floor plan is not the only thing to consider, as you will also need to factor light exposure (number, size, type and age of windows), ceiling height, and how many floors your AC system will need to cool down. Other factors that can affect sizing are: home insulating factor (wall and attic) and the number of outer walls exposed to ambient temperatures.

What type of AC should you get for your budget?

If you are looking for HVAC systems, there are four main types, each with its pros and cons. Your budget will dictate what you can afford to install. A full HVAC system or a more affordable portable or window AC unit? No matter what you choose, make sure to go for models with an EnerGuide Label, as they are more efficient and less expensive to run. Especially if you add rebate programs in your area, they might pay for themselves quickly.

Wall or portable AC ($)

If you have a low-budget, you might consider installing a wall or mobile AC unit instead. Usually, these units indicate the BTU rating, which varies between 5 000 and 15 000 BTU. As the engine is located directly into the machine, they are noisier than the other type of AC systems.

Hybrid Heat Pump ($$)

It’s a low-cost option that has its limits. The heat pumps are air conditioners that reverse their process in the winter to create heat for your home so you can use them year-round. However, if you live somewhere where the temperature drops below 5°C, which is the case for Ontario, they might not be your best investment, as they are better for a warmer climate.

Split System ($$$)

It’s the most popular one. It has both indoor and outdoor components. It’s the right choice if you already have a ductwork and blower system should already be in place. Less noisy than the wall and portable AC units.

Ductless Mini-Split System ($$$$)

A great way to control temperature individually in different rooms, the ductless HVAC system distributes air via small wall-mounted units connected by refrigerant tubing to an outdoor condenser. It works well in homes with little space, but it requires a bigger budget to install.

Ask for an estimate from a HVAC specialist.

Now that you’ve done your homework contact a HVAC Professional who will come to your home for an estimate and help you choose the best system your money can afford. Don’t wait till the heat wave strikes to call, as you might have to wait longer to have it installed. Remember, an AC system is an investment that will make you surf through summer like a breeze!

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Maximize Summer Enjoyment With a Screened Patio

A big part of the appeal of owning a home becomes ultra apparent during the summer months when we can spend time outdoors. You can extend your summer enjoyment with screens that are fitted to patio and porch openings. When done right, these options appeal greatly to future buyers.

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Set a budget, then exploring a variety of options to fit your pocketbook and tastes. With a wide range of products on the market – from motorized retractable screens to do-it-yourself kits from your local building store – there’s something to fit every budget. Start with a trip to the library and research ideas through books and publications on decks, porches and patios.

As far as dos and don’ts,  obtain more than one quote if you are looking to engage a professional service to plan and install your screens.  If you plan to do the project yourself, make sure your basic structure is in good shape. If not, be sure to budget for additional material costs and make repairs before you begin. Measure accurately and ask to see assembly instructions in the kit you buy.

More information on enhancing and preserving the value of your home is available at www.royallepage.ca.