Let's start off with basic definitions of defects you will need to know about when selling or buying a property (courtesy of the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission):


patent defect is a property fault that is easily spotted by a potential buyer, such as a broken pane of glass, old roof shingles or peeling paint. A latent defect is a fault in the property that would not be easily detectable by reasonable inspection of the property, such as a serious crack in the foundation that has been covered over with paneling or improper wiring covered by drywall. Material latent defects are latent defects, which may have a serious impact on the value of the property or involve health and/or safety issues. 


As a seller, when completing a PDS (Property Disclosure Statement) you will be required to disclose all of the above to the best of your knowledge.

As a buyer it is up to you to review this 3 page document with your agent, address concerns if any and ensure you will be conducting a professional home inspection to assist in you in making a firm purchasing decision.


Your REALTOR® and home inspector will often recognize signs of Material or latent defects to bring to your attention which will prompt further investigation using a contractor/plumber/electrician etc to obtain more detailed information and knowledge of associated costs. 


Here are just a few things to watch for during an inspection:


Asbestos 

Kitec Plumbing

Sewer Lines

Water problems

Mold

Egress Windows

Mechanics

Structure Issues

Knob & Tube wiring


In the Annapolis Valley we have a wide range of styles of homes and ages. As an example, homes built or renovated between 1920-1975 main contain asbestos tainted wall plaster. Is this an issue? Only if you decide you want to take down a wall or two. Is it manageable? Absolutely. 

It's been my experience that if home buyer knows about a defect going into a purchase they are less likely to be concerned and become proactive about dealing with the problem. It's when they don't know, a lot of money can be spent and people end up in court.


Have a great day,


Kathy


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With low inventory, prices rising and properties getting snapped up in bidding wars it’s really a challenge for a buyer.

As a REALTOR® we learn how to change in a changing market. We have to; for our clients and for our business. Buyers and sellers however are rarely aware of these changes and it’s up to us to educate and prepare them.


The bank tells you your top budget is $160,000 to purchase a home. You’re putting 5% down and feel comfortable locking in for a 5 year term. Your payment is going to be around $800 per month not including property taxes, home insurance and utilities.


So off you go looking at homes. Your wish list is a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home near amenities. 6 houses qualify in your area. I always encourage buyers to go and see the properties even if they find the photos off putting. If at the end of the tour you find nothing. There is plan B.


Revisit your wish list. Do you need 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms? Does it have to be in town? Would you consider a different town? It’s a huge asset when property hunting to keep a spreadsheet where you can enter a home’s data (price, utility costs, taxes etc), your data (where you work) and what you expect to spend on the house data. At the end of entries it may surprise you which house is the most affordable.


Back to Plan B. Off you go again with your REALTOR® looking at homes in different areas. You find one that’s in pretty decent shape but it needs a new roof shingles and a new deck. You can’t afford to deal with that and the homeowner is not willing to make the necessary repairs. What happens now?


You talk to your lender about a renovation mortgage. If this house in particular is $140,000 and the price for the renovations are $15,000, your lender will finance the work (check with your lender to find out particulars) you are now looking at an investment of $155,000 to be financed. Often you need one quote from a contractor (they do the work, not you).


It’s not complicated, it’s just an extra step. Many of these fixer uppers have good bones and are worth the money. On the flip side there are many that aren’t. Your agent, inspector and a contractor, will help you know the difference.

Don’t get discouraged. There is a house out there just waiting for you. I’m sharing the following review from a first time buyer client that found that perfect fixer upper to show you it can be done:


My fiancé and I were very fortunate to have been able to work with Kathy during our first time home buying experience. Kathy proved herself time and time again with her thorough knowledge of the local market and home construction. With every home we viewed, Kathy advised us of any and all signs of problems, commenting on the quality of the construction, finish, appliances, etc. Kathy is very friendly and personable which really relieved any stress we had about the whole process. She is professional, very intelligent and there for you literally whenever you need her. Kathy accommodated our busy schedule and worked with us to view properties in the evenings and on weekends. We never had any doubt that we were working with someone who had our very best interests at mind. It's difficult to put into words just how much we appreciate everything Kathy did for us. I would highly recommend using Kathy for all your real estate needs. Thank you so much for everything Kathy!”   - Katelyn and Mason Hill

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The Annapolis Valley market is just as hot as the Halifax market. If you compare price, they are not far apart. Why? The Annapolis Valley offers a unique and economically sound lifestyle bolstered by ever growing vineyards, restuarants, farmers markets and amazing communities whether you are retiring or starting out with your family.

In our more urban areas like Wolfville, Kentville and Greenwood, we are seeing it evolve into a sellers market. Prices are inching higher and high end homes are selling whereas a few years ago economic confidence was not as rich.


Inventory is at an all time low which is frustrating for buyers and for REALTORS®. New home construction is spiking in popularity for that very reason. People simply aren't selling because there's no where to go. Our rental market has almost a 1% vacancy rate if not lower and new projects enjoy a waiting list. It's a great time for a developer to start a new project. We'll hopefully see that happen in Windsor via Parsons Green Developments. 


In the meantime well priced and market ready homes are flying off the shelf. The fixer uppers are stalling because not everyone has the cash or the interest in renovating a home. If you're working with a market savvy buyers agent, he or she will guide you through this potentially difficult area. To lean into the subject of fixer uppers here is a basic outline of the math involved:


Purchase price + renovation cost = current market value.  


I've had buyers tell me they don't care about market value after the renovation, they simply want to make it their forever home in that particular location. Fair enough.


Bear in mind that current market value is subject to location. You won't fetch the same price for a home in Wolfville as you would in Canning and on the education goes. 


Most REALTORS® have a list of contractors that can help you with quotes on projects and your lender should be equipped to offer you a renovation mortgage that can pay for the renovations within your mortgage. 


Get excited about your home buying adventure and most of all; be informed.


When that amazing property comes on the market be PREPARED to pounce.  


Kathy



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It's not easy during the initial conversation with a buyer or a seller to truly understand their perspective. It takes a few meetings and comes about by asking the right questions and above all else; listening.


A prospective Seller will show your their home, answer standard questions and expect a timely estimate of value on their home. The seller will often have a dollar value in mind that usually comes from either "what they paid + what they spent = what they can sell for" ,"what a neighbors house sold for." or "what someone, other than a local agent, told you your house is worth". The will also share why they want to sell so I clearly comprehend their motivation. Our conversation is completely confidential.

It's up to me to assist the homeowner in understanding that value is based on what comparable homes have sold in their marketplace iover the last 6-12 months. After that information is presented and absorbed ,we move on to the getting your house ready. As your REALTOR® I am going to do my best to obtain the most money available for your home. Your job is to make sure, with my help, to have your home market ready. Each homeowner is different and it's up to me to understand exactly what you can and cannot do and work around that for the same outcome - a home ready to show off and impress.


As a Buyers agent my first job is to clealy understand what you're looking for and why (family size, job location , budget, etc). You'll learn what my role is with you - to protect your interests and act soley as your agent, not an agent for the seller. First time buyers are the biggest challenge only because they are going through the learning process, not only with finding the right home but the good, bad and ugly with their purchase. For every buyer, what will it cost, what needs to be repaired, inspections, navigating around the endless paperwork and so much more can be stressful. It's my job to make it simple, enjoyable, exciting and successful. Buying a home is a massive committment and the more you tell me about what you like or don't like, the more likely I am going to be able to find you that right home. It's often one you weren't expecting. The process can take a few weeks or months; it's entirely up to you. I'm in it for the long haul.


Ultimately, your goal is my goal. 


What's my favorite part?


The happily ever after that comes with your new life. 



Kathy

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It used to drive my ex-husband insane when I would turn the house upside on Sunday. His viewpoint was that it was a day of rest; a day to sit around and tinker with his hobbies and do nothing of consequence outside of his perimeter.

Me on the other hand sees it as a day to become reborn. The intensity of my week left no time for cleaning, personal organizing and getting back in touch with what I’m doing and why.

I haven’t changed.

This morning I woke up late because I could. Next thing coffee. The first thing my partner says to me when I’m standing in front of the coffee pot is “what would you like for dinner”?

I want coffee.

He wants to know what to take out of the congested freezer. I tell him I don’t care (mild panic hit me after the words stumbled out). He’s now hidden chicken and steak in the microwave so the cats don’t wander off with it while we’re not looking. His next statement (all this is happening within 3 minutes) is “we need groceries, what should I pick up”? He sees that I’m at a loss for words and tells me to write a list.

He soon leaves the home worried about his emotional safety.

Two cups of coffee later, fed the birds, sorted out my desk, returned client emails I settle into listening to a motivational speaker. Treadmill time, clean out the litter box and prep for laundry.

Feeling inspired; I look in the fridge.

My partner Gary is a great fan of regular weekly trips to the grocery store. I’m a firm believer in going based on need. He keeps cramming the fridge full of stuff we may or may not consume. He’ll buy food that requires preparation, a seemingly harmless activity. It makes me nervous. I work crazy hours. If I come home at 8pm I don’t want to cook nor do I want a sit down dinner. I feel like an abusive wifey. He’s pretty good about eating frozen pizza for dinner.

He does not clean out the fridge. I mention it at times and he changes the subject or wanders off. Is this a guy thing? It is he who stuffs it full of things I would not eat so I’m of the opinion that he should remove it when it’s deceased. The unopened bottle of Cheez Whiz was dated May 2015.

As you can see by the full contents of our compost bin I was yet again the brave one who popped those lids and scooped out the gross and green goop into its open mouth. I feel cleansed. I still haven’t made a grocery list. I’d rather it stay empty and rest. After all it is Sunday.


Have a beautiful day, your way


Kathy

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As a REALTOR® you would think I am a firm believer in home owners listing their home. That actually isn't true.


I have a great love of the before and after. When I'm showing homes to buyers I spend time with them helping them see what a property could be rather than what it currently is. There are so many properties with "good bones" in the Annapolis Valley; it's a sin to see them inch closer to obsolesence with neglect.


This year we are seeing our market shift from a buyers market in 2016 and half of 2017 to a full blown sellers market. Inventory is low, buyers are plenty and competing offers are common. What's going on?


We live in a province of abundance seen from the eyes of retirees, pre-retirees and young people who can't afford the larger markets in Toronto and Vancouver. While our economny doens't support high income it is bountiful in beauty, low crime, fertile soil and affordable housing for many.


Seniors in particular at the moment are finding they either don't want to leave their home or have no where to go. The rental market is ever shrinking in part due to the population shift and the attractive profitability of the AIRBNB opportunity.


The Canadian Home Builders Association has an informative website on where to start to renovate your home and make it work for you going forward. 


Here is the link:  http://www.chba.ca/CHBA/Renovating/Planning_Design_Budget.aspx


If affordability is your first concern, sit down with your bank and discuss your options. 


The hardest part about any change whether it is listing your home or renovating is starting the process. 


Kathy

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Naturally my vantage point of this topic is from my perspective. That being said I have asked clients their opinion.


What do you look for in a real estate agent? The most common answer is "the one with the most signs up". That makes sense. Pick the popular one, the busiest agent in the area. They must be doing something right. Absolutely! The second response, and often the first, is "I ask around and get a referral". 


When I'm on a listing interview I try to explain to potential sellers the following:


1. You and your agent will be having a relationship during this process. Start by selecting one that you feel comfortable with and that you believe will offer the best service.


2. Next, check references. 


3. Are they taking the time to explain the process?


4. Did they do a written evaluation of your home showing how they arrived at a listing price?


5. What do they offer? 


6. Check out their website and social media pages.


If you are listing your home on the MLS® service and your agent advertises using the DDF services as well, your home is exposed to the entire world online. There's no magic to this; except in the presentation.


Here is where you can differentiate between agents. Do they have a plan for getting your house market ready? Are they using professional photography? What is their marketing plan?

Does this make a difference? Absolutely. If your home isn't ready, you'll lose buyers.


We live in a visual age and one with a short attention span. Buyers click in and click out in under 5 seconds. You have to grab their attention.


Selling your home is a huge decision and a large process that done with precision and guideance can net you the best price.


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Perception is that getting your house ready for the market costs a fortune and takes way too much effort. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money and the effort is all about the end result - you getting as much money as possible for your home.


Lets start outside. Putting a fresh coat of paint on the exterior doors and shutters goes a long way. Cut away all the over grown shrubs, weed all the gardens, install mulch for the clean and tidy look and make sure the laww is mowed weekly. Paint the front steps and put out a few planters or a door wreath for a pop of color.

Spend time with your REALTOR® discussing the bigger items and return on your investment. While it would be ideal for the whole house to be painted, that may not be in your budget so discuss how to deal with that issue.

Inside - Clean the house from top to bottom including all those weird places you never look because you don't need to - a buyer will look. Organize cupboards, closets and buy a bunch of boxes or rubbermaid tubs and start packing things away you don't need for the next 6 months. You are moving after all. Please don't take offense - pack away all family photos and collectibles. Your buyer wants to visualize themselves in your home, not you. This makes a huge difference.

Again, consult with your REALTOR® who has hopefully provided you with your free professional staging consulation so you know what is expected to really impress the buyer to offer on your home. Sometimes it's just a matter of cleaning, packing and moving furniture around.

If it involves more than that like repairs, your agent will guide you through the "must do's" and what can be forgiven.

Showings and photos of your home is like a first date. If you put forward a good impression, you're well dressed, smell nice and are clean you'll likely get that second date.

Don't just show up. Shine up.


I'd love to help you get your home ready from Windsor to Wolfville and as far as Aylesford in the Annapolis Valley. I love what I do. 

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Buyers are usually excited when they are house hunting. Buying a home is a big deal whether it's your first home or potentially your last and they are in a very open minded happy disposition when they arrive at a home. Keeping them that way is all about those first impressions.


As an agent it's our job to prepare sellers to be show ready. What does that mean?


1. The house is clean

2. The house is tidy 

3. The house is odor free (except baking smells)

4. The lights are on

5. The key works

6. Pet instructions are given

7. Music is not playing


I could write a paragraph on each point (that would include funny stories) but you'll just have to trust me that each one of those is important.

On the flip side they aren't always doable for the seller as follows:


1. It's a vacant home and in an "as is where is" state.

2. The seller's mobility is restricted

3. The seller smokes

4. The house has had damage that retains odors


While a buyer can look past many defects, they will be subconsiously deducting dollars from the asking price. If what should be the "wow factor" turns into the "what the heck" factor, the seller is missing out on an offer or a decent price.


The Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia is rich with a variety of homes ranging in age, style, size and location. There is something for everyone. Showing off our Valley is a regular pleasure of mine. Having lived all over the country, this is my chosen home and I'm proud to help you make it yours.


Have a wonderful day.






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Most people, and you can understand why given that it's a municipal service, think that a municipal sewer line is the responsibility of the municipality/town. It isn't unfortunately. 

These lines over time warp, corrode, become blocked or forever damaged by tree roots. Fixing the problem can cost thousands of dollars. Picture calling the plumber, having him or her determine the problem and informing you the line has to be dug up from house to street and replaced. You are also responsible for patching municiple property, i.e. the ashpalt.

If you're buying a home in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia you'll be facing sewer lines made of cast iron, no-corrode, clay and plastic. If you see a beautiful tree on the property, panic. They love water and will go to great length's to seek it out which includes invading the sewer line. 

What do you do? You have the sewer line inspected by a plumber who has a high quality video line to run down the pipe. You'll see the actual footage (video) of what's in that pipe. It's well worth the few hundred dollars.

The older the location as in the gorgeous century homes in Wolfville, Kentville and Annapolis Royal, the more likely you'll find corrupt pipes.

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