It starts with a call from an eager potential seller. The next step is for me to meet with them, and in all confidence find out as much as possible about the home and their future plans.

I ask a lot of questions, take notes, a few photos (not for publication) and most of all “listen”.

A sellers common and understandable expectation, especially if they’ve purchase the home in the last 5 years is as follows:

“What I paid + what I spent vs what the neighbors house sold for = my selling price”

I wish it were that simple.

As a REALTOR® my first step, after meeting the home owners and the house is to sit down at the computer and begin the research.


Location: Find properties to compare in the same area


Style: Find properties to compare that are similar to the house being evaluated (2 story vs 2 story)


Condition: comparable homes should be in similar condition to the subject home


Sold Homes : Your primary statistics will come from recent sold data (not from 3 years ago) depicting what a buyer is willing to pay for a property similar to yours in todays market.


Current Listings: We will review your competition and if needed strategically place the home given the results

however “list” prices are not a measure for a selling price. They are a “want to get” price, not based on what a buyer is willing to pay.


Once comparable homes are found then it’s time for me to sharpen the pencil and review each one, making adjustments if needed. Adjustments are commonly for things like a garage. If a home has sold nearby and didn’t have a garage while the subject home does have a garage we’ll speculate that home could have fetched $20,000 more and add that to its price for comparable sake. Make sense?

I have been privileged to meet some great home owners recently who have done incredible work on their home. The last thing I want to do is tell them their house will fetch less than what they expect. However, it’s my duty to show and explain the data, along with the market price based on that. Are their expectations impossible? Absolutely not (within reason).

We’ll roll up our sleeves, get the property ready with staging, presentation, the best photos, market it out of the park and see what a buyer is willing to pay for the home.

My advice? I’d love to say “Contact an agent before you start all of your renovations”. Trouble is 95% of these home owners didn’t plan on moving. They made their reno choices based on sensibilities and their needs. So we’ll skip that piece of advice albeit ideal.

Find an agent you click with, check their references and get to work. If you want top dollar you need to be 100% ready. That dollar may not be what you paid (price + renos) however if you show up to the dance as a knock out you’ll capture the best and highest dollar the market is willing to pay.

Have a great day!

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While it may be every sellers dream, it’s also a mine field of good and bad. Over zealous buyers who may back out or aren’t qualified; how do you pick them out? How do you position yourself as a seller to be in this position?  I’ll keep this simple for example sake:


123 Main Street has been staged and priced right for the market. It’s in a hot neighborhood. The seller and agent talk about the possibility of multiple offers and decide to ask buyers agents to leave all offers open for a period of time thus giving the seller time to review as many as possible all at once


The listing comes out and within 24 hours the showings are booking up.


Within three days we have 5 offers on the table.



Offer #1 – Full list price, no conditions (meaning no inspection, no financing etc). Local couple eager to move in. 4 months to closing date $1,000 deposit.

Offer #2 – Two thousand over list price with the usual conditions (financing, home inspection etc). Investor planning to rent the property. $5,000 deposit with one month closing date.

Offer #3 – Three thousand below list price with conditions and they want the dining room set. Single male, first time buyer. 2 months closing date with $1,000 deposit.

Offer #4 – Five thousand over list price, all conditions in and wants the dining and living room furniture. Another investor. $4,000 deposit and 2 month closing date.

Offer #5 – One thousand over asking, no conditions. First time buyer. $1,000 deposit and 1 month closing date. Agent verbally states that the buyer will be needing financing.


The Seller – doesn’t want her neighbors subjected to renters if possible. Financially motivated.

The Agent - advises and sets the seller up to sign the documents as follows:


Offer #1 – sends off counter offer with higher dollar figure.

Offer #2 – rejects offer

Offer #3 – rejects offer, too low

Offer #4 – holds off on responding until Offer #1 answers counter offer

Offer #5 – rejects, badly written offer that might not go the distance.


The seller chose Offer #1 to avoid having the property turn into a rental and knew of the buyers. The simplicity of their offer was attractive. They did come up to meet the price and the other offer that was kept on hold was put into back up position. The seller was thrilled with the outcome.


Buyers


There are many points to know when competing in a multiple offer situation. While price will usually win out there are other factors at play. Your agent will know how to help you position yourself accordingly with the information they gain about the seller. It does help to let the seller know a little about you (not in the case of the investor in our example). It also helps to keep the offer as clean as possible. If you’re desperate to have the mirror in the hall wait until after your offer is accepted to ask for it; don’t complicate your offer. Your REALTOR® will advise you and position you to compete.


Good luck! Our Annapolis Valley market is hot. Both sellers and buyers need to know what they are doing to come in first.


Have a great day!

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I’d like to start by thanking Google Calendar, without whom I would be in an absolute mess. Google is so popular it’s recognized by many other programs and syncs upcoming dates with little to no effort by me.

“Planning” in real estate seems like an innocent and well intended idea. You must plan your daily, monthly and yearly agenda. Include things like seminars, office meetings, house showings, listing appointments and holidays. Yes, it sounds quite doable.

A few weeks ago I met with new home buyers. They were surprised at how quickly I answered their first email. They seemed to be waiting for a response so I added “If I don’t answer emails promptly I end up with an inbox at the end of the day that would scare most people. Second to that I find that when an email is sent it expects a reply in good time”. I’m not sure how my answer went over. Like a million other things in the course of my day; I’ll have to think about this. Does being prompt seem over anxious?

I’m an organizer. One of those people who like everything in its place, as neatly and quickly as possible to keep chaos at a dull roar. Real estate should be in the dictionary under the word chaos. Organizing it is next to impossible. I will never stop trying.

Here’s a look at my Monday. I get up at 4:30, have tea, organize emails that came in after I went to bed, bring up the social media calendar and start reading articles that may be appropriate to post. I’m out the door at 5:45, off to the gym with a colleague. No, I’m not lifting weights or anything sweaty; we’re walking the track for 5km, enough to work up a good “warm”.  Back home, get clean, feed the cats, feed the birds, make a yummy but non-satisfying protein shake and sit back down in front of the computer. Finish scheduling any brilliant articles I’ve found (sometimes I find nothing, other times a boat load of information). I have two client appointments, one seminar of sorts and two house showings. An email pops up from a client who wants to see a house today as well. I have to find out if it can be shown on short notice, slot it in between what’s already going on and hope all 3 of our schedules coincide.

I also need to book a phone call. The potential buyer must find that very odd. If I don’t book the call she could catch me in between the other 8 things I have going on and I won’t be able to give her my undivided attention. I worry she must think I’m over anxious, perhaps trying to solidify our agent/client relationship. That’s simply not the truth. What I want is to give her my undivided attention; she deserves no less and I need that space to truly listen without interruption. So if I book a phone call with you don’t panic. You warrant my undivided attention. That’s all, nothing to be alarmed about.

That’s the organized section of my Monday. In between all that is to launch two new listings which I’ll do the lions share the night before. 

Then the phone calls and new emails pop in which I try to handle immediately and put them in the appropriate time slot if required, all in the course of the new day.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I adore organizing chaos. Why? Because I can. I’m good at it. When I look at a situation, I can step away from it for a few moments, look at it objectively and see how it can be done. Sort of like the main character in “The Good Doctor” without the medical background. I love my career and if it was not this diverse I wouldn’t be in the business.


My article is nearing its end and I’m wondering what prompted me to write it; that’s the “memory” part of the story. Now I recall. It’s to educate you about my response time and the need to schedule everything. I do this because you’re important as is my sanity.


Have a wonderful Monday.

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 I entered a vacant condominium for sale with a client. We began the showing looking in the entry closet, slowly wandering into the living room and around the corner into the kitchen we are suddenly faced with a free roaming wild eyed ferret glaring at us. If I had been on my own I would have gone into animal rescue mode however since I’m a REALTOR® I had to think of rescuing my client first (it takes a few seconds to work this out in your brain before acting). We gently left the unit, backing out so we could watch its activity. I didn’t sell the condo and I did follow up on the ferret who was picked up by his neglectful owner.


An appointment to view a particularly nice home in a good subdivision turned into another mild rescue mission when faced with an attack cat. I love cats and have been blessed with never a bad moment with them. This situation however was not turning the right corner. With every step we took, the cat was right there growling. We managed a mini tour of the main floor and headed for the lower floor but the cat blocked the stairs. He puffed up, growled and let us know that was as far as we were going. I judged we were minutes away from an actual attack so we wisely left. It took close to a year for this house to sell.


Sitting at a listing interview surrounded by small dogs who were reasonably friendly though very loud with their barking. One sauntered over to my side and promptly peed on my purse sitting on the floor. The owner laughed and said they often peed on that level of the home. Oh my. I asked for paper towels.


I love signs that say “Don’t let the cat out”. Since I have cats I know full well what is involved in getting them back should they get out so I’m acutely aware of them on showings. One house had that sign on a bedroom door. Myself and the buyers calculated that we could burst into the room to view it, quickly enough not to allow escape. We were wrong. Both cats got out and we spent the next 45 minutes trying to round these two up. It was hilarious and fortunately the cats didn’t mind being handled by strangers.


There are many more tales, like space that has “Do Not Enter” stamped on the door. Behind one garage door were well over 15 dogs, another had a very agitated Goose tucked away in a work shop and during one listing appointment the owner had a Parrot which she said was friendly as it inched up my arm.

What have I learned? To take it all in stride. People, just like me, love their pets and bless them for doing so. It’s my job to help assure the home owners that they will be safe and not let out as well as help them figure out how to handle showings with pets in the home.


If you don’t laugh you’ll surely go crazy.

Have a great week.


Kathy


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Before I start my story I want you to know I used to be a seasoned yard sale/flea market person. I could see a great deal a mile away. Mind you that was 20 years ago. A few years ago I happened upon a flea market in Mahone Bay. On this sunny day I was happily wandering through the tables full of stuff when I spotted this authentic looking piece of art. I picked it up. It felt lighter than I thought it should be and when I asked the vendor what he wanted for it his answer was higher than I hoped. I really liked it though and felt it would be a great addition to my home. I got over the price and went in for the negotiation. I managed to get him down a whole $5.00 and left with my $95.00 wall hanging. When I arrived home I laid it on the couch in the living room for when I had time to devote to deciding its place.

A few days later I was in Winner’s looking for a kitchen item. What did I see? My newly acquired piece of art. It was exactly the same piece. This price tag - $39.99. I was upset. I felt taken advantage of and suddenly less enchanted with my artwork. When I arrived home I went into the living room and in an effort to move past my disappointment I began trying to figure out where it should go on the wall. It didn’t look good anywhere. It then became part of my staging arsenal to be loaned to clients to make their house look great where it has been used many times. It’s actually hanging in a sellers home as I type this.

The day will come when I will have a yard sale and this piece will end up on a table, having served its purpose and no longer needed. Do you think I’ll be able to charge a figure for this item based on what I paid for it or what it was actually worth? You’re right. I can’t expect someone to over pay just because I did.

The moral of the story is “buyer beware”.

I have met a number of home sellers that over paid for their home. Some of them substantially ($100k -$200k). They thought they were getting a good deal because it was a private sale. Two sellers I recall were from out of province/country and didn’t know the market. Please understand, this doesn’t mean the person they bought the home from was trying to con them; the sellers are usually just trying to get out what they spent on the home or cover their debt.

Your REALTOR® will do his or her homework on your behalf and make sure you don’t overpay. Buying a home is usually the single largest investment you will ever make. Please be careful with your financial future.

The Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia is heaven on earth to those of us who have migrated here from other provinces (me included). Finding just the right home to suit your lifestyle, your expectations and most importantly your future; is key to your happiness.


Have a great day!


Kathy

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Before I start working with a buyer they have often spent days and hours looking at homes on line and come to me with their “must view” list. I’ve seen lists as short as one home and as long as 50 homes. A normal number is around 5.

Their decision to see these homes is based on location, price, size, what the home offers and how it is presented in the photographs; not necessarily in that order. For the sake of this story the buyers tell me that Sunday is their ideal house viewing day starting at noon. I go online, request the showings 24 hours in advance from furthest point to closest, half an hour apart plus driving time. Now I wait for confirmations.

From the sellers point of view they have to figure out how to juggle their lives around to be out of the house for the specified time (about an hour) along with having it clean and tidy for the showing. Here are a few getting your house ready tips:


Don’t be home for the showing
Make sure the home is clean
Don’t use scented products especially plugs ins and room deodorizers
Hide evidence of pets and clean litter boxes
Put away all clutter (coats, boots, kids stuff, laundry etc)
Turn on the lights (not lamps unless that’s the only source of light)
Turn on the heat (buyers will speed view a cold house)
No music, it's distracting

We arrive at the first house, walk in the side door and it smells weird. The floors are dirty, boots and shoes are everywhere as we stumble over the debris to take our foot wear off. What happens at this point is the buyers immediately feel disappointed. The pictures showed it shiny, organized and full of wow. There is no wow. There is no smiling and now they start noticing flaws.

The second home is neat and tidy. It’s also freezing cold. A few rooms are warm however most of the house is chilly and we can only assume this is an effort to save on heating costs. The buyers start to worry about the lack of insulation. As an agent you try to deflect these objections and show them the great features of the home. This doesn’t always have an impact when the house shows them something of concern, indirectly, by having the heat nearly off.

The sellers from house #1 had to handle our showing, going to church, taking kids to a hockey game, packing lunches and dropping the dogs off at a neighbors. There was no time for cleaning.

While I can understand this, and the buyers can understand this, it doesn’t change that first impression. Same thing with house #2. Somethings like turning on the heat is easier to control than a bus load of children and pets.

Everyone has their story.

Buyers: make sure to give your REALTOR® at least 24 hours notice for a showing to allow sellers to get ready.


Sellers: Get ready. It’s not easy, I know. You want to sell your house so that first impression has to be a Wow. You can do it.


Have a great week!


Kathy

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You wake up one day and realize it's time to get serious about your home, again. Everyday the same scene presents itself and you feel the same cloud hanging over your head. You know the house is too big. It requires more work than you are able to do and it's further away from conveniences than you'd like. The worst part is all the stuff. Years of your things, the kids things and furniture you don't use; it's overwhelming. It's also normal to stop the thought process, make coffee and block it out of your mind until it surfaces, again.

Like anything that's difficult it has to start with asking for help. Reach out to your friends and family; ask them to recommend a REALTOR® who can walk you through the process at a speed that you are comfortable with and has the resources you need to go from A-Z. 

Invite the agent to your home. He or she will listen to your concerns, needs and timeline. Together you construct a plan that can work for you. 

I learned a long time ago when faced with a large task - look at it in increments. Like weight loss; don't think about the 50 pounds. Think about the 5 pounds a month. It's less overwhelming. One step at a time.

Last October I met a wonderful lady in her early 70's who knew it was time to move but had no idea where to start. We sat down and talked for quite a long time until I felt comfortable to make suggestions based on her personality and what was most important to her. 

It took almost two months to get this glorious home ready for the outside world to see. Prior to that big day I watched the home owner go from lost and insecure to proactive, happy and feeling in charge of her next chapter. She was thrilled to leave her old home to a new and energetic buyer. She loves her new spot, with her cat, her favorite things but most of all she has control back. 

Imagine waking up to that new life? You don't have to do it alone. 

Pick up the phone and begin.


I'm ready when you are.


Kathy Whitewood - Royal LePage Atlantic

REALTOR® 

902-691-3157


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Yesterday was going to be a full and productive day in my home office. I had goals to work on my CRM, tidy up a few transactions and deal with some new software that promised to make my life and my clients lives easier.

As I was bringing my accounting up to date I noticed a double charge by Microsoft. I logged into my bank account and sure enough I was charged twice for the same thing. This began at 10am. I went to the Microsoft website and looked at my account, no record of the charge. I began looking for the “contact us” section and ending up chatting on line to a non-person who was useless. 15 minutes later I find a phone number. On hold. 15 minutes later I’m speaking with a nice Spanish speaking man name Gil (I think). We have a confusing 30 minute discussion about how I wasn’t charged and me insisting I was (I was on hold again). He suggests I call my bank and we can have a three way conversation which should result in the huge amount of $90.85 being refunded. Gil had to walk me through how to do a three way call. I was quite pleased with myself to get the bank on the phone however I managed to have Gil firmly “On Hold” and no matter what I did he was not coming to the party.

The bank tells me this is a matter for the credit card division and would I please hold, again. It’s now 11:30. When the credit card person finally materializes, I go through my story all over again and he’s pleased that I called Microsoft first however since they are disputing the charge,  my credit card must be cancelled and I will be issued a new one. They stamp the file with “suspected fraud”. I did point out that it was likely human error. In my opinion if anyone was going to commit fraud they should aim a little higher. The credit card person didn’t find that amusing. I should receive the new card in 7-10 days. They will reverse the $90.85.

It doesn’t end there. Now I have to contact all the companies that run monthly fees through my card. It’s now 12:30. There are 6 firms. Only 3 would let me make the change on line. The other 3 required phone calls and more hold time. It’s now 2pm. I’ve missed making my diet lunch and my cat is asleep in my drawer.

What do I do at this point?

Make lunch and organized the tools in the basement. Marie Kondo would be proud.


Kathy

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Where did the time go? Suddenly November is almost over. Christmas trees and seasonal decor ideas are all over social media and I can't get "I'll Be Home For Christmas" out of my head.

I'm looking at my listings for sale and almost in shock at the low number. 2 homes and 5 pieces of land! OMG. I'm trying not to panic. This is what happens when you sell a home; it goes from the active listing pile to the sold pile. Deep breath.

As we inch closer to the holiday season we will see fewer homes for sale. Very few people want to deal with having a home "sell ready" when they are trying to pull it together with baking, family coming and home decorating not to mention unpredictable weather.

People always ask me "is it a good time to sell?" If your home is market ready and priced properly there is almost always a buyer in the wings. However! At this time of year, unless someone has to buy, those buyers are doing what the sellers are doing - getting ready for the holidays. The last thing they are thinking about is home shopping and moving.

Lets talk about the buyers that are still looking. At the height of the season (spring time) as an example you'll have around 500 buyers in Kings County Nova Scotia actively looking for a home. Over the course of the spring and summer at least half of these buyers will have purchased. Into the fall another 25% are successful home shoppers. That leaves 125 people still open to buying as the cold weather rolls in. At the end of November, V2 (Hants Border to Aylesford) inventory is down to 285 homes on the market. What does this mean? If you're trying to sell your house right now you have a lot less competition than you did in the spring. On the flip side, only certain buyers are out there and many of them have already surfed the current inventory. Check with your agent about what could move and what should wait for the New Year.

I love this season. It's the time of year when everyone is a little nicer. Random acts of kindness are popping up everywhere, folks are signing up to volunteer for events, stockings and shoe boxes are being filled for those less fortunate and don't forget paying it forward in the drive thru's!

My to-do-list is huge with holiday cards to write, a client party to organize, home buyers, home inspections, paperwork, listings and right now my morning coffee with the mindset of gratitude that I have this life.

If you need any home advice please call me, I'd love to help. It's what I do; it's all about you.


Kathy 


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This title occured to me on this Thanksgiving holiday while I was thinking of family and friends and their lives. They are all different. Clients are the same, they are all different.

When I meet a client for the first time we both interview each other. I ask questions, they ask questions and we both listen. 

If you're selling you will have a time line, financial expectations, budget restrictions, household issues with children and pets, divorce or separation, family loss, empty nest, expanding nest and the list goes on. 

When buying you will also have financial and budget restrictions, timelines, you'll have size and location requirements, services, amenities, land or not and the ability to make changes, or not..

For both clients, I need to sink my heart and soul into making your goals mine. 

I'll work closely with my seller clients to make sure their house is market ready. Imagine that prom date - start with the shower, hair and make up to perfection, the perfect dress and shoes, hair on trend and set. The wow factor is in the buildling.

This process, along with proper market price, tailor made photographymarketing and negotiating will ensure a happy client. 

Buyers are hoping to be wowed. Even in a home that's a fixer upper, the can be wowed by the potential. It's my job to help them "see" what it can be and how to get there. There are lots of buyers who want nothing to do with renovations, I'd better not show them something that doesn't fit. 

Listening is a skill.

Finally, clients stay clients. Over the years I've decided not to put clients in a positon where I can't represent them. If I have a buyer that falls in love with a home I have listed; I simply refer them to another agent or they choose their own. Everyone deserves and needs their own representation. This is my opinion. 


I love what I do and wish to thank everyone I've met in business for lending me the opportunity to work with them. 


Happy Thanksgiving 


Kathy

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When the market changes as it has in the Annapolis Valley over the last 18 months, pricing a home for sale takes more than an uneducated guess.

You're thinking of selling? Where do you start? 

You call your friends, colleagues and family to accumulate a list of trusted REALTORS® in your area. Invite at least 3 into your home for an evaluation. 

1. Let me back up a minute and elaborate on "REALTORS® in your area". The other day I was invited to compete for a listing outside of my area. The sellers shared the list of agents they were interviewing and only one was local. While all their selections were well picked, the local agent will have a better working knowledge of their neighborhood, be "on the ground" to react to showings and be able to engage a buyer with more confidence about local amenities, developments etc., than an out of area agent. This is only my opinion, stay local. 

2. Try not to be attracted by the highest price. Have the agent explain the comparables. Your house list price will be based on what has sold not what is currently offered in the market place. SOLD prices are what buyers are willing to pay. Your list price needs to make sense. If the agent cannot explain how they arrived at that price then you are to proceed with caution when deciding to put that number out in the market place.

3. Pricing low. We are in a sellers market, in many areas. Believe it or not you can't price too low. If you come out of the gate at a low price, the buyers will flock to the home and you will receive multiple offers which will drive the price up. The only caution here would be to advertise offers stay open for a longer period of time to allow more buyers a chance to bid.

4. Being ready. Get good advice on having your home market ready. It makes a difference; a huge difference. When buyers are looking at the photos of your home online they are looking to be impressed. Unprofessional photos, untidy rooms and ungroomed exterior can stop the phone ringing. With a bit of effort, a few hundred dollars, your outside can look 100% percent better and appointments will be booked.

5. Pricing and marketing should be tailor made to your property, and you. 


When my daughter was little and I was helping her make decisions I would say "do the right thing and the right thing happens". 


Go the distance and it will pay off. 


Have a wonderful day,


Kathy

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Times are changing and who thought that could happen with the rental market? We now have AIRBNB which has altered the playing field for renters.

From a landlords perspective, renting their space on occasion whether it be seasonally or simply at their whim can not only produce higher rental rates but leave space open for family or other use without the ties that long term tenancy bring with a lease. For home owners this is an attractive alternative and potentially produces higher income. It's especially of interest to those lucky enough to own a cottage. You only use it a few weeks of the year, why not rent it when you're not there?

Then we have the Tenancy Act which has recently been updated September 18, 2018 to deal with the situation of evicting tenants once a property has been sold among other rule changes. Please read the following link:


https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20180918007


You'd be surprised how many landlords and tenants aren't aware that you can't just evict someone without cause and that cause must be non-payment or rent or damage to the property. 


For those with pets renting is a slight nightmare. Renting a house from a property owner who couldn't or wasn't ready to sell used to be some what simple. Today our selling market in the Annapolis Valley is strong and homes that are priced market ready sell quickly. That means less rental inventory outside of apartment buildings. The more attractive properties are being eaten up by AIRBNB as this story today outlines:


http://www.kingscountynews.ca/business/reservations-renters-struggle-for-accommodation-in-airbnb-rich-communities-243581/


My only advice to those that rent are to make yourself a strong tenant. Pay your rent, respect your neighbors, take care of the property. Having good references are critical when you're moving. Aim for an apartment building where "selling" by the owner will not make your tenancy unstable.

If you can, start the process of saving for a home of your own. Many lenders will gladly sit down with you and help you start your plan. If that isn't in your future then be aware of rental limitations in the market and secure your spot. There are many agencies that can assist you; reach out.


Landlords, know the rules. If you're thinking of renting out your property - talk to a specialist. Knowing "everything" and sometimes hiring someone, will be the best move for you.


If you're thinking of buying a property to rent understand the market area. What rents are possible in that location, will renovations improve the revenue and what type of tenants does the property attract? Talk to someone who knows before spending your hard earned money. Advice doesn't cost a thing.


Have a great and powerful day,


Kathy

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Depending on your personality you should get out pen and paper or start a spread sheet. This isin't an easy question to answer.

I was out showing homes the other day to first time home buyers with a decent budget. We visited a new home with approximately 1,500 square feet of living space and an excellent energy rating meaning low heating costs. We also saw a number of resale homes and they finally selected a resale home with about 2,200 square feet of living space in an established neighborhood.

Here's where the spread sheet comes in handy. Make up your columns as follows:


Price, monthly mortgage payment, property taxes, insurance, water/sewer, start up maintenance costs, mileage to and from work, 5 year plan work, 10 year plan work, variables, resale work


Let me inject at this point that I love resale homes including big old century homes and vintage properties from the 1950's. They are so full of character. They are often on larger pieces of land in a lovely location, established greenery and offer a ton of living space. The pitfalls of resale homes are the costs of upgrading. The older the home the bigger the labyrinth of costs. You'll need to consider electrical, plumbing, insulation, foundation, drainage, windows and a host of other items. Homes built in the 1980's and newer have less issues but often have things like windows and heating systems that need addressing. Your REALTOR® will guide you through this process. Once you are educated you can make a sane buying decision. 


New homes are easy in that you simply move in. You will find the price tag higher but this shiny new home doesn't come with a to-do-list. It's often fully landscaped (grass), paved driveway and comes with a New Home Warranty. You just move it and set up your furniture. The pitfalls can be moving to a neighborhood that isn't established, it may be further from amenities and offers less square footage than a resale. Don't be shy about approaching a contractor to price out a new home for you. It's your money. Buying a home, new or resale is a big deal.


My overall advice is simply to get advice you trust. Know what you're getting into and have a plan. There are so many opportunities and one will be ideal for you. 


Kathy

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You are retired and you're feeling like your house needs to be as well. Like many seniors you're finding your home too big, too much work and in need of upgrades. On the other side of the that; you love your home. Have you looked around at alternatives? Buying a smaller home, assisted living or renting? 

As I continue to write I'll do my best to keep this article to a decent size given this is a very large topic.

The retirees I've talked to find it overwhelming to contemplate moving. From deciding what to do with all their stuff, getting the house ready to sell and finally, find a place to live.

The last two clients I've had in this situation decided to find a place to live first, buy it or rent it, move and then get their home (with my help, family and professionals) market ready and sold. This worked beautifully and was much less stressful than trying to sell their home while living there.

It's complex. These seniors both had pets and a desire to be independant which is understandable and I'm grateful we were successful.

f you've decided you need to move there are ways so don't hesitate to contact a REALTOR® for a consulation. There is  greaqt detail to this situation and a senior savvy agent will help you from start to finish.

Then there are seniors who really don't want to move but struggle with an alternative. You love your home and don't want to leave; you' feel stuck.

There are grants to assist you financially with renovations to make the upgrades to your home you may need. There is a local handyman that specializes in assisting seniors. Finally there is such a thing as a reverse mortgage. 

Contact me anytime for more information. It's my pleasure to help you.


Living in the Annapolis Valley is an absolute joy. There is so much to do, so much to love about our post card environment and a wonderful place to live and raise a family. It's also a great place to retire.


Life can be overwhelming especially when you try to figure it out on your own. Ask for help.


Have a peaceful day,


Kathy

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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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