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Why Realty Connects Is The Resource For You

Let’s face it–buying or selling a house can be an incredibly daunting challenge. At Realty Connects, it’s our goal to help make this an uncomplicated, memorable and, more importantly, exciting experience for you. We’ll do the hard work, so you don’t have to.

So whether you’re buying or selling, we have a variety of resources, including a mortgage calculator, home inspection information, moving tips, and more, which are sure to make this process a little bit easier to manage.

Still need some help? Feel free to contact us, and our knowledgeable team will help answer any questions that you might have!

The Upside Of Downsizing

In business, downsizing isn’t a word that anyone wants to hear, but in real estate it provides homeowners with a wealth of opportunities. Every year, millions of people are electing to purchase a property that’s smaller than the one they currently own. Whether you’re switching to a smaller space because the size of your family is changing, or you want a lower-maintenance home for retirement, there are plenty of upsides to downsizing.

Access Your Equity

Downsizing is an excellent way to convert your home equity into capital that you can put towards what your family needs (like a vacation home or a better retirement lifestyle). Whatever your goal, don’t forget that in some cases, swapping a 3,500 sq. ft. split-level in the suburbs for a 1,800 sq. ft. space in the heart of downtown may leave you with little financial room to spare. It’s best to assess the value of your home and any desired properties with your REALTOR® first.

Travel More. Mow Less

One key benefit that attracts homeowners to townhouses and condos is the convenience of maintenance-free living. Less space means less time spent cleaning. Sure, you’ll still have to do laundry, but to permanently cross off outdoor chores from your to do list might be just the incentive you need to include the yard tools in the sale of your property. Plus, you may be inspired to use all your new free time to take a well-deserved holiday. Or two. The best part is, no one will know you’re on vacation by the state of your front yard.

Eliminate Empty Room Syndrome

How many rooms does your home have? Of those, how many of them do you actually use? Take a tour around your home and assess how much space you use on a regular basis. If it’s 100%, stay put; if it’s 65% or less, you could be suffering from empty room syndrome. The average size of a home has almost doubled in the past 30 years, yet the average family size keeps on shrinking. Having too much space creates an imbalance that costs more than just time and money—it also means there’s more stuff to organize and dust.

Location

The size of your new home isn’t the only thing that matters. When you’re planning to scale down your square footage, consider choosing a location that brings you closer to the places you regularly go—family, friends, work, shops—so that you’ll cut back on travel time and expenses. Better still, opt for an area that takes it a step further and places everything within walking distance; your heart will thank you for it.

Think Green

Corporations downsize to save money – why not follow their example? A smaller space can mean reduced mortgage payments and taxes. Less square footage requires less heat, light and AC, which means you’ll spend less on energy. It all adds up to savings that can help the environment and keep some cash in your pocket.

Accessibility And Comfort

Moving to a smaller home, townhouse or condo can also provide you with the added benefit of stair-free living. In fact, developers are responding to the increased demand for accessible living spaces by building single-level suites and properties with residential elevators so that homebuyers can move into a space that will allow them to age gracefully and comfortably.

Peace Of Mind

Most people have discovered that the longer downsizing is put off, the harder it gets. Savvy homebuyers start thinking about finding a smaller property long before the last child leaves the nest – or maintenance-free living becomes a necessity. A large number of townhouse and condominium communities offer on-site features that few detached dwellings do. From fitness centres to party rooms to guest parking, you can simplify your surroundings while still enjoying the comforts of living large. Best of all, condos provide the added benefit of entryway video monitoring and, in many cases, a concierge.

Reduce, Reuse, Rejuvenate

The benefits of reducing your living space increases exponentially when you combine them with clearing out the clutter, opting for multipurpose furnishings and fully exploring what you want out of a home. Many downsizers who dreaded moving into a smaller home are enjoying a freedom they haven’t experienced since long before the kids arrived.

While downsizing can be a daunting task, it can be used successfully to help you increase cash flow and convenience – and enjoy a simpler way of living.

What To Look For When Buying A New House

When you fall in love with a home, the things you like about it can blind you to its problems. Next time you go to an open house or tour a property with an agent, keep your eyes open with these top tips:

1. Take a look at general upkeep. Is it clean? Are lawns left uncut? Do walls need paint? If the small stuff hasn’t been taken care of, there’s a good chance that bigger issues have been ignored as well.

2. Test it. Try out lights, faucets, toilets, air conditioning and major appliances.

3. Check for water damage. Look at ceilings and drywall for stains and bulges. Water that works its way in through a leaky roof or a cracked foundation can rot wood, create mildew and destroy possessions.

4. Watch for spongy floors. Take note of soft, springy sections, squeaky or uneven areas – these can be a sign that costly floor repairs are needed.

5. Check doors and windows. Make sure they fit snugly in their jambs and operate smoothly. Feel for drafts. Look for flaked paint and loose caulking – if wood isn’t protected from moisture, it will rot.

6. Look at the foundation. If you see deep cracks or loose mortar and bricks, there may be a significant structural problem. Soggy areas near the foundation are also a warning sign.

7. Make sure there’s enough storage space. If you are moving from a home with large closets and a shed, make sure your new house is able to store an equivalent amount of belongings.

8. Measure. Make sure your furniture will fit into your new house.

These tips are for your own first — or second — look at a home. For true peace of mind, you should always hire a certified home inspector before you buy.

The Importance Of A Home Inspection

So you’ve found a house you love. Great backyard, gleaming hardwood, and the kitchen of your dreams. But what about the furnace? The wiring? Leaks in the basement? Before you buy, have the home inspected; no matter how experienced you are as a homeowner, it’s the best way to make sure you really know what you’re getting into.

A home inspection will give you the information you need to make an informed decision. The inspector will determine the condition of the house you’re thinking about buying, and let you know if there are any problems. (And the great thing is, the inspector doesn’t care if you buy the house or not, so you can be sure he or she is being objective, even if you’re not.) If you have to make an offer before having a home inspection, make it conditional on a satisfactory inspection.

If there are any problems, you have three options:

  1. Walk away.
  2. Use the results to negotiate a better price.
  3. Give the seller a chance to fix the problem.

What Happens During A Home Inspection?

The inspector meets you at the home you’re thinking of buying, and takes about 3-4 hours to carefully inspect the entire house for structural, mechanical or other issues. He or she examines everything from the roof to the foundation and everything in between, including heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, insulation, roof, windows and doors, walls, ceilings, attic and basement. You can accompany the inspector as he or she goes through the home – it’s a good way to get to know the home quickly, and will give you a head-start in your home care “learning curve.”

The inspector then prepares an inspection report that outlines problems (breaking them down into major repairs that need to be done right away and areas that will need attention in the future, with accurate cost estimates for each), highlights good points, and gives you an idea what kind of maintenance you’ll need to do to keep the place in good shape. Make sure you ask for a detailed report that’s written in a narrative style. Never accept a verbal report or one that’s just a checklist.

How Much Does It Cost?

Most inspections cost between $250 and $500. Think of it this way: a few hundred bucks could save you thousands in home repairs. It’s a pretty small price to pay for significant peace of mind.

How Do I Find A Good Inspector?

Look for a reputable, qualified company that has been in business for a while, can provide references from previous customers, is fully insured and offers guaranteed inspections. Inspectors should be licensed in building-related fields such as contracting, architecture or structural engineering. Your REALTOR® can recommend a reputable, objective inspector at your request, or you can find one by asking friends or by looking in the phone book.

When you’ve fallen in love with a house, it’s hard to see any faults on your own. Make sure the decision is a good one, and get it inspected so you can be sure you stay in love – for years to come.

Tips For The Big Move!

1. Get Organized Early. Avoid leaving anything until the last minute. Unless you have to pack up and leave in a hurry, chances are you have between 30 and 60 days to make a plan and ensure that moving day runs smoothly. Create a countdown list and itemize everything you need to accomplish week by week.

2. Figure Out Your Plan. How are you going to get from point A to point B on moving day? For shorter moves, you’ll either need to assemble some very nice friends with trucks or consider renting a truck for the day. If you have a big family to move or you’ll be moving a long distance, you’ll want to price out moving companies.

3. Keep Your Movers Informed. Boxes are one thing, but when you get to the big, heavy stuff, it’s important to let your movers know what to expect. “Communicate with your moving company and explain all the requirements and expectations prior to booking,” advises Andrew Ludzeneks, founder and current president of iMove Canada Ltd. “Your mover has to be aware of all those minor details in order to estimate your total move time and cost, and have proper equipment available.” That includes informing the company about any overweight items (i.e. a piano or fridge), access restrictions (small elevator, walk-up only, narrow driveway) and whether you’ll need help with disassembly or assembly of furniture.

4. Pick The Right Transportation. If you’re moving a short distance, you may be able to get away with making more than one trip. But if you don’t have that luxury, you’ll need to make sure you have the right size of truck to cart your belongings in one go. “Choosing the right size is particularly important when moving farther away, as making several trips could be a problem,” says Andrew, who recommends using the following guidelines when determining the size of your truck:

  • In general, the contents of bachelor and one-bedroom apartments will fit in a 16′ cube truck available at your local rental company.
  • Two to three fully furnished bedrooms will require a 24′-26′ truck to ensure your move is completed in one load.
  • The contents of most houses can be moved in the same 24′ truck with one or two trips.

5. Purge! Purge! Purge! Moving is a great chance to organize your belongings and get rid of items you no longer use. If the time of year permits, hold a yard sale. Or, take the time to sort and donate gently worn clothing to Goodwill, put furniture up for sale on a site like craigslist.org, recycle old magazines and catalogues and shred old documents.

6. Make A Packing Kit. If more than one person is packing, stay organized by establishing a system. Have blank inventory sheets prepared so one person can tackle each area or room. Arm each packer with a pen, black marker, and packing materials, like newspaper, a packing tape dispenser and boxes.

7. Keep An Inventory. This is especially necessary if you’re hiring a moving company. Having a record of your household items is useful if something goes missing. Consider keeping a spreadsheet of the contents of each box. Then, assign each box a number and all you have to do is write that number on each side (maybe with the appropriate room listed, as well).

8. Label Everything. Label all sides of the box (avoid the top). Whoever is carrying in your boxes might not make sure all labels are facing one way for your easy retrieval. Try labeling each side in marker so you can easily find what you need in a stack.

9. Don’t Forget A Moving Day Kit! Keep one box aside of “essentials” that you’ll need on moving day: cleaning supplies, light bulbs, toilet paper, garbage bags, a change of clothes, your toiletry bag, etc.

10. Be Ready For Your Movers. Whether you have family or professional movers showing up at your door, be ready for them when they arrive. With a moving company, unless you hire packers, be ready and packed before the crew arrives, advises Andrew. “Scrambling for boxes will delay your move and increase your cost.”

11. Protect Your Valuables. Find a safe place to store your valuables on moving day. Insure anything that’s valuable or breakable if you’re using a moving company. And if you’re moving a computer, do a quick backup of important files just in case something happens in transit.

12. Delay Home Deliveries. If you’ve made some new purchases, such as a couch or dining room suite, schedule the delivery after moving day. That will help you focus your attention on moving day itself and will avoid any congestion between delivery people and the movers.

13. Don’t Mistake Trash For Your Belongings. Try to avoid packing things in garbage bags. Well-meaning friends or family could accidentally throw them out on moving day.

14. Hook Up Essential Services. Make sure you understand how utility bills (gas, water, electricity) will be transferred over to you from a previous owner. Also, arrange to have your phone line, cable and Internet working if necessary.

15. Find A Pet Sitter. If you have a pet that could be traumatized by a move, arrange to have them stay somewhere during moving day. If you’re hiring movers for a long-distance move, be sure to arrange your pet’s safe transport to your new home.

Lambton Kent District School Board

For a full list of available elementary & secondary schools, including locations, calendars, bus schedules and other useful information, please refer to the Lambton Kent District School Board website.

For a full list of available post-secondary schools in Chatham-Kent, please refer to the Chatham-Kent website.

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