Next to a major kitchen renovation, replacing appliances is the most expensive way to upgrade the space. So if you’re purchasing a new refrigerator, stove, or dishwasher in order to make your home more attractive to buyers, you want to make wise purchasing decisions.
 
The most important consideration is how the appliances will look in the kitchen. Ideally, they should match in color and style. They should also be the right size for the space. The last thing you want is a fridge that’s so large it dominates the room or a stove that’s a completely different style and looks out-of-place.
 
Appearance is important, but so are the features. Buyers viewing your home will scrutinize the appliances. They’ll notice if the fridge has cold water and an ice dispenser. They’ll ask if the dishwasher has noise-reduction features.
 
Double ovens and quick-heating burners (which are now available on electric stoves) will also get a buyer’s attention. Power consumption is also a big issue these days. Increasingly, buyers are interested in the energy-efficient features of a home — appliances included.
 
So, as your REALTOR® I would point out appliances with energy-saving features, such as a dishwasher with a slow-run cycle that saves power. Kitchen appliances may seem minor compared to the overall appeal of your property, but they do make a difference. Purchase wisely! 
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You’ve seen fire extinguishers in commercial environments, such as schools, stores, and workplaces. Does it make sense to have one in your home?
 
According to the experts, yes. In fact, a fire extinguisher can quickly put out a blaze that would otherwise quickly grow out of control.
 
There are several types of fire extinguishers that are made especially for residential use. That means they put out the most common fires that occur in the home (Class A, B & K fires), and they are easy to handle and use.
 
Since most residential fires happen in the kitchen, that’s the best place to keep your extinguisher. Make sure everyone in your household knows where it is and how to use it.
 
Keep in mind that a home fire extinguisher is meant for small fires that are easy to put out, such as a pan of vegetable oil igniting on the stove. If you find you can’t control the blaze within a few seconds with the extinguisher, get everyone out of the home and call the fire department.
 
Also, never attempt to fight a major fire yourself. Leave that to the professionals.
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When is the best time to meet with a REALTOR® like me? Chances are, you would say, “When I’m thinking of buying or selling a home.” You’d be right, of course!
 
However, there are many other good reasons to meet with me. Here are just a few:
 
• You want a professional opinion as to the current value of your property, so you know what it would likely sell for in today’s market.
• You notice a home listed for sale in a desirable neighborhood, and you’re interested in learning more — even if you’re unsure you want to make a move.
• You’re thinking of moving within the next couple of years, and you want to find a REALTOR® like me, that you can get to know and trust.
• You want some recommendations for preparing your home for sale and especially determining what repairs and other work needs to be done.
• You want an honest assessment as to the state of the local market, and the best time for you to buy or sell.
• You have real estate-related questions and you want to talk to an expert who knows the local market well and can provide you with answers.
 
As you can see, there’s a lot of value you can get from talking to me as your REALTOR®. Call today!  778.256.2888
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What is a ‘Buyer’s Market’?
 
I wish my economics professor broke down supply and demand for me in relation to real estate as I probably would have understood it a lot better back then. This law of supply and demand states that a supply increase amid a constant demand puts downward pressure on prices, creating a ‘Buyer’s Market’.   A demand increase amid constant supply puts upward pressure on prices, creating a ‘Seller’s Market’.  Fort St. John is currently in a Buyer’s Market if you haven’t noticed all the for sale signs on people’s lawns. 
 
We have over 700 listings currently in Fort St. John including residential houses, duplexes, land, and mobiles.  Since January, we have only seen 200 sales to July 31st.  Last year, during the same period, we saw half as many listings with twice as many sales.  The slowdown in the economy due to lower oil prices and waiting for more local jobs with BC Hydro’s Site C dam has caused some buyers to put their home shopping plans on hold for the time being.  If you have a stable job, have some money in savings at the moment, and plan on staying in Fort St. John for at least 3-5 years, then there is no better time than right now to buy!
 
Let’s look at the numbers behind that reasoning.  If you think you will stay here for the next 3 years and rent, you will probably want a nice place.  There are some great deals out there but a nice place is still approximately $1500/month for a 3 bedroom, 2-bath house.  $1500 rent for 3 years would mean that you will be giving your landlord $54,000!  Holy down payment Batman!  Wouldn’t you rather put that money back in your own pocket?
 
The real estate market was busy in FSJ for many years.  For 5 years we experienced 8-10% appreciation each year.  We had people making $50,000 on their homes in the hot seller’s market in one year.  There were, however, some buyers that were being pushed out of the market as they were not able to afford the high prices and bidding wars.
 
Oh how times have changed!  We have seen prices dip approximately 10% depending on the home.  Some sellers are more motivated than others.  Those Buyers that were historically pushed out of the market, are able to make some great buys!
 
1. Get a great deal. In a buyer's market, the seller has to work much harder to generate interest in his/her property. A buyer expects a home to be in excellent condition or priced at a discount, and could often secure a purchase agreement for less than the seller's asking price for the property.

2. Buyers can command concessions. Realtors look at properties every day.  We live it, we breathe it.  We see the great deals out there - and there are quite a few - so make sure you are working with a great Realtor to let you know what’s available to help you get the best deal. Some developers such as this one (//www.century21.ca/eli.chi/Property/BC/V1J_0G8/Fort_St_John/8620_82_Street) have not only reduced the price by $25,000 but are also offering to cover your closing costs up to $2,000, and include the fence and landscaping (another $10,000 value).  Talk about getting your money’s worth!  Ben Graham taught me that “Price is what you pay; value is what you get”.  #OMChi!

3. Contingent offers are more acceptable. Sellers are more willing to accept an offer that is subject to the sale of the Buyer’s existing property.  In the glory days, you wouldn’t even think about making an offer unless you already had your home sold.  These days, sellers need to be more flexible but you can still protect yourself as a Seller by adding a time clause so you don’t risk losing a potential Buyer.  Ask your Realtor for more information on this.
 
4. Request for repairs is more negotiable. If the home is in need of some repairs, Sellers will often credit the buyer for the repairs or fix the problem(s) noted by a home inspector.   It’s recommended that if you are thinking of selling your home, you get a home inspection done so you can proactively take care of any potential problems that may arise.
 
5. Buyers control the transaction. Buyers can ask for a longer subject removal time frame and extend closing deadlines – terms that would be automatically rejected in a seller’s market.  Taking two weeks to satisfy the conditions of your contract are typical and you should have seen a mortgage specialist beforehand so unless there are uncontrollable circumstances, you should be able to remove your conditions in that time frame.   
 
When you are hunting would you rather be out there when there are lots of people hunting or fewer people? Obviously when there’s less competition.  If you were on the fence before about buying a home and you are trying to ‘time the market’, it would make sense to be shopping when there is more selection and sellers are competing for your business. NOW is that time!  Call me and let's start shopping!
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So you’ve finally decided to buy your next home. The problem is while you were making up your mind, other fence sitters jumped into the home market too. Now you may be facing some competition for the best properties. What to do? Just because there are other buyers in the market doesn’t mean you can’t come away with your dream house. But to be a successful buyer in today’s real estate market you’re going to need help.
 
Your first best move is to know a few inside tricks. As an experienced real estate professional I have fifteen ways to increase your chances of landing a prize property despite heavy competition. The following tested tips will increase your market savvy and sharpen your competitive position. Then you’ll be ready to act quickly the minute you see that perfect house. Call me to get started!
 
1. Keep Your Money Where It Is. Up to six months before you begin thinking about purchasing a home, avoid making large purchases and do not move money around.  You don’t want to take any chances with your credit profile.  Lenders need to see that you’re reliable and they want a complete paper trail so they can get you the best loan possible.  If you open new credit cards, amass too much debt or buy a lot of big-ticket items, you’re going to have a hard time getting a loan.
 
2. Get Pre-Approved for Your Home Loan.  There’s a big difference between a buyer being pre-qualified and a buyer who has a pre-approved mortgage. Anybody can get pre-qualified for a loan. Getting pre-approved means a lender has looked at all of your financial information and they’ve let you know how much you can afford and how much they will lend you. Being pre-approved will save you a lot of time and energy so you are not running around looking at houses you can't afford. It also gives you the opportunity to shop around for the best deal and the best interest rates.  Do your research.  Just like no two Realtors are the same, no two mortgage specialists are ever the same.  Get the one that works hard for you.  Do you need help finding a great mortgage specialist?  I have worked with a number of mortgage specialists and know which ones will work best for your situation.  Give me a call and I can guide you through this.  Helpful hint: It’s not always about the lowest interest rate.
 
3. Don’t Try To Time The Market.  Trying to anticipate the housing market is impossible.  The best time to buy is when you find your perfect house and you can afford it.  Real estate is cyclical, it goes up and it goes down and it goes back up again.  At the end of the day, however, real estate historically goes up.  You just need to have time.
 
4. Bigger Isn’t Always Better. There’s an old adage in real estate that says don’t buy the biggest, best house on the block.  Sometimes it is best to buy the worst house on the block and put some sweat equity into it.
 
5. Avoid Sleeper Costs. Most people just focus on the mortgage payment.  There are other costs when purchasing a home, and there are other costs to maintain the home.  A good Realtor will explain some of these additional costs. 
 
6. Be a Cool Cat. Buying a house based on emotions is just going to break your heart. If you fall in love with something, you might end up making some pretty bad financial decisions. There’s a big difference between your emotions and your instincts. Going with your instincts means that you recognize that you’re getting a great house for a good value. Going with your emotions is being obsessed with the paint color or the backyard. It’s an investment, so stay calm and be wise.
 
7. Give Your House a Physical. Would you buy a car without checking under the hood? Of course, you wouldn’t. Hire a home inspector. It’ll cost about $500 to $600 but could end up saving you thousands. A home inspector’s sole responsibility is to provide you with information so that you can make a decision as to whether or not to buy. It’s really the only way to get an unbiased third-party opinion. If the inspector does find any issues with the home, you can use it as a bargaining tool for lowering the price of the home. It’s better to spend the money upfront on an inspector than to find out later you have to spend a fortune.
 
8. Secret Science of Bidding. Your opening bid should be based on two things: what you can afford (because you don’t want to outbid yourself), and what you really believe the property is worth. Make your opening bid something that’s fair and reasonable and isn’t going to totally offend the seller. A lot of people think they should go lower the first time they make a bid. It all depends on what the market is doing at the time. You need to look at what other homes have gone for in that neighborhood and you want to get an average price per square foot. Sizing up a house on a price-per-square-foot basis is a great equalizer. Ben Graham taught me that “Price is what you pay; value is what you get”
 
9. Stalk The Neighbourhood.  Before you buy, get the lay of the land – drive-by morning, noon, and night. Many homebuyers have become completely distraught because they thought they found the perfect home, only to find out the neighborhood wasn’t for them. Drive by the house at all hours of the day to see what’s happening in the neighborhood. Do your regular commute from the house to make sure it is something you can deal with on a daily basis. Find out how far it is to the nearest grocery store and other services. Even if you don’t have kids, research the schools because it affects the value of your home in a very big way. Check out more information on local Fort St. John schools here (http://www.prn.bc.ca/).  
 
10. Do NOT Buy Any New Toys. Once you have an offer in on a property, remember to continue paying all your bills on time - especially your cell phone bill.  Also, do not go out and celebrate by buying a new truck or quad.  Do not quit your job.  All this affects your qualifying and the lender can change their decision on providing you with financing for your home purchase.  I have seen it a couple of times where people buy a new toy or they quit their job just before they get their keys for their new home.  They will provide financing as long as your finances DO NOT change.  If it changes, the lender can change their mind about lending you money.
 
11. Sweat Equity Will Save You Money. A lot of times, Buyers are looking for a home that is in pristine condition.  If not, Buyers are able to ask for a discounted price in a Buyer’s Market (reference back to “5 Advantages of Buying in a Buyer’s Market”).  There are more options available typically to Buyers that are willing and able to put a little sweat equity into the property. 
 
12. Beat the Competition to the Newest Listings.  Once you know your specific price range, your real estate agent can regularly do a computerized market sweep for new listings.  Pick an active Realtor that will work hard for you and will keep an active eye on the market for you.  This will give you a head start on the other Buyers because you will get to see the listings before they are advertised.  Timing can be a vital part of your home buying experience.  There is a misconception that nothing is selling.  There are homes selling, just not as fast.  There are some great deals out there that are selling, but you have to be first to the table. 
 
13. Prove You Mean Business.  An excellent way of showing the Seller you are serious about buying the house is to include a good faith deposit along with the offer you make.  This deposit could be as much as 5% of the offer price and surely will attract the seller’s attention. 
 
14. Don’t Be A Loner. What you need most in today’s market is experienced professional guidance. As your neighborhood real estate specialists, we can help you get pre-approved with the right lender, find a prize property, and negotiate the best deal on your next home no matter how heated the competition. Call me today and take advantage of my connections and experience.
 
Now that you have these tricks and tips under your tool belt, call me, and let’s get started.  These are just fourteen of my tips and tricks. Imagine what else I could help you with.
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