Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

When selling your home it is important to take advantage of every trick in the book to get your home sold as fast as possible and for top dollar. One of these tricks is called Home Staging.

Home Staging is a proven system for preparing properties for sale. It helps to make your house seem bigger, brighter, cleaner and an ideal dwelling for almost any prospect that inspects your home. Staging helps prospects visualize themselves in the house and allows them to mentally make it their home.

Staging is not designed to make your house more liveable for you and your family. In fact, it is a bit of hardship to live in a staged house during the selling process. You and your family will literally be out of your comfort zone. Everything that makes your house your home will for the most part be gone. But remember: this is only temporary.

Having your house on the market can make things challenging for you and your family. At times, your agent will give you short notice that a "hot prospect" wants to see your home right away impacting you and your family. So anything that can shorten the time on the market, like Home Staging, will be well worth it, even if it means a little more temporary discomfort.

Staging is more than just cleaning, painting, and making repairs. Your aim is to present your home in the best possible light to win the hearts of prospective buyers. With Staging, the focus is shifted from the furnishings to the home itself, the views, the space and the unique features of the property. Staging is about getting your house sold.

Home Staging involves de-personalizing your house, reducing the furnishings to bare minimums and creating vignettes inside each room. It may also include the use of the accessories to highlight your home’s best architectural features. Common accessories might include:

  • Mirrors
  • Cut flowers in attractive vases
  • Fresh fruit
  • Up lights, table lamps and floor lights
  • Ottomans
  • Pillows and baskets
  • Scented soap bars
  • Fresh towels
  • Ironed crisp bed sheets

You might be tempted to feel that since you're selling your house and moving to a new one, you don't want to invest any more money into your existing property and save that money for your new home.  Do not make this mistake!

If your house doesn't have that certain appeal and lacks attention to detail, real estate agents will be less inclined to show the property, simply because they know what your competition is doing and their time and their buyer's time is valuable—why waste it on a property they know most buyers will pass on?

Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

The kids are long gone, you’re sick of mowing the lawn, and you’re tired of paying to heat and cool a nearly empty house. Why not downsize?

"Less square footage doesn't necessarily equate to less living". Sarah said while entertaining a small group of friends in here stunning city view location within walking distance of her workplace and health club in downtown neighbourhood.

Sarah's new space fits her tastes and lifestyle, having lived with her husband Jim and two children for over 22 years, she realized that she was a slave to her house. "My two kids had moved out, and the idea of using only two rooms (the bedroom and kitchen) out of six, didn’t make any sense. So with some anxiety, we decided to downsize. I joked with my husband that we would have to give up a lot if we moved into a condominium. What we gave up was flights of stairs, shovelling snow, putting out the garbage, raking leaves, cleaning out the eaves troughs, maintaining the furnace, and landscaping to name a few!" Sarah Said.

"Downsizing is about committing to change as much as it is about deciding where to put the furniture. Instead of dwelling on the negative and what you're leaving behind, think about what the positives are; a smaller space often takes less maintenance, leaving more time for hobbies" she adds.

While moving to her new place, Sarah had to give up many of her possessions, yet by focusing on what she was creating instead of what she was giving up, she was not only able to simplify her lifestyle but found new ways to use some of her most prized possessions.

Condos life has many advantages, because the space is smaller, you may be able to spend more on the quality of live and details. For example, you may be able to afford Italian marble for your kitchen counters because there's less counter space.

As a busy downtown Realtor, Sarah says most of her downsizing clients have decent equity in their existing homes and are moving into the city because they want a lifestyle change. Although they are willing to give up square footage, they still want amenities such as fitness facilities, kitchens with granite counters as well as stainless appliances and spacious master suites.

Condos offer more opportunities to socialize; you will meet neighbours in the halls, the lobby and the laundry room. You will also have the opportunity to meet (and argue!) with them at your association's monthly board meetings. Condo living is a good choice for low-key, sociable types who enjoy getting to know other residents. When buying a condo, keep in mind that happy neighbours are a sign of a responsive, well managed building.

Most condos are equipped with security doors and intercom systems. Many also offer alarms, security cameras, and 24 hour doormen and lots of neighbours. Security conscious buyers and extensive travelers can rest assured that their homes will be watched and maintained while they are away.

A private, waterfront lot with magnificent views is way out of reach for most buyers; Condos ownership makes this attainable for most buyers. With access to luxury, high-end locations such as city center, waterfront, or art-district, is one of biggest perks that condos offer over single family homes.

“Now that I’m a happy condo owner I’ve discovered that my downsized lifestyle offers many upsides. My husband and I are having the time of our lives. We have adopted an active lifestyle, with long walks on nature trails and short hops to local attractions by public transport. We now take in live theatre, music, and ballet. We try out new restaurants and get “recharged” by the breathtaking beauty of the waterfront” Sarah Said.

On average, condos are much more affordable than houses, making them an excellent fit for individuals who want to lower or limit their housing costs. Clearly condos are the economical choice for retirees hoping to downsize, or first time homebuyers trying to enter high-end markets.

In her new one-bedroom loft in the lakeshore neighbourhood, Sarah enjoys a stunning city view . By focusing on what she was creating in her new space instead of what she was giving up, she was not only able to simplify her lifestyle but found new ways to use some of her most prized possessions.

Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

Before making the decision to buy, people shopping for homes consider many factors, including the location of the house, the school district, size of the lot and also interior features. Most buyers insist on a house that grants most of their wishes, but shoppers often settle for a house without getting everything they want.

When it comes to certain interior features, many are willing to spend thousands of dollars above the price of the home to have specific features included. At least 60% of buyers said they would be willing to pay more for central air conditioning, new kitchen appliances and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom if they did not already have these features.

Let's take a look at today's most wanted home features

1. Open concept floor plans — Today’s home buyers desire a floor plan that flows seamlessly from one room to another. An open concept floor plan may not be a feature of many older homes, however, in most cases it can be created with the simple removal of a wall or two. 

2. Eat-in modern kitchens — Kitchens continue to be the social centre of the home. A beautiful kitchen with a large islands that serve a multitude of roles, from food preparation station to homework spot to eating area, is becoming a must-have feature for many home buyers.

It’s very easy to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a kitchen remodeling project, however, there are many ways to update a kitchen without breaking the piggy bank.  Knowing what the current trends are for kitchens is extremely important to keep in mind when completing any remodel or update.

3. Energy-efficient fixtures and appliances  — With energy costs on the rise and growing interest in protecting the environment, today's buyers are conscious of buying homes that are green. Energy efficient appliances and new HVAC (heating, ventilation and cooling) equipment are also top on the wish list.

4. Home office — As technology continues to make us more mobile, many buyers have more options than ever to work from home. Having a dedicated space is important because it will help keep them focused and concentrated on work while they are at home.

Most agents will point out that a room could be used as an office or other flex living space, especially if it is currently used or staged as a bedroom.

5. Main-floor master suite — This is a must feature for empty-nesters and certain other buyers, and appears to be getting more popular in general due to the increase in our aging population.

6. Outdoor living spaces — A Comfortable outdoor space with a dedicated area for sitting, with outdoor furniture that feels like indoor furniture, continues to top must-have lists.

7. First floor laundry — Getting the laundry room out of the basement and onto the main level has become the standard.

8. Smart home technologies — Many of today’s home buyers are very “tech savvy,” especially millennial home buyers.  Home technologies can help increase the “WOW” factor of a home.

Some of the most popular home technology features that today’s home buyers are looking for include:

  • Programmable thermostats, such as a Nest, which can be controlled via a smart phone, tablet, or other mobile device
  • Whole home speaker systems, such as Sonos
  • Keyless locks that can be accessed via Bluetooth
  • Timed irrigation systems

9. Smart storage and dedicated pantry — Dedicated pantry rooms and areas that are specifically designed for storage are becoming more and more appealing to buyers.
10 - Finished basements — Many buyers are looking for a finished basement to use as an entertaining space for a large screen TV or billiards, or even a wet bar.

Other notables
Some other notable features that home buyers consider very important when buying a home include central air conditioning, recessed lighting, hardwood flooring, energy efficiency and the potential to turn a profit should they decide to sell their home in the near future.

Today’s buyers are looking for a little luxury and features and treatments that are the highest quality their price range will permit.