Original article HERE - | Aug 1, 2017
The dog days of summer are barking and Labor Day is just around the bend, signaling the end of yet another epic season in the sun. But before you give your flamingo pool float one last hurrah, take a break with some home maintenance prep for the changing season ahead.
We know what you're thinking: It's still summer, and you're being a buzzkill! Why worry now about what you can do next month? Well, as it turns out, some home maintenance tasks are best tackled in August, before temperatures start dipping.
Don't worry: We’re here to make all those chores as quick and easy on you as possible. With our handy checklist of home maintenance tasks, you can knock 'em out and be back to your barbecues and beach days in no time.
1. Check your washing machine connections
With the kids home from school and loads of sweaty garments to clean, your washing machine has likely taken a major beating this summer. With all that extra use, be sure to check that the water supply hoses which connect to your machine are in good condition.
"If they are older black rubber hoses, check for any bulging in the hose or any parts that look worn," says Tony Dunaway of BEST Plumbing of Cincinnati.
DIY: If you have worn hoses, you can swap them out with replacements for as little as $25, but it'll take you some effort. After you've turned off the water supply to the hoses, use adjustable pliers to loosen one hose at a time from the water supply, and then from the washing machine. You'll also need to make sure your new hose has a rubber washer in each end. If your hoses are made of rubber, consider upgrading and replacing them with rupture-proof, braided stainless-steel hoses.
Call in the pros: A pro will save you the effort, but you'll shell out around $140 for the job. How much are your days in the summer sun worth to you, anyhow?
2. Prune dead wood from your lawn and garden
Now's the time to tidy up your perennials and clear those unsightly dead twigs and branches, according to Tony Smith, president of Nursery Enterprises in Rexburg, ID.
Not only will you have a more attractive yard, but "by cleaning them out this summer, you'll create a clean slate—and next summer you'll have a better grasp in understanding your plants' health." Smith says.
DIY: You'll need pruners, a saw, and loppers (or a chain saw) to really attack this job.
Call in the pros: If the mere thought of wielding a chain saw gives you the heebie-jeebies, call in a professional landscape company to do the deed. The cost depends, of course, on the extent of the work and the size of your yard, but expect to pay at least $400 to $700 for a reputable, licensed tree trimmer.
3. Clear the gutters
Summer thunderstorms can clog your gutters and lead to costly water damage down the road. Properly functioning gutters direct water away from your home, but muck and debris can cause water to collect around your home's foundation and seep into your basement, if you have one. (Clogged gutters also make great homes for rodents and other vermin, just in case you needed another reason to tackle this task.)
DIY: Grab a ladder and shimmy up to the roof to inspect your gutters and drains, taking care to wear proper hand and eye protection. A simple garden trowel is effective for clearing most debris.
Call in the pros: Scared of heights? The average gutter job will run you around $150.
4. Deal with wasps, mosquitoes, and other insects
Wasp activity peaks in late summer; these insects become more aggressive and likely to sting in, you guessed it, August. So you'll want to spray for wasps and eliminate them, pronto.
DIY: "The first step to eliminating a wasp nest is to identify where the colony lives," says Dave Patterson, owner of Tactix Pest Control in Boise, ID. "Scan your lawn, looking for activity close to the ground. Once you find where the wasps are coming and going, apply wasp treatment to the entrance. Repeat this step every few days until you no longer see any activity."
Patterson also recommends patrolling your property for stagnant water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
"First, drain any areas that are holding water—this step alone should significantly cut down on mosquito activity," he says. This means birdbaths, planters, or any other places where rainfall might have accumulated. "For further prevention, invest in forms of mosquito repellant like citronella candles, mosquito traps, and bug zappers."
Finally, check the seals around your home, including doors, windows, and dryer vents. Caulk or expanding sealants should be more than enough to seal most openings, according to Patterson.
Call in the pros: The national average cost of wasp removal ranges between $100 and $400. The cost of mosquito control depends on a variety of factors, including property size and treatment frequency. An entire summer of mosquito treatment could run $500 or more, but you're more likely to get a deal now that it's later in the season.
5. Clean your natural stone
“After a summer filled with nonstop grilling fests, family gatherings, and just general outdoor fun and wear and tear, it’s important to properly clean natural stone around your home—whether it's outdoor granite countertops, stone walkways, or patios—to prevent food, dirt, and oil stains from setting in and leaving permanent marks," says James Freeman, chief operating officer of Colonial Marble & Granite.
DIY: Start by dusting off stone surfaces, because abrasive materials such as dirt or sand (carried home from weekend getaways) can cause damage. Avoid using harsh cleaning products on natural stone; instead, choose a gentle cleanser with a neutral pH (preferably without soap, which causes streaks and film) and a soft cloth. For a longer-lasting finish and better protection against stains and grime, consider applying a water-based penetrating sealer.
Call in the pros: For serious stains, call in a professional stone maintenance company to restore your stone. Expect to spend anywhere between $400 and $1,100, depending on the level of grime.
6. Get your furnace prepped for winter
“When residential furnaces fail, they typically do so during the coldest days of the year, which is why it’s important to have these systems inspected in August, before temperatures drop,” says Michael Petri, owner of Petri Plumbing & Heating, in New York City. “An annual tuneup and inspection can help homeowners save money, maintain comfort, and ensure safety when units are turned on for the first time in several months.”
Call in the pros: There's no shortcut for this one; maintaining your furnace is something you'll want to defer to a pro. Typically, HVAC companies run prewinter specials for this kind of work, so keep your eyes peeled for deals—but expect to spend between $130 and $450.
Great article underlining the importance of understanding everything you sign in a real estate agreement! Contact me for any details or information on what you need to know.
Original article found HERE
There's nothing like the humdrum of paperwork to bog down the excitement of a house hunt. But much like opening a new bank account or purchasing a car, buying a home comes with its fair share of contracts to sign and legalese to decode.
Arguably the first contract that comes into play for buyers is a Buyer Representation Agreement (commonly abbreviated to BRA).
A BRA is a legally binding contract that puts in writing that you will work exclusively with one real-estate brokerage for a certain amount of time. So, why would you sign a BRA as a buyer and what do you need to be aware of before putting your name on the dotted line?
HERO IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGES
Below, TheRedPin has outlined the six key facts you need to be aware of regarding BRAs:
1. There are benefits to signing a BRA for home buyers
A home is a huge financial and emotional purchase, and a BRA helps bring some much-needed clarity and formality to the process.
By a signing a BRA, you can outline all your wants and needs for a property (legally on paper), clearly outlining all the services your realtor is obliged to deliver and remove any possible concerns around how commissions will be paid out.
A BRA also makes it so a real-estate brokerage has a fiduciary responsibility to work in your best interest and ensures they're prohibited from sharing anything you'd like to be kept private from the home seller. Remember, while your agent is helping you find a home, technically, they're also working with the seller's agent to get a deal closed. With a BRA, you can rest assured knowing your agent isn't sharing anything without your explicit permission.
2. Signing a BRA isn't a legal requirement
You don't have to sign a BRA and you can hire a real-estate agent when buying a home without putting anything on paper. While some agents have it as a personal customer-client requirement, many agents are receptive to working without a BRA in place.
The big takeaway here is, don't let anyone rush you into signing paperwork under the guise it's a legal requirement.
3. You don't have to buy a home even if you signed a BRA
BRAs have an expiry date and you can negotiate with your realtor the extent of the contract period.
Also, you're not required to buy a home during the BRA period, so if you negotiated a one-month contract with your agent, don't worry, you won't actually have to put an offer on a home during that time. A BRA can expire without you ever buying a home.
A BRA is a legal agreement, so take that into account when signing off your name and initials.
4. BRAs help sort out commissions
Real estate commissions are confusing, but BRAs go a long way in clearing them up.
As a buyer, you don't directly pay any commission to your realtor, as they receive their earnings from the home seller. However, in some cases, such as when the property you're looking at is a for sale by owner, you may have to fork over the commission yourself.
In such cases, a BRA helps clarify what percentage of a property's selling price you would owe to an agent. This helps remove any confusion around how and by how much your agent will be compensated ahead of time.
If you want to read more about how realtor commissions work, make sure to read TheRedPin's blog post here.
5. Keep an eye out for the holdover period
The holdover period is a clause present in most BRAs that all buyers should be aware of because, in those rare situations where it can come into play, it can add up to thousands more in unexpected commissions for buyers.
When does the holdover clause apply?
Let's say your agent showed you a home, and you liked it but didn't put an offer down. Once your BRA expires, you decide to go to the home seller directly (or with a different agent) and sign an agreement to purchase the property. If you do so during a short window of time after your BRA with the first agent expired, you may still have to pay them commissions.
The holdover clause is meant to protect the buyer's agent to ensure if he or she was responsible for showing you the property, they get appropriately compensated.
6. Read the fine print. BRAs can be tough to cancel
While some agents may be willing to cancel a BRA before it expires, that won't always be the case. A BRA is a legal agreement, so take that into account when signing off your name and initials. If you do face issues and an agent isn't willing to scrap or amend the contract, raising your concerns with your agent's brokerage should be your first course of action.
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Just one of the great things REALTORS® do for their community! Our thoughts are with those affected by the wildfires!
REALTORS® across the country have so far raised over $154,000 for the Red Cross BC Fires Appeal to support the communities affected by the ongoing wildfires in BC.
These donations are helping people impacted by the fires by providing cots, blankets, family reunification, and financial assistance for food, clothing and other personal items.
“The people in the affected communities are in need and it’s important that we all do what we can to help,” Jill Oudil, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) president said. “It’s great to see our communities come together during this time. I’ve heard from REALTORS®, and real estate boards, across the country who are contributing money and fundraising. I encourage everyone to continue this work to support our fellow British Columbians.”
BC wildfires have destroyed more than 300 buildings, including 71 homes, since April and have burned more than 6,060 square kilometers in the province, according to Emergency Management BC.
In addition to numerous individual REALTOR® donations, real estate boards from across the province, including REBGV, have made donations totalling $80,000. This total includes a $40,000 donation from the BC Real Estate Association.
REALTORS® are continuing to raise money by organizing fundraising events across the province. In Metro Vancouver alone, REALTORS® have held fundraising events in North Vancouver, Richmond, Maple Ridge, Coquitlam, and Vancouver over the last month.
“The work we’ve done so far is a great start but there’s more to do. People are still in need and we’re continuing to urge our REALTOR® members, and all British Columbians, to do what they can to help,” Oudil said.
Some evacuation orders have been lifted, but more than 145 wildfires are still burning across BC. We’re encouraging our REALTOR® community to make donations through this national REALTORS Care® Foundation page.
Interesting article out of Huffington Post this morning:
Original article can be found HERE
Daniel Tencer - Senior Business Editor, HuffPost Canada
With a new foreign speculator's tax in place in southern Ontario and tighter new mortgage rules nationwide, many of the country's housing markets are showing signs of cooling off.
"Based on a survey of real estate boards that we conducted earlier this month, home sales declined on a [year-on-year] basis in July in most large Canadian cities west of Ottawa," National Bank economist Marc Pinsonneault wrote in a client note Monday.
"If that trend persists, home price growth might decelerate in these regions."
Sales were down 40.4 per cent in July in Greater Toronto, following the introduction of a slate of new housing rules by the provincial government, including expanded rent controls and a new 15-per-cent foreign speculator's tax.
In Greater Vancouver, sales slid 8.2 per cent lower this July compared to the same month a year ago.
Still, the latest edition of the Teranet house price index, which is put out in conjunction with National Bank, shows strong year-on-year price growth: The index was up 14.2 per cent in July from the same month a year earlier, the same pace as the previous month.
"The Teranet-National Bank data comes from a land registry, and so transactions are recorded in the land registry about one or two months after the sale is recorded in the (multiple listing service) system," he told BuzzBuzzHome last month.
"When you have a sudden shift in price trends, it's plausible that the Teranet-National Bank index will be lagged with the MLS [data]."
That shift in price trends seems to have taken place in Greater Toronto, where Toronto Real Estate Board data shows the average resale house price has already fallen 19 per cent from its peak. It was $746,218 in July, down from $920,791 in April.
But the latest Teranet house price index shows prices in Toronto were up 28 per cent in July from a year ago — though, again, that number may be lagging the reality in the city's market.
In Greater Vancouver, the benchmark price of $1.02 million is 8.7 per cent higher than a year ago, a solid increase though much slower than the double-digit increases seen until last year. That's in line with Teranet's house price numbers, showing an 8.6 per cent increase over the past year.
Pinsonneault singled out two housing markets that are bucking the trend and doing better these days: Ottawa and Montreal. He called them "two areas where the Teranet-National Bank Home Price Index was at a record level in July."
House price growth accelerated to around 4 per cent in Ottawa and 5.5 per cent in Montreal on a year-over-year basis.
Pinsonneault predicted "pressure on home price growth" from new regulations that require borrowers of insured mortgages to undergo a "stress test" to ensure they can afford higher rates, and from Ontario's new housing rules.
"Downward pressure is likely to be more acute in regions where affordability has been eroded by past price escalation, while home prices should be more resilient in regions where homes are more affordable," Pinsonneault wrote.