A Helpful Guide on Selling Your Home with Ease this Spring

As soon as spring rolls around, the “Home for Sale” signs start popping up all over BC like wildflowers. The Penticton real estate market is no different, and with the recent upswing in activity here, I’m frequently asked “What can I do to get my home ready to sell?” Here are a few tips to ensure your home sells fast and gets top dollar.

  1. Quit Calling It “Your” Home

If you’ve been in your home for a long time, selling can be an emotional rollercoaster, so let’s turn to Elsa from Frozen for advice: “Just let it go.” Stop thinking about it as “your home” and let go of the sentimental attachment you have to it. I know, I know. It sounds harsh but the sooner you accept that someone else will be living there, the sooner you can move on and focus on your new home. There are a few tricks that help with this: take the time to say goodbye to every room, recall the good times you’ve had there and picture the happiness of another family doing the same, or envision yourself handing over the keys to the new owners. Trust me, it helps.

  1. Pack Away Your Personal Stuff

What I said above about having an attachment to something? It affects potential buyers too. They have a hard time seeing past personal artifacts like family pictures and heirlooms because it causes them to think “I wonder who lives here?” instead of “I could see myself living here!” By taking down your stuff, potential buyers get a blank slate to envision their own pictures on the wall, free of any bias or distraction. Plus, you get a head start on packing.

 

 

  1. Organize

People love to snoop. It’s human nature. Buyers will go through everything, so take a bit of time to organize the little things in your home. Simple stuff like having neatly stacked dishes, turning coffee cups so the handles face the same way, or lining up miscellaneous items (shoes, spices, books, etc.) sends a message to anyone viewing your home that if you’re willing to organize the little things, you’ve probably taken care of the big things too.

  1. Clean and Repair

Ever been to a garage sale where things were worn out and dirty? Did it make you want to buy anything? If you weren’t willing to drop a toonie on something in bad condition, what do  you think the odds are someone will give you hundreds of thousands of dollars for your home if it’s filthy and falling apart? People want their new home to be move-in ready and doing a few minor repairs and making your house is spotless can add thousands to your asking price. Patch holes, fix leaky faucets, paint, replace burnt out light bulbs… it all adds up to the image of a more complete, well cared for home. This is a great checklist to help make sure your home looks its best.

There you go. This quick list should put you on the right path to selling your home. But you know what would help even more? Me! If you’re planning to put your Penticton home up for sale, get in touch. I’ll work with you to make sure we get the most value possible out of your current house and find you the ideal south Okanagan property to start making new memories in.

Tips For Waste Reduction

What are the 5 R’s of Waste Reduction?

Zero Waste

1) Reduce 

The most important part of waste minimization. Reducing waste means not purchasing goods to begin within, limiting your consumption to mostly needs and limited wants, saying no to excess packaging, and one-time use items.

2) Reuse

Second most desirable on the waste minimization triangle. Reuse includes repairing broken items, finding new purposes for or donating old and unused items, and using things like reusable shopping bag and water bottles as alternatives to single-use items.

3) Recycle

Recycling is what you do if you CANNOT reduce or reuse an item. Recycle as much as possible to keep material out of landfills. Remember that not properly sorting recycling can do more harm than good, to learn more about how to sort your recycling by visit the Curbside Recycling or Landfill Recycling Depot pages.

4) Recover

As it applies to waste minimization, is reclaiming energy or recyclable materials from the waste stream.This is typically done by waste to energy technology.

5) Residuals

The last phase in the triangle. Residual management is the final treatment and/or disposal of a waste that cannot be used in any other way. This means disposing of it in your curbside garbage cart, or taking it to the landfill.

At Home:

1) Recycle More & Better

Most materials are in-fact recyclable. Did you know that when we don’t properly sort recycling (i.e. plastic bags in curbside recycling) it can make the whole recycle truck end up in the landfill? Learn more about recycling by visiting the Landfill Recycling Depot and Curbside Recycling pages.

2) Make Use of Leftovers

Try ‘Kitchen Sink’ recipes to reduce food waste. Use old vegetables, leftovers and products gone unused to keep edible food out of landfills. Recipes like quiche, stir-fry’s, and soup are all good examples of putting leftovers to use, not only will this reduce waste, but it saves money!

3) Avoid

Do not use single-use items in your home. Consider ceramic dishware, metal or bamboo cutlery, and glass products instead of their disposable counter-parts. Use cloths instead of paper towel. Simple switches can go a long way.

 

 

 

 

In Your Yard:

1) Consider Composting

A large portion of waste in landfills is in-fact compostable material that could have been re-purposed into good-for-your-garden compost.  Vegetable scraps, egg shell, coffee grinds, tea bags and more can all be composted.Interested in composting at home? Check out the RDOS compost bin sale by clicking here. For more information on composting at home click here.

2) Try ‘Grasscycling’

Grasscycling is the practice of leaving grass clippings on the lawn after mowing. Letting clippings decompose naturally back into grass restores Nitrogen, helps lawns retain water, and keeps lawns healthy. Grasscycling keeps lawns green,and reduces yard waste going to landfills. To learn more about natural lawn care click here.

3) USE Your Compost

Using compost not only gives plants the nutrients they need to grow strong, but helps them retain water. This reduces irrigation needs. Further, using compost limits the need for other garden products(i.e. fertilizers), keeping your lawn green and saving you money! Learn more about compost here.

 

 

 

 

Shopping:

1) Bring Your Own

Bring your own grocery bags, mesh net bags for produce, and containers for packaging goods and carrying them. Keep containers and bags in your car or purse to ensure they’re always with you and not forgotten!

2) Buy Bulk

Consider purchasing bulk goods which can be put into reusable containers, bags and your own packaging. This eliminates unnecessary waste from packaging, lets you purchase the correct amount for your needs (no excess), and re-purposes old or unused containers.

3) Know Your Needs vs.Wants

Only purchase items you know you’ll use. Distinguish needs from wants. Ask yourself: is this a one-time use item or do I already own something similar? Am I purchasing this on an impulse or have I thought about it for at least a month?

 

 

 

 

General Tips:

1) Eliminate Single Use

Bring a reusable coffee mug with you to avoid using paper coffee cups which either requires recycling (using energy and resources), or ends up in landfills. Use refillable water bottles instead of plastic ones. Many shops offer a small discount for bringing your own mug, ask at the counter.

2) Reduce Your Emissions

Summerland is a community where many people are fortunate to live close to work, grocery stores, schools etc. Where it is feasible, consider walking, carpooling, or biking to where you need to go. Reducing your carbon footprint significantly contributes to a waste reduction lifestyle.

3) Be Water Conscious

Water is a limited resource in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. Try reducing your shower time, washing only full loads of laundry, and washing in cold, instead of hot water. Water plants and compost piles with leftover “grey water” from bathing, washing dishes, etc. Be sure that water doesn’t contain any harmful soaps.

5 Simple Ways You Can Sell Your Home For More Money   

The real estate market in the Okanagan is really hot, which means as a home-owner, you’re likely sitting on a good chunk of change if you decide to sell. To increase the value of your home even further, consider these 5 ways you can make more money from your house sale. 

  1. Regular Home Maintenance Is Must 

If there’s one thing you should never neglect as a home-owner, it’s keeping up with regular home maintenance. Simple jobs like patching up small holes or scratches in the walls, repairing drafty windows and doors, and fixing leaky faucets and toilets can all work wonders when improving the value of your home, especially in this hot market. Annual maintenance check-ups are a good habit to get into, but if you notice something needs repairing, try to do it right away so you have less work later.  

  1. Contemporary Sells 

Still have the same paint job you did when you bought the house twenty years ago? It’s time to freshen up the interior. Choose a neutral colour scheme like grey or white and find ways to off-set the light shades with pops of colour to suit your personality and style. By modernizing your home, it’ll become easier to sell when it’s time to put the house up for sale.  

  1. Landscaping Is Important

You’ve heard it before, but first impressions are everything, especially where property is concerned. Learn how to garden, and plant some nice flowers at the front of the house. Ensure weeds are being pulled, shrubs are being trimmed, and grass is being mowed. You don’t want to scare away a potential buyer with a bad first impression.  

  1. Energy-Efficient Upgrades Are Helpful

A major seller in real estate is creating an energy-efficient home. Buying “green” is important to property hunters so if you’re able to replace big ticket items like your old, outdated H-VAC system to energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, then you’re already helping your listing generate more attention. Minor swaps like replacing your old light-bulbs to LED or CFL bulbs and replacing your drafty windows to upgraded energy-efficient windows are two great ways to conserve energy, which will help sell your home faster and at a higher price. 

  1. Renovate If Necessary 

Renovations are expensive, but at times, necessary. Ask yourself: If I renovate, will my property value increase? You know better than anyone if it’s time for some minor or major renovations. Seek out what people are looking for in a home. Usually, it’s an open concept living space, a modern and spacious bathroom (or multiple!), and a nice deck or patio to enjoy the Okanagan sunshine. If your home is outdated, cramped, and cold, it could be time to upgrade before you sell. 

Ready to put your home up for sale in the Okanagan? I have just the tools you need to help sell that house fast and at top dollar. Just fill out the form on my website to get started.    

5 Easy and Cost-Effective Ways to Create an Energy Efficient Home 

Improving a house’s energy efficiency is something every home owner should practice. It doesn’t have to be hard or even that expensive. Not only will it keep you more comfortable within your own four walls but you’ll also be doing your part in protecting the environmentHere are 5 inexpensive and simple things you should try.  

  1. Insulate the House

If you own a poorly insulated house, you’re basically watching the energy costs drain your bank accountReduce those expensive utility bills by ensuring ceilings, walls, floors, and the attic are tightly sealed. Simple maintenance can include plugging up bigger holes, applying weatherstripping to the attic access panel, and sealing small holes with expanding foam or caulking followed by an insulation covering.  

  1. Use a Clothesline 

While it’s true that using a dryer makes laundry easier, there are major benefits to drying your clothes on a clothesline insteadSpending a few extra minutes hanging up your shirts with clothespins eliminates bacteria and dust mites while of course, conserving energy and cutting greenhouse gases. Another highlight? Using a clothesline makes a definite win for your wallet.  

  1. Get New Light Bulbs

Do you still have old, incandescent bulbs lighting up your home? These should be replaced as soon as possible. A compact fluorescent lamp uses 80% less energy and lasts 10 times as long as a regular bulb. By simply swapping out your inefficient light sources and installing new bulbs like CFLs or LEDs, you’re looking at an easy and cheap way of reducing unnecessary energy consumption 

  1. Repair or Replace Bathroom Fixtures 

Most home-owners will likely experience leaky faucets at one point or another, but the commonality of the problem doesn’t make it any less annoying. The worst part? You’re essentially tossing money right down the drain along with all the water your toilet is wasting. Swapping out your bathroom fixtures with sturdy faucets and showerheads and replacing your old toilet with a new, low-flow model will start saving you money over time.  

  1. Upgrade Windows and Doors

If you’ve been noticing drafty windows and doors, the breeze is likely wreaking havoc on your heating and cooling billsThe simple solution? Upgrade windows and doors to energy efficient models, especially any single-glazed windows you have in the house. And if you can’t do that, caulking and applying plastic installation to the glass is a good plan B. 

By following these 5 methods, you’re doing your part in improving the energy efficiency in your home as well as making a more positive impact on the environment. However, investing in a new furnace, installing a solar power system, or even moving to a newly-built, energy efficient home are more extreme, yet beneficial choices to also consider. 

Thinking about the ladder? I’ll help you find homes for sale in Southern Okanagan that are already built with energy efficiency in mind. For updated real estate listings that match what you’re looking for in a house, send me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

8 simple ways to save energy (and money) while on vacation

Out of office message? Set. Luggage? Packed. Thermostat? Cranked. EEK!
If you’re like most British Columbians, your home works hard to keep you warm during the chilly winter and cool during the scorching summer months. While it’s bad manners to keep a vacation waiting, take a few minutes before you set off on your beach/tropical/European getaway (#blessed) to ensure your appliances get a break while you’re gone.

Adjust

1. Air conditioning
“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn the AC down.” Just like David Bowie sang (those are the lyrics, trust us), an easy way to reduce energy use and save money is by turning your air conditioning unit down, or better yet, completely off during your summer getaways.

2. Thermostat
During the hot summer months, there’s no sense wasting energy and money by cooling rooms when there is no one home to chill in them. If you’re getting out of town in the winter, your thermostat should be set around 10° Celsius in order to keep pipes and appliances from freezing. With a programmable or smart thermostat, you don’t need to worry about forgetting to adjust the temperature. Smart thermostats can be paired with your smartphone and controlled with an app. Depending on the model, you can even adjust the temperature in your house remotely from the road, plane or beach.

3. Refrigerator
You can save energy while you’re away by adjusting the temperature to higher settings on your refrigerator by one or two degrees. Your food will stay cold and you’ll save money. A win-win!

If you’re heading on an extended vacation, consider cleaning your refrigerator out and turning it completely off. If you decide to go this route, be sure to leave the refrigerator door propped open and some baking soda inside, which will leave your fridge as refreshed as you after your holiday.

4. Blinds and curtains
While your blinds and curtains obviously aren’t consuming any energy, you can use them to keep the heat out during the summer and in during the winter. Be sure to close all blinds and shades to keep the sunshine out and reduce heat gain in your home during the summer. During the winter, closing shades and blinds will keep the cold air out.

Unplug
5. Power vampires
Chargers and computers and printers, oh my! While the spooky season should be in October, phantom power usage is a scary thought year-round. Before leaving home, be sure to unplug all of your electronics, including TVs, DVD players and game consoles, as well as microwaves, coffee makers, toaster ovens, etc. If this sounds like a bit of a chore, try putting your electronics on smart power strips, which automatically shut down power to products that go into standby mode. This will save you the trouble of hunting your home for sneaky power vampires or contorting your body into a pretzel to grab hard-to-reach plugs. Unplugging and powering down can also reduce the risk of electrical fires and protect your items from potential power surge damage. Just like you, your electronics and appliances need to unplug and unwind.

Turn off
6. Water heater
Reduce standby losses, which occur when no one is home to use the hot water, by setting your natural gas water heater to “low” or “vacation mode.” If you have an electric water heater, set the temperature as low as possible.

7. Lights
While you may be tempted to leave a few lights on at home while you’re out of town, this is a waste of energy and can be a dead giveaway that no one is actually at home. If you’re not comfortable turning off all the lights, set them up with automatic timers to deter potential intruders while saving energy.

8. Fireplace
Even when you’re not using your fireplace, your pilot light may still be drawing energy. If you have a natural gas fireplace, turning off the standing pilot light while you’re away can reduce between 600 and 1,500 BTU per hour, and reduce extra heat in your home. A licensed gas contractor can turn it on again during your annual appliance maintenance, so it’ll be safe and ready for fall. Of course during the winter, fireplaces should be turned off while you’re away, but the standing pilot light can be left on so that you can cosy up by the fire as soon as you return from your tropical trip.

Following these simple tips can help reduce your energy use, keep you safe and save you money (to put towards your next vacation, of course).

Take a few minutes to adjust, unplug and turn off your appliances, then kick back and enjoy!

8 Resolutions to Get You Into a New Home in the New Year

It’s hard to believe it’s almost the New Year! With 2017 coming to a close, undoubtedly you’ve started coming up with resolutions for 2018. If one is to buy a new home in the South Okanagan, this post is for you! Below you’ll find a list of eight things to do before you purchase your new house.

1) Decide What You Want

This is the fun part! I recommend making a list of “must-have” and “would-be-nice” things you hope to have in the home. That way, if you can’t find one with everything you want, you’ll at least know exactly what it has to have. Questions to consider include:

  • What kind of house do you want?
  • What neighbourhood?
  • When do you want to move in?
  • Are you going to be expanding your family?

2) Get Your Finances Figured Out

Once you know what you want, it’s time to consider what you can actually afford. Have you saved up for a down payment? What can you handle as a monthly budget? Will you have enough for the closing costs and taxes? Can you afford all the hidden costs of home ownership? There’s a lot of questions here and it’s important to buy something that isn’t outside of your means.

3) Find a Real Estate Agent

I hear that Dan Jones guy is pretty great.

4) Find Your New Home

Alright, back to the fun stuff. Now it’s time to go out and start looking at houses. Since you made that handy-dandy list in step #1, you and your real estate agent (me!) can start sorting out potential homes. Usually you’ll want to look at several before making a decision but who knows? You might get lucky on the first try.

5) Talk to a Mortgage Broker

Truthfully, you could have done this as part of step #2. Talking to a mortgage broker isn’t as intimidating as it seems. They’re there to help you get the home you want but that’ll all depend on your credit rating. It’s worth talking to a few to see who can offer you the best rate.

6) Make an Offer

Here’s where it gets interesting. When you’ve found the home you want, you’ve got a few options:

  • Accept the listed price
  • Reject the price and don’t make an offer
  • Suggest different terms and make a counter offer

How effective option number three is depends on the real estate market in your area. If it’s slow, you might be able to make an offer lower than the listed price and save some money. But if you’re in a hot market, prepare to potentially offer MORE than what the seller is asking for. What you offer will also be determined by the condition of the house. Usually you’ll have a home inspector come in to look things over. If they find potential problems (old furnace, damaged roof, etc.), you might be able to decrease the amount you offer. Again, as your realtor, I can help you figure out this step.

7) Get Insurance

This is easy. You need it. Check out a few different places for the best rate.

8) Close the Deal

Prepare to sign a LOT of papers. This is the step where all the I’s get dotted and the T’s get crossed. Once everything’s all signed up, you’ll get the keys. Then it’s time to start moving in!

There’s one last step… have fun! Sure, there’s a lot of responsibility that goes along with home ownership but it’s an incredible experience. If you want some help buying a home and are looking for a realtor in Penticton, get in touch with me. I can walk you through the process and get you into something you’ll love!