The Riz Team Blog

Posts Tagged ‘house’

Flooring choices on the greener side!

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

What goes under foot is seldom an easy decision. Colour, surface texture, room usage and price all come into play. Today, greener options abound, adding to the myriad of choices already available.

Increasing interest in incorporating renewable resources into the home has resulted in many beautiful eco-friendly flooring options.

For homeowners looking on the greener side, it’s worth a look at the many sustainable products available today:

• Give a tree another lease on life with salvaged wood flooring. A rustic look can be created with reclaimed wood. Buying reclaimed lumber continues to get easier, and in some instances, less expensive relative to the cost of new hardwoods.
• Bamboo is a good option for rooms with low humidity. High abundance and a natural look make sustainable bamboo an attractive flooring option. Bamboo grows to maturity in three to five years, about a quarter of the time it takes to grow trees used for hardwood.
• Linoleum flooring has retained its popularity over decades. Unlike vinyl flooring, which is a synthetic product made of chlorinated petrochemicals, linoleum is manufactured from natural compounds including linseed oil, cork dust, tree resins and ground limestone. With natural, renewable elements used in its manufacturing, this eco-friendly flooring option continues to remain a popular option.
• Cork flooring has many eco-friendly attributes. Like bamboo, cork is quickly renewable. It is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree and grows back every three years. Cork has anti-microbial properties to reduce allergens, is fire retardant and provides a comfortable feel under foot. Cork flooring can be finished in a variety of paints and stains to complement any room setting.
• Polyester (P.E.T.) Berber carpet is a sustainable option made of recycled plastic bottles. Anytime we can reuse these materials, we reduce the amount of new materials being manufactured and we reduce non-biodegradable materials in our landfills. Polyester Berber is spill resistant and comes in a variety of aesthetically – pleasing colours and patterns.

Whatever your home’s style or design, an eco-friendly flooring option exists to complement the desired look and existing patterns.

Looking to Make a Small Room Appear Bigger??

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Helpful hints in making a small room appear bigger!

Small rooms are the bane of the home decorator. How do you achieve a pleasing look that doesn’t feel cramped and claustrophobic? Short of building an addition or knocking down walls, you are limited to a few, but effective, decorating tricks that create the illusion of space.

The strategic use of colour and light is the best way to achieve this. Choose light shades of paint or wallpaper for the walls. Lighter colours reflect light making for a brighter room. Use an even lighter shade of the same colour or white for ceilings and floors. A darker colour on the ceiling will make the ceiling look lower and tends to make the walls look as though they are closing in.

Avoid harshly contrasting colours. In fact, a monochromatic colour scheme that carries throughout the room into fabrics and accessories is very effective. Steer away from too many patterned items. The goal here is to blur perspective.

Anything you can do to bring light into the room will also give the effect of increased space. A corner wall sconce that casts light up onto the wall works well. Try to vary lighting effects for interest. A skylight is a great way to add light to a room, but isn’t always practical or affordable. Mirrors are a great solution for small rooms. Place mirrors directly across from another for maximum impact. A mirror placed across from a window is also effective. Place a lamp in front of a mirror to add more light to your room.

If you have wood or patterned flooring, have it installed so that the lines run diagonally across the room. This makes for longer lines, which give the appearance of a larger space. When furnishing the room, pick objects that are proportioned to the size of the room. For example, opt for a loveseat over a full-sized sofa. Lastly, keep the clutter to a minimum. Avoid using a lot of knick-knacks and keep the room tidy and well organized.

Viewing an Open House with Open Eyes

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

open house two

Remaining objective can be a difficult task when viewing an open house. It is easy to fall in love with a home’s appearance, blind to problems that may make it unsuitable. While aesthetics can be an important consideration, it is necessary to look beyond window-dressing.

Aqualified home inspector should be hired before purchasing a home, but there are areas that consumers can examine on their own. This will shorten your list of potential homes and reduce the likelihood that a home inspector will reject it as unsafe or unsuitable. Here are some considerations and common problem areas to look for when touring an open house:

General Upkeep

Much can be surmised from the general state of the home. Is the home clean? Are lawns left uncut? Are the walls chipped and in need of paint? If smaller chores have been ignored it may be an indication of a broader disregard for home maintenance.

Water Leaks

Check ceilings and drywall for stains, bulges and other signs of water damage. Water that works its way inside via a leaky roof or a cracked foundation can rot wood, create mildew and mold, destroy possessions and can be expensive to repair.

Does it Work?

Test lights, faucets, the heater, air conditioning, major appliances (that are to be included with the home) – even flush the toilets to ensure everything is working as it should.

Floors

As you walk across the floors be aware of spongy (soft or springy) sections. Excessive squeaking and uneven, bumpy floors may also be indicative of expensive forthcoming repairs.

Doors & Windows

Check that doors and windows fit snugly in their jambs and operate smoothly. Look for flaked paint and loose caulking. If the wood around windows and doors is not protected from moisture, it can rot away. Feel for drafts in these areas too.

Poor Drainage

On a wet day walk around the yard and look for areas where water collects. This can be an especially bad sign if there are soggy areas near the home’s foundation.

Grout & Caulking

If the grout and caulking around bathroom and kitchen tiles is loose and crumbly, there is a good chance that water is finding its way into the wall or under the floor.

Structural

Although this is definitely an area where you want the services of a qualified home inspector, you can get an idea about possible structural problems if you see deep cracks in the foundations or loose mortar and bricks.

Miscellaneous Concerns

Naturally, one the most important factors will be determining if the house suits your family’s needs. If you do not want to replace all of your furniture, make sure it will fit into the rooms of the new house. This is difficult to do by eye, so be sure to bring a measuring tape. Also, take note of 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.

 

Preparing your home for a sale!

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Are you ready?

 

When you have decided that the time is right to sell, the first step in preparing for the sale of a home is finding out its worth. Contact me for a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on the recent selling price of similar neighborhood properties.

Working to ensure your home is in the best condition possible for showing to prospective buyers will position you to receive top dollar. This includes repairing or improving any trouble spots that could deter a buyer, such as squeaky doors, a leaky roof, dirty carpet and walls, and broken windows.

The first impression that potential buyers form of your property as they drive or walk up should not be underestimated. The “curb appeal” of your home is extremely important. You can create a positive first impression by making sure the lawn is pristine – the grass cut, debris removed, garden beds free of weeds, and hedges trimmed.

However, the trick is not to overspend on pre-sale repairs and fix-ups. This is especially important if there are few homes on the market but many buyers competing for them. On the other hand, making such repairs may be the key to selling your home in a down market.

Don’t Put it on HOLD…..Call RIZ to get it SOLD!!!

First Impression Counts!

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

… For Buyers and Your Neighbours

The summer months are the perfect time to freshen up the exterior of your home. Whether it’s for your pleasure or to impress potential buyers, you’ll boost your home’s curb appeal with these good old-fashioned cleaning tips:

– Edge the gardens, clean out debris
– Pull the weeds and rake the leaves
– Prune the plants and wooly shrubs
– Plant some urns by the entrance and flowers to the beds
– Tidy the garage of winter trappings
– Dispose of rusty broken garden décor
– Put out a fresh welcome mat and oil the front door
– Paint the windowsills, mailbox, and anything else that is looking tired
– Place clear light bulbs in exterior fixtures, and ensure burned out bulbs are replaced
– Reseal the driveway
– Hide the garbage cans
– Sweep the step
– Fix the saggy gutters

Who says cleaning has to hurt? Get the kids involved! Borrow or buy a power washer and have fun cleaning siding, windows, sills, railings, decking and patio furniture.

Buyer beware the ‘as is’ clause

Friday, January 25th, 2013

The “as is” condition might mean the homeowner does not have the time or money to make repairs, or in the case of a foreclosure or estate sale, the seller may not be familiar with the condition of the house.

By Joe Richer |   Fri Jan 25 2013 |  moneyville.ca

Q: What do I need to know about buying a home listed in “as is” condition?

A: When a home is listed for sale “as is,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is in a poor state of repair. The term simply means the property is being sold in its current condition and the seller will not be making any repairs to complete the sale.

The “as is” condition might mean the homeowner does not have the time or money to make repairs, or in the case of a foreclosure or estate sale, the seller may not be familiar with the condition of the house.

Whatever the reason, if you’re interested in the property, the only way to know the true condition is to have a home inspection carried out. Consider including a contingency clause in your offer based on your satisfaction with the inspection. If a deficiency with a budget-busting repair cost is uncovered during the inspection, you’ll want the option to walk away without penalty.

The advantage of an as is sale is the purchase price may be comparatively lower than similar properties in the neighbourhood. But be sure to factor in the cost of repairs and renovations when accounting for the total cost of the purchase.

Buying as is isn’t for everyone. If you’re planning to ask the owner to address a defect or are unwilling to follow-through on the purchase if the inspector finds anything wrong, you’re probably best to avoid making an offer on an as is property.

If you have a question for Joe, email askjoe@reco.on.ca. Joseph Richer is RECO’s registrar and is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at youtube.com/recohelps.

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Why more home sellers are listing in January

Friday, January 11th, 2013

With an uncertain housing market, more homeowners are opting to put their houses on the market in January. Here are some tips for buyers and sellers to negotiate a safe and successful winter home sale!

By Mark Weisleder |   Fri Jan 11 2013|  moneyville.ca

January is a slow month for real estate as most sellers choose to wait until the middle of February in the hopes of capitalizing on the early spring market. However, given the uncertainty in the housing market right now, more sellers are opting to put their house on the market in January.

This presents an opportunity for buyers. Most people are reluctant to uproot their families during the school year, so that means less competition — and fewer bidding wars. Lenders will not be as busy, so buyers can expect a more efficient process to get approved for a mortgage to ensure they have financing in place before making an offer.

But there are things you simply won’t be able to inspect during the winter. Here are some tips for protecting yourself when making a deal during the winter months:

Sellers

Spruce up the outside: Use urns with light wood branches to brighten up the exterior of your home, to compensate for any overcast day or snow on the ground.

Get rid of the Christmas lights: homes that look dated on the outside give the impression that they are probably dated on the inside.

Make sure your fireplace is working during any showing, that the temperature is comfortable in the home and that any interior lighting compensates for what is usually grey lighting from outside.

Have pictures of your landscaping available from the summer and autumn, showing how beautiful your home looks year round.

Have available any inspections that you may have done on your air-conditioning unit or swimming pool before they were closed for the winter, as buyers will likely not be able to conduct inspections on these items and will have questions.

Consider inviting a company to do an environmental audit on your home in advance, confirming that there is no moisture behind the walls that could lead to mould and that you have sufficient insulation behind the walls.

Buyers

If there is anything that cannot be inspected because of the winter, such as the air-conditioning system or any swimming pool, then negotiate an extended warranty in the agreement, to give you until at least May 1, to inspect and have the seller be responsible for any damages. In addition, also negotiate a holdback of, say, $2,000 so that if a problem arises, the money comes out of that fund to fix it and you don’t have to chase the seller in court later.

Be careful about snow accumulating around the base of the home. It will be difficult for a home inspector to figure out whether the grading is likely to cause water problems in the basement later. Consider doing your own environmental audit to check for moisture behind any walls.

If the snow on the roof looks like it is evaporating faster than the snow around the house, it is likely a sign that there is not enough insulation in the home.

Check with your insurance company early as to whether you will have any difficulty obtaining insurance on the home; for example, by finding out whether there have been claims made in the neighbourhood about water damages or sewage backups.

Check whether snow accumulation makes it more difficult for street parking, as this may be the only parking available on certain streets. Also see how bad weather may affect your morning commute.

Check the last electric/gas bills, to determine how energy efficient the home is in winter.

People tend to hibernate and stay at home in the winter, so take the opportunity to get to know the neighbours before you finalize your purchase.

By being properly prepared in advance, buyers and sellers can negotiate a safe and successful winter home sale.

Read more stories from Mark Weisleder: click here.

Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer. Contact him at mark@markweisleder.com

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How to Flu-Proof Your Home

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Show winter illnesses the door by keeping the house as germ-free as can be. This Old House has some time-honored tips for making your house a healthy home.

Jeanne Baron • This Old House online

Protection Begins at Home

As the official influenza season begins—and fears about swine flu ramp up—it’s important to find ways to keep winter’s ever-present illness at bay. That’s especially true this year, as one in every 20 outpatient doctor visits will be for the flu, as influenza is commonly known—twice what it is in an average year.

But dealing with the virus that causes the flu can be tricky. Health officials recommend getting a yearly flu vaccine, and they urge everyone to protect themselves with one time-honored tactic: wash your hands, well and often. That may be the single best way to stop the disease in its tracks.

But in case you find yourself facing an encroaching onslaught of the illness though coworkers or school-age kids, This Old House has a few strategies to make life as hard as possible for the flu—or any germs, for that matter—to take root in your house.

Watch Out for Germy Hot Spots

The sink, the telephone, children’s toys, and doorknobs are popular landing sites for virus and bacteria.  If someone is sick at home, disinfect daily, especially the remote control and the phone. Charles Gerba, microbiologist and author of The Germ Freak’s Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu, says remote controls and countertops can be the germiest locale in the whole house. “What’s the first thing you do after you call in sick? Pick up the remote control,” he says. “Sixty percent of them contain influenza virus in the home of a sick person.”

In fact, Gerba says, remote controls are the germiest thing in hotel and hospital rooms. And since a virus like influenza spreads through touching something a sick person has also touched, or an object that’s been sneezed on, cleaning off the places your hand usually goes is most important.

Find out more from Health.com about the germiest places you’re likely to encounter during an average day.

Disinfect the Desk

According to Gerba, the home office is another place to watch out for germs. “Desktops have 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat,” he says.

Gerba says to disinfect your desktop weekly, along with the rest of the house. This could reduce your exposure to colds and flu by as much as 50 percent.

Don’t Forget the Sponge

Your kitchen sponge should be replaced every couple of weeks. If that runs counter to your frugal ways, you can microwave it for one minute or run it in the dishwasher to eliminate germs.

Stop Pushing Germs Around

Beware of dust rags, dishrags, mops and other cleaning tools. Unless sanitized between uses, they only spread around the germs you are trying to kill. “It’s a free ride for the virus,” says Gerba. Some of the cleanest houses he’s tested had the highest germ counts. And get this: a few untidy bachelor pads tested very low for germs, which he attributes to lazy housekeeping. “They don’t move anything around, everything is in the sink or the garbage.”

But you don’t have to descend into bachelor habits to defeat contagion. Gerba advises heavy reliance on paper towels. If you don’t want to stockpile disposable towels, wash and dry cleaning tools at high temperatures so your house is clean and germ-free.

Examine Product Claims Closely

There’s a lot of goods that tout themselves as “anti-bacterial” on the label, from floor tile and paint, to hand cleanser and magic markers. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of 500 products that disinfect hard, non-porous, surfaces against flu. It includes common household cleaners such as Pin Sol, Clorox, and Lysol.  Look for the word “disinfect” or “sanitize” on the label; that means the EPA has tested and approved its germ killing power.

Some alternatives such as lemon juice, tea tree oil, oregano oil, or lavender oil have properties that kill microbes. But according to University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, these natural alternatives often work more slowly, impact a smaller spectrum of microorganisms, and kill fewer of them than products that have passed muster with the EPA.

Put It In the Wash

Modern technology can help do the disinfecting for you through powerful cleaning. If you’re already shopping for appliances, take a look at the list of household appliances cited by the NSF (formerly the National Sanitations Foundation). The group has certified dozens of germ-fighting appliances, including dryers, dishwashers, and washing machines.

Make Handwashing Fun

There are at least six occasions each day when children should wash their hands. So the Visiting Nurses Associations of America, in partnership with the Clorox Company and Families Fighting Flu, Inc. has launched a program to help people ward off the virus. They created a handy refrigerator chart to get children involved in proper handwashing. It teaches them to keep track of all the daytime activities when handwashing is important: before mealtime, before playing with babies, after playing with friends, after coming home from school, after using the bathroom, and, of course, after every cough or sneeze.

Pick Your Cutting Board

While the question of whether wood or plastic is a cleaner surface for a cutting board is more about food-borne pathogens than about flu virus, it’s worth noting that germs of any kind can live on either one. And food poisoning is as much an issue these days as the flu.

So which is safer? The Food Safety Laboratory at the University of California at Davis is leaning toward wood. Plastic cutting boards can go right in the dishwasher, a virtue that’s won favor among many germ slayers. But if you are washing by hand, a knife-scarred plastic cutting board holds onto bacteria, and wooden cutting boards do not. Robert Donofrio, Director of the microbiology laboratories at NSF, says to be safe, have one board for veggies and another for meat. Plastic boards must be washed in a dishwasher. Wooden boards should be made of hard, closely-grained woods, such as maple.

Think Copper

Bacteria and viruses can live about twenty minutes on your sleeve or couch cushion. But they can live a couple of days on the countertop, or other hard, non-porous, surfaces…unless that surface is copper. The EPA has approved copper and copper alloys, such as bronze and brass, as a bacteria killer, and ongoing research suggests it has anti-viral properties, as well.

These days it’s not hard to find copper sinks for the bathroom or kitchen, or even doorknobs and switch plates in the trendy metal. Or go vintage and pull out that classic brass hardware for your home.

Humidify

Some scientists believe an increase in humidity can make it harder for viruses to thrive and multiply, and using a humidifier can help create this inhospitable environment for the flu.

But be careful; humidifiers can breed bacteria. Individual units must be cleaned regularly, and a whole house system serviced yearly—preferably when it’s deactivated in the warmer months, says Barney Burroughs, President of Building Wellness Consultancy and former president of The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers.

Honeywell TrueSTEAM Humidification System, about $550 to $900

Find out more from Health.com about how humidifiers can help beat the flu.

Go Ultraviolet

Air purification can make a small amount of difference in stalling viruses, according to Burroughs, though few strategies offer complete protection. While bacteria, pollen and allergens are airborne risks, viruses mostly spread by touch.

However, ultraviolet air purification systems do keep mold and fungi, both of which can aggravate the flu, from developing in your heating and cooling system.

Honeywell TrueUV Ultraviolet Treatment System, about $285

Be Bullish on Air Filtration

The most benefit you can get from technology comes from air cleaners. Modern filters mostly catch larger particles such as bacteria, pollen, mold spores, but any virus traveling on a larger host can get caught by the filter. “It’s not a see all, fix all. It will reduce, but not eliminate exposure,” says Burroughs.

There’s one caveat, though: The system must be working 24/7 to be effective. “It only works if the fan is blowing,” says Burroughs. When properly used, a system like Honeywell’s Electronic Air cleaner captures 99 percent of the larger particles, and some of the smaller particles, too. And that’s one good way to keep the flu virus from spreading in your home.

Honeywell F300 Electronic Air Cleaner, about $955 to $1280.

After you’ve flu-proofed your house, take things one step further with secrets from women who never get sick from Health.com.

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Canadian House Prices Edge Up in Third Quarter While the Number of Home Sales Fall

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

First-time buyer activity drops as market adjusts to new mortgage regulations

TORONTO, October 3, 2012 – The Royal LePage House Price Survey released today showed the average price of a home in Canada increased year-over-year between 1.8 and 4.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2012.

Survey findings indicated that the average standard two-storey home in Canada increased 4 per cent year-over-year rising to $403,747, while detached bungalows rose 4.8 per cent to $366,773. Standard condominiums witnessed an increase of 1.8 per cent to $243,607. Most cities in Canada experienced modest price appreciation in the quarter, but fewer homes were sold compared to the same period in 2011.

“A drop in the number of homes trading hands typically precedes a period of softening house prices. Where there is reduced demand, those who want to sell their homes adjust their asking price to stimulate interest. During the third quarter, unit home sales were positive in July, fell 9 per cent year-over-year in August and we are expecting September to show a decline as well,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive, Royal LePage. “We had predicted this cyclical change early in the year, a natural market reaction after a period of strong expansion. Changes to mortgage regulations, which took effect on July 9th, accelerated the correction.”

In July, the Minister of Finance announced that the maximum amortization period for insured mortgages would be reduced to 25 years from 30 years. This was the fourth intervention in the mortgage market in just four years and the most impactful. Potential first-time buyers, which in a typical market represent one third to one half of all purchase transactions, felt the changes immediately.

“While hard-hit in the short-term, first-time buyers will adjust to tougher mortgage qualifications. The dream of homeownership is very much alive among young Canadians. They may remain renters for sometime as they save; some will opt for less desirable neighbourhoods and some will purchase smaller homes,” added Soper. “In the meanwhile, we will feel their absence in national sales statistics.”

Canadian consumers were bombarded with troublesome economic news from around the globe during the period, particularly in the early weeks of the third quarter. While this has been a drag on the nation’s housing market and contributed to a slowing in home sale transactions, consumer confidence appeared to rebound in September, which should support activity in the important fall market.

“Policy makers in Canada and the United States have confirmed that the current period of very low interest rates will continue, likely through 2013. This is very supportive of housing market activity and any downward pressure on home prices should be minimal,” said Soper. “And for the first time in six years, sustained positive news from the American housing market should leave Canadian’s more confident about our continued economic prosperity.”

National average house price changes do not always reflect the markets of individual cities, which are closely tied to their local economies. Case in point, some $29 billion in energy related investments are now underway in Alberta and Calgary is expected to lead the nation in economic growth through 2013. The city posted healthy price appreciation for both detached bungalows and two-storey homes, as predicted in previous Royal LePage House Price Surveys and Market Survey Forecasts.

“When the underlying economy of a city is sound and growing, house price appreciation is sustained. Calgary has enjoyed solid growth in home values this year. I have also been very pleased with the growth in commercial brokerage transactions seen in our Royal LePage Commercial business in the region,” said Soper.

 

Regional Market Summaries

Halifax’s strong employment levels led to average price increases across all three housing types surveyed. Detached bungalows continued to witness the largest year-over-year gains, increasing 8.9 per cent to $293,000. Detached bungalows in St. John’s witnessed the largest average price gains across Canada, rising 9.9 per cent, as mega-projects continue to boost migration.

Despite a decline in market activity, Montreal’s house prices posted healthy increases in the second quarter of 2012. Standard two-storey homes witnessed the largest average price increase, rising 5.5 per cent to $387,786.

Healthy employment in Ottawa’s technology sector balanced job loss in the government sector as the region posted healthy average price increases across all three housing types surveyed, with house price gains ranging from 4.9 to 6.1 per cent.

Average house price gains in Toronto ranged from 2.7 to 5.9 per cent for housing types surveyed. Although demand decreased modestly due to mortgage rule changes, the pipeline of potential buyers continued to put upward pressure on detached bungalows and standard two-storey homes. Multiple offers are still very common in the region.

Winnipeg’s real estate market produced average price gains ranging from 6.5 to 8.3 per cent as first-time buyers remained fairly active, despite recent changes to mortgage rules.

Low inventory coupled with demand created by low interest rates continued to put upward pressure on average year-over-year price gains in Regina. Standard-two storey homes posted the largest increase of 9.8 per cent rising to an average price of $359,500.

Calgary’s healthy market activity and increased consumer confidence has led to house price gains in the third quarter for detached bungalows and standard two-storey homes, increasing 6.5 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively. Detached bungalows in Edmonton posted strong price gains rising an average of 7.5 per cent in the third quarter, while two-storey homes increased a modest 1.5 per cent and standard condominiums declined 0.6 per cent.

In Vancouver, average house prices posted modest decreases as market activity slowed down during the third quarter. Standard condominiums posted the largest decrease, slipping 3.0 per cent year-over-year to $498,000.


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