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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Winter Is Coming.... Is Your Home Ready?


Well, there's no getting around it any longer: Winter is coming.  
 
A couple months back, we talked about getting your home ready for the fall, and getting a jump on the cold weather. Now that the cold weather is here to stay, it's about time to winterize your home - unless you're a keener, and already have it ready to go.  
 
In my earlier post, we talked about having your furnace checked. If you haven't done this yet, get on it! Having a properly functioning, efficient furnace will not only save you money over the winter months, it may well save you a heck of a hassle if it conks out at any time.  
 
We also talked about sealing up door and window drafts. This is a relatively easy, low cost way of saving money on heat. All it takes is some time, some clear caulking for your windows, and maybe a weather strip or two for your doors. You can also get those window shrink-wrap kits from most major retailers, which will really help cut down on drafts from north and west facing windows when the wind starts howling.  
 
Now is also a great time to add some extra insulation. Make sure that your attic or upstairs is properly insulated, and cover up any openings where warm air could flow. Insulation is relatively cheap, and you can often install it yourself.  
 
If you have some extra cash, or you're looking to change up the blinds in part or all of your home, consider installing cellular shades. Cellular shades are a great way to insulate windows from the cold, or keep the cool air in during the hot summer months. If you can only afford to add these to a few windows, again consider the north and west facing windows where we get the coldest winds here in Manitoba.  
 
And finally, if you have a large home with rooms that you don't make much use of, consider closing vents and doors to those rooms to keep the warm air from circulating into unused areas of your home. The rooms will still remain warm, thanks to your insulation and regular air flow, they just won't be as toasty warm as your living room or bedrooms.  
 
These are just a few ways to help winterize your home, and save you money over the cold, winter months. Try a couple of them out, and enjoy the warmth of your home this hockey season!

Filed under: Ryan Shields,  Century21Westman.com,  Century21,  Brandon Manitoba Real Estate

Posted by Ryan Shields @ 10:35 | 0 Comments | E-mail this blog entry to a friend | PermaLink


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

5 Key features Todays Home Owner Looks For


There are many factors that homeowners consider when buying or selling a house. How much room do you need? What's your budget? What's the neighbourhood like? With so many angles to consider, it can quickly become overwhelming.  
 
Over time, what homeowners want out of a home can change. What was popular twenty years ago might not be what people want out of a home today. It's important to keep up with trends as a realtor, so that we can help our clients find a home that is right for them.  
 
Consumer Reports came out with an interesting post the other day about what homeowners are looking for in today's market. It was an interesting list, and definitely a subject that one should keep in mind when looking to buy. The folks over at Consumer Reports identified the following features that topped homebuyers lists in 2013.  
 
Proximity to work. With costs of transportation an issue on many people's minds, finding a home with a lower commute time topped many homeowners lists of key features. Whether commuters were simply looking to cut some time off of their daily commute, or live a walkable or bikeable distance from their work place. This is especially true of younger, first time buyers.  
 
Energy efficiency. Not surprising considering costs of heating and cooling your home these days, energy efficiency was right up there in terms of features homebuyers value. In previous posts, I've discussed some cheap ways that you can improve the efficiency of your home. If you're looking to sell your home, it would be a good idea to highlight ways you've improved the efficiency of your home. If you're looking to buy, chances are you'll be looking for as efficient a home as you can afford.  
 
Storage, storage, storage. Homebuyers today are looking to make the most out of their space. According to Consumer Reports, "This change reflects the more realistic mindset of today's homebuyers. These savvy house hunters are thinking honestly about how they really live, day in and day out, rather than falling for some fantasy version of what life might be." If you're looking to sell your home, try highlighting the storage potential of your space.  
 
Quality over quantity. According to the folks at Consumer Reports, "smart homebuyers understand that a well-designed 2,000-square-foot home will live larger than a poorly planned one with 3,000 square feet or more." This is great for homeowners who feel they are ready to sell their home, and really value the quality of the space they are in, as it will be an easier sell to those in the market.  
 
Connecting with the outdoors. One feature that is making a big comeback is a connection to the outdoors. Whether this is in the form of a front porch, a back deck, or proximity to local parks and greenspace, homebuyers want to be  
connected to the outside of their homes like never before.  
Consider how you make your connection to your front or back yard when selling your home, and highlight those key areas. It might just prove to be the selling point.  
 
Of course, this is just a sample list of features that are proving to be the most popular across the board. But every home and every homeowner has different needs, and will value different things. If you're in the market for a new home, or are looking to sell the one you're currently in, call us up and we can figure out just what your particular needs are, and go about making sure you've get the service that's just right for you.  
 
Ryan Shields is a real estate consultant with Century21westman.com in Brandon Manitoba. If you would like to contact Ryan regarding your current residential situation or just to ask general questions about homes for sale in Brandon Manitoba you can contact Ryan at 204-573-1060 or ryan.shields@century21.ca

Filed under: Ryan Shields,  Century21,  Brandon Real estate

Posted by Ryan Shields @ 12:17 | 0 Comments | E-mail this blog entry to a friend | PermaLink


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How Much House Do You Really Need?


When buying a home - whether it's your first home or your second or fourth - one important aspect to consider is size.  
 
While the trend in North American homes lately has been to 'build bigger,' there are many benefits to buying small.  
How much square footage do you really need in a home? When it comes time to make your next home buying decision, keep the following considerations in mind.  
 
Take a look at your lifestyle. - Take into account the uses you make in your home current home, and how you anticipate the uses you'll make in your new home. Are you out & about regularly, or more inclined to stay in with a movie? Do you regularly host large gatherings, or family visiting from out of town? How you make use of your space is a big factor in determining how much space you really need.  
 
What are your future needs?  - Do you see your family expanding any time soon? Or will some of your family be leaving the nest? Will your income be growing as your career advances? Or will your income in retirement be enough to cover your taxes and utilities? It is important to consider all your possible needs for the next five to ten years when thinking about the size of a home you will need.  
 
How much do you want to spend on energy needs?  - The math is quite simple, really: smaller homes use less energy than larger homes. Less square footage to heat = less cost on your monthly bill. Of course, you will need to ensure that your appliances, fixtures like windows, toilets, and taps, and your insulation are all high efficiency. But on the whole, smaller homes will drastically cut back on your energy needs.  
 
While there is no "one size fits all" to home buying, a smaller home is certainly something to consider when entering the market. Often times, they are cheaper to buy than larger homes, and cheaper on your annual tax bill.  
 
If you have any questions regarding the perks or draw backs of large homes vs. small homes, don't hesitate to contact me. I am here to help you find the house you've been looking for.  
 
Ryan Shields is a real estate consultant with Century21westman.com in Brandon Manitoba. If you would like to contact Ryan regarding your current residential situation or just to ask general questions about homes for sale in Brandon Manitoba you can contact Ryan at 204-573-1060 or ryan.shields@century21.ca

Filed under: Ryan Shields,  New Home Construction,  Brandon Real Estate,  Century21

Posted by Ryan Shields @ 10:57 | 0 Comments | E-mail this blog entry to a friend | PermaLink


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First Time Home Buyer Tips


Being a first time homebuyer can be intimidating. What do you do? Where do you begin?  
Don’t worry. Plenty of people have been in your position before, and we are here to help you through the process.  
As a little primer for first time homebuyers, I’ve assembled some basic tips you should consider when you begin to think about buying that first home.  
 
1 – Shop Around.  
 
When you’re looking for your first home, or any home, it makes sense to see what’s out there before deciding to settle. Some people suggest applying a 100-10-3-1 method. Take a look at 100 houses in your area(s) of interest. Narrow that field down to 10 homes you are willing to visit and take a close look at. From those 10 homes, determine for favourite 3, and place an offer on one of these homes. With luck, 1 of them will be your new home. While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, the idea is a great one to get you started.  
 
2 – Know What You Can Afford.  
 
For first time buyers, it is important to know just how much you can afford, month to month, to spend on your home. Keep in mind that the maximum monthly amortization should only be 40% of your take home pay. Try to get the best rate you can for your mortgage. This may take some shopping around, but it’s worth it! And your mortgage is not your only expense. Keep in mind that you will be on the hook for property taxes, insurance, and utilities. You should also be putting money aside for repairs and upgrades to your home.  
 
3 – Perform due diligence before buying. This is an important step in the process of buying your first home. When you’re inspecting your 10 favourite homes for sale, be thorough. Inspect the exterior of the home (roof, gutters, foundation, etc) as well as the inside (bathrooms, basement, insulation, etc). If you don’t necessarily know what you’re looking for, bring somebody you trust along with you for the inspection. This could be a family member with home buying experience, or a friend who is a journeyman carpenter or electrician. These people will surely be able to notice aspects of the home that you might miss.  
 
4 – Protect your home and your family.  
 
When purchasing a home, make sure to take into account the cost of insuring your investment. It is important not only to buy house insurance, but life insurance as well. That way, if – heaven forbid – you or your partner are seriously injured or die, the other partner will not be left to foot the whole bill themselves. The costs may seem high, at first, but it is far better to be safe than to be sorry.  
 
Hopefully, you’ll find these tips helpful. They are by no means the last word on home buying. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help you find a home that you are happy with.  

Filed under: Ryan Shields,  First Time home buyer,  

Posted by Ryan Shields @ 10:54 | 0 Comments | E-mail this blog entry to a friend | PermaLink


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Big Renovation Returns On A small Budget


Upgrading your home is important when you hope to capitalize on your investment. But you just can’t always afford to accomplish major renovations. This shouldn’t deter you though. Luckily, small scale projects can go a long way towards increasing the value of your home.  
 
From installing higher quality windows, to replacing your siding or your front door, homeowners are finding that the little things really add up over time. According to Remodeling Magazine, homeowners are seeing good value for their investment in small scale remodeling projects.  
 
Even little things like caulking windows and applying weather strips to doors can increase the energy efficiency in your home, adding value. Caulking and weather proofing materials are also cheap, and easy to do yourself.  
 
Another small scale project you can undertake without breaking the bank are some simple touch ups to the kitchen. While full on kitchen renovations can run upwards of $50,000, according to Kliplinger Magazine, little touches like updating the hardware on your cabinets, installing under cabinet lighting, or installing a backsplash are great ways to improve the look of your kitchen on a small budget.  
 
Replacing the fixtures in your bathroom is another little job that can really turn around the look of your space. Swapping your old fixtures for new, high-efficiency fixtures is a great way to not only improve the look of your bathroom, but its energy efficiency as well, increasing the value of your home for resale.  
 
Finally, just slapping a fresh coat of paint to key areas in your home – entryway, kitchen, family or living room – can improve the look of your home when it comes time to sell. If you have the time and patience to do a thorough job yourself, then this becomes a no-brainer.  
 
There are plenty of ways to improve your home on a budget. If you’re planning on selling your home in the coming year, or you’ve just moved into a new place, these are just a few ways to keep yourself busy while adding value to your home. Try them out for yourself and let me know how they go!  
 
Ryan Shields is a real estate consultant with Century21westman.com in Brandon Manitoba. If you would like to contact Ryan regarding your current residential situation or just to ask general questions about homes for sale in Brandon Manitoba you can contact Ryan at 204-573-1060 or ryan.shields@century21.ca

Filed under: Ryan Shields,  Brandon Manitoba,  home renovations,  Century21

Posted by Ryan Shields @ 16:06 | 0 Comments | E-mail this blog entry to a friend | PermaLink


My Recent Entries

 Winter Is Coming.... Is Your Home Ready?
 5 Key features Todays Home Owner Looks For
 How Much House Do You Really Need?
 First Time Home Buyer Tips
 Big Renovation Returns On A small Budget
 You Have Just Renovated Your House, Why Isn't It Selling?
 Dressed for Success from the Outside In
 What Makes Up A Residential Offer To Purchase?
 Five Tips for Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time
 Buy before I Sell or Sell before I Buy???

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