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Questions to Consider Before Meeting With a Home Designer

Wed, 13 Sep by Pauline Relkey

Designers typically charge an hourly rate for design services, so clients should do their homework before meeting with one. Think about what you want, what you NEED and what you can afford. If you think about these things before you meet with your designer, it can save you time and money.

To create a home that best serves you and your family, designers need to know your lifestyle, how you use your space, who uses the space and more. In other words, a designer needs to get inside your head. To help you prepare, here are things you should be able to answer about your space before meeting with your designer.

1. Who uses the space, and what activities will take place there? Having a list of all the uses for the space will help your designer get a feeling for the overall function. Is the room a personal space, like an office or a bedroom? If so, s/he might need to focus on creating an inspiring or a calming atmosphere.

Or maybe it’s a family room that is used by the entire family and needs to be a multifunctional place where teens do homework and everyone watches tv and plays games. Answering those questions will allow your designer to hone in on the function of the space, who uses it and why.

Also look at how big the space is. Does it allow for segregated areas or do we need to use a table as a multipurpose piece for both dining and homework?

Furniture that has multiple functions is a big space saver. A coffee table with a top surface for playing games and for extra seating, as well as a storage area below for books and toys, provides versatility.

2. Does the traffic pattern work in the space, or does the space feel cramped or underutilized? A major walkway should be at least 40 inches wide and the larger the walkway, the better. If you report that you often feel as though it’s a tight squeeze when multiple people are using a space, then a designer may remove the furniture and reconfigure it to accommodate a better flow.

For a kitchen usually islands are preferred over peninsulas if possible. An island opens up the space from every direction of the kitchen, whereas a peninsula allows for only one walkway. Again, it depends on the space, and your designer will be able to help you configure the best traffic flow. Sitting down and thinking about those times you’ve bumped into a family member as you’re cooking will give us clues to the right solution for you.

3. What kind of tasks do you need lighting for? Do you read a lot? Crochet? Or do you watch movies in the dark? The right lighting scheme will make your space more functional for all your tasks. If you tell your designer what you intend to do in your space, s/he can formulate the best lighting approach using task, pendant, undercabinet, recessed, ambient or natural light (via light tubes, skylights or a window), along with wall sconces and uplights.

For recessed lighting, use dimmer switches, which are great for low light while watching movies and giving off a soft ambient glow for entertaining. A table light or floor lamp is good for tasks or reading. Uplights are accent lights that can highlight artwork and collectibles.

4. What items are kept in this room? Let’s say you have one bathroom that’s shared by several family members, and you’re looking to remodel it. When you describe all the things that are stored in the space, the number of people who use it and so on, a designer will help you come up with the right storage solutions while keeping style in mind. For example, open shelving with baskets would give each family member his or her own basket, and would look great. Shallow wall built-ins, such as a medicine cabinet, would provide storage for shampoos, creams and toiletries.

A good designer can help solve storage issues but needs to know what issues should be addressed.

Here’s another example. If your counters are full of mail, keys, homework, magazines, electronic devices and so on, then maybe a main station is for you. A piece of furniture that has numerous compartments or drawers can help store those miscellaneous items.

If clutter collects in your family room, you might consider side tables with drawers or open side tables with a large basket or wooden crate for magazines, books and knitting supplies. Or maybe an ottoman that allows for storing items inside, such as blankets, pillows and things that are used sparingly.

Or maybe the solution is to add a functional piece of furniture storage in one room to help clear out space in another room, like a large armoire in your dining room that can store infrequently used dishware to free up space in your kitchen.

Think of how you do laundry. Do you need one hamper or four? Maybe you prefer to hang clothing rather than fold items after they come out of the dryer. Do you like to stand and fold clothes, or do you put them in a basket and fold them in another room? Do you need a place to iron or just the storage space to keep the iron and ironing board? Again, these are things that will help a designer quickly come up with the right design for you.

5. What look or feel do you want the space to have? Think of what you like in terms of colors, style and overall feel. If you’re looking for a calming environment in the bedroom, then maybe white walls, bedding and furniture are a good approach.

Ii’s recommended that clients create their own ideabook for each space and add comments on each photograph. Think about what it is in each photograph that inspires you, such as the color on the walls, the artwork, a piece of furniture or the overall feeling. Include information and pictures of appliances, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, cabinet and door hardware, and flooring materials if these will be elements in your project.

Consider what speaks to you. Is there anything you personally cherish, example a colorful silk scarf that you love. This could set the tone for your family room. Paint the walls white to provide a neutral backdrop that allows you to add color throughout. Then add a tan sofa with colorful pillows and an accent piece of furniture painted a color taken from the vibrant scarf. A neutral rug can ground the space, and you can bring the scarf colors into other areas of your home through art and accessories, making it a cohesive home.

Don’t box yourself in with one design style, either. Be open to hearing a designer’s pitch on a combination of styles that might surprise you and also save time and money. For example, they might consider looking in other rooms of your home to swap out furnishings that will refresh and bring a new feeling to a room rather than buying all-new pieces. That old vintage chair in the basement could be just the piece you were searching for to break up a modern room.

6. What do you like about the space, and what do you most want to change and why? Not every room needs a total overhaul. In one room you may like a few things, such as the furniture and size of the room, but not the wall colors and rug. Sometimes just adding a few pillows and accessories is all a room needs.

You may like the overall feel of a space, but it may feel cramped with too much furniture. Designers can put together a floor plan for the best use of your space while considering focal points, large windows, art and so on. They know the space requirements for furniture and can map out the best traffic path.

A good designer will work with your list, making it a space that is right for your lifestyle while keeping the things you like and removing the things you don’t. Don’t be shy. Make clear what your likes and dislikes are. This is your space, after all.

7. How much money do you want to devote to your project? Setting budget expectations is important to the success of any remodeling or new construction project. Be realistic. A total average kitchen remodel can run as much as $80,000 and up. A basic kitchen remodel, keeping existing cabinets and floors, can cost about $16,000, depending on a variety of factors. If you’re on a strict budget, consider changes you need to have and which would be nice to have.

Share your budget right away with your designer, as this will set the tone of the makeover and will eliminate unnecessary backtracking later.

8. How much do you want to be involved in your project? Do you want a designer who will work with you, or do you want the designer to take charge and provide you with options? Clarifying your expectations will help you and the designer communicate well and ensure the result you want.

In the end, doing your homework will save you money that you can then put back into your project.

Canadian Real Estate Association meets with Federal Government

Fri, 17 Feb by Pauline Relkey

Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance:
Canadian Real Estate Market and Homeownership
February 2017

Gary Simonsen
Chief Executive Officer

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Thank you, Mr. Chair. The Canadian Real Estate Association would like to thank the committee
for the opportunity to participate in the study on the Canadian Real Estate Market and Home
Ownership. CREA represents over 120,000 REALTORS® from across the country. As one of
Canada’s largest single-industry associations, we represent real estate brokers and agents, as well
as home buyers and property owners throughout the country.

Canada’s housing market is a key component of Canada’s overall economic stability and an
important generator of jobs and economic security for the middle-class. In 2016, each home sale
generated over $52,000 in spin-off spending. This translates to one job for every three home sale
transactions. In addition, resale housing transactions through the Multiple Listing Service
(MLS®) generated more than $28 billion in consumer spin-off spending and created more than
198,000 jobs in 2016.

Most Canadians see their home as a source of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment not to
mention a safe environment in which to raise their family and create happy memories. This is
why CREA has been advocating for the indexation and modernization of the Home Buyers’ Plan
(HBP), a program that allows Canadians to use their RRSP savings to purchase their first home.
We were pleased to see that the plan was included in multiple election platforms in 2015 and we
will continue to work with the government to ensure it remains a valuable program for all
Canadians.

As all real estate is local, it is important to note that the housing markets in and around Toronto
and Vancouver have different realities compared to elsewhere in Canada – the vast majority of
which are either well balanced or amply supplied. It is crucial to consider and reflect upon
different areas of the country when enacting policy that affects a wide swath of housing markets,
including places not targeted directly by the government’s recent regulatory measures.
Consumer demand in markets like Toronto and Vancouver is at an all-time high and there is a
significant shortage in housing supply. Various factors have caused an imbalance on the supply
and demand of homes which in turn drives up prices significantly. As this is a complex matter,
CREA is encouraged that the federal government created a working group comprised of federal
officials as well as provincial and municipal representatives. The three levels of government will
be able to focus on the challenges in each region and recognize the local reality for all markets.
While the provincial governments in Ontario and British Columbia have recently introduced
measures to assist first-time home buyers, the federal government has tightened national
mortgage rules, thereby lessening affordability for those seeking to enter the market. If the
federal government continues to tighten mortgage rules, will this force the provincial
governments to implement further programs to assist-first time-time homebuyers? CREA and its
REALTOR® urges all levels of government to continue to work together to reach a healthy,
competitive and stable housing market. We are prepared to share analysis of local housing
market trends and apply our knowledge and data to help the government policy makers at all
levels better understand how changes to housing market regulations may affect communities
across Canada.

Assistance for first-time homebuyers should be top-of-mind for all levels of government. Firsttime
homebuyers need support to overcome the obstacle of saving for a downpayment in order to
reach their homeownership dream. The plan’s purchasing power is steadily declining and has
become less valuable due to the increase in home prices. We recommend the plan be indexed to
inflation to preserve its purchasing power and continue to help first-time homebuyers attain
homeownership.

Easing affordability concerns is a key principle of the plan and Canadians should be able to
benefit from this program more than once. Canadians and their families who face sudden life
changes such as job relocation, the death of a spouse, a marital breakdown or the decision to
accommodate an elderly family member may need support to maintain homeownership.
Expanding the plan for Canadians to use their RRSPs as a zero-interest self-loan is a fiscally
responsible way to support families through a difficult period of change.rrsp

In the last eight years, the federal government has implemented six rounds of changes to tighten
the rules for new government-backed insured mortgages and contain risks in the housing market.
These measures have been implemented over a short period of time and their full impact has yet
to be determined. We recommend the government take a pause to fully evaluate the cumulative
impact of the changes before looking at implementing additional measures.

Thank you for your time, I would be pleased to answer any questions the Committee might have.

Home Renos and Upgrades

Fri, 16 Sep by Pauline Relkey

Home renovations and upgrades are a smart way to add value to your home. Even simple repairs, regular maintenance, updating fixtures and appliances ensure your home stays in tip-top shape, maximizing not only its value but also its future marketability.

Here are a few areas to focus on:

Renovations that pay back
Kitchens and bathroom overhauls top the list of home improvements that yield the best return on investment. Fast and easy updates such as replacing fixtures, counter tops and resurfacing cabinets can go a long way in transforming these high-traffic areas with a fresh, modern appeal.

Add more space
Expanding your living space, such as finishing the basement, is an excellent value-add to your home and lifestyle, especially if you have a family looking for more room to play and grow.

Repurpose a room
Survey your home with an eye to converting rooms for new functionality. A home office is a great feature to have, and a revamp that still allows the flexibility of easily reverting the room back to its original purpose.

Take a green approach
If planning a home renovation, go green with energy-efficient options that promise a high return relative to cost. Today’s high-efficiency appliances, heating and cooling systems, lighting fixtures and even building materials such as insulation, can help reduce your household’s monthly overhead costs.

renos

Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Thu, 15 Jan by Pauline Relkey

2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

In July 2014, NAR (National Association of REALTORS) mailed out a 127 question survey to 72,000 recent home buyers. The recent home buyers had to have purchased a home between July 2013 and June 2014. The survey had a response rate of 9.4 percent.

Highlights

88% of buyers would use their agent again or recommend to others and 63% of buyers who purchased their home in the last year have recommended their agent to other buyers.

  • 88% of home buyers financed their recent home purchase at 90%.
  • The share of 1st time buyers who financed their home purchase was 95% compared to 84% of repeat buyers.
  • 46% of home buyers reported they have made some sacrifices such as reducing spending on luxury items, entertainment or clothing.
  • 12% of buyers overall cited saving for a down payment was the most difficult task in the home buying process. Among those buyers, 48% report credit card debt, 44% reported student loan debt and 36% car loans delayed them saving for a down payment.
  • Eight in 10 buyers believe their home is a good financial investment.

Home Sellers and Their Selling Experience

  • 40% of home sellers traded up to a larger sized home, 47% purchased a more expensive home and 53% purchased a newer home.
  • The typical seller lived in their home for 10 years. The median tenure has increased in recent years. In 2007, the typical tenure in home was only 6 years.
  • 88% of sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home.
  • Recent sellers typically sold their homes for 97% of the listing price and 45% reported they reduced the initial asking price at least once.
  • 17% of recent sellers had to delay or stall selling their home because the value of their home was worth less than their mortgage.

Home Selling and Real Estate Professionals

  • 38% of sellers who used a real estate agent found their agents through a referral by friends or family and 22% used the agent they worked with previously to buy or sell a home.
  • 70% of home sellers only contacted 1 agent before selecting the one to assist with their home sale.
  • 91% of sellers reported that their home was listed or advertised on the multiple listing (MLS) website.
  • Among recent sellers who used an agent, 83% reported they would definitely (68%) or probably (15%) use that real estate agent again or recommend to others

For-Sale-by-Owner (FSBO) Sellers

  • The share of home sellers who sold their home without the assistance of a real estate agent was 9%. 44% knew the buyer prior to home purchase.
  • Among sellers who did not know the buyer of the home previously, 15% were contacted by a buyer they did not know to buy the home.
  • FSBOs typically have a lower median selling price: $208,700 compared to $235,000. Thus, the typical agent-assisted home sale typically has a 13% higher sales price than the typical FSBO sale.
  • Half of FSBO sellers took no action to market their home and 73% did not offer any incentives to attract.

Methodology

Consumer names and addresses were obtained from Experian, a firm that maintains an extensive database of recent home buyers derived from county records. Information about sellers comes from those buyers who also sold a home. All information in this Profile is characteristic of the 12-month period ending June 2014, with the exception of income data, which are reported for 2013. In some sections comparisons are also given for results obtained in previous surveys. Not all results are directly comparable due to changes in questionnaire design and sample size. Some results are presented for the four U.S. Census regions: Northeast, Midwest, South and West. The median is the primary statistical measure used throughout this report. Due to rounding and omissions for space, percentage distributions may not add to 100% buyers.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Association of Regina REALTORS® Inc.. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.