Make Two Wish Lists When Shopping For A New Home


When shopping for a new home, create a wish list of the features and characteristics you want. After all, there’s no sense looking at properties with kitchenettes when you won’t settle for anything less than a full-sized kitchen that Julia Child would envy.

But there are probably some features that are nice-to-haves but not must-haves. For example, you might like a large wrap-around deck in your backyard, but would settle for a home that doesn’t have one. (After all, you can always install one later.)

That’s why it’s a good idea to create two wish lists. One list would include all the features you absolutely would not do without in your new home, and the other would list all those things you’d like to have, but are not necessities.

With two lists, you’ll make better decisions. Your shopping will be easier because you won’t be wasting time viewing homes that don’t meet the criteria on your “must have” list. The second list will come in handy when you’re comparing properties and deciding which one to buy.

Two lists also help to ensure you get most, if not all, of what you really want in your new home. And that makes all the difference.

5 Secrets To Selecting Interior Lighting

dining room

Lighting is, perhaps, the most important element in decorating. The right lamp, chandelier or ceiling fixture can instantly make a room more attractive and inviting. The wrong lighting, unfortunately, can have the opposite effect.

Here are five secrets to making the right choice:

  1. How much lighting is required in a room? To calculate, simply multiply the square footage by 1.5. Therefore, a 12′ x 16′ living room would require 288 watts of lighting (12 x 16 x 1.5 = 288).
  2. How big a chandelier do you need? Simply add the dimensions of the room together. So a 12′ x 16′ area could accommodate a chandelier that is 28 inches in diameter (12 + 16 = 28).
  3. How far apart should lighting fixtures be installed in a hallway? Experts say that ideally a light should be positioned every 8 to 10 feet.
  4. How do I create ambience? In the dining area for example, select a light fixture that can accommodate a dimmer switch. The ambiance of the room improves if you can soften the lighting during meals or when entertaining.
  5. Using floor lamps? The bottom of the lampshade should be around 42 inches from the floor.

When the Home Inspector Finds Something Wrong

Checklist from the Real Estate Inspection Report

You shop for a home. You find one you like. You make an offer — conditional on a satisfactory home inspection.

Okay so far.

Then the inspector discovers a problem with the home that may require an expensive repair or renovation. Perhaps the frame in the front door is cracked; or there’s a leak in the roof; or the furnace is due to be replaced.

What do you do?

You don’t want to pass up an opportunity to purchase what could be your dream home. On the other hand, you don’t want to have to deal with potentially costly repairs.

First, keep in mind that you did the right thing.

It’s always a good idea to get a home inspected by a professional before the offer is finalized. A qualified home inspector will go over the property with a fine tooth comb, top to bottom, inside and out, inspecting the structure, electrical systems, HVAC systems and more.

It’s their job to find any deficiencies in the home and alert you to them.

If a deficiency is found, your next best step is to discuss the issue with your REALTOR®, and go over your options. Those options may include amending the offer price to cover some or all of the costs of the repair, or requiring the seller to get the repair done before you move in.

Don’t worry. This is a normal part of the negotiation process. Chances are, an agreement can be reached that is satisfactory to both parties — and gets you the house you want!

And, because you had a home inspection done, you’ll know the true condition of your home when you buy it. That’s peace of mind.

Don’t Over Improve Your House Before You Sell

Painting of an empty wall. Renovation home. 3D illustration

If you’re considering selling your house, you might be tempted to sink some money into home improvements. After all, gleaming new hardwood floors or a stunning wrap-around deck will make your property sell a lot faster, and for more money. And you’ll more than recover your investment with the higher selling price. Right?

Maybe not. While those types of upgrades will certainly make your house more attractive to potential buyers – and may nudge the selling price up a little – you may not recoup all of your costs.

That’s why major home improvements should be done for your own personal enjoyment, not as a tactic for preparing your property for sale.

So what types of upgrades do make sense? The good news is that the home improvement projects that are most likely to help sell your house are also the cheapest to implement. If you’re planning on selling your house, consider doing the following:

  • Paint
  • Make repairs
  • Remove stains
  • Trim hedges
  • De-clutter
  • Plant flowers
  • Improve lighting

Be Sensible When it Comes to Scents

Kitten and puppy. Close up portrait

Sniff, sniff. “What is that smell?”

That is definitely not the reaction you want a potential buyer to have when they view your house.

The problem with common household scents – from family pets, preferred cooking styles, smoking, or even hobbies such as model-making – is that we get accustomed to them. However, someone who enters the house for the first time will notice these aromas right away.

So, before a viewing appointment or open house, be sure household scents are under control. A good airing usually does the trick.

Reducing The Stress Of Selling

Overcoming Stress Beating Anxiety Jumping Over Word

Selling a house can be a stressful process for the entire family. You need to keep the place clean and looking its best. You need to stay away during viewings. You may even need to look for a new home at the same time.

Although you won’t be able to eliminate all the anxiety, good advanced planning will certainly help reduce it.

First, talk to a REALTOR® well before you decide to put the property on the market. A good REALTOR® can help you determine whether any repairs, improvements, or minor touch-ups should be done, so that your home will sell faster and for the best price possible.

Once the property is on the market, plan some excursions with the family during open houses and other viewing times. These are the perfect opportunities to check out local restaurants, museums, parks and other amenities.

To keep your home clean and tidy for potential buyers, consider hiring a maid service on a short-term basis. You’ll have a lot on your plate during this period and having the floors and washrooms cleaned by someone else can relieve a lot of stress.

Not-So-Obvious Home Staging Tips

Closeup of a Well Stocked Pantry

When it comes to “staging” your home for sale – which basically means ensuring it looks clean and uncluttered – you probably already know the basics: clean the counters, vacuum the floors, mow the lawn, etc.

But there are some home staging tips that are less obvious, yet can help to sell your property faster and for a higher price. For example…

The Kitchen

Obvious: The stove, sinks and countertops should be spotless.
Not-so-obvious: The contents of your cabinets and refrigerator should be facing face forward.

The Bathrooms

Obvious: They should be clean and uncluttered. Have fresh towels hanging neatly on the rack. (The “hotel bathroom” look.)
Not-so-obvious: All towels should match. Ensure toilet lids are closed.

Your Bedroom

Obvious: Make the bed neatly. Check that the closet is organized and uncluttered. (If your closet is bulging with clothes, put some in storage.)
Not-so-obvious: Don’t leave any clothes out. Even clean clothes neatly folded in a hamper can seem untidy to some people.

The Kids’ Bedrooms

Obvious: They need to be clean and, especially, uncluttered. (Good luck!)
Not-so-obvious: Arrange stuffed animals, games and other toys like an attractive display in a toy store. It’s okay to have a toy, like a race track, out of the box. Just make sure it’s completely put together. (No pieces lying around.)

The Garage

Obvious: Make sure the floor is clean and that things are put away.
Not-so-obvious: If possible, get everything (except the car!) off the floor and onto shelves and hanging hooks. This will make a dramatic difference in how roomy the garage will look.

These not-so-obvious staging tips may seem minor, but they add up to a home that is much more attractive to potential buyers.

Get It In Writing

signing of  treaty on wooden table on color background

As you tour a potential new home, you notice that the carpeting in the living room is stained. “Don’t worry about that,” says the homeowner, who senses your disapproval. “We’re going to get the carpeting professionally cleaned before we move.”

Should you take their word for it?

Regardless of how honest a seller may seem, never rely on a verbal promise.

Will they move that abandoned car in the back yard? Will they fix the crack in the front steps? Is that expensive-looking ceiling fan included with the house?

Don’t assume. Get it written into the offer.

Benefits of a “Moving Out” Sale

Yard sale sign

“Stuff” accumulates. It’s a timeless principle in every household. It accumulates. And accumulates!

Chances are, your basement, garage, and closets are filled with things you don’t want to have to pack and haul on moving day.

The solution? Have a “Moving Out” sale!

Expect a crowd. Bargain hunters love a “Moving Out” sale even more than a Garage Sale because they expect that prices will be lower.

Once you realize that you won’t have to deal with all that clutter on moving day, you’ll love it too.

How Much Can You Really Afford?

Living room

“Can we afford it?” That’s the first thought that comes to mind when shopping for your next dream home. Fortunately it’s an easy question to answer if you consider your lifestyle, financial goals, expenses and mortgage eligibility.


There’s more to life than just paying the mortgage and other living expenses. Hobbies, entertainment, vacations, family adventures, and charitable causes are also important. Don’t be house poor. Think of your “lifestyle” as another bill you must pay — to yourself.

Financial Goals

Your new home is not just a place to live. It’s also an investment. Make sure it fits with your overall investment plan, which may also include retirement savings, education funds, emergency cash, and more.

House Expenses

The mortgage isn’t your only home expense. You must also calculate insurance, utilities, taxes, maintenance and other costs.

Amenities, such as a pool, can turn your home into an oasis. But, you must be prepared for the upkeep costs.

If you’re buying an older home, expect repair and maintenance costs to be higher.

Mortgage Eligibility

Your mortgage eligibility is determined by your current income, debt level, employment history, and credit rating. Lenders use this information combined with estimates of your new home property taxes and heating/cooling expenses to determine the largest mortgage they can offer you.

Home affordability is like a jigsaw puzzle. You need to put all the pieces together to get a clear picture of how much home you can afford.