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Richard and Julie C.
Just wanted to say thank-you for all your hard work, in helping us sell our home.Your advice and direction made it all a breeze. Thank-you for the referral for a real estate agent in NB. She was awesome. If we ever have to move back to Alberta we will be sure to give you a call. Thank-you again.
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Stephen & Leslie G.
To Whom It May Concern: Re: Mike Muranetz CD, Re/Max Real Estate It's in the tough times when people really show you what they're made of. In the real estate business particularly in a slow market you need hard working, disciplined tenacious professional realtor with a willingness to access a multitude of different options including Staging, Talking House, and Open Houses among other things - whatever...
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The Edmonton Real Estate Blog, Market Information, Advise & Opinion

 

Understand market value: No matter the listing price, a home will typically sell for what it's worth. Silver recommends determining the home's market value-by consulting a real estate agent or looking up comparable properties on the Canadian Real Estate Association's Multiple Listings Service (MLS)-and bidding that amount. If the house is listed for $100,000 less than it should be, most of the offers won't make it past the first round.
 

Put in your best offer: When up against two or three other bids, give your best offer right away, Silver recommends. If you don't get the house, you can at least feel comfortable knowing that you tried your best. Remember that putting in your best offer doesn't mean going beyond your budget. Determine your limit and stick to it.
 

Nix your conditions: Removing conditions from your offer may make your bid more appealing. The financing condition is fairly easy to remove, as long as you have completed the mortgage approval process before bidding. You may also want to eliminate the home inspection condition. That doesn't mean forgoing the actual inspection - pay to have it done before you make an offer, not after.
 

Be prepared to walk away: While it's good to be optimistic that your bid will win, you and your agent need to be ready to move on. I say to my clients: we'll put in our best offer, but there's a good chance we'll be out looking for houses again tomorrow. For more information on buying a home please visit, www.genworth.ca

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When it comes to your home, you want it to be as unique as you are, and first impressions are very important. It makes sense to start with the part of your house that everyone will see first - your gates and railing. Wrought iron driveway gates are an ideal way to finish off your drive and give your home that wow factor.

Driveway gates and fences will enhance the beauty, privacy and security of your home. A driveway gate extends your home security to the boundaries of your property, and in a time where people are increasingly worried about their security, adding an iron gate at the driveway entrance has become popular. Having a secure fence and gate can be a great comfort, particularly if your house lies in an area of heavy traffic. In addition to the security benefits, adding a gate also contains animals, clearly marks property lines and makes a huge aesthetic improvement to your home.

When you choose an iron driveway gate for your home, you can be confident in the knowledge that they are known for their strength and endurance. This makes them less likely to break or bend. With today's power coating options, wrought iron gates can become just as rust resistant as aluminum. Iron gates can be matched with existing fences, pedestrian gates and access control systems.

It can be very frustrating to finish a long commute only to have to get out of the car, open a gate, drive through it, get out of the car again and close the gate. With this in mind another trendy feature for your iron driveway gates is to install an automatic gate opener. Electric gates provide indispensable convenience, allowing a gate to be opened without ever having to leave your car and therefore eliminating all those cumbersome steps.

When purchasing electric gates you need to consider a few options. The most obvious is deciding whether you want your driveway gate to open by sliding or swinging outwards. Swing gates are more aesthetically pleasing but you must take into account the opening radius depending on the length of the gate. Sliding gates will eliminate this issue as they retract rather than swing out.

You will also need to consider how much power is required to open and close your driveway gate. The amount of power is dependent on the size of your gate, how it opens and how many times it will need to be opened each day.

Finally, how will your gate be accessed, and by how many users? Electric gates are operated by a controller which sends a signal to the opening mechanism.

There are several options for your controller:

•Wireless

•Wired keypads

•Keypads with intercoms

•Key card operated controllers

•Controllers operated by remotes or telephones

Each of these features will affect the price and your final decision should be based on your budget and personal preference. Once you have taken all these points into consideration you can narrow down your options and choose the best Driveway Gates for your specific needs.

by: Mehboob Talukdar

Article Source:
http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7350.shtml
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(NC) Interior designers have a favourite saying about the decision to go all-white in a bathroom - "At its best, it will be the most spectacular room you ever designed; at its worst it will be perfectly satisfactory." In other words, always safe, and sometimes, out-of-this-world. What makes the difference?

A lot depends on what you put into it. An all-white background will showcase anything to its best advantage. Tone-on-tone white adds another dimension. Marble, quartz or gleaming white tile always brings a degree of sophistication and elegance. White towels, co-ordinated accessories and lighting all encourage an oasis-like ambience.

Not all whites are created equal. For example, there are 140 colours in the Benjamin Moore White and Off-White Collection. There are grey whites, blue whites, and pink whites. A warm white beside a cool white can , very subtly, accentuate architectural details and create a look of luxury. But, be sure to check the

light levels in your room before you choose the wall colour and bathroom fixtures.

Like fine sheets, a white bathroom encourages relaxation where you can escape all the stresses of the day. It is a place where you can linger in the shower or fill the tub and use your favourite bath oil to luxuriate in your own private world.

A range of fixtures is available, including sculpted toilets, vintage faucets, rainforest showerheads and free standing soaker tubs, as well as useful, but beautiful, accessories The styles shown here can be viewed and saved online at www.americanstandard.ca.

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Do you feel that? There's that recognizable chill in the air. Fall's back with its shorter days and changing leaves. It's time again to shut down the cottage for the winter.

You spend so much time and money on your family cottage, that it only makes sense to do all you can to protect it. By being as thorough as possible, you'll not only keep out the weather and little critters, but according Desjardins General Insurance, you'll also keep your property insurance costs down by reducing the chance of damage over the winter and any resulting claims.

Keep in mind that on average closing your cottage can take up to four weekends. Aim to be finished by the Thanksgiving weekend because the cold and frost tends to arrive earlier in cottage country. Here's a brief check list to help you stay organized:

• Take a good look around your entire property. Identify anything that may need an emergency repair before you close for the season and make sure there's time to get it done. A good example is roof repairs because snow and ice over the winter could make the problem much worse.

• Animal and weather proof your place:

Clean out the gutters and the chimney. Before you leave for the season, be sure to cover the chimney to keep out the weather and animals.

Check for and seal any small openings.

Secure and seal all the windows and doors.

• Make your cottage burglar-proof. Ultimately, you want to your place as uninteresting as possible. If you have a gate at the entrance of your driveway, chain it up. Tidy up outside, packing up all outdoor furniture and removing any fire hazards. Inside, close your blinds, curtains and/or shutters.

• Clean out your kitchen and fridge. Canned food can expand and possibly explode over the winter and other food items can attract mice. Leave your cupboards spotless so that you won't come back to any surprises in the spring. If you'd rather not bring it all the way back to the city, consider throwing an end-of-season party for your neighbors or donate it to a local food-bank.

• Turn off the water, electricity and in some cases the natural gas. Be sure to drain the pipes to prevent freezing and cracking. Pouring environmentally friendly non-toxic antifreeze (used in RVs) into your toilets is a good idea if you're unable to drain them completely.

• Last but not least - enjoy the winter!

For more tips on how to save money on your cottage insurance, visit Desjardins General Insurance at www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance.com.

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Your home is your paradise and if you are planning to renovate your home, go for the changes that are not only eye-catching but also comfortable for you and your family. If you are going to change the flooring in your home, here are some tips for flooring the different parts of your house.

Bedroom flooring:

There are plenty options when it comes to flooring in your bedroom. Being the most private and personalized part of your home, your bedroom is the place which grabs a big part of your budget whenever you are remodeling. You can use carpet, tile, hardwood, bamboo, cork or laminate. Play with different materials in different rooms. You can opt for striped light and dark shades in your boy's room so that if your son is going to create mess, which is unavoidable, the flooring can withstand the burden. Also the flooring can bear heavy traffic of the folks coming in the bedroom. For more powerful scratch and water resistant flooring you can choose laminate.

Living room flooring:

It is the most used area and withstands most of the traffic coming in and out of the house. It is highly recommended that the flooring should be strong enough that it can endure all such amendments done with your furniture or to the increasing and decreasing ratio of visitors. For this purpose you can opt for hardwood flooring. Being classy and sophisticated in look it is the perfect choice for your living room whenever you are remodeling your home.

Kitchen flooring:

Design the floor of your kitchen in such a way that it not only looks pretty but also gives a practical impression. You can choose from vinyl, tile, natural stone, wood, cork or laminate. A floor covering that is water resistant and durable such as tile is a best choice to protect against potential water damage. Make sure when you choose your floor to order a little extra of the product in the event that you drop something like a pot on your floor. If the flooring material is damaged, you will be sure to have enough to repair the floor because often floor manufacturers have high turnover of their products to insure a continual buying cycle. Most flooring contractors add 5-10% additional square footage of the flooring product to their purchase order to insure they have enough for the project and to provide the client with a little extra flooring for future use.

by: Builder Brian 
http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7342.shtml
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If you're like many homeowners, you consider the patio an extension of your home. So it's fair to ask: Would you be just as comfortable nestled in with your favorite book or preparing a meal in your outdoor space as you would in your living room or your kitchen? As you contemplate ways to improve your outdoor area, think about projects that can both extend the hours you spend outside and make the time you spend there more relaxing.

Just as technology continues to make life indoors easier, more sophisticated awning systems, heating options and lighting can make your outdoor space that much more pleasant. Here are a few areas to consider as you plot your next round of improvements for your outdoor living space:

* Temperature control: One of the best ways to make your patio pleasant for more of the day - and more of the year - is to add simple temperature control features. If you live in a place where it gets uncomfortably hot during the summer, install misters around your favorite sitting areas to cool things down. Likewise, if you often find yourself heading inside because it gets too chilly in the spring and fall, a few strategically placed overhead heaters can extend your patio season.

* Shade matters: Awnings and umbrellas also play a huge role in regulating the temperature and comfort of your deck or patio. And now, shading options have become more sophisticated and easier to maintain than ever before. You'll never have to worry about damaged awnings on a windy day with a motorized awning system with wind sensors that work together to automatically retract your awnings when winds become too high. Retractable awning systems can also be accessorized with sun sensors that signal motorized awnings to open as soon as the sun rises, keeping your outdoor space cool from the start of the day. If adding a hint of warmth is needed, simply install an awning heater. All of these accessories can be managed by the same remote that controls your motorized awning. With a system like this, you can leave the days of fiddling with fussy patio umbrellas behind.

* An outdoor kitchen: No patio is complete without a grill, but do you find yourself making frequent trips inside for other prep work? Make outdoor cooking easier by adding a prep island that can be placed near your grill. And if you really want to go all out, look for options that feature outdoor sinks or small refrigerators hidden under the countertop.

* Entertainment connectivity: Well-placed speakers can bring the stereo sound of your indoor system out. By upgrading your system so it can be controlled from your wireless device, you can bring the conveniences of your digital music system outdoors and eliminate the need to get up to turn up the volume or flip to the next song.

* Take look at your lighting: High-powered outdoor lights on sensors might be helpful when you're bringing in the groceries at night, but patio entertaining calls for a little more subtlety when it comes to lighting. Consider zero-energy solar-powered fixtures around the perimeter of your patio for a gentle ambiance to light up your evenings. Motorized systems can also be connected to your lighting, allowing you to adjust brightness as needed from the comfort of your patio lounger.

Now is the perfect time to plan for next year's patio season, and with the right improvements, you can make it the most comfortable one yet.
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* Create terrifying tombstones. Set the stage before trick-or-treaters even hit the front door. Use wood, cardboard or thick Styrofoam to create tombstones that you can put in your front yard. After cutting out the desired shape, use a matte gray spray paint to cover the surface, and then use black paint to write creative epitaphs such as "Dare to Disturb" or "Happy Haunting."

* Get creative with pumpkins. Everyone enjoys a good jack-o-lantern, but why not choose to think outside the box when decorating with pumpkins this year? Instead of carving, try spray painting or using your favorite Halloween candy to decorate pumpkins in fun, spooky patterns. Plus, this is a project that even the littlest witch can enjoy.

* Download a haunted playlist. Nothing is quite as spooky as the sound of doors creaking or ghosts shrieking. Put together a haunted playlist that you can listen to while guests arrive, or stick speakers near an open window to entice the nearby trick-or-treaters to stop by for some candy.

* Serve spine-chilling treats. Use your free time on Halloween to make these simple but yummy treats designed to look like spiders. Serve them when guests arrive to kick-off the scary festivities.

Reese's(R) Peanut Butter Pumpkin Spiders

(6 Servings)

Ingredients:

6 Reese's (R) Peanut Butter Pumpkins

1/4 cup Hershey's (R) Milk Chocolate Chips

Large pretzel twists (2 -1/2 to 3 inches)

12 yellow Reese's Pieces (R) Candies

Directions:

Line tray or cookie sheet with wax paper. Remove wrappers from peanut butter pumpkins and place alongside each other on tray leaving 1 inch of space between each peanut butter pumpkin. For each spider, cut 8 matching curved sections from pretzels which will form the legs. Set aside remaining pretzels pieces.

Place milk chocolate chips in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium an additional 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and smooth when stirred. Transfer to small heavy duty plastic food storage bag. Cut off one corner of bag about 1/4 inch from the tip.

Attach pretzel legs and yellow candy "eyes" to spider with melted chocolate; place dot of melted chocolate on each eye. Allow chocolate to set before moving spiders.

 
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Have you heard of the window covering device called Panel Track?

It is mounted on or near the window frame for many practical and esthetic reasons. Designed by Levolor Window Fashions, this specialty track gives you a selection of vibrant shades and draperies - and it also filters incoming light. The Panel Track contributes color and texture to the style of the room; panels move smoothly and stack neatly.

"Other window coverings can do this, but only Panel Track can do it on the largest possible scale, covering and uncovering a whole wall of ceiling height windows and walk-outs," says Mary Dobson, spokesperson for Levolor in Canada and also a guest expert on CityLine. I think this option is brilliant for homes with large windows and patio doors. Now I can say it with even greater conviction, because this fall the company is launching an enhanced collection of fabrics that will extend the appeal of Panel Track in open concept homes - and also in condos and lofts, because it functions so well as a room divider."

Dobson points out that the track is modern, sleek, easy to operate, and it reduces light and glare without sacrificing the view. It can be mounted within a window frame, on the wall surrounding the frame, or hung from the ceiling. And combining it with other shades - such as roller shades - couldn't be simpler, because Panel Track shares the same extended range of fabrics as the other window fashions for a totally co-ordinated space.

"We have been seeing a steady increase in the use of soft window treatments, Panel Track included," says Mike Muyal, director of marketing for Levolor. "We expect this trend to accelerate in the fall, with the new fabric collections. Now, we truly have something for everyone - sheer and solid, woven and natural, with many designer patterns in subtle shades."

Take a look at Panel Track and the expanded range of fabrics at www.levolor.ca.

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(NC)-Do you want to know if your new home is energy-efficient? Here are some questions to ask your builder:

1. How do I know your homes are truly energy efficient?

2. Since all builders must meet the requirements of the building code, what makes your homes different from other builders' homes?

3. How do your building techniques reflect the latest developments in housing technology?

4. What steps do you take to improve the energy efficiency of the homes you build?

5. Can you predict what my energy costs will be?

6. What makes your homes more environmentally friendly than others?

7. Do you participate in the Government's  energy efficiency initiatives for new homes?

8. Do you affix a government-backed energy label to your home?

9. Do independent, licensed professionals inspect the energy efficiency of your homes?

10. Do you build homes that receive an EnerGuide rating of 83 or higher or its equivalent?

If you aren't getting the answers you want, then you better think twice about your builder.

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  From the moment the first cave dweller marked the wall of his home with a bit of charcoal, art has been a home decor must that has stood the test of time. Whether it's the vibrant colors of a van Gogh, the almost-mystical perfection of a da Vinci or the dreamily diffused light of a Monet, great art speaks to the soul.

The works of master artists have inspired home decor for centuries, and technological advances have made it easier than ever to incorporate their genius into your own home. It's no longer necessary to visit the Louvre in Paris to view the Mona Lisa or to travel to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to savor van Gogh's Starry Night.

You can easily incorporate great artwork into your home decor.

Reproductions are the most obvious - and accessible - way to enjoy great masterpieces in your home. Fortunately, you have a variety of options when looking for a quality reproduction. From simple paper prints purchased at your local home decor store to actual paintings digitally reproduced with the aid of a computer program, you can find reproductions for virtually every price point.

You can use your reproduction to enhance your home decor in a number of ways. A small print tucked into a discrete spot on the wall can add a pleasant, surprising pop of color in a room. Or, a larger reproduction can be a focal point for a room's decor, and even provide color inspiration for the rest of the room, from walls to upholstery and accessories.

Another versatile option that can be bold and striking is a wall mural. When you think of inspiring murals, does Michelangelo's famous work from the Sistine Chapel come to mind? With easy-to-install wallpaper murals, you can recreate the world's most-recognizable ceiling in your own home.

A mural can fit into the decor in virtually every room of your home. Imagine the whimsical delight of Katsushika Hokusai's The Great Wave of Kanagawa as an accent in your master bath. Or, van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night can impart a distinctive Old World flavor to the decor in your breakfast nook. You can even incorporate a masterpiece mural in your outdoor design. Website MuralsYourWay.com offers wallpaper murals in SmartStick, a peel-and-stick material that can be used indoors or out and adheres to most smooth wall surfaces (including glass) and is easily removable and repositionable. No paste is needed and you can use the mural over and over again.

Your foray into great art doesn't have to be limited to paintings, however. While reproductions of renowned sculptures are easy to come by, and an obvious choice, you can also find a variety of accessories and even furniture that draw their inspiration from famous works of art.

Looking for something thought-provoking and edgy for your home decor? Consider items - from wall clocks to furniture - inspired by the work of Salvador Dali. Is modern and abstract more to your taste? Fabrics that draw on the colors and design of Picasso's works may fit your vision.

Great art speaks to the soul, and whatever genre you prefer - impressionist, Renaissance, modern or abstract - you can find a place for it in your home. Thanks to modern technology, it's easier than ever to enjoy great art and incorporate it into your decor.
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(BPT)-When your family comes home
The kitchen is also where you prepare meals, entertain guests, help your children with homework and even stay up late to pay bills. Because the kitchen is the hub of the home, homeowners are always looking for ways to do more in this vital space, all while keeping it stylish.

One of today's most popular trends in new and remodeled kitchens is the use of multiple kitchen faucets, which add extra functionality to the room.

"Pot fillers, island faucets and even bar or convenience faucets all help to maximize the room," says Kevin McJoynt of Danze, a manufacturer of decorative plumbing faucets and fixtures. "But convenience and functionality aren't the only two items homeowners are looking at while upgrading their kitchens. Ambiance, decor and style are also top priorities."

If you're reconsidering your kitchen's function and style, consider adding these options into your remodeling plan:

Pot fillers
These faucets are located near your stove to provide you with a convenient way to fill a pot without having to carry it to the nearest sink. This saves plenty of back-breaking work and minimizes the likelihood of spills. Pot fillers are commonly found in the restaurant industry and have quickly made their way into private kitchens across the country. They are available as a wall mount or deck mount. Find a style that matches your appliances and other faucets in the room.

Island faucets
Usually acting as second sinks, island faucets help avoid congestion at the main sink and are a great way to increase a kitchen's workflow. Because island sinks are frequently used for preparation, they are sometimes referred to as prep sinks. Homeowners commonly use this workspace for cutting vegetables, chilling wine or washing hands prior to a meal. Choose a faucet style and finish that complements the room's decor and adds an eye-catching decorative piece to an otherwise "ho-hum" island. Danze has several pull-down or pull-out faucets with three functions - spray, stream and pause - giving your island workspace additional functionality.

Bar faucets
Also referred to as a convenience sink or a beverage center, this area is typically used for entertaining purposes and is often located on a secondary counter space in the kitchen or adjacent room. Danze offers a variety of bar faucets, including high-arc options, small-scale faucets and several others. Choose a style that will make this space "entertaining." Visit Danze.com for more kitchen solutions.

Make your "'heart of the home" work for you as you plan your kitchen design. But remember, you don't need to sacrifice style in the process.
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Walking through the door you notice beautiful tile in rich, deep tones beneath your feet. Then you see polished, elegant fixtures, and warm, gentle, ambient lighting. Have you walked into a posh resort with a top of the line spa? No, you've simply entered your own modern bathroom designed with your style and your needs in mind.

When it comes to bathroom remodels, the sky is the limit. In fact some plumbing contractors also provide total, upscale bathroom makeovers. Long gone are the days of the water closet where function is the only driving force in design. Today, aesthetics, functionality, indulgence, and personal taste rule the design and remodeling of the modern bathroom. 

It is no longer necessary to limit yourself to the regular old standards for bathroom design. So many options are available in a wide range of budgets that it is completely realistic to design the bathroom of your dreams and go far beyond the mundane. What about going for a spa type bathroom with a whirlpool tub, warming lights, and heated towel racks? Or why not create a man cave with a state of the art sound system and television screens?

Although today's bathrooms offer all the functionality of designs past, they are no longer stark and minimalist. One look in the showroom and you will see many style choices from classical to contemporary to modern. There are also many choices in the type of products. Indulge in such things as rain shower heads, saunas, tankless water heating systems, and surround sound systems, to name a few.

Completely modernized whole shower systems with multiple jets, temperature controls and individual memory options can be installed to suit your personal needs. If a bath is more your style, whirlpool bathtubs, nostalgic claw foot style tubs, or the larger and more spacious garden tub may be the option for you. Perhaps both will find their way into your design, and why not? With professionals available to make sure your quality products are installed correctly there is no reason not to pamper yourself.

When it comes to a bathroom design or remodel, using a professional will not only save you endless time, but it can potentially save you a lot of money as well. No one else knows the products they work with better than a professional, let alone how they should be properly installed and maintained. Performance is extremely important and no one wants to worry about whether their fixtures and appliances are going to be installed to work correctly. Peace of mind, after all, is priceless.

For your new bathroom, whether it's a new construction or a bathroom remodel, contact a professional. They can help make your vision become reality. And should the need arise, you can also call them for help with water heaters, drain cleaning, and sump pumps. All of your needs can be addressed by the professionals.

by: Nick Messe 
http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_6428.shtml 
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Final Walk-Through: What to Expect at your Final Walk-Through before Closing
It's smart to perform a final walk-through before closing. It's your last chance to make sure the home you're about to buy is in the condition you're expecting. Here's some great tips that you may not have thought of in preparing for your final walk-through.

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Staging your Home: Advice for Sellers

Ten inexpensive real estate staging tips to help create a 'mood' or 'emotion' to entice and connect with potential home buyers.


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Financing: Advice for Homebuyers

This YouTube channel, provided courtesy of Chase, offers the ins and outs of mortgages, how the loan process works and how to select a lender. Worthy of viewing regardless of whom you select as your lender.


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First-Time Homebuyer Tips: Things to Know when Buying your First Home

First-time homebuyers need to keep their ownership goals in mind and make sure to not rush into decisions or feel pressured. This video offers some great lessons from real first-time home owners.


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In a market where sellers are in competition to make the most out of their largest investment, improving your home's first impression is one of the best ways to set it apart from the rest of the pack.

When prospective buyers or renters drive through your neighbourhood, what do they see? This is a really important question that you need to answer because it will help understand what your buyer is going to be looking for in a new home. Once you've answered this, ask yourself objectively if the front of your home is in keeping with the rest of the houses on your block. The first impression is critical in setting the mood for prospective agents and buyers. If your home's exterior looks like it needs work, then people immediately assume that it's a 'fixer-upper'. The opposite is true if your front yard is manicured, the roof is in good shape and the driveway is in good condition. Having a potential buyer walk into your front door in a positive mode can translate into big dollars for you.

Both Virginia Tech and the University of Guelph did studies in 2011 that measured the effect of landscaping on property values, and they both came to the same conclusion. To improve curb appeal, basic landscaping increased the home's value by 5%, but more extensive landscaping including decks and patios increased the homes value up to 15%.

So where do you spend the money?

Set your budget and be realistic about what you're trying to accomplish with it. Keep in mind that you are trying to create an excellent first impression to attract potential buyers. This isn't the opportunity for you to realize your landscaping dreams. Consider a new paint job using a colour scheme that highlights the character of your home. Install a new front door or at least update your door's hardware. Even something as simple as full and healthy planters can make a favourable impact.

One of the easiest ways to improve curb appeal is to have a clean and tidy front yard with a manicured lawn. Maybe this is the opportunity to invest in some new tools to help do the job properly. The best part about this type of investment is that not only will your plants and lawn look better with edging, pruning and cutting, you also get to take your new tools with you once you've sold your home.

The technology for landscaping tools has made the purchasing task much easier as well. Now you can get a hedge trimmer, string trimmer or sweeper & vac all in one system. With the Black & Decker 36V Lithium system, for example, you can use the same battery and charger for all three of those tools. A quick prune of the shrubs with the hedge trimmer, followed by a 'one-around' with the string trimmer and then tidying up with the sweeper will help you to maintain the front yard as short as 10 minutes per day.

The goal is to create an emotional connection at the first glance of any prospective buyer, so before you put that sign on the lawn, be sure to spend enough time at the curb.

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(BPT) - Your home's front door is more than a portal for family and friends - it makes a statement about your own personal style. Home designers often list the entry door as one of the most cost effective ways to dress up the front of your home for "wow" curb appeal.

"This Old House" magazine notes that since the front door is the first and last thing we touch when entering and leaving our homes, "it's easy to understand why many of us still like our doors to be made of wood - nothing else matches the material's warmth and satisfying heft."

"People choose wood entry doors first and foremost for their beauty; it's a fine piece of furniture on the front of your home," says Brad Loveless of Simpson Door Company.

For homeowners who enjoy the beauty of wood entry doors, options are now available to stand up to the harshest climates - from the wind-driven rains of Nantucket Island to the desert Southwest. Following are three ways to have the wood door you want and to ensure it will look great for years, no matter what the climate throws at it.

Bring your dreams to life

With doors available in hundreds of wood species, and numerous designs and glass options, it can be hard to envision how a particular door will look like on your home. Short of hiring an architect to make a sketch, most people have had to rely on their imaginations. Recently, easy-to-use, free online tools have become available to simplify the door selection process. For example, Simpson's "Test Drive a Door" enables people to upload a photo of their home and view different door options on it. This allows a homeowner to be sure before they buy.

Go for performance

People are used to looking for high performance when shopping for new cars or computers, but might not realize the same approach can apply to doors. Manufacturers have developed high-performance wood doors with superior weather resistance that last in the most demanding exposures, including coastal homes with no porch or roof overhang to protect the door.

One high-performance option to consider is choosing wood species that perform best in moist conditions, as this varies among wood types. Species that have been shown in laboratory testing to have natural moisture resistance include Douglas Fir, Black Locust, Nootka Cypress and Sapele Mahogany, among others. In recognition of the use of such species and advanced joinery techniques, "Window & Door" magazine selected Nantucket Collection doors from Simpson as its "Most Innovative Door."

Another performance option some manufacturers offer in their wood doors is water-resistant composite blocks within the bottom of the door, where water can infiltrate. Doors also are available with full exterior cladding to protect them from rain and sun, while retaining the beauty of wood inside the home.

A strong finish

With any door, whether made of wood, steel or fiberglass, it is crucial to finish it for long-lasting protection from the elements. Doors are sold either factory finished or unfinished. If unfinished, the door must be finished by the door dealer, a contractor or the homeowner. Manufacturers provide step-by-step instructions for best results from finishing, and those steps typically must be followed to ensure warranty requirements. Chief among these are to finish all six sides - front, back and all edges. As no wood surface should be left unfinished, finish should also be applied to the cut-outs for the handle and lock set, as well as any other openings, such as for mail slots or pet doors.

If the door is exposed to sun, it is generally better to use lighter color paints or stains as those absorb less heat from damaging UV rays.
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(NC) Working in a 'green' office building isn't just good for the environment; it's good for your health.

We've all been there - at a desk job for 35 to 60+ hours a week, sitting all day long with harsh overhead lighting and bad air circulation. Now imagine working in a space that was specifically designed to provide fresh air, less noise pollution and more access to natural daylight, all while sustaining the environment. That's what it's like to work in a green building.

Furthermore, a 2013 study from the National Research Council of Canada made a clear connection between working in a green building and happier employees. The study concluded that those employees experience fewer sick days, better sleep quality, and fewer physical or mental symptoms associated with office work.

Not only do you benefit personally from working in a green building, but you will be actively making a difference to the environment. For example, since 2005, the buildings that are certified to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which include some of Canada's greenest structures, have:
• Saved over 3.3 billion litres of water or 1300 Olympic swimming pools;

• Saved enough energy to power 54,307 homes for a full year; and

• Reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 58,980 cars off the roads for a year.

Green office spaces are becoming more common across Canada with many of the downtown office towers in major cities already LEED certified or targeting certification. But how do you know if you're working in a green building?

Look for signs in the lobby that indicate it is certified LEED, BOMA or Green Globes. You can also ask your facilities manager about what green initiatives have been implemented, or encourage them to consider greening some of their practices. Organizations like the Canada Green Building Council (www.cagbc.org/leedcanada) are also a valuable resource to help you or your employer get started.

Sources: Do Green Buildings Outperform Conventional Buildings?, Birt, Newsham et al., NRC RR-329, 2013

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With a little bit of elbow grease, and everyday household ingredients, your kitchen appliances can look (and smell) like new for years to come.
 

Dishwasher: Most homeowners believe that the regular use of a commercial rinse aid is enough to keep a dishwasher clean. Melissa Glover, an appliance specialist for Lowe's stresses that regularly cleaning the seams and liner of your dishwasher is also imperative to its effectiveness. "Over time, residue and food particles build up, and can affect the outcome of your wash cycle. Bacteria buildup can also cause lingering, unpleasant odours." Glover recommends using a scouring pad dipped in baking soda to remove residue and stains from the interior surface and crevices of your dishwasher. Next, fill the detergent pocket with lemonade powder (yes, lemonade) and run a regular cycle (or cleaning cycle). The ascorbic acid in the powder will help to safely remove any remaining buildup, and will leave your dishwasher smelling clean and fresh.
 

Oven/ Range: Cleaning an oven can be a tough job. However there are natural and effective alternatives for cleaning even the toughest baked-on spills. Start by loosening any baked-on food inside your oven using a plastic spatula. Next, squeeze the juice from 2 lemons into an oven safe dish, and throw in the lemon remains. Turn on your oven and bake the lemons/juice for 30 minutes at 250 degrees. The citric acid will help to loosen any residue that may still be inside your oven, while releasing a fresh lemon scent. Using the rough side of a scouring sponge dipped in baking soda, scrub away the remaining debris, and wipe the oven clean using a cloth and warm water. You'll be amazed at how fresh your next lasagna will taste, after being baked in a naturally cleaned oven.
 

Refrigerator: It's hard to believe that the cleanliness of your fridge can impact the taste and lifespan of your non- perishable foods. Glover further explains that cleaning your refrigerator monthly with natural ingredients can dramatically extend the life and quality of your produce. Start by removing all of the food from your refrigerator and discarding items that are aged or expired. Combine ½ cup of baking soda with 1 tbsp of vinegar and stir to form a thick paste. Apply a small amount of paste to a soft scouring pad, and scrub away any stains that may exist. Follow by wiping the refrigerator clean with a damp sponge (an old toothbrush can be used on small spaces and crevices as well. ) Shelves and drawers should be removed for cleaning if necessary. Don't forget to vacuum the undercarriage of your fridge, and to wipe down the outside using a cloth with warm water and vinegar. The same steps can be followed to clean your freezer, however you'll need to work quickly and use hot water to rinse. Keep a small carton or bowl of baking soda at the back of fridge to help keep it fresh.

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