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Archive for May, 2009

Interest rates may be on the rise

Fri, 29th May, 2009 - Posted by Sean Kavanagh - (0) Comment

If you have been considering buying a house, refinancing to see if it you can save money by lowering your monthly payments, or are interested in taking some equity out to pay for some renovations, pay for some upcoming large purchases, or even just to use that money to go on that much needed vacation, then now is the time to consult a mortgage broker and find out whether now is the right time for you and your family.

Also, for First Time Home Buyers I recommend that you get locked into a pre-approval at the current rates!

The following article appeared on Candian Mortgage Trends and explains why you should consider acting now!

Canada’s 5-year bond closed Wednesday at 2.56%…after it’s biggest 2-day jump in eight months.
As most know, fixed mortgage rates are linked to bond yields. Certain non-bank lenders have already reacted by raising rates 0.05% to 0.20%.

While no big banks have moved yet, they may be getting anxious. The cost of funds on 5-year money has soared roughly 30% (relatively, not absolutely) in the last month. The spread between banks’ advertised 5-year rate (3.95%) and bond yields is now down to 1.39% from about 2.00% a month ago. When you factor in branch discretion (i.e., the additional discounts offered to some customers), the spread is often even narrower.

It is difficult to imagine the Big 5 not raising rates if yields move higher. A lender email from yesterday said: “rates are artificially low. Watch for fixed rate increases.” Indeed, it seems some lenders are taking extra pains to avoid raising rates and giving up market share.

For more information on buying or selling real estate in Burlington or Oakville, Ontario, or if you have questions about current market trends, mortgages or interest rate information, please visit me again on my website www.seansells.ca or call me at 905-220-9198 and I’d be glad to answer any questions to accommodate all of your real estate needs. I can also be reached at www.realestatechat.ca as I am now a moderator on the Ontario Real Estate chat forum as well as the Burlington, Ontario sub-forum.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Category : Market Updates / Mortgage

Many Losing their Property Virginity this Spring!

Thu, 28th May, 2009 - Posted by Sean Kavanagh - (0) Comment

First-time homebuyers are being lured into the real-estate market this spring by falling prices, lower interest rates, a large selection of homes to choose from and new government incentives. Century 21 Miller Real Estate has shown a drastic increase in the number of real estate transactions since the beginning of the year and much of that can be attributed to the number of first timers not wanting to miss the boat on this great opportunity to get on the property ladder near the bottom rung.

Many property virgins are using the low interest rates and falling housing prices to get out of their rentals and make a purchase. Many first timers are realizing that their monthly mortgage payments will work out to be similar to what they are paying their landlords in rent.

Buyers definitely have an advantage in this market and more and more people are seizing this great opportunity. People used to worry about competing offers and having to buy quickly often resulting in buyers paying much more for the home than they would have liked. Now, people are able to take more time, thoroughly investigate all available houses and go for second, third or even fourth viewings before they make a decision.

Ottawa recently announced new tax credits of up to $1,350 for homebuyers to renovate their house or cottage. It also increased the amount first-time homebuyers can withdraw from their RRSPs from $20,000 to $25,000, and implemented a tax credit for first-timers of up to $750 to help cover closing costs.

Interest rates are also driving first timers to buy. With interest rates averaging around 3.6%-3.7% on a 5 year fixed mortgage, many are looking at their monthly expenses and figure they can’t lose.

For more information on buying or selling real estate in Burlington, Hamilton or Oakville, Ontario, or if you have questions about current market trends, mortgages or interest rate information, please visit me again on my website www.seansells.ca or call me at 905-220-9198 and I’d be glad to answer any questions to accommodate all of your real estate needs. I can also be reached at www.realestatechat.ca as I am now a moderator on the Ontario Real Estate chat forum as well as the Burlington, Ontario sub-forum.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Category : Buyers

First Time Home Buyers – Be Prepared!

Wed, 27th May, 2009 - Posted by Sean Kavanagh - (0) Comment

If you have been following my blogs, you will know that a flood of buyers have come on the market hoping to take advantage of lower prices and record low interest rates. The mistake many new home buyers make is forgetting to calculate the additional cost associated with real estate purchases and sales.

There are many things a first time home buyer should consider well before they start searching for a home. You will have to think about your down payment (anything less than 20% will cost you an additional CMHC insurance payment), mortgage pre-qualification and other costs and fees associated with closing a real estate transaction.

The following is a check list of all things to be considered throughout the entire process:
1) Find a local expert realtor you are confident will work hard in your best interests.
2) Arrange financing with a bank or mortgage broker so you know how much you can afford to spend. You realtor will be able to make suggestions, but make sure you shop around for the best rates available.
3) Find a local real estate lawyer. Ensure that the lawyer you choose actually specializes in real estate transactions!
4) Call the company that insures your cars to ask them about home insurance. Call a few companies to find the best rates, but you can often get a discount if you bundle your car insurance with your home insurance.
5) Call utility companies. You will have to arrange gas, hydro, water, cable, phone, internet, etc.
6) Arrange movers. Moving companies cost much more than a case of beer and a box of pizza.

Purchasing a home costs much more than the price of the home and these costs must be factored in before you sign an agreement of purchase and sale. As buyers, you are exempt from paying your realtor (the sellers pay agent’s fees) and as first time buyers, you are also exempt from paying land transfer tax.

Lawyer fees can run approximately $1000 but they are very integral to the process. They search and confirm title to the property, physically close the transaction, register and prepare any mortgage documents. Another expense to consider is the initial property deposit, which is part of the down payment. 24 hours after an accepted offer, you are obligated to provide a deposit on the property. That can range from a few thousand dollars to a certain percentage of the purchase price.

By sitting down and making a list of all of the expenses associated with a purchase, you should be able to work out what you are comfortable paying. Also, when you are working out how much you can afford as your monthly mortgage payment, please do not forget to factor in your property taxes and your insurance!

Your realtor should be the person you look to for this advice which makes choosing your realtor one of the most important decisions you can make in this entire process. First time homebuyers should choose a knowledgeable local realtor with a good reputation and one that has come highly recommended by someone you know and trust. I often hear ‘He was alright’ when asking people about their previous experiences with realtors. For an investment of this magnitude you want to choose someone who provided service above and beyond the expectations of the person referring the realtor. You also want to hear an emphatic “YES” when asked if they would use that realtor for their next real estate transaction.

When buying, confirm your realtor thoroughly researches past neighbourhood sales, explains the costs of work that will need to be done to the property and also has a thorough knowledge of the current real estate market in your area to ensure you do not over pay for the property. When selling, have the realtor provide you with a written report of recent solds and properties that are currently active in your neighbourhood so you can establish a reasonable list price that will get your home sold in the shortest period of time.

For new home buyers, the Ontario government plans to blend the federal GST with the provincial sales tax next year, which could significantly increase the final price as many of the services that currently do not charge PST, will now get 8% more expensive. On new homes, where GST is already included, the tax harmonization will apply another eight per cent provincial tax to houses worth more than $500,000. New homes worth under $400,000 will not face the additional tax, while those between $400,000 and $500,000 will pay the tax but get a rebate.

I am not trying to scare anyone away from home purchasing, but I would be remiss if I didn’t make you aware of all the costs that must be considered when purchasing a home. For more information on buying or selling real estate in Burlington, Hamilton or Oakville, Ontario, or if you have questions about current market trends, mortgages or interest rate information, please visit me again on my website www.seansells.ca or call me at 905-220-9198 and I’d be glad to answer any questions to accommodate all of your real estate needs. I can also be reached at www.realestatechat.ca as I am now a moderator on the Ontario Real Estate chat forum as well as the Burlington, Ontario sub-forum.
Happy house hunting!

Category : Buyers

Hamilton Mountain Beauty priced to sell at $189,000!!!

Sun, 17th May, 2009 - Posted by Sean Kavanagh - (0) Comment

JUST REDUCED to $189,000 – 21 East 16th Street on the mountain in Hamilton

Great family home located in a prime central mountain neighbourhood. This recently updated detached 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2.5 storey beauty offers a separate dining room and living room, main floor den, with a large eat-in kitchen with walk-out to large deck and private backyard. Recently painted and updated. Up on the mountain, but close to downtown! Minutes to shopping, school, recreation and other amenities.

This beautiful home will go quickly now at $189.000!

Own this Hamilton mountain beauty for payments as low as $344.28!………YES, I said $344.28!

Call today for your private viewing, but book soon as this property won’t last long!

To visit your community real estate resource centre, click here.

For more information on buying or selling real estate in Burlington, Hamilton or Oakville, Ontario, or if you have questions about current market trends, mortgages or interest rate information, please visit me again on my website www.seansells.ca or www.seankavanagh.ca or call me at 905-220-9198 and I’d be glad to answer any questions to accommodate all of your real estate needs.

Sean Kavanagh

Category : Sold

Interest Rate Watch – May 15, 2009

Sat, 16th May, 2009 - Posted by Sean Kavanagh - (0) Comment

Term          Rate
6 Months    4.25%
1 Year        2.90%
2 Years      2.85%
3 Years      3.05%
4 Years      3.59%
5 Years      3.59%
7 Years      4.95%
10 Years    5.05%
Prime        2.25%
Variable     2.85%

Let me help save you money! Send me your email address or give me a call and I’ll send you periodical interest rate updates, along with any other market information you may be interested in.
Buyers and sellers can find everything they need to make the most informed choices on properties in Burlington or Oakville by calling 905-220-9198 or by visiting my real estate resource centre at www.seansells.ca.

Sean Kavanagh

Category : Mortgage

Burlington Real Estate Market Report – April 2009

Sat, 16th May, 2009 - Posted by Sean Kavanagh - (0) Comment

Burlington, Ontario: The nice weather and the emergence of spring coupled with the effects of record low interest rates and low housing prices have renewed life back into Burlington real estate!
Average prices are steadily rising and gradually catching up to the prices of last year. Average prices were $351,203 in April of 2008 compared to $345,400 in April 2009. This also represents a 2% increase from last month. The number of units sold also jumped from last month by 25% to 314 units from 252 units in March. It is encouraging to see that in many areas in Burlington, housing prices and the number of units sold are approaching or have surpassed 2008 totals.
If you were looking for the time to buy a home in the beautiful city of Burlington, this is it! Find your dream home at an affordable price if you start looking today!
For market information specific to your area in Burlington, or any other area of interest, please call or send me an email so I can send this valuable market information to you on a regular basis.

Sean Kavanagh

www.seansells.ca
www.seankavanagh.ca
sean.kavanagh@century21.ca

Category : Burlington / Market Updates

Oakville Real Estate Market Report – April 2009

Fri, 15th May, 2009 - Posted by Sean Kavanagh - (0) Comment

Oakville, Ontario: If you were ever looking for the right time to buy in Oakville, don’t wait any longer as now is the time. With record low interest rates, large inventory of houses on the market and stabalizing prices, you might not want to miss out on the great opportunities to buy your Oakville dream property.
Average housing prices in Oakville are gradually catching up to the prices of last year at this time. April 2008 showed an average price of $509,291 where as houses in April 2009 have sold for an average of $506,672 representing only a 1% decrease from last year but a 12% increase from last month. The number of houses sold in Oakville have also climbed since last month, but are still below the numbers of 2008. In April of 2008, 352 houses were sold compared to 304 homes sold in April of 2009.
For everyone who has always dreamed of living in the beautiful area of Oakville, now is the time to find your dream home at a price you can afford!
To stay current with real estate market information in the Oakville area, or any other area of interest, please call or send me an email so I can send this valuable market information to you on a regular basis.

Sean Kavanagh

www.seansells.ca
www.seankavanagh.ca
sean.kavanagh@century21.ca

Category : Market Updates

Tips for maintaining a beautiful lawn

Thu, 14th May, 2009 - Posted by Sean Kavanagh - (0) Comment

Have you been fighting the battle of the weeds, brown patches, or sprawling clover? Well, we will look at some lawn care strategies that will help revive your grass into a full, lush, green, weed-free lawn! When real estate professionals talk about curb appeal, it starts with the lawn. Now that spring is upon us and more people are heading out into the yard to tackle the issues left over from a long winter, I have decided to help you out with some tips to regain the health of your lawn.

1) Never cut the grass too short! Leaving the grass longer protects the plant from the sun, keeps it strong and helps resist from weed and clover growth. A thick lawn is the best defence against weeds. Never cut the grass in extreme heat or water shortage as the short grass will burn and kill the plant.
2) When you cut the grass, do not rake or remove the clippings from the lawn. The clipping help keep the moisture in the soil and add nutients back into the ground.
3) Water in the early morning or early evening to increase absorption into the soil and to avoid evaporation from the sun.
4) Speaking of watering, remember to water well! The water needs to penetrate the roots and when the lawn is watered well, you can expect the grass to bounce back.
5) Reseed the lawn every spring and add fertilizer or enriched soil to help out the process.

Following these helpful tips will ensure your grass grows into a full, lush, green lawn.

For more information on buying or selling real estate in Burlington or Oakville, Ontario, or if you have questions about current market trends, mortgages or interest rate information, please visit me again on my website www.seansells.ca or call me at 905-220-9198 and I’d be glad to answer any questions to accommodate all of your real estate needs.

Sean Kavanagh

Category : Home Improvements

How to stage your home like a pro

Sat, 9th May, 2009 - Posted by Sean Kavanagh - (0) Comment

1. Clean house
Make sure your house is clean! Get rid of odours – a huge turnoff for prospective buyers – by opening windows, washing floors and walls and cleaning your rugs and upholstery. Next, de-clutter your space. A jam-packed house not only makes the house look cluttered, it makes the house look smaller. When you are selling, the objective is to make your home look bigger! A lot of sellers these days are actually taking out a third of their furniture to show off more of the space. Place your items in storage, call a local consignment shop or charity to pick things up, or use a relative’s garage. Don’t use your own garage for storage, because buyers will want to look in there. Having 2 sofas and a chair in your livingroom might crowd the space. Take out one of the sofas to create more space.

2. Give it a fresh coat
If you have a little extra time and money, a paint job offers the most dramatic results. If the paint doesn’t look fresh or if the walls are painted in wild and bold colours, buyers will be turned off. Dark colours also make rooms look smaller. You have to clean up the look of the rooms with a fresh coat and make it look bright with light neutral colours.

3. Add layers
Give your house a soft, lived-in look by adding curtains, blankets and cushions. Cover the old blinds with a fresh new set of curtains. It’ll create a luxurious impact that buyers like. Fill three attractive vases with fresh blooms and set one on the dining-room table, one in the entryway and one in the master bedroom, or even in the powder room.

4. Define spaces
If you’re trying to sell an open-concept house, make sure you put prospective buyers’ minds at ease by clearly defining spaces. Using rugs is one way to establish where one room ends and the other begins. Arrange your furniture in traditional vignettes so buyers can easily grasp your home’s layout. People want to walk into a room and envision what each room is used for and how they will fit their furniture in that space. If one of your bedrooms is empty or is being used for other purposes (office or T.V. room), change it back to a bedroom by adding a matress …and make the bed! Even though the listing may say 3 bedrooms, some buyers may not see it that way.

5. Get outside
Don’t forget about your home’s exterior. Create a good first impression by placing some attractive planters along the steps, cutting the grass and weeding the garden. A fresh coat of paint to the exterior will also brighten things up making yours look like the gem on the street. Colourful annuals really add to the curb appeal, as well. Keep garbage hidden from sight and make sure there is nothing in the driveway so buyers can envision themselves driving in from a hard day at work.

6. Be natural
It’s not necessary to set the dining-room table, and don’t start baking cookies in the oven before buyers drop by. Anything that’s too clichéd or over-the-top will draw skepticism from buyers. Buyers just want to see a nice, clean product that they can see themselves living in.

7. Sleep on it
Everyone knows kitchens and bathrooms are important when it comes to selling your house, but today’s buyers are also focusing on bedrooms. So whether you’re sprucing things up or refitting with new furniture, don’t forget the master bedroom. Nice window coverings, decorative pillows and attractive bedding can inhance the look of the room. If you have dark colours on the wall, repaint it a light neutral colour to make the room look bigger. Also, take some of your clothes out of the closet to create the perception of large bedroom closets.

For more information on staging your home, buying or selling real estate in Hamilton, Burlington or Oakville, Ontario, or if you have questions about current market trends, mortgages or interest rate information, please visit me again on my website www.seansells.ca or call me at 905-220-9198 and I’d be glad to answer any questions to accommodate all of your real estate needs.

Sean Kavanagh

Category : Home Staging / Sellers

Common mistakes buyers should avoid

Thu, 7th May, 2009 - Posted by Sean Kavanagh - (0) Comment

Lesson #1 Never skip the home inspection
Investing $300-$400 before you take possession could save you thousands after you take possession. If you trust your real estate agent, trust the home inspector they use. It is also advisable to interview other inspectors to make sure you are satisfied the inspector you choose will do the best job for you. Go online and download lists of questions you should be asking so you are involved, as well as getting educated on what is happening in your future home. Remember: the home inspection is not only for the purposes of ensuring you are buying a home void of serious flaws and faults, it is also to help you understand the structure of your home and how the mechanics of your home work. Do you know where the water shut off is in case of a flood? Do you know how to change a furnace filter? How do you know when it’s time to replace the roof?

Remember to always ask for a written report. You should transfer all of the answers to your questions and special notes from the inspector to that report and keep it in a place where you won’t forget it! It will prove to be an invaluable home resource.

Home inspection how-to Check with the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors to find a regulated home inspector in your area who has met the provincial or regional association’s certification requirements.

Lesson #2 Take your time
Take your time when you choose your agent and take your time when you choose your house. Buying a home is not only an exciting, joyful experience, it is also one of the biggest investments that you will ever make.

Ask friends and colleagues about their experiences and if they would recommend the agent they used. If the response you get is “yeah, he was alright…I guess”….move on! You want to be satisfied with the knowledge of the agent, but you also have to feel comfortable with that person. There are questions you should be asking your agent and if you don’t feel comfortable asking the necessary questions…..move on! There are a lot of agents who care….but there are a lot of agents who don’t. Be clear on which one you choose!

Get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start seriously searching. That gives you a clear idea of what you can afford so you don’t end up overspending. As you did with your agent search, interview various lenders as each lender might have different rates and different terms.

Lesson #3 Get ready for negotiation

Limit your conditions to make your offer more attractive. By limiting your conditions and being flexible with closing date may help you get more money off of the list price. However, don’t forget Lesson #1: Never Skip the Home Inspection!

One condition that I always include, regardless of how hot the market, is that the seller provide a warranty that all heating, cooling equipment and appliances are in good working order. Appliances, Air conditioner, and your furnace are all items that were included as part of your offer and you should ensure that they work once you move in. The money that you saved by negotiating a lower price can all go out the window if you have to replace all of the appliances!

Don’t make any demands about the closing date. A seller will be less likely to accept your offer if you want to move in sooner than he wants to move out.

Lesson #4 Know who your lawyer is
As with the Home Inspector, don’t go for the cheapest one you can find. I know Lawyers can be expensive, but a good lawyer will ensure your transaction is clean and nothing will be overlooked.

It’s important to choose a lawyer who focuses on real estate. You’re more likely to get proper service if you deal with a lawyer who specializes in real estate rather than one who’s trying to make a few extra bucks on the side and who doesn’t deal in this area on a regular basis.

Don’t be shy about asking for references. A lawyer’s running a business like any other professional and he should be prepared to discuss fees and provide references.

More dos and don’ts

For the buyer

Don’t sweat the wall stuff Try not to be discouraged by a bit of peeling paint, cracks or holes. Damage that isn’t structural is easily fixed and makes a huge difference.

Budget for extras Normally, realtors advise you to budget up to two per cent for closing costs, but when you buy property in a new development, you may be charged additional fees such as meter installation and sewer service connection. These can add unexpected costs.

For the seller

Make sure the price is right Sellers tend to overestimate what their houses are worth. Just because the house down the block sold for a bundle doesn’t mean yours will, too. Do your research, then consult up to three realtors. If you’re not satisfied with the realtors’ advice, move on to a professional appraiser.

Close the zoo Not everyone viewing your house will love your dog, cat or ferret as much as you do. And pets can be a distraction. Take them out of your home, if possible, when buyers come by, especially during an open house.

Butt Out! If you are a smoker, take it outside. There is only one ‘turn off’ bigger than animal smell, and that is smoke smell. First impressions are vital in real estate and if a potential buyer’s first impression is of the smell and not the lovely job you did refinishing the hardwood floors, you drastically limit your chances of selling your house. Consider this: if you think that 25% of the population still smoke, then 75% don’t! Since a non-smoker is unlikely to buy a house that smells of smoke, your new target market has been reduced by 75%.

Bake sale Leave out a few “hospitality treats,” such as coffee and cinnamon buns, for prospective buyers. Even if they don’t eat them, the scent of fresh-baked goodies wafting through the house can make your house feel cosy and inviting, leaving a lasting impression.

For more information on buying or selling real estate in Burlington or Oakville, Ontario, or if you have questions about current market trends, mortgages or interest rate information, please visit me again on my website www.seansells.ca or call me at 905-220-9198 and I’d be glad to answer any questions to accommodate all of your real estate needs.

Category : Buyers
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