(306) 634-2628 RE/MAX Blue Chip Realty

 

 

6 Things to Consider Before Finishing Your Basement

Tue, 09 Feb by remax-bluechip-estevan-sk

 

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Is this winter’s bout of cabin fever got you dreaming of more space in your home? Do you find yourself fantasizing about a separate room where you can cloister the kids when it’s too cold for them to play outside? Your solution may be right beneath your feet. Here are few things to keep in mind if you’re considering refinishing your basement.

1. Water, water, anywhere?
Have a pro come in and investigate any evidence of water damage in your basement. You’ll need to resolve any moisture issues before you begin remodeling.

2. Know the code
Before you design your dream basement, check the municipal code for any restrictions that may impact your project, such as the number of exits required or regulations about adding bathrooms and kitchens below the main floor of your home.

3. Kill the chill
Check with a contractor to find out if there are ways to adjust your home’s current ventilation and heating configuration to efficiently heat your basement. Installing quality flooring can help with insulation.

4. Light up your (underground) life
Avoid creating a well-decorated dungeon by installing adequate lighting, especially if there are no windows.

5. The right steps
Don’t skimp on the stairway. Carpeting on the stairs, bright lights and handrails make access safer and more inviting.

6. Turn down the volume
If you have plans for an entertainment center, consider installing sound insulation in the ceiling to help tone things down.

Not sure if turning your basement into an underground oasis is worth the investment? Talk to a local agent familiar with your particular market and find out which features buyers have been looking for.

7 Fireplace Safety Tips

Wed, 20 Jan by remax-bluechip-estevan-sk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curling up in front of the fireplace with a book can be the quinteFireFullSizessence of coziness on a cold winter’s day, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t maintain your fireplace and use it correctly.

Here are a few safety tips when using your fireplace this winter.

1. Go with a pro
The National Fire Protection Association suggests you hire a certified chimney cleaner to inspect your fireplace and chimney at least once a year. They probably won’t sing catchy songs in a Cockney accent like in “Mary Poppins,” but they will remove dangerous clogs and buildup.

2. Put a lid on it
Ever chase a squirrel around your house with a broom? Exciting, but not fun. Prevent critters, birds and debris from coming down your chimney by installing a wire mesh cap on top of your chimney.

3. Play defense
Spark guards, the mesh screens that can be placed in front of your fire, prevent flying embers from launching into your living room and starting trouble. When you leave the room (or fall asleep) it’s especially important to use one.

4. Be wood wise
Burn seasoned hardwood that has been dried for at least six months. Green, unseasoned or soft woods such as pine emit more creosote — that’s the flammable stuff that can build up in your chimney.

5. Check your equipment
Test your smoke detectors every month, change your batteries every year and replace devices every 10 years.

6. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand
Have one. And be sure you know how to use it.

7. Seal it up
When not using your fireplace, close the damper to prevent warm air, and the money you spend to heat your house, from being lost straight up your chimney.

Is a fireplace one of the top features on your “must-have” list for a new home? The right agent can help you find neighborhoods that allow wood burning fires, and a home with just the right hearth.

Books About Moving to Read to Your Kids

Fri, 27 Nov by remax-bluechip-estevan-sk

 

 

 

Moving to a new home, a new neighborhood and a new school can be tough for kids. Luckily, a variety of children’s books are out there to help parents explain things, add some fun and hopefully alleviate fears.

Here are a few classics – and you can post your favorite children’s book titles about moving in the comments section below:

1. “Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move” by Judith Viorst
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1995
Poor Alexander. First, the kid had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Now, his family is moving! Just like your kids, Alexander has to say goodbye to some special places and people, but with the help of his parents he learns to make the most of the situation.

2. “The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day” by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Random House Books for Young Readers, 1981
Little Brother Bear’s pretty worried about moving, and more than a little scared. Kids can relate to his apprehension, and hopefully his positive change of view as moving day gets closer.

3. “A House for Hermit Crab” by Eric Carle
Aladdin Paperbacks, 1987
A little hermit crab has outgrown his shell and needs to find a bigger one – and new friends to help decorate it. This book will reassure kids that it will be easy to make new friends in their new town.

4. “Tigger’s Moving Day” by Kathleen W. Zoehfeld
Disney, 1999
Tigger needs a place with more bouncing room! His friends aren’t as close to his new house, but they still come and visit. A story to help kids understand they’ll still be able to hold on to old connections.

5. “Goodbye House” by Frank Asch
Moonbear Books, 1989
This book is a terrific way to talk about moving with preschoolers. After the moving van is packed, a little bear returns to say farewell to his old house, saying goodbye to everything, except, of course, the memories.

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5 Winning Tips for Writing an Offer Letter

Tue, 03 Nov by remax-bluechip-estevan-sk

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In some hot housing markets, including a letter with your formal offer to buy a home is all but required. Unfortunately, Hallmark doesn’t make a card for the occasion (yet). Here are a few tips:

1. Get emotional.
Take advantage of this opportunity to sail beyond the facts and figures to convey a personal connection to the home. Pick one or two features and talk about how they fit into your vision of the perfect home. For example, “Holiday meals are important to my family. Your large kitchen has everything I need to re-create my grandmother’s recipes, and would fit all of my relatives who like to gossip while cooking.” Or, “During our showing my children escaped to climb trees in your back yard. They fell in love with the home as much as I did.”

2. Connect with the seller.
Find one or two similarities between your family and the seller’s, based on what you can discern from the home. Show you have something in common, but be careful not too dig too deep (nobody wants to sell to a stalker). For example: “We’re so excited that your home not only has a beautiful, fenced yard, but also a dog door. Our lives revolve around our two rescue pups, Sonny and Cher, who would literally leap for joy in a yard of their own.”

3. Don’t be afraid to flatter.
Tell the seller why you adore specific features that have been upgraded: “We love those colorful tiles you used on the kitchen back splash. They remind us so much of our honeymoon in Portugal.”

4. Don’t whine.
This is not the place to play the sympathy card. No sob stories about why you sold your last place, or how many deals have fallen through. You want the seller to feel good reading your letter.

5. Grammar matters.
Check spelling and grammar. Have a grammar-nerd friend triple check it for you. You want the seller to know you put time and care into your honest appeal.

Not sure where to start? Find a local RE/MAX agent who can help.

3 Spooky Myths of Home Buying

Fri, 23 Oct by remax-bluechip-estevan-sk

All of the frights of the fall – like the terrifying calorie count of the handfuls of treats you’re scarfing down at the office and the ghouls and goblins lurking at your door – will all be gone before you know it. But some horrors last year-round, including scary myths about buying a home.

Let’s take the fear out of a few of them.

1. Spooky myth: You need a 20 percent down payment to buy a home.
Truth: Not every lender requires such a large down payment from every buyer. It all depends on your financial situation, and often your credit worthiness. Buyers often pay a down payment of between 5 and 10 percent. In fact, some Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loans require only a 3.5-percent down payment. There are also programs that help provide down-payment assistance for first-time homebuyers. You’ll want to explore all your options.

2. Spooky myth: You’ll never qualify for a mortgage if you have any outstanding debt.
Truth: Just like there are good witches and bad witches, there’s good debt and bad debt. Excessive debt and late payments can crush a credit score, which could mean trouble when it comes to qualifying for a home loan. However, good debt that you’ve dutifully been paying off bit by bit, like school and car loans, can actually help your chances by showing that you’ve been financially responsible. Another key factor is your debt-to-income ratio. Essentially, lenders don’t want your housing expense to exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income, and they don’t want your monthly debts (for example, credit card minimums and car payments) to exceed 36 percent of your gross monthly income. This is called the 28/36 rule. If you fall within the parameters of the rule, it’s OK to be optimistic about your chances of qualifying for a mortgage.

3. Spooky myth: The mortgage amount I qualify to borrow represents what I can afford.
Truth: This is so wrong, it’s blood curdling. Lenders who prequalify you for a home loan are not considering all the facets of your budget, such as child care costs, groceries and utilities. They look primarily at your gross income, your debt and your credit-worthiness. It’s up to you to determine your price range based on the monthly payment you can afford to absorb when you consider your take-home pay and all of your monthly expenses. The number you’re comfortable with may be lower than the amount the lender has authorized. And whether or not you can afford the monthly payment on the full qualifying amount, you don’t have to borrow as much as the bank is willing to lend you.ScaryMyths_FullSize2

Keep Halloween scary but take the spookiness out of buying a home. Find a RE/MAX agent who can help melt your fears.

4 Steps to Launch the Home Buying Process

Mon, 19 Oct by remax-bluechip-estevan-sk

You’ve decided you’re ready to buy your own home­ – now what? Start with these initial steps:

1. Get your financial ducks in a row.
Calculate how much money you have in savings and assets, your total annual income and your expenses. Know how much of it you can allocate toward a downpayment and other expenses. Check your credit report and fix any errors. This will help you determine what type of loan you qualify for, and the price range of homes you want to look at.

2. Determine how much house you can afford.
A common rule is that your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28 percent of your pre-tax income. You can plug your information into an online mortgage calculator to get a starting idea of exactly how much you’ll pay each month with different interest rates and terms.

3. Find a real estate agent.
Interview several agents to find one that specializes in the communities you’re interested in and has experience representing buyers with the type of home you’re looking for. Search for a local agent now.

4. Shop!
It’s important that you keep an open mind and look at a wide range of properties. Go to open houses. Cruise the Internet. Peruse different neighborhoods. Your agent will also help by finding properties that match as many of your “wants” and “needs” as possible. When you fall in love with a house and are ready to make it official, your agent can help you navigate the process from putting in an offer to the closing table.

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6 Budgeting Tips to Help You Save for a Down Payment

Fri, 16 Oct by remax-bluechip-estevan-sk

DownPayment-FullSizeSaving enough cash for a down payment may seem impossible, but with planning and discipline you can make it happen. It might not be tomorrow, but owning your own home is something worth waiting for, working for and, perhaps, sacrificing a few expensive coffee drinks for as well. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Track every dollar. Find out exactly where your money goes each month by keeping track of every single thing you purchase over 30 days. Review your card and bank statements carefully to categorize where you spent each dollar (e.g., entertainment, food, clothing). Sites like mint.com can also help you track and categorize spending.

2. Rate every purchase. Using the month of expenditures, rate each item or service you bought as a “want” or a “need.”

3. Set savings goals. Using your “needs” and “wants” list, determine where you can realistically cut spending. If it means that much, you don’t necessarily have to cut out Starbucks altogether, but reducing your trips will certainly help. Use the budget to set monthly and yearly savings goals.

4. Set aside funds. Create a separate savings account for your down payment. It’s not only easier to track, but blocking off the funds may make you think twice before dipping into that money for something other than your future home.

5. Save automatically. If you are paid through direct deposit, chances are you can split your paychecks into more than one account. Set up your new “down payment” savings account to take in a portion of your regular direct deposits. You can’t miss money you don’t see in the first place.

6. Maximize your returns. Once you have a bit of money saved, talk to a financial professional about other places you might invest it to get a bigger return than you would by keeping it in your savings account – perhaps a money market account or a certificate of deposit (CD).

 

6 Tricks to Help Sell Your Home in Autumn

Thu, 15 Oct by remax-bluechip-estevan-sk

It’s easy to boost buyers’ impression of your home in new, inexpensive ways with each season. Here are a few things you can do in the fall to make it as inviting as a basket of Halloween candy.

1. Light it up.
Shorter days and longer shadows mean you need to be particularly careful to maximize natural light with open drapes and blinds, and add more light where needed with floor and tabletop lamps. Replace any burned-out bulbs in outdoor lights. And schedule showings earlier in the day, when the light is stronger. Adequate lighting makes a bigger difference than you might think.

2. Rake in the leaves (and the buyers).
Keep up with your yard work to help hike curb appeal. Clean up the leaves, and trim back any overgrown or dead plants. Cut back trees and hedges that hide or overshadow windows and porches.

3. Stash the toys.
Store all those pool toys, bikes and croquet sets. A less-cluttered yard appears larger. Leave the grill, though. One that’s shiny and clean can help buyers see the possibilities of living out their hamburger-and-steak fantasies. If you have nice patio furniture, arranging it around a fire pit – even just a portable or tabletop one – creates a warm, social atmosphere.

4. Mum’s the word.
They’re cheap. They’re cheerful. And they’re hard to kill. A pot or two of orange or gold chrysanthemums can brighten up your porch, deck and steps. Pumpkins also can add a bright, seasonal touch as well, but be careful not to overdo it. You’re decorating a home, not a department store.

5. Burn, baby, burn.
If your home has a fireplace, now’s the time to let it shine. Of course, you probably don’t want to light a blaze for showings, just in case the fire’s unattended between appointments. But you can make sure it’s clean. Tasteful fall décor, like a simple vase of pinecones can add a nice seasonal touch to the mantle or hearth. If your agent will be hosting an open house, a crackling fire with lots of comfy seating can be a great touch.

6. Two words: pumpkin spice.
Don’t worry, there’s no need to actually bake a pie. Before showings, simply burn scented candles with seasonal aromas, like apple, cinnamon and ginger, to add to your home’s coziness.

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Drive Safe with Your Furry Companions

Tue, 13 Oct by remax-bluechip-estevan-sk

DrivingPets_OriginalThe drive to your new home can be the ultimate road trip for you and your pet. They probably won’t argue about your choice of music and they also won’t ask “are we there yet?” a million times (at least not in so many words). Still, the open road can present a wide range of dangers to our four-legged friends. Here are some tips to help keep them safe during your travels.

1. Vet check.
Take your pet for a checkup to be sure he or she is healthy enough to travel. If you’re crossing state lines, get an official health certificate to prove they are up to date on all vaccinations. Finally, pick up an extra supply of your pet’s meds, just in case you misplace them among everything else that’s stuffed in the car or U-Haul.

2. Check their ID.
Can you still read the engraving on your pet’s tag? Be sure the information is up-to-date and legible. Double check the information registered with your pet’s microchip.

3. Practice.
Your dog may be used to riding along with you. Your cat, ferret or bunny? Likely not. Take them on short trips before you go so the big journey is less of a shocker.

4. Secure the carrier.
The safest place for a pet in a vehicle is in a crate in the back seat (away from the airbags). Secure it with a seatbelt so it won’t shift during sudden stops or turns. If they’re not used to a carrier, have them spend some “happy time” in it before hand, with treats and toys, so that it will be familiar. Your favorite pet store may also sell seatbelt attachments specifically made for your dog (our feline friends are out of luck).

5. Plan ahead.
Don’t find yourself stranded miles from the nearest pet-friendly hotel. Research and book accommodations ahead of time so you know exactly where your furry friend will be welcome.

6. Save time for roadside attractions.
You’ll need to stop every few hours for bathroom breaks anyway, so you might as well combine rest stops with parks good for strolling or lakes for a dip.

7. Don’t ever leave your pet alone in the car.
Even with the window cracked, temps can soar in moments. Your pet could also be stolen.

8. Bring a buddy.
Driving with another person means you’ll always have someone to help you adhere to tip #7.

Thinking of moving cross-country? Start by finding an agent at RE/MAX Blue Chip Realty.

7 Staging Tips for Small Outdoor Spaces

Thu, 08 Oct by remax-bluechip-estevan-sk

An attractive outdoor space, even if it’s just big enough to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or evening cocktail, can be a major selling point for potential buyers. Here are a few suggestions for maximizing your outdoor living space.

1. Floor it.
If you have a small outdoor area, it won’t break the bank to invest in higher quality tiles or stones. Snap-in deck tiles are another option for adding a touch of class.

2. Envision clarity.
When it comes to tables, go for glass-topped: It will help create the illusion of a larger space.

3. Watch your back.
Chairs and benches with more open backs don’t interrupt sight lines as much. They’ll keep your space feeling open, and looking larger.

4. Focus.
Creating a focal point in a small space adds visual interest. A simple piece of garden art, a small flowering tree or a tiny water feature in a corner can add style and distract buyers from focusing on square footage.

5. Scale down.
The world’s largest outdoor chaise lounge may be a napper’s dream, but it won’t do much to help your patio or deck. Choose outdoor furniture scaled to set off your space, not smother it. You can even find fire pits in smaller sizes.

6. Get vertical.
Wall gardens help add green without sacrificing space. Wall art made from succulent plants is another low-maintenance option for adding foliage, and drawing attention to the edges of your space, which helps visually enlarge it.

7. Don’t hide the grill.
A clean barbecue can help buyers imagine their own outdoor meals. Unless you have a grill or smoker large enough to hold the entire pig, or if your grill is in disrepair, keep it out.

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