Posts in Kijiji for the Home

5 Tips for the First Time Home Buyer

With mortgage rates possibly headed even lower and property values skyrocketing in some parts of the country, many are considering if now the time to take the plunge into home ownership is now.

1st Time Home Buyers

Think with your head, not your heart. Buying a home is emotional, we get it – but, ideally, you should treat it like you would any other investment to get the most out of the transaction. It is easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and be so afraid of losing out that you are willing to overlook certain things, or skip certain steps such as the home inspection (don’t let anyone pressure you into buying without a home inspection clause, and don’t use the inspector recommended by the selling agent).

Crunch the numbers (independently). So you are pre-approved for a mortgage? Great – that is a good way to show sellers you are serious, and to get an idea of what the bank will give you. Don’t make the mistake of trusting what the bank says you can afford. Remember, selling mortgages is big business for them, and they are trying to sell you on using their products. They will likely pre-approve you for an amount higher than what you can actually afford, as they don’t take into account your daycare costs, the price of your daily commute, what it will cost to make home repairs, and all those other day to day living expenses. Make sure the amount of mortgage you are signing on for is something you can realistically carry, and do some additional calculations for in case interest rates go up. You don’t want to be forced to sell if interest rates rise. Don’t forget to consider different payment schedules and amortization periods. A shorter amortization period or accelerated biweekly payments rather than monthly could save you thousands of dollars in the long run. See how much you could save by using the federal government’s home buyers plan (up to $25000 for an individual, or $50000 for a couple can be borrowed from RRSPs). Does it make sense to use for you?

Remember the invisible costs. Closing costs, land transfer taxes, moving, home repair and renovation costs, and real estate lawyer fees all need to be factored in to the total cost of owning a home. Make sure you have plenty of room in your budget.

Buy at the right time for you and your family, not for interest rates. It is tempting to rush to take advantage of a great rate, but if you end up buying before you can afford it, you might not be as happy in your house as you are imagining yourself to be. Being house poor is no fun, so make sure you have a good down payment and you are comfortable taking on the extra commute, payments, or responsibility of making all the fixes yourself at this point in your life. Do you know your credit score? If it is low, you would save money by improving your credit worthiness before buying a home, and rushing might not make sense.

Don’t furnish your home on credit. Once you move into a big house, after spending all your extra cash on closing fees and moving, it can be tempting to furnish your house with a “buy now, pay later” arrangement. Don’t do it – wait until you have the money for the furniture you want, and save money by buying used furniture on your local Kijiji.

Selling Your Home By Owner: Is it a Smart Choice?

Thinking about selling your house? Looking at the commissions that real estate agents charge on every sale makes selling your home by owner look like a great option, but is it right for you? A lot of what traditional real estate agents do is invisible. Selling your home by owner might be a great way to save yourself major cash – or it might be a gigantic headache and far more trouble than the savings on commission is worth. Whether or not it is a good idea depends on whether you are equipped to do the work. Not everyone is, and some give up midway through the process and hire a real estate agent anyway. For those who are able to pull off the process well, it is a great way to save some of the huge costs associated with moving. How do you know if selling your home yourself is a good idea for you?

house for sale by owner

You are comfortable negotiating. Buying or selling a house is the biggest transaction of a lifetime for most people, and the negotiations can drag on and get pretty complex. Buyers might have all sorts of strange demands, and if you go into the transaction alone, you will need to be educated on what demands are standard, and what are unreasonable. They will also be looking to save money on the list price, so if you are selling your home by owner, make sure you are comfortable haggling and don’t take low offers personally. If you are not comfortable negotiating prices, it will be worth it to pay a professional to do so on your behalf. If you don’t negotiate often, but want to sell your home by owner anyway, practise often with smaller items before listing your home. Learn how to negotiate without causing offense.

You are comfortable touring strangers through your house. Not everyone is, and that is ok. Buyers might criticize your décor choices, talk about things they would change, walls they would knock down, and do things like test your taps, inspect your back basement, or flush your toilets. You’ll have to act professional and like none of those things get under your skin so as not to scare off the buyers or sour the transaction before it starts.

You have the time and a flexible schedule. Prospective buyers are going to want to tour the home before making any offers, and their schedule might be wildly different from yours. You can reduce the time commitment if you are able to schedule house tours in groups of prospective buyers, but you will have to be prepared to let a significant number of people into your home, which could end up being weeks or months of moving around your schedule to accommodate them.

You can think about your home’s value objectively. It can be difficult to determine the worth of your own possessions. People tend to value their own things higher than they might value the same thing if it did not belong to them. If you are someone who tends to price items you have owned for the same price as you paid for them or more, you might want to think about enlisting professional help to assess the value of your home. If you prefer to set the price on your own, check out what comparable properties have sold for in your neighbourhood or town to get an indication of a good starting point.

You can say no to people. If you handle the sale yourself, you will have to turn down low ball offers, and likely also ward off agents trying to get your business. If you have a hard time saying no firmly and politely, selling your home yourself might balloon into a giant headache for you.

Selling your home by owner has the potential to be a great way to save money, or a total waste of your time and resources. Being honest with yourself about what you are willing to put into the process, and your chances of success will be much higher.

Cookware 101: Which Material is Best for Pots and Pans?

Cooking was a lot simpler back in the day. Pots and pans all looked pretty standard, and everyone used relatively the same cookware and tools. These days, as with everything else in our lives, we have a lot more options available to us (which can be fantastic, but also a little overwhelming.)

One look down the kitchenware aisle (or aisles) at any department or cookware store is enough to give any cooking novice a headache. For the average person, all the pots and pans look the same- so how do we know which type is going to cater best to all our different cooking needs?

Here’s a simple breakdown of the most common types of cookware with some quick pros and cons and cleaning tips so you can shop without becoming overwhelmed.

Aluminum

The pros of aluminum pots and pans is that they transfer heat quickly, aren’t too heavy, and best of all, they are quite affordable. One important note about aluminum cookware is that aluminum itself is soft and can change shape when it’s used on high heat. One way to solve this problem is to use an aluminum pan or pot that has been coated in aluminum oxide, (also called anodized aluminum). Once there is a layer of coating on, the cookware becomes scratch resistant and much stronger under any cooking circumstances. Keep in mind, however, that anodized aluminum cookware is more expensive than a plain aluminum pot or pan.

Care Tip: Check to see if it is dishwasher safe! Some versions of aluminum based cookware cannot be cleaned in a dishwasher.

Stainless Steel

There are many pros to stainless steel cookware. It’s scratch-resistant, dishwasher safe, strong, and not usually very pricey. However, depending on how often you cook and what you usually like to cook, the cons may not work for you. Stainless steel cookware tends to not be very efficient with transferring heat and it’s also not known for being good with spreading the heat evenly throughout the cooking surface. Now, there are modifications that have been made to certain stainless steel cookware where an inner core with a more conductive metal has been added which will help spread the heat, however, this addition raises the cost.

Care Tip: Store stainless steel cookware in a dry, cool area otherwise you will have to deal with rust on your cookware.

Cast Iron

You might have seen cast iron skillets or pots at your friends’ homes and wondered what in the word could be cooking in there. Cast iron looks really heavy duty because it is. It’s one of the strongest, everything-resistant materials for cookware. You can really get a sense of how durable it is when you pick it up and feel just how heavy it is. Heat gets spread out very well with this type of material and what’s even better is that it can keep heat in long after it has been taken off whatever heat source you use. Another pro is that it’s perfect for getting the ideal sear on meats, so even when it’s the dead of winter, you can still get BBQ-esque food without the BBQ. Cons for this type of material are that it takes longer to heat up, and the heaviness of the cookware that was mentioned before isn’t ideal for everyone. Also, in some cases, it’s not a buy and use type situation- some cast iron pans and pots haven’t been “pre-seasoned” (which essentially means a coating of cooked-on vegetable oil that the manufacturer has performed). Without this protection, it can rust or make food stick to the surface. Even if the cast iron cookware is pre-seasoned, it still requires special maintenance in order to preserve its quality.

Care tip: Wash with hot water and mild soap, and remove all moisture completely before storing away in a cool, dry place.

Enameled Cast Iron

Enameled cast iron is very similar to cast iron, except for its (arguably) more attractive exterior. These are the beautifully coloured heavy duty pots you see used on cooking shows where the bright red lid is opened, and a perfectly done pork belly or roast is revealed. Enameled cast iron doesn’t require pre-seasoning as long as the lining is enamel as well, and it’s much easier to clean than raw (or plain) cast iron. Cons are that it may not give the most powerful sear or be as effective when used in its skillet form, but as a covered pot, it performs just as well. A popular example is Le Creuset cookware.

Copper

Of all the materials we’ve looked at, copper cookware is the winner when it comes to how fast it heats up and how evenly the heat is distributed. A unique feature that makes it preferable for serious cooks is that it cools as soon as you take it off the heat source which cooks know is essential to get the perfect cook on steaks, fish, and other meat that you want to keep tender and juicy. The cons of copper cookware are primarily that it’s expensive and it requires a little more work to maintain. Lining on a copper pan or pot needs to be replaced every 10-20 years (which isn’t actually too bad). It’s also important to keep in mind that if you cook a lot with acidic ingredients, it could react with the copper to create a metallic taste which isn’t exactly pleasant.

Care Tip: Never put copper cookware in the dishwasher and polish it regularly to keep its shine

Categories:Kijiji for the Home

How to downsize your living space

Moving from a house to a smaller space like a condo or an apartment can be challenging task, but it can also be a refreshing one.

For many, it’s an opportunity to de-clutter and recreate a place to call your own. It’s the perfect time to take an inventory of what you’ve accumulated over the years and decide each items fate. Perhaps it’s time to get rid of that old hand me down couch you’ve had since college, or recycle that stack of magazines piling up in your basement. Either way, decisions have to be made. Here are a few tips to make the process a little easier.

Downsizing Your Living Space

Create an Action Plan
Professional organizers will tell you to picture what kind of lifestyle you want and how you will achieve this in your next living space. Is it worth it to keep the bulky armchair? Should you keep that large dining room set just because it was pricey? Where will all this go in your new home? Creating a plan and knowing what furniture and other items you’ll want to take with you will help you along the road to downsizing. Do you pour over images of modern minimalist living spaces? To achieve that lifestyle, you will need to be ready to eliminate most of what fills a large suburban home. On the other hand, if you would have trouble feeling at home without your souvenirs and trinkets, aim to curate your collection to only the ones that you would miss if they were not around.

Purge
Do you need a TV in every room? Probably not, but if you do decide to keep some, mount them on the wall and get rid of that bulky entertainment unit to save space. To take it even further, get rid of your TVs altogether and watch programs online through a computer, tablet and or even a smartphone. Connect to Wi-Fi to reduce cable use.

To downsize even further, consider trimming down your library. Think about only keeping your favourite books and have an idea of where they will go in your new home. If you can’t find the space, it’s time to let them go or purchase a Kobo or Kindle, which can store thousands of books. Keep in mind, you can always borrow books from the library as well.

Kitchen appliances can also take up tons of valuable cabinet space. It may be time to give away the waffle maker or pasta maker you’ve only used once since your wedding day. Clothes and toiletries you haven’t used in a year are a good indication that you can do without them.

Memorabilia and other must-keep items you can’t part with
It can be hard leaving behind items that have been with you for decades so consider going digital. Take a picture of your old home and those items you’ve cherished to preserve those memories. Old newspaper clippings, letters and cards can also be scanned and saved. Remember to plan where you’ll be putting the items you do want to keep or consider letting them go.

Multi functionable furniture
When you have limited space, you have to be creative with the furniture you have. Think about buying a sleeper couch to replace your guest bedroom, or an ottoman that acts as a foot rest, storage unit and a coffee table.

Finding a new home for the unwanted
Make a quick buck or two by hosting a garage or yard sale to rid yourself of all the items that don’t belong in your new living space, sell items online on Kijiji or eBay, or you can also donate the items to worthy charitable organizations in your community.

How to tell solid wood from veneer funiture

Solid wood and veneer both create beautiful furniture even though some may think that solid wood is superior. It all hinges on craftsmanship and the quality of wood used. If done right and with the proper materials, veneer furniture can be more expensive and just as, if not more, beautiful. Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of each.

How to tell solid wood from veneer

What is solid wood?
Solid wood furniture is made from natural wood, generally using just one type of wood. No other materials are used. Solid wood furniture pieces are generally heavier than their veneer counterparts.

Pros
• Solid wood can be repaired, refinished, re-stained or painted and passed down from generation to generation.
• It recovers better from those scratches, dents and stains that are bound to happen with everyday use than veneer.
• It is great for framing, turnings, curved pieces, dining table sets and desk tops, and chair seats.
• The natural variation in the wood

Cons
• It can bow and warp over time.
• Weather changes, especially heat and humidity can make it contract, leading to splits and cracks.
• It can be expensive and heavy.

What is veneer?
Veneer furniture is made from a thin slice of wood cut or peeled from a log and glued together. It can be paper thin or up to 1/16″. It is then laminated to another wood surface. The top piece is usually made from beautiful or exotic woods while the base is made from manufactured boards like plywood and particle board. The base can also be made with MDF (medium density fibreboard), which is a stronger, better quality material often used for higher end veneer products. It is much lighter than solid wood furniture.

Pros
• One piece of lumber used to create a solid wood table can make 15 to 20 tables made of veneer.
• Veneer wood can be used to create a constant pattern, grain or colour.
• There’s more flexibility to be creative with veneer furniture because of the mix of materials used.
• It can be lightweight.
• It can be made cheap or expensive.
• It’s great for shelves and cabinets
• If you’re looking to be a little more eco-friendly, know that the base can be made of a particle board that is made up of recycled sawdust.

Cons
• Since veneer is made up of a thin piece of wood over a cheaper type of wood or particle board, sometimes deep scratches cannot be repaired without exposing the bottom layer.
• Sometimes veneer wood is done cheaply and can look cheap.