Posts in Kijiji Real Estate

How to write a great real estate ad

So you have decided that you want to post your house for sale by owner. Without the support of a real estate agent, getting the exposure that your house deserves can be difficult, so the importance of writing a great real estate ad is even higher when you won’t have a professional and their network supporting your marketing efforts. Remember, you are trying to market your house, so try and maintain a critical distance from it and understand what potential buyers are looking for. You might think the sauna or your custom dog washing station is an amazing feature, but the reality is, most buyers are not going to consider that a top selling point. Read the house listings for homes that generated a lot of interest in your area and try to emulate the parts of them that apply to your home, and follow our tips to create an ad that will generate attention.
house for sale by owner

Highlight unique features (provided they are desirable to most). A walk in pantry, wine cellar, en-suite bathrooms, and other stand out features that most people will want should be highlighted in any house for sale ad.
Entice. Remember, you want people to come see your home, so provide just enough information that they will want to see more. Focus on attributes that have a wide appeal, such as finished basements, high ceilings, bay windows, fireplaces, etc. Don’t focus too much on “upgrades” that may not appeal to everyone, such as pools, second kitchens, saunas, panic rooms, etc. Mention desirable brand names if applicable (if you shelled out for Bosch or Viking appliances on your new kitchen, mention it).
Mention upgrades. If you have kept your home in good condition, make it clear. A well maintained and recently upgraded home is very desirable. Buyers are especially interested in recently replaced roofs, windows, and heaters.
Consider your language carefully. Use lots of descriptive words to really illustrate the character of your home through words. Do not use any negative words – think “cozy” over “cramped”, “character” over “old”, and so forth. While you don’t want to bore the reader by writing too much, make sure you have a solid description that will answer some of the major questions that readers will be asking, and get them to imagine themselves in the space you are illustrating through your words.
Don’t profile the buyer. Anyone with the money could be buying your property, so don’t assume based on your neighbourhood or price what that person will look like. You might have fond memories of raising your family in your home, but that doesn’t mean the prospective buyer cares that has a room “perfect for a nursery”, or that the basement apartment is “ideal for the in-laws”. Focusing too much on what you think your buyer should look like might alienate other potential bidders on your home.
Be findable. Remember, many potential buyers are searching by area, so do your best to appeal to both search engines by listing the postal code, well known nearby landmarks or prominent intersections, the name and any nicknames for the neighbourhood.
State your price. If not there, people will assume high, and serious shoppers may think you are out of their price range.

Posting your ad on Kijiji? Get more views by sharing your ad to social networks, and purchasing ad upgrades such as the top ad feature. Learn about how to create an effective Kijiji ad.

Cost of Renting in Canada and the Vacancy Rates by the Number of Bedrooms

Canadian apartment finder, RentSeeker.ca, released its annual Canadian Rental Housing Market Pricing and Vacancy Data infographic, providing a unique snapshot of the Canadian rental housing market.

The 2015 annual report covers pricing and vacancy rates of apartment rentals in major cities across Canada and includes Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, Kingston, Hamilton, Edmonton, Victoria, London, Guelph, Kitchener, Windsor, Sarnia, and a number of other cities in Canada.

According to the RentSeeker report, Toronto and Vancouver had the highest prices for one bedroom apartments with Calgary and Edmonton following with the next highest prices. Toronto also had the highest prices on two and three bedroom apartments with rental rates for a three bedroom apartment reflecting upwards of $2,300 on average.

Gatineau and Windsor reflected the lower-end pricing for apartment rentals with one bedroom, in Gatineau averaging $630 and in Windsor $664. Two and three bedrooms in Windsor averaged $798 for a two bedroom and $912 for three bedroom apartments.

Vacancy rates for all cities were relatively low, especially compared to some cities in the neighboring U.S. The lowest vacancy rates were in Vancouver with a vacancy rate of only 0.5% for one bedroom apartments. Toronto and Calgary also had lower vacancy rates with Calgary at 1.3% and Toronto at 1.6% for one bedroom apartments. Windsor and Montreal had higher vacancy rates with Montreal averaging 4.2% and Windsor averaging 4.1% for one bedrooms. The highest vacancy rates were in Gatineau, which averaged a 6.4% vacancy rate.

Canadian Housing Market and Vacancy Rate

Canadian Vacancy Rate

View the full report here.

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.

Thinking of renting to a lodger or a roommate?

Shows like Income Property on HGTV make renting out a portion of your home pretty enticing – who wouldn’t want to pay off your mortgage quicker or have more disposable income? Before you start creating a basement apartment in your home or begin renting out a room in it, it’s important to do your homework. Being a landlord can be a demanding role that comes with a number of rules and regulations to follow.

Your House, Your Rules

Here are some you should keep in mind when making the decision to rent out a part of your home:

• Some municipalities require a permit for renting your basement. If you don’t have one and you build an income suite in a municipality that doesn’t allow it you could face some heavy fines and be forced to take down your rental property you worked so hard to put up.
Renting a room in your home with shared space generally doesn’t require a permit, but it could affect your insurance. You need to contact your home insurance company to let them know. If something were to happen to your rental space and the insurance company wasn’t informed of a lodger or tenant living in your home, they will likely not cover the damages.
• The rental income you get from a tenant renting a room out of your home is taxable. You must claim the rental income you get out of it on your tax return each year. Be sure you know what percentage of your home is being rented out as well as the percentage of time a renter uses the shared space like the laundry room, bathroom or kitchen when you file your taxes. You can also claim expenses specific to the rental unit like purchasing a washer and dryer.
• Make sure you know the fair market value in your area and set the rent for your suite accordingly. If you rent the room lower than the market rental rate you likely won’t be able to claim that income when it comes to your taxes.
• Know your rights and responsibilities as a landlord and make sure you protect yourself by having a written lease signed by the tenant. You should also screen potential tenants, making sure you do a credit check to learn whether the tenant would be a right fit for your suite.
• Lay down some ground rules, especially when you are renting out a room and there is shared space involved like a kitchen, laundry room and common area. It might be good to get it in writing as well just in case there is a disagreement that needs to be taken up with the Landlord and Tenant Board, which is responsible for settling landlord and tenant problems.
• When dealing with lodgers, since you are sharing your living space you are not bound by the same rules that apply when renting out a self contained apartment(learn more about the responsibilities of a landlord). You can select whomever you feel comfortable with, as they are effectively your room mate. Learn how to spot room mate red flags and avoid disaster.

Sources:
Ontario Human Rights Commission
Ontario Landlords Association