Posts in Kijiji Tips

What Your Guidance Councillor Isn’t Telling You: 7 Questions to Consider Before You Accept a University Offer of Admission

Accepting or rejecting an offer from a university could be one of the defining moments in your life. What city and school you end up in has long lasting implications: your personal and professional network, your field of work, and what part of the country you settle down in are all heavily informed by your choice of post-secondary school and program. The choice you make under pressure from parents and guidance counselors could be what leads you to meeting your spouse, finding your true calling, being buried in mountains of debt, or falling in love with a new city.

Unappealing as it may be to consider, how much a program will cost (and how much your living expenses will put you into the hole) should be thought out carefully. Can you afford over $1000 every month to rent a studio apartment in Vancouver or Toronto? Will your chosen field (if that is the field you end up in) pay you enough at entry level to pay off the debt amassed from living in one of the most expensive cities in Canada? With Canadian debt levels at an all-time high, and interest rates at a historic low, carrying a large amount of debt may seem normal and unavoidable – and it may be in some cases, but if you can plan for your college or university days not to amass student debts, your future self will thank you.

What Your Guidance Councillor Isn't Telling You

  • Will you be able to find part time work? Will you want to, or need to? Consider the job market in the area, as well as the availability of campus jobs. Will you qualify for a campus job? Some schools have requirements that you be receiving assistance to be eligible to work on campus. If you are considering a school in Quebec, is your French strong enough to be considered employable in the area?
  • What is the cost of an apartment there? What does residence cost? Do you know how much you need to budget on accommodations? Will you be able to sublet your apartment over summer? Research apartment listings near the schools you are considering to get a sense of how much you will be spending monthly. Compare apartment prices with residence costs across the country with this interactive infographic.
  • Do you have the option of commuting to a good school from a family home? If you can walk, drive, bus, or bike to one of your options, consider what you would save by staying with your family versus living on your own. Maybe you will decide it is not worth the savings, but go into the decision fully informed, after carefully weighing the option and running the numbers.
  • Do you expect to travel home for every school break or holiday? Do you know what the average cost is to go from the location of your school to your family home? Is the distance small enough that you can get sale bus tickets, or would you need to fly or take the train? Can you afford it? If not, will family members help you cover the costs, or are you willing to go into debt to travel home?
  • Are you taking out a student loan? Will you be borrowing from family? What will the repayment terms be? What is your interest rate? How much will you be paying off after school is finished, and how much of that will be interest? Use an interest rate calculator and get a sense of what your finances will look like after graduation.
  • Will the program you are considering actually help you find a job? Will the school you attend impress employers in your field? Will the school and program be a good investment in your future? How much are you likely to make if you are fortunate enough to find entry level work in your chosen field? If you have no idea how much money you might be making, check out sites like Glassdoor or job listings in your area.
  • Are internships required by the program? Will they be paid? If not, can you afford to spend a large portion of your summer doing unpaid work? Will an internship be worth it for your long term career? If not, is there an option for a program that does not require unpaid internships?
  • Do you actually want to go there? Are you being influenced by parents, friends, a partner, or a teacher? Think seriously about whether you would be considering the option seriously if others in your life were not vocally in support of it, and whether these people have your best interests (or their own) at heart. You are the one that will have to live with your choice, and the people who influence you now may not be someone who will continue to be a large part of your life, even if you heed their advice.
  • With so many programs to choose from, and so much pressure to decide quickly, making the choice can be overwhelming. Almost no one has their entire life plan figured out in their senior year of high school, and those that do will likely revise it heavily in the future. If you have yet to figure out your path, don’t fret, but be sure to go into your choice with your eyes wide open.

    Coming Out Ahead When Selling Property

    Getting Started

    Whether you are upgrading, downgrading, or moving laterally when you embark on selling property, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that you come out ahead in the sale. Though it may seem simple enough at the outset, selling property is a complex process that may require several difficult decisions along the way. By keeping a few things in mind, you can increase your chances of making a great sale.

    Prepare to Invest in Selling Your House

    It may seem contradictory – after all, you’re looking to make money, not spend it – but investing money in a home you are planning to sell can help you come out ahead in the long run.

    Cleaning up scuff marks, making minor repairs, and even upgrading some items or areas before potential buyers come to view the property will help make the best impression, and it can also increase your selling price or leverage. Likewise, outfitting areas such as the kitchen and bathroom with higher-end appliances can boost a home’s appeal.

    Be judicious in how much you invest, however. Keep in mind that buyers will want to make the home their own, so now is not the time for major renovations, such as a kitchen redesign or tearing down a wall to make space.

    Curb appeal is a major determining factor for buyers, so pay as much attention to the exterior of the property, especially the front, you do to the interior. Some simple landscaping and a little paint can do wonders to entice potential buyers.

    Research Comparable Home Sales

    If you want to come out ahead as a seller, you need in-depth knowledge of the real estate market, both overall and in your particular neighbourhood. An important and highly informative step in gaining that knowledge is looking at comparable homes for sale.

    To determine whether a home is truly comparable to your own, consider the size of the home, its condition and amenities, and its location. Ideally, you should seek out recently sold homes within the same neighbourhood, since they would provide the most accurate comparisons, but if that isn’t possible seek out neighbourhoods that are similar in terms of the quality of the schools and general demographics. For each property you compare, take note of both the listing price and the price they ultimately sold at.

    Come Out Ahead When Selling Property

    Be Prepared to Negotiate to Sell the Property

    In an ideal world, your home would sell immediately for the exact price you have chosen; however, the market usually doesn’t work that easily. Selling a home is a lengthy procedure, and negotiation is part of that process.

    It can take time to work with potential buyers to come up with a deal that satisfies everyone involved. Be prepared to make certain concessions – for example, repairing certain things before the new owner moves in as a part of the sale – but also be firm about what you will not concede on.

    When negotiating price and other factors in selling your home, it is very important to keep an objective perspective and not take things personally. This is a business transaction, and regardless of how much the home means to you, its actual value may not be as high as you initially expect. Conducting a thorough home inspection – done by a professional home inspector, if possible – prior to putting your house on the market can keep you from overpricing or underpricing it as it goes up for sale.

    Conclusion

    With proper preparation, research, and dedication to the selling process, you can come out well ahead when selling your property. And lastly, be patient. Sometimes getting the best deal requires a little time to find the right buyer.

    Come Out Ahead When Buying Property

    Getting Started Buying Property

    Buying a new home can be a daunting prospect. All potential homebuyers want to ensure they come out ahead with their purchase, naturally. After all, buying a home is about far more than finding a place to live, it’s also a major investment – one that could potentially impact your life for many years to come.

    Come Out Ahead Buying Property

    How Much House Do You Need When You Buy Property?

    One of the first and most important steps to ensure you come out ahead when you purchase a home is to know exactly how much house you reasonably can afford. You may find a home that is a great value for what it offers, but it won’t be a great value to you if it’s more than you need and costs more than you can sensibly pay.

    Consider a number of factors when deciding how much house you actually need. Start with determining the number of rooms you will need, both for existing family members and any potential future family members.

    Next, consider what amenities are ‘needs’ versus ‘wants’. That spacious garage or swimming pool may be enticing, but if it doesn’t realistically offer your family anything of value, consider it a luxury.

    Make a list of “must haves,” such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and central HVAC. Then make a list of “would like to haves,” such as a patio, a contemporary kitchen, or updated bathrooms. Last, round off your list with what you consider luxuries – things that you opt for only if they don’t push you over your house-buying budget.

    Assess the Neighbourhood of the Property

    The house you are interested in may offer you a great value today, but will it offer that same value tomorrow? Because you are looking at your home purchase as an investment, you want to ensure that the home will appreciate in value over time. Finding a home in a great neighbourhood can be an important step in ensuring that long-term value.

    The quality of the schools is one of the most important determining factors in maintaining high home values within a specific neighbourhood. Whether you have children of school age or not, be sure to seek out homes in areas with commendable, well-regarded schools.

    Other value-maintaining factors to look for include whether or not new businesses are being built in and around the area and the general demographics (such as median income) of an area.

    Inspect the Details of the House and Property

    Inspecting the home you are interested in is critical to coming out ahead financially. A house that looks like a great deal on the outside can turn out to be a dud if you find major issues such as electrical system damage or unexpected plumbing leaks after you move in.

    A thorough home inspection by a professional inspector is crucial before you agree to any home purchase, regardless of the deal that is offered.

    Conclusion

    Coming out ahead financially when purchasing property is all about two things – determining what you need and the true value of the home compared to its cost. However, you also should consider that ultimately the most important factor in your home-buying decision is whether the home is something you will love owning or living in for years. Getting to know the property and the neighbourhood, and refusing to settle – even for something that looks like a great deal on the surface – can help ensure that you end up with a new home that you and your family will really love.

    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.

    The Ecological Impact of Buying Used Appliances vs. New

    It would be great – for us and our budgets – if refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers, and other high-end appliances never broke down. Unfortunately, that’s not the case – a fact that leads to plenty of questions for environmentally conscious homeowners. In many cases, going for used items is the best choice for the environment, but the very nature of appliances makes them a bit of a game-changer when it comes to going green. So when you’re faced with the task of replacing an appliance and want to make the most environmentally friendly choice possible, should you buy used or new?

    Benefits of Buying New

    Newer appliances offer certain environmental benefits that many older appliances cannot. For example, new refrigerators consume 75 percent less energy than those manufactured in the late 1970s. If you look for an Energy Star label, you’ll use even less energy as the refrigerator will offer better insulation, precise temperature control, more efficient compressors, and other features that help lighten its ecological footprint.

    A new Energy Star dishwasher uses only about three-quarters of the energy used by those manufactured in the early 1990s and earlier. Because newer dishwashers are better at getting dishes clean, you won’t have to “wash them before you wash them,” meaning you’ll also conserve water.
    A water heater is yet another example of an appliance with newer versions that are kinder to our planet. Because heating water accounts for around 14 percent of a typical home’s energy expenses, replacing an aging water heater can make a big difference – especially because when you consider that as water heaters age they function less and less efficiently.

    Benefits of Buying Used

    While new appliances typically tend to be more energy efficient than used ones, there are still many situations where buying used might be the better choice for both the environment and your wallet. For starters, used appliances are often also “new” – at least, in terms of the technology that’s been used to produce them. If you can find an appliance that’s no more than a few years old, in good condition, and with the Energy Star label, you can reap the same benefits of purchasing a brand new Energy Star model. The only added carbon footprint is the CO2 emitted in transporting the appliance to its new home.

    An important point to consider is that every purchase of a used appliance reaps three major benefits.

    1. Gives the used appliance new life
    2. Keeps one more appliance from being adding to the pile at the landfill
    3. Keeps a new appliance from being manufactured

    This last point is especially important because the process of manufacturing a new appliance uses tremendous amounts of energy.

    The environmental burden of buying used is limited to the cost of (and energy used by) transporting the item. Just be sure to buy a ‘newer’ used appliance. If the appliance is old enough to be an extremely poor steward of energy, these benefits may not be enough to offset the environmental benefits offered by energy-efficient new appliances.

    Get the Most Environmentally Friendly Bang for Your Buck

    Whether you decide buy new or used appliances, there are things you can do to ensure you cause the least amount of harm to the environment as possible.

    • Look for the Energy Star label. Many new and used appliances alike bear this label, which means they are more ecologically sound than those without the Energy Star rating. They use less energy and water, and they emit fewer greenhouse gases.
    • Buy the right size. Buying a bigger water heater, air conditioner, or refrigerator than you need is a waste of both energy and money.
    • If possible, choose natural gas appliances over electric. It’s more energy efficient to burn natural gas in your home than for power plants to burn it, convert it to electricity, and send it to you.

    Conclusion

    There are a lot of factors that play into deciding whether to purchase new or used appliances. One of the biggest points to keep in mind is that even if you decide not to purchase new, ‘newer’ used appliances are still better, especially if they come with an Energy Star label attached. This holds true whether you are purchasing a refrigerator, air conditioner, washing machine, or any other high-end appliance.

    Sources:

    http://www.energystar.gov/about/

    http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/fappl.asp