Give your curb appeal a big boost!

Give your curb appeal a big boost!

While late summer might not be the most popular time of year to sell your home, sellers do have one fantastic advantage over spring sellers – curb appeal! As the growing season in southern Ontario winds to a close, garden beds and trees are at their absolute best and lawns are looking healthy and green. In other words, you don’t have to try too hard to show your home at its best!

But if you’re looking to add that extra wow factor that some buyers are looking for, here are a few ideas for making your home stand out from the crowd.
Adding a new design element – If the façade of your home could use a little excitement, a new walkway, garage doors, or a beautiful timber frame porch are all projects that will add value to your home, meaning that you can recoup some of the costs.

Plant a tree – Trees are incredible. Studies have shown that trees on properties add value by increasing a home’s curb appeal and also adding to a neighbourhood’s “walkability” score. Trees have also been associated with lower crime rates and reduced tenant turnover! Choose a level site a minimum of 10 feet from any structure, depending on the species you’ve selected. Avoid overhead wires and underground pipes as well. A tree on the north side is a good windbreak. A tree on the south or west will help with cooling.

Dress up your driveway – A well maintained asphalt driveway should last up to 25 or 30 years. If yours is reaching the end of its lifespan, with noticeable cracks and crumbling areas, it may be time for a replacement. There are many options for driveways nowadays, including coloured asphalt, laid brick, concrete and laid stone. Your selection will greatly impact price – you can pay anywhere from $2-$10 per square foot.

While these are mainly big-ticket items for improving curb appeal, there are also a number of inexpensive ways that you can improve the look of your home. Try adding shutters, a lamppost, landscape lighting or a new mailbox and house numbers for quick and easy updates.

What to do after you’ve found your dream home

Simple ways for new homeowners to control their expenses

Being a new homeowner has its share of expenses. In addition to your mortgage, insurance and utility costs, there is a host of other weekly, monthly and annual expenditures that you will need to factor into your budget in order to stay on track during your first year in a new home. Take a look at these tips that will help make your experience as a homeowner a pleasant one!

1. Establish a budget and stick to it: There are many ways to do this; find the one that works for you. You can use an Excel document, a desktop calendar or an online expense tracker for tracking income and expenses. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers a simple one on their website. Find it here:

2. Start a reserve fund: A household savings account should be a priority for new homeowners. Putting away a few dollars every month for unforeseen maintenance costs will not only give you peace of mind, but it can also prevent you from going into debt when it comes time to replace your furnace, install a new roof or replace your windows.

3. Be a savvy shopper: Before you move into your new home, you will need to set up your electricity, home insurance, home security, gas, phone, TV and Internet services. While there may not be more than one or two options in electric and gas companies, you can shop around for a better rate for insurance, TV, internet, home security and phone services. Call a few places and ask about special ‘bundling’ rates for both telecommunication services and insurance.

4. Connect with your inner-DIY’er: A fantastic gift for any new homeowner is a complete toolkit. Knowing how to repair and maintain simple aspects of your household systems will save you the cost of hiring a professional. You can find step-by-step instructional videos online for everything from installing a ceiling fan to repairing a hole in the drywall. Just be sure to turn to an expert for any major issues, like electrical and plumbing.