Common Household Items that Can Cause a Fire

You never want to smell smoke in your home and realize there’s a fire. That’s why it is important to be diligent about fire safety. Experts recommend that homeowners be especially careful with the following common household items:

• Portable heaters. Never leave one in a room unattended. Make sure paper and other combustible materials are well away from these units.

• Electronics chargers. We all want our computers, tablets and smartphones to charge quickly. The price we pay for that convenience is chargers that pull in a lot of power, making them very hot. Keep them away from combustible material, as well as other wiring.

• Smoking materials. Be careful with cigarettes, pipes, cigars and other such items. Bedding and upholstery, which burn slowly and dangerously, are the source of 75% of smoking-related fires.

• Candles. Never leave candles unattended for any reason. If you must leave the room, extinguish them.

• Flammable liquids. These can include paints, thinners and some brands of cleaning products. Read labels carefully and follow the safety instructions.

To paraphrase a famous expression: An ounce of prevention is worth not having to deal with a house fire.

Should You Buy the Latest Home Automation Gadgets?

You’re at work when the thought hits you, “Did I lock the door when I left this morning?” You check your smartphone, see that you didn’t, and click the “LOCK” button. Now your house is secure.

That’s home automation for you!

But, is home automation a good idea? That depends on a number of factors.

On the pro side, home automation can improve your quality of life. There are automation products that will adjust heating/cooling depending on whether or not you’re home, make your morning coffee when you get out of bed, and the list goes on and on. These conveniences save you time.

Home automation can also give you peace-of-mind. It’s comforting to be able to remotely see the inside of your home and check that everything’s okay.

Home automation can also make your property more appealing to buyers. Traditionally, buyers like homes with security systems, and will appreciate other automation gizmos, too.

The only downside is the cost. Like most new technology, home automation products can be pricey and may become out-of-date within just a few years.

Thinking about it? Experts advise you to do your research first. Check out product reviews online. Then, if you determine that a particular product is going to benefit you, go for it!

10 Reasons to List Your Home This Month

Is selling your property the furthest thing from your mind? Well, here are some reasons for listing your property that you might not have considered.

1. Your property may be worth more than you think. (It’s difficult to determine market value on your own. I can calculate it for you. Give me a call.)

2. You might qualify for a better home than you anticipate.

3. Perhaps you are tired of your current property and want a change.

4. There may be homes on the market in a neighbourhood in which you’ve always wanted to live.

5. Your current property may no longer meet your needs.

6. Your neighbourhood may have changed in ways you don’t like.

7. You might be ready to downsize or upsize and you no longer want to put that off.

8. You may want to sell in the fall, so you can have a fresh start in a new home in the new year.

9. Depending on the type of home you’re considering, you could end up with lower mortgage payments or no mortgage at all.

10.You might want to move to a home that’s more conveniently located near work, family and hobbies.

Of course, you may have your own reasons for listing this month. Why not discuss them with a real estate expert? Me. I can answer your questions and explain the options available to you.

BBQ Safety Tips You Should Know

According to a recent study, the average homeowner pays more attention to kitchen stove safety than they do BBQ safety. But, the fact is, a BBQ mishap can be just as devastating. So, it pays to know the latest safety tips.

• Keep BBQs at least 8 feet away from your house.

• Check for venture tube blockages regularly. (Spiders are notorious for spinning webs in there.)

• Clean the grill frequently to prevent flare ups. A grease fire on the grill can continue burning even after you’ve turned the BBQ off.

• Don’t position your BBQ close to foliage, such as under a tree or next to shrubs.

• Never BBQ in an enclosed area, such as a garage, even if the space is well ventilated.

• Avoid leaving the grill unattended, especially when cooking greasy foods such as sausages, beef burgers or steaks.

• Do not let children BBQ.

Finally, make sure your BBQ is turned completely off after use. It’s a good idea to double-check this when making the rounds and locking up your home for the night.

Experts say you should treat a BBQ as you would a camp fire — with care.

What Do Interior Designers Do?

If you want to transform a room into something that’s functional, beautiful and perfectly matched to your taste, then you might want to hire an interior designer.

It’s an interior designer’s job to come up with imaginative ideas that will wow you.

It’s a myth that interior designers just deal with paint colours, décor and furnishings. In fact, according to the Interior Designers Institute, these professionals have the training needed to handle all aspects of a renovation or remodeling project, including selecting and managing contractors. They can direct a project from beginning to end.

If you want to renovate your basement into a stunning home theatre and gathering place, an interior designer can:

• Draw out several concepts for you to choose from,

• Purchase the best building materials,

• Hire the contractors, and

• Manage the project.

He or she can even pick out classic movie pictures for the walls!

There are many professional associations that have “Find an Interior Designer” links on their websites. In the U.S. check out the Professional Association for Interior Designers (www.asid.org). In Canada, it’s the Interior Designers of Canada (www.idcanada.org).

This Simple Question Can Save You a Lot of Money

Imagine this scenario…

You purchase a new home and move in. A few weeks later, you hear a strange rumbling sound. It’s the furnace. It’s only a year old, yet it’s sputtering like it’s twenty. You realize you’ll have to call in an HVAC contractor to get it fixed.

You’re thinking, “Ouch! This is going to be expensive.”

Well, maybe not. You see, since that furnace is relatively new, it might be covered by its original warranty — even for you, the new owner.

But a warranty is useless if you don’t know it exists.

Recent studies suggest that upwards of 50% of people pay to get items fixed that were actually covered by a warranty. So, when purchasing a new home, be sure to ask this simple question: “What warranties do you have for items, materials or workmanship in this house?”

Warranties are common on new stoves, fridges, washers, dryers and other big ticket appliances. Some such warranties are transferable, which means they are still in force when the items pass from one owner to another.

Even less expensive items, such as electronic thermostats and automatic garage door openers, may be covered by a transferable manufacturer’s warranty.

If the home you’re purchasing is relatively new (say, less than 10 years old), the builder’s warranty may also still be in force. That can be handy if a structural problem arises.

Even recent renovations, may have come with a labor and/or installation warranty of some kind.

As you can see, warranties are everywhere! The more you’re aware of them, the more you’ll save when something needs repair or replacement.

Painting Techniques that Bring a Hallway to Life

Some people don’t give hallways much thought when painting and decorating. Instead, they focus on rooms.

The fact is, a great looking hallway can have the same, if not more, impact than the most eye-catching family room or bedroom, especially when you need to go through the hallway to get there!

Here are some painting tips that can bring a dull hallway to life:

• Paint the hallway the reverse of the rooms around it. If the rooms are dark, use light colours in the hall. If the rooms feature simple colours, consider being more dramatic in your choice of hallway paint.

• In a longer hallway, using two shades of the same colour on perpendicular walls can make the space seem less tunnel-like. (The darker shade goes on the shorter walls.)

• Darker colours can work well if the space is well-lit and there are few, if any, shadows cast.

• If you decide to paint the halls white, select an off-white or eggshell white. Avoid stark white as it will reflect light in a way that’s unpleasant.

One more tip: Pictures can go a long way in making a hallway look inviting, regardless of the wall colour.

Good luck with the painting!

No Homes for Sale in the Area You Like? Here’s What to Do…

Imagine there’s a neighborhood you’d love to live in someday, but, every time you drive through, you rarely, if ever, see a For Sale sign. It’s as if homes get gobbled up by buyers the moment they get listed.

It’s true, properties do tend to sell quickly in desirable, in-demand neighborhoods. Does that mean you’re destined to either hope for a lucky break or miss out on ever living there?

Fortunately, no. There are practical things you can do to increase your chances of getting into that neighborhood.

Your first step is to find out the kind of new home you can afford. You want to get your financial ducks in a row so when a listing does come up in the area, you’re able to respond quickly. Find out the average price range of homes in the neighborhood. Then, if necessary, talk to your lender or mortgage broker.

The second step is to get your current property ready for sale. You don’t necessary need to list it now, but you want to be in a position to do so quickly, if necessary. You may need to clean up and declutter, get repairs done, and spruce up your home in other ways.

The third step is to talk to me.

You see, listings in popular neighborhoods often move fast. By the time you see them advertised on the internet, they may be gone. I can closely monitor listings in that area for you, so the moment one comes up that meets your criteria, you can be alerted. This greatly increases your chances of getting that home.

So if there is a dream neighborhood you’d love to get into, give me a call.

Going “Green” in Your Garden or Flower Bed

There has been a lot of emphasis lately on the importance of “going green”. That simply means being environmentally-responsible. You likely already recycle, use energy-efficient lights, and turn down your thermostat when no one is home.

Yet, most of us don’t think about the garden or flower bed when we “think green”.

We should. Here are a few practical things you can do to tend to outdoor plants — without negatively impacting the environment.

• Pull weeds instead of using a weed killer.

• Avoid strong pesticides. (Products that target only one or two types of insects tend to be less harsh.)

• Don’t use flower bed ornaments (i.e. gnomes) that might bleed colour dye into the soil. (Ask your garden centre before you buy.)

• Be careful not to leave hand spades, trowels, and other garden tools lying around, especially over winter. They can rust, which contaminates the soil.

These tips may seem minor, but if you want to be environmentally conscious, every little bit helps!

Handling a New Home Problem on Moving Day

Imagine buying a product from a store, taking it home, and then discovering there’s a problem with it. Disappointing, yes, but not a catastrophe. You can simply take it back for repair or exchange.

But, what if it’s moving day, and you discover there’s a problem with your new home? Whoa. A house isn’t so easily returned!

What are the most common problems encountered on moving day?

• A delay in getting the keys.

• The seller not having completely moved out.

• An item expected to be included with the property is missing. (For example, the window blinds.)

• Something needs repair that was not disclosed by the seller, nor did it come up during inspection. (For example, the dishwasher not working.)

• Damage to the property caused by the seller. (For example, a heavy item dropped during the move and cracking a floor tile.)

Fortunately, these are rare events. In most cases, you can expect no serious issues when you move into your new home.

But, if something is wrong, you have options. So, call me immediately. In all likelihood, I will be able to quickly resolve the issue.

If it’s a serious matter, such as missing items, I may get your real estate lawyer involved to arrange for the return of the item(s) or compensation.

So don’t worry. Let the professionals handle it. You can just enjoy your new home!