Greater Moncton Real Estate and Community News

July 6, 2023

Help Your HVAC Do More

A solid system will keep your home cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and just plain comfortable throughout the full year.

Proper maintenance can keep your HVAC system running smoothly for years, ensuring that your home’s internal climate stays exactly the way you want it as time goes by.

This doesn’t mean that things can’t be better, though. You may not realize it, but there are actually several ways that you can modify your HVAC system to improve performance and create a better overall quality of life for you and your family. Different systems may have different options available, and they can affect the function of your system in different ways.

Air Purity Add-Ons

Some of the most common HVAC modifications are designed to improve the overall quality of the air in your home, filtering out impurities and eliminating things in the air that could possibly make you sick. Air cleaners and air purifiers are readily available for a number of systems, trapping things as small as bacteria, viruses, and allergens that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. These function similarly to portable single-room air purifiers, but instead of only working on the room where the unit is located, these actually filter and purify the air in your entire home.

Another option that often goes along with air purification is UV lamps that treat air as it moves through your HVAC system. This high-intensity ultraviolet night kills bacteria, mold, and other organisms that might be in the air and moving through your vents. Not only does killing these organisms help to keep you and your family healthier, but it can also prevent them from multiplying and clogging your air filters over time. This helps to ensure that your air stays clean for longer and keeps your system running with peak efficiency.

Air Quality Add-Ons

Simply cleaning the air isn’t the only way that you can improve your home’s air quality. Depending on where you live, humidifiers and dehumidifiers can go a long way toward making people comfortable within your home. Air that’s too humid can lead to unchecked mold and bacterial growth, while air that’s too dry can trigger symptoms of asthma and various allergic reactions. Adding a humidifier or dehumidifier as appropriate helps to eliminate these issues without requiring room-to-room solutions.

Another way that you can improve the quality of your home’s air is to add a ventilator unit to your HVAC system. These units facilitate the exchange of stale air from within the home with external air to help eliminate odors and other forms of internal pollution and ensure that you always have fresh air within your home. Much of the external air is pretreated before it enters the HVAC system, allowing you to exchange air without introducing issues such as unwanted heat or accidentally cooling the house more than desired.

HVAC System Modification

It’s worth noting that not all add-ons will be available for every HVAC system. Some are designed with extensibility in mind, while others are more closed systems that are harder to modify with add-ons after installation. It’s a good idea to bring in an HVAC pro for a consultation when planning modifications to your system, since they’ll have a better idea of what options are available and which will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

On the plus side, HomeKeepr makes it easy to find exactly the professional you need to explore your options and help your HVAC system do more. Our app lets you connect with HVAC pros in your area who have the skills and expertise that you need and who can get the job done without breaking the bank. Creating a HomeKeepr account is free, so sign up today and get connected. Your HVAC system will thank you for it.

Posted in Advice
July 6, 2023

Help Buyers Feel at Home (In Your Home)

Of course your house is awesome – it’s your house! But the things that you really love about your home’s decor can sometimes slow down progress when you’re trying to sell your place.

Just because you’re all in on the “Halloween all year long” aesthetic doesn’t mean that potential buyers will be able to see past that when viewing your home.

What a Home Buyer Sees

Although we all like to imagine that we only look at the house itself and never, ever let ourselves be influenced by anything that’s easy to change about a home (or things that don’t even go with the home), the truth is often very different. Many homebuyers, especially those who are in the market for the first time, need to be able to picture themselves living in your house.

For some homes, that’s easy enough, but others that are owned by people who live an abundant or exuberant life can be a real challenge to homebuyers. They can forget they’re shopping for a home and get overwhelmed by the decor or intense level of personalization going on inside. Of course, you bought your house in part so you could make it your own, but now it’s time to let someone else take her for a test drive.

Obviously a lot of things can’t be turned into blank slates, especially if you have children or pets who have items that are specifically theirs and used often. Short of sending them to stay with the grandparents until you’ve got a contract secured, just keeping their areas tidy and focusing on the things you can soften will have to be enough.

Decluttering Is Important, but So Is Depersonalizing

There’s a difference between stripping a house of all its charm and simply depersonalizing it a bit. If you’ve got an original pink bathroom in a 1950s ranch-style home, by all means, let that brilliant bit of historical architecture shine. But, if your home is covered in photos of your family, your dog, and your intensely personal artwork, you may want to tone those selections down a notch.

When a homebuyer walks into a home that’s so deeply personalized, it can make them feel a little bit like they’re violating your privacy, even though you invited them in by listing your house. When someone feels like they’ve trespassed, they’re going to try to get out as quickly as possible, which does not help a buyer see themselves living in that house.

Consider Color Choices

Many buyers realize that they can and will almost certainly repaint your home to their liking, so for most sellers, repainting isn’t really a high priority, nor should it be. However, for some sellers, it definitely merits consideration. The homes that may need to consider a paint job are those that offer significant challenges to the potential buyer, or that have paint that works against the space. For example, if your house is full of dark colors that make the space seem a lot smaller than it is, it’s going to turn buyers away. Not only will they have trouble seeing themselves in the space that they perceive erroneously to be very dark and tight, those who realize it’s a visual trick may still be put off by the large amount of work that’s ahead of them.

As a rule of thumb, if you’ve chosen a color that will need several coats of primer before lighter paint will cover it, you’ll probably need to repaint. You can even go with a similar color that’s much, much lighter, if you really feel like the color works well for your house. Most buyers won’t care, as long as it’s something that they can easily imagine themselves repainting in a weekend to meet their own needs.

Posted in Advice
July 6, 2023

Buying a home? The process.

In our experience, a house is not a dream home because of its size or color. It's about how you feel when you walk through the front door - the way you can instantly see your life unfolding there. This about more than real estate. It's about your life and your dreams.

Step One
Home Visit

We'll arrange to visit the homes you've selected, together and in-person, to determine the best fit for you.

How can I make the most of my time when visiting homes?

  • Get an accurate idea of your price range, an estimate of your monthly payments and a pre-approval letter, so sellers will take you seriously when you make an offer.
  • Work with your agent to hone your “wants” and “needs” list. Think about what’s most important to you: the location or the house itself.
  • Preview homes throughcour home buying app to eliminate those you won’t need to visit in person.
  • Plan an itinerary with your agent.

What should I expect when visiting homes?

  • You and your KW agent typically visit homes together
  • Homeowners usually are not home, so you’re free to spend as little or as much time as you want.
  • Buyers often have a gut reaction to a home. First impressions count, but you can also consult your agent to learn more about home values and possibly to reevaluate your priorities in the context of what’s available in your price range.

How many homes should I visit?

Sometimes buyers find their future home the first time out and others look at 50 homes before they see one that checks all their boxes. It’s a good idea to see at least a few alternatives so you have some points of comparison, but sometimes you just know a place is where you want to live.

What should I look for when visiting homes?

  • Look beyond the staging and decorative items to see the features and fixtures that convey with the house.
  • Check the condition of the home.
  • Keep track with photos and notes.
  • Consider possible home improvements you might want to make so you can research costs later.
  • Don’t forget to check out the outside of the property and the neighborhood. Your Keller Williams agent has access to neighborhood insights and data to help inform your decision.
  • Locate your commuter route, schools, shops, restaurants, parks and other amenities.
  • If the property is a condo or located in a homeowners association, find out the fees and rules to see if you can live with them.

Your real estate agent will be your trusted partner for your home search.

Step Two
Making an Offer

Once you’ve narrowed down your list and have a clear favorite, collaborate with us to make an offer on a home.

What should I include with my offer?

Your agent will have the most recent standard purchase offer forms that comply with state and local laws.

  • The price
  • Terms – such as a request for closing cost help or that the offer is subject to your obtaining financing and a home inspection
  • Target date for closing
  • Earnest money deposit – your KW agent can advise you about how big your deposit should be based on local customs and current conditions
  • Request for final walk-through
  • Time limit for the offer

What are the most common contingencies?

  • Financing. Unless you’re paying cash, it’s typical to write your offer with a contingency clause that lets you off the hook if you can’t finalize your mortgage within a certain number of days. Even though you have a pre-approval for a loan, it’s smart to protect yourself.
  • Home inspection. Your offer can be made dependent on a satisfactory home inspection report within a certain number of days. This protects you if the inspection uncovers expensive necessary repairs.

What happens if I face multiple offers?

In a competitive housing market, you may find yourself competing against other buyers. In that case, your Keller Williams agent is your best ally in strategizing for your offer to be accepted. With access to real-time market data, your KW agent will know how to best position your offer. If there’s more than one offer, the sellers can:

  • Accept the best offer
  • Counter all the offers to get a better price and terms
  • Counter one offer that’s close to what they want

You and your agent can work together to find out what’s important to the sellers, such as a specific moving date, and to discuss possibly waiving contingencies, adjusting your price or writing a “love letter” about the house.

What is a counteroffer?

Sellers can accept your offer as is or they can make a counteroffer with an adjustment to some or all of your terms. You can accept or reject the counteroffer and make your own counteroffer. The contract is final once you and the sellers have agreed to all the terms.

Your agent is essential when negotiating the terms of your purchase.

Step Three
Execute Contract

The crucial period between an offer and a final contract is an important time to stay in close contact with your Keller Williams agent so you’re equipped with all the information you need to make smart decisions.

What should I expect to see in the contract?

Ask your agent to explain the key points in your multi-page contract, such as:

  • Accuracy of information, including the correct spelling of your name and the property address
  • The effective date of the contract – important because your contingencies have time limits.
  • A list of contingencies, such as that the sale depends on financing, an appraisal, a satisfactory home inspection and perhaps the sale of your current home.
  • Property disclosure information from the seller, depending on your state laws.
  • A complete list of what conveys with the property
  • A list of required inspections, such as a home inspection and a pest inspection
  • Information about when you can move in.
  • In some cases, such as if your offer is contingent on the sale of your home, the seller may add a “kick-out” clause, which means that the seller could accept another offer if one is made before your home is sold.

How do I know when to negotiate and when to let go?

Your agent can guide you, but you also need to decide how much you want a particular property and what you’re willing to accept to get it. You may want to let go when:

  • A bidding war drives the price too high
  • The appraised value of the home is below your offer
  • A home inspection finds defects that would be expensive to repair
  • The sellers are unwilling to make reasonable repairs
  • You learn about homeowners association rules that won’t work for you

What are common contract pitfalls I should avoid?

Your agent will help you watch out for:

  • Unrealistic deadlines: you’ll need time to arrange a home inspection and receive the report, as well as arrange financing
  • Missing deadlines means you lose your chance to end the contract and keep your deposit
  • Items that don’t convey with the property: if you’re not sure, ask your agent to confirm
  • Communications from your lender

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the most common reasons for contracts to fail or to be delayed are home inspection problems, financing problems or an appraisal issue. Contact a Keller Williams agent to help you navigate the complexities of a real estate contract.

Step Four
Schedule Home Inspection

As soon your offer is accepted, you should schedule your home inspection. If you’re buying in a busy season, it may take time to find an available inspector, so rely on your agent to recommend trusted home inspectors.

What is a home inspection?

Your home inspector will check a massive list (more than 1,000 items) of systems, appliances and structures in your home to evaluate its condition. You’ll get a written report that identifies potential problems and future maintenance issues. It’s up to you to decide whether the report means you want to walk away from a house or ask the sellers to make repairs. You can also have an “information only” inspection, which means you’re buying the house as is, but want to know its condition.

What’s included on a home inspection?

The inspector will check:

  • Structural conditions such as the foundation, beams and floors
  • Roof condition
  • Mechanical systems such as heat and air conditioning
  • Appliances – to make sure they’re working
  • Plumbing – for leaks, rust and water pressure
  • Electrical systems such as grounded outlets and code violations
  • Safety issues such as stairs, handrails, mold or chimney maintenance

What should I watch for during the home inspection?

You and your agent should attend the home inspection to learn about home maintenance and so you can see any potential problems yourself. The inspector can answer questions as you go, so if there’s anything you don’t understand or are worried could be a problem, just ask.

I’ve got the home inspection report, now what?

While you and your agent can decide whether to negotiate on anything in the inspection report, you can ask the inspector the following questions:

  • Are the items you’ve flagged major or minor issues?
  • What needs to be done to resolve any flagged issues?
  • Can you give me an estimate of the cost of any repairs?
  • Do I need another inspection, such as by an electrician or a structural engineer?
  • Are there things I need to do after I move in

Your experienced real estate agent can be the best adviser to help you understand the implications of the home inspection.

Stage Five
Get a Home Warranty

Some home sellers pay for a home warranty that covers them while their home is on the market and conveys to the buyers after the sale. You can ask your real estate agent for advice about negotiating for the sellers to pay for a warranty or buying one yourself.

What is a home warranty?

A home warranty policy, which typically lasts for one year and is renewable, provides coverage for some of your home’s systems and appliances. In return for the annual fee, the company will cover repair costs and arrange for contractors. You’ll pay a deductible fee and possibly service fees if you need to use the warranty.

Do I need a home warranty?

If you’re buying an existing home, especially one with appliances that are more than four years old, a home warranty can give you peace of mind about paying for unexpected repairs and finding a reliable contractor. If you’re a first-time buyer, especially if you have limited savings, this can be particularly important. If you have plenty of emergency savings, you’re handy or know good contractors, you may not need a warranty. Your real estate agent can also be a good source of recommendations for contractors. If you’re buying a newly built home, structural defects are usually under warranty by the builder for 10 years and other items are typically covered for six months to two years, so you don’t usually need a home warranty.

What should I look for in a home warranty?

To choose a good home warranty, you and your Keller Williams agent should review:

  • The home warranty company’s license with your state’s real estate commission
  • The fine print – that’s where you’ll find exclusions and limitations
  • What’s covered and what’s not
  • The coverage limits – your repairs will only be paid for up to a specific level
  • Service fees and deductibles
  • How quickly service and claims are handled
  • How contractors are vetted and what happens if you use your own
  • Coverage differences between a basic warranty and enhanced warranty
  • Online reviews

You can always ask your real estate agent for home warranty recommendations and advice.

Stage Six
Close

What should I do before the closing?

As your closing nears, you should:

  • Stay in close touch with your Keller Williams agent, lender and title company.
  • Avoid lowering your credit score with a new credit application or late payments.
  • Confirm that your contract contingencies are resolved, including the home inspection, an appraisal and your financing.
  • Finalize your homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • Gather your down payment and closing cost funds in an accessible account.
  • Review your Closing Disclosure form, which you’ll receive three days before your settlement, and ask questions if you don’t understand something.
  • Arrange a wire transfer or get a cashier’s check for the funds you need for the settlement.
  • Schedule a walk-through of your new home within 24 hours before your closing to check its condition.

What can I expect at the closing?

In a word: Paperwork! Allot a few hours for your closing. Bring to the closing:

  • A government-issued photo ID
  • Proof of homeowner’s insurance
  • Your copy of the contract
  • All paperwork associated with your loan and the home purchase
  • Your cashier’s check or wire transfer confirmation
  • Your checkbook for miscellaneous funds that weren’t included on your closing estimate

What paperwork is required to close?

You’ll be signing numerous documents, including a repeat of the documents you signed when you applied for your loan. The most important documents you’ll sign are:

  • Promissory Note to repay the mortgage
  • Deed of Trust, which gives the lender the right to foreclose if you don’t repay the loan
  • What’s covered and what’s not
  • Initial Escrow Disclosure, which outlines the funds on deposit for your property taxes and homeowner’s insurance bills
  • Right to Cancel form, which states that you have three business days to cancel the transaction

What’s next?

After your closing:

  • Keep all your signed documents in a safe place.
  • Avoid lowering your credit score with a new credit application or late payments.
  • Change your address.
  • Change the locks and security codes on your home
  • Review your due dates and new budget.
Congratulations!
You’ve got the keys to your new home! Stay in touch with your agent for future recommendations and service.
Posted in Buy Like A Pro
July 6, 2023

Home Downsizing Pros and Cons

While it's true that we live in a society that often holds that "bigger is better," it can be worthwhile to shift your thinking and consider whether a smaller home would actually serve you and suit your lifestyle.

Potential Advantages of Downsizing

Increased cash flow:

If you're spending less on your mortgage payment, you are likely to have money leftover every month to allocate for other needs or desires. Or perhaps you could pay cash for a smaller home from the proceeds of your existing home.

More time:

Fewer rooms and smaller spaces cut down on the time expended to clean and maintain. Smaller homes can reduce the time spent on household tasks, leaving more hours in the day to do something else more enjoyable. In fact, when asked about their primary reasons for downsizing, 36% of baby boomers, 18% of Gen Xers, and 19% of millennials said they did so because their previous homes were too difficult to maintain.1

Lower utility bills:

It costs a lot less to heat or cool a smaller home. Typically there is no wasted space, such as vaulted ceilings, in a smaller home. Less square footage decreases the amount of energy expended. Reducing energy is better for the environment and helps to keep your home green.

Reduced consumption:

If there is no place to put it, you're much less likely to buy it. That means you may acquire less clothing, food, and consumer goods.

Minimized stress:

Less responsibility, smaller workload, increased cash flow, and greater flexibility—added together, they all reduce stress. Homeowners who have successfully downsized sometimes appear happier when they're no longer overwhelmed by the demands of a larger home.

Potential Disadvantages of Downsizing

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Fewer belongings:

Moving to a smaller home would probably result in selling, giving away, or throwing out furniture, books, and kitchen supplies. You'd have to sort through and empty out the garage, basement, and attic. Some people form emotional attachments to stuff and can't part with any of it.

No room for guests:

Hosting a huge holiday dinner might be out of the question in a smaller home. Out-of-town guests might need to stay at a hotel when they come to visit.

Space restrictions:

Some homeowners report feeling cramped because there is less space in which to maneuver. It's hard to get away from other family members and enjoy private, quiet time because there are fewer rooms to escape to when needed.

Less prestigious:

Sometimes appearances are more important than comfort levels. For homeowners who place a great deal of importance on how they are perceived by others, a smaller home might not project a coveted image of financial success.

Lifestyle changes:

Especially for long-term homeowners, trading down means changing a lifestyle, and some people are resistant to change. There is a certain comfort level obtained by staying with what is familiar.

Posted in SELL LIKE A PRO
July 6, 2023

Where are the empty nesters travelling?

[ PART THREE ]

Technically, the world is your oyster. But, some of the pearls we have found are worth taking a look at.

Bali is at the top of our list. It has got something for everyone, whether you’re looking for an authentic Indonesian experience or a dip into island luxury. The same goes for Dubai, minus the island part. It’s an expat haven.

And while you’re in Asia how about heading to India, the place of a million find-yourself clichés, but the full-on sensory assault means there are few better places for stepping right out of your comfort zone.

A multi-destination trip through Far East Asia is on our bucket list currently. We went for an African safari last year after being stuck at home for a year and a half prior to that. We hope to capitalize on the off season on our extended vacation.

However, if you’re seeking a more easygoing trip then Europe is the place for you. Throw in some adventurous activities - from surfing to skydiving - if you get the sudden urge for an adrenaline rush. Wherever you decide to go, you just have to plan well. This is some key stuff we learned along the way.

Tricks of the trade

  • Travel light. You don’t want to be lugging around lots of heavy, clunky bags. We like to keep travel packing cubes ready to go with toiletries, medications and electronic accessories.   
  • Plan the logistics ahead of time such as, accommodation, insurance, home management in your absence etc.
  • Make sure to savor the flavors of wherever you are, literally and figuratively. There’s lots to eat and see anywhere you go.
  • Stay connected as you take the road less traveled. Be spontaneous and take the scenic route even if it is sometimes longer. But don’t forget to keep your phone charged because you never know when you may need it for directions or to take a picture.
  • Relax. Be present. Don’t think about what you’ll be doing later. Make space to relax and savor the moment. Stroll casually.

Let’s be honest, too many of us falsely believe that traveling the world is for the youngsters and it can be but, you can travel your way through empty-nesting and into your retirement, too! Whether you choose to go on a round the world trip or on a cruise, we promise you that choosing to travel the world and explore different cultures, food and scenery will be the best decision you made for yourself.

So what are you waiting for?

 

MORE READING

Posted in Downsizing
July 6, 2023

Has your home begun to own you?

And that is when you know you need to move. A house by the sea, anyone?

As a homeowner, one of our greatest fears is that an unforeseen issue — a clogged gutter, a cracked foundation or a leaky roof — will snowball into a colossal fail that costs us thousands of dollars. Maintenance is the best (and only) way to avoid the most costly home repairs. The hours spent cleaning gutter lines, servicing air conditioners, putting sealant on the driveway or deck, and the list goes on and on. But, how long can you keep it up? With a larger home, you’re likely to face high maintenance costs. On average, you can expect to set aside at least 1-4% of your total annual cost for repairs - you can budget less for newer homes and add more for older homes that may require more repairs.

What does that entail? Imagine if you have a 20-year-old house that initially cost $500,000, you may require about $20,000 annually for repairs, whereas a brand new place for the same price may only need $5,000 for unplanned maintenance and basic upkeep. Now imagine you had a smaller home with a lower price point which is likely to have an even lower yearly maintenance cost because, with less square footage, you spend less on things like flooring, roofing, heating and cooling costs. Downsizing might also mean that there is smaller or no outdoor living space, resulting in little to no cost to maintain your yard.

You’re now left with more time, energy and disposable income to curate the life you have always wanted.

With unlimited opportunities to play, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Before you dive in, take a second to reflect on why you want to downsize and what the process will involve realistically. Some questions to get you started are:
  • What are my motivations for downsizing?
  • What do you love about your current home? Create your must-have list.
  • What will my family or I gain from downsizing?
  • What are my primary concerns about downsizing?
  • What is my timeline?
  • What are my current and future needs? 
Whether you’re downsizing because you want to retire, save money to travel, or are an empty nester, moving into a smaller house can be exhilarating but daunting. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. Here are some benefits to remind yourself of when you get too overwhelmed:
  • The reduction or elimination of your mortgage
  • Fewer mortgage payments = More retirement savings
  • Greater freedom to travel
  • Cheaper utilities
  • Fewer chores = More free time
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • No clutter, no stress

This is your moment to start fresh. It's cathartic to begin letting go of some things you've been holding on to. Turn that extra bedroom into a home office, guest room, gym or sanctuary. Put your energies into losing weight, pursuing new hobbies, exercising more or any new passion you can think of.

Now that you have more time on your hands use some of it to reinvent yourself.

Posted in Downsizing
July 6, 2023

How much space is too much space

Downsizing as an empty nester is about making your home dreams come true. Whether you want lesser square footage to clean or that dream home that emphasizes outdoor living or maybe paying for excessive space, heating and electricity are just not adding up for you. In every scenario, this new time in your life can and should be an exciting experience, in our opinion!

Size and Cost

There are hundreds of variables in determining how much square footage you need. The national averages state that

  • A small house is anything less than 1,000 square feet
  • An average home is in the 2,500-square-foot range
  • Large homes are 4,000 square feet and larger.

When buying a new home to downsize, the most crucial question is - how much space do we need? We have found it helps to break down our needs into the different types of rooms in a home and then consider the square footage. Think about your bedroom. Think about your shared living spaces and kitchen wish list. Do you want a separate dining room? Do you need a space for entertaining? Do you dream of a home office, craft room, library, or other dedicated space? How many bathrooms do you need? Should your garage be smaller… or more oversized? This is your floor plan.

National Size averages

Percentage-wise, the National Association of Home Builders states that this is how much you should allocate for each type of room:

  • Master bedroom – 12% (300 square feet)
  • Other average bedrooms – 16% (432 square feet)
  • Master bathroom – 6% (154 square feet)
  • Kitchen – 12% (300 square feet) Dining room – 8% (192 square feet)
  • Family (great) room – 12% (296 square feet)
  • Living room – 9% (223 square feet)

When downsizing, it’s all about you. With your children out of the house, you don't need all of the square feet (or the stuff!) in your empty nester home. So first things first, how big should your bedroom be? Should it be on the ground floor? Do you need more than one for when the nesters visit? Maybe a walk-in closet is what you need? Do you get many visitors? If yes, perhaps an additional guest bedroom should be on the books for you. An average master bed is about 300 square feet, while other bedrooms are approximately 210 square feet on average.

Once your bedroom is sorted, it's time to decide on your bathroom. What features do you want in yours? A clawfoot tub? A closed-off toilet? His and her sinks? The options are endless, and it’s up to you to decide what you would like in your bathroom. We recommend ensuite bathrooms with the bedrooms in the house and a small powder room on the main floor for entertaining and family alike!

The next significant consideration is the shared living areas. This includes the living, family, dining, and kitchen. Is having a spacious place to host guests vital to you? Do you want that space to be open and connected? Are you an indoor-outdoor living person?

If you’re looking to save money, a smaller kitchen and living area without an additional formal dining room may be exactly what you need. In square feet, the average kitchen is about 285 square feet, with living rooms starting from around 215 square feet.

As far as settling in quickly goes, the colours we see around are instrumental for us. Create a colour scheme that soothes you. You can choose to have an accent wall, use accent pieces, or paint the entire house in a colour scheme that brings you joy or total relaxation.

This is your chance to build and enjoy a home. Think about the things in your current home that make your heart sing and make you feel right at home. How are you taking that feeling with you? What are some areas you wish were different currently? These are some things we think are essential to prioritize when making decisions about your move.

——

P.S. Don’t forget to add to your floor plans to see how you can continue to use the space effectively as you age. For example, multipurpose rooms shift and change as you age.

Posted in Downsizing
July 6, 2023

Round the world (RTW) Travel

[ PART TWO ]

What if you could plan the trip of a lifetime and instead of the usual 10 day trip to the likes of Bali, Europe or Dubai, you planned a flight itinerary to many locations, for about the same amount of money?

As you moved beyond the half century mark, did you suddenly find yourself with an empty nest which brought about a period of introspective re-evaluation? We think you may have ‘empty nest syndrome’. The two most common symptoms are a sudden overabundance of free time and feeling like you have a hole to fill.

A remedy? Travel. It will help you get over the bitter sweetness of saying goodbye to the last birdie to leave the nest. Trust us, we speak from experience. Our third and last child went off to college abroad and so my husband and I decided to do the same and we don’t regret it one bit.

What if you could plan the trip of a lifetime and instead of the usual 10 day trip to the likes of Bali, Europe or Dubai, you planned a flight itinerary to many locations, for about the same amount of money? We know what you must be thinking; “it must be too expensive” or “this only works for long 3-6 month long vacations”. That’s where you’re wrong.

Whether you want to go on a fast-paced trip where you spend a few days in each location or on a slower trip, where you spend a week or more in each location, there’s options for everyone.

Cost really depends on the number of flights and where you are going. You will be able to find multi-stop tickets for as low as $1,200!

Now comes the rest of the planning.

Here’s how to do it in 10 steps:

  1. Research the different airline groups and companies offering RTW tickets. We recommend using Airtreks.
  2. Determine who you are traveling with or are you going solo?
  3. Determine your budget for airline tickets and daily expenses.
  4. Determine how long you can or want to travel.
  5. Choose your route and destinations you want to visit and buy your around the world ticket.
  6. Apply for visas, book accommodations and get any Immunizations/ travel vaccines you need.
  7. Research each destination to have an idea of what you want to do but don’t over plan. You want to leave time for unexpected discoveries, trust us.
  8. Buy travel insurance for your RTW trip.
  9. Pack for your trip but keep it light!
  10. And, bon voyage! You’re ready to take on your empty-nester-around-the-world trip.

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Posted in Downsizing
July 6, 2023

Why snowbirding is for you

It cannot have been easy to pull yourself through the monotony, with only the odd vacation here and there. When was the last time you did something just for you? When was the last time you lounged in the sun, sipped a cold one and just soaked in the calmness? If you can’t recall it, then it’s time to give serious thought to escaping the frigid and frosty weather that comes next.

Are you a fan of the annual single-digit whiteness looming in the near future or have you reached a point where you’re tired of winter in Canada? Are you a fan of winter activities or are you ready to spend the blistering -30 degree cold somewhere more tropical? Winter is not for everyone, and fortunately, you’re not alone. Every year, my husband and I leave home to be snowbirds.

While the rewards of snowbirding are pretty obvious, the process of becoming a snowbird isn’t. Questions like how do you start living this new, exciting lifestyle? What needs to go along with you, and what has to stay home? What are the hard costs you need to keep in mind? What pitfalls do you need to watch for? I can help you answer all of that.

Before we begin, here’s what a ‘Snowbird’ is:

The term “snowbird” has been around for almost 100 years and was first used in 1923 to describe seasonal workers who moved south for the winter months. By 1980 however, it was more commonly used to describe the retired tourists who flocked to the south in the winter months. The latter definition stuck.

Snowbirds start to head south between November and January and often stay on until May. Often snowbirds wait until late December or early January to relocate so they don’t miss out on spending the holidays with their loved ones.

Fun fact: the majority of snowbirds are between the ages of 45 and 68.

Where should you go?

The question though is, how long do snowbirds stay and where? We have found that the average snowbird spends between 3-6 months at their location, with well-established snowbirds staying as long as 8 months in their secondary location. And, speaking of locations, Florida is a long standing favorite for snowbirds. The hundreds of active adult communities, the warm coastal climate, beaches as far as the eye can see and the affordable homes make the Sunshine State a favorite for retirees and snowbirds alike.

Another sun-seeker favorite is Arizona, the Grand Canyon State with its seasonally mild weather, resort-style golf courses, and diverse scenic landscapes. If budget allows, head on over to Hawaii and immerse yourself in island life.

Beyond Florida and Arizona lie the less coveted but equally welcoming states of Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Southern California, and Nevada. These are perfect for active adults who prefer to avoid frigid temperatures and the woes of precipitation.

If you are feeling adventurous, looking for community and would like to avoid the hassles of city life then a “white city” may be the place for you. “White cities” are recreational vehicle (RV) parks that snowbirds flock to in the summer covering the bird’s eye view in a white sheet with their motorhomes. A significant chunk of the snowbird community is made up of RV-ers, many of whom own one for the sole purpose of snowbirding down south.

The North Americas not for you? Are you seeking more exotic pastures across the world? Want to experience the thrill of a new place one more time? If yes, then places like Thailand, Dubai, Portugal, Mexico are made for you. Not only is the weather warm and inviting all year long but they take hospitality to a new level. What’s better is that we have snowbirder friends who have flocked to these places and have simply not wanted to leave!

Where do you live?

Now that you know where you would like to go, it’s time to figure out where you will live? Would you rather rent a house, buy a summer home or invest in a motor home? Would you like to hold on to your primary residence or would you like to give it up for rent? Are you looking to explore the region you’re heading to before you decide where to settle? What kind of house would you like to stay in, a single family home, a condominium or maybe an attached home?

A number of decisions need to be made and certainly there are benefits to setting up camp in 2 locations but it can prove costly. If you are a retiree, it may prove beneficial to sell the large, difficult to maintain home at your primary destination and instead move to a smaller, easily manageable home.

This is where we got stuck because how does one just leave or sell their home? One we spent years building? What really helped us was the continued guidance One Stop Home Pros offered. This sounds like promotion but we mean it. They kept reminding us that it’s doable, motivated us throughout the process, helped us sell our house at an amazing price and took us through the process of buying a smaller house just outside the city to us save money for our snowbirding experience. I have personally recommended them to every snowbird I come across because we would not be in our 4th year without them.

 

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Posted in Downsizing
July 6, 2023

Snow-birding. Should you or should you not

[PART THREE ]

This is part three of a three part article on snow-birding.

To start from the beginning read the first part here

The term “snowbird” has been around for almost 100 years and was first used in 1923 to describe seasonal workers who moved south for the winter months. By 1980 however, it was more commonly used to describe the retired tourists who flocked to the south in the winter months. The latter definition stuck.

Snowbirds start to head south between November and January and often stay on until May. Often snowbirds wait until late December or early January to relocate so they don’t miss out on spending the holidays with their loved ones.

To learn more on snowbirding - first part here
Six simple steps to effective planning - second part here

These are some pros and cons that my husband and I mulled over before we started snowbirding on an annual basis. Take these into consideration but don’t forget to contextualize them to your life, your needs and goals:

Pros

  • Bye bye harsh winters, hello summer sun
    In milder climates you can enjoy outdoor recreation activities, such as golfing, boating, and hiking throughout the winter season.
  • An outdoorsy lifestyle
    No more below-freezing temperatures, too much time indoors, and constantly removing snow, instead spend time outdoors enjoying your favorite activities, whether it involves visits to local small towns or excursions to state parks.
  • Find your (snow )tribe
    In the months you spend away, new friends await. Year after year, you can reunite with friends from across the country and also meet new like-minded individuals.

Cons

  • Planning is key
    Whether you are a newbie or experienced snowbird, planning, packing and scheduling is inevitable and can be overwhelming.You have to make arrangements for accommodation, travel and daily needs in the secondary location while prepping your primary residence for winter without you.
  • Cost
    Snowbirding can easily become expensive with cost of living, healthcare costs, etc. Active adults can take on part time or remote work but retirees must plan costs in relation to retirement income sources.
  • Finding the right vibe
    Building a routine, meeting like-minded individuals and finding things to do in a new place can be challenging. If you opt to live in an active adult community then you have the advantage of partaking in activities designed to bring like-minded people together.

Retiring has a way of giving seniors some freedom that provides them with various ways of enjoying themselves. Snowbirding is one such option to experience picture-perfect Northern summers and the best of the south's mild winters -- hitting "Goldilocks" ranges of temperatures all year long!

 

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Posted in Downsizing