Watch Out for Carbon Monoxide In Your Home

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is invisible and odourless, so you can't actually "watch out for it". However, you should monitor for it because an excessive build-up of this gas in your home can be deadly.

Fortunately, there are many types of Carbon Monoxide detectors you can purchase — and most are effective and affordable. Some models simply plug into an outlet. (Many also have a battery backup.)

Carbon Monoxide is caused by the incomplete burning of fuel. It can be released by a faulty gas furnace, kerosene heaters, and gas fireplaces. That's why it's a good idea to install detectors in areas close to these fixtures, as well as near bedrooms.

Experts say you should always follow manufacturer's instructions when installing CO detectors, and test them regularly. You want to make sure you can hear the alarm from your bedroom.

CO build-up in homes is rare. So your detectors may never go off. But, if the alarm does sound, get everyone (including pets) out of the home and into the fresh air. Then call 911. Typically, the fire department will do an inspection and determine the source of the carbon monoxide.

A final tip: Never use your BBQ or outside grill in the garage or, especially, anywhere inside your home. The risk of CO exposure is very high and definitely not worth the convenience of a grilled burger!

Andrew MrozComment
What Type of New Home Are You Qualified to Buy?

When you think about looking for a new home, one of the first questions that probably comes to mind is: "What type of property can I afford?" That's an important question because your price range is a major determining factor in the types and sizes of homes you should be viewing.

You don't want to waste time looking at properties that are beyond your price range. At the same time, you don't want to purchase a less-than-ideal home, only to realize later on that you could have afforded more.

So how do you determine what type of new home you are qualified to purchase?

The first step is to find out what your current property would likely sell for in today's market. I make that calculation for clients all the time. It involves reviewing what homes similar to yours have sold for recently, as well as other data — such as special features your home may have that are likely to boost the selling price.

Once you know the current market value of your home, subtract any outstanding mortgages and estimated selling expenses, and you’ll end up with an amount that can be applied to the purchase of your next home. (You may also have other funds you want to use.)

The next step is to talk to a lender or mortgage broker to see how much of a new mortgage you qualify for. (Call me if you need a recommendation.) It's important to get a Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval. That makes the offer you make on a new home more credible.

If you want to find out the types and sizes of homes you can get into, give me a call. I'd be happy to show you the possibilities!

Andrew MrozComment
The Basics of Do-it-Yourself Video-based Home Security

According to law enforcement experts, a video-based home security system is significantly more effective than a simple alarm system. The reason is obvious. Burglars don’t want their crimes captured on video, which can then be used as evidence in court.

So it’s no wonder that many homeowners have, or are considering, video-based security.

These days, most video-based home security systems are wireless. The cameras either record to your DVR (just like recording your favourite TV show), or to a cloud-based server provided by the manufacturer.

There are many do-it-yourself systems on the market. You simply place the cameras around your property and do some initial setup. Most of these have motion-detection that records automatically when someone comes into the frame of the camera. These are typically installed at your front door, patio door, main floor windows, and garage door.

Some systems will even alert you when a camera turns on, and let you see the action on your smartphone or computer. If it’s a burglary attempt, you have the opportunity to call the police.

Although most of these products are weatherproof, check and confirm before purchasing. The packaging will say something like, “Suitable for outdoor use” or “Suitable for all-weather conditions”.

Also look for night vision capability. Not all security cameras have that feature.

Andrew MrozComment
Landscaping Tips to Sell Your Home

According to a survey from the National Association of Realtors, curb appeal is important to 71% of buyers. Landscaping plays a major role in your home’s curb appeal. It can create a positive and inviting first impression, or a bad one. If they don’t like the look of the outside of the house, they probably won’t bother checking out the inside either. 

Here are some tips for upgrading your landscaping to sell your home: 

Simple yard and lawn maintenance can go a long way.

If you’ve decided to sell your home this summer, get a head start on your yard and lawncare this spring. Spring clean up should include raking all the leaves and clearing the yard of branches, dog poop, broken patio furniture and other debris. Remove any dead or dying shrubs, plants and trees. 

If you can’t commit to mowing and watering your lawn regularly, consider hiring a professional lawncare company to do it for you. If your lawn is aerated, seeded, fertilized, watered and mowed this spring and then mowed and watered throughout the summer, it should grow lush and green. Learn how to take care of your lawn. This will improve and maintain good curb appeal.

Add some colour to the landscape with flower beds and pots. 

If it’s in your budget, considering hiring the best landscapers in Winnipeg to install an attractive planter in the front yard. They can help you with plant and flower selection, making your front yard vibrant with colour and attractive to buyers. If new landscaping features are not in the budget, purchase a few flower pots and hanging baskets. Flowers in the yard can really improve the aesthetics of the home and create a very welcoming vibe. 

Create a functional outdoor living space. 

In general, people like the idea of spending time outdoors with their friends and family. Things like decks, patios, fire pits and outdoor kitchens can really transform a space from a boring back yard to an outdoor oasis perfect for relaxing, socializing and entertaining. A landscape company can install a fire pit area or a paved patio. Alternatively, you can purchase quality patio furniture and set up an outdoor living space using the landscape you already have. 

Not every landscaping project will give a return on investment. 

While cleaning up the yard and installing a few simple landscaping features can boost curb appeal and help you sell your home, spending money on large-scale and personal features will probably not have much of a return on investment. For example, installing an outdoor playground for kids or a swimming pool will not recoup their costs. You can’t assume that the buyer has children or even likes swimming. Stick to the more general landscaping upgrades and keep it nice and simple. 

Read more articles about landscapers

 

 

Andrew MrozComment
Beware of Over-Downsizing or Over-Upsizing

Buying a new pair of shoes is relatively easy. Once you find the style you like, all you need to do is try them on and see if they fit. If they do, you go to the cash register and pay.

When it comes to size, buying a new home can be trickier! Whether your intention is to upsize or downsize, figuring out the right size can be especially challenging.

Say for example, you’re downsizing from a large two-story home to a smaller bungalow. You don’t want to underestimate the space you need and end up in a place that feels tight. If you’re going the other way and upsizing, you don’t want to end up sinking extra money into a property that’s larger than you really need.

So how do you avoid these scenarios?

One of the best ways is to start by considering your current home. Do you use all the rooms in your home regularly? Is there a bedroom that’s rarely occupied? Has the recreation room become simply a storage area? If you’re downsizing, subtracting rooms you scarcely use can give you a better idea of what you need in a new home.

Upsizing is a bit more challenging because you have to anticipate what you will need in the future. For example, if you have young children, and your place is feeling cramped, then a home with a recreation room or separate family and living rooms may be a good idea. You may also need a bigger kitchen with a spacious eating area (in addition to a separate dining room.) Think about the extra room you’ll need and how you’ll use that space.

When I work with a client, I typically sit down with them and discuss the type of home they want in detail — and, based on needs and circumstance, I make expert recommendations. Bottom line, I help clients find the perfect fit in a new home. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.

Andrew Mroz
Creating a Practical Home Office

Is your home office the dining room table? Is it anywhere you can sit down undisturbed with your laptop? If so, you might be interested in converting a room or nook into a dedicated home office. Depending on what you do for a living, there could be a tax advantage to creating this space too.

The first step is to pick a spot. Ideally, you want an area where you can work without too many distractions.

Next, make sure the spot you’ve chosen can accommodate a desk and any other furnishings you’ll need. Think about what you want within easy reach of your work area. Will you need a place for books and other papers? An extra chair for client meetings? A flipchart? A filing cabinet? Think about all of the options in advance.

Then, you’ll want to make sure the spot you picked has the electrical outlets you need, especially if you’re going to have a printer, special lighting, a computer and other items that need power.

Finally, you’ll want your home office to be a place where you can enjoy working. So decorate it with that in mind. If you like plants, get plants. If you enjoy golf, have your golf trip pictures hanging on the wall.

With a little work, you can quickly create a home office space that is comfortable, functional and enjoyable. It sure beats the dining room!

Andrew Mroz
5 ways to make the selling process stress-free

For some homeowners, the process of listing, showing and selling their home can be stressful. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to make it much less nerve-racking—and even exciting and enjoyable. Here are some ideas:

  1. Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to show your property, search for a new home, view listings, etc. Block out these times in an agenda book or calendar. That way, you and your family can see what’s coming up.

  2. Be flexible. Few things go exactly as planned! So, it’s important to build in flexibility. For example, you may plan to see homes for sale on Saturdays, but if an opportunity comes up on a weeknight, give yourself room in your schedule to jump on it.

  3. Eat well. There are numerous studies that connect poor nutrition with increased stress. When people are selling and moving, there’s a tendency to rely on quick fixes, such as hot dogs and pizza! Try to plan more nutritious meals that will keep everyone healthy and energized.

  4. Get stuff done early. Doing things last minute, such as finding a real estate lawyer or getting rid of clutter, can quickly lead to stress and frustration. Whenever possible, get tasks done early. That way, you won’t have to worry about them.

  5. Hire the right professionals. By far, the surest way to a stress-free move is to get the right professionals working for you: everyone from contractors to mortgage brokers to movers.

By the way, a big part of what I do for clients is help make every aspect of buying, selling and moving go smoothly. Contact me to learn how I can help you. 

Andrew Mroz
What you need to know about "Interest free" deals

Next to your home and car, home furnishings represent the most expensive product purchases homeowners make. A mid-quality livingroom set, with sofa and two side chairs, can cost thousands of dollars. That’s why most furniture retailers offer “interest free” and “pay much later” deals to soften the blow.

These are basically financing options.

Say, for example, you want to purchase furniture for the rec room. The cost is $7,200. The furniture retailer may offer you a deal where you “don’t pay a cent” for six months. As long as you pay the balance within that time, no interest is charged.

That sounds like a sweet deal. And it is.

But, personal finance experts will advise you to tread carefully. If you pay off the balance within the “no interest” timeframe, you’ll benefit from the sweet deal, by having deferred the payment. However, if you fall behind on payments, you’ll be hit with a high interest charge. It’s often 20% or more. That can add hundreds of dollars to what you would have originally paid for the purchase.

And, even if you paid down most of the balance within the no interest period, you can still get hit hard. Some “no interest” deals charge interest on the original financed amount — not just the remaining balance.

The best advice, according to personal finance experts, is to read the fine print carefully and pay off the balance as promptly as you can. 

Andrew Mroz
Open House Questions Some Buyers Forget to Ask

An Open House is an event. And, like many events, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and energy. In fact, when you visit an Open House, you might even end up rubbing elbows with other buyers who are there at the same time. It can feel like a party!

In an environment like that, it’s not unusual to forget to ask important questions about the property. Here are some of the most common:

  • How old is the roof?

  • How old is the furnace, air conditioner and other HVAC equipment?

  • How does the price compare to similar properties in the neighbourhood? (You don’t want to make an offer that’s too high.)

  • What are the characteristics of the neighbourhood? (Amenities, safety, traffic, access to public transit, property turnover, etc.)

  • What doesn’t come with the home? (Ask specifically about kitchen appliances, gas-connected BBQs, chandeliers, window coverings.)

  • Are there any potential impediments to the sale? (Tenants, outstanding liens, etc.)

  • Are there any outstanding maintenance issues, or repairs that need to be done? (For example, cracked ceramics on the foyer floor.)

  • Are there any issues that impact the full use of the property? (Ask specifically about shared driveways or walkways, public “right of way” through the property, water drainage rights from neighbouring homes, etc.)

    Yes, an Open House can feel like a frenzy, and if it’s a home you love, you might feel pressured to make an offer. But, it’s important to take the time to ask the right questions and consider your decision carefully. You don’t want to find out, too late, that there were questions you should have asked.

    Want more tips on finding the home of your dreams? Call today. 

Andrew Mroz
How a Professional Chef Would Remodel Your Kitchen

Watch any TV cooking show, and you’ll notice that a chef’s kitchen looks quite a bit different than what you’d find in most homes. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have one just like it in your home! With a little remodeling, and splurging on some new items, you too can have a kitchen worthy of Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, or Rachel Ray.

Chefs love counter space. So, when remodeling, plan to create as much as possible. If you have an existing island, for example, you can replace the countertop with a larger one. Just adding eight inches in both directions will make a big difference.

Most chefs have more than one oven. If that’s impractical for you, consider buying a double-oven stove. Also, chefs prefer gas burners for quicker heat-up times and exacting control of cooking temperature.

One thing you’ll notice about chefs is they love stainless steel.
That’s because it’s easy-to-clean, hygienic and durable (assuming you take care of it).

Finally, because chefs spend so much time in the kitchen, they want the space to be attractive and comfortable. So, when remodeling, keep decor in mind.

Even if you’re just an amateur chef, creating a chef-worthy kitchen will make the foodie in you smile. 

Andrew Mroz