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5 Tips for Staying Organized in the New Year

A Tidy Workspace

Each new year is a time for goal-setting and renewal. If you’re like so many others out there, you may have set your sights on getting organized in 2020—knowing what you have and where it’s located throughout your house, from your bedroom closet to your home office.

It seems like a relatively straightforward task—but if it was that easy, wouldn’t we all be organized all the time? So many of us get stuck before we truly get started and can’t seem to stay organized over time.

If you’re planning to focus on organization in the new year, here are some tips that will set you up for success.

1. Define a Decluttering Process

Whether you’re planning to declutter your entire house over a weekend or focus on just your master bedroom closet, it’s best to determine your process before you start. The best way to start getting organized is to get the full view of what you have by taking everything out of the space, reviewing it and then deciding what stays and what goes. For your closet, you should consider donating items you haven’t worn in a year or two and discarding garments that are stained or can’t be repaired. 

Decluttering your home office is similar—remove all bills, files, equipment and anything else that’s hiding in a drawer and keep what’s necessary and shred, donate or digitize the rest. Creating a repeatable process will not only make the decluttering feel more manageable, it’ll set you up for success.

2. Tackle Clutter Little By Little to Avoid Getting Overwhelmed

Part of the reason many people aren’t able to get and stay organized is because they see it as a big project—but it doesn’t have to be. If a full-house declutter isn’t in the cards for you this week, tackling clutter little by little could be. Creating a checklist that guides you to clean out a different small area each day can help your home feel more organized in just a few weeks.

3. Give Yourself a Deadline

You’ve got a plan to get organized—now it’s up to you to actually do the work. If you’re enlisting the help of a professional organizer or a custom closet company, they’ll work with you to plan when your custom organization system will be installed. Then, you can work backward to figure out when you need to organize your closet, mudroom, pantry or office.

If you’re not working with a custom organization company, you’ve got some more wiggle room. Whatever you do, set a deadline, but be realistic! Create a schedule that includes extra time in case life gets in the way.

4. Avoid Distractions

To help you meet the goal you’ve set, work without being distracted. That might mean scheduling time to organize a particular room in your house or a specific part of your closet, such as your shoes or accessories. When that time comes, put your phone in another room for distraction-free organizing and start decluttering. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done with just a little bit of focused work.

When you’ve finished reviewing your old clothes and sorting them into piles, for example, reward yourself with a short break.

5. Consider Getting Help from the Pros

The best way to stay organized is to have a place for everything—down to the last bangle bracelet, watch, belt and handbag. And sometimes, the best way to do that is to enlist the help of a custom organization company. The pros there can take a look at everything you need to organize and develop a plan for custom organization solutions that meet your needs—and fit all your stuff. Putting a custom solution in place will make storing your things—and finding them when you need them—a little easier.

Whether you’re moving into a completely new home or just looking to stay organized, following some simple decluttering tips can help you enjoy your spaces more and gain inspiration from them.

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10 Easy Fixes for That Nearly Perfect House You Want to Buy

From price and location to the physical structure itself, the list of things to keep in mind when shopping for a house can seem endless. But some problems you encounter don’t need to affect your final decision. Although easy is a relative term, accomplishing the 10 fixes that follow is generally pretty straightforward. We also point out some big-ticket fixes to watch out for. Happy house hunting!

1. Easy fix: Repaint or reface existing cabinetry. If the interior structure of the cabinetry is still sound, refinishing, repainting or refacing (replacing the cabinet fronts) can be a more cost-effective way to refresh a dated kitchen than completely replacing the cabinetry. If the cabinet doors are in poor condition or you want to change the style, consider refacing.

2. Easy fix: New appliances. Swapping out old appliances for shiny new models is one of the biggest-impact ways to makeover your kitchen without getting bogged down in a full remodel. And because the cost of appliances and installation is pretty straightforward, it’s easier to plan and budget for this upgrade than projects that might expand beyond your original scope.

Not-so-easy fix: New kitchen layout. Replacing what’s already in your kitchen is one thing, but when you start to move the plumbing and electrical around, costs can rise quickly. If possible, go for a house with a kitchen that has a layout you’re happy with — you can always tweak the details.

3. Easy fix: Fresh carpeting. Stained, worn-out carpeting is a real bummer, and it can be hard to see past it when viewing a potential home. But ripping out old carpeting and putting in something new can make a huge difference in how a space looks and feels.

4. Easy fix: New paint color. It’s amazing the effect color can have on us — remind yourself of this fact the next time you tour an open house with some (ahem) unusual color choices. You can easily (and cheaply) replace any wall color with a beautiful hue.

5. Easy fix: Replace light fixtures. Swapping outdated light fixtures with new ones you love is a quick and easy fix an electrician or DIY-savvy homeowner can accomplish in relatively little time. From modern pendants to chandeliers, there’s a light for every style and taste.

Not-so-easy fix: Extensive electrical work. Exchanging one light fixture for another in the same spot is simple; updating old or unsafe systems is another matter entirely. Electrical work should definitely be left to the pros, and electrical repairs in an older home can cost a pretty penny, so be sure to get a thorough inspection and review it in detail.

6. Easy fix: Repurpose a room. Just because a room is shown as a messy kids’ room or workout space doesn’t mean that’s what will make the most sense for you. As you tour potential new homes, think creatively about the spaces you see and try to imagine your own furniture in them. One person’s overstuffed home office could be your perfect sunroom.

Not-so-easy fix: Adding on. Remodeling costs get a whole lot bigger whenever you talk about changing the footprint of a home, so try not to be seduced by talk of how “easy” it would be to tack a room on to the back of the house. Although there are always exceptions, your best bet is usually to find a house with a footprint you can work with.

7. Easy fix: Remove or cover up popcorn ceilings. Not much dates a house like the lumpy, bumpy texture of a popcorn ceiling. Thankfully, fixing it isn’t too complicated, and you’ll soon have a nice, smooth ceiling. The most common method is simply scraping it off, but if there’s any chance that lead and-or asbestos might be present in the paint or the popcorn material itself, you’ll need to cover it up with drywall instead.

8. Easy fix: Add architectural interest. If you love the look of older homes with lots of original architectural details but haven’t been able to find the right one at the right price, it’s still possible to get some of the detail you crave, even in a newer build. Crown molding, baseboards, picture rails and even built-in features like bookcases and bench seating can be added by a carpenter to give a boxy new build added character. It’s an extra cost, but it’s not especially difficult, and it can make a big difference in how you experience a home.

9. Easy fix: Refinish floors. If you’re lucky enough to spot a house with real wood floors, don’t let a dull finish turn you off. While engineered hardwood can usually be refinished only a few times during its life (the number depends on how thick the veneer is) solid hardwoods can take a lot more, so you can have gorgeous, glossy floors (or artfully beat-up floors if you desire) for years to come.

10. Easy fix: Add landscaping. Yard looking a little bare? Adding landscaping, whether a simple DIY job or a landscaping pro’s design and installation, is something that can make a huge impact on curb appeal and, more important, how you feel when you come home each day.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matters

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7 Do’s for Decorating When Your House is For Sale!

Christmas Tree and Fireplace

Selling your home through the holiday season can certainly come with a few challenges. Chilly, wet weather and falling leaves in November and December might mean more raking and shoveling to keep your home pristine. However, the damp weather and dark skies don’t have to squelch your holiday spirit. In fact, the holidays are a perfect time to showcase the warmth and character of your home to prospective buyers.

If you’ve already got the basics of staging under control — meaning you’ve pared down, freshened up and added a splash of color — you’re ready to follow these seven do’s to create an appropriately festive home for sale.

1. Do choose appropriately sized holiday decorations. Be thoughtful about the size of the decorations you use. A good question to ask yourself is whether the piece helps to positively showcase the space, light, and charm of the room. Or does its large size detract from the best features? Your goal is to be festive while honoring the value of your home.

For example, displaying a large multipiece holiday installation might be a family tradition for your living room, but doing so won’t highlight the value and space of that room. Perhaps find a new home for this piece on the front porch, or display only a smaller portion of the installation on a table.

Similarly, you might have to trade in that huge fresh evergreen tree that you look forward to every year for a slightly smaller version. Large trees and decorations, while festive, may make the room look smaller. Choose an oversized tree only if you have a really large room.

2. Do mind the light. Be sure your holiday decorating efforts don’t block any natural light from windows and doors. Though this may be a common sense tip, it may not be as easy to adhere to as you’d think, since windows are one of the most common places to place holiday decor. Just think of what you see when driving through your neighborhood during the holidays: Many residents affix decorations directly to the windows, place large, brightly lighted trees directly in front of them or install candles or figurines on the windowsill. We just love to showcase our holiday spirit to the world.

For the selling season, try placing your holiday pride far from the window. You might put decor outside your front door or, if inside, in an unobtrusive corner. If you absolutely must locate decor near a window, then place it far enough away that the natural light still flows in. Otherwise, by reducing the natural light, you’ll detract from the value of the room.

3. Do coordinate with the colors of the room. Maintaining a color-coordinated design scheme matters, even when all you want to do is deck the halls in red and green. Remember, every room of your home should be as appealing as possible to prospective buyers. So, if your favorite holiday decorations clash with the colors in your room, think twice about using those specific pieces. Fortunately, there are tons of creative ways to add holiday accents without throwing off your palette.

Metallics are one nonintrusive way to add a little festive holiday flair. Gold, silver or copper holiday accents pair well with almost any color scheme. White is also a peaceful, festive, yet still neutral accent color for almost any holiday decorating effort. Try replacing multicolored tree lights with sparkling white lights to give your room a more elegant feel.

4. Do keep movements and sounds to a minimum. Moving parts, loud noises, and even festive music will be a distraction for potential buyers. So please don’t welcome buyers with a singing toy soldier or dancing snowman. But if you must have those items on your mantel, then be sure to turn them off during showings. The same goes for flashing lights. Opt for simple white static lights that cast a beautiful glow, creating a neutral holiday feeling for many buyers.

5. Do decorate to showcase your home’s architectural features. Holiday decorating can give you a brilliant opportunity to highlight your home’s most attractive architectural features. For example, you might wrap a tasteful garland around a beautiful curved staircase. You can showcase your fireplace with accents such as knitted stockings or a strand of lights.

Be mindful not to cover up any valuable structural details such as a beautiful wood floor or crown molding. Remember, less is more when staging, even when decorating for the holidays.

6. Do use exterior holiday decorations to add curb appeal. Holiday decorations are a fantastic way to spruce up the exterior of your home and add some color. Wreaths, thoughtfully lighted shrubs and the occasional ribbon or bow on a mailbox can be tasteful ways to deck the exterior for the holidays. These elements will certainly add curb appeal and pleasantly welcome your potential buyers.

While a frenzy of flashing lights and rooftop ornaments might be fun and playful, your goal is to sell your house, not distract or even turn off your buyer by creating a neighborhood spectacle.

7. Do celebrate the holidays and create a warm, joyful feeling. There’s an advantage of offering your home for sale — and decorating it — during the holidays. If you strike the right balance, your residence will exude a positive energy and charm that can’t be felt at any other time of the year. Done well, your decorated home will offer the kind of warmth that appeals to potential buyers and helps them to imagine living there. So go ahead and celebrate what is likely your last holiday season in that home. Happy Holidays!

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Housing market stays warm despite chilly October

In the city of Saskatoon, sales rose seven per cent to 306, up from last October’s 285, helping to drive the dollar volume up five per cent to $97.5 million from $92.6 million. Listings also rose marginally to 599, up one per cent from 591. The average selling price fell two per cent to $318,450, down from $325,016. Trevor Schmidt noted that the average five-year median sales price — $333,154 has not changed much over the past several years.
“This year, we’re tracking at the same level as the five-year average,” he said. “The market is neither high nor low; it has stabilized.”
Another indication of stability in the Saskatoon market is the average length of time it takes to sell a home. Both in October and year-to-date, that average was 54 days. “The five-year average is 55,” noted Schmidt. “Things have been quite stable considering what’s happened with the economy.”
“It shows the importance of using a REALTOR® to price properties according to what’s happening in the market, which helps foster a quicker sale.”
Year-to-date, 6,992 homes have been listed to the Multiple Listing Service® System (MLS®), down two per cent from 7,111 in 2018. Of those, 3,160 have sold, up seven per cent from 2,962, at an average price of $331,349 — statistically stable with last year’s $332,012. The dollar volume broke through the billion-dollar mark to $1.05 billion, up six per cent from $983.4 million last year.
In Saskatoon and area, which includes such communities as Dalmeny, Warman and Martensville, sales rose five per cent to 414, up from 393, in October. Year-to-date sales are up three per cent to 4,213 from 4,072, and also up from 4,099 in 2017.
Unit listings in the city and region fell two per cent to 889 from 904 last month, and also dropped two per cent year-to-date, ending October at 10,710, down from 10,895 in 2018. While the dollar volume was down two per cent in October, to $129.2 million from $132.4 million, the year-to-date
volume is up two per cent to $1.365 billion from $1.342 billion.
The region alone saw a six per cent drop in listings, to 208 from 222, in October, and a seven per cent hike in sales to 88, up from 82 last year. Dollar volume in the region fell 13 per cent to $24.7 million from $28.5 million. The average selling price came in at $281,534, down 19 per cent from $348,038. Active listings ended October down four per cent to 3,442 in Saskatoon and area, from 3,584 in 2018 and also down from 3,725 at this time in 2017. In the city, 1,712 listings were available, down five per cent from 1,808, and 1,020 homes were on the market in the region, down seven per cent from last year’s 1,095.

Thanks to Trevor Schmidt, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS®, for this summary.

~ Jillian

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September Brings Increases in Saskatoon Home Sales, Listings and Prices

Saskatoon — The first month of autumn had spring in its step as Saskatoon’s residential housing market saw increases in listings, sales and the average price, according to statistics from the Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® (SRAR).
Sales rose 14 per cent to 305, up from last September’s 267 and 260 the year before, while the average price was up 10 per cent to $351,741 from $319,534. Those factors contributed to a 26 per cent jump in the dollar volume of sales, which came in at $107.3 million — well up from $85.3 million last September and $89.5 million in 2017.
More homeowners decided to put their properties on the market, as well, listing 717 homes, up 11 per cent from 647 last year.
“The market is really balanced right now,” said Trevor Schmidt, interim CEO of SRAR. “With the sales to listing ratio being at 43 per cent, it indicates both sellers and buyers are able to come together and get deals done. It’s a good situation for both seller and buyer.
“If you go back six months, the market has been trending toward balance.”
Year-to-date, sales in the city are up seven per cent to 2,855 from 2,677, while listings have fallen two per cent to 6,393 from 6,520. The average price of $332,762 is practically unchanged from last year’s $332,757.
In the region surrounding Saskatoon, including the cities of Warman and Martensville, sales were down 11 per cent to 76 from 85 in September while listings rose 14 per cent to 227 from 199. The average selling price, however, was up three per cent to $302,502. Dollar volume came in at $22.9 million, down eight per cent from last year’s $25 million. Regional year-to-date sales are down five per cent to 755 from 797, and listings are down
one per cent to 2,422 from 2,454. The average price so far this year is down three per cent to $295,187 from $303,636, and dollar volume has fallen eight per cent to $222.8 million from $242 million.
At the end of September, active residential listings in the city were down two per cent to 1,896 from last year’s 1,944. Listings in the region were also down two per cent to 1,143 from 1,161.

Thanks to SRARs interim CEO Trevor Schmidt for this information.

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How to Make Your House Smell Great for Showings

Essential Oil Diffuser

Give your prospective buyers extra incentive to purchase your house by making it smell like a home they can see themselves in.

Smell is one of our most important senses. Psychologically speaking, it’s the sense that is most closely linked with memory, meaning that good smells can evoke happy memories and experiences while bad smells can do just the opposite. Smell is also highly emotive; different fragrances can convey a vast array of emotions and feelings. So, it’s no surprise that smell can come into play when you’re trying to sell your home.

There’s a reason why real estate agents always think about the best scent for home staging before a showing. A house that smells like freshly baked cookies can evoke a warm and homey feeling while a refreshing and clean smelling house can evoke feelings of potential and new opportunities.

The question is what scent sells a house and what can you do to ensure that you create a wonderful smelling home for potential buyers?

Use Baking Soda

First and foremost, you want to get rid of any current smells in your home. Baking soda, when spread on your carpets and soda, can help remove tough smells and leave you with a neutral pallet. All you have to do is let the baking soda sit for 10-15 minutes before vacuuming it up. It even works great in trashcans, sinks, toilets, and more.

Take Advantage of Your Stove

The best way to make your house smell good is to use your stove. All you need is a pot of boiling water, and then you can make your own essential oils for selling your house with the right spices.

 During the winter, we recommend using spicy and warm flavors such as cinnamon and/or cloves, which evoke a sense of the holidays. During the spring and summer, you can use lemon or orange rind for a fresh citrus scent instead. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but make sure you try out each scent before your open house.

Add Plants

Not only do plants add life to a home, but the right plants can also release wonderful fragrances that are highly compelling. When it comes to plants, the best scent for home staging includes some type of flowers such as roses, eucalyptus, rosemary, or lavender. The key is to choose plants that have a universally appealing smell and to make sure they’re always well groomed and lively.

Diffuse Essential Oils

If you don’t want to use your stove to make your own essential oils for selling your house, you can diffuse bottled essential oils instead. All you need to do is purchase an affordable diffuser, add a few drops of essential oil, and run it for a few hours before your open house. Just make sure you use the right oils.

Avoid using strong scents that can have a polarizing effect such as patchouli, sandalwood, or ylang-ylang. Instead, go with relaxing and simple scents such as lavender, grapefruit, rose, or bergamot. These smells evoke the atmosphere of a luxury spa.

Give your prospective buyers extra incentive to purchase your house by making it smell like a home they can see themselves in. Your goal is to make every guest feel like they belong. Just be sure you use scents that evoke only the best memories and feelings. It can be the added factor you need to make the sell. For more tips on selling your home, contact a real estate agent in your area.

~ J

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Creative Ways to Hide “Blemishes” in your Home

A Stylish Room with Blue Walls

What makes a house a home? It’s a hard question to answer, but a large part of it is the years of memories you’ve made in it. Oftentimes that includes the blemishes, flaws and dents on the walls and furniture that serve as lasting impressions of cherished moments and fun times. However, whether you’re selling your home or just making it presentable for guests, there are times you’ll want to camouflage them up.

CREATE A GALLERY WALL

Put your inner art connoisseur to work to blend random light switches or bulky thermostats into your design. Strategically place similarly sized artwork around switch plates, outlet covers and wall gadgets to distract the eye. If you want to cover it entirely, mount a canvas painting over it or hang art from a swing arm so you can reach behind it when necessary.

HANG LONG DRAPES

Window treatments are generally used for, you guessed it, windows, but they certainly aren’t restricted to other uses. Drape big and breezy curtains above to disguise unsightly wall features or awkward off-center windows. Off-white and cream shades are perfect to use all year round.

PAINT THE WALL

This is probably one of the most obvious solutions to drywall chips and paint scratches, but here are some guidelines to help you get it right. Stick to one matte color for the walls, ceiling and trim to downplay the lines between and blend them together. Remember, the glossier the paint finish is, the more it will highlight imperfections.

Consider chalkboard paint for a non-glossy texture and an ever-changing wall feature. You can create your own design and erase it as your style evolves or use it to jot down lists and reminders.

Add wallpaper. Use wallpaper to inject personality and fun into any space. Choose from subtle designs to a dramatic mural or anywhere in between. Keep optical illusions in mind when picking patterns. For example, a striped design can make a small space look taller or wider.

COVER IT WITH CLOTHES

If you have a scratch on your bedroom wall that just won’t go away, play fashionista and move a shop-style clothing rack in front. Showcase some of your most stylish garments or everyday staples on the rack to lighten your closet’s load.

LAY DOWN A RUG

Roll out a gorgeous area rug over all the nicks and notches on your floor from moving furniture or dropping heavy items. Especially great for renters, rugs come in a variety of styles, colors and price points to fit your personal preferences without committing to a permanent change.

RETHINK THE FIFTH WALL

This is a bit of a heavier project to take on, but perhaps most rewarding for those left with an infamous popcorn ceiling. Upgrade overhead stucco for a beautiful new feature with paint or paneling. Try white beadboard or wood slats for irresistible rustic charm.

WORK AROUND WALL VENTS

Air vents are necessary for cooling, heating and any other home circulation systems, but can be quite unattractive. Conceal them with slotted laser-cut screens that add texture and visual interest. In this living room, the revamped air return works double duty as a display shelf.

CHOOSE YOUR SWITCHES WISELY

Light switches and power outlets are must-haves in every home and there’s often no easy way around them. Wherever possible, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, group your electrical outlets together and shop for new switch plates that complement the existing wall. You can blend them into an existing pattern, as seen here, or make them a fun feature with vibrant colors and textured materials.

Embrace imperfections. After all, they’re what makes your house so special. You can capitalize on the look and help them blend in by investing in distressed furnishings, such as rustic coffee tables or stained wood floors. You won’t have to worry too much about future drops or spills and they instantly add built-in age and character to any space.

~ J

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Spotting Foundation Issues When Buying a Home

A Couple Looking at an Older House

Buying a home is both exciting and stressful. Consider these tips about how to spot potential issues when viewing homes with your real estate agent.

Buying a home is both exciting and stressful. After all, you want to find a place that suits your living needs and is in great condition. One of the biggest concerns is that the property you purchase is structurally sound, and this often starts with the foundation. Consider these tips about how to spot potential issues when viewing homes with your real estate agent.

Watch for these warning signs
When touring homes, keep an eye out for the following signs of foundation problems. Pay extra attention if you’re looking at homes built more than a decade ago or in an area with clay soil, which is notorious for damaging foundations.

What to look for on the outside:
• Horizontal cracks in the foundation itself
• Stair-step cracking in exterior bricks
• A chimney that leans away from the house
• Gaps above windows and doors or around the garage door
• Sunken porches or stairs

What to look for on the inside:
• Cracks in the drywall
• Misaligned windows or doors that are hard to open and close
• Sloping floors or cracked tiles
• Cracks in the ceiling
• Any separation between walls and the ceiling
• Moisture in crawl spaces or the basement

What should I do if I see these warning signs?
Many buyers run for the hills when they think a home’s foundation isn’t structurally sound, but you don’t need to immediately rule out a house if you believe it has foundation problems. Take a deep breath and investigate the issues—the more you know, the better decisions you can make. Keep in mind that some situations will only require minor repairs, while others can be quite complex.

Start here to weigh the pros and cons:
• Ask the seller if they’ve had foundation repair work or an inspection done. In most cases, sellers are required by law to disclose foundation issues.
• Research the potential cost of repairs to help you determine a fair price. A wealth of information is available online—search for “foundation repair cost” to get an overview of what to expect.
• Find out if the issues will affect your financing. Often, houses with unresolved foundation problems can only be purchased with cash or a special type of mortgage.

What if a home I’d like to buy has had the foundation repaired?
Many buyers would look at this as a positive, especially if the repairs were done by a reputable contractor who offers a warranty. The best foundation repair companies offer a lifetime warranty that is transferable when the home sells. Just be sure that all the proper permits were pulled at the time of the repair and that there hasn’t been any trouble since. If the foundation has been stabilized, any remaining cosmetic issues can be resolved easily and quickly.

What if I’d like to make an offer but don’t want to end up with a nightmare on my hands?
Make sure your offer is written up with contingencies that protect you if things turn out differently than expected. A contingency will make your offer dependent on specific conditions, such as inspections or repairs. Discuss your options with your real estate agent.

Should I ask the seller to fix the foundation as part of the sale?
You can ask the seller to make the repairs, but it’s common for them to reduce the price of the home and sell it “as is.” If you aren’t up for making the repairs yourself, you may need to look for a different house. Additionally, some buyers worry that if the seller is held responsible, they will choose the most affordable option, not the most thorough one.

~J

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4 Ways to Help Make Moving with Kids Easier

Kid crawling

It’s no secret, no one likes to move and that includes your kids. Moving is one of the most stressful times in life, and it brings lots of change. For your kids, it means making new friends, and maybe, adjusting to a new school. If you have a little mover in tow, moving your home certainly adds to the baby adventures!

Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps, the trek through the moving process will become a walk in the park (well, maybe not, but it can be a manageable stroll up hill.) Way before you break out those cardboard boxes, use these pointers to help your kids, toddlers, and babies get through the moving process.

Here are four steps to a successful move with a young family. It’s all about: timing, transition, getting the kids involved, and an adjustment period.

Timing:

1. First, consider the timing of your move, this is probably the most important element:

  • What grades are your children in? If your eldest is about to be a senior in high school, it may be best to let them live with a trusted relative to finish up high school with their friends. If your youngest is about to start school or enter high school, this is an ideal time to move since they will be entering a new school either way. Is school on a break? Much better to time a move with kids when school’s out.
  • Babies and kids love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use naptime and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!

Transition:

2. Second, make the transition into the new home as easy as possible for your kids and little ones. Try these tips to make the transition a smooth one:

  • Make the new home the kids’ own. Allow them to walk through the new house before the move. Let them feel that they are part of the decision. Allow them (as much as possible) to choose their own bedroom, paint colors (“Here, let’s pick the paint color for your new room: which do you choose between these two.”), and play the imagination game with them: “Let’s imagine what this room will be like when it’s yours? Where will your stuffed animals go? Where will the bed go?” etc.
  • In the old house, talk about how their favorite toys, games, etc. are going to be in the new house too. This is not the time to clean out the closet and discard unwanted clothes and toys. You don’t want your kids associating loss with the move. If you need to de-clutter your kid’s room, do that way before the subject of the move comes up. De-cluttering is an excellent pre-move activity and really doesn’t have to involve the word “moving” at all.
  • TALK and LISTEN to your kids. Ask them what they are excited about and what things they are going to miss. Address their concerns: “What are we going to do about that? How about…”
  • During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your kids and bundle of joy for the day. It is also ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so you can get more done on your moving calendar.
  • Stay connected to friends, neighbors and family back home. Arrange facetime appointments with the children’s friends before you move to the new home, it will help make the transition easier when they know they can keep in touch with their old friends. And, set up a play date for the old friends to come over for a sleep over.

Involve Your Kids:

3. There is no easier way to keep kids happy than giving them a feeling of control – get them involved!

  • Have them arrange their own room. Draw out a floor plan of the rooms in the new house and let the children make paper doll furniture and arrange what they want in their room.
  • Encourage your kids to pack themselves so they are involved in the moving process. They can have their own boxes and suitcases that they are responsible for. Give them color codes or fun stickers to stick on their boxes that belong in their room. You can oversee this. But, give them one box to pack freely with the stuff they want, it will be the first box they open in their new room.
  • Give each child a backpack to fill with overnight items so you don’t have to dig through boxes. Include their toothbrush, pjs, stuffed animal, favorite bedtime story, remember to put the children’s medications in mommy’s purse or backpack for safe keeping.
  • Pack a baby bag with all of your needs for three days. If you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck. Once you move into your new place, you may not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers, and the all important security blanket, you’ll be happy that you know just where to look for those items.

Adjustment:

4. Last, is the adjustment to the new home and neighborhood. It’s an extremely important phase of a move; it sets the stage for your new life in your new home. Here are suggestions to make the adjustment period a great one:

  • When moving in, set up the nursery first. This will allow you to easily change your baby’s clothes and diapers. You’ll have a nice space for that first bedtime story when you put them to sleep on the first night in your new home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your baby in the transition.
  • Host a party in your new neighborhood and invite children of the same age as your own kid(s) over so that they can make new friends. It’s as easy as a pool party, pizza party, or cookout. Try to host the party in the first weeks of being in your new home.
  • Take them for a drive by their new school, the local ice cream place, playground, if they have a hobby such as dancing, show them that there is a dance studio here too, so they can see their new neighborhood has all the same things as the old.
  • Set up a tour of the new school and to meet their new teacher before school starts.
  • If you move in the beginning of the summer, sign them up for camp or other local activities where they can meet new kids before school starts. It also keeps them out of the house so you can continue the unpacking!

By taking these four points into consideration, your next chapter in your new home will start out with ease – giving every member of your family time to make the new house home.

~J

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First Time Home Buyer Incentive Now Available

Five months ago the Liberal government unveiled the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, a new initiative aimed at easing affordability for first-time homebuyers.

The FTHBI  officially came into effect Monday and will start providing interest-free shared-equity loans to interested buyers in the form of down payment assistance.

To recap how the program works, participants must put down at least 5% of the home’s value with their own money, while the government (through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) would contribute an additional 5% of the down payment if the purchase is of an existing home, or 10% if it’s a new build.

The buyers don’t need to make any monthly payments, though the loan must be repaid after 25 years or when the home is sold.

The CMHC also shares proportionately in any future gains or losses in home value.

Of course, there are certain restrictions:

  • The mortgage must be default insured
  • It’s only available to first-time buyers with a household income under $120,000
  • Participants must have a minimum 5% down payment
  • The mortgage amount plus incentive cannot be more than four times the participants’ annual household incomes (approx. $565,000)

Critics have pointed out that, based on the above math, buyers would qualify for less home than they could otherwise purchase by not participating in the program.

“By limiting borrowers to a purchase price of four times their income, the FTHBI program caps a first-time buyer’s maximum purchase price at about 10% less than they could otherwise afford,” mortgage expert Dave Larock wrote previously on his blog. “It seems strange to me that a program that was designed to help borrowers with affordability explicitly reduces it.”

Others have noted the program is likely to be of less value for buyers in the Greater Vancouver and Toronto regions, where finding a home for under $500,000 is a challenge, if not impossible.

homeownership

“We think it’s definitely going to have very regional application,” Paul Taylor, President and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada, said previously. “In the two most expensive cities, where we would suggest first-time homebuyers need the most support, this solution is not really going to do that.”

CMHC President and CEO Evan Siddall has responded to criticism over the effectiveness of the program in these markets by saying: “No program is going to work as well in higher-priced markets. Using 2018 data, 2,300 homebuyers would have qualified in Toronto and 1,100 in Vancouver. Around 25% of home sales in Toronto in 2018 were for homes under $500K and 17% in Vancouver.”

The CMHC expects 100,000 homebuyers to participate in the program over the next three years.

Industry experts say it will be interesting to see the actual participation rate, given that a similar program launched by the B.C. government in 2016—the Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership—was cancelled due to a low participation rate.

It was expected that 42,000 B.C. homebuyers would participate over three years, though the program received just 3,000 applications.

Thank you to Steve Huebl for this article.

Please note that the FTHBI only applies to homes with a possession November 1, 2019, onwards.

~J