A perfect match? Buying a fixer-upper

By Cindy-lou Schmidt

In the current real estate market, home prices are creating challenges for buyers of all budgets. The reality of not getting as much house for your money as you would have just two years ago, takes some getting used to. Particularly in the last year, choosing to do home renovations and upgrades after purchase can get you a “deal” now and give your home the extra boost it needs later, without breaking the bank at purchase time.

But not so fast. If you’re eyeing a fixer-upper, think carefully. That home may seem like a deal now, but does it makes sense in the long term? How does it fit in with your life goals?

Whatever your plans, an often overlooked factor when buying a home is your temperament and comfort with renovations. These considerations are worth thinking about: Are you skilled in home repairs and upgrades? Do you know someone that you trust and are pleased with their work? How at ease do you feel about the possibility of projects going over-budget? Have you considered that you may need to manage the project and go through the selection process of hiring a professional? How long will the upgrades and renovations take? Could they delay important life events such as focusing on your career and gaining a promotion, or starting a family?

Finally, will you hire a professional or a handyman? Professionals tend to be more expensive up front, but more often than not, you’ll be able to depend on their allegiance to their reputation, and long-term presence if an issue needs to be corrected. Whereas, while you may benefit from a more inexpensive handyman up front, they may not be insured and may not be so handy to reach if things go awry.

Whether you’re a do-it-yourself homeowner or choose to employ skilled help, it’s most important to create balance and stability while the home renovations get completed. After all, improving your home is about improving you and your family’s lives, not just the property right? Fixer-uppers aren’t for everyone; choose wisely to choose a house not just within your budget, but within your means.

As we like to say around here, “Life is full of priorities: choose time, family, and peace of mind”.

Think big,

Continuing the Queen Street Tradition

By Cindy-lou Schmidt

Recently, more than $1 million has been approved for the transformation of Queen Street in Downtown Kitchener with a secondary budget allotted to repair base infrastructure. It’s an exciting new turn for businesses, shoppers, visitors, and those who live and work in Downtown as the Placemaking Plan sets forth for a 2019 start.

Downtown Kitchener will see the investment transform the two block stretch between Duke and Charles, along with Vogelsang Green, and the parkette at Charles and Queen Street and Halls and Goudie’s Lane, capitalizing on the historical significance and charm of this once humble dirt road.

In fact, Queen Street has a long history of big plans. In 1807, Joseph and Barbara Schneider arrived after a seven-week trek from Pennsylvania and the Schneiders chose a site near a creek that later bore their name. Joseph then built a dirt laneway from his farm to the Great Road. In time, Joseph Meyer Snyder, great-grandson of the pioneer, planned for a leisure venture, with pony rides, archery and the Pickwick Miniature Golf Course, followed later by shops, apartments and industry. Thanks to their pioneering spirit, the Great Road, now called King Street, intersects Queen Street, where the historic Walper Terrace Hotel still stands at 1-11 King Street West since January 1, 1893.

Today, Queen Street is re-envisioned with an enhanced space for public events, festivals, performances and culture with an amphitheatre, wider side-walks and a ‘people-first plaza’. It’s an exciting new start that will bring the charm of this cultural history forward.

“What sets a city apart from another is the character of its streets. Queen Street has that historic main street feel,” says Brandon Sloan, Manager of long range and policy planning with the City of Kitchener.

That it does.

Back to School – Where will my child attend?

By Cindy-lou Schmidt

If you’ve been out shopping in the last couple of weeks, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the annual influx of back to school supplies and sales. If you’re a family that is making a move this summer, you may be wondering how you can help prepare your children for back to school.

One of the first things to do is check which school your child will be attending. Depending on the street that you will live on, your child may be eligible for a school close by or they may need to be bused.

Find out what school your child is eligible to attend. This website will work to help you find public and Catholic schools, as well as those that provide French Immersion.

Once your home is purchased and closed, you’ll want to be certain that your child is enrolled, so be sure to get registered.

With a little planning, the transition to a new neighbourhood and school will be fun and exciting!

Preparing to sell in September

By Cindy-lou Schmidt

August is an excellent time to squeeze in a few more weekends of beaches, cottages, or days trips to some of Ontario’s best little towns.

But if selling your home is on your mind, no need to be concerned about running out of time. Using the last of summer to tie up loose ends on the exterior of your home is ideal as you prepare for a fall sale.

This can include:

  • Adding attractive fall flowers, perennials, or shrubbery and taking advantage of sales at the nursery or hardware store
  • Making sure all downspouts are directed correctly and are working well
  • Giving your shed or front door a fresh coat of paint
  • Ensuring patio stones and other foot paths are stable, free of weeds and evenly placed to avoid trips and falls
  • Sweeping or vacuuming up leaf debris around your home and hidden in corners (this makes great bedding for the mice that want to join you as cold weather arrives)
  • Checking your foundation for cracks
  • Ensure that your flower beds are graded away from your foundation
  • Check your windows seals and caulking for peeling and shrinking

All these activities are much more enjoyable while the sun is shining. If you take a little time each week to attend to these areas, you’ll be on schedule for sprucing up the interior in no time.

If you’re serious about getting a good return on the sale of your home, make sure you partner with a REALTOR® as you prepare your home for sale. They’re in the real estate market everyday and will be able to provide a streamlined plan that works for you.

Typical summer slow down even in an atypical market

By Cindy-lou Schmidt

Real estate in Kitchener-Waterloo and area has seen the typical summer slow down, with the second month in a row of declining sales despite the atypical market over the last year. July’s deceleration of home sales at 5.1 per cent, follows June’s 3.2 per cent decrease from the previous year.

Mind you, number of home sales in July were still above average. Additionally, sellers and homeowners will be pleased to know that average home prices remain above average, with an increase of 17.4 per cent over July 2016, to $455,217.

The ease in home sales numbers comes as a relief to many buyers who experienced the challenge of purchasing a home during the record-breaking sales in May this year. Fierce competition in multiple offers, meant that their REALTORS® went to bat, sometimes against another 39 offers on the table.

For buyers looking for their next home, August may be the time to benefit if they are able to secure a home in this fantastic Region. Consumer confidence in Kitchener-Waterloo’s real estate continues to be strong and many buyers and their agents would love to see more homes become available.

Available inventory continues to be low with supply at just two months (the time it would take to sell current inventory at the current rate of sale). The long term average in Waterloo Region is three and a half months.

Wondering where your home stands?

Detached homes sold for an average of $519,507, an increase of 14.7 per cent.

Apartment-style condos sold for an average $277,866, up 13.8 per cent.

Townhomes sold for an average of $350,342, up 22.8 per cent.

Semi-detached homes sold for an average of $352,721, up 14.3 per cent.

If you’d like an accurate valuation of your home, contact us for a complimentary assessment. The condition of your home, location, and other key factors matter. For more on the official report on July’s K-W Market Update including statistics from Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich Townships, click here.

Choosing a neighbourhood based on the school

Every year, families move from one area of Kitchener-Waterloo to the other, or move in or out of the Region. One thing that holds true for many parents is ensuring that their children will have the opportunity to benefit from quality education.

Fortunately, in Waterloo Region, we have several schools that rank well according to the Fraser Institutes annual assessment which uses objective, publicly-available data to compile the rankings.

Waterloo’s Top elementary schools include Laurelwood Public School and St. Nicholas (8.8), and Millen Woods Public School  (8.3)

If you live in Kitchener, the top elementary schools include St. Teresa (9.5), Lackner Woods and St. Mark (8.2).

For students attending high school In Kitchener, Resurrection  (7.5), Kitchener Waterloo Collegiate Institute (6.7), and St. Mary’s (6.6)

For high school students in Waterloo, top ranking schools include Waterloo Collegiate Institute (8.2), Sir John A. Macdonald (8.1), and St. David (7.3).

We’re very fortunate to have many great schools to choose from in Kitchener-Waterloo. For more details about other school rankings or to compare schools, click here.