realestate

20 Unique Home Gifts for Every Person on Your List

20 Unique Home Gifts for Every Person on Your List

Every year, it seems the holidays sneak up on us—and every year, that brings with it the dreaded last-minute gift panic. Finding a present that hits all the right notes can be surprisingly stressful, even when it comes to people you’ve known for years.

But have no fear! We’ve lined up a list of gifts for every “type” on your list. And since we work in real estate, they’re all centered around home life. From the coffee snob to the sports enthusiast, these presents are the perfect way to bring beauty, function or a touch of whimsy to your loved one’s home this holiday season.

 

FOR THOSE WHO ARE ALWAYS IN THE KITCHEN

We all know someone whose kitchen is their happy place—but once all the basics are covered, it can be hard to find the perfect present. These gifts will be a treat for the chef, baker, or food lover on your list, no matter how well equipped they are.

1. The Coffee Snob

Glass Pour-Over Coffeemaker – $75

Have a java lover on your list who just can’t get their brew right at home? This high-end pour-over system makes a smooth brew that can even be refrigerated and reheated so your recipient can enjoy a perfect cup at any time.

2. The Foodie

Pink Oyster Mushroom Growing Kit – $65

Help your favourite gourmand create restaurant-quality meals with this kit, which allows them to grow delicious mushrooms right in their cupboard. All they’ll need to do is soak the package and then mist it with water for a few days, and voila—delicious organic mushrooms!

3. The Baker

Vintage Etched Cake Stand – $87

If you’re lucky enough to have a fabulous home baker on your list, give a gift that reflects the joy their treats bring to others. This lovely glass cake stand is the platform that a beautifully decorated dessert deserves.

4. The Tea Aficionado

Flowering Tea Set – $35

Your favourite tea lover may have tried all of the herbal blends out there, but we bet they haven’t seen tea like this. This set contains two “blossoms” of tea leaves hand-sewn around flowers that bloom when you place them in the included glass teapot and add hot water.

 

FOR THOSE WHO WOULD RATHER BE IN THE BACKYARD

For many of us, time outdoors is the ultimate source of rejuvenation. The nature-lover on your list is sure to appreciate these presents that help them maximize that joy in their daily lives.

5. The Gardener

Large Garden Tote – $66

Dedicated gardeners all need a great bag to carry their gear. This tote is attractive and sturdy and will help them keep their home’s exterior beautiful and welcoming.

6. The Flower Lover

Monthly Flower Subscription – starting at $60/month

If your loved one prefers to enjoy their flora without all the work, a delivery of farm-fresh flowers is sure to surprise and delight. And you can keep the joy blossoming year-round with a weekly, semi-monthly or monthly subscription.

7. The Environmentalist

Reusable Stainless Steel Straws – $14

Know someone who is trying to bring less plastic into their home? This set of reusable metal straws means they’ll never have to buy a box of plastic straws again. And the assortment of sizes ensures that they’ll work with anything from a tall glass of water to a to-go mug.

8. The Outdoor Adventurer

Solar Phone Charger – $50

Have a camper or adventurer on your list? This solar-powered phone charger, which comes with a built-in flashlight and compass, is a must-have. It will also make a great addition to their home emergency kit.

 

FOR THOSE WITH THEIR NOSE TO THE GRINDSTONE

Like it or not, most of us spend a good chunk of our lives working—whether at a job or on projects and chores around the house. These gifts are designed to make that work a bit easier and more enjoyable.

9. The Remote Worker

Home Office Lap Desk – $45

Working at home can be great—in part because you can work from anywhere in the house. The remote worker on your list will appreciate this lap desk with a built-in mouse pad and phone slot, which will allow them to work comfortably from the couch or the bed without overheating their computer.

10. The Back-to-The-Office Worker

Bento Lunch Box – $35

If your loved one is heading back to the office, it doesn’t mean they have to give up the healthy habit of a home-cooked meal. Send them to work with this stylish lunch box packed full of nutritious food.

11. The Do-It-Yourselfer

Laser Measure – $35

The handy person on your list can say goodbye to unwieldy tape measures with this nifty device. It’s perfect for DIY projects of any size.

12. The Clean Freak

UV Sanitizer and Charger – $70

In the COVID-19 era, we’ve all become a little germaphobic. This UV smartphone sanitizer kills bacteria while it charges. Plus, its clever design enables you to hear your phone notifications while the device is in use.

 

FOR THOSE MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT THEIR HOBBIES

Of course, there’s a lot more to life than work. If you’re gifting a friend or family member who really lights up when they talk about their hobbies, we’ve got you covered.

13. The Sports Enthusiast

Hockey Stick BBQ Set – $61

Looking for a gift for the sports enthusiast in your life that isn’t another jersey? These BBQ tools made from repurposed hockey sticks are a great pick. Perfect for cooking up food to watch with the game!

14. The Bookworm

The Book Lover’s Journal – $19

Know someone who loves to curl up on the couch with a good book? This journal will help the book-lover on your list keep track of what they’ve read, as well as their ever-growing “to-read” list.

15. The Runner

Marathon Map Hydration Bottle– $49

Help the runner you love to stay hydrated (and motivated) with a water bottle inscribed with their favourite race route. It’s perfect for runs around the neighbourhood or just toting around the house.

16. The Tourist

Travel Backpack – $120

Make it easy for the travel lover on your list to bring back souvenirs. This lightweight backpack folds flat so it’s easy to pack but sturdy enough to carry their new treasures all the way home.

 

FOR THOSE WHO PUT FAMILY FIRST

For many of us, the greatest joy in life comes from our relationship with our family. Help your recipient strengthen and celebrate those all-important connections with these thoughtful gifts.

17. The New Parent

4-in-1 Baby Food Maker – $230

It’s hard to know what to buy for new parents once their registry is cleared out, but if they’re interested in making baby food at home, this tool is a must-have. It makes the process, from steaming to mixing, fast and easy.

18. The Genealogy Fan

DNA Kit – $129

Know someone interested in reconnecting with their ancestral home? This DNA kit can help them trace their geographical heritage and uncover their family history.

19. The Dog Person

Custom Printed Socks – $28

Is your friend’s dog their favourite family member? These adorable socks are sure to put a smile on their face as they cozy up on the couch with their pup. And since you can feature up to two pets on each pair of socks, no one needs to feel left out.

20. The Documentarian

Mini Link Printer – $130

We all have that relative who snaps a million photos at every family event. Help them capture each precious moment with this unique gadget that essentially transforms a smartphone into a Polaroid camera. It makes it easy to customize and print out snapshots to display around the house or insert into a scrapbook for posterity.

 

READY TO GIVE YOURSELF THE ULTIMATE GIFT?

We want to be your real estate consultants through every season of life. So please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or to ask for recommendations or referrals any time of year. And when you’re ready to give yourself the gift of a new home, contact us to talk about your options. From finding the right neighbourhood to identifying the amenities that will make the biggest difference to your quality of life, we’re always eager to help

Posted by Christine Pecharich
New Build or Existing Home: Which One Is Right for You?

New Build or Existing Home: Which One Is Right for You?

Homebuyers today are facing a huge dilemma. There simply aren’t enough homes for sale.1

Nationwide, the number of newly listed homes dipped slightly in September, down 1.6% from August. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, that’s only about 2.1 months of inventory, which is far less than the five to six months that is generally needed to strike a healthy balance between supply and demand.2

Given the limited number of available properties, if you’re a buyer in today’s market, you may need to expand your search to include both new construction and resale homes. But it can feel a little like comparing apples to oranges.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors you should take into account when choosing between a new build or an existing home.

 

 TIMEFRAME

 How quickly do you want (or need) to move into your next home? Your timeframe can be a determining factor when it comes to choosing between a new build or resale.

 New Build

If you opt for new construction, you may be surprised by how long you have to wait to get the keys to your new digs. Nationally, the average timeline has more than doubled over the past 20 years from 9 to 21 months.1 And according to a survey by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, nearly 60% of builders are reporting delays—averaging six weeks—due to supply-chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic.3

These supply shortages have led to soaring prices, causing some builders to cancel contracts or demand more money from unsuspecting homebuyers long after agreements were signed.4 Unfortunately, this scenario can throw a major wrench in your moving plans and delay your timeline even further.

To minimize these types of surprises, it’s crucial to have a real estate agent represent you in a new home purchase. We can help negotiate contract terms and advise you about the potential risks involved.

 Existing Home

If you’re in a hurry to move into your next residence, then you may want to stick to shopping for an existing home.

You can typically move into a resale home on your closing date.5 While closing on an existing home can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, it’s almost always faster than the time it would take to build a new one.

If you need to move even sooner, it’s sometimes possible to close faster, especially if you’re a cash buyer. In fact, many sellers prefer a quick closing, so it can give you an advantage in a competitive market.

 

LOCATION

 From commute to construction to walkability, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your next neighbourhood.

 New Build

Canada is currently undergoing a major residential construction boom, and rural and smaller urban communities have been the first to benefit—primarily because the single-detached homes located in those areas take less time to build.6 That means, if you opt for a new single-family home, you could be facing a longer commute and ongoing construction for some time.

If you prefer a multifamily unit, there should be an increased supply coming on the market soon. Over the past year, condos and apartments have accounted for 55% of the housing starts. A growing number of these are located in master-planned communities that combine residential, retail, restaurants, and office space—enabling residents to live, work, and play in a single space.7

Existing Home

An existing home is more likely to be located in a neighbourhood with mature trees, established schools, and a deeply-rooted community. As a result, you may find the neighbourhood’s trajectory to be more predictable than an up-and-coming area.

But the amenities may be lacking and the infrastructure dated when compared to newer communities. And while some homebuyers love the charm and eclectic feel of an older neighbourhood, others prefer the sleek and cohesive look of a newer development.

 

MAINTENANCE

 Are you a DIY enthusiast, or do you prefer a low-maintenance lifestyle? Set realistic expectations about how much time, effort, and money you want to devote to maintaining your next home.

 New Build

When you build a home, everything is brand new. Therefore, in the first few years at least, you can expect less required maintenance and repairs. A 2019 survey found that millennials’ homebuying regrets often came down to maintenance issues, rather than other concerns.8 So if you would rather spend your weekends exploring your new neighbourhood than fixing a leaky faucet, you may be happier buying a turnkey build.

That doesn’t mean, though, that a new home will be entirely maintenance-free. In fact, depending on the builder, you could find yourself repairing more than you expected. Some home builders have reputations for shoddy construction and subpar materials, so it’s important to choose one with a solid reputation. We can help you identify the quality builders in our area.

 Existing Home

No matter how good a deal you got when you purchased it, you could come to regret buying an older home if it later costs you heavily in unexpected maintenance and repairs. For example, according to the home service professional network HomeStars, the average price to replace an HVAC system is $4,995. And you can expect to pay a similar amount ($4,750) for a new asphalt shingle roof.9

Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for these large expenditures ahead of time. We always recommend that our buyers hire a certified home inspector, whether they buy a new or existing home. Once we have the inspector’s report, we can negotiate with the seller on your behalf for reasonable repairs or concessions.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

 On a quest for greener living? If so, there are several factors to consider when deciding on your next home.

 New Build

There’s a growing demand for energy-efficient housing, and many builders are rising to the challenge. Currently, more than one million homes in Canada have received an EnerGuide Rating, which measures a home’s energy performance against a benchmark.10 While all newly-constructed housing must meet the National Building Code requirements, there are a number of certifications that homes can earn if they receive an EnerGuide rating that exceeds these minimum standards.

Examples include the Net Zero label from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, which is awarded to homes that are 80% more energy efficient than conventional homes and utilize a renewable energy system to fulfill their remaining energy needs. ENERGY STAR and R-2000 are other well-regarded certifications that can be earned by homes that meet certain performance standards. So if energy efficiency is a top priority, a new home with a low EnerGuide rating or recognized designation may be a good choice for you.10

Existing Home

Of course, a basic tenet of sustainable living is: reduce, reuse, recycle. And since a resale home already exists, it automatically comes with a lower carbon footprint. Research has also shown that remodeling or retrofitting an older home is often greener than building one from scratch.11

With some energy-conservation effort and strategic upgrades, environmentally-conscious consumers can feel good about buying an existing home, as well.

 

DESIGN

Double vanity? Kitchen island? Whirlpool tub? Must-have design features could drive your decision to build or buy resale.

New Build

With a new home, you can bet that everything will look shiny and perfect when you move in. Builders tend to put a lot of emphasis on visual details and follow the latest design trends. For example, newly-built homes are likely to include features that the majority of today’s buyers want, such as double bathroom sinks, kitchen islands, and walk-in pantries. They’re also less likely to include home theatre rooms or whirlpool tubs, both of which have lost mass appeal.12

However, some buyers complain of the cookie-cutter feel of new homes since they are often built with a similar aesthetic. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t incorporate your own style. We can help you negotiate custom features and upgrades to personalize the space and make it feel like your own.

 Existing Home

In some of the most coveted neighbourhoods, an older home with classic styling and character can be highly sought after. But unless the previous homeowners have invested in tasteful updates, an existing home is also more likely to look dated.

While some buyers prefer the traditional look and character of an older home, others prefer something more modern.  If that’s the case, we can help you find a resale home that leaves enough room in your budget to renovate it to your liking.

  

WHICHEVER PATH YOU CHOOSE, WE CAN HELP

When it comes to choosing between a new build or an existing home, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. There are numerous factors to consider, and you may have to make some compromises along the way. But the homebuying process doesn’t have to feel overwhelming.

We’re here to help. And in many cases, our homebuyer guidance and expertise are available at no cost to you! That’s because the home seller or home builder may compensate us with a commission at closing.

Some new-construction homebuyers make the mistake of visiting a builder’s sales office or even purchasing a home without their own real estate representative. But keep in mind, the builder’s agent or “sales consultant” has their best interests in mind—not yours.

We are knowledgeable about both the new construction and resale home options in our area, and we can help you make an informed decision, negotiate a fair price, and avoid mistakes that can cost you time and money. So give us a call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation—and let’s start searching for your next home!

 

 

Sources:

  1. RBC –
    https://thoughtleadership.rbc.com/home-builders-are-tackling-canadas-housing-supply-shortage/
  2. Canadian Real Estate Association –
    https://creastats.crea.ca/en-CA/
  3. Financial Post –
    https://financialpost.com/real-estate/homebuilders-have-been-busy-during-the-pandemic-but-canada-still-needs-more-housing
  4. Better Dwelling –
    https://betterdwelling.com/canadian-home-builders-are-asking-buyers-for-more-money-to-finish-building/#_
  5. Legal Line –
    https://www.legalline.ca/legal-answers/when-can-you-move-into-your-newly-purchased-home/
  6. Financial Post –
    https://financialpost.com/real-estate/there-has-never-been-more-housing-under-construction-in-canada-but-the-city-that-needs-it-the-most-is-missing-the-boom
  7. BC Business – https://www.bcbusiness.ca/2021-Real-Estate-Report-With-a-push-from-COVID-the-BC-property-market-enters-new-territory
  8. Bankrate –
    https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/homebuyer-regret-survey-may-2021/
  9. HomeStars –
    https://homestars.com/cost-guides/
  10. Canadian Home Builders’ Association –
    https://blog.chba.ca/2021/05/14/are-all-energy-efficient-homes-the-same/
  11. Advanced Materials Research – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271358381_Comparative_Study_of_New_Construction_and_Renovation_Project_Based_on_Carbon_Emission

Canadian Home Builders’ Association –
https://blog.chba.ca/2020/11/26/todays-new-home-buyers-preferences/

Posted by Christine Pecharich
Finding a New Home for Your Next Stage of Life

Finding a New Home for Your Next Stage of Life

Imagine the first place you lived as a young adult. Now imagine trying to fit your life today into that space. Not pretty, right?

For most of us, our housing needs are cyclical. A newly independent adult can find freedom and flexibility in even a tiny apartment. That same space, to a growing family, would feel stifling. For empty nesters, a large home with several unused bedrooms can become impractical to heat and clean. It’s no surprise that life transitions often trigger a home purchase.

While your home-buying journey may not look like your neighbour’s or friend’s, broad trends can help you understand what to keep in mind as you house hunt. No one wants to regret their home purchase and taking the time now to think about exactly what you need can save a lot of heartache later.

The Newly Married or Partnered Couple

The financial and legal commitment of both traditional and common-law marriage has provided a springboard to homeownership for centuries. And while the average age of first marriage in Canada is around 30, the average age of first home purchase has shifted even later to 36.1,2 No matter your age, there are some key factors that you should consider when you are ready to enter into your first home purchase together.

Affordability is Key

There’s no doubt about it—with home prices that just keep climbing, many first-time buyers feel that the deck is stacked against them when it comes to homeownership. But stepping onto the property ladder can be more doable than many realize, especially in today’s low mortgage rate environment.

While many buyers are holding out for their dream home, embracing the concept of a starter home can open a lot of doors. In fact, that’s a popular approach for first-time homebuyers to take. Fifty percent of first-time Canadian buyers report that they plan to eventually upgrade to a larger home.3

Chosen carefully, a starter home can be a great investment as well as a launchpad for your life together. If you focus on buying a home you can afford now with strong potential for appreciation, you can build equity alongside your savings, positioning you to trade up in the future if your needs change.3

Taking Advantage of Low Mortgage Rates

Canadian mortgage rates hit record lows in summer 2020, and while they are gradually creeping back up, now is still an ideal time to purchase your first home together.4 A lower interest rate can save you a bundle over the life of your loan, which can significantly increase the quality of home you can get for your money.

But what if both halves of a couple don’t have good credit? You still have options. First, boosting a credit score can be easier than you think—simply paying your credit cards down below 35% of your limit can go a long way.5 But if that’s not enough to raise your score, you might consider taking out the mortgage in only the better-scoring partner’s name. The downside is that applying for a mortgage with only one income will reduce your qualification amount. And if you take that route, make sure you understand the legal and financial implications for both parties should the relationship end.

Commute and Lifestyle Considerations

Whether you’ve lived in a rental together for years or are sharing a home for the first time, you know that living together involves some compromises. But there are certain home features that can make life easier in the future if you identify them now. The number of bathrooms, availability of closet space, and even things like kitchen layout can make a big difference in your day-to-day life and relationship.

Your home’s location will also have a significant impact on your quality of life, so consider it carefully. What will commuting look like for each of you? And if you have different interests or hobbies—say, museums vs. hiking—you’ll need to find a community that meets both your needs. Need some help identifying the ideal location that fits within your budget? We can match you with some great neighbourhoods that offer the perfect mix of amenities and affordability.

The Growing Family

Having kids changes things—fast. With a couple of rowdy preteens and maybe some pets in the mix, that 1,600 square foot home that felt palatial to two adults suddenly becomes a lot more cramped. Whether you’ve just had your first child or are getting to the point where your kids can’t comfortably share a bedroom any longer, there’s plenty to consider when you’re ready to size up to a home that will fit your growing family.

The Importance of School Districts

For many parents, the desire to give their kids the best education—especially once they are in middle and high school— surpasses even their desire for more breathing room. In fact, homebuyers report that school district is one of their top concerns.6 Of course, homes in the best-rated districts tend to be more expensive and harder to nab. But when push comes to shove, many buyers with kids prefer to sacrifice a bit of space to find a home in their desired location.

When you’re moving to a new community, it can be tough to figure out what the local schools are actually like—and online ratings leave a lot to be desired. That’s why talking to a local real estate agent can be a gamechanger. We don’t just work in this community; we know it inside and out. We’ll be happy to share our first-hand knowledge of the local schools and which neighbourhoods are most welcoming to families.

Lifestyle Considerations

For many families, living space is a key priority. Once you have teenagers who want space to hang out with their friends, a finished basement or a rec room can be a huge bonus (and can help you protect some quieter living space for yourself).

A good layout can also make family life a lot easier. For example, an open plan is invaluable if you want to cook dinner while keeping an eye on your young kids playing in the living room. And if you think that you might expand your family further in the future, be sure that the home you purchase has enough bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate that comfortably.

Functionality

Try to think about how each room will fit into your day-to-day. Are you anticipating keeping the house stocked to feed hungry teenagers? A pantry might rise to the top of the list. Dreading the loads of laundry that come with both infants and older kids (especially if they play sports)? The task can be much more bearable in a well-designed laundry room. Imagine a typical day or week of chores in the house to identify which features will have the biggest impact.

Chances are, you won’t find every nice-to-have in one home, which is why identifying the must-haves can be such a boon to the decision-making process. We can help you assess your options and give you a sense of what is realistic within your budget.

The Empty Nesters

When we talk about empty nesters, we usually think about downsizing. With kids out of the house, extra bedrooms and living space can quickly become more trouble than they’re worth. While the average buyer with young kids is most likely to trade up to a larger home, older buyers often sell the family home and move into a smaller, less expensive home. In fact, more than half of Canadian Baby Boomers consider the area where they live too expensive for retirement.7

Maintenance and Livability

What factors are driving your decision to move? Identifying those early in the process can help you narrow down your search. For example, do you want to have space for a garden, or would you prefer to avoid dealing with lawn care altogether? What about home maintenance? In many cases, a newer home will require less maintenance than an older one and a smaller one will take less time to clean. It’s not surprising that condos are among the most popular types of homes for Baby Boomers given they require less upkeep than single-family homes.7

Lifestyle Considerations

Many empty nesters have retired or are nearing retirement age. This could be your chance to finally pursue hobbies and passions that were just too hard to squeeze into a 9-5. If you’re ready to move, consider how you’d like to spend your days and seek out a home that will help make that dream a reality. For some, that might mean living near a golf course or a beach. For others, being able to walk downtown for a nice dinner out is the priority. And with more time to spend as you wish, proximity to a supportive community of friends and family is priceless.

Ability to Age in Place

Let’s face it—we can’t escape ageing. If you’re looking for a home to retire in, accessibility should be top-of-mind. This may mean a single-story home or simply having adequate spaces on the first floor to rearrange as needed. While buying a home that you plan to renovate from the start is a viable option, being forced into renovations (because of the realities of ageing) a few years down the road could seriously dig into your nest egg. Location matters, too—if your family will be providing support, are they close by? Can you easily reach necessities like grocery stores and healthcare? While it’s tempting to put it out of our minds, a few careful considerations now can make staying in your home long-term much more feasible.

Finding the Right Home for Right Now

One thing is for sure—life never stands still. And your housing needs won’t, either. In fact, the average Canadian homeowner will own 4.5 to 5.5 houses over their lifetime.8 At each milestone, a careful assessment of your housing options will ensure that you are well-positioned to embrace all the changes to come.

Whatever stage you’re embarking on next, we’re here to help. Our insight into local neighbourhoods, prices, and housing stock will help you hone in on exactly where you want to live and what kind of home is right for you. We’ve worked with home buyers in every stage of life, so we know exactly what questions you need to ask. Buying a home—whether it’s your first or your fifth—is a big decision, but we’re here to support you every step of the way.

 

Sources:

  1. The Canadian Encyclopedia –
    https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/marriage-and-divorce
  2. Mortgage Broker News –
    https://www.mortgagebrokernews.ca/news/sorry-gen-z-the-average-firsttime-buyer-in-canada-is-36-years-old-335685.aspx
  3. Savvy New Canadians –
    https://www.savvynewcanadians.com/starter-home-vs-permanent-home/
  4. Mortgage Broker News –
    https://www.mortgagebrokernews.ca/news/are-the-days-of-low-interest-rates-coming-to-an-end-for-canadian-homebuyers-338140.aspx
  5. Government of Canada –
    https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/improve-credit-score.htm
  6. Housing Sentiments and Trends Report 2017 –
    https://marketing.zoocasa.com/zoocasa-housing-trends-report-2017.pdf
  7. Royal LePage –
    https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/more-than-14-million-boomers-across-canada-expect-to-buy-a-home-in-the-next-five-years-690334391.html
  8. Zolo –
    https://www.zolo.ca/blog/how-many-homes-will-you-buy

 

Posted by Christine Pecharich