Real Estate News from Thom Gallagher February 2013   

We may see our pets as cute and cuddly but they can often make selling a home a real challenge.  This month's article offers a few tips for pet owners who are thinking about putting their home on the market.

There's also some great advice on how to install and maintain smoke alarms as well as a few precautions to keep in mind when it comes to smartphone apps.

Thanks so much for checking out this month's newsletter.  Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments regarding the articles, or real estate in general -- it'd be great to hear from you!


In this issue...
Bank of Canada Signals Rates Likely on Hold Until 2014 
The Bank of Canada announced on January 23rd, 2013 that it is keeping its key policy interest rate at 1 per cent, where it has been held for more than two years.

In providing guidance on where interest rates are heading, the Bank said interest rate hikes are “less imminent than previously anticipated.”

The Bank acknowledged that Canadian economic growth slowed more abruptly in the second half of 2012 than it had previously anticipated. It also recognized a marked deceleration in the growth of household debt, moderation in the housing sector, and softer than expected inflation.

The Bank now expects inflation to return to its 2 per cent target sometime in the second half of 2014.  That represents a significant weakening in the Bank’s outlook for inflation; in October, the Bank expected inflation to return to target by the end of 2013.  Consumer Price Inflation rose by 0.8 per cent in November 2012.

The Bank said it still expects the Canadian economy to gain strength this year, but it lowered its forecast for economic growth to just 2 per cent in 2013.  By contrast, its growth forecast for 2014 was raised to 2.7 per cent versus its previous forecast reading of 2.4 per cent contained in its previous Monetary Policy Report (MPR) published in October 2012.

The bottom line is that economic growth is expected to remain modest but positive, consistent with low inflation and low interest rates.  At the same time, growth in household debt burdens, which the Bank has repeatedly flagged as a major risk in this low interest rate environment, is showing positive signs of topping out as housing market activity continues to stabilize at a more sustainable levels.  Combined with extremely well anchored expectations for inflation, that means the Bank is in no hurry to raise interest rates anytime soon, with the first such move in that direction unlikely to be for at least another year.

As of January 23rd, 2013, the advertised five-year lending rate stood at 5.24 per cent.  It has been unchanged at this level since the beginning of June 2012.

For Pet's Sake, Don't Soil your Sale 
It's critical to give prospective buyers a top notch first impression when selling your home.  If you share your home with pets, you'll have to work extra hard to ensure it looks (and smells) its best.
Although you may consider your pets family, potential buyers will likely view them as a smelly nuisance.  If you own pets, here are a few tips that will help you sell your home:

  1. Deep Clean - Steam clean all carpets, rugs and couches and make sure to vacuum your home every day.

  2. Do the Doo Doo - Don't forget to clean up outside before showings as people exploring your garden will be turned off by seeing or even worse, stepping in doggie doo doo.

  3. Gone to the Dogs - Most people don't want to be greeted by a strange dog when they enter a home.  A whining dog in a crate is also a distraction so take Fido for a walk if you're unable to make other arrangements.

  4. Creepy Critters - Some purchasers may be too scared to tour a room that contains certain pets such as snakes or rodents.  They may even decide to leave your home altogether so try and remove any creepy creatures before putting your home on the market.

  5. Breathe Easy - Few things are as offensive as the smells associated with animals.  Buyers will be exploring the basement so make sure the litter tray is completely clean.  Open up windows and simmer a few cinnamon sticks in water as buyers may be allergic to artificial scents.

  6. Fur Real - Clean pet hair out from under the stove, tables, blinds and all crevices.  Aside from its unsightly appearance, many people suffer from allergies and you don't want them sniffling and sneezing while they're trying to view your home.

  7. Scratch the Surface - You're probably so used to your scratched and chewed up furniture that you don't even notice it, but buyers will.  Inspect your home thoroughly and repair scratched areas including window frames, doors, floors and furniture.

It's essential to de-clutter and depersonalize your home before showings in order to create a great first impression, so don't forget to clear away pet beds, feeding bowls and play toys from both inside and outside your home.  Even animal lovers will be put off by the hair, smell or mess pets can make so take these tips into account to ensure your furry friends don't soil your sale!

Smoke Alarm Smarts 
Countless tragedies are prevented each year by smoke detectors.  Here are a few tips to ensure your smoke detectors are in full working order:

  1. Alarms can be hard wired, battery powered or preferably a combination of both.

  2. Interconnected smoke alarms are best because when one alarm goes off, they all do.

  3. Don't "borrow" the batteries for the TV remote as you'll likely forget to replace them.

  4. Test each alarm regularly by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds.

  5. Blow the dust out of the alarm whenever you check or change the batteries.

  6. Smoke alarms should be replaced at least every ten years to ensure proper working order.

  7. Don't install alarms near windows or doors as drafts could stop smoke from reaching the alarm system.

  8. There should be at least one alarm installed on each floor including the basement and preferably every bedroom.

Having defective smoke alarms can be worse than having none at all as they provide a false sense of security so make sure your smoke detectors are in tip top shape.  It's also important for your family to develop a fire escape plan.  If you ever have any questions, your local fire department will be more than happy to help.

Don't Worry, Be 'Appy! 
Crafty crooks are starting to use innocent looking smartphone apps to perpetrate fraud and mayhem.    Here are a few tips that will help protect both your phone and your wallet:

  • Always check online reviews before downloading apps.

  • Malicious apps drain more power than usual so pay attention to your battery life.

  • Review the terms and conditions before downloading the app or you could unknowingly give permission for developers to read your texts or peruse your photos.

There are a lot of great apps out there so you shouldn't let a few bad apps spoil the bunch :)  It's important to be cautious though, especially when it comes to app happy kids so talk to them about the hidden dangers lurking behind these downloads as it'll likely be you that has to foot the bill!

PS Let me help you, or someone you know, achieve your residential or investment real estate goals. You bring the vision and I help you get it done. Call me today at (416)524-6530 to discuss your plans or visit my web site to start your search. I look forward to wowing you with top notch service. 

Not meant to solicit clients already under contract.