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Tara's Tips

...practical and useful everyday information

Home Essentials e-newsletter

Welcome to Tara's Tips, the Home Essentials newsletter. Each month we'll be bringing you practical and useful everyday information that you're sure to enjoy.

You can even subscribe to receive our e-newsletter by email, and as a special bonus if you include your mailing address we'll also send you each month our Service For Life newsletter.

It's packed with special offers, contests, and insider tips for healthy, wealthy and fun living. I promise, my newsletters will be different from anything you've ever seen, and will stimulate your knowledge, imagination... and even tap your "funny-bone" for years to come.

All the best!



Keeping Up Curb Appeal

July 19, 2005

Summer is a fine time to tackle the exterior maintenance that homeowners often put off during winter's inclement months. It's smart to get started on major exterior projects well in advance of putting your home on the market. Buyers will have more confidence in the value of a well-maintained home.

Roof - Are the shingles curling or warped? Did the roof leak this winter? Now's the time to make repairs ... or even re-roof. Consider your roof's age and any history of problems, and then decide. A new roof can be attractive to buyers who don't want to deal with repairs in their new house. Roofs vary widely in longevity depending on materials and how they've been maintained, so buyers should arm themselves with knowledge when looking for their next home.

Windows - Do the windows fall shut, leak or fog up in cold weather? New windows can be an aesthetic improvement, necessary maintenance, and a smart investment all rolled into one. Inefficient windows and doors account for about 25% of the average household's energy bills, according to government estimates. When choosing windows, consider materials, style, function (casement, picture, double-hung, etc.), and of course, cost.

Paint - Does the exterior paint have cracks, blisters or wrinkles? Then you may need to touch up or even paint the entire house. Fresh paint improves a home's appearance and protects it from the elements. People often have an emotional reaction to color, so experts recommend homeowners use a neutral color that appeals to the biggest number of buyers.

Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
A roof must be properly ventilated to withstand harsh weather. Ask a professional whether you need to add or remove roof vents. If your house predates 1978, your paint may contain lead. Take the proper precautions before starting your painting project.

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Hot Trends in Outdoor Entertaining

June 29, 2005

No matter which side of the border you call home, July is a great time for a patriotic celebration. Canada Day (July 1) and America's Independence Day (July 4) also mark the unofficial kick-off of the summer outdoor entertaining season.

One of the hottest new trends takes outdoor entertaining to a whole new level. Beyond the simple barbeque on the back lawn, many people are now choosing the comfort and convenience of adding an outdoor kitchen to their homes.

Here are a few ideas to help you decide if an outdoor kitchen is a good choice for your home and lifestyle:

  • According to building experts, one popular outdoor kitchen configuration is an "island" built into the deck or onto one side of the house

  • Outdoor kitchens typically include a barbecue grill, space for tools and sauces, a small refrigerator and a sink

  • You can create a basic outdoor kitchen for under $2,000 with items from your local home improvement store

  • Homeowners with a larger budget may choose a custom outdoor kitchen that includes a tile backsplash, icemaker or even temperature-controlled wine cabinet

Whether you choose to entertain in your cozy new outdoor kitchen or opt for a simple barbecue on the lawn or patio, have a safe and happy holiday celebration!

Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Adding an outdoor kitchen can significantly increase your home's visual appeal and resale value.  In warmer areas, you can use your outdoor kitchen year-round. An outdoor fireplace can warm things up in cooler areas.

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The Rewards of Renovation

June 6, 2005

Whether you're a new homeowner or a long-time resident, making major home repairs or improvements can significantly add to your personal enjoyment, as well as significantly increase your home's resale value.

Where should you start? Here are a few key facts from recent studies to help you decide which renovations will increase your enjoyment of your home, and which to choose for their return on investment value (or both!):

Your best choices:

  • Which investment provides the highest resale payback? In most areas of the country, a new air conditioning or heating system is worth up to 100% of its cost when it's time to sell
  • Remodelling your kitchen or bathroom offers a more than 90% return on investment in resale value
  • Adding a deck can add up to an 86% bump in resale value
  • Replacing the windows in your home can produce a 60 - 70% payback

To consider carefully:

  • Experts say that putting in a swimming pool usually provides only up to a 40% return on investment
  • The two remodelling investments with the least resale value include finishing off your basement and upgrading your landscaping -- generally offering only a 30 - 60% return

Whether you do the work yourself or hire a contractor, making renovations to your home can be a source of pride and pleasure, as well as a smart financial investment.

Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Unless you're very experienced, hire a professional contractor to work on your electrical system or gas lines, rather than working on them yourself. Local home improvement stores can help you choose the right tools and materials to do many home projects yourself!

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Are you Wired?

May 17, 2005

It’s easy to measure the value of conventional home improvements, such as remodelled kitchens or baths, because they appeal to many homebuyers. You can compare them across homes to analyze the return on your investment. The added value of a “wired” home is harder to measure, but it may be an improvement worth considering.

A wired or connected home is defined as a home specifically designed to accommodate computers, home entertainment systems, special lighting, heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC), home security systems and other elements linked to a centrally controlled network.

Some buyers will pay more for connectivity, and a wired home may sell faster than a home that is not connected. However, the wired home isn’t likely to receive a higher appraised value yet.

That’s why it’s usually smart to highlight wired features when marketing your home, even though research hasn’t yet confirmed that they add value.
Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Connectivity now includes “smart” appliances, such as refrigerators that order groceries and washers that dial up for repairs. The average age of the first time buyer is 31-35 years. That age group may be more likely to value a wired home.

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Moving with Care

May 3, 2005

Did you know that moving is one of the top five causes of stress? Helping your children cope with stress during and after the sale of your home will help alleviate some your own stress as well.

Here are some tips from the experts to help the transition go smoothly for your kids:

  • A child should be informed of a move shortly after the decision has been made, according to Shari Steiner, co-author of the "Steiner's Complete How-To-Move Handbook." Discussing the possibility of a move only causes unnecessary anxiety.
  • To minimize the stress that children feel when moving, parents should get children involved in their favourite activity--whether it be a sport, academics or drama--before the move actually occurs. Children can do research on the Internet to find out about events, teams and other interesting facts about their new area.
  • Give children a chance to become familiar with the new area before moving. Taking a vacation or short trip to the area lets children get to know their new environment ahead of time.
  • Allow children to stay with relatives or friends during the actual packing and loading. Most children don't react well to seeing their possessions packed into boxes and taken away.
Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Don't pack your child's security blanket or other favourite item. It should travel with your child. Many experts recommend moving in the middle of the school year to allow children to make new friends right away.

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Garden Ideas

Apr 21, 2005

With the onset of the spring season, most people begin to long for the outdoors. Gardening and landscaping are top of mind for many of us during this time.

Whether you hire a landscape architect or a gardener, or enjoy working in the garden yourself, now is the time to get started. You can create a beautiful natural environment or plant for privacy, in the ground or in pots on patios and balconies. The current trend in landscaping and landscape design is to use native trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses.

The other trend is to create outdoor living spaces. These places can help extend your living space and allow you to enjoy the beauty of your garden, deck, patio, or balcony more often.

Today, a simple area can be transformed into an outdoor living space with fabulous outdoor furniture, a fireplace, fountain or even a traditional barbeque. Some builders enhance outdoor areas by turning them into outdoor rooms, complete with full kitchen.

These ideas can increase your enjoyment, provide a fun area for entertaining, and may even add value to your home.
Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Recent studies have shown the therapeutic effects of experiencing nature. The simple act of watering and nurturing plants can improve your mood. Nurseries are starting to receive shipments of the newest plants, flowers, and shrubs; start planting now for a summer full of blooms and beauty.

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Your Home's Potential

Mar 22, 2005

When you're in the market for a new home, you probably have an idea of how you want it to look. But keep in mind that a home that is not in "pristine" condition may still have great potential.

Here are some tips to help you look beyond bad decorating and hideous wallpaper to see a potential jewel:

  • Floor plan: The floor plan is extremely important. Look at the flow and how you will use your home. A good floor plan can make up for a lot of much needed paint. Rearranging a floor plan can be an expensive proposition.
  • Walls and floors: The walls and floor make a huge first impression. Paint is relatively inexpensive, so picture the colors you would choose. Carpets can be removed or replaced, hardwoods refinished. Linoleum is not very expensive. These types of minor fix-ups can make a huge impact on look and feel.
  • Kitchen: The kitchen is the most popular room. Paint and new appliances can cure many ills. The most important thing to consider is whether or not it has enough space to suit your needs.
Remember that unless you're building your dream home, you will probably never find the "perfect" home. So when making an offer, keep in mind the things you can't live without, the small things you can look beyond, as well as your budget .
Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
If the exterior of the home doesn't have much curb appeal, imagine it with a fresh coat of paint and modified landscaping. If the home is cluttered or dirty, remember the clutter will leave with the owners. You can always have the home professionally cleaned prior to moving in.

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Make Your Home Sparkle

Feb 21, 2005

Now that springtime is around the corner and more light shines through the windows, many people take the time to make their homes sparkle with a thorough spring cleaning. If you're considering selling, it's essential to get your home in shape.

A clean home is more appealing and commands top dollar.

Whether you're a buyer or a seller, or just a proud homeowner who wants to enjoy your home, here are some tips that will help you through the basics:

  • Wash windows, inside and out with vinegar and water to avoid streaking.
  • Launder all throw rugs and have your carpets professionally cleaned... or rent a carpet cleaner to do it yourself.
  • Scrub all walls, painted doorways and trim with mild soap and water.
  • Use lemon oil or another appropriate wood polish to moisturize and protect your home's paneling, woodwork and hardwood floors.
  • Scrub tiles and laminates. Bathrooms and kitchens should be cleaned thoroughly to really make them shine... and don't forget the top of the refrigerator!

This kind of thorough cleaning may take some time and hard work, but the results are well worth the effort.

Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Car polish can give laminate counters extra shine and durability. Dust your vents, registers and returns, especially if you have central air.

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Hot Home Remodel Trends

Feb 8, 2005

The remodelling industry is booming! Homeowners spent over a billion dollars to remodel their homes last year. Rising home values and lifestyle changes have played a major part in the home improvement craze.

The latest trends in remodelling are:

  • Comfort colors - Natural shades are increasingly popular.
  • Large kitchens - The average size of a kitchen is growing. It used to be a place to prepare and eat meals. Now it's the focal point of the home.
  • Luxury bathrooms - Sumptuous details such as granite floors and counters, spa-like tubs with whirlpools, and televisions make bathrooms an indulgence.
  • Laundry rooms - No longer just for dirty clothes, they can be a status symbol complete with high-tech appliances. The space is even used for crafts or as a mudroom.
  • Specialty rooms - Trendy "extra rooms" can be custom-designed as wine cellars, media rooms, libraries or gyms.

Regardless of current trends or hot new design ideas, the goal of remodelling is to make your home a comfortable and functional place to live, ideal for your lifestyle.

If you'd like more information on remodelling or the newest home trends, please feel free to email or call.

Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Garages are becoming larger and more versatile, suitable for storing big toys like jet skis, boats and large SUVs. Rumour has it that the '70s look is the next hot style for homes, complete with geometric designs and bright candy colors.

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Rent or Buy?

Jan 26, 2005

The decision to rent or buy a home is often a difficult one, and there are pros and cons to both sides. Many people choose to buy a home because they want:
  • A place to stay where rents won't be arbitrarily raised.
  • An opportunity to decorate their space the way they would like.
  • A place of their own where they can build equity. Homes have historically appreciated in value, so homeowners may add to their wealth.

These are compelling reasons to buy, and the wide range of loan programs today allow more people to afford their own home.

Of course, some people prefer to rent because they don't plan to stay in one place for a while, don't feel they can afford to buy, or are not interested in the maintenance responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with ownership.

According to a recent National Association of Realtors report, a typical renter household accumulated $42,000 in net worth over approximately 20 years, while a typical homeowner household had accumulated $167,000 over the same period.

There were other factors that played a role in the accumulation, but those accounted for only $20,000 of the difference. While home ownership isn't for everyone, it can be a wise decision in the long term.

Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
You may be able to qualify to purchase a home. If you are interested, a variety of loans are available for almost any pocketbook. A home provides an opportunity for long-term value appreciation as well as providing everyday shelter.

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Real Estate Market Update

Jan 10, 2005

According to the latest reports from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in the United States, as well as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), 2005 should be another strong year for the North American housing market, based on growing population and a strengthening economy. Relatively attractive interest rates could still allow more first-time homebuyers into the market and entice move up buyers to make their moves.
Here in Canada, land and buildings account for approximately one-third of household wealth, according to a study by TD Canada Trust. the bank predicts that home values will continue to rise next year.

While more consumers are surfing the Web for home information, they continue to rely on a real estate professional such as Tara Rosen to help walk them through the transaction, including showing, pricing, negotiating and making sure the transaction closes.

Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Whether buying or selling, the majority of people rely on the skill and expertise of a real estate professional. Don't hesitate to call or email Tara if you are interested in more specific market or real estate information.

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Office-Ready Homes

Dec 28, 2004

Over 33 million people across North America earn a living by working from home. They can often use the same technology available in a commercial office space... without paying rent.

More home buyers today want home offices, but telecommuters and entrepreneurs aren't the only ones looking for home office space. Some people just prefer to be "wired." Thus, a home office has become a requirement in most houses.

Many people equip an extra bedroom or a corner of a basement or family room to serve the purpose. Families often choose a large family room for office space where parents and children can gather to use the Internet, do homework or play computer games. Others turn their once-formal living room or dining room into a den or home office.

No matter what space you choose, upgraded wiring and multiple electrical outlets are essential. Well over half the population uses high-speed Internet connections such as DSL and cable, compared with only about one-third last year. Creating a high-tech workspace in your home office can make the room especially useful for you, not to mention attractive to potential buyers in the future
Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Garages are not recommended for office space. Renovating them or enclosing them may require permits and even zoning paperwork. Many older homes have porches or mudrooms, which can be enclosed very efficiently for office space.

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Have a Safe and Happy Holiday

Dec 13, 2004

Winter holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends, but you should also take a few minutes to think about home safety so your holidays are free from accidents and injuries.

Here are some useful tips:

  • Choose toys appropriate for a child's age and ability. Avoid toys with small parts for infants and toddlers. Check for recalls on toys an other children's products on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (US) website at http://www.cpsc.gov or call toll-free 1-800-638-2772.
  • Keep an eye out for child danger spots when visiting with friends or family: their homes may not be as child-proofed as yours.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires nationwide. When company comes, keep an eye on the stove. Turn pot handles inward on the stove and keep hot items away from the edges of the counter.
  • When decorating with a real tree, check its freshness and keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree away from heaters and radiators. If you have an artificial tree, make sure it is CSA (UL) listed and labelled "fire-resistant".
  • Inspect electrical cords and use CSA (UL) or FM approved extension cords. For outdoor decorations, only use lights approved for outdoor use. Turn off or unplug all lights and decorations before you leave the house and when you go to bed.
Make sure your holiday season is a safe and happy one!
Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Don't burn wrapping paper! Wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensively, which can cause out-of-control flash fires. Fully cook meats and poultry to eliminate bacteria. Foods that require refrigeration should not be left out more than two hours.

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Winter Travel

Nov 29, 2004

Many people travel during the winter months - visiting relatives, pursuing winter sports or simply escaping the holiday hubbub. As you're shopping for gifts and getting ready to hit the road, here are some things you can do to ensure a safe and happy winter trip;
  • Don't leave packages visible on the seat of your car; place them in the trunk.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use a credit or debit card instead.
At home
  • Set decorative lights on automatic timers to avoid overheating.
  • Avoid tempting thieves with large piles of holiday gifts visible through your home's windows and doors.
  • Be aware that criminals sometimes try and take advantage of your generosity this time of year by solicitating donations for a non-existent or questionable charity. Before you donate, check out the charity's credentials.
On the road
  • Inspect your tires and make sure wiper blades are in good working condition.
  • Carry emergency gear such as blankets, snacks, water, flares, a flashlight, first-aid kit and a cell phone.
  • Check weather conditions before you begin your trip. Most provinces provide up-to-date highway information over the telephone or online.
Whether you're going away for the holidays or staying home, enjoy this festive time... and consider reaching out to others who are less fortunate than your are.
Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Remember to be safe and choose a designated driver When flying, pack your camera film in a carry-on bag

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The Holiday Season is Approaching

Nov 15, 2004

The approaching holidays are often a time to reflect on the people we love, what is important to us and all the things that we have in our lives to be grateful for, including another banner year for home owners. With interest rates falling to their lowest levels in years and remaining low, many people have been able to buy their first home, move up to a dream home, downsize and use the extra money in creative ways, or make the move from a condo to a single family home.

Choosing a real estate professional to handle the purchase or sale of an asset as large and important as your home naturally required careful consideration.

In fact, agents build their business on repeat customers and referrals, earning your trust by consistently providing exceptional personal service, interpreting the marketplace and economic climate, and helping individuals and families build strong communities.

We appreciate the trust and confidence you place in us to handle your real estate needs. As we take a moment this holiday season to reflect on all the things we're grateful for, please know that we are thankful for your business and the opportunity to be of service to you... now, and in the future.


Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
Please don't hesitate to call or email if you have any questions about real estate, interest rates, market trends or any other real estate subject. Many people travel during the holidays. Be sure to have a neighbour or trusted friend look after your home and pick-up mail or newspapers while you're away.

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Why Choose a Tech-Savvy Agent?

Oct 21, 2004

As the Internet continues to simplify the way people do research on buying or selling their home, there are many good reasons to choose an agent who can harness the power of technology to provide you with exceptional service. A tech-savvy agent can:
  • Send up-to-date information by email for you to review at your convenience.
  • Provide you with an online home evaluation so you can stay on top of current market value.
  • Forward new home listings to you as soon as desirable properties hit the market.
  • Deliver e-newsletters to keep you informed about market trends and other valuable pointers.
  • Showcase your home on the Web to help you sell it for top dollar.
Whether you're thinking about buying or selling, or simply want to stay informed about the real estate market, using new technology helps us consistently provide you with timely information and outstanding service.
Tara's Tips
  Tara's Tips
If you know someone who would benefit from receiving this newsletter, please feel free to forward their email address. If you would like additional information on the advantages of using a tech-savvy agent, please feel free to contact me.

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