Real Estate Resolutions!


5 minute read

January 10, 2012

Somebody once said, “New Years Resolutions are a little bit like babies: they’re very fun to make, and not very easy to maintain.”

It’s time we all made some real estate resolutions for the New Year…

Last weekend at the gym was an utter nightmare.

Every single night from 5-7pm, the gym was packed.  Every cardio machine was taken, and people were waiting behind them to stake their claim for when the machine became vacant.

The locker room was even worse.  You couldn’t get a locker to save your life, and there seemed to be an abundance of those self-conscious “don’t look at my junk” type guys that like to create a six-foot radius around them and keep their space.  God forbid you got naked in a change-room.  Those guys remind me of the kids in high school that went to the movies together and all sat one seat apart…

The parking lot was, well, a parking lot!  But all it takes is one moron to forget their parking voucher, and the cars get backed up twenty-deep as the woman in the Lexus RX wearing Uggs stands with her hands on her hips and waits for some magical person to come help her.

This happens every single year in January, and every year, I tell myself, “Just wait one month and life at the gym will be back to normal.  GoodLife will be good again!”

And every single year, the prediction comes true.

I’m not telling you guys anything you don’t already know; just ranting a little bit here.

But it got me thinking: going to the gym is the most common New Year’s resolution, but it’s not the only one.  Every year, we all make plans, set goals, and put forth ideas that much of the time, we never accomplish.

Sprucing up your principal residence might fall into this category.

“We’ll do it next year,” you tell yourselves when discussing the hardwood flooring you’ve been wanting every year since you moved in.

“Just shove it in the basement and we’ll figure it out later,” you suggest to your husband as you can’t quite figure out what to do with the useless crap you’ve come to accumulate.

So please allow me to suggest three very simple, very easy real estate resolutions that are far, far easier than losing that 20 pounds you’ve wanted to lose every year for 25 years.  All three of these suggestions are things that every man, woman, and child should be able to tackle and not give up on!

1.  De-Clutter

There are oh-so-many ways you can de-clutter!

First, have a look at your closets.  Almost every buyer I meet wants “lots and lots of closet space,” and those second and third-time buyers who invite me into their ‘cramped’ homes will always point to their bedroom closets and say, “I need more space.”

I tell people, “I have a way that can immediately DOUBLE your closet space, wanna hear?”  They’re all ears!  “Get rid of half of your clothes,” I say.

Guys – here’s something you can relate to.  I looked in my closet in September just as the fall was beginning, and I saw that I had about 20 sweaters.  I wear a suit every single day, so my sweater-wearing is a couple days per week at best.  When I do wear a sweater, be it to the office on a casual day, to a dinner, or to a family function, I have a favourite, the second-place sweater, and then a cast of three others that I’ll wear when I’m really into sweater-mode (perhaps holidays…) and don’t want to demo the same ones over and over.

So it occurred to me that I only really need five sweaters, and yet I have twenty.

I encourage all of you to go home and get a large black garbage bag.  Then go into your closet, and look at each piece of clothing, one-at-a-time.  If you find something that you haven’t worn in two years (let alone since university…), then put it in the garbage bag.

Fill the bag, and take it to Goodwill.  Double your closet space, amen.

Secondly, for those of you that live in a house, clean out your basement, your attic, and your garage.

When we find ourselves with the space to put things, we keep them.  It’s human nature, after all.

But I ask you: how many people reading this right now have three Christmas tree stands in their garage?  Come on – fess up!  But when was the last time that you had three Christmas trees in your living room?

We begin to accumulate two, three, five, or ten of something that we only need one of, at best.

We keep things that we’re afraid to throw out, or too lazy to put on the curb.

I’m telling you – do this now, and it will save me the unpleasant task of having to tell you to do so when I come and list your property for sale!  You’ll hate me less when I say, “You need to fill a dumpster full of crap in order to get this property ready for sale,” rather than the usual, “You need to fill TWO dumpsters…”

2.  Pick ONE Household Improvement And Do It

Countless times, I’ll go into somebody’s house and think, “Geez, this house feels really 1992.”

Then I’ll ask the owners when they bought it and they’ll say, “1992.”

The problem is: nobody wants your ugly, 1992-house in 2012.  It’s out of date, out of style, and completely out of touch.  But time and time again, the seller wants “top dollar” or “what his neighbour got,” and refuses to understand that wooden toilet seats haven’t been ‘in’ since he bought the house.

I tell people, “Do one improvement to your house or condo every year, and it won’t be out of date when it comes time to sell.”

In 2012, put in the hardwood flooring you’ve always wanted.  In 2013, get new kitchen appliances.  In 2014, renovate the two bathrooms.  And so on, and so on.

If you’ve been meaning to renovate every year for five years, then scale back your goals because obviously they’re too daunting!  Pick ONE solid improvement, commit to it, and get it done.

Your house or condo is your largest asset, and you need to keep up the value.  It’s far easier to do one single improvement each year for five years than to fully renovate the property when it comes time to sell.  Save yourself that headache, and pick something to tackle immediately.

3.  Appeal Your Property Taxes

I always hear people complaining about property taxes, but rarely do people do something about them.

And even when I hear people say, “You know – I have half a mind to appeal my damn taxes and get them lowered,” they rarely follow through.

You know that old adage, “You can make numbers say anything you want?”  It’s true when it comes time to appeal your taxes.

A few years ago, my clients who lived in a bungalow on Sutherland asked me to pull all the sales for Leaside bungalows and give them the past MLS listings.  They appealed their taxes, and they got them lowered.  I asked my client, “What was your secret?”  She said, “Well, I just threw away all the sales that were higher than our house, and used the ones for crummy properties like those on Eglinton, Bayview, etc.  Then I sent those ones in for the appeal, and voila!”

Sneaky?  Yes.  Misleading?  For sure.  But ‘wrong?’  No way!  The onus is on MPAC and the City of Toronto to do their homework! 🙂

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. concerned reader

    at 8:07 am

    You really sure you want to keep that last one up there while this site still says Bosley at the bottom?

    1. David Fleming

      at 10:21 am

      @ Concerned Reader

      Why? What’s the problem?

      My seller-client, who I had a contract with, can receive information on sold properties in MLS form. Whatever he or she does with them has nothing to do with me.

      Are you saying that I’m encouraging people to “cheat” on their tax appeals?

      The world is a scary place. If this scares you, then good luck…

  2. Graham

    at 8:26 am

    Oh man, the gym is so annoying right now. I went Friday after working thinking it would be dead (like normal), but it was completely rammed. A dude was working out in a sweater vest. A sweater vest! I guess he didn’t want to donate to Goodwill and instead retired it to workout clothes.

  3. Moonbeam!

    at 9:05 am

    David — …. Very sound advice… and going forward, after decluttering, a good rule is discard one item for every new one you acquire…

  4. Kyle

    at 10:33 am

    I would add to resoltuion number 1, to not buy anything you don’t really need. It doesn’t matter if IKEA is giving you 20% back in giftcards, or if Homesense has further markdowns. Before you buy ask yourself if you really need one more throw, one more cushion, one more kitchen utensil, one more candle, etc. Instead of spending on unnecessary tchotkes, spend the $100-$200 to have your windows and eaves cleaned each fall. In my opinion, the extra light that comes in through clean windows during the winter is worth more than a dozen toss cushions.

  5. Ash

    at 1:33 pm

    Good read David. The Gym crowd now are called January Joiners.. Look the term up on urban dictionary for some funny definitions

  6. Devore

    at 4:06 am

    When we find ourselves with the space to put things, we keep them. It’s human nature, after all.

    When we find ourselves with space to put things, we find things to put there.

  7. Duncan

    at 10:08 am

    Excellent Post David! If you buy a property with the intent to sell it in 3 to 5 to 10 yrs, the time to start Staging is right away. Sit down with your Realtor and/or a professional Property Stylist, (aka stager), on day one and make a timeline for you plans. The 3 things buyers want most are “updated flooring”, “freshly painted walls” and “clean and organized storage space”. Starting with Harwood when you move in will allow you to enjoy it and reap you rewards when it comes time to sell. Good closet organizers will help you keep organized and help for a quicker sale. Kitchens and Baths sell homes, look for a timeless Reno, and don’t over do it for the price of your property, a 30k Reno on a one bed condo most likely won’t get you a good ROI. Most often you can paint or replace the doors and hardware and upgrade the counter and get great results for less $$$. The key is to consult a qualified professional who can consult you on what will add value in the future, and start early so you can enjoy it while you live there. I cant tell you how many clients I have helped prepare their property for sale end up saying “I wish we had done this earlier so we could have enjoyed it”.

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