When buying a new home, what upgrades should we go for? What holds the most value? Do we upgrade the lot? Pick more square meterage in the house? Add an extra bedroom?, etc.

A lot depends on why you are buying the house. Are you buying it mostly as a home or mostly as an investment? There is a difference.

For the most part, upgrades are high-profit items for builders. They aren’t designed to enhance the value of the house, but make you happier with the house you do buy.

If you are looking at your home as an investment, this is a very different matter and will depend on where you buy, what is happening in the property market, and what market you intent to sell to after your upgrades.

I have to make a choice between an updated home in an older neighbourhood or a newer home in a more modern neighbourhood. The home in the older neighbourhood has almost everything I want and is much larger, but which makes the most sense as an investment?

If your goal is to buy a home for it’s resale value and the one you are thinking of buying in the older neighbourhood is at the upper end of values for that neighbourhood, then it may not be the wisest choice. If it is similar or lower in price to the others, then there should be no problem, because pricing should be considered in relation to the local neighbourhood and not compared to homes in other neighbourhoods (for the most part)

Plus, is it a neighbourhood on the decline, or are others going to be fixing things up, too, so that it is a neighbourhood that is improving? It could turn out to be a very good deal as long as you don’t “overpay” because of the recent improvements.

Remember that you also buy a home for it’s value to you as a “home,” and that is something else you should consider. Which neighbourhood would you AND your family feel most comfortable in?

I have a family friend who is a real estate agent. I like her and she is a help but she gives me one price to sell my home for and I think it is too low. So I called another agent who suggested a price more in line with my expectations. Who do I choose?

You might want to consult a couple more Agents on the market value of your home. Most of the estimates should be in the same ballpark.

It could be that your friend is being more honest with you about the value of your home and the other agent gave you a higher number because they already knew you expected it.  This is called “Buying a Listing” and is something a lot of agents do to get you to sign with them.   When they have your property on their portfolio for awhile they will then suggest lower the price.

Why should I use a real estate salesperson?

A real estate salesperson is more than just a “sales person.” They act on your behalf as your agent, providing you with advice and guidance and doing a job – helping you buy or sell a home. While it is true they get paid for what they do, so do other professions that provide advice, guidance, and have a service to sell –such as Certified Public Accountants and Attorneys

The Internet has opened up a world of information that wasn’t previously available to homebuyers and seller. The data on listings available for sale is almost current – but not quite. There are times when you need the most current information about what has sold or is for sale, and the only way to get that is with an agent.

If you’re selling a home, you gain access to the most buyers by being listed in the Multiple Listing Service. Only a licensed real estate agent who is a member of your local MLS can get you listed there – which then gets you automatically listed on some of the major real estate web sites. If you’re buying or selling a home, the MLS is your agent’s best tool.

However, the role of an agent has changed in the last couple of years. In the past, agents were the only way home buyers and sellers could access information. Now agents are evolving. Because today’s home buyers and sellers are so much better informed than in the past, expertise and ability are becoming more important.

The real estate agent is becoming more of a “guide” than a “salesperson” — your personal representative in buying or selling a home.