Let’s get real

Real es­tate agent Tanya Colbo wants to help keep folks cau­tiously ex­cited about buy­ing their first home.

The Coast - Homes Halifax - - Expert Advice - BY AL­LI­SON SAUN­DERS

What’s your best piece of ad­vice for peo­ple look­ing to buy their first home?

The big­gest piece of ad­vice would be to talk to an agent. You can even talk to sev­eral and just see which one you feel you con­nect with best. It’s re­ally great to start there so that they can guide you through the en­tire process. And they can just keep you cau­tiously ex­cited, and keep you grounded as well. The most im­por­tant thing about an agent is that it’s re­ally im­por­tant to have some­one in your cor­ner.

How do you help clients bal­ance their head and heart through­out the process of search­ing for, bud­get­ing for and buy­ing a house?

Re­ally it comes down to guid­ing peo­ple to houses that fit in their bud­get and send­ing them list­ings that keep them at a rea­son­able level. That said, a house that’s over their bud­get could eas­ily come down in price or if it’s been on the mar­ket for a long time peo­ple might be more will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate.

It’s very im­por­tant to re­ally keep peo­ple grounded and re­mem­ber that, although I want to find you your dream home I don’t want in a year to hear that it’s re­ally push­ing your fi­nan­cial lim­its. I want to know in a year that you’re liv­ing in a house, it’s ex­actly what you wanted, you can af­ford it and you feel good in it.

Are you see­ing a lot of peo­ple who are buy­ing houses to flip them?

I’m notic­ing a lot more of my first-time home-buy­ers are look­ing for an in­come prop­erty, which I think is a great idea. If you can find a house you love that has an apart­ment that will pay for some or even maybe all of your mort­gage it’s great, and then if you de­cide to move on a lot of peo­ple will keep that in­vest­ment prop­erty, and then you have eq­uity.

I think also there’s a trend of peo­ple try­ing to snatch up older homes that have been in the same fam­ily for 50 or 75 years that need quite a bit of up­dat­ing, but you can get in a fab­u­lous neigh­bour­hood for 200 or even un­der.

And if you have the time and abil­ity to put in the work, which some peo­ple find such an en­joy­able process, it can be a re­ally great ex­pe­ri­ence. And then you can look for­ward in years to come, sell­ing it and mak­ing a nice profit.

Is there a par­tic­u­lar neigh­bour­hood you’re re­ally into right now?

I’m all about the north end. I live in the north end, I work in the north end, I love the his­tory, I love the sense of com­mu­nity. I love how much peo­ple band to­gether for any cause they feel is rel­e­vant to the neigh­bour­hood and I love just how eclec­tic it is. It’s just amaz­ing. Three-quar­ters of my buy­ers right now want to live in the north end.

Katie Mor­ri­son of Granville Street’s The Flower Shop didn’t al­ways have a knack for grow­ing things. “It took me a long time to fig­ure out how to take care of plants. I didn’t grow up in a house with plants. My mom just had this same fern in the cor­ner for like, 20 years,” she re­mem­bers with a laugh. While to­day her thumbs are thor­oughly green—so much so that she’ll be equip­ping her newly pur­chased home with spe­cial win­dow shelves for all her plants— Mor­ri­son knows the pain of won­der­ing if you’ve over-wa­tered. Get a jump­start on grow­ing your own in­door oa­sis with her tips.

Ba­sic Botan­i­cals

“Peo­ple should start small and work their way up. It’s a lot of trial and er­ror with plants,” Mor­ri­son ad­vises. This lets you get a feel for what aes­thetic you like (highly tex­tured cacti? Clean­lined aloe?) with min­i­mal in­vest­ment. Bonus: If you do some­how man­age to kill a cac­tus and it was only $10, it’s not as much of a loss.

Low-main­te­nance leaves

Mor­ri­son says it’s im­por­tant that plant new­bies start with less de­mand­ing, trop­i­cal va­ri­eties un­til you learn to read the signs of things like soil dry­ness. In par­tic­u­lar, she sug­gests spi­der plants (“they’re al­most un­kil­l­lable”), suc­cu­lents and pothos plants (AKA devil’s ivy). “They kind of get droopy when they need wa­ter so it’s an easy way to re­mem­ber, es­pe­cially for first­time plant peo­ple.”

Fash­ion­able fo­liage

While any type of plant adds tex­ture to a space, there are a few trends in the plant world lately cap­tur­ing Mor­ri­son’s heart. Ter­rar­i­ums, which she calls “very In­sta­gram­able” are an easy plant trend, as are air plants: “They re­quire no soil, just some wa­ter and light.”

Mor­ri­son adds she’s also big on macrame plant hang­ers, which she plans on scat­ter­ing around her new home. “Plants clean the air. They add a soft­ness,” she adds, mak­ing a case that no room is done with­out a dash of green.

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