Let’s get real
Real estate agent Tanya Colbo wants to help keep folks cautiously excited about buying their first home.
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.
“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.
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.”
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.