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Materials Matter: Kitchen Countertops

When it comes to your home, the kitchen makes the biggest statement, and is often the most memorable room in the house. Countertops make up a huge part of that statement, being both functional and aesthetic, useful and visible.

Choosing the right material to make your countertop an asset rather than a pain is essential to any kitchen design. There are five materials that we use most commonly, each with their own pros and cons: quartz, granite, marble, and concrete. Which one is right for you? It depends on a lot of factors.

Quartz

Pros: This manufactured material can be created in any colour to match any decor. Quartz has the same durability as concrete and granite, but is quite a bit more forgiving, so it won’t chip or crack as easily. It doesn’t have the same hardness in the feel that some people find unpleasant.

Like other hard surface countertop materials, quartz is non-porous so it resists staining much better than granite, marble and concrete. It stands up to juice, oil, wine, tomato, coffee and other sources of stains in the kitchen. For cleanliness, a non-porous surface means that it will not harbour bacteria or viruses.

Cons:  Quartz doesn’t stand up to heat as well as granite, and the seams of manufactured stone can be less attractive to some buyers. The biggest disadvantage is the price, however the durability means it won’t have to be replaced for a very long time, making it an economical advantage in the long run.

Granite countertop

Granite

Pros: There is a rich beauty to granite countertops that no other material can match. Seamless and heat resistant, granite countertops are functional and will take any high-end kitchen to the next level.

Cons: Since granite is a natural stone, buyers are limited to the colours and styles found in nature – including imperfections and patterns. Also, granite is porous and requires sealing. The most concerning problems can occur when the countertops are not sealed correctly or the sealant wears off without the counters being resealed. This means that unsealed or poorly sealed counters can absorb wine, juice or oil, producing a stain that might be impossible to remove. A poorly-sealed countertop can also harbour bacteria in its pores.

Marble

Pros:  Marble countertops offer spectacular beauty. This igneous stone comes in a wonderful display of colour and shade. No two slabs are alike, so you’ll be assured of having a unique countertop for your home. Marble countertops can withstand heat, and stand up well to pots and pans.

Cons: Marble is porous, and requires sealing every few years to avoid liquids being absorbed causing stains that are virtually impossible to get out. It is also the least durable material on the list, being prone to chips from knives or even coffee mugs. Due to its delicate nature, marble is often saved for the bathroom where there is less chance of overuse.

ConcreteConcrete Main

Pros: Concrete countertops can be absolutely beautiful, with pigments allowing buyers to create nearly any desired shade. With staining, you can give your countertops the look of granite or other natural stone. Concrete is extremely durable, perfect for the wear and tear of a busy kitchen or active family. It won’t scratch and is very heat resistant.

Cons: Concrete prices are on the higher end, and they require sealing upon installation and resealing every 1-3 years. When not sealed correctly, concrete is susceptible to staining, a weakness it shares with granite and marble.

 

Pierre

Becoming Martell Custom Homes

We have taken everything we have learned building hundreds of quality homes all over New Brunswick, and now Martell Home Builders have now levelled up to become Martell Custom Homes – the final word in luxury. We made our mark as the most reliable, trustworthy, and accountable home builders in New Brunswick for semidetached and mid-sized homes, and are now focusing our talent on large-scale, luxury, custom builds.

What makes Martell Custom Homes different? We combine Atlantic Canadian honesty, customer service, and dependability with urban-level business savvy. We know what it takes to build your home to the highest standards, and we have the experience, drive, and desire to exceed your expectations. Your home is your statement to the world, and we create your sanctuary, your venue for entertaining, your niche for creating and storing memories that will last a lifetime.

Your style, your home, your place in the world.

Your style, your home, your place in the world.

As a testament to this experience, drive, and desire, Martell Custom Homes offers the GLASS PROMISE. We know that a promise made is as delicate and fragile as glass, and we strive to be transparent, crystal clear. Those in glass houses are on display, and we welcome the scrutiny. We do not cut corners, we do not break our word, and we are transparent about every aspect of your build.

Our clients become family as we build their place in this world.

 

Neighbourhood Profile: Brookside West, Fredericton

Brookside West

Located on the north side of Fredericton off Brookside Drive is Brookside West, a beautiful, fast growing, family neighborhood. This prime development is within close proximity to all local amenities (Two Nations Crossing, Brookside Mall, Willie O’Ree Arena, West Hills Golf), schools and minutes from downtown Fredericton.

Features:

•             Wooded lots available
•             Quiet Atmosphere
•             Restrictive covenants to protect your investment
•             Court lots available
•             Near the new West Hills Golf Course

Schools:

•             Kindergarten to Grade 5: Nashwaaksis Memorial School
•             Grade 6 to 8: Nashwaaksis Middle School
•             Grade 9 to 12: Leo Hayes High School

Lot Prices:

Single Family Lots start at $67,000.00

To book a Discovery Session and start planning your new home in Brookside West, call Jason today at 506-292-2169 or email jhaines@themartellexperience.com.

Neighborhood Profile: Notre-Dame Estates, Dieppe, NB

Notre Dame Estates map

Nestled in the heart of the city of Dieppe, you’ll find Notre-Dame Estates. This prestigious development is in a prime location with close proximity to local amenities, schools, Rotary St-Anselme Park, Arthur J. LeBlanc Centre (Arena) and the Dieppe Aquatic and Sports Centre. Notre-Dame Estates is an outstanding family community to call home.

Features:
• Wooded lots available
• Restrictive covenants to protect your investment
• Prime court lots available
• Fox Creek Golf Course nearby
• 3 acres of natural park

Schools:
Kindergarten to Grade 5: Lou MacNarin
Grades 6 to Grade 8: Lewisville Middle School
Grades 8 through 12: Moncton High School

Écoles:
M – 5e année : École Anna-Malenfant
6e – 8e année : École Carrefour de l’Acadie
9e – 12e année : École Mathieu Martin

Lot Prices:
Single Family Lots ranging between $59,900 and $84,900

Notre Dame Map#2

To book a Discovery Session and start planning your new home in Notre-Dame Estates, call Pierre today at (506) 871-5237 or email at pierre@themartellexperience.com.

Neighborhood Feature: Royal Oaks, Moncton NB

Located on Elmwood Drive in Moncton, NB

Currently building

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Image source: 123turnthekey.com

Nestled amongst a magnificent golf course, Royal Oaks is a wonderful place to call home. It carries many hallmark attributes, such as superb water features, walking trails and striking lots. This development is situated just minutes away from école l’Odyssée, the new Moncton High School and many Elmwood Drive amenities.

 

Schools:

Kindergarten to Grade 4: Forest Glen Elementary

Grades 5 to 8: Sunday Brae Middle School

Grades 9 to 12: Moncton High School

 

Écoles:

Primaire – École le Sommet OU École Champlain

Secondaire – École l’Odyssée

 

Features include

  • Fine golf community living
  • Water features
  • Walking trails
  • Close proximity to amenities
  • Underground wiring
  • And more!

 

 

Lot Prices

Semi-Detached Lots Ranging between $56 900 and $85 900

Single Family Lots Range between $48 900 and $94 900

 

If interested, please contact Pierre at (506) 871-5237 or pierre@themartellexperience.com to start your own Discovery Session today!

Neighbourhood Profile: Centennial Gardens (Fredericton)

Looking for that perfect lot in the highly sought after village of New Maryland can be difficult…


Centennial Gardens

Welcome to Phase 1 of Centennial Gardens – These fully serviced large lots are in the heart of the village adjacent to New Maryland Elementary School, Athletic Park which includes: a new soccer field, tennis courts, baseball diamonds and playground.  In addition, there is a direct walkway from this development to the School and Athletic Park.

Centennial Gardens 2

This is the perfect place for those looking to be in a family neighbourhood but close to all the major city services of Fredericton.  These amazing lots are within ten minute drive to: Regent Mall, Hospital, University, Costco, Knowledge Park, and the Grant-Harvey Centre.

 

Lot Prices starting at: $65,000.00

Centennial Gardens 1

To book a Discovery Session and start planning your new home in Centennial Gardens, call Jason today at

506-292-2169 or by email jhaines@themartellexperience.com.

 

Neighborhood Profile: Gretna Green, Miramichi NB

Location: Just Off King George Highway, Miramichi, NB

Welcome to Gretna Green Subdivision. This executive neighbourhood boasts underground power, fully serviced lots, curbs,  and excellent location.

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Schools:

Elementary: Gretna Green Elementary

 Middle: Harkins Middle School

High School: Miramichi Valley High School

 Amenities: shopping, schools, banking, medical centres

 Lot Prices:  starting at only $33,500.00

To book a Discovery Session and start planning your new home in Gretna Green, call Andrew today at 506-251-1681or by email adunn@themartellexperience.com.

Selling Your House Under 5+ Feet Of Snow? sNOw Problem!

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Thanks to Luke Betts of Moncton for this fantastic photo of his house today!

Two weeks ago we shared our thoughts on why your home isn’t selling (read more here).  At the end of that post, I promised to follow up with some actionable steps that you can take to create more value and get your home sold.  While my original focus was on general steps to increase value, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the 5+ feet of snow staring at me through my front window (and my Facebook feed).  So, if you’re home is currently for sale, here is what you need to know….

1.  SHOW ME A SIGN

I’m willing to bet that your lawn sign is currently buried… First thing being first, get outside and see whether the sign can be dug out and made visible from the street.  If so, great!  Whether you dig it out or your Realtor does, well that’s up to you BUT at the very least make sure your Realtor knows that the sign is buried and whether it can be dug out.  If your sign has no chance of being dug out because of where the snow is being thrown, then you need to contact your Realtor right away and get a new sign.  I don’t generally recommend jamming a new sign into the top of a snowbank for safety reasons but, find a high visibility location to place it like ON the house/porch, etc.

2. SALT & SHOVEL 

Before you call me captain obvious, hear me out.  I don’t mean basic snow removal.  If your home is for sale, you have to take your snow removal to the next level.  If potential buyers have to walk sideways between their car and the banks to get up your driveway, they are automatically feeling discomfort and are associating that feeling with your home.  It is essential that you take the time to widen paths and walkways and, if possible, salt them down until they’re bare.  If buyers can plant their feet firmly on the ground, they will automatically feel more confident with the property.  If buyers are waddling, arms outstretched, on ice… well, they’re not looking at your house.  They’re actually just trying not to fall.

photo 1 (1)

If buyers are trekking through this, they will be feeling emotional in all of the wrong ways.

 

3. FEELING HOT, HOT, HOT!

The temperature inside the home is such an important component of presenting the highest value for the property.  If buyers are cold inside your home, they are uncomfortable and, again, they associate that feeling with the home.  Further, consciously or subconsciously, they’re likely running through a list of all of the reasons that the home could be cold: Poor insulation? Defective/old heat system? Bad windows? And the list goes on… don’t put your home (or yourself) through the added scrutiny and turn the heat up a few hours prior to showing.  Remember, you may choose to wear slippers and sweaters inside a la Fred Rogers, but your buyers may not.

4. WINDOWS (and everything) CLEANER THAN CLEAN

Have you ever noticed just how bright the world is when it’s covered it snow?  The extra brightness reflected in the snow makes every spec of dust, dirt and grime show much more obviously that normal.  As such, Winter is the perfect time to get the cleaners in or throw in extra elbow grease and get your windows, floors and flat surfaces absolutely spotless.

5. CLEAR DECKS, PATIOS AND PORCHES COMPLETELY

This one isn’t so obvious.  A huge part of the living space that your home offers is the outdoor living space.  But if buyers can see it, you can’t sell it!  So, get out on your porch, deck and/or patio and shovel it completely so that potential buyers can visualize what the home will be like beyond winter.  And let’s face it, just about every New Brunswicker is currently longing for summer.  Show them that your home is going to give them the summer living spaces that they’re currently dreaming about!

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6. SPEAKING OF SUMMER… UPDATE YOUR PHOTOS! 

If the online leading photo of your home shows a lush green lawn, replace it with a photo that shows the home in the snow.  WHY?  Because a photo of your home with a green lawn will stand out like a sore thumb and buyers will assume that the home has been sitting on the market forever… then they will ask why and likely assume the worst! Don’t risk it… the photo that you’re using to market your home should be a reflection of how it looks today… not 6 months ago.

What other winter selling challenges can you add to this list?

Heat Pump Probs?

photo (17)Ahh, the beautiful, snowy East Coast.  Personally, I LOVE snow but I know that it’s got many other New Brunswickers feeling down. With so much snow on the ground (and more on the way tonight), it’s not surprise that we’ve gotten a few calls from past clients whose heat pumps are not operating.  A very common problem with an abundance of snow (and nowhere to put it) is snow in your heat pump condenser.

We spoke to our buddies at ConAir Ventilation here in Greater Moncton are here are the steps that they advise you to take prior to making a service call:

STEP 1- remove snow on and around the condenser. We’re talking REALLY clean it out here… (The condenser is the unit outside the house).
STEP 2- clean as much inside the condenser as possible.
STEP 3- pour hot water in the condenser to remove excess snow inside.
STEP 4- turn heat pump breaker for about 15 minutes then turn it back on.
If this process does not work, then it’s time to make a service call.
Good luck & stay warm!

 

 

 

The Only Reason Your Home Isn’t Selling.

I’ve been toying with writing this post since 2012… that was the year that it became much more challenging to sell your home in Greater Moncton.  And, if your house isn’t selling, this post is directed at you.  So before you read on, I want you think about how badly you want to sell your house.  Also, please remind yourself that my only intention in writing this post is to help you sell your house.  Period. I’m sure you have great taste & style! :)

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I’m no stranger to what it takes to sell a home.  I’ve been marketing and selling homes for 11 years (as a former Realtor and now a builder).   I even completed a home staging designation and have overseen complete transformations of my client’s homes to ensure that they get the most money when they sell. So here’s the kicker… I’m not a Realtor any longer but I still hear my clients’ disappointment when they can’t start their new home project because they can’t sell their current home!

Why Isn’t Your House Selling?  It’s simple really…. you haven’t created enough VALUE for the buyers. Period.   

Marketing 101:  Value = Benefits/Cost

How do you create value?  Follow the simple equation above and you will see that once benefits outweigh cost, in the mind of buyers, you’ve achieved value and your home will sell.  The problem that you’re having is that the benefits to the potential buyer of your home have not yet outweighed the cost.  To sell your home, you need to start thinking like a marketer and of your home as a PRODUCT! Buyers don’t have the sentimental attachment that you do, so it’s best to save the nostalgia for the photo albums and take it out of the home.

To shift the value equation and sell your home, you have two options:

  1. Increase the benefits
  2. Decrease the cost

In this post, I will to consider each way that you may not be maximizing your home’s value.

Increase Your Home’s Benefits

You really need to be in tune with what buyers are looking for on the market to understand what your home may be lacking.  Particularly in a buyer’s market, there is so much choice out there that you cannot afford to have a home that is just average.  In our market, your home will often be competing with brand new construction homes so you need to recognize your best assets and let them shine.

1. What is special about your home already? Scream it from the rooftops. 

Does your neighbourhood have mature trees? Do you have an oversized lot? Are you close to an amazing school? Can you walk downtown?  What does your home have that it’s competitors lack? Buyers need to be told what makes it special. (Remember, the home is a product).

2. What is not so special about your home? Fix it.

Flooring and paint make over this kitchen.

 

Remember, this post is for people who REALLY want to sell their homes.  This is the single hardest hurdle to overcome with home sellers.  I’ve had to convince clients to stain their floors, paint their wood cabinets, change their siding… you name it, my clients have done it.  And their houses sold.

There are a few reasons that I see people list homes that are not “market-ready”.

1. Many sellers will not change things about the home because they personally like the house as it is.  This is a dangerous way to approach your home sale in a buyers market.  Have a look at the homes that are actually selling in your price point.  If those homes all have dark modern hardwood and your home boasts a golden oak, it’s time to consider the idea that your flooring is not appealing to buyers and needs to be changed if you want to sell (see image above).

2. Another argument against doing the work up-front: “Why would I change the house? I don’t know what the buyers will want.”  The reality is that the majority of buyers have already looked at photos of your home.  If you haven’t given them a reason to come see it in person, they simply won’t.  You can’t afford to look dated/average in a buyers market.

Decrease Your Home’s Cost 

Market value does not lie.  Buyers are only willing to pay the price that they are willing to pay and overpricing your home can be dangerous to the selling process.  Frankly, it’s great if you think that your home is worth $500,000.00 but that doesn’t change anything if buyers value your home at $350,000.00.  Overpricing a listing simply means that the buyers who would have considered the home are not even visiting because they perceive the home price out of their budget.

The price of your home should only be set using a Comparative Market Analysis- a set of stats showing what other comparable homes are selling for.  If you’ve done a CMA and your home still isn’t selling, you may be experiencing a market shift and should consult your Realtor regarding whether a reduction in price would be helpful.

Over the next while, I’ll follow up with some specific actionable steps you can take to work on increasing the benefits of your home.  Have you had success updating your home to sell it?  What worked for you? I’d love to hear.

-Natalie

 

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