5 things to do before selling your home

If you are planning to sell your house there are several things you should do before calling a real estate agent that will help you to get the most money out of your home and insure the quickest sale possible.

1. Remove Personal Items

Personal items such as family photos, knickknacks, souvenirs from family vacations, excessive houseplants, piles of books, pet toys and your collection of two-thousand-and-one salt and pepper shakers may make your home personal to you but your goal is to make your house inviting for another family to move in. By removing your most personal items, it will be easier for your prospective buyer to picture themselves living in your home.

Pack these things away neatly in boxes that can be stored in a closet, basement or attic. Try not to leave the boxes out where they will disrupt the look of your home.

2. Keep Furniture to a Minimum

You want the rooms of your home to appear as large as possible. You may need to rearrange some of your furniture or even remove a few pieces to achieve this. Ask a friend or neighbor if they could possibly store Grandma’s rocking chair, or Dad’s old writing desk, until after you’ve made the sale. Having furniture crammed into every corner not only makes your rooms appear smaller but also makes it difficult for a prospective buyer to picture their own furnishings in the space available.

If you don’t have anyone able to take these extras off your hands, look into renting a spot at a local storage space.

3. Clean Up

No matter what time of year it is when you decide to sell your home you will need to do a thorough spring cleaning. Wash the windows. Remove the dust bunnies from beneath the beds. Clear the cobwebs from the ceilings. Wipe down the baseboards. Straighten out the closets and cupboards. Keep up with your laundry and if you don’t have one, invest in a hamper for dirty clothes. When prospective buyers and real estate agents come in they look at everything and they will leave no cushion unturned.

4. Freshen Up

Look around your home for areas of wear and tear. If your hand railings are chipped, touch them up. If a piece of molding is loose, tighten it. Don’t go crazy redecorating but if your walls are dingy, a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint is a fairly inexpensive way to brighten any room. Wash the wallpaper and glue down any loose edges. Polish the cabinets and while you’re there make sure all of their knobs and hinges are tightly in place.

You want your home to look well cared for and as perfect as possible. Chipped paint and fraying wallpaper will make a bad first impression on a prospective buyer and remember you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

5. Get Good Curb Appeal

Keeping in mind the fact that you want to make a good first impression, you also need to remember that the first thing your prospective buyer is going to see is your front yard. There is no need to do any new landscaping but make sure that the landscaping you already have is neatly trimmed and weed free. Depending on the time of year, rake up any leaves, cut the grass, deadhead the flowers, remove children’s toys and if you have pets, be sure to keep after them as well.

Your front porch needs to be kept tidy as well. No muddy sneakers or left out snow shovels should be in sight. If you haven’t done it in awhile, give a good sweep and hose it down.

By taking care of these things before calling a real estate agent and then keeping up with them throughout the sale of your home, your chances of getting top dollar and a quicker sale are almost guaranteed. Good luck!


5 ways to lower your legal costs

1. Get a consultation

A good legal consultation is essential and well worth the cost. This 30 -60 minute block of time is going to help you decide the course of your entire legal situation. This is your chance to ask me questions, get information, and evaluate your case. The purpose of this consultation is to provide you with all the necessary information so you can make an informed and intelligent decision.

2. Organize yourself

Prepare a summary of the event. Begin the summary with the first instance that an event occured, indicate the date, time, place, who was present, what happened, who said what and what documents or other evidence is available. Label the documents numerically to coincide with the summary. Separate the documents, photos, etc. into folders. Also, the more information that you condense, the better our chances of success. Your intelligent summary will help save you legal fees.

3. Don’t give tons of unnecessary information

Very often you may want to give reams of paper or stacks of disks that are irrelevant and unrequested. This will result in me having to spend many hours reviewing information that isn’t necessary. The same goes for repetitive information given by email or phone.

4. Do for yourself when you can

I always prefer that my clients keep in touch with potential witnesses rather than relying on myself and my staff to have to continually keep in touch with them. Also, try to complete paperwork on your own first, rather than spending billable hours reading it for the first time while I sit and watch you. Make a “working copy” for yourself, and a “clean copy” that you can use in instances when we need to meet in person.

5. Utilize email efficiently

Rather than always meeting in person or talking on the phone, communicate via email. Email enables me the ability to answer you when I have the opportunity.

Following these few guidelines can significantly reduce the amount of money spent in legal fees!


5 steps to planning your business

There are thousands of tasks that every small business owner must consider and do in order to set up a new business. However, whether you are a new small business owner or an experienced entrepreneur, here are five things to remember when setting up a small business.

1. Develop a Business Plan

You’ve probably heard it a million times, but it’s worth repeating that often. Business owners who fail to plan are planning to fail. You must take the time to develop and write a business plan. It doesn’t have to be a novel-length tome, but at least something you can use to refer to occasionally to remember your goals and mission.

If you plan to acquire financing, a well-written business plan is essential to get investors or loans from local banks. Take the time to write one, and your business will not regret it.

2. Create a Great Business Name

When starting a new business, you need a good business name. A business name is not only how your business will operate legally, but it is also a marketing tool. Create a name that will:

Identify what your business does

Distinguishes you from other businesses

Be memorable

Be easy to pronounce

You could use your own name like “Smith Consulting” or be creative with your business concept like “Finders Keepers” for an antique collectible shop. Regardless, keeping your name simple is most important.

3. Consider Your Business Structure

What business formation will your small business take? When you start a new business, this is an important question. Many small business owners simply operate as sole proprietorships. Others may join forces and form a partnership, but you must consider the best structure that works for your business and protects you as well.

Other than sole or partner proprietorship, you might consider an LLC, or even a corporation. An LLC is a business form that creates a legal corporation-like structure with tax advantages of a partnership or sole proprietorship. A corporation sets up liability protection for the owners.

4. Recruit Your Support Team

Unless you plan to operate a large corporation with all support in-house, you will likely need to recruit an outside support team. You must find reliable and professional people like a lawyer, such as Geoff S. Rabideau, CPA, and insurance agent who can help you with these types of legal and financial business issues.

5. Get Tax ID, Licenses, and Registrations

Before you begin business operations and starting a new business, you should also consider any official requirements you need from government agencies. A federal HST number will be essential for keeping your income straight with the CRA, as well as employee taxes. Local business licenses will keep you in legal compliance with your city, and registering your business with the provincial business registry prevents any confusion with a business of the same name.

When you think of how to set up a small business, you must consider the above factors. Although this list is important, it is not complete. Keep in mind that there are plenty of other things to consider, but breaking your list down into easy-to-manage portions will help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and allow you to stay on track.


5 things to consider when expanding your business

When it comes to building a company from scratch, most entrepreneurs create a list of goals they hope to accomplish within a certain time frame. One of the biggest and frequent goals is to achieve consistent growth.

Here are five critical points you should consider when expanding your business:

1. Determine your value proposition

When deciding where to expand, you need to determine whether your services are unique and valuable within prospective markets.

2. Learn to replicate the business model

Attempting to take a formula and transfer it to a new city can be a daunting, but necessary, task to ensuring a successful acquisition. It’s essential for an established business model to be secured early on and a new destination selected where the business has the ability to flourish.

3. Find a cultural fit

When searching for a business to acquire, examine closely the team, even more so than the company’s client base. Finding people who could embrace and foster your company culture is necessary for the acquisition to succeed. To that end, it’s important to focus on the experience of team members and ensure their skills are compatible with the company’s stated mission and core values. Acquisitions tend to fail more often because of the incompatibility of both organizations’ cultures.

4. Decide whether to build or buy.

When considering an acquisition, both parties involved may wonder if it’s better to grow organically or completely merge with another firm. It’s important to weigh the options.

5. Believe it will happen

Growing a company in a new market can be a terrifying, yet exciting, process with many lucrative benefits. When going through the acquisition process, it’s important to believe it will work. Most successful entrepreneurs realize that when you grow anxious over the minor details, you can lose sight of why you’re making the deal in the first place. It’s best to follow your gut and have faith.