Connect with us


8 things you need to know before buying furniture online





Photo: James Bombales, design by Lisa Canning Interiors

These days, most people will do anything to avoid crowded shopping centers and aggressive parking lot driving. We’re comfortable ordering many big-ticket items online, including king-size mattresses and brand name refrigerators, but some consumers simply can’t imagine purchasing a sofa without assuming the binge-watching position IRL (cradling a throw pillow, remote in hand, bowl of popcorn within reach).

But there are plenty of deals to be found online. Without the added cost of physical storefronts and salespeople, online furniture retailers are able to keep prices low and offer flexible return policies to put customers at ease.

If you’re wary of splurging on an area rug you’ve never dug your toes into or have made regrettable online purchases in the past, follow these best practices from experts Jaclyn Harper, Owner and Principal Stylist for Harper Designs, and Maureen Welton, VP of Design at Article, an online-only furniture startup with mid-century and scandinavian flair.

Design News Alerts

Get the latest Interior Design tips and trends from Livabl sent to your inbox

1. Consider your lifestyle when choosing fabric

Photo: James Bombales

“Generally, I recommend a leather sofa for dogs and kids because leather is tough, easy to clean and puncture resistant,” says Welton. “But leather isn’t indestructible. The good news for your sofa and dog dilemma is that leather wears in, whereas fabrics wears out.”

If you can’t imagine taking an afternoon nap on a leather sofa (too sticky), but your three-year-old is prone to spilling apple juice (also sticky), opt for a synthetic or poly blend. “I personally find these fabrics to be more forgiving when it comes to stains and wrinkles,” notes Harper.

“If you are set on a fabric sofa, look for something with a high Martindale rating. This means it will stand up to wear and tear and look pristine for many playdates to come,” explains Welton. “High quality fabric sofas won’t pill and wear thin as quickly as lower quality sofas.”

2. Don’t be swayed by trends when it comes to investment pieces

“If you’re looking for investment pieces like a dining table or sofa, choose a neutral palette,” recommends Welton. “It will allow you the freedom to change styles without having to swap out all of your furniture to match.” If you can’t possibly live without green velvet or leopard print in your life, Welton has a solution. “Incorporate the trend of the moment into your design with accent pieces like a lounge chair, a coffee table or pillows that are less of an investment.”

3. Measure twice, order once

Photo: James Bombales, design by Harper Designs

Make friends with your measuring tape because you’re going to need it. “You should always measure your door frame, hallways and elevator — anywhere the piece has to travel to ensure it will fit. The last thing you want is to have your new piece arrive and not be able to fit through the front door,” says Welton, who knows this from experience.

While your dream sofa might look picture-perfect on Instagram, it can be difficult to determine whether or not it will work in your oddly-shaped living room. “Green painter’s tape can be really helpful for visualizing how furniture will fit into a space,” suggests Harper. “You can also cut butcher paper to size and move it around the room to figure out your layout.”

4. Get smart about space planning

“When it comes to spacing, you want to make sure that you measure to allow for at least 18 inches from the edge of your sofa to the edge of your coffee table, and also that you leave at least three feet for entryways into the space,” recommends Harper.

“If you’re shopping online for an area rug, try to leave at least 12 inches from the wall to the edge of your rug on all sides.” Another design mistake you’ll want to avoid is the floating, too-small-for-the-space area rug. “Either the front legs of your furniture should sit on the rug, or all of the legs should sit on the rug,” says Harper.

5. Hone in on keywords in product descriptions

Photo: James Bombales

Unless you’re a brilliant wordsmith, you may need access to a dictionary when reading product descriptions. “Look for keywords that show signs of quality like ‘full-aniline leather’ or ‘Pirelli webbing,’ which is a rubber support suspension used in sofas,” explains Welton. “Martindale rub-test results are also a good indicator of product quality. The rub test simulates the natural wear of the sofa so you’ll want to choose something that can withstand 25,000 rubs or more.”

Other terms to keep an eye out for? “Whenever possible, choose solid wood pieces and look for corner blocking, which is a piece of wood at a sofa’s joints to help improve structural stability,” adds Welton.

6. Scour reviews on multiple platforms

While product reviews on a retailer’s website may be helpful, you should take them with a grain of salt. “You should always do your own research before buying,” advises Welton. For a well-rounded perspective, search brand hashtags on Instagram, watch unsponsored product reviews on YouTube, or read press articles comparing brands and styles.

“When you see an unstaged photo of a piece of furniture, it gives you a more realistic expectation,” says Harper. Without professional lighting and a stylist, that headboard you were about to add to cart may look completely different.

7. Budget for shipping and potential returns

Photo: James Bombales, design by Harper Designs

“Furniture can be a big investment, so you need to factor in the shipping costs and return policy into your decision,” says Welton. “Ask yourself, ‘Is the size right for the space? Do I find it comfortable?’ but most importantly, make sure you keep the return time period top of mind so you don’t decide you no longer love it after the return policy has worn off.”

“This applies to online as well as in-person purchases,” adds Harper. “If you’re customizing a piece of furniture, quite often you’ll either have to pay a large restocking fee, which can be 20 to even 40 percent of the original price, or you’ll be unable to return it and have to sell or donate the item.”

Many online retailers have competitive return policies and low-cost shipping. “At Article, we offer a 30-day satisfaction guarantee so you can try out your new furniture in your home. If you’re not completely happy, we’ll pick it up and refund the product if you decide to return it for less than the original shipping fees,” says Welton.

8. When in doubt, contact the customer care team

“Don’t be shy about getting in touch with the retailer’s customer care team!” insists Welton. “Ask for their opinion about the sofas. Good customer care teams should be able to share thoughtful, detailed feedback on the sofa you have in mind.” As a designer, Harper says she purchases about half of the furniture pieces for her clients online. “I find you develop a relationship with the supplier over time, and then you feel more comfortable buying online.”


Source link

قالب وردپرس


What Is A Housing Bubble? And Are We In One?





What is a housing bubble? You’ve undoubtedly heard the term, but what does it actually mean, and is Canada experiencing one? Whether you already own a home, are considering buying one in the near future, or you’re waiting for the right time to sell, here we answer what is a housing bubble, what causes it, and how it may affect you.

What is a Housing Bubble?

A housing bubble happens when the price of homes rises quickly, at an unsustainable rate. Typically, a price-growth rate that’s in the high single-digits is considered to be healthy and sustainable. Under healthy conditions, homeowners continue to earn equity over time, sellers can make a profit on resale, and buyers can still afford to get into the market. This type of price growth can usually be explained by economic factors, such as an employment boom and favourable interest rates.

On the other hand, a housing bubble can happen as a result of non-organic growth. For example, if speculators were flooding the market, buying up homes to take advantage of rapid price growth, with the intention of selling in the near term for a hefty profit. When prices are deemed to have hit a high point, speculators list their properties for sale. This massive influx of listings, coupled with stagnating demand, causes prices to plummet and results in a “housing market crash.”

A housing bubble is a temporary event and prices eventually return to normal levels, when demand rises again and home-buying activity resumes.

What Happens When a Housing Bubble Bursts?

During a housing bubble, homes become overvalued. When the bubble bursts, prices fall. Homeowners who have no intention of selling are unlikely to feel the direct impacts of the bursting bubble. However, these market conditions often indirectly impact other aspects of the economy, so to call homeowners who aren’t selling “free and clear” would be misleading. The ripple effects of a bursting housing bubble would likely touch most of us, in one way or another.

Homebuyers who purchased a home during a housing bubble likely paid considerably more than it is worth. Properties bought by end-users as a residence, with no intention of being sold in the short-term, will eventually rebound closer to “normal” values and at some point, return to positive growth.

A housing bubble poses the biggest risk to home sellers. Those who purchased in the bubble, but now find themselves forced to sell their home, will come up short on resale. They bought the home at a price that exceeds what they can recoup, putting them in the red with no asset to show for it.

For example, someone purchased at peak market prices, but due to circumstances such as a job loss or the inability to carry the costs for any reason, now has no choice but to sell in a down market. The seller still owes money to their mortgage lender on a home that they no longer own.

Are We in a Housing Bubble?

The Canadian housing market took a surprising upward turn during the COVID-19 pandemic, after coming to a grinding halt in mid-March. The slow-down was short-lived, and what followed through the remainder of 2020 was a a spike in demand for homes met by a shortage of supply. With 2021 well underway, there appears to be no end in sight.

There are a number of factors that indicate we’re not experiencing a bubble caused my market speculators, contrary to some media reports.

A recent online survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents in Western Canada, Ontario and Atlantic Canada found that speculators are not a factor in the Canadian real estate market at this time. In fact, more than 96% of RE/MAX brokers and agents supported this finding, confirming that the majority of homebuyers are end-users. Speculators tend to wait out hot markets, buying when prices are down and selling when they’re up again. The short-term investment opportunities they’re generally looking for are hard to find under current market conditions. Bully offers and bidding wars are commonplace, and we continue to see demand outpacing supply with the release of the monthly housing market data. These factors are generally inhospitable to speculators and investors.

For a housing bubble to burst, there needs to be a steep incline in inventory and new listings, and a decline in demand – neither of which is likely to happen any time soon.

Housing Crash 2021? It’s Highly Unlikely.

The Canadian housing market is still feeling the impacts of the pent-up demand from 2017, when the government introduced the foreign buyer tax and the mortgage stress test as a means to cool the overheating market. These policies prompted many homebuyers to move to the sidelines, opting to wait and save, with plans to re-engage in the housing market in a few years.

Now fast-forward a few years to 2020. COVID-19 had a similar impact on the market, whereby many homebuyers delayed their purchase plans due to pandemic-related uncertainties. That pre-existing pent-up demand for homes continued to swell. With Canadians subject to stay-at-home orders with nowhere to go and spend their hard-earned money, they collectively saved historically high sums, which was injected back into the housing market once consumer confidence returned. The spending came in the form of record-high home sales and for those who were unwilling to face the competitive resale market conditions, renovations to existing dwellings. In fact, Canadian real estate was said to be the driving force behind the Canadian economy in 2020.

Savings, low interest rates and low inventory continue to put pressure on the housing market.

Now, consider the housing needs of the 1.2 million people who are expected to immigrate to Canada through 2023, per the government’s 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan.

Given all this, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll experience the influx of real estate listings needed for a housing market crash – and if we did see those listings suddenly come on stream, there should be plenty of buyers to absorb them.

Homebuyers and Sellers, Do Your Due Diligence

Challenging market conditions and a still-present global pandemic have added some personal risk on the part of homebuyers and sellers. It’s important to remember that conditions vary across Canada, and can be dramatically different between provinces, cities, and even from one neighbourhood to the next. Now more than ever, it’s important to work with a trusted, experienced professional Realtor who can guide you though the buying and selling process.

Continue Reading


CIBC poll shows majority of homeowners have no plans to sell amid a tight housing market and low rate environment





TORONTO, April 21, 2021 /CNW/ – As supply remains tight in key regions of the Canadian housing market, a recent CIBC survey finds that most homeowners say the pandemic has not changed their intentions of staying put, with many choosing to use their accumulated savings to renovate their current property rather than list it.

With only six per cent of homeowners polled saying they planned to sell pre-pandemic, the majority (77 per cent) say the pandemic has not impacted their housing plans. Most (63 per cent) agree that low interest rates haven’t motivated them to sell and upgrade to a bigger home either.

Many homeowners (34 per cent) have renovated their homes over the past year, while a similar number (31 per cent) say they plan to make upgrades in the next twelve months. Of those who have renovated, most (71 per cent) funded this with savings.

“As a potential homebuyer, these results suggest that supply won’t be improving in the near term, which makes it essential to understand what you can comfortably afford within your budget, and work with an advisor before you start looking at homes to have appropriate financing options in place,” says Carissa Lucreziano, Vice-President, CIBC Financial and Investment Advice.

“It’s a positive sign that many homeowners are using cash versus debt to fund renovations – we’re seeing prudent financial behaviour from this group. But whether you’re looking to sell or buy a home, or invest in renovations, these are big decisions that would benefit from the advice of a financial expert.”

Renters continue to be outpriced
For renters, the story has also been more of the same. Half (47 per cent) say they are still unable to own a home due to housing prices, with 34 per cent citing an inability to save for a down payment as the major hurdle. Many (66 per cent) say low interest rates due to COVID-19 have not motivated them to look at purchasing a home with the majority (91 per cent) saying the pandemic has not impacted their ability to pay rent.

Of those who co-habit with family or others, 46 per cent have no immediate plans of moving out, but close to a third (32 per cent) are saving for a down payment.

A lack of knowledge when it comes to purchasing a home may be contributing to the hesitancy of some potential homebuyers:  Four-in-ten (41 per cent) of all the respondents admit they need help understanding all of the costs associated with home purchasing, and a similar number (37 per cent) need guidance on  obtaining a mortgage in the current environment. A quarter of Canadians (27 per cent) say the fear of a recession/economic uncertainty is impacting their decision to buy or sell a home and 31 per cent claim they will only be able to afford a home with an inheritance or gift from their family.

“It appears for those looking to get into the housing market, financing and a lack of understanding remains an issue. With the help of an advisor, you can get an assessment of your financial capacity for a clear picture of what you can afford as a new homebuyer to achieve the ambition of homeownership,” added Ms. Lucreziano.

Continue Reading


The Rule Of 3 When Buying A Home (VIDEO)





When it comes to buying a home, there are many factors to consider and the decision is likely not going to be an easy one.

In this episode of All Things Money (ATM), host Nicole Victoria provides her advice for being successful with regards to purchasing a property.

One major component the Money Coach highlights is the importance of separating what is nice to have against what is a must-have.

In order to help navigate the tradeoffs, Victoria utilizes a rule-of-three system, using the factors of price, size and style, and location where “what the rule says is that you get to be sticky on two out of those three things.”

For more on this and other money-related tips and advice, check out the full ATM series here.

Continue Reading