I need to replace my water heater. Do you think I should buy or rent? – IN HOT WATER
DEAR HOT WATER: Our region has notoriously hard water, which is why about 95 percent of the hot water heaters I see are rentals. The options available for renting will depend on your area. I went through this over the summer when installing a water heater in an historic house I’m restoring. I compared the services of two local providers, Reliance Home Comfort (RelianceHomeComfort.com) and Kitchener Utilities (KitchenerUtilities.ca) and found there to be considerable differences. Before choosing, I suggest you do some investigation to find your best fit.
Since I’m planning to sell my restored home in the coming months, I wanted to avoid saddling new owners with a long-term contract. Reliance quoted me a slightly higher rental rate (about $7/month more for the unit I selected) but included some exit options. After a year, I could buy out my water heater or opt out of the rental contract for a reasonable $40 penalty (reduced from $200 prior to the one-year mark). For an additional $125 service fee, Reliance would remove the unit, drain it, and deliver it to one of their specified drop-off locations. Customers can save a few bucks by removing the water heater themselves, but considering the labour involved, $125 sounded like a fair price to me.
Things were a bit different with Kitchener Utilities. Monthly rental rates were marginally less expensive, but there was no option to end the rental contract unless I bought out the water heater at a depreciated rate (approximately $1300 after year one).
The right decision will for you will depend on your circumstances. If you plan to stay in your home long-term and would prefer the small savings each month, you might make a different choice than I did.
Our dream house has been on the market for three or four months. Should we make an offer now, or wait for the price to drop? – BUYER IN LOVE
DEAR BUYER: If the listing price is optimistic, it’s no surprise that the property you have your eye on is lingering. After a certain amount of time, I would expect the agent to have floated the idea of a price change, but not every seller is willing to budge — sometimes they just want someone to bring them an offer.
Generally speaking, overpriced listings tend to hang around. If a client of mine has their eye on a home that’s overpriced, I always encourage them to go in with an offer and try to work things out. As the price of a property drops, it may well attract new buyers. By the time it represents a good value, you may find you have company and end up competing with other offers.