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7 Things That May Turn Off Potential Home Buyers

POSTED ON July 19th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-07-19 (3)

You may love your home just the way it is, but when it comes time to sell – there are a few things that potential home buyers might not appreciate as much as you do. When a buyer looks at their next potential home, they want to be able to picture themselves in the space. Here are 7 things that may distract a potential buyer from seeing your home as if it were theirs:

1. Bright Colours: Whether it is a brightly painted wall, carpet, or wallpaper – bright colours or loud patterns can easily overwhelm potential buyers. Although these are easy cosmetic fixes, it can be hard for some people to imagine the space any other way. Neutral colours allow buyers to envision their own style within the space.

2. Dim Lighting: A bright home is more attractive than a poorly-lit home. Ensure all burnt out light bulbs are replaced and install additional light fixtures where you can. In addition, remove heavy curtains and drapes to allow natural light to stream into the house. It is also helpful to trim trees or bushes that shadow your home.

3. Carpet Over Hardwood Floors: Carpets keep your feet warm, but they may be covering one of your home’s best features! If you know that there are hardwood floors under the broadloom, it may be time to let your floors shine. Hardwood is timeless, forever in fashion and in high demand.

4. Repurposing Rooms: While it may have fit your family’s lifestyle to use the third bedroom as a home office, or the garage as a second family room, it might not fit the lifestyle of your home’s new family. Repurpose your converted rooms into what they were originally intended so the potential homebuyers can do all the creative thinking.

5. Pets and Their Accessories: There are people who love pets, and others who do not. To prevent turning away potential home buyers with pet allergies or phobias, make sure your pet(s) and their accessories are out of the house and hidden away. Remember to remove fur that has shed, and eliminate odours that may remain in the home. Also make sure your furry loved ones are never around for a showing!

6. Odours: Unless you have cookies baking in the oven, most odours will turn off a potential home buyer. Strong scents of food or spices linger long after the meal. Try to cook or eat outside if you can during the period that your home is for sale. If you smoke, avoid smoking indoors at all costs! It is very difficult to remove the smell of smoke and generally turns off most home buyers.

7. Clutter: Dirty dishes, overcrowded countertops, knick-knacks – none of these things appeal to a potential buyer. Home buyers will recognize you lead normal lives, just as they do, but seeing toys and baby equipment or piles of laundry overtaking the residence, will detract them from seeing your home’s true potential.

There are plenty of simple ways to make your home more appealing. If you are looking to sell, and would like some advice, feel free to call me at 416.921.1112, I would be happy to help!

Easy Money-Saving Tips to Try Today

POSTED ON July 12th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-07-12

Saving money these days can seem impossible. Everywhere you look there seem to be hidden fees or unexpected costs. This short list will provide you with ideas on how to save money quickly and easily whether you are at home, in the car or out and about.

1.    Sell or Donate Your Unwanted Items
With the likes of eBay, Kijiji, Craigslist, Letgo and Etsy – things in your home that once had value but now only take up space can become a source of income. Even if you cannot sell all of the unwanted belongings in your home, you can donate the rest and keep a record of these items to receive a tax receipt

2.  Make Your Home Energy Efficient
While the upfront costs are steeper than your average household products, energy efficient items will save you far more money than the amount you have put into them. CFL and LED bulbs use a quarter of the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs while keeping your home just as bright.

Installing a programmable thermostat will easily regulate the temperature in your house, which will vary depending on when you are at home. This can save you a significant amount of money.

3.  Sign Up for Customer Rewards Programs

With free customer rewards programs you can earn many different types of bonuses. Ask your retailers if they offer such a card and sign up! To make your life easier, create an email address specifically for these customer rewards programs so they do not clog up your email. If your cell phone supports it, add the rewards program cards directly to your cell phone’s wallet so you will not have to frantically search for the card every time you shop.

4.  Ask for Any Fees to be Waived

Sign-up fees are included with any service you could possibly sign up for. Just call the customer care number and ask for the fees to be waived. Not all fees will be waived, but when they are, you can save yourself some cash.

5.   Clean or Change Your Car’s Air Filter

Did you know that a clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by up to 7%? Just follow the instructions in your car’s user manual and in a few minutes’ time you could save more than $100 for every 10,000 km your car drives. It is a simple and easy task to clean, but if your filter is beyond help a new air filter goes for less than $10.

6.    Switch Your Bank 

We live in a day and age where being a new customer has better perks than being a loyal customer. Many banks offer sign-up bonuses, as well as attractive interest rates. If you are currently paying a monthly fee for your checking or savings account, talk to other banks to see how they can alleviate this cost for you.

7.   Negotiate Rates and Rewards with Your Credit Card Issuer

Negotiate with your credit card issuer about your current interest rate and research any programs that offer significant cash back rewards. If your issuer does not have anything to offer, you can transfer your balance to an entirely different card. Transfers are easy (try finding a balance transfer credit card with an introductory 0% APR) and also a huge bargaining chip with your bank. 

Saving money does not have to involve sacrifice. Always be on the lookout for opportunities that reward you first and you will end up accruing more savings than you thought possible!

Market Watch Report: June 2017

POSTED ON July 11th  - POSTED IN Featured News, Market Watch

More Moderate Price Growth in June

July 6, 2017 — Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 7,974 sales through TREB’s MLS® System in June 2017 – down by 37.3 per cent in comparison to June 2016.

The number of new residential listings entered into TREB’s MLS® System, at 19,614, was up by 15.9 per cent compared to June 2016. While this annual rate of growth was sizeable, it represented a more moderate annual rate of growth compared to May 2017, when new listings were up by 48.9 per cent year-over-year.

“We are in a period of flux that often follows major government policy announcements pointed at the housing market. On one hand, consumer survey results tell us many households are very interested in purchasing a home in the near future, but some of these would-be buyers seem to be temporarily on the sidelines waiting to see the real impact of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan. On the other hand, we have existing home owners who are listing their home because they feel price growth may have peaked. The end result has been a better supplied market and a moderating annual pace of price growth,” said Mr. Syrianos.

Annual growth rates for MLS® HPI benchmark prices have moderated over the past two months, but remain strong. The MLS® HPI composite benchmark price was up by 25.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis in June. June’s average selling price for all home types combined for the TREB market area was $793,915, representing a 6.3 per cent increase compared to the same month in 2016. A better supplied market has certainly been a key factor influencing the moderation in price growth.

“Recent Ipsos survey results suggest that home buying activity in the GTA will remain strong moving forward. The year-over-year dip in home sales we have experienced over the last two months seem to be the result of would-be buyers putting their decision to purchase temporarily on hold while they monitor the impact of the Fair Housing Plan. On the supply side of the market, it certainly looks as though buyers will benefit from more choice in the second half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016,”said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis and Service Channels.

Full Market Watch Report: June 2017

Functional and Sophisticated Children’s Rooms

POSTED ON July 5th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-07-05

Since children’s rooms are the living quarters of playful, and frequently untidy, little people, house design principles often get adjusted or compromised. Style and sophistication need not be abandoned, though. With an increase in smaller-space and open-concept homes arising, better looking rooms just make sense. Find the balance between functionality and sophistication with these tips:

1. Design the room to match the house – Options for children’s décor have improved over the years. There are plenty of well-designed and affordable products available that will complement the rest of your home.

Choose better quality anchor pieces like beds, desks, chairs and toy chests. These pieces will grow with the child, so quality is key.

Neutral colours will increase longevity and flexibility in a child’s room. Keep the furniture and wall colours neutral and add colour through smaller pieces of furniture or artworkchildren change quickly and it is easier to change out some smaller pieces than to redo the whole space.

Many designers are creating kid-friendly pieces that mimic classic prints and designs that can be found in the rest of your home.

2. Get the children involved – Involve your children in the design process and decide how much collaboration is possible.

Go on websites like Pinterest for inspiration for choices of colours, elements, or themes they like. Pinterest is a great place to find design ideas based on specific interests.

Bring children with you to the store and allow them to pick out a few items to incorporate in the space.

Narrow down a selection of wall colours or bedding options and let children pick from your pre-selected options.

3. Showcase their artwork – Incorporating children’s artwork will give them a sense of pride and also provides a great personalized touch.

Collect a few pieces of fun, colourful artwork and frame the most interesting part of each piece. Cut pieces into similar shapes and sizes and place in gallery-style black or white frames.

Using something like an Ikea wire curtain rod system, hang up artwork and easily switch pieces as new creations are made.

Purchase inexpensive frames of different shapes and sizes and create a gallery wall. Frame different crafts and pieces of art. To easily exchange the artwork, take the glass out of the frames and simply tape the art to the center of each frame.

Get creative by making custom fabrics or wallpapers using children’s own designs.

4. Make it easy to clean – Storage and cleanliness are important in children’s rooms as clutter and messy accidents can easily take over the space.

  • Paint the room using an eggshell or satin finish. These are durable when cleaning, they are stain resistant and better at hiding paint and construction imperfections.
  • Incorporate furniture with easy-to-clean surfaces – something that will not stain or get damaged if a drink gets knocked over, or if it is covered in paint or crayon doodles.
  • Find furniture that has double-duty functionality. A comfortable seat that opens up to store toys or a bed with built-in cubbies or pull-out storage.
  • Make items easy to put away by using clear containers with labels or photos depicting what they should be used for.

Create a space that you and your children can be proud of. You don’t want to be running to close the door to every time guests come by. With a little effort and planning, a childs room can be just as beautiful as the rest of your home.

Get Your Home Summer-Ready with these Tips

POSTED ON June 28th  - POSTED IN Featured News

06-28-2017

Summer is here and it is time remove the reminders of winter that are still lingering in our homes. Spruce up your space and get ready for summer entertaining with these tips:

Create a Cozy and Inviting Outdoor Space.

Give your outdoor furniture a deep clean. Rain and winter-storage tends to take a toll on our outdoor items. Put cushion and pillow covers through the wash and scrub down the deck, tables, BBQ and any decorative pieces.

Light up a pathway with solar lights or add string lights to your patio for ambiance. Decorate with tall plants, torches, and consider adding in a water-feature or a contained fire-pit.

Remove the Heat-Producing Items in Your Home.

Do away with any thick rugs, blankets or heavy drapes and replace them with something lighter and brighter.

Swap out candles for fresh flowers and make use of the fireplace by treating it as a nook to display a floral arrangement or decorative piece.

Tackle Chores and Make Room for Summer Items.

Give windows and floors a power clean.

Empty the freezer and defrost it fully; melt any icy build up and clean thoroughly. Look through your food items and throw out anything that has been in the freezer for over a year or anything that has freezer burn.

Organize the shed and garage. Move the snowblower, ice skates and snow shovels out of the way to ensure easy access to your summer toys and tools.

Keep Things Cool Without Cranking the Air Conditioning.

Turn your ceiling fan to counter-clockwise to increase air flow – since blades are tilted upward changing direction will help to push air downward and create a stronger draft.

Change your air conditioner filter or have your unit professionally looked at. Proper maintenance will ensure you get the best energy output and will lower your chances of a broken A/C in the middle of a sweltering heatwave.

Keep blinds at least partially closed to help keep sun rays out and the cool air in.

Summer Means More Entertaining and Overnight Guests, Be Prepared for Their Arrival.

Give your home a summer makeover by livening it up with colourful throw pillows and fresh flowers and plants.

Use cooler bedding such as fresh cotton or linen sheets.

Opt for neutral colours: beachy hues or pops of citrus.

Swap out heavy comforters for a light coverlet or quilt. Freshen up the bathroom with crisp white towels, new plush bath mats, and a colourful bright shower curtain.

How are you preparing your home for summer?

5 Tips for Picking the Perfect Paint for Any Space

POSTED ON June 21st  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-06-21

Whether you are completely renovating, or simply looking to rejuvenate your space – adding a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest and most effective ways to transform a room. The right paint colour and finish can liven up a drab bedroom, open up a tiny washroom or add a touch of luxury to doors and wall accents. Ensure you are picking the right paint for your project with these tips:

1. Buy Test Size Quantities of Different Colours. Most paint stores have sample paint sizes available, these are inexpensive and usually have enough paint to cover a large wall area. Using these samples allows you to test different options in your space before you commit to buying a full gallon.

2. Look at Swatches in Natural Light. Take swatches/paint chips to a nearby window. Paint tends to look different under artificial light. If you have ever looked at a swatch in a store and found that the paint looked different on your walls – this is why. Look at swatches near a window to get a better feel for how the colour will look in your home. It is also a good idea to look at swatches against a white surface -this will help you see tonal values clearly.

3. Give Your Favourite Colours a Test Run. Think you narrowed down a few of your favourite options? Buy smaller test sizes and paint swatches on one section of wall in a high-traffic area. After looking at these colours every day for a week or so, you should be able decide on your favourite one. Testing colours this way will help you judge which hue works best in the space and you will be able to see how the paint looks in daylight and at night.

4. Try Customizing! If you are unsatisfied with the colour selection in a store, you can mix extra black or white to darken or lighten your paint. Although this is great way to get a custom colour – this extra step can make it very difficult to match the paint colour in the future if you ever needed to do touch-ups.

5. Pick the Right Finish for Your Space.

Flat – A chalky finish that has a matte sheen. It absorbs light and helps hide surface imperfections. Ideal for high-traffic areas.

Eggshell – A bit more luster than flat paint, eggshell paint is easier to clean.

Semi-gloss – Reflects light, is bright and shiny and great for rooms with a strong light source. Best used in areas that are cleaned frequently such as kitchens, bathrooms, closet doors, and trim. Generally, the shinier the finish is, the more durable and easier to clean it is.

Satin – Offers a warm, pearl-like finish. Excellent at resisting mildew, dirt and stains. Suitable for frequently-used spaces. Great for hallways and children’s rooms.

High-gloss – The higher the sheen (or gloss), the more vivid and rich your colours will appear. It is a great choice for deep, jewel-toned colours such as reds, deep greens, and navy blues. It works great for wood surfaces such as trim, cabinets, and doors. Should be used only on surfaces where blemishes are minimal because they are easier to see.

When selecting a paint finish, keep in mind that shiny surfaces are reflective and can help make a space feel larger – glossier finishes can help visually expand a small kitchen or bathroom. Talk with a paint expert at your local paint store for information, ideas and advice!

4 Important Questions to ask Yourself when Planning for Retirement

POSTED ON June 14th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-06-13 (1)

Planning for retirement can be a complicated process. Knowing how to ask the right questions can help you to plan and develop clear goals. These 4 important questions are a great place to start in your planning process:

1. What do you want your retirement to look like?

It can be hard to visualize your retirement when it is still many years away. Think critically about your expectations and what your ideal scenario looks like. Many of us get caught up in saving away and building a nest egg, without truly knowing what it is we want to be doing. A little self-understanding today can lead to better planning and fewer surprises in the future. What is your retirement personality?

2. How much do you need to save?

Generally speaking, couples aspiring to an average middleclass retirement will need around $58,000 of pre-tax annual income (including government benefits). This means they will need to save up to $650,000 by the age of 65. Those looking for a more uppermiddleclass lifestyle will need about $74,000 of annual income, meaning they need to save about one million dollars before retiring. Everyone’s ‘magic number’ will be different, take into account any major financial burdens such as acquiring a home, supporting children or family members, paying off debts, etc. Knowing a ball-park figure will help you set both long and short-term goals.

3. When should you start taking advantage of benefits?

Decide when to start taking Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits and tapping into the Old Age Security (OAS) benefit. You can start getting CPP as early as the age of 60. It is worth taking the time to research and figure out what age is right for you. There are a number of tax and income factors that could guide you to choose the standard age of 65, or start earlier or later. For OAS, you can begin receiving benefits at the age of 65, or wait until the age of 70. Learn about benefit details and gain insight into when to start your benefits.

4. How will you be putting money away?

Putting money away for retirement might not become a priority until later in life, but the earlier you start the better. Ideally, you will make contributions to your RRSP when you are in a higher tax bracket, and withdrawals when you are in a lower one. Contributing to an RRSP provides tax credits on annual income tax returns. RRSPs are a good choice for most people but might not be the best option for those that expect to stay in a low tax bracket for the duration of their career. Find out if contributing to an RRSP is right for you. An alternative to RRSPs is the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). TFSAs are a great way to pay less tax on your savings. Ensure you are able to take full advantage with these tips.

No matter what your retirement goals are, get informed and make the most of your retirement opportunities.

Technology is Changing the Way We Plan Our Finances

POSTED ON June 7th  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-06-07 (1)

Will your next financial advisor be a robot? Like virtually everything these days, the way we invest and plan for retirement is evolving due to technology. The tools we have available are more robust than ever before. Computer algorithms are increasingly becoming a staple of holistic financial planning.

Financial planning requires careful balancing of many complex factors. These factors can be overwhelming, meaning that situations often require careful analysis. Algorithms are seen more and more as a way to manage the complexity of financial planning. As well, algorithms have made conflict-free standards of service more attainable, with their unparalleled ability to assess all options in an objective manner.

However, the human element is far from obsolete. Financial planners act as a mediator to protect clients from making decisions that will hurt them in the long term. Experienced financial planners can use financial planning technology to its full potential, with detailed knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses, in combination with knowing when to step in and make changes based on individual client needs.

Thanks to evolving technology, we are also able to control many aspects of financial planning with the aid of apps and online tools, ourselves.

Here are three tools to help you stay on top of your money:

Mint.com Personal Finance Mint is both an online tool and an app that allows you to connect all of your accounts in one place to keep track of and categorize your spending, bills, check your balances and track your budget. Mint allows you to set up reminders for upcoming payments and receive notifications when your account balance is getting low. Mint takes your information and provides advice on broad strategies to improve your finances. It is free, easy to use and allows you to sync your accounts.

Important: Although the company claims their services are as safe as the banks’ own websites, if fraud were to occur, you would be responsible for any losses – always be mindful and careful.

You Need a Budget (YNAB) A more hands-on tool than Mint, YNAB is great for those that want to budget meticulously and intentionally. The app needs you to manually import transactions daily, forcing you to be mindful of your spending and saving habits. The app allows you to check your budget and transactions on the go. It costs $50 to purchase, and there is a free one-month trial available. If you do not need all the bells and whistles, a ‘lite’ version is available for free.

Your Bank’s App – Most major banks and credit card/investment companies have apps or online tools available. They are a good place to start and usually allow you to check balances, make transfers, pay bills, check on your investments and provide a variety of useful programs. Many of the apps have tools that help you track your spending and categorize your spending habits .

What is the final take-away? Increasingly, financial planning is expected to provide more value because the freely (and cheaply) available tools are simply better than ever. Whether you want to try a hands-on approach, or want as much expert guidance as you can get; excellent options are available.

Market Watch Report: May 2017

POSTED ON June 5th  - POSTED IN Featured News, Market Watch

Active Listings Increase in May

June 5, 2017 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 10,196 sales through TREB’s MLS® System in May 2017 – down by 20.3 per cent compared to 12,790 sales reported in May 2016. Sales of detached homes were down by 26.3 per cent. Sales of condominium apartments were down by 6.4 per cent.

Active listings – the number of properties available for sale at the end of May – were up by 42.9 per cent compared to the lowest level in 15 years recorded in May 2016, but remained below the average and peak during that period. The number increased considerably for low-rise home types including detached and semi-detached houses and townhouses. Active listings for condominium apartments were down compared to May 2016.

“Home buyers definitely benefitted from a better supplied market in May, both in comparison to the same time last year and to the first four months of 2017. However, even with the robust increase in active listings, inventory levels remain low. At the end of May, we had less than two months of inventory. This is why we continued to see very strong annual rates of price growth, albeit lower than the peak growth rates earlier this year,” said Mr. Cerqua.

Selling prices continued to increase strongly in May compared to the same month in 2016. The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark price was up by 29 per cent year-over-year. The average selling price for all home types combined for the TREB Market Area as a whole was up by 14.9 per cent to $863,910. Year-over-year price increases were greater for condominium apartments compared to low-rise home types. This likely reflects the fact that the low-rise market segments benefitted most from the increase in listings.

“The actual, or normalized, effect of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan remains to be seen. In the past, some housing policy changes have initially led to an overreaction on the part of homeowners and buyers, which later balanced out. On the listings front, the increase in active listings suggests that homeowners, after a protracted delay, are starting to react to the strong price growth we’ve experienced over the past year by listing their home for sale to take advantage of these equity gains,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Full Market Watch Report: May 2017

4 Smart Decor Solutions for Tricky Spaces

POSTED ON May 31st  - POSTED IN Featured News

2017-05-31 (1)

We all have those awkward spaces in our home where nothing seems to fit just right. Whether it is a tiny bedroom, a nook under a slanted ceiling or a narrow hallway – some parts of the home need a little extra planning and creativity. Here are 4 common tricky spaces with solutions to make them practical and beautiful:

Tricky Space #1 – A Room with too Many Windows and Doors: Windows and doors are great, but they can get in the way of decorating plans. Not only is there wall space missing, but furniture placement would need to be considered to ensure no walkways are blocked. In an open-concept space, finding a good spot for a table in a room full of entryways can be difficult. A general rule is that curved shapes fit better into awkward spaces. Do away with the rectangular dining room table and find an oval or circular table instead. Find a wall (even if it is just a small section of wall) and position the table near it. This will help to ensure the table is not blocking anything. If you have a smaller room that has many entryways, windows or a large fireplace/radiator, bring furniture to towards the center of the space. Position a large rug in the center and create symmetry with matching sofas or couches, making sure there is enough space to walk all the way around the furniture.

Tricky Space #2 – A Long, Narrow Hallway: Narrow hallways can be tricky, how do you make use of the area without blocking floor space? The key is to make use of the wall space. Make a narrow hallway bright by painting the walls a fresh, bright colour. Create a gallery” by using overhead track-lighting or wall mounted lights to illuminate your art and the walkway. If space is an issue, allow the hallway to double as a sleek storage area. Install floating cabinets and shelves: more floor space equals less clutter. Choose pieces that are narrow enough to allow for ample walking room. Remember that in a narrow hallway you need to keep the clutter to a minimum; a small mess can look huge in such a confined space.

Tricky Space # 3 – The Area Behind a Door: It can be awkward when decorating beside a swinging door because you do not want to hit or block anything. In rooms where the door is used regularly, or mostly kept open, it is a good idea to leave the space bare. In an entryway, where the front door is usually closed, make use of the area to provide much needed storage space and add interest to the room. You can include a small console table, a coat-rack and a tall mirror. If your house lacks an entryway this small table and rack will be just what you need to conveniently store and retrieve your keys, wallet, coat, etc.

Tricky Space #4 – Large Open Space with High Ceilings. This kind of space sounds like a dream come true, but it can often be hard to decorate. With so much space to fill, both vertically and horizontally, how can you make the space feel full without cluttering it? Incorporating items with various heights, textures and shapes can help to visually fill the space. Use tall shelves, lamps, and plants to add height and allow the eyes to wander vertically. Large rooms can also handle large furniture – so do not be afraid to get a large dining room table, oversized sofas or a giant rug.

Visualizing design elements in any space can be tricky – make it easier on yourself by looking at the space completely bare. When the space is already set up with furniture and décor, it can be hard to imagine designing the room in any other way. An empty space offers a clean slate and will allow for your imagination to wander! If you feel stuck, go for a walk and come back with fresh eyes or, better yet, invite a décor-savvy friend to offer their opinion. Sometimes listening to other peoples ideas can help to jumpstart your own creativity.