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For our opinions on the local real estate market and lots of helpful tips for real estate professionals, home buyers and sellers, please enjoy our blog.

Home Tasks To Tackle This Fall

October 19, 2020











Everyone knows of spring cleaning, but did you know it’s actually just as important to do some sprucing up in the fall to prepare your home for winter? Here are some home tasks to tackle this fall that we swear by.
 
Windows and Window Treatments
Fall is the best time of the year to wash your windows and window treatments. Most curtains and draperies should be air-dried and fall is this ideal season to do this as it is often the driest season of the year.
 
Another important thing to do is to check your windows and doors for drafts. You can do this by turning on your fans and/or air conditioners and holding a lit candle or incense near all your windows and doors. If you see the smoke or flame flicker and wave this is a clear sign that you have a draft problem. You can easily and affordably fix this by caulking any cracks or chips around windows and you can weatherstrip drafts around doors.
 
Sweep the Chimney
Fall and winter is when we use our fireplaces most. You don’t want to light your first fire of the year and burn some unsuspecting animals nesting in your chimney! Hiring a professional to get your chimney cleaned will ensure that build-up doesn’t occur and that you can regularly burn a safe fire.
 
Put Away Patio Furniture
It’s a sad thing to do, saying goodbye to summer. But with the colder weather creeping upon us and the days getting shorter, it’s becoming less and less likely that we will enjoy our patio furniture. But before you put them away make sure you give them a proper cleaning with mild soap and water so that the dirt that fell on it throughout the summer doesn’t get caked and baked into the furniture over the winter. Then, when you bring them out into the spring they’re ready to be enjoyed right away!
 
While we’re outside putting away patio furniture, now is also an excellent time to really give your barbecue a good scrub. While we do a decent job generally scrubbing our grills after each use, now is the perfect time to soak and scour the grates, clean under the hood, and remove any foil or food particles that fell under the grill throughout the summer.
 
Clean Your Gutters
Nobody really enjoys cleaning their rain gutters, but it is an important job that must be done. Contrary to popular belief, cleaning your gutters is not a solely aesthetic endeavour. The leaves and other debris that clog your gutters can pose a real danger in the winter. Without these cleaned the can form ice dams which can cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas of your home.
Preparing your home for fall doesn’t have to be a scary or daunting task! Set aside a weekend and you’ll see how much money you’ll save by taking care of your most prized possession. Let us know if you have any other tips and tricks to get your home ready for the fall season.

Advantages to Selling in Autumn

October 12, 2020












Most people know that spring is the busiest time of the year to sell a home – but did you know that there are just as many advantages to selling in autumn? Here are some of our favourites:
 
Your Curb Appeal Has Never Been Better
In autumn, mother nature does a lot of the curb appeal work for you. The leaves are falling in a rainbow of colours and everything looks inviting. There are even late-flowering plants that are still in bloom in autumn which add a further dimension to the colours outside your home.
 
Less Competition = More Offers!
In spring, listings are a dime a dozen. A homebuyer can easily be overwhelmed at all the options they have to choose from to buy their dream home. In the fall, while there are still a good number of listings, there are fewer than spring. This means that your home doesn’t need to compete with a hundred other homes on the market. Perhaps it only needs to compete with ten!
 
Autumn Attracts Serious Buyers
Just as there is a saturated market in the spring for sellers, there is an equal one for buyers! An open house in spring may yield 30 visitors, but many are window shopping. In the autumn, buyers tend to be more serious and want to move quickly. While you may not have as many people viewing your home, each one that does is serious about purchasing it – and that is what matters!
 
Autumn Attracts Different Buyers
Most people tend to imagine a family purchasing a home. This is particularly why the market is flooded in spring. Everyone wants to buy a new home in spring to close in summer when school is done and give the kids time to adjust to their new home and neighbourhood before the school year starts at a new school. But families are not the only buyers out there! Autumn is the perfect time to attract young professionals, empty-nesters, and couples who don’t have children. They’re more likely and willing to jump into the real estate market in the autumn and they are just as serious as family buyers!
 
Listing In Autumn Lets You Enjoy Summer
When listing a house, you inevitably need to put some work into it. You’ll likely need to paint, declutter, perhaps even hire a stager. This could take several weeks perhaps even months depending on how much needs to be done for your home. There are some people who feel the need to rush to put their homes for sale before fall starts. Instead of spending the warmest months of the year stressed out, why not enjoy them? Start preparing your home for sale now so that it can be on the market in the heart of autumn and you can enjoy Christmas in your brand new home.
 
Start the process of selling your home now. Sure, you may have to clean your rain gutters and rake a few leaves – but your home will never look better than in fall!

Factors That Affect The Resale Value Of Your Home

October 5, 2020











When you put your home on the market it is inevitable that you will need to make some adjustments to your current living situation to make it more suitable to someone else’s tastes. This can be a bit odd at first, considering you enjoy your living situation as it currently is. But when we put a home up for sale, our opinion no longer matters and we must cater to an unknown entity. Here are some important factors that you need to be aware of when you are preparing your home for market as they will definitely affect the resale value of your home.
 
Location
This is the factor most people think of when it comes to the value of a home. A great location is generally described as a quiet neighbourhood (not in terms of noise, but in terms of traffic), with a close proximity to schools, childcare and other important amenities such as shopping and hospitals. Naturally, not every box need be ticked for your home to be in a good location. However, the more of these you are close to the higher in value your home will be.
 
Views
Nobody particularly wants to have a view of a flashing neon sign or a garbage dump. In an ideal world, we would all prefer to have a home with a great view. Perhaps it’s a lit-up skyline, perhaps your home overlooks a beautiful ravine. If your home has great views, your home’s resale value is in good hands.
 
Curb Appeal
Another important view is that of your home’s curb appeal. If you want your home to have a strong resale value it is imperative that your home has great curb appeal. You want passers-by to stop and admire your home. If they walk by and don’t notice, or worse yet, stop to gawk at its state of disrepair, it will negatively impact the resale value of your home.
 
Condition Of Your Home
Imagine you find your dream home and upon home inspection realize you need to purchase an entirely new heating/cooling or electrical system. It would make you hesitate, no? You might even offer less for the home to make up for the cost. If you want to ensure that a home maintains its resale value it is important to not offload too many costs of an aging home onto the next buyer simply because you want to get out and are done with the house. This includes keeping the roof in relatively good shape.
 
Number Of Bathrooms
You would be surprised, but there are still many homes that only have one bathroom. While this might be fine for a single person, perhaps even a couple. But it is rare to come across anyone who would not appreciate at least two bathrooms in their home. One can be for guests, for children. Having more than one bathroom will significantly improve the resale value of your home.
 
How many of these factors did you know? Do you know of others that you think are as important to the resale value of a home? Let us know!


 

Budget Friendly Curb Appeal Ideas

September 28, 2020












There’s no denying that first impressions mean a lot – especially when it comes to homebuying! Improving your curb appeal is one of the most important and valuable things you can do to ensure your home gets sold. However, not all of us have a blank cheque budget to make those home improvements. Here are some amazing budget friendly curb appeal ideas that you can do by yourself:
 
Paint Your Front Door
Painting your front door shouldn’t cost you more than $30! Pick a bold colour that matches with the rest of the colours in your house but also stands out nicely. Just make sure that you’ve properly prepped all the surfaces before you paint to ensure you will get long lasting and high quality results.
 
Install A New Door Knob
After you’ve painted your door, you can update it with new hardware. There is such a wide variety of styles and options that there is a guarantee you will find something that suits you in your budget. If you want to incorporate smart home tech into your door knob, there are ones that have cameras and/or numerical codes that will unlock your door.
 
Get Porch Curtains
Not all homes have porches, but if yours has one, you should definitely get porch curtains. These are perfect for three seasons of the year. Make sure that when you buy the fabric that it is meant to be outdoor only – indoor fabric will wear and tear very quickly with rain and snow. Adding porch curtains will expand your indoor/outdoor living situation and make your front porch seem more welcoming and warm.
 
Add A Front Door Mailbox
A front door mailbox is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. They are very simple to install and cost approximately $40 so they will definitely not break your bank account! If your home, instead, has a mailbox at the end of the road, consider replacing it if it looks outdated or worn. A roadside mailbox starts around $20. Just make sure that whatever you purchase follows the rules and regulations set forth by the city you live in as well as Canada Post.
 
Display A Front Door Wreath
Another way to add charm and warmth to your curb appeal if to get a front door wreath. You can get an all-season one or change it according to holidays. You can make one yourself using artificial and/or real plants or purchase pre-made ones online or from home and garden / hobby stores for around $40.
 
Put Up New House Numbers
You would be amazed at what new house numbers can do to uplift your home’s curb appeal! Make sure the new ones you purchase match the finish and style of your exterior light fixtures and away you go. House numbers can be as little as $2 a number but if you are interested in getting a customised plaque those can set you back between $50-$100.
 
So, which of these will you try? Be sure to show us your hard work on your curb appeal improvements!






 

Kitchen Upgrades To Make Your Home Stand Out To Buyers

September 21, 2020















Not all kitchen upgrades provide the same value to homebuyers. As the most important room in a home to homebuyers in terms of value, you need to make sure that the upgrades you perform there count. Here are upgrades we know matter to buyers.
 
Cabinetry
You may have updated your kitchen with the newest appliances and the best countertops, but if you haven’t touched your outdated cabinetry, it can instantly and significantly detract the value of your property. There are many ways up upgrade your kitchen cabinets without having to break the bank! The most affordable way is to simply replace the hardware. If your cabinets are structurally sound, you can also upgrade them by painting ore restaining. If you do not feel artistically inclined, you can hire someone to help you out with your renovation. However, if you find that your cabinet doors despite being structurally sound, need more of an uplift than just a fresh coat of paint, you should consider refacing them. All three of these options of sprucing up your cabinets will add value to your kitchen and are all cheaper than completely redoing your entire cabinetry!
 
Energy Saving Smart Tech Appliances
Today’s homebuyer cares about the environment as much as their wallet. They want newer appliances that are energy efficient. They also want to be able to interact with it from anywhere in their home – and even outside of it! Imagine driving to work and realizing you forgot to turn the dishwasher on. Instead of having to drive back, you can get the job done with a push of a button on an app with a smart dishwasher. When shopping around, look for appliances that carry the Energy Star label.
 
Lighting and Plumbing Fixtures
While everyone’s mind gravitates to the larger pieces in a kitchen when it comes to renovations (such as appliances), it is the fixtures that elevate a home and demonstrate how well thought out the design is. One great lighting recommendation we suggest is to install lights right underneath cabinets. Whether they’re puckets or LED strip lights, they will instantly transform your space.
 
When it comes to plumbing, consider getting a faucet that is extendable so you don’t have to contort your pan a hundred ways just to get it clean. To keep things extra clean in the house, you can also get a faucet that can be turned on with the touch of your elbow rather than having to use your greasy hands.
 
Countertops
Just as stainless steel has become the standard finish for appliances in a home, the same applies for solid surfaces and countertops. If you have laminate anywhere in your kitchen it needs to go. Great options you can use are granite, slate, concrete, tile, quartz and marble. If you are on a budget consider going for the butcher block look.
 
Are you currently renovating your kitchen? We’d love to know what upgrades have appealed to buyers and which did not. We hope you have enjoyed our tips!
Not all kitchen upgrades provide the same value to homebuyers. As the most important room in a home to homebuyers in terms of value, you need to make sure that the upgrades you perform there count. Here are upgrades we know matter to buyers.
 
Cabinetry
You may have updated your kitchen with the newest appliances and the best countertops, but if you haven’t touched your outdated cabinetry, it can instantly and significantly detract the value of your property. There are many ways up upgrade your kitchen cabinets without having to break the bank! The most affordable way is to simply replace the hardware. If your cabinets are structurally sound, you can also upgrade them by painting ore restaining. If you do not feel artistically inclined, you can hire someone to help you out with your renovation. However, if you find that your cabinet doors despite being structurally sound, need more of an uplift than just a fresh coat of paint, you should consider refacing them. All three of these options of sprucing up your cabinets will add value to your kitchen and are all cheaper than completely redoing your entire cabinetry!
 
Energy Saving Smart Tech Appliances
Today’s homebuyer cares about the environment as much as their wallet. They want newer appliances that are energy efficient. They also want to be able to interact with it from anywhere in their home – and even outside of it! Imagine driving to work and realizing you forgot to turn the dishwasher on. Instead of having to drive back, you can get the job done with a push of a button on an app with a smart dishwasher. When shopping around, look for appliances that carry the Energy Star label.
 
Lighting and Plumbing Fixtures
While everyone’s mind gravitates to the larger pieces in a kitchen when it comes to renovations (such as appliances), it is the fixtures that elevate a home and demonstrate how well thought out the design is. One great lighting recommendation we suggest is to install lights right underneath cabinets. Whether they’re puckets or LED strip lights, they will instantly transform your space.
 
When it comes to plumbing, consider getting a faucet that is extendable so you don’t have to contort your pan a hundred ways just to get it clean. To keep things extra clean in the house, you can also get a faucet that can be turned on with the touch of your elbow rather than having to use your greasy hands.
 
Countertops
Just as stainless steel has become the standard finish for appliances in a home, the same applies for solid surfaces and countertops. If you have laminate anywhere in your kitchen it needs to go. Great options you can use are granite, slate, concrete, tile, quartz and marble. If you are on a budget consider going for the butcher block look.
 
Are you currently renovating your kitchen? We’d love to know what upgrades have appealed to buyers and which did not. We hope you have enjoyed our tips!

Red Flags When Buying A House

September 14, 2020














Buying a house is an emotional roller coaster of a process. You are emotionally invested because you are hunting for a deeply personal space. Sometimes, however, that emotional investment can blind you from seeing some serious red flags. Here are some red flags we don’t want you to miss.
 
Potential Foundation / Structural Problems
People often mistake an unfinished basement for a structural issue. Actually, an unfinished basement can be good because it allows home inspectors to more easily see if there is any cracks in a foundation. Minor cracks can possibly just be a sign of settling in the home, but large cracks are the real thing to look out for.
 
This is because if a home inspector points our foundation or structural problems, you might be in for a very expensive repair. The foundation is the most important part of a home. It might be important to you how a kitchen or bathroom looks, but if you don’t have a solid foundation, that pretty kitchen won’t last very long.
 
Pest / Insect Problems
It is to be expected that living in a home the odd bug will crawl into your space. However, if a certain pest or pest problem occurs in or on the property – this is a huge red flag. Termites, powder post beetles and carpenter ants are wood destroying pests. Having a colony of any of these in your home will be disastrous to your furniture, your foundation and your bank account.
 
Random Fresh Paint
It is very common to view a property for sale that was recently painted. A fresh coat of paint is one of the most affordable ways to spruce up a home and make it more appealing to buyers. What is a strong red flag is finding random fresh paint throughout the home. If you see only one wall in a room painted, or one portion of the ceiling painted this could be a sign that the seller is trying to cover up a problem.
 
Amateur Workmanship and Repairs
Amateur repairs are an affordable option for homeowners who encounter issues with their home. However, amateur repairs tend to only be affordable in the short run. Inexperienced house flippers will not be licensed plumbers, carpenters or electricians and a quick fix by them could cost you thousands of dollars later on. Most of these amateur workmanship issues won’t be fully understood until a home inspection is performed on the house.
 
Odours
Homeowners can easily become accustomed to a smell of a home – even if it’s a bad one! However, if you as a potential homebuyer come across a foul odour this could very well be a red flag. Pay attention to how many fragrances are in the home. If there is a candle, a plug in and an air freshener in every room with windows open in the middle of winter? This is a red flag. It never hurts to enquire further as to what those smells are and how bad they can be for you if you become the next owner of the home.
 
Think we missed out on some red flags? Let us know! We hope you found this list helpful for your house hunting journey.
 

DIY Firepit Ideas For Your Backyard

September 7, 2020














Firepits are a great and inexpensive way to style and flare to your backyard all year long. Their warmth is perfect for gathering around on hot summer nights, but can equally be enjoyed in the colder months of the year as well. There are many DIY firepit designs to choose from, here are a few of our favourites:
 
Stone Firepit with Half Wall
If you’re not sure which firepit you should go for, a stone firepit is one of the most versatile styles. Moreover, they are incredibly easy to make. All you will need are some stone bricks, and either some cement or heavy duty glue. Outline the area you want to cover and work along that outline!
 
Round Stone Firepit
If you want to take your firepit one notch higher design-wise, consider doing a round stone firepit. You can use bricks to build up the pit and complete the firepit by adding round stones as a façade around the bricks. You’ll have the strength and affordability of the bricks underneath, but getting the smooth and elegant look on the outside.
 
Concrete Tree Ring Firepit
If you are on a tight budget, look no further than a concrete tree ring firepit! This should not cost you more than $50 to complete. To create this firepit, stack two or more tree rings on top of each other. Once that is complete, make a smaller circle using smaller concrete rings on the inside of the larger tree ring. Place some pebbles or stones in between the two rings to add depth and style.
 
Repurposed Washing Machine Drum Firepit
If you like modern, industrial looks, you need to repurpose a washing machine drum and turn it into a firepit. Old washing machine drums are not difficult to come by, you might have one in your home or you can easily find one at a thrift store or on its way to a dump. All you will need to do is a few tweaks to make it the perfect firepit. These tweaks include giving it legs, painting it with a coat of fire-retardant paint, and finishing the top or sides to get the perfect shape you want.
 
Affordable Paver Firepit
If you want a stone firepit look but don’t have the budget to go all out, we recommend buying enough pavers to create a three-tier firepit. This should cost approximately $60. You won’t need glue or cement for this process – just stack the three tiers securely so that they won’t fall over. You can enjoy this the same day you build it!
 
Square Metal Firepit
Not all firepits need to be made from brick or stones! If you prefer a sleeker, more modern look consider purchasing metal sheets and placing them in a square somewhere in your backyard. Place mud inside the square and around it as well. You can use square tiles to make a base around the pit.
 
Which firepit sounds like your favourite? Do you have one in your backyard? Let us know how you built yours!

How To Make An Offer On A House

August 31, 2020














It makes sense that the listing price of a property is ideally what a homeowner would like for their home, if not more. But how did they arrive at that price? And is it worth offering something different than what is being asked? 

Here are just a few examples as to why a home is priced the way that it is:

  • A seller listened to their real estate agent’s advice on the home’s value based on comparable homes in the neighbourhood
  • A seller is in financial distress and will accept any offer that comes their way to repay their debts
  • A seller is emotionally attached to their current home and has placed significant monetary value on their home to match their personal attachment
  • A seller needs a specific amount of money for their home so they can buy their next home
 
As a buyer, you may never truly know the reason why a seller lists the value that they do. But these are important things to consider when putting in your offer. Remember, that the offer you put in on a property may not be your final offer. It is very common for negotiations to take place between the buyer and the seller. If you offer too low, you will insult the seller and they might end all hope for future negotiations. If you offer too high, you risk getting a good deal on your future home. Here’s what you can do to mitigate those risks:
 
  • Do some research alongside your real estate agent to see what the price of a home is in your desired neighbourhood. Pay attention to what adds or detracts value to that neighbourhood.
  • Don’t be afraid to interview your REALTOR®! While the seller might not easily offer why they are selling their home, your real estate agent might have an idea – or at least, they might have an idea of how badly the seller wants to sell their property. These factors can help you determine what a reasonable offer could be on the home.
  • Notice if any recent renovations have been done to the home. It is likely that if there have been renovations, the seller will keep the costs of those renovations in mind when you make your offer.
 
Generally speaking, an appropriate starting offer can be between 5% - 8% below the listing price. However, before you walk into an offer, it is important to sit down with whomever you are purchasing the home with, as well as your real estate agent on what your hard limits are. It is entirely possible that you will enter a bidding war on the property and emotional attachment can lead to you wanting to offer more than you are financially capable of handling.
 
By the same token, don’t be afraid of putting an offer on an overpriced home. While it is unlikely that the seller will accept your first offer, only the negotiation phase of offer and counteroffer will show you how long the seller is willing to go for the price of the home.
 
We wish you good luck on making an offer on your next home – we hope our advice helps!
 

Ways To Save Money When Selling Your Home

August 24, 2020













Everybody loves a good deal. Especially when it comes to selling their home! While there are many ways to save money when selling your home, some are more beneficial than others. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to saving money when selling your home.
 
Cutting Commission
Some of you may know that you can negotiate the rate of your real estate agent’s commission. The industry standard is approximately 6% of the home price, evenly split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. However, it is important to remember that you pay for what you get. Most of the time we would advise not to negotiate a cut in your agent’s commission, but here are three instances where we think it’s a-okay!
 

  1. Your Agent Is Generous
    You’d be surprised but some agents actually offer discounts on their commission when selling a home. There might be instances where your home sells incredibly quickly and therefore not a lot of resources went into the marketing of your home. Or, there might be a situation where you as a seller are so incredibly swamped you can’t deal with multiple offers and you know you will take the first offer that comes your way regardless of what it is. In situations like these, it is possible that your agent will offer a discount on their commission.
     
  2. You’re A Loyal Client
    If you are a long-time customer, perhaps even a customer that sells multiple properties at once, your real estate agent is likely to offer you a customary reduction in their commission. Another way this situation can crop up is if you refer several clients over to your real estate agent and they grossly benefit from those referrals. Sometimes, a reduction in commission makes good business sense!
     
  3. You Ask – With A Justification
    While some agents are happy to offer a discount, others might not be as quick to do so. However, if not getting a discount is a deal-breaker for you, then it is worth asking your potential real estate agent. If you know you live in a neighbourhood where properties sell very quickly or have multiple properties to sell, it doesn’t hurt to ask. The worst is that you will receive a no.
 
Here is why we think asking for a rate cut in commission isn’t always a good idea. When one of the above instances occur it naturally makes good business sense. You are fostering good will and increasing opportunities for your real estate agent whom you might use in the future. But if a real estate agent is regularly cutting their fees to make any business that comes their way, they are on a one-way ticket to a starvation diet. Real estate agents provide an important service to our society. The way we don’t regularly ask for discounts from our dentist is how we should view real estate agents. While there are definitely instances where it can be justified to lower commission rates, it is important to consider whether that situation is appropriate. If you do think you are eligible for a commission rate discount, you could save yourself thousands of dollars when selling your home!

How To Keep Your Personal Items Safe When Selling

August 17, 2020










While we are in the age of COVID, it is less likely that you will have open houses or showings – this does not mean that your personal belongings are 100% safe! Unfortunately, potential buyers are not the only people who may be interested in your home – especially what’s inside. Here are some things to do to protect your personal items while that “for sale” sign is in front of your home.
 
Stow Your Valuables
Anything that you hold dear, like jewellery, money – even prescription drugs – should be locked away. You don’t necessarily need to stow it in an off-site storage, but your laptop, tablets and other electronics should be removed from plain sight.
 
Don’t Go It Alone
There may come a time where a potential buyer will want to see your home but it conflicts with your real estate agent’s schedule. In this case, don’t be a hero and show your home yourself. Always have a friend, family member, or ideally your real estate agent help you show your home to prospective buyers. You’ll feel safer and a real estate agent will know how to show off your home’s best assets.
 
Make Appointments Mandatory
We get it, you never want to turn down a prospective buyer because what if they were “the one”? We’re here to tell you that if someone is really interested in your home, they will not be dissuaded by having to make an appointment to view your home. If they show up unannounced and demand a viewing and won’t reschedule, they’re not a serious buyer!
 
Schedule Daytime Showings
Not only should you make sure that appointments are mandatory, but you should make sure that the appointments happen while there is still daylight. This will make your home appear brighter and airier, and it will also keep you and your belongings safe. The more visible your home is, the less likely something nefarious could happen. If you must show your home in the evening, make sure all of your blinds are curtains are open, as well as keep your home well-lit inside and out.
 
Give Out Your Details
Before the showings begin, make sure you have written down a confirmed visit list, complete with the prospective buyer’s contact information. Share this with a friend or family member who is not helping you show the property (i.e. someone not in the house). Always carry your phone on you and check in with your friend or family member between viewings. It never hurts to be too careful!
 
Install A Security System
Many homes are already equipped with alarm systems or security cameras. Having a security system, while normal, if too overt can scare off some prospective buyers. You want to find a healthy balance between raising the value of your home by investing in a smart home security system that mainly makes everyone in the house feel safe. Too much security can make a prospective buyer think you live in an unsafe neighbourhood.
 
At the end of the day, most people who want to enter your home for a showing are genuinely interested! The above precautious are just that – do not assume every person that comes through your door is dangerous. Happy selling and stay safe!
 

Why You Should Stage Your Home

August 10, 2020














In order to get the best price for you home, you need to market it in the best way possible. A real estate agent who specializes in your neighbourhood will be able to highlight and accentuate the best features of your home in marketing materials. However something that makes a real estate agent’s life easier – and your bank account happier is staging. You might think, especially with Coronavirus people are more relaxed when it comes to home shopping. We have found the people’s tastes and expectations in a home’s presentation haven’t changed. With 3D virtual tours available for most well-marketed homes, the right staging can set your home apart from the competition.
 
So what is staging?
 
Staging is visual merchandising that draws on some of the fundamentals of interior design to flatter the property without being too obvious about it. Think about it as being dressed without drawing particular attention to what you’re wearing. A well-staged home will not have personal touches to it. It will be one step better than an empty home because potential homeowners can easily envision themselves in the space. They are seeing the home at its highest potential with its best features highlighted.
 
Why should I stage?
 
We admit that staging is a relatively new phenomenon. If you sold a home 20 years ago, a good deep clean and declutter was all you needed. Today, how a home is marketed is what gives it a leg up over a vast market. With open houses, virtual tours, still photos and a host of other marketing campaigns the honest truth is – if you’re not staging your house you will struggle to compete over the countless others that do.
 
A good stager can give you a return on investment of 5% up to as much as 20%! Staging your home is dressing it for success.
 
Will staging affect how long my house is on the market?
Here’s a hard truth we need to hit you with – the average home that is not staged sits on the market for an average of 143 days. That’s almost five months!
 
Homes that switched to staging after sitting on the market for almost five months managed to sell in 40 days after!
 
Our favourite fact to share with you? If you stage your home pre-listing your home is on the market for an average of 23 days. That is a HUGE difference!
 
How much should I spend on staging?
This question doesn’t have a straight answer because there are a lot of variables involved. You need to take into account the city that you live in, where the property is located, if the property is currently vacant or being lived in. A vacant property needs a fair amount of furniture, stagers equate it to looking at yourself naked in the mirror – you’ll notice every flaw!
 
What we do suggest is have a stager do a walk-through of your property and create a report. You’ll be able to determine whether some or all of your furniture can be used for staging, whether all the rooms need to be staged, or whether only some of them need to be done. Some stagers charge by the hour, others have a set fee. Whatever you go for make sure you are very clear about all the terms of the contract, including initial fee timing and additional costs including furniture rentals.
 
So what’s the scoop on staging? You’ve got everything to lose by NOT doing it!
 

Selling Your Home After Stage 3 Restrictions Lifted Of The Coronavirus

August 4, 2020














2020 has been a whirlwind of a year to say the least. All the plans we may have crafted at the beginning of the year now seem to be out the window because we don’t know what’s going to happen next. Many of you might have considered putting your home up for sale this year and are unsure of how to proceed going forward. Now that Toronto has entered Stage 3, here are some things to consider if you still plan to sell or buy a home this year.
 

  1. Remember that mortgage rates are volatile right now
    As restrictions continue to be lifted, mortgage rates will settle. However, just as new outbreaks and a second wave occurs, so, too, will mortgage rates fluctuate. If you are looking to buy a house this year, it is recommended that you prepare for rates to change and to do your best to remain flexible.
     
  2. Start the process as early as possible
    The home buying process is currently taking a different path than it normally does. Sometimes this can result in a longer process than usual. To prevent the fewest hiccups and bumps along the way, we recommend working with your lender as early as possible – even before the offer is accepted if possible.

    Part of the reason behind this is because many homeowners have turned to their lenders to refinance their home throughout the pandemic. This has inundated many lenders. While they will be able to help you out, they may need a little more time than usual. Patience is key here.

    Another part of the process that has been slowed down has been the appraisal side. Typically, appraisers have to physically go out and see the house in question to appraise it. However, in spite of Stage 3, not everyone is fully comfortable or capable of letting strangers into their home.

    Therefore, if you are looking to buy or sell a home the best advice is to start as early as possible.
     
  3. Go virtual wherever possible
    While open houses were adored by many, to ensure everyone’s safety we strongly encourage virtual 3D open houses and house tours. While it cannot replace an in-person visit, new technology has made it possible to take infinitely more angles of a property than you could imagine. Virtual tours are far better than pictures and work as a great intermediary step before finding time that works with yours and the homeowner’s schedule to view a property.
     
  4. Find a real estate broker who takes the coronavirus seriously
    Yes, we’re surprised we had to say this but sadly there are some people out there who are not taking this pandemic as seriously as others. To ensure the safest experience when buying or selling a home in stage 3 we recommend checking out the real estate agent’s website and even scheduling an online or over-the-phone interview with them so you can learn what that agent is doing to ensure the safest experience when buying or selling a home.
 
We know that these are unchartered waters we are currently navigating – it is okay to feel nervous and have lots of questions. We encourage you to reach out to us with any questions that you may have if you are thinking of buying or selling a home during coronavirus.

What Does A Real Estate Agent Do During The Day?

July 27, 2020













Especially since the onset of COVID, there has been no such thing as a typical day for real estate agents. However, just as many professions do not have a typical day, there are still typical tasks and responsibilities they carry out. Here is what a day in the life of a real estate agent could look like so that you can get a better sense of who you are working with.
 
But First, What Is A Real Estate Agent?
A real estate agent is a licensed professional who helps people sell and buy property. This can be personal residences, commercial offices, and everything in between. Real estate agents work through a brokerage for themselves. This means that while all real estate agents technically belong to a network of other agents, each REALTOR® works according to their own schedule, independently.
 
What Do They Do In The Office?
A common term to explain what REALTOR®s do in their office or during their office time (as most of us are working from home now) is administrative duties. As the purchase or sale of a property is, at its core, a legal transaction of property there is inevitably a lot of paperwork involved. Administrative duties cover a lot of this paperwork such as drawing up contracts, document submission/filing and drafting listings. In addition to this real estate agents create and update listings on the MLS, respond to emails and phone calls, and schedule their budget and time.
 
Marketing and Lead Generation
Of course, a real estate agent wouldn’t have any of the above administrative duties if they did not have clients. This is why a significant portion of a real estate agent’s day is building and establishing their network through marketing and lead generation. This is done in a variety of ways: they can produce marketing materials as traditional pamphlets and brochures, as email broadcasts, posts to social media, blogs, vlogs, etc. They use tactics such as search engine optimization when developing their content so that the right people find their website or social media. As you can see – networking isn’t just done in person!
 
Research
In order to stand out from amongst the crowd and have captivating marketing and lead generation which leads to strong sales, you need to do your research. A good portion of a real estate agent’s day involves reviewing inventory changes, staying on top of any updates or developments in market reports as well as legal and regulatory changes.
 
Client Appointments
This part has changed the most since the Coronavirus swept the world. The profession of real estate is a client-oriented and client-facing career. Before, a great amount of time was spent hosting open houses, attending showings, taking photos of listings, staging, inspections and much more. Now, real estate agents are keeping physical interaction to a minimum for the safety of themselves and their clients, providing more 3D virtual tours and online alternatives where possible. Showings are still done in person upon request, however so don’t feel like you can’t ask for it!
 
A real estate agent’s day is colourful and filled with twists and turns. They wear many hats and are always investing in themselves and their education to serve you better.
 

How To Attract Birds To Your Yard


July 20, 2020



Birds are wonderful creatures. They add melody to your outdoor spaces, they make your home feel more peaceful and they are great at taking care of gardens by eating weed seeds and unwanted insects! 

Bubbles and Drips
All birds love water. Many of us know of bird fountains but are weary of using them as stagnant water can attract mosquitoes. A great way to attract birds is to let them hear the water you have for them in your garden through either a small drip hose or a fountain pump. These fixtures are inexpensive and can easily be found online.
 
“Smorgasbird”
Not all birds eat the same food, therefore, if you want to attract a variety of birds to your back yard you will need to offer a variety of food types. The best and most natural way to attract birds is to plant plants that carry berries, seeds and attract insects. However, if you prefer to use a feeder here are some types of bird food that you should consider filling in your feeder:
 
Seed Mixes: These are popular for beginner bird watchers because these are premade mixes that carry a variety of seeds for different birds. If you do opt for this route, keep in mind that birds are picky eaters. They will toss away any unwanted seeds onto your lawn. These can be picked up by ground feeding birds or squirrels – but they may also end up rooting into your lawn and sprouting!
 
Nectar: Nectar is sugar water that is a commonly used to attract hummingbirds. You will need to put this in a special hummingbird feeder as hummingbirds will not eat out of a traditional bird feeder.
 
Black-Oil Sunflower Seeds: These seeds are the most popular seeds for good reason! They attract chickadees, nuthatches, finches, sparrows, cardinals and blue jays to your yard.
 
Thistle or Nyjer Seeds: If you love goldfinches, this is one of the best ways to attract them. Either of these seeds are small, high quality seeds that can only be eaten by finches. If you intend to use these seeds ensure you are using a smaller holed bird feeder that is catered to finches.
 
Suet: This isn’t just a great fat that humans use in cooking – it’s a healthy source of protein for birds. Suet is an especially great source of nutrition for birds in the winter months when food is scarce. The best way to use this to attract birds to your yard is to incorporate it with a seed mixture of your choice and to serve it in suet cages.
 
Havens and Hideaways
Have you ever seen how a bird eats from a bird feeder? First they sit on a nearby branch to observe the feeder before approaching it. Then they will fly for a quick snack and dash back to their safety branch. As time goes by and they feel safer with the bird feeder they will stay by it, but until then it is important to place your bird feeder nearby a branch, bush or safe hideaway for your birds to eat stress-free.
 
Do you have any other tricks for attracting birds to your yard? Join in on the conversation and let us know!
 

How To Stop Toys From Overflowing Your House

July 13, 2020














It’s a nightmare that every parent faces – trying to walk around your house while not stepping on a surprisingly sharp piece of Lego. Here is a guide that can help you still create a home that invites play without feeling like it’s completely taken over the house. 

Keep Some Toys Within Reach, Others Out Of Sight or Higher Up
When you keep all toys within reach, everything ends up everywhere. There’s too much choice for your kiddos and they either get overwhelmed or they can’t focus on one toy.
 
If you have toys that belong to sets, such as trains, Lego, etc. try putting these in in boxes so that you can prevent pieces from getting mixed up or lost. Once they’re in a box (preferably with a lid) you can stick them at the bottom of a book shelf or a closet. This way, if they want to play with the toy, they have to ask you first and you can both pick it out together (which can add to the fun of playing).
 
If you have board games these can easily be kept in boxes on shelves slightly out of reach. Often these games have lots of small pieces that can either be choking hazards or easily lost. You can make it a family rule that these do not get removed from the shelf without asking.
 
If you’re worried that the set up you currently have means that your children are only playing with the same toys over and over, you can rotate every month, every season – whatever you prefer – so that there will always be some toys out of reach while stimulating your kids.
 
Don’t Be Sentimental About Toys If The Kids Aren’t
This is a tough one. You might remember the first toy they grabbed, or the toy they were holding when they took their first steps. Some toys will absolutely have sentimental value and I wholeheartedly think these should be kept. However, it is important to remember that not every toy (in fact, most toys) do not have sentimental value.
 
One thing that we as parents tend to conflate is the price of a toy with its sentimental value. Just because a toy was expensive does not mean it is valuable. If they’re not playing with it you can either donate it or try to sell it on Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji!
 
Don’t feel bad for donating or throwing away a toy they never play with. Someone else can enjoy it instead!
 
Questions To Ask Yourself When Purging
We all have to purge toys at one point, but it can be scary to do so. It could be that we’re emotionally attached, it could be that your kid just hasn’t interacted enough with that toy to develop an attachment – who knows! Well here are three questions you should ask yourselves every single time you want to purge.
 

  1. Did someone we love gift this and is it sentimental to the giver?
  2. Is this a toy that never gets played with?
  3. Would the kids even notice if it was gone?
 
If the answer to all of these questions is no – donate! If the answer to these questions is two nos and a yes, - donate! If there is more than one yes, consider keeping it for another six months before re-evaluating.
 
This is just a snapshot of what you can do to prevent overflowing toys in your home. We hope you found this helpful! Let us know if you have any other tips and tricks.
 

Ways To Refresh Your Space

July 6, 2020













COVID has had most of us spending a lot more time at home than we normally would have. In that time you may have noticed that some parts of your home could do with a refresh. With our shopping restricted to mostly online, here are some ways you can refresh your space that are easy and affordable.
 
Clean, Declutter & Organize
Many people think refreshing their space inevitably means buying new and more things. That isn’t always the case! Sometimes, all we need is a deep clean. By decluttering and organizing your space, you can see what is working in the space, what isn’t, and what you need to improve it.
 
Reimagine Your Layout
In organizing your space, you might need to zoom out so much that you need to reimagine your layout. Consider the size of your furniture – are they appropriate for the space? Are they in the right place? Try rearranging your pieces to see how the room can suit your needs better than it is now. Some pieces don’t fit nicely and you may need to get rid of them altogether! Rearranging your furniture can make you feel like you have a brand new room that is open and airy – try it!
 
Restyle
Styling is the finishing touches you add to the surfaces in your home – think couches, console tables, bookshelves and counters. Clear all of these spaces and see what little bits and bobs can update your space without breaking your budget.
 
Spruce Up Your Walls
Painting, while affordable, can be exhausting and time consuming. A great way to spruce up your walls if you don’t feel like painting is to try removable wallpaper. There are so many beautiful graphics and trendy patterns that you can play with in your room that will punch up any space. Who needs to pay for an interior designer when you can pick out a statement wall paper for an accent wall or a whole room? And if you don’t like it, you can easily take it down because it’s removable!
 
Update Window Treatments
Window treatments are usually the last thing we decorate because we see windows more as utilitarian and less as part of the home’s style. This doesn’t have to be the case! Changing your window coverings can make a huge impact in the design of your room and can frame your outside like a beautiful picture. There are plenty of options to play with here – you can go for woven wood shades, California shutters, graphic curtains, sheers – the world is your oyster.
 
Switch Out Dated Hardware And Finishes
Replacing your entire cabinetry is expensive. A great way to breathe new life into an old or dated space is to change your cabinet pulls and handles in the kitchen and bathroom! This is a relatively affordable reno that you can easily do in a day. We recommend opting for brass or matte black knobs to make your home feel more modern – but the options are limitless. Just make sure that whatever you pick will fit in your existing cabinet holes. If you really want to get fancy, consider updating your faucets, towel bars, door handles and toilet paper rings in the same way!
 
As you can see, the sky is the limit when it comes to affordable refreshes. These little changes can make a huge difference. Be sure to share with us your newly refreshed space!

Summer Cleaning 101

June 29, 2020














Many people have heard of spring cleaning, but have you heard of summer cleaning? There’s actually a few things that really could use your fine touch this summer!
 
Clean Out Your Garage
If you have a garage, or a storage locker (if you own a condo), this is the time to go through everything in this space. We tend to throw everything in here when we don’t know where else to put things and it shows. So first thing’s first – take everything out of this space. There should be nothing left in this space when you are done. When the space is completely empty sort the contents of your room into five piles. The first pile are things you want to keep, the second are things you want to sell, the third are things you want to donate, the fourth are things you want to toss and the fifth are things you want to store.
 
Things you want to keep are things you will use regularly, things you want to store are things you use a few times a year but do not need to be as easily accessible as the things you use regularly.
 
After you’ve divided everything into piles, clean the entire space before you go ahead and put everything back. This will be the easiest way to clean this space! Vacuum the floors, dust out any dust bunnies or spider webs. Sweep and mop!
 
When everything is clean, it is crucial that you organize your things before you put them back. When you have a rhyme and reason to how and where you place your items, it will be easier to access and find these things when you need them.
 
Window Maintenance
Over the winter your windowsills will collect a lot of dirt and debris build up. If left untreated, this build up can prevent your window from shutting as tightly as it could which means the heating and cooling of your home can become inefficient. You will want to first brush and wipe your window and windowsills clean before creating a tighter seal.
 
Another great way to look after your windows in the summer is to replace the weather stripping. Weather stripping helps to keep the outside out and stops moisture from getting into your home. As time develops, this weather stripping fades and can loosen your windows. This is an easy fix by running to your local home improvement store. While you’re here, this might also be a good opportunity to replace any caulking around your window that you notice is getting worn!
 
If, however, you notice that despite the dirt and debris, despite the weather stripping and caulking, your windows still look worse for wear – you  might consider a larger home improvement project. You may need to completely replace your windows. The good thing is that any new window will be much more energy-efficient than your current ones! It is also good to keep in mind that when you replace your windows you do not need to replace all your windows at once. Do what works within your budget and appreciate that new, energy-efficient windows will in time pay for themselves with the savings you will make due to their energy efficiency!
 
Did you find this helpful? Let us know what other summer cleaning projects you have in store!

Tips For Moving During COVID

June 22, 2020












Moving during COVID isn’t an ideal situation – no one really wants to do it, but you may have to! Here are some important tips we’ve learned along the way that will hopefully make your move safer and easier.

Do It Yourself – Use A Moving Container!
The best way to ensure as little contamination is to move by yourself. While this can be more challenging than hiring movers, it is the safest and most convenient option. You can move using a moving container where you are in complete control of your move. When using a moving container, you will be the only one packing and handling your belongings – and you are the only one in possession of the key to the moving container. Once the container is fully locked and loaded, a truck driver will deliver the container to your new home, but will they will have minimal, if any contact with either the container or you. 

Use A Rental Truck
If you want absolutely extremely minimal contact with others when you move, consider renting a moving truck for your move. You will load and unload everything yourself, and you will be the one driving the truck! The only person you will come in contact with is the person who hands you the keys when you pick up and drop off the truck. 

Full Service Movers
Many people love using traditional movers because they take all the hard work of moving away from you. Their labourers will help you with packing, loading, unpacking and unloading. If this is your preferred method, but you are cautious as to social distancing measures, call ahead and ask a few questions such as:
 

  • What kind of safety equipment are your staff using for COVID? Is this equipment mandatory for all labourers?
  • Are staff being monitored for symptoms and being encouraged to stay home if they are not feeling well?
  • Can a virtual walk through of the home be performed in order to quote the move instead of a traditional one?
  • What written policies are available that you can hold labourers and staff accountable to regarding cleaning and sanitizing practices during moving?
Deep Clean
The last thing you should do when you move out of your current home is to deep clean it for the new people to move in. While they will perform their own deep clean, this gives them a layer of assurance when they walk in. The same can be said when you move into your new home. Before you unpack anything, do a thorough deep clean of your new home so you know that everything that is being unpacked will not be contaminated by any new surfaces.

The Government of Canada is not yet certain how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces, our research has found that it can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. This is why sanitization is so crucial – especially when you do the entire house at once so there is no potential for transfer. We hope you are safe during your move! If you need any further tips please do not hesitate to reach out.

Increase Your Home’s “Screen Appeal”

June 15, 2020














It is without question that COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives. Simple things that we once took for granted, such as viewing a home in person, now comes with more complications. However, pandemic or not, people still need to move house. In order to stand out from amongst the sea of online listings, you need to increase your home’s “screen appeal” – that is to say, it’s online presence and marketing. Here are some sure fire tips you need to have in your arsenal to increase your home’s “screen appeal”.
 
Declutter Your Home
The first impression a buyer will have of your home will be your home’s images. While you may not be able to get professional stagers to come in, you can stage your own home on a tight budget. One way to go about this is to aggressively declutter your home. Put away your children’s toys, recycle any newspapers and magazines that are lying around your home.
 
De-Personalize Your Home
If you have personal items such as family photographs and knickknacks, carefully store these away. Personal items personalize a home. When a home is personalized specifically to you, it becomes very difficult for a potential buyer to envision the home as one day theirs if they are constantly bombarded with your personal items.
 
Consider How Your Home Will Be Virtually Seen
Some people prefer to only display still shots of their home, others want to create a more immersive experience by offering a virtual tour of their home. These virtual tours can be done in a variety of ways. They can be done livestreamed or recorded with something as simple as your smartphone. They can also be done with virtual reality cameras that provide 360 degree views of every aspect of your home.
 
Be Your Own Analyst
Another great way to stage your space is to take photos of your home and analyse them before throwing them up online. What can you do to improve the layout as viewed in the image? If you are planning to do a video tour of your home (live or recorded), try doing a practice run with a friend first to get their opinion on how they are viewing your home through a screen. You will want to create a clear path so the tour appears very smooth.
 
Try Virtual Staging
Have you heard of virtual staging? Some people might not live in a fully furnished home. It can be expensive to purchase furniture (even if you will return it after you take photos of it in your home). One option you can try is virtual staging. There are programs you can use online that digitally add furniture to your space. This technology has come a long way and can make your home look much more attractive than an empty space ever could!
 
These are just a few ways you can increase your home’s “screen appeal”. If you are looking for more ideas or direct help, please feel free to reach out to us!
 

What To Look For When Buying Your First Condo

June 8, 2020














Are you thinking about buying a condo but don’t know how to start? Here are some important tips to help you find your new dream home!

Make Sure A Condo Is The Right Fit For You
The condo lifestyle is very different than a freehold home. You will be a lot closer to your neighbours – is this something that you will feel comfortable with? Also take into consideration that you will have vastly fewer home chores to do, but it will come at the cost of monthly condo fees. Neither of these things are bad, but it is important to consider what kind of lifestyle you envision for yourself. 

Hire A Condo Real Estate Agent
Every real estate agent has a speciality. Some are very familiar with a specific neighbourhood, others have a niche with a certain demographic. If you are interested in purchasing a condo you will want someone who knows condos inside and out and who can be your ally in your search for the perfect condo for you. 

Understand What Comes With A Condo Purchase
Not all condos come with the same things. Important things you will need to ask your real estate agent are:

  • Does the unit come with a parking space? If so, is the parking covered in a garage or exposed to the elements?
  • Does the unit offer additional storage?
  • Does the building offer guest parking?

When it comes to parking, another great question to ask your real estate agent if is the current owner is using the parking space or if it is being rented out. Many condo owners will either have one or two parking spots and they may rent one or both of them. If they do rent them out to someone else, inquire as to the terms of the contract and whether you would like to continue the rental with the tenant or whether you can break the contract easily so you can have the spot for yourself. 

What Is Included In The Condo Fee?
Depending on the condo you will encounter either monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual condo fees. These fees generally cover common expenses such as insurance and maintenance. Always ask for the financial statements of the condo corporation so you can see what their reserve fund looks like. The healthier that reserve fund, the safer you can feel as a condo owner in the building. You never know when an emergency repair needs to be made, like a roof replacement. That is what the reserve fund is for. 

In addition to paying into the reserve fund, your condo fees could also cover a few other things pertaining to your building. Inquire as to whether it will cover landscaping, snow removal, water, sewer services, trash pickup, road maintenance – even heating and electric! It can also include amenities such as fitness centres, pools, movie theatre rooms, patios, etc. Make sure that you are comfortable not only with what the fees are and what they cover, but that you are also comfortable with them increasing over time (as they inevitably will!).

We hope this helps you start your journey with hunting for your first condo. Let us know if you have any more questions! We’d love to help you find the condo of your dreams.

What To Look For When Buying Your First Condo















June 1, 2020

Whether you are looking to buy your first home or are considering downsizing, it is important to note that there are some distinct differences when buying a condo compared to a freehold home. Here are some important things we think you ought to consider:
 
Presale Condos
 
Customization: Similar to a pre-construction home, you have a lot of choice in a pre-sale condo. You can select the kind of suite you want (as a condo will offer a variety), and you can choose your interior finishes as well as colour schemes.
 
A great thing to remember about buying a pre-sale condo is that by putting down a deposit well in advance you can have as much as three years to save up for a down payment! This way, you can have time to save up for the condo of your dreams while getting as close to a custom home as possible given your budget! Just make sure that if you do buy a pre-sale condo that you inquire about any deferred costs as these can creep up on you. It is also important to ensure that you can afford an increase in condo fees (as these will inevitably happen).
 
Resale Condos
 
What You See Is What You Get: Not everyone has the eye to envision the potential of an unfinished space. Perhaps a resale condo is the right choice for you. Walking through a unit and getting a feel for the space can help you figure out any unknowns you might face when buying a presale. You’ll be able to see the amenities first hand and get a real feel for the layout of the building as well as the unit.
 
A great tip when looking at resale condos is to ask neighbours who live in the building what their experience has been like living there. You’ll be able to quickly pick up on if there is a sense of community and what you are looking for. It is very important to remember that when buying a resale you are not granted a luxury that pre-sale condo purchasers get. If you purchase a pre-sale condo, you have a 10-day period to cancel your purchase according to the Condominium Act. Therefore, when looking at resale condos you need to be very sure that this is the condo you want and you are working with a real estate professional that you trust.
 
Regardless if you are buying a pre-sale or a resale condo, you should always have an arsenal of questions prepared when you are interested in a property. Some of these questions should be:

 

  • What are the boundaries of my unit?
  • What are my repair and maintenance responsibilities?
  • Is there money in the condo’s reserve fund?
  • How many rentals or mixed-use units are there?
  • What are the monthly condo fees?
  • What are the rules to live by in this condo?
 
Switching to condo lifestyle can be the perfect lifestyle change for you and your family right now. If you want to learn more about how to ensure you’re considering everything you need to when buying a condo please don’t be shy and contact us for more info!

Starting A Flower Garden

May 25, 2020














Some people prefer herb gardens, other vegetables. But what if you just want a garden that smells and looks pretty? Here are some tips on starting a flower garden.
 
Pick A Site
Not all garden areas are the same. Some have more light, some get more wind. Pick a site that works for you knowing that you need to find plants that like that type of environment.
 
Understand Your Soil
There are many kinds of soil – and we’re not talking about the ones you can buy from your local garden centre. Dig up some soil (about one foot deep) and put some in a jar to take to your local garden centre. They’ll be able to tell you what kind of soil you have and what kind of soil you might need to purchase to have a successful flower garden.
 
Research Your Flowers
Some people dream about hydrangeas. They don’t care about any other flower they just want hydrangeas in their garden. However, when they go to plant their dream flower and it wilts there is confusion as to what happened. You need to research the flowers you like and understand what is their best living conditions. Some plants need a lot of light, some are fine with shade. Pick flowers based on the location of your garden in your yard and the kind of soil you have. You might not get your dream flower but you will get beautiful ones!
 
Create Your Colour Palette
When choosing from a variety of flowers, you want there to be unity. Pick one flower that will bring together your landscape while using variations and different tones of that same colour throughout the rest of your garden. This is perfect for beginners or for people who are afraid of colour clashing. If you are feeling a little bit bolder, create a garden based on complimentary colours. Complimentary colours are opposites on the colour wheel. For example, red and green will create a lot of juxtaposition, as will purple and yellow and orange and blue.
 
Design With Shape
Once you’ve established your colour palette, now is a great time to figure out which shapes of flowers you want. An excellent way to add depth and dimension is to mix flowers of different shapes and see if they work well together. Some will clash, some will dynamically work together. Let yourself be creative! Just make sure that when you do land on colours and shapes that you plant them in layers rather than a traditional layered staircase to create dimension. You can easily visually lose plants in the back.
 
Create Peaceful Areas
In order for a garden to catch your eye there needs to be places for your eyes to rest. Otherwise nothing will stand out! If you are the type who wants lots of colour in your garden and not just two or three, create space between your pockets of colours with neutral plants and colours.
 
We hope you enjoyed these tips on starting a flower garden! Be sure to share pictures of your gardens with us and any other tips you’ve learned along the way.

How To Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal This Spring

May 19, 2020













We’re crossing our fingers that was the last snow we’ll see until winter. Now that spring is finally peeking its head out, let’s figure out how to improve our home’s curb appeal! Whether it’s because you’ve got extra time on your hands because of quarantine, or you want to improve the value of your home before you list it – here are some changes you can easily do.
 
Trim Your Shrubs
Many of us have shrubs growing tall on our property. A well-maintained shrub can dramatically uplift your home. By giving your shrubs a flat-top trim they can stop obscuring windows and highlight the full view of your home.
 
Use Planters
If your home tends to be on the barren side of decoration spectrum outdoors, consider adding some greenery. By adding planters, the home will have layers of definition and will look more inviting. Some great plants to put in planters are juniper, Hicks Yew or boxwoods.
 
Pressure Wash
This may be one of the greatest tools you can wield in the improvement of your curb appeal. Grime, mould and algae grow in places you can’t even see until you pressure wash. Use this on your driveway, walkways, siding, decks and patios and you can shave years off your home!
 
Paint Your Front Door
We cannot stress enough the power of painting your front door with a pop of colour. The window is the main portal to your home, choose something interesting and inviting! Even if the rest of your home doesn’t reflect that bright colour, the contrast will pay off.
 
Upgrade Your Porch Light
Let’s be honest, most of our front porch lights are covered in cobwebs and probably trapped in the 90s. This is a quick and simple way to update your home. You can go down the modern route and update your home’s look with a matte black fixture. Alternatively, you can lean into your home’s architecture and go for a more vintage look and find something more rustic. Either way, a porch light can add those important details that make your house a home.
 
Add A Wreath
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas. A nice wreath that represents the season we’re in will make your home feel homey. As we’re enjoying spring right now, a great wreath for this season will have a lot of fresh and green details to it.
 
Add Porch Seating
If your home is one of the lucky homes to have a front porch, you are doing a disservice to your home by not having porch seating! Shopping online you have plenty of options to choose from! Whether it’s new or used, you can add a rocker, a metal chair, even a porch swing to make your home friendlier. It’s also a great spot for potential buyers to sit and think about whether they want to submit an offer!
 
These are just some of the ways you can easily update your home’s curb appeal this spring during quarantine. Will you be trying of these projects? Let us know and don’t be afraid to show off your hard work!

How To Landscape Your Home

May 11, 2020














Many people put landscaping at the bottom of their list when it comes to designing their home. Yet curb appeal is one of the most important aspects to selling a home! We’re here to show you how using the same principles you use to design the interior of your home can apply to how you landscape your home.
 
Determine The Functionality Of The Space
What would you like your backyard to be? Do you want to grow some vegetables? Do you want to use a part of it as an entertaining space? Do your kids need somewhere to play and get out all of their energy? Draw a few rough sketches of your backyard and plot out possible layouts of what your space could look like.
 
When drawing your layout sketches, consider the sun and wind patterns of your backyard. If you want to place a patio, you might want to put it on the west side of your home where it will get lots of afternoon sun. However, it is important to note that if you plan on having dinner guests over in August, this part of the home won’t be relaxing – it will be just hot. If you are thinking about putting a fire pit into your backyard make sure it’s not in a part of the backyard that gets a lot of wind as that will quickly and regularly extinguish any fires you try to make.
 
Test Out Your Design
Once you’ve created a plan that you feel comfortable with, test it out! Sometimes, the only way to learn if something works for you or your family is if you try it out. The more time you spend outdoors the more you’ll appreciate which parts of your yard get the most light and which need extra attention.
 
Start Small
HGTV has skewed many people’s minds. Yes, in three days it is possible to have a completely redesigned front yard and back yard. However, you might not realize they have a crew of 60 doing all that intensive work! Enjoy the process of building a garden or defining a space. Start small – that way you can see what you like and easily correct it if you don’t. Avoid all shortcuts because it is very easy to make a garden look sloppy.
 
Create A Focal Point
The key to a well-defined space is a focal point, or a series of focal points. This could be a sculpture, a tree, a series of shrubs. Plant or place something in your yard that will draw your eyes. To ensure that this piece is your focal piece ensure that there are variations in size, shape and colour in your yard. A great suggestion would be to put your tall plants against the brick wall of your home or in the back of a flower bed and create paths that lead up to that space.
 
Has this got your green thumb going? We’d love to see what your ideas for your front and back yard will look like!

Starting Your Veggie Garden

May 4, 2020














Spring has finally arrived! And now that we all have lots more time on our hands with quarantine, now is the perfect time to start your veggie garden! Garden fresh vegetables are amazing. Not only is it a rewarding hobby, but you will have better tasting produce than your grocery store! This is also a great way to avoid going to the grocery store at this time.
 
So how do you start?
 
Choosing A Location For Your Veggie Garden
Choosing the wrong place to start your veggie garden could result in sub-par veggies. You will want a space that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. (Though it is important to note that there are a few veggies that tolerate some shade – so pay special attention when you are buying seeds!)
 
Another important tip for choosing the location of your veggie garden is to avoid places that have strong winds or have high foot traffic. Heavy winds or foot traffic can knock over your sprouting veggies and prevent pollinators from pollinating your vegetables.
 
Choosing The Size Of Your Veggie Garden
While the saying is “go big or go home”, when it comes to veggie gardens you should start small. It is far better to be proud of a small, thriving vegetable garden than be frustrated by an overwhelmingly large one! Plant your garden with care, planting too much too soon could result in you having zucchini to feed your neighbourhood three times over! Plant only what you know you will eat rather than what you think you will eat.
 
If you belong to a family of four, a great beginner-sized veggie garden will be 11 rows wide with each row being ten feet long. Make sure that your rows run north and south so they take full advantage of the sun. The size of this garden will easily feed your family of four for a whole summer with a little leftover for canning, freezing or sharing with neighbours. If you feel that the size of this garden is too big or ambitious for you – go smaller! Remember, start as small as you feel comfortable with. You can always build up, but scaling back is trickier.
 
Make sure that when you are creating your rows you are created paths that allow you to weed and harvest your plants. Four feet is the farthest you want to be without access to a plant.
 
Choosing Your Soil
Pay attention to what soil you use. You will want to use moist, well-drained soil. If your soil is poorly drained and forms pools of water, you will need to plant your veggies in a raised bed. If the soil you are using is rocky you will need to remove the rocks as well, as this can also dry up your soil.
 
Choosing Your Vegetables
An obvious suggestion is to choose vegetables that you and your family like to eat! Don’t imagine that all of a sudden if you grow brussels sprouts you will automatically start liking them. Grow what you already know you like. Another great suggestion is to grow things that are not as readily available in your grocery store. While cabbage and carrots will always be in ample supply at your local grocery store, tomatillos might not be. However, certain home-grown veggies taste far better than the grocery store, so if you are looking for that garden fresh taste you should definitely try growing lettuce and tomatoes! Growing your own herbs means your dishes will have heaps more flavour for a fraction of what they cost you in the grocery store. Most importantly – make sure you invest in your seeds! Cheap seeds will yield in less than stellar vegetables. Invest in your garden and it will yield amazing results.
 
Every region has a different planting time based on weather so you will want to look up your local Almanac to see your area’s gardening calendar.
 
What will you be planting in your veggie garden? Let us know!

Things That Make A Neighbourhood Great

April 27, 2020














Great neighbourhoods don’t happen by accident. They’re not formed because coincidentally a few great people moved to the same neighbourhood and made it great. Great neighbourhoods are formed and maintained because they are built with its residents in mind.
 
A good neighbourhood is not defined by its commercial plaza, big box stores or industrial parks. While everyone requires businesses in order to function, this is not what makes a neighbourhood great. What makes a neighbourhood great is the walkability to important local amenities such as grocery stores, schools, and other simple conveniences. Another great thing to see on your walks are defining features of a neighbourhood. This could be a memorial, a monument, a walking trail or a local park. Unlike big box stores which don’t bring people together, these spaces do!
 
While walkability is crucial to a good neighbourhood, it is not the only important feature. Mobility in general is essential to understanding what makes a neighbourhood great. A great neighbourhood will have access to a safe and efficient network of transportation options. This could look like bike trails, clean bus and subway stops that are at most a 10 minute walk of anywhere. Another secret feature that people don’t appreciate is narrow streets. When streets are narrower, cars are forced to drive slower. The slower the cars drive, the safer it is for pedestrians (especially children, the elderly and the disabled) to enjoy the outdoors.
 
A great neighbourhood doesn’t provide just the bare necessities for living conditions. If all your neighbourhood provides is snow removal, garbage pickup, street cleaning, and a few sidewalks – then your neighbourhood is not great. These are the bare minimums of a great neighbourhood. One thing that can set apart a neighbourhood and go above and beyond the bare minimums is a neighbourhood hub. A neighbourhood hub can have many faces: it can be a community centre, it could be a large park, a farmer’s market or even a cultural festival that is regularly held in the neighbourhood. A great neighbourhood provides opportunities to bring people together consistently.
 
The sign of a great neighbourhood is diversity. You want to have a beautiful variety of restaurants, stores, cultures, incomes, and ages. This will inevitably create opportunities for all these groups to interact with one another and learn from each other. This may seem counterintuitive, but another marker of a great neighbourhood are its boundaries. These boundaries are not to exclude the wonderful diversity that live within it, but rather, they are defining markers of the neighbourhood. They help create internal cohesion. Great neighbourhoods fit into the larger city ecosystem.
 
Most importantly, a great neighbourhood involves cooperative decision making. As a group you can have a say about what gets built in the neighbourhood, where it gets built, etc. You all partake in a neighbourhood vision.
 
Do you agree with this list of what makes a neighbourhood great? Please let us know what you think makes your neighbourhood great!

What Happens After The Offer Is Accepted?

April 20, 2020














It’s a common sight for REALTOR®s to see: clients get so focused on finding the house of their dreams that they don’t appreciate there are quite a few steps after the acceptance of their offer. To help you from getting flustered here’s our step-by-step guide of what to accept once your offer has been accepted.
 

  1. Make Your Deposit
    Did you know that in order for your offer to become legally binding you need to provide a deposit? In Toronto, a deposit is usually around 5% of the purchase price. You can pay your deposit either through a bank draft or a certified cheque. This deposit is held in trust which means that the brokerage doesn’t have direct access to that money. They’re just holding it for you. Your deposit will likely be a different amount than your down payment and should not be mistaken for your down payment. A deposit demonstrates to the seller that you have skin in the game and are motivated to actually possess the house you’ve put an offer on.
     
  2. Waive Your Conditions
    Some offers are conditional. These conditions can be anything from a home inspection to financing. Speak with your real estate agent and your real estate lawyer to determine how you can quickly overcome these conditions.
     
  3. Talk To Your Lender
    If you are not purchasing your home with cash, you’ll need to reach out to your lender and provide them a copy of the MLS listing along with your signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale. If there are any conditions to your offer (such as financing), your lender will need to review this information before they can actually give you your mortgage for the home you’ve put an offer on.
     
  4. Get An Appraisal
    This may seem counterintuitive, but many lenders in the GTA will order you to get your house appraised before you receive your mortgage. The reason your lender does this is to confirm that you paid market value for your home. In the event that you default on your mortgage, you want to make sure that you did not grossly overpay for your home.
     
  5. Work With A Real Estate Lawyer
    Bring another copy of your Agreement of Purchase and Sale as well as your ID and hop on over to a trusted real estate lawyer so they can review your agreement and make sure there aren’t any surprises.
     
  6. Get Home Insurance
    In order to get a mortgage you will need proof that you’ve insured your home. Shop around and get multiple quotes before purchasing! There are many different prices and coverages available.
     
  7. Plan Your Re-Visits
    Generally speaking, you are allowed to visit your new home before you take possession of it. Visits are helpful, especially if you want to show off your new home to your family and friends, or you need to speak to contractors about renovations. However, you will need to coordinate first with your real estate agent before doing so. We recommend that you save one of your visits for the day before possession to ensure that the home you are moving into is in the same condition that you put an offer on it.

Did you know all these steps when it comes to what to expect after your offer is accepted? Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips or tricks that would be helpful to keep in mind!

Top Qualities Of A REALTOR®

April 14, 2020










       

During this uncertain time, you want a realtor who you can trust. While some people are putting off the sale of their homes, others need to move for a variety of reasons and do not have the regular options available to them to determine which realtor is the best to proceed with.
 
While you are calling or emailing around, we want to provide you a list that we stand by. A top quality realtor will be able to easily answer these questions well and surpass any expectations you have.
 
How Would You Describe Yourself In Three Words?
Most people ask this question when dating or making friends, but not necessarily when scoping out a REALTOR®. One word you want to look for in their answer is the word “determined” or a word that means the same thing. You want a real estate agent that is determined to succeed. If they are not dogged about your success in finding a home or selling your home, they’re not worth working with.
 
What Are Your Negotiation Skills Like?
Negotiation is a critical skill that real estate agents will need to not just learn but master in their careers. They will need to negotiate the listing price, the selling price and their commission. An excellent real estate agent should be able to reach a class on negotiation skills based on their own experiences. If you can secure a good and fair commission with your real estate agent, then you know you’ve found a good partner to work with.
 
How Tech Savvy Are You?
While in the past the sign of a good REALTOR® was not marked by their technical aptitude, today it is. If your real estate agent doesn’t know how to navigate a website run away. A top real estate agent must be using technology to best market your home or at least be willing to learn. Drones, 3D virtual tours of your home, professional photography, the use of social media – these are all hugely important marketing tools that you want your real estate agent to know and use well.
 
What Is Your Network Like?
The truth is, a real estate agent is only as good as their own network. Without connections, you won’t be able to be successful in the world of real estate. This is because if you don’t know buyers and sellers, you won’t be buying or selling property! This does not mean that your real estate agent needs to be an extrovert, but they do need to arrive early to networking events, they need to be pleasant and passionate about their work. Most importantly, they need to be follow up after making a connection to solidify that connection.

This is not a complete list of questions to best determine if the real estate agent you are interviewing is a top quality REALTOR®. However, this is a great start to find out who this real estate agent is, and what is the likelihood that they will do the job right for you. We welcome you to ask us these questions any day! Remember, for the foreseeable future please do these interviews over the phone or via email. Stay safe, healthy and at home!

Things To Do With The Family From Home














April 6, 2020

We have never spent more time in our own homes than right now. Chances are, you’ve already cleaned your house as much as you can, have seen enough Netflix to feel brain dead, and feel like you’re close to getting cabin fever. But just when you think there aren’t enough things to do with your family from home, we’ve got some ideas for you! Here are some things you might not have tried that could make for a fun family night.
 
Throw A Costume Party

Most of the time, we only wear costumes on Halloween. Host an evening with your family where everyone has to dress up to lunch or dinner in a costume. You can create a theme around your costume party by choosing a favourite movie or an era of time. Shape the food you make and the music you play around that theme as well!
 
Go On A Picnic

If you have a backyard or a balcony – throw a picnic with your family! If you don’t, have an indoor picnic in your living room. Set out a blanket and sit down with your family. If you have little ones they can help out by making the sandwiches.
 
Film a “Newscast”

Everyone has a smart phone these days. Get each person in your family to be in charge of a segment. One family member could be covering the news in sports (real or not), one person could be covering conflicts (if any family members had an argument earlier in the week), one person could do the weather, etc. Alternatively, each person could just give a newscast on what is new in their own life. Then edit the video as a family and put in fun music and watch it together!
 
Host An Indoor Scavenger Hunt

Everyone loves hunting for hidden things. Have your family try to find several places in your home through a set of cryptic clues. Once they figure out the item they need to find, place a letter in or behind each of the items they need to find. Once they’ve found each of the items, they’ll be able to spell a word. The first person to spell the word, wins the prize! (Example: “chocolate”). If you want to make thie scavenger hunt more challenging, put a time limit on how long they have to complete it.
 
Develop A Green Thumb

Whether you have a backyard or not, you can garden with your family! Now that spring is finally starting to set in Ontario, you can begin aerating the lawn, weeding, and planting seedlings. If you live in a condo, you can buy seeds online and use planters and plant your own plants in your home or on your balcony. Make sure to do your homework as a family to see what grows best given the amount of light your space has. Some plants don’t even need soil so look up air plants too!

These are just a few ideas that we thought were out of the box, but could also be lots of fun with your family. Have you done any of these so far? What great ideas have you done with your family that you’ve really enjoyed? Let us know!
 

How To Decorate Your Home Office

March 30, 2020














Many of us currently find ourselves working from home. Some for a few weeks, some for months. Whether you are here for a short while or a long while, you need to make your home office work for you. Here are some amazing tips we’ve come across to help you decorate your home office.

Organized At Home Is Different Than Organized At Work
It’s very easy to just bring things from the office home and imagine that you will be as productive with the same tools. However, our home life works very differently than an office. We don’t have access to the same giant printers, the same ample desk space or separation. Pay attention to how you use your home. If you don’t have a cup to hold your pens at home because you’re fine with keeping your pens on your side table – stick with that. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Decorating a home office doesn’t have to feel as sterile as a traditional office.

Elevate Your Décor
Not all of us will have roomy home offices. Some of us will have a small desk and a kitchen chair. However, the trick to decorating in small spaces is to decorate vertically. You can add floating shelves, you can add art. Make the space inviting for you to use so you will want to stay there and be productive.

Box Up Your Wires
Nobody likes looking at a tangled nest of wires while working. It can genuinely make you feel stressed out as you are working. You can order a wire box online, or you can look around your house for a decorative box that isn’t getting much use. If you have one, cut a hole in the back of that box and stick your router, your wires, and everything else you’d rather not see in that box. You will be amazed at how much cleaner and brighter your home office will look with this trick!

Decorate Your Home Office With Your Home In Mind
Stepping into your home office should not feel like a stark contrast to the rest of your home. That disjointed feeling can prevent you from wanting to spend time in there. If you are a lover of plants and have plants in your home, bring some of those plants into your home office. If you have decorated your home in a hygge style, adorn a cozy throw over your chair. You can incorporate your style into your home office without constraining the productivity in that space.

We appreciate this is a difficult time for everyone. We don’t know how long we’ll be working from home, and we don’t have the same means to go out and buy the things we would like to make our home office work. Many of us were plunged into this situation with little to no notice. Buy whatever you can online, or DIY with things you have within your own home. Most of all, stay healthy, safe and at home. Take care!

How To Be Productive Working From Home

March 25, 2020













In an effort to keep their employees safe, many companies are forcing their staff to work from home. If working from home is new for you, you might have noticed in the past few days that the fridge can easily become your best friend. And if you don’t have many meetings, it’s very easy to stay in your pajamas all day. Quickly the days all blend into one and you wonder how you’ll ever be productive at your job. Here are some of the best tips we could find to make sure that whether working from home comes naturally or not to you, you will stay productive:
 
Create And Maintain A Routine
One of the issues about working from home is that you don’t have to have the same routine as you do going to work. Sure, you still have to wake up on time, but your commute is now 30 seconds rather than however long it used to take you. Treat working from home like any other job, wake up half an hour to 45 minutes before your day starts, have your breakfast, take a shower, get dressed and work! After work, do your best not to stay up too late thinking you can just hit the snooze button in the morning. You can easily spiral into decision fatigue that way.
 
Create Set Working Hours
The dangers of working from home means that you can work 24 hours a day, or work hardly at all without supervision. Set fixed working hours and stick to them (see create and maintain a routine). One way to ensure your hours are adhered to is by communicating them to your team and to the people living in your home.
 
Create A Home Office
This does not mean you need to break your budget. We recognize if working from home is flung on you, you might not have the space or the funds to do so. If you already have a home office, there are ways to spruce it up so that you can make it a productive space 5 days a week. If you do not have one, find a space available to you in your home and make it a habit that you only work there. Don’t pick something too comfy like your bed or your couch as your brain associates these spaces with rest and relaxation and you don’t want to bring work stress into these spaces. Maybe your new home office is working from your kitchen table. Pick a spot and add pens, pencils, whatever you need that makes you feel productive the way your desk at work would. Avoid spending time in this space when you’re not working so your brain can see this as a productive space.
 
Distinguish Work And Non-Work Activities
It’s easy to have the cleanest house possible while working from home. Many of us practice procrastination, and when we don’t want to do our work we do other chores to feel a sense of accomplishment. While it can be okay to do housework while working from home, create a sense of balance. Maybe this means your lunch hour is when you load up the dishwasher. Make sure you have hard rules of what you will and won’t do during your work hours. Remember that your day is to work from home, not work on your home.

We know these are uncertain times we live in right now, but we are all in this together. We hope you found these tips helpful, and if you have any to share please don’t be shy! We could all learn how to be more productive from home.

Design Trends 2020

March 17, 2020
As we enter the spring weather we may want to prepare our nests for a new year. Also, if you are practicing social distancing, this is a great way to keep busy while at home! Here are some of the top design trends of 2020.







STYLES

Grandmillenial Style
This is a new term that you can expect to hear more of in the coming year. Imagine traditional design like chinoiserie mixed with natural fibre rugs. There will be lots of modern art with clean lined furniture but also some of those elements that make a home look more refined.

Fun Bathroom Design
If you had to pick one room to get crazy in, let it be your bathroom. Experiment with single print wallpaper, bright, bold colours and mismatching materials! 

Multi-Functional Spaces
Gone are the days where we preferred formal separation of spaces. Maybe it’s the fact that many people are moving into condos, maybe it’s coronavirus. Whatever the reason, workspaces and homespaces are all becoming less formal. As such, you can add multiple uses and make the most of a space! You can easily fit a closet in your home office. Just use fashion-forward décor and you’ll be golden.

FURNITURE

Layering Old and New
You are not one dimensional, so why should your home décor be? Instead of going to one store for all your design choices, get comfortable mixing and matching old and new pieces. Local souvenirs with global art. Let your home tell a story of who you are through your design choices.

Furniture with European-Inspired Details
Instead of the Scandinavian look that has been very popular for the past decade, 2020 will be all about German and Italian influences in furniture. Look for couches with sloping arms, knife-edge welts, metal legs, etc. 

Rattan and Wicker Furniture
Some thought this day would never come upon us, but here we are! This furniture is great indoors or outdoors and is a great middleman to balance modern and traditional styles.

COLOUR PALETTE

Bold Monochromatics
The 2010s were all about grey on grey. This decade is all about daring colours that are also elegant. Imagine a room entirely in cobalt blue, aubergine or even Kelly green. 

Black Painted Doors
Black is one of the biggest colours of 2020. Painting an interior door black can add a richness to the space you might not have previously envisaged. It’s a great way to add personality without being overwhelming if bold monochromatics aren’t your thing.

Painting a Room All One Colour
Accent walls are officially a thing of the past. If you are too scared to cover your entire room with a pattern or a colour, don’t do it at all. Wash your room in one paint colour or one single print. Whatever you do – be consistent and confident about it!

Real Plants
Fake plants, while pretty, easily collect dust. Investing in real plants gives personality to your space while purifying the air. Bring the outdoors in with real plants that are easy to take care of. 

Which of these design ideas is tickling your fancy this year? Let us know if you want to try any and be sure to show us some pictures of your final products!

Get Your Luxury Home Into Shape Before Selling

February 10, 2020












Not all homes are built equally. So when you are about to put your luxury home on the market, why would you treat it like any other home? You want your house to sell for a luxurious price, so you need to get your home ship-shape for a high-end market. Here is our top list of things you need to do to get luxury home into shape before selling.
 
Getting Down To Basics
 
A Fresh Coat Of Paint

This tip is true of all homes, not just luxury homes. But you would be surprised how many luxury home owners forget that even their elegant homes can have paint chips! Paint consistently ensures a great return on investment. The right colour can set the identity of your home. To give your home that luxe feel, we suggest soft grey-blues, beiges and warm browns.
 
New Year, New Floors

The second best return on investment for your luxury home in the basics category is replacing or refinishing your floors. Hardwood is still the most demanded flooring option by buyers. One of the biggest tips we can offer you is to ensure the flooring is consistent in your home. You may have great quality flooring in your kitchen and bathroom, but if you have mismatching hardwood in the house, it may actually take away from the value of your property.
 
Take It Higher

One of the standout features that differentiates a mid-market home to a luxury home is vaulted ceilings. Raising your ceiling can lift and lighten the spaces in your home. This is something that once you put in your home, everyone will admire.
 
Next Level Luxury Tips
 
Bring Your Kitchen Into The New Decade

Kitchens will always be one of the most important rooms to a buyer, but how can you modernize your space in a way that is enticing to luxury buyers? In addition to installing high quality countertops, consider going smart in your kitchen. Get a smart refrigerator, energy efficient lighting that is also automated by your smart home system, etc.
 
Go Big In The Master Bedroom

This is one key differentiator from mid-market buyers and luxury home buyers. Mid-market buyers see a nice master bedroom as a luxury, so they mainly look for necessities. A luxury buyer cares about the level of quality, layout and design of the master bedroom. Your ensuite bathroom should have in-floor heating and a soaker tub. The height of luxury and design right now is an Italian shower which is both accessible and stunning to look at.
 
Make Your Backyard An Oasis

How you design the exterior of your home is critical. This forms the instant curb appeal to buyers and therefore needs a substantial amount of investment. A luxury home will have a well landscaped property that embraces the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. A luxury buyer is always willing to pay a premium for a move-in ready backyard paradise that is complete with patios, pools, and fire pits.

If you would like more tips on preparing your luxury home for sale, or would like some assistance in putting your property up on the market, please contact us here. We’d love to provide the most sophisticated and elegant service for your luxury home.

What Buyers Love To Point Out In The Final Walk Through

February 3, 2020
It’s easy to get confused about what a final walk through is. Some think it’s another home inspection, others think you can still negotiate the price of the home based on repairs you hope the seller will do. None of these are true. A final walk through is merely a way to ensure that the buyer is actually getting what they agreed to get. Therefore, any previously agreed-upon repairs should be done, any furniture negotiated should be left in the property, and that nothing has gone wrong or broken since the accepted offer.
 


You should never skip out on preparing for the final walk through as a seller, especially as buyers may point out these things:
 
Your Attendance
Having the seller or the seller’s agent go through the final walk through can put undue pressure on the buyer. They should have the freedom to inspect the property at their leisure.
 
The Final Walk Through’s Date
You want to plan the final walk through as close as possible to the closing date – ideally within 24 hours of it. A great tip for buyers is to schedule it on the way to the closing office or the evening before. Don’t be afraid to reschedule if bad weather occurs! If a heavy storm hits your home’s neighbourhood, it is worth rescheduling so you can see how your future home was affected by the surprise weather.
 
Things to look out for:
  • Fallen trees (and any damage they may have caused)
  • Water intrusion
  • Sinkholes
 
In serious cases, a bank may not complete the loan until the damage from the bad weather is remedied. Alternatively, you can negotiate the repairs with the seller.
 
Electricity
It’s likely the buyer is going to try all the light switches and ceiling fans in the home to ensure they work. They will likely also want to test the electrical outlets. You can provide a phone charger so that they can easily check from room to room that the outlets are all working.
 
Water and Fans
The buyer will also be trying all the sinks and faucets to see that they not only work, but that none of them leak. Be sure to walk through the house yourself before the buyer comes in for the final walk through to ensure all the toilets are flushing properly and not leaking, and that all exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen are running well.
 
Kitchen
In the kitchen, the buyer is going to test all of the appliances and the garbage disposal (if there is one) to see that everything is in good working order.
 
Rest Of Interior Of The House
Go over your old home with a fine-toothed comb. Check every wall, floor and ceiling to make sure that you don’t see anything visibly different or irregular from when they last saw the property. The same goes for all windows and doors (including the garage door)! Make sure all garbage and your personal belongings have been removed so they enter into a clean property. If you have any fireplaces in the house, make sure they are working and in safe condition as these will also be checked.
 
Both the interior and the exterior of the home will be checked for cosmetic issues. A great rule of thumb is: if you can notice it – they will definitely as well. Be honest and fix whatever you can beforehand or speak up with the buyer if something has changed.
 
It’s always good to get an expert’s opinion to test the heater and the air conditioner one last time before the final walk through even though an inspector has already inspected it. You can never be too safe!
 
What do you think of this list of things to watch out for in the final walk through? Do you think we missed something? Let us know!

Should You Wait To List In Spring?

January 27, 2020

One of the most common questions we get in the winter season is, “should we wait to list in spring?” Unfortunately, this question does not come with an easy answer. A lot of the decision-making for this question is based on your personal circumstances and local market conditions. Here are some things to consider about winter that you might not have before:




Buyers Are Motivated In Winter
It is understandable to think that in the winter no one really wants to venture out in the cold and snow unless they absolutely have to. Many are inundated with holiday plans and want to wait until the months are warmer before they consider house hunting. However, consider the scenario differently. In the warmer months you may get a lot more showings of your home, but not as many motivated buyers. If someone is willing to leave the comfort of their warm home to see yours, they really are motivated to buy it. If you are looking for no nonsense, waiting to list until spring might not be worth it.
 
Your Home Can Have Great Curb Appeal
Everyone thinks their home looks awful in the winter. Read that sentence over again. If everyone thinks their home looks awful in the winter, yours does not look especially worse. In fact, there are plenty of ways to make your home feel inviting without breaking your budget. If you have a fireplace, have a fire going for viewings. Bake cookies, use warm lighting, and put some lights outside. There are plenty of ways to add charm to your home to make it look enticing for buyers.
 
Professionals Move In January
Did you know that the most popular month for corporate transfers is January? Professionals who are moving for work are extremely motivated buyers. They are looking to move on a short timeline and do not have the luxury of waiting until January. They want to find something that fits their needs so they can start settling in right away.
 
Winter Is A Sellers’ Market
Many people fear that as winter is a sellers’ market, therefore not only are there fewer houses on the market but they can also be sold at a higher price. This is only partially true. It excludes situations where people are relocating for a new job, or have sold their current home and need to purchase a new home before the closing date, they are expecting a new family member, etc. There are plenty of reasons that show that there is a demand in winter for homes and that it is not as significant of a sellers’ market as you may think.
 
However, the decision is up to you. If there are no limiting factors and you have time, perhaps it is worth waiting to sell in spring. The number of days your property is on the market is one of the most important questions buyers ask rather than what season it is being sold in. If you want to have a one-on-one consultation to find out how your circumstances fit into local market conditions, please reach out to us here.

We’d love to sit down and have a chat with you to find out how to best market and sell your home.

How To Upgrade Your Home’s Winter Curb Appeal

January 20, 2020

 It’s easy to consider winter as a write off   when it comes to curb appeal. The   weather is so inconsistent: one day   you’ve got spring sun, the other you’ve   got freezing rain and 10 cm of snow on   top of the freezing rain. And everything   in between those two weathers is slushy and grey. But there are ways to upgrade your home’s winter curb appeal that are easy to do in the winter! If you are looking to sell your home during this season, or are simply looking for a way to spruce up your home during the colder months – check out these amazing tips.
 




Update Your Home’s Numbers
While some people think their home isn’t just an address, it’s important to also relish the fact that your house’s numbers are part of its identity. In summer, it may be easy to overlook your peeling or tarnished numbers. In winter – these can be the star of the show.
 
Spruce Up Your Exterior Lighting
Your exterior lighting can be as aesthetic as it is functional. In winter, the days are shorter and the nights are longer. Having downward soffit lighting not only improves visibility as you pull into your driveway on a slippery evening – it also looks amazing.
 
Upgrade Your Mailbox
Even though the days are shorter, they tend to be more accentuated in the winter. Snow is white and very reflective. It will sparkle and bring out every part of your home, including your rusting mailbox that has clearly seen better days. You can upgrade your mailbox by buying a new one altogether, or you can simply upgrade yours with a fresh coat of paint.
 
Create A Statement Arrangement
Many people have beautiful planters that adorn their front porch or steps. In the spring and summer these tend to be filled with gorgeous flowers. Yet for some reason these are often forgotten in the winter. There are many ways you can keep floral beauty going all year long. Look for cold-hardy perennials or evergreen branches to add a splash of colour to your home’s front yard.
 
Shovel Your Space
This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but sadly it needs to be reminded. Having an unshovelled driveway or sidewalk can make your home look unkempt faster than most things. Not only will it look a lot better to shovel your drive way, front steps and sidewalk – it also makes your life a lot safer and easier!
 
Hang A Wreath
Wreaths are not just for Christmas. Nor do they have to be incredibly fancy or huge. Go beyond the traditional evergreen wreaths and look for one that brings out your front door’s colours, or the winter atmosphere around you.

Get A Bird Feeder
This is an interesting tidbit you might not have thought of before. A bird feeder can add a wonderful splash of colour to your mostly monochromatic front lawn in the winter. It also can attract many beautiful colourful birds that do not migrate south for the winter. Blue jays, cardinals and robins can all adorn your front lawn and remind you of a scene from a Disney movie.
 
Your home can shine 365 days of the year. You can do a lot in cold weather that doesn’t take a lot of effort or money. We hope you try these updates and show us how you’ve spruced up your winter curb appeal!

Smart Home Tech

January 13, 2020

Everyone wants to live an easier life. Home automation is a key way to fulfil that goal. Just imagine that almost every device in your home could connect to the internet – you wouldn’t need to be home to feed your pet, or adjust the window shades. These smart home tech features are fun as well as useful, but there are some heavy hitters that really change the game like home surveillance equipment. Here are some of our favourite pieces of smart home tech that we think can get you closer to the life you want to live in 2020.
 




Smart Speakers
Whether it’s the Google Nest or the Amazon Echo device, these little Bluetooth speakers are a powerhouse in your home. You can control nearly everything with the sound of your voice. You can have step-by-step guidance on a recipe in the kitchen without getting any pages dirty! You can set alarms, you can treat your smart speaker like an intercom if you have several in the house, and you can turn off the tv without having to spend a half hour looking for the remote.
 
Logitech Harmony Elite
There are some people who prefer the tactile comforts of the old fashioned way. If smart speakers aren’t your thing, fear not. Behold the Logitech Harmony Elite: the most universal remote you’ve ever come across.
 
Ring Video Doorbell 2
This device has boomed in popularity in the past year for a variety of reasons. Not only is it a great way to accept packages delivered to your door when you’re not home, it’s also a great security feature to have now that there are an unfortunate few who like to steal other people’s parcels from their doorstep.
 
August Smart Lock Pro
People tend to be wary of smart locks because they don’t want to shell out to replace their current lock. Some people feel very comfortable with a traditional key, and with the August Smart Lock Pro you don’t have to compromise! The August Smart Lock Pro fits onto your existing deadbolt lock so you can use our old key whenever you want as well as your smartphone. It’s okay if you lose your keys, you’ll always be able to get into your house (just don’t lose your phone!).
 
Nest Thermostat E
It’s not often that the first company to inject machine learning into our heating and cooling systems is also the same company that is leading the pack after all these years. The Nest Thermostat E is the most affordable in the Nest Thermostat range and can help you save money long term with its amazing programmable temperature features.
 
Nest Protect
Did you know that Nest also makes smoke detectors? Now, you can travel anywhere you want and not have to worry about your house. If something happens, you’ll always be the first to know.
 
Are you thinking of putting more smart home tech into your home? Will you be putting in one of these devices, or something else? Let us know in the comments!

Pricing Myths Sellers Believe

January 6, 2020

There is so much information out there about real estate, it’s hard to figure out what’s real and what isn’t. This is why a lot of home sellers operate on false information which makes their house harder to sell than they imagined. If you’re thinking about listing and want to know some out-and-out myths about home pricing – look no further!
 




Myth 1: HGTV Never Lies
It’s easy to forget that home reality shows like House Hunters, Flip or Flop, or Love it or List it are shows made largely for entertainment. Yes, these shows have pockets of truth. But even if a show tells you what a house is evaluated at, it is very unlikely you will know the year that the house was valued in. Sure, that house might have been worth $500k, but was it worth that in 2019? Or 2006? While the GTA has generally seen an appreciation in property values over the past few decades, there are many geographical locations in North America that demonstrate a cycle where house prices can actually fall over the years. Therefore, it’s important to remember that the price you see might be very specific to a location, and it might not even be right according to today’s standards.
 
Myth 2: Open Houses Are Necessary
There are many people that think one of the main jobs a real estate agent does is host an open house. And while the general opinion on open houses is controversial (some swear by them and others detest them), it is not up for debate that a substantial amount of people who come to open houses are curious neighbours who are looking for a fun weekend activity. Worse yet, some people cruise around for open houses as an opportunity to steal as the homeowner will not be present during the open house and the real estate won’t be able to quickly appreciate what is missing until it’s too late. Yes, you can absolutely find new clients in an open house. But they are not necessary to sell it!
 
Myth 3: The Seller Sets The Price Of The Home
This is both true and not true. While the seller technically finalizes what the asking price is, it is important to remember that neither the real estate agent nor the seller truly have a huge say in the price of the house. The main thing that does is the market! That’s why you can set a price higher than the market price, but it is unlikely the house will sell at the price. Always compare the price of what your real estate agent is offering to sell your home for to the market price. Some real estate agents, believe it or not, will say they can sell your house for significantly above the market price just to land your business.
 
Did you know some of these myths? Or perhaps you know of other myths that we haven’t listed here. Be sure to let us know what you think! Until next time, be careful and do your homework before you accept what you hear about pricing in the real estate market.
 

How to Buy in a Seller’s Market

December 31, 2019
Winter tends to be a quieter month in the real estate world. The weather keeps most people at home after work, and then on top of that there is the holiday season that keeps people with their families rather than house hunting. Winter can very much be a seller’s market. So what should you do to get the upper hand in a seller’s market?


 

Stay Positive

House hunting is time-consuming on the best of days. In a seller’s market you can be frustrated by the scarcity of choice and the time limit you have to buy a home. Maintaining a level head will help ensure that whatever decision you make is the right one.

 

Get Pre-Approved

Pre-Approvals are amazing at all times of the year, but they are especially great in a seller’s market. This is because it gives you an idea of how much you can play with. Once you find out how much you’ve been pre-approved for, look for properties that are 10-15k below the amount you’ve been pre-approved for. This way, you’ve got some wiggle room if you enter into negotiations or a bidding war.

 

Don’t Go in Under the Asking Price

With homes being scarce in a seller’s market, going in for under the asking price is a dangerous move. You risk having your offer tossed altogether, as they know they have the upper hand in the decision. If you have your heart set on a property, go in at the asking price, or even above.

 

Consider Making a “Bully Offer”

A bully offer doesn’t sound as aggressive or mean as it is. A bully offer is just a smart way to do business in a seller’s market! A bully offer is when a buy presents an offer before anyone else does. Generally bully offers tend to be a bit higher than the asking price, but that’s what makes them bully offers – you’re bullying other buyers out of the opportunity of getting the house because you can offer more than what they can.

 

Be Prepared for a Bidding War

You might not be the only one who wants to present a bully offer, or bid on that house. When resources are scarce, more people tend to be interested in the same thing. Some of the best ways to prepare for a bidding war are to remove clauses that are conditional wherever possible. Lots of people like to put in conditions such as: their offer is conditional on home inspection, the sale of their own home, etc. Imagine a property that receives two offers: they are both similar in value but one is fraught with conditions, and the other is not. You would likely go for the one that has fewer conditions, and so, too, will the seller.

 

Another way to appear strong in the face of a bidding war is to include your deposit with your offer. Make sure that you only do this when you are 100% serious that this is your dream home, as if you back out there is a likely chance you will lose your deposit.

 

Just because winter tends to be a seller’s market, doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it! We hope these tips helped you in your journey of house hunting.

 

 

Ultra-Modern Or Traditional?

December 24, 2019

Toronto is a collection of a vast array of different architectural styles. Some pride themselves on the traditional history of the building they live in and do their best to restore its former glory. Others prefer the “California Style” ultra-modern stylings. Some people complain that these houses ruin a neighbourhood, others argue that ultra-modern will become the new traditional. In order to decide which is best for you and resale values, here’s a small breakdown as to what’s better.

 

Definitions

Many people mistake the definition of ultra-modern or traditional as new versus old, respectively. Yet, the term traditional applies to a broad range of architectural styles: Edwardian, Georgian, Victorian, Neoclassical and many more. This is because all these styles tend to encapsulate a few common features such as a pointed roof with one or more gables, the use of brick, stone, wood and stucco as building materials.

 

Ultra-modern homes tend to counter balance the extensive details and flourishes that are associated with traditional homes. Ultra-modern homes prefer to have basic structures speak for themselves. Their simple, clean designs often feature flat or low-sloped roofs, lots of straight lights and they tend to use more technologically-advanced building materials such as reinforced steel, concrete and plastic.

 

Floor Plans

Traditional homes tend to have a larger footprint than ultra-modern homes. This is because houses that are traditional are centred around definition. Each room generally has a single purpose and are on the smaller side. Ultra-modern homes focus on minimalist design and aim to make the most of space. Therefore, ultra-modern homes will tend to have open-concept spaces with multi-purpose rooms for a seamless flow.

 

Windows And Lighting

Traditional homes are known for having symmetrically-placed windows that are often small to medium sizes. This is because traditionally it was difficult to make large paned windows. Larger windows also let in a lot of draft and cold air as double-glazing was not a known technique when windows were first created. If someone wanted light in their traditional home they made up for it several light fixtures such as chandeliers. Alternatively, they would get creative with their glass windows by adding colours and making it into stained glass.

 

Ultra-modern homes, with the advancement of technology, prefer to opt for natural light over light fixtures in the home. There is an abundance of skylights and large windows that can make even the most modest interior feel open and airy.

 

 

The Winner

So who wins the epic battle of ultra-modern versus traditional? Both styles have the ability to make a home feel inviting. Newer-builds tend to have a flexibility that older homes do not. You can easily design or renovate them to be ultra-modern, traditional, or somewhere in between. Older homes will require more extensive costs to renovate or retrofit a home. It will always be more difficult to make an older home into an ultra-modern space but it is not impossible!

 

The modern Torontonian tends to prefer something that lies in the middle of these two definitions, which do you prefer?

Condo vs House

December 19, 2019
Everywhere you look condos are cropping up in Toronto – but does that mean this is the end for the freehold house? If you are looking to buy and are torn between the direction of being a homeowner or a condo owner, here are some important things to consider.
 
TEAM CONDO
 
Condos Can Be The More Affordable Option
While condos can certainly be very expensive, in general, they are cheaper than freehold houses. So if you are looking for a lower down payment and lower monthly payments in general, opting for a condo can be your most frugal option.
 
Little To No Maintenance
In a freehold house, you have to make time to mow your lawn, paint the house, trim hedges, clean gutters, rake leaves, shovel snow – the list goes on and on. But when you live in a condo, all you have to do is by a monthly fee and all of your exterior maintenance is done for you! This means you have more time to hang out by the pool, go on trips on the weekend, or just relax.
 
Close To The Action
Living in a condo means that while you may have a slightly smaller floor plan than a free hold, you are also more densely packed. This densely packed description is a positive if you love amenities! Living in a condo means you will likely be within steps of great restaurants, stores, cultural activities and job opportunities. Condo owners frequently have shorter commutes than homeowners as well – which means you have more time to do what you want, rather than be stuck in traffic.
 
TEAM HOUSE
 
You Own Land
Technically speaking, owning any piece of real estate means you own land. However, when you own a freehold house you have land with possibilities. You want a pool in your backyard? Go for it! You want to host backyard parties? Do it up! You want a safe place for your kids to play? You own a fenced-in backyard. Yes, there is maintenance, but you also have the space to do things that you would otherwise have to go out and do were it not for your land.
 
Greater Self-Determination And Self-Expression
You can already see how owning your own land gives you more ability to creatively express yourself, as in the above point. That’s one of the best parts of owning your own home. In a condo, you have to follow condo rules. You have no say as to what the exterior of your unit looks like, but when you own a home you can change every single aspect of it. You can plant flowers, you can paint your walls whatever colour you like. The world is your oyster!
A House Better Accommodates Life Changes
As houses tend to be larger than apartments, they have more room to do things you hadn’t planned on doing when you first bought the place. If one day you decide to have a family, it’s likely that you can grow into your home and make space for future children. Or perhaps you one day want to start your own business. You cannot operate your own business out of your condo, but with a basement, garage, or shed in your home you can!
 
There is, at the end of the day, no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a house or a condo. What matters most is what life suits you best. Do you value more self-expression, or do you value more time on your hands?

 

Does Location Still Matter?

December 11, 2019
The most famous adage of real estate is “location, location, location” – but does that still hold true in today’s market? It seems the biggest balance issue for homeowners is size versus location. At what point does one give, or should give?

 

Are You Planning to Rent Out Your Property?

Whether you plan to have long term tenants in your property or short-term Airbnb visitors, the geographic location of your property is crucial. This is especially true of tourists who want to stay in an ideal location that is within walking distance to fun amenities or business districts. Long term renters also care a great deal about location because they will want to be close to public transport if they commute, or other important amenities such as grocery stores and doctors’ offices.

 

Do You Have School-Age Children?

Location is extremely important if you have school-age children. This is because every parent wants their child to go to the best schools. You may have found a great house, but it could be not close to any schools, or not close to the best schools in the area.

 

Do You Plan to Sell Your Home In 5-10 Years?

Unless you plan to live in your home forever and even pass it on to your family, you would be remiss to not consider the resale value of your property when house hunting. Location is what will drive the appreciation of a property the most over time. So, if you’re planning to sell in the next 5-10 years, location really matters.

 

Do You Want an Easy Work Commute?

Some people are fine commuting an hour to work to get the big house of their dreams. Others want as short of a commute as possible so they can spend more time with their family after work. If you belong to the latter group, you may want to live in a smaller city apartment where you can have the commute you’ve always dreamed of. After all, studies show the less time you spend commuting, the more time you can enjoy without stress!

 

Do You Need to Access Certain Amenities?

Some people can’t live without being close to good coffee. Others need to be within walking distance of public transportation. Whether you want to be as close as possible to a grocery store, a restaurant, a park or good shopping – if amenities matter to you, so does location.

 

By no means is this list definitive, but these are some important questions you should be asking yourself if you are wondering if location still matters. Other questions you can ask yourself to help determine how important location is to you are:

- Are you particular about which neighbourhood you want to live in?

  • Are you particular about the age and condition of the house you move into?

  • Are you flexible with your budget?

  • What are the insurance rates on the property you are looking at? (This is especially important if you are looking at a property close to water)

 

If you have more about the dilemma of location versus size, please feel free to contact us here!

Does Overselling Work?

December 4, 2019


It’s happened to all of us at one point or another in the house hunting process: we’ve fallen in love with a house and it is out of our budget because it is overpriced. So what do we do? Instinctively, we dismiss the property and look for others that are within our budget. But is this the right move? Is there any way to get a home that is overpriced without breaking the piggy bank?

 

Overselling can work, you just need to consider a few things:

 

False Assumptions

One of the biggest reasons people overlook homes that are overpriced is that they do not want to offend the seller for offering substantially less than the asking price. It puts the buyer in an embarrassing position. However, chances are no low-ball or even reasonable offers have been made on the property – giving you more room to negotiate a potential bargain!

 

Another false assumption often made by the buyer is that they assume the seller knows they are overselling their home. But a seller will not appreciate if their home is overpriced until they receive a serious offer. Many times, overpriced homes don’t get many offers and therefore are more open to negotiations.

 

Days On The Market

Ask your real estate agent how many days the overpriced home you found has been on the market. If it’s been on the market for 3 months at $950,000, you could probably go in and ask for $800,000! The longer a property has been on the market the more eager the seller is to sell – which means there is room for you to negotiate a price you will be happy with.

 

Not all sellers will be willing to take such a decrease in the value of their home, but if you don’t try you’ll never know!

 

So who does overselling work for? Potentially the buyer if they are looking for a deal and are patient enough to find a seller who is eager to get out of their property. But as you can see, overselling rarely results in a favourable result for the seller. It doesn’t matter how amazing of a real estate professional you have selling your home, if the house is significantly overpriced, it will not attract the right buyer.

 

Many real estate agents who are eager to sell your home will sometimes overvalue your home just to get your business. This is why it is important to do estimates from a few real estate agents to determine what is the most realistic price for your home, and not some dream number that would be nice to have. A great way to determine this realistic price is to also look at comparable prices in your neighbourhood.

 

One thing that trips up sellers is that they think every renovation or upgrade they have done to their home will yield in a dollar for dollar return on their investment. A buyer will not have the same emotional attachment to your property, and many of the upgrades we perform to a house are part of maintaining the value of our property, not increasing it.

 

In conclusion, there are some benefits if you are a buyer to finding an overpriced home, but it’s always best to sell at the right price!

 

Buying A House On A Busy Street

November 27, 2019
Jumping into the real estate market, the first thing you will learn about the house hunting process is that there are trade offs. There is no way to buy a home without compromising about something. It does not matter what your budget is, what location you are looking for, there will always be a trade off.

 

Most people do not like to live on busy streets. In fact, there is more than a 50% chance that if a house is located on a busy street, you won’t want to see it. This is especially true if you have young children and/or pets.

 

But is living on a busy street such a bad thing?

 

Right Where The Action Is

If you love the hustle and bustle of life and want to be close to the action, living on a busy street is exactly where you want to live. You won’t have to walk far to get to the night life or whatever amenities you are hoping to have in your neighbourhood. And by amenities we’re talking more businesses to work for, more stores to shop in, better schools to put your kids in, as well as more fire stations and stronger police presence. You’ll feel more secure living in a busier area.

 

Better Access To Public Transportation

If you live on a busy street, chances are there will be a bus stop, a train station, a walking or bike trail nearby. Therefore, if you don’t have a car or you prefer to commute via public transportation, it’s actually better for you to live on a busy street!

 

Good Street Maintenance

Cul-de-sacs are pretty and quiet, but they can be very dangerous in the winter months! The busiest roads get the quickest and most frequent attention in the winter as they get the most congestion. Therefore, snow plows will plow highways and busy streets first over the quieter streets that don’t get much traffic. And the maintenance doesn’t just happen in the winter, potholes will be filled first on busy streets, and when it comes time to having an entire road resurfaced, the busy street will always get priority over the quieter ones.

 

Pricing Discount

This is arguably one of the biggest attractions to living on a busy street. A great tool we tell our clients is to come up with a list of five things you must have in your dream home. Imagine you found all five things in a home for sale, but it’s located on a busy street. Chances are, you are able to afford it because it is located on a busy street and is 5% to 10% cheaper than if it were on a quieter street. Why pass that up? You can get all the things on your list for the right price and enjoy all the benefits mentioned above!

 

Living on a busy street doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Toronto is full of busy streets and oftentimes, that’s what draws people to live on or near them. Make the most of a busy street!

Why You Shouldn’t Focus On Buying The Perfect House

November 20, 2019

Everyone has their dream home. Close your eyes and it’s there. Maybe it has five bedrooms. Maybe it has an infinity pool. Maybe it’s a Tudor-style. We believe in getting you the best home possible, but when house hunting, do not be such a stickler for your perfect house.

 

Many people get stuck thinking that their dream house is in a higher budget than they can afford. That is not always the case. And even if it were, you cannot grow your budget to meet your dream house. Every single house comes with compromise.

 

One of the best things you can do is buy a great starter home and build equity into it until you accumulate enough to put a down payment on a home closer to your dream.

 

We’ve often ask our clients to fill out a list of things they would absolutely want from a house and we want to dismantle some of the things that have prevented people from buying what would otherwise be an amazing home for them.

 

My Furniture Won’t Fit In The Room

Unless the furniture you are attached to is extremely valuable or has serious significance, do not let a piece of IKEA furniture you spent one weekend assembling dictate which house you get. Furniture that doesn’t work in your new home can be sold and you can use that money to buy furniture that works much better in your new space.

 

The Paint Is An Awful Colour

It is entirely possible that your dream house is painted in the most ghastly colours imaginable. And it might prevent you from noticing it is your dream house. But paint is one of the most affordable fixes you can do to a home. Remember to see a home’s potential, and you can create a lot of value in it that way.

 

The Decor Is Dated

Some homes on the market will be dated, this is a fact of life. You have to remember that as a buyer, you are buying the house, not the furniture. The seller will take their dated furniture with them (or throw it out!) and you will get quotes on how to get that wallpaper from 1974 off the wall. It’s also worth remembering that style is cyclical. What was once very stylish, but fell out of fashion may very well come back around!

 

You Don’t Have Kids

There are some people who groan when they hear that they’re close to a good school or in a kid-friendly neighbourhood. Living next to a good school is great – even if you don’t want kids! Property values stay up and maintain their growth in districts with good schools. Therefore, should you ever want to move somewhere else, you know you will get a good return on your investment if you live in a neighbourhood with a good school.

 

All homes have enormous potential. You just have to get out of your head that there is only one way to perfect your living situation. There are many amazing homes out there waiting for you to see their potential. Stop focusing on your perfect house and focus on the best house for you and your lifestyle!

Credit Score Myths

November 13, 2019

If you’re thinking about buying a home, chances are you’ve become obsessed with your credit score and how to maximize it before the big day comes. But when it comes to tips on how to increase your credit score, how can you tell fact from fiction? Here’s a handy list of myths that we’ve debunked for you.

 

Myth 1: Debt Is Debt

Some people fear that as long as they have debt they’re going to be in trouble. Not so! If you have $150,000 debt from having the most extravagant wedding or party, that will seriously impact your credit score. If, however, your debt is $150,000 from a mortgage – that puts you in line with the millions of other responsible Canadian homeowners.

 

Myth 2: Checking Your Credit Score Will Hurt You

Any time you open a credit card, or make an “inquiry”, it is filed away on your credit score. Many people believe that whenever you make any kind of inquiry, that will negatively impact your credit score. The truth of the matter is, an inquiry only affects your core if its related to a credit application that you have submitted. So if you are applying for a mortgage, loan, credit card, your score might fall because your application is telling the bank that you are interested in taking on debt. But simply checking your own credit score will not affect your score. In fact, we encourage you to check your credit score to ensure you are responsibly managing your finances!

 

Myth 3: Closing A Credit Card Will Improve Your Credit Score

Some people think that a credit card is tempting. If you have access to money, you will use it. Therefore, if you only have one credit card you are limiting yourself from temptation. However, credit scores don’t work like that. The models they use for measuring risk are based on “credit utilization”. When you close an unused account, you are closing a percentage of credit. Say you have two credit cards, each with a $5,000 limit. You spend approximately $1000 a month on only one of your credit cards. Right now, you use 1/10th of your actual credit. But if you close your second credit card because you never use it, your credit utilization goes down. You are now spending 1/5th of your actual credit which is a significant increase. This will actually lower your credit score.

 

Myth 4: You Only Have One Credit Score

It would be really nice if this were the case, but every single bank or lender has their own formula for determining your credit score. Technically, you could have a dozen different credit scores. So it might be worth checking with a few credit score companies or banks to see where you will get the best rate.

 

These are just a few credit score myths out there, there are plenty more. But we hope you found this helpful as you approach your next step into buying a home!

Mistakes Home Sellers Make

November 6, 2019


Fall is one of the busiest times of the year to list your home on the real estate market. If you want to ensure that your home stands out from the rest, here are some important mistakes you want to avoid that many home sellers make.

 

Not Hiring A Professional To Sell Your Home

Everyone seems to think it will be cheaper if you list your home by yourself. But if selling a home was so easy that you didn’t need a professional, why would so many spectacular professionals exist? Professional real estate agents have gone to school to learn how to best market and sell your home, they have a sizable network of people who will likely have an interested buyer that is not easily reachable from a simple post on the MLS. What you pay for in commission will result in a much higher sale price than you would be able to achieve on your own. At the end of the day, hiring a professional is the best way to go.

 

Mis-Pricing Your Home

People think that if they under price their home they are likely to start a bidding war. The problem with this is that there are no guarantees in doing this. Alternatively, if you price your home higher than it should be hoping that people will appreciate the full value of the home, you risk it sitting on the market for months without a bite. You need to really look at the comps in your neighbourhood so that you price your home fairly. This is what will garner the most interest in your property.

 

Neglecting Necessary Repairs Prior To Sale

Some people think the minute they list their home everything that is right and wrong with the home is the problem of whoever will buy it. However, all of the repairs will come to light in a home inspection. If a major repair comes up it is likely the buyer will ask for you to pay for it or for a major deduction in the price of the house. If you fix it beforehand you can ask for a higher price of the home and hopefully cover the cost of the repair.

 

Showing Your Home Cluttered

Lots of clutter in the home, or lots of super-personal items will make people feel uneasy. A clean home that is not very full will make a house look big. Moreover, it will act as a blank slate so that buyers can envision the home as theirs. They can picture their furniture inside. But if everywhere they go they see your massive collection of dolphin statues, it might keep them from seeing the house as anything but yours. Keep your home clutter-free, and as impersonal as possible. But also don’t keep it empty because that will make it too hard for buyers to see the potential of the home.

 

By no means is this a comprehensive list of mistakes that home sellers make. But we hope that this list will steer you in the right direction if you are looking to list your home this fall.

What to Unpack First in Your New Home

October 30, 2019


Congratulations! You moved into your new dream home and you survived the craziness of unpacking. Now, before you can fully enjoy your new home, you have to unpack. But what should you unpack first?
 
Cleaning Supplies
This may sound counter-intuitive, but you will never have your home more easily accessible than moving day. Do a quick sweep and mop around the house. Wipe down the shelves and clean the windows. Make sure the home is spotless so that when you begin to unpack your furniture and belongings, you will feel that you are walking into a home you are excited to move into. No one wants to go through all the agony of unpacking and then have to clean!
 
Move Large Furniture First
Whether you’re unpacking by yourself or you’ve got the movers still helping you, unpacking and placing your large pieces of furniture must be the first thing on your list. Not only will it feel like you’ve done way more than you think you have, but it will give you a really good visual for how you intend to use the space. It will also help you figure out a general idea of where your smaller pieces should go.
 
Install and Inspect Large Appliances
Some people move with their appliances, others don’t. If you have chosen to move with your appliances, or you’ve opted to purchase new appliances that will arrive on moving day, consider installing them immediately. By installing them immediately you’ll be able to see if there are any issues. If there are, you will more likely get them fixed quickly (and hopefully for free!) if you spot it as soon as possible.
 
Put Together Essential Furniture
Not all furniture is large. Some pieces that aren’t large or have already been disassembled need to be prioritized. Think of your bed, your desk, even your kitchen table as essential furniture you should not put off assembling. It doesn’t need to find it’s perfect home the day of, but you will need to use these items right from the very first day.
 
Unpack Your Essentials Box
When you move, you will have packed a box of essentials. These are things you will need to use as of your very first night: toilet paper, soap, towels, all-purpose cleaners, snacks, a plate and cutlery for each member of the family, a shower curtain, toiletries, garbage bags and a change of clothing. The rest of those boxes can wait a few days – the essentials box needs to be dealt with on moving day.
 
 By no means is this an exhaustive list. There are some things you need to consider that are specific to your situation and not someone else. Do you have kids or pets? It might be worth unpacking some of their stuff first, so they stay out of your way while you do the heavy unpacking. Once you’ve unpacked these major things, you can take your time unpacking the rest. We hope you found this list helpful, and if you have any extra tips for what to unpack first in your new home – please let us know!

Creative Ways To Add Colour To Your Home

October 23, 2019

For the past while, interior design trends focused a lot on neutral and earthy colours. Chances are, your home is filled with greys, browns, whites and blacks. And while this looks beautiful, it can sometimes lack personality. A great way to punch up a timelessly classic room is with creative colour! Here are just a few ways you can creatively add colour to your home.

 

Paint Your Front Door

If you live in a house, you can make a big impression by painting the exterior of your front door a bold colour. A fresh coat of paint on your front door demonstrates to onlookers that you take pride and care in your home. And if you opt for a bright and/or bold colour you revitalize your home in a way that ensures every eye that passes your home.

 

Paint The Inside Of Your Bookshelves

Maybe you are currently renting and saving up for your dream home, or maybe you are just seeking a splash of colour in your home rather than a large dose. Painting the inside of your bookshelves will provide the ability to enhance your home’s style without a huge renovation. This is great for people who like small projects!

 

Paint Your Floors

This is especially big right now in the interior design world. If you have tile or hardwood floors that have seen better days, you can breathe new life into the room by painting them colourfully or with a fun stencil. The best part is that this fix will cost much less than opting for hardwood floors or tiles that already have the colours or designs printed on them.

 

Paint Your Ceiling

Some people shy away from painting ceilings because they find it tricky. Others fear that if they paint their ceiling their room will appear smaller than it is. Well, we’re here to tell you that just isn’t true. But if you would still prefer to stay on the cautious side, you can always paint your ceiling a pale blue or grey. This colour will add a pop of personality without screaming at anyone.

 

Go For Colourful Appliances

For practically a decade, the mark of any dignified home was to have stainless steel appliances. Not only are these appliances a pain to keep fingerprint and smudge-free, but they make your kitchen feel cold. Going for a blue, red, even orange oven can add tons of character and dimension to your kitchen. And if you don’t want to buy a new appliance, there are plenty of sites online that will teach you how to apply heat stickers to your current appliances.

 

Paint Your Cabinets

Perhaps changing your stainless steel appliances is either too big of an investment emotionally or financially for you. A great alternative to spruce up your kitchen is to simply paint your cabinets! Why spend thousands of dollars replacing the cabinets entirely when you could just take them off their hinges, paint them a sophisticated colour, and perhaps even change the knobs for some extra flare.

 

Every corner of your home can have a creative pop of colour that you might not have previously thought of. The question is - where will you put yours?

What to Do When Buying a Home

October 16, 2019
Buying a home is a lifelong dream for some. You may have thought about how many bedrooms you want, what neighbourhood you want to live in – but chances are, you haven’t done your homework about the process of buying a home. Buying a home isn’t just finding the home of your dreams and moving in. So here is a handy list to help you know what goes into buying a home.
 

  1. Analyze Your Finances and Create a Budget
    Before you can start hunting for your dream house you need to find out how much you can afford. Find out your credit score and try to improve it as much as you can. The higher your credit score, the easier it will be for you to be approved for a loan. You should also sit down and consider how much you want to put in your down payment. You can put as little as 5% but the closer you are to 20% and above, the cheaper it will be for you in the long run.

     
  2. Research the Local Market
    Once you have decided which neighbourhood you want to be in, study that neighbourhood for some time. See if prices fluctuate between seasons and get a general idea of how much a house of a certain condition is worth. If you do even a few weeks research you’ll start to get a sense if a house is overpriced or not.

     
  3. Get Pre-Approved
    By doing step number one, you should develop a fairly sound idea of how much you can afford when going house hunting, but the best way to know for sure is to get pre-approved for a mortgage by a certified lender. This will also make you look a lot more palatable to sellers as they will know that you can carry a loan of this size and the deal is less likely to fall through.

     
  4. Distinguish Your Needs From Your Wants
    This is the part that might be the hardest for some. When you dream about your dream house, you imagine so many specific things that will make a house perfect. But the truth is, most people will not be able to hit every single thing on their wish list. If you sit down and think of five things max of what you need to have in a home in order for it to work for you, and up to five bonus thins that you’d like to have to make your home even more amazing you will find that this becomes a lot more manageable. This will make the impossible search of your dream home much more possible and within the realm of reality according to your budget.

     
Find an Agent
With your priorities and your pre-approval in your handy dandy tool belt, now is the perfect time to reach out to a local real estate agent. A REALTOR® will help you facilitate negotiations, find you properties you might not otherwise have found among many other things. If you are currently in the process of looking for an agent, please feel free to reach out to our team here. We would love to answer any of your questions and see if we are a good fit together.

How to Modernize a Split Level

October 9, 2019

The layout of a split-level works. You have visual connection between rooms while also having a partial separation of the spaces to better define them. Inside they can be really interesting. The outside, however, often looks like some of the worst design decisions of the 1970s. If you are interested in purchasing a split level, or live in one yourself, here are some of the best ways to modernize it.

 

Façade

A split level’s defining feature are its split levels, so you should accentuate them outside and inside. Try making some levels or balconies smooth in texture and others with stone or siding. A great place to draw inspiration is from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

 

Windows

We all remember the windows we grew up with. Either they were two-paned windows that you would have to slide up to open, or you had grid-paned windows that boxed up your house. If you want to go for a more modern look, consider casement windows that swing out to open. Alternatively, fixed glass is also a great modern choice, as long as you don’t put it in rooms the need emergency escapes or ventilation.

 

Roof

Roofs are often one of the most overlooked parts of a house, but that seems strange considering how big it is. It is also one of the best ways to make a big impact on the appearance of your home due to its size. Old roofs no matter how well maintained they are, unfortunately date your home. Sometimes, even the colour of a roof can date your property. A budget-friendly option would be to go for dark colours if you have a shingled roof, or see if you can put in a standing seam metal roof. If you have the budget for a major revitalization, consider the possibility of creating a hidden roof split level.

 

Exterior Lighting

One of the most budget friendly ways to modernize a split level is to illuminate it. And split levels have many opportunities to shine. Consider lighting the pathway to the front door, the overhand of the cantilevered second levels, either side of the front entry and the garage.

 

Garage Doors

If your split level has garage doors which face the street, this is a great opportunity for you to modernize your home in a way that is very visible. And truth be told, the original garage door to an original split level was probably built with very little curb appeal. Some great ideas to modernize your dated garage doors are translucent flat panels or wood look panels.

 

These ideas focus mainly on sprucing up the exterior of your home as that is what most people will see of your split level. But you will also find that renovating the exterior of your split level will have a tremendous effect on modernizing the interior of your space as it becomes a more cohesive space. Now the question is, how many of these do you want to try? Whether you are interested in a split level as a house flipping opportunity or a way to custom build your own dream home, modernizing a split level is definitely the way to go.

How to Have the Best Staycation

October 2, 2019
 

Travelling is wonderful. You get to go to places you may have never been to before, try new foods, see new things, experience new cultures. But you also can be on long, exhausting flights. With terrible layovers, jet lag, and even air sickness. Sometimes, when you come back from a vacation you find that you’re more tired than when you first started, or like you need a few days to unwind from your vacation before you go back to work. This is why the staycation is one of the best things you can do. With thanksgiving coming around the corner you may want to take off an extra day or two to lengthen the holiday. If you’re looking to unravel that knot of tension that’s been in your shoulders for too long and just get some necessary restorative sleep, staycations are where it’s at.

So how can I have the most awesome staycation?

Let The Professionals Handle It

Since you’re saving all that money not taking a flight to who knows where, why don’t you spend a little bit to indulge in a house clean? This could be done by your teenage neighbour who wants to make a few extra bucks cleaning your fridge or it could be a professional who deep cleans the entire house so that for once your home actually sparkles the way it was always meant to.

Get Room Service

People love hotels because they can’t get enough of room service. If you live with someone who is also taking a staycation at the same time as you, split up room service responsibilities. So that on one day they serve you breakfast in bed, and on the other day they do that. Or better yet, order take out! Your staycation means you can treat yourself a little more than you normally do. After all, you’re worth it.

Get A Souvenir

Another favourite activity when travelling is finding a souvenir. Instead of risking that your beautiful souvenir gets broken while it gets tossed in your suitcase on the airplane, why don’t you splurge on a really nice coffee mug? Even a little souvenir can have you feeling like special for the duration of your staycation.

Consider Being A Hometown Tourist

Now for some, staycationing means staying as much at home as possible. If that’s your bag that’s awesome. But for others, they feel that they’re always at work that they don’t even know their own backyard. This might be a great opportunity to check out that museum or hotspot you’ve heard about for so long but never had the chance to try out.


Play Papparazzi

Well, sort of. Whenever you travel you take a million instagramable photos. But your hometown is actually pretty awesome, that’s why you live in it! Take photos of your favourite room in your house, of your family having a picnic in the backyard, of your friends laughing over ice cream. There are so many beautiful things to see at home, make sure you show those off as much as your travels.

So have I got you drooling? Thinking about how restorative a staycation can be? The next time you plan a vacation think about what it’s doing for you. While jetsetting to London or Hong Kong are absolutely amazing adventures, there’s also a lot to be said for a peaceful staycation.

 

Driveway Ideas

September 25, 2019
As long as you don’t live in a condo, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll have a driveway. And unless you have kids who might want to make chalk drawings on your driveway, chances are you don’t give your driveway much thought. To you, it might just be something that you drive over to get into your garage, or a place to park your car for the night after a long day’s work.

 

These opinions couldn’t be worse to have if you care about the value of your home. Your driveway is a huge way to create curb appeal for your home. It’s a chance to make an introduction to your home that will make you stand out and demonstrate your own personal taste, no matter your budget. You don’t need to have a mansion to make a splash with your driveway.

 

Here are some ideas to spruce up your driveway to give it that extra bit of personality you never realized it needed:

 

Stone With Edging

A great and affordable option when it comes to doing your driveway is to use loose materials such as gravel. However, some people don’t like the look of loose gravel on its own. A great way to add a more refined look to the use of loose gravel is to line the edges with any type of edging. We suggest stone. It’s a great way to dress up an affordable driveway.

 

Fancy Concrete

Most suburban homes will have concrete driveways, but a great way to add a splash of creativity is to create a design or pattern in the midst of your driveway. Think of a stone border around either the perimeter of your driveway, or breaking up the concrete into large cubes with the stone or terrazzo border.

 

Another great way to interpret a concrete driveway is to invest in concrete tile. Concrete tile will make your driveway look like a stamped tile but without any of the fear that weeds will crop up in between the tiles. What’s not to love?

 

Tar and Chip

If you want a driveway that is low maintenance and will last an incredibly long time, consider tar and chip driveways. These driveways have a gravel base, are topped with asphalt and are finished with pretty and durable stones.

 

Permeable Driveway

Do you have a driveway that gets waterlogged often? You might want to consider getting a permeable driveway, then. Permeable driveways have little grates that you lay all over your driveway. It will keep your car raised above the mud while having space for excess water to run off without damaging your car. Permeable driveways come in all shapes, colours and sizes, so you don’t have to compromise on style!

 

Rubber

To some, the concept of rubber on a driveway is outlandish and farfetched. But rubber is actually one of the newest and biggest trends for landscaping, playgrounds and believe it or not – driveways! They are a less expensive option when compared to concrete and asphalt and have an incredible lifespan. Use it as edging, borders, or the whole driveway.

 

Did you know about these driveway ideas? Which one is your favourite? Have any horror stories about a certain kind of driveway? Let us know! We love to keep the circle of knowledge turning for everyone.

 

 

Retro Trends That Are Making A Comeback

September 18, 2019
It’s a little bit funny: every generation seems to think they are at the peak of interior design but they also believe that history is incapable of repeating itself because we’ve learned from our past mistakes. We forget that the reason we even believed we were at the peak of interior design is that we did a lot of things right. And if it’s not broken, why fix it?

 

With that in mind, we are seeing some beloved moments of interior design history making a strong comeback. If your space has been feeling a little frumpy or like it’s missing something, consider reviving it with some retro charm.

 

Rattan, Wicker and Bamboo

While many associate wicker with outdoor furniture or Easter baskets, these casual materials work amazingly if you are trying to go for a boho aesthetic in your home. Great ways to incorporate these cool materials is by finding, thrifting, or purchasing new bar stools, headboards, or storage pieces (think laundry hampers) that will make your home feel more relaxed but also reinvigorated.

 

Retro Appliances

While it seems everyone’s dream appliance for the past ten years has been stainless steel, we are slowly starting to see a transition! Interior designers are starting to throw in 50s-era fridges be it replicas or originals. Wood burning stoves add mountains of character to a space. Sure you can still keep all your super-modern technology, but retro appliances will be a kitschy addition that will add historic value and charm to your home.

 

That 70s Colour Palette

Every decade had about 5 or so shades that were painted onto absolutely everything. The 70s loved earthy tones like tan, mustard yellow, avocado green and all the other earthy tones associated with this spectrum. The lesson we’ve learned from the 70s is not to put these colours onto absolutely everything, but rather complement them with neutrals and even pastels!

 

Terazzo

While the past few retro comebacks harken from the 70s or around then, Terazzo made its name in the Art Deco movement of the 1920s. This poured floor works perfectly with the earthy materials or rattan, wicker and bamboo, and pick up the 70s colour palette perfectly. Use terrazzo in printed porcelain tiles, a bathroom set, even a wallpaper print.

 

Cork and Recycled Elements

At the heart of the retro comeback is this desire to preserve the past and be sustainable in our interior design choices. What better way to do that than with using other reusable materials such as cork or linoleum? Now that eco-chic is both affordable and trendy, traditional pieces that were made of these materials now fit perfectly in the 21st century home.

 

Did you know retro was making a comeback? If so, did you know these specific trends? Which are your favourite? Please let us know what you are envisioning for 2019 and 2020 interior design as we are embarking on an exciting new (old?) phase.

When Should You Accept The First Offer?

September 11, 2019
 One of the biggest conundrums any seller will face is what to do with the first offer they receive on their house. Some are excited and want to leap at the first offer, worried that they won’t receive better or other offers. Others want to wait until the right buyer comes along who either loves the home for what it is, or offers an extremely competitive (or above asking) price. In order to help you better come to a conclusion, here are a couple scenarios where accepting the first offer is a good idea.

 
You Are Selling In Winter
Have you noticed how your social calendar dips in winter? With the cold and unpredictable weather, you’d rather stay in where it’s warm and cozy. So if you don’t want to go out and do social things, what on earth would compel someone to go house hunting in winter? The answer is they would need something very compelling. Winter is notoriously known as a buyers market. Therefore, if you are selling in winter, accept your first offer as it may be your only offer.
 
Your Home Has Been On The Market A Long Time
If your home has been on the market for three months or longer, it has been on too long. If you haven’t lowered the price on your property at this point, you probably will be forced to in order to stay even a little bit competitive. Any offer that comes in should be the one you take. It may not be ideal, but if someone hasn’t nibbled in three months, that means there is not a lot of demand for your property.
 
You Receive An All-Cash Offer
Some people tend to be wary of all-cash offers because they are generally a little bit lower than asking price. But the reason you should be excited about all-cash offers is because they are a safe bet! This buyer doesn’t need to wait to be approved for a loan, they usually don’t have any contingencies. They like what they see and they want to make your home their home ASAP.
 
You Are Going Through A Major Life Event
Did you land a job in a different city, province or country? Chances are, you need to be out of your current home and into your new home in a hurry. So don’t wait around for better offers even though they could come. Because chances are, that better offer won’t cover the cost of the two mortgages you will be paying until you get the price you are actually looking for.
 
The same goes with expecting a baby. Once the baby is born you will have no time whatsoever to do anything except look after the baby. Do yourself a favour and sell your house and move into your house before the baby is born so you can focus on your major life event rather than mortgage payments.

 
There are plenty of reasons why you should accept
 the first offer. This by no means is a comprehensive list. If you would like to learn more about when you should accept the first offer, let us know!

Why You Should Buy A Town House

September 4, 2019
Let’s face it Toronto is an expensive city to live in. Some people who yearn forever to live in a house but can only afford a condo might feel frustrated when it comes to house hunting. Enter the Town House. Town Houses are a wonderful middle ground that makes you feel like you have that single-detached family home experience in prime urban real estate.

 

So, what else is so good about Town Houses?

 

HOA Fees

Upon first glance, you might think that this is a negative, not a positive to Town House living, but hear us out. Yes, condos are notorious for having a laundry list of amenities and a condo fee to match the size of that list. But when you live in a Town Home, you own a lot more of the property than you would in a condo. As a result, you’re getting coverage for things you need, not things you might never use. If you want to live in a home but are afraid of yard work, a Town House is the perfect place for you. Sure, if you want to plant some tulips or roses by your front door you absolutely can. But also if you want to do nothing to your yard and always have it look good, HOA fees are there for that. Just be on the lookout as some Town Houses aren’t a part of a HOA.

 

Be A Part Of A Community

For some reason, when you live in a detached-home neighbourhood, people don’t always come together and form a community. They like that distance. The same goes with condos where people, despite being so close together, have the ability to completely avoid one another for as long as they live there. But Town Houses are close enough that you will share a wall with your neighbours, while also having that comforting distance as well. And for some reason, that’s the secret sauce to community living. You can meet your neighbours at your HOA’s tennis court or pool, or your kids might end up playing together in the local playground.

 

Great Bang For Your Buck

The joy of sharing a wall or two means that those high-quality luxury finishes you were dreaming of in your home are much more of a possibility than if you were seeking those same finishes in a single-detached home. Town Houses can be located as close to your work or as far from your work as possible, meaning you are not restricted to a specific neighbourhood if you’re looking for a certain kind of lifestyle. Town Houses are generally cheaper than free-standing houses and if you buy them new they’re just as customizable as a single-detached new build.

If you want fewer chores around the house, if you want to pay a little less for your home without skimping on quality, and if you would like to be a part of a community Town Houses are the way to go. They’re great as a starter or forever home – so what are you waiting for?

How To Spot A Great Neighbourhood

August 28, 2019
Buying a home is arguably the largest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime. As a result, you want to make sure that purchase is the best it can possibly be. While you may know exactly what to look for on the inside of your home – what about the outside? We’re not talking curb appeal, we’re talking about what makes being home so great – your neighbourhood! But how do you know if a neighbourhood is good or not? Well, we’re glad you asked!

 

Pride in Ownership

When your neighbours put a lot of love and effort into their home, it makes the whole street look better. Which makes you more excited to drive home as well as more excited to spend time in and around your home. Plus, it boosts your own property’s value so it’s a win-win all around.

 

Great Schools

Regardless if you have a family or not, a great school will inevitably draw up developers to build great homes. Those great homes drive up prices, which instantly makes the neighbourhood more “elite” and “prestigious”. A great school can work wonders for your neighbourhood, and you will also know that you will be surrounded by people who care a lot about their children’s education.

 

Access to Amenities

You may have fallen in love with what you thought was your dream house, but then you realize it’s located in a food desert. A great neighbourhood will have you in close proximity to good medical centres, grocery stores, restaurants, parks, gas stations and the essentials you need for day-to-day living.

 

Walkability

It may be great that you have access to the above amenities, but how close is “close”? Can you walk there? Being able to leave your car keys at home and head out and enjoy your neighbourhood is what can make it so great! If you don’t have to travel far to have a good time, you can guarantee that you’ll be more consistently happy in your life. Curious about how to determine the walkability of a particular neighbourhood? Check out it’s walk score.

 

Close To Public Transportation

Being close to public transportation is great for a neighbourhood. It can make your commute to work a lot easier if you don’t have a car or want to save money on gas. It’s great for people with accessibility issues, the elderly, and kids who don’t always want a ride from their parents. Public transportation is a solid upgrade to any neighbourhood.

 

Low Crime Rate

Everyone wants to live in a safe neighbourhood, this may be one of the biggest things people look for when they are trying to determine if their neighbourhood is good. But determining if a neighbourhood has a low crime rate is a little tricky – you’ll need to go to your local police department and ask them information about a neighbourhood. If they have a good gut feeling about a neighbourhood, you can sleep easy every night.

So what do you think of the list? Do you agree? Do you think we left out anything important? Let us know in the comments what you think makes a great neighbourhood.

Mistakes When Selling A Home


August 21, 2019
Selling your home – especially if it’s your first time – can be surprisingly emotionally challenging. All of a sudden strangers are poking into your home and criticizing parts of your home you adored. Even though selling a home shouldn’t be personal, it’s hard to keep it from feeling that way. If you are really serious about selling your home, you should watch out from making these mistakes:


 

Not Hiring an Agent

Everyone wants to save money. When you realize you have to pay around 5% in commission on the sale of your home to hire the services of a REALTOR®, of course you want to see how you can avoid that cost. But a good real estate agent will help you reach a fair price for your home, and have marketing and sale connections you definitely won’t have. Hiring an agent can increase the likelihood your house will be sold quickly, and will take a lot of effort off your hands. Instead of being available all the time to show homes and fly off the seat of your pants with real estate knowledge, an agent can help take some emotion out of selling your home while keeping the tire-kickers at bay.

 

Setting an Unrealistic Price

Everyone wants the best price possible for their home. Whether it is because of emotional attachment or financial ambitions, when you sell a home you naturally want to sell it for the highest price. The problem with that is that if you set the price for your home too high, many people will not even consider viewing it, much less negotiating an offer with you. Just as a real estate agent will show you comparables (houses recently sold in your neighbourhood), buyers too, will have this knowledge. They will know what your home should be worth, and if you are substantially out of that margin you will likely get few if any viewings, let alone offers.

 

Being Tough on the Asking Price

Even if you choose to hire a REALTOR® and come to a decent price for your home, you may feel that the price you arrived to is the lowest you’ll feel comfortable selling your home. However, everyone likes to know they got a deal, and it is unlikely someone will offer the asking price. If you are too rigid in your asking price, you could turn away potential buyers from buying your home.

 

Listing in Winter

Unless life is forcing you to move in the winter time, avoid putting your house up on the market between November – March. When it’s cold out, you try to stay in as much as possible. So, too, will home buyers. As a result, fewer homes get listed during the winter months, making winter a buyer’s market. Buyers will have more room to negotiate prices and it will be less likely that you will get the price you want for your home.

 

Refusing to Declutter and Stage

If someone walking into your home can only see it as your home, they will never be able to envision it as their home. They don’t want to see your pile of dishes in the sink even if they have the same pile in their own home. If you do not declutter and stage your home so that it appears neutral and inviting, you risk reducing the value of your home substantially – if you even get an offer at all.

 

Not Accommodating Buyers

If a buyer is interested in viewing your home and you refuse the viewing because you had a long day at work and you just want to rest – you have instantly turned away a potential offer. Every viewing should be seen as a potential offer. The less accommodating you are to buyers, the less likely you will get an offer you like (if one at all!). Keeping your home clean and tidy before every single viewing is crucial. They won’t know or care that you had your house sparkling last week, they care about when they are interested to view it. Always be ready for potential buyers, even if it means you have to adjust your life a little.

 

The best part about knowing the mistakes when selling a home is seeing how easy they are to correct! As long as you prepare mentally, emotionally and financially for selling a home, you should be able to do it within a reasonable time frame.

 

How To Get Multiple Offers

August 14, 2019
Everyone wants to sell their home quickly, some dream of having such a marketable home that they generate multiple offers and sell their home for over asking. Is it possible? Yes! How do you achieve the best case scenario of generating multiple offers on your home? Here are a few tips that you can do:

 

Price Your Home Aggressively

If you’ve ever purchased something on eBay, you will have a concept of the “auction” atmosphere. The lower the starting bid is for an item, the more people get excited at the prospect of winning the item for a steal of a deal. This is not to say that you should list your home for pennies on the dollar, but if you price it under what you think it’s worth, it will easily yield in more viewings. And with more viewings comes the increased likelihood of offers. Hopefully, multiple!

 

Give Ample Access

Time is our most scarce resource, especially while house hunting. While it might be easy to view dozens of homes online in the span of an hour, home buyers are reticent to purchase a property they haven’t viewed in person. But if you as a seller are never able to have your home viewed by either buyers and/or brokers, you put yourself in a predicament. Just as busy as you are, so is the potential buyer. If they can’t view your home, there isn’t a hope of a chance that they’ll bid on it. Just as pricing your home aggressively will yield more viewings, providing ample access for viewings also can generate multiple offers.

 

Stage Your Home To Perfection

If you simply spruce up what you already have, or put in the bare minimum costs to make your home more appealing, that will reflect in the demand of your home. Those homes that are breathtaking in every corner will be the ones people go home and talk about with their families. This means you will want to make your home spotless at all times, decluttered everywhere, and freshly painted. If any floors need replacing or look less than brand new, replace them! Make sure every window and door works – every faucet, every element on your stove. Buyers will check everything and if they can’t find fault, there will be a mad dash to make offers.

 

Create A Timeline For Market Exposure

While it may sound like a dream come true to get an offer the day you list your home, it’s unlikely to get several offers on your first day. Many people can only view homes on weekends and your target buyer(s) might not be able to come on day one. By establishing a timeline with your real estate agent, you can plan for one to two open houses, an offer date that manages to balance market exposure while still creating a sense of urgency.

 

At the end of the day, none of these tips will guarantee you multiple offers, but it will set you up to hopefully get as many offers as possible (and hopefully, soon!). The most important lesson to take is to be in constant review of which marketing practices are working and which aren’t when it comes to your listing. Being able to course-correct quickly can make a big difference in how quickly your home sells, and how many offers you can get.

Hidden Costs of Buying A Home

August 7, 2019
Are you a go-getter when it comes to house hunting? You might be aware that you can be pre-approved for a mortgage, and you might have saved up a sizable down payment, but have you prepared for all the hidden costs of buying a home? If you’re not sure what these costs are, or simply want to verify that you have budgeted for all of them, here is a handy guide to prepare you:

Home Inspection

The average house hunter, before putting in an offer on a property, will get a home inspection. This inspection is done by a registered professional who will check every nook and cranny in the property to see what is in working order, what needs to be repaired, and if there are any major issues with the home. This inspection will help you determine if you want to proceed with your offer as well as how much your offer should be. The average cost of this inspection will set you back anywhere between $300 - $500.

Property Evaluation Fee

Some mortgage lenders will require you to have your home evaluated to confirm its market value and whether that value is reasonable for the market. This will cost you approximately $300 if your lender requires this.

Land Survey Fee

If the seller cannot produce an up-to-date survey or certificate of location, you may need to pay for a land survey fee to finalize your mortgage loan. Title insurance can be accepted in lieu of a land survey, however. The cost of a land survey fee can be anywhere between $1000 - $2000 depending on the size and type of the property.

Title Insurance

Title insurance policies are one of the most important and protective measures in closing costs. It protects both you and the lender from title fraud, zoning violations, municipal work orders and other property defects. If your real estate lawyer does not include this in their fees it will cost you approximately $400.

Property Insurance

Property insurance can provide ample coverage for a wide variety of situations. While the law requires that at minimum you must insure your home against fire or significant damage for at least its replacement cost, you may choose to add more coverages. The cost for property insurance has many variables in it: who you choose to insure your home, what discounts you may be eligible for and how much coverage you are seeking will all factor the cost.

Land Transfer Tax

After closing day you will pay a provincial and municipal tax that is based on the purchase price of your new home. This tax mainly applies to resale homes. In order to determine the most accurate cost of land transfer tax, we recommend you speak to your real estate lawyer and they can help you budget accordingly.

Adjustments

Also known as prepaid taxes, this cost reimburses the seller who has already paid taxes and utility costs on the property before you took ownership of it. To better determine how much this costs, please speak to your real estate lawyer.

HST

If you are purchasing a newly constructed home or a home that has been substantially renovated, your home may be subject to HST. If you are required to pay HST, see if you qualify for a new housing rebate!

Legal Fees and Disbursements

While a few of the costs above are either determined by your lawyer or included in your lawyer’s fees, you still have to pay for your real estate lawyer to perform all these tasks. Conducting a title search, preparing your mortgage, and drafting the title deed are all things your real estate lawyer will do for you. Call around and get at least 3 quotes, the average price will cost you at least $500 plus tax.

We hope these “hidden costs” are no longer hidden for you, and that this helpful guide will help you establish a better budget when preparing to buy your home!

How To Maintain A Home In Show Ready Condition

 

July 31, 2019
 
Keeping your home show-ready is hard even on the best of days. Factoring in work, kids, and the regular demands of life can add even more obstacles to keeping your home show-ready. Here are some tips to not only make your home show ready, but also to KEEP it show ready at all times.

 Always Opt For The More Convenient Option

Though our natural instincts (and our bank accounts) may suggest otherwise, know that opting for convenience in the short term will allow for larger dividends in the long run. If your home is constantly show ready, you have a higher chance of more viewings. The more viewings you have, the more likely it is your home will sell!

 So what does opting for convenience look like in this scenario?

 Professional Cleaning: Scheduling a professional cleaning service to come in once a week or once a month to help with the bigger deep cleaning tasks in your home will ensure you’re spending less of your non-working hours preparing your home for viewings.

 While you’re at it, consider professionally “cleaning” your lawn by hiring lawncare professionals to maintain your front and back yards (if you own a house) so that your home always has curb appeal upon a viewing.

 Disposable Items: Instead of panicking that you didn’t have time to do the dishes right before a potential buyer comes to visit, opt for disposable plates and cups so you can quickly bin them and take them out of the house where they can’t be smelled!

 If you’re expecting guests or even fear having too much garbage, consider eating out more often! That way all the dishes and kitchen cleaning chores are someone else’s problem.

 

Extracurricular Activities: If you have children, signing them up for day camps, or other extracurricular activities outside the home is a great idea to keep household chores to a minimum. You won’t have to worry about finding somewhere for them to go to while the property is being viewed because they’ll already be out having fun!

 

This is also a great idea for yourself and the adults of the home. Instead of staying home potentially making small messes, sign up for a few gym classes or hobby clubs so that you’re not stuck staring at the clock waiting for a potential buyer to show up. Instead, you’re living life to the fullest while your house is being sold.

 

And just to keep on top of everything right before a potential buyer does show up, a great rule of thumb is to give everyone in the house a routine set of chores to do in the 15 min before a viewing. These can be brief tasks like wiping surfaces, picking up things off the floor, hiding dirty laundry, and keeping the sinks washed clean.

 

Last but not least, a great way to keep your home always show-ready is to always have it smelling nice! Instead of throwing something in the oven right before someone arrives, always have a neutral smell going in the house. It could be a diffuser of lavender oil, or a vanilla plug-in scented oil freshener. One of these can last up to a few weeks but can make a big difference in the overall impression someone has of your home.

How Emotions Affect Home Buying

July 24, 2019
Many people associate emotional baggage with selling a home and not buying home. With selling a home, the sellers are attached because they may have raised their kids in their home, they may have major renovations to it to make it more their style, etc. But it is important to remember that buyers have just as many strong emotions as sellers do when it comes to the real estate market. So how do emotions fit into the home buying process?

 

When Deciding To Buy

There are many reasons to incentivise a person to buy a house. They could be moving due to a job relocation, they could be expanding their family – these not only create a desire to buy a house but they create a short timeline. This can lead to having a very rushed and occasionally impatient buyer. This is because they buyer is more focused on their life event, and the property is a means to an end.

 

If the buyer is a first-time homebuyer, they might harbour fear or anxiety as this is likely the largest purchase they’ve made to date and they do not want to make the wrong purchase.

 

When Going To Viewings

There are so many emotions a buyer can have when viewing a property. Here are just a few key scenarios to be aware of.

 

Immediate emotional attachment: Some buyers get carried away. It could be the right style of house, or it could be that some features of the house outweigh a lot of the practicalities they are looking for in a home. Whatever the reason, it can be very easy to fall in love with a home, it’s just important to ensure that the house is as good for you as you are thinking it is in the moment.

 

Disappointment can occur from catfishing. If a home buyer becomes interested in a property based off the property’s photos, but comes to find that in reality the home is much smaller and darker than expected – disappointment can easily sink in. What may have been an immediate emotional attachment can turn into an emotional crash.

 

This is a great time to remind that the average homebuyer will look at approximately 16 properties before making an offer. However, average numbers do not mean they are the standard! Some people can look at over 40 without making an offer, some will make an offer after looking only at 5 or 6.

 

When Negotiating

Emotions naturally peak at this stage in the roller coaster of homebuyer emotions. Generally the emotions of a homebuyer at this stage are anxiety, impatience and eagerness. They are hoping their offer will be accepted but they are worried it might be rejected outright. They might be overwhelmed at all the legal language they have to learn when it comes to disclosures and contracts.

 

When Receiving A Home Inspection

Especially if a homebuyer is a property virgin, they might not be aware or expecting that a home inspector’s job is to find fault in a home. Even though every single home will have issues, this is a point where homebuyers can be easily scared off.

 

Buying a home is an emotional decision. It is emotional at every single corner in the house hunting process. By being able to isolate and unpack the feelings of a homebuyer throughout the sale process, real estate agents can better provide customer service to their clients and even prevent negative emotions from even happening.

How To Tell If A House Is Overpriced

July 18, 2019
Everyone wants the best price for their home, which means they sell their home for the highest price possible. But if you price your home too high it can sit on the market for months and may not even sell. The longer a property is on the market, the more questions a potential buyer draws in their head – is there something wrong with the house?

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine whether your property is overpriced.

Is Your Property Priced Much Higher Than Your Neighbours?

You might have done major transformations to your home, kept it to an excellent standard, or simply love it an incredible amount – but if you significantly price your home higher than your neighbours potentially buyers might not even consider looking at the property at all. If you’re hoping to look for a sucker, you will either spend a long time looking or not find one at all. Price your home based off of a fair home evaluation.

How Did You Pick Your Real Estate Agent?

Most people will interview a few real estate agents to gauge how much their property is worth. Each real estate agent will perform their own home evaluation encouraging you that they will be able to sell your house for the price they appraise it for. But if you go with the highest valuation of your property, you take a risk. This real estate agent might just be vying for your business, knowing that eventually you will have to lower the price of your property, or they may simply be experienced. Either way, it might be to your advantage to not go for the agent that gives you the highest valuation of your property.

How Much Traffic Has Your Listing Had?

Before even going to a REALTOR®, many home buyers will start their house hunting online themselves. If your home is not getting a lot of traffic online there will be an even less likely chance that those page hits will turn into viewings. Buyers sometimes put price ranges in their house hunting search online, and if yours is very high, your property might not come up in their search – even if they are looking for a property in your neighbourhood.

How Many Offers Has Your Listing Had?

Maybe your property has had a few viewings, but for some reason you haven’t had any serious interest that results into an offer. Numerous viewings without an offer can mean that potential buyers are scared off by your price so much that they don’t feel that any offer will be taken seriously.

Instead of no offers, has your property had “low-ball” offers? If your property’s price has entertained low-ball offers it could be that your home has been on the market for a long time at a price that didn’t yield competitive offers. This sends lots of red flags to potential buyers which makes it less likely you’ll actually get the price you are hoping for.

To avoid overpricing your home, make sure you are going with a real estate agent that has experience, a good mentor by their side, and knows your area well. Overpricing your home will rarely result in selling your home for the listing price. Price your home fairly to you and to your seller and hopefully you can end up in a bidding war!

How Much Should I Bid If There Are Multiple Offers?

July 10, 2019

It finally happened. You found the house you’ve fallen in love with and want to place an offer. You go to your REALTOR® sign an offer and write a cheque for your money deposit. You pace around in anticipation until your real estate agent calls you back. While you sent in a bid, three other people did as well, and unfortunately your bid lost. How did this happen? How can you prevent it from happening again?

Unfortunately, in a seller’s market it is common for a home to receive multiple offers. Even if a home is dated and neglected, it is possible to receive multiple offers within minutes of one another. We’re here to tell you to not lose hope. Even though it may seem like there is no point to writing an offer on what could easily turn into a bidding war, it is important to remember that there is always a winning offer. So why can’t that winning offer be yours? Here are some sure-fire tips to make sure your bid become the winning bid.

Get Pre-Approved

The best way to appear serious to a seller is to start strong. Go to your bank or mortgage lender and ask to be preapproved for a certain mortgage amount. Even if it is not the exact amount as the property you are looking for, if it is

within your budget (especially under!) you will appear as a strong buyer in the seller’s eyes.

Your First Offer Should Be Your Best Offer

This sounds counter-intuitive as many people like to haggle, but if you worry that there will be multiple bids on the property you wish to make an offer on, you should submit your best offer as your first offer. This offer could even be above asking price. Don’t be surprised if you see a property you love that’s at too good of a price. It usually means the seller is hoping for multiple offers so always make sure what you go in with is the best you can give to ensure you get it.

Be Flexible With Your Move In Date

A seller may love your offer, may love how serious and strong of a buyer you may appear, but may not be able to work with your move in date. Make sure that you are flexible with that time period as they may want to move out straight away or may need some time until they find the right house. Always be flexible with your move in date when making an offer.

The Bigger The Deposit The Better

Sellers fear that even if they accept an offer, a buyer may back out of their offer or default on their contract. Therefore, the more serious you appear as a buyer, the more likely a seller is to accept your offer. As submitting a money deposit is part of your down payment, you can stand out from competing bidders with a higher than average expected deposit. The more you put in, the more serious you appear to the seller and the more likely they’ll accept your offer.

At the end of the day, remember that while it is entirely possible that you can enter a bidding war on a property you love, make sure you are bidding to win your home, not just bidding to win. It’s very easy to get caught up emotionally in a bidding war (especially for those who are competitive). Play nice, prepare for a counter offer, and hopefully that dream home you are bidding on will be yours!

 

How To Save Money On Condo Fees

July 3rd, 2019

Condo fees. They are both the best and worst part of condo life. They’re the best because they cover your lovely amenities that you don’t have to maintain yourself (other than paying for them). They’re the worst part because they’re an additional expense to living that for the most part, only keeps increasing. So if your heart is set on the condo lifestyle, how do you keep those condo fees as low as possible? Here are some tips:

AMENITIES

Underground Parking

For some, underground parking is an absolute necessity. It’s a great way to keep your car protected in wet or winter months. But it’s also surprisingly expensive to maintain. If you can find an outdoor parking space in or around your building, it might be a better option in the long run.

Pool

Some people, especially those with children, love pools. Some, if we’re being honest, merely like the idea of a pool. If you have no intention to visit the pool at least once a week forego a condo that offers one. Join a gym and use their pool, it’ll save you more than you think.

Board Of Directors

Say you found a condo that you love and it does have bells and whistles for amenities. A great way to lower the cost is to join the board. While you will be taking on additional responsibilities out of your work hours, you can have a big voice in how the money is spent in your condo – ensuring your condo fees are right where you want them to me.

 

BUILDING OPTIONS

New vs. Old Condos

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the older the condo the higher the condo fees. If you are very keen to live in a condo and want the lowest condo fees your best bet is to live in a condo that is at the very most ten years old. It’s very unlikely there will be any significant roof replacements or repaving of driveways.

Townhouses

Condos are not the only residences that have affordable prices as well as lovely amenities. If you are looking for lots of space, great amenities but low monthly maintenance fees, consider townhouses.

GREAT RESOURCES

REALTOR®s

The experts who know every condo and townhouse fee out there are real estate agents. Based on your needs we at RLP Central TO will be able to help you find the best residence with the best fees for you. So why don’t you drop a comment after this blog, send us an email or shoot us a call? We’d love to explain to you which condos and townhouses have low fees, which have high fees, which buildings have issues related to age or amenities and more!

The best way to reach us is by going to our main page. Here you will find our email, our phone number, our address, as well as all of our social media. You pick how you want to get in touch with us, we’d love to chat!

Do Public Utilities On A Property Affect Desirability?

There are several kinds of public utilities that can be placed on a property: telephone boxes, fire hydrants, storm drains, etc. This is because, more often than not, the first five or six feet from the road is defined as a public easement. For those not in the know, an easement is a right to use someone else’s land for a specified purpose. In this case, it’s the government’s right to use your land for the specified purpose of public utilities such as those named above. They are helpful for the whole of the community, and they try not to take up too much space on your land.

Based on our experience, here is what we have learned about public utilities on properties and how they affect desirability.

 

Telephone and Cable Boxes

Though these are not as common as they used to be, you can still find them occasionally in neighbourhoods. For some reason, out of all the public utilities, these are the least well-kept. This is because snowplows are wont to ding them in the winter, or people break into them to steal cable. Because this public utility is interacted with far more than the others, it is surprising they aren’t repaired enough.

 

Bottom line: If your property had a telephone or cable box, you might find that it marginally detracts from the desirability, but probably not enough to dissuade a serious buyer.

Fire Hydrants

While most people identify fire hydrants as great places for their dogs to do their business, they’re actually supremely helpful. The closer you are to a fire hydrant, the easier it is for your house to be serviced by one in the case of a fire.

Bottom line: You might not like the look of a fire hydrant, but your insurance company does! This can lower your insurance and perhaps that might make you happier to have one on your property.

Electrical Boxes

These boxes are big, there’s no denying that. But the positive thing is that they are rarely used, so you can actually plant shrubbery to mask it. Think of seeing your electrical box as a landscaping opportunity in your front yard, and who knows what creative juices can come out!

Bottom line: Electrical boxes are the middle of the road. Yes they are big and bulky so they can take up prime space in your front yard, but you can also cover them up and incorporate that into your landscape design.

As you can see, different public utilities affect desirability in different ways. Some people offhand might not appreciate that they have a fire hydrant on their property until they realize that their insurance company loves it! Some might not want electrical boxes until they realize they can cover them up. At the end of the day, these are minor nuisances for the greater good. They might ever so slightly affect the desirability of your property if you are thinking of listing, but a buyer who loves your house will likely not be dissuaded because of the public utility located on the end of your driveway or yard.

How Do You Negotiate After A Home Inspection?

June 19, 2019
It is a common misconception that the bulk of negotiations on a real estate deal happen at the signing of the contract. Yet, this is actually only the starting point of negotiations. Negotiations, especially in competitive real estate markets, can occur even into escrow.

 

One of the biggest reasons for renegotiations in a property contract occur because a home inspection turned up significant repairs that required to be done. It is guaranteed that a home inspection will show several things that need to be fixed in a home. These issues can range from very minor to very major. In order to get the best deal on the house, or to ensure you are getting the house you hoped for, here are some important tips for negotiating your property contract after getting a home inspection done.

 

Ask For A Credit

The closer the property is toward its closing date, the less likely the sellers will be interested in repairing their old home. Furthermore, if they do fix it because a home inspection showed that a part of it needed to be fixed, it might not be fixed with the same conscientiousness as a new owner would demonstrate. Your primary focus is your new home, so is theirs.

 

If you ask for a cash-back credit at the close of escrow, you can use that money to complete whatever projects you need to do according to the home inspection. As this is your new investment and new love, it’s very likely that you will do a better job. Getting a credit saves you a lot of headache of communicating back-and-forth with the seller to confirm that repairs have been made, especially to your standard.

 

Think “Big Picture”

When you move into your new home, you likely have already created a plan of action for the house. Perhaps you saw that one of the bathrooms is close to being outdated in terms of style. Upon a home inspection, you also discover that a little bit of the floor in that bathroom is damaged and that the tiles need caulking. If you already had plans that in a few years you would renovate the space, you might not want to negotiate. However, you can still negotiate the repairs! Asking the seller for a credit to repair these issues could help offset some of your closing costs.

 

Have A Good Poker Face

As you go through the home inspection with the inspector and the listing agent, it is paramount that you keep mum. A revelation of an emotion either way could lead to disastrous consequences. For example, if you spend a large amount of time during the home inspection measuring the space and picking out paint colours, you will lose negotiation power as this information will definitely be relayed to the seller. Any issues that turn up in the home inspection will be ignored because they know your intentions. Any hope to get a credit back to repair a kitchen cabinet or two (especially if you were banking on that credit to do the renovation) are gone. Conversely, if you are too uneasy with the issues cropping up, the listing agent may relay this to the seller in a way that makes you appear as not a serious buyer for the property.

At the end of the day, the main takeaway you should take is that negotiations do not start and end with the original contract. Always remember that you can negotiate after a home inspection if flaws are found. If no flaws are found (an unlikely, yet plausible event) you risk alienating the sellers – incentivizing them to seek out another buyer. Until money changes hands, never assume the deal is done. Stay vigilant and be fair in your negotiations!

Cool and Unusual Things To Do In Toronto

If you’ve spent long enough in Toronto you will come to learn all of the local favourites: High Park, the ROM, the AGO, Ripley’s Aquarium, the St. Lawrence Market, the CN Tower, etc. It’s possible that you’ve even seen these awesome attractions more than once. But if you are seeking to see the flavour and personality of Toronto off the beaten path, look no further than here. Here are some really cool and unusual things to do in Toronto.

 

The Monkey’s Paw

This is the place to be if you are a bibliophile. The Monkey’s Paw specializes in uncommon books and paper artifacts and hosts the world’s first “Biblio-Mat” – a random book vending machine!

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Located inside the giant peacock that also houses Robarts Library on the U of T campus, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is a quiet lush world covered in red carpet – befitting of the A-List books you’ll find inside. No, they won’t be Heather’s Pick books you would find at Indigo, rather, in this library you will find some of the rarest books in the world that you can touch and read. Choose from hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable, gorgeous tomes that can transport you to another world.

 

Winter Garden Theatre

The Winter Garden Theatre is a beauty to behold. Not only is it part of the last double-decker theatre in the entire world, but being in the Winter Garden Theatre will transport you to another world. Different from a traditional theatre room, the ceiling is draped with botanicals and blooms of your wildest dreams, making the theatre just as pretty, if not more, than what you will see on stage.

 

Sewers Of Toronto

This may seem like an odd choice, but there is a special world underneath Toronto that most have not yet explored. Most sewage tunnels aren’t worth seeing. They’re dark, damp, cramped and smell like, well, sewage. Toronto’s is an historic set of tunnels that are well-maintained, wide and extremely high. The ones you see in movies that you imagine are just in movies? Well, in Toronto they’re real. In fact, the best description we can give is that they more closely resemble our subway tunnels than typical sewage tunnels. Each leg of the sewer system has a unique story to tell. The Garrison Creek Sewer was once a creek that was above ground! If you’re a daring soul, find a public works employee and have them take you through any manhole or sewer grate you see – as without a public works employee it is definitely prohibited to enter these magical underground tunnels.

 

Lower Bay Station

Though the TTC is not as old and mysterious as the subway systems in New York and Paris, there are still mysteries abound that you can explore. One of the curiosities that has been revealed to the public is Lower Bay Station – an abandoned subway station that was briefly in service in 1966. Lower Bay was meant to be a station that turned Toronto’s two subway lines into three – but it failed. However, it has since risen to fame as a popular area for film shoots and Nuit Blanche. There are plenty of other secrets to be discovered along the TTC, from partially built streetcar stations, boarded up attics that lead to a world of wonder at Lawrence Station, even the transit control room.

Which mystery do you think you’ll be up for trying? Are you more of a fantasy dreamer to visit the Winter Garden Theatre? Or do you think you’re a clandestine explorer ready to see what is lurking in the sewers of Toronto? Let us know!

Things To Do On Moving Day

June 5, 2019
The big day is finally here! It’s filled with excitement as you are about to embark on your new life in a new place, but it can also be filled with anxiety. You may worry what will happen if things don’t go according to plan such as your movers showing up late (or worse not at all). You may worry if someone gets hurt during the move, or that the weather is poor during the move. There is an infinite list of things to worry about on moving day, so here is an essential checklist to help you with everything on moving day to prevent you from having any of these worries!

 

Become A Morning Bird – If Only For Today

Get up early. Like at the crack of dawn early. Make sure you had a well-rested night’s sleep the night before, but it is without a doubt a fact that the earlier you get up the more you can get done before the movers arrive! You won’t feel the need to rush things and you’ll have time to have a proper breakfast too.

 

Pack The Last Of Your Items

After you’ve ate, showered and dressed yourself for the day make sure you pack every last little thing that you needed to use in your old house before moving out. This could be blankets, pillows, sheets, your pyjamas that you just slept in – even your bed! Also remember your toiletries that you used in the morning as well as any kitchen items you used or needed to make your breakfast this morning. This is also a good time to do a sweep of all the boxes you’ve previously packed to make sure they’re all tightly sealed and labeled properly.

 

Take Photos Of Everything

There are so many reasons to take photos. One is to take memories of your old home, even though it doesn’t really look the way it did when you lived in it. Another reason is to have proof of the current condition of your furniture, appliances, and the general condition of your old home in case any accidents or complaints crop up. It’s also particularly helpful in your new home because now you will have a guide how to reassemble or reconnect furniture and/or appliances.

 

Set Aside Personal Valuables

There will be some things you load into the moving truck, and there will be some things you’d rather keep with you. Anything that is essential (personal electronics such as laptops, tablets, cellphones), tickets and keys, documents, family heirlooms and jewelry should be kept somewhere separate and locked so that only you and your family members have access to it. It’s incredibly easy to misplace things on moving day, so keeping all of the important things in one place will help you remember where they are.

Do you think we’ve missed out an essential tip on this checklist for moving day? Let us know by leaving a comment! We’d love to grow and improve this checklist with the help of our knowledgeable readers.

The Future of Work and Automation

May 30, 2019
It is without doubt that over the past 30 years we have seen a huge leap in the advancement of technology. While it has greatly improved our daily lives, its greatest impact has been felt in the workplace. Artificial intelligence and automation has complemented human labour in the workplace so such an extent that it has transformed the nature of work and the workplace itself. Some jobs we have seen decline because of this, while others have grown substantially.

The current belief is that there will be enough work to go around despite this giant progression, but we as a society will need to learn how to grapple with the significant dislocation and transitions in the workforce. Part of the solution will come from workers acquiring new skills in order to adapt and hold value vis-à-vis increasingly capable machines that seek to create a more streamlined and efficient workforce. Some workers will have to completely divert their work part and seek new occupations that have yet to find a machine counterpart.

The positions that are predicted to be easily automated are generally physical activities that live in highly structured and predictable environments. This could be data processing, collection, manual labour, etc. These positions account for just under half of the most common work activities in the world. The categories of positions that are the least susceptible to automation are those that interface with other humans such as managing, working with stakeholders, and providing expertise.

It is important to remember that just because an area in the workforce can be affected by automation does not mean that it will be fully replaced by automation. Many tend to balloon the idea when in actuality, it is predicted that only about 5% of current occupations will be fully automated by the current automated and AI technology we have today. At present, 30-60% of current occupations have portions of their work that are automatable. So whether you are a CEO or a mortgage broker, most of us at one point in our career will work alongside rapidly evolving machines.

Instead of being scared for the future, take this as an incentive to always be learning new skills. To learn to work effectively and well with automated machines. Be prepared for jobs to be completely redesigned, for new jobs to be created. The best jobs to be in require either advanced technological skills or deep social, emotional and cognitive skills (such as critical thinking and complex information processing). Even if your current position requires a lot of physical and manual skills, do not panic. While these jobs will decline rapidly, they are still predicted to be the single largest category of workforce skills in 2030 in many countries.

How do you see your job being affected by automation and artificial intelligence? How do you already integrate technology into your career? How will you continue to add technology into your career to improve your efficiency and output? Let us know by leaving a comment!

The Importance of Goal Setting

May 22, 2019

You may think creating a goal is something people do only for New Year’s. You may think that creating goals takes time away from achieving greatness. These assumptions are wrong. If you want to excel in life, particularly in your career, you need to set goals. Here are six reasons that explain the importance of goal setting.

Goals Propel You Forward

It’s unbelievably easy to create anxiety in your life. If you create a goal that says you want to lose a certain amount of weight or you want to sell a certain number of properties that is only half a goal. You have nothing to work toward it’s just a looming number that creates pressure with nowhere to go. By creating a goal and setting yourself a deadline you are constantly reminded that you need to work toward something with a finish line. This way, even after the excitement fades about working toward something, you can still visualize and connect with your goals in a way that gives you energy.

Goals Turn Mountains Into Molehills

Most of us have big, beautiful, ambitious dreams. Some might see these dreams as insurmountable, but that’s because they haven’t broken down their goals into achievable steps. So for example, you want to be a published author. You won’t just wake up one day and be one, and the thought of writing a whole book can be overwhelming. But if you break up your goal into smaller goals – writing a chapter every week, meeting with a new publisher or agent every month, you can get much faster to your goal than you thought. When your mountain is turned into a molehill or several molehills allows you to feel a measurable increase in your progression and this can propel you to keep going, even when things get tough.

Goals Instil Self-Value

When you create a goal, you aren’t just building a dream and turning it into reality. That’s half the magic of a goal. The other half of the magic is that setting a goal inherently says you believe in yourself. You have value and you can do great things. Goal setting gives us the inspiration to aim for things we never thought we could do.

Goals Show You Right From Wrong

This isn’t meant in the moral sense. Imagine you created a goal with a deadline of one year. Yet, by the sixth month, you’ve begun to notice that you’ve really not made any substantial progress. Because you created a goal and created steps to achieve this goal, you are able to quantify and measure what you did, what doesn’t work, and now you are signalled to change in order to achieve your goal. Instead of lamenting that you are a failure, goal setting holds you accountable to change for the better.

Goals Tell Us What We Want

This may seem self-evident, yet for many it is not. This is because there are many of us out there who are too afraid to dream. Creating a goal, be it a personal or professional one, requires introspection. You may think you want more free time, but perhaps after a lot of reflection you realize that it’s not the free time you need in life, what you need is something to feel passionate about. Sometimes, people think they want to be alone when really they are confusing the need for space as a call that they don’t have enough positive people in their life.

Goals Help Us Live Life To The Fullest

When you set a goal you are pushing yourself. You are squeezing every drop of life out of you instead of coasting or living with regret. When you create goals, you make every day count. Imagine life as a holiday. When you go on vacation its usually for a limited time. You can choose to take in as many sights as possible and eat as many delicious things as possible, or you can choose to rest. Perhaps you want a bit of both. But because you want to make the most of your trip you plan accordingly. Treat your life and your goals in the same way and you will see how you can live life to the fullest.

There are so many important reasons to set a goal in life. It pushes you to achieve more than you thought you could, it forces you to think about what you really want from life, and it teaches you which methods work toward achieving success and which don’t. Now the important question is – what goal will you set for yourself?

How To Buy In A Seller’s Market

May 15, 2019

Spring is, without question a buyer’s market. It is the busiest time of the year to buy and sell houses as people are eager to come out of hibernation and make the most of a new, warmer season. But when homes come off the market almost as quickly as they come on, how can you ensure that you beat the competition and find the right home? Here are some essential tips to use when trying to buy in a seller’s market.

Get Pre-Approved

You want to make the life of the seller as easy as possible. A great way to do this is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. You don’t need to get pre-approved for every house that you are possibly interested in, but even getting approved for a certain amount and having that documentation with you can speak volumes about how serious you are as a buyer. Just remember that a pre-approval letter is not a guarantee for a mortgage, but it will give you a solid idea of what you can afford.

Use Escalation Clauses

In a seller’s market, it’s likely that you could enter into a bidding war on a property. To save you from feeling anxious, set out an escalation clause with your REALTOR® as well as your real estate lawyer so that it will be pre-determined how much more you are willing to pay over a competing offer. This is another great way to show how serious of a buyer you are to a seller.

Be Flexible

We don’t mean take yoga classes, we mean be flexible with the time you may want or need to move into the new property. Some sellers will want to be out of their old home within 30 days, others may want 60 or more. The more flexible you are with your ability to move in, the more you can appeal to the variety of sellers on the market.

 

Show Your Feelings

If you really, really want a property and are afraid of entering into a bidding war, consider writing the sellers a heartfelt letter. Maybe you can picture your children already playing on the tire swing in the back yard, maybe this home is within walking distance of a place you volunteer at. While some sellers will sell their property only to the highest bidder, there are some who will develop emotional attachments and will want to ensure their home goes to someone who will appreciate it the most.

Do A Pre-Inspection

A pre-inspection is like a house inspection except it is usually shorter than a regular one. It costs a few hundred dollars but again, shows true seriousness in your determination to buy. While a pre-inspection is nowhere near as thorough as a full house inspection, it will give you a sense of what’s right and wrong with the property before you put in an offer. This shows to the seller that you have some skin in the game and they may be more willing to sell it to you.

Buying a Condo in Toronto

May 7, 2019

It’s 2019 – why are you still paying rent? This is the year that you can change how you invest in yourself. Instead of giving your hard-earned money to your landlord each month, why not invest it in yourself and your own property? It is possible, especially in Toronto! If you work in Toronto, commuting will not necessarily save you money in the long or short term. Living as close to work as possible is one of the smartest financial decisions you can do. So why not step the ante up and see what you can buy? Here are some essential tips to help you buy a condo in Toronto.

Redo Your Finances

With the market being so hot right now, it’s almost guaranteed that the prices of downtown Toronto condos have increased from the time you began saving for a down payment. So if your budget was $500 000 and you had your eye on a specific type of condo with that price, chances are that condo is now worth $550 000. So either you need to save more than you think you need, or recalculate your expectations based on your budget.

Buying in Summer Could Save You Money

The hottest time of the year to buy and sell a house is spring, with fall as a close second. Most people wait to list their homes during this time for this very reason. However, in the summer, most families are on vacation or are preoccupied with summer activities to go house hunting. This is when the tables turn and it becomes a bit more of a buyer’s market. If you are keen to get a very good deal, the summer months will give you the greatest opportunity for sellers to be flexible in their sale price.

Consider Buying on Assignment

An assignment is when the buyer of a pre-construction condo chooses to sell the property before they officially take possession of the condo. This can give you the opportunity to live in a brand new, never-been-lived-in condo in Toronto. The prices will not be as cheap as pre-construction, but they will definitely be more a great investment as they will not have reached their highest level of potential value yet!

Buy ASAP

Because the Toronto real estate market is currently booming, there is no time quite like the present to purchase. It is practically guaranteed that any property you do purchase will increase in value. Therefore, the logic follows that the sooner you purchase a property, the farther your money will go. You can take the risk to wait for the right deal, but the truth will be inevitable that the sooner you decide to buy the better it will be for your investment.

If you are thinking about buying a condo in Toronto and would like more advice, please feel free to contact our brokerage here. We would love to help you find the condo of your dreams for the best price possible.

What Do You Need To Know To Become A Successful Realtor?

May 1, 2019

 

Whether you are just starting out, or have hit a rut in your real estate career, you will find yourself at one point thinking, “what do I need to do to become successful?” To be a successful real estate agent involves more than just passing a test. You need to put yourself on the right path. There are many things you can say or try to be a more successful realtor. Here are five tried and tested ways that we think you won’t want to pass up.

Maintain A Backup Income

The goal is to ideally have enough money to sustainably live six months without obtaining a commission. It is easy to appreciate that when you are starting out, or if you are in a rough patch, this can be hard to do. Sometimes, it takes many months to sell your first home or to get out of your funk. There is no shame in having something on the side to pay the bills.

Find A Good Mentor

Unfortunately, the real estate licence exam doesn’t teach you everything you need to know to be a successful REALTOR®. Sometimes, finding a good mentor or broker who will let you assist with their deals can teach you vital lessons for your career. You will learn how explain important terms to clients such as surveys, deeds, title insurances, encumbrances and liens. Even helping out on a handful of deals can give you immeasurable experience.

Build A Contact Management System

A well-organized and clearly labelled contact management system is going to change your business. You will meet hundreds, maybe thousands of people across the span of your career. By having it all in one easy to read place, you will know who is a buyer, who is a seller, who is an investor, a lawyer, a mortgage broker, an inspector, an appraiser, an investor, and more. A lot of your value as a real estate agent comes from who you know, the better you take care of this system, the better a real estate agent you will be.

Have A Strong Online Presence

While some older real estate agents may tell you differently, the internet will be critical for your success as a real estate agent. Even if you have many referrals, you can always have more. Create a budget for a strong and well-presented web presence, but don’t feel like you need to go over the top. Remember, at the end of the day it’s quality, not quantity.

At the end of the day, the biggest piece of advice to give when seeking to be a highly successful realtor is to have patience and initiative. As long as you are always learning to improve your skills and are okay waiting a few months to see the results roll in, you will be fine. You have to remember to believe in yourself and your skills and your hard work will pay off. Whichever point you are in your real estate career, we believe in you and hope you can be as successful as possible!

The Costs of Commuting

April 24, 2019

 

When looking to buy a new home,
most people immediately think the maximum commuting distance they’d like to be from their work. For some, it is an hour’s drive, for others it’s ten minutes. It’s common to hear that the further you live the more you save, but is it true?

 

In 2018, it was estimated that it costs about 34 cents per kilometre to drive a car in Canada. This figure includes the cost of the car itself, insurance, maintenance and gas. If we imagine that the average commute to work is approximately 24 km one way to get to work, that means the average person driving cost is 48 km a day. That means, in order to drive your car you are paying $16.32. Every. Single. Day. That’s over $4200 per year per person. If you are a dual-commuting household that number doubles. And these are just average numbers, your commute could be a lot longer.

That $4200 you spend each year to commute to work could go to so many other things. You could go on vacation, update your home, even invest. Actually, if you invested $4200 every year with a 7% return you could make $175 000 in 20 years!

Now, if you belong to the school of thought that your time is money, it is important to consider your hourly wage. If we were to be on the conservative side and imagine that you make $20 an hour and you commute about 50 minutes each day, you are kissing goodbye another $16.80 every single day you commute. This brings your daily commuting costs to about $32. That cost per year? $10 742.46! If you invested that amount each year at 7% return you would have almost $450 000 in 20 years!

We all fall prey to average thoughts. We ask around and get a few answers and create this “average answer” in our head. It’s very easy to accept that the “average commute” each day is a half hour drive. What if, instead, you dismantled that idea?

Say you only drove one kilometre each way to work for a year at $0.34/km and $20/hour. That would cost you about $800 a year. Do you know what else costs about $800 a year? A house worth $15, 900 more than what you would be paying already at a 5% mortgage rate.

That’s a big and important number people need to know. For every kilometre you move closer to your work, you can be spending nearly $16 000 more on your property! And remember these are just the numbers for one person commuting, that number increases for every other person living with you that commutes to work.

The big takeaway from this is that you shouldn’t be afraid of central Toronto real estate prices. They may be higher than suburbia, but they’re free from the hidden costs of commuting we often don’t compute in our minds. If your work is in central Toronto, you can live closer to work than you thought!

Prepping Your Condo For Sale

April 17, 2019

 

While putting a condo up for sale is very similar to putting a freehold home for sale, there are some key differences. It is important to know what these differences are so that you have a positive interaction with your condo board as well as a smooth and easy sale process.

For Sale Signs And Lock Boxes

Remember that you own the condo, but the condo board owns the hallways that connect the units as well as all the common spaces in your building. As such, the condo board will tell you where to put your For Sale sign as well as where the lock box should go that will assist agents in showing the property. Your For Sale sign will never be in the hallway outside your front door because that is common space. It is also important to keep in mind that it is also very unlikely your condo board will approve of open houses to maintain a safe and secure space for all residents.

Status Certificate

One of the biggest blunders you can make when selling your condo is not having a status certificate ready for your property. For those who do not know, a status certificate is a document that is purchased from your condo board. It explains the financial health of the building and costs around $100. Most condo purchases are usually contingent on the new buyer reviewing the status certificate with their lawyer. The best way to prepare your condo for sale is to order this well ahead of receiving an offer. If you wait until you get an offer, you might not get as many as you would like, and it will inevitably slow down the process at every turn. Order one before your property goes on the market, and make copies!

Questions To Prepare For

While a status certificate will provide a mountain of financial information to a prospective buyer, you will notice that once your property is up for sale, you will receive a bountiful amount of questions regarding your property – some very specific to condos. It is good to prepare for these types of questions in advance so they do not catch you off guard or make you seem aloof when it comes to your own building. Common questions that are asked are:

  • How much money is in the building’s reserve fund?

  • When was the last financial audit?

  • Are there any special assessments from the condo board that I should know?

The good thing about each of these questions is that they can easily be answered by reading your status certificate and memorizing a few facts. Prospective buyers trust sellers who are knowledgeable and are more likely to put in offers on properties they feel secure knowing all the facts.

 

Staging

Space is often limited in a condo. Therefore it is essential that however you stage it you highlight to the fullest potential the level of light, space, flow and size in your condo. The best way to do this is to go for neutral-coloured walls, removing as much clutter as possible (not just hiding it in storage!) and ensuring your home is a fully completed space as opposed to a half-done project. Make every room have a purpose and always strive to make your condo match the pictures that are on the listing.

This is an incredibly hot time to have a condo on the market. While this can be exciting as it ensures there will be at least a few viewings of your property, you need to ensure that it is beyond expectations to get an offer. Otherwise, a prospective buyer can be tempted to simply view another of the hundreds of condos currently up for sale in the area!

Is Your Real Estate Website Accessible?

April 10, 2019

If your website is created and designed to best suit the needs of people with perfect vision and hearing, you’re missing out on a sizeable demographic that could bring you a lot of sales. Our neighbours to the south have recently required all U.S. government websites to be fully compliant according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. While REALTOR®s in the US are private individuals and not related to the government, it is very possible that they will have the same requirements in the future.

Having an accessible website is huge for your business. Not only does it open up your client base, as mentioned previously, but it ensures a better use experience for everyone. You get to be at the forefront of technological advancement, making clients respect and trust you more when they realize how much effort you’re putting into your business. In turn, your efforts will ensure equality and fairness for more, and your brand will be protected from social media complaints!

If you are interested in making your website more accessible but don’t know where to start, consider the following topics pulled from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

Perception

Your clients should be able to see all the content on all the pages of your website. This means we need to be mindful of those with disabilities or those who live in special circumstances. Remember that when thinking of disabilities, vision impairment is a significant disability to think of, but not the only one!

Three great ways to help improve the perception of your website are text alternatives, videos and audio, and colours.

Text Alternatives: Your website will likely have images with words on them, perhaps even videos or audio files. While you don’t need to update or re-format any visuals you have that are purely for decoration, those that are important (such as symbols or emoticons that provide context to your website) can be quickly fixed by adding a text alternative.

Videos and Audio: While video and audio clips are great for people with vision impairment, those who have hearing issues can greatly benefit by having captions for any speech you have on your website. Bonus points for adding audio-descriptions that can describe who and what is in the video. If, however, your video or audio clip is an alternative to a text explanation, then you don’t need to add captions. Another important tip to keep in mind is disabling any auto-play functions you have. A lot of users (both abled and disabled) don’t enjoy auto-play in your video embeds. But if you must have one, ensure that it has a pause or a stop feature, as well as volume controls.

Colours: While colour is a great way to convey information, it should not be the sole way information is conveyed. You can chose to underline links to draw attention, and urgent things can have both a red coloured font as well as a bolded font. There are many clients out there who are colour blind and would really appreciate a more easily distinguishable website. The biggest issue our American neighbours are having in this compliance department is ensuring that their logos and brand colour schemes have enough contrast. W3C recommends a contrast ratio of at least 4:5:1 between text and background colours, which is certainly doable, but you might have to make some compromises.

Perception is just one of the four major topics that is needed to be taken into account when modifying your website to make it more accessible. The others are operability, predictability, and robustness. Please have a flick through the WCAG 2.0 website and see how you can push your website into 2019 and make it the most accessible!

How To Get A Head Start Buying Your First Home

April 3, 2019
Congratulations! You have saved up enough money to put a down payment on a property or you have become sick and tired of renting. Either way, as a first time homebuyer, there are some important things to know to ensure that the process is as smooth as butter for you.

Prepare Your Credit Score

One of the most important things you can do in preparation for purchasing your first home is ensuring your credit score is stellar. Even though we are human and apt to miss a bill payment or two, this could leave an unsightly blemish on your credit score.

Alternatively, if you have no credit score, you definitely need to work on getting one! Having no credit can be just as bad as having bad credit. Now, this is not to say that you should run and buy a new car or expensive things. You should never accumulate more debt than you have to. But it would definitely help if you signed up for a credit card, put your cell phone bill on your credit card and paid it off on time every month.

Prepare For Patience

Despite what HGTV will show you, house hunting is not as easy as looking at three homes in a half hour and quickly picking your dream home out of those three. While it is possible, it’s also as likely as winning the lottery. The more realistic scenario is that you will look at a dozen or so homes (some clients looking at almost 50!) until you find the one you feel comfortable putting an offer on. Be prepared for many weekends spent looking at homes online and in person – and remember that all this hard work will pay off.

Prepare For Home Inspection Issues

Thankfully, because we live in a more balanced market, it is possible to make your purchase subject to a home inspection. It is incredibly important to have a home inspector investigate your home and see its genuine shape. Prepare to see potentially a hundred different items that will need addressing in the home you want to purchase. Some will be very minor, some can be major. You might think that home is incredibly well-maintained, and it probably is. But many homeowners can’t see what’s lurking beneath the surface of their well-maintained homes. For any large issue that comes your way in the home inspection, prepare to deal with it through an amendment in your offer. And embrace the little things on the home inspection as normal.

Prepare For Paying A Fair Price

We all want a good deal, especially on something that is arguably our biggest purchase. Back in the day, before the internet was pivotal to the real estate market, you might have been able to squeak away with a good deal. Even that, however was unlikely. Today, there is no chance at all. We all have equal access to the internet which means we all have a pretty good idea of how much a home is worth. And even if you do find a “good deal” prepare to have others equally interested in the property with a chance of a bidding war.

Buying your first home is an exciting process! You can finally have something you truly call your own. These are just a few helpful tips, and there are plenty more out there. We applaud you for starting your homework, and wish you good luck as you continue to do so.

 

What To Expect When You’ve Accepted An Offer

March 27, 2019
Some sellers are so anxious and impatient to sell their homes that when they finally get an offer all they can do is celebrate. And celebration is important, don’t get us wrong! But they should also be prepared for what happens once they’ve accepted an offer. An accepted offer is not the finish line in the real estate business, merely it is the beginning of the end. So before they start bringing out the streamers and pompoms, here are some important things they should be aware following the acceptance of an offer.

Contingencies

Not all offers are firm offers, in fact, many are contingent upon something in the contract. This can be an offer contingent upon a successful home inspection, or a different type of inspection. Be prepared for unique and contingent offers that may alter the finality of the accepted offer.

Closing Date

Once an offer has been accepted the clock starts to tick. The seller has to be out of the property in a “broom clean” state by a certain date otherwise they run the risk of the buyer losing an interest-rate lock-in. Moreover, they can also lose necessary funds required to purchase a replacement property.

Deposits

Nowadays, it is almost unheard of to accept an offer that does not include a deposit. So once the seller has accepted an offer they should also be expecting within 24 hours (not business days!) a deposit. A deposit basically counts as evidence of the buyer’s commitment to go through with the transaction, in case your seller is confused about this amount. Sellers should not rejoice the minute they get the cheque, they need to ensure that the check did not bounce (believe it or not, it does happen). This money then gets held in escrow (a trust account) until the house selling process is fully complete. This is basically emergency money that can be accepted as damages for a broken down contract agreement or cancellation.

Fixtures

Sellers need to establish with their real estate agents what is a fixture in their home versus what is personal property. Generally, a fixture is something attached to the house and is intended to remain with the house upon sale. Personal property goes with the seller to their new home. Therefore, if a seller is really attached to their built-in microwave and wants to take it with them to their new home, it is important you discuss with them that it should be marked as personal property rather than a fixture before they get a nasty surprise.

Repairs

Sometimes, often following home inspections, it will be established to the seller that repairs need to be made to the property. In order to avoid problems with the buyer ensure that there is a home warranty with the purchase. This is essentially an insurance policy that covers the replacement or repair of many systems in the home. If you want to do more or different kinds of repairs, ensure that you are getting the correct brand and model that the buyer agrees with as it is their home now and not the sellers anymore.

Title

In order for a seller to be successful in the sale of their home the closing agent will need to perform a title search. That is to say, the agent will investigate the chain of title (property transactions, easements) as well as look for any defects like unpaid liens or uncanceled mortgages to make sure that the property is clear and good to be sold. A title search can miss defects, mortgage lenders often require title insurance. If the title is “clouded” then it cannot be insured. The seller then would be forced to take action (also known as “quieting” the title) in order for the sale to clear.

Final Walk Through

Prior to closing, buyers have the right to walk through the property so they can perform their own personal inspection. At that time, all utilities must be working. This is essentially to ensure that the buyer is getting the property in the condition that they viewed it in when they made an offer. So if the seller dented the wall while moving out their couch, they would be responsible for the repairs.

Remind your sellers do not be overwhelmed at this list! It is not as daunting as it looks. All it is there for is to remind them not to go to Hawaii for a few weeks partying it up that they sold their house as there is still some work left to be done.

 

 

How To Maximize Your Referrals

March 20, 2019

Referrals are worth their weight in gold. Compared to the non-referred shopper, referred customers are four times more likely to make a purchase, especially when they are referred to by a friend. Moreover, not only are referred customers more loyal than their non-referred counterparts, they also spend more long-term. Essentially, if you want loyal, higher spending clients in the real estate industry, you must consider setting up a scheme for referrals. Here are some helpful ways you can dramatically increase your bottom line through referrals:

 

Provide Jaw-Dropping Customer Service

Anyone can provide good customer service. Many businesses even offer above-average levels of customer service. But in order for you to be referred to friends and family, you need to really stand out from all of your competition. Smiling to clients, responding quickly to emails and questions is the minimum expectation nowadays in the customer service industry. The goal is that you want to create a scenario so uplifting that your customer will feel they have to share stories about your business. Think about what would stand out for you if you were in their shoes. Did you swallow the cost of a rush fee just to help out your client on time? Did you go to one of your client’s special events or fundraisers to show support? Going the extra mile makes mountains of difference in the land of referrals.

 

Foster Your Social Media Presence with Your Clients

You may post often on Twitter and Instagram, but testimonials speak much louder than your words ever could. If your client has had a fantastic time working with you and has relayed this to you, encourage them to share their opinion on social media! You can even provide rewards based on how many platforms they positively review you on. You could use your platform to share a photo of their outfit of the day, their business, the world is your oyster. Make sure all your websites have easy to find social media buttons so they don’t have to go hunting to leave you those stellar reviews.

 

Another great way to foster your social media presence is to ask your best customers if you can feature them on your website and in your marketing materials. This is a perfect opportunity because they get the spotlight, you get the praise, and they might even send you more referrals for treating them so well.

 

Give Referrals to Others

This sounds counter-intuitive, but hear us out. Creating a chain cycle of referrals is a way to maintain constant and successful business. Say there is a real estate lawyer you are friends with, you can refer your clients to use their services to seal the deal. In the same breath, your real estate lawyer friend is getting oodles of business and interest, so they can refer you when their clients are looking for a new home. If you don’t know many people in your industry yet, look for business networking groups in your areas that either use referral systems or create your own.

Referrals can be incredibly rewarding and fun for both you and your clients. You can give them actual rewards and make it into a game for your clients, while they boost your business in ways you never knew. Do you use other methods for referrals?

The Reality of DIY Home Reno Jobs

March 13, 2019
Before any major home renovation project, most people do research to understand the facts and figures of what they are embarking on. But with so many websites and TV shows it can be hard to truly understand the truth behind the numbers. Here’s a fairly accurate breakdown of what to expect when you start doing your own home reno projects.

Budget in Person, Not Based Off TV

I don’t care how many episodes of Love It or List It you’ve seen, the prices you see on HGTV shows are not full invoice breakdowns. Sure, they may quote that a high-end kitchen was installed for $35 000, giving you the idea that’s how much everything cost. But was labour included in that price? What about the design fees? Were all the materials at cost? Based off of my own experience in the home renovation industry, a lot of these prices don’t add up. And this is because in order for a show like that to be successful, they need to cut costs everywhere. This means they could get a lot of donated materials, or hire contractors who would rather get paid in exposure rather than dollars.

Bottom line: don’t base your budget off of a home renovation show, speak to several professionals instead.

Go Window Shopping

Before you create a budget, the best thing to do is to visit your nearest home development store to see how much some of the items you were looking in your renovation project cost. From there, get a few quotes for labour. Add this too to your budget. Then, add a 20-40% top-up on the labour quote because you can never fully predict what will happen once construction begins.

Be Extremely Patient

Again, this is another way HGTV has ruined us. They can make you believe that a bathroom can be redone in a weekend, or a at worst a few short weeks. This. Is. Not. Real. The reality of renovating any room in your house is that it will take months. End of story. Sure it may look like The Property Brothers built some amazing kitchen cabinets in the homeowner’s driveway in three days, but that’s TV magic, not contractor magic. Instead of building false expectations in your mind that will only lead to frustration and disappointment, draw up a timeline with a contractor and work off that.

Another reason not to rush the home renovation process is to avoid mistakes and rush jobs. A lot of people will want their renovation project to be done as quickly as possible so they can go back to living their day-to-day life. We get it, home renovations can be very stressful, but the faster and harder you push contractors, the more risk of encountering problems. Instead of doing everything at once, block out your projects so that the house is easier to live in.

DIY Requires Skill

Some contractors on TV look so capable and strong that all their projects appear to be done in a breeze. You might even see them encourage the homeowners to demolish a room, or put up some drywall together. Do not be fooled, if anyone could do home renovation projects, the labour wouldn’t cost so much. Know your skills, know your patience. If you have all the time and money in the world, of course you can do these projects by yourself. But it is important to manage your time and money well. Sometimes, it really is better to hire a skilled contractor.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the reality of home renovation projects. I’m not trying to scare you from them, I think they can be great cost-effective measures. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Go in knowing fully what to expect, not what a television show tells you is real.

 

The Truth Behind Real Estate Terms

March 6, 2019

Whenever you come across a listing, there will be a description of the property. And the more you read, the more you start to notice that there are some common phrases and terms that seem to be both descriptive and yet oddly vague in the same breath. To prepare you in your house-hunting journey, we thought we’d break down some common terms so you better understand what they mean, and get you faster to the house of your dreams!

 

The first thing that comes to people’s minds is what is the true condition of the house. You might see terms such as “has potential”, “perfect investment property”, or “needs a little TLC” – they all sound similar, what does each of them mean?

New  Not as new as brand new, believe it or not!

Newish  Could be as old as ten years old.

Updated  Means the house has been renovated, but pay attention to the wording. Was it recently updated? Because this property might have been updated, but it could have been updated 5, 10 years ago. Ask! The best listings will usually include dates and details of the warranties and updates in the listing.

A Home With Character  While it can mean that a house is uniquely designed, it is often a euphemism for a house that is seriously out of style.

Refurbished  A house that has been spruced up but still nearly original underneath it all.

Needs A Little TLC  When it comes to houses that need sprucing up, houses with this description will usually be the very top of the ladder. They will need very light work that is usually a paint job or other minor cosmetic changes.

Has Potential  This is one step below “needs a little TLC”. This house will often have outdated but easily replaceable decorations. This could be an old carpet you can rip out so you can enjoy the original hardwood floors underneath, or removing some siding or wallpaper that hasn’t been in style for 30 years.

Perfect Investment Property Another step down the ladder of houses that need sprucing up, this house is often defined as having “good bones”. That means there are usually no structural or foundational issues, but you might need to completely redo the kitchen or bathroom in order for it to meet your tastes. Perhaps even blow out a wall or two to make it more open space.

Handyman Special Yet another step down the ladder is the handyman special. This property has problems. Lots of them. Some of them may even be structural or foundational. The windows will likely need to be replaced in a property like this, the roof might need to be redone, maybe some doors will need to be replaced. The basement might be unfinished. This will be a lot of work. Do not approach this property without a good and trustworthy contractor (unless you are in the construction business yourself!)

As Is  This house has gone through some rough times in its life. It could have been destroyed by the former owners when the bank foreclosed on them, it could have been abandoned for many years and fallen into decay, it could have been owned by a former hoarder. The point is, this is so bad it might be better to gut the property than work with the structure that is currently standing.

The power of words is very strong. So just as it is important to understand the meaning behind them in real estate descriptions, do not be afraid to provide detailed descriptions to your real estate agent! Saying that a house is “intriguing” or “interesting” is not helpful to your agent. What is interesting or intriguing about the property? How do you feel? What do you like specifically? What do you hate? This will help your real estate agent to get you closer to your dream house. Are there any other words you’d like us to explain to you? Let us know!

How Not To Negotiate

February 27, 2019
The business of real estate is centred around negotiation. The negotiation of how to present a listing, how much to list the property, how much to offer for a property, when to accept an offer or sometimes which offer to accept! You may feel confident in your negotiation skills as this is your chosen profession, but do you make some of these very common mistakes?

Entering Negotiations Without Doing Your Homework

This may seem like a no-brainer, but this can be a common mistake done by many experienced real estate agents. If you’ve seen a typical situation, you may feel you know the ins and outs of it and therefore you’ll be less stringent with your due diligence. But a small misstep like this can result into a fatal error. Always know the facts. Do not rely simply on how you think someone is going to negotiate because you have negotiated with them in the past. Know your numbers and the facts behind the numbers.

Not Knowing Your Leverage

Everyone likes to think that when they enter negotiations that they enter from a position of strength. While it is all well and good that you’ve done your homework, assuming you are coming from a position of strength without fully understanding your numbers or your case can lead to failure very quickly. Entering a situation from a weaker point or knowing your stronger and weaker points when leveraging a deal is crucial. Learn which muscles to flex so that you can get the best deal possible for you and your client. Confidence and a cursory knowledge of facts work in movies, not in real life.

You’re A Rambler

Real estate agents are often esteemed in their community for their communication skills. Their ability to open a conversation with almost anyone is a great way to generate as many clients as possible. But the confidence that comes from being an extrovert also has some serious disadvantages. You can talk too much that you miss out on what your clients or the opposing side of the deal is saying. You have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionally. Listen more to what everyone is saying and plan your moves like a chess game. Your speech’s value comes from its quality not its quantity.

Assuming The First Offer Is The Worst Offer

I’m not sure if people make this mistake because they are too confident in themselves or if they are sometimes a little too indoctrinated by the magic of TV. But hear me out. As a listing agent, you spend a lot of time talking with your client about what is the best price for their property. Therefore, when a buyer provides an offer, they have seriously taken to heart what they think is the best offer they can provide. If you think that you can create a counteroffer war with them, or hope for a bidding war because someone else will throw their hat in the ring, you may end up with a house that is indefinitely on the market. A lot of people will provide rationale and reasoning for their offer, and pushback on the first offer can seem insulting. It may turn someone off entirely to a property. While it is true that some people lack full information before sending an offer, oftentimes this part of the negotiation phase is purely arguing for argument’s sake. As a seller, prepare yourself and your client to really sit down and analyse every part of the offer before responding. Respond with facts and figures that support your position, not just ones that will defeat the opposing side. That is the true art to negotiation.

Negotiating is a delicate dance. There are forward and backward movements throughout the entire process, but if you step on the toes of your partner, you can derail months of hard work. Here’s hoping these tips will help you to be better at negotiation in all aspects of your career.

How To Upgrade Your Home’s Winter Curb Appeal

January 20, 2020

It’s easy to consider winter as a write off when it comes to curb appeal. The weather is so inconsistent: one day you’ve got spring sun, the other you’ve got freezing rain and 10 cm of snow on top of the freezing rain. And everything in between those two weathers is slushy and grey. But there are ways to upgrade your home’s winter curb appeal that are easy to do in the winter! If you are looking to sell your home during this season, or are simply looking for a way to spruce up your home during the colder months – check out these amazing tips.
 
Update Your Home’s Numbers
While some people think their home isn’t just an address, it’s important to also relish the fact that your house’s numbers are part of its identity. In summer, it may be easy to overlook your peeling or tarnished numbers. In winter – these can be the star of the show.
 
Spruce Up Your Exterior Lighting
Your exterior lighting can be as aesthetic as it is functional. In winter, the days are shorter and the nights are longer. Having downward soffitt lighting not only improves visibility as you pull into your driveway on a slippery evening – it also looks amazing.
 
Upgrade Your Mailbox
Even though the days are shorter, they tend to be more accentuated in the winter. Snow is white and very reflective. It will sparkle and bring out every part of your home, including your rusting mailbox that has clearly seen better days. You can upgrade your mailbox by buying a new one altogether, or you can simply upgrade yours with a fresh coat of paint.
 
Create A Statement Arrangement
Many people have beautiful planters that adorn their front porch or steps. In the spring and summer these tend to be filled with gorgeous flowers. Yet for some reason these are often forgotten in the winter. There are many ways you can keep floral beauty going all year long. Look for cold-hardy perennials or evergreen branches to add a splash of colour to your home’s front yard.
 
Shovel Your Space
This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but sadly it needs to be reminded. Having an unshovelled driveway or sidewalk can make your home look unkempt faster than most things. Not only will it look a lot better to shovel your drive way, front steps and sidewalk – it also makes your life a lot safer and easier!
 
Hang A Wreath
Wreaths are not just for Christmas. Nor do they have to be incredibly fancy or huge. Go beyond the traditional evergreen wreaths and look for one that brings out your front door’s colours, or the winter atmosphere around you.

Get A Bird Feeder
This is an interesting tidbit you might not have thought of before. A bird feeder can add a wonderful splash of colour to your mostly monochromatic front lawn in the winter. It also can attract many beautiful colourful birds that do not migrate south for the winter. Blue jays, cardinals and robins can all adorn your front lawn and remind you of a scene from a Disney movie.
 
Your home can shine 365 days of the year. You can do a lot in cold weather that doesn’t take a lot of effort or money. We hope you try these updates and show us how you’ve spruced up your winter curb appeal!

Which Smart Speaker Is Best For Real Estate?

February 20, 2019
Smart speakers aren’t just great for asking what time it is and what the weather is outside. Some people have them connected to their smart home technology to make living life easier. But did you know that these digital assistants can make a huge difference in your real estate business? What if I told you that according to a forecast from eMarketer, smart speaker use is predicted to increase from 16 million in 2016 to 76.5 million in 2020 in the US alone. If currently 27.6% of the US population currently uses a voice assistant, imagine how well those numbers directly translate to Canadians. This is a huge market you definitely want to tap into, but you must be smart about how you go about it.

While there are several smart speakers on the market such as Cortana, Siri, Alexa and Google, there are arguably only two main competitors on the market. So, instead of hoping that one gets more popular over time, you will want to focus on Alexa (Amazon) and Google Home. Either of these smart speakers come in a wide range of prices from extremely affordable to luxury. I insist you pick one of these up and see what it can do for you.

General Positives

Whether you get Alexa or Google Home, there is a lot you can do with a smart speaker to improve your career in real estate. Some REALTOR®s are bringing their smart speakers to open houses to plug in and play soft, inviting music in the background. Both devices have huge playlists available in almost any genre, including jazz which works great for open houses.

Another way to create buzz using a smart speaker is to host a raffle at one of your open houses. Buying a midrange device such as the Google Home or the Amazon Show (which includes a screen so you can also make video calls) will garner a lot of interest in an already excited market.

Alexa v Google Assistant

It is important to understand that Alexa currently is dominating the market. It is also important to understand why, as this may change with time. Right now, when you want to search for something, you instantly go to Google. But when you want to buy something online, you instantly go to Amazon. And since Google Assistant products are not for sale on Amazon, this explains why 67% of the smart speaker market is dominated by Amazon as opposed to Google Home’s 29%. This is directly translated into how much has been developed for both products. Currently, there are 265 Alexa real estate skills compared to Google’s 100.

These skills have been developed by several brokerages, individual agents and companies to provide real estate information. These groups are all at the lowest common denominator consumers, and they will develop more in the products they use most. As a result, there will always be more development in the more popular item, but you never know when there will be an upswing. Especially when you understand that while Amazon has a wider array of integration available, but Google offers a more robust technology. Imagine Alexa and Google as Android and iPhone – there will always be a preference for one over the other, but both will be extremely successful. Therefore, it is important to invest in both smart speakers as there will never be a monopoly, and eventually you can filter development into Siri and Cortana.

How Smart Speakers Engage Customers

Yes, it can be cool to ask Alexa or Google the value of your home, but how can you really get your customers to engage with these voice assistants? No one is going to buy a house through Alexa or Google, but where their power lies is how they help listing presentations, agent recruitment and training.

When people search and learn things through voice assistants, the sentences are shorter than a typed one. The tone is more conversational. Just imagine you are driving in your car, and you ask your smart speaker where the nearest house for sale is. That is a skill that is currently being developed to work with an MLS to integrate voice-assistant access.

Bottom line? The smart speaker is a huge piece of technology that isn’t going away anywhere soon and has huge potential. Really think about how to integrate it more into your business and you will see results!

How To Grow Your Real Estate Brand Online

February 13, 2019
Let’s face it, the number one way clients will discover who you are is from your digital presence. Gone are the days of occasionally seeing your face on a bus shelter ad, or on a notebook with your details on it. Those might get them to look you up, but what seals the deal is your website, your social media presence, and everything in that first page of google results when they look up your name. Here are some top tips on how to grow your real estate brand online so that you’re getting all the good press, and none of the bad.

  1. Are You Social?

    I certainly hope you are. While there are many different accounts out there that you could have, you want to stick with ones that will garner the most reach and interest. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are all great places to have an online presence. Google+ is being phased out, and SnapChat only appeals to certain clients. Make sure you’re hitting the right demographic and that you are captivating them in a professional manner. This is your business account, not your personal one.

    You will want to link all your social media to your website and all your other accounts so they can see why each one has its own niche. Twitter can link to news bursts and links to blogs, LinkedIn is where people can see how you’re always learning to be the best REALTOR®, and Pinterest and Instagram can be those really awesome style shots of your listings.

     

  2. What Does Your Competition Look Like?

    You may think you have a killer website or social media presence, but you won’t really know until you look at your peers. Always keep tabs on agents in and around your area to see what you could be doing to stand out above them. If you think their website is better than yours, chances are, potential clients will think so, too!

     

  3. Are You Mobile-Friendly?

    Serious browsing happens on desktops and laptops. But the first initial searches generally tend to be on cell phones during commutes, breaks, and even bathroom trips! Make sure that not only is your website mobile-accessible, but mobile-friendly. This means that they can easily navigate your website just as they would on a larger computer. Give them big pictures, easy touchable buttons, and instant access to call or text you.

     

  4. What’s Your Niche?

    Nowadays, real estate agents are a dime a dozen. You may have a killer website, you may be doing all the right things on social media, but you may still struggle to bring in clients. What’s your niche? If you’re catering to the general population, you might not be able to cast a net that is attractive enough to hit every demographic in your area. By standing out from the competition and focusing on condos, or pet-friendly homes, or even newly-divorced individuals, you can make a name for yourself that will make you more memorable in your area.

     

  5. How Good Is Your Google My Business Page?

    This is usually the first hit on your Google results. It’s the same ideas as Google Places for Businesses and Google+ Pages. It’s easy to set up an account, and it will be even easier for users to find you across the entire Google platform. You have to do this. If you do nothing else from this blog post, please do this!

Marketing yourself isn’t difficult per se, it’s more tedious. But finding the right channels for you and constantly investing in them is genuinely a true investment in yourself. You can do this, bring on those sales!

Who’s A Better REALTOR®? Introverts or Extroverts?

February 6, 2019
Often, when you think of real estate agents, you think of bubbly, talkative, persuasive and sometimes pushy people. Often these attributes are characteristic of extroverted people, and it’s why we tend to think the best sales people are extroverts. But what managers and educators everywhere often overlook and undervalue are the talents of introverts is selling. Instead of pigeon-holing and only hiring the same time of real estate agent for your firm or to interview only one kind of real estate agent to help sell or buy a home, here are some strengths and weaknesses of both introverted and extroverted salespeople to see why a solid mix of both is crucial to being the perfect REALTOR®.

The Introvert

Strengths

Believe it or not, selling a home isn’t based on how good of a talker you are. In fact, one of the best skills you can have as an agent is listening. This is one of many natural talents that belong to an introvert. Instead of blabbing on about what a house has to offer, an introverted agent will listen attentively to what a client is looking for in selling or purchasing a home. Introverts will ask more questions and have their clients lead the way – that way when suggestions are made, they are made with a plethora of client information in mind.

If you are also looking for someone to form a deeper or more long-term bond rather than a quick transaction, introverts are the way to go. Perhaps a client is a first-time buyer and they need someone to hold their hand throughout the process. Introverts will often match the energy of their client and will make sure their client is truly valued.

Finally, introverts, due to their nature and need to recharge on their own, are often self-motivated and will happily push themselves with less support and investment from a client or a manager.

Weaknesses

While on the one hand it is great that introverts ask more questions and take a step back from the conversation, new introverted real estate agents might struggle to even start a conversation with a prospective client. As a manager, it is important to provide the right tools, training and encouragement to help introverted real estate agents to get out of their comfort zone.

Another potential weakness an introverted REALTOR® may have is that it may take some time to form the rapport or relationship necessary between a client and a real estate agent. Even though on average the relationship formed between an introverted agent and a client is stronger than an extroverted one, it may take a while to get there and some clients or managers may perceive the introverted REALTOR® to be cold at first, when they are just warming up.

The Extrovert

Strengths

Extroverts naturally make excellent real estate agents for the reasons we all naturally imagine when we think of a good salesperson. Extroverts easily meet new people, network and make business connections. This innate talent means they can turn even the most mundane conversations into a business opportunity.

Extroverted REALTOR®s are animated and expressive. They generally draw the attention of whomever they speak to, and their enthusiasm easily rubs off onto others.

Because of their high-energy, extroverted real estate agents are able to more quickly adapt to the daily demand of work, and are best at generating new leads or clients into their office.

Weaknesses

Extroverts are great conversation starters, but they can often struggle on the details of the purchasing or selling process. It may be also harder to keep them on track of tasks in the office as they can be easily distracted by friendly faces or extraneous conversation.

Another potential weakness that can be found in an extroverted REALTOR® is their reluctance to push through a timeline or deal. Because they are so focused on light, friendly and happy conversations, they might not want to bargain too hard to sell their client’s home at a lower price than what they had hoped for. A great way to correct this as a manager is to always ensure your extroverted real estate agents are kept focused on their goals at all times and that they don’t get too caught up in the social aspect of their work.

Both extroverts and introverts make great sales people. And both work really well together by balancing their strengths and weaknesses. An extrovert can generate a lot of leads and provide a lot of options for introverts to seal the deal. And when an introvert gets flustered or comes across distant, an extrovert can save the day. But if an extrovert feels like they can’t get the price of the home aligned with their client, perhaps an introvert is what you are looking for to make everyone happy. No one is fully on one side of the spectrum or the other, but it’s important to know that both skills are incredibly important to being a good real estate agent. Which do you think you are?

The Pros and Cons of Co-Housing

January 30, 2019
Some people love their friends so much that instead of settling down with a partner, or trying to find a place they can afford all by themselves, they choose to co-house. More and more, we are seeing that it isn’t just university students or recent graduates that choose to co-house, but that older adults and even seniors are choosing this new housing style. If you are curious to learn more about this housing lifestyle, here are some of the pros and cons of co-housing.

 

Pros

  • Co-housing undeniably creates a sense of community within the home. There are shared spaces such as the kitchen, the living room, the laundry room, and often the bathroom. In these spaces, residents can foster their social network, encourage one another, and check in on one another in a way that does not feel overbearing. But when you’ve felt that you’ve had enough social stimulation, you can retreat to your own personal space such as your bedroom whenever you like.

  • When living as a group, or even a pair, you are inevitably lowering your monthly costs. You can now afford to live in a better area with a better home, along with the people you choose to live with in the same dwelling.

  • Another important advantage to co-housing is the splitting of home responsibilities. If you were to live by yourself, you would be in charge of all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, etc. But when you live with at least one more person, that responsibility gets cut in at least half. You may only have to make dinner once or twice a week!

  • Cost-wise, co-housing can be a huge advantage for the elderly. As special accessibility equipment such as ramps can be costly, having everyone pitch in and have one for the whole house can make a huge ease on one’s bank account.

 

Cons

  • For some, having the space to retreat into your bedroom is the perfect respite from the communal atmosphere that exists throughout the bulk of the home. But for others, it is a difficult adjustment to know that your privacy and personal space is significantly restricted to just that space. Be prepared and try out this life style before permanently switching to it.

  • Conflict. It is a universal truth that whenever two or more people live together a conflict will arise. It may be big or small, but you need to be prepared for this eventuality and how to deal with it. Have a plan for how your group will communicate, hold each other accountable and make decisions.

  • Selling the home can be difficult. Living alone, you can choose to pack up your belongings and move whenever you so choose. But when living with 2, 3, 4 and even 5 other people, you suddenly need all of their approval. And that can take time and patience.

  • When co-housing, you will never have complete responsibility over your home’s finances. While this can seem to be a relief when it comes to daily chores, it can be a struggle when one person in the house uses significantly more electricity or hot water than everyone else. Or it may be the case that only one person uses the swimming pool, but nobody else does, yet everyone has to pay for it. Coming to an arrangement with your housemates can hopefully alleviate this issue, however.

 

Isolation is sweeping the nation, and unfortunately it is coming at the cost of many people’s mental health. More than 2 million American seniors suffer from depression, many of which are suffering depression due to a lack of close family ties or a connection to their community. When someone, regardless of their age feels that they provide no value to their community, they can very quickly spiral into a mental malaise. Co-housing is a serious option many who are suffering from isolation or depression should consider to help in their healing. Co-housing may not be for everyone, but it can be perfect for young families learning how to take care of their first child, for the elderly who are retired and do not live close to friends or family, or for new immigrants looking to establish their own community. Co-housing offers something for everyone – do you think it could be right for you?

How To Manage Renovation Costs

January 23, 2019
Renovating your home can significantly increase its property value – but they can also quickly outweigh any financial gain you put into it. So in order to get the most bang for your buck, follow this plan on how to manage your renovation costs.

Soft Cost Planning25-30% Of Your Budget

Soft costs encompass all the necessary planning that comes with renovations. This could be hiring an engineering firm, surveyor, or contractor to work on your home. They will have all sorts of fees such as permit costs and planning proposals that might need to be submitted to your municipality in order for the renovations to go through. It can also include the cost of hiring an interior designer.

Hard Cost Planning70-75% Of Your Budget

This category includes all of the things related to the physical items in the renovations such as labour and material costs.

Contingency Fund10-15% On TOP Of Your Budget

This is a critical thing to prepare for, as many people underestimate its consequences or forget it entirely. You will never know precisely when delays or hidden troubles can arise. But it is always better to be prepared for these events so that you are not stuck dipping into savings or money you don’t have.

Miscellaneous Cost Planning

There are some funds that are essential yet extraneous to renovations. That is to say, your life may change as a result of your renovation. You may need to temporarily move out of your home for the renovations to be quickly and efficiently completed.

Alternatively, you may need to store furniture or other household goods while your home is being renovated. And while some homes have the space to temporarily store these things in a basement or spare room, others do not. You will also need to factor in where to put your belongings if the occasion arises, and how much it might cost to store at a self-storage facility.

Look For Grants And Rebates

A great way to manage renovation costs is to look for government grants and rebates that come with home remodelling. You can save money on adding solar power to your home, adding energy saving appliances, upgrading your hoe’s heating, recycling inefficient equipment and appliances and so much more. For more detailed information check out this government website.

Spend Your Money Wisely
This may seem like a no-brainer, but think carefully of how you pay for your home renovations. Under no circumstances should you rely upon a credit card to remodel your home. You inevitably run the risk of adding costs to your renovation if interest rates rise. Rather, use a home equity line of credit. This will have a lower interest, usually prime plus or minus a percentage.

Home renovations can be both exciting and daunting at the same time. But if you come up with an iron clad financial plan, you should be prepared for most hiccups and unexpected surprises. Good luck with your home renovations, and may you love your home more after your remodelling is done!

Exciting Upcoming Condos in Toronto

January 16, 2019
The Toronto condo market is enjoying a huge burst of demand – and Toronto is doing its best to meet the supply! If you are interested in landing one of the hottest and most coveted properties in the city, keep your eyes peeled for these new builds coming your way.

Auberge II On The Park

If you are looking just north of midtown Toronto, you will want to have a look at the corner of Eglinton and Leslie for the second phase of Auberge On The Park. The 29 storey building is going to overlook the 13.3 hectare Flemingdon Park. Click the link above to see if one of their 215 suites ranging from 1069 – 2177 square feet is right for you. Occupancies are anticipated for summer 2022 with prices ranging between the $800k - $1.975 million dollar mark.

Midtowns

Another gem that can’t be missed near Lawrence Avenue West is Midtowns. Midtowns will offer two and three-storey condo units ranging between $539k - $759k. Occupancy is predicted to take place between the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.

DuEast Boutique

If you are looking to have a new property but you don’t want to wait a few years to enjoy it, look no further than DuEast Boutique. First occupancies are scheduled for mid-2019. This 11-storey tower with 119 units ranging from 466 – 1218 square feet in Regent Park can be yours for as low as the mid $300s!

WEST Condos

An ambitious project for the heart of Toronto, this building will mix a restoration of a historic warehouse with the construction of two towers that will seamlessly blend into one amazing contemporary design that respects the history of the neighbourhood. Condo prices will start from the mid $400s and the expected occupancy date is 2020.

The Prestige Condos

If lake views are what you are after, you need to seriously consider moving into this beautiful 65 storey tower. It will feature retail space, a state-of-the-art community centre, and an underground connection to the PATH system. With prices starting in the low $600s and an occupancy date of 2022 – what more could you ask for?

Panda Condos

This treasure of a building hopes to be as historic as its predecessor – as Panda Condos will sit on the former site of the World’s Biggest Bookstore. The plan for this 30 storey mixed-use building will contain 555 residential units, 6000 square feet of retail space, designated office space, as well as a plethora of amenities (think an outdoor sports court, a gym and yoga studio, a theatre, outdoor terrace and more!). Prices start in the low $400s and occupancy is expected to begin in 2021.

The condo market is blooming every day in Toronto, becoming easily one of the most sought-after places to live – not just in Ontario, but all of Canada. Just imagine blending yourself into an unchartered world. Never before has an opportunity to live so close to the downtown core been at your feet. You will be a pioneer in the ultimate urban lifestyle.

Key Design Tips for Your Real Estate Website

January 9, 2019
If you aren’t investing in your real estate website, you aren’t investing in your career as a REALTOR®. More than 92% of all property transactions include online searches. Homebuyers and sellers alike are looking for quality resources. If real estate agents are a dime a dozen, you need to find a way to make your site stand out. Showing how knowledgeable you are and using first rate marketing tactics can create an outstanding user experience that will not only drive more traffic to your site, but hopefully more sales!

Here is a list of five tips you should incorporate into your site that can boost your online presence.

Do NOT Use Pop-Ups

It may be incredibly tempting to have a pop-up ad or a sign-up banner on your website. You may think that before they can even view the content on your site you can get them hooked onto your newsletter. But how many times have you ever done that on a retail store’s site? Chances are, if it would annoy you as a customer, it will definitely annoy others. Let your site sell itself. When they are ready to learn more, they will know where to go to contact you or subscribe for more information. Give your customers a chance to navigate the site before bombarding them.

Balance Is Key

One way of showing how knowledgeable you are as a real estate agent is to inundate your page with information. You can do this with videos, images, text, audio clips and countless other ideas. But the more you clog up a page, the more you can deter a potential client. Not only will it be overwhelming to the eye, but it can also affect how quickly your page loads. If your page takes more than 5 seconds to load, visitors are more likely to exit out of the page entirely than wait for it to load. Make sure that your site can handle heavy online traffic, that it can handle the load of multiple browsers, and that it has just the right amount of information to appeal to customers without slowing their visual experience.

Blogs and Guides

Finding the right information about house-hunting can be tough. Many of the biggest blogs are chock-full of advertisements, how will a customer know what is right for them in their neighbourhood? By constantly updating and offering reliable information through weekly blogs or guides, you can demonstrate your knowledge in a significant and impactful way to your clients. Most of the questions a client will pose, you will have the answers for. Why not post a blog about home inspections, home renovations, how to save for a home, or other real estate related ideas. You can even include common phrases you have seen on the internet to improve your presence on search engines. This is what is known as search engine optimisation.

Education

In addition to your blogs and guides, an excellent tab or tool to have on your website is a quick but well-explained encyclopaedia of important real estate terms that they may have heard before, but never really understood. While you know the ins and outs of condo status certificates, they might not, and it can save time and effort for everyone involved if they had an easy and simple way to look up this information before the question even arises.

Strategically Placed Links

You don’t want to be annoying, but you always want to be visible and easily contactable. On the very front of your page, perhaps even the top you should have links to all your social media as well as phone numbers, emails, and even a link to an online contact form. Also on every page, include a link at a natural end point that allows them to contact you. For example, they could be reading the description of a property and they might really like it. Instead of thinking to scroll up and look for the contact button, there could be one at the bottom of every one of your property descriptions.

We know these tips are general, but we hope they provide you a meaningful start to improving your real estate website. How you advertise yourself says a lot about how you appear to others. We hope you provide the best user experience possible for your customers, and wish you many new successful sales in the new year!

What To Do When You Hit A Sales Slump

January 2, 2019

It’s happened to every single REALTOR®. From the best of the best to the rookies – at one point, often in the beginning of the year, you hit a sales slump. That pressure is especially hard on real estate agents as their bread and butter is built off how many sales they make. The important thing to remember about slumps is that they don’t last. You will have your bad days and you will move past them. To help you get back onto your feet, try to remember the following things:

Review Your Goals

It may be a hard lesson to learn, but just because something was working great for you in the past does not guarantee that it will work for you in the future. Marketing techniques change all the time, and we often have to adapt with them. Have a look at your goals regularly. Some agents do it once a month, others once a year. Find what works for you and always check in on what is working and what hasn’t been. You might need to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch – but that’s okay! At least you will have caught your problem and worked to fix it rather than suffer longer than you needed to in your slump.

Get Back To Basics

Once you’ve reviewed your goals, it’s important to re-learn the basics. If one of the greatest golf players of all time, Tiger Woods, consistently practices his putts, so, too, can you practice your basic skills.

Problems in sales aren’t usually caused by something complicated. It’s usually because something is done slightly wrong. When you get back to the basics you are able to take the corrective action that is necessary to get you out of your sales slump.

Improve Your Efficiency

Make a list of thing things that you could do better. Sometimes, they can be easily achieved by working a little bit harder, or even smarter. Commit to your list until you are out of your bad spell so that you are always marking some progress day by day.

Coaching

Coaching can go two ways. One way takes a lot of personal courage which is to video tape or audio record your presentations and calls. You really need to be honest with yourself and think whether you would buy based on your pitches.

Another way is to find a mentor or hire a coach will watch you while you work or network. Make sure that the person you pick will also be honest with you. You won’t grow as a person if your friend is consistently telling you you’re great when your bank book says otherwise.

 

Surround Yourself With Inspiration

If your workmates or your friends are consistently complaining, or how they only get the short end of the stick, or how they’ve only slept a few hours last night, this will invariably dampen your mood. They will suck the life out of you and you will eventually lose your ambition. We, as humans, are the combination of the six most important people in our lives. If at least one of those people is a negative person, that will rub off and can dampen your sails. Find people who inspire you, challenge you, and support you through good and bad.

Change Your Environment

Changing your environment doesn’t have to be a big scary thing of moving offices across town. It totally can be and maybe that is exactly what you need to do. But it could also mean your current office space isn’t working for you in a specific way. Maybe you need to de-clutter, maybe you need to rearrange your office furniture or buy some extra storage cabinets.

Changing your environment can also mean taking a day off! If you spend more than 5 days a week in the office you need to recharge your batteries somehow. Focus on your own self-development by reading a book in a coffee shop or taking a hike. Remember to have a life outside your work as this could be the reason you are in a slump.

Treat Yourself

Usually when we are at our lowest, we feel that we don’t deserve anything. But that is exactly when you should treat yourself to one thing. Maybe it’s a day at the spa, or buying a really expensive suit. Make sure it is fancy, a little out of your budget, and only one thing. Make this your motivation. Sometimes that fancy new suit or those worked out kinks from the massage will give you the boost of confidence you need to make those sales.

Please remember that if you are in a slump, that this does not define you. Like all economic cycles there are booms and busts. As long as you know what motivates you and stay disciplined, you can work yourself out of any slump that comes your way. You can do this!

How to Hire a Home Inspector

December 19, 2018

A home inspection is the most crucial step to purchasing a home. Your client may fall in love with a property only to find out that the foundation is crumbling, the house is shifting and goodness knows what else. Or worse, your client may have an inspection from an inspector who gives the green light on a house that after a year starts falling apart, just as Dixie Marchuk did. So how can you ensure that your client gets the best inspector?

Training

In Ontario, home inspectors are unregulated. You will find a variety of home inspectors with a variety of backgrounds. Some will have entered their positions without a long background in building trades. While it is not fair to outright discount those who took all of the courses to become a home inspector, it is worth appreciating those who have been a plumber or electrician for a number of years before changing professions.

Industry Associations

Seeing that your home inspector belongs to a national, provincial or regional industry association is a great sign to their credibility. It shows that they are interested in staying current and are regularly learning new skills. To add further reassurance, some industry associations will not let members advertise that they are a part of the industry association until they have met a set of standards. Just remember, do not get blinded by their certification. Just because they have one does not necessarily mean they are good – not all industry associations are alike.

Licence

As of 2018, Ontario home inspectors require licences. Make sure that the home inspector you are looking to hire has one.

Interview and References

You should never hire anyone without an interview. During the interview you will learn the inspector’s personality and whether or not you will feel comfortably relying on this person to walk through your dream house. You can ask for references as well to ensure that your inspector isn’t all talk.

Insurance

When interviewing the home inspector, make sure to ask them if they carry errors or omissions insurance. While this insurance is not mandatory for most provinces, and many qualified inspectors might not carry it, it is nice to see if they do. It’s an extra assurance that if something goes wrong, you will be covered.

 

Working Together

While most of the information above is difficult to navigate as they are sufficient to make a good inspector but not necessary, here is an easy red flag to watch out for. If the home inspector you are interviewing does not offer for you to observe the process with them that is a major red flag. Do not accept being told to just sit in the kitchen and wait for them to be done. A home inspector’s main job is to educate someone about their home. The best way to do this is to have them tag along for the experience.

At the end of the day, you can look at your agents’ referral, you can even look at your friends’ referrals. But you must pick someone who feels right for you, not just because someone else offered you a good deal or you hope they will give you the answer you are looking for. You have to find someone who is willing to tell you your dream home is not fit to move into. You need someone who will really look out for you and your best interests. We hope this helps you in your process of hiring a home inspector!

 

 

How To Prepare For A Fixer Upper

December 13, 2018
There are some of us who just don’t want or like what others already have. We have a vision, and often that vision can only come to fruition if we build it ourselves. Fixer Uppers can be a great way of getting the perfect bones of a home on a budget so you can spend your money building the home of your dreams exactly as you want it. But be warned! Buying a fixer upper is different than buying a turnkey home. You’ll need to prepare your mindset and budget accordingly. Here’s our breakdown of the situation:

Make A List of “Wants” and “Needs”

Though it begrudges everyone to say it, when fixing up a home, functionality must take priority over aesthetics. Before going ahead with designing the blueprint of your dreams, determine which infrastructure repairs are essential, and which upgrades are also absolutely necessary. Once these are completed you can then focus on beautifying projects like bathrooms and kitchens. And again, while it may seem counter-intuitive, hold off on upgrading appliances until the first two (especially the first) has been taken care of. A leaky roof can be quite costly to fix, and often, unexpected.

Affordable Vs Expensive Fixes

To get an idea of what is an easy, affordable fix versus what is an expensive fix here is a quick list. Easy fixes include stripping wallpaper, painting, refinishing floors, installing light fixtures and ceiling fans, fixing broken windows, replaced baseboards, replacing doors, adding a deck, and painting the exterior of the home. Expensive fixes tend to be replacing the HVAC system, shoring up foundations, reroofing, replacing plumbing and electrical services, resurfacing driveways and sidewalks and front steps, complete kitchen and bath remodels, and building garages or additions to homes.

Buying Used and DIY

To get as much bang for your buck when preparing for a fixer upper, be prepared to consider purchasing used over new. You can see significant decreases in price on used appliances that are in fantastic condition from other remodels. Furniture is also a great thing to buy used – tables can be easily re-varnished, vintage chairs can also be easily reupholstered. They can look brand new for a fraction of the cost of new! And by doing these fixes yourself, you can save yourself the labour fee of paying a professional to do what you can do.

Deciding Whether To Live Or Not Live In Your Fixer Upper

Some people prefer to do everything at once, and ideally as quickly as possible. This way you can get your home as messy as it needs to be when you are gutting it. However, when fully gutting your home, you will need to live somewhere else, which can tap into finances that you may have not planned for. If you do plan on renovating as much as you can as quickly as you can, set up a monthly budget of how much you want to spend renting another place and how long are you going to be living there. Things can add up quickly when owning a home as well as renting another whilst renovating the fixer upper. If you do plan on living in your fixer upper as you fix it, consider doing one room at a time so that the house maintains its livability and does not overwhelm those who live in it.

Living in a fixer upper will come with a roller coaster of emotions. In the beginning you will be rearing to go, and towards the middle you will feel easily overwhelmed. But in the end I promise you will feel like it was one of the best decisions you have ever made. Make a plan, stick to it, and reap the rewards!

 

Buy First or Sell First?

December 5, 2018

Moving on up in the property ladder is an exciting new path for anyone. Except when it means deciding whether you should buy first or sell first! There are so many things to consider: down payments, money set aside for financing, a home inspection, even storage. And while people may think there is a definite right answer, most REALTOR®s will say that deciding whether to buy or sell first often falls down on the city you live in, the house you have, and sometimes, even your own personality. In order to make sure you are helping your client to make the best possible decision, here are some important pros and cons to share with them.

Buying First

Buying first can be a very enjoyable way to start the home transition process. There is no looming date for closing on your existing home so you can spend as much time as you need finding your ideal place to live. Furthermore, you can rest easy that should you find a place you want to put an offer on, you still have time to find somewhere else if your offer is unsuccessful.

The downside to buying first is that should you find your dream home and purchase it, but your current home has not been sold yet, you might be stuck owning two properties at once (and potentially two mortgages!) In addition to mortgages, it must also be considered that the costs of owning a home are not solely tied to mortgages, but also to maintenance.

If you are keen on buying first, there is a possibility to save yourself from owning two homes at once. When making an offer on your next home, protect yourself by making the offer conditional on the sale of your current home. This way, if you cannot sell your home within a specified period of time, you can back out of the transaction scot-free. However, it should be noted that this kind of offer may appear less attractive to sellers, especially if their property is located in a hot market.

Selling First

In addition to saving yourself from owning two homes at once, one of the biggest benefits to selling first is that you will know precisely how much money you can play with when purchasing your next home.

Selling first isn’t all pros, however. The disadvantage with selling first is that you will be racing against the clock to find the perfect home for you to move in before your closing date comes up. If you don’t find a home within that time period, you risk renting until you do, buying a home that isn’t ideal for you, or paying more than you should have because the process was so rushed.

But just as there was a contingency plan with buying first, so, too, is there with selling first! One option of saving yourself the hassle is having a back-up home plan. This could mean moving in temporarily with friends or family until you’ve found your dream home. Alternatively, you could consider a short term rental until your purchase goes through.

There is no easy way to make the decision of whether you should buy first or sell first. All you should know is that you must make the decision that is right for you. Ensuring a conversation with your REALTOR® is one of the best ways to understand your market and what would be better in this instance. They can discuss several realistic scenarios and expectations given your choices and ideas. Good Luck!

Renovate Before You Sell?

November 28, 2018

Your home may look good to you, but is it good enough to sell? That’s a tough question to answer. An even tougher question is if you are looking to make your home more palatable to potential homebuyers, is it better to renovate before you sell? The answer, believe it or not, is not always yes. Because there are some things buyers like, and some that they are willing to pay more for. So how do you know which renovations will pay out? Lucky for you, we have all the answers!

RENOVATIONS TO DO

General Repairs

This is an incredibly important renovation to do. While it may not necessarily get you more money, not renovating things that require general renovation work can and often will result in you lowering your selling price in order to sell your home. The reason for this is that when a homebuyer sees a broken item or a cracked floor tile, they might worry that there is a lot more to do than what just meets the eye.

Painting

This is one of the easiest and most affordable things you can do to spruce up your home’s value. Painting your home in light, neutral colours such as off-white, beige or grey will turn your home into a blank canvas in which homeowners can easily envision themselves in. Even if you don’t feel like your painting skills aren’t up to snuff, hiring professionals is also fairly affordable.

Decluttering and Professional Cleaning

Less is always more. Taking away the many knickknacks in a home and letting a homebuyer to see what they could do the space will speak volumes. Especially when it’s sparkling clean from top to toe.

GAMBLE RENOVATIONS

Kitchen and Bathroom Overhauls

These renovations are tricky. Because while everyone wants a fancy new kitchen or bathroom, their tastes might not match yours. So you may make your kitchen or bathroom farmhouse chic, but actually the homebuyer that was most interested in your house wanted a mid-century Italian look. If you insist on doing kitchen or bathroom renovations, do cosmetic upgrades such as an updated tap or a backsplash. Avoid redoing your counters or cabinets.

Re-Landscaping

Curb appeal is very strong attractor to potential homebuyers. If you’ve got a gorgeous front and back yard they will melt away and want your home. However, if the landscaping is intensive and high-maintenance many will shy away from your home as gardening is known to be sweaty, backbreaking work. Speak with a gardening expert at your local hardware store or a landscape artist if you really need to change the landscape of your home and see how you can do this in the most beautiful, affordable and low maintenance way possible.

RENOVATIONS TO AVOID

Swimming Pools

This is due to very similar reasoning as what was mentioning in re-landscaping. Pools can be very high-maintenance and are quite costly to install. Many view pools as a safety risk, so if your home doesn’t already have a pool, do not look to invest in one!

Specific Function Rooms

The trend throughout this article can also be seen in this section as well. Built-in bars, home theatres, garage mahals, these are all to very specific tastes. Even if done tastefully and well, it will not apply and appeal to every potential homebuyer that walks into your home. When selling a home you want to cast as wide of a net as possible, and creating a specific function room cannot guarantee you the highest offer on your home.

When it comes to home renovations before you sell, you definitely should consider some of them! Just remember, that this is the time to play it safe. When you have your own new home, we encourage you to be as daring as you like. But in order to sell your home for the price you want, try to envision what the average homebuyer might like. You can always ask your real estate agent for tips and tricks as they’ll know what will sell really well. Good luck!

 

Open House Safety

November 21, 2018
Most people see open houses as a great tactic to use when selling a home. But as a real estate agent, you could open yourself up to a lot of security issues when showing a home. With a house so readily accessible, it can leave you and the home open to robbery or violence. To make sure each and every one of your open houses run smoothly and successfully, here are some sure-fire tips to do next time you have an open house.

Partner Up

Whether it is finding a trustworthy colleague or hiring a security guard, there is no denying that there is strength in numbers. The security guard could be dressed in plain clothes to make it seem as if they are simply helping you out with the process. The bigger the house, the more helpful it will be to have more than one pair of eyes looking over a home.

Use Security Cameras

If finding a partner is difficult, or you simply want to maintain the highest level of protection possible, consider installing smart home cameras that link to your phone. If other REALTOR®s can catch an open house robbery on tape, so can you!

Put Away Valuables

It’s better to be safe than sorry. To avoid tempting a stranger from taking something that is very valuable to a homeowner, ask the homeowner to remove any portable and in plain sight valuables (cash, prescription drugs, jewels, wine, electronics and heirlooms) and put them in a safety deposit box during the open house. Make sure your homeowner knows that even if something is not directly in plain sight, the top drawer is also a go-to spot for thieves. So any bills, checks, IDs, and bank statements should not be stored there either. Identity theft is unfortunately very prevalent and can leave lasting damages.

Limit Access To The Home

One way to show potential homebuyers the allure of a home is to demonstrate all of the potential entrances and exits of a home. However, when it comes to an open house, having a single entry point is the safest thing to do. Make sure every other window and door is locked in the home so you can feel confident that if someone entered the home it could have only been from the place you are expecting.

Entry Conditions

To have an added layer of security in addition to a single entry way into the home, you can have your colleague, security guard, or even a trusted neighbour or friend to stand by the door to greet everyone. This greeter can ask for photo ID to gain entry. If you place a handsome sign in the front of the home that is impossible to miss, the greeter will not throw off visitors. And for those who do not have photo ID with them, you can choose based on your own discretion whether or not they should enter (don’t just assume that the bigger someone is the scarier they are!). If you do let someone in without showing ID, make sure to never be alone with this person in a room.

Having an open house can open many doors, just make sure those doors are figurative rather than literal!

Why Real Estate Commissions Vary

November 14, 2018

Homebuyers and sellers alike are constantly confused by the variation in commission prices from real estate agents. It’s pretty easy to want to get the cheapest possible commission, because you want as much money from the sale of your home as possible. We’re going to break it down for everyone directly related to the house hunting process so you understand why commissions vary and how it looks for both buyers and sellers.

Commission Payment Structure

Oftentimes, you will see that a REALTOR® charges their commission as a percentage of the sales price of the home. But it can also be a fixed dollar amount or a combination of the two.

Generally, this price is paid by the seller as it includes the agreed upon commission for the listing agent and can include a portion to be given to the brokerage representing the buyer. Remember that real estate commission is subject to HST, so do the math before agreeing!

Buyers also can pay their real estate agent or broker when and if they sign a Buyer Representation Agreement. However, be aware that if the commission listed in the BRA is greater than what was already agreed upon by the listing agent to give to the buying agent, you might be on the hook to pay the difference.

You Get What You Pay For

I know many are hesitant to believe this, but when negotiating (yes, you can ALWAYS negotiate the commission of a real estate agent!) the commission rate of your real estate agent you need to know what comes with that negotiation.

Some sellers prefer to offer a lower rate of commission and take on a higher number of properties at once so that their pay is stable – but with many properties to represent comes less one-on-one attention. If you live in a neighbourhood where properties are selling like hot cakes, this could be a great option for you. However, if your home is in a quieter neighbourhood or is being sold due to a family break up it might help to have a real estate agent who will do more for your home. They can make a YouTube video of a tour of your home, they can list it on social media platforms, make a VR tour of your home – the possibilities of marketing your home are endless.

Have a genuine and sincere conversation with any and all real estate agents you are currently speaking to in order to understand what your and their expectations are for the rate of commission under negotiation. At the end of the day, you want to find somebody with whom you are on the same page. If you get along and trust in one another, you will be less likely to feel scammed.

Sit down and figure out how hot your neighbourhood is, what are the comparable prices, and how your home stacks up compared to those for sale. This should give you a good idea of what kind of marketing services you might need from your real estate agent. Once you have this down, talk to a few and figure out which most aligns with your needs and negotiate from there. Good luck!

Deposits 101

November 7, 2018
House hunters who are looking to enter the property ladder for the first time are a delightful bunch. They are excited to go to every viewing and cannot wait to find the home of their dreams. However, being the property virgins they are, they might not know much about deposits and how it relates to their house hunting process. Here is an easy way to break down deposits to them and hopefully cover every query they might have about them.

What Is A Deposit?

A deposit serves two purposes. The first is that a deposit provides security to a seller contractually speaking. By putting money into an agreement, the seller feels secure that if the buyer walks away they have something to lose. The second reason is that if there are any breaches in the contract on behalf of the buyer, the deposit essentially works as a pre-estimated amount of damages that can be awarded to the seller.

How Are Deposits Paid?

In the Province of Ontario, deposits are usually paid by money order or certified cheque.

How Much Should A Deposit Be?

You will hear in all corners of the internet different percentages that people say are what you should pay for deposit. However, there is no fixed amount of deposit required by law. The amount is usually negotiated between the buyer and the seller, and it is usually done so using local customs. In Toronto, the lowest generally accepted amount for a deposit is 5% of the asking price of the property. Truthfully speaking, the higher the deposit, the more attractive the offer will be to the seller. There have been many instances where sellers will accept a lower price for a higher deposit.

When Is A Deposit Due?

In a standard wording of an Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) (double check that yours is standard with a real estate lawyer – it might not be!) you have 24 hours to pay the deposit. Note that this does not mean one business day! So if you make an offer on a Saturday, the deposit is due on a Sunday. A deposit must be liquid for this very reason. To be the most attractive buyer, provide the certified deposit at the same time as an offer.

If a deposit is late, you will be in breach of the agreement and the Seller has no obligation to keep the deal. Don’t take the risk!

Where Is A Deposit Held?

Deposits are normally held by the listing brokerage in something called a trust account. Trust accounts are highly regulated and routinely audited temporary accounts that hold money until a transfer is complete. It does not go into the direct hands of the brokerage or the seller until it leaves the trust account.

Is My Deposit Insured?

It is up to $100 000. If you wish to put more than $100 000 deposit than you may be asked to provide two deposits to reduce risk.

What Happens To My Deposit At Closing?

Upon closing, the deposit is applied to the Buyer’s closing costs and forms part of the purchase price at closing. That is to say, if a house is sold for $500 000 and you put down a $40 000 deposit, any additional down payment and the mortgage money from the lender (less the expenses and adjustments) would be given to the seller.

Deposits can get tricky, and by no means is the above an exhaustive definition of deposits! This information should not be taken as solid legal advice, so if you have any specific questions further to this introduction on deposits, please refer all homebuyers to real estate lawyers. Happy house hunting!

5 Tips Before You Move

October 31, 2018

Put simply: moving house is stressful. You never fully appreciate how many things you have until you have to put it all into boxes…and then into a moving van…and then unpack them and somehow make them fit in your new place. It is exhausting to say the least. And while we cannot take that pain away fully, we can lighten your load with some lifesaving tips we wish we knew before we did any big moves ourselves!

Pack An Overnight Bag

After a busy day loading things and unloading things and getting them into the right rooms, you will be too tired to sit down and start unpacking. But you will want your bare essentials and instead of packing those into a big box that you forgot to label, why not pack an overnight bag? Put a change of clothes (especially if you’re going to work the next day), your laptop, toiletries and anything you think could get stolen during a move.

Pack Essentials in a Clear Plastic Bin

After your first night being saved by an overnight bag, you will need essentials. What are these essentials? Well, they are things we often take for granted. Garbage bags, paper towels, eating utensils, phone chargers, power strips, box cutters – and don’t you wish you didn’t have to spend all day searching boxes that were or weren’t labelled? Problem solved. Go to your local big box store and pick up a couple clear bins and put your important stuff in them. The best part? Once you’re done those boxes will come in handy for storage in the house so really you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Take A Picture Behind Your Electronics

This may sound silly but hear us out. Go find your TV, your computer, your game console and turn it around. How many times do you see those wires and appreciate where each cable goes? While some may only need a cable or two, having a picture of what it looked like will save you time and frustration setting it back up again.

Make Your Last Grocery Trip Two Weeks Before Moving

You hopefully have become used to having a pristine home during viewings, which often meant light if any cooking at all in your home. You might as well stay in that habit until you move out with your last shopping trip two weeks before the big move. You’d be surprised how long food can stay in the fridge and in between packing and changing addresses on everything you might not have as much time to cook so meal prepping will be your best friend during this time.

If You Have Kids Or Pets Hire A Sitter

Sometimes kids are great and can help with moving. However, if they’re under 7 or are as helpful as a hamster, it’s best to find a sitter to keep them company and psych them up for the big move. That way you can focus on getting as much done as possible without constant interruptions or slow-downs.

We hope these suggestions are new and helpful and make a big difference in your stress levels during your move! Congrats on your new home, we know you’ll love it.

REALTOR®’s Approaching People With Buyers For Their Property

October 25, 2018
A situation may happen where a client approaches you desperately in love with a house that is not currently on the market. They may ask you to contact the homeowner so that negotiations begin. This situation can turn tricky very easily as the homeowner is not represented yet and you have a very eager client. Here is an outline of how to be as fair and respectful to everyone as possible.

What To Do With Your Client

If your client is very serious about making an offer on a property not currently listed for sale, it is best to advise your client to get a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter from the bank if it is not a cash transaction.

It is also in the best interest of the client to prepare them for the event that the current homeowner will not be interested in selling the property. A house not on the market is not easily swayed to be listed.

What To Do With The Homeowner

It is safe to say that the homeowner will not be expecting a call or a visit from you, and so will likely need time to come to a decision. Having a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter from the bank on behalf of the potential buyers will show that you are serious and respectable, but what is more important is to let them know that they should seek out a listing agent. The listing agent will be able to tell them what a comparative market analysis says about their home. If the potential buyers have offered a price outright, having this information from another realtor will arm them with better information to decide if what is offered is actually a reasonable price for their home.

It may happen that the homeowner is open to negotiation and selling their property despite not being on the market, and they may seek to hire you as you were so proactive to find them. It is important to know that the government of Ontario is considering limiting the practice of dual agency. While technically it can and does happen to represents both parties of the same transaction, it can get very messy very quickly, so the best way to protect consumers is to provide them the choice of seeking another REALTOR® in this transaction.

Another potential outcome that may arise is that the homeowner is open to negotiation but does not wish to hire a listing agent as they already have a serious, interested buyer. However, they may ask if they have to pay you commission or what the costs are surrounded selling a property without a listing agent. The ethical response is to still encourage them to hire a real estate agent because, just as it is your responsibility to get the best price for your client, it is statistically proven that people who sell their homes without a REALTOR® sell their home for less than its actual value. They may think the lower price is equivalent to how much they would have spent paying a real estate agent in commission, but that is not necessarily the case. Encourage the homeowner, if they are open to selling, to find an agent who can get the most value for their home.

We hope this solves any conundrum revolving around this situation, and that you continue to be a proactive agent!

What To Do When Clients and Realtors Don’t Get Along

October 17, 2018
While it is the ultimate goal of any REALTOR® to form a strong and positive relationship, it would be foolish to say that every agent/client relationship is perfect. If you feel that before every encounter you have to take a breath to suppress negative thoughts, or that you’ve skipped one too many of their calls, it might be time to think about changing direction. Changing direction does not necessarily mean terminating a professional relationship, so here are some things to step back and analyse in your professional relationship before deciding to call it quits.

Re-Examine How You Communicate

If it’s the number one reason couples break-up, you can be sure it’s also the number one reason clients and agents fall out as well. Communication issues can crop up in all sorts of creative and unsuspecting ways: it can be a dilemma over when a property sign should go up, how often an agent should visit the property, or why commission prices change based on what you ask an agent to do for a property. The reasons are endless, but they can be easily prevented. As an agent, your responsibility should be to determine the policy of what should be expected of you and to ensure you are always adhering to it. The crucial part of establishing this policy is to do it before the professional relationship even begins so that both parties have a very clear understanding of how the other will operate. If and when one or both parties stop adhering to this policy, that is when it might be the right time to part ways.

Cancelling Listing Agreements

If, after serious reflection you have decided that this relationship cannot be repaired, do not be afraid to cancel an agreement or contract. The best way to do this is through mutual consent, but that may not always be possible. The best way to protect both sides in this type of contract is to ensure that every contract signed between an agent and a client has a safety or protection clause. Imagine a situation where Sam Seller lists his house with Ally Agent. Betsy Buyer speaks to Sam Seller and says that if he breaks his contract with Ally Agent, she can buy the house and they can both save commission. A safety clause can protect an agent from these situations, and can also protect Sam Seller in the event that Betsy Buyer renegs on the deal.

If there is a safety or protection clause in place, and there are still issues but you feel there may be room to iron them out, you can choose to refuse to cancel the contract. You will then need to direct your client to your broker and have them formally request a cancellation through this route.

If the broker refuses (a very rare instance), they can offer an olive branch by assigning a different agent under the same brokerage to the client.

If the worst case scenario arises, make sure you know and have a solid relationship with a real estate lawyer so you can seek termination assistance. But remember to always speak to your broker first before doing so.

Cancelling A Buyer’s Agency Agreement

As an agent, the best practice you can engage is to create a Buyer’s Agency Agreement between you and your client. This will spell out the rights and duties of both the agent and the buyer and will explain in detail what should happen in the event that either party wants to terminate the contract.

If, as an agent, you would prefer a softer approach before turning to the Buyer’s Agency Agreement, consider suggesting to your client that they would be better off working with another agent who could more readily meet their needs. You can refer that client to a specific agent who you think would give them what they need in exchange for a referral fee, so that your work has not gone uncompensated.

 

It would be wonderful if every relationship between agent and client went smoothly. And many agents take the approach to avoid learning how to deal with conflict as a sign of their own confidence in their people skills. But unfortunately, it is certain that at least one professional relationship you engage in will sour, and how you handle that situation could be more representative of your reputation than all of your good professional relationships combined. Make sure you prepare for the stormy seas so that when they happen, you will sail over them as if they were as smooth as calm waters.

5 Ways The Real Estate Market Has Changed

October 10, 2018

Back in the day, if you wanted to buy or sell a property you’d pull out one of the many notepads or fridge magnets you had lying around the house and dialled the number of an advertised real estate agent. Today, through the advancement in technology there is a lot more convenience and access to information on both sides of the transaction. Here are five key ways the real estate marketplace has changed so that you may better understand how these changes may impact you in helping a client list or purchase a home.

Buyers and Sellers Have More Access to Information

There’s no going back: today’s consumer does significant research online before making a purchase, especially one that is as important as purchasing a home. They can use websites like REALTOR.ca instead of driving up and down streets looking for “For Sale” signs. Instead of starting on a foot where your client knows more about which properties they are interested in than you do, try increasing your digital marking now more than ever. While the traditional methods of knocking on doors or “Just Listed” postcards still catch people’s attention, having a strong social media presence on a variety of platforms will create trust and interest amongst potential clients. This way, the information they are getting from the internet could very well be from you and you will be their access to information!

Real Estate Professionals Are More Accessible

Remind your clients that just as they can easily get mountains of information at the drop of a hat while surfing online, they can also do the same with you. Gone are the days where an agent could only be reached during office hours. Remind them that you can be contacted by email, through any of your social media platforms, and have a cell phone number that goes directly to you so that they don’t need to jump through hoops finding the right extension to dial at your office. Letting a client know that you can provide any guidance or advice they need to get a quick response will reassure them that you are dedicated to them.

Commerce is Conducted Electronically

A client may easily feel daunted with how long paperwork takes, and they might not have the time to drive to and from banks and properties to sign what they need to sign. To make the purchasing or selling process as smooth as possible, ensure that most of your commerce is done electronically. Contracts can be signed with electronic signatures, money can be transferred electronically and offers can be submitted via email. This makes your life faster and easier, but most importantly, it takes a significant load off your client’s mind.

Real Estate Professionals Can Offer Specialised Service

Because so much information is now available online for people interested in buying and selling property there isn’t much room to be just a general real estate agent. That may have worked twenty years ago when people were just looking for somebody local, but nowadays you can build an online presence that meets the needs of your clients. Many clients are looking for a lifestyle in addition to a wonderful home or investment opportunity. You can specialise in specific neighbourhoods, demographics, and you will need to constantly be doing research on local amenities and what stores or restaurants are trending in that area. Others will want to know about up-and-coming neighbourhoods that fit their budget, so you can specialise in that service instead. There are plenty of ways to be a client’s go-to guru, find what works for you and lean into that!

Rising List Prices

We are living in a healthy and happy economic period. This means that prices are increasing constantly on Toronto properties. Be prepared for multiple offers and tough competition – but more importantly, teach your client to be prepared for these instances. Toronto’s real estate market is usually high in demand and low in inventory, so remember what your client’s requirements are and make sure that you always respect that when selling their property or finding the right property for them.

We hope these tips not only let you get a sense of how the market has changed, but how you can change with the market. There’s plenty of opportunity out there for you to make a big name for yourself.

 

Elderly Canadians Prefer to Live in Their Cottages

October 3, 2018
Step aside cramped and expensive retirement residences that are dotted around the GTA, Toronto’s elderly want a different locale altogether when they retire. Recreational real estate in June of this year saw a 13% year-over-year increase. It is very interesting to note that the recreational real estates that Canada’s retirees look to live in are not just small, tucked away properties (though those have also gained popularity). The increase in all types of recreational property has gone up for this demographic which includes waterfront properties, water access properties and ski-in properties. It is also important to note that distance is not a significant factor in these purchases as 68% of surveyors said they would be willing to travel up to two hours for their purchase, 31% said they would travel for two hours and 28% they would travel three or more hours for the perfect cottage.

As many baby boomers already own cottages it is a natural step for them to downsize and retire in something comfortable that they’ve known for a good chunk of their lives. And if they are moving down there, why not their friends, too?

But baby boomers aren’t just buying cottages to retire in them, many still want to have a solid income post retirement and what better way to do that than by cashing in on a property that is relatively affordable, renovate it and rent it out throughout the year?

Research shows that pensioners are creative when buying these cottages. Some already own them and will move straight in as already mentioned, others are refinancing their urban home so they can move into the country side, others still are taking some equity out of their urban home to buy a nice slice of life along the lake, some are pooling funds together with friends and families to live in a shared recreational property, and finally there are those who are just looking to sell their urban home altogether and move into some peace and quiet.

Please remember that baby boomers make up the largest portion of Canada’s population, so when a trend begins among them it will have extremely pervasive effects. Last year 55% of retirees packed up their things and moved to recreational properties. This year, 91% of activity that happened in recreational properties is due to baby boomers.

For many, retiring in an idyllic Canadian cottage is living the “Canadian Dream”. So if you are looking to expand your horizons and become a niche REALTOR®, it might be worth your while to branch out and investigate recreational properties that would suit the needs and lifestyles of Toronto’s retiring generation. Speak to your clientele and ask them what their plans are for retiring, and ask them if they have thought of a cottage somewhere up north or out west, and if they would prefer that to renting a spot in a cramped retirement residence. That investment may appeal to them as they can pass the recreational property onto their family for generations of enjoyment!

Why You Should Work With A Real Estate Professional

September 26, 2018

It’s very easy for a potential client to surf through the internet and come upon a mountain of information about the real estate market. They may even think to themselves, “why should I hire one when I can do all this myself?” For those of us in the industry, we know that the easy answer is that they cannot do this all by themselves, but here is a helpful list of reasons to give to a potential client who may not see things the way we do.

Education

Sure, a potential client can spend days, weeks, even months researching the ins and outs of real estate but by the time they have amassed all the necessary information, it might be pushing or passing a deadline for them to find or sell a property. By hiring someone who has already taken the time to absorb all of this education by a respected and certified institution they can rest easy that they are hiring an expert in the field.

Neighbourhood Knowledge

A part of a real estate professional’s education comes from knowing a designated neighbourhood very well. They will know the data on schools, crime, demographics and whatever else you could possibly ask for at the drop of a hat because they have taken the time to research the area very well. They will also be able to identify comparable sales and give you information the internet might not give you. For example, you may know a house is up for sale in your neighbourhood, but an agent will be able to tell you that it sold for far under its asking price. They can also provide you information for how long a property has been on the market and how many times a property has been in escrow.

Agents Make Amazing Buffers

If someone wants to buy or sell a property all by themselves they’ll be excited by any attention they get. But a real estate professional and keep at bay all the false starts. For example, when showing property listings to a potential buyer, a REALTOR® will easily be able to take out spam listings that a client may mistake for good buys. And if the potential home buyer is looking at new homes, a REALTOR® can prevent builder’s agents from nipping at the heels of a buyer and scaring them off. Additionally, when helping out a seller, a REALTOR® can easily sniff out people who are viewing a house seriously and those who are just browsing around. This will all save enormous amounts of time and effort on a client’s behalf.

Professional Networking

While legal liability may prevent recommending a certain individual or company over another, real estate agents know other professionals whom you will need to hire during your real estate transaction. These could be mortgage brokers, home inspectors, stagers and contractors for renovations. Sure, there may be reviews online, but do you really know how many of those reviews were purchased? Trusting a real estate professional who has been in the business for some time means they will steer you in the right direction – it would be bad business not to!

Questions After Closing

Say your potential client is very eager to do everything by themselves and swears they have done all the necessary research. There may be a great deal of information out there regarding listings, open houses, and what not. But I can guarantee you they will be full of questions following the closing. Land transfer taxes can fall behind and not be charged to an account for months. This may confuse a potential client but a REALTOR® will have all the answers.

Hiring a real estate professional should never been seen as a luxury cost. It is a necessary one that can get you the best price for your property whether you are buying or selling. They will be there every step of the way with their immense education and experience and seek to make sure you are thoroughly satisfied throughout the process.

 

 

Key Decorating Tips To Make Any Room Look Better

September 19, 2018
Some people are born with a natural flair for design. Their eyes seem to hover over a blank space and paint a million possibilities into it. Others are glued to Pinterest and are constantly disappointed when their projects don’t turn out as envisioned. Fear not, because this article is here to give you an insight into the minds of the designing geniuses and how you can use these tips to make any room in your home look great.

Colour Schemes

Colour-blocking is incredibly important to create cohesion in a space. You’ll generally want three colours in a room, and the more adventurous you are the more you can add. But it is safe to say you have two main colours and one accent colour – the accent colour usually being the pop of life and brightness.

If you are looking for stripes in your room that have an architectural elegance, use the failsafe 50/150 rule. Mix one batch of paint 50% lighter than the base and another 150% darker. This will always create an extremely sophisticated look and will make you stand out in your strong understanding of colour.

Another colour scheme tip you can use is to paint your ceiling. This is an especially good idea in a room that has lots of tall cabinets or shelving. If you paint the ceiling a slightly paler version of the walls this will make your room seem brighter, even if it only has one window!

Fake Height

If your room doesn’t have the high ceilings you were hoping it would, the best way to get around it is to create strong verticals. An example of this is long, large mirrors that add space and height to a room. Additionally, buying furniture that is low-slung will emphasize the height of the room.

Go Big

Big wall art stands out and makes a statement in a way small art never could. It makes the room visually look bigger and draws strong attention to the space. So please throw away your collages and your string of photos and opt instead for a big piece that will become the focal point of your room.

Create Space

Believe it or not, but not every nook and cranny in your home need be filled. Less really is more. By having negative space for every piece of furniture you add to your room your room will appear bigger and comfier. It is also a good idea to remove the last piece of furniture you put into the room. The less clutter there is, the easier it is to allow light through a room.

Go Green

Sometimes the best way to add life to a room is by doing just that. Adding live plants to a room softens the edges of a stark colour scheme and can especially brighten up a space in a corner of a room or behind sofas and chairs.

We hope these tips inspire you that designing a room and making it better than your dreams is a job that is easily achievable!

Is It Time To Downsize?

September 12, 2018

All our lives we have been told that the more successful we are, the bigger our house will end up becoming. Maybe it’s time to ask your clients if that is necessarily the case. There are so many opulent condominiums popping up around that offer as luxurious a lifestyle, if not, more, than many of the mansions that are dotted around the city. For some, downsizing into a gorgeous Edwardian build filled with character is the perfect downsize for them. Downsizing isn’t just for empty nesters. Here are some important questions to ask your clients about their current lifestyle and whether downsizing is right for them.

Does size matter to me?

Jokes aside, if they really can’t shake that they will be happy in a smaller home, then don’t encourage it! But for many, a home’s value comes from its use. Ask them about how often family, friends and neighbours come to visit. How often do they use all the rooms in their house? If some spaces are bare or underused, perhaps moving into a smaller home isn’t as unconventional and against the grain as they might have previously thought.

Will I miss the space?

This answer is based purely on perspective. The number one thing people who have downsized loved about less space was that there was less cleaning. Instead of spending entire weekends devoted to yard work, pool maintenance and goodness knows what else, downsizing can mean that you only spend 2 hours a week total cleaning your house! Also, for those who are interested in downsizing but are still cautious about losing their spaciousness, suggest them properties that have cathedral-style ceilings that will make the room feel bigger than it is. Alternatively, finding a property that is very centrally-located should cure them of any worries they might have had over losing space.

What if life events affect me after I downsize?

This is something your clients will need to seriously consider before downsizing. If your client is a parent whose child has moved away for university, ask them what is the likelihood that that child might move back in after university? A one bedroom one bathroom property might be hard to share.

 

Alternatively, if your clients are a young family it might be worth considering that what is in their home or around their home suits the needs of their family such as parks, play areas, community centres, etc.

There are many things to consider when downsizing beyond the financials. But the financials are also very important. Many people need more money than they have already saved for retirement. Others are afraid of all the maintenance that goes into their current home. Others still, are afraid of the maintenance fees they might pay if they downsize into a fancy condo. Suggest to your clients that they speak with a financial advisor to see what is best for them and discuss how a specific neighbourhood or style of house would suit their lifestyle. We hope these questions give them a good springboard to figure out what is right for them!

Why Is The Concept Of Agency So Confusing?

September 5, 2018
Most people appreciate that when hiring a real estate agent, that agent will help them in the process of buying or selling a property. However, that is probably as much as they understand when it comes to the agent-client relationship they may form with you. Important concepts such as fiduciary duty, representation, handling confidential information, executing administrative duties and dealing with disclosures are all part and parcel of what it means to be an agent. But how do you explain that to your potential clients without making their head spin?


The concept of agency is a complex one but it needn’t be complicated. Here are some pointers when you next talk to your clients about what it is you do for them, and how unique the role is that you hold with them.

 

The History of Agency

Client representation has been a profession since the middle ages. Back when the servant-master relationship existed, it was understood that if the servant caused damage to someone, that person could seek recompense from the servant’s master. Over the centuries, this relationship of agent-client has developed, and while damages are still a fundamental concept of agency, today the concentration of the agency concept is on advocacy and representation.

 

Agency as a Whole vs. an Agent’s Duties

A lot of the confusion that stems from people trying to understand what an agent does stems from being hung up on what agency as a whole means. It’s far easier to break down what the duties of an agent.

A duty, when talking about agency, means a legal obligation to someone. An example of this could be a real estate agent’s duty to balance caveat emptor (buyer beware) laws with seller disclosure statements. An agent needs at least one duty in order to be functional. If you are describing the concept of agency as a whole, tell your client that that large notion only tells you how to act on the duty, not the other way around.

 

Real Estate Agency is Different than Most Other Agencies

Another reason many people get confused about what agency means, especially when it comes to real estate is that real estate agents are their own special version of agents. Traditional agents deal with responding to situations. For example, lawyers, pharmacists, plumbers – there are all people you as a client go to because a situation has been created in your life and you need an agent’s help to respond to them.

To be a real estate agent, there is often the opportunity to create situations. Real estate agents will commonly speak to opposing consumers to a transactions despite only representing one of the clients.

 

Timing is Everything

The problem with being a real estate agent is that sometimes it can be very hard to understand when your role as an agent begins. One moment you could be having a casual conversation at a local café with someone and then the next thing you know, you’re knee-deep in what should be a conversation held as an agent. Unlike the “response” or traditional type of agent role, the role of a real estate agent doesn’t have a formal way or time to create the beginning of the relationship.

The best way to determine when you have truly started your agent-client relationship is to recognise when your passive duties have turned into active ones. Active duties generally require an agent to do something on the behalf of their client. Passive duties need no such formalities.

 

Real Estate Agents Care About More Than Their Clients

This is not meant to be read in a negative light! On the contrary, it shows how complex and thoughtful the role truly is. If an agent only cared about their clients it could create potential zones of conflict. But real estate agents also owe a duty (albeit a much smaller one) to non-clients such as the opposing side of a transaction, other agents, and potential clients.

We hope that this list can help you better explain to your clients what you do and how unique your position is.

How to Be the Best Real Estate Agent

August 29, 2018
Whether you’ve been in the game for years or days, there is always room to grow in the field of real estate. Here are some out-of-the-box ideas that can help you be the best real estate agent around!

Pitch Stories to Reporters

Reporters online and in print are always looking for a new story to tell. Instead of just being a source for them in their regular real estate articles, why not help them by giving them real scoops. You know what’s trending better than anyone as you’re out on the field every day. Are cobblestone driveways trending? What about a certain countertop finish? Forming an excellent partnership with the press will help generate more connections and leads than you think!

Maintain Connections with Past Clients and Referral Sources

Please, please, please ditch the postcards, notepads and other mass-mailed trinkets you send to neighbourhoods. You only get a 2% return on your investment . If you must send something to current and former clients, send them market updates, a card saying their property has just been listed (or better yet, just been sold!) as well as birthday and holiday cards. For a unique spin that can get you approximately a 10% return on your investment, consider taking your contacts out for lunch (about $50 dollars total) four times a week. The more you stay in touch, the more up-to-date you are with how to best be there for your clients and team!

Define Yourself as a Consultant

Many people often mistake real estate agents as salespeople. Worse yet, they think that in order to be a successful real estate agent you must have stellar sales techniques. While these are excellent qualities to have, they are not the foundation on which to base your career. To be the best real estate agent you must be amazing at hunting, researching and understanding your clients’ needs. As much as you may be desperate for a deal, stay out of “sales” mode as much as you can. Remember to consult and never push and you will succeed.

You Don’t need to “List to Last”

You’ve probably heard that in order to make it in real estate you need to list. But this saying is as outdated as it is old. If you want to focus on buyers in the early stages of your career or make it the bulk of your career you can! Creating a niche and being an expert in a certain field such as buyers can help you stand out and balance your business income a little better.

We understand you are bombarded all the time to make sure you have a good mentor, that you have a strong online presence with great search-engine-optimization skills, and that you are throwing as many open houses as you can. We are here to credit your intelligence and give you ideas and tips you might not have heard or thought of from your typical, run-of-the-mill sources and hope they can help your business blossom!

Summer Tips for Busy Gardeners

August 22, 2018

Summer presents unique challenges for the wellbeing of your garden. To compound things, whether it be entertaining now very idle kids, or making time for a plethora of summer events, summer can be just plain busy. Follow these 8 tips to give your garden a lift when your time’s a hot commodity!

Keep your lawn a healthy length

Want to save time? Mow lawns as tall as your mower is able to. It may be counterintuitive, but scalping your lawn causes many knock-on problems that far outweigh the time you might save by a tighter shave. A thick layer of grass helps prevent weed growth, and you will have less work to do overall.

Plant beautiful, weather-appropriate plants

Placing some succulents in simple terra cotta containers goes a long way. These quirky and colourful plants can be used to beautiful effect, while being tolerant of missed waterings. Consider succulents such as Echeveria and Aeonium when you want a low-maintenance splash of colour, great for complimenting other natural features such as rocks or beach glass.

Water deep and less often to encourage deep roots

Plants try to grow their roots to optimize water intake. Shallow watering is like teaching your plants a bad lesson - that is, that they should grow their roots near to surface, leaving them vulnerable. Make sure your plants get a long drink in the morning and you will be rewarded with hardier plants.

Do not be afraid to pick vegetables early

Along with the benefit of reaping a tasty harvest earlier, picking vegetables often stimulates production. Remember to check behind leaves for camouflaged vegetables.

Take care of your young plantings

Your plantings are your investment, do not let them go to waste! Shelter them for a week or two while they establish and are able to withstand direct sunlight. Use shade cloth or leaves of other plants to make sure your plants have the best chance to thrive.

Place fresh mulch to reduce maintenance

Mulch serves many benefits for making your gardening life easier and getting the most productivity out of your soil. A layer of mulch will keep soil cool and stop fertilizer from being washed away.

Pull weeds before they seed

Use a long handled weeding tool to effectively remove weeds as they begin to crop up. Removing weeds before they begin to spread will save you a lot of work - and is an entirely organic means of weed control.

Plan your time effectively

The most important skill for having a beautiful garden when life gets busy is good time management. If you can, always work when it’s cool. Gardening tasks such as weeding and mowing take a lot of energy, and you both are safer and more likely to work quickly if you are not overheating. Make a schedule to check for problems such as disease and insect problems before they get out of hand. An ounce of preventive maintenance will save you a lot of work.

Hopefully these tips help you stay on top of summer while staying green! And of course, remember to take time to just sit back and enjoy the (possibly literal) fruits of your labour. The days are long, the sun is shining, there are few better times to enjoy your garden!

Downsizing Tips for Luxury Buyers

August 15, 2018
For luxury buyers who are used to sprawling, opulent homes, downsizing can be tricky. Oftentimes, they have amassed very important collections or valuable pieces they struggle to part with. If you are looking to provide invaluable support to your luxury buyer, here are some important tips you can pass along to them to help them prepare for a completely new chapter in their life.

Deep Clean The Current House

While many see cleaning as the last thing to do before you move out, a deep and thorough clean can help you reveal what hasn’t been used in years and what is important to a lifestyle. This will help them get the ball rolling and help to get them onto the minimalist track.

Three Labels Of Organization

Thinning out your current lifestyle can come with a lot of emotional turbulence. Advise your clients to have a bin that is for things to keep, things to sell and things to give to charity. To help them make these important decisions more easily, remind them to always ask if they have used the item in the last six months. Chances are, if they haven’t, they aren’t likely to use it again. Another easy tip to lessen their load is to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit – clothing or furniture.

Auction High-End Items

Your luxury client might have over time invested in a very comprehensive wine collection, art collection or something else entirely. If there was ever a good time to cash in on those investments, now is that time. Since they have already begun to divide up their life, aiming to keep a third to a half of what they currently own, at least they should get some profit from it!

Get An Objective Opinion

It is inevitable that there will be some items that will leave a luxury buyer stumped as to whether they should keep, sell, or give to charity. This is a great time to have an outside perspective be it a family friend, an appraiser, or even you to help them out.

Design The House Before Move In

Provide floor plans to your luxury buyer so that they can get started on truly appreciating the size of their new home. Once they try to envision what that room will look like they will start to get a clearer understanding that perhaps the room can only take one armoire rather than two. Save them the hassle of having to trip over their own furniture, or move it twice – once to the new house and once to the dump. Designing the new house with minimalism in mind can help ease this process. After all, moving into smaller quarters doesn’t mean they are reducing their quality of life.
 

Outdoor Entertaining

August 8, 2018

This gorgeous summer weather has us all begging to be outside, so this summer, instead of keeping your party indoors, lean in to the gorgeous weather and bring your entertaining outside! Having an outdoor party however isn’t as simple as bringing the inside out, so here are some helpful tips so that you can be the talk of the town this summer.

Seating

There will never be enough seating for all your guests. However, make sure the seats you do have are comfy! Putting comfortable cushions on top will make it easier for your guests to lounge outdoors for longer. If you’re into a boho chic look don’t be afraid to mix and match and bring your chairs from indoors – as long as it’s safe to sit on (think bean bags or benches) bring them out!

Table Decoration

What’s the perfect balance of aesthetic and low maintenance while still being environmentally friendly? Doing disposables carefully. For a rustic and eco-friendly vibe use brown craft paper across your table for a casual look that’s incredibly easy to clean up.

If you don’t want to use disposable plates and cutlery, use everything you’ve got in the house! An eclectic combination will create a more laid-back feel which is what everyone is truly seeking for on a hot summer’s day.

If you need help defining your outdoor space, try putting an umbrella over the table or wherever you can to create your “outdoor room” while providing some necessary shade!

When making centrepieces, the less fussy the better! Get a large serving platter you have lying around the house and get some floating candles and cut the stems off of some peonies and gardenias and let them float next to the candles. An easy and gorgeous look! Alternatively you can use colourful sand bucket pails and fill them with sunflowers.

Lighting

The classic lighting for outdoor entertaining is a fire pit. It’s perfect to sit around for s’mores, stories and warmth. However, it won’t be enough lighting if you’ve got more than 5 or 6 people coming to your event.

For larger groups consider using a vintage chandelier and fill it up with fairy lights for a romantic vibe or dot some flameless candles around path ways so people can see where they’re going. For a truly magical experience get some paper lanterns and light them as dusk falls – your group can even set them off into the sky and watch them float off into the distance.

Themes

If you want your event to have an extra pizzazz consider creating a theme to set the tone. For example, a Mad Men style party can have everybody come out in their best vintage looks. In the mean time you can serve them smoked oysters on the half “shell”, salmon rillettes while they sip on death valley martinis.

If the vibe you are going for is more garden party / afternoon tea, consider serving some English breakfast tea and Pimm’s along with cucumber sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and salt-and-pepper cheese puffs.

If you want to get creative, consider throwing a breakfast for dinner outdoor party. You can serve Mediterranean devilled eggs, cardamom rolls, and tomato breakfast toasts. For drinks, keep the brunch vibe going with sea breeze mimosas and garden bloody Marys.

We hope this gets your juices flowing for your upcoming outdoor party. Have fun and remember, don’t forget your sunscreen!

5 Gadgets That Will Improve Your Health

August 1, 2018

You always put your client first – it’s how you maintain an expert level of customer service. But did you know that if you don’t take care of yourself you might actually be doing your clients a disservice? Your health and your success in business are far more interlinked than you may think. Your posture can affect your energy levels when speaking to a client which can impact your sales. To get you at the right balance of health and work here are five gadgets that will improve your health.

Gym Watch

No, this is not a smart watch in the typical sense. What this watch does, unlike any app on an Apple Watch or Android Watch is that it can detect when you have poor form while exercising. And not only will it point out your poor form it will provide tips to correct it. Gym Watch can tell the difference between a half-hearted rep and a full effort one and uses movement data to help you reach your personal fitness goals. You officially don’t need a personal trainer anymore, just get this watch!

Healbe GoBe

Taking care of your health is not limited to just exercising regularly, it’s also looking after what you eat. But when you’re constantly on the go you might not always have saved the wrapper to your food to remember how many calories there are. Or, if you’re a fan of cooking, you might not know how many calories went into your lunch. This little device packs a punch in that it can measure your calorie intake without having to scan a barcode or type of everything you ate. On top of that it will keep track of your calories consumed as well as your stress, hydration and sleep levels!

TempTraq

If you have little ones, you’ll know how difficult it is to get them to sit still while taking their temperature. TempTraq is a smart gadget that sticks to your baby or young child’s torso and connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone app where it will record and log temperatures. Because you can have it stick on your child for prolonged periods of time, it will alert your phone if your child’s fever spikes.

Sense-U Clip

We have all been told our posture could be better. It is inevitable that given enough time in front of a computer, you will slouch while reading your email or talking over the phone. Correct posture not only reduces back and shoulder pain, but also fatigue! This posture grainer will track your posture throughout the day and nudge you into sitting properly. For $75.99 you can have a chiropractor invisibly hovering over your shoulder and telling you to live your best life all the time.
 

hOmeLabs

Many people don’t like obnoxious alarm clocks because they are a harsh way to get out of bed. But did you know that traditional loud alarms can increase your adrenaline and cortisol levels which can create lasting negative health impacts? This sunrise clock will help you gently wake up in the morning, but also will gently put you to sleep at night. It will slowly increase or decrease a natural light that mimics an outdoor hue so you can slowly and healthily wake up or fall asleep every day.

Remember that despite your incredibly busy schedule, there is always time to take care of yourself. Maybe one of these new gadgets will help maintain your fitness goals and help you to be the best at home as well as work!

Elements of a Residential Therapy Garden

July 25, 2018

We all know the value of curb appeal, but many don’t stop to think that the reason curb appeal is named the way it is, is because outdoor living can add enormous joy to a homeowner’s life. The idea of a therapeutic garden is nothing new: during the Middle Ages, therapy gardens were used in monastery hospitals! The Japanese have also been using Zen rock gardens for centuries as sacred places.

We live in an age where slowly but surely the stigma behind mental health is being erased. Architects and developers are starting to take seriously how to create and sustain a world that centres around wellness. You can see modern therapy gardens in cancer clinics, hospitals and memory-care centres across the country and how much of a positive impact they are providing to their patients.

Today, we are encouraging you to do the same with your own backyard or front yard. A therapy garden isn’t just for those who are suffering and seeking relief, they are great healing centres for caregivers who need to relieve from their own stress.

So, whether you are looking to boost your morale or your property’s value, here are some helpful tips when creating your own therapy garden.

Size, Care, and Location

People are easily daunted that a garden should be expansive in order for it to have a lasting effect on a person. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A small footprint garden is easy to maintain and is very affordable. And because it is so small you can put it almost anywhere on a property. Think about whether you want the garden to be a secluded or social area, and about its elevation.

Consider the Five Senses

Taste, smell, touch, see and hear – as long as your garden engages with one of these senses during every season, you will have a successful therapy garden. Smell is arguably one of the most important senses to appeal to as therapeutic landscape artist from Cornell University, Naomi Sachs argues that a person’s smell is one of the last senses to go and fragrant plants such as lilac can trigger sweet memories for those with dementia or brain injuries. It is important to remember that smells are good in most but not all situations. If you or the person you are designing this therapy garden for is undergoing chemotherapy it is best to avoid scents as patients during their treatment are easily nauseated. Sensitivity should also be practiced with the amount of light in the garden for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Choose a Few Essential Elements

Make sure when designing your garden that it is to your skill level and your ability to maintain it. Too many features can add stress – be it on the eyes or on the notion of upkeep.
Make it happy and don’t be afraid to keep it simple. If you only go for three plants try to make them different heights to add character and personality to your garden. Rocks, hardscape and paths are a great way to add depth to your garden without much maintenance. If sound is the sense that matters most to you consider getting smaller pebbles for your garden paths to make a pleasant crunching sound. Also consider getting wind chimes, but be careful that your neighbours don’t find them annoying! To avoid any auditory issues with people who are picky about sounds, you can’t go wrong with a water feature that has a small waterfall or fountain. If music matters a lot to you, consider bringing some wireless speakers into your garden (just be mindful of rain or snow!)

If you are making a therapy garden for someone with dementia, a path that winds in circles and returns to the starting point helps remove confusion and allows for more enjoyment of a safe space.

Seating can be a great idea if you want to sit and soak in your views of your therapy garden. But also it can be great for those with mobility issues. Having a seat with arms, backs and cushions can add a pop of colour and a great sense of comfort to your therapy garden.

If light matters to you in your garden and a fire is a bit too risky for you, there are plenty of battery operated fairy lights you can install throughout your garden. You can also install solar lamps along paths so that you can safely enjoy your garden at night.

Your garden should be your oasis. It should relax and unwind you and provide you that respite you desperately need from your daily grind. We hope these few tips will help encourage you that creating a therapy garden is easy to do and can add so much to your life and your property’s value!

5 Red Flags for Luxury REALTOR®s

July 18, 2018

As your business gains traction and you experience success with moderately priced real estate, it is natural to consider the higher end market. It seems very glamorous and exciting to do business with the top 1 percent of earners. However, different price points serve different needs, and the luxury market is almost by definition considerably more discerning. Here are five red flags that can send highly negative signals to your ideal clients.

  1. You are presented as a generalist. Luxury real estate deals are highly specialized; you do not want them to seem like an afterthought in your branding. Everything about your image, from your logo, social media, website, to your photography, needs to be designed with high-end customers in mind. You need to show that you are actively involved in their section of the market.

  2. You are visibly impatient when the process is lengthy. Living sale to sale simply is not sustainable. Luxury buyers are making a multimillion-dollar investment while also finding an ideal space to live, entertain - and quite possibly, work. A client’s search can easily span multiple months, and, in some cases, multiple years. Your clients will not tolerate being rushed into such a high consequence decision.

  3. You are not in tune with the needs of luxury buyers. If you come from low to moderate end markets, you may not even realize that you are not doing adequate homework. Do you know where the nearest golf course or riding stables is, and how much membership costs? Depending on your customer, this can be a top of mind item. Researching private schools, fitness clubs, upscale restaurants and services are all items that can be critical in showing preparedness. The ideal message to your client is: what is important for you, is important for me. As a practical tip, you can learn a great deal about what messaging to present your clients from other luxury brands on social media.

  4. You are not reassuring and calm in the face of volatility. Any real estate transaction is involved and emotional. Your client’s needs are very close to their vision of their future. It is important to have a firm grasp on how to manage your client’s expectations and emotions. If you show you respond only with stress and frustration when deals break down, you are failing to reassure your clients that you are a professional who puts their needs first. You should see every challenge as an opportunity to show your buyer that you are on their side.

And, last but not least, the most critical red flag for your success in the luxury market:

Your ideal clients never even hear of you. It is important to consistently be present at open houses and events where you can meet prospective clients - or those close to them. Network with bankers, accountants, and lawyers who might be in a position to recommend you to a high end client. While it is easy to put off highly discerning clients, a more likely fate is to never even be on their radar. Make networking a top priority.

 

Is Your Business Plan Up To Scratch?

July 11, 2018

For those burgeoning entrepreneurs looking to make it big and lead a successful life, it is important to note that ambition without guidance is akin to a wound-up spring with no direction to release its energy. If you want to live a certain lifestyle or achieve certain goals, you need to create a solid business plan that aligns your team toward a common set of goals. By creating a business plan and putting thoughts to paper you and your team can sit down and examine what is feasible in the plan and what needs tweaking. Once it has been adjusted to everyone’s liking, a strong business plan will attract the right clients and investors to make your dreams come true. At the end of the day, a business plan will not guarantee success, but it will boost your odds and create cohesion amongst your team and those are the key elements to a healthy and thriving business.



 

So, how do you go about creating an enticing and inspiring business plan?

 

Step One: Have A Goal

This may seem obvious to you, but it might not be to your team, your clients, or your investors. Sit down and come up with an actual goal you would like to achieve by a certain deadline. Are you looking to get an investment? A loan? You might have more than one goal in which case creating one just for your team and one for clients or investors will be necessary. Just make sure that you have a clear business need and goal for each of the plans you are creating.

 

Step Two: Make It Feasible

It’s all well and good to have ambitious goals, but if you can’t create a realistic plan the people who are reading your plan won’t take you or your business seriously. A business plan can be beautifully formatted and written, but all for naught without an achievable goal.

 

Step Three: Establish A Market Opportunity

In an effort to make your business plan viable you need to note down how large your target market is and how fast is it growing. Think about the opportunities and threats of your market and how you will deal with them. A great source of information to help you answer all these questions is by sizing up your competition and checking out how they answer these very questions. In researching your competition you will also get a better understanding of what the market already has and what it is lacking and how you can fill in those gaps in your profession so that you can get the most profit.

 

Step Four: Ensure It’s Specific

The more specific your plan, the easier it is to track its progress. This way you can find out if you and your team are behind schedule, if you can zoom ahead to certain stages. Examples of important details to include in your business plan that help achieve this is identifying responsibilities for implementation and assumptions. Knowing what needs to be done and what is only assumed can be done is critical when it comes to revising plans.

Remember that a business plan is not words carved into stone. It should be fluid and grow as your company grows. Prepare for bad weather and learn to fare through the storms and adjust your plan accordingly. As long as everyone is on the same team, you can accomplish anything!

Working on a Team is the Safest and Most Positive Thing You Can Do

July 4, 2018

When agents consider joining real estate teams they are usually thinking to do so for additional support in marketing and client services. However, one of the best reasons to join a real estate team is for the security it can provide. Here are just a few examples of why working on a team is one of the safest and best choices you can make for your real estate career.

Safety in Numbers

Working with a team can give you the added benefit of having a safety buffer. You can attending showings in pairs or co-list a home. Make sure that your team has this as an explicitly stated practice so that your team always knows where you are. Not only is it a great way to feel safe but it’s also an excellent way to hold fellow team members accountable.

Another great way to do this is to follow the REALTORS® Code of Ethics which dictates that teams must display the name of their parent brokerage prominently in advertisements. This reinforces your solid reputation, that you are less likely to work alone and this will frighten criminals who might not have thought before you had such strong resources at your fingertips.

A Big Team Has A Big Online Security Blanket

Working for yourself or in a small group might not provide the same firewall or antivirus protections when setting up websites and email addresses in the way that large agencies can. Regardless of the size of your team, make sure that your personal email has no place in your business. Your firm’s protected email address is the only one you should be using, as Gmail and Yahoo do not offer the same strong methods for protecting against harmful viruses.

Taking Initiative In Your Agency’s Safety Shows Promotion-Worthy Skills

Safety in a real estate agency shouldn’t just be talked about in REALTOR® Safety Month September. Step up your agency’s safety game by integrating the topic into team meetings and continuing education events. It could be an easier way to identify buyers or reporting emergency situations, but showing responsibility and forward thinking in all aspects of your company will get you noticed and help you stand out amongst your team.

A great start is to get everyone on your team to use a safety app such as Life 360 or Life Alarm Smart Alert (the latter being designed specifically with the real estate profession in mind). With this app your team members can track each other’s location in real time and send strong push notifications when one team member alerts danger so that the rest of the team can call law enforcement or emergency services immediately.

We tend to think of buying and selling homes as a great way to meet exciting clients and make great deals, but there is always a risk of criminal or dangerous behaviour. We hope these steps can set you on a safe and assuring path that working in a large team can provide you the security and steps to success both in the office and during client meetings!

How CRM is a Game Changer for your Business

June 27, 2018

If you store your client’s information in Microsoft Outlook or Excel you aren’t able to effectively share that data and you are missing out on opportunities to connect with your clients, anticipate their needs and make potential sales. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can fill in the gaps of your current client information storing system and grow your business in many ways. Here are just some of the ways that a CRM could change the way you do business.

A CRM Can Find The Right Customers

By connecting your email, social and marketing automation to a CRM platform your sales and marketing teams can have a complete view of leads and prospects so they can create and target communications into successful clients.

A CRM Can Help Establish Sustainable Relationships

Instead of shifting through notes and rolodexes, store all of your client’s goals, challenges and preferences in a CRM system so that whenever you speak to them it’s like you’ve never even skipped a beat. This way, no matter how big or small your business is, your clients will always feel as if you really know them and care about their needs.

A CRM Can Thread Data Across Your Sales Team

You may have more than one person on your team calling clients and potential clients. To avoid mix-ups a CRM can log when one of your team members calls a client and they can report how the conversation went. That way, when another team member picks up the phone to call the same client, they’re not repeating what the first client said or stepping on any toes. Whether its emails, phone calls or documents, a CRM can store all the documents you need about your clients so everything and everyone feels centralised and connected on your team.

A CRM Can Offer Your Clients Better Customer Service

This includes when your client opens an email – a CRM system can record that information and update everyone, everywhere instantly. Essentially, a CRM system frees up your teams process-heavy tasks which gives them more time to connect with clients. No more hunting for contact information or entering data which can be automated – a CRM system increase your team’s overall productivity full stop.

A CRM Can Improve Customer Retention

Now that you can thread your data and provide better customer service, your team has the time to proactively address at-risk clients and provide them the right opportunities at the right moment. By retaining more of your prospective clients, your profits can increase exponentially.

A CRM Can Analyze Performance and Forecast Reports

Retaining clients isn’t just by harnessing important client data in one repository and keeping tabs on it, it’s also monitoring the performance of your team members who interact with those clients. A CRM system can examine the performance of each of your individual team members by analysing how many deals they close and investigate where lost deals go wrong. Based on this information they can provide reports on how your company will perform in the future and how many deals your company are likely to close and when.

As you can see, a CRM doesn’t replace your team, it enhances the raw materials your team possesses and amplifies everyone’s productivity so that your company performs at its optimum level. There are many CRM systems out there to choose from and we hope you will consider them when looking to improve the overall efficiency and productivity of your company!

The Ins and Outs of Investing in a Winery

June 20, 2018

If you have clients with deep-pockets looking to invest in real estate, a successful vineyard could provide a big payoff. If you know and explain to your client the complexity of the deal, and give them a great deal of due diligence, they could wind up making the best investment they’ve ever made.

There will be important questions you ask your client before you even begin the process such as their previous experience in agribusiness, their capabilities of investment, the type of grapes or wine they want to grow or make etc. But knowing these answers is important as it will help understand whether the property they buy will make the wine onsite or whether they will just grow the grapes and sell them to be manufactured elsewhere.

Once you have a very thorough and clear understanding of your buyer’s intentions, you must channel those intentions with the location of the property. While location is important when purchasing a residential property, it is even more so important when it comes to purchasing a vineyard as the type of soil, air, wind and nutrients in the environment are paramount to the quality of crop you can grow. Being in an area near other professional winemakers can help create a strong network that will give you the mentoring and help you need during tough periods.

One of the most noted areas in Ontario for vineyards is the Niagara Escarpment / Niagara-on-the-Lake region. Looking around the area you can see that the vineyards vary in age from about a hundred years to only a few. And the new wineries are gaining acclaim in the leagues of the older ones so long as they are under the right care and supervision. For example, one of the newest wineries in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region to have won awards at the National Wine Awards 2016 is Two Sisters Winery. Other good wine regions that have gained high ranks in the National Wine Awards in the Ontario region are Hockley Hills (near Orangeville) and Westport (near Ottawa).

When showing winery properties to your client, be prepared to have the vineyard’s history and financial model. It’s important your client understands how costs differ from starting from scratch versus purchasing an existing vineyard. Because this process can be complex it is important to have every ounce of information at hand such as land reports, diseases in the plants, to legal claims and labour issues. Legal claims could be issues with titles for easements as well as securing proper insurance for extreme weather conditions such as fire and floods.

Once all of this is done and you and your client have come across a winery that has positive reports and ticks all of the boxes, you must sit down and understand how the return on investment works. Investing in a winery is a lifestyle investment, the success of which depends on the grape marketing plan. Look at the ratios of how much a vineyard costs per acre versus its recent sales range prices and see if any additional investment is needed and how much profit is left after.

At the end of the day, purchasing a vineyard can be worth all of the complexities that come with its purchase. So long as you regularly consult with knowledgeable experts and have current and detailed data appropriate to the specific vineyard and similar vineyards, your client should be prepared to embark on one of the more adventurous, artistic and extremely profitable investments they could make real-estate-wise.

Justifying Your Commission and Value To Your Clients

June 13, 2018

Regardless of the type of transaction a person is making, they will always look to get a good deal. When buying a house which is often the biggest purchase a person will make in their lives, they especially want to cut as many corners as possible. One of the corners many real estate clients try to cut is their agent’s commission. This is often because they view your commission as a jackpot pay check rather than a hard-earned income. Talking about your commission to your client shouldn’t be an awkward conversation, this is your chance to describe your value and your worth to them. Here are a few suggestions to demonstrate to your clients when trying to differentiate yourself from the competition.

 

The Number of Transactions You Have Completed in the Past Three Months

Experience and knowledge comes from the volume of transactions you process. The more transactions you have, the more you know about the market and how to help your client. Without this experience, a client is essentially allowing themselves to be a guinea pig on an agent who is finding their feet during one of the biggest purchases of their lives.

 

Testimonials From Previous Clients

It is a known fact that people buy people rather than product. Your website and your number of transactions can speak volumes to your professionalism, but if a previous clients writes a genuine, positive review of their own volition that holds great weight to a client who is unsure of which real estate agent to pick. Testimonials are a great way to show prospective clients that you are a reliable, trustworthy, and experienced professional in your industry.

 

You Know Where the System is Broken and how to get the Best Deal

Your client or prospective clients may think that based on their hours of google research they know which houses are available and they can look up articles on real estate agents, but they cannot appreciate how the business is essentially a closed, esoteric system. Your education gave you knowledge and access to knowledge that you have perfected through months and years of repetition. You can do most of the thinking for your client and can ensure the best deal possible for them that they might not have thought of. Google is no substitute for your knowledge and you have many tools at your disposal to show that to your prospective clients.

 

When you Make Money, Your Clients Benefit

Clients need to understand that when you make commission, part of that money goes back to them. It can be in the form of rewards for loyal customers, gas and meals when taking customers out to showings, as well as all the expenses you pay for advertisements, photography, signs, open houses, and listing fees. Your commission is an investment in your business as well as yourself.

 

At the end of the day you should never feel shy justifying your worth to your client. If you feel unsure, so will they. Through their weeks of google searching they might not have come to 

Regardless of the type of transaction a person is making, they will always look to get a good deal. When buying a house which is often the biggest purchase a person will make in their lives, they especially want to cut as many corners as possible. One of the corners many real estate clients try to cut is their agent’s commission. This is often because they view your commission as a jackpot pay check rather than a hard-earned income. Talking about your commission to your client shouldn’t be an awkward conversation, this is your chance to describe your value and your worth to them. Here are a few suggestions to demonstrate to your clients when trying to differentiate yourself from the competition.

 

The Number of Transactions You Have Completed in the Past Three Months

Experience and knowledge comes from the volume of transactions you process. The more transactions you have, the more you know about the market and how to help your client. Without this experience, a client is essentially allowing themselves to be a guinea pig on an agent who is finding their feet during one of the biggest purchases of their lives.

 

Testimonials From Previous Clients

It is a known fact that people buy people rather than product. Your website and your number of transactions can speak volumes to your professionalism, but if a previous clients writes a genuine, positive review of their own volition that holds great weight to a client who is unsure of which real estate agent to pick. Testimonials are a great way to show prospective clients that you are a reliable, trustworthy, and experienced professional in your industry.

 

You Know Where the System is Broken and how to get the Best Deal

Your client or prospective clients may think that based on their hours of google research they know which houses are available and they can look up articles on real estate agents, but they cannot appreciate how the business is essentially a closed, esoteric system. Your education gave you knowledge and access to knowledge that you have perfected through months and years of repetition. You can do most of the thinking for your client and can ensure the best deal possible for them that they might not have thought of. Google is no substitute for your knowledge and you have many tools at your disposal to show that to your prospective clients.

 

When you Make Money, Your Clients Benefit

Clients need to understand that when you make commission, part of that money goes back to them. It can be in the form of rewards for loyal customers, gas and meals when taking customers out to showings, as well as all the expenses you pay for advertisements, photography, signs, open houses, and listing fees. Your commission is an investment in your business as well as yourself.

 

At the end of the day you should never feel shy justifying your worth to your client. If you feel unsure, so will they. Through their weeks of google searching they might not have come to 

Regardless of the type of transaction a person is making, they will always look to get a good deal. When buying a house which is often the biggest purchase a person will make in their lives, they especially want to cut as many corners as possible. One of the corners many real estate clients try to cut is their agent’s commission. This is often because they view your commission as a jackpot pay check rather than a hard-earned income. Talking about your commission to your client shouldn’t be an awkward conversation, this is your chance to describe your value and your worth to them. Here are a few suggestions to demonstrate to your clients when trying to differentiate yourself from the competition.

 

The Number of Transactions You Have Completed in the Past Three Months

Experience and knowledge comes from the volume of transactions you process. The more transactions you have, the more you know about the market and how to help your client. Without this experience, a client is essentially allowing themselves to be a guinea pig on an agent who is finding their feet during one of the biggest purchases of their lives.

 

Testimonials From Previous Clients

It is a known fact that people buy people rather than product. Your website and your number of transactions can speak volumes to your professionalism, but if a previous clients writes a genuine, positive review of their own volition that holds great weight to a client who is unsure of which real estate agent to pick. Testimonials are a great way to show prospective clients that you are a reliable, trustworthy, and experienced professional in your industry.

 

You Know Where the System is Broken and how to get the Best Deal

Your client or prospective clients may think that based on their hours of google research they know which houses are available and they can look up articles on real estate agents, but they cannot appreciate how the business is essentially a closed, esoteric system. Your education gave you knowledge and access to knowledge that you have perfected through months and years of repetition. You can do most of the thinking for your client and can ensure the best deal possible for them that they might not have thought of. Google is no substitute for your knowledge and you have many tools at your disposal to show that to your prospective clients.

 

When you Make Money, Your Clients Benefit

Clients need to understand that when you make commission, part of that money goes back to them. It can be in the form of rewards for loyal customers, gas and meals when taking customers out to showings, as well as all the expenses you pay for advertisements, photography, signs, open houses, and listing fees. Your commission is an investment in your business as well as yourself.

 

At the end of the day you should never feel shy justifying your worth to your client. If you feel unsure, so will they. Through their weeks of google searching they might not have come tounderstand the true value of REALTOR®s, but now you should feel confident in being able to show them what you are worth! 

Are Your Websites EUGDPR Compliant?

June 6, 2018

On May 25, 2018, a European Union law governing data privacy took effect that potentially affect real estate brokerages and associations. At its simplest interpretation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) makes it a crime to collect data on any resident of an EU country without their express permission. It also requires businesses to delete information about EU residents if they request that information to be deleted.

It is important to remember that all companies are now digital companies and that data collection is no longer limited to Google or data brokers. There is no grace period according to the president of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, Trevor Hughes and he ushers us all to “expect regulators to be activists in policing the new rights.”

Although no formal guidance for compliance has been issued yet for Canadian companies by the GDPR’s advisory group (aka the Article 29 Working Party), the group has indicated that there is no plans or intentions to go after Canadian companies unless they target EU residents or have the bulk of their online traffic from Europe.

If you target EU residents be prepared to wholesale delete your customer mailing lists, and you will likely need to perform a basic audit on what data you hold, how it is used and who outside your company has access to it. The crux of this new regulation forces us to look at how all companies are collecting data.

If you want to ensure best practices are used on your website it is always good to ask for permission upfront before you collect data on people who visit your websites, but you needn’t worry about being severely or harshly affected by the EUGDPR. Other ways to stay on top of EUGDPR and be safe rather than sorry are to examine all the areas of your business where personal information is used and put in steps to clarify the legal basis for such usage. You can update your internal processes to support the key technology guiding principles, and you can have a training day for all associates so that they are fully aware of the EUGDPR.

In instances like these, it is easier to be proactive than not. While it is true that it is unlikely for EUGDPR to seriously affect brokerages across Canada, it will put customers’ minds at ease that you are a forward thinking business who truly cares about the privacy and well-being of their clients. It is also possible that the EUGDPR will inspire Canada and other countries to follow in the same footsteps and ensure data privacy for all.

For more information on the EUGDPR and how you can engage in best practices for your company please look at this site. The official website with every detail you could hope to look for can be found here. We wish you an easy and pleasant time in adjusting your websites so that they are in accordance with the new EUGDPR.

Are Your Communication Skills As Good As You Think?

May 30, 2018


We all think we’re good communicators, and we all understand why communication is important. We understand that if we properly convey and receive messages either in person or through other means we can be hired for jobs, land promotions and avoid conflict. Before walking into an interview or meeting a client for the first time, sit back and carefully think if you’re going to achieve all eight of these factors that are essential to being an amazing communicator. Check off the ones you think you’ve achieved and re-evaluate how you can improve on the ones you haven’t checked off.

1 – Listening

We all know what it’s like to be heard and not listened to. The best way to reach onto someone’s page is to give them what they want the most – to be actively listened to. So the next time you’re speaking to a co-worker or client put away anything that can distract your attention. When giving them your undivided attention, ask clarifying questions to ensure you are actually understanding what the person you are speaking to is saying. Refrain from interrupting as much as you can, and you’ll be on your way to being a great communicator.

2 – Non-Verbal Communication

Body language is a real thing and seriously affects how good of a listener you are. If you are slouching, looking away, rolling your eyes or crossing your arms you are sending non-verbal communication to your conversation partner that you are not interested in communicating with them. Providing a healthy, occasionally broken eye contact with a neutral tone of voice and facial expression will take you very far.

3 – Cohesion and Clarity

If you want someone to understand you, you need to understand yourself what you want to say and what you want out of a conversation. Rambling to someone until you get the point can lead to your conversation partner getting confused, or worse, uninterested. Think beforehand when speaking to a client or co-worker about what you want to say and what you hope to obtain as a result of your conversation.

4 – Friendliness

Being professional is often mistaken for being completely emotionless. In fact, the best way to be professional with others is to engage them with personalised messages. It needn’t be a saga or speaking to someone as if they were your best friend, but asking them how their weekend was, or wishing them well if they are sick demonstrates an emotional intelligence only the best of communicators possess.

5 – Confidence

When you have cohesion and clarity in your dialogue as well as friendliness you tend to emit a healthy confidence people gravitate to. This is very different from over-confidence where you are trying to compensate for a security you are lacking. People respond and feed off of firm but friendly tones – as long as you are still actively listening and demonstrating friendliness to your conversation partner you will be an excellent communicator.

6 – Respect

All of these factors intertwine heavily. In order to be an excellent communicator you must respect the person to whom you are speaking. This can be through active listening or demonstrating empathy. Your confidence will read as arrogance if you don’t show respect to your conversation partner.

7 – Feedback

To be a great communicator you must be able to give and receive feedback. Oftentimes we’re just good at giving feedback. Remember the vulnerable feeling you get when receiving feedback and make sure that your negative feedback is always constructive. It is also just as important to provide positive feedback as it is negative. If someone doesn’t receive recognition for their good work they can feel taken advantage of or neglected. Giving and receiving healthy positive and constructive feedback creates and maintain a motivated work atmosphere.

So how many did you tick off? Share this around your office and see what you’re doing well on and where you can improve. When everyone learns how to be better at communicating you will have a more efficient and happier workplace.

 

Now I Am A REALTOR® , What Next?

May 23, 2018

Congratulations on successfully completing your exam! You’ve worked incredibly hard to get to this point, but it’s not over yet. To get you started on your brand new career, here are six important steps you need to take immediately after becoming a REALTOR®.

Select A Broker: This should be a very careful decision you make because it can significantly outline your path to success. Interview a few brokers to see what each offers when it comes to compensation, knowledge, leadership and training. While it may be tempting to just focus on compensation, a high compensation does not necessarily mean you will get the best training or knowledge. Make sure they tick off every box in a way that makes you feel like you can really thrive under their tutelage.

Learn Neighbourhoods: Your broker may have a specific neighbourhood or you may want to start off with a very specific cache. Either way, do your homework. As a new agent, clients might be wary to work with you so you’ll need to overcompensate with a very thorough knowledge of an area to make you appear as an expert straight out of the gate. Research house styles, price points and amenities – if you think it could help you be a better agent, learn it!

Keep Learning! Whether it’s getting a real estate coach or listening to a bunch of podcasts, completing your exam should not be the end of your real estate education. Rather, it should only be the beginning. If real estate coaches don’t fit within your budget, try hunting online for top-producing agents and reach out to those who you feel have the personality or business model you want to emulate in your career. Give them a call, offer to host an open house or provide something else of value to show your interest and investment in the betterment of their career so that they’ll want to do the same for you.

Whether you have Android or Apple there are many podcasts for you to listen to on your commute to work or during meals that will help you be the best agent you can be. Try listening to Super Agents Live, Real Estate Rockstar, Real Estate Uncensored, or Master Mind Agent (note that Master Mind Agent is not free but it is very detailed and highly rated).

Get An Accountant: Do not wait for tax season when your files are already beyond messy and you feel overwhelmed at what could be deductible or not. Find an accountant now before you get very busy so that when you do get busy you have nothing to worry about. They aren’t as expensive as you think, and it will save you so much more than money in the long run.

Create A Website: While you probably already know you need to make a website, you might not realise that if you want a website that generates leads, you’ll need to own your website rather than have an agent page on your broker’s website. WordPress, Placester or Websitebox are great website building engines that can help you bolster your online strategy. The earlier you start the bigger your search engine optimization advantages are. Search engines like 

Google reward and favour older websites so the longer you’re up and running with a website, the better the chances are that clients can find you online.

While not all of these options are free, a serious real estate agent will invest in their future both financially and with time. We hope these next steps provide you a road map of your immediate future and wish you the best of success in your new career!

How To Make Your Productive Lifestyle A Healthy One

May 16, 2018

We all aspire to be the very best at our jobs. Yet, going above and beyond at work can often mean going above and beyond typical work hours. Without realising it, you may end up having to sacrifice your personal life. “I’ll have a social life when I have time for it” is an oft-heard phrase amongst go-getters in the workforce. But putting all your eggs in one basket is the exact opposite of leading a productive lifestyle. In order to be the most efficient and productive version of yourself you need to allow yourself time to unwind and rest. It may sound counter-productive but the better rested you are the more able you are to perform at work. It’s one less chip that will hinder your capabilities on top of an already challenging position you hold. While the balance might not be achieved overnight, here are some genuinely useful and tangible suggestions to turn your productive lifestyle into a healthy one.

Get A Second Cell Phone

If you’re truly of the mind-set to divide work and play, the best way to do this is by having a separate phone. It need not be the fanciest phone with all the bells and whistles, it can be a really affordable unlocked one from Amazon. The point is, at 9 pm after a long day’s work and your favourite show is about to come on or you’re finally going to see your friends for the first time in forever, being inundated by work messages and emails is the worst case scenario. Having a second cell phone allows you to turn off physically and mentally from work from evening until morning, putting you in control of when and how you will be available for your team after hours.

Make Time For Exercise

We all know exercise is so good for our physical and mental well-being, yet most of us could all improve the number of hours we spend being active. Whether it’s an hour before work or helping you to unwind, getting out all that pent up energy will help you sleep better and stand out amongst the crowd at work. You don’t need to start with P90x, but get in the gym, or start taking walks every day. Setting aside even 30 minutes a day for physical exercise will show a notable difference in your concentration levels at work.

Schedule Downtime

If your work life is organised, why isn’t your home life? Knowing what’s ahead of you, whether it’s meetings or conference calls, helps you plan out your day. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it will help ease your mind at home as well. If you set aside Thursday evening from 6pm – 10 pm to catch up with friends or on a hobby, you can plan your week around knowing you have that downtime. Take it as seriously as your work schedule and don’t neglect it! While it may be great to spontaneously give yourself spare time, it’s not a consistent or healthy way to live, as you’ll end up feeling stressed, wondering when will you ever have time to yourself.

Be In The Moment
This is important for both work and play. When you’re at work, don’t daydream about what’s on TV tonight or what’s for sale at the mall. Focus and devote yourself to your task. This way you’ll be able to fully engage with your team and get the most out of your project. The same mentality applies to your downtime. If you are very serious at work, you should be equally at home. If you get annoyed at people who are on their phones during work meetings, why is it okay for you to be checking your work messages on your own downtime? Pick one task at a time and allow yourself to fully immerse in it. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but you will be amazed at the rejuvenation you will feel.

We understand that life doesn’t always allow for you to balance your goals the way you want them to be. But if you’re going to be the best version of yourself that means you have to put yourself first. Take your work life as seriously as your home life, and you will feel that sense of fulfilment and happiness that you are seeking.

Design Trends To Look Out For This Spring

May 9, 2018

As the beloved Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada once said, “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.” This article is not here to tell you about fluffy ideas that everyone expects or no one will do because it’s too expensive or too fussy. No, this article is here to tell you that there are some amazing functional yet gorgeous trends that not only will you notice in 2018 amongst the hottest houses, but that you could actually incorporate into your own.

Closet Renovations

Let’s get real for a quick second. Chances are, there’s not enough space in your closet and there hasn’t been for a while. There are clothes you forgot you had, and shoes buried in between scarves and hats because spring literally came to Canada overnight. There is dirty laundry scattered everywhere, and you have nowhere to sit down and it’s just easier to avoid the room altogether. Renovate. Your. Closet. If you don’t have the means to turn a guest bedroom or spare room and go all out, sit down and look at your bedroom and your closet. Look at what you use most. Do you use a lot of bags and satchels? Create a changing station for your handbag. Imagine a place that has all of your pens, paper and electronics that you can easily swap in and out of your bags. You are an on-the-go professional. Sometimes your big tote bag, briefcase or backpack will not work into the night and it can be an actual nightmare to take everything out of one bag and put it into another. Create a changing station and have extra supplies and your stress vanishes as quickly as your summer weight-loss goals should be.

But it shouldn’t start and end at your bag changing station. If you appreciate how easy it is to find things in your favourite store, you’ll understand how important space is. Sure the first time you unpacked your wardrobe into your closet everything fit, but it might have only just fit. Display things in an easy to view way with space in between so it’s less daunting to you, and minimises the eventuality of a clothing mountain. Not only will you feel more relaxed and at ease in your closet, but you’ll also be the envy of everyone on Instagram.

Wallpaper
Do you have time to paint? I don’t have time to paint. I want something I can slap on that makes my room like it came off of one of those awesome home renovation shows. For those of you who remember wallpaper being in every grandma’s home, let me tell you that wallpaper styles have entered the 21
st century in an awe-inducing way. If you can think of print you can turn it into wallpaper. There are small boutique wallpaper companies, there are places where you can digitally print your ideas, there are literally a hundred options out there that can burst life into your room in a way that paint never could. There aren’t just beautiful prints to choose from, if you want a beautiful solid colour with sophistication there are textural wallpaper options such as silk, grasscloth, even vinyls that will make your room be the one that everyone remembers.

Cerused Wood Finishes
Everyone has wood in their home. It could be a table, a desk, a chair, a bookshelf, even a cabinet door. It’s also likely that the wood furniture you’ve had in your home you’ve had for a while because wood is a beautiful and durable material to make furniture. However, what was in style ten years ago (aka sleek elegant lacquer) can either fade with time, or fade with your new fashion interests. I am here to tell you your wood can easily be revived with a finish that will look like it just came out of a magazine. Cerusing your wood reveals its natural grain and uses a white pigment to fill in and emphasise those unique grain lines. It’s a technique that is centuries old and strips back your over-manufactured wood furniture into an organic and natural look that is also incredibly modern. Make it a simple touch on your sofa legs or redo your whole kitchen for a dramatic look. Either way, I promise you, you’ll love the look in your home.

Spring felt like it would never come. April’s flurries scared away any hopes for rain showers, so now that May’s sunshine has rolled around the corner I appreciate all you want to do is enjoy that sunshine in your spare time. I do too. But after a long and wonderful day in the sun, and you return to your home, it could be that your home is still stuck in winter. Why not try one of these quick and easy design changes that will significantly and positively impact your life?

Helpful New Technology for REALTORS®

May 2, 2018

When thinking about technology in relation to the real estate profession, there is far more than just the lockboxes and cell phones agents use. But out of all the gadgets and all the apps available to the real estate profession, which ones actually improve your ability to be an amazing real estate agent? Here are some hardware and software suggestions to put you a notch above the rest of your competition.

Virtual Reality Showcases

While many REALTORS® use YouTube and other similar video streaming websites to showcases homes they are listing, it’s often the case that a video can’t provide the same atmosphere and appreciation of the entire home the way being in person could. If your clients are scrambled for time but are in your company, consider having a VR pair of goggles or two for your clients with videos you’ve made specifically for the most immersive piece of technology to date. Clients can tangibly appreciate the home without leaving your office now, making it easier for sellers to live in their home while it is on the market.

Facebook Live Open Houses

The magic behind open houses is that for one day only, many buyers can come in throughout a large window and appreciate a home for its true potential. Yet it’s very easy for potential homebuyers to be busy that day. Or worse yet, people who would like to come to an open house but are not able to due to business or their own residence being too far too appreciate it. With Facebook Live, come rain or shine, sickness or health, anyone who wants to take a tour of the house without actually going to the house can! Best of all, you can connect with more potential clients by growing your Facebook brand.

E-Signatures

Mailing and driving documents to clients consumes a lot of time for a REALTOR®. Why not instead collect your legally binding signatures remotely? HelloSign offers a free version of this service for signing 3 documents. Docusign lets you send an unlimited amount of documents with your own branding on the documents for just $20 a month. If your budget is very important to you, there are also free versions such as importing your signature into Preview on Mac or Adobe Reader on PC so you can sign documents.

Yesware Email Marketing Optimization

Building your business, it can be difficult to determine how your emails are being perceived. Yesware goes beyond basic email tracking (even though it’s hard not to mention it lets you track 100 emails a month for free). Now you can find out whether readers have clicked on a link you send, get notifications for messages that have been opened but not replied to, and provide a link that constantly tracks your availability and only sends those times to your clients seeking appointments.

Curb Call Home Viewing App

Think of it like Uber for home viewings. As a REALTOR® you select when you’re available and which homes you’re available to show, if a buyer wants to see something near you right away, you’ll receive a notification. The app is incredibly safe as your brokerage will always know where you are and you can always hit the big red “panic” button if you ever feel unsafe. This will notify your broker and your emergency contact immediately.

Virtual Staging Solutions

Some potential homebuyers really struggle with seeing blank canvas homes. Instead of paying a lot of money for a stager to stage your home, using Virtual Staging Solutions your empty house for sale will not be virtually filled with couches, tables, chairs and other tasteful décor that will appeal to homebuyers.

As you can see, there’s a different piece of technology for almost every facet of a REALTOR®’s life. Whether you want to improve the home viewing experience, or the time-consuming end processes of a sale, there are many things at your disposal that can make you shine.

Tips for Generating and Maintaining Real Estate Leads

April 25, 2018

Real estate is a people business - networking and meeting people is the name of the game. In order for a REALTOR® to succeed, they always need to be generating leads and making conversions. So what is a lead?

A lead is simply the name and contact information of a potential client. Some may argue that in order for a contact to be a lead, the person has to express interest in your business. Although it's fantastic to hear someone say they need a REALTOR® right now – it's not usually the case. Just because a lead isn't expressing interest right away, doesn't mean that they aren't a viable lead.

So you have a name and email, what now?

Get Organized. Post-it notes and a dry-erase board just won't cut it. Having a proper, scalable, organized software or system in place is crucial. You should be putting leads into a database with as much information as possible and updating any time the lead is touched or if changes occur. Organize contacts by lifecycle state. Are they a lead, a prospect, opportunity, or client? It's important to know where each contact is in your sales funnel.

Record Data. You may not have a lot of information on someone but you can record when they became a lead (and how) and the measures you've taken to reach out to them. Any other information you have should be included as well (if they're looking to buy, sell, if they have a family, what they're looking for, etc.).

Don't get Discouraged. In any business, it can be easy to get discouraged when a lead doesn't respond right away. But just because it's not happening now – doesn't mean that it won't happen. It's important to remember that it takes time for people to co-ordinate their desire to buy/sell with their ability to do so. That being said, not all leads are created equal – spend your time and energy wisely.

Spend More Time Nurturing. You spend a lot of time, energy, and money generating leads – don't forget to nurture them! Put the same amount of thought, time, energy (and yes, even money) into setting up a lead nurturing process. Some experts believe that when it comes to leads, REALTORS® should spend 20 per cent of their time generating and 80 per cent nurturing. You aren't selling a $15 product – you're asking to be the person people turn to when making the biggest transaction of their life. The more time you spend providing resources, asking questions, and checking up – the better your chances are of making the sale.

Remember that nurturing leads can in turn help you generate leads. Think about it – if a person is not ready to buy or sell but they like what they see from you, they may recommend you to their family or friends.

 

Facebook is Great for Leads. Having an active Facebook page and interacting on Facebook is a great way to generate leads. You can assume that almost 100 per cent of Facebook accounts are tied to a person and even with private profiles, you get to learn something about them. At the very least, you have a way to contact them. You can easily get to know people on a level that just isn't possible with typical email sign-ins.

Any time you get someone's information, upload it into your database right away and use your nurturing system to keep in touch until they're ready to reach out. Having non-responsive leads can be discouraging but your persistence and hard word will pay off.

How to use Original Content as a REALTOR® to Attract Clients at Every Stage

April 18, 2018

Consumers tend to be more positive about a brand after they consume content from it.

As a REALTOR® it is important to be seen as a source of information and helpful resources at every stage of the buying or selling process. To attract clients, it is helpful to create and share content that appeals to readers in every stage. You're not only writing for the people that are first getting to know you, you are writing for those that are ready to buy or sell.

Create content that speaks to prospects in every stage - the right information at the right time can help turn potential clients into lifelong customers:

First Stage: Awareness

In this stage, a prospective client is just becoming aware of their need to buy or sell their house and they begin to search for options. They are starting to research solutions (this is when you want them to become of aware of your services).

Since most real estate searches start online, it's important that you are easy to find and that you provide information that is useful and interesting to a wide audience. Create content that appeals to prospects in this initial stage:

  • Write informative articles about general topics like: the buying and selling process, what to expect when working with a REALTOR®, how to decide what kind of home to look for, etc.

  • Use high-quality images and videos to showcase properties that you have sold or that are currently for sale.

  • Go one step further and provide first-time visitors with your own roadmaps to success. Create handouts and worksheets that walk them through the homebuying or selling process or something more specific like helping them identify the perfect neighbourhood for them.

  • Include a page on your website with answers to frequently asked questions. This provides value and gives readers the confidence to ask more detailed questions (since they will now know more about the basics).

  • Content in the awareness stage should discuss buyer/seller pain points, challenges, and opportunities.

Second Stage: Consideration

The prospective client is now considering different options for their needs. They begin to search for competent agents that will be able to assist them. Your goal is to provide content that helps persuade them to use your services:

 

  • Include customer testimonials in written or video form – this gives prospects an idea of what they can expect from working with you.

  • Provide no-nonsense fact sheets about your business that include the number of properties you've sold or the number of clients you've worked with.

  • Provide facts about the market in general. Include buying and selling trends, average prices, and 

  • the time properties spend on the market and general facts about the neighbourhoods you specialize in.

  • Creating webinars or video tutorials allows you to further demonstrate the process of buying and selling and gives visitors a glimpse into your personal style and the way you do business.

  • During this stage, content can serve as a touch point and a way to reach back to someone who is aware of your services but who hasn't taken the opportunity to reach out yet. If someone signed up for your email newsletter but you haven't heard from them, send them an email with a fact sheet as a way of following up without being too pushy.

    Third Stage: Decision Making Time

    The prospective client is choosing between different agents and brokerages – they're weighing the pros and cons of their options. Since the prospect is ready to hire an agent, this is your opportunity to give a final push. The goal during this stage is to show why you're better than your competition and instill confidence in your services - you want your clients to walk away feeling like they've made the right choice:

  • Write personalized articles. This is where blogging pays. Once you feel a potential client is ready to make their decision, take content that you've previously written (for the awareness stage) and send it to them with personalized touches and updated data. These changes should speak directly to their needs and circumstances. For example, if it's a family with two small children who is looking to buy in Liberty Village, and you've written a 'Best Toronto Schools' post, personalize it specifically for Liberty Village with a focus on Kindergarten programs.

  • Create checklists that showcase each step of their particular buying or selling process. This will show that you completely understand their needs.

  • At this stage you want to build trust and ensure that they feel confident when they make their hiring decision. Use content to keep in touch. Tailoring content specifically for them will give you a competitive edge and set you apart from the rest.

  • Send news about recently bought or sold properties that are similar to theirs. Be sure to highlight quick sales or offers received above asking price.

  • Keep an organized collection of properties that they might like in their neighbourhood of interest to show how dedicated you are to finding them their perfect home.

Start Blogging! Get More Traffic to your Real Estate Website

April 11, 2018

According to the National Association of REALTORS® Real Estate in a Digital Age 2017 Report, only 16 per cent of agents said they had real estate blogs. This means that those who create high-quality consistent content are more likely to show up in online searches!

One of the best ways to drive traffic to your website is to publish regular, up to date, relevant content. Your website content can include original blog posts, articles, infographics, research, podcasts, videos, photos, eBooks, newsletters, and anything that you feel would be of interest to your client base. Sharing original and interesting content provides value to your site visitors and identifies you as a knowledgeable leader in the industry.

When you actively post, it shows your clients that you are involved in the industry beyond the home buying and selling process. Creating content that readers want to share and that are of interest to others increases your chances of getting discovered, exponentially.

Here are some tips on scheduling, organizing, and creating relevant, consistent content for your real estate website:

Decide how often you want to post and stick with it. If you are going to have a blog, it's important to be consistent. Even if you only plan on posting once a month – follow through. There is nothing worse than clicking the blog link on someone's website only to see that the last time they posted was over a year ago. This gives visitors the idea that your website isn't maintained and can reflect badly on you as REALTOR® and how they perceive that you handle your business.

Plan out your posts - create a spreadsheet. Use Google Sheets or Excel to create a schedule a month at a time. Your schedule should include the author, topic, status of article (started, draft, completed), and any notes on the subject. This keeps you organized and gives you a visual of what your month will look like and will allow you to go in and make updates as you work on your content.

Consider seasonal themes and trends. By creating a calendar you are able to see the year as a whole and take inspiration from the season, holidays, or specific events that are happening during that time in your local area. Each season is an opportunity to discuss seasonal maintenance and the beginning of the year is a good time to talk about goals and tax tips. Holidays are an opportunity to talk about decor, home entertaining, winter safety, etc. Between seasonal themes and industry trends, you have at least one article topic created for you each month!

Write down your ideas as they come to you. As a REALTOR®, you have a ton of options to write about for your blog. Create a sheet in your calendar specifically for your ideas. You might think you'll remember that brilliant idea about showcasing local cafes, but it can slip your mind in a matter of minutes – write it down! Generally, your site visitors will expect to read about the local area, selling and buying tips, and general tips about the housing market. Article topics can also include maintenance, decor tips, news, and other topics that you specialize in.

Start filling out your calendar. It might seem daunting to have to fill out a month's worth of content - but you have to start somewhere. Create a calendar and start playing with different themes and ideas. Create a schedule for when you want to post. Start off by posting once or twice a month and switch to once or twice a week once you start getting more traffic to your website. Before you know it, you'll feel comfortable in your role as content creator!

Be original, be consistent, and show your potential clients that you know what you're doing! Do you regularly read certain blogs? What sets these blogs apart from others and how do they keep you interested?

New REALTOR®? Kick-Start your Career with These Tips

April 4, 2018

As a new REALTOR® you are taking on a brand new career, a new uncharted path that can be hard to navigate. How can you be sure you are making the right decisions? Where do you begin? Help advocate for yourself and get a quicker start to your career with these tips:

1. Find the Right Brokerage for You

One of the most important steps you will take when beginning your career is finding the best team to join. The team you enter into will determine the kind of support, training, and mentorship you will receive:

Speak with team members. When looking into a brokerage, speak with the team leaders and other members. Ask them how many deals they've closed in the past year. You'll get insight into whether you'll be busy and productive. A team with low sales volume may not be generating enough business to keep you occupied. Conversely, if they are busy, find out if they have support staff who help handle incoming leads, schedule appointments, or perform other routine tasks.

Negotiate your contract. Getting a brokerage to accept you might be easy, but not all will have the same offerings. Find out the following:

  • How much of your commission will the broker keep?

  • Will you get training?

  • Will you get lead generation support?

  • What are the company's growth goals

Be upfront about your expectations and what you're looking for in a brokerage and don't be afraid to make negotiations – don't settle until you are satisfied with an arrangement.

2. Get Yourself out There.

With so much that needs to get done, it can be hard to know where to begin. One of the most important things you will be doing as a new REALTOR® is getting your name out there and deciding what kind of business you want to run.

Make real estate your priority. Even if your goal is to do this part-time, it's important to start off by putting as much time and energy into it as possible. Take every opportunity you get to network and get your brand out there. When you talk to people, let them know what you do: shameless self-promotion is the name of the game!

Have a plan and set a schedule. Create a schedule that works for you allowing you to allot yourself personal time, lead generation activities, meetings, and anything else in your business plan. Identify your goals and create a routine that will facilitate success!

Brace yourself for failures. Not all deals will go through; not all clients will find their dream home - it's a part of the business. Bouncing back from failure is the secret to your survival, embrace your successes and stay focused on the good.

3. Start Making Money as Soon as Possible

Be proactive and start doing the activities that will ensure you'll be making money as soon as possible. Remember that while you are transitioning into your new career you could be going a few weeks or even months without a paycheque – get the ball rolling as soon as you can:

Avoid time-wasting clients. Ask the right questions to pin-point whether a potential client is motivated or what their motives are for reaching out to you. It's important to nurture leads and offer helpful advice whenever you can, but it's also important to focus your energy on the clients that are the most motivated. If they are side-stepping questions or are unwilling to take steps like consulting with a lender about getting pre-approved, they might be just be looking to find information for other purposes or to test the market.

Remember that working smart is more important than working hard. When you're starting out you might be tempted to try a dozen different strategies, but what strategy is the most effective? Make a plan and focus on what will make you money- should you be canvassing door to door, or perhaps calling on expired listings, instead? Do your research and identify what the most effective strategies have been in the past – remember to pay attention to the situation and use tactics that work best in the market you are dealing with.

Look for 'brushed' leads. Brushed leads are prospective clients who are likely ready to buy or sell. You can identify these prospects by looking for buyers who already have pre-approval letters from the bank or sellers who have recently invested in home repairs – these are signs that they have taken steps to prepare for a transaction. Unbrushed leads are important too, but they are more of a gamble and these people may be noncommittal about buying or selling. It is important to secure a few quick closings early in your career so that you can start making money and earning referrals.

Ready to start your new and exciting career? See what we have to offer.

The Emotional Side of Real Estate: 8 Ways to Better Understand and Support your Clients

March 28, 2018

Buying or selling a home is often the biggest transaction someone will enter into in their lives. As a result, these experiences can be fraught with emotion, but these emotions aren’t always easy to understand. As a REALTOR®, it is expected that you will put your emotions aside so you can put your client’s emotions and desires first. But when their emotions run high, it’s only natural that yours might as well. Here are eight healthy and helpful ways to discuss emotions with your clients to maintain a solid working relationship:

Disappointment: Teaching your clients about the market will help them better deal with unsuccessful offers or a lack of multiple offers on a property. Help them find a price that they won’t regret offering the next day and reassure them that if their best offer isn’t good enough, there are plenty of other options available to them.

Sympathy: This is an important emotion to wield in front of your clients. Even if you have prepared them for tough situations, some clients can get very down on themselves for not being successful in the sale or purchase of a home. Taking time to sit down and acknowledge your clients’ feelings and letting them know that their feelings are valid can provide a great source of comfort to them. It will also give them the much needed encouragement to keep going when they might want to stop house hunting or trying to sell their home.

Apprehension: This is an emotion that is more common amongst homebuyers rather than sellers. These clients can be unsure about a variety of things: how long their commute should be, how much work they should put into the home, the neighbourhood, etc. Instead of letting your clients slowly overwhelm themselves out of buying a house, sit down with them, and step by step explain what each will mean to their future lives and determine what’s most important for them.

Anxiety: Having a house picture-perfect for people to stop by at a moment’s notice for viewings can be very tough when sellers have big families, small children and/or pets. Helping your clients through this process by offering them a list of cleaning services or temporary care of little ones can help ease their minds.

Panic: It can sometimes be easy to forget or overlook the sheer panic a family may have when they have sold their home but haven’t found a replacement yet. They may be worried about not having the time or money to find the perfect new home. Preparing your clients ahead of time and providing them a course of action can easily help alleviate these natural fears.

Anger: There can be many reasons why clients experience anger. They may be having financial hardships, problems at work, personal problems, etc. Checking in emotionally with your clients to make sure that anger isn’t directed at you and that it is most likely a form of fear or panic can help you arrive on the same page together. Everyone has rough times, buying and selling a home doesn’t have to be a part of that.

Empathy: This is the best tool you can use for working with your clients. Getting to really know them as if you were helping a friend will make you go the extra mile in your work - your clients will truly appreciate it. They will be a lot happier to work with you and will be more likely to recommend you to their friends and family. What you put into your work in real estate, you truly get out.

Accomplishment: Some clients are very goal-oriented and can get easily hung up when these goals aren’t easily achieved. Providing them easy and manageable tasks that they can handle day by day will help them from stressing about not selling their house fast enough, or not finding the perfect house to move into. These tasks can be getting pre-approved for a mortgage, finding a stager, etc. Give them small tasks one at a time that fit within their hectic schedules and go at their pace.

Emotions can easily flare up when you least expect it – and that’s okay! Just remember to take deep breaths, keep a calm and professional demeanour and plan for success. Have an action plan for the challenges that may come ahead and don’t be afraid to sit back and try to analyze why a situation panned out the way it did. You might just have an easy solution for it!

5 Ways to use Facebook as a REALTOR® in 2018

March 21, 2018

You've probably been using Facebook for a number of years now and whether you love it or hate it, you'll probably agree that it's necessary for business (especially a business based on connections).

As a REALTOR® you most likely already have a Facebook business Page, and you've probably already noticed that it's harder and harder to get engagement and reach. In fact, right now posts from business Pages reach only about 5 % of their intended audience. As frustrating as it may be, there are ways to work with Facebook and get the most out of the ever-changing platform.

Here are a few tips to ensure that your followers will see what you want them to see:

1. Upload videos directly to Facebook. Facebook is competing against YouTube. Videos that are directly uploaded on to their platform see a “Reach bump” over videos uploaded through YouTube. Facebook's algorithms are constantly changing, in 2016 Facebook-native videos saw a 1000% higher average share rate over YouTube videos.

What videos should you share? Here are a few ideas:

 

  • Create an honest FAQ video. Share common misconceptions, answer questions you think people might be too shy to ask; offer advice and guidance.

  • Show people that you are a local expert. Create a video exploring your favourite neighbourhood. Showcase the schools, businesses, parks and beautiful homes in the area.

  • Do you specialize in helping people downsize? Are you an income property expert? Showcase your specialties by making informative how-to videos that provide value for your followers.

  • Interview professionals in the community - speak with a trusted home inspector, contractor, stager, etc., to offer helpful advice and show off your network.

2. Use Facebook Live. Facebook especially loves live video. Since Facebook wants to compete with Snapchat and YouTube Live (and other live video platforms), they reward live videos more than any other content type. See for yourself – post a Facebook Live video once a week along with your regular posts and compare the engagement and reach. Your live video will most likely have significantly more activity than anything else you post.

As a REALTOR®, you have plenty of opportunities to do live video:

 

  • Do a walkthrough of a home you're selling (answering questions about the property as you go). This is great to do the morning of an open house because you can invite people to come out and meet you.

  • Offer a sneak peek of your exclusive showing before it goes up for sale – show the photographers shooting photos or the stagers adding final touches. This will build anticipation for a future listing.

  • Share behind the scenes footage showing how to stage a home, any challenges and obstacles you're dealing with and the process of setting up for an open house (hey, there are dozens of hit shows about it – people love seeing it!)

  • Share a bit of yourself. Don't forget about personal branding, give people a reason to like and 

  • remember you. Record yourself while you are with your kids or while regular life is happening – it humanizes you and makes you relatable.

  • 3. Show your personality. People use Facebook to connect and find information, if you want to engage with them, show off your personality and be social. Don't be afraid to use humour - if you're able to both entertain and inform, you'll get the shares, comments, and likes that you're after.

    4. Ask questions. An easy way to engage is to simply ask questions. Include posts where you ask for your followers to weigh in on something or ask for recommendations or opinions. Questions can drive interaction up by 10 – 20 per cent. Create posts that facilitate discussion.

    5. Promote your posts, but do so sparingly. Facebook's algorithm has made it harder than ever to have a high organic reach so promotions are often necessary for a business. Put out high quality content and promote only the posts that are time-sensitive or especially important.

    Facebook loves video and original content – curate posts that inform, delight, and entertain. You never know who could become your next client!

     

8 Ways to Improve your Time Management Skills

March 14, 2018

Have you ever wondered why it seems like some people have all the time in the world to do things while others are constantly rushing to get things done? While we may have different work loads, it is much more likely that some of us just use our time more effectively than others.

 

Time management is not a difficult concept, but it's surprisingly hard to do in practice. Here are 8 tips to improve your time management skills today:

 

1. Prioritize your work. Before you start your day, make a list of all the tasks that require your immediate attention. Prioritize these tasks and focus on the ones that are most important to you. You may want to make three lists: work, home, and personal. Keep in mind how much time and energy each task requires.

 

2. Learn to schedule tasks appropriately. Scheduling affects your day, your week, your month, as well as other people and their projects. Most people have specific times in the day when they feel the most or least energetic and become more productive when they schedule themselves accordingly.

 

3. Set Goals and Deadlines. With any task, set a realistic deadline and do your best to stick to it. Challenge yourself to meet deadlines even if there is no reward for doing so. Getting into the habit of completing tasks in a timely manner will help you work through stressful situations in the future.

 

4. Be Self-Aware. No two people work the same way. We all have our own preferences, needs and things that motivate us. Our preferences can affect our work – take the time to observe how and when you do your best work. Any time you perform to a very high standard, take time to identify what happened that allowed you to perform so well. Just as importantly, when you perform poorly, identify what happened to encourage your poor performance. Get to know yourself and tailor your schedule, work environment, and routine to fit your own style.

 

5. Take Breaks. Too much stress takes a toll on the body and affects productivity. Ensure you take breaks through out your day. Whether you go out to a restaurant for lunch, or simply take five minutes for fresh air, a break will help you stay energized and focused. Don't forget to take time off work every once in a while to spend quality time with friends and family, as well.

 

6. Stay Focused. Regardless of what you are trying to do, there will always be something else competing for your attention. Dispel the myth of multitasking – working on one thing at a time is the best way to achieve focus. You can only work on one task at any given moment. Rather than trying to get everything done at once, identify the most important task and block all others out. Remember, focus is the ability to identify the most important task (that you're able to complete at the time) and the ability to block everything else out in order to complete it.

 

7. Delegate tasks. Let's face it, we often put way too much on our plates. This can result in us feeling stressed and burned out. Sometimes we just have to share the load. Delegation is not giving up or running

away from your responsibilities – it is an important function of management. Prioritize your tasks and decide if there's something you can get help with.

 

8. Learn to say no. It's okay to refuse work when you feel like you have too much going on. Politely refuse to accept additional tasks if you feel you are already overloaded with work. Take a look at your 'to do' list before agreeing to take on extra work. Having too much to do will not only stress you out but could potentially affect the quality of your work.

 

Do you have amazing time-management skills? How do you stay organized and focused?

 

 

8 Positive Habits that Make you More Likeable

March 7, 2018

There is a common misconception that people are just naturally likeable - that it comes from innate, unteachable traits. In reality being likeable is under your control and it comes right down to your emotional intelligence!

 

A study in LA had participants rate 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability – can you guess which adjectives were rated the highest? No it wasn't 'gorgeous', 'intelligent', or 'outgoing' (innate qualities). Instead, the top words were 'sincerity', 'transparency', and 'understanding'. These adjectives actually describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence.

 

Research shows that those that possess these skills aren't just really likeable – they also outperform those who don't (possess these skills) by a large margin!

 

So what does it mean to be emotionally intelligent, and how can you learn the behaviours that make you more likeable? Here are 8 things you can start doing today:

 

1. Ask More Questions

Sometimes, we're not the best listeners. Even when we think we're listening, we're often thinking about what we are going to say next or how what the person is saying is going to affect us. When we do this, we fail to hear what's being said. A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. This forces you to actually take in what the other person is saying and get clarification to better understand them. People like to know you're listening and you'll be surprised by how much respect and appreciation you'll gain just by asking simple questions.

 

2. Be Genuine

Being genuine and honest is a key factor to being likeable. People want to be around genuine people because they know they can trust them. It's hard to like someone if they are hard to read and you are unsure how they really feel. Likeable people know who they are and they are comfortable enough in their own skin. Concentrate on what drives you and what makes you happy. By being yourself you become a much more interesting individual. Do what feels right for you, not what you think will make others happy.

 

3. Be Open-Minded

If you want people to like you – you shouldn't pass too much judgment. When you are open-minded, you are approachable and understanding. No one wants to have a conversation with someone when they feel like the person has already formed an opinion. You don't need to believe or condone what someone is doing, but you should wait to pass judgment until you truly understand the situation and the person you are talking with. Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace – approachability means being able to access new ideas and receive help.

 

4. Be Consistent

When people approach you, they like to know how you're going to react. To be consistent, you must be reliable. Ensure that when your mood changes, that it doesn't affect how you treat other people.

 

5. Smile More

People subconsciously mirror the body language of the person they are speaking with. If you want people to like you, smile at them during your conversation and they will return the favour without even knowing it (and feel good as a result).

 

6. Use Touch

When you touch someone during a conversation, you release oxytocin in their brain (a neurotransmitter that makes their brain associate you with trust and other positive feelings). A simple touch on the shoulder, a hug, or friendly handshake is all it takes. Remember, not all people like to be touched, nor is it always appropriate to use touch. Use your good judgment.

 

7. Greet People by Name

Our names are a key part of our identity, it feels good to hear someone speak our name. Research shows that people feel validated when someone refers to them by name during a conversation. Have a hard time remembering names? When introducing yourself to somebody, make eye contact and take notice of their eye colour. Taking that extra second to notice something about them helps you to attach their name to something concrete and increases your chances of remembering it. Saying their name back to them helps with memory, as well.

 

8. Look for shared interests – When it comes to building rapport with someone, look for ways to establish common ground through shared hobbies and interests.

 

Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to look at the people we admire and take note of their positive habits. Think about the people you work with, who would you consider to be likeable? What do they do that sets them apart from the rest?

7 Instagram Tips for REALTORS

February 28, 2018


With over 700 million users pressing the 'like' button on posts about 4.2 billion times per day- Instagram is a social media powerhouse. It's also a great tool for REALTOR®s. Instagram is user-friendly and mainly accessed on mobile devices – making it great for sharing content and interacting with people. With the proper use of Instagram you can increase views, strengthen branding and create conversations. Here are 7 tips to make Instagram work for you and gain the followers and engagement you need: 

1. Share Videos 
Instagram is no longer just about photos - video now accounts for a large percentage of posts. Attention spans are on the decline and we love nothing more than to scroll through and watch entertaining 15-60 second videos on our feeds. Share interesting videos! Do property tours, interviews, DIY tutorials, neighbourhood walks – anything that you think would be of interest to your target audience. Don't have the time to edit a video last minute? Use Flipagram to create short videos with music using your photos or video clips. 

2. Pay Attention to the Insights
Speaking of audience, who is following you on Instagram? Take time to analyze what the Insights are telling you. What is your current Instagram demographic, and why? Is your Instagram audience the same as your target market? Why are some of your posts getting more engagement than others? Take note of what has been working for you and what hasn't and change things based on what people are responding to. 

3. Go 'Behind the Scenes'
Hey, guess what? Real estate is exciting and interesting to people! Think about how many reality tv shows there are about the industry. Between house flipping, home renos and shows about first-time homebuyers – real estate shows account for a good chunk of reality TV air time. Take advantage of this interest by giving people a peek into the life of a REALTOR®. Share videos of you walking through a desirable neighbourhood, post reactions of first-time buyers finding their perfect home and share the renovation process for a house you're flipping. Share posts that showcase who you are and the great work you do. 

4. Simply Take Great Photos
When it comes down to it, quality reigns supreme. Think about how many posts you scroll through in the span of a single minute. Your photos should be colourful, sharp, eye-catching and designed for storytelling. Be honest with yourself – if you're not a good photographer, hire someone that is!

5. Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories offer a variety of engagement opportunities, including the new Poll feature. Instagram's algorithm takes into account all engagement types – so if you post a poll, and you have 100 people weigh in, your posts are more likely to show up in someone's feed. Using live video is also a great tool because your video is automatically bumped up in the Stories feed. Share your day to day activities in your stories and let your audience get to know you! 

6. Post During Active Hours
To increase your chances of engagement, schedule posts when your followers are the most active. Not sure when this is? This post breaks it down. Your business Instagram account will also show you which days and times have the most engagement for you. 

7. Incorporate Instagram Ads
If you have a time-sensitive post about a property you've just listed, or perhaps a contest you're running, Instagram ads are the way to go. Ads ensure that your post will be seen when you want it to be seen. Instagram ads now offer a variety of goals and targeting options. This post explains how they work and how to make the best use of them. 

Instagram is a fantastic tool for REALTOR®s, and if it's done right – it can help generate leads and build your personal brand. Do you use Instagram? What tips do you have? 

8 Ways to be a Better Leader in the Workplace

February 21, 2018

Do you consider yourself to be a leader in your workplace? What leadership qualities do you possess, and did they come naturally to you?

 

Some of us are more adept at leadership than others, but as with all skills, there are ways to improve on this. Here are 8 ways to become a better leader, today:

 

1. Only make promises you can keep. If you say you're going to do something – do it. Leadership is about trust. Be mindful of the promises you make and ensure you can actually do what you set out to do. It's better to under-promise and over-deliver than to give people high hopes and leave them with disappointment.

 

2. It's about collaboration, not power. Leadership comes with power and responsibility. The best leaders use their role to collaborate with others. Position yourself in such a way that you have the time and energy to support the success of those around you. Be humble and share the credit for the things that happen as a team. Business is about people – the people you work with are your most valuable asset.

 

3. Be a good role model. If you hold a certain standard for your employees, make sure you are meeting this standard, yourself. Respect cannot be demanded, it is something that is earned over time. Lead by doing. Share your expertise, support people, and ensure you are mindful of the things you say and do – people are watching.

 

4. Demonstrate accountability. Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results. Take responsibility for your own actions and others will follow suit. Follow through and admit when you make a mistake.

 

5. Pass on the baton. True leaders nurture and mentor others on their team. This means sometimes allowing others to lead. When you allow others to take the lead, you give them a chance to showcase their skills and talent and inspire them to do their best. Don't interfere unless it is absolutely necessary. Empower people by taking their ideas to the next level and giving positive feedback.

 

6. Keep learning. Business is competitive- a great leader is always one step ahead. Learning, growth, and responding to challenges are key. Lead by example and reward others for their accomplishments and desire to learn. Find a mentor and seek advice – always be improving.

 

7. Know your strengths and your limitations. Know what you don't know - be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and find ways to manage them. If there's something you are not good at, get support, acquire the knowledge you need, or simply get someone else to do it. Managing your weaknesses is important, but focusing on your strengths is crucial. Know what you're good at and make use of your natural talents.

 

8. Be accessible and available. Demonstrate good communication skills. Let your team know that they can talk to you. Be approachable, open-minded, and give them your full undivided attention. Connect and spend time with your team on a regular basis – the closer you are with your team, the more valued they will feel.


What makes you a great leader?

The Future of the Office: How Workspaces will look in Ten Years

February 14, 2018

The surge in technological advancements and the boom of the start-up company has undeniably created one of the biggest shake-ups the office has ever seen. Today, we are already seeing massive changes like app-controlled meeting rooms, the use of 3D printers, and the implementation of tall, standing desks in many offices. But what will offices look like in ten years’ time?

 

The Physical Workspace

In the early 2000s we saw a huge rush towards open plan offices which were believed to encourage collaborative work and a more relaxed environment. This was to counter the antiquated and isolated feel many loathed of the 80s style cubicle formation of an office. Today we have learned that it is incredibly important to have hybrid workspaces that have both private and open spaces.

 

The future: Hybrid workspaces will be a combination of enclosed and open workspaces available for users on an as-needed basis. These buildings will be lighter, brighter, and substantially more environmentally friendly than their predecessors. Imagine unassigned workspaces, privacy rooms, focus booths, open project spaces, lounges and dens. Establishing an environment that is welcoming towards both the client and the employee and that constantly fosters a productive mindset.

 

The Remote Workspace

It is predicted that up to 50% of the workforce will work from home in the next 10 years. Employees will have more flexibility and freedom to work from remote locations and have less incentive to go into the office. This makes it that much more important to reimagine the physical office to entice employees to use the space for work. Alternatively, some companies won’t have a physical space at all but purely have remote workers to better service their customer base.

 

The Virtual Workspace

Whether employees are working from home, or a newly-redesigned office, one thing remains the same - they’re probably on a computer. The virtual workspace will get the biggest infrastructure redevelopment in the next ten years. When you work with people from all over the world, how can you develop the same office culture and work relationships as you do with the people sitting next to you at the lunch table? Emphasis will be put on reinventing a virtual space and culture that supports successful team building and personal growth. Offices in the future will also have collaborative robots in the virtual workspace and we need to imagine carefully how they will integrate into the office’s ecosystem in a way that is healthy and ultimately productive.

 

The future of the office will look radically different from most people’s idea of an office today. What changes do you hope to see? What are your predictions?

4 Tips for an Attainable Work-Life Balance

February 7, 2018

Work-life balance: the mythical aspiration we all dream to have. When most of us work well over 50 hours a week we have no time to unwind which inevitably hurts our relationships, health and overall happiness. While the perfect balance is difficult to strike as it differs from person to person, these four tips will help guide you to find out what your optimal work-life balance is:

 

1. Drop Your Perfectionism

Compared to the workplace, being a perfectionist in school was relatively easy. All you had to do was separate your time between school, hobbies, and maybe an after-school job. But the adult world unfortunately is significantly more complicated with ever growing responsibilities. Being a perfectionist in the working world can destroy your mental health, so always make sure you’re doing your best, and striving for excellence rather than perfection.

 

2. Unplug

The advancement of technology has undoubtedly improved the lives of everyone on the planet. We can talk to anyone wherever we want, and research things with a simple click. But those very tools can also be our biggest detriment. For your own health, force yourself to divide your work life from your home life. When you are at your kid’s soccer game, or at family dinner, don’t just turn off your phone - keep it at a distance. Those emails can wait an hour, or longer. It will be incredibly difficult to start at first, but your habit of resilience will develop over time and will make you feel like you have greater control over your happiness.

 

3. Exercise and Meditate

If you can remember to eat and sleep and go to the bathroom every day, you can remember to exercise. Exercise and meditation sound like wonderful superfluous activities to many, but it is one of the best stress reducers available to you. Don’t let it be one of the first things you drop once your schedule gets busy. You can always slot in 5 to 10 minute breathing exercise a few days a week. Find something you can easily integrate in your life – that’s the key to making it stick.

 

4. Break Your Routine

You may not have realized, but your routine might have gotten too much for you. What seemed easy before work can become a lot harder to maintain with a full time job with crazy hours. Cooking yourself dinner every day after work most likely will take a lot energy out of you. Create a meal plan, or if you live with others take turns cooking dinner. But more importantly, when creating your new before and after work routine, focus on the activities that mean the most to you – delegate or outsource everything else.

In order to successfully alter your work-life balance your transition must be gradual. Don’t be afraid that you’re not changing as much as you want overnight because those changes won’t stick. Make sure everything you do has been carefully thought through and easy enough to integrate and maintain in your lifestyle. Day by day, things will get better

Why Improving Company Culture is an Important Leadership Skill

January 31, 2018

We all know that being a good leader doesn’t just mean churning out lots of results and revenue – there are things that are not found on a performance review that establish what makes a good leader great. One of these not-easily-quantified things is a leader’s ability to create and maintain a thriving culture in the office.

 

It’s easy to discredit the word “culture” as simply a buzzword and altogether unimportant in the face of strategy and execution when trying to build a successful company. But we’ve all experienced a team falling apart, and we all appreciate the importance of a good team: that all comes down to culture. Here are five things all good leaders do to take care of their work’s culture.

 

Consider Your Work’s Culture
This may sound silly, but reducing the concept of culture in the workforce as something that is unnecessary or soft is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a workforce leader. Having a culture will help you differentiate yourself from your competition and create a familial personality employees and clients can flock to.

 

Understand what is at the Centre of Your Work’s Culture

Did you know that the word culture has Latin origins? “Cultus” meant “to grow”? When trying to ensure the best culture for your company, realize that it’s not just creating buzzwords that form a personality – it’s about tending to and helping your team on every rung of the ladder. Go beyond giving your team a ping-pong table that’s purely filling up an empty room. Understand what your team needs to help them achieve their goals and grow.

 

Measure Culture
Employees get performance reviews each year - company culture should be reviewed as well. By measuring culture on a yearly basis you’ll be able to notice which implementations worked, and which ones need tweaking. You won’t know how to improve without having a base line, so make sure you take it as seriously as you do those performance reviews!

 

Don’t Reward People Solely On Performance

This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s not. You will always want to reward a top salesperson, but they may actually be the worst team player in your office. A good leader will make sure that profits as well as work ethics and professionalism are rewarded. Look toward people who are living out the core values of the company’s culture the best and make sure they understand their work does not go unnoticed. They may not individually provide the most for the team, but their personality helps fuel and improve everyone else’s output.
 

Follow Through

A huge part of building and maintaining any solid culture in a company is following through. We all know the bitter resentment that comes with being promised something at work and not getting it. No matter the size of your promise, not living up to your words will crush your culture and create a negative environment where the output will rapidly decline.

 

In order to be successful in today’s competitive world, a solid and uplifting culture can set you apart from most competitors and maintain employee satisfaction and retention. How do you improve the culture in your workplace?

8 Ways a Good Employee can become an Exceptional One

January 24, 2018

It’s easy to spot a good employee at the office: they’re hardworking, a great team-member, they’re dependable and proactive and do quality work. But these buzzwords that can often be found on performance reviews can be a bit hard to qualify. Here are eight ways you can shine and get the notice you deserve:

 

1. Always Go Above and Beyond. We’ve all thought or said to ourselves, “this isn’t in my job description” for one reason or another. But going beyond your job description, thinking on your feet and adapting to quickly shifting priorities is exactly what will help you stand out amongst the crowd and sparkle in your office. Don’t be afraid to take that leap!

 

2. Be an Individual. It’s commonly known that when you go to work you have to be your professional self – and often people think that your professional self is different from who you are. Don’t sacrifice your quirks! Different personalities can not only make work more fun but they can help bring new ideas to the table and challenge the status quo.

 

3. Read the Room. Being an individual is great and can definitely make you a leader in the workforce, but in stressful situations being an individual can cause more friction than solutions. Though it’s a tough balance to strike, always try to be aware and considerate so that you know when to dazzle your eccentric personality and when to fit seamlessly into the team.

 

4. Praise Publicly! You love being told by your boss you did a good job – fun fact: so does everyone else! That praise can brighten your whole day so why not do the same to your peers? Speaking up and acknowledging the contributions of others doesn’t impact on your job performance. It means you’re a great team player, you’re able to recognize good work, and you create and maintain a happy, sustainable work environment. There’s literally no downside here.

 

5. Disagree Privately. We understand; sometimes in a meeting tensions can flare and you just want to speak up and bring an issue forward. But the best way to avoid tension is to bring up an issue before or after a meeting so that your disagreement isn’t the main feature of the meeting and everyone’s office talk of the day.

 

6. Speak Up! We’ve all been there before: it may have been a classroom, it may have been a meeting – nobody knows what’s going on and everyone’s too afraid to ask questions. Being an exceptional employee means taking one for the team and asking those questions you might be afraid to ask. This also comes from reading the room where you’re in tune with the environment and can innately feel when to step up and ask questions or raise important issues.

 

7. Drive and Motivation. A good employee is driven to do well at their job simply because they want to do good work. That won’t be enough to get you through the toughest of situations in the office, unfortunately. If you want to be the best of the best you have to have something deeper and more personal – maybe even something to prove. It could be that you are lacking a certain qualification but you know you can do the job just as well, if not, better than those who do possess it. Look inside yourself and see what gets you going every day. Hold onto that and let it be your fuel. 

 

8. Aim for Better. Say your boss hands you a project and sets you a list of steps they want you to follow. A good employee, driven just to do a good job follows the list to the letter. Great employees who have a bit more courage will add a tweak or two. But exceptional employees? They can’t help themselves – they’ll find ways to reinvent processes without expectation. This is part of always going above and beyond – don’t just improve for the sake of improvement. Your individuality can help you look at a situation differently and help your company.

 

At the end of the day, it’s important to be reminded that you were hired by your company because they saw qualities in you that made you stand out from dozens, if not hundreds of other candidates. You have it in you to also stand out amongst the cream of the crop. Hopefully you can add a few of these tips into your toolkit so you can get that promotion, reach that goal, or create the most cohesive team. You can do it!

What are the Costs of Selling a Home? What to Expect When You are Ready to Sell

January 18, 2018

Every home is different and unless you've gone and built your dream home yourself – odds are that there are things you wish you could change. Not everyone is lucky enough to have 12-foot ceilings and 500 square foot rooms, but there are ways to trick the eyes into thinking things are bigger (and better) than they are. Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of your spaces:

 

1. Rooms feel small? Add height to a space:

 

  • Focus on the ceiling – paint the ceiling a matte white and remove crown molding to add height. Alternatively, use wallpaper or paint designs on the ceiling to draw eyes upwards.
  • Large mirrors – large mirrors add scale to a room. Anything that allows the eyes to move upwards (vertical lines, tall mirrors, patterned ceilings) will add to the perception of height.

 

2. Things feel cramped? Make a room appear larger:

 

  • Paint your space bright colours – make a small space appear larger with bright walls and light flooring.
  • Position furniture away from walls – when everything is against the wall, a room can appear cramped. Pull furniture away from the wall at least a few inches.
  • Decorate with larger accent pieces – small decorative pieces can crowd a room, instead find slightly larger pieces and display them in threes. One well-known designer refers to the 'cantaloupe' rule. If a decor piece is smaller than a cantaloupe – it will clutter your space.
  • Use vertical lines - just as vertical lines help increase height on walls, vertical lines on floors or carpets will help to lengthen a room.
  • Utilize mirrors and windows – Keep windows uncovered and strategically place mirrors to create depth and a feeling of spaciousness.

 

3. Don't have an entryway? Fake it:

  •  
  • Create a 'landing strip' – Customize a small shelf, desk, or table to throw keys, mails, gloves, hats, etc. on. This will help to organize clutter and keep things from getting lost.
  • Use paint or pattern – Even if there is no structural division between the space in front of the door and the rest of your home, you can set it apart visually by using paint or pattern on the floor, wall, or ceiling.
  • Enclose the space – You don't need to build a wall, give the entryway an enclosed feel by placing a leafy plant next to the door, using a furniture piece as a divider to guide traffic, or just something that will create a visual cue that this area is set apart from the rest.
  • Low furniture – Trick the eyes and fake height by utilizing low seating and tables paired with strong vertical lines. The lower everything is to the ground, the taller the room will appear.

 

4. Use the 'little walls' in your home: (Little walls are the slender walls, usually two or three feet wide, that are the transition space between two rooms)

  •  
  • Create a message center: If you have a little wall near the kitchen or entryway, create a message center with dry-erase or chalkboard, calendar, and a place to talk on grocery lists or bills.
  • Make a seating area: A slender wall can be utilized by placing a small chair or bench against it. This can be an extra spot to put on your shoes, take a phone call or simply an attractive way to store an extra chair for when you have company over.
  • Do an accent wall – Small walls are easier to decorate and give you an extra opportunity to display more of the things you love. Paint the wall your favourite colour, create a small gallery or use an eccentric wall paper to add interest.
  • Use for storage – These walls can be made functional by adding shelves, creating built-in book cases, or installing hooks. Every bit of storage counts!

 

With a bit of creativity and design know-how, any space can be made brilliant!

6 Ways to Be the Best REALTOR® for Your Homebuyers

January 10, 2018

Buying a home, especially for the first time, is no easy task. A homebuyer is embarking on one of the biggest purchases of their life – and it's you they're counting on. Here are 6 ways to go above and beyond and be the best REALTOR® for your homebuyers:

 

1. Know Your Client’s Potential Neighbourhood(s) Well: While your client will usually do their own research, it’s up to you to be their knight in shining armour. Go through a thorough interview with your client and see what they really want from their home and from their neighbourhood. That way you can look up the best schools, restaurants, transit connections that suit your client’s needs that can be as important as the property itself!

 

2. Negotiate the Home’s Contract: Nothing about a home contract needs to be standard – read it over carefully with your client and see if there are any changes they can benefit from. The best REALTORS® negotiate price as well as the little things that can make a big difference for their clients. Sometimes, even something as simple as getting a seller to throw in the patio furniture is what will set you apart.

 

3. Be Helpful with Home Inspections: Just like REALTORS®, some home inspectors are better than others. In addition to having a great lender and broker in your pocketbook of professionals, throw in the best home inspectors for the areas you sell homes. Between you and your home inspector, you’ll be able to advise your clients whether they need to look for mould, water, lead paint or other tests they might not have thought of. And most importantly, don’t forget to tag along on the home inspection! It will give your clients an extra boost of security and confidence when it comes to buying the home. At the very least, know what goes on in a home inspection - it will give you serious leverage when negotiating the contract and the price for your client!

 

4. Stay in the Loop with the Seller’s Agent and your Client’s Attorney: The key to any solid relationship is communication. Keeping updated means your client can always be in the know. As a REALTOR®, you’re the best qualified person to measure the importance of information – you’ll know who needs to know certain bulletins and when to keep the ball rolling.

 

5. Monitor Your Client’s Loan Commitment: Mortgage mistakes, especially among first-time homebuyers, are all too common. Making sure your clients understand their current credit status and that they need to maintain it is a prudent move as a realtor: it shows you care while protecting your client. It’s all too easy for your client’s financial situation to change so make sure they tell you if they’re making any substantial changes like buying a car or taking a loan. Helping your client getting approved is important, but an outstanding buyer’s agent will help their client protect their approval.
 

6. Stick With your Client Through to the End: As an amazing REALTOR® you’ve held your client’s hand from the beginning when they didn’t know where to look or how much they could afford, through to the negotiation period and helped them to get the best price on their new home. Congratulations! But the cherry on the cake is making sure all the loose ends are tied together so that the closing goes through without a hitch. Standing by your client’s side throughout the entirety of the closing process to provide support and advice will help you stand out and ensure that they would refer you to their family and friends.

 

In this current market, it’s natural for buyers to have high expectations of their agent. They’re about to embark on the biggest purchase of their lives and you’re going to help them achieve that. By doing the above things you can create a great and lasting relationship with your client. Happy new year!

4 High-Tech Home Trends to Watch For in 2018

December 28, 2017

The New Year is just around the corner, here's a look at the home technology and decor trends that will influence the way we see our homes in 2018:

 

1. Robots in the House. It sounds futuristic, but robots have been a part of our homes for years. They may not be the kind of robots we imagined as kids, but they're still powerful machines with ever-expanding capabilities. Our lifestyles are busier than ever- it's no wonder that technologies that allow us to clean, organize and entertain with a touch of a button are here to stay. Here are two 'robots' that will be a favourite in 2018:

 

Smart Vacuums – although the Roomba has been around for quite a few years, robot vacuums and mops are more sophisticated than ever before. The latest models are WiFi enabled and have app controls. Certain models can also mop and sweep - perfect for cleaning up pet messes while you're away from home. You have full control over where the machine cleans, and the best part is - it returns to its charging station after the job is done!

 

Home Assistants – Google Home and Amazon's Echo are examples of smart home assistants. With Google Home you can play music, do quick calculations, translate words, set alarms, check your calendar, control smart home gadgets, order an Uber, and even get information on nearby restaurants and businesses. With the popularization of smart-everything (phones, televisions, thermostats, appliances, etc.), it's no surprise that home 'assistants' are becoming a house staple.

 

2. Smart Glass – The future of windows. Everyone wants a home with a lot of natural light, right? The problem with having a lot of windows is that you end up having higher energy costs and need to invest in window coverings to ensure privacy and UV protection. A new solution is arriving for homes in 2018 - the future of windows lies in smart-tinting glass. Halio is a smart-tinting glass that tints to shades of neutral gray to deliver sun-blocking, anti-glare protection, and privacy. It looks like ordinary glass but it incorporates the latest technology that can be programmed, as well as used on-demand. This all-in-one window solution might serve as a niche product for now, but as technologies advance and more competitors come in, there is no doubt that it will be seen in many homes, everywhere, in the years to come.

 

3. Attractive Kitchens that are Practical and Versatile. Modern kitchens continue to be number one on the list of 'wants' for homebuyers. In 2018, emphasis will be put on dark colours, customization and convenience. People are on the look-out for counter space for prep, antimicrobial surfaces like quartzite and copper, modern appliances and flooring that's easy on the feet. Comfort plays a huge role – kitchens are being outfitted with height-adjustable counters and easy-to-clean surfaces. More high-tech than ever, here are some kitchen technologies we'll see in 2018: A Dialog Oven that cooks with radio waves, and “listens” to the food it cooks, a microwave that can also “blast chill” food and Bosch Vario Style appliances that allow you to swap out colourful panels to match your kitchen and home.

 

4. Black is the new...black. Grey palettes have taken over for quite some time but a more high-contrast

look is making its comeback. After years of off-whites, grays, and beiges, it's time to go a little bolder. In 2018 we'll see sleek black tones in appliances, plumbing fixtures, metal finishes, lighting, and hardware. Black is classic, neutral and sophisticated and is a welcome addition to almost any palette. If you aren't ready to paint your walls black quite yet, try out the trend by painting a door or trim, instead. Incorporating black accents can help make a home appear more modern. Many tech companies and appliance-makers are following suit by offering sleek black finishes in 2018.

 

Where do you think the future of home technologies and decor trends will take us next year? Any of this year's trends you'll be happy to see go? Let us know!

7 Selling Tips to Make you a Sales Superstar

December 20, 2017

Look at a top seller on any team, in any industry – you will probably notice they share a few distinct traits. Amongst having confidence, good people skills, and a lot of energy – they probably also spend a decent amount of time learning.

 

Luckily, selling is not a gift, but rather a skill that can be developed – here are 7 selling tips that will help you become a sales superstar:

 

1. Be informed. Learn everything there is to know about what you are selling – your knowledge adds value to your service. Go to workshops, listen to audiobooks, and find the motivation and information you need to get you to the top.

 

2. Don't fear rejection. Rejection is, unfortunately, a part of any sales job. Not everyone is going to be interested in what you're selling – and that's okay. The key is to remember that sales are a numbers game. Some people are going to say no. Actually, a lot of people are going to say no, but with enough determination, you'll find your YES soon enough.

 

3. Always have prospects. Work on getting as many prospects as you can. The more people you interact with the more likely you are to make a sale. When someone says NO, you say NEXT (maybe not out loud in front of them, but you get the idea). Don't dwell on the NOs, keep your eyes on the prize. Get lead generation help or invest in some online tools if need be – your sales funnel should always be full.

 

4. Get referrals. After closing each sale, get referrals from your clients. It might be a good idea to offer a referral incentive. Check in with your clients periodically – send them holiday cards, birthday wishes, promotional information – the more you connect with them, the easier it will be for you to stay top of mind.

 

5. Show enthusiasm. You don't choose your passion, your passion chooses you. Show potential clients what makes you passionate. Prepare yourself for every meeting and call. Take pride in your appearance – present yourself as successful and important. The more energy and enthusiasm you have, the more confident they will be that you are the right person for the job.

 

6. Know what problems you're solving. Think of yourself as a consultant, rather than a sales person. You are offering something that benefits people; you are solving a problem. A person who is offering grocery delivery isn't just selling a service – they're relieving people's stress and helping them manage their time. Alternatively, someone who is selling pet insurance is offering more than just that; they're offering peace of mind, stress-relief and protection for a beloved family member. Think about what it is that you offer. Put yourself in the position of your clients – what is it that they're struggling with?

 

7. Learn to close. Novels have been written about the art of closing a sale, there is so much to learn! Here are a few points to keep in mind:
 

  • Always present a proposal in writing
  • Communicate clearly and confidently
  • Make eye contact
  • Be prepared with a pen and any necessary documents
  • Keep the mood light and positive. People are more likely to make decisions when they are less serious.
  • Don't be afraid to circle back and reposition negotiations. Ask one more time.
  • Treat everyone as if they are the buyer. They might not be the decision-maker or they may not have the budget, but they have the potential of turning into a buyer.
  • Always smile. Smile while you negotiate, smile while you argue, smile while you close. Successful people are always smiling.

 

What makes you a sales superstar?

 

 

5 Tips to being Happier at Work Today

December 13, 2017

Winter is here and that means shorter days and colder nights, for some it also means having less energy and feeling a little more low than usual. It's important to remind ourselves of the impact of positivity - when we're happy, we're productive and engaging. Feeling happy in the workplace is important too, it ensures we do better work. Here are 5 tips on how to be a little bit happier at work today:

 

1. Smile more. The act of smiling can benefit your health and happiness! When you smile you release neuropeptides – neuropeptides work to relieve stress. Smiling also helps to release dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – these relax your body and lower your heart rate and blood pressure. If that wasn't enough – flashing your pearly-whites also makes you appear more attractive. Studies found that when you smile, people treat you differently – you're viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere. Smiling is also contagious – lift the mood of everyone in your office by coming into work with a big smile on!

 

2. Get cozy in your space. We spend a lot of time at work – make your office your own. You may have limitations on how much you can personalize - work within the realms of what is acceptable. Tailor your space with personalized items and any creature comforts that make you feel good. Buy a quality chair, hang a plant over your desk, and put up that photo that always makes you laugh!

 

3. Make a friend. Friendships in the workplace contribute to the creation of a support system, comradery and loyalty. Those who have friends at work perceive their job to be more fun, enjoyable and satisfying. Refer friends that you know you'd work well with and make the effort to form friendships with the people around you. Why not ask your coworkers to go out for lunch or a coffee? You may have more in common than you think.

 

4. Take that break. Everybody needs some breathing space – without taking time between tasks, we can feel overwhelmed in the face of constant demand. When we don't take a moment to recharge we can lose out on creativity, competency and cheerfulness. Short breaks between tasks will keep you happier. A vacation or weekend trip doesn't hurt, either!

 

5. Do meaningful work. Whether you are setting out to cure a disease or simply make someone's day brighter, doing something meaningful is important. When there is a positive impact to our work, it makes us feel good. When we feel as though our work is meaningful, we are happier and more productive. Remember that your work doesn't have to be monumental to have meaning. As long as what you are doing is aligned with your long term plans and goals - you'll feel satisfied!

 

Are you smiling yet? What do you do at work that makes you happy?

 
 

What's for lunch? Planning your Lunch ahead of time can help you Increase Productivity

November 29, 2017

 

We've all heard the analogy that food is fuel, but if that was the case our performance wouldn't be affected by the type of food we eat. Consider when you pump your gas - you aren't typically too concerned about which gas station you're pumping at – as long as it's the grade of fuel your car needs.

 

What if every gas station's fuel gave you different results? Perhaps at one you could go 45 km further on one tank, at another you couldn't go faster than 100 km an hour – would you take more care in choosing a gas station, then? This might be a silly example but it's how we should think about our food (the way we fuel our bodies). Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance.

 

The types of foods we eat (and when we eat them) can affect our mood and energy levels – a poor decision at lunch can derail your whole day:

 

Don't wait until 11:45 to plan for your 12:00 lunch. Think about when you make lunch/eating choices. Is it in the middle of the day when you are already hungry and tired? You are at your lowest point of energy, which means you're also at your lowest point of self-control. We typically go for what is fast and cheap, which unfortunately is usually pretty unhealthy. We know what's good for us, and what isn't, it's just harder to make the right decisions when we're hungry.

 

It's easier to plan to eat healthy, than to make the choice when you're hungry. When we plan healthy meals we tend to stick with them more than if we were to try and make healthy choices while we're hungry. It's easier to resist unhealthy food in the future than it is to resist them in the present.

 

It's hard to concentrate on an empty stomach. Just about everything we eat is converted by our bodies into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we're running low on glucose we have trouble staying focused. Foods like pastas, bread, cereal, and soda release glucose quickly – so you feel energized almost immediately, but crash shortly after. High-fat foods like cheeseburgers or BLTs provide more sustained energy but reduce oxygen levels and end up making you feel groggier because your digestive system needs to work harder. Eating healthier foods throughout the day allows for a more steady glucose intake.

 

The British Journal of Health Psychology found evidence that eating more fruits and vegetables may be linked to increased levels of curiosity and creativity. The study found that young participants that ate more fruits and vegetables felt more creative, more engaged, and reported feeling happier than those that ate less fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that foster the production of dopamine -helping to improve memory and enhance mood.

 

So what can you do to ensure you eat healthy and stay productive during your work day? Every Monday, bring a variety of fruit and vegetables to store in the work fridge for the week. Grab different fruits and vegetables throughout your day and have an assortment of protein bars and almonds at your desk within sight. Spikes and drops in blood sugar are bad for productivity - eating small nutritious snacks throughout the day will help to make sure you don't crash in the middle of an important meeting or call.

Snacking will also help to ensure you're not starving by lunch time – you'll make smarter eating choices when you're not super hungry.

 

We know what's good for us and what isn't - make things easier on yourself by planning the food you eat ahead of time.

Sit down and Exercise: Easy Ways to Exercise while at Work

November 22, 2017

We spend so much of our time sitting; our modern lives allow us to spend most of our time sitting down. Think about your day: you sleep for around 7 hours, sit in you car (or on the bus, train, etc.) to get to work, then you sit at your desk for at least part of your day. You sit to drive, sit to eat, sit to have meetings, etc. All the sitting in your day adds up. Here are a few ways to introduce physical activity into your day...even if you're stuck sitting!

 

First of all, if you need to sit – make sure you are sitting properly. Ensure that your desk chair is the right height. Your feet should be able to be flat on the floor and your knees and hips at a 90 – degree angle. Keep your lower back pressed against the chair to maintain good posture. Avoid forward head posture – make sure one-third of your monitor is above eye level.

 

Stretch at your Desk. Before doing any physical activity, it's important to stretch. Even if you plan on sitting all day – stretching will help improve blood flow and help to prevent aches and pains.

 

1. Neck Stretch.

Sit up straight and drop your right ear to your right shoulder for a few seconds, do the same for the left side. Repeat a few times.

Turn your head to the left and look over your shoulder for a few seconds, do the same on the right.

Drop your chin down to your chest and gently roll your head from left to right.