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The importance of good photos when selling your home
Posted on Thu, 11 Jan 2018, 03:15:00 PM  in Home selling tips

rephotos

What attracts more showings, increases online views and helps homes sell faster and for more money? Good quality pictures of your home! Getting a professional exterior and interior photo shoot is a must when selling your home.

 

Most prospective home buyers these days search on the internet, and it’s the pictures they see that draw them in. Listings that include professional photos receive many more online views and get more showings. But not just any photos will do. Listings with poor quality photos, for example those with low lighting, will work against you. Having no photos at all in a listing usually causes people to skip over it completely.

 

Hiring a professional for the job is the best choice. A good real estate photographer has the right equipment, such as wide angle lenses to get the right angles of the room and make it look as spacious as possible without distorting it. Professionals know that proper lighting is crucial when photographing a home. Everyone wants to see a bright home, not a dark and dingy looking space. Lighting the photos correctly brings out the best in your home.

 

You will want to stage your home and clean it well before the photo shoot. Remove all clutter from surfaces in each room. You don’t need photographs of every room in the home, but you’ll definitely want to include the kitchen, living room, master bedroom and master ensuite.

 

Taking the time to invest in good quality photos of your home will most certainly pay off!

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Take in the theatre in Toronto
Posted on Thu, 11 Jan 2018, 03:10:00 PM  in Community

tix

Whether you’re looking for family entertainment or a romantic night out, an evening of theatre is a great way to spend a day or evening in Toronto! This winter, get a little arts and culture and watch an entertaining performance!

 

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Live

Dinosaur Zoo Live guides your family on a breathtaking tour that begins in pre-historic Australia. Observe, meet and interact with a collection of amazing dinosaurs and other creatures presented in a theatrical performance that will thrill and entertain kids over five! Brought to life by a team of skilled performers and puppeteers, and designed by professional paleontologists, Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live’s puppets are extraordinarily realistic. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime show at the St Lawrence Centre for the Arts Jan. 26.

Plus, take advantage of the VIP Meet & Greet Experience! The Dinosaur Zoo’s VIP Experience invites audience members to join the cast of puppeteers and the dinosaurs on stage for a fun, educational one-on-one event on the set of Erths’ Dinosaur Zoo. Meet the Dinosaurs! Greet the Puppeteers! Take home a Souvenir!

The Illusionists – Live from Broadway

Don’t miss this mind-blowing spectacular showcase of jaw-dropping talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth. The Illusionists - Live From Broadway dazzles audiences of all ages with a powerful mix of the most outrageous and astonishing acts on stage. This non-stop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions. Taking place through Jan. 14 at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

The Wedding Party

The Wedding Party returns through Jan. 29 at Crow’s Theatre! One of the biggest hits of winter 2017, The Wedding Party is a comedy about two families, a wedding, mistaken identities, and love. The show invites the audience to take a seat ringside on the big day. An astonishing cast of the country’s leading actors including Jason Cadieux, Virgilia Griffith, Trish Lindström, Moya O’Connell, Tom Rooney, and Kristen Thomson, hit the dance floor, drink too much, and try to get along.

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Holiday entertaining at its best
Friday, 08 December 2017, 04:00:00 PM

xmas

With the holidays come parties and events at every turn. For those that are choosing to host your family and friends, it can be a stressful and expensive time. To help keep the joy and cheer in your holidays, here are just some tips to throw the party of the year, and making it look easy while you do it!

Make a list – The best way to ensure your party goes off without a hitch is to be sure to be organized, and make a list! Create a list of your guests, menu, cocktails as well as any other item you need to purchase to make your party a success. The last thing you need it to forget something and be scrambling last minute.

Less is more – When decorating for the arrival of your holiday guests keep minimalism in mind. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much holiday décor; better yet, keep it simple and choose a few tasteful white, gold or silver items that are elegant and will add a modern touch to any holiday party décor.

Create a cosy holiday ambiance – A room aglow with candles always sets the right mood for a party at anytime of the year, but especially during the holidays. Festive scented candles like cranberry, vanilla or pine are some of the most popular; however, be sure to limit how many candles are lit, if you choose scented, as some guests may not appreciate the strong scent.

Cook ahead – To make the party as enjoyable for you as it is for your guests, try to limit the amount of work you need to do during the party by doing as much ahead of time as possible.

Ask for help – It is important to know what you’re capable and comfortable doing, and ask for help from family or friends for anything else. Most guests will offer to bring something or help if needed, so don’t be afraid to say yes! Whether it’s before, during or after, there is always something to do during a party, so be sure not to take on the whole responsibility on your own.

Make sure all guests have a safe ride home or a place to crash in your own home. Try to find out if there will be anyone staying beforehand so that you can get the rooms ready and have extra blankets and pillows ready. 

 

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Is it time to buy a home together?
Posted on Fri, 08 Dec 2017, 02:35:00 PM  in Home buying tips

movein

Love is in the air. While you are being surround by the ideas of grand gestures of love and commitment this Valentine’s Day, you and your loved one might be thinking of making a big move – moving in together! Before jumping into this with both feet, you two need to sit down together to have a serious discussion about expectations and what this will mean for each of you. Going into this with a clear mind will not only allow you to enjoy the buying experience as well as to help alleviate disappointment later on.

Be open and honest – After making the decision to live together, the next most important discussion is regarding your finances. Speaking to your loved one to better understand their spending habits, income, debts and savings. Discuss whether it is best separately split financial costs or to open a joint account to cover your monthly housing costs. However, whatever decision you make, it should be equally agreed on, including how the account will be used and how much will be deposited into them.

 

Budgeting bliss – When two people come together to live under one roof it is imperative to understand and agree on the lifestyle you would like to have. The best way to achieve and maintain that lifestyle is by creating a budget.  Your budget will outline your essential and non-essential expenses, allowing you to not only pay your bills, but to be able to save for the future. Whether your goal is to save for a vacation, house or children’s education fund, it will help motivate you to not only create your budget, but stick to it as well.

 

For more information on how to draw up a budget visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) website, fcac.gc.ca.

 

Source: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)

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Do you need a mortgage broker?
Posted on Mon, 06 Nov 2017, 03:25:00 PM  in Home buying tips

broker

When it comes to buying a home or renegotiating your mortgage come renewal time, you have a couple of options. You can visit the bank that currently holds your mortgage and speak with a mortgage specialist. Or, you can visit a mortgage broker, who will look at current rates from lenders across the country and offer you a few options to choose from. So which is better? It’s really a personal preference.

A mortgage broker is a trained professional who will represent you and find the best borrowing rates from hundreds of lenders such as chartered banks, credit unions, trust companies and private lenders. Their services are free to homebuyers as they are paid by the lender, and therefore privy to the lowest borrowing rates. A broker may be particularly beneficial to buyers with lower credit or high debt as brokers are often able to secure loans from alternative lenders.

In addition to their connections and experience, they also offer convenience. Brokers do the legwork for you. They can help with every aspect of a mortgage, from determining out how much you can afford, to choosing the best mortgage product, to finding ways to save money and pay off your mortgage faster. Something to keep in mind: since brokers are paid by the very lenders who you are trying to get the best deal from, lenders may pay financial incentives to brokers who send them a certain amount of volume.

In addition, if you are a long-term customer with a financial institution, you may have already developed a strong relationship with your own bank. As a loyal customer, you may be rewarded with lower borrowing options, special interest rates or waived home appraisal fees, as gratitude for committed service. When it comes to choosing a mortgage broker, talk to someone in the know. Ideally, contact your real estate salesperson and ask who their preferred vendors are. They will be able to provide you contact information for one or two reputable brokers in your area.

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Planning to sell your home
Posted on Mon, 06 Nov 2017, 02:05:00 PM  in Home selling tips

plan

If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2018, it’s never too soon to start preparing. Now is the time to get your finances in order and begin working on those minor projects around the house that will help you realize top dollar when it comes time to list.

When trying to zero in on where your money will best be spent, consider what most buyers are looking for. Some improvements may cost a few thousand dollars but are almost guaranteed to increase the value of your home, thus providing a high return on your investment. These include projects like replacing old, worn-out carpet, updating a dingy bathroom or finishing your basement.

Repainting is one household update that will provide a 200% return on your investment. Nothing makes a home looks updated, clean and ready for new owners like a fresh coat of paint! Stick to a neutral palette to appeal to the masses and be sure to repair walls first and paint high traffic areas like the front entry, kitchen and great room. Since we all know that kitchens sell homes, it’s wise to do what you can to make yours more appealing to buyers, especially in an older home. You might be amazed at how easy it is to refinish or repaint cabinetry. There are some fantastic products on the market today that make this project a cinch – visit your local hardware store and ask an expert.

Switching up your door hardware is another way to add dramatic impact without spending a fortune. Another area to focus on when it comes to wowing potential buyers this spring is your home’s curb appeal.

Before the snow starts falling, take a good look at your home’s exterior, including siding, roof, windows, garage doors, outdoor lighting, porch, walkway, driveway and your fence and deck. If repair or maintenance is needed on some of these items it’s best to wait until the winter weather is over, but it’s a good idea to know where your attention may be needed so you can start saving and planning!

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Why you should work with a realtor when buying a home
Posted on Mon, 09 Oct 2017, 04:10:00 PM  in Home buying tips,  Home selling tips, etc.

agent

As a consumer, you take your time when making a major purchase, researching products, asking for opinions and weighing the pros and cons of the many different options available. When it comes to making life’s biggest purchase – a new home – you’ve likely done the same. You’ve visited the neighbourhoods you’re interested in and have an idea of the average market price. You may have toured a few open houses and have your mind set on the ideal floor plan and style of home you prefer.

 

It’s true - there’s a lot to think about and even more to understand when buying a home and what you see when you walk from room to room is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s for this reason that finding a seasoned professional to guide you every step of the way is a smart decision for house hunters. Even if you’ve owned a home before and feel confident in your ability to find “the right house”, a real estate salesperson has the breadth of knowledge and a special skill set that comes only with experience – they are dealing with the sale and acquisition of homes on a daily basis.

 

Here are just a few of the things that a realtor will be looking for during your hunt for a new home:

 

Wiring – Homes built up until the 1940’s were likely outfitted with knob and tube wiring. In the 60’s, aluminum wire became a popular choice. Both are considered a fire hazard and today many insurance companies will refuse to insure a home with one of these types of electrical wiring or will charge a higher premium. Your realtor will be able to tell if a home has knob and tube or aluminum wiring. Replacing the electrical wiring in an entire house can cost anywhere from $7,000 - $15,000.

 

HVAC system – A salesperson will be able to tell you the exact age of the furnace and air conditioner and may be able to tell you if these systems have been properly maintained.

 

Plumbing – Sump pumps, septic tanks, wells and sewer systems….your realtor will be able to explain each of these features in detail.

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Fall home maintenance
Monday, 09 October 2017, 04:10:00 PM

Eaves

It doesn’t matter what the season, there is always an ever-growing list of chores on every homeowner’s to-do list. Sometimes, there just isn’t the time. If you’re swamped with work, family and life in general and know it just isn’t possible to get to every task on your list, take the short-cut route this fall and pick up the slack next year to get back on track.

 

That said, here are five essential fall tasks that you absolutely should make time for in order to protect your lawn, garden and home for the upcoming season:

 

  1. Fertilize your lawn before the first frost to give grass the nutrients needed for the frosty winter months and add mulch to your flowerbeds. No time to prune trees and shrubs? Don’t worry. Most shrubs and trees will be just fine waiting for spring for a good pruning. In fact, pruning too close to the arrival of sub-zero temperatures can actually damage plant life as cut branches will not have enough time to harden.
  2. Clean your eavestroughs and downspouts. With trees losing their foliage and plenty of windy days, your gutters are filling up quickly with leaves and debris. It’s important to ensure that rainwater can flow easily through your eaves before freezing temperatures arrive. A blockage could mean water spilling down your home, causing roof and siding damage, dangerous ice build up and wood rot. Also ensure that water is flowing a safe distance from your home’s foundation.
  3. Drain outside water lines and faucets. This is definitely one fall chore you don’t want to skip. Turn off the shutoff valve inside your home, open the spigots to drain any water left in the lines and properly store your hoses for the season.
  4. Have your HVAC system serviced. You can hire a professional or do it yourself. Change the filter. Carefully vacuum any dust and debris. After you’ve turned your system on, check your burner flames – they should be blue and burning evenly.
  5. If you have a woodburning fireplace, have a chimney sweep come in to clean it out and check for safety. This is also a good time to check the batteries and functionality of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
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Is condo living right for you?
Posted on Fri, 08 Sep 2017, 02:05:00 PM  in Home buying tips

condo

Buyers have plenty of choice when it comes to choosing the type of home they will buy. You can purchase new from a builder, or shop around for a resale townhouse, single family home or condominium.

 

The latter is an excellent option for first-time buyers, young professionals and retirees or those looking to downsize. That’s not to say that all condos are affordable. A spacious unit in a well-appointed building can easily boast a price tag well into the millions with maintenance fees approaching $1,000 per month.

 

Whatever your price range, there are a few things to consider and research before settling on a condo purchase.

 

The first factor to consider is those condominium fees.  Possibly one of the great mysteries of homeownership, these fees can turn an outright purchase into what seems like a rental, with monthly payments to factor into your budget for as long as you live at that address. If you have never paid condo fees before and the concept has you running scared, take a few minutes here to understand what they are and what they cover:

 

• The cost of keeping common spaces (elevators, indoor and outdoor gardens, lobbies and hallways, etc.) clean and in good working order.

• The upkeep of amenities such as fitness rooms, swimming pools, bowling alleys, theatre rooms, spas and party rooms.

• Snow removal, roof repair and insurance.

 

You’ll also want to think about the building’s amenities. Before you move into a condo, decide whether its in-house bells and whistles are perks you’ll use often enough to warrant the fees you’ll be paying for them each month.

 

A final consideration is the condo corporation’s status certificate. A status certificate is a prospective condo owner's first look into the financial health of their potential investment. This comprehensive report gives all the details on the current fees that owners pay, any large fee increases that may be on the horizon and any liens or arrears owed by particular owner(s). Financial statements are also a part of the status certificate and will show the trends in expenditures and receipts of the past, and provide comparisons of a corporation’s actual and expected costs. To get your hands on a condominium’s status certificate, you must submit a written request to the condo board’s management company, plus a $100 fee. They have 10 days, as required by law, to provide the certificate.

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What buyers are looking for in a home
Posted on Fri, 08 Sep 2017, 02:05:00 PM  in Home selling tips

ht

If you’re thinking of selling your home in the next six months, year or even two years, it’s never too soon to start thinking re-sale value. Improvements to your home will almost always add value so it’s in your best interest to choose upgrades that are of good quality and have universal appeal – converting a spare bedroom to a luxurious master suite will attract a select few potential buyers but may actually be viewed negatively by the majority of buyers. Here’s a look at some household features that many buyers are looking for in 2017.

 

  1. Smart Home Technology – More and more buyers are looking for a home that boasts smart home features and technology. Included are items in three general categories: features for practical and functional use (i.e. kitchen appliances with LED touchscreen displays, NEST thermostats and remote-controlled shades), features for lifestyle and entertainment (i.e. built-in sound systems and automated lighting systems) and items for safety and security (i.e. smart locks, Wi-Fi video doorbells and security cameras).
  2. Hardwood Flooring – It’s estimated that 80% of buyers have hardwood floors included in their list of must-haves when house-hunting. Durable, long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing, hardwood is one of the most expensive flooring options available but also one of the best investments from a resale value standpoint.
  3. Updated Kitchen and Bathrooms – We all know that kitchens and bathrooms sell a home, so if you have reno dollars to spend, it’s wise to shell out the cash to upgrade the heart of the home and bathrooms. Updated cabinets, quartz or granite countertops and newer appliances are all something that potential buyers will be looking for when house-hunting. When it comes to bathrooms, more and more buyers are seeking a little luxury.  Freestanding tubs, high-tech toilets, unique tile shapes and heated floors will appeal to discerning buyers.
  4. Outdoor Living Space – With such a short hot and sunny season here in Canada, many homeowners want to take advantage of the summer weather while it’s here, making fancy outdoor kitchens and living spaces a hot commodity.
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