About Sylvia

Sylvia James is a full time real estate agent with 41 years of experience, your local seniors real estate specialist, as my clients say "Never Fear....Sylvia's here". Proud recipient of the Royal LePage Frank Customer Service award of Excellence for 2016. " The highroad to service is traveled with integrity, compassion, and understanding..people don't care how much we know until they know how much we care", in recognition of your commitment and the delivery of nothing less than excellence". 

I would be happy to help you with any of your real estate needs , call me for a free market evaluation of your home or just a confidential consultation to discuss your real estate needs and options.

My job as your realtor is to help you with all your needs-before, during and after the sale.


10 Rules for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home is packed with many different emotions, from being excited to nervous, happy then anxious and then back to excitement. To help ease your mind and emotions follow these top 10 tips for first-time buyers.

1. Buy smart the first time

You can take advantage of whatever kind of market your buying into by carefully choosing your point of entry. It may mean waiting until prices drop in the winter or holding on a little longer until the right property comes along at the right price.

2. Tap your network

Ask your family, friends and co-workers for advice, and referrals to agents, lawyers and other professionals. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the easier the process becomes.

3. Prepare!

You will most likely be making your most important financial decisions of your life very quickly, in a matter of days, hours or minutes. Work out ahead of time exactly what you need, any extras you would like and what you can afford.

4. Have your deposit ready

You will need to put your deposit down when you find the home you want, usually within 24 hours. If you don't have it as a promise from mom or dad or in a bond fund, then you will need it in a cash account that is easily accessible.

5. Tally all the cost

It is more than just the mortgage that you will have to consider, taxes, utilities and insurance all have to be taken into consideration. Factor in spending 1% each year for maintenance and repairs.

6. Leave money for reno's

Set aside money or have a plan for saving money for the things you want to do to the place. The average length of time Canadians own a home is 3 years, don't spend most of it living in someone else's place.

7. Look over the fence

Neighbors have a big impact on your property's value.

8. Take advantage of tax breaks

In 2009, the Federal government introduced a first-time home buyers tax credit that lets you save $750.00 on your income tax. There is a Home Buyers Plan which allows you to 'borrow' money for a down payment from your RRSP tax-free. Explore all of your options to make the most of those first-time buyer savings.

9. Keep your emotions in check

Once you've made your purchase buyers remorse is a common psychological state. As long as you don't get too carried away, it's all in your head and once you move in any misgivings should dissipate.

10. Relax!

Relax and enjoy your new home and remember your home will likely never cost you more than it does the month you move in.




Open House Tours

Open houses are held to attract as many buyer's as possible to a property and can be a great help to educate buyers as to what's available in a price range and a certain area of the city. Here are some things to think about before attending an open house.

Be represented

The seller has someone working for them so should you. Establish a relationship early with your agent as you move forward in the buying process. You could find yourself in a difficult position if you don't sign in under your (agent's) or buyer broker's name. Listing broker's often act as dual agents if you sign in under your own name they may try to claim you as a client if you decide to make an offer.

Prepare ahead of time

Your agent can provide information on what to expect in terms of average price, amenities, taxes and more in a particular neighborhood.

Make a list

Having a list of priorities will help you evaluate the "open homes" that you visit. Some homes might "wow" you into overlooking your priorities, the list will give you focus.

Collect details

Scoop up the detailed property information sheets when you visit an open house

Spend Time

Some aspects of the house may thrill you but don't overlook the necessities, your need for a home office or spare bedroom shouldn't be overshadowed by a kitchen that dazzles you

No obligation

You should feel free to explore a home during an open house without obligation to buy. While seeing as many as a dozen homes a day can be exhausting, it gives buyers a chance to see if the house is worth going back through a second time


If an open house leads you to the "perfect house", don't tell the seller or the listing agent. Calmly leave and call your agent for a second showing



Getting a Mortgage


Getting your mortgage pre-approved before you go house hunting will help to ensure you don't fall in love with a house you simply can't afford.

What is your Credit Score?

Before applying for a mortgage buyers need to first determine their credit score. Scores range from 300 to 900 and any borrower will need a minimum of 600 to qualify for a mortgage, if putting less than 20% down. Scores of 700 or more will get the best rates. You want to get your credit score 6-12 months in advance to make sure nothing is wrong and also try not to find yourself unemployed  while going through the process, you want to your income to look good and solid to the bank.

Down payment time

A mortgage in Canada requires a minimum of 5% down, however if you pay 20% upfront it is a big cost cutting move! By doing so you avoid paying Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) insurance premiums that would otherwise add thousands of dollars to your mortgage. Don't fret if you can't afford putting 20% down even 10-15% down can still reap financial savings.

Size does matter

Buying a house that is within your budget will get you into the market sooner but it will also help you from having to pay mortgage default insurance premiums.It means your closer to having 20% down.

What is my rate?

It pays to shop around, credit unions and non-direct lenders will offer a discount and even if it is just a fraction of a percentage point, it will save you money on interest payments compared to a larger lender.

What are my terms?

The terms of your contract are really just as important as a securing that low interest rate. Make sure before you sign on the dotted line that you have a clear understanding of what would happen if you sold your home or move lenders before your mortgage is up.

Fixed vs Variable

Fixed rate mortgages are appealing because you will know what your mortgage payment is for a determined length of time, and as well will know exactly when it will be paid in full. An open fixed rate mortgage allows you to prepay in full or in part at any time without a prepayment charge. A closed fixed rate mortgage is when your interest rate and payment are fixed for the rate you choose. This should appeal to budget conscious buyers as your rate will not rise during the term.

A variable rate mortgage is when the interest rate is adjusted periodically to reflect market conditions, in an open variable rate mortgage you can put down as much as you like or pay it off at any time. In a closed variable rate mortgage payments are generally fixed for the term as well they typically have limited prepayment options.


Amortization is paying off the debt with a fixed repayment schedule in regular installments over a period of time. If you go with a longer amortization but set your payments higher with prepayment privledges then you could be paying off a 20 year mortgage in 10 years. Get the right payment schedule for you, payment schedules can make a big difference and payments can be made every month, twice a month, every two weeks or each week. Weekly or bi-weekly will accelerate your payments by an extra 2 weeks a year.



Should you forego the Home Inspection?


Home Buyers and Sellers will do well to know a thing or two about the home inspection process. Making informed decisions about the home you hope to buy, or the one you plan to sell, is an important step as part of your financial considerations. You want to be aware of the process of home inspections and know what they do and do not cover.  Any defects or problems can factor into your pricing considerations and negotiations, and as a seller you may choose to have an inspection and take on any repairs before you list your home. As a buyer, you can include the repairs identified in the inspection to amend the purchase price.

Here are some key guidelines to help you along the way

A home inspection is a visual assessment and report based on what is observed on a certain day. As such, a home inspector cannot see or find everything. They may not be able to inspect certain areas that are covered by snow and it can be difficult to check the furnace when it's a 100 degrees outside.

As a buyer you are paying for an objective opinion of your home, if the inspector comes on referral from your agent, a good agent will ensure the inspector understands that you are the client.

Understand the parameters of the home inspection and that having one is not a warranty or a guarantee. There is no such thing as a perfect house, don't be concerned if the inspection reveals some problems. Use this information as part of your negotiations, or as a seller, have an advance inspection and take care of necessary repairs before you list the home.

You want to be sure you use a reputable, qualified home inspector, this is the biggest financial investment of your life and you want to use the best person that will give you quality advice, inform you of any safety issues before buying a home and have peace of mind knowing your protected from any surprise costs.



The Perfect Home


It is perfectly normal to have feelings of uncertainty and that you are perhaps making the wrong decision when looking at homes to buy. First time home buyers will question whether they have found the right home for them or not. Before you start your house hunt get yourself prepared and have a sense of what your looking for and what your not looking for, this will save you time and help to reduce your stress level.


What type of home are you looking for?

  • Is it a single-family detached home or a condo, a duplex, a townhouse?
  • What size of yard are you wanting? Outdoor space is time consuming so ask yourself how much are you comfortable having, do you enjoy yard work, would you pay a landscaper?
  • How much do you travel?
  • How often do you have house guests or entertain? What type of and how much space do you need to do so comfortably?
  • How much natural light do you need? Natural light saves on energy and is also a mood booster, will you want your home to have a lot of windows or a skylight? Keep in mind trees are beautiful to look at but in full bloom will cast a shade.
  • How handy are you with repairs?
  • Could you live through a renovation?
  • Do you use city transit? Will you need to be on a bus route?
  • How close do you want your neighbors to be?

When you do begin your search use MLS (, the national multiple listing service where 9 out of 10 homes for sale in Canada are listed. MLS allows you to specify your price range and the type of property, further narrowing your search means choosing the town or neighborhood, and if you have young children you may want to look at schools first and then look in that area.


You may need to pair down your expectations if you can't find anything in your price range, or perhaps you may need to search a different neighborhood. When considering your ideal home, consider any trade-offs you would make, things you are willing to do without and remember most homes are not perfect and there are always going to be things that could be done differently. However once you move in and decorate and add your own style then your house will become your dream home.




New Home or Resale?


There are many factors to look at when determining whether to buy a new home or a resale home, your lifestyle and what is important to you can be the biggest considerations. Look at both their pros and cons before you decide what is right for you.


New homes certainly have their appeal, a turnkey experience that many love, they have many offerings the home is brand new and no one has lived in it yet! You move in and decorate it, not re-decorate and if you buy your new home early on in the process you may have some say in finishes in the kitchen and bathrooms etc. Open floor plans and updated living spaces with clean, modern designs are desirable, as well as a spacious kitchen, luxurious bathrooms, walk-in closets and main level or bedroom level laundry.

Prices of new homes are usually more expensive per square foot than resale homes and the prices are non negotiable, possession dates can be inflexible for buyers and at times can be delayed by the builder. New homes can usually be found on the outskirts of town or in the suburbs and keep in mind the neighborhood infrastructure may not be well developed. You are responsible for paying extra for any upgrades you might want, however a new home will be energy efficient which should keep your maintenance to a minimum.


Resale homes can be found in established neighborhoods that are often lined with mature tress and landscape and have greater access to transit, and can be closer to schools, stores and community centers. Resale homes are full of charm and character and can have high ceilings, built in cabinetry and most resale properties will come with all window treatments in place unlike new builds.

Resales are typically less expensive per square foot than new homes and prices are negotiable depending on market conditions and how motivated the seller is. You can move in faster with a resale home as it is already built but keep in mind maintenance will always cost more with a resale and you may need to budget more money for any renovations for the home after its purchased.

A house is the largest purchase that you will ever make and whichever you choose, you must have confidence that you will be happy living there for years to come.



Is Condo living right for you?


Living in a condominium means living a certain lifestyle, are you prepared to live with rules and dealing with a condo board? Be in close proximity to your neighbors?? Condominiums have both advantages and disadvantages and you need to decide if a condominium fits in with your lifestyle, personality and financial situation.

Condominiums have their own rules and regulations and by-laws which can be strict or relaxed depending on the condo corporation. There can be rules on noise, parking and pets, as well as rules regarding how many occupants are allowed per unit and any alterations/decorations of a unit space or appearance.

Let's take a look at some advantages of condominium living;

  • Monthly maintenance/condo fees are usually predictable
  • Less maintenance and repair responsibilities
  • Access to on-site amenities such as a workout room, library, swimming pool/sauna
  • Peace of mind knowing your neighbors are close by
  • Secure buildings
  • Social/recreational activities for seniors

Now let's take a look at some disadvantages of condominium living;

  • Less sq. footage in condo units
  • Paying for amenities that you may not use or may not use often
  • Less privacy with neighbors being close-by and with that comes more noise
  • May have to attend condominium meetings
  • Mandatory charges for any unforeseen repairs to the condominium common elements
  • For security reasons, guests may have to sign in and out of the building

Choosing a condo over a single-family home depends on your lifestyle, age, budget, pets and what you like best and how you want to live.



Investment Real Estate


Buying an investment rental property is quite popular today, it generates an ongoing cash source,as well the property is likely to rise in value overtime proving it's profitability even more.Before you get started make sure you speak with either a mortgage broker,accountant, lawyer or another financial expert about how it will affect your taxes and financial situation.

With an investment property certain expenses can be deducted,maintenance/upgrades,property taxes,insurances and mortgage interest. A monthly income from your tenants paying rent is more steady than an investments interests and dividends that pay out here and there. Keep in mind that unless you have a property manager that it is your responsibility to look after any repairs which may come about including on an emergency basis. Dealing with tenants can sometimes be problematic, they may not pay rent on time and could have disrespectful behavior towards your property etc. Hiring a property manager will take away from the revenue generated from your property but it will save you time and energy spent on the hassle of dealing with tenants and the upkeep of the property. The key is to make enough money on your property that after the mortgage and expenses are covered you have money leftover, it's important to get a total monthly income estimate as well as what it will cost you each month to rent it out. You will also want to have money set aside for the year for maintenance/upgrades,repairs etc. A rental property can offer profit and financial freedom by doing things right from the start,screen potential tenants carefully, follow the rules that you have laid out in the lease.Keep an eye on your property by doing so you will be able to see how the tenants are treating it and it will also show them that you are an active landlord that cares about the property and their living.



Home Staging

Home staging is the act of preparing a private residence for sale in the real estate marketplace, the intention is to make a home appealing to most people which will then hopefully bring a sale on more quickly and for more money. There are a variety of different inexpensive props which can be used such as;

  • Books-keep your book case light but a couple of hard cover books tend to complete a look on a coffee table or book case, a full book case can look junky so limit the number of books but do add accessories and stack your books in a creative way.
  • Bowls of Lemons-Lemons represent freshness and cleanliness and are nice and fragrant, a bowl of lemons will dress up a kitchen table or counter or a table in the foyer.
  • Towels-Nice thick, plush towels will complete a bathroom giving it a boutique hotel look.The color white will add a softness and give the bathroom a spa like feeling.
  • Large Painting-Choose a simple landscape painting with soft tones and softer hues for color. A large piece looks great on a big wall but also looks good above a fireplace or in the dining room.
  • A pair of matching table lamps-This will give a designer look to a room,use in a bedroom or living room making sure you place them where both can be seen.
  • Plump Pillows-Use pillows with color, texture and print but don't go overboard with too many! You want to enhance the look of a room with them and use them on a accent chair, sofa,benches and beds.

Staging can raise the value of a property by way of reducing a homes 'flaws', de-cluttering and de-personalizing and doing minor improvements as well as landscaping.


So why should you stage your home?

  • A staged home sells faster, it can sell 30-50% faster in areas. The longer a home is on the market the more likely that a price reduction may occur.
  • Good first impression,the first impression a home makes is most often than not the one the one buyers walk away with.
  • It doesn't take long, buyers can make their mind up in less than a minute whether they want to purchase the home.
  • Take away the guess work, A well staged home says 'I'm ready for you" and buyers get a sense visually of what it can be.

Dont' forget the outside! The outside of the home should get just as much attention as the inside;

  • Fix any minor repairs including cleaning or replacing gutters, any patchwork in the driveway or walkway. Repaint the front door or fencing to freshen it up.
  • Pressure wash to get rid of any dirt, grime and mildew.
  • Add some potted plants by the front door to give some color and life.
  • Clean up landscaping,cutback any overgrown shrubs and remove any dead debris.
  • Install new hardware,see if your house numbers, mailbox, doorknobs or light fixtures need replacing or at the very least a good cleaning.

Happy Staging!



Moving Day...Are You Ready?


Moving day arrives and you are filled with's exciting...full of new adventures and beginnings. However moving day can also be stressful with having so much to do, that's why it's important to plan ahead and be organized so you can have a positive moving experience.

It's a good idea to start planning your move as soon as your sale is solid with all conditions removed, then you will know exactly when your possession date is. Use a checklist that will help your move go as smooth as possible.


Starting with..who will move you??

  • Will you use a moving company or will you do it yourself?
  • Keep in mind parking on moving day, your truck will need easy access in and out of your driveway..think ahead so things can go in quickly.

Working with a moving company?.....You will want to know...

  • How much is their hourly rate,or is it a fixed rate?
  • The number of movers provided
  • What is included in the fee?
  • Is there insurance on your belongings?
  • Will you want the movers to pack  your belongings?


  • Truck rental company quotes
  • Size of truck
  • Rental terms and conditions
  • Insurance
  • Who do you have to help you?

Ready to pack??..You will need...

  • Boxes
  • Newspaper/packing paper
  • Packing/shipping  tape
  • Scissors/box cutter
  • Permanent marker
  • Colored stickers for room color coding

Some Packing Tips

  • Label your can also inventory them
  • It is a good idea to put which room the boxes go to
  • Use tape to secure any lids that might be holding liquids and dry goods
  • Clearly mark breakables
  • Lightweight items can stay in dresser drawers

You will want to make sure you call ahead and set up your heat and electricity so that it is ready for you as well as your telephone and cable company providers. Don't forget to do a change of address and notify the Ministry of Transportation for your driver's license, car registration etc. Before your home closes contact your insurance company to arrange your house insurance so that it is effective on your day of closing. If you are moving to an unfamiliar area it is a good idea to locate the nearest hospital, fire station, schools, library, post office, park, shopping etc.

Once your in your new home...

It's very easy to feel overwhelmed once you have everything moved in but the easiest thing to do is take a deep breath and have patience and start off by unloading your essentials first such as kitchen items and the bathroom. Assemble all of your big furniture in the room it belongs in and don't over work yourself to get it all done in one day..take breaks as you need them and do what you can in a day and the most important thing to remember is to enjoy and take in your new surroundings.




Buying a Fixer-Upper??


So you decided on buying a fixer-upper, now what? There are many considerations when deciding on purchasing one

  • You will need to decide what work you are able to do yourself
  • Price the costs of all repairs and remodeling before you make an offer
  • Check permit costs and prices on structural work
  • Check on the cost of financing

There are both pros and cons of a fixer-upper, a lower buying price and a potential for resale are both appealing but keep in mind that there can be a lot of unforeseen costs that come up. Patience is a must, think of the disruption it will cause you and your family and factor in the time as we have in our mind how we would like renovations to go, however things happen and unexpected setbacks occur.

When looking think about the location and do your research, check the prices of homes in the neighborhood and look around the neighborhood to see how the homes are maintained. Will this area be desirable for yourself or someone else?  If you want to minimize costs then look for a home with "Good Bones", a solid roof and foundation, natural lighting and quality construction etc. Use a fixer-upper calculator to help you get a rough estimate of renovation costs, a reputable contractor can help in this process.

It's important to remember to not "over-do" your renovation, it should be in line with or just above the standards of homes in your neighborhood. A fixer-upper can be a great way to get good value for your money, do your homework and talk with trusted professionals.



Preparing your home for Fall and Winter


Summer is now almost a distant memory and a new season is upon us and now it's time to prepare our homes both outdoor and indoor for the fall and winter seasons. Let's start Outdoors...........

  • Clear out your Gutters-You want to remove any debris and leaves from your gutters and drainpipe to prevent any clogging. Outdoor faucets need to be drained and shut off for the winter.
  • Clean the fireplace and chimney-The chimney needs to be done by a professional but you can clean out any charred wood and ashes yourself.
  • Check your home's heating vents-Make sure they are not blocked or covered by any furniture/curtains or carpeting and clean all filters and dust the vents.
  • Store air conditioners-Window air conditioners need to be taken out and cleaned and dusted before storing.
  • Put in storm windows-Clean and store your screens and replace with storm windows.
  • Check all windows and doorways-Look for any possible leaks or cracks that need tended to.
  • Divert water-Add an extension to any downspouts so that water runs at least 3-4 feet away from the foundation.
  • Mow your lawn-Mow Instead of raking leaves they will decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter.
  • Put away seasonal furniture-Clean and store outdoor furniture and remove and clean cushions.
  • Organize the shed-Organize and clean out your shed as your moving summer items in, move winter items to the front of the shed and summer to the back.
  • Re-stock winter essentials-Be snow ready and make sure you have salt and/or sand,a good snow shovel,wood for your fireplace and while your at it don't forget about your car. Put your snow tires on before the snow starts to fly and don't forget a snow scraper,windshield washer fluid,make sure all other fluids are topped up and make sure you have an emergency kit in your trunk with items such as a blanket,warm socks,matches or lighter, water,non-perishable food etc.

And now for the Indoors.......

  • Reverse ceiling fans-Run the fans blades in a clockwise direction after your heating is turned on, doing so will push down into the room heated air from the ceiling and you may be may be able to turn down your thermostat by a degree or 2.
  • Clean and inspect your dryer vent
  • Have a technician-inspect your furnace or heat pump to ensure it is clean and in good repair.
  • Change the batteries-in all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Inspect all fire extinguishers
  • Clean humidifiers-Replace old filters and clean inside compartment with vinegar.

With the cold weather on it's way, you are now ready to keep warm and cozy all season long!





Fall and Winter Energy-Saving tips


Winter is on it's way and that means cooler temperatures are too, however there are different ways to stay warm and save on energy and money!

  • Think about the Sun-Open up all of your curtains and blinds during the day, the sunlight will naturally heat up your home and remember to close them at sundown to help you retain the heat.
  • Cover drafty windows-Use a good heavy duty plastic sheet to cover the inside of your window frames during the can pick up a window insulator kit for under $20.00 at your local hardware store. You can also install insulating drapes or shades on drafty windows.
  • Adjust the temperature-When your at home set your thermostat as low as you can go while still being comfortable and by lowering the temperature by 10-15 degrees when not at home can save you 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills.
  • Consider a programmable thermostat-This will make it easy for you to set back the temperature.
  • Find and Seal leaks-Add caulking or weatherstripping to seal air leaks.
  • Reduce heat loss from your fireplace-If you don't use your fireplace plug and seal the chimney flue. Install tempered glass doors and a heat exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room and add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
  • Lower your water heating costs-Turn down the temperatures on your water heater to the warm setting.
  • Move your furniture-Move any furniture that may be blocking vents and radiators so that hot air can circulate freely.
  • Lower your holiday lighting costs-Use LED holiday lights to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the holidays.



Decorating tips for Small Spaces


Decorating small spaces can be a challenge but it can also be a way to showcase your personality and style! Wondering where to begin?


Organize your furniture-Organize your furniture into functional groups,by doing so it will help make the space feel much larger. Float your furniture away from the walls to help add volume to the room. Give your seat grouping flair by adding pops of art and wall hangings, layer pillows for extra interest but make sure the scale of accessories doesn't overwhelm the furniture.

Choose Multi-functional furniture-Maximize small spaces by making one piece serve two or three purposes, the more multi-functional a piece of furniture is the less you have to have in your home..keep it smart and simple a convertible sofa by day and by night the sofa turns into a bed! Maybe you don't have room for a desk and coffee table but by purchasing a coffee table and desk combination you can have both..the lid of the coffee table rises to become a desk and with a built-in cavity beneath the lid you can store books, blankets and other items that would normally sit on a coffee table.

Create hidden storage-In limited space every square inch counts for example, a storage ottoman under a window can hold extra bedding or a chair with storage under the cushion could hold craft supplies, books etc. Utilize any wall space you can for hanging a bookshelf or a floor to ceiling bookcase that can double as storage cabinets in the bottom, and include a spot for the television that also works as a computer monitor. In the middle of the bookcase use a hidden shelf for the keyboard and mouse below it and use the top shelves to store as many books as you can.

Match furniture to wall colors-Stick to the same color palette for your walls and furnishings, it helps fool your eye into thinking a room is more spacious. Use neutral colors with small pieces of bold colors to accent the view. Use warm neutral colors that reflect light around the room and pair with white neutrals for an open and airy style.

Use mirrors effectively-Mirrors are a great way to give the illusion of more space, a well positioned mirror can act like a window to visually increase space and also throw light into a room. Place a mirror behind a light source like a pendant light or bedside lamp, the mirror will help maximize the light's reach and by putting a mirror beside a window or directly across from one will help maximize the effect of the natural light and outdoor views. Use a large floor length mirror behind a piece of furniture in a tight space, a mirror the same width of furniture will make the piece look prominent and have purpose to the room.

Bring in the light-Keep your window treatments light and airy letting in as much natural light that you can and hang your curtains at the edge of the windows which will make the window appear larger. In the evenings when there is minimal natural light place a floor lamp or accent table with a lamp for reading in dark corners. Use wall mounted sconces in areas that don't get a lot of natural light.




Tips for attending Open Houses


Open house are a great opportunity for potential buyers to see what is for sale in certain neighborhoods as well as comparing prices and features of all the house you tour. Going prepared will allow you to make the most of your time and your tour.

Be Represented-When you sign in at the open house sign in under your real estate agent's name, if you don't the listing agent may be able to claim you as a client if you decide to make an offer.

Prepare ahead of time-Know the market before you venture out into it, if you are looking in a certain neighborhood your real estate agent can get you the information you need....average prices,taxes,amenities etc. Bring your list of what your *looking* for with you, it will help keep you focused on what you really want and need.

Spend Time-Take time going through the house to see if you can really invision you and your family living there,keep any information property sheets so you can go back and review them once your home.

Go through the entire house-Look inside and out and make sure you don't forget about the basement! You want to see it all to see what kind of "shape" the entire house is in and see what it offers in terms of storage...leave no stone un-turned.

And Remember.........You have no obligation........You are able to walk throughout a home without any obligation to buy and even though the agent listing the property is obligated to protect the best interest of their client, they can still offer information and knowledge to you.





How fire safe is your home?


A fire can start in seconds and you may have just a minute or two to escape. Early warning from a smoke alarm and having a fire escape plan that everyone in your home is aware of can save your loved ones life.

Have a family escape plan-Create an easy escape plan, it is recommended that you have two exit routes from every room and a safe meeting place outside your home. For example a tree or a telephone pole or neighbor's house. If you have small children in your house be sure to practice your escape plan with them and have them try it by themselves so they can fully understand what to do.

Install smoke detectors-They should be throughout your home and one in every bedroom and don't forget about the basement. Make sure they are in working order by testing them once a month and if in doubt on whether they are in proper working order then it is time to replace them. Replace any smoke detectors that are more than 10 years old. REMEMBER to change the batteries as recommended by the manufacturer and be familiar with the sound your smoke detector makes.

Be on the lookout for safety hazards in your home-Examples of this is having too many items plugged into one outlet, worn electrical cords etc.

Be careful with cooking-Never let young children cook unattended without proper supervision by an adult. Keep cooking surfaces clean to avoid grease fires.

Never leave burning candles unattended and never use them near anything that can catch fire and KEEP them out of reach from children and pets.

Every home should have a fire extinguisher-Keep them handy like inside a door or entrance away from children and potential fire hazards.

And Remember......Have adequate insurance to cover your home, this will help to cover the costs of damage and help you get back on track should you need to do so.





How to know if you should Refinance?


Homeowner's decide to refinance their mortgage for different reasons, they want to reduce the term of their mortgage or to get a lower interest rate and/or the opportunity to convert from a variable to a fixed-term rate mortgage or vice versa. So how do you know if refinancing your mortgage is right for you?....and when is the right time to do so? You need to be sure of your decision your making and be comfortable with the changes it will bring about.

  • If your mortgage rate is at least 1% over the current rates-For example if your mortgage rate was 4.5% and the current rate was at 3.5% then the benefit would be great if you refinanced at 3.5%..your savings can be substantial.
  • You are planning on staying in your home for awhile-Refinancing does cost money, if you are refinancing on a 30 yr fixed term mortgage then your closing costs could be 3 to 6% of your loan amount, so really you would want to stick around to re-coup that money with your lower interest rate. Some experts say that you need to break even within 3 years.
  • Shortening the length of your loan-When interest rates go down, homeowners have an opportunity to refinance an existing loan for another loan and with not a lot of change in monthly payment.
  • Converting between a variable rate and fixed term rate-Variable rates tend to offer lower rates than fixed terms and periodic adjustments resulting in rate increases that are higher than the rate available through a fixed term mortgage.When this happens converting to a fixed rate mortgage results in a lower interest rate. Converting to a variable fixed rate which often has a lower monthly payment than a fixed term, this may be a good idea for homeowners that do not intend to live in their current home long term. If interest rates fall then homeowners in this situation can reduce the interest rate on their loan and monthly payments and won't have to concern themselves about rising interest rates down the road.
  • Consolidating debt-This comes at a will end up paying more in interest over the life of your loan than if you plugged away at a credit card debt within a 3 to 5 year period. Remember consolidating debt means your taking money out of your equity to pay off have just added to the amount you owe on your home and your monthly payments will increase. However a decision to refinance your mortgage to consolidate debt may work if you have a lot of equity in your home and if your home has increased in value since you purchased it. You can afford the payments and it won't increase the term of your mortgage.





Bathroom Renovations

When doing home renovations the bathroom is one of the most popular rooms to renovate, some people will go for a spa like oasis while others are looking to do simple upgrades such as new fixtures or flooring or a fresh paint job. Renovations can be done with a budget in mind, by figuring out how much you can spend will help determine the extent of your work.

  • A fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest ways to update a look, make sure you use a high quality paint in a satin finish and because of mold and mildew in a bathroom you may want to use a special bathroom paint. Using a neutral color might be a good idea if your thinking of a resale in the near future.
  • Update your fixtures, shop around for your fixtures to see what you can find on sale and get creative. Mix and match old and new, look at your local restore! Perhaps you re-use a light fixture but purchase a new sink faucet or towel rack.
  • Look for ways you can go green and save on water and money.
  • Save money on your tub/shower, If you can't afford to replace it or would rather put the money into another part of the renovation then have it re-lined which is cost effective.
  • Use faux tile that looks like a natural stone, it is both cheaper and lower maintenance.
  • Keep the bones the same, save money and limit your stress level by keeping the toilet and shower where they are.
  • Recaulk and grout, it is cheap and an inexpensive way to jazz up the bathroom.
  • On trend right now are granite counter tops for bathrooms, avoid neutral colors if you want to save money as they are the most popular.
  • Look for slabs that are flawed and have imperfections, the more flawed the cheaper it will be.


Winterize your Entranceway

Winter can be one of the more 'messier' seasons with boots coming in the house with snow/salt and mud caked on, it can be hard to keep the inside entrance of your home neat and clean. Winterizing the entrance can keep everything you need for winter at your disposal in an orderly fashion.

  • Have a rough mat on the outside of the door so feet can be wiped before coming in and on the inside of the door use a mat that is washable and that doesn't show dirt easily and absorbs water fast so that you are not always stepping in a wet spot on the mat.
  • Use a boot tray where wet boots can be placed on and where water can collect and boots can get dried.
  • Use hooks, heavy duty hooks are great for hanging jackets, scarves and hats.
  • Baskets are a great way to store hats and mitts etc and if you have kids give them their own basket and label them accordingly.
  • Keep a small towel handy to wipe up puddles.
  • Keep a small broom available to sweep up sand and salt that gets tracked in or a small hand held vacuum.
  • A medium size jar or small pail is a great way to store salt or sand by the door for quick,easy access and will fit on a shelf or underneath a bench.
  • Keep a basket of slippers nearby for your family and guests.

Get creative with your space and think outside the box for your storage needs.




Snow Safety Tips will be on the ground before we know it and it's always a surprise with mother nature just how much will fall. Be prepared for the snow this season and be sure to shovel your walkway and driveway safely!

  • Before you venture out to shovel make sure you have stretched your muscles to avoid an injury
  • Dress in layers and make sure you wear proper footwear such as boots with a good tread/non slip sole
  • Invest in a good shovel, some people wax the shovel so snow falls off of it easily and does not build up
  • Make sure you bend at the knees and lift with your leg muscles, not your back
  • Take breaks and pace yourself
  • If visibility is reduced wear bright colors and keep your walkway well lit
  • If you use a snowblower give it a once over-check the engine and oil levels and the tire pressure and chute on a regular basis
  • After you shovel salt your driveway, wearing gloves apply a thin layer
  • Important to remember that salt will melt ice and sand will help provide traction, use whatever product you think is best for you
  • If you decide to use salt avoid putting it on your lawn or plants
  • Keep your pets away from ice melt and wipe their paws off after it has been in contact with salt


Keep your shovel handy and have a stock of salt and/or ice always on hand for the season and you are well prepared for what mother nature may bring.





Using our 5 Senses to Sell your Home

Every seller wishes that his or her home sells quickly and for fair value, your home is not judged on looks it feels to potential buyers is just as important to them. You want it to be inviting and warm so that people get an emotional connection to it, to help with that your home should appeal to our 5 senses.

  • Smell-You don't want your home to smell like pets, smoke or dirty dishes or garbage. Open your windows before an open house or showing and get some fresh air in and stale air out.Turn on a ceiling fan if you have one to help circulate the air. Lemon peels in your garbage can/disposal will keep it smelling fresh and clean.Fresh cut flowers will offer a subtle scent and boiling cinnamon on the stove will add a nice homey scent. Diffuse a light oil such as lavender or peppermint.
  • Sight-Open your blinds and curtains to let as much natural light in as possible, and turn on ceiling lights and lamps as this will create a cozy atmosphere. If the season permits turn on your gas fireplace or throw a log on your real one and really amp up the ambience.
  • Sound-Play something soft in the background, you want potential buyers to be relaxed as buying and selling is stressful. By being relaxed it will be easier for them to envision themselves living in the home.
  • Taste-Bake a small batch of cookies or have a fruit tray or fresh brewed coffee or water available.
  • Touch-Make sure you are up to date on dusting so that anything will pass a finger test and cover any furniture where the fabric is worn. If you have hard wood floors be sure that there are not any nails/staples or wood splinters sticking up.Use throw blankets in soft, nubby materials.



How to Buy a Home in your 20's

Millennials are often thought of as a non-committal generation, they tend to prioritize their finances and time differently than other generations but what about the ones that want a piece of home owner pie..How does someone in their 20's buy a home?

  • Look after your credit (or get some) -If you have no credit then start small and open up a credit card with a small limit and pay it off every month. If you have established credit review your credit report and keep your balances at 30% or below your credit limit. To give your credit score a boost pay all of your balances off on time and pay any other bills you may have on time.
  • Get Pre-Approved-You can get pre-approved with any lender, your home bank or a specific home lender.
  • Save for the next 6 months to a year- Save for your down payment, trim your budget down whenever you can. By changing your financial ways now, it will help you become more responsible with your money that will go into mortgage payments/repairs etc.
  • Don't forget you will need extra money for your closing costs.
  • Your mortgage payments should be no more than one-third of your take home pay.
  • Look for any down payment assistance programs available.
  • Work with a reputable Real Estate agent that you like and trust.
  • Don't buy a home that you can't afford-Being approved for a certain amount does not mean that you have to buy up to your limit. You want to be able to live comfortably and have enough money to cover ALL of your monthly bills and expenses.
  • And remember you may be giving up some financial freedom when committing to buying a home, it may mean traveling less, having nights in with friends instead of night out but it teaches you how to spend your money smarter and the interest paid on a mortgage is a tax write off, it is an investment opportunity for you and it is yours!



Renting Vs Buying

Buying a home is the biggest investment a person will make but it isn't for everyone, a lot of people are very happy with renting an apartment or home. Knowing the benefits to both can help you decide what is best long term for you


  • Buying a house is an asset to you financially, it is a great way to invest providing you and your family financial security.
  • If you do not need a 3 or 4 bedroom home with a yard then a condo or townhouse can be an affordable way to own.
  • Earn income from renting out a part of the house or the entire house.
  • Building equity, homes increase in value over time.


  • Renting can be a cheaper way to live in a bigger city.
  • By renting you have more time to save for a down payment if you decide to buy later.
  • Less expensive than owning a home as you have no repair costs/responsibilities.
  • Less commitment as a typical lease is only for 1 year.
  • Tenant Insurance is less than house Insurance.
  • When renting you do not pay property taxes.

Where you are in life and where you want to go are probably the biggest factors to be considered when deciding what is right for you long term.



Common mistakes when Buying or Selling a home and how to avoid them

Buying a home is a huge investment and takes a lot of time and energy, it's important to put the time in to research in both the buying and selling process. There are mistakes you simply do not want to make, these are the top mistakes you must avoid.

  • Not hiring a Real Estate Agent-Although hiring an agent isn't mandatory in the buying and selling process, it is a good option for an inexperienced first time buyer or seller. They are professionals with experience in dealing with laws, regulations, contracts etc. Take your time in the process and meet with a couple of different ones, this is important as you will be working closely with them and want to feel comfortable.
  • Not making necessary repairs prior to selling-You will run the risk of losing money for not taking care of repairs before your house is listed. You will end up losing more money than having done the repairs to begin with.
  • Not having a home inspection-It is very important to hire your own home inspector when purchasing a home. A thorough investigation of the entire home, plumbing, electrical, foundation etc is necessary as it will bring to light any issues in the home and save you money in the long run.
  • Leading with your emotions-Keep your emotions in check! If you cannot afford it then keep looking and move on and you will eventually move onto the perfect home for you.
  • Not reading between the lines-Make sure you read everything before you sign it and have a clear understanding of all legal documents that you are agreeing to.




Six Pricing Tricks to Sell your Home Faster

When you decide to sell your home,setting the price is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Depending on how a buyer is made aware of your home, price is often the first thing a person will look at. Many homes are discarded by prospective buyers as not being in the appropriate price range before they even have a chance of a showing. Your asking price is often the home's first impression and if you want to receive the most money you can for your home it is imperative that you make a good first impression. Setting the asking price of your property is as much knowing about how buyers think as it is about how much the property is worth.

1) Price it right-In order to set the right price, check out your competition first. A little real-estate research can be handy. Take a look at homes sold in your neighborhood and ask yourself what are they selling for? How long have they been on the market? Study the supply and demand within your neighborhood to consider whether to price your home above or below the market value. Pricing your home lower than your competitors can generate more offers and sometimes create an auction thereby driving the sales price higher. On the other hand, price it too high and you risk buyers going into sticker shock.

2) The missing penny trick-To grab the attention of potential buyers take a pricing tip from discount retailers like Walmart, for example $19.99 vs $20.00..while only a penny difference between the two the $19.99 price seems like a better deal. When people see a price they make judgements in a fraction of a second whether it is a good or bad deal and since we read from left to right the first number receives the most focus. Therefore a home listing for $199,999 will generate more attention than $200,000 because people will perceive $199,999 to be the better deal. Retailers have been using this proven strategy for a long time, make it work for you.

3) Raise the reference point-You can raise people's reference point by asking for a higher price.People use that information setting their reference point. In addition,you can affect the reference point of buyers by telling them the price of competing properties in the neighborhood. However, pass along this information only if the comparisons are in your favor. On the other hand, if you set a price that is implausibly higher, the impact will be less than if you set a price that's more reasonable.

4) Send the right message-People associate precise numbers with bargains, if a house should sell for around $300,000 then offering a round number like $295,000 will convey quality and willingness to negotiate, and choosing a higher number like $295,485 would indicate a bargain.A precise number may also signal that you have given careful consideration to the price and you aren't inclined to negotiate however you may want to use this trick with caution.

5) Setting the asking price-If your home is in a new development and you want to give the impression of prestige, go for a nicely rounded (up) price. If you are going for a quick sale and you want to give the impression of a bargain then go for a precise number.

6) Make the price cuts easy to understand-We perceive easily computable discounts as better than larger discounts. A discount from $395,485 to $385,485 might seem better than from $395,485 to $378,495. When a home has been on the market too long and very few offers have been made, the logical option is to reduce the asking price. But by how much?? The trick here is to reduce the price by a nice easy to calculate number so buyers can easily calculate their savings. The longer a house sits on a market, the less cash it commands. Use the expert tips to sell your house fast and maximize your profit.



4 Home Buying Myths Debunked

By debunking real estate myths you become more educated and informed in the buying and selling process.

1. You must use a real estate agent.

     This is a MYTH

  • There are no regulations which say that you have to use one .People will choose to "opt out" of using an agent because it saves them money on commission costs but not all costs as well, an agent really does all of the "work" for you, home searching, paperwork, negotiating prices etc.

2. Pre-approval is done after finding your dream home.

     This is a MYTH

  • You will want to know how much qualify for before you look, the last thing you will want to happen is that you find and fall in love with a home that is out of your price range.

3.  Never buy the biggest house on the street.

      This is USUALLY TRUE

  • The biggest house on the street usually is the most expensive, this can affect the appraisal and makes it's price higher than other homes in the same neighborhood.

4.  If they don't like the outside, they won't like the inside.

     This is TRUE

  • There is something to be said for curb appeal, however the exterior can be changed by adding landscaping, a door upgrade, paint etc.



4 Tips for Selling your Home Fast

1. Tidy Up-To help sell your home fast start cleaning! Clean both the inside and outside of your home top to bottom. Wash your cabinets and appliances, dust, vacuum, leave no stone unturned and make sure you do this BEFORE the listing photos are taken.

2. Professional Photos-Consider having professional listing photographs taken, with proper lighting and the right angles your home will look like it is magazine ready and will offer an unforgettable impression.

3. Be Flexible with your showings-Allow your agent to book as many showings as possible and be flexible with your time. Take your family and your pets away during showings, this makes it more comfortable for people viewing it.

4. Price it Right-Your home should be priced to compete with other homes on the market. An over priced home will sit and not get any action, no showings and no offers and as time moves on it will look undesirable.



How Important are Kitchen and Bathroom Exhaust Fans

Kitchen and Bathroom fans are an important part of your home and it's ventilation system. Good ventilation protects your home from damage by working to eliminate moisture from the air. What happens when your home has too much moisture? Well too much moisture will invite an insect infestation and can rot window sills and peel paint. Carpeting, electronic equipment and furniture can all be ruined by excess moisture. Good ventilation is good for your health, it protects you from dangerous gases like carbon monoxide, unpleasant odors and irritating pollutants. It will also help prevent the growth of mold and mildew. People spend approx 90% of their time indoors so inside can be more of a bigger health risk than the outdoors.

Ventilation supplies fresh air to your home and removes stale air, you can open your windows and let fresh air in and stale air out and by turning on the fan above the kitchen stove and in the bathroom will help remove odors and moisture. Let's look at fans starting in the bathroom, what should you look for?

Bathroom fans

  • Fan exhaust capacity is rated in litres per second (l/s) or cubic feet per minute (cfm).
  • A normal bathroom should use a fan that draws 25 L/S (50 cfm)
  • The best fans have a sound rating of 0.5 sones or less and consumes about 20 watts.
  • Keep in mind a bigger bathroom needs a bigger fan and place the fan as close as possible to the source of moisture or odor.
  • A fan that is installed where the attic is above the bathroom ceiling has to be rated for use under insulation.
  • if you choose a fan with an integrated light be sure it is efficient and that it is approved for wet conditions.
  • Look for a fan labelled quiet or low noise.

Kitchen fans

  • If you cook a lot with strong odors and steam consider a range hood with at least a 350 CFM.
  • The range hood should be as wide as the range or cook top and install a hood between 20 to 24 inches away from the cook top and 24-30 inches away from a gas cook top.
  • A ducted hood uses an aluminum filter that traps grease, odors and smoke and the aluminum mesh is easy to wash. A non duct hood uses charcoal filters to trap grease and other small molecules so they do not blow back into the kitchen. Charcoal filters are not washable and need to be replaced every few months. Some hoods have filter light indicators which will alert you when it is time to change them.
  • Look for sones ratings to find the quietest hood at normal operation levels.
  • Other options to look for: Automatic fan shut off, a heat sensor that adjusts the blower to high speed when the range detects excessive heat.



6 Tasks to book into your yearly home service calendar

Keep your home organized by booking these important tasks into your service calendar:

  • Anytime-Flush your hot water heater, buildup on the elements can cause it to function less efficiently. You can flush it out by attaching a hose to the lower outlet and run water out into your garden hose for a few minutes will help to remove sediment and deposits.
  • Monthly-Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors,You will gain safety and peace of mind by knowing your alarms are in proper working order. If they test negative then replace the batteries or if it is a hard wired alarm call for an electrician for repair.
  • Early Fall-Book a Furnace Inspection, by doing so will ensure your furnace is at full heating function and will also help reduce dust in your home during the winter months.
  • Summer-Book a Chimney Sweep, soot gets built up in the chimney as well creosote which is highly flammable gets deposited in the upper part of the chimney. A chimney sweep will help avoid a chimney fire.
  • Early Spring-Book an AC Inspection, You want it running at peak efficiency and having it serviced will clean the ducts and reduce the cost of air conditioning and provide cleaner air in your home.
  • Spring and Fall-Clean your windows inside and out and for the outside if your windows are high call a professional cleaning company. It is inexpensive and will save you time and risk of injury.