Are you trying to enter the real estate market and casually searching properties online? Somehow all the ones that you can picture yourself living in turn out to be over your budget? The ones with the perfect layouts, big kitchens and barbecue areas in the backyard are really pricey, and you’re frustrated to the max! Somewhere, there must be an awesome home in your price range that meets your needs and you’ll fall in love with even if it doesn’t have a swimming pool or the perfect backyard. You just need a plan and to stay focused on looking more closely at what is being offered in the market. A tight budget may be a bump in the road, but it can be overcome if you are determined to find your dream home. Working with a Realtor® to achieve your goals is the best possible decision that you can make. Collectively, as a team, you and your real estate professional can determine what your true needs are and whether a potential home is the right home for you. Trying to work with a tight budget and no professional assistance can lead you to make a purchase that you could well regret very quickly.

Keep reading to find out how you can best approach home buying with the money that you do have available, or the pre-approval amount that you've obtained from a lending source.

Explore Your Financial Options

As a future buyer, you have probably done your own math and have an idea of how much you believe you can afford to spend. You won’t know for certain until you obtain a mortgage pre-approval from your bank or a Mortgage Broker (if not already completed). It is a wise move to engage a real estate professional early on so that you have someone that you can work with throughout the entire process of purchasing a home. Your sales representative or real estate broker is also connected to a network of mortgage brokers that they can recommend for getting your pre-approval completed. Mortgage Brokers are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to understanding any Government-provided incentives that can benefit your cause. There are benefits that are extended to first-time homeowners and seniors. You may have family members, such as your parents, who are prepared to “gift” you with funds that can be used towards a larger down payment. Don’t lose out on every possible advantage that you can gain for yourself by using a Mortgage professional. Very seldom does “going it alone” work in your favour. Since Mortgage lenders don’t charge you for their services, why would you not seek their free advice and guidance in something as huge as a home purchase?

It is always possible that given your overall financial situation, a Mortgage Broker may not be able to obtain an adequate pre-approval from any of their lending sources. If that is the case, then you do have options for improving your situation for the future. Reducing your credit card debt is one of the most important areas that you can focus on. Pay it down as quickly as you can, and if at all possible, always pay more than the minimum payment due. In determining your ability to obtain and carry a mortgage payment, it is not just the outstanding balance that is considered. The credit limit on any card is deemed to be part of your overall debt. As a quick example – let’s assume that you have a Visa with a credit limit of $10,000 but you never have a balance that exceeds $1,000 and you are in good standing with your monthly payments. When calculating your overall debt and including that with your income and other assets and liabilities, the $10,000 limit is used in the debt calculation. Having a high credit limit is not a good thing when it comes to something like obtaining a mortgage.

The best thing you can do to bring yourself into a position where a pre-approval is possible in the future, is to lower the limit on your credit cards. If the highest you ever go is $1000 then make your limit $1500. If you never have more on a credit card than $400, ask the card company to lower your limit to $500. By taking this step, you have greatly reduced how the industry determines your overall debt load. If you are really determined, try giving up dinners out, movies, vacations and other non-necessary expenses so that you can put that money into a savings account and watch it grow towards a significant down payment.  When it comes to purchasing a home, you will need to have a minimum 5% of the purchase price as your down payment. It can take some time to get the money accumulated, and it won’t be easy to live in ultra-saving mode for quite some time, but once you have the keys to that home in your hands you will realize it was worth every sacrifice you had to make.

Distinguish Between Wants And Needs

What are the features you must have in your new home? Maybe you are dreaming of a 3 car garage or an inground swimming pool, but it’s way more important to have a functional home that is within your budget. The last thing that you need, and the last thing that your Realtor® wants, is for you to be house poor because you were over-extended.

The footprint of the home is something that you might be able to have changed later. Sometimes you can obtain a by-law approval to either increase the foundation size or to allow you to build up (creating an additional floor). However, the one thing that you cannot change in any home that you select is the location!

Don’t compromise on everything or you will become unhappy with your new home over time. If a small kitchen is something that really upsets you, then make sure that your Realtor® understands that and is focused on showing you houses that have medium-large kitchens. The same goes for the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. If you have a growing family and you must have a minimum of 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms, then don’t compromise on those aspects of a home. The key to finding the home that speaks to you, lies in obtaining an adequate Mortgage pre-approval and working with a dedicated Realtor® who understands your needs and your wants. It is possible, to get everything on your list, if you are realistic and work closely as a team.

See Past The Imperfections

Not all homes that you will view during an Open House or be shown by your Realtor® will be up to your standards. Some sellers take great pride in presenting their homes in a way that buyers will appreciate. But there are also those sellers who don’t go the extra steps to make repairs or perform much needed updates and just want to sell their house “as is”. Be open to change. Repainting the interior of a home is the easiest thing you can do to put your touch and personality into it. Perhaps the carpet is old, you can look into inexpensive laminate or a new carpet. Just remember that under the “make up” there may be a natural beauty. As you’re looking at potential homes, you need to be able to look beyond aesthetic flaws. Focus on the size, the number of rooms, the overall layout and not on the overfilled closets, dusty vanity cabinets or outdated furniture. Your real estate professional will be there to make sure that you understand when a home is a money pit versus a good to great house that might just need some elbow grease and your loving touch.

Be Patient And Be Prepared To Listen

Real estate professionals help first-time homebuyers, repeat buyers and sellers, investors and seniors on a regular basis.  They are a wealth of knowledge and can offer you so much assistance that is just based on past experience. Together, you need to form a close relationship where everyone is working towards the same common goal – to find you a home that meets your needs within your budget. The first time around, it most likely won’t be your “dream” home, but it can easily be a huge step to getting you to that point down the road. 


The majority of people have removed all their decorations and holiday items by mid-January, but decluttering after the holidays involves more than just removing the Christmas tree and getting rid of the leftovers in the fridge. Even if you are done with cleaning and back to what you consider “normal”, it’s worth checking one more time to make sure everything is in order. Have you really holiday-decluttered your home or did you just randomly toss things into the back of your closet where you can’t see them?

Getting presents for Christmas is big fun, but it happens too often that you or a family member gets three pairs of pajamas or slippers or way too many toys. After Christmas, you have to figure out where to put everything. Keep it or throw it out? There are several options, but hoarding is not one of them! If you like one of the new pj’s, you should get rid of some of your older ones. Don’t forget that you can always donate used clothing rather than tossing them into the garbage. The same goes for kids’ toys; you should at least donate or throw out some of the old ones to make room for the new ones. Ah yes, and don’t forget about those stuffed pet chew toys.

Decorations And Ornaments
You’ve probably already taken out the tree and put away the decorations, but have you checked if the ornaments are good to go for next year? Spend an extra hour to separate the holiday deco that is still usable from the ones that are completely worn out. String lights that don’t work anymore and broken ornaments or figurines should be tossed away. Items you decide to keep should be put neatly and safely into a storage container. You’ll thank yourself next year when you find it all organized in one place.

The fridge has likely been cleaned out by now and you have probably dealt with loads of dishes, but deep cleaning the kitchen after the holidays is a must. You should clean all of the kitchen appliances from the stove to the toaster. Don’t forget the kitchen cabinets.

The Guest Room
The guest room is probably one of the areas that gets left for “later” since you don’t spend time in that room on a daily basis. But that’s exactly how you could forget about it completely. If you had family over for the holidays and you didn’t get to clean the room, now is the time before it totally slips your mind. Wash and fold the bed sheets and linens and give the surface areas a good dusting. After all, you never know when someone is going to pay you a surprise visit. 

Deep Cleaning
Your furniture and carpets may need a deep cleaning as well, especially if you hosted a couple of parties during the holiday season. Wash your drapes and cushions too - even if they seem clean, they tend to absorb unpleasant odors.


Purchasing a home without having your own real estate representative can be a very risky and costly decision. Contracting with a skilled buyer representative will certainly make it easier and less stressful on you when it comes to avoiding the pitfalls and minimizing the risks that can be associated with buying a home. A buyer representative will work with you to select homes that meet your specific wants and needs and will arrange for you to visit those properties that you would like to view. Your representative will walk you through the entire process step by step until you have finalized the buying transaction.

Once you have concluded the actual purchase requirements, you will then work with your lawyer to complete the final steps of closing on your new home. How are buyers supposed to know what happens during the transaction and what are the duties of their buyer representative in the whole process? Not all agents/brokers are the same, and they may employ different strategies, but every buyer representative should always have your best interests at the forefront and that means covering basic functions and duties.

The First Meeting

The initial meeting that you have with your buyer representative will be mainly focused on your speaking and the representative listening. You need to feel comfortable in sharing all of your ideas, your needs/wants and your “like to haves”. If a big yard is a must-have, then make that known so that you don’t end up viewing houses that don’t match that criteria. Once you and your representative are both happy with your list of what would be the ideal house for you, you should spend time discussing how the current market is reacting, the level of inventory available for your specific searches and what you can expect during the entire buying process.

How Much House Can You Afford?

One of the challenging tasks is to bring in line your budget and what you can afford that match best with your wants and needs. In order to ensure that you don’t become “house poor” or that you spend time and emotion viewing houses that are not within your means, you should have a mortgage pre-approval before beginning the buying process. This means meeting with a mortgage lender who will determine how much you can afford to spend on a monthly mortgage based on your income and current debt load.

Once you have a qualified pre-approval amount, the whole searching dynamic becomes so much more relaxed because you and your representative know exactly the maximum amount that you are able to spend. Being armed with this mortgage spending information, allows your buyer representative to search for criteria-matching homes that fall within your pre-approval limitation. There is no point in having a representative who is going to waste your time, gas money, etc. by taking you to see houses that you can’t possibly afford to purchase.

Is It The Right Neighbourhood For You?

Location can be one of the critical factors when it comes to deciding on the purchase of a home. Your buyer representative should be equipped with the necessary information to fill you in on all of the aspects related to each community. They should be able to tell you where you can find the nearest and the best schools, or daycare facilities, how far it is to the nearest public transit point, inform you on nearby shopping areas and a host of other amenities (health clubs, walk-in clinics, etc.).

Let’s Go Look At Some Houses!

Once you start actively looking for houses, your buyer representative will take care of booking showing times. Your representative will, and must, always accompany you to all homes that you’d like to view. Touring the home gives you the opportunity to ask questions of your representative that might not be noticeable by just looking.  These would be items like “how long ago was the roof redone?”, “how old is the furnace?”, “is the hot water tank a rental?”, etc.

You Found The One. Now Let’s Prepare An Offer!

After viewing a number of homes, you will likely find one that meets your needs and stands out above all the rest that you visited. You’ve picked the one you want. Next step?..your buyer representative, with your assistance and input, will put together an offer to purchase.  Remember, you are the buyer and you do not have to pay exactly what the seller is asking, you also have the right to request a home inspection before you finalize your offer and firm up the sale. You have an opportunity to ask for the inclusion of appliances, or other items in the home that you require or would like to have. Of course, the seller also has the right to not approve all of your requests.

When it comes to the price that you want to pay, you will find that you might have to go back and forth with the seller to get an agreement in place that is acceptable to both parties. Your buyer representative should be skilled at knowing how to negotiate on your behalf for the best deal possible.

Don’t Fall Off The Tracks!

Your offer has been accepted and you are now in what is known as “sold firm” status.  This means your financing has been approved, and if you requested a home inspection, the results were acceptable to you. Your buyer representative will stay on top of things for you to make sure that all is moving smoothly. It is very important for you to understand the impact your spending can have on your approved financing. Your approval was based on your income and debts. Do NOT start buying new furniture on credit cards, or applying for new credit cards, or financing a new vehicle, or anything of that nature. Should you do so, when it comes to the final stage of closing on your deal, the lender may determine that you’ve increased your debt load to a level where they can no longer provide the same total amount for your purchase.
Do You Like Free?

Hiring a buyer representative means that you will pay nothing for the services that they provide to you. Their compensation is arranged with the selling parties. So you have someone who understands what you want, helps find the house of your dreams, completes all the necessary paperwork, monitors the deal every step of the way, and makes sure that at closing date there are no surprises.  And it’s FREE??? betcha!  That’s pretty hard to beat, isn’t it?


*Not intended to solicit buyers or sellers currently under contract.*


Many people decide to downsize at different stages of their lives but how do you know when it’s really the right time for YOU?

The most common reason in today’s climate is generally related to retirement, but downsizing is not specific to retirement nor is retiring the only reason that you may consider downsizing. At points in time, people may just realize that their home is simply too large and that it has become too much of a time-consuming struggle to maintain. In other situations, some homeowners discover that their house represents much more of a financial burden than they were anticipating or can currently handle. They would rather move in to a new home with lower mortgage and utility payments than live with the fear of being “house poor” and not being able to make ends meet. The end of a marriage/relationship is also one of the reasons that downsizing becomes an option of choice. Less people in the home will generally equate to less space required.


After all of those hard-working years and raising your family, you have reached that golden stage known as “retirement”. Perhaps you got to that point through attaining a certain age, number of years of service, or your employer decided to offer you a lucrative “get out of jail now” card. There are several “hints” that will help you to see if it really is time to look for a smaller place that requires less attention and allows you to enjoy your freedom. However, the emotional ties you have to your home and all the wonderful memories you associate with it, can make you hesitant to consider any change. Downsizing can be a hard decision to make but there are plenty of positives associated with taking that journey. You can look forward to having more leisure time, more money since maintenance and utilities will generally be less, and you can plan for vacations and spontaneous getaways. Retirement downsizing can be a wonderful new adventure in your lives.   

Financial Restrictions

Downsizing is an excellent decision if you find that your current home is a heavy financial burden and you are finding it difficult to just make ends meet.  Homeowners who are faced with a reduction in salary or the loss of a job will often find that downsizing is required in order to keep on top of things and still maintain a lifestyle that meets the family’s needs.  Should you find yourself thinking about re-mortgaging your house, taking funds from your RRSP, or other investment accounts, just to be able to pay the bills then you should seriously be considering a downsize move.
Medical Restrictions

We hardly ever plan for something to go medically wrong with ourselves, our partners or other members of the household.  However, it’s a fact of life that this does happen at times. Medical conditions can result in a loss of, or limited mobility, which makes it very difficult to maneuver through the home. This is especially true if your house is a multi-level structure. You could consider investing in construction changes that make it less difficult to get around but quite often in these unfortunate situations, moving to a single level dwelling, like a bungalow, becomes the best and most cost effective solution.

Space Overload

You are getting that feeling that it’s almost impossible to keep up with the daily chores, interior and exterior maintenance, and have energy left to eat dinner? This is a good indication that you are probably ready to adjust your living arrangements and consider adapting to a simpler lifestyle. Too much extra space and too much “stuff” are pretty clear indicators that you might be ready for that change. If you have several rooms which only seem to collect dust, it can be a sign that you have more space than you need. If you have random stuff laying around and it takes an eternity to find an item, downsizing could be your answer. 


Downsizing is not always the solution for any, or all, of the situations in this article. It is sometimes just too difficult for people to let go of what has become their “life”.  They can’t see themselves moving, let alone going through the process of finding another home, packing,  unpacking and basically starting over again.
Once you’ve made the decision to sell and look for another home, your real estate agent should be there every step of the way from listing your current home, searching with you for a new home and making sure that you have all the connections that you need to move forward in the most stress-free manner possible. There is no doubt this is a huge undertaking BUT take comfort in knowing that there are companies out there that will work with you to develop a transition plan that includes purging unneeded items, connecting you with movers, contractors and other professional services. Make sure that YOUR real estate agent is working towards introducing you to all of these services that can make your move a journey to look forward to rather than something that causes you worry, dread and sleepless nights.

Downsizing can be a beautiful, transforming part of your life. Embrace it when your time comes and approach it with a “go get ‘em” attitude!


Staging your home can contribute greatly to giving a potential buyer that “wow, pick me!” feeling. However, it is not a requirement or necessary for many homeowners. Think about it. Your house is already “staged.” It’s staged according to your personal tastes and how you’ve decided to display your furniture, personal belongings, artwork, etc. While your current home environment may not reflect all of the positive attributes of your property, for you it’s comfortable, functional and just what you need. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your house is in prime showing condition or that it will appeal to buyers.  So let’s get it there!

Staging Made Simple (aka – Staging 101)

Staging can be very simple and at low (or no) cost. Some experienced real estate agents have developed a knack for being able to perform staging functions. They are able to rearrange furniture, provide guidance on what items to put out of sight or in storage, and how to make the best possible buyer impression with the materials available.

You can be the Quarterback in staging your own home, while your selling agent acts as your coach and/or manager.  The Do It Yourself (DIY) staging approach consists of a number of elements that are so basic and common day that you probably wouldn’t even think of them in terms of staging.


We all accumulate knickknacks throughout the years. And we generally want to put them on display to admire and share with visitors. When selling your home, these “treasures” are just seen as "lots of stuff" to a potential buyer and it takes their attention away from the true appearance of your house. Pack up and store as many of those knickknacks as you can possibly part with during the selling process. Keep things neat and organized.

Toys, whether for small humans or furry family members, can be a distraction or a safety hazard. Find a convenient storage area where the items can easily be put away and taken out again as needed.

Remove personal pictures that may be standing on every table or hanging on every wall.  It’s ok to keep a few non-identifying ones in view, but again remember your purpose here.  The bottom line is to get the house sold and if a potential buyer feels like they are coming to visit your family, they aren’t going to be your buyer. They have to be able to envision their family and their possessions in the house.

Put the effort into making your home as clean as possible. No matter how old the appliances are, try to make them shine. Your bathroom counters, sink, tub/shower and toilet should sparkle. Don’t forget to remove that nasty toothpaste spit from the mirrors. Hang towels in an even manner and make sure there is always lots of toilet paper on the roll.

Have a laundry hamper? Use it! Get every item of clothes off the floor. If it’s not dirty and just folded in a pile, put the pile away or hang the items in the closet. “Shoe farm awaits you” does NOT make for a good marketing campaign. Put the shoes back in the closets or organize them on a shoe rack that can be placed in a less noticeable area.

Dust, dust and re-dust. It is impossible to not have tabletops, counters, artwork, etc accumulate dust and it happens daily.

Carpets should be freshly vacuumed. If the carpet has been there for some time and has seen significant traffic between family, visitors, and pets then invest in either renting a carpet cleaner or hiring a professional to do the job. Laminate/hardwood floors should be moped and tile flooring should be washed. This is just a brief list of the activities you can perform to keep your house clean each and every day. These “little things” can go a long way when you’re trying to sell your home.

What’s That Smell?
A potential buyer walks up to your front door, loves the landscaping and can’t wait for their agent to get the door open. One foot in inside and “wham” they are overcome by a very overpowering, unpleasant odour. If you have cats and carpeting, there is a very good chance that your house will smell like cat urine to your visitors. You don’t notice it because you are with it every day. Trust me, please – others will notice. This is when you call in a professional carpet cleaner who specializes in deodorizing such smells. Burning candles are no match for pet stink.

The smell of cigarette smoke in a home is right at the top of the list with cat urine. Take to smoking outside immediately and bring in that professional to rid your home of that nasty nose demon.

No pets? Non-smokers? No excuse! You should still pay attention to the smell in your house. Not everyone enjoys the same types of food and especially those that are cooked on the somewhat spicy side. This is where you can add some additional and welcoming smells. Slice up some apples, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake in the oven. Burn a soft vanilla or clean linen scented candle. Bake cookies. Let your imagination run wild, just be sure to keep it on the soft side.  Whatever you decide to do to add a pleasant scent to your home, just make sure you don’t go over the top.

Furniture Placement
You need to focus on making sure that there isn’t too much furniture in a specific room. This, of course, goes along with the idea of decluttering. Do you need two wall units in the dining room?...probably not. Be prepared to eliminate some pieces of furniture and other items in order to make rooms appear larger and more organized. Perhaps some rooms are a little more sparse and you can relocate items to those areas of the house. This is where your selling agent can be a huge asset to getting your home ready for sale. Selling and buying agents have seen every type of house you can imagine, good and bad. They know what works to create interest and what causes visitors to walk (or run) away.

Flip On The Light
Pull back those drapes, open up the blinds and let the sun shine through. Natural light is ranked very high on the list of what appeals to a buyer. No one wants to live in a house that requires all light fixtures to be turned on just to find your way around.

Buyers will visit on overcast and rainy days.  They will make appointments for late afternoon and evenings. Make sure that every single light bulb and switch is working. When a bulb burns out, replace it immediately. This also applies to the outside of your house. Make sure you light the path to the front door for anyone coming to see your home.
Professional Staging

Professional staging can turn your home into a show piece. The companies that perform this service do a fabulous job, but they don’t do it for free. Staging in this manner can become very expensive depending on the size of your home and to what extent you are willing to go in the staging process. Staging experts are able to provide all the furnishings for a complete “make over” of your home. If you elect to go that route and decide to stage your entire three bedroom home, you could be looking at thousands of dollars per month.

Professional stagers have everything from dishes, to pillows, to full bedroom sets. You need to keep in mind that if you are going to use the services of a stager for a portion or all of your home, you are going to need to put your current belongings in a temporary and safe location.

Professional staging can be ideal if the house you are trying to sell is vacant. This type of property gives the stagers a blank canvass to work with and can make all the difference in getting the house sold as quickly as possible.  
When your house is professionally staged, you might feel like you’re living in a showroom. Homeowners quite often comment on how they have to walk on tiptoes or eggshells while the house is still on the market. It is not easy to live in this type of environment where you are afraid of sitting in the comfy chair or touching anything on display for fear of getting it dirty or broken. This can be especially stressful and frustrating if you have children or pets that you feel need to be watched constantly in order to protect the “showroom.” Your life can get back to a more normal state once you have an accepted offer from a buyer. Once the house is sold, you have no need for more visitors and you will have no need for the professional staging items. You will be able to rearrange your own belongings and eliminate the staging costs.

Professional staging may seem like an unnecessary expense to some sellers, but just keep in mind that statistics show that it helps sell a home faster and at a higher price. It has the potential to drive up the purchase price by 5% to 10% which means that you could recover your expense once the house is sold.

*Not intended to solicit clients currently under contract*


Are you a current seller who feels that your home has been on the market longer than you ever expected? Perhaps it is time to rethink your selling strategy and spend some time with your listing agent discussing the situation and possible changes to increase the salability of your property. Before we look at some factors that contribute to the length of time that a home might end up being listed for sale, let’s first visit the overall Real Estate market and how it has changed in the past 10+ months.

The early part of 2017 saw record high selling prices. Why was that? Simple economics of supply and demand. The inventory was extremely low and the buyer “pool” was very full. Stated another way – there were very few houses for sale in a market where there was a large volume of buyers looking to purchase. This resulted in most sales having multiple offers and what tends to be referred to as “bidding wars.” For every house available, there were 40 or more buyers who were willing to fight to obtain that property. The situation lasted until Easter weekend when the “wave” crashed. Some sellers thought that they could still make a huge profit by dressing up their homes and putting them on the market – but they were too late by then. At the same time, buyers decided they weren’t going to fight anymore. Some buyers started looking outside of Durham Region and the GTA while others entered into lease agreements to put off purchasing for a year or more. Result? – Total reversal of the market. Now we find that we have a surplus of houses for sale and fewer people who are looking to purchase. Buyers have the luxury of choice now and don’t need to scramble for a home. You need to make sure you are positioned to be on the list of their choices.

Is Your House Priced Right For Today's Market?

Listing price should always be determined by the current market situation. As we’ve all heard before, “something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.” You should not be listing your home for a price that greatly exceeds what similar homes have recently sold for in your area. There are still homeowners who believe that they can ride the “wave” that no longer exists and will put a highly inflated price on their house. The surf is out, the wave is gone, and the market has changed!

Price is usually the number ONE reason that a house is sitting on the market for too long. The longer it sits, the worse it will get. Your listing will either become “stale” and all traffic for showings will stop or you will be forced to do a price reduction if you are determined to sell. Work closely with your listing agent when you are initially setting a purchase price for your house. Your agent should be using data from comparable homes that have sold in the past 30 days (60 days at the most). Pricing to sell in this manner ensures that buyers are willing to purchase because the historical sold data supports this position. Be realistic with your initial price and you are likely to be successful.


Location is also one of the primary factors that play a key role in trying to sell your home. Location is not something that you can change, so you need to be sure that the listing price is reflective of your property’s location. If you live near a city center, close to schools, near a number of popular amenities (such as shopping and movie theatres), medical facilities, golf course, etc. then you have a much higher chance of selling at a price that is acceptable to you. However, if you live on a very busy street or a significant distance to any amenities, you and your listing agent need to take that into account when looking at the comparable data and setting a realistic purchase price.


You need to give great consideration to the overall condition of your home before putting the house on the market. Make sure that your house is in a saleable condition, and that a new buyer won’t be faced with having to replace a furnace, air conditioning or other major components. Ensuring that primary items are already in great shape will allow you to price at a higher level than if you leave these things for a new buyer to handle. The majority of buyers want a move-in ready home. You can always leave the house in “as is” condition knowing that repairs will be needed, but you will have to price accordingly. The condition of your home, when seen through the eyes of a potential buyer, is not limited to the exterior of the actual building or the interior of the layout. What is known as “curb appeal” is a huge part of what makes up the overall impression of the property. If the landscaping is overgrown and unsightly or the driveway is full of pot holes and cracks, that’s enough for people to just drive by the “For Sale” sign and not bother to follow up with an agent. The outside of your home should be a reflection of what awaits the buyer when they enter the premises.


Right price, good location and move-in ready condition will almost always get a house sold in a realistic amount of time.

*Not intended to solicit clients currently under contract*


It is no surprise to anyone to hear that house prices have reached an all-time high.  You hear it every day - "the house market in Durham Region is crazy!".  And it's true.  All you need to do is look at a sale that took place in Oshawa last night.

The house is a bungalow, with finished basement, located in the Lakeview area.  It was built in 1960.  The property was listed on Thursday, February 9th with offers being accepted for presentation/delivery on February 15th.  Positioning the sale in this manner, is intended to bring about a bidding war with as many offers as possible, ensuring that the final purchase price will be as high as the buyers will go.  In this particular case, there were 40 offers presented on this house.  That's 40 buyers who wanted the same piece of real estate.

And the end result?  See for yourself.....

SOLD PRICE:  $602,000
LIST PRICE:    $375,000

Price Differential: 161%

Yes, the market is pretty crazy.  There is bare bones inventory out there - just over 400 listed properties in MLS in Durham Region.  Few houses for sale, loads of buyers looking.  It's definitely a Seller's dream market!


The season is upon us again where getting together with family and friends can mean packing up and leaving town. A false sense of security can lead to heart-breaking events. Do not assume that you are immune from home invasions or unexpected accidents. It is important to take precautions in order to protect what you have worked so hard to obtain. The following is a list of actions that you can take to help secure your home while you are away:


  • Let a close neighbour know where you are going, how to contact you and when you expect to return. Provide them with access to a key.
  • Put a vacation hold on all newspaper deliveries or arrange for a neighbour to promptly pick-up anything outside your front door.?
  • Invest in a couple of timing switches that will have lamps come on at pre-specified times of the evenings and nights.?
  • If you have a security system, make sure that it is activated. Don’t forget to provide instructions to the neighbour or other designate. (*)
  • Ensure that all smoke detectors are equipped with fresh batteries.
  • Check, double-check and triple-check that all appliances are off and all doors and windows are locked.


Now, off you go on vacation, knowing that you have taken the precautionary steps that will allow you to relax and enjoy the holiday season.

(*) If you do not currently have a home security system, and are interested in seeing which ones are available and how they stack up against each other, this link can be very useful.

Some insurance companies may require that certain items be tested, upgraded, and/or replaced before they will issue or renew coverage under a homeowners insurance policy. A couple of the areas that are of concern are wood-burning stoves and fuel oil tanks.

Wood-burning stoves can pose a serious fire hazard if improperly installed or used incorrectly. To mitigate any potential risk, your insurance company may ask that the stove be inspected by a certified Wood Energy Technical Training (WETT) technician and certified by the Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC), Canadian Standard Association (CSA) before providing coverage.

Fuel oil tanks that are 25 years or older are highly susceptible to rusting, deterioration and leakage and are considered environmental hazards. Should a leak occur and not be detected, the cost of the cleanup can be huge. A leak as small as a pinhole can spill 750 litres of oil in eight hours and cost up to $15,000 to remedy. To obtain coverage from the insurance company, you may be required to replace an older fuel oil tank with a gas or electrical furnace.

Owners or buyers of older homes should be aware of these issues and be prepared to invest in changes required by insurance companies.


Aluminum wiring was used extensively in homes that were built in the 1965 to 1976 timeframe. It was the wiring of builder-choice due to the significant savings when compared to the cost of using copper. When a number of fires occurred in houses that were built with aluminum wiring, the public and some industries were quick to place the blame on the aluminum. Builders embraced copper as the standard wiring for homes that were being built in the later part of the 70s. Then in the 1990’s, aluminum wiring reappeared on the scene in some newer homes.

Why did builders go back to aluminum wiring in the last 20 years? Simple. Aluminum wiring IS safe. The problem was never the quality of the aluminum wiring. The issues stemmed from the connection points of the installation. When aluminum wiring was first used, the connection points on electrical equipment such as panel breakers, light switches and receptacles had copper terminations. Aluminum and copper expand and contract differently when placed under electrical load. As a result, connections became loose which then created sparking, arcing and a build up of heat. These factors made it possible for a fire to occur if the problem continued undetected.

Major improvements have been made in the wiring and electrical industries over the past 40+ years. However, the problems from the previous years left an impact with insurance companies, homeowners and consumers. Aluminum wiring still carries a negative stigma for many people, buyers being a large portion of this group. Some insurance companies, to this day, will refuse to issue policies to purchasers of these older homes unless the safety of the installation can be supported.

The best proactive step that a homeowner can take, for ensuring that the aluminum wiring installation is safe, is to have an electrical inspection performed by a qualified professional. This licensed electrical contractor should be knowledgeable in the techniques for repairing and working with aluminum wiring. Based on the findings of the electrical contractor, an assessment is created and any necessary repairs should be undertaken. Once the contractor is satisfied with the wiring implementation, they will submit a request to the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA)to have a final inspection completed. The ESA will issue a Certificate of Inspection, when they have confirmed that the wiring meets the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. Homeowners should request that they receive a copy of the ESA Certificate of Inspection and ensure that this is placed in a safe location. The ESA certificate is an invaluable document—not only for your peace of mind, but for any buyers of your property should you decide to sell in the future.

For additional information on ESA, please visit