Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembrance Day...Lest We Forget

As a young boy I can remember going to Sunnybrook Veterans hospital to visit my Dad who constantly seemed to be having an "operation" to relieve the pain from his war wounds. At the time it was hard for me and my 3 brothers to understand why my father was in so much pain, always took prescribed drugs, or seldom was able to play ball with us. Hockey and golf were out of the question. He had served in France, survived Dunkirk. Then commando trained in Scotland while everyone waited for the invasion that was to come. Dispatched to North Africa to join the battle against Rommel. My father never really talked about what happened, until near his death. History tells us that the battle of El Alamein was a great victory for the Allied forces. There were 12 days of fierce fighting from late October to early November 1942. Casualties were high and the victory was significant. Churchill was to say, "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.
That victory for my dad meant: capture, escape, and a life filled by 38 operations in an attempt to stop the constant pain, plus his final battle with Melanoma. There was no such thing as sun bloc in those days for the fair haired boys in the tropic sun.
Diagnosed as terminal my dad called me and we spoke about how he would like to die and be remembered. He asked that he not be kept alive if he was not able to think and reason. He said to me ' I am at peace with my God and myself. When the time comes... lets me go." When I asked what he meant by "at peace" he told me that war is hell and although he had suffered all of his adult life he was able to see his four boys grow up...but because of his actions many men never don't take prisoners when you are behind enemy lines blowing up fuel depots and poisoning watering holes...everything dies. I cannot begin to image the frequent nightmares my father had....He asked me to maintain a membership in the legion and to honour all soldiers from all wars. He wrote on his final note to me "We fought so you could live in freedom."
Thank you Dad and thank you to all those who choose to serve in our armed forces.
On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour take 2 minutes to say thanks. For although they may be gone they are not forgotten. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

You Were Asking: Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Spring is around the corner.  Yes, yes, it is as in real estate terms, it actually starts in January!  Making a checklist will ensure you get into every nook and cranny in your home. Don't forget these jobs.
  1. Turn your air conditioning on to make sure it works before the first summer heat wave. Make sure your thermostat is working. Clean heating and air conditioning ducts at least every five years; more if you are a smoker or have pets. Germs and bacteria can build up over time and affect your indoor air quality.
  2. Check your roof. Our Canadian winters can be hard on them. Replace any missing or torn shingles and fix any nails that may have come up.
  3. Get your chimney ready for summer. Cuddling in front of a roaring fire isn't normally a summer activity. Cover your chimney with a wire screen or cloth to keep out leaves and debris. It will also keep animals and birds from taking up residence there.
  4. Clean out your gutters (a perennial home owners favourite, I know). A lot of debris can build up and cause water to overflow and possibly do damage.
  5. Fix any loose or missing pieces of siding and replace if necessary.
  6. Swap storm windows for screens. This will allow you to open windows to allow summer breezes in without insects too.
  7. Plant a tree. It's good for the environment, adds character to your landscape, brightens your yard and can increase the value of your home.

 If you need help or are too busy to do your spring cleaning by yourself, hire someone else to do it for you. Many students are looking for extra prom cash at this time of year.

If you're looking for recommendations on anything home related, we have a great Business Directory, for all your needs!  Find it on our website at Business Directory!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Be thankful for what you have;
you'll end up having more.

If you concentrate on what you don't have,
you will never, ever have enough."

- Oprah Winfrey

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Market Update: Market Conditions and Winter Forecast

Market Conditions and Winter Forecast

So finally, finally, the banks are stepping in and basing their approvals more stringently on appraisals.  While this may seem a negative, any career realtor will tell you ‘it’s about time’.  Competitive bidding at a frenzy, this market has been anything but fun.  With each sale becomes a new bench mark to set.  The challenge is, what happens when rates rise?  Will you be able to afford an increased mortgage payment amidst energy cost increases?  Keeping two cars on the road, property taxes, a new mortgage and the myriad of home ownership related bills a first timer encounters is difficult at the best of times.  What we realtors have a tough time doing is predicting what might happen.  Due diligence is key. Home inspectors have been on speed dial for a while now, but, throughout this market it has been commonplace to witness a home inspection being conducted while individual showings continue.  How does a buyer get a leg up in competition?  And what if Ontario follows Vancouver’s lead in implementing a foreign buyer tax?  Will that help slow things down, or will it hurt the middle class buyer?  The higher end sales did start to taper mid-summer and that really helps to consider and make an informed decision rather than rushing into a hasty purchase on such a big ticket item.  Forecasting into the winter months and impending Spring market is exceedingly difficult as we are not seeing a break in demand.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The SUMMER 2016 Newsletter is here!

You Were Asking: From Your Cleaning Professional

From Your Cleaning Professional

Hiring someone to clean is just plain smart. For one thing, think of it as an investment in your home. Many people ask a realtor what they should do to prepare their home for the market. One of the very first things out of our mouths is....Clean, Clean, Clean. Seems simple enough, but, not as easily accomplished when we are all running 24/7. So, invest over time in someone who can at least keep things in check, rather than making this your barrier to listing your home! Ok, so, that is how I actually resigned myself to hiring someone to clean my own home so I asked my new best friend what else was on her pet peeve list. The list was, well, obvious, but, a little humbling too. Clutter....she said...get rid of it! It makes it far too hard for someone to clean around your stuff and really, do you need all the junk? Give it away, sell it, but, rid your home of it! 

Next up? Dead plants. Yikes! I have what I affectionately call "Death Row". Well, morbid, but, can't keep a plant alive to save my life. I can kill a cactus like no-one's business. So, I promised to ditch them before my next cleaning. 

What next, I asked sheepishly? Dusty toiletries, she replied matter of factly. Ok, got that in check. I'm not much into the foofy TP paper doily stuffy, so, good there. But, yes, I'd agree. I've seem far too many faded flower arrangements collecting dust in powder rooms. Really guys, they've kind of had their day in the sun, if you will.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Market Update: Market Conditions and Fall Forecast

Market Conditions and Fall Forecast

We never really saw a break this year with the spring market evolving pretty seamlessly into the summer.  There was the natural lull for that quick two week period where parents were caught up in the school year ending, which always means vacation mode in those first two weeks of July, but, then, things resumed.  The banks finally started putting a little more pressure on financing come end of July.  That’s a good thing really as the bidding wars certainly have pushed pricing to new limits.  Our average sale in Burlington in June was $682,258 with every neighbourhood reaching all time highs.  The only area that suffered any shelf life was Area 38 sitting on the fringe of the City.  The Hamilton market enjoyed similar activity with price ratios over 100% in every neighbourhood. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Sellers Were Asking: The Price is Right

The Price is Right

Price is one of the first variables most potential buyers look at when searching for a home so, it’s not surprising that pricing right is of the utmost importance when introducing your home to a competitive marketplace. 

Many homes are simply not looked at if they are not in their correct price range. While it’s crucial to take the prices of homes recently sold or actively for sale in your immediate neighbourhood into account, it’s also wise to honestly assess your home’s condition to those same comparable properties. 

Buyers will choose the best home at the best price they can get. It is unwise to overprice a home, assuming a higher asking price will fetch a higher selling price. Although, if your home has been updated and is in superior condition to the homes it is competing with, go for it! 

By the time an overpriced home is lowered to market value, the home may have been for sale too long, and receive less than desirable attention. Or, in the worst case scenario, the listing will expire and the home will remain unsold. 

On the other hand, a home priced below market value will sell too quickly and may receive multiple offers, but risk leaving thousands on the table and not in the seller’s pocket. Most correctly priced homes will sell in a reasonable amount of time and get close to the asking price. 

Thinking of Selling?  Not sure where your home would be priced in today's market?  Reach out for a complementary assessment here.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sellers Were Asking: Why Should I List With You?

Why Should I List With You?

Realtors are always happy to review their services with prospective sellers. Although it is best to discuss these one-on-one, the following will prepare you for an initial interview. 

  • Visit your home and take notes on the size, condition, and neighbourhood. 
  • Together, we will establish a price for your home in relation to the comparative neighbourhood home values (based, in part, on the sale prices of these properties). Also, price considerations are determined by the flow of buyers through the marketplace and the pressures of current financing.
  • Prepare and discuss a marketing plan for your home. Since every home has its own unique characteristics, talking with you and finding out what first attracted you to the home is often what will again sell it. All plans will evolve as the marketing process begins. 
  • Coordinate the efforts of all those involved in the sale; you, lawyers, lenders, insurers, building inspectors, surveyors and movers. 
  • Thoroughly explain the same process. In any profession, there is industry jargon that sometimes appears to be meant to confuse, not simplify. When an offer is brought in, we will sit down and discuss it completely. By this I mean, what are all your options? How will negotiation techniques affect the outcome? Have your objectives changed since we first discussed our marketing strategy?
If we might be able to help, please reach out, or 905-631-6363.

Thinking of buying?  Please visit the For Buyers section on our website for a breakdown of the process!  

Thinking of selling?  Please visit the For Sellers section on our website for a breakdown of the process!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sellers Were Asking: But We Have a Pool!


Most people hold firm to the belief that owning a home with a pool ensures sale ability. Now is the time of year to capitalize on this asset. You’ve opened it, and now that school is almost out, the kids are begging you not to sell the house. You’re likely wondering if it’s such a good idea too, after all, it is closing in on summer and you’re all enjoying this new form of fun in the sun. So... what do you do? Don’t pull the home off the market. First of all, you’re likely not going to complete the transaction for at least 30 to 60 days, that’s still a few months away. You still have lots of time to enjoy the pool. Spend some time ‘dressing up’ the pool area. Frequent nurseries to find large house plants on sale for the corners of the deck or pool area. Take pictures of your family enjoying the pool and display them in the kitchen so that prospective purchasers can visualize entertaining in your back yard. Check your equipment for disrepair. If anything needs replacing or fixing, attend to it right away. If your skimmers look weather beaten and in poor shape a prospective buyer may assume the pool is in disrepair as well. Paint chain link fencing around a pool area to achieve a clean look. Ensure locks are on and the area is secure. For those of you who wish to purchase a home with a pool, either leave your children at home or ensure you have a firm grip on them while viewing the pool area. It only takes a few seconds for a child to slip into the water. 

As always, we're here to help as questions arise...Just Ask!

Friday, May 13, 2016

You Were Asking: Buying & Selling


It’s quite natural to wish to sell high and buy low. But, unless you are selling in a flourishing market and then awaiting market conditions to change to favour a buyer, that’s not likely to happen. You need to live somewhere in between and that means exploring your options, ie staying with relatives, renting, obtaining a long closing on the sale of your home to allow for the time to purchase or, more conceivably, buying and selling in the same market. 

The hard thing to keep in mind is that your home is worth what a willing buyer wishes to pay. That’s so black and white. Especially when your children grew up in the house. When you just renovated and the homes you’re now looking at need all that you just undertook. Here’s the silver lining though. You most likely will buy and sell in the same market. So, if you lose at one end, you’ll likely make it back up at the other. 

Is real estate still a good investment? Over the long term, yes. Predominantly, you build equity over time. House prices generally rise a bit more than inflation. Sellers, if you are waiting for the market to come to your price, recognize that most sellers are doing that. So, when you put your buyer’s hat on and head out to find your new home, you’re still in the same market. 

Could you use a little more info on the entire process?  Visit our section For Buyers, or, For Sellers, on our website!

As always, we're here to help as questions arise...Just Ask!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

You Were Asking: Geothermal Conversion

Geothermal Conversion

Thinking of converting to Geothermal to heat and cool your home?  There are several benefits beyond the immediate energy savings you'll enjoy.  

Another is reducing your carbon footprint for future generations.  The system maintains a steady ambient room temperature as opposed to fossil fuel systems which rely on the delivery of energy bursts to maintain your thermostat setting.  

With a geothermal system the heating of cooling source is a constant, decreasing noise and also decreasing dry air which often causes discomfort.  How does it work?  By tapping into the sun's constant energy, an ethanol solution is circulated through pipes buried in the ground in order to coordinate the exchange of heating and cooling throughout the seasons by transferring fluid through a geothermal unit.  

In the winter, ethanol in the pipes absorbs the heat from the earth, the fluid is then pumped through the geothermal unit to supply your home with heat.  In the summer, the warm fluid in your home is pumped back out to the piping which then cools it and re-circulates it back to cool the home. 

It's estimated the conversion of a propane heated home will cut energy costs by 80%, and oil and electric systems, by 75%.  The neat concept is that if you own your own land, a geothermal system taps into an asset you already own. 

As always, we're here to help as questions arise...Just Ask!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Buyers Were Asking: Condo Living


Town homes and condominium apartments have become popular housing choices for the empty-nester baby boomers, tired of lawns and unneeded space. Typically the choice of home buyers who have been priced out of the ever-escalating single family home market, the condo’s ‘image’ problem has been corrected in recent years. Builders paying attention to demographics have caught onto the ‘easy living’ lifestyle wishes of the baby boomer. Upscale town homes feature vaulted ceilings, hardwood flooring, large, functional kitchens and luxurious baths. The package may be smaller, but, the offering is refined. 

Many object to the condo living stigma. I say, don’t discount it if you’ve never lived anywhere but a detached home. You may just reclaim your life! To overcome your objections, do your homework. Here’s what to ask when considering a condo. And, please, don’t assume your Realtor will know the dynamics of the corporation. It’s up to you to ask and satisfy yourself.  
  • What is the tenant-to-owner ratio?
  • Are there any lawsuits pending?
  • How much insurance does the corporation carry?
  • What portion is liability insurance?
  • Are the reserves adequate?
  • What percentage increase in fees should I expect from
    year to year?
  • Exactly what am I expected to maintain?
  • What are the corporation rules?
Your offer to purchase should include a condition requesting your review and acceptance of what is termed the ‘status certificate’. This is a lengthy set of paperwork outlining the last set of financial statements prepared, the rules and regulations of the corporation and a list of the current board of directors and property manager for the corporation. You should review these papers carefully with your lawyer prior to agreeing to purchase any condo. 

Looking to start educating yourself on the condo living options out there for you?  Check out your list with preliminary info and links here!

As always, we're here to help as questions arise...Just Ask!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Market Update: Market Conditions and Summer Forecast

This is a 'nutty' market through and through.  Unprecedented lack of supply and driving consumer demand coming out of Toronto is fanning our red hot Spring market.  A market that started quite late this year, mainly due to the diminished supply.  For all those in the market right now, best wishes is all I can say.  Even attempting to advise someone or predict the outcome of a multiple bidding war is akin to shaking a crazy 8 ball.  Last month, the sale to list ratio was at 100% with an average sale price in Burlington of $616,150, further evidence of the bidding war numbers.  Hamilton fared even better with a 101% sale to list ratio with the Mountain averaging 102%! all we keep saying when we hear the sale prices.  Blurred neighbourhood lines are skewing neighbourhood values with the Toronto market now marching across the bridge and starting to buy up Stoney Creek and Grimsby markets.  If you don't have to buy, my advice would be to hold onto your  money and wait until this market settles somewhat. 

To keep on top of the ever-changing market, visit the Monthly Statistics page on our website, here

As always, we're here to help as questions arise...Just Ask!

Friday, April 8, 2016

You Were Asking: Buried Oil Tanks


Oh yes, we still do run across these on occasion in the older neighbourhoods.  If you have one, it is your responsibility to adequately maintain the tank (whether inside, or, outside your home) to prevent any spills or leakage that could occur.  Ontario regulations stipulate that tanks must be replaced every 15 - 25 years, depending on the tank design and steel thickness.  These days, anyone selling who currently still has an oil tank should know the age of the tank, location (if buried), and also possess some kind of proof that the tank installation meets current safety requirements.  Know that your prospective buyers’ insurance company will be asking these questions, so, it’s always best to be prepared ahead of any offer.  If you’re a buyer contemplating a purchase, ask who the fuel supplier is and if you can review the service/inspection records the seller has on hand. 

As always, we're here to help as questions arise...Just Ask!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Buyers Were Asking: Are You in the Market?


A realtor’s gauge is 3 simple words: Ready, Willing and Able. Some buyers are willing, but, not ready or able. How do you know? 

Ready may mean that if you are moving up or down, your current home is ‘market’ ready. Meaning, the moment you find the move-up/downsize home of your dreams, you are prepared to put your current home on the market that day. 

Willing. Some people are ‘tire kickers’. They appear willing, but, then, the “well, buts” come. They find excuses not to make the move. The timing is not right. The family is not prepared. The price isn’t right. If the home only had one more room, or, the right shade of colour on the walls. The lack of motivation doesn’t cause the willingness. 

Able. Are all your ducks in a row? Have you been to the bank and discovered what you can afford? Have you considered all your options? Being ready, willing AND able takes some work.

If you're looking for more resources before you take the plunge, visit the links within our section For Buyers, on our website.

As always, we're here to help as questions arise...Just Ask!