Lorenda Simms
Personal Real Estate Corporation

Sutton Group - West Coast Realty

Office 250-479-3333

Cell 250-217-5787

Email: lorendasimms@gmail.com

Just like it’s in your best interest to get a head start when it comes to holiday shopping, it’s also a good idea to start prepping your home for winter early, too. Once the first signs of crisp air and winter-like weather make an appearance, you know it’s the perfect time to start making sure you won’t be left in the cold literally and figuratively.


If you’re a former longtime renter new to homeownership, you may be at a loss determining how to best prepare your home for winter. I talked to seasoned real estate agents to learn the best winter home maintenance tips which will spare your home in the cold and possibly save you time and money.


Clean the gutters ASAP.
If you want to preserve your walls, ceilings, and insulation, it’s best to keep your gutters clean, says Patricia Matus, a Realtor with CENTURY 21 Alliance Realty Group. Allowing snow and water to freeze and accumulate at the eaves of the house can cause damage to the roof and create leaks in your home, she explains. Use a snow rake to remove heavy snow when temperatures fluctuate between above and below freezing — this can prevent ice buildup and reduce the potential for leaks.


Make stray branches disappear.
The trees you admired in the spring and summer can do damage to your property come winter. Dealing with fallen branches after a snowstorm can be a huge headache turned financial burden, especially if they land on your house. Hire a professional to identify dead trees and trim branches before it’s too late, suggests Matus.


Drain your hot water heater.
Sediment build-up is a common problem for hot water heaters. Draining the heater can help the reduction of sediment so it runs efficiently, says Ryne Lambert, co-founder of Sell My House In Wisconsin.


Tune up the snowblower.
Nothing is worse than having the first big snowfall of the season, pulling out your snowblower, and finding that it doesn’t work. You’ll end up frustrated and tired from shoveling your way out a foot of snow and thinking about the money you wasted on the snowblower. Avoid this pitfall by having the snowblower tuned up. Replace spark plugs, change the oil, and make sure the unit is running efficiently ahead of time, says Lambert.


Install weather stripping.
A drafty house can be just as uncomfortable to live in as it is to effectively heat. Keep it warm by replacing or installing stripping for exterior doors to save money, says Lambert. Take it a step further by putting insulation or plastic around the windows as well.


Clear the chimney.
Chimneys can be problematic if they aren’t properly maintained, Matus says. “If you have a fireplace, call a chimney sweep to have it cleaned before you start using it,” she says. “Creosote build-up and debris such as a nest or leaves can be a fire hazard.” 



Source: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/winter-home-maintenance-tips-real-estate-agents-36987441

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Prior to a home inspection, Boston real estate agent Sam Reifman-Packett makes sure he manages his clients’ expectations. “A home inspector isn’t there to hype up your dream home,” cautions Reifman-Packett, a vice president with Compass. “Their job is to find and make note of everything wrong with the property.”


Home inspectors are a bit like professional bearers of bad news. But their work can save you big bucks, because they often spot things you overlooked during an open house. Sometimes, the home inspection report includes several little fixes. Other times, they’re big, costly ones, like a roof that needs to be replaced or outdated electrical wiring. To further complicate the matter, there are parts of a home that will pass a home inspection but are still expensive to fix.


I asked real estate agents and home inspectors which finds in a home inspection can be the most serious or the most costly. Here’s what they had to say.


The Deck
A deck nearing the end of its life cycle can be a costly fix and also spell danger, explains Welmoed Sisson, a home inspector and author of “101 Things You Don’t Want in Your Home.” Typically, decks are built to last for 12 to 15 years in the outdoor elements, she explains. After that, the fasteners can corrode, which could lead to a collapse, Sisson says. While deck repairs can cost less than $3,000, a full replacement can run between $4,000 to $11,000, according to HomeAdvisor.


Foundation Repairs
Foundations can be very costly to repair, says Khari Washington, broker and owner of 1st United Realty & Mortgage. “The repair might even entail raising the house off of the foundation to repour footings on older homes,” Washington says. While minor cracks can cost a few hundred dollars, more major ones that require hydraulic jacking can cost tens of thousands of dollars.


Roof Replacement
A roof replacement has high material costs, Washington says, and can vary in cost depending on the roofing material and square footage of the home. While some roof replacements can soar over the $10,000 mark, the average homeowner pays $8,453 to install a new roof, according to HomeAdvisor.


New Septic Systems
A septic system is the non-urban way to deal with human waste, explains Glen Pizzolorusso, a broker with Compass in Fairfield County, Connecticut. These systems are designed to last 30 to 50 (or more) years, but mistreatment of a septic system can be very costly, with a new system costing between $20,000 and $50,000.


“It’s something that you cannot see when you fall in love with a home, and will only come up on inspection,” Pizzolorusso says. There are all types of systems, and they have changed over the years, he explains. Houses built in previous decades adhered to previous building codes, which are now obsolete, and new codes are adopted every few years.


“If a system fails and is outdated, you may be required to replace the system, but replacing a system must adhere to the new codes, so hopefully you have good soil and enough land, otherwise an engineered system with a hefty price tag is required,” he explains.


Water Damage
Oftentimes, water damage goes hand in hand with homes that need a roof replaced, explains Valentino Gecaj of Valentino Home Inspections in Westchester, New York. Although anything from leaky toilets to burst pipes to floods can also give way to this pesky problem. Water damage can lead to an abundance of mold, Gecaj explains, which can cause a slate of health problems. If the water damage is extensive, it can also cause major structural damage in the home.



Source: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/most-expensive-fixes-home-inspection-36985263?amp=1

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There are events in our lives (e.g., the birth of a child) when we have to ask more from our homes. This can, on occasion, be solved with a short-term solution: a storage unit or a temporary wall. But the inevitable is, well, inevitable. You’ve outgrown your home. Here, we consulted with experts of architecture and interior design—Celerie Kemble, Campion Platt, and Madeline Weinrib—who share when it's time to contact the realtor.

Image may contain Restaurant Human Person Dating Sitting Food Court Food Cafeteria and Cafe


1/7
A New Desire to Entertain at Home
There’s a moment in our 20s or 30s when we start to socialize at home (and not at bars and restaurants). This creates a need for a “real” kitchen as well as an attractive area to entertain. Celerie Kemble says, “This room has to be beautiful for you and gracious for you. It has to be a space that affords you a sense of intimacy with the people of your choosing.”


2/7
You Need a Home Office
There are more and more people who work from home—which means there are more and more people who need home offices (because, it’s hard to concentrate on the couch). Campion Platt says, “More and more people are using technology in their home life in a new and interesting way, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they need more space but they need a differently working space.”

Image may contain Human Person Flooring Footwear Clothing Shoe Apparel Floor People Pants Denim and Jeans


3/7
You Need a Second (or Third) Bedroom
The birth of a child is, perhaps, one of the greatest reasons to add rooms: bedrooms as well as bathrooms and a recreation area. There are, now, new humans (with new needs) at home. Campion Platt explains: “It is more about children, I’ve found, than any other experience. Some people might have kids, and as they grow, they need a bigger play area for them, whether that’s a downstairs playroom or a bona fide playroom in the house.”


4/7
You Want to Celebrate Your Career and Its Success
So what about when you’ve “earned” a new home with new spaces? Perhaps the reward is an apartment with a dream closet—or even a summer house. Madeline Weinrib says: “In my new apartment with my husband that we moved into, I was very excited to have a large, walk-in closet. I think that’s something that a person aspires to have. My closets got bigger as my career went better. It went hand in hand.”


5/7
You've Outgrown Your Surroundings
There are times when a move is about a new area (not a new house). For example, people can “outgrow” the excitement of a downtown scene. Celerie Kemble says, “It’s about a shift in lifestyle where you also need a shift in environment.”


6/7
Your Art Collection Has Grown
Those who collect must have a home that accommodates their collections. Remember: These collections (whether art or, even, china or books) will continue to evolve. Madeline Weinrib says, “We just don’t have enough walls in our New York place for all that art that we have. So we just bought a summer house and the first thing on my list was a lot of wall space. I feel that people who are collectors need more space.”


7/7
Your Closets Are Stuffed (with Old Stuff)
Closets can be a blessing—and, they can be a curse. These extra rooms can soon become an accumulation of old and unused items. A new home can mean a new start. Celerie Kemble says: “Closets can feel like a throbbing headache, an oppressive weight with the detritus of our lives. Sometimes people need a new space to constrain themselves.”



Source: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/life-events-that-call-for-a-new-home

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Technology is a wonderful thing and, as luck would have it, there’s a bunch of handy smartphone apps created specifically for homeowners! Here are five great ones…


iScape
If you’ve got outdoor spaces that you’d like to improve, iScape is the app for you! This app uses your phone’s camera to allow you to drag and drop elements like trees, plants, fences, water features, etc. and visualize how it all fits together in your specific yard!


Happy Plant

This app is a very simple solution to a very common problem. If you frequently forget to water your plants, use Happy Plant to serve as a smart reminder system! There’s also a cool feature which creates time-lapse videos of your plants surviving, thriving, and growing.


HomeZada
This app is like six apps rolled into one! HomeZada helps homeowners with everything from managing remodel projects to keeping track of home-related financials and much more. As they put it, HomeZada is, “A personal finance solution that is a digital hub of all the important information about your largest financial asset – your home.”


Letgo

We all have too much stuff, right? Whether it’s stuff we don’t need, stuff we haven’t used in years, or stuff we don’t even remember getting, the Letgo app is here to help. Simply snap a pic of something you no longer want/need, list it on Letgo, and you’re done!


AroundMe
This app is endlessly helpful whether you’re new to the area or visiting somewhere you’ve never been. AroundMe basically gives you all the information you need about various businesses near you. A straightforward concept, but a very handy resource when you need it!



Source: http://www.trendinghomenews.com/2019/02/5-great-apps-homeowners/?token=4D975B0E-7224-4ADB-BA95-8673111264CF&final=1

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Buying and updating an older starter property can feel pretty overwhelming. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a fortune to feel instantly at home in your new digs — these easy painting DIY home projects will get the job done in no time.



Stairway to Heaven 
Jazz up a simple stairway by painting each rise its own bold colour — choose a single colour with varying amounts of white added for an ombre effect, or splash out and turn it into an indoor rainbow. Lugging laundry up and down the stairs just got a whole lot brighter. Tip: A sample can typically holds 8 ounces, which would be more than enough to cover a step or two.




Curtain Call


Update tired wooden curtain rods with a fresh coat or two of scratch-resistant paint. Cleaning, sanding and painting them will take a bit of elbow grease but it’s a way cheaper alternative to replacing them all, and will instantly change the feel of a space.


Show Your Mantle


When noodling over the best living room paint colours, turn to the experts. This year, Behr has selected BEHR Canyon Dusk S210-4 as their 2021 Colour of the Year — its warm inviting tones make it the ideal shade for a mantle refresh. Sometimes pulling out one element in a room to paint is all that’s needed to elevate the design; use a durable on-trend flat paint, such as BEHR SCUFF DEFENSE Interior Extra Durable Flat Paint & Primer for a modern feel.


Look Up, Way Up


When looking for other living room paint ideas, all you need to do is look up. Yep, adding colourful paint to the ceiling — especially if the rest of the room’s palette remains quite neutral — is a fun way to flip convention and inject energy into a space without too much work or investment.


Finding Patterns


Instead of using traditional (and oftentimes, expensive) wallpaper to highlight a specific area, opt for this simple DIY painted-wallpaper alternative. Painting a rainbow riot of colours with a (steady) free hand brings visual interest and vitality to a small space, such as an entryway or powder room.


Out Canvassing


When looking for an easy DIY home project, you can go beyond painting a feature wall and think about what you’d like to put on that wall. Put your artistic hat on and create your own large-canvas…just make sure you protect your “studio” from wayward paint splatters while working on your craft.


Paint Cabinets


When searching for straightforward, paint-based home improvements in the kitchen, look no further than the cabinets. Give these kitchen workhorses new life with a fresh, on-trend colour, such as BEHR Dressed to Impress MQ1-19 and choose a made-for-the-task paint such as BEHR PREMIUM Cabinet & Trim Enamel in the newly launched satin finish. It flows on fast and level, and dries to a durable finish — a must in a hardworking kitchen.


Take a Seat


Another bright DIY paint idea is to give a vintage chair new lease on life with a bright makeover. It may be a piece you found, inherited, thrifted or hunted down online, but putting your own creative stamp via a vivid coat of paint is an easy way to create an instant focal point in any room you place it in.


Blue Moon


White, cream, tan: there’s nothing wrong with bathroom vanities in these neutral shades — but if you want to add a little drama to your space, go for colour. This bright sky blue vanity paired with romantic brass fixtures and accessories is an undeniably sophisticated combination.


Back to It


With the advent of the #shelfie, bookshelves have become so much more than just a place to store your books — they’re now curated displays of taste, from art to personal interests. Painting the back of the bookshelves in deep, rich colour creates a tonal backdrop for these new decor vignettes to shine. Don’t worry: You don’t need elaborate built-ins to get the benefits of this simple DIY paint idea — any bookshelf setup will do.



Source: https://www.hgtv.ca/paint/photos/make-old-house-feel-new-with-paint-1948592/#

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Check out this fun, budget-friendly project that will help update your space with minimal disruption to your home.

It is possible to transform kitchen cabinetry, whether wood or melamine, by simply painting it—the finish options are endless, and you’ll be left with a beautiful space that’s totally rejuvenated.


MATERIALS

  • Screwdriver
  • Painter’s tape
  • Sander or sandpaper
  • Clean cloth
  • Brush or roller
  • Paint primer (for latex paint)
  • Paint
  • Wax or finishing varnish (for chalk paint)


Pro Tip: No primer is needed for chalk paint, but a finishing wax is required.


HOW TO

  1. Remove cabinet doors and drawer fronts from cabinetry and lay them flat.
  2. Remove hardware from cabinet doors and drawer fronts or protect them with painter’s tape.
  3. Sand the surfaces to be painted, then wipe them down with a clean cloth.
  4. Use brush or roller to apply primer if you’re using latex paint; let dry.
  5. Stir paint colour well, then apply with a brush or roller. Let dry. Apply second coat of paint. Let dry completely.
  6. Apply a finishing wax if you’re using chalk paint. Let dry completely.
  7. Reinstall the hardware.
  8. Carefully re-mount cabinet doors and drawer fronts.



Source:https://www.canadianliving.com/home-and-garden/decor-and-renovation/article/how-to-paint-kitchen-cabinetry

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When it comes to investment properties, there’s a lot to take into consideration. Aside from the financial and tax responsibilities, finding an investment property that makes sense for your situation requires some serious soul-searching.


It’s best to take a look at some of the pros and cons before getting into the market, as each type comes with its own set. However, there are some pros and cons that apply to every type of investment property. One pro, of course, is you’ll have a second income—always a plus. The biggest con for any investment property is you’re not guaranteed to have tenants at all times, which means that second income may not be consistent. As the landlord you’re also on the hook for any repairs or issues that need to be dealt with.


Let’s walk through some of the other pros and cons of the most common investment properties to see which one suits you best.


Duplexes
Duplexes are popular choices for investors looking to be close to their property—really close. They can also be great family investments, allowing different generations to live under the same roof but with private dwelling spaces. There are additional tax deductions available to you as well when you live on the property! Typically, work done to common spaces such as your yard, roof, or adjoining wall can be written off at 50% if the duplex is owner-occupied. Some people also consider the proximity to your investment to be a pro. If issues arise you can deal with them in a timely manner, plus you can keep an eye on how your tenants are treating the space. If you’re not living in the space and are instead choosing to rent out each portion of the duplex, the biggest advantage is collecting that additional rent.


On the flip side, duplexes can be more expensive to purchase, which puts you at a bigger risk if you can’t find tenants. It can also be harder in general to find tenants for duplexes, as more and more people are looking for privacy and larger spaces. Living attached to your tenants, albeit in a designated space, can also be a bit strange depending on who they are. If you’re not choosing to live in the duplex, you’ll have double the tenants to find—and double the repairs to deal with.


Single family homes
Over the last 18 months, single-family homes have been in demand as buying trends have changed. With an increase in working and schooling from home, the need for space has become paramount. Because of this shift, single-family homes could potentially be more attractive as investment properties.


Let’s start with the pros! In comparison to a full duplex, single-family homes are typically less expensive (depending on the home), which could see higher gains in your net income. Plus, the market for single-family homes is hot right now, meaning if you need or want to sell your property you’ll likely have an easier time doing so. From a rental perspective, single-family homes tend to attract longer-term tenants, providing a sense of stability to your financial situation.


In terms of cons, there’s one big one that stands out. Owning a single-family home as an investment property means a lower return on investment the longer it sits vacant. The costs to maintain a single-family home can be higher, and when the house sits empty those costs can quickly add up.


Pre-construction
With new developments popping up all over the country, buying pre-construction properties (either homes, condos, or apartments) can seem enticing. It’s easy to find the big pros for this type of investment. The customization allows you to create a space potential renters will find appealing. When you choose fixtures and finishes for a new construction home, you can find options that are agreeable to most people without breaking the bank. Plus, newer builds are more attractive to renters since they know things are in good working order and there likely won’t be any repairs needed in the near future.


That being said, pre-construction comes with a unique set of cons some people just don’t want to deal with. These cons can really be summed up into two words: the unknown. Your build could be unexpectedly delayed, leaving you to navigate these financial waters without additional income. Your down payment could be up to 30% up front for a new build, and it may not be complete for up to two years, which means you’ll be waiting a while to recoup that money as well as start making any profits. You should always consider the type of tenant you’re looking for (students, young professionals, growing families, etc.) so you can assess and align the property and neighbourhood with what they’ll need and want.


Basement apartments
Basement apartments have come a long way in the last 10 years or so! They can be spacious, private, cost-effective, exactly what young professionals are looking for as they save to buy their own home. Having a basement apartment in your home shares a lot of the same pros (and cons!) as duplexes. They help pay the mortgage of the home you’re in and you can write off a lot of the repairs since the space is owner-occupied. But it also means you’re living in the same home as your tenants and you lose a portion of your home.


There are two additional cons to consider when it comes to basement apartments, though. The biggest one comes if you’re adding a basement apartment to your home vs. buying a home that already has one built. Adding a basement apartment requires money up front to ensure the space is up to code, not to mention any regional requirements (i.e. permits, inspections). You also have to consider things like parking for your tenants, how they’ll get into their portion of the home, etc. When it comes time to sell your home, not having a “typical” basement could affect your resale value. You eliminate the group of people who aren’t looking to purchase an investment property, which could make the home harder to sell.


Something to consider when it comes to basement apartments is actually living in it yourself! I got my start in real estate by purchasing a home with a basement apartment and renting out the main floor while I lived in the basement apartment. I was able to charge a higher rent, allowing me to pay off the mortgage more quickly and ultimately make my way up the real estate ladder. If you’re going to purchase a home with a basement apartment, or are considering adding one to your current home, I really do recommend living in the basement portion yourself if possible!


Identifying risk factors
As with any investment, you need to identify the potential risks. There are four main risks to consider before purchasing an investment property.


Financial

You need to spend money to make money, but owning an investment property does come with some financial risks. If you can’t find tenants for an extended period of time, you’ll need to cover the mortgage out of your primary income, which may leave things a little tight.


Property location

Do some research on the neighbourhood to see if there’s a high demand for rentals in the area. If not, you may struggle to find people willing to commit to a lease. It’s also a good idea to ask a REALTOR® about the projected evolution of the neighbourhood. If it’s an up-and-coming spot, you may find yourself getting a great deal! Other things to consider include transit access, proximity to schools and daycare, nearby amenities, and access to the highway.


Age of the property

Older homes can be appealing for a vintage look, but they may end up causing you more issues than they’re worth. Homes over a certain age will likely need more frequent (and more expensive) repairs, which will ultimately cut into your profits.


The real estate market

No matter when you buy, this will always be an important thing to consider. The real estate market is unpredictable, which means any time you enter the market there are a lot of factors to consider. However, when you’re buying an investment property, you really want to be sure you’re getting a good deal so your profit margins can be higher. You’ll need to look at it as a longer-term investment and consider how it will affect you over a course of years, not months.


Investment properties can be a great way to earn a secondary income while getting yourself onto the property ladder. There are plenty of different property types you can find, each with their own set of pros and cons, but one thing remains constant: owning an investment property is a commitment! It’s not something you can do on a whim, which is why doing your research is the most important first step you can take.


*The information above is for informational purposes only and should not be used as investment or financial advice.



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/different-types-of-investment-properties-and-what-to-consider/21898/1362

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For many Canadians sheds are often seen as dingy storage spaces for seasonal equipment and oversized junk. Conversely, in Australia and New Zealand, sheds are passionately celebrated in documentaries, books, and magazines as places of invention, retreat, and productivity.


However, it looks like some Canadians are coming around, and realizing their sheds’ potential as stunning and functional extensions of their homes. From home office setups to backyard gyms, here are five amazing shed transformation ideas that go against the grain.


Join the tiny house revolution!
If the explosion of #TinyHouse Instagram accounts and YouTube channels is any indicator, the growing appeal of living in more compact, efficient, and even portable “tiny homes” is reaching a fever pitch. According to SEMrush’s 2020 Canada Real Estate Trends report, average searches for “tiny homes for sale” have soared throughout the East Coast.


Redeveloping your backyard shed or garage into a separate structure (built to code, of course) can also provide a new source of income as a rental unit. In cities like Toronto, where the housing market temperature continues to rise, some residents are renovating their backyard sheds and garages into self-contained dwellings made accessible through the city’s intricate network of laneways, and renting or selling them as smaller one-person units.


As with any property renovation in Canada, whether in an urban or rural community, you’ll want to ensure your tiny house project meets standards and regulations. Make sure to assess your renovation plans against local zoning laws, bylaws, and building codes before you break ground. Or better yet, ask your REALTOR® for their insight.


Stretch out with a new gym or yoga studio
With gyms and fitness centres closed and Canadians staying home more than, it’s no surprise personal fitness equipment has seen a sharp increase in sales since the beginning of the pandemic.


But in an already-crowded house with each room playing a specific role—“Honey, the dining room is for potatoes, not pilates!”—what better way to stretch out and use all your available space than by setting up a gym or yoga studio in your shed?


You can easily store your weights and machines in the shed when not in use, and bring them outside when the weather allows for a full-on outdoor iron-pumping session. Or, if zen is more your speed, clear out enough space for a yoga mat, plants, diffusers, and a Bluetooth speaker, and watch the stress melt away.


Work from home…at the office
For those of us working from home but still crave a light commute and/or have a crowded household during the day, a backyard home office offers a quiet and separate space to take Zoom calls, finish up your daily deliverables, or simply collect your professional thoughts.


With the number of people working from home going up and up, Canadians are looking for contractors to help build new offices in their existing shed space. The only restrictions are space, so let your imagination run wild. That being said, just be sure your new backyard office doesn’t pose any insurance risks.


Get back to basics with a greenhouse
For the budding gardeners among us, why not transform your backyard shed from a “fixed” state of storage to a “growth”-oriented hub by setting up your own sheltered greenhouse? By adding a few window openings and shelving units, you can take advantage of the shed’s access to sunlight and create a warm, insulated home for your seedlings. A shed-turned-greenhouse is also a great way to keep critters away from any fruits and vegetables you may be growing. So, whether planning a hydroponic herb garden or pop-up produce stand and flower shop, the options are ripe for the picking.


Retreat to your fortress of solitude
If you’re looking for some alone time, and perhaps a more stylish and less utilitarian use of your existing shed space, focus your shed makeover on creating your own backyard oasis. Whether it’s a meditation space or escape room, you can get away from it all while staying put.

Of course, all of these ideas will only be possible after a thorough spring cleaning. Good thing the weather is cooperating. Time to get started—your shed is waiting.



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/from-drab-to-fab-five-shed-transformation-ideas/

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Carpenter ants, wasps, fleas, roaches, bedbugs…insect infestations can be a nuisance and a real threat to your home. While you may expect the bugs when you’re on the patio, you’re likely not expecting them when you’re crawling into bed. We asked an entomologist to share tips so homeowners can learn how to spot the early warning signs bugs have found their way into your home, and ways to prevent them from getting inside in the first place!


Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants can cause major damage in your home, says entomologist Taz Stuart, who is the director of technical operations for Poulin’s Pest Control in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Most of the time, their primary nest is outside your house.


“The queen then finds old or water-damaged wood, and you’ll see sawdust being pushed out and the ants themselves,” explains Stuart. “Getting a positive identification on these ants will then allow a pest control professional to treat inside and outside the home, and find the source colony to get that removed.”



Bedbugs

Bedbugs are great hitchhikers, and they can get into almost everything. They’re also hard to get rid of. 


“I’ve seen them in bags, books, and boxes, so it’s very important to look at your items. Don’t assume just because something’s new that bedbugs can’t be on it,” says Stuart. “In an infestation in the home, look for the bugs themselves. Their skins molt, so that’s another piece of evidence to look for. You’ll also see little black spots on your bed frame, mattress, and even on your dressers, your drawers, lampshades, baseboards, or sofa.”



Cockroaches

Cockroaches thrive in unsanitary conditions, says Stuart. They love it when food or water is left out, and they’ll often arrive in your home by hitching a ride inside a cardboard box. 


“We’ve seen a big increase in the number of calls about roaches since last year. More people are staying home, leaving out their stuff or ordering in products that may have roaches in them,” he explains. 


Your home can quickly become infested, because females don’t need males to mate: Within 36 days, you’ll have between 30 to 48 new cockroaches from one bug, and they’re incredibly resilient. 


“They can live without water for seven to 14 days, and without food for more than 30 days. They’ll eat their own young if they have to, or their own waste,” says Stuart. 


Because roaches are nocturnal, you’ll see them scurrying across the floor when you turn on the lights during the evening. 



Wasps

Yellow jacket or paper wasps are common now, because the queens have started their nests, says Stuart. 


“During the summer, they’re docile because they have lots of alternative food sources, so they’re not really going to be bugging you until late August, September, and October when their natural food sources disappear,” he explains.  


Wasps can be a nuisance when they go after your sugary drink or hamburger out on your deck, but don’t swat them away, because they’ll become aggressive, adds Stuart. 


“They can sting you multiple times and release pheromones to make you more attractive to their wasp friends so they come sting you as well.” 


If you notice a wasp’s nest under the eaves of your roof or near a window, bring in a professional. It’s best to have wasps sprayed and the nest removed at night when the workers are inside it. 



Fleas

Have you ever seen a tiny black spot leap off your dog’s neck onto the floor? That means your pet has brought fleas into your home, and you can quickly become infested with them, says Stuart.


“Look for the evidence like fecal matter around the pet’s ears or in the hairline, or the fleas themselves,” he says. “It’s important to get the proper products to treat your pet, and to bring in professionals. Be sure to wash everything and dry it at high heat to kill all stages of fleas.” 



How to make your house unwelcoming to insects

When it comes to bug infestations, exclusion is the key: Insects sneak into your home wherever there are holes or cracks in your foundation, explains Stuart. 


“Seal those up, and install tightly fitting screens to make sure nothing gets in,” he suggests. “And get rid of any old or water-damaged wood on or near the house, because insects will start excavating that out to create a new colony, which can become a structural issue.”


Stuart also recommends keeping food stored away, and placing insect traps and monitors at strategic spots around the house, such as entry points and along baseboards inside. 


“Any bug can cross the trap and get stuck on there, so you’ll see what you have,” he says.


Noticing bug infestations when they’re in the early stages can make it easier for you to deal with them before they become a bigger issue. It’s always recommended you contact a professional before doing any work that could cause structural damage, or when it comes to using harsh chemicals to deal with infestations. 



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/5-creepy-crawlers-to-watch-for-in-your-home/21489/1363

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Buying a flipped home—a property that’s been purchased, renovated, and re-sold by an investor—is all the rage these days, and for good reason! It’s an enticing idea, especially since you get to move into an already-updated home without having to handle the renovations yourself.


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bank of Canada saw evidence of “a lot more flipping” driving investor activity in some Canadian housing markets, as housing prices across the country rose 25% in February over the previous year.


It’s easy to jump headfirst into a flipped home because everything seems shiny and new. But it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to avoid a potential headache down the road. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking to purchase a flipped home.


1. What’s your budget?

Remember: Investors flip houses to make money. The average investor can make thousands in net profit on a property flip—that’s why they undertake the risk, effort, and financial investment to renovate a house they don’t intend to live in. As a result, you’ll probably end up paying a higher price as a sort of “convenience fee” for someone else taking care of all the renovations. You’re the one benefitting from buying a freshly renovated, move-in ready home, so it can be worth that extra cost. Just be sure the higher price tag for this convenience doesn’t strain your budget!


2. How long did the flip take?

Flipping a house takes time to do it properly, but the longer an investor holds onto the property, spending money on remodeling, the less profit they’re making. This may cause the investor to rush the flip and even cut corners on safety or quality of construction—not great for you, the potential buyer.


It might be a red flag if a house has been flipped in three months or less. However, different projects will take a different amount of time. A full flip will take longer than a kitchen or basement redo. Plus, timelines will vary depending on who’s completing it!


Work with your REALTOR® to find the full history of the house, specifically the date and price of the property’s last sale, to help verify when work began. Additionally, contact your local building department to check if the investor obtained the proper permits and the home is up to code. More on this in a bit…


3. Inspect everything carefully.

A common pitfall experienced by first-time buyers of a flipped house occurs when they don’t inspect closely enough, avoid doing due diligence on the flipping process, and are shy about asking a lot of questions. They’ve become the proud new owners of a home that looks beautiful on the outside but may hide shoddy work on the inside.


A critical step to take once you’ve submitted an offer and secured your financing is to hire a professional home inspector to “kick the tires” of your new home. Learn more about the home inspection process including how to find a professional inspector in your area by visiting the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors. Your REALTOR® can also connect you with a reputable home inspector who knows and serves your neighbourhood.


If you put in a conditional offer, your sale is not final until the inspection is complete. This means if the inspection uncovers any issues, you can go back to the seller to renegotiate the selling price or revoke the offer if the issues are too extreme. If you buy the home without conditions, you’re responsible for resolving any issues that arise during the home inspection, which could end up being pretty pricey if the flippers cut corners. A typical home inspection should take about three hours and can cost anywhere between $300 and $800 depending on the size of the house, but the peace of mind this will afford you is worth every penny.


4. Ask questions about every single thing.

Be sure to accompany the inspector (if possible) during the walk-around of your flipped house and come equipped with more questions than you thought you needed to ask. Some of these questions include:

  • Can you provide all the work permits?
  • Can you provide the proof of inspection for the electrical work?
  • What was structurally changed?
  • What was done to the foundation?
  • What was done to the wiring?
  • Are there signs of mould?
  • What was done to the plumbing?
  • How was the insulation upgraded?
  • Did you touch the roof?
  • How did you address insect, water, fire, or other major damage discovered during the project?

You don’t want to be blind-sided if something happens to your new home, so asking these questions is crucial to ensuring you feel comfortable if and when you move in.


A good flip has its benefits

If you do your research, talk to the right people, and are OK with someone else making all the renovation choices, then purchasing a flipped house isn’t a bad option. While it may be a bit more expensive and require diligent inspection, you’ll sit comfortably in your newly remodeled living room knowing you invested in a new home that will stand the test of time.


If you are looking to buy a flipped home, be sure to connect with a REALTOR®. They’ve likely been through this experience before and know what you should be on the lookout for! Their knowledge of homes, inspections, housing markets, and the neighbourhood will be extremely beneficial to helping you make an informed decision. 



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/flip-or-flop-4-things-to-consider-before-buying-a-flipped-property/21400/1362

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Minimalism is often perceived as an extreme practice, but Joshua Becker, founder and editor of website Becoming Minimalist, says it doesn't have to be. There are no real rules and contrary to what is commonly believed, it's not the practice of going without. "While it is true that you will have less, it’s less of what you don’t need, and more of what you want, like time and money.”


Becker feels that we’ve reached a saturation point with the possessions we've accumulated at which the items don't make us any happier. “Material belongings become more of a burden than a blessing,” he says.

Becker’s own journey with minimalism began about 10 years ago. While cleaning out his garage and watching his son play alone nearby, he realized that the belongings he was organizing were not adding value to, but actually detracting from his life and keeping him from what he really wanted to be doing. His story and subsequent stories he's shared on his website have inspired millions around the world to “find more life by owning fewer possessions.”


Here's how you can live a happier, more fulfilling life by practicing minimalism.


How do you begin?

There’s no need to feel overwhelmed or anxious about minimalism. Remember, there are no rules, and you only do what you are comfortable doing. “A little minimalism is better than none at all,” says Becker. Begin with the easiest space or room by purposefully getting rid of all the items you don’t need or use, like clothes that haven’t been worn for a long time and kitchen implements that you don’t use.


Becker says resist the urge to simply reorganize, which is almost always just a temporary solution, and instead sort your belongings into four groups: trash, give away, keep and relocate. Take your time with this process and carefully consider where each individual item best fits.


Need help? Learn about the infamous KonMari Method and the "life-changing magic of tidying up."


How do you get the kids on board?

Becker says that kids are usually good at embracing minimalism. Among other benefits, the process will empower them to make their own decisions and to learn about living within limits. Demonstrate your own commitment by tackling one of your own spaces first, and give your child a small space like a closet or toy box to sort through. Let them choose what to keep, based on what toys fit into that amount of space.


What should you do with all the belongings you no longer need?

Do your research and donate to a local charity that you believe in. You can also have a garage sale, drop them off at a consignment store, or sell the items online to recoup some of the money spent. For the items that are at the end of their lifeline, check to see if they can be recycled before throwing them into the garbage.


What are the benefits of living minimally?

After making just one small change, Becker predicts your simplified space will feel peaceful. Your home will be easier to clean and keep organized, resulting in more time to spend doing what you really want — and you'll have the money to do so. Plus, you’ll be a positive example for your kids, as they will learn to be less focused on consumption and kinder to the environment.


What do you do after the purge?

Resist excessive consumerism and purchase less. If you're having trouble, consult the above image of the "Buyerarchy of Needs” by Sarah Lasorovic. Make better use of what’s already available to you, prior to making a purchase. Buying should be your last resort.

Concentrate on spending your time and money on pursuing experiences, rather than stuff, and you're bound to feel more fulfilled.



Source: https://www.canadianliving.com/home-and-garden/organization-and-cleaning/article/how-minimalism-can-enhance-your-life

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Homeownership has a way of awakening the inner Bob Vila in all of us—even the ones who know nothing about home improvement. Whether you’re tackling huge renovations or tiptoeing your way into the world of DIY, these tips will help you set yourself up for success.


Have a plan
Renovations rarely go exactly to plan, but that doesn’t mean you should wing it. Last-minute changes are both stressful and expensive, so get the non-negotiable details hammered out first. At minimum, this means knowing what results you want and how much money—and time—it will take to achieve them.


Modeling and design tools like Floorplanner are super helpful in the planning phase. Create a couple different versions of the same project, then add a 10-15% buffer to your budget estimates to prepare for inevitable surprises.


Add value when possible
If you’re not sure where to start with home improvements, it can be helpful to prioritize projects that increase your home’s value. Updated kitchens and bathrooms are pretty much always a safe bet, as are any renovations that increase square footage, like finished basements and decks. But buyer preferences vary from market to market, so

be sure to focus on what’s popular and valuable where you live—not broad national trends.


Tackle quick, time-sensitive projects first
Some home improvements are more urgent than others. If a project will save you money immediately or prevent devastating damage in the future, bump it to the top of the priority list. That goes double for quick, easy fixes, like sealing drafts and replacing filters.


Find your DIY threshold

Even if you’re an experienced DIY-er with a well-stocked workshop, not all home improvement projects are suitable for amateurs. Before starting a project, gauge your interest level: How much work are you really willing to put in? Is that effort worth the money you’ll save? Be brutally honest.


If you have no idea what you’re getting into, don’t commit until you’ve spent, at minimum, a solid couple of hours watching YouTube tutorials and pricing out materials. Remember: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.


Bone up on DIY knowledge
Everyone should know a few basic repair skills, and thanks to the internet, learning them has never been easier. If you can, start with a specific question: Is my garbage disposal broken or just clogged? Do I really need to clean my dishwasher filter? How do you refinish a coffee table? You’ll click with some blogs and video personalities more than others; next time, start with them.


If you’re more of a hands-on learner, try volunteering: You’ll learn new skills and help people at the same time. Many hardwares stores offer free clinics on basic home repair and improvement skills, too, so be sure to check the offerings in your area.


Save money by scrimping—and splurging—responsibly
Major renovations are expensive, but going full Scrooge on every single line item only creates more work later. Instead, identify where you can and can’t afford to be a little stingy. A good rule of thumb: Shell out for anything catastrophically expensive and/or difficult to replace, like hot water heaters and electrical work. For easily replaceable items—shower heads, light fixtures, drawer pulls—cheap is fine. You should also consider how much use and enjoyment you’ll get from an item. If you’re an avid cook, skimp on floor tiles so you can splurge on the stove of your dreams.


Understand your financing options
Unfortunately, most home improvements do not pay for themselves. If you can’t afford to finance the project in full with cash, you should know the different ways you can finance your home improvement without putting your home at risk.


Personal loans and credit cards can be useful for small-to-medium projects, depending on the interest rate and terms, while home equity loans (HELs) and lines of credit (HELOCs) can help finance major renovations and repairs. Improvements that increase your home’s value can cut down on private mortgage insurance payments, but keep in mind you’ll have to pay to get your home reassessed on top of everything else.


Get your tools right
You can’t really improve your home with just your bare hands—most projects require at least a multi-tool. Before you start a project of any size, be sure your toolbox actually contains the tools you’ll need. Keep in mind that some project genres need special equipment, particularly if they involve plumbing or electrical systems. When in doubt, Google it.


Find the perfect contractor

Finding a handyman or contractor you trust is a lot like finding the right dentist or therapist: Harder than it sounds, and with incredibly high stakes. It’s important to vet potential contractors carefully using these criteria:

  • Word of mouth: Ask friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations—especially if they have industry connections
  • Check for complaints: Look up your state’s consumer protection office and your local building inspection office
  • Learn which licenses and permits are required in your area for contractors, electricians, plumbers, and painters
  • Get proof of insurance: Ask contractors to provide you with their insurance details so you can verify it with the provider
  • Ask for references, then actually check them out
  • Meet with every potential candidate so you get a feel for their style
  • Get quotes—and track them with a spreadsheet or other list


For even more specific questions you should ask, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s guide on hiring a contractor.


Always keep your next project in mind
When one project ends, another begins—such is the nature of home improvement. Planning your next move is a lot harder when you can’t remember the good ideas you had while working on something else. Keep a detailed list of your project goals in a spreadsheet, notebook, or even a good old-fashioned Pinterest board so you’ll always know what’s next.



Source: https://lifehacker.com/top-10-home-improvement-tips-every-homeowner-should-kno-1656251243

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Kitchen renovations are not one size fits all. What’s important to one person may not be to another, particularly when it comes to those who love to cook and those who don’t. But when it comes to return on investment, there are certain elements that are essential. Here are a few recommendations on how to get the best ROI in your kitchen renovation.


Neutral Colours
When it comes to kitchens, I always recommend neutral colours. Actually, I insist on it. Bright and bold colours can be a real turnoff to buyers. So, if you want your kitchen to appeal to as many people as possible, neutral colours are definitely the way to go. White, cream, grey, beige and navy are all neutrals and look great in a kitchen. If you want to accent them with bright colours, do it through things like dishes, tea towels and artwork.


Transitional Style
Like neutral colours, transitional style is the safest bet in a kitchen. Overly ornate or ultra-modern styles will turn off certain buyers, so it’s wiser from a financial standpoint to stick with simple paneled doors that are just short of modern; and stainless, chrome or dark bronze hardware. When it comes to transitional style, keep it simple and approachable.


Semi-Custom Cabinetry
Custom kitchens are great for many reasons; but for people looking for great quality without a high price, semi-custom is the way to go. These types of cabinets are available in standard sizes, but offer customizable features such as decorative accents and interior storage options. Remember that cabinets serve an incredibly important function, so don’t cheap out.


Simple Tile
Some people like to make tile a feature in their kitchens; but as a general rule, I advise against it. It has always been my experience that simple tile designs in a neutral colour offer the best return on investment. That’s not to say it has to be boring. White marble tile in a honeycomb, chevron or floral pattern for instance, looks great while still being subtle.


Quartz Countertops
If you have the budget, nothing beats a quality Quartz countertop. They’re durable, offer a great ROI and look terrific. Since countertops take a lot of beatings – dishes clanging, knives scraping, spills – making the investment in something that won’t get damaged is well worth the price.


Stainless Steel Appliances
Every day I hear from someone who says they hate stainless steel. They want white and nothing will change their mind. Fair enough, but it doesn’t change the fact that stainless steel is currently the most popular finish for appliances and it will get you the best return on investment. So if you’re looking for the best ROI, stainless is the way to go.


The most important thing to remember during a kitchen renovation is that a high return on investment will only be achieved when the upgrades match the quality of the rest of the home. For instance, a high-end chef’s style kitchen won’t add much value if the rest of the house looks dated and dingy. However, when a kitchen renovation is done right and is part of a well-maintained, upgraded home, the ROI can be as much as 200%.



Source: https://www.hgtv.ca/renovations/blog/scott-mcgillivray-roi-kitchen-renovation-1922244/

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We know the thought of buying your dream home is exciting, and you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about what you can afford. Before you get too far into the house hunting process, make sure you’ve factored closing costs into your budget. These are upfront transactional expenses you’ll need to pay to finalize the buying process, above and beyond your down payment. Depending on how much your property costs, these fees can add up to thousands of dollars. Here’s what you can expect to spend before being handed the keys.


What are closing costs?
Closing costs refer to the legal and administrative fees you’re required to pay leading up to when your house closes. These charges include your mortgage broker’s fee, real estate appraisals and commissions, lawyer’s fees, and title insurance. Generally, closing costs range from 1.5% to 4% of the purchase price. Most of these costs can’t be rolled into your mortgage, so it’s important to save for them in advance.


What types of expenses are considered a closing cost?
Below are a list of the expenses included in most closing costs:


Land transfer tax
All provinces–except Alberta and Saskatchewan–charge a land transfer tax (LTT), which is a provincial or municipal tax based on a percentage of your property value. This one-time fee only applies to resale homes, not new construction, and is payable on closing day.


The amount varies depending on where you live, ranging between 0.5% and 2.5% of your purchase price. Consider using an online calculator and entering the purchase price of your home. The closing costs for a home in Halifax will be different than one in Toronto.


To help offset this cost, Ontario, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, and the City of Toronto offer land transfer tax rebates for first-time home buyers. In Toronto, however, you’re required to pay both Ontario land transfer tax (OLTT) and Toronto land transfer tax (TLTT), which are calculated on the purchase price.


Land survey fee
It’s important to know your property boundaries, so most lenders require home buyers do a land survey if the current owners don’t have a recent one available. It can cost between $750 and $2,000 to get a survey certificate detailing the property lines.


Mortgage default insurance fees
If you plan to put down less than 20% on your down payment, you’ll need to obtain and pay CMHC insurance. This cost, which can be rolled into your monthly mortgage payments or paid upon closing, is meant to protect the lender if you default on your payments. And for homeowners in Quebec, Ontario, or Manitoba, you’ll pay provincial sales tax on your mortgage insurance fee. Remember, if you lump in this fee with your mortgage, you’ll be charged interest on it as well.


Legal fees
You’ll need to hire a lawyer or notary once you’ve signed the Offer to Purchase. Your legal team will protect your rights by doing a title search, getting title insurance proving you’re the legal owner, preparing and filing the mortgage paperwork, registering the transfer of property, and making sure the transaction goes through without a hitch. Expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $2,000 depending on where you live and what you require. Many lenders also require you purchase title insurance–available from your notary or lawyer at about $200 to $300–that protects against losses in case there’s a property ownership dispute.


Property insurance
You must have property insurance in place by closing day, which insures your house against fire, or major damage for an amount that matches the value of the home. Costs vary depending on the type of coverage you purchase, so be sure to shop around before you purchase your policy.


Adjustment fees
You’ll likely owe a portion of the utilities, property taxes, and other bills for the property, which will be reimbursed to the previous owner of your home. These are calculated by your notary or lawyer, and they’re based on your closing date within a given monthly payment cycle. You’ll also owe the interest on whatever gap there is between your closing date and your first mortgage payment date.


How much can homeowners expect to spend on closing costs?
Some experts recommend saving three to four per cent of your home’s purchase price to put toward closing costs. So if you buy a $400,000 home, set aside at least $12,000 to $16,000 to cover fees. Keep in mind, the costs mentioned above aren’t the only ones you might encounter. Other costs include prepaid utilities, a home inspection, your deposit, testing septic tanks or wells in rural areas, your appraisal fee, and more.


Your REALTOR® can help guide you through the entire buying process, including what you need to pay in advance. Then, on closing day, you’ll finally get the keys and legal possession of your new house. Now, you can pack up and get ready to move!



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/closing-costs-what-buyers-need-to-know/

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If you’re on the hunt for a first home, or even settling in, you’re likely bracing for the inevitability of paying property taxes. You probably saw the annual property taxes displayed on REALTOR.ca property listings, and might be wondering who sets these rates, what purpose property taxes serve, and how tax rates are determined.
 
Fortunately, you’re in the right place! Let’s put the magnifier on property tax assessments across Canada. 
 
What is property tax?
Property tax is paid by landowners and funds municipalities’ public services, such as emergency services (fire, police, and paramedic), public schools, parks and trails, as well as road and sewer maintenance. The property tax is set based on the percentage of the market value of a given property, whether it be residential, commercial, industrial, or farm, and is paid to your municipality or regional municipality.
 
Can I be exempt from property tax?
Some properties and owners may be exempt from paying this tax, including religious buildings, low-income households, and any federal or provincial property. Municipalities set these rules, so it’s best to consult your local municipality for more details on exemptions and eligibility.
 
How is property tax calculated?
Property tax is determined by multiplying the value of a property by the base municipal and education taxation rate. These rates are set according to the type and use of a property by elected officials based on the city’s budget. They’re also determined by how much revenue comes from services, fines, and provincial transfers. Property values are determined with regular property tax assessments. 
 
For instance, if you owned a property valued at $300,000 and the combined municipal and education tax rate is 1.13%, your annual balance would be: $3,390. 
 
Your municipality will make the information in your tax statements as clear as possible so you know exactly what makes up your property tax. Some charges like waste removal or rural stormwater drainage (ditches) may show up as a flat fee, depending on your municipality or property location.
 
Your municipality will also give a detailed breakdown of how your tax dollars are being distributed between things such as emergency services, library services, roads and traffic, etc. Understandably, rates differ broadly across Canadian municipalities based on the types of properties, and density. 
 
What is a property assessment?
Property assessments are required to determine the value of your property, which then factors into how much your property tax will be. Keep in mind, property assessments are different from a home inspection or appraisal. A property assessment is the process of determining the value of a property based on the open market sale averages of other properties in the surrounding area. In the case of residential properties, the location (neighbourhood), size of the lot, building type, size, age, and the building materials used, plus any updates or additions, are taken into account to determine value.
 
Why are property assessments necessary?
Since all properties are different, assessments are necessary to ensure everyone pays a fair share based on the value of their property and how said property is being used. First, property values change over time, either appreciating or depreciating in value, depending on real estate market trends in those areas. Secondly, population sizes change when urban and suburban centres expand with new construction. Property assessments also play a part in determining taxation rates. If property values increase more in comparison to the municipality’s budgetary needs, a tax rate reduction may result.
 
Who assesses properties, and how often?
Assessments are handled differently in each province and territory and are conducted by either the municipalities, a specific branch of the provincial government, or by independent organizations commissioned by provinces and/or municipalities. Assessment intervals also differ from province to province. 
 
For instance, in British Columbia, BC Assessment was formed to assess all properties annually in the province. Ontario has a similar organization, MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation), a non-profit corporation whose members are made up of Ontario municipalities, and who conduct assessments every four years. 
 
To dig a little deeper into assessments for your specific province, check out the links below.
 
Quebec (Consult your municipal website for more information.)
 
What can I do if I don’t agree with my assessment?
Since assessments are applied based on averages for your area, it’s possible your property could end up valued higher than it should. Factors such as volume of sales, final selling price, volume of building upgrades or additions, or even densification can increase the perceived value of your home in an assessment. If, for instance, you have been living in your home for a long time without making updates, you can appeal your assessment if you feel it’s too high.
 
The appeal process differs based on your province. You can request a reassessment in the province or territory where you own property, but if the reassessment maintains the value you believe to be incorrect, then you can submit an appeal. 
 
By now your head may be spinning with all this new information, and that’s OK! Now, you’re better equipped to tackle this important aspect of homeownership. Plus, you’re making a positive impact by supporting the important services to keep your community safe, clean, and a great place to call home. 
 
 
Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/understanding-property-tax-and-assessments-in-canada/20612/1362
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With extended lockdowns, schools and offices shuttered, as well as many of our favourite amenities closed for long stretches due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians have been spending a lot more time at home this past year. This has caused some buyers to reevaluate what they’re looking for in a home, including a desire for additional living space, whether it was in search of a dedicated home workspace or simply a larger backyard.


As provinces and territories continue to roll out vaccines and reopening plans move forward, it’s worth considering if the desire and demand for larger homes will persist as the pandemic recedes, and how the need for roomier residences has impacted markets across the country.


Today, we speak with Keith Stewart, Economist with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s economist, and Shaun Cathcart, Director and Senior Economist, Housing Data and Market Analysis at the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), who share their thoughts on the future of this trend. 



Why did people start buying larger homes in the first place?


Buyers during the COVID-19 pandemic have gone out hunting for bigger homes for a few reasons, including millennials who are starting families to form households of their own, changing home feature needs, and a boost in spending power for some families.


At a basic level, our homes have become much more than a place to eat and sleep since the first round of pandemic-induced lockdowns. Instead, where we live has evolved into a classroom, gym, conference room and all sources of entertainment. By upgrading to a bigger home, buyers are able to gain greater square footage to accommodate more of their needs.


“More space enables you to have those additional functionalities in your space,” explained Cathcart. “Of course, that’s where you have a lot of extra money rattling around to make home everything when so many other things people spend money on, we weren’t doing.” 


Since the Bank of Canada made its first round of cuts to its mortgage rate-influencing overnight rate in early March 2020, mortgage rates have been hovering around all-time lows. Stewart says plunging interest rates have been a catalyst for some people to jump on an opportunity to make a purchase. This also coincides with a bulge in the late-twenties to early-thirties millennial demographic, who are now entering family-rearing years and setting their sights on suburban markets.


“That’s been the backdrop behind COVID, and I think what you’ve really seen is some shifting in preferences and some untethering of people’s work, and I really point back to those plunging interest rates,” said Stewart. “They’ve really brought these moves people were going to do or contemplated [and] concentrated [them] into a very particular point in time. That’s why we see this record sales activity nationally.”



How does the demand for larger homes affect the market?


Competitive market conditions have persisted long after the first wave of lockdowns in spring 2020, which has influenced supply and demand for homes with a larger square footage.


Cathcart explains many communities were already in seller’s market territory prior to the pandemic. Since March 2020 however, more buyers entered the picture and were clamoring for the comparatively smaller number of listings that were available, leading to multiple offer scenarios on larger homes, he said. With the supply of homes already imbalanced compared to demand, CREA reported in its most recent national housing update that the number of newly listed homes dropped by 6.4% from April to May.


The desire for larger living spaces may have also played a role in fueling higher demand and prices in recreational and suburban areas over the last year. Commonly referred to as the Urban Exodus, the pandemic saw an accelerated trend of city dwellers with the ability to work remotely relocating to rural or suburban communities, locations that would typically offer more house for less money.


For instance, average sale prices for homes in some recreational markets are expected to see annual increases in the 20% to 40% range, according to research published in the 2021 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report.



What home trends will we see in the near future?


With the end of the pandemic on the horizon, the home buying frenzy looks to be slowly cooling off.


“A lot of the frenzy we’ve seen in the last year has seen people looking to find a place to ride out this pandemic in, and so you’d expect some of that urgency is going to fade at this point because we’re sort of near the finish line,” said Cathcart.


In June, CREA reported a 7.4% monthly decline in home sales from April to May. This can be attributed to freshly implemented lockdowns, high home prices, buyer fatigue, and increases in interest rates. The greatest deceleration of month-to-month price growth was found in the single-family segment when compared to townhome and apartment property types.


When it comes to buyers moving out of cities and into other areas, largely thanks to the freedom of remote working, Cathcart believes this trend will continue for some time after the pandemic, but not at its current rate. It will take time for companies and individuals to settle into the post-pandemic world, which will result in some continued movement in and out of cities in the meantime.


“Housing is typically a long-term thing you would plan for, but there’s not a lot of certainty about what a post-COVID world is going to look like yet,” explained Cathcart.


For urban buyers who may have traded in their single-family home and relocated to a more affordable place in the country, Cathcart predicts some people may purchase a smaller condo near their city workplace as a go-between.


“There have been lots of questions about whether this urban exodus will continue or reverse itself, but it’s more complicated. Maybe you buy that retirement place up in cottage country, but you also get yourself a condo in Toronto and that’s your pied-à-terre to go back into the office when you do have to do it,” he said. “Maybe your place of employment moves away or closer to you, or maybe you decide to take a new job closer to your new home, or one that is entirely remote work? There are a lot of moving parts to this.”


If you’re looking to upgrade to a larger property, or want more insight on COVID-19 trends in your local market, consult the advice of a qualified REALTOR® for the most up-to-date insights. 



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/will-the-desire-for-larger-homes-be-a-permanent-change/20950/1361

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In the day-to-day craziness of life, balancing the needs of family, work and self can often create a high-stress schedule that keeps the tempo high and relaxation a precious commodity. Consider making your home an island of calm as an important source of balance.


Keeping it simple, no matter the style
The Japanese call it kanso – simplicity – after one of seven Zen principles, and you don’t need to be a minimalist to apply it to your space. In fact, these tips work even if you’re a shabby chic bohemian maximalist though, of course, your methods of incorporating will vary from your modernist industrial friends or neighbours. It’s all about what brings you peace, so feel free to try any or all these tactics.


Kill the clutter
One designer’s bric-a-brac is another person’s junk pile, so “clutter” can be a very subjective idea. Sometimes the best thing to do to kick start the decluttering process, is a deep clean. No matter how busy your decorating scheme, though, certain places must be clutter-free, such as the kitchen counters and sink. Keep traffic areas clear for easy movement and, if anything is closing in on you when you sit down, let it be the arms of a wingback chair. Any time cozy turns to cramped, there’s a decluttering opportunity.


Get natural
There’s no need to be knee-deep in Arts and Crafts to benefit from the peace the natural world offers. It may be as simple as putting up a window treatment around a view of your favourite flowers in the garden. Natural light is often a stress reliever in weather fair or foul.

The principle is called biophilia – the love of nature – and a touch of it in your design scheme can be both personal and calming. Your choice of houseplants, for instance, can help bring a personal focal point to a room.


See the light
Don’t take your lightbulbs for granted! Using different sources, including natural light (or its absence), can evoke virtually any emotion, so choose wisely. Few people would think of a fluorescent fixture over their bed as a relaxing way to ease into sleep. Think of light as a design layer as well as functional. Add lighting styles and levels to help you relax.


Colour and calm
Most people have a sense of the colours they respond to, as well as moods the colours evoke. Yet, there are also many people trying to relax in rooms lined with generic builder’s paint. Consider how colour psychology influences your sense of calm and make the switch.


Comfort quotients
Some like silk while others like linen. Design isn’t strictly about appearance. An attractive bedding option moves from satisfactory to superior when it’s made from a fabric you love to touch. Aromatherapy may be as simple as a light wave of vanilla or refreshing hints of lavender. Comfort can arrive through any of your senses, and any of these can bring you peace.

Most everyone has seen a sofa they love but, after trying it, wonder what sort of creature it was designed for, since it’s obviously not comfortable for humans. There’s a reason why the stereotype of the dad with the ratty recliner exists. Sometimes comfort is in the behind of the beholder.


Heal thyself
No one knows what speaks to you quite like you do. No matter how sparse or busy your personal design style, never forget the touches that bring you peace. Perhaps it’s a photo from a recent vacation, a curio you received as a gift or maybe an old canoe paddle that reminds you of long-ago summers at camp.

Managing stress is a big part of a balanced life in today’s busy world. Caring for our homes is an extension of caring for ourselves, so approaching design with calmness in mind is hardly a pretension, but instead a powerful tool for wellness.



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/finding-calm-design-trends-to-balance-stress/

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For many Canadians, a home represents a secure, stable asset and an investment in their future.


Despite the challenges with housing affordability across the country, research shows homeownership can play a significant role in reducing inequality—with benefits that extend across income levels, ages and regions.


Lower-income Canadians benefit most from owning a home

This isn’t limited to high-income households—in fact, it’s more significant for lower-income households, according to data laid out in our recently released white paper, The Homeownership Dividend for Canadians. For many lower-income households, a principal residence may be their only source of wealth, which means the benefits are even more pronounced.



“Home is way more than just a house—home is a feeling, home is a sense of belonging,” says Stevenson. “There are financial benefits to owning a home, but when we’re talking about reducing inequality through homeownership, it’s significant. Regardless of what price point you enter the market, you benefit from market appreciation, from having an asset that helps you with access to financial vehicles.”


For the 8.5 million Canadian households with incomes below $56,495, housing represents nearly half of their total net worth. That’s why homeownership for low- and middle-income families is key to reducing inequality across the country, particularly for new Canadians and millennials, according to the white paper.


A 2018 study by Mortgage Professionals Canada (which draws on data from the LeForge House Price Survey and Statistics Canada’s Household Spending) shows the financial advantages of homeownership not only compare positively with other housing options, but are even greater for lower-income households. These findings also held for non-home assets, reflecting a greater propensity to save and invest among homeowners.


“We talk often about the high price of the average Canadian home, but with lower priced homes and markets, there’s still an equality benefit of getting into the housing market. We’ve seen appreciation increase over the years,” says Stevenson. Even for first-time home buyers who get into the housing market at a much lower price point, he says, they still receive that equality benefit.


Homes are an asset that increase net worth

Principal residences account for more than a third of the total value of Canadian assets, according to Statistics Canada’s 2019 Canadian Survey of Financial Security. For families who own their home, the value of their home doubled (on average) from 1999 to 2019. And as the value increases, we’ve seen a proportionate increase in median family net worth across the country.


“There’s a lot of financial benefits,” says Lisa Patel, President of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board and a member of CREA’s Federal Affairs Committee. “It’s a stable asset class and it can offer a straightforward way to build your wealth and save for retirement.”


While homeowners may be tied to a mortgage, they’re also tied to an asset class—one that continues to increase in value. “You’re building wealth for your family, your kids, your grandkids, so there are many different financial gains,” says Patel. “It’s a sound long-term investment versus the stock market.”


For example, in 2015 Habitat for Humanity—a non-profit organization that helps local communities address a variety of housing needs and provides support for affordable housing around the world—surveyed 402 households with a habitat home in the U.S. state of Minnesota. More than half of respondents reported having more money after moving into a habitat home, with a 20% reduction in the use of government assistance.


And a 2013 study of an American-based prime mortgage program—a collaboration between researchers from one Korean and two American universities—found if respondents maintained homeownership for at least three years, low- and middle-income homeowners experienced a greater increase in net worth, including non-housing assets, than renters. The results held up even during the 2008-09 recession.


All age groups reap the benefits

These financial benefits also extend across age groups, from young first-time home buyers to pensioners living out their retirement. Statistics Canada’s 2019 Canadian Survey of Financial Security, for example, shows a significant financial advantage from homeownership across age groups.


“If you purchase a home and you keep it for your entire amortization period, at the end of the day it’s paid off,” says Jill Oudil, CREA’s Chair-Elect. “That assists you not just during the time you own the home, but in your retirement years.” That’s becoming even more important as people tend to live longer compared to previous generations.


But as they build equity, they also have the freedom to upgrade, such as moving from a condo to a semi-detached house. Or, in retirement, they could trade across rather than up, moving to a larger countryside home without incurring debt.


“The younger you can get started, the better,” says Oudil. “If you need a roommate, get a roommate.” That might not be your goal or preference, she says, but it helps people get in the market. Or, a family might buy a home, live in the basement for a few years and rent out the main floor to start building wealth.


“For a lower-income household it raises the level of investments they have, and it will grow their long-term equity,” says Oudil. That in turn, promotes a sense of purpose and fulfillment, which has a positive impact on their families and their communities.


Research backs homeownership as a policy goal

But homeownership isn’t a panacea. There’s no guarantee of financial security and it’s not necessarily the right answer (or the only answer) for every Canadian. But research from Canada and around the world shows the financial benefits of homeownership can be significant—regardless of income, age and geography.


Indeed, the financial dividend “is a crucial part of why governments have historically supported homeownership,” as we noted in the white paper, “and why it would be a mistake to abandon it as a policy goal.”


Homeownership continues to be the single largest source of wealth in Canada, providing net worth and financial security for millions of low- and middle-income households. So, while there’s still much debate on how to best provide access to homeownership opportunities for all Canadians, the research points to why this is so critically important.


Lower-income Canadians benefit most from owning a home
This isn’t limited to high-income households—in fact, it’s more significant for lower-income households, according to data laid out in our recently released white paper, The Homeownership Dividend for Canadians. For many lower-income households, a principal residence may be their only source of wealth, which means the benefits are even more pronounced.
 
“Home is way more than just a house—home is a feeling, home is a sense of belonging,” says Stevenson. “There are financial benefits to owning a home, but when we’re talking about reducing inequality through homeownership, it’s significant. Regardless of what price point you enter the market, you benefit from market appreciation, from having an asset that helps you with access to financial vehicles.”
 
For the 8.5 million Canadian households with incomes below $56,495, housing represents nearly half of their total net worth. That’s why homeownership for low- and middle-income families is key to reducing inequality across the country, particularly for new Canadians and millennials, according to the white paper.
 
A 2018 study by Mortgage Professionals Canada (which draws on data from the LeForge House Price Survey and Statistics Canada’s Household Spending) shows the financial advantages of homeownership not only compare positively with other housing options, but are even greater for lower-income households. These findings also held for non-home assets, reflecting a greater propensity to save and invest among homeowners.
 
“We talk often about the high price of the average Canadian home, but with lower priced homes and markets, there’s still an equality benefit of getting into the housing market. We’ve seen appreciation increase over the years,” says Stevenson. Even for first-time home buyers who get into the housing market at a much lower price point, he says, they still receive that equality benefit.
 

Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/how-homeownership-can-reduce-inequality/20686/1362
https://www.realtor.ca/blog/how-homeownership-can-reduce-inequality/20686/1362
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Check out this fun, budget-friendly project that will help update your space with minimal disruption to your home.


Useful for drawing, jotting memos or words of inspiration, chalkboard paint breaks the “no writing on the walls” rule, to the delight of children and some adults, too! This type of paint can be found in most hardware stores—commonly in black, but also available in colour shades. Great spots for a coat of chalkboard paint include walls in the kitchen, mudroom, entry hall, office or kid’s bedroom. 






MATERIALS
TSP cleaner
Painter’s tape
Sander or sandpaper
Chalkboard paint primer
Chalkboard paint
Brush or roller


HOW TO
Clean the wall with TSP cleaner according to directions on the package.
Outline the area to be painted with painter’s tape.
Sand the wall to be painted.
Apply the appropriate primer; let dry for the required time.
Stir the paint well, then apply with a brush or roller, using two to three coats six hours apart (or according to the manufacturer’s instructions).


Pro Tip: You can also purchase chalkboard spray paint for easy application on small surfaces like furniture or accessories. It’s not designed for painting a wall.



Source: https://www.canadianliving.com/home-and-garden/decor-and-renovation/article/how-to-create-a-chalkboard-wall

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MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.