What’s been described during the past few weeks as a ‘sledgehammer crackdown’ on the Canadian housing market, the new mortgage regulations, some of which came into effect last month, are aimed at strengthening the country’s housing finance system ‘to help protect the long-term financial security of borrowers’ and ‘to improve tax fairness for Canadian homeowners’. 

 

In simple terms, the changes will help ensure that homeowners are not taking on larger mortgages than they can afford. This will be accomplished using a stress test on all new insured mortgages, including those where the borrower has more than 20 percent for a down payment. The test will show whether or not a buyer is able to keep up with mortgage payments should interest rates increase and must be based on the Bank of Canada’s five-year fixed posted rate of 4.64 percent, regardless of the rate that is being offered by the lender. 

 

The stress test will also look at the percentage of household income that is being dedicated to household expenses (GDS). The monthly mortgage payment, heat and taxes cannot exceed 39 percent of the borrowers income. In addition, the TDS (total debt service, which includes the previous stated monthly expenses plus debt repayment) must not exceed 44 percent. 

 

Another aspect of the new regulations covers changes to the ‘eligibility rules for newly insured low-ratio government-backed insured mortgages. These new criteria will help target the funding support provided by government-backed low-ratio mortgage insurance towards safer forms of lending’. Effective November 30, low-ratio mortgages to be insured will include the following requirements:

 

• Maximum amortization of 25 years

• Purchase price under $1,000,000 

• Minimum credit score of 600

• Owner-occupied (if a single unit)

 

The government has also introduced new reporting rules for the primary residence capital gains exemption. This regulation is aimed at addressing the issue of foreign investors ‘flipping’ Canadian properties while claiming a primary residence tax exemption. 

 

For more information, visit https://www.fin.gc.ca/n16/data/16-117_2-eng.asp

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Those cold and snowy winter days will inevitably arrive just like clockwork. Here are some tips to get your property winter ready:

 

 

1. Heating Check-Up

 

Have your heating system serviced by a qualified professional. A gas furnace should be serviced every two years and an oil furnace every year. Change your furnace filter because a dirty filter will cause inefficiency in a forced air heating/cooling system. 

 

2. Chimney Sweep

 

Ensure your fireplace (or any gas, oil, wood or coal heating appliance), chimney and vents are clean. A regular maintenance schedule can help you steer clear of chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from entering your home. 

 

 

3. Gut The Gutters

 

Leaves and other debris can collect up in your eavestroughs over the fall. Blockage causes all types of trouble and can even trigger ice dams. Ensure that downspouts extend at least six feet from your home's foundation.

 

 

4. Repair The Roof

 

Roof repairs should be made before the temperatures drop and the damp weather makes proper repairs almost impossible.

 

 

5. Seal It Up Tight

 

Look for any cracks in your home that need to be repaired. All exterior windows/doors should be closed tightly and repair, or replace weather-stripping as needed. Take down your insect screens so that your home's heating system can do its job and keep the glass condensation-free.

 

 

6. Check Your Alarms

 

Help prevent a fire, or carbon monoxide poisoning in your home by regularly changing the batteries in these detectors. The Office of the Fire Marshal recommends replacing smoke alarms every ten years, or when it has exceeded the manufacturer's recommended life cycle. Remember, a carbon monoxide detector is now required to be in every home and batteries replaced every six months. Make sure they are positioned beside sleeping areas.

 

 

7. Maximize Hot Air

 

Once your furnace is on, reverse your ceiling fans so that the blades run in a clockwise direction. Energy Star recommends this tip to help push the hot air down into the room. 

 

 

8. Turn Off Exterior Faucets

 

Frozen pipes are a nightmare. Avoid this by draining all the remaining water, turning off all the exterior faucets and disconnecting garden hoses. 

 

 

9. Winterize The Backyard

 

Prepare your gardens, cover and protect bushes and young trees and ensure that you've safely stored away all outdoor furniture and kids toys. 

 

 

10. Take Inventory

 

Make sure you have plenty of the winter essentials on hand. Salt or sand for ice melting and a good shovel or snowblower are must-haves for Canadian winters.

 

 

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The 2017 Sherwin-Williams Colour of the Year was recently announced and this easy neutral is the perfect fit for just about any home’s decor. Poised Taupe is “not cool or warm, nor gray or brown, but rather a weathered, woodsy neutral bringing a sense of coziness and harmony”, according to the colour experts at Sherwin-Williams, an industry leader and the largest retailer of paint and painting supplies in the U.S. 

 

While shades of cool gray have dominated the world of neutral tones for the past five years, a recent homeowner survey by Sherwin Williams found that people were looking for warmer neutrals to incorporate into their home’s décor, such as warm grays, taupes and beiges. 

 

If you’re thinking of selling your home, it is widely agreed that a fresh coat of paint is one of the best ways to update a space. It is also one of the easiest and most affordable home improvement projects to tackle in order to see a high return on your investment. A few $30 cans of paint could translate into thousands in your sale price! 

 

If you’ve recently purchased a home and are trying to make it your own, painting is a fantastic way to make your mark. Warm shades of taupe would work well in the kitchen, living room, family room or bedroom. To add a splash of colour, accessorize with vibrant drapes and pillows or add an accent wall in shades of red, deep teal or even bright yellow.  

 

For more information about painting, visit http://www.sherwin-williams.com

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It’s been two years since regulations came into effect requiring the installation of carbon monoxide (CO)detectors in every home. Yet every year 50 Canadians still perish from carbon monoxide poisoning. 

 

Known as ‘the silent killer’, CO is a tasteless, odorless, invisible gas that is a product of combustion. If you're thinking that there’s no way for carbon monoxide to enter your home, you may be surprised by some of the sources. It is found in fumes of automobiles, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, fireplaces, gas ranges and heating systems. Danger can occur when there is a ‘problem with ventilation, creating a buildup in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space’. 

 

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, chest pain and confusion, though many fall unconscious before they can remove themselves from the affected area. Over time, CO poisoning will cause irreversible brain damage and even death.

 

If your home is still without a CO detector, head to your local hardware store and pick one up for under $50. There are a few different types of detectors on the market - some are battery operated, some are hard-wired into the wiring of your home and some simply plug into an electrical outlet. Because CO mixes with air and doesn’t rise like smoke does, it can be placed at any height in a room but should always be located near sleeping areas. 

 

Be sure to have a conversation with children or elderly relatives living in the home so that they understand the purpose of a CO detector and what action they should take if they hear the alarm. The alarms typically emit a different sound than a standard smoke detector, so make sure your family knows the difference. Just like with smoke alarms, when the carbon monoxide detectors goes off, leave the building and call 911 from a safe place.

 

For more information about carbon monoxide safety, visit the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs at http://www.oafc.on.ca/carbon-monoxide

 

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Mortgage refinancing, home equity loans, home equity lines of credit, second mortgages, secured loans… what’s the difference? These days, there are a variety of ways that Canadian homeowners can ‘free up’ some of the equity they have built up in their existing home, allowing them to access cash needed to finance a major renovation, pay off debt, purchase a new vehicle, etc. 

 

There are a few things to consider when deciding if refinancing is the right option for you so it’s a good time to speak with a mortgage professional to weigh the choices. 

 

Refinancing is always an option for homeowners enjoying the golden years in life, those over 55 who own their own home, don’t have any major debt and are looking for extra money to help with daily expenses, updating their home to meet their needs or any number of personal reasons. 

 

Here are brief descriptions of some of the more popular options available:

 

Refinancing: Most Canadian lenders will allow homeowners to borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of the home. Often providing the best interest rate, refinancing allows borrowers to pay back the money over an extended period of time, even up to 25 years. Keep in the mind that the refinanced portion of your mortgage may have a different interest rate than the original. 

 

Home Equity Line of Credit: A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is similar to a regular line of credit, allowing borrowers to access money on their own timeline, up to the credit limit. You can pay it back and borrow again. Homeowners will have to apply for a home equity line of credit to find out whether they qualify. A lender will allow homeowners to borrow up to 65 percent of their home’s appraised value. 

 

Reverse mortgage: A reverse mortgage allows a homeowners borrow up to 55 percent of the value of their home in a lump sum or fixed monthly payments. In most cases, you will not have to pay the principal and accumulated interest back until you sell your home or pass away. The costs associated with a reverse mortgage are higher and the conditions around the contract are more complex, so be sure to seek the advice of a professional. 

 

For more information on refinancing, visit the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation at https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca

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Home design, much like fashion, is constantly evolving. Granite, just five or six years ago considered the epitome of luxury kitchen design, is now out of favour and quartz is the new standard of excellence. 

 

If you have a major kitchen renovation in your future or just like to keep up to date on kitchen design, the experts at Zillow Digs have compiled a Home Trend Forecast outlining the biggest kitchen trends for 2016. 

 

What’s hot in kitchen design?

 

Tuxedo kitchen cabinets - Long gone are the days of perfectly matching cabinetry. Homeowners are starting to take bigger design risks in the kitchen. Expect to see a rise in tuxedo, or two-toned painted cabinets where the top and bottom doors are painted in complimentary colours such as navy blue and soft gray or beige.

 

Hidden appliances - While stainless steel appliances are still a popular choice, they can feel cold and industrial at times. Over the next year, experts predict a rise in hidden appliance solutions, such as microwave drawers or covered refrigerators, for a kitchen aesthetic that's more approachable and comfortable.

 

Wood paneling (shiplap or barn board) - It's no secret that homeowners love farmhouse kitchens. Experts predict wood paneling, often painted in white, to start popping up in anything from backsplashes to ceilings, bringing a comfortable yet chic design aesthetic to the kitchen.

 

Mixed hardware finishes - Homeowners are becoming comfortable using hardware finishes other than stainless steel, and are even mixing and matching metals for a more eclectic look. From gold to rose gold or black, beautiful hardware accents look like jewelry for the kitchen.

 

What’s passé in kitchen design?

 

Speckled granite
- Homeowners are no longer limited to granite, which can stain and can be hard to maintain. Brown and tan speckled granite, specifically, is phasing out as more countertop materials and styles become available. Quartz, marble and even butcher block are rising in popularity.

 

Short cabinets
- Tall cabinetry gives the illusion that a kitchen is bigger and brighter, so experts predict homeowners to replace shorter top row cabinets with ones that are flush with the ceiling. 

 

Dark brown wood and paint colours
- Light and bright kitchens will only continue to pick up steam over the next year, meaning dark or cherry wood cabinets will continue to fade out of style.  

 

For more information, visit http://www.zillow.com/digs/

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When purchasing or selling a home, occasionally there is some confusion as to what is included in the asking price. Generally speaking, anything that is attached to the home is considered a fixture and is included in the asking price. A handy visual is to imagine taking a home and turning it upside down…whatever is left in place stays with the home as a fixture. Any moveable items that fall out, such as pictures hanging on walls or appliances, are not routinely included and would be referred to as chattels. 

 

When selling a home, your real estate representative will ask you when drawing up the Listing Agreement if there are any fixtures that you would like to exclude. For example, you might wish to take your family heirloom chandelier with you to your new home or the expensive drapes in the formal dining room. The choice is yours. In the case of a chandelier, a buyer may ask that you replace the removed item with a substitute so they are not left in the dark room on closing day. 

 

Alternatively, when making an offer to purchase a home, your realtor will ask if there is anything normally viewed as a chattel that you would like included in your offer. Some buyers ask to have major appliances included or a large piece of furniture that fits a space well. The seller always has the option to decline in this case.  

 

To avoid misunderstandings, verbal agreements are never recommended and inclusions and exclusions should always be detailed in the Listing Agreement and the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (the offer).  An Agreement of Purchase and Sale is like a conversation in writing that expresses the buyer's wish to purchase a property and the proposed terms of sale. It only becomes legally binding when everything is mutually agreed upon and signed by both parties. Among many other important details included in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale is specific information about inclusions and exclusions, or chattels. The buyer and seller need to agree on the chattels and/or fixtures included before signing the offer. 

 

For more information about chattels and fixtures, visit www.wedothehomework.ca.

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There’s a lot you can change about a home, but without a major renovation, square footage is rarely one of them. Making smart use of space can make a room, a floor or an entire house feel bigger. There are plenty of ways to optimize the space in your home to give the appearance of increased space but the key to creating that illusion is to be organized and to find clever ways to maximize every square foot in your home.  Here are some tips, courtesy of www.wedothehomework.ca.

 

Use mirrors: One simple way to make any room seem bigger, longer or wider is to add reflective surfaces like windows and glass that create reflections. Mirrored tabletops or mirror placed under candles or vases can bounce light in different directions. Get creative with your reflective surfaces.

 

Every surface counts: Most of us tend to focus on the flat, horizontal space we have available and ignore the endless possibilities of a vertical surface. Shelves, art and objects can be placed on walls to draw attention upwards which creates the illusion of more space.

 

Brighten up: Make sure to keep curtains and blinds open to allow as much light in as possible. Light makes a room feel larger and more airy. Hanging curtains from the ceiling instead of the window frame will also make the room appear to have more height.

 

Storage creates space: Storage is the easiest way to make any room appear larger than it really is. Using storage bins under beds, in closets and bathrooms can hide clutter and open the room up to more space. Mudroom benches conceal a lot of items such as wet umbrellas and rain gear that can damage hardwood floors.

 

Tips for the kitchen: Dark surfaces can be a big culprit in making rooms seem smaller or – as small as they actually are. By giving cabinets and doors a coat of light paint and using glass on doors to lighten the space you can give the impression of a larger kitchen. Hanging a pot rack on the wall will not only give you more storage for pots and pans – it will add some style to your space.

 

Spacious living places: There are several ways to make the areas you lounge in look larger. Flat screen TV’s can be mounted on the wall or hidden in cabinets and using large, bold pieces of furniture that are proportioned to each other can make any room seem more spacious. The trick is to avoid overstuffed furniture and patterns that are too bold.

 

Creating width: The quickest way to fix up a space is to give it a fresh coat of paint, however wallpaper can be an invaluable tool for increasing space. Tone on tone wallpaper can trick the eye into thinking a room is wider.

 

While a small space will always be small, these tricks can help you to make it look and feel larger. Any sort of clutter can quickly reduce that space so make sure to consider storage options to maintain the illusion of more square footage.

 

For more information, visit www.wedothehomework.ca, a website created by the Ontario Real Estate Association to educate homeowners about the buying and selling process. 

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Bathrooms continue to be one of most often updated rooms in a home. Along with the kitchen, the bathroom is used on a daily basis and a major remodel will often see a high return on investment. These are factors that many homeowners consider when choosing a home improvement project.


So what are the latest trends in bathroom design? According to a recent survey conducted by Houzz, a website and online community about interior design, decor and home improvements, high-tech features are on the rise in updated master bathrooms!


Rather than choosing basic, economical fixtures, the majority of homeowners are opting to splurge on high-end features for the bathroom, in everything from faucets to flooring. Many are forgoing the tub altogether and reconfiguring their space to include spacious walk-in showers, complete with double rain showerheads, heated tile and touch-screen operated water controls. Upgraded high-tech toilets frequently include self-cleaning functions, motion-activated seats and built-in nightlights. Where bathtubs are included, luxury features such as built-in lighting, heated backrests and scented mist dispensers are becoming popular.


According to the experts at Houzz, homeowners are likely adding these luxurious touches given the amount of time they spend in their master bathrooms – 60 percent occupy this room for 30-60 minutes daily, and nearly a quarter are there for over an hour a day!


Most bathroom renovations being tackled nowadays are major overhauls, with four in five renovating homeowners replacing major bathroom features, including flooring (91 percent), countertops (89 percent), sinks (88 percent) and showers (87 percent).


These remodels certainly don't come with a small price tag. Two in five renovating homeowners spend $10,000 - $25,000 (US) on master bathroom renovations. Interestingly, only a third budget for that amount!


The survey also found that the majority of homeowners are forgoing a DIY project and turning to the experts. 90 percent of homeowners said they hired professionals to help with their bathroom projects in 2016, versus just 78 percent in 2015.


You can download the full U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study at http://info.houzz.com/rs/houzz/images/HouzzBathroomStudy2016.pdf.

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When water damage strikes, the wreckage can be as fast as lightning, as destructive as a windstorm and as costly as your last reno job. But there are measures homeowners can take to protect their properties. Here's how:

 

Protect Your Home - In the event of a flood or sewer back-up, there's no peace of mind quite like insurance coverage. Typically, insurance for water damage depends on where you live and your home's construction. Many plans include coverage for certain types of water damage such as sewer back-up, while protection for other types of damage such as flooding may need to be purchased as extra. Check your policy.

 

Basements - To help prevent basement flooding install a sump pump. To protect your home from sewer water damage, you may also want to install a sewer backflow value.

 

Foundation and Exterior Walls - Seal cracks and holes in external walls, joints, and foundations. Pay close attention to areas where piping or wiring extends through the outside walls. 

 

Outside Precautions –Be sure that downspouts direct water well away from your home's foundation. Keep gutters and downspouts clear of leaves, dirt and other debris. Ensure proper grading around your home. Vines should be kept off all exterior walls, because they can help open cracks in the siding, which allows moisture or insects to enter the house. Make sure your roof is in good shape and that shingles are secure. Check windows and doors for leaks, too.

 

Indoor Precautions - Pay attention to higher than normal water bills. This could be from a broken pipe and can lead to structural damage, if left undetected. Get into the habit of occasionally checking for leaks at your water supply line, pipes and under bathroom and kitchen sinks.

 

Check around appliances and fixtures that use water such as dishwashers and toilets. Look at the water supply lines and check for corrosion on fittings and valves. Listen for the sound of dripping water or the refilling of your toilet water supply.

 

Take notice of discoloured, cracked or warped flooring as this can be a sign of a water leak. Be sure to inspect rooms directly below bathrooms. Look for stains on walls or ceilings or a musty smell. Know where your water shut-off valve is located in case you need to turn off the water in an emergency.

 

To help prevent water from freezing in pipes on extremely cold days, leave kitchen and bathroom cabinets open to expose pipes to warmer air.

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When it comes to buying a new home it seems everyone has two lists – the “We absolutely can’t live without it” list and the “Nice to have but we’re willing to live without it” list. However, there are some features of a home that you should really think twice about before downgrading them to the ‘nice to have’ list. Windows are a very important feature both functionally and aesthetically in a home, so when it comes to deciding on a purchase, which list will new windows fall under?

 

The exterior and interior of any home can change drastically with the installation of new windows. Aesthetically they give a clear view of the outside, provide natural brightness in the home and can make any space seem larger. While the physical appeal that windows can bring to a space is undoubtedly a draw, there are some other very practical and cost efficient reasons to appreciate new installations that go beyond curb appeal – especially in an older home. Here is more information, courtesy of www.wedothehomework.ca.

 

What are the benefits of new windows?

 

  • UV protection of walls, floors and furnishings
  • Increased curb appeal
  • Low maintenance
  • Reduced sound transmission
  • Improved security
  • Improved comfort

 

As any homeowner knows, there are many hidden costs when purchasing a home as well as regular maintenance and potential problems that can go wrong and end up being very costly such as a broken furnace, leaky roof or broken appliances just to name a few. New windows can be very costly and keeping older windows can not only devalue the home but also cost more in heating and cooling. Today’s new windows are designed to harmonize with a home’s look and personality and will save homeowners frustration, annual repair and upkeep costs and reduce energy costs by up to 35 per cent.

 

Not only will new windows provide energy efficiencies and reduce noise from entering or leaving the home, they also offer additional security from potential break-ins. The simple fact that most new windows are made from vinyl or fiberglass also means that you don’t have to worry about painting and cleaning is far easier.

 

Older windows can lead to greater costs down the road such as loss of heat and cold air and potential moisture and mould build-up that can lead to further structure damage. Loose seals can create drafty areas in the home and allow heat to escape and cold air, dust and insects to enter.

 

Once you weigh the pros and cons of new windows versus the original and size up the potential costs down the road, you may want to add new windows to your ‘must have’ list. The cost and frustration you save yourself can help you to truly enjoy your dream home all year round.

 

For more information, visit www.wedothehomework.ca, a website created by the Ontario Real Estate Association to educate homeowners about the buying and selling process. 

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What do you consider most important when it comes to your financial priorities? Saving for the future? Paying down debt?


According to a recent BMO Wealth Management Study, your response may be dependent on your age. The report, which was released last month, found that the most important financial priority for Millennials – those aged 18-34 - is to save more. Respondents aged 35-54 saw reducing or eliminating debt as their top priority, while Canadians aged 55 and over stated that investing effectively and tax efficiency was their number one financial goal. The report found that twenty-nine percent of Canadians are concerned they will not be able to save enough to reach their financial goals.


Whether you're just starting out in life or are enjoying your golden years, here are BMO's tips for financial planning at life's various stages:


New Graduates: Now is the time to put a plan in place, whether it's saving for a down payment or reducing outstanding student debt. By establishing a budget that focuses on saving and reducing borrowed amounts - as opposed to spending on current wants - it may be possible to achieve these goals more quickly.


Parents: When gifts are given to children on birthdays and holidays, parents may wish to use this tradition as an opportunity to teach children about the importance of balancing between spending on current wants and the desire for future needs. Parents should also consider life, creditor, critical illness and disability insurance to protect their families in the event the unexpected occurs.


Retirees: Reducing expenses and having a consistent cash flow or income stream in retirement is important to help make accumulated savings last. This is a good time to consider scaling back on financial support paid to younger family members. If one's goal in retirement is to travel, financial plans should be built with this expectation in mind, including the cost of travel medical insurance.

To view a copy of the full report, please visit: www.bmo.com/wealthreports.

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You bought a home! Congratulations! Your offer was accepted, the home inspection went well and all the conditions have been met…so what's next on your to-do list? Other than packing of course, there are a number of steps you'll need to take in preparation of the big day:

 

The first is to get your lawyer involved. Your real estate professional will fax the Agreement of Purchase and Sale to your lawyer, who will then complete a variety of tasks on your behalf - checking title, preparing the land transfer, etc.

You will need to provide all necessary documents to your mortgage lender.

 

Arrange for homeowner's insurance to begin the day of closing. You can often get a discount for "bundling" so check rates with your auto and/or life insurance provider first.

If you are a renter, give ample notice to your landlord.

 

Call the local utility companies to set up hydro, water, gas, cable, telephone, etc.

Inform all necessary parties of your upcoming change of address – credit card companies, magazine subscriptions, the Ministry of Transportation, Canada Revenue Agency, insurance company, employer, etc. You can also arrange through the post office for all of your mail to be redirected to your new address for a specified period of time.

 

Start saving. As tempting as it is to go out and buy furniture, décor items and more for your new house, closing day will bring with it some hefty costs, including legal fees, hook-up charges, moving costs, and more.

 

Arrange for a final walk-through at your new address. Your real estate professional will accompany you as you tour the home for one last time before moving day. Bring a tape measure to check room sizes!

 

A day or two before closing, you will meet with your lawyer to sign all necessary documents.

 

Finally, when the big day arrives, your lawyer will contact you when you can pick up the keys to your new home!

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If older homes are your style, you're buying into the benefit of careful craftsmanship and attention to detail that seems to have disappeared over the past few decades. However, older homes have older materials that can either add charm or leave a hole in your pocket. In order to determine if an older home is worth its price tag, you'll have to see what can be saved and what should be scraped and add those costs to the price of your potential new home.

Many homeowners are drawn the character of older homes because of the detail and quality we don't see as often today. Older homes often have floors that show their age in a very romantic way, however, along with the beauty of wide floorboards and the rich patina earned by years of wear can also come the squeaks, stains, smells and other tell tale signs of its age. While age brings character to a floor, it can also bring concerns.

So how can you determine if the floors in your future home are worth salvaging before you sign? Here is more information, courtesy of www.wedothehomework.ca.

When it's better to replace than refinish

Floors with the following indicators may not be worth the elbow grease:

1. Boards that have structural issues such as having to remove the boards to replace a subfloor.

2. Over-sanded floors where the tongue and groove is deteriorating.

Is this floor worth salvaging?

There are more cases when saving a floor is far more cost-effective and satisfying than replacing it. Even bug-infested boards can be replaced. The following signs will tell you that your floor is worth saving:

1.Squeaks are common in older floors but don't write them off. This is a fixable problem and just takes a skilled handyman to quiet the noise by applying a lubricant and tightening the floor.

2.Small areas of damage don't mean the whole floor has to go. These can be patched and re-stained to match the rest of the floor.

3.Stains aren't permanent either. Most stains are surface stains and can be removed with sanding. Deeper stains will come up a bit and can be hidden with new stain and a great area rug.

Almost any old floor can be salvaged and it is considerably cheaper and more visually rewarding to refinish instead of replacing a floor. You'll also get the benefit of its natural characteristics such as mineral streaks, knotholes and dings and bangs that give it a unique look on every board.

For more information, visit www.wedothehomework.ca, a website created by the Ontario Real Estate Association to educate homeowners about the buying and selling process.

 

 

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Purchasing a home can rank among life's most stressful events. Signing a closing contract obliging yourself to the payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars over a 30-year period, can leave anyone wanting to run for the hills. Anxiety is common with any large investment, especially the purchase of a new home. Buyer's remorse is an emotional response in the form of regret, fear, depression or anxiety, very common to new homeowners. The key is to feel confident as you look toward your future.

Wants & Needs

Reading through your original list of wants and needs, will remind you what made this home stand out. Ensuring your top priorities have been met will reassure your decision. This house was very special a few days ago, so try and understand what has changed. Is this truly a bad purchase or is there something else making you hesitate?

Trust Yourself

Easier said than done, you need to trust your instincts. You are not able to predict the future, but you can prepare yourself. Get a home inspection, review your finances and reassess your perspective. Being knowledgeable will curb your anxiety. Remember the hard work that has brought you to this moment and be proud of your accomplishments. If you are satisfied with your research, it is time to stop looking at other houses and be confident in your purchase.

Beware Helpful Advice

Sometimes remorse can creep in as you talk with different people. While most mean well, check your uncertainties against facts and figures. Parents may feel you have overpaid, neighbours may have had bad experiences or friends might have higher expectations, but these are not reliable figures. Seasoned homeowners can offer helpful advice, but it may be some time since they purchased a home. You may have a better understanding of the housing market and area retail values. Being informed can help convince loved ones (and yourself) of your purchase.

Your Real Estate Agent

You're not in this alone. Choose a real estate agent who will guide you through all steps of your purchase, including the closing process. A veteran of the housing market will advise you between your worries and legitimate property concerns. Always contact your agent with questions before they snowball into doubt and panic. Take advantage of their expertise, it is their job to make this process as smooth as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

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There are many things to think about when hiring a business to complete an urgent home repair. It may not feel like there is enough time to do the proper research, but even under a time-crunch, it is still important to choose a reliable business. In Ontario, consumers are protected under the Consumer Protection Act when hiring a business, whether you're rushing to hire a contractor after an unexpected flood, or considering a door-to-door deal.

"A cash deal may seem appealing when you're unexpectedly faced with a home repair. Some businesses may rely on high-pressure situations, limiting your time to make an informed decision and tempting you with low-ball offers. Ontarians have protections under the Consumer Protection Act to deal with disputes and complaints. Take the time to get the deal in writing and consider all options before hiring," said Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

Before you hire for home repairs, follow these steps, courtesy of Consumer Protection Ontario:

Do your research

  • Start by asking friends and family for recommendations of businesses that specialize in the repair type you need. Consider dealing with local businesses to make it easier to check references, enforce a warranty or have follow-up work done.
  • Ask to see the contractor's credentials before hiring. Not having the right paperwork, such as contracts, identification, licences or permits is a warning sign that a business may not be reputable.
  • Check the Consumer Beware List at www.ontario.ca/page/search-consumer-beware-list to see if there are any recent charges, convictions, orders, actions or unanswered complaints against the businesses you are considering. Online resources can also be a great tool to search business reviews.
  • Get multiple quotes
  • Get at least three estimates and compare them. It might be a red flag if one deal is significantly lower.

Take your time

Give yourself some time to consider an offer. If you have home insurance, be sure to speak to your claims adjuster before agreeing to any work in your home. Once you hire a business, don't pay the full amount up-front. Keep your deposit to 10 per cent, and pay the full amount in installments or when work is complete.

Get a written contract

It's important to have a written contract to protect yourself from fraud. Avoid cash deals - without an agreement in writing, you risk the business cashing in your deposit and never finishing - or even starting - the job they were hired to do. It is difficult for you to prove there was an agreement if you do not have it in writing.

Your Rights:

  • Did you know that the Consumer Protection Act gives you special rights when you buy something for your home that costs more than $50? Visit www.ontario.ca/page/your-rights-under-consumer-protection-act to learn more.
  • When you enter into a contract at home, you have the right to cancel the contract, without any reason and without penalty, within a 10-day cooling-off period (20 days for water heaters) that runs from when you receive a written copy of the contract. (Reasonable compensation may be owing to the business in specific circumstances).

Want more information? Visit www.ontario.ca/page/consumer-protection-ontario.

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Make your move a stress-free one! The smart first step for both parties is finding a real estate professional you are comfortable working with. They will be the guiding light during the entire process.
 
For buyers, here are five tips for ensuring a successful real estate transaction:
 
1. Avoid overspending at all costs. Establish a budget and stick to it, no matter what. Being "house poor" will definitely overshadow the initial joy you feel from purchasing a home.
 
2. Don't get emotionally involved. It's easier said than done, but if a deal doesn't go through - whether it's an issue with price, conditions or a bidding war - be prepared to walk away knowing that your perfect house IS still out there!
 
3. Try to see the big picture. Don't get hung up on paint colours, a messy yard or ugly light fixtures. These are all easy fixes. Instead use big-ticket items, like the condition of the furnace, windows and roof to help aid in your decision.
 
4. Location, location, location. It's the one thing you can never change about the house you buy.
 
5. Start an emergency fund. Unforeseen (and expensive) issues can arise at any time for homeowners. Having funds set aside specifically for this purpose will bring peace of mind.
 
Tips for sellers:
 
1. Spend money to make money. To maximize your home's selling potential, make any necessary minor repairs, give tired walls a fresh coat of paint or hire a stager.
 
2. Don't over price. It's a waste of everyone's time, including yours.
 
3. Never underestimate the power of a clean house. Your home should be spotless for showings and open houses. No exceptions!
 
4. Start packing as soon as the deal has been finalized. Just pack a few boxes every day. Procrastinating on this time-consuming chore will leave you stressed out as the days get closer to moving day.
 
5. Research your movers. Nothing messes up a moving day more than unreliable movers, so be sure to ask friends and family for recommendations, do some research and get everything in writing.
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If you're lucky enough to convince half a dozen strong, able-bodied friends to dedicate their Saturday helping you with your move, kudos to you! If not, and you've decided to hire a moving company, there are a few things you can do in advance to ensure that things go smoothly on the big day.

 

You've done a lot of work to get to this point, between preparing your home for sale, sealing the deal and packing up all of your worldly belongings. The last thing you need is unnecessary stress on your closing date/moving day.

First, ask around for a moving company recommendation. Check with friends, colleagues, neighbours and family for referrals. If you're not able to get a good referral from a trusted source, check online websites like Kijiji, but proceed with caution! Ask the company to provide at least three recent references and follow-up with them. Request a meeting ahead of time to get a feel for the individual. Are they professional, prepared and courteous? Did they show up on time?

Once you've chosen a mover, get everything in writing. It's the law. According to Ontario's Consumer Protection Act (CPA), all moving contracts worth more than $50 must be in writing. Under the CPA, your contract must include:

 

1. The mover's name, address and contact information

 

2. A description of the service(s) and their prices

 

3. The total cost that you will have to pay, additional charges that may apply and taxes

 

4. Start and end dates for the service

 

5. The terms of payment (cash or cheque)

 

Other items that should be included in the contract are size and value of items, who is responsible for loss or damage, the number of staff and vehicles that will be provided and the name of the person who holds their insurance policy.

Hopefully with a little research ahead of time, you can help ensure a stress-free moving day!

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Now that the kids are out of school, parents will be looking for things to do to keep them busy!

 

This is the perfect month to get the kids outside and learning about nature, especially when nature's so close to home – the garden! Why not plant a tree, create a window box, start a vegetable garden or plant flowers in personalized container planters?

 

If you have a recently moved into a new home, planting a tree is a fantastic way to plant your roots (literally!) at your new address. It's importance to do some research first, and be sure to involve the kids in this initial step. Find out what kind of soil you have at home, consider how much space you are working with and decide how big you want the tree to grow. Some trees will do well in cold Ontario winters and others are good for small to medium-sized backyards, including Newton Sentry Sugar Maple (12 metres height, spread of 2.5 metres), Single seed Hawthorn (10 by 4 metres), Pencil Point Common Juniper (10 by 1.5 metres)and Upright English Oak (15 by 5 metres).

 

If you don't have the space for sprawling flowerbeds, container gardening is the way to go. Let your kids help choose the flowers. A good rule of thumb to think of when selecting flowers is this: you need a thriller, some fillers and a spiller. The thriller is your bold, centrepiece plant - purple fountain grass or large red coleus are good options. Next you need your fillers, those that will surround the thriller. Begonias, dusty miller or marigolds would work well. Your spiller is the plant that will eventually cascade over the edges of your container - sweet potato vine and verbena are good choices. Purchase a good quality potting mix and remember that container plants dry out very quickly on hot, sunny days. Let kids take on the responsibility of daily watering.

 

Finally, teaching children the basics of growing their own food is a lesson they won't soon forget. Keep it simple and small to start and select a few vegetables they enjoy eating. Peppers, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce mixes and snap peas are good options. Choosing a spot for your garden is an important step - aim for full sun as veggies need 6-8 hours of sun per day. Ask an expert at your local garden centre for tips on perfecting the soil in your vegetable garden.

If you have a crafty kid at home, have them create DIY plant makers for your garden. Pick up plain, wooden paint stirrers at your local hardware store, paint them various colours and write the names of your vegetables or flowers on them. You could also find small, flat rocks, paint them bright colours and write the names on them.

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With summer finally here and the kids out of school, many families will be heading on family vacations! But just as excited as you are for the holidays, so are burglars who are paying close attention to what's being posted on social media. To help you have peace of mind while on holidays, here are some tips from insurance company Aviva Canada Inc. on some precautions to take, in particular with social media, to protect homes and belongings from theft while away from the home.

 

1. Keep your upcoming vacation plans off of social media and remind your kids to do the same. Ideally, hold off on posting pictures or revealing destination and duration until you get back. While you may be diligent with who can see what you post, some of your friends may not have tight privacy settings. Consider how and when you are posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and any other social media platforms you may use.

 

2. Upgrade the locking systems on your doors and windows. Also inspect window or door frames to ensure thieves could not easily force entry. Ensure all windows and doors are locked when out of the home or overnight.

 

3. Make a home look occupied when you're away. Park a car in the driveway, leave some lights and a radio on, ask a neighbour to collect mail and newspapers and have your lawn mowed.

 

4. Install a security device with a loud alarm or flashing lights. Some alarms contact authorities directly when they have been activated.

 

5. Do a home inventory with your video camera. It will take minutes but will save you the stress and heartache of listing all of your possessions.

For more tips, visit www.avivacanada.com/article/summer-vacation-facebookinstagram-–-here's-why-thieves-love-them-both

 

 

 

 

 

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Hanna Gillis

Office: 905-476-4337

Fax: 905-476-6141

Cell: 905-251-3520

hannagillis@royallepage.ca

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