Nicole Landry-Milner   |   204-255-4204

 

You don’t have to freeze in the winter or start reading by candlelight to reduce your electricity bill. There are many simple ways to use less power with little, if any, impact on your lifestyle.

 

A good place to start is with your electronics.

 

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “Any gizmo that has a clock, digital timer, remote control or standby mode is sucking energy when it's not being used (it's called 'phantom electricity' — and it's scary how much of it there is).” So keep them unplugged as much as possible. Also, unplug charger cords for phone and computers when not in use. Even when not connected to the device, they still suck power.

 

Another easy change to make involves your lights. Switching to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED light bulbs can save you a lot of energy. They’re 75% more efficient.

 

Finally, the old-fashioned method of insulating doors and windows can work wonders for lowering your electricity bill. In fact, some particularly drafty homes can lose up to 40% of their heat. Check for drafts regularly and repair or replace insulation as needed.

 

None of these ideas will impact your day-to-day living. Yet, they could potentially save you a bundle.

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No matter how much you love your current property, you may be dreaming of the day you can buy up into a better home in a better neighbourhood.

Is that day today, or, is it a few years down the road?

Here’s a quick way to make that assessment.

First, make a list of all the practical reasons why it might be time to move up. Those reasons might include features such as: more bedrooms, proximity to work and school, a larger backyard with trees, nearby parks and walking paths and better access to things you enjoy like theatre.

Next, make a list of the emotional reasons for making such a move. Those reasons might include memorable get-togethers with friends on a more spacious deck, an easier and less stressful commute to work, more family time with the kids and enjoyable Saturday golf at a nearby course.

Finally, take a financial snapshot to determine if you can afford to move up. You’ll need to get a good idea of what your current property will sell for in today’s market, average price of homes in your desired neighbourhood, and how much mortgage you’ll need.

Once you have all that down on paper, you’ll have a clear picture of your readiness. If the practical and emotional reasons for buying up are compelling, and you can afford to make the move, then you have your answer.

The time is now!

By the way, if you need help in making this determination – especially figuring out what your home will likely sell for, call today.

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When you’re about to sell your home, it may be disheartening to see so many other properties for sale in your neighbourhood. You may be thinking, “That’s a lot of competition! Will our property get noticed?”

 

Fortunately, there are many proven strategies for standing out in a sea of For Sale signs.

 

First of all, keep in mind that many home purchasers come from the REALTOR’S personal network of buyers who want to move into your area. So, choosing the right REALTOR® is crucial.

 

Second, remember that when there are other properties for sale on your street, curb appeal becomes even more important. There are many simple things you can do to make your property look great to those driving around looking at homes. Make sure your property looks as picture perfect as possible.

 

In a competitive market, it’s also more important than ever to highlight features of your home that are unique and enticing. If, for example, you have a large backyard deck and brand new hardwood flooring, make sure these are mentioned prominently on the feature sheet.

 

Finally, be as flexible as you can be when scheduling viewings and open houses. Don’t forget that other listed properties in your neighbourhood draw in buyers, who may notice your home. It’s not uncommon for a buyer to view a property and then scout the neighbourhood. So, you want buyers to be able to see your home on short notice and at a convenient time for them. If there are several other nearby properties for sale, it means things are hot from a real estate point of view. You want to roll out the red carpet to buyers.

 

Looking for help selling your home quickly and for the best price? Call today!  

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A pantry is the ideal nook for storing extra food and other items ordinarily crammed into the kitchen. It’s also a nice design feature, as it harkens back to the days of country kitchens with spacious pantries.

 

You might be thinking, “That’s nice, but our home doesn’t have a pantry.”

 

That’s okay. These days, there are many ways to create a pantry in your home – even if it doesn’t have one! Here are just a few suggestions:

 

 

  • Add shelves to the laundry room. If you have the space, this is the ideal place to create a mini-pantry.
 
  • Purchase a portable pantry. There are many available on the market. Some are even disguised as cabinets you’d expect to see in living and dining rooms.
 
  • Purchase a movable pantry. These units are on wheels and can slide in and out of the kitchen with ease. Some are short enough to slide conveniently under a kitchen table.
 
  • Make use of an unused closet. These are rare in most homes, but if you have a closet that isn’t being used, it can easily be converted into a pantry.

 

 

As you can see, there are plenty of options available. You don’t necessarily need to build an extra room!

 

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Figuring out how much time you should spend viewing properties for sale is a little like asking, “How long should I spend trying on shoes?”

The answer seems obvious: As long as it takes to make a decision!

Buying a home is significantly more complex than purchasing shoes – and the stakes are higher too! You need to make sure you have all the information necessary to confidently make the best decision.

There are basically three stages to viewing a property:

 

1. Macro
2. Micro
3. Professional

 

When you view a home on a macro basis, you’re looking at it from an overall perspective. For example, you may do a general walk-through to get a first impression and determine if the property has the basic features you need, such as the number of bedrooms and the size of the backyard.

Macro viewing is often the fastest stage in the viewing process and can sometimes take just a few minutes.

If you like what you see, then it’s onto the micro stage. At this stage you take a closer look at the details of the property. You might, for example, spend extra time in the master bedroom imagining how your furniture would look and fit.

The micro stage takes longer simply because the home is now on your shortlist. You’re interested and are considering making an offer.

Finally, the professional stage involves getting a qualified home inspector to go over the property with a fine tooth comb. That typically occurs after you’ve made an offer.

As your REALTOR®, I will guide you through a viewing so you’ll know what to look for and can make a smart, informed decision. Call today.

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Next to a major kitchen renovation, replacing appliances is the most expensive way to upgrade the space. So if you’re purchasing a new refrigerator, stove or dishwasher in order to make your home more attractive to buyers, you want to make wise purchasing decisions.

 

The most important consideration is how the appliances will look in the kitchen. Ideally, they should match in colour and style. They should also be the right size for the space. The last thing you want is a fridge that’s so large it dominates the room, or a stove that’s a completely different style and looks out-of-place.

 

Appearance is important, but so are the features. Buyers viewing your home will scrutinize the appliances. They’ll notice if the fridge has a cold water and ice dispenser. They’ll ask if the dishwasher has noise-reduction features. Double ovens and quick-heating burners (which are now available on electric stoves) will also get a buyer’s attention.

 

Power consumption is also a big issue these days. Increasingly, buyers are interested in the energy efficient features of a home — appliances included. So, as your REALTOR® I would point out appliances with energy-saving features, such as a dishwasher with a slow-run cycle that saves power.

 

Kitchen appliances may seem minor compared to the overall appeal of your property, but they do make a difference. Purchase wisely!

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When is the best time to meet with a REALTOR® like me? Chances are, you would say, “When I’m thinking of buying or selling a home.” You’d be right, of course!

 

However, there are many other good reasons to meet with me. Here are just a few:

 

  • You want a professional opinion as to the current value of your property, so you know what it would likely sell for in today’s market.
  • You notice a home listed for sale in a desirable neighbourhood, and you’re interested in learning more — even if you’re unsure you want to make a move.
  • You’re thinking of moving within the next couple of years, and you want to find a REALTOR® like me, that you can get to know and trust.
  • You want some recommendations for preparing your home for sale and especially determining what repairs and other work needs to be done.
  • You want an honest assessment as to the state of the local market, and the best time for you to buy or sell.
  • You have real estate-related questions and you want to talk to an expert who knows the local market well and can provide you with answers.

 

As you can see, there’s a lot of value you can get from talking to me as your REALTOR®. Call today.

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Comedian George Carlin’s most memorable routine was, “A place for my stuff.” In it, he talked about dealing with the increasing quantity of items we accumulate throughout life.

 

George was funny. The problem is not. Here are some low-cost ideas for quickly creating storage space for your stuff.

 

    • Attach a cloth pouch or thin plastic basket to the inside of cupboard doors. This is a great way to store Tupperware lids, cosmetics, etc.

 

    • Install hooks inside the foyer closet for loose items such as hats and scarfs.

 

    • Use egg cartons to make effective storage inserts in drawers.

 

    • Fashion stores often put purchases in stiff, high-quality boxes. Placed on their sides, these make effective storage compartments. (Especially shoeboxes.)

 

    • Consider using suitcases for out-of-season clothing. In addition to storage, they also provide protection.

 

    • Never throw out an old wine rack. There are numerous ways these can be used for storage. (Example: for tools.)

 

By thinking creatively, you can probably come up with many other simple ideas for creating more storage. The reward is a home that looks neater and more spacious.

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Imagine if you dreamed of owning a special limited edition vehicle. What would you do to ensure that your dream vehicle would someday be parked in your driveway — with your name on the ownership papers?

 

You would probably start by doing some research. You’d find out how much that vehicle would cost, what features are available, and so forth. You would likely visit a local dealership and take a test drive if a model is available on site. You would keep an eye on the market for any that come up and let the dealer know you’re looking for just that car.

 

If you did, then, some day, you’d probably be the proud owner of the limited edition car of your dreams.

 

What does this have to do with real estate?

 

Well, you can take the same approach when there’s a neighbourhood you’d love to live in someday. You can target it, learn what homes typically cost in that area, and keep your eye on that market in case a property becomes available that meets your criteria.

 

By focusing on a specific neighbourhood, you increase your chances of someday living there, simply because you’re focusing on it.

 

Of course, neighbourhood targeting isn’t as simple as aiming to own a specific car someday. That’s why you need a great REALTOR® who can keep an eye on that neighbourhood on your behalf and alert you to opportunities that become available.

 

Then, when there is a listing that’s a good fit, you can decide whether or not to make a move.

 

Is there a dream neighbourhood you’d like to live in some day? Call today to start making it happen.

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Determining if you should buy a new home or fix up your current one isn’t easy. In fact, the decision can be steeped in so much drama they make reality TV shows about it!

 

So if you’re considering whether to move or improve, here are three things to consider.

 

1. Will a renovation truly fix what you don’t like about your property?

 

If you’re tired of a small kitchen, for example, it might not be possible, given the layout, to make it any bigger. On the other hand, if you’re craving a spacious rec room with a cosy fireplace then a renovation could make that happen.

 

Of course, there are some things you may want that aren’t specific to your house, such as an easier commute or nearby park. Those are features you may only be able to get by moving.

 

2. How much will a renovation cost? How does that compare to the cost of moving to a new home?

 

It’s important to get accurate estimates of each so you can make a smart decision. This is where a good REALTOR® can help.

 

Keep in mind that renovations have a habit of costing more than you originally anticipate. As mentioned earlier, the final result should be a home you want to stay in for quite some time.

 

3. Beware of compromising versus settling.

 

Whichever decision you make — renovate or sell — you can expect to have to make at least some compromises. That’s normal.

 

For example, consider adding an extension to your house. That’s a major renovation. Is it the ideal way to get the extra room you want? Do the benefits of renovating outweigh the benefits of finding a new larger home designed to include the space you need?

 

Yes, it’s a tough decision. If you’re in the midst of making it, call today, to get the facts you need to make the best choice for you.

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There are few things more beautiful than cut flowers in a vase. They instantly brighten any room. That is, of course, until they wilt and die. So how do you make cut flowers last as long as possible? Here are some ideas:

 

  • Cut the bottom of the stems before you put the flowers in the vase. An angled cut is best as this will enable the flower to draw in more water.
 
  • Add a fertilizer to the water. Most flower shops include a pouch with the order. Follow the directions carefully. Don’t use too much.
 
  • Make sure the vase is high enough to support the flowers. Too much strain on the stems will cause the flowers to die sooner.
 
  • After a couple of days, re-snip the stems. This will add an additional day or two to the life of the flowers.
 
  • Flowers last longer if you put them in the fridge (in water) overnight. That’s why florists store cut flowers in cool rooms.

 

Finally, watch the water level and top off as required. Older cut flowers will die quickly when starved of water — even for just a couple of hours.

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Do you ever wonder how most people find the homes they eventually buy? You might imagine them driving by a “For Sale” sign or seeing a home for sale in the newspaper and then calling to enquire.

 

Of course, many buyers find out about listed properties that way. But, according to research by the National Association of Realtors, there are many other — sometimes surprising — ways buyers find their next dream home.

 

For example:

  • 88% of buyers find a home with the help of a real estate agent.
 
  • 90% of buyers search online as part of the home buying process. (Such as viewing a property’s profile on the agent’s website.)
 
  • 69% of buyers searching for a home using Google, use a specific local term, such as “Whitby-south homes for sale”.
 
  • 29-46% of buyers attend an Open House as part of their home hunting activities.

 

Overall, the research shows that buyers are using a multitude of ways — combining online and offline methods — to find homes.

 

What does all this mean to you? If means that if you’re preparing your home for sale, you need to ensure your marketing plan takes into account all the ways buyers are finding properties — so you can be sure that they will find yours.

 

Looking for a REALTOR® who knows how to market your home for maximum exposure? Call today.

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More fires start in the kitchen than in any other room. Those fires can be expensive; since even a minor incident, with no injuries, can result in significant damage. That’s why it’s important to keep up with the latest in fire prevention.

 

The most recent research tells us:

 

  • Never leave cooking food unattended. Doing so is the number one cause of kitchen fires.
  • Make sure cooking appliances, especially deep fryers, are safety certified by the appropriate government agency.
  • When using oil in a frying pan, always heat slowly at no more than a medium heat setting.
  • Always turn off stove burners and other cooking appliances immediately after cooking.
  • Never attempt to put out a grease fire with water. Use baking soda or a fire extinguisher.
  • Never remove or cover up a smoke detector due to nuisance alarms. The one alarm that isn’t a nuisance may save your life.

 

Finally, experts say that if you can’t put out a fire immediately, get everyone out of the home and call emergency services.

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As you’re probably aware, the list price you set for your property has an impact on how quickly it sells — and how much you earn on the sale.

 

What you may not realize is just how significant an impact it has. Consider the following examples.

 

Example 1:

You price your property well above its current market value. As a result, many buyers don’t bother to see it because it’s outside of their price range. Those who do see it are confused by the high price tag, (and may even be suspicious.) They may wonder, “What’s going on?”

 

In this scenario, the home will likely languish on the market for weeks or even months. You might even have to lower the price dramatically to re-ignite interest.

 

Example 2:

You price your property just a couple of percentage points lower than what is necessary to gain the interest of qualified buyers. That might not seem like much of a problem. How much can a couple of percentage points matter?

 

Those points matter a lot.

 

On a $400,000 property, pricing your home just 2% lower than necessary could cost you $8,000 on the sale. That’s a serious amount of money!

 

So, as you can see, pricing your home right is serious business. Fortunately, a good REALTOR® knows how to set the right price.

 

Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call today.

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The phrase “first impressions last” doesn’t only apply to person-to-person interaction. A buyer’s first impression of your home can make or break their decision to buy it, so cash in on that first impression by making sure your home is in perfect shape! By simply taking time to clean your house and rid it of unnecessary clutter, you are raising the value of your property without hurting your finances. Sound surprising? Not really.


Many real estate professionals maintain that a home’s cleanliness is one of the biggest factors in determining its market value. To make sure that you’ve got all bases covered, Clean Conscience provides us an easy-to-follow cleaning checklist. Check it out:



 

Here are a couple more points to remember:

 

  • Avoid accidents. You don’t want your buyers to meet an accident (however small) while doing a walkthrough of your home, so make sure to put away children’s or pets’ toys. Watch out for fixtures in your home that may cause accidents as well, such as loose tiles, open drawers or cupboard doors, etc.

  • Keep private things private. Before welcoming a buyer to your home, keep in mind to put away your personal effects out of sight, especially in areas like the bedroom and bathroom. These include used clothes/laundry and toiletries such as toothbrushes, shavers, and the like.

  • Pay attention to odor-causing areas. Make sure your buyers don’t catch a whiff of something stale in the kitchen or an offensive smell from the bathroom. Remember to scrub the kitchen sink drain to rid it of odor-causing bacteria, and throw stale food away. In the same vein, don’t forget to disinfect and deodorize the bathroom before the buyers come!

 

It’s not that difficult to earn from a huge investment such as your home if you maintain it well and keep it clean. With these friendly tips, we hope that you will be able to impress your buyers and get them signing papers in no time. Should you feel the need to give your property one last walk-through, don’t forget to take the checklist with you! Good luck, and may first impressions favor you well.


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When you make an offer on a home, it’s a smart idea to have a professional home inspector check it out from top to bottom. This inspection will ensure that the property doesn’t have any unexpected “issues”. After all, you don’t want to buy a home only to discover that the roof needs to be replaced, immediately, for thousands of dollars.

 

That being said, you might question whether you really need to invest the few hundred dollars it costs for a professional home inspection. “The home we want to buy looks like it’s in very good shape,” you might be thinking. “I can’t see anything wrong with it.”

 

However, a professional home inspector can see things you can’t. When you view a property that’s on the market, you might be able to notice obvious issues, like a crack in the foundation or a dripping faucet. If you’re experienced with home maintenance, you might even notice roofing tiles that look like they’re overdue for replacement.

 

But you won’t pick up all the issues a home inspector can.

 

A home inspector will, for example, use a special device to check for moisture build-up in the washrooms – which can be an indication of mould. He or she will also inspect wiring to make sure everything is safe and compliant with the building code.

 

That’s not all.

 

Like a determined detective, a home inspector will investigate the property’s structure, electrical and plumbing systems, insulation, and other components — and then report the findings to you.

 

In the end, a professional home inspection gives you peace-of-mind and protects your investment. So getting one is highly recommended — even for recently built homes.

 

A good REALTOR® can recommend a trusted home inspector for you.

 

Looking for more ideas on making smart decisions when buying a home? Call today.

 

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Many homeowners think there’s not much they can do about telephone, heating, water and other utility expenses. Sure, you may grumble about a high heating bill one month, but what can you do about it?

 

Turns out, you can do plenty. There are several ways to reduce monthly utility costs that can save you tens or even hundreds of dollars. For example:

 

  • Shop around for a better phone plan. Then contact your phone company. They might match the rates.

 

  • Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. You likely don’t need tap water to be that hot.

 

  • Clean the screen on your outside air conditioning unit regularly. (Gently with the water hose.) Dirt and leaves can build up on it, reducing the unit’s efficiency.

 

  • Leverage the sun. Open curtains in the winter to gain heat. Block direct sunlight in summer to keep the cool air inside.

 

  • Scrutinize your bill. There may be extras you’re paying for that you don’t need.

 

  • Play with the thermostat. Experiment with setting the temperature a couple of degrees lower. You might not notice any difference.

 

It’s worth paying attention to your utility costs. Just a few smart moves can save you some serious money.

 

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One of the most important decisions you make when selling your home is setting the listing price. That can be tricky. After all, if you price your property too low, you leave money on the table — perhaps thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if you price your home too high, many buyers won’t even bother to see it, believing it is too expensive.

 

Even with that reality, there are some sellers who contemplate setting a high listing price in the hopes of a windfall. They want some unsuspecting buyer to fall in love with the home and buy it — even though it’s overpriced.

 

That rarely, if ever, happens.

 

Instead, the listing often languishes on the market because its listing price is conspicuously much higher than its market value.

 

Think about it. If two similar homes, side-by-side, are for sale, and one is priced $40,000 higher than the other, wouldn’t you wonder what was going on? That’s exactly what the market thinks. “Why is that home priced so high?”

 

Of course, many buyers, who might otherwise be interested in the property, won’t even consider seeing it, simply because it’s outside their price range.

 

It gets worse. When an overpriced home sits on the market with no offers for several weeks, the price will often need to be adjusted down. That helps the situation a little. However, you’ve lost the excitement created by a “new listing.” Yours is now an old listing struggling to get attention.

 

There’s a better way…

 

Setting your list price at or near the market value is much more likely to generate interest from qualified buyers and maximize how much you make on your home.

 

That market value may even be higher than you think!

 

Interested in finding out how much? Call today.

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