Wouldn't it be nice if you had all the time in the world to find your next dream home? You could leisurely browse the current listings, select homes you'd like to see, schedule visits on dates that are most convenient for you, and make an offer on a property only after you've had plenty of time to consider all the alternatives.


Sure, that sometimes happens, but it's not typical. Often, people shopping for a home are on a timeline. Sometimes a very tight timeline.


So how do you find your next dream home when you don't have all the time in the world?


First, you need to develop a clear picture of the home you're looking to buy. How many bedrooms? What size of property? What type of structure (two story, back split, etc.)? Then, you need to list your preferences. These might include "large kitchen" or "main floor office".


Once you've completed that exercise, you'll have a more detailed profile of the type of property you want. That will make it easier to decide which of the listings on the market you want to see.


You should also narrow down the area in which you'd like to live. If you have three or four targeted areas, and only consider listings in those areas, your home search will be much faster.


What if you don't know the neighbourhoods well? Visit a few. Drive around. Explore. Get as much neighbourhood data as possible, such as demographics, recreational activities, parks, shopping, schools, etc. Then choose the neighbourhoods that fit your lifestyle.


Finally, the best way to find a new home on a tight schedule is to work with the right real estate agent — someone who, like me, is experienced in the local market.


Call me anytime.

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Imagine this scenario...


You're shopping for a new home. You drive to visit a recent listing. As you walk through the front doors, you're impressed. Every room looks fantastic. You see yourself relaxing on the spacious patio, cooking in the modern kitchen, and enjoying evenings with the family in the cozy living room.


Your emotions are on overdrive.


This is your dream home!


Should you make an offer? Probably. In fact, you should make that decision quickly in case there are other interested buyers.


However, your decision shouldn't be guided purely by emotion. You want to make sure you take practical matters into consideration too.


For example, you'll want to consider:


       · Is the property within your price range?


       · Does it have everything you need?


       · Do you like the neighbourhood?


       · How old is the property? Are there items, such as the furnace, that may need to be replaced soon?


       · Will it need any major repairs or upgrades?


       · What are the average monthly costs of carrying the home? (Property taxes, utilities, etc.)


Once you've considered the purchase of the home from a practical standpoint, you'll have a lot more confidence in your decision when you make an offer.


Need help? Call me.

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When you're having a garage sale, one of the toughest tasks is pricing your items. If you put a price tag on your old golf clubs that’s too high, no one will buy them. If you make the price too low, they might sell quickly, but you’ll spend the rest of the day wondering if you could have gotten more!


It's similar to selling your home — except with your home, the stakes are much higher. You want to price your property to sell, but you don’t want to leave any money on the table.


How do you accomplish that?


Setting the right list price for your home requires a combination of skilled calculation and industry savvy.


Let's start with the "calculation" part...


When you work with me, I'll review recently sold properties that are similar to yours in type, size, features and location. Then, using that data, we’ll calculate a range that represents your property's "current market value."


For example, consider a spacious 15-year-old bungalow in a nice neighbourhood. If similar homes in the area have sold for $475,000- $550,000 in the last six months, then it's obvious that your home should sell in that range too. A list price above or below that range would be in the danger zone.


But skilled calculation is only half the task.


Setting your list price also requires expertise in the local market, combined with good old-fashioned gut instinct. That instinct comes from being on the front lines of many property transactions.


That's why working with a good real estate salesperson is so important, when you’re deciding on the list price for your home.


Want to discuss selling your home? Call me.

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Ideally, you would like buyers to wait until they’ve viewed your whole property before they judge it. However, the reality is, buyers start forming an impression of your home as soon as they see it from the curb. So, it pays to do everything you can to improve your property's "curb appeal".


Here are some ideas:


     · You can improve the impact of your landscaping by trimming hedges, removing any unsightly weeds, and cutting             the grass. Planting just a few fresh flowers can make a big impact.


     · If your main entrance door is old, a fresh coat of paint will make it look like new. In some cases, the effect is                     significant.


     · Remove any items that might distract the buyer from forming a good first impression. For example, garbage cans,           stored items along the side of the property, etc.


     · Make sure the curtains and blinds on your front windows are open during viewings. That will make your home look         more friendly and appealing.


     · If your driveway has grease stains and other blemishes, consider renting a power washer and giving the driveway           a thorough cleaning.


     · Clean your front windows. If possible, also clean the exterior panes.


Finally, if possible, park your vehicles on the street and away from your home. Doing this will not only make your home look more inviting to buyers, it will give them a convenient place to park.


Most of these tips can be done in less than a day. Yet, they can make a big difference in your home's curb appeal. They are worth the effort!

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If you're working with a landscaping contractor, you want to develop a good working relationship with that professional, so you can avoid delays, stress and other issues. After all, the last thing you want is a tree planted in the wrong spot because of a misunderstanding!


The same holds true when working with a real estate agent. Whether you're buying, selling, or both, you want the process to go smoothly and successfully. Creating an ideal working relationship with your agent is an important step toward making that happen.


How do you do that?


First, ask your agent to go over the process with you. If you're selling your home, you want to understand the steps the agent is going to take. That way, there will be fewer surprises. In particular, you’ll want to discuss how viewings will be handled. You'll need to come to an agreement as to when your home will be available for viewings, how short-notice viewings will be handled, and whether or not "lockbox access" will be needed.


Don't be afraid to ask questions, even if you're worried about seeming to be naive. (You won't!) You don't want to have unanswered questions or concerns between you and your agent.


Also, know that misunderstandings and mistakes can happen in any relationship with a professional. So if an issue comes up, discuss it right away. Don't let it fester.


Finally, remember that your agent should be a professional like me, with expertise in buying and selling in this market. When I make a recommendation regarding pricing, prepping your home, viewings, etc. remember that I am working in your best interest. I want to sell your property, quickly and for a good price, just as much as you do!


Looking for an agent you can trust? Contact me today!

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If you need to upsize or you’re simply ready for a change, it’s tempting to consider a major renovation. After all, renovating means you don’t have to go through the process of selling your property and buying another more suitable home. You just fix up the one you’ve got!


However, you need to carefully consider the pros and cons of renovating before going this route. You don’t want to invest in a costly renovation only to end up with a home that still doesn’t meet your needs.


Say, for example, your current property doesn’t have a home office. Since all the bedrooms are taken, you decide to renovate a portion of the basement. Building that new home office may seem like a simple project, but once you consider new electrical, flooring, lighting, etc., it really isn’t. Like most renovations, it will probably cost more than you think. Plus, you’ll need to consider whether you’ll really want to work in the basement.


In this case, it might make more sense to find a new home with an extra bedroom that can be converted, or, better still, a dedicated home office space — with windows!

Of course, there are many circumstances in which a renovation may be the best way to go. If you don’t like your kitchen, for example, upgrading it may not only get you the kitchen you want, but also add value to your property.


Basically, you need to ask yourself: "Which is more likely to get me the home I really want – a renovation or a new home?"


If your answer is a new home, then there is probably a property on the market right now that would meet your needs. Let’s talk.

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Is your home feeling a little cramped? If so, there are many relatively inexpensive ways to free up more space. Here are some ideas:


1. Convert traditional into non-traditional space. We’re all familiar with converting a spare bedroom into a home office or kids’ playroom. You can also create space by finding other uses for pantries and walk-in closets.


2. Explore smart storage solutions. There are many products on the market that revolutionize how you store things. For example, there are closet organizers available that double storage capacity. Check out the options at your local home improvement store.


3. Get rid of unneeded furnishings. Is there a chair no one ever uses? Is there a side table that takes up a lot of space, with nothing but a few knick-knacks on it? Consider selling these items to free up some space.


4. Think high. Install storage shelves, hangers or baskets high up in the kitchen and laundry room. Use that storage for items you only access infrequently.


5. Consider storage rental. If you have furnishings and other items that you don't want to get rid of, consider renting a storage unit. There may be economical options in your area.


With a little creative thinking, you’ll be amazed by how much space you can create within your existing rooms.

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There are many good reasons to put your property on the market. Some examples include a relocation, the kids leaving the nest, the need for something bigger or smaller, and the list goes on and on.


However, there are also some less-than-obvious indicators that it may be time to sell. Consider the following:


1. Your Property is no longer a Good "Fit"


Your home may have been perfect for you when you bought it. But things change. Families grow. Needs evolve. For any number of reasons, your property may no longer be a good fit for you. If that's the case, it makes sense to at least take a look at what's available on the market. Who knows? Your next "perfect" home may be for sale right now — within your price range!


2. The Neighbourhood is Changing


You may have been in love with the neighbourhood when you first moved in. But, over time, the characteristics of any area can change. Those changes don’t necessarily mean the neighbourhood is getting worse. In fact, it may be changing in a positive way; perhaps becoming more urban. But, "more urban" may not be what you want. So take a look at the direction your neighbourhood is heading. Ask yourself, "Do I still want to be living here in two years?"


3. You're Ready for Your Dream Home


Remember when you purchased your current property? Did it have every feature you wanted? Was it your dream home? Or, did you have to compromise on a few things, such as the size of the kitchen? If you had to make some tough choices back then, it might be time for you to finally get the home of your dreams.


Those are just three indicators it may be time for you to make a move. Of course, there are many others.

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According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 160 people are injured each year in BBQ mishaps. That doesn't sound like a lot considering the thousands of people who flip burgers on their backyard grills each year. But, you certainly don't want to be one of those injured!


The best way to prevent fire and injury is maintenance. Remarkably, few people are even aware that BBQ maintenance is necessary. But, it is.


Every spring, experts say you should clean out the venturi tubes. Those are the little metal pipes that carry propane or natural gas. Pipe cleaners work well, although hardware stores also carry specialized tools for this purpose. The goal is to clean out any builtup dirt and debris. Don't be surprised if you find spider webs inside a venturi tube!


Your BBQ grills should also be cleaned with soap and water each year. Just scraping them before barbequing isn’t enough. Fat and oils from cooking can build up on grills and harden. If you're getting a lot of flare-ups, this may be the cause.


Finally, make sure nuts and bolts are tightened regularly, and replace any rusty hardware. Regular use, heat and weather can loosen or weaken bolts, particularly on the frame. Several fires each year are caused by BBQs tipping over or collapsing.

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Online shopping is growing by an average of 20 million new shoppers each year. That's a lot of people clicking and buying! You may be one of them.


However, there's a cost to online shopping that's all too easy to overlook. Shipping fees. Imagine saving $10 on a luxury cookware set, only to be hit with a $15 delivery charge. Ouch.


So how do you avoid those fees?


First of all, always check the fine print on the checkout screen. Notice what the shipping cost (if any) will be before you click the final purchase button. Keep in mind that the base shipping fee shown may update — and become higher — once you've typed in your address.


Some e-tailers offer free delivery for orders over a certain threshold amount; for example, $50. If there's more you can add to an order to get the shipping fee waived, it may be worth it.


There are a few e-tailers, most notably Amazon, that offer yearly memberships where one of the benefits is free delivery on all orders. Those kinds of memberships may be worth checking out if you do a lot of online shopping with a particular company.


A final tip: Always check for multiple delivery options. Some e-tailers, list an express shipping charge as the default option on the check-out screen, but have a free standard delivery option if you choose it.


Takeaway: Shipping fees take the fun out of online shopping. Do what you can to reduce or eliminate them!

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You've probably heard about "home staging". As the name implies, it's all about arranging each room in your home in a way that will make the best impression on buyers. Here's what you need to know about staging if you're thinking of listing your property.


1. Staging can get you a higher price.


On average, a fully-staged home tends to sell for 17% more than an unstaged home of the same type in the same local market. Depending on the current market value of your property, doing some staging in your home could put thousands of extra dollars in your pocket, post-sale.


2. It can speed up the sale.


A study by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) showed that fullystaged homes spend an average of 90% less time on the market. So, if you need to sell quickly – without dropping your price – or you just want the comfort of having offers come in sooner, staging will definitely help.


3. You don't have to go crazy.


Completely staging every room in your home is going to give you the full benefits of this strategy. However, you don't have to go that far. In fact, just implementing a few simple staging techniques to some key rooms can make a big difference.


4. Get professional help or advice.


When it comes to home staging, don't guess at it. Get professional help or advice. As a REALTOR®, I have a lot of expertise in this area and often provide clients with proven, do-it-yourself staging tips and suggestions. If necessary, I can also recommend a professional stager. Contact me anytime.

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When you think about looking for a new home, one of the first questions that probably comes to mind is: "What type of property can I afford?" That's an important question because your price range is a major determining factor in the types and sizes of homes you should be viewing.

 

You don't want to waste time looking at properties that are beyond your price range. At the same time, you don't want to purchase a less-than-ideal home, only to realize later on that you could have afforded more.

 

So how do you determine what type of new home you are qualified to purchase?

 

The first step is to find out what your current property would likely sell for in today's market. I make that calculation for clients all the time. It involves reviewing what homes similar to yours have sold for recently, as well as other data — such as special features your home may have that are likely to boost the selling price.

 

Once you know the current market value of your home, subtract any outstanding mortgages and estimated selling expenses, and you’ll end up with an amount that can be applied to the purchase of your next home. (You may also have other funds you want to use.)

 

The next step is to talk to a lender or mortgage broker to see how much of a new mortgage you qualify for. (Call me if you need a recommendation.) It's important to get a Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval. That makes the offer you make on a new home more credible.

 

If you want to find out the types and sizes of homes you can get into, give me a call. I'd be happy to show you the possibilities!

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Carbon Monoxide (CO) is invisible and odourless, so you can't actually "watch out for it". However, you should monitor for it because an excessive build-up of this gas in your home can be deadly.

 

Fortunately, there are many types of Carbon Monoxide detectors you can purchase — and most are effective and affordable. Some models simply plug into an outlet. (Many also have a battery backup.)

 

Carbon Monoxide is caused by the incomplete burning of fuel. It can be released by a faulty gas furnace, kerosene heaters, and gas fireplaces. That's why it's a good idea to install detectors in areas close to these fixtures, as well as near bedrooms.

 

Experts say you should always follow manufacturer's instructions when installing CO detectors, and test them regularly. You want to make sure you can hear the alarm from your bedroom.

 

CO build-up in homes is rare. So your detectors may never go off. But, if the alarm does sound, get everyone (including pets) out of the home and into the fresh air. Then call 911. Typically, the fire department will do an inspection and determine the source of the carbon monoxide.

 

A final tip: Never use your BBQ or outside grill in the garage or, especially, anywhere inside your home. The risk of CO exposure is very high and definitely not worth the convenience of a grilled burger!

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According to law enforcement experts, a video-based home security system is significantly more effective than a simple alarm system. The reason is obvious. Burglars don’t want their crimes captured on video, which can then be used as evidence in court.

 

So it’s no wonder that many homeowners have, or are considering, video-based security.

 

These days, most video-based home security systems are wireless. The cameras either record to your DVR (just like recording your favourite TV show), or to a cloud-based server provided by the manufacturer.

 

There are many do-it-yourself systems on the market. You simply place the cameras around your property and do some initial setup. Most of these have motion-detection that records automatically when someone comes into the frame of the camera. These are typically installed at your front door, patio door, main floor windows, and garage door.

 

Some systems will even alert you when a camera turns on, and let you see the action on your smartphone or computer. If it’s a burglary attempt, you have the opportunity to call the police.

 

Although most of these products are weatherproof, check and confirm before purchasing. The packaging will say something like, “Suitable for outdoor use” or “Suitable for all-weather conditions”.

 

Also look for night vision capability. Not all security cameras have that feature.

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Buying a new pair of shoes is relatively easy. Once you find the style you like, all you need to do is try them on and see if they fit. If they do, you go to the cash register and pay.

 

When it comes to size, buying a new home can be trickier! Whether your intention is to upsize or downsize, figuring out the right size can be especially challenging.

 

Say for example, you’re downsizing from a large two-story home to a smaller bungalow. You don’t want to underestimate the space you need and end up in a place that feels tight. If you’re going the other way and upsizing, you don’t want to end up sinking extra money into a property that’s larger than you really need.

 

So how do you avoid these scenarios?

 

One of the best ways is to start by considering your current home. Do you use all the rooms in your home regularly? Is there a bedroom that’s rarely occupied? Has the recreation room become simply a storage area? If you’re downsizing, subtracting rooms you scarcely use can give you a better idea of what you need in a new home.

 

Upsizing is a bit more challenging because you have to anticipate what you will need in the future. For example, if you have young children, and your place is feeling cramped, then a home with a recreation room or separate family and living rooms may be a good idea. You may also need a bigger kitchen with a spacious eating area (in addition to a separate dining room.) Think about the extra room you’ll need and how you’ll use that space.

 

When I work with a client, I typically sit down with them and discuss the type of home they want in detail — and, based on needs and circumstance, I make expert recommendations. Bottom line, I help clients find the perfect fit in a new home. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.

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Is your home office the dining room table? Is it anywhere you can sit down undisturbed with your laptop? If so, you might be interested in converting a room or nook into a dedicated home office. Depending on what you do for a living, there could be a tax advantage to creating this space too.

 

The first step is to pick a spot. Ideally, you want an area where you can work without too many distractions.

 

Next, make sure the spot you’ve chosen can accommodate a desk and any other furnishings you’ll need. Think about what you want within easy reach of your work area. Will you need a place for books and other papers? An extra chair for client meetings? A flipchart? A filing cabinet? Think about all of the options in advance.

 

Then, you’ll want to make sure the spot you picked has the electrical outlets you need, especially if you’re going to have a printer, special lighting, a computer and other items that need power.

 

Finally, you’ll want your home office to be a place where you can enjoy working. So decorate it with that in mind. If you like plants, get plants. If you enjoy golf, have your golf trip pictures hanging on the wall.

 

With a little work, you can quickly create a home office space that is comfortable, functional and enjoyable. It sure beats the dining room!

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For some homeowners, the process of listing, showing and selling their home can be stressful. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to make it much less nerve-racking—and even exciting and enjoyable. Here are some ideas:

 

     1. Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to show your property, search for a new home, view listings, etc.                         Block out these times in an agenda book or calendar. That way, you and your family can see what’s coming up.

 

     2. Be flexible. Few things go exactly as planned! So, it’s important to build in flexibility. For example, you may plan to           see homes for sale on Saturdays, but if an opportunity comes up on a weeknight, give yourself room in your                     schedule to jump on it.

 

     3. Eat well. There are numerous studies that connect poor nutrition with increased stress. When people are selling             and moving, there’s a tendency to rely on quick fixes, such as hot dogs and pizza! Try to plan more nutritious                   meals that will keep everyone healthy and energized.

 

     4. Get stuff done early. Doing things last minute, such as finding a real estate lawyer or getting rid of clutter, can                   quickly lead to stress and frustration. Whenever possible, get tasks done early. That way, you won’t have to worry           about them.

 

     5. Hire the right professionals. By far, the surest way to a stress-free move is to get the right professionals working               for you: everyone from contractors to mortgage brokers to movers.

 

By the way, a big part of what I do for clients is help make every aspect of buying, selling and moving go smoothly. Contact me to learn how I can help you.

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An Open House is an event. And, like many events, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and energy. In fact, when you visit an Open House, you might even end up rubbing elbows with other buyers who are there at the same time. It can feel like a party!

 

In an environment like that, it’s not unusual to forget to ask important questions about the property. Here are some of the most common:

 

• How old is the roof?

 

• How old is the furnace, air conditioner and other HVAC equipment?

 

• How does the price compare to similar properties in the neighbourhood? (You don’t want to make an offer that’s too high.)

 

• What are the characteristics of the neighbourhood? (Amenities, safety, traffic, access to public transit, property turnover, etc.)

 

• What doesn’t come with the home? (Ask specifically about kitchen appliances, gas-connected BBQs, chandeliers, window coverings.)

 

• Are there any potential impediments to the sale? (Tenants, outstanding liens, etc.)

 

• Are there any outstanding maintenance issues, or repairs that need to be done? (For example, cracked ceramics on the foyer floor.) • Are there any issues that impact the full use of the property? (Ask specifically about shared driveways or walkways, public “right of way” through the property, water drainage rights from neighbouring homes, etc.)

 

Yes, an Open House can feel like a frenzy, and if it’s a home you love, you might feel pressured to make an offer. But, it’s important to take the time to ask the right questions and consider your decision carefully. You don’t want to find out, too late, that there were questions you should have asked.

 

Want more tips on finding the home of your dreams? Call today.

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Next to your home and car, home furnishings represent the most expensive product purchases homeowners make. A mid-quality livingroom set, with sofa and two side chairs, can cost thousands of dollars. That’s why most furniture retailers offer “interest free” and “pay much later” deals to soften the blow.

 

These are basically financing options.

 

Say, for example, you want to purchase furniture for the rec room. The cost is $7,200. The furniture retailer may offer you a deal where you “don’t pay a cent” for six months. As long as you pay the balance within that time, no interest is charged.

 

That sounds like a sweet deal. And it is.

 

But, personal finance experts will advise you to tread carefully. If you pay off the balance within the “no interest” timeframe, you’ll benefit from the sweet deal, by having deferred the payment. However, if you fall behind on payments, you’ll be hit with a high interest charge. It’s often 20% or more. That can add hundreds of dollars to what you would have originally paid for the purchase.

 

And, even if you paid down most of the balance within the no interest period, you can still get hit hard. Some “no interest” deals charge interest on the original financed amount — not just the remaining balance.

 

The best advice, according to personal finance experts, is to read the fine print carefully and pay off the balance as promptly as you can.

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Watch any TV cooking show, and you’ll notice that a chef’s kitchen looks quite a bit different than what you’d find in most homes. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have one just like it in your home! With a little remodeling, and splurging on some new items, you too can have a kitchen worthy of Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, or Rachel Ray.

 

Chefs love counter space. So, when remodeling, plan to create as much as possible. If you have an existing island, for example, you can replace the countertop with a larger one. Just adding eight inches in both directions will make a big difference.

 

Most chefs have more than one oven. If that’s impractical for you, consider buying a double-oven stove. Also, chefs prefer gas burners for quicker heatup times and exacting control of cooking temperature.

 

One thing you’ll notice about chefs is they love stainless steel. That’s because it’s easy-to-clean, hygienic and durable (assuming you take care of it).

 

Finally, because chefs spend so much time in the kitchen, they want the space to be attractive and comfortable. So, when remodeling, keep decor in mind.

 

Even if you’re just an amateur chef, creating a chef-worthy kitchen will make the foodie in you smile

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Data supplied by CREB®’s MLS® System. CREB® is the owner of the copyright in its MLS® System. The Listing data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by CREB®.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.
The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS®, and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.