Two of the biggest stressors for DIYers are projects that cost too much or take too long. Unfortunately, there’s no sure way to guarantee that one or the other (or both) won’t happen. But there is a lot you can do to minimize the probability.


When budgeting, a big mistake DIYers make is not considering the little things. For example, you might budget for drywall panels but neglect to include the cost of nails, tape and plaster. It's easy to overlook these small items thinking they won't add up to much of an expense. But often they do. In fact, for many renovation projects, the little things account for up to 20% of the cost.


Another expense that is often overlooked is taxes. When you find a bathtub you like for $399, be sure to budget for what you'll actually pay out-of-pocket. Also, don't forget possible delivery expenses.


A budgeting tip many experts recommend is to price everything you need and then add 10%. That gives you a buffer.


Regarding scheduling, consider whether or not you've done this type of project before. If you're laying hardwood floors for the first time, there's a learning curve. You'll likely take two or three times longer than you would if you were more experienced.


Even if you have experience with the type of project you’re undertaking, it's human nature to underestimate how long it will take. So, if you feel confident you can install that sink in an hour, give yourself two.


A lot of this, of course, is common sense. But if you take a common sense — rather than an optimistic — approach to budgeting and scheduling, you'll stand a much better chance of your DIY project going smoothly.

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Imagine you're looking for a new home. You have a list of all the features you want, just like you would have a grocery shopping list. However, when you explore the homes currently on the market, none meets all your criteria.


What do you do? You have a few good options.


First, you can take a second look at your list. Does your new home need every single feature on it? Are there one or two features you can do without? For example, can you settle for a smaller kitchen assuming the property has everything else you want?


Often, buying a home that's close to perfect is perfect enough.


Second, consider what features you might be able to add to a home later, by way of a renovation or other improvement. If a property doesn't have a finished basement, for example, you might be able to get that done down the road. Indeed, there are probably many features you can add later to an otherwise desirable property.


Finally, consider the current level of activity in the local real estate market. Is it likely that a lot of new homes will be coming on the market soon? If so, your perfect home may come up on the market within the next few weeks.


Maybe even tomorrow!


In that situation, make sure you arrange to get immediate alerts for newly listed homes that meet your criteria. You'll want to jump on each new opportunity before other buyers learn of the listing.


The good news is, in most cases you should be able to find and buy a great home, with most — if not all — of the features you want.

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When buyers come to see your home, the first thing they notice is how your property looks from the curb. That first impression is powerful and lingering. If buyers don't like what they see, it can influence how they judge the rest of your property, regardless of how great it looks on the inside.


You definitely want to do whatever you can to boost curb appeal. Here are six affordable ideas to consider:


1. Driveway sealing. This makes the pavement look darker and less faded. It also helps cover up some of the cracks. Sealing won't give you the "brand new" look of repaving, but it's close — and significantly less expensive.


2. Exterior window washing. Washing the front windows makes them look clean and bright. In fact, the effect can be stunning. There are window washing products that connect to your hose to make this job easier. Check your home improvement retailer.


3. Maintaining shrubs, hedges and flower beds. Trimming the hedges, shrubs and other evergreens can make a big difference in how your property looks from the street. It's like giving them all a haircut! Flowering plants can also brighten up the look.


4. Front door painting. From the curb, a buyer's eye is naturally drawn to your front door. If your entry system looks old and worn, consider a fresh coat of paint. It can make the entrance look almost new.


5. Garage door painting. This is a bigger project that can take a day or two, but the effort might be worth it. For many homes, the garage door is the biggest item in the curb appeal panorama. Making it look better will have a big impact.


6. Removing unsightly items. Look at your home from the street. Are there items in your field of vision that take away from the curb appeal? For example, are there garbage cans and other items stowed along the side of the property and visible from the road? If so, move them.


If you're selling your home, making the best first impression is crucial. You don't want buyers to drive by simply because they don't like what they see from the outside. Use these tips to boost your home's curb appeal.

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As you can probably guess, when you're preparing to move, you'll need boxes and tape — and, perhaps some bubble-wrap or old newspapers to use as protective wrapping for delicate items.


But that may not be all you need. Take a look at this list and see if you'll want any of these on hand while you’re packing or on moving day.


• Colour markers for labelling boxes. (Tip: Colour coding boxes by room will make unpacking much easier.)


• Stretch wrap to protect larger items that can't fit into a box.


• Small plastic bags to store dis-assembled parts, such as sofa legs, cabinet hardware, etc. (You don't want to lose them!) • Moving blankets to protect floors.


• A dolly or hand truck to move heavy items. (You can rent these.)


• Mattress moving bag. This helps prevent stains and tears during your move. You can also buy specialty bags for sofas and tables.


• Reusable foam furniture sliders, to protect floors when furniture needs to be pushed into place.


• Foam corner protectors. This prevents furniture with sharp corners from banging and damaging other items during a move.


Planning ahead and having the right packing materials on hand will make your move less stressful and, hopefully, damage-free!

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There are many storage options for your household items. For example, receipts and other paper records can be stored in a file box. Seasonal items, such as winter clothing, can be put in the basement. You can even rent a local storage unit to help with decluttering.


But what about stuff that exists electronically? These days, many important records -- vacation pictures, tax receipts, home videos, school documents, etc. - - are in the form of PDFs, JPEGs, and other electronic formats. Having those reside entirely on your computer is risky. What if your computer crashes?


Someone smart once said, "A computer file isn't a file until it's in two places." So, the solution is to store your important electronic documents in a second place. Here are the most common options:


Portable storage. These are data storage devices that fit in the palm of your hand. For most homes, 1T (terabyte) of memory is plenty.


Cloud storage. Box, DropBox, and iCloud are the biggest players here. The advantage of storing your documents "in the cloud" is that, unlike portable storage, you can't damage or lose it.


Large backup units. These larger units continuously backup your files so you don't even have to think about it.


Whatever option you choose, the important thing is to have a duplicate or backup of your important files, so you never have to worry about losing them.

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If you have a home that is overdue for a renovation, you might be worried that it will be difficult to sell as a "fixer-upper". In fact, you might delay listing your property for that reason.


The good news is, you don’t need to fix up everything in your home to prepare it for sale. You can be selective and choose only those projects that are most likely to help your home show well and sell quickly.


Here are some projects to consider:


Repairs. Few things stand out more during a viewing than something in obvious need of repair. That includes minor issues, like a dripping bathroom faucet, as well as major concerns, such as the central air conditioning unit not working. Get these repairs done.


Painting. Painting is one of the easiest and most affordable DIY projects you can do. Yet the impact it can have on your home is stunning. Some rooms are completely transformed by a fresh coat of paint.


Kitchens & Bathrooms. Buyers love to see great looking kitchens and bathrooms. In fact, there are even magazines devoted just to those rooms! You don't necessarily need to do a major renovation of these spaces, but a makeover can be a good idea. Consider replacing sinks, countertops, and/or cabinet hardware.


Floors. If the floors in any of your rooms have become worn and unsightly, look at options for refreshing them. Consider replacing carpeting, refinishing hardwood, and/or getting tiles professionally cleaned and polished.


Outdoors. Sometimes you can compensate (a little) for a less-than-ideal interior by sprucing up the outdoor space. Explore ways to improve your deck or patio, walkways, and landscaping.


Even if your home is older, you can make it more attractive to buyers with any one of these projects.


Want more ideas for finding eager buyers for your home? Call today.

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Want to make your bathroom look fantastic without having to do a major renovation? There are a lot of projects you can do yourself. In fact, there are some improvements you can get done in less than a day that will transform the look and feel of your bathroom. Check out these ideas:


• Update the sink. If you have some basic plumbing knowledge, this is a project you should be able to do on your own. A new sink can make the entire vanity look like new.


• Buy new decor. New shower curtains, towels, window coverings, mats, etc. can transform the look of a bathroom.


• Install new hardware. Replacing cabinet hardware may not seem like much of a change. However, it can have a surprisingly big impact. Shiny new hardware is like jewelry. It stands out.


• Replace the vanity mirror. Even if there are no scratches, an older mirror is like an old pair of glasses. It can become foggy. No amount of cleaning will make it any clearer. When ordering a replacement mirror, be sure that your measurements are exact.


• Paint. There's no doubt about it. A fresh coat of paint makes any room look better.


These bathroom improvement projects can make a huge impact on the look of your bathroom. And, they can all be done affordably and in just a day or two.

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Ideally, when you sell your home, you want the process to go smoothly and relatively stress-free. While things may happen that are outside your control, there is a lot you can do to ensure that the selling experience is a good one.


Consider these four steps to reduce worry and stress when listing your home:


Step 1: Learn the selling process.


Find out what to expect when the FOR SALE sign goes up. How will viewings be scheduled? Will an Open House be needed? What happens when there is an offer? The more you know, the less mysterious—and, therefore, less stressful—the experience will be.


Step 2: Schedule wisely.


Use a calendar to block out times for viewings and other selling-related activities. Be sure to schedule plenty of time to clean and declutter your home before a viewing or Open House. Try not to have a tight schedule during the sales period.


Step 3: Anticipate issues.


The more problems you can foresee, the better you'll be prepared to deal with them as they arise. For example, if you know you're going to have a busy week at work, start making plans now to deal with viewings and related matters during those days.


Step 4: Make decisions.


Things can move quickly in the real estate market. There might be a few days when there are no enquiries at all, and then suddenly two offers will come in.


Be prepared to make some quick decisions. Fortunately, with sound advice from me as your real estate agent, making those decisions will be a lot easier.


So, follow these simple steps. They'll help make your sale less worrisome and even enjoyable!

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Outdoor lighting has come a long way from the days of patio lanterns and strings of lightbulbs. These days, there's an exhaustive array of options available to illuminate your outdoor space, and make it more appealing and comfortable, particularly in the evenings.


Here are just a few ideas:


  • Solar garden lights. These lights are on stakes that can be easily inserted throughout the garden. Powered by the sun, they generate enough energy to cast a soft, pleasant glow along walkways or in flower beds in the evenings.


  • Deck post lights. These are easy to install because they're designed to sit on top of a standard 4x4 wood deck post. Most are solar powered.


  • Street-style lamps. As the name implies, these look similar to oldfashioned street lamps. Installation is a little more complex, but still DIY-friendly. They're eye-catching and have a dramatic impact on the look of your outdoor space.


  • Portable lantern lights. These are outdoor lights that are portable and often made to look like a decorative fixture for a coffee table or side table. They can be placed anywhere.


  • LED walkway lights. These are small lights that fit neatly and almost invisibly under stairs and around walkways. Walkway lights not only look good but also improve safety. Most are battery powered.


  • Planter lights. This is one of the most interesting options. Each one is both a flower pot and a light in one! The pot itself is translucent which allows the light inside to shine through.


Design experts say you should treat your outdoor space as you would any room in your home. Lighting it up for evening comfort and enjoyment is a good place to start.

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You've heard of the term "curb appeal". It refers to the initial impression buyers get when they first see your property from the street. If the impression is a good one, it sets the right tone for the rest of the home viewing.


How do you boost curb appeal? Here are some proven ideas that you can get done in an hour or so:


  • Wash both the inside and outside of the front windows. You'll be amazed at the difference that can make.
  • Sweep the walkway leading up to the front entrance. Add a new welcome mat. Also, wash down the front door.
  • If possible, remove cars from the driveway. Let buyers imagine their own cars parked there!
  • Mow the lawn. Lightly trim the hedges. Weed flower beds.
  • Remove anything from inside window sills that may look unsightly from the outside. Try putting a couple of flowering plants there instead.
  • Place any trash bins out-of-sight. For example, put them in the garage or neatly at the side of the house.
  • If the entrance door hardware is old and worn, change it. New hardware can make a bigger difference than you might think.
  • Make sure the outdoor lights are working, especially if you're showing your home in the evening.
  • Add some flowering plants to flower beds, or buy a couple of portable potted plants and place them strategically.
  • Clean your mailbox. If it’s rusted, replace it.
  • If you have a power washer, give the walkway and driveway a quick blast. Just be sure it will be dry before the buyers arrive.


These one-hour improvements may seem minor, but anything that helps buyers form a more positive first impression of your home is worth the effort.

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If it’s been a while since you last moved, you might be wondering how much
you'll need to spend on your next home. That's an important question to
answer, even if you're just at the "thinking about it" stage and haven't decided
whether or not you'll look for a new property.


After all, knowing your budget might influence your decision.


How should you determine your budget?


The first step is to calculate the maximum you can spend. This involves
adding the money you'll get from the sale of your current property after
repaying your outstanding mortgage, to any other funds you have available to
invest plus the maximum amount of mortgage you qualify to receive.


Of course, just because you may qualify for a large mortgage doesn't mean
you want those bigger payments. So, the second step is to think about your
needs. What features are a must in your next home? For example, you might
want four bedrooms and anything less would be a deal-breaker.


Make a "must-have list". That list can by used to find a baseline of properties
on the market — and then find their average asking price. This will give you
an idea of what it would cost to find a home that meets your must-have list.


The third step is to go beyond needs and consider the features you want.
These might not be deal-breakers, but you'd sure love to have them in your
next home. They could be a large deck, a location in a desirable
neighbourhood, a big country kitchen, etc.


Ask yourself how much you would be willing to pay for those desirable
features. $20,000? $50,000?


Once you've gone through these steps, you'll have the information you need
to match your needs and wants to what's available on the market — and
you’ll know how much you might expect to pay for your next home.

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Imagine your coffee maker switching on by itself, staying on for hours, overheating and becoming a fire hazard. That's not science fiction. As more and more appliances incorporate WIFI, the opportunities for hackers to play havoc with your home gadgets increase.


How do you prevent that from happening? Here are some safety tips:


       • If your gadget uses a password to access the settings, change that password frequently. Ideally, change it once every 3 months.


       • Some gadgets, such as alarm systems, come with their own connection to the internet. Learn how to turn that connection off if it becomes necessary to do so.


       • Don't leave an internet-connected appliance or other gadget on constantly unless it’s necessary. For example, you don't need your home speaker system connected to your digital music providers all the time.


       • Baby monitors with video are a common target for hackers. Use a password unique to that device and change it often. Never leave the monitor on when not in use.


       • Never share passwords with anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. Most home WIFI systems have a "guest" feature with a separate password and limited access. Use it.


In this age of internet connectivity — from coffee makers to stereos and even washing machines — it's smart to play it safe. Know what's connected and protect yourself.

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When you sell, you’ll probably want to get the best possible price for your property. Who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, there are many ways to inadvertently leave money on the table – sometimes thousands of dollars.


How do you avoid that possibility? Just remember the 4 Ps:


       • Prep. Do everything you can to prepare your home so that it looks great to buyers. Clean, declutter, fix, make                 improvements. Home staging can also help. In fact, effectively staged homes have been shown to sell for up to               5% more than comparable unstaged properties.


       • Price. Set the right asking price. That’s crucial. If it's too low, you'll attract only deal-hunters — and you might end           up getting less than you should. If the asking price is too high, however, you'll discourage those buyers who might           otherwise be interested and willing to make a good offer. Be careful with pricing!


       • Promotion. There may be qualified buyers out there who would be eager to see your property. But, they need to             find out about your listing and the great features of your home first! Reaching these buyers requires more than                 merely profiling the listing on the MLS. Homes that sell for top dollar often have strong marketing — directed to               the right buyers.


       • Proposal. Once an offer comes in, there may be an opportunity to negotiate with the buyer to maximize the final             price you get. This requires deep knowledge of the local market as well as street-smart negotiation skills. If done             effectively, these negotiations can help put more money in your pocket.


These four Ps are easy to remember, but sometimes not so easy to implement! That's why working with a great real estate agent is so important.


Contact me to get the conversation started.

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Do you have only a few weeks to search for your next dream home? Don't panic. There are things you can do to find the perfect (or, at least, almost perfect) property — without getting too stressed out!


Consider these tips:


       • Pre-arrange your mortgage. You want to be able to make a good offer on a home right away, without worrying about financing. So, talk to your mortgage advisor or lender about getting a mortgage preapproval. Sellers will take your offer more seriously if you have financing in hand.


       • Decide what you want. What type of home are you looking for? What type of neighbourhood do you want to live               in? The narrower your focus, the less time you’ll waste looking at properties that don’t fit your needs.


       • Be open to possibilities. There are probably terrific homes on the market — right now — that are close to what                 you're looking for. So be prepared to consider properties that are less-than-perfect. Remember, what a home                   lacks today may be remedied with a renovation later on.


       • Be flexible with your schedule. When you see a home you like, schedule a viewing immediately, even if it's at an             inconvenient day/time, such as a weekday after work. Finding a great home, quickly, is worth some inconvenience.


       • Get alerted to new listings. As they say, the early-bird gets the worm. So arrange to be alerted to new listings the             moment they come on the market. That way, you can see these properties right away.


Want more tips on finding a home, quickly? Give me a call.

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Here's a surprising statistic. Less than 30% of window replacements are the result of the old windows being worn, broken or otherwise in need of replacement.


Clearly, there are other good reasons to consider new windows!


One of the most popular motivations is cosmetic. Brand new windows have a huge impact on the overall look of a home, both on the inside and the outside. New windows can improve curb appeal — an important element when you sell a home. From the inside, new windows can dramatically improve the look of a room.


Another reason to replace windows is to address energy costs. Modern windows are packed with technologies that lower heating/cooling bills. From low-e/argon to special spacer bars to high-insulating construction, these technologies can provide savings you'll notice, especially if you're replacing very old windows.


A third reason is window style and characteristics. Simply put, you may not like your current windows! You may want more glass and less frame to enhance your view. Maybe your windows pull up (vertical sliders) when you'd rather have them open like a door (casements). Perhaps you'd like fancy blinds in-between the panes of glass. Replacing windows lets you get exactly the look and features you want.


Will new windows boost the resale value of your home? They might, at least a little. But there's one thing for certain: upgraded windows definitely make your home look more appealing to buyers.

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If you're thinking about buying a new home, you may be considering purchasing in a new development.


How does that compare to purchasing a resale property?


Buying a newly-built home has some advantages. Depending on the development, you may have leeway in the style of the home and the lot you choose. Also, when the home is built, you'll be moving into a place where everything is brand new!


On the downside, however, you may be forced to make a decision based purely on marketing brochures and floor plans. Unless there's a model home just like the one you want, you'll be buying sight unseen. Also, there may be unpredictable construction delays — an unpleasant experience if you've already sold your current property.


Of course, buying a resale home may also have a downside. For example, the house might need work, such as a new roof. What you see is pretty much what you get. And, that’s true for the floor plan too. You can't ask for the living room to be five feet wider, unless you decide to renovate.


On the other hand, a big advantage of a resale home is moving into a neighbourhood that is already there for you to see and explore. Unlike in a new development, you can get a very clear idea of what it’s going to be like to live there.


Plus, you get to see the house too!


Regardless of which way you go, I can help you make the best decision and find the home that's perfect for you. Call today.

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It can be tough to make the decision to sell. In fact, for many homeowners, it's overwhelming. If you're considering making a move and struggling with the decision, here are five helpful questions to ask yourselves:


1. "What are our practical reasons for selling?"


This question refers to what you'll get by moving to a new home. The reasons could include a bigger backyard, shorter commute to work, an extra bedroom, a more desirable neighbourhood, etc.


2. "What are our emotional reasons for selling?"


This question refers to how you'll feel about living in a new home. For example, you might feel safer, less cramped, less worried (because the local schools are better), or happier (because the shorter commute means more time with your family.)


3. "What type of new home can we afford?"


This question involves finding out how much you'll likely get when you sell your existing home and how much of a mortgage you qualify to receive. With that information, you'll have a price range within which you can comfortably shop plus a clear idea of what your mortgage payments will be.


4. "In what ways will our lifestyle be better in a new home?"


This ties in closely with emotional reasons for selling. It relates to what your life will be like in a new home. Try to paint a picture in your mind. For example, you might want to be able to spend Saturday afternoons relaxing in your bigger backyard or Sunday nights entertaining friends and family in your larger living room.


5. "What else do we need to know before we decide to sell and move?"


Sometimes people are hesitant about selling simply because they have unanswered questions. So, if there's any part of the selling and buying process that’s not clear, be sure to ask me.


Did thinking about these questions help make the decision easier? If you need more help or want to talk about your decision, call today!

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Imagine driving through a desirable neighbourhood and, just as you turn a corner, you see the absolutely perfect home. Guess what? It's for sale! But, there’s a problem. Your current property isn't on the market. In fact, until this moment, you hadn’t seriously considered moving.


So what do you do?


Your first step is to find out more about the listing. Get a description of the property. Find out the listing price. Check out the size, layout, number of bedrooms and other features. If it all looks good, schedule a viewing.


Chances are, you can do all that in less than a day.


If you go to see the property and still love it, your next step is to determine if it fits within your budget. To do that, you'll need to quickly find out the Current Market Value of your home — what it will likely sell for — so you can determine how much money you'll have available after your outstanding mortgage and any other costs are deducted. It’s a smart idea to speak to your lender about getting a pre-approved mortgage at this point too.


Next, you'll need to make an offer on the new home. Depending on the competitiveness of the neighbourhood, and the likelihood of multiple offers, you might need to list your home first. That, along with a pre-approved mortgage, will make your offer more credible.


You might end up buying the new home before your current property sells. Although that might cause some jitters, this scenario happens all the time in real estate. If you do the right things, and prepare your home properly, there's a good probability it will sell in time and that everything else regarding the two transactions will go smoothly.


But, you do need to move quickly and make some fast decisions if you want to get that perfect home.


I can help. Call me.

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On moving day, you'll have a big task. You’ll need to get your possessions from your old property to your new one — ideally without delays or damage! Surprisingly, many people underestimate the time and costs involved in doing that. Careful planning and budgeting are crucial to ensuring moving day goes smoothly.


You basically have three options:


     1. Hire a moving company to handle everything.


     2. Hire a truck and crew, while doing some of the work yourself. (For example, you can pack and help with loading.)


     3. Do it all yourself by renting a moving van and getting friends and family to help.


If you're going with option one, get quotations as early in the buying/selling process as possible. Services, costs and quality vary widely among fullservice moving companies.


If you're going to do some or all of the move yourself, the best place to start is by making a list of what you'll need. In addition to renting a moving van, or hiring a truck and crew, there are many supplies you may require. For example, you’ll need boxes, protective fill and/or wrapping (i.e. bubble wrap), markers for labeling boxes, packing tape, and more.


You may decide to rely on friends to help load the truck on moving day. That's fine. Just be sure you have enough people to do the job within a reasonable timeframe, and confirm everyone's attendance at least a couple of days before.

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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.