Higher electricity costs: how to circumvent them

  Because the cost of electricity is expected to rise as a result of the federal Liberals’ green energy policies, prudent investors should pay attention to the energy consumption of their rental properties. This Canadian Real Estate Magazine post advises landlords to find ways to become more energy efficient such as installing programmable thermostats and motion sensor lights. More important is to pass the higher cost of hydro on to their tenants, whenever possible, and to implement an energy consumption ceiling for their all-inclusive leases.  To read more click here. ...
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9 Bad Habits That Are Killing Your Appliances

  This slide show from Bob Villa is an excellent visual representation of how NOT to treat your appliances. For example, an overloaded washing machine stresses the bearings and misaligns the drum. Overfilling the freezer can block air vents, restrict the flow of cold air and overtax the condenser. Clean spills right after using the oven as they can damage the heating coils. To read more click here.   ...
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Ottawa Named 3rd Best City in the World for Quality of Life; Here’s Why

  In this Point2Homes post, Nadia Balint attributes Ottawa’s stellar, but unsurprising (to locals),  ranking in the recent Numbeo Quality of Life Index to three characteristics: Ottawa is young and fun with almost half the population under 35, it promotes and supports family life and the housing is relatively  affordable.  The Index rates factors like purchasing power, safety, property price to income ratio, and pollution.  To read more click here. ...
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Your Complete Guide to Pest-Proofing This Fall

  To prevent an onslaught of pests from occupying your house as the weather cools, simply  follow the National Pest Management Association guidance presented in this post from Bob Villa. Seal cracks in the exterior envelope, especially where utility pipes enter, with silicone caulking.  Fill larger gaps inside your home with steel wool. Pests avoid the roughness of the steel fibers and rodents cannot gnaw through it. Repair ripped window screens, door sweeps and loose mortar in the basement foundation, screen dryer vents and chimneys and replace weather stripping to seal these ideal entry points. If you suspect an infestation, hire a licensed pest control professional to assess the situation. To read more click here. ...
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Your Guide to 10 Popular Landscape Paving Materials

  If you are considering landscape paving, this excellent Houzz.com post by landscape architect Falon Mihalic includes guides to 10 of the most popular materials.  Focused on cost, climate, maintenance and functional application, the guides explain the pros and cons of cast-in-place concrete, the cheapest option, pre-cast concrete, gravel, limestone, brick, slate, tile, bluestone, granite, and travertine.  Mihalic also notes that many of the materials can be reused and suggests where the cost and/or environmentally conscious consumer can find them.  To read more click here. ...
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How to Stage Your Home for Fall Showings

  This Zillow.com post by Nathalie Wise suggests that the time and cost of staging your home can result in higher sale prices and less time on the market.  Remove clutter, store items that could distract viewers and move furniture away from walls to make your spaces appear larger.  Clear counters and deep clean everywhere because it’s still the best way to make a house shine.  Allow potential buyers to visualize themselves in the home by taking down family pictures that could impede their imagination.  Open curtains to let in natural light and hang mirrors to bring light and life to a space while making it look larger.  To read more click here. ...
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8 Deer-Resistant Elegant Evergreen Shrubs to Plant This Fall

  Shrubs bestow privacy, a sense of enclosure and a splash of colour during winter.  In this houzz.com post, Brian Barth gives hope to discouraged homeowners who are tired of watching the local deer population feast on their shrubs.   Needle-bearing shrubs like the juniper will survive deer grazing, but they can lack artistic appeal.  Barth identifies 8 other options that have at least one redeeming aesthetic trait besides being evergreen.   Heath and heather are an unusual group of low shrubs with colorful flowers and needle-like leaves that change colour as the weather gets cold.  Doghobble spreads as it grows,  making it ideal for erosion control, and forms a 2 – 4 foot high copse of glossy green foliage with white flowers and branches that have a graceful arching quality.   Boxwood can be pruned into any shape so it is perfect for elegant hedges (10 inches to 10 ...
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How Will Real Estate Markets React To The Liberals’ Election Victory?

  The Liberal Party’s successful election campaign included a promise to stimulate the economy by increasing infrastructure spending with deficit budgets. How will these changes effect the country’s real estate market? Until details are released, the exact consequences are difficult to determine, but some possibilities have emerged.   Foreign Investment   We don’t know what will follow the Liberals’ change in fiscal direction (deficit spending versus balanced budgets), but, if the promised infrastructure spending materializes, it could boost annual growth in 2016 and 2017 “by up to 0.1 and 0.3 percentage points respectively,” according to a TD Bank report.   However, the $10-billion annual spending promised by the Liberals won’t significantly impact the overall valuations of the Canadian economy. So, foreign investors are not likely to be frightened.  As evidence of that, the Canadian dollar dropped on election day and throughout the night as results came in, but the loonie ...
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Winter Lawn Care: 4 Steps to Protect Your Turf

Home owners may be surprised to discover that fall is the most important season for lawn maintenance.  But, as we learn in this houselogic.com post by Lisa Kaplan Gordon, it is much more important than spring.   Aeration allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach roots, and gives seeds room to sprout.  Turf roots grow best in fall and winter when the soil temperature is cooler, so fall seeding ensures optimal growth.  Fertilize in late fall with phosphorous or nitrogen rich (10% – 15%) product.  Finally, mulching, rather than raking and removing the leaves is preferred because the shredded leaves will protect and feed your lawn during winter.  To read more click here.   ...
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Seven Monthly Bills Most People Have, and Seven Ways to Reduce Each Bill

  In this article for The Simple Dollar, Trent Hamm targets energy, water, car, mortgage/rent, internet, insurance and cell phone/telephone payments and gives specifics on how to lower each monthly bill.  Insurance costs drop if you increase your deductible. Reduce phone costs by using Skype, lowering usage and ditching the landline.  Save on energy bills with programmable thermostats, timers and energy-efficient lighting.   To read more click here. ...
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6 Misperceptions About Home Staging

  In this insightful Realtor Magazine post, interior decorator and professional stager Patti Stern explodes six myths about home staging.   The Cost of Staging For example, some sellers consider staging too expensive.  In reality, it actually saves you money because 95 percent of staged homes sell in 11 days or less and sell for 17 percent more than homes that are not staged.  Thus, staging costs are lower than the carrying charges (mortgage, utilities) you will pay if the house takes a long time to sell.   The Difference Between Decorating and Staging She also points out that decorating and staging are different since professional decorators consider the home owner’s tastes while and a professional stager understands the marketplace and has the experience to prepare a home so it appeals to as many potential buyers as possible, regardless of taste. They also have the objectivity to neutralize and remove items ...
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Home Improvements – Do It Yourself Or Hire A Professional?

Completing a DIY project can be tremendously fulfilling and financially rewarding. But, bite off more than you can chew, and you might be looking at some major expenses to fix the damage or, even worse, a catastrophic incident. Before grabbing your toolbox, accomplish a quick risk-reward analysis. Then, determine if you have the skills and tools for the project. Finally, decide if you have the available time and are inclined to invest it in the task. These guidelines will help you decide whether to swing a hammer or write a cheque. Reno Risks And Rewards First weight the expected benefits and savings against the costs and potential risks. Rule out certain types of projects right away: those that have the potential to seriously injure you or severely damage your home. These include anything involving main electrical lines or natural gas pipes. You don’t want to burn your house down or ...
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Holiday Entertaining Made Easy

Is the whole family coming to your home for the holidays? Or perhaps you’d like to share some festive cheer with your neighbors? Whatever the reason, ’tis the season, so now’s the time to start planning. Stock Your Pantry — Get ready for hosting with a well-stocked pantry and freezer. Must-haves include quick, no-cook appetizers; basic baking ingredients; spices and marinades; and frozen puff pastry, pie and cookie dough. Set the Mood — Keep decorative accessories handy during this season of entertaining. A vase with fresh-cut flowers and tea lights in frosted glass holders are enough to add that festive touch. Pre-Plan and Prep Cook — Come up with a few go-to holiday menu plans and try to prep cook many of the elements in advance. This will prevent you from spending the day slaving over a hot stove and allow you to enjoy your guests. Find a Place for Everyone — Consider your holiday hosting capacity. ...
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4 reasons to buy a home before the end of the year

Does cooler weather mean that you should cool down your house hunt?  Absolutely not!  Sellers who have homes listed during the colder months are usually motivated to sell and list prices are typically lower in December…but wait…there’s more! Traditionally, housing markets cool down at year end, but this Business Insider post suggests taking advantage of four factors that could work in your favour.   First, borrowing rates are exceedingly low and that means you save a bundle. In addition, the seasonal slowdown means fewer buyers submitting competing bids for choice properties which could put you in a strong negotiating position. There are also the tax benefits of home ownership and inexpensive low down payment options to consider.   To read more click here. ...
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How Will Legalized Pot Affect Canadian Real Estate Markets

No matter what you think about the ethics or morality of legalizing marijuana, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has promised to do just that during their first term.  The fact is, we started down that path when medical marijuana was legalized. So, how will this impact real estate markets in Canada?         The Colorado Housing Market Exploded We see clues to the impact of mainstreaming the recreational marijuana business in Colorado, the first state to replace prohibition with regulation. On 01 January 2015, they celebrated their first year with operational adult use marijuana stores and, perhaps coincidentally, there was also a huge increase in real estate prices. Though it’s difficult to separate the pot boom from the growth of other industries, in Denver, the city’s economic health has led to a serious increase in home values. The median home price in Denver is up 15.9% from last year. Vacancy rates ...
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Market Update | Ottawa Real Estate Stats October 2015

  Here are the latest statistics from the Ottawa Real Estate board.  Statistics are useful in establishing trends but should not be used as an indicator of an increase or decrease in value of specific properties.  If you are curious about the value of your home and/or specific neighbourhood statistics  please contact us anytime, we would  love to help.   Information below has been provided by the Ottawa Real Estate Board “October Home Buyers weren’t spooked by election results.” Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,161 residential properties in October through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® System, compared with 1,119 in October 2014, an increase of 4 per cent. The five-year average for October sales is 1100. “Our October numbers show we outpaced last year and the five year average,” says David Oikle, President of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “Buyer activity was expected to taper off leading up to ...
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Home Buyers: To Inspect, or Not To Inspect

To Inspect, or Not To Inspect You’ve just purchased your dream home and your salesperson is recommending an home  inspection before signing the final conditions. Is it worth $400-500? Now is the time to ignore your emotional attachment to the property, and make this a business decision. The answer is, “Absolutely!” The inspection is a critical step that ensures the structure, environment and operating systems of your dream home are safe and sound.  We are sometimes seduced by facade or the presentation of a property , but the things we cannot see can lead to expensive repairs or health concerns. Remember, this is the environment where you and your loved ones will live. So, this is also the time to identify air quality concerns, safety hazards or health and environmental risks. Understanding the inspection process will help you set realistic expectations, while taking steps to protect your family and finances. ...
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Income Properties: What You need to Know about Buying an Investment Property

“Don’t wait to buy land, buy land and wait” – Will Rogers     Income Properties: Are you Ready?  Owning a rental property may seem like a licence to print money.  Interest rates are low, the Ottawa Real Estate Market is stable …what could be easier?  Buy a property, lease it, collect cheques and plan your retirement.  Butbefore purchasing an income property, you should be aware of the benefits and drawbacks.   Advantages of Income Properties: You pay less tax. Because your secondary property is a business, you can deduct certain expenses from your income (mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, maintenance/upgrades, property management and utility bills) and reduce your taxes.  Meet with an accountant or financial adviser to discuss your situation.   Rental cheques provide a steady monthly income Other kinds of investments may pay out less often or income may be less predictable.  For a rental property, answer this ...
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Best September on record for number of Ottawa Real Estate resales!

What a great month for Ottawa Real Estate! See below a snap shot of what’s happening in the Ottawa Real Estate Market from the Ottawa Real Estate Board  published October 5th, 2015 Interested in a specific neighbourhood?  We have access to all of the latest real estate statistics at our fingertips! Please contact us and we will send you a no-cost report on the areas you want to know about.    From OREB news: Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,244 residential properties in September through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® System, compared with 1,131 in September 2014, an increase of 10 per cent. The five-year average for September sales is 1,137. “Ottawa Real Estate Board members continued their active summer into a busy fall,” says David Oikle, President of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “In fact this September marks the best September on record for the number of units sold ...
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Home Buyers: Working with a REALTOR®

Real estate has undoubtedly become one of the biggest industries in the world.  Buying and selling of real estate property are obviously major financial undertakings for anyone and these transactions need to be executed in a professional way. With this in mind, working with a REALTOR® is crucial in selling or buying deal of real estate property. In Ottawa, REALTORS® have their own professional association known as the Ottawa Real Estate Board. From this association, our fully trained REALTORS® have insider access to MLS statistics about real estate activity, sales of property, the median price and market conditions. Since the interpretation of these statistics is best known to them, then REALTORS® are crucial professionals in any buying or selling deal. This is because they assist a client in proper interpretation of these coded statistics and their proper implementation. For Home Buyers, Real estate agents provide credible information about potential real estate property matches.   A great ...
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How Google Sunroof is Changing Homeowners’ Costs

How Google Sunroof Works Employing the high-resolution aerial mapping used by Google Earth, Project Sunroof calculates the amount of sunlight reaching your roof to assess its potential for solar power.  It takes a variety of factors into account including local weather conditions, shade from nearby trees and buildings and sun positions throughout the year.  The tool combines this information with data from your household’s monthly electricity bill, factors in panel orientation and tilt to the roof surface to calculate average monthly and annual solar radiation, recommends the size of solar installation needed and estimates the cost to purchase or lease the hardware as well as the amount that could be saved with solar panels. The tool is only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno and Boston, however, should Google decide to expand that coverage, they have ample capital reserves to act quickly.  They might offer serious competition to ...
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The Inside Scoop on the Best Season to Sell Your Home

Think you need to wait until Spring to sell your home? You may want to think again if you’re ready to sell now.   In this HGTV.com post, Gavin Chen challenges conventional wisdom that the best time to sell is spring and the best time to buy is fall.  Statistically, spring has the most competing sellers in the market, so you might have to stage your home to get an advantage. Chen suggests it is important to highlight the sellable features of your home in any season.  Although there are fewer buyers in the December – January period (holidays, travel), the warmth of a showpiece fireplace will make a favourable impression during winter viewings, in summer, creating inviting outdoor spaces is a great way to help your house stand out.  The article suggests avoiding early summer listings because people are relishing the seasonal change, but in recent years the  Ottawa ...
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Your Annual Home Maintenance Schedule

Following an annual maintenance schedule is an essential step in protecting the value of what will probably be the largest investment of your life – your home.  First time home owners, or those lacking experience may struggle with this task and overlook important elements.  Here are some guidelines to help you create a maintenance program that suits your needs. Benefits of Home Maintenance Regular preventive maintenance identifies minor repairs before they become expensive, major repairs.  It also preserves your home’s market value.  One study found that “greater than $5 return for every $1 spent on preventive maintenance is not unusual”.  Other rewards include: extended life for your home’s components, equipment and operating systems; improved energy efficiency and a reduced environmental footprint; lush, healthy vegetation and attractive landscaping; assurance that your living space is safe and comfortable; improved presentation and continuing exterior appeal; and avoiding home inspection shockers when you sell. ...
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Strong summer performance for Ottawa’s resale market

Check out the latest Ottawa Real Estate Statistics from the Ottawa Real Estate Board The summer real estate market has been strong in the Ottawa area, as we head into fall we’ll keep you updated on the latest Ottawa Real Estate market news!  Are you interested in a specific neighbourhood?  Please contact us! We have the latest Ottawa neighbourhood statistics available. _____________________________________________________ Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,279 residential properties in August through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® System, compared with 1,200 in August 2014, an increase of 6.6 per cent. The five-year average for August sales is 1,234. “Ottawa Real Estate Board members had a busy August, with units sold coming in higher than the five-year average and a healthy increase from last year’s sales,” says David Oikle, President of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “In addition to an increase in units sold, inventory levels of ...
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CMHC announces new rules to make it easier for homeowners to rent out property

In this Financial Post article, Garry Marr discusses the impact of upcoming changes from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp (CMHC) that will permit homeowners to count 100% of the income from their secondary units when qualifying for a loan.  Currently, homeowners with legal units can only count 50% of the income from legal rentals.  By making it easier to borrow money, Marr suggests CMHC will be bringing more people into the market, and that is expected to boost affordable housing, especially in hot markets like Vancouver where secondary units make up almost 20% of the city’s rental stock.  To read more click here. http://www.financialpost.com/m/wp/blog.html?b=business.financialpost.com//personal-finance/mortgages-real-estate/cmhc-announces-new-rules-to-make-it-easier-for-homeowners-to-rent-out-property  Buying a property with a rental unit is a great way to own a home while someone else helps pay your mortgage! Please contact us for info & available income properties. ...
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