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HOW TO PLAN A SUCCESSFUL GARAGE SALE BEFORE A MOVE

THE BENEFITS OF GARAGE SELLING BEFORE YOU MOVE (TOP GARAGE SALE TIPS)

Moving is always a hectic and stressful time, but you can make it a little easier on yourself (and your wallet) by having a garage sale. Getting rid of all the stuff you don’t need or want before you move will lighten your load and give you some extra cash to help with expenses. But just throwing stuff out in the driveway and hoping for the best is not going to cut it. If you want your garage sale to be a success, you need to plan ahead and put in some effort.

Yard sale signs: save money selling all the clutter and leftover stuff

BENEFITS OF HAVING A GARAGE SALE BEFORE YOU MOVE

There are a few key benefits to having a garage sale before you move. First, it will help you get rid of stuff you don’t want or need. Do you really need that set of dishes that you never use? How about those clothes that you haven’t worn in years? Getting rid of all this stuff before you move will save you time and money. You won’t have to pack it, move it, and then unpack it, only to get rid of it later.

Second, a garage sale is a great way to make some extra cash. This can be helpful for covering moving expenses or just giving you a little extra spending money for your new home.

If you choose to have a garage sale after you move, it’s a great way to meet your new neighbours. This is especially beneficial if you are moving to a new area. You can get to know the people in your community and maybe even make some friends.


GARAGE SALE VS. YARD SALE

Yard Sale VS Garage Sale: It’s all about the display items to potential buyers

A garage sale is held at, you guessed it, a garage. A yard sale is held in the front yard of a home. Both are great ways to get rid of stuff and make some extra cash, but there are a few key differences.

Garage sales are typically larger and have more items for sale. They also tend to attract more people for that reason. This means that you are more likely to make some good sales.

Yard sales are smaller and usually only have a few items for sale. They attract fewer people, but those who do come usually look for specific items. This means that you may not make as many sales, but your sales are likely to be for more money.

Which one you choose is up to you. A garage sale is probably your best bet if you have a lot of stuff to get rid of. A yard sale may be better if you only have a few items or high-quality items.

PLANNING YOUR GARAGE SALE

Now that you know the benefits of having a garage sale, it’s time to start planning. Here are a few tips to help you have a successful garage sale.

SET A DATE AND TIME

The first step is to set a sale date and time for your garage sale. You need to give yourself enough time to gather all the items you want to sell and prepare them. You also need to choose a date and time that will be convenient for people who want to shop.

The best time for garage sales is on the weekend. Saturday is usually the busiest day, but you may want to have your sale on Friday or Sunday if you think Saturday will be too chaotic.

As for the time of day, most people prefer early morning or late afternoon. This gives them time to do other things during the day.

It’s also a good idea to set a rain date just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.

ADVERTISE

The next step is to advertise your garage sale. You need to let people know when and where it is so they can come shop. There are a few ways you can do this.

One way is to put up signs around your neighbourhood a few days before the sale. You can also advertise in your local newspaper or on websites like Kijiji.

Another way to advertise is to put out a garage sale kit. This is a box that you can put on your front porch with all the information people need to know about your sale.

Garage sale tips: advertise on your local paper a few weeks before.

You can also use social media to advertise your garage sale. Create an event on Facebook and invite all your friends and family. You can also tweet about it or post about it on Instagram.

Don’t forget to include the date, time, and address of your sale in all your advertisements.

GATHER ITEMS

Now it’s time to start gathering items for your sale. Go through your home and gather anything you don’t want or need. You can also ask friends and family if they have anything they want to get rid of.

SORT AND PRICE ITEMS

Once you have all your items, it’s time to sort them and price sale items. You want to put similar items together so people can easily find what they are looking for.

Pricing is important because you want to ensure you get the most money possible for your items and have a profitable garage sale. At the same time, you don’t want to price them so high that no one will buy them.

A good rule of thumb when deciding garage sale prices is to price items at about 25% of their original value. So if you have baby clothes you paid $20 for, you would sell them for $5.

Don’t forget to put price tags or price stickers on all your items. You can use labels or pieces of tape. It’s also a good idea to have plastic bags (plastic grocery bags work perfectly- we know you have a stash under the kitchen sink) or boxes for people to put their purchases in.

Price tags for a successful garage sale: sell lots at low prices, most cash – make it a sale day!

DETERMINE HOW YOU’LL ACCEPT PAYMENT

Now you need to decide how to accept payment for the items you sell. You can take cash, credit cards, or both. If you plan on taking credit cards, you will need to have a way to process them.

You can do this by setting up a PayPal account to accept electronic payments or using a service like Square. These services will allow you to accept credit cards without setting up a merchant account.

You also need to set up a place for people to pay. This can be a table or a spot on the floor.

GET A CASH BOX

Getting a cash box to keep your money safe is also a good idea. This will prevent you from having to worry about someone stealing it.

You can get a cash box at most office supply stores or online. Look for one that has a slot for bills and a compartment for coins.

Garage sale tips: get a cash box.

SET UP

Now it’s time to set up for your garage sale. You want to ensure everything is clearly marked with the price and easy to find. You also want to arrange things in a way that makes sense.

For example, you might want to put all the baby clothes and toys together in one area and adult clothes, valuable items, and miscellaneous items in another area.

It’s also a good idea to have a place for people to try on clothes. A full-length mirror is perfect for this.

Don’t forget to put up any signage you made in advance.

Make your garage sale like your own local thrift store

BE PREPARED

Once your sale is set up and ready to go, there are a few things you need to do to be prepared.

First, make sure you have enough change. You don’t want to run to the bank whenever someone wants to buy something.

If you decide to accept debit or credit payments, you’ll need to prepare for that. This means installing a smartphone or tablet with the PayPal or Square app.

Finally, you want to make sure you have a plan for what to do with any leftover items. You can donate them to a thrift store or put them back in your house. You could also try selling items on Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji. Have some storage containers on standby to keep your leftover sale items in until you can get rid of them.

HAVE FUN

The last step is to relax and have fun. This is your chance to meet new people and earn a little extra money. So enjoy yourself and make the most of it.

Have a successful garage sale on a Saturday morning!

ADDITIONAL GARAGE SALE TIPS:

If you want to attract more people to your garage sale, try having a themed sale. For example, you could have a kids’ clothes sale or a toy sale.

If you want to attract early birds, offer a discount on items purchased in the first hour.

You could also offer a free item for anyone who spends over a certain amount of money.

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6 No-Demo Kitchen Renovation Ideas

Renovating your kitchen can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t always have to mean tearing everything down and starting from scratch. In fact, there are plenty of creative and budget-friendly ways to upgrade your kitchen without the mess and disruption of a full-scale renovation. Here are 6 ways you can achieve the kitchen of your dreams without the headache of any demolition. 

Fresh Paint

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for your kitchen, whether it be for the walls or if you choose to re-paint your cabinets. Choose a color that compliments all your other hardware and appliances in order to tie the room together. You’ll be surprised by how much a brand new coat of paint can make a difference to your space.

Adding Open Shelving 

Remove a few cabinet doors and replace them with open shelves to create a more open and airy feel in your kitchen. Display decorative items, dishes, or cookbooks to add personality to the space. 

Lighting Upgrades 

Sometimes a space can simply benefit from updated lighting. Improve the functionality and ambiance of your kitchen by upgrading your lighting fixtures; install under-cabinet lighting, pendant lights, or recessed lighting to brighten up the space and add style. Out with the old and in with the new!

Cabinet Refacing 

Give your cabinets a fresh look by refacing them with new doors, drawer fronts, and hardware. This can dramatically change the appearance of your kitchen without the need for demolition.

Updating Hardware 

Replace old cabinet knobs, handles, and drawer pulls with new hardware to instantly modernize your kitchen. Choose pieces that coordinate with your faucet and lighting fixtures for a cohesive look.

Decorative Accents

Sometimes upgrading already-existent features is unnecessary. Instead, consider adding personality and style to your kitchen with decorative accents such as rugs, curtains, artwork, and plants. These small touches can make a big impact without the need for demolition or major renovations.

Ultimately, upgrading your kitchen without demolition is not only feasible, but a practical and cost-effective way to breathe new life into your space. From simple changes like updating hardware to replacing old lighting fixtures, there are plenty of options available to suit every style and budget. 

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How to Make the Ultimate Guest Room Basket: Checklist

There’s nothing quite like having your friends and family over at your home. But if you’re like most people, you might feel a bit overwhelmed when hosting during busy times like summer long weekends or the winter holiday season.

After all, hosting is a skill that takes practice. Thankfully, there are many steps you can take to make it easier. Curating guest room essentials throughout the year can help you feel more prepared for last-minute visitors and reduce the cost of hosting during busy times like the summer or over the winter holidays. Follow these tips to make a guest basket that will help your guest feel right at home.

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What Do You Put in a Welcome Gift Basket for a Guest?  

A guest room basket is stocked with essential toiletries and items to ensure guests’ comfort and well-being throughout their stay. Simply put, these welcome baskets are designed to anticipate anything guests might have forgotten to pack. Plus, the basket isn’t just for the benefit of guests. Having these essentials in one place is helpful for hosts, too. After all, keeping a guest room welcome basket helps you keep track of items that might be restocked and products, like hand sanitizer or toothpaste, that can be reused in the future.

What to Include in a Guest Room Basket 

  • WIFI information
  • Universal phone charger
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash
  • Travel-sized toiletries: body wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant 
  • Lip balm 
  • Sunscreen
  • Comb /Brush
  • Disposable razors/ shaving cream
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Makeup remover wipes
  • Feminine products 
  • Packaged snacks like crackers, granola bars, and dried fruit
  • Two water bottles 

Guest Bathroom Essentials 

First of all, before visitors come to your home, it’s important to freshen up and get the bathroom prepared. Make sure your guests feel right at home by stocking the with these essentials:

  • Fresh Supplies: Don’t forget to check your supply of soap, hand lotion and freshly washed bathroom linens like a bath sheet, hand towel, and face towels are ready for guests’ arrival.
  • First-Aid Kit: Include essentials like pain relievers, antacids, cold and allergy medicine, and band-aids. Just remember to check expiration dates!
  • Don’t Forget: Last but not least, double-check if there’s extra toilet paper and a plunger within easy reach. Guests might not want to ask for these items directly. 

Extra Ways to Make Guests Feel More Welcome 

  • Plan a Menu in Advance: Remember to ask your guests about their dietary needs and preferences before their arrival. Find out their favorite breakfast choices, such as whether they prefer coffee or tea in the morning, and if there are any special dietary restrictions to consider for future meals.
  • Show Them to Their Room: When walking your guest up to their room, be sure to show them where the bathroom is located and point out where they can find additional supplies, such as extra towels or blankets. Let guests know about where you’ve stocked the first aid kit and over-the-counter medicines so that they can help themselves if needed.
  • Change Bed Linens: Nothing beats the feeling of clean sheets, so ensure you’ve added newly washed sheets before their arrival.
  • Add a Thoughtful Gift: Surprise and delight your guests with a small gift, like a vase of fresh flowers or a box of chocolates on their pillow.
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Your Complete Home Maintenance Timeline, Simplified


Whether it’s your very first home or a fresh start,there’s a lot to be aware of when it comes to household maintenance. While some developers provide guides to help homeowners get acquainted with maintenance schedules, most owners have to learn on their own. That’s why we consulted Paul Justice, of Justice Construction, to compile a comprehensive—and handy!—timeline to give you a head-start on what to check, when to check it, and how to prepare for the short and long term. 

Yearly planner

The importance of scheduling

Many homeowners overlook maintenance items until serious repairs are needed, ultimately costing more money. According to Justice, the two most commonly overlooked items by homeowners are the foundation and mould. By being aware of what to look for and establishing a habit of regular maintenance and inspections, you can stay on top of your home’s care, boosting its value and ultimately reducing stress and saving money on costly repairs or renovations.

A clean, warm family home.

Monthly

Choose one day each month for these revolving items which can easily be performed in a morning or afternoon.

  • Replace the furnace filter (if you don’t have central air conditioning, then you only need to do this during months of operation).
  • Clean your kitchen range hood filter.
  • Test your smoke and CO (carbon monoxide) detectors.
  • Wash hardwood floors (if you have them).
  • Clean your shower heads and faucet aerators.
  • Inspect and clear out all sink and tub drains.

Pro tip: The best way to prevent drain blockages is with a fine filter drain insert in your kitchen and bathroom drains. This ensures your drains never collect sediments, hair or food waste. Never rely on liquid drain cleaner to clear blockages. 

Storing your tree in the attic


Semi-annually

These tasks should be performed twice each year, once when preparing for winter and again each spring.

  • Replace smoke and CO detector batteries.
  • Check your attic for evidence of water incursion, rodents and confirm your insulation is in good shape.
  • Inspect your windows and doors (ensure frames, sweeps, stripping and caulking are in good shape).
  • Test your hot water tank’s pressure relief valve.
  • Inspect your eavestroughing, gutters, and flashing.
  • Clean your baseboard heater grills (turn off any breakers beforehand and be sure the grills are dry before re-engaging them)
  • Vacuum your air return ducts
  • Pull out appliances like your fridge and stove to vacuum and dust behind 

AC units


Annually

Annual maintenance and inspections usually happen in the spring or fall with a few exceptions that are not season-specific.

Spring:

  • Inspect and pressure wash your home’s exterior.
    Pro tip: Keep an eye on the caulking used to seal your siding.
  • Inspect your roof, eaves, and flashing each spring.
    Pro tip: If there’s any sign of curling, cracking or disintegration, we recommend calling  a roofing inspector immediately.
  • Inspect and clean your AC.
    Pro tip: You only need to use a garden hose to clear dirt and debris from the unit. Remember to disconnect the power first!
  • Check your deck or porch, and wood fence for damage or rot and replace boards as needed.
  • Pressure wash your deck and fence. Watch your pressure settings though so you don’t accidentally gouge your wood!
  • Inspect your asphalt driveway. If you see the colour and definition of individual pebbles, then you know it’s time to reseal.
  • Have your carpets professionally cleaned. You can also rent a carpet cleaning machine.
  • Have your chimney and fireplace/wood stove inspected and cleaned.
  • Check for mould: Inspect your home’s interior, especially places you don’t see often, and check for musty or dank odours.
    Pro tip: If you discover mould, do not stop until it’s safely cleaned and the source identified and corrected—this may require a mould remediation expert.
  • Inspect horizontal runs from your gutters.
    Pro tip: Ensure water is being directed away from the house so it does not collect and soak into the foundation.
  • Inspect your foundation for cracks and moisture.

Fall:

  • Test your home’s thermostat.
  • Inspect and clean out your eavestroughs and gutters.
  • Check your septic system (if you have a septic tank, it’s important to have a professional inspect it annually).
  • Drain and shut off exterior faucets.

Pipes under a sink

Any time of year:

  • Inspect your plumbing for leaks or sweating.
  • Review your electrical system. Whether you live in an older home, or a new build, identifying potential problems early can save a lot of stress down the road.
  • Call an HVAC professional to service your furnace each year.
  • Inspect your flooring for wear and tear.
  • Check your toilets-if they start to rock, prevent damaging leaks by replacing the flange.
  • Check for wiggly door handles and squeaky hinges

Here’s how to replace your toilet’s flange:

YOUTUBE

Preparing for the long-term

You know that rainy day you’re always told to save for? Putting money aside for any eventual repairs is a smart way to avoid unnecessary shocks down the road. With modern building materials and warranties, it may be decades before repairs are needed, but it’s best to be ready. 

Five years:

  • Have your ducts cleaned
  • Replace carpet in high traffic areas. A long-term, economical solution is to install laminate flooring, which can last upwards of 15 years with little maintenance.
  • Paint your home’s interior. 
  • Replace the gaskets and washers in your faucets to prevent leaks.

Ten years:

  • Re-paint your home’s exterior. Depending on the type of paint and materials used for your siding, you should budget to repaint every 10 years. 
  • Refinish your hardwood floors. This may need to be done sooner—or later—depending on how highly trafficked your floors are.

15 years:

  • Be prepared to replace all or part of your roof, depending on the materials used and any warranties applied. 
  • Laminate flooring may need to be replaced.
  • Siding may need to be replaced on your home’s exterior.

25 years:

  • CSA approved windows reach the end of their lifetime at 25 years, and will likely need to be replaced.
A family making food in their family home.

It’s never too soon to start your own household maintenance schedule, and to start saving for those larger eventualities down the road. The savings to your pocket book as well the peace of mind that comes with preparedness will go a long way to ensure long-term enjoyment and comfort in your home.

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Latest Kitchen Trends for 2024

In recent years, the kitchen has gone from simply being a place to make food to a spot where you can inject style and personality into your home. 

“Kitchen spaces are very personal and given how much our lives have been altered in the past few years … clients are always looking for spaces that bring calm and peace even in its most sophisticated state,” explains Orienta Di Pietrantonio, an interior decorator with Emerald Interiors in Toronto, Ontario. “

As we head into 2024 with new design and décor trends, here are seven kitchen design trends we’re looking forward to.

Create a warm and comforting atmosphere with cozy shades

Cozy shades

According to Di Pietrantonio, 2024’s colours are all about warmth and comforting hues. 

“Whites will never be a thing of the past,” she explains. “Some may dispute cooler whites are still the way to go, but, in 2024, you can look forward to warmer whites instead.”

The rich jewel tones that were popular in 2023 will still be a key feature in kitchen designs

She notes the rich jewel tones that dominated 2023’s design trends will continue to be a defining feature in kitchens. This means we’ll be seeing shades of green, red, and burgundy. Orangey topaz and blue are making a comeback and, perhaps due to the massive popularity of the movie Barbie, so is pink. Additionally, brown, Di Pietrantonio reports “is the new black.”

Consider new placemats or table runners in forest green or burgundy, but be careful to balance the red and green scheme—you may run the risk of looking a little too Christmassy. If you’re looking for a weekend project, painting your cabinets or redoing your backsplash could be a bold way to inject 2024’s colours into your kitchen.

Bring a touch of nature to your kitchen with greenery

Extra touches of greenery

A few years ago, herbs were the most common plants you could find in kitchens. Greenery of all kinds is now being welcomed into these spaces. Di Pietrantonio loves this trend because it’s an easy way to create atmosphere you can change whenever you want. Whether you prefer to make a statement, or keep the décor understated, there’s no limit to the shades and textures you can explore simply by getting a new kitchen plant.

Consider hanging plants in front of your windows, or putting them on your kitchen island. Just be sure they have enough sunlight—and that you still have enough counter space. You can also opt for fake plants, which might be better if your thumb is a little less green than others, or if you have pets who are prone to eating things they shouldn’t. Just make sure you have plenty of space between the plants (real or fake) and your stovetop.

Expect natural tones and textures to stay trendy in 2024

Natural tones and textures

Natural materials will continue to be the tones and textures of choice in 2024. Materials like the ever popular rattan, bamboo, and wicker are still having their moment. Light wood tones, reminiscent of Japandi design, will be used to complement this look. 

As for how to incorporate this trend, Di Pietrantonio recommends you keep it simple. Switching out your chairs and stools with bamboo and rattan, for instance, will give the kitchen a new look without a total redo. You could also look for wooden accessories, like napkin holders or bread boxes. 

Open and versatile spaces will remain fashionable

Communal kitchens

“Open, multifunctional spaces continue to be in style,” Di Pietrantonio says. “The pandemic has changed relationships so people are looking for more ways to connect. With more people working or studying from home, kitchens are more important than ever given they’re a common communal space.”

You can adopt this trend by switching out your countertops for something shallower, creating more room for people to gather and move around, though admittedly this is a big project. One simple way to embrace a gathering-space kitchen is by adding stools around your island so it can double as a place to eat and relax.  

Get ready for a '70s vibe with browns and vibrant jewel tone colors

Retro vibes

We’re going back in time.  

“‘70s vibes are coming forward with browns and wonderful jewel tone colours,” Di Pietrantonio explains. “Retro or vintage-modern vibes are still popular. We’re looking forward to seeing more floral patterns and small geometrical designs in 2024.”

It’s the perfect trend for pattern lovers, especially those who frequently change their kitchen’s backsplash. All you need is peel-and-stick wallpaper and some free time.

Homeowners are opting for eco-friendly choices, like using upcycled or thrifted items in their decor

Stylish sustainability

Homeowners are looking to reduce their environmental footprint, which means upcycled or thrifted items in their décor. Using recycled or reclaimed wood is becoming increasingly common, due to the increasing popularity of a less ‘polished’ décor. You can also achieve this by visiting a local antique or thrift store to find accessories that match the aforementioned retro vibes. 

Another way to introduce sustainability into your kitchen design is by making items like recycling and composting bins a part of your kitchen décor. Get a stylish recycling bin that complements your theme. Similarly, create a set space for your composting bin that’s hidden yet easy to access. 

“There are affordable ways to achieve these trends without breaking the bank,” Di Pietrantonio says. Her top recommendations? “Paint one accent wall and dress it up with wall art that reflects trending colours and textures. Switch a main light fixture with a bolder statement piece. Get more plants, and accessorize.”  

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In the ever-evolving realm of home design, 2024 brings a fresh wave of trends that redefine the way we perceive and enhance our living spaces. From sustainable solutions to cutting-edge technology integration, homeowners are increasingly seeking innovative approaches to revitalize their homes.The top home renovation trends of 2024 are not just about aesthetics; they represent a complete approach to creating homes that are functional, sustainable, and tailored to individual lifestyles. Let’s explore 7 of the top home renovation trends gaining momentum in 2024.


1. Sustainable Living Spaces


Sustainability continues to be a driving force in home renovations. Eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient appliances, and water-saving fixtures are becoming staples in modern homes. Homeowners are increasingly aware of their environmental impact and are incorporating green building practices into their renovations to create more sustainable living spaces.


2. Smart Homes, Smarter Renovations



The integration of smart home technology has reached new heights. From intelligent thermostats and lighting systems to fully automated security features, homeowners are embracing the convenience and efficiency that smart home solutions offer. Renovations now often include the installation of interconnected devices that can be controlled remotely, providing homeowners with greater control over their living environments.


3. Multipurpose Spaces



The concept of multifunctional spaces has gained traction as people look for ways to maximize the utility of their homes. Homeowners are opting for open floor plans and flexible room designs that can serve multiple purposes, such as a home office that can transform into a guest room or a living room that seamlessly integrates with a dining area.


4. Introducing Nature into your Home 

 

Bringing the outdoors inside is a trend that has evolved into a full-fledged design philosophy. Biophilic design incorporates natural elements, such as plants, natural light, and organic materials, to create a connection with nature within the home. This approach not only enhances aesthetics but also contributes to improved well-being and mental health.


5. Statement Kitchens


Kitchens have always been the heart of the home, and in 2024, they are making bold statements. Homeowners are opting for unique and personalized kitchen designs, featuring statement backsplashes, high-end appliances, and creative storage solutions. Open shelving and mixed-material countertops are also on the rise, adding character and functionality to these essential spaces.


6. Luxurious Bathrooms 


Bathrooms are transforming into luxurious retreats. Homeowners are investing in spa-like features, including freestanding tubs, high-tech showers, and premium finishes. Smart mirrors with built-in technology are becoming increasingly popular, offering features such as integrated lighting, touchscreen controls, and even voice-activated assistants. 


7. Neutral and Earthy Colour Palettes 



Neutral and earthy color palettes are dominating interior design choices in 2024. Soft tones, such as warm grays, muted greens, and earthy browns, create a calming and timeless atmosphere. These colors serve as a versatile backdrop for other design elements and allow homeowners to express their personality through furniture, artwork, and decor.

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Green and Safe: The Best Pet-Friendly Plants for Your Home

Transforming your home into a lush and vibrant oasis doesn’t have to pose a threat to your furry friends. Many common houseplants can coexist peacefully with pets, adding a touch of nature to your living space while ensuring the safety and well-being of your beloved animals. Let’s explore some of the safest houseplants for animals, allowing you to create a pet-friendly haven that nurtures both your plants and your pets.

Spider Plant:

Spider plants are not only resilient and easy to care for but are also non-toxic to both cats and dogs. These graceful plants, with their arching leaves and air-purifying qualities, make a wonderful addition to any pet-friendly home.

Boston Fern:

Known for its lush, feathery fronds, the Boston Fern is a favourite among plant enthusiasts seeking a pet-safe option. This plant is non-toxic and can thrive in low to moderate light conditions, making it an excellent choice for various areas of your home.


Areca Palm:


The Areca Palm, also known as the Butterfly Palm or Bamboo Palm, is a pet-friendly choice that can add a tropical touch to your space. These palms are non-toxic and are known for their air-purifying properties, creating a healthier indoor environment for both pets and humans.

Calathea:

Calatheas are a family of plants that come in various striking patterns and colours. They are safe for pets and add a touch of elegance to your home. The Prayer Plant is a popular member of the Calathea family, known for its fascinating leaf movements.


Friendship Plant:


With its unique coin-shaped leaves, the Friendship Plant is a safe and attractive choice for pet owners. This low-maintenance plant thrives in indirect light and can be easily propagated, making it a great option for sharing with friends or expanding your plant collection.

African Violet:

Growing African violet: Care And Planting Advice | BBC Gardeners World  Magazine

For those looking to add a splash of colour to their homes, African Violets are a perfect choice. These flowering plants are safe for pets and come in a variety of hues. Place them in a bright, indirect light spot, and they will reward you with their charming blossoms.

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HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE

If you are planning on applying for a mortgage, one of the most important factors that lenders will consider is your credit score. Your credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness, and it is used by lenders to determine your risk as a borrower. A higher credit score can lead to a lower interest rate on your mortgage, while a lower credit score can result in a higher interest rate or even a denial of your mortgage application. If you are looking to improve your credit score in order to qualify for a better mortgage rate, here are five tips to help you get started:

1. Check your credit report and score

The first step in improving your credit score is to check your credit report and score. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) once a year by visiting annualcreditreport.com. In addition, there are also various websites and apps that can provide you with a free credit score. By checking your credit report and score, you can identify any errors or mistakes that may be negatively impacting your credit score and take steps to correct them.

2. Use credit responsibly

Building a good credit score takes time, so it’s important to use credit responsibly from the start. This means only borrowing what you can afford to pay back, paying your bills on time, and not maxing out your credit cards. By using credit responsibly, you can establish a good credit history and improve your credit score over time.

3. Pay your bills on time

Payment history is one of the most important factors that contributes to your credit score. By paying your bills on time, you can demonstrate to lenders that you are responsible and reliable when it comes to paying your debts. Set up automatic payments or reminders to ensure that you don’t miss any due dates.

4. Reduce your credit card balances

Credit utilization is another important factor that affects your credit score. This is the ratio of your credit card balances to your credit limits. A higher credit utilization ratio can indicate to lenders that you are using a large percentage of your available credit, which can be seen as a risk. To improve your credit utilization ratio, try to pay down your credit card balances as much as possible and aim to keep your balances below 30% of your credit limits.

5. Don’t close old credit cards

If you have credit cards that you no longer use, it may be tempting to close them in order to simplify your finances. However, closing an old credit card can actually have a negative impact on your credit score. This is because the credit card’s age is a factor in your credit score, and a longer credit history can help improve your score. Instead of closing old credit cards, consider keeping them open and using them sparingly to maintain a good credit history.

6. Dispute errors on your credit report:

If you find errors on your credit report, it’s important to take action to correct them as soon as possible. Credit report errors can occur for a variety of reasons, and they can have a significant impact on your credit score. By disputing errors on your credit report, you can help ensure that your credit score reflects your true creditworthiness.

7. Monitor your credit regularly

It’s important to monitor your credit regularly to ensure that your credit score is accurate and up-to-date. In addition to checking your credit report and score once a year, you can also consider signing up for a credit

monitoring service or setting up alerts to notify you of any changes to your credit. By monitoring your credit regularly, you can stay on top of any potential issues or mistakes and take action to correct them.

8. Don’t apply for too many credit cards at once

Every time you apply for a credit card, it results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your credit score. To avoid too many hard inquiries, try to limit your credit card applications to only when you really need them.

9. Consider a secured credit card

If you have a low credit score or a limited credit history, a secured credit card may be a good option. A secured credit card is a type of credit card that requires a deposit as collateral, which is used to secure the credit line. By using a secured credit card responsibly and paying your bills on time, you can build or improve your credit score.

In conclusion, improving your credit score can be a key factor in getting approved for a mortgage and securing a better interest rate. By checking your credit report and score, paying your bills on time, reducing your credit card balances, avoiding too many credit card applications, and considering a secured credit card, you can take steps to improve your credit score and increase your chances of getting approved for a mortgage.

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THE BEST CONDO AMENITIES FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE

Living in a condominium offers a unique lifestyle, combining the convenience of urban living with the comfort of a private home. One of the biggest advantages of condo living is the access to a wide range of amenities that enhance the overall living experience. It is important to understand the wide variation in amenities offered before buying your condo. In this article, we will delve into the world of condo amenities, exploring what they are, why they are important, and highlighting the essential and luxurious options available.

UNDERSTANDING CONDO AMENITIES

Condo amenities refer to the shared facilities and services available to residents. These can include anything from fitness centres and swimming pools to security features and pet-friendly spaces. The purpose of these amenities is to enhance the quality of life for residents and create a sense of community within the condominium complex.

As shared spaces, condo amenities are usually maintained and improved by the condo corporation. Residents contribute towards these ownership and maintenance costs via monthly common expenses.

WHAT ARE CONDO AMENITIES?

Condo amenities encompass a wide range of services and facilities that are designed to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of residents. They serve as an extension of your living space, providing additional convenience and enjoyment. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind, socialize with your neighbours, or maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, condo amenities have got you covered.

THE IMPORTANCE OF QUALITY AMENITIES

Investing in a condo with top-notch amenities can significantly impact your daily life. Quality amenities not only add value to your property, but they also enhance your overall well-being. Having convenient access to amenities eliminates the need to travel elsewhere for basic services, saving you time and effort. Moreover, amenities provide opportunities for social interaction and community engagement, fostering a sense of belonging and creating lasting memories.

Condo corporations usually make their best efforts to make sure these facilities are clean, functional, and operational. Occasionally, this duty can entail a renovation of the common areas. This can be done via budgeting or charging the owners in a special assessment. Before buying a condo, it's important to understand the improvements planned or scheduled, which will be detailed in the Status Certificate.

ESSENTIAL CONDO AMENITIES

When it comes to essential condo amenities, a few options stand out as must-haves for any prospective homeowner. Let’s explore these amenities that are crucial for a comfortable and convenient living experience.

SECURITY FEATURES

Your safety and peace of mind should be a top priority when choosing a condo. Look for buildings equipped with robust security features such as 24/7 surveillance, access control systems, and professional security staff. These measures ensure that you can enjoy a worry-free living environment.

PARKING FACILITIES

Convenient parking facilities can make a world of difference in urban living. Look for condos that offer designated parking spaces or even underground parking garages. Parking spaces can be owned, exclusively assigned, or first-come first-served. Parking ownership or assignment eliminates the hassle of searching for parking and provides added security for your vehicle.

Ensure that the building has sufficient visitor parking too, and double-check the overnight parking policy. Should you have family or friends spend the night, you don’t want to wake up to a ticket or a tow!

FITNESS CENTRES AND POOLS

Maintaining an active lifestyle is essential for your physical and mental well-being. A well-equipped fitness centre within your condo complex allows you to work out conveniently without having to travel to a gym. Additionally, having access to a pool provides a refreshing way to cool off and stay fit during the summer months.

PET-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

If you’re a pet owner, it’s important to choose a condo that accommodates your furry friends. Look for properties that feature pet-friendly amenities such as designated dog parks, dog-washing stations, and easy access to outdoor spaces for walks and playtime. Your pet will appreciate the additional love and attention they receive in their new home!

LUXURY CONDO AMENITIES

If you’re looking for a touch of extravagance and sophistication, luxury condo amenities will exceed your expectations. These amenities elevate the condo living experience to unmatched levels of comfort and luxury, ensuring that every moment spent within your home is pure bliss.

SPA AND WELLNESS CENTERS

Imagine having a luxurious spa right at your doorstep. High-end condos often feature spa and wellness centres where residents can indulge in rejuvenating massages, facials, and other wellness treatments. These spaces provide a retreat from daily life and promote self-care and relaxation.

ROOFTOP DECKS AND OUTDOOR SPACES

There’s something magical about enjoying panoramic views from a rooftop deck. Luxury condos often offer expansive outdoor spaces where residents can unwind, entertain guests, or soak up the beautiful surroundings. These rooftops serve as an oasis in the bustling city, allowing you to reconnect with nature and escape the urban chaos.

PRIVATE DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT AREAS

Luxury condos often provide private dining and entertainment areas to impress your guests. These spaces allow you to host elegant dinner parties or intimate gatherings without having to leave the comfort of your building. Imagine the convenience of having a fully equipped kitchen and a stylish dining area just a few steps away from your front door.

ECO-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

As sustainability and environmental consciousness continue to gain prominence, many condo developers are incorporating eco-friendly amenities into their projects. These amenities aim to minimize the ecological footprint of the building while providing residents with a healthier and greener living environment.

ENERGY-EFFICIENT APPLIANCES

Choosing a condo equipped with energy-efficient appliances is not only environmentally friendly but also cost-effective. Energy-efficient appliances consume less electricity, reducing your carbon footprint and helping you save on utility bills. Look for condos that prioritize sustainability by using appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings.

GREEN SPACES AND GARDENS

A touch of greenery can transform a condo complex into a serene oasis. Developers are incorporating green spaces and gardens within condo complexes to offer residents a connection to nature. These spaces not only improve air quality but also provide opportunities for relaxation, exercise, and gardening.

RECYCLING AND COMPOSTING FACILITIES

Reducing waste is a crucial step towards a sustainable future. Condos that prioritize environmental responsibility often provide recycling and composting facilities for residents. These amenities make it convenient for you to dispose of waste responsibly, minimizing the impact on the environment.

Condo amenities play a significant role in enhancing the quality of life for residents. From essential amenities that provide convenience and security to luxurious and eco-friendly amenities that elevate the living experience, there is a wide range of options. When buying a condo, it’s essential to consider your lifestyle preferences and prioritize the amenities that align with your needs. Whether you value an active lifestyle, crave luxury and indulgence, or seek a sustainable living environment, there are condo amenities out there that will cater to your desires and make your condo truly feel like home.


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Home Organization Tips for the New Year

Have you stuck to your New Year’s resolutions so far? Whether it’s eating healthier, keeping the house clean, getting more exercise, or something more personal, New Year’s resolutions can be tricky to keep.

More often than not, people try to get on top of their home organization at the beginning of the year, making a vow to keep things tidy all year round. We spoke with Nina Duque and Hillary Tan-Ortiz of Overdue Solutions, a cleaning and organizing service from the Greater Toronto Area, and they gave us some of their best tips on how to keep your home organized this year—and where to start. 

“Most people would go for the areas that are an eyesore (out in the open), but we recommend tackling your hidden spaces like closets, cupboards, or cabinets,” says Tan-Ortiz. “These spaces generally hide things you haven’t touched in a while—and will likely never touch for weeks, months, or years to come. Clutter builds up in those spaces because you’re not looking at the mess everyday and we often fall into the trap of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ You’d be surprised to find things have accumulated overtime.”

What should you ask yourself when decluttering?

It’s not uncommon to build emotional attachments towards your stuff, but it can become a hindrance when you’re trying to declutter your space. 

“Purging can be both nerve-wracking and therapeutic at the same time, but it’s all about practicality,” Duque shared. “If you’re trying to decide on if you should keep or get rid of an item, there are some questions to ask yourself such as:

  • When was the last time you used this item? If the answer is more than a year ago, it might be worth reconsidering if you’ll ever use it again.
  • How often have you used this item since purchasing it and was it being used enough for you to say it was worth the purchase? If the answers are no, then we’re sorry to say you might have been a victim of an impulsive purchase. (We’re all guilty of it!)
  • Take an inventory of your items—do you really need four different hair straighteners? Sometimes you don’t even realize you have multiples of the same item and if you do, it might be worth donating to others who could use your extras.

We’re not going to ask you if it sparks joy, but it’s definitely worth asking yourself if it serves any purpose in your current environment. Sometimes an item that worked well in your old apartment might not have a home for the new house you just bought. Again, think about practicality.

What are the best home organization tips?

Just like buying a home or a car, there aren’t any one-size-fits all solutions to keeping your home organized. According to Overdue Solutions, it’s all about customizing your solutions to your lifestyle and what makes the most sense for your space. That being said, there are a few key strategies you can consider. 

“We often recommend the items you use the most be the easiest to access, and the rest should go into proper storage areas,” Tan-Ortiz explained. Otherwise, here are some other tips to help you out:

  • Group liked things together—arts and crafts supplies in a bin, cleaning supplies in the same area, electronics stored together, etc.
  • Use clear plastic bins because they help immensely for easy identification if you’re looking for something. Avoid bags! 
  • Get into the habit of storing your items in designated spots as soon as you bring them into a new space. If you’re not much of an art décor person, maximize wall space by hanging up items or setting up shelves instead.

What are the areas people tend to forget when organizing?

When you take a look at your home and assess what needs the most attention, odds are you’re focusing on the areas you can see. Bookshelves, coffee tables, the living room, and other highly visible areas are often the first places we start when trying to get organized, but there are a few areas we tend to forget. 

“Kitchen cabinet drawers, shoe racks/cabinets, and bathroom cabinetry (especially under the sink) often get neglected even though they’re wildly overused,” Duque shared. “These storage spots are in high-traffic areas and usually get overly stocked up with various items. We highly recommend purging those areas every season to make sure the stuff that’s not really needed is taken out.”

The best way to organize…

Armed with the knowledge of where to start and what to ask yourself, it’s time to begin organizing and decluttering! Nina and Hil shared their tips on organizing four main areas of your home. 

Bedrooms

“Tackle the closet first!” Duque explained. “A big part of the average person’s bedroom is actually their closet space and/or storage for clothing. Clothing needs to be arranged so the most used outfits (and undergarments) get placed in an easy access area. Seasonal arrangement also helps so you’re not constantly grabbing the wrong things—no one likes reaching over a winter coat when trying to grab a fall sweater.”

Kitchens

“Clear the counter space!” Tan-Ortiz stressed. “It helps immensely when you’re actually trying to use the kitchen to…cook (gasp). And when organizing your pantry, do it by product similarity and what you use most. For example, if you’re a coffee/tea person, that’s definitely the first thing you’ll want to grab rather than some canned goods.”

Playrooms and basements

“Bins, bins, bins,” Duque shared. “Basements are sometimes the go-to extra storage space in households and are often forgotten about. Dust tends to collect faster in basements so bins are your best bet at maintaining storage. Clear bins go a long way in helping you identify things easily.”

Linen closets

“It all depends on your personal preference but we recommend organizing linen closets by colour so it’s easier to identify what matches,” Tan-Ortiz explained. “Plus, it’s always good to know if you’re running out of white towels and will need to do a load of whites, for example.”

In the end, home organization comes down to what works best for you. While there are concepts and tricks to getting started, your home should be set up to best suit your lifestyle and routine—whatever that may be!

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Ontario Property Taxes and Value Assessments: A Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners in 2024

The Background

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about various changes and delays to just about everything, and Ontario’s property assessment was no exception. To adapt to the circumstances during the pandemic, the Ontario government postponed the 2020 assessment update. As a result, property assessments for the 2023 and 2024 property tax years will be based on the fully phased-in January 1, 2016 current values. This decision allowed the government to extend the postponement of a province-wide reassessment through the end of the 2021-2024 assessment cycle.

The 2016 Benchmark

In 2016, the Ontario government mailed a Property Assessment Notice to every property owner in the province. This notice reflected the assessed value and classification of each property as of January 1, 2016. Remarkably, this benchmark will serve as the foundation for calculating property taxes for 2023 and 2024. So, what does this mean for homeowners?

If you were a property owner in 2016, you may wonder how the property’s value from seven years ago is relevant to your current tax bill. It’s a valid concern, as property values can fluctuate significantly over time. The answer lies in understanding that the 2016 benchmark as a snapshot in time, serving as a reference point. However, prepare yourself for a possible and maybe even significant increase on the next assessment. 

Ongoing Property Review

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) continues to review properties during non-assessment update years. Even though the 2016 benchmark serves as the starting point, many factors prompt a reassessment. According to MPAC, these changes could include:

  1. Change in Property Ownership or Legal Description: If there has been a change in the legal ownership of your property, meaning you bought and/or sold, you might receive a notice from MPAC.
  2. Value Changes from Appeals: If you’ve previously filed a request for reconsideration or had an assessment review board decision, and it resulted in a change to your property’s assessed value, this will be reflected in your assessment.
  3. Structural Changes: Any additions, renovations, or demolition of structures on your property can impact your assessment. A new structure, the removal of an old one, or significant modifications will be considered.
  4. Classification or Tax Liability Changes: If the classification of your property changes, it can affect your tax liability. Understanding the classification of your property is crucial as it determines your property tax rate.

What to Expect in 2024

As 2024 fast approaches, it’s essential for homeowners to be aware of these factors. With the 2016 benchmark serving as the base, any property changes made since then can lead to increases in your property assessment. 

Property taxes are also influenced by municipal budgets and tax rates, which can fluctuate from year to year. Understanding your property assessment is a vital step in the process, as it allows you to make informed decisions about your financial planning and property ownership.

If you’re a prospective buyer entering the market in the coming months, this information is equally important for you. When considering a property purchase, it’s vital to understand not only the property’s current value but also its potential for changes in the near future.

By being proactive and understanding the factors that affect property assessments, homeowners can plan and prepare for any changes that may come their way. Whether you’re a current homeowner or a future property buyer, knowledge is your greatest ally in navigating Ontario’s property assessment system, be prepared. 

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Fire Safety and Prevention Tips for Your Home.

Fire safety in the home is essential throughout the year, though extra attention is encouraged during colder seasons as we fire up our heating systems and turn to candles to create warm atmospheres. There are simple, yet preventative, steps you can take to reduce the risk of fires in your home to keep you, your loved ones and your belongings safe.

This article will assess some of the key hazards in our homes we tend to overlook as well as the major, life-saving effect of working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Fire Hazard Guide

Fire hazards in your home you may not realize

Some fire hazards are easily identifiable, including unattended cigarettes or fire-burning candles, but there are some less obvious dangers we often overlook. Be sure to add these areas to your fire mitigation plan, too.  

Dryer lint

When it comes to fires caused by home appliances, dryers are at the top of the list. Make sure you’re regularly clearing lint from the trap, vent, and exhaust pipe. The lint trap should be cleaned after every cycle, while your vent and exhaust pipes should be at least once a year or when you notice clothes are taking longer to dry. 

Forgetting pots and pans on your stove

The Canadian Red Cross lists unattended stoves as one of the leading causes of home fires in Canada. Turn off your stove if you aren’t there to attend to it, and if you’re leaving something to simmer or stew all day, don’t leave the house with the stove on. Be sure to clean flammable grease and grime off your stove as they can catch fire and ignite nearby combustibles like kitchen cloths and towels, as well as cabinets and curtains. 

REMEMBER: Never use water to put out a grease fire. Turn off the heat source, use a metal lid to cover the fire, and use a fire extinguisher. If the fire feels unmanageable, evacuate and call 9-1-1. 

Overcrowding electrical outlets

Electrical fires can be caused by overloaded outlets. When outlets carry too much electricity, they generate an increased level of internal heat that could ignite a fire. Ideally, appliances should have their own outlet, and never plug more than one heating appliance into a single outlet. 

Dust building up around electrical outlets

Dust bunnies appear well before a spring clean, which is why it’s so important to dust your home regularly. Dust is highly combustible, and when it’s collected near electrical outlets or space heaters, it’s susceptible to igniting and spreading.

Flammable items on or near heat sources

Clothes, furniture, stuffed animals, towels, or other flammable materials could start a fire when placed on or too close to radiators, lamps, stovetops, lights, or space heaters. Double check there is adequate space between flammable belongings and heat sources. 

Leaving styling devices connected

Straighteners, curling irons, and flat irons all have the potential to start a fire if they are left plugged in and unattended. Adopt the habit of unplugging them immediately after use, and look for styling tools that have automatic shut-offs after a certain period of time. 

Christmas trees

Both artificial and real trees present fire hazards. Real trees should be watered daily to avoid becoming dry and highly flammable, especially with lights strung along the branches. Trees should also be kept far away from open fires or space heaters and electrical sockets should not be overloaded with Christmas lights. As noted above, overloading outlets is hazardous and could spread through a flammable Christmas tree quickly. 

Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

How often should you test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors? 

We expect our smoke alarms to be ready at any time to alert us of a fire, which is why it’s crucial to check them regularly. Smoke alarms come with manufacturer’s instructions on testing and maintaining your alarm, but First Alert recommends smoke detectors be tested on a monthly basis.

If your alarm is powered by a nine-volt battery, it’s recommended the batteries be changed every six months. Similarly, hardwired smoke detectors should have their backup batteries replaced every six months and be replaced entirely every 10 years, though it’s best to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Carbon monoxide detectors are mandatory for your home in most provinces, and strongly recommended even where it’s not law, as they catch dangerous levels that come from gas or wood-burning fireplaces, gas stoves and ovens, furnaces, boilers, and water heaters. They should ideally be replaced every five to seven years, and checked monthly to ensure they’re working properly. 

The placement of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is again regulated by the province or municipality. In Ontario, for example, detectors must be located adjacent to all sleeping areas of the home if you have a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage. If you’re unsure of your local or provincial laws surrounding carbon monoxide detectors, check with your local fire department.

Fire safety tips for homeowners

Tips for fire safety as a homeowner

It’s important to be aware of all possible escape routes from your home, which is why a personalized home emergency evacuation plan is strongly advised by First Alert, among other fire safety organizations. Though ideally you’ll never have to use it, the plan should be in place and practiced at least twice a year to avoid heightening the panic or confusion in the event of an emergency. 

When making your escape route, consider the following: 

  • identify multiple exits in the event your main exit is blocked during an emergency—First Alert recommends two exit routes from every room in your home;
  • consider keeping escape ladders in rooms on the second floor for additional exit options;
  • assign a meeting spot for the family in the even you’re evacuating separately; and
  • assign one person to assist pets, children, or anyone else who may need help evacuating.

It’s also important for everyone in your home to know how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Think of the acronym PASS. Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle, Squeeze the handle, Sweep the area. First Alert recommends checking your fire extinguishers on a monthly basis to ensure the pressure indicator is pointed in the green zone of the dial. If it’s not, your extinguisher needs to be serviced immediately. They also remind people most fire extinguishers only last five to six years before they need to be refilled, so keeping track of those dates in something like a homeowner’s journal is key. 

Here’s a handy checklist of preventative measures and tips, in addition to your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, on how to proceed in the event of a fire:

  • map out an escape route, making note of anyone who will need assistance and establish a safe place to meet outside of the home where everyone can be accounted for;
  • make sure to completely stub out fire burning candles and any other lit items before leaving them unattended;
  • keep flammable liquids or items like curtains, paper, and clothing at least three feet away from appliances like space heaters or radiators;
  • if there’s a power outage, consider using a flashlight instead of candles; and
  • as well as keeping matches, lighters, and flammable liquids out of reach of children, have regular conversations with them about the dangers of fire and ensure they’re aware of the “stop, drop, and roll” technique should their clothing catch fire.

While you may not be able to prevent fires completely, being prepared in the event of an emergency is key when it comes to keeping you and your family safe. If you’re ever curious about how you can make your home more fire safe, contact your local fire department for details. 

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5 Home Issues You Should Never Ignore

What are some common signs around the home that can lead to more serious problems for you in the future? And how does this affect your quality of life at home, not to mention the resale value?

When you own a home, you get to pick and choose when you want to make aesthetic repairs. Chipped paint in the wall may not be at the top of your priority list, but sometimes things we think can be left alone are actually a sign of larger issues at play. Ignoring these common problems around your home can lead to troubling outcomes, so it’s important to address them before they potentially become more serious—and more costly.

Signs of leaky roof repair and water stains on wall

1. Water stains and warped walls, ceilings, or floors

What starts out as a small water stain or a warped wall or ceiling is often a sign of a leaky roof, dripping pipes, or faulty plumbing. Whether big or small, every leak should be looked into as soon as possible. 

“The first thing to check for are fixtures (faucets, sinks, toilets) then check your bathroom showers or tubs by running water through them,” says Paul Rodriguez of Intelligent Contracting Solutions, Ltd. in Toronto, Ontario. “Water intrusion into the home is a problem that cannot be ignored. It can lead to issues that will be expensive to remediate. If you’re unsure, call a plumber right away!” 

Water spots, warped or missing shingles, or water-damaged exterior walls are all signs of roof leaks. If you suspect a leak on your roof, you can check in your attic for water damage or mould around the rafters and roof sheathing. Leaks can also be identified by going onto the roof itself, but in this scenario you should call in a roofing professional to do so. 

Without being inspected and repaired, leaks can lead to water damage to your drywall, insulation, and flooring. As a result, mould, and mildew springs up. Ensure you quickly identify where the leak is coming from and call in a plumber or roofing professional (depending on where the leak originated) to get it repaired. The longer the leak lasts, the more likely structural damage and mould can occur, negatively affecting the health and resale value of your home.


Foundation Cracks You Should Know

2. Mould and mildew

Any time water or excess moisture enters your home, toxic mould can grow. Signs to look out for include musty, stale-smelling air, and small black specks, especially in your basement, attic, or around damp areas in your house, such as your laundry room. You may also feel your own health being affected with sinus, cold, and other symptoms. Don’t forget to check for mould and mildew if you’ve recently had to repair a water stain as mentioned above. 

“Don’t ignore leaks, they can lead to mould,” Rodriguez cautions. “This can have serious health impacts. If you notice mould behind drywall, inside cabinets, or another place where a leak has been happening, call an abatement company after having dealt with the leak with a plumber.”

It’s important to address mould growth before it spreads.You’ll need to identify why they’re occurring, and what repairs need to be done to prevent it. According to Health Canada, household dampness and mould can lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation, worsening of asthma symptoms, bronchitis, and eczema—all depending on the species, severity, and length of exposure. 

Potential buyers would absolutely take this into consideration, learn of the cost of repairs needed to stop the issue, and then take this into account when submitting bids.


Signs to look out for Pests and rodents

3. Cracks in your home’s foundation

In Canada, our homes become subjected to extreme changes in weather, such as heavy wind,storms and relentless freeze-thaw cycles. Because of this, small hairline fractures may occur in the concrete around the outside of your house. These small cracks are common, but it’s important to look out for bulging or buckling in the concrete, or cracks wider than about the width of a pencil. These can be signs of more significant problems which require repairs to your foundation—no small task If you do see some cracks, but you’re not sure whether it’s time to call in a structural engineer or foundation contractor, Rodriguez says you can monitor them on your own—at first.

“Take a marker and make two lines across from each other, on opposite sides of the crack. Measure between the two lines, record the measurements. Come back in three weeks and measure again. If the gap has increased, call a structural engineer for an assessment. Settlement in new construction can happen, but drastic changes can mean something is wrong with the foundation such as footings or drainage.” 

If the gap hasn’t widened, there’s no need to address them unless you want to for aesthetic reasons. Just keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t grow. Without being addressed, these larger cracks can grow, allowing water and salt to enter the concrete and further erode the steel rebar within the foundation of your home. When this rebar erodes, it threatens the durability of your home and can lead to potential rotting and damage to the internal structure of your home. 

Other signs to look out for that signify your home’s foundation is shifting include cracks in the paint inside your home, difficulty opening and closing your doors and windows, or uneven flooring. Though these issues may be harmless—door frames can shift due to humidity in the summer—they may also be signs that one of the joists that support your flooring has rotted or is broken, requiring a replacement. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to get professional advice. 

Foundation issues can significantly affect the resale value of your home as a new owner would have to pay for repairs. Cracks in a foundation are something home inspectors look for, and if a home inspection is included as a condition of your home’s sale, it could mean the deal won’t go through. 

Electrical Issue You Should Know

4. Pests and rodents

Pests and rodents can cause significant damage to your home, termites being one of the most destructive. Aside from the very unpleasant idea of having critters running around your home, rodents can cause damage you may not see right away.

“It’s important to have your home protected from the intrusion of rodents,” Rodriguez explains. “They can destroy insulation, wiring, and other components behind walls or in your attic. Inspect your home yearly for gaps around soffit and fascia, shingles or missing roofing materials. There are companies who specialize in removing rodents, squirrels or raccoons, as well as making sure they stay out.”

When it comes to insects, they can cause structural damage to your drywall and baseboards.

“Pests can be worse [than rodents] and detrimental to your wellbeing,” Rodriguez tells us. “ Identify what these pests may be in your area and call a specialist to treat and prevent intrusion.”

Signs to look out for include “termite tunnels,” which are small black or brown stick-looking tunnels made from wood, soil, and termite saliva. Small piles of shed wings, a significant amount of dead insects, mouse waste, chewed wires, or ripped-up paper, cardboard, or fabric are also indicators that you have a pest problem. 

It’s important to get an exterminator in your home and identify how these pests are getting in to prevent future problems. The longer you leave these insects and rodents alone, the more time they will have to breed and cause even more damage, lowering the resale value of your property.


5. Electrical overload

Do you own an older home that hasn’t had its electrical wiring inspected? There may be some tell-tale signs your home is experiencing electrical overload.

“Flickering lights or a breaker always tripping when running multiple appliances can be signs of shoddy electrical work or overloaded circuits,” Rodriguez says. “Ignoring these signs can lead to appliance damage, or worse, an electrical fire. Don’t wait, call a licensed electrical contractor to assess and repair any damage or improper wiring. Make sure an ESA [Electrical Safety Authority] permit is pulled and work is inspected. This way you can ensure that the work is done by code.”

Rewiring an entire home can be costly but is necessary and should be done as soon as possible by a licensed professional. When potential buyers have your home inspected, these wiring issues will definitely affect your house’s resale value.

If you ignore little problems, they become big. Don’t write off these signs of potential problems that can cost you more in the future. 


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Confused Over Granite vs. Quartz? Here’s a Handy Guide
Kitchen countertops are notoriously confusing. At the end of the day, most of them kind of look the same, right? But if you’re looking to renovate, or just want to study up on your existing countertops, it’s helpful to truly understand the key differences between materials. Perhaps the most commonly researched surfaces are granite and quartz, especially as people start looking into kitchen upgrades. First, they usually want to know if granite is still a thing and according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, it isn’t… sort of. 

While it’s technically still a popular material, the association confirmed that the demand for quartz is surpassing granite in leaps and bounds: According to their 2024 kitchen trends report, 73 percent of industry professionals surveyed anticipate quartz will grow in popularity over the next three years, while only 32 percent can say the same for granite. Now quartz might be trending, but granite is somewhat of a classic and could still be a strong candidate for any potential kitchen makeovers. We asked professionals to explain the differences between the two so you can make an informed decision during the selection process. 

Composition of Granite and Quartz

What is Granite?

Once the default countertop for most builder-grade kitchens during the early 2000s, granite is now falling out of favor, making way for other materials like quartz and marble. But it was extremely popular for so long because it’s highly durable, heat-resistant, and is available in many colors. It’s stone that’s quarried directly from the earth, and each slab offers a unique design, according to Meredith Barclay, The Home Depot’s senior merchant of countertops. She says, “The beauty of the stone is preserved in the cutting and polishing process, making each countertop one-of-a-kind, with colors ranging from earthy tones to vibrant gem-like shades.” 

What is Quartz?

Quartz countertops are starting to take over kitchens across the country. Barclay explains that quartz is technically a readily available natural stone, but it’s transformed into “engineered stone" for countertops by combining crushed quartz crystals, in addition to other stone materials, with resin and synthetic additives like pigments. “This manufacturing process provides quartz countertops with advantages not found in natural stone,” she adds. Barclay notes that between 2015 and 2016, quartz countertops gained popularity as improved manufacturing technology produced colors mimicking white marble with veins without the demanding maintenance of marble, making it an ideal choice for homeowners seeking a marble look and a low-maintenance countertop.

Durability

Both quartz and granite are extremely durable against scratches, heat, staining, and daily wear and tear, says Corbin Clay, custom home builder and CEO of Wayhome, a service that offers virtual expert advice for home improvement, repair, and DIY projects. “The choice between the two often comes down to personal preferences and the specific characteristics that matter most to the homeowner,” he explains.  

Want something low-maintenance that’s available in a bunch of colors and patterns? Quartz might be for you. But Clay cautions that there’s been a boom in quartz manufacturing over the last five years, and he’s noticed an increase in low-quality quartz that’s far less durable and prone to staining, chipping, and heat damage. “Not all quartz is the same, and like most things, there are really good versions and really bad versions. If you’re considering quartz, be sure to ask about the manufacturer’s warranty,” he strongly recommends. 

Maintenance

Caring for Granite

Granite is a porous material and will need to be re-sealed every 12 months or so, Clay advises. This will help resist staining, but you should still aim to wipe up common kitchen messes like oil and wine ASAP just to be safe. Tidy up after each cook session with a spray bottle of water and a few drops of dish soap, and address countertop stains with a homemade paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. For sealing, Barclay recommends using a product like Miracle Sealants 511 Impregnator Penetrating Sealer. “I love it because it forms an invisible barrier and will not change the look of the treated surface,” she says. 

  

Caring for Quartz 

Quartz is a man-made, engineered material that does not need to be sealed or re-sealed since it is non-porous. “It's worth noting that quartz contains resin, which can fade in UV light, making it unsuitable for outdoor use,” warns Barclay. She adds that there are some manufacturers, like Caesarstone, that offer UV-resistant resin in select quartz colors for outdoor use. The other  upside to quartz: Many manufacturers add an antibacterial ingredient to further inhibit the growth of bacteria. That being said, you should still regularly clean your quartz countertops, using your manufacturer’s recommended product or the dish soap and water solution we suggested for granite. 

Cost

The cost of both granite and quartz can vary greatly based on a lot of factors: manufacturer (in the case of quartz), color, texture, pattern, availability, and scarcity (especially with the more exotic textures and patterns). 

Fabrication is another cost factor. Clay says, “Pricing can be confusing as some stone suppliers do their own fabrication and installation, while others don’t.” If you’re trying to stick to a budget, Clay recommends using stone remnants for smaller areas like bathroom vanities or fireplace surrounds. “Depending on the stone yard and how long they’ve had a certain style on hand, they may also be willing to negotiate if you take the last two slabs off their hands (allowing them to bring in, say, a much more popular Calacatta marble),” he explains. 


If you want ballpark figures though: According to Angi data estimates, you can expect to shell out between $40 to $60 per square for granite slabs, while the average cost for quartz slabs is about $70 to $100 per square foot. 

How to Choose Between Granite and Quartz

So, how should you choose between the two materials? Clay says that if you’re a purist looking for the unique beauty of natural stone, where no two pieces are the same, then granite is the way to go. He admits, “While the ‘natural’ veining in quartz colors available today are much more authentic-looking than years ago, a discerning eye may still see quartz as ‘fake-looking.’” But if zero-maintenance is a top priority, then you should definitely opt for quartz. 

If you’re wondering which might work better for your construction timeline, Clay says both take exactly the same time to fabricate and install, and the lead times are subject to local availability of the color and finish you’re looking for. 

Barclay also adds that you should prioritize value, instead of just looking at the number on the price tag—it’s an investment that will enhance the aesthetic appeal and practicality of your kitchen. Choose something that fits your lifestyle and in a color that completes your space. She says, “According to industry research, the most common element in the kitchen that the customer wishes they had spent more money on is the countertop.”

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Improve Your Curb Appeal: 10 Ideas for Your Front Porch

Whether you are trying to sell your home or just trying to spruce things up for guests, taking the time to add exterior elements to the face of your home will allow it to look more appealing and welcoming. Giving attention to little elements such as the porch of your home will increase the value of your home and give you a competitive edge on other properties. If you’re not sure what exactly to do, we have laid out 10 improvements you can make to improve the curb appeal of your porch!

Improve Old Hardware 

Small features such as house numbers and light fixtures can be updated and colour-coordinated to give the home an elegant feel. Outdoor wall lanterns can be layered with cozy string lights to further warm up the space. As for house numbers, oiled bronze finishes go well with more traditional homes while brushed nickel finishes suit more modern homes. 

Install Colourful Window Boxes 

15 Gorgeous Flowering Window Box Ideas for Spring

Contrary to its name, window boxes are not limited to just windows. They can be placed on the railings of your porch as railing planters to add some colour to the porch. When choosing a window box, it is important that it is coordinated with the home’s trim, shutters and doors to connect the exterior of the home together. 

Fill the box with many flowers or plants that allow it to look full and healthy, adding even more life to the property. Flowers like petunias, fuschia, and begonias are popular and easy options for rail planters. 

Upgrade Outdoor Furniture 

Outdoor furniture can be arranged in many ways to propose an inviting and welcoming essence to guests. If you have a smaller porch, go for chairs and tables that are less bulky but still have the same aesthetic that ties into other elements of your home. In contrast, if you have a bigger porch, separate your outdoor furniture into different zones to make it feel spacious.

When choosing colours, it is important to follow the vibe of your home. Stick with colours that complement other aspects of your home such as your flowers, or ones that contrast your front door to really make it pop. Other accessories like cushions can really enhance the aesthetic of your home with interesting patterns and designs and using bold colours.   

 

Repaint the Porch Floor 

Porch paint ideas: 10 colors and designs to boost curb appeal |
 
 

Repainting the porch can be challenging when you don’t know which colour to choose. White is a good choice if you want a bright porch and a colour that can’t go out of style. Other items with bolder colours will also pop with a white porch. Grey is also a good choice because it brings out the architectural features while also remaining a calm, neutral colour. Other colours like green give your porch more of a pop when coordinated with shutters and trim on the exterior of the home while a colour like navy blue, can neutralize your home while still being a staple to the presence of the home. 

Shutters or Accent Trim 

Shutters were commonly used for ventilation, privacy and protection, but have now become a source of decoration. Try painting the shutters the same colour as your seating and have the porch the same colour as the siding. This way, the shutters and porch decorations like seating and window boxes can really strike the eyes of those viewing your home, while the actual porch colour can neutralize it all. 

Some other shutter ideas include painting your shutters a turquoise against a white house, giving it a beach home vibe. You could also paint the shutters around the porch the same colour as the other features on the porch and paint the upstairs shutters a different, more neutral colour. 

Fill Out Your Flowerbed

15 Ways to Decorate Your Front Porch with Plants | Proven Winners

This one takes a bit more time, energy and continual effort but pays off in the long run. Adding bulk to your flowerbed with colours that match your home shows that every feature of your home was thoughtfully designed. You’ll also want to vary the size and height of varying flowers to create different textures. Try adding in some flower pots to your garden for additional flair.

Find Porch Railings that Match Your Style 

Porch railings are what people first see when they look at your home, meaning they play a big role in increasing curb appeal. If they are starting to chip and deteriorate, it may be time to freshen it up. 

Let your personal style shine through your porch’s railings by considering a variety of unique aesthetics. For example, cable railing gives off a clean, modernist vibe while geometric-shaped railing will come off as playful.

Screened-In Porch

Screened-In Porch Ideas - This Old House


Not only is this option good for staying sheltered from the bugs but also stylish too. Not only can you use a screen but many people use stylish curtains to keep their porch looking fresh. This allows the porch to feel like an extended room from the home while also being a calming and relaxing space when you need to get away. 

A silver screen will reflect the sun and make the outdoor area even brighter, allowing tons of natural light to pour through. You can get fibreglass screening which doesn’t rust or rip easily compared to aluminum screens. 

Be Bold with Your Front Door

Renovate the entrance of your home by repainting the front door a fresh colour. You want to make sure to pick a colour that stands out and one that is bold but also coordinated with the other accents of your home. If you’re nervous about using a flashy colour, try a more neutral blue or green. Paint is often cheap and simple to do, making it a great choice for improvement and experimentation if you are on a limited budget. 

Add an Outdoor Rug 

An outdoor rug has many practical benefits as it traps dirt from entering your home, is warmer for your guest’s feet than the deck, and can be used for safety if the deck is wet. Another big component of the outdoor rug is the style. Try to look for patterns in the outdoor furniture, maybe on the pillows, and match that to the outdoor rug to tie everything in. You can also overlap two rugs with a patterned rug and a neutral one. This makes the space look bigger than just the size of one rug and creates a stylish two-toned essence. 

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What Is the Difference Between Mortgage Default Insurance and Life Insurance?

Purchasing a home comes with plenty of ongoing financial commitments, from property taxes to seasonal upkeep. Home insurance is an expense most homeowners are familiar with – and when you’ve made the biggest financial investment of your lifetime, it’s vital to protect it, your belongings, and your liability. However, a cost often overlooked by buyers – and especially first-timers – is the need to insure your mortgage in addition to your physical real estate.

Mortgage insurance tends to be a confusing topic for Canadian home buyers as there are three main types they should be aware of: mortgage default insurance, mortgage life insurance, and traditional life insurance.

Here’s how these mortgage insurance types differ, and whether they may be the best fit for your home purchase.

Mortgage Default Insurance (a.k.a. CMHC Insurance)

Mortgage default insurance is mandatory coverage for buyers who pay less than 20% down on their home purchase. The beneficiary is your mortgage provider – should you become unable to cover your payments and default on your mortgage loan, the lender won’t be on the hook for the financial loss.

Why do I need mortgage default insurance?

If you’re paid less than 20% down on your home, you are classified as a higher-risk mortgage borrower (also referred to as a high-ratio or non-conventional borrower). Because you have less equity in your home, and are likely taking on a larger loan to afford your purchase, you pose a greater financial risk to your mortgage lender. As a result, the government requires you to take out this additional coverage and essentially pay for your own risk.

There are also limitations on what type of properties can be insured against mortgage default in Canada, meaning they cannot be purchased with less than a 20% down payment. They include:

  • Homes priced over $1 million
  • Rental properties
  • Mortgages with an amortization over 25 years

Canadians may also have only one high-ratio mortgage at a time; if you currently have one, you cannot purchase a second property and pay less than 20% down.

Where do I get mortgage default insurance?

Mortgage default insurance will be applied for on your behalf by your lender from one of three providers. The most common is the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This is a taxpayer-backed Crown Corporation that also acts as the national regulator for mortgage insurance and premium pricing. In fact, the CMHC is so synonymous with mortgage default coverage that it’s often unilaterally referred to as “CMHC insurance”.

However, the CMHC only covers roughly 50% of high-ratio mortgages in Canada – the other half are covered by two private insurers, Genworth Financial and Canada Guaranty. While these insurers operate autonomously, they almost always follow the same pricing and criteria set by the CMHC.

Related Read: CMHC Mortgage Insurance Hikes to Come

How much does mortgage default insurance cost?

The premiums for this coverage are calculated based on the size of your down payment, as per below:

Loan-to-Value Premium on Total Loan
Up to and including 65% 0.60%
Up to and including 75% 1.70%
Up to and including 80% 2.40%
Up to and including 85% 2.80%
Up to and including 90% 3.10%
Up to and including 95% 4.00%
90.01% to 95% —


Non-Traditional Down Payment**

4.50%

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

For example, if you are making the minimum 5% down payment on a $500,000 home ($25,000), you will be charged 4% on the remaining mortgage balance of $475,000 in mortgage default premiums. That’s an extra $19,000 you’ll need to pay over the course of your mortgage.

However, this premium will be rolled automatically into your mortgage payments, and paid according to your selected payment schedule (whether monthly, bi-weekly, or accelerated). In the above example, your mortgage default coverage will cost $63.33 per month.

It’s important to factor this additional cost into your monthly affordability when determining how much of a mortgage you can carry. It will also be considered by your lender during the mortgage qualifying process, along with your income and other existing debt obligations.

Related Read: 5 Must-Know Tips to Pay Less On Your Mortgage

Mortgage Life Insurance

Unlike mortgage default insurance, mortgage life insurance is an optional product – though it’s highly likely your lender will urge you to consider it. This is coverage that will pay the remaining balance of your mortgage in the case of untimely death for your or your partner (critical illness and accident coverage can sometimes also be added to this coverage). It sounds like a great idea, but there are some key factors to be aware of.

  • With mortgage life insurance, the benefactor is the bank. This means that the death benefit will only be used to cover the outstanding mortgage payments, and your loved ones won’t be entitled to receive any of it directly;
  • The death benefit cannot be used to supplement your loved one’s incomes, or cover any of your end of life costs;
  • The amount of coverage you’re entitled to will also decrease over time, as the amount left on your mortgage shrinks.

Traditional Life Insurance

Many homeowners instead opt for a traditional life insurance policy to cover their mortgage, as it offers greater financial flexibility. First, there are a number of life insurance products to choose from, based on your age, health and financial situation – for example, you could choose to take out a 25-year-term policy for the length of your mortgage, and opt to convert it to a permanent life policy with a cash value after.

With a traditional policy, the death benefit also goes directly to the beneficiary of your choice, meaning your loved ones can use it to pay off the mortgage, supplement their standard of living, and even save for retirement. It’s an option that offers greater control and peace of mind.

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Are you considering buying a fixer-upper? While it can be a great way to save money and get a home that suits your unique tastes and needs, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line. Here are some things to keep in mind:


1. Understand the Cost

Buying a fixer-upper can be an affordable alternative, however, it’s important to understand the potential true cost of the project before you start. To ensure that you’re aware of the necessary repairs and their associated costs, get a thorough inspection of the property. Make sure to check the quality of the foundation, roof, electrical and plumbing systems. Additionally, it’s crucial to consider the expenses for permits, materials, and labour in your final budget.

2. Know Your Limits

While DIY projects are fun and rewarding, fixer-uppers often require extensive work and time. If you’re not handy with a hammer or don’t have experience with major renovations, you may want to think twice before taking on the challenge of a fixer-upper. Hiring professionals to do the work can be expensive, but it may be necessary if you want the job done right.

3. Consider the Time Frame

Transforming a fixer-upper into your dream home can be time-consuming. If you’re on a tight schedule or have other commitments demanding your attention, a fixer-upper may not be your best choice. Make sure you have a realistic idea of how long the project will take and whether or not you have the time and energy to see it through.

4. Factor in Resale Value

If you plan to invest in a fixer-upper, ensure that it doesn’t become a financial burden by costing more than its actual value. It is possible to strike a good deal on the property, however, make sure that any renovations made will increase the property’s value in the long run. Research the market and talk to real estate professionals to get a sense of what buyers are looking for in your area and what features can help make the property stand out.

5. Have a Plan

Finally, it’s important to have a plan before you start a fixer-upper project. Without a clear plan and budget, your fixer-upper is at risk of becoming a money pit. Know what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there. Create a budget, timeline, and list of priorities to keep you on track. With a solid plan in place, you’ll be better equipped to handle any unexpected hurdles or delays.


Fixer upper can be a great way to get into your first home. With the support of an experienced Real Estate Team you can find the real gem ready for your new vision. Give us a call. 

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Carbon Monoxide Safety

What is carbon monoxide (CO)?

Natural gas is safe and reliable. But if any fuel-burning equipment isn’t working properly, including your furnace, water heater or fireplace (or a blocked vent or chimney), it can release CO, a poisonous gas that can be deadly.

CO is often called the ‘silent killer’ because you can't see or smell it. Read the tips below to learn how to keep you and your loved ones safe. Then watch the short, interactive video (right) to test your CO safety smarts.


3 steps to stay safe

Protect your home with these simple actions.


1. Inspection and maintenance

Have all fuel-burning appliances inspected by a TSSA-registered contractor each year.

Remember: Never use outdoor fuel-burning equipment (generators, patio heaters, barbecues) inside your home or garage.


2. Install carbon monoxide alarms

It’s the law! Install a CO alarm near all sleeping areas. For added protection, install a CO alarm on each level of your home.

  • Test your CO alarms monthly.
  • Change batteries twice a year.
  • Check the expiration date.


3. Clear outdoor vents

Check that exhaust vents from all natural gas appliances are not blocked. Have a chimney checkup each year.

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Common Factors that Can Risk Devaluing Your Home

 
 

Understanding the factors that can risk devaluing your home and taking them into consideration can put you head and shoulders above the competition. While many of these factors are out of your control, there are some that aren’t.

5 external factors that affect home value

Prominent Infrastructure

Close proximity to power lines and power plants, commuter rails, highways, and other infrastructure could devalue your home significantly as a result of personal preference or safety and noise concerns.

One Word: Location

Many buyers are looking for a home near amenities, such as grocery stores, banks, restaurants and entertainment. Being close to good schools is also attractive to young families.

Neighbourhood Eyesores

We’ve all seen them. That one house that sticks out like a sore thumb on a tree-lined street of pristine homes: the overgrown grass, old boats, kids toys strewn all over the yard.  Not only are these things hard on the eyes, they also have a negative impact on the value of your house.

Neighbourhood Crime

Now, unless you’re going to put on a cape or join the Neighbourhood Watch, you have absolutely no effect on the crime rate in your community. The crime rate, however, does have a significant effect on your home’s value.

Splish Splash

The pool where you spent weekends relaxing in the sun with your feet up may be filled with memories for you and your family and friends, but some home buyers may dismiss a home that comes with a pool. The extra expenses and home maintenance that come along with owning one may be less attractive to buyers currently in the market.

Now, let’s talk about the things you can do to avoid losing out on big bucks!

Butt out!

It’s no secret that cigarette smoke is detrimental to your health and those around you, but did you know that smoking indoors can affect the value of your home as well? The odour, along with the yellow stain it leaves on walls and fixtures, is enough to devalue your home by 29%.

Think you spent a lot of money buying cigarettes? Consider this: On a $900,000 home, you risk losing $261,000. If you have always had trouble quitting smoking, at the very least take it outside.

Reno Disaster

Find a quality contractor with a proven track record for excellent work and don’t hire someone just because they can do it cheaper. Cheap work usually means cutting corners, which can actually be more expensive in the long-run if you need to re-hire another contractor to fix past work.

Lackluster Curb Appeal

The first impression of your home is made the second a potential home buyer drives up to it. Making a good impression can be as simple as making sure your lawn is freshly cut, your shutters and garage doors have a fresh coat of paint and your gardens are weeded and tended to.

Retro Rooms

Outdated kitchens and bathrooms can decrease the value of your home significantly. You don’t need to call in a renovation company to completely remodel the place, but adding a few modern updates can be a huge value-add. Fresh paint, new fixtures, and a new countertop may be all you need.

Furry Friends

A strong pet odour, dog and cat hair, or scratched floors will decrease home value. A solid cleaning and repair of any pet-associated damages can ensure this doesn’t happen. You may also want to consider having your pet stay with a loved one while you are trying to sell.

Personal Taste

While you may love your Parisian-inspired motif, not everyone does. While most design elements are removable, home buyers have a hard time visualizing their décor in an already decked out space. Consider simplifying your staging approach by using a minimalistic approach. A fresh (neutral!) coat of paint and some quality flooring will make all the difference.

Keeping these factors in mind, you can take steps to ensure higher value in your home. Understanding buyer’s wants and needs will also help you check all the boxes on their wish lists. Want to know more about what they’re looking for? Take a look at the top features home buyers want.

Published: August 18, 2014
Last Updated: December 13, 2022

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Saving money on your home’s utility bills: How tech can help

Forget the price of buying a home in this province; living in one can cost an arm and a leg!

Oh, and I’m not even referring to rising property taxes, insurance premiums, and how much inflation and shrinkflation sets you back to feed a family every week.

What you’re paying for utilities in Ontario can put a serious drain on your pocket.

Most Ontarians are understandably reluctant to rip open their electricity, gas and water bills each month.

You likely know about running your dishwasher and washing machine during off-peak hours whenever possible, upgrading to energy-efficient furnaces and air-conditioners (and taking advantage of rebates to offset the costs), and maybe even investing in solar to mitigate your reliance on the grid.

Off-the-shelf tech gadgets can also help make a difference to your pocket.

Here are a few hi- and low-tech moves to get you saving money on your home bills:

Smart LED lights often consume a lot less power than incandescent and florescent light bulbs, and can be scheduled to turn on and off and be controlled via app or voice.
 

Smart lighting works with your schedule

If you haven’t done so already, replace all your incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with LED lights, as they sip, rather than gulp, electricity.

Oh sure, they cost more, but you’ll save money in the long run. A 60-watt equivalent, for instance, might only be only 7.5 watts for comparable lumens with an LED light, and they can last considerably longer, which saves you even more.

There are also Wi-Fi-enabled Smart LED bulbs, which might save you even more, as you can set schedules and timers, remotely access your lights (such as turning lights off via an app), or, when coupled with room sensors, have the lights go off automatically when someone leaves the room.

Smart LEDs also let you use your voice to control them (via Amazon Alexa or Google). For as little as $70 apiece, smart speakers can be programmed with a “macro” command (sometimes referred to as a “routine”) to perform a few actions with one spoken phrase, such as “good night.” The simple command can lock your front door, set your alarm, turn off your lights, and lower your thermostat by a couple of degrees.

Smart thermostats give you greater control, and can also learn your schedule to optimize settings, saving you on your heating and cooling bills.

Wi-Fi thermostats optimize temperature automatically

Next-generation thermostats let you conveniently adjust heating and cooling settings on a phone, tablet or laptop, but they can also learn your schedule and optimize the temperature in your home automatically.

Starting at $179, a Google Nest thermostat can turn itself down when you leave the house, so you don’t waste energy on an empty home. A feature called Savings Finder suggests more ways to save by tweaking your schedule.

The upgraded Google Nest Learning Thermostat ($329) includes HVAC monitoring, which helps you identify potential issues with certain heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. If a potential issue is detected, an alert is sent by email or via the Google Home app. (Radiant systems, which have radiator or in-floor heating, are not supported.)

Ecobee, the Toronto-based company with the first smart thermostat on the market (back in 2007), is a major player in this space. Its smart thermostats, starting at $199 (ecobee3 lite), save you up to 26 per cent on your annual heating and cooling bill, the company says, and, so, the device pays for itself, over time.

Along with easily adjusting temperature and comfort settings from an app, a smart speaker, or via the thermostat’s 3.5-inch touchscreen, ecobee3 lite can be programmed to fit your schedule, or use wireless synced optional sensors for more precise (room-by-room) control.

You can monitor energy use in real-time, for a more efficient home.

Energy monitors keep you in the picture

The expression has it all wrong: ignorance is not bliss; information is.

After connecting it to the electrical panel, the Square D Wiser Energy Home Monitoring System from Schneider Electric (from $399) gives homeowners useful insights into activity and energy use … in real time.

Using the compatible Sense app (for iOS, Android), you can see a colour-coded view of your home’s energy use, create custom notifications (such as when devices are on or off), analyze trends, and set goals.

Even when you’re not at home, you can be alerted to leaving, say, the curling iron on in your home to assuage that fear when you go on vacation.

(There’s even a solar version of this kit.)

Plug an inexpensive smart plug into your wall's AC outlet, and then connect anything electric . . . now it can be controlled by an app, your voice, with timers and schedules.

Smart plugs put kibosh on ‘vampire’ power-suckers

You might have heard the term “vampire power,” which refers to plugged-in electronics that, while turned off, still “suck” electricity, and therefore cost you money.

Large appliances are often the culprits, but there are others, too, like televisions, sound systems, and video game consoles.

Instead, inexpensive smart plugs and power strips can give you greater control over all your devices.

For example, the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug (2-pack for $24) can switch appliances on and off with a tap on the Kasa app, plus you can set schedules and timers, or you can use your voice to ask your smart speaker to do it.

For example, set your dishwasher to run only during off-peak hours to save money on electricity costs. (Check your utility company’s rates based on on-, off- and mid-peak times, which often changes during the year.)

 

Similarly, a smart power strip lets you individually control outlets.

Some smart power strips can also cut off electricity to a couple of outlets — this is ideal for when you’re going on vacation — while other outlets on the power bar maintain the connection to the power source when turned off. For example, you don’t need power to your TV, but you’ll likely want your PVR running in the background to archive your favourite shows for you.

And, from the “duh” department, you need some appliances, such as fridges and chest freezers, to be plugged in all the time, but look for Energy Star-certified products. Appliances and consumer electronics branded with the cyan-and-white Energy Star logo have been tested and verified to be more energy efficient. You should see that familiar sticker on the box and product, itself. (When in doubt, ask a salesperson, or write to the manufacturer on their website.)

Water damage is one of the most common insurance claims. You can save money with a water sensor that can detect an issue and notify you immediately, to minimize damage.

Use these to prevent water damage

Water shut-off valves, such as Flo by Moen ($699), connect to your home’s water supply, and can detect flow rate, temperature and pressure throughout the entire home. It can detect an issue like a frozen or burst pipe, or if a child left a bathroom faucet running, and can turn it off for you and notify you via the app.

There are no monthly fees, and home insurance providers may give you a discount of you have it installed, says Moen.

If you don’t have the budget, another solution is the mydlink Whole Home Smart Wi-Fi Water Leak Sensor Starter Kit ($89), which includes two sensors in the box (expandable up to 16) to place around a water heater, washing machine, sump pump, or any spot there could be a potential water leak.

You’ll be immediately notified if a leak is detected, thanks to a loud 100-decibel alarm and flashing lights. A Google smart speaker can announce an issue, too.

If you’re not at home and it detects moisture, you’ll get a notification via an app.


Source: thestar.com/realestate/2023

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The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS®, and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are member’s of CREA. The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by CREA and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.