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. 


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. 


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. 


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.


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. 


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. 


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.”


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. 


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**


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.



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. 


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.


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


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.



Curious how to get the kitchen of your dreams within a narrow space? Here’s the skinny: some careful planning, judicious use of storage and small renovations can give a galley kitchen quite a pop.

The long and narrow galley kitchen traces back to tiny spaces set aside for a single cook to feed the onboard crews of waterborne vessels, both small and large. This style was then passed on to long-distance trains of the early 20th century, where a galley arrangement maximized customer seating while retaining a tight and efficient space for food prep—as long as kitchen workers were few and coordinated. 

In a residential home, the galley kitchen often serves as a space saver. Kitchens were often isolated, out-of-the-way functional places prior to the Great Depression. The galley kitchens of the day were dark with limited amenities and could be rooms away from the dining area. 

 Galley Kitchen Design IdeasPhoto by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Today, galley kitchens may be inherited or they may be designed as a preference by serious foodies, seeking a single-function dedicated meal preparation destination. In either case, how you use your kitchen for storage, workflow, and convenience makes the difference between improvised and optimized. Here are some key points to consider to make the most of your galley space.

Galley Kitchen

Plan the flow

Design builds around the kitchen triangle, an aesthetic form and practical function arising from placement of three key kitchen workplaces: the fridge (storage), sink (preparation), and stove (cooking). 

Key to the concept is these three elements are close (but not too close) with countertop space between each workplace. The parallel counters of a double-walled galley split the trio between them. The sink might be centralized on one side with the fridge and stove at either end of the other. Another layout may put the stove on its own. 

The work triangle forms logical divisions of labour in any kitchen. As you optimize a galley kitchen, keep the triangle in mind to help meet your needs and priorities. 

Build around your style

A baker needs room to work and roll out dough before popping things in the oven. Flour, yeast, sugar, measuring cups, and bakeware all make sense near this counter for easy access.

When entrees are top of the menu, roasting pans and spices may be more practical at hand, while baking supplies are relegated to the pantry. Optimize space by putting the most-used items, consumables or tools, near their most-used places. The less you must move to perform the most common tasks, the bigger your galley kitchen feels. 

Consider both workflow and your cooking style before you plan a makeover for your galley, whether you do the renovation yourself or hire a contractor.

Tips and tricks for a galley kitchen

Tips and tricks for a galley kitchen

Using workflow and cooking style as your framework, you can start with the practical elements of optimizing the kitchen. 

Treat your counter space as sacred

Think through the reasons for all items that take up permanent residence on your countertop. Relocate everything possible to another location. Your last cleaning step after every kitchen session should return the counter to its pristine and barren condition, inviting your next meal prep. 

Organizing Kitchen spacePhoto by Photoholgic on Unsplash

Use the walls

Even salt and pepper shakers can steal counter space, but they’re no further away in a rack on the wall above your counter. Shelves, spice racks, and utensil holders keep your regular tools at hand while still being out of the way of the pizza dough you’re rolling. 

Compartments with storage in the kitchen

Compartments within storage

Think of this as an expansion of the cutlery organizer or spice rack idea. Use baskets, bins, and organizers in every drawer and cupboard to create dedicated spaces. Oils and vinegars, baking powders and sodas, sugars and sweeteners—there are endless groupings that can help you define clear locations for virtually anything. 

Compact Kitchen appliance

Compact appliances

While it’s nice to own and work with full-size mixers and food processors, be honest about your needs. If you have a compact kitchen, a mega appliance steals proportionately more of your countertop. For instance, immersion blenders are drawer-friendly and even more versatile than countertop versions. 

 Built-in Kitchen appliances

Build it in

If it’s possible in your space, recess appliances like microwaves, convection ovens, and coffee makers into the wall. Even shallow shelves sunken between wall studs can dramatically increase your at-hand capacities. 

Modern Kitchen Lighting

Add light

You won’t want to work in dark corners, so eliminate them. There have never been more options for versatile task lighting. Add LED lights that fit your needs (and budget) to brighten under-used spaces. You can add passive light, too, by choosing light colours for walls, cabinets, and flooring. However, don’t be afraid to add splashes of darker hues. They can give a sense of depth that expands your perceived space. 

Remember, there’s no reason your galley kitchen needs to represent compromise. Using these tips can help make the space you have into the type of kitchen you’ve always wanted. 

You may also be interested in reading…


When preparing your home for the market, it’s great to know there are some relatively inexpensive improvements that can make a big impact with buyers.

5_thrifty_fix-ups_to_sell_your_homeA few well-placed pieces of décor and a clutter-free home are simple things you can do on a budget to bump up interest in your home. Once the fundamentals of a well-maintained home are taken care of, these easy initiatives can seal the deal.

  1. Declutter your kitchen. Counter space is extremely important for buyers. Be sure to store kitchen items off the counters. Purchase storage baskets in several different sizes to help you clear the decks in a hurry and minimise clutter.

  2. Brighten up storage spaces. Closets and cupboard space are important selling features. You can make the most of what you have by purging unused items and painting a light colour inside cupboards and closets. Adding battery-operated lighting is also an inexpensive way to brighten a dark closet.

  3. Update lighting around the house  While buyers will usually focus on the amount of natural light flooding into your property during a viewing, they’ll also be looking at how your electric lighting is used and how it affects the ambiance of your home.
    Focus on ceiling lights that can be updated with inexpensive newer bright light fixtures. Updating your bathroom vanity light  is also a real winner. Consider replacing any blown bulbs with energy efficient ones. Add lamps or corner lights to rooms that lack natural light

  4. Change your front door. First impressions definitely count with buyers and as the front of your property is the first thing they’ll see, a new front door can really create the wow factor. As well as making a good impression as a design statement, a new front door can also appeal to buyers who are eco-conscious and want a home that is energy efficient. Modern doors are extremely energy efficient, as well as looking great, but even if your budget can’t stretch to a new one, you could add a splash of colour to your existing door if it’s wooden.

  5. Replace interior room doors Quickly and inexpensively brighten hallways and rooms by replacing interior doors and hardware. New white panelled doors and hardware can quickly freshen the home. Look for sales at your local building centre.

  6. Check your flooring. You may be pleasantly surprised by what’s underneath. Even if you don’t like what you see, replacing carpets is one of the most economical improvements you can make when you consider the overall return on your dollar.

  7. Paint. Even high-end interior paints are a bargain when you look at what can be achieved with a fresh new finish. Opt for neutral colours in matte or eggshell finishes to camouflage flaws in walls. Read up on the current trends, too, and use colours that are of the moment, so your property really appeals to design-savvy buyers. Baseboard and door frames will get new life witha white shade of satin, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. 

  8. Tidy up your bathrooms.Along with the kitchen, buyers will place a large amount of their focus on your bathrooms when looking at your property.And while a new bathroom suite might be out of reach both financially and from a time point of view, there are still plenty of DIY tasks you can take on to present your bathrooms in the best possible way.


  1. Replacing any cracked or broken tiles

  2. Refreshing the grouting that has become stained or discoloured

  3. Replacing taps and shower fittings

  4. Adding a storage unit if you have space


Deep reds, bold blues, and neutral earth tones are leading the way for the top paint colours of 2023. See what companies like Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Glidden, Behr, and Pantone have chosen as their colours of the year. 

Refreshing the home is a big part of embracing the new year, and with so many potential changes from flooring to furniture, it’s hard to know where to start. Paint is a quick and easy way to freshen up any space or piece of furniture, and interior designers and paint companies have their predictions on emerging colour trends for 2023. Ranging from earthy reds to warm neutrals, here are the colours the pros say we’ll be painting our homes with and why they work. 

Pantone colour of the yearImage provided by Pantone, credit: Huge

Pantone’s highly anticipated Colour of the Year for 2023 was announced at the beginning of December. PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta is meant to be a “brave and fearless” colour for those who have a “rebellious spirit” and exude optimism and joy. The bold colour lives in the red family, or what Pantone refers to as “The Magentaverse.” 

“PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta descends from the red family, and is inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes belonging to the natural dye family as well as one of the strongest and brightest the world has known,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute. “Rooted in the primordial, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta reconnects us to original matter. Invoking the forces of nature, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta galvanizes our spirit, helping us to build our inner strength.”

Though this isn’t a paint colour you can run to the store to purchase—Pantone’s Colour of the Year isn’t specifically a paint, just a colour—it serves as inspiration of what 2023 can bring. Pantone offers a set of designer tools to help you use their colours in your interior design projects.

 Raspberry Blush - 2023 colour trends by Benjamin MooreImage provided by Benjamin Moore Canada

Raspberry Blush by Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore’s 2022 colour of the year, October Mist, was an earthy green that resembled the stem of a flower. For 2023, their colour resembles the petals of a rose. Raspberry Blush is a vibrant red-orange that delivers bold personality. It’s charismatic without being loud, much like the electro-funk duo the paint company partnered with to commemorate this year’s selection. The Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo has released a new song titled Raspberry Blush that reminisces about the positivity and enjoyment of colour and music together. Use this coral tinged pink on an accent wall, arch, or bring some colour to your powder or dining room.

You could also consider Terra Rosa by Dunn-Edwards if you’re into the soft clay colour.

Blank Canvas - Colour of the year 2023Photo via Behr Media Library

Blank Canvas by Behr Paint Company

Sticking to more of a neutral hue, Behr has named Blank Canvas its 2023 Colour of the Year. A stark contrast to some of the other more vibrant colours, this creamy shade of white ushers in a clean and inviting blank slate. With this choice, Behr leans into a relaxing, calming colour that can offer endless décor possibilities. Blank Canvas can be paired with bold blues, browns, and greens. Use it in the bedroom to promote tranquillity or to finish off trim and moulding.

“Blank Canvas effortlessly offers a clean and inviting blank slate that allows individuality and creativity to flow freely,” Erika Woelfel, Vice-President of Color and Creative Services at Behr Paint Company, said in a press release. “This white easily harmonizes with a wide range of hues, including neutrals, earth tones and pastels for a charming and cozy appeal. Blank Canvas also pairs beautifully with black for a dramatic impact, and with bright accents like green or cobalt blue to instantly lift your mood.”

Redend Point by Sherwin-WilliamsImage provided by Sherwin-Williams

Redend Point by Sherwin-Williams

The Sherwin-Williams paint company is evoking a sense of connection, warmth, and softness with its pick for the year. Whether used in the living room or in the kitchen, the colour is the ideal choice to bring a sense of community and nature into your space. The colour also pairs well with earthy neutrals like dark beiges and greys.

“Redend Point was inspired by the idea of finding beauty beyond ourselves,” says Sue Wadden, Director of Colour Marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “Build on its earthiness by utilizing the hue alongside natural-looking textiles and wood accents or create a desert oasis by layering terracotta shades and clay materials.”

Colour of the year - Vining Ivy by GliddenImage provided by GLIDDEN Paint

Vining Ivy by Glidden 

Sticking with the earth tone colour theme of 2023, Glidden’s colour of the year is Vining Ivy. A mixture of blue and green, this in-between jewel-toned colour can be used in almost any space. The company chose a versatile colour so people don’t have to think so much about what works with their home.. The colour can be used as an accent to give a pop to your space or paired with soft pastels, light neutrals, or deep browns and blues.

“Consumers are seeking to simplify… as the past two years have shed a new light on the importance of serenity and little moments,” said Ashley McCollum, Glidden colour expert. “Vining Ivy embodies this vibe perfectly. Its versatility takes the guesswork out of design, leaving consumers with more time to indulge in the things that matter most to them.”

McCollum suggested using this colour on kitchen cabinets, as an accent wall, or in a smaller room to contrast a neutral palette.

Soothing colours of 2023

This year we are seeing a movement towards clays, stones, and earth hues inspired by nature. Colours that bring calm, zen, and tranquillity are leading the way and people are being urged to paint their home in a way that brings comfort to them. These colours add a touch of calmness, optimism and hope in what’s ahead. So before you tackle your new painting project, consider whether these trending colours help showcase or inspire the feelings you’re chasing. 


5 Tips to Prepare Your Home Before You Head on Vacation

1. Make sure all of your windows and doors are locked securely.

You want to protect your real estate investment while away. Consider adding an extra layer of protection by installing window or sliding door security bars. 

2. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in working order.

Monitors are vital for the safety of your family and home, especially if you will be away for an extended period. It’s also a good idea to change the batteries on any alarms or motion detectors as a precautionary measure before your trip to ensure sensors will still function while you’re away. 

3. Unplug all unnecessary electronics while you’re vacationing to help save energy and protect your appliances in case of power surges or outages.

For example, computers and televisions can be unplugged before you go.

4. Turn off your main water supply.

Check for shut-off valves in the basement near the water meter. Plumbing failure happens, and if it happens while you’re on vacation, you could come home to a flooded house and damaged furniture, electronics, and more. 

5. Ask a trusted neighbour or friend to watch your property while you’re gone.

If you trust your neighbour with a key, consider leaving them a spare just in case you need them to stop by and check on the home while you’re away. Knowing someone is available can help you rest easy, knowing your vacation home is safe and secure.


As interest rates trend up and affordability stays low, making an individual, single income purchase can be a stretch. But did you know that there’s another option that means you could get into the market sooner without waiting to put a ring on it?

Co-buying simply means to purchase a property with a person who is not your spouse. This can be as simple as purchasing a home with a good friend, with whom you will share the space as a primary residence. Or, for savvy investors it can mean purchasing a rental property, generating cash flow and reaping the financial benefits of appreciation.

There are two types of joint ownership: joint tenancy, and tenants-in-common. A joint tenancy agreement is the most common when purchasing a home with a partner or spouse for a few reasons; namely that both owners hold full ownership rights and each has an equal and undivided right to keep or sell the property.

In a tenants-in-common ownership, on the other hand, the share of ownership depends on what each partner contributes to the purchase and what is mutually agreed upon. The value of each owner’s share will vary depending on income, share of down payment, or amount of credit qualification they bring to the deal. It will also determine what share of the proceeds go to each owner at the time of sale. This is why it is incredibly important to have a formal agreement between buyers drafted before purchase outlining each owner’s contributions, responsibilities of ownership, exit strategies and future plans.--

A scene from last year’s physically distanced Artists for Peace and Justice gala last September in Natasha Koifman’s backyard, with Sting making a virtual appearance. LIFE Do I go in for a hug? What about bringing a plus one? A refresher on how to be a go

COURTESY OF THE TORONTO STAR - After the year and a half that was, it’s understandable that you might be feeling a bit rusty when it comes to socializing in person.

As a refresher, there are some typical protocols to try to follow when you’ve been invited to a friend’s gathering or a family event: never show up empty-handed, arrive within 15 minutes of the invite time and don’t overstay your welcome.

The pandemic changed everything but, as lockdowns lift and invites flow, experts say we still have to be mindful guests.


“Now that we’re done wiping down groceries and other items, it’s OK to bring a hostess gift again,” says Toronto etiquette consultant Lisa Orr. She says if you ask your host if you can bring something and they say no, you should still bring a little something anyway.

“The host gift is a pre-emptive thank you in recognition of the effort it takes to have an event or get-together, and for being included,” Orr said. Your gift doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be thoughtful. She suggests flowers, candles, chocolates, gourmet pantry items or wine, all of which are simple and pandemic-friendly.


If you’ve been invited somewhere last minute and you don’t have anything on hand, send a little something after the fact, and if you’re invited with a guest make sure you’re clear the gift is from both of you.

Natasha Koifman, president of NKPR, will host client events and brand launches in her own backyard this summer. She is also planning her annual Artists for Peace and Justice gala on Sept. 11, in the same location.


“You should never show up with a surprise guest unless your host knows about it, especially during a pandemic,” says Koifman. You may think it’s no big deal, especially if you know other guests are bringing plus ones, but it’s not your party and having another person attend may not be within your host’s or their guests’ comfort level.

Koifman says guests should be aware of the new rules of engagement. “Transparency is important here. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone or telling them that you’re double vaccinated. It creates a sense of confidence and changes the style of engagement between two people.”

If someone is double vaxxed versus not at all, the way to engage will vary. “Either way, you can show warmth and appreciation based on your tone versus the physical interaction.”

When it comes to physically greeting your host or other guests, Parambir Keila, an ER doctor at Quinte Health Care in Belleville, Ont., says to always ask for consent before physically engaging with others. “The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S.) believes it is safe for those who are double vaccinated to hug,” Keila said. “I haven’t seen any specific hugging guidelines from (Premier Doug) Ford, but I’d love to pick his brain on it.”

Keila’s hugging tip? “Direct your face away from the other person and a French-like double kiss is still a no no.”

If you need to go inside to use the washroom, consider masking up. “If you may encounter someone who is not part of your gathering, you must wear a mask,” Keila said. “If it’s the same small group indoors and out, going maskless to the bathroom should be safe.” He also suggests asking the host if they want you to mask inside if you’re helping them clean up.

Orr also warns guests to let their hosts play host and to not take over. For more than a year now, we’ve gotten used to running the show. We pick the food, the movie, the music during our leisure time but, as a guest, you’re expected to participate in a social gathering the way the host has envisioned without giving your two cents.

For example, if your host has set the mood with a playlist, do not ask to play your own music, ever. “I don’t care if you just wrote the most incredible song or if it’s your very favourite party tune, this is a no go,” Orr said.

It’s likely your host has selected songs the same way they selected the menu, the dress code and the decor. “Asking them to go a different way, as innocent as it may seem, is not polite or appropriate and, depending on how seriously your host takes their music, could be downright offensive,” Orr said.

Koifman says you should be present and socialize with others in attendance, even if you’re feeling a bit awkward since you haven’t been out in ages. “It’s important to interact with all guests (pending comfort levels and regulations), not just one or two,” she said.

But avoid talking about COVID the whole time as well as your experiences during it. “Suffice it to say that the world is in an intense time politically and socially right now, and people are on edge,” Orr said.


With that in mind, she suggests being thoughtful about selecting conversation topics. “It’s not to say that you should censor yourself, but for a fun, social gathering you should let your host set the tone, listen to find common ground if you don’t agree and, if you really don’t agree, finish your cocktail, say your thanks and skedaddle early, and maybe send regrets next time,” Orr said.

Both Koifman and Orr say the long-standing rule of not overstaying your welcome still stands, even though we’re all hungry for connection.

“If you want to get invited to another event or gathering, never overstay your welcome. You’ll always be remembered as that person. Keep your visits short and sweet,” Koifman said.

If the get-together doesn’t have a specific end time, stay for two to three hours. “If it’s past that time, use your discretion and read the room.” Koifman said.

The opposite is true too: don’t leave too early, eat and run, or order your Uber before saying proper goodbyes to the host(s) and fellow attendees. If you’re unsure if it’s too early to leave, Koifman once again suggests reading the situation. “As people are starting to leave, it’s probably time for you to leave as well.” Should the host want you to stay longer to have one-on-one time once other guests leave, leave them to invite you for an extended stay and never assume, Koifman added.

When leaving, thanking the host for having you and follow up via text or email after the gathering with a personalized note to let them know you appreciated being included. “I’ll always follow up within 24 hours of attending. In your note to the host, highlight something that you particularly enjoyed about the event and show your appreciation for being invited,” Koifman said.


Courtesy of CTV news - read the full article here

OTTAWA -- After months in a red-hot real estate market, which has seen bidding wars and homes purchased for hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking, there are signs the market in Ottawa is normalizing.

“June’s resale market performed similar to a typical (pre-pandemic) June, with unit sales on par with the five-year average and a lower volume of activity compared to May, particularly in the last two weeks of the month,” said Debra Wright, president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB).

Wright said a tapering off this time of year is common, as families shift their focus over the summer, spending more time away and outdoors — even amid a pandemic.


“It will be interesting to watch the market over the summer to see if this normalization of the real estate sales' ebb and flow is indeed the case moving forward. Last year, summer resales skyrocketed due to pent-up demand when the first lockdown ended,” said Wright.

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.