Top 10 House Hunting Tips

When looking for a place to call home, it’s easy to get sidetracked by thinking with your heart rather than your head. Although it takes less than seven seconds to make a first impression, a quick decision could lead to an unavoidable case of buyer’s remorse. In order to avoid this, we have listed a checklist for the top ten house hunting tips you need to know before you attend a viewing.


There are many things that can be changed, upgraded, or improved after you have purchased a home, but the location isn’t one of them. You need to think about the proximity to work, schools, and other attractions you frequently visit and also research any new developments or upcoming changes to the area in the future.


While air fresheners and open windows can clear out certain scents, it’s important to pay attention in order to sniff out other potential issues. For example, if you notice a damp smell, it could mean the home has poor ventilation or issues with mold.

Even Floors

Noticing a slanted floor is one of the major hints that there could be a large structural issue with the home. If you do notice something, you can ask your Agent to inquire with the owners or make note of it for the home inspection if you decide to go that far in the purchase process.


Natural lighting is something that is often overlooked in your house hunt, especially if you are viewing a home at night, or in the middle of winter. Think about how important natural lighting is to you, and plan your viewing times around when the lighting will be optimal.

Shape & Size of Rooms

It is important to take a good look at the layout to make sure not only you but also your furniture can fit comfortably in the space.


Is there enough space for everyone in your household to park or will this become an added expense? Additionally, if there is parking available, will your vehicle fit?


If there is laundry in the home, you need to make sure it is in an accessible location. If there is no laundry, is it in a convenient location you can easily get to with or without a car?

Storage Space

Depending on how creative you can get with your storage, you will want to make sure that there is enough room to store your belongings without things becoming cluttered or unlivable.

It looks perfect, but are you missing something?

Professional staging can sometimes fool buyers into thinking a property is perfect while diverting their eyes away from potential issues. Don’t let the professional décor and scent of fresh baked cookies take your attention away from the things that matter.

Assess the kitchens and bathrooms

The kitchen and bathroom are two of the most costly rooms in a home. Make sure you pay special attention to these rooms to avoid getting stuck with unwanted repairs or updates after purchasing the home.

While a home inspection will help advise you of any potential issues, it is still a good idea to pay attention to these things in the initial stages of your home search. This will also help ensure you don’t waste money on unnecessary home inspections. Remember to keep a list of everything for each house you view so you don’t forget days, or weeks later!


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New Homeowner Spotlight: Things to do ASAP!

As a new homeowner, this is an exciting time in your life. You’ve just bought a new house and you’re getting ready to move. You spend your time daydreaming about where your furniture is going to go, creating floor plans, and writing out interior design ideas so that you can make your new house a home.

With all the excitement and celebrations typically involved with this milestone, it’s completely normal to focus on the fun things involved in buying a new home. However, it’s essential to take some safety measures and set yourself up for success before you settle into your new digs.

Before Closing

The period between your offer being accepted and approval on financing, and when the deal actually closes and you receive the keys is a busy one. You’re usually allowed a couple of walk-throughs of your soon-to-be home with your real estate agent during this time. (The details of this would be included in your Agreement of Purchase and Sale.) Use these appointments as an opportunity to measure for window coverings and appliances, and assess the home’s condition with fresh eyes. During these walk-throughs, the house will be properly lived-in rather than staged, giving you a slightly different perspective from when you viewed it at the showing or open house.

You’ll also use this time to take care of pre-move tasks. You’ll need to make sure your furniture will fit, order appliances, arrange for movers, set up utilities and Internet, find out how property taxes are paid, and a host of other things. Pro Tip: Staying organized will do wonders for your sanity during this hectic time!

What’s the first thing a new homeowner should do after taking possession?

Once the deal has closed and you have the keys, the home is officially yours. If you have the luxury of time, you might want to do a couple of things before the movers arrive. Now would be the perfect time to have your new home thoroughly cleaned while it is empty. It is also an excellent time to have an exterminator do an inspection and even a preventative spray. Nobody wants to inherit somebody else’s issues!

If you’re in a position where you have extra time before moving in, this is the perfect time to paint! With no furniture or décor in the way, the painting will be easier and faster.

Change the Locks

Changing the locks should be done right away; after all, you have no idea how many people have spare keys. It’s just a smart thing to do.

Update Your Address

This is something you can do before you move in. However, there is always something that gets overlooked. Sign up for mail forwarding at the post office to avoid missing mail. When mail arrives with the forwarding markings (either printed on the envelope or with a yellow sticker), contact the sender and provide your new mailing address. Don’t forget to update subscriptions like subscription boxes or printer ink; you don’t want them going to your previous address.

Change the Batteries in the Smoke Detectors

You’ll have no idea how fresh the smoke detector’s batteries are. Change them right away for peace of mind. After replacing the batteries in both your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, test them to make sure they work.

Change Your HVAC System’s Filter

Anything circulating through your home’s HVAC system gets breathed in again and again. Install a fresh filter and vacuum your home’s cold air returns. This will also reduce allergens, particularly pet dander from the previous occupants. You might even consider having your ducts cleaned to improve your new home’s indoor air quality.

Get Things Checked Out

Unless a home inspection was performed at the time of sale, which is sometimes omitted in a hot market but always recommended, you really have little idea what condition the home is in. Having things like your plumbing, electrical, roof and HVAC systems inspected will give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with and potential expenses on the horizon. Rather than individual tradespeople, you might just spring for your own home inspection to get a full report on your home’s systems. The home inspection report can become your maintenance to-do list over the following months.

Moving into a new home is sometimes chaotic, but always exciting. A new homeowner should always take the time to do it right and learn how the house works. After all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time together.


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5 Reasons Why You Should Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Buying a home for the first time is an exciting experience. While the process can be stressful at times, there are ways to limit unnecessary anxiety, and one of the most significant ways is to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin your house-hunting adventure.

To put it simply, being pre-approved for a mortgage means that a lender says you have qualified to borrow a specific amount of money for the purchase of a home. Pre-approval is based on various factors, and the process involves several different steps.

As the borrower, you can shop around for mortgages and compare options from different lenders. Throughout this process, you will learn the maximum amount of mortgage you qualify for and the estimated mortgage payments on the amount borrowed, while locking in an interest rate for up to 120 days from the date of the pre-approval.

On the lender side of the process, they will look at your financial circumstances including your income-to-debt ratio, credit score, and financial history. The lender uses all these factors to assess your borrowing risk and determine the amount of mortgage, interest rate, and terms you’ll qualify for. It is important to note that the mortgage pre-approval process does not guarantee you will be approved for a mortgage.

5 Reasons to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Begin Your Home Hunt

1. You’ll Have an Idea of How Much Money You Have to Work With 

Buying a home is a significant investment of your money and time. This time investment only increases as competition in the housing market rises. This is precisely why having a mortgage pre-approval is essential before starting your search. By beginning the process with the knowledge of just how much money you can spend, you can keep your search realistic and give your real estate agent an appropriate price range.

Being well prepared with realistic expectations and a clear price range will save you time, eliminating homes that are out of your reach financially. You’ll also be able to give your real estate agent the information they need to find you a home that fits both your desired specifications and your budget.

2. Your Scope of Search Will be Narrowed

Continuing on the point above, knowing how much mortgage you can afford will narrow your search considerably. It will also give you a more realistic idea of what the market has for you. Perhaps the home of your dreams isn’t in the cards just yet based on your pre-approval, but maybe you can afford to buy a home that you can renovate and put back on the market at a higher price in a few years.

Being aware of your buying power before starting your hunt will cross any homes you cannot afford off your list.

3. You Become a More Competitive Buyer

The real estate market in Canada has been known to heat up from time to time, and in some of the larger markets, competitiveness never really dies down. In some areas, you could be competing for the same home with dozens of other potential buyers. When the market is hot, and competitiveness is high, time is of the essence. During the time it would take you to ask a lender if you can afford a home, that home will be snatched up by another buyer who already has their pre-approval in hand.

 4. You Become a More Desirable Buyer

When the market is tight, and there are competing offers on a home, the prospective buyer who makes a firm offer is more likely to win over someone who doesn’t – that’s just a fact of the market.

 5. It May Shorten Your Closing Period 

The closing process on the house starts with securing financing for the home. The process itself can take almost two months from start to finish. By already having your financing pre-approved, you can move on to the next step in the closing process.

As you begin your journey on purchasing either your first or your next home, getting pre-approved for a mortgage has many benefits and should be your first step to making the home buying process smoother. When you’re ready to buy, contact us and work with an experienced, professional real estate team who can help you navigate the market!




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How Will Higher Interest Rates Impact My Mortgage?

How will higher interest rates impact my mortgage? It’s a question more homebuyers and homeowners are asking, in the wake of the Bank of Canada’s recent interest rate hikes. We consider many variables in life before making any big decision, and one of the most important ones to think about when buying a home is the current state of interest rates. While a low interest rate is desirable for a prospective buyer, as it means they have more purchasing power, lower rates may not be all they are cracked up to be.

Interest rates fluctuate. They rise and fall in response to the economy and world events, and can significantly impact the amount you pay for your home over the lifespan of your mortgage.

Typically, mortgage loans are either based on a fixed interest rate or an adjustable/variable interest rate. Simply put, this means that you are either locked in at one specific interest rate for your current mortgage term (often it’s a five-year term), or your interest rate will fluctuate with the market over that same period. The borrower must determine which is the better option, which isn’t always clear cut.

If you lock into a fixed-rate mortgage and the interest rates drop before your renewal, you will not benefit from the lower rate.

Alternatively, if you agree to a variable rate, you must ride the wave, and the amount of interest you pay on your mortgage could be higher (or lower) than expected. You could also find this option more challenging to budget for.

Why Do Interest Rates Fluctuate?

In Canada, the Bank of Canada is the central bank that sets monetary policy, prints money, and sets the Bank’s interest rate. Per the Bank, its principal role is “to promote Canada’s economic and financial welfare,” as defined in the Bank of Canada Act. “At the heart of the Bank’s monetary policy is a commitment to maintain low and relatively stable inflation—in particular, to keep the rate of inflation close to the two-per-cent midpoint of the one- to three-per-cent target range,” according to the Bank’s website.

Interest rates fluctuate because the Central Bank needs to protect and try to stabilize the Canadian economy at all times. Typically, the interest rate is lowered to boost the economy, whereas the interest rate rises when the economy is in solid standing. This impacts borrowers because a low-interest rate means it costs less money to borrow funds, and a high-interest rate costs more money.

The Effects of High-Interest Rates on Mortgages

As stated above, when interest rates rise, the cost of borrowing increases. When interest rates are 2.5 per cent, the total cost of your loan will be higher than it would be if the interest rate is 1.5 per cent. While this may not seem like a significant amount percentage-wise, this slight difference can amount to many thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a mortgage.

Interest rates typically rise when the economy begins to recover and shows signs of strength. Overall, this is a good thing for the country because it indicates that the economy is strong. Interest rates also reinforce the idea that what’s best for one isn’t always best for all.

For those who already own a home and have a fixed-rate mortgage, the impact of an increase in interest rates will not be realized until it is time to renew. However, an interest rate hike is not ideal for those engaged in a variable-rate mortgage.

While a higher interest rate does mean your monthly payments will have less of an impact on your actual loan amount, there is still a bright side. The uptick means that any money you are investing should see higher returns. Again, there are pros and cons to this scenario.

In terms of the real estate market as a whole, when interest rates rise, the market tends to slow down – especially in larger markets like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.

The Effects of Low-Interest Rates on Mortgages

On the contrary, prospective homebuyers can save thousands of dollars each year in interest payments when interest rates are low. This is desirable as it will allow you to use that money elsewhere.

The best way to take advantage of a low-interest rate is to lock in your mortgage at a fixed rate when rates are low. This is a big reason you will see the real estate market heat up when interest rates drop.



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Building Laneway Suites in Toronto: What Homeowners Need to Know

Are laneway suites in Toronto a solution to the housing affordability crisis? From the length of time it takes to save a down payment, to the housing supply shortage driving up prices, many prospective homebuyers are being priced out of North America’s fourth-largest city.

In recent years many public policymakers, industry professionals, and community activists have proposed a series of measures to address housing affordability in this major urban center.

Real estate experts contend that the best answer to Toronto’s housing woes is to create more supply, by removing exclusionary zoning bylaws and supporting the construction of new homes. One concept that has garnered support from city hall is the development of laneway suites.

So, what are these residential units anyway, and can they help alleviate the sky-high housing market? Let’s explore!

Building Laneway Suites in Toronto: What Homeowners Need to Know

A laneway suite is a type of property that is a detached secondary unit, typically located in the backyard or back alley of densely populated cities.

While some will describe it as a newly designed mid-block property big enough for a couple of bedrooms and space for a family, others view it as a small, detached apartment above a garage that belongs to the primary house.

The laneway suite shares the main home’s water, sewer, gas, electric, and waste collection services. Also known as “infill houses” or “garden suites,” these units can never be standalone, commonly likened to a basement apartment. The difference, of course, is that you enjoy more light, windows, fresh air, and the myriad of benefits that a typical above-grade apartment offers.

Experts argue that laneway suites tackle under-utilized spaces, make communities more sustainable, and create equity for the population. Moreover, there are other perceived advantages, such as respect for the character of a neighbourhood, addressing multi-generational living needs, and slowing the pace of development. Others also see it as a rental income opportunity, allowing the homeowner to generate revenue or support retirement plans.

Toronto officials got on board with the idea, launching the Laneway Suites Initiative in June 2018. This program incentivizes homeowners to produce secondary laneway suites.

This is one of the ways we can get more housing options built and part of the City’s Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods plan. We want to help people grow more housing options in neighbourhoods across Toronto,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement.

Are you interested? Here is what you need to know before you take advantage of the program:

  • You can receive up to $50,000 in the form of a forgivable loan.
  • You must own a single-family home on a public lane.
  • You must conform with applicable zoning and other by-laws.
  • You must apply for building permits.
  • You must join the Affordable Laneway Suites Contribution Agreement.
  • You must receive approval for Development Charges Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units.

In addition, rent cannot exceed Toronto’s average market rent, and work must begin within 120 days of receiving the confirmation letter. The maximum household income limit is $63,400 for one person and $96,000 for two or more people.

Are Laneway Suites the Answer to Housing Affordability?

Toronto has been home to laneway suites for a century, and it appears that Canada’s most populous city is leading the push in North America. However, other jurisdictions, such as Vancouver and the state of California, are incorporating laneway suites into their public policymaking efforts.

In the world of planning and urbanism, these homes are generally known as granny flats or accessory dwelling units (ADU). American municipalities have been embracing them for a decade now. California effectively legalized ADUs at the state level in 2017. In Los Angeles, many are being built, and the city government pre-approved a set of standard plans for such dwellings by talented young architects,” The Globe and Mail reported in January 2022.

The average price of a detached home in Toronto is well north of $1 million, while condominium suites are approaching seven figures. The metropolis is begging for more supply to come online. Construction cranes dot the skyline and residential neighbourhoods, but many agree that more needs to be done. Whether laneway suites will enhance housing affordability in Toronto or not remains to be seen. Still, real estate is at the top of mind for public officials, the housing industry, and consumers – buyers and sellers.



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Renovations That Pay Off on the Resale Market

If you’re a home-buyer, owner or seller, you’re probably wondering how to maximize your investment. The answer depends on a number of factors, such as market conditions, your current circumstances and long-term goals, but there are some home renovations that pay off on the resale market, whether you’re looking to stay in the home or sell it.

Renovations on the Rise in a Hot Housing Market

In a seller’s market, there are more buyers than homes for sale, so technically you don’t need to renovate to turn that For Sale sign to Sold. However, the right renovations can help sellers secure a homebuyer faster, and potentially for a higher price. On the buying side, renovating a fixer-upper may allow buyers to get into their neighbourhood of choice at a lower price. Meanwhile, for homeowners who aren’t quite sold on moving or who find themselves challenged given limited inventory of listings, renovations have become a way to get a bigger, better home without having to tackle this competitive market.

According to a 2021 RE/MAX Canada report, more than half of Canadians renovated their home for personal enjoyment. According to a survey, three in 10 Canadians renovated to enhance their lifestyle, such as recreation and entertainment projects, while another three in 10 renovated to maintain their home. Last but certainly not least, 16 per cent of Canadians said they renovated to increase the market value of their home in order to sell within in the next one to three years.

Regardless of their reasons for renovating, 59 per cent of Canadians said they always consider the return on investment that a renovation will have on their home’s market value. So, home renovations pay off on resale? We surveyed RE/MAX brokers across Canada about the top renovations that give home sellers the biggest payouts.

9 Home Renovations That Pay Off on the Resale Market

#1 Kitchen – 93.5% of RE/MAX brokers said kitchen renovations give the best ROI, including new or updated cabinets, countertops and appliances. This can be attributed to the scale, cost and the general inconvenience (albeit a temporary one) of a kitchen renovation. Yes, renovating the kitchen yourself once you take possession of the home will be cheaper, however many homebuyers simply don’t want to put themselves through it – especially if they just completed a kitchen renovation on the home they are selling. The “move-in ready” factor is significant.

#2 Bathroom – 61.3% of RE/MAX brokers identified bathroom renovations as a great high-return renovation. By the same logic as the kitchen renovation, homebuyers who want move-in ready homes with all the bells and whistles generally don’t want to take on expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient renovations, such as bathroom.

#3 Paint – 58% of RE/MAX brokers said a fresh coat of paint is the simplest and cheapest investment, and it pays off on the resale market. Aside from giving the home an instant refresh, home stagers also recommend light and neutral paint colours to make a home appear bigger, brighter and cleaner.

#4 Flooring – 45.2% of RE/MAX brokers said new flooring is a popular upgrade among homebuyers. Homebuyers largely prefer hardwood or tile over wall-to-wall carpets, which tend to trap stains and odours, and can really show a home’s age. This is a must, and if the seller is lucky, tearing up that old carpet could even reveal a hardwood floor underneath that just needs some TLC to bring it to its former glory.

#5 Finished basement – 16.1% of RE/MAX brokers said finished basements are a great selling feature on the resale market. In fact, any renovations that add liveable square footage to a home are always in demand. A lower-level family room, home office, an extra bedroom or bathroom in the basement can all give your listing a significant boost at the offer table.

#6 Outdoors/landscaping – 12.9% of RE/MAX brokers said outdoor projects can provide good ROI. As a result of the pandemic, people have been spending more time at home and thus, large yards, pools and hot tubs, decks and patios, and landscaping are all appealing on the resale market. Depending on the scope of the project, this could be one of those low-investment, high-return upgrades that pay off on resale.

#7 Roof – 12.9% of RE/MAX brokers said roofing was a good option to invest some renovation dollars before listing a home for sale. New roof tied in sixth place with outdoor projects and landscaping.

#8 Open-concept floor plan – 9.7% of RE/MAX brokers said redesigning a home with an open-concept floor plan can pay off. This isn’t a small or inexpensive project by any means, but removing wasteful walls and halls can instantly modernize an older home and make it live larger than its actual square footage would otherwise allow.

#9 Windows – 6.5% of RE/MAX brokers said new windows net higher offers on the resale market. While this isn’t exactly the sexiest of renovations, astute buyers will appreciate the tens of thousands of dollars that new windows will cost, so having these replaced before listing can benefit both buyer and seller. Furthermore, new windows can give your home an understated refresh, inside and out.

Need Some Home Renovation Inspiration?

Watch this video to see how you can update and upgrade your home before listing it for sale.


The financial returns that sellers may reap on resale depend on a number of factors, including buyer demand and market conditions. If you’re planning to sell your home, thoughtful, targeted renovations can help you maximize your investment. A professional real estate agent can give you an advantage, by zeroing in on market demand before you dig into your renovation. Contact us, we’d love to help!


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5 Areas to Focus on When Home Staging

When selling your home, first impressions are everything. Give your home an advantage by taking the time to spruce it up before you list – and whatever you do, don’t forget about these 5 areas when home staging.

Don’t Neglect the Basement

A basement chock full of your disorganized piles of junk is a major turnoff to potential buyers. Even if the basement is unfinished, it should be clean, as bright as possible and dry. A quick coat of paint on a concrete floor can make the world of difference, as can neatly organized boxes.

If you can’t be bothered to organize your junk, at least get it out of the house! An empty finished basement is one million times better than a cluttered one (even if it does demonstrate how much junk can fit in it!). Rent a storage locker for the weekend and clear it out.

Rearrange the Living Room

If you’ve got all your furniture pushed up against the walls to make the most of the space, it’s not doing much to help sell your home. Instead, try arranging the furniture in your living room in a fashion that encourages conversations rather than just as a place to store the kids’ toys or watch television. If you have a fireplace or a big window, make that the focal point and place the couch, a coffee table and a pair of chairs in an intimate setting. Add a few decorative pillows and drape a textured blanket to add some colour and warmth and keep the coffee and end tables free of clutter. Place a floor lamp or table lamp in your new living area space to brighten up the entire area and make the space more inviting.

If you’re willing to invest a little extra in staging your home, window treatments can make a world of difference in a living room. But don’t buy anything you’ll be sad to part with!

Declutter the Kitchen

It goes without saying that a kitchen can sell a home, but a messy, cluttered kitchen can also make your home much harder to sell. Emphasize the size of your kitchen by clearing the counters of any small appliances and personal items such as mail and phone chargers. This will make even the smallest countertops and prep areas seem that much bigger.

Do, however, include colourful items that inspire healthy living, like a curated collection of interesting cookbooks, or a big bowl of lemons and limes. Help people envision their new lives in your home.

Create a Dining Area

You may only use it once a year, but formal dining rooms should never be neglected. This space can be a great area to focus on when selling your home. Start fresh by removing everything from the room except for the essential pieces of furniture like the dining table and chairs. Consider setting the table with your best china, complete with flatware, napkins, glasses and a centerpiece of fresh flowers or a bowl of vibrant fruit.

Even without a proper dining room, setting a kitchen counter or small bistro set in the corner of your kitchen will give your home a polished finish that denotes a caring homeowner. As much as potential buyers judge the home, they’re also judging the previous owners, and how they cared for it.

Scrub the Bathroom

Sleek and modern bathrooms can help sell a home, but even a dated bathroom can show its best face with a little elbow grease. Get a big box and remove everything from the counters, shower and bathtub before scrubbing the bathroom from top to bottom. Only put back a few essential items like hand soap and some fluffy towels. To help brighten the whole space, consider getting a new, high-quality shower curtain to pull the look together.

Don’t overlook your medicine cupboard and under-the-sink storage. Buyers are nosey, and will examine every inch of your home. Organizing your storage will help to show off your bathroom’s potential, even if it’s on the smaller side.

Home staging is an essential step to selling your home fast and for top dollar. If you have questions about staging and selling your home, contact us today. We’d love to help!


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Top Tips for Making Your Home Renovation Pet-Friendly

A home renovation can be pretty exciting, especially if you’re finally in a position to make long-awaited changes.

If you have pets, a home renovation is an excellent opportunity to make life easier for both you and them, with a few extra additions. Taking your pets’ habits, age and patterns into account as you plan for renovations could make all the difference in creating a safer, healthier and happier environment for your four-legged family members!

Don’t go anywhere – in this article we’ll be listing some of our top tips for making your home renovation more pet-friendly.

Making Your Home Renovation Pet-Friendly

Opt for an Optimized Mudroom

When Fido is frolicking through a wet or muddy backyard, he’s inevitably going to track it all through the house if there’s no efficient way to clean him off before coming back in.

Many homes have a mudroom, which could be a good option in and of itself if you don’t already have one; however, consider an optimized mudroom for those times when your pet is…well, a bit of a mess! A few beneficial add-ons to any mudroom are a dog shower, tub or wide sink to rinse off smaller dogs.

A dog shower is typically built as a step-in shower with a half-wall surrounding it, allowing humans to spray their pets from overhead. This option will be especially convenient in the colder months, when rinsing your dog outside would be uncomfortable and unpleasant for you both!

Doggie Flaps are Your Friend

This tip is all about convenience for both you and your pet: consider installing a doggie flap leading into your mudroom, laundry room or garage. This will allow your trained pet to come and go as they please and could work equally well for an indoor-outdoor cat.

It’s a good idea to install a flap on a door that doesn’t lead to your foyer or other prominent areas of your home. If your pet happens to track mud or dirt into the house, it’s best if the flap leads to a room where your pet won’t have as much potential to ruin or soil surroundings.

It’s also recommended that your flap have locking capabilities for the times that you don’t want your pet venturing outside. Similarly, a lockable flap will keep your home more secure and protected from burglaries, especially if you are away on vacation.

Consider a Cat Patio or “Catio”

A cat patio, or “catio,” is an excellent way to ensure that your fluffy friend gets more sunlight, stimulation, and exposure to the outdoors. Essentially, we’re referring to an enclosed space that is gated or fenced in that still allows cats to climb, sleep, and interact with the outdoors. It might look very similar to an enclosed deck or porch, with beds or toys for your cat to enjoy.

This renovation to your home may be installed looking toward your backyard or around the side of your house. There should also be a way for you to access the inside of your catio in the event of an emergency.

One cautionary note about catios: avoid leaving cat food inside them, which will attract pests and other animals. If you do choose to feed your cat in this enclosure, provide only small amounts of food that your cat will eat in one sitting.

Heated Floors for Aging Pets

Though this feature may sound pricey, heated floors are relatively inexpensive and provide perks for pets of all ages (as well as for your heating bill).

Heated floors make for a soothing and comforting environment for senior pets, as the warmth will keep their limbs relaxed – especially for those with joint issues or arthritis. Cats may particularly love heated floors since felines tend to be heat-seekers. Fun fact: cats’ earliest ancestors originated from the desert, which explains why they love sleeping in the sun!

Since heat rises, your heated floors will also provide a bit of extra warmth to any room in your house. This could make turning the thermostat down a few notches more comfortable during the colder months, potentially lowering home heating costs.

Install Pet Ramps

The addition of pet ramps to your home may make things easier for your pets as they age. Pet ramps can be installed anywhere your dog or cat would typically jump or climb if they were spry, such as alongside stairs or even alongside the couch.

Ramps may not be feasible or make sense in all areas of your home. However, installing them as alternatives to significant hurdles (such as the stairs) can make for a safer, more comfortable environment for your pet.

Final Word

These are just a few tips worth consideration if you’d like to incorporate pet-friendly options into your home renovation plans. Enlisting a professional for help as you implement these changes is recommended. A professional can ensure that you don’t run into costly or unnecessary obstacles, such as improper installation or installation, that might interfere with other aspects of your home.


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Do Staged Homes Sell Faster?

Do staged homes sell faster, and for a higher price? The short answer is yes and yes. Even in a hot seller’s market, smart sellers seek out ways to give themselves an advantage. This includes engaging an experienced, professional real estate agent, evaluating market demand and comparables, setting the right price, and then staging the property to appeal to the biggest pool of buyers.

Do staged homes sell faster?

According to a study by the Real Estate Staging Association, staged homes spend 73 per cent less time on the market than their un-staged counterparts. Truthfully speaking, even an un-staged property can sell under the right market conditions. A seller’s market, characterized by high demand and low inventory, generally means buyers are likely to scoop up what they can get. In a buyer’s market, there are more homes for sale than there are buyers, which means competition is greater among sellers and buyers have the upper hand. Under these circumstances, staging your property could tip the scales in your favour.

Do staged homes fetch a higher price?

The same Real Estate Staging Association study revealed that 85 per cent of homes analyzed sold for five per cent to 25 per cent above listing price. The answer to this question isn’t always black and white, as the final selling price can depend on a number of factors, including buyer demand, competition and the condition of the property. With all else being equal, a staged home is more likely to leave buyers with a better impression than one that hasn’t been staged, with the potential to fetch higher offers.

What is home staging?

Home staging is the process of preparing a home for sale by increasing its appeal to a wide range of homebuyers. Home staging isn’t as involved as a renovation, and can involve decluttering, depersonalizing and deep-cleaning; painting the walls in a fresh, neutral hue; updating hardware and lighting; rearranging existing furniture or renting some new pieces to help show the home in the best possible light. When a buyer can see your home as their home, they are more likely to make a competitive offer.

Since the majority of homebuyers start their home hunt online, it’s critical to make a good impression through your digital listing photos. Buyers will weed out the homes that don’t meet their criteria, and proceed to an in-person tour of the homes that they are seriously considering.

Decluttering and depersonalizing the home of family photos and other personal items can help. Also consider that potential buyers need to think beyond what their eyes are showing them. Staging helps them to visualize themselves living in and using the space. Is the home an ideal place for a growing family, as a live-work space, for recreational pursuits or to enjoy retirement?

Virtual Home Staging

A new twist on home staging is “virtual” staging, which leverages technology to digitally enhance photos in order to demonstrate the possibilities. Virtual staging is ideal for vacant properties, which pose added challenges for sellers and the buyers who are trying to imagine it as their new home. Virtual home staging eliminates the need, effort, and cost associated with renting or buying furniture and accessories.

Staging a home doesn’t have to be complicated. Evaluate every room and be critical, because prospective buyers will be. Viewing your own home objectively can be difficult, especially for those who have lived in their home for a long time. A professional home stager and your real estate agent can give you an honest opinion as to what works in your home, what doesn’t, and what the seller might consider changing in order to appeal to homebuyers.

If you’re thinking of selling, contact us! We can help identify market demands, navigate conditions and turn that For Sale sign to Sold.


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The First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide to Securing a Mortgage

Is the Canadian real estate market a mountain to climb? For a lot of young professionals who are first-time homebuyers, getting into the housing market can be a challenge, whether it’s saving up enough money for a down payment, finding the right home or securing a mortgage in order to buy it.

From tighter mortgage lending standards to higher interest rates, there is a lot to learn for the current crop of first-time homebuyers, and we’re here to help with this simplified guide to securing a mortgage for the first time.

The First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide to Securing a Mortgage

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, where do you even begin when applying for a mortgage? Let’s start with the basics.

Ensure You Have A Sufficient Down Payment

One of the biggest hurdles to buying a home is saving a sizable down payment. Since home valuations have surged considerably in recent years, it has become harder to gather enough upfront cash, especially in pricey markets such as Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal.

That being said, this is a critical part of the home-buying process. Unsure of the dollars and cents? Here is what you need to know ,based on your home-buying budget:

  • Less than $500,000: A five-per-cent of the purchase price in the minimum down payment
  • $500,000 to $999,999: Five per cent of the first $500,000 and 10 per cent of the purchase price above $500,000
  • Over $1 million: 20 per cent of the total purchase price

Moreover, if your down payment is less than 20 per cent, you will be required to purchase mortgage loan insurance, which can be paid up-front or added to your monthly mortgage payment.

What’s In Your Credit Report?

Have you checked your credit report lately? If not, perhaps it is time to take a look, even if you are not in the market to buy a residential property quite yet.

Take some time to check your credit score and if needed, improve it. Your credit score ranks your financial health on a scale between 300 and 900, and indicates the level of risk you pose to the lender. The higher your score, the lower the risk and the higher the chance you’ll secure a better mortagage rate or terms.

Unfortunately, your credit score could become a victim of identity theft or fraudulent behavior among unscrupulous individuals. For example, somebody might take out a loan in your name. Or as another instance, your first and last name could be used for a new credit card.

Whatever the case, your credit rating could take a hit if you are not being vigilant and proactive.

Budget What You Can Afford

In today’s sizzling real estate market, many prospective homebuyers may feel defeated by rising valuations, tempted to abandon their budgets and purchase whatever is available, even if it is beyond what they can afford. But is this fiscally responsible? Could you afford an emergency, if something came up?

Prioritize your finances, be it for your retirement or your child’s post-secondary education. Budgets are a necessary tool to accomplish long-term prosperity.

Work with a professional real estate agent who can point you to housing types and locations that are aligned to your budget. And if you still can’t afford it, you may choose to wait until you’re in a better financial position.

Speak with a Financial Advisor First

Before you go house hunting and apply for a mortgage, it would be prudent to book an appointment with a financial advisor or speak with a mortgage broker. By doing so, you can receive professional advice from someone who can help you determine if you’re eligible for a mortgage. This will save you the stress and headache of a barrage of mortgage applications.

Eliminate Outstanding Debt

It is estimated that the total household debt of Canadians is in excess of $2.5 trillion, with mortgage debt representing more than 68 per cent of this total figure.

In the face of high – and rising – home prices, first-time homebuyers’ mortgage debt could be considerable. As a result, it is crucial to first minimize or eliminate outstanding non-mortgage debt, from credit cards to car and student loans.

By decreasing your debts, you can then concentrate on either saving a bigger down payment or contributing more to your monthly mortgage costs.

Shop Around

Big banks and online financial institutions offer some of the lowest interest rates in decades, allowing many people to enjoy lower monthly payments. At the same time, there are other benefits, terms and conditions that some might not offer.

Therefore, it is imperative to shop around, do some research. It is comparable to grocery shopping or buying a new washer and dryer – a smart shopper will compare prices before committing to a purchase. This applied to your mortgage contract, too.

Get Pre-Approved

Finally, it is vital to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start shopping for a home.

This will give you confidence of having a mortgage ready to go once you begin browsing for a detached, semi-detached, townhouse, condominium, or whatever housing type you’re looking for. You’ll have a good idea of how much you can spend, what is out of your price range, and what will be suitable for your household budget.

Always Work with a Trusted Real Estate Agent

The importance of partnering with a real estate agent has never been more evident. Rose Kutzko & The Property Team are here to guide you through the home-buying and -selling process, while adhering to public health guidelines and finding residential properties right for your and your family, giving you an advantage in this highly competitive market.

We are ready and available to answer all of your questions!


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