How to Meet Your New Neighbours

Moving into a new home is a lot of work. There’s furniture to move, boxes to unpack, utilities and services to turn on, and on top of all that, you have new neighbours to meet. But even with all the work going on, getting to know your neighbours doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are three easy ways to reach out to your new neighbours.

1. Seize the moment!
The longer you put off meeting your neighbours, the more awkward things will be. Take a break after unloading your moving truck and before unpacking your boxes to introduce yourself.

2. Ask them some questions.
When you knock on your neighbour’s door, what do you say? Aside from explaining that you just moved in and wanted to introduce yourself, consider asking a bit about the neighbourhood. If you’ve relocated into the area, you can ask about the city or even the state. What nearby comedy clubs or theaters do they recommend? Is there a DMV nearby? What restaurants deliver to your neighbourhood?

3. Host a housewarming party.
If you’re new to the neighbourhood but have ties in the general area, consider hosting a housewarming party. You can invite your friends and family as well as your new neighbours. It will be a great excuse to knock on their door. And when they show up, you can start building new friendships with them.

Before you meet your new neighbours, you have to find your new home. If you or someone you know is looking to make a move, let us know! We can answer questions about the area and help you find your family’s perfect fit!

Best Places to Live: Canada Liveability Report

Canadians love where they live; RE/MAX Report explores some of the best places to live in Canada

  • 89 per cent of Canadians would recommend their neighbourhoods to others
  • Major Canadian cities are a beacon for liveability

Canadians genuinely celebrate the liveability factors — the qualities that give each homeowner the true satisfaction of his/her home within the context of a neighbourhood — when it comes to choosing a property to buy and live in. In fact, 89 per cent of Canadians would recommend their neighbourhood to others according to a recent RE/MAX survey conducted by Leger.

The latest RE/MAX report examined a variety of quality of life factors and how they impact Canadians’ home-buying decisions.

 “Housing is often a contentious topic in Canada, with affordability and inventory being persistent problems from coast to coast,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “However, when buyers are looking for a home, the search begins at the neighbourhood level. And the good news is that Canadians have lots of choice when it comes to ‘liveable’ cities and neighbourhoods.” 

Six-in-10 Canadians put easy access to shopping, dining and green spaces at the top of their liveability criteria. Proximity to public transit (36 per cent), work (30 per cent) and to preferred schools (18 per cent), as well as cultural and community centres (18 per cent) fall out of the top five neighbourhood wants and expectations.

The proximity and availability of these liveability factors is so important that Canadians spend more than two-thirds of their time in their own neighbourhood. This rate is higher among Baby Boomers compared to Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X Canadians.

 “While price and value are always top of mind for buyers, there are some aspects about a home that you can’t change,” says Alexander. “These liveability factors are what make your home more than just the place you live. They are at the heart of the Canadian experience, especially when you consider the survey results.” 

RE/MAX brokers were also asked to tap into their neighbourhood expertise and rate their city on each liveability factor.

 

Best Places To Live Liveability Report chart

In the west, Calgary ranked high in seven out of 11 categories, including offering good access to employment opportunities, population growth, housing supply, housing affordability and easy access to bike lanes and/or walking paths. Confederation and Nose Hill Park are two of the most popular parks in the city and the Rotary Mattamy Greenway is the cycling equivalent to the ring road. Inglewood, Hillhurst and Charleswood rank as the top three all-around liveable neighbourhoods. Edmonton also ranked high in access to employment opportunities, number of top rated/preferred schools and easy access to bike lanes and/or walking paths.

 “Despite reports of slowing economic conditions and a relatively flat real estate market in Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton shine as beacons of liveability,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “This is a promising sign for any buyers considering a purchase in either city as they continue to develop as liveable cities in their own right.” 

Toronto ranked medium for access to green spaces and parks but high for availability of big and small retail stores, population growth and access to healthcare facilities. The neighbourhoods that rated highest for access to green space and parks – Rosedale, Leaside and The Beaches – are also the most expensive. Conversely, Toronto’s most affordable neighbourhoods include parts of Scarborough and East York.

Vancouver ranked medium for availability of big and small retail stores, population growth and housing supply. However, it ranked high in availability of public transit, where the Skytrain and bus system prove exceptional; and walkability, especially in Yaletown. Main, West End and Kerrisdale are the top three all-around liveable neighbourhoods in Vancouver while Mount Pleasant, Downtown and Renfrew-Collingwood are the most affordable.

Other regions include Ottawa, where The Glebe neighbourhood is the best for walkability and public transit; Halifax, where Clayton park boasted high inventory; Hamilton, where Beasley was best for affordability; Winnipeg, where Transcona is a hidden gem neighbourhood; Saskatoon, where Nutana is the all-around best neighbourhood for liveability; and Nanaimo, where Central Nanaimo is best for affordability.

 “Liveability encompasses the many intangibles when buying and selling a home that an algorithm will never sufficiently capture. You need word of mouth and the on-the-ground expertise of a REALTOR® who has genuine local knowledge like few others,” adds Ash. 

Key findings from the 2019 RE/MAX Liveability Report Survey

Best Place To Live Liveability Report infographic

5 First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid

Congratulations! You’ve decided to buy a house!

Buying a house is fun and exciting, but it also requires a lot of responsibility. Most rookies in the housing market make the same mistakes for you to learn from. Here are 5 first-time home buyer mistakes to avoid.

First-time Home Buyer Mistakes

Let’s talk about rookie mistakes. We all get nervous when the rookie quarterback gets put in the game. Mistakes are bound to happen.

The same thing can happen when buying a home for the first time. This list will help you avoid any frustrating mishaps or setback.

We want your first home buying experience to be a positive one, so listen up.

1. Know Before You Go

One of the biggest mistakes when buying a home is not knowing what you can afford.

What you can afford and what the bank says you can afford are not always the same thing.

Make a budget of all your monthly expenses. Don’t forget car payments, loan payments, groceries, spending, and savings.

Also, add any yearly expenses such as vacations or insurance premiums. You want to have enough to cover these bigger expenses when they come up.

From there you can figure out how much you can spend on your mortgage payment each month. When calculating, use a mortgage calculator to give you an estimate of what your mortgage will be with the current interest rate.

Once you know how much you can afford, you can spend your time looking at houses within your budget. This will give you a realistic idea of the kind of house you can buy.

2. Get Pre-Approved

Seller’s are always more willing to work with buyers who have been pre-approved.

If you have poor credit or irregular income it can be hard to get banks to work with you. Make sure you have a lender ready to go before you make an offer on a house.

Being pre-approved is often based on loan to debt ratio. This means they will look at all your current debt. Once you are pre-approved, it’s important to try to keep your debt low. This means you shouldn’t go buy a car, stack up a lot of credit card debt, or switch jobs while you are in the process of buying a home.

This could cause the deal to fall apart at the last second causing you to forfeit any deposit or earnest money you have paid. You’ll also waste the seller’s time, the agent’s time, and your time.

3. Ownership is Not Cheap

I hate to burst your bubble, but owning a home often has additional expenses that come with the cost of ownership.

Did you know that the process of buying a house is expensive? The buyer is responsible for the closing costs, appraisal fees, and escrow fees.

You’ll be responsible for homeowners and property insurance, paying property taxes, utilities, and making repairs that the house needs. Furnace goes out? That’s your expense. Need new sprinklers? Be ready to channel your inner DIY landscaper.

Be prepared.

4. Don’t Be a Picky Penny

We get it, you have goals, visions, and dreams when it comes to your new home. Unless you have won the lottery though, you’ll need to be realistic when it comes to buying a home in your budget.

This means you may not get the newest and trendiest kitchen or the intricate finish work in the family room.

First time home buyers often need to compromise. What is more important to you? A secluded location or a third bedroom?

It’s good to know what you want, but you also need to have priorities. What are the three things most important on your list? Decide what are must haves and be willing to let the rest go.

Remember, you can change paint, countertops, and carpet over time. Adding an extra bathroom, or getting a bigger yard, are a lot harder to change if those are important to you.

5. Hire a Helping Hand

It can be tempting to try to buy a home on your own. How hard can it be to find a house you like and make an offer?

Once you are shopping for a home, it’s best to find an experienced Realtor who can walk you through the process. We can help you find lenders, get prequalified, and negotiate the price in your favour.

We can save you from making any rookie mistakes. Having a realtor on your team will save your time and money.

Start Adulting

Buying a home is an exciting time. Nothing makes you feel like a real adult more than having a mortgage. Knowing some first-time homebuyer mistakes and how to avoid them helps you feel more confident and sure about the process.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need a reliable teammate. We’re here to help you avoid these first-time homebuyer mistakes!

Hiring a Real Estate Agent in Toronto: How to Choose the Right One

Hiring a Real Estate Professional is more important than you may think.

The right agent can be the difference between getting your asking price and walking away leaving money on the table or paying full price for a nine-month-old listing instead of negotiating with a motivated Seller.

Not all Real Estate Agents are created equal. Learn to select the best one for you, read on.

Do Market Research

Before you begin interviewing Real Estate Agents, you should take the time to get your bearings on the local housing market. Drive around your neighbourhood and consider the names on the for sale signs you see. Make note of the ones that say “Sold”, in particular.

Find a high-quality agent by popping into an open house if you are a Seller. This can be a great way to see how other home Sellers are pricing and staging their homes.

For Buyers, going into an open house is a great way to find out about the personality and professionalism of a Real Estate Agent.

Research Your Real Estate Agent

Before you hire an agent, search them online. Look for any ratings, reviews, or references you can find about them. This person is a public figure in the community, so if there is little to no information available on their real estate activity, then this could be a red flag.

Read and find out what people in your area are saying about various agents, but more importantly, take a look at how the agents respond to their disgruntled clients.

An agent that is professional and cares about their business will take the time to address any negative reviews in a helpful and patient manner.

Interview Real Estate Agents

Walking into an open house and liking the Real Estate Agent is nice, but if you want to be sure you have the best agent for your situation, you should interview multiple agents and ask them for referrals.

A good number of agents to meet with is three. You don’t want to settle for the first agent, but you also don’t want to waste your time with a bunch of interviews. Compare the responses the agents give to the following questions.

Questions to ask:

  • Have you been in real estate long?
  • Is most of your experience in buying or selling?
  • How many clients do you carry at a time?
  • Do you function as part of a Real Estate Team?
  • What kind of real estate do you specialize in?
  • Are you equipped to handle short sales or the purchase of foreclosures?
  • What tactics will you use to market my home?

Set Your Expectations

Real Estate Agents are very busy people who are constantly on the go. They have to handle appointments for showings, update listings, stage homes, be present for inspections, handle closings, and much more.

But that doesn’t mean that they are off the hook when it comes to handling your sale or purchase. Your Real Estate Agent needs to be available to you and take the time to listen to your insights throughout the process to ensure you find the home of your dreams or sell your home for the best price.

Communication Preferences

As mentioned, agents are very busy. That means it’s very important for you to agree on when and how you will speak to your agent. Get on the same page from the start so you won’t be frustrated later in the process.

Motivations

Make sure that your real estate agent understands your motivations to buy or sell. If you are on some sort of timeline or desperately need a specific price for your home, then they need to know that information.

Strategies

Before you sign a contract with a Real Estate Agent, you should agree on the strategies that will be used to sell your home.

Will there be open houses? How many showings are you willing to have a week? How much time will you need notification in advance of a showing?

All these factors should be considered in detail.

Consider the Other Roles of the Real Estate Agent

Your Real Estate Agent is not just the person who lists your home or finds one for you to purchase. They can also help you with staging your home so that potential buyers have an easier time envisioning themselves in it.

That means that your Real Estate Agent should have an eye for interior design, or at least know the right person to hire to get the job done.

Your Real Estate Agent will also play a role in the inspection process of your home. Make sure you choose an agent that is trustworthy.

You want an agent who will be upfront with you about any potential problems you could have in the future. They should be willing to take the time and energy to find you a home that meets all of your needs.

Thinking of Hiring a Real Estate Agent?

Hiring a Real Estate Agent is a great way to speed up your home buying or selling process.

Are you ready to sell your home fast or purchase the home of your dreams for the best price? Contact us today!

Personal Letters and How They Can Help You Score Your Dream Home

Once you find the right home in the right neighbourhood, it’s time to put in an Offer!

Most Sellers like to hear that their house is going to someone who will cherish it and make new memories in it, the same way that they did. By writing a personal letter to present with your Offer, you can provide some additional insight to the Seller about why you love their home and wish to purchase it. Whether it is sharing your plans to raise a family in the house or expressing your desire to be in that specific neighbourhood, your letter could contribute to making the Seller feel more comfortable selling the house to you.

It’s important to:

  1. Build a connection

Look for something you and the buyer have in common and work from there.

  1. Keep it short

While you might be motivated to share your entire life story to get your point across, it’s generally not a good idea.

  1. Stay positive

Writing about all the Offers you have lost in the past can put the Seller in an uncomfortable position.

  1. Show, don’t tell

The idea here is that you want the Seller to experience your emotions. Don’t be afraid to show your attachment to the home; Sellers like to know it will be more than just an investment to you.

  1. Leave out remodelling plans

People are naturally protective of their homes, so be mindful of their feelings when composing your letter.

  1. Finish strong

Finish with a short paragraph supporting one or two key points you made in the letter.

  1. Proofread it

There are grammar police everywhere. To be safe, assume the Seller is one of them!

How to Prepare for the Fall Real Estate Market

Real estate is sold 365 days a year; it’s the new norm!  Fall can be a great time to sell your home. Below are some of the best tips for selling a home during the fall.

Analyze the Market & Price Your Home Right

Analyze the current state of your local real estate market. Understanding the type of market your area is experiencing is important: Is your local market type a sellers’ market, a buyers’ market, or a balanced market. It’s important when it comes to pricing your home accordingly. If you don’t know ask your Real Estate Agent!

 

Perform Applicable Inspections & Cleanings

If you’re planning on selling your home in the fall, tackle the inspections and cleaning part prior to listing your home for sale.

 

Decorate & Embrace the Fall

The most exciting part about fall! If you decide to sell your home during the fall, there are many decorating tips, staging tips, and ways to embrace the fall season. Be tactful with your decorating and try to appeal to the masses!

 

Clean Up the Exterior

The least exciting part about fall…is raking leaves. Don’t neglect the exterior of your home. Tasks that should be completed when selling a home during the fall include:

Raking leaves

Removing loose sticks

Weeding flower beds

Trimming flowers, bushes, and shrubs

Aerating the lawn

 

Prepare Your Home for Showings

When selling in the fall, ensure your home smells good. Popular ways to make your home smell warm and cozy while selling in the fall include:

Brewing a fresh pot of pumpkin spice coffee

Boiling cinnamon sticks

Burning fall scented candles

 

Selling a home in the fall is not for everyone, however, these tips can help expedite the sale of your home and maximize the sale price!

5 Tips for Stress-Free Moving with Kids

When you finally decide to take a big leap and move, it can be one of the most exciting and stressful periods of your life. And if you’re a parent, double that excitement and stress based on the number of children you have.

There are just so many things to consider, especially if you are both buying and selling a home. From the exciting parts like deciding where you want to live and the house hunting, to the more mundane parts like signing contracts and dealing with lawyers about land transfer taxes, it’s really a mixed bag of emotions.

Here are five tips on how you can make your move an easy and relatively carefree and –dare I say– even fun!–experience for your whole family.

  1. Declutter, declutter, declutter

Long before you ever decide to put your home on the market, it’s critical that you first declutter your entire home. When you are selling, it’s important that you showcase your home as beautifully as possible and typically, having minimal items on display will help do just that. When we live in our homes, especially if you have kids, “stuff” tends to pile up in every nook and cranny.

The thought of decluttering an entire house can feel daunting, so start small, with one room at a time

Tip: Take two garbage bags and one large box into the room. Label one bag “Donation” and the other bag “garbage.” In the box, place items you want to keep but don’t necessarily need out for everyday life (think stuffies or old school projects).

  1. Hire a cleaning company

I can remember one of my first stressors when we decided to move was the thought of having to clean our home. While I would never say that our home was grossly dirty, it has never had a good, deep cleaning in the four years we’ve lived here. And with five people living here, you can image how the dirt has piled up. I’m talking all the neglected areas like baseboards, light fixtures and blinds – the areas I just never have had time to clean but knew dirt had been accumulating.

Hiring in a professional cleaning service was one of the best decisions we made during this process. They came in with a crew of four people and spent almost five hours cleaning our 2,500-square-foot home. Every nook and cranny was wiped, dusted, shined and left squeaky clean!

Tip: If you have carpet in your home, it’s a good idea to have the carpets cleaned before listing your home, too. Especially if you have kids or pets, the carpets are bound to get dirty. In our case, we had some unfortunate makeup spills, including a dark red nail polish on our almost-white carpets! Having a professional come into the space and give the carpets the deepest clean not only freshened things up, it also brightened the overall look.

Bonus tip: Along with cleaning, if you can hire a painter to give your walls a fresh coat of paint, especially in high-traffic areas like the foyer, kitchen and kids’ rooms, it will help the space feel fresh and clean!

  1. Stage your home

One of the lessons I’ve learned through the process of selling our home is: not everyone will care for the décor I’ve chosen for each room.

Removing personal items such as family pictures and expensive pieces of artwork or collections is a good idea so the focus remains on the home and not the stuff you’ve put into it.

Tip: Working with a home stager could help breathe new life into the space before listing your home. Especially in hallways or transitional spaces, stagers can add in or suggest items that might help make the space flow a bit better.

Bonus tip: When you have showings booked for your home, make sure to turn on all the table and floor lamps. This helps give a warm and inviting touch to the space while allowing ample light to showcase the room.

  1. Hire a Realtor

One of the best decisions we made throughout this process of buying and selling was to hire a Realtor. As a busy, working mom of three young kids, I couldn’t imagine going through this process without a professional’s help. For many of the above tips I’ve given, like hiring a cleaning company or painter, our Realtor had all of those services lined up for us, so we didn’t have to worry about finding and vetting different companies.

  1. Get the kids involved

At the end of the day, the process of buying and selling a home with kids doesn’t have to be stressful. Keeping your kids involved from asking them what they’d like in a new home, to getting them to help with the decluttering of their room, to rewarding them for keeping their spaces clean every day, it’s fun to watch your kids work together to make your home the best it can be during this time.

Tip: Give your kids incentives to help keep the home clean. Make it all about teamwork and empower them to be vital part of the process. Getting them involved not only teaches them responsibility but also helps lessen the burden of cleaning the entire home yourself.

Moving can be a stressful time in your life, as it’s one of the biggest transitions you can go through. But implementing these tips can really help reduce the stress of a move – especially one with kids – and help strengthen your family dynamic.

 

Written By: Christine Martin, Real Estate 101, Relator.ca

How to Find a Great Neighbourhood When Looking for a Home

Finding the perfect home can be challenging, but deciding which neighbourhood to live in is perhaps even more important. After all, you’ll never love a house if you don’t like your community, right? Your location affects everything from affordability to your quality of life. A great neighbourhood maintains or raises your home’s value, making it easier to sell down the line. Here are some of the features to look for during your search for the ideal place to move.

Check out the area schools, parks and community centres

If you have or are planning to have children, living in an area known for its sought-after schools and daycare centres increases your property value. Having lots of green space, playgrounds and sports complexes for extra-curricular activities also boosts a home’s cachet.

Figure out your commute

Whether you’ll be driving to the office, cycling or taking public transportation, you’ll want to be sure you’re not spending hours on the road twice a day or more if you and your family participate in sports or other activities. Do a trial run of your commute, or find out if you’ll be driving with or against traffic during peak hours. Choosing a house near a subway or bus stop or commuter train station is a smart move.

Use your senses

Many homeowners opt to live on a quiet street as a respite from urban noise and traffic. Walk through the neighbourhood you’re considering and pay attention: Can you hear birds chirping, or cars honking and planes flying overhead? Are the homes well maintained and the streets well lit? Do the local shops and eateries seem like places you want to hang out in? Take a deep breath: Do you smell any weird industrial odours? Be sure you can picture yourself living here.

Evaluate an area’s “walkability”

Want to be able to pick up some groceries on foot or hop on your bike to get your morning coffee? See if the home you’re looking at is located in a walkable neighbourhood. Having to get in the car and drive 15 minutes when you run out of milk works for some folks, but not everyone.

See if your potential ‘hood offers cultural and outdoor options

Whether you love going to plays, movies, art galleries or concerts, or staying active by hiking, biking or jogging, you’ll want these activities to be located close to your new home. If you have a dog, be sure there are plenty of dog runs or open areas nearby.

Talk to the neighbours

Sometimes the best way to get the lay of the land is by chatting with people who can guide you. Ask your Realtor and/or ring a few doorbells surrounding the house you’re interested in, and ask these potential neighbours what they love about where they live. Find out where they shop, eat and go out on the town.

Asking the right questions and evaluating all your options using the best resources will help you find your ideal community!

 

Written By: Wendy Helfenbaum, Real Estate 101, Relator.ca

Farmers’ Markets To Visit This Summer

Toronto is a wonderful city known for many things including farmers’ markets!

Toronto neighbourhoods offer many farmers’ markets throughout the year for community members to enjoy. Below is a collection of some of Toronto’s best. Head out to discover all that they have to offer and leave the market with a bag full of fresh produce and fun memories!

Annette Farmers’ Market

When: Every Wednesday from May to October, 3pm-7pm
Where: Runnymede Presbyterian Church parking lot
680 Annette Street, Toronto, ON, M6S 1V9

Etobicoke Civic Centre Farmers’ Market

When: Every Saturday from June 2 to October 27, 2018, 8am-2pm
Where: Etobicoke Civic Centre
399 The West Mall, Etobicoke, ON M9C 2Y2

Humber Bay Shores Farmers’ Market

When: Every Saturday from May 26 to October 6, 2018, 9am-2pm
Where: Humber Bay Park West
2225 Lake Shore Blvd W, Etobicoke, ON M8V 3X7

Stonegate Famers’ Market

When: Every Tuesday from June to October, 4pm-7pm
Where: Christ Church St. James Anglican Church parking lot
194 Park Lawn Rd, Etobicoke, ON M8Y 3J1

Market Days at Montgomery Inn

When: Every Wednesday, year-round, 2pm-6pm (Indoor during the winter)
Where: Montgomery’s Inn
4709 Dundas St. W, Etobicoke, On M9A 1A8

Weston Farmers’ Market

When: Every Saturday from May 12 to October 27, 2018, 7am-2pm
Where: The GO Parking lot
1865 Weston Rd (South of Lawrence Avenue), York, ON M9N 1V9

Toronto’s Tree Campaign

Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation has been helping Toronto transform its parks and green spaces since 2002. They work with the City of Toronto, community groups, neighbourhoods and individuals to better the community and reimagine your local parks.

Every Tree Counts is a program in Toronto to grow our tree canopy to 40%. For all you tree lovers, this is the perfect chance to fill in that empty space on your lawn! By simply calling or messaging the City of Toronto, you can request to have a tree planted in front of your lawn or business. The Foundation’s website (http://everytreecounts.ca/) elaborates on the benefits of this initiative: “Making Trees Count funding aims to encourage innovative partnerships and support projects and collaborations that improve the quality of life for all of Toronto’s residents”.

Key objectives are to increase the number of native trees and shrubs planted on private land, to support tree care activities and to support communities including neighbourhoods with less trees. The program also strives to build community capacity, knowledge sharing, partnerships and networks while facilitating community driven, locally owned tree upkeeping efforts.

A representative will come to your property to examine exactly where your tree should be planted. They will determine which species of tree is best suited for your area depending on the sunlight and soil. Toronto is presently at 19.5% and is continuing to run this program to encourage communities and neighbourhoods to get involved and take the initiative to become a part of the Making Trees Count campaign.

For those who want to be further involved, they can also apply for a grant through the city’s Every Tree Counts initiative which funds tree giveaways and community events while providing an excellent opportunity to be hands-on in helping the community