Selling houses in and around Saskatoon!

Quarterly Forecasts

December 15, 2020 – The national average price is forecast to rise by 9.1% in 2021 to $620,400. Average price trends across Canada in 2021 are generally expected to resemble those in 2020. Shortages of supply, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, are expected to result in strong price growth, while Alberta and Saskatchewan are anticipated to see average prices pick up following several years of depreciation.
  • Ottawa, ON December 15, 2020 – The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate boards and associations.

    Current trends and the outlook for housing market fundamentals suggest activity will remain relatively healthy through 2021, with prices either continuing to climb or remaining steady in all regions.

    Economic activity continues to improve slowly following the initial stages of the pandemic. Over the past several years, record levels of international immigration, low interest rates and an increasing share of millennials entering their home buying years have helped make the housing market a significant source of strength for the Canadian economy. The recent government support programs for individuals and businesses have also helped the overall economy through the most severe parts of the pandemic to date.

    Mortgage interest rates have declined to record lows in 2020, including the Bank of Canada’s benchmark five-year rate used by Canada’s largest banks to qualify applicants under the B-20 mortgage stress test. With the Bank of Canada committing to keep interest rates low into 2023, mortgage interest rates are expected to remain near current levels through 2021.

    Recent national sales trends have improved more than anticipated over the second half of 2020. New listings in most of the country have also recovered. However, while sales activity rebounded to record-high levels, new listings only recovered to about their five-year average in most markets. The relative strength of demand for homes compared with supply has meant sales activity has been eroding active inventory, which was already scarce in many markets pre-pandemic. That said, this has been a trend since 2015.

    The increase in demand has impacted every part of the country, including the Prairies and Newfoundland and Labrador. While these regions aren’t experiencing the same intensity of upward price pressures as the rest of the country, compared with previous years, demand is strengthening and prices have indeed started to increase.

    Despite the historic setback to the spring market caused by the pandemic, CREA projects national sales to hit a record of 544,413 units in 2020, representing an 11.1% increase from 2019 levels. The strength of the Canadian housing market was broad-based, with every province except Alberta registering a year-over-year increase in sales. British Columbia and Quebec stand out as large contributors to the overall gain.

    The national average price in 2020 is on track to rise by 13.1% on an annual basis to just over $568,000. This reflects the current balance of supply and demand, which heavily favours sellers in many local markets.

    On a monthly basis, sales are forecast to ease back to more typical levels throughout 2021; however, presuming there’s a more normal spring market in 2021, the year as a whole is expected to see more home sales than 2020. National home sales are forecast to rise by 7.2% to around 584,000 units next year. All provinces except Ontario are forecast to see increased sales activity in 2021, as low interest rates and improving economic fundamentals allow people to get into the markets where homes are available for sale.

    Ontario has seen strong demand for several years, particularly outside of Toronto, which has eroded active supply in the province. This shortage is expected to limit sales activity in 2021. The strength of demand, particularly for larger single-family properties, will drive the average price higher as potential buyers compete for the most desirable properties.

    – 30 –

    About the Canadian Real Estate Association

    The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry associations. CREA works on behalf of more than 130,000 REALTORS® who contribute to the economic and social well-being of communities across Canada. Together they advocate for property owners, buyers and sellers.

Source:  CREA 

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With most of us spending extra time at home this year, there’s certainly a backlog of projects you’ve been hoping to get to when you have the time. New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for you, they can be for your home too! So why not take some time this holiday season to plan your house goals for 2021. 

From cleaning every nook and cranny to finally getting around to building a new headboard for your master bedroom, we’ve got all affordable DIY New Year’s projects you could ask for. 

Cleaning the bathroom tiles and grout

Grout is one of those “set it and forget it” things we often overlook in a home. But grout is actually quite porous and can easily stain in high-traffic areas like kitchens or hallways. 

Get yourself a stiff bristle brush and some hydrogen peroxide, or another type of grout cleaner, and start scrubbing! You’ll be surprised by the difference freshly cleaned grout makes to your tiled floor or wall overall. 

Cleaning your floor

DIY an accent wall

If you’ve been thinking about a refresh but aren’t sure what to do, rather than repainting an entire room try an accent wall! 

You can use wallpaper or a mural to highlight a wall in a room or go the full distance and DIY wall paneling to create a more built-in and authentic effect. 

Accent walls can truly transform a room and can be done for well under $300 if you rent the necessary tools and equipment.

Baseboard maintenance

Oh baseboards. Those tricky out of sight, out of mind accessories. Except that baseboards are rarely completely out of sight. Baseboards are a friend to dust and grime and require some grooming to keep them in good condition. 

So, maybe this year’s resolution involves a little baseboard cleaning. Not to worry, it’s actually really easy. All you need is some soapy water and a dishcloth (OK, and maybe a few hours to get the job done). 

If your baseboards are starting to separate from the wall, grab some white baseboard caulk and work it into the crevice using a 5 in 1 tool, or your finger, to reseal them to the wall.

Eliminate office drawer and shelf clutter

We’ve been spending a lot of time in our home-offices this year. So naturally, things have piled up. With work-from-home orders extending into the new year and beyond, it’s a good time to clear out the clutter in your workspace. 

Start by going through all cabinets and drawers. Toss any loose papers, receipts, and miscellaneous items you don’t need. Order some drawer organizers, or get your hands on a couple of small baskets to group loose items together. 

Donate any books you don’t plan on re-reading, and store old notebooks in a box for safekeeping. 

Deep cleaning the oven

While some might regularly take care of this chore, others leave it as a once-a-year activity. 

This task takes about an hour and can be done for under $20! Snag some oven cleaner from your local grocery or department store, as well as a rag and scrub brush.

Remove everything from your oven and spray it down, including the back, sides, top, and bottom. Let sit for as long as your cleaning product suggests, usually 30 minutes or more. Remove the racks, spray them down, and leave them to sit for 20 minutes. 

Once the appropriate amount of time has passed, take a wet rag and wipe down all surfaces you sprayed. Rinse your racks in the sink, or outside with a garden hose, and voila! You’re done! 

A clean shower

Cleaning hair out of the drain

Not for the faint of heart, this one’s for the folks truly committed to those home-inspired resolutions. 

If you’re handy, you can fashion an easy drain snake out of a wire hanger following this tutorial. Otherwise, head to your local pharmacy and pick up a bottle of CLR or Drano for an easier, less-involved option. Although, there’s something oddly satisfying with pulling it out yourself. 

Washing curtains/dusting blinds

Likely not on your laundry list are your curtains. These things just stay clean forever, right? Wrong! Curtains are a dust magnet, and overtime can actually lose their colour and vibrancy from the amount of dust they hold onto. 

Read the care instructions before throwing them in the wash—some curtains need dry cleaning, while others can be hand-washed. 

If blinds are your window covering of choice, take a wet cloth to them and lightly brush over them to reveal a good-as-new shine. 

A beautiful bedroom, with a freshly made bed and attention grabbing headboard.

Build your own headboard

Headboards can really upgrade a bedroom, but when purchased are quite pricey! But headboards are surprisingly easy to DIY. All you’ll need is some plywood, foam, and fabric as well as the right building tools. 

Make your own tufted headboard for under $150 in an afternoon. 

Steam cleaning the carpets

Every once in a while you’ll want to clean your carpets to keep them from collecting dirt, dust, allergens, and stains. 

Before steam cleaning you’ll want to remove all furniture, vacuum and spot treat any tough stains. Then, you can either use a carpet cleaner bought online or rented from your local hardware store for under $150! So easy, and so worth it. 

Bright lights with fun shades.

Take apart and clean your lights

Flush mount lighting and ceiling fans are prone to collecting dust and are rarely (if ever) cleaned. Take it upon yourself to go the extra mile and dust off those ceiling lights, your lungs will thank you later! 

Cleaning the fridge

Yes, it’s a grubby job, but there’s nothing like a sparkly clean fridge to lift one’s cooking spirits. Start by clearing out your fridge and emptying containers filled with old food and sauce you completely forgot about (gross, but worth it for the environmental impact of saving waste!) 

Next, remove any drawers and shelves. Take them to a bathtub or laundry sink and spray them down with some antibacterial cleaner. While they sit, spray down the inside of your fridge and wipe with a damp cloth. Rinse off the shelves and drawers and place them back in the fridge. 

Once it’s time to put things back in the fridge, opt for an organization method that works for you. We love the suggestion of using the top fridge shelf for ready-to-eat, or close to expiry items! 

A simple backspace, making your kitchen even cleaner.

Re-tile your kitchen backsplash

2020 brought a wave of hot new tile trends that will leave older kitchens looking outdated. Most kitchen backsplash tiles range from $4-10 a square foot. So, depending on the size of your kitchen, this is a project you can do for under $300! 

Follow this simple DIY tutorial to nail your first backsplash project!

Whatever your New Year home resolution, make sure to take it slow. Don’t rush into a million projects; start with the things you think will give you the most satisfaction and take it from there! 


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It’s not that hard to build a basic outdoor fire pit. You can do it in an afternoon, with a little elbow grease and less than $100.


  • shovel
  • level

Show All


  • retaining wall blocks (we used about 36)
  • metal fire pit ring
  • 7” square concrete pavers or fire brick for the bottom of the pit (we used about 15)


Plan Location and Layout

A fire pit should be built at least 15 feet from any structure and close to a water source. Ideally, you’ll want it on level ground; it’ll make building it much easier and sitting around it more comfortable.


Determine the Size

The size of your fire pit will be determined by your metal fire ring. Place the ring and retaining-wall blocks on the ground to figure out the size of the fire pit. Mark the outside of the circle with the edge of a shovel.


Dig a Hole

Move the retaining wall blocks out of the way and dig inside the marked hole. Make the hole at least 7” deep.


Line Hole With Sand

Add a 1” layer of all-purpose sand in the hole and tamp it down flat. You may want to use a level to make sure it's all on the same plain.


Add Base Row

Lay the bottom row of blocks inside the hole. Place the outside of the block on the very edge of the sand.


Place Metal Ring

Place the metal ring on the sand inside the base row of blocks.


Insert Bricks Into Fire Pit Floor

Lay the pavers or fireplace bricks in the bottom of the fire pit. Cover as much area as possible.


Add Pea Gravel

Fill the gaps between the blocks and the pavers with pea gravel.


Place Remaining Rows of Blocks

Stack the outer blocks to your desired height. Stagger the seams of each layer.

To see the original article and video, check out:


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When we think about buying and selling real estate, it’s easy to overlook that, in many cases, the property being sold is a rental property that likely has tenants. In fact, with a majority of households in Canada owning their homes (67.8% according to a 2016 Census) nearly one-third of all homes in Canada are rental properties. 

While most real estate transactions are pretty straightforward, different rules apply when a rental property is concerned. Let’s look at the different scenarios you might encounter when buying a rental property that has tenants.

A young adult signing a lease.Image via Cytonn Photography, Pexels

Scenario 1: You wish to keep the tenant(s)

This is the simplest scenario and has the least impact on timing and conditions of the sale. No matter if the tenant has a fixed-term or periodic tenancy (month-to-month), once the sale closes they will fall under your responsibility as the new lessor (a.k.a. landlord). In most provinces, any fixed-term lease will revert to a periodic tenancy automatically when it expires.

You may be asking, “do I need to sign a new lease agreement?” According to licensed paralegal Ashley Katamay of Ottawa, while it’s not mandatory to sign a new lease, “The rules in the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) will always apply, regardless if there is a contract or not. If the parties sign a new lease, the landlord can change the terms ONLY if the tenant agrees and if the changes comply with the rules stipulated in the RTA.” 

A grandmother and granddaughter talking while having a cookies. Image via Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Scenario 2: You wish to occupy the home or rent to a family member

There are two ways this works, but in both scenarios it’s important to clearly state your intent to occupy the home or assign it to an immediate family member (parent, spouse or child)—this does not apply to extended family or close friends—as part of your purchase agreement.

The tenant has a lease that has not come to term: “The tenant’s lease remains protected until the end of the fixed term. Therefore, landlords need to ensure the buyer is aware they must comply with the existing tenancy agreement,” shares Katamay. This means you must assume responsibility for the tenant and serve notice to end the tenancy no less than the minimum period required by law before the end date of their fixed-term lease.

If you need the home vacant at the time of purchase, then the sale can only close on the last day of the tenancy, and the current owner is responsible for providing notice. Notice must be given according to the laws of the province or territory in which the home exists. 

When it comes to this situation, Andrew Miller, a REALTOR® and salesperson from Ottawa says, “The lease must be respected regardless. When I have this situation we will typically open discussion with the tenants and try to find a monetary compensation that they are comfortable breaking the lease agreement for so that all sides are happy.”

The tenant’s lease is month-to-month: The same minimum notice requirements apply in this case, though notice can be given immediately once the terms of sale have been satisfied. If you require the unit empty, the sale can only close after the day on which the tenancy ends.

NOTE: A tenancy in Quebec cannot be terminated by the landlord before the sale closes, making it the obligation of the new owner to take the necessary steps to end the tenancy.


Scenario 3: You wish to demolish, renovate or repurpose the property to a non-residential use

This is often where things can get difficult, especially if due diligence has not been taken to prepare ahead of time before ending a tenancy, or if the work is not completed within a reasonable timeframe after the tenancy has ended.

Generally, if a plan is in place to demolish the home, if the home requires substantial renovations that require it to be empty, or if it’s being converted to a non-residential use, longer notice times can be expected. The notice period is anywhere from two months to a full year, depending on the province.

In the case where a multi-unit building is replacing the original rental unit, or where renovations are concerned, Katamaya mentions, “The tenants have the right to move back into the unit once the work is completed. Or the landlord and tenant may agree to end the lease early.”

In some cases the landlord may be required to pay moving expenses, or to compensate the tenant, depending on the province and number of units in the property.

Home agent using a calculator Image via Toa Heftiba, Unsplash

Scenario 4: The tenant is paying below market rent

When a tenant has been residing in a home for many years, rent often falls below market, causing what Miller says is the only downside for a buyer when they wish to keep a tenant. As years pass, property values, taxes, and mortgage rates rise, increasing the overheads for landlords and narrowing profit margins. 

Most provinces set annual limits for rental increases to limit abuse, though the premise is that a landlord risks losing a good tenant if they unreasonably raise the rent. A landlord must follow a minimum notice period, and if they have good reason to increase the rent beyond the guidelines, they can apply for permission from their provincial landlord tenant board. 

Rent may also be increased beyond the guideline amount if it’s justified by investing in improvements or renovations to the property.

A couple moving into their first aparmtent. Image via Getty

Residential Tenancies Acts Resources

While there are many similarities from province-to-province, notice periods and restrictions on ending tenancies can differ greatly. For instance, in Manitoba, a tenancy cannot be terminated during a school year if there are school-age children in the household. The minimum notice period in Manitoba is also tied to the vacancy rate in the respective community and can range from two to six months. Alberta law requires a full 365 days notice for renovations that require the unit to be vacant. In Ontario, a fine of up to $25,000 can be levied against a landlord on top of damages for bad-faith evictions. If a unit in Quebec is owned by a company, then the owner of the company cannot reclaim the unit for themselves or a family member.

Here are links for each provincial resource where you can become familiar with the laws in your province:

A mother and daughter packing to move. Image via cottonbro, Pexels

While buying a rental unit is becoming a popular long-term investment, there’s a lot to keep in mind to ensure you stay on the right side of the law while respecting the renters. Let’s not forget they’re individuals and families who love their home and have made memories they will carry forever. Doing your due diligence and approaching tenants with empathy will go a long way to ensure a positive outcome for all.


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

Yearly planner Image via JessBaileyDesign, Pixabay

The importance of scheduling

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

A clean, warm family home. Image via kirkandmimi, Pixabay


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

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

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

Storing your tree in the attic Image via Jeswin Thomas, Pexels


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

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


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


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


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

Any time of year:

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

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

Image via Skitterphoto, Pixabay

Preparing for the long-term

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

Five years:

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

Ten years:

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

15 years:

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

25 years:

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

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


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Seasoned gardeners will tell you landscaping is far from seasonal. Designing a backyard that pops throughout the year requires careful consideration to ensure everything rotates in turn with the Earth’s axis. Consider the simple concept of a snow globe. The scene is serene when all is calm—and even more magical when shook up with falling snow.

Instead of feeling discouraged by our gardens being buried in snow, it’s time to rethink the winter season–it’s an opportunity to shift focus. Visual interest can be achieved by integrating ornamental grasses, trees and hardscaping. In fact, you’ll find these five tips will allow you to show off your property in an unexpected way. Rain, snow, sleet or shine!

A landscaped garden on a winters dayImage via Flickr @FourSeasonsGarden

1. Evergreens

Evergreens are a bit of a misnomer. Typically, they’re easy to identify as their foliage remains green year-round. However, evergreens can also be yellow, like the feathery Gold Thread False Cypress or semi-weeping Cypress Gold Mop. Plant either in full sun and they will turn a rich gold. In shady areas, the foliage will remain lime green. Evergreens can also be blue, like the blue spruce which is a popular choice for both accent and privacy screening. Evergreens are low-maintenance, resilient and offer staggering focal points in a yard or garden. A whimsical choice would be the Birds Nest spruce, a shrub that grows in a compact ball. It has a characteristic depression in its centre, like a bird’s nest. 

Boxwood hedge and English Boxwood will also ride out a heavy snow load and keep your garden green!

A forest on a winters dayImage via Flickr @wewon31

2. Bark

Depending on your province and growing zone, consider planting winter-blooming tree species. The Red Twig Dogwood remains blood red year-round, painting a remarkable contrast against the snow. It’s also a favoured addition to planter boxes to complement lengths of birch trees and cedar branches.

Ornamental trees like birch and sycamores offer texture, height while providing seeds and shelter for birds. 

Image via Flickr @KevinOliver

3. Hardscaping

There’s nothing hard about it, really! Hardscaping includes all the man-made features used in backyard design, balanced by vegetation. It includes pathways, stone walls, trellises, arbours and benches. Sculptures, colourful birdhouses and fire pits also act as strong visual cues of warmer days ahead! Outdoor lighting, playful potting sheds and treehouses make hardscaping flexible and easy. Visit your favourite parks and gardens for inspiration.

3 birds sitting on a winter tree in a snow fall. Image via Flickr @IngridTaylar

4. Berries

Birders and berries are simpatico. Tree and shrub varieties that bear berries will automatically attract overwintering birds (and early migrators come spring). Barberry and Cotoneaster are gorgeous considerations while the berries of the Mountain Ash will persist on the tree all winter. Birders (and birds) note the ‘Leonard Springer’ variety of ash is not popular on their menu.

The Snowdrift crabapple dazzles with a mass of snow-like flowers in early spring and the orange-red fruit hangs well into winter for wildlife to enjoy like a back alley food truck. Winterberry holly is also a pleasing choice and enjoyed indoors and out. The shrub loses its leaves in autumn to reveal thousands of bright berries that hang like holiday ornaments. Snowberry shrubs are loved for their white bulbs and berries which appear in autumn and last into winter.

An outdoor winter flower with a fresh bed of snow. Image via Flickr @anokarina

5. Four-season perennials

Perennials are like the bears of the plant world. They simply rest during the freeze/thaw cycle, but still add visual interest, especially if their seed heads are left intact. Sedum varieties like “Dragon’s Blood” turn red in autumn and add colour when winter’s white palette dominates.

Ornamental grasses are useful for privacy from neighbours and a natural accessory. Grasses left to stand throughout the winter also act as an abundant seed supply for birds. Sunflowers, asters and zinnias serve the same useful purpose.

Hellebores will surprise with a burst of colour sometimes as early as December while other perennials lie dormant. The Christmas Rose cultivar pops with white flowers that can turn deep pink throughout the winter.

Perennials that bounce back in spring in a bigger and better way include hostas, peonies (trim dead foliage in fall to ensure big blooms come spring), Wild Columbine and Bee Balm.

As you incorporate these ideas into your property, remember, the first day of spring is March 20, 2021. We’ll get there soon enough, so enjoy your revamped winter landscape—it’s the only time we don’t have to worry about weeds! 


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October was another busy month for Canadian home buyers and sellers. Housing activity across the country continued to increase from September into October, breaking yet another record!

Which begs the question: is this trend here to stay?

Download our October 2020 market snapshot.

“Many Canadian housing markets continue to see historically strong levels of activity, and at this point over and above what would have been required to make up for the very quiet spring market this year,” says Costa Poulopoulos, Chair of CREA.

At this rate, 2020 may set an annual record for sales activity! Check back next month to see if we’re still on track for a record-breaking year.

Remember, contact a REALTOR® for detailed information about your neighbourhood and its price trends.


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We’ve all heard the phrase “play is a child’s work,” and it’s true in every sense of the word. Play has shown positive contributions to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of young children. So why not embrace and support their need to play with a dedicated space they can call their own–a playroom!

Traditionally playrooms have been associated with bold colours, flashy patterns, and toys everywhere, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Whether you have a dedicated room or a sectioned-off corner, a fun, engaging, and design-friendly playroom is possible.

When planning your kid’s playroom there are several aspects to consider, from colour and storage to décor items and furniture. We’ll walk you through all the major decisions and help you pull together a playroom or area that’s fun for the kids but also speaks to the design sensibilities of adults.

A gender neutral play room with beiges and creams. Image via [AlmostMakesPerfect]

Colour palette and pattern

Playrooms often get a bad rep because of their loud, bold colours and patterns, which in an adult world, are anything but design friendly! Gender neutral playrooms are becoming the norm and offer the perfect balance of design and function. That’s not to say you can’t inject pattern and colour. Select one primary colour and run with it! Use it on an accent wall or furnishings (emerald sofa, yes please!). Bold patterns can also be incorporated on textiles such as pillows, curtains, and rugs. Then inject a bit of personality with a few accessories in a complementary colour. Kids toys, books, and crafts are already super colourful, so leaving the base of the room a little more neutral can make it feel adult-friendly.

A globe on a shelf with a floating shelf with childs toys. Image via []


No parent enjoys walking by a playroom and seeing toys thrown everywhere, which is why easy-to-access storage is key. The best storage solutions allow your kids to easily grab their toys, games, books, and crafting supplies as well as put them away. Cubby shelving is great as it can double as a space where favourite toys or items can be put on display. Fabric drawer inserts are also available for cubby-type shelving, which can hide and store large amounts of smaller toys like figurines or wooden blocks. Place baskets and totes made of fabric on the floor making it easy for young children to get to their toys. Storage ottomans, wicker baskets, and traditional toy boxes also make great options. 

A mom and her child playing with train tacks in a neutral children's playroom.


Kids are notoriously hard on floors. If it’s not toys being dropped from varying heights it’s spilled drinks and cookie crumbs, so you’ll want to consider the type of flooring in your playroom. If you’re renovating a room from the ground up select a durable and easy to clean flooring like linoleum, wood laminate or solid wood. If you’re simply looking to protect your floors use area rugs that can be laundered or are made of sturdy natural fibers. Patterns and prints can also help disguise the inevitable spills and stain. Foam playmats are also a great option. They are perfect for kids who love to tumble, not to mention they’re easy to clean.  

A large cozy pink poof in a neutral play setting with a tea party set.

Fabrics and textiles

Durability is the name of the game when it comes to selecting fabrics and textiles for a playroom. Opt for thick, tough fabrics on pillows, ottomans, and poufs as they will stand up to all the jumping, rolling and the occasional spill. If the space is large enough to include lounge furniture, like chairs and a couch, consider selecting a fabric that has a built-in stain guard or purchase slipcovers that can be removed and laundered as needed. 

Large pillows on the floor, in a room that has colourful animal wallpaper.

Kid-friendly furniture

Kids furniture has come a long way in terms of design, which means you’ll have an easier time finding pieces that match the aesthetic of your home while being safe and useful for your kids. Tables and chairs are a staple for any playroom as they can be used for everything from play to snack time. Lounge furniture like bean bag chairs, tot-sized couches, day beds, and oversized floor pillows offer up places for your kids to take a break. Bookshelves, cubbies, and toy storage that’s lower to the floor allow kids to access their toys, games and crafts without adult help. Kid-friendly doesn’t always mean the size of the furniture, it can also mean safety. Ensure all large furniture in your playroom, such as shelving, lighting, and art are properly secured to the walls to minimize tipping and falling.

Children's play zone with faux grass, trees and fence. Perfect with indoor picnics

Create zones

A playroom is more than a place to send your kids for an hour, it should encourage growth, ignite the imagination, increase dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Creating “zones” within your playroom can help encourage different types of play and activities.

A reading nook complete with floating bookshelves, oversized floor cushions, fluffy throw pillows, and comfy blankets is the perfect place for your kid to cozy up with a good book (or two) and unwind after a busy day of play. Whether it’s a mini play kitchen, canvas tentMontessori shelf or a tot-sized tool bench, setting aside a space for imaginative or pretend play can help your child express, explore and work out their own ideas, thoughts, and feelings. An active area with an indoor rock-climbing wall, a pikler triangle, indoor swing or slide can help those little ones release their energy and experiment with physical movement. A craft corner or art zone with tables, chairs, and easels will turn your little one into a Picasso in no time! Don’t forget to include a bulletin board for them to hang their masterpieces – after all, you don’t want all of them to make their way to your kitchen fridge!

Lastly, if your kids are older and video games are their guilty pleasure, set up a gaming zone with a small wall-mounted TV, gaming console, and a few gaming chairs

A childs play room with a painted mural on the wall of rolling hills, flowers and clouds.

Décor items

Using décor items and accessories is an excellent way to personalize and add character to a playroom. Wall decals are a low-commitment option as they can be swapped out or removed as your kids get older (or they move onto the next big thing!). Art can also liven up the space, just be sure to choose shatter-proof frames or opt for canvas artwork. Trendy wall hangings like pennants, woven textiles, faux taxidermy animal heads, and macrame add texture, colour, and a touch of whimsy. Lastly, fun wall lights or string lights can make any space shine and twinkle.

Tight on space?

Small space living doesn’t mean you have to forgo a playroom completely. Even the smallest spaces can allocate a corner, nook, or alcove to create an area for play. If you’re setting up a play area for your kids in their bedroom or in a common area such as a family room, a simple foam mat or colourful rug can help them differentiate “their space” versus “our space.” Or think outside the box (or room in this case). Any unused space can become a kid’s dream play area–a closet, empty space under your stairs or even a crawlspace can become a cozy place for play.

The playroom is by far the most fun room in the house, so make sure it can be enjoyed by you and your kids!


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You fell in love with your new home because of its commanding focal point: a cozy fireplace where you envisioned spending fall and winter evenings warming by the fire. But what if you love the flames but hate the crumbling brick, the dated brass hardware or the dirty stone? Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to glam up a tired fireplace to suit your design style. We asked two designers for tips–ranging from super-affordable to worth-the-splurge–to give your fireplace a much-need facelift.

Older fire place with paint cans, and renovation supplies.

Give it a fresh coat of paint

As long as your fireplace is in good shape structurally and is safe to use, the easiest and most budget-friendly option to transform both the tile and mantel lies in a can of paint, says ChilliwackBritish Columbia-based colour designer Maria Killam.

“When my sister and her husband bought a house, there was this really ugly 1970s orange, black and white brick fireplace, and I said, ‘We need to paint that right away!’ but they didn’t,” recalls Killam. “For years, nobody wanted to be in that room. Then, we finally redid the room and painted the fireplace white and it was absolutely transformational. White works best for a fireplace because it usually can be an extension of your trim colour.” 

Whether you go the all-white or all-black route, or you choose contrasting colours to make it pop, don’t forget to refinish your mantel, too, says Courtney Turk, president of Courtney Turk Interiors in Ottawa.

“If your mantel is made of solid wood, sand it down until any finishes are removed on the surface; this will help the paint adhere and last a lot longer,” says Turk. “With your tile surround, be sure to use a primer before applying your latex paint in your desired colour.”

To freshen up stone fireplaces, Killam leaves the latex paint behind.

“Chalk paint does miraculous things today; you can create this multi-dimensional look that’s whitish-grayish instead of just a solid painted stone,” she says. 

Fireplace that is under renovation to be refaced.

Cover a faded fireplace with another material

For a mid-range budgetary option, consider refacing your fireplace. You’ll get a completely new look without the huge mess and expense of a total tear-down. Try cladding the fireplace in reclaimed wood or cream millwork to add warm texture, or incorporate concrete to bring an industrial, contemporary vibe to the space. You can also purchase masonry veneers which look like brick or stone but are much thinner and lighter.  

“When it comes to stone or millwork for your fireplace, call in the pros or someone handy,” advises Turk. “Stone and tile require a wet saw to cut, which can be tricky.”

To cut down on costs, put up 12×12 tiles or an even border of stone around the fireplace, she adds.

“If you want a great DIY alternative, try using shiplap for the upper portion of the wall above your mantel. It’s relatively straightforward to install, and can easily transform a dated fireplace into something more modern and refined. Be sure to paint the shiplap and fireplace surround the same colour so that it flows as one cohesive unit.”

If you go the wood route, consult your local municipality–most building codes advise against installing combustible material within six inches of a working fireplace.

Other inexpensive refacing options include drywall, ceramic or porcelain tiles, stucco, concrete, or veneered stones–all can be affixed directly to your existing fireplace for a simple solution.

Antique fireplace inside a wall to be used in two rooms in a home.

Start from scratch

If your fireplace is traditional and your overall design scheme is ultra-modern, a can of paint probably won’t cut it. Sometimes a sledgehammer is the only choice, says Turk. 

“Depending on your personal style, I would suggest a full demo to create the fireplace of your dreams,” she says. “That may be a sleek marble surround or farmhouse shiplap incorporated with a live edge mantel.”

Other splurge-worthy materials include quartz, granite or exotic wood, as well as extending the entire fireplace up to the ceiling. You can also apply any of these tips to your outdoor fireplace, if you’re lucky enough to have one.

Revamped and updated mantel

Give your fireplace mantel some love, too

An updated fireplace won’t sing until you’ve also styled your mantel, says Turk. 

“Start with an anchor or large piece to ground the space and layer with asymmetrical vases and artwork,” she suggests. “Elevate the rest of the mantel with stacked books to create visual interest and finish off with some fresh greenery to complete the look.”

Killam suggests arranging a few picture frames, too.

“Don’t be afraid to get a bunch of accessories; you don’t know what’s going to look good until you bring it home and you can always return the rest.”

You can also dress up your fireplace with a spiffy new screen, or as Killam suggests, paint a dated brass screen or hardware using high heat black paint. 

No matter what your budget or style is, there’s a fireplace revamp that matches, so have some fun with this important design element.


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Ottawa, ON, October 15, 2020 – Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show national home sales set another record in September 2020.


  • National home sales rose 0.9% on a month-over-month (m-o-m) basis in September.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 45.6% year-over-year (y-o-y).
  • The number of newly listed properties fell back by 10.2% from August to September.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 1.3% m-o-m and was up 10.3% y-o-y.
  • The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average sale price posted a 17.5% y-o-y gain in September.

Home sales recorded over Canadian MLS® Systems edged up a further 0.9% between August and September, raising them to yet another new all-time monthly record.

The small change from August to September had under its surface a mixed bag of results with about 60% of local markets seeing gains. Increases in Ottawa, Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Calgary and Hamilton-Burlington sales were mostly offset by declines in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Montreal; although, activity in the two largest Canadian markets is still historically very strong.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity posted a 45.6% y-o-y gain in September. It was a new record for the month of September by a margin of some 20,000 transactions, the equivalent of a normal month of September with an entire month of December tacked on. Sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to September 2019.

So far this year, some 402,578 homes have traded hands over Canadian MLS® Systems, up 5.8% from the first nine months of 2019.

“Many Canadian housing markets are continuing to see historically strong levels of activity as we enter into the fall market of this very strange year,” stated Costa Poulopoulos, Chair of CREA. “Along with historic supply shortages in a number of regions, fierce competition among buyers has been putting upward pressure on home prices. Much of that was pent-up demand from the spring that came forward as our economies opened back up over the summer. With second wave worries growing, we will remain vigilant in adhering to government and health officials’ directives to keep our clients safe. Now as always, REALTORS® remain the best source for information and guidance when negotiating the sale or purchase of a home,” continued Poulopoulos.

“This is starting to sound like a broken record (about records being broken), but Canadian home sales and prices set records once again in September amid record-tight overall market conditions, as they did in July and August,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist. “Reasons have been cited for this – pent-up demand from the lockdowns, Government support to date, ultra-low interest rates, and the composition of job losses to name a few. I would also remind everyone that sales were almost setting records and markets were almost this tight back in February so we were already close to where things are now, as far away from Goldilocks territory as we had ever been before,” added Cathcart. “But I think another wildcard factor to consider, which has no historical precedent, is the value of one’s home during this time. Home has been our workplace, our kids’ schools, the gym, the park and more. Personal space is more important than ever.”

The number of newly listed homes fell back by 10.2% in September, reversing the surge to record levels seen in August. New supply was down in two-thirds of local markets, led by declines in and around Vancouver and the GTA.

With sales edging up in September and new supply dropping back, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 77.2% — the highest in almost 20 years and the third-highest monthly level on record for the measure.

Based on a comparison of sales-to-new listings ratio with long-term averages, about a third of all local markets were in balanced market territory, measured as being within one standard deviation of their long-term average. The other two-thirds of markets were above long-term norms, in many cases well above.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between sales and the supply of listings. It represents how long it would take to liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were just 2.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of September 2020 – the lowest reading on record for this measure. At the local market level, a number of Ontario markets are now into weeks of inventory rather than months. Much of the province of Ontario is close to or under one month of inventory.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) rose by 1.3% m-o-m in September 2020.

CREA is pleased to welcome a large number of Ontario markets to the MLS® HPI this month. The list includes Bancroft and Area, Brantford Region, Cambridge, Grey Bruce Owen Sound, Huron Perth, Kawartha Lakes, Kitchener-Waterloo, the Lakelands (Muskoka-Haliburton-Orillia-Parry Sound), London & St. Thomas, Mississauga, North Bay, Northumberland Hills, Peterborough and the Kawarthas, Quinte & District, Simcoe & District, Southern Georgian Bay, Tillsonburg District and Woodstock-Ingersoll.

Of the 39 markets now tracked by the index, all but two were up between August and September.

The non-seasonally adjusted Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was up 10.3% on a y-o-y basis in September – the biggest gain since August 2017.

The largest y-o-y gains in the 22-23% range were recorded in Bancroft and Area, Quinte & District, Ottawa and Woodstock-Ingersoll.

This was followed by y-o-y price gains in the range of 15-20% in Barrie, Hamilton, Niagara, Guelph, Brantford, Cambridge, Grey Bruce-Owen Sound, Huron Perth, the Lakelands, London & St. Thomas, North Bay, Simcoe & District, Southern Georgian Bay, Tillsonburg District and Montreal.

Prices were up in the 10-15% range compared to last September in the GTA, Oakville-Milton, Kawartha Lakes, Kitchener-Waterloo, Mississauga, Northumberland Hills, Peterborough and the Kawarthas, and Greater Moncton.

Meanwhile, y-o-y price gains were around 5% in Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan Valley, Regina, Saskatoon and Quebec City. Gains were about half that in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island, as well and in St. John’s, and prices were more or less flat y-o-y in Calgary and Edmonton.

The MLS® HPI provides the best way to gauge price trends because averages are strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average home price set another record in September 2020, topping the $600,000 mark for the first time ever at more than $604,000. This was up 17.5% from the same month last year.

The national average price is heavily influenced by sales in Greater Vancouver and the GTA, two of Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations cuts around $125,000 from the national average price.

– 30 –

PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this news release combines both major market and national sales information from MLS® Systems from the previous month.

CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.

MLS® Systems are co-operative marketing systems used only by Canada’s real estate Boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry associations, representing more than 130,000 REALTORS® working through 90 real estate boards and associations.

Further information can be found at

For the original article, see: The CREA website at 

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Whether your children are in elementary school, secondary school, or university, one thing is for sure, there will be homework. Your child’s learning environment can have a significant impact on the quality of their study time and academic success. A space that’s dull, filled with clutter, uncomfortable, and too noisy just won’t do. Here’s how you can set your child up for success by creating a functional space, study nook, or homework zone that can help increase productivity, information retention,and has minimal distractions.

Find the right location

Location, location! Do not underestimate the importance of the location of your child’s study space. Look for a space in your home that’s quiet, private, and free of potential distractions. A spare or unused room would be an excellent place to start, but if you’re like most homeowners, space often comes at a premium. Think creatively as you walk through your home. Do you have a closet that could be converted into a homework station? Is there room for an extra desk in your personal home office? Can you find a quiet corner in your living room, library, dining room, or basement? It’s all about getting creative with the space you have and making it work for your child.

Regardless of the location, consistency is key in making the study nook effective. Don’t let your child move about the house, doing homework at the kitchen table one night and reading on the couch the next. Creating a routine and habit of sitting at the homework station will help build an association with that space, so when your child sits down, they know it’s time for business!

The key elements of an effective study space

Any space can be instantly transformed into a comfortable place to study with just a few essentials: a desk, chair, lighting, and storage.

  1. Desk: A desk is the foundation of any workspace. Ensuring it’s the right size for your child will encourage them to stay put and be comfortable. You want the top of the desk to sit somewhere between your child’s waist and lower ribcage when they are seated, allowing elbows to comfortably sit on top, minimizing hunching and slouching. Attention should also be paid to the size of the top. It needs to be big enough to accommodate textbooks, notebooks, tablet/laptop, and accessories, while not being so large it will just gather clutter.
  2. Chair: If you’ve ever sat in an uncomfortable chair you know how hard it is to focus on anything else. A good, high-quality chair will not only help your child concentrate on the task at hand, but also alleviate and reduce problems that can affect other parts of the body, like the neck, back, wrists, and hands. Use an adjustable chair or one that’s made specifically to be paired with your chosen desk.
  3. Lighting: While natural light is ideal, it’s not always feasible if the study space is located in a basement, closet, or corner. Ensure the workspace has at least two sources of light, including ambient lighting (ceiling lights) and task lighting (a desk lamp). The level of lighting is also a factor to consider; too bright and it can cause headaches, too low and it can cause eye strain.
  4. Storage: Mess and clutter can be a real distraction for your child, pulling their focus from their work and slowing their productivity. Reduce the disruption by storing all study essentials out of sight or away from their desk. Bookshelves are key for storing books and binders, while desk drawers or cabinets can hold paper, pens, scissors, and such. Just keep in mind, all tools should be within reach, so they’re not constantly asking you for help retrieving items.

Study supplies

Look at your child’s syllabus or supply list from school and stock their space with the necessary and age-appropriate supplies they need to complete their studies. Ensure they have a variety of paper including plain, lined, and construction, writing utensils such as pens, pencils, erasers, markers, and crayons, as well as other miscellaneous items like rulers, staplers, sharpeners, a calculator, scissors, and sticky-notes. A large whiteboard calendar is a great investment as it allows your child to track homework assignments, tests, reminders, or class events. It also helps you see at a glance what the month ahead holds. Lastly, if your child has trouble concentrating, concentration tools can also be helpful. Consider including a fidget spinner, squishy/stress ball, or silly putty for them to hold while they work.

Design to inspire

Just because this space is dedicated to learning doesn’t mean it needs to be sterile and boring– after all, it’s a place you want your child to feel inspired and productive. Consider letting your child pick out a few personal items to decorate the space–posters, family photos, and wall decals are a good place to start. Take a trip to the dollar or craft store and let them select colourful dividers, patterned file folders, and fun containers for their pencils, crayons, and other miscellaneous items. Some small faux plants can also add warmth and liveliness to the space. A few personal touches and your child will feel at ease and ready to study in their space.

Tips for children who are doing virtual learning

Given the current situation around COVID-19, some parents are opting for virtual learning, meaning their child’s study nook or space will be occupied all day, every day. Here are a few additional tips for children who are going the virtual route.

  1. Do your best to eliminate distractions: If the study area is in a shared space (like a dining room or living room) consider investing in a simple room divider that can help compartmentalize the space; a good investment if you’re planning to stick to virtual learning for the foreseeable future.
  2. Be aware of your background: In most virtual learning scenarios, the use of a webcam will be required. Be aware of what is visible behind your child when attending class. You don’t want it to be too distracting, inappropriate, or embarrassing.
  3. Establish a routine and stick to it: Once your child has their syllabus, help them make a study schedule and fill in any key dates on their calendar or whiteboard. Teach them to reference the calendar and schedule at the start of the day so they’re prepared. Getting into a routine will increase the chances of success.
  4. Don’t forget about nutrition and movement breaks: Encourage your child to get up and fully leave their space for breaks. This will continue to reinforce the fact the space is for schoolwork only.

Setting up a dedicated space for your child to study and learn will ensure their success for the school year ahead, and it’s not as hard or complicated as you might think.


For the original article: 

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You probably already know it’s important to stay on track when renovating your home – getting multiple bids and references for reputable contractors and researching everything in advance helps you make smart design and construction choices. However, many homeowners get swept up, up and away the moment a wall comes down or the flooring is pulled up. You see, that’s when a sneaky little thing called scope creep rears its ugly head, threatening to toss your budget and your schedule straight out the window. 

It goes something like this: “Hmm, while we’re at it, shouldn’t we also convert the attic into a gaming room and wire the whole house for a potential home theatre system?” Or, “Hey, I know we planned to match the new hardwood floor to our existing one, but while we’re at it, let’s rip everything out and lay new flooring.”

Before you add things to your contractor’s list, consider this: Changing your mind mid-way through a project has consequences, and last-minute decisions are often the wrong ones. These moves can add lengthy delays that annoy your neighbours, too. We spoke with two REALTORS® who are also general contractors about how you can stick with your plans (and your budget) without sacrificing the beautiful home you want.

Understand the big picture

Good contractors will take the time to walk you through your project’s timeline and workflow, says Matthew Watson, a REALTOR® and contractor with Real Estate and Rejuvenate in Calgary. That includes understanding how every new request during the project triggers changes in the schedule and the budget.

“When you have a contractor you trust, they’ll lay out all the options in detail, and leave it up to you,” explains Watson.

Figure out your must-haves vs. your wish-we-could-haves

Before anyone swings a sledgehammer, your contractor can help you prioritize the project components, says Ali Shakeri, a chartered real estate broker with Ramier Realty and president of Eco-Nature Construction in Montreal

“I’ve seen ‘while we’re at it’ getting homeowners into a lot of trouble; small projects get turned into huge ones,” says Shakeri, who recommends thinking about how long you plan to stay in your home and tabulating your needs based on that principle.

“I always separate their list into ‘must-haves’ or ‘nice-to-haves’, with an estimate next to each item.”

Once you can see how far your budget will go, it’s easier to make smart decisions. 

Know the difference between a tweak and an overhaul

It’s one thing to swap out a bathroom faucet or add in a skylight if you’re already re-doing your roof. It’s quite another to request a two-story bay window, as Watson’s client recently did.

“If you have $70,000, I could absolutely throw in that bay window,” he told them.

“First, we’d have to bring in a structural engineer, then we’d have to redo your plans. By the time we open up the structural walls, re-support and tie that into your roof, we’re redoing your roof and exterior walls, plus insulation. Then, your flooring won’t match.”

Ask for do-or-die deadlines

Let’s say you can’t decide on paint colours. That’s OK, as long as you’re aware the painters have been booked for a specific time slot, says Watson. 

“Most major projects subcontract some work, so your contractor should have the foresight to explain when your painters are coming in and that you can only change your mind until such-and-such a date,” he says. 

Missing that window can push tradespeople off your project, because they’ll move on to something else, delaying your schedule.

Keep your contingency for unexpected problems, not last-minute add-ons

Some homeowners figure since their renovation budget includes money set aside for problems that crop up during the construction phase, those funds can instead be used for extras. For example, one homeowner asked Watson for a screened-in porch. After all, the existing remodel was going smoothly, so why not add this seemingly simple thing?

“His existing balcony was 10-feet off the ground, and his railing wasn’t to code. By law, as soon as I touch that railing, I have to bring everything up to the current building code, otherwise it’s not safe, and I’m liable,” explains Watson. 

We get it: It’s sometimes challenging to avoid the temptation of adding on more projects during your remodel when so much is going on around you. That’s why working with your REALTOR® and a certified contractor right from the beginning can help your renovations run smoothly, with less stress and fewer unexpected expenses. Trust their experience and advice, and you’ll end up with a lovely home and not added surprises.


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While design trends come and go, there’s one item we can be sure won’t be making an appearance in our living rooms again: the tube TV. While the big and bulky televisions of our childhoods have been replaced with more minimal options, that flatscreen TV can still be an eyesore in your home. That’s why we’re sharing six creative ways to stylishly hide your TV. 

Would you guess there’s a flatscreen hiding behind that stylish map and console setup? To achieve this look, Karen Rollman sourced a pull down map (try searching for pull down art) to transform her TV room into a stylish living space. The result is clean, stylish and functional. 

If your TV is above a fireplace mantle, another option is to lean a mirror, framed picture (or both) on the wall in front of your TV for a layered look that hides your TV. The fireplace mantle is a focal point in your room, and its visual esthetic is lessened by having the television front and centre; hiding it behind a stylish mirror or piece of art is a great way to improve the look of your space.  

Splurge on the ultimate flatscreen 

While this option isn’t cheap, it’s worth considering if a new flat screen is in the budget. Doubling as a TV and a piece of art, televisions like Samsung’s The Frame and LG’s OLED models can display digital artwork when not being used for watching news or Netflix. Similar to a framed picture, these television models mount completely flat against the wall, hiding eyesores like brackets and other hardware. Depending on size, the cost ranges from about $1,400 to $4,000.

Make your TV part of a gallery wall 

Instead of drawing attention away from your TV, this option embraces your flatscreen as part of the main focal point in a room. To build a gallery wall around your TV, The Crafted Life recommends using tape to outline your TV and console before moving it out of the way. Next, lay out your artwork on the floor (use a piece of paper, cardboard or tape outline to represent the TV) and play around with how different colours and frame sizes fit together. When you’re happy with the layout, use tape to outline where each picture will go on the wall before hanging your pieces. 

Paint the TV wall a darker colour 

Clean and neutral walls are in style, but hanging a big, black TV in the centre of your white wall is sure to be an eyesore. To help draw attention away from your TV, consider painting an accent wall in a darker colour that won’t contrast as much with your television. Without the need for any hardware or holes in the wall, this is a budget-friendly option for renters looking for a quick fix.  

Opt for no TV with a screen and projector

If your TV is mainly reserved for movie nights or sporting events, consider opting for a screen and projector instead of a traditional television. With this option, you can quickly set up a big screen TV experience that can be packed away when it’s not being used. Screens and projectors are available in a range of options depending on your budget and the size of your room. Whether you install a retractable screen or opt for a freestanding screen, this option offers an easy way to turn any room into a multifunctional entertainment space.

Hide it behind barn doors 

Hide your TV and transform the look of your room by installing sliding barn doors. Big box retailers like Home Depot or Lowes offer sliding barn doors complete with hardware and hanging instructions in a range of colours and costs. For a true rustic or vintage look, try searching your local online marketplaces (Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace) for used barn doors that will fit your space.

Although a must-have item in most homes, your television doesn’t have to be an eyesore. With a little bit of creativity and a DIY attitude you can hide away your TV and transform your room into a multifunctional space that doesn’t compromise on style.


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From staggeringly low sales numbers in the spring, to a breakneck summer recovery, Canada’s real estate market has felt like a roller coaster ride these last few months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to broader economic turmoil and uncertainty in the early days of the pandemic, Canada’s central bank cut its mortgage-market influencing key interest rate to the lowest level it says is possible. Many economists watching the central bank closely say these low rates will be here for a long time.

In August, the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark mortgage rate fell for the third time in 2020, decreasing from 4.94% in May down to 4.79%. Now, mortgage rates stand at their lowest point in recent history. For current and aspiring mortgage holders, the gradual drop is one of the latest changes that has expanded buying power and increased housing affordability.

“It’s a wonderful time to be a borrower and to either be a first-time home buyer and require a mortgage, or someone who currently has a mortgage or who’s mortgage is up for renewal,” says Justin Thouin, co-founder and CEO of “Both fixed and variable rates are as low as we can ever remember.”

Whether you’re looking to obtain your first mortgage, or make changes to your existing one because of these low rates, there’s a lot to unpack before you commit. Thouin, along with mortgage broker and owner of Platform Mortgage, Renée Stribbell, break down what Canada’s low mortgage rates mean for current and future homeowners.

What historically low rates mean for new home buyers

If you’re looking to purchase your first home, today’s low mortgage rates can add a valuable discount.

Thanks to the drop in the mortgage stress test qualifying rate—now 4.79%—buyer purchasing power has increased a little bit, by about $3,000 to $4,000 or so, Stribble explains. For a first-time home buyer, a few thousand dollars might not make a huge difference, but it can definitely help. However, Stribble says the real cost-savings lie in regular mortgage payments.

Stribble uses the example of a $400,000 mortgage with an amortization period of 25 years.

At a rate of 2.79%, monthly payments would have cost about $1,850. However, with a new rate of 1.84% before offered by some lenders, the same mortgage payment would drop to around $1,663, saving the homeowner about $187 per month with a less than one percentage point drop in rates.

Both Thouin and Stribble have noticed a drastic uptick in clients wanting to seize the opportunity to lock in lower rates—cheaper mortgages, pent-up demand from the spring and a fear of missing out are all contributing to the rush of home buyers during the pandemic.  

“There’s still reasonable prices and because the rates are so low, that same house on a monthly basis is costing them less money so people are absolutely taking advantage of it right now,” says Stribble.

Despite the benefits lower mortgage rates can provide in helping more Canadians get into the housing market, Thouin cautions buyers shouldn’t use these savings to take on more debt than they can afford. He says these low rates should be with us for some time, possibly for the next two to three years, so there’s no need to rush into making a home purchase.

“I don’t think that these low rates are enough of a game changer that everybody and their neighbour should be going and buying a home,” says Thouin. “In many cases, the best financial decision is to rent and to take some of your other money and put it into the market, into a tax-free savings account or an RRSP.”

What historically low rates mean for current mortgage holders

For those who are already settled into a mortgage, breaking your current term or changing mortgage providers completely for a lower rate may be a tempting proposition.

Thouin and Stribble say it may be worth having a conversation with your mortgage broker or bank to determine if a switch is right for you. Your mortgage professional can use calculators and rate comparables to decide if the penalties incurred by breaking your current mortgage agreement will be worth it in the long term, as well as provide information on your up-to-date mortgage balance.

“It’s worth the conversation,” says Stribble. “Will it be worth it to do? It’s really best to have that individual conversation with each person.”

Stribble explains there are a few key elements to consider when exploring the idea of leaving your mortgage term for a lower rate. For starters, breaking your mortgage comes with a penalty. If the penalty is significant, Stribble says you’ll want to make sure you have money set aside to pay that fee, as it’s not always factored into the mortgage. Occasionally, for clients who have renewed early, the payout penalty from the lender may be halved.

If you’re looking to swap lenders or renew early, Stribble also says there will be a qualification process, which will examine your credit, income and employment. If you decided to defer your mortgage payments because of COVID-19, your credit history should not be affected, explains Stribble, but lenders typically want to see the mortgage back on repayment.

“We’ve been noticing that both lenders want us to have it on repayment, so that can be a challenge,” says Stribble. “If you are waiting to go back to work because you were temporarily laid off with regards to COVID, then they’d want to see you back to work.” If you’re weighing your options on whether to move, refinance or start your first mortgage, remember the expert advice of a trusted REALTOR® can help to guide you through the process.


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Laundry—love it or hate it, we all spend time separating, folding, ironing and scrubbing. Although the laundry room is a space we use regularly, it’s often not given the same attention as other rooms in the home. Whether it’s a tiny space in a tucked away corner, a dedicated room or anything in between, there are plenty of simple ways to turn your laundry room into a space that’s functional, enjoyable and even Instagram-worthy. From a total overhaul to a few simple DIYs, take a few tips from our suggestions below and turn your laundry room into a space you love. 

1. Define the space with paint or wall decals 

For an easy and affordable way to add interest and define your laundry room, consider using peel and stick wall decals or paint. Wall decals offer a no-commitment option for renters or homeowners looking to make a big impact on a small budget. Don’t be afraid to choose something fun or bold to help make your laundry room a space you won’t want to hide away. 

2. Get organized with containers

Swapping out that orange bottle of Tide for a pretty and practical container is another budget-friendly way to transform your laundry room. Transferring laundry room must-haves like dryer sheets, laundry tabs and clothes pegs into stylish containers will instantly transform your laundry room into an organized and stylish space. You’ll find containers in a range of sizes at most dollar stores, department stores or discount home stores. 

3. Add open storage shelves 

If storage space is lacking in your laundry room, adding open shelving is an easy DIY project you can do in just a few hours. Not only are open shelves trendy, they’re more affordable and easier to install than traditional cabinets. In addition to shelves, brackets and hardware (check your local hardware store or IKEA), all you need is a drill, level and stud finder. When installed, you’ll have more space to display those new containers hiding your laundry soap and other trinkets. 

4. Raise your washer and dryer 

If you have a side-by-side front loading washer and dryer, you’re probably getting tired of bending over to load and unload. To add storage space and save your back, consider adding a laundry pedestal or riser to raise your washer and dryer. Some manufacturers make pedestals fit for your specific washer (check big box hardware stores like Home Depot). For a more affordable option, there are plenty of DIY plans available to help you build a platform or riser on a budget. 

5. Add a foldable or drop-down drying rack 

If a chair, couch or railing has become your go-to drying rack, it’s time for a better solution. If you have enough wall space, a drop-down drying rack can add ample room to dry your delicates without taking up any storage space. If you’re lacking wall space, a foldable wire rack or clip-and-drip style hanger can be easily tucked away when not in use. 

6. Add a folding station 

Make the most tedious laundry task a little more enjoyable by adding a folding station to your laundry room. While front loading side-by-side machines already have a flat surface for folding, adding a counter top like a butcher block or kitchen-style counter will quickly transform the look of your laundry room. 

If you have stacked or top-loading machines, consider adding a folding space that doubles as extra storage. For example, a counter-height dresser or repurposed baby change table provides space for folding and storage for other laundry items. Keep family member’s clothes organized by adding baskets for each person to your folding station. 

7. Consider smart appliances

Always forgetting to move your clothes from the washer to the dryer? If new appliances are part of your laundry room makeover, consider investing in a smart washer and dryer. Smart laundry machines can remind you when it’s time to switch a load of laundry and let you know when your washer or dryer needs maintenance. Plus, some smart laundry machines can be integrated into your connected home to help track energy usage and save on costs. 

There’s no reason the often neglected laundry room can’t become a calm, organized and Instagram-worthy room. With a couple DIY projects and simple organizational tips, you can transform your laundry room into a space you’ll love, even if you still hate folding.


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Keeping our homes in tip-top shape—while looking stunning—is a point of pride for many homeowners. Painting your home’s exterior, an important maintenance project, allows you to help preserve your home’s value and boost curb appeal, while creating an opportunity to express your personality through colour. Exterior painting is quite different from interior, so let’s take a look at what this entails!

Why is this important? 

Exterior painting keeps your home looking fresh and vibrant, and protects against weather and degradation, while prolonging the life of its underlying materials. It’s also an excellent opportunity to get up close to detect any damage, wear, or rot you might not otherwise notice—a tactic that can save on costly repairs in the long-term. 

Painting tips

Test your colour palette

Choosing the right colour combination for your home is not always an easy decision. Favourite colours may not translate or combine well in practice. Thankfully, many paint manufacturers offer visualization tools allowing you to test out different colours using a photo of your home. Here are some examples:

Choose the right paint for the job

Since not all exterior paints are created equal, it’s important to select your paint according to its application. For instance, oil-based paints are optimal for doors, trim, faucets, fixtures and wrought iron elements, while acrylic/latex paint is recommended for wood, vinyl or metal siding. Just keep in mind even though oil-based paint can be applied over a water-based paint, the reverse is not the case. Another exterior option is masonry paint, which allows brick to ‘breathe’ better giving it a longer lifetime.  

Buy enough paint

Painting the outside of your home requires a sufficient volume of paint in order to cover the entire surface area—ideally you’re looking at two to three coats of paint to avoid bubbling due to moisture. In addition to the visualization tools, retailers and brands offer volume calculators (like this one at Home Hardware) so you can get an accurate read on how many cans of paint you should plan for. You can also estimate based on a single gallon (3.8L) covering approximately 400ft(122m2).

Paint in ideal weather conditions

It’s best to avoid rainy or humid weather conditions when painting your home’s exterior and the paint experts at Benjamin Moore recommend you do not paint in temperatures below 4.4ºC. It’s also advisable to avoid high temperatures and direct sunlight, as these conditions cause the paint to dry too quickly. Your chosen paint brand will also have specific weather-related information on its label.

Watch out for lead

If your home was built before 1978, there’s a chance lead-based exterior paint was used. You can use an instant lead test, available from your local hardware or paint store, and if detected, special precautions are necessary to protect from lead dust during painting prep.

Consider hiring a pro

It’s a good idea to evaluate whether this is a project you can manage. It’s a time-consuming undertaking involving safety risks, precision, and a keen eye for details. If you decide to hire a professional, be sure to get multiple quotes from different pros, check their references and previous work and be mindful of how much and when you make payments, as recommended by Consumer Reports.

Gear up

If you plan on flexing your DIY muscles for this project, then you’ll need to obtain the following tools and materials:

  • A ladder (extension or multi-use are best)
  • Pressure washer
  • Masking tape (also called painter’s tape)
  • Drop cloths
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint sprayer
  • Paint roller (if you decide not to use a sprayer)
  • Paint pail with roller grid
  • Paint scraper
  • Plastic sheeting to cover windows, fixtures, and trim
  • Paint thinner if you’re using oil-based paints
  • Paint primer
  • Paint (of course!)
  • Caulk gun with exterior caulking
  • Epoxy filler for gaps and gouges
  • Medium grain sanding block
  • Mortar (for brick homes)
  • Steel bristle brush if you’re repainting wrought iron

The process

  1. Pressure wash your home’s exterior.
  2. Repair surface damage—use epoxy to fill gaps and replace any rotted materials.
  3. Re-mortar where needed between bricks (if applicable).
  4. Remove loose paint and old caulking.
  5. Apply fresh caulking to your trim.
  6. Apply primer to stains—this ensures your new paint will adhere to these spots.
  7. Use the tape and plastic sheeting to protect your doors, windows, trim, and fixtures.
  8. Use drop cloths to cover up any bushes, gardens or other objects below where you will paint.
  9. Use your sprayer to paint the exterior.
  10. Apply a second and, if necessary, a third coat of paint after each application has dried.
  11. Remove the coverings from your doors, windows, trim and fixtures and apply masking tape around them.
  12. Paint the trim, fixtures, doors or windows as desired.
  13. Bask in the results of your hard work—you did an amazing job!

There’s no arguing the size and complexity of this type of project, nor its long-term benefits. Any project that keeps your home looking gorgeous while prolonging its life is always worth the effort. If you’re ready for more curb appeal-boosting projects, check out these outdoor lighting ideas, or add some striking autumn colours to your gardens.


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Cooler temperatures and pretty soon falling leaves serve as a reminder that the fall season is fast approaching. As the seasons change, so do our activities and home needs. Even though summer is not quite over yet, it’s a good time to do some seasonal maintenance to keep your home running smoothly. The weather can change quickly, especially if you live in a colder climate and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. A bit of attention now will save costly repairs and aggravation later.

Interior Maintenance

  1. Check for drafts. Feel for drafts around the edges of windows and doors. A good tip is to use a lighted candle and if the flame flickers, there’s most likely a draft. If necessary, replace seals and repair caulking around window and door frames. Consider buying heavier or insulated drapery for especially drafty windows.
  2. Have your furnace inspected. Hire an HVAC professional to test for leaks, check heating efficiency, and change the filter. They can also do a carbon monoxide check to ensure air safety. It’s also a good idea to stock up on extra air filters and change them every few months.
  3. Winterize air conditioning. If your home has central air conditioning, (and you live in a climate where you won’t need it any longer,) it may be necessary to cover your outdoor unit for winter. If you use window air conditioning units, remove them or cover to prevent air leaks.
  4. Programmable thermostat. Buy a programmable thermostat, if you don’t have one. If you already have one, check the temperature settings. Setting your thermostat to lower the temperature automatically at night and when you’re not home, can result in substantial cost savings.
  5. Test home safety devices. Replace the batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices and test to make sure they’re working properly.
  6. Clean humidifiers. Replace old filters and clean inside compartment. Vinegar is inexpensive and works well.

Exterior Maintenance

  1. Do a roof check. You should be able to do at least a visual inspection of the roof from the ground. Grab some binoculars to get a closer look or if you’re able and can do so safely, climb on up for a better view. Look for missing, damaged, or loose shingles. If your roof is flat, you may need to remove leaves and debris.
  2. Check the chimney and fireplace. If you have a wood fireplace and use it often, have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional.
  3. Stock up on firewood. Order enough firewood for the season. If you gather your own firewood, make sure it’s dry and ready. It’s best to cover firewood and store away from the house for safety reasons.
  4. Inspect siding. Check home exterior for cracks or holes. Repair them yourself or hire a professional.
  5. Clean the gutters. Hire a service to clear your gutters or do it yourself. Remove leaves, nests, and debris from gutters and check for leaks.
  6. Check water drainage. Rainwater downspouts need to be clear of obstructions and direct water away from foundations, walkways, and driveways. Add extensions to downspouts if necessary.
  7. Reinforce windows and doors. Remove screens and install storm windows and doors if you use them. Check caulk and seals around all doors and windows.
  8. Turn off faucets and store hoses. Drain garden hoses and disconnect from the outside spigots. Shut off exterior faucets, and if you have an older home, you may need to turn off the valve inside your home. Store hoses in a dry place so any residual water won’t freeze.
  9. Service sprinklers and irrigation system. Depending on your climate, your irrigation system may need to be drained and checked. Have a professional perform any necessary repairs and mark sprinkler heads near snow removal areas.
  10. Inspect trees. Check for damaged limbs that may break or that are too close to power lines or the roof.
  11. Trim landscaping. Cut back bushes, shrubs, and flowers as recommended for your climate zone.
  12. Bring in flowerpots. If you keep plants or flower in pots year-round, bring them inside. If you replace plants every year, empty, clean, dry pots and put away for next spring.
  13. Plant bulbs. If you plant bulbs for spring, now’s the time to get them in the ground.
  14. Leaf removal. Rake and remove leaves from the yard. Put into a compost pile if you have one. Alternatively, put into yard garbage bags and leave at the curb for community pick up. Check with your local city or town for requirements and pick up schedules.
  15. Fertilize lawn. Applying fall lawn fertilizer will help prevent winter damage and spring weeds. Ask a local garden center or check online to find out which type of fertilizer you need and when to apply it. If you have a lawn service, they should do this for you.
  16. Put away seasonal furniture. Clean and store seasonal outdoor furniture. Remove and clean cushions. Wash and dry furniture and store in a dry place over winter.
  17. Close the pool. If you have a pool and live in an area where temperatures dip, schedule a service to come and close it for the season or if you know how, buy the supplies and do it yourself.
  18. Organize the shed. As your shed is filling up with summer items in storage it’s a good time to organize and clean out the shed. Move summer items to the back and winter stuff up front for better access. Also, remove any liquids that will freeze.

In the Garage

  1. Service summer power equipment. Empty fuel and clean lawnmower and trimmer. Have lawnmower blades sharpened and oil changed. Have any necessary repairs done now, so that you’re ready come spring.
  2. Store summer vehicles. If you have a motorcycle, summer car, ATV or other type seasonal vehicle, now’s a good time to have that serviced as well.
  3. Get winter equipment ready. Service snow blower and make sure it is ready to go, especially if you live in an unpredictable climate.
  4. Test the generator. If you have an emergency generator for power outages, give it a test, and make sure it’s in good working order.
  5. Buy extra gasoline. Purchase extra gas to have on hand for use in your snow blower or generator, so you’re prepared for emergencies. Make sure you store gasoline in tanks away from fire sources and out of children’s reaches.
  6. Clean the garage. Since you’re in the garage prepping for fall, you might as well purge, organize and clean it while you’re there!

As you’re enjoying the last bits of summer, make sure that your home is prepared for the coming fall season. Preventative maintenance now will save money on expensive emergency repairs and wasted energy costs. Properly maintaining your home also enhances its value and appeal and is less effort than managing a crisis later. When the chilly weather approaches you and your home will be ready.

Source:  LifeHack

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Under normal circumstances, putting your property on the market in the fall can be an overwhelming process, even for an experienced homeowner. This year may feel especially daunting given the unknowns surrounding the pandemic and market stability. 

A slow spring gave way to a promising summer real estate market. In July the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reported national home sales bounced back from their pandemic-induced springtime lows, rising 26% month-over-month. If this recovery momentum continues, the typically busier fall season could see a wave of homeowners listing their properties with plenty of buyers waiting to snap them up. 

If you count yourself among the owners looking to list before the end of the year, we’re here to provide you with a few key steps you can take to prepare ahead of time. 

Adil Dinani, founder and principal of the Vancouver-based Dinani Real Estate Advisors at Royal LePage West Real Estate Services, shares his plans for getting your home ready to list this fall. 

Keep your finger on the pulse

With markets shifting as a result of the coronavirus, it’s important to continue monitoring what’s going on and to respond accordingly. According to Dinani, make sure your listing agent has a pulse on not only the area they serve, but the overall base market and other emerging trends. For instance, if you’re selling a single-family home, your REALTOR® should be able to pinpoint if there’s a rise in buyers selling condominiums and moving to your neighbourhood, and how your listing should target that audience. 

“We’re seeing new trends now and that movement towards detached [homes] with a yard. [You should] know where the buyers are coming from in the area,” says Dinani. 

At the moment, Dinani says constrained supply may point to a seller’s market in fall 2020, but there’s still too many variables at play to know for sure in advance. In the latest market data released by CREA, the number of newly listed properties jumped 7.6% from June to July.

In June, the national average home price reached $539,000, a 6.5% year-over-year increase, according to CREA. Prices are expected to continue to remain stable and buyers who have been locked down in their homes are likely to be motivated to move to a space that’s more suitable for their needs in the fall. 

Whatever the case may be down the line, REALTORS® should be up to date with the market. 

“Our job, in our position as REALTORS®, is to be on top of everything that is happening, and what’s happening with the data, what’s happening with the stats, sales and prices, and keep our clients apprised as to when is the best time to sell their home,” says Dinani.

Have a plan in place

Don’t fly by the seat of your pants—it’s good to plan ahead for the safety and well-being of everyone. Dinani explains your REALTOR® should set protocol for how each showing and open house will play out according to local public health guidelines. For instance, his team prepares each property for showing by arriving early, providing a thorough cleaning, and opening all interior doors to prevent visitors from touching high-contact surfaces. It’s also recommended to provide visitors with masks and a disinfecting station for use before and after their showing. 

“When we’re outside before the buyer comes in, we prepare them on what we expect and how the showing is expected to go and what the angle of the limitations will be,” he explains.

Dinani says you should have a conversation with your REALTOR® about what measures they’re taking to protect your health as well as the health of the potential buyers who will be coming through your home.

Presentation is everything

Fall is usually a time where more serious buyers come out of the woodwork. Having skipped the spring and summer markets, fall buyers traditionally are looking to make an offer and close on a property before the holidays hit. Nowadays, home buyers are even less casual when it comes to shopping around. 

“Everyone coming through is not just casually looking. There’s the odd one, but the majority of people are actually very serious about entering the market or buying something in the market,” explains Dinani. “I feel like into the fall, that will continue.”

Given the seriousness of buyer motivations, and the social distancing recommendations that have resulted in less frequent in-person showings, it’s important to make first impressions count in the home. This means a clean, well-kept environment showcasing the best features of the property.

“When they come into the home and it’s not presented well, then you may lose them,” says Dinani. “So, we make sure our homes show a ten every single time. That presentation component is very important.”

Leverage technology for your home 

With more buyers spending their time on their phones and computers, Dinani says it’s crucial to take a more aggressive online marketing approach. When preparing your home for listing, he says to ask your REALTOR® about how they plan to leverage technology to give your home exposure. 

“We’ve seen a meaningful change from where activity has gone during the pandemic and how people are spending more time [online],” says Dinani. 

For buyers and sellers that are less comfortable with in-person showings, high-quality Matterport and virtual tours can be a powerful substitute. Instead of sending physical copies of flyers and feature sheets, convert these materials online so they are readily available. A strong presence on social media and relevant real estate websites is also vital. 

“Every one of our listings has a virtual tour attached to it,” explains Dinani. “I think that’s the first touch point that people have to your listing. It’s got to be something that impresses.”


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Welcome to the dog days of summer: the hottest days of the season. It’s so hot out your shirt becomes soaked with sweat and glues itself to your skin—and the humidity is so thick you can almost chew the air! The only haven you have is your home and the cool respite of an air-conditioned room. If you have air conditioning, that is… Luckily, homeowners across Canada are finding ways to cool their living spaces without A/C using guidance from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) experts. 

When you can’t control the temperature inside your home, there are certain tactics to help you stay cool. This includes creating a cross-breeze with strategically placed floor fans; exhausting hot air from your home using bathroom fans; and pushing cool air down by turning your ceiling fan counterclockwise. And if you have a small budget for some minor renovations, or you can justify buying a few useful products, you’ll keep comfortable despite the rising mercury.

Don’t let the summer sun melt the days away, be prepared for the next heatwave. Learn how to keep your house cool without air conditioning by employing the following actionable tips, tricks, and cooling techniques recommended by the pros.  

Keeping your home cool during the day

During the day, the goal is to stop the heat from climbing and maintaining the room temperature. This means finding ways to allow hot air to escape, while filtering out heat sources in your home. For example, shuttering blinds, hanging blackout curtains, and applying a heat-reflecting film to your windows keeps you cooler by blocking out the sun’s heat—turning on the vent fan above your oven or in your bathrooms can also help draw some of the warm air out of your house.

According to Allan Mitchell, HVAC technician at R.E.L. Controls Inc., the key to staying cool without air conditioning is to keep the air moving, “Moving air is drier (less humid), so it feels cooler even though you haven’t actually changed the temperature.” This is best done with fans:

  • Place floor fans on the opposite ends of a room—one blowing in and the other blowing out—to create a cross-breeze and a constant flow of air entering and exiting the space.
  • Turn your ceiling fan counterclockwise to offset hot air as it rises—rather than sucking up and circulating the heat, the fan pushes the air back down, removing the humidity and making it feel cooler in the process.
  • Blow the air from your basement—which is cooler—into the main living space by using floor fans to move the air from one end of the room and up to the next level.

Of course, fans aren’t your only option to regulate the temperature of your home. Try closing bedroom doors to minimize the amount of space you need to cool, and don’t feel guilty about putting off activities on the to-do list that generate heat—for example, doing laundry, vacuuming the floor, and cleaning dishes. 

Keeping your home cool at night

As the sun goes down and the balmy, summer night sets in, the outside temperature will eventually dip below the inside temperature of your home. This is your opportunity to take advantage of what’s considered “free cooling.” Let the fresh air in by opening windows, spreading curtains, and widening blinds—position floor fans to draw the outside air in and circulate it through your house. 

Speaking of “free,” learn how to use thermostats to reduce the cost of your heating bill during the winter.  

Open bedroom doors and maximize the air flow down hallways and throughout each room—once again, create cross-breezes wherever possible to keep the cool air moving. And if that doesn’t do the trick, why not make your own air conditioner? Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and place it behind a table fan; set the fan to static and drape a towel over the back covering the bowl. Admittedly, the ice melts quickly, but before it does, you’re graced with a delightfully cold breeze.

When it comes to cooking dinner, a barbeque is your best friend—nothing cranks up the heat in your home like using the oven or turning on the burners. Plus, everything tastes better off the BBQ. If you don’t own a barbeque, consider meals with little prep work and short cooking times, or treat yourself and order takeout from your favourite restaurant occasionally. 

Leigh Henderson, an HVAC Journeyman with more than20-years’ experience, was adamant about reducing the use of electronics. “Read a book or play a boardgame, ” he said jokingly when asked the best way to keep cool without air conditioning, “and don’t leave the fridge door open.”

Surprisingly, your television, computer, laptop, and other electronic devices generate a significant amount of heat, which is only compounded by the sweltering sun. As for the fridge, the longer you keep the door open, the harder the compressor works to maintain the cool temperature—the harder the compressor works, the hotter it gets inside your home.   

Keep your house cool with these 5 investments

Despite keeping your home cool, air conditioners heat up your utilities bill, and the warmer it gets outside, the more expensive it is to stay comfortable. Whereas, a few key renovations end up cheaper in the long run. If you can justify the upfront expenditure, consider the following five investments to keep your house cool without A/C:

  1. Install a ridge vent on your roof to allow hot air to escape from your attic—for installation, it’s best to hire a professional to prevent moisture damage to your roof and insulation.
  2. Purchase a dehumidifier to keep the humidity out of the air—there are several models available, so do your research to find what’s best for your home.
  3. Replace all incandescent light bulbs with LED alternatives—incandescent bulbs use more electricity (generate more heat), while LED lights are more than 75% energy efficient. 
  4. Buy a digital indoor/outdoor weather station—track the weather and monitor the temperature to pinpoint the ideal times to exploit free cooling.   Employ passive cooling techniques outside of your home—strategically planting bushes, gardens, and even trees help prevent the sun from heating the foundation of your home.


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From the Living Room Blog:

Buying a home isn’t necessarily something that you can do on a whim—there are months of preparation involved when transitioning from renting to homeownership.

With so many moving parts in play, from loan approvals to placing purchase offers, navigating home buying for the first time can be an overwhelming task. In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, when some real estate processes have changed, buying a home can seem especially daunting. 

Luckily, we’ve developed this handy 12-month calendar for first-time homebuyers that will help to keep you on the straight and narrow when making your home purchase. From the beginning of the process, down to the final months and weeks, we’ll guide you through what you need to do and when. 

12 months out

One year from the time you hope to buy, it’s important to determine how much house you can afford and how much you might need to save in advance.

An online affordability calculator is a great way to get started. Simply plug in your household income, loan payments and living costs, and you’ll get a breakdown of how much mortgage you could possibly take on, plus how big of a downpayment you’ll need. Based on this information, plan for your downpayment and moving expenses, whether it be devising a savings strategy or rejigging your monthly budget. 

Don’t forget to check your credit score as well—mortgage lenders will be looking at this when you apply for a loan. Be mindful lenders will need to see a healthy score within a specific range in order for you to get approved. If you’re not sure how to improve your credit score, make an appointment with a financial advisor. 

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Nine months out

At this point in your home buying journey, envision what your ideal first home looks like. 

Jot down a list of your wants versus your needs. For instance, you want a property with an inground pool in the backyard, but you need a home that has at least three bedrooms and is less than a 45-minute commute to work. Research what neighbourhoods you’d like to live in, and note their characteristics like community amenities, municipal taxes and conveniences. You could even spend some time dropping into virtual or live streamed open houses to get a feel for the homes in the area. If you can’t make it to the neighbourhoods themselves, the map feature will give you a closer look and Google Street View is always a handy tool.

Start budgeting for miscellaneous home buying expenses during this time. Remember, you’ll need to set aside money to cover legal fees, movers, home inspections and other buying-related costs. Begin to contribute to a savings account specifically for home maintenance, and start getting used to contributing to it every month.

Six months out

At the six-month mark, it’s time to start gathering your loan paperwork

Lenders will need information on your income, debts and credit history. In advance of getting your mortgage pre-approval, you’ll need to collect your personal tax returns from the last three years, your most recent pay stubs, bank and credit card statements, loan information and your addresses for the past five to seven years. 

Take some time to research mortgage lenders, and start searching for a REALTOR® to help guide you through the next stages of your home buying journey. From negotiating your offer, to providing you with listings that meet all of your ‘must-haves,’ REALTORS® are a crucial source of information and support for first-time home buyers.

Three months out

Now the saving and research groundwork is done, it’s time to get the ball rolling on buying your first home.

With the help of a mortgage professional, apply for a mortgage pre-approval, which will tell you the maximum amount you’re able to borrow from your lender. It’s important to get your loan pre-approval before you start house hunting, so you’ll know exactly what property price point you should be looking at. 

Your REALTOR® will assist with setting up virtual home showings and virtual or live streamed open houses, and will also regularly send you new listings to look at. 

Two months out

If you find your ideal home after a few weeks of shopping around, get ready to place an offer to purchase. 

Following the guidance of your REALTOR®, determine what offer price you’d like to submit to the sellers, along with any conditional clauses and a closing date. Your REALTOR® will walk you through offer submission lingo and processes, and will find the best strategy for presenting and negotiating your purchase offer to the other party.

Once your offer has been accepted, you might opt to conduct a home inspection for peace of mind on any possible repairs or issues with the property. If major flaws are found, you could be in a position to renegotiate the offer price to cover the cost of repairs, or require the sellers to make fixes prior to closing. 

Final month

In the final weeks of buying a home, you’re ready to tie up any loose ends prior to the closing date. 

Triple-check your financial and lending documents are in order, and touch base with your financial institution to arrange a wire transfer or issue a cashier’s cheque for your closing. Be sure to arrange for home insurance too, and hire a professional moving company if needed. Make sure you have a lawyer to help finalize your closing. Finally, you’ll be entitled to a buyer’s visit at your new home prior to closing. Use this appointment to take measurements, inspect any repairs, and check to make sure the home is in the same condition as when you last saw it.

While the journey to becoming a homeowner can be a long one, this 12-month calendar helps to outline all of the necessary steps you need to take along the way. With this guide in hand, along with the professional advice of an experienced REALTOR®, progressing from a renter to a homeowner can be a seamless process.


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