4 Tips for Buying a Home During the Holidays

The holidays come with unique challenges for homebuyers. Here's how to succeed.



ROI under 100% = A Bad Remodel


It’s rare that a remodeled kitchen or bathroom will result in a complete return on investment, but that shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent. What people don’t seem to factor into the equation is the fact that, until the day you sell your home, you’ll have the benefit of enjoying the remodel yourself! Let’s say that you get 75% ROI on a remodeled kitchen, but you got to enjoy that kitchen for a year before selling. I’d chalk that up to a win.

Swimming Pools Make It Harder to Sell a Home


No home is going to appeal to every market, but that’s not the point! The point is to find one perfect buyer. If swimming pools don’t appeal to older home buyers, such as empty nesters, then they’re simply not part of the market for that particular property. Families with young kids looking for a home to grow into, a pool could be a huge selling point, especially in warm climates. The point is, and this applies to all features, not just pools, unique features may cut down the number of potential buyers, but that’s ok; it only takes one.

”They just remodeled, we don’t need an inspection.”

Why do you need a home inspection before buying? | National Bank

Some buyers are under the impression that, if a house was recently built or remodeled, it must have been done correctly, making an inspection unnecessary. This is simply untrue. At the end of the day, you can’t be too careful when making the biggest investment of your life. The exterior and surface may look great, but if the core of the home has issues, you need to know about it.

Selling Your Home in the Winter: How You Can Make the Most of It

Author photo Merisa Gomez-Adams

From creating a warm, inviting space in your home, to clearing your driveway for potential viewers, to making sure any essential home renovation and repair is complete, we’ve compiled some ways to prepare your home in the winter and help maximize your selling potential. 

If you think selling your home in the winter is the same as selling your home in the summer, well, that’s a cold take. Each season has its distinct benefits when it comes to listing a home, so how can you take advantage of the snow and frigid temperatures?

We recently spoke with Amber van den Broek, a REALTOR® from Winnipeg, Manitoba and owner of Amber van den Broek & Associates, to speak about the  advantages of selling your home in the winter.

“There’s less competition on the market during these slower months,” she says. “As a seller, you have the focused attention of all the buyers hunting for a home in your area, or even outside your location. When supply is low, demand for your property can be high simply by being the only option.”

If you’re thinking about selling your home in the winter, here are some tips on how to prepare for a successful sale. 

Maintain Your Landscaping During Winter.

Make the most of the outdoors


Despite not being able to appreciate the lusciousness of your garden or lawn in the winter, landscaping shouldn’t be neglected. 

“Landscaping is your ultimate first impression,” said van den Broek. “A buyer makes their initial decision of like versus don’t like in approximately 60 seconds, so the walk up or drive by shouldn’t be underestimated. A buyer will feel confident that seasonal maintenance has likely been completed, and that you’ve taken care of your home inside and out.”

As a rule of the proverbial green thumb, remove anything that’s unlikely to survive the winter so there aren’t dead plants in the garden. If you’d like to add plants and shrubs, be sure they’re the evergreen kind such as Blue Holly or Winter Heath. If you have pets, ensure you’ve removed any droppings and yellow snow before potential buyers show up. Even if your area doesn’t get much snow, make sure your front yard is well-kept, with any dead leaves raked up and thrown away.

Clear your driveway and pathway

Shovelling snow is twofold in terms of safety and removing the thoughts buyers conjure up of having to do it themselves. Consider installing solar-powered lights to help illuminate the path and be sure to salt/sand any walking paths to lower the risk of a fall for potential buyers.

Tips to prevent long icicles from forming on your roof.

Lessen the chances of icicle formation

Icicles are very pretty to look at, but they can wreak havoc on your home. Melted snow from your roof contributes to ice dams being formed in gutters, which in turn can cause water to back up into your home. The formation of icicles can also indicate issues with your roof or ventilation, which could be a red flag to potential buyers. While you can remove small icicles yourself—make sure to take all safety precautions if you need to venture onto the roof–it’s best to leave the removal of larger ones or hard-to-reach icicles to the experts. 

Winter-resistant furniture in the front and backyard

Create a welcoming first impression by staging your front porch with durable furniture and winter-resistant blankets and rugs. Warm lighting provided by lanterns that can withstand the cold will also add to the charm. The backyard is just as important, so be sure to shovel patios and decks, and set it up in a way that highlights how the space can be used year-round. 

Cleaning the front entrance

This is technically an inside task, but it does involve elements from the outdoors. Salt, dirt, and snow all get tracked into your front entrance in the winter months, which isn’t visually appealing to potential buyers. You only get one chance at a first impression! Clean up any salt and dirt from your front entrance, and keep coats, mittens, boots, etc. in a closet so there’s no clutter when people come in. 

Tips to Highlight Your Home's Curb Appeal.

Highlight the cozy indoor appeal

Create a warm and inviting space

“Selling in the winter months gives home sellers an opportunity to create a very welcoming, cozy vibe to their space,” van den Broek explains. “Staging works, and winter is certainly a time to get creative. Ensure the home is at a comfortable temperature, and if there’s a fireplace, make sure it’s turned on, or lit if it’s wood. We always use candles at our open houses in the winter time, nicely scented like gingerbread, baking, apples, or pine.”

“Having a tray of treats always makes buyers feel at home, and if it’s closer to the holidays some decorated cookies or candy canes for kids. The more your house feels like a home, the more a buyer will start to feel AT home!”

Did you know the World Health Organization recommends a range of 20 C to 22 C as the ideal temperature in your home to maintain overall good health and wellbeing? Aim for this temperature during an open house to keep things comfortable. No need to go too warm—people will likely be wearing jackets!

Round off any essential renovations

Be proactive with ensuring cosmetic renovations such as chipped paint and drafty windows are complete prior to listing your home. For van den Broek there are some common red flags buyers look for when purchasing a home in the winter. These include:

  • leaking window seals;
  • condensation inside the window panes, which can indicate humidity is too high in the house;
  • drafty windows and doors;
  • temperature differences in basement rooms;
  • no snow on the roof, which could indicate insulation issues in the attic;
  • back drafts of a smoky ash smell from a wood-burning fireplace; and
  • cracked corners of the foundation which can indicate a structural issue.

Sealing windows to reduce air leaks, adding further insulation where required to prevent drafts, ensuring the weather stripping around your front door has no leaks, checking the insulation levels in your attic, and updating old furnaces can be beneficial upgrades for homeowners and enticing for potential buyers. If possible, consider having your furnace serviced by an HVAC professional to be certain everything is in tip-top shape. 

Certain provinces are currently offering rebates to improve your home’s energy efficiency, which could help with the costs of some of these repairs or updates. For example, Enbridge is offering Ontarians “up to $5,000 in rebates for insulation, air sealing, new windows/doors, water heaters, boilers, furnaces, and home energy assessments.” British Columbia has a similar program through BetterHomesBC for up to $6,000. Check with your provincial energy provider to see what’s available to you!

Tips for winter decor to welcome buyers.

Embrace neutral seasonal décor

If you’re planning festive celebrations, it’s best to avoid flashing lights and large decorations that could shrink the size of your space, as well as overtly religious ornaments.

“For outside it’s nice to have some winter décor welcoming buyers to the property—a simple wreath, flower pots with birch branches and twinkle lights, solar powered walkway lights, and pay attention to overall lighting outside.”

Winter Staging Tips to Sell Your House.

Showcase your home’s versatility

Even when you’ve succeeded in transforming the exterior and interior of your home to be both charming and inviting, if possible, show photos from other seasons in your listing because, the more guesswork you take out of the equation, the more a buyer can make an informed decision they feel comfortable with.


Source - https://www.realtor.ca/blog/selling-your-home-in-the-winter-how-you-can-make-the-most-of-it/29038/1363

Decor Items You Need in Your First Home

Wondering what decor items you are going to need in your first home? Here are some decorative (and useful!) necessities for your new digs.

Awesome Ottoman

Whether used for extra seating, a footrest, or as a coffee table when topped with a tray, an ottoman is a smart and stylish addition to a room. Look for one with a removable top to add a bit of additional storage.

Gorgeous Greenery

Besides bringing a bit of nature indoors, houseplants and trees work to improve your home's air quality, too. Here, a gorgeous fiddle-leaf fig tree occupies an empty corner, providing a pop of color and a lush look to the room.

Chic Console Table

Whether you have a large entryway or just a small nook, a console table placed near the door is a great drop-off spot for keys, mail, loose change, and more. Hooks above take care of bags and jackets, while baskets below are a great place to stash shoes, slippers, and pet supplies.

Glam Bedroom Furniture

Having a bedroom space that you enjoy is essential to relaxation and will help you get a better night's sleep. Purchasing a well-built and stylish bed, nightstands and dresser will be an investment you won't regret.

Chic Coffee Table

A coffee table can serve as a place to house many different items, so selecting the right piece for your new home is an important task. Be sure to find one that will accompany all of your needs and is cohesive with your existing living room furnishings.

Stylish Sectional

A great investment for your new home is a quality sectional, because, chances are, you'll be spending a lot of time on this piece of furniture. Selecting a stylish and comfortable sectional that fits all your needs, may take time, but will be worth the wait and expense in the long run.

Personal Artwork

Bringing your own personality into your space is essential to making your house feel like a home. Try selecting artwork that is personal to you, that way when you pass by you'll remember good memories and have stories to tell guests.

Dining Room Table

A beautiful and durable dining room table is a must-have for your new home. Choosing a table that fits your new dining area is essential, so be sure to measure and account for dining room chairs.

Happy-Making Hardware

Make the most of kitchen cabinets and drawers with chic hardware that adds personality and brings the room together. Here, bright blue cabinetry gets sleek handles and half-moon pulls to complete this chef's kitchen.

Versatile Bar Cart

A statement piece on its own, this vintage bar cart is the perfect place to store liquor, glassware, and other beverage makings. Look for one that suits your design style and set up your own mobile bar station.

Lighting You Love

No matter what room it's in, a statement-making light fixture adds not only light, but depth and design. In this all black-and-white bedroom, a midcentury-inspired fixture brings an artistic element and completes the look of the room.

Terrific Throws

Easy to change up for a new season or a fresh look, decorative pillows and throw blankets are fabulous finishing touches to a room, layering in color, coziness, and an inviting feel. Add in a beautiful basket to hold the items when not in use on the bed, couch, or chair, like this throw seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper.

Room-Defining Rug

Use an area rug to define a space and layer in texture and interest. In this neutral dining room, a bright, patterned rug adds a punch of color and movement.

Stylish Curtains

Curtains have the ability to transform the look of a room, adding elegance and privacy to your space. Don't forget to measure before you buy.

Marvelous Mirror

No home is complete without mirrors. Choose a decorative style, like the one shown here, to add a sculptural element to your space while reflecting the room's light, making it seem larger and brighter.


Save on Granite Countertops and Rock Your Remodel

Granite countertops, durable, high-fashion and low-maintenance, are stars in kitchen and bathroom remodels nationwide. And you don’t need to buy the most expensive granite to get stunning results in your home.

Here’s what to know about granite counters, how much they will set you back, and tips for cutting costs.

Granite countertop costs

Granite countertops generally range from $2,000 to $4,500 including materials and installation, a survey by HomeAdvisor has found. In terms of the overall cost for your project, countertops of any material eat up around 7% of the budget for a bathroom remodel and about 10% for a kitchen remodel.


Granite fabricators typically quote granite prices by the square foot, which usually includes labor, delivery, installation and a simple finish to the edges. Other products and services — like decorative edge treatments, a sink, faucets, cutouts for sinks and cooktops, plumbing hook-ups, and removing and disposing of old counters — may cost extra.

Different grades

Granite is priced according to its grade (also referred to as tiers or levels). Different grades have different price structures. The grade reflects a stone’s availability, color, shipping cost and its distinctiveness, but not necessarily the overall quality.

7 tips to save on granite countertops

1. Shop around

Granite countertops are sold and installed by big box stores, kitchen and bathroom design studios, granite fabricators and companies specializing in prefabricated granite counters. You’ll get the best results by hiring a well-established, experienced and fully insured company.

Ask family and friends for recommendations and look online, including searching for nearby installers and fabricators at the Natural Stone Institute, a trade association. After narrowing the search, visit two or three companies to discuss your project and see their work. Ask each company for a preliminary estimate based on your rough measurements.

Sharon Millett, a real estate agent in Auburn, Maine, says she saved nearly $1,000 recently on kitchen and bath countertops for her home by shopping around. One company charged extra for the edge treatment she wanted, so she found another that included it at no charge.

2. Buy the sink and faucet separately

Ask your fabricator if it’s OK to buy the sink, faucet and any plumbing parts elsewhere so you can find a style you like that also fits your budget.

3. Use a remnant

Granite companies may offer discounts on smaller pieces of stone left over from other projects.

4. Go prefab

A prefabricated piece of stone is one that is already cut and polished. Prefab is best for simple counters requiring few cuts. It’s perfect, for instance, if your cabinets are a standard, off-the-shelf size, says Jarren Cheha, owner of Seattle Granite Countertops, a granite fabricator.

He stocks a single size — 8 feet by 25½ inches — of prefab granite countertop blanks in seven to 10 common colors. They come with three finished edges and a polished surface. The cost is about half that of a custom granite countertop, Cheha says.

5. Get a line-item breakdown

Ask for an estimate showing the individual costs of products and services. That lets you compare multiple offers and choose the option that best fits your budget.

6. Use granite tile

Tile cut from stone like granite lets you get the look without the price. Granite tile costs about $5 to $15 per square foot uninstalled, according to Home Advisor. You’ll also need to hire a tile installer and buy grout and other materials.

7. Have the installer do final measurements

To avoid making expensive mistakes, always be sure the installer takes the measurements and creates a template on which your final estimate is based.

Are granite countertops worth the cost?

It’s hard to know exactly how much of the cost of granite countertops can be recouped when you sell the home. Certainly, upgraded kitchens and baths are sought after by most buyers.

“In my area, real estate agents pretty much insist that homeowners get natural stone in their homes before it goes on the market,” says Sharon Koehler, support services manager at Artistic Stone Design, a stone fabricator in North Chesterfield, Virginia.

“I have seen agents pay for the (counter)tops themselves and get the money back after sale. It is that important,” Koehler says.



The article Save on Granite Countertops and Rock Your Remodel originally appeared on NerdWallet.

10 Ways to Make Your Home Worth More

A home is a huge investment for many people, so why not make it worth even more? We count down to the No. 1 way to get the most bang for your buck.

#1: Spruce Up the Siding

It may not be glamorous, but replacing siding is our No. 1 pick for home improvements that add value to your home. Here is your chance to make a great first impression in the real estate world. If your siding is in bad shape, your home is going to earn the title of fixer-upper. You can usually judge a book by its cover, so old siding sets the tone for expectations of what potential buyers will find inside the house. Try adding curb appeal and lower maintenance with composite siding. Cement board siding is efficient, it lasts, and it's no maintenance.

#2: Make Minor Bathroom Changes

Minor changes can be advantageous because they cost less and often net a greater return than the investment. If you have old tile or a dated tub, sink and toilet, consider replacing those items. If you keep the same layout there's not a lot of expense that has to go into it. Updating light fixtures, linens and accessories are easy ways to breathe new life into the space.


#3: Revive the Kitchen

If you get creative and think about some small changes you can make in your kitchen, you won't have to spend a ton of money. Take down the rooster wallpaper and paint it a neutral color, for example. More and more buyers are expecting some standard items in a kitchen -- things like stainless-steel appliances and hardware. Throw in new light fixtures and you've got a great-looking, updated space. Also, some people are looking for gourmet kitchens. Whether they can cook or not, a kitchen is a huge prospect for a buyer. Bottom line: kitchens sell houses, so investing in an improvement in this room is the way to go.


#4: Keep Rooms Flexible

Does your home have a unique specialty room? No one's saying you need to give up your "special place," but it's important to hold back a little. Too much customization can be a problem if you ever plan to sell your home, so try not to overdo it. Things like hardwood floors, wiring for cable, phone and DSL, and plenty of windows are good ways to customize while keeping the room versatile. Another idea is to make the space one that can easily be converted into a guest suite, studio, family room or a den.


#5: Build a Second Floor

Adding a second story can do more than just create square footage. It can bring balance to an uneven house. A flat roof over a garage can be an eyesore as well as a huge waste of space. You could solve both problems at the same time by adding on to the top of the garage. Use all that dead space to build a master suite or a reading room. You will not only add space, but you will also add tremendous curb appeal.

#6: Add On to the Attic

Renovate your attic. The space above a garage is often small, dusty and cramped space and sometimes rarely even used for storage. Why not turn it into a bedroom suite? Add as many windows as possible for that precious natural light. Recessed windows, hardwood flooring, built-ins and custom seating are also great ways to add value.


#7: Paint, Paint, Paint

Don't be afraid of paint. It is one of the easiest and inexpensive things to do to dramatically change the look of your home. Here are some tips: If you are not sure about your color sense, bring in a professional color specialist to help. Also, think classic and neutral. A future buyer needs to be able to picture his or her things in the room, and too much personalization can prevent that. If your painting skills are below par, hire someone. In the end, it evens out because nothing is worse then a bad paint job. So fight your fear of commitment, and splash a little color on those walls!


#8: Do a Major Bath Remodel

Transform an ugly duckling into a swan of a master bath by finding more space -- but not with an addition. Stealing space can be a better solution if you can find the extra square footage. Open up a closet to make more room, create separate his-and-her areas with separate sinks, or add a skylight to bring in valuable natural light. Updating tub and tile are also good ideas.

#9: Put In a Deck

There's nothing like relaxing on a deck in the summertime with a cool drink in your hand. If you don't already have one, build one! On average, when a homeowner adds a deck to their home, they are likely to recoup approximately 76 percent return on their investment; however, you don't want your deck to be too big or too small -- it shouldn't be more than a third of your house. Most decks cost about $10,000, give or take. An appraiser's No. 1 rule is finding homes that are very similar within a mile away of your home, so matching your improvements to the homes in your neighborhood is very important.

#10: Refurbish the Basement

Many basements are plain, empty and unused spaces that rarely see any visitors. Why let all that space go to waste? Create an entertainment area that will "wow" your guests! Adding a fabulous bar area, seating and beautiful finishes will add character and value to your home.

#11: Install New Windows

Installing new windows can be beneficial for more than one reason. On an average house, 30 percent of energy is lost through windows. They are not only important in terms of energy issues, but they are also a signal to a future buyer that the current homeowners have really taken good care of the house.

#12: Be Sure an Addition Blends

Make sure an addition does not stick out like a sore thumb. Many additions look like a box that has been attached to the back of a house. Combine design elements of the original house and the addition to create a seamless makeover.

#13: Bring In a New Bath

There is no such thing as too many bathrooms. If your home has fewer faucets than beds, you might want to consider adding a bathroom. If you have only one bathroom upstairs, your guests have to go traipsing up the stairs and throughout your home. That could be uncomfortable for both parties involved. Why not use that unused space underneath the stairs? It's a great way to utilize space that would otherwise just be used for storage.

#14: Invest In a Major Kitchen Remodel

Having the same old tired kitchen in a 1978 house is likely to stop a house from selling. If you have the yardage, extend your kitchen into the backyard. Size really matters when it comes to kitchens -- the bigger the better! Update it with lots of recessed lighting and cherry cabinets, if you can. It won't be cheap, but it will be a great investment for the long-term. It could be the difference between being able to sell your house or not in a tighter market.

#15: Liven Up the Landscaping

Your yard may be thirsty for a makeover. Dirt and old, dead grass does not constitute a yard. Turn your desert landscape into a destination hot spot with plenty of seating, elegant water features and lush plants. You could even add extra square footage for entertaining. Even if you're not in a warm climate, glamming up a not-so-hot yard is a good way to go!

#16: Get a New Roof

If yours is a roof that the neighbors talk about (and not in a good way), fix it! A shabby roof leaves a first impression that the current homeowners don't take good care of their place. If the roof is plain, flat and turning green in the corners, people will look at it and see major problems that could be showing inside the house. Replace the old, three-tab flat shingles with architectural shingles that provide a lot more texture and depth. It can really change the character and the feel of the house, and the cost can be easy on the pocket. From a purely aesthetic stand point, a new roof that is architecturally interesting can only be a plus.

#17: Add On a Family Room

Add more space and square footage with a new family room. What people want these days are open floor plans, so create a bright new spot for the family. And everyone loves a fireplace.

#18: Create or Renovate a Master Suite

Master suites aren't really a luxury anymore -- they're an expected feature. On average, 33 percent of house shoppers are more likely to buy a recently-renovated home. Work within the footprint of the house to increase your return on investment. Entice buyers with a cozy open space and a really nice closet. Squeeze in as much storage room as you can.

#19: Spring for a Sunroom

Anytime you can add square footage and living space to your home, it's a winner. Build a sunroom in the back of the house where you have less tree cover and more privacy. The result? A stunning addition that transforms the entire house. The room attracts sunlight during the day and guests in the evening.

#20: Update the Home Office

Take care of business with a home office remodel. More and more people are working out of their houses. It's not just a luxury, but a necessity. Turn an unused den or an old office into an inviting work sanctuary with new windows, a fresh coat of paint and built-in shelving, and you're sure to reap the rewards.


10 Gardening Myths Busted


Some beliefs that have been around for several generations can waste both time in the garden and money, and the worst part is they may even harm your plants.

Here, we shed light on 10 of the most common myths.



Photography: iStockPhoto/E.

Rhubarb leaves indeed contain toxins—that’s why we only consume the leaf stalk, which has less oxalic acid than the leaf blade. When rhubarb decomposes, the oxalic acid quickly breaks down into water, carbon and oxygen: nothing dangerous there! The finished compost contains no trace of oxalic acid. You can put almost any poisonous leaf in the compost bin, as most natural poisons decompose rapidly. The exception is poison ivy (Toxico­ dendron radicans) and its relatives, because the toxic substance that coats them, urushiol, does not break down readily.



Photography: Shutterstock/E.

Don’t waste your time trying this one. The iron from rusty nails will in no way change the colour of either plant. Besides, the iron isn’t soluble, so even if the plants needed it—and sometimes plants do—it would have no effect. The bigleaf hydrangea (blue hydrangea) turns pink in alkaline soils. To ensure a clear blue colour, you’ll need to add an acidifying agent to the soil, such as garden sulfur, aluminium sulfate or rhododendron fertilizer. But there’s nothing acidic about rusty nails. As for blue spruce, the only logical way to make one bluer is to simply buy the bluest spruce possible, since the colouring is determined by genetics.



Photography: iStockPhoto/E.

In fact, coffee grounds have no particular beneficial effect. They’re simply a compostable waste product like any other kitchen or garden waste. Coffee grounds don’t repel insects of any kind, let alone slugs, they’re not acidic (by the time they’re fully decomposed, their pH is usually around 6.8—nearly neutral) and they tend to pack down and become too compact to make a good mulch. Plus, the caffeine they contain can even harm certain plants. In theory, coffee grounds can enrich the soil, but only when they’re completely decomposed. As they are decomposing, they actually rob nearby plants of nitrogen. You can apply them in small amounts around your plants without doing too much harm, but the real place for coffee grounds is in the compost bin.



Photography: iStockPhoto/E.

According to this myth, slugs aren’t able to cross a barrier of crushed eggshells because the sharp edges cut into their bodies. Slugs are coated in mucus, which allows them to slide over their surroundings—even extremely sharp surfaces like shards of glass without any difficulty. Worse still, unless the eggshells are thoroughly washed, their odour may actually attract slugs.



Photography: iStockPhoto/E.

This belief can seem legitimate because, in the early morning, you’ll often find one or two slugs in the bottom of the bowl. During the night, when slugs are active, many will have visited the area, attracted by the smell of malt. However, most don’t fall into the beer; instead, they feed on it, then tend to stay nearby, so the slug population in that area may increase. Nevertheless, you can make this technique work if you place the bowl of beer far from plants you want to protect.



Photography: iStockPhoto/E.

This old belief doesn’t even make much sense. If there are drainage holes in the pot, obviously any excess water will drain away easily. The drainage layer just takes up space that could have been used for root development. What you can put at the bottom of a flowerpot is a fil­ter of some sort: a piece of paper towel, news­ paper or a coffee filter. That way excess water can flow out while the filter keeps the potting soil in place. In a pot without drainage holes, the drainage layer won’t stop water from build­ ing up and moving up the roots by capillary action, leading to rot that will likely be fatal. It’s simply not a good idea to grow a plant in a pot without a drainage hole.



Photography: Shutterstock/E.

You’ll have no trouble finding these products in garden centres, but they aren’t recom­mended. When you apply a sealant to a tree wound, it cuts off the airflow and creates a humid environment where fungi that cause rot can thrive. In other words, pruning paints and sealants don’t prevent rot, they help cause it.



Photography: iStockPhoto/E.

This is the easiest myth to debunk because if water droplets really did set plant leaves alight, there would be fires everywhere after every sun shower! A drop located directly on a leaf will have no damaging effect whatsoever. It’s still not a good idea to water plants when the sun is beating down, but that’s largely because the heat will cause much of the water to evaporate rather than irrigating the plants. Ideally, you want to water early in the morning or, failing that, in the evening, when the sun is less intense.



Photography: iStockPhoto/E.

Common knowledge claims that moss only grows on acidic soils. Lime is alkaline, so it renders soil less acid. In reality, though, moss will grow on any type of soil: acidic, neutral or alkaline. If moss is spreading on your lawn, it doesn’t mean the soil is acidic; rather, it tells you that the conditions are simply not suitable for turfgrasses. There are five likely reasons why moss is taking over your lawn: it’s too shady, the soil is too poor, the soil is poorly drained, the soil is heavily compacted and, the least likely, the soil is highly acidic (its pH is less than 5.5).



Photography: iStockPhoto/E.

If only it were true! But in fact, plants simply don’t make very good insect repellents. Sure enough, you can rub your skin with a crushed leaf from one of these plants and gain a certain degree of personal protection, but the effect only lasts a short time. Intact leaves have no repellent effect whatsoever, so just placing a so-called “repellent” plant nearby won’t discourage mosquitoes at all...sigh.


10 Gardening Myths Busted

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Second Home with a Family Member

Your kids will have fantastic memories of vacations spent running around outside with their cousins, unplugged from their phones. Meanwhile, you and your siblings can recreate your childhood vacations, only this time with more alcohol and less fighting in the backseat. Sounds like a little slice of paradise, right? Before you jump in, you'll want to get some things straightened out.

How will you pay for it? 

Unless you all have cash, actually paying for the house can be tricky. Will your sibling with the best credit rating and lowest debt to income ratio apply for the mortgage? Or will you be applying for a joint mortgage?

Will you rent it? 

Renting your vacation home when no one’s using it can be a great investment. But if having strangers in his space gives your brother the heebie-jeebies and your sister wants to be able to use the house on a whim, renting might not be the best option. Make sure you talk about all that upfront so no one is blindsided by something they thought everyone agreed with them on. If you do decide to rent it you open up a whole other discussion. Who will be responsible for the landlord duties? How much of the year will you rent it? Will you split the money or will you put it toward upgrades and repairs on the house?

What if someone wants to sell?

You absolutely need to get this one in writing before you finalize anything. Maybe your sister moves to the other side of the country and can’t use the house as much. Or maybe your brother made some bad investments (you told him pet rocks were not making a comeback) and the house is looking like his Get Out of Jail Free card. Make sure you all agree on when, if, and how someone can back out. After all, a forced sale won’t improve your relationship with anyone.

How will you split time?

Sure, you love your siblings. But does that mean you want to commit to spending every single vacation with them? Probably not. Talk about how much time each family will have at the house. Draw names, throw darts, or wrestle for your weekends. It doesn’t matter how you come to an agreement. You just have to agree.

How will you split expenses?

This is your second home. So you know expenses don’t stop with the mortgage. You still have to worry about insurance, utilities, repairs, and a whole heck of a lot more. Will you split everything evenly? Will one sibling have more financial responsibility than the others? Make sure everyone is on the same page with this one and you’ll be able to avoid a lot of squabbles in the future.

Now the only thing that's left to discuss is if you'll buy in the mountains or the beach!


First Thing’s First

When potential buyers arrive at your home, the first thing they’ll see is your front yard and the exterior of your home. Don’t overthink it, just go stand on the curb and fix the things that look a bit off to you. If your budget permits, have some landscaping done. A little bit of improvement will really go a long way.

Refresh Your Kitchen

It’s no surprise that the kitchen is a huge component of the home, so if you’re thinking about selling, it may be time to do some touch-ups. Replacing dated appliances with stainless steel versions would be extremely expensive, but replacing just one with a steel counterpart actually improves the feel of the whole kitchen. If you see some chipping or scratches on cabinetry, consider applying a coat of neutral paint. The neutral color will work for any buyer, and the cabinetry will looks as good as new.

Tackle The Bathroom

First of all, make sure everything in the bathroom is perfectly functional. That means no dripping faucets, showerheads, etc. Once everything is up to snuff, you can think about what upgrades you’d like to implement. New grout isn’t flashy, but it goes a long way in making a bathroom look cleaner and newer. You can also think about new and improved lighting or new countertops depending on budget.

Pro tips to improve your home’s lighting—without an electrician

Designers share their strategies to buy or DIY your way to a calmer, more flattering lighting scheme

36 Marbled Countertops To Ignite Your Kitchen Revamp

When deciding on your kitchen countertops, you’ll want to think about the material, first and foremost. And today, we’re focusing on marble. It’s luxurious, it’s versatile and can slide into nearly any and every type of decor theme. Black, white, grey and more, these 36 marbled countertops will ignite your kitchen revamp and take it to an entirely new level.

white marble kitchen countertop 900x655 36 Marbled Countertops To Ignite Your Kitchen Revamp

This classic kitchen is filled to the brim with both function and style. It’s topped off by marble countertops that blend well with the cottage-esque cabinets and wooden, brick backsplash. The natural light from the windows plays nicely with it as well! (via)

marble kitchen island 36 Marbled Countertops To Ignite Your Kitchen Revamp

Stone Source featured this beautiful work of art and we did too! Look at this marble-topped and sided kitchen island! It’s such a stunning way to provide function and a focal point.

5 Secrets to Make Your Home Guest-Ready This Season


Post Image

“Hey, I’m in town. Any chance I could crash at your place tonight?” We’ve all gotten that bittersweet text. It’s the dreaded (but really beloved) last-minute guest! And as we’re gearing up for the busy holiday travel season, it’s more important than ever to prepare to host that friend who’s suddenly in town.

When square footage is at a premium, you have to be smart about the details that make a guest room feel just like home. These five secrets will help you set up a space that’s always guest-ready, even at a moment’s notice. Here’s what to do:

Stock Up on Entertaining Essentials

Nothing says “welcome” quite like a freshly prepared cheese board and a glass of wine. So if you’ve got a nice cheese serving set and a fancy wine cooler, you’re halfway there.  All you have to do is stop by the grocery store for some nibbles on your way home. 

Create an Instant Guest Room

No guest room? No problem. Make your main space a guest space with an easy pull-out and extra pillows and bedding.


Add the Perfect Extra Layer

A versatile throw can do wonders when it’s time to have guests over. From giving your space a pulled-together, cozy look to providing extra bedding, it’s the ultimate last-minute guest accessory to have on hand. And why not do it in style? A faux fur throw goes a long way in both style and practicality. Look for faux fur that’s machine washable for easy care and has ombre gradients to give it an extra sheen.  


Make a Statement with Accents

Ask yourself about your accents. Are they practical? Or just pretty? A few well-placed accent pieces will make entertaining last-minute guests a whole lot easier. A good bar cart, for instance, can be rolled in or out depending on company (but is also stylish enough to keep around every day). Likewise, quirky pieces like these faux fur footstools can be accents on their own, and easily moved out of the way or used as extra seating when you have friends over.  

Go for an Easy Ambiance

Ever wonder why first-class hotels smell so good? It’s because they know scent is one of the first impressions their guests encounter. Follow the same philosophy at home with diffusers that make your space smell great and look good doing it. Continue the calm with a set of no-fuss flameless candles that spark a sense of serenity for anyone who walks in. 


5 Secrets to Make Your Home Guest-Ready This Season


“Hey, I’m in town. Any chance I could crash at your place tonight?” We’ve all gotten that bittersweet text. It’s the dreaded (but really beloved) last-minute guest! And as we’re gearing up for the busy holiday travel season, it’s more important than ever to prepare to host that friend who’s suddenly in town.


When square footage is at a premium, you have to be smart about the details that make a guest room feel just like home. These five secrets will help you set up a space that’s always guest-ready, even at a moment’s notice. For the essentials you’re missing—like a few multipurpose accents that tie your space together, or mood-setting candles and diffusers—Pottery Barn has what you need to help make it happen. Here’s what to do:

Stock Up on Entertaining Essentials

Nothing says “welcome” quite like a freshly prepared cheese board and a glass of wine. So if you’ve got a nice cheese serving set and a fancy wine cooler, you’re halfway there. Pottery Barn’s Black Marble serveware is decidedly on-trend with dark marble that contrasts nicely with cheeses. All you have to do is stop by the grocery store for some nibbles on your way home. 


Create an Instant Guest Room

No guest room? No problem. Make your main space a guest space with an easy pull-out and extra pillows and bedding. Pottery Barn’s Cameron Sleeper Sofa is GREENGUARD Gold Certified (meaning it’s been screened for chemicals that contribute to indoor pollution), is made with eco-friendly materials, and is fully customizable by fabric and color. Don’t forget: a good set of guest sheets is also essential—Pottery Barn’s organic sheet sets start at just $59.

Add the Perfect Extra Layer

A versatile throw can do wonders when it’s time to have guests over. From giving your space a pulled-together, cozy look to providing extra bedding, it’s the ultimate last-minute guest accessory to have on hand. And why not do it in style? A faux fur throw goes a long way in both style and practicality. Look for faux fur that’s machine washable for easy care and has ombre gradients to give it an extra sheen.  

Make a Statement with Accents

Ask yourself about your accents. Are they practical? Or just pretty? A few well-placed accent pieces will make entertaining last-minute guests a whole lot easier. A good bar cart, for instance, can be rolled in or out depending on company (but is also stylish enough to keep around every day). Likewise, quirky pieces like these faux fur footstools can be accents on their own, and easily moved out of the way or used as extra seating when you have friends over.  

Go for an Easy Ambiance

Ever wonder why first-class hotels smell so good? It’s because they know scent is one of the first impressions their guests encounter. Follow the same philosophy at home with diffusers that make your space smell great and look good doing it. Continue the calm with a set of no-fuss flameless candles that spark a sense of serenity for anyone who walks in. 

Home Renovations You Really Shouldn’t Do Yourself

Home renovations are expensive, which is why many homeowners will attempt to tackle them themselves. Nonetheless, we all know that can be a risky situation as well as an expensive one if the renovations are done incorrectly. Although there are renovations that homeowners can do on their own, there are some that should just be left to a professional.


In the hands of unskilled professionals, the following renovations could cost you more money than if you decided to speak to a professional from the very beginning. When done incorrectly they can be harmful to your immediate health and even more harmful to your home and its longevity.

Breaking Down Walls

Tearing down walls sounds like an easy task and it essentially is. However, the truth of the matter is walls tend to hide hidden dangers that you may not be prepared for. There is always the possibility that the walls could have mold, lead, dusts and even pests. These can all represent a danger to you and your family’s health.

Upgrading Your Basement


If you have a basement you may have considered upgrading it or even doing your own renovations. However, you ultimately want to leave that job to a professional as they know how to handle unfinished basements the best way possible. Basement renovations are different than any other renovation. The reason being cracks need to be sealed, drafts must be stopped, the mold must be removed and windows must be caulked. All of these are required in order for the basement to be in living conditions.

Electrical Work

Electrical work should never be underestimated. There are multiple dangerous situations that can occur when someone who isn’t a professional takes electrical work into their own hands. For example, wiring that is installed the wrong way can cause a fire hazard or multiple different dangerous situations.

Tile Work

Tile work may seem relatively easy to do and even cheap to buy. However, there is a lot of tedious work that goes behind installing every tile from measuring, cutting, and installing. This tedious work is best left to a professional if you want the work don’t properly.

Changing Windows

Changing your windows needs to be meticulous as it requires knowledge on how to keep the insolation of your home intact.

Changing the windows in your home is one of the last things you want to do on your own. The windows of your home keep drafts out as well as making your living space energy efficient. When installed incorrectly the windows in your home are prone to major problems. Problems such as built up condensation which could lead to added moisture to your home.

Replacing or Installing Carpet

As with tiles replacing or installing carpet may seem like an easy task, but it is actually quite difficult. As they require numerous different measurements in order to be placed properly. Along with these measurements there are multiple different steps that are required for the perfect carpet installation. These steps are needed in order to prevent mold and air bubbles from forming underneath.

Changing Your Cabinetry

Not only is alinement important when it comes to cabinet installation but using the right tools is as well.

Gas Line Repair

Gas line installation can be quite dangerous if not done correctly.

Trimming or Removal of Trees

Every tree should be removed safely and securely.

Tree trimming and/or removal should not be done by a non-professional. Tree removal requires using power tools and considerable height. These tools may not be available to the average homeowner. For this reason having a professional with all the proper tools will make the job easy and effective.

Plumbing Repairs

Save yourself some money and call a professional from the very first problem.

There are plenty of situations when fixing a plumbing problem on your own can be done. However, for any major plumbing repairs, you should contact a professional. As they will know the best form of fixing the problem wit little to no issues. Therefore, saving you more money and headaches in the long run.


7 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Buying My Fixer-Upper


How to Plan for Homeownership as a Millennial

By Micah Rakoff Bellman


If you’re a millennial considering buying your first home, congratulations! You’re probably excited until you remember: houses are expensive and—regardless of your current financial situation—you’ll likely need to save money to afford one.  

This can be intimidating for anyone but, according to a recent survey, millennials in particular say it’s become more difficult to buy a home. And, those feelings aren’t just isolated to millennials who live in expensive housing markets like VancouverToronto and MontrealA majority from communities across the country agree

woman at kitchen table doing work

Do millennials struggle with short attention spans and a penchant for instant gratification? Who knows. Do they think saving for a down payment is the biggest hurdle to affording a home? They do. 

black man in a suit speed walking

Worry not! Where there’s a will, there’s a way and we hope these tips will help you exercise your delayed gratification muscles and save.

Set goals

Setting clear short and long-term goals can give you a roadmap towards your ultimate goal: homeownership.

It might start with bagged lunches and smaller investments but, in combination, those decisions can help bring you one step closer to where you’d like to be.

Pinpoint your priorities

Start by figuring out what you want in a home. Consider location, size and your desired current and future lifestyle needs. Compare your list with your preferred real estate listings to get an idea of what’s available and how much it costs; this will help you adjust your expectations. 

Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, find a REALTOR® to help you navigate the various stages of home buying and ownership. They’re responsible for making the home buying process as easy as possible for you. They can also get you the information needed to make an informed decision: comparable prices, neighbourhood trends, housing market conditions and more.

Start saving

couple dancing in the kitchen

Once you know your price range, you can use a mortgage calculator to figure out how much you’ll need to save for a down payment and an affordability calculator to see what you can comfortably afford in terms of monthly expenses (like living expenses and debt payments). 

birds eye view of person calculating and doing work on a laptop

From there, you can build a budget based on your goals. There are several tools, apps, techniques and systems for budgeting, but all of them start with tracking your income and expenses. For example, the envelope system helps you control your spending by putting a fixed amount of cash in an envelope every month for each expense category. Once you run out of money in your “groceries” envelope, you can’t spend money on groceries until the next cycle. Whatever tools you choose, budgeting helps you clearly see how much your life costs, where your money is going and where there’s room for adjustment. 

couple looking at finances

Saving money, working long hours and side-hustling requires discipline—so try to get comfortable with discomfort. When you feel burnt out, acknowledge it—give it space—but don’t let it derail you. Practice things until they become good habits and prove the people who think you’re wasting your life on Instagram and avocado toast wrong. Don’t forget to reinforce your good behaviour by celebrating the small victories. 

Don’t be afraid to get help

girl at a bar staring at her phone

Does seeing your friends buy houses on social media make you feel isolated in your struggle? The truth is, you’re not alone. 

According to Statistics Canada, despite being the most educated generation, concerns have been raised about millennials being “slower to launch.” 

young girl working as a barista

If you’re struggling, open up about it. It might help relieve some of the pressure and hearing someone else’s perspective could be a good reminder that everyone else is working hard to reach their goals, too. 

There are also programs and incentives to help make home buying easier, including: 

The new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (launching September 2, 2019) is intended to help qualified buyers reduce their monthly mortgage carrying costs. 

The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) allows you to borrow up to $35,000 from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to buy or build a home.

The First Time Home Buyers’ (FTHB) Tax Credit allows you to claim up to $5,000 for the purchase of a qualifying home, providing up to $750 in tax relief to eligible buyers.  

Saving for a home isn’t easy, but if you have a plan and stick to it, you’ll be on the right track to affording a home that’s right for you. 

The article above is for information purposes and is not financial or legal advice or a substitute for financial or legal counsel.

6 Simple Kitchen Updates I Did Before Listing My House for Sale

Clean, Modern Design Kitchen
Credit: Rob and Julia Campbell/Stocksy

When my husband and I were about to list our house, I asked my real estate agent about the best kitchen upgrades to make before selling. His traditional response of painting the walls and tidying up left me feeling underwhelmed.

It’s been proven time and time again that updated kitchens and bathrooms help improve a home’s value — and can contribute to it selling faster. According to Zillow, a minor kitchen remodel can yield an 81 percent return on investment. 

Since my husband and I wanted to list our home in a matter of weeks and didn’t have the budget to remodel the kitchen, we chose to do some smaller but very noticeable kitchen updates instead. Here’s what we focused on that paid off and really caught buyers’ attention when selling our home. 

A Fresh Cabinet Paint Job

Repainting our kitchen cabinets was a must. They were white and were starting to look pretty worn. Just wiping off the food and grease stains from cooking was not enough. So we purchased a can of white paint from Home Depot and gave them a complete makeover. The difference was day and night. 


If you’re feeling creative or really want to give your kitchen a fresh look, you can even change the paint color entirely or try the two-tone kitchen cabinet trend. 

New Cabinet Hardware

Changing out the cabinet hardware was a small and easy job that made a noticeable difference. You can find cheap yet sturdy kitchen cabinet hardware on Amazon or at any home improvement store. Then, it’s just a matter of taking measurements and installing them. Our kitchen cabinet hardware, along with the fresh coat of paint, made the room look more modern and upscale despite our home being more than 50 years old.

Post Image
Credit: Jennifer Brister/Stocksy

Upgraded Appliances

Since our kitchen had mismatched appliances, we knew we wanted to upgrade everything to stainless steel. We purchased a refrigerator and over-the-range microwave. Matching appliances weren’t a requirement in my opinion but rather a nice gesture for the future buyers so they wouldn’t have to worry about doing it. Plus, I think it contributed to the overall updated look of the kitchen rather than taking away from it.

A New Faucet

A new faucet wasn’t a planned update, but we had a plumber do some work on our sink and we found out we’d need one. So, I figured why not make the most of it and get something that was both stylish and easy to use? I went with a modern-looking faucet with a tall spout.

A New Light Fixture

If the lighting in your kitchen seems dim, consider adding a new light fixture to freshen up the appearance of the room. Home Depot and Lowes have some beautiful and reasonably priced lights. Depending on the fixture and the lightbulbs it needs, you could even decrease energy consumption with this quick change as well. 

Kitchen Island

After four years of living in my home, the one thing I didn’t like about my kitchen was the limited counter space. Whenever I’d cook dinner and have multiple things going at once, I almost always ran out of space to put things down — and it was frustrating.

I purchased a movable kitchen island from Amazon about a year before listing our home and tried to match the color of the island with my kitchen counters as best as I could. This was helpful in terms of prepping and just having extra storage. 

The kitchen island was also a huge hit during showings. I always kept it clear with nothing but a vase of fresh flowers on top. Realtors started placing their cards on the island after showings and I imagine it was a central place to briefly discuss the home with their clients before heading out. 

The island didn’t fit the style of kitchen we have at our new house, so we put it out on the curb during moving day. However, the new buyers loved it so much that they grabbed it and placed it back in the home during their final walkthrough. 


At less than $500, these updates were worth it.

Not everyone can afford to remodel their kitchen, especially if you’re trying to sell your home anyway. Making a few small but meaningful updates could leave a lasting impression on real estate agents and their clients. Overall, we spent less than $500 updating our kitchen minus the new appliances from Home Depot, which totaled around $1,200.

Even decluttering and staging your kitchen can be a great start. So roll up your sleeves, clear the counters, and see what you can accomplish on a budget.



This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: The Simple Kitchen Updates I Did Before Selling My House

15 Tile Showers To Fashion Your Revamp After

Tile showers have a certain bit of luxury attached to their design. And fortunately enough, they’re easy than you think to design and create. You just have to have the right bit of inspiration to get your vision started. Here are 20 tile showers to fashion your revamp after and hopefully spark some creativity!

dark stone shower cave 15 Tile Showers To Fashion Your Revamp After

From ceiling to floor, this warm, enveloping shower design is filled with dark tile and pebbles too. We love the fact that there’s a seat right inside for an extra bout of relaxation as well. The glass door provides ample lighting since it’s a darker space while the textural bits keep it just as stylish as it is functional.

rustic tile shower idea 15 Tile Showers To Fashion Your Revamp After

Home Epiphany showcased a tile shower that we’re certainly not used to seeing. With a plethora of rustic, country-flavored style, this design is filled with wood-inspired tiles. Even your restroom can be transformed into a space that fits your home’s overall vision and theme with a bit of innovation.

If you want some inspiration for a tile design that shows a little more artistic influence, then this shower from Alone Eagle may be exactly what you need. A combination of richer floor tiles, white tiles with accents from smaller, blue-shaded tiles, you get a modern and personalized vision that ignites a bit more flavor into your bathroom.

A monochromatic scheme, even when it comes to showers, is always a timeless way to design a room. This shower featured white subway tiles as well as hexagon floor pieces that offset and compliment each other beautifully. The cool tone also helps give the illusion of more space, which is always a plus no matter what nook of the house you’re focusing on.


Sometimes a bit of dimension is what you need to create the right amount of interest and style. This slate gray and white tile combination sets a beautiful, serene and modern scene inside this spacious shower. The built-in nooks to hold your essentials is also quite the nice touch, don’t you think?

We instantly fell in love with this beautiful design over at Homebunch. A combination of both classic rusticism and shabby chic style, there’s so much to become excited over. The faux-wood tiling, the smaller-scaled pieces on the floor as well as the patterned tiles as you step outside compliment and contrast in all the right ways.

Steam Shower Dealer features this upbeat, cream tile shower. It has a darker grout that offsets the sharp shapes and modern essence beautifully. With a mid-century, contemporary vibe, those rustic built-in shelves help to blend and cross boundaries without any confusion.

If you want more pizzazz and less “simplicity,” this backsplash-inspired tile design may be exactly what you need. This idea from Her Power Hustle works so well because it’s got the space to move. In a smaller shower this tile choice may feel too cluttered or busy, but with the right lighting and length it feels free and fun.

We found another modern idea on Pinterest and instantly fell in love. Black and white will always be the most timeless and “in style” of color combinations and that doesn’t fall short in the bathroom either. We’re mesmerized by the patterned pairings here and how everything seems to flow and work seamlessly throughout the space.

There’s always glass tile too. It’s a bit retro in style but it’s also unique and pairs well with other more traditional choices. We found this beauty on Home Stratosphere and loved the innovation not only behind the design of the shower but the choice is how it was built and styled. Mixing the best of the past with contemporary lines, it’s a luxury way to start your mornings.

Here we have a tile shower design that’s in a more traditional realm. This is a good example of something to help inspire an older home’s bathroom revamp. Neutral-tiles will compliment all shapes and size spaces as well whites, creams, blacks and grays. It’s a beautiful, no-fuss design to grab ideas from.

New Jersey Custom Tile is showing off some white subway tiles complimented by white grout for a smooth and clean surface. The black and white tile floors add a special bout of personality that finished off the entire design. Again, these combinations are timeless – no matter if you’re driven into a more contemporary or retro light.

It’s quite hard not to swoon over this gorgeous, romantic patterned tile. If you’re looking to truly make a splash and create your very own oasis, think about going a route that’s a bit outside-the-box of what we’re used to. Mornings become a bit cheerier when you’re allowed to wake up in a space that’s filled with beauty and luxury.

We stumbled upon this beauty on Pinterest as well and were immediately taken by not only the marble tile but its placement. The chevron finish provides an extra push of modern, artistic style and it’s monochromatic scheme keeps the vision posh and precise. It plays well with natural lighting as well so the glass doors were a perfect choice.

You’ll find another marble tile shower over at Home Epiphany. With a more unique design, an open top, this shower is filled with space and luxury. The neutral palette creates a polished finish perfect for master suites and contemporary-styled homes.



Stone Flooring 101

Thinking about ripping out your old, stained carpet and replacing it with stone flooring? Take a look at this infographic which includes average pricing, how to take advantage of extra savings, and how these materials were created in the first place. If you’ve got questions about how stone flooring might affect your home’s value, even if you aren’t thinking about selling in the near future, feel free to ask!



Need to Replace Pet-Damaged Carpet? These Are the Best Flooring Options


Need to Replace Pet-Damaged Carpet? These Are the Best Flooring Options

 By Terri Williams

Aug 8, 2022

As a pet owner you know that accidents happen. There are a variety of reasons why our four-legged friends do their business or act out inside the house and on the floor. Maybe they’re marking their territory, or their anxiety may be manifesting in their clawing at the carpet.

However, your home is probably your biggest investment, so you want to maintain its resale value—and keep it from looking and smelling like a litter box. So, what are the best options for pet-resistant flooring that would also appeal to future buyers? Check out our experts’ top recommendations.


Photo by Allen Construction

If you have your heart set on beautiful hardwood floors, you’ll be happy to know that there are a few types of hardwood that are durable enough for Fido.

“Real wood floors are extremely durable and designed to withstand the traffic of busy families, including man’s best friend,” says Michael Martin, president and CEO of the National Wood Flooring Association.

Your dog’s claws will be less likely to scratch harder wood varieties like oak, maple, walnut, or—one of the strongest options—bamboo.

“The hardness of bamboo makes it more resistant to scratches, liquids, and mess, which helps out with pet accidents,” says Derik Keith, real estate agent and co-owner of Keith Home Team Metro Brokers of Oklahoma. “If you’re considering bamboo, be sure to get a medium- to high-priced bamboo flooring since the cheaper options aren’t as sturdy or scratch-resistant.”

Porcelain tile

Photo by Hills & Grant

Your delicate porcelain dinnerware may lead you to believe that this type of material is not the strongest flooring option, but our experts say otherwise.

“The simplest floor to maintain—not only for pets but also for spaces with heavy traffic—is porcelain tile,” says Claire E. Tamburro, principal designer at Tamburro Interiors, in Arlington, VA. “Porcelain tile that has a glaze on it will not absorb any hazardous bodily fluids from pets, and is easy to clean.”

Tamburro notes that sweeping, vacuuming, and wiping with a damp mop are all that’s needed to keep it sparkling.And, there’s an additional benefit to porcelain: It will not absorb odors.

She also recommends using a grout that is nonabsorbent, such as Laticrete Spectralock ($36.95, Amazon), which will prevent liquids from seeping between the tiles and provide excellent stain resistance.

However, you might want to avoid porcelain tile if your pup is older and has a hard time getting around.

“Many dogs do not have good traction on slippery surfaces, and older dogs may get injured and not be able to walk on surfaces without some tactile grip,” says Russell Hartstein, CEO of Fun Paw Care, in Los Angeles.

Luxury vinyl tile

Photo by Pauls Floors

Vinyl, in general, has come a long way since the days of disco.

“Luxury vinyl tile is a great, pet-friendly option as it’s scratch- and stain-resistant,” says Tom Schnitzer, director of flooring at Wayfair. Some varieties are even waterproof.

Many people choose luxury vinyl tile because it can replicate popular (but less resilient) flooring options like hardwood or marble, and it costs way less. Materials and installation cost around $3 to $11 per square foot, according to improvenet.com.


5 Signs It’s Time To Go From Apartment To House

Have you been thinking of trading in your previously adequate apartment for a bigger living space? Here are five signs it might be time to move into a single-family residence.


1. You’re ready to expand your family

This is one of the most popular reasons to upgrade. If you’re thinking of having kids, it’s hard to say no to a backyard and the opportunity for a treehouse!

2. You’re feeling cramped in your current space

While apartments can be cozy, a house offers a lot more open space, multiple seating areas when hosting guests (we’ll get to that in a moment), and a clear separation between the bedrooms and the rest of the house.

3. You want to host people more often

Your current apartment can probably only comfortably fit so many people. If you want to have more parties and gatherings at your place, moving into a house is definitely your best bet.


4. You crave more privacy

Hate that your neighbors are always asking you to turn down the music? Tired of hearing arguments from that couple upstairs? It might be time for you to move into a place entirely your own so you can have as many dance parties as you want!

5. You’re tired of constantly taking your pet outside

Pets might be our best friends and loyal companions, but it wouldn’t hurt for them to be a little more independent. Moving into a home with a backyard would allow the opportunity to have a dog door, meaning your pet can just go right outside whenever they feel the need and you can go on living your life!

Think it might be time to start the search for your dream home? Let’s talk today!

Everyone loves to save money on as many products as we possibly can. However, one product we all tend to forget about especially homeowners is the electric bill. Your electrical bill can actually be one of the most expensive home bills because many homeowners are not aware of the small steps they can take to reduce the monthly expense.

Currently, North Americans spend $130 billion on energy alone per year. All this energy is not being completely used, it is actually going to waste. If you really think about it that is a lot of energy being wasted. Therefore, we have looked into 10 home improvement ideas that will make your home more energy efficient. Following these tips will allow you to save more money along the way.

How To Prepare Your Home for Sale

Preparing your home for sale is one of the best things you can do to get top dollar for your property. Think of your house as an investment that you paid long and hard for over the years. All those mortgages, home repairs and home improvements have to count for something, right?

So how do you stage a home to sell for its highest value? Follow these tips to ensure your house gets its fair share of viewers and potential buyers:


The very first thing you should do to prepare your home for sale is to eliminate all the clutter that's lying around the house.

Think of it as a large-scale cleaning ritual that will benefit both you and the buyer in so many ways. One, you won't have to bring all those stuff and move them when the house gets sold, and two, potential buyers will get to see all that real estate and then they can envision how they can use that space.

The key word here is to depersonalize. Remove anything that could give viewers a hint of your style. Take down that coin collection hanging in your wall. The antique figurine has to be stashed or kept away from plain view.

Do an inventory of all the things in your house and divide them into two categories- the ones you want to keep, and the junk items. Hold a garage sale, donate them to the nearest charity or throw out the junk! Do a room by room search- start on the ground floor, work your way up and finally, the garage or the basement.

Follow these tips so you can make the most of your time before relocating to your new home or apartment. You can also hire a professional organizer to get it done if you don't have too much time.


A crowded house does not look good come selling time. Aside from throwing away the things you don't need and the ones that have outlived their usefulness, you should optimize your home's space. This means that any home viewer should be able to step into any area of your home and get a feel for the total space.

Keep a few pieces of key furniture that you really like. If you can't decide, there's always an option to rent storage space for stashing in items that hold sentimental value. You're aiming for a beautiful-looking, organized room that anyone can appreciate.

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You'll want potential buyers to take a glimpse of your home, come inside and see the rooms. You'll want them to have a feeling of happiness, and doubly so if they have kids.

Don't forget to organize your kid's rooms as such so that it looks presentable 24/7. If you have playrooms, allot some time and make sure that it's presentable. The image that each room should convey is the image of your visitor's kids playing in the room as if the house is already bought. This will make them feel at home and appeal to their emotional side.

The bottom line here is that your viewers will not want to see a cluttered playroom that's obviously been played with by children they don't know. Clean up the mess, organize the toys and throw out the things you don't need. You will be surprised at the benefits this step can bring!


Is there such a thing as making all your important items disappear without giving any of it away? Yes, and the answer is storage. More specifically, it's maximizing your storage space.

Let's take for example, clothes. If you have all these clothes lying around and the closets are full, you may want to look up creative storage ideas on the web or with the help of a professional organizer. Implementation of a few storage ideas here and there will really make a difference.

Reorganizing may take up the better part of the day but it sure adds exceptional value to home preparation that it's all worth it in the end.

Adding To Your Home's Curb Appeal

How do you make a good first impression when a potential buyer comes up the driveway and takes a look at your house? You add to the overall curb appeal.

Here are some inexpensive curb appeal upgrades you can do that will increase your property's value tenfold:

Upgrade Your Garage Door

The first things you'll see as you pull up to your home are the front door and the garage door. You can bet that passers-by, viewers and neighbors get to see this as well. Updating your garage door will make a whole lot of difference in curb appeal. If you're stuck for ideas, why not go with windowed or a carriage-style garage door?

Upgrade Your Landscape

Mow the lawn and make it green. Eliminate any debris, fallen branches and weeds to make it look neater. Hire a gardener or do a DIY and plant flowers, bushes and trees in the best possible places. Take hold of plenty of mulch and spread it around to enhance the look of your landscape.

Add Some Lighting

Well-placed lighting on both interior and exterior can make your house more appealing without you doing any real home improvement projects. Some accent lights installed along the walkway and in the planters, and opting for more varied hues can really make a difference in the atmosphere and elegance of your home.



Paint Your House

A fresh coat of paint is considered to be one of the cheapest curb appeal upgrades homeowners can use to increase their home's sale value. It's easy, quick and you can get a huge return of investment down the road. Adding a coat of neutral-colored paint will make your house look new and appealing, especially to first-time home buyers.

Here are some more home improvement ideas that you can do now

  • Put out a new welcome mat. It's a nice touch!
  • Remove family photos, graduation pictures and other personal items on the walls and on shelves.
  • Keep furniture to a minimum.
  • Make some repairs.
  • Clean bathrooms, kitchens and places where there are pungent odors.

Every homeowner has stuff that they hold close to their heart, and you are no exception as a prospective home seller. While such property may have or lack an actual value to your buyers, we always develop a strong emotional attachment to such assets, and the process of de-cluttering your home and taking out these items to make our homes the buyers’ focal point is a difficult step to take.

From experience, if you hire the services of professional organizers in preparation for the imminent sale of your home will not only prove to be cost effective, but it will also save you the stress.

Come to think of it, a professional home organizer has no shred of emotional attachment to your property or home in general. As such, this professional can organize and prepare your home for sale in the best possible way which can give your home its actual value.

Home Remodeling Projects That Offer the Best Return on Investment

man painting inside home while woman and child look on



Home renovations should, first and foremost, improve your home and make it a more enjoyable place to live. But, before taking on any home improvement project, you should consider the return you will get on your investment. This is especially true if you're getting ready to sell your home in the near future.


No project recoups all the money you dump into it, but some come close. Let's look at some of the most common home projects and what you can expect back after you invest your time and money.


Key Takeaways

  • Unlike home improvements, home maintenance does not increase the value of your home.
  • Top projects to increase the value of your home include adding stone veneer, replacing a garage door, minor kitchen remodels, and window replacement.
  • Paint colors can impact the value of your home, with black doors and pinkish taupe living rooms raising the value, while red kitchens lower it.
  • Major remodels in kitchens and bathrooms add more value while you are living there and only see a 53-64% return on investment for resale.

No Increase in Value From Maintenance

First, keep in mind the difference between home improvements and home maintenance. Replacing your old, broken-down furnace does not increase your home's value. It just makes it possible to sell the home.


However, installing dual-pane windows to increase heating efficiency does add value because buyers can perceive the benefit they'll receive from that improvement in lower heating costs.


Top Exterior and Interior Improvements

Every year, Remodeling Magazine releases a cost vs. value report that examines remodeling costs and the resulting increase in home value at resale to determine which projects offer the best return on investment.


Among 22 home improvement projects in the 2021 report, nine out of the 10 best-returning jobs nationwide involved the exterior of the home.

  • The best-performing project was replacing a garage door, which had an average cost of $3,907 and an average increase in home value of $3,663, for a return of 93.8%.
  • In second place was a manufactured stone veneer, which returned an average of 92.1%. The average cost was $10,386, and the average gain in home value was $9,571.
  • The highest-ranked interior remodeling job was a minor kitchen remodel in a midrange home, which returned an average of 72.2% after costing $26,214 and increasing value by $18,927.
  • Fiber cement siding replacement was the next highest-returning project, with an average cost of $19,626 and a return of $13,618 (69.4%).1

Paint Colors

The colors you choose to paint your home inside and out can make a difference in its resale value. Painting goes above and beyond routine maintenance. It increases or decreases visual appeal to buyers and so can result in a higher or lower offer.


The Zillow paint color analysis looked at the effect various paint color choices in different locations throughout the house had on the actual sale price of the home when compared to its estimated value.


The analysis drew some surprising conclusions. For instance, a black front door increased the sale price of a typical U.S. home by 2.9%, while pinkish taupe was the best color for a living room, increasing the home price by 1.3%. A losing color for the kitchen is brick or barn red, which dropped the price of a home by $2,310.2


Kitchens and Bathrooms

Many long-time homeowners feel they must refresh their kitchen and bathrooms before selling if they've remained the same for many years. These jobs, though, seem to pay off more in pride for the homeowners while they're still living there than they do in return on value at resale, especially when it comes to expensive homes.


According to the cost vs. value report, a bathroom remodel in a midrange home returned only 60.1% on the average investment of $24,424. For an upscale home, the return was even worse: 54.8%, based on an average cost of $75,692.


A similar pattern emerged with kitchens: A major kitchen remodel in a midrange home returned 57.4% on an average investment of $75,571. A major remodel in an upscale home was the worst of the four projects. Its return on investment was 53.9% on average after a typical project cost of $149,079.1


The real value in those types of remodels is the enjoyment you get out of them. If you're not planning to stay long, you may want to think twice about a kitchen or bathroom remodel.


5 Fresh Kitchen Backsplash Ideas

Backsplashes have come a long way from their humble beginnings. Once installed only to protect walls from water, grease and food splatter, the original backsplashes were just four inches high and had little decorative appeal.

Today’s backsplashes are essential kitchen accents, adding vibrant pops of color, light and texture — in addition to protecting walls from inevitable kitchen messes. If your kitchen needs a face-lift, here are five dynamic backsplash ideas to provide a finishing touch.

1. Ceramic and glass tiles

  • Cost: Moderate.
  • Maintenance: Tiles are easy to clean, but grout can stain and should be resealed regularly.

Those craving historic authenticity need look no further than ceramic tile, the original backsplash material. Beautiful ceramic tiles remain popular for their durability, versatility, low maintenance and affordability — but today’s tiling options also include glass, which adds a captivating play of light. Whether you prefer glass or ceramic, you’ll find colors, shapes and patterns to fit with modern and traditional kitchens.

Tiles are generally resistant to both water and heat. They clean up easily, but the grout lines between them are vulnerable to stains.

» MORE: 5 kitchen remodel loans: Compare financing options

2. Chalkboard paint

  • Cost: Low.
  • Maintenance: Some chalkboard paints are difficult to clean; the backsplash may require touching up.

For a quick and affordable touch of whimsy, try a chalkboard paint backsplash. This special paint is made from hard pigments and dries to a finish much like a real chalkboard. Write menus and messages on it with regular chalk, or draw pictures. Use a standard chalk eraser or damp cloth to wipe your backsplash clean.

Chalkboard paint is usually classic black but is available in other colors too. For easy upkeep, look for chalkboard paints that are washable and scrubbable. While these backsplashes are fun and require only periodic touch-ups, be aware that a dark backsplash may make your kitchen look smaller.

3. Glass panels

  • Cost: Moderate to high.
  • Maintenance: Glass requires frequent cleaning to keep looking neat, but is easy to wipe down.

For a small kitchen, there’s nothing like glass to create the illusion of space and make a bold statement. Backsplashes made of smoked mirror or colorful glass panels can open up the room by reflecting light and give a kitchen a clean, modern look.

Glass is waterproof, low-maintenance and easy to wipe down, but because of its reflective surface, it requires more frequent cleaning to keep it looking neat. Splatters and fingerprints will show, especially on mirrors, making it an impractical choice for some.

» MORE: What a kitchen remodel costs — and ways to save

4. Metal

  • Cost: High.
  • Maintenance: Stainless steel is easy to clean and low-maintenance; copper should be sealed regularly to maintain shine.

Much like glass, metals such as copper and stainless steel reflect light to brighten and open up space. Metal backsplashes come in many textures and sheens, including shiny, brushed and hammered. Some also include patterns.

Metal is a durable and heat-resistant option for modern or industrial aesthetics, and it tends to be expensive. Stainless steel requires little maintenance other than wiping up acidic splashes quickly, but copper may require sealing or a periodic salt and lemon rub to remove patina, which can make it look green.

5. Stone

  • Cost: Moderate to high.
  • Maintenance: Natural stone requires annual resealing, and rough surfaces can be difficult to clean; engineered quartz is low-maintenance and easy to clean.

From the elegance of polished granite to the understated vibe of slate, smooth cool stone makes any kitchen feel luxurious. Stone backsplashes come in countless colors and patterns to match almost any decor, and this popular choice could add value to your home.

No two natural stone backsplashes are exactly alike. And while they do require annual resealing, they’re highly durable and heat-resistant. Engineered quartz provides an attractive, low-maintenance alternative to natural stone while presenting a more uniform look.

Although stone can be expensive, don’t rule it out completely if your budget is limited. Pairing stone backsplashes with a more affordable countertop material can give your kitchen a high-end feel while keeping overall costs in check.

The article 5 Fresh Kitchen Backsplash Ideas originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Natal Day – August 1, 2022

Everyone loves to celebrate a birthday, so on August 1, have a Happy Natal Day — in honor of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. A holiday that began in 1895, Natal Day was organized as a way to celebrate Nova Scotia’s history. Natal, in case you’re wondering, is from the Latin word for “birth.” Festivities for this holiday typically last the whole weekend before Natal Day (which falls on a Monday), so get ready to celebrate, attend a lot of outdoor parties and eat a ton of cake. Hello? It’s a birthday after all.


Natal Day is a popular civic holiday celebrated in the Halifax-Dartmouth region every year on the first Monday of August. The festivities are marked with parades, fireworks, races, cake-cutting ceremonies, concerts, and more.

Natal Day was first celebrated on June 21, commemorating the founding of Halifax in 1749. The town historian Dr. John P. Martin wrote about how Natal Day celebrations shifted to August in his book “The Story Of Dartmouth.” The first annual Natal Day started in the summer of 1895. For many years, Dartmouth observed Natal Day of Halifax on June 21 — most shops were open only until noon, and schools were closed for the day. Dominion Day would mostly pass unrecognized, while June 21 was celebrated jubilantly.

The townsfolk decided to have their own Natal Day, with the holiday date coinciding with the inauguration of the first train arriving on the new railway line in the area. As the new railway branch was scheduled to be completed by August of 1895, preparations to host a summer carnival began earlier in the same year. Special fares were requested to be issued so out-of-town visitors could visit Dartmouth and observe the area’s residential and industrial potential, as well as witness the beautiful scenery surrounding Dartmouth Lakes.

By June, it was evident that the railway branch would not be finished that year. The locals and the Dartmouth Committee went ahead with their celebration plans for Natal Day at First Lake in August. In 1906, a half-holiday was declared by Halifax on the same day as Dartmouth’s Natal Day.



5 Steps to Take When You’re Ready to Sell

Your home is likely your largest investment. When it’s time to sell, you’ll want your investment to impress buyers and earn top dollar. A real estate agent can suggest ways to make the process go smoothly, but all homeowners can take some basic steps even without professional help.

Here are five important steps to take when you’re ready to sell your house.

1. Declutter

Remove knickknacks, toys and other belongings that clutter the rooms in your house to make the spaces seem larger and more open. Buyers will also have fewer distractions as they walk through the home.

Don’t plan on shoving your clutter into closets, though, because potential buyers will open closet doors as they tour your house. If you have a lot of clutter and find it hard to get organized, consider temporarily renting storage space for some of your belongings.

2. Repair damaged items

If you have small issues, such as holes in walls or lights that don’t work, now’s the time to fix them. To get an idea of what you need to repair, walk through your home and imagine yourself as a buyer, or walk through with a friend you can trust. Are there defects that you’ve learned to overlook but that would catch your attention when seeing them for the first time?

You’ll also want to make sure you correct major issues that a buyer may not see immediately, such as problems with the heating and cooling system, before you put your home on the market. A potential buyer will probably hire a home inspector before closing. If the inspector finds problems, the sale could be put on hold until they’re resolved.

3. Deep clean

Go beyond your weekly cleaning routine. Every surface a potential buyer sees is a surface that needs to be clean. Messy spaces could send the message that you don’t take care of your home, and it could make potential buyers wonder what else is wrong with the property.

A deep cleaning means shampooing carpets, washing windows and cleaning tile grout throughout the house. Pay special attention to bathrooms; make sure fixtures are sparkling and wipe out any dirt rings or mold patches.

Keep up the cleaning routine while your home is on the market. If you’re pressed for time, consider hiring a weekly cleaning service.

4. Plan pleasing scents

You probably don’t want buyers who enter your home to catch lingering odors from last night’s dinner. For a nicer aroma, add fragrances around the kitchen and throughout your home.

The smell of freshly baked cookies is pleasant for many buyers. If you prepare a batch just before a showing — and offer them to the buyer and real estate agent — you could make your home stand out.

There’s no need to worry if you’re not much of a baker. A few well-placed sticks of cinnamon or citrus fruit, such as oranges, can also produce a refreshing scent. In fact, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Retailing and reported by the Wall Street Journal determined that a simple orange aroma encouraged buyers to spend more money at a home decor store, compared with other scents.

5. Stage your home

Your decor expresses your personality, but home shoppers may have different tastes. Consider changing the decor to appeal to a large number of buyers. This practice is known as “staging,” and it could mean you rearrange furniture, tone down dramatic wall paint with more neutral colors or even rent new pieces of furniture until the home is sold.

In a 2015 National Association of Realtors report on home staging, 52% of buyers agents reported that their buyers were willing to increase the amount of money offered for a staged home compared with a similar property.

You could ask your real estate agent for design suggestions and stage your home on your own. Or if you’d prefer a professional home stager, your agent may be able to suggest someone. You can also contact the Real Estate Staging Association for names. The survey showed the median amount homeowners paid for staging services was $675.

Take note of these five steps to get your home ready to sell before you put it on the market. The effort you make repairing, cleaning and staging can pay off big when a buyer makes an attractive offer on your house.

This article originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Quick Ways to Turn Buyers OFF!

If you're starting to think about selling your home, prepare by avoiding these buyer deterrents! 

Dirt and Odor and Clutter, Oh My!

This one is simple: Your home needs to be as clean as physically possible if you want to get the highest price for it. More often than not, this will require carpets to be shampooed, kitchens and bathrooms ‘deep cleaned,’ and in many cases, sellers will need to completely organize or clear out their garages.

Dated Features

The feeling of a dated home can be caused by a number of factors/features, but it’s an overall feeling that can really hurt your home’s value. There’s obviously a huge range of costs associated with updating the look and feel of your home, but even something as simple as replacing doorknobs and the hardware on your cabinets can make a world of difference.

Unkempt Yard

Clearly, these homeowners have placed curb appeal toward top of their priority list.

It always comes back to curb appeal. If a prospective buyer pulls up to your home and the first thing they notice is how much yard work would be in store for them if they bought the house, that’s obviously not a great start. When things look amazing outside, it makes it much easier to check out the inside with an open mind. The last thing you want is potential buyers deciding they’re not interested before they even step through the front door!

The Most Famous House in Every Province

From architectural marvels to major historical landmarks, these famous Canadian homes are worth exploring when it's safe to travel again.

1 / 11
Most Famous house in every province - Craigdarroch Castle

The Most Famous House in British Columbia

Craigdarroch Castle

There aren’t many legit castles in Canada, but Craigdarroch is certainly one of them. This Victoria landmark has been carefully restored to its Victorian-era splendour, offering visitors a glimpse into the high life of coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his family in the late 1800s. Modelled after a Scottish Baronial mansion, this National Historic Site is as impressive today as it was when its doors first opened 130 years ago.

2 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Lougheed House

The Most Famous House in Alberta

Lougheed House

A contemporary of Craigdarroch, Calgary’s Lougheed House was built by Senator Sir James Alexander Lougheed in 1891. The sprawling 14,000 square-foot sandstone mansion is a popular attraction in the Beltline neighbourhood, drawing visitors with its grand Victorian interiors, curated exhibits and nearly three acres of gardens. High tea in the Lougheed House Restaurant—under the helm of famed Calgary chef Judy Wood—is a must.

3 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Grey Owl's Cabin

The Most Famous House in Saskatchewan

Grey Owl’s Cabin

“Far enough away to gain seclusion, yet within reach of those whose genuine interest prompts them to make the trip, Beaver Lodge extends a welcome if your heart is right.” – Grey Owl

Tucked within the Million Acre Wood of Prince Albert National Park lies an unassuming cabin that was home to an international legend. British-born Archibald Stansfeld Belaney—also known as Grey Owl—moved to Canada in 1906 and became a trapper, conservationist and writer. Grey Owl’s cabin and final resting place can be accessed by foot (if you’re up for a 20-kilometre one-way hike), boat or guided tour.

4 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Nellie's Homes

The Most Famous House in Manitoba

Nellie’s Homes

As a suffragette and politician, Nellie McClung was a leading figure in the movement to give women the right to vote, first in Manitoba (1916) and then across Canada. Two of Nellie’s homes can be found in the tiny town of Manitou, a two-hour drive southwest of Winnipeg. Wandering through the charming historic buildings will give you a feel for not only the life of this remarkable woman, but of the challenges pioneering women faced at the turn of the century.

5 / 11
Most famous houses in Canada - Rideau Hall

The Most Famous House in Ontario

Rideau Hall

The home and workplace for each Governor General since 1867, Rideau Hall is where Canadians are honoured and world leaders are welcomed during state visits. Situated at 1 Sussex Drive, it’s just down the road from the Prime Minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex, though currently, the Prime Minister and his family live at Rideau Cottage on the Rideau Hall property. Who knows? You just might spot the Trudeaus amid the 79-acres of beautifully landscaped grounds.

6 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Habitat 67

The Most Famous House in Quebec

Habitat 67

One of the most recognizable and iconic buildings in Canada, Habitat 67 is a Montreal housing complex that was originally built as a pavilion for Expo 67, the World’s Fair. Designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, the identical, prefabricated concrete forms arranged in various patterns redefined urban living at the time.

7 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Roosevelt Cottage

The Most Famous House in New Brunswick

Roosevelt Cottage

Even though Franklin Roosevelt clearly wasn’t Canadian, his summer getaway on New Brunswick’s Campobello Island is one of the province’s most cherished homes. FDR and his family spent the summers of 1909 to 1921 at this electricity-free cottage, which has been preserved in that state as the centrepiece of Roosevelt Campobello International Park.


8 / 11

Most famous house in every province - Maud Lewis house

The Most Famous House in Nova Scotia

Maud Lewis House

It’s not just the vibrant paintings folk artist Maud Lewis created that are worthy of wonder—her house is, too! Lewis lived most of her life in poverty in a tiny cottage in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia. Making do with what she had, Lewis turned her house into living canvas, painting pretty much every surface from the doors to the breadbox to the windows. In order to preserve this one-of-a-kind cottage, the Province of Nova Scotia purchased the home and handed its care over to the the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia—the largest arts museum in Atlantic Canada. The cottage now sits—intact!—within the gallery, accompanied by a permanent collection of Lewis’s art.

9 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Green Gables

The Most Famous House in Prince Edward Island

Green Gables Heritage Place

Anne Shirley may have been a fictional character, but the setting of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s famed novels is very real. That doesn’t make Green Gables any less magical, of course, as hundreds of thousands of delighted visitors from all over the world discover every year. Step back in time at one of the site’s old-fashioned Sunday picnics, then join a summer tour of the 19th century gardens, Haunted Wood and Lover’s Lane—just as they were depicted in the books.

10 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Hawthorne Cottage

The Most Famous House in Newfoundland and Labrador

Hawthorne Cottage

Commander of the SS Roosevelt for Admiral Peary’s North Pole expeditions in the early 1900s, Captain Robert Bartlett is a true Canadian legend. One of the world’s greatest arctic explorers, Bartlett survived a dozen shipwrecks, yet always managed to return home to Hawthorne Cottage in Brigus, Newfoundland. Now a National Historic Site, Hawthorne Cottage is an excellent example of 19th century merchant housing, where visitors can relive Bartlett’s daring exploits, viewing rare artifacts from his expeditions.

11 / 11

Most famous house in every province - Sam McGee's cabin

The Most Famous House in Yukon Territory:

Sam McGee’s Cabin

There are many treasures to be found inside Whitehorse’s MacBride Museum, but one of the most intriguing lies outdoors: the original cabin of Sam McGee. Immortalized in the Robert Service poem The Cremation of Sam McGee, it turns out McGee was an actual person—a road builder and prospector living in the Yukon. He moved into this rustic cabin in 1899, living there with his wife for the next 10 years. Much like the poem itself, the cabin serves as an evocative time capsule of life in the Klondike.

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers with Young Children

Starting the search for your first home purchase is an exciting, scary and overwhelming time! It can be incredibly easy to get caught up in the waves and lose sight of what matters most.  Choosing a home for your family is important! Check out our top considerations for first time home buyers with young children.

The old cliché, ‘location, location, location’

The location of your home and the surrounding area is arguably the number one priority for many first time home buyers with young children. Having kids in the mix means you have to consider a variety of factors! Taking the time now to prioritize and decide can save headaches down the road.

Your location determines the proximity to schools, convenience stores, your job, attractions, friends and more. It’s often the first and most important search parameter to be decided during any home search!

Before deciding on a location consider these common questions:

  • What are the school systems like (now, and for the future!)
  • Are there private or charter school options available?
  • How close is your childcare for off days and summer months?
  • What is the proximity to your family and friends?
  • How close are you to your jobs?
  • What are the neighborhoods like? (sidewalks, bike paths etc.)
  • What is the distance to attractions like parks, pools, etc.?
  • How far are convenience stores and grocery stores?
  • How are property taxes?

Taking the time to find a home in a neighborhood that you can enjoy, and that suits your lifestyle, is of the utmost importance. For many, this will be your home for decades to come!

Decide your budget for your first home

Relying on your pre-approval letter is not the best way to decide your budget when searching for your first home! Unfortunately, pre-approval letters don’t provide a great ‘big picture’ view. Take that step further and add your (expensive) precious children into the mix and we need to do some serious number crunching. Deciding on a budget when shopping for your first home is incredibly important!

Start with the basics. What are you comfortable paying now (for rent, for example) and work backward to the down payment, interest and ultimately cost of a home that you would easily be able to transition to. Don’t forget to factor in taxes, insurance, and utilities! On top of general home repair and maintenance expenses, your regular budget should be pretty well set in stone. For help, use the easy Mortgage Calculator.

When planning for the future, searching for a home when you have small children requires some extra legwork.  Depending on the area you decide to purchase in, you may have to consider private schools, different childcare, higher taxes and more.  If you have private school tuition or college tuition in your future – Take care to budget accordingly! All of the different pieces of the puzzle will come together, but it is important to make sure all your pieces are out on the table.

Another important factor is to search for homes that do not have ‘big ticket’ expenses looming, or to budget accordingly if you select such a home. Don’t set yourself up for large expenses like a new roof, septic system, new driveway, new deck, plumbing or major remodeling if your budget cannot support it.

Oh, and one last thing: do yourself a favor and don't buy during a seller's market. You'll thank us later.

Non-negotiable home features

In today’s swarm of technology and Pinterest or Houzz inspired daydreams, we can easily get carried away. Unless you have an unlimited budget or plan for some upgrades and remodeling, it may be necessary to bring your priority list back to planet earth.

Deciding the home features that your family requires, prefers or wants to avoid can make your home search much easier. 

Starting with very simple considerations, listing the home features you need can help keep your entire search on track.  How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? Do you have a budget and plan for updates and remodeling, or are you moving in as is? 

Thinking about what is necessary now, and also what is needed in the future, will ensure you make a smart investment!  Buying a home with small kids may not be a picnic, but it can provide a ton of opportunity to take the time to search for what you want! Take into consideration the type of floor plan that fits your family best, but also will accommodate your kids (and your family) as they grow over time.  It is wonderful to have a home that your children will want to spend time in later in life, including entertaining friends and more. Functional space is key for your first home!

Here are 10 common features to look for when buying a home with young kids

  1. Number of rooms and bathrooms
  2. Bathroom details – Bathtubs, etc.
  3. A safe place to play (fenced yard, play area, etc.)
  4. Child safety – locks, banister guards, pool fences, etc.
  5. Functional space in laundry, kitchen
  6. Pantry and food storage / bulk storage
  7. Storage / closets
  8. Great flooring
  9. Great paint
  10. Accessibility (Parking, storage, etc.)

Whittling your list of features can help guide your home search.  Keep in mind, what may sound like a non-negotiable now may change as you begin to look!  Buying your first home is exciting, be sure to take the time to choose a home and neighborhood that fits your family best.



It’s not easy to decide whether you should remodel your home or it makes more sense to move. But if you’re asking the question, chances are you’ll be better off making some kind of change. Maybe your home no longer fits your family’s needs, or perhaps it’s showing signs of age. A home renovation might fix the problem, but so could putting your house up for sale and finding another one.

Either option will affect your wallet. But your decision also could affect much more, from neighbor relationships to school districts and work commutes. You’ll want to make the choice that’s right for you and your loved ones. Here are some tips to help you decide.

List home-improvement goals

Start by making a list of upgrades you’d be willing to pay for, either in your current home or a new one, says Michael Chadwick, a financial advisor in Unionville, Connecticut.

For example, if your family’s growing, you might want to add a bedroom or a bathroom. If you often cook at home but your kitchen space is older and inefficient, it might be time for an update.

“You’ll eventually use this list to estimate how much it would cost for a home remodel, and that can help you decide if it makes more financial sense to upgrade or sell,” Chadwick says.

Learn your local market

There are a few ways to get the answer to that question. One is to compare your home’s value with recent sales in your neighborhood, says Jenelle Isaacson, owner of Living Room Realty in Portland, Oregon. If neighboring homes are worth more than your house, a remodel could bring the value of your property in line with others in your neighborhood, she says. This could be a good investment.

But if you already own the biggest house on the block, you probably won’t get a quick return on your money if you pay for a major remodel. This might not seem like an issue if you plan to live in your home for several years after paying for a renovation. But if you need to move sooner than expected, your home might not sell for enough to make back the money you put into the project.

Be aware of any restrictions that your local community might place on making changes to your home. Contact city officials to learn about building codes and restrictions. And if you’re part of a homeowners association, ask a board member to provide neighborhood home-improvement guidelines.

If you need more space but have restrictions on adding square footage to your home, then selling and buying a bigger home will probably be the better choice.


Estimate home-renovation costs

Find rough estimates for home-renovation projects by reading industry sources, such as Remodeling magazine, which publishes a list of typical renovation costs across the country. The average cost to add a bathroom, for example, is about $40,000, according to the magazine. If you’re leaning toward a remodel, contact a local contractor for a more detailed estimate.

Along with figuring the costs, you’ll also need to decide how to pay for a renovation. Homeowners often fund home-improvement projects with a mortgage refinance, a home equity line of credit or personal savings, says John Walsh, CEO of Total Mortgage in Milford, Connecticut.

“If you have more than 20% equity in your home, you may be able to take some of the money out and use it to pay for a renovation,” he says.

Compare costs for selling your home

If you sell your home, you might not have to pay for major renovations, but you’ll still have expenses. Full-service real estate agents usually charge a commission of about 6% of the purchase price. There also are moving expenses and travel costs to search for homes in different areas, which can add up quickly.

Add these costs together and you can expect to pay thousands of dollars before you even move to a new home. And you’ll need to have a down payment too.

If you have equity in your home, however, you can use money from the sale to help fund your next move, Walsh says.

Weigh emotional benefits

If you’re not happy with your home but like your neighborhood, it might make sense to upgrade the house and stay put, Isaacson says. “Being comfortable with your community is an intangible benefit that can’t be replaced when you move. If you love where you are and depend on your neighbors, it probably makes more sense to remodel,” she says.

The reverse is also true. If you’re not happy with your home’s location, or with other factors that a remodel can’t fix, it might make sense to sell and find another property, she says.

As a homeowner, you’ll want to carefully weigh the choice between remodeling and moving. By considering the financial and emotional effects of both options, you can confidently make the right decision.

This article originally appeared on NerdWallet.

For Valentine’s Day, Couple Your Finances

Money coaches discuss how couples can combine finances and bank accounts while balancing autonomy and partnership.


When Alli Williams married her husband in 2019, she knew she would be marrying into about $150,000 of student loan debt.

Now, a few years later, she and her husband have gotten on the same financial page with their budgets and bank accounts, and they’ve paid off not only his student loans but also their credit cards and their truck. Williams had become debt-free individually when she was 25, and now, at 30, the couple are debt-free together.

"Paying off debt isn’t the hard part," Williams says. "Managing your money is the harder part."

Williams, a South Carolina-based money coach and owner of FinanciALLI Focused, says that when she and her husband got engaged in 2018, that was the first time they created a combined budget. They keep their spending low and benefit from living in a low-cost area, and they’ve been strategic about using percentages of windfalls to pay off debt and to save. But the real key, she says? Frequent communication and check-ins about money.

Money can be a very personal and — at times — stressful component of a romantic partnership. Handling debts, bank accounts, credit cards and bills together isn't only a logistical challenge, it’s also a new avenue for potential conflict. If one half of a couple likes to save money while the other person is a compulsive spender, that pair will likely need to have some difficult conversations to avoid resentment in the long run. For those conversations, there are professionals who can provide guidance and insight.

Benefits of a financial advisor for couples

Similar to a therapist, a financial advisor or money coach can create a safe space for couples to discuss issues and plan for their futures together.

Liz and Dan Carroll, an Oregon-based couple and owners of Mindful Money Coaches, have been married for 31 years. They use their personal success with money management to provide actionable advice to their clients, such as teaching them how to create long-term money plans together.

"Everyone is a good candidate for at least an annual check-in with a money coach," Liz says. "And just like with the compound interest you get with investing, the earlier you start the better."

If you and your partner decide to work with a certified financial advisor instead of a money coach, make sure to choose one that operates as a fiduciary, which means they’re obligated to put your interests ahead of profit. Non-Fiduciary financial advisors make commissions from products they sell to their clients, so they could pressure clients to buy or invest in products that aren’t necessarily helpful.

What options do couples have for managing their money together?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to managing your finances, especially if you’re part of a couple. Some couples prefer to have all of their money combined, others like to keep their finances completely separate, and some prefer a hybrid of the two. No matter the strategy, couples can use joint accounts to manage shared expenses and save for special goals.

The Carrolls don’t recommend that married couples separate their finances, however. Even if one partner has debt or a low credit score, they advise that both partners take on the responsibility of working through financial stumbling blocks as a team.

"Putting it together creates overall accountability," Liz says.

"Couples always bring their own burdens and strengths into a marriage," Dan adds. "So if you’re going into a partnership, you have to accept that you’re going to take the good with the bad."

A tip from the pros: Create a budget just for ‘fun money’

Joint finances don’t necessarily mean that you have to lose your autonomy. Williams and the Carrolls use a system in their relationships that they say creates a sense of independence while staying aligned on their finances: budgeting "fun money" into individual accounts for each person.

"It’s like our 'no questions asked' money," Williams says. "It’s money where we don’t have to check in with each other before we spend it, like my husband spending $10 at Chick-fil-A, or me spending money at Amazon or Target. We use Ally Bank’s buckets feature for our individual accounts, and we technically each have access to both, but we don’t need to check it."

The Carrolls use a similar approach for their fun money.

"It’s still a line item on the budget where everything comes into one bucket, and then some goes out into the fun spending accounts," Dan says. "We highly recommend that each partner gets an equal amount, and then they can do whatever they want with it. It creates freedom for both individuals."

Money management and communication are foundational skills for any committed romantic partnership, and, as Dan Carroll can attest, those skills spill over into other areas.

"It's unanimous from the feedback we get from our clients that talking through money helps the whole relationship."



SOURCE - https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/banking/for-valentines-day-couple-your-finances

Big Year, Small Space: Could You Take on 2022 in a Tiny Home?


Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of micro-size living in a tiny home.

While many homeowners dream of upsizing for space, others instead dream of downsizing for a myriad of reasons like cost, care and comfort. But with the phenomenon of tiny home living prominent in the real estate realm, some are ready to shrink their living space to new levels – even condensing into less than 400 square feet.

Rising in popularity over the past decade, the tiny home movement has been perpetuated by an impending desire for wanderlust. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are looking to redefine their reality.

When it comes to tiny homes, the definition of “tiny” will vary depending on who is asked. While 400 square feet and under has become industry standard, some real estate agents will consider a freestanding structure under 600 square feet a tiny home, too.

An often affordable option, tiny homes tend to be desirable due to their lower cost of living, minimalistic nature, off-grid living capabilities, and appeal to buyers with a persistent sense of adventure. Depending on local zoning laws, tiny homes are also being seen as opportunity for a guest house, backyard office or income property.

“People typically downsize for three different reasons,” says Steve Weissman, CEO of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, a renowned green-certified tiny home builder, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “One is a minimalist lifestyle choice where you want to get away from attachment to possessions. The second is the environmental component and the third would be that it financially makes sense for many to achieve homeownership.”

Are you considering going tiny? Weissman and RE/MAX agent Richard Rolfingsmeyer unpack the pros and cons of buying a tiny home.

The Pros: Affordability, Sustainability and Freedom

“When downsizing this small, your overall cost is less, so it allows more freedom to upgrade the things that are really important to you. Each tiny house is a work of art and a form of personal expression,” Weissman says.

Tumbleweed’s largest model is just 260 square feet. According to Homeadvisor, the average cost of a tiny home is $45K, but the more customizations, homey details and space-saving solutions are added, the higher the price. Tumbleweed’s intricate tiny homes sell for an average of $100K.


For many, the low cost of a tiny home in comparison to a traditional house could present an opportunity to become a homeowner sooner than planned or own a home outright without a mortgage. Plus, monthly bills – like electricity and gas – are significantly lower when operating within a micro-sized footprint. Speaking of which, a traditional layout for a tiny house includes a ground level room with a kitchen, living area and bathroom, and a sleeping loft atop.

“The house itself is consuming a lot less propane and using less power,” Weissman says. “And when you’re living there, your consumption is less, too. You're not filling your house with furniture and other random things. It really is a lifestyle change.”



Aside from the occasional ambitious DIY-projects, most tiny homes begin with a builder, like Tumbleweed, which sells direct to consumer. A real estate agent steps in when it’s time for resale.


Richard Rolfingsmeyer, better known as “Richard-REALTOR®," an agent with RE/MAX Real Estate Results in Bentonville, Arkansas, kickstarted his experience with tiny homes when he appeared on an episode of the HGTV show Tiny House Hunters. His on-air client was pursuing micro-living primarily for its sustainable benefits, like using less energy and natural resources on a daily basis.

The client also wanted the freedom to roam. Depending on how they’re situated, tiny homes provide homeowners the flexibility to get up and move with their house in tow.


“Your tiny house can be mobile if you have an easy way to load it on a flatbed or trailer. On the other hand, if you have it on a concrete block foundation, moving is difficult and the location is more permanent. My client specifically wanted a situation where she could connect her home to a vehicle and be able to go,” Rolfingsmeyer says.

“[My client] also didn't want to be tied down to a mortgage or a plot of land. Her whole idea was to be able to travel the country and meet new people all while working a job and having a reliable home-base,” he adds.

In addition to serving as a primary dwelling, tiny homes are an unconventional – yet more affordable – option for second-home ownership. For vacation purposes, they are widely treated like a cabin and can be seen in mountainside or woodsy settings to get away and immerse with nature.


The Cons: Storage, Privacy and Land Logistics

The ideals of tiny home living must be met with reality, and a sizable consideration is storage – or lack thereof.

“Many people like their stuff – and like to accumulate even more stuff. If you're having to get two or three storage units to store your possessions just because you want to live in a tiny house, then that's maybe not the most cost-effective way to go tiny,” Rolfingsmeyer says.

A minimalist lifestyle is what draws many to tiny home living in the first place. But an ongoing commitment to minimalism is a must to maintain livable conditions. For those who are able to pare their possessions down to few, most tiny homes will suffice with elaborate storage solutions and dual-purpose features like drawers nestled in stairs and furniture that folds to nearly nothing.

“Something I've learned about people who live small is that they are more interested in investing in experiences rather than things,” says Weissman, a minimalist himself.

Sharing such small space can also be a point of contention, so those interested in going tiny must really enjoy spending quality – and quantity – time with their roommates.

“In smaller spaces, even little noises and sounds can start to get on your nerves,” Rolfingsmeyer warns.

Regardless of whether a whole family or just one person and a dog is living inside a tiny home, condensation can become an issue. Weissman recommends ensuring the tiny home you buy – whether it’s new or being resold – has a proper ventilation system for optimal air quality.

“Especially in colder climates, you start getting condensation. And as a result, mold is a relatively common problem in tiny homes,” he explains. “However, we created a heat recovery ventilation system and over the years it was adopted by other tiny home builders, too. [The system] circulates air through the tiny house and makes for a much healthier environment.”

According to Weissman, only 5% of tiny home owners move their home around regularly and 20% move it once every five years. Most buyers must arrange or purchase a permanent space for the structure to live because, unlike buying a traditional house, a tiny home more than likely won’t come with land.

“The majority of our homes are going into a backyard, and then some are going into a tiny house community,”  Weissman says. “But for those that aren’t, the owners have to consider buying a plot of land.”

So, if you’re up for adventure – or are looking for a way to potentially save money while reaping the benefits of homeownership – consider taking on a big year ahead in a tiny home. Rolfingsmeyer suggests getting in contact with your local RE/MAX agent to discuss new versus resale options, land, local tiny home communities and more.

Clever Ways to Finally Upgrade An Old Worn Down or Dated Fireplace

What you should know if you’re taking possession of a home in 2022


Photo: Roman / Adobe Stock

For thousands of people, 2022 is the year that they take possession of a brand new home.

While it’s exciting to turn the key for the first time in your new home’s front door, there’s several national and global influences at play that will shape the closing and possession phase of buying a property this year.

If you’re preparing to move into new digs in 2022, here are a few things that you may want to take into consideration.

Furniture and appliance orders are still delayed

If you’re waiting on that sectional to arrive or the bed frame you love to come back in stock, you belong to the many people who have been impacted by furniture delivery delays and shortages.

Several countries around the world have been experiencing long delivery times thanks to a host of COVID-19 and global supply chain problems, from backed-up shipping ports to factory closures overseas. The red-hot real estate market, which has seen renters and homeowners move to new digs throughout the course of the pandemic, has also contributed to the demand for home furnishings.

Experts are hopeful though that things will return to business as usual this year as supply chain challenges ease in 2022.

Mortgage interest rates are staying low, for now

Since the Bank of Canada started cutting its mortgage-influencing overnight rate back in March 2020, new and existing mortgage holders have been able to take advantage of some of the lowest interest rates in history. That could come to an end this year, impacting those looking to lock in a mortgage on a new property.

In its final policy interest rate announcement for 2021, the BoC said that it intends to hold its 0.25 per cent overnight rate at that level until mid-2022. Between Canada’s Big Six banks, predictions have been swirling around a potential four quarter-point rate hike by the end of the year.

This could have a ripple effect on the housing market altogether, with some experts drawing comparisons to 2018, when interest rates increased three times and the stress test was introduced, dropping sales volume by 19 per cent. The current stress test rules for uninsured mortgages in 2022, so far, remain unchanged.

Labour shortages are leading to higher costs

The residential construction industry has experienced widespread labour shortages, making new builds and home renovations take longer to complete and cost more money than usual.

Many tradespeople are hitting retirement age, and there aren’t enough young people or immigrants signing up to fill those jobs. Buildforce Canada estimates the construction industry will need to add more than 116,000 workers by the end of the decade to keep pace with expected demand growth and retirements.

Those labour shortages have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic fuelling Canada’s hot housing market, producing labour imbalances and geographic mismatches. According to Statistics Canada, construction job vacancies increased by more than 34,000 — or 83.7 per cent — between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2021.

The lack of skilled labour has increased demand for tradespeople to complete projects like kitchen and bathroom remodels, as well as flooring and electrical work. Keep that in mind and expect increased costs if you plan to begin any projects this year.

Surging lumber prices make construction more costly

Supply chain issues and reduced inventory resulting from natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic have sent lumber prices skyrocketing once again.

According to Random Lengths, lumber prices have nearly tripled since August, surging to more than $1,000USD per thousand board feet. As a result, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates the average price of a new single-family home has increased by more than $18,600USD, with Canadian consumers experiencing similar cost increases.

Inventory issues stem from strong housing markets and a destructive summer wildfire season along the West Coast, while B.C.’s record November rainfall snarled supply chains and produced a backlog at the Port of Vancouver. The resulting project delays and increased demand for lumber led to the recent spike in prices.

Prospective homeowners will have to factor in rising lumber costs before choosing whether to proceed with new construction or renovation projects.

Photo: ungvar / Adobe Stock

There are still rules around showings and indoor gatherings

With the fifth wave of the pandemic forcing provinces to resume COVID-19 restrictions, those moving into a home in 2022 may need to think about current safety requirements in their region, especially those that impact real estate and communal living areas.

For instance, in Toronto, COVID-19 bylaws were recently extended to April 2022, requiring that masks be worn indoors in shared spaces such as lobbies, elevators and stairwells inside apartment and condo buildings. Under Ontario’s modified ​​Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen, real estate open houses are prohibited and showings are by appointment only. Meanwhile, indoor gatherings are now limited to just five people.

These are important to keep in mind if you’re doing final walkthroughs, inspections or other business that might impact the possession process. Be sure to review guidelines from your local public health unit or provincial government for the most up-to-date COVID-19 restrictions.


Original Post - https://www.livabl.com/2022/01/know-possession-home-2022.html


Header: How Much Should You Put Down?

We hope that your year is off to a great start! Are you thinking about buying a new home this year? If so, you're probably considering and saving for a down payment. But, just how much do you need? Well, that depends on the price of your home.

Homes Under $500,000

In Canada, the minimum down payment for a home is 5%. So if you're buying a home for less than $500,000, you're required to put 5% down.

Homes Between $500,000 - $999,999

Are you looking for a home in this price range? You'll need to plan on 5% for the first $500,000 and then 10% for the amount above $500,000.

Homes $1 Million and Up

​Any home with a purchase price of a million dollars or more requires a minimum of 20% down.


If you're paying less than 20% on any home purchase price, you're required to purchase mortgage default insurance. So, make sure that you consider that in your savings. We hope that this helps you understand your options better. Our Team works with great lenders that can guide you through the mortgage process. Please give us a call, or reply to this email to discuss your move in 2022.

Could the biggest danger to your fur baby be in your own home? Here are 11 health risks for pets you can eliminate right now.

Health risks for pets - easter lilies

Flowers and plants that pose a health risk to pets

Easter Lilies

While they may be pretty, lilies are one of the most poisonous plants for cats. Petside suggests keeping them out of the house (or better yet, purchase artificial flowers). Be aware of symptoms of lily poisoning which include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Call your vet as soon as possible if you think your pet has ingested lily. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says that without immediate care, cats who eat lily may develop life-threatening kidney failure within 36 to 72 hours of ingestion. (By the way, here are 50 secrets your pet wishes they could tell you.)


Holiday poinsettias are also dangerous for pets, though not as worrisome as the lily. This doesn’t mean your pet should eat this pretty red Christmas decoration, since doing so will likely lead to stomach pain and discomfort, including vomiting.

The ASPCA’s compiled a searchable plant database of dangerous plants (listing over 400 items). Check it out if you are considering bringing a new plant home.

Health risks for pets - chocolate

Foods that pose a health risk to pets


Chocolate might have plenty of health benefits for humans, but it’s a harmful food for pets. Petside says most adults know this, but that it’s adults’ responsibility to make sure children know, too. Keep little ones from giving chocolate to pets and do your best to supervise.

All kinds of candy—including candy wrappers

Too much sugar can give your pet a bellyache, but worse, if wrappers are swallowed, your pet risks tearing of the esophagus or intestines. Clean up as best and frequently as you can when candy is being unwrapped.

More harmful foods

Your pets should also steer clear of chewing gum, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocados, onions, garlic, salt, raw yeast dough, and fatty foods.


Health risks for pets - Easter decorations

Holiday health risks for pets

Easter and Christmas decorations

Plastic eggs, if ingested, can rip tears in the digestive system. Likewise, spoiled hard boiled eggs, if ingested, can make pets ill. Easter grass and tinsel are attractive, but deadly. Pets who attempt to eat these garlands and garnishes can choke, or lethally damage their intestines. At Easter, try real grass or crumpled paper instead. At Christmas, cat-proof your tree by avoiding tinsel.

Other holiday safety tips for pets:

New Year’s: Forego confetti and keep an eye on balloons. If they deflate, they become a choking hazard.

Valentine’s Day: Keep their paws off the chocolates and far from the flowers.

Thanksgiving: Throw turkey bones in the trash.

Halloween: Use flameless candles, and keep candy out of harm’s way. (Speaking of Halloween, you won’t want to miss these adorable Halloween dog costume ideas.)

Christmas: Keep pets out of tree water, and be attentive when they show interest in ornaments, decoration hooks and ribbon. Here are more holiday safety mistakes you didn’t realize you were making.

Health risks for pets - toys

Toys can pose a health risk to pets

Small, brightly coloured toys hold the same appeal for pets as they do children. The problem is that they are choking hazards. Petside’s advice is to keep small toys in a place safely hidden from pets.

Learn how to spot the signs of cancer in cats.

Health risks for pets - coffee

Drinks that are health risks for pets

Coffee, tea, and alcohol

Coffee and tea leaves are on the ASPCA’s list of People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet, as is alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, and breathing difficulty, among other things.

Health risks for pets - batteries and other small items

Batteries (and other small items) can be health risks for pets

Many small items can lead to choking—even things you would never expect your pet would attempt eating. Be mindful of buttons, small batteries, twist ties, and rubber bands. In the bathroom, keep hairpins, cotton swabs, and dental floss out of reach from your pet. Cut down on clutter throughout your home with these organization tips from Marie Kondo.

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Health risks for pets in the garage

Health risks for pets in the garage

If your pet is your shadow and frequently follows you around the house, remember that garage and storage areas need special attention, too. Keep cleaning supplies, antifreeze, fertilizer, de-icing materials and pesticides in a place pets can’t easily access. “Products containing metaldehyde, such as some slug pellets and firelighters, are extremely toxic, and should be kept away from pets,” according to Blue Cross. “Antifreeze and de-icer fluids taste sweet, but are also poisonous.” 

Health risks for pets - bones

Bones pose a health risk for pets

While eating meat off the bone might be tastier, if your pet gets a hold of one of those bones it could be bad news. Just like hazardous objects that might be laying around the house, it’s especially important to keep an eye on where your food leftovers end up. “Cooked bones splinter and can cut your dog’s mouth,” says Dana Humphrey, A.K.A. The Pet Lady. “If swallowed, they can puncture their stomach or esophagus too.” The same goes for bone “toys” you find in pet stores—which is why you should never, ever buy one.

Health risks for pets - sticks

Sticks can be a health risk for pets

Your dog might love to play fetch, but you might want to think twice before you pick up that stick outside. Sticks, especially small ones, can pose as serious choking hazards. Instead, Blue Cross suggests throwing a plastic, indestructible object that’s too big for your pet to accidentally swallow.


Health risks for pets - trash cans

Trash cans

It’s easy to forget that trash cans can be health risks for pets, too. Your garbage can might have bones, chocolate, coffee grounds—essentially, a checklist of dangerous items that your fur baby should be nowhere near.  “Make sure your garbage pail comes with a secure lid so you don’t have to worry about Fido or Fluffy getting their paws on discarded rib bones or leftover chocolate cake,” says The Pet Lady, Dana Humphrey.


Health risks for pets - medicine

Medication can pose a serious health risk for pets

Just like humans, if you take medication that isn’t meant for you, it’s probably not a good idea. Human medication isn’t meant for your pets, and might even cause more harm than good. “Painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol are particularly dangerous,” says Blue Cross. “Vitamin and mineral supplements can also be dangerous, particularly iron tablets and products containing zinc.” The same concept applies to different animals: never give your dog cat medication, and vice versa.

Be sure to check out the ASPCA site for tips on keeping your pet safe and poison-proofing your home.

4 Stylish Ways to Modernize Your Home

Here’s How to Pick the Perfect Paint Color Every Time


Time to Redo Your Roof? Get Educated First!

Before you start pricing your new roof, take a look at the pros and cons of all available options. Plus, check out the roofing vocabulary so you can sound like an expert before you talk to one.



What to Look For When Buying a Home in the Winter


Purchasing a property in the winter can be a pretty chill idea. Buying in the wintertime can be advantageous for both home buyers and sellers—with a smaller buying pool, the (typically) off-season market can lend more serious offers from motivated purchasers who benefit from less competition. However, wintery weather can make it tricky to assess a home when you can’t fully see the condition of the property under layers of ice and snow.

Paul Rushforth, broker of record at the Ottawa-based Paul Rushforth Real Estate Inc., and Roger Travassos, a Toronto sales representative with Keller Williams Portfolio Realty, tell us what to look for when buying a home in the winter.

Don’t overlook the home’s exterior

home’s first impression from the sidewalk is always important to consider when buying, and it’s no different during the winter.

Travassos and Rushforth agree it’s crucial to inspect the outside of the home in the winter time. Travassos notes you want to make sure the property’s driveway, outdoor stairs, and sidewalks are shoveled so you can clearly see their condition. A blanket of fluffy snow can also make it a challenge to gauge the property’s roof and grading to see if water is running away from the house correctly.

“Sometimes it can be difficult to see the condition of the roof or the shingles if they’re covered in snow, and then if all of the other roofs [in the neighbourhood] are covered in snow and yours isn’t, it means there’s probably not enough insulation—heat is getting out of the house that shouldn’t be,” explains Travassos.

Image via James Bombales

Landscaping costs for trees and grass can add up, so it’s best to get a sense of the condition of the back and front yards, too. Rushforth says a buyer should ask for pictures of the home in the summertime to assess the state of the yardgardens, and any outdoor structures such as pools.

“You want to know what you’re buying, and the problem with [the winter], everything is covered,” said Rushforth. “You don’t know if there’s grass, if there are weeds, if there’s interlock, if there’s not interlock. Trying to get some recent summer pictures is absolutely key.”

Examine the interiors from floor to ceiling

When touring the inside of the property, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for any wintertime red flags that could indicate issues within the house.

Rushforth says to look for any signs of drafts, fogging, or condensation in the windows that could point to broken seals, allowing cold air to enter the home. 

“Looking in the wintertime, you get to see if there are any drafts in the windows,” said Rushforth. “Can you feel cold air coming through? Do you see any leaking? Are you seeing any water stains?”

Image via Unsplash

As colder weather tends to dry out rooms, Rushforth explains a buyer will want to look for gaping or splitting in hardwood floors, which can speak to the home’s humidity levels. Dryness can cause things to shrink slightly, so a purchaser should inspect the home to ensure interior doors and cupboards can close properly. By feeling the interior walls, you can also assess if they are cold to the touch and therefore poorly insulated—Travassos points out some homes may be double bricked and not insulated.

When viewing a home in the winter, Rushforth notes purchasers should monitor for big differences in temperature between rooms, a sign there could be ventilation problems to address.

“You’re looking for signs of chilly rooms, drafty rooms, or even rooms that are really warm,” said Rushforth. “Why are they really warm in the winter time unless the heat is punched up? You’re looking for differences in rooms that will be a tell-tale sign as to whether there are issues.”

Inspect your home utility systems and out-of-season amenities

The winter often calls for homeowners to shut down seasonal home amenities like pools and cooling systems, but this shouldn’t mean a buyer should skip on investigating these features.

Travassos and Rushforth explain a buyer won’t be able to turn on and test the home’s air conditioning in the winter to confirm if it’s working properly or not. Because of this, it’s important for the buyer to do their due diligence and ask the seller and their agent questions about the state of home systems such as the furnace, septic, pool parts, and other property features. 

“Quite often, additions aren’t done with permits and pipes were not insulated properly, so in really cold months, they freeze a little bit,” said Travassos. “So you want to run the water on all of the taps and make sure you’re not seeing any of that.”

Image via Pexels

For pools and hot tubs, you may want to request copies of receipts, maintenance reports, and proof of professional services to ensure they—as well as all of the other home systems—are in good working order when you purchase the property. As always, opting for a home inspection can be a way to ensure a professional can get a deeper understanding of the property, including in areas like the basement and attic.



SOURCE: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/what-to-look-for-when-buying-a-home-in-the-winter/22652/1361


Buying Your First House: Starter Home or Forever Home?


If you’re a first-time home buyer, you may be wondering: Should you purchase a small starter home to get into the market now, knowing you may grow out of it in a few years? Or, should you stretch your budget — or spend more time saving — to get a “forever home” that will take care of your long-term needs?

Here are some factors to consider as you weigh whether to get a home best suited for the short term or the long haul.

• Market conditions: Mortgage rates are historically low, but there’s no telling how long that will last. Also, many real estate markets nationwide are booming; consider whether to jump in before home prices get even higher, or whether they may weaken.
• Where you want to live: Consider if you’d be OK living for a few years in the suburbs, where you might be able to find something more affordable, or if you’d rather try to snag a home in a different area where you want to live long-term
• How much house you can afford: It ultimately comes down to how much money you have saved and how much you can afford to spend on a monthly mortgage payment. Use a home affordability calculator to see what’s within your price range.
• What kind of house you want: For a starter home, you might go for an apartment, condo or townhouse in an up-and-coming area. If you’re thinking forever home, a single-family detached or a house with land to build an addition later could be a better fit — but it’ll be more expensive.
• The costs of getting out early: If you do spring for a starter house now, and you end up getting married or having kids or needing to move quickly, you may face penalties, such as capital gains tax

Those are some of the big-picture considerations. Let’s dive into the details on what else you need to think about.

Starter home considerations

Your lifestyle: Do you want to be in the middle of a big city, or are you fine with the ’burbs if that means you can own a home? If you want to live centrally, where real estate is most expensive, you’ll probably have to start small. Dana Bull, a real estate agent in Boston with Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty, remembers when she bought her first condo at 22, she could afford only one well outside of Boston, and she had some regret as she missed being in the city near her friends. Consider what you’re willing to sacrifice, both in terms of location and size.

Your future needs: Bull says many first-time home buyers assume they’ll be in a home much longer than they actually are. She says young, single people sometimes don’t realize how quickly life can change. A job switch, new relationship or new baby can alter what you need in a home.

Zachary Conway, a financial advisor with Conway Wealth Group LLC in Parsippany, New Jersey, adds that selling a house can be stressful — especially if you’re in the midst of major life changes such as having a baby.

So, if your life is full of flux and you think you would stay in your starter home for only 1 1/2 to three years, it may be less stressful to keep renting until you’re ready for something large enough to meet longer-term needs.

Capital gains taxes: If you set out to buy a starter home for the short term, be careful, Bull says. If you sell soon after moving in, you may owe capital gains tax on your profit from selling the home.

According to the IRS, individuals are excluded from paying taxes on $250,000 ($500,000 if married) of gain on a home sale as long as the house was used as your main residence during at least two of the five years before selling it. That means you may want to think carefully about buying a home you’ll grow out of in less than two years. Consult a tax professional to see how this could affect you.

Consider an exit strategy: If you’re considering going the starter home route, you should think through from the start how you’ll offload it when the time comes to move, Bull says. For instance you might buy a property that you could rent out to cover your mortgage, especially during times of economic uncertainty, she says. This helps ensure you can cover your mortgage payment if you need to move ASAP, or if the market is weak when you hope to sell but you don’t want to take a loss.

You should also carefully research the area in which you’re looking to buy, Conway says, and confirm “there’s enough resale potential to make sure that even in a market that’s heading downward, you still have a likelihood of being able to get out of where you are.”

Forever home considerations

Interest rates: Conway says that if you decide to wait so you can afford a forever home, there’s a chance interest rates could increase from their current historic lows. “You might be able to scrape together some additional funds in the next few years, but maybe at that point, we may be closer back to historical norms of interest rates, and your mortgage is more expensive,” Conway says. Nobody can predict what will happen, but it’s important to keep a pulse check on mortgage rates.

Hot markets: In many major cities such as Boston, property values are rising rapidly, Bull says. There’s also a lot of uncertainty as to whether home values will plateau or keep going up, leaving first-time home buyers wondering if they should give in to the “feeding frenzy,” she says. If you wait in hopes of saving for a larger home, it’s possible prices will rise faster than you can save, she says.

Your cash flow: Considering your lifestyle and life events is certainly important, “but really at the end of the day, it comes down to the math of do we have the cash flow,” Conway says.

If you want a forever home, you have to ask yourself whether you can afford the larger down payment, and whether your salary supports a higher monthly mortgage payment. Conway says it’s key to create a budget and to carefully track what you save and spend, and to be sure you can afford a more expensive home. Don’t assume your salary will be higher in a few years and go for a bigger mortgage, he says. And don’t forget to factor in higher ongoing expenses like property taxes and homeowners insurance.

» MORE: Calculate your monthly mortgage payment

Don’t stress too much

While making the decision between a starter home and forever home is a major move, Bull says don’t fret too much about making the wrong decision. Remember, she says, “there are always options — you can sell, you can rent, you can put yourself in a position where you can go out and buy another house.”

Conway adds that if you decide you’re not ready to buy for a while, that’s OK too, and you shouldn’t look at rent as throwing away money. “I wouldn’t jump into buying something for the sake of the fact that’s what we were told we should do,” he says. “It really comes down to what you’re comfortable with from a cash flow standpoint and what you want in your life. There’s nothing inherently wrong with paying rent.”

The article Buying Your First House: Starter Home or Forever Home? originally appeared on NerdWallet.

How to Handle Your Urge to Overspend on a New Kitchen

It's all about figuring out where to splurge and where to save

Ask 10 people what to splurge on in a kitchen remodel, and you’ll get 10 different answers. What constitutes an ideal space is highly subjective, and every kitchen remodel is a circus-worthy balancing act of money and priorities. Start by knowing what’s important to you, and then spend strategically.

Look to Your Layout

If you are happy enough with your kitchen’s existing footprint, leave it as is. “Keeping your layout is a surefire way to save money,” says Melanie Burstin, an interior designer from Los Angeles. One of the biggest ways to drive up spending is by tearing down walls and reconfiguring the space, which usually requires expensive professionals to move plumbing and electrical work. Keep outside labor costs low and don’t shift the sink, lighting, and appliances without good reason. That said, if your biggest pet peeve is staring at a wall for hours while you wash your household’s endless stream of dishes, then a new open floor plan with an island sink might just be worth it to you. Pay more for the change, then take money from elsewhere in your budget.

But don’t break out the sledgehammer without investigating less expensive and invasive options first. While remodeling her own dark, cramped galley kitchen (which cost under $20K), designer Velinda Hellen chose to replace a solid-core exterior door on the far wall with a glass option, which visually opened everything up, and let in more sunlight. If you can swing it, adding “larger windows can make a kitchen,” she says.

Material Matters

Well-constructed, durable materials that better withstand the heavy wear and tear of meal prep, cooking, and cleaning are almost always worth the extra money. Avid cooks, in particular, will want to spend more on items that get a lot of use—particularly those that are fixed and hard to replace down the line. While it’s relatively easy and cheap to swap out a pendant light, tearing out and reinstalling an entirely new countertop requires a lot more money and effort. Choose a quality work surface the first time and you won’t have to turn around and shell out more cash in a couple of years when the original one chips or stains.


One of Velinda’s regrets is the cheap $200 eBay faucet she installed in that same kitchen five years ago. Since then, the metal corroded and shoddy threads cause it to spin around at the base. A plumber recently quoted $500 just to replace it, making her yearn for the nicer $650 faucet she originally considered. It would have been a better deal in the long run, without the added hassle. “Although it sounded like a boring thing to invest in on my small budget, I had to learn the hard way that quality plumbing fixtures make a difference,” Velinda says.

Consider Cabinets

Few things cause more sticker shock than new custo m kitchen cabinets. One strategy is to use existing cabinetry wherever possible, especially when it’s made of real wood and still in good condition. Fresh paint and new hardware go far for just a couple hundred bucks, if you tackle the work yourselves. (In fact, the more you knowledgeably DIY, the more you save, whether it’s demo, painting, or even plumbing.) For non-handy types, refacing is also an option, which updates the outwardly visible parts of an existing cabinet framework, namely the doors, side panels, and drawer fronts. It’s not as cheap as a couple of coats of paint, but can make old, outdated cabinets look like a completely new and different animal, without the custom price tag.

Sometimes cabinets aren’t salvageable. Enter IKEA, the best-known brand in the world of ready-to-assemble budget alternatives. Their SEKTION line features modular units with a lot of flexibility and good quality European-made hardware for the price. Save money by going the IKEA route, then skip their doors and upgrade to semi-custom ones from Reform or Semihandmade to substantially elevate the look. You can also powder coat any RTA cabinets, says Velinda, and get picky about exact tones of paint, just as you would with a custom build. “I’m all for that splurge rather than trying paint yourself,” she says. Plus, the finish is easier to clean and will hold up longer, with fewer scratches.

Treat Yourself

After successfully saving your pennies elsewhere, consider at least one decent splurge to take your kitchen to the next level. “Lighting is an easy way to upscale your project, without a huge price tag. Look to Etsy for reasonably-priced, but handmade, pieces that will bring a touch of something special to your room,” says Velinda. “You’ll support makers along the way, so it’s a win-win.”

Melanie herself loves good minimalist design that streamlines everything, and panel-ready appliances—fitted with custom covers that match the rest of the kitchen’s cabinetry—are one of her favorite ways to supercharge the end result. “It's crazy how much more expensive this type of fridge is, but, the cool thing is, once the cabinetry is done, it completely goes away.”