How Much Time Should You Spend Viewing Homes?

Figuring out how much time you should spend viewing properties for sale is a little like asking, “How long should I spend trying on shoes?” The answer seems obvious: As long as it takes to make a decision!

Buying a home is significantly more complex than purchasing shoes – and the stakes are higher too! You need to make sure you have all the information necessary to confidently make the best decision.

There are basically three stages to viewing a property:
1. Macro
2. Micro
3. Professional

When you view a home on a macro basis, you’re looking at it from an overall perspective. For example, you may do a general walk-through to get a first impression and determine if the property has the basic features you need, such as the number of bedrooms and the size of the backyard.

Macro viewing is often the fastest stage in the viewing process and can sometimes take just a few minutes.

If you like what you see, then it’s onto the micro stage. At this stage you take a closer look at the details of the property. You might, for example, spend extra time in the master bedroom imagining how your furniture would look and fit.

The micro stage takes longer simply because the home is now on your shortlist. You’re interested and are considering making an offer.

Finally, the professional stage involves getting a qualified home inspector to go over the property with a fine tooth comb. That typically occurs after you’ve made an offer.

As your REALTOR®, I will guide you through a viewing so you’ll know what to look for and can make a smart, informed decision. Call today.

Finding an Honest Home Improvement Contractor


You can’t call yourself a dentist unless you have specific hard-earned credentials. Just about anyone, however, can hang a shingle and call himself a home improvement contractor. That’s why choosing a reputable one is so difficult. Here are some tips:

  • Find out if he or she is truly in business full-time. A part-time or occasional contractor may not have the experience necessary to do a great job.
  • Ask about licenses and other credentials. Some contractors have accreditations from professional and trade associations.
  • Review his or her project portfolio. A reputable contractor will have photos and other evidence of work completed for similar clients.
  • Check online for reviews. If there are more than five poor reviews within the past three years — that’s a red flag.
  • Ask for references. Then, call at least one.

Finally, the best contractors are those that get recommended by people you trust. Looking for a contractor recommendation? Call today.

Think, Act… Live!


“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

T.S. Eliot

“Reinventing the wheel is sometimes the right thing, when the result is the radial tire.”

Jonathan Gilbert

“To go places and do things that have never been done before — that’s what living is all about.”

Michael Collins

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Strong July Price Growth

TORONTO, ONTARIO, August 4, 2016 – Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that TREB REALTOR® Members reported 9,989 home sales through TREB’s MLS® System in July 2016. At just shy of 10,000 transactions, this was the best result on record for the month of July.

While sales were up on a year-over-year basis, the number of new listings was down over the same period, representing the continuation of a troubling trend in the GTA.


“GTA REALTORS® have been working very hard on behalf of their buyer clients to help them find a home meeting their needs. Unfortunately, listings for single-detached and semi-detached houses and townhouses continue to be in short supply. The result has been an increase in pent-up demand and annual rates of price increases well above the rate of inflation. Housing policy is now top of mind for all levels of government. Policy makers need to be focusing on solutions to the sustained lack of low-rise inventory throughout the GTA,” said Mr. Cerqua.

The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark was up by 16.7 per cent in July 2016 compared to the same month a year earlier. Similarly, the average selling price for all home types combined was up by 16.6 per cent year-over-year to $709,825.


“Relatively strong labour market conditions, above-inflation average income growth, and record low borrowing costs have kept many households confident about purchasing a home. As long as very strong buying intentions are up against an extreme shortage of listings, expect home price growth to greatly outpace the rate of inflation,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

<<To read more click here>>

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Should You Own a Fire Extinguisher?

You’ve seen fire extinguishers in commercial environments, such as schools, stores and workplaces. Does it make sense to have one in your home?
According to the experts, yes. In fact, a fire extinguisher can quickly put out a blaze that would otherwise quickly grow out of control. There are several types of fire extinguishers that are made especially for residential use. That means they put out the most common fires that occur in the home (Class A, B & K fires), and they are easy to handle and use. Since most residential fires happen in the kitchen, that’s the best place to keep your extinguisher. Make sure everyone in your household knows where it is and how to use it.
Keep in mind that a home fire extinguisher is meant for small fires that are easy to put out, such as a pan of vegetable oil igniting on the stove. If you find you can’t control the blaze within a few seconds with the extinguisher, get everyone out of the home and call the fire department.
Also, never attempt to fight a major fire yourself. Leave that to the

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Finding the List Price “Tipping Points”

Setting the right list price for a home is a mystery for many sellers. How do you begin to determine what buyers are likely to pay for your property? After all, no two homes are exactly alike.
Yet, setting the right price is crucial. You need to avoid the two price “tipping points” that, if crossed, can cause you a lot of problems.
The first tipping point is a price that’s low enough for buyers to begin thinking something is wrong. They wonder, “Why is your price so low? What are you not telling us about your property?”
But that’s not even the worst problem with this tipping point. If you do get offers at that low price, you’ll have a bigger issue – leaving thousands of dollars on the table.
The other tipping point is setting your price so high it discourages buyers from giving your listing a second look. When your price is that high, you’ll get few enquiries and even fewer people coming to see your property.
Of course, you can lower your price later, if necessary. But experience shows that reduced prices make potential buyers skeptical. Most sellers who price high in the hopes of getting a windfall actually end up selling for much less than they would have if they had priced their properties correctly in the first place.
So what’s the right price to list your property? The answer is somewhere inbetween those two tipping points.

Call today for help determining the right price for your property.

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Spring Market Capped Off with Strong June

TORONTO, ONTARIO, July 6, 2016 – Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 12,794 residential transactions through TREB’s MLS® System in June 2016. This result was 7.5 per cent higher than the 11,905 sales reported in June 2015. In line with the prevailing trend so far this year, the number of new listings was down by 3.8 per cent.

“As I start my term as TREB President, we are certainly in an interesting environment for ownership housing. There is no doubt that demand is at a record level, but would-be home buyers continue to face an uphill battle against a constrained supply of listings, which has perpetuated strong price growth. Buyers and sellers alike continue to benefit from the value a REALTOR® brings to a transaction,”

said Mr. Cerqua.
“As the federal, provincial and local levels of government discuss housing policy in the coming months, issues affecting the lack of supply in the GTA should be of paramount importance. TREB will be undertaking, and making public, results of additional research in the second half of 2016, with the goal of proactively adding to the housing policy discussion,”

added Mr.Cerqua.
The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 16 per cent on a year- overyear basis. The average selling price for all home types combined was up by a slightly higher annual rate of 16.8 per cent to $746,546. The single-detached, semi- detached and townhouse market segments led the way in terms of price growth.

“When TREB surveyed consumer intentions for 2016, we found that the majority of GTA households who were likely to purchase a home continued to be pointed towards some form of ground oriented housing. This is why we continue to see strong competition between buyers in many neighbourhoods where supply remains constrained,”

said Jason Mercer, TREB’s
Director of Market Analysis.

<Click here to view complete report>

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Strong Sales Growth Continues in May

TORONTO, June 3, 2016 – Toronto Real Estate Board President Mark McLean announced that there were 12,870 home sales reported through TREB’s MLS® System in May 2016. This result represented a new record for the month of May and a 10.6 per cent increase over the same period last year. In contrast, the number of new listings was down over the same time frame by 6.4 per cent. The decline in listings was experienced in both the low-rise and condominium apartment market segments.


“Whether we’re talking about existing homeowners or people looking to purchase for the first time, there is no shortage of buyers in the marketplace today. So, while the record number of home sales through the first five months of 2016 is not necessarily surprising, it does sometimes mask the larger story in the GTA: the shortage of listings, which has resulted in strong upward pressure on home prices,” said Mr. McLean.


The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 15 per cent year-overyear in May 2016. Similarly, the average selling price for all home types combined was up by 15.7 per cent over the same period. Low-rise home types, which remained in short supply in many GTA neighbourhoods, experienced the strongest price growth.


“Widespread competition between buyers of singles, semis and townhouses across the GTA has underpinned the robust annual rates of price growth experienced so far this year. With this said, however, it is also important to understand that tighter market conditions for condominium apartments have resulted in price growth well above the rate of inflation in this market segment as well,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

<<To read more click here>>

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Home Landscaping Design Advice

Landscape Design: It’s All About Choices

Congratulations! By choosing to read this article you have taken the first steps in thinking about how to enhance your outdoor living space.  2016 brings you more choices than ever to beautify your landscape. I have worked in the world of horticulture both in the U.K. and Canada for over 30 years, and I am really excited and inspired by the modern design ideas, quality of workmanship and incredible selection of materials and plants that are available this Spring — yes I said Spring! It’s just around the corner, so now’s the time to do your homework on choosing the right design for your garden.


When you first look at a landscape, what elements do you immediately like? Formal straight lines, flowing beds of colour, a natural feel, a place to relax, or perhaps  a place to play;  gardens are often a reflection of our personality.


A landscape can be comprised of many elements. You should start by noting the types of surfaces you favour, such as natural stone, pavers, wood, gravel or grass, followed by how you feel about vertical features such as fences, hedges, sculptures, and waterfalls. To complete the picture jot down your likes and dislikes regarding plants, colours, fragrances, shade and edibles. Sometimes the task can be overwhelming, in which case it’s often advisable to seek some advice from the professionals. Just as it’s important to match the style of your landscape with the style of your home, it’s equally important to select a Landscape Designer and contractor that are in sync with you.


Your entire landscaping project should be a positive experience from start to finish. researching ideas and talking with experts should be enlightening, fun and rewarding. Yes, it can take some work on your part, and an enormous amount of work by the designers, consultants and contractors, but at the end of the day, if you’re sipping a cool drink in the midst of your own oasis this summer, it will all be worth it.


And speaking of “worth it,” the subject of budget will often come up in conversation, and that’s just a reality. Like any home improvement project, some research to get a feel of what projects cost is a good idea. Try visiting and click on Awards of Excellence to view hundreds of projects in various budget categories. Whatever your investment, you always want to be assured that the work is going to be of high quality and comes with a guarantee. Therefore, it’s important to check some details before hiring a designer or contractor.

In addition to your own list of questions, be sure to check the following:

  • Ask for their profile and work history
  • Ask for references, and check them
  • Ask for proof of liability insurance and safety certificates

The site mentioned earlier,, is a homeowner’s top resource for inspiration, and connecting with companies. The members of Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association, representing the province’s green industry professionals, created the site to help you enhance your property, and optimize outdoor living space for your family. You will find a wealth of plant information, design tips, the huge photo library mentioned earlier and the Find-a-member database to search for an expert in your area.

Choices, after all, are a good thing. Choose to beautify your landscape this 2016 season!

Blog post written by

Denis Flanagan

Director of Public Relations

Landscape Ontario

To find out more about Landscape Ontario visit their website

About Denis Flanagan

After graduating from Horticulture in Surrey, England Denis was involved in many projects including work for the Royal Family and achieved a Gold Medal at The Chelsea Flower Show.

Following a successful transplant to Canada, Denis continued designing award winning gardens including many for Canada Blooms, he has taught at several community colleges including Humber and Seneca.

Denis is well known for his Gardening shows on HGTV and continues to promote the joys and benefits of horticulture through the ‘Green for Life “program at

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Front Entrance First Impressions

Show your front door some love!

When you’re selling your home, first impressions are key.Research suggests it takes only seconds to decide if we like a house, and at least five of them are spent by buyers waiting at the front door for it to be opened.

Aside from your lawn and general curb appeal, people look at the front door before they look at any other aspect of the property. It reflects what you think about the house, and could actually help sell your home.

You may spend several hours making your home perfect on the inside, but an unattractive door could ruin all your efforts. It is often overlooked but its appearance is crucial. Its colour, texture, maintenance and style will all have an
impact on the buyer’s impressions. If it’s scratched at the base and the colour has chipped, buyers will see it.

So what can you do? If a new door isn’t in your budget, a little love can go a long way. Give it a fresh coat of paint, and choose your colours wisely. While you may like dark pink, chances are most of your buyers won’t. Choose a colour that says welcome, come in… Popular colours include dark blue and black, and glass panels are also a winner.

Consider replacing a plain door knob with something more attractive. Try to ensure the door – whether new or not – is in keeping with the style of the house too. If it stands out too much, it may make the rest of the house look out of place.

Place a few well maintained plant pots on the porch step, and ensure that any surrounding windows and ledges are cleaned and tidy.



A few hours on a weekend spent overhauling your front door, can work wonders for your sale. In doing so, you are creating a portal to the house that people can see themselves using as the door to their home.

If your home is not selling and you’re unsure whether your front door is currently working for your home, Contact Design to Go and we’ll take a look!

Blog post written by Design To Go



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RE/MAX 2016 Housing Market Outlook Report

National Market

In 2015, high demand and low supply continued to characterize Vancouver and Toronto’s Housing Markets, and the limited inventory of single-family homes pushed prices higher. The Greater Vancouver Area saw a 17 percent increase in the average residential sale price and the Greater Toronto Area followed closely behind with a ten percent increase. These markets are both expected to continue to see price appreciation, and regions outside of Canada’s highest-priced cities reported a spill over effect from the price increases.

GTA Market

High demand and low inventory for single-family homes continued to be the dominant theme in Toronto’s housing market in the first quarter of the year. As city planning shifts toward density and away from urban sprawl, the supply of ground-oriented homes is increasingly limited. Current owners are reluctant to sell as they are hesitant to become buyers themselves in a competitive market, and with rising home values, many are holding on for further price appreciation.

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Market Watch April 2016

Dear Friends,

The Toronto real market continued its torrid pace with the sale of 12,085 homes in April, the best April in the 100 plus year history of the Board, and up 7.4% over April 2015.

While the average price in all of the Toronto Real Estate Board marketing areas for all types of residences now stands at $697,679, the price breakdown for local areas is as follows:

City of Toronto       $718,682 (Detached Homes only in April $1,257,958)

York Region           $896,476

Durham Region      $494,643

Peel Region            $582,496

Is there a real estate bubble? Will prices adjust? Is it too late to buy?

These are questions I am continually asked, and while everyone has an opinion, no one, truly knows. Economic forecasts and weather forecasts are similar. The systems are just too complicated and the experts are best guessing with the information at hand, and that changes minute by minute.

Here is what I say to my clients.

People need to live somewhere. Our vacancy rate is near 0%. In other words very low. Basement apartments in Newmarket are renting for $1,200 per month. Downtown condos are renting for $1,800 -$2,200+ monthly! If you buy a property to rent and hold, prices may adjust, but will always recover as the population continues to grow. As long as you have a good tenant the price fluctuations will not affect you.

If you are buying a property to live in, it’s your home, and prices may fluctuate but as long as you live there, price is irrelevant, and will always recover.

In 1975 the average price was $57,581

In 1995 the average price was $203,028

In 2015 the average price was $ 622,217

Who knows what the next 20 years will bring, but I do know Toronto will continue to grow and people have to live somewhere!

Click here for the complete report

Have a great May and don’t forget, I am never too busy for your referrals!


Gemma & Gary Barclay

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