Sunday, 25 October 2015

Kitchen Renovations: What your budget should look like

Kitchen Renovations: What your budget should look like

Published Jessica Vitullo - October 21, 2015

Renovating your kitchen? We bet you’re excited for new kitchen cabinets, countertops, backsplash and more. But did you consider everything that goes into a kitchen renovation, like plumbing and electrical? These aspects of kitchen renovations often get overlooked. Here’s a detailed guide of what your kitchen renovation budget should include. Speak to a contractor to be sure.

What your budget should include

It’s easy to get caught up in the kitchen renovations process: you’re focused on countertop materials, cabinetry colours, picking out matching hardware. It’s an exciting process, one that needs a lot of your attention. However, this is the time when your excitement might forget about all the components that make up the renovation in the first place. If you’re undergoing a major renovation, don’t forget about these:
  • Flooring;
  • Appliances;
  • Lighting;
  • Decor;
  • Storage;
  • Dining table and chairs;
  • Painting.
Proper planning can lead to a completely transformed kitchen.
Proper financial planning can lead to a completely transformed kitchen.
Let’s not forget about that plumbing and electrical work that needs to get done to make your space functional. Plan this into your budget before you begin your renovation. This way, you don’t encounter any unforeseen costs during the process.
Use the directory to find the home service professionals you need to transform your kitchen.

Planning your budget

Everyone has a budget. Even Donald Trump has a budget when he’s building a condo. Before you begin looking on the website for kitchen design inspiration, establish your budget. Since there are so many things to consider (as we listed above), it makes sense to start here.
The answers to these factors will help you along:
  • Establish your home’s value;
  • Divvy up your budget to each kitchen renovation component;
  • Finalize a breakdown (this is a good time to bring in a kitchen contractor to help you out).

Establish your home’s value

A rule of thumb to follow is spending anywhere from 5 to 15 per cent of your home’s value on a remodeling project. According, spending less than 5 per cent is too little and could actually devalue your home. In reality, a kitchen renovation is almost always going to increase your home’s value. It’s a wise investment, one that needs careful consideration when establishing your budget.
Another factor to consider in terms of how much of a percentage you want to spend is how you’ll be using your kitchen. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen and it’s a big space, one that commands a lot of attention in terms of size and location, then a remodel will have a big value impact on your home’s value once it’s complete.
Remember, the bigger your home and higher quality your home, the more you should be spending to improve it. That’s the expectation people will have when walking into your newly renovated space should you choose to sell one day.

Divide your budget among every component

Once you’ve developed a budget you’re comfortable with and have secured the necessary funding to build your dream kitchen, it’s time to decide how your money will be spent. According to a survey conducted by the National Kitchen Bath Association, their findings suggest this is how homeowners will allocate a renovation budget. Keep in mind – this budget is not related to a DIY kitchen, but a professional kitchen built by a kitchen renovations expert!
But maybe you want to invest in better cabinetry and spend less of your budget on fixtures. Maybe you’re interested in state of the art appliances.
Stick to your budget, but adjust the values based on what you want to spend your money on. Here are sample budgets based on three different home values:

Finalize a breakdown

Unforeseen circumstances are bound to happen in a home renovation. No matter how closely you work with your kitchen renovator, you may find the product you want is no longer available, or you’re capable and willing to go over your budget to get something you want. We advise you stick to your budget as closely as possible, but make room for these circumstances. Do the best you can to at least finalize the budget to a certain extent. Having a clear number in mind and a plan of how much you’ll spend on what will help you keep track of expenditures along the way.
A new kitchen in your home should be an exciting prospect! With the right attitude and planning, the renovation itself will be a breeze and you can enjoy the process of choosing new fixtures, appliances and more!
Don’t forget to use our directory to hire a kitchen contractor to conduct your next renovation! They can help you establish a budget, one that works for you and satisfies your lifestyle/needs associated with the kitchen renovation. Above all, they can provide inspiration and options that suit your tastes!

A to Z hacks for every homeowner

(NC) Everyday items found around the home can yield some surprising uses. “We often see innovative ideas within the homes we show and sell that take otherwise mundane household items to new levels,” says Lincoln Thompson, a broker-owner with Royal LePage Gardiner Realty in Fredericton, New Brunswick. “Many of these ideas can come in handy for sprucing up the home at selling time too.” Thompson curates an A to Z of helpful home hacks:
A. Ammonia: Spray on garbage cans to repel raccoons and other varmints.
B. Baby oil: Use to remove fingerprints and surface stains from stainless steel appliances.
C. Candle: Rub on a sticky sliding door or window.
D. Dishwashing detergent: Mix with baking soda and vinegar to remove pet stains.
E. Electric beater: Attach to a variable speed drill to quickly mix paint.
F. Fruit scraps, citrus: Keep cats from digging up plants.
G. Garlic: Place in plant soil to repel insects indoors.
H. Hair conditioner: Can be used to often paint brushes.
I. Insulation, foam: Fill gaps around an outdoor faucet or gaps in siding.
J. Jars, glass: Store nails, screws and assorted hardware neatly.
K. Knife holder, magnetic: Use to organize tools in a workshop.
L. Lip balm: Can replace masking tape when painting windows.
M. Mirror, tile: Mount on a closet ceiling to see what's on the top shelf.
N. Nail polish, clear: Can repair small holes or tears in screens.
O. Onion: Put chopped onion in a container of water to reduce the odour of new paint.
P. Pennies: Attach to the blades of a ceiling fan to rebalance
Q. Quart, distilled water: Add to your humidifier daily during the winter months. Empty, clean and refill each day to avoid bacteria buildup.
R. Rubber boots: Use on a ladder for skid-free traction.
S. Scouring powder: Improves the holding power of a screwdriver.
T. Toothpaste: Remove crayon marks on a wall before painting.
U. Umbrella: Catch drips when cleaning a crystal chandelier.
V. Vinegar, white: Freshen a foul-smelling dishwasher.
W. Wire hanger: Use to dislodge a blockage in a sink pipe.
X. X-acto knife: Remove old silicone caulking from bathtubs and sinks.
Y. Yoga mat: Cut a piece to place under your knee while gardening or doing chores.
Z. Zest, lemon: To deter ants from crossing thresholds and windowsills.
More information on maintaining your home or preparing it for sale is available at

Making your move as stress free as possible

Making your move as stress free as possible

By  | Aug-17-2015 | BlogFamily MattersLifestyle,Rental PropertiesUncategorized


There are many reasons why you may be making a move. From moving to your first home, moving to a larger home or downsizing. Every move, regardless of the motivation, comes with its own set of pressures and challenges that can cause stress. Whether you’re hiring a mover or doing it with some friends and pizza ensuring that you are organized can make it much easier. Here are some tips we have found helpful in the past.
This is a situation where you can never have too many lists. Create to do lists and be sure to number all of your boxes and create an inventory list of all of them.
to do list blog

Pack an overnight bag with all your essentials
This way when you get to your new place you have everything you need without having to start unpacking
suitcase blog

Dressers are boxes
Don’t spend unnecessary time packing up your dresser drawers. Buy a roll of commercial cling wrap (available at most moving supply stores) and wrap the contents of the drawer.
clothes drawer blog

Ask for help
Know peoples strengths. Some friends can help you the most with organizing and packing, some could help babysit kids or pets and others could bring the food.
help blog

Label Everything
Boxes with the content and the room they belong in. If you remove hardware from any furniture place in in baggies with the items they belong to listed on them.
moving box blog
Start preparing two weeks before
Make sure you change your address, start eating through your food supply and line up all your cable and utility changes.
fridge blog

Take advantage of clear containers
For items that you will need soon (such as bedding and tools) pack them in clear storage bins. This will help you find them easily when you are in the new place.
plastic bin blog

Hiring movers
If you’re hiring movers make sure you research them carefully and read the fine print.

moving man blog
Take the time to purge!
While you’re packing up all your belongings carefully consider anything you will no longer need. Arrange to have a charity pick up unwanted items or have a garage sale.

messy closet blog
Moving Expenses
If you are moving for work or school you may qualify for additional deductions. Make sure you keep track of all of your expenses. 

6 ways to save energy by saving water

6 ways to save energy by saving water

(NC) Did you know the average family uses 360 litres of water a day? And of that, 220 litres are hot water. If the hot water in your home is heated by electricity, here are some easy ways to save that are free or low-cost:
Fix leaky taps
That leaky tap, the one that you can hear while trying to get to sleep at night, is wasting 800 litres of water per month at one drop per second. Fixing the tap is as easy as replacing a rubber washer that costs less than a coffee. This doesn't require fancy tools –a simple wrench and screw driver will have this task done quickly.
Use faucet aerators
With a twist of your wrist you can reduce water consumption by 25 to 50 per cent per tap by installing a faucet aerator. Your local retailer has a selection of models including ones with washers that don't need to be replaced.
Go low-flow
Taking a relaxing hot bath uses about 75 litres of hot water. A 5-minute shower with a low-flow shower head uses less than half of that and can save over 28,000 litres of water a year. They are easy to install and available in many models – including ones that can replicate your favourite spa shower.
Protect your clothes and save energy
Did you know that about 25 per cent of hot water is used for clothes washing? Try using cold water to wash and rinse your laundry. Not only will this save enough energy for 220 showers a year but it also protects your clothes from fading and shrinking. Another easy way to save while doing laundry is to set the water level to match the size of your load.
Crystal clear savings from your dishwasher
Start by always running a full load. Use the light or short cycle for easy-to-clean loads and the energy-saving drying cycle for additional efficiency. If you don't have that feature, open the dishwasher when the wash cycle is complete and let the dishes air dry – this can reduce your energy use by 10 per cent.
Remember Time-of-Use
By using your dishwasher and washing machine after 7 p.m. during weekdays or any time during the weekend you take advantage of off-peak energy prices.
More ways to save energy are available at

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


16 October 2015


As the hot summer months start to fade into a pleasant memory and the clean crisp air provides that yearly reminder that the deep freeze will soon be upon us; it’s once again time to prepare our homes for winter.
Fall Checklist

The following FALL HOME CHECKLIST can serve as a reminder of some of the more critical things that need to be taken care of.
1. Windows and Doors: Take a walk around your home and take a close look at all the doors and windows. Look for damaged caulking, gaps between cases and frames and missing weather stripping. Also take note of any peeling paint and consider repairing before winter weather impacts the integrity the components beneath.
2. Roof & Shingles: It’s always a good idea to have a professional climb a ladder and closely inspect the shingles and the overall seal. This is especially important after serve weather that may have removed shingles. The freeze and thaw of fall will wreak havoc on your roof so make sure it is in prime condition.
3. Gutters: Fall is synonymous with falling leaves and leaves can clog your gutters which frequently result in overflow of water. Many a home has suffered extensive damage when this occurs. Put on some water proof gloves, climb a ladder and make sure the gutters are clean and dry.
4. Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Use the changing of the season as a reminder to check your batteries and to test your devices to ensure they are all in good working order.
5. Thermostat: To conserve energy through the winter months consider using this time to install a programmable thermostat. Turning the heat down automatically every night can have a huge positive impact on the size of your heating bill.
6. Your Lawn: To keep your lawn healthy; don’t let it suffocate under a thick layer of leaves.  Be sure to either move the lawn to mulch the leaves or to rake the lawns up. If left on the ground for prolonged period of time you could result in dead spots in the spring.
7. Lawnmower: Once you have moved for the final time of the year; empty the lawnmower of any left-over gas, cover it up or store in a safe drive area until needed again in the spring.
When buying or selling a home with a HomeLife Sales Representative ask about the HomeLife Home Warranty TM Program. Expensive Home Systems or appliance repairs can be a major concern to buyers. The HomeLife Home Warranty TM Program provides peace of mind during the home buying and selling process. The HomeLife Home Warranty TM Program protects you from the high cost of repairs due to unexpected breakdowns of covered home systems and appliances arising from normal wear and tear. 

Friday, 16 October 2015

How to create instant curb appeal this fall

(NC) We all know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, however when it comes to real estate, first impressions go a long way.
“Home buyers tend to use the exterior of a home and its yard as a gauge on what the inside looks like,” says Patricia Verge, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “Buyers will often do a 'drive-by' before deciding whether or not to request a showing. First impressions are critical to capture the attention of home buyers and send the message that the home has been well cared for, inside and out.”
To ensure your home stands out and gets noticed for the right reasons this fall, Verge recommends taking care of these simple steps before listing:
• Cut: Make sure trees and bushes are neatly trimmed.
• Clear: Remove leaves and sticks from gutters. Make sure the lawn is mowed, leaves are raked and weeds are removed.
• Clean: Wash windows, pressure-wash dirty siding and decks, and kill mould and mildew on the house, sidewalks, roof and driveway.
• Paint: If you can't afford to do the whole house, a fresh coat of paint will transform your front door and provide a more welcoming entrance.
• Primp: Add a boost of color to your garden with fall bloomers like mums and pansies.
• Upgrade: Change outdated locks and handles on your front door, replace rusty fixtures and add lighting to the front porch and yard.
“Preparing the exterior is one of the most important things sellers can do to ready a home for sale,” says Verge. “With a little creativity and care, you can rest assured that your home looks its best without breaking the bank.”
Talk to your Realtor about what potential buyers in your area are looking for.
More information is available at

Friday, 9 October 2015

Will Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Hurt My Credit?

Will Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Hurt My Credit?

Courtney Keating/iStock
Shopping for a home loan means getting your credit pulled. There’s no way around it.
Without taking a look at your credit report, most lenders won’t be able to complete your pre-qualification, much less pre-approve you to purchase a home.
Granting lenders permission to pull your scores—yes, they need your permission—constitutes what’s known as a “hard inquiry.” To be sure, a hard inquiry can ding your credit.
But if there is a hit, it’s typically just a handful of points. Hard inquiries on your credit can be a troublesome sign. But the major credit bureaus also see the value of comparison shopping—and that’s why they cut home buyers some slack.
Let’s take a closer look at how shopping around for a mortgage will affect your credit and the smartest ways to limit the impact.

Hard vs. soft inquiries

Your credit report isn’t just a measure of your financial health. It’s also a powerful identity verification tool, which is in part why employers and insurance providers might also want a peek.
For consumers, that means the reason behind the inquiry plays a role. There are always exceptions, but the big difference between hard and soft inquiries generally lies in their potential to result in new debt obligations.
Hard inquiries can include:
  • Mortgage applications
  • Auto financing
  • Credit cards
  • Retail credit accounts

Soft inquiries can include:

Other types of inquiries toe the line between the two. To be safe, you should ask about what type of credit inquiry will be made if you’re thinking about:
  • Signing a mobile phone contract
  • Setting up cable, Internet, or utility service
  • Opening a bank account
  • Increasing an existing line of credit

Creditors want to look at your hard inquiries, and for good reason: Every new debt takes a bite out of your monthly budget. If it looks like you’re making sudden, desperate attempts to borrow money, this can raise a red flag for creditors who may be worried about your ability to repay the credit they extend to you.
But don’t panic: Seeking loan pre-approval from multiple mortgage lenders isn’t going to kill your scores.

How mortgage pre-approval & hard inquiries work

Normally, a hard inquiry is a hard inquiry. Where things can change is if you’re rate shopping among multiple mortgage lenders.
First, it’s important to understand that pre-approval isn’t a binding step. You can work toward a pre-approval letter from as many lenders as you like.
Second, the credit bureaus have come to expect rate shopping. Rather than count every mortgage credit pull against you, most scoring formulas treat all of these hard inquiries within a certain time period as one, big credit pull.

The time frame varies depending on the scoring firm. For example, the newest FICO scoring models consider all inquiries within a 45-day window as a single hard credit pull. The older versions of the FICO scores work off a 14-day span, so ask the lender what scoring model it’ll be using.
That gives consumers a solid period of time to work toward pre-approval among multiple lenders. You’ll get a good look at their rates, terms, and estimated closing costs without worrying about your credit score taking a nosedive.
Also, FICO scores will ignore any hard mortgage inquiries in the 30 days preceding your scoring, so if you go to a second lender a week after getting pre-approved by the first, your hard inquiry from the first lender won’t be factored into your scores already.
Don’t let the fear of losing a couple of points from an inquiry keep you from starting the mortgage-shopping process. You can always have a chat with a mortgage lender about affordability and loan terms without having a hard inquiry, especially if you’ve checked your credit scores recently and know where you stand. Just keep in mind that different lenders use different credit scoring models to get you approved, so their estimates will be just that—estimates—until you ask for a hard inquiry to be done. The key to minimizing the impact of hard credit inquiries is to understand what they are and how they can affect you. Information is your best protection.
This article was written by and originally published on

Monday, 5 October 2015



TORONTO, October 5, 2015 -- Toronto Real Estate Board President Mark McLean announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported a record number of transactions for the month of September through TREB’s MLS® System.  There was a combined 8,200 home sales reported for September 2015.  This result was up 2.5 per cent compared to September 2014.
TREB MLS® sales through the first nine months of 2015 amounted to 80,331, which also represented a record result and a 9.5 per cent increase compared to the first three quarters of 2014.
“We are on track for record home sales reported through TREB’s MLS® System this year.  Barring a drastic shift in the economy over the next three months, total transactions reported by TREB Members in 2015 are expected to be at or near the 100,000 mark.  This is a testament to the importance that GTA households put on home ownership as a long-term investment,” said Mr. McLean.
The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark Price was up by 10.5 per cent year over year.  The average selling price for all home types combined was also up by 9.2 per cent annually to $627,395.  Growth in the MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark and the average price was driven by the low-rise market segments, including detached and semi-detached houses and townhouses.
“While September was the second straight month where annual growth in new listings outstripped annual growth sales, total active listings at the end of the month still remained below last year’s level.  This, coupled with the record pace of sales experienced so far this year, suggests that competition between buyers will remain strong as we move into the fourth quarter.  Expect strong rates of price growth to continue through the remainder of 2015 and into 2016,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Summary of TorontoMLS Sales and Average Price
September 1 - 30, 2015


Average Price
New Listings
Average Price
New Listings
City of Toronto ("416")
Rest of GTA ("905")

TorontoMLS Sales & Average Price  By Home Type
September 1 - 30, 2015

Average Price


Yr./Yr. % Change
Yr./Yr. % Change
Yr./Yr. % Change
Condo Apartment
Yr./Yr. % Change

Composite (All Types)
Single-Family Detached
Single-Family Attached
TREB Total
Halton Region
Peel Region
City of Toronto
York Region
Durham Region
South Simcoe County1
Source: Toronto Real Estate Board

1South Simcoe includes Adjala-Tosorontio, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Essa, Innisfil and New Tecumseth
 If you are looking for buying, selling or investing real estate in Greater Toronto area, look no further. Your search for real estate agent ends here.

Yes, even resale homes can come with a warranty

(NC) Are you looking to buy – or have you just bought – a resale house or condominium unit that is less than seven years old? If so, there...