Tips To Get Your Yard Ready For Spring

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Spring cleanup doesn’t have to be a chore — becoming familiar with just a few easy tasks can help make that enviable lawn seem effortless.

“Even just keeping on top of a few regular jobs is enough to make a difference,” explains John Ladds, operations manager at Weed Man Canada. Ladds recommends incorporating the following tasks into your home’s spring check-up:

1. Tools and equipment review. Before beginning anything, give all your equipment a once-over. Taking a few minutes at the start of the season to check hoses for leaks and mower blades for sharpness ensures that the rest of the year runs smoothly.

2. Cleaning and raking. Once all the winter wetness has finally dried, that first initial clean up and deep raking helps to open up airways and establish a healthier root system.

3. Professional fertilization. Scheduling a good slow-release fertilizer to be applied soon after grass has started growing for the season is strongly recommended.

4. Aeration. Professional mechanical core aeration works wonders to increase accessibility to nutrients, water, sunlight and oxygen and provides a noticeable difference when it comes to your lawn’s growth.

5. Try something new. A novel project around the house can invigorate not only your yard, but also your spirits. Whether it’s setting up a rain barrel or beginning a yard waste compost system, these kinds of DIY projects are sure to improve efficiency.

Find more information online at weedmancanada.com.

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Top 5 Pitfalls Of Kitchen Renovations

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A gorgeous kitchen can definitely make your life better, but before you start your reno, find out more about five common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

1. Kitchens are expensive. It’s easy to spend $25,000 to $50,000 on a mid-range kitchen makeover. Even budget remodels of a small kitchen can run up to $15,000. Expert do-it-yourselfers can cut these costs in half, but most of us don’t have the required skills and will likely need a professional contractor to deliver the best results. Given the cost and lifestyle impact a kitchen reno has, avoid dealing with contractors who promise a low price but want to be paid in cash with nothing written down.

2. Cabinet hardware varies a lot in quality. Before you sign any kitchen remodelling contract, make sure it specifies the type and brand of hinges, drawer slides, handles and accessories that’ll be used.

3. Fancy countertops can be troublesome. High-end stone and solid surface countertops deliver powerful bragging rights, but they’re not necessarily more durable than less expensive options like laminate or solid maple. Some elaborate materials require regular sealing, while others can be damaged by a hot pot. Research your options before deciding.

4. Ask for great materials. Even expensive kitchen cabinets are often made of the cheapest material possible, melamine-coated particleboard. Think of sawdust bonded with glue and a factory coating on top. Truly high-end cabinets are made with veneered cabinet-grade plywoods and solid hardwoods. These are stronger, lighter in weight and more durable.

5. New kitchens don’t always pay off at resale. According to an annual survey run by Remodeling Magazine since 2002, mid-range and high-end kitchen remodels deliver only 60 to 65 cents of increased resale value for every dollar spent. If you’re planning to move in the near future, make sure the investment makes financial sense.

Find more information on the Canadian Home Builder’s Association’s website, www.getitinwriting.ca.

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Simple Updates For A Chic And Cheerful Laundry Room

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Laundry rooms are often crammed, busy spaces. Many times they are — more practical than inspiring, but, that doesn’t have to be the case. Design expert Kimberley Seldon believes that surrounding yourself with beautiful colours, finishes, and a calming but practical lighting scheme is one way to make the chore of laundry a little more enjoyable.

Seldon partners with the Electrical Safety Authority to provide tips to create an attractive, functional laundry room.

Amp it up. Installing kitchen cabinetry is a great way to add storage for cleaning products and other essentials. When it comes to colour, washers and dryers are now available in a variety of hues, but keep in mind, you may need an electrical upgrade to accommodate new appliances. A washing machine needs to be on a 120-volt, 15 or 20-amp receptacle on its own circuit, with the outlet placed out of reach and directly behind the machine. Any outlets within a child’s reach need to be tamper-resistant.

Wash and go. Since a laundry sink is essential; try choosing an apron sink with sleek fixtures for added style. Any outlet located within 1.5 metres of any sink in the home must be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent shocks. Working with a Licensed Electrical Contractor will help ensure all your outlets meet the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.

Lighter lights, brighter whites. While bright lights might be needed to spot stains, consider creating some ambiance for when it’s time to fold your laundry. LED strip lighting can be added to open shelving. Don’t forget to include functional lighting for closets and storage areas. To prevent fire, pot lights need to be at least 15 centimetres from anything that could catch fire, while surface-mounted lights need to be 30 centimetres away.

Find more tips online at poweryourreno.ca

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MORTGAGE INSURANCE vs TERM INSURANCE Making the Right Choice

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Mortgage Insurance Basics

The individual buys a house and takes out a big loan to pay for it. Now, the bank is asking whether they want life insurance.  Reluctant to leave an unpaid debt when they die, they say yes.  Within minutes, their application is approved and the cost is added to their mortgage payments.

For lenders, life insurance is an easy sell.  They suggest it at a time when the customer is most vulnerable and have yet to do any comparison shopping.  The customer also sign a waiver form if they decline the insurance, agreeing not to hold the lender responsible if something  happens to them.

Most people don’t realize that the life insurance sold by mortgage lenders is different from the policies sold by life insurance agents and brokers.  While it sounds like a great deal at the time, this type of mortgage life insurance is great for the bank, as they are fully protected, but is it great for you?  Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks with bank group mortgage life insurance.

 Introduction to the concept

  • A mortgage is the single largest debt most Canadians will ever assume. Most consumers will take the time to shop around for good interest rates and terms that suit their needs, but not everyone bothers to do the same for the accompanying life insurance.
  • Many simply accept the coverage that’s offered by their lender without investigating other options. That’s a pity, because in many cases you can obtain better coverage for a lower price from an independent financial advisor.

What is mortgage insurance for?

 

  • Mortgage insurance is about protecting your loved ones. If something should happen to you (or your partner), mortgage insurance will pay off your debt. It’s a simple concept, but the details in each contract can vary significantly.

What kind of coverage does the bank offer?

  • If you purchase mortgage insurance from your bank or credit union, you are purchasing creditor’s group insurance.
  • You are a certificate holder. You do not own the policy. The bank may make changes to the coverage without your consent, and coverage will terminate as soon as the mortgage is paid off.
  • The premium you pay remains the same, but the coverage decreases along with the balance of your mortgage. You are paying a level amount for decreasing coverage.
  • You are not able to name your own beneficiary. If something should happen to you, the bank receives the insurance proceeds directly.
  • If you decide to change banks at a later date, you will have to reapply for insurance coverage – you will pay rates based on your age at that time, and if your health has changed, you may be declined.
  • In most cases, creditors group is based on “blended rates,” meaning that smokers and non-smokers pay the same amount for the same coverage. If you live a healthy lifestyle, you will pay the same amount as someone who is overweight and smokes a pack a day.
  • Bank mortgage insurance only covers the first to die, but charges you for two people insured. That means, if you and your spouse are both killed in the same car accident, the bank mortgage policy only pays for one life.

What are the advantages of owning my term insurance policy through an      insurance company?

  • An individual term insurance policy, obtained directly from an insurer, puts you in control of your own coverage.
  • You own the policy. If you decide you want to keep some or all of the insurance after the mortgage is paid off, you may do so.
  • Your insurance is for a fixed amount, based on the original amount of your mortgage. If you purchase a policy for $200,000 and you die when your mortgage is only $100,000, your heirs will still receive the full $200,000.
  • You may name whomever you please as beneficiary – spouse, child, grandchild or friend. They receive the funds directly from the insurance company, meaning they are free to decide whether they want to pay off the mortgage, or invest the funds and use the interest to make the monthly payments.
  • An individually-owned policy is fully portable. When your mortgage renews, you are free to shop around for the best rate. If you decide to change lenders, your individual policy will come with you – completely unchanged from when you first obtained it. You will not have to reapply for coverage, and your premiums will remain unchanged.
  • Ask your banker about “Waiver of Premium for Disability”, rights of “Convertibility”, “Guaranteed Insurability Rider” if you move to a new home or change banks. You’ll probably get a look of confusion. Solution: An Insurance Agent has many valuable options that can be included in a policy that you own and control.
  • An individual policy is fully underwritten based on your individual circumstances. Someone who leads a healthy lifestyle could end up paying a much lower rate for better coverage. The banks have post-claim underwriting, where the underwriting is completed after a claim is submitted. A customer could be declared uninsurable after they have submitted a claim resulting in years of paid premium, their claim being denied and leaving the mortgage unpaid.

4 Simple Home Improvements To Consider Pre-Sale

7.The Canadian Real Estate Association reports that the national average price for homes sold in November 2016 rose 7.3 per cent year-over-year, making it a desirable time for homeowners to consider selling. If you’re thinking of getting on the bandwagon, consider these smart pre-sale renovation tips to boost your home’s value and attract the right potential buyers.

1. Change up the paint colours. One of the quickest and easiest ways to spruce up a room is to paint the walls. Avoid bright colours and stick to a neutral palette, which is less distracting to potential buyers. Whites, off-whites, greys and beiges are best and work with almost any furniture and décor.

2. Clear out clutter. A messy home is a deterrent. Consider renting a storage unit, donating what you no longer need, or selling the items online. Remove personal touches like photos and portraits and décor that may not be appealing to everyone. A neutral style lets buyers envision making the space their own.

3. Upgrade the kitchen. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so it’s important that it’s both functional and beautiful. Upgrading your kitchen ( including replacing leaky faucets, outdated cabinet hardware and old light fixtures ( with more modern styles will help increase your home’s worth. If you have the means, consider replacing appliances with energy-efficient models.

4. Add a bathroom. According to Renova, a web-based tool that helps homeowners calculate the potential rate of return on the top 25 most common renovation projects, bathroom renos boast an expected ROI of 75 to 100 per cent. The product range of above-the-floor toilets from Saniflo are cost-effective, energy-efficient solutions for installing a full bath, half-bath or powder room quickly. For a small space, consider the Sanicompact, an all-in-one toilet and pump unit that can be easily installed in one day.

Find more information online at saniflo.ca.

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Find Out What The Most Common Question Real Estate Agents Are Faced With ?!

The most common question Real Estate Agents are faced with on almost a daily basis; Is There Really a "Good Time" To Buy or Sell? 

When The Rainmaker Team discusses this question with our clients we look at it from a variety of different perspectives. 

First we consider what YOU mean by “good time”? Is it the right time in your life; is it the right time of year, week or month; or is it based on the market? These are all topics we can discuss when deciding if it’s the “right time” to list your home. In our experience, once the decision is made to list your home for sale, all the other “timing” questions simply fall into place. 

The decision to move is often made with careful consideration and is usually the result of life changing circumstances such as a marriage, the birth of a child or the need to downsize. People take into consideration mortgage rates and home prices and gradually the decision is made that it may be the “right time” to move.

Typically it has been said the Spring is the best time of the year to sell because people put their homes on the market after being cooped up all winter and are anxious to make a move. 

Alternatively, some people may also want to get settled before their kids are out of school, or before heading off for summer vacation. However, these “rules” are quickly changing. In today’s market we at the Rainmaker Team have seen homes sell just as quickly and for excellent prices during the “off” months as well. A serious buyer is looking to purchase at any time of year! 

Homes are typically listed towards the end of the work week, with showings and open houses in full swing on Saturday and Sunday. We often tell our clients that properties can also be listed at the beginning of the week with terrific results. A Rainmaker Team member will help you decide on the “right” time of week to list your property so that you can obtain the best results! 

So what does this all mean to you? In reality, there is no cut and dry answer to this age old question! When you think you might be ready to buy or sell, contact a knowledgeable and conscientious real estate advisor at the Rainmaker Team. We are prepared to answer all of your questions and can help you decide when the “time is right” for you to enter the real estate market!

By Christine Field, Sales Representative at TheRainMakerTeam

 


How to keep your kitchen reno headache-free

The thought of a kitchen renovation may cause your eye to twitch and your sweat to trickle. You've heard the horror stories — work costing more than expected, lasting too long, or not ending up the way you expected. While you can't predict everything, there are ways to keep the road to a shiny new kitchen relatively stress-free.

Robin Saxberg, principal designer at Hamilton, Ontario's DESZA Design, advises that leaving the project to a professional may save you headaches in the long-run. “Occasionally, the client will want to do the demolition themselves either for cost-savings or for fun, which it is. However, there may be a risk of accidently damaging something important,” she reveals. “Most demos require the rental or purchase of tools, safety equipment and waste bin rental which could eliminate much of the potential savings.”

If you're thinking of taking on the demolition yourself in hopes of saving a few bucks, look at other options. Contact your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore to see if they are able to remove your old kitchen for you. Also keep in mind that the contractor you hire usually includes this in their quote.

If you feel like you're drowning in sawdust, Saxberg says to keep in mind that your kitchen won't always be gutted. “Though your renovation may seem overwhelming at times, it is temporary. Any stress and chaos will pass and when the dust settles, you'll have a beautiful, perfectly unique space that functions the way you need it to.”

In the meantime, follow her five tips for a smooth and successful kitchen reno.

1. Get everything in writing: Read and understand all contracts with designers, contractors and anyone else you hire.

2. Keep an emergency fund: Set aside around 10 per cent of your renovation budget as a contingency fund. If a pipe bursts or the electrical needs to be rewired, you won't panic knowing you have enough to cover it.

3. Plan as much as possible: Lay out your renovation roadmap before the project begins, and don't be afraid to ask your contractor or designer lots of questions. Placing orders before work starts will also cut down on wait time for deliveries.

4. Invest in key pieces: Putting money into a quality stone surface countertop and Canadian-made solid wood flooring will ensure your kitchen will stand the test of time.

5. Reduce, reuse, recycle: Do some good by donating your old kitchen items to a local charitable organization, like Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Many contractors also work with them. This will keep your old kitchen out of the landfill and help others in the process.

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Make the most out of downsizing

Downsizing your home is a hard decision. Once you've made the choice to move, you have another set of choices to make that may be even more difficult.

Because often the homes we move to have less space, you wont have enough room for all the possessions you've accumulated over the years, so how do you know what will you take with you? 

They say, in most homes, you can get rid of 30 per cent of its contents and never miss it, so how much are you willing to part with?

Discarding, selling or giving your possessions away can be a gruelling experience because, for most of us, the things we own have sentimental value. 

When you know you’re going to move, here are a few things that you can do to make decluttering and downsizing less painful:

Make the most of downsizing by getting rid of clutter


June 2016 Real Estate Market In Review

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.