Tag Archives: realtor

Hunting for a Home

February 25, 2013


Article courtesy of Genworth Canada.


Looking for a home can be an intimidating task filled with many questions. What home do I buy and where? Who do I go to for help? And how do I know if I am making a good purchase?

There’s no one “right way” to go about finding a home. But here are a few tips that may make the process a little easier and remove some of the anxiety associated with making what is, for most people, their largest single purchase in life.

The first thing to do is determine how much you can afford [the best way to do that is to contact your favourite mortgage broker!] and what type of home you want or need. This would include the size, number of bedrooms, location and special features such as a garage, fireplace, fence, dishwasher, hot tub etc.

You’ll also want to consider such things as proximity to schools, community centres and play and sports facilities, public transportation, hospitals, libraries and shopping areas and your workplace. These factors are important to you and your family.

Since your home is probably your single largest investment, you’ll want it to be as attractive as possible to purchasers when you’re ready to sell. So keep in mind the features you think will make it attractive to potential buyers in the years ahead.

Finding a REALTOR® to handle your purchase is important. Talk to a few realtors with different companies who know the area where you’re looking to buy. A real estate professional can show you homes in your price range in the areas you like that meet your particular needs and budget.

With so many homes to choose from, how do you know if what you’re going to buy is good value?

It’s very important to inspect the structure and grounds of the home you’re thinking of buying and look around the neighbourhood to be sure it’s an area where you want to live.

Get a copy of the land survey from the seller to check the boundaries of the property to make sure they are clear of encumbrances and walk around the property yourself to make sure there are no surprises.

You’ll also want to tour the neighbourhood and see the house at different times of the day or on weekends to check traffic patterns and noise levels that could affect your decision to buy.

When you find a home you like, inspect it yourself carefully for such things as structural defects, signs of water damage, lack of water pressure, faulty plumbing or inadequate wiring.

You may want to get an inspection done by a professional home inspector before you buy. A professional may uncover problems that you wouldn’t notice.

A good inspector will check the house from the basement to the roof, including the heating and cooling systems, plumbing, walls, ceilings, insulation, electrical wiring, foundation, ventilation, doors and windows, and septic and sewer systems.

An inspector will determine if any repairs are necessary. If possible, plan to go along with the inspector during his inspection. You could pick up some valuable information that will help you in the future with the maintenance of your house. Your real estate agency can likely refer an inspector if you don’t know of one yourself.

Some careful planning can help to ensure that you get a good-quality house that will meet the needs of you and your family in an area you like for a price you can afford without any nasty surprises after you take possession.


Tim is a mortgage agent in Barrie who specializes in helping first-time home buyers. He works with a variety of lenders and can help customize a mortgage with the best rates & options that fit the needs of each customer.

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5 Tips to Beautify Your Garden

March 30, 2012

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Due to some technical difficulties last week, this post never made it to its final stages. My apologies, and hopefully it was worth the wait!

We all know how important curb appeal is when selling a house. Sure, you can hire landscapers, or get your mom to come over! If you’re not a green thumb (probably because you never tried) like me, here are some great tips I got from our friends and neighbours at Bradford Greenhouses. Your garden doesn’t have to be complicated. Just enjoy it!

We have been incredibly lucky with record-breaking warm weather this month (except this past week…brrr). You may be getting the gardening bug, so keep reading to help you start your journey!

  1. Plant native plants. If you’re new at the gardening game, using plants that are native to our geographical area will help ensure a successful garden. Native plants are anything that you might find naturally, say if you went for a walk in the forest. Luckily, Bradford Greenhouses are local experts and they can guide you toward plants like honeysuckle which grows wonderfully here.
  2. Plant bulbs. Bulbs are very attractive to me…drop them in a hole in the ground, water, and wait. Not a lot of room for me to mess up! My favourite flowers are lilies, and they’re so easy to grow. Every bulb has different planting instructions, but maintenance is easy; keep the soil moist and add some fertilizer.
  3. Plant perennials. Some of us can never remember the difference between perennials and annuals. But the important thing to remember is that, because perennials come back year after year, the long-term maintenance is manageable. Plus they often bloom from April to October, so you get the biggest bang for your buck!
  4. Plan your design. It may seem unnecessary, however taking an hour or so to properly plan where everything will go will make all the difference in the world. The shape, the soil type, the sun or shade factor – these all play a part in the success of your garden. Plus, you want all the colours and plant height and size to make sense. And if you need help with this, the lovely people at Bradford Greenhouses can help you with a consultation.
  5. Maintain your lawn. With all this garden talk, you don’t want to ignore your grass. Especially if you’re considering selling your house (even next year!) this is an important factor to curb appeal. A potential buyer who sees a dead or weedy lawn will think a lot of work has to be done. Keep it watered and fertilized, and you will notice the difference.

Following these tips is a great way to start your Spring garden. Keep in mind our local weather and various soil types, and when you visit your local garden centre you should be in good shape.

Our friends at Bradford Greenhouses gave me some fun extras to share with you. Enjoy!

  • To prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails while you work in the garden, draw your fingernails across a bar of soap and you’ll effectively seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can’t collect beneath them. Then, after you’ve finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and your nails will be sparkling clean.
  • Turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick! Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground, and next to it place a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance apart (from just an inch to several feet) you’ll already have a measuring device in your hand.
  • To create perfectly natural markers, write the names of plants (using a permanent marker) on the flat faces of stones of various sizes and place them at or near the base of your plants.
  • The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain, use it to water potted patio plants, and you’ll be amazed at how the plants respond to the “vegetable soup.”
  • Always misplacing garden seeds, gloves, and your hand fork?  Try placing an old mailbox in your garden. With a new coat of paint, you have the perfect spot to place all those little things!


Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

January 27, 2012

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You’ve seen the listings on realtor.ca. The ones with photos that are dark, off-centre, fuzzy, maybe with dirty dishes in the sink…you know what I’m talking about! Some listings don’t have any photos at all!!! Check out Hooked on Houses for a variety of incredibly terrible MLS photos 🙂

You may think that if you don’t put pictures of your house online when you sell, more people will come because they’re curious. Don’t be deceived. This is old-world thinking. 10 years ago this was acceptable. Most buyers hired an agent first to find them a house. If you’re thinking about selling, you’re probably also going to buy another house. You’re probably on realtor.ca every day, maybe multiple times a day!

Pictures are so important when selling your home in this predominantly online market. Most buyers look online for months before even talking to a REALTOR! People are used to doing their own research and being in control before they ask a professional’s opinion. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something that you – the seller – has to be aware of. Now since November, in Barrie, we are allowed to post a total of 25 photos of a single property; this is an increase from the previous 7 photos! This is a direct result of the demand from you, the consumer, as well as us REALTORs.

We live in a visual society. We are on computers and cell phones almost constantly. Realtor.ca now has an app. This is the way of the future. Most buyers are looking at photos before they even check to see if there are enough bedrooms!

If your REALTOR is taking pictures to put online, make sure they take good ones. Anybody can edit photos by brightening up a room, or cropping out the cat. Ask to preview the photos before they go online! You have the right to do that. Better yet, hire a professional photographer. I hire Rowell Photography for my listings, and you will not believe the difference in the number of showings! They are incredible.

I’m not a photographer, nor do I pretend to be. Just like I’m not a mortgage agent or a real estate lawyer! I have a basic understanding of it, but in my opinion, leave the work to the professionals. They know what they’re doing, and chances are it will help sell your house sooner and for more money!


Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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Student Housing in Barrie

January 17, 2012


There is definitely a stigma attached to student housing. Some investors shy away from that market due to the high turnover rate and the idea that students will damage the property. There’s a new reality, and investors should take note.

In Barrie, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the rentals around Georgian College. One year ago in January, I attended the Ward 1 Town Hall meeting hosted by Mayor Jeff Lehman and Ward 1 Councillor Bonnie Ainsworth. One of the primary concerns was the student housing situation in our neighbourhood. Many people who own homes near the College reported that many of the student houses were basically slums with disenfranchised and often seemingly non-existent landlords. This image can be changed, but we need some local investors!

The need for good student housing in Barrie is great. According to a Barrie Examiner article on rental housing, Georgian supplies 525 on-campus beds for students – less than 10% of the full-time student population! If you ever drive down Duckworth St, you will have noticed that, last year, two new student apartment buildings were built which visibly helps the lack of student housing.

Remember that college and university students are generally good citizens. I remember when I started living in off-campus housing at university about 10 years ago. It’s an exciting time, and living on my own was a big step toward my independence. Although we didn’t own the house, us four girls felt like we owned a small part of it; we had pride of renter-ship!

So many students are like us. They’re growing up, and they want to prove to themselves, their friends, and their parents (when they visit!) that they can take care of themselves.

If you’re considering buying an investment property, consider this: most students rent by the room. If you’re renting a small 4-bedroom house in Barrie, you may pay around $1500 a month. According to an employee from Georgian College’s Housing and Student Life, students generally pay about $450 per room on average. If you multiply that by four rooms, that’s $1800! Granted, it may cost you a bit more for upkeep than renting to a family, but that’s still a larger profit margin for you.

Here are some tips from Georgian College’s Housing and Student Life Department if you’re considering ANY rental property as an investment:

  • Pick up a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and take some time to read it and understand the rights and responsibilities of both a landlord and a tenant
  • Join a landlord association and understand what being a landlord means. It is important to understand the pros and cons of being a landlord
  • Pick up a copy of the City of Barrie’s Rooming, Lodging and Boarding House By-Law.
  • If after doing all of the above, the potential investor is still interested in becoming a landlord, then s/he should speak with City staff to make sure the property s/he is interested in can be licensed under the City By-Law

Certainly there are varying points of view on this potential investment. As with anything, make sure you do your research. There are even some financial incentives for you to become a student landlord in Barrie! There is no denying that Barrie has a rental shortage in general, but you can make the conscious decision to rent to students. Good luck!


Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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Facing Multiple Offers

January 10, 2012


First, let’s define a multiple offer. It is a situation in which more than one buyer is interested in a property and offers the seller an Agreement of Purchase and Sale which includes price, inclusions, terms, closing date, conditions, etc.

Working with multiple offers is a very emotional process for both buyers and sellers, but for very different reasons. You may have been in a position as a buyer when your offer isn’t the only one on the table. In Ontario, if there is more than one offer on a property, the listing salesperson must disclose the number of competing offers, however they cannot divulge the price, terms or conditions on any other offers.

If you’re a buyer, consider these options:

  • Pricing. This is the first thing people think of in any offer situation, but it’s extra stressful now. Your best price is certainly the route most buyers would take. Consider, however, what the property is worth. If your offer is accepted with an inflated price, you may have issues getting financing – no lender will give you money if they can’t make it back in the case of power of sale or foreclosure. Also know that offering the asking price – or more than the asking price – does not guarantee your offer will be accepted.
  • Home Inspection. You may be tempted to not include a clause in the conditions requiring a home inspection. Indeed this is your decision, but just be aware that if there are problems later in the house you will be responsible for them. This is a big risk that you have to very carefully consider.
  • Financing. Removing the financing condition is an immense risk. Don’t forget that pre-qualifying for a mortgage doesn’t guarantee that you will be approved. The lender still has to assess the property as well as your most current income and credit rating. Again, this is your decision as a buyer, but if you don’t get financing after the offer has been accepted, you’re still responsible for buying the house!

If you are in a seller’s position, your emotions are no doubt different than the buyers’! You are probably excited at the fact that you get to choose the best offer out there, and you are in the position of power. You still have some very tough decisions to make, but talk to your REALTOR about all the options available to you.

If you’re a seller, consider these options:

  • Accept the best offer. This means that there are no negotiations since you are happy with the offer overall including price, terms, closing date, etc.
  • Negotiate with one buyer and reject all others. This is a tricky situation because if your counter-offer is rejected by the buyer, you’re back to square one. It can, however, work in your favour if there are only a couple minor details that need to be ironed out.
  • Negotiate with one buyer and let the other buyers know that their offers have been set aside in the meantime. This is the least risky option for you, however be prepared for the “other” buyers to make offers on other properties.
  • Reject all offers. As with non-competing offers, you don’t have to accept any of them if they don’t meet your minimum standards.

Whoever you are in a multiple offer situation, be sure to seek advice from your real estate professional about the choices. We have all the latest market conditions that can help you make the decision, but remember, you have the final say!

Good luck!


Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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