Category Archives: Real Estate Tips

Gardening in Pots

Gardening in Pots

In the spring, many a homeowner’s thoughts turn to the garden. Given the beauty and convenience of a container garden, it’s no surprise that an estimated 90 percent of America’s 67 million gardeners grow plants in containers. Here are some tips for creating a cheerful container garden of your own.


Expand your imagination beyond flowers: a wide variety of plants and evergreen shrubs do very well in containers. Be sure to purchase your plants at a dependable nursery, selecting only high quality plants that are free of disease and pests. For more visual interest in each pot, use three or four plant varieties that harmonize with one another.

Sun & Soil

When growing plants in containers, rotate them a quarter turn each day to help them grow straight and full. Potted plants usually require more water and fertilizer than plants growing in the ground, using the proper kind of soil is very important.


Your imagination is the limit when it comes to containers for your garden. Most plant containers are made out of wood, plastic, ceramics or clay. But you might try non-traditional containers, such as buckets, wooden crates, or an old watering can. An unusual container can make for a striking garden arrangement.

Your container garden will make your home appear more welcoming and even more attractive to potential buyers. And whatever type of garden you create, remember to take time to enjoy it.

5 Reasons to Move This Summer

5 Reasons to Move in the Summer

Home buying and selling activity is typically hottest during the summer months. Here are five top reasons you should take advantage of the season and make the move this summer.

1. More homes to choose from

More people choose to sell during the summer due to nicer weather and school schedules. With a larger number of homes on the market, you’re more likely to find a home that suits your lifestyle and budget. If you’re thinking of selling, you’ll find a greater number of potential buyers in the summer.

2. Easier on the kids

The variety of summer programs available makes it easier for your children to meet future schoolmates. Kids are also playing outside more, which gives them lots of opportunities to make friends in their own neighborhood. Not to mention they’ll be able to start in the beginning of the school year and avoid the obvious new-kid syndrome.

3. More daylight

This is a plus for both sides of a transaction—buying and selling. It’s more appealing to show your house in the daylight.

4. Flowers are in bloom

As long as you water regularly, your curb appeal will be maximized by the lush and fragrant summer-blooming flowers. This also gives buyers a good idea of the amount of maintenance to expect to keep your yard looking beautiful.

5. Garage sale season

This is the perfect time to get rid of clutter. Your house will appear more spacious to your potential buyers, plus you’ll have less stuff to haul to your new home. Invite your neighbors to participate and make it a block sale for better attendance.

If you’re planning on buying this summer, get an advantage over the competition by getting pre-approved now. Whether you’re buying your first home, or selling your current home and buying another, the summer is an ideal time to make YOUR move.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Real Estate Agent

The home buying and selling process can be an intense and difficult task. With so much information available online, many people think they can take on the task on their own without using the services of a real estate agent. The real estate market can be complicated if one does not have the knowledge and experience. The benefits of using the services of a real estate agent can make the process much simpler and less stressful.

The following outlines the many benefits of hiring a real estate agent:

1. Knowledge and Know-How: Purchasing a home is more than just submitting an offer. An agent will have such knowledge as the community, neighborhoods, schools, road system, hospitals, shopping and supermarket locations …etc. They can also help you find a home that you can afford as well as offer advice on mortgages. They are knowledgeable about all that is involved when buying a home, such as the documentation required and the steps involved with the purchase. A real estate agent takes you through the process and minimizes the stress.

2. Time-Saver: If you are selling a home, an agent can take over the tasks such as arranging for a showing as well as actually showing the home. If you are buying a home, the agent will arrange for viewing homes that will suit your needs instead of spending time looking at homes that do not serve your purpose.

3. Buying and Selling Price Assistance: Agents will know if a home that is being sold is worth the money. They will look at such aspects as home demand and supply, current market conditions, the location, the type of house, and if the details of the house such as the number of bedrooms, are appropriate for the asking price. They can also negotiate the price which could save you thousands of dollars. Agents have access to such information as the value of other homes in the area, average sale prices, and the number of days the home has been on the market.

4. Essential Contacts: Agents may be able to recommend such professionals as a home inspector, Mortgage Company, a good attorney – etc. They have great contacts with those in the home sales market. They know reputations and can provide a number of choices so one can choose wisely.

5. Manage Documentation: The amount of paperwork involved with selling and buying a home can seem complicated and overwhelming to the novice. The Purchase papers can often be more than 10 pages. There are other papers such as such as federal and state disclosure forms. A real estate agent has the knowledge about all documentation involved with the sale process so that everything will be written up properly and legally.

6. Support: Because of the complex nature of the real estate process, you never know what questions you will have, but one thing for sure is that you will have questions. An agent will answer every question from start to closing.

Real estate agents play a crucial rule in the home sale/purchase process. By hiring a real estate agent, one will save time, money, and reduce a great deal of stress. For any home buy/selling venture, a qualified real estate agent is a must-have.

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How to Avoid Financing Declines – Lunch and Learn

Realtor Lunch & Learn

SOLD! How to avoid financing declines!

Join us this month for our FREE Lunch & Learn at the Guelph Cutten Club on Thursday May 20th from 12:30 – 1:45pm.

This month we will be reviewing the new mortgage rules and how they are changing the way you need to qualify your buyers and sellers.

In this session, we’ll show you:

– how to ensure your clients don’t get turned down for financing

– what you can do to better prepare your clients and get them the best deal

– how to stay in control of your deal and ensure it doesn’t fall apart on financing.

Register quickly!

Seating is limited to 40 Realtors so register quickly by replying to this email or call 519-763-3900 ext. 1000 and speak with Amy.

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Mortgage Centre in Guelph

Complementary Real Estate Services Inc.
Licence Number: 10242

343 Waterloo Avenue, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 3K1
Phone: 519-763-3900
Fax: 519-763-5233
Toll free: 866-838-4366
Toll free Fax: 866-812-8565

Each Mortgage Centre office is independently owned and operated.

Local Realtor Owns Property Guys

What Do You Think?

So a Real Estate Broker owns a private sale franchise in Mississauga.  the question posed is how can someone work both niches (private-sale and real estate) and still claim to have honest motives when talking to the prospective client?  I am not saying that this broker is dishonest in fact I am sure they are not.  What I am saying is how does one talk with conviction when asking someone to pay you to list on MLS when you might say just the opposite should they be looking for assistance to sell privately.  I would suggest that he should pick one or the other and run with it.

Here is the video that mentions his franchise.  Remember that I am not against private sale companies, they have their place.  Nor am I anti competition.  I believe in my model and my skills, people will pay for that expertise which will often put more money in their pocket should they follow my advice, rather than sell privately.  I just wish everyone would try it the logical way, which is to list with a realtor, then if that doesn’t work try privately…. MLS doesn’t cost a thing until it sells.  Anyway that’s another story.

So the reason I posted this video was really to attract more hits to this blog. PropertyGuys is a great website. I don’t have to bash them like some of their commercials or their presentations.  (That “Joe Schmo” thing is bothersome). Despite their sometimes questionable marketing methods, selling privately is an option. Just make sure that your motivation is right. Are you selling because you truly feel that you will put more money in your pocket, or are you caught up in a prideful mindset that just doesn’t want to give anyone a large paycheque? Isn’t it worth a chat with a realtor, its free, only 30 minutes at tops, and can potentially save you thousands of dollars? You can also take the head in the sand approach too I suppose. What you don’t know doesn’t hurt right?

What are your thoughts, should a Real Estate Broker own a Brokerage and a Private Sale company?


For more information about Andrew Somerville’s service visit: or leave a comment below.

Private Home Sales – Should a Realtor Sell Them?

Perhaps I am misguided for my choice of business model, and for this I apologize, mainly to the other Realtors. The reason I say this is because I don’t see the problem with selling private sales when the house is perfect for my buyers. Sure companies like the PropertyGuys get a little marketing boost when I sell one of their listings, but aren’t we all working together? I stick my sign in th eyard anyway even though their “policy” says I can’t. The homeowner is the real authority here, if they want my sign in the yard saying I sold the home, then why not? The general question I am asking though, is, Isn’t that my job; to sell houses? Aren’t those (private sales) considered houses? How can i tell my buyers that I cannot show that house because it is listed privately?

In the end I always act in the best interest of the buyers. Most of the time I still get paid by the seller and both buyer and seller are happy with me and refer more business to me. I have sold 6 this year. Sure my name doesn’t get recorded for those six sales in our local real estate board or on MLS, but that just pads my ego more than anything. So what is your opinion? Should I sell private sales or not? If your house was listed for private sale would you be grateful for me bringing a buyer and be willing to pay for that?

5 Kitchen Remodel Innovations

5 Kitchen Remodel Innovations

For most people, the kitchen is the most used room in their home. In fact, it’s so important that a kitchen’s usefulness and appearance tend to rank high in buyers’ lists for what they want in their next home.

Whether you are thinking of upgrading your kitchen and want to dream big, or are just wondering what the high-tech trends are, here are a few cutting-edge items you may soon see in the “kitchen of the future.”

Open-sesame cabinets

A line of cabinets by Anvil Motion lets you open your cabinets with a wave of the hand. And with the fingerprint-recognition option, you can keep drawers locked unless you open them, which is useful for knives and valuables.

Repair notification

Technology found in some new Miele refrigerators, washers and other appliances will detect a malfunction and alert either you or the company service center that it’s time for a visit from the repairman.

Cook in no time flat

Want to cook a 12-pound turkey in less than an hour? The TurboChef oven uses patented technology to move currents of hot air, so you can cook food up to 15 times faster than conventional cooking.

Glowing counters

Textured and colored countertops from ThinkGlass can be lit from underneath by LED lights so they can glow in a wide variety of different colors.

Fridge-oven combo

Want a steaming hot dinner on the table as soon as you get home? The Tmio intelligent oven lets you call it from your cell phone, and it will switch from refrigerating food to begin cooking what’s inside.

Of course, even less-than-cutting-edge technology can improve your kitchen as well. Feel free to get in touch anytime to discuss how improving your kitchen can also improve the value and enjoyment of your home.

Spring 2010 Student Rental Update

So were you one of nearly hundreds of investors buying rental properties before the mortgage lending rules were changed? (visit this link for more info: So now what do you do?  You probably over paid, and to top that off there are more student rental properties than normal on the market for rent.  This means more competition and more vacancy risk.

How do you rent these properties out especially when you missed the ideal time to find students?  Well, honestly, as of right now I don’t know.  Hire a professional is what comes to mind right away.  Lower your rental expectations in terms of price is the second.  Aside from that there are several other places to advertise your property such as

Try offering an incentive to sign a lease early (anytime before September 1st would be good at this time of year), lower summer rent, two months free. If you need help finding students, just call us we will help.

Find out how can you avoid this stress in a future article. What was our advice to our clients…

Canada Tightens Housing Market With New Changes

The new changes to mortgage lending policies implemented by the Canadian Federal Government will have some affect on our clients particularly our investor clients.  We used to teach a principle called “leveraging” where you could buy several properties using only 5% downpayments on each one resulting in more properties, cash flow and larger asset value. This helps you and of course helps us.  As of April 19, 2010 this will no longer be possible (at least in its simplest form). Investors will require a 20% downpayment for all non-owner-occupied homes.

Other changes include qualifying for a mortgage using a 5 year fixed term, and refinancing at only 90% of the homes value (formerly 95%).  Although these changes drastically impact our investor clients, the regular home buyer is not affected as much, and these changes will turn out to be good news in areas where speculators and rental investors have devoured homes causing sharply rising home prices. Perhaps after April 19, 2010, homes will stay affordable.  I have included the press release below for your reading, please not that this release was provided by The Mortgage Centre in Guelph Ontario.  If you what great service and a knowledgeable Broker, look them up.  Please comment below.

Guelph Real Estate Investors


The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, today announced a number of measured steps to support the long-term stability of Canada’s housing market and continue to encourage home ownership for Canadians.

“Canada’s housing market is healthy, stable and supported by our country’s solid economic fundamentals,” said Minister Flaherty. “However, a key lesson of the global financial crisis is that early policy action can help prevent negative trends from developing.”

The Government will therefore adjust the rules for government-backed insured mortgages as follows:

o Require that all borrowers meet the standards for a five-year fixed rate mortgage even if they choose a mortgage with a lower interest rate and shorter term. This initiative will help Canadians prepare for higher interest rates in the future.

o Lower the maximum amount Canadians can withdraw in refinancing their mortgages to 90 per cent from 95 per cent of the value of their homes. This will help ensure home ownership is a more effective way to save. o Require a minimum down payment of 20 per cent for government-backed mortgage insurance on non-owner-occupied properties purchased for speculation.

“There’s no clear evidence of a housing bubble, but we’re taking proactive, prudent and cautious steps today to help prevent one. Our Government is acting to help prevent Canadian households from getting overextended, and acting to help prevent some lenders from facilitating it,” said Minister Flaherty. “If some lenders aren’t willing to act themselves, we will act. These measures demonstrate the Government is committed to taking action when necessary to support the long- term stability of a sector that is so vital to our economy and the financial well- being of Canadian families.”

These adjustments to the mortgage insurance guarantee framework are intended to come into force on April 19, 2010.

Backgrounder Canada’s Housing Market Remains Strong Canada’s housing market remains healthy and stable. According to the International Monetary Fund, our housing market is fully supported by sound economic factors, such as low interest rates, rising incomes and a growing population. Moreover, mortgage arrears—overdue mortgage payments—have also remained low.

Today’s announcement is part of the Government’s policy of proactively adjusting to developments in the housing market that could take root and cause instability. These steps are timely, targeted and measured, and will reinforce the importance of Canadians borrowing responsibly and using home ownership as a savings mechanism.

Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage insurance (which is sometimes called mortgage default insurance) is a credit risk management tool that protects lenders from losses on mortgage loans. If a borrower defaults on a mortgage, and the proceeds from the foreclosure of the property are insufficient to cover the resulting loss, the lender submits a claim to the mortgage insurer to recover its losses.

The law requires federally regulated lenders to obtain mortgage insurance on loans in which the homebuyer has made a down payment of less than 20 per cent of the purchase price (also called high loan-to-value ratio loans). The homebuyer pays the premium for this insurance, which protects the lender if the homebuyer defaults.

The Government ultimately backs most insured mortgages in Canada. It is responsible for the obligations of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) as it is an agent Crown corporation. In order for private mortgage insurers to compete with CMHC, the Government backs private mortgage insurers’ obligations to lenders, subject to a deductible equal to 10 per cent of the original principal amount of the loan.

In October 2008, the Government adjusted its minimum standards for government-backed, high-ratio mortgages, including:

o Fixing the maximum amortization period for new government-backed mortgages to 35 years.

o Requiring a minimum down payment of five per cent for new government-backed mortgages.

o Establishing a consistent minimum credit score requirement. o Requiring the lender to make a reasonable effort to verify that the

borrower can afford the loan payment. o Introducing new loan documentation standards to ensure that there is

evidence of reasonableness of property value and of the borrower’s sources and level of income.

Measures Announced Today

Today, the Government announced three changes to the standards governing government-backed mortgages.

Qualifying at a Five-Year Rate

Current interest rates are at record low levels, which has improved the affordability of housing for Canadians. It is important that Canadians borrow prudently and are able to manage their debt loads when interest rates rise.

Lender and mortgage insurers look at two key ratios when assessing the ability of a borrower to make payments on a mortgage loan:

o Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratio—the ratio of the carrying costs of the home, including the mortgage payment, taxes and heating costs, to the borrower’s income.

o Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio—the ratio of the carrying costs of the home and all other debt payments to the borrower’s total income.

Currently, the interest rate used to determine the mortgage payment for these calculations is either the rate fixed for the term of the mortgage or, in the case of a variable-rate mortgage and mortgages with terms of less than three years, the greater of the contract rate and the prevailing three-year fixed rate.

The adjustments to the mortgage framework will require mortgage insurers to ensure that borrowers qualify for their mortgage amount using the greater of the contract rate or the interest rate for a five-year fixed rate mortgage when calculating the GDS and TDS ratios.

This measure is intended to protect Canadians by providing them with additional flexibility to support mortgage payments at higher interest rates in the future.

Limit the Maximum Refinancing Amount to 90 per cent of the Loan-to- Value Ratio

Borrowers seeking financial flexibility can currently refinance their mortgage and increase the amount they are borrowing on the security of their home up to a limit of 95 per cent of the value of the property. This type of refinancing lowers the borrower’s equity in their home. The adjustments today will lower the maximum amount of the mortgage loan in a refinancing of a government-backed high ratio mortgage loan to 90 per cent of the value of the property, consistent with the principle that home ownership is a tool for savings.

Discouraging Speculation by Requiring a Minimum Down Payment of 20 per cent for non-owner-occupied properties

This measure will require a minimum down payment of 20 per cent for government- backed mortgage insurance on non-owner-occupied properties purchased for speculation. Currently, borrowers may purchase a residential property with a 5 per cent down payment. Today’s change will require a 20 per cent down payment for small (i.e., 1- to 4- unit) non-owner-occupied residential rental properties. Borrowers purchasing owner- occupied residential properties which also include some rental units (e.g., borrowers purchasing a duplex to live in one unit and rent out the other) will still be able to access government-backed mortgage insurance with a 5 per cent down payment.

Moving to the New Framework

These adjustments to the mortgage insurance guarantee framework are intended to come into force on April 19, 2010. Exceptions would be allowed after April 19 where they are needed to satisfy a binding purchase and sale, financing, or refinancing agreement entered into before April 19, 2010.

This press release was provided as a service of the Mortgage Centre.

When it Comes to Furnaces, Size Does Matter

When it Comes to Furnaces, Size Does Matter

If your home heating system is more than 15 years old, this winter is a great time to consider upgrading your equipment to more energy efficient models, all the more because of the large number of government, utility and manufacturer incentive programs in effect.

If you do make the decision to replace your heating and/or cooling system, be sure to insist that the installing Furnace Diagramcontractor “sizes” the system properly. To determine the correct heating or cooling capacity of your system, a contractor should perform a “heat loss and heat gain calculation”. This calculation relies on an assessment of the size and age of the home, insulation levels of walls and attic, the type and number of windows, air infiltration rate, indoor design temperature, coldest outdoor temperature found in your area (typically in January) and other factors that influence the rate at which your home loses heat.

The “right-sizing” of replacement equipment is one of the most commonly overlooked methods for ensuring that you get the most from your system. Properly sized equipment performs more effectively and more efficiently, ensuring optimal comfort, less temperature differentiation between floors and maximum energy efficiency. If your contractor refuses to do a heat loss/heat gain calculation, find another contractor.

Over-sizing equipment can result in increased fuel consumption and higher operating costs, potential premature parts failure, higher noise levels, and reduced comfort (including hot or cold spots within the home). On the other hand, under-sizing can result in higher operational costs, particularly with today’s sophisticated models. The units will be working at full capacity most of the time, which can lead to premature breakdowns and, more generally, reduced comfort levels.

Furnace technology advanced significantly over the past few years. The introduction of two-stage and modulating technologies have allowed furnaces to provide heating at two or more different capacities. This will allow the furnace to deliver air to the home at a rate which more closely matches the heat loss requirements found throughout the year providing a more even temperature and comfortable environment.

A replacement furnace is not an everyday purchase, so make sure you look at all the options carefully. Remember to get three quotes when considering the purchase of new HVACR equipment, and make sure the contractor you select includes the cost of performing a heat loss/heat gain calculation in the price. You can find a qualified contractor by calling HRAI at 1-877-467-HRAI or online at —

Did you know?

You can get a combined Federal/Provincial grant of up to $1,580.00 to replace your existing furnace with one more energy efficient?  Find out how — >

And that…

Time is running out on the Home Renovation Tax Credit?  You only have until February 1, 2010 to acquire eligible purchases.   Such expenses can be claimed on your 2009 income tax return and applies to work performed or goods acquired after January 27, 2009 but before February 1, 2010.   Find out more –> Tax Credit!