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Creating Great Curb Appeal

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Freshening up the exterior of your home is critical if you want to get those all-important buyers to your front door. Here are some tips to update your outdoor living spaces that are sure to help you close that sale:

Colour code – Add a bit of drama to your front and rear yards by creating a theme or using a consistent colour scheme. Add splashes of vibrant colour like lime or teal in planters and on throw pillows for the chairs on your front porch. Be sure to update outdoor furniture with wrought iron or trendy wicker. You don’t have to purchase an entire set, even updating one main piece will do.

Re-arrange it – Literally, re-arrange it. A swapping of plant material and a little top-up of fresh mulch in your garden beds will reinvigorate your front and back yards.

Trim – A good prune and shearing of shrubs and hedges is a must. A good rake helps wipe out even more garden debris.

Year-round blooms – Choose flowering shrubs and perennials that bloom throughout the varying seasons. Yews, false cypress and Alberta spruce can all be potted to give your home an instant formal entrance. A long border of mums in a bright colour scheme is eye-catching. Hanging baskets of Boston Ivy and miniature hostas can change the look of any deck or patio.

Clean up walkways – Even stone walkways and driveways need a good cleaning. The easiest tool to use to get the job done is a power washer. After power washing, it is a good idea to remove any grass or weeds growing out of cracks with a hook knife and spade – this will show how well the property has been lovingly maintained.

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

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Tips for Buying a Home solo

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According to a recent study, about 20 % of Canadian homebuyers are singles and of that number about 45 % are women.   In fact, Statistics Canada Census data shows that for the first time ever there are more people living alone in Canada than there are couples with children.  Households of one comprise 27.6 % of all homes. That’s three times as many since 1961.

If your stability quotient is high – you’ve been at your job a while and you plan on staying in the same city – buying is certainly a better option than renting given today’s low interest rates.

But there’s no doubt that saving up for the down payment will be more challenging with only one income to depend on. Ditto that for your monthly mortgage payments, condo fees and the maintenance that accompanies homeownership.

You should also consider your lifestyle. With more of your income going to your new house or condo, you may not be as free to spend your earnings on pricey clothes, dinners out and exotic travel.

What will your chore list be? If money is a concern you probably won’t be hiring someone to shovel snow, cut grass and wash windows. Do you have the extra time for these jobs?

Your location should be as equally important a decision as a couple buying a home but perhaps even more so. As someone who lives alone, you’ll want to be safe and secure in your new digs so check out the neighbourhood’s crime rate. Install a security system. Walk the neighbourhood to see how safe you feel.

Buying a home is a smart investment ¬and one that you’ll feel proud of for years to come – enjoy the feeling that comes with homeownership!

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

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What’s Happening in Burlington in September?

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September is always a busy time of year, especially with everyone trying to get back into the swing of things after a fun-filled summer. If you can find the time, don’t miss these exciting events, coming soon to Burlington!

Eco-Film Festival – Dirt! – September 23
Head to Burlington Central Library for the fourth installment of an exceptional series of documentary films highlighting a variety of environmental issues. This astonishing look at the glorious and unappreciated ground beneath our feet will be followed by guest speakers and audience discussion on how individual and collective action can help the planet locally. Film will begin at 7 p.m.

Culture Days 2015: Stained Glass Demonstration – Copper Foiling Method
September 25 – 27
Teresa Seaton, a 15-year veteran of stained glass, will be demonstrating her fabulous copper foiling technique at this unique event. Teresa’s gallery features a large selection of her latest works and now exhibits the work of established and emerging Canadian artists. The Teresa Seaton Studio & Gallery is located at 654 Spring Gardens Road.

The Beautiful You, Boots and Bling – September 25
Don’t miss this fun-filled evening supporting women in the community! Enjoy the Divas signature drink, the surprises in your loot bag and then get your boots scootin’ to some great tunes! Chow down at The Polish Hall’s famous dinner buffet, and then learn to line dance! This promises to be a fun night for all. Event starts at 7 p.m.

Springridge Farm’s annual Harvest Festival – September 21 – October 31

Takes place every weekend (including Thanksgiving Monday) from Saturday, September 19 – Saturday, October 31, 2015. Activities include wagon rides, a giant corn trail, professional puppet show, spooky *** *arn and the Fun Farm Yard. Admission to Harvest Festival is $12 per person (including HST), ages 2-92!

Celebrate Farmer John’s pumpkin crop with giant prize winning pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns and ghost pumpkins – all available for sale outside the barn. The perfect pumpkins for fall decorating!

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

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What’s Happening in Milton in September?

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It’s that time of year once again. The kids are back in school, the lazy days of summer are over for another year and it’s time to get back into the swing of things! Here in Milton, September brings with it plenty of great community events with something for everyone!

8th Annual Charity Golf Tournament – September 22
Crime Stoppers of Halton will host its 8th annual Charity Golf Tournament at the Royal Ontario Golf Club in Hornby. The tournament raises funds that directly support the Burlington Crime Stoppers program. Registration begins at 11 a.m. and a shotgun start will take place at 1 p.m. following a barbecue lunch. A buffet dinner is also included. Register for the 8th Annual Charity Golf Tournament online at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com

162nd Milton Fall Fair – September 25 -27
Nothing says ‘welcome to fall’ like a good old-fashioned county fair! Taking place at the Milton Fairgrounds, the fair offers three full days of exciting family fun. This year’s theme is Autumn’s Treasures. Enjoy a midway, live entertainment, games, buskers, tasty food vendors, agricultural contests and much more! An adult weekend pass will be offered for $25 – get yours until September 18 at the Fairgrounds office, The Flower Mill and LAJY Welding. For more information, visit www.miltonfair.com.

St. Paul’s United Church Open House – September 26
Enjoy a free, guided tour of the renovations of this community building and sanctuary of St. Paul’s United Church. A variety of kid-friendly activities will be held outside. There will be a number of community groups who use the facility on site. For more information please contact Karen Davidson 905-878-8732.

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

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Reducing Stress when Selling your house

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Numerous studies show moving is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Here are some tips to reduce stress when selling so that it can be looked at as a time of excitement and change!

Find the right Realtor – Look for a professional who sells real estate on a full-time basis and one who knows your neighbourhood well. Make sure your realtor is tech savvy and is using all the latest tech tools and a website to sell your house. Get recommendations from friends and family, and make sure to meet him/her to ensure it’s the right fit. You should feel comfortable, secure in his/her expertise, and be able to easily ask questions and share your thoughts.

Declutter – Clearing your house of too much stuff not only makes your property more attractive to a potential buyer, it also frees your mind as you make way for a tidy space. Living in a house that is loaded with bits and pieces of junk you might use one day adds to your mental stress. Let it go. If you can’t do that consider using your mother’s crawl space or renting a storage facility to store the stuff till after you’ve moved.

Pretty up the outdoors – Hire a gardener if your place looks like a jungle. Trim back hedges and bushes. Pull weeds, clean walkways and driveways and store away bicycles and toys. Remember the outdoor impression of your house draws potential buyers inside.

Entertain less, go out more – Having guests also invites mess so slow down on the dinner parties and go out with your family. This is especially handy on weekends when buyers have more time to view houses. So plan a visit to the museum, the park or try bowling.

What have you done to reduce stress during a move or when putting your home up for sale?  If you need help, call me.

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

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Teaching Kids good money sense

We’ve all heard that lessons in financial literacy need to be taught when kids are young. For parents of teens, it can be a struggle to teach them the ins and outs of financial accountability, while still allowing them their autonomy.

Young savers

According to the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, a non-profit group that teaches basic financial know-how to students of all ages, teens starting college or university bring an average $1,585 in credit card debt with them.

That’s because one out of three high schoolers use a credit card and by first year of post-secondary life, 54 per cent of all first year students do.

Robert Manning, author of Credit Card Nation, adds that young adults under the age of 25 are the most rapidly growing group of bankruptcy filers.

Do your children a favour and help nip in the bud this buy-now-pay-later habit, before it becomes a burden far too great for any minimum-wage earning teen to bear.

Show your kids how to establish a budget by helping them understand how much they earn in a month, what their expenses are, to set money aside (at least 10 per cent of their earnings) into a savings account, and that buying with cash is the best way to keep track of their spending.

If their expenses outweigh their income, show them where costs can be trimmed and ensure that they review their budget periodically.

If your student needs a credit card, emphasize that it should only be used in an emergency and that it must be paid off in full each month. If they can’t do that, stress that they should put the credit card away until the debt is completely paid. Should their credit card debt become a chronic problem, encourage your teen to get rid of the card altogether.

For the younger set, parents are advised to start young with lessons about the folly in impulse buying, ways to earn money by doing household chores for a start, and how to plan and save for future purchases that really matter to them. Also teach your young consumers how to be wise shoppers who compare prices and look for sales.

Jennifer Birch – Realtor