Thinking of re-entering the Real Estate market after many years? Check out these helpful tips!


If you’ve owned your current home for many years, you may find that a lot has changed in the real estate world. Understanding what has changed can come in handy when you’re entering the market for the first time in a while. Here are a few of the key ways the real estate marketplace has changed, and how these changes may impact you as you buy or sell a home.

Buyers and sellers have more access to info. Real estate advice and trends are easily available online at any time. Today, many buyers turn to the online Multiple Listing Service® at to see what homes are available for sale. The accessible, up-to-date system is a big upgrade from paper-based listings. Besides learning about the sales and listings in your area, you’ll also want to take the time to learn about your rights and the protections available to you during the real estate process. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is a good place to start.

Real estate professionals are more accessible. Cell phones and mobile technologies have made brokers and salespersons easier to reach, so when you need guidance or advice, you’re more likely to get a quick response.

Commerce is conducted electronically. Transactions often take place electronically as well. Contracts can be signed with electronic signatures, offers can be submitted via email, and money can be transferred electronically too. This can make the buying and selling process more efficient, if you choose to take this approach.

Real estate professionals can offer specialized service. Different age groups may look at real estate differently and have unique needs when it comes to buying or selling. The real estate profession has responded to this reality, and there are now brokers and salespersons who specialize in serving the boomer market. You can find one near you by visiting or

RECO is looking out for consumers. The Ontario government created RECO in 1997 to protect home buyers and sellers. That means enforcing rules and a Code of Ethics for real estate professionals, and providing helpful advice to home buyers and sellers. RECO also provides insurance that protects your deposit payment when it is held by a registered brokerage.

One thing hasn’t changed: the knowledge and experience of a real estate professional can be very valuable when you’re buying or selling your home.

A broker or salesperson can help you navigate the process and provide key advice. Before you choose a representative, ask friends or family if they’ve worked with anyone they would recommend.

Be sure to interview a few candidates to ask them about their approach to the buying and selling process, their experience, the services they will offer, and the fees and commission they will charge. It’s also a good idea to ask for references and actually contact them.

A lot has changed in the real estate world, but the changes have provided a lot of benefits for home buyers and sellers. As always, taking the time to make an informed decision will go a long way in having a positive downsizing experience.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

Source courtesy of:  RECO Helps

Don’t miss the Greater Hamilton Home and Garden Show


Spring is just around the corner and the Greater Hamilton Home and Garden Show couldn’t be at a better location or time! The Players Paradise Sports Complex will transform into everything home and garden from March 4 – 6, giving folks an inside look at trends, decor, accessories and more for upcoming 2016 summer season.

HGTV fanatics won’t want to miss Tommy Smythe’s appearance at this year’s show on Saturday, March 5. Frequent appearances on Marilyn Dennis and his input with Sarah Richardson on HGTV have thrust Tommy into the spotlight – he is an authentic talent who won’t disappoint!

The Hamilton Home and Garden Show is offering advance tickets for only $8. Save $2 off general admission and cruise around the jam-packed sports complex where more than 50 exhibitors will be on hand with giveaways and samples from the latest home and garden accessories on the market From decks to kitchens, landscaping, roofing and full home restoration, the Hamilton Home and Garden Show is a must-visit for any home enthusiast!

The little ones will love the Kids Zone, open all weekend and featuring Little Rat’s interactive reptile show happening at various times. Hamilton Sod Green Horizons is introducing a green thumb program called ‘Big Yellow Bag’ at this year’s festivities for all the little gardeners out there.

Get in on some fabulous ideas for the up and coming renovation and garden season. Get prepared and browse all weekend with a pass to the Hamilton Home and Garden Show at Players Paradise Sports Complex located at 565 Seaman Street in Stoney Creek. Visit

Jennifer Birch

What’s Hot in 2016?


We spend much more time indoors during the winter months. If you find yourself looking around at your home’s decor and feeling a little blah, take a look at these 2016 home decor trends and start planning a fun decorating project!

According to Zillow Digs, an online hub for home improvement and design inspiration based in the U.S., ‘farmhouse chic’ (think mason jar light fixtures and chalkboard paint refurbs) is on the outs and a movement towards “simplicity with bold accents reminiscent of the roaring 20s” is what’s hot. When is comes to colour, natural, earthy shades are popular once again, contrasted with retro art deco statement pieces.

Here are Zillow Dig’s top four design trends for 2016:

  • Art deco will make a bold new comeback in 2016, with a few modern improvements. Look for the style’s trademark geometric patterns and honeycomb shapes to weave their way into anything from wallpaper to artwork, adding elegance and dimension to any space. Experts also predict gold statement lighting fixtures to rise in popularity, especially in kitchens and dining rooms.


  • Nubby wool or other natural fibres will be the go-to texture for 2016, especially for area rugs. Its neutral hues create the perfect indoor/outdoor vibe while softening bolder colours or dramatic statement pieces.


  • Encaustic tiles – these intricate patterned tiles get their colouring from different types of clay or minerals rather than glaze, and can be used to create a beautiful, natural-looking focal point. Expect to see encaustic tiles pop up in a variety of rooms throughout the house in 2016, including kitchen backsplashes, bathroom shower tiles, accent walls and even fireplace mantles.


  • Less is more, as minimalism and thoughtful decor choices will be a prominent theme in 2016. Flea market finds, travel souvenirs and unique artisan pieces will take centre stage in home design. Look for a rise in partnerships between big box stores and global artisans to accommodate the increased demand for one-of-a-kind or handmade items.

Jennifer Birch

What you need to know about electrical work in your home


There are certainly a number of home improvement projects that can be accomplished by homeowners – with a little research, some expert advice and smart planning, you can save money and learn a new skill. But it’s so important to recognize your limitations.

Electrical work is commonly acknowledged as one of these limitations. Your home is likely the biggest investment you will ever make. It will house you, your family and your future, and as such, it is your responsibility to ensure all electrical work is safe, and completed according to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.

A Licenced Electrical Contractor (LEC) will have a valid ECRA/ ESA Electrical Contractors licence and will work within the parameters of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. When you hire an LEC, you can rest easy knowing they are fully insured and employ only certified electricians. They are responsible for arranging permits and inspections and obtaining an ESA certificate of inspection. Be sure to ask for a copy of this certificate to keep for your records. Electricians are required to re-certify their licences during their careers to ensure they are knowledgeable about new technologies, products and safety codes.

Poorly executed wiring can lead to damaged appliances and voided warranties. It is also the leading cause of house fires. Legally, electrical work must be examined and approved by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA). Uninspected work can void your home insurance policy, and in the case of a fire, you could be left with no coverage at all. Arrangements for an inspection must be made as soon as possible after completion of the electrical installation.

Another aspect to consider is a permit. Most electrical work requires a permit from the ESA. An electrical “permit” (also called an Application for Inspection) needs to be obtained within 48 hours of electrical work beginning. Electrical permits are not the same as a building permit – if you have a building permit, it doesn’t mean you have an electrical permit. The fee for an electrical permit varies according to the type of work being done. If you decide to complete the work yourself, call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233) to confirm permit requirements and get your permit.

Don’t take chances with electrical work. Choosing a certified electrician to complete your home improvement project is choosing the safe way to maintain your home investment and most importantly keep your family safe.

Jennifer Birch

9 Things People with Clean Houses do everyday



Find yourself feigning excuses for why your friend can’t pop up to your place to use the bathroom before the movie? Ever turn beet red with embarrassment when unexpected guests enter your home? It sounds like you have a messy house.

Imagine how much more enjoyable life would be if you were one of those perpetually tidy people whose homes could be company-ready with 15 minutes’ notice. We wanted to turn our clean fantasies into a reality, so we researched the daily habits of people with clean houses — note the word “habits.” What we learned is that it takes more than a few deep cleanings to achieve this status of cleaning goddess. It takes daily work and preparation to keep your house in a constant state of near perfection.

Read on to discover the nine habits people with clean houses do every day, and how you can adopt them to get out of the disaster zone you’ve been living in.

1.Make Their Bed
Before you leave the house in the morning (or better yet, before you leave the bedroom), make your bed. If you’re in a rush, pull the comforter up to the pillows, and smooth it out to create the semblance of a made bed. This simple act creates a sense of order in your bedroom and sets your day off on a productive note that’s likely to carry through.

2. Empty the Dishwasher in the Morning
Get the dishwasher emptied and ready to go for the day. Doing this in the morning lays the groundwork for an easy dinner cleanup at night and keeps dishes from stacking up in the sink throughout the day.

3. Do a Load of Laundry Every Day
Washing clothes on a regular schedule keeps the dirty pile from becoming overwhelming (not to mention, ensures that you’ll never run out of clean underpants). Those with big families prefer doing it every morning, but if you live alone, doing laundry a couple of predetermined days a week should suffice.

4. Use Baskets to Organize Things
When there’s a place for everything to go, it’s easier to keep everything in its place. Scatter cute baskets throughout the house to corral your things, and add shelves to hold the big pieces.

5. Don’t Procrastinate
When a box is delivered, unpack the goodies inside, and discard the packaging immediately. The same goes for dealing with spills or messes. The longer you wait, the harder they become to deal with.

6. Put Away Their Clothes From the Day
As tempting as it is to drop your clothes on the floor after a long day’s work before slipping into your sweats, tidy people take the time to fold, hang, or place them in the hamper, as necessary. Do this, and your clothes and floor will both look better for it.

7. Clean as They Go
You can dramatically minimize your mess by cleaning as you go. If you rinse the cutting board while the pasta is boiling or start loading the dishwasher while the chicken is baking, the bulk of the work will be done by the time you serve dinner.

8. Never Go to Bed With a Dirty Kitchen
Resist the urge to climb directly into bed after a big meal. Take care of any and all kitchen cleanup that night — clean pots and pans, wipe down counters, etc. Not only will the mess harden and be smellier the next day (read: more challenging to clean), but waiting means that you’ll have to spend your morning backtracking to make up for what you neglected the night before, instead of getting a head start on the day ahead.

9. Plan Ahead
Whether it’s picking out your outfit the night before or reviewing what cleaning products you need to restock before tackling the bathrooms that weekend, you can give yourself a jump on the day by planning ahead.


Great Online Resources for Home Purchase information

Single buying

If you’ve recently gotten engaged, married or are planning a wedding, there’s a good chance you and your significant other are also preparing for the purchase of your first home together. This is an exciting time in your life, and maybe even a little scary, particularly for first-time buyers. Fortunately, there is a wealth of information available at your fingertips to help you make an informed decision.

As with any large purchase, a little planning and research can go a long way to help you turn your dream of home ownership into reality. A good place to start is with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), an independent government agency that has lots of helpful information and tools. Here’s a snapshot to get you started:

The Mortgages 101 section of the website defines key terms that anyone planning on buying a home needs to understand, such as down payment, amortization period and term. It explains in clear language how interest rates, payment frequency and other fees will affect the monthly payments and total cost of home ownership. It also outlines the many other fees that you may have to pay, such as mortgage default insurance, land transfer taxes and moving costs.

See what you can afford: FCAC’s interactive mortgage calculator tool will calculate the monthly payments for any given mortgage amount (loan), and the mortgage qualifier tool will show you how much financial institutions will lend you, given your income and circumstances.

Next, you can turn to the interactive budget calculator to see how large a monthly mortgage payment you can afford. By showing you where your money goes and where you can trim your spending, this tool will help you to save a larger down payment and make sure you can meet the regular mortgage payments.

Check your credit report: Before you start shopping for a mortgage, order a copy of your credit report to make sure it does not contain any errors. This is a snapshot of your financial history. A potential lender will look at a copy of your report before approving you for a mortgage. The Agency’s publication Understanding your Credit Report and Credit Score explains how to obtain and understand your credit report and score.

Once you know how much you can afford and how much the mortgage, fees, and insurance will cost, the FCAC’s Mortgages 101 will guide you through the home purchase process.

You can find all these resources and information online at

Source: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)

Jennifer Birch

Is there too much moisture in your home?


Have you noticed tiny droplets of moisture – otherwise known as condensation – forming on the inside of your windows this winter? If so, you likely have an issue of high indoor humidity. So, why does it happen? New homes in Canada are built to be airtight, limiting the flow of air in and out of the home to reduce heat loss. As a result, it’s difficult for excess moisture to escape during the winter months when windows are constantly closed.

High indoor humidity can fog up and eventually rot your windowsills. With excess amounts of condensation, mold will begin to grow on vinyl windows. And that’s mold that you and your family will breathe in every day. Bathrooms and kitchens are moisture monsters – steamy showers and boiling pots build up water vapour in the air that condenses when it touches cold walls and windows. In this environment, mold will eventually start to grow.

Excess moisture is a problem you don’t want to ignore, but you’ll be happy to hear that there are many simple ways to remedy the situation. Here are some tips for reducing moisture levels in your home:

Use exhaust fans. Be sure to run the bathroom fan for about 20 – 30 minutes after showering. Get in the habit of turning on your range hood when cooking to clear the air.
During the winter months, avoid drying wet clothes on racks inside. If you must, dry them in the bathroom with the fan on.
On a day that isn’t too frigid, crack open a few windows for an hour or so to let some of the moisture escape.
If you’re replacing your windows, opt for windows with a high R-value – the higher the R-value, the better equipped the window is to prevent condensation from forming.
Install a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). Many new homes are being built with HRVs to help eliminate this problem. This suitcase-sized appliance typically has one fan to bring in outdoor air and another fan to push out the stale, moist air. Heat is transferred from the outgoing air to the incoming air by passing the two air streams through a heat-exchange core, also helping to reduce heating costs.

Jennifer Birch