Record Breaking November Sales

White clock with words Time to Sell on its faceThe REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington reported 1,323 sales were processed through the RAHB Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System in November. Sales were 5.6 % higher than the same month last year – which had the record for November sales – and set a new high for the month of November. There were 1,500 properties listed in November, an increase of 11.4 % compared to November of last year.

Breaking Records: “This is the fifth month this year for record-breaking monthly sales,” said RAHB CEO George O’Neill. “Even though new listings are up from last year, the brisk sales we’ve seen all year leave us with low inventory at the end of November. It is interesting to note that for all the monthly records set this year, year-to-date sales are very slightly below what they were last year at this time. – less than one per cent lower. It’s a testament to just how hot the real estate market has been for the last two years.

Average Price:  The average price of freehold properties showed an increase of 20.2 % compared to November of last year; the average sale price in the condominium market increased by 23.5 % when compared to the same period.

Average sale price is based on the total dollar volume of all properties sold through the RAHB MLS® System. Average sale price can be useful in establishing long-term trends, but should not be used as an indicator that specific properties have increased or decreased in value. Contact a REALTOR® for information about your area or property.

Days On Market: The average number of days on market decreased from 36 to 25 days in the freehold market and from 34 to 26 days in the condominium market, compared to November of last year.
“It isn’t taking long at all for properties to move in this market,” noted RAHB President Kim Alvarez. “It’s always a good idea to use the services of REALTOR® when you buy or sell your home, but especially important when properties sell as quickly as they do now.”

Winterizing your pool


If ever there was the perfect year to install a pool at home, 2016 was it! This summer brought with it fantastic weather for pool owners across Ontario. Plenty of hot, humid days and warm evenings meant lots of opportunity for enjoying a refreshing oasis in your own backyard.

Now, as the summer months wrap up for another year, it’s time to start thinking about closing the pool. Here are the steps you will have to tackle to prepare your pool for the long winter ahead.

1. Add a winterizing chemical kit to balance the water’s chemistry for the winter season. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and always take measures to protect your hands, eyes and lungs from the harsh chemicals.

2. Shock the water with an extra strong chlorine or a non-chlorine substitute to kill bacteria, and the fungi and algae that may be living in the pool. Be sure to keep everyone out of the pool for a few days.

3. Clean the pool. Remove all equipment, including ladders, baskets, filters, etc., rinse off all equipment and lay out to dry completely. Skim the pool, vacuum and brush the water line.

4. Drain the water to appropriate level. The water line should be at least a few inches below the skimmer. To avoid damage to your expensive equipment over the winter, make sure to thoroughly drain pumps, filters, heaters and chlorinators. Use a shop vac or air compressor to blow out every last drop of water.

5. Be sure to blow out the plumbing lines as well and use plugs to ensure no more water enters them.

6. Cover the pool as tightly as possible to prevent debris and rainwater from entering. You can use air pillows to hold the cover up in the centre, allowing debris and moisture to slide off.

7. After equipment has dried completely, safely store indoors if possible.

Getting your kids into gardening


Summer is a great time to get the kids outside and learning about nature, especially when nature’s so close to home – the garden! Why not plant a tree, create a window box, start a vegetable garden or plant flowers in personalized container planters?

If you have a recently moved into a new home, planting a tree is a fantastic way to plant your roots (literally!) at your new address. It’s importance to do some research first, and be sure to involve the kids in this initial step. Find out what kind of soil you have at home, consider how much space you are working with and decide how big you want the tree to grow. Some trees will do well in cold Ontario winters and others are good for small to medium-sized backyards, including Newton Sentry Sugar Maple (12 metres height, spread of 2.5 metres), Single seed Hawthorn (10 by 4 metres), Pencil Point Common Juniper (10 by 1.5 metres)and Upright English Oak (15 by 5 metres).

If you don’t have the space for sprawling flowerbeds, container gardening is the way to go. Let your kids help choose the flowers. A good rule of thumb to think of when selecting flowers is this: you need a thriller, some fillers and a spiller. The thriller is your bold, centrepiece plant – purple fountain grass or large red coleus are good options. Next you need your fillers, those that will surround the thriller. Begonias, dusty miller or marigolds would work well. Your spiller is the plant that will eventually cascade over the edges of your container – sweet potato vine and verbena are good choices. Purchase a good quality potting mix and remember that container plants dry out very quickly on hot, sunny days. Let kids take on the responsibility of daily watering.

Finally, teaching children the basics of growing their own food is a lesson they won’t soon forget. Keep it simple and small to start and select a few vegetables they enjoy eating. Peppers, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce mixes and snap peas are good options. Choosing a spot for your garden is an important step – aim for full sun as veggies need 6-8 hours of sun per day. Ask an expert at your local garden centre for tips on perfecting the soil in your vegetable garden.

If you have a crafty kid at home, have them create DIY plant makers for your garden. Pick up plain, wooden paint stirrers at your local hardware store, paint them various colours and write the names of your vegetables or flowers on them. You could also find small, flat rocks, paint them bright colours and write the names on them.

Jennifer Birch

Planning your Basement Renovation


Planning on doing a basement renovation this summer? Whether you plan to transform your basement into an office, bedroom, kitchen or family room, here are some basics you should consider before starting the work:

Have a master plan – Is your space big or small? Tall or low ceilings? Do you need a second or third bathroom in your basement? Laundry facilities? A temperature-controlled wine cellar? Figure out what you need and use the plan to guide you.

Ceilings – Consider a suspended or dropped ceiling if your basement is high enough. That way you can access the plumbing, electrical wiring and other guts of the home that are often hidden in basements. Ceiling tiles were once quite unattractive but today come in a variety of colours, textures and styles such as tin and beadboard.

Flooring – Since basements are prone to moisture and leaks, be sure to install a sub-floor. The space between the sub-floor and the existing floor acts as a barrier to moisture problems. The rest depends really on your budget and usage. If the room is a shrine to your big-screen TV, you may want to carpet it for cosy nights by the telly. A home gym might lend itself more to concrete, ceramic or vinyl tile, though those options will mean a cold floor. Laminate and hardwood are considerations for basements with little or no moisture issues. Know that moisture will destroy laminate and volatile humidity levels are not good for hardwood.

Lighting – Since many basements have few or no windows, lighting is an important consideration in your overall design. Try to maximize your use of natural lighting so don’t cover windows with heavy drapes. Let the sunshine in as much as you can. Recessed lighting is a great option if you have a dropped ceiling. They offer bright, concentrated light to any area and take up very little space so they’re perfect for lower ceilings. Throw in some ambient lighting and you’re good to go.

Insulate – Come winter you’ll be thrilled that you spent the extra money insulating your basement. Doing so not only keeps the whole house warmer, it saves you money on your energy bills.

Jennifer Birch


Why thieves love summer vacation


With summer finally here and the kids out of school, many families will be heading on family vacations! But just as excited as you are for the holidays, so are burglars who are paying close attention to what’s being posted on social media. To help you have peace of mind while on holidays, here are some tips from insurance company Aviva Canada Inc. on some precautions to take, in particular with social media, to protect homes and belongings from theft while away from the home.

1. Keep your upcoming vacation plans off of social media and remind your kids to do the same. Ideally, hold off on posting pictures or revealing destination and duration until you get back. While you may be diligent with who can see what you post, some of your friends may not have tight privacy settings. Consider how and when you are posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and any other social media platforms you may use.

2. Upgrade the locking systems on your doors and windows. Also inspect window or door frames to ensure thieves could not easily force entry. Ensure all windows and doors are locked when out of the home or overnight.

3. Make a home look occupied when you’re away. Park a car in the driveway, leave some lights and a radio on, ask a neighbour to collect mail and newspapers and have your lawn mowed.

4. Install a security device with a loud alarm or flashing lights. Some alarms contact authorities directly when they have been activated.

5. Do a home inventory with your video camera. It will take minutes but will save you the stress and heartache of listing all of your possessions.

Jennifer Birch

How to avoid moving day hassles


If you’re lucky enough to convince half a dozen strong, able-bodied friends to dedicate their Saturday helping you with your move, kudos to you! If not, and you’ve decided to hire a moving company, there are a few things you can do in advance to ensure that things go smoothly on the big day.

You’ve done a lot of work to get to this point, between preparing your home for sale, sealing the deal and packing up all of your worldly belongings. The last thing you need is unnecessary stress on your closing date/moving day.

First, ask around for a moving company recommendation. Check with friends, colleagues, neighbours and family for referrals. If you’re not able to get a good referral from a trusted source, check online websites like Kijiji, but proceed with caution! Ask the company to provide at least three recent references and follow-up with them. Request a meeting ahead of time to get a feel for the individual. Are they professional, prepared and courteous? Did they show up on time?

Once you’ve chosen a mover, get everything in writing. It’s the law. According to Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act (CPA), all moving contracts worth more than $50 must be in writing. Under the CPA, your contract must include:

1. The mover’s name, address and contact information

2. A description of the service(s) and their prices

3. The total cost that you will have to pay, additional charges that may apply and taxes

4. Start and end dates for the service

5. The terms of payment (cash or cheque)

Other items that should be included in the contract are size and value of items, who is responsible for loss or damage, the number of staff and vehicles that will be provided and the name of the person who holds their insurance policy.

Hopefully with a little research ahead of time, you can help ensure a stress-free moving day!

Jennifer Birch

New rebate to encourage buyers to Go Green


For anyone looking to make your home more energy efficient, you’re in luck. The Government of Ontario recently announced the creation of a new program to help Ontarians improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
The province is investing $100 million from the Ontario Green Investment Fund to provide rebates for homeowners who conduct an energy audit on their property and then complete retrofits recommended by the auditor.

According to the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), offering rebates has been a great way to help consumers make green decisions when it comes to home retrofits or renovations. Between 2007 and 2011, the province administered the Ontario Home Energy Savings Program (HESP), which provided homeowners with up to $150 towards the cost of a pre-retrofit energy audit, and rebates of up to $5,000 for retrofits. This program helped over 428,000 homeowners complete energy audits and 380,000 to complete retrofits.
OREA has been a strong advocate for provincial funding to help homeowners improve the energy efficiency of their properties. Most recently, OREA made new rebates a central recommendation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs during the committee’s pre-budget consultations. The association’s two-pronged recommendation for helping homeowners reduce energy consumption also includes inserting an energy audit into a standard home inspection.
“According to our research, three quarters of home buyers make an inspection a condition of purchase,” said Ettore Cardarelli, Chair of OREA’s Government Relations Committee. “Inserting an audit into a voluntary home inspection would give buyers important information about the property along with recommendations for how the new owner can improve energy efficiency of their home.”
For more information, visit Ontario Green Investment Fund.

Jennifer Birch