Get organized for the winter season


While we were fortunate to enjoy some unseasonably warm days during October, November has arrived and it’s only a matter of time before the snow starts falling. With the arrival of frosty weather comes the need to switch over our wardrobes from summer to winter, presenting the perfect opportunity to organize closets and dressers!

The first step is purging. As you sort through clothing, be honest with yourself and look at which items did not get worn this summer. If an item doesn’t fit or is no longer fashionable, throw it away or set it aside for donation. The same goes for accessories. Take some time to sort through shoes, belts, scarves, and jewelry, tossing items that have seen better days or just aren’t your style anymore. If you have a smaller closet and extra storage space elsewhere, move off-season clothes to a separate location. There’s no need to take up space with bathing suits, cover-ups, beach hats and sandals so if it’s an option, store these items elsewhere until the spring.

oc-pink-drapesOnce you have pared down your wardrobe, decide if your closet would benefit from an organization system. When you have a proper place for everything and put everything back where it belongs, you will have success in keeping your closet clean and organized all winter long. When setting up your new system, keep the items you use the most accessible and put things used less frequently at the back or on a top shelf out of the way. Set up clothing by colour, type (work, casual, active wear etc.) or by category (pants, dresses, shirts, etc.) – choose what works for you. Whatever you decide, keep the system simple so it can be easily maintained on a daily basis.

Another storage space that will likely need some attention is your front hall closet. Pack away sandals and water shoes, light spring jackets and anything else that has gathered over the past six months. Go through your winter wear items and be sure that gloves and mittens have a match and items are in good shape before adding them back into the mix. Now is also a good time to replace hangers or your shoe rack if needed.

4 Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Home maintenanceSpring has officially arrived! As a homeowner, the arrival of each new season usually brings with it a few maintenance chores that will need to be tackled, so wait for a nice, sunny day and check these jobs off your to-do list!

1. Repaint windows, siding and doors if needed. While wood will always be a popular material in home building, unfortunately it does require regular maintenance to keep it looking its best and realizing its life span. As with any job, take the time to gather the proper materials before getting started – it will make things run smoothly. Scrape away old, chipped or peeling paint from window and door frames and wood siding. Sand if necessary and finish by pressure washing on a low setting. Prime and paint as needed with a good quality exterior paint.

2. Organize the garage. After a long winter, your garage may have become a drop-zone for gardening supplies, sporting equipment, toys, broken items, etc. Enlist the help of kids to help create piles, including one for items to throw out, one for items to sell and a third for items to keep. If storage is an issue, assemble some heavy duty shelving or hooks. If your garage floor has seen better days, consider sealing and painting the floor for a tidy, clean look that will also extend its lifespan.

3. It’s likely been a few months since your air conditioner saw the light of day, so remove the cover on your outdoor unit, shut off the power and give it a good cleaning, removing any dust and debris. Inside the house, you’ll want to change the air filter and check for any leaks in the ductwork. Almost every HVAC company offers maintenance packages, so if you’re not up to the challenge or just don’t have time, schedule an appointment with a professional. Proper A/C maintenance will extend the life of your cooling unit and keep your energy bills down all summer long!

4. Clean or pressure wash deck. Canadians certainly spend as much time as possible during the summer months enjoying their outdoor spaces, so start off the season with a fresh slate! Take great care when pressure washing soft wood surfaces – one would rarely need more than 1500 psi to complete this task – any more can damage the wood. You can skip the pressure washer and buy a good quality wood cleaner and use some good, old-fashioned elbow grease to get your deck gleaming for the season ahead!

Jennifer Birch

Are you ready to buy?


Thinking of buying a home during this red hot spring market?   The biggest question to ponder when considering home ownership is affordability.   Take the time to determine a realistic budget, taking mortgage payments, property taxes, closing and moving costs, monthly utility and home repair and maintenance into account.

If you’re confident that buying a home is within reach, contact me, I work with a great Mortgage Broker who will help you to determine your options!

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

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.

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