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Archive for February, 2016

Should You Downsize? Take our Quiz

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Choosing less space to live in doesn’t have to be a downer. In fact, there are many up sides to downsizing, perhaps the biggest of which is spending less time on the maintenance, care and cleaning of a larger home and property.

Whether you’re an empty nester surrounded by too much square footage or just a homeowner who’s had your fill of living large and now find you want a simpler, low-maintenance home, moving to a smaller dwelling has many advantages.

Probably the biggest benefit is having more time and money to pursue other interests such as travelling or giving your time and effort to a good cause or charity.

So let’s see if you’re ready to live a simpler life. Take this fun quiz.

1.       Home ownership

a.       Means everything to me. My home is my identity.

b.      Is important. I take pride in my house and property.

c.       Is a nuisance. I resent spending money on my house.

2.       When our last child flew the coop I thought

a.       Wonderful. More space for our stuff.

b.      Wow, that went fast. What do we do now?

c.       Just great, another room to clean!

 3.       In my spare time I enjoy

a.       Tending to my lawn and garden in summer and, in winter, redecorating and cleaning the nooks and crannies of our home.

b.      Tennis, good food and binge watching a great TV series on Netflix.

c.       Anything that takes me away from winter.

4.       When I was younger I envisioned my later life

a.       Surrounded by friends and family and a lifetime of treasures accumulated and artfully displayed in our beautiful home.

b.      Enjoying grandkids, travelling some and hanging out with good friends and loved ones.

c.       As a condo dweller.

5.        Moving to a smaller home would mean

a.       A step backwards.

b.      Some adjustment but think of the time and money we’d save!

c.       Near total freedom!

If you answered mostly As, your home is your castle and you’re probably best to stay put. Enjoy the reign.

If you answered mostly Bs, you may be ready to downsize. Think about what the next few years mean in terms of employment and other income such as pensions. Drive through neighbourhoods you’ve always loved to look for smaller homes or bungalows. As an alternative, you could also start to consider condos. Check out www.freemancondos.com.

If you picked mainly Cs, get that for For Sale sign on your front lawn ASAP. You have been ready to move to a smaller home for some time.  Happy purging.

Do Home Renovations Hike Property Values?

Friday, February 5th, 2016

As with just about anything in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. When it comes to remodelling your home, you need to consider a number of factors, which are often complex and challenging, before deciding if a home renovation is of value.

It’s a good idea to start off by thinking about how long you plan to live in the house. Do you intend to raise your children there? Or is this home simply a stepping stone to something bigger and better? Perhaps you want to downsize now that the kids are gone or maybe your house is outdated and a little tired and in desperate need of some TLC?

Next consider your budget. Are you willing to spend $5,000 or $50,000 on that main-floor bathroom reno?

Now you need to devise a plan that honours your purpose and your budget. If you’ve always dreamed of cooking meals in a deluxe, restaurant-style kitchen and you have the funds to support this costly renovation and you think it’s well worth the expense, go for it. But be aware that changes you make today may not net you great gains five or ten years from now when you go to sell your house.  If, however, you’re updating your kitchen with the hope of selling quickly, nix the gourmet kitchen and go for something more modest and economical.


There is plenty of online information about how to determine the dollar value of a renovation. But there is no easy formula. Most of us know that in-ground swimming pools, wall-to-wall carpeting and sunroom additions aren’t the best remodeling projects, investment-wise. Getting the most bang for your home-improvement buck can be influenced by many factors, including your local real estate market and the style of home in which you live.

Knowing your neighbourhood before setting out to refurbish your home is critical. This will help you in your decision making and prevent you from making an alteration that may cause your house to stand out like a sore thumb. Also, understanding your neighbourhood will stop you from installing a $75,000 home theatre in a house that’s worth $400,000.

The Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) warns homeowners about spending too much for a home renovation:  “If the value of your house exceeds the average market value in your neighbourhood, your renovations will not yield much return. But if your house value is below the average, you can recover a larger part of the renovation costs.”

The AIC recommends choosing renovations that have a long life expectancy such as roofing and new windows, updating your kitchen and bathroom, cheaper upgrades such as paint and landscaping, and energy-efficient improvements.

It’s something of a real-estate mantra that reasonable kitchen and bathroom improvement projects tend to offer the highest rate of return on your investment. But remember not to overdo the remodel. Refurbishing your home to accommodate a separate apartment is also a good idea that will likely increase the value of your house in addition to your earnings thanks to the rental income.

In the end, you need to evaluate your finances and your current and future housing needs. And know that the only sure thing when renovating is having a home improvement project that will be anything but easy, cheap or fast.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.