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Archive for November, 2016

Warm Up To a Winterized Home

Friday, November 11th, 2016

As the days get colder and darker and we begin to rummage for gloves, hats and scarves, we must also turn our attention to our homes because they, too, need a certain level of protection from winter’s chill.

Inside and out, there are many green ways to safeguard your home from the cold. Not only do you save time and money, but you’re doing your part for the planet, too. So let’s look at ways to winterize our homes the eco-friendly way:


Start by Sealing Leaks – This is a must as even small openings and leaks can add up to big heat loss. Be sure to install your storm windows. If needed, cover windows in plastic to keep cold out and heat in. Check basement windows for leaks and be sure to replace or add worn-out weather stripping around windows and doors. Replace worn doorstops. Caulk and weather strip entry points for ducts and pipes.

Protect Pipes – This is a simple and inexpensive way to protect your house from water damage due to frozen pipes. You should pad exposed pipes in unheated areas. If you don’t know where those are start by looking in your attic, crawl space or basement.

Insulate – Loading up on insulation it a good way to save on your energy bill.

Untap Outside Faucets – Undrained water can freeze, which can cause burst pipes. Disconnect your garden hose and drain the water.

Fix the Furnace – Either have your heating system inspected by a professional or be sure to clean and change your furnace filters. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand. Consider installing a programmable thermostat which allows you to turn down the temperature when no one is there or while sleeping.

Change the direction of your ceiling fans – This might seem insignificant, but by reversing the direction of your ceiling fans, you can actually push warm air downwards and cut your heating costs by as much as 10 per cent. In winter, your fan should turn clockwise.

Fireplace safety – You should have your fireplace inspected and cleaned by a professional.

Roll Up the Barrel – Be sure to release all water from your rain barrel and dump them upside down for thorough drainage. Remove hoses and rain spout diverter. Clean debris from the barrel and its filter screen. If you have space, store in your basement or garage to protect from further damage.

Draft Defense – There is a very easy and economical way to fight drafts, which can waste between 5 and 30 per cent of you energy usage. Take an old towel, scraps of fabric or a necktie and fill with sand or kitty litter for weight. This gives you a draft stopper that you can run at the base of your door to prevent warm air from escaping.

Clean your gutters – Clogged gutters can cause a leaky roof or water damage to other parts of your home.

Wear Woollies – Instead of walking around in a thin t-shirt this winter, throw on a sweater and turn down your thermostat. There’s no need to blast the heat when a warm hoodie or pullover will do the same job.

Tough New Mortgage Rules

Monday, November 7th, 2016

New lending rules definitely make it tougher for mortgage borrowers, especially first-time home buyers.

The sweeping changes introduced by the federal government last month are intended to stem the debt load of Canadians, some of whom have taken on sizable mortgages thanks to low interest rates.

The new rules centre on a kind of stress test to see if the borrower could afford a mortgage should interest rates jump up. Under the new plan, borrowers are assessed on a five-year standard rate of 4.64 per cent for a five-year loan, despite the fact that most lenders currently offer rates far below that number.


The stress test also includes other requirements such as stipulating that homeowners spend no more than 39 per cent of their income on home-related expenses such as mortgage payments, heat and taxes. Total debt must not exceed 44 per cent under the new rules.

The new rules apply to any insured mortgage in which the buyer puts down less than 20 per cent of the home up front.

By making it more difficult to obtain a mortgage, the hope is it will temper housing demand, prompting prices to fall or not rise so quickly.  The Bank of Canada announced that the rules will reduce the risk of Canada’s financial system becoming unstable.

According to Ratehub.ca, what this means generally speaking, is a family with a $100,000 income that saved $40,000 for a down payment could previously afford a home valued at $665,000. But under the new rules, that same family can only afford a home priced at $505,000.

The new policy makes it tougher for first-time home buyers, whose savings and incomes are generally limited. So if you’re buying a home in Toronto at $700,000, the minimum down payment jumps from $35,000 to $45,000. Homes under $500,000 require a down payment of five per cent, while those over $1 million need 20 per cent down.

The new plan also takes aim at foreign ownership of Canadian real estate. Homeowners are still eligible for a capital gains exemption on their principal residence but are now required to report the sale of their property to the Canada Revenue Agency. Exemptions will only be granted to Canadian residents and not apply to foreign buyers.

Also, as of Nov. 30, the federal government will require portfolio-insured mortgages to meet criteria that previously only applied to high-ratio insured mortgages.  The new requirements include a maximum amortization of 25 years, a maximum purchase price of less than $1 million, having a minimum credit score of 600 and the property must be owner occupied.

Handling Bad Neighbours When Selling Your Home

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

There’s that saying about how you can pick your friends, but family members you’re stuck with. Well, the same goes for neighbours.

But if you’re lucky, you have a flawless neighbour. The kind of person who bakes cakes for you, keeps a watchful eye on any troublesome activity and who doesn’t at all mind picking up bits of garbage and debris that get strewn on sidewalks and lawns up and down your street.

Fat chance, right? Likely your issues with neighbours lean toward the dark side and if you have a house to sell, that makes it all the more challenging. But there are ways to deal with annoying neighbours. Here’s how:

Overgrown Lawn

Living next door to a neighbour who has an unkempt property can be taxing. Toronto has bylaws that determine standards of acceptability when it comes to how tall grass can grow before it requires cutting and what types of items can be left lying around outdoors. You may need to get the city involved if you’ve tried gentler suggestions to get your neighbour to clean up.

If you’ve never broached the issue, you may want to give it a try. If you have time or are so inclined, offer to help your neighbour clean up. If you don’t have time and your neighbour is strapped for cash, you may want to pay or help pay for a lawn and garden service to spruce up the yard, at least until your home is sold.


Thanks to reality TV, we all know way more than we need to about people who have a psychological compulsion to accumulate junk. If your neighbour is a hoarder, abandoned vehicles, tires, old appliances may decorate their front lawn.  This will be offputting to potential buyers. To help you sell sooner, maybe you can offer to buy your neighbour an inexpensive shed to store all his treasures. While you’re at it, help your neighbour clear out the junk. Your hands will get dirty and you’ll be out a few bucks, but at least you’ll be able to realize top dollar for your home. Same theory applies for abandoned vehicles. Offer to pay the rental of a garage just to get the abandoned car out of sight.

Noisy, Unbearable or Nosy Neighbours

They are all detestable in their own special way. The noisy neighbour should be told in the nicest of ways to keep it down. Maybe they have no clue that their volume is too loud. If that doesn’t work, you could try contacting the city. The unbearable neighbour is a boor who can’t see beyond his nose. He doesn’t understand why people are offended by the beer fridge on his front porch or why neighbours suggest he wear shorts and a t-shirt instead of a thong when doing yard work. These folks can be difficult to reason with so they require a deft touch and diplomacy. The nosy neighbour should be curbed, if at all possible, before she gets to prospective buyers. Tell her that it is your realtor’s job to speak with potential buyers and if she needs to share information with them she should do so through your agent.

Two women looking over fence

Barking Dogs

Besides the fact that noise bylaws generally address excessive barking issues, it’s probably a good idea to have a chat with your neighbour if their canine yaps too much. Tell them you fear their dog’s excessive barking will make your house difficult to sell. Ask the neighbour if they can arrange to keep the dog in their home during showings. If that doesn’t work get your child or a neighborhood kid to walk the dog during showings. If your neighbour is being disagreeable, offer to pay for the services of a dog walker.

You can’t choose your neighbours but you can choose how to deal with them. Keep a cool head and a compassionate heart and never take their odd behaviour as a personal insult. It isn’t. If you’re not sure where to turn, call the city. They should be able to direct you.

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.