Five easy steps to reduce stress when selling your home

Selling your home seems like a pretty simple idea. The steps appear to be straight forward… 1) call a REALTOR® 2) clean the house 3) have people come through your home 4) get an offer 5) put up the sold sign 6) move

Stress starts from the moment you don’t see and realize the big picture. Understanding and managing the selling process will help you in managing the stress, hence, making the selling process much more enjoyable.


  1. Call a REALTOR® you can trust. The most important step is selecting a REALTOR® who will work well with you and listens to your wants and needs. This is the person who will prepare you for the speed bumps and not allow you to hit them straight on! There is a large number of REALTOR®s in the market and they are not all cut from the same cloth. Each has their own style of conducting business. Each has their own personality, experiences and values. Interview 2 or 3 to see which person comes across as someone you can work withl. This is the biggest and most important step!
  2. Manage your expectations during the home selling process. It is not uncommon that we feel our home will sell very quickly. In actual fact, this is very rare in a balanced or buyers market unless you have a highly desirable home priced just right. Your REALTOR® will be able to give you market information which tells you the type of market you are currently in and also the demand for your type of home., as an example, whether it is suitable for young families of today or what trends buyers are moving towards. If you are expecting a fast sale and it is now over 3 months will cause conflicts and stress. Understand all the factors that affect the home selling process.
  3. Getting your home ready for sale will most likely have a different meaning for you than your REALTOR®. Your REALTOR® will be able to make suggestions which will make your home more appealing to a greater number of potential buyers. Home Staging may be the answer but it is not for everyone. It is important to discuss what this exactly means and how much it will cost and whether your home will benefit from it. You want to highlight and maximize all the good features of your home. Keep in mind that a buyer will be more sold on your home if they can experience the feelings of living in it when they walk through the door.
  4. Your REALTOR® may also suggest small or big home repairs or changes. He or she may see that the yard needs some TLC, or feel some (or alot) of the personal objects need to be packed up, or the closets decluttered. The list goes on. Keep in mind that these are not for the purpose of making your home into a show home but to ensure that we maximize the feelings of every buyer that comes through the door. The fact is that not every house sells and few sell fast (your REALTOR® can provide you with these statistics) so in order to give it 100%, your home needs to be ready.
  5. It is important to understand the buyers side of the equation as well. Not everyone who comes through your home will want to buy it. In fact, the number is very low in most cases. As previously mentioned, not every home sells and few sell fast. Buyers come in all shapes and sizes, different budgets, different experiences. It’s a bit of a treasure hunt for them… they are looking for the perfect home. In most cases, you also have a husband and wife who must also come to an agreement of their individual wants and needs list. There will be sacrifices and 99.9% of buyers will not get everything on their lists. Put yourself in their shoes as you too will be doing the same thing. They will look through dozens of houses looking for the perfect gem. Most are not in a rush, some will also have to go through the same process as you to list their home, and some are already stressed. Just keep in mind that if they don’t select yours, it is not personal.

There are many opportunities to be stressed in the home selling process. It is important to reduce as much as you can so you can enjoy moving on to the next adventure in your life. Don’t let the little things become big things and keep focused on what is important. These steps are just a few of the many points which a REALTOR® can assist you with. Don’t underestimate the job they will do for you.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another”
….. Williams James

When you buy a home, do you include the appliances?

Have you ever planned a long needed vacation just to have something more urgent interrupt your plans before you even get a chance to relax?  How about the times when just as you “touch wood” for making a casual declaration like “I never have issues with my car.  It’s always reliable” just to have something go wrong?  Well Karma works in funny ways and house purchases are no exception.

So you buy a home which included some stainless steel appliances which look in wonderful shape.   As you start settling down in your home over the next few weeks and you find out these nice shiny objects have issues.  They may just stop working altogether.  The question is… did the sellers know there were issues with the appliances when they agreed to leave them in the house? Or, was Karma just working against you?

What to do?

  1. Attempt to fix it
  2. Go out and buy a replacement appliance
  3. Get angry and call your realtor
  4. Get angry and call your lawyer
  5. All of the above


If an appliance which was included in the sale fails to work correctly after closing, your options are limited to get anyone to do anything about it.  This is a BUYER BEWARE situation.  Your agent and you should test each of the appliances during your home inspection to ensure they are operational.  Any issues which are discovered can be address far in advance of closing.  Then again, the day of or prior to taking possession, another inspection of the appliances should be conducted.  There are NO WARRANTIES with these items after you take possession of the home.  If they fail to operate after you move in, you have no recourse.   Trying to solve this situation via the lawyers would end up costing you more money and stress than it is worth.   Venting to your realtor or lawyer may help with your stress level but will result in very little satisfaction.

How to protect yourself?

  1. The best solution is to bring or buy your own appliances
  2. If you do include them in the offer to purchase, ensure you take the time to inspect whether they are operating as expected. (NOTE:  this does not protect you against issues that result in a complete failure of the appliance days or weeks after closing)
  3. Ensure you understand that no warranty is expressed or given when you include the appliances.  When you have the keys in your hand, you are now the proud owner of those appliances, working or not working!
  4. Request to take photos of each of the appliances and record the make, model, and serial numbers.  This way the old bait and switch doesn’t happen before closing.  You ensure the appliances you thought you were going to get are actually the ones in the house on the day of closing.

Final word!

Within the negotiating process, be happy with the price you are offering FIRST.  If your agent is able to also negotiate in the appliances to make the deal come together, then it’s a win win.  You shouldn’t feel that you paid extra for the appliances especially when that perceived “extra cost” goes into the mortgage and paying interest for 25 years.  If they only last a week or 5 years, you are technically out nothing other than a bit of stress.

Have you heard about the Municipal Land Transfer Tax?

Currently, as a home buyer you will pay a Provincial Land Transfer Tax.  This adds thousands to the home purchase.  This may change in the future if the province grants Municipalities the authority to collect additional tax revenues by way of a Municipal Land Transfer Tax.  Toronto buyers currently pay a Provincial and a Municipal Land Transfer Tax adding an average of $12,000 to the home purchase.  Keep in mind that the tax is based on a percentage of the purchase price.   The same calculation done for a $300,000 home in Kingston would be approximately $2,975 for the Provincial Land Transfer Tax and then and additional $2,720 for the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (assuming the same percentage rate as Toronto is charged)

The spread of the Municipal Land Transfer Tax throughout the province threatens to increase the total cost of home ownership.  The additional tax dollars is for the benefit for all citizens and to fund all municipal services, not just home buyers.  This additional tax burden on Buyers will have a trickle down affect on consumer spending.

OREA Position
Ontario REALTORS® oppose the municipal LTT. Simply put, the tax is fundamentally unfair, bad for the economy and is an unreliable source of local revenue that has implications for provincial tax revenue.”

The good news is that when the candidates for the recent municipal election (Kingston, Gananoque, Stone Mills Township, Napanee) were questioned whether they supported such a tax, an overwhelming number said no.  Time will tell whether this is true.  At the very least you will know more about this potential additional tax burden.

Don’t Tax My Dream with MLLT




How to create a spooky house!

Have you been possessed by a scary spirit?  

With Halloween just around the corner, making a haunted house is a perfect way to celebrate or to spook your guests.  To transform your house will take planning, hard work, and creativity.


1. Start by planning a path… either inside your home or outside.  Figure out the scale of how big you want to make this.  Maybe it will only be the entrance to your home or you could plan a series of small areas or rooms.


2. What is the tone you wish to convey… i.e. funny or scary?  Is this mainly for kids or adults?


3. This will take more than one person to pull it off.  Enlist family or friends.  You may want some of them as actors in costumes making noises or grabbing your guests in unsuspecting corners.


4. Consider the theme.  Is this a traditional haunted house, serial killer, graveyard?  You will want a story to go along with the theme.  Figure out an interesting story to go along with your spooky theme.


5.  Pay attention to the light effects.  Too much light will disclose the location of your actors too soon.  But you need enough light to ensure the safety of your guests.  Consider giving your guests flashlights or other light source.  Replace light bulbs in lamps to coloured bulbs such as green.  Dress up traditional lamps with cob webs and bats on the inside.  Ensure the bulb is not touching any of the materials!!!  Black bags can be used to cover furniture.  


6. Don’t forget the special effects.  Strobe lights create a slow motion effect.  Fog machines can be used to provide a eerie atmosphere.  Black lights and neon paint can be used to create your signage.


 7. Noises!  A spooky house is not complete without noises.  Timing is everything.  Have your actors use noisy shakers.  Use different spooky music in each area. Silence can also be used just at the right time!

Now you have the basics!   Consider the time left to plan, the people that will be helping you, and how much you want to invest in time as well as money.   

Happy Halloween season 🙂

Longer or shorter? Your amortization affects how much your mortgage really costs.


Shawn Kimber
RBC Mobile Mortgage Specialist


Choosing the length of your amortization period, which means the number of years you will need to pay the full balance of your mortgage, is an important decision that can  affect how much interest you pay over the life of your mortgage.

Historically, the banking industry’s standard amortization period has been 25 years, a standard that still applies today. It is the benchmark that is used by most lenders when discussing mortgage offers.  However, shorter or longer time frames are available.

Why choose a shorter amortization period?
The main reason to opt for a shorter than standard amortization period is so that you become mortgage-free sooner. And since you are agreeing to pay off your mortgage in a shorter period of time, the interest you pay over the life of the mortgage is therefore greatly reduced.

You also have the advantage of building home equity sooner. Equity is the difference between any outstanding mortgage on your home and its market value. It represents the amount of money you can claim as your asset. If you choose, your equity can be used to secure lower interest cost financing for things such as home renovations, your children’s education or second property investments, just to name a few.

A shorter amortization period saves you money on interest.

While there are many good reasons to opt for a shorter amortization period, there are a couple of other factors to consider. Because you are reducing the actual number of mortgage payments you make to
pay off your mortgage, your regular payments will be higher.

So if your income is irregular, or if you’re buying a home for the first time and will be carrying a large mortgage, a shorter amortization period that increases your regular payment amount and ties up your cash flow may not be the best option for you.

But, if you can comfortably afford the higher payments and are looking to save money on your mortgage, or maybe you just don’t like the idea of carrying debt over a long period of time, perhaps you should consider a shorter amortization period. The following chart will help you see the differences between shorter and standard amortization periods.

Compare the difference*: Five-year fixed-rate closed mortgage

Why choose a longer amortization period?
Choosing a longer amortization period can get you into your dream home sooner than choosing a standard or shorter period. When you apply for a mortgage, lenders calculate the maximum regular payment you can afford. They then use that amount to calculate the maximum amount they will lend to you for your mortgage.

As a shorter amortization period results in higher regular payments, a longer amortization period reduces the amount of your regular principal and interest payment by spreading your payments over a longer period of time. So you could qualify for a higher mortgage amount than you originally anticipated. Or you could qualify for your mortgage sooner than you had planned. Either way, you end up in your dream home sooner than you thought possible.

Get your dream home sooner with a longer amortization. Regular payments are less with a longer amortization.

Again, this option is not for everyone. While a longer amortization period will appeal to many people because the regular mortgage payments can be comparable or even lower than paying rent, it does mean that more interest will be paid over the life of the mortgage. The chart below will help you to see differences between longer and standard amortization periods.

Compare the difference* : Five-year fixed-rate closed mortgage

You have the flexibility to shorten your amortization period. Regardless of which amortization period you select when you originally apply for your mortgage, it does not mean you have to stay with that period throughout the life of your mortgage. You can always choose to shorten the amortization period and save on interest costs by choosing an accelerated payment option, making extra payments when you can, such as a Double Up®** or an annual lump sum principal prepayment.

You should review your options at each renewal to shorten your amortization and pay off your mortgage faster.

It also makes good financial sense for clients to re-evaluate their amortization strategy every time their mortgage comes up for renewal. Then, as you advance in your career and begin to earn a better salary over time, you can simply increase the amount of your regular payments by as much as 10% once each year. All these prepayment features will take years off your amortization period, and save you money on interest.

Compare Interest Costs








For more information about mortgages, speak to Shawn Kimber, an RBC Mobile Mortgage Specialist


Bank of Canada signals low rates for longer

Cdn Mortgage Rates

The Bank of Canada announced on July 16th, 2014 that it was keeping its trend-setting overnight lending rate at 1 per cent.


The overnight rate has not moved in almost four years, and the Bank’s July announcement and accompanying Monetary Policy Report (MPR) suggest the most likely scenario right now is that the overnight rate will remain parked where it is for at least another year and a half.


That said, the Bank made clear that it was “neutral” with respect to not only the timing but also the direction of any future change to the policy rate. The Bank is taking a wait and see approach at this point, saying that any future moves “will depend on how new information influences the outlook and assessment of risks.”


With inflation having “moved up to the 2 per cent target in recent months, sooner than expected,” talk of a rate cut has all but gone away; however, the Bank attributes the recent rise in inflation to temporary effects, specifically higher energy prices, a lower Canadian dollar, and other sector-specific shocks rather than to any change in domestic economic fundamentals.


As such, headline inflation is expected to continue to bounce around in the 2 per cent range over the next two years, while under the surface there will be a symmetrical unwinding as the temporary effects currently pushing it up gradually fade away and the economic fundamentals currently holding it down, namely slack in the economy and elevated retail competition, also become less of a factor.


The Bank noted that global economic growth has been on a lower track than was forecast in the April MPR, and the forecast for global growth has been lowered accordingly, specifically this year but also for next year. The forecast for Canadian economic growth has likewise been trimmed from the 2 ½ per cent range this year and next to 2 ¼ per cent on average this year and next and into 2016 as well.


As a result, the economy is now not expected to get back to full capacity until mid-2016 compared to the April MPR’s prediction of early 2016. As such, bets on when the first interest rate hike could come will likely be pushed from mid-2015 to later in the year and possibly even into early 2016. The bottom line is, once again, interest rates will be lower for longer.


The Bank still expects that “the lower Canadian dollar and a projected strengthening in global demand will lead to a pickup in Canadian exports and business investment and, eventually, a more sustainable growth track,” although this may take a little longer than expected to materialize with the Canadian dollar having recently popped back up a bit and the forecast for global growth, and particularly growth in the U.S., having been downgraded.


The Bank also re-iterated that “household imbalances continue to evolve constructively and recent data are broadly consistent with a soft landing in Canada’s housing market.”


As of July 16th, 2014, the advertised five-year lending rate stood at 4.79 per cent, unchanged from the previous Bank rate announcement on June 4th, 2014 and down 0.35 percentage points from the same time one year ago.


The next interest rate announcement will be on September 3rd, 2014.


(CREA 7/16/2014)

Does Your Home Have Curb Appeal?

curb appeal

Drive Up Your Curb Appeal

Is your home’s first impression being hindered by a bland driveway, or an eyesore of a walkway? If so, it might be time to kick start your curb appeal with a few upgrades.  From repairing to repaving, a little attention to your home’s entryway can go a long way when it comes to wowing visitors, not to mention potential home buyers.

Revitalize with Repairs
The easiest way to enhance your walkway and driveway is with some simple repairs and resurfacing.  Repair cracks with rubberized asphalt crack filler or pourable grout.  When dry, pour water over the surface to ensure it is angled in such a way that the water runs off, as standing water is the most common cause of cracks. Once complete, coat with an appropriate sealer and your driveway will look like new again.

Pave the Way to Wow

An asphalt driveway is relatively inexpensive and is less prone to cracks and heaving than concrete.  Add eye-appeal to an asphalt driveway by lining it with a row of trees, shrubs or other greenery, or by adding a decorative lamp post for aesthetic appeal day and night..  Alternatively, a brick or cobblestone driveway costs more, but can add a lot of elegance to your home’s entryway.

Go for Gravel

If paving isn’t in your plans, adding crushed gravel to a dirt driveway is always an option.  Gravel is great for bringing definition to your driveway, especially if you change its contour by adding an inviting curve.  For a more formal appearance consider coloured gravel: blue-grey, red or white.  Edge a small stone gravel driveway with bricks for a finished look.

Talk with Your Walkway
If the entryway to your front door could speak, it should say “welcome”.  Transform it with stained or stamped concrete pavers, stone, flagstones or brick.  A curved walkway provides a natural, meandering feeling while a straight one is more directional. Embellish a short straight walkway with a row of bricks or pavers on either side and soften with groundcover overflowing the edges or line with low lying, attractive plants.

Neat and Tidy Gets Noticed
No room for a driveway or walkway renovation in your budget? Keep things looking good by removing unsightly weeds.  Trim grass edges for a neat, cared-for appearance.  A couple of large pots, overflowing with bright flowers leading up to your front door creates a pleasing, welcoming feature.

Curb appeal is paramount for showcasing not only your property’s individuality, but to tell prospective buyers that your home is as well-maintained inside as it is outside.

Bank of Canada holds interest rates steady

The Bank of Canada announced on April 16th, 2014 that it was keeping its trend-setting overnight lending rate at 1 per cent, where it has been parked since September 2010. The Bank also published its latest quarterly Monetary Policy Report and updated its economic growth and inflation forecasts.

The Bank’s global economic growth outlook remains upbeat despite softer readings in recent months that it attributes to “unusual weather” in the United States earlier in 2014. The Bank still expects that investment and exports will outshine consumer spending as the main driver of Canadian economic growth as the United States economic recovery gains momentum.

While the Bank raised its inflation forecast, it expects the increase to be temporary and made it clear that it would not react by raising rates sooner than previously anticipated.

The Bank identified a weaker than expected upturn in exports as being the most significant domestic risk to its inflation outlook. It also repeated its concerns about Canadian household indebtedness while indicating that a soft landing in the Canadian housing market and a stabilization of debt-to-income ratios continue to unfold in line with its expectations.

On balance, the Bank is of the view that interest rates should remain where they are and it will continue to monitor economic and inflation data closely to determine the direction of future policies. Canadian private sector forecasters widely believe that the Bank of Canada will not begin raising the overnight lending rate until well into 2015.

As of April 16th, 2014, the advertised five-year lending rate stood at 4.99 per cent, down from 5.24 per cent at the previous Bank rate announcement on March 5th, 2014.

The next interest rate announcement will be on June 4th, 2014. The next update to the Monetary Policy Report will be on July 16th, 2014.

(CREA 4/16/2014)

The information contained in this report has been prepared by
The Canadian Real Estate Association, in co-operation with the Kingston and Area Real Estate Association.
The information has been drawn from sources deemed to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness of the information is not guaranteed.
In providing this information, neither The Canadian Real Estate Association nor
the Kingston and Area Real Estate Association assumes any responsibility or liability.
Copyright © 2014 The Canadian Real Estate Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without written permission.

A Guide to Roofing Improvement. Repair? Replace? ROI?

Your roof has a tough life.  Just when it’s survived another long, cold Canadian winter, it faces the heat and humidity of the summer months ahead.  That’s why spring is the perfect time to assess the state of your roof, and to decide whether you need to take steps to improve its condition.  Here is a general guideline of where to begin:

Look for Proof of a Faulty Roof
No matter how old or new your roof is, it’s always a good idea to conduct quarterly inspections of its condition.  Start with the interior walls of your home that touch the roof and look for things like flaking paint, ceiling stains, and peeling wallpaper. All of these may be an indication that your roof has a leak.

On your roof itself, symptoms of deterioration can include missing shingles, visible fiberglass threads, raised shingles with nails protruding, or any areas that look darker or a different shade.  Check the roof deck in your attic as well, noting any water stains, rotting, and pinholes of light. If you are uncertain, you can always hire a roofing professional to do an assessment for you.

Two Options: Repair or Replace
If you’ve discovered signs that your roof may be damaged or leaking, first determine if it’s repairable.  A roofing professional may be best able to determine this. If it’s less than ten years old and only has a few minor issues, the remedy may simply require a little patchwork.

Sometimes a simple repair won’t suffice, and you need to consider replacing your roof altogether.  A professional roofer can determine the state and age of your roof to help you decide if you want to replace it.  As a general rule, if your roof is older than 15 years or showing significant signs of decay they’ll likely recommend that you replace it.  A moderately sized, professionally-installed roofing job will usually take about three to five days to complete. Select a roofing system design and colour that is in keeping with the neighbourhood standard and the colour scheme of your home.

Reap the ROI
If it’s time to replace your roof, you should consider what the return on investment will be.
The most common type of roofing system is the asphalt shingle, where you’ll pay on average between $2.50- $3.50 per square foot*.  If and when you sell your home down the road, you can expect to recoup an estimated 25-75% of your roofing investment*.

Replacing your roof can also add a lot of curb appeal to your home.  A new roof gives your home a mini-makeover, making it look more modern and up-to-date – not to mention safer and more energy efficient.  To make the most of your investment, be sure to maintain and inspect it on a regular basis.

*The Appraisal Institute of Canada, 2011:

Who is your favourite realtor?

This is not a trick question!

I’d like to find out who you would recommend as a realtor anywhere in Canada.  We often get clients selling their homes and leaving Kingston and area.  They don’t know who they would use once they get to their new destination.  I’d like to offer them names of realtors that you know and trust!!


Tell me what you liked most about them and what was their best attribute!


Your help is greatly appreciated!  You can include them in the comments below or email me.  Please include their name, company, city!