Getting your home ready to sell- Home Staging


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If you’re thinking about selling your home now- or in the near future, Home Staging is a real estate term you’ll want to know more about. Home Staging is about presenting your home to appeal to the broadest range of potential purchasers. Staging your home is not about decorating, decorating is about making the home comfortable for you. Staging a home is about merchandising a property.

Why is staging so important?

Staged homes show better in photos. In today’s market place most potential buyers will look at photos of your property online as part of narrowing down the list of house they’ll actually visit with their agent.

Staged homes attract more potential purchasers and generally sell faster – and for more money- than homes that are not staged.

Here is some advice from Home Staging Experts.- First concentrate on the 3 C’s.

Clean. You want your home really, really clean ; walls, doors, flooring, carpets, baseboards & trim, drapery, light fixtures, appliances- everything in your home should sparkle! Pay particular attention to kitchens and baths. If cleaning is not your forte, consider hiring a professional cleaner to deep clean your home from top to bottom.

Clutter-free. This can’t be stressed enough! You’ll be moving soon so now is the time to pack up all knick-knacks, family photos, collections, out of season clothing, footwear and sports gear. Work your way through each room in your home- including cupboards, closets, even the pantry. Every counter top, dresser and table surface should be clear. Cupboards and closets ; neat and organized. Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Consider removing and storing excess furniture from all rooms in your home. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the rooms’ purpose. Rooms will appear larger and there will be ample space for buyers to move around as they look at your home. This is also a good time to deal with any item(s) you may want to take with you ie: the chandelier in the dining room that belonged to your great grandmother- pack up these items and replace as necessary.

Colour. Your goal is to create a blank canvas- one in which potential purchasers can imagine their furnishings, their decor, their family. Walls, doors and trim should be neutral in colour. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour scheme will unify the house as well as making spaces look larger. If you’re unsure which neutral colour will show best with your furnishings and flooring , get advice. Now it’s time to walk through your home and take a look at it through the critical eye of a buyer. Buyers notice details, missing trim, loose doorknobs, dripping faucets, stains on ceilings, cracked switch plates. Make a list of all these minor flaws, then fix them! Keep in mind that when a potential buyer sees areas of disrepair they begin to assume that there are other unseen problems as well.

Define Rooms.

If your dining room is serving double -duty as your home office, you’ll need to redefine it. If you don’t, potential buyers will get the impression that the house isn’t big enough. Ditto for spare bedrooms that have been converted to sewing room or yoga studios. Bedrooms count- it will cost you a sale if a buyer counts one less.

Light it up!

You want each home in home to be as light and bright as possible. Clean every light fixture, assure the bulbs are the maximum wattage safe for fixture. Clean all windows, inside and out- open drapery and blinds so that natural light streams in.


Nothing turns off a prospective buyer more than bad smell. Have a friend or neighbour help you identify any bad smell. Common culprits: smoking, laundry and bathroom mould or mildew, garbage cans, litter boxes, pet beds, musty basement, strong cooking smells. Don’t attempt to mask bad smells with air fresheners or deodorisers- rid your home of the source of the odour.

Is It Better To Rent Or Buy?


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We came across a great article in the New York Times about the choice between renting or buying……..very educational as it lays out the costs between both home ownership and renting after several years.

Here is the link:

Buyers Help- Purchase Plus Improvements


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123 Quite often we show buyers properties that fit what they are looking for but are in dire need of some maintenance or updating. The concern is that renovations and improvements will have to be paid for out of pocket or on credit afterwards – which most people don’t have readily available. So, the ideal home is passed over as the buyers are hoping that another home will be available without needing the updates. Most will settle for a home with the less work but not always in the ideal location.

So this is a great solution:

Mortgage insurers Genworth and CMHC offer a unique solution to this dilemma with their “Purchase-Plus Improvements” Mortgage option. This product allows most banks to provide a Mortgage to clients to move in on their Purchase Contract Closing Date and occupy the property while renovations are completed by a qualified Contractor. This means no out of pocket expenses. Renovations can include anything from window installation, interior painting, finish carpentry, flooring modifications and exterior landscaping.

After the improvements have been completed and inspected by an appraiser, the renovation invoice is paid to the Contractor. This invoice sum is added onto the original Mortgage amount and remains under the same interest rate as the Purchase price. Most importantly, this Mortgage option allows buyers to re-work their new living space while adding significant value to their home.

For additional information on the Purchase-Plus Improvements program or for information on Improvement Mortgages for existing homeowners, please contact us…….

Happy Buying!

Don and Diana


Home Improvements – Five Poor Choices to Get Bank for Your Buck


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Whenever one of our clients is considering a major home improvement project, it’s natural to wonder how their efforts might impact the resale value of their home. We often get asked this question and thought it would be interesting to offer some insights.

Many home improvements are indeed good investments because they increase the value of your home which helps you to recoup some of your investment when it’s time to sell.

The projects most likely to pay back their investment cost include: remodeling the kitchen, converting an attic into a bedroom, adding a deck and installing exterior siding and replacement windows.

However, other projects are notoriously poor at return on investment.  Five of the worst home improvement projects when it comes to being an investment that pays back, include: swimming pools, home offices, sun rooms, master suites and garage expansions. Have a look at the infographic below for some interesting stats.

Happy Remodeling!

Don & Diana

Poor Home-Improvment-Ideas

The original infographic {above} was sourced from:

Make Your Home Allergy-Proof



This is a topic that we’ve seen generate a fair amount of re-tweets on our Twitter feed so we thought it would be worthwhile to post a separate blog. It is estimated that over half of all Canadians test positive for at least some allergens according to recent nationwide surveys. Many of these allergens are found indoors and include dust, mold and pet dander.

In this blog we’ll suggest some excellent sources providing in-depth ways in which to allergy-proof your home. These techniques may not completely eliminate all of the allergens but should go a long way to help reduce your symptoms.

Alergy Free HomeHere are 7 simple steps to get you started:

  1. Keep it Cool and Dry:   Keeping your home cool and dry will decrease dust mite growth and mold. Studies have shown that dust mites and other allergens dropped significantly in houses where the relative humidity was kept below 50%.
  2. Vacuum Often: This is especially important if you have wall-to-wall carpeting. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to trap more of the carpet allergens.
  3. Dust Often: Clean hard surfaces and shiny floors every week with treated dust rags, damp mops or damp rags. Don’t use a feather duster or dry cloth because they will just spread the allergens in the dust back into the air.
  4. Eliminate Smoking: Second hand smoke can trigger an asthma attack and aggravate symptoms in people with allergies.
  5. Ventilate: Open your doors and windows and use any attic fans to air out your house. This will help blow away allergens but be sure to keep the indoor humidity below 50%.
  6. Eliminate Wet Objects: If any carpeting gets wet (flood or a burst pipe) then you must thoroughly dry and clean it within 24 hours otherwise mold is likely to set in. Throw out any stuffed toys, ceiling tiles, upholstered furniture or even drapes if they get wet and you can’t be immediately dried and cleaned.
  7. Keep Filters Clean: Be sure to regularly clean or replace the filters on your furnace and air conditioners.

Following is a suggested checklist for weekly maintenance:

Weekly Checklist

  • Vacuum using a HEPA filter
  • Wipe window shades and/or wash the curtains
  • Dust all flat surfaces, from tabletops to floors, with a damp cloth or mop
  • Launder your sheets and pillowcases in 130 degrees F water
  • Clean your kitchen, wiping the stove top, counter top, and cupboards

Below is a very interesting Infographic called “Allergens in Your Home…that you don’t know about”. Some surprising facts!

Here’s to Breathing Easy!

Don & Diana

allergensCredit: The original infographic can be found at:

Other Sources to Explore that we used to gather this research:

How to Pick Colours When Painting Your Home

With Spring comes not only the usual list of cleaning chores, but also the desire to freshen up your home with a splash of colour. We thought this would be a timely topic so we began researching the best tips on how to select colours for your home and understanding how different colours relate to one another.

We found this great Infographic {below} that was designed by the good people from Home Depot.  It’s an excellent guide to colour theory and using a colour wheel when painting your home.

Some of the key colour tips worth noting include:

  • Pick your paint colour last – It’s easier to match a paint colour to artwork or a rug than to try to match those items to walls that are already painted
  • Small spaces create a big impactTry painting a small space, such as a powder room. Lots of colour in a small space can create a major impact
  • One colour hue A foolproof way to create a lovely look is to choose one colour and then use it in many different hues. The variations within the same colour will create a rich look

We hope you’ll find this to a very useful tool the next time you’re ready to pick up a roller or paintbrush!

Happy painting!

Don & Diana

choosing colours when painting your home

tips on choosing colours when painting your home


Credit: The original infographic can be found at:

Spring Maintenance Tips



Well it feels like Spring has finally arrived…long overdue for most of us but we’re delighted it’s here! We are reminded of this wonderful quote from Ernest Hemingway in which he said:

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
~ Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

And of course, with Spring come the inevitable tasks of Spring cleaning! For us it certainly beats sub zero temperatures and shoveling snow!

Spring Cleaning Tips On that note, we wanted to share this handy little infographic aptly titled “The Homeowners Guide to Getting in the Spring Swing of Things“.  We found it to be a very practical checklist of the key home and car maintenance chores that should be attended to now that the weather is warming up. We hope that you find it useful too.

Watch for more tips in our upcoming blog posts.

Happy Spring everyone!

Don & Diana

Spring home and auto maintenance Credit: This infographic is courtesy of the good folks at Beringstar Insurance. It was sourced from:

Oshawa Public Libraries Now Offer eBooks


The Public Library system in Oshawa has been serving our area for over 150 years and currently operates through the following four active branches:

  1. McLaughlin Branch – 65 Bagot Street
  2. Northview Branch – 250 Beatrice Street
  3. Jess Hann Branch – 199 Wentworth Street W.
  4. Legends Centre Branch – 1661 Harmony Road N.

We’re all familiar with the traditional library system for books but did you know that the library now offers you access to eBooks and eAudiobooks for download to your eReader, tablet, or phone? You’ll be able to find a large recreational reading collection with plenty of books for adults, teens and children alike.

ebooks from Oshawa library

The titles are categorized under six main headings:

  • Featured Collections
  • eBook Fiction
  • eBook Nonfiction
  • Audiobook Fiction
  • Audiobook Nonfiction
  • Kids & Teens

You can view the collection of eBooks online by following this link:

eBook Collection

Here’s a handy guide that will show you how to use your particular device to read library eBooks:

Download Guide

It’s a brave new digital world…happy reading!

Don & Diana

Waste Collection in Oshawa


Even as longtime residents of Oshawa we sometimes need a reminder when it comes to our weekly residential waste collection rules and timetables. We felt that it would be worth doing a short blog post to quickly summarize the process and offer sources for more information.

In Oshawa, the collection of the green bin and blue box occurs weekly on your regular collection day, while garbage is collected bi-weekly.  Yard waste is collected seasonally from April to December while collections of large garbage must be arranged by calling Service Oshawa {905.436.3311} at least two business days prior to your garbage collection day.

During holiday seasons, collection of waste occurs one day later following a holiday.

oshawa waste collection
The Waste Collection By-law  states that materials must not be placed at the curb before 6 pm the night before collection and no later than 7 am on  the day of collection

We found this handy summary of Common Mistakes that residents make which may prevent their waste from being collected. It can be found here:  Common Set Out Mistakes

Durham region also has a special curbside battery recycling program with two annual collections in the Spring and Fall. The 2014 collection dates for dead batteries are:
•    April 21 to 25, 2014 – on your regular blue box collection day
•    November 3 to 7, 2014 – on your regular blue box collection day

For more details and complete contact information check out:

Enjoy Spring now that it’s finally here!

Don & Diana

Durham Shoestring Performers – 40 Years of Accessible Theatre


Durham Shoestring Performers {DSP} celebrate their 40th season this year. They perform at the Arts Resource Centre at 45 Queen St. behind Oshawa City Hall.

Their 105 seat “fishbowl” venue affords a powerful theatrical experience for audiences, with no seat more than 6 metres from the stage. They choose plays that suit this close contact well.

Although they place a heavy emphasis on performing Canadian material, DSP also brings to Oshawa many provocative plays from American and British theatre.

DSP has produced premiere performances of work by local playwrights, including Brad Carson’s The Undiscovered Country, Diamond Vision by Llewellyn Jones, Waltzing with Lunacy by Ken Bond and Doug Craven’s Wooden Milk.

Past seasons saw Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine, an hilarious but pointed look at a century of sexual politics, Falsettos by William Finn and James Lapine, a musical about love in the age of A.I.D.S. and The Kiss of the Spider Woman.

DSP offers an affordable pleasure for the adventurous theatre-goer. It’s a must see!

To find out more or to get tickets visit their website at: or call 905-725-9256


Don & Diana