Thinking of a Home Renovation?




Yeah, yeah - you've heard it all before.  Kitchen and bathroom renos yield the most return.  That's why you didn't install the skylight or the pool.


But there’s more to it than that.


Fixer-Upper Obsessed


We've seen the shows (like Property Brothers, Love It Or List It etc.) and we are obsessed with renovating, but there is so much more to consider before you start ripping out walls:


  • The expense for the project must be relative to the price of your home (for instance, a $30,000 improvement doesn’t belong in a $100,000 property).
  • The projects you undertake mustn't differentiate your home from other homes in the neighborhood too drastically (for instance installing large ornate driveway gates when every other home on the street is modest).  Your home will end up being "that" house without increasing the overall value.
  • This is important so read it carefully or twice to get it -- You will recover a higher return from renovations if the pre-reno value of your home is below the neighborhood average; those same renovations will yield significantly less if the value of your home already exceeds the average.  Now read that sentence again.....
  • Renos that should have been done years ago and are part of regular routine maintenance are not considered to add any particular value but will certainly DECREASE the value if they are not done.  When your roof needs a repair, repair it!  Don't expect a higher sale price --- buyers will expect a half decent roof.   Even though you may not recover the actual cost, you probably will get an offer sooner than if it wasn't done.

  • Stick to your plan and don’t get too consumed with the idea of transforming your home from top to bottom. Take it one project at a time and always keep the cost-to-value ratio in mind. 

As always, if you're not sure which reno project is best for resale, please call me for a no-obligation consultation.  No two homes are alike and each neighbourhood is different, so let's get together and talk about YOUR personal plans. - Susan :)







  1. Contrary to popular belief, the “spring market” in Toronto starts in February (or maybe even January by the looks of things so far). Some of the fiercest bidding wars in the city are fought on our coldest days. The Buyers are ready in February (and want to close “in the spring”), but the Sellers all think they should wait until April or May – which of course is when EVERYONE decides to list their houses for sale. More inventory in the real spring means less competition – not good if you’re a Seller.
  2. Buyers who don their winter boots, toques and mittens to go house hunting are serious. They aren’t just looky-loos or nosy neighbours. They are motivated and ready to make a move.
  3. Relocation happens all year, and January is the biggest month for relocations. Is it because companies have new budgets and business plans? Or maybe companies want to introduce their employees to the worst of Toronto weather. No matter the reason, the relocating Buyer is motivated and can make a quick decision.
  4. If you’ve got a fireplace and cozy living room or a boring backyard your house might actually look better in the winter. Furry blankets on the coach and softly scented candles might just create the ideal atmosphere for Buyers.
  5. New Year, New You. Many of us (me included) look at the arrival of January as a time of new beginnings. So in between visits to the gym and eating healthy food, a new home purchase might be just the thing to ring in a new year. And if you’ve been meaning to downsize or move to a different neighbourhood, this might be your opportunity for a new beginning too!
  6. If you’ve invested in making your home energy efficient, winter is the perfect time to show that energy efficiency off. Potential Buyers who live in drafty houses and cringe when the gas bill arrives will undoubtedly welcome a high-efficiency furnace, new windows and attic insulation.
  7. Fewer properties on the market means it’s easier for the marketing for your home to stand out. If you’re one of only a few houses on the market in your neighbourhood, you’ll undoubtedly get more people at open houses too. We always notice an increase in traffic to our website in the cold months-shouldn’t those Buyers be seeing your home?
  8. Curb appeal matters, and turning on twinkly lights is so much easier than weeding your gardenevery day! Of course you’ll need to shovel and use generous amounts of snow melter, but isn’t that better than mowing the lawn everyday?
  9. Fewer showings. I know, that sounds counter-productive, but do you really want 100 people traipsing through your house? I’d rather have 30 qualified and motivated Buyers anyday.
  10. Money, money, money! The highest sold price to listing price ratios always happen in the cold months in Toronto. I don’t think I’ve ever worked a February in real estate where I didn’t want to sell my own house.

If you are thinking about selling and want to find out what your home is worth or want to discuss the pros and cons of listing your home in the winter, get in touch. It’s never too early to start planning for your sale!

5 Reasons to Buy a House Right Now

Buying a house is a highly individual decision, but current trends are creating a favorable situation for many would-be homeowners.

Interest rates are low, inventory is rising, home prices are ever-rising, and rents are through the roof.  

Five Compelling Reasons to Buy a House Right Now

1. Interest Rates Are Still Low

A fixed rate mortgage now averages about 3% and variable rates are even lower.  Do the math with any mortgage calculator you can find online or on my website  Use that as a guideline only because you may be able to negotiate even better rates.  

Then compare what you are paying your landlord in rent vs paying yourself.

Then make an appointment with your bank or mortgage broker and see if you qualify.  There's no obligation and you'll know for sure where you stand.

2. There’s More Inventory

During the spring, there's not a lot of homes available.  The principal of supply and demand prevails so there are bidding wars and people seem to lose their minds.  This is known as a Seller's Market.  

Right now, there are more homes available and typically after summer holidays even more will be coming up for sale - hence the market typically shifts to favour the buyer (known as a "Buyer's Market").  This is when you want to act.

3. Home Prices Are Going Up

It's no secret, it's all in the news.  Home prices are constantly rising and are out-pacing a typical person's ability to save.  A home in the $350,000 range last year, is probably now closer to $400,000.  Did you save an additional $50,000 last year to be able to afford the same house?

If you don't get into the market now, then when?  

4. Rents Are Sky-High

Sometimes you just have to rent...maybe you just moved out on your own or you're going through some sort of transition period.  But rents are high!  If you are renting, the landlord can charge you the most they can get.  Only the year to year increases are regulated if you stay there.  

Secondly, you are paying your landlord's mortgage for them.  By buying your own place, you are building your own financial security -- not your landlord's.

5. Employment on the Rise

Perhaps nothing is as important to the financial stability you need to buy a home as steady employment. 

If your employment situation is in good shape and the other four factors check out, then it may indeed be the right time for you to buy a home of your own.


And when you're ready, give me a call smiley

Appliances and Light Fixtures - What Stays With My Purchase?

I’m looking to buy a house and I’ve heard that sometimes not all of the appliances and light fixtures are included in the sale. How do I know what stays and what goes?

Posted in Tips and Tricks

As you walk through an open house, gleaming stainless steel appliances and trendy light fixtures may catch your eye. But it’s possible that the seller plans on taking these items to their new home.

Buyers can be in for a costly surprise if they find out that the appliances, closet organizers, water heater, alarm system or other items they thought were part of the home are actually not included. For example, when I bought my current home about ten years ago, the seller wanted to keep all the wall sconces. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but when we moved in, we realized there were about a dozen of them in the home. We had a lot of empty electrical boxes to fill!

Failing to consider which items will be included with the sale of the home is one of the most common mistakes we see home buyers make. While it can be easy to get excited about a home and forget about the fine print, it’s important to take the right steps to ensure you know what you’re buying.   

Take advantage of the expertise and guidance that your registered real estate professional can offer. When you’re ready to make an offer, ask your salesperson or broker to include written terms to clearly identify what is included or excluded with the purchase. Be specific and have descriptions of the items in question.

Keep in mind, what’s included is often negotiable. A seller might consider including an item in the sale that they had originally planned on bringing to their new home. It never hurts to ask.

If a seller is intent on excluding an item from the sale, such as a light fixture with sentimental value, you can ask them to include a replacement fixture with the sale. Something I wish I had done.

Additionally, you’ll want to confirm whether there are any rental or lease agreements in place for things like the water heater, furnace or alarm system. Have your real estate professional find out the monthly payments, the remaining term of the lease, and the cost to terminate or buy out the agreement. You should also include a clause in your offer stating whether or not you will assume those contracts. You don’t want to end up being on the hook for monthly payments for services you aren’t interested in keeping.

Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make, so ensure you have a clear understanding of what will or won’t work for you. Are you willing to invest in new appliances if your desired property doesn’t include them, or is that a deal-breaker? Communicate this information to your registered real estate professional so they can help guide you to properties that will meet your needs.

Also, be sure to consider the costs of any items that are excluded from the sale. While new light fixtures or window coverings may seem like relatively small purchases, believe me, they can add up when you consider how many of each are found throughout the home.

As I’ve said many times before, taking the time to make an informed decision when buying a home will go a long way in ensuring that you have a positive experience.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. 




Will it be:

  • condo
  • townhouse, or 
  • detached single family?

Will it be a:

  • typical resale
  • power of sale
  • estate sale, or
  • private sale?


Condo Units:  There are lots of opportunities to renovate old condos, and this type might be good for a first-timer.  Update the kitchen, bathroom and flooring IF YOUR RESEARCH PROVES THIS IS ADVANTAGEOUS.  Keep in mind, some renos may need permission from the condo board.  And remember those pesky condo fees -- these must be paid while you're working on the project in addition to your other bills.


Townhomes:  Whether freehold or condo, towns are generally not as regulated as units in a condo building as far as what you can update or change.  Therefore, there may be added opportunity here to "improve" the property even more by finishing the basement, adding a bathroom, or a deck for instance.


Single Detached Homes:  The sky's the limit here for both interior and exterior renos...after the proper research and permits of course.


Type of Sale is a big topic so I'll try to encapsulate just some salient points here:  

"Normal" Resale:  This typically will be priced according to the shape it is in and prevailing market conditions.   If it has been on the market for a while, the market is "down", or if it's in really bad condition there will be some wiggle room on the price.  Your registered real estate salesperson will be able to help you determine the best price to offer.


Power of Sale:  This is a home where the bank or finance company is the seller.  A "POS" seems like a logical choice to pick up a bargain.  However, nowadays (thanks to all the fix'n flip shows on TV) everyone is looking for the magical power of sale ready to be picked up for a song, making these very much in demand and in turn driving up the prices.  Add to this, the bank has an obligation to get as much as possible for their sale, so combined with their popularity, there often are bidding wars and they get snapped up quickly.  Foolishly or not, they are popular, so get a good realtor to stay on top of these and prepared to act fast!  Bring your contractor to see the home when one comes up and get ready to sign the offer right away.  Remember too that with a POS, what you see is what you get.  You cannot be assured that the plumbing, heating, electrical systems work or that the roof doesn't leak.  You may get lucky, but these types of sales are really for those people who know what they are doing.  I strongly suggest you get an experienced realtor when looking at these... there are rules the banks have to follow and strategies a seasoned real estate professional will know -- unfortunately the topic is too big to adddress fully here.


Estate and Private Sales:  These share a common thread... they are personal.  To the sellers of these types of properties, this will not be a business transaction but an emotional one.  You will need patience and a gentle touch.  Tread lightly here when negotiating with these sellers.


So... what type of home and type of sale would suit you?


I will discuss more steps in detail in the next few blogs.  Please stay tuned! smiley




  • Plan for when to buy
  • Is any of the reno dependant on the weather?
  • How long is the reno going to take?
  • Plan when to sell


Typically - and I only say typically - it is best to buy in the Fall/Winter.  The frenzy of the spring is over, people have moved during the summer, homes are staying on the market longer due to lack of buyers.

This gives you the fall and winter months to renovate.  You must plan ahead!  Are you doing any outside work?  That had better be done before the snow flies.  Inside renos can be done during the winter.

Have you left yourself enough or too much time?  Time is money!!  While you are renovating, you still have to pay for utilities, property taxes and the mortgage -- all while paying for the work itself.  Have you ordered all materials in plenty of time?  Have you lined up your contractors?  Have you allowed for unforeseen difficulties and delays?

We all know spring is the best time to sell.  The trick is to put it on the market EARLY EARLY in the spring when it is a seller's market and there is not much inventory.  If we have an early spring, it's going to be that much earlier.  Buyers come out as soon as weather allows -- will you be ready??


Continuing from Part 2, we are going to look in futher detail at all the things you must consider before choosing to flip a house:




Let's talk about the first point:  LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.  You've heard it before, but location is all important!!  




Pick an area where your completed home/project will SELL! And sell fast when it's ready to go -- TIME IS MONEY!  Look at established neighbourhoods where the history of sales is brisk.  Some farmhouse out in God's country will take a longer time to sell no matter how nice you make it.

Pick the worst house on a good street.  The worst houses are the best candidates, sure that's obvious - but pick a good street.  Bad neighbours will bring your house down in value, while your updated house will only bring theirs up.  Similarly, nice neighbourhood homes will help bring YOUR value up.  What I'm saying is, don't pick the worst house on a street full of bad houses.

Do not pick the largest house. The largest home is already probably worth more.  So with some renos, are you going to get the biggest return if the value is already higher than the neighbours?

Look at comparables of SOLDS -- not current listings.  Is there an upwards trend? Are renovated homes getting more than non-reno'd ones?  Here's where an experienced realtor can help.  I have access to sold statistics and can track the trends.  I can pull up comparables of homes with and without renos to see if the reno'd ones sell for more and by how much.


I will discuss more steps in detail in the next few blogs.  Please stay tuned! smiley


Recently I was asked to speak to a group about flipping houses.  Here's a few tips for you in the following blog series.  If you have any additional questions or discussion points, please feel free to contact me.  If you have any other topics you'd like to cover in a future blog, I'd be happy to review them smiley



It just doesn't happen like you see on TV, so stop it!  Even those make-your-basement-an-apartment shows are deceiving.  Do you ever do the MATH?  These people are spending $50,000 to make $800/month in rent.  It would take 62.5 months to break even!  That's over 5 years!! 


I will discuss the steps for a successful flip in detail in the next few blogs.  Please stay tuned! smiley