What Ontario's New Foreign Investment Tax Means.


Legally known as the Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST), this new tax is 15% on the purchase or acquisition of an interest in a Residential (only) property in the Greater Golden Horseshoe by individauls who aren't Canadian citizens or permanent Canadian residents. It is also applies to foreign corporations and taxable trustees. This NRST tax is in addition to the Ontario Land Transfer Tax. and, in Toronto, the Toronto Land Transfer Tax.  The legislation,is retroactive to April 21, 2017 however binding agreements of Purchase & Sale signed prior to April 21, 2017 are exempt.

This tax includes the purchase of single family residences, detached, semi-detached, townhouses and condominium units, duplexes, triplexes, fiveplexes and sixplexes. It does not pertain to multi-residential rental apartment buildings with over 6 units, agricultural, commerical or industrial land. 

Even if only one of the Buyers or Transferees is a Foreign entity, the NRST payable applies to 100% of the value of the consideraiton for the purchase or transfer. 

The NRST doesn't apply when a person purchases or acquires a residential property as a 'Trustee' of a mutual fund trust, real estate investment trust or specified investment flow-through trust.


The NRST can be exempt to a foreign national who receives confirmation under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, as long as they are confirmed under the program at the time of the purchase or acquisition. It can also be exempt for those who are conferred with the status of "Convention Refugee" or "Person In Need Of Protection" (Refugee).  Another exemption can be if a foreign national has a spouse who is a Canadian citizen, permanent Canadian resident or a 'nominee' or 'refugee'. However the exemption doesn't apply if there are more than the foreign national and the spouse on title. 


A  Rebate can occur if:

  •  within 4 years of the date of purchase/acquisition the foreign national becomes a Canadian citizen or permanent Canadian resident or
  • the foreign national is a full time student for at least the last 2 years from the date of purchase/acquisition in an 'approved institution' as per the Ministry of training, Colleges and Universities or
  • the foreign national has legally worked full time in Ontario continuously for 1 year since the date of purchase/acquisition.    

To be eligible, the foreign national must hold property ONLY with his/her spouse and be used as their principal residence for the time period. 

To read more please visit:  http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/builletins/nrst/nrst.html


Inventory Up, But Sales Down. Yet Prices Are Still Increasing.

Toronto's 2017 May/June market is very interesting: "Inventory" for sale is up (as is every spring); "sales" are down (more for buyers to choose from) yet prices have still increased year over year. There's no real reason for the slowdown in the number of properties sold. It's a 'healthy adjustment that isn't triggered by anything'. The interest rate hasn't changed/increased, and we're not in a recession. So the question is "Why?"

Home sales in Toronto dropped to 10,196 in May, down 20.3 per cent from last year with detached home sales leading the decline at 26.3 per cent.

However, supply for sale, saw a 42.9 per cent jump from 2016. Condo inventory though was lower year-over-year, and remains tight. .

“Home buyers definitely benefitted from a better supplied market in May, both in comparison to the same time last year and to the first four months of 2017,” said Toronto Real Estate Board president Larry Cerqua.

“However, even with the robust increase in active listings, inventory levels remain low. At the end of May, we had less than two months of inventory. This is why we continued to see very strong annual rates of price growth, albeit lower than the peak growth rates earlier this year,” he added.

CIBC chief economist Benjamin Tal indicates that market conditions were already changing before the introduction of Premier Wynn's Fair Housing Plan.

“I think that is exactly what the doctor prescribed – what we need is a slowdown that is not triggered by anything,” Mr. Tal told The Globe and Mail, adding that the adjustment is healthy. He added that there is not an interest rate spike or recession that could see a crash. 

According to TREB’s HPI benchmark index prices were up 29% year-over-year  The average selling price increased by 14 per cent across the whole area to $863,910.

Everyone is asking whether Wynn's Ontario Fair Housing Plan has had an impact on sales in Toronto. TREB’s director of market analysis Jason Mercer comments cautiously:

“The actual, or normalized, effect of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan remains to be seen. In the past, some housing policy changes have initially led to an overreaction on the part of homeowners and buyers, which later balanced out,” he says.

He adds that the jump in active listings appears to be homeowners taking advantage of higher prices, having delayed selling, perhaps because they still expected prices to rise.


You DO Need a Realtor When Buying Pre-Construction Condos & Homes !

Not having your own Real Estate Agent to perform due diligence could land you in a horrible situation and losing thousands of dollars.

You may have heard about two recent condo projects in downtown Toronto having been converted into ‘rentals’ with 181 innocent buyers of a  complex on King St. West, near Liberty Village, out as much as $40,000 each.  Another condo project,  “The Selby”, at Sherbourne and Bloor, abandoned their plans, as well.

As your Realtor, I look to discover information not disclosed or made available when you walk into a developer’s Open House Site Office promoting their brand new spectacular, out of this world, absolutely astounding new construction condo.  If, unfortunately, you don’t know the questions to ask, they’re not obliged to say anything. And more often than not, the sales people hired by the developer, to ‘sell’  have no clue either.  

I’ve represented many of my clients who are either buying new construction to live in or invest/flip out. With my indepth knowledge and many years of experience ,I delve into the deep corners of what’s really going on behind the scenes. I don’t want you to have the kind of experience these unsuspecting purchasers have had.

As one recent example, I accompanied my Clients to an exclusive luxury townhouse project they were interested in. As I always do, I asked the on-site Representative many questions. The answers I got, or rather didn't get, were concerning. The Developer's Representative could not give me definitive responses on anything. While my Buyers were excited about the prospect of what the house was going to 'look like', my professional intution told me to advise them to very wary. The deposit structure was out of proportion to what a fully funded project would require and, for 4 years, would tie up more of my Buyer's money than what should have been necessary. After we left, I explained my concerns, and I was grateful that they heeded my advice. Within 5 months, the project went under and was abandoned. The deposits of other unsuspecting Buyers, to date, has not been returned.   

If you’re thinking of taking a walk down ‘new construction aisle - whether condo or freehold", please call and let me help you - so you don't end up taking a negative & losing walk on the wild side.   

Did You Know There Are 2 Different Mortgage Pre-Approvals?

No, you haven’t read the title incorrectly. 

The phrase “Mortgage Pre-Approval” has 2 distinct, different meanings. I always want you to have a preliminary Mortgage Pre-Approval before we look for a residential home for you to purchase. This 1st type of pre-approval, is really a personal financial pre-approval (not on a specific property), based on your income, asset to debt ratio, credit history and report, amount of your anticipated down payment and other criteria. This kind of pre-approval is determined by your credit worthiness and how much of a mortgage the financial institution is willing to give you. And once all this is determined, only then can you know what interest rate you ‘qualify’ for. Plus, then we know how much we can actually spend to purchase a residential home: the total of the amount of the allowable mortgage plus the amount of your down payment. 

Securing this 1st Mortgage Pre-Approval for your purchase gives you a 90 day locked-in mortgage rate. If mortgage rates go down, you'll receive the benefit of the lower rate. If mortgage rates increase, your rate will remain the same as your already approved rate. Your mortgage rate won't go up during the 90 day locked-in period. If you want to purchase a home within the next 90 days, and with mortgage rates having just come down, NOW is the time to get your pre-approval and lock-it in. You can initiate discussions with your own financial institution which may or may not offer you the lowest interest rate out there or you can work with one of my trusted Mortgage Brokers who actually has the financial institutions/banks bid for your individual business with the lowest possible mortgage rate available. This 1st Mortgage Pre-Approval is the initial major step towards buying a home or we could be out there blindly looking at real estate properties that are too expensive for us. Or perhaps we have greater buying power than we thought we did. Of course, we don't have to spend the highest amount you're approved for - I always want to find you the most real estate value for the least amount of money. But, the way prices are so high right now, we have to figure out what's really financially in your comfort zone. It's not 'just' a mortgage payment you're committing to, we need to take into account your land transfer fees, moving costs, legal costs plus ongoing home maintenance, property taxes, and utility costs to name a few.

Now for the 2nd Mortgage Pre-Approval. This is approval for a specific property and takes place when you’ve found the residential home you want to purchase, we've made the offer and it’s been accepted by the Seller. Whenever possible, for your benefit, I include a Financing Condition in our Offer. This condition states that we have a certain number of days (usually 3 or 4) to ensure that we can get the required amount of mortgage for the particular home that we've just purchased. During these 3 or 4 days, your financial institution will (most of the time) conduct an appraisal of the home you’ve just bought, to ensure that it’s really worth what we’ve agreed to pay for it.  And in all years as a Realtor I've  never had a financial institution tell one of our clients that the residential home they’ve just purchased isn’t worth the amount they’re spending. Why, you ask? It’s because I am absolutely diligent in advising you if you’re offering more than the property is truly worth.  I always want that appraisal to agree with our purchase price.  Once the bank appraisal has come back with a positive report that, indeed, at this purchase price, you will get the mortgage you were approved for in the 1st Mortgage Pre-Approval, we can waive the financing condition towards firming up the purchase of your new home.

One phrase:  “Mortgage Pre-Approval” – 2 different meanings/scenarios. If you’d like even more of a detailed explanation or further information just give me a call. I'm always happy to share, with you, as much information as I can. And no real estate question is too small or too large!

Can You Afford To Be "The Bank of Mom and Dad?"

Many parents are helping their adult children buy their first homes. However it’s important that parents think carefully about their own future needs, before opening the doors to the “the Bank of Mom and Dad,”.

First time home buyers are usually between 25 and 34, and the most usual type of assistance from their parents, is adding to (topping-up)  the down payment. Mortgage insurance has become a lot more expensive so there is a lot of incentive to get past that 20% down payment. Anything less than 20% results in more than an 80% mortgage which is subject to mortgage insurance on top of the mortgage itself. For some parents its easily affordable but for others it poses a challenge to come up with this.  But it shouldn't be at the risk of using all the parent(s)' savings.

Some parents even consider going into debt to help their children into their first home but is this really practical? When it comes to families, many parents dont want to disappoint their children  - so it becomes an emotional decision  to leave a financial investment legacy to their children while they can live to enjoy it with them.  With the extremely high cost of housing, adult children often just can’t buy a home without some assistance, however it’s critical to balance this together with what their parents need.

There are other questions parents need to ask themselves before delving into the "Bank of Mom and Dad"  Will they outlive their money? What about inflation's impact? Do they have enough set aside to cover their own medical costs associated with debilitating health or long-term care? 


Parental financial help is often a gift but would it be better to structure it in the form of a loan in case there are unforeseen retirement costs?  If parents become truly comfortable, that they have enough life-time assets, they can always forgive the loan down the road. 

Despite the high prices, interest rates are so low that this is an encouragement for parents to assist their children. Today, half of a mortgage payment goes towards paying the interest and half goes towards the principal whereas not too many years ago it wasn't such an equal ratio in favour of that principal. 

When mixing family and money, emotions can run high, so it’s important to clearly define everything along with sage financial advice. Some parents are even selling investments or changing their own home ownership status to free up funds to help their children. Its crucial to figure out that this wont impact their own quality of life. Plus, homeownership comes with large financial responsibilities - are their children really ready for them?

Parents should always put terms and conditions in writing whether it’s a gift or a loan. It’s just wise protection for both sides of the investment. There can be more than one child in the family.  Or what will happen to their investment should there be a divorce or other unforeseen challenges?

Other considerations?  If a parent gives cash, is that gift an advance on that child’s inheritance? If its a loan, will that loan be forgiven on the parent(s) passing, or would it be deducted against what the child will receive from the estate?” These are very important answers to know ahead of time.

It’s wonderful when parents want to and can help their adult children purchase a home, however family discussions to disclose and review all this planning can save many financial misunderstandings and emotional heartache down the road.

Save Money: Pay Down Your Mortgage


Today’s interest rates are still at an all-time low, which gives you several great opportunities. For current homeowners, paying down mortgage debt is more beneficial than ever with the low interest rates we are continuing to enjoy.  My advice to homeowners is to take advantage of paying down 'the principal' of your mortgage, which can be up to 20% twice a year depending on how the mortgage is structured.  

Another option to consider is to refinance your current mortgage to take advantage of the current low interest climate. Sometimes paying the penalty to refinance an existing mortgage can be offset over the long term by refinancing and it actually saves you money. I recommend  reaping the monetary rewards earned by paying down principal mortgage debt or refinancing an existing mortgage.  I work closely with mortgage brokers who help keep my clients in the loop and updated about any opportunities as they arise or are on the horizon.

For those looking to break into the real estate market, now is the time to invest in a residential home or condo, especially if the predictions by the financial institutions and economists are correct. First time buyers should consider purchasing a home or condo now to take advantage of these low interest rates. Sales are at an all time high with so little inventory and so many buyers. Because of low supply and huge demand, housing prices continue to climb, and the low interest rates currently offered will help with affordability and financing options. 

Many Canadians took on short and long term mortgages when the Bank of Canada changed its overnight lending rate nearly 7 years ago.  With some five-year fixed mortgages at 2.39%, it can be a hard selling point to convince homeowners to pay down debt.  But I strongly believe that it is financially astute to consider topping up your payment, even by a small amount, which can take years off your mortgage and save you thousands of dollars in interest.

It's Critical to Increase Your Property and Contents Insurance

So often, once we bought our home or have lived in it for a long time, we neglect to continuously take stock of what's inside.  Our  property/building insurance is in place but the value has increased, and we accumulate small and large valuable items that require protection too.

When was the last time you thought about the increased value of your property and what’s inside your home?

First, I advise ensuring that your real estate property (the building) insurance is at current market value –a fire or a flood (pipes bursting) could destroy your beloved home. It's very easy for me to provide you with a complimentary Letter of Opinion documenting this market value for insurance purposes.

Secondly, and, of course, and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but home theft victims discover too late that their real estate contents insurance doesn’t cover replacement cost of their jewelry, electronics, furniture, appliances, heirlooms, artwork etc. And again, if there’s a fire or a flood so many of your treasures could be lost.

I know that we underestimate what we’ve accumulated over the years. So I'm asking you to do a comprehensive inventory update. Then, talk with your insurance broker to increase the insurance value of these items, by way of a rider, on your policy.  Most insurance policies allow up to a certain amount for jewelry, art, & furs coverage however over a specific amount certified appraisals are required.

Actually, insurance companies believe that an overhaul is important every 3 years to review any purchases, inheritances, upgrades that require higher coverage. Safety deposit boxes are often very helpful but accessing them every time you want to wear that piece of jewelry might be a little difficult and time consuming.

Please also review your old and then updated policies with your insurance provider so you understand whether you have critical replacement value. Cataloguing your valuables and possessions with photos also makes it much easier for a claim, if you ever need to make one.

Residential homes, inside and out, need the right insurance on an ongoing basis. My goal is always to give you investment peace of mind now and for the future.

New Mortgage Rules Canada

There is a great deal of concern and talk about Canada's New Mortgage Rules and the impact on Buyers, Sellers, the Real Estate Market and Canada’s economy. These measures have been put in place to ensure home Buyers are fiscally responsible in purchasing what they can really afford and don’t take on a debt burden they can’t handle - not just today, but for the future.  And in doing this, keep Canada’s interest rate as low as possible for as long as possible.

Home ownership is ‘the dream come true’ and the biggest investment anyone is likely to make. I always advise my Clients that this is a ‘Life Style’ decision not just a Real Estate one. There are many financial considerations to take into account: taxes, utilities, home maintenance, plus life expenses such as vacations, entertainment, and (if applicable) children’s extra curricular activities etc.

The Toronto market values and sale prices are at an all time high. A single detached home in Toronto is averaging $1,120,000 and a semi-detached/townhouse is close behind.  Even in the surrounding GTA areas, prices are up to $900,000 and above. 

The first time Buyers I, traditionally, work with are looking to (and know they have to) spend $1,000,000+ and, right now in the city’s core, plus Thornhill, Markham, Richmond Hill and Woodbridge, finding a livable home for less than $1million is like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack.  

There is a lack of sales inventory and Buyer demand is huge. Homes are listed very low and everywhere in the GTA now, multiple offers are being requested on a specific date. With Sellers being open to a ‘Pre-emptive or Bully Offer” at any time, some of these homes sell at huge prices within an hour of being posted on MLS. But the bidding wars prevail and propel the sold prices astronomically beyond the listing price. But I will continue to say that pricing a home at $899,000 when any knowledgeable Realtor knows the value is actually $1,500,000 is just the same as if the Seller put a $10.00 price tag on it. 

The result: - home prices are so expensive they’re out of reach for most. Unless:

  1. Buyers already have equity in their homes which they are selling
  2. Buyers stretch themselves too thin financially and aren’t thinking about what could happen when future interest rates go up, which eventually they will.
  3. Buyers readjust their lifestyles to accommodate the cost of buying a home.
  4. Buyers don’t purchase at all

So what are these new mortgage rules and what effect will they have:


Anyone planning to purchase a home, not just those putting less than 20% down,  must qualify for a 5 year fixed mortgage using The Bank of Canada’s posted interest rate.  Most recently this rate is 4.64%  -  2 percentage points or more higher than many discounted rates being offered. Purchasers can negotiate a lesser interest rate afterwards but they have to qualify at 4.64%. Previously, this only applied to Buyers who made less than a 20% down payment and required a high ratio mortgage of more than 80%. But now it applies to absolutely everyone. Plus, the Stress Test requires that the home Buyer spends no more than an increase to 39% of their income on home carrying costs like mortgage payments, heat, hydro & taxes.  Another measure called Total Debt Service (TDS), which includes all other debt payments, now can’t be more than 44%.   

This ‘Stress Test’ will limit the size of the mortgages some borrowers can take out. And it aims to make sure that home Buyers could still afford their mortgage payments if interest rates increase.   

Non-bank lenders, like First National (Canada’s largest non-bank mortgage lender) is already feeling the pinch.  They lend mortgages of about $22 million a year – and they’ve already said that this will impact about 41% of its insured residential mortgages.  And there’s likely to be a 10% drop in lending because its loans won’t qualify for insurance.  Even their stock has dropped and it’s temporarily halted loans for rental properties and to self employed people who can’t verify income.

There are also lenders known as ‘shadow lenders’. Instead of using cash deposits like the banks do, they use money from groups of investors and they aren’t subject to the same scrutiny as major financial firms. Private lenders are neither regulated nor required to carry mortgage insurance. And they’re more likely to hand out bad loans.

Why did the Government do this? They’re responding to the sharp rises in house prices in Toronto and Vancouver, which could increase the risk of future defaults if the mortgage rates rise. With these new measures Buyers can only borrow what they can afford, but it means they will not have as much purchasing power in a hot market like we have today.

Other considerations:

  1. If a Buyer was pre-approved prior to this rule change it does NOT mean they will still be approved for the same amount/and or rate especially if the lender based the pre-approval on a fixed rate, as it won’t be available anymore.
  2. If someone was approved for a new construction home and the transaction doesn’t close until 2017, they’ll need to be pre-approved again using these new rules.
  3. And remember that in Feb this year, the down payment on a home more than $500,000 became a minimum of 10%
  4. Refinancing a mortgage with a Lender other than an Owner’s current one will require a full reapplication subject to these new mortgage rules
  5. The amount of a Home Equity Loan, which adds to a current mortgage, may also be subject to an application to meet the requirements of these new mortgage rules
  6. First time Buyers applying for a CMHC insured mortgage (ie: less than 20% down payment) must have a beacon credit score of 600 or more.

Some questions:

  1. Will these measures force more volume out of the traditional banks and into unregulated lenders?
  2. Will Buyers still run to these private and/or shadow lenders so they can qualify for short-term mortgages with lower requirements?  And will they even think about the future when they’ll they have to refinance and the rates have increased? We’re likely to see evidence of default for those who’ve taken these short-term mortgages when the interest rates start to rise.
  3. Will this really affect homes above $1,000,000?
  4. Will home prices fall in the next year as these rules come into effect?
  5. Will it have any impact on the red-hot condo market? “Getting into the market” by purchasing a condo is an affordable route for many first time purchasers and can easily be much less than $1million.  However, the newly built and pre-construction condos can easily cost, in the city’s core, between $800 and $900 per square foot. Add in the condo fees and the cost increases even more.  
  6. Will potential Buyers not buy at all? There are 60 new apartment buildings being built in Toronto with condo-style amenities. The rents start at $2500 - $3000/month.

Wise Buyers won’t go to these ‘Shadow Lenders’: they’ll just cut back on their spending and not succumb to being over-leveraged. Which is what the Government wants: less personal debt so it can keep the interest rates low for business debt.

The Government is now also considering imposing new regulations for non-bank, Private and Shadow Lenders to free up the Banks to be more competitive.


Low ratio mortgages are those for borrowers who have 20% or more as a down payment.  As of November 30, 2016,  new rules restrict insurance for low ratio mortgages based on the following criteria:

  1. The amortization must be 25 years or less
  2. The purchase price must be less than $1million
  3. The property must be owner occupied – not a rental property

WHY? This hopefullly will reduce the Government’s exposure to residential mortgages for properties over $1million, sales of which have increased so much in Toronto & Vancouver in the last couple of years.


Currently any financial gain from selling an Owner’s primary residence is tax-free and doesn’t have to be reported as income. As of the 2016 tax year, it’s still tax-free (ie: no capital gains tax) but the sale of the primary residence has to be reported at tax time to the CRA.

WHY?  The Federal Government has unsupportable evidence, as well as reports from the media showing that foreign investors are flipping homes in Canada falsely claiming the primary residence exemption.


In order to claim the primary residence tax benefit, someone purchasing a property in Canada must be a resident of Canada and show evidence of this at the time of the purchase. 

WHY?  Many foreign investors are buying properties and selling them without ever having lived in Canada, or in these homes, and are avoiding the required Capital Gains Tax payment.


The Government wants to limit its financial obligations in the event of any general mortgage default and to promote prudent lending practices.  So it’s reviewing Canada's “Lender Risk Sharing.” policies.

Currently, if there's a default, the Federal Government is responsible for 100% of an insured mortgage. We're one of the only countries in the world to have this policy. So the proposal is to have lenders, such as the banks, absorb part of that risk.  This would critically change the way Canada's finance system would work. And it could potentially lead to higher mortgage rates for home Buyers to offset the increased risk the lenders will have to take on.

So…will the Government’s new rules succeed? Will they solve the issue of housing affordability in Canada? When will we see any effect?  Will there be a slowdown/ reduction in personal debt and a moderate cooling of the overheated Real Estate market? Will our interest rates stay low so this all might work?  What happens should the U.S. raise their rates and it forces the Loonie down even further?

This Seller’s market could slowly become a Buyer’s market & decrease prices because people won’t be able to afford homes in what is now a ‘very hot’ market.   Over time it could balance supply and demand and make the housing market much more affordable.

We need to make these adjustments and watch what happens.


Part 1: When You Want To Sell Your Home: To Renovate or Not?

There is so much to say on this topic I decided to split this article into two parts.

It 's a given, that I want your home to show well, so that it will sell quickly and for the absolute highest achievable price. I also want you to invest the minimum to get the maximum bang for your buck, if there are things we need to do to get your home ready for the sale.

I don't want you to put money into your home that you won't get back. This means from both aesthetic and functional perspectives. These are serious issues. My years of expertise enables me to recommend less costly repairs, as opposed to expensive renovations, to make your home as appealing as it can be to as many buyers as possible.

The 'Checklist'


There are certain structural matters, including plumbing, heating and electrical, that every Buyer (including yourselves, when we look for your new home) will want to know are in proper working order and as up-to-date as they can be. This doesn't mean they have to be brand new. But the condition of the heating/cooling systems, the windows, the roof, electrical and plumbing services are critically important. Any Buyer who conducts a home inspection, when purchasing your home, is going to find out exactly the same things. For instance, are the furnace and/or air conditioning on their last legs? Are the windows original wood or 20 year-old aluminum, with broken seals (when we can see moisture between the window panes)? Do you have knob and tube wiring and/or old fuses rather than circuit breakers? Has there been 'any' water seepage/damage that 's not been attended to? Ever have any pests in the attic? By telling me everything at the beginning, I can refer you to our trusted service providers to resolve these issues. It will save you money and heartache in the long run and beats getting a nasty surprise at the Buyer 's inspection.

For example, replacing an old furnace and/or central air conditioning are not that expensive but doing so “maintains” the resale value of your home. The same holds true for your roof and windows. I don 't recommend replacing everything but very old run down heating and cooling systems are the first items for which a Buyer will most likely ask money off the purchase price. A roof, at the end of its life-expectancy, follows as a very close second.

Coming up in my next Blog.... Part 2....

Part 2: You Want To Sell Your Home - To Renovate or Not?


Water seepage/damage either on the ceiling, or walls or floors has to be attended to unless we are selling the house in an "as is" condition and that is usually reflected in the list price. Water seepage can be caused by a leaky roof, a chimney leak or by faulty exterior water- proofing. We need to know exactly what's required to remedy this and get it done, if we can. If you've repaired such a leak but haven't had time to re-dry-wall or re-paint, now is the time to do it. We don't want any water stains anywhere!

As your Real Estate Agent, I want to make your home as rebate-proof as possible. We don't want a Buyer to come back to us and ask for money off the purchase price, after an inspection reveals what was known but not addressed. We want Buyers to say "Wow, they've really taken care of this house."

Then there's the aesthetic side of "upgrading". And there are many creative and not-so-expensive ways to make your home shine!

#1 is Painting. If your home really needs painting, it really needs painting. A fresh, light, neutral colour, throughout, has instant allure. In as little as 3 seconds, when Buyers walk through the front door, they know whether they want to see the rest of your home or they squint their eyes and say "Hmmmmm"…..

Many of my clients have asked whether they should renovate the kitchen before selling. Again, I advise you to do only what makes sense. Re-doing a whole kitchen is too expensive and likely not in your best interests, as most Buyers want to renovate a kitchen to their taste and style. But do we change the appliances to Stainless Steel? This could be just the "uplift" the kitchen needs. We could also keep the cost minimal by redoing the backsplash or painting the cupboards, which can make a huge difference. Or, even just updating the knobs gives the cupboards a whole new look. We also know that a sparkling, clean, older kitchen can be very attractive, and friendly, to many, many Buyers.

The second?  Bathrooms. If the bathrooms are dated, but spotless, there's a good chance I'd suggest not doing anything. Just let me add my own finishing touches, for staging, to make them gleam. But if the toilet, tub, shower or vanity need a lot of TLC, it may be better to spend a little now so the selling price doesn't get affected. Again, we don't want the Buyers to start adding up "repairs" which could cost us more in the long run.

Another inexpensive improvement is changing your light fixtures. No, we don't have to put in pot lights. New light fixtures can cost very little, and freshly modernize your home.

I have many unique and creative selling secrets and I share them all with you.