Home Design Tips: How to Raise Your Home’s Value Quickly 

Real estate agent shows Miami, Florida home to potential buyer.more big
(Photo : Joe Raedle | Getty Images News) 

Those looking to design their homes to raise the values of the property are advised by real estate professionals to start planting some colorful flowers, applying repairs, and de-cluttering. According to Home Gain, home improvement can be achieved at only under $1,500.

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Home Gain has a Home Sale Maximizer feature that identified some affordable home improvements recommended by real estate professionals across the United States, as per Realty Times.

1. Cleaning and De-cluttering - Costs $290 - $1,990 price increase - 586% ROI

All personal items must first be removed before putting the house up for sale. Apart from personal belongings, closets must be organized which means homeowners looking to sell need horizontal poles for hangers. All pieces of wooden furniture and mirrors must be completely polished as well.

All areas of the house, which includes both its interior and exterior, must also be thoroughly cleaned. The air inside the house must be freshened up, which will make an air freshener very handy.

2. Home Staging - Costs $550 - $2,194 price increase - 299% ROI

Fresh flowers will help increase the value of the house as it give the ambiance a more colorful look and an environment-friendly appeal. Adding new pieces of furniture to certain rooms that are relatively lacking also falls under Home Staging. Sellers who do not want to spend for new props can simply move some from one room to another.

Post Crescent also says that simply hiring a home stager can do the job right. This agent or friend can easily walk through the house and give objective comments on what must be added or removed. In this manner, the factors that can potentially sink a sale are removed.

3. Kitchen and Bathroom - Costs $1,265 - $3,435 price increase - 172% ROI

According to a recent survey conducted by Remodeling, kitchen and bathroom renovations are among the top ones that can successfully generate a quick return of investment. One tip revealed by a separate Realty Times report would be to incorporate crown molding to the wooden cabinets.

Crown molding is an "architectural wood millwork" that gives further detail to walls and upper cabinetry. Contrary to what many might initially think, it does not necessarily have to be in the shape of a crown. It comes in a multitude of designs, which can be used to add visual depth to the woodwork in the kitchen and the bathroom.

Houses for sale must be portrayed in the best light. Majority of today's would-be buyers search for homes that have already been prepared and move-in ready.


Dog City Life: The benefits of a professional dog walking service and what to ask when hiring someone.


Contributed by Tail-Waggers


Life in the city can get busy and the truth is,  your dog will spend long hours at home alone while he waits for you to come back from work or school. I heard you! Your dog can hold it. Of course he can if he has no other option. A break in the middle of the day where your dog can go out for a brisk walk will provide him a job. Yes a job! 


Dogs need daily mental and physical stimulation to be in a balanced state of mind. This will help avoid boredom and destructive behaviour such as excessive chewing,  separation anxiety, lack of socialization and overweight.  


After several years in the pet service industry,  I know of many clients who retained dog walking services, even if they work from home.  They know how beneficial and important those mid day walks are for the health and happiness of their dogs. If you are the type of pet parent that has a 9-5 job, knowing your pooch has been out for a break will give you the peace of mind in case you get  stuck in traffic or have a long day at work.  


Now, the question is who can you trust to visit your fur kid and your home?  Asking neighbours,  friends or kids is tempting, especially considering they may do it for free or at a very low cost.  Also, you know these people; you trust them and you would rather have them come into your home to care for your dog than a “stranger” right?


However,  what if they get sick or have an emergency and can’t come? What if they slip or fall or get injured on your property?  (No liability insurance so it has to go through YOUR insurance) What if there was an emergency with your dog?  Would they know how to handle it? Also, keep in mind if something does go wrong your relationship with this person will never be the same again.


Thus,  I strongly recommend to look out for a professional dog walker in your area. I suggest you ask yourself what type of service are you looking for. Are you okay with someone taking your dog to the dog park knowing  dog fights can happen? Do you rather someone taking your dog to a forest and let him run off leash? Is your dog good on recall? Or do you rather have someone doing on leash walks only? Is your dog friendly and would benefit of of a group walk? 


Also, know well what will suit you better. Hiring someone that works solo or hiring a company with employees. If the first option works better for you, make sure to ask about backup plans for emergencies and holidays.  For the second type of company,  inquire about employee training, who keeps the keys? Will you be assigned a primary dog walker or have someone different every visit?  Are the walkers employees or independent contractors? 


Finally, the key questions once you've decided what type of company suits you better are:


1) Are they insured? What company? 

2) Do they have criminal background check?

3) what is the backup plan for emergencies and holidays?

4) How do they take payment? How do they invoice clients?

5) Do they have a city license?

6) How do they introduce a new dog to the pack? 

7) How do they pair dogs for groups walks?

8) Do the dogs get driven?  For how long? 

9) Make note if they ask for vet records and emergency contact information.  

10) Do they offer a free meet & greet?

I hope you find this post helpful and don't forget to give your dog a JOB!


Real Advice.
Real Inspiration.
Real Experts.

Real Advice. Real Inspiration. Real Experts. The BC Home + Garden Show is the most trusted resource for every home improvement project, inside and out. With Canada’s favourite home, horticulture and landscaping specialists including HGTV’s Bryan Baeumler and design darling Janette Ewen, seminars and live demos from Vancouver’s culinary masters, and more than 425 exhibitors and features designed to whip any home or garden into shape, there’s innovation, inspiration and expert advice at every turn. 

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Can You Trust Yourself to Buy and Sell your Home Properly Without a Realtor?

The Canadian real estate market continues to hum along. You may be one of the many people out there who have decided to take the plunge and become a homeowner, or maybe you are looking to sell your home. 

Your friends have tried it, so maybe you decide to go the route of a private sale of your home, embarking on your property search using the tools such as MLS, or craigslist to help you. But what happens when you find that the process stalls and that you are not getting what you want out of the situation?

Has the promise of technology and ease been exaggerated in your case? Could the narrow exposure that your private sale offers keep potential buyers from even knowing about your home? And what about when you find your dream home…but can’t make an appointment to see it without a realtor to represent you in the process?

These are just some of the scenarios that can stand in the way of you buying or selling. If you find yourself in these situations, perhaps it is time to find yourself a good realtor.

For a quick overview of why realtors are invaluable for buying and selling your home, check out the infographic below.


Little-Known Factors That Could Affect Your Home Sale

Realtors offer experience and a network of connections that can be hard to find if you are embarking on this process alone. 


A realtor has a large network of associates, colleagues and mechanisms that will allow you to sell or buy faster and with better results. If selling, your property will be exposed to many more potential buyers through the power of, as well as through other important channels such as social media, the agent’s home website and company website, and through word of mouth through the agent’s network of peers. 

 “Realtors have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which they can access 2 days before the new listings are available on the public MLS website. And having access to the sales history of the property, tax assessment, recent price adjustments, sales history in the area and other critical information can be vital in negotiating the best price for clients.”


A real estate agent will bring his/her experiences to the table. They are privy to much more data and information than we could obtain through private channels. For example, if you are a young family looking for a great neighborhood to raise your children, a realtor can help you find the perfect area. They do so by using their knowledge regarding the schools, parks, shopping and other amenities in the area.

A real estate agent can also help their buyer make informed decisions about all aspects of the building or structure that they potentially could own, such as any problems with structural integrity, liens on the property, strata rules and regulations etc. Finally, when it comes to the negotiating and legal side of buying or selling, a realtor has all the skills and paperwork needed to ensure that you are making the best and most confident decision possible.


When you hire a realtor, they are at your call to help you view that home you love in a timely manner so that another buyer doesn’t snap it up. They are there to negotiate the price on the sale of your home so that you get the best amount possible, and the same goes for when you finally decide to put that offer in on your potential new home.

 “one of the most important key points (that a realtor brings to the table) is honesty and integrity.”


Though many sales take place as a result of website and social media exposure, the majority of real estate transactions continue to occur thanks to the powerful channels of communication between agents. In fact, if you are thinking of buying or selling a home, hiring a realtor may be the wisest decision that you will make. 

The promise and ease of the online world for buying and selling a home has shifted the power firmly in the hands of you, the consumer. Realtors are no longer the gatekeepers to vital home information they once were. However, the numbers don’t lie. 

Despite the advances in technology and availability of alternative sales model options, Canadian realtors continue to play a dominant role in the buying and selling of homes in Canada. 

So, are you planning to use a Realtor the next time you buy or sell a home?


Consumers are always looking for ways to save money, and paying real estate commissions can amount to tens of thousands these days. Not an insignificant sum to most people. Is it worth it to hire a full-service real estate brokerage over a discount service? Reasonable question. It's one I hear often. And the answer is it depends. 

Type of Marketplace

  • If you're in a seller's market right now, homes are probably selling the minute they hit the multiple listing service. A one-eyed sheep with two paws tied behind her back could plop a home into MLS and get an offer. Will it be the highest price you could get?
  • Buyer's markets exist when inventory exceeds the supply of buyers. In these markets, some homes aren't selling at all. This is where expertise and extra work pays off. Listings that sell at top price are typically those exposed to the most buyers, which are priced well, marketed well and show well.

MLS and the Internet

I cringe when I see new listings hit MLS without a photograph because I know that agents and buyers are passing them over without a second thought. themultiple listing services accept 20 photographs nowadays. For that reason, many full-service agents hire professional photographers and shoot double the photos required. 

  • The pros spend considerable time sorting through photos to select those with the most light, the best angles, sharpest contrast & color. 
  • Photos are cropped and resized to accentuate positive attributes. 
  • Each photograph is entered into MLS with a full-length enticing description.

When I see a photograph taken by the multiple listing service instead of a pro or the agent, I also see a lazy real estate agent who doesn't care enough or isn't getting paid enough to properly market her client's property.


Lots of mom 'n' pop operations and discount brokerages don't spend money on professional signs because they don't believe in it or they can't afford it. Good signage is free advertising. Many full-service firms will advertise: 

  • Main office phone number 
  • Agent's personal cell phone or voice mail number 
  • Web site for more information 
  • Virtual tour links 
  • Specific information that makes this home different from others in the area

Marketing Materials

Full-service companies tend to project quality, and that means four-color flyers and four-color direct mail pieces. The days of hiring neighborhood kids to toss photocopies on neighbors' front steps are gone. Full-service marketing is first class.

Open Houses 

Not all homes are right for an open house, but those that are require finesse. This means working the buyers who come through by pointing out impressive features of the home without making the buyer feel oppressed or hounded, and that in itself is an art. It requires the service of an experienced sales person. Many discount brokers refuse to hold homes open.

Full-service agents counsel sellers. They find out what made the seller decide to buy the home and how that moment happened. Then, they employ that knowledge at open houses. For example, suppose a seller said that moment came when she first stood gazing out at the pool. When she turned to her husband and gasped, "I can't believe we can afford to buy this home." Good sales people at an Open would ask buyers to stand in that same spot by the pool. Then, they'd share the seller's first experience verbatim. 


Real estate is an extremely competitive business, and there are many agents fighting for the same listings. A full-service agent who wins the listing is probably a good negotiator, a person you want on your side during offer negotiations. Think about it. Agents who can persuade you to pay what they feel is reasonable, will probably persuade a buyer to pay your price. Ultimately, that means more money for you.

Final Sales Price

Sometimes full-service agents lose listings because the seller was promised a higher price based on hot air and a lower commission. It's these listings that often show up in MLS a month later with reduced prices. The amount of the price reductions, not surprisingly, tend to exceed the difference in commissions between the dualing agencies! In these scenarios, sellers received fewer services and ended up losing money on the sale as well.

If you can't decide between an agent who charges 1 or 2 percent less than another, think about how you would feel if you had to reduce your sales price, say five percent, to get the house sold. Ask the agents to show you their last 24 months of price reductions and compare them.

How Much Do Agents Make?

Agents are paid by brokers. Brokers retain a portion, sometimes 50%, and pay the balance to the agent. From that, the agent pays her overhead and taxes, which can easily amount to 50% of the net. A listing agent's true salary ranges from 20% to 30% of one-half the commission. Full-service agents typically spend more on overhead than their competitors; by refusing to compromise service, they tend to charge more.


Canada’s big banks weigh in on how falling oil prices will impact the country’s housing market
Sean MacKay
By: Sean MacKay FEBRUARY 10, 2015

Canada oil prices housingPhoto: Sergio Russo/Flickr

It’s only mid-February, but 2015 has already proven to be full of shocks and surprises for the Canadian economy and the impact is being felt in the country’s housing market.

The steep decline in oil prices caused organizations monitoring the housing market to readjust their forecasts and backpedal on predictions for 2015 and 2016 in a relatively short period.

In November, the OECD predicted that the Bank of Canada would raise its overnight lending rate by May 2015. Many other analysts agreed that a rate hike would likely occur before the end of 2015. Instead, the central bank cut the overnight rate a quarter per cent to 0.75 per cent on January 21st.

As late as mid-November 2014, Calgary was still described as one of Canada’s “red hot” markets, along with Toronto and Vancouver. According to the Calgary Real Estate Board’s latest report, home sales were down 38.9 per cent and new listings were up 39 per cent year-over-year in January. The Globe and Mail published a story on February 4th profiling the negative effects of the oil price slide on the city’s luxury market in late 2014 and early 2015. Clearly the sentiment in the market is less than sunny.

On the heels of the latest release of housing starts data from the CMHC, we combed through some recent reports published by Canada’s major banks to get a reading on the current outlook from market experts.

Read on for a rundown on what the banks’ economics teams are looking at now and down the line for the country’s housing market:

Royal Bank of Canada

  • RBC has had a lot to say on housing in 2015, thus far. In its housing forecast for 2015 and 2016 published in mid-January, RBC downgraded its annual projection for the Alberta resale market in light of oil price declines. The bank said it expected resales to fall by 6.5 per cent in the province in 2015 — a blow to the Alberta market, but not “a knock-out punch.” This report was published prior to the Bank of Canada rate cut and the release of housing sales and price data for January.
  • On February 9th, the bank released an update to its Canadian housing forecast for 2015 and 2016, necessitated by the surprise overnight rate cut, a dimmer view on oil prices in 2015 and a weak Canadian dollar.
  • In the update, the bank said that home resales and prices will benefit from low interest rates on the national level, but market performance will vary tremendously on a regional level with Ontario, BC, Manitoba and Quebec benefiting and Alberta, Saskatchewan and part of Atlantic Canada seeing sharper drops in sales and prices in 2015. The largest decline will be in Alberta, RBC predicted, where resales are now projected to drop by 16 per cent in 2015 and 2.6 per cent in 2016.
  • In a research note published yesterday, economist Laura Cooper wrote that the slowing in housing starts in Canada’s energy-dependent regions “failed to materialize” in January, referring to the CMHC data that showed housing starts increasing month-over-month nationwide, with Alberta showing pronounced strength.
  • Even so, Cooper concluded that housing activity across the country will gear down in 2016 with an interest rate hike expected at some point that year.

Bank of Montreal

  • Reacting to the CMHC’s release of housing starts data for January, BMO economist Benjamin Reitzes called the regional breakdown “a bit curious” and noted that the Prairies were “a surprising source of strength.” Reitzes was quick to point out, however, that starts in the region, particularly Alberta, will likely follow declining home sales within the next few months.
  • Reitzes wrote that starts in Central Canada and BC are expected to maintain last year’s levels while some deceleration is expected from 2014′s pace on the national level.

TD Bank

  • Like most economists, TD was surprised by the strength of the Canadian housing market in 2014, but forecast a softening in sales and prices in the cards for 2015 and 2016. In a quarterly economic forecast report from December 2014, the bank said that it expected the Bank of Canada to remain on hold until October 2015 while describing falling oil prices as “a dark cloud on the horizon.”
  • In a report published on February 9th following the release of housing starts data from the CMHC, economist Randall Bartlett explained that the strength seen in the Prairies “likely reflects momentum from a strong year in housing demand overall in 2014 as opposed to renewed strength.”
  • Bartlett also said that January housing starts do not reflect the Bank of Canada overnight rate cut and that the subsequent drop in lending rates should keep the Canadian housing market “more buoyant than would otherwise be the case.”


  • The bank’s last major comment on the Canadian housing market came from economist Adrienne Warren on January 15th, before the surprise Bank of Canada rate cut announcement. Warren wrote that low borrowing costs, moderate economic growth and favourable demographics will continue to support national housing demand in 2015. She acknowledged that slumping oil prices impact economic fundamental in Western Canada.
  • Responding yesterday to the CMHC’s housing starts data, Scotiabank’s economics team were surprised to see construction activity maintaining its strength in Alberta despite “softness in home prices” and large spike in new listings for December. In the note, the economists were tight-lipped on how they saw things shaking out in oil-producing regions in the next few months, though they said it would be a story they’d watch carefully in the months ahead.
  • Scotiabank is expected to release a comment on CREA’s January home prices and sales data set to be released later this month.

Top 10 Metro Vancouver developments on BuzzBuzzHome in January 2015
Michael Aynsley
By: Michael Aynsley FEBRUARY 2, 2015

The hottest Vancouver-area developments in the first month of the new year included Kitsilano condos, Main Street townhomes and a Surrey high-rise.

10. West 10th and Maple by Pinnacle


9. The Oxford by Allaire and The Airey Group


8. Midtown by PortLiving


7. Uptown by Bosa Properties

Uptown Coquitlam condos

6. The Independent by Rize Alliance

The Independent Vancouver condos

5. Glasshouse Lofts in Queensborough by Aragon

Glasshouse Lofts New Westminster condos

4. The Amazing Brentwood by Shape Living

The Amazing Brentwood Burnaby condos

3. SOLO District by Appia

Solo District burnaby condos

2. Citti by CM Bay Properties


1. Black+Whites on Foster by Intracorp

Black+Whites-on-Foster-townhomes-CoquitlamThe handsome rowhouse-style townhomes of Black+Whites on Foster are now on sale in Coquitlam. Priced from the low $500,000s, the spacious homes are inspired by 1930s New York architecture and feature private front doors, landscaped yards, attached parking and over-sized windows. Want in? Visit the sales centre and show home today at 548 Foster Avenue.


I have listed a new property at 1956 WOLFE ST in North Vancouver.
Country living in the City best describes this rare & unique home. Nestled along the lush forested borders of Mission Creek & City Park Lands this peaceful & picturesque property, over a 1/3 acre is a garden sanctuary. The amazing 2497sq ftCharacter Home boasts an abundance of windows providing 4 directional exposures & 3 decks including a 680 SF rooftop oasis. A 606 SF Legal office w/separate entrance, fireplace & 2 sets of French doors leading onto a patio, coupled with a legal 895 SF 1 bdrm & den walkout suite w/private backyard adds incredible versatility & value to this truly one of a kind property. If you have been seeking to find a sense of peace & balance in your life this is a must see. Dreams Welcomed here!
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