Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Certification - Accredited Green Agent

I just finished some courses on helping clients make more eco-friendly real estate decisions.  I am one of three certified eco-agents, through the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers 

These courses discuss energy efficiency, hydro usage, water conservation and a host of other important topics.  I look forward to helping people, using this new certification, to make a better buying decision.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fun Fact - What is the most expensive annual energy user in a Canadian home?


It accounts for between 57-62% of the average annual energy bill (as per 2000 figures).

Bennett Real Estate Professionals named #1 in the World!!!

Canadian Named #1 Real Estate Broker World-Wide

Marnie Bennett Distinguished Among 80,000 Sales Representatives

OTTAWA, Canada - January 25, 2011 – Marnie Bennett, Broker, Keller Williams Ottawa Realty and Team Leader of Bennett Real Estate Professionals, has been named the #1 Broker World-Wide for Keller Williams Realty International (KWRI) for 2010. She is the first female Canadian real estate broker to achieve this distinction.  Bennett and her team surpassed the sales of all other KWRI agencies, selling over 600 homes in a year that was hampered by the introduction of the HST, changes to mortgage regulations and unstable economic conditions. 

“The cornerstone of our success is that we build relationships with our clients and we truly care,” said Bennett. “Though there were challenges in 2010, we simply remained focused on our customers’ success by assisting them to develop real estate portfolios that will increase their wealth and help them achieve their dreams. I am thrilled that our team’s sales achievement has been recognized with this international award.”

Marnie Bennett is celebrating 30 years in the real estate industry in 2011. She is in the top one percent of Realtors® in North America because of her extensive experience and attention to customer satisfaction. 

Marnie has received numerous accolades:
“I cannot tell you how amazing this is and how much we all truly respect what you’ve accomplished. It’s a real honour to be in business with you!” - Gary Keller, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, Keller Williams Realty International, Inc.

“You definitely have built one of the most impressive real estate businesses I've ever seen. Congratulations on that!” - Mark Willis, CEO Keller Williams Realty International, Inc.

“…Marnie Bennett has a reputation for putting her clients’ needs first which has in turn earned her the top international distinction of being named the top agent World Wide.” - Craig Proctor, Broker & World Renowned Real Estate Trainer.

In recognition of her achievements in 2010 Marnie Bennett will receive her award from Gary Keller, Co-founder and Chairman of the Board for Keller Williams Realty, at the KWRI annual conference in Anaheim, California in February.

About Bennett Real Estate Professionals
Bennett Real Estate Professionals is a premium full-service, “Five-Star” Real Estate Team that specializes in marketing and selling homes, condominiums and investment real estate. Team leader Marnie Bennett ranks in the top one percent of North America’s Realtors® and is a member of “The Platinum Group” which is an elite group of only 200 Realtors® in North America who have achieved the highest level of success. Bennett is an award-winning marketer and has become one of Canada’s most highly regarded Real Estate marketing and sales consultants and strategists because her company provides a full scope of integrated services that are customized to produce the highest possible degree of success for each client.

As Urban Real Estate specialists, Marnie Bennett and her team provide “One Stop Shopping” for Real Estate developers, builders, investors, homebuyer and sellers. Marnie and her team’s services are greatly sought-after and contracted by International Developers to become the leading Real Estate sales and marketing experts on their multimillion dollar projects.

Check out the various media outlets ...
Ottawa Citizen, Queen of Condos

Ottawa Sun, Ottawa real estate broker named world's best

Yahoo - Condos tilting the market

24 Hrs - Ottawa's real estate QUEEN

Here is an article from Germany, the Bennett Pros success, this year's top business lesson 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Formulas for Calculating HST Payable and HST Rebates on Investment Properties.

For Ottawa real estate be sure to contact Bennett Property Shop Realty Brokerage

Unlike purchasing a property for personal use, where the builder applies for the HST rebates, in the case of purchases of new construction condo or residential units as investments, the Investor is responsible for paying the full HST amount payable on new construction condo or residence at the time of closing and then applying for the HST rebates provided certain conditions are met.

To understand how HST and HST rebates are calculated, one first needs to review the Canada Revenue Agency terminology for the builder’s list price, being the price that the buyer set’s which includes all HST and HST rebates and the builder’s base price, which is the price used to calculate the total HST payable before any rebate calculations are undertaken.

 See inside Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady's new $14 million high-rise condo - Pursuitist

In CRA terms, the List price or “stated price net of rebates (SPNR)” means the stated price for the housing net of any GST/HST new housing rebate and the Ontario new housing rebate credited by the builder.

As well, the Base Price or the "consideration" payable for the purchase of the housing is the amount to be paid for the housing before any calculation of the tax payable and housing rebate entitlements for the purchaser.

Where a stated price net of rebates is used, a calculation must first be made to determine the value of the consideration payable for the housing. The value of the consideration must be calculated before the tax payable can be determined. Similarly, the tax payable must be calculated before the amount of the rebates can be determined.

An additional consideration is that although the Provincial component of the HST rebate is fixed at 6% to a maximum of $24,000, the Federal component of the HST rebate is on a sliding scale, reducing to zero once the builder’s base price or “consideration” exceeds $450,000.

Using the Builder’s List Prices as a starting point, and specific CRA formula’s for each of the four value bands (being <$368,200, $368,200 to $424,850, $424,850 to $484,500, and >$484,500) it is possible to calculate how much HST is already included in the purchase price and what the federal and provincial HST rebate components will be.

 Open concept in this city condo makes good use of the smaller space which now functions as three rooms. The wall color was a must with this modern design. #paint #condo

However, these formulas can only be used if all of the following conditions are met:
• the purchaser is buying a newly constructed or substantially renovated single unit residential complex or residential condominium unit from a builder, together with the related land;
• the housing is situated in Ontario;
• HST at 13% applies to the sale;
• the purchaser meets the conditions for claiming the Ontario new housing rebate; the builder pays or credits the Ontario new housing rebate and, where applicable, the GST/HST new housing rebate in respect of the federal part of the HST to the purchaser; and
• the builder and the purchaser have agreed to a stated price net of the Ontario new housing rebate and, where applicable, the GST/HST new housing rebate in respect of the federal part of the HST.

To calculate the additional HST payable upon close for an investment property, refer to the formulas and examples below.

Formula #1 for Properties Priced Under $368,200
Provided the Builder’s List Price or “Stated Price Net of Rebates (SPNR)” is not more that $368,200 (meaning that the consideration (i.e. builder’s purchase price) is not more than $350,000):

Base Price / Consideration = SPNR ÷ 1.052

Example 1
The stated builder’s list price net of rebates is $325,000 and all of the above conditions are satisfied. The “consideration” or builder’s base price would be calculated as:

Builder’s base price
= builder’s list price ÷ 1.052
= $325,000 ÷ 1.052
= $308,935.36 (indicating that $16,064.64 in HST is already included in the builder’s list price)

Once the Builder’s base price is determined the tax payable and the new housing rebates may be calculated.

Total HST payable
= builder’s base price x 13%
= $308,935.36 × 13%
= $40,161.60

Less GST/HST new housing rebate in respect of the federal part of the HST
= (builder’s base price x 5%) x 36%
= ($308,935.36 × 5%) x 36%
= $5,560.84

Less Ontario new housing rebate in respect of the provincial part of the HST
= (builder’s base price x 8%) x 75%
= ($308,935.36 × 8%) × 75%
= $18,536.12

For an investor, on closing they would be required to remit the $24,096.96 in additional HST and then apply for the rebate of that HST amount, a process which typically takes about 6 to 8 weeks and requires that the property be leased to a tenant for a minimum of one year.

living room. sofas and chairs. iights lamps chandeliers. Cabinets and tables. carpets and fabrics. drapes and ceiling design. art and accessories. color decor modern interior design

Formula #2 for Properties Priced Between $368,200 and $424,850
If the Builder’s list price is more than $368,200 but not more than $424,850 (meaning that the base price is more than $350,000 but not more than $400,000), then:

The base price = (List price + $28,350) ÷ 1.133

Example 2

The stated price net of rebates is $410,000 and all of the above conditions are satisfied. The builder’s base price would be calculated as:

Builder’s base price
= ($410,000 + $28,350) ÷ 1.133
= $386,893.20 (indicating that $23,106.80 in HST is already included in the builder’s list price)

Once the consideration is determined the tax payable and the new housing rebates may be calculated.

Total HST payable
= $386,893.20 × 13%
= $50,296.12

GST/HST new housing rebate in respect of the federal part of the HST
= $6,300 × [($450,000 - $386,893.20)] ÷ $100,000
= $3,975.73

Ontario new housing rebate in respect of the provincial part of the HST
= ($386,893.20 × 8%) × 75%
= $23,213.59

Condo living, design by sarah richardson via This is Glamorous. #laylagrayce #kitchen

Formula #3 for Properties Priced Between $424,850 and $484,500
If the Builder’s list price is more than is more than $424,850 and not more than $484,500 (meaning that the base price is more than $400,000 but not more than $450,000):

The base price = (Builder’s List price + $52,350) ÷ 1.193

Example 3

The stated price net of rebates is $460,000 and all of the above conditions are satisfied. The builder’s base price would be calculated as:

Builder’s base price
= ($460,000 + $52,350) ÷ 1.193
= $429,463.54 (indicating that $30,536.46 in HST is already included in the builder’s list price)

Once the consideration is determined the tax payable and the new housing rebates may be calculated.

Total HST payable
= $429,463.54 × 13%
= $55,830.26

GST/HST new housing rebate in respect of the federal part of the HST
= $6,300 × [($450,000 - $429,463.54)] ÷ $100,000
= $1,293.80

Ontario new housing rebate in respect of the provincial part of the HST
= ($429,463.54 × 8%) × 75%
= $24,000 (maximum provincial rebate)

 Inspirational Kitchens from Income Property | Photos | HGTV Canada

Formula #4 for Properties Priced Over $484,500
If the Builder’s list price is more than is more than $484,500 (meaning that the base price is more than $450,000):

Builder’s base price = (Builder’s List price + $24,000) ÷ 1.13

Note: there is no rebate of the Federal proportion of the HST for houses, priced above $484,500.

Example 4

The stated price net of rebates is $700,000 and all of the above conditions are satisfied. . The builder’s base price would be calculated as:

Builder’s base price
= ($700,000 + $24,000) ÷ 1.13
= $640,707.96 (indicating that $59,292.04 in HST is already included in the builder’s list price)

Once the consideration is determined the tax payable and the new housing rebates may be calculated.

Total HST payable
= $640,707.96 × 13%
= $83,292.03

GST/HST new housing rebate in respect of the federal part of the HST
= $6,300 × [($450,000 - $640,707.96)] ÷ $100,000
= $0

Ontario new housing rebate
= ($640,707.96 × 8%) × 75%
= $24,000 (maximum provincial rebate)

 The Property Brothers installed San Marco's Oak Granite into this kitchen on episode 85 of season 4. San Marco's Oak Granite is a 3/8 inch, 100% engineered hardwood and carries Mullican Floorings lifetime finish warranty. To learn more about this product, please visit

For Ottawa real estate be sure to contact Bennett Property Shop Realty Brokerage

See government forms here

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SoHo Italia ... tallest building in Ottawa on Preston Street?

Get your vote in.  Go to the following link and express your thoughts, should Ottawa's tallest building be on Preston Street or is the spot too small for vertical development?

Condo developer wants 35-storey tower on Preston

A condominium developer is seeking to construct a 35-storey tower in the heart of Ottawa's Little Italy that, if completed, would be the tallest building in the city.

An artist's concept of the Soho Italia, a 35-storey condominium tower. (Roderick Lahey Architect Inc.)Mastercraft Starwood Group wants to build "Soho Italia" just behind the archway of Little Italy on the site of an old parking lot on Preston Street.

Last week, developers pitched the idea to mayor Jim Watson and the ward's city councillor, Diane Holmes, as well as Peter Hume, the chair of the Planning and Environment Committee. An official zoning change request has not been filed yet.

An artist's conception for the project from architect Roderick Lahey shows a slim glass and concrete tower that resembles a stack of plates. The design also includes a ground floor dedicated to a museum of Italian culture.

Lahey said he's excited about the project, and describes it as a fluid design that's supposed to look like water moving, inspired by the Aqua Tower in Chicago. The Ottawa building would house about 220 residential condo units.

If completed, it would likely edge out tower C of Place de Ville, the 29-storey, 112 metre building, and the 32-storey, 108 metre-tall Minto Metropole in Westboro, as the tallest building in Ottawa.

Developers have battled over this land in the past and won concessions from the city.

The spot is currently zoned for 19-storeys for a commercial building and 22-storeys for a residential building, according to a spokesperson with Mastercraft Starwood. The company has also met with the local business improvement association and is expecting to meet with community groups to discuss the plan.

Local residents, businesses and politicians CBC spoke with expressed surprise at the sheer size of the planned building, with some questioning its height while others worry that it is too wide for the available lot.

For Ottawa real estate be sure to contact Bennett Property Shop Realty Brokerage

Read more:

Real Estate Math - $515,000 really equals $263,276

Learn about my new mortgage accelerator, a program unlike any other program out there. 

Let me paint two scenarios:

Scenario #1 - A small single in Vanier
You have a pre-approval for $263,276.  You are putting down 20% (total $52,655.20).  You plan to live in this house for 5 years.  Your monthly mortgage payment is $737.74.  After 5 years, you will have paid down your mortgage to $192,483.63 and the value of the property is $305,205.88.  This means over the course of the five years living in this house your networth has increased by $112,725.25

Scenario #2 - Stunning, Fully renovated Alta Vista Duplex
You checked with your super excellent real estate agent and his financing wizard, and they took your down payment and got you approved for our Mortgage Accelerator property.  You are now buying at $515,000 showpiece duplex, with only 10% down (total $51,500.00).  You will be living in for 5 years.  Your monthly mortgage payment is $1,628.04, but you are also generating $1,095 in rent, so your new mortgage payment is now only $533.04.  After 5 years, you will have paid your mortgage down to $426,508.70 and the value of the property is $597,026.15.  This means over the course of the five years living in this house, your networth has increased by $170,517.45

The difference?
Monthly payment is $204.70 less
Your downpayment is $1,155.20 less
Networth Increase is $57,792.20 more

Scenario #2 is the far superior investment than scenario #1.  You have a lower monthly payment, less cash needed to purchase the property and your net worth increases by way more.

Canadian debt levels ... what is really going on?

The Canadian government is worried about personal debt levels of Canadians.  They have changed mortgage qualification rules twice in the past year to "tighten" the lending practices.  The top issue we are told is consumer debt. 

Mortgages are not consumer debt, consumer debt is credit cards, car loans, etc.  How many Canadians have a Visa, a Mastercard, two car loans and a store credit card from Home Depot, the Brick and the Bay?  These are all charging clients between 7 and 22% interest.  Mortgage debt is currently 2.25% to 4%.  I ask, "Which one is worse"?

I do not think the current mortgage tightening has anything to do with Canadian debt levels.  I think that the current changes are gear directly towards the Canadian Dollar.  At this point, this morning, the Canadian dollar sits at $1.01 USD, meaning we are above par.  Historically, the Canadian government has held the policy of keeping the Canadian dollar lower than the USD.  This is to protect many Canadian economic sectors, including tourism, import/export and manufactoring.

Usually, when the Canadian dollar climbs, the government will lower interest rates, making Canada a less attractive place for investors to "park" their money.  For instance, a high Canadian dollar, compared to the world reserve currency, the USD, investors would hold Canadian dollars to lend them to back to Canadians at a higher rate of interest than they can achieve in the United States.  But in a low interest environment, investors are not going to want to hold Canadian dollars are there is little return in lending money in Canada.

Currently, we are in an environment where we cannot lower rates to lower the value of the Canadian dollar.  Core inflation in Canada is on the rise, meaning the value of goods is rising compared to the value of our dollar.  To combat this, the usual method is to raise interest rates, but currently, we cannot raise interest rates.

What do we do?

The economic engine that usually pushes a country out of recession is the housing industry.  The housing industry is the single largest employer in Canada if you consider all the off-shoot businesses that are dependant on housing - real estate agents, trades people, lumber yards, mortgage brokers, surveyors, indirectly the auto industry (pick up trucks), etc.

I would argue that Canada is not in a recession, but that the effect of the US economy on Canada has caused a slowdown in the Canadian economy.  It is a funny thing right now, as our banking system, our economy is strong but we are being directly influenced  by the problems in the USA.  With over 80% of our trade going South of the border, it is easy to see why Canada is feeling the hangover from the US financial meltdown.  With 80% of our trade going to the US, it is pretty easy to ascertain why the Canadian/USD exchange rate is so important to our exporting sector.     

What do the new mortgage rules do to the exchange rate?  A slow down in the Canadian economy, means inflation should drop.  A slowdown in the Canadian economy also means that the Canadian dollar should drop.  The Federal Government is attempting to push the dollar lower by slowing down the housing market.  This slowdown will keep both the dollar and inflation in line. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

New mortgage announcement ... A whole lot of nothing for investors

Below is the release from the government today on their second set of changes to the mortgage lending rules in the past year.  The positive news on this information is that it will have no effect on real estate investors that I have been working with.  This news will effect some investors who are on the fringe, who push the limits with investing. 

The new rules will effect the home buying market.  There are three major changes
1 - on CMHC backed mortgages ammortorization rates will drop from 35 to 30 years (note investors are not buying CMHC backed properties).
2 - On HELOCs (home equity lines of credit) the government will not offer CMHC insurance (note investors are not getting insured lines of credit)
3 - Canadians will be allowed to refinance their homes to a maximum of 85% not the current 90% (note investors are currently using 75% on rental properties)

Ottawa, January 17, 2011


The Harper Government Takes Prudent Action to Support the Long-Term Stability of Canada’s Housing Market

The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, and the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources, today announced prudent adjustments to the rules for government-backed insured mortgages to support the long-term stability of Canada’s housing market and support hard-working Canadian families saving through home ownership.

“Canada’s well-regulated housing sector has been an important strength that allowed us to avoid the mistakes of other countries and helped protect us from the worst of the recent global recession,” said Minister Flaherty. “The prudent measures announced today build on that advantage by encouraging hard-working Canadian families to save by investing in their homes and future.”

“The economy continues to be our Government’s top priority,” continued Minister Paradis. “Our Government will continue to take the necessary actions to ensure stability and economic certainty in Canada’s housing market.”

The new measures:
•Reduce the maximum amortization period to 30 years from 35 years for new government-backed insured mortgages with loan-to-value ratios of more than 80 per cent. This will significantly reduce the total interest payments Canadian families make on their mortgages, allow Canadian families to build up equity in their homes more quickly, and help Canadians pay off their mortgages before they retire.
•Lower the maximum amount Canadians can borrow in refinancing their mortgages to 85 per cent from 90 per cent of the value of their homes. This will promote saving through home ownership and limit the repackaging of consumer debt into mortgages guaranteed by taxpayers.
•Withdraw government insurance backing on lines of credit secured by homes, such as home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs. This will ensure that risks associated with consumer debt products used to borrow funds unrelated to house purchases are managed by the financial institutions and not borne by taxpayers.

Our Government’s ongoing monitoring and sound underlying supervisory regime, along with the traditionally cautious approach taken by Canadian financial institutions to mortgage lending, have allowed Canada to maintain strong and secure housing and mortgage markets.

The adjustments to the mortgage insurance guarantee framework will come into force on March 18, 2011. The withdrawal of government insurance backing on lines of credit secured by homes will come into force on April 18, 2011.

For the e-copy of document, please click here

Sunday, January 16, 2011

$20,000 Increase by end of February

As a special Bennett Inside Information, our "legal" inside trading, there is a building in Ottawa that will be raising prices by $20,000 before the end of February.  For all those people thinking about pre-construction purchases, this is opportunity knocking.

Units start as low as $266,900 and deposits are 15% of the purchase price.

Let me know asap if you are interested, as there are a limited number of opportunities.  The vendor will raise the prices once he reaches a number of sales or his chosen date in February.

You can email me here ...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Right and wrong with rates

Lately, there has been a lot on the new and media about rates and debt levels of Canadians.  Finance minister Flaherty has daily been hammering Canadians into believing the debt levels are too high and that rates are going to soar.  According to his reports, when this happens, we will all be bankrupt and destitute.  I am not a big fan of his scare tactics, but I also think he is functioning on the "conservative side". 

The experts are now saying rate increases will happen at the earliest in July 2011 and will be a quarter point increase or less.  There could be quarterly increases afterwards of 0.25% or less.

I think the leading economic indicator we have to follow is US unemployment.  Until we start to see consistent drops in US unemployment, we will not see the US fed increase their lending rates. 

The problem for Canada is our soaring dollar.  For the manufactoring sectors, the dollar is best under $0.90 USD.  Canadian government controls monetary policy, that influences the exchange rate.  The simplest form is buying up surplus Canadian dollars or selling off Canadian dollars to the marketplace.  Less dollars available make them more desirable, more dollars makes them less desirable.

The second is interest rate policies.  Right now, the interest rate in Canada is higher than in the United States (particularly after each country’s rate of inflation is taken into account). This means that lenders can get a higher rate of return for lending in Canada than in the United States. In order to take advantage of this higher rate of return, international investors will shift their portfolios (for example, government bonds) from the United States to Canada.

These sorts of shifts cause an increase in demand for Canadian dollars. In order to buy Canadian government bonds, investors first have to purchase Canadian dollars; the result is an increase in the demand for Canadian currency. Meanwhile, the demand for the US currency would fall as investors divest themselves of US government bonds in order to reinvest that money in Canada, where they can gain a higher rate of return. The overall result: a rise in the value of the Canadian currency relative to its US counterpart.

As such, the Bank of Canada can attempt to influence Canadian dollar exchange rates by manipulating the interest rates. If the Bank wishes to stop or slow a drop in the value of the Canadian dollar, it may raise interest rates to levels higher than in other nations; this, in turn can spur investment in Canada relative to other nations and demand for the dollar. Conversely, if the Bank wishes to stop or slow a rise in the value of the dollar, it can do so by lowering interest rates below other countries, thus causing lower relative investment and demand for the dollar.

The other consideration is inflation.  A bottle of pop in the 1950s was $0.10, now a bottle of pop is $1.50 meaning pop has experienced a 15x inflation.  Canada aims for 2% annually.  In order to control inflation, the Bank of Canada actively pursues inflation targets, and does so by manipulating interest rates (or the cost of borrowing) and consumers' spending habits.  Low inflation increases demand for investing in Canada and high inflation disusades investing in Canada. 

As you can see, mortgage rates are a confusing thing to figure out.  Simply raising rates in one area, can be counter productive in other areas.  Throw in that monetary policy from Barrack Obama seems to be leading into the US flooding the market with Greenbacks, it is unlikely to see the USD climbing in the near future. 

I think as an investor in Canada, I would watch rates closely.  I would stay variable at this point.  Every month you lock in on the front end, is a month you miss out on the back end.  Think of it this way, you are currently paying 2 to 4% right now, in 5 years rates could be as high as 7 to 9%.  Imagine the difference if you give up 6 months or a year at 3% and get to pay 9% on the backend for that period.

Now that you are totally confused, and still wondering what to do, let me be more simple.  I think the short term is to remain variable.  Once US unemployment starts to drop, I think it will be time to watch very closely the idea of converting to a closed rate. 

Never in the history of mortgages has a 5 year closed mortgage outperformed a 5 year variable mortgage.  I think at some point in the future, I we will see one period like this as we adjust through the US financing crisis.

One point of difference that I would like to cover ... remember, variable mortgages fluctuate in relationship to prime lending rates.  So if you can get a prime - 0.5% mortgage and current fixed mortgage rates are 3.89% that means prime would have to reach 4.39%, whereas right now prime is 3%. 

That means an increase in rates of 1.89%.  Usually the rates increase by 0.25% per quarter, so we are looking at a minimum of 8 quarters, or two years before variable rates equal fixed rates.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

US real estate investment

I am very excited today, I am finally able to start the process of investing in USA real estate.  I have refinanced some properties and changed some other items and freed up some cash to move down to the Phoenix, Arizona.

Today, I completed my transfer of money to the US, to buy a property in Phoenix, Arizona.  I have used a currency exchange company contact, Annelies, who got me an amazing deal.  She can save 4 to 10% on the currency exchange over going to a bank.

By Friday, my money will arrive in an escrow account in Phoenix, making me ready to buy a home next week.  Very, very excited!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Inexpensive changes to make before your potential renter sees the property

Has your tenant left and your unit is vacant? Have some time to do some cost effective renovating?

Better yet, are you selling the unit and want to present it in the best light possible?

Try these 10 quick fix solutions to upgrade your property quickly and for a low cost.

1. New light switch plates/plug in covers (and switches)
Switch plates only cost about $0.50 each and are a quick fix item, taking mere minutes per switch plate. This gives the place a really clean look and gets rid of older, cracked and painted on switch plates. New buyers (or renters) look at minor details as indicators of major problems.

2. New Doors
Something else that really spruces up your home is new doors. If you have generic brown doors, you might want to consider replacing them with white doors. If you choose a basic door with a hollow core, it’s about twenty dollars, and it will come pre hung and pre primed. If you spend just ten dollars more, you can get the very stylish coloniol doors with six panels. For a remodel, it’s worth it to spend the extra ten dollars. If it’s for a rental, flat panel is fine, but make sure they are painted a crisp white, like POLAR BEAR WHITE.

3. New Handles
Along with giving the house new doors, it’s a good idea to put new handles on them. After all, what’s the good in putting new doors up if you are going leave the old handles on them? Nice, new chrome handles cost about ten dollars apiece at Rona. Having uniform handles throughout looks more impressive, as a mismash is another indicator of the quality of the property.

4. Current Trim
The inside of the rental house may not need a new coat of paint, but trim can always use new paint. If you use a bright white semi-gloss (Polar Bear White), you won’t go wrong. Of course, if you notice that your trim is the old style 2 and ¼ inch baseboard, going with a newer, more stylish colonial baseboard is the ticket. Don’t just paint it but replace it. Hire a professional to make this happen, and consider crown molding for the living room and entry way to really impresses buyers.

5. Front door
One thing that can be a real turnoff for potential buyers is an unattractive front door, and it throws the whole look of the house off. Taking the time to paint and thoroughly clean your front door is often all it needs. On brick homes, having a contractor put a nice wood trim package around the door can take the entry from drab to fabulous. Remember, tenants and buyers have to get through the door before they can ever choose your property.

6. Foyer floor
Many homes today, have front entry floors that are vinyl tile or linoleum floors. Going to Home Depot, you can take a class on tiling and replace that front entry quickly and professionally for little cash. This will make the place feel more modern. For about a hundred dollars you can cover an area that is 8’ x 8’ with very nice twelve inch tile.

7. Bathroom changes
If you want to make an impression in the bathroom, buy a very nice shower curtain and shower curtain rod, and put it in your bathroom. For a nice curtain and rod, they cost about forty dollars. A must do is pull out all the old caulking and recaulk the seals around the bathroom tub. It is unsightly to look at a black mould trim on a nice bathtub. For a bathroom (and really the whole house remember – CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN)

Replacing an old toilet or at least the seat is a quick fix that everyone will appreciate!

8. Kitchen modifications
Go into the kitchen and look around to see what the cabinets and the faucet look like. You don’t need to replace the cabinets – that can get to be expensive and you are trying to save money. But another good option is to paint them. Consider painting brown cabinets white, and give them plastic knobs in different colors to break up the white. If you are looking to save money, simply new knobs and a new counter top are quick and easy fixes. Since you took a tiling course, consider a backsplash in the kitchen.

You might also want to consider replacing the faucet in the kitchen, to give another great impression of your house. They can cost up to $150, but you also can get lucky and find ones that are on clearance.

Appliances also say a lot about your place. Craigslist and Kijiji have good deals on used appliances. Getting rid of the ancient fridge has a huge effect on the potential buyers.

9. Got mail?
Something that is often overlooked but is an inexpensive way to make a house look very nice is a new mailbox. Have fun choosing one, and be creative with it. Nice mailboxes can cost about thirty five dollars. Buyers will definitely take notice of your house.

While outside, it definitely doesn’t hurt to weed the flower beds, spray wash the front of the house and add some planting.

10. Clean the house thoroughly
I have mentioned it a few times, but there is no substitute for cleanliness. A couple of hours of time, some elbow grease and cleaning products can make a world of a difference. Each room, appliances and fixtures needs to be cleaned. Don’t forget the carpet, a good cleaning can bring a tired old carpet back to life.

Paint your house a nice neutral like CHOCOLATE FROTH, one colour throughout.  Paint all doors, trim and ceilings a bright white (Polar Bear White).  Do not paint the walls of your home stark white.  A bit of colour makes the rental apartment feel like a home, not a rental.  Usually, your tenants will treat the property better, if you show it some respect first. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

“Greg: I am advised that the transaction has closed; our thanks to you for your assistance and professionalism throughout.”

“Greg, you’re the best. Thank you so much for taking the time to do the research and providing us with these informative e-mails. Much appreciated.”