Buying a Starter Home: What to Know

Buying a starter home is a simultaneously overwhelming and exciting task. For many young Canadians, it represents a certain threshold, and is still considered a coveted milestone for many. If you’re starting your search for a starter home, here’s what you absolutely need to know:

Work with an agent who specializes in first-time buyers. An agent who knows and empathizes with your situation is crucial. Unlike a seasoned buyer, this will be your first time hearing certain terms, understanding certain financial and home-buying policies, and managing your emotions as you view homes and negotiate the buying process. A solid agent on your side is key!

You’ll never hit everything on your “must-have” list. Truthfully, this advice applies to nearly every buyer, but it can be a bit of a shock for first-timers. While it’s good to search with some parameters in mind, buy the best you can afford and know that a “starter home” likely means you’ll be moving on to bigger and better things. Are the granite countertops really a deal-breaker?

Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting your financials in order first is a key part of the search process. Not only does this give you a sense of what you can afford, but when it comes to making an offer, a pre-approved mortgage could be the difference between your offer and someone else’s. If you’re a first-time buyer, it might be best to go through a mortgage broker rather than directly through a bank, as a broker will have more options for you.

Consider buying outside the city. Home prices are higher in urban centers. If you’re finding that home prices in cities might significantly cut into your lifestyle, consider opting for a home outside the core that’s close to transit, which will give you the best of both worlds.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

10 Words to Help You Sell Quicker

Marketing your home positively is a mish-mash of many things; however, studies have shown that Canadians respond to certain words more readily than they do to others. Not only can using the right words help you sell quicker, it may also help you sell for more money.

When you and your REALTOR sit down to discuss the marketing strategy for your home, you might want to think about incorporating some of these keywords when advertising:

Luxurious. The word rolls off the tongue as smoothly as silk. You can certainly showcase something in your home using this descriptive word. How about a luxurious bath?

Impeccable. Its a clean word. It evokes a stately majesty"even if youre selling a three-bedroom bungalow.

Captivating. This is a perfect adjective for a lovely garden. If you were the purchaser, could you envision yourself sitting in a yard surrounded by captivating flowers?

Landscaped. Do a little yard work, plant some flowers and shrubs and, suddenly, your yard is beautifully landscaped. Its a word that creates a positive image for a purchaser.

Upgraded. This word widens the eyes of buyers. Anything that has been given a new lease on life in a home theyre thinking of buying means more money in their pockets.

Tile. Cool, shiny, sleek and clean"that is the feeling tile invokes. Surely, you have tile in some areas of your home. Tile is modern and trendy. Its a great word to incorporate into any ads.

Spotless. This is the cousin of impeccable. Buyers want to think of themselves as living in a fresh, clean home. Theres nothing better than spotless to describe that.

Gentle. If you use this to describe the surroundings, its perfect. In fact, listings that incorporated the word gentle in some way sold for 2.3 per cent more, on average, than what was expected, according to a recent study.

Stainless. Expect to get five per cent more than you thought for your home when buyers see the word stainless in some part of the listing or ad. Again, it conjures up images of strength, modernity and sleekness.

Beautiful. You can always find something that is truly beautiful about your home. Beautiful memories, for one. What buyer wouldnt think about making beautiful, new memories in their new home?

Published with permission from RISMedia.

3 Ways to Reduce Stress While Moving

Ugh. Moving, right? Packing, coordinating, updating contacts and everything that goes along with it is time consuming in itself. Managing to squeeze it all in when you have a full-time job or kids to take care of? Sometimes it seems impossible! The trick is to plan ahead and reframe your thinking. Here are some of our best tips for making a move as fun and stress-free as possible.

Choose the Right Moving Company
Sure, you could hire a guy with a truck off Craigslist and laugh to yourself about how much money youre saving on movers. But the last thing you need to worry about is being caught in a moving scam, having your items damaged or dealing with someone who doesnt prioritize timeliness on a day when time really is of the essence. Make the experience smoother by hiring a professional company. This doesnt have to be the most expensive company you can find, but you should feel totally confident that theyll be on time, value your patronage and have a system that includes walk-throughs, checklists and extra packing measures for your fragile or awkward items.

Start Packing Early
As soon as you have a move-out day confirmed, begin packing. Its one of those tasks that sneaks up on you, so starting early can really be a stress-reliever. The closer you are to your move-out day, the more you’ll have to coordinate as it is! To make things easier, start with out-of-season items, such as holiday decorations or camping gear, and things that are easy to pack, like clothing and textiles you know you wont need for a little while. Make it a rule to do a little bit each day and this will really take a load off as the date gets closer.

Think of It as a Treasure Hunt
This works really well if youre moving with kids in tow, but lets face it, its a fun option for people of any age. Think of the entire moving process as a process with tasks, and an amazing end goal"your new home! Make a map or list of things you need to do, like update your address, obtain your keys, pack and clean. Not only does this give you a sense of accomplishment after completing each task, but its far easier to manage when you break a big process like this down into steps. With any luck, youll be at the finish line soon, where you can enjoy the results of your labour in your brand-new space!

Published with permission from RISMedia.

6 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

The latest data from Statistics Canada says that one in four Canadians cite stress as the reason for leaving a job. In fact, 73 per cent of all working adults between the ages of 20 and 64 report having some stress.

StatsCan also reports that 23 per cent of people older than 15 say most days are “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressful, and that number escalates to 30 per cent among those aged 35 – 54.

If you’re feeling a little frazzled lately, utilizing these six helpful tips for stress and anxiety relief may mean the difference between feeling like you’re walking around with a cloud over you, or feeling as though everything will be all right.

Couch potato no more. You might not feel like leaping around, but moving even just a little will help you feel better. You might want to try something gentle like yoga or Tai Chi. Walking around the block may help you to clear your thoughts"fresh air can do wonders.

The importance of “me” time. There’s an old adage that says, “if you don’t take care of yourself, you will be in no shape to take care of anyone or anything else.” Taking time for yourself is not selfish, it’s selfless. If you have kids, ask someone to watch them for a while. Have a soak in a warm bath, drink a hot cup of tea or have a glass of wine, watch your favourite movie or read that book you’ve been meaning to for so long.

Lend a helping hand. Helping others will give you a wonderful, warm sense of accomplishment. Be kind to someone who is in need or who is having a rough time personally. Helping those who are in situations worse than yours will help put your problems into perspective.

Accept those things you can’t change. Sometimes you just don’t have control over stuff, and that’s okay. Just let it go and don’t worry about it. Worrying is fruitless. Simply trust that events will unfold in a way that is good for you and others, and know that it will always work out in the end.

Eat well and get enough rest. Eating food that nourishes your body rather than filling it with junk will definitely help you feel better. So, too, will getting a good night’s sleep. Make sure the room is dark enough, quiet and on the cooler side.

The social support fix. Spending time with people you love and who make you laugh will not only enrich your life, but will also help relieve stress and anxiety. Hugs and laughter will encourage you to make positive decisions for yourself, helping you stay away from things that will only worsen the situation.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

5 Canadian Parks You Should Visit

Living in Canada is a privilege that means you have access to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world without leaving the country. Its always hard to decide where to spend your vacation time, but here are a few parks you should consider making the trek to.

Banff National Park, Alberta
Canadas first national park is a well-known landmark for good reason. Opening back in 1885, its known for incredible views of the Rockies, jewel-toned lakes and a spectacular array of animals creating a soundtrack youll want to record and take home. While Lake Louise is on every tourists’ list, dont miss out on Lake Minnewanka while youre there.

Kluane National Park, Yukon
While adventure travelers often think of visiting Alaska for its natural beauty, its Canadian neighbor is just as majestic. Visit Kluane to experience the highest peak in Canada"20,000-foot Mount Logan. While there, you will also experience the largest non-polar ice field in the world, which the most adventurous can experience up close and personal through a basecamp trek.

Prince Edward Island National Park, PEI
Find the biggest sand dunes in PEI in the Greenwich region of the park, and then head to Cavendish, best known for inspiring the setting of L.M. Montgomerys Anne of Green Gables with its red sandstone cliffs and sandy beaches.

Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario
Take a hike along the rugged Georgian Bay Trail to get to this parks beloved landmark, the Grotto"a wide mouthed cave filled with crystal waters. You can camp here all year long, and while youre there, take the ferry to Fathom Five national marine park"home of many underwater wrecks you can easily see while snorkeling.

Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
Take a trip to the southern edge of Vancouver Island to this Pacific Ocean-facing park for beaches, rainforests, trails and whale watching. Grey, humpback and killer whales can be seen from the beach. If you are hoping to explore the rugged 45-mile West Coast Trail, know that its not for beginners"tide-table and map reading skills are required.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

The 42nd Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival

Do you have plans from February 22 to March 1? If not, here's a treat if you're a wine lover!

With all the various events happening this love month, it’s a shame if you can’t attend one! You know how much I love wine! So, why not go out and join in on one of Canada’s oldest events of its kind in the world.

2020 marks the 42nd year of the Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival. Can you believe it? The wine selection is fantastic and the participants have been carefully chosen. With over 775+ wines available for sampling, you won’t go out empty-handed! Get to understand different cultures by the flavour of their wine. Move from one country/region simply by moving from one tasting room to another.

Oh and if you don't have a date for Valentine’s Day, this may be a chance to meet someone special over a glass of wine! Don’t wait any longer! Visit and grab a ticket.

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