Heritage Homes - Own A Piece Of Local History!

I have a wonderful Heritage Home listed for sale right now, built in 1885 & full of beautiful original details. I admired the house from afar long before I met the family who has lived there for over 40yrs.

One of the most common comments I hear when people find out that it's a designated heritage property is  "oh, so you can't make any changes to it"... and that's just not true.

In this particular home there is a list of features which are protected under the designation, and those features

Radon Gas & Your Home

I was watching the news last week when a segment came on about Radon Gas & the latest awareness campaign around it when it comes to our homes.

I must admit that I didn't know that much about it & I was curious as to why it was suddenly in the media again. In my line of work it's important to keep up-to-date on issues affecting the homes in our area. Being able to direct my clients to resources & professionals in various fields so that they can make the most informed decisions possible is key to protecting their interests.

What is Radon? 

Radon is a colourless, odourless gas that can seep up from the ground into your basement if you live in an area with a high concentration of uranium. Uranium is a naturally occurring element found in rocks, soil & water. 

The Canadian Cancer Society calls it a silent killer

Kitec Plumbing & What YOU Need To Know!

The type of plumbing in a house isn't usually top of mind when you're house hunting but maybe it should be from now on!
We're already on the lookout for things like knob & tube & aluminum wiring, UFFI, asbestos, mold, and now we can add Kitec plumbing to the list.

What is Kitec Plumbing? Kitec consists of flexible aluminium pipe between an inner and outer layer of plastic pipe (PEX pipe) with brass fittings. Marketed as a cheaper and easy-to-install alternative

4 Really Cool Things To Do in Durham This Summer!

Looking for something a little different to do this summer? No need to travel somewhere else because we've got some really cool places to check out right here in the Durham region!

How about an aerial adventure at the Tree-Top Eco Adventure Park in the beautiful Oak Ridges Moraine? It's just a short drive North on Simcoe St to try your hand at this cool obstacle course which includes zip lining, suspended bridges, nets, swinging logs, surf boards and more!

3 Must-Try Foodie Finds In Durham

I was driving through Ajax last week on my way back from showing a beautiful, but sadly too-small home to my clients when I realized that it was 2:30 in the afternoon & I hadn't eaten yet - like at all! 3 large coffees, yes, but actual food, sadly, no. Happens all the time...

So I was running through the drive thru options in my mind when I remembered a colleague posted several months ago about this incredible grilled cheese sandwich he had at a little cheese shop in Ajax....

289 Kingston Rd E, just east of Salem Rd.
And incredible it was!

Smokey Applewood Cheddar with Red Onion Marmalade

New Road Rules + PanAm in Durham

So originally this post was going to talk about road issues here in the Durham region but I got a little side-tracked by the PanAm games...sorry about that! :)

Earlier this month an amendment was passed here in Ontario to the Highway Traffic Act (Bill31) which I either wasn't paying much attention to or that they haven't widely advertised about yet so when I came across this picture on Facebook, I was all like WHATTTTT?

Drinking a beverage? Smoking? Arguing with kids? COULD result in a charge? Like randomly? Does it depend on the Officer's mood that day? Anyways, that sure got my attention! So off to Google I went...

5 Online Finds That Are Rocking My World!

The internet is awesome! Not only can you find great things like my blog on it ;) but pretty much anything else your heart desires...including tons of tips, tricks & solutions to make your life easier!

Here are my current top 5 that I think are....

5. My Deck Re-Finishing Fiasco - Now this one is Rocking My World in a BAD way...2yrs ago I proudly revealed my newly refurbished deck on my Facebook page. I had found a step by step guide on Pinterest, including what specific products to use, and when I was done, it looked amazing! To this day, it's still my most re-pinned post on that platform (you can check out all my Pinterest boards HERE). The following spring it looked like a nightmare :(

Everything Is Overpriced.

Until It's Not.

So says the super-smart, ever-inciteful Seth Godin in his most recent blog post... and which I think sums up the Spring Market we've just had, perfectly.

                                      (Image: Rhett Maxwell)

We've seen a tremendous jump in home prices in the first half of 2015, and only time will tell where we'll finish up at, come the end of the year. 

From the June/15 Bulletin of the Durham Region Association of REALTORS® (DRAR):

" The average price of a detached home in Durham
Region reached $502,079 in May 2015. In May
2014, detached homes sold for an average of
$428,914, which demonstrates a year-over-year
increase of over 17 per cent. The average price
for all home types in Durham was $449,837 last
month, an increase of 15.1 per cent compared to
the same period last year. "

The general consensus seems to be that this is the
"new normal" here in the Durham region.

We Have Garbage Police? Really?

I was driving around last week, listening to NEWSTALK 1010 & the topic was the Garbage Police we have here in the Durham Region.

And I was like...WHAT??? Our tax dollars go towards paying the salary of not 1 but 2 public sector workers whose job it is to stop so-called "scavengers" from removing items from recycling bins?

These By-Law Compliance Officers take video of the "offenses", maintain a database of these "scavengers" including pictures of them & issue fines & warnings.  

The Region's position is " Stopping scavengers from going through blue boxes ensures the Region isn’t losing money. That helps keep property taxes down...Taking items out of a blue box is also taking money out of the Region’s coffers. Items collected are sold and the money offsets collection costs.“It’s really an effort to keep taxes down,”  

You can read more in a local article published last week

APPRAISAL...Real Estate's New Dirty Word?

Cheers Leonardo! I'll drink to that! ;)

Appraisals are not a new thing & they're not really a dirty word either but they are certainly striking fear in the hearts & minds of Buyers & Sellers alike these days!

That goes double for us REALTORS® too as we try to advise these Buyers & Sellers....

As a Buyer, if you offer to pay too much, then you run the risk of the house not appraising & having to come up with the difference between what you promised to pay & what your Lender is willing to loan you on the property.

If you're a Seller who's just been offered a big boatload of money for your home, before you ask where to sign, make sure you ask about the Buyer's ability to cover any shortfalls

True House Confessions

1. My parents moved us around a lot when I was growing up...my Mom was a REALTOR® & together they flipped houses in the 80's until the market went south...a lot of my childhood memories are tied up in this house in the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto...

 The house was black & white when we owned it

Which now looks like this & sold just last year for 1.7million...

 Beautiful remodel, inside & out!

Funny how when I look at this picture it seems so much smaller than the image in my head :) I remember that kids from school used to make fun of the house & said it looked like a barn & so I hated it & begged my parents to sell it, lol! .

2. My (now) husband & I used to move around constantly as well, from one end of Toronto to the other but once we moved out to the Durham region we finally put down roots & we've lived in our current home for almost 17yrs. It was really important to me that once we had kids that we stay put...clearly some childhood issues attached to this, lol! In any case, the minute we walked into it we knew it was the one! I wanted stability & we certainly got that, we've had the same neighbours on either side of us since we moved in & houses rarely go up for sale on our street.

3. I know how my clients feel when they don't get the home they want...the first house we put an offer on was already sold conditionally (on the sale of the purchaser's property) when we found it & I was inconsolable when the buyers firmed up rather than lose it to us...we were offering more money but the other buyers had the right of first refusal. I got the bad news while I was at work & remember sitting at my desk crying over that huge master bedroom (with a large walk-in closet!) & the inground pool...the rest of the house was meh, lol...A couple of years later I signed up for folk art painting classes & guess where they were held? You got it...at that house! Too funny!

4.  I love my house but 2 things I wish for are a front porch & a walk-in closet. Our 2nd floor could be enlarged to accommodate changes up there but I don't think it makes sense from a cost/return perspective in our case. It's important to understand that over-improving your home may not be the wisest choice...always consult a professional, preferably a specialist in your neighbourhood (if I can't help you then I can definitely recommend someone who can!), before you sink big bucks into a project like that!

Can you hear the angels singing or is that just me? ;)

 5. One of our friends nick-named it the House of Love because there was wall paper in the family room with hearts on it...I loved that wall paper & the nickname ....it's gone now..not the love, just the wallpaper, lol! ;)

The House of Love circa 2002 :)

 6. As much as we've done to the house over the years, there's a never ending to-do list of stuff that still NEEDS to get done or worse RE-DONE or just that I WANT to do...cue the song "If I Had A Million Dollars..."

 7. I ran a successful daycare in our home when my kids were younger...Kelly's Kids Home Daycare ROCKED & you might have even caught a glimpse of it on TV! Somewhere on the internet there is still a listing for my daycare services & I get contacted a few times a year to see if I have any open spots...click the link to see my 15secs of fame when I was asked to be a guest "expert" on the show 'Til Debt Do Us Part

Since this IS true confession time, even though a number of years have passed now, I still have a couple of rooms down in the basement jammed full of daycare stuff, as you can see from the picture, I had A LOT of stuff...must get back to "project de-daycare" soon, lol!

8. I still work from home these days & our thermostat is programmed to go down to 68°during the day....I bundle up rather than turn up the heat because I'm cheap...drives my husband crazy if he happens to be home on a week day!

9. If we ever decide to take the plunge & move, I can't bear the thought of selling the house, I think I would rather rent out our current house than sell it....Shhhh, don't tell my husband! ;) And when it comes to moving, my favourite style of home used to be a Victorian but now it's a split level beauty like you'd find up in the 'Glens in Oshawa...I just love the architecture & the open floor plans...think Brady Bunch house!  I can't find a picture I like right now but next time I have a house crush I'll definitely post about it!

10. Even though I use professional staging services, I will often grab stuff from my own house to use for finishing touches on my listings...my family has gotten used to coming home to find empty spots on the walls or in rooms & not thinking we've been robbed, lol! I buy stuff as well & have amassed quite the collection of staging inventory that I cycle through both my own house & my clients'. My staging stuff is warring for space with the daycare stuff so really something's gotta give, lol! :)

How about YOU? Have any fun (or not so fun) True House Confessions to share? I'd love to hear them! :)

Have a fabulous day!

Is Your Tenant Killing Your Sale? Revisted...

I've written on this subject before, you can find it HERE 

What sparked a new incarnation for this title was a home I showed my client a few days ago...located in a desirable neighbourhood where there are not any similar homes on the market in the same price range & there hasn't been for some time.

The house is tenanted & as it so often happens when you're dealing with tenants, it took 3 tries plus a call to the listing agent in order to get an appointment confirmed to view it.

First, I'm going to do a run down (pun intended!) of the current state of the house & then what my recommendations would be for an owner to achieve a successful sale in this situation. And by successful I mean, how they could maximize the value of their investment property.

Current State Of Affairs:

-Exterior shows a lot of deferred maintenance with peeling paint in some areas, bad paint jobs in others (including overspray on the bricks), failing retaining wall & decking that needs to be replaced in both the front & the back.

-Inside is a bit of a blur with just the red flags standing out...clutter, locked rooms, surveillance cameras overseeing both the interior & exterior of the home, nausea-inducing air fresheners attempting to camouflage the smell of pot & a general sense of unease with the tenants looking on (they didn't leave for the showing) & a desire to get out of there as soon as possible!

What I'd do:

-Since the tenant has already given notice, I'd wait until they moved out

-I'd have a full crew lined up to give the place an overhaul as soon as they left...and I wouldn't worry about the lost rental income while that was being done. A full crew so that the turnaround time was as quick as possible to get it ready to go on the market

-Deferred maintenance issues would get priority & then inside, a fresh coat of paint throughout & a facelift for the kitchen

-A thorough cleaning, staging & well thought out marketing plan

-Hit the market with a bang

How To Do It:

-Work with a professional! Get advice on how to proceed from a REALTOR® who knows the target demographic, their expectations & home values in that specific neighbourhood, for that particular style of house.

-Most REALTORS® will have trusted resources they work with on a regular basis that they can recommend to help you execute the plan

-I'm not talking about sinking a ton of money into this project so don't get carried away & overspend...this comes back to working with a professional & getting the right advice! 

-If you don't have the funds available to do this work...beg, steal or borrow them because it's THAT important!

-When the work is complete, be confident that you have done what you can to maximize the value of this asset & that the money you have spent will make a significant difference to your bottom line on closing day!

So back to the property in question, in it's current state...the owners WILL make money simply through the natural appreciation of the property, due to the overall appreciation in the market in the time that they've owned the home. But how much money COULD they have made if they'd chosen to go with the premise of spend a little money in order to make a LOT of money? We won't know THAT until we see a selling price & days on market for this property and be able to compare it to the recent sale of a similar property in the neighbourhood that HAS been maximized....


The original post was written at the height of the spring market, at a time when inventory was very tight & we were seeing tremendous price growth for this type of home....3 or more bedrooms, 3 or more bathrooms & a double car garage. 

The home that I wrote about took 25 days on the market to sell, when the average was 11 days, and sold for $41,000 less than the ONE & ONLY other comparable home that came on the market in that very desirable neighbourhood in those 25 days. And that one & only home that sold had 1 less bathroom, an unfinished basement & was not highly upgraded. And it's not like they pulled out all the stops either in terms of presentation - vacant, no staging - just an ok house on a nice street in a nice neighbourhood. And somebody was willing to pay $41,000 more for that one then have to deal with the issues associated with the first one.

The bottom line is spending between $5,000-$10,000 would have made them $30,000 or more...more because of the additional features the subject property had plus the very real difference that staging makes in a selling price.

So there you have it, real world results. There are certain principles in real estate that apply regardless of what the market is doing - don't make the same mistakes that this seller did & leave a LOT of money on the table!

Have a fabulous day!

4Bdrm/3Bath Homes in North Oshawa...Where Art Thou????



open floor plan with large kitchen
double garage
under $450k
close to Pierre Elliott Trudeau PS
 Norman G. Powers PS

I'm working with a fantastic family & we've had no luck so far 
finding them their next home! 

If you live up in the Grandview & Taunton area then perhaps I've already knocked on your door with a flyer that looks very similar to this, but I thought I'd put the power of social media to work for us in addition to pounding the pavement in person!

My clients are well qualified, motivated & make excellent neighbours!

If you or someone you know is thinking about selling a home
that matches their wishlist then  

Kelly Bayne
(Full Contact Details - Top Right Side Of This Page)

~Not Intended To Solicit Those Already Under Broker Contract To Buy Or Sell~
*Each Office Independently Owned & Operated

Do You REALLY Know What Your Home Is Worth?

You know the expression "comparing apples to oranges", right? Well, since Real Estate it's not a fruit salad my analogies to go with this picture all seemed a little silly...just like comparing houses that don't share the same characteristics & saying they have the same value!

A colleague & I had a booth at the Spring Home Show in Oshawa this weekend...I worked the booth on Saturday with Mortgage Broker Extraordinaire Sandy Cockburn & it was a very cool experience! It was a crazy long day (10 hours!!!) but what could be more fun than to spend an entire day talking about something you're passionate about! We looked up home values, gave suggestions on smart renos to focus on, gave advice on financing & improving credit scores and answered a ton of other real estate related questions as well!

One reoccurring theme that I heard from people as they passed by was "I already know what my home is worth, I stay on top of what's happening in my neighbourhood".... Now sometimes they said that because they just didn't want to stop to talk to us but, when I had the chance to dig a little deeper, I found that many were not comparing like with like! Like comparing apples to oranges...yes they're both fruit, but they're also completely different fruit...with different flavours, sizes & characteristics...just like houses! See what I did there? So lame, lol... ;)

If you're comparing a home that hasn't been upgraded to one that has been, then you're not getting an accurate picture...one has a finished basement & the other doesn't? High end finishes vs builder grade? Differences in square footage or lot size & the list goes on...you need to make adjustments for all of those things! You also need to be able to identify the value of those differences in the current marketplace in order to make the adjustments! Different styles of homes have different values as well, bungalows are a good example of this! However, a raised bungalow vs a traditional bungalow also has a different value, lol....I'm thinking a separate post on interpreting data might be in order! Stay tuned for that...

So is your home actually worth what you think it is? And how do you find out? Ask a professional! You have a couple of options, one being an Appraisal & the other a Market Evaluation. In most cases, calling a REALTOR®, one who is familiar with your neighbourhood, will be enough to meet your needs...or at least be a good first step before you spend several hundred dollars on a full Appraisal. Be honest about the reasons why you want to know, so that we can give you relevant advice. Neither option should hold you to any obligation beyond the evaluation itself!

If you're just looking for a ballpark figure & don't want to do a formal evaluation, then stop by my booth on Saturday March 28th at the Ajax Spring Home Show & let's talk! Sandy & I will be joining forces once again to answer all your Real Estate & Financing questions!

And last but not least, I held a draw at the show for a $100 gift card to Lowes Home Improvement Store... and the winner is....drum roll...Kelly Bennett from Oshawa! Congrats Kelly! :)

Have a fabulous day!

Buying A Home Near A School - Is It Right For YOU?

Sometimes it is & sometimes it's not, but one thing's for sure, it tops the wishlist for most families that I meet! In theory it seems like a good idea, right? And I'm NOT saying it's a bad idea but there are a few realities to be aware of...

Drop off & Pick Up Times Can Be Chaotic - Try driving past a school near arrival or dismissal times to truly understand how chaotic! Between the crosswalks, cars trying to turn into the school from both directions (with typically only 1 lane in each direction) & just the sheer volume of vehicles, traffic backs up significantly! If your street is a feeder street off of where the school is located then it WILL take you a lot longer to get in & out of your neighbourhood during peak times.

Disregard For Property - If you live on the same street as the school you may have an increase in litter ending up on your property, not to mention your driveway used as a turn around...or worse, a place to park! I know from experience that this can cause increased wear & tear on the driveway. I see it every morning when I drive my son to school & I just shake my head at the lack of respect! You KNOW that if it was happening at their own homes they would be up in arms about it!

Solutions May Be Seasonal Only - Last fall the Municipality of Clarington revamped the road & sidewalk between Courtice SS & Courtice North PS. They widened the road by making these cut-outs (can't seem to find what the official term is) that created enough space for a vehicle to make a u-turn without using someone's driveway. I think they're fantastic & used them up until the snowbanks took over the space....thus making them only a seasonal solution.

Increased Vandalism & Petty Crime - You will find this problem not just around schools but in & around parks, forested areas & ravines as well...when these spaces are unoccupied (evenings, weekends, school breaks) it's the perfect place for kids to gather...get a bunch of bored kids together & it can sometimes lead to stupid pranks or making other poor choices in the neighbourhood.

Noise - And then there's the noise...the crossing guard's whistle, kids playing outside at recess, the school bell (which goes off several times a day), announcements over the PA system, fire drills etc...If you're a shift-worker trying to sleep during the day or someone who works from home then this alone can be a deal breaker!

As I said, I'm not saying it's a bad thing to want to be close to the school that your child(ren) will be attending, my own house backs on to an open field behind a school & it was a key selling feature for us! While we have experienced all of the things I've mentioned (except for the traffic issues), I've never regretted the location. 

One person's dream location may be another's nightmare so I hope that by highlighting some of these realities it will help you make a better informed decision on whether living near a school is right for YOUR family based on YOUR particular lifestyle, needs & circumstances!

Have a fabulous day!

How To Lose A Bidding War In 5 Easy Steps!

In today's tight real estate market here are a few things you can do to pretty much guarantee you to have no shot in a multiple offer situation:

In no particular order...

1. Don't show up - This goes for both the Buyer & the Buyer's agent. Be far away so that getting changes (if needed) to an offer signed off on seems impossible within the various irrevocable deadlines of the other offers. Don't present in person, just be a piece of paper with a number on it.

2. Ask for things that are clearly marked excluded - By all means ignore the Seller's direction as to what's included & what's excluded, that will set your offer apart from the others for sure...apart, like off the table!

3. Choose any old agent...we're all the same after all! -

a) Work with a Buyer's agent who doesn't know what they're doing - Choose a             REALTOR® who doesn't know the market area or how to structure an offer for multiple offers, or who chooses not to present the offer in person & see how well that works for you!

b) Work with a Seller's agent who doesn't know what they're doing - You can't control this one if you're on the Buying side but know that the flip side of Buyers' agents who don't know what they're doing is the Seller's agent who doesn't know what they're doing...who don't follow the rules or even worse don't know what the rules are!

4. Fly by the seat of your pants - Don't worry about pesky details like having your financing in order or your deposit funds liquid...nobody's going to ask about that when they're comparing the merits of several offers to determine which one to work with!

5. Submit an offer that's not properly executed - This is not an offer...period. See #1

This is all tongue-in-cheek of course & keep in mind that you can do everything right & still not have the outcome you're hoping for but these are 5 recently experienced and/or heard about scenarios that will ensure that you do NOT "win" the house you are bidding on!

And in the "be careful what you wish for" category, here's a crazy story out of the US about a woman charged with the felony stalking of a couple that she lost to in a bidding war...read about it HERE

Have a fabulous day!

What The Heck Is Going On Out There?

Whew! It's been such a crazy couple of weeks that it's been hard to settle down, get my thoughts organized & write about what's going on out there right now!

It's been a roller coaster ride of wins & losses, crazy bidding wars (did you hear about the semi that had 25 offers on it in Oshawa? Bonkers!) the Target shutdown, falling oil prices, falling loonie, the Bank of Canada rate cut & now the start of the annual Mortgage rate wars that we always see in late January/February....did I miss anything, lol? Oh ya, and lots of conversations with would-be Sellers if only there was something for them to buy, lol!!

Part of my daily schedule is door knocking in the areas where I've sold homes recently, this month I've been handing out Year-In-Review market information specific to each neighbourhood, plus I'm also canvassing other neighbourhoods where I have Buyers looking for homes... so that means I'm talking to A LOT of people every single day! And the reoccurring theme of those talks is what do all of these things mean for our real estate market here in Durham?????

There's so much conflicting information out there & I certainly don't have a crystal ball but I DO know that things are hopping here right now...lots of Buyers & not a lot of inventory! The mortgage rate wars will continue to fuel Buyer demand & so naturally that's going to keep pushing prices higher! 

Here in Ontario apparently we're feeling richer due to the price of gas (I know that I'm saving about $40 each time I fill up my beast) & we may also see some savings at the grocery store as lower transportation & energy costs for manufacturers & farmers eventually trickle down to the consumer level. It's been suggested that our overall cost of living may actually decrease by 2-3% in general this year. It's certainly not all good news as there are also negative effects in other areas but consumer confidence plays a key role in the overall state of the economy & the good news is it's back on the rise!

The cost of borrowing is also a big factor when it comes to real estate but don't just focus on that rate! What we've seen in the past during these rate wars is that those crazy low rates also have a downside...no flexibility, no portability, high penalties if you have to break your mortgage for any reason etc...Please make sure you're working with a professional! Your best bet is a mortgage broker rather than the person sitting behind the desk at your local branch! A broker will find you the best combination of rate & terms for YOU & YOUR circumstances out of hundreds of lenders & not just the handful of mortgage products that 1 bank is offering.

So we have the fact that we feel richer in our everyday lives, our consumer confidence is on the rise which spurs big ticket spending like houses & cars (this is totally rhyming, lol!!) & high demand coupled with low inventory. It's a wonderful time to be a Seller, that's for sure! But don't get greedy when it comes to your listing price! I've seen a couple of homes recently that started off too high that had no offers come in on offer night! That hurts your bargaining power....we're talking about your largest asset, don't be a cautionary tale for your neighbours! If you haven't already, read my post on pricing your home right the first time HERE

The general consensus out there is that the Spring Market has already sprung...so if this is your year to make a move & you want to talk about getting into the market or how to coordinate a move up or down the property ladder then call or text me at 905-447-4077 or email Kelly@HomeInDurham.ca & put me to work for YOU!

Related Reading:

Multiple Offer Strategies For Buyers

While doing my research for an appointment a few days ago I found that 10 homes have already sold in Courtice so far this year. 5 of them were listed either on January 6th or later & all had sold firm, on average, after 5 days on the market for 103% of the asking price!
Hello Multiple Offers...and further evidence to what I wrote about last week that Google Says January is Hot, Hot, Hot!

So let's talk about multiple offers today!

Let's face it, it's tough being a Buyer these days! Here are a few stories of strategies that I've used for my clients:
Geez...why does YouTube always pick the worst frame to capture...sigh ;)

Ask any REALTOR® to tell you about their war stories & chances are you'll get an earful when it comes to multiple offers!
I've had Buyers tell me that they won't even consider a home that has or could get multiple offers...but in a tight inventory market that's not really realistic. 
Set your boundaries ahead of time & decide what your "No Regrets" offer will be...if it sells for 1 more dollar than that you'll be OK with it because...it's your "No Regrets" offer, lol! And remember that you may only get 1 kick at the can, you won't necessarily get a chance to improve that offer later!

You can't control the whole process but you CAN be in control of your own strategy within the process! In the words of the great Wayne Gretzky "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take".

Happy Househunting! 
(And if you're looking for a great agent to help you through the process...don't hesitate to get in touch!)