Sutton Group West Coast Realty

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Have you made an appointment to see a property only to find out that it's been sold before you even have a chance to get there? Are you finding that your offers are getting beat out by unconditional offers? 

So, what exactly is an unconditional offer? Well, it's essentially purchasing a home 'as is' and agreeing to purchase it without approval from your lender, insurance provider, or having any inspections completed.

Is it risky? Absolutely! However, if you are extremely familiar with the real estate market and have a savings account that you can lean on if you find there are some problems or your lender backs out, then it might be the right move for you.

Here are a few of the risks you should weigh before entering an unconditional contract:


Property Inspection

Without having a property inspection completed, you may miss some serious problems that are unseen to the naked eye. By having a property inspection done, all problems will be found, noted, and give you the opportunity to negotiate the price with the seller or walk away from the deal. A  property inspection will catch asbestos, mold, foundation and structural issues, age and efficiency of HVAC systems, hot water tanks, and much more. 

Title Review

A title review is another extremely important aspect of purchasing a home. You need to be aware of all Rights of Way, Utility Agreements, covenants, etc. that are registered against your property. You also need to be assured that the seller's lawyer undertakes to payout and discharge any mortgages, loans, or liens that are registered against the property. 


The chance that your insurance provider will agree to insure a property without a property inspection, is quite slim. It is, of course, a possibility, but it's likely going to cost you a pretty penny as the premiums will be extremely high. Insurance providers want to be guaranteed that what they are insuring isn't going to cost them money.  


If your lender is unable to fund the loan or can not fund on time, there's a risk that you will lose the home and your deposit. Many lenders will also want to review the property inspection and insurance documents prior to funding the loan, and if you've made an unconditional offer, you might have a hard time getting all these documents together to satisfy your lender. 

5. Under Valuation 

Having an appraisal completed on the property you are purchasing will give you the most reliable idea of what the home is actually worth. If the seller has under-valued the home, this could have negative impacts on you, as your lender will likely lower your approved loan amount, meaning you will need to come up with the difference.

Homes are selling fast and it's hard to keep up with the market these days, so being aware of the risks that come along with an unconditional offer to purchase is extremely important.

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Purchasing a home is an expensive process, there are many costs to factor in such as lawyer fees, insurance, inspections, and much more. 

The thought of skipping a home inspection may cross your mind, it's a few hundred dollars that you may not want to part with. However, having a home inspection completed, can save you a world of problems and money later. 

Below are a few reasons that having a home inspection completed will be worth every penny and possibly save you a lot more in the future!   


A home inspection will find things that you can not see, such as radon, carbon monoxide, mold, and much more. You want your new home to be as safe as possible and without a thorough home inspection, these may not be found. 


If during your home inspection, some problems are found, this gives you an excellent opportunity to negotiate with the sellers. You can request a discounted price or ask that the seller fix/repair the problems prior to closing. 


Many insurance companies will not insure a home without reviewing the home inspection first. They need to be assured that what they are insuring is in good condition. Always check with your insurer prior to declining any inspections. 

Mortgage funding 

If you are depending on your bank to lend you the funds to purchase your new home, then you need to ask them if they require a home inspection. Many lenders will require a review and approval of the inspection prior to releasing any funds to you. 

Future costs

A proper inspection will give you an idea of the age of your roof, hot water tank, HVAC systems, and much more. Each of these will then give you a better idea of how to budget for future repairs and replacements. If you don't have a large savings account but have plenty of upcoming costs that are needed, this may not be the right home for you. 

Deal breakers 

Your home inspection will give you an idea of anything that will be a deal-breaker for you. It may be that the foundation of the home is cracked, or that the roof needs replacement within the next year or two, whatever it may be, the inspection will give you a better understanding of the condition of the home and help you decide if you should move forward with this purchase or find something more suitable to you and your budget.  


We understand the market is quick and homes are often selling before you can even put in an offer, however, we want you to be aware of the risks that you could be taking should you skip a home inspection when purchasing your new home.

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You only have one chance to make a first impression!

Preparing your home for sale in advance will improve your home's marketability, ensure it shows well, and assist in getting you the best price for your home! 

The majority of buyers are looking for move-in-ready homes where they can simply bring their belongings and start enjoying life. They are not looking for fixer-uppers or work projects that need to be completed. 

By taking care of the 5 things mentioned below you will ensure your home is ready to sell, show, and is worth every dollar you're asking for...and more! 

1. Schedule a Deep Clean

You want to showcase your home at its best and scheduling a deep clean will guarantee it's ready for showing. Have the walls washed, drapes or window coverings cleaned, all those hard to reach places, behind and alongside the appliances, and those forgotten corners. Your home may be extremely clean already, but you want to make sure it's sparkling and there are no spaces forgotten.  

2. Refresh the floors

If you have carpeting in any rooms, have them professionally cleaned and stains removed. You should also wash and wax any other flooring until it's shining and looking near new. If you have stains or scuffs on the floor that can not be removed, be upfront with potential buyers about them, don't try to hide them. There's a high probability that they will be willing to work with you on a plan to fix or repair the stains or floors prior to closing. 

3. Fix the broken stuff

This sounds like a no-brainer, but most of us have something broken in our home that's been broken for so long that we've forgotten about it and it doesn't bother us anymore. Don't expect your potential buyers to feel the same way! Leaky faucets, closet doors that don't close properly, cracked electrical covers, and such, are quick, affordable, and easy fixes that can affect the sale and price of your home. 

4. Paint

You don't need to paint the entire house, but freshening up the walls in those high-use areas will make a huge difference. We also suggest putting a fresh coat on the front door and entryway as these are the first area's a buyer will see when viewing your home. If you've painted a specialty room or your child's room in a bright, funky colour, we suggest repainting it to a neutral colour for the sale of your home, as these fun colours may not appeal to all buyers. 

5. Mind the lighting 

Replace any burnt-out lightbulbs, inside and outside! If you have a room or two with poor lighting, buy a couple of lamps to brighten them up.

Also, ensure that each lightswitch is actually connected to a light and works. A buyer doesn't want to be fumbling around with numerous light switches just to get a good look at a room. 



Remember, you will only have one chance to impress potential buyers with your home so you want it looking its very best.

If buyers think there's a lot of work or repairs to do, they will likely move on and your chance of getting them back is extremely slim.

Preparing your home in advance is a huge benefit to you; it's less work at 'showtime', it will increase the value of your home, and it will improve your home's marketability. 

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As we all know, very few things in life are tax-free and, unfortunately, taxes are also part of selling your home. 

The Canada Revenue Agency has been extremely strict recently on home sellers who, the CRA feels, are inappropriately claiming the Principal Residence Exemptions (PRE). In particular, the CRA is focusing on owners who are flipping homes, ie: fixing them up and selling them at a large profit, in a short amount of time. 

If the CRA determines that you are continually buying and selling homes, you can be denied the PRE. In this case, you can be taxed on any profits as 100% taxable business income, rather than 50% taxable capital gains.  

Here is the story of what recently happened with an Ontario couple who bought and sold numerous homes over a 6-year time span. 

Home 1

In August 2006 a couple purchased a home and completed some upgrades such as painting and small renovations. Unfortunately, this home was located near an industrial site and they found the noise and vibrations from the large trucks passing by to be a disturbance and decided to sell. They sold the home just ten months later at a profit of just nearly $70,000.

Home 2

The couple then constructed and moved into their second home in September 2007, however, once again, the couple was unhappy with their neighbourhood and sold the home. The home sold in August 2008 for a profit of over $273,000

Home 3

The couple then moved into another home they had constructed in September 2008. They had no intentions of moving, however, the realtor who had sold them the home, approached them with an offer they couldn't refuse. They sold this home in September 2009 for over $400,000 profit. 

Home 4

They then purchased and moved into a beautiful new Townhouse. The neighbours quickly began to complain about their large work vehicles, parking issues, and social gathers. The couple opted to sell once again and moved in January 2011, this time at a profit of over $54,000. 

Home 5

Later finding what they thought was the perfect home, they moved into home #5. After completing some renovations and landscaping, they realized this was not their dream home and, again, decided to sell in July 2012. The profit from this sale was over $187,000. 

They are now in home 6 and have resided here since its purchase in 2012. 

CRA decision

When reviewing these types of cases, the courts traditionally consider the following factors:

  • The nature of the property sold and how the taxpayers used the property.
  • The length of ownership.
  • The frequency or number of similar transactions by the taxpayer.
  • The work expended on the property.
  • The circumstances giving rise to the sale of the property.
  • The taxpayer's motivation regarding the sale of the property at the time of purchase.

The couple argued that they purchased each home without the intent to sell. They stated that they would not have put so much time, money, and work into each home if their intentions were to sell it shortly thereafter. They also stated that legitimate reasons, beyond their control, had led to the sale of each home. 

The couple also argued that it was too late for the CRA to reassess the taxes on the homes sold in 2007, 2008, and 2009 and they should be considered "statute-barred". Unless it can be proven that a taxpayer made false statements attributable to the misrepresentation arising from carelessness, neglect, or wilful default, the CRA is generally prohibited from reassessing a taxpayer after more than 3 years. 

While the judge agreed that simply because a taxpayer has adopted a position that contradicts the CRA's position it does not mean in itself that the taxpayer has made a misrepresentation that would allow the CRA to reassess after the normal period, therefore, the sales of Homes 1, 2 and 3 were precluded from reassessment. 

The couple was not as lucky with Homes 4 and 5, as the judge was of the view that they had purchased these homes with the primary intention of selling them at a profit. The judge also stated that selling them at a profit may not have been their primary intention, it was certainly a secondary intention in motivating them to purchase both homes. 

The judge ruled that Primary Residence Exemption did not apply to the gains on the sales of homes Homes 4 and 5 and they were to be properly taxable as business income, costing the couple a large sum of money. 

While the rules regarding PRE are not written in stone, there are some guidelines that should be followed. 

Since 2016, sellers are now required to report all dispositions of a principal residence on Schedule 3 of your tax return, withing holding this information may be seen as neglect or wilful default. 

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As if the holidays weren't stressful enough, now we have to deal with a global pandemic too!

The holidays are just around the corner and, unfortunately, so is Covid. Cases on the island and across the country are growing at a rapid rate and we need to be just as careful now as we were during lockdown. 

I've put together a few ideas on how to stay safe while preparing for the holidays this year:  

Online shopping

You and your credit card may disagree on this one, but online shopping is your best friend right now! Online shopping is easy, fast, and can be delivered right to your door all while avoiding contact with another person. I highly suggest checking your local businesses before going to Amazon or eBay, you just might be surprised by some of the deals that you'll find! 

Order Grocery Delivery

Almost every grocery store has online shopping with delivery to your home. You can simply click through the items you'd like on their website and choose a time for delivery. Ordering your groceries online is an excellent way to avoid those impulse purchases too.

Many people are still quite hesitant about online shopping, but from personal experience, I can guarantee that your personal shopper is a pro at picking the best produce and meat products. Also, if the store has run out-of-stock of a certain item, the shopper will call, text, or email you to advise and offer replacement suggestions which you can accept or deny. 

Shopping Local

Supporting our small local businesses is more important now than ever! Even if your favourite local business is closed, try calling them, they may have set up a website for online shopping or be able to offer a gift certificate for future use. Also, remember that local doesn't just mean your immediate neighbourhood, maybe you like a shop that's located in the Cowichan Valley or North Island, these are small businesses too and could use your support!   

Ask people what the Need

You may want to buy your grandma those pink fuzzy slippers and a new tea mug, but she probably has half a dozen of each and doesn't want or need anymore. She may need some help paying the electric bill, or needs some firewood cut and stacked for the winter but is too shy to ask. Instead of the regular bottle of wine you buy for the neighbours, offer to babysit their kids for a night so they can have a night alone.

This year has been a hard one for all of us and many people struggle to ask for help, so this is the perfect time to have a conversation with your loved ones about what they need and helping them in ways that you haven't thought of before. 


We understand that holidays and pandemics don't go hand-in-hand and we need to find a way to navigate through these trying times, we hope these tips can help you! 

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As discussed in our previous post, there are many things that may turn a buyer off from your home and we want to help you make sure you're home is as marketable as possible. 

Below is a continuation of the top 26 things that a buyer may dislike about your home. 

Keep in mind, this is a general list and does not apply to all buyers. 

14. Vanity strip lighting

Unless your buyers are looking for a 1970's style home, then you may want to update the vanity strip lighting in the bathroom. This Hollywood-style strip of bare, round lights around your bathroom mirror will be a large turnoff for anyone wanting a modern, fresh look. 

15. Landscaping

Water your lawn, plant some fresh trees or shrubs, ensure your lawn is mowed, the weeds have been pulled, and the yard is looking its best. Yards are a significant selling feature these days, particularly amidst a pandemic, as buyers want to expand their living space and the yard is the first place to look. 

16. Wall-to-wall carpeting

Wall-to-wall carpeting can appear dated, hard to maintain, and difficult to keep clean. Buyers want to see hardwood flooring or flooring that is easy to clean, and preferably something stain-resistant. Think clean and simple when updating your floors. 

17. Brass fixtures

Brass items can be tricky, they are either loved or hated, it will depend on your buyer. One thing is for sure, if there's too much of it, it definitely needs to be toned down. Whether it be chandeliers, faucets, or other fixtures, when it comes to brass, less is more.  

18. Bathroom carpeting

Bathroom carpeting has got to go, no if's, and's, or buts about it! Not only is it unhygienic, but it's also bound to hold moisture and be full of bacteria. Replace it with some vinyl flooring or tiles that are easy to clean and look modern. 

19. Creepy critters

If there'a problem with ants or any other little critters in your home, now is the time to get rid of them. Call in an exterminator, set up traps, and do a thorough cleaning of both the interior and exterior of your home to ensure there's nothing for them to feed on. 

20. Faux crystal faucet handles

Nothing says early 90's like a faux crystal bathtub faucet. Updating your faucets is extremely affordable and often something you can do yourself. Small features such as faucets are something you may not notice, however, your buyer will and they will see it as an added job or expense they need to take care of. 

21. Bright/neon paint

You may see it as a feature wall but a buyer may see it as a wall that needs to be painted. This also goes with children's rooms that have been painted bright or neon colours. Painting is an affordable and easy fix, choose a neutral colour that will appeal to the masses. 

22. Wallpaper and wood panelling

Although funky wallpaper may be making a bit of a comeback, it's safer to leave your walls bare and let your buyers decide what they like. When it comes to wood panelling, it's definitely not making a comeback and should be removed immediately...yes, even in the basement! If the panelling can't be removed, throw a couple of coats of white paint on it, this will clean it up, brighten the room and modernize the room quickly. 

23. Mismatched appliances

Stainless steel appliances are the most popular, although, consistency with appliances always comes out on top. Whether it be white, black, grey, or stainless steel, be sure that all your appliances match. 

24. Popcorn ceiling

Not only does a popcorn ceiling look dated, but it also accumulates dirt, is hard to clean, and extremely difficult to paint. This is no small job, by any means, however, it will improve the look of your home tremendously. 

25. Dropped ceilings

Thankfully dropped ceilings are usually only found in the basement, so it won't be throughout your entire home. Removing dropped ceilings and exposing the pipes, joists and beams will give your basement a modern industrial look, they can also be painted to blend in and go somewhat unseen. 

26. Old HVAC systems

Today's buyers want clean and efficient energy! Updating your HVAC systems with energy-efficient models will appeal to all buyers. Also, this will cut down your electric bills while you're still in the home and help to improve our environment. 

We understand that the list is long and may be overwhelming, however, you don't need to do everything on this list to sell your home. These are simply for your information and to assist you in selling as quickly as possible. 

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Buyers can be picky and have extremely high expectations. We, we know this because, at one point, we were also buyers! We know what we want to see in a home and what we don't.

As a seller, it's hard not to take some of this feedback personally, however, it's important to remember that what you like and what works for your family, may not for another.

I've put together 2 part series covering the top 26 things that buyers may not like about your home. Keep in mind, this is a general list and does not apply to all buyers. 

1. Clutter and dirt

This one will apply to all buyers, clutter is distracting and dirt is...dirty. Buyers want to see a home that is clean, well-kept, and shows well. Removing clutter will also give your home the appearance of more space. 

2. Converted rooms

While turning your garage into a workshop or man cave or a spare bedroom into a playroom or crafting space may work for you, your buyers may simply be looking for somewhere to park their car or an extra bedroom. If you've converted any rooms in your to a specialty room, return them to their original use before putting your home on the market. 

3. Personal belongings

Buyers want to envision their belongings in your home. Removing your personal belonging such as family photos, figurines, sports memorabilia, etc. from your home will help buyers imagine themselves living there. 


4. Crowded countertops

Clean off your countertops. Put away the toaster, coffee maker, and anything that else that may be taking up space in your kitchen. Buyers want to see a spacious kitchen with plenty of counter space. A nice added touch is a bowl of fresh fruit or a vase of flowers, this also adds a sweet aroma to the air and makes the home feel lived in and warm. 

5. Houseplants

Take a few of your large houseplants out, maybe send them to a friend or neighbours while marketing your home. This will allow buyers to see how large the space is and allow them to envision their furniture in the space much easier. 

6. Holiday decorations

There are a couple of reasons to avoid decorating your home for the holidays; firstly, you don't know your buyer or their religious beliefs, they may not celebrate the same holidays as you. Secondly, holiday decorations can take up a lot of space and take over the general feel of the home. 

7. Custom window treatments

This is near the top of the list of things that buyers will not like about your home. Window treatments tend to limit the view and natural light, as well as collect dust. These can be quickly replaced with a simple window shade roller, an easy and affordable fix. 

8. Numerous area rugs

If your home looks like a game of hopscotch with all the various rugs throughout, then you should put a few of them away. Rugs can work against you in a couple of ways, they make space appear smaller and it can seem as though you're hiding something under them. Ensure that your buyers can easily see your floors and the condition they are in. 

9. Odors

Pets, smoking, food, and many other things cause odors in our home that we may not even be aware of. However, buyers will notice and they do not want a home with an unpleasant smell. Clean the carpets, freshen up the paint, air fresheners, and open windows can assist with removing odors. 

10. Hello NOT your friend

Bright, neutral colors in well-lit rooms will be attractive to buyers. Dark rooms are very unwelcoming and unappealing. Turn on the lights before your prospective buyers look at the home so as they are walking through they have a welcoming feel throughout all the hallways and rooms. 

11. Pets

Pets are a tricky one, you may feel this is their home and they shouldn't have to be removed or caged for a showing, although, be aware that a potential buyer may be frightened by certain pets or allergic to them. If you have a pet-loving buyer looking at a home, this could become a distraction for them and they may spend more time with your pet than appreciating your home. It's best to remove large animals from your home such as dogs and put your cat or other pets into a cage for the duration of the showing. Remember, it's only about 30 minutes, it won't be all day!  

12. Giving your potential buyers privacy

Giving your potential buyers and their realtor privacy to discuss your home, their options, and ideas is a great way to ensure they stick around longer, talk freely about your home, and increase your chances of receiving an offer. If you happen to be home when showings are scheduled, open the door, greet your potential buyers and kindly let them know that you'll leave them to look at your home in private and will return shortly so they can ask any questions they may have.

13. Messy Neighbours

It can be extremely awkward and difficult to deal with messy neighbours, but it's a conversation that you may need to have when planning to sell your home. Buyers want their new neighbourhood to look clean, well-kept, and safe, and if your neighbours yard looks like a garbage dump, you won't be getting top dollar for your home. If your neighbours are not cooperative in this aspect, another idea is to build a fence that will block the views of their yard, it can be a bit pricy but it will ensure privacy and separation from their property. 

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A great basement can be one of your top-selling features if it is updated, has a sense of purpose, and is appealing to buyers who are looking for some extra space. 

Unfortunately, basements are often forgotten about, they are the last on our list of places to update and usually become a storage place for our extra stuff. 

However, these days buyers want as much space as possible and basements offer countless opportunities to have extra bedrooms, a second living room, a gym, an office, and so much more.  

If your basement hasn't been updated since the 70's then it's definitely time to do it. Here are a few of the top updates that can be done to make your basement more appealing to buyers or yourself. 


If your basement still has wood paneling up on the walls, it's time to go! Replace it with drywall, PVS trim for the floor, and crown moldings. Be sure to paint in neutral colors and remember that people are looking for extra living space, so keeping it in line with your upstairs decor is a great idea. You can also add an accent wall or some coloured furnishings to brighten the space up and keep it fun. 


Carpeting can be an extremely large job to remove but imagine how much worse it would be if it was soaking wet? If your home floods, the last thing you or any potential buyers want to do is remove wet and musty carpets. Replace the carpeting with easy-to-keep flooring and placing some carpets in areas that are often used will give it an extra cozy feeling. 

Drop Ceilings

There's no reason to make the ceiling any lower than it already is. Keep beams and joists visible and plumbing pipes exposed, this will give a trendy industrial flair to your space and also offer more headroom. Remember pipes and beams can be painted if you don't like the raw look of them and want them to blend into the decor. 


Many people are going to want to turn that basement space into their TV room or home theatre and with that comes the need for technology.  Install some surround sound and use as many Bluetooth devices as possible. Bluetooth can be linked to your tv, lighting, thermostat, speakers, and much more! If needed, have an electrician come in to install some more outlets and ensure there is a strong wifi or internet signal in the basement. 

Old furniture

We're all guilty of dragging an old chair or sofa down to the basement and forgetting about it. Furniture is fairly affordable these days and you can likely find a large sectional sofa and some oversized bean bag chairs to decorate this space with a cozier and more modern feel. 


Updating your lighting can make a huge improvement in this space. Avoid direct overhead lighting and gear towards track lighting or something that will give the room an all-around glow. You want the space to be as comfortable, welcoming, and fresh as possible. 

Updating your basement may not be on the top of your to-do list, however, if you're planning to sell your home and hoping to increase its value, these tips will definitely help you. And if you're not selling but aren't sure how to make that space usable again and extend your living space, we hope these tips will help you transform your basement into the space you've always wanted!  

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Selling your home can be one of the most stressful situations to be in, simply because, for the most part, it's completely out of your hands.  

Whether it be a buyer or a seller's market, being on the selling side is never easy. You are constantly waiting...waiting for showings, waiting for offers, waiting on inspections, waiting on the buyer's conditions to be removed, it can start to feel like a neverending waiting game. 

On top of waiting, you can also add packing, searching for a new home, making life-changing decisions, dealing with your finances, and of course keeping your house in pristine condition while doing so to ensure it's ready for any last-minute showings. We won't lie to's not easy, however, it is temporary! 

JP Real Estate specializes in assisting you throughout the entire process, offering a helping hand, making suggestions, taking some of the workload off your plate, and will be a listening ear because we understand how stressful this can be. 

Here are a few tips on how to manage the stress and anxiety that may arise during the sale of your home. 

Practice Self-Care

It may seem like there are not enough hours in the day, especially now with selling your home, but taking some time to take care of yourself will help you get through this process much easier. Go for a walk, get a massage, have a hot bath, or simply take a few minutes each day to just sit quietly and focus on something other than your to-do list. 

Eating right and ensuring you get enough exercise during this time is extremely important as well. We understand how busy you are and calling to order some take-out or swinging through the drive-thru may seem like a great idea at the time but this will not give you the nourishment and vitamins your body needs. Try meal prepping one day per week so that you have some fresh healthy meals that are easily accessible or ordering food from a local market that provides nutritious meals that at easy to heat up and eat in a hurry.  

Set up a home showing system

Keep your home as tidy as possible at all times so that when the call comes in for a last-minute showing, you're not running around trying to clean it in a hurry. A few decorative boxes around your home are a great place to stash those daily items you use but don't want laying around when someone comes to see your home. You can also start packing early, there's definitely no need to pack your entire home, however, putting the things you don't use often into boxes and storing them neatly in your garage or a spare room will give your home a much tidier and spacious appearance.  

Home staging is another great way to ensure your home is ready to show at the drop of a hat. Having a professional come through your home and stage it to appeal to buyers will assist you in knowing what to remove and what to keep in place.  

Worst Case Scenario Plan 

We don't want to frighten you with this one, but having a 'worst-case scenario plan' in place will save you a lot of headaches if things don't go as planned. For example, if you're purchasing a new home and its dependant upon the sale of your current home, but your current home isn't selling, you need to have a plan in place with your realtor and lender to ensure there are contingencies in place to extend your closing date on the new home. Also, keep an eye on the market, you may not be able to close on that new home, so having an idea of what else is out there is a great backup and will ensure you're ready to start looking right away. 

We understand that these are things you don't even want to think about, but being prepared will make life much easier if things go south.  

Hiring the Right Agent

Hiring an agent you trust, who understands you, your wants and needs, and can guide you through each step of the selling process will give you the peace of mind that you need during this time. 

Find an agent that is willing to sit and listen to all your concerns, worries, desires, and needs for your sale. Your realtor should know you and your expectations. 

Also, be sure that your realtor does a thorough walkthrough of your home and points out any repair that should be made prior to listing your home on the market. This will not only increase your home's value, but it will save you a lot of work and potential disputes with the buyers in the long run. 

Hire someone with excellent communication skills who will be accessible to you when needed, can assist you with inspections, review all documents and explain the "fine print" to you when you're needing some extra help.  

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Many people think that adding a swimming pool, hot tub, or a fancy water fountain to their backyard will increase the value of their home and appeal to many buyers, however, it's actually quite the opposite.

Buyers often see these additions as time-consuming, expensive, and a lot of extra work.

There are, however, plenty of other ways to increase your home's value by updating your backyard. 

All-season deck

Installing an all-season deck in your backyard will increase your home's value substantially. People are spending more time at their homes these days and giving potential buyers some living space in the backyard is an extremely attractive feature. Whether it be a covered or uncovered deck, this space will appeal to nearly all buyers as it gives them the option of enjoying family time, dinners, gatherings, a space for exercising or yoga at home while enjoying the fresh air. A firepit and a bbq area will also be extremely attractive to many buyers. 


Planting mature trees around your yard will give your home privacy and a sense of security. Buyers want to feel cozy, safe, and free from nosey neighbours, some mature trees will provide exactly this in your yard. 

It will also provide shade on those hot summer days and be a great spot to lay out a blanket and read a book under. 

Lawn and garden

Keeping your yard well-manicured and tended to will provide excellent value to your home. Plant some shrubs, flowers, and put up a few hanging baskets, all these little things will offer a sense of home to potential buyers and appeal to nearly everyone. 


The best advice for improving your backyard and increasing the value of your home is that 'less is more'!

Keep it simple, don't go overboard, and ensure that everything is well cared for and offers a comforting feeling of home to everyone who sees your backyard, especially you! 

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Many people feel that leveraging the equity in their home is the last resort, however, that is definitely not the case. Your home is your strongest collateral and this can be used to your advantage. 

Many lenders see borrowing against your home as a low risk, meaning you'll likely get lower interest rates and lower payments. 

When used proactively, a home equity loan can improve your finances and your life in numerous ways. 

Start a business

Using funds from your home equity loan to start a business is a great way to increase your financial freedom. Business loans can be extremely difficult to procure and often come with high-interest rates and payments. Using home equity funds could be just the boost you need to get your business up and running successfully. 

Renovating your home

Renovating your home is an investment, not an expense! If you have some work to do around the home, this is a great way to get the funds and increase its value at the same time. A home equity loan is especially great when you are renovating to add a rental suite that will bring in extra money as this suite will cover the cost of the loan payment and likely a few extra dollars in your pocket too. 

Purchasing an investment property

A traditional mortgage to purchase an investment property can be tricky to obtain as banks often require you to bring in enough non-rental income to make your monthly payments. This is in addition to your current and primary home. If you're looking to buy a secondary home for investment purposes, you may want to look at your primary home first to see if you can use this as equity, it will likely be a lot easier and less expensive. 


A good education is one of the most valuable things a person can have, it can also be one of the most expensive. Rather than taking out a student loan or bank loan to fund your education with high-interest rates and extremely strict payment schedules, your home equity may provide a more flexible, affordable option. 

Consolidate your debt

Having debt spread across several credit cards, lenders, lines of credit, etc. each with a different interest rate and payment schedule, can become extremely expensive and daunting to keep track of. Pay off those debts once and for all and leave yourself with one simple monthly payment at a low-interest rate. 

Whether you're looking to have fewer payments at lower interest rates or you're wanting to springboard your new business, a home equity loan could be a great option for you. 

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Buying and selling a home can be an overwhelming process full of legal details that you may not understand. For this reason, we strongly suggest hiring a professional realtor to represent you and ensure that your best interests are being looked after. 

There are a couple of common mistakes that take place when buyers submit an offer, however, these can be avoided if worded correctly and are caught before the contract is signed. 

Home Inspection Clause

Numerous home sales have collapsed due to the wording of the home inspection clause. This clause states that the buyer has the right to withdraw their offer if the home inspection proves any unsatisfactory results. Unfortunately, many buyers have taken advantage of this clause and withdrawn offers for various non-issues stated in the home inspection. This has caused many sellers a great deal of time, money, and upset. 

To avoid this problem, as a seller, we suggest wording this clause to state that the seller has the option to repair any problems that were found in the home inspection at the seller's expense, prior to closing. 

Survey Clause

All buyers have the right to add a survey clause to their real estate contract. As a seller, if you have added an addition or a pool to your property since your last survey, unfortunately, this will be out-of-date and a new survey will be required. The cost of an up-to-date survey can cost you approximately $700 - $1,500, depending on the size of your property, the age of your most recent survey, and the additions that have been added to the property. 

Swimming Pool Clause

When buying or selling a home with a swimming pool, there should be a specific legal clause that addresses this directly. Some contracts are written to state that the seller provides a warranty to the pool to survive closing, however, it may be better stated that at the time of closing, the seller believes the pool to be in good working condition. This protects both the buyer and seller, rather than just the buyer. 

Hiring a real estate professional and having a lawyer who specializes in real estate law on your team will be extremely beneficial to you when buying or selling your home. We suggest reviewing all real estate contracts carefully and asking your realtor or lawyer if you have questions about any of the clauses or fine details prior to signing any documents. 

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With the weather is cooling down and the rainy season coming, now is the perfect time to prepare your home for the fall and winter seasons.

Below is a checklist that I've created for you to get your home ready for the cooler months. 


Gutters - Clean out the gutters and replace if needed.

Roof - Check for damage, warped or missing shingles, and replace or repair anything that may not last through the winter. 

Moss - Scan your roof for moss growth, this is an easy and quick fix that can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. 

Critters - Check roof overhangs and patch up any holes or openings where birds, rodents, squirrels, etc. could make their new home. 

Chimney - Have your chimney professional cleaned and inspected before using it. You don't want to settle in for the first cozy fire of the season and have your home filled with smoke, or worse. 


Doors & Windows - Seal any gaps around your windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulking. This will keep your home warm and your heating bills down. 

Walls & Foundation - Check for cracks that could allow moisture in your home. Larger cracks will require a professional, however, hairline cracks can be easily patched with grout or quick-dry cement. 

Lighting - Make sure all your exterior lighting is working as it should be and that nothing needs replacing. It's going to start getting dark much earlier and you'll want to make sure your yard and entryway are properly lit for the safety of yourself and others. 

Outdoor Electrical Outlets - Shut off the power to any outdoor electrical outlets that will not be used during the winter season. Also, cover them with all-weather guards to ensure they're in good condition for next summer. 


Trim your trees and shrubs - By giving your trees and shrubs and good trim, it can prevent damage that could be caused by an unexpected snowfall. 

Branches - Remove any risky tree branches that could cause damage in stormy weather, particularly the branches in close proximity to your house, powerlines, or over the roof. 

Rake the leaves - While it may look nice with all the fall leaves blanketing your lawn, if not removed, they can trap moisture and cause your grass to rot. 

Hoses & Faucets - Drain your hoses and store them somewhere inside, they can retain residual water and freeze in the winter causing cracks and breakage if not cared for properly. Insulating any outdoor pipes or faucets can also prevent freezing and damage over the cooler months. 

Patio furniture - Yes, it's called "outdoor furniture" but it's not "all-season furniture". Store your patio furniture in a shed or your garage if possible, or cover with a fitted water-proof tarp. 


Air Con Units - Remove window air conditioning units before the temperatures drop or cover them with an insulated wrap to keep the cold air out. 

Attic - A quick visit up to the attic can save a lot of hassle later on. Check for rodents, moisture, and moldy insulation. These should all be removed, replaced, or fixed before the cool air arrives. 

HVAC - Hire a pro to come in and check your HVAC and replace the filters. New filters can keep your heating costs down and air clean.  

Detectors & Alarms - Test and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. 

Lose the Lint - Remove the lint from your dryer vents as it can be an extreme fire hazard. This can be done by a professional or you can do on your own if you're able to reach them easily. 


Snow supplies - Dig out your shovel and snow blower, move them somewhere handy and easily accessible. 

Rock Salt - Stock up on rock salt now, before the weather freezes so you're prepared. 

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Working from home...the ultimate freedom, right? Actually, it can be quite the opposite if you are not prepared for it. 

While the thought of spending all day in our pajamas and working from the sofa sounds great, chances are, you aren't going to get much done if this is your plan. 

Staying focused, sticking to schedules, and managing our time is extremely important with any job, but it becomes absolutely crucial when we make the decision to work from. 

I've put together a few tips to help keep you focused, productive, and make the most of your work-from-home experience. 

Wake up early

Unfortunately, this is not a vacation and you are still working, wake up the same time that you normally would for work (less commuting time), shower, eat breakfast, and get yourself prepared for the day. Also, begin your workday at the regularly scheduled office hours, this will keep you on your normal routine and be easier for clients to reach you and know your availability. 

Schedule your breaks

When you're in the office, you likely have a couple of 15-minute breaks and a lunch break that are scheduled at certain times throughout the day. Keep the same schedule at home! Your body and mind are attuned to this cycle and you'll find that you will be much more productive if you remain on the same schedule.


Your calendar will be just as, if not more, important now that you're working from home. Follow your calendar, check it regularly, and reschedule/reprioritize things that need adjusting. It's extremely easy to get distracted working at home, the laundry needs to be done, dishes need to be washed, the dog wants to play, etc. so sticking to your calendar and regularly updating it will assist in keeping you focused and ensure your tasks are being completed accordingly. 

Prepare for video calls in advance

Unfortunately, pajamas are not acceptable for work-related video calls. Be sure to make yourself presentable, a video call is just as important as an in-person meeting, so you need to bring your best self. Also, be prepared with a notepad and pen, have your coffee ready or a glass of water, whatever you may need during the meeting so that you're not distracted or leaving your desk unless absolutely necessary. 

Move around 

Get up at least once every hour and move your body. Do a quick walk around the house, do some squats, stretches, anything to keep the blood flowing. We spend a lot of time sitting in the office as well, however, we tend to get up to grab something off the printer, ask a colleague a question, walk to the boardroom for a meeting, so when working from home, we need to remember to keep our body moving, even if it's just in short burst every hour or so. 

Mornings vs afternoons

You're likely going to be a lot more motivated in the morning, so I strongly suggest scheduling your high priority tasks for the morning and working on things that are less urgent in the afternoons.

Pro tip: Don't save the "boring" tasks for the afternoons, it may seem like a good idea but when you've lost your daily motivation and focus, it's going to be extremely hard to concentrate on these tasks. 

Social media and news 

Unless Facebook is your employer, I strongly suggest avoiding this website during working hours. If you enjoy reading the news or catching up on social media, do this first thing in the morning, spend no more than 30 minutes and then get on with your regularly scheduled workday.  

Working from home is an adjustment for all of us, it's not something that we are accustomed to and it can be hard to settle into. I hope these tips will assist you in making the best of your work-from-home experience! 

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A comfortable and functional space to work at home is almost a necessity these days.  Many people are working from due to COVID or simply because they have been offered this opportunity by their employers.

Working from home always seems like a dream come true, however, if you don't have an appropriate space, it can become quite the opposite.

Here are a few ideas on how you can create your home office on a budget: 

Choosing a room

Choose a room that has plenty of natural light or can be painted with bright neutral colours.  You don't need to give up an entire bedroom to make a home office, it can often be done in the corner of a larger room, but you definitely need to make sure the space is bright and offers you the light you require. 


You don't 'need' brand new office furniture, this is something that can be put on hold for the time being. You simply need a space that assists you in getting your job done. Check your garage to see if you have something stored in there that could be used as a desk, ask family, friends, neighbours, or check online for a used desk or chair. When all else fails, use one of your dining room chairs until you can find something affordable. I do suggest having a proper desk or table though, working from the dining room table will be distracting and isn't the most ideal place to focus on your work. 


If you're planning to work from home, you likely already have a desktop or laptop computer that you are planning to use. Thankfully these days, most things are digital so you will simply need to ensure that you have a wired internet connection in the are that you've chosen for your office or a strong wifi connection and your cell phone. Unless absolutely needed, there's no need to call in an electrician or handyman to install new hookups. 

Cabinets and storage

As mentioned previously, we are in the digital age, and therefore installing or purchasing file cabinets or storage shelves is likely unnecessary, as most things can be stored online or on your computer. If you do need some storage or file cabinets, these can usually be found at your local thrift stores or at a weekend garage sale. Give them a good clean and they will be near good as new. You can also use things such as plastic totes or smaller 3 - 4 drawer dressers. 


You're likely going to be spending a fair amount of time in your new office, so be sure to make it cozy. Hang some photos, add a couple of plants, maybe even a chalkboard where you can write inspirational and motivational quotes. Another great way to personalize is to hang a corkboard so you can continually recycle the photos or notes that you're looking at, this is also a great place to store some notes of things you regularly refer to. 

What to splurge on

Pens, and I can't stress this enough, there's nothing worse than taking notes with a pen that doesn't write nicely. Spend an extra couple of dollars and get yourself some nice pens. Also, buy yourself a mug warmer to keep your coffee or tea hot while you're working, and maybe a nice thermos style drinking cup to keep your drinking water cold throughout the day. 

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With many of us working from home these days, we are finding we have much more time on our hands and what better to do with that time than update our homes!

We want to get the most out of our homes, in terms of value and livability. There are a few renos that will give you the best return on your dollar, especially in times of a global pandemic. 


Updating your kitchen can bring you one of the highest returns, with up to $0.75-$1.00 return on each dollar that you spend. Simply adding a kitchen island can provide a 65% return. Keep in mind that potential buyers want to see neutral colours and plenty of natural light in kitchens. 

Energy efficiency 

Updating and installing energy-efficient appliances, furnaces, windows, etc., in your home can provide you up to $0.65 on each dollar you spend. And don't forget, these updates will also benefit you as you'll see immediate savings on your electric bills. 

Plumbing fixtures

By installing new plumbing fixtures and hardware, you will not only save dollars on your monthly water bill, you'll also turn a profit when it comes time to sell. Simple, modern fixtures are affordable and will immediately make your bathroom(s) and kitchen look crisp and clean. 


A fresh coat of paint, both on the interior and exterior, of the home, can provide up to $0.67 on each dollar invested! Keep the colours neutral, simple, and modern. Buyers can be easily turned off by bright colours that don't appeal to their style. 


We are all finding ourselves at home a lot more these days and are therefore are looking to our yards to expand our living space. Adding or updating your back deck is a sure-fire way to turn a profit on your investment. Building a firepit with a comfortable seating area will also give potential buyers the feeling of more living space. Buyers are almost always thrilled to see an outdoor cooking space, as well, having the extra space to bbq and prepare dinner in one area is always appreciated!

There are plenty of renovations that will appeal to many different buyers, however, the renos mentioned above will give you the best opportunity to make the highest return on your dollar. With the summer season coming to an end, this is the perfect time to get started on your home updates and increase its value, usability, and marketability.

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If you're thinking of selling your home, now may be the right time! Newly listed homes selling quickly, receiving numerous offers, and are often selling for over asking price. 

When selling your home, you have just a second to grab a potential buyer's attention and hold onto it. Most buyers are viewing homes online and can quickly skip over a listing if it doesn't "jump out at them". 

We've put together a few tips on how to make your yard and garden as attractive as possible to potential buyers.


Tidy up the Landscaping

A well-maintained lawn with plants and flowers is one of the top-selling features these days. Ensure the lawn is freshly mowed, the weeds have been taken out, trees are pruned, and fresh flowers or plants are situated throughout. This may seem like a large job, however, it can likely be finished in just one weekend of hard work.

Plant a tree

A well-matured tree can add thousands of dollars to the value of a home. If you have extra space, plant a couple of trees strategically placed around the property to offer shade in areas where homeowners may want to relax.


Clean up your entryway

We can stress this one enough, this is the first impression of the home that potential buyers see. Clean up the porch, add a fresh coat of paint to the door, a new doormat, and a few plants will add value to your home immediately, and be the perfect way to catch a buyer's attention. 

Outdoor lighting

Adding or updating your outdoor lighting will increase the value of your home substantially. New lighting at the front door will make the home welcoming and bright, and a well light pathway will offer a sense of safety and comfort. 

Spruce up the Outdoor Living Space

Adding a new deck or patio to your home can provide a 60-90% return on investment. Buyers want to see that they have more space than what's in the home, they want a space to entertain family and friends. Replacing your patio furniture cushions and adding a few colourful pillows is a great way to brighten the space up. We also suggest including some potted or hanging plants to add colour and life. 

Add a Firepit

Buyers want to envision themselves sitting in the backyard, around the fire, chatting with friends and family while enjoying their amazing new space. The ambiance that a firepit brings will have your potential buyers feeling right at home. You can build a firepit fairly cheap or simply purchase a portable one for about $100. 

Smart Sprinklers

Installing Smart Sprinklers will increase the homes value, relieve the buyers of home maintenance, and help to save the planet. These sprinklers will connect with your wifi and water your lawn or garden according to the local weather predictions. You can also set them to a timer so they only water in the evenings or early mornings. 

Preparing your home in advance will ensure its marketability, increase its value, and sell as quickly as possible. Remember, you have one chance to make a first impression and potential buyers are looking to make a decision quickly! 

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Buying your first home is such an exciting experience, but it can also be very stressful and confusing. There is a ton of legal paperwork, mortgage documents, and requirements from your lender that you will need to provide prior to having your mortgage funded. 

We understand how complicated this process can be and want to help, so we've put together a list of questions that first-time homebuyers should be asking before they submit an offer to purchase a home. 


How to does a mortgage work?

A mortgage is a secured loan that uses your new home as collateral. If you do not pay your mortgage, your lender can seize your home. After owning your home for a few years or increasing its value, you can also use your mortgage to borrow funds against the value of your property. 

How long does it take to get a mortgage?

From pre-approval to funding, it usually takes about 3-6 weeks. Keep in mind, this is dependant upon how quickly you can submit the required documents for the lenders' approval. 

Fixed-rate vs. adjustable rate

A fixed-rate loan is just that, fixed at the amount that you lock in for for the duration of the loan. An adjustable-rate will fluctuate with the market rates, meaning your mortgage payments can increase or decrease depending on the current rate. 

What do you need to get a mortgage:

  • Social Insurance Number
  • Tax returns from the previous 2 years
  • Payslips from your employer for the past 1-2 years
  • Evidence of any assets, stocks, bonds, etc. 
  • Credit card statements from the previous years
  • Bank statements for the previous 1-2 years
  • Any other documents required by your lender. 

What credit score do you need to get a mortgage?

This will depend on your bank, however, a score over 600 should make it fairly easy to obtain a mortgage. The higher the credit score, the easier it will be and the lower the interest rate you'll be offered. To calculate your debt-to

What is debt-to-income ratio?

Your debt to income ratio calculates how much of your gross income is spent on paying your monthly debts. Lenders use this amount to judge your ability to repay the loan and the amount you'll be able to pay, essentially deciding your approved mortgage amount. 

To calculate your debt-to-income ratio, divide your monthly debt payments by your gross income amount, example:

Debt amount (mortgage, car & credit card payments) - $1,800

Gross income amount - $5,000

1,800/5,000 = 36%

Each lender will have different amounts, however, 43% is typically the highest debt-to-income ration on which they will lend. 

How to choose a mortgage lender?

Shop around! We highly recommend chatting with a mortgage broker who will shop around for you and find you the best rates. Ask your broker to bring you 3-4 pre-approved lenders, review carefully, and choose the best one for you. The best part is that a mortgage broker is free to you, the lenders pay their fees, so it's no extra cost to you! 

What are closing costs and how expensive are they?

See our blog post "The costs of buying and selling a home" regarding closing costs to calculate how much you may need to purchase your first home. 

Should you get pre-approved for a mortgage?

Yes, by all means, get pre-approved. This will give you an idea of how much you can spend buying a new home. You don't want to be shopping for $600,000 homes when you've only been approved for $400,000. This will also show the sellers that you are motivated and serious about purchasing. 

Can a seller refuse to make repairs?

Yes, a seller can refuse to make repairs but don't let this scare you away. If a problem has been found during the home inspection and the seller refuses to make repairs, you can negotiate a discount upon closing with the seller to receive a credit for the amount that it will cost you to make the repairs. 

What happens at closing?

This is always an exciting day! This is the day the title to the property has been transferred into your name, funds have been transferred to the seller's lawyer, and you become legally responsible for the property. 

When can you move in?

It may sound as though 'closing day' is your move-in date, however, that is not always the case. When you first submitted the offer to purchase, you will have agreed to a closing date and a possession date. The possession date is when you will have access to the home and can begin to move in. 

What should you do before move-in?

Prior to move-in, you'll want to ensure all the utilities have been transferred to your name and are hooked up. You may also want to spend a day doing a thorough clean of the home before you start bringing your stuff over. If you plan to do any painting or repairs, doing this prior to moving in will make things much easier, however, it's not necessary. 

What should you do after move-in?

First and foremost, you'll want to secure your home, this means changing the locks and updating the security system code passwords. You'll also want to check the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are correctly functioning and replace the batteries. Additionally, you should locate your circuit box and any emergency shut-offs in case of an emergency. 

Start unpacking, order a pizza, crack a well deserved cold one, and enjoy your new home! 

If you're thinking about taking the leap and purchasing your first home, we would be thrilled to chat with you and provide you with some insight on what you can expect through the process and tell you a little more about how we can help! 

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Prices are high, inventory is moving quickly, and buyers are offering over asking price without conditions, seems like the worst time to be buying right? Actually, it's the perfect time to buy your first home! 

When we look back over the last decade there's been one consistent trend in real estate and that has been the steady increase in the value of homes. Everyone wants a piece of the real estate market, it's a safe and reliable investment that will almost always provide a profit in the long run. 

If you're looking to purchase your first home, here are a few things we can do help you:

Access to all pertinent information online

We understand the next generation is virtual and we're completely on board with this. We can provide you with 3D virtual tours of homes you're interested in viewing, drone videos of the home and neighbouring area, and access to all documents online. Imagine buying your first home from your iPad! 

Assistance throughout the entire process

From the first discussion we have regarding what you're looking for in your new home right up to moving day when we hand you the keys, we will be there to guide and assist you. 

Is your bank not giving you a great mortgage rate? No problem, I have a mortgage broker who can help you! Need to have an inspection or appraisal done? Great, I can put you in touch with the most affordable and professional inspectors and appraisers right now! 

There's a lot of paperwork and tons of 'fine print' that goes along with buying a home and we will be here to explain it all to you easily and clearly so that you can make this decision with confidence. 

We are available to answer all your questions 24/7 via Text, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Messenger, Email, Phone, and of course by fax or pager ;) JK! 

Your Needs Come First

Buying your first home is a HUGE decision and one that should not be taken lightly. You have a list of things you want and need in your new home and you should also have a list of things you do not want. We can assure you that we will be listening to your needs. We aren't going to show you a condo when you've told us 5x that you want a townhome, we also aren't going to waste your time by showing you homes that are over your budget or in an area that you don't want. We understand how precious your time is and we aren't here to waste it, we are here to help you find the RIGHT home you! 

We, at JP Real Estate, are dedicated to helping first-time homebuyers get their foot in the door, literally and figuratively! 

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Many homeowners have chosen to defer mortgage payments through the Covid-19 pandemic. We had written an article about the pros and cons of deferring your payments a few months ago, however, we did not touch on how this may affect your credit.

In a perfect world, deferring your mortgage payments should not affect your credit score at all, however, there are a few people who have notices their credit scores dropping and it's due to deferred payment errors. 

Mortage deferrals need to be reported in a certain way and it needs to be done within 30 days, if not done correctly, it can negatively affect your credit score. A false late or missing payment can affect your credit score by up to 150 points! Correcting this can take months and it may never be fully repaired correctly until your deferrals have ceased and you're able to build your credit score back up again. 

If you have chosen to defer your mortgage payments, I suggest you speak with your bank as soon as possible and ask them how they are reporting your deferred payments and how often. I also suggest obtaining a copy of your most recent credit report to review your score and recent history to ensure this has not affected your score negatively. 

As we all know, our credit scores are extremely important and can impact many things in our lives, not just our mortgages. Credit scores are used to obtain a cell phone plan, buy a new vehicle, rent an apartment, and so much more.

If you find that your credit score has been impacted negatively due to deferrals, we suggest speaking with your bank immediately and asking them to provide the credit bureau with the correct information. But keep in mind, this update will not happen overnight and may take months to fix so getting on top of this now is imperative!

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NOTE: MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification. This website may only be used by consumers for the purpose of locating and purchasing real estate.