Trish & Cheryl Niagara Real Estate Agents Niagara on the Lake Realty

Office 905-262-6996 | EMAIL |


Zooming to Retirement


The Retirement years are in sight! You are almost there, the kids are slowly moving out, you are thinking about how you wish to spend the next stage of your life. You are more focused on activities for you, whether that be a hobby, traveling or volunteer activities.  Your needs start to change, whether that is the size of house, location where you wish to live and your needs /concerns about your financial future. One of those decisions is do you sell your family home and if so where do you wish to live.  Although full retirement might still be several years off, moving to a more suitable and affordable residence today may be the best move for the long term. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating your future lifestyle and residence.


Your Budget

When deciding the pros and cons of staying in your present home, there are many issues to consider, one is the cost of the home. Long-term budget planning should take into account not only standard day-to-day expenses, but also the cost of home improvements/renovations, repairs or replacement of aging appliances or home heating/cooling systems.  In addition, there are practical considerations such as the style of home and the possible physical or financial burden of property management in later years.


As you approach retirement you may prefer to free up some of the equity that has built up over the years in your present house. Many people use this equity to supplement their retirement savings, help their children with education costs or to purchase another home. Whatever the reason, it’s important to seek solid real estate and financial advice before making a decision.


Things to Consider before Choosing a New Residence for Retirement

Location of a new residence should encompass all you imagine for your future retirement lifestyle. You will finally have the time to participate in all the activities you’ve never managed to squeeze in before; therefore, it is important to take into account proximity to family, friends and the facilities that house your favourite recreational or social activities. This may include golf courses, church, recreational facilities, social clubs or the local theatre.


The other thing you need to consider if you are moving is access to medical support.  Many locations across Canada have a lack of Doctors and waiting lists for a family physician. 


 You also need to consider what you need inside your new residence, you may desire an additional bedroom for visits from grandchildren or an easy-access bathroom with improved shower, bath and toilet for greater comfort in the future. In addition, wide, shallow steps and an easy front walk-up will be important inclusions for less limber bodies. Sufficient outdoor lighting is a necessity for home security and personal safety. Although you may be moving to a smaller residence overall, your personal space will likely be greater due to innovative designs created with the retirement lifestyle in mind, perhaps in the form of a dressing room, art studio or office.


Before making a decision to move out of town to a vacation home or any type of residence, imagine yourself living day-to-day further away from family and friends and try to explore potential ramifications of the increased distance. You may consider building a guestroom so that you can entertain friends and family on a regular basis, while still enjoying your quiet, country retreat.

Whether you choose to stay in the family home, build, move to a recreational property or condominium, consider the activities you currently enjoy and reflect on your evolving interests and the new priorities of your future.



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January 5th, 2017 Niagara- The Niagara Association of REALTORS reported 476 property sales processed through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system in DECEMBER.  This represents a 19.6% increase in sales over DECEMBER of last year.



The residential average sale price of $319,223 was 13.9 per cent higher than last DECEMBER. The average days on market DECREASED from 61 to 39 days on market in the residential freehold market, and from 77 to 72 in the condominium market. These figures are taken from the following areas; Fort Erie, Fonthill/Pelham, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colbourne/Wainfleet, St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland.  Please contact us if you would like more specifics from these regions.


Market Activity for Niagara-on-the-Lake


Niagara-on-the-Lake homes listed and sold


# of sales in DECEMBER 2015 - 20


# of sales in DECEMBER 2016 - 21


Average sale price 2015 - $546,200


Average sale price 2016 - $523,143


Average days on market 2015 - 115


Average days on market 2016 - 35


*Please contact Trish & Cheryl Niagara-on-the-Lake Realty

Sales Representatives, for more information for current

homes for sale in Niagara-on-the-Lake!




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March 7th, 2016 Niagara- The Niagara Association of REALTORS reported 605 property sales processed through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system in FEBRUARY.  This represents a 12.6% increase in sales over FEBRUARY of last year.



The residential average sale price of $289,841 was 12.6 per cent higher than last FEBRUARY. The average days on market DECREASED from 65 to 54 days on market in the residential freehold market, and from 103 to 86 in the condominium market. These figures are taken from the following areas; Fort Erie, Fonthill/Pelham, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colbourne/Wainfleet, St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland.  Please contact us if you would like more specifics from these regions.


Market Activity for Niagara-on-the-Lake


Niagara-on-the-Lake homes listed and sold


# of sales in FEBRUARY 2015 - 22


# of sales in FEBRUARY 2016 - 35


Average sale price 2015 - $498,522


Average sale price 2016 - $599,153


Average days on market 2015 - 177


Average days on market 2016 - 75



***The most popular (trendy) streets to live on in Niagara-on-the-Lake are Bay Berry, James Drive, Lucia Court, Harmony and Gage Street.

*Please contact Trish & Cheryl Niagara-on-the-Lake Realty

Sales Representatives, for more information for current

homes for sale in Niagara-on-the-Lake!


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Overall Market Activity in

Niagara-on-the-Lake 2015



2014- 705 Listings available

2015- 656 Listing available


# of Sales:


2014- 352

2015- 417


Average Price:


2014- $470,141

2015- $504,954


Average Days on Market:


2014- 95

2015- 97


**Niagara-on-the-Lake consists of the townships of VirgilQueenston and St.Davids.



Feel free to contact Trish and Cheryl Niagara-on-the-Lake Realty


Sales Representatives for more information on


homes for sale in Niagara-on-the-Lake!



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Niagara-on-the-Lake Statistics

June 12, 2015, Niagara- The Niagara Association of REALTORS reported 862 property sales processed through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system in MAY.  This represents a 20.1% increase in sales over MAY of last year.




The residential average sale price of $273,661 was 7.6 per cent higher than last MAY. The average days on market DECREASED from 56-53 days on market in the residential freehold market, and from 59-65 in the condominium market. These figures are taken from the following areas; Fort Erie, Fonthill/Pelham, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colbourne/Wainfleet, St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland.  Please contact us if you would like more specifics from these regions.


Market Activity for Niagara-on-the-Lake


Niagara-on-the-Lake homes listed and sold


# of sales in MAY 2014 - 34


# of sales in MAY 2015 - 49


Average sale price 2014 - $470,842


Average sale price 2015 - $485,406


Average days on market 2014 - 156


Average days on market 2015 - 108

*Therefore there was approximately a 30% increase in selling price and 44% more homes sold this MAY as compared to those that sold in 2014. And the average days on market decreased by 44%.



***The most popular (trendy) streets to live on in Niagara-on-the-Lake are Bay Berry, James Drive, Lucia Court, Harmony and Gage Street.



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Durable Flooring Types Good For Any Home


Floor with hardwood and tile

1 Tile

If you want your floor to look like new 10 years from now, a hard tile is your best bet. Ceramic is good, but porcelain is denser and more durable. Natural granite and slate tiles are also sturdy options.

2 Vinyl

This tried and true floor covering is flexible underfoot and cushions falls. For superior durability, choose a sheet with a thick urethane topcoat that resists scratches and scuffs.

3 Wood

Like tile, not all wood floors are alike. In a home filled with kids and pets, shop for wood planks with a rating higher than 2,000 on the Janka scale. The Janka scale measures a wood’s resistance to denting, marring and wear. The higher the Janka number, the harder the species and the tougher the floor.

4 Laminate

As with vinyl, look for a laminate with a tough, thick topcoat. This top layer is scored for durability via an abrasion coefficient (AC) rating from AC1 to AC5, with AC5 being the most durable. The rating should be noted on the packaging. Don’t go lower than AC3 for rooms with children and choose AC4 or AC5 for pets.

While carpet may be prone to stains and tears, a newly introduced yard named Triexta makes for a very durable carpet.

5 Carpet

Carpet has its advantages, especially in rooms where kids will be sprawling on the floor to watch TV or play video games. A newly introduced yarn called triexta can stand up to most anything two- and four-legged creatures can dish out. Look for this durable, soft yarn under the trade names Sorona or SmartStrand. Because of this new durability, several manufacturers are offering lifetime warranties.

Radiant heat coils under floor

Radiant heat is administered by coils directly under the floor surface.

Give your room radiant heat

Controlled by a thermostat, radiant heat coils warm the floor to a temperature that feels comfortable to bare feet. The coils can be used underneath many materials, including stone, tile, vinyl, and even wood and laminate, providing care is taken during installation to allow for expansion and contraction.

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A source of pride in our community are the many beautifully maintained parks.  They are available to the public at no charge.  No reservations are accepted at our parks, however facilities within the parks (soccer fields in Memorial and Centennial Parks, ball diamonds in Memorial & Centennial Parks, gazebo in Queen's Royal Park and the bandshell in Simcoe Park, etc) can be reserved by calling the Parks & Recreation office at 905-468-4261.


notl gazebo

Centennial Park
Located at 1565 Four Mile Creek Road in Virgil, Centennial Park provides 2 arenas, (Meridian  Credit Union and Centennial Arenas) 3 lit ball diamonds, 4 soccer mini-fields, 2 lit asphalt tennis courts, playground equipment, skate park, picnic pavilion, concession and washrooms.

Chautauqua Park
A small (.9 acres) neighbourhood park on Oak Drive provides park benches and open space.

Garrison Village Park
A 2.3 acre park on Upper Canada Drive with 1 tennis court, 1 basketball court and playground equipment.

Homestead Park
Located by Frontier Drive in Virgil, the park offers playground equipment and open space.

Lowrey Park
Lowrey Park is a passive park on York Road in St. Davids offering open space and park benches.

Memorial Park
Located at 370 King Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Memorial Park offers an outdoor pool, 4 lit synthetic surfaced tennis courts, an outdoor volleyball court, 1 lit ball diamond, 2 regulation size and 2 mini sized soccer fields, playground equipment, pavilion and public washrooms.
Memorial Park Pool (seasonal - June to September) 905-468-2804

Nelson Park
Nelson Park, off Ricardo Street on the Niagara River, is the start of the Waterfront Trail.  Parking and a gazebo are at the parksite.

Newark Park
Newark Park is located at Niven and Lakeshore Road and is a large park providing ample parking space (24 acres) but does not offer any services.

Niagara-on-the-Green Park
Located in phase 2 of the Niagara-on-the-Green subdivision near Wright and Young Crescents.  The park offers playground equipment, sports court, seating areas and open space.

Niagara Shores Park
Niagara Shores Park on Lakeshore Road is owned by Parks Canada and maintained by the Town’s Parks & Recreation division.  The park provides open space and beach access but has no amenities.

Queen’s Royal Park
Located at the end of King Street at the Niagara River, the park has a gazebo which accommodates small weddings (12 maximum).  Picnic tables and washrooms are also located in the park.

Rye Heritage Park
Located on Rye Street, this 7 acres park includes 2 asphalt tennis courts, basketball pad, playground equipment and one soccer field.

Ryerson Park
Ryerson Park on Niagara Blvd is a small passive park with benches.

Simcoe Park
Located at the corner of Queen and King Street, Simcoe Park offers a wading pool, bandshell, picnic tables, washrooms and playground equipment.

St. Davids Lions Park
St. Davids Lions Park at 1446 York Road houses the St. Davids Lions Pool, two asphalt tennis courts, pavilion, picnic tables and limited playground equipment.
St. Davids Pool (seasonal) 905-262-5120

Villages Park
Villages Park located on Regional Road 55 is 1.83 acres of open space with no park amenities.

William Nassau Park
This park is 4 acres in size and is located on the corner of William and Nassau Streets and includes a playground structure, open space and a Memorial Garden maintained by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society

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Bridge Loans – one way to reduce the stress of moving!


Bridge loans have become a very popular way to take possession of that new home without the stress of packing, moving and unpacking all on one day.  The stress of waiting for the deal to close before being able to get procession and if there is a domino happening (more than one house closing for the deal to happen) it may not happen to late on the day.  People are closing 2 or 3 weeks ahead of time to allow for renovations.


Bridge loans are short-term loans that bridge the gap between two different closing dates, more commonly used when an existing homeowner sells their home, and buys another home, with two different closing dates.   Best of all, it’s really inexpensive!

More buyers are taking a more relaxed approach.   Bridge Loans are gaining in popularity.. It allows for a more relaxed move over a 2 or 3 day period… or in the case of renovations, maybe 2 or 3 weeks.    It’s certainly less stressful and could even save you money if you are doing a bigger renovation (contractors could end up charging you a little more if they have to deal with a family living in the house during the renovations or if they are rushed).


One example on how much Bridge Financing works and what it costs…


In this example we’ll use a couple that sold property for $400k with a closing on November 1.   There is an existing mortgage of $250k.    They bought another house for $600k.   Closing is November 22.  They will spend $50k in renovations for a new kitchen and bathroom.   They want a $450k mortgage to cover renovations closing costs and take out some money for personal use. 

  Here’s how the Bridge loan works:


•Bridge loan amount would be $150k… we calculate this by taking the Purchase price ($600k) less the new mortgage amount ($450k).

•Rate of interest will vary but it’s around Prime plus 2.00% (today’s prime rate is 3.00%).

•Lender admin fees range from $250 to $500.

•Legal fees vary depending on Lender and Lawyer… $200 to $400.

•Interest costs are $20.55 per day.  Total interest would be $287.70.

•Overall total cost of the Bridge Loan would be between $737 and $1200 depending on your lawyer’s legal fees and Lender admin fees.


Some qualification, limitations and risks when getting a Bridge Loan

•Bridge Loans are only offered by the mortgage provider for your new home.  It’s a product most Banks don’t like to offer as there is really no profit for them.  They get nervous about the possibility of your existing home not closing.   There is some exposure and risk to the Bank… it’s limited but it’s there.

•Your lawyer will be required to provide an undertaking to register a mortgage if the sale of your existing home collapses (that’s not a common occurrence but it can happen).

•Speaking of sales… you must have entered into a firm sale on your current home to qualify for a Bridge Loan.

•Lenders will only offer a Bridge Loan equal to the down payment required for your new home.  This amount cannot be greater than the equity remaining in your current home.

•There is also the option of obtaining Private Lender bridge financing but this is more expensive and should only be considered as a last alternative.


Standing back and looking at the big picture, I think most of us would be happy to pay $700 to $2,000 for sake of being able to have an empty house for 2 to 4 weeks to do a clean up or reno, etc.


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Niagara-on-the-Lake has best value for visitors: Trivago


According to Niagara-on-the-Lake has been chosen the city with the best value.  The town has been named the best value city in Canada for 2015.

Hotel search analyzed cities across Canada based on hotels average price and the detinations' overall hotel reputation on more that 200 booking sites, and has announced the top 15 cities offering the best value in hotels, wtih Niagara-on-the-Lake at the top of the list. This ranking was based on 140 million user reviews, assigning each city a rating out of 100.

Niagara-on-the-Lake's average room price was listed at $203, with overall hotel rating at 88.5/100.  Kamloops, BC was second, with an average hotel price of $119 per night with an average hotel rating of 76.46/100.  Toronto came in at number 15, rated 77.7/100 with an average room rate of $179.

This shows that Niagara-on-the-Lake is considered a standalone, unique destination with a very strong brand recognition.  It is one of the greatest places to visit with a strond level of customer service and amenities.


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How to get the most from a home inspection


Getting a home inspection is a smart thing to do when buying a home as it could save your bank account some serious woo’s down the line.  Take a look at some questions you may want to ask.


Include an inspection contingency in the sales contract.


As a real estate representative we always insist on a home inspection clause in a purchase and sale agreement.  The buyer can then choose to do one or not.


Choose a qualified inspector


The best home inspectors have experience in the building industry and understand local building codes and requirements.


Ask what will be inspected and how long it will take.


The inspection should include a complete assessment of the interior and exterior of the house, from roof to foundation, as well as a thorough analysis of the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning systems. Ask to be filled in on any areas that were missed because they were too small or difficult to reach. On average, a home inspection should take two or three hours to perform. Larger and older homes may take a full day.


Be realistic.


An inspector can’t uncover everything, such as wiring issues covered by drywall or mold that can’t be seen beneath shower tiles. An inspector can tell you that the air conditioning system is 11 years old and has a life expectancy of 12, but he or she can’t tell you when it will fail. Also realize that most older homes have some deficiencies or areas of concern — be prepared to decide what you can live with and what you can’t.


Ask what kind of report will be provided.


Request a sample copy before hiring the inspector. If the report is little more than a checklist, choose a different inspector. A complete report should be several pages long (20 or more is not uncommon) and should describe what was inspected and what problems, if any, were uncovered. If there are serious issues or problems the inspector can’t diagnose, the report should recommend further examination by a structural engineer or other specialist.


Plan to attend the inspection.


The best way to understand what the inspector is reporting is to see exactly what he is talking about. If it is unclear to you whether something uncovered is a major or minor issue, ask.


Follow up on the inspector’s recommendations.


Don’t wait until after closing to get estimates for repairs, as some issues can turn out to be more expensive than anticipated.

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How much does it cost to move...




Atricle by Globe & Mail

Dated: March 25, 2015


Click the link below on a video of what it costs to move.

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The life of a roof which battles the elements day to day and year to year, keeps you warm and dry in the winter and cool in the summer needs a little of your attention each year. 


The Elements


Here’s a factor for every roof, no matter where it is. The sun’s baking rays slowly degrade roofing materials, while wind, rain and hail sometimes cause immediate injury. Snowy climates offer special challenges, from the sheer weight of snow buildup to ice dams that break gutters and foster leaks. The more extreme conditions are in an area, generally or in any given year, the more need for constant vigilance to spot small problems that could easily become large ones later on.




If the temperature in an attic is not close enough to the temperature outside, condensation can occur, promoting rot of the sheathing underneath shingles and of rafters. Proper attic ventilation often solves the problem.


Moss and Algae


In many regions, too much shade and too little sun promote the growth of moss and staining algae. Left alone, moss creates a perfect environment for moisture buildup under shingles, according to roofing specialists, and trapped moisture increases the chance of wood rot. Meanwhile, algae’s dark stains can affect a roof’s reflective.




A much-loved source of shade and beauty in most contexts, trees over a roof can be problematic — dumping leaves in gutters, dropping heavy branches and, if not properly trimmed, scratching away at a roof’s surface. Trees also offer little critters a way up and onto a home. Once they’re up, an attic looks awfully inviting.




Overhead shouldn’t mean out of sight and out of mind. Regular inspections and quick attention to problems will help any roof live a long and useful life.


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What is your home worth? A wide range of factors go into that question…


What is fair market value? Fair market value is the price a home will sell for, if put on the market for a reasonable amount of time. Buyers, sellers, and financers must all agree that the home is worth this selling price. The fair market value is also used by the tax assessor to calculate property taxes and by insurance agencies to set premiums.  There is no simple calculation in determining what a home is worth but there are factors you can use to arrive at an educated guess.


Here are several factors that play into determining home value:



LOCATION: What is the neighbourhood like, school districts, traffic, is there any new development going to be happening, any properties going to be rezoned?


FEATURES: Upgrades in a home add value but if you are putting on granite to a home that is in a not soo good area you maybe throwing good money after bad!  Upscale finishes and fixtures — high-quality wood floors, stone countertops, premium appliance brands —It’s still about location, location, location.


SIZE AND LAYOUT: Homes that are all similar in terms of size may vary by square footage price. In general, buyers place a premium on open-concept layouts, which tend to make a place feel bigger, as do high ceilings. In terms of pure square footage, giant is not always better. Buyers nearing retirement are less likely to want a gargantuan place or a second story — so an area’s demographics play an important role in a home’s worth in its particular location.


CONDITION AND AGE: Like people, some houses age better than others — due in no small part to how well they’re maintained. The older the home, the more important that it clearly show signs of proper, ongoing care. If the homeowner has kept records of services and repairs, all the better. A poorly kept house may be cheap to buy but expensive to own — and even difficult to insure.


CHARM: Again, like people, some houses are just easy to like. But bargain hunters should note that charm can be easy to fix. A well-built and maintained house with a cluttered interior, off-putting décor or an ugly front door can be a buyer’s best friend. It pays to look past the surface to a structure’s true value.


Professionals Are the Best


Both professional real estate appraisers and real estate agents can provide reliable estimates of fair market value. Note that appraisers charge for this service, but real estate agents don’t.

Real estate agents and appraisers who are familiar with the areas where you are buying or selling know more about properties in the area.


Note that even when these professionals give their opinions of value, there are no guarantees. Unforeseen factors can affect the ultimate selling price, such as when a neighbor suddenly decides to put three cars up on blocks in his front yard or a neighboring property falls into foreclosure.


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How much will you owe if you break your mortgage?


Article by The Globe and Mail

Published April 20, 2015

Click on the link below:

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Are you a New Home Person or An Old Home Person?


The great thing about real estate and buying a home is that not everyone is looking for the same thing.  There is a home for everyone and a buyer for all homes.   At different times in your stage of life also has an impact on whether you wish to buy a new construction or a character home.

Understanding the pros and cons of buying an older home verse new construction can go a long way in helping you make the right decision.

Some pros and cons depend on the neighborhood and can apply to either new or older homes. For example, existing or new neighborhoods may require homeowners’ association fees, and may have restrictive covenants that limit such things as exterior color selections and the style or addition of fencing and outbuildings, as well as the types and numbers of pets allowed. Some buyers would consider covenants a big plus; others might find them too restrictive. Whichever kind of buyer you are, know exactly what you’re getting into before you make an offer.

Other factors stem directly from whether a house is older or brand new.

Buying new

Picture perfect and low maintenance, new homes can be very appealing. Older places, on the other hand, tend to have more individual character.


  • Built to the latest codes and standards, new homes are generally energy efficient.
  • Appliances are under warranty, and all the surfaces are fresh, clean and new.
  • No major maintenance should be required for several years.
  • If you are building a custom home, you can choose the style, the layout and the surfaces you like.
  • Even in a tract home, if you buy early enough in the building process, you may be able to choose your siding and roof color and select flooring and countertops.
  • Layouts are typically modern, with open floor plans designed for casual living. For some buyers, this might be a con.


  • Cost per square foot may be higher than for an existing home.
  • Builders have set a specific price point for their homes, so there is limited negotiating room on price if any
  • Buying new likely means that you’ll have the expense of new window treatments.
  • You may be required to pay for landscaping and/or sod or seeding.
  • Because most new homes are built in subdivisions on the outskirts of a city, a new home may also mean a longer commute.
  • Most new homes are part of a development. These developments can be as small as a handful of homes on a cul-de-sac or as large as several hundred family homes. Your neighbors’ home may look much like yours, with similar floor plans and facades. For some buyers, that neat homogeneity is a plus, for others, a con.
  • Lots in a new development are often smaller than those in established areas and are cut in a similar size and shape. Mature trees are often few and far between.
  • All builders are not alike. Some build quality products that they warranty for a designated period of time and others do not.
  • Buying an older home


Older homes can be real charmers, and prices are often negotiable, but keep an eye out for major maintenance issues and ongoing costs.


  • In most markets, there are more resale homes available than there are newly built homes.
  • There is more variety in terms of style and architecture.
  • Existing homes are typically available in most neighborhoods, some of which may be more conveniently located than new subdivisions.
  • Original, now-premium features, such as hardwood floors and decorative moldings, might be part of the package.
  • Pricing may be more negotiable.
  • Lawns and landscaping are established, and the yard may have mature trees.
  • Window treatments are typically in place.


  • Surfaces may be worn or dated.
  • Appliances are no longer under warranty.
  • More maintenance and/or remodeling may be required.
  • Depending on when the home was built, the home may be less energy efficient and more costly to heat and cool.
  • A thorough home inspection by a licensed professional inspector is a must and may reveal problems that you do not want to inherit, such as a cracked foundation, a leaky roof or basement, or seeping sewage lines. If the inspection reveals fixable flaws, propose the seller do the repairs or lower the price.
  • Expect the unexpected. Appliances quit, toilets leak, and furnaces fail as components age.

Buying an historic home


Historic homes are easy to fall in love with. However, they come with restrictions regarding renovation if they are designated as officially historic.

If you have fallen in love with a designated historic home or with a home in a designated historic district, here are some facts to consider.

  • A home or neighborhood is deemed historic or architecturally significant by the National Register of Historic Places or by your area’s local historic board if it exemplifies signature architectural or period styling, or if it is associated with famous architects, builders, craftspeople, or homeowners from the past.
  • You may qualify for tax benefits for investing in an historic home, but tax levies in an historic neighborhood may be significantly higher than other areas.
  • The goal of a historic designation is to preserve a home’s original character and construction, so these homes are subject to restrictions aimed at protecting the character of the property and/or neighborhood. Rarely are homeowners permitted to add square footage. Exterior features, such as shutters, roofing and siding can likely only be replaced in kind. Because these selections are likely no longer available, they may need to be custom built or purchased from a salvage dealer, which can add significant expense.


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Important factors to consider when planning an in-ground pool


The placement of a pool in your yard is a big decision.  How much sunlight will it get? Access to electrical for running pumps and filters and does the placement of the pool make sense-is it near patio doors or deck.


Laws and Codes


Make sure you know your local zoning laws and codes concerning pools.   Many localities require both in-ground and above-ground pools having complete barriers/fences to prevent unauthorized entry and protect children.

Also check homeowner association covenants for guidelines and restrictions.




When choosing a site, make sure you are not placing your pool on a high water table or every spring you will see your liner floating . 




A sunny spot will let Mother Nature warm the water, plus avoiding trees reduces water-cluttering debris. Remember, though, that surrounding trees and shrubs, along with fences, can act as a windbreak to help slow water evaporation.


Utility Lines


Make sure there are no gas lines, utility wires or septic systems where you plan to have the pool.


Plan an easy out


Nothing is worse then having a bunch of wet children barrel through your home on your new wood floor to go to the bathroom or into the kitchen for a snack.  If possible try an plan for a small pool house that could possible house a bathroom and small kitchenette, a place to have towels, sunscreen and Band-Aids.


What kind of in-ground pool do you want?


There a three basic types of in-ground pools, concrete, vinyl liner and fiberglass. Concrete and vinyl liner pools are built on site, while fiberglass pools come preformed and are fitted into the ground. When contemplating pool planning ideas consider that costs, installation time, expected maintenance and durability vary widely for the three types.


Extra Costs?


Extra Costs for a pool include: pool surround or fence,

Decking, Landscaping,  Lighting ,Patio furniture and accessories


-by Cheryl Carmichael, Niagara-on-the-Lake Realty, Sales Representative

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Don’t Forget About Curb Appeal


Take a look at your home from the sidewalk—what do you see?  Does the landscaping compliment your home?  Look at the driveway, garage doors, light fixtures, shrubs and grass.  Do they need to be updated?  The garage door is probably one of the largest surfaces of your home.  Look at a new colour or new door to update.  Add some shrubs, fertilize the grass, go to the hardware store and update your light fixtures.



Home and Landscaping


Your home is the biggest item in your garden so pick out things that would compliment it,  shrubs that are not too small or too big as well as light fixtures that are proportionate to the house.  Have both perennials and annuals in the garden.  Perennials to have as a backdrop and annuals to add the accent colours in the garden—just like doing interior design in a home you have the furniture that ground the room and accent pillows to add the character.


More is better



When planting flowers for curb appeal,  create masses of color, and pick plants that vary in height.


But sometimes there is too much


When it comes to those large shrubs that are over taking your front entrance to the vines that are now crossing the yard and into the neighbours it maybe time to trim those back so they are maintainable.  Keep those items that grow quickly under control and in check—its important that plants looked cared for and well maintained.


Have a plan


Write down or sketch what you would like to see in your garden.  Look on the internet and get ideas.   Don’t forget about outdoor lighting.  Potential home buyers might do a drive-by in the evening to see what the home looks like.  Always start with good topsoil and mulching will help keep the moisture in the garden and cut down on the watering.


-by Cheryl Carmichael, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Sales Representative

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How to use an open house to sell your home


Selling a home in Niagara-on-the-Lake or anywhere for that matter can be unpredictable.  You need to advertise your real estate listing, and consider having one or more open houses to help sell the property. Here are five open house tips to promote and improve buyers’ offers.


Light in the home


Buyers love houses that are bright. Open the blinds and the curtains and hopefully the day of your open house the sun will make an appearance. If you have dark hardwood floors make sure the “swiffer” makes an appearance over the floors especially in the corners! Make your home just as attractive during an open house the same as if you are welcoming family in for the holidays—make people feel at home!.


Taking the pets out of the home


Take that puppy, kitten, dog, cat out of the home during an open house.  They can be very distracting for buyers as all they will want to do is pet them. If you can, remove all evidence that you have a cute puppy etc..  Put away the pet bowls, toys and crates if possible.  Remember not everyone loves pets and you want to keep the buyers focused on the home.


Advertise the neighborhood


Make a list of all the positives in your neighborhood and add them to your feature sheet.  This will help buyers remember your home and separate your home from the others.




Please do not cook anything that may have extreme odours the morning of the open house that will linger in the home all day...if you can go out for breakfast and or lunch that day to keep the odours down.  Use electric candles for ambience if you like, an actual lite candle is a fire hazard especially if children are entering the home.


Home Sellers please leave


As much as the home owner may want to be involved in the selling of their home it is imperative that they leave the premises.  This way potential home buyers can speak freely of what they like and what they don’t like.  Let the real estate agent do their job and report back to you after the open house.


In some cases Open Houses sell homes


Let your neighbours come and look around—you never know if they have family members or friends looking at moving to the area—they may be your best form of advertising.  Buyers need to see a property live—the virtual tour and pictures on mls are great but nothing is more tangible then a walk through of the home live. Hopefully this will get the seller a solid offer!


-by Cheryl Carmichael, Niagara-on-the-Lake Realty, Sales Representative

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There are certain buyers that want a new home on either a single lot or in a new development and there are others that look for homes to renovate to put their own personal touch on an existing home...there are several things to consider when you are planning to renovate your home.


You don't want to be the most expensive house on the street once you have completed your renovation as you will never see that money again--by all means if you have money like Bill Gates go crazy but for the majority of us we need that return on our investment for our later years.


Budget budget budget...did I say budget?? most important to stay on budget during the renovation.  Trust me it is very easy to get side tracked and start adding things to the project like a gas fireplace in the master bedroom, built in cabinets in the family room to name a few--yes those items will add value but if it's not in the budget don't do it.  Spend your budget wisely and plan for the finishes (which take up the majority of your budget by the way)  Do the hardwood on the mainfloor, good toilets and fixtures in the bathrooms as you use these everyday, put the quartz/granite in the kitchen, if you cannot paint hire a professional..nothing worse then having paint from the walls show up on your ceiling--these are what potential home buyers are looking at.  If you can have a 10% contingency fund set aside for those unknown expenses like replacing the electrical panel & wires, plumbing, beams etc..these are items that cost money and that you never see unfortunately but need to done--do it right!!


Living through a renovation is tough but having young children in the home is brutal!!! Keep calm, count to 10 and keep will have a beautiful home in the is worth it!! #notlrealtor


-by Cheryl Carmichael, Niagara-on-the-Lake Realty, Sales Representative


For a free quote on a home renovation please contact "The Carmichael Group", or check us out on facebook for pictures of our lateset project.

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In preparing to buy a home in Niagara-on-the-Lake, there are many unfamiliar or un-thought of expenses.  These expenses include:


A deposit is part of your down payment and is used to show the seller that you are genuinely interested in the property.  Usually this cheque is made out to the listing brokerage and are usually around 1% but can be as high as 5% of the purchase price depending on the home and area.


Down Payment

Most banks ask for at least 5% of the purchase price for a high-ratio mortgage and at least 20% of the purchase price is usually required for a conventional mortgage. 

Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium

With a high ratio mortgage you may need mortgage loan insurance.  The lender may add this insurance to your mortgage or you can pay the premium upon closing.  This insurance protects the lenders against mortgage default, and allows consumers to purchase homes with a smaller down-payment.

Appraisal Fee

An appraisal of your future home may be needed by your lender at your expense.  This is an estimate of the value of the home. Costs range from $250-$350 and is paid directly to the person/company performing the appraisal. You maybe able to get this fee waived as part of the mortgage agreement with your bank, make sure you ask about it!  If not, you may want to shop the mortgage around to other lenders.

Home Inspection Fee

Most conditions in an Offer to Purchase include a home inspection.  This is a general report card on the home which ranges from the home mechanics (furnace/air conditioner/electrical etc..) to the homes exterior (roof, shingles, chimney, windows etc..) A home inspection ranges from approximately $350-$500 depending on size and complexity of the home.  Larger or older homes may cost more.

Land Transfer Tax

All buyers have to pay this provincial tax upon closing unless you are a first time home buyer.  First time home buyers are exempt from this tax.  The amount is determined by the property’s purchase price and is paid at closing usually through your lawyer.  Land Transfer Costs in Ontario is 0.5% on the first $55,000, 1.0% on portion between $55,000-$250,000 and 1.5% on balance over $250,000.

Property Insurance

All mortgage lenders will require this as the home is the security for the mortgage.  This property insurance will cover the cost of replacing the home and its contents. This must be in place on closing day.


A current survey maybe required from the mortgage lender.  If the seller does not have one or refuses to get one then it is up to the buyer to attain a survey to satisfy the conditions of the mortgage prior to closing. Or you may get Title Insurance through your lawyer to avoid getting a survey.

Water Quality Inspection

If the property contains a well or cistern you as the buyer will want to get an inspection to make sure the water is safe.  This is usually a condition to the Offer to purchase and is paid for by the buyer.

Legal Fees and Disbursements

Legal Fees are paid on closing with a minimum of $500 and upwards depending on complexity of purchase.  Disbursement fees are those such as title search, letter searches, registration costs, pro-rated adjustments (property tax, fuel etc.) and miscellaneous costs which include photocopies and faxes.

Title Insurance

Title insurance relates to a loss or liability for loss due to the invalidity of title to a property.  Title insurance is designed primarily for two audiences: lenders and owners.


As a rule of thumb you can estimate 1.5% of purchase price for your closing costs. 


-by Cheryl Carmichael, Sales Representative with Niagara-on-the-Lake Realty


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