Tiny Homes

Tiny Home

Have you heard about the social movement called the Tiny House Movement? People are choosing to downsize the space they live in and the spaces are smaller and more efficient. Why are people drawn to this? There are few reasons:

  • Enables a simpler lifestyle—less house to clean, to upkeep, affords more free time
  • Reduces their impact on the environment –using less electricity and heat, using less building material, you can’t just keep buying and accumulating ‘stuff’
  • Financial concerns—they are less expensive than a typical house offering financial freedom or less financial burden

Living with less is the philosophy behind the Tiny House Movement. They are usually less than 500 square feet and sometimes as little as 80 square feet. Oh I can hear the Property Virgins complaining! Contrary to what you may think, these tiny homes are not just attractive to first time buyers because of the affordability, but many more savvy home owners are choosing to downsize after having had the bigger more expensive homes.

Things to think about if you are considering it:

Micro Living roomJust having a bed for a kid to sleep on won’t cut it. There needs to be space
for a common area where you can hang out, relax. Clever furniture options with multiple functions are available– think Murphy bed that tucks away during the day opening up valuable space or a pull down counter top for cooking or eating on.

Privacy can be difficult to get, there should be separate space for the adults but remember noise is an issue too, so a place where people can have peace and quiet is important.

As kids grow up, they need more space.

Storage is an issue, perhaps off-site storage should be considered.

Using windows helps avoid the claustrophobic feeling.

It can be challenging for sure, people can be uncomfortable and you may need to exercise patience and you must be willing to change.

A big positive is that the kids can’t hide in their bedrooms on another floor, they are forced to interact with family members. We spent a short vacation with the whole family in one hotel room a few years ago and it was one of our best experiences because we had to talk to each other! It was great! Now that our son is almost 17 I’m not sure it would be as well received by any of us.

How popular are these? The stas suggest that less than 1% of homes are Tiny Homes, and even that stat may be high.

When you are dealing with a niche like this you have to consider that finding a buyer for it down the road may prove difficult. It’s a new concept here so there is no track record. Will this trend pick up and become popular? Will lenders start advancing funds on them? Time will tell!

Renovations That Could Decrease the Value of Your Home

Adapted from The Daryl King Team – http://www.darylking.ca


Often, renovating can be a great way to increase the resale value of your home. While it may not always be possible to recoup the full cost of renovations, upgrades and improvements to your home can speed up the selling process and ultimately earn your property a higher price tag. And then of course, there’s also the added advantage of being able to enjoy the updated space yourself for a certain time if you renovate before putting it on the market.

But in some cases, renovations can be disadvantageous. Not only will they not substantially increase your bottom line, they could actually decrease the value of your home if they give potential buyers a negative first impression.

Some buyers might be inclined to make changes to the property themselves until it is to their liking, or are willing to look the other way on features they don’t like if the other benefits of the property outweigh the down sides… for example, a highly desirable location. But if many similar homes nearby are also on the market, your supposed improvements might cost you a sale.

If you don’t plan on keeping your home forever, it’s generally best to keep your renovations tasteful and neutral to ensure they will appeal to the broadest possible selection of potential buyers when it comes time to put your property on the market. In a 2015 Cost vs. Value report conducted by Remodeling magazine, it was found that the renovations that bring the greatest return to sellers are new entry doors, new garage doors, and a new stone veneer exterior. Conversely, additions of a sunroom or of a bathroom and remodeling to create a home office were found to bring the smallest returns.

Below are some examples of things you could do to your home that might damage its selling price and make it stay on the market longer.

1) Converting a garage: Though converting a garage into an alternate living space can be a cheaper alternative to building an addition, many buyers would still prefer the original garage to an extra room. This is especially true in cold and rainy climates, where the room will never warm up properly.

2) Eliminating a bedroom or a powder room: Since many of today’s homeowners prefer large, open spaces, combining an older home’s smaller rooms into a larger living area might add to the property’s overall value. However, turning a bedroom into a walk-in closet, or creating a large master suite by combining two bedrooms, could harm the value of your home, as you are losing out on living space. It is almost never a good idea to eliminate a powder room… think of your guests’ comfort!


3) Personalizing too heavily: We all want our homes to reflect our personalities. But if you bring touches to the property that are too precise or unique, such as customizing the space with unconventional furniture or appliances, remember that such changes may not appeal to everyone.

4) Adding too much colour: If you’re a fan of colourful walls, be prepared to paint over them in a neutral tone when it’s time to put your home on the market. Everyone has strong preferences when it comes to colour, and potential buyers can easily be put off by anything too bright or striking. Neutral colours are a simple way to avoid a negative first impression.

5) Putting in a pool: We don’t all live in year-round sunshine. If your home’s location is subject to cooler and more volatile weather, it is less conducive for a pool. They can be costly and a source of hassle for their owners who have to close their pools during colder months, and re-open them every time the seasons change. Knowing this, potential buyers might not view a pool advantageously, seeing only the additional upkeep/maintenance costs instead!

6) Renovating without a permit: Permits for major, and sometimes even minor, renovations are required in almost every municipality. Therefore ensure that all improvements to your home are up to code. Ask to be provided with copies of permits – particularly discerning buyers will know to ask about them, and inspections are mandatory in some cities before a home is sold. Unpermitted renovations can ultimately incur additional costs if the city issues a fine or later decides the work needs to be redone.


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There seems to be a trend to paint over hardwood… is that what buyers are looking for now?

No doubt, design trends can be a benefit and may help sell your home faster, but the average home should gear to the average buyer in order to drive the demand for the home. If your home is in an area where the avant-garde design trends are what buyers are searching for then by all means go for it. If you accomplish the look you may see an incredible amount of interest and break records with your sale! Not everyone has the same taste in décor and design, so be careful not to eliminate a large segment of the buying population when you make choices. It takes a while for some trends to catch on for the general public. I sometimes hear buyers say things like, “I really like it, but I don’t think it’s right for my family and my furniture is not going to look nice here.” For anything like painting wood floors, painting brick and so on, make sure you know: a) how difficult it would be to bring it back to its original state b) if the demographic of buyers shopping for a property like yours are looking for that kind of detail.

Photo credit Sean Kilpatrick THE CANADIAN PRESS

For sellers… is it OK to restrict viewings to work with your work/life schedule?

When you offer your home for sale, it’s not a free-for-all for the public and the seller can retain control of showing times and other restrictions. However, when you are selling a home, you need to make it as accessible as possible for all buyers to get a chance to view it. It’s in your best interest. Generally speaking, the more buyers there are, the quicker the sale. Everyone is busy, so you will have showing requests at various times and every day of the week. Some people need to come during the day because they are on shift work, or the kids are at school. Others need to come at night or on weekends because they can’t leave work to view properties. If you are serious about selling, remember – a home that is easy to show is easy to sell. Try to accommodate every single showing request within reason.

I signed a listing agreement, but I’m having second thoughts about selling. Can I cancel? Will it cost me anything?

Signing a listing agreement gives the real estate brokerage the right to market your home for sale. If you are not truly prepared to sell your home you should let your broker know right away and ask them to prepare the appropriate paperwork to cancel the listing. You don’t want to put would-be buyers through an emotional roller coaster ride if you really don’t want to sell. As for costs, unless there is something clearly stipulated in the contract, you should not have to incur costs. Your realtor may have spent some money and a lot of time preparing the listing for the open market, so just be aware of that and try to be respectful. At the end of the day, nobody can force you to sell.

As a buyer, should you arrange a home inspection… even if the seller has provided one?

Savvy Sellers take great care in preparing their homes for selling, and in a brisk market where they are positioning their homes for multiple offers, they often take the extra step of having a recent home inspection report available to prospective buyers. The question buyers have is whether to take the report as the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or should they get their own inspector come through. Some people believe that the report provided by the seller will be manipulated or skewed to benefit the seller, but I have witnessed inspectors refuse to lie or misrepresent the report even when asked by the customer. Sellers are required, by law, to disclose any known issues, both latent (hidden) and patent (obvious).

The buyer can always perform their own due diligence and hire an independent home inspector. They could also contact the home inspector who did the report on the house to ask questions or hire them to come through the home again. Many times it is just not feasible for a buyer to hire their own inspector due to timing or cost and having a report ready to be delivered upon request to all interested parties may encourage an extra offer or two. In my opinion, any Seller who expects their home to sell in competition must have a pre-sale home inspection to provide to all interested buyers, no two ways about it!

You’ve just bought a home and the seller now wants to change the closing date. Can they do that?

The Agreement of Purchase and Sale will have many terms and conditions that both parties negotiate and finally agree to before finalizing a deal. If one party wants to make any changes after the deal has been accepted, it must be done through an amendment to the agreement, a separate document that all parties sign in agreement to the changes. Sometimes a clause is added to the original deal that gives one party, buyer or seller, the right to change the closing date. The clause will be written in a way that dictates whether or not they can do this unilaterally, by simply serving notice to the other party. On the other hand, it may say that the date can only be changed by mutual consent, in which case an amendment must be generated and all parties must agree. When an issue arises and changes are requested, they can be made the same way, through an amendment to the agreement, and no clause is needed in the original Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

Buying a home pre-construction

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Buying a pre-construction house or condo can be great, especially if you like working with a blank slate.  But there are some things to keep in mind:

Expect to wait.  Most projects take much longer than expected.  You might have to wait two or three years between the date you sign your purchase agreement and the date you move in.  If there are delays, you could wait even longer.  construction

Know your rights.  Builders can extend the occupancy date and all they need to give you is some notice.  If they don’t give you notice, you may be eligible for compensation.  I always recommend people read up on their rights on a site like Tarion.com.

Prepare for other costs: You may have to pay HST on closing and then apply for a rebate. There is a cap at $450K for either provincial or federal portion. If you are buying an assignment sale (just the ‘paper’ from an investor, you may get hit down the road for HST because of the original buyer’s tax situation…very confusing!!)  You must consult the experts, assignment deals and pre-construction deals can be tricky, lots of costs to consider like education levies. Sometimes you can cap them, and your lawyer will be able to advise you.

Work with a good lawyer: Every buyer should work with an experienced lawyer.  They will help you understand the purchase agreement, which can difficult to understand.   Also, as a buyer, you have a 10-day period where you can change your mind or have your lawyer negotiate changes to the offer.

Understand the floor plan:  Many floorplans are done to interior walls, not exterior walls, so you may lose space after drywall is installed. Contracts are very well-written. Many include clauses that say the builder can make changes up to a certain point.  So, if you’re buying a unit in a condo, it may look a little different after you move in.



What home buyers are looking for: Rooms to invest in

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You will find many reports about the return of your money when you invest in a new kitchen, and those reports provide good guidelines. Since I deal with buyers every day I hear what they say, and for many people, a kitchen that has a serious WOW factor can make the deal. A high percentage of buyers that I work with mention the kitchen in their wish list. For some, it’s simply a large kitchen, and for others it’s an updated kitchen that they don’t have to improve. Those are the expectations, but what happens when they are blown away by a kitchen? All bets are off!


A home purchase definitely has an emotional element to it, no matter how rational the buyers may be going in to it. If you can get them teary eyed about the kitchen, you’re winning. Many people want to avoid having to renovate a kitchen because of the expected costs or perceived amount of work and effort. Not everyone has a good enough sense of design to be able to put together a fabulous and functional kitchen layout, but many can appreciate your good taste and clever design.

So, what are buyers looking for? Functionality. But not just in the work space, I mean functionality for today’s lifestyle. For those who like to entertain, the kitchen has to be a show piece and offer space or seating for party guests and possibly a walk out to the yard. Young families want to be able to keep an eye on the little ones while they prepare meals in the kitchen, so an open-concept to the family room is key. It seems that for many people, everything happens in the kitchen, so it is an integral part of the lifestyle of the owner.

Backsplashes get a lot of attention, so picking current material and style is important, but remember to make it practical and easy to keep clean. As for appliances, it seems everyone wants stainless steel. In high end homes, the appliances must be of a certain calibre so don’t scrimp on those if you are renovating the kitchen.

Storage space. For the fast paced lifestyle it’s a must have, you want to be able to quickly put things away without having to solve a puzzle. Plenty of storage space is a must have in today’s kitchen. Convenience is key and space-saving options are a good investment.

Lighting is important, under cabinet, work-space lighting, and recessed lights, but also a statement piece that defines the attitude of the kitchen can take a bland kitchen to WOW.
When you can’t invest the money to redesign the layout, consider buying new cabinet doors and hardware. This can be very inexpensive and very effective. Quite often, a floor tile is outdated or broken, so investing in new tiles can make a dramatic difference, and adding a complimentary back splash can go a long way too. Then look at your table and chairs…can they be spruced up a bit, painted or maybe swapped out for a more eclectic look? Try to find some unique conversation pieces to build your colour palette around. Throw in a unique light overhead and voila, you have updated your kitchen to be cute and welcoming, tugging on the heart strings of potential buyers.



Home shopping with buyers has reinforced what I know to be the priority for home buyers: cleanliness. A clean, but possibly older bathroom will not deter that many buyers. They see the bathroom as something they can easily fix compared to a kitchen. A looming kitchen renovation can deter many buyers, but if the bathroom is clean and in good condition you might be ok. It just doesn’t seem to be as overwhelming as a kitchen renovation.

Curb Appeal

The way your house looks on the outside is very important. One thing everyone should keep in mind is that buyers are driving by your home to see if it’s the kind of place they want to see. In other words, it’s your home’s first impression to a multitude of anonymous buyers, and realtors. If I drive by a home that is ill-kempt on the outside I may not be interested in taking people to see it. My impression is that they have neglected things on the outside, so they will have neglected things on the inside too. Besides that, a home that has beautiful accents outside–soffit lighting, tended gardens, potted plants and manicured lawn will invite more people in to see it. The more buyers who come in, the better it is for the seller. I call those homes happy homes. They seem to be filled with love and joy. That’s what I want for my buyers, and that’s what most people want, even if they have not articulated it. And, believe it or not, a charming exterior will pull on heart strings of buyers who may be persuaded to overlook an out of date kitchen or bath.

When to Think Twice and Walk Away

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Know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em: when to think twice and walk away when shopping for a home.

Urban vs. Suburban Living: What are the pros and cons?

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Sandra weighs the pros and cons of living in the city vs. living in the suburbs.


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