Home selling tip 101: Professional home cleaner is a must!

Home selling tip 101: Professional home cleaner is a must!

Prior to listing a home, having it cleaned is crucial for photographs and ultimately a buyer’s first impression when you are trying to sell and we will call this my Home Selling Tip 101!  Ever look around your home and think wow, this place is pretty dirty?  I’d say the chances are pretty good!  Maybe on a normal day, it doesn’t matter too much.  If you are trying to market your home to sell, however, a spotless home is a critical real estate tip that should not be overlooked!

I have noticed a need amongst many busy families for some help in keeping their home clean. Everyone is just so busy these days, whether they are working from home or at the office. The daily grind is really taxing and between commuting, dropping the little ones off at daycare, or taking older kids to their extracurricular activities (amongst a thousand other things), finding that additional time to clean a washroom or dust your built-ins is just that much more challenging.

I often have to hire home cleaners to help my clients get their homes prepared to go to market.  It doesn’t matter if the house is in Oakville, Burlington, Milton or somewhere else in Halton – the need for a clean home unites us! This deep clean before listing a house for sale is critical because buyers formulate their opinion of a home very quickly. First impressions matter and since the photos of your home is what is seen first, I make sure the area is spotless before I proceed with the photography and video tours.

When a buyer walks up to the front door, the glass cannot be grimy!  The exterior lights should sparkle and once they walk inside, a buyer will quickly decide whether they like what they see.  A bunch of dust bunnies, cobwebs in corners or grimy appliances may leave a negative impression. There are many places in your home that are overlooked during regular daily life but when you are trying to sell your home, you need to look at every nook and cranny and make sure that everything is polished and as clean as possible.

I have come to know Dominique, from Lavender and Pine very well over the years as I have helped her and her family buy and sell their home more than once.  She’s a wonderful, caring person with a very generous spirit. When she told me that she planned on opening her own cleaning business, I immediately started thinking of ways in which I could support her.

Lavender and Pine is a small business servicing Binbrook, Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Hamilton, Waterdown, Burlington and Oakville. Services include regular and deeper cleans, moving in and out cleans, pre-list cleans, Airbnb and commercial cleans. Dominique’s hard-working nature is evident when she cleans homes. There is a genuine desire to please the homeowner and make sure that her work is going above and beyond their expectations.  Her goal is to turn your home into a relaxing, tidy and spotless sanctuary and allow you to keep your free time free!

If you looking for some help to keep your home clean as a whistle, check Lavender and Pine out here.  I believe in her work so much so that I have created a promotion with Dominique to thank our mutual clients!

Top 5 Reasons to Relocate to Oakville, Ontario

Top 5 Reasons to Relocate to Oakville, Ontario

My personal top 5 Reasons to Relocate to Oakville, Ontario… the little Hamlet next to Toronto.

If you are searching for a new place to call home, the Town of Oakville is a great choice for new immigrants, a place to raise a family, and those looking to retire.

There are many reasons why online MoneySense Magazine has recognized Oakville as the best place to live overall out of a ranking of 415 cities, towns, and villages.  Their comparison criteria include factors such as safety and culture, access to transit, schools and health care, overall affordability, and the economy.

I have lived in Oakville with my husband for 14 years now and we understand the appeal… It is truly a wonderful place to call home!  There is a real sense of community here and as we raise our two boys, we can’t help but agree with the assessment that this beautiful lakeside town is an amazing place to bring up a family.

This is not your typical bedroom community as Oakville has established itself with its unique character, a revitalized downtown core with plenty of interesting shops and restaurants.  It feels like you have the better of two worlds here with all the amenities you need in a city but with a whole lot of town charm!

Oakville schools are truly top-notch

No matter what specific neighbourhood you choose, Oakville schools are truly top-notch.  As a Realtor with a genuine family-focus, a good school is often on the criteria list for the families I work with.  It is not uncommon for parents to have specific school requirements in mind when searching for a home.

Perhaps they find the overall ‘score’ of the school to be paramount.  A helpful website that lists school rankings is this one:  https://www.fraserinstitute.org/school-performance

While I believe there could be some value to the scoring system, I will say from the hundreds of parents I speak to, how the school ‘ranks’ seems to be less critical than the actual quality of teachers and the direction of the principal.

Other families will want to live near a school that offers French Immersion.  Sometimes regardless of what specific school it is, the main objective is to be within walking distance because they are a one-car household.

Oakville also offers a number of private schools and if that is a consideration for your family check out this great resource:  https://www.ourkids.net/oakville-private-schools.php

Currently, there are 27 public elementary schools and 16 Catholic elementary schools to choose from. Regardless, of the decisive factors that are important to you about school criteria, Oakville definitely has some of the best ones to choose from!

Oakville’s natural landscape

Situated along the picturesque shores of Lake Ontario, another major draw is Oakville’s natural landscape.   The great outdoors definitely surround you and it is not uncommon to find homes backing onto ravines, siding on lovely parks, or being near the waterfront.

Oakville’s 17-kilometer shoreline is home to two magnificent harbours and a plethora of lakefront parks, making it a hidden gem for visitors seeking to enjoy life on the water.

The Pileated Woodpecker, Turkey Vulture, Baltimore Oriole, and Red-Tailed Hawk are among the forest birds and waterfowl that may be seen in Oakville by both novice and experienced birders.

Among my favourite places to visit to appreciate Oakville’s beauty: Lions Valley Park, Bayshire Woods, Gairloch Gardens, Lakeside Park and Tannery Park to name a few!

My family finds that in Oakville, it is easy to stay active!

Enjoy the numerous acres of parkland, many of which have well-kept hiking paths. Oakville’s 200+ kilometers of recreational trails – great for walking, jogging, cycling- spread across the town’s neighbourhoods and link many areas.

Oakville is home to the impressive Bronte Provincial Park!  Here you can enjoy five hiking trails, tobogganing, cross country skiing, and swimming.

Oakville, known as the “Home of the Canadian Open,” has a wide range of golf courses and amenities to suit all skill levels. Spend the day swinging on iconic courses like Glen Abbey Golf Course, which has hosted the Canadian Open Golf Championships for the past 28 years!

If you have young children, have a look at my Facebook Activity & Outings group where I feature different parks, splash pads, and activity ideas that a young family can enjoy. Click to join here!

Oakville is safe & diverse! 

According to Statistics Canada (2020 data), the total crime rate here is 56% below the national average.

While English is the most common language, over 70,000 Oakville residents (out of a population of approximately 200,000) identify different languages as their mother tongue. The most common include Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, Urdu and Portuguese.  (Source: Environics Analytics, 2020 Estimate)

 The percentage of visible minorities in Oakville has climbed from 18% to 31% over the past 10 years.

Oakville, with its lakeside mega-mansions, is undeniably a wealthy town.  Oakville’s 2020 average household income is estimated at $192,562.04, with the provincial average at $111,866.84. Almost 65 percent of Oakville households earn an annual income of more than $100,000.

This is only one side of the story.  There are plenty of mainstream areas attracting families in all different stages of their lives.  New developments can be seen all over town offering something for everyone.  I help purchasers buy their very first condo apartment, townhome, semi-detached or fully detached home.

Accessibility and proximity to other major cities

Residents here enjoy the perks of a smaller town atmosphere but are conveniently located in proximity to other major cities.  From a commuting standpoint, Oakville is actually in a fantastic geographical position being 30 minutes from Toronto or Hamilton while also located between Mississauga and Burlington!  The GO Train and major highways are easy to access.

Overall accessibility is a benefit to reach other robust employment centres but is also advantageous for recreational and practical reasons.   I often find myself dining in the many lakeside restaurants that Burlington has to offer or enjoying a shopping spree in Toronto’s city core.  You can get to the many family attractions either going East or West (Oakville is 90km northeast of Niagara Falls) and Oakville has always felt to us to be ideally located for all these reasons.

If you need help deciding on an area to move to, I’d love to help you navigate our beautiful neighbourhoods and assist you in your home buying journey!  Contact me here:  https://www.eugenieeckler.ca/contact/

Fireplaces in Our Homes and Yards

Fireplaces in Our Homes and Yards

A fireplace can be the first thing you notice when you walk into a room.  Maybe it has a subtle presence or perhaps it is the focal point.  It will impact the ambience, enjoyment and overall design of the room.  

Beyond providing warmth, a nice fireplace can contribute to your space feeling cozy – something most Canadians probably want – especially during our cold winter months!

When home shopping with my buyers, more times than not, a fireplace is a nice addition in their opinions and very rarely do I have buyers telling me they would prefer a family room without one.

Traditional wood burning fireplaces have a certain old world charm to them for sure – crackle crackle!  Some things to keep in mind:

Logistically:  No remote control or easy on and off switch for these!  There is definitely more effort required to gather wood and to actually get the fire going.  They will make a bit more of a mess and of course, will leave the room smelling a bit smokey in comparison to a gas or electric alternative.

Maintenance:  You should schedule a chimney inspection every two to three years and ash removal as needed.

Safety:  Consider having a WETT inspection done by a professional.  This Wood Energy Technology Transfer inspection will be done by a qualified technician who can identify local code compliance standards.  (Your insurance company may require this to be done before insuring the home).  If you are making an offer on a home, this can be a condition within your offer to purchase.

If you are home shopping and see a home you love but do not care for a wood burning fireplace, rest assured that there are plenty of ways to work around it.  You can paint it, design a new mantle and/or trim, convert it to an electric or gas insert and even replace the hearth.

There are also many contemporary fireplace designs that can be incorporated directly into the wall.  More of these sleek linear options are popping up in bedrooms and offices and the options are endless.  

In addition, there are multi-view fireplaces that can be enjoyed from three sides and can work well to unite two separate rooms.

More and more outdoor fireplaces are being incorporated into our backyards and have become a popular element of outdoor design.  They enhance these gathering spaces for entertaining and even for cooking.

If you are looking to redesign an existing fireplace (inside or out) or perhaps you are seeking to add one into your home, hire the experts for a functional and safe outcome.  

Contact me for names of some reputable companies that can help you with design, installation and any future maintenance.

Looking to Buy a Home Outside the GTA?

Looking to Buy a Home Outside the GTA?

When you are choosing a good area to move to, I bet you might take into consideration good schools, safe neighbourhoods, access to major highways for commuting and probably somewhere that will provide good value for your money.

It is no secret that some families are leaving the GTA in search of more affordable housing in great up and coming communities. You may feel home options in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville & Burlington are too pricey and perhaps you are seeking even more space for your money and more bang for your buck.

If this sounds like you, check out what Hamilton, Ontario has to offer! Canadian Real Estate Magazine named Hamilton one of the best places to invest in real estate in 2021.

There are so many great home options to be found in this area while being nicely situated, just a short drive to Niagara or Toronto and anywhere in between! Hamilton continues to grow and offers amazing restaurants, a good transportation system, job opportunities and stunning nature.

Did you know that the region is home to over 150 waterfalls? It is promoted as “City of Waterfalls” and if you haven’t been to the Devil’s Punchbowl yet, you’ve got to check it out! There is SO MUCH to do & see in the area but I’ll leave that for another post.

In addition, the other five municipalities of the HamiltonWentworth Region should not be overlooked: Ancaster, Flamborough, Dundas, Glanbrook and Stoney Creek. Each area will have a different ambiance with plenty to offer and one of them may be a great place to consider home!

Ancaster: Offers a small town feel within an urban setting.  With many amenities located in the smaller neighbourhoods, you’ll find it is a very walkable community.  Founded in 1793, you’ll fall in love with the historic buildings in the Heritage Village.  This close-knit community is only a 15-minute drive to Hamilton, 35 minutes to Mississauga, or just over an hour to Toronto.  Be sure to visit Tiffany and Sherman Falls!

Flamborough:  This growing area is located at the top of the Niagara Escarpment.  Young families seem to gravitate towards the town of Waterdown because it hits the mark on overall livability and affordability. You can still feel connected to Toronto and GTA via accessible means of transportation while enjoying local festivals, great schools, recreation centres and parks.  Be sure to visit Smokey Hallow Waterfall!

Dundas:  If you love the outdoors, you’ll love Dundas – also known as Valley Town, being situated at the base of the Escarpment.  With lots of protected green space, this area is so pretty with its abundance of trees, hiking trails and gorges.  This quaint community exudes ambiance and charm as you’d expect in a small historic town.  Be sure to visit Webster Falls and Spencer Gorge!

Glanbrook:  Located in the South-Western district of the city of Hamilton, you will find the fast growing community of Binbrook.  This town is a really safe area to raise a family and offers lovely newer homes at more affordable prices as compared to some other areas of Hamilton.  Be sure to visit the Farmer’s Market, a highly anticipated event that highlights local growers and artisans and takes place at the Fairgrounds.

Stoney Creek:  This community situated along Lake Ontario offers lots of beautiful trails and waterfalls.  It attracts many families who still want to be within commuting distance of the hotspots of Toronto, Oakville and Burlington.  Be sure to visit Felker’s Falls, a hidden gem in the Conservation Area.  

If you are looking for a new neighbourhood to move to, I’d love to help you figure out what area can work best for your family’s needs and budget. 

My tips for safeguarding your home against intruders

My tips for safeguarding your home against intruders

Break-ins, while not common, can happen even in safe, family-friendly neighbourhoods such as Oakville and Burlington.

Often they can be crimes of opportunity where an intruder notices an easy target (your unlocked back door for example).

These are my tips to help safeguard your home and hopefully deter a potential thief.

LOCK UP: This is the easiest first step you can take! Consider installing deadbolts to all exterior doors or in some cases, upgrading any entry doors. Don’t forget to secure sliding glass doors, lock the door leading in from your garage as well as all the windows! Never leave keys under flower pots, doormats or in other “hidden” places.

*Pro Tip: When moving into a new home, have all the locks changed.

HOME SECURITY SYSTEM: These can often qualify you for a discount on your home insurance. Make sure to add the home security sticker to your front door as well. The key here is to actually use it! Activate your alarm and motion sensors when you are leaving your home! Strategically place any cameras to capture activity around entry doors or ground floor windows.

DOGS! Some breeds are great deterrents to thieves. If you have one, let your dog be seen and heard. Dog ownership, however, is not for everyone so you can try affixing a sticker (like this one) to your door! A thief just may think again!

BE HOME: (or at least pretend to be) Leave a few lights on if you are going out for a short period of time and utilize timers when needed. Some people even purchase an electronic device that simulates lights and flickers of a TV that they leave on while they are out!

HIDE THE GOOD STUFF: Thieves are typically looking for small items they can grab quickly. Hide your valuables, cash, jewellery and important documents. Use a safe and if storing it in your home, keep it out of sight.

*Pro Tip: Keep photos, descriptions and model numbers of your most expensive possessions. (If stolen, your insurance company may ask you for this information).

MAINTAIN SOME PRIVACY: If you have just purchased some new electronics, avoid leaving the packaging sitting out by the curb. Ask the kids not to leave their fancy bikes on the front lawn. Close your curtains when away from home or at night when interior lights make it easier to see in. Encrypt vulnerable information that may be stored on your home computer.

*Pro Tip: Periodically backup any important information to a separate drive!

STRATEGIC LANDSCAPING: Having some thorny bushes under your windows may help deter a thief from trying to enter that way. Keeping other hedges well trimmed will make it harder for thieves to hide while scoping out your place. Is your home fenced in? Consider some outdoor lighting (many options to choose from) that will keep your property well lit.

DO NOT BROADCAST A TRIP: Leave posting about your vacation until after you’ve returned. While you are gone, ask a trusted neighbour to watch over your home. They can collect your mail and any packages that are delivered and bring in the accumulating newspapers off your driveway. Arrange for your lawn to be mowed or snow to be shovelled if you are going away for an extended period of time.