March Break In The Maritimes
Staying put this March Break? That doesn't mean it can't be an adventure! One of my favourite parts of being a REALTOR® is exploring neighbourhoods across the province, so here are my top picks for family-friendly March Break activities in Nova Scotia.
1. Downtown artwalk
Did you know there are over 20 Murals located in Downtown Halifax? A self-guided tour of these murals and other public art pieces can be found on the Downtown Halifax Business Commission’s website.
I recommend starting your exploration at 5151 South Street where you can pick up one of Rousseau Chocolatier’s famous house hot chocolates before heading North to the downtown core. Make sure you have your camera ready!
2. Alderney ferry
Looking to make a day trip from Halifax? You can hop on the Alderney Ferry for free between March 14th to 19th and arrive in Downtown Dartmouth. I suggest lunch at Humble Pie, Canteen or Portland Street Creperie before checking out the 15 public art pieces on the Downtown Dartmouth Art & Selfie Walk.
3. The Board Room Game CafE
Weather not cooperating? Check out The Board Room Game Cafe. Located on Barrington Street in downtown Halifax, it features a large gaming area with a collection of 600+ games to play, an espresso bar, local craft beer and soda, a tasty menu, AND an extensive retail area. The retail area opens daily from 12-5, cafe open Thursday- Sunday 12-12.
4. Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia will be open for extended hours —March 12-20, consecutively— over March Break. You can explore their current collections including Witnessing: Alicia Henry, which is running from March 12th to May 22nd, alongside their extensive regular exhibitions.
5. Peggy’s Cove
The winter is the perfect time to enjoy this iconic Nova Scotia tourist attraction without all the crowds! Bundle up and head out to watch the waves and explore the rocks. On the way, stop by the new coffee shop/café Labour Day Picnic Café located at Paul’s Hall in Glen Haven. Grab a soup or sandwich off their “Lunch(ish) Menu” or a coffee and a sweet treat from Lure Caramels for the road.
6. Overnight stays
Make the most of winter on the Cabot Trail! Snowshoe by day, then curl up by the fire and watch the stars in a spectacular dome skylight. Cabot Shores has packages that include meals, snowshoe rentals, yurt or chalet accommodations, outdoor hot tub access, and a morning meditation or Qi-Gong session.
The Prince George Hotel
Treat your whole family (Dogs included - they have pet-friendly suites available) to a bit of luxury at The Prince George Hotel. Pretend you’re someplace sunnier and take your staycation poolside (indoors.)
HOW TO BUY A HOME IN HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA IN A SELLER'S MARKEt
Last year I shared some tips on purchasing in a seller’s market. With only 157 active single-family listings in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, this advice is as timely as ever. If you or someone you know is looking to purchase in this hot market, read on:
I’ve talked about how to take advantage of the seller’s market to get the best price for your home, but what if you’re on the other side of the equation? Navigating a home purchase can be stressful on its own—but in a hot seller’s market, there’s even more to consider.
In a seller’s market, there are more people shopping for homes than there are listings for sale giving sellers the upper hand. A seller’s market is characterized by:
As a buyer, you need to be ready to move fast, negotiate generously, and prepare for rejection. Maybe more than once.
Having an agent working to support you makes the process easier, so here are my top tips for buyers looking to stay competitive in a seller’s market.
GET PRE-APPROVAL BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING
In competitive offer situations, the first thing the listing agent wants to know is if the buyer is pre-approved.
Being able to send in a pre-approval letter with your offer proves that you are serious and gives the sellers confidence that the deal won’t fall apart on financing down the road.
While you’re at it, be sure to gather the income documents your lender requires (proof of income, proof of assets, and employment verification) in advance of submitting an offer.
In order to make your offer more competitive, you will want to shorten the condition deadlines as much as possible, which doesn’t leave much time to track down these documents after your offer is accepted.
I’ve talked about lending questions with Alex Lavender, Mortgage Broker previously and you can find out more about getting pre-approved here.
SHOP ALL WINTER LONG
Having a little less competition can go a long way in landing the right home. Some buyers tend to hibernate during the winter months in favour of waiting for the infamous ‘spring market’ when the real estate industry kicks it into high gear for the warmer months.
Winter is a great time to shop as sellers who list mid-winter are often more motivated and you’ll face much less competition.
STAY ALERT. SIGN UP FOR AN E-NOTIFICATION.
This ensures that you get an email alert the minute a property that matches your search criteria hits that market. You don’t want to miss out on “the one” because you went out to grab a coffee on your work break instead of checking Realtor.ca.
SCHEDULE HOUSE TOURS ASAP
Once a property you like becomes available, it probably won’t last long. Make sure you give yourself an opportunity to get in on the action by going to see it as soon as possible, even if it means being a little flexible in other areas of your schedule.
WRITE A STRONG OFFER
Unfortunately, a seller’s market is not the time to try and score a deal.
Ask yourself how upset you’ll be if you lose out on this house, and then write your offer accordingly. If you really love it, don’t be afraid to go in above the asking price. (And a heartfelt letter to the sellers included in the offer never hurts.)
HIRE AN EXPERT
Don’t get swept up in the seller’s market. Hiring a neighbourhood expert means having someone working in your best interest, so you’re not overpaying for a property or relying on over-offering to get the property you love.
There are lots of ways to write an attractive offer and working with a professional means having insight into the market so that you can write a winning offer.
4 SIMPLE WAYS TO BOOST YOUR HOMES VALUE
Whether you're looking to maximize your sale price or increase equity, there are many small projects that will boost the value of your home.
Here are a few cost-effective home improvement options that will result in an immediate return on your investment:
One quick fix that can seriously boost your home's value is paint!
A recent study by Zillow found that buyers were willing to offer $5,000 more when a home was painted in certain colours.
It seems so simple, but paint can really change the feeling of your entire home. Just imagine repainting a bright red kitchen with a cool gray. It would make the room feel totally different with just one change. And the best part? Painting a room is fast and inexpensive compared to other renovations.
When repainting your space to maximize the resale value, keep your palette to cool, timeless colours that lean more towards classic than trendy. These colours will appeal to the most buyers and make it easy for people to picture themselves living in the home.
We asked Christine Santimaw of Ramar Construction for her top neutral recommendations; "The number of whites is, truly, overwhelming, but my go-to is almost always Simply White by Benjamin Moore, a warm but true white that looks both crisp and cozy in every space. Just outside of the white family, I'm really gravitating to shades of what I best describe as 'mushroom' for both walls and cabinetry. It's a grey-meets-beige tone defined by tasteful elegance that pairs beautifully with a wide variety of countertop selections, especially creamy marbles. Favourites? City Loft and Balanced Beige by Sherwin Williams; Pale Oak, Stone Hearth and Kingsport Gray, all by Benjamin Moore."
2. Invest in energy efficient upgrades
With rising energy costs, energy efficient upgrades are a huge hit with today’s homebuyers.
We asked Karynne of Efficiency Nova Scotia for her top tips on increasing energy efficiency at home. Her first recommendation was to install a cold climate heat pump. Compared with electric baseboard heat, high-efficiency heat pumps can be up to 200% more efficient. And best of all, rebates are available through an easy-to-complete application through Efficiency Nova Scotia’s Heating System Rebates service.
She also recommended taking advantage of the Canada Greener Homes Grant and stackable rebates through Efficiency Nova Scotia. For only $199+HST, you can receive a personalized Home Energy Assessment on your home’s energy performance and customized recommendations to improve the comfort and efficiency of your home—lowering your bills and improving the resale value of your home. Rebates are available for upgrades such as:
3. Kitchen and bathroom updates
Bathroom and kitchen updates are always a smart move. Even if you can't afford a complete remodel, minor changes such as painting, replacing dated wallpaper, or replacing old light fixtures will update a room without denting your wallet. Start by swapping out just one item, such as a stained sink or ancient microwave.
For kitchens, Mark Higgins of InVogue Home Design recommends installing a tile backsplash to make your space feel larger, as well as swapping out cabinet hardware for a big impact with minimal investment. He suggests brass, gold and mixed metals for a modern feel.
More intensive updates—like replacing an outdated vanity, old plumbing, or swapping linoleum flooring for a new tile floor—will guarantee a lot of bang for your buck and give your home an updated, modern look. Mark recommends renovating the primary ensuite before any other bathroom for increased resale value. But if you're remodeling just to put your house on the market, keep it simple and neutral, because you never know what the future buyer's style is.
Real estate agents talk about 'curb appeal' for a reason. First impressions have a significant impact on the sales value of your home. Affordable landscaping and modest enhancements to the front exterior of your home can help increase its value to both appraisers and potential buyers.
When considering exterior upgrades, pay special attention to the entry points of your home. Repair or replace any damaged stepping stones, concrete paths, or pavers—then give the front door a fresh coat of paint and add some outdoor planters for a splash of colour.
Shrubs and colourful plants will add curb appeal to any home. The Gardener Halifax suggests giving existing gardens an update by adding evergreen shrubs or perennials that are native to your region with appropriate sun and water requirements. If you're looking for a quick update to existing gardens, add fresh dark-coloured mulch shortly before you list your home to give your yard a tidy feel.
Getting your home ready for sale can be overwhelming. If you have any questions or you'd like to book a consultation to discuss the best options for your home, send me a message or comment below. I'd love to chat about how you can get the best price for your home.
Over the past two years, the home has become more important than ever. It has become a classroom, workplace, fitness studio, and much more. As a result, we've seen an increase in home renovations as people adapt their living space to meet their ever-changing needs.
If you're considering an update to your home this year, here are 5 design trends to keep in mind for 2022.
Interior home design choices are directly influenced by what’s going on in the outside world. The past two years of instability and uncertainty have sparked a longing for familiarity and cozy soft furnishings in our homes.
2020 and 2021 saw a huge demand for Japandi and Scandinavian design, which both focus on simplicity, natural elements, and comfort. But as we move forward into 2022, brighter and more daring colour combinations are becoming increasingly popular.
According to Mark Higgins of InVogue Home Design, the kitchen, in particular, is seeing a demand for more colourful design choices. Think funky backsplashes, forest green cabinets and statement range hoods in bold colours and industrial metals.
The sentiment was echoed by Maureen Kennedy of Stage Right: Home Staging and ReDesign, who noted the shift away from minimalist patterns and textures in textiles. She noted that “In upholstery, we will see more experimentation with edge details including ruffles, pleats, tassels, and ball fringes. These decorative elements may have felt stuffy before, but paired with bolder colors and patterns, they can feel less traditional and more playful.”
2. Neutrals With A Twist
Despite the shift toward bold colour, don’t throw out all your beige just yet. Minimalism and neutrals are still relevant, and an added twist can make them feel fresh again.
Wendy Friedman of the Independent Mercantile and Biscuit General Store says one way to do this is by adding in pops of colour in a room’s textiles—minimalism and maximalism can coexist in the same space by keeping your white walls, but adding print and colour in rugs, throw pillows, and accessories.
This shift toward bolder design choices and the desire for a more sustainable, environmentally-conscious lifestyle is bringing antiques back.
Shopping second-hand (or accepting your parents' hand-me-downs) is not only more cost-effective and eco-friendly, but it also contributes to a uniquely personal sense of style at home.
These items tend to have more longevity, not only in the quality of their craftsmanship but also in their ability to outlive fleeting trends. Some of my favourite places to shop for antiques in NS are Timeless Objekt, The Refound Shop and the Funky Flea Market.
You can also find gems on Kijiji and FB Marketplace—one man’s trash is another’s treasure!
4. Multi-Purpose Living Spaces
Whether you love it or hate it, working from home seems to be here to stay with many offices opting to choose smaller spaces and keep their teams working remotely. With this change in working arrangements, the appeal of a beautiful and functional home office has never been stronger.
Unfortunately, the steadily increasing prices of our housing market results in buyers opting for smaller spaces with less options for that spacious, standalone home office.
This means maximizing the space you have, with flexible floorplans featuring stylish and airy room dividers, well designed storage to hide office and school supplies, and multi-purpose furniture.
Cottagecore was one of the biggest trends to come out of 2021, and it seems like it’s here to stay.
For those of us who aren’t avid TikTokers (myself included), “cottagecore” harnesses the look and charm of an idyllic country cottage. It embraces familiar floral prints and patterns, organic textures, and artisanal homeware.
Lucky for us, Nova Scotia has an abundance of on-trend handmade goods, such as hand-punched rugs, quilts, and pottery. Beadboard and wainscotting are gaining in popularity, but once again with a twist—we’re seeing it painted in bolder, deeper and more saturated shades.
If you're planning renovations to your home in hopes of selling over the next year and aren't sure what the best investments would be, hit that comment button. I would love to chat about how to maximize your home's potential.
New Year's Resolutions: Homeowners Edition
While the New Year may have looked a little different this year, the one thing that remains the same is the renewed sense of hope you get as the calendar year rolls over. The start of a new year offers a blank slate or fresh start.
Instead of the usual New Year's Resolutions, this week we're looking at resolutions for your home.
1. Get Rid Of The Clutter
Throughout the year, most of us acquire a mountain of stuff—and too much stuff can clutter up your home, making it look untidy and dated.
This year, resolve to go room-by-room and gather anything that you don't use, wear, or love and donate it to charity.
And in 2022, think twice before bringing more items home. Try the 'one-in, one-out' rule. For example, if you buy a new pair of running shoes, donate the older pair. This will help keep your home free of clutter all year round.
2. Work Out A Weekly Schedule
Cleaning the house can feel like an overwhelming task; it only takes a few days for things to pile up. Make a resolution to work out a weekly system for keeping your home clean.
Resolve to put your dishes in the dishwasher every night before going to bed. Put your clothes away each day instead of piling them on the chair and fold laundry as soon as it's out of the dryer so it doesn't pile up in the laundry room.
Break things down into smaller, more manageable daily tasks so deep cleaning doesn't feel as overwhelming when you have the time to tackle it.
3. Reduce Utility Bills
Make a resolution this year to reduce your utility bills and conserve energy throughout your home. This could be as simple as turning off the lights when you leave the room, turning down the heat or AC when you go out and making a conscious effort not to leave the tap running when you're brushing your teeth or doing the dishes.
Consider changing your light bulbs to compact fluorescents to help save up to 75% of your energy usage and upgrade larger appliances—like your washer, dryer, or oven—to energy-efficient appliances to save money on your monthly bill. If replacing appliances isn't in your budget, make sure to clean and maintain them as required so they perform at their best. (For example, if you clean your HVAC filters every 1-3 months, your system will be able to push that air through the filter easier, making sure the motor doesn't work too hard, thereby reducing its energy cost.)
You can also take this opportunity to also make sure air isn't escaping from your home. Warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer can escape through doors, windows, and ducts that aren't insulated properly. Make sure you're caulking and adding weather stripping to places that could be areas for drafts.
4. Organize Your Pantry
There's nothing quite like cleaning out kitchen cupboards and organizing your pantry after the chaos of the holidays. Check expiration dates, donate any extra food you don't normally incorporate into your meals—like the extra boxes of stuffing or canned green beans you didn't get to use this year—and organize your spices and baking goods.
Go one step further and add baskets and clear jars to organize your dry goods and make it easier for the whole family to keep the pantry organized moving forward.
5. Do A Safety Check
The beginning of the year is also the perfect time to do an annual safety check. Check your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers.
And finally, set aside time to schedule inspections and cleanings for your heating systems. Whether it's a heat pump, furnace, boiler or fireplace, these systems all need regular maintenance and this way, you won't have to worry about them throughout the year.
This year, I'm excited to work with even more people to secure their dream homes in Nova Scotia. If you know someone looking to sell their current property or find their dream home, I'd love to schedule a free consultation to help them get started.
LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS GIFTS IN HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
1. Pantry Gift Boxes
Obladee Holiday Gift Boxes make the perfect gift for friends, family or colleagues to enjoy. This year, Obladee has two options to choose from.
The cheese box includes four Nova Scotia cheeses (with product notes for each), a jar of their house-made festive preserves, special dark chocolate goat's milk fudge, locally-made Sea Coast Crisps, and a local beeswax candle.
Their wine and cheese box includes all of the above, plus a bottle of Sommelier-selected wine (your choice of Sparkling, White or Red) or upgrade your wine to a special Cellar Selection for $25 more!
The wine and cheese box is one of my family’s favourite gifts to give and receive. Order yours here by December 22nd at 12:00 noon to receive it on the 23rd.
Black Bow Gift Co.
When it comes to gift boxes, there are so many choices out there. What I love about Black Bow Gift Co is that they offer a huge selection of items, thoughtfully curated or individually selected by you, and the presentation is absolutely stunning.
One of my favourites is the Seasons Greetings Box, which comes with a variety of artisanal items, including a holiday adirondack ornament, cranberry, sour cherry and port preserve, gourmet basil and EVOO crackers, brie cheese, milk chocolate hazelnut pralines, and premium ground smores coffee—perfect for a Christmas day brunch.
All this, packaged artfully in a premium gift box for a picture-perfect unboxing experience with a handwritten card of your choice.
December 21st is the last day to order for pick up, local delivery or to ship anywhere in Canada.
2. Local Libations
Nothing says celebration more than sparkling wine and Benjamin Bridge makes internationally recognized sparkling wine right here in Nova Scotia.
Pick up a bottle of their Brut to toast before dinner, a box of Nova 7 cans to give as stocking stuffers, or even an annual subscription for your favourite wine-lover.
The winery is located in the Gaspereau Valley but for those in the Halifax Metro, they offer contactless free delivery, right up until Dec 21, or pick up as late as December 23.
Lightfoot and Wolfville
Lightfoot & Wolfville is owned and operated by the Lightfoot family who has been farming in the Annapolis Valley for eight generations. This year I've been enjoying their gift boxes since it takes a lot of guesswork out of delighting my friends and loved ones.
Gift boxes range in price from $50 - $100 and include a bottle of their fantastic wine and some Lightfoot & Wolfville merchandise. Their soy wine bottle candle in Chardonnay, Lemongrass and Tea Tree is one of my favourite housewarming gifts.
Lightfoot & Wolfville are offering free, contactless delivery in HRM, the Valley and South Shore. Order by midnight on Tuesday, December 21 for deliveries to arrive on December 23.
Have someone in your life who isn’t a wine lover? Good Robot Brewing Co. offers gift-wrapped holiday boxes with a handwritten card.
Choose from a huge selection of beers and fermented seltzers, or allow the experts to select a variety based on your loved one’s individual tastes.
Order up until December 23rd for guaranteed delivery within 2 hours in Halifax.
3. Last Minute Local Shops
In A Box Gifts (1468 Dresden Row, Halifax)
In a Box Gifts is a locally owned boutique that features one-of-a-kind clothing, accessories, home goods, and unique giftware.
Pop in as late as December 24 at 5:00 to pick up a gift you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Top pick: Their gorgeous wool throws would make the perfect gift to tuck under the Christmas tree.
Trainyard General Store (137 Portland Street, Dartmouth)
Trainyard General Store offers handcrafted whimsical & practical gifts from Canadian small businesses, holiday gifts, cards and stationery, accessories, kids toys and books, even gifts for your pets.
Best of all, they’re open until 3:00 on the 24th.
Top pick: Trainyard General is one of six local retailers where you can pick up Brad Hartman’s Pop-Up Halifax.
Kept Gifts & Housewares (75 King St, Dartmouth)
Kept Gifts & Housewares offers a balance of locally sourced goods and fine gifts & home decor. They offer an extensive variety of cards, ornaments and holiday decor; there is truly something for everyone!
And, even if you’re down to the wire at 5:00 pm on the 24, they’ve got you covered.
Top pick: Paper Hearts East Coast Ornaments are the perfect addition to any holiday tree. Choose from one of eight local landmarks, such as the Bluenose, Sullivan’s Pond Geese, the Ferry or Woody the Talking Xmas Tree
Check out these awesome local holiday gifts
The holiday season is upon us and you might be wondering what to get the special people in your life. This year, consider giving a gift that will leave a lasting impression by supporting local businesses. We've put together our annual Local Gift Guide which includes some of our favourite local businesses, plus where you can find them in-store and online. P.S. Don't forget to check out their Black Friday deals!
Online only: Cheerfetti
Cheerfetti has a number of holiday items available, both individual gift items as well as gift boxes made up for you, so you can skip the wrapping this year: Holiday Collection 2021
Want to shop for Nova Scotia Artisans specifically? They also have a number of everyday items that make great holiday gifts, many of which are made in our province. You can shop Cheerfetti by theme and choose: Made In Nova Scotia
Follow her on Instagram to get her Black Friday sale details!
2. The Lemonade General Store
This holiday season The Lemonade General Store will continue to offer its high-quality & convenient gift basket options, including luxurious necessities like Erbe Solingen nail grooming kit and silk patchwork ties made in Sicily! More international cheeses have arrived to restock on their favourite local board spreads as well.
Try their small-batch ice cream available for take-out starting November 15th, including a Roquefort and honey addition.
3. 11 Street Boutique
11 Street Boutique aims for each customer to find that "special piece"—whether that is a bold printed dress or an amazing classic white tee—making them the perfect place to help you with your holiday list.
For Black Friday, you can enjoy 20% off regular-priced merchandise + a 40% off sale rack, followed by a surprise cyber Monday sale!
4. Eunoia Lifestyle Shop
Eunoia Lifestyle Shop is a place in North End where you can find joyfully created & thoughtfully curated collections! They offer a range of products including home decor, a large selection of unique gifts, biodegradable balloons, stationery & accessories, and more.
For Black Friday you can enjoy 20% off in-store and online by using the code: blackfriday20%
5. Ana + Zac
Ana + Zac thinks about fashion in a slow and holistic way. They acknowledge trends but move in their own direction, at their own pace. They make things that they both love, can wear every day and that will last a long time.
For Black Friday you can look forward to 15% off Ana + Zac instore brand. Check out their holiday guide for more ideas.
6. The Independent Mercantile Co
The Independent Mercantile Co was born from a love of travel, love of hosting, love of decorating, love of cooking, love of plants & gardening, love of parties and love for Halifax. They have lots of new inventory in the upcoming weeks, including holiday items, barware, lovely gifts and decor.
They are also having a wreath pop up on Dec 4th from Foraged Cove Wreaths.
7. Biscuit General Store
Biscuit General Store is an independent boutique offering stylish clothing, accessories & gifts. They have lots of new holiday stock including Christmas ornaments & candles. Looking for gifts under $25 with bonus points for being Canadian-made? This shop is your go-to.
Inkwell is a modern handmade boutique and letterpress studio located in downtown Halifax, with an abundant selection of specialty printed paper products and handmade delights made with love, by artists from around the corner and across the world.
November 26th-29th in-store and online, Inkwell is celebrating Small Business Weekend!:
Spend $75+ Save $10 + Free Inkwell Tote Bag with code: SHOPSMALL10
Spend $150+ Save $20 + Free Inkwell Tote Bag + Free Shipping with code: SHOPSMALL20
Spend $300+ Save $50 + Free Inkwell Tote Bag + Free Shipping with code: SHOPSMALL50
*Total before tax. One code /purchase. Discount codes cannot be combined.
November 30th: A percentage of revenue on that day will be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association (Nova Scotia Division) for Giving Tuesday.
Did we miss your favourite place to shop for the holidays? Comment below so we can share them on Instagram!
Having your offer accepted is only the first step in hanging the sold sign on your dream home. Once your offer is accepted, it's time to get your Real Estate Lawyer involved.
This week, I caught up with Charlotte Edwards, Associate Lawyer at Kennedy Schofield Lutz Lawyers to break down what your Real Estate Lawyer will do during this vital time in your home purchase:
1. What is the role of a real estate lawyer?
A real estate lawyer helps clients who have an accepted offer to buy or sell their property complete the transaction. The initial step is for the lawyer to review the purchase and sale agreement and discuss it with the client to confirm all details.
For a client who is buying a property, it is important for the real estate lawyer to review the title in detail with their client to make sure things like access, easements, and restrictive covenants are clear, and to answer any questions the client may have. The lawyer will also prepare all mortgage documents to sign with the client, in addition to the documents necessary for the purchase. The lawyer is responsible for collecting money from the client and bank, and transferring it to the other side in exchange for the deed and confirming that all mortgages and secured interests currently impacting the title will be cleared prior to closing.
For a client who is selling their property, the lawyer will prepare the deed for execution, as well as payout the mortgage. If the property is not migrated, it will also be important to migrate the property to the land registration system prior to closing. Regularly people are not familiar with migration, which requires a detailed title search confirming a clear root of the title. The migration process became a requirement on sale in the early 2000s.
Throughout the process, the lawyer works collaboratively with the real estate agent to ensure the transaction runs as smoothly as possible, including responding to questions from the opposing party and negotiating holdbacks or credits on closing day.
2. What is the process for finding and working with a real estate lawyer?
The most common way I find that people come to me is through recommendations of someone they know and trust – like a family member, friend, realtor, or mortgage broker. However, you can always search online for a lawyer as well. It is important for you to be comfortable with the real estate lawyer, and typically I organize an initial phone call to speak with the client to answer any questions they have. Throughout the process, there is an open dialogue that occurs through phone calls or e-mails to answer questions. Closer to closing, the lawyer will schedule a meeting in-person or by zoom to review all documents necessary for signature and collect everything needed to close.
3. Things you should have ready for your real estate lawyer.
A lawyer will often provide a list in their retainer letter of the specific items needed for your transaction. A lawyer will always need to see a valid government-issued photo ID to verify your identity.
For a purchase, some of the things your lawyer will need are contact information for your mortgage broker or bank, confirmation of insurance, copies of satisfactory water tests, proof of assumption of leased equipment, and a certified cheque or bank draft with your down payment and closing costs.
For a sale, some of the things your lawyer will need are a copy of your most recent tax bill and confirmation of payment, a recent statement noting your mortgage account number so a payout can be ordered, a fuel top-up slip if there is oil or propane as a heat source on your property, a septic pump-out receipt, and receipts for any renovations required to be completed prior to closing.
Every real estate transaction is unique, so these are just a few common items, but never be afraid to ask your real estate lawyer a question – it’s their job, and the job of your real estate agent to help guide you through the process of your real estate transaction and make it as smooth as possible.
Whether you love the cold weather or can't wait to fly south for the winter—the cold winter months are coming and it's time to take advantage of the milder weather to get your home ready.
Getting your home ready for the changing seasons is one thing you can do to protect your investment over time. Taking care of small details like re-painting your window trim or sealing cracks in your driveway will save you a lot of money in the long run.
This week I caught up with 3 housing industry professionals for their top tips on preparing your home for Winter.
1. Ed Pottie, Home Inspector (Greener Inspections)
When it comes to getting your home ready for winter, I would say my top tip would be to be sure that your wood-burning appliances (ie woodstoves, fireplaces and pellet stoves) are clean and ready to go.
The chimneys and flue pipes for these should be cleaned and inspected prior to use, as well as the burning units themselves. A buildup of soot and creosote is a fire hazard and is the main cause of chimney fires.
If you have a propane fireplace, you're in the clear—but remember to get your tank filled before the cold hits.
2. Amanda Allum, Owner (Tidy Hali Cleaners)
My top tip when it comes to getting your home cleaned for the winter is to start with your entryway!
A doormat and a well-placed boot tray will make a huge difference for your floors when the snow comes and you're trekking salt and slush into the house. Have some wet wipes handy for your four-legged friends, they get dirty feet too!
Organizing your coat rack or entryway closet to make room for winter gear will keep things tidy as well. This is a great time to minimize and donate anything that you're no longer excited about.
It's a small space to focus on but when you can enter and exit your home without searching for matching gloves or stepping in a wet spot, your whole day becomes a little easier.
3. Rob Corey, Landscaper (The Gardner Halifax)
Autumn is an incredibly busy time for getting your yard ready for the winter. If you're looking to have a lush lawn and beautiful flower beds come springtime, now is the time to put in the work around the yard.
If you have time to do only one thing in your yard, I would recommend removing all of the fallen leaves off your lawn. Piles of dead leaves left on your lawn all winter can smother your grass and cause snow mould on your lawn.
If you're keen on keeping your leaves to provide shelter for bugs and food for birds through the winter, consider using a leaf blower to move your piles of leaves into garden beds. Just make sure you clear them out come early spring.
If you're still not sure where to get started when it comes time to get your home ready for the winter, comment below or set up a free consultation.
As the fall brings in crisper weather and the leaves start changing, many Nova Scotians are planning their autumn travel to find the best places to enjoy the colours of the season.
This week, I caught up with Kayla Short, award-winning lifestyle blogger and Instagrammer behind Short Presents.
Q. What are your top 5 travel destinations in Nova Scotia for the Fall?
Can I say anywhere in NS? I don’t think you can make a bad choice!!
End to end, Nova Scotia is amazing in the Fall! Definitely can't make a wrong decision when it comes to touring around the province this time of year. With so much nature around us, I would say our province really does come alive in the autumn. If you’re going to twist my arm (lol) some of my faves would be:
1) Cape Breton - I might be slightly biased, because I grew up there, but there’s something pretty spectacular about the crisp fall air coupled with the truly stunning colours of the leaves that’s really worth seeing in person! And those rolling hills?? I mean, what’s not to love? If you happen to do the Cabot Trail be sure to check out the new Gandella at Cape Smokey!
2) Annapolis Valley - Apple picking, haunted houses, corn mazes, and wineries? It’s a must!
3) Sensea Spa in Chester - arguably amazing any time of the year, but definitely a must if you're looking for some much-needed R&R. Be sure to book early as spaces fill up quickly, but don’t be afraid to check back to the site, as people do cancel! Might I also suggest dining at the Rope Loft while you're in the area? Fun fact, did you know the Rope Loft is the oldest building still in commercial use in Nova Scotia?? Pretty cool right. Food is also pretty great!
4) Halifax - there is always something going on in the city! Our culinary scene here is pretty great and I love that most Halifax restaurants change their menus seasonally, so it’s fun to stop in to see what’s new!!
5) Windsor - known for producing some of the world’s largest, world record-setting pumpkins? I’d say it’s worth a visit in the fall! Do yourself a favour and take the old highways to get there to experience some of the best fall colours!
Q. Your favourite businesses to make time to visit in the fall?
Oh my goodness I wouldn’t even know where to begin! I love them all.
I would say start making a bucket list—I have a whole section of my blog dedicated to my travels to get you started!—and every time it’s a nice day, or you feel like getting out and about, tick a few more items off your list.
Be sure to mix it up, visit lots of restaurants, cafes, markets and take time to do lots of activities while they're available. I definitely try to support local as much as I can all year, but some places do close up for the winter so it’s great to get out and support them while you can!!
Q. Favourite places to stay in the fall in NS?
So many places!! We tend to visit family on the long weekends in the fall, so you’ll always find us in Cape Breton!
However, I JUST did an amazing stay at the brand new, La Have Cabin which you should definitely put on your bucket list. Located on the water’s edge, it was seriously the most relaxing place!! It feels like you’re sleeping on the ocean, and listening to the waves of the ocean is so unbelievably calming. The wood-fired hot tub is a nice touch on cool fall evenings too!
Definitely check out my Instagram for more details @shortpresents. You never know where I’ll be headed next!
Real Estate Advisor based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I help people buy and sell homes with Engel & Völkers.