Archives for July 2012

Renovating your bathroom can increase your home’s resale potential

If you are a homeowner planning renovations to your home you should consider upgrades that will increase your home’s resale potential.  A renovation to a bathroom generally provides a solid return on your investment. A recent House Staging Report found that 73 per cent of potential buyers would be willing to pay a premium for a home that featured a renovated bathroom.

Start by measuring the space and sketching out a layout for your new bathroom. Remember that the layout of the new bathroom doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as the old one. A new approach is to not make the toilet a focal point. A partial wall will give a sense of privacy and block the eye, without chopping up the space the way a full wall might.

When it comes to lighting, think versatility. You will want brilliant illumination by the mirror and the option of more subdued ambience when soaking in the tub.

If you have an old linen closet, consider converting the façade to resemble a cabinet and perhaps take it right to the ceiling.

Bathrooms are heavy traffic areas, so remember to choose tough, easy to clean surfaces, moisture-resistant paint and non-slip flooring. Ensure you have a bathroom fan that meets your humility requirements. If you install a whirlpool tub for example you may need to upgrade to a more powerful fan to expel the extra steam and moisture.

Take design cues from your fixtures. The soft lines of oval shapes and the curves of pedestal sinks will feel very different from the artsy, ultra-modern look created by angular choices.

Before you buy a bathtub, try it out by sitting in it. Based on your height and the space available, you may want a longer or deeper tub than is standard. Or you may decide that you’ll do without one entirely, in favor of a large open shower space.

Keep in mind your budget when doing any renovations.  A concern when upgrading rooms to increase your home’s resale value is not to overspend.  There is a ceiling to how much your home can be worth. If you live in a $200,000 townhome for example and you install a $10,000 shower and granite counter tops your home is now worth the cost of an executive detached home and there is no buyer out there who will pay that much for a town home.

Choose your own personal styles and preferences but keep in mind the market you are likely to attract when you sell your home; 1st time homebuyers, families, singles or couple with no kids.  Choose fixtures and finishes that would be attractive to that potential buyer.

Are you dreaming of a new bathroom, but don’t have the time, money or space for radical changes? Don’t underestimate your current bathroom’s potential for improvements. A wall-to-wall scrubbing, including a clearing out of old and used items can be rejuvenating, as can a fresh coat of paint. Add some new towels and a shower curtain, a basket or two for storage, a change in wall décor, a plant (it will love the humidity!) and possibly an upgrade to your mirror, lighting, fan cover or faucets, and you can create a beautiful new space for a fraction of the cost.


Prior to becoming a real estate agent, Chantal Nephin graduated with an interior design degree and worked for various interior design firms in Ottawa. If you have any design questions please call her at 613-371-6024.

New Mortgage Rules Will Affect House Prices and First Time Homebuyers


As of July 9th the government will be enforcing new mortgage rules in an attempt to discourage people from taking on new loans that will be less affordable when interest rates rise.

The biggest change for home buyers is there will no longer be injured mortgages of longer than 25 years offered.  (Insured mortgages are provided for those who don’t have a down payment of 20 per cent or greater, currently 30 year injured mortgages are offered.)

This is a move to try and reduce the debt load of Canadians and to encourage us to pay off debt quicker.

Another change is the maximum amount of equity homeowners can take out of their homes when refinancing is being reduced to 80 per cent from 85 per cent.

There will also be a new rule to ensure a loan is not too large of a percentage of a household’s income.

Finally, insured mortgages will be available only for homes with a purchase price lower than $1-million – a measure to ensure taxpayers do not back mortgages for the wealthy.

The new rules apply only to new government-insured mortgages after July 9. Existing mortgages with longer amortizations can be renewed as usual. However, those who wish to increase their loan amount on renewal will have to amortize over 25 years.

Many experts agree that home prices are currently inflated, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver, and are due for a correction. But there is much disagreement about how much of a prod the market actually needed.

Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage, believes that the government, which had already tightened the rules three times since 2008, should have let the market correct itself at this point. He was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying:

 I supported the previous moves but I’m disappointed with this particular set of changes.  The market is clearly cooling on a national basis, and I’m concerned that what is essentially a Toronto problem is being attacked with a blunt instrument that’s going to hurt the housing market nationwide.

Mr. Soper argued that many experts are too focused on house price growth, while signs of slower sales in the last month suggest that prices will fall on their own.

National house prices were actually down slightly (May to May) and these averages are being inflated by a few hot housing markets – Toronto and Vancouver.  House prices in Toronto rose by 8.5 per cent in April from a year earlier, a recent five-unit “fixer upper” semi-detached sold for $227,000 above asking price!

The moves are likely to have the greatest impact on first-time buyers looking for mid-priced homes. Economists say the changes are the equivalent of a 1-per-cent increase in interest rates.


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